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~ October 2011 Archives ~



Last Day to get a Discount at JancisRobinson.Com

As part of the announcement of my new column for Jancis Robinson, she's offered Vinography subscribers a significantly discounted first year subscription price ($70 instead of $104). You can take advantage of this discount until Midnight Pacific Time today, by using the promotional code "THANKSA&J" when you sign up. So is it worth $70? Well, here's how I look at it. Two of the most important reference books in the wine world are The Oxford Companion to Wine and the World Atlas of Wine. I own both of them. However, together they weigh something like 25 pounds -- hard to... continue reading


Vinography Images: Halloween Vineyard

Halloween Vineyard ALEXANDER VALLEY, SONOMA COUNTY, CA: As the grape harvest winds down, a plastic Halloween pumpkin hangs from a vineyard post and the vines behind it turn their Autumn colors. 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 PC users... continue reading


2007 Bodega del Fin del Mundo "Special Reserve Blend" Red Wine, Patagonia, Argentina

When I visited Argentina a few years ago, my trip was a mix of vacation and wine investigation, and, like so many great trips, left me feeling like I had done too little of both. In the wine department, I left with two main regrets. The first was the lack of a visit to Salta, which is the first place I'll head in South America next time I get down that way. And while I did get down to Bariloche in Patagonia for a little while to hike and fish, and generally relax, I really wish I had taken a... continue reading


PinotFest 2011 Tasting: November 19, 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


Book Review: Two New Takes on Natural Wine

Review by Tim Patterson. Alongside the profusion of wine bars and wine weeks focused on so-called "natural wines"--wines made with minimal winemaker intervention and chemical adulteration-- two new books try to explain the phenomenon and assess its significance for the future of wine. In Authentic Wine: Toward Natural and Sustainable Winemaking, British scientist / wine writer Jaime Goode and New Zealand-born consulting winemaker and Master of Wine Sam Harrop make a plea for maintaining and defending the diversity of wines and wine styles from around the world, concentrating on careful, in-depth analysis of the technical and philosophical issues involved. Alice... continue reading


Vinography Images: Noble Rot

Noble Rot MONTEREY COUNTY, CA - 2006: A closeup of a bunch of Chardonnay grapes affected by botrytis is viewed in this 2006 Salinas Valley photo. Botrytis, also known as "the Noble Rot," produces exquisite dessert wines including the famous Sauternes wines of Bordeaux. To those not shooting for unctuous sweet wines, however, Botrytis can be a problem, especially in wet years such as 2011. Indeed, California vintners are battling it even now, as harvest continues. 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


2011 Pinot Days Tasting: November 12, Chicago

While those of us on the West Coast are still lingering in the illusion of Autumn, the chill has descended upon the shores of Lake Michigan, and Chicagoans must be sure they're drinking red wine, both to warm themselves, and to steel themselves psychologically for the punishment of Winter. In November, however, there's one particular red wine that most folks in the Windy City should be drinking: Pinot Noir. Once upon a time there were only a few big-time, high-quality wine events around the country, and they tended to cluster heavily on the two coasts. These days, however, we are... continue reading


Napa and the New Kid in Town

Napa Valley has been awash with nervous energy for the past week. And it has nothing to do with the nearly magical reprieve that Mother Nature seems to have granted the 2011 harvest after unseasonably fierce rains. On the surface, everyone pretends it's just another week in wine country, but behind closed doors and in hushed tones over beers in the local bars, everyone seems to be talking about the handsome young stranger in town (see picture). This past week, for the first time in more than 25 years, the wine critic Robert M Parker, Jr did not make an... continue reading


An Important and Exciting Announcement

As many of you know, writing about wine is hardly my full time employment. With a demanding day job and a family, it requires a significant amount of discipline (along with perhaps a less than dynamic social life) to fit the wine writing into my crazy schedule. But I do because I love it. It's what I do for fun. People laugh when I say, "other people knit, I write about wine," but it's really true. I have been approached many times over the years with offers to write more for established outlets, but I've always declined for a combination... continue reading


Aspiring Wine Writer? Go West Young Scribe!

The wine world is made of dreams. Some people dream about drinking wine. Some people dream about making wine. And others dream of writing about it. For all those that have ever toyed with the idea of writing about wine, and for those who have dabbled in it, I have a small anecdote to share from my college days. Those who have been reading this blog for a long time know that I share this anecdote pretty much every year when I am writing this particular article, which itself appears each year. I was taking a fiction writing class one... continue reading


What's Your Best Wine? Tasting the Wine & Spirits Top 100

The difference between a good public wine tasting and a bad one can be quite dramatic. The bad ones are in crappy locations, are poorly organized, offer no food, and only mediocre wines. The good ones are, well, just the opposite -- nicely organized, well catered, and offer great wines. And the best ones? Well, they throw in a jazz quartet, and all you can eat oyster bar, a dessert bar, and wines that sometimes retail for hundreds of dollars, if you can find them at all. This year's Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting threw in all that, and... continue reading


Vinography Images: Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon HEALDSBURG, CA - SEPTEMBER 22, 2010: A yellow harvest moon hangs above a Russian River Valley picking crew in September, 2010 in Healdsburg, California. The 2010 harvest was delayed just as this years has been by cool weather. Thanks to the last couple of days of warm weather, crews like this are swarming the vineyards of Sonoma and Napa at night, bringing in the 2011 vintage. 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.... continue reading


2011 Harvest: Rain, Rain, Go Away

"How wet is it up there?" I asked. "Wet enough that I'm on Facebook at 11 AM on a Tuesday in October," said Duane Hoff, proprietor of Fantesca Estate on the slopes of Spring Mountain in Napa. I reached out to Duane when I saw him online earlier this week just to see how he and his fellow Napa winemakers are handling the recent deluge and follow up drizzle that is making for what by many accounts is a "challenging" harvest up and down the West Coast of the U.S. Whenever it rains during harvest, journalists begin buzzing with rumors... continue reading


A Well Designed Wine Map of France

It's rare that my day job (design) and my night job (wine) overlap, but thanks to the Internets I occasionally get choice tidbits that nicely fill that little sliver of a venn diagram between two of my most important disciplines. The latest intersection? This thing of beauty: Click to make it bigger! It's a subway-map-meets-wine-map that has some really clever design conventions that allow it to easily convey a lot of very complex, multi-variate information. Specifically, it illustrates the wine regions, their appellations, the major towns and waterways near those appellations and the relative positioning of those appellations, and the... continue reading


Vinography Images: Chardonnay Truck

Chardonnay Truck ANDERSON VALLEY, MENDOCINO COUNTY, CA - 2006: A truck load of chardonnay is ready to deliver to the winery for crushing. Most, but not all of the Chardonnay in California has been harvested at this point. Any left on the vine will be hanging in hopes of drying out a little after all the rain. 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... continue reading


2011 Pinot on the River Tasting: October 23, Healdsburg, CA

Now is a wonderful, if slightly manic time to be wandering around wine country. Harvest is, for some, complete, and wines are bubbling and burbling their way through fermentations. For others, any day now they will be making mad dashes into the vineyards to get the fruit in just as soon as things dry out from this major dump we just had. Either way, it's the time of year that wine country really becomes wine country. As the afternoon sun angles low, life gets pretty idyllic around Sonoma, and the timing is good to relax with friends and a nice... continue reading


2006 Arnot-Roberts "Clary Ranch" Syrah, Sonoma Coast

The reported death of California Syrah has been greatly exaggerated. That's the topic for a rant some other time. But it's a fitting way to open this review of a wine that represents my favorite kind of wine discovery: a situation where someone pours me a glass that I'm not paying that much attention to, I stick my nose in it, take a sip, and then the next thirty seconds of my life are some combination of a sense of whiplash and usually more than a few very positive expletives. I love it when wines literally turn my head, as... continue reading


Book Review: When Wine Tastes Best

Review by Tim Patterson I am here to tell you about the only wine book you or I will ever need--at least until next year, when we'll all need the 2012 edition. Throw away all those critic's ratings and all those books about food and wine pairing; you won't even need to visit Vinography any more, except for the cool images. When Wine Tastes Best: A Biodynamic Calendar for Wine Drinkers 2011 is what happens when the most far-fetched aspects of biodynamic agriculture get transplanted from vineyard to glass. It turns out, the introduction explains, that the same astral forces... continue reading


2008 Bordeaux: Some Tasting Notes

It's a measure of just exactly how busy I am these days at work that it's taken me approximately eight months to write this post. Way back in January, I happened to be in New York City when the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux came to town to show off the 2008 vintage. I had about an hour and a half to kill before I had to run to the airport and catch a flight home, so I got the chance to taste through some of the wines. It's taken me some time, but I finally managed to transcribe... 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

Last Day to get a Discount at JancisRobinson.Com Vinography Images: Halloween Vineyard 2007 Bodega del Fin del Mundo "Special Reserve Blend" Red Wine, Patagonia, Argentina PinotFest 2011 Tasting: November 19, San Francisco Book Review: Two New Takes on Natural Wine Vinography Images: Noble Rot 2011 Pinot Days Tasting: November 12, Chicago Napa and the New Kid in Town An Important and Exciting Announcement Aspiring Wine Writer? Go West Young Scribe!

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