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~ April 2007 Archives ~



What's Allowed In Your Wine and its Winemaking

There's recently been a bit of a fuss about some proposed changes to wine labeling in this country. That discussion at the very least raises the issue that most consumers have no idea what is both commonly, and also occasionally, done to their wine during winemaking, and what ends up in the bottle. Careful. Don't freak out. This is not an alarmist rant, nor should you turn it into one. Many of these things have been done to wine for centuries. It's good for you to know however, what is allowed. According to a report by the International Organisation of... continue reading


Tamas Wine Estates, Livermore, CA: Current Releases

These days, California wine country evokes names like Napa, Sonoma, Santa Barbara. But if you arrived in San Francisco on a steamship in 1890, stepped out on the dock and asked anyone directions to wine country, they would have told you to get back on another boat and head across the Bay to the country's largest wine region, The Livermore Valley. It comes as a surprise to many people that Livermore, now well known for its government research labs and astronomically high population of PhD's per capita, was once one of the most well known winegrowing areas in America. It's... continue reading


1988 Chateau Climens Sauternes-Barsac, Bordeaux, France

There are an endless number of formative wine experiences to provide enthusiastic wine lovers with memorable introductions to new levels of wine appreciation or knowledge. These moments, which are so easily to forget in a lifetime of serious wine drinking, should definitely be cherished in the same way we might hang onto the infant drawings of our children. Most wine lovers don't remember their first taste of Cabernet or Merlot. These early introductions to different varietals are best forgotten anyway, coming as they often do in bottles that could charitably be called "value priced." There is one type of wine,... continue reading


Vinography Images: More Than Vines

More Than Vines "This image was shot in Sonoma county on a rainy day. I was sitting on top of the Jeep as we drove around to try and get a different vantage point. Sometimes the vineyards all start to look alike and it helps to see them from an unusual angle. From a higher vantage point, the majesty of the old oaks that populate many of Sonoma's vineyards is readily apparent." -- 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... continue reading


Drinking Buddies - A New Twist

Mostly, I try to keep this blog focused on good wine, and good writing about wine, knowing that there are plenty of other outlets out there for the bizarre, the frivolous, and the gear. However, when things like this "My Other Half" wine-glass-gadget come along, it's hard to resist. In case it's not blindingly obvious from the photo, these two glasses are connected by a tube so that the wine flows between them in such a way that when the glasses are both at the same elevation, there is always the same amount of wine in each. Or at least... continue reading


Bring Out Your Dead....Wines

People say the darndest things. I think we're all given to pronouncements once in a while. There's something very self satisfying about declaring with finality that something is so, so much that most journalists (myself included) have a hard time resisting the urge to speak in headlines. Take this recent pronouncement from the news pages of the wine world: Vins de Garage are Dead. With this headline Decanter Magazine proclaimed the end of the garagiste movement in Bordeaux. For those unfamiliar with this movement, it began in the mid-1990s as a group of independent winemakers began making small lots of... continue reading


WBW#33 Has Been Announced: Languedoc Value Wines

The 33rd monthly edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the blogosphere's monthly virtual wine tasting party will take place on May 16th. For those unfamiliar with this event, every month a pre-determined blog owner selects a theme for a wine tasting, and anyone who wants to participate must simply review a wine that fits that theme on the appointed day. This month's theme, hosted by Marcus, who runs the blog Dr. Weingolb, is value priced wines from the Languedoc Roussillon appellation of southeastern France. Marcus has asked us to select wines between $15 and $30 from any of the Languedoc's many... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Que Syrah

Every neighborhood needs a wine bar. The world would be a be a better place if we all had one. The oft unexplored little neighborhood of West Portal is certainly a better place for the existence of Que Syrah, a cozy postage-stamp-sized space on the main drag. This narrow, bright space offers a couple of small tables, a loveseat and a comfy chair, and a few seats at the bar for wine-loving denizens of the fog. Unfortunately, Que Syrah doesn't have much more going for it than its casual comfort and neighborhood convenience. Let me start with the wine... continue reading


Vinography Images: Wet Vineyard

Wet Vineyard "One of the fascinating things about vineyards is how different they look depending on the weather. During the winter, when the vines are bare and wet, they offer striking and fascinating silhouettes. I was drawn to this composition of vines in Sonoma County for the its different levels and for the fact that the vines are just going everywhere."-- 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


The Future of Wine Marketing?

I first reported on the strange phenomenon of wine related manga comics in Japan about a year ago, but it seems they're gaining in popularity. At the time, one of my readers mentioned another, newer comic by the name of "Kami no Shizuku" (literally "god's droplets") which offered commentary and musing on the virtues of French wine. According to some, it's a pretty compelling comic, with particularly thirst generating properties. Well according to a story in today's news, that comic has been translated to Korean and is a huge hit in South Korea. Of course, in the extremely litigious and... continue reading


2004 Quixote Winery "Quixote" Petite Sirah, Napa

It seems to me that as people get older, especially those who we might consider accomplished and successful, they might feel a bit more license to lighten up or to stir the pot, having already proven themselves a bit to the world. I certainly plan on being a bit more frivolous, eccentric, and quirky if I can afford to in my old age. Napa is filled with a generation of winemakers that could easily rest on their laurels. Over the past thirty years, this group of men and women have created an industry, and most have made their own fortunes.... continue reading


How Small is Small Production?

As regular readers know, I'm a big fan of small producers. Sometimes called boutique wineries, micro-wineries, or garagistes, these small wineries often don't even have their own vineyards, but merely purchase grapes in smaller quantities from highly reputable sources. Wine is a domain rife with romanticism, and there's a certain sensibility out there (I admit to wholly embracing it myself) that small is beautiful -- tiny operations generally yield more interesting, higher quality wines than larger operations. Implicit in this sensibility lies a supposition (usually, but not always true) that smaller wineries can and do put more care and attention... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Nectar Wine Lounge

I don't spend much time in San Francisco's Marina District. It's quite the hike across the city for me from my sleepy little neighborhood, and I generally don't like the scene, which reminds me of all the parties that I never wanted to go to in college. There are a few venues, however, which ensure that I do keep coming back to the Marina occasionally, and one of them is most certainly Nectar Wine Lounge. A combination wine bar, restaurant, and wine store, Nectar does an excellent job at the first two, and a lousy job at the latter. Were... continue reading


2005 Toucan Wines Zinfandel, Arroyo Grande, California

I find out about the wines I review here on Vinography in a lot of different ways. Most common are the large tastings that I attend regularly. I also try to go tasting in wine country whenever I can, making special efforts to stop by new wineries or those to which I've never been. Of course, I also get sent a lot of wine in the mail, from people known and unknown, and I do my share of reading wine magazines. This particular wine, however, I discovered long before it was even harvested and bottled for the first time.... continue reading


Vinography Images: Olive Tree Lane

Olive Tree Lane "Once, I was on my way to California for a photo trip and I stopped at a wine shop in Colorado and discovered a book of photographs about California wine country by a wonderful photographer named Andy Katz. In it I found an image of a dirt road lined with some of the most perfect olive trees I have ever seen. The caption noted that the image was made at Schramsberg Vineyards. I eventually hunted the vineyard down, and with the help of some vineyard workers I arrived at the end of this lane to make... continue reading


The Vines of Robinson Crusoe

As a young kid my imagination was swept away by tales of pirates and castaways in the South Pacific. In particular I was captivated by the tale of Robinson Crusoe, mostly based on the fantasy of being clever enough to actually survive and live in comfort on a remote tropical island. Of course, when I got older I realized that as inventive as Robinson Crusoe was, he was missing some pretty big essentials there on the island that rendered it slightly less than paradise in my opinion. The two things he was really missing? Women and wine. OK. Maybe he... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: District

I should have known better than to try to go to District on opening night after seeing it featured in the Daily Candy Newsletter. I couldn't get within ten feet of the front door, let alone get inside to check out the newest and largest wine bar in San Francisco. Subsequent visits have allowed me to inspect it as a patron, but the crowds have not dwindled. This is clearly one of SOMA's new hot spots. Occupying a converted brick industrial space just two blocks from the baseball stadium and the massive new residential and commercial buildings springing up in... continue reading


Waiting for Mailing Lists: Absurdity or War of Attrition?

Recently, Forbes Magazine published one of their common articles-cum-slideshows entitled "Exceptional Hard-To-Find Wines" in which they outlined some of the hardest to get and most expensive wines of the world. Leaving aside for a moment the fact that such an article belongs more in the Robb Report than it does in Forbes, the article offered an impressive for the aspiring, or merely curious, businessperson to print out and hand to their secretary along with their American Express Black card. The wines, which included many of the usual cult suspects (Screaming Eagle, Harlan, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti, Krug) were listed with... continue reading


Farella Vineyards: Current Releases

To say there are "undiscovered" areas of Napa Valley may be overstating the case a bit, but there are certainly a few areas of California's most famous wine valley that most wine lovers have never heard of, let alone visited, no matter how many times they've been to Napa. The small, shallow valley of Coombsville is one such place. Literally off the beaten path, this area of Napa Valley that lies east of the city of Napa cannot be found by traversing Highway 29 or the Silverado Trail, the two main arteries of Napa. Instead one must strike out east... continue reading


Bordeaux En Primeur Season Begins

Spring is in the air, and Spring has been associated with Bordeaux for a long time in the wine world. The annual Bordeaux En Primeur season, in which members of the trade and the media get to taste the most recent vintage from all the major Bordeaux producers, is underway, and will culminate soon in the pricing of 2006 Bordeaux futures. In Stravinsky's ballet Rite of Spring, based on the ancient pagan rituals that were so common this time of year, the plot involves the sacrifice of a virgin girl to the god of Spring to ensure his benevolence. In... continue reading


Vinography Images: Stone and Golden Tree

Stone and Golden Tree "This Image was shot at the Taylor Peak Estate in Sonoma County. For some time I have been trying to photograph this unusual tree that amazingly grows right out of the heart of this huge rock. Finally one fall afternoon, I was there when the light was catching the tree as well as the distant mountain. While this is one of the more majestic, this vineyard is dotted with many spectacular trees, each offering a great place to rest and take in the beautiful views." -- Michael Regnier INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking (Mac... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Vino Venue

After living in Japan for a couple of years I've remained convinced that a lot more things should be sold through vending machines. Over there you can buy just about everything out of a vending machine, from breakfast to deodorant to batteries to beer. I even saw sake being sold in vending machines. Here in San Francisco we seem to like a more human touch. But if you're interested in mixing your technology with your wine, then there's no better place to go than VinoVenue, the high tech tasting bar that sits on the hip of the Financial District,... continue reading


2004 Dover Canyon Winery "Alto Pomar" Red Blend, Paso Robles, CA

Some wineries are small because they are new. Some wineries are small because they simply can't be successful enough to get any bigger. And then there are some wineries that are small by choice. Small because that is the only size that makes sense to them. Such wineries are some of my favorites because they are usually the product of interesting people with interesting stories, strong feelings and philosophies, and a commitment to some specific vision for what wine is. Oh yeah. Sometimes they also make great wines. Dover Canyon Winery in Paso Robles is the deliberately small creation of... continue reading


Today's Wine News Headlines

For readers looking to stay current on today's news from the world of wine, I offer some of the better headlines and stories for your perusal: Paris Hilton to Become the New Face of Bordeaux. Wine Spectator Goes Fractional Can't Top This! Cork Fights Back Riedel Gets a Grip Trump and Rosie go Vino a Vino New wine bar, 90pluspoints, opens in East Village Enjoy!... continue reading


A Special Announcement from Vinography

As regular readers know, wine blogging has seen a huge upswing in both popularity and visibility in the last six to eight months. Numerous major journalism outlets have begun wine blogs of their own, and the field, while not saturated is getting crowded. While blogs are proliferating in number, and generally rising in quality, none of us is really doing anything that different from the others. There is still a large opportunity to become something much bigger than just a single voice typing away at the keyboard. Which is why, when Marvin Shanken from the Wine Spectator approached me at... 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

What's Allowed In Your Wine and its Winemaking Tamas Wine Estates, Livermore, CA: Current Releases 1988 Chateau Climens Sauternes-Barsac, Bordeaux, France Vinography Images: More Than Vines Drinking Buddies - A New Twist Bring Out Your Dead....Wines WBW#33 Has Been Announced: Languedoc Value Wines San Francisco Wine Bar: Que Syrah Vinography Images: Wet Vineyard The Future of Wine Marketing?

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