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~ September 2006 Archives ~



FallFest 2006 Food and Wine Tasting, Oct. 7th, San Francisco

It seems like every major city has a dozens food and wine festivals every year. San Francisco, compared to many urban centers, tends to be more selective in what it puts on, however. And that's a good thing, because I've certainly been to enough food and wine events with crappy food and lousy wine (and too little of either). Honestly, the first time I attended FallFest in San Francisco, that was what I expected. But I was pleasantly surprised, and have continued to be impressed each time the event has been put on. The organizers (San Francisco Magazine, among others)... continue reading


Wine on eBay: Buyer Beware

There's buying wine at auction, and then there's buying wine at auction. Professionally run wine auctions by established companies that specialize in evaluating, pricing, and selling wine can be a great source of excellent wine for those with the interest, the money (no you don't need to be rich), and the time to participate. Christies, Bonham's & Butterfields, Sotheby's, and more regularly hold wine auctions where really fantastic wines can be had. Ebay, on the other hand, sells stuff like this. (This is a PDF of the auction, as it was yanked 2 hours after I wrote this post) In... continue reading


The First Real Study on Global Warming and Vineyards

It's nearly already a cliché: start buying land in Sweden, because soon you'll be able to grow grapes there. There has been an awful lot of talk over the last 15 years about rising global temperatures and the effects on the wine world. For some of us, there was long ago enough circumstantial evidence (along with the very real, documented increase in global temperatures) to point to some pretty serious implications for the winegrowers of the world. There are lots of hardcore science types, however, that like to maintain that such evidence, even when collected by people like the Inuit... continue reading


The Best Italian Wines: Announcing The 2007 Tre Bicchieri

There are very few awards for that mean anything in this modern age we live in. There are so many different judging bodies and associations that most of them are marginalized before they even begin. I've lost my faith in most of them, and some, like the Oscars®, I gave up on decades ago. The Nobel prize, the Pulitzer, the Pritker prize for architecture -- there are only a few that I think cling to respectability in an age of meaningless popularity contests. One more that I might be tempted to add to the list, and the only one in... continue reading


Vinography Reviews a Bunch of Kosher Wines

To say that I'm Jewish would be a stretch. Yes, technically I believe I could become a member of the state of Israel, as I have the proper matrilineal lineage and cultural heritage, but if one measures Jewishness by connection to culture and faith, I've got nothing to hang my yarmulke on, so to speak. As a kid I went to my share of Passover Seders (though not every year) and I had no bar mitzvah. The depths of my memory can yield about 8 words of Hebrew, scattered recollections of hunting for the afikomen (a broken piece of matzoh... continue reading


Now Where Did I Leave That Bottle?

Red wine is good for everything. But you already knew that. If you read this blog only more than once every two years you will have seen the constant breakthroughs in medical research showing just how amazingly healthy red wine is for all of us. In case you have forgotten, feel free to check out the list that I stopped compiling because it was just getting too long. What I want to know is why are there so many scientists out there who one day just decide to study red wine? It's not as if there is some endowment from... continue reading


Tasting Notes For Some of The Best Champagnes in The World

In addition to the side benefit of providing you, my readers, with information about a large number of wines, I go to public tastings primarily to learn. There is absolutely no better way to educate your palate than to deliberately and comparatively taste through a large number (however many you can handle) of similar wines with the goal of taking mental or actual notes. You will never get around to tasting enough of any single kind of wine just by ordering it at restaurants or picking up a bottle on your way home to ever learn anything substantial about a... continue reading


How Would You Score That Magazine?

My recent rant about a column in the Wine Spectator drew all sorts of responses from readers. As one regular put it, "even more than when you bash Biodynamics!" My point wasn't to sucker-punch a glossy publication, merely to correct what I saw as an egregiously hypocritical description of the wine blogging world. But as long as we're on the topic of the glossy wine magazines, I thought I might point my readers to a fun little article by fellow wine writer W.R. Tish, who recently decided that he needed to use the 100-point rating system on the major wine... continue reading


The First Sommelier Pope

I don't know about you, but I get spam all the time telling me that my MBA, PHD, or other advanced degree is just a click of the mouse (and $99.95) away. I've never understood the idea of an honorary degree either, except for those folks like Einstein who are clearly such geniuses that they'd never get anything out of a university where they're smarter than all the professors. Sure, you might as well give them a PhD. But for the normal world, the conferring of honorary degrees has always seemed a bit like institutional ass-kissing to me. Or should... continue reading


2004 Palmina Pinot Grigio, Santa Barbara County

You know how some entrepreneurs seem to start businesses in their sleep? They create a company, make it profitable or sell it to someone, and then it seems like a week into their "vacation" they're starting another one, and another. The most successful of these seem to have the Midas touch, with each business more successful than the last, as if they can't help but make tons of money. There's an analogue to this type of personality in the wine world, and it is readily demonstrated by one Steve Clifton. Clifton is best known for his partnership in Brewer-Clifton wines... continue reading


What is The Wine Spectator Afraid Of?

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like August 31, 2006 to go down in modern wine publishing history. This is officially the day that the Wine Spectator (grand poobah of the wine publishing world) officially acknowledged the existence of wine blogs (aside from the ones they started that you can't read without paying). Just for the record, while every major food magazine that has wine coverage, and every major lifestyle magazine that has wine coverage, and every major newspaper that covers wine has provided their readers with information about wine blogs, not a single major dedicated wine magazine has ever mentioned... continue reading


Corison Winery, Napa: Current Releases

It's hard to get attention in the world of wine. Many wineries and winemakers struggle their entire careers for recognition, both deservedly and some not quite. In the days of big marketing budgets and cult wines that are only figuratively on everyone's lips (and on the actual lips of very few), it's easy to overlook wineries that have, quietly, been doing their thing for decades. I can't tell you how many times I've driven by the understated Corison Winery on Highway 29 without ever going in. The number must literally be in the hundreds now. While I've still not actually... continue reading


Wine, New York, and Web 2.0

When it comes to the Internet, I'm sandwiched between skeptic and cynic with a little bit of realist included along with the lettuce and tomato. With a day job running a firm that designs interactive user experiences, including web sites, I know a few small things about what works and what doesn't on the internet. When it comes to the Internet and wine, almost no one gets it right. I've ranted before about the rash of Web 2.0 sites for wine lovers out there. No one has gotten it right yet. But just the other day someone posted a link... continue reading


Which Champagne Should I Buy?: WBW#25 Roundup Posted

All I have to say is that I'm glad as hell I never have to run for class president against my friend Sam Breach, of Becks and Posh. Her popularity, charm, and sheer force of blogging personality resulted in the highest ever turnout for this month's virtual wine tasting event, Wine Blogging Wednesday. She has posted the roundup of forty-one Champagne reviews on her site for your pleasure. Yes, you heard right. Forty-one. No more excuses about how you're not so familiar with Champagnes.... One of the benefits of Sam's massive readership is that this month's tasting event included dozen's... continue reading


Feudi di San Gregorio, Campania, Italy: Current Releases

The Campania region of south-western Italy has never had an easy time of it. Plagued in ancient times by eruptions from mount Vesuvius, and still rocked today by frequent earthquakes, its steep hills and stunning coasts have seen more than a little bloodshed across the centuries as nations and empires rose and fell around it. In Shakespeare's time, its capital Naples was an seat of intrigue and feudal power, and its Amalfi coast was both a celebrated port of call and a haven for pirates. Even as far back as the first recorded eruptions of Vesuvius, Campania has been known... continue reading


Sunscreen For Grapes

Before I go shooting my mouth off about how silly an idea this is, I'd like to seriously ask if anyone is aware of any scientific studies that exist, or any precedents that exist in general agriculture about the use of chemical sunscreen on food. Quintessa, a relatively large and well known Napa winery, has decided to create a concoction of Aloe Vera and Yucca extracts to spray on its grapes to protect them from the late summer sun. Is this a rational move driven by evidence showing such treatments actually work, or yet another example of the pseudo-science that... continue reading


Art and Wine: Wine Posters on Exhibit in San Francisco, 9/17/06

For those aesthetically inclined wine lovers living in San Francisco. On Sunday, which happens to be French Heritage day (who knew?), the San Francisco Consul General of France and his wife will be opening their home to the public in order to facilitate an exhibition of wine related posters by French artist Jean-Pierre Got. Got creates images in the style of the old vintage advertising posters that you often see hanging on cafe and restaurant walls - whimsical, colorful, and sometimes quite stunning in their Art Deco and Art Nouveau style. Got himself will be in attendance at the... continue reading


NV Henri Billiot Fils "Cuvee Laetitia" Tete de Cuvee Champagne, Ambonnay, France

I'm not a huge sparkling wine drinker, but many of the wine lovers I know are Champagne nuts. They literally rave about the stuff as if it's the nectar of the gods. Usually the bigger the wine nut, the greater the ravings. I used to detest the stuff, but like many things often go in the wine world, I eventually discovered I had just been drinking the wrong stuff. Champagne is indeed a wonderful beverage, and the best of them can be transcendent. I've learned to love them with sushi and as the last drink of the evening, something to... continue reading


What To Drink Now

So I've got some wine recommendations for you. They're just not right here on Vinography. I was asked some time back to provide some recommendations to the readers of Epicurious.Com in the form of their September wine column, entitled appropriately enough, What to Drink Now. It seems Epicurious has been featuring different wine writers each month, and this month is my turn. I've put together recommendations on crowd pleasing wines for dinner parties, some of my favorite Riojas, wines that pair particularly well with Autumn foods, and even some Kosher wine recommendations for those wine lovers looking to observe the... continue reading


Is Bronco Capitalizing on Katrina Remembrance?

I've got a lot of respect for Fred Franzia, head of Bronco Wine Company. He's a shrewd and iconoclastic businessman who's not afraid to challenge the status quo. Did I mention he's a shrewd businessman? Perhaps too much for his own good, I find myself thinking these days. I received a fax last week of a press release from Bronco wines announcing the release of their new line of Fat Cat wines. "New Orleans Inspired Fat Cat Wines Debut, August 2006" said the press release. "New Orleans is a place like no other. The indomitable spirit and culture of the... continue reading


The Best Sake In The World?: A Report from The Joy of Sake 2006

I fell in love with sake on my second day in Japan. I was taken to a private sushi club by the CEO of the partner company I was working with, and not being much of a beer drinker (but knowing that I was expected to drink) I suggested that I might prefer sake. Out from behind the tiny sushi bar came a big brown bottle with a beautiful paper label and a chilled glassful was poured in front of me. That first taste of wet earth after a rain, cedar forests, and ocean fog electrified me. Good sake, especially... continue reading


Messages In a Bottle: Appreciating Wine in Context

What did you think the first time you heard Mozart? Perhaps like me, you had a mother who would play classical music throughout the house on Sunday mornings and smile knowingly when you squirmed your way off the couch rather than sit for another minute listening to that stuff. To your eight-year-old ears, it was boring, complicated and inaccessible: You lacked the context in which to appreciate it. Perhaps as you grew up, though, you started to appreciate Mozart, if not enjoy it; perhaps because you learned more about how to listen to his music. You gained an understanding of... continue reading


The 2006 St. Emilion Classification Released

Every ten years, a cabal of wine officials gets together to decide who is good, who is better, and who is best in a little town on the North side of the Dordogne River in the Bordeaux region of France. The "Right Bank" as it is affectionately known, is home to the town and appellation of Saint Emilion, which today was "reclassified" to determine the best wine estates in the appellation. Way back in the 19th century, a slightly crustier and secretive cabal of wine industry mavens got together and created the famous Classification of 1855 which defined for the... continue reading


Wine South Festival: September 15-17, Atlanta, GA

It's easy to get jaded about big wine and food events when they happen all the time. Throw a dart at a calendar and chances are there's a wine tasting or food event on the day you hit in San Francisco, Chicago, or New York. But other parts of the country don't have quite the surfeit of organizations and societies focused exclusively on wine that exist in the aforementioned cities. Or perhaps they just have more sense than to spend every weekend celebrating wine. After all, there are other things to celebrate. However, every major city should have at least... continue reading


Wine With Your Own Custom Label On It

If someone had told me that after a couple of years of wine blogging, I would be on the press release list for every company, winery, and wine PR agency on the planet, I might just have reconsidered this whole endeavor. Sadly, no one did, and here I am, blogging away with just my head sticking out of this huge, virtual pile of wine junk mail. Winery openings, new winemakers, profit statements, charity dinners, dogs having puppies, new releases, library releases, winemaker dinners, new types of wine racks, new magnetic tools for turning bad wine to good, auctions -- you... continue reading


2000 Poggio di Sotto Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy

We all have those special bottles. These are bottles of fluid that is somehow more than wine -- a miraculous mix of wine and memory that are created in some of life's most fantastic moments. This is one of those bottles. Early on in my relationship with Ruth -- the Spring of 2003 -- we took a trip to Tuscany. It was one of those perfect vacations that most people dream about. Perfect weather, fantastic food, gorgeous scenery, you name it. It was an early test of our relationship, and the beginning of her love affair with wine. At that... continue reading


Make Sure That Wine Is Real...

....before you spend half a million dollars on it. File this under "problems we would all like to have." Florida millionaire Bill Koch was very excited 18 years ago. He had gotten his hands on a couple of dusty bottles with the initials "TH.J" engraved on them. Discovered in the cellar of a wealthy old wine family in Paris, the bottles were auctioned off as wine made for the library of none other than Thomas Jefferson, who had a habit of ordering French wine directly from producers. Koch proudly added the bottles to his 35,000 bottle cellar. But then doubts... continue reading


2003 Movia Ribolla Gialla, Brda, Slovenia

I am, like many of you readers, supremely lucky to be able to buy and to drink a wide variety of wines. Certainly the selection of wines here in California is exceptional, unfettered as we are from state-run liquor monopolies. Despite such an abundance of wines from all over the world, it never ceases to amaze me how many people seem to be stuck in the rut of only ever drinking a few basic California-produced varietals. While the number of different types of wine produced in California is growing all the time, it still pales in comparison to somewhere like... 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.

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Most Recent Entries

FallFest 2006 Food and Wine Tasting, Oct. 7th, San Francisco Wine on eBay: Buyer Beware The First Real Study on Global Warming and Vineyards The Best Italian Wines: Announcing The 2007 Tre Bicchieri Vinography Reviews a Bunch of Kosher Wines Now Where Did I Leave That Bottle? Tasting Notes For Some of The Best Champagnes in The World How Would You Score That Magazine? The First Sommelier Pope 2004 Palmina Pinot Grigio, Santa Barbara County

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