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~ October 2012 Archives ~

 

10.30.2012

The Essence of Wine: Bread

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch Science suggests that the smell of freshly baked bread calms us and stimulates the brain the same ways as music and art. But did we really need science to know this? Bread has always meant comfort, home, and basic sustenance for human beings, and few culinary pleasures rival the aromas, taste, and texture of a loaf right out of the oven (growing ranks of celiac notwithstanding). Oxygen, time, oak, and grape variety all contribute to the fact that some wines smell and taste of breadstuffs. Champagne in particular, especially with age, acquires notes of saltine... continue reading

10.27.2012

Bonny Doon Vineyards: Syrah is not Dead, and Other Matters

There's just something about Randall Grahm that demands only the use of adjectives pulled off of a rack clearly bearing the label "erudite." The man isn't busy, he's peripatetic. He's not merely opinionated, he's irrepressible. More so than many winemakers, an afternoon's conversation with Grahm seems likely to range deep and wide across philosophic, economic, political, literary, and scientific domains. And that's before you even start talking about the wine. "I can't be consistent, I can't stay on message. How boring is that? I try to be a little more focused but.... " Grahm trails off with a smile. Grahm... continue reading

10.26.2012

Vinography Images: Ready for Pruning

Ready for Pruning ALEXANDER VALLEY, CA: A Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard lays dormant during winter in Sonoma County. In a few short months most of Northern California wine country will look like this. 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... continue reading

10.25.2012

Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 22, 2012

Welcome to this week's installment of my new feature, Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better wine samples that have crossed my doorstep recently. This weeks samples included a rather austere Hunter Valley Semillon from Australia. The Hunter Valley is known for its Shiraz and Semillon, and this little number from Brokenwood tasted completely ageless, and was quite a palate shocker. On the other end of the spectrum, a 6 Puttonyos Tokaji Aszu from Grof Degenfeld, a well known Hungarian producer was liquid sunshine on the tongue. Don't miss the Alta Maria Vineyards Pinot Noir (now releasing their... continue reading

10.24.2012

The Essence of Wine: Pears

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch Which is a better testament to its glory? That the oldest languages we know all have a word for "pear?" Or that its growing patterns spread like alluvial fans along the world's most ancient trade routes? We've apparently been charmed by this awkwardly bulbous fruit since prehistoric times, when its dangling, fulsome ripeness must have been a welcome gift in the wilderness. Time and the experimental flights of our own fancy have produced thousands of varieties, with hues from purple to white, and with characters that are equally diverse. But from the translucent-skinned, velvety Bartlett,... continue reading

10.22.2012

Hang Out With America's Top Wine Writers. For Free.

One of the great perks of having been at this wine writing thing for some time involves my association with the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, for which I am now a member of its board of advisors (just by way of a disclaimer in advance of the plug which follows). And one of the great pleasures of this association is getting to spend a few days every year attending the convocation that occurs under this association's banner, nestled into the luxurious surroundings of Meadowood Resort in the Napa Valley. I've been to all of these Symposiums in the last... continue reading

10.21.2012

A Conversation with Winemaker Ted Lemon

A couple of months ago, I had the great pleasure of being on a panel at the West of West Wine Festival in Occidental, California, which was an intimate gathering of winemakers from what many call "The True" Sonoma Coast. In addition to sitting on that panel, and getting the chance to taste the wines on offer at the tasting (notes will be forthcoming). I also got a chance to sit and listen to several of the sessions on offer. One of them was an interview with Littorai owner and winemaker Ted Lemon conducted by my friend and illustrious wine... continue reading

10.19.2012

Vinography Images: Sea of Vines

Sea of Vines ANDERSON VALLEY, CA: The Navarro Vineyards sign peeks out from a sea of vines in Mendocino County's Anderson Valley at mid-summer. 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

10.17.2012

The Essence of Wine: Umami

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch The fifth taste. The molecular expression of savory deliciousness that explains what bacon, chicken soup, and sautéed mushrooms all have in common. Unlike many of the things we taste, which are more aromas than tastes, the flavor known as umami is perceived directly by the taste buds. Perhaps for this reason it can be just as much a sensation—a sudden rush of mouthwatering goodness—as an actual flavor. Originally discovered by a Japanese researcher looking to explain one of the distinct qualities of his country's cuisine, umami exists everywhere. Sometimes the product of cooking, sometimes the... continue reading

10.17.2012

Just How Perfect is California's 2012 Wine Vintage?

Most California winemakers are far too busy tending their bubbling tanks and barrels to hold press conferences at this time of year, but trust me when I say those press conferences are going to come at some point, replete with the kinds of superlatives that only the most triumphant of vintages can elicit. Simply put, 2012 will be one of the best vintages California has seen for decades. It certainly represents one of the first vintages in a long time that requires neither circumspection from those who think they could have made better wine had conditions been better, nor cautious... continue reading

10.15.2012

Garagiste Winemakers Tasting: November 10, Paso Robles

One of my favorite pastimes involves tasting wines made by small winemakers who either are just beginning their journeys to becoming more established, or those who are deliberately small and will always remain that way. And by deliberately small, I mean they make a couple of hundred cases of wine, have no tasting room and no vineyards to their name. California is full of these sorts of wineries, and while not all of them are great, these small estate-less wine brands can make some truly excellent wines. Every region of the state plays host to some of these wine labels,... continue reading

10.12.2012

Vinography Images: Canadian Wine

Canadian Wine BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA: A Canadian flag blows in the wind amongst the grapevines growing along the shore of Okanagan Lake in this Okanagan Valley photo. The Okanagan Valley has quickly become Canada's number one wine country travel destination, and a source of excellent Pinot Noir and aromatic white wines. 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

10.11.2012

Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 7, 2012

Welcome to this week's installment of my new feature, Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better wine samples that have crossed my doorstep recently. This weeks samples included a number of great values from France, South Africa, and Italy. I was particularly impressed with the Laurentaise Corbieres, a very pretty little wine from the Languedoc, which I was unfortunately unable to find for sale online anywhere, but keep your eye out for it as it's a phenomenal value. The Chateau Chambert was a nice surprise, as it avoided the trap of austerity and stiffness into which lot of... continue reading

10.09.2012

2012 Pinot on the River Festival: Oct 21, 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, harvest will be a languorous process this year, thanks to nearly perfect weather. 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 glass of wine. Which is why, I suppose, around this time of year we are treated to the... continue reading

10.08.2012

MORIC, Burgenland, Austria: Current Releases

One of the greatest pleasures in the life of the truly wine-curious emerges in the revelatory taste -- that moment when an unknown wine hits the palate and assails the mind with an unexpected intensity of interest, complexity, and pleasure. The pursuit of such moments motivates much of my tasting, and various shades of this experience prove the most important rewards of the thousands of hours and thousands of wines I spend on my wine activities. I had tasted Blaufrankisch before my first sip of the wines from MORIC, but if you'll pardon the poetry, I had never really tasted... continue reading

10.07.2012

The World's Best Champagne?: Tasting Bubbly with The Masters of Wine

There was a time I didn't care for Champagne. Now, a week doesn't go by without me wishing I had more Champagne in my modest little cellar. But perhaps even more often than that, I find myself wanting a glass in my hand. Champagne, it turns out -- at least when it's good, has all of my favorite things when it comes to wine: texture, complexity, savoriness, and acidity. My particular problem, however, is that I tend to find these qualities most concentrated with, and in direct correlation to, the price of the bottle. Turns out that I have Champagne... continue reading

10.05.2012

Vinography Images: The Old Barn

The Old Barn SONOMA COUNTY, CA: An old vineyard barn in the Russian River Valley shines in the afternoon summer sun near Healdsburg, CA. Structures like this one often cannot be torn down, no matter how old they get, as they are designated historic buildings in Sonoma County. 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.... continue reading

10.03.2012

The Essence of Wine: Apples

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch In one simple fruit are all man's sins remembered. Dully reflected in the freckled orb we have witnessed some of our deepest archetypes. Forbidden knowledge, betrayal, murder, immortality, respect, sustenance, even civilization itself. Doubtless the first tree to be cultivated by humankind, the apple is woven indelibly into the history of our species, as symbol, as food, and as medicine. Mythological history aside, we have been remaking the fruit for thousands of years, to the point that it truly represents the diversity of our whims and tastes as a people. More than 7500 different varieties... continue reading

10.02.2012

2012 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting: October 17, San Francisco

I beat the drum a lot about public wine tastings. They are the best way for wine lovers to educate their palates. Period. There's just no substitute for tasting a lot of wines in a single "sitting" to learn what the differences are, and more importantly, what you like. One of the other nice things about public tastings, put on as they are by big organizations, or in this case, publications, is that they often allow you to taste wines that you might not get a chance to taste otherwise for some reason -- whether that is because of their... continue reading

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Most Recent Entries

The Essence of Wine: Bread Bonny Doon Vineyards: Syrah is not Dead, and Other Matters Vinography Images: Ready for Pruning Vinography Unboxed: Week of October 22, 2012 The Essence of Wine: Pears Hang Out With America's Top Wine Writers. For Free. A Conversation with Winemaker Ted Lemon Vinography Images: Sea of Vines The Essence of Wine: Umami Just How Perfect is California's 2012 Wine Vintage?

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.