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~ July 2009 Archives ~



Vinography Images: The Russian River

The Russian River Somewhere deep in the fog of this image, grapes are busy growing. This is the engine that makes the Pinot Noir of the Russian River Valley so wonderful. The river acts as a catheter, drawing the fog inland to cool the grapes and provide the large diurnal shifts in temperature necessary to grow world class Pinot and Chardonnay. -- 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... continue reading


Tasting Oregon Riesling...At the International Pinot Noir Celebration?

Adulterous. Maybe a little sneaky, and a tiny bit rebellious. There I was at the International Pinot Noir Celebration in Oregon -- a whole weekend dedicated to the glory of Oregon Pinot Noir and it's Burgundy forebears -- when someone in a trench coat pulled me aside and whispered, "Hey buddy, wanna taste some Riesling?" The thought, frankly, couldn't have been the furthest thing from my mind at that point. But when the shadowy figure suggested that this was a nearly comprehensive tasting of all the Rieslings made in the state of Oregon, give or take a few, my interest... continue reading


Notes from the Al Fresco Tasting at IPNC 2009

I go to a lot of wine tastings, and have come to really appreciate those that are done right. It may not be immediately apparent how easily a large public tasting can be screwed up, but all it takes is one small thing to make it a really miserable experience. For instance, a lack of spit buckets has turned more than one big tasting event into a nightmare. The spacing of the tables, the labeling of the stations, the number of wines available, the availability of water, the offering of food, the temperature of the building -- these can all... continue reading


Jancis Robinson Talks About Her Career in Wine at IPNC

As part of this weekend's International Pinot Noir Celebration, Jancis Robinson, Master of Ceremonies for the weekend, sat down in a (blessedly air conditioned) auditorium on the campus of Linfield College and spoke about her life and career in the world of wine to a group of interested (sweaty) attendees. Here's what she had to say, to the best of my transcription ability. "I'm so old and I have so much to say about my life in wine, there's a lot to talk about. I'll start with how I got into wine. I was raised in a village of 45... continue reading


Vinography Images: Leaf and Grapes

Leaf and Grapes I love the structure of leaves, and their translucent quality that reveals it in the sun. And of course, at certain times of the year, as the leaves change, we get to see their details amplified into glorious color. -- 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 set the... continue reading


Oregon's International Pinot Noir Celebration: Day One

Under the towering trees and across the sprawling green lawns of Linfield College in the little town of McMinnville, Oregon, several hundred people are plowing through the International Pinot Noir Celebration at the kind of pace you would expect for 80 degree days filled with Pinot Noir and good company. My day began with breakfast on the lawn and a welcome by Master of Ceremonies Jancis Robinson. Jancis recounted her memories of past IPNC attendances, going back to the early years of the festival, which was pioneering in its singular focus on Pinot Noir. Perhaps the most interesting moment in... continue reading


Wine Signs of the Times

I'm not sure why, but there has been a spate of interesting developments in the wine world in the past few weeks, all of which bear paying attention to by anyone interested in where the wine industry is going these days. I'm normally not one to simply rattle off lists news stories, but these are all so interesting that I can't pass up the opportunity to share them. We're Talking Mainstream The fact that Amazon.Com is getting in the wine business has been old news for a while, but two more giants of American retail just announced they were also... continue reading


SF Chefs. Food. Wine. Weekend: August 6-9, San Francisco

For a town as food and wine rich as San Francisco is, the city has few large public celebrations of its qualities as a world-class culinary destination. Most food and wine events in San Francisco tend to be single-event, large public tastings, where attendees can wander around, sampling food or wine from an array of purveyors and producers. Such events are great, but they're not the best showcase for the breadth and depth of the talent and resources that San Francisco has in either the food or wine department. Enter the "SF Chefs. Food. Wine" event coming up in about... continue reading


Vinography Images: The Sunlit Knoll

The Sunlit Knoll We tend to think of Napa and Sonoma as two distinct and separate wine regions, yet there is a place where the two collide, high in the Mayacamas mountains. This image was made in the rolling hillsides where vineyards slide quickly from one appellation to the other as you cross ridges and valleys. -- 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... continue reading


A Book for the Wine Lover That Hates to Read

A lot of wine books get published every year, and not many of them are very good, especially for wine lovers that would rather drink than read about wine. Even the well written ones fail to satisfy in one department -- they don't taste very good. Perhaps this is what the publisher Kraken Opus was thinking when they came up with the idea for their newest wine book: The Wine Opus. Either that or they have a sinister plot to give hernias to the world's richest wine lovers -- at least those that do their own lifting. Decanter magazine reports... continue reading


Arista Winery, Russian River Valley: Current Releases

Given the chance, I highly recommend anyone to make the investment of time and money to watch a winery evolve from its very first vintage. It doesn't take much, just buying a bottle or two every year from a brand new winery that you think shows some promise, and then drinking them. Such observation is a wonderful study in personality. You get to see, or perhaps more accurately, taste, how a winemaker settles into a winery and its vineyards, and how he or she begins to express whatever it is that can be expressed through the wines. I've had the... continue reading


Lest We Forget the Average Wine Drinker....

It's quite easy to be lulled into a false sense of reality in any number of ways in our lives. We extrapolate so much from our own experience that we tend to forget that most of us live in little bubbles, amidst an outside world that often bears little resemblance to ourselves. I very much appreciate, and in some cases seek out, opportunities to be reminded that the world of wine I live in is not the world of the average wine consumer. While I tend to buy most of my wine from the smaller, independent wine merchants that I... continue reading


2007 Point Concepcion "Celestina" Pinot Grigio, Santa Barbara County

I make it my habit to seek out and try a particular kind of wine that flies well under the radar of most wine lovers. Indeed, this kind of wine is all but unknown to most, yet some of my favorite wines in the world fall into this category -- a category that is not included in any book, classification, or encyclopedia of wines anywhere. These wines have something very special in common. Not the grapes used, nor the soils on which they are grown; not the country they come from, nor the climate in which they are grown. The... continue reading


Vinography Images: Morning Dew

Morning Dew It often comes as a surprise to most people that I happen to have a degree in fine art photography. I absolutely adore the medium, and this picture is a great example of why. We move through our daily existences that involve the processing of an incredible amount of visual data. We see beautiful details like this every few seconds of our waking lives. But only photography, with its ability to silently solidify our vision and force us to see again, can really harness this beauty for our appreciation. For as much as we see things like... continue reading


Domaine Tempier, Bandol, France: Current Releases

There are two types of people in the world, the joke goes: those who believe the world can be divided into two types of people and those who don't. Substitute wine for people and you might just as easily be charting those who firmly believe in the wall of tradition, history, and style that divides the so called Old World, from the New World. In principle, I object to a wine world so starkly divided, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't occasionally resort to the use of these labels and the generalizations they imply to make a... continue reading


Why You Still Can't Buy the Wine You Want

It's difficult, but if I concentrate hard, I can remember a time when you couldn't order stuff on the Internet. Of course, that was only about 12 years ago, but I'm part of Generation X and we have short attention spans. I certainly take for granted the fact that most everything I would want to buy for myself is available online, and that includes the wine I drink. I have the dual privilege of living in the state of California, as well as being fully plugged into the Internet (if I could get an implant, I would). This means that... continue reading


Lang & Reed Wine Company, Napa: Current Releases

All of us wine lovers inevitably discover, in the course of our explorations, our own secret wineries. These are the wines that we hold close to our chest, revealing them to those with whom we share only our choicest of morsels, which often include such things as parking spaces, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and great movies and books. As I'm in the business of sharing great wine with readers all the time, I can't really afford to hold much back. But I'd be lying if I told you I had reviewed or written about all my most favorite wineries around the world.... continue reading


Independence for the Modern Wine Drinker

Happy Independence Day from the United States, where we're celebrating the historical casting off of the "chains" in which our "colonial rulers" bound us. As the fireworks burst and crackle unseen through the fog here in San Francisco and I catch up on my reading from around the blogosphere, I've been musing on whether the average wine drinker has anything to celebrate in the way of independence these days. The first and most dear form of independence for me as you might imagine is the freedom from dependence on the Powers That Be for information, opinion, and insight when it... continue reading


Vinography Images: Highlights

Highlights Vineyards become the most dramatic at the end of the day, when, like mountain ridges, they can be caught by the last light of the sun. I love this image, both for the way the light rakes across the rows of vines, but also for the subtle depth of the landscape in the haze beyond the foreground. The willingness to wait for moments like this separates the average photographer from pros like Andy. -- 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... continue reading


2007 J. Rochioli "River Block" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

It took me a long time in my evolution as a wine lover to truly understand the amount of money and sweat and energy that goes into building a world class winery over decades, even centuries. Many wine lovers early in their education (and in their earning power) are often flummoxed by prices for wines that start to head north of $80 or $90 per bottle. Should they pursue their love of wine long enough to really learn (and see for themselves) what kind of work goes into some of the world's best vineyards, and to taste the wine that... continue reading


The Joy of Spätlese: Tasting the 2008 German and Austrian Vintage from Terry Theise

The wine world needs more people like Terry Theise, the man I call the Shakespeare of Terroir. It's so easy to get caught up in the stuffy, over-intellectualized world of wine geekery, where people endlessly debate the smallest aspects of winemaking or vintage ratings. All of us who spend enough time talking, thinking, and reading about wine get sucked into that world occasionally. But I find myself attracted to those who fall into that trap with the least regularity. As luck would have it, there are several simple cures for me readily at hand whenever I forget that wine is... 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

Vinography Images: The Russian River Tasting Oregon Riesling...At the International Pinot Noir Celebration? Notes from the Al Fresco Tasting at IPNC 2009 Jancis Robinson Talks About Her Career in Wine at IPNC Vinography Images: Leaf and Grapes Oregon's International Pinot Noir Celebration: Day One Wine Signs of the Times SF Chefs. Food. Wine. Weekend: August 6-9, San Francisco Vinography Images: The Sunlit Knoll A Book for the Wine Lover That Hates to Read

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