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~ February 2007 Archives ~



Coming to France's Rescue

I love French wine. I really do. I love lots of other wines, too, but the wines of France hold a special spot in my heart. Which is why, perhaps, I find myself so angry and frustrated at the country's seeming inability to save itself from an increasingly desperate situation when it comes to its wine industry. Declining consumption, global competition, and what I see as utterly idiotic marketing and appellation laws are choking the French wine industry to death. It's both depressing and infuriating at the same time. This week, however, there were two rays of sunshine amidst the... continue reading


The Best 2005 Napa Cabernet: Tasting Premiere Napa Valley '07

Who wouldn't want to shop around at this bake sale, especially if there were free samples of everything? I joined nearly 1000 winemakers, restaurateurs, and retailers this past weekend at Premiere Napa Valley, the event which the Napa Valley Vintners Association affectionately refers to as their bake sale. As opposed to Auction Napa Valley, an event whose sole purpose is to raise money for charity, Premiere is a combination of celebration and fundraiser for the Vintners Association. Premiere also happens to be the ultimate Napa insider event -- a place where winemakers and some of their best customers get to... continue reading


The French Wine Affaire: March 4th, San Francisco

If there's one thing we don't need more of in San Francisco, it is public tastings of California wine. Nearly every varietal has got one at this point and some varietals (ahem - you know who you are) have up to five different tastings dedicated to them. That's not to mention those tastings dedicated to a whole genre of California wines, such as those made by small producers or those made in the style of a certain area of France. No, what we really need more of in San Francisco are tastings of wines from other places. Which is why... continue reading


Domaine de Nizas, Languedoc, France: Current Releases

I can't tell you how many times I've heard friends say "I can't really afford French wine." Even after I suggest that there are plenty of French wines under twenty bucks, they're still liable to complain that they can't really afford "good French wine." Whenever I have that conversation I find myself wishing I had a backpack full of wines from the Languedoc handy. I'd whip out a bottle and a corkscrew like a gunslinger from the wild west and set them straight once and for all. The Languedoc has been the historical home to most of France's low-end table... continue reading


Pruning Away

Raking the small stones of gardens, sweeping the autumn leaves, washing stone floors, sanding a deck -- the repetition and devotion of simultaneously working the hands and the spirit has a long history. I claim no expertise in the contemplative religions of the world, but many seem to find meditative practices in the simplest of activities -- often those associated with good, old fashioned hard labor. This morning, cold pruning shears in hand, I found my own small bit of existential devotion, snipping a season's shoots off of a row of Cabernet vines. I was learning to prune, or so... continue reading


Vinography Images: Blue Trees

Blue Trees, Sonoma "I made this image on a rainy day in Sonoma. Though it may come as a surprise, days like these are my favorite time to shoot. The rain brings out colors in a special way, making them richer and deeper and more vibrant. It's amazing what a little weather can do." -- Michael Regnier INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking (Mac users, click and hold) on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target as" and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click... continue reading


2007 American Wine Blog Awards Announced

This morning the winners of the 2007 American Wine Blog Awards were announced. Perhaps the most visible set of awards yet conducted for the world of wine blogging, these awards were the brainchild of Tom Wark, a prolific blogger himself and a tireless advocate for the world of wine blogs. As part of this first edition of these awards, Vinography has won the award for Best Wine Reviews. Thank you very much for your votes. I'm honored to be recognized. Here is the list of the winners in all categories: Best Single Subject Wine Blog: The Wine Collector Best Winery... continue reading


Men, Please Don't Be Wine Assholes

It's rare that I feel like I'm in a position to give advice to an entire population, but damn it, something needs to be done. My fellow men, you are seriously in danger of royally screwing up your lives. Why? Because your egos get between you and your date and a good glass of wine. According to new research conducted in the UK, nearly 22 percent of men admit to embellishing their expertise about wine in order to impress their dates. Among 19 to 30 year olds, that number jumps to 29%. What's even worse, and totally unforgivable is that... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: The London Wine Bar

Every wine bar needs to have something to make it different from all the others. Not all have a claim to fame, but the London Wine Bar certainly does. This brick fronted nook in the heart of San Francisco's financial district is able to assert, with some authority, that it was the first wine bar in America, opening its doors to wine loving patrons in 1974, back when a really good Napa Cabernet would cost you about $20. The London Wine Bar has been slaking the thirst of its financial district patrons for a long time, and you get a... continue reading


ERI Pre-Auction Tasting: February 24th, San Francisco

So, you interested in taking my advice to learn more about wines you might not normally be able to afford? If you live in or near San Francisco, your next chance to do so is coming up this Saturday. Edward Roberts International, a Chicago based wine auction house, occasionally (every couple of years, if you consider that occasionally) holds a wine auction in San Francisco which is generally preceded by a pre-auction tasting where some of the wines that will be sold later in the day are opened for tasting by prospective bidders as well as any members of the... continue reading


How to Taste Wines You Can't Afford

One of the perennial conundrums for the newly ambitious wine lover involves the lack of perspective with which to judge the wines he or she tastes during the initial forays into the landscape of the wine world. I remember being a newly minted wine lover and how disorienting it was to pick up any issue of a big wine magazine and flip through the pages. First Growths. Grand Cru Burgundies. Hermitage. Sauternes. Barolos. Brunellos. What the heck were these wines that were being held up as the pinnacles of the wine world, and how in the world did they relate... continue reading


2004 San Sakana Cellars "Los Madres Vineyard" Syrah, Carneros, Sonoma

There are only a few people who wake up one morning after a long professional career and decide that they want to become cabinetmakers. In fact there may be less than a few. But there's something about the pull and the passion of wine that inspires people every day to quit their jobs, or come out of retirement, and become winemakers. It used to be that most of these people had been harboring lifelong dreams of making wine, and after a lot of hard work and savings, they bought an estate in Napa or Sonoma and set about living a... continue reading


Last Day to Vote

Today is the last day to vote in the American Wine Blog Awards. To those of you who have already cast your vote (regardless of who you voted for) thank you very much for participating. To those who haven't, I'd like to encourage you to participate. It goes without saying, of course, that I'd appreciate your consideration in the categories for which I am nominated. But honestly, I'd rather you vote for someone else than not vote at all. It will take only about 45 seconds and it makes a big difference. Thanks for your support. Vote now.... continue reading


Is That E-mail Wine Offer a Good Deal?

I got an e-mail from my friend Jonathan the other day. He lives in Chicago, and he really enjoys good wine, but isn't what you'd call a wine geek by any stretch of the imagination. His e-mail included a forwarded newsletter from an online wine retailer that shall remain anonymous. This was one of those retailers that seem to have sprung up by the dozen in the last year or two that offer special deals on hard-to-find wines. What my friend Jonathan wanted to know, simply, was what I thought of special six pack of wines they were offering him... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: EOS

If you live in Cole Valley, or you work at UCSF, there's only one real choice for a glass of wine after dinner. Tucked snugly into the foggy waistband of Cole Valley, EOS Restaurant and Wine Bar (separated by a wall in common) has been setting the standard for wine bars in the city since 1995. EOS, which is actually is the parent restaurant to Bacar, benefits from the same competent wine direction at the hands of Hector Osuna. A more intimate space than the good-sized Bacar, EOS also has a more limited wine tasting menu, with around 20 wines... continue reading


Vinography Images: Chardonnay

Chardonnay, Sonoma County "This is one of the many images I shot one morning during the winter months in Sonoma County. It was a very foggy morning and the landscape changed every few minutes as the fog rolled through, revealing something new around ever corner. One of that morning's revelations was this old weathered Chardonnay sign with so much character." -- Michael Regnier INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking (Mac users, click and hold) on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target as" and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image.... continue reading


WBW#31 Has Been Announced: Box Wines

The date of March 14th has been set for the next edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the blogosphere's monthly virtual wine tasting party. The 31st incarnation of the event is being hosted by Roger over at Box Wines, and you'll be hard pressed to guess what theme he has chosen for the March tasting. Roger is asking everyone to "think outside the bottle" and come up with a wine that has "alternative packaging" for review in March. I fear that some people will be stuck with Franzia Chablis from their local supermarket. That's the only reason I can consider myself... continue reading


WBW#30 Roundup Posted: New World Syrah

I'm not sure whether it was the popularity of the grape variety or the popularity of the host, but this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday was the most popular ever. Fifty bloggers and podcasters joined Tim Elliott's call to review a bottle of New World Syrah. For those unfamiliar with the WBW event, it is a monthly virtual wine tasting with a theme set by the host blog. Bloggers from all over the world post their wine reviews usually on the first Wednesday of the month, and the host does a wrap up with links to all the participants over the... continue reading


NV "The Big Red Monster" Red Table Wine, California

You wouldn't believe the sort of stuff I get in the mail. Consumers are blissfully ignorant of the incredible amount of marketing dollars spent to push wines, not at everyday people, but specifically at journalists. In the last couple of years I've gained a certain amount of visibility in the wine world, and as a result, I receive a pretty steady stream of heavy boxes with "Adult Signature Required. 21 Years or older" stickers on them. Many of these simply contain a few bottles of wine and a letter from a winemaker urging me to try them. But many of... continue reading


Red Wine and Your Health. A History of Scientists Hitting the Bottle

OK. OK. We all know that red wine is good for us. Turns us into marathon running, ageless, mentally sharp, cholesterol-free superheroes, right? There's a new study out almost every week about how wine is good for us. When I started Vinography three years ago I thought that would be something I would keep track of, but after seeing that literally every couple of weeks there was new news of the miracle properties of our favorite beverage, I gave up. I made a pretty long list. So how did we get on this wine for heath kick anyway? I don't... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: The Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant Bar

Regular readers will know what a fan I am of the Ferry Plaza Marketplace, or the "San Francisco Gourmet Trap" as it might be better known, and one of the reasons is the wine bar at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant. Situated dangerously near the Recchiuti chocolate store (double trouble) the wine bar offers marketplace shoppers an opportunity to take a load off with a glass of wine, and gives serious wine buyers the opportunity to sample a few things before buying. The bar is set up as a somewhat enclosed area as part of the store, and is strictly... continue reading


Respectfully Asking For Your Vote. Again.

Yes, it's just like the Golden Globes and the Oscars. Too many awards too closely packed together. Just when you thought you had sorted out who you liked, there's a whole new list to choose from. Will all the awards eventually merge into one big one? Who knows. Voting began yesterday for the first ever American Wine Blog Awards competition, and Vinography has graciously been nominated as a finalist in three categories: Best Wine Reviews, Best Wine Writing, and Best Overall Wine Blog. I'm really proud to be a finalist in these three categories. I've worked very hard to make... continue reading


Vinography Images: Vineyard Trail, Sonoma

Vineyard Trail, Upper Hawkeye Mountain Estate, Sonoma County "One of the things that I love most about shooting in the vineyards is the exploration of all the small winding trails that work their way back and forth up the mountains. It's a real adventure sometimes to find my way through a landscape that never has road signs. I have been lost many times after bushwhacking my way through vineyards trying to find my way back out. But more often than not, it is when I am lost that I usually come across the best views." -- Michael Regnier INSTRUCTIONS:... continue reading


2002 Astrale e Terra Syrah, Atlas Peak, Napa

There's Napa and then there's Napa. For a lot of wine consumers, this four letter word is just synonymous with high quality California wine. For the slightly better informed the word might conjure up images of the broad valley alongside of Highway 29. Those who truly know Napa, however, will tell you that unless you're talking about the Town of Napa, Napa is not one place it is many different places. This phenomenon is not uncommon amongst the world's bigger appellations, and here in the US we've got some of the biggest. Napa is a name that is draped over... continue reading


2005 Pascal Cotat "Les Monts Damnés" Sancerre, Chavignol (Loire), France

Call them old school, call them luddites, call them crusty old throwbacks, but whatever you call them you've got to love the winemakers that see no reason to fuss with all the trappings of modern high-tech winemaking. After all, some of these old farts (and their children, or even their children's children) are making some of the most profound, unique wines in the world. Perhaps more so than the younger generation of passionate prodigy-winemakers, it is the grizzled old poet-winemakers that evoke the romance of wine more than any other. Perhaps not surprisingly, there are a lot of these folks... continue reading


Vinography Wins Best International Wine Blog Trophy From Le Salon Des Vins De Loire

I'm quite pleased and surprised to announce that Vinography has won the "Best International Wine Blog" trophy at what is being billed as the first international wine blog competition in the world. Sponsored by the Salon des Vins de Loire, an advocacy organization for winemakers in the Loire Valley of France which also puts on the large annual exposition of Loire wines, this juried competition announced its three awards today at a press conference in Angers, France on the floor of this year's exposition. I had no idea that this competition was underway, but apparently journalist Philippe Lefèbvre and a... continue reading


The Pinot Noir Summit: February 10th, San Francisco

Every January, unbeknownst to most wine consumers, a group of wine writers, sommeliers, and other wine industry professionals spend many the entire month doing nothing but tasting Pinot Noir. Over many successive days, through rigorous double-blind tastings, these judges whittle down hundreds of Pinot Noirs from all over the world to a select final few. This process is called the Pinot Noir Shootout, and it is put on every year by an organization called Affairs of The Vine. I have participated as a judge for the last two years and lived to tell the tale. It's a pretty difficult process.... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Ottimista Enoteca and Cafe

I'm really surprised it that it took until 2005 to get a real wine bar opened on Union Street in San Francisco. Half the Cow Hollow and migrating Marina crowd are still stuck in the three or four sports bars that make up the noisiest sections of Union on Friday nights, but the other half has been crying out for a sensible adult drinking spot for years. Now thanks to Ottimista, they've got one. Ottimista is a welcome respite from an increasingly upscale dining and nightlife scene on Union street, at least on most nights. On Friday nights almost every... continue reading


P.S. I Love You: Petite Sirah Tasting, Feb 8th, Alameda

Petite Sirah may very well be the Rodney Dangerfield of the varietals. Formerly, and still occasionally, known as Durif, this inky, dark, tannic monster of a wine generally takes a back seat to many other grape varieties in various blends produced by many winemakers around the state of California. There are a few brave souls, however who continue to make wines made solely or mostly with Petite Sirah out of devotion to its potential as a profound, powerful red wine. Most of these intrepid winemakers are part of a society cleverly known as P.S. I Love You, whose annual tasting... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Bacar

Occasionally I find myself saying a silent "thank you" to the vagaries of fate that kept Bacar from going the way of so many other Dot.Com boom restaurants that opened and just as quickly shut South of Market. In fact, I think Bacar has only gotten better with time. You can actually get a table within a reasonable amount of time without a reservation, you no longer have to fight through 6 layers of young professionals to get a drink at the bar, and, based on my last visit, the food has improved, too. One thing that hasn't changed at... continue reading


Defining a Wine Bar. And What is Not.

Wine, in case you haven't noticed, is pretty trendy these days. With all the reports about predictions of the US soon becoming the largest consumer of wine on the planet and the growing interest of the Millenial generation in wine, it's no wonder there has been a surge of business openings around the country that, in part or in whole, call themselves wine bars. Sometimes they get creative and call themselves "Enotecas" and some have the dual moniker "Restaurant and Wine Bar," but more and more establishments are popping up with the designation designed, presumably, to appeal to us wine... continue reading


Vinography Images: Hawkeye Mountain Estate II

Hawkeye Mountain Estate II It's difficult to make good images of vineyards. Take it from someone who's tried. A lot. They most always come out flat and non dimensional, and certainly lacking the expansiveness and drama that beautiful vineyard landscapes all possess. In this image, like in many of Michael's photographs, the topography of the vineyard leaps out at us -- the bulging hillside rolls away out of the frame like the back of a breaching whale. I've seen many such spots in the hillside vineyards of the world, but I have never been able to capture them 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.

Calendar of Postings

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Most Recent Entries

Coming to France's Rescue The Best 2005 Napa Cabernet: Tasting Premiere Napa Valley '07 The French Wine Affaire: March 4th, San Francisco Domaine de Nizas, Languedoc, France: Current Releases Pruning Away Vinography Images: Blue Trees 2007 American Wine Blog Awards Announced Men, Please Don't Be Wine Assholes San Francisco Wine Bar: The London Wine Bar ERI Pre-Auction Tasting: February 24th, San Francisco

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