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~ April 2008 Archives ~



RAP Pink Out Rose Tasting: May 13, San Francisco

It's almost impossible to write about pink wines these days without invoking some sort of cliche. Even the (true) claim that rosé wines are no longer out of fashion has been recycled so many times that I'm cringing just typing it. The fact of the matter is that after years of being vino-non-grata, pink wines are finally back in the awareness of American wine drinkers. After the success of Sutter Home White Zinfandel sent wine lovers running for the hills every time someone offered them a glass of rose, discerning palates are returning to pink wines in huge numbers. According... continue reading


The Mountain Wines of Napa: Tasting Notes From Altitude

We live in a world of marketing, where everyone struggles to distinguish their product from the competition and where seduction is the name of the game. Winemakers and producers seemingly must participate in this cacophony of messages in order for their wines to attract the attention of consumers. This competition for eyeballs in the store (or online), and then share of wallet (or, one might say, share of cellar) leads to an awful lot of hype. Wine labels and web sites are now chock full of all sorts of claims and phrases, leaving consumers to sort out the honest descriptions... continue reading


The Complete List of Wine Blogs

I never thought this day would come. Really. When I started Vinography more than four years ago, part of my inspiration was the fact that when I typed "wine blog" into Google, I got zero results. I did the same with all the major blogging sites/services and came up pretty much empty handed. There were one or two wine blogs that had been started several months earlier, but they had been abandoned. So I started tapping out my thoughts about in my own little dark corner of the Internet, assuming that in a while I'd have one or two friends... continue reading


Vinography Images: Path to Tree

Path to tree "Photographing vineyards isn't the easiest thing in the world. While they all have their own particular beauties, there's a lot that stays the same -- rows of grapevines, one after another. I often find myself wandering outside the vineyards themselves to see what new perspectives I can get. I liked this tree that sits behind the crest of the vineyard hill. You an barely see the last row of vines at the top of the hill." -- Michael Regnier INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking (Mac users, click and hold) on the image and selecting "save... continue reading


Wine Critics are Parasites, But That Doesn't Mean We Can Be Bought

One of the world's leading wine critics has just proclaimed that wine writers, journalists, and critics are all parasites. According to Decanter magazine, while being paid to hang out in a plush cliffside hotel in Ronda, Spain, Jancis Robinson took a moment out from tasting some of the world's best wines to admonish her fellow journalists, "We must always remember that we are parasites on the business of winemaking." From Websters: Parasite \ˈper-ə-ˌsīt, ˈpa-rə-\ . Noun. 1 : a person who exploits the hospitality of the rich and earns welcome by flattery 2 : an organism living in, with, or... continue reading


2005 Domaine Albert Boxler Pinot Gris "Vieilles Vignes," Alsace

Like Jazz standards interpreted endlessly by masters and amateurs alike, grapes find infinite expression in the hands of winemakers around the world. These interpretations, filtered through the lens of a regions climate and geology, are often wildly different from place to place. Syrah from Paso Robles in California, the Barossa Valley in Australia, Cornas in France's Northern Rhone Valley, and Washington State's Colombia Gorge are so wildly different you might even question that they were the same grape in a blind tasting. Such variation serves to both delight and befuddle wine lovers at different turns, and can often prompt the... continue reading


Wines of Portugal Tasting: April 22, San Francisco

I'm a little late to the game on this one folks, so apologies for the last minute notification. But if you're not busy on Tuesday evening and you are either a fan of Port or interested in one of the more interesting up-and-coming red wine regions of the world, you may want to pay attention. We get plenty of opportunities to taste California wines around here, and some chances to explore France and Italy, but Portuguese wine tastings are rare in most of the United States. This tasting has been billed as the largest Portuguese wine tasting in America. Of... continue reading


Wine Decanters Aren't Worth the Money or The Hassle

I'm sure that by the end of the week, Georg Riedel will have a contract out on my life, but no matter. This needs saying, and I'm ready to face the consequences. Fancy wine decanters are a waste of your money. They are also a royal pain in the neck. Oh sure, they're beautiful and elegant. They exude class and sophistication. Some of them even rise to the level of art. But when it comes to what they're actually good for, 97.9999% of them are a complete waste of money. Don't get me wrong. This is not a rant against... continue reading


Does Expensive Wine Taste Better Than Cheap Wine?

Regardless of your level of wine knowledge, and independent of the price you normally pay for a bottle of wine, I'm willing to bet that you'll agree with the following statement: On average (which is to say, not ALWAYS) a bottle of wine that costs $150 will taste better than a bottle that costs $2. That's what I would assume, at least. And built into that assumption is another assumption -- that many people (though certainly not all) would be able to tell the difference between the two. According to a recent paper from the delightful folks at the Journal... continue reading


2003 Pulenta Estate "Gran Corte VII" Red Wine, Mendoza, Argentina

Three years ago this week I was making my way around the top restaurants of Buenos Aires, ordering too much food, too much wine, and having a grand old time. I had come to Argentina, in addition to simply relax, to find out whether or not there was anything worth drinking made out of a grape called Malbec. The answer, of course, was a resounding "yes!" I managed to figure out why some serious wine lovers (and critics alike) had begun to quietly suggest that Argentinean Malbec was going to be the Next Big Thing. This wine was NOT one... continue reading


Book Review: House of Mondavi by Julia Flynn Siler

Review by W. Blake Gray. Carlo Rossi was a real person: a relative of Ernest and Julio Gallo. In the 1970s, the Gallos launched a new jug wine and decided "Carlo Rossi" (though he actually went by "Charlie.") had the right ring to it. Now he's famous and synonymous with cheap wine. This is not a bad thing: songs and even a band have been named after him. And people who buy Carlo Rossi wine do not turn up their noses at it -- it's bringing pleasure into their lives. It seems that Robert Mondavi may be headed down the... continue reading


Lest You Forget That Wine is Business...

As wine lovers, we all belong to a club whose entrance criteria include passion and romanticism. We return to wine again and again for its magical ability to transcend what is in the glass, and to transport us in memory and experience to both favorite and new places. By far the most pleasurable and rewarding relationship with wine involves an affair of just these sorts of passions, blissfully ignorant of the facts which demand that wine also be understood in terms of economics, politics, and science. Many of us are content to live in a world where there is no... continue reading


Wine Blogging Wednesday #45 Announced: Old World Riesling

Seven years ago, I didn't really know anything about Riesling. Seriously. Most of the Rieslings I had tasted at that point were purchased in supermarkets. Which meant that they were all from California or Washington, and that almost without exception, they sucked. I had yet to begin exploring the wines of Germany and Austria (I would shudder at the thought of decoding those inscrutable five-syllable names) and when it came to the wines of Alsace, I tended to pass over Riesling in favor of Gewurztraminer and Pinot Blanc. I had probably tasted one or two Rieslings from the Clare Valley... continue reading


Vinography Images: Wire and Posts

Wire and Posts "This is a recent image from a trip to Sonoma. I'm always attracted to the trees in the vineyards, and their relationships to the vines. At this time of year they both take on a sculptural aspect with bare branches against the sky, at times criscrossed by the threads of exposed trellis wire." -- 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... continue reading


Neal Family Vineyards, Napa: Current Releases

In some ways, if Mark Neal and his small winery, Neal Family Vineyards, didn't make fantastic wines, it would be cause for extreme concern. Neal has been working in the vineyards since the age of eight, and his family business, which was responsible for his early employment among the vines, has been managing many of Napa's finest vineyards for more than four decades. At this point, Jack Neal and Sons, which still carries the name of Mark's father, who passed away in 1994, is the single largest vineyard management company in Napa according to Neal. They manage well over 2000... continue reading


Napa With Altitude Tasting: April 23, San Francisco

If you've been drinking wine long enough, especially California wine, you've probably heard the phrase "hillside fruit" or "mountain fruit." While both phrases are certainly overused (I've seen some vineyards that produce "hillside fruit" that are about as steep as my kitchen floor) I cannot deny that I believe there is something special about fruit that is properly grown on steep slopes and mountainsides. I've had too many fantastic wines from such vineyards, whose generally sunny but cooler slopes produce slower maturing fruit that often has a distinct brightness and juiciness that I find hard to resist. Everyone knows Napa... continue reading


Dirty Tuscan Laundry

What's a little bit of Cabernet between friends? Depends on who you ask. In California a little dash of Cabernet in your Merlot, or vice versa would hardly be cause for comment. Technically, in order to have the words "Cabernet Sauvignon" on the label, only 75% of the wine has to be Cabernet. In Italy, however, the largest wine scandal in decades has recently erupted over a little bit of Cabernet and Merlot mixed in with Sangiovese. In an incident that is already being referred to as Brunellogate, several prominent winegrowers in Tuscany are facing prosecution on charges of adulterating... continue reading


Book Review: First Big Crush by Eric Arnold

Review by Christy McGill. Have you ever daydreamed about a different life? Perhaps one set in some sun-dappled, far-flung wine-making countryside where rows of grape vines bursting with perfect fruit are transformed with the help of your touch into magnificent wine? A better question might be—has anyone with even a cursory interest in wine actually not harbored this fantasy? Eric Arnold, a 20-something former joke and copywriter decided to chuck it all, leave New York and take his version of that daydream to the next level. What resulted is First Big Crush: The Down and Dirty on Making Great Wine... continue reading


Eat, Drink, and Be Green Earth Day Event: April 20, Sebastopol, CA

For the dedicated wine drinker, every holiday is a wine holiday. Not like we really need an excuse to celebrate wine, of course, but if you're going to celebrate anything, its best to do it with wine. Of course, certain holidays lend themselves more to a wine theme than others, and Earth Day may be one of the most wine friendly around. When you're busy celebrating the Earth and our environment, what better way is there to celebrate than to drink something that is truly the product of that Earth? Add to this the fact that Spring is in the... continue reading


Vinography Images: The Wreath

The Wreath "I love how this image has the dim antiquity of an old Daguerrotype photograph. The mood transcends the simplicity of the simple vine wreath that someone made casually, in a moment of rest, and then carried on with the pruning." -- 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 the image... continue reading


2005 Domaine de Chateau Gaillard Saumur, Loire Valley, France

The Loire Valley is perhaps one of the most underrated and unexplored (by most Americans) wine producing regions in France. So often eclipsed by the bombast of Bordeaux, Burgundy, and the Rhone, if it is known at all, the Loire tends to be known for its famous Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre. Yet the region, which is the largest white wine producing region in France, and the third largest winegrowing appellation (AOC) in the country, also produces many excellent red wines, chiefly from Cabernet Franc. The most dominating feature of the Loire Valley must be the river itself, France's longest and... continue reading


A Roundup of Today's Wine News

Some days are better for wine news than others, but today was particularly special, as the wine world was out in force. Here are some of my favorite headlines from today: New Movie In the Works about Robert Parker, starring Javier Bardem Based on the best-selling book, The Emperor of Wine, by Elin McCoy, the film will tell all about the man from Monkton. The Wine Spectator Opens New Wine Bar Now they have a glossy countertop for their glossy magazine. Apparently The Wine Spectator is set to open a brand new wine bar concept, featuring only wines that the... continue reading


Obata Shuzo Manotsuru "Yososaku" Junmai Daiginjo, Niigata Prefecture

Sake brewing has a long and storied history in Japan, and because of the island nation's relative isolation, many breweries can trace their origins back several centuries. Such timelines make it possible to suggest with only the smallest hint of jest, that having only been founded in 1885, Obata Shuzo is a relatively new kid on the sake brewing block. Yososaku Obata opened his brewery in 1885 on an island off the western coast of Japan's Niigata prefecture. A vintage photograph of the founder shows him dressed in a western suit, with a handlebar mustache that most Italian's would... 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

RAP Pink Out Rose Tasting: May 13, San Francisco The Mountain Wines of Napa: Tasting Notes From Altitude The Complete List of Wine Blogs Vinography Images: Path to Tree Wine Critics are Parasites, But That Doesn't Mean We Can Be Bought 2005 Domaine Albert Boxler Pinot Gris "Vieilles Vignes," Alsace Wines of Portugal Tasting: April 22, San Francisco Wine Decanters Aren't Worth the Money or The Hassle Does Expensive Wine Taste Better Than Cheap Wine? 2003 Pulenta Estate "Gran Corte VII" Red Wine, Mendoza, Argentina

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