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Pisoni Vineyards: A Man and His Jeep

I recently had the good fortune of taking my first trip to the famed Pisoni Vineyards of the Santa Lucia Highlands, above the Salinas Valley. Gary Pisoni was the visionary vineyard planter who put the region on the wine map. He's also a legendary wild man, part Dionysus, part Loki, Pan, you name it. Let's just the man knows how to have a good time.


Wine Tech: The Final Frontier



This new invention might just have legs . . .

Biodynamic Wines: For Earth Day (and Beyond...)

Apropos of Earth Day (my wedding anniversary, BTW), let's talk about the growing movement toward organics and, especially, biodynamics in wine production. Many wine producers think biodynamics is a load of mystical hooey, but it's hard to argue with the satisfaction that so many producers have gained by converting all or some of their vineyard land to this kind of farming. It's also hard to argue against it when some of the most august estates in France--DRC, Domaine Leroy, M. Chapoutier--are doing it, not to mention top California producers like Araujo, Benziger and Robert Sinskey.

Trial-Sized Wine Tubes: Tubular, Dude



I rather like this idea of selling wine in ever-smaller packages. After all, I'm a huge fan of the half-bottle. But this is a great idea for self-education, allowing drinkers to sample, in 2- or 3.5-ounce doses, wines from many different regions. (Two ounces is about one large "shot," while 3.5 ounces is about 70 percent of a normal single-glass pour of wine.)

What Wine Goes with Indian Food?

This question came up while I was lucky enough to be having dinner with Rajat Parr at his house. Rajat is the wine director for the metastasizing Michael Mina Group, which seems to have a new restaurant going up somewhere in the world about every 15 seconds. Known as a miraculous blind taster and to have a deeply knowledgeable mind about wine, Rajat--and this is unknown to many--is also a world-class chef who graduated from the CIA in Hyde Park before deciding to devote his life to pairing food with wine instead of cooking it.

DeLoach Vineyards: Boisset Rising

Last week, I had the opportunity to have lunch with the irrepressible Jean-Charles Boisset, the French owner of many wine companies worldwide. In California, he owns Deloach Vineyards, the venerable Russian River produce; we met at the winery. J-C is doing many interesting things, including changing the entire style of Deloach's Pinots and Chardonnays to a style much more subtle and French than most of what you'll find in California. It's a bold move, but the wines--given their price and their market penetration in supermarkets--have the potential to really help turn the tide for more tasteful and elegant California wines (especially in the Chardonnay department). Bravo.

Rare Burgundies Dinner at the St. Francis

WELCOME TO SF, LA PAULEE!



I have to write a brief report on the craziness that was La Paulée, the big Burgundy party in which everyone brings a great bottle (or ten) to share. There was so much great wine at this year's dinner, held on March 1, that had it not been so delicious, it would have been sickening. It was all collected in a back room at the Westin St. Francis, where the army of sommeliers (somewhere around 60 of them, from all over the country) would fetch it and pour it for the guests who brought it.

Damn...

...that's a lot of glasses.



This was a dinner I attended during the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers up in Napa. It was a good three days, and I gleaned some valuable information about publishing. More than that, however, I made some excellent new friends. Not a bad use of time, particularly for people who are just starting their career.
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