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~ November 2006 Archives ~



A Proper Education

Life is full of contradictions. Especially when it comes to bureaucrats and governments. Take France, for example. They have laws which prevent wine marketing associations from having advertisements that show a glass of wine too close to a beautiful woman's face, on the grounds that it is too sexually suggestive and to associate wine with sex might appeal to underage drinkers. Yet at the same time, members of the French parliament are having discussions about whether they should start teaching schoolchildren about the virtues, culture, and aesthetics of wine drinking in order to improve the flagging interest in wine from... continue reading


More about Wine and Pregnancy

Drinking while pregnant is a touchy subject no matter how you approach it. Most Americans, understandably, seem to be unable to approach any discussion of it without the strong moralistic bias that underlies so much of our culture. While the majority's point of view on the subject is morally driven, the righteousness of the "common sense" on the issue comes not from some religious conviction, but from an unconsidered, yet zealous acceptance of supposed scientific evidence. In short, everyone knows that "it's dangerous to drink while pregnant because it leads to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and birth defects." Yet, like... continue reading


Havens Winery, Napa: Current Releases

Regular readers know that I'm a sucker for contrarians and iconoclasts when it comes to winemaking. Not that my tastes in wine are that far out of the mainstream, rather they're broad enough to encompass and enjoy those who stray from the traditional path in their winemaking. Strangely, in California these sorts of winemakers are hard to find. Of course, there are plenty of folks making individualistic, expressive, personality laden wines all over Napa and Sonoma. I review a lot of them here. But what I'm talking about here are folks that really push the definitions of conventional wisdom... continue reading


Tsuki no Katsura Junmai Daiginjo Nigori Sake, Kyoto

Little kids go through a phase where they need to put everything in their mouth. I wonder what it says about me that I'm pretty much stuck there? I really enjoy trying out new wines and sakes, especially those that are well off the beaten path. So when Beau Timkin, the owner of True Sake in San Francisco handed me this bottle and said "check this out" I couldn't resist. After all, it was the sake equivalent of....well.....(if you'll excuse what may be a somewhat obscure (to you) Japanese animation reference) Howl's Moving Castle. This sake is: 1. Nigori -... continue reading


Wine Podcasts For Your iPod

In case you hadn't noticed, the world is in love with portable music, and increasingly with portable news, commentary, and video. In the last few months, the ranks of wine podcasters have swelled from an early, select few, like Winecast and Grape Radio, to dozens and dozens of wine related podcasts that cover a wide range of topics: food and wine pairing, tasting, industry news, travel in wine country, specific wine regions, wine education, bargain wines, wine for women, or the wine scene in the UK or Vegas. The list goes on and on. Personally, I don't have time to... continue reading


What is That Darn Flavor?

Over the last couple of years, I've been helping my friend Leigh learn a little more about wine and develop his palate. Leigh's developing a decent palate but he's still less than confident about his tastes. Which is odd for a cheeky Brit who's never short on opinions. The combination has led to some amusing moments. A few weeks ago, Leigh sent me an e-mail: From: Leigh Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2006 3:56 PM To: [email protected] Subject: Berry flavors Alder I've had enough of this wine review crap ! What is the difference in flavor between a Blackberry, Huckleberry, Boysenberry,... continue reading


Giving Thanks

I've never been a huge fan of Thanksgiving as a holiday (ever since I learned the real sort of relationship that the Pilgrims had with the Native Americans), but as an excuse to give thanks for the things we are blessed with in life, I wholeheartedly endorse it. Eating good food with friends ain't all bad either. We've got a lot to be thankful for, you and I. Chances are that we both live in a safe place, where we have the means to enjoy wine, feed our families, stay healthy, and surround ourselves with the people and the activities... continue reading


Shafer Vineyards, Napa: Current Releases

There are a few names in Napa that are synonymous with really high quality wine. Many of them, however, are elusive and rare -- a few thousand bottles that sell for hundreds of dollars to mailing list customers only. There are a few, however, that make up a second tier of "luxury wines" that are much easier to get your hands on if you care to pay for them, but which must still be considered among the finest of Napa's wines. I've never made a list (and never plan to -- I hate those sorts of lists) of the best... continue reading


First it Was The Nurses...

They say that good help is hard to find. We've had a critical shortage of nurses here in California and in several states around the country. Then there was the announcement of the pending shortage of science and math teachers. And now we are feeling the pinch in the restaurants, hotels, and wine bars of America. According to an article in the New York Times today, there's a pretty critical shortage of sommeliers in the country. Of course this won't come as news to any of us who have recently asked a waiter at a restaurant about a specific Pinot... continue reading


WBW#27 Roundup Has Been Posted: Ice Ice Baby

Just in time for folks to head out and pick up some nice dessert wine for Thanksgiving dinner to go with that pumpkin pie, how about a few dozen reviews of ice wines? This month's edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the blogosphere's virtual wine tasting event was hosted by Lisa over at The Kitchen Chick. The theme of the our twenty-seventh event was ice wines, and boy did bloggers deliver. Who knew ice wines were made in so many places around the world? From New York State to Michigan to Spain to Slovenia to Australia, the reviews and the wines... continue reading


2005 Boutari Moschofilero, Mantinia (Peloponnese), Greece

OK. So I'm on a bit of a Greek wine kick these days. Trying to poke my nose into potentially up-and-coming wine regions. Although, as I've mentioned, Greece would be entering perhaps it's "third time around" as a major global wine region. Certainly there's a lot of wine made in Greece, but less than historical times, and only some of it is gradually winning acclaim on the world market for being high quality. Quality seems like it has two ways of building in the marketplace of any wine region, at the well-financed hands of the big guys, and in the... continue reading


Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations From Vinography

This is the sound of me caving in to popular demand. Here at Vinography, I specifically try to avoid the clichés and tropes of the mainstream media. You won't find me writing articles here about how crisp, bracing rosés are perfect for warm summer weather, or end-of-the-year recaps of my top 25 wines. The way I figure it, you get way too much of that crap from the glossy mags and newspapers for me to need to do it. Or even if you don't, that's the most boring kind of wine writing from my perspective, so I'd just as well... continue reading


Who Should We Visit In New Zealand?

I've gotten great advice from readers before, and it seems that people have a lot of fun offering up suggestions, so here goes: which wineries should we visit in New Zealand? Ruth and I are headed down there for a couple of weeks at the end of December for a little vacation. We'll spend some time hiking and fly-fishing our way around both the North Island and the South Island, but we will reserve several days for winery visits. So who should we go see? Remember it's me you're talking to here. I'm not so excited about visiting the Mondavis... continue reading


Now THAT's Cultivating a Market

While the major wine producing countries of the word are busy trying to figure out what to do to penetrate the massive potential market of wine drinkers in China, some crafty governmental organization in Canada is already colonizing the kitchens and basements of the swelling Chinese middle class. Figuring that the best way to get people to drink wine is to make it dead easy for them to learn about it, the International Wine Cultural Promotion Association (who ever knew there WAS such a thing?!?) has plans to give over 100,000 wine refrigerators and free wine magazine subscriptions to lucky... continue reading


1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais "Cuvée Rousseau Deslandes," Côte de Beaune, Burgundy

I will never be able to taste all the wines out there, no matter how hard I try, just as I'll never be able to travel to all the places I want to go in the world. Wine offers a landscape of exploration seemingly as varied as the world around us, and just as likely to offer up surprises and treasures to those who are intent enough, or lucky enough, to find them. Great wines sometimes just sneak up on you. They are like precious gems, or veins of gold. Many of the main sources are well known and consistently... continue reading


My Latest Occupational Hazard

Our bodies know things, and tell us all the time, but most of the time we choose to ignore them. I eat foie gras and as much as I enjoy it, I can feel the arteries hardening after each bite. Likewise, I've known for a while that spending eight hours tasting several hundred wines is not great for my teeth. When they're Rieslings or Pinot Noir or other wines that tend to have higher acidity levels, my teeth really hurt for the next 24 to 36 hours afterwards. I have to brush gingerly, and anything very cold or hot makes... continue reading


What is eBay Smoking (or Maybe Drinking)?

In order to bring you this amusing and puzzling anecdote, I must admit something. I google Vinography occasionally to see what comes up. OK. I've gotten that off my chest. Of course, I'm not super embarassed about that because everybody does it. C'mon. You know that at least once you've typed in your own name into Google just to see what comes up. If you haven't, you probably should, if only to make sure you know what's out there to find. Those of you who do that regularly, I wonder if you've ever found yourselves for sale on eBay? Now... continue reading


Pey-Marin Vineyards, Marin: Current Releases

I love watching the wine world evolve. In particular I enjoy seeing new wines spring up like the proverbial dragon's teeth, sown by the visionary and the lucky in sometimes surprising places. I harbor the private theory that great wines can be grown in a lot more places than they currently are. Which is why I'm thrilled to explore wines from the fringes of the known winegrowing world, such as Malbec from the far southern reaches of Patagonia, or perhaps closer to home, Alsatian varietals grown in Marin county. Marin County wine? Those unfamiliar with the San Francisco Bay Area... continue reading


Three Perspectives on Cult Cabernets

Even though I don't consider myself a wine expert, I still get asked for a lot of advice, and I end up having lots of conversations with friends and strangers alike about wine and wine related topics. One of the most common has to do with really expensive wines, and always circles around the question of "are they worth it?" There exists no simple answer to this question, or to the question often nested inside it: "is a $100 bottle of wine ten times better than a $10 bottle?" This past week saw the publishing of three interesting perspectives on... continue reading


Shame, Massachusetts, Shame

I couldn't have said it better myself.... continue reading


2001 Weinrieder "Poysdorfer Schneiderberg" Riesling Eiswein, Weinviertel, Austria

Winemaking can be a nerve-wracking business. A lot of things can go wrong in the fermentation process, strange things happen in barrel sometimes, and there's always a bit of nervousness when the wine goes into the bottle and suffers a condition known as "bottle shock" where it usually tastes lousy for several weeks to several months until it settles down in its new home. But perhaps the most nerve-wracking aspect of winemaking for most winemakers, one that can never be completely erased no matter how many years of experience they possess, is the day and time of picking. A lot... continue reading


The James Beard Chef Awards Go Democratic

Venerable institutions often suffer more than normal companies and organizations when things go wrong internally. The Red Cross took a lot of heat recently, for instance. The James Beard Foundation, too, was wracked by scandal two years ago as its director resigned in advance of his indictment for fraud, an investigation by the Attorney General's office, and the eventual resignation of its entire board of directors. This was a difficult blow for an organization that has a monolithic reputation as one of the primary authorities on food, food writing, cooking, and fine dining in the United States. The annual James... continue reading


Daimon Brewery, Katano City, Japan: Current Releases

I'm a sucker for a good story when it comes to what I'm drinking. Of course, what I'm drinking has to be good, but it becomes so much better for the addition of a great story about where it came from and how it was made. Quite often, however, the story also comes from who made it. The people behind the wine we drink are literally the reason it tastes so good, but the stories of winemakers, vineyard workers, winemaking families, and vineyard owners can add a special dimension to the understanding and appreciation of what's in the glass. Especially... continue reading


A Good Overview of France's Problem

I've written often (bitingly, sometimes) about the woes of the French wine industry. I tend to give the French a hard time because I love their wines, and I think the poor state of their wine industry is/was a totally avoidable situation. So like a friend who hassles you about your weight because they want you to get healthier, I tend to rag on the French a bit, hoping that maybe if enough of us point out how silly some of their laws are, they might actually get changed. I know, I know. I've heard that one of the definitions... continue reading


Messages In a Bottle: What's New in The Wine World

The wine world moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. After featuring it in his song lyrics and pouring it in his nightclubs, Rapper and Def Jam Records president Jay-Z has decided to boycott Cristal Champagne based on remarks from the managing director of the Champagne house that could be interpreted as dissatisfaction with the association between Cristal and the hip-hop crowd. Jay-Z went on to endorse Armand de Brignac Champagne instead, which comes in a gold-plated bottle. Branson B., a Harlem talent manager to many hip-hop stars, has... continue reading


25th Annual Beaujolais and Beyond Event: November 18th, San Francisco

I go to a lot of wine tasting events in San Francisco. Certainly almost all the major public events of one sort or another. So it always surprises me when one pops up that I've never heard of, but seems to have been going on for years right underneath my nose, so to speak. Such is the case with this, the 25th Annual Beaujolais and Beyond festival, put on by the French Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco. Timed for the first Saturday after the release of Beaujolais Noveau, this is apparently an extravaganza of food, fashion shows, and wine... continue reading


A Burgundy Winemaker's Harvest Story

You know how there are some people you wish would just adopt you and drag you along on all their fantastic adventures? Well my friend Pim is one of those folks. As she globe-trots her way through all the Michelin starred restaurants of France, or the best unknown taco stands of Mexico, I'm constantly kicking myself for not offering to be her personal valet and baggage carrier for only pennies a day. The most recent adventure I really missed out on was her trip with Claude Kolm (of The Fine Wine Review) to Burgundy where she visited...pretty much everyone. Pim... continue reading


2004 Argyros Estate "Barrel Select" White Wine, Santorini, Greece

I go out of my way to taste wines from up-and-coming, out of the way, and generally obscure wine regions. I never know what I'm going to find, and sometimes I'm really surprised. Greece can hardly be considered any of those things, perhaps with the exception of up-and-coming, but if one were to be wholly accurate you'd have to say "up-and-coming, again." The Greeks have been making wine for a long long time (since roughly 1600 BC), though unfortunately their reputation as winemakers suffered a setback in the 1960's with the dramatic rise in popularity of retsina, a white wine... continue reading


The Saleswoman and The Critic

Thinking about a career in the wine world? Seems like a lot of people are interested in getting out from behind a desk and working in an industry that aligns more with their passions. Of course everyone imagines the fringe benefits are pretty good, too. There are a lot of different jobs to have in the wine world, and this week saw a couple of excellent articles about two different jobs as seen through the eyes of very accomplished women. Jancis Robinson is arguably the most famous woman in the wine world. Among other things she is the author of... 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

A Proper Education More about Wine and Pregnancy Havens Winery, Napa: Current Releases Tsuki no Katsura Junmai Daiginjo Nigori Sake, Kyoto Wine Podcasts For Your iPod What is That Darn Flavor? Giving Thanks Shafer Vineyards, Napa: Current Releases First it Was The Nurses... WBW#27 Roundup Has Been Posted: Ice Ice Baby

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