Finally, A Wine Book Roundup That Doesn’t Include My Books!

It’s true! I can actually talk about wine books that aren’t mine, I swear! My pile of wine book media samples has been piling up here at 1WD HQ, not because I haven’t found anything worthy to recommend (quite the opposite, in fact), but because, well, it just didn’t feel prudent to offer critiques of other people’s books while I was busy promoting the release of my own. It just felt like a huge invitation for Karma negativo.

But enough time has wound by since my books were released that I think we’re in the safe zone for a handful of wine book reviews, and so I give you four recent releases that I think are worth a look (and maybe some of your hard-earned cash):

Hugh Johnson’’s Pocket Wine Book 2021 (Mitchell Beazley, $16.99)

At this point, I have pretty much run out of things to say about this small-but-mighty tome, which I recommend every year because, simply put, it has no equal in the wine world in terms of packing as much useful information as possible into as small a format as possible. Every serious student of the vine should have this pocket book.

If you don’t yet own a copy, or haven’t refreshed your edition in a few years, you should pull the trigger on this one, ASAP. For 2021, Johnson devotes the books glossy latter pages to the topic of terroir, and in his inimitably British way, he pulls no punches (e.g., there is a small section entitled “How to kill your terroir”).

How to Drink: A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing (Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers), (Princeton University Press, about $15)

Finally, A Wine Book Roundup That Doesn’t Include My Books!

How to describe this little delight? Simultaneously one of the strangest, most endearing, and surprisingly useful wine books that you’re ever likely to encounter, How to Drink is a translation of Latin epic poem written in a sort of ancient Greek style by Vincent Obsopoeus, first released in the 1500s in Bavaria.

If that combo isn’t odd enough for you, the entire thing is meant as a treatise on how to drink without succumbing to the pitfalls of drunkenness; and, if you do happen to get drunk and/or get involved in drinking games, how to manage those scenarios, as well. I am, I suspect, failing miserably right now in trying to relate then cleverness and readability of this updated, modern translation of the work of a talented poet of whom you probably have never heard before… just buy it, you won’t be disappointed!

The Goode Guide to Wine: A Manifesto of Sorts by Jamie Goode (University of California Press, about $19)

Finally, A Wine Book Roundup That Doesn’t Include My Books!

Never has a wine book had a subtitle that so accurately describes its contents. A collection of musings from longtime wine writer Jamie Goode, who has a PhD in plant biology and, therefore, tends to do his best work when explaining wine in more scientific terms. Is this gathering of wine advice tidbits his best book? Probably not, but it is his most accessible. Somehow, despite a premise that could easily have devolved into arrogant mansplaining, and a penchant for utilizing sentences so short that it suggests a phobia against punctuation, this book manages to come off as friendly, informed, and useful.

The Sommelier’s Cookbook: Recipes and Wine Pairings for Discerning Palates by Joanie Métivier (Rockridge Press, $24.99)

Finally, A Wine Book Roundup That Doesn’t Include My Books!

Full disclosure: I was asked by the author, who I was lucky enough to meet and hang out with during some of my wine media travels, to provide an endorsement for this book (which also happens to share the same publishing house as my recent books). So with that in mind, I’ll refrain from a detailed review, and only tell you in a friendly way that if you’re in the market for a cookbook that has wine at the center of its beating spiritual heart, this is one to put high on your list. The style is accessibly straightforward and knowledgeable, the layout and photos are excellent, and the recipes look (to my untrained eye, anyway), pretty damned delicious.


Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2020. Originally at Finally, A Wine Book Roundup That Doesn’t Include My Books! from - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Daily Wine News: Embracing Smoke

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Esther Mobley reports on St. George Spirits’ 2019 project that used smoke-tainted wines into a purposefully smoky grappa. “A temporal terroir” is what Winters called it. Rather than concealing the smoke, “I think there’s a beautiful, sad poetry of taking that smoke taint and moving it to the front,” he said. “To make something that bears the mark of that time.”

Lia Picard explores Southern wines in Wine Enthusiast. “Growers in the South must contend with a hot climate… Despite these challenges, winemakers have used a combination of native, hybrid and vitis vinifera grapes, with viticulture practices targeted to the region’s unique climate, to create a thriving wine scene.”

In Food & Wine, Nabil Ayers profiles Frederique Boudouani, who through his company, Abu Nawas, is an unlikely champion for natural wine in the Midwest.

Small-production, in-demand wines often end up on allocation, but what does that mean for consumers? Vicki Denig takes a look in Wine-Searcher.

Elin McCoy explores Lebanese wine, and why it needs your support more than ever, in Bloomberg.

Lettie Teague highlights a handful of online wine events worth your time in the Wall Street Journal. (subscription req.)

The humble telephone is one of the most overlooked sales channels in direct to consumer marketing, says Felicity Carter in Meininger’s, who talks to an expert on how to use it.

Daily Wine News: The Magic of Age

(Source: Wikimedia)

“There is an element of magic in wine ageing. We know, when we buy a top Riesling from a great German vineyard, that it could probably outlive us. We buy this aura of glamour with the wine, an extra dimension of time that shimmers, tantalizingly, always out of reach. It’s difficult to know which is the more seductive, the aura of the past or the aura of the yet-to-come. Drinking a wine while it’s still improving can be more exciting than drinking it at its peak; perversely, there can be a faint sense of anti-climax about a wine which is unlikely to improve further.  It’s a bit like climbing a high and steep hill: you exclaim over each new view as you climb, but when you get to the top there’s not always that much difference.” On Tim Atkin’s site, Margarent Rand ponders the magic of aging wines.

Emily Monaco reports on the many forces upending the 2020 Champagne harvest in Wine Enthusiast. “Underscoring these shifts, the 2020 Champagne harvest began on August 17. Fifty years ago, it opened on September 27.”

The blockbuster wines that line supermarket aisles have an important role to play in the wine industry, says Robert Joseph in Meininger’s.

On, Walter Speller reflects on the life of Diego Planeta, the giant of Sicilian wine. “Thanks to his guidance and intuition, today, in this strip of coast of Sicily, there is a unique story to tell, made up of men, vineyards and ideas.”

Grape Collective explores California’s next generation of leading women winemakers.

In Reuters, Karl Plume reports on the impact of wildfires on West Coast vineyards.

Mike Veseth, the wine economist, reviews three recently released wine books that approach global wine from very different perspectives.

Daily Wine News: Pét-Nat’s History

Bottles of pét-nat

The story of pét-nat’s unstoppable rise is missing one key footnote: the historic wines, from Diois to Gaillac, it was inspired by. Zachary Sussman delves into their history in PUNCH. “From the sweet pink fizz of Savoie’s Bugey-Cerdon to the ancestral-method wines of southern France’s Gaillac, Limoux and the Rhône’s Diois, plus the hazy, bottle-fermented frizzante of prosecco and Emilia-Romagna, these storied wines existed generations before anyone uttered the words “pét-nat.” So why do we hardly ever hear about them?”

Tom Wark remembers Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a champion of the wine industry. “Justice Ginsburg embraced an interpretation of the Constitution that has led to a radical re-imagining of the role of state regulation of alcohol.”

In SevenFifty Daily, Hannah Wallace talks to several wine pros about their experience with losing their senses of smell and taste due to Covid-19.

Antonio Galloni offers his notes on recent Chianti Classico releases in Vinous.

In Meininger’s, Felicity Carter talks to Dry Farm Wines founder Todd White, who has taken natural wine from a niche to an online juggernaut, by using the language of health while disparaging conventional wine.

In Decanter, Chris Mercer remembers Sicilian wine legend Diego Planeta.

Jez Fredenburgh looks at the Portuguese vintners taking natural wine back to its roots in National Geographic.

Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 9/20/20

Welcome to my weekly roundup of the wine stories that I find of interest on the web. I post them to my magazine on Flipboard, but for those of you who aren’t Flipboard inclined, here’s everything I’ve strained out of the wine-related muck for the week.

The Birth of ‘Wine Country’ Is a Story of Bugs, Taxes and War
A brief history of California wine.

Meet the maker: the Portuguese vintners taking natural wine back to its roots
NatGeo does wine.

‘I Have To Work’: Agricultural Workers In The West Harvest Crops Through Fire Smoke
When that’s the only way to put food on the table, you work.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Orange Wine—But Were Too Afraid to Ask
The Robb Report skims the surface, but does get some ket things right.

Smoke, wildfires challenge West Coast wine industry
Stories from Oregon.

Napa Winemakers Are Pledging Over $1 Million to Make the Wine Industry More Inclusive
Excellent news.

Uncertainty Reigns in Spain’s Strange Vintage
Rough times.

Canada’s Napa Valley Seeks Elusive Audience: Canadian Wine Drinkers
Not just America that has f*cked up wine shipping laws.

Sicilian Wine Pioneer Diego Planeta Dies
He helped put Sicily back on the map.

Harvest Finally Brings Good News for Champagne
Quality looks very high.

Smoke and Mirrors: Fixing a Fiery Vintage
Blake Gray learns some of the options.

Recalling Justice Ginsburg as a Champion of the Wine Industry
Tom Wark reminds us she was on our side for wine, too.

Mozel Watson: Harlem’s wine god
Great story!

The seemingly impossible: an artisanal bottle of California wine for $10
It’s hard to imagine they can keep this up.

Wine Sales Up, Winery Profits Down
A new survey shows a double-edged sword.

Champagne Growers Help Cultivate The Grape Varieties Of The Future
Climate change requires change.

Around the World, the 2020 Wine Harvest May Be Most Troubled Ever
Elin McCoy goes ‘round the world for a harvest rundown.

After hazy weeks, threat of smoke taint lingers over Napa Valley grape crop
There will be more stories like this coming out soon.

Iron Age wine press yields clues to Phoenician building techniques
Excellent winemaking process.

The Vanishing Point
A lovely piece of writing.

The grands crus of Bordeaux in the summer of ’69
A wonderful reverie.

Women, Wine and the Uncomfortable Conversation We Need To Have
A worthy long read.

Fires Leave 2020 Vintage in the Balance
A rundown of the troubles.

How Will Weeks of Wildfire Smoke on the West Coast Impact the 2020 Vintage?
Badly, is the answer.

California farmworkers say they didn’t get masks during wildfires

The post Wine News: What I’m Reading the Week of 9/20/20 appeared first on Vinography.

Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For September 21, 2020

I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

Upscale your palate! My new books are now available from Rockridge Press!

Copyright © 2020. Originally at Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For September 21, 2020 from - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

Daily Wine News: ROC Certification

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre reports on the new ROC Certification. “The Regenerative Organic Certification… is a new program launched in August by the Regenerative Organic Alliance, a group based in Santa Rosa, Calif., dedicated to reforming agriculture and fighting climate change. The certification emphasizes three “pillars” of regenerative farming: Soil health, eschewing synthetic chemicals and practicing carbon capture to trap more carbon in the soil than is released; animal welfare, including a strict ban on CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations; and social fairness, including living wages and good working conditions for farmworkers.:

In the New York Times, Dan Bilefsky explores the new generation of winemakers putting the Okanagan Valley on the map, and the hurdles the Canadian wine region still faces.

“The sun has set on harvest season in Champagne and for the first time in at least six months, the Champenois have something to celebrate: the potential quality of the 2020 vintage,” writes Caroline Henry in Wine-Searcher.

Smoke taint is the story of the 2020 vintage, says W. Blake Gray in Wine-Searcher, so how can winemakers work around and/or with it?

On, Arnica Rowan looks at the quiet revolution going on in the world of wine: vermouth.

In Wine Enthusiast, Kenya Foy looks at how TV shows use drinks to develop characters.

Diego Planeta, a pioneer of the Sicilian wine industry, former president of the Settesoli cooperative and founder of Planeta winery, has died at the age of 80, reports the Drinks Business.

Vinography Unboxed: Week of 9/13/20

Hello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I’m pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week included a number of interesting wines. For starters I’ve got a slightly aged white Rhone blend from Alder Springs Vineyard up in the mountains above Mendocino. It was probably delicious to start, but with 5 years of age on it now it’s fantastically delicious, as its primary fruit flavors are starting to become mixed with herbal notes.

I’ve also got a very nice Chardonnay from the Hawke’s Bay region of New Zealand, whose gravelly soils and maritime influence make for some excellent cool-climate viticulture. This Chardonnay is named Heartwood as it represents a very small batch of wine made in special barrels, whose staves are made of the heartwood of the oak. Ordinarily you’d expect such a wine to be slaked with oak flavors, but this one is nicely restrained in the flavors imparted by the wood.

Moving on to reds, I’ve got a few Oregon Pinot Noirs, the first of which is a real lip-smacker of a wine from J. Christopher, a brand that is a collaboration between Erni Loosen and guitarist-turned-winemaker Jay Somers. This wine is a special cuvee of the best barrels from several of the vineyards in the Eola-Amity Hills sub-AVA of the Willamette Valley.

I was introduced to the Holocene project this week by two incarnations of Pinot Noir, as interpreted by winemaker Todd Alexander, who made a name for himself in Napa before moving to Washington State. He currently makes wines for his Force Majeure label in Washington, but Holocene represents his Oregon Pinot Noir efforts, and these two inagural bottles suggest good things to come. As a winemaker, Alexander is best known for big, rich, ripe wines, so it’s particularly exciting to see these wines using 20% new oak and clocking in at the low end of 13% alcohol.

Finally, closer to home we’ve got another inaugural vintage from the new winery La Pelle (French for “The Shovel”). It’s a collaboration between Philippe Melka’s business partner and director of winemaking Maayan Koschitzky, and the duo of Peter Richmond and Miguel Luna, who help run the vineyard management outfit named Silverado Farming Company. The wines show a lot of promise while hewing to a fairly traditional expression of Napa Cabernet, though with admirably restrained oak and ripeness.

Lastly, let’s look at the latest release from Far Niente in Napa, whose 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon is very true to its classic form, meaning it will satisfy those looking for a ripe expression of Napa fruit, although it must be said this vintage offers a measure of freshness that is not always present in Napa Cabernet.

Tasting Notes

2015 Alder Springs Vineyard “Apex 39” White Blend, Mendocino County, California
Light gold in color, this wine smells of chamomile and poached pears. In the mouth, wonderfully creamy pear and faint lemongrass flavors mix with lemon curd and a hint of chamomile. Silky and rich but with excellent acidity, this wine lingers for a while with a lovely spicy citrus kick in the finish. A blend of 27% Marsanne, 25% Picpoul Blanc, 24% Roussanne, and 24% Viognier all grown at 2700 feet of elevation. 13.4% alcohol. 240 cases made. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $??

2017 Tony Bish “Heartwood” Chardonnay, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand
Light yellow-gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon curd and melted butter. In the mouth, silky flavors of lemon curd and vanilla mix with melted butter and a touch of toasted popcorn. Decent acidity and length. Missing a bit of zip. 13% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $31. click to buy.

2016 J. Christopher “Lumiére – Special Selection” Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of green herbs and forest floor. In the mouth beautifully bright raspberry pastille flavors are aromatically sweet and incredibly floral while notes of cedar and earth swirl underneath. Gorgeous acidity and faint powdery tannins round out an exceptional wine. 13.5% alcohol Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $32. click to buy.

2018 Holocene “Memorialis” Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton District, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of recurrants and raspberries with a hint of dried herbs. In the mouth, raspberry and redcurrant flavors have a zingy citrusy brightness thanks to excellent acidity. Notes of sour cherry linger in the finish. Barely perceptible tannins. 13.3% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $53. click to buy.

2018 Holocene “Apocrypha” Pinot Noir, Yamhill-Carlton District, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry and cranberry fruit. In the mouth, cedar and cherry and cranberry mix with orange peel as excellent acidity makes for a juicy mouthwatering package. Faint powdery tannins hang at the edges of perception as the wine finishes with cranberry notes. 13.4% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $??.

2018 La Pelle Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Inky opaque garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and cassis with a hint of green herbs. In the mouth, cassis and black cherry fruit have excellent juiciness thanks to zingy acidity. Notes of black pepper and blackberry linger with a faint bitterness in the finish as powdery tannins gradually increase their grip on the palate. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $75. click to buy.

2017 La Pelle “Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry and cassis with hints of dried herbs. In the mouth, dried herbs suffuse flavors of black cherry and cassis that are enlivened with decent acidity. Muscular tannins mostly hang back and let the fruit do the talking, only flexing a bit in the finish as hints of bitter greens linger on the palate. 14.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $175. click to buy.

2018 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cassis and black cherry. In the mouth, black cherry and cassis flavors mix with cocoa powder and toasty oak. Good acidity keeps the wine juicy and drives notes of herbs and cassis in the finish. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $115. click to buy.

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