Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 4/21/19


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Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren’t Flipboard inclined, here’s everything I’ve strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

How A Digital Negociant Helped Change The U.S. Wine World
The game changer that was Cameron Hughes.

Rancho Sisquoc’s End-of-the-World Wine
Deep in Santa Maria Valley.

Pink Opens Up About Becoming a Winemaker: ‘It’s My Heart Project’
Let’s see how long it takes for Ellen to join the fun.

Bordeaux and Burgundy Head for Dinosaur Status
Affordability (lack thereof) is the asteroid?

Two Wine Pros Weigh In On The State Of Wine Marketing And Sales
People who know of what they speak.

Ever had a wine tour from a geologist?
Prepare to get dirty.

When it comes to wine, weird is …

Vinography Unboxed: Week of 4/14/19


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bigstock-box-of-wine-on-the-plain-backg-26760620.jpgHello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I’m pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week included a couple of world-class values in addition to some tasty wines.

Let’s get started with the Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc, which you can find just about anywhere, and is as satisfying a Sav Blanc as you could ask for at 11 bucks, all green and zippy as you want.

Its partner in crime, so to speak is the Primus Red Blend, which has morphed a bit over the years as the folks at Veramonte play with the blend, but this Carmenere inflected Cabernet always punches way above its weight, and is about as good a wine as there is on this planet for $15 — (List price is 19 but you can …

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Vinography Images: Harvest Moment


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Harvest Moment
GIRONDE, FRANCE: Workers carry grapes to the gondola in the morning light at Chateau Ausone in Gironde on Bordeaux’s Right Bank near Saint-Émilion. Ausone is one of only 4 wines classified as Premier Grand Cru Classé in the Saint-Émilion classification.

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22nd Annual Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival: May 18, Navarro, CA


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PINOT-2019-Poster-11x17_FINAL2_RGB500px_Squarespace.jpgCalifornia 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 has been growing some of Northern California’s best Pinot Noirs for years. But because it is somewhat out of the way, many fewer people visit it than Napa or Sonoma.

But if you ever needed an excuse to go, the best one you can get is the region’s annual Pinot Noir festival.

Not only is this a gorgeous time of year in the Anderson Valley, but the Pinot Noirs on offer include a few of the better ones in the state. This isn’t a huge tasting, and consequently you’ll find very few huge wineries there. Instead you’ll find a bunch …

California Drought Over, For Now


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It’s spring in California wine country.

‘As the vines break bud and come out of dormancy closer to a normal time this year, they’re finding that the fields are fully saturated with water’, says Napa winemaker Aaron Pott of Pott Wines. ‘We have been cutting the tall grass in the vineyard rows and breaking out the weed eaters to get under the vine. The grass is taller than the vines in many areas. With ample water in the soils the growth should be quite fierce this year in the early season.’

From Santa Barbara to Mendocino, birds are chirping, new leaves are unfurling on the vines and we can now say that the state is finally, officially, completely out of its drought. That doesn’t mean scientists have stopped worrying about water in California, however.

‘There are dozens of different definitions of drought and therefore lots of different ways of …

I’ll Drink to That: The Lifetimes of Russel Hone


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Episode 464 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features Russell Hone, who lives and works in Burgundy, France with his wife Becky Wasserman.

Russell Hone has had enough lives for multiple people, with, for instance, his childhood adventures out at night hunting deer in Germany contrasted with the post-war rationing back home in England that meant even simple foods were rare for him. Or his plying of the college circuit, selling wine to Oxford and Cambridge dons while chatting with them about their subjects, versus his time roaming the aisles of city markets, giving out samples of Bulls Blood to anyone who would take them. It has been an up and down life for Russell, and this interview charts both the lows (multiple firings from jobs that just didn’t suit) and the highs (multiple vertical tastings of wines from Leroy and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, among …

Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 4/14/19


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Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren’t Flipboard inclined, here’s everything I’ve strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

Astonishing aerial photos show anti-frost candles to protect French and German vineyards
Beauty even in adversity.

Here’s How Brexit is Affecting Wine Drinkers
After the hoarding, prepare for the smuggling.

How a Tiny Italian Resort Is Reviving Venetian Viticulture
Fortune will write about wine if it’s hard to get.

Wine world needs more urgency on climate change, says Torres
Not just the wine world.

Why New Jersey Doesn’t Let You Buy the Wine You Want
We need about 1000 more stories like this.

To Find the Best of Languedoc, Follow the Producer
Eric Asimov and panel taste the Languedoc.

Why American Winemakers …

Vinography Images: The Light Fantastic


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The Light Fantastic
SAINT-ÉMILION, FRANCE: Light streams through a break in the storm clouds to illumine the vineyards of Chateau Cheval Blanc. Cheval Blanc, which means “white horse” in French, is one of only four estates elevated to the rank of Premier Grand Cru Classé in the classification of Saint-Émilion wine.

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I’ll Drink to That: Geologist Brenna Quigley


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Episode 463 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features Brenna Quigley, a geologist who works as a consultant in the wine industry.

Brenna Quigley is a geologist focused on “hard rocks”, a specialization that seems slippery at first (aren’t all rocks hard?) but listening to Brenna explain the different family groups of rocks and how they may interact with grape vines provides a quick and informed primer into why this sort of distinction is important. She gives a tour through France’s rock formations in this interview, and explains what wine regions correspond to which rock types. She also breaks down (“breaks down” is an inside joke, as it turns out) the origins of soil, and what different types of soil there are out there. Confused as to why some limestone is Jurassic and some other limestone isn’t? Brenna explains the answer to this as well …

Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 4/7/19


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stack_of_news.jpg
Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren’t Flipboard inclined, here’s everything I’ve strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

This California Winery Is Opening a Massive Sculpture Park With Works by Ai Weiwei, Yayoi Kusama, and More Blue-Chip Artists
Looks to be quite the installation.

As Chinese Buy French Vineyards, Names Like Château Imperial Rabbit Rattle Purists
But it sounds so much better in French!

Jeremiah Tower on Champagne in Restaurants
Really the first restaurant to serve Champagne by the glass? Really?

Weighing Up the Value of Biodynamic Wine
If only our scales could tell us….

Napa Staff Shortages Hurting Wineries
In the tasting rooms, now too.

Napa’s Problem is Cars, Not Drought
Yes, but does the board of supervisors know …

Vinography Unboxed: Week of 3/31/19


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bigstock-box-of-wine-on-the-plain-backg-26760620.jpgHello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I’m pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week included a couple of heavy hitters, but before we get to those wines, let’s talk about the opposite of heavy hitters, the light, fresh, crisp ethereal beauty of Riesling.

Two beauties showed up this week, both from Germany. The first, a beautifully dry rendition of Riesling that tastes just like taking a big bite out of a perfectly ripe Asian pear. This Morstein bottling from Driessigacker in the Rheinhessen is everything you want a dry Riesling to be. Deeply mineral and refreshing it will delight anyone who is a fan of the grape.

Likewise, the Kabinett-level Riesling, just slightly sweet, from Dr. Hermann is another excellent example of the form. From the …

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Vinography Images: The Great Expanse


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The Great Expanse
PAUILLAC, FRANCE: The vineyards seem to go on forever under the wide open sky at Château Lafite Rothschild, which has been owned by the Rothschild family since the 19th Century. Lafite, as it is affectionately known, is one of four First Growths established by the 1855 Classification in Bordeaux.

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Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 3/31/19


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stack_of_news.jpg
Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren’t Flipboard inclined, here’s everything I’ve strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

Looking at Steiner in the Rearview Mirror
Perspective on Steiner and the history of knowledge.

Facing fraud charges, Agustin Huneeus gives up control of his Napa Valley wine empire to his 85-year-old father
Either that, or lose it all.

In South Africa, vineyards are the battle ground in a tense racial dispute
It’s complicated.

Michael Lynne, Film Executive and Owner of Long Island’s Bedell Cellars, Dies at 77
He built a legacy of quality.

Meeting the Man Behind Lafite
One of them. A talk with the Technical Director

A High Resolution Look into Winemaking and Wine Growing
Fun images.

Prosecco’s 21st Century …

Vinography Unboxed: Week of 3/24/18


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bigstock-box-of-wine-on-the-plain-backg-26760620.jpgHello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I’m pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week included a pretty little Riesling from Brooks Winery in Oregon, who continue to produce excellent, varietally correct renditions of the grape that range from bone dry to lightly sweet, as this one is. Chilled down it will make any Riesling lover happy.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed every newspaper and wine website in the universe proclaiming that it’s finally rosé season. This is, of course, complete hogwash, as it’s been rosé season for the past 15 years, at least. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you there’s a time of year that ISN’T good for rosé. If you need one to drink soon for under $15, you’d …

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Vinography Images: Moon Over My…Pétrus


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Moon Over My…Pétrus
POMEROL, FRANCE: A harvest moon rises behind the winery at Chateau Pétrus in Pomerol, on Bordeaux’s Right Bank. Pétrus became famous in the late 1800s after winning a gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition, beating out many more famous estates. One of the most expensive and sought-after wines in the world, Pétrus is widely regarded as the single best bottling of Merlot to be found, and remains the shining star of the Pomerol apellation, which has never been classified. Consequently it cannot truly be called a First Growth, though it clearly ranks among them in both price and quality.

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Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 3/24/19


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stack_of_news.jpg
Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren’t Flipboard inclined, here’s everything I’ve strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

Chronicling the Renaissance of Italy’s Alto Piemonte Region
The right time for a comeback.

Ingenious ways to reuse bottles instead of recycling them
The wine world needs more of this.

Personal Observations on Drinking Less Expensive Wine
Tim James goes a’slummin’.

Getting to Know Piquette, a Wine-Adjacent Spritzer
Sounds tasty. I’d like to try some.

Clairette – a rising star?
In South Africa, no less.

Napa’s Rise of the Machines
And most will welcome their new robotic overlords.

St Emilion to Enforce Organic Practices
This would be a seriously important move.

Napa and Sonoma bottles rise to the top of American wine …

Vinography Unboxed: Week of 3/17/19


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bigstock-box-of-wine-on-the-plain-backg-26760620.jpgHello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I’m pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week included a really lovely riesling from the recently anointed Petaluma Gap AVA in Sonoma, just across the top of the San Francisco Bay. Made by Dutton Goldfield it has a wonderfully dry citrus crackle to it.

Dutton Goldfield also sent through one of their classic Chardonnays from their estate property in the Russian River. It’s pretty much a bullseye for those looking for the latest (more restrained) version of California Chardonnay.

Sticking with the Chardonnay theme, I’ve got a bottling from one of the Russian River Valley’s best vineyards, the Ritchie Vineyard, by Ten Acre. It’s a little awkward, but still a pleasurable glass of Chardonnay.

Headed towards red, let’s pause for …

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Vinography Images: Castle Walls


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Castle Walls
SAUTERNES, FRANCE: The setting sun casts shadows through the trees on the crenellated walls of Château d’Yquem in Sauternes, an appellation within the Graves region of Bordeaux. In the famous 1855 Classification of Bordeaux, d’Yquem was the only winery in the Sauternes region to be accorded the status of Premiere Cru Supérieur. Its golden, sweet dessert wines are among the most famous, and long lived, in the world.

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I’ll Drink to That: Winegrower David Hirsch


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Episode 462 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features David Hirsch, the owner of Hirsch Vineyards in the Sonoma Coast of California.

There are several entertaining stories told within this episode, but the one that really makes me laugh – after three listens now – involves a rubber boat, cowboys, barbed wire, and a big batch of Old Crow. At first glance that may seem like a disparate cast of characters for a single story set, but David Hirsch has a knack for weaving a lot of scenery together to convey a place and time. I can say that his ability to cast a binding spell with words is real, because this interview kept drawing me back. If you are late for something you need to get to, do not start listening to this episode: you will not want to stop. If on the other hand …

BC – Sparkling With Confidence


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While this column in both name and purpose focuses on the American wine scene, I find it difficult not to pay some attention to happenings only a stone’s throw across the border. The wine industry in Canada’s province of British Columbia has been developing in earnest for only about the last 30 years, but recently it seems to have shifted into another gear entirely, both in terms of quality and sophistication as an industry.

When I wrote ‘a stone’s throw’ a moment ago, that was not merely a figure of speech. If one were to walk east along the US-Canada border from the most northerly point in Washington state, for most of the next 700 km (435 miles) a single step off the border to the north would land you in BC wine country. Sitting between the 49th and 50th northern parallels, the region sprawls east from Vancouver Island, but …