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~ November 2010 Archives ~



1957 R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Blanco, Rioja, Spain

There are few wineries in Spain whose names conjure the heritage and prestige evoked by R. Lopez de Heredia. Don Rafael Lopez de Heredia was born in Santiago, Chile in 1857. At the age of 12 he was sent by his family to Spain to study with the Jesuits, and nearly became a doctor before discovering the world of business, leaving his brother Fernando to realize the family dream of having a doctor for a son. When he was 19 years old, Don Rafael arrived at the railway station in Haro, Spain suffused with the aromas of wine. The railway... continue reading


Burgundy vs. The USA: A Human Perspective

I expected to learn a lot on my first visit to Burgundy. After years of tasting the region's wines at every opportunity afforded to me in San Francisco and during my travels abroad, I looked forward to the education that comes only from driving unpaved roads, tramping with muddy boots in the vineyard, and the conversations to be had standing around in a cellar. My trip, arranged by the BIVB (Bureau Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bourgogne) to coincide with the 150th annual Hospices de Beaune wine auction, fulfilled these expectations and more, but also left me puzzled at how far... continue reading


Domaine des Vignes du Maynes, Cruzille, France: Current Releases

I went to Burgundy to dig my feet into the dirt a bit. To get down on my hands and knees and smell the wet leaves, and to stand on the crest of the hills and see the lay of the land. But I also went to Burgundy hoping to spend some time off the beaten path. Sure, I wanted to taste some Corton Charlemagne, and have dinner at Clos Vougeot, but I also wanted to see if I could find my favorite kind of winegrower -- the kind that is more "crusty hermit" than "lab chemist." And so,... continue reading


Vinography Images: Vineyards on the Moon

Vineyards on the Moon One of the great things about Chile, where photographer Matt Wilson makes his home and does much of his shooting, has to be the dramatic variety of vineyard landscapes available to the intrepid wine traveler. From the lush green river valleys like Colchagua to the high mountain sites like this Huasco Valley, Chile's wine topography is stunning. -- 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... continue reading


Happy Thanksgiving from Vinography

To my fellow American readers, and anyone else celebrating, Happy Thanksgiving. We all have much to be thankful for if we are lucky enough to be celebrating this holiday with good food, good wine, and those that we love, especially in a world where so many go without all of these. I've refrained from my usual Thanksgiving rant about the endless stream of "Thanksgiving Wine Pairing" articles which I think do a bit of a disservice to the concerned dinner hosts out there looking for help with what to serve their guests. If for some reason you have arrived here... continue reading


My Burgundy Photographs

I'm still a bit too jet lagged to be of much use after my trip to Burgundy. I've got a lot of fantastic producers and wines to write about, as well as the fabulous weekend of the Hospices de Beaune, but I need to clear my head a little, and get more sleep. What I did manage to do on the plane, however, was sort through some of my pictures from the trip, which many of you have asked for. So in the meantime, here's some highlights. For those of you unfamiliar with this browsing interface, there are 33 photos... continue reading


Robert M. Parker, Jr: The Cartoon

Spotted very prominently displayed in a bookstore in Beaune, France: Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "659", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Seven Sins of Robert Parker"); so.addVariable("userName", "ayarrow"); so.addVariable("userId", "[email protected]"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157625314579135"); so.addVariable("titles", "on"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "on"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser101121125845"); I first learned of the book from Parker himself on twitter a few months back: I don't read French well, unfortunately, so I can't validate Mr. Parker's assessment of the book, but it certainly didn't seem to be excoriating. But then... continue reading


Live (Sort of) From the Hospices de Beaune

The Hospices de Beaune wine auction is still in full swing. It opened with great enthusiasm this afternoon, just as the sun peeked through the incessant clouds that have been sprinkling the Cote d'Or all week. For the first two hours, all of the auction lots were selling at 10 to 20% higher than their auction estimates. This bodes well for Burgundy, and perhaps the wine world as a whole. The highlight of the day so far, however, must be the sale of the annual President's lot, a special wine, made even more special at this, the 150th Anniversary of... continue reading


Vinography Images: Above the Valley

Above the Valley This is a photograph of the El Olivar Vineyards of Viu Manent in Chile's Colchagua valley. I love how many different shades of green this valley contains. -- 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 should follow these instructions, while... continue reading


The Wines of Rully on a Wednesday Morning

Press trips like the one I'm on are not exactly the vacations that my friends and many readers imagine them to be. They are a lot of hard work, albeit quite civilized work in very nice places, interspersed by good things to eat and drink. Though I'm exhausted at the end of every day, it does, as they say, beat the hell out of sitting in a cubicle, pushing paper. The pattern of a press visit to a wine region is fairly standard. Once in a region, the day is made up of mostly visits to individual producers, where I... continue reading


Wandering Through the Chalonnaise

There are wine revelations to share, for sure, but tonight, I am in a reverie simply about the landscape. The day was punctuated with wonderful moments that had nothing to do with wine, and everything to do with the simple beauty of Burgundy. Getting out of the car to stretch my legs next to the freshly mowed field, whose pungent scent wafted over me in a wave of delicious greenness. From the top of a hill, watching the storm system play out, shafts of sunlight moving across the deep green and brown of the checkerboard landscape of vines and their... continue reading


Domaine Vessigaud, Pouilly, France: Current Releases

Arguably, one of the key defining features of Burgundy as a wine region must be the huge plateau of limestone on which it sits. Like a solid layer of frosting atop a deeper cake of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, this limestone starts in the far north in Chablis and continues down into the southernmost parts of Burgundy. There exists a point in Burgundy, however, where this limestone ends, and rather abruptly at that. So sharply and starkly in fact, that you might easily fall to your death from the edge of it. Get too close, even, and the edge might... continue reading


The Road to the Maconnais

My journey began with a series of comical errors, starting with me settling into my seat on the plane only to find, right when I wanted to go to sleep, that it was broken and wouldn't recline. A prompt upgrade to first class fixed that problem (please, may I always be this unlucky?), and left me only slightly less bleary eyed than normal at Charles du Galle at 6 the next morning, before sunrise. For the first time in my life, the Non-EU passport line was shorter and faster than the residents', and I emerged into the terminal looking for... continue reading


Off to Burgundy to Drink Some Wine

I'm watching the sun rise over the tarmac at the San Francisco airport, running on very little sleep, and leaning on a roll-aboard suitcase that only barely zipped close thanks to a few bulky sweaters. On most saturday mornings, I'd hope to be sleeping at this time, but instead I'm on my way to spend ten days in the heart of Burgundy, France, attending the 150th anniversary of the Hospices de Beaune wine auction. The Hospices de Beaune auction has been the celebratory end to the harvest in Burgundy ever since someone got the idea in 1860 to hold an... continue reading


Vinography Images: Bright Harvest

Bright Harvest There's something magically clear and bright about the light in Chile. Less ozone perhaps, especially in some areas. Or maybe the combination of the Andes and the Pacific leads to unusually clear air, and the bright light that can make colors come alive. This is a photo of vineyard workers at Casa Silva's Los Lingues Estate. -- 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... continue reading


2007 Three Sticks "Durell Vineyard" Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

People tend to turn up their noses at the word "pedigree" as it is most often invoked in the context of class, but for both grapevines and the skills of the people who work them, a long history can make a big difference. The tiny Three Sticks winery started in 2002, but unlike many wine labels that spring up overnight with nary a grapevine to their name, Three Sticks emerged as a logical conclusion from the collision of several decades of experience in the wine industry and one of Sonoma County's most well known vineyards. Bill Price made his money... continue reading


Taxidermied Deer Don't Drink Wine

And that makes me angry... The sad thing was, the deer won the bar fight. This is the current feature called "What People Drink" in the latest issue of Mutineer Magazine, a very interesting outlet for the true cutting edge of drinking culture. The editor, Alan Kropf was a fellow judge at the Lake County People's Choice wine awards, and one afternoon he pulled me aside for an interview and a photo shoot. Here's a PDF of the spread. Go out and buy this month's issue if you can and check it out. It's a very interesting read.... continue reading


PinotFest 2010 Tasting: November 20, San Francisco

One of the longest running wine tasting events in San Francisco is also one of its best. While the city often plays host to really huge public tastings like ZAP, Family Winemakers, and PinotDays, some of the better tastings are more intimate and focused. Both words appropriately describe PinotFest, a low key event held every year at Farallon Restaurant. Despite practically non-existent marketing or announcement, PinotFest quietly pulls together 60 or so top producers of West Coast Pinot Noir every year for a dedicated crowd of Pinot lovers in San Francisco. This year will be the event's twelfth. Attendees get... continue reading


Looking Forward To, and Back On, the Last Decade of Napa Cabernet

There are few types of wine writing I tend to ignore so completely as I do vintage reports. The generally pithy paragraphs that attempt to sum up a vintage in Sonoma, for instance, are about as useful as a few sentences dedicated to an attempt at characterizing the quality of food in Lower Manhattan. No matter what you might say, there are a thousand and one exceptions. This vague uselessness tends to be true even if the vintage report purports to speak at the level of an individual AVA or appellation. There are just too many differences in micro climates... continue reading


Vinography Images: Mendoza Sunset

Mendoza Sunset We had a sunset just like this tonight in San Francisco. OK, maybe without the Andes. But just as impressive. Of course, I wish that I had been in Mendoza, instead, where Matt took this picture. I've been thinking about Argentina all afternoon after receiving an e-mail from a friend there. Let's all go drink some Malbec. -- 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... continue reading


Winemakers Howling at the Moon, and Other Follies

The esteemed Mr. Jay McInerney recently penned a blog post in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Fine Wine by Moonlight? Not So Much..." in which he related a recent occasion where all the bottles of fine wine he opened at dinner showed poorly, or at least, under their potential. It happened to be a full moon that evening, which led him to wonder... well, you know. McInerney opens his column with the quip that perhaps he has been "spending too much time looking into biodynamic viticulture." Even without his recent forays into the wilds of heavily trademarked anthroposphic agriculture, it's... 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

1957 R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Blanco, Rioja, Spain Burgundy vs. The USA: A Human Perspective Domaine des Vignes du Maynes, Cruzille, France: Current Releases Vinography Images: Vineyards on the Moon Happy Thanksgiving from Vinography My Burgundy Photographs Robert M. Parker, Jr: The Cartoon Live (Sort of) From the Hospices de Beaune Vinography Images: Above the Valley The Wines of Rully on a Wednesday Morning

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