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~ January 2012 Archives ~

 

01.31.2012

The Essence of Wine: Vanilla

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch Sprung from the legendary blood of forbidden lovers suffering the wrath of a father king, slender jungle orchids climb skyward, their fruit bearing heavenly scents. The Aztecs demanded tlilxochitl, this black gold, in tribute after conquering the tribes who first unlocked vanilla's secrets. As intense as it is ethereal, vanilla possesses a singular, breathtaking purity of aroma. Barrels imbue wine with much of the vanilla we taste. Their singed oak can offer up an echo of flowers in ancient forests, or deeper notes of caramel and butterscotch. Sometimes floating above the wine's fruit, sometimes wrapped... continue reading

01.30.2012

Australia as a Lesson on Currency and the Wine Industry

Some of the big news last week in the wine world had to do with the shifting buying habits of our friends Down Under. Thanks to the vagaries of the international currency markets, the Australian Dollar has appreciated greatly against the Euro, and for the first time since the Euro was launched, stuff from Europe is pretty cheap in Australia. So, what does a wine loving country like Australia (they consume about three times as much wine per capita as America) do when imports get cheap? They stop buying Australian wine all the time and they start buying imported wine.... continue reading

01.28.2012

2006 Peay Vineyards Roussane/Marsanne Blend, Sonoma Coast

As a wine reviewer who gets paid next to nothing for his work, I have the luxury of only reviewing wines that I think are worth writing about. I've got no deadlines, no quotas to fill, and no obligation to anyone. All of which means that it's always a great pleasure to say nice things about a wine or wines that I enjoy. But this is perhaps the most pleasurable kind of review I write. The review of a winery whose wines I can safely say are all spectacularly good -- so good that I will simply buy any wine... continue reading

01.28.2012

2012 SF Chronicle Wine Competition Public Tasting: February 18, San Francisco

If there is one public wine tasting event that rivals San Francisco's yearly ZAP Zinfandel tasting for sheer size and chaos, it could only be the annual SF Chronicle Wine Competition Tasting. Every year this competition is judged by more than 60 wine professionals, in which they award medals to their top choices from among over 5,000 wines from all across America. This competition has grown over the last ten years to be the largest competitive tasting of American wines in the world. The judges hand out hundreds of medals and awards. Those awards are released to the public, and... continue reading

01.27.2012

Vinography Images: Moon Over Sonoma

Moon Over Sonoma SONOMA COUNTY, CA: A full moon rises over an oak tree in Alexander Valley. 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 should follow these. PRINTS: Fine art prints of this image and others are available... continue reading

01.24.2012

Gallo and Constellation Screwed by U.S. Tort Law

I'm sure I'm going to catch hell for this post from any number of quarters, but it needs to be said. Big wine companies are favorite punching bags for wine lovers that would never buy their products. Sometime's there's a good reason for this, like when they throw their weight around in the marketplace in ways that aren't exactly good for the industry. The bigger the company, the bigger the mistakes they can make as well. When they make mistakes, sometimes these companies can be hung out to dry simply because they have deep pockets. And that's exactly what seems... continue reading

01.24.2012

The States of Wine Shipping

'It will cost the economy thousands of jobs.' 'It will reduce tax revenues and destroy retailers.' 'It will result in an epidemic of teen drunk driving.' These were but a few of the vociferous arguments made on 5 January against a bill introduced to the New Jersey state legislature that merely proposed to allow New Jersey state wineries (of which there are now more than 40) to ship their wines to state residents, just like wineries in the neighbouring state of New York. The individuals offering these arguments were primarily representatives of the state's liquor wholesalers, who purportedly spent more... continue reading

01.23.2012

The Essence of Wine: Honey

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch Sunshine, gathered from flowers by tiny apian efforts, forged into ambrosia that tasted of immortality to the Greeks and Egyptians. The alchemy of honey seems no less marvelous even to those that have braved the swarm to witness its creation. Like honey, wine serves to transmute the world's most basic elements into a form seductive and irresistible. When wines taste of honey they seem to taste of sunlight itself, a brightness that coats the mouth with a satin warmth and gently tugs at the heart like a summer breeze. The scents of honey wafting from... continue reading

01.21.2012

Book Review: Wine Wars by Mike Veseth

Review by Tim Patterson. A big part of wine's allure is that it is so many different things: a source of alcohol, a source of pleasure, a gateway for entry into the mystical, the erotic, the enlightened, the divine, the silly, and sometimes the idiotic. But for thousands of years, it has also been a commodity--and that's where this book comes in. Worrying about wine as a commodity seems uninspiring, even tawdry, compared, say, to worrying about the distinctive terroir of some patch of dirt in Alsace. But without the buying and selling, we'd all be home winemakers, wine production... continue reading

01.20.2012

Vinography Images: The Mustard

The Mustard RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY, CA: Flowering mustard growing between the grapevines signals the beginning of spring as seen in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California. 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 should follow these. PRINTS: Fine art prints... continue reading

01.19.2012

2008 Alta Maria Vineyards Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley

If I were doing now what I thought I would probably do with my life as a sophomore in college, I would be a photographer living in a tent or an old VW Bus somewhere, splitting my time between rock climbing and taking pictures of stuff that most people wouldn't give a second glance. This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but I offer it as proof of how little sense I had of what path my life would take. James Ontiveros, on the other hand, was spending his sophomore year at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo going to classes... continue reading

01.17.2012

The Essence of Wine: Earth

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch Earth. The first of the elements that the ancients held as the basis for all life. The source of all our sustenance. Wine has always been inextricably linked to the dirt, the root of terroir. That wine can sometimes taste or smell of earth should come as no surprise. Like walking through the spongy loam of a dark wet forest, scents of soil and mushroom, dust and mud often resonate with a dark bass note underneath other flavors and aromas. Flavors of earth are often borne on the textures of tannin, as if the very... continue reading

01.17.2012

Introducing The Essence of Wine

Many facets of wine contribute to its allure and mystery. But foremost among wine's most magical qualities must be the remarkable landscape of flavor and aroma to be found in the glass. That mere grape juice, given time and the workings of the microscopic kingdom, can yield flavors beyond description has doubtless played a central role in making wine mankind's most historically sacred fluid, beyond our own lifeblood. With eyes closed, a glass of wine can transport us not only to climes far removed, but also through time. These journeys are provoked by flavor. Our deep sense memories are drawn... continue reading

01.14.2012

Reflections on 8 Years of Wine Blogging

Eight years ago, I decided that instead of giving my friends the same advice over and over again about my favorite wines and restaurants, I would start a blog -- both so that I would have someplace to send them, and so that I could learn about what a blog was and how it worked. And that, as they say, was the first day of the rest of my life. I've been writing about wine almost every day since then, pausing only to go on my honeymoon, hang out with my new baby girl, and go fishing in Alaska this... continue reading

01.13.2012

Vinography Images: St. Emilion

St. Emilion BORDEAUX, FRANCE: The historical village of St. Emilion, located in the famed Bordeaux wine region, is viewed in this spring photo looking southeast. 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 should follow these. PRINTS: Fine art... continue reading

01.12.2012

Book Review: The Drops of God: Vol 1, by Tadashi Agi

I'm tickled by the idea of wine featuring prominently in popular entertainment. I think a lot of wine lovers got a kick out of Sideways. Regardless of what they thought of the movie overall, there were enough inside wine jokes and archetypal wine conversations that anyone who loved wine was able to at least smile knowingly. I found it delightful to watch people geeking out about wine and extolling the virtues of Pinot Noir on the big screen. A similar small delight is to be found in the pages of the newly translated Drops of God, by Tadashi Agi and... continue reading

01.10.2012

2012 Pinot Days Southern California Tasting: January 26-28, Los Angeles

Wine festivals in Southern California, and especially in Los Angeles, aren't particularly plentiful, for reasons I don't entirely understand. There are plenty of wine lovers in LA, but the large public wine events that make such frequent appearances in San Francisco, and increasingly in New York, just don't seem to make it down the West Coast. Three years ago, the Pinot Days Festival came to Los Angeles, and now every year SoCal Pinot lovers have a reason to celebrate. This year's Grand Tasting will offer the opportunity to taste more than 300 Pinot Noirs from about 100 different producers over... continue reading

01.08.2012

2008 Pheasant's Tears Rkatsiteli, Republic of Georgia

We don't know exactly where and when mankind first made wine in any significant quantity, but we believe that it was approximately 8000 years ago -- long before the rise of the Egyptian civilization. We're also fairly sure that these initial efforts to produce large quantities of fermented grape juice took place in the region currently occupied by the Republic of Georgia. These estimates of the time and location of mankind's earliest forays into oenology are based on the carbon dating of grape seeds found in the bottom of ancient clay amphorae, the remarkable progenitors of the world of wine... continue reading

01.06.2012

Vinography Images: Nicole's Vineyard

Nicole's Vineyard RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY, CA: Green grasses growing between the grapevines signals the start of spring as seen in Nicole's Vineyard in Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California. 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 should follow these. PRINTS:... continue reading

01.03.2012

Knock it Off: Things I'd Like to See Disappear From the Wine World in 2012

It's the beginning of a new year. Everyone's making lists. The most memorable wines of 2011. Predictions about what will happen in the wine world in 2012. Lists of new years wine resolutions. Actually, I wrote an article for Fine Cooking Magazine's last issue with five New Years wine resolutions. Mine were focused on exploring niches of the wine world that are generally ignored. Check it out if you're interested. It's an excellent magazine and is on newsstands now. But let's talk now about a different sort of list: the stuff that should go away. Here's the list of stuff... continue reading

01.02.2012

You Won Tickets to the ZAP Zinfandel Festival!

Thanks to everyone who submitted Zinfandel themed haiku poems as entries for a chance to win tickets to the ZAP Zinfandel tasting taking place on January 26-28, 2012 here in San Francisco. After assigning everyone a number and then using a true random number generator, I have picked the following six names "out of a hat" as winners. Each of the people below will receive two tickets to the grand tasting, courtesy of Vinography. I will send you each an e-mail, but you can pick up your tickets the day of the event at will call under the name you... 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

The Essence of Wine: Vanilla Australia as a Lesson on Currency and the Wine Industry 2006 Peay Vineyards Roussane/Marsanne Blend, Sonoma Coast 2012 SF Chronicle Wine Competition Public Tasting: February 18, San Francisco Vinography Images: Moon Over Sonoma Gallo and Constellation Screwed by U.S. Tort Law The States of Wine Shipping The Essence of Wine: Honey Book Review: Wine Wars by Mike Veseth Vinography Images: The Mustard

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

Archives by Month

 

Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud 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 World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.