Text Size:-+

~ July 2005 Archives ~



The New Wine Regions To Watch

Where is the new hot wine going to come from? What will be the next Napa? The next Barossa Valley? Everyone has their speculations, public and private, big and small. Jancis Robinson has recently made hers: Waitaki, New Zealand Vale do São Francisco, Brazil Limari­, Chile Santa Rita Hills, California Queensland, Australia The Upper Agly Valley, Southern France Philadelphia, South Africa This is a great list. Mostly because I haven't heard of most of them. Who knew, for instance, that there was a serious wine region in Brazil? The Wine Spectator's recent issue highlighted another region that I've had my... continue reading


Motes In The Vineyard: The Next Big Thing

Start the Mission Impossible theme song and put on your night vision goggles, because spy technology is coming soon to a vineyard near you. OK maybe not spy technology per se, but a pretty cool new technology called wireless mesh sensor networks. I've written about them briefly before on Vinography, but they're apparently now ready for prime time. A wireless mesh sensor network is basically a whole bunch of little sensors, sometimes known as "motes" or "nodes," about the size of a quarter that are placed in regular intervals anywhere from 30 to 500 feet apart in the vineyard. These... continue reading


A Photo Survey of Modern Food Artistry

This was too good not to pass along. Steve Plotnicki, of Opinionated About Dining, does more fine dining than just about anyone I know, and he's recently put up a photographic tour through what he considers to be the finest dishes being served on the planet today. And boy are they amazing. These photos of appetizers, entrees, and desserts from Europe's finest restaurants are a great overview of what some of the most creative chefs in the world are doing both in terms of ingredients and presentation. NOTE: there's something screwy about the slideshows where they don't actually show you... continue reading


The Great Australian Wine Classification

Well knock me down and bowl me over, I had no idea that someone had attempted to classify the top 101 Australian wines in imitation of France's 1855 classification that gave us the Grand Crus, Premiere Crus, etc. Let alone that it would be in its fourth incarnation since 1991! But as I stumbled around Jancis Robinson's web site yesterday, there it was. A list of the estates, broken down by category, with specific criteria for each. Wonders never cease. Here's the deal. Apparently, a few folks at Langton's, one of the premiere wine auction houses in Australia decided to... continue reading


Ambullneo Vineyards, Central Coast, CA: Current Releases

With all the fuss and focus these days on single vineyard wines, it's both funny and appropriate to find someone swinging the other way. Though I'm sure Ambullneo Vineyards proprietors Greg Linn and Scott Ames are deeply serious. Linn has decided to build a winery based on creating blends of some of the state's top fruit purchased in small quantities from select vineyards. Says Linn on their web site, "Not being at the mercy of single vineyards enhances the quality of every vintage. Yes, great vineyards can make great wines. But adeptly blending several great vineyards creates unique wines of... continue reading


Vinography on Wine vs. Beer

Here at Vinography, I try to bring you news that's worth talking and thinking about. There are lots of news stories in the world of wine every day. Roughly about 400 by my estimate. And most are junk, or at least "yawners." I tend to skip things like the recent declaration by US and European wine producers to protect the valuable appellation names. It's just sort of a non-story if you ask me. I was also going to let the recent announcement that wine has overtaken beer as America's drink of choice pass without comment as well, because it's only... continue reading


Bonham's & Butterfields Wine Auction Tomorrow, 7/30

Got a little extra cash to burn? Wanna stock up your cellar with a few choice wines? Wanna get that special bottle of 1994 Harlan Estate Cabernet you've always wanted? Well wine auctions are the quickest way to lighten your wallet in the wine world (short of buying a winery) but they are also the only way to get your hands on wine that you haven't had the foresight (or the budget) to buy ahead of time and cellar for yourself. Tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM the Bonhams & Butterfields Fine and Rare wine auction will be taking place in... continue reading


More Sniping at the Top of The Wine World

If it's not one thing, it's another. The American wine critics and the European ones seem to make it a habit to disagree on nearly everything, but its rare that they lash out with personal attacks. It does happen though. Last year it was a fierce battle of ego and interpretation of a particular vintage of Chateau Pavie. This week it's a general character assassination of Robert Parker by the venerable Hugh Johnson in his latest book. Johnson called Parker the "dictator of taste" and compared his critical work to the "imperialist" government of the United States, saying he "deals... continue reading


Vinography and Manresa Present The 'Drink Small' Wine Dinner

Vinography, in conjunction with Manresa Restaurant, is proud to announce The "Drink Small" Wine Dinner, on Thursday, September 22, 2005. Following on the success of the first such dinner, I happily announce the second Vinography wine dinner at Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos. Please join me for an evening of phenomenal food, excellent wines, and of course, stories about both centering on the theme "Drink Small." For this dinner I have selected several small production wines from some of California's best boutique producers and have collaborated with Chef David Kinch to develop a special five-course menu to pair with the... continue reading


2002 Summerwood "Diosa" Syrah, Paso Robles, CA

If there is one "hot young" wine region in California, it would have to be Paso Robles. For the last few years, wines from this area of the Central Coast have been popping up everywhere, and many of them are meeting with critical acclaim. One of the reasons that new wines keep showing up is that new wineries are starting all over the place. One of the recent additions to scattershot colonization of the vine friendly landscape of Paso Robles is Summerwood Winery. The Summerwood operation is a reincarnation of an existing property and winery that were both completely... continue reading


HEY YOU: Please Take the Vinography Reader Survey

I've now been chattering on here for a good 18 months or so. You know all about me. When and where I got married, where I went on my honeymoon, what I drank. You know my favorite haunts in San Francisco and Chicago. Heck, some of you even know what I look like. But I know nothing about you. Well, I'd like to change that. So if you don't mind giving me three or four minutes of your time, would you please play 20 questions with me? Just in case you're worried, the survey is totally anonymous (I don't ask... continue reading


Weinbau Wenzel, Neusiedlersee, Austria: Current Releases

When Michael Wenzel says his family is in the wine business, he means it. Every bottle that comes out of his small operation in the (perhaps aptly named) town of Rust where his family cellars are is stamped with the phrase: "since 1647." But that doesn't quite begin to tell the history of this family's relationship with wine in a single spot for over 500 years. Some of the things that might are the stone wall that still stands which was erected to keep out the Turks; or the 100+ year old wooden wine press which was just put out... continue reading


Good Things From The Garden (The Terroir Blues)

CK Mondavi used to have a slogan: "Every year's a Vintage year in California!" Like most marketing slogans, it seemed to say quite a bit without really saying anything at all. The thought behind the slogan became the cornerstone of California's first real efforts to authenticate itself, as a producer of high-quality wine, in the minds of a mostly non-wine-drinking culture. Although the great French wine regions could boast, for the most part without much argument, that they produced the world's greatest red and white table wines, they had to contend with inconsistent weather from one year to the next,... continue reading


Please Welcome Steve Edmunds

Dear readers, I am pleased to announce the addition of a new voice to Vinography. Steve Edmunds, proprietor and winemaker at Edmunds St. John winery in Berkeley will be a regular contributor to Vinography moving forward. Steve will be writing about his relationship with wine, his adventures in winemaking, and the unique perspectives he has on the mingling of his business, his life's work, and his passions. I hope you'll give Steve a warm welcome, and I hope you enjoy his writing as much as I do. Here is the official press release: For Immediate Release: July 25, 2005 WINEMAKER... continue reading


Move Over Sharpshooter, There's a New Bad Bug In Town

Being a winegrower is tough enough, but now apparently winegrowers in Italy have to deal with Biblical plagues in order to get their fruit in on time. Thanks to a tip from Andy over at Spittoon, we learn that many winegrowers in the Barbera and Spumanti regions surrounding Rome are facing massive swarms of locusts that can only be described in Biblical proportions. No one knows what changes your average friendly grasshopper into a mad swarming locust, but get enough of them together and they will not only change physiologically, but they will also go on rampages that will literally... continue reading


2001 Domaine du Caillou "Les Quartz" Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Rhone), France

There's something mysterious about a good Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Not just because the blend of the 13 varietals (Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Cinsault, Muscardin, Vaccarese, Picardin, Picpoul, Bourboulenc, Terret Noir, Counoise, Clairette, and Roussanne) is always unknown, but because the flavors are a perfect marriage for me of elegance and rusticity. I've rarely had any California wine that comes close to duplicating the leathery, earthy, and herbal components that integrate with the fruit flavors of these wines. They're among my favorite wines to drink with food because of their soft tannins and good acidity. One can hardly find a better example of Châteauneuf-du-Pape... continue reading


The 2004 Vintage in Germany and Austria: An Idiots Point of View

Before you read any further, you should know that I'm the idiot. I know next to nothing about German and Austrian wines. Before last week I had tasted probably thirty of them in my life. Maybe fifty. They'd just never been a real source of interest. Sure I'd had a lovely Gewurztraminer here and there, a gorgeous dry Riesling over Thai food, but honestly I never really made a serious study. This, of course, is problematic when you hang out with people who are convinced that German and Austrian wines are the best wines on the planet. And I do... continue reading


2003 Morgante Nero d' Avola IGT Vendemmia, Sicily

The more Nero d'Avola I have, the more I like it. This earthy old world varietal, native to the island of Sicily, seems to produce wines that are capable of calling one back to an earlier time and atmosphere, filtered with afternoon sunlight and redolent with the smells of fresh coffee, dirt from the fields, and someone's mother's cooking from down the cobblestone streets. True connoisseurs of the varietal will tell you it's pretty hard to get wines that really do that, as they are made by small families in small quantities, even smaller bits of which seem to make... continue reading


A Heart Laid Bare

Regular readers will know that I have high standards and fussy tendencies when it comes to writing about wine. Frankly there's just not much out there that is any good. So when I come across a great piece, my heart leaps. This happened recently as I was reading one of Kermit Lynch's newsletters, which occasionally contain pieces of prose in addition to Kermits lovely wine notes and musings. In this case, it was a reflection on wine by Berkeley winemaker Steve Edmunds, of Edmunds St. John Winery, and it was so good that I sought him out and asked whether... continue reading


A Whole Lotta Rosé: A Report from The 1st Annual RAP Pink Out

I've just returned (literally) from the RAP (Rosé Advocates and Producers) Pink Out, a first of its kind event here in the Bay area devoted exclusively to the promotion of dry pink wines of all kinds. RAP, like ZAP or any of the other similar organizations, is a marketing co-op of sorts. Membership in the association provides wineries a source of marketing and another opportunity to connect with a particular niche market. Today's tasting (still going on as I write this) took place at Butterfly Restaurant and Lounge on the Embarcadero here in San Francisco, with about 50 producers pouring... continue reading


2002 Cellar de Capçanes "Mas Donis Barrica" Red Wine, Montsant, Spain

As far as Spanish appellations go, Montsant is a bit of a baby -- small and young. Only established in 2001, after being pulled out as a distinct D.O. (Denominacion de Origen) from the larger Tarragona region that surrounds the famous Priorat, Montsant now rings the Priorat, a concentric circle around its famous forbearer, roughly 100 miles south of Barcelona, Spain. The Montsant region is marked by old volcanic slopes of nutrient poor, mineral rich soils covering granite and slate, and little rainfall. The primarily Grenache vines (along with Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Carignan) in the area must... continue reading


Wine Flavors According to Jelly Belly and Deloach Vineyards

I don't know the last time I was so simultaneously grossed out and also strangely curious at the same time. Thanks to a tip from Jathan over at WineExpression, apparently with either a lack of something better to do, or a brilliant co-marketing idea, or both, Deloach Vineyards, Jelly Belly candy, and WineX Magazine have put together a Jelly Belly wine bar. Not like you ever really wanted to know, but if you wanted to throw eleven jellybeans in your mouth at the same time and wanted the resulting taste to be like a "traditional French Champagne" then you'd want... continue reading


Wine Blogging Wednesday #12: Drink Local

It's amazing to me that we've now been hosting monthly online wine tastings for a full year, but here we are at Wine Blogging Wednesday #12. Hosted by its founder, Lenn Thompson, this month's theme is "local." Specifically, anyone who wants to participate needs to simply find the winery closest to their house, and review one of their wines. Even though I'm smack dab in the center of San Francisco, I think I can find a winery that is within 2 miles of my front door. Can you guess which one? If not, come back on August 10th to check... continue reading


What Wines Do Americans Drink With Dinner?

I live in a different universe than most wine drinkers in this country. And you do too, most likely, just by virtue of the fact that you're here reading this blog. But it's nice, at times to be reminded of what the majority of this country is drinking when it comes to wine. It's a way of reminding some of us about how privileged we are to be able to drink what we drink, and a good dose of reality when it comes to making assumptions about America's taste in wine. Without further ado, here is the list of the... continue reading


Watch Out Stoli, Here Comes Priorat

If I had to place Russia as the next likeliest big market for wine, I probably would have placed it pretty far down on the list, in the company of Iraq, Egypt, and Malaysia. Yet here's an interesting piece about how wine consumption in Russia is climbing at a rate approaching 25% per year. Which is, incidentally, the same growth rate as India, which has no competing national drink. Spain, for one, is getting in on the action. Rising incomes and the near death of any shred of local wine industry are driving people to seek out foreign wines. Will... continue reading


Jancis Robinson on High Alcohol Wines

Based on responses to several posts in the past, I can see that alcohol levels in wine are a hot topic for Vinography readers. So when I saw this excellent piece by Jancis Robinson on the subject, I had to let you know. She goes through the background of the debate, and the causes of high alcohol in wines, and some of the conflicts between growers and winemakers surrounding hangtime (which is all good reading for those who are unfamiliar with the issue) but then she brings up an astonishing fact that I was unaware of, which adds a whole... continue reading


2002 Samos Grand Cru Vin Doux (Muscat), Samos, Greece

It's not everyone that can claim they've been making quality wine pretty much continuously since at least the twelfth century B.C. Most people also can't say with authority that their wines were the favorites of people like Hippocrates. You know, that greek guy who invented, um, well. At least I know they named the Hippocratic Oath after him. In any case, very few places in the world have a winemaking pedigree like the people of the island of Samos. A thumbnail sized, green mountainous island that pokes up out of the eastern Agean sea, the name Samos comes from... continue reading


RAP (Rosé Advocates and Producers) "Pink Out" Tasting in San Francisco: 7/18/05

In the tradition of Pinot Days, P.S. I Love You, and ZAP, there is now RAP, the Rose Advocates and Producers trade group, dedicated to promoting all things pink in the wine world. They continue to battle the evil forces of White Zinfandel while showcasing California (and some international) producers who make all varieties of wine that exist between the shades of white and red. Just like the aforementioned trade groups and perfectly timed for the heat of summer, RAP is holding it's first annual public tasting in San Francisco on Monday, July 18th at Butterfly Restaurant on Pier 33.... continue reading


Messages in a Bottle: The Dog Days of Wine

Stacked akimbo in the corner of my kitchen table, now leaning at a somewhat crazy angle, is the two-month-old pile of magazines, journals, newspaper columns, and newsletters about wine. My wife has taken to affectionately calling it "The Monster," but she has no idea really how terrifying it is. She doesn't hear it croaking day after day: "It is summer, and thou shalt drink this." Have you heard this call from the magazine rack at the cafe? From inside your daily newspaper? From that pile of literature under your couch? If not, let me save you the pain, and get... continue reading


Casa Nuestra Winery, St. Helena: Current Releases

Deep in the heart of the Napa Valley there lies a winery like no other. The last bastion of fun in a valley that has largely slipped into a commercial or cult funk of prestige, Casa Nuestra Winery simply refuses to take itself seriously, and refuses to let its visitors and clients forget for a moment that wine, first and foremost, should be a lighthearted experience. AND, they've got a peace sign on every bottle! Currently situated in a small yellow farmhouse on the Silverado Trail in St. Helena, the Casa Nuestra winemaking story began in Oakville in 1956,... continue reading


America's Best New Chefs for 2005

Thanks to a tip from The Daily Olive, I learned that Food and Wine Magazine has announced their list of Best New Chefs of 2005. Among them is San Francisco's own Daniel Humm, of Campton Place. Here's the list: Tyson Cole of Uchi, Austin Seth Bixby Daugherty of Cosmos, Minneapolis Christophe Eme of Ortolan Restaurant, Los Angeles Shea Gallante of Cru, New York City Colby Garrelts of Bluestem, Kansas City Maria Hines of Earth & Ocean, Seattle Daniel Humm of Campton Place, San Francisco Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder Tony Maws of Craigie Street Bistrot, Cambridge Eric... continue reading


WBW #11 Roundup has been posted

Beau has posted his roundup of Wine Blogging Wednesday #11, Off-Dry Wines for the reading pleasure of all. Check out the list of 24 different wines with a little bit to a lot of residual sugar.... continue reading


The '96 White Burgundy Time Bomb

I don't have a lot of room or patience for aging wines. I tuck a few bottles away for a few years, but I'm not a collector bent on enjoying my wines for decades. I drink most of what I buy within 5 or 6 years. That's especially true for white wines, which I tend to consume in the first 3 or 4 years of their lifespan. I have recently started putting away an occasional white Burgundy or Chenin Blanc just to see what time does to these bottles. It looks like it's a good thing I didn't start with... continue reading


1994 Zind Humbrecht "Heimbourg" Gewurztraminer Vendange Tardive, Turkheim, Alsace

Today we are exploring off-dry wines as part of the monthly virtual tasting event known as Wine Blogging Wednesday. This month's tasting is hosted by Beau over at Basic Juice. My entry in this category is an Alsatian wine from one of the most famous producers in the region, Domaine Zind Humbrecht. The father and son operation has been in existence since 1959 when the marriage of the Zind and Humbrecht families brought together a passion for winemaking and some of the best land in Alsace under one roof. Leonard Humbrecht and his son Olivier (notable for being France's first... continue reading


The wine story of the 20th Century

I couldn't help but pass on this nice little story from the Chronicle about the "tasting heard round the world" -- the legendary 1976 tasting where a panel of French judges selected California wines over French wines in a blind tasting for the first time in history. Turns out that this tasting was a bit of a non-event, and the only journalist present was a wine-writing rookie from Time magazine (who happened to speak perfect French). Yet this one small tasting of Chardonnay and Cabernet transformed the wine world in a single fell swoop, toppling France from its pedestal as... continue reading


2003 Jeff Runquist "R" Barbera, Amador County, CA

During the Gold Rush, when the Italian immigrants came west across the plains and through the rugged mountainous section of the Sierras they named the Desolation Wilderness, their arrival on the gently sloping foothills of Amador County must have seemed a bit like coming home to the old country. Green in the winter, and shining golden in the summer, this section of California is not unlike areas of Northern Tuscany or Piedmont. It's no wonder then, that in addition to settling down to prospect for gold, open up restaurants and stores, and set up family farms that some of... continue reading


2002 Domaine Taluau-Foltzenlogel "Vieilles Vignes" Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, Loire Valley, France

I'm sure I'm going to end up on some Homeland Security watch list, or at least on the Republican National Committee blacklist for this but who cares. I'm reviewing a French wine on Independence Day. Consider it an homage to the philosophical underpinnings of our own revolution, a tip-of-the-hat to the ideological impetus behind our eventual independence. In a further obfuscatory and untraditional manner, I've reviewing a Loire wine, but not one of the famous Sauvignon Blanc based wines of the region. Instead I'm reviewing this lovely Cabernet Franc based wine from Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, a small appellation smack-dab in the middle... continue reading


How to Hold a World Class Wine Tasting Event

I go to a lot of big, public and trade-only wine tastings, some of which are great, and others of which are lousy. Some are bad because they don't have good wines, others are bad because they're poorly organized, which amazes me, because it doesn't seem like it would be that hard to get right. But maybe no one has ever really defined what makes for a great public wine tasting event. Given that my "day job" is helping companies improve their customers' experiences and my "night job" here at Vinography is blabbering about wine, perhaps it's time for me... continue reading


Talking Wine Labels. What Won't They Think Of?

A-HA! Maybe THIS will make French wine labels easier to understand! Apparently some product packaging genius* has come up with a way for customers to "listen" to their wine labels. Apparently the Italian label manufacturer Modulgraf has come up with a fancy-shmancy new type of wine label that can be removed from the bottle and "read like a CD." * Hmm. Let's see. This means that when I want to find out about a wine, I take the label off, then if I haven't already put my headphones on and the special reader when I walk into the store, I... continue reading

But Wait, There's More!

This page only has the last sixty entries in this category. If you're interested in digging farther into my archives, you'll want to use the complete list of archives to access my articles by month.

Calendar of Postings

April 2016

          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Most Recent Entries

The New Wine Regions To Watch Motes In The Vineyard: The Next Big Thing A Photo Survey of Modern Food Artistry The Great Australian Wine Classification Ambullneo Vineyards, Central Coast, CA: Current Releases Vinography on Wine vs. Beer Bonham's & Butterfields Wine Auction Tomorrow, 7/30 More Sniping at the Top of The Wine World Vinography and Manresa Present The 'Drink Small' Wine Dinner 2002 Summerwood "Diosa" Syrah, Paso Robles, CA

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune

Archives by Month


Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud