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~ March 2011 Archives ~



Spring SF Vintners Market: April 9-10, San Francisco

Sometimes you hear an idea and wonder to yourself, exactly why it's taken someone so long to come up with it. And the really good ones make you think, "now why didn't I come up with that?" That's exactly what I thought to myself when I first heard of the San Francisco Vintners Market. It's a farmer's market, but for wine. Simple as that. Walk around, taste a bunch of wines, and buy the ones that you like. So incredibly straightforward it took years for someone to come up with the idea. But now it's happened three or four times... continue reading


The Albatross That is Food and Wine Pairing

Food and wine pairing is the big bird around the neck, or the monkey on the back of American wine appreciation. How we've gotten to this place I'm not entirely sure. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that as a country our wine drinking and food cultures are imported, and somewhat recently compared to the rest of the world. We lack a native or intuitive sense of wine as food, and of wine as an essential part of the dining experience. Don't ask me to fully explain how or why this has resulted in Americans' utter... continue reading


Montenidoli, San Gimignano, Tuscany: Some Current Releases

About three months ago, I found myself wandering around the halls at the Vino2011 tradeshow in New York. Put on by the Italian Trade Commission, it is the largest Italian wine show outside of Italy, and an opportunity to taste an awful lot of Italian wine in a very short period of time. Sometimes when I go to such events, I have a plan to focus on certain regions, or grape varieties, but sometimes I just wander to see what catches my eye. Which is how one afternoon I ended up in the back corner of a side hall where... continue reading


Vinography Images: Spring Storm in Colchagua

Spring Storm in Colchagua Chile is a land of extremes, thanks to its extremely varied, and tightly woven topography, where steep Andean peaks dive down to rich valleys that range from deserts to lush green swards that very quickly lead to the coast. Weather comes from many directions and can often be fierce. But in its aftermath there is sometimes great beauty, as storm clouds dissapate over rolling hills of beautiful green vines. -- 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... continue reading


Drink Like Your Political Party

Forget Red States and Blue States, now there are Wine States and Beer States. While alcohol of choice isn't exactly going to be the best way to demarcate political affiliation at any point, apparently there are some pretty clear differences when you look at the political donations from alcohol producers to legislators. I know this will come as a shock, but... Democrats = wine Republicans = beer Of course, it's not completely black and white, but that's the general trend. According to the web site OpenSecrets.Org, which is run by the Center for Responsive Politics, Democratic lawmakers get more contributions... continue reading


Where All That Wine is Going

I swear I've seen something like thirty news headlines in the last two weeks announcing "Americans Now Drink More Wine than Anyone Else." This is clearly not true. But what is true, apparently, is that for the first time ever, more wine was shipped into this country (and/or shipped within our borders) last year than any other country in the world. What this actually means, well that's a complex answer. Anyone looking to simplify that complexity (and who wouldn't when you're trying to make generalizations at the scale of the global economy) could reasonably say that America consumed more wine... continue reading


Why Every Wine Lover Needs to Call Their Representative in Congress

Last year, one of the most anti-consumer pieces of legislation in years was introduced to the House of Representatives under the name HR5034: The Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness act, or ironically, "CARE." I wrote last year about what a piece of shit masquerading as legislation this bill was, and was happy to see that it never made it to the floor of the house for a vote. Well now thanks to a tool of a senator named Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, it has been resurrected as HR1161, and the named changed to the Community Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness... continue reading


Vinography Images: Maule Sunset

Maule Sunset The Maule wine region sits roughly in the center of Chile's long reach from North to South, and is one of the oldest sites of viticulture in the country. In my opinion it contains one of the world's great viticultural treasures: lots of little pockets of ancient, dry-farmed, bush vines of Carignane, some of them more than 100 years old. These vines are gradually being rescued from near death and neglect by winemakers who are using them to make some of Chile's most exciting wines. The vines shown here in the fading light of the sunset aren't... continue reading


Drink Sake to Help Japan

We're all watching with deep sadness and empathy the unfolding of the post-earthquake and tsunami tragedy in Japan. For those of us who have a personal connection to Japan (I lived there for almost two years) the events of the past week have been heart-breaking. Much like the tsunami in Indonesia, we are still not fully understanding the full extent of the tragedy. It is much worse than is currently being reported, mostly because the damage and the true death toll has not yet been fully surveyed. I'm in contact with a number of friends, most of whom live in... continue reading


Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Paradise Festival: March 26-27, Campbell, CA

The Santa Cruz Mountains American Viticultural Area, or AVA, is perhaps one of the least appreciated wine growing regions in California. This despite being home to some truly fantastic wines, including some of the state's most iconic wines from producer Ridge Vineyards. But while many people may have heard of Ridge, it is far from the only reason that wine lovers ought to be paying attention to the Santa Cruz Mountains. Home to lots of little producers, the region is a treasure trove of well-priced wines of distinctive character. Pinot Noir has a long history in the Santa Cruz mountains,... continue reading


Pinot Noir Everywhere: From the Expected to the Fringes

Yes, I'm on a Pinot Noir kick this week, thanks to my recent attendance at the World of Pinot Noir conference in Shell Beach, California. I haven't had time to write up my notes from the grand tasting of several hundred Pinots that I tasted, but I did want to share some notes from an interesting assortment of wines that I had the opportunity to experience. What places come to mind most easily when you think of growing Pinot Noir? For me the list, in order, goes something like this: Burgundy, California, Oregon, and New Zealand. If I want to... continue reading


Vinography Images: Cabernet Flower

Cabernet Flower It's only a matter of time before the gradually warming days here in the Northern Hemisphere bring forth new shoots on the vines that will soon be followed by the delicate little flowers that hint at the beginnings of next year's harvest. For now, however, we can just admire this one. -- 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... continue reading


The Young Turks of Burgundy: Allen Meadows with Domaine Marc Roy and Domaine Jean-Marc Bouley

As I mentioned in a previous post, last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the World of Pinot Noir conference in Shell Beach, California. In addition to the grand tasting of many different wines on the cliffs above the seaside, there were some focused tastings where moderators and panelists worked through some wines in great detail. I attended one entitled The Young Turks of Burgundy, led by Alan Meadows, the wine critic behind Burghound.Com, a newsletter that in the past decade, has become the de-facto critical authority on much of Burgundy, and especially the most famous part known as... continue reading


Rhone Rangers Tasting 2011: March 26-27, San Francisco

I love watching the green buds burst forth on the trees this time of year, hard on the heels of the cherry blossoms. Yes, it's California, so the barest hint of any season gets me excited, but especially Spring. And with Spring in San Francisco comes lots of wine tasting events, and a few really good ones. The Annual Rhone Rangers Tasting in San Francisco is certainly one of the Spring highlights for wine lovers in the Bay Area. Held at Fort Mason, like all the other big tastings, Rhone Rangers offers the change for wine lovers to taste through... continue reading


Alcohol Levels and Balance in Pinot Noir: The Panel

I'm currently spending an idyllic weekend down on California's Central coast attending an event called the World of Pinot Noir. It's an event I've heard of for some time, but have never attended. I got the chance to go this year, and completely lucked out with one of the warmest, sunniest weekends in recent months, not to mention a nicely put together event with some seriously great Pinot Noir. Day one was full of seminars, and the first of two grand tasting events. I'll publish my notes from the grand tasting at a future date, but would like to share... continue reading


Vinography Images: Cabernet and Mountains

Cabernet and Mountains Call it the perfect pairing: Autumn Cabernet vines in the Maipo valley, set against the cordillera of the Andes. Chilean wine country has some of the world's greatest scenery thanks to the incredibly massive mountains that stand as a backdrop to many of its regions. -- 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... continue reading


1971 J.J. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany

As you know, I think wine reviews should be more than just tasting notes and scores. They should be the stories of the people and the places behind the wines. While the people quite often bring the most life to the story of a wine, sometimes the place, even the vineyard itself, can be the most prominent character in the drama. In the case of this wine, the story consists of the inextricable link between a family and a vineyard. By most accounts, the Prum family has owned vineyards in and around the town of Wehlen in Germany's Mosel river... continue reading


You Already Drink Like a Sommelier. Now Read Like One. Free.

NOTE: This is not a standard blog entry, and it has a slightly promotional quality to it. You have been warned. It's not every day that you get to witness a magazine being born, but I remember the first conversation I had with David Vogels, a soft-spoken, well-dressed man who was attending the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers for the first time. He shared with me his dream of starting a wine magazine targeted at Sommeliers. Over the course of the next year or two, I got to see his dream come to life, in the form of Sommelier Journal,... 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

Spring SF Vintners Market: April 9-10, San Francisco The Albatross That is Food and Wine Pairing Montenidoli, San Gimignano, Tuscany: Some Current Releases Vinography Images: Spring Storm in Colchagua Drink Like Your Political Party Where All That Wine is Going Why Every Wine Lover Needs to Call Their Representative in Congress Vinography Images: Maule Sunset Drink Sake to Help Japan Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Paradise Festival: March 26-27, Campbell, CA

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