Science Geek Winemaker Aspires To Mouth-Feel

January 23, 2008

Tandem Pinot Noir

A look at the wines created by Greg La Follette.

In a temporary looking office of a converted apple processing plant, a beaming Greg La Follette holds an elongated glass tube in purple-stained hands. ‘I just finished tasting the lees,” says the noted winemaker while offering the tube for further examination. ‘‘Andre Tchelistcheff taught that it was the way to know what was going on in the barrels. Not many people do it though,” he adds. That is not surprising since the lees are comprised of dead yeast, grape skins, seeds and other fermentation detritus.

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The Antidote To Boring Wines

November 27, 2007

Martinelli Pinot Noir

A look at the wines of the Martinelli Winery.

Inside a red barn along Sonoma’s River Road is the Martinelli Winery tasting room. The Martinelli family planted their first vineyard in 1899 on a site known as ‘‘Jackass Hill,” a location reportedly so steep that only a fool would harvest there. During the ensuing century, the family has acquired several other prime vineyards and now their portfolio includes excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Syrah, many of which are available only through their mailing list.

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Treat Your Guests to Great Wines From Israel

May 24, 2007

Recanati Wine

Israeli wine reviews including Recanati, Agur, Ben Hanna, Domaine du Castel, and Yatir.

The next time you are expecting guests, whether for an intimate dinner party or an open house, consider serving wine from one of Israel’s wineries. World-class kosher wines are being produced at a growing number number of excellent wineries in the Holy Land, spearheaded by winemakers with a mission to continue to improve their products.

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California Dreamin’: Wines Enhance the Holidays

December 20, 2006

Ferrari-Carano Siena

California wines for the holiday season.

With the holidays around the corner, it is time to choose the wines that will be served with the festive meals. Since the menu and head count often vary, it is best to generalize the wine choices rather than try to match them perfectly to the food and guests. Ideally, the wines should have solid fruit flavors that are true to the grape varietal. Balanced acidity is important to allow the wine to hold up to rich fare, and so is a good finish that will keep things interesting. For this year’s celebrations, I recommend wines from the Napa and Sonoma valleys.

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Ceja Vineyards Are A Family Affair

August 16, 2006

Ceja Vineyards

A visit and tasting at the Ceja Vineyards.

Amelia Ceja does everything with passion, style and a smile. The second-generation American met her husband Pedro while picking grapes when they were 9 years old and they shared a dream of having their own vineyards. In 1999, they established the Ceja Vineyards along with Pedro’s brother Armando (a University of California-Davis grad who is their winemaker) and his wife Martha. Amelia, who studied literature and history at UC-San Diego, is the first Mexican-American woman to serve as president of a wine producing company, and the entire family is involved in all aspects of the business.

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California’s Vines Climb In Quality, Popularity

May 17, 2006

De Loach Vineyards

A look at California wines on the 30th Anniversary of the “Judgement of Paris.”

An event that forever changed the wine world occurred in Paris on May 24, 1976. Noted wine maven Steve Spurrier organized a ‘‘blind” tasting to compare California and French wines. Unexpectedly, the nine French wine experts chose California’s Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon as the winners over several well-known French wines. While Europeans were shocked and Americans pleased, California’s reputation as a source of fine wines was established.

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Maison Drouhin Produces Fine Wines

April 26, 2006

Joseph Drouhin Clos de Mouches

A dinner and tasting with Robert Drouhin.

I want to be Robert Drouhin when I grow up. Tall, articulate and refined, he is the Chairman of the noted Burgundy producer Maison Joseph Drouhin with its 162 acres of prime vineyards in Cote d’Or and Chablis. And if that is not enough, he is blessed to have all four of his children working in the family business.

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Wine Aficionados Gather To Help Feed Hurricane Victims

October 19, 2005

Dalla Valle

Charity wine events are enjoyable ways to support good causes.

Tasting wines while supporting a worthwhile cause makes a doubly enjoyable evening. Members of the wine industry who share their expertise often attend such charity events, and frequently, there are opportunities to purchase rare and exotic items usually not available to the general public.

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California Winemakers Reclaiming The Chardonnay Grape

July 20, 2005

Frank Family Vineyard

A look at some recently released California Chardonnays.

It is ironic that Chardonnay is an extremely popular wine while it is also among the most scorned. In California, more acres of Chardonnay are planted than any other varietal. Paradoxically, a large number of consumers subscribe to the “ABC” theory of wine selection: “Anything But Chardonnay.” Chardonnay’s appeal appears to have been its undoing. The surge in consumer demand during the 1980s led to increased production, often without adequate attention to quality. Many producers ascribed to a cookbook approach, twisting the wine to fit biochemical specifications instead of allowing the natural flavors to develop. Others believed that grapes grown in warmer California should be treated in the same fashion as grapes grown in the cooler Burgundy region of France.

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