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~ October 2009 Archives ~



2002 Ferrari "Perlé" Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine, Trentino, Italy

Who knows what it is, exactly, about sparkling wine that entices us so. But go to any wine region around the world, and you're bound to find someone making sparkling wine there (for better or worse). Most, even the best contenders, have a hard time holding a candle to the benchmarks of Champagne. There are a select few regions and producers outside of France, however, that manage to make sparkling wines that are truly exceptional. Two of them (at least) are in Italy, and this is the story of one of them. At the turn of the 20th century, Champagne... continue reading


Vinography Images: The Harvest

The Harvest This image needs little introduction. It captures the tireless work that is still going on in vineyards all over the Northern Hemisphere, but which will shortly cease. Many of the vintners I've talked to are finished with harvest, or plan to be by this weekend. And after an intense month or two, the folks who work in the fields at sunrise are able to sleep in a little later these days. This image was made in Sonoma County, and presumably, these are Chardonnay grapes. -- Alder Yarrow INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking on the image and... continue reading


San Diego Bay Wine & Food Fesival: November 18-22, San Diego

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we're spoiled by a proliferation of wine tasting events that afford the opportunity to taste a lot of different wines in one sitting. Elsewhere in the country, such events are more rare, and consequently, slightly bigger deals when they do happen. The San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival describes itself as the largest such event in Southern California. I'm not sure whether that's by attendance or by the number of wineries pouring, but either way it's a big event. More than 170 wine and spirits producers, along with more than 60 restaurants... continue reading


Tasting the Wines of Lodi

I suppose you might measure my enthusiasm (or insanity) for learning about wine by the glee with which I look forward to the opportunities to taste several hundred wines from a particular region, vintage, or variety. The public tastings that afford any wine lover the chance to taste in this fashion are the single most valuable way to educate the palate as well as to find out what's going on in a particular place or vintage. So when the chance came to hang out on Treasure Island for a few hours to taste the wines of Lodi a couple of... continue reading


Pinot Days 2009 Tasting: November 13-14, Chicago

While those of us on the West Coast are still lingering in the illusion of Autumn, the chill has descended upon the shores of Lake Michigan, and Chicagoans must be sure they're drinking red wine, both to warm themselves, and to steel themselves psychologically for the punishment of Winter. In November, however, there's one particular red wine that most folks in the Windy City should be drinking: Pinot Noir. 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... continue reading


Did You Hear That Sound? Wine Retailers Sigh in Relief

Wine retailers all across the country, and especially online today breathed a big sigh of relief. Probably more than a few of them are popping corks in celebration. Why? The Wall Street Journal reported today that Amazon.Com officially announced that it has canceled plans to sell wine online. The announcement more than a year ago that the online retail giant was moving into the wine business sent small shock waves through the wine retail industry both good and bad. Online retailers nervously fingered their Ethernet cables, and wineries optimistically looked forward to another channel to help them deal with a... continue reading


Drink the Wine You Like, No Matter What Scientists Say

I am often approached (in person and online) by budding wine lovers looking for guidance navigating what they see as the treacherous waters of wine and food pairing. That these folks feel the need to seek out expert guidance at all makes me a little sad. The fear, uncertainty and doubt that exists in the minds of the public when it comes to wine and food pairing remains for me one of the greatest travesties in the world of wine. Wine, in all its varieties and flavors, is sadly intimidating enough for most people. The fact that matching it with... continue reading


Oriel Wines: Current Releases

There are those who suggest that the moment that wine went wrong when it became more than just what a few family members could manage to carefully wring out of a few acres. Wine's romance and magic tends to be bound up in a picture of how wine gets made that increasingly does not accurately portray the reality of today. And with good reason. The world of wine is bigger and more complicated than the local villages it grew up in, and there is both room and reason for there to be many size, shapes, and strategies for wineries throughout... continue reading


The Best Wines of the Year: Tasting the Wine & Spirits Top 100

The difference between a good public wine tasting and a bad one 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 throw in a jazz quartet, and all you can eat oyster bar, a dessert bar, and wines that sometimes retail for hundreds of dollars, if you can find them, at all. All of which nicely describe the annual Wine and Spirits Top 100... continue reading


2007 Craggy Range "Zebra Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand

A relatively compact landmass, New Zealand nonetheless seems to possess every possible topography and climate. Tropical rainforests, glaciers, arid plains, high deserts, rich low country farmlands, coastal beaches, and alpine foothills, to name just a few. While the country may perhaps be known best for its cool-climate winegrowing, it should really come as no surprise that its winegrowing regions mirror the diversity of its larger geography. The fact that the country has a growing region with a climate like Bordeaux or Rioja, however, still remains somewhat under the radar for most wine lovers. The Hawke's Bay region of the Northern... continue reading


Requesting the Favor of Your Vote: the Foodbuzz Blog Awards

There was a time a year or two ago when it seemed like every month there was some other set of awards for bloggers to compete for. It's been quiet for a while now, but in conjunction with the upcoming (sold-out) Foodbuzz Bloggers Festival, they have launched the Foodbuzz Blog Awards. If you read this blog, then chances are you read a number of them, and so you may want to go check out the nominees. Vinography has been graciously nominated along with several other excellent wine blogs in two categories: Best Wine Blog, and Blogger You Would Most Like... continue reading


Musings on Vanity Wineries

There aren't a lot of pejorative terms in the world of wine, but I've heard the term "Vanity Winery" more than once used with derision. I was talking with someone just the other day about a winery that I happen to be a fan of in Napa and they asked me with some incredulity, "but isn't that just a vanity winery?" In this case, it most certainly wasn't, but I got to thinking about just what this person was getting at. The term vanity vinery as I understand it, refers to a winery started and owned by someone wealthy, whose... continue reading


Pinot on the River Festival 2009: October 23-25, Healdsburg, CA

Now is a wonderful, if slightly manic time to be wandering around wine country. Harvest is, for some, complete, and wines are bubbling and burbling their way through fermentations. For others, any day now they will be making mad dashes into the vineyards to get the fruit in before the first major rains. Either way, it's the time of year that wine country really becomes wine country. As the afternoon sun angles low, life gets pretty idyllic around Sonoma, and the timing is good to relax with friends and a nice glass of wine. Which is why, I suppose, around... continue reading


Blackbird Vineyards, Napa: Current Releases

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


Vinography Images: Golden Globe

Golden Globe I love how this little grape looks like its own little universe. Zoom in farther and it might resemble those fabulous images we get back from the Hubble telescope. Except instead of stars we'd have little colonies of yeast populating the vast curving singularity of the grape time continuum. -- 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... continue reading


Bond Estates, Napa: A Retrospective Tasting

Like the saying goes, if I had a nickel for every time I'd heard or read about a winery "sparing no expense" to get the "best possible fruit" to make the "best wine they could," I'd be a rich man. Winery owners and winemakers are like proud parents -- they see the best in their operations, and if they are aware of their flaws or shortcomings, when company is over, they put on their best face. After all, they're ultimately trying to sell wine. As someone who has spent a lot of time visiting wineries, and hearing the owners and... continue reading


Book Review: Resveratrol by Matilde Parente

Review by Tim Patterson. This is a short booklet, no frills, on a very focused topic, and will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the serious science behind the claims that resveratrol in red wine is a boon to your health. Definitely worth a read. This whole business started, of course, with the famous "60 Minutes" piece over a decade ago on the French Paradox, the mystery of how it could be that the folks who eat foie gras for snack food have fewer heart attacks than the rest of us who just eat McDonalds's grease on... continue reading


Wine Blogs are Now* Regulated by the FTC

This morning the Federal Trade Commission announced a new set of rules specifically targeting blogs like this one. In short, the Federal Government says that *as of December 1st, 2009, all sample products sent to bloggers must be disclosed in any coverage of those products. Here's the press release about the rules, here's the full text of the current rules, and here's the document that outlines the new changes that will be added to cover bloggers and other New Media. (PDF) While the execution of these rules was slightly flawed, leaving much ambiguity and unanswered questions, rules like this aren't... continue reading


Shipping Wine in the Heat: Speed and Styrofoam

I order most of my wine online. Hell, even when I'm buying it at a store in my city, I still order it online most of the time so I can have it ready when I go down and pick it up. But often, I'm buying more obscure wines that I find at random retailers out there on the Internet, or I'm just scouring for a deal, so quite often I'm in the position of having wine shipped to me. I'm a big believer in making sure that my wine gets treated right from the point it leaves the winery... continue reading


Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent

I've recently discovered someone that I think may be perhaps the greatest writer of tasting notes in the history of the English language. He's not a wine critic, and the notes aren't about wine. But Luca Turin can write about what he smells better than anyone I have ever seen. Luca Turin is many things, but perhaps most of all he is a scientist. But then again that may be too small a word for a man whose career has consisted of smashing down many of the walls that divide traditional scientific disciplines. Pioneer might better describe this man who... continue reading


Vinography Images: Heavenly Light

Heavenly Light When I saw this photo I felt like I instantly recognized the location. Not that I knew the specific vineyard, but merely that it reminded me of so many early mornings in the Russian River Valley, where the sun creeps above the fog and then penetrates it, gradually bringing light to the nooks and crannies of rustic dirt roads and stands of dew-laden trees. -- 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

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

2002 Ferrari "Perlé" Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine, Trentino, Italy Vinography Images: The Harvest San Diego Bay Wine & Food Fesival: November 18-22, San Diego Tasting the Wines of Lodi Pinot Days 2009 Tasting: November 13-14, Chicago Did You Hear That Sound? Wine Retailers Sigh in Relief Drink the Wine You Like, No Matter What Scientists Say Oriel Wines: Current Releases The Best Wines of the Year: Tasting the Wine & Spirits Top 100 2007 Craggy Range "Zebra Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Central Otago, New Zealand

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