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~ January 2013 Archives ~

 

01.29.2013

Matt Kramer: Can Atheists Make Great Pinot Noir?

As some of you know, I'm down in Wellington, New Zealand, attending the New Zealand Pinot Noir 2013 conference. It was kicked off on Monday by two keynote addresses. The first, was by actor and winegrower Sam Neill, but the second was by wine writer Matt Kramer. I immensely enjoy Matt's writing, and have for years. In some ways his columns in the Wine Spectator were an inspiration to me as I fumbled about trying to teach myself how to write about wine in ways that made sense to me. His keynote delivered just what many of us have come... continue reading

01.28.2013

Hawkes Bay Merlot: Worth the Effort?

Continuing my coverage of my time spent last week in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, we come to the opportunity to contemplate the most widely planted grape in the region, and what it may offer. Of the slightly more than 11,800 vineyard acres in the Hawkes Bay, more than 2500 are planted to Merlot. Merlot has long featured in the region's Bordeaux-style blends, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and occasionally Petite Verdot. In most wines, just as in the Bordeaux regions of Pomerol and St. Emilion, it is the dominant player rather than Cabernet Sauvignon. And, as one might... continue reading

01.27.2013

Actor Sam Neill Gives Advice to Prospective Pinot Winegrowers

"You hire entertainers to give speeches. I don't know who chose me to give a speech but just in case you hadn't noticed, I'm not an entertainer. For heaven's sake, Im the guy who chops a woman's finger off with a blunt axe to make a point." Entertainer or no, Sam Neill's keynote speech to kick off this weeks Pinot 2013 Conference in Wellington New Zealand was riotously funny. For those of you who don't know, Neill is both a Hollywood actor, and also the proprietor of a winery called Two Paddocks in New Zealand's Central Otago wine region. Before... continue reading

01.26.2013

Hawkes Bay Chardonnay Versus the World

Hello from the land of the Kiwi. As some of you know, I'm down here at the bottom of the world exploring the wines of New Zealand for a couple of weeks. It's been about 8 years since I've been to New Zealand, and I'm quite excited to see how the industry has changed and evolved. New Zealand was the first wine region I visited after beginning my odyssey as a wine writer, and I'm sure I've changed a lot, too. I've tasted a good bit of New Zealand wine in the intervening years, but if feels good to be... continue reading

01.25.2013

Vinography Images: All the Green

All the Green MENDOCINO COUNTY, CA: The tree-lined driveway at Bonterra Winery is aglow in many shades of green. 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... continue reading

01.24.2013

Best of the West: Tasting the Wines of the Extreme Sonoma Coast

What are the most exciting wines being made in the state of California? From nooks, crannies, ridges and ruffles of western Sonoma county, some of the country's best Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah wines are being eked out of chilly vineyards by passionate winemakers who are at the vanguard of where wine is going in this state. These winemakers, who have sought out some of the most extreme (read: cold) vineyard sites in Sonoma county, have recently rallied together under the banner of the West Sonoma Coast Vintners Association. In August, they put on their second annual public tasting and... continue reading

01.23.2013

2013 Anderson Valley Alsace Festival: February 9-10, Boonville

With all the fanfare surrounding Cabernet and Pinot Noir coupled with the obsession this country seems to have with Chardonnay, it's sometimes hard for people to remember that California produces a lot of other different kinds of wine. It's even harder, it seems, to get people to drink some of it. Enter what may be the most unique wine festival in California. Some of the most under-appreciated and least consumed wines in the state are those made from grapes like Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Riesling. There aren't a lot of places in California where these grapes thrive, but... continue reading

01.20.2013

Off to New Zealand

I'm excited. I'm about to hop on a plane for New Zealand. It's been about seven, perhaps eight years since I visited, and I'm looking forward to retracing some of my previous steps there, as well as exploring some new areas. Courtesy of Wines of New Zealand, I'm headed down for a series of regional conferences highlighting some of the key elements of the New Zealand wine industry. The Kiwis are quite clever in their scheduling. Knowing that they're a fair haul from most places in the world, they schedule their three main wine events back-to-back, to allow folks like... continue reading

01.18.2013

Vinography Images: Island in the Vines

Island in the Vines LIVERMORE, CA: Cabernet Sauvignon grapes ripen under warm weather in Livermore, California in the shade of high voltage power lines. 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

01.17.2013

Winemaker Musical Chairs

"I've never fired a winemaker, they've always fired themselves. Every one of them has had their own issues," said Don Bryant, proprietor of Bryant Family Wines, when I called him up to talk about the recent departure of his winemaker Helen Keplinger, after just a single vintage on the job. For her part, Keplinger chuckled at the notion of firing herself. "It is interesting to note that over the last 10 years, five winemakers have departed from Bryant - two of them during harvest. It's clear to me that there is a disconnect", she said. The roster of winemakers at... continue reading

01.17.2013

Pinot Days 2013: January 26, New York

Hey New York! What you really need to keep warm in this frigid winter is a little Pinot Noir in your blood. Large public wine tastings are much less common in Manhattan than out here in California, where it seems nearly every couple of weeks there's some opportunity to wander around and taste 500 wines in one shot. So New Yorkers gotta get while the getting is good. For only the second time, the event known as Pinot Days is coming to the Big Apple. While this touring version may be a bit smaller (35 producers) than the massive Pinot... continue reading

01.14.2013

Vinography Turns Nine

My how the time flies. I looked up from my desk today and realized with a shock that today is the day, nine years ago, that I decided to try my hand at writing about wine. Which means I've been writing about wine somewhere between four days a week and seven days a week for nine years, with only a couple of short breaks for my honeymoon, the birth of my daughter, and a long fishing trip in Alaska. Last year I spent a lot of time thinking about what had transpired over the (then eight) years I've been blogging... continue reading

01.13.2013

France In Crisis, Again: Red Wine Ruins the Tour de France

France is on the ropes when it comes to wine. I reported several weeks ago about the looming disaster of the French Wine Cliff, which threatened to send the French wine industry into a death spiral. And now hard on the heels of that reality comes another blow not only to the wine industry, but to a great source of national pride: the Tour de France. Lance Armstrong's formal admission this week that he used performance enhancing drugs provoked outrage and near panic in France, not because of the admission itself, which was widely expected, but because of his disclosure... continue reading

01.11.2013

Vinography Images: Blanket of Fog

Blanket of Fog HEALDSBURG, CA: A thin layer of fog forms in a newly replanted vineyard with Mount St. Helena in the background in the Russian River Valley appellation of 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. To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC... continue reading

01.09.2013

The Essence of Wine: Grapefruit

Image © 2012 Leigh Beisch Pendulous globes of yellow dangling like suns from their leafy boughs must have been tempting indeed to those Barbadians who first named this "the forbidden fruit" of their isle. How far the simple grapefruit, and its parent the pomelo, have come from tropical exotic to breakfast tables everywhere, in their shades of yellow, pink and beryl red. Somehow more sensuous than many other citrus, the pearly texture of grapefruit flesh and its starchy, foamy pith mark it just as much as its flavors, which can vary greatly. Yellow yields a soft sweetness with a woody... continue reading

01.08.2013

Is the Wine Writing World Out of Touch?

So where have all these wine bloggers and writers been living for the past 10 years? Under a rock? Last week, a professor at Michigan State University named Philip Howard made the news by publishing an article with a semi-nifty interactive graphic, entitled Concentration in the U.S. Wine Industry. The article has been tweeted, its graphics stolen and republished (usually with proper credit given to the professor), and dozens of articles have been written by bloggers and mainstream journalists about the "news" that about 50% of the wine sold in America has been produced by just three large companies: E&J... continue reading

01.07.2013

Vinography Unboxed: Week of January 6, 2013

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 the remainder of the group of wines I was recently sent from Alsace producer Pierre Sparr, and I find that over several of these Unboxed postings, I've basically recommended nearly every wine from this producer. None of them are knockout amazing, but they are all quite tasty, and most are fantastic values. I've got another wine in here this week from Dry Creek producer Quivira, a special blend of Zinfandel from their biodynamically... continue reading

01.04.2013

Vinography Images: Vineyard With a View

Vineyard With a View HEALDSBURG, CA: Primitivo vineyards in the Rockpile Appellation are dramatically perched on a hillside overlooking Lake Sonoma near Healdsburg, 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

01.03.2013

2013 ZAP Zinfandel Festival, January 31 - February 2, San Francisco

It's that time of year again. I know of no other event that seems to bring out the inner wine lover in so many San Franciscans more than the annual ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers) Festival. It never ceases to amaze me how many people turn out with such enthusiasm for this single varietal festival. Don't get me wrong. I love Zinfandel -- unabashedly so. But I tend to forget how many other people do too. Especially those that live in San Francisco. Of course it's not just San Franciscans that turn out for this one-of-a-kind weekend. People come from... continue reading

01.02.2013

Vinography Unboxed: Here We Go, 2013!

Welcome to the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better wine samples that have crossed my doorstep recently, and the first edition of 2013. This week's samples included a stellar wine that has quickly become one of Napa's best values, the (slightly difficult to find) "Herrick" red blend from the folks at Conn Creek winery. This bottle is great candidate for a house wine, but sophisticated enough for serious Cabernet drinkers. Quivira, the biodynamic estate in Sonoma's Dry Creek Valley has been producing great wines over the past few years, many of which are excellent... continue reading

01.01.2013

2007 Shafer Vineyards "Hillside Select" Cabernet Sauvignon, Stag's Leap District, Napa

In a family wine business, one of the most crucial moments in the history of the enterprise will always be when the parent decides to hand over control of the family's winery to the next generation. This is a time honored tradition, and one that has marked wine dynasties old and new. In Napa's short modern history (following the end of Prohibition) only a few families have achieved or are even trying to create the kind of family legacy that has ensured the continuing success of many old world wineries. Doug Shafer and his father John Shafer have been working... 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

Matt Kramer: Can Atheists Make Great Pinot Noir? Hawkes Bay Merlot: Worth the Effort? Actor Sam Neill Gives Advice to Prospective Pinot Winegrowers Hawkes Bay Chardonnay Versus the World Vinography Images: All the Green Best of the West: Tasting the Wines of the Extreme Sonoma Coast 2013 Anderson Valley Alsace Festival: February 9-10, Boonville Off to New Zealand Vinography Images: Island in the Vines Winemaker Musical Chairs

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.