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~ July 2007 Archives ~



IPNC 2007: Al Fresco Tasting Notes

DAY TWO (continued): At the 2007 International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon's Willamette Valley, every afternoon features a walk-around wine tasting "al fresco" outside in the shade of some of the beautiful trees that dot the campus of Linfield College. Wineries and their winemakers take turns pouring their wines each day at these tastings, offering an interesting opportunity to taste Oregon, French, New Zealand, and Californian Pinot Noirs side-by-side. As opposed to many public tastings where the people standing behind the table are only marketing staff for the winery, or even worse, just friends that have been pressed into service... continue reading


IPNC 2007: Grower Champagnes

DAY TWO (continued): The second morning's sparkling wine seminar was followed by another that focused specifically on "grower Champagnes", this time moderated by Eric Asimov of the New York Times and Pete Wasserman, an consultant and importer with Le Serbet / Selection Becky Wasserman, and an expert on both the wines of Burgundy and on Champagne. Grower Champagnes are those wines that are made by small producers who also grow their own grapes (as opposed to the large champagne houses like Bollinger who purchase grapes from sources far and wide). This second session consisted mostly of winemakers and importers telling... continue reading


IPNC 2007: The Secret Life of Pinot Noir

DAY TWO: Hello again from McMinnville, Oregon, where I am attending the 2007 International Pinot Noir Celebration, a conference and celebration of Pinot Noir in all it's incarnations. The morning of the second day began with the repeat of a session that had been given to half of the attendees the day before. Dubbed "The Secret Life of Pinot Noir" this was pair seminars about Pinot Noir and the role it plays in Champagne. The first hour and a half was one of the most remarkable and educational sessions I have had the pleasure of attending at any wine related... continue reading


IPNC 2007: Dinner Wines, Day One

DAY ONE (continued): One of the best parts of any major multi-day wine event are the dinners. Whenever I attend such functions I privately feel like it's the closest I'm ever going to get to being at he king's table in Medieval times when wines from the royal storehouse flowed until the last iron-livered courtier slipped under the table in the wee hours of the morning and the cats descended on the scene for scraps. The food at these dinners is, as expected, pretty lavish, and in this respect IPNC does not disappoint. In fact, quite the opposite -- it... continue reading


Correction: You Know What They Say About Assumptions

One of my favorite parts of any newspaper or magazine is the corrections column, which I read for the sheer smug pleasure of laughing at the misfortune of editors, fact checkers, and wayward journalists who through their own innocence, incompetence, or pure mishap, manage to get things oh-so-wrong. One of the nice things about a blog is that nothing is ever set in stone, or paper, as it were, and so corrections are pretty easy to make. When my spell checker fails to catch something, I even have kind readers who will take the time to point out my errors... continue reading


IPNC 2007: Wine Jeopardy

DAY ONE (continued): The afternoon of day one at the 2007 International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Oregon offered attendees (those who weren't busy napping off their sumptuous lunches) an opportunity to choose their own adventure, of sorts. Some attendees explored the effects of vine age on Pinot noir, with matched wines from several wineries, made from fruit grown on vines of wildly different ages, some as young as three or four years old, some as old as thirty years. For those interested in more of the technical aspects of wine, there was the Pinot Lab, an opportunity to explore... continue reading


Submerged in Pinot Noir: IPNC 2007

DAY ONE: Hello from sunny McMinnville, in Oregon's Willamette Valley where I am spending the weekend attending the annual International Pinot Noir Celebration. I'll be spending three days practically submerged in Pinot Noir along with several hundred other attendees and more than sixty featured Pinot winemakers from all over the world. This event is regularly billed as one of the best Pinot events in the country, so I'm very happy to have been able to steal the time to attend. One of the things I'm most anticipating about this conference is a chance to taste through a good selection of... continue reading


2003 Girard Winery "Artistry" Bordeaux Blend, Napa

You can often tell just how much someone loves Napa wine from their familiarity with the sub-appellations or American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) that divide the larger Napa Valley into select, smaller sections. Many consumers have heard of the Stag's Leap District, and possible Rutherford or Oakville, but there are more than ten other AVAs in the Napa Valley. AVAs are not enough for some people, however, especially those that pursue the most expensive and difficult to acquire wines of Napa. Discussions of the finer points of these wines rarely begin with appellations or AVAs. Instead they invoke individual vineyards... continue reading


Napa Valley Wine Library Tasting: August 11-12, Napa

Serious wine lovers in the San Francisco Bay area get several opportunities each year to indulge their passions for wine. Large, themed tastings like the ZAP Zinfandel Festival or Pinot Days are great opportunities to get a sense of a certain varietal and the quality of the recent vintage in California and events like Family Winemakers are an opportunity to taste wines from smaller producers. It is quite rare, however, despite the nearness of the appellation and the saturation of wine in the Bay Area, for consumers to get the opportunity to get an in-depth look at the wines of... continue reading


Stabbing Cornas In the Chest

For the last week there has been quite a conversation brewing as the result of my commentary on a magazine article discussing EU wine reforms, which include ripping out quite a lot of underperforming vineyards around Europe (mainly in France). Now I don't know enough to be able to say definitively whether ripping out (or "grubbing up" as the Europeans like to call it) can actually help the European wine industry, but I understand the logic being used. There is another, smaller, less visible set of plans on the table to rip out some vines, for which I can find... continue reading


Advanced Bottle Craft

I can't tell you how many wine bottles I must have recycled at this point in my wine drinking career. The answer is a lot. And just as many corks, too. A few months ago I cam across a gallery of creative options for those who choose to save their corks, some of which were actually interesting. Today provides an example of a (perhaps slightly more involved) option for those who choose to save their wine bottles, too: Photo credit: Simon de Bruxelles - Times of London OK, OK, so this isn't your average hobbycraft here, it's architecture of the... continue reading


Owl Ridge Wines, Sonoma, CA: Current Releases

Winemaking is ruining the retirement of a lot of people. It works something like this. A successful, wine loving businessperson, doctor or lawyer works hard for years, saves up a nest egg and decides to retire to beautiful Sonoma or Napa county, and figures that they'll buy a place with a few grapes on it and, who knows, maybe they'll make a little wine at home in their garage. A few years later, they're running a full fledged winery. And usually loving every minute of it. So much for retirement. John Tracy did one better. Not only did he wake... continue reading


Vinography Images: Hot Summer's Day

Hot Summer's Day "This image was shot a few weeks ago in Sonoma. On the day I shot this photo, I was told it was 108 degrees! I didn't know that it could get that hot in Northern California Wine Country! I guess I was too busy shooting to really notice. What caught my eye here was the outstretched arms of the center row of vines, baking in the sun. While people escape from the heat, the grapes bask in it." -- Michael Regnier INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking (Mac users, click and hold) on the image and... continue reading


The Soul vs. The Market

I'm seriously behind on my magazine reading. So much that along with putting some delicate Japanese ceramics out of reach, I actually had to reduce the height of some piles before my 14-month-old niece Isabell came over and started wandering around my living room. In my mind's eye I watched her crushed under the weight of 12 issues of Decanter, 12 issues of The Wine Spectator, and 14 issues of Wired Magazine, and it wasn't pretty. So anyhow, in the course of flipping through some of the stacks of dead trees in my house, I came across an absolutely lovely... continue reading


2002 Az. Agr. Valentini "Cerasuolo" Rosato, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Italy

A few wineries around the world can credibly claim that the family has been making wine in the same spot for more than 300 years. Winegrowing, after all, is traditionally a family affair, and people inevitably take grandpa's advice when it comes to hanging on to plots of land. They ain't making any more of it, didn't ya know? Far fewer than even these storied wine producers, are those who can credibly claim that not only have they been making wine for more than 300 years, that they have been making wine the exactly the same way for centuries. Edoardo... continue reading


WBW#35 Roundup Has Been Posted: Spanish Values

Wine Blogging Wednesday, the blogosphere's original virtual wine tasting party is going strong in its 35th month. We had top turnout of 41 bloggers, each of which sought out a value priced Spanish wine to taste as part of this month's event, hosted by Michelle and Kevin over at My Wine Education. I'm happy to see that people went far and wide to find a huge assortment of wines for this event, and many found their way to decent importers, successfully avoiding the mass market stuff, which while often decent, only represents a sliver of what Spain has to offer.... continue reading


Wine As Self Defense

I swear you couldn't possibly make this shit up if you tried. Forget the NRA, next time you happen to come home to someone in a ski mask rifling through your possessions, or when a cadre of armed men break into your private club demanding everyone's wallets or jewelry, just make sure you offer them a glass of (good) wine before trying other negotiation tactics. Apparently all it took was a glass of Château Malescot St-Exupéry (a Bordeaux Third Growth estate), a nibble of camembert cheese, and a group hug to prevent a recent robbery in a private home in... continue reading


About Those 2007 Bordeaux Futures...

Nature giveth, and she taketh away. Just when we all thought that Global Warming might be making wine a little easier to make in Europe, the summer of 2007 comes along and reminds us that we can put a man on the moon, but we're not any better at predicting the weather more than about 7 days out. In case you haven't been following the news, it's looking like the 2007 vintage in Bordeaux is going to be one of the worst in recent memory. Unseasonably cold and hard rains have decimated the grape crops, to current estimates of approximately... continue reading


The World's Best Prosecco: Tasting Conegliano Valdobbiadene

We Americans aren't deprived of much in the world when it comes to wine, but if there's one segment of the wine universe that remains highly unexplored by the average American wine drinker it's the world of non-Champagne sparkling wine. And I'm obviously not not talking about California wine. I'm talking about the hundreds of different types of sparkling wine made in dozens of countries around the world. Thankfully, as more people begin to appreciate the pleasures of bubbly but can't always spring for the price tag of Champagne, there is an increasing demand for alternatives, such as Prosecco. Prosecco... continue reading


Vinography Images: The Curved Road

The Curved Road "This was the first shot from my most recent trip to the vineyards. I've driven by this spot many times without stopping, but this time, maybe because of the light, the curve in the road caught my eye and I am quite happy with this shot. With every trip, the vineyard seems fresh and new to me again." -- 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... continue reading


2005 Torres "Mas Rabell" Red Wine, Catalunya, Spain

Most of the time I buy my wines from proper wine stores. Not just because I like to support them, but also because I'm a firm believer in cultivating a relationship with good wine retailers, who will inevitably turn you on to wines you might not have known about or tried. Sometimes, however, I'm wandering through the grocery store and something catches my eye (yes, sometimes I buy by the label, just like the rest of you) and I throw it in the cart. I came into possession of this wine in roughly that manner, with the additional variable of... continue reading


How to Win Friends in the Wine Business

It never ceases to amaze me how people tend to forget that they are just customers. I'm guilty of this too, sometimes, but we tend to start thinking that we're entitled to buy whatever it is that we're buying, and we forget that being able to buy the things we want is a privilege that comes with strings attached. We have to hold up our end of the bargain to be good customers, and we also have to remember that even when we do, the folks selling us what we want are not obligated to keep doing so, especially if... continue reading


Jim Barry Wines, Clare Valley, Australia: Current Releases

The early American colonists were at a pretty big disadvantage when it came to making their own wine. It just so happens that they picked pretty much exactly the wrong section of the country to settle, at least as far as grapevines (and perhaps Native Americans) were concerned. But that was ok, I guess, as most of them thought drinking was a sin. The first major settlers to colonize Australia, on the other hand, had their priorities straight, and decided to live where they could actually grow vines in their backyards. Or at least the combination of English, Polish, and... continue reading


California Wine Tasting Championships: July 28-29, Philo, CA

When I was a kid I avoided competitive sports of all kinds. Mostly because I was the scrawny nerd that never got picked for kickball. Emotionally scarred for years, I took up fly-fishing and rock climbing. The most competitive I ever got was a pick-up game of table tennis or ultimate Frisbee. I finally got coordinated and put on a little weight in college, but by that time it was too late. I'd completely lost the desire to compete in any sort of sport, though I was building a gradual instinct for intellectual and business competition. These days, however, I'm... continue reading


Vinography Images: Green Rows

Green Rows "On a recent shoot, these rolling green rows caught my attention and when the fog cleared, the mountain started to glow in the distance. I have photographed this hillside many times, but it always appears different. Weather is a photographer's friend." -- 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 drag it to your desktop. To set the... continue reading


The Price of Independence

American Independence Day: our celebration of nationhood and the presumed political destiny of our "great" nation. Almost every nation in the world has some sort of equivalent to this holiday, a remembrance of the day we all cut some sort of ties that bound us to a future we did not relish. In America's case, of course, we were severing the bonds that held us as vassals to England, decrying the injustice of the Crown and its attendant Church. Mostly, though, we were sick and tired of paying taxes. When America cast away its relationship to England 231 years ago,... continue reading


California's Best Pinot Noir: Tasting at Pinot Days 2007

To corrupt one my favorite song lyrics, "my teeth hurt, my feet stink, and I don't love Jesus." I'm still recovering from Pinot Days. I know I've been tasting a lot of wine when brushing my teeth at night ends up being an exercise in delicacy not unlike that old kid's game "Operation." Yes, dear reader, I braved the crowds for nearly five hours to taste through almost two hundred current release Pinot Noirs for our mutual education and enjoyment. It's a hard job, but as they say, someone has to do it. I receive no pity for this self... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Amelie le Bar a Vin

Every neighborhood deserves a wine bar, and more and more these days, it seems like every San Francisco 'hood has one. Wine lovers are taking over the world! (Insert evil laugh here). One of the latest outposts in the previously beer swilling frontier of San Francisco is the swanky Amelie le Bar a Vin, a beautifully designed space in the middle of the Polk street culinary corridor, if I can borrow the more common label for Valencia street. Polk street, formerly one of the infamous proving grounds for San Francisco's ladies of the evening, is increasingly gentrifying along its entire... 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

IPNC 2007: Al Fresco Tasting Notes IPNC 2007: Grower Champagnes IPNC 2007: The Secret Life of Pinot Noir IPNC 2007: Dinner Wines, Day One Correction: You Know What They Say About Assumptions IPNC 2007: Wine Jeopardy Submerged in Pinot Noir: IPNC 2007 2003 Girard Winery "Artistry" Bordeaux Blend, Napa Napa Valley Wine Library Tasting: August 11-12, Napa Stabbing Cornas In the Chest

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