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~ May 2010 Archives ~



Fun With Wine Consumption Statistics

I was poking around in some of the statistics offered by the Wine Institute earlier today looking for global per capita wine consumption. I found the numbers for 2004-2008 and was quite surprised by some of them. If I were I an investigative journalist with a lot of time on my hands, or a behavioral economist with a fast command of world trade facts, I might be able to answer the question "why?" for each of the following. But I've got other things to do, so I'll just ply you with trivia and hope you win $50 from a friend... continue reading


The Cultural Origins of Wine Blogging?

Yesterday I wrote a post in which I remarked on the relative few numbers of wine bloggers in the UK compared with the US (even considering the differences in size of our two nations). One of the comments left by a reader got me thinking a lot about the differences in wine culture between our two nations, and the degree to which those differences might be responsible for the much lower ratio of wine bloggers to wine drinkers in the UK. Moreover, there are a lot of countries in Europe that also have far fewer wine bloggers than might be... continue reading


Where Are All the UK Wine Bloggers?

One of the longest running UK wine bloggers, Andrew Barrow recently wrote an article on his blog Spittoon, entitled The Definitive List of UK Wine Bloggers. My first reaction after reading it was: that's it ?!?!? His list of every single wine blog published in the UK was merely 28 URLs long, and one of those was actually written by someone who lives in Spain. Granted, this list did not include blogs by wine retailers or by UK wineries, but even so, it is remarkably, even dumbfoundingly brief. Another reader of Andrew's blog chimed in suggesting the list was more... continue reading


2007 J Vineyards "Barrel 16" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

There was a time (think: late Seventies, early Eighties) when a lot of people would have put money on California being the next Champagne. It seems quite improbable now given California's reputation for Cabernet and the relative paucity of sparkling wine producers in the state. Yet there are many California winery names that have become synonymous with sparking wine (Schramsberg, Iron Horse, Korbel, Chandon, and more) and which have been producing sparkling wines for decades, and continue to do so. This is not the story of one of those brands. This is the story of the next generation. In the... continue reading


The Great Wine Unraveling

I've never been one of those folks who decries the globalization of wine. I find the Mondovino crowd to be alarmist and polemical in their approach to wine, more concerned with their ideology than with the facts. However, there has always been an aspect of their argument about which I have shared some concern: the seeming inexorable consolidation of wine companies into large corporate behemoths. I've watched many brands be swallowed up and come out much worse for wear after going through the digestive tract of these beasts, and I've watched these massive companies lumber about in the industry crashing... continue reading


Golden Glass Wine Tasting: June 12, San Francisco

Once upon a time, the Golden Glass tasting was about as close as you could get to a secret "wine insiders" tasting. Historically under-promoted, and generally not well attended, this tasting began as a smaller Italian focused "slow wine" tasting put on by Slow Food USA. Now in its 7th year, The Golden Glass continues to be co-produced by Slow Food (who recently pulled out of their relationship with the Gambero Rosso tasting), and now focuses other regions in addition to Italy, with a decidedly sustainable, regional bent. Over 100 different wine producers are supposed to attend and pour their... continue reading


Cast Your Vote for the 2010 Wine Blog Awards

The finalists for the 2010 Wine Blog Awards have been announced and voting is now open to members of the public. That means you. If you're reading this wine blog, then chances are you probably read one or two others, and therefore you know better than anyone what passes for compelling content when it comes to wine blogs. Which is why you should exercise your vote and support the folks that spend their time writing about wine for free so you can enjoy it. These awards aren't just a chance for you to make your opinion heard, they're also a... continue reading


1980 Soldera Case Basse Brunello Riserva, Montalcino, Italy

When I was a kid, I read a lot of science fiction. On long plane flights I still occasionally pick up a book to read, and I still get a thrill from letting my imagination explore the fantastic possibilities of the future. Perhaps it's a bit of a stretch as an analogy, but I get that same sort of thrill from exploring the world of wine. Every new wine offers an opportunity to discover and learn something new -- to recalibrate my own sense of possibility. On occasion, in my curiosity-driven stumbling through the world of wine, I come across... continue reading


Some Thoughts on Australian Wine

Anyone who reads Vinography with any regularity would know that I spent some time in Australia recently on a press trip. I got the chance to visit a lot of wineries in both Victoria and South Australia, in the regions of Yarra Valley, King Valley, Beechworth, Heathcote, Adelaide HIlls, McLaren Vale, and the Barossa Valley. My two week trip by no means made me an expert on Australian wine, but it did significantly increase my understanding of what Australian wine is all about, what's going on in the country, and it certainly expanded my horizons when it comes to Australian... continue reading


Bordeaux. The Anti-Millenial Wine?

Early in my stages of self-education on wine, I often said to myself, "I really don't see what all the fuss is about with Bordeaux." I had tasted quite a few lesser growths, and found them mostly unapproachable: tannic, tight, too mineral, or simply bad. Over the years, I gradually had a chance to taste both aged Bordeaux as well as some of the First Growths, and I began to understand the mystique. But to be perfectly honest, I've never had a Bordeaux that blew my socks off the way that some Burgundies have. I've yet to drink Petrus, however,... continue reading


Noon Winery, McLaren Vale, Australia: Current Releases

The term garagiste, originally coined as a pejorative referring to the small wineries in Bordeaux's Right Bank who were making more modern style wines from purchased grapes, has been greatly overused to the point of cliché. Nonetheless, I consider it a very, very good sign when I discover the people that actually are making good wines in their garage. That's why on my recent trip to Australia as I trundled up the driveway of Noon Winery in McLaren Vale past old, gnarled vines of Grenache and into the garage that holds the ancient wooden fermenting vats and the basket press... continue reading


2006 Marc Kreydenweiss "Clos Rebberg" Pinot Gris, Alsace, France

The wines of Alsace are some of the most unique and distinctive in the world. They are also some of my favorites, not only because they are delicious, but also because they are made by some of France's most individualistic and headstrong vintners. Alsace has long been a place apart, both from France and Germany, each of which have laid claim over the valleys and hills that lie west of the Rhine river which currently demarcates the border between the two nations. It's easy to characterize the region as a smooth and quirky blend between the two countries, but such... continue reading


Tempranillo Advocates and Producers Tasting: June 5, San Francisco

Sometimes I feel like California vintners don't experiment enough. While they may be trying a wide range of rootstocks, clonal material, yeast strains, trellising methods, barrel regimes, and the various other minor, yet important variables that can make for higher quality wine, far too few wineries are trying to grow different grape varieties from around the world. That's a generalization, of course, and there are plenty of exceptions, but by and large most California winemakers stick to the tried and true: white and red Bordeaux varieties, Syrah, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir, with occasional branching out into Grenache, Viognier, or... continue reading


Does Machine Harvesting Lower Wine Quality?

As some of you know, I recently spent some time on a press trip down in Australia. I'm still working through my notes from that trip, but one of the main points of interest for me were the vineyard practices of many of the producers, in particular with regards to harvesting. Many wineries, of various sizes, opted to do mechanical harvesting, rather than harvest by hand. "Opted" may be slightly inaccurate, however, as the choice is less one of philosophy rather than necessity for most. While the United States, Europe, South Africa and other major wine regions have the benefit... continue reading


2007 Monastero Suore Cistercensi "Coenobium Rusticum" Bianco, Lazio, Italy

We owe much of modern viticulture and winemaking traditions to the church in some form or another. Even before the last supper's famous entreaty that gave rise to the concept of Christian transubstantiation, wine has been a sacred fluid that was grown and made by various religious orders who had the land, the time, and the knowledge to make it happen. In the past, most such organizations were the exclusive domain of men, and consequently so were the wines. Even as various religious orders for women have proliferated, it seems that most of those that make wine (or other... continue reading


Ransoming the World's Most Famous Vineyard

They say the best way to make a small fortune in the wine business is to start with a large one. Actually there are several ways to make a small fortune in the wine business, but today we must add one more: blackmailing Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. As reported in the UK's Telegraph newspaper, apparently the owner of Romanée-Conti, Aubert de Villaine received at least two threatening letters that promised to poison his vineyards unless he forked over the equivalent of roughly 1.2 million dollars. Apparently the letters, which revealed a detailed knowledge of the vineyards, suggested that two vines... continue reading


Jasper Hill Winery, Heathcote, Australia: Current Releases

The best wines in the world all share at least one thing in common, and that is a winemaker who brings a unique combination of both vision and passion to their work. At the age of thirty, winemaker Ron Laughton found himself managing the southern hemisphere's largest cheese factory, and with a total absence of passion for what he was doing. Having grown up on a farm and gotten degrees in chemistry and food science, Laughton worked all over the world for Kraft Foods before being headhunted by an Australian dairy company. His career path seemed as assured as it... continue reading


2004 St. Hallett Semillon, Barossa Valley, Australia

I'll tell you right off the bat that if you live in the United States, you can't buy this wine. It's currently not imported. Those of you who live in Europe or Asia may be able to get your hands on it, but not much leaves Australia. What is the point, you may ask, of reviewing a wine that most will not be able to buy? Firstly, the wine is delicious, and worthy of a review on its own merits alone. But more importantly, the wine represents a very under-appreciated Australian contribution to the world of wine: old vine Semillon.... continue reading


2010 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival: May 14-16, Philo, CA

California Pinot Noir lovers take note. Wine lovers with a free weekend, listen up. It's Spring, and the wine events are coming fast and furious. It seems like every week there's a new wine tasting to go to. But some are more worth paying attention to than others. Anderson Valley is known for two things in California, and not coincidentally, it has more or less two major wine tasting events per year. The first, the International Alsace Varietals festival took place a few months ago, and I was sadly prevented from attending. The second is the annual Pinot Noir Festival,... 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

Fun With Wine Consumption Statistics The Cultural Origins of Wine Blogging? Where Are All the UK Wine Bloggers? 2007 J Vineyards "Barrel 16" Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley The Great Wine Unraveling Golden Glass Wine Tasting: June 12, San Francisco Cast Your Vote for the 2010 Wine Blog Awards 1980 Soldera Case Basse Brunello Riserva, Montalcino, Italy Some Thoughts on Australian Wine Bordeaux. The Anti-Millenial Wine?

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