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~ July 2010 Archives ~



Samuel's Gorge Winery, Mclaren Vale, Australia: Current Releases

I visited McLaren Vale in March of this year, to get a deeper sense of the place and the wines. I had a great time, but the whole while I was there, I didn't really get the sense that I was in a valley. McLaren Vale is indeed a valley, but barely, and is a sort of lumpy one, defined more by the fact that there are some areas of uplift to the North and South, than a real sense of "valleyness" if you know what I mean. But in the heart of McLaren vale, there is a real valley.... continue reading


18th Annual Monterey Winery Association Tasting: August 7, Monterey, CA

One of my personal goals includes constantly educating my palate. I do this to both learn to be a better taster and to know more about wine, but also because, like every other wine lover, I'm out to find the next greatest wine to drink. I try to encourage my readers to do the same thing, and the main way I do that is to push them to go to large public tasting events, where they can try dozens and dozens of wines side by side. For me, there is a sharp dividing line in my past. The time before... continue reading


2008 Ridge Vineyards "Three Valleys" Red Blend, Sonoma County

If there's one thing about a winery that is likely to earn my immediate respect it is what you might describe as consistency of vision. Some of my favorite wineries not only make great wine, they have been making great wine in much the same way for decades, according to a deeply held philosophy that pervades everything they do. This sort of conviction, married to excellent winemaking, is not as common in California as you might think, but there are few who could argue against Ridge Vineyards as one of the finest examples of such a fusion of skill and... continue reading


Napa Wine Library Tasting: August 15, Napa

Serious wine lovers in the San Francisco Bay area get several opportunities each year to indulge their passions for wine. Large, themed tastings like the ZAP Zinfandel Festival or the recent Pinot Days are great opportunities to get a sense of a certain varietal and the quality of the recent vintage in California and events like the upcoming Family Winemakers are an opportunity to taste wines from smaller producers. It is quite rare, however, despite the nearness of the appellation and the saturation of wine in the Bay Area, for consumers to get the opportunity to get an in-depth or... continue reading


2008 Bodegas Colomé Estate Malbec, Salta, Argentina

Once upon a time, I went to Argentina looking for the good wine. Frankly I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about when it came to Malbec. Most of the ones I had tasted here in the US were mediocre. Only a select few rose to the level of excellent, and none to the level of amazing. Yet there was a long stream of proclamations from various people (you know, the ones whose opinions "count" when it comes to such things) that Argentinean Malbec was the next greatest thing. Scratching my head, I traipsed off to Argentina looking for... continue reading


This Wine Designed by the Government Just For You

I'm one of the last people you'll see jumping on the Mondovino bandwagon to bemoan the homogeneity of the world's wines thanks to the evils of globalization. But nonetheless a recent announcement from New Zealand, definitely has me a little queasy. You can read the story yourself, but here's the gist of it: the New Zealand government is spending $12 million dollars to improve and bolster the market performance of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Not a bad idea on its face, right? Nice to see a government backing its wine industry and helping it continue to succeed in the marketplace.... continue reading


The World's Oldest Drinkable Champagne

You can file this story under Stuff I Want For Christmas. According to the BBC, a group of divers off the coast of Finland recently discovered a shipwreck they believe dates back to the late 18th Century. In the remains of the ship they found several intact glass bottles of wine, their contents still well preserved. So what did they do? What any self-respecting wine lover would do.They drank some. Believed to be Veuve Clicquot Champagne dating from between 1782 and 1788, the wine "had a very sweet taste, you could taste oak and it had a very strong tobacco... continue reading


The Threat to Your Wine Independence

In the last two weeks I've celebrated both Independence Day and Bastille Day. How, you may ask? Mostly by drinking a lot of wine. But that's beside the point. Around this time of year, I find myself thinking about the great liberties I enjoy as a wine lover in California and in the United States. In the process I inevitably consider the plight of those poor souls who have the unfortunate luck to have become wine lovers in states where their access to good booze comes only at the pleasure of a cartel made up of puritanical lawmakers and the... continue reading


Dom Pérignon, Champagne, France: Some Current Releases

Where to begin with Dom Pérignon? It is a brand, a wine, and a historical figure welded into an idea that has transcended itself to become an icon of culture. Pretty much every wine drinker has heard of Dom Pérignon. Ask them and they won't necessarily be able to tell you how. But Dom Pérignon universally means luxury, and it means Champagne. It is truly one of the world's most revered brands. But of course, Dom Pérignon is more than just a brand. Unlike the Nike logo, which will get slapped on everything from T-shirts to flip flops, the signature... continue reading


Buying Birth-Year Wine for Children

At two years old, my daughter is already pronouncing her judgement on wines. She does this in one of two ways. She either takes a long sniff in the glass, or she puts her finger into the neck of the bottle, twirls it around and then sticks it in her mouth while putting on a thoughtful expression. Her assessments currently consist of "dis one good" or "no like." Which means she already knows most of what she needs to be a competent wine drinker. As you might expect, I have a fantasy of opening some great bottles to share with... continue reading


The Latest Thing: Flash Sale / Closeout / Massive Discount Web Sites for Wine

One of the nice things about having so many high quality wine blogs around is that on occasion people write articles that I was going to write, and simply save me the trouble. I had been sketching in my mind an article about the phenomenon of Flash Sale wine web sites -- you know, those sites that sell closeout wines in limited quantities for deep deep discounts -- but Jeff over at Good Grape wrote a very nice piece about them yesterday that says most of what I was interested in saying. Jeff contends that a shakeout of these sites... continue reading


The World's Best Burgundy? Tasting La La Paulée de San Francisco 2010

I won't be winning any awards this year for "timely reporting." It's now been more than three months since the event called La Paulée de San Francisco came to town, but I'm finally getting my notes from the grand tasting posted here. For those who aren't familiar with La Paulée, it offers the opportunity to spit out thousands of dollars of wine in the space of a couple of hours. In other words, it's one of world's best Burgundy tastings, where attendees get the chance to sample some wines that are made in such small quantities, and at such high... continue reading


Wine Drinkers, Let Sommeliers Do Their Jobs!

Sommeliers have it pretty rough. They have to deal with the assholes of the wine world who view a conversation with a sommelier as an opportunity to demonstrate their hubris and wine knowledge like a rooster strutting before a cockfight. And then there are those who are not annoying, but still dreadfully unfortunate for a working sommelier: those who are too intimidated by their sense of the complexities of the wine world or the daunting size of the wine list, or what they see as the imposing figure of the sommelier himself (or herself), to engage. If sommeliers were doctors,... continue reading


Schramsberg Vineyards, Napa: A Few Current Releases

At the risk of oversimplifying things past the point of reasonableness, I'd like to suggest that there are really two kinds of wineries in Napa Valley. Those that have been made great in modern times and those that were great long before Napa Cabernet cost more than even $1.00 a bottle. There are a handful of wineries that must be considered some of the valley's historical treasures, and those that continue to make excellent wine (not all do) are to be treasured even more for it. The famous sign that welcomes the world to Napa Valley hosts a quote by... continue reading


Secret Wines of the Napa Valley

The second of the two seminars I gave at the recent Aspen Food & Wine Classic festival was entitled "Secrets of the Napa Valley." The folks at Food & Wine magazine sort of have me slotted as the California guy, so every year I tend to do at least one Napa or Sonoma focused seminar. This year I wanted to highlight some of the least known wines or producers of Napa in an attempt to get people to broaden their horizons, and showcase some of the diversity that flies a bit under the surface of the sea of Cabernet. The... continue reading


Who Should be in the Vintners Hall of Fame?

One of the minor gigs I have landed as a result of my verbal flailings around these parts is as a nominating judge for the Vintners Hall of Fame, an ongoing program of awards hosted by the Culinary Institute of America. Gig is clearly the wrong word for it, of course, as that has some connotation that there's some form of compensation. No, mostly what I get to do is sit around and talk with people who generally know a lot more about the history of California wine than I do. Here's how it works. Every year, the nominating committee... 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

Samuel's Gorge Winery, Mclaren Vale, Australia: Current Releases 18th Annual Monterey Winery Association Tasting: August 7, Monterey, CA 2008 Ridge Vineyards "Three Valleys" Red Blend, Sonoma County Napa Wine Library Tasting: August 15, Napa 2008 Bodegas Colomé Estate Malbec, Salta, Argentina This Wine Designed by the Government Just For You The World's Oldest Drinkable Champagne The Threat to Your Wine Independence Dom Pérignon, Champagne, France: Some Current Releases Buying Birth-Year Wine for Children

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