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Holiday Gift Guide for the Wine Lover Who Has Everything

Giving gifts to wine lovers during the holidays can be a royal pain. Especially if your recipient tends to have many of the basics covered when it comes to wine. And forget about what a hassle that people like me tend to be. I'm one of those wine lovers who already has most of the gear that he wants, and has very strong opinions about everything else. Sound like anyone you know? I've said before that buying wine for your favorite wine lover can be an exercise fraught with peril. Many wine lovers I know would much rather choose... continue reading


I'll Drink to That: Andrew McNamara of The Court of Master Sommeliers

Episode 317 of I'll Drink to That! has been released and it features Andrew McNamara, the Director of Fine Wine for Premier Beverage in Florida, and also the current Chairman of the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas. The Master Sommelier qualification has received considerable attention in recent years, as the SOMM movies and a recently launched TV show have meant more awareness from the general public. While much has been said about the movies, less focus has been paid to the actual Court itself, or how it is changed in reaction to the broader recognition. This interview with the... continue reading


Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 22, 2015

Hello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. Hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving if you celebrated. 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's tasting included, most notably, the first wines from a new wine project started by Steve Clifton (of Palmina and Brewer-Clifton fame) and his wife Chrystal. The wines are very solid, not to mention stylish, and worth checking out, especially the 2012 Reflektor Pinot Noir. I was also happy to dig out a couple... continue reading


I'll Drink to That: Bruce Neyers of Neyers Vineyards

Episode 316 of I'll Drink to That! has been released and it features Bruce Neyers of Neyers Vineyards. When Bruce Neyers was originally on IDTT, in episode 167, he seemed to incite some astonishment amongst many listeners. This is a person that had planted vines at Mayacamas. That had been there for the beginning of Phelps "Insignia." Who had sat on Noël Verset's couch. And who had welcomed a young Jean-Marc Roulot to the States. It was a tremendous walk through some pretty special winemaker moments of this country and Europe. And clearly that interview hour didn't allow enough... continue reading


Vinography Images: Rows of Gold

Rows of Gold HEALDSBURG, CA: The vineyards in the Alexander Valley begin to turn a bright gold, near Healdsburg, California. Each grape variety turns a slightly different shade when autumn comes. INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target as" and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their desktops. To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users... continue reading


A Lonely Hillside: The Wines of Alto de la Ballena, Uruguay

Most people probably hold the supposition that visiting vineyards and tasting wine are best done in good weather, when you can stroll among the vineyard rows with a glass in hand, blue sky overhead, and the sound of exotic birds calling from the nearby trees. Those moments, of which I have been lucky enough to partake many times, offer a certain idyll that can't be denied. Yet I often learn much more about the character of a place under less than ideal circumstances. A few weeks ago I emerged from the shelter and warmth of a vehicle to howling... continue reading


I'll Drink to That: Karen MacNeil

Episode 315 of I'll Drink to That! has been released and it features author and wine educator Karen MacNeil. Pretty much everyone in the wine world is at the very least aware of The Wine Bible, a book that has sold over 750,000 copies at this point. But who is Karen MacNeil, the author of that book, and how did it come about that she wrote it? In fact the whole backstory is pretty interesting, and some of the description of events really sets a tone for what the wine scene was like in the 1980s. It also gets... continue reading


The Most Untrustworthy Wine in the World

As most wine geeks know, Rudy "Dr. Conti" Kurniawan was convicted of wine counterfeiting almost 2 years ago, and is serving his 10-year sentence in California's Taft Correctional Institute with little more than prison wine to console him. Like most criminals convicted of bilking others out of millions, Kurniawan had his assets seized, and those assets are now being disposed of in an attempt to recoup losses suffered by his victims. Three of his cars -- a Lamborghini Murcielago, a Mercedes Benz G-Class SUV, and a Range Rover -- were sold earlier this month, netting a total of $310,000... continue reading


Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 11/22

I read a lot of stuff about wine on the Internet. People frequently ask me for recommendations. But there's just so much out there and only so much room in my head. In part that's why I've been curating a wine magazine on on Flipboard for the last year or so. But for those of you who aren't Flipboard inclined, I've decided to post a round-up here of what's caught my eye over the past week. Enjoy. Shafer Vineyards Uncorks a Surprise The switch to DIAM hasn't even raised an eyebrow. How a Proposed SLA Restriction Could Drastically Change... continue reading


I'll Drink to That: CP Lin of Erewhon

Episode 314 of I'll Drink to That! has been released and it features CP Lin of Erewhon, a New Zealand winery. CP Lin remembers during his first class at winemaking school that he was asked by the teacher why he had come. When he responded that it was because he wanted to make great wine, the other students in the room laughed at him. But CP continued in his resolve and has now been making wine commercially for almost 2 decades. "I never looked back, basically." That might seem like a standard line from anyone else, but with CP... continue reading


Warm Up: New Zealand's South Island

By Erin Scala New Zealand is one of the Earth's newest landmasses -- its geologic history is incredibly dynamic. New Zealand, close to its modern form, rose up from the waves about 20 million years ago. Compare that with Australia, where you can find rocks that are 3.8 billion years old. But though today's New Zealand came to be around 20 million years ago, its geological history spans back a bit farther. 83 million years ago, the Zealandia continent was about half as big as Australia, and as it moved away from Australia, it sank beneath sea level. By... continue reading


I'll Drink to That: Bob Cabral of Three Sticks Wines

Episode 313 of I'll Drink to That! has been released and it features Bob Cabral of Three Sticks Wines in Sonoma, California. Bob Cabral is best known for his 17 years at Williams Selyem, following Burt Williams as winemaker there. But as this interview makes clear, Bob had an extremely interesting and varied career before that, working for some of the most successful big personalities in the wine business. This is a person who used to drive Fred Franzia's car around, and have long, intense conversations with Jess Jackson. There are all kinds of details in this interview that... continue reading


Warm Up: Rotgipfler and Beyond

By Erin Scala Austria is home to some delicious indigenous grape varieties. Two in particular, from the Thermenregion, can make some compelling wines: Zierfandler and Rotgipfler. Both grapes have similar parentage: Roter Veltliner as one distinct parent, and Savagnin or something close to Savagnin as the other. As such, they can be considered sibling varieties, or at the very least, half-siblings. Both are most likely indigenous to the Thermenregion, and both are found few other places in the world. These grapes are the base of some of the great wines of the Thermenregion. Sometimes they are vinified on their... continue reading


I'll Drink to That: Bernhard Stadlmann of Weingut Stadlmann

Episode 312 of I'll Drink to That! has been released and it features Bernhard Stadlmann of Weingut Stadlmann, in Austria's Thermenregion. This is the everything Zierfandler interview, although Rotgipler slips in there for some discussion as well. These are grape varieties that the Stadlmann family has specialized in for generations at their winery, and you definitely get the sense from Bernhard that they don't plan on making changes anytime soon. Stadlmann as a winery makes some of the most esteemed versions of these grape varieties, but the group of consumers who know about them at all is small indeed.... continue reading


Vinography Images: Last Light

Last Light FORT ROSS, CA: Evening light highlights autumn vine leaves at Flowers Vineyard & Winery, located in the Fort Ross-Seaview wine appellation near Fort Ross, California. Approved in 2011, The Fort Ross-Seaview appellation contains some of California's coolest locations for growing grapes. Pioneers like Flowers planted grapes during a time when scientists suggested the region was too cold to ripen Pinot Noir. INSTRUCTIONS: Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting "save link as" or "save target as" and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just... continue reading


I'll Drink to That: Suzanne Mustacich

Episode 311 of I'll Drink to That! has been released and it features Suzanne Mustacich, author of Thirsty Dragon: China's Lust for Bordeaux and the Threat to the World's Best Wines. China Bordeaux Boom, China Bordeaux Bubble, China Bordeaux Bust. That has been the story we have been told about the last few years, as Chinese consumers bought high end Bordeaux at a frenzied pace, and then just as suddenly walked away from it. Suzanne Mustacich, whose recently published book Thirsty Dragon brought her into close contact with decision makers in both Bordeaux and China, examines if what we... continue reading


Warm Up: The Douro

By Erin Scala Portuguese Wine from the Douro Valley is inextricably linked with trade and the strategic location of the Douro River. From Oporto, the Douro's mouth to the Atlantic, wines could be easily shipped to England. The 1386 Treaty of Windsor initiated the strong connection between Portuguese and English trade. Strengthening the treaty's meaning, Portuguese King John married Philippa of Lancaster, the daughter of an English Duke. The treaty and the marriage solidified relations between the two kingdoms, and specifically, merchants from both countries could conduct equal business in either country. Trade increased both ways, and within a... continue reading


I'll Drink to That: João Nicolau de Almeida of Ramos-Pinto

Episode 310 of I'll Drink to That! has been released and it features João Nicolau de Almeida of Ramos-Pinto winery in Portugal. João Nicolau de Almeida's father created Barca Velha, which is far and away Portugal's most renowned red wine. For his own part, work that João did in studying grape varieties in the Douro was used as the basis for massive replanting and a reshaping of vineyards in the Douro, very much affecting what we think of as Port today in the modern era. Taken together, these are some of the most important changes that have happened in... continue reading


Book Signing in St. Helena, December 5, 2015

Not sure what to get the foodies and wine lovers on your list for Christmas? Know a wine lover that seems to have everything? I've got an idea for you. My award-winning book The Essence of Wine makes a perfect gift for the holidays, and I'll be selling and signing it at the offices of Wilson Daniels in St. Helena in the heart of Napa Valley on the afternoon of December 5th. The event will begin with a brief introduction by me, followed by group discussion, and the opportunity to purchase copies of the book and have them signed.... continue reading


I'll Drink to That: Carole Meredith of Lagier-Meredith Vineyards

Episode 309 of I'll Drink to That! has been released and it features grape geneticist Carole Meredith, co-proprietor of Lagier-Meredith Vineyards in Napa. This interview feels like sitting down with a detective to talk through the most important cases, except in these cases the suspects were grapes. Carole Meredith and the colleagues she worked with realized that markers in plant DNA could be used to identify grape vine parentage. This realization led them on a search for the parents of some the most well known grapes in the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon. In an early success they identified... continue reading

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Most Recent Entries

Holiday Gift Guide for the Wine Lover Who Has Everything I'll Drink to That: Andrew McNamara of The Court of Master Sommeliers Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 22, 2015 I'll Drink to That: Bruce Neyers of Neyers Vineyards Vinography Images: Rows of Gold A Lonely Hillside: The Wines of Alto de la Ballena, Uruguay I'll Drink to That: Karen MacNeil The Most Untrustworthy Wine in the World Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 11/22 I'll Drink to That: CP Lin of Erewhon

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune

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Wine Blogs I've Newly Discovered

Wine Dabbler The Daily Barrel Houston Wine Guy The Vine Daily South Carolina Wine Joe A Weakness for Wine Wines of the World

Want more? Check out blogs and podcasts from around the world on the complete list of wine blogs.

Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud