California’s Volatile Spring


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Grapevines are notoriously hardy organisms. I was recently reminded of this while driving through the back roads of Chile’s Itata region, where, thanks to the golden hues of their autumn leaves, it was easy to see decades- perhaps even centuries-old vines of País growing seemingly everywhere along the roadside and through the surrounding forests, surviving against the considerable odds of neglect and natural competition for resources.

But the conditions for mere survival may be some distance from the tolerances generally considered optimal for the production of fine wine. Indeed, at certain times of the year, Vitis vinifera can be quite a delicate plant as far as winegrowing is concerned. Which is why farmers in California have been gritting their teeth for the past few weeks as heavy late-season rains followed hard by multiple days of sweltering heat arrived just as many vines in California began flowering.

The state of California …

I’ll Drink to That: Burgundy Vigneron Benjamin Leroux


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Episode 467 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features Burgundy vigneron Benjamin Leroux of the winery also named Benjamin Leroux, located in Beaune, France.

Benjamin Leroux began his wine career in 1990 at the age of 15 years old, and took on his first head winemaking job in 1999. In hindsight, it can be said that his winemaking generation was also the generation of climate change. Ben discusses 2003 in this interview, a vintage with unprecendented heat in the summer months. Having recently moved into a new home, Ben had stayed in Burgundy during the customary summer holiday travel time to instead settle into his new place. What he then saw in the vineyards caught him completely by surprise: dark colored grapes and high sugars already in July. Passing a much older vigneron in the vineyard a short time later, the man called out to Ben …

Napa’s Royal Cabernets: The Wines of Oakville


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While often considered a single “place” when it comes to wine, Napa is hardly a monolithic growing region. Each of its 16 established AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) lays claim to a separate identity, characterized by geology, microclimate, and different histories of production.

The Oakville AVA has one of the most storied of such histories. It is home to the famed To Kalon Vineyard, purchased by H.W. Crabb in 1868, shortly after the installation of a railroad stop made the tiny village of Oakville spring to life. In 1876 Crabb’s neighbor John Benson bottled his inaugural vintage of Far Niente wine just down the road.

By the year 1880 the Oakville area had 430 acres under production, and these would nearly triple to more than 1000 acres in the next 10 years and continue to grow until Prohibition turned off the spigot in the 1920’s.

In 1965 Heitz Vineyards made …

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Vinography Images: Layers of Light


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Layers of Light
PAUILLAC, FRANCE: Layers of clouds and light and vines 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 6/9/18


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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.

A French Wine With a 900-Year-Old Vintage
Wait, millenniums is the plural?!?

We Drink Basically The Same Wine As Ancient Romans — And That’s Not So Great
NPR’s take on the story.

A Medieval Grape Is Still Used to Make Wine
And the Atlantic’s.

Uncovering the Magic of Old Vines
Older vines are the shizzle.

After Losing $1 Billion, a Russian Exile Rebounds With Bond’s Favorite Bubbly
And a helluva shop.

The Inexorable Rise of Wine Prices
Creeping on up.

The Prince of Liechtenstein’s Vineyard and Wine Cellar
I’d go see that.

Wine Industry Anxiously Awaits Supreme Court Decision
Something I care …

Vinography Images: The Last Gold


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The Last Gold
PAUILLAC, FRANCE: The last golden light of day falls on 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.

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.

BUY THE BOOK:
This image is from a series of photographs captured by Andy Katz in the process of shooting his most recent work The Club of Nine, a visual …

Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 6/2/19


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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.

Outstanding in Her Field
Lady vineyard managers rule.

Why Californian wine will soon cost more in Beijing
Because… Trump.

It’s time to re-think single origin wines
Robert Joseph is good at radical thinking.

The Beginning of the End of the Old World Appellation System?
Mike Veseth has an interesting point of view.

Gator busts through kitchen window, breaks bottles of wine
They’re big, mean, and coming for your wine.

Japan’s Sake Makers Look to Wine to Define Craft Brews by Region
But it doesnt make much sense with sake.

Thanks to Drones, French Wine Tastes Better
Yes but can you taste the …

Vinography Unboxed: Week of 5/26/19


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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 number of decent white wines from near and far.

Let’s start with the more familiar — a Chardonnay from one of the top growers in the state, Dutton Ranch. I tend to review a lot of the Dutton Goldfield wines, but this is the wine from the other brother, Joe Dutton. It’s named after Joe’s oldest daughter who is carrying on the family’s business these days.

In addition to this Chardonnay I’ve got a nice Viognier from Domaine Terre Rouge in the Sierra Foothills. Made by Bill Easton, this wine comes from the Fiddletown area of Amador County, which is a higher elevation area and that fact no doubt helps …

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Vinography Images: The Infinite Curve


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The Infinite Curve
SAINT-ÉMILION, FRANCE: The alluring curve of the roof designed by Christian de Portzamparc peeks above the vineyard beneath dramatic skies at Chateau Cheval Blanc in Bordeaux. 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.

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.

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This image is from a series of photographs captured by Andy Katz in the process of shooting …

Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 12/2/18


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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.

Can balanced Burgundy survive in a warming world?
Alcohols creep higher.

Anson: Why slow fermentation pays off
Jane visits Arista.

Confessions of a Rookie Wine Judge
Mike Veseth goes to Romania.

A New Era for U.S. Wine-Labeling Laws
Katherine Cole sums up the issues.

You Can Teach an Old-Vine Grape New Tricks
Just don’t use an “e.”

Wild yeasts may hold key to better wines from warmer climates
They’re adapted already.

Cheval Blanc co-owner Albert Frère dies
RIP

Italian Fashion Mogul and Vintner Is Under House Arrest
But not for wine crimes.

Best Wine Regions to Visit in 2019
Some …

I’ll Drink to That: Exporter Jeanne-Marie de Champs


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Episode 457 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and features Jeanne-Marie de Champs. Jeanne-Marie de Champs is the owner of Domaines et Saveurs Collection, an exporter working with Burgundy and other wines from France.

Jeanne-Marie de Champs uses the phrase “defending” when she describes her work on behalf of the grower producers she represents in the market, and it is a telling admission. Jeanne-Marie sees herself as a protector of these small scale producers, and her work on their behalf as more than a business transaction. She says at one point in the discussion that making money is fine, but that we aren’t placed on Earth just to make money. The sense of a higher purpose that she radiates can be rare within the giant global wine market today, and it serves to highlight how Jeanne-Marie is a special individual. Moving cases can seem all-important within some operations, …

Tasting the World: Highlights from the W&S Top 100 Tasting


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I attend public tasting events for the same reason I tell my readers to attend them. They are simply the best way to educate the palate, discover new wines, and often the only way to get a chance to taste certain wines that you might not otherwise have a chance to afford. Such tastings can be quite exhausting and by the end of the event, I’m usually ready to take a nap.

At the end of the annual Wine & Spirits Top 100 tasting every year, however, I find myself wishing I had another couple of hours to wander around and taste wine. Perhaps this is partly because of the bottomless oyster bar with fresh kumamoto oysters, a welcome respite from rounds of tasting, but mostly the wines on offer are generally of such high quality that I simply would like to taste them all.

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Put on by Wine & …