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~ January 2006 Archives ~



Mega Purple: What Crosses The Line?

I don't have all the answers. Far from it. Like everyone, my palate and my ideas are evolving over time. Perhaps when I'm 90, I'll have drunk enough wines that nothing will surprise me and I will have an intuitive sense for what makes for greatness in a wine. In the meantime, I have a lot of wine to drink, a lot of vineyards to visit, and a lot of thinking to do about some pretty thorny issues when it comes to judging what I think makes for a legitimate expression of soil, fruit, climate, and human effort, and what... continue reading


When The World Turns Upside Down

In reading the news recently I can only imagine how the folks in the time of Copernicus and Galileo must have felt. Secure in their faith that the world was the center of the universe and that everything rotated around them, to one day hear that the world on which they traveled was merely one of several spinning orbs that whirled around a much bigger solar system must have been, well, earth-shattering. As human beings we're pretty stubborn when it comes to clinging to our long-held beliefs, and when they are shown to be just plain wrong, it throws us... continue reading


2003 Bacio Divino " Pazzo" Red Wine, Napa

I'll just get this off my chest right away. Most California Sangiovese is crap. I'm convinced that this is a really difficult climate to grow it in -- while California may be a Mediterranean climate we just don't really cut it when it comes to Tuscan varietals. The few places that I think it might be reasonably to grow Sangiovese -- Amador County or Lodi -- have a history with other Italian varietals such as Barbera, but very few people, it seems, have tried to grow Sangiovese. All of this by way of saying that anyone who tries to do... continue reading


Stinky Wine and A Magic Penny

There are lots of wine faults out there -- many different ways that wine can be spoiled, off, or just plain ruined. Some of them are difficult to detect, like TCA. Most regular wine consumers have had plenty of corked wine in their lives, they just haven't known it, as it manifests in ways that are subtle and beyond the detection of casual wine drinkers, who simply may just not enjoy the wine they are drinking, rather than realizing that it is faulty. One of the wine faults that is nearly impossible to mistake, unless the drinker has lost all... continue reading


Bordeaux vs. Languedoc: The Knives Come Out

Every piece of news about wine coming out of France these days seems laden with misfortune. I shake my head -- partially in sincere pity, partially with the amazement of someone watching a self-induced nervous breakdown. The French just can't seem to get a lucky break, and now it seems they may even be headed for a sort of civil war of vinous proportions. Before we get to that however, let's review the situation, shall we? The short story is this -- there's far too much wine in France -- too many barrels filled with stuff that people won't drink... continue reading


The Best of Brunello: Thoughts on The 2001 Vintage

Like many people, I suppose, I fell in love with Tuscany the first time I visited several years ago. Ruth and I managed to hit it perfectly at the peak of Spring -- the hills were green, the poppies in full bloom, little puffy clouds in the sky, 80 degrees, oh. Makes me misty-eyed just thinking about it. It's definitely a magical place. While we were there, we spent an awful lot of time driving around the roads near Siena, Montepulciano, and Montalcino, and an awful lot of time tasting the Sangiovese-based wines of the region. The most famous of... continue reading


Vinography Wins 2005 Food Blogging Award

I'm thrilled and humbled that Vinography has won Best Blog Covering Wine, Beer, and Spirits for the second year running at the 2005 Food Blogging Awards. The winners were announced a couple of hours ago in all categories. I'd like to thank you, readers, for your votes. I get to interact with some of you through your comments here and the e-mails you send me, but I know that there are thousands more of you out there, and I'd like to thank you all for your readership, which inspires me to keep writing. I'd also like to extend a hearty... continue reading


The Latest (Useless) Wine Technology

I'll apologize right off the bat for being a horrible skeptic when it comes to these sorts of things. I thought I might be able to refrain from bashing this product that I'd never seen or experienced, especially as I was beginning the article about it. But as I was reading about a new kiosk solution for grocery store wine aisles that helps consumers find wines that they would like, I eventually got to the following description of the technology: "What kind of matches does the system make? An occasional wine drinker who heavily salts his food, puts plenty of... continue reading


First Bird

Sometimes we live in the country, sometimes we stay in town; Sometimes we're not who we think we are, when things come tumblin down... I been out beyond the blue horizon, where the water tastes like wine, Aw, but you know I can get just as lonesome, either side of the line...—Steve Edmunds "First Bird" July 2003 It's always a surprise to see a picture of yourself someone has taken without your knowledge. I think when I see a camera point in my direction I become a different person; the impulse to compose myself is too strong to override, so... continue reading


2003 Akarua Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand

I remember a time not too long ago when I wasn't really convinced that New Zealand could grow good Pinot Noir. This wasn't because the Kiwis weren't making some stunning examples of this varietal, it was because most of what I had encountered up until that point was fairly crap -- green, woody, simplistic Pinots that didn't have the depth or complexity that I was looking for. But I continued to hear from People Who Know that there was some good stuff out there, so I kept looking. Then one day I had some wines from Central Otago, and... continue reading


Yellow Tail: Myth and Monster

I'm a bit behind on my wine reading, so this story is a little old, published as it was a couple of weeks ago, but I can't let it go without comment. W. Blake Gray does a dig into the history of Yellow Tail wines, which, in case you hadn't noticed, was the most insanely popular, top selling wine In America for the last couple of years. What came as a total shock to me, was the fact that this little brand started off basically as a father and son operation in Australia. I'm as guilty as the next wine... continue reading


Vinography at The Commonwealth Club 2/6/06

Normally, knowing that most everyone has a short memory and a tendency to plan not-so-far in advance, I wouldn't post an event announcement this early, but it may sell out, so I'd rather you be able to get tickets if you want them. I will be speaking as part of a moderated panel at the Commonwealth Club Member Forum on Febuary 6th, 2006 in San Francisco. This event will feature a panel of Bay Area Food and Wine bloggers including myself, Pim of ChezPim, Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks and Bruce Cole of Saute Wednesday, and moderator Amanda Berne of... continue reading


WBW#18 Has Been Announced: Don't Drink, Shop.

And now for something completely different. What does your local wine shop smell like? How do you write a tasting note for a store? How do you evaluate the structure and legs of your local wine merchant without offending the women who work there? All of these questions and more have to be evaluated in the next version of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the Web's virtual wine tasting event. Next month's edition, however will be unlike any we've had before. Instead of rating wines, participants will be rating wine shops. Hosted by Tyler over at Dr. Vino, the February event will... continue reading


2003 Parallel Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa

Even though it's the middle of January, and the rest of the country, and much of the Northern Hemisphere is still coated with snow (the ski season is probably at its peak right now) it is Spring in Northern California. The hills are greening, some species of Magnolia are blossoming, and mushrooms are popping up on the forest floors as the rains become more intermittent and we start to get days of sunshine. Mushrooms aren't the only things popping up, seemingly out of nowhere. So are new wine labels. Many are new ventures by new people, but occasionally a label... continue reading


Make Sure You're Drinking With The Right Crowd

We all know that part of the pleasure of a great bottle of wine comes from the folks you share it with. Us wine drinkers tend to be magnanimous types, and happy to drink with anyone who appreciates wine like we do. However, there are dangers inherent in sharing wine that are easy to forget. For instance, you could accidentally decide to have a glass or two with someone who seems nice, like a regular wine loving sort, but who can also turn out to be a murderous psychopath. Wine generally brings out the best in people, but it can... continue reading


2002 Newton Vineyard "Unfiltered" Chardonnay, Napa (Carneros)

Once you're in the wine business, it's hard to leave. So many people become winery owners or winemakers because they are following their personal passions and dreams that few of them, once successful, ever leave the business. Even those who are wildly successful never seem to just cash out and spend the rest of their lives on a sailboat. There's something about wine that keeps tugging at you, I think, keeping you involved. Of course, this is conjecture on my part, based on observations of folks like Peter Newton and his wife Su Hua Newton. Peter founded Sterling Vineyards in... continue reading


15th Annual ZAP Zinfandel Festival: January 25-28, San Francisco

It's time for Zinfandel. Or perhaps it would better be said: it's the Zinfandel time of year. While January is a quiet month in the vineyards of Northern California, it's anything but quiet in San Francisco, as lots of wine events come to town. None is quite as big nor as well known as the annual ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) Festival. The festival takes place over several days, and includes winemaker dinners, seminars, and smaller tastings, but the crown jewel and focus of the event is the public tasting which brings throngs (and that's actually putting it mildly) of... continue reading


Corks and Screwcaps on The Battlefield

I heard them long before they approached. The ground rumbled and the few trees that still clung to their leaves during this cold month finally shed them all, perhaps in fear that they be thought to hide anything, or worse yet, be mistaken for the WRONG sort of tree, if you get my meaning. From over the southwestern horizon I heard the rumbling of their metal roundness. Should the news not have reached you yet, in whatever kingdom you call home, let me be the first to herald the news. The Stelvin Army has sailed from far shores in the... continue reading


WBW#17 Roundup Has Been Posted

Yes, I'm a little late to the train, but at least I didn't miss the party. This month's Wine Blogging Wednesday, the Web's virtual iwine tasting event had bloggers all over the world drinking red wines from New Zealand. This month's host, the Cork Dork, has recently (ok, not TOO recently, but work with me here) posted the roundup of this event with links to the reviews from all thirty-one bloggers who tasted Kiwi reds and lived to blog about it. Lots of Pinot Noir, much of it good was to be had, as well as some other reds mostly... continue reading


Arista Winery, Healdsburg, CA: Current Releases

It's always exciting for me to try new wines from brand new wineries, and its doubly exciting when the wines are actually good. Lots of people spend an awful lot of time and money creating wineries in Napa or Sonoma and end up with wines that are barely noticeable in the sea of average wines available from the region. If the inaugural release of wines from Arista Winery weren't noticed, it certainly wasn't because they were average. I guarantee that while you might not have heard of this Sonoma winery, if you enjoy Pinot Noir you will hear about them... continue reading


Join Vinography For a Drink: Sunday Jan 15th.

In a few short days, I will be celebrating the 2nd anniversary, or birthday, of this Blog. Last year, on my first BlogBirthday, I invited every one of my readers to join me for a drink at a local wine bar. About 15 of you showed up, and it was a great time. I'd like to do it again this year. So here's the deal. On Sunday, January 15th, meet me at the Hotel Biron wine bar at 5:00 PM (see map below). That's when they open and we should have the place to ourselves. We can chat, drink some... continue reading


Wine and Pregnancy: The Facts

I've already spent the afternoon plugging a different set of posts on Tom Wark's Fermentation, but here I am again thanking him for pointing out another excellent bit of writing on the internet, this time about a very interesting and controversial subject: drinking and pregnancy. Tom points us to a post on the Women Wine Critics Board by Israeli wine critic Daniel Rogov (who, I believe is actually not a woman, for the record). Daniel presents a lot of very interesting information about the myths and facts surrounding alcohol consumption during pregnancy. The short story: there is plenty of medical... continue reading


Who is YOUR wine critic?

Who needs wine critics anyway? I've finally caught up on some of my blog reading and I was thrilled to find a fabulous series of posts on fellow blogger Tom Wark's Fermentation where he takes up the question. There are some people out there (especially lawyers) who wish Shakespeare's immortal words had actually been "First thing we do, let's kill all the wine critics...." Tom was prompted to his thoughts on the role of a wine critic by a very interesting editorial in the International Herald Tribune by Tom Standage. Standage traces out some unusual aspects of the history of... continue reading


Wölffer Estate, Sagaponack (Long Island), NY: Current Releases

Today's wine review is brought to you by the letter "W," the umlaut, and the Supreme Court of the United States. The ban on direct shipping from and to New York has been overturned, and there's a lot of talk about whether it really did any good, but today I bring you proof: a hefty cardboard box of wines on my doorstep from Wölffer Estate Vineyards in Long Island, New York. Just a few short months ago, this box might have resulted in New York jail time, or at the very least some significant fines and yanking of licenses.... continue reading


How Much Do You Like Vinography?

I'm pleased to announce that Vinography is one of the finalists for the 2006 Food Blogging Awards. Vinography was nominated in the category of "Best Wine, Beer, & Spirits Blog." It is an honor to be nominated for a second year in this category, considering that in the time since that first nomination, easily 100 new wine blogs have been started all around the world, probably more. The voting on this award has started and will run through January 18th. If you enjoy what you read here, I'd like to humbly ask for your vote. At the very least you... continue reading


2002 Esk Valley Reserve Bordeaux Blend, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Like the rest of the world, at least those who venture beyond the section of the wine shelves marked "California" with any regularity, most of what I drink and have tried from New Zealand is Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. They are unquestionably the two varietals that have had the most success. I have also had some excellent Pinot Gris and Riesling from that area of the world, and have tried a Zinfandel, which was not that great, and a Syrah, which was decent and spoke of some potential, and a fair number of Merlots, which almost without exception were... continue reading


Messages In a Bottle: A Year of Learning

I'm really not one for New Year's resolutions. I've got no list (for you or for me) of must-drink wines for 2006; all those wines on the lists of Top 100 Wines of the Year put out by the glossy wine magazines in the last couple of months are sold out or marked up too high, anyway. There are a few wines in my cellar I need to work through, but I hardly need a resolution to do that, and neither should you. No, at the beginning of each New Year, I like to look back on the prior year... continue reading


Tasting The Oldest and Most Expensive

I don't read the various wine discussion boards out there for any number of reasons, most relevant of which is my lack of time to do so. It's possible to spend all day reading them, let alone posting anything or battling your way though the flame wars and ego-one-upmanship that occasionally rears its ugly head. Thankfully for me, I have several friends who send me interesting tidbits that rise to the surface of all the chaff. A couple of months ago I was alerted to an unusual piece of content on the Mark Squires message boards on Robert Parker's web... continue reading


Cheap(er) Good Eats in San Francisco: Dine About Town

January is one of my favorite months in San Francisco. No, not because I'm some sort of hydrophilic masochist who loves to frolic in the freezing rain and watch towns in Sonoma County and Napa County washed away by rising floodwaters. I love January because it's Dine About Town month in San Francisco, where scores of restaurants, some of them quite good, offer three course fixed-price dinners for $31.95. Some of them also do $21.95 dinners. This is a great way to go out and sample some of the best of what San Francisco has to offer. Some restaurants do... continue reading


L'Aventure Winery, Paso Robles, CA: Current Releases

Down a side road, at the end of another side road, off the pavement and down a gravel road, the hills of Paso Robles rise up like the sharply arched back of a bucking horse. Tucked back in these folds of rolling hills, a few years ago, a determined French winemaker finally set down his luggage and declared himself home. Stéphan Asseo by all accounts should be an Old World winemaker. Trained in the Macon of Burgundy and serving as winemaker for 17 vintages of Bordeaux wines in the St. Emilion, ten years ago anyone willing to wager would most... continue reading


And The Winner Is....

A hearty congratulations to Helen Rennie who is the winner of Vinography's customized Napa or Sonoma wine tour itinerary. Helen's name was picked from among the many people who donated money for this year's A Menu For Hope fundraiser to help the victims of the Kashmir earthquake. I will work with Helen to understand her taste in wine and her style of travel, and then I will provide her with a suggested itinerary for the length of her stay in California wine country. Wherever you are, Helen, congratulations. Drop me an e-mail and we can talk about your trip. I'd... continue reading


Happy New Year

Happy New Year from Vinography. As the rain pours down in sheets here in Northern California, the rivers rise, and the last golden and orange leaves fall from the grapevines, I hope you are cozy and warm wherever you are, enjoying a nice bottle of wine with people that you love. I wish you health and happiness in the year to come, and if you're the resolution creating type, why not resolve to spend more time with the people and doing the things you enjoy most. If one of those is drinking wine, I hope you'll be adventurous -- explore,... 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

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Most Recent Entries

Mega Purple: What Crosses The Line? When The World Turns Upside Down 2003 Bacio Divino " Pazzo" Red Wine, Napa Stinky Wine and A Magic Penny Bordeaux vs. Languedoc: The Knives Come Out The Best of Brunello: Thoughts on The 2001 Vintage Vinography Wins 2005 Food Blogging Award The Latest (Useless) Wine Technology First Bird 2003 Akarua Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand

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