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~ August 2006 Archives ~



My Ethics as a Wine Blogger

In the past, I've talked a bit about the mechanics of how I review wine here at Vinography -- my use of a deliberately vague 10 point scale, a preference for tasting blind, etc. But I haven't talked a lot about the fuzzier side of wine reviewing. Like the cases of wine I get in the mail; the wining and dining opportunities; the press passes; the press junkets; the comfort women. OK, so no one has ever sent me a strip-o-gram. But I have been offered nearly everything else under the sun and I have some pretty strict rules for... continue reading


I Can't Believe I Agree With Him

I really wasn't going to comment on this. I wasn't, I wasn't, I wasn't. I gritted my teeth, bit my knuckles, and put my fingers in my ears. I was so very nearly successful at not mentioning the fact that California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the state bill that would have recognized Zinfandel as the state's "historic grape." Why? Because I had nothing to say, and somewhat embarrassingly, I completely agreed with his decision. I made my views on the subject known a long time ago: what a phenomenal waste of legislative time and money this was. Worth a veto... continue reading


1988 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France

Wine, when at its most triumphant and expressive, nearly defies description. Some people speak of "perfect wines" which is always a problematic moniker, because the appreciation of wine is always contextual and always subjective. But there are some wines that have a magic to them -- from the instant they touch your lips to the residual memories that linger for days after their consumption. These wines bafflingly seem to be more than the sum of their parts, as if someone added two and three and got six -- they shine brighter and deeper than it seems possible for a simple... continue reading


Got a Headache? Try a Wine Facial.

Many people complain of headaches caused by wine. Often these headaches are attributed to sulfites in the wine, though there is some debate among doctors and wine lovers as to whether this is really the cause. But no matter how you get them, now it seems that their cure may be found in the same glass they came from. At least that's what a growing trend among Indian women might lead you to believe. Apparently wine-based spa treatments are all the rage in the city of Jaipur, one of the larger cities in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Jaipur is... continue reading


Why Sometimes It's Good To Be a Winegrower

How does this sound to you? If you're a winegrower anywhere in the United States you can donate your vineyards to a local land trust (a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping land free from commercial development) before January 1, 2007, continue to work the land for as long as you and your heirs want to, all the while deducting potentially up to 100% of your Adjustable Gross Income from your taxes for the next fifteen years. Yes, that's right. Make a commitment that your vineyard will never be turned into condos or a luxury resort and potentially you can pay... continue reading


California's Best Small Wine Producers: A Report From Family Winemakers 2006

I'm still in recovery. You'll break out the violins and run weeping when you hear it, but it really is tough work tasting nearly five hundred wines over the course of two days. So tough, in fact, that I'm never going to do it again. Yes, you heard me right. I've reached my limit. And so I think, has Family Winemakers. The Family Winemakers Association is a marketing association dedicated to the support and promotion of small family winemakers of California. A noble cause, indeed. But now there are just....so many of them. It's really quite amazing. Over four hundred... continue reading


The Joy of Sake Tasting: August 31, San Francisco

Ah, Sake. The inspiration for hundreds of haiku through the ages. The drink of Shoguns. And, on the other hand, the source of innumerable college hangovers, and the raucous cries of "Ichi, Ni, San, Sake Bomb!!" My very first legal alcoholic drink was a sake bomb. Something I'll probably never live down. Perhaps though I am starting to make up for it by enjoying fine sake for the past seven or eight years the proper way: lightly chilled and as far away from a pint of beer as possible. Sake is way past "becoming" a hip new trend. It's a... continue reading


Cumulus Wines, Orange, Australia: Current Releases

Where exactly on earth is Orange? Sounds like the beginning of either a children's riddle or a dirty joke. But it's a very interesting question, especially if you care about Australian wine Orange is the most interesting Australia appellation that I've never heard of. Interestingly, it's one of the closest appellations to Sydney, but somehow has never made it out of the shadow of its elder sibling, the Hunter Valley. Yet this craggy region, marked by extinct volcanoes and plunging hills, is one of Australia's highest altitude and coolest winegrowing zones, and to a certain type of winemaker and wine... continue reading


The Benefits of Socialized Medicine

I really enjoyed the time I spent in England as an exchange student during college. I fit pretty well into the culture there despite my extreme aversion to Black and Tans and the occasional pair of white socks which marked me as a clear Yank. I have fond memories of lots of things, including my only run-in with the British medical system, which made treatment for a set of infected, recently removed wisdom teeth both literally and figuratively painless. Not to mention, completely free. While I know all sorts of problems exist with the current system, including many people having... continue reading


Otokoyama Daiginjo Sake, Hokkaido, Japan

Sake is made in the depths of winter, when the frozen air is at its most pure, and the water is barely flowing. Many sake breweries are situated in locations expressly designed to capitalize on the pristine qualities that winter can bring to the sake brewing process. It's no wonder, then, that there is some darn fine sake being made on the island of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island. Here the snows blow in from the Sea of Japan, and fall heavy and deep after a short, brilliant Autumn. Temperatures regularly drop below zero, and like many places in the extreme... continue reading


THIS is Wine Globalization

In case anyone was still on the fence about this whole globalization phenomena, the latest news from Germany should be enough to convert even those few who might still be clinging to the notion that it's not all just one big global economy. The famed Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region of Germany, home to some of the country's best wines, is about to have its name changed to make its wines more "accessible" to consumers. In case it's not perfectly clear, those consumers AREN'T the Germans. No, the Germans don't seem to have issues pronouncing the names of places like Gimmeldinger Mandelgarten that... continue reading


East Bay Vintners Tasting: Saturday August 26th, Oakland, CA

Us wine lovers in San Francisco are some of the luckiest people in the world. Not only do we live in a city that provides access to fantastic food and wine, we're an hour from wine country and world-class wines. Of course, that hour-long drive is still too much for some people. You know who you are. You have the best intentions -- really, you're always meaning to head up to Napa to do a little tasting, or to spend an afternoon in Healdsburg at their local wine tasting bar, but somehow you never quite get around to it. For... continue reading


2004 Shafer Vineyards "Red Shoulder Ranch" Chardonnay, Carneros, Napa

Nobody likes to be pigeonholed. It's easy, though, to be typecast when you're really, really good at doing one thing. There are a lot of wineries whose product portfolios are victims of their own success, and nowhere is that true more than Napa. So many people are looking for that blockbuster Napa Cabernet to put them on the map, but ironically when they make one, quite often it eclipses all of their other offerings. Which is why many people might be saying as they read this, "Shafer makes a Chardonnay?!?" Shafer Vineyards is, of course, known for their red wine,... continue reading


The Future of Wine Storage?

These days all the new wine gadgets I hear about seem to have something to do with using magnets or cosmic rays or something to make cheap wine taste better or to make young wine taste properly aged. It's pretty rare to see a major innovation in the wine world that actually represents a serious breakthrough in anything. Which is why when someone sent me the link to Spiral Cellars, I got so excited. They seem to be a great concept. Anywhere that you can dig a big hole under your house, you can have a wine cellar. They seem... continue reading


THIS is the Average American Wine Consumer

It's easy for everyone, especially wine lovers on either coast to lose sight of what wine consumption in America is really like. Especially in the cocoon that is the San Francisco Bay Area, it's extremely hard to imagine what most Americans are drinking when we have such a bounty of fine wine available to us nearly everywhere and all the time. Thankfully, there's someone out there keeping track. Since 1988 Restaurant Wine Magazine has been carefully surveying distributors, consumers, and the restaurant industry to determine, with some accuracy, what are the top wines ordered in American restaurants by consumers. The... continue reading


Wine Worms and Bottled Laser Beams

I love this industry. People are wiling to try anything once. And after a few glasses they seem to be willing to try anything a few more times, just for good measure. This past week has been an especially choice week for news about the cutting edge of high technology us in the wine world. And what does it involve? Worms and laser beams. Two of my favorite things in the world. When I was eight years old. But the researchers of the world don't let adolescence get in the way of some really good science. If they did, how... continue reading


Family Winemakers Tasting: Sunday, August 20th, San Francisco

I can hardly believe it's here again, but there it is on the calendar. A week from tomorrow, San Francisco is playing host to what is probably one of the highest quality wine tasting events anywhere in the world. That is, if you care for California wine. But even the most die-hard Francophiles should have a hard time staying away from an event that features hundreds of the smallest and highest-quality wine producers from all over the state. Regular readers will be familiar with my coverage of the Family Winemakers of California event from past years, which never fail to... continue reading


2001 Smith Madrone Chardonnay, Spring Mountain District, Napa

There are more legends, stories, fairytales, and fables than anyone could count which all involve some guy up on a mountainside somewhere. Sometimes a hermit, sometimes a wizard, sometimes a troll -- sometimes just an old man who went to sleep under a tree for a long, long time. No matter what the story, there's always something a little different about the guy on the mountain, something that is both scary and alluring at the same time. Stu Smith might be living out yet another version of one of these tales. His start as a winemaker certainly sounds like it... continue reading


Is it a Wine Blog? Or Not.

I've been called a lot of things. The grandfather of wine blogging. The uber wine blogger. The Numero Uno Wine Blogger. Most of them just make me feel old and tired, but it's true that I've been doing this long enough to remember a world where the phrase "wine blog" brought up less than three or four hits on Google. In the last 12 months the wine blogosphere has exploded. We now have several hundred wine blogs in English and many more in other languages -- I'm sure way more than I've managed to find out about. I've seen the... continue reading


WBW#25 Announced: Drink Bubbly With a "C"

It was only a matter of time before someone forced us to all drink Champagne. And it's no surprise, really, that the rules are being handed down by a bubbly loving Brit. My friend Sam, who run's the hugely popular blog Becks 'n Posh has decreed that this month we all need to drink the real stuff: Champagne with a capital "C." No sparkling wine allowed. Not even if it's an old bottle from California before they banned the use of the term. Nope, this month it has to be the real French stuff, and apparently extra points (oh my,... continue reading


Those BASTARDS! Terrorists Screw Wine Lovers.

OK. Now they're really pissing me off. I didn't mind the extra long lines to get through security. Nosiree I handled that fine. After all, I figured, it's only to make everything safer. Then came the shoe bomber, and for month's we've all been having to take off our shoes. No problem with that either (once they finally started telling you to do it, instead of just telling you it was optional but not mentioning that if you didn't, they'd have to do secondary screening). I understood, and was happy to doff my shoes to avoid getting blown up. But... continue reading


2004 Radio Coteau "La Neblina" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, CA

As many of you know, one of my favorite things about the way the wine world works today is how anyone can get their hands on excellent fruit and make great wines without even having a winery or vineyard of their own. These boutique estateless wineries are now quite common, and some of them are making some pretty incredible wine. I've been hearing about Eric Sussman for quite some time. His winery, Radio Coteau is not only a perfect example of this sort of winemaking operation, it seems to be founded precisely to capitalize on the potential that exists for... continue reading


Messages In a Bottle: The Coming Revolution

They say that bees and dogs can smell fear. Those with good noses in the wine world can smell it too; the ground that used to be so firm under our feet is starting to shift and shake. Like the enraptured leader of some doomsday cult predicting the coming apocalypse, I tell you truly: Look carefully, the signs of a wine revolution are all around us! In the past few months, I've had a good Chenin Blanc from India and a nice Cabernet from China. The entry of these wines into the international scene is interesting enough for its proof... continue reading


The Best Job in the Wine Industry

You know, I'm far from a total wine expert. Sure I know a lot more than your average person about wine, and I drink a lot more of it than most, but every once in a while it will become clear how little I do know. Take the wine production and packaging process, for instance. I was pretty sure I knew how the basic process unfolded. I've seen my share of bottling lines, and wines crated up by the pallet load. Pretty straightforward, right? But then I was lucky enough to be having dinner the other night with wine writer... continue reading


Wine Blogging Wednesday #24 Roundup: Loire Whites

It was both my pleasure and honor to host the twenty-fourth edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the web's first virtual wine tasting blog-event. For those who are unfamiliar with the event, allow me to provide a brief overview. Each month this event is "hosted" by an individual blogger, who chooses a specific theme. Bloggers become hosts by requesting the opportunity via e-mail from the founder Lenn Thompson. Once the announcement of the them has been made, anyone who would like to participate simply has to taste and blog about a wine on the appointed day (first Wednesday of the... continue reading


Dead Fish Lead to Good Wine

As if the famously untranslatable French concept of terroir wasn't complicated enough. Harrumph. We wine lovers have enough on our hands arguing late into the evening about whether local yeast is part of terroir; or whether it includes or excludes climate and weather; or if in fact it is only soil geology; or perhaps if it is something beyond the knowledge of man. Its all so very complicated, and now apparently we have to factor in the nearby dead fish as well. Good grief. Yet we cannot deny the fact that there really is something to the notion of a... continue reading


The Return of the Wine Cooler

I'm in fifth grade. Michael Jackson and George Michael are forces of nature. Hair is big, and so are socks. Sex is starting to be a topic of discussion, and the very first experiments with alcohol are taking place. The drink of choice? Wine coolers. They could easily have been invented by someone looking to push booze on kids. Fruity flavors, bright colored bottles, two funny guys on the TV talking about them during prime time. What's not for kids to love? Plenty of secret swigs happened out behind the playground wall or in the woods on weekends. Adolescents will... continue reading


1994 Domaine Aux Moines Chenin Blanc, Savennieres-Roche Aux Moines, France

South-central France has many distinguishing characteristics, but the one that cannot be avoided and ignored, and certainly cannot be underestimated, is the Massif Central. This huge upwelling of ancient granite, and the limestone and sandstone it sloughed aside as it rose, present a formidable obstacle for anyone attempting to drive from, say, Clermont-Ferrand to Nimes. As large mountain ranges have a habit of doing, it also drives many of the weather systems in the area, capturing moisture, and unleashing it in torrents. Somewhere in a sub-range of the Massif Central called the Cévennes, a trickle begins amidst granite and limestone,... continue reading


Those Arrogant Frogs

I'm not sure to whether to file the latest news from France under Tragically Hip or It's About Damn Time. As large chunks of the French wine industry are crumbling away, there are signs that some things are changing. Forever locked into labeling wines first and foremost with place names for reasons of national pride, tradition, legal requirements, and a sense of propriety, the French now seem to be relaxing their death grip on the ways of old. New appellation groupings are being created with understandable names like The South of France to make some wines more accessible to those... 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

My Ethics as a Wine Blogger I Can't Believe I Agree With Him 1988 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France Got a Headache? Try a Wine Facial. Why Sometimes It's Good To Be a Winegrower California's Best Small Wine Producers: A Report From Family Winemakers 2006 The Joy of Sake Tasting: August 31, San Francisco Cumulus Wines, Orange, Australia: Current Releases The Benefits of Socialized Medicine Otokoyama Daiginjo Sake, Hokkaido, Japan

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