Please Ban “Buckie”

ShareThe New York Times ran a disturbing article on Buckfast Tonic Wine, an appalling-sounding brew of fermented grapes, sugar, and caffeine that’s being blamed for a national crisis of highly-wired inebriation in Scotland. The government is considering controlling the vile substance, but local fans are responding with protests to the theme of “Don’t Ban Buckie!”
If [...]

How to Order Wine in Paris

ShareThe best bottle of our whole trip to Paris was a 2005 Rouquetaillade La Grange — and I am ashamed to say that I didn’t order it. In fact, my poor traveling companions had got so disgusted with my selections that on day four my dear friend Mark (and thank goodness he is still my [...]

In Memoriam: Erin Findlay

ShareI haven’t written since July, but I have a good excuse: on July 19 my mother — who, although she was not a connoisseur, loved wine and helped trigger my development as a student of wine — was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. As a result I’ve spent the last five plus months fighting, caretaking, [...]

Yes We Cairanne

ShareA recent trip to France convinced me that, ironically, the best place to drink French wine nowadays is in California. Let me give you an example: a red wine from Cairanne in the Southern Rhône, a 2007 Côte du Rhône Villages from Domaine Catherine le Goeuil, which I bought at Kermit Lynch Wines in [...]

Varietal Smack-Down

ShareLast night the Ladies Tasting Society met to blind-taste five red varietals, that is, wines made primarily from, and named after, one grape variety (for example pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon). It was an exciting and highly competitive tasting, since not only did the ladies score ourselves based on how many aspects of the wine [...]

A Mixologist is Born

With the exception of an occasional mimosa — and only when the sparkler destined for adulteration isn’t one of my favorites — I’ve never been much of a wine-cocktail drinker. Oh, and then there’s the sangría we serve every year at our Fourth of July pool party (again, made with zinfandel of a quality that [...]

Rhônes Gone White

ShareUsed to be that when one heard “Rhône,” one thought, “red.” That’s because 90 percent of the wine that comes from France’s Rhône River valley — and all the really famous stuff, like Côte Rotie — is indeed red. Châteauneuf du Pape, although it can come “blanc,” is hardly ever seen in stores or on [...]

Up Dry Creek, Even Further

ShareDespite the attacks waged by Wine Dictator magazine on poor Dry Creek Valley, after visiting 10 standout Dry Creek producers a couple weeks ago during their Passport party weekend, I remain thoroughly charmed. Although the chief California editor believes Dry Creek lacks a signature varietal, I think it’s clearly zinfandel–in fact, two zins and a [...]

Chardonnay, why oh why?

ShareI’m sitting here drinking a delicious glass of 2006 Chateau St. Jean Robert Young Chardonnay. It’s rich, with plenty of vanilla and nutmeg, perfect as a nightcap without food, kinda like dessert. I have no complaints, except: why oh why am I falling back on chardonnay? Because yesterday — in good part because I’m preparing [...]

Up Dry Creek

ShareDry Creek Valley just can’t get no respect. Lately James Laube, the chief California taster for the Wine Dictator Spectator magazine, has been pointing thumbs-down on the entire appellation, a bucolic stretch of vineyards and dairy farms tucked into the northwestern corner of Sonoma county. Dry Creek, he laments, has an identity problem: it lacks [...]