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~ November 2008 Archives ~



Wine Twitters by Vinography

I'm an odd combination of early adopter and time starved executive. This means that I tend to know about and explore most Internet technologies as they hit the streets (and sometimes before) but I can't be bothered to really dive into them until I see a compelling reason to justify the time and effort of doing so, and more importantly until I know I have the bandwidth to use them effectively. Add to that the healthy skepticism gained from using the Internet since 1988 and living and working through the epicenter of the dot.com bust of 2000 and I'm quite... continue reading


Put a Cork in it: Screwcap Wine Closures Are Not Endangering Animals!

Why do I feel like the wine media watchdog these days? Maybe the holiday spirit brings out the misinformation campaigns like no other time of the year. Or perhaps journalists are getting lazy and are scrounging for material that they can recycle out of press releases they have stuffed in the bottom drawers of their desks. So what's the rant about? Today's piece of crap in the Telegraph, entitled "Screw Cap Wine Bottles Threaten Rare Species." The occasion for repeating this completely asinine claim that somehow if we don't stop using screwcaps all those delicate ecosystems of the cork forests... continue reading


Now is a Very Good Time to Buy Wine

If I had some extra cash laying around right now, in addition to plowing it into the stock market, I'd likely be out there buying investment grade wine, as well as wine from my favorite expensive producers. If you're a consumer of news about the wine industry, then you understand what is going on in the wine retailing and wine auction world at the moment. On the chance that Vinography might be one of your sole sources of contact with the wine world, let me bring you up to speed: the wine market is doing what the Dow Jones Industrial... continue reading


2006 Jean-Paul Thevenet "Vielles Vignes" Morgon, Beaujolais, France

The wine industry spends a lot of time and energy fighting for the attention of global consumers. In particular, they've tried hard to market seasonally to consumers, but they just can't quite compete with the likes of Oktoberfest for beer drinkers. The best that the wine industry has been able to come up with sends even the most tolerant wine lovers running for cover every November, as the rollout of Beaujolais Nouveau reaches ever more spectacular heights of commercial bling. It would be one thing if the wine was even somewhat drinkable. But these days, what passes for Beaujolais Nouveau... continue reading


2006 Williams Selyem "Hirsch Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

We don't have a Cru classification in California (we just have mailing lists and release prices) but there are a few vineyards in the state that would most certainly be at the top of the list. Their names are well known to those wine lovers who can afford the generally expensive wines they produce, and one of them is unquestionably the Hirsch Vineyard. First planted in 1980 by farmer David Hirsch, the Hirsch Vineyard is located on the mountain ridges above the northern California town of Fort Ross at 1500 feet above the ocean surface and 3.5 miles as the... continue reading


Stop The Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations!

I read a lot of wine writing. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. And when I say read, I mean, well, I scan all the headlines, and I read a good portion of it. Magazines, newspapers, hundreds of blogs. It's overwhelming at times, and damned hard work. But I enjoy it. Except for two particular times of year. The first is mid-summer, when everyone seems to be writing the exact same article about "Summer Sippers," white and pink wines that are as refreshing as they are delicious. But ever so much more evil and mind-numbing than... continue reading


Ye Olde Wine Shoppe

When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do on the weekends was to go to garage sales. I liked looking at all the stuff that other people had (which I didn't) but perhaps more importantly, I loved that I could buy it for a nickel. Or something like that. I'm sure my mother did, too, since we couldn't exactly afford shopping sprees at ToysRUs. I don't know when was the last garage sale I visited, but I'm pretty sure there wasn't anything there for a nickel. It's easy to get nostalgic about what amazing things we... continue reading


The Skeptic's Guide to Biodynamic Wine

The average wine consumer has no idea what it means for a wine to be organic. And when it comes to Biodynamic wines, most wine drinkers have never even heard of them. But that doesn't matter, because an increasing number of the most sought-after, expensive wines in the world are biodynamically produced, which means that biodynamics is one of the most significant modern trends in global winemaking. The only problem (for those who care) is that biodynamic winemaking involves a maddening, paradoxical mixture of scientifically sound farming practices and utterly ridiculous new-age mysticism. If you want to know just how... continue reading


2004 E. Guigal "Chateau d'Ampuis" Côte-Rôtie, Northern Rhone, France

One of the greatest experiences that a wine lover can encounter is a wine that stops them in their tracks. I'll admit that I'm excitable in general, but there's nothing that gets me quite so giddy as a schoolboy as when I stumble across a wine that truly bowls me over. Such wines are the closest I get anymore to the emotions of that first passionate kiss in a new relationship -- they electrify me. While the world slows down to a crawl around me, all I want to do is stick my nose in the glass and inhale slowly.... continue reading


The Best South African Wines, Part II: Cape Wine 2008 Scores

I went to South Africa to learn about South African wine, and the primary way for me to do that is to taste. So taste I did -- probably more than 500 wines by the end of the week -- spending two full days going from booth to booth at the Cape Wine 2008 expo trying to taste a wide cross section of South African wine while at the same time making sure to hit some of the producers I knew were among South Africa's best. The end result? Scores for more than 350 wines, and a very rapid education... continue reading


E-mail Scammers Hit Wine Retailer

One of the latest e-mail scams going around the Internet appears to be targeted at the wine industry. This scam operates at a slightly more sophisticated level than the now famous Nigerian scam. That scam begins with polite greetings (usually in all capital letters) and ends with with promises to share in a large sum of money if the victim will only help with the transfer of a large sum of money out of [insert country name here]. This latest wine focused scam masquerades as request for a private wine tasting and dinner for a large group from "out of... continue reading


1999 Perrier Jouet "Cuvee la Belle Epoque" Brut Champagne, Epernay, France

As some of you know, there was a time when I didn't really care for Champagne. But like so many preferences formed early in our lives, it turns out that I just hadn't had the good stuff. Unfortunately for my pocketbook, I eventually did find out what all the fuss was about, and now I enjoy it immensely. That is, as long as it is good. And good Champagne, invariably means expensive. I run the risk of coming off as snobbish, or at the very least elitist by saying this, but more so than most wines, you really get what... continue reading


The Truth About American Wine Drinking

Looks like a piece of news slipped by me a couple of months ago. Every year I look forward to a report, which more than any other single piece of news, speaks the truth about the state of wine in America. Restaurant Wine magazine commissions and publishes a report every year on the top 100 wines and top 100 wine brands sold in restaurants around the country, from family diners to fine dining restaurants. Based on the simple measure of how many cases of each wine were sold at these restaurants, we get a picture of the most important person... continue reading


I Don't Understand San Francisco Wine Week

Perhaps I'm just getting too old, but I can't for the life of me really understand what San Francisco Wine Week is all about. Here we are living in one of the greatest wine and food cities of the world. We're spoiled rotten when it comes to our wine and food. We expect, and regularly receive great local ingredients in our food, an incredible selection of wines from California and around the world, and completely take for granted the fact that we can bring a bottle of our favorite wine to any restaurant we like. If there was ever a... continue reading


2006 Handley Cellars "Hein Vineyard" Pinot Blanc, Anderson Valley

California's Anderson Valley remains one of its least known and most under-appreciated wine regions. In particular I believe it to be under-appreciated for its Pinot Noir, in particular, and in some cases, its Alsatian varieties of wine. I offer a slight caveat to the latter because while Anderson Valley is certainly known for producing wines in the style and varieties of those found in Alsace, France, in my experience they are mixed in quality. But when winemakers manage to get things right, Anderson Valley can produce some stunning examples of wines that might, in the right circumstances be mistaken for... continue reading


Semi-Debunking Wild Yeast Fermentation in Wine

If you've read many wine labels, especially those of wines that cost more than $25, you've almost certainly seen on that contains the phrase "fermented with wild yeasts" or "native yeast fermentation." This indication that the winemaker has not used a so-called "commercial" yeast is often a telltale clue as to the overall philosophy of the winemaker. Making wine without commercial yeasts can be more difficult, more unpredictable, and more risky than some are willing to accept. Those who do eschew commercial yeasts often do so because they are committed to making what they believe is a more natural wine,... continue reading


Three Cheers For a Wine Democracy

I've always privately believed that if everyone just drank a bit more wine, the world would be a better place. Who knows if that's really true, but apparently it's quite likely that if everyone drank more wine, the world would be more democratic. According to analysis by Jon Bonné, Wine Editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, Obama was elected by The Wine Vote. What's that, you ask? Wine drinking liberal elitists? Guilty as charged. But get this little statistic: Amount of wine produced in states that McCain won: 4.3 Million Gallons Amount of wine produced in states that Obama won:... continue reading


2004 La Stoppa "Ageno" White Blend, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

Most people faced a with the choice of merely a specific color of wine to drink will consider their stated preference between the options of red, white, or pink. My choice is none of the above. If I had to swear my allegiance to one color of wine, it would be orange. I have a friend who has seriously suggested that the world ought to acknowledge orange as a legitimate fourth color when it comes to wine. I don't know that I'd go that far, but I would seriously suggest that everyone drink as much of it as they can... continue reading


Wine and the Flavor of Curiousity

I never tire of looking out an airplane window at the shifting landscape below, mottled with the patchy light of cloud and shadow. The view is always new, fluid and streaming like the same river that we are told we never cross twice. Wine holds the same fascination for the same reasons, as if that proverbial river was bottled but still moving -- shifting and changing in defiance of its containment. Whenever I have the good fortune to drink older wines, I am reminded that they indeed move and shift in their own time, as if, like dogs and hummingbirds... continue reading


Sake: Drinking, Serving, Storing and Enjoying

As many of you know, I have a thing for sake, after being introduced to the high-end stuff when I was living and working in Japan. I try to review great sakes here on Vinography as often as I can, while at the same time trying to teach those who are unfamiliar with the stuff a bit more about it. Some readers, either through their questions, or their outright requests, have rightly pointed out that I have skipped over some of the basics when it comes to sake, and these basics aren't exactly as well known among my readers as,... 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.

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Most Recent Entries

Wine Twitters by Vinography Put a Cork in it: Screwcap Wine Closures Are Not Endangering Animals! Now is a Very Good Time to Buy Wine 2006 Jean-Paul Thevenet "Vielles Vignes" Morgon, Beaujolais, France 2006 Williams Selyem "Hirsch Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast Stop The Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations! Ye Olde Wine Shoppe The Skeptic's Guide to Biodynamic Wine 2004 E. Guigal "Chateau d'Ampuis" Côte-Rôtie, Northern Rhone, France The Best South African Wines, Part II: Cape Wine 2008 Scores

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