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~ March 2009 Archives ~



Pebble Beach Food and Wine Experience: April 16-19, Carmel, CA

Once upon at time, there was but one major event for food and wine enthusiasts looking to experience some of the top chefs and wines of the United States. The Aspen Food and Wine Classic was the ultimate experience for epicures and wine lovers who could afford to attend the multi-day showcase of taste. Other events equally focused on bringing together fine food and wine and the people who love them have followed. Strangely, for many years none of these events took place in California. Eventually, though, some people realized the travesty represented by this fact, and started an event... continue reading


Book Review: Reflections of a Wine Merchant by Neal Rosenthal

Review by Alfonso Cevola. It's not unusual to pick up a wine book that reads like a journal. But Neal Rosenthal's Reflections of a Wine Merchant reads like it could have been the personal journey of a score of young folks who entered the wine industry 30 years ago, me included. The confluence of experience was so uncanny at times that I started thinking this guy had climbed inside my head. He may be a celebrated and accomplished fellow in the world of wine importers now, but in the early days many of us traveled the same wine paths and... continue reading


Williams Selyem, Russian River Valley: Pinot Noir Current Releases

Great wineries not only make great wines, they do so consistently. This year-in-year-out maintenance of quality can prove quite difficult, especially for wineries that practice winemaking in a so-called "non-interventionalist" manner, allowing the vintage to show through the fruit, and allowing the fruit to control the winemaking process. The fact that the world's best wineries manage to make good, even great wines in difficult vintages makes them truly worthy of reverence, and is a testament to the skills of the farmer and the winemaker. There are only a handful of wineries in California that, in my opinion, can produce consistently... continue reading


Vinography Images: Light Through Grapes

Light Through Grapes In a miraculous chemistry shared with so many bounties of the natural world, grapes take the light of the sun and fuse it into something special, as if they were the opposite of prisms. Light here is both a source of life and of illumination, inseparably so. And I don't know about you, but looking at this image makes me hungry. And thirsty. -- Alder Yarrow INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target as" and then select the desired location on your computer to save the... continue reading


The Rise of the Shotgun Wine Company

I've noticed an interesting phenomenon lately, one that has become observable to me as the number of unsolicited wine samples I get continues to increase. More and more new wineries are taking a shotgun approach to the market, spewing out wines and seeing what they can hit. Usually my wine samples come in a compact little box, with one or two or four bottles carefully nestled inside, along with a note or a press release or whatever the winery wants to send me about the wine. But with some frequency I am now getting huge case boxes, rattling and squeaking... continue reading


Merry Edwards Wines, Russian River Valley: Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs

Meredith "Merry" Edwards drives an SUV with a license plate that matches the title on her business card: Reina de Pinot. With far too few female winemakers in this country, claiming to be the Queen of Pinot might not involve much competition no matter what your real qualifications. But anyone would be hard pressed to find a woman winemaker in the Western Hemisphere that has more experience growing and making Pinot Noir than Merry Edwards. Frankly, there aren't many winemakers, men or women, that have been making Pinot in the state of California for more than thirty years. Edwards started... continue reading


For Your Next Wine Vacation....

Did I mention that I love the Internet? Where else, and how else, could we discover the ultimate wine lover's dream vacation: visiting the charming Dutch, eating fabulous cheese, drinking good wine, and going to sleep at night in a giant wine vat: I can't believe I missed the chance to check this out the last couple of times I was in the Netherlands. Apparently the Hotel de Vrouwe van Stavoren features guest rooms built inside 14,500 liter wine-casks! That's totally worth the 2-3 hour train ride from Amsterdam next time I'm there. I know I would definitely like to... continue reading


Book Review: Heard it Through the Grapevine by Matt Skinner

There are two things I wish were more easily found in the world of wine: great bottles for under $5, and excellent introductory wine books for novice wine lovers. Although after reading his latest book Heard it Through The Grapevine: The Things You Should Know to Enjoy Wine, I'm tempted to suggest that the wine world also needs more people like Matt Skinner. Born in Melbourne, Australia, Skinner stumbled into the wine world almost by accident. As relayed in a 2005 profile in the UK's The Observer, his transformation from surf bum to celebrity sommelier sounds more like the plot... continue reading


Vinography Images: Leaf and Berry

Leaf and Berry Even those who work in vineyards every day can't match the stillness of contemplation that a photograph like this provides. For those who are less familiar with what wine looks like before it's liquid, behold the beauty of the little self contained universe that is the berry cluster. Dotted with dew and speckled with the yeasts that will eventually turn these berries into wine, this cluster is a self contained winemaking miracle. Of course, this is a less than perfect cluster, as the burst and dried berries show, but that doesn't matter to the photographer. --... continue reading


The Best Italian Wines: Tasting Tre Bicchieri 2009

I pride myself on my broad tastes in wine. I like wine from everywhere, and don't believe I have a specific bias towards one region or another. However, each year, that claim is shaken a little bit as I emerge from what is one of the best wine tasting events held in San Francisco, The Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri tasting. For those unfamiliar with the Gambero Rosso, it is essentially an organization focused on the promotion and evaluation of Italian food and wine that each year publishes a guide by the same name. The Gambero Rosso is the Italian Wine... continue reading


2006 Isole e Olena "Collezione de Marchi" Chardonnay, Tuscany, Italy

Chardonnay is just about the last grape variety I think about when I daydream about Italian wine. In casual conversation, I might have even been overheard to suggest that planting Chardonnay in Italy would be a waste of a good vineyard. Now, that isn't to say that I haven't had good Chardonnays from Italy -- I've had a couple of them that are quite good -- but with all the fabulous indigenous grape varieties that exist, I tend to confine my white wine drinking to grapes that are a little harder pronounce. All of which meant for the perfect set... continue reading


Taste Washington Wine and Food Festival: April 4-5, Seattle

I may be a little bit like a broken record when it comes to large public tasting events. I can't underscore enough to my readers how valuable they are for their ability to help novice wine lovers turn into experienced ones. There is simply no better way to educate your palate (or even just find out what kind of wine you like and do not like) than to attend a large public tasting. Such tastings are all the more valuable when they are focused on a particular style of wine, or a particular region. When it comes to regional tastings,... continue reading


Vinography Images: Mixed Blacks

Mixed Blacks This old vine Zinfandel, with its gnarled trunk and colorful leaves is a good reminder of California's winemaking heritage that is still drinkable in the form of field blends of what the old timers used to call Mixed Blacks. These wines are made from many different varieties of interplanted red grapes (hence the 'mixed') that are all harvested together, crushed together, and fermented together in whatever proportion they exist in the vineyard (hence the 'field'). Some of my favorites come from Casa Nuestra, York Creek, and Acorn Winery. -- Alder Yarrow INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking... continue reading


Vinography Aroma Card Now Available in Japanese

When I published the Vinography Aroma Card two years ago 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 a couple of years... continue reading


Starting Today, You Can't Sell Fine California Wine in Europe

Something is rotten in the State of Denmark, Hamlet famously proclaimed. Rotten may not quite describe it, but something is definitely amiss in the European Union when it comes to importing wine. Apparently it wasn't enough for the US to agree to stop using the words Port, Champagne, and Burgundy on products that were clearly not from these areas. Today a piece of legislation has gone into effect that forbids the sale of any U.S. wine in Europe that has any of the following words on its label: chateau', 'classic', 'clos', 'cream', 'crusted/crusting', 'fine', 'late bottled vintage', 'noble', 'ruby', 'superior',... continue reading


And For the Wine Lover that has Everything...

We present the most awesome (let's admit it, the ONLY) steampunk corkscrew and wine pourer we've ever seen. All I want to know is whether it comes with the guy in the tux to crank the handle for you. You gotta see this: And if you have to ask which room of your house you put it in, you can't afford it. This thing needs a special room all its own. Via Gizmodo via Cooking Gadgets.... continue reading


2007 Burgundy: Tasting the Frederick Wildman and Sons Portfolio

The average wine drinker doesn't think much about distributors and importers. And why should she? There's not much need to interact with the folks behind the scenes who are responsible for getting wine into stores and restaurants where the public gets a chance to try them. Despite a general lack of familiarity with this whole tier of the wine industry, it should come as no surprise to most wine drinkers that there are a lot of different kinds of wine distribution companies. Just as there are different kinds of wine retailers, from the corner liquor store to the highest-end wine... continue reading


Vinography Images: Bernardus

Bernardus This image was taken high in the Carmel Valley, to the south of Monterey California, on the property of Bernardus Vineyards, which is owned by the well known Bernardus Lodge -- a hotel, spa, and restaurant. The vineyards at the edges of the valley were planted with the major Bordeaux grape varieties, taking care to skirt the live oaks that dot the hillsides. INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking 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


Vinography and the American Wine Blog Awards

Yesterday Vinography won Best Writing on a Wine Blog, and Best Overall Wine Blog for the second year in a row in the 2009 American Wine Blog Awards, and I want to thank you all for making it happen, especially those of you who took the time to vote for me in the process. But regardless of whether or not you voted for me, or even voted at all, your readership remains the primary reason that I continue to write, and I want to thank you for that from the bottom of my heart. And since this already sounds like... continue reading


Rhone Rangers Tasting: March 22, San Francisco

I love watching the green buds burst forth on the trees this time of year, hard on the heels of the cherry blossoms. Yes, it's California, and the groundhog doesn't agree with me, but the barest hint of any season gets me excited, but especially Spring. And with Spring in San Francisco comes lots of wine tasting events, and a few really good ones. The Annual Rhone Rangers Tasting in San Francisco is certainly one of the Spring highlights for wine lovers in the Bay Area. Held at Fort Mason, like all the other big tastings, Rhone Rangers offers the... continue reading


Respectfully Asking for Your Vote

Today is the last day to vote in the 2009 American Wine Blog Awards, the only real contest of its kind for the folks who tap away day after day with something to say about wine on the Web. If you're reading this blog, then chances are you read several wine blogs, and so you know a thing or two about what makes for good wine content in this alternative universe that some call the blogosphere. And if that's true, then I'd like to urge you to vote in these awards, as your opinion is the most valuable criteria in... continue reading


Drink What You've Got: Wine in Troubled Times

The current recession offers a blessing in disguise for many wine lovers. Even those whose decreased purchasing power means they can't buy wine like they used to. For many wine lovers, the instinct to collect is strong. Beyond the dopamine rush of finding new wines to own, which may not be that far removed from the buzz of the compulsive gambler, the benefit of aging wines adds an allure to socking away bottles that can be hard to resist, especially if you have the financial means to do so. One of the great pleasures of being a wine lover comes... continue reading


Rivers-Marie Winery, Sonoma Coast: Current Releases

The creation of a new winery is always an exciting thing, especially when it is founded with the goal of being small, conscientious, and expressive of a particular place and grape. Like turning the corner in a new neighborhood and discovering a tiny shop that sells exquisite crafts, or finding a hole in the wall restaurant that serves the perfect version of a favorite dish, tasting great wine from a recently begun boutique winery is one of my favorite experiences in the world. We hear a lot (and I certainly write a lot) about wineries or wine labels that represent... 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

Pebble Beach Food and Wine Experience: April 16-19, Carmel, CA Book Review: Reflections of a Wine Merchant by Neal Rosenthal Williams Selyem, Russian River Valley: Pinot Noir Current Releases Vinography Images: Light Through Grapes The Rise of the Shotgun Wine Company Merry Edwards Wines, Russian River Valley: Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs For Your Next Wine Vacation.... Book Review: Heard it Through the Grapevine by Matt Skinner Vinography Images: Leaf and Berry The Best Italian Wines: Tasting Tre Bicchieri 2009

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