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~ April 2009 Archives ~



2007 Morgan "Metallico" Chardonnay, Monterey

It's not a huge leap from veterinary medicine to winemaking, and that leap is made even shorter when you're enrolled at UC Davis which happens to be the top school in the nation for both. Dan Lee initially thought he wanted to work with animals, but a few courses as electives during his vet school tenure were enough to convince him to immediately enroll in the Enology program as soon as he finished his undergraduate degree. While he still loves animals, Dan hasn't looked back, graduating and continuing on to become a winemaker for Jekel and Durney (now Heller... continue reading


Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival: May 15-17, 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


2005 François Blanchard "Violoncelite" Cabernet Franc, Touraine, France

Perhaps some of the most interesting wines in the world are made by cranks, crackpots, and wackos -- iconoclasts that keep time to their own secret rhythms and make wine in ways that often make sense only to them. You might say that I'm a collector of such wines and winemakers, in the same way that young boys collect baseball cards. And today I'll add another to my growing menagerie of eccentric visionaries that make extraordinary wine. François Blanchard is a jazz musician who one day found himself the owner of his family's (somewhat decrepit) wine estate and decided that... continue reading


Vinography Images: Terraced Vineyards

Terraced Vineyards Of all the wine growing regions of the world, only one looks quite like this. Portugal's Douro Valley, with its terraced, Mediterranean vineyards snaking around the crenellations of the meandering Douro river is one of the most stunning sites on the planet -- 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 image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their desktops. To... continue reading


Chikurin Karoyaka "Lightness" Junmai Ginjo, Okayama Prefecture

In many ways, sake production and winemaking couldn't be more different -- from the chemistry to the differences in how their industries are structured. One of the most striking differences usually stems from the role and value placed on their raw ingredients. With winemaking, much emphasis is put on the grapes and where they are grown, and wineries take many pains (and investments) to cultivate their own vineyards at the highest levels of quality they can. This, of course, gives rise to a turn of phrase that is both true and also horribly cliched at this point: our wine... continue reading


RAP Pink Out! Rose Tasting: May 12, 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 rosé, discerning palates are returning to pink wines in huge numbers. How... continue reading


Book Review: Notes on a Cellar-Book by George Saintsbury

Review by Tim Patterson. If you love to drink wine, and love a good read, you have to get ahold of this book. The dust jacket for this re-issue and annotation of English wineophile George Saintsbury's famous Notes on a Cellar-Book describes it--correctly--as "one of the greatest tributes to drink and drinking in the literature of wine." It's also the quirkiest, the most baffling and inscrutable, and the most flagrantly opinionated. Writing in the 1920s, Saintsbury (1845-1933) was more than an avid drinker and collector; he was a legendary professor of literature in the British Isles, the author of something... continue reading


Winemaking as Therapy: Japan's Autistic Winery

When I first started drinking wine, I had all sorts of romantic notions about what winemaking involved. I though of it as a mix of alchemy and poetry and all sorts of other things. Of course, once I learned a lot more about wine, such romantic notions were replaced by a sense of the back-breaking work, long hours, and exacting chemistry that is required to make a decent wine. But no matter what Ive learned about wine, I never would have thought of winemaking as therapeutic. Sure, the Italians have their prisoners make wine as some sort of rehabilitation, but... continue reading


Vinography Images: Leafing Out

Leafing Out As the weather warms, the vines begin to come out of their winter dormancy, and first buds, then leaves begin to unfurl. This embrace of leaf and crane fly in the morning sun is playing out throughout California's vineyards as Spring marches towards summer. -- 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 image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their... continue reading


Tartar Control Chardonnay: Wine Fights Cavities?

Once upon a time I thought that one of the topics that I would write about with regularity would be the health effects of drinking wine. I quickly found out that attempting to do this would be a full time occupation, as it seems that literally several times per week there are new "discoveries" about the benefits of a diet that includes regular wine drinking. For instance, this latest study about how red wine helps you think more clearly. As an aside, that article is a perfect example of how the reporting on such scientific studies is worse than horrible.... continue reading


Tasting the Wines of Mendocino

The wine regions of California are in various states of evolution when it comes to marketing themselves as a region. The best known areas, namely Napa and Sonoma, have been long organized and motivated to promote their regions as a whole, marketing their geographies like brands, with great success. This success derives from both their maturity as wine regions, as well as the concentration of wineries (and therefore funding for such initiatives) in each. Other wine regions of California continue to evolve, of course, and are doing their best to increase their visibility and identities in the minds of wine... continue reading


Hospice du Rhone Tasting: April 30 - May 2, Paso Robles, CA

Most wine tasting events focused on a specific style or type of wine that take place in California suffer from a single, but important deficit: they feature almost exclusively California wines. Go to a Pinot Noir event, and you get 95% California Pinots, etc. There are a few notable exceptions to this event, however, and one of my favorites is the annual fete for Rhone style wines called Hospice du Rhone. For those who have not had the pleasure of attending Hospice du Rhone, it is a unique treat for anyone who enjoys this kind of wine. Attendees spend a... continue reading


Vinography Images: Vineyard Behind the Oaks

Vineyard Behind the Oaks The rain that we've been having this week aside, the vineyards of Northern California wine country are starting to look a lot more like this as Spring marches forward. The grass grows green and wild between the rows, and the oaks have brilliant new leaves bursting out everywhere. -- 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 image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size... continue reading


The World's Best Kosher Wine?: Tasting The Covenant

The more stories I hear about how some wineries get started, the more I tend to think that by far the best way to start a wine brand is almost by accident. Ten years ago if you had told wine writer Jeff Morgan that he'd eventually be making the best (and most expensive) Kosher wine in the world, he would have probably fallen off his chair laughing. At that point, his exposure to Kosher wine consisted of the seven consecutive years he wrote (what he says was) essentially the same story on Kosher wine for the Wine Spectator. I'm not... continue reading


Book Review: Wine Politics by Tyler Coleman

Review by Tim Patterson. Here we have that rarity of rarities: a wine blogger who knows how to write a footnote. Wine Politics dates from the days when Tyler Colman--known to the wine blogosphere as Dr. Vino--was an academic political scientist teaching at NYU, before he succumbed entirely to the wiles of wine. The book is an expansion and retrofit from his dissertation in political economy at Northwestern University, and so when you encounter, in the course of a discussion about supply and demand and wine quality, references to economists Joseph Stiglitz and John Maynard Keynes, you quickly realize this... continue reading


1999 Washington State Cabernet: Perspectives and Tasting Notes

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend Taste Washington, the state's annual showcase of its wines. My ratings for the more than 200 Washington wines I tasted will take some time for me to transcribe and tabulate, and will be posted here on Vinography later this week. In the meantime, however, I thought I'd share my tasting notes from one the seminars I had the opportunity to attend during the first day of the festival, a look back at some top Washington Cabernets from 10 years ago, and a comparison with their recent 2006 vintage. Moderated by Bob... continue reading


Vinography Images: Where Wine Comes From

Where Wine Comes From While no doubt unremarkable, and even boring to those who make their living by growing wine grapes, I don't tire of seeing great pictures of the raw materials that go into my bottles. In this case, several clusters of grapes (what look to me like Pinot Noir) sheltering in the shade and reflected light of a hot day. -- 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 image. Mac users can... continue reading


New Cabernets from Napa

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an archaeologist or an exploratory marine biologist. I had dreams of discovering lost civilizations or new species in the oceans or jungles. I never quite managed to fulfill that dream, but I have managed to channel some of that passion into the discovery of new wines. In the past few years, there has been an explosion of new wineries in Napa. Other than the market forces that made making Napa wine pretty attractive, and therefore something people wanted to try, I'm not entirely sure what might be responsible for this serious... continue reading


Somali Pirates Take Ransom in Wine

Apparently the stepped-up patrols of U.S. warships off the coast of Somalia and increased vigilance on the part of ships' captains in the area have not been enough to prevent yet another freighter hijacking. According to CNN, early yesterday Somali pirates in several small boats were able to pull alongside and board the Matriarch, a Delaware-based freighter. Despite the known danger of operating in the coastal waters off of Africa's eastern coast south of the Suez Canal, the crew of the Matriarch were unarmed, and unable to offer any resistance to the pirates, who quickly brought the vessel to a... 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

2007 Morgan "Metallico" Chardonnay, Monterey Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival: May 15-17, Philo, CA 2005 François Blanchard "Violoncelite" Cabernet Franc, Touraine, France Vinography Images: Terraced Vineyards Chikurin Karoyaka "Lightness" Junmai Ginjo, Okayama Prefecture RAP Pink Out! Rose Tasting: May 12, San Francisco Book Review: Notes on a Cellar-Book by George Saintsbury Winemaking as Therapy: Japan's Autistic Winery Vinography Images: Leafing Out Tartar Control Chardonnay: Wine Fights Cavities?

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