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~ August 2007 Archives ~



1970 Chateau Gazin Pomerol, Bordeaux, France

It shows a particular breed of idiocy that the American public has turned its nose up at a grape as the result of a flippant line in a clever but unremarkable movie. While we have thousands of Americans who now hate Merlot, there are still thousands more who think nothing of throwing down a couple of thousand dollars for a bottle of Petrus after a winning streak in Vegas. I'm also willing to bet that there's a good portion of that latter crowd who don't even know that they're drinking Merlot. Those of us whose wine tastes aren't easily swayed... continue reading


Good For a Glass and a Laugh

The wine world desperately needs more humor. I only wish I had the talents to provide it. At the very least, however, I can point folks to it when I find it. Today I was alerted to a gem of a piece by my fellow wine blogger Andy Barrow who runs the blog Spittoon.Biz. He pointed me to an episode of some British comedy sitcom I've never seen before called Black Books, which features two guys who run a small used book shop. In this episode they get a chance to house sit for a friend with a wine cellar... continue reading


Vinography Images: Rose Hill

Rose Hill "This image was made in a vineyard in Sonoma. Sometimes the most simple observations end up generating the most compelling images. This soft cloud caught my attention as I noticed that its shape mirrored the hill below. As humans we tend to find great beauty in unexpected symmetry." -- 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... continue reading


The Inexact and Ancient "Science" of Growing Stuff

Farmers, that is, people who spend pretty much all day trying to coax living things out of the soil are a real enigma. They are some of the most genuine, inspiring, hard working and determined people I have ever met. They are also some of the most superstitious, irrational folks I've ever had to deal with. While the existence of modern science and big agro-businesses like Monsanto can easily lull us into believing that growing stuff is pretty much a science at this point, all you gotta do is ride around on a tractor for a day, or walk through... continue reading


Vinography's Wine Aroma Card Now Available in French

When I published the Vinography Aroma Card in November of last year I had no idea that it was going to be such a hit. I had been thinking of doing it as a little project for years after getting fed up with seeing all these aroma and flavor guides set up as round wheels in a way that made absolutely no sense to me. I guess I wasn't alone in that frustration. Apparently no one else in the world has a round wallet either. The original card has been downloaded thousands of times since it was posted in November,... continue reading


2005 Bodegas Colomé "Estate" Malbec, Salta, Argentina

Once upon a time, I went to Argentina looking for the good wine. Frankly I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about when it came to Malbec. Most of the ones I had tasted here in the US were mediocre. Only a select few rose to the level of excellent, and none to the level of amazing. Yet there was a long stream of proclamations from various people (you know, the ones whose opinions "count" when it comes to such things) that Argentinean Malbec was the next greatest thing. Scratching my head, I traipsed off to Argentina looking for... continue reading


Caribineri di Vino. AKA: Sommelier Cops.

Sometimes I really do just feel like everything in Europe is better. Of course, I know that this is just my food and wine version of the grass is greener. But then I hear stories like this one and I have to shake my head in wonder. In America, our cops are busy being trained how to negotiate with a hijacked airplane and how to spot terrorists in a crowd. In Italy? They're training 25 of their military cops to be sommeliers so they can better track down wine fraud. How cool is that? The best place to be a... continue reading


Stop Telling Us What to Taste

It will be very easy for you to take this the wrong way. I certainly won't be surprised at reactions to this short rant that end up suggesting that I'm a spoiled brat. But hear me out. This isn't about my personal pettiness, it's about a philosophy of how we all think about and relate to wine. As most of you know, I go to a lot of trade wine tastings. These are tastings where winemakers pour their wines for sommeliers, restaurant wine buyers, and representatives from distributors, as well as the media. Most recently, I was at the Family... continue reading


Vinography Images: Winter Fog

Winter Fog "In the midst of all this heat washing across the country, I'm missing the cool winter weather that I remember from the morning I took this shot. Winter in the vineyards is still my favorite time to shoot."-- 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 image as your desktop... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: Hotel Biron

You would think that findability might be a required virtue of any good wine bar, but for the past few years the strangely named, yet unassuming Hotel Biron has been proving that ever-so-wrong. Tucked into an alley behind Zuni cafe and the more recently arrived CAV wine bar, Hotel Biron has been soldiering on despite practically sharing a common wall with a major competitor and despite being notoriously easy to walk right by without noticing. Those who do spot the glowing orange "B" halfway down the non-descript alley and follow its beckoning lure through the fog and the nearby dumpsters... continue reading


WBW#37 Has Been Announced: Drink Indigenous

One of my greatest pleasures when it comes to wine is the exploration of new varieties of grapes and the wines they make. Which is why I'm thrilled that Tyler, who runs the blog Dr. Vino, will be hosting the 37th edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, as he has chosen the theme of indigenous varietals. For those of you unfamiliar with WBW, it is a virtual wine tasting, hosted by a different blog each month. On the appointed Wednesday, bloggers of every stripe from around the world all taste and review a wine according to the theme, and then the... continue reading


Introducing Vinography TV!

OK. Just kidding. There's just no way I've got the time, energy or interest to go out and make my own video podcast, despite the fact that some of you who know me well were telling me to do it before anyone had ever heard of WineLibrary TV. But, when someone else comes along and wants to do all the work, I'm happy to have a little screen time. The someone else, in this case, is CHOW Magazine. So this is really CHOW TV. But with a little Vinography thrown in for spice. Remember that Indian wine tasting I wrote... continue reading


1988 R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva Blanca, Rioja Alta, Spain

There are few wineries in Spain whose names conjure the heritage and prestige evoked by R. Lopez de Heredia. Don Rafael Lopez de Heredia was born in Santiago, Chile in 1857. At the age of 12 he was sent by his family to Spain to study with the Jesuits, and nearly became a doctor before discovering the world of business, leaving his brother Fernando to realize the family dream of having a doctor for a son. When he was 19 years old, Don Rafael arrived at the railway station in Haro, Spain basked in the aromas of wine. The railway... continue reading


What Wines Do Americans Drink?

I'm completely fascinated whenever I learn more about what the "average" American drinks when it comes to wine. The Restaurant Magazine annual report on the top selling brands of wines in America that I regularly reference here on Vinography is always a sober wake up call to most of us who are wine lovers, because it represents a world of wine that we left behind a long time ago, or in some cases, have never experienced. Is it safe to assume that none of you reading this blog regularly buy Turning Leaf or Franzia boxed wine from Safeway? Last time... continue reading


Vinography Images: The Blue Fog

Blue Fog "I love this shot. It's like two different worlds divided by a veil of fog. Vineyard landscapes are often this way, I think. You can get lost amongst the rows of vines and forget that there's a whole other world out there." -- 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 the image. Mac users can also just click the image and drag it to your desktop. To set... continue reading


Winemakers, Watch out for Wasps!

Most winemakers are looking for a very specific reaction to their wine -- somewhere between an "aaah" and a "wow!" Which is another way of saying that I'll bet most of them would want to avoid a reaction called Wine-Induced Anaphylaxis and Sensitization to Hymenoptera Venom. Unfortunately, this problem seems like it may be hard to avoid. You see, apparently some people in Spain have been admitted to the hospital with severe allergic reactions to wine, or so they thought. Instead of being allergic to wine, however, these folks seem to be having reactions to trace amounts of wasp venom... continue reading


Top 2004 Napa Cabernet: Tasting at the Napa Wine Library

There are very few times during the year when the ordinary public has an opportunity to taste a large cross section of the wines from Napa, and most of those occasions are quite expensive. One of the least expensive, and most pleasant is the Napa Valley Wine Library tasting, which took place this past Sunday on the grounds of the Silverado Resort and Country Club in Napa. The Napa Wine Library is just that: a library about wine, which provides the public, as well as its supporting members, access to a significant collection of books and literature about all things... continue reading


Family Winemakers Tasting: August 19, San Francisco

Size isn't everything, they say, but sometimes it's mighty impressive. The yearly Family Winemakers tasting in San Francisco has as one of its many claims to fame that it is the single largest tasting of California wines in the world. That alone would not be reason for excitement, were it not for the generally exceptional quality of the wines that are on offer, year after year. Regular readers know that this tasting is quite possibly my favorite every year. It provides an opportunity to sample the wares of smaller, family-run wineries, many of whose wines are made in such small... continue reading


Urban Wine Experience Tasting: August 18, Alameda, CA

Wine country means a lot of things in California, a state with winegrowing regions stretching most of its 800 mile length. For most residents of the San Francisco Bay Area, we tend to think of Wine Country as Napa or Sonoma. Increasingly, however, wine country must also include the East Bay. The cities of Berkeley, Oakland, and Alameda are now home to dozens of "Urban" wineries which are producing some of California's most sought-after wines. Recently united by an organization known as the East Bay Vintners Alliance, this group of winemakers is holding its second annual Urban Wine Experience event.... continue reading


Vinography Images: Swirling Clouds

Swirling Clouds "This is one of the few shots that I have taken in the vineyards where the summer clouds have been so interesting. Usually, I find solid blue skies until sunset, at least in the summer. Winter on the other hand is amazing for its atmospheric conditions." -- 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... continue reading


San Francisco Wine Bar: WINE Bar and Shop

You know how they're always fixing up the neighborhood after you leave? This always seems to be happening to me. They remodeled my junior high school the year I became a freshman in high school. They remodeled my high school the year after I graduated. They re-did my college freshman dorm the year after I moved out.... And they put a decent wine bar in the Financial District after I switched jobs and was no longer working there. Sometimes, the world is out to get you. For those of you who don't share my bad luck, the addition of WINE... continue reading


Tasting Notes for Indian Wine: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Shall I reveal to you the true depths of my wine geekness? One of the most exciting things that I've done in the last few months was to get together with a friend of mine named Kimberly, who owns a wine marketing and communication agency and taste a whole bunch of wines from India that one of her colleagues had convinced a family member to send them. Indian wine is unknown territory for most wine lovers, and rightfully so. Winemaking, at least modern winemaking with vinifera grapes in India is a relatively recent phenomenon, though winemaking in some form has... continue reading


The Power of the Label

Show me a wine lover that hasn't made a purchasing decision based on the label, and I'll show you someone who isn't being honest with themselves. We all know how much power the label has. Or at least we thought we did. But now some researchers from Cornell University have come along and shown us that we had no idea just how much power over our malleable little minds that slip of paper on the bottle can be. Here's what they did. They gave people a free glass of wine with their dinner at a restaurant, and in so doing... continue reading


2005 Spencer Roloson Grenache Blanc, California

It's particularly pleasurable to watch a small wine label mature and make a name for itself in the world. I guess that could sound patronizing if I didn't make clear that I underline this sentiment with the utmost admiration for the hard work and talent that is required to have a wine label survive at all, let alone thrive. I have been watching, and drinking, Spencer Roloson wines since I first started writing about wine. At that time they were on their third or fourth vintage, and owner winemaker Sam Spencer was still settling into his groove, as it were.... continue reading


The Double Edge of Wine Science

There's always an element of the exciting and simultaneously the ominous whenever we discover something about the fundamental chemistry of wine. The flavors and aromas of wine are so complex that, like quantum mechanics and the secrets of dark matter, we are still puzzling out just exactly where they come from. This week, apparently some scientists in Australia actually figured out why some red wines have a black pepper character. It's a nifty little compound called Rotundone -- or more accurately, its a series of unknown compounds that Rotundone seems to always be associated with. I guess we haven't figured... continue reading


Vinography Images: Straight Rows

Straight Rows "Most of the time as a vineyard photographer, I'm looking for ways of breaking up the monotony of simply row after row of green vines. This is one of the reasons many of my images hinge upon a tree or some other form that can break up these lines. In this case however, even though I was initially drawn to the tree, the image ended up being about the precision of those rows. I have no idea how they get them so straight."-- Michael Regnier INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking (Mac users, click and hold) on... continue reading


IPNC 2007: Tidbits, Gossip, and Thoughts

I'm now safely back in San Francisco after spending last weekend at the 2007 International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Oregon. I have to say, I'm already missing the sun and the trees and relaxing days filled with good food and great wines. As I reflect back on the event, which I can heartily endorse for anyone interested in the Pinot Noir grape and its wines, there are some small bits and pieces of my experience which have not yet been captured by my previous posts, so I thought I'd just catalogue them here for my own peace of mind,... 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

1970 Chateau Gazin Pomerol, Bordeaux, France Good For a Glass and a Laugh Vinography Images: Rose Hill The Inexact and Ancient "Science" of Growing Stuff Vinography's Wine Aroma Card Now Available in French 2005 Bodegas Colomé "Estate" Malbec, Salta, Argentina Caribineri di Vino. AKA: Sommelier Cops. Stop Telling Us What to Taste Vinography Images: Winter Fog San Francisco Wine Bar: Hotel Biron

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