Grape Cluster Flowering

Vineyard ‘Aphrodisiac Perfume’

Last year about this time, when grapevines were beginning to flower, we wrote about the sex lives of grapes — how they are hermaphroditic, self-pollinating, and the flowers are, according to the decidedly unromantic Jancis Robinson, “unattractive” and “unspectacular.” But what is sex without love? This year we are feeling quite amorous about our just-blossoming [...]

Looking back at the 2012 grape-growing season

The 2012 growing season in the North Coast was, in many respects, nearly perfect. Shot in vineyards across Napa Valley, Lake County, Mendocino, and Sonoma County, this is what it looked like. After a dry winter, much welcome spring rains saturated the soil and filled reservoirs. The primordial clusters that were nestled in so many [...]

Stranger than Fiction

Yesterday we posted four stories that, in light of some other stories we wrote the previous week, were really just slightly too outrageous to be true. And then, some not even that outrageous. A guest writer, who remained anonymous, pitched in, and we came up with an April Fool’s frontpage that just stretched the bounds [...]

Bacon wine

Putting the Swine in Wine: Making Bacon Cabernet

Bacon flavorings have found their way into everything from toothpaste and mouthwash to candy, gum and even condoms in the bacon-mania that has swept the nation. Most of these products, we must stress, are only bacon-flavored, but some use actual meat. We’ve been down this road with spirits and beer before. There is an adulteration [...]

Parker Taps Heimoff as Next Cali-Critic

World-famous wine critic Robert M. Parker Jr., who rocked the wine world in December by announcing the sale of his newsletter The Wine Advocate to Singapore-based investors—and then again in March by suing his former lead critic Antonio Galloni for fraud, defamation and turning into a weenie—has shocked enophiles yet again. He announced that in [...]

Robert M. Parker, Jr.

Man Sues Parker for Life ‘Wasted’ Drinking ‘Overpriced’ Wine

A man from Texas is suing Robert M. Parker, Jr. the founder and former owner of The Wine Advocate for what he is calling a “lifetime wasted drinking profoundly expensive wine I don’t even like.” The man said he trusted Parker “to choose the best wines” and was willing to pay what he now realizes [...]

Jancis Robinson, author of 'American Wine'

Author of ‘American Wine’ Doesn’t Seem to Know Much About American Wine

In the introduction to her chapter on California in her newest book, American Wine, the preeminent British wine journalist Jancis Robinson writes, “California is the most important winegrowing state in the U.S., the granddaddy of them all in both prestige and production.” And of that small region within California, she says: “The Napa Valley AVA [...]

God-Save-The-100-Point-System

With ‘Advocate’ Reviews in Legal Limbo How Will We Know What Sonoma Wines To Drink?

At the center of a dispute between Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and former writer Antonio Galloni are hundreds of Sonoma wine reviews the Italian critic wrote while on a trip to Sonoma in January 2012. By his refusing to give the reviews to the Advocate and instead deciding to publish them on his own site, [...]

bud break 2013 at Benziger in Sonoma

All Things Being Equinox

Bud break came early this year. Real early for some. Reports began coming in from some of the warmer parts of Napa Valley and Carneros as early as mid-February — as early as some some remember. Phil Coturri, who farms vineyards up and down Sonoma Valley, remembers his mentor Joe Miami telling him tall tales [...]

Old World or New? A Chardonnay Showdown

Chardonnay, it is said, is the Queen of the grapes. But she is also, arguably moreso than any other variety, a voice of the vineyard and a blank canvas for winemaking, meaning that she is often misinterpreted and unfairly maligned. Table To Grave recently invited a panel of sommeliers, writers and one winemaker to discuss [...]

bubble room

Big Trouble in the Bubble Room

On one recent Friday evening, a dozen sparkling wine producers from Sonoma Valley — about 11 more than we thought made sparkling wine in Sonoma — were untwisting cages, popping corks and pouring glasses of brut, rosé and blanc de blancs in a tent outside the Sonoma Lodge. The vintners and their wines corralled a [...]

Napa Valley cab is king

How Did Cab Come To Rule Napa Valley?

“Carneros in 1957 was full of sheep,” observes Karen MacNeil as we prepare to taste the first commercial pinot noir ever made from the region that is now synonymous with that grape variety. It’s not the most obvious way to begin a two-day retrospective of Napa Valley wine, but what it did do is remind [...]

Assyrtiko Vines

You Can’t Take the Santorini Out of the Assyrtiko

The island of Santorini floats in the middle of the Sea of Crete, midway between Greece and Turkey. The small island, whose main industry is now tourism, is believed to be one of the oldest winegrowing regions in the world, with signs of grape fermentation dating back to 3500 BC. The grape Assyrtiko, a white [...]

Whole cluster ready to go

Is That a Whole Cluster in Your Pinot or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

When you’re a tasting a glass of pinot noir, how do you know — can you even tell and does it matter — whether or not the wine was made with the whole clusters and not just the grapes? Percentage of stem inclusion doesn’t exactly make for the sexiest or most sparkling label copy, but [...]

botrytisgrapespink

Not Just One, But Two Poems about Botrytis

The following was first read at a Drink.Think a literary and drinking event held at Cantina in San Francisco. Should you be lucky enough to find yourself in France in the fall just before harvest, you might go for a walk in a vineyard with a winegrower. And you might see a cluster of grapes covered [...]

Americans Drink a Lot of Wine, Mostly Shite

When was the last time you purchased a bottle of wine for less than $7? College, maybe? Well, you are a snob. At the annual Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento, we learned what most Americans — not Americans who live in stuck-up places like New York and San Francisco — are drinking. Take [...]

Korbel ‘Champagne’ served at Inaugural lunch incites international incident (as well it should)

A menu served as part of the inaugural activities surrounding Obama’s re-election included a special cuvée made just for the occasion by California sparkling wine producer Korbel. The wine is listed on the menu as “Korbel Natural, Special Inaugural Cuvée Champagne, California.” (Champagne, California! Why haven’t I been there?) Now why on earth the President [...]

Hubble primordial clusters courtesy NASA

Primordial Clusters, From Galaxies to Grapevines

In January, 2012 NASA researchers made a very important discovery. The furthest protocluster of galaxies ever seen. Thirteen billion light years from Earth, scientists, with the help of a little guy named Hubble, saw a cluster of five galaxies just beginning to form. They referred to the galaxies as primordial clusters and predicted that they [...]

cowhorns stuffed with manure

To See the Universe in a Pile of a Shit

It’s late fall; the air is cool but the sun is warm and the vines, having been relieved of the burden of bearing fruit are just beginning to shrug their leaves. Each vine, like most trees and plants across the northern hemisphere is pulling its energy downwards, back into its roots. After months of drawing [...]

redhookwinery

Red Hook Resilience

Amongst the devastation Sandy left in its wake after battering the Atlantic coast was a portion of Red Hook Winery’s 2012 vintage, much of it fermenting in open-top containers when the winds and rains breached the winery’s waterfront facing doors and water came flooding in. The first impression from the Red Hook team was not [...]

Norma Desmond

Is this Wine Corked?

Andrea Immer Robinson bursts into the room like Norma Desmond ready for her close-up. No one notices. Or recognizes her. Or cares. A member of the tasting panel comments that the fruit flavors from this particular vineyard consistently has a “blueish quality” — yes “blueish” — for him and the other guests nod in agreement. [...]

wet grapes

Will clusters rot or dry out? On Friday, the clock begins ticking

On Sunday night, October 21, 2012, it rained. It rained and rained and rained. Mushroom foragers are happy. Gardens are happy. Gardeners are happy. Even the vines, as they sigh away their leaves and settle into dormancy, are happy. As Chuck Mansfield, the winemaker for Hop Kiln Winery in Healdsburg, tells it, “This moderate rain [...]

picked

To Pick or Not to To Pick? That is the Question

For all of September, harvest was happily humming along in most of Wine Country with truckloads of grapes arriving in the early morning hours at crush pads almost daily — chardonnay, gewürztraminer, pinot noir — and the smell of fermentation hung sweetly in the air. But in Napa Valley, there was one thing that wasn’t [...]

PINKOS

Turley Zinfandel Lightens Up

On September 5, the first zinfandel grapes of the 2012 vintage arrived at the crush pad of Turley Wine Cellars. But these weren’t just any grapes. Oh no, these grapes are not destined to become a burly Turley Zinfandel. Picked at just 21 Brix, the fate of this grapes is of a lighter hue. A [...]

Sauvignon blanc grape pick

Sauvignon Blanc Hits Crush Pads

What does sauvignon blanc mean to you? Is it grassy and herby and does it smell slightly of cat piss? Is it rich and tropical, even creamy, with hints of oak? Minerally like a river bed with mouth-watering acidity that screams out for seafood? Or is it sweet, lush and honeyed, served in a delicate [...]