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, [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Rudy Mihal

Rudy Brings Right Touch to Sonoma

Restaurant Rudy might just be the best little restaurant in the heart of Wine Country you never heard of. Rudy Mihal, who left Spoonbar last year to start his own place, opened the new spot quietly this fall in Sonoma, in an unassuming space that has been a revolving door with three restaurants in a [...]

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 [...]

Trieste, Friuli-Venezia Giulia photo via Flickr/desta

Harvest Friuli Style: Brovada

Come November, vignerons across the Northern Hemisphere are bracing themselves for the finish line: they are puffing their chests, widening their stride and pressing, pressing, quite literally, towards the end of harvest. The red wine fermentations that they have been minding so carefully have bubbled to a stop; skins and seeds have been shoveled from [...]

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 [...]

The view from Mt. St. Helena

What We Talk About When We Talk About Napa

Napa Valley is a place. A stretch of land. Napa is a city. Napa is a state of mind. It’s a state of wine. What’s the first thing you think of when you think of “Napa?” The answer probably has more to do with you than it does with the place, the people who live [...]

good morning, handsome

Birds in the Vineyard

For most of the year, the vineyard is a great place for birds. The nooks and crannies created by canes and cordons make for perfect nesting spots while the lush canopy overhead provides much-needed shade and protection from predators. The soil is a genuine buffet of creepy crawling critters – from insects for the starlings [...]

gotwine?

It’s Not You, It’s ‘Meh’: How Many Tastings Are Too Many?

Two of the seemingly most popular wine descriptors used by visitors of wine country on Yelp are “just okay” and “meh” (or sometimes just “eh”). A couple of other phrases that pop up again and again are: “I wasn’t blown away” and the wines were “not memorable.” Are there a lot of mediocre wines in the [...]

eatthecityquote

‘Eat the City’ Author Robin Shulman

A city is a living natural place. You may not think it to look at it, but the City, New York, teems with more naturally sustained life than some of our Central Valley farmland. And if people take anything away from her new book Eat the City (subtitled A Tale of the Fishers, Foragers, Butchers, [...]

Grapes

Honey Bees in the Vineyard

If you learn only one thing from studying a honey bee colony it is probably that a hive functions as one organism. You cannot separate any one part of it from another. It is all interdependent. Then you’d do well to extrapolate that out to realize this is a microcosm of nature. In this light, [...]

bwgrapes

Waiting to Exhale

Take a deep breath. Now, hold it. Now keep holding it. Seriously, don’t exhale! Keep holding your breathe. This is what the second week of July, 2012 feels like in Wine Country. And no, it isn’t because we’re driving through a tunnel, free-diving for abalones or watching the heroine in a horror film fumble with [...]

The Emperor

A Winery Goes to the Dogs

Napa Valley is not a bad place to be a dog. I mean, sometimes you get to run around the vineyards and chase Jack Rabbits and meet those dirty, socially awkward vineyard dogs, but often, let’s face it, we get stuck waiting in the hot car while the Mister and Missus go into the cool, [...]

vineswater

Vines Still Happy, But Slightly Stressed

“Things are moving fast out there!” reports viticulturist Kevin Skene from Sonoma. Warm weather continues this week in all areas “shortening the window to get passes in” according to Matt Hardin of Barbour Vineyards in Napa Valley. “The conditions are warm, tracking perfectly, and are shaping up to be as great as 2008,” says John Conover, the General [...]

Rendering of the restored Fagiani's

Fagiani’s Fits Fabric of Napa with ‘Floating Glass Wine Cave’

The latest details on the rising of Fagiani’s in downtown Napa, which we’d previously reported would reach three-stories and include a rooftop bar and dining area, were delivered in the form of a typically perfunctory Paolo Lucchesi missive. The redesign and operation of the long-shuttered restaurant is in the capable hands of NYC-based design troupe AvroKo, which is [...]

frenchlaundrysign

Between the Sheets at The French Laundry

The clock above the kitchen door reads 10:30 a.m. The first wave of prep cooks — which have been here for more than five hours — are moving in accordance with Chef Thomas Keller’s simple reminder placard beneath the second-keeping clock: “A Sense of Urgency,” it reads. Which is exactly what is needed in order [...]

devilsdictionary

A Totally Honest Guide to Wine Industry Titles

American journalist, critic, author and longtime San Francisco newspaper columnist Ambrose Bierce began The Devil’s Dictionary — a collection of satiric definitions for common words — as a series in a local newspaper in 1881. The biting definitions spared no one, with the author casting a cynical eye on all that crossed his path. In a foreword to [...]

The wood-burning oven at Ciccio in Yountville

Fired Up: Ciccio’s Quest For The Perfect Pizza Crust

“I’m so over food that needs a pedigree. We’re just going to cook,” says Polly Lappetitio, the Chef at Frank Altamura’s (of Altamura Winery) soon-to-open pizzeria, Ciccio, in Yountville. Having spent 13 years at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone restaurant (the last five as Executive Chef) we can understand her need to simplify. For [...]

The view to the Pacific from the vineyard

The Profound and the Profane: Winemaking on the Edge of What’s Possible

Greg LaFollette can remember wanting to be a winemaker since he was 17-years-old. But it didn’t seem practical, so… he became a professional bagpipe player instead. And while he still carries his bagpipes in the back seat of his Dodge pickup truck, having worked harvest for 60 vintages from Australia to Chile to Sonoma, it [...]