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~ December 2006 Archives ~



More New Zealand Wine Reviews: Central Otago

Ruth and I have (sadly) returned from New Zealand -- a little sunburned, a little heavier, and with an aching desire to return. And not just for the wine. But since that's what we're here to talk about, then let's talk. The first of three regions we visited was Central Otago, on the South Island which is busy making a name for itself growing Pinot Noir. We spent a stormy, rainy, very cold day tramping around the vineyards of the area and we left with a very good sense of what the region is doing when it comes to Pinot... continue reading


Does That Bunch of Grapes Look Anxious?

If you're a devotee of small producers or high-end wines of any kind, most likely you've heard the phrases "reduced yields," "dry farming," "nutrient-poor soils," "high vine density," and more. These practices are regularly employed by many of the world's best winemakers, and they all have a single goal in common: to stress the vine. It is now common knowledge (and common practice) that vines pushed to the edge of their tolerance for many environmental factors generally tend to make better wine -- more concentrated, more complex, more tasty. This is not just supposition, there's actually some science behind it,... continue reading


The Corporation Behind Your Favorite Vineyard

Despite the gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair by liberals and conservatives alike, the world is becoming globalized. And what this really means is that more and more aspects of everyone's lives are operating according to market forces and dynamics. Among other thing, this has meant changes in the wine industry -- many of which have been good for wine lovers everywhere -- not the least of which has been the increased access to many wines that heretofore have been impossible to get. Of course there's a downside as well, though I don't think so much of one as... continue reading


Vinography Images: Hawkeye Mountain Estate

Hawkeye Mountain Estate "The thing I like most about this image is the lack of the obvious vineyard rows. After photographing rows and rows of vineyards all day long, we came around the bend to this beautiful hill of golden grass. It took a moment before I noticed the vines at the top and immediately fell in love with this very different composition. I feel it is a nice addition to my collection of vineyard landscapes." -- Michael Regnier INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking (Mac users, click and hold) on the image and selecting "save link as" or... continue reading


More New Zealand Wine Reviews: Hawkes Bay

We're still tooling around New Zealand, but will (sadly) be returning home to the post-holiday grind in California. While Ruth and I are here, though, we're enjoying ourselves to the fullest, and like most of our vacations that involves drinking a lot of wine and eating a lot of good food. Luckily we don't know how (and aren't bothering to find out) how to convert Stones to Pounds, so the scales offered in our hotels can't give us meaningful and depressing evidence of how well we are eating. In any case, here are some more thoughts and wine reviews from... continue reading


More New Zealand Wine Reviews: Martinborough

Hello and happy holidays from New Zealand. Ruth and I have now visited the Central Otago, Martinborough, and Hawkes Bay wine regions and I have lots to report, but very little internet connectivity to do so. We've visited over 30 wine producers from all of these regions, and tried dozens of wines in wine bars and restaurants around the country. There's some good wine in this country (and some bad). I'll be writing up my visits to some of our favorite producers in the coming days (provided I can get a stable Internet connection) but for now I'll write up... continue reading


WBW#29 Has Been Announced: Drink Biodynamic

Wine Blogging Wednesday #29 has been announced. It will be hosted by my friends Jack and Joanne over at Fork & Bottle and it will require us all to drink Biodynamic wines and blog about them. Their web site isn't really a blog, per se, but it is quickly becoming authoritative for a number of things, among them cheese and not-so-coincidentally, Biodynamic wine, of which Jack is a rabid fan. In addition to him introducing me to several excellent Biodynamic producers, Jack and I have had many conversations about Biodynamism, and our opinions overlap by about 95%, with me being... continue reading


A Menu For Hope III Wrap Up

The official number: $58,256.70. That's how much we've raised for the UN Food Programme with this year's Menu For Hope charity campaign. Nearly twice what I ambitiously predicted. I'm totally floored and incredibly grateful to all of you readers who donated and to all of you fellow bloggers who participated by offering up prizes. So what happens now? Well, as you might imagine, sorting through roughly ten thousand virtual raffle tickets is going to be a daunting task, so it will take us a little while, but the winners of the prizes will be announced on January 15th on Pim's... continue reading


Chard Farm Winery, Central Otago, NZ: Current Releases

New Zealand's Central Otago wine region, as is common with many "newer" wine regions in their early stages of development, is actually several distinct regions in one. The first view of the region, and the first of the smaller distinct areas that most travelers encounter is the stunning landscape of the Gibbston Valley. The thing about Gibbston valley, though, is that there isn't much valley there. Squeezed between the narrow, often sheer rocky walls of a canyon, and the deep gorge of the Kawarau river, there are only a few places where there is much valley floor to speak of.... continue reading


Last Day of Menu For Hope Raffle

First, I gotta say: you people are amazing. we have now raised nearly FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS for such a worthy cause. It's really fantastic, and I take personal pride (and so should you) that a healthy chunk of that came from folks bidding on prizes from wine bloggers. For those of you who haven't gotten in on the action, there's still time! Your $10 donation can still get you a sizably statistically significant chance of winning some seriously good shit. YOU HAVE UNTIL 6:00 PM PACIFIC TIME TODAY 12/22 ONLY. There are a few prizes that still need some love... continue reading


Vinography Images: Vineyard Lights

Happy Holidays from Vinography!! "It took 5 generators and over $1000 of white Christmas lights and lots of help, but we pulled it off. We lit the vineyard the night before and came back just before sunrise. We got stuck in the mud on our way back and almost didn't make it in time to catch the first glow of dawn on the horizon, but thanks to a winch and some hard work we got the shot." -- Michael Regnier INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking (Mac users, click and hold) on the image and selecting "save link as" or... continue reading


Some Initial New Zealand Wine Reviews

As you know, Ruth and I are currently tooling around New Zealand recuperating from our hectic San Francisco lives. This trip is a vacation first and foremost, but how could we go to New Zealand without doing a little wine tasting while we were there? Yesterday we spent a long day visiting with many wineries in the Central Otago region, many of which I will write about here in the coming days. We've also been eating out and tasting wine wherever we go, so I've also got a list of somewhat random individual wines which I've got tasting notes for... continue reading


Peru Bans "Bin Laden Champagne"

This is too bizarre not to mention. It's right up there with Nazi Raccoons Wipe Out Vineyards in Germany. We don't need wine comedy, the world gives it to us in healthy doses. This latest escapade comes at the hands of some enterprising, terrorist-sympathizing winemakers in Peru, who apparently though that the best thing they could do to make some quick cash would be to slap America's Most Wanted Extremist onto a bottle of bubbly. Wow. The ingenuity is staggering. I really have only two questions: 1. How many bottles did they manage to sell before the police confiscated it... continue reading


WBW#28 Roundup Has Been Posted

Just in time for anyone dashing out to pick up a few bottles of bubbly for the holidays comes the results of Wine Blogging Wednesday #28. In this latest incarnation of the Web's monthly virtual wine tasting event held by bloggers around the world, Brenda over at Culinary Fool asked everyone to review non-champagne sparkling wines. Sadly, this is the third of the 28 events that I was unable to participate in, so I'm vicariously participating by reading all the reviews posted in Brenda's roundup. The roundup is offered in two parts, the first for all the overachieving bloggers who... continue reading


Where's Vinography?

Hello faithful readers. Vinography is in New Zealand at the moment. I'm writing you this little update as the sun sets over the jagged peaks above lake Wakatipu and the little town of Queenstown. As a result of distractions like this (and the day we spent fly fishing today) Vinography coverage may be a bit erratic this week. Had a couple glasses of Sauvignon Blanc last night with some seafood overlooking the lake, and tomorrow we're spending the day tooling around the Central Otago wine region, so I hope to have some good wine reviews for you. I'm also continuing... continue reading


Menu For Hope III Update: New Prizes and Information

OK Folks. First the good news: halfway through our campaign to raise money for the UN World Food Programme, we've already exceeded last years number. Now the even better news: there are a bunch of new prizes that have been added. And finally the best news: there are a lot of prizes that don't have ANY bids on them, and there's not a loser in the bunch. What does that mean? It means that for ten bucks you could be walking away with $300 worth of wine, wine related merchandise, travel, services or more. And for twenty you could have... continue reading


EOS Estate Winery, Paso Robles: Current Releases

There exist an endless number of stories about how families get into the wine business. Some (mostly in Europe) have been in the business so long no one can remember hearing about a time when the family wasn't making wines. Some come to it almost by accident, working for a winery and then slowly building a life around wine to the point they can't imagine doing anything else. Some of the more interesting traditions of family winemaking begin with an immigrant story, and the growing of wine literally becomes one of the ways that individuals finally set down their roots... continue reading


Vinography Images: Flying Home

Flying Home "This is one of my favorite of Michael's images. It's got such atmosphere and captures a beautiful sense of place and time, not to mention one of the world's most beautiful creatures. Hawks are increasingly being given homes in vineyards around the world to help control the marauding bands of sparrows and starlings that can decimate crops at harvest time, and the gophers and other pests that can damage the roots of the vines year-round." -- Alder INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking (Mac users, click and hold) on the image and selecting "save link as" or... continue reading


Jack The Obscure: Tasting Wines From....Elsewhere

My friend Jack is a bit of a wine nut. In the best sort of way. He loves the stuff, and in particular loves exploring uncharted wine territory. He and I geek out on occasion exploring new varietals and new regions. He turned me onto some awesome stuff from Hungary, and I gave him a bottle of a new varietal from Portugal. It came as no surprise, then, that when Jack and his wife Joanne were throwing a holiday party the theme was "Wines From Elsewhere." Guests were asked to bring "obscure" wines -- strange varietals, places off the standard... continue reading


For The Billionaire Wine Lover That Has Everything

Even though I am most definitely NOT a "shopper" I have spent my share of hours over the years flipping through the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book. Hey, it's something to do when you're hanging out with relatives that don't make good conversation, right? For those of you who have somehow managed to escape knowledge of this pinnacle of consumer excess, The Christmas Book is an extremely high-production, glossy catalog put out each holiday season by fancy-pants retailer Neiman Marcus, which contains some of the most expensive items to ever grace a department store catalog's pages. Of course, the photography and... continue reading


Announcing Menu For Hope III : Wine Blog Prizes

Longtime readers will remember the annual giving campaign that I participate in called A Menu For Hope. First organized by my friend and fellow blogger Pim after the 2004 Tsunami, this campaign has turned into a serious annual fundraising event that demonstrates the power of the food and wine blogging world. Last year we raised almost $18,000 for charity, and this year, I predict, we will raise well over twice that amount. This year's event is structured differently than in past years. In addition to participating bloggers posting their prizes on their individual blogs and there being just a single... continue reading


I Guess it Had to Happen Eventually

I guess it was only a matter of time. In the last three years we've gone from Vinography being the only active wine blog on the Internet to, according to my count, well over three hundred wine blogs in English and probably close to that many in other languages, I'm guessing, though I only know about forty or fifty of them. This development has mirrored the general explosion in blogs of all kinds -- search for blog statistics on Google and you'll get all sorts of jaw dropping, mind bending figures about how many blogs are out there and how... continue reading


2005 Hook and Ladder "The Tillerman" White Blend, Russian River Valley, Sonoma

Old winemakers don't die, they just start another label. I've never seen this bumper sticker on any old pickup truck in Napa valley, but in addition to being cute, it's certainly a truism if I've ever heard one. While making wine is tough work, the better you get, the more you've got other folks who can do the heavy lifting for you while you make the critical decisions that ultimately determine the nature of the wine that is produced. That's why it's possible for us to have the cliché of the crusty old winemaker, still tottering around through the vineyards... continue reading


Vinography Images: Winter, Trace Ridge Estate

Winter, Trace Ridge Estate, Sonoma "We drove into the vineyard before sunrise so that we would be there for the first light. There was no sunrise in the quiet dampness, but the fog was beautiful. It moved quickly through the vineyard, changing what I saw through the lens every few seconds until the moment the shutter clicked. I love the early morning fog for its ability to turn an ordinary shot into something much more beautiful" -- Michael Regnier INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking (Mac users, click and hold) on the image and selecting "save link as" or... continue reading


Introducing Photographer Michael Regnier

Vinography readers, I have a special treat for you, and for a change, it's not more words on screen from me. Instead it will be stunning images of vineyards from Michael Regnier. Michael Ireland Regnier is an award-winning art and commercial photographer whose work carries him around the world. He has a degree in photography from the Kansas City Art Institute, and has been working a professional photographer since 1982, garnering accolades from nearly every major graphic design, photography, and advertising publication in America, including the honor of being one of only six photographers in the world published by the... continue reading


America's First Wine Geek or Founding Elitist?

There are two types of people in the wine world. Those who would want to drink a bottle of wine owned by Thomas Jefferson, and those who couldn't care less about the prospect. Furthermore, like someone witty once said, there are two types of people in the world, those who think the world can be divided into two types of people, and the rest of us. I guess I've pegged myself as the "two-types" person, but let me also get straight one other thing: I would totally dig the chance to drink a wine owned by Thomas Jefferson. I wouldn't... continue reading


Messages In a Bottle: Stalking the Ten Dollar Wine

We've been chasing after them for as long as we've had legs to run and the extra brain cells required to do more than avoid falling on our faces; from Nessie to Yeti to Sasquatch to Squid, the allure of mythical beasts has been too strong to resist. They are symbols of the barely attainable, while also being fragments of the deepest hopes and dreams our little brains are capable of rendering. It seems that collectively we have enough hysteria to generate these imaginary creatures ad infinitum, and I'm sure we'd be content with forever hunting ghosts of our own... continue reading


2003 Cardinale Proprietary Red Wine, Oakville, Napa

Often I find that the joys, as well as the travails, of my life spring from the fact that things are never quite as simple as they seem. A cliché, to be sure, but like all the well worn platitudes in our culture, one with a core of truth. As human beings we like to put everything and everyone in a box, preferring to speak about the world in one dimension, rather than in four. I suppose such generalizations, so prevalent in the polarized and highly opinionated wine world, are simply easier for our minds to grapple with -- less... continue reading


Vinography in US News and World Report

I woke up this morning to find Vinography mentioned in an article in US News and World report. It wasn't a big mention, just a suggestion that this might be a good site to get the lowdown on some good wine. The article itself was interesting, however, for its suggestion that good wine, and in particular good wine values, are getting both easier and harder to find. Easier because, as the buyer for the nation's single largest store suggests, there has never been so much wine on the market (both from established and new producers). Harder because, well, there's a... continue reading


2005 Casa Nuestra Estate Rosado, St. Helena, CA

Deep in the heart of the Napa Valley there lies a winery like no other. The last bastion of fun in a valley that has more than its share of stuffiness, Casa Nuestra Winery simply refuses to take itself seriously, and refuses to let its visitors and clients forget for a moment that wine, first and foremost, should be a lighthearted experience. And, they've got a peace sign on every bottle! Currently situated in a small yellow farmhouse on the Silverado Trail in St. Helena, the Casa Nuestra winemaking story began a bit farther south in Oakville in 1956, when... 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

More New Zealand Wine Reviews: Central Otago Does That Bunch of Grapes Look Anxious? The Corporation Behind Your Favorite Vineyard Vinography Images: Hawkeye Mountain Estate More New Zealand Wine Reviews: Hawkes Bay More New Zealand Wine Reviews: Martinborough WBW#29 Has Been Announced: Drink Biodynamic A Menu For Hope III Wrap Up Chard Farm Winery, Central Otago, NZ: Current Releases Last Day of Menu For Hope Raffle

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

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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