Archive for October, 2011

Going Pro: Asia, By Way Of Paso Robles (Or “Am I a Hypocrite If I Accept A Chinese Wine Junket?”)

Vinted on October 19, 2011 binned in going pro, on the road

This week finds me in

Paso Robles, courtesy of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, presumably because you folks don’t get enough images of beautiful vineyard locations coupled with smarmy captions here on, so we need a trip to get you some more, you greedy little things!

I’ll be taking part in what they call a “Lifestyle Media Tour,” the aim of which is to get an “understanding of Paso Robles’ approach to sustainability, experiencing a true sense of place, seeing what the consumer may experience on a visit and meeting the personalities of the region.”  It’s unclear if those personalities include Bugs Bunny, but for some reason I woke up this morning wishing they did (maybe it was the Absinthe…). Oh, and I’ll be visiting (hopefully) more than a few producers of Paso wine, since the region is CA’s third-largest and by many counts its fastest-growing wine area.

Anyway, I’ll be “roughing it” once again in the hopes that the trip will net some interesting stuff to share with all of you (it would suck to take those 6AM flights out to the Left Coast for nuthin’!).

But I’m not here to talk about Paso today, folks.  I’m actually here to talk about China (Abrupt Transitions: 1, Joe: 0)

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Vinography Goes All British On Us (Alder Yarrow Joins Team Jancis At

Vinted on October 18, 2011 binned in wine news

[ Editor’s note: No, you’re not losing your mind (well, not that I can tell anyway) – the following was originally posted here yesterday, but I was mistakenly a day early in reporting it (and the authors of the press release politely requested that I take it down and re-post today to coincide with the official release, to which I of course agreed immediately). So some of you may, in fact, have read this before. This was just a dumb-ass mistake on my part, and one for which I’ve already apologized profusely to many people and promised copious rounds of beers to them as compensation.  Sorry also to you for any confusion this might have caused. Anyway – get back to your drinking. ]

This week, a press release will be going out on the Global Interwebs (I got a sneak peek at it last week) announcing that Alder Yarrow, founder of (which by all accounts was the first English language wine blog ever published) will officially join Team Jancis as a columnist at (the excellent)

To the tape:

“The choice of Yarrow to help expand Robinson’s coverage of the American wine culture reflects the vibrancy of the wine blogging world, her appreciation of the growing universe of online wine voices and Yarrow’s impressive body of work and unique insights on American wine. Yarrow’s ‘Alder on America’ column will debut at on Wednesday, October 19 when he explores the impact of Robert Parker’s retreat from reviewing California wine and the appointment of Antonio Galloni as the Wine Advocate’s new California correspondent.”

Aside from the fact that it looks like Alder’s first column is covering news that we in America would at this point officially consider “old” (sorry… couldn’t resist…), I’m ecstatic for Alder, who I consider a friend and with whom I confirmed that this is an actual, honest-to-goodness paying gig (I expect to pry more details out of him over several beers the next time I’m on the Left Coast). Given the focus and seriousness with which Alder plies his blogging craft, it’s a natural fit for Jancis’ team, and I see this as a bit of wine-blogging-spiritual-equivalent to another friend of mine, the keenly analytically-minded Jeff Lefevere, taking his talents to And of course (you knew this was coming), it’s further validation of the future of quality wine writing coming from the best of the cast of characters in the wine blogosphere.

Best of luck on the new gig, Alder!





Weekly Twitter Wine Mini Reviews Round-Up For October 15, 2011

Vinted on October 15, 2011 binned in wine mini-reviews

Uhm, like what is this stuff?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine sample tasting notes via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be fun, quickly-and-easily-digestible reviews. Below is a wrap-up of the twitter reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find them so you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 06 Louis M. Martini Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon (Sonoma Valley): Will appeal to members of the hunt club (& black licorice lovers) $85 A- >>find this wine>>
  • 10 Riondo Pianello Soave Excelsa (Soave): A bit like getting mugged by citrus fruits; refreshing for sure, but a bit on the rough side $8 C+ >>find this wine>>
  • 10 Santi Vigneti di Monteforte Soave (Soave Classico): Whoa – Soave got (refreshingly, florally & tropically) *serious* here, people! $17 B >>find this wine>>
  • 08 Santa Rita Medalla Real Gran Reserva Carmenere (Colchagua): The fruits are red & black, the nose a bit green, but it’s all pretty! $19 B >>find this wine>>
  • 07 Haras de Pirque Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere (Maipo): Kinda like Bell Pepper, Oak & Black Fruit in a Roadhouse-style bar fight. $13 C+ >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere (Rapel): Might be a “manly man” wine, but it’s a manly-man in a well-appointed suit. $20 B >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia Carmenere (Rapel): …And they will know us by the trail of green peppers and heavy oak… $20 B- >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenere (Apalta): Overachieving in a balanced, tangy, red-and-black-plummy & very flirtatious manner. $16 B >>find this wine>>
  • 08 Casa Silva Los Lingues Gran Reserva Carmenere (Colchagua): All Carmenere, damn proud of it, & not shy about it *whatsoever*. $22 B >>find this wine>>
  • 08 Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay (Carneros): About as big as you can get while still managing 2 hold it all together elegantly $49 A- >>find this wine>>
  • 08 J. Lohr Arroyo Vista Chardonnay (Arroyo Seco): Gotta admit, I really like the minerally, citrusy cut of yer creamy jib, Mrs Pear. $25 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 08 Lockwood Vineywards Merlot (Monterey): Well… you are gonna need to like ’em dark an’ ripe in these here parts, pilgrim! $18 B- >>find this wine>>
  • 06 Thelema Cabernet Sauvignon (Stellenbosch): So composed it feels like nothing could ruffle its blackcurrant & tobacco leaf feathers $41 B+ >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Guy Saget Domaine de la Perriere (Sancerre): Feminine & angular in all the right places; the lady is most definitely *not* a tramp. $22 B >>find this wine>>
  • 08 Mapema Malbec (Mendoza): Look up Argentine Malbec in the dictionary, & you just might find this standard-bearing wine’s picture. $21 B >>find this wine>>
  • 09 Mapema Sauvignon Blanc (Mendoza): Playing a rich, creamy, tropical, melony hand; maybe it’s too heavy a hand, actually. $13 B- >>find this wine>>
  • 08 Poliziano Azienda Agricola Lohsa (Morellino di Scansano): Sangio from the coast? Damn right Sangio from the coast (damn good 1 too) $16 B >>find this wine>>



Medieval Secrets: Ancient Walls, Modern Winemaking in Chianti’s Castello di Volpaia

Vinted on October 13, 2011 binned in on the road, sexy wines

When you’re dealing with the wine biz on a consistent basis, there’s one thing you get to see a whole lot of (besides wine, Styrofoam, and cardboard, I mean):

Stainless steel tanks.

Everybody who produces wine wants to show you their steel tanks.  Wine people are obsessed with their steel tanks; they basically have total hard-ons for their steel tanks.  There might actually be a support group for wine industry folk who have steel tank fetishes… I’m not sure, but I’m also not in any hurry to research that one. Anyway, they don’t just want to show you their steel tanks, they want to talk at length about their steel tanks – their capacity, how many they have, how big they are, and how they use them in special, careful, meticulous ways for separate vinifications of Wine X versus Wine Y. They want you to really understand their steel tanks. They want you to love their steel tanks.

The trouble with all this steel tank love is that there are only really two kinds of people that actually give a rat’s ass at all about steel tanks:

1) Wine producers who use steel tanks, and 2) Companies that manufacture steel tanks.

I’ve yet to meet anyone (anyone!) else in the Universe that cares about steel tanks – including me, and (very, very likely) including you who are reading me talking about the wine biz’s hard-on for steel tanks.

So when you find yourself in a situation where steel tanks are actually, truly, 100%-certified cool – like when they’re hidden in the bowels of churches from the Middle Ages in Chianti’s Volpaia, for example – well, let’s just say you get real interested, real fast. Which is exactly what happened to me a couple of weeks ago as I whiled away my time under the Tuscan sun in the heart of Italy’s ancient, beautiful and storied Chianti Classico region…

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