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~ April 2010 Archives ~



Wine and the Internet in France

I've often decried the pig-headed idiocy of the French government in its persistent cowing to the lobbying interests of puritanical organizations like National Association for Prevention in Alcoholism and Addiction. Here in America, corporations have our government in their pockets. In France, it's the anti-alcohol zealots, who nearly succeeded in getting the government to ban web sites about wine from the internet (thankfully, some common sense prevailed). And people wonder why per capita wine consumption has plummeted by 50% in France over the past decade according to some sources? Consequently, I was quite intrigued to read a study that was... continue reading


Torbreck Wines, Barossa Valley, Australia: Current Releases

Whenever I hear the term Chartered Accountant, I can't help but think of Monty Python: Counselor: Well I now have the results here of the interviews and the aptitude tests that you took last week, and from them we've built up a pretty clear picture of the sort of person that you are. And I think I can say, without fear of contradiction, that the ideal job for you is chartered accountancy. Mr. Anchovy: But I've been a chartered accountant for the last twenty years! I want a new job. Something exciting that will let me live. Counselor: Well, do... continue reading


California Cabernet Society Tasting, May 3, San Francisco

They say "Cabernet is king" for a reason. Even with the surge in interest for Pinot Noir in this country, if I ever bring a bunch of wines to a party, the first wines emptied are almost always the Cabernet Sauvignons. People love them, and with good reason. When good the offer a wonderful combination of power, finesse and fruit. It also helps that they taste like cherries, a flavor which most Americans seem to love. Despite California being home to massive quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon, there aren't many opportunities for members of the public to taste a lot of... continue reading


The World's Most Popular Wine Bulletin Board Goes Away

Over the past few years I've partaken occasionally in an entertaining spectator sport: watching wine bulletin boards implode under the weight of their own inhumanity. The self-destruction of most topical online forums, I have come to believe, is only a matter of time. The physical remove of online messaging, coupled with our tendency towards knee jerk responses, mixed with the difficulty in reading emotions in plain text, doused with a liberal dose of pricks and know-it-alls spells disaster for most of forums over time. I liked checking in on the Mark Squires Bulletin Board, hosted by Robert Parker, from time... continue reading


Australia's Yarra Valley After the Fires

On my recent press trip to Australia, not 24 hours after getting off the plane I found myself winding down country roads amidst the pastoral rolling hills of the Yarra Valley. I arrived mid-harvest, to friendly, purple stained hands, and sighs of relief at a vintage that everyone felt was one of the best in several years. Not long after arriving in the valley, I spent an hour or two above it, getting the lay of the land from the air, and getting a chance to survey the damage from the deadly wildfires of 2009. The destruction wrought by the... continue reading


Georgian Wine on CNN

I love broadening my own wine horizons, and I'm always surprised at how narrowly most non-wine-focused media see the world of wine. So I was quite surprised to see a whole segment today on CNN all about Georgian wine. No not the Southern State. The country. The country of Georgia hosts one of the oldest winemaking cultures in the world, and is regarded by some as the birthplace of winemaking. Georgian wine, of which I've had a scant couple of bottles in my life, comes in many varieties, but they are most famous for their tradition of long macerated wines... continue reading


Celebrate South Africa Wine Tasting: May 3 & 6, Los Angeles and San Francisco

I went to South Africa about 2 years ago on a press junket and fell in love with the place. A stunning landscape, wonderful food, and amazing potential as a wine region left me with the desire to return. In particular, though, I was struck by the value for money that many of its wines offered, and the diversity of styles and grape varieties that seem to be grown successfully in its varied climates. If you're like me, traveling there without someone else footing the bill is prohibitively expensive, not to mention time consuming. But you needn't trek all the... continue reading


Rodney Strong and the Utter Stupidity of the FTC

I'm in a pissy mood. At first I thought it was because I ordered a Pinot Noir tonight at a restaurant that wasn't as nuanced as I had hoped. But the more I leveled with myself, the more I realized it was really because I got the following e-mail today that I've been gnashing my teeth over, so to speak, for a number of hours: Dear Alder, In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission, below is Rodney Strong's digital influencer agreement. To receive future releases of Rodney Strong Wine Estates wines for possible review, please review and reply YES to... continue reading


Austria Uncorked Tasting 2010: May 3rd San Francisco, May 5th New York

Importers, distributors, country trade commissions, and individual wine regions have long put on tastings for the trade and media to showcase wines in the hopes of increased sales and better media coverage. One of the most encouraging trends I see in the wine world continues to be the proliferation of such tastings available for the general public. Let's face it, even someone who has a bottle of wine with every meal only gets a couple hundred tastes of different wines every year. And most people tend to stick with the wines or grape varieties that they know. No matter... continue reading


Palmina Winery, Santa Barbara County: Current Releases

You know how some entrepreneurs seem to start businesses in their sleep? They create a company, make it profitable or sell it to someone, and then it seems like a week into their "vacation" they're starting another one, and another. The most successful of these seem to have the Midas touch, with each business more successful than the last, as if they can't help but make tons of money. There's an analogue to this type of personality in the wine world, and it is readily demonstrated by one Steve Clifton. Clifton is best known for his partnership in Brewer-Clifton wines... continue reading


Are You A Wine Lover? Then Call Your House Representative. Now.

I've been known to spout an opinion now and again about the Three Tier alcohol distribution system in this country, and the maddening array of ridiculous regulations that govern our ability to purchase alcohol. Mostly, however, I stay out of the fray because I'd rather write about, and I'm sure you'd rather read about, fantastic wines. But something happened yesterday that sent chills down my spine, and made it imperative that I broadcast to as many of you as possible the urgent need to call your Congressional Representative immediately. When you get one of their aides on the phone here's... continue reading


The Coming Carnage in the California Wine Industry

"The shitstorm is just beginning," he says, with a gravitas that makes it sound like the end of the world for the California wine industry. And while it may be the end of an era, rather than the end of the industry as we know it, my conversations with the man that I will refer to as Deep Tank leave me with a hollow feeling in the pit of my stomach. I wanted to get to the heart of what is really going on in the California wine industry as a result of our great recession, so I found the... continue reading


Knowing Something About Wine Doesn't Make You Special. Or Studly.

Fellow wine writer Eric Asimov thinks that we have a big problem in this country. His argument is somewhat more subtle, but hopefully he'll forgive me for boiling it down to the fact that it's a damn shame that people think they need to know something about wine in order to enjoy it. He posits that we have a culture that has turned wine into an intellectual object, imbued with status and special qualities that can only be perceived and appreciated by the knowledgeable. While Eric and I might disagree about the causes of and contributors to this malaise, I... continue reading


Hospice du Rhone 2010 Tasting: April 29 to May 1, Paso Robles

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, 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 laid-back... continue reading


D'Arenberg Winery, McLaren Vale, Australia: Current Releases

I can't remember when, exactly, I had my first Australian wine, but there's a good chance that it was made by D'Arenberg. Most certainly I first learned to recognize the distinct area of McLaren Vale courtesy of a bottle with a characteristic red slash through the label. I've drunk D'Arenberg wines for years, always appreciating their value for the money, and often recommending them to friends who are looking for crowd-pleasing wines that are relatively easy to find. So when I found myself in McLaren Vale a few weeks ago, I made sure to stop by the winery, have a... continue reading


Tom Wark's Guide to Why You Can't Buy the Wine You Want

I'm quite behind on my blog reading. I try to read a lot of wine blogs but it's been some time since I checked in with many of them. Which is why I'm only now getting to suggest that you go over and read a post entitled A Manifesto for Change in the Wine Industry on Tom Wark's blog Fermentation. That, and the fact that it took me two days to read the thing. It's a very, very long post. Many of you will likely burn out before the end. But if you can, I encourage you to persevere to... continue reading


What The World Needs: The Wine Purse

I love the Internets. Why? Because they bring me things like this: The above image was attached to a random Tweet from someone I've never heard of that I managed to snatch out of the ether when I saw the sentence "I'm totally getting me one of these here wine purses." To which I could only say, "AMEN!" What a concept! Sure, they could make the spout tuck conveniently away somewhere, and they've totally missed out on the buckle trend that's hot right now, but this is definitely a marvel of fashion and function nonetheless. And if it has some... continue reading


Two Days Left to Nominate for the 2010 Wine Blog Awards

If you're reading this, you most likely understand the point of a wine blog in the first place. You're out there (here? everywhere?) enjoying finding out about wine and exploring your passion in a new medium. Chances are, if you're like many readers, this is only one of several wine blogs that you read, or at least check in with from time to time. We wine bloggers thank you for your continued support, and in that spirit of support I would like to urge you to participate in the fourth annual Wine Blog Awards. Originally conceived and hosted by wine... continue reading


Giaconda Winery, Beechworth, Australia: Current Releases

I'm an armchair student of geology. There was a time when I thought I was going to be a mineralogist. But then I discovered photography and filmmaking -- and that was the end of my obsession with rocks. But I still have an appreciation, and an eye, for both small scale and large scale topography, which means that at least I tend to notice the geological features of the world around me. I know my synclines from my anticlines and can spot a terminal moraine, if you get my drift. That's why as I drove out of the Victorian Alps... continue reading


Tasting some of Australia's "First Families of Wine"

For all of its decidedly New World status when it comes to wine, Australia has some extraordinary winemaking heritage. Some of the very first settlers of Australia brought vine cuttings that they picked up in South Africa, one of the common waypoints on the long journey from Europe. Australian wine was sold commercially starting in the 1820's and a number of wineries still operating today began producing in the 1830's. Some of these wineries have been continuously family owned and operated since that time, and remarkably some of the original vines planted by these families continue to produce wine. While... continue reading


Masters of Wine to Begin Conferring Honorary Titles

I must confess, I fantasize about having a life with enough free time (and cash flow) to allow me to study for and complete the Master of Wine certification through the Institute for the Masters of Wine. Widely regarded as the most in-depth and difficult certification available in the field of wine, the coveted initials "MW" that come with the Master of Wine title are a key to instant credibility and respect when it comes to wine. But it turns out that some people may soon not have to go through the grueling series of exams in order to earn... 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

Wine and the Internet in France Torbreck Wines, Barossa Valley, Australia: Current Releases California Cabernet Society Tasting, May 3, San Francisco The World's Most Popular Wine Bulletin Board Goes Away Australia's Yarra Valley After the Fires Georgian Wine on CNN Celebrate South Africa Wine Tasting: May 3 & 6, Los Angeles and San Francisco Rodney Strong and the Utter Stupidity of the FTC Austria Uncorked Tasting 2010: May 3rd San Francisco, May 5th New York Palmina Winery, Santa Barbara County: Current Releases

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