Text Size:-+

~ March 2006 Archives ~



The Turkish Wine Frontier

I'm always interested in new and emerging winemaking regions, especially when they are places that have historically (and I mean mostly ancient history) been well known wine producing regions. Such is certainly the case for Turkey, which produced a lot of wine in centuries past as part of the Holy Roman Empire and later regimes. In addition to this history, Turkey has the interesting distinction, like Egypt and Lebanon, of being a wine producing country whose dominant (but not sole) religion forbids alcohol. Yet, as I was very interested to learn from this news article, Turkey has a growing and... continue reading


Or Are Oak Chips "The Beginning of the End?"

Hot on the heels of the debate from the last couple days here on Vinography about whether oak barrels are obsolete, comes news that France will now allow winemakers to use oak chips in winemaking, along with some other new world techniques, including those which lower the alcohol in wines. The French call them "shavings" but it was announced today by the French Ministry of Agriculture that the lower cost use of oak chips would help French wines better compete on price with others around the world for whom these techniques are, if not prevalent, certainly commonplace. Reactions have ranged... continue reading


Now Anyone Can Taste Bordeaux En Primeur

You know things are getting rough in Bordeaux when they start letting the proletariat in. All joking aside, it's quite astonishing that for the first time since, well, forever, this year the top Chateaux in Bordeaux will allow any Jane or John Q. Public to purchase a ticket to engage in an activity that has for years been solely the privilege of the top trade and media representatives in the wine world. Every Spring, Bordeaux holds its En Primuer weekend, where the recently barreled young vintage of Bordeaux is trotted out and offered to the "people who matter" for tasting.... continue reading


Oak Barrels are Obsolete?

As if the wine world weren't trembling enough from the rumblings of modernity and globalization, the closure wars, the entry of China into the marketplace, and winegrowers rioting in France and more recently in Chile, now a new crack appears in the foundation of traditional wine thinking. Barrels are obsolete. Not necessary. Irrelevant. And, by the way, far too expensive. At least that's what some winemakers, including one fairly accomplished one whose wines I've reviewed here, are saying. The oak trees of the world are no doubt breathing a collective sigh of relief but I'm sure this latest pronouncement will... continue reading


2001 Weingut Nigl "Kremsleiten" Riesling, Kremstal, Austria

I'll be honest with you, I'm a relative newcomer to Austrian and German wines. I haven't been drinking them for years as I have the wines of France, Italy, and California. I'd had one here and one there over the years, but not until I sat down last year and tasted my way through a good 200 different Rieslings and Grüner Veltliners did I really start to understand them in any way. One of the first things I learned was that I really prefer Austrian Rieslings to their German counterparts. Don't get me wrong, the Germans make some good stuff,... continue reading


Yes, But What KIND of Animal?

Sometimes I think that in college statistics courses and job entry screening for folks who conduct surveys, someone must be surreptitiously reprogramming people so that they never quite end up asking the right questions. Oh sure, they gather lots of useful information, some of it actually stuff you want to know. But they never quite end up asking the really important stuff. We all know, and have known for a long time, that critters on wine labels make for better sales. In today's news we learn that recently some folks even quantified it: wines with fuzzy animals or animal names... continue reading


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

The wine world is crowded with authorities on just about everything. Whether they are critics or friends, wine lovers can usually find someone who claims to know an awful lot about some particular thing in the wine world. Even among the most famous of authorities, there are few that equal the depth, the comprehensiveness, and the sheer exhaustive coverage of the Gambero Rosso. Often referred to as THE Italian Wine guide, the Gambero Rosso debuted in 1986 as an eight page newspaper insert. Within a few years of that first insert, it grew into the most respected and most complete... continue reading


Eric Asimov on Robert Parker

Some call him the most powerful critic in the world, of any kind. Some call him the Dictator of Taste. If there's one guy who walks around the wine world with a bull's-eye painted on his ass, it's Robert Parker. The wine critic that everyone loves to hate. Yesterday, Eric Asimov had a very nice piece about Parker in the New York Times. And by nice I mean, honestly, sincerely nice. Almost charming. The piece is not particularly profound, nor does it offer anything substantially new in the way of insight into his character, but it's a nice portrait of... continue reading


The Malibu Wine Classic: April 1, 2006

Even though this event is taking place on April Fool's Day, I promise you it's not a hoax. Of course you may still not believe your eyes when you arrive at oceanside near Zuma beach to find a tent filled with top wineries from the southern Central Coast and food from dozens of top restaurants including Nobu. But that's the appeal of a wine tasting event in Malibu, isn't it. Instead of the pelting rain that attendees of the World of Pinot Noir event were treated to a few weeks ago, you get sand underfoot and balmy temperatures in which... continue reading


Waiter, I'd Like The Vitamin Fortified Cabernet

Let me say straight off the bat that I'm a fan of modern science and medicine. We're doing some amazing things when it comes to understanding many aspects of the world around us. I'll even go so far as to say I'm not entirely against genetically modifying some foods, especially when it's done with humanitarian or critical health goals and is absent the draconian, ahem, corporate politics of folks like Monsanto. But sometimes, science just seems stupid. This little experiment seems like it started with the best intentions: an effort to understand the genetics of tannin production in wine. A... continue reading


Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Paradise Tasting, Sunday March 26th, 2006

The Santa Cruz Mountains is one of the most underappreciated growing areas in California in my opinion, particularly for the Burgundian varietals Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. My experience with producers from the region is not the most extensive, but I have had some killer wines from this appellation at astonishingly low price points, at least compared to their Napa and Sonoma brethren. While some Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs are fetching up to $60 per bottle, 75 miles south there are some real stunners being produced. If you agree, or if you're curious to find out, this coming Sunday is... continue reading


2004 Domaine Rimbert Rosé, Saint Chinian, Languedoc, France

It may be cold as hell in San Francisco right now, and pouring rain earlier in the day, but that doesn't stop me from drinking pink wines. Touted as the savior of summer, and other such nonsense that basically puts these wines on the same level as cold soda pop on a hot day, rosé wines are some of my favorites to pair with a good part of the wide variety of ethnic foods that we eat in the Bay Area on a regular basis. Going out for Mediterranean? Vietnamese? Tapas? I'm much more likely to leave the house with... continue reading


WBW#20 Has Been Announced

I've fallen behind in my blog reading (I'm sure I'm the only one who has that problem) so I've only just become aware that Wine Blogging Wednesday #20 has been announced. Hosted for the first time by someone who is more of a Podcaster than a blogger, Wine for Newbies, this April's virtual wine tasting party will focus on white wines that fall outside of the big three: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling. One of the catches here, though, is that you can't drink a white blend, it's gotta be a 100% varietal wine. Not that this should be a... continue reading


Kicking the Supermarket Wine Habit

Regardless of their expertise, most people I know, including myself, want to become better wine drinkers. By this I mean that we want to drink better wine (without necessarily spending more) and we want to know more about the wine we drink without a lot of extra effort. Some of us may even want to extend our preferences for small, artisan, local producers into buying and drinking wine. Even if you have no self-educational aspirations, the bottom line here is that most of us would like to be drinking better quality wine for our money, no? OK. That was the... continue reading


The Convergence of Wine and Art

It's maddening sometimes to be an ignorant American who only speaks 1.75 languages (a reasonably amount of Spanish and a smidgen of Japanese, in case you were wondering). I can't wait until Google figures out how to take translation to the next level so that I can browse the entire web in English, even when it's written in Romanian. In addition to being able to surf for information on French and Italian wine in those native languages, I would really love to be able to do a search in Serbo-Croatian or Korean to find some more information about artist Anka... continue reading


Sake From Space

Lest you forget that I am a geek at heart, in addition to being a passionate wine lover, I must come clean. My ears did perk up when, thanks to a tip from the folks over at Pink Tentacle, I heard that it might actually be possible to buy Space Sake. Yes, despite an unfortunately chosen launch date of April 1st (which might mean that this IS all an elaborate hoax) it appears that a sake will soon be available that is made from yeast which spent 10 days growing and multiplying in sero gravity, courtesy of the Society of... continue reading


1995 Hau Xia Cabernet Sauvignon, Changli of Hebei Province, China

I've been wanting to try Chinese wine for a year or so, as I've followed the increasing growth of the Chinese wine industry and the growing popularity of wine in China. On a business trip to LA a couple of weeks ago, I happened to eat a rushed meal at the bar in a restaurant with an extensive by-the-glass list, and what should appear on one of the pages but this little gem. When I placed my order, the bartender raised his eyebrow, and said "Oh, adventurous, aren't you?" I don't normally take that as an encouraging sign, but I... continue reading


Something is Different Today

I'm not in the habit of posting announcements about the creation of wine blogs. I get between two and five e-mails per week about a new wine blog starting up. I put links to them on my sidebar and that's it. There are just too many of them to mention each one. But yesterday the world of wine blogs changed. It's hard not to make a big deal out of it because it really is a pretty big deal. The New York Times just launched a wine blog. Following in the footsteps of Frank Bruni's recently started blog, Eric Asimov... continue reading


Champagne: Rated V For Violence

How quickly the world corrupts the most pure of ideals. If there ever was a beverage that could claim divine inspiration it might be Champagne, given to us by the ingenious monk Dom Perignon, who was famously said to mutter in a vision, "bubbles, must have more bubbles." The chosen drink of the worlds elite, from gangsta rappers to the gorgeous of Hollywood, has come a long way from the monastic cells of Northwestern France. On the journey from one pacifist monk's laboratory to the brushed stainless countertops of LA's hippest clubs, it has gotten mixed up in some pretty... continue reading


Keeping The Wine Cool and Shippers Honest

As many of you know, importer Kermit Lynch is one of my heroes. Mostly because he's a wonderful writer and a discoverer of excellent small production wines from France. That alone would be enough to win my admiration. However, he has furthermore won a special place in my heart and in many others' for his tireless use of and evangelization for refrigerated shipping of wine. Lynch has long maintained that shipping across the ocean or across the country exposes wines to fluctuations in temperature that significantly affect its quality. Unfortunately, despite blatantly obvious proof that he is right, much of... continue reading


A Plethora of Pinot Festivals

Die hard fans of Pinot Noir won't find amazing the proliferation of festivals dedicated to the varietal, but it really is quite astonishing just how many there are. In a recent article for the LA Times, Corie Brown explored the phenomenon in some depth. There is really no other wine in the world that inspires such devotion and nearly monomaniacal collecting and drinking. I know that's hard to imagine as we watch thousands upon thousands stream into the ZAP Zinfandel festival in San Francisco each year, overly eager to stain their teeth blue and stagger around. But ZAP is but... continue reading


Red Wine and Dentists

File this one under the category of "can't believe everything you read." Those who follow such things will have noticed headlines over the last few days proclaiming "Red Wine Good for Your Teeth" or "Drink Red Wine, Keep Your Teeth Longer." I'm here to tell you that this news isn't as good as it sounds. First of all, the research findings reported recently about red wine indicate that the polyphenols in red wine inhibit the production of free radicals by various cells in the human body. Apparently someone has taken the leap, because free radicals in high concentration are a... continue reading


1997 Movia Pinot Nero, Brda, Slovenia

Anyone who has ever visited the far Northeast of Italy knows that things get a little wonky up there when it comes to languages, geography, and political affiliations. One town will speak perfect Italian, and you'll find risotto on every table and then a few kilometers away, another town will speak German and serve you knockwurst. Such diversity is actually quite entertaining and makes for a really interesting variety of food and, as luck would have it, wine, too. At the broadest level, the winemaking region of Northeast Italy is known as Friuli, which along with the Trentino Alto-Adige is... continue reading


WBW#19 Roundup Has Been Posted

What happens when 38 bloggers from all over the world take the advice, "When in Rhone drink like one, too?" The answer could only be contained in the roundup from this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday, the monthly virtual wine tasting for bloggers. This month's event, hosted by Jathan over at Wine Expression, focused our attention on Rhone style blends. A surprising number of participants actually broke out Rhone wines for the event, which was great to see. Rhone wines remain some of my favorites in all of France. I have a soft spot in my heart for Gigondas, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and... continue reading


Wine Writing Day Three

Today marked the third and final day of the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, which I have been attending to check out how some people legitimately make a living doing what I dabble at. After some more theoretical sessions on the second day, the third day began with a very focused and tactical panel discussion on working across multiple media. Moderated by Rob Kasper from The Baltimore Sun, the panel included blogger Derrick Schneider, Harriet Bell of Harper Collins and author Leslie Sbrocco. Derrick spoke about blogs, giving the crowd an overview of how they worked, the state of the... continue reading


Wine Writing Day Two

Today marked the second day of the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, which I am attending for a peek into the world of respectable wine journalism, whose fringes I skirt around without knowing the real score, so to speak. The morning began with a panel instruction on writing tasting notes, hosted by Harvey Steiman of The Wine Spectator, Frank Prial of The New York Times, and author and educator Karen MacNeil. Steiman began with a presentation on what he felt were the appropriate components of a tasting note: - What does it look like? - What does it smell like?... continue reading


2000 Pride Mountain Vineyards Syrah, Sonoma

Wine is so gorgeously shareable. Bottles just beg to be drunk not by a single pair of lips but by many, and one of my favorite things to do is pop a cork when friends come over. Many of my friends are not wine collectors in any sense, and I have most of them trained to bring flowers or dessert so I can have an opportunity to share a nice bottle with them. Some of my friends who also happen to be winemakers on the other hand, tend to bring special bottles themselves, and should we ever take the time... continue reading


Rubbing Shoulders With The Talented

So kid, you wanna be a wine writer? That could easily be the opening line on the registration form for the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, a secluded gathering of wine writers from around the country into which I have snuck for a few days this week for a look-see. I found out about the inaugural event too late last year to attend, and so when it came around again this year I thought it would be worth exploring. The event is three days long and I will be blogging about it this week as I understand and experience... continue reading


2001 Phillipe Ehrhart Grand Cru "Brand," Pinot Gris, Alsace

Ever since we figured out the fermentation trick, we humans have grown a lot of grapes. Frankly we've lugged clippings and seedlings and grafts to some of the most unlikely places in the world. It seems like throughout history, we've tried to grow grapes pretty much anywhere we've set down our own roots. The results: a lot of bad wine. There are a lot of vines planted where they shouldn't be. But don't try telling that to the folks that put them there. Once upon a time, when the choice was between some wine (no matter how bad) and no... continue reading


Apologies to E-mail Subscribers

Sorry folks. For some reason I'm having issues sending out the weekly updates to all of you for the last couple of weeks. I've just discovered that the e-mails aren't getting through to most of you. This has something to do with the DNS servers at my ISP and I'm tracking down a solution. Until then, you'll have to come back to the site for your updates. I apologize for the inconvenience.... continue reading


How We Got All These Varietals

Once upon a time, there was an old winemaking family in Australia, whose activity in the wine business stretched back into the late 1800s. Its modern patriarch was Jack Mann, whose career as a winemaker in Australia spanned an amazing 51 vintages. Mann passed away in 1989 at the age of 83, and that same year, a wayward vine sprouted in the corner of the family garden. Recognized as a Cabernet because of its distinct leaf structure, the family let it grow. The vine blossomed and bore fruit just like any other Cabernet Sauvignon with only one major difference. The... continue reading


No Great Wines, Only Great Bottles

Here's an odd truth for you: you never really know how good a wine tastes, even after you've tasted it. The only way to truly understand whether a given wine is any good, and to evaluate just how good it is, is to try it many times. The reason? Something called bottle variation. It's not some insidious thing like cork taint, but subtle and even large differences can exist between two seemingly identical bottles of wine, as any perceptive person who regularly purchases wines in larger quantities can tell you. Most pronounced the older a wine gets (age tends to... continue reading


2004 Domaine Gaillard "Le Secret Ivre" White Wine, Vin de Pays des Collines (Rhone), France

I'm on a kick. That's the opposite of a rut, I guess. I'm drinking a bunch of the same stuff and loving it. This month, despite the chilly weather in San Francisco, I'm all about white wines from the Southern Rhone. I've always enjoyed these in the past when I've had them (most often by the glass at French restaurants) but more and more I'm seeking them out as extremely food friendly alternatives to my usual white Burgundy and whites from the Loire. So when I found myself and a couple of new friends recently in an LA restaurant (possibly... continue reading


Messages In A Bottle: The Taste Of Honey

Perhaps the greatest singular pleasure of wine for me, should I ever be held at gunpoint and forced to choose one, would be its near magical ability to taste like something entirely different from grape juice. Yes, I cannot deny the myriad rich conversations that tracked deep into the night supported by many bottles of the stuff, or the new friends I can count as a result of my interest in and writing about wine. I revel in the differences that I can sense in a bottle sampled carefully over the years, changing, shifting, always something new. But when it... 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 Turkish Wine Frontier Or Are Oak Chips "The Beginning of the End?" Now Anyone Can Taste Bordeaux En Primeur Oak Barrels are Obsolete? 2001 Weingut Nigl "Kremsleiten" Riesling, Kremstal, Austria Yes, But What KIND of Animal? Italy's Best Wines: Tasting The 2006 Tre Bicchieri Winners Eric Asimov on Robert Parker The Malibu Wine Classic: April 1, 2006 Waiter, I'd Like The Vitamin Fortified Cabernet

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