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~ March 2007 Archives ~



Grand Jury Cru

If this isn't a good reminder of how we get too wrapped up in labels and designations, I don't know what is. Some purchasers of 2006 Bordeaux futures from wineries in St. Emilion went to bed owning Grand Cru wines on Thursday night, but on Friday morning when they awoke, those wines were cru-less, so to speak. Just plain St. Emilion. On Friday a French Court overturned the recent re-classification of the houses of Saint Emilion after a number of producers challenged it as "unfair" in court. Not only did the court overturn the classification, but they have stated that... continue reading


Vinography Images: Trees on the Hill

Trees on the Hill "There are so many things I love about this image. The depth and layers are stunning, from the rich dark of the vines in shadow to the distant looming cone of the mountain seen through the fog and the emerging sun. I also love the way that the sunlight turns the fog into disembodied bits of light that hang like spirits here and there throughout the vineyard." -- Alder Yarrow 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... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: VinoRosso

In my utopian future, every neighborhood has its own little wine bar where locals can congregate to share a glass of wine with friends and gossip about the goings on within a ten or twelve block radius. Of course if we all lived in small towns in France or Italy, we wouldn't need to fantasize about such institutions, we would have grown up with them. But alas, here we are in San Francisco, and we have to make our own bits of the old world come to life. For a time, I very nearly was about to take matters into... continue reading


Little Deetrane Buys Some Wine

The modern world is fraught with dangers masked as opportunities. Don't believe me? Then you haven't been surfing Craigslist lately or buying things on eBay. If the Romans were around today they would have inserted a mandatory set of exclamation points after their lovely phrase caveat emptor. In particular, the world of wine offers unusual proof that a fool and his money are indeed easily parted, as the other familiar saying reminds us. As wine lovers, we're always out for a good deal on great wine. Like collectors of many kinds (along with garage sale shoppers, antique store browsers, etc.)... continue reading


1991 Gravner Ribolla Gialla, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy

When it comes to winemaking there's New World, and there's Old World. There's new school, and of course, there's old school. And then there are a select few people and wines who make the old school winemakers look like young tykes with newfangled toys. In a world where "traditional" or "natural" winemaking has now become a self imposed designation of the most extreme proponents of biodynamic and non-interventionalist winemaking, Josko Gravner puts them all to shame. These people proclaim how in touch they are with the "traditional" methods of winemaking, but they're still using what Gravner would call modern technology:... continue reading


2007 Toast of The Town: March 29, 2007, San Francisco

People are always asking me how they can learn more about wine, and my answer is always the same. The easiest way is to taste more wine. Leaving aside the more formal options of classes and seminars, there is just no substitute for tasting a number of wines side-by-side and paying enough attention to them to learn what style of Merlot you like, or whether you enjoy Rieslings, or what Beaujolais actually tastes like. The best place to do that is in your own home or someone else's where you can taste at your leisure and take notes. But the... continue reading


The Best Italian Wine: Tasting Tre Bicchieri 2007

I pride myself on my catholic tastes. I like wine from everywhere, and don't believe I have a specific bias towards one region or another. However, each year, that claim is shaken a little bit as I emerge from what is one of the best public wine tasting events held in San Francisco, The Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri tasting. This year the Rhone Rangers tasting and the Gambero Rosso took place in the same week, and to put it bluntly, the Italians kicked some serious ass. Of course, it's completely inappropriate to compare tastings of wines that are so radically... continue reading


Vinography Images: Rock and Tree

Rock & Tree "I suppose some may see this as a rather bleak shot, but the mood perfectly fits this cold foggy morning. On these mornings, I'm am always drawn to the amazing shapes of the trees and their starkness against the fog, and in this case the juxtaposition of the rock gave the whole landscape a primeval quality." -- 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... continue reading


Technology = Better Bordeaux?

I should tell you, I briefly considered scrapping this post, as I'm sure it's going to bring out the doomsayers among my readership, but that's ok, the conversation needs to be had. I came across an interesting article in Business Week Magazine last week that I thought perfectly captured the threshold on which the wine world, and France in particular finds itself today. It's worth a read, but for the purposes of my point, let me summarize some key facts laid out in the article: 1. 4000 or so lesser known Bordeaux producers have gone out of business since the... continue reading


California's Best Syrah: Tasting The Rhone Rangers 2007

Syrah is, and has always been the star of the Rhone, so it is not surprising that it reigned supreme at this past weekend's Rhone Rangers wine tasting, but there are dozens of other interesting Rhone varietals that are slowly being figured out by California winegrowers, many of which are excellent wines and often phenomenal values. This past Sunday, along with 800 or so of my closest friends I tasted my way through the wines on offer at the annual tasting offered by the organization devoted to promoting Rhone style wines in the Western United States. For any of you... continue reading


What is the World Coming To?

How do we know that we've finally reached the point where we should just get rid of our government and start over again? When they spend time, energy, and taxpayer money making decisions and laws that so offend rational thinking it takes the breath away. Today's candidates for removal from office? The Utah State Government, who in decisive move to uphold the morality of their state have told poor Glenn Eurick that he can no longer have a license plate on his car that reads: MERLOT. Apparently Utah has a law that forbids anyone from having "words for intoxicants" on... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Rouge et Blanc

Located just outside the Grant street gate to Chinatown and next to the utterly hip Hotel Triton, just a stone's throw from Union Square, Rouge et Blanc is perfectly positioned to capture a thriving tourist trade. Rouge et Blanc is the recent reincarnation of Enoteca Viansa, which managed to keep the lights on until recently despite the somewhat scandalous buyout and shakeup of its parent winery in the fall of 2005. This new incarnation, at the hands of Aqua Development Company who own the restaurant of the same name as well as the recently renovated Cafe De La Presse just... continue reading


2003 Grgich Hills Estate Merlot, Napa

Visitors to Napa Valley, even those on their first trip, have a hard time missing the Grgich Hills winery, which sits prominently on the west side of Highway 29, its flower beds almost pushed right up against the edge of the blacktop. Of course, when the winery was established in the late 1970s there was a lot less traffic on that same highway, and founder Miljenko "Mike" Grgich was a young man. But despite his youth, this Croatian-born immigrant did not lack for experience or acclaim. Indeed, it was partly based on his success as the winemaker for the 1973... continue reading


WBW#31 Roundup Has Been Posted: Box Wines

Drink inside the box, it might be called. This month's Wine Blogging Wednesday was hosted by Roger over at the Box Wines blog, and for this month's virtual wine tasting event, he suggested that we all go out and review wines with alternative packaging. From cans to bags to boxes to tetra-paks to bulk wine, bloggers around the world experimented with all the alternatives to the classic glass bottle -- and they lived to tell the tale. Not all of the wines were good -- some were downright bad, but it makes for amusing reading and certainly a great learning... continue reading


Leftover Wine? Use It to Grow Your Own Clothes

Many of you ask, "how can you come up with something to blog about every day for three years?" I gotta tell ya people, sometimes it's not the easiest thing in the world, but other times life just pitches slow balls right across the plate. I can hardly believe how bizarre the world can be when you get right down to it. Case in point? The latest ground-breaking research in wine chemistry which has developed a way to harness bacterial action to grow clothes from gradually spoiling red wine. Yes, that's right, leave a bunch of wine around to... continue reading


Vinography Images: Stand of Trees

Stand of Trees "When you're photographing in vineyards, it's easy to be too focused on the vines to the point that you develop a bit of tunnel vision, where all you see are rows of vines and nothing else. This stand of trees in the distance caught my eye one day as I was walking through the vineyard, and I thought it was vaguely evocative of a classical Tuscan landscape." -- 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... continue reading


Rhone Rangers Wine Tasting: March 18th, San Francisco

There comes a time, ladies and gentlemen, when we all have to ask ourselves one simple question: just how much do we love Syrah? There are a lot of varietals vying for attention these days, but not all of them are created equal in each of our minds. For some people Cabernet will always be king. For others, Zinfandel. As for me, I find it very hard to choose one favorite varietal, but I also admit that one of my favorite tastings every year is the famed Rhone Rangers wine tasting, where I get a chance to taste Syrah (among... continue reading


2005 French Rabbit Chardonnay, Vin de Pays d'Oc, France

In case you hadn't noticed, the wine packaging revolution is upon us. Or should I say, upon us again. It was only about a thousand years ago that wine came in a wide variety of packaging, from the scraped bladders of Eurasian mammals, to clay jugs, to woven waxed baskets, to precious glass bottles. Times changed of course, and wine packaging converged on the convenient, durable, and increasingly inexpensive glass bottle, but these days we are seeing a renaissance of options for toting man's favorite beverage. These days, the choices are even more varied than deer bladder vs. sheep bladder.... continue reading


Waiter, I'd Like a Glass of Merlot and a Magnet

Even when modern science and technology have proven its futility, alchemy still lives in the human heart. The perennial search to transform lead to gold is no doubt still underway in some places around the world, but the materials involved are less important than the hope itself: the peculiar human desire to apply a small bit of technology (or magic) to something common and yield something rich. We seem to always want to get something for nothing. And why should the wine world be any different? Over the past three years (as long as I've been seriously paying attention to... continue reading


Pinot Paradise Tasting: March 17th-18th, Campbell, CA

With an increasingly visible presence in the wine press, the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA might be in danger of actually losing its title as Northern California's most underrated wine appellation. It still isn't highly recognized among most wine lovers, so from my perspective it can still claim the underdog title, at least for a couple more years. The Santa Cruz Mountain AVA has been producing wine ever since some of the earliest farming pioneers into Silicon Valley sought refuge from the heat of the valley and discovered cooler climes that were perfect for grapes. Several historic wineries still have buildings... continue reading


2003 McPrice Myers Grenache, Santa Barbara County

There's a whole new generation of winemakers in California that is only just now starting to become visible to the general public. This group of talented young vintners and their small labels have remained well below most people's radar for two primary reasons: they generally only make a very small amount of wine and many are only winemakers at night and on the weekends -- the rest of the time they have day jobs. That's right, you may be sitting one cube away from a boutique winemaker and not even know it. McPrice Myers didn't get his start as a... continue reading


How to Taste 200 Wines and Not Die Trying

Regular readers know that I frequently attend large public tastings at which I regularly taste and evaluate between 100 and 250 wines in the course of a few hours. I've been doing that for a couple of years now, and it's pretty much old hat for me -- I don't think much about it. But recently I've gotten quite a few questions about how it is that I manage to do it, and whether I have any advice for those contemplating attendance at large tasting events. So, as I promised to several of these individuals who asked, here are my... continue reading


Vinography Talks About Wine

I'm not sure how many of you readers have time to listen to podcasts (I'm lucky if I get in one per week) and I have no idea how many of you want more of Vinography than you already get, but this week I was interviewed by John Lindner at the Baltimore Sun. John runs a very interesting podcast called "Blography" where he spends time talking with bloggers about what makes them tick and the subject areas they cover. I spent about 40 minutes chatting with John. Our conversation ranged from how Vinography got started, to tips on ordering wine... continue reading


Vinography Images: Tree and Vine

Tree & Vine ""This is a massive tree in Sonoma that has a commanding presence in the vineyard. I was looking for a unique angle to capture the tree, so I stepped between the rows and shot through the scraggly vines, which at that time were bare for the winter, but had not yet been pruned. I love the soft look of the tree against the harsh black lines of the vines. There's a mood to this image that I find very appealing."-- Michael Regnier INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking (Mac users, click and hold) on the image... continue reading


Sorry, We Own That Word

This is a rant about wine. But more than that, it's a rant about the sorry state that western civilization has gotten itself into. We live in such a consumer-driven, brand-conscious, intellectual-property-loving, litigious culture that our very language is now off limits to us because large corporations say so. It's bad enough in the wine world that we're fighting over place names and appellations that sound the same (witness the battle lost by Friuli who can no longer make a wine called Tocai Friulano because "Tocai" sounds too much like Tokaji, the famous Hungarian wine). But now we're seeing battles... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Yield

San Francisco has seen an explosion in wine bars in the last six to eight months. Thankfully these newcomers have not been concentrated in the downtown area, but instead (good thinking, folks) have been plopped down here and there in neighborhoods that were lacking any sort of refuge for those more inclined towards Chardonnay than Schnapps. One such neighborhood was Dogpatch, the scruffy little brother to Portrero Hill, and its recent wine relief has come in the form of a cute little wine bar called Yield. The first thing that occurs to me in thinking about how to describe Yield... continue reading


2005 Baker Lane "Hurst Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

Some people seem to get into the wine business through sheer determination. After years of saving, scraping, dreaming and planning, vineyard or winery ownership is the fulfillment of many people's long held (if not hard earned) fantasies. And then there are those people who somehow seem destined for it -- people whose stories you hear and you think, how on Earth did you manage not to do this earlier? If Stephen Singer was going to fall into one of these categories it would most certainly be the latter. In 2003 he became the proprietor of a small winery called Baker... continue reading


The End of An Attitude

Much has discussion been brewing this past two weeks around the announced demise of Wine X Magazine. For those who are unfamiliar with the rag, it was going to be the wine magazine For a New Generation. Full of attitude, super hip, and dedicated to talking about wine in ways that GenX-ers and GenY-ers would understand. Frequent references to sex, celebrities, and pop-culture pervaded the magazine and its tasting notes which were scored on an "x," xxx," and "xxx-rated" basis. In a somewhat bitter lament as part of the announcement of its closing, founder Darryl Roberts blamed the wine industry... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: CAV

I've long wished for a warm place to sit while I inevitably end up waiting for a table at San Francisco's Zuni Cafe on cold foggy nights. Now I've got one, but the problem is that once I walk in the door at CAV Wine Bar, I rarely ever leave. Whether owners Pamela Busch and Tadd Cortell deliberately plotted this as a strategy for getting customers, I've never had the gumption to ask, but in reality it hardly matters, as any wine lover will tell you after taking a look at the menu. This is the wine lover's wine bar.... continue reading


Vinography Images: The Hidden Vineyard

The Hidden Vineyard "Yes, there is a vineyard under all this fog. When you are in wine country the landscape consists of so much more than rows of vines. Some of my favorite subjects are the trees that so often surround and occasionally penetrate the vineyards. Especially in the fog, the trees are so amazing it's hard to pass up shots like this, even if there isn't a vine in sight." -- 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... 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

Grand Jury Cru Vinography Images: Trees on the Hill San Francisco Wine Bar: VinoRosso Little Deetrane Buys Some Wine 1991 Gravner Ribolla Gialla, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy 2007 Toast of The Town: March 29, 2007, San Francisco The Best Italian Wine: Tasting Tre Bicchieri 2007 Vinography Images: Rock and Tree Technology = Better Bordeaux? California's Best Syrah: Tasting The Rhone Rangers 2007

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