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~ April 2006 Archives ~



The Deep End of Wine Analysis

Randall Grahm, the founder and owner of Bonny Doon Vineyard, is definitely one of my wine heroes, if only because of his persistence in the face of ridicule and derision when he first attempted to make wines here in California. I also love his sense of humor, and his insistence on making every last one of his wines fun. He approaches the business with what I believe is the right spirit and lack of pretension, and is a champion of the average consumer. Recently Grahm has also taken up the practice and the cause of biodynamic viticulture. I don't hold... continue reading


WBW#21 Has Been Announced: Food with Your Wine

May 19th might become known as Founders' day in the food and wine blogging world. That's the date of the next Wine Blogging Wednesday, our monthly virtual wine tasting event here in the blogosphere. It was announced recently that this episode is going to be a little different. For starters, it is coordinated to occur simultaneously with IMBB#26 (Is My Blog Burning, the original community blogging event which inspired Wine Blogging Wednesday). These two simultaneous blogging events also happen to be hosted this month by their respective founders, making this a joint celebration of two very successful online community events.... continue reading


Vinography in Fast Company Magazine

Back in 1998 and 1999 Fast Company magazine was the news-ticker heartbeat of Silicon Valley. I used to read it, along with the Industry Standard, Red Herring, and Wired, with awe and excitement at the dot.com explosion going on around my ears. To be in Fast Company at that time meant that you were either striking it rich or royally screwing up (of course now we know that sometimes they were the same thing). At the time Fast Company wasn't just a magazine it was a newly minted adjective. If your company was a fast company, it was breaking all... continue reading


The Government Is Always Right. Right?

File this one under protectionism, cross referenced with idiocy. I tend to give the French government and trade bodies a lot of shit because of stupid appellation rules, but today the French get a pass. Its the Spanish who need to have their heads examined after passing legislation last month stipulating that in order to put the DO (Denominación de Origen) status on their wines the bottles need to be closed with a cork. And only a cork. To put a finer point on it, if you don't have a cork in the bottle then you can't call your wine... continue reading


Marketing Wine by....Comic Book ?

The story of how cute fuzzy animals help to sell wine is an old one. People are wise to the power of cute when it comes to selling wine, but that appears to be largely a US phenomenon. What then is the key that will unlock other cultures? What will make the Italians go nuts? Who holds the secret to the passion of the French? I suppose it's not any surprise, but the answer to how to market wine in Japan lies not with cute animals (though there's no shortage of them in Japanese marketing) but with comic books. Most... continue reading


Eric Asimov on Numerical Ratings

The topic of wine ratings has provoked some of the liveliest discussions here on Vinography, and the same also seems to be true on Eric Asimov's blog, The Pour. Eric posted his thoughts, good and bad, about ratings last week and it has generated a lot of response from his readers. The debate isn't materially different than those which have raged here on Vinography, but there's a lot of good discussion. As a side note, it's interesting to see that Asimov himself has not joined the fray. Blogging for the New York Times seems to not include taking part in... continue reading


Bodega Carlos Pulenta, Mendoza, Argentina: Current Releases

Beginning a new winery venture in a region with a long history of viticulture provides the aspiring new winery the opportunity to avoid starting from scratch. While many of Mendoza's wineries fell into disuse in the 1920's, agricultural pressure in the region was low, and many old vineyards and vineyard sites survived. Still more were planted optimistically as the country began to recover from its extreme drop in wine consumption, but then abandoned when the recovery proceeded slower than the hopes of many winegrowers. The net result of such trends, large tracts of vineyards in various states of disrepair are... continue reading


Paso Robles Comes to San Francisco: May 2, 2006

I really like Paso Robles wine, but it's just so far away. If you're like me, the three and a half hour drive is just a bit daunting when it comes to making plans for a Saturday wine tasting. When you know that old saying about the mountain and Moses? Paso Robles is coming to San Francisco. On May 2, over forty different wineries from the Paso area will be at Crushpad in San Francisco pouring their wines and meeting the crowd. And if that's not enough of a draw for you, you can also observe the casting call for... continue reading


Why Slander a Grape?

Frequent readers will know that I have a lot of respect and admiration for Michael Steinberger. I think he's a great wine writer, and up until last week, I counted him among the few wine writers I enjoy that also lacked a veneer of pretense and snobbery. But then I read this. I don't know what happened to Steinberger. Perhaps he got up on the wrong side of the bed. But in the course of 1500 words or so, he manages, putting it bluntly, to tear Sauvignon Blanc a new one. Why this poor varietal should come under attack, is... continue reading


Where To Go. According To Food & Wine

Despite the fact that the web is expanding, at this point faster than the universe itself is expanding, it seems, there aren't many really good resources for gourmet travelers. By good I mean resources with depth, breadth, and credibility. Blogs like Vinography (I hope) are starting to become trusted sources for advice in these areas, but many bloggers don't have the time or luxury to do comprehensive surveys of multiple regions with any consistency. That's why it's great to find resources like The Go List, a recent feature by Food and Wine that offers restaurant, bar and hotel recommendations for... continue reading


Bodega Weinert, Mendoza, Argentina: Current Releases

There's new world wineries. There's old world wineries. And then there are wineries that have been around for so long that old world only barely begins to describe them. As a country with a relatively long history of winemaking, Argentina has its share of the latter, and Bodegas Weinert would certainly qualify as a preeminent example. Though not old compared to some of its European forbearers, in Argentina, Weinert is ancient. Like many of the oldest wineries in the region, however, its history transcends its modern owners. Weinert was founded in 1890 by a Spanish Immigrant family named Otera. This... continue reading


Put Down That Glass Of Wine. It Might Be Bad For You.

My dad has been slowly switching from beer to wine. I'd like to say it's my influence, but I can hardly take full credit. Certainly one of the motivating factors has been all the great health news about drinking red wine in moderation. I used to keep track of all the health benefits of red wine, but they got so numerous that I had to stop, otherwise I would be reporting several new ones per week. Literally. One of the longest standing research results about red wine's health properties has been its benefits for the heart, specifically it's tendency to... continue reading


The Alcohol Problem, Three Ways

Rising alcohol levels in wine is one of the hot-button issues of the wine world. Many wine lovers, including many readers of Vinography, think this is one of the most pressing problems with wine today and bemoan the fact that fewer and fewer wines can actually be drunk with dinner (as higher alcohol levels make it more difficult to pair wines with food). This concern is based in solid fact. Alcohol levels in California wine in particular have risen several absolute percentage points in the last two decades, and perhaps even up to 20% relative to earlier levels. Today the... continue reading


Do Many 2005 Bordeaux Wines Suck?

Any wine lover who pays attention to what's going on in Europe, or anyone who reads this blog regularly will have heard the hype about the 2005 Bordeaux harvest. While wine marketers have a habit of using the phrase "vintage of the decade" far too often for their own good, it certainly seems that 2005 had something going for it in Bordeaux. The pre-release prices for the first growth Chateaux are stratospherically high and the wine world is abuzz with the excess of it all. It was only a matter of time, then, before we heard from someone who thinks... continue reading


Reviews of Argentinean Wine: Part III

When I go traveling to a new wine region, in order to learn the most about the wines there, I employ a highly sophisticated three-pronged strategic approach. I order a bottle at every meal. Or I ask a sommelier for wine pairings with every meal. I go to wine bars where I can taste a lot of things. And I go to wineries. OK. Maybe that's actually a four pronged strategy. And maybe it's not that strategic. Regardless, one of my favorite things to do is taste new wines, and I've had a great time doing that in Argentina. On... continue reading


WBW#20 Wrap Up Has Been Posted

I was too busy drinking Malbec on a river raft last week in Northern Patagonia to participate in Wine Blogging Wednesday. Besides, a white wine of a single varietal (the theme of this month's event, hosted by Wine For Newbies) wouldn't have gone well with our beef stuffed with smoked bacon. While I'm not sorry to have been stuck on the crystalline waters of the Rio Nimay, I am a little sorry that I didn't have a chance to participate in what looks like a great instance of our monthly wine tasting event.. A roundup has been posted where you... continue reading


Wine and Civilization: The Worlds Earliest Tasting Notes

Thanks to regular reader Hector Hill for pointing me to a great article from the LA times about the early history of my second profession: wine geek. Apparently the early Greeks were the early geeks, and had all sorts of arguments and discussions about the merits of various vintages, wine growing regions, and more. They even wrote tasting notes in the fifth century BC. This one is absolutely priceless: "Sweet generous Magnesian, and Thasian over which the scent of apples plays, this I judge much the best of all the other wines, after fine and harmless Chian. There is a... continue reading


Viña Alicia, Mendoza, Argentina: Current Releases

I came to Argentina in search of greatness. Specifically, I wanted to find the Malbec that would knock my socks off. I had tried dozens, even scores of Malbecs before my trip, including the highest rated wines from some of the glossy magazines, but I still had not tasted a wine that showed me the promise that so many people spoke of when they predicted a great future for Argentinean Malbec. That has all changed now. Last week we drove the back streets of Lujan de Cuyo, fifteen minutes south of Mendoza, and pulled to a stop on a short... continue reading


Reviews of Argentinean Wine: Part II

For two weeks I've been trying every Argentinean wine I can get my hands on. I've also tried hard to experience as many of the wines from the local regions that Ruth and I have visited as possible. We spent some time down in Bariloche Patagona and got to experience a few of the wines from the Rio Negro, Argentina's (and some say the world's) southernmost winegrowing region. We didn't include Salta on this trip but the more wines I taste from that region, the more I'm looking forward to visiting next time I return to Argentina. And of course,... continue reading


Bodega Familiar Adrover, Mendoza, Argentina: Current Releases

I love visiting new wine regions in person. There's nothing like wandering through the back roads of a wine region to stumble across the wine equivalent of diamonds in the rough. Today, as we careened through the potholed streets of Lujan de Cuyo, one of the sub regions of the Mendoza Province, we chanced upon a small bodega (winery) named Adrover. After poking our heads in the gate and seeing indications of willingness to chat with us and show us around, we spent the next hour tasting some of the better wines we have had an opportunity to taste here... continue reading


Restaurant Review: Cabaña Las Lilas, Buenos Aires

If there's not already a saying, there should be one, and it would go something like this: "You can eat incredibly well in Argentina. As long as you like meat." Judging from the listings in the phone book and the signs on the street, every other restaurant must be a steakhouse. OK, so I exaggerate a bit, but seriously, these people eat a lot of meat, and when they do, they consume it in mass quantities. At the lower-end places, they sometimes put pictures of their steaks in the windows, and some of the slabs of meat are so monstrous... continue reading


What's Wrong With America?

So I'm sitting in our rented apartment in Buenos Aires, waiting for Ruth to come back from an afternoon's shopping, so we can go out and consume massive quantities of beef and red wine for the fourth glorious night in a row. Don't feel like reading, so I turn on the TV and what should I find but a show called Vinos de Altura, which as far as I can tell is primarily wine and tangentially about food. How cool is that? OK. So we've got those kind of shows too, but it gets better. Now they're interviewing the winemaker... continue reading


Keeping Tabs on Terroir

As I surf the current state of the Wine Web I collect links to interesting things that I hope to offer up to readers. Occasionally something just gets lost in whatever is the digital world equivalent of the cracks between the sofa cushions. That's why I haven't posted anything about this extremely interesting article on some of the current thinking about the concept of terroir Written by Roger Bohmrich, it explores much of the debate over the meaning of the term. Also, and perhaps most importantly, it dives into some of the complexity of the issue, especially when one attempts... continue reading


Reviews of Argentinean Wine, Part I

When I travel to a new wine region, I try to bring a mix of serendipity and focus to the way I taste. In the first part of our trip, Ruth and I have been eating our way around the various neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, with an emphasis on the more formal restaurants in the city. As a result, we've been chatting with some sommeliers who have provided assistance with both styles of exploration -- pointing me to specific Malbecs that I'm interested in sampling, but also trotting out a whole range of other wines from the region for me... continue reading


Messages In a Bottle: The Razor's Edge of Wine

That wine is getting better, for the majority of wine drinkers in the United States, can hardly be denied. By and large this means that the millions of bottles that fall somewhere in the five to ten dollar price range and which are purchased overwhelmingly at supermarkets have seen a noticeable increase in quality over the last decade or two. This increase in quality is manifest both in a larger diversity of wines as well as the essential truth that, on the whole, they taste a lot better. This sea change, which has been accompanied by, and which to a... continue reading


Restaurant Review: Cambalache, Buenos Aires

A friend of mine has a theory which is best expressed as "every culture has its version of burrito." He means that no matter what country you go to, the local ethnic food will include a dish that involves wrapping some tasty filling up in some bread or bread substitute (tortilla, seaweed, bread, rice paper, lettuce, crepes, etc.). Why he has this theory, I have no idea, but I have yet to find an exception. Perhaps its because this sort of eating is fast and filling for the hard working lower classes in every culture, who leave early, come home... continue reading


In Search of The Great Malbec

AKA, Vinography visits Argentina. These next two weeks Ruth and I will be traipsing around Argentina, and you get to come along for the ride. We're headed to Buenos Aires, Patagonia, and of course, Mendoza for a little R&R as well as to scope out the scene in what many people are calling the Paris of the Southern Hemisphere. My mouth is already watering at the prospect of big juicy steaks at 30 cents to the dollar and the opportunity to sample top Malbecs from the best wine lists in the country. I've yet to have a Malbec that knocks... continue reading


Making a Living in The Wine Business

So you have fantasies about telling that corporate job to shove it and becoming a cellar rat? Got a carboy of wine under the kitchen table and dreaming of being a winemaker? Just have a passing interest in what people actually get paid to stomp grapes? I'm here to tell you: not much. Well, some people are making a decent living in the wine business, but not everyone. It's a glamorous business, but like so many businesses which deal with products that have an inherent romance, the wine business is a tough place to earn a buck if you don't... continue reading


California's Best Syrah: Tasting The Rhone Rangers 2006

Two weeks ago, the annual Rhone Rangers tasting returned to San Francisco, bringing producers of Rhone varietals from all over the Western states together for a weekend of wine tasting at Fort Mason in San Francisco. The first Rhone style wines were made in California in the late 1970s, and by 1988 there were a group of about 18 winemakers meeting regularly to discuss what then might still be called an experiment -- growing Syrah in California. The following ten years saw an explosion in the California wine industry in general, and significant growth in the production of wines... 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

The Deep End of Wine Analysis WBW#21 Has Been Announced: Food with Your Wine Vinography in Fast Company Magazine The Government Is Always Right. Right? Marketing Wine by....Comic Book ? Eric Asimov on Numerical Ratings Bodega Carlos Pulenta, Mendoza, Argentina: Current Releases Paso Robles Comes to San Francisco: May 2, 2006 Why Slander a Grape? Where To Go. According To Food & Wine

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