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~ September 2005 Archives ~



Vines in Space

It was only a matter of time before some crazy rich winemaker decided to get himself blasted into space carrying along some of his rootstock, wasn't it? OK. Maybe I'm just short sighted for not being able to have seen this coming, but there it was in the news. Saturday morning, Dr. Greg Olson, the spry 60 year old owner of La Vinette wine estate in Paarl, South Africa will become the worlds third space tourist. For his undisclosed millions of dollars spent on the trip, he'll be bringing some vines to plant in a special area of the space... continue reading


Small Producers of France: A Tasting of Robert Kacher Selections

This entry could just have easily been entitled "eclectic little wines from France" or "the best French wines you may never have heard of" or "One man's guide to some good French &%$@." Robert Kacher has been chasing down and importing wines from France (and, it turns out, Portugal) for over 30 years. It's unfair to both of their accomplishments to compare him with Kermit Lynch, but by way of illustration, I hold both of them in the same esteem as luminaries and ambassadors to a world of fabulous wines that even many wine lovers have never heard of. The... continue reading


San Francisco's Gourmet Harvest: A Report From FallFest 2005

I go to a lot of big public food and wine events throughout the year. These events are different from the public and trade-only wine tastings, which are focused only on wines. They invariably involve not only wine producers pouring their stuff, but also restaurants offering tidbits to eat, food producers and manufacturers hawking their wares, and more. I attend to keep tabs on the restaurant scene, to learn about new gourmet products, to check out new wine producers and see what others I already know are up to. Not all of these big food and wine festivals are very... continue reading


My ISP Owes You an Apology

They do. Really. But they'd never make it. For the 20th time this year, or so it seems, Vinography was unavailable from the hours of 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM Pacific time last night. Supposedly this was due to my whole account being moved to a newer higher performing server, but I could swear they had done that already 6 months ago. In any case, if you attempted to reach the site last night and got an error, I apologize for the inconvenience, and promise that I am already in the process of finding a hosting provider that is actually... continue reading


Truth in Labeling Wine

Some wine lovers I know piss and moan a bit about the complicated French labelling system for their wines. I've even been known to gripe a bit about the most extreme cases of bizarre and undigestible labeling of wines that seem to have everything on them except the information you really want to know. The unspoken complaint that underlies most of this whining, mine included, is generally "why can't they be more like the United States?" We've got everything pretty much spelled out on our labels, right? Wrong. If French wine labels are unpronounceable and require a knowledge of geography,... continue reading


2002 Domaine Ramonet "Boudriotte" Premiere Cru Chassagne-Montrachet, Cote d'Or (Burgundy), France

I think everyone who loves wine should occasionally go out and buy a bottle that falls into the category of "prototypical." It's an important part of one's wine education to taste the wines that are the hallmarks of a particular style or varietal. Invariably these are expensive, so finding friends who want to share a bottle can help with the hit to the pocketbook, but ultimately it's worth it to be able to say (if even to yourself), "So this is what a proper ____________ tastes like." Fill in the blank with a varietal, a style of wine, a particular... continue reading


Who Wants Pooh Bear on Their Wine Label? Apparently Everyone

We all do it. We all occasionally buy a wine based on its label. If you don't you either are lying to yourself or don't go browsing through wine stores nearly often enough. We are creatures that like to collect, and we are also creatures who are attracted to, as a friend like to put it "bright shiny things," by which she means anything that strikes our fancy. Apparently these days, the thing striking the fancy of growing legions of younger wine buyers is cute little animals. I shit you not. There are huge wine companies spending millions of dollars... continue reading


Notes From the Vinography "Drink Small" Wine Dinner

Some of you have sent me e-mails asking about the Vinography "Drink Small" Wine Dinner that I held this week at Manresa Restaurant, so I thought I'd post a couple of notes here to give you a sense of how it went. In a word, it was delightful. At the last minute, we had a few cancellations, so we ended up with a slightly more intimate group of 16 people, only one of which (besides my wife) that had attended the previous dinner. We gathered at first in the "backyard" of the restaurant, behind the patio section, and got to... continue reading


2001 Campion Vineyards "Firepeak" Pinot Noir, Edna Valley, CA

I always admire winemakers who have a singular dedication to a particular varietal and I'm always excited to try their wines whenever I come across them. If, after decades of drinking and making wine, a winemaker forswears all other types of grapes but one, you've got to believe there's something special about that relationship. Larry Brooks is one of those winemakers, and his Campion Vineyards Pinot Noirs are some of the more exciting and original wines in California right now in my opinion. When I hosted a "Small is Beautiful" wine dinner at Manresa recently and needed a small production... continue reading


Wine Knowledge Reality Check

Despite recent (bogus) news that wine has outstripped beer as Americans' social drink of choice, it's pretty clear that in general most Americans know very little about wine. A recent study conducted by WineOpinions, a statistical research company focusing on the wine industry, rams that fact home with unnerving certainty. In a survey of 500 Americans who drink wine on at least a "somewhat frequent" basis, a full 66% of respondents had no idea what the vintage date on the bottle referred to. 17% thought it referred to the year the wine was made, 37% believed it referred to the... continue reading


Why France Is In Trouble

Well, there are lots of reasons that the French wine industry is headed for (already met with?) disaster, but recent news has highlighted a few brutal new realities. Just a couple of days ago, the French National Interprofessional Wine Office released a study showing that in the last 5 years France has lost 1,000,000 wine drinkers to beer and other spirits, and that per capita, wine consumption has dropped a full 50% in the last forty years. These are truly dire numbers, that combined with over-production, militant-terrorist winemakers, and waning global demand for the higher priced wines make me want... continue reading


The Unsung Hero of Wine: The Bottle

My friend Derrick, a wine and food blogger at An Obsession With Food, and more than occasional journalist has recently published an excellent piece of work relating the history of the wine bottle. As Derrick notes in his piece, we rarely pay very close attention to the one thing responsible for preserving our wine (in addition to the cork, which we know is a shifty character). Sure many people choose wines just based on how the bottle, and more often the label look to them. I've done it many times. Over the years you also start to notice the weight... continue reading


The Best Sake In The World?: A Report from The Joy Of Sake Tasting

Maybe they should call it the Jostle of Sake Tasting. If anyone needed an affirmation that sake is hot right now, they needn't have gone farther than the main ballroom of San Francisco's Hotel Nikko on Thursday night for the Joy of Sake tasting. Several thousand people packed into the ballroom, and the hallways, and the side rooms to taste nearly 200 different sakes and to sample foods from some of the Bay Area's top Japanese, Asian, and seafood restaurants. It was the largest tasting of sake held outside of Japan. It was also, in a word, packed, to the... continue reading


1996 Stony Hill Semillon de Soleil, Napa

OK. I admit it. I really don't like dessert wines. Eiswein? Forget it. Muscat? Ick. Even many Sauternes just are overkill on the sweetness. I really need a wine to have enough acidity to cut through the sweetness before I will pay attention. Too many dessert wines are cloying and sticky, basically as appealing to me as drinking a mouthful of maple syrup. So when a dessert wine has the right balance of sugar, acid, and alcohol, when there is more than one dominant flavor in the wine, I tend to sit up and take notice. I don't know how... continue reading


The Young Wine Drinker's Conundrum

Back when I was just getting started in my own self-education in the world of wine, I had the problems that many young wine drinkers have: I didn't have much money, and I didn't know what I didn't know. Actually, I was very aware of my lack of knowledge across many areas of the wine world -- I hadn't tasted many different varietals, and certainly not from many areas of the world. One of the things that I didn't become aware of, though, until much later, was how much I had to learn about the way that wine ages --... continue reading


WBW #14 Announced: New World Pinot Noir

The next installment of the monthly virtual wine tasting event known as Wine Blogging Wednesday has been announced. It is being hosted this month by Jens of Cincinnati Wine Garage, and he has chosen New World Pinot Noir as the theme. Jens doesn't just mean New World (traditionally anywhere but France) but Brand Spanking New World which he says means anywhere but France AND the West Coast of the United States. So that means we're left with New Zealand, South Africa, England, Australia, Chile, New York State, Spain, and a smattering of other tiny places that are edging in on... continue reading


LAST CHANCE: Vinography Wine Dinner at Manresa

The last Vinography dinner sold out in a hurry, but there are still some seats available for this one! Join me next Thursday, September 22nd, for an evening of small production wines from Northern California and the fabulous food of Chef David Kinch at Manresa, featuring ingredients from small artisanal producers around the state. Manresa was just awarded Four Stars by the San Francisco Chronicle, putting it on a par with The French Laundry and five other of the top dining destinations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Not to mention that it's #38 on the list of the top... continue reading


1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Late Harvest Tokaji Furmint, Tokaj, Hungary

Let me get down on my knees and pray to the gods of wine drinking. "Please, oh gods who bestow blessings upon those who call themselves wine drinkers, let me continue to be surprised and delighted by random wines that I stumble across in my life. I don't need to taste the vintage of the century, and I probably can't afford it, but I really want to still be finding out about wines like this when I'm eighty-five." Of course, this is where the fantasy of being a sommelier comes along. Imagine spending your days actually hunting down these wines.... continue reading


SF Fall Fest, September 24th, San Francisco

I know, I know. There are a lot more wine events getting posted here on Vinography than wine reviews this week. But can I help it if somehow September is the month that everyone does wine whatever? One of the events happening in San Francisco that I can wholeheartedly endorse and recommend attending is SF Fallfest. The first event last year was one of the better wine and food events of its type that I had ever been to, in particular because either through happenstance, or through deliberate action on the part of the organizers, most of the wineries represented... continue reading


23rd Annual American Food & Wine Festival, September 24th, Los Angeles

Los Angeles does everything bigger, and the 23rd Annual American Food & Wine Festival is no exception. Held on the Universal Studios Back Lot, this event showcases the cooking of over forty of the nations top chefs, and roughly seventy-five wineries and importers from California and around the world. You might initially scoff at the fact that one of the primary sponsors is ConAgra Foods. There is certainly a bit of irony in the fact that a huge industrialized agriculture, processed foods manufacturer is sponsoring an event where 99% of the chefs attending would rather eat their own toque than... continue reading


Restaurant Review: Le Lan, Chicago

It's not often that In the middle of a meal I start planning my next visit to the restaurant with anticipation. Sometimes this happens in some of the world's best restaurants, and my plans involve tallying monthly expense budgets and looking sideways at my cash flow. Perhaps more frequently it happens in restaurants that sit somewhere between the finest haute cuisine and the more casual dining that might characterize a bite out after work during the week. More often than not, these are restaurants that aren't radically innovative in conception, but their dining experiences offer small details that hint at... continue reading


Riesling World Tour New York and San Francisco, Sept. 13th and 15th, 2005

I've discovered, though lots of tastings and lots of chance encounters with fanatics and phobics alike, that either you're a German wine person, or you're not. I suppose there's one more category, too, and that's the people who don't know yet. If you happen to fall into that category, you could do worse than attending the Riesling & Co. World Tour, coming next week to a major metropolis near you. In addition to major tastings at restaurants in San Francisco and New York, apparently there's a whole set of restaurants who, during this week, will be offering or at least... continue reading


WBW13 Roundup: Wine and Chocolate

Wondering what to drink with that chocolate dessert? There's no shortage of wine pairing advice on the Internet, but you can hardly do better than the collective experiences of 55 bloggers pairing different wines with different chocolate desserts as part of this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday -- the web's virtual wine tasting party. Hosted this month by Clotilde, at Chocolate & Zucchini, the event attracted a record turnout of bloggers from around the world who sampled a wine that they felt would be a good pairing with chocolate. Our host has posted a roundup of all the entries this month,... continue reading


2001 Mas de Daumas de Gassac Rouge, Hérault (Languedoc), France

By volume, staggeringly over 3 billion bottles each year, I believe the Languedoc-Roussillon to be one of the largest appellations in the wine world. Up until recently, this massive portion of France's wine production was dismissed as the home to great quantities of, at best, mediocre wine. That, like so many things in the wine world, has changed over the last two or three decades. Like in Spain, producers are reducing yields and changing farming techniques to capitalize on their old vine stock, and winemakers from elsewhere in France and around the world are quietly (and not so quietly) buying... continue reading


Much Better Than Talking Wine Labels

The talking wine label will no doubt die the slow painful death reserved for only the most ridiculous of technologies. Thankfully there are other folks out there who are innovating wine labels in better and more useful directions. I don't know if they've just got more blind wine drinkers than anywhere else, but for some reason a group of winemakers in the Worcester appellation of South Africa have decided to put Braille labels on their wine bottles. How cool is that? And how imminently useful. Even though they wont ever have the chance to buy a bottle just because it's... continue reading


Messages In a Bottle: Characters In The Same Story

The bearded man with the diamond rings, who is nearly bursting the seams of his Armani tuxedo, grabs you around the shoulder with one hand and stuffs a wad of cash in your hands with the other, beaming proudly. The beautiful stranger in the midnight blue gown slips off her string of antique pearls and presses a few into your hand with a wink, saying, "let's cash these in and have some fun tonight." Even the doorman stopped you for a while on your way in, slyly telling you "I've been saving this up for a time like this," and... continue reading


2003 Orin Swift Cellars "The Prisoner" Red Wine, Napa

This wine review is my entry for this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday, the global online wine tasting event where bloggers all over the world drink and review a wine based on a theme chosen by the host. This month, which I predict will be the most popular month in the event's history, is hosted by the charming Clotilde of Chocolate & Zucchini For this month's theme, she has chosen Like Wine For Chocolate, encouraging us all to select wines to drink with chocolate cake. Look at that guy over there on the right. Doesn't he look like he could use... continue reading


Vinography in Food & Wine Magazine

Vinography appeared in the current issue (October) of Food & Wine Magazine this week. Writer Mickey Butts highlighted his list of the best wine blogs on the web, and graciously included Vinography. I don't have much to say about his list (other than to note that Joe Dressner's and Jamie Goode's web sites, both of which I read regularly, are technically not blogs). Butts has chosen several good examples of what are dozens or even scores of frequently updated blogs run by dedicated bloggers and wine drinkers. No list like this can ever be "right," and I'd like to suggest... continue reading


Joy of Sake Tasting in Honolulu, San Francisco & New York, Sept 9, 15, 27, 2005

A haiku for sake: Ah. Sake. Drop of Rain touched by moonlit jasmine Always brings pleasure. OK. So I'm not the next Basho. But you gotta love sake, the perfect accompaniment to so many foods and flavors that we love (Thai, Chinese, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Japanese in general, sushi in particular, and more) that are really difficult to pair with wine. Sake is going to be the next big thing after Vodka. Mark my words. If you want to get a jump on this rising trend and you happen to live in New York or San Francisco, then there's no better... continue reading


Cyber-oenology v1.0

We live in a world of remote technological gratification, where we can outsource our own jobs to people we watch over with webcams while we spend our time blogging, selling advertising to people we've never met, and serving it up to still other strangers. Hmm. Why didn't I think of that? In an age where it seems possible to do just about everything from surgery to grocery shopping by remote control, it was only a matter of time before winemaking became as accessible and as easy to exercise as our carjacking fantasies that get played out in Grand Theft Auto... continue reading


2003 CrauforD "The Highlander" Sauvignon Blanc, Napa

The CrauforD Wine Company began as a conversation over dinner. Marilyn "Mama" Crawford Anderson sat at the dinner table and looked around at her daughter, a working winemaker, and her daughter-in-law, an accomplished viticultralist and vineyard manager. "There's just too much talent at this table for us girls not to be making our own wines," she said. She would know -- she and her husband were the founder and owners of Monticello Vineyards for years. Apparently a little encouragement and support from Mama Crawford was hard to ignore, especially when it came with a bit of start-up financing. So by... continue reading


Wine South in Atlanta September 17th and 18th, 2005

September is the month of wine events for some reason. You would think that the promotion and marketing people would let the weary winemakers get through harvest and crush, but I guess there's no rest for the wicked. You'll see a lot of event postings here on Vinography in the next week or two, starting with this one for Atlanta's big wine and food expo, known as Wine South. I've never been to this event, but having looked through the web site, it looks like a real winner, especially considering that barring a few decent wine shops and a couple... 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

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Most Recent Entries

Vines in Space Small Producers of France: A Tasting of Robert Kacher Selections San Francisco's Gourmet Harvest: A Report From FallFest 2005 My ISP Owes You an Apology Truth in Labeling Wine 2002 Domaine Ramonet "Boudriotte" Premiere Cru Chassagne-Montrachet, Cote d'Or (Burgundy), France Who Wants Pooh Bear on Their Wine Label? Apparently Everyone Notes From the Vinography "Drink Small" Wine Dinner 2001 Campion Vineyards "Firepeak" Pinot Noir, Edna Valley, CA Wine Knowledge Reality Check

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