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~ December 2012 Archives ~

 

12.29.2012

2004 Craggy Range "The Quarry" Bordeaux Blend, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

New Zealand is certainly a land of surprises. A relatively compact landmass, it seems to possess every possible topography and climate. Tropical rainforests, glaciers, arid plains, high deserts, rich low country farmlands, coastal beaches, and alpine foothills, to name just a few. While the country may perhaps be known best for its cool-climate winegrowing, it should really come as no surprise that its winegrowing regions mirror the diversity of its larger geography. The fact that the country has a growing region with a climate like Bordeaux or the upper Rhone Valley (minus some annual moisture), however, still remains somewhat under... continue reading

12.28.2012

Vinography Images: Vineyard Geometry

Vineyard Geometry HEALDSBURG, CA: An aerial shot of the popular grape-growing region, Alexander Valley and a view of Stonestreet winery's tree-lined driveway. Though under pressure from urban sprawl, Sonoma County has become in recent years a popular global wine and food destination. 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... continue reading

12.26.2012

Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 23, 2012

Welcome to the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better wine samples that have crossed my doorstep recently. This week's samples included further proof that Syrah is not dead in the form of two excellent wines, one from Napa, the other from the Central Coast of California. Now whether anyone will buy them is another matter, but at $15 (in some outlets) the Morgan Syrah is definitely a steal, and the Spring Mountain Syrah is worth its heftier price tag as well. A nice Aszu Eszenscia wine is worth seeking out as well, made from... continue reading

12.25.2012

Suvla Vineyards, Gallipoli, Turkey: Current Releases

Walking through the front door of Suvla Vineyards' immaculate visitors center on Turkey's Gallipoli peninsula a visitor familiar with California wine country might experience a brief and intense moment of dislocation. This especially if they had spent time visiting other wineries in the area, whose hospitality facilities ranged from modest terra cotta bars, to polished modern architecture. None that I visited so unnervingly matched the crisp and bountiful offerings of the trendiest wineries in California. Walls of olive oil bottles, freshly filled from the winery's stone press alternate with preserved vegetables and fruits, as well as lovingly showcased examples of... continue reading

12.22.2012

The December Soap Opera of Wine

Someone once told me that the three most popular types of shows on American public television were, in the following order: shows about sharks, shows about lions, and shows about the British Royal Family. I have no idea whether this is still true, or whether it was ever true, but I've always remembered it because it says something to me about our affinity for blood in the water, both literal and figurative. The wine world can hardly compete with sharks and lions, but we've had our share of royal fascinations recently. I can hardly remember three weeks in the wine... continue reading

12.21.2012

Vinography Images: The Frontier

The Frontier PASO ROBLES, CA: A series of new vineyard plantings help to reshape the rolling hills near Paso Robles, California, expanding the frontier of wine grapes in the area, which recently had one of its most successful harvests yet in 2012. 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... continue reading

12.19.2012

The Essence of Wine: Licorice

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch Many of the world's true delicacies walk the razor's edge between danger and deliciousness. Licorice is not fugu, of course, but too much of this innocuous little confection can lead to everything from hypertension to liver failure. On the other hand, apart from being tasty, this extract from a woody-looking root has been used as medicine for centuries, and continues to be today. Most, of course, encounter not the physic but the candy: a drop, a vine, or a chew — some salty, some sweet — but all offering that unique pungency which speaks in... continue reading

12.19.2012

Alder's American Wines of the Year

One of my embarrassing personal secrets has always been that I have a lousy memory for what I drink. People often ask me, have you had this or that wine, and quite often my answer involves fumbling for my mobile phone in an attempt to search my own website to answer the question. Half the reason I have my blog in the first place derives from my desire to perform just such an operation, since paging through several years' worth of Moleskine notebooks hardly provides a practical way to answer such a query. I write things down, or more often,... continue reading

12.18.2012

Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 16th 2012

Welcome to the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better wine samples that have crossed my doorstep recently. This week's samples included a Riesling I enjoyed very much even though I suspect it might have been slightly oxidized. It was a 2010 vintage but tasted 5 to 10 years old at least -- which is to say, quite pleasurable, but my suspicion is that I didn't get a perfect bottle. But that didn't particularly matter to my palate. Don't miss the incredible value represented by the Pierre Sparr white blend from Alsace, which offers a... continue reading

12.17.2012

Cantine Ferrari, Trentino, Italy: Entry-Level Wines

Who knows what it is, exactly, about sparkling wine that entices us so. But go to any wine region around the world, and you're bound to find someone making sparkling wine there (for better or worse). Most, even the best contenders, have a hard time holding a candle to the benchmarks of Champagne. There are a select few regions and producers outside of France, however, that manage to make sparkling wines that are truly exceptional. Two of them (at least) are in Italy, and this is the story of one of them. At the turn of the 20th century, Champagne... continue reading

12.15.2012

Vinography Images: The Cellar

The Cellar OAKVILLE, CA: The oak barrel wine room at Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa, which attempted to capture the prestige of a European wine Chateau, while at the same time defining a uniquely American "Wine Country" lifestyle. 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... continue reading

12.12.2012

2011 Tatomer "Paragon" Gruner Veltliner, Edna Valley

When you meet some winemakers, who are seemingly making a living at a pursuit borne entirely of passion, it's hard not to look at success in their chosen field as a product of luck. Many of them will encourage this impression, speaking honestly of how lucky they are to be doing what they love, and to have been successful at it. The younger they are, the more likely they are to talk this way. Such surfaces belie the deeper truth of what it takes to really make it as a winemaker -- the incredible amount of work, persistence, and knowledge... continue reading

12.10.2012

A Firestorm of Speculation Over Robert Parker's "Retirement"

Twitter and the Blogosphere erupted with chatter this morning as Lettie Teague's article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Big Shake-Up at Robert Parker's Wine Advocate" hit the paper's web site. Teague reported that Parker "intends to phase out the print version of the newsletter" and begin accepting advertising, as part of a series of changes that will correspond with "selling a 'substantial interest' in the Wine Advocate to a trio of Singapore-based investors who will take over its day-to-day financial operations." Teague went on to suggest that the company's headquarters would be moved to Singapore as a result. But... continue reading

12.09.2012

Turkish Wine: Some Tasting Notes

I have fond memories of the two weeks I spent in Turkey during early November. As some of you know, I visited to attend the European Wine Bloggers Conference, and to explore a bit of the Turkish wine country. I'm in the process of writing up a few more profiles of individual wineries, but thought I'd share my tasting notes from a large number of the Turkish wines I tasted throughout my time in Turkey. Without also preempting another future blog post which will contain my deeper impressions of Turkish Wine, here are some short thoughts on the state of... continue reading

12.08.2012

Smith Madrone Winery, Napa: Current Releases

There are more legends, stories, fairytales, and fables than anyone could count that all involve some guy up on a mountainside somewhere. Sometimes a hermit, sometimes a wizard, sometimes a troll -- sometimes just an old man who went to sleep under a tree for a long, long time. No matter what the story, there's always something a little different about the guy on the mountain, something that is both scary and alluring at the same time. Stu Smith might be living out yet another version of one of these tales. The fact that Stu sports a big gray and... continue reading

12.07.2012

Vinography Images: Old Vine Abstract

Old Vine Abstract HEALDSBURG, CA: Dormant grapevines are left a muddy mess after a relentess five-day storm on December 2, 2012, in the Russian River Valley. More than a 18 inches of rain fell during a period of five days. Forecasters are called it "The Pineapple Express," or a "river of moisture." 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... continue reading

12.04.2012

The Essence of Wine: Melon

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch The melon is hard to ignore. Its fullness, dangling awkwardly at the end of a slender vine seems to make a conspicuous show of fecundity and the promise of interior treasures. And what treasures they are. The perfectly ripe melon — its pale green, yellow, or orange flesh dripping with nectar — instantly recommends itself as a food fit for royalty or the gods themselves. In Japan, though imported from its Arabic and African homeland relatively recently, melons have become oddly both an expensive corporate gift, and symbolic of the final taste of this world... continue reading

12.03.2012

Pasaeli Winery, Izmir, Turkey: Current Releases

At the age of 17, Seyit Karagozoglu was far from home. For three years he had been away from his native Turkey at a boarding school in Switzerland. His father, a tobacco dealer, wanted him to receive an international education. One weekend in his third year, Karagozoglu's father came to visit, and they went out to dinner. His father ordered a bottle of Musigny, and gave the young man a glass. "It was the first time I had ever had a French wine, and I remember the taste to this day. How could a wine be this good?" says Karagozoglu.... continue reading

12.03.2012

Evil in Montalcino

Words can't express the utter perfidy of the act I learned about this morning via a tweet from @vinoroma, a fellow blogger who lives in Italy. According to more than one Italian web site, in the middle of last night, someone broke into the cellar of Gianfranco Soldera in Montalcino, Italy, and opened the taps on all of his barrels, spilling every vintage from 2007 to 2012 onto the floor for a complete loss. To do this to any winemaker would be almost as bad as murdering his children. To have it happen to literally one of the best wines... continue reading

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Most Recent Entries

2004 Craggy Range "The Quarry" Bordeaux Blend, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand Vinography Images: Vineyard Geometry Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 23, 2012 Suvla Vineyards, Gallipoli, Turkey: Current Releases The December Soap Opera of Wine Vinography Images: The Frontier The Essence of Wine: Licorice Alder's American Wines of the Year Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 16th 2012 Cantine Ferrari, Trentino, Italy: Entry-Level Wines

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.