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~ June 2013 Archives ~



Vinography Images: Green Berries

Green Berries HEALDSBURG, CA: Young, green pinot noir grapes growing in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma. An unseasonably warm spring this year has accelerated the growth of grapevines all over the state. 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... continue reading


Tasting the Stars of Trento: A Vertical Tasting of Cantine Ferrari

At the turn of the 20th century, people everywhere set their dreams adrift in the currents of a new era, hoping or feverishly working for a future that matched their visions. One man, born in the mountains of northern Italy was beginning a quest of historic proportions. Giulio Ferrari was in love with wine. But not just with any wine. He loved wine with bubbles. These days, sparkling wines are commonplace, and so beloved around the world that a majority of the world's wine regions produce them. But back in 1898, sparkling wine was still largely the province of, if... continue reading


The Essence of Wine: Green Wood

Image © 2013 Leigh Beisch A childhood spent out-of-doors yields memories of many scents, including the vivid astringency that marked forested adventures, especially with a pocket knife in hand. A well-whittled stick. The peeled curve of willow strung with makeshift bowstring. The gnawed end of a green twig. The sharp green scent of freshly stripped bark hangs between woody and herbal, even approaching fruity in its most juicy form, and can often feature in wine, especially from cooler climes or chilly vintages. When grapes struggle to ripen, or when they are deliberately picked on the doorstep of ripeness, they retain... continue reading


2013 West of West - The Sonoma Coast Wine Festival: August 2-4, Sebastopol, CA

Cool climate has become a popular catchphrase in the world of wine, thanks, in part, to global warming trends that threaten some popular wine regions' abilities to produce their traditional wines in the same styles to which they are accustomed. But serious wine lovers have also long known that great wine can often come from the very fringes of possibility -- places or situations where grapes struggle to survive, let alone bear ripe fruit. As winemaking traditions migrated from the old world, where grapes are planted "where they have always been planted," to the new world, where intrepid winemakers sought... continue reading


Wine and the Power of Ritual

You carefully swirl the glass, gazing intently as the wine arcs its way along the balloon of the glass. You put it to your nose and inhale deeply with your eyes closed. Depending on who's watching, these are the actions of an ardent enthusiast, a poseur, or an utter snob. The careful swirling and sniffing of wine is only one of its many rituals. The pull of a cork, the pop of champagne, the clinking glasses of a toast -- they all have their meanings and their place in the fabric of wine appreciation. The serious wine lover has no... continue reading


Massican Wines, Napa: Current Releases

Let's begin with the fact that, in my opinion, Dan Petroski makes the single best bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the entire state of California. In a world full of superlatives and cliché, I cringe whenever I find myself saying things like "it blew my mind" but his Sauvignon Blanc really did blow my mind the first time I tasted it. This wine makes you want to violently grab your nearest Napa winemaker (whose 14.5% alcohol, 100% New French Oak Sauvignon Blanc sells out every year) by the lapels and shake them, shouting, "Why the hell can't you make wine... continue reading


Vinography Images: Across the Lake

Across the Lake LOWER LAKE, CA: The rolling hillside vineyards of Vigilance Winery, overlooking Clear Lake, near Lower Lake, California. Though much warmer than Napa or Sonoma, in recent years Lake County has become known for affordable quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and increasingly for Rhone varieties as well. 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... continue reading


Drinking Wine While Pregnant: The Latest

A couple of the most commented on and most controversial posts I've ever written were entitled Wine and Pregnancy: The Facts, which referenced an article by the late Israeli wine critic Daniel Rogov about the subject, and a post entitled More on Wine and Pregnancy, which reacted to a more recent article in the news. Both of these posts still get comments today, many years after they were written. Of course most of them are people decrying how horrible it was to encourage people to have a glass of wine while pregnant. You see, here in the highly moral society... continue reading


2013: A Sunny US Vintage So Far

On 10 June, the skies above Napa and Sonoma crackled and boomed with the rare sounds of a spring thunderstorm (image by ~Prescott). Within 24 hours, the more than 200 lightning strikes in Northern California had ignited dozens of small wildfires. Luckily the fires were quickly contained and threatened no vineyards or homes, but the surreal evening was yet one more event in what has been an unusual beginning to the 2013 vintage in California. 'That was a very weird event', says winemaker Aaron Pott. 'It reminded me of Bordeaux.' Pott, who makes wines for many labels in Napa including... continue reading


Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases

Andrea Franchetti is worrying about a door. It's two days before the Contrada dell'Etna, the main seasonal tasting of Etna wines, and Franchetti is hosting the event at his winery, in the new salon behind his main winery building. A crew of workers is busy pressure testing the fountain that has also recently been installed in the courtyard in the fading light of the afternoon. My Italian is poor, so I can't quite tell just how annoyed the soft-spoken Franchetti is, but it's clear he's not happy that the doors to his tasting salon are hanging a good inch... continue reading


Vinography images: Two Skies

Two Skies PHILO, CA: The irrigation pond at Navarro Vineyards reflects the brilliant blue skies above the Anderson Valley. Located three hours north of San Francisco, Mendocino County has a rustic appeal for tourists who make the arduous drive through redwood forests and rolling hills of vineyards and oak trees. 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... continue reading


France, WTF?!?

There are times when those we love need tenderness, affection, and understanding. That's probably most of the time. But then there are times when we see the people we care about making horrible mistakes, again and again and again. And then it's time for some tough love. So here goes. France, what the fuck do you think you're doing? Are you completely and utterly insane? Are you really going to let these extremist anti-alcohol bastards drive your already ailing wine industry into the grave? For a country that supposedly cares a lot about its cultural heritage, you seem altogether sanguine... continue reading


2013 Pinot Days Tasting: June 30, San Francisco

It's June, and that means one thing when it comes to wine in San Francisco: Pinot Noir. For the past nine years, June has played host to PinotDays, a celebration of the grape that brings wineries and wine lovers together for a couple of days of tasting and education. There was a time when San Francisco had no large-scale tasting of Pinot Noir, but those days seem a distant memory, now in a post-Sideways world. Every year members of the wine-drinking public can spend an afternoon wandering in a sea of Pinot Noir, as 140 different producers (primarily California, but... continue reading


Italy's Best Wines? Tasting at OperaWine 2013

I've often said that if forced to choose a single country, I'd drink the wines of Italy for the rest of my life, forsaking all others. It wouldn't be an easy choice, mind you, but in that proverbial gun-to-the-head scenario, I could certainly face my fate with a certain amount of equanimity, knowing I could range from Lombardy to Sicily for the rest of my life. Yes, I love Italian wine, and I'm not afraid to admit it. That's why, when I got the chance to show up a couple days before VinItaly this year to attend an event... continue reading


Fromm Winery, Marlborough, New Zealand: Current Releases

When was the last time you thanked the Cold War for giving you a great glass of wine? It's not an everyday occurrence for me either, but with the afternoon sunlight streaming in over my shoulder as winemaker Hätsch Kalberer passionately described what was behind the wine I had in my glass, the idea that this pleasurable Pinot was due, in some measure, to the threat of nuclear annihilation made me smile all the wider. (In fact, it turns out that Marlborough Pinot Noir as a whole owes a lot to the nuclear arms race, but hold that thought for... continue reading


Vinography Images: Green Gold

Green Gold NAPA, CA: Steep Mt. Veeder hillside cabernet sauvignon vineyards, owned by The Hess Collection Winery, gleam like treasure in the sun. Though off the beaten track, The Hess Collection Winery, is home to one of Napa Valley's most important contemporary art collections. 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... continue reading


2013 Tempranillo Advocates Tasting: June 23, San Francisco

Given the similarities between the climates in Northern California and some parts of Spain and Portugal, one has to wonder why there aren't more Spanish and Portuguese grape varieties planted in California. The same might be said about Italian grape varieties, but they dwarf the plantings of Spanish grapes in California. There are almost three times as many acres of Sangiovese planted in California than there are Tempranillo. And let's not even talk about Pinot Grigio, shall we? Instead I'd rather talk about Touriga Nacional or Mencia or Graciano or Verdelho. Despite minuscule plantings throughout the state, these grape varieties... continue reading


2011 Napa Cabernet: Through the Lens of Auction Napa Valley

The event called Auction Napa Valley is actually three auctions in one. I wrote yesterday about the fireworks at this year's auction, which smashed all previous records of charitable giving. But that account focused primarily on the live auction, where more than 40 different star-studded lots are auctioned off by charismatic live auctioneers. While that part of the auction is quite the spectacle, my attendance at the event every year remains focused on the less glamorous barrel auction, in which barrels of wine are auctioned off, a case at a time to the 10 highest bidders by the time... continue reading


2013 Napa Valley Wine Auction Blows it Out of the Water

Every charity auction wants the next year to be greater than the last. To raise more money, to dazzle more, to drive its attendees into a deeper furor of irrational generosity (to borrow a phrase). This year's Auction Napa Valley managed to succeed on all these fronts. I've been attending the auction regularly since 2005 to watch high rollers spend incredible sums of money on crazy collections of stuff, all in the name of giving to charity, and I can say without a doubt that this was the best I've seen. And not just because the auction raised $16.9... 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

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Most Recent Entries

Vinography Images: Green Berries Tasting the Stars of Trento: A Vertical Tasting of Cantine Ferrari The Essence of Wine: Green Wood 2013 West of West - The Sonoma Coast Wine Festival: August 2-4, Sebastopol, CA Wine and the Power of Ritual Massican Wines, Napa: Current Releases Vinography Images: Across the Lake Drinking Wine While Pregnant: The Latest 2013: A Sunny US Vintage So Far Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases

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