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~ October 2006 Archives ~



Sonoma's Best Pinot Noir: Tasting at Pinot on The River 2006

There's nothing quite like spending a lazy sunny Autumn day amidst the shifting colors of the vineyard leaves sipping Pinot Noir with friends. OK, that wasn't how I spent Sunday afternoon, but there were plenty of people doing that while I tasted my way through a couple of hundred new Pinot Noir releases from Sonoma County and farther a field in California as part of the 3rd Annual Pinot on The River Festival. In this third year of its incarnation, the festival outgrew its original digs at a small hotel and spa in Guerneville and moved down the river to... continue reading


Winter RAP Rose Tasting: November 15th, San Francisco

You know pink wine is making a comeback when a bunch of vintners and marketing folks think they can fill a nightclub with rosé drinking young socialites in the middle of a chilly November. The Rose Avengers and Producers who put on the annual RAP PinkOut are betting on precisely that, however. What has been just a public wine tasting is now going to become a public wine clubbing event. Instead of tasting wine as the afternoon sun filters in off the bay, attendees of the RAP WINTER PINK event will be tasting wine to the chillout beats of DJs... continue reading


It's Like the Original Wine But Better

Thanks to a tip from Mark, one of my readers who is obviously more caught up on his wine blog reading than I, I'd like to point you to a very interesting post by Tyler over at Dr. Vino about his somewhat startling encounter with Franz Leth, a winemaker in Austria and his tendency to open up older library bottles of his white wines (Pinot Blanc, Gruner Veltliner, Riesling, etc.) and if they are still good, recork them and sell them. Not typical for Austrian white wine, but certainly not an unheard of practice in the wine world, where old... continue reading


1996 Domaine Marcel Deiss "Burg" Riesling, Alsace

I can remember the first time I heard of a place called Alsace. I was sitting in my middle school world-history course with some teacher whose name I've long forgotten, and we began to talk about a region called the Alsace-Lorraine. At that point, it was a vague strip of land which seemed tiny and insignificant in scale compared to the European continent surrounding it, and I remember wondering just why the French and Germans both cared so much about the place. I'll come clean and say that my understanding of the significance of the Alsatian role in geopolitical history... continue reading


Tasting Pinot Noir Blind With Robert Parker

Earlier today, Robert M. Parker, Jr. sat in front of a sell-out audience of 100 at the Culinary Institute of America for a seminar entitled "Pinot Noir and Burgundy....Blind." This was the third in a series of annual tasting seminars held at the CIA's Greystone Castle in St. Helena, CA as fundraisers for the scholarship fund of the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the CIA. Past seminars have focused first on Syrah, and then on Grenache, but none of them had the format that was tried today. For today's tasting Parker selected 6 French Burgundies and 5 California... continue reading


Kicking Them While They're Down

After you've added insult to injury, what is your next step? Do you pile on ridicule? I almost don't even want to blog about this, as it's really not my intention to poke my fingers in the eye of the French, whose wines and country I adore. But someone has, yet again, tried to do a comparative tasting between California and French wines and, yet again, California wines have come out on top. The irony of the latest tasting is that it was engineered by the French, for the French, and in direct response to the last such tasting (the... continue reading


Where do Those Bubbles Come From?

I've always been a bit bemused when confronted with the phrase "food science." There's just something....hokey about it. I can't help suppressing a chuckle when I read it. It calls to mind men wearing thick rimmed glasses, white lab coats, and very serious expressions as they measure the elasticity of peanut butter between two cracker crusts. But food science is a real discipline, and there are lots of people out there who are doing some pretty bizarre interesting research. I've done a lot of Champagne reviews recently, so one of their latest studies caught my eye as I browsed through... continue reading


Tasting The Terry Theise Champagne Portfolio

The average wine consumer can name the number of champagne brands they know on the fingers of one hand. Many might not be able to blurt out more than "Cristal" or "Dom Perignon." Like in many industries, the world of Champagne (and at this point I'm not talking about sparkling wine in general, but literally the stuff from the Champagne region of France) is represented in the minds of many and the world media by a few mega-brands. By some estimates, however, there are more than 3500 producers within the bounds of the (relatively small) Champagne appellation. For those willing... continue reading


Pinot On The River: October 27-29th, Santa Rosa

If you like California Pinot Noir, or if you're interested in learning more about it, you should join me at one of my favorite wine events. The Pinot on The River Festival is now in its third year of providing an intimate and low key way to enjoy some of the best Pinot Noirs from Sonoma county and around the state. Held at the Vintners Inn between Santa Rosa and Healdsburg (a new venue for the event), the festival begins this Friday with wine dinners at several Russian River Valley wineries. Saturday is filled with seminars and tastings, including vertical... continue reading


Measuring a Wine's Cost a Different Way

I'm a bit behind on my reading of wine news, but as I was catching up this evening I stumbled across this nice article reporting on the environmental impact of wine production. Of course, like all industries, it's impossible to imagine wine production to be a zero-impact or even low-impact business when it comes to the environment. Here in California we've heard more than once about the detrimental effects that large scale wine production can have. But what about smaller productions, we might say to ourselves? A mom and pop winery, maybe in the Old World -- they can't pollute... continue reading


Tasting The Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wines

I don't believe in Top 100 lists, or any other list that purports to catalog the "Best Of" when it comes to wine. The criteria for even the best of such lists tend to be so muddled that there's no way for any list to offer any sort of authoritative judgment on the world of wine. Having said that, no matter what the publication, these sorts of lists inevitably have some good wines on them, so anyone prepared to ignore the rankings and just explore some of the offering can usually find some good stuff. It is with exactly this... continue reading


WBW#27 Announced: Ice Wines

Do you ever wonder how someone figured out that artichokes were good to eat? I mean, someone had to really want to get some food out of what amounts to a huge prickly thistle in order to discover that there's a delicious little heart in there waiting to be devoured. But the human drive to eat is the strongest of our urges, so at some point, someone must have braved the thorns, and voila, we now have artichokes. The human drive to get drunk is probably a notch or two below food and sex but only slightly less urgent. Which... continue reading


The Masters of Wine on the Auction Block: Oct. 28 and Nov 1

No, this is not an opportunity to purchase a MW degree like those $99 diplomas advertisements you keep deleting out of your e-mail box. It is however, a somewhat unusual wine auction that offers some interesting surprises. Wine auctions for charity are big these days. The battling 800 pound gorillas of the game are Auction Napa Valley and the Naples (Florida) Wine Auction. These two, along with other auctions in Sonoma and elsewhere continually outdo each other with raising astronomical sums for their designated charities by auctioning off fabulous packages of wine, travel, celebrity encounters, cars, jets, and more. Mostly... continue reading


Patton Valley Vineyard, Willamette Valley: Current Releases

When it comes to wineries I generally know I'm in for something good when I drive down a long dirt road (unsure if I'm headed in the right direction) and finally come upon some vineyards and a couple of small aluminum barns with harvest bins stacked outside. For many small winery operations, the barrel storage, the lab, the office, and the tasting room are all under one corrugated roof. It was raining lightly when we pulled up our rental car at the end of the lane on the broad shoulder of a hill that holds the tiny Patton Valley Vineyard... continue reading


The Cat Is Out of The Bag

Well, I wasn't about to go announcing this anytime soon, but as some recent blog posts have spilled the beans, I should probably make it official. I will be serving as a speaker and moderator for the next Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, which will take place at the Meadowood Resort in Napa Valley on February 20th - 23rd, 2007. I will be joining Karen McNeil and Jerry Shriver as moderators for the three day event, and will be joining a group of extremely distinguished speakers the likes of Eric Asimov, Dan Berger, Michael Bauer, Anthony Dias Blue, Elin McCoy,... continue reading


Anne Amie Vineyards, Willamette Valley: Current Releases

It is easy to think of wineries as fixed, very permanent things. They are, after all, often expressed in very concrete (no pun intended) forms -- wood, glass, stone, steel -- and even the vines they include are rooted deep in the soil, conveying a staunch resilience as much as anything manmade. These, of course, are an illusion. When we speak of a winery and what it is capable of, what we are really talking about is a performance that is conducted each year by humans, playing on a stage of concrete and steel and wood and coaxing music of... continue reading


You Can't Call Your Wine That Anymore

We live in a world dominated by brands, a marketplace where name and image can make the difference between stunning success and dismal failure. In a consumer world driven by media messages, advertising, and competition for eyeballs and mindshare it's no wonder that people are so protective of the names of their wines. They have to be. But things really start to get funky when we get into the world where a wine's name is often the same as the place it is grown or the varietal it is made from, or both. The winegrowers of the Mosel Saar-Ruwer region... continue reading


Inside The Kitchen, October 26-28, Half Moon Bay, CA

Fall and late Spring seem to be the times for major food and wine events on both coasts. Let's just say that if I didn't have to actually hold down a day job and was actually working for Vinography full time, I'd be eating and drinking pretty well the whole month of October. And one of the events that I would not miss under any circumstances would be a weekend of fun called Inside The Kitchen at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, California. Why is this one of the must-attend (if you can afford it) food and wine... continue reading


New Wine Editor for The San Francisco Chronicle

Earlier in the year, the departure of Linda Murphy as editor of the Wine section was relatively big news in San Francisco. She's now landed a gig working for Jancis Robinson, and there's been some speculation about who might take her place. My friend Derrick over at An Obsession with Food has the scoop on her successor. It looks like it's going to be Jon Bonné, who in addition to being the Lifestyle editor at MSNBC until recently, is also notable for being....wait for it.....a blogger! John runs the popular blog Amuse Bouche. Does this mean that in addition to... continue reading


Nightlife Napa Valley Tasting, October 18th, San Francisco

Too lazy to drive to Napa? Not sure you like the whole "tasting room" vibe? Would you rather sip wine with lots of attractive younger people under mood lighting instead of with tourists? On October 18th Napa is coming to San Francisco in a big way. For one night only, nearly sixty Napa wineries are taking over the interior design mecca known as LIMN and pouring their stuff while DJs spin tunes and hot waitresses wander around with hors d'oeuvres on trays. To my knowledge this represents two major firsts for the Napa Valley Vintners association, who is sponsoring the... continue reading


Messages In a Bottle: Wine Over Time

We all have times of silent reflection, meditation or prayer in which we voice to ourselves things both profound and petty. One of my recurring prayers (there is nothing else it can be called, really) goes something like this: May there never be a time when wine loses its magic for me. Sometimes this feels vaguely religious. I have such faith in the mystical conversion of simple grapes into something that transcends its origins, even as it transcends fruit itself. I give thanks for the magic of aromas of honeysuckle, caramel, mint and chocolate created solely by wood and grape... continue reading


Spain's 10: Cocina Vanguardia, October 12-14, New York

The last time I was in Spain I didn't know squat about food and wine. I was a poor, backpacking college student who was content to eat empanadas for each meal and splurge once a week on a plate of paella. Ah, the mis-spent hours of youth. I think I had a few glasses of wine there, but I'm sure they were awful. Even back in the early Nineties, Spain was coming into its own excellence as a food and wine destination. These days, of course, it is quite possibly THE center of modern culinary technique, due largely to Ferran... continue reading


2004 Kiona Vineyards Late Harvest Riesling, Red Mountain, Washington

Frequent readers know that I'm not the greatest fan of dessert wines. Most sweet wines just don't have enough acidity to keep me from feeling like I'm drinking syrup, and many are just too sweet for me to take. Even though I had a huge sweet tooth as a kid, these days it's pretty easy for less than stellar dessert wine to push me into the zone where I feel like I ought to be taking insulin pills along with each sip. Dessert wines, however, are certainly one of the wine world's most hedonistic pleasures. When they are good, I... continue reading


Extortion in Oregon Wine Tasting Rooms

I just got back from a lovely three day weekend of wine tasting and eating around the Willamette Valley and Portland, Oregon. It was a fabulous trip (about which you'll be reading several times in the coming weeks). We (Ruth and I and two of our friends) tasted a lot of good Pinot Noir, saw some beautiful country, and had some lovely meals. Really the trip was only marred by one thing, about which I am now going to rant: unbelievably high fees for wine tasting at many of the wineries. We're not just talking expensive, we're talking extortion here... continue reading


The Names Keep Getting Worse

It's hardly imaginable that the human race will ever run out of good ideas. On the other hand it's quite possible that we might run out of good names for things, especially in the English language, and especially for wine. Stephen over at Professor Bainbridge on Wine points us to Exhibit A in the case that it's getting harder and harder to come up with good names for wine: a list of recently filed trademarks for wine labels in Canada. Of course, on the other hand, this list, with it's gems such as "Brain Storm" and "Bad Dog" and "Funky... continue reading


Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting, October 11th, San Francisco

You want to learn about wine? You enjoy trying new wines? You like to taste wine? I have the same answer for each question: go to tastings. Or host them yourself. But there's just no substitute for tasting a bunch of wines in a single setting. One of the nice things about public tastings, put on as they are by big organizations or publications, is that they often allow you to taste wines that you might not get a chance to taste otherwise for some reason -- whether that is because of their cost, their small production levels, the bass... continue reading


No Wine Allowed in This Taxicab

It's all well and good to talk about religious pluralism. Freedom of speech. Multicultural society. As cocktail talk, or late night philosophical and sociological arguments, these are principles that many, including myself, believe form the foundation of a modern, tolerant, and democratic society. But in the real world, it's not always so easy to figure out where to draw the lines. Take this little wine-related ethical dilemma, for example. In Minneapolis, Minnesota there are Muslim cab drivers from Somalia who, due to their religious beliefs, will not admit passengers to their cabs who are carrying any alcohol whatsoever. Their interpretation... continue reading


2002 Altair Bordeaux Blend "Grand Cru," Cachapoal, Chile

Most of the wine that arrives on my doorstep does so predictably. I get a call or an e-mail from some PR or marketing person who wants to know if I take samples, I explain my policy, and then a week later I get a box with some bottles and some technical datasheets and depending on the quality of the wine, maybe a refrigerator magnet or two (if you know what I mean. This bottle of wine, however, arrived most unexpectedly, and mysteriously. As opposed to the usual UPS delivery, it arrived via a special international courier service, with no... continue reading


Announcing The Michelin Guide Ratings to San Francisco

There's a new restaurant ratings authority in San Francisco as of this morning. Today marks the release of the Michelin Guide to San Francisco Hotels and Restaurants. While I'm mildly curious to see which hotels rated tops in this guide, the information that everyone cares about is the restaurant ratings which are bound to ruffle feathers, explode egos, and surprise many. Like the release of the New York guide, the ratings for San Francisco are a mix of predictability and utter befuddlement (it should be noted that my own predictions were wildly over-generous). Actually, the San Francisco ratings are a... continue reading


Happy Sake Day!

Today, October first, is Sake Day, or Nihonshu no Hi as designated by the Japanese sake brewing industry. Of course, this isn't a true national holiday (can someone start lobbying the incoming new government?), but one which is celebrated by sake lovers at home and abroad. There's little to no information in English available anywhere about this day, so I'm afraid I can't tantalize you with any of the exciting ways that folks in Japan celebrate the holiday, other than their likely consumption of the good stuff. Perhaps one of my Japanese readers can fill in some blanks. In any... 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

Sonoma's Best Pinot Noir: Tasting at Pinot on The River 2006 Winter RAP Rose Tasting: November 15th, San Francisco It's Like the Original Wine But Better 1996 Domaine Marcel Deiss "Burg" Riesling, Alsace Tasting Pinot Noir Blind With Robert Parker Kicking Them While They're Down Where do Those Bubbles Come From? Tasting The Terry Theise Champagne Portfolio Pinot On The River: October 27-29th, Santa Rosa Measuring a Wine's Cost a Different Way

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