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~ December 2009 Archives ~



Menu For Hope Extended until 12/31!

There's still time to win some really fabulous prizes, as our annual Menu For Hope. charity raffle has been extended until the very last moment of 2009. For anyone that doesn't read Vinography regularly, and may have missed all the hoopla thus far, here's how it works. A $10 donation to the World Food Programme gets you a raffle ticket and a chance to win the item of your choice from one of hundreds of fantastic things around the world. I am the host of the wine related prizes, of course. Since I posted the original list, I've added several... continue reading


Corison Winery, Napa: Current Releases

It's hard to get attention in the world of wine. Many wineries and winemakers struggle their entire careers for recognition, both deservedly and some, not quite. In the days of big marketing budgets and cult wines that are only figuratively on everyone's lips (and literally on the lips of very few), it's easy to overlook wineries that have quietly been doing their thing for decades. I can't tell you how many times I've driven by the understated Corison Winery on Highway 29 without ever going in. The number must literally be in the hundreds. While I've still not actually stopped... continue reading


Yet Another Wine Column Casualty in the Newspaper Business

Wall Street Journal wine columnists John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter have quietly announced their departure. Their Christmas Day column, the 579th piece they have jointly penned together, will be their last at the Journal. This unannounced departure of the unique husband and wife wine journalists represents yet another brick falling from the crumbling wall of professional wine journalism. The word on the street suggests that while the Journal has no intention of discontinuing its wine coverage, this was a layoff along the lines of so many that have occurred in the last 18 months. In short, the Journal wants to... continue reading


Veramonte Winery, Chile: Current Releases

It's hard to believe that in the early 1990's less than 100 acres of vineyards were planted in Chile's Casablanca valley. In little more than two decades, this region of Chile has surged in growth and popularity, and is currently producing excellent wines that generally represent excellent values on the world market. The region is currently home to more than 10,000 acres of vineyards. Back when the grape acreage was still in the triple digits Agustin Huneeus decided that the Casablanca valley was one of Chile's most promising wine regions, and that he needed to start making wine there. Not... continue reading


Two More Days to Win Fabulous Wine Prizes

We're headed into the final stretches of the holiday craziness. If you're like me, you've already started to consume wine in rough proportion to the number of presents left to wrap, and you find yourself wishing that everyone else around you would start drinking, too. But even as the stress of the holidays mount to a fever pitch, we need to make sure that we keep it all in perspective. We're all incredibly lucky to be sitting under a roof somewhere with electricity and heat and clean water and food in the fridge. There are those whose survival, let alone... continue reading


Pinot Days Southern California: January 17, Los Angeles

Given the dramatic increase in popularity of Pinot Noir in America in the past few years, it should come as no surprise that Pinot Days, a festival dedicated to the grape, would be so successful. It is surprising, however, that this festival has never been held in Los Angeles until now. For some reason I don't fully understand Southern California often gets short shrift when it comes to big wine festivals. But no longer. After successful runs in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York, Pinot Days is coming to LA. I know it's hard to think about what you're going... continue reading


How to AVOID Selling Wine in Pennsylvania

So if you had a bunch of grocery stores, and those grocery stores sold wine, but you didn't really want people to buy any wine, what would you do? One of the things you might consider doing would be to lock all the wine away in cabinets, so that people couldn't touch the bottles. You'd want to make sure folks couldn't, say, turn the bottles around and read the back label or anything. You might force people to peer through the front door of this cabinet to try to read the name of the wine they think they might want... continue reading


Olson Ogden Winery, Sonoma: Current Releases

I take a special interest in a particular class of winery. I call them estateless wineries, but they are wineries that have no permanent physical presence. These types of operations have no vineyards, own no buildings, and sometimes don't even own any equipment. Such wineries are most often the result of someone taking small steps towards their personal dream of being in the wine business, and are often sources for great wines at reasonable prices. Olson & Ogden winery is a perfect example of such a label. Proprietor John Ogden worked in the high tech corporate world for most of... continue reading


Odfjell Winery, Chile: Current Releases

Many of the people I spoke to in Chile were quite proud of the diverse European immigrant populations that have seeded the country in previous centuries, especially those that brought with them skills, knowledge, and entrepreneurship. Even more recent immigrants, like Norwegian Dan Odfjell are welcomed, especially when they come bearing gifts. Odfjell brought two things to Chile with him. The first was his shipping empire which quickly established itself in Chile's busy ports. The second and perhaps more romantic gift, was the Fjord Horse. While you won't exactly find these horses running around all over Chile, you certainly can't... continue reading


Menu For Hope VI: Win Some Wine (and Other Great Stuff)

How would you like to spend a week in Tuscany at a private villa, drinking aged Brunello di Montalcino, all the while knowing that you're enjoying the experience because you helped poor farmers in Africa? That, my friends, is the beauty of the charity event called A Menu For Hope. This is the sixth year of A Menu For Hope, the grassroots charity event for wine and food bloggers that started in response to the horrible Tsunamis of 2004. Last year's event raised more than $60,000 for the UN's World Food Programme, which set up a special arrangement so that... continue reading


So You Wanna Be a Wine Writer?

The wine world is made of dreams. Some people dream about drinking wine. Some people dream about making wine. And others dream of writing about it. For all those that have ever toyed with the idea of writing about wine, and for those who have dabbled in it, I have a small anecdote to share from my college days. I was taking a fiction writing class one Spring, and our teacher managed to convince a good friend of hers to substitute teach a bunch of us eager, bright-eyed college students for one class session. The first thing Kurt Vonnegut said... continue reading


What I've Learned about Chilean Wine

I thought about titling this post with a bit more gravitas -- something like "New Trends in the Chilean Wine Industry" -- but I didn't feel like I could pull it off. I spent a week there and talked with a lot of people, but can't speak with enough authority on the subject to title this post like it is some sort of whitepaper. On the other hand, I learned a lot about what is going on in Chile, where the wine industry is headed, and some of the issues and trends that are currently top-of-mind for Chilean winemakers, winery... continue reading


Altair Winery, Chile: Current Releases

Hillside vineyards are not the norm in Chile. The country has a plethora of alluvial valley floors that are always the first choice for planting because they're the lowest effort places to stick vineyards, and the cheapest to farm. During my visit there last week, hillside vineyards became an easy indication of both serious ambitions when it came to winemaking, as well as the financial wherewithal to back them up. Altair Winery has a lot of both. The winery was initially a joint venture between Laurent Dassault, owner of Chateau Dassault and Chateau La Fleur in Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, and... continue reading


The Best Wines from Chile?: Tasting Notes for Wines over $40

As some of you know, I spent the last week traveling around Chile trying to get a sense of the country and its wines. It was my first trip there and I was quite excited to taste a lot of wine -- education by immersion, so to speak. With that in mind, my hosts for the week, the Wines of Chile organization, pulled together a tasting of what in Chile they refer to as "Icon Wines." These wines are usually the top wines in many wineries' portfolios, in some cases they are the only wines, and they generally retail for... continue reading


Vinography Images: The Green Leaf

The Green Leaf You can tell a lot about a grape vine from its leaves. Among other things, according to the science of ampelography, you can often tell what grape variety it is, especially if you get to see what a bunch of grapes looks like as well. Most species have a distinctly shaped leaf and cluster. The color of the leaf will also tell you things about the nutritional state of the grapevine, with dark green indicating well hydrated, well nitrated vines, and lighter green indicating less nutrients (which is actually sometimes the desired state). I, unfortunately, don't... continue reading


Casa Marín Winery, Chile: Current Releases

For me, great wines always have a story behind them. It can be the story of the people who made it, the place it comes from, the story of how the grapes became the final wine, or a thousand other things that make a wine more than just the flavors and aromas in the glass. The best wines are overflowing with such stories, and discovering them for myself is one of the greatest joys of being a wine lover. In the far reaches of Chile's San Antonio valley, on a road that winds its way over the rolling hills towards... 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

Menu For Hope Extended until 12/31! Corison Winery, Napa: Current Releases Yet Another Wine Column Casualty in the Newspaper Business Veramonte Winery, Chile: Current Releases Two More Days to Win Fabulous Wine Prizes Pinot Days Southern California: January 17, Los Angeles How to AVOID Selling Wine in Pennsylvania Olson Ogden Winery, Sonoma: Current Releases Odfjell Winery, Chile: Current Releases Menu For Hope VI: Win Some Wine (and Other Great Stuff)

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