Text Size:-+

~ May 2012 Archives ~



You Can't Make This Wine Shit Up!

Superstar rocker Maynard James Keenan, who recently decided Arizona wasn't hot enough for making wine and moved to growing vines in the Gobi Desert, recently got Dr. Ruth Westheimer drunk off her ass, fed her some human flesh, seduced her, and now the two of them now have a love child. Or something like that. Bat boy has escaped again. The internets are a wonderful thing. Not only do they permit the atrocious yet topically appropriate grammar displayed by the previous sentence, they bring us glorious tales of the wine world's reality that are too precious to imagine. The aforementioned... continue reading


Starter Wine Cellars for New Facebook Millionaires

Dear newly-minted-millionaires, Firstly, let me say congratulations on making the investment of time, money, or blood-sweat-and-tears that landed you with a sizable piece of a $100 billion $57 Billion company. I'm sure you're already fantasizing about what you might do with all that money once it turns from paper to potential cash. I would be. I do hope that the first thing you do is put a big chunk of it away to safely guarantee yourself and your family some income for the rest of your lives, and not end up like the Baby Boomers who seem to have spent... continue reading


The Essence of Wine: Mint

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch From the wailing currents of the river Cocytus, a river nymph named Minthe glimpsed the passing chariot of Hades, and was seduced by its dark rider. But the instant their passion flamed, a jealous Persephone intervened, transforming the innocent naiad into the aromatic herb we know by the same name. Even before its creation myth, mint was both a medicine and a delicacy. Its aroma in wine often blends with eucalyptus and cut grass, their collective green seeming evidence of transubstantiation and somehow more remarkable than flavors of exotic fruit. Truthfully, a vineyard shadowed by... continue reading


Futo Wines, Napa: Current Releases

In some ways the stories aren't all that different. A wealthy businessman falls in love with wine at some point, starts visiting Napa, and eventually dreams of owning a vineyard, to make a small amount of wine, just for fun. A vineyard is purchased, wine made, and everyone lives happily ever after. I can't tell you how many times I've watched this narrative play out in Napa, and tasted the result. Nine times out of ten, the wine that results from such a venture never transcends being merely good, even for those that have spent top dollar on grapes and... continue reading


Vinography Images: Carneros Cool

Carneros Cool SONOMA COUNTY, CA: A Carneros Chardonnay vineyard shows its spring greenery just a few meters from San Pablo Bay, whose cooling influence makes Carneros one of the cooler grape-growing locations in 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,... continue reading


Zoltan Demeter, Tokaj, Hungary: Current Releases

It's hard to fathom what it must be like to have the world change beneath your feet overnight. When the Iron Curtain fell in 1989, I was a relatively clueless high schooler for whom the news was elating, but only in a purely theoretical sense. For a whole generation of Eastern Europeans, however, the event wrought an entirely new future. When the wall came down, Zoltan Demeter was a Hungarian student, dreaming of a future as a winemaker. Before 1989, that future in Hungary would have involved working for one of the huge state-run winemaking companies whose primary mission was... continue reading


The Essence of Wine: Espresso

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch Its discovery in the highlands of Ethiopia remains shrouded in the mystery of lost tribal lore. Having bargained for beans, the Sufis were the first we know of to begin the brewing ritual whose mere scent can enliven the soul. Once a sacred Muslim stimulant, its formulation closely guarded, now the world can hardly imagine life without the rich indulgence of coffee and its firm grip on our circadian rhythms. Bitter, nutty, earthy and woody — approaching caramel and chocolate but never quite reach the extremes of confection — coffee's layered and dramatic aromas are... continue reading


2012 TAPAS Spanish and Portuguese Varieties Tasting: June 9, 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


Domaine Marcel Deiss, Alsace: Current Releases

Alsace, the oft-contested and much-coveted skinny strip of land between northeastern France and its neighbor Germany, is an odd and unique place. Like several other such zones around the world, it has been a part of so many different countries and empires that it enjoys a sort of twilight zone atmosphere, where place names reflect one language, spoken words another, and family histories often both or none of the above. Alsace is also a unique landscape sculpted by both rivers and volcanic events, but bearing the unmistakable and essential traces of a more ancient geological past as the bottom of... continue reading


Vinography Images: Manicured Napa

Manicured Napa OAKVILLE, CA: Rows of neatly trimmed Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines are seen just before harvest time in Napa 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... continue reading


California Grape Shortage - Fact or Fiction?

"Panic! Wine Prices Due to Rise" read a recent headline on TIME Magazine's website. Welcome to the absurd states of America. That TIME Magazine, not generally known for sarcastic titling, would be reporting on the subtleties of the wine grape market is surprise enough, but the suggestion that Americans care enough about wine to panic simply boggles the mind. According to the statistics released by several sources, including the United States Department of Agriculture as well as The Wine Institute, California (which produces 90% of American wine) indeed faces a grape shortage. These statistics arrive each year in the inboxes... continue reading


The Essence of Wine: Watermelon

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch Its flavors hold memories of long days, green grass, laughter, and innocence. Of all summer fruits, none holds more spirit of childish delight than watermelon. The crisp red, or more exotic yellow, tantalize with promises of thirst-quenching, lip-smacking sweetness beneath the green rind. In the world of wine, the flavors of watermelon are most often found in the luscious brightness of rosés. In the brief flirtation of skin and juice that produces these delightful wines, we receive aromas most magical, where a sip can echo the gratification of sinking your teeth into a half-moon of... continue reading


Hungarian Wine Judging

As some of you know, I've just spent the last few days holed up on top of a hill overlooking the plains of Hungary tasting several hundred Hungarian wines and passing judgement upon them. An 11th Century abbey that also happens to be a world heritage site makes for a pretty impressive spot to be passing judgement, it turns out. I'm participating as a judge for something called the Pannon Wine Challenge. Now in its 13th year, this contest is effectively the main national competition for Hungarian wines. Two years ago the event was taken over by a gentleman named... continue reading


Vinography Images: Russian River Expanse

Russian River Expanse HEALDSBURG, CA: An aerial view of some of Sonoma County's Russian River Valley wine region near Healdsburg. Some of California's top Pinot Noir and Chardonnays come from this soil, which ranges from hillsides to old floodplains such as this one. 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... continue reading


2012 Paso Robles Wine Festival: May 18-20, Paso Robles

Anyone who hasn't yet discovered Paso Robles wines is missing some of California's most robust and dynamic red wines. Whether you count yourself among that group looking to learn more, or you consider yourself a die hard fan, you'll not want to miss the 30th annual Paso Robles Wine Festival. Once a sleepy undiscovered little wine town, Paso Robles has become the epicenter of a wine explosion in the last decade with wineries popping up like Spring crocuses every year. The limestone terroir of western Paso Robles in particular is producing some absolutely stunning Rhone-syle wines that every wine lover... continue reading


The Essence of Wine: White Flowers

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch One of life's great, mysterious pleasures can be encountered on a temperate summer evening in certain places in the world, when from out of the darkness, comes the incredible scent of flowers on the night breeze. The universe of fragrant white flowers contains an amazing array of enchanting scents — tuberose, jasmine, acacia, gardenia, orange blossom, and lilly of the valley are just a few sources of these aromas, whose dynamic range spans angelic delicacy and raw, powerful sexuality. Such scents make regular appearances most often in white wines — both sweet and dry —... continue reading


Weingut Nikolaihof, Wachau, Austria: Current Releases

There are certain places in this world that feel as if they exist outside of time. Or perhaps they exist inside of time but move much slower than the world around them. As I stepped through the doorway into the inner courtyard of Weingut Nikolaihof, a stones throw from the Danube, and saw the morning light filtering down through the century-old linden tree, the world narrowed down to this quiet bounded space. Gravel crunched under my feet, and there was a stillness as I gazed up at the bell tower that spoke of the building's storied past as part of... continue reading


Off to Hungary to Judge, Taste, and Learn

It was 2005. I was in New York City on business, and convinced (not that I had to twist his arm) my business partner to come to a restaurant called Cru with me for the first time. I had been reading about Cru for years, and positively salivated at glimpses their wine list online. To make a long story short, Robert Bohr suggested a bottle of Furmint. It was my first taste of the grape outside of Tokaji dessert wine, of which I had tasted only a few at that point as well. I swooned, and reviewed the wine on... continue reading


Napa Royalty: Tasting the Wines of Oakville

While often considered a single "place" when it comes to wine, Napa is hardly a monolithic growing region. Each of its 14 established AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) lays claim to a separate identity, characterized by geology, microclimate, and different histories of production. The Oakville AVA has one of the most storied of such histories. It is home to the famed To Kalon Vineyard, purchased by H.W. Crabb in 1868, shortly after the installation of a railroad stop made the tiny village of Oakville spring to life. In 1876 Crabb's neighbor John Benson bottled his inaugural vintage of Far Niente wine... continue reading


Vinography Images: Mendocino Ridges

Mendocino Ridges MENDOCINO COUNTY, CA: The relatively new Mendocino Ridges AVA (American Viticultural Area) is a unique, non-contiguous wine growing region that is home to Mariah Vineyards, seen from above here, as well as several other wineries. High in the coastal mountains of Mendocino County, these wineries lie above the Pacific fog line under cool air and brilliant sun. 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... continue reading


15th Annual Anderson Valley Pinot Festival: May 18-20, 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. The second is the annual Pinot Noir Festival. If you're a fan of Pinot Noir... continue reading


The Essence of Wine: Buttered Popcorn

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch Unmistakably redolent of American childhood, nothing quite compares to the scent of freshly popped corn drenched in movie theater butter. Adored or reviled, and sometimes both at once, for its rich, guilty pleasure, buttered popcorn seems to trip the most primal triggers for indulgence and comfort. The creamy, salty, toasty scent entices no less richly in the aromas of wine than it does in a cinema lobby. This unique aroma most often results from the complex chemistry between the toasted oak of a barrel and the remarkable bacteria that convert tart, green-apple malic acid into... 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

April 2016

          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Most Recent Entries

You Can't Make This Wine Shit Up! Starter Wine Cellars for New Facebook Millionaires The Essence of Wine: Mint Futo Wines, Napa: Current Releases Vinography Images: Carneros Cool Zoltan Demeter, Tokaj, Hungary: Current Releases The Essence of Wine: Espresso 2012 TAPAS Spanish and Portuguese Varieties Tasting: June 9, San Francisco Domaine Marcel Deiss, Alsace: Current Releases Vinography Images: Manicured Napa

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