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~ November 2005 Archives ~



2004 Uriondo Txakolina, Bizkaiko (Basque), Spain

If I could find a wine like this once a month, for the rest of my life, I think I would die a happy man. Not that it's such an amazing wine, it's tasty but not mind-blowing, but its just got so much unique personality, and it is so different from what I drink on a daily basis. The world of wine is a wide and wonderful place. But let me back up, since you may still be stumbling over the name of the thing, which to most Americans is quite a mouthful. The name of the producer is Uriondo,... continue reading


Unlocking The Secrets of The First Winemakers

I would post this story just for the accompanying picture of the caveman stomping wines in a bearskin, but as a bonus, it's actually a piece of interesting news about the earliest days of winemaking by humans. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have been studying early winemaking for some time, and have reached the conclusion based on some primitive clay jugs. These large vessels, capable of holding around 2.5 gallons were found buried in the Northern Zagros Mountains of Iran, and contained residues which seem to be wine. The interesting thing is that these jugs are about 6000 years... continue reading


Cameron Hughes Wines, San Francisco: Current Releases

The continued evolution of the global wine marketplace has made many things possible for many people. Small regional wineries that couldn't survive, let alone exist twenty years ago are now thriving because there are folks out there like me and you that are looking for just the type of wines they are producing. Likewise, the proliferation of estateless wineries (bonded, licensed wineries that own no land and may even rent their winemaking facilities) has exploded in California in particular. Finally, a relatively recent phenomenon for California and the US (though old news to the negociants in France) has surfaced in... continue reading


Making It Hard For The Rest Of Us

I once had a heck of a time getting some wine back from Australia. Without getting into the long drawn-out saga of it, suffice it to say that because of some mis-information from a winery down under, I ended up having to hire a customs broker to help me get my wine into the country. Actually I just needed the customs broker to get it out of a container at one end of San Francisco International Airport and into my car. The irony is that the same wine, in the same quantity, carried on a plane by me, or even... continue reading


How I Rate and Review Wine

It's been some time since I talked about the way I review and write about wine, and there are new visitors all the time who may not go digging back into past archives to see some of my earliest posts in which I define my methods and approach to reviewing wine. So I thought I'd do a little post about it. WHAT I THINK MAKES FOR A GOOD WINE REVIEW Before I get into the details of scoring and tasting notes, and all the mechanical stuff about reviewing a wine, its important to talk about how and why my wine... continue reading


Happy Thanksgiving From Vinography

Wherever you are, I hope you are surrounded by the people you love and are appreciating the good things that are part of this life and how fortunate we all are. I also hope you've got a glass of wine in hand, and are remembering that every wine is better when it is shared with the people we care about. As for me, when you are reading this, Ruth and I will have carried a bottle into the middle of the Utah desert with a couple of dear friends in tow, and we'll be drinking fine wine out of plastic... continue reading


No Thanksgiving Wine Tips Here

Just in case you haven't figured it out yet, you won't be getting any list of great holiday gifts for the wine lover in your life from me. Vinography also won't be listing the best holiday buys for wine. And you definitely won't be getting a list of great wine pairing ideas for Thanksgiving. It's not that I'm not interested in dispensing advice, or helping anyone out (if you're really desperate for some wine recommendations send me an e-mail) but its just that there are too many damn lists out there. I've ranted on more than one occasion about the... continue reading


The Asia Effect

It's now becoming such a fact in the wine world that I'll be very reticent to post much news about it in the future, but in case you haven't noticed, wine is becoming huge in Asia. First of all, you have the staggering size of production going on in the region. Who knew that China was the world's 6th largest wine producer, producing more than Germany, South Africa, Chile, Austria, or New Zealand? A recent trade partnership between China and Chile, and talks of Chinese investment in the Chilean wine industry indicate China's interest in participating in the global wine... continue reading


Why Blow Up A Winery?

Can you imagine this headline?: "NAPA, CA: This morning a bomb exploded outside the Robert Mondavi winery off of Highway 29 in Napa, tearing a gaping hole in the side of the famous mission style winery building and injuring 25 including several tourists." The thought is at once both scary and ridiculous. Who would bomb a winery? OK. OK. Who Besides a bunch of angry French winegrowers?. Well, it looks like Spain's wineries now also have to fear from explosions, though not at the hands of the wine industry, but at the hands of the ETA, or Basque separatist movement.... continue reading


The World's Priciest Meals? Hardly.

Short of the Robb Report, which is really a magazine for those who aspire to be rich, there's no magazine who has a greater claim on having the pulse of the wealthiest in the world than Forbes. Thanks to a link from Luxist this week, we are treated to Forbes list of the world's most expensive restaurants. But before anyone with cash to burn prints out a list and jumps on a plane, I've got to point out one thing: The folks at Forbes have no idea what the heck they're talking about. First of all, and most glaring, the... continue reading


2002 Achaval-Ferrer "Finca Altamira" Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

I've been of the opinion for a while that Malbec, while a noble grape, and a valuable contributor (albeit in smaller and smaller amounts these days) to the great wines of Bordeaux is really not a grape that makes exceptional wine on its own. I've voiced that opinion here on Vinography several times, to a raft of criticism from my readers and suggestions left and right of different Malbecs to try. I have diligently tried many of them, and I'm sorry folks, I still wasn't impressed. However, I don't lightly dismiss wines on a categorical basis, and certainly not before... continue reading


Metal = Color in Your Wine

We learn more about wine every day. And I mean that in both the immediate and the global sense of things. I know I am learning more about wine every day, but increasingly the scientific community is also delving into the mysteries of wine. Here's a recent study which, though poorly reported on in this article, sounds really interesting. Scientists have started to understand the correlations between metal content in the soil, the resulting biochemistry of the grapes grown in it, and the subsequent color extraction that is possible in the wine. What's most interesting to me about this study... continue reading


Shoot The Messenger

I've just come back from a lovely dinner, where we polished off two bottles of wine at a local Italian restaurant with dear friends and I'm tired. And for some reason, when I look at my calendar, and note the date, I'm also a little cranky. Or maybe that's just the spite of old age settling in. But I feel like lashing out, and this is, of course, the day to do it. All over the world, for the last 23 hours, people have been celebrating the most overrated event of the wine world -- the vinous equivalent to Valentines... continue reading


2002 Match Vineyards "Butterdragon Hill" Cabernet, St. Helena, Napa

The more young winery owners I meet, the more I keep hearing the line "If you had asked me six years ago if I were going to be making wine right now, I would have laughed in your face." It's amazing how many people seem to accidentally fall into making wine. And I say that without any trace of sarcasm. I really do keep meeting people who tell me stories that make it clear that they've just sort of found their way there. The journeys that they relay seem to to have an aspect in common, that I have a... continue reading


The World's Representative Wine Cellar

All statistics and no essays make Alder a dull boy, but I always seem to get lots of interesting responses when I bother to post facts and figures about the world of wine. So without making it a habit, here's an interesting set of information in the form of a little hypothetical wine cellar. Thanks, by the way to Jack and Joanne over at Fork & Bottle for sending me this information, which they stumbled upon via a link from Mark Squires' Forum over on Robert Parker's web site. Still following along? Good. So imagine for a moment, if you... continue reading


Past The Million Mark

I continue to be amazed at how many of you there are, and how you seem to find your way here. However it is happening, I thank you, reader, for stopping by. I've been writing here pretty much every day for nearly 2 years now, and I've watched an increasingly large number of you returning or arriving every month. Last month, though, we passed through a pretty large threshold. October 2005 will be remembered as the month that Vinography received in excess of one million hits in a single month. Pretty damn cool, considering just 22 months ago, that number... continue reading


Wild Card (When Worlds Collide)

Last Spring, at a fundraiser for a professional Institute with which she's affiliated, my wife made the high bid on an unusual auction item: a poker party for up to eight people, hosted by a couple of her colleagues, which included an informal dinner of home-made pizzas and salad, dessert and beverages. The hosts wanted to be sure we'd be completely happy about every detail of the party, and they were a bit worried about providing wine that would satisfy a winemaker, so I offered to bring some wine, really not wanting anyone to give it a second thought, (One... continue reading


NV Il Colle "Cuvée 46° Parallelo" Prosecco, Conegliano, Italy

I'm not a huge connoisseur of Champagne. I like a good aged Champagne every now and again, but I don't have the urge to drink much of it, especially since most Champagne that you might drink on an everyday basis isn't very good in my opinion. Unlike most other wines, where it's possible to find a decent, even a great bottle at the $10 to $20 price range, I find that same task extremely difficult when it comes to Champagne. For my money, by far the better bet in that price range is the Spanish sparkling wine Cava, or even... continue reading


Italy's Best Wines: The Tre Bicchieri Winners for 2006

Thanks go to Jack and Joanne over at Fork and Bottle for alerting me to the recent announcement of the 2006 winners of the coveted Tre Bicchieri awards for Italian wine. For those who may not be familiar, these awards, handed out by the Gambero Rosso guide, are widely accepted as THE authority on Italian wine. Though I have tasted my way through more than a few Tre Bicchieri wines and found some of them not to my taste, there's no denying the high quality of these wines as a whole, and for those interested in Italian wine, they are... continue reading


The Dangers of Buying Wine in Dallas

I got angry when I read this story. Really angry. It's bad enough that owner Michel Monzain of Tony's Wine Warehouse in Dallas is fleecing customers by charging them outrageous prices for wines, sometimes two or three times the typical retail price elsewhere in the country, but the classes he holds to "educate his customers" are some of the most horrific sounding collections of misinformation and lies I've ever heard of. From outrageous explanations of why French and American Oak aged wines taste different (French Oak barrels are made from trees that grow near mushrooms, while American Oak barrels are... continue reading


Messages In A Bottle: Disorientation and Diversity

The dialogue about wine in popular American culture usually fails to rise above a whisper. This is to say that most people don't think about it or talk about it at all. For those to whom a conversation with friends about wine might not be the strangest thing in the world, much of the conversation I overhear in cafés and bars continues to reverberate with movie quotes from Sideways, coupled with either genuinely snide or tongue-in-cheek character assassinations of Merlot. Despite what seems to be a growing interest in wine, the majority of American wine consumers don't bother with the... continue reading


WBW#16 Has Been Announced: Buy The Label

Everyone's favorite virtual wine tasting party online, Wine Blogging Wednesday, is going strong in its 16th month. December's edition will be hosted by Derrick over at An Obsession With Food, and he has selected this month's theme, perhaps in keeping with the shopping that everyone is doing for the season. Wednesday December 7th, we will all be drinking wines that we have chosen simply because we like the label. That's right, Derrick is asking us all to tap into the deepest (shallowest) of our instinctive drives when it comes to wine: to judge a wine by its label. Moreover, I... continue reading


1999 Calera Wine Company "Jensen" Pinot Noir, Mt. Harlan, CA

Something special, in my opinion is going on in the hills to the east of Salinas. Calera Wine Company sits atop Mount Harlan on the east side of Highway 101 about halfway between Salinas and Soledad in the Central Coast appellation of California. Formerly the site of an ancient limestone quarry (hence the name Calera, which means "lime kiln" in Spanish) the winery was established in 1974 by Josh Jensen with the intent to make primarily Pinot Noir in the classic Burgundian style. Having worked more than a few harvests for producers like Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Domain Dujac,... continue reading


Helping You Remember Where You Put That Bottle

A new story about how red wine is good for your health comes out every 2 weeks. Think I'm kidding? I read all the news about wine, and trust me it's true. Originally I thought I would feature such stories on Vinography, but they got to be too numerous. But since I haven't mentioned them in a while, I thought I'd use today's good news to highlight the fact that I've catalogued several dozen health benefits of wine, and today, there's one more that's especially promising, especially to those of us who worry that one day we might have Alzheimer's... continue reading


WBW#15 Roundup Has Begun

Wine Blogging Wednesday, the monthly online virtual wine tasting event that takes place on the first Wednesday of every month was near and dear to my heart this month. Hosted by Fatemeh, over at Gastronomie, the theme was wines that are made in quantities under 250 cases. Fatemeh reports that a full 29 bloggers found wines that qualified, and the tasting notes look interesting so far (Fatemeh hasn't finished posting all of them yet). So at your leisure, go check out the wrap-up and you're likely to find out about some small production gems that you've never heard of.... continue reading


Halleck Vineyards, Sonoma: Current Releases

One of the things that I love about Sonoma County and its wines are the little nooks and crannies that seem to exist, more so, I think, than in its more famous neighbor to the east. While there are small bits of Napa Valley that play host to little vineyards, most of the real estate, at least the vineyard covered real estate, is well known. In Sonoma County and its appellations on the other hand, there exists much more of a patchwork of wine growing, with little hidden vineyards here and there, and new ones sprouting up all the time,... continue reading


Slow Wine and Scary Shadows

Thanks to Andy over at Spittoon for pointing out an interesting article by Michel Smith over at Slow Food, on wine, terroir, and the increasing numbers of small vintners around the globe. It's a great article that I agree with 98%. I'm sure I'm going to get into trouble by spending a couple of minutes here on the two percent that I take issue with, but hey, that's why I have a blog and not a magazine that y'all pay for every month. One of the great things about the article is that it points out the growing proliferation of... continue reading


2003 Baldassari Family Winery Syrah, Bennett Valley, Sonoma

I've said more than once how energized I am by the new wineries that seem to be popping up every month or so throughout the state. Like mushrooms on the forest floor after a nice rain, they seem to appear out of nowhere. Many of them are small family operations or even estateless wineries, but regardless of the form, they are usually the result of someone's dream, and so I'm always excited to hear about them. It's hard to get any more brand new than Baldassari Family Vineyards and this Syrah. They are a brand new winery, this is their... continue reading


Anderson Valley Alsace Varietal Festival, November 5-6, 2005

This slipped my mind until recently, so I apologize for the slightly short notice, but this coming weekend, the association of Anderson Valley Winegrowers is holding its Alsace Varietal Festival, celebrating the wine varieties grown in the Alsace region of France which seem to do particularly well in the Anderson Valley. The event takes place on both Saturday and Sunday, and includes a large public tasting on Saturday, a winemaker dinner on Saturday Night and a day of open houses and seminars on Sunday. If you find yourself without plans this weekend and want to partake in what is probably... continue reading


The Michelin Stars of New York

Perhaps the most anticipated publishing of dining related information in the last several years, the Michelin guide has just released its star ratings for New York restaurants. Known as the gold standard for restaurant ratings in Europe, where its coveted stars have made or broken careers, businesses, and even lives, the Michelin Guide announced earlier this year that it would be publishing its first ever guide to New York. Today its star ratings have been made public, and can be seen as the first serious competition to the reign of the New York Times food section, many of whose ratings... 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

2004 Uriondo Txakolina, Bizkaiko (Basque), Spain Unlocking The Secrets of The First Winemakers Cameron Hughes Wines, San Francisco: Current Releases Making It Hard For The Rest Of Us How I Rate and Review Wine Happy Thanksgiving From Vinography No Thanksgiving Wine Tips Here The Asia Effect Why Blow Up A Winery? The World's Priciest Meals? Hardly.

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