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~ May 2007 Archives ~



Vinography Images: Hillside Vineyards

Hillside Vineyards "Often vineyards stand in stark contrast to the landscape -- there's very little in nature that is so regimented and orderly as rows upon rows of vineyards. But in the most extreme environments the vineyards cling to rock and hillside like everything else, and the difference between vineyard, field and forest is not quite so easy to see." -- 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


2004 Shafer Vineyards "One Point Five" Cabernet , Stag's Leap District, Napa

Winemaking is often a family affair, especially in Europe where the wine often simply carries the family name and where it is made, sometimes for centuries. The winemaking family tradition is alive and well in the United States as well, and just as in Europe it is not at all unusual for the reigns of the winery to be passed from father to son, generation to generation. Of course, that transition between generations is not like a passing a volleyball, or handing off a relay baton. Sure there's a point at which the older generation steps back into "retirement" but... continue reading


Open a Bottle, Get a Date

File this under, "what won't they think of next?" The world of wine marketing has taken some pretty strange twists and turns over the years: wine in a box (good idea!); critters on the label (who would have guessed?); wine just for women (lame!); integrated plastic cups for drinking (huh?). Now the latest from the drunk staffers at some marketing agency somewhere in France: open a bottle, get laid get a date. Apparently the scheme works like this. Several different types of wine are sold under the moniker of "Soif du Coeur" (Thirsty Heart). You buy a pink bottle if... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Winestar California Wine Merchant

Even though it has only been open for a couple of years in its current location, the Winestar wine bar has quite a history in San Francisco. This combination wine bar and retail shop was recently reborn from the California Wine Merchant, which, when it closed in 2005, was literally a San Francisco institution. Tucked into a cozy (if a bit dark) little shop half a block off of Chestnut Street in the Marina district, the California Wine Merchant first opened in 1974, and for thirty years it sold wines to local residents. Perhaps the weight of so much... continue reading


WBW#34 Has Been Announced: Washington State Cabernet

Time marches on inexorably, and before I know it, the opportunity to drink wine with bloggers around the world slips by. I completely missed Wine Blogging Wednesday last month. The 33rd incarnation of the Web's original virtual wine tasting event was focused on value priced wines from the Languedoc, and looks to have been well "attended" by all, and a nice learning experience about a significantly underrated wine region. This month's event, which will take place on June 13th, is also focused on a somewhat underrated wine region, albeit closer to home: Washington State. Hosted appropriately by Catie, who is... continue reading


Tsukasabotan Junmai Daiginjo Sake, Kochi Prefecture, Japan

At its best, like the finest wines of the world, sake provides a window into another world. While a great vintage of wine from a top producer may offer a glimpse through the lens of time into a particular patch of soil and a given harvest, a great sake offers a view of something more ethereal, more insubstantial. With sake there is no real expression of terra firma, instead there is an expression of what might best be described as atmosphere -- a quality of light, of air, of history. Sometimes when I'm drinking great sake, I imagine that in... continue reading


Advanced Cork Craft

While I'm not out to be serious about wine, I generally try to avoid the frivolous side of wine. There's a lot of junk out there and I consider it part of my job to filter out the crap from the interesting bits to show you. But occasionally I need to go slumming like the best of them, especially when I come across little gems. So in a moment of simply, "wow, who would have thought about that," I present to you the work of those who might be considered to have too much time on their hands, but whom... continue reading


Taproot New Zealand Tasting: May 30, San Francisco

Most big public wine tastings are at pretty uninspiring venues. Which is sort of ironic given that so many of the winegrowing regions of the world are so stunning. I guess it's pretty fitting then that when the New Zealand Winegrowers come to town to pour their stuff, they're not content to just hang out in what's basically an oversize elementary school gymnasium. Nope, not the Kiwis. Their wines seem to demand a more....majestic venue. Which is why on Wednesday, May 30th, they're renting out the ground floor of the Museum of Modern art for their annual tasting, which is... continue reading


Vinography Images: Hill of Trees

Hill of Trees "This photograph practically oozes atmosphere. I love the way that the sunlight brings the fog to life and gives an otherworldly glow to patches of the vineyard. My favorite part of the image, apart from all those great silhouettes of the trees on the hill, is the ghostly shadow of the mountain that is barely visible through the fog." -- 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 select the desired location on your computer to save... continue reading


1993 Williams Selyem "Rochioli Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma

It's not every day that I get to tell the majority of the wine world that they're dead wrong, so forgive me if I savor this a little. There is a widespread belief in critical circles that California Pinot Noir does not age well. Like all blanket stereotypes there is some truth to this, especially among those wines that are made in the lush fruit-driven style that is popular these days. And furthermore it may be true that California Pinot Noir can't age as long as Burgundy can (though we're about a decade away from even being able to put... continue reading


2001 Liparita Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa

I've always been struck by the fact that it is so easy to "get to know" a wine. We taste a wine at some restaurant somewhere or at a party, or maybe we just buy a bottle on a whim. We pop it open, take a swig, and decide, "Hey, I like this stuff." The irony of such a decision is that the next bottle that we open, especially if it is the next vintage, is most certainly not the same wine. But for most people that never enters the equation. We form our attachment to the name, the label,... continue reading


Whenever You Can, Blame The Consultants

It's hard to blame people for acting like people, but our tendencies as a species sometimes blow me away. Find me someone in a situation they're unhappy with, and I'll show you a person looking for a scapegoat. I suppose some evolutionary psychologist could tell me why it is that we always want to blame somebody, anybody, for the state of the world, but for now I'm left chuckling and half-horrified as always. I like to make a big deal out of the difficulties that France is facing at the moment. I've called it a crisis of epic proportions, which... continue reading


Tasting the Wilson Daniels European Portfolio 2007

The average wine drinker doesn't think much about distributors and importers. And why should he? There's not much need to interact with the folks behind the scenes who are responsible for getting wine into stores and restaurants where the public gets a chance to try them. Despite a lack of familiarity with this whole tier of the wine industry, it should come as no surprise that there are a lot of different kinds of wine distribution companies. Just as there are different kinds of wine retailers, from the corner liquor store to the highest-end wine retailer on Madison avenue, the... continue reading


RAP Pink Out Rosé Tasting: May 21, San Francisco

I think we've turned a corner. At least in the major metropolitan areas of America, it's no longer uncool to be seen sipping a glass of pink wine. This was not always the case. Six or eight years ago, such an action in some circles (not mine) was a clear admission that you knew nothing about wine. Or worse, that you had lousy taste in wine. Then the newspapers and the magazines started in on rosé wines, and every summer there were suggestions from those in the know that perhaps drinking pink was no longer so uncool. Much to the... continue reading


Vinography Images: Mountain Vineyard

Mountain Vineyard "Some of my clients' most prized vineyards are those that are the most extreme in their aspect. Mountain vineyards with their steep slopes offer so much more to the photographer's eye than flat, endless rows of vines on a valley floor. The regularity of the rows of vines make the changing slopes underneath that much more visible." -- 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


James Beard Does Wine

The annual James Beard Awards focus on restaurants and journalism with a myriad of awards covering all sorts of categories of each. Of particular interest to me are the journalism awards, some of which inevitably highlight a few of America's best wine writers and their work. It's always worth paying attention to those restaurants and wine professionals who are recognized for their work as well. So without further ado, here's what the James Beard Association had to say about the past year of wine in America. Newspaper writing on spirits, wine or beer (in a rare tie) Eric Felten,... continue reading


New Frontiers of The Online Wine World

Something very interesting is going on in New Jersey. You have to be a bit of a wine geek mixed with a little tech geek to know about this piece of news, and you might need to be both in order to appreciate it as well. But it was announced yesterday that Gary Vaynerchuck of WineLibraryTV Fame has purchased the website Cork'd. By way of full disclosure, it should be noted that Gary's company advertises on Vinography. Cork'd is one of the many Web 2.0, or should I say "Wine 2.0" startups that is attempting to bring the power of... continue reading


Lodi Zinfest Tasting: May 18-20, Lodi, CA

Creedence Clearwater Revival probably wouldn't have written the line "Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again" if they had managed to be in town for the annual Zinfandel festival, which is happening next weekend in this little town at the far end of the Sacramento river delta. Lodi could have become (and indeed, was, at various times) famous for any number of things including being the birthplace of A&W Root Beer in 1919, as well as the infamous inspiration for the aforementioned rock song. Luckily for all of us, after an ill-fated fling with the Flame Tokay grape that peaked in... continue reading


Belle Glos Winery, Napa: Current Releases

So let's say you're a winemaker. You have a winery in Napa. You've been making Cabernet for maybe 50 years. You've made a lot of it. You've won a lot of awards. You made more Cabernet. You've made so much Cabernet, in fact, for so many years that your name is nearly synonymous with Napa Cabernet. What happens, then, when one day you decide that you want to make Pinot Noir? In 2001 Chuck Wagner, proprietor of Caymus Vineyards faced this precise problem. Caymus Pinot just doesn't quite roll off the tongue like Caymus Cab, now does it? To be... continue reading


Taking Another Run at Terroir

We all learn lessons in life that can only be taught by painful interactions with others. Now I know not to start bashing any political candidate before knowing the political orientation of my dinner guests. I know never to talk about religion with clients, no matter how friendly we might get over drinks after the day is over. I also know that you can never, ever talk about terroir constructively unless you are doing so with like-minded individuals. The debate over whether terroir exists, or perhaps even just what it is can never be decided. Of course, that doesn't (and... continue reading


Vinography Images: Moonlit Vineyard

Moonlit Vineyard "Very few wine lovers, unless they also live in the heart of wine country, ever get to see a sight such as this. I love the way the moonlight has transformed what might be a rather ordinary view into something much more sculptural and emotional."-- Alder 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 the image and drag it to your desktop. To... continue reading


Hospice Du White Rhones

Last weekend was the 15th Annual Hospice du Rhone festival, an event that every year draws a couple of thousand people to Paso Robles to learn, drink, and to celebrate wines of (or in the style of) the Rhone Valley. This was my first year attending the event (it's usually not held at a good time of year for me, but this year I got lucky), and I was excited at the opportunity to attend an event that incorporated Rhone wines from outside of California. As regular attendees know, the French and the Australians show up loaded for bear, and... continue reading


2004 Remelluri Bianco, Rioja, Spain

It's hard not to be jealous sometimes of the old world wine producers. While new world winemakers, and those pioneering winegrowing in new regions of the world have to make their own stories as they go, winemakers from the old world have plots of land that speak volumes already. Who needs marketing when you've got 10th century grape crushing equipment carved from stone by Hieronymite monks on your property? You could work on branding, but why do that when you've got seven centuries of grape growing history you can point to? The Remelluri estate is blessed with such history.... continue reading


Anderson Valley Pinot Festival: May 18-19th, 2007

You'd have to be dead or sleeping under a rock somewhere to not know that Pinot Noir is the hottest wine on the market at the moment (except in small circles where people are still swooning over the 2005 Bordeaux). Pinot grape prices are through the roof, which means that Pinot Noir prices are steadily climbing, and with some California Pinot Noir now fetching scores above 96 points in the Wine Spectator, the public appreciation for this grape has reached a fever pitch. This means, of course, that there's never been a more perfect time for a festival dedicated... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Incanto Restaurant and Wine Bar

One of the best wine bars in San Francisco is mostly overlooked. That's because most people think of it only as a restaurant. But Incanto Restaurant and Wine Bar is indeed one of the better wine bars in the city, and not just because it offers the opportunity to partake in Chef Chris Cosentino's food while enjoying an excellent glass of Italian wine. Even without the food, I would still be a regular customer, based purely on the merits of the expressive and constantly changing wine list. If you are interested in experiencing Incanto as a wine bar rather than... continue reading


Paso Robles Wine Festival, May 18th - 19th, Paso Robles, CA

Anyone who hasn't yet discovered Paso Robles wines is missing some of the most interesting and dynamic wines that California has to offer. And anyone who hasn't discovered Paso Robles, would do well to mosey on down there for their 25th Annual Wine Festival in a couple of weeks. Once a sleepy undiscovered little wine town, Paso has become the epicenter of a wine explosion in the last decade with wineries popping up like spring crocuses every year. The limestone terroir of western Paso Robles in particular is producing some absolutely stunning Syrahs and other Rhone Varietals that every wine... continue reading


Vinography Images: Three Red Leaves

Three Red Leaves "Grapes just before harvest take on a special quality, a fullness that fully justifies their use throughout history as a symbol for the bounty of harvest and the pleasures of Bacchus. Bonus points for anyone who can jog my memory by identifying what kind of grapes these are." -- 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 the image and... continue reading


Vinography on Grape Radio

The folks over at Grape Radio are so prolific, that they seem to be running about a year behind on their shows! Or maybe this one posed particular editing challenges. In any case, they've now got a show up that they recorded about 10 months ago at the 2006 Pinot Days event, and they spend a few minutes chatting with yours truly about wine and wine blogging. In addition to me, they've got winegrower Gary Pisoni, winemaker Rod Berglund and a few others on the podcast. The audio is a bit tough, as they were recording in the middle of... continue reading


MORIC, Burgenland Austria: Current Releases

There's nothing I love more in the world than being knocked on my ass by some new thing I learn about wine. I especially love those moments when I realize I've been wrong about something, or when I taste a wine that puts all the others in perspective. The last couple of years have been an education in German and Austrian wines for me. I went from knowing very little about them to tasting hundreds every year. While I certainly don't consider myself extremely knowledgeable yet, I feel like I've got a decent handle on what's out there, and what's... 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

June 2016

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Most Recent Entries

Vinography Images: Hillside Vineyards 2004 Shafer Vineyards "One Point Five" Cabernet , Stag's Leap District, Napa Open a Bottle, Get a Date San Francisco Wine Bar: Winestar California Wine Merchant WBW#34 Has Been Announced: Washington State Cabernet Tsukasabotan Junmai Daiginjo Sake, Kochi Prefecture, Japan Advanced Cork Craft Taproot New Zealand Tasting: May 30, San Francisco Vinography Images: Hill of Trees 1993 Williams Selyem "Rochioli Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma

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