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Winemakers

Wine Survivor: Reality Show "The Winemakers" Debuts This Weekend

I must admit that I haven't been much of a fan of reality tv. I prefer my entertainment to be of the made-up variety. As much as I love food and cooking, the cheftality tv shows have been pretty horrendous. Watching Gordon Ramsay turn red while yelling at idiots is fun for about five seconds. And witnessing Padma and Tom Collichio's eternal scowls and disapproving head shaking is as inviting as cold oatmeal.

Slow Drink Nation

Drink Tables

They call it Slow Food, but let me tell you that some of the biggest lines are at the drinks tables. Of all the sections, though, I have to give the nod for the beer pavilion as the best of them all. Why? Not just because it's the quickest service, but because of the diversity and breadth of the selection. The beer pavilion is divided into three bars, each representing a method of beer delivery: bottle, cask, and draught (below).

Peay Vineyards: A North Country Love Fest

I'm just back from the annual Peay Vineyards Sommelier Love Fest. For the wine trade only, it's an event that I am fortunate enough to insinuate myself into. I bring you pictures for two reasons.

Sicily's COS winery: New Wine in Very Old Containers



I recently became reacquainted with some of my favorite wines in the world, the wines of COS, a small producer from the southeast corner of Sicily in the DOCG region of Cerasuolo di Vittoria. A year and a half ago, I was fortunate enough to visit this property and spend some time with its owner, Giusto Occhipinti (below).



Some of his wines, such as the bottle pictured here, are unusual in that they're fermented and aged not in steel tanks or in wooden barrels but in terra-cotta amphorae.

Chateau Musar at Local: Lebanon and On and On



Last week, Serge Hochar (above right), proprietor of one of the world's most unusual wineries, was in town to do a vertical tasting. His winery is Chateau Musar, improbably located in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. About 7,000 years ago, this area was perhaps the world's first fine wine region, as its products were exported around the Mediterranean, even to Greece, which already bustling with wine. Hochar has managed to steer the winery out of trouble, miraculously guiding it through Lebanon's 15-year civil war of the 1970s and '80s while losing only one vintage (1976).

Robert Mondavi: RIP

The great man died today. His most lasting achievement will be, for better or worse, the elevation of the Napa--and therefore the California--wine industry from small-time regional curiosity to international juggernaut. More than as a maker of phenomenal wines, he has come to be known as a great marketer, for both his own winery and for wine in general.

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.


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.

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.

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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