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~ February 2010 Archives ~



2007 TAZ Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County

The good $15 Pinot Noir is the unicorn of the California wine industry. A mythic beast, highly sought after, no one is actually sure whether it exists or not. I'm always on the lookout myself, as it's one of the most frequent questions I get asked when people find out I review wines. Consequently, whenever I do come across something that comes close, I feel almost obligated to share the find. It's been some time since I visited the wines made under the brand TAZ, but a couple of bottles arrived recently and went into the tasting lineup and they... continue reading


2005 Chateau-Grillet Vin Blanc, Rhone Valley, France

With just a quick glance at the bottle, you might think to yourself, "Oh, it's just some random little white wine from somewhere in France." After all, it's just a Vin Blanc with some unfamiliar name on it. But look a little closer, and you might start to get the idea that this isn't just any wine. For starters, the bottle is somewhat unusual, resembling something you might see in Germany or Austria. Indeed, it would be easy to mistake this wine as coming from the Alsace region of France for that reason. A slightly more studied glance at the... continue reading


Napa's Best Cabernet: Tasting at Premiere Napa Valley 2010

One of my favorite events each year involves the opportunity to sample some of the best wines that Napa produces in a given vintage. At Premiere Napa Valley, an auction that serves as the world's most expensive "bake sale" to support the efforts of the non-profit Napa Valley Vintners Association, journalists like me get a chance to sneak a taste of hundreds of unique wines that are purchased by the nation's top wine retailers at staggeringly high prices. This year, as every year, 200 member wineries each crafted a unique auction lot of wine that in most cases represents the... continue reading


Glass Wine Bottles Strike Back. In the Wrong Direction.

It's not every day I get the opportunity to display my inner cynic. But I'm still cackling at the little bit of fear mixed with preemptive aggression that manifested today in the form of a web site called Wine Loves Glass. Those who spend time in wine circles know a lot about the "threat" to posed to natural cork producers by the proliferation of alternative closures. In the face of shrinking market share and demand for their product (read: threat to their income streams) they've been striking back with a multi-pronged offensive, covering every base from carbon footprints to endangered... continue reading


Highlights From the 2010 Symposium for Professional Wine Writers

I spent most of the week playing hooky from my day job and pretending that the only thing that mattered to me was writing about wine. It was a lot of fun. Every one of the five years that I've attended the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers has been uniquely interesting, largely due to the group of attendees that joins us every time. In past years I've been able to blog a bit more in the course of the event, but this year I found myself using spare time to catch up on other things, so here are some of... continue reading


Vinography Images: Wine Country Sunset

Wine Country Sunset Great sunsets can be found anywhere, but this particular one happens to be from Sonoma County's wine country. Just below the silhouettes of the trees, rows of grape vines lie in shadow. -- 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 image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users... continue reading


What Wine Writers Talk About

Those of you who also follow my twitter feed (see the little tab on the left hand side of my home page) will know that I'm spending the week at the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers. This is my fifth year attending the Symposium, and my fourth year as a speaker. Tomorrow I lead a panel discussion featuring Steve Heimoff, Patrick Comiskey, Doug Cook, and Joe Roberts about the role of New Media in wine writing. But for the past two days I've been experiencing the symposium as a participant, which means hanging out with a lot of people who... continue reading


2007 MacRostie "Wildcat Mountain Vineyard" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast

There are two worlds of California Chardonnay drinkers in this country. There are those who continue to order their favorite white wine whenever they go out to dinner, and are collectively responsible for making California Chardonnay the most consumed wine variety in the country each year. And then there are those who consider themselves wine lovers, critics, and geeks, and the consensus in recent years seems to be that there are few California Chardonnays worth paying attention to. Put more bluntly, it's getting easier and easier to find someone who hates California Chardonnay these days. I've read several major wine... continue reading


2007 Cornelissen MunJebel 4 Bianco, Etna, Sicily

Many of the world's greatest wines are also the most unlikely. Unlikely because most sane, rational, educated, and professional winemakers wouldn't be caught dead making wine in some of the strange ways and places that yield the truly exciting. It takes a strong vision, or as some might suggest, a special breed of insanity to break all the rules of modern winemaking and winegrowing, but those who break such rules often follow their passions across the border without a moment's thought to the uncharted territory they are exploring. High on the slopes of one of the world's most active volcanoes,... continue reading


Vinography Images: Old Souls

Old Souls I love the individual personalities of older vines like these head-pruned vines that are grown without any trellising or training. These young green shoots will eventually become wild mops of growth as the Spring progresses, like hundreds of green fountains sprouting from the dry soil. Vines like these often receive no irrigation other than what may fall from the sky,but from their gnarled roots and serpentine canes of green, they often yield the most complex of fruit. -- Alder Yarrow INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target... continue reading


Champagne, Advertising, and the Problem with Principles

They follow me everywhere I go. On the commute to work, in my favorite magazines, even on the web sites that I frequent. Everywhere I turn I'm being exhorted, admonished, and educated to umask the truth. For whatever reason, I'm clearly the target demographic for what is obviously a massive advertising campaign by the Champagne Bureau, a U.S.-based organization whose charter is to "educate American consumers about the uniqueness of the wines of Champagne and expand their understanding of the need to protect the Champagne name in the United States." These ads have become so prevalent in my daily life... continue reading


2010 Anderson Valley Alsace Festival: February 20-21, Boonville, CA

With all the fanfare surrounding Cabernet and Pinot Noir coupled with the obsession this country seems to have with Chardonnay, it's sometimes hard for people to remember that California produces a lot of other different kinds of wine. It's even harder, it seems, to get people to drink some of it. Enter what may be the most unique wine festival in California and perhaps the country. Some of the most under-appreciated and least consumed wines in the state are those made from grapes like Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Riesling. There aren't a lot of places in California where... continue reading


Scottish Wine: Crimes and Misdemeanors

Not ordinarily known for their wine or wine drinking habits, the Scots have recently been making news in the world of wine. Who knew that one of the most popular beverages among Scottish criminals was wine? Specifically, Buckfast Tonic Wine, a (rather unholy, if you ask me) concoction of wine, sugar, caffeine, and other additives that make it a bit more like Red Bull than wine. Often called "Wreck the Hoose Juice," according to to the New York Times: "In a survey last year of 172 prisoners at a young offenders' institution, 43 percent of the 117 people who drank... continue reading


Video of the Social Media Panel from Vino2010

My real reason for attending the Vino2010 conference in New York this week was that I was asked (and paid) to be on a panel discussion about the impact and meaning of social media for the wine industry. A number of you have asked about it, and I'm happy to offer the (somewhat low quality) video that captures our session. Unfortunately you can't see (or hear at various points) some of the questions that were asked, but you can certainly get the idea of what we discussed. Please note that it takes a few minutes for the session to get... continue reading


The Future of Luxury Wine

I spent the latter part of this week at the Vino2010 conference in New York. The largest Italian wine event held outside of Italy, the conference was a combination of major trade-show-style tastings, smaller focused tastings, and panel discussions. One of the panels I attended was entitled "The Future of Luxury Wine" and involved a good panel discussion on the outlook for wines priced over $30 in the next few years. Moderated by Karen MacNeil, wine educator and author of The Wine Bible, America's best-selling wine book, the panel included the following speakers: Barbara Insel, President and CEO of Stonebridge... continue reading


Vinography Images: Patterns

Patterns Vineyards aren't easy things to photograph. They sprawl and spread all over everywhere, and don't exactly stay confined in the frame of a photograph well, not to mention their tendency to seem monotonous in their rows. I like this image not only for the compression of space that turns the vines into patterns, but also because in the midst of the regular geometry, you can see each individual vine has its own personality -- 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


Italian Wine Week: Vino 2010

I'm in New York for the first time in a long while, taking a look at the Vino2010 conference, also known as Italian Wine Week. Mostly I'm here because I'll be speaking on a panel (tomorrow) Thursday morning entitled: "Virtual Vino, Millennials and Social Media DECANTED!" The panel is moderated by Anthony Dias Blue, and will have me, Doug Cook of AbleGrape.Com, Susannah Gold of Avvinare.Com, Susanna Crociani of Az. Ag. Crociani in Tuscany, Steve Raye of the Brand Action Team marketing agency, and possibly (unconfirmed) tweeting sommelier and wine educator Kevin Zraly. The conference is making a big deal... continue reading


The Best Zinfandels in California: Tasting at ZAP 2010

With a line snaking halfway around the parking lot by 2:00 PM, it might be easy to say that Zinfandel might be one of the more recession proof wines in California. The fact that very good bottles can be had for about $20 certainly means that there's probably a lot more Zinfandel being consumed these days than, say, Meritage blends. Once inside the annual Zinfandel Advocates and Producers Festival it was clear, however, that far fewer wineries were pouring this year than in the past, though the crowd was no less lively (I didn't stay until 5 PM when people... 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

2007 TAZ Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara County 2005 Chateau-Grillet Vin Blanc, Rhone Valley, France Napa's Best Cabernet: Tasting at Premiere Napa Valley 2010 Glass Wine Bottles Strike Back. In the Wrong Direction. Highlights From the 2010 Symposium for Professional Wine Writers Vinography Images: Wine Country Sunset What Wine Writers Talk About 2007 MacRostie "Wildcat Mountain Vineyard" Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast 2007 Cornelissen MunJebel 4 Bianco, Etna, Sicily Vinography Images: Old Souls

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