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~ October 2008 Archives ~



Dangerous Wine or Dangerous Reporting?

I look up to journalists. I really do. They actually get paid for doing what I play at here every day, and most of them are way better at it than I am. But every once in a while someone publishes a story that makes me wonder how we all manage to avoid riding journalists out of town on a rail. Witness the headlines that are rapidly rocketing their way across the internet: Heavy Metals Found in Wine, Metals in wine may be health danger, and Euro wines carrying potentially dangerous levels of heavy metals. If this is really true,... continue reading


2007 York Creek Vineyards Touriga Nacional Rose, Sonoma County

One of my favorite punching bags in the world is the sorry state of California rosé. For some reason, winemakers just don't seem to be able to produce the beautifully dry, crisp, tart rosés that I have come to expect from southern France, southern Italy, and northern Spain. These Mediterranean wines are the benchmark for rosé, and most American wines fall quite short. Which is why I'm so enthusiastic when I discover pink wines that are made well in this country. And when they're made of exotic grape varieties, so much the better! If you gave me three guesses as... continue reading


Is There Any Point to Negative Wine Reviews?

A little less than five years ago when I started this blog, I naively thought that I might try to do something different from all those big wine critics. They were only telling part of the story, I said to myself, but I was going to tell the whole thing. I wasn't going to pull the punches that I felt everyone else was avoiding. I decided I was going to write negative wine reviews -- just what the world needed. Or so I thought. I think my pioneering attitude lasted about six weeks, after which I was left with a... continue reading


A Conference for Wine Bloggers

A strange concept if there ever was one. A gathering of more than 150 wine bloggers in one place. Such a notion conjures a medley of reactions in my brain, but mostly it makes me feel old. "Why Sonny, I remember when there were only three wine blogs in the world..." I had planned on attending the entire two-and-a-half day event in Santa Rosa, California, but then my wife Ruth fell ill, and all sorts of things got put on hold. As a result I've driven up today to speak in one of the breakout sessions with my friend Tom... continue reading


Cadaretta Winery, Walla Walla, WA: Current Releases

I make it my habit to pay attention to new, small wineries. Generally that means seeking them out at public tastings, perking up my ears when I hear the names of wineries I don't know, and approaching each box of unknown wine I get on my doorstep as the potential to be something new and exciting. Generally, whatever you might like to call these efforts of mine, if they can be described as efforts, tend to be focused on California. This probably comes as no surprise to most, but that has nothing to do with my preferences, so much as... continue reading


Wine That Answers the Question: What is This Shit?

Amidst the tumbling financial markets, rapacious campaigning, and international crises of one form or another, we all need to slow down and have a glass of wine. Moreover, we all need to stop taking life quite so seriously. I normally don't look to French winegrowers for a source of amusement -- they are a famously unfunny lot -- but apparently desperate times have brought out some humor in some wine producers in the Languedoc. Faced with low demand for their cooperative produced wines in the face of their region's reputation for producing plonk, a group of winemakers have decided that... continue reading


Notes and Selections from the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting

There are good public wine tastings and there are bad public wine tastings. The difference between the good ones and the bad ones can be quite dramatic. The bad ones are in crappy locations, are poorly organized, offer no food, and only mediocre wines. The good ones are, well, just the opposite -- nicely organized, well catered, and offer great wines. And the best ones? Well, they start with a red carpet and get better from there: all-you-can-eat eat oyster bars, cheeses, constantly refilled platters of hors d'oeuvres, and wines that sometimes retail for hundreds of dollars, if you can... continue reading


The Joy of Sake 2008 Tasting: October 23, San Francisco

I absolutely love the fact that we've reached a point in this country where I don't need to explain why a sake tasting in San Francisco might be an enjoyable way to spend an evening. In the five years since I've been writing this blog, sake has gone from obscure to obvious, hardly known to hip. The availability and visibility of sake in the US has blossomed, driving by fine dining establishments and the increasing popularity of all things Japanese. Despite this, however, the average wine lovers' knowledge of sake is extremely limited, mostly by virtue of not having tasted... continue reading


2006 Blackbird Vineyards "Illustration" Proprietary Red Wine, Oak Knoll District, Napa

As you likely know, I make it my business to keep my eye on new California wineries, especially in Napa and Sonoma, as much as I can given the fact that I do a lot of other things besides write about wine. Whenever possible, I like to taste the first releases from these wineries. They are not always fantastic - some are good, some show potential, and some simply need to be written off as first efforts and retried again later. That's the thing about wines, just because they're not good now, that doesn't mean they won't be later, and,... continue reading


Ehlers Estate, Napa: Current Releases

Who ever heard of a non-profit winery? The first time the folks at Ehlers Estate told me they were, I laughed. But somehow it's true -- amidst the glitz and glamour of Napa, there is a small winery that feeds all its profits back into the cardiovascular research foundation that owns it. There is, of course, a story behind this most unusual of affairs. The Ehlers estate was established in 1886 by Bernard Ehlers, who erected a winery building and carved his name in the stone above the doorway. Ehlers purchased the estate for $7,000 in gold coin from an... continue reading


Chicago Pinot Days Tasting: November 15, Chicago

Hey Chicago, listen up! If you live in the Windy City and you love wine -- you know who you are -- then there's someplace you better be on November 15th. Once upon a time there were only a few big-time, high-quality wine events around the country, and they tended to cluster heavily on the two coasts. These days, however, we are in in the midst of a gold rush of sorts, as people figure out that there's both good money to be made in putting on large scale wine tastings, and plenty of people who love to go to... continue reading


Raise a Fist for French Wine: Vive la France!

Solidarity, people. That's what I'm talking about. The winegrowers of France are outraged. So what else is new? But for once, I'm with them. If I were in France I'd be marching in the streets, arm in arm. Because instead of protesting the lack of subsidies for wine, or screaming about plans to tear out more vineyards, or blowing up buildings to try and raise the price of wine, French winemakers have finally gotten outraged at the right people for the right reasons. Of course, there's no word yet about whether CRAV is actually on board with this particular wave... continue reading


Another Reason to Live in Italy

We all have our fantasies. These days mine lean a bit more towards getting more sleep than chance encounters with Salma Hayek. But one thing I've never given up on, no matter how unlikely, is the daydream of one day living in Italy. Any wine lover who's been to the small towns in any one of Italy's wine regions knows what I'm talking about. There's just something about Italy that's truly magical if you're someone who loves food and wine. But I never knew quite how magical it could be, until this week, when the faucets of Marino, Italy started... continue reading


Pinot on the River Festival, October 24-26, Russian River Valley

Now is a wonderful time to be wandering around wine country. The harvest is mostly complete, so there's less chance of being hit by a wine truck, and while there's still a lot going on at wineries, things have faded from the manic atmosphere that pervaded the last four weeks at most places. All of this means that as the afternoon sun angles low, life gets pretty idyllic on the wine roads around Sonoma, and the timing is good to relax with friends and a nice glass of wine. Which is why, I suppose, around this time of year we... continue reading


Book Review: The Battle For Wine And Love by Alice Feiring

Review by Brooke Cheshier. I was going to read Alice Feiring's book and write my review and I swore I was not going to be influenced by the controversy that was thundering across the web-writing world. But then I thought, well, perhaps I'd just take a peek? One quick look? So I clicked onto the Cellar Rats forum, then the Wine Spectator Bulletin Board and suddenly found myself swept up in the tornadic, mostly negative conversations occurring on these sites. Heck, even Amazon.com reader critiques seemed uncensored. One Amazon review, titled Feir and Loathing on the Champagne Trail, basically dubbed... continue reading


Images of the South African Winelands

For those who are interested, here are some of the photographs I took while in South Africa. The winelands, as they are called, cover an area the size of a small U.S. state. They are extremely varied in their topography, though most are studded here and there with beautiful rock escarpments that are truly arresting. Most of the images are of vineyards, but I snuck in a couple of other scenes from my trip. Enjoy. If you're itching to see these larger, feel free to check them out on Flickr.... continue reading


Sadie Family Wines, Swartland, South Africa: Current Releases

I went to South Africa to learn about its wines. This meant understanding first hand what the country's wine regions and winemakers were capable of, and by implication, how they stacked up against the rest of the world. My main activity in pursuit of this goal consisted of tasting hundreds and hundreds of wines at Cape Wine 2008, the biannual trade show of South African wine. After about 10 hours of doing nothing but tasting wines, I had learned a thing or two about South African wine, the wine regions, and the various styles of wine currently being made throughout... continue reading


The Best South African Wines: Tasting the 2008 Cape Winemakers Guild

During my week in South Africa, I had a lot of educational experiences that involved serious spates of tasting, but perhaps one of the most insightful involved my attendance at the Cape Winemakers Guild pre-auction tasting. South Africa sports (to my knowledge) a rather unique organization known as the Cape Winemakers Guild. Started 25 years ago by eight South African winemakers, this association has been, and continues to be, the "who's who" of the country's winemaking talent. The CWG has as its mission to simply advance South African winemaking to the highest possible levels of quality and international recognition. Membership... continue reading

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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.

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Most Recent Entries

Dangerous Wine or Dangerous Reporting? 2007 York Creek Vineyards Touriga Nacional Rose, Sonoma County Is There Any Point to Negative Wine Reviews? A Conference for Wine Bloggers Cadaretta Winery, Walla Walla, WA: Current Releases Wine That Answers the Question: What is This Shit? Notes and Selections from the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting The Joy of Sake 2008 Tasting: October 23, San Francisco 2006 Blackbird Vineyards "Illustration" Proprietary Red Wine, Oak Knoll District, Napa Ehlers Estate, Napa: Current Releases

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