Posts Filed Under Wined Down (

Winding Down With Francis Ford Coppola

Vinted on November 14, 2012 binned in Wined Down (

“You have a tall task — on two fronts.”

Those were the words my friend and consigliere Jeff Lefevere (who has got to be the most talented blogger currently not blogging) had for me when I asked him for advice in interviewing movie icon Francis Ford Coppola about his Sonoma wine endeavors.

Coppola is near icon, and has been oft-interviewed,” Jeff pointed out, before quickly adding, “More importantly, how do you talk a little wine without coming off sounding like a shill who is reading from the press release?”

That last part is something that plagues writers covering any area. Even if you pull out all of the stops and interviewing chops, some people will simply give you charming marketing spiel, the equivalent of the stuff you could get from their website About pages only in certified from-the-horse’s-mouth quotation form.

So for my Wined Down / interview with Coppola, I decided to take Jeff’s advice and try to get inside of Coppola’s head a little bit, even going so far as to link our conversation back to a PB interview that he did around forty years ago (for more on that one, see Playboy’s 50 Years of the Playboy Interview collection). I suppose it worked to some extent, since in the course of it he reveals that he’s working on a new screenplay, and even the publicists on his side didn’t know about that. More likely I just got lucky.

Anyway… we talk wine, of course, focusing on his work in Sonoma (look, Coppola’s Rubicon/Inglenook stuff is an awesome story line, but as Jeff insightfully pointed out, it’s been oft-told), his love of Bordeaux, how he looks back on previous interviews and the iconic characters that he’s created, and whether or not he was trying to tell the wine cognoscenti to f*ck off by moving his movie memorabilia and shop out of Napa.

Okay, this is the part where you head over to PB and check it out!





Wined Down: Pinot, Sex, And Getting Even With The Wine Biz

Vinted on October 31, 2012 binned in Wined Down (

You’d think that when you gather wine lovers into one conference area with the promise of imbibing a lot of vino in short order, they’d have little over which to argue. But that’s not the case when Sideways (and its follow-up Vertical) author Rex Pickett is also in the same conference area.

Pickett’s keynote/interview at the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference was the very stuff of divisiveness, garnering mostly either kudos for his brashness, or derision for his healthy sense of himself and his own abilities. Few seemed to sit somewhere in the middle, as I did when I described Pickett’s WBC talk as “equal parts comedy, narcissism, and brilliance” (which, incidentally, a winemaker in attendance told me seemed an apt description of wine blogging in general – ah, perhaps Rex reflected us too well?).

Anyone who attended that session at WBC12 knows that Pickett is at best uncensored, at worst a bit nuts, and probably entertaining, which is why I decided to interview him for my gig. Pickett and I had a lengthy conversation over Skype, during which he was a slightly-more-relaxed but just-as-incendiary and amicable version of the guy who drove such strong reactions at WBC12. Which is why you might want to read what he had to tell me about his new book, Pinot Noir, sex, and getting even with the wine and publishing businesses.

But then, you’ll only be reading the parts that I thought wouldn’t get slapped with a lawsuit – Rex is nothing if not open, and he was happy to name names when we spoke. Since I don’t want to 1WD to get slapped with any lawsuits, either, I’ll refrain from quoting those bits here, but if you want to ply me with beer and wine in person I might spill the beans off the record…


p.s. – If you’re wondering where the Halloween post is, you’ll find that here.




Ranking The World’s Most Ass-Kicking Wine Regions (Wined Down)

Vinted on September 26, 2012 binned in Wined Down (

Last week, my column ran a list of The Five Most Ass-Kicking Wine Regions, which I dubbed “The 2012 Edition” because I hope to run the list annually, kind of like the annual Most Interesting Wines of the Year round-up that runs here every December.

I expect – and probably deserve – to take some flack for that list.

Why? Because like the MIWs, my list of vinous ass-kickers is somewhat arbitrary, in that it’s not based on any statistical breakdown, but on what my experience tasting and visiting wine regions during the year has shown me. It was not born in the fiery hot cauldron of intense scientific research. In other words, it’s a list of the wine regions that I’m personally really excited about right now. So not only is it a bit arbitrary, it also appeared on an outlet that gets a sh*t-ton of website traffic. Having said that, I’m still prepared to stand confidently behind the list, since it’s being provided under the assumption that I finally know what the hell I’m talking about when I offer up this kind of stuff.

The list highlights the five winemaking areas that are producing juice that has been giving me goose-bumps this year, and that gets me eagerly licking my chops in anticipation when wines that have those regions emblazoned on the label happen to cross the path of my stemware. As I mentioned in the column, the members on that list “give you a perspective on who in the wine world is really getting it right, right now.”

The list itself is below in the order in which I ranked them for, but you’ll need to go over and read the column to get the skinny on why each region was chosen – though if you’re like me (i.e., have a red-blooded pulse and find yourself attracted to females) then you’ll certainly run the risk of finding the surrounding scenery somewhat… distracting. Anyway, here ‘tis!

5) Champagne
4) Santa Barbara
3) Friuli
2) Barossa
1) West Sonoma Coast

Let the flacking begin! But before you unleash to tell me whether or not I got this list right, I should tell you that we’re working on some intensely cool material for Wined Down… not that I think that should cut me any slack…





Getting Hip At The Washington Post, And Raiding The Wine Expense Account With Ornellaia At

Vinted on September 20, 2012 binned in commentary, kick-ass wines, Wined Down (

A couple of weeks ago, I cropped up in two totally unrelated places on the “Global Interwebs” – (which you expected, right?) and The Washington Post (which, admit it, you didn’t expect).

The Washington Post article, titled Some wineries adding a little hip to swirl, sniff and sip routine, was one of those rare instances where I was interviewed for a wine piece and then was actually quoted in the finished work. The quotes I’ve given to reporters have been so… well, probably so damned odd that my contribution to most wine-related article interviews seem to hit the cutting room floor more often than they do any column space. [ UPDATE: the original WP article link is DOA, but looks like Yahoo! News also picked it up so changed links to point to that version. Sorry! ]

I thought it worth mentioning because this particular AP article focused on wineries that were bucking the status quo in order to make trips to their tasting rooms more fun (imagine! the audacity!); the author had nice things to say about recent efforts in that space by Raymond Vineyards, Judd’s Hill and Brooklyn Winery, and at one point quotes me:

“The wine world’s about eight years behind everything with the exception of bottling lines and production techniques,” he says with a laugh.

The thing is, I don’t really recall laughing about it (at least not on the inside); if I did, it was I-work-in-an-office-and-this-Dilbert-strip-is-funny-but-it-also-really-hurts-because-life-in-my-office-is-really-like-that funny. I honestly believe that the wine world generally functions that far behind most other industries, and as amazing as the wine biz is, that lag is one of the most painful things about trying to get anything moving in the biz.

Anyway… on to happier topics…

Read the rest of this stuff »




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