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~ May 2008 Archives ~



Book Review: To Cork or Not To Cork by George Taber

There's only one thing, you might say, that stands between a thirsty wine lover and her wine. And luckily, that obstacle is usually easily overcome with one or more variations on a twist of a wrist. Corks, screwcaps, crowncaps, glass stoppers, plastic corks, synthetic corks, agglomerated corks, the list goes on and on. 20 billion of them are used each year, and these closures which seal our precious bottles of wine are given very little thought by most wine drinkers. Indeed, we only tend to notice them when they are unexpected -- a screwcap when we were thinking about cork,... continue reading


Marin County Pinot Noir Tasting: June 14th, Larkspur

Most of the major appellations of California tend to have their own large tastings, where members of the public have an opportunity to sample a broad range of wines from a specific area. These tastings, as I am fond of reminding you readers, are by far the best way to educate your palate and to learn both what you like and do not like, but also who you like and do not like when it comes to California wine. These tastings are the best places to discover your next favorite wine. This particular wine tasting may be a chance to... continue reading


Slovenian Wine: A New Frontier for White Wine Lovers

The wine world increasingly sorts out into two camps, those who believe increasing globalization is good for the wine industry, and those who believe that it ruins everything good about wine. Never mind that it is most certainly happening and impossible to stop. Those who regularly follow my ramblings know that I think globalization is the best thing to happen to wine since someone figured out that stainless steel tanks made for good fermentations. Leaving aside all the petty and ridiculous arguments about the homogenization of wine, which I think are bollocks, I offer the simplest and most compelling reason... continue reading


Movia, Slovenia: Current Releases

Visitors to the far Northeast of Italy, in the shadows of the Austrian Alps, quickly realize that they are not really in Italy, no matter what the maps say. Traveling to the east of Venice and north of Trieste puts one in the midst of a a patchwork quilt of languages, geography, and political affiliations. One town will speak perfect Italian, and you'll find risotto on every table and then a few kilometers away, another town will speak German and serve you knockwurst. Such diversity is actually quite entertaining and makes for a really interesting variety of food and, as... continue reading


How Much Longer Must French Wine Suffer?

There are stupid, corrupt, and morally righteous politicians everywhere. Americans need look no farther than their own legislators for proof of that. Just ask the folks in Illinois, who, thanks to some heavy lobbying by the state's liquor wholesalers with hefty donations to key representatives, will no longer be able to buy wine from anyone outside of their state on June 1st. But no matter how much it sucks to be a wine lover in Chicago right now, the folks there are certainly in better shape than the French, who continue to suffer under the most asinine set of laws... continue reading


Golden Glass Tasting: June 8th, San Francisco

There aren't many "secret" public wine tastings in San Francisco, but for several years, the Golden Glass tasting was about as close as you could get to a "wine insiders" tasting. Historically under-promoted, and generally not well attended, this tasting was often considered by some of my wine friends to be the single best public wine tasting in San Francisco. It may well still be. However, this year's Golden Glass tasting is taking a different approach to its wines. In past years this event, which is a fundraiser for Slow Food USA, has focused almost exclusively on small Italian wine... continue reading


2004 Chateau du Rouet "Cuvee Belle Poule" Blanc, Cotes de Provence, France

I drink wine from as many different countries as I can, as often as I can. I firmly believe that the only way I keep learning anything as a wine lover will be through continued exploration. There are times, though, when searching out new countries, grape varieties, and appellations just takes too much energy. At times like these, usually after a long week, I just want a nice meal and a good glass of wine to go with it. Like most people in these situations of part-exhaustion, I tend to stick to the predictable -- the least risky choice that... continue reading


Book Review: Biodynamic Wine, Demystified by Nicholas Joly

Review by Tim Patterson. Biodynamic grapegrowing and winemaking have gotten a great deal of press in recent years, far out of proportion to the planted acreage involved. Much like the coverage for the adventures of Britney Spears--also wildly outstripping the extent of her creative resume--biodynamics write-ups have tended toward the sensational, even the salacious, emphasizing the ritual usage of cow dung and excursions into pop astrology. At the same time, there is no denying that the international Who's Who of biodynamic growers and winemakers turns out some mighty tasty wine--Chapoutier in the Rhone, Zind Humbrecht and Ostertag in Alsace, Domaine... continue reading


Wine & Spirits Hot Picks Tasting: May 22, Los Angeles

The American wine industry is pretty excited these days. Sales are up, and the demographics are looking good: the youngest generation of alcohol consumers (known as the "Millennials") are much more interested in wine than any other generation before them, and there are a lot of them -- almost as many as the Baby Boomers. In many ways, the Millennial generation has caused the wine industry to finally realize there's a market in younger wine drinkers, a group that has long been ignored by both the wine media and most wine producers. While the beer and hard liquor industries... continue reading


The Passing of a Legend: Robert Mondavi 1913-2008

Today the United States lost one of its living legends, as Robert Mondavi died today at the age of 94. It's hard to overstate the impact that Robert Mondavi had on the wine world. His name itself was, and still is, one of the most well known brands in America. His family's (and his own) success in the wine business was a prototypical example of the American dream. Robert Mondavi moved to Napa in 1930's to work in the post-prohibition wine industry of the region, having grown up making wine with his father and brothers in Lodi, California, before attending... continue reading


We Interrupt This Blog to Bring You: Vinography Jr.

I wrote this post in advance, knowing that I'd probably have to throw it up here at the last minute and sprint. Things might be a little erratic around here for the next couple of weeks, thanks to a new addition to the Vinography family. See what happens when you drink wine? Let this be a lesson to you. A few good nights with a few good bottles, and nine months later? Pop. Just like a cork. So we're off to the hospital with a bottle of Krug, and you probably won't see a post here for a few days... continue reading


Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival: May 16-18, Philo, CA

California Pinot Noir lovers take note. Wine lovers with a free weekend, listen up. It's Spring, and the wine events are coming fast and furious. It seems like every week there's a new wine tasting to go to. But some are more worth paying attention to than others. Anderson Valley is known for two things in California, and not coincidentally, it has more or less two major wine tasting events per year. The first, the International Alsace Varietals festival took place a few months ago, and I was sadly prevented from attending. The second is the annual Pinot Noir Festival,... continue reading


Meteor Vineyard, Napa: Debut Releases

Barry Schuler may know a thing or two about running multi-billion dollar technology companies, but what he really wants to talk about, given the chance, is food and wine. The former CEO of AOL, Schuler often gets credited along with Steve Case (who preceded Schuler as CEO) for the company's success in the late Nineties. But while his colleagues and most of America's top technology executives were returning home at the end of their long days to comfortable suburbs near major metropolitan areas, at the end of the week Schuler was making his way back to Napa, California. Schuler may... continue reading


Book Review: Red, White, and Drunk All Over by Natalie MacLean

Review by Jessica Yadegaran Do readers really care about active yeasts and secondary fermentation? Or do they long to understand wine's seductions, and its otherworldly sense of place? Do they care about a region's production, or would they rather hear how a glass of juice resembles a curvy redhead, and why it makes them feel the way it does? You know, drunk. This is among Natalie MacLean's first points in Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass. A descendent of Celtic alcohol-lovers and livers, MacLean, a sommelier, writes first and foremost from a sensual... continue reading


Vinography Images: Water Droplet

Water Droplet "Taking interesting pictures in vineyards isn't easy. While many are surely picturesque, there is a lot of sameness in them -- row after row of vines -- and that repetition makes it easy to overlook little details like this that can be quite beautiful" -- 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.... continue reading


1990 Trimbach "Cuvee Frederic Emile" Riesling, Alsace

I can remember a time when the word "Alsace" only brought to mind dim memories of my 5th grade class discussion on some valley that people were fighting about in one of those big wars. In those days I definitely couldn't spell Gewurztraminer, and I had only tried one or two of them. Perhaps you'd call me a late bloomer when it came to Alsatian wine, but bloom I eventually did, and now I'm a quiet, but fierce devotee of what I believe to be some of the most individualistic wines on the planet. Alsace has always been an... continue reading


Yeast: Part of Wine's Terroir or Its Mortal Enemy?

I'd like to point you readers to an interesting post by Clark Smith, at his GrapeCrafter blog, about Natural Winemaking (yes, capitalized) and the role of yeasts in the winemaking process. Clark spent some time recently at a wine industry event where panelists and the audience discussed the definition of what Natural Winemaking actually is. It comes as no surprise to me that the group couldn't achieve consensus around a concept that remains, as far as I am concerned, a broken metaphor (vinegar is natural, wine requires technological intervention). One particular sticking point arose out of a discussion surrounding the... continue reading


Does Napa's Best Cabernet Live in Oakville?: A Recent Tasting

While often referred to as a single "place" when it comes to wine, Napa is hardly a single monolithic growing region. Each of its 14 established AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) lays claim to a separate identity, characterized by geology, microclimate, and different histories of production. The Oakville AVA has one of the most storied of such histories. It is home to the famed To Kalon Vineyard, purchased by H.W. Crabb in 1868, shortly after the installation of a railroad stop made the tiny village of Oakville spring to life. In 1876 Crabb's neighbor John Benson bottled his inaugural vintage of... continue reading


2005 Piña Napa Valley "D'Adamo Vineyard" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa

If one were to speculate on the wine market as a savvy investor might in the small-cap stock market, the game would be the same: follow people you know with good track records. In the wine world, we'd also have to include a corollary about betting on great vineyard sites, but leaving aside the raw materials, it's clear that most good wines don't happen by accident. They're made by talented people. Finding talented people in Napa isn't hard at first. There are a lot of them, many of whom have big brand names. When they start working for a winery,... continue reading


Screaming Eagle Snubs The Wine Trade

The danger of a post such as this will be the fact that some of you, and perhaps the people concerned, will believe that I am simply whining. But let me assure you, though I am slightly disappointed, I am far more astonished at what seems to me to be a level of rudeness and arrogance that is thankfully rare in the wine world. Monday afternoon, April 28th, the Oakville Winegrowers Association put on a tasting of wines grown and made in Napa's Oakville AVA (American Viticultural Area) for the trade and the media. Such tastings are quite rare for... continue reading

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Most Recent Entries

Book Review: To Cork or Not To Cork by George Taber Marin County Pinot Noir Tasting: June 14th, Larkspur Slovenian Wine: A New Frontier for White Wine Lovers Movia, Slovenia: Current Releases How Much Longer Must French Wine Suffer? Golden Glass Tasting: June 8th, San Francisco 2004 Chateau du Rouet "Cuvee Belle Poule" Blanc, Cotes de Provence, France Book Review: Biodynamic Wine, Demystified by Nicholas Joly Wine & Spirits Hot Picks Tasting: May 22, Los Angeles The Passing of a Legend: Robert Mondavi 1913-2008

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