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~ July 2006 Archives ~



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


Wine Tasting Robots From Japan

The Japanese have a national love affair with robots of all kinds. One of the coolest things I ever waited on line for five hours to see was the Tokyo Robot Show, where along with tens of thousands of cameraphone toting young Japanese I got to see the debut of Sony's Qrio and Honda's Asimo bipedal robots. While perhaps not so glamorous as a robot that can walk around, play soccer, and dance, the latest robotic technology out of Japan is perhaps more practical. NEC corporation has developed a robotic sensing apparatus that is capable of analyzing wine samples accurately... continue reading


1999 Gravner Ribolla Gialla, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy

When it comes to winemaking there's New World, and there's Old World. There's new school, and of course, there's old school. And then there are a select few people and wines who make the old school winemakers look like young tykes with newfangled toys. In a world where "traditional" or "natural" winemaking has now become a self imposed designation of the most extreme proponents of biodynamic and non-interventionalist winemaking, Josko Gravner puts them all to shame. These people proclaim how in touch they are with the "traditional" methods of winemaking, but they're still using what Gravner would call modern technology:... continue reading


Note to Self: Don't Send Wine to Tony Blair

International diplomacy is a tough business. Apparently you need to go around walking on eggshells all the time -- never knowing quite when the right time would be to bow, to cough in your sleeve, or to give a fellow diplomat a few bottles of wine. Take the case of France's president Jacques Chirac. Over the past year or so, he's sent his buddy across the channel (Prime Minister Tony Blair) some wine on several occasions. Unfortunately, though, it looks like it hasn't gone over too well. This could be for any number of reasons. Britain could be pulling the... continue reading


The Spectator Grand Award Wizard Speaks

No system of awards and ratings for restaurants can ever be perfect. From Zagat to Michelin to the James Beard Awards, they've all got their own way of doing things that any number of people can object to. Having said that, it's clear that all award systems are not created equal. You'll often find me criticizing the Wine Spectator for this or that, and while I've often wondered exactly what goes into their restaurant awards (my Dining Issue just appeared in the mailbox recently) I haven't lost much sleep over it. Not so for Mark Fisher of the Dayton Daily... continue reading


Restaurant Review: Sucre, Buenos Aires

There's a variety of hipness that's universally understood in the early twenty first century, at least among first-world nations. Expressed through the convergence of modern industrial architecture, deep house music, exotic cocktails, great wine and great food, this essence of contemporary culture springs up in every major city, and attracts the beautiful, the adventurous, and the well heeled like moths to the flame. Its street address in Buenos Aires is Sucre 676. Sucre Restaurant, ripped neatly off its foundations and settled down intact and operational, would be an instant success in every major metropolitan area I've ever been to, from... continue reading


It's The Bee's Knees. Er. Nose.

If we're reasonably perceptive people, we all have moments in life where things are revealed to us that provide a whole new layer of understanding and complexity to the world. One that I only vaguely remember took place in sixth or seventh grade, but outside the context of school. I think it was a friend's father who was trying to help me understand that we don't really "see" the world, rather, he was trying to get me to understand that what we see is only a tiny slice of "reality." He then proceeded to show me a series of images... continue reading


Vinography Profiled

Occasionally I get asked how this whole Vinography thing got started, and there certainly is a story (though, I'll warn you in advance, not a very gripping one). Various snippets have come out in the media coverage that I've received over the past couple of years, but one of the more in depth articles has just appeared on a nice little website called The Blog Reader. I had a very nice conversation the other day with P.G. Sittenfeld, who asked me all sorts of interesting questions about how Vinography got started and what I'm doing with the site. There are... continue reading


Drinking Pink: Notes From the RAP Pink Out Rose Tasting

When the temperatures are topping out above 90 nearly every day in San Francisco, you know it's hot. The poor folks in the rest of the country are usually anywhere from ten to twenty degrees hotter than we ever get, so we have no reason to complain. But we might have reason to heavily chill some rosé and take off all our clothes. It's no wonder then, that in addition to seeing more publicly bared flesh within the San Francisco city limits than I can remember in a long time, I also found myself at the RAP Pink Out Rosé... continue reading


The Blogger and The Critic's Golden Tastebuds

When I was a kid, I didn't have a television, but whenever I got the chance at a friend's or neighbors house, I loved to watch Looney Toons. In particular, I loved the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons. They were amazing in their ability to make you laugh with absolutely no dialogue whatsoever. It was the strangest thing when one day they actually had the first episode where Wiley talked. Initially I was shocked and outraged. But then he uttered what is still one of my favorite lines ever: "Allow me to introduce myself. Wile E. Coyote, SUPER Genius!".... continue reading


Wine Writers, Polish Your Résumés

Serious applicants only please. It has come to me through the top-secret grapevine that Linda Murphy, long-time wine editor at the San Francisco Chronicle just announced her imminent departure. This surprise move opens up one of the most prominent wine writing positions around. The weekly dedicated Wine section of the San Francisco Chronicle is the only one of its kind in the nation, and most recently won the 2004 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Food and Wine Section in any U.S. newspaper. It also has an incredible amount of readership outside of the San Francisco metro area, making it... continue reading


2004 Sula Vineyards Chenin Blanc, Nashik, India

Regular readers know I jump at any opportunity to try interesting wines, especially from regions that I'm unfamiliar with. I've been hearing about Indian wines off and on for a while now, and I took special note when I saw recently that some famous winemakers like Michel Rolland were going there to help people make wine. India is such a huge country with such a wide range of topography that there just have to be places that are good for growing wine grapes, provided there were people with the interest and the expertise to do so. Apparently, the Nashik region... continue reading


The Trainwreck of an Online Wine Community

I don't know a lot of things, but during my short time on this earth, I have observed what I believe to be some predictable tendencies of the particular animal we call human beings. The males of the species are arrogant and proud, yet they have the most tender of egos. They swell with self importance, and rage when insulted. Both males and females are born defensive and only become less so through careful conditioning. When they collect in the groups we know as communities they have a tendency to squabble, opine, piss off, and otherwise make fools of themselves... continue reading


Familiar Bedfellows Now Go Commercial

In the category of "it's about time" comes a recent announcement that seems to make perfect sense. At least to me. When I was working in Japan for some time, I couldn't really watch TV for very long, as my command of the language was pretty limited. I would get a laugh out of the crazy game shows they had on, but they were only entertaining for about ten minutes. After that, I needed to do something else to relax, and inevitably that meant curling up with a good book and a glass of wine. So why has it taken... continue reading


2004 Arista Winery "Harper's Rest" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, CA

I first learned about Arista Winery late last year when I had the opportunity to taste what the winery called it's "first commercial release." They had made some wines before, under different ownership and with different fruit, but the winery had recently been revamped, and its owners were aiming for a fresh start. And quite a start they got. Their initial wines were excellent across the board, and their new tasting room, set back among the oaks and rock outcroppings in the rolling hills near Healdsburg, was stunning. The winery has just released its "second" vintage under the new ownership... continue reading


Uh oh. Screwcaps Will Ruin the Planet.

Excuse me if I seem dazed, but I'm still in shock after reading that the World Wildlife Fund has actually made a public statement suggesting that winemakers should continue to use cork stoppers, if only for the good of the planet. I hope that made you do a double-take, too. Apparently not only do screwcaps fight cork taint, they also cause forest fires, economic depression, and harm endangered species. You always suspected that, didn't you? Actually, to be more precise, the WWF suggests that a thriving cork industry prevents such things, by offering jobs to the locals, well maintained forests... continue reading


2005 German and Austrian Wines: Tasting The Terry Theise Portfolio

The wine world needs more people like Terry Theise. It's easy to get caught up in the stuffy, over-intellectualized world of wine geekery, where people endlessly debate the smallest aspects of winemaking or vintage ratings. All of us who spend enough time talking, thinking, and reading about wine get sucked into that world occasionally, and I find myself attracted to those who fall into that trap with the least regularity. As luck would have it, there are several simple cures for me readily at hand whenever I forget that wine is first and foremost fun. One of them arrives... continue reading


Unlocking the Secrets of Our Noses

Have you ever read some tasting notes (maybe mine) and then tried the wine and thought to yourself, "this doesn't taste ANYTHING like what he described?" Well scientists are on the way towards validating something that many folks have anecdotally believed for a long time: we all perceive smells differently. Scientists have long known that each of us processes colors in the visible spectrum uniquely -- my perception of orange may be similar to, but is just slightly different than your orange. But now they are coming to the same conclusion with aromas. Unveiled at a recent wine conference in... continue reading


Announcing WBW24: Drink Loire Whites With Vinography

August marks the second anniversary of the blogosphere's virtual wine tasting event known as Wine Blogging Wednesday. I can remember when its founder, Lenn e-mailed me to ask whether I thought people would even participate in such an event! At the time I had no idea, but I gamely signed up to host the second ever version of the event. Now after two years we're still regularly getting twenty to forty participants every month. The themes have ranged far and wide, from esoteric to simple, but my favorites are always the straightforward appellation tastings. So with that in mind... continue reading


Messages In a Bottle: The Cook's Wine Cellar

Whenever people find out that I write about wine, the first question is always "Wow. Do you make a living at that?" The answer, people, is no. The second question (if I get one and people don't smile knowingly and start discussing the weather) varies, usually with the intellect and sensitivity of the individual. Inevitably, no matter how subtle a conversationalist or how knowledgeable a wine lover, the questioner poses some variation of "So what do you like to drink?" Which really, most of the time, means "So what do you recommend for me to drink?" And this is the... continue reading


Wine Dinner of The Century or a Waste of Great Wine?

There's an extravagance that's hard to avoid among wine lovers. The more experience people get with wine, and the deeper they fall for it, the more they tend to spend per bottle and the more wine they tend to amass. Some wine lovers, of whom you know or at least have heard, spend staggering amounts of money on their passion (or habit). For some of these folks, there is no wine that is too expensive, no bottle too rare, no wine list that is too overpriced. Many of these folks exercise their habit and their pocketbooks at lavish wine dinners... continue reading


WBW#23 Roundup Has Been Posted: BBQ Wine

What do wine and food bloggers drink while they barbecue? Once this was an elusive and top secret fact, but no more. More than twenty of us have confessed what we'd prefer to, or at least have tried successfully, to drink with grilled stuff and BBQ as part of Wine Blogging Wednesday #23. Hosted by Joel over at Vivi's Wine Journal, the wrap-up for this month's virtual wine tasting event has been posted and the choices of wine are quite interesting. Zinfandel and Syrah were obvious popular choices, but we also saw several roses, sparkling Chardonnay, a surprising number of... continue reading


British Pensioners to Rescue France?

Surely you've heard of the "wine lake" ? This lovely phrase refers to the millions of gallons of wine produced in Europe, but primarily France, which has no sales outlet. It can't be sold because there's just too much of it made, too little of it consumed, and no matter what they mark it down to, the price just ain't right to buy. This is, of course, the reason that a lot of winegrowers in France are upset, and why a few of them have turned terrorist and are doing awful things like blowing up buildings and toppling tanker trucks,... continue reading


2003 Bokisch Graciano, Lodi, CA

There are endless stories of winemakers (and those who dream of becoming winemakers) spending their careers and lives waiting for the chance to finally buy a piece of land in Napa and start their own label. Markus and Liz Bokisch did just the opposite. It wasn't necessarily that they wanted to flee Napa. Markus was having a fine time as a viticulturalist working for Joseph Phelps, and in particular in his role on what Phelps called the "Le Mistral" program. Markus' job was to scour Northern California for out of the way growing areas planted with old vines bearing Grenache,... continue reading


RAP (Rose Avengers & Producers) Tasting, July 17th, San Francisco

I'll skip all the clichés. You're getting enough of them from the mainstream wine media at this point in the summer. Let's just get right to it: pink wines rock. You might not think so, but you're wrong. And eventually you'll see the light. They're great with food, very tasty, and the good ones don't taste anything like White Zinfandel. Which is why it might be fun for you to join those of us who need no convincing at the second annual Rose Avengers and Producers Pink-Out tasting on July 17. Started by a group of winemakers who had... continue reading


Fallout From The Second Paris Tasting

May marked the 30th anniversary of the famous 1976 Paris Tasting in which French wine experts selected California wines over their French counterparts in a blind tasting. Those of you who follow wine news know, of course, that in the rematch of the original red wines that was staged to commemorate the anniversary, California wines won again, and decisively. So I've been wondering, what the impact will be. Of course it's too soon to know if it will really have any impact on the wine world from a market perspective, but I've been watching to see what effect it has... continue reading


Special SF Meal Deals in July Courtesy of Visa

As a San Francisco food lover, I always look forward to January when Dine Around Town gives us all a chance to eat out at some great restaurants without breaking the bank. Recently, these sorts of deals, and the sponsored events that make them possible have started to spring up at other times of the year. Case in point: the Dine Out With Visa promotion that starts today in San Francisco. Roughly fifty restaurants are offering special four-course meals for $54.95 if you ask for the "special menu" and you pay with your Visa. Be aware that many of these... 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

Cameron Hughes Wines, San Francisco: Current Releases Wine Tasting Robots From Japan 1999 Gravner Ribolla Gialla, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy Note to Self: Don't Send Wine to Tony Blair The Spectator Grand Award Wizard Speaks Restaurant Review: Sucre, Buenos Aires It's The Bee's Knees. Er. Nose. Vinography Profiled Drinking Pink: Notes From the RAP Pink Out Rose Tasting The Blogger and The Critic's Golden Tastebuds

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