Vinography Unboxed: Week of 7/14/19


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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 really fantastic white wine from the little producer in Southern Oregon that more and more people are starting to learn about, Troon Vineyards. I’ve reviewed a number of their wines over the past couple of years, but under the leadership of General Manager Craig Camp they have gotten better and better. This white blend is perhaps one of the best I’ve tasted from the estate, offering all sorts of savory deliciousness that will waken any tired palate.

I’ve also got a rosé with a pedigree this week. The main name on the label is “Lucy” but if you look closely you’ll see a much more famous name in the world …

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Vinography Images: Lines of Light


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Lines of Light
LOMPOC, CA: A thick fog bank rolls into the Sta. Rita Hills vineyards of Melville Winery near Lompoc, California, as the evening sun turns rows of vines into bright lines of light. The Sta. Rita Hills was established as a sub-AVA of Santa Barbara County in 2001. It used to be known as the Santa Rita Hills, but a trademark battle with a Chilean wine producer, Vina Santa Rita resulted in the abbreviation of Santa to Sta.

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Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 7/14/19


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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.

It’s a New Era for Australian Grenache
Christina Pickard starts with once upon a time.

Skin-Contact White Wines, a.k.a. Orange Wine for Beginners
A primer.

LA’s First New Winemaker in 100 Years Starts Pouring in Chinatown This Week
Grapes from 50 miles away.

Renaissance Man’s Wine Reborn: Inside Leonardo da Vinci’s Vineyard
Drink like Leonardo.

Exploring The Wines Of Southern Oregon
A good primer.

Paul Mabray, Of Emetry.io, Reflects On The Court’s Recent Wine-Shipping Decision
Good things to come, says Paul.

Are There Benefits to American Oak Over French?
Are there benefits to Grenache over Cabernet?

Anthony Gismondi: Forget …

Much Ado about AVAs


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Winemakers in America are increasingly running foul of regulations that have kept pace neither with the march of technology nor with the evolving ingenuity of business. Some of the latest controversies in American wine have to do with trying to decide what criteria should be used to determine where a wine is from. This seemingly simple question doesn’t have an easy answer, thanks to America’s complex and antiquated laws governing alcohol sales and, more importantly, alcohol labelling.

Place of origin has seemingly been a crucial component of wine since the earliest days of winemaking, perhaps reaching its apotheosis in the well-known climats of Burgundy that have defined origin with unmatched precision for centuries. Today, a given wine’s origins are not only statements of geography but, thanks to wine laws around the world, also statements of quality, composition, winemaking practices and legal status. Any wine region of reasonable maturity around the …

Vinography Unboxed: Week of 7/7/19


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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 bit of this and a bit of that from here, near and far.

Let’s start with some crackling mountain wines from the mountainous north of Italy. Up high in the valleys of the Dolomites, there are all sorts of gems to be found, and a couple of the most iconic wines ended up in the samples pile recently.

The Abbazia di Novacella is one of the best producers of Gewürztraminer in the world, and it is a variety that does extremely well in the Alto Adige. Which is to say that the wines express all of the good parts of the grape and none of the bad. Poorly made or …

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Vinography Images: Happy Sunrise


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Happy Sunrise
SANTA YNEZ, CA: A dramatic sunrise reflects in a pond at Happy Canyon’s Grassini Family Estate, near Santa Ynez, California. Because of its close proximity to Southern California and Los Angeles population centers, combined with a Mediterranean climate, the coastal regions of Santa Barbara have become a popular weekend getaway destination for millions of tourists each year.

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I’ll Drink to That: Winegrower Mimi Casteel


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Episode 469 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features owner and winegrower Mimi Casteel of the Hope Well Vineyard in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

Mimi Casteel argues that we have lost a connection with our planet’s soil, not just because we often miss out on a meaningful experience of nature in our lives, but also because the very soil itself has changed for the worse. She suggests that we have lost, through poor farming, the mineral-rich topsoil that we need to give nutrients to our crops. Without that topsoil to give it life, our food has less of the nourishing aspects that we assume it has, and our wines are less compelling. Why does she think this, and what steps can be taken to remedy the situation? Mimi addresses those questions at length in this interview, but a theme stretching across all of her statements …

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


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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.

Why U.S. Buyers Can’t Get Wine from British Columbia
Same reason U.S. wines don’t go to Canada?

News Flash: Heitz Will Split Itself to Return to Its (Vineyard) Roots
Interesting business details.

By-The-Glass Wine Lists Are Really Bad. Here’s Why Restaurants Should Make Them Better.
David Lynch knows of what he speaks.

Millennial vs. Gen X Wine Tastes
GuildSomm reports.

Santorini vineyards hit by unprecedented rainfall
Twice as much rain in 3 months as in the whole year.

Pushing Ahead as a Wheelchair Sommelier
Inspiring.

How Sonoma’s Vineyards Survived a Siege of Fire, Smoke and Ash
The NYT no less.

Vinography Unboxed: Week of 6/30/19


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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 the latest in a collaboration between longtime winemaking partners Doug Shafer and Elias Fernandez, who have been making wine together at Shafer Vineyards since 1984. A couple of years ago they started a side project making anything but Cabernet. They bottle lesser known grapes throughout Napa. The wines are made in the Shafer style, which is to say on the richer side, but but this Albariño is pretty despite being a bit heftier than you’d expect.

I’ve reviewed Troon Vineyard wines before here, and was recently sent one of their latest wines which is called Granito. They’ve made Vermentino for a while, but this one got a new protocol — fermenting …

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57th Annual Napa Wine Library Tasting: August 4, Napa


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Dedicated wine lovers in the San Francisco Bay area get several opportunities each year to indulge their passions for wine. Large, themed tastings like the ZAP Zinfandel Festival are great opportunities to get a sense of a certain varietal and the quality of the recent vintage in California.

It is quite rare, however, despite the nearness of the appellation and the saturation of wine in the Bay Area, for consumers to get the opportunity to get an in-depth or comprehensive look at the wines of Napa Valley. Perhaps it’s just because Napa wines don’t need much marketing help, or perhaps it’s because the Napa Valley Vintners association only puts on a few major events each year, but there just isn’t a real good opportunity for members of the public to survey the breadth and depth of wines from the Napa valley.

Unless, that is, you happen to be a member …

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Vinography Images: Island of Green


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Island of Green
SANTA YNEZ, CA: Appearing like an island in a wide sea, a Syrah vineyard is surrounded by oak trees near Santa Ynez, California. Depending on where it is planted, Syrah can have many different characters. There are approximately 16,000 acres of Syrah planted in the state.

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I’ll Drink to That: Winemaker David Ramey


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Episode 468 of I’ll Drink to That! was released recently, and it features winemaker David Ramey, founder and co-owner of Ramey Wine Cellars and Sidebar Cellars.

David Ramey was a student in the UC Davis enology program during the late 1970s, an era in which that university played host to a number of people who would subsequently become well known names within California wine. John Kongsgaard, Cathy Corison, Richard Ward, Paul Hobbs, Randall Grahm, and many other notables were at Davis around the same years. Like those people, David graduated into a boom time for wine in California, as corporate investments changed the shape of the industry. David would subsequently work at Simi, Matanzas Creek, Chalk Hill, Dominus Estate, and Rudd Estate, and he clearly explains in this interview what he learned at each winery. He also shares what his various trips to Europe contributed to his thinking. Along the …

Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 6/30/19


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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.

The Complete Guide to Egg Fermentation
Well, at least the Egg 101.

How Champagne Producers are Preserving Acidity as the Climate Changes
Tina Caputo goes on an acid trip.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape red wines to contain more white grapes
Interesting news.

Seven new grapes approved in historic Bordeaux AOC vote
Still interesting news. Getting the point?

These countries drink wine but don’t import it
David Morrison looks at numbers.

Legacy in Flux: The Louis M. Martini Winery Through Time
Kelli White doing her usual scholarship.

It’s a red wine battle royale, Spanish town hosts annual wine fight
Always wanted to do this.

Research: Actually, …

Vinography Images: Straight and Narrow


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Straight and Narrow
SANTA YNEZ, CA: Weeds in a Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard at Happy Canyon Vineyard are cleared near Santa Ynez, California. A cool spring and mild summer contributed to a later-than-usual harvest and a bumper crop of premium wine grapes throughout the state of California last year.

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This image is from a series of photographs by George Rose captured in the process of shooting his most recent work WINE COUNTRY: Santa Barbara County/em>, a …

Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 6/23/19


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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.

Master Of Wine Jo Ahearne On Why She Chose Croatia For Her Wine Brand
Not just because it’s gorgeous.

Dom Pérignon: Fact & Fiction
Tom Stevenson profiles the monk

A New Style of Winemaking Could Take Sherry Mainstream
En Rama. Dig it.

How Wine Became Part of the Trade War
Ryan Harr breaks it down.

The fault in our glass: How imperfections can enhance some wines — and even make them memorable
Beauty is not perfection.

Survey Of Wine Consumers Says Sustainability Takes Precedence Over Organic
When it comes to buying decisions.

What is Acidity in Wine?
The good stuff.

Grape Changes …

The Narrow Road to Quality in Chile’s Far North


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Pisco vineyards in the Elqui valley. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

One of the perennial regrets of any traveling journalist must be the fact that you just can’t go everywhere and see everything. I don’t think I’ve ever ended a press trip to any wine region around the world without some amount of such feelings. As the saying goes, so much wine, so little time.

For this reason, one of the things I like to do when visiting a wine region involves taking an afternoon to just sit in a room and taste through a bunch of wines from somewhere I’m not going to get the chance to visit on that trip. On my most recent visit to Chile, I didn’t have the time to make it up to the far north of the country, but my hosts were kind enough to collect a bunch of wines for me to taste one …

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Welcome Back Photographer George Rose


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Please join me in welcoming back photographer George Rose as a weekly collaborator for my Vinography Images posts.

For some of you photographer George Rose needs no introduction. You might be staring at his photos as your desktop background or screen saver already, since I’ve featured his images many times over the years years.

For those of you who haven’t met George, he’s an accomplished wine marketer in addition to a master behind the lens. Keep reading to learn more about his remarkable career.

Before we get to his resume, though, let’s talk about what we’re going to feature on Vinography. George has spent the last year or so deeply exploring Santa Barbara County and California’s Central Coast wine region, as seen in the image above of vineyards near Lompoc, CA. The result of that exploration is soon to be published in a book entitled, WINE COUNTRY: Santa Barbara County. …

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Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 6/16/19


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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.

Wine Consumption Probably Won’t Return to “Normal”
No one should ever expect a return to normal. For anything.

Turning the Tables on Michelle Williams
The blogger profiled.

The battle over fungicides
Options are limited.

Regenerative agriculture in Bordeaux
Gasp! Is that a tree in the middle of the vineyard!?

That awkward phase
Too soon after infancy.

Is Oak Over?
Jamie Goode puts a peg in that barrel.

Alice Feiring On Satire And Misogyny In The Wine Industry
Or… just assh*les with a typewriter.

Three things to know about wine writing
1.No money. 2.No money. 3. No money.

It’s Time to …

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 …