Linkin’ logs: 10-24-18

Spanning the globe that is the World Wine Web:

• Got grapes? How about 8,200 varieties, at this seriously cool French vineyard?

• I’m with Simon Jenkins: Make mine a cannabis wine.

• I love cooking, I love using tongs when I cook, and I love wine. So this semi-harrowing practice is right in my wheelhouse. Anyone got some really old Port?

• Now I want to go to Austria even more: Instead of near-beer, they have near-wine.

• No way I’m gonna buy this, but I might do a homemade version of the 12-bottle Advent wine thingie.

• Finally, read and heed this:



Linkin’ logs: 10-2-18

Takin’ what I’m given, and I’m strollin’ for a ivin’:

• How about some delicious Welch’s … wine? Actually, I’ve had some fab stuff made from Concord grapes at competitions.

• I’m so far behind that I’ll soon finally be getting around to sharing my own review of the second “Somm” film. Meanwhile, the third one has premiered (that’s my friend Fred Dame in the middle).

• Here’s some really good advice on pairing wines and food in particular and becoming a more savvy quaffer in general.

• I also learned a lot from this look at surprising facts and figures around fermented grape juice.

• Finally, it took a sec for me to “get” this misbegotten sign:





Linkin’ logs: 9-24-18

Web gems: this ‘n’ that from the InterTubes:

• This is not (just) a play on words: Whistling past the graveyard vineyard.

• Love tomatoes, love wine, but not so sure about tomato wine.

• Now here’s a combination that seems outstanding: bubbles in space.

• This “diet” plan hasn’t worked so well for me, but that also might be attributable to my love of pasta, sweet tooth, etc. etc.

• Finally, me want:


Linkin’ logs: 9-9-18

Spanning the vinous globe to bring you the constant variety of wine:

• Am I blue? Rarely, and even more uncommon is it to find something blue in my wine glass. Not so across the pond.

• The Spaniards really know how to live. The latest evidence: this seriously cool fountain.

• I have been fortunate enough not to encounter much insipid rosé  — although i have friends who think all rosés are insipid — but it’s definitely out there.

• Leaving no marketing stone unturned: Of course there is now wine for cats.

• Finally, some sage advice for the pessimists among us:


He was, quite simply, the best of us

He could cook a mean abalone. He could tell Sven & Ole jokes like nobody’s business. He could make wine that was a gateway drug to this wondrous realm.

But what I’ll always hold close about Kent Rosenblum, whose sweet soul slipped the surly bonds of Earth on Sept. 5, was his grace, his generosity and his love of life its ownself.

I didn’t know it when I wrote my first-ever winemaker profile on the former Minnesotan a decade ago, but Kent was the paragon of not only the people I want to spend the rest of my life around, but of what I would like to become myself.

And what a life he lived, from making all-conference as a wrestler at Gustavus Adolphus and then fermenting grape juice on the mean streets of Alameda (“When the gangstas found out what I was doing, they not only left us alone, they started protecting us,” he told me) to leading California vintners down a “bigger can be better” path and finding vineyards up and down the state where his favorite grape, zinfandel (left), could thrive.

As my friend Mike Dunne wrote on Facebook, “He was a most inquisitive winemaker, probing into the source and intricacies of wine with discipline and precision, perhaps an extension of his original vocation as a veterinarian.”

Yes, veterinarian, a role that he told me in January that he still occasionally filled. Kent was living proof that a science background was an immeasurably valuable tool for winemaking, especially in the way he crafted wines that never got flabby or flaccid even when the grapes were picked on the edge of over-ripeness.

His eponymous winery joined Ridge and Ravenswood as the “Three R’s” of zinfandel, which not only inspired the likes of Mike Officer to make wine in his garage (and eventually start the estimable Carlisle winery) but led countless other consumers to a passion that persists to this day.

Among them: my pal Lynn Fowler, who commented on Facebook that Kent “introduced us to many things that make us appreciate wine today.” And yours truly, who would only add that it should be “Four R’s” since my first “a-ha” moment with a domestic wine involved a Rafanelli zin.

But I digress. Over the years I got to know Kent at wine competitions and loved to pick his brain about wine and life, although I was never fortunate enough to be on a panel with him. The only challenge was getting sufficient time with Kent, for he was as admired and sought after as any winemaker at these gatherings — and I never had the stamina to join the party in his hotel room after a day of testing 100-plus wines and then partaking of a viniferous dinner.

But my way better half and I did get a couple of opportunities to break bread with Kent at a vineyard he owned in the Russian River Valley. His dear friend Ann Littlefield helped arrange a couple of leisurely afternoon repasts there, initially calling the locale “a really beautiful vineyard.”

When someone who lives in Napa characterizes a vineyard that way, one tends to listen. And of course it was splendiferous — that’s Sandy and her friend Marie making it even more beauteous — with a veggie/fruit/herb garden, pizza oven and Viking range incongruously but seamlessly perched atop it all.

Those already were two of the most stupendous afternoons of our lives, and now will only be heightened in our memories with Kent having passed over to another realm. He grilled abalone and pizza and served caprese emanating from the adjacent tomato vines and basil plot, with of course endless pours of delicious juice from his newer winery, Rock Wall.

That site is adjacent to what is now the grounds at Copain, which Kent sold several years ago. (Check it out next time you’re in Sonoma for astonishing vistas.) He also cashed in on his winery, selling Rosenblum for almost twice what his financial advisors had anticipated a decade ago.

So he was a savvy businessman on top of everything else. On top of the wit and wisdom, the kindness and gentleness, the cooking and vinifying in extraordinary fashion. That formidable skill set seems almost irreplaceable. Indubitably, his soulfulness leaves an unfillable void.

I can’t help but think of one of my favorite quotes of all time, from Abraham Joshua Heschel — “When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.” — which I have amended to include, “Actually, I admire and want to be with people who are both.”

People like Kent Rosenblum.



Linkin logs: 8-1-18

Don’t know much about his-to-ry, or ge-og-ra-phy, but I do know just enough to be dangerous:

• Northern California has become the nexus of the U.S. wine world, but El-Lay has its place in vinous history.

• Love that Pythagoras dude, especially after learning how he treated people who poured themselves too much wine.

• Hoping our local Aldi stores add wine soon so I can try this bargain bottle of bubbles

• Just what the world needs most: a white-wine emoji.

• Some like it hot: The incredible Hatch chile peppers from New Mexico, which I first encountered at the incredible Phoenix restaurant Los Dos Molinos, have found their way into wine.

• Speaking of states we don’t normally associate with wine (and probably shouldn’t, despite this specious claim):




An oldie but goodie

At a wine merchant’s warehouse the regular taster died, and the director started looking for a new one to hire.  He posted a sign at the entrance to the building…  EXPERIENCED WINE TASTER NEEDED — POSITION STARTS IMMEDIATELY.

A retired Marine sergeant named  Gunny, drunk and with a ragged dirty look and smelling of last night’s rounds, strolled by the building and saw the sign.  He went into the building to apply for the position.

Aghast at his appearance, the director wondered how to send him away but, to be fair, he gave him a glass of wine to taste.  The old “jarhead” held the glass up to his left eye, tilted his head toward incoming sunlight and studied the contents looking through the glass.  He then took a sip and said, “It’s a Southern California Muscat , three years old, grown on a north slope, matured in steel containers.  Somewhat low-grade but acceptable.”

“That’s correct,” said the boss.  Glancing at his assistant he said…”Another one, please.”

The old Marine took the goblet, full of a deep red liquid, stuck his nose into the glass, sniffed deeply and took a long slow sip….rolling his eyeballs in a circle, he then looked at the director and said…  “It’s a Cabernet Sauvignon, eight years old, south-western slope, oak barrels, matured at eight degrees. Requires three more years for the finest results.”

“Absolutely correct.  A third glass.” said the director.

Receiving another glass, again, the Marine eyed the crystal, took in a little bit of the aroma and sipped very softly. ”It’s a pinot blanc champagne, very high-grade and exclusive,” said the drunk calmly.

The director was astonished and winked at his assistant to suggest something.

She left the room and came back in with a wine glass half-full of urine.

The old Sergeant eyed it suspiciously…a color he could not quite recall.

He took a sip, swishing it over his tongue and across his teeth, musing upward all the while.

“It’s a blonde, 26 years old, three months pregnant, and if I don’t get the job, I’ll name the father.”



Linkin’ logs: 6-17-18

The latest from the World Wine Web:

• My friend Bruce Schoenfeld dug deep into a company that is replicating higher-end California wines.

• More and more Eastern Bloc wines are reaching Tundraland, and some of them have a seriously cool legacy.

• In an excerpt from a swell new book, Justin Wilson extols the virtues of “weird wines.”

• Danger, Will Robinson! There’s a risk that some bubbles could get “lost in space.”

• A brief but insightful look at Minnesota grapes.

• Finally, maybe this could spawn a new word: “winebidextrous”


Linkin’ logs: 6-7-18

Scrollin, scrollin, scrollin’, keep those cool links rollin’:

• How do I love David Ramey’s wines? Let me count the ways, starting with, as  he proclaims in this fab interview, “First, wine’s supposed to taste delicious!”

• My friend the Hosemaster writes only once a month these days, alas, but he really brings it, as in this piece on an old wine critics’ home.

• Well I’ll certainly own up to being a vinous lush, and certain other of these sobriquets might apply as well.

• Upper Midwest resolve plays a part in continuing efforts to create great American grapes, as this stellar article shows.

• The French might be a bit secretive about some of their winemaking practices, but I’m really glad these guys are furtive about the end product.

• Finally, if I were not married, this is what I’d put in one of those singles ads:

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