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~ May 2011 Archives ~



Wine, Architecture, and Reaching for Grandeur

There has long been an intimate relationship between wine and architecture. It no doubt began with form following function. Because winemaking and the elevage of its product requires a certain modicum of space, and that space must inherently achieve some environmental requirements, the enterprising souls, many of which were monks of one order or another, sought to house their works well, with barrel vaults and thick stone walls, with sculpted caves and cavernous barns. Later, when wine became the source of riches, or even an accessory to a fortune, those who made, or more correctly: had wine made for them,... continue reading


Vinography Images: Stone Winery

Stone Winery I was quite surprised on my trip to Chile to see that the majority of wineries in the country seem to be farming relatively flat ground. In the abundance of good soil and land, few had made the investment of energy and money to plant hillside vineyards. However, some of the more ambitious winery projects in Chile tend to focus more on hillside fruit, often with good results. This is an image taken from the top of one side of the amphitheater-like vineyard holdings of Altair winery in the Cachapoal Valley, and shows both the sculpted vineyards... continue reading


Compound in Red Wine Shown to Simulate Concussions

Researchers are studying whether a compound found in red wine can produce short-term or the long- term effects similar to concussions in adults. Researchers at Arizona Pyrotechnic College in Sedona, Arizona are using resveratrol, and the red wine that it is found in, to counterproductively create the effects of mild concussions. The trial currently has five professional drinkers in Sedona taking part. The drinkers are taking resveratrol orally, via fine claret, in amounts previously shown to have positively stupefying effects on lab animals. Resveratrol is already being studied as an agent to lower blood sugar levels, for use against cancer,... continue reading


South African Sauvignon Blanc: Some Tasting Notes

I've been trying to remember the first South African wine I tasted, but it's a little fuzzy in my mind. At the time I wasn't keeping notes on wine, so I don't have a scribble in any notebook to look back on for my very first impression. I do remember subsequent opportunities to drink South African wines, and in particular their Sauvignon Blancs. My general impression of these wines were that they were competent, but they didn't grab my attention much more than that. Three years ago, however, I had the opportunity to visit South Africa and taste hundreds of... continue reading


Vinography Wins Some Awards

Arguably less interesting than the fact that Bernie Madoff's wine collection sold for $20,000 more than what anyone thought it might go for at auction (all proceeds going to victims, thankfully), it's worth mentioning that Vinography won some awards last week. I woke up on Tuesday morning to discover that Vinography had won Best Wine or Beer Blog in the 2011 Saveur Blog Awards. These awards were a combination of juried and popular votes. For those of you who voted for me, thank you so much for your support! You should go check out the winners, especially the young lady... continue reading


TAPAS Spanish Varietals Tasting 2011: 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


1983 Schloss Schonborn Rudesheimer Bichofsberg Riesling Spatlese, Rheingau, Germany

Wine is the closest we come to alchemy. And ironically, the most magical transmutation that takes place within wine is almost entirely out of our control. Far be it for me to deny winemakers their due for what is surely the magical feat of assisting in the transformation of simple grapes into fluids that evoke things as exotic as mangos, lavender, chocolate, and wood smoke. But at least half of the magic in wine comes from what happens to it when we stop messing with it and leave it to its own devices for a decade or two. Aged Riesling,... continue reading


Vinography Images: Chardonnay Harvest

Chardonnay Harvest This could have been the scene many places in Chile a couple of months ago. The harvest there has completed over the past few months. These grapes are Chardonnay, from the Maule region, I believe. Chardonnay is one of the more underrated products of the Chilean wine industry, especially when made with restraint. -- 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... continue reading


Presqu'ile Winery, Santa Maria Valley: Current Releases

I'm wandering around the grand tasting tent at the World of Pinot Noir conference, focusing, as I often do, on a combination of wines that I know well, and those that I've never heard of. I walk up to a table with an unfamiliar label, get a little something poured into my glass, lift it up to my nose, and WHAM! It's like I've been slapped upside the head and my senses have just kicked into overdrive. All of a sudden I'm hyper-aware and focused on this delicious experience: a wine that grabs me by the lapels, shakes me... continue reading


Vinography Images: Cachapoal Sky

Cachapoal Sky Chile has definitely got the "sky thing" down. I'm sure there's some sort of topographic and/or climatic reason for it, but the clouds and the blue are a bit more electric than other places. Here's a view above some vineyards in the Cachapoal Valley, most likely holding Cabernet, the primary grape grown in this region south of Santiago. -- 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... continue reading


The Perils of the New Wine Economy

We live in remarkable times. The pace of technological innovation and the remarkable changes that globalization has wrought upon the world economy are staggering in their scope. As wine lovers, we have never had access to more great wines at any time in history. The ways and sources of buying wine have exploded in the last twenty years. We've gone from a wine economy that was rooted in local retail stores (and some large multi-national auction houses) to a modern, globalized world of e-commerce, where most of the wines that anyone could want to get their hands on are available... continue reading


Feeling the Pain of Canadian Wine Lovers

I like to complain a lot about the state of wine shipping laws in America. It's a backwards system that favors the kleptocratic state-run monopolies and their distribution chain cronies (or is it the other way around?). And don't get me started on HR 1161, one of the worst pieces of legislation to hit our House of Representatives in recent memory. Of course, we Americans like to think we're on our own in both good times and in bad, but any wine lover who's spent time in Canada knows that things are just as bad up there, if not worse.... continue reading


2011 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival: May 20-22, 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, which I reported on here at Vinography. The second is the annual Pinot Noir Festival.... continue reading


Vinography Images: Carmenere Harvest

Carmenere Harvest This lovely image of the harvest in Chile captures the beauty and the namesake color of the Carmenere vine in the Fall. Thought for many years to be Merlot, once identified correctly Carmenere has become Chile's signature grape. And once identified correctly, and left to ripen longer than Merlot should be, it can make for some very nice wine. -- 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


2011 RAP Pink Out Rosé Tasting: May 10, San Francisco

It's almost impossible to write about pink wines these days without invoking some sort of cliche. Even the (true) claim that rosé wines are no longer out of fashion has been recycled so many times that I'm cringing just typing it. The fact of the matter is that after years of being vino-non-grata, pink wines are finally back in the awareness of American wine drinkers. After the success of Sutter Home White Zinfandel sent wine lovers running for the hills every time someone offered them a glass of rosé, discerning palates are returning to pink wines in huge numbers. How... continue reading


Read Some Good Wine Blogging

The fact that you're here, reading this, means I don't have much convincing to do when it comes to turning you on to good online wine writing. The rest of the world, well, they might need a little nudging. Despite the fact that pretty much every major working wine journalist in the English language that isn't on the doorstep of retirement has a blog, many people still dismiss wine blogs as irrelevant fluff. Of course, you and I know a few things about that. Namely that the volume of online wine writing by people like me eclipses all of the... continue reading


Tasting the Superstar Wines of Napa's Oakville AVA

Napa Valley is famous, or infamous depending on your point of view, for some of the world's best and priciest Cabernet Sauvignon. While it has yet to reach the heights of the few First Growths in Bordeaux in terms of pricing, the Napa Valley has been producing some of the most sought after wines in the Western Hemisphere for several decades. Napa Valley, like so many wine regions, is not actually one place, but many - its various sub-regions offering a wide variety of topographies, microclimates, soil types, and exposures. The AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) that have been created to... 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, Architecture, and Reaching for Grandeur Vinography Images: Stone Winery Compound in Red Wine Shown to Simulate Concussions South African Sauvignon Blanc: Some Tasting Notes Vinography Wins Some Awards TAPAS Spanish Varietals Tasting 2011: June 5, San Francisco 1983 Schloss Schonborn Rudesheimer Bichofsberg Riesling Spatlese, Rheingau, Germany Vinography Images: Chardonnay Harvest Presqu'ile Winery, Santa Maria Valley: Current Releases Vinography Images: Cachapoal Sky

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