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:


Notable quoteables, waxing wine wisdom

Wine inevitably produces discussion, of varying degrees of quality, but sometimes it spawns profundity:

“Wine, bright avenger of sly-dealing wrong.” — Hilaire Belloc (left)

“Fill up the cup, but spill not the wine … for if you do so, it is an ill sign.” — Robert Herrick 

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” — Mark Twain

“Autumn arrives, array’d in splendid mien;
Vines, cluster’d full, add to the beauteous scene.”
 Farmer’s Almanac, 1818 

“Yet all the cool wines and flowery rooms, with as many fans and soft dews as June and July can imagine, are not worth a morsel of the bread and oil eaten around the fire in December and January as one gulps down a cup or two of new wine.” — Pietro Aretino (left)

“Sobriety diminishes, discriminates, and says no; drunkenness expands, unites, and says yes.” — William James


Linkin’ logs: 5-25-18

Places to go, people to see, fermented grape juice to drink:

• I’m not a bucket-list kind of guy, but these wine regions are on my “regular” list. (It would be a return trip in the case of the Anderson Valley, at left.)

• Not sure about edible wine glasses, but this looking-ahead piece has some other interesting notions.

• They make wine from tomatoes in Quebec and Florida, so I guess it’s no surprise that India now has kiwi wine. But wait, there’s more (or less).

• Too many people shop by the label carelessly. These wines deserve more of their attention.

• Finally, my friend James passed along this handy-dandy tip sheet:



A cascade of vinous wonders

In recent years it has been my great good fortune to be invited to judge quite a few wine competitions. Although they are much less “fun” than most outside observers might believe — arduously assessing 100-plus wines in a day requires a buttload of focus and care — I get a lot out of them. Some more than others.

Which brings us to last month’s Cascadia Wine Competition in Richland, Wash. It was great to meet and get to know so many wine folks from the Northwest, from Idaho to southern Oregon to British Columbia. It was even cooler to check out the wines from the (seriously) Great Northwest.

World-class cabernet and chardonnay from Idaho’s Snake River Valley along with classic merlots from the nation’s best locale for the varietal (Washington). Bubbles from British Columbia along with pinot noir from Oregon (the Umpqua Valley along with the more ballyhooed Wilamette). It was an amazingly wide-ranging array of seriously swell fermented grape juice.

If there were one word I’d use for these wines, it would be “expressive.” By and large they represented their perspective grapes splendidly, but they also showed something I seek out in wine: They came from a place, and evoked it beautifully. They were no-way-no-how manufactured or spoofelated.

Now I haven’t had enough wines from the Okanagan (left) or Lewis-Clark valleys to be able to say, “Oh that’s from [this particular place],” but after this, I’m doing my damnedest to get there. And to journey to these regions to enhance my chances of understanding them.

Yes, there were some offerings from bigger wineries such as Maryhill and Willamette Valley Vineyards, but these were stellar in their own way. In fact, Maryhill captured an unreal 14 gold medals and won best-red-wine honors for its 2015 Elephant Mountain Vineyard Carménère. White-wine honors went to the 2017 Pinot Gris from British Columbia’s Wild Goose Vineyards; the 2016 Wild Goose Pinot Gris had won last year.

The award for best sparkling wine went to another BC operation, Township 7, for its 2015 Seven Stars blanc de blanc. That was one of 40 gold medals for wineries from the Canadian province. In addition, 11 Idaho producers garnered 19 gold medals and four best-of-class wines, including top dessert wine for the Cinder Wines 2016 Dried on the Vine Viognier.

These wines were universally delicious — I can’t recall a more impressive sweepstakes round in recent years — as best dessert wine. I was especially enamored with hearty but food-friendly nature of the reds I tried from B.C. and Southern Oregon. And I finally got to taste the Abacela Albariño at a judges’ dinner. Love that wine!

Unfortunately, many of these wines are not widely distributed, especially in places like Minnesota. Progress is being made: San Diego-based I.B. Imports is now bringing in Wild Goose’s stellar wines, and more of this kind of work is on the way. I’ve been talking with distributors here about seeking these wines. (FYI, I have no skin in that game except to get Minnesota consumers more great options.)

In the meantime, these regions should be at or near the top of any wine lover’s travel plans.

(To follow the wine scene in this stupendous neck of the woods, get thee onto the Great Northwest Wine email list, operated by the indefatigable Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue, two of the nation’s very best wine writers. And thanks to Eric for looping me into this phenomenal event.)


Linkin’ logs: 5-9-18

Long time coming, long time gone for link-o-mania:

• Amy Poehler? Tina Fey? Napa-themed movie? Sign me up.

• In my Navy years in Italy, I was intrigued by a wine called Lacryma Christi (“Tears of Christ”). Like almost everything sold in stores back then, the wines were crummy. But given insane improvement in Italy’s wines since then, I’m intrigued again.

• A free bottle of wine for a tale of abuse? Yikes! Every person who gave the OK to this idea should be canned.

• My friend Larry has been in the Republic of Georgia seeking out wines. Guessing he saw some of these seriously cool amphorae.

• So the latest of a gazillion conflicting studies says an extra glass of vino a day reduces one’s life by 30 minutes. It fails to point out that those last half-hours would be pretty crappy anyway.

• Here are a few seriously swell vinous photos, with links to more.

• Old French soldiers don’t die; they go make wine.

• Finally, my buddy Joe and I knew we were in the right restaurant in Turin when we saw this poster:



Linkin’ logs: 3-22-18

Scrollin’, scrollin’ scrollin’, keep those linkin’s rollin’, raw wine!

• Covering a three-day conference, even one about wine, is exhausting. Hope I did this one credit. And I got to spend time with my friend, the amazing Doug Frost.

• I was also able to work my friend “Burgundy Bob” into this paean to zinfandel.

• It’s no fun to be at a wine tasting around someone wearing too much perfume or cologne. So how do the people wearing the stuff manage?

• Even a wine lover a k a “grape nut” would probably not find the actual execution of the trickery at left amusing come Sunday.

• I don’t drink much of what the Brits call “supermarket wine,” but the folks who do are apparently in for some sticker shock.

• I need to find time to do what John Tilson did here: track down the most florid, pretentious wine descriptors of recent vintage.

• My friend Matt Weiland did a swell job covering the myriad Minnesota connections in the Willamette Valley.

• Finally, a clever if obvious ‘toon:



Linkin’ logs: 3-7-18

It’s baaack — and will never again have such a long hiatus. Cool stuff from the World Wine Web:

• Our granddaughter Zuzu loved her some Gouda, and at age 14 also enjoys sniffing wines. So this glass is a natural for a future birfday gift.

• A friend sent this informative article (with excellent buying options) from “a hipster publication that my son in laws worship.”

• I’ll have the ’91 Pol Roger, please. Oh, that’s 1891.

• The evidence that wine (in moderation; and I call two glasses moderation) helps us live longer. And certainly better :o)

• But wait! There’s more.

• Sometimes a guy is just starting an interview and quickly realizes every moment that he’s onto a special story and just has to not muck it up. So it was with the saga of Al & Boots Brounstein and Diamond Creek winery.

• Finally, a truly great, and greatly true, aphorism:


Linkin’ logs: 1-11-18

News, sports, murder most foul and more from the World Wine Web:

• I turn to my friends decidedly more often than to famous folks for my wine tips, but I gotta admit that LeBron James makes some sense here.

• I loves me a scandal, and CBS has now homed in on one in Napa.

• Old-vine zin, even with more than century-old vines, has nothing on this.

• Pretty sure I will never put a hard-to-open bottle of bubbles between my legs after reading this.

• I’ve been on a mindfulness kick, and I obviously like to drink, so mindful drinking would seem to be tailor-made for moi. Or not.

• Finally, a sound approach to enjoying fermented grape juice:




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