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Showing posts from December, 2008

Organic Wine Match of the Day: Tandem Porter-Bass Chardonnay

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Chard, schmard… if you think all California Chardonnays taste like Kendall-Jackson’s, you’re missing out on many of the world’s greatest wines, my friend. There’s a reason why, for instance, those French judges rated Chateau Montelena’s Chardonnay better than the finest of France way back in 1976, re the in/famous Judgement of Paris (recently part-fictionalized in the film, Bottle Shock): simply put, the Chardonnay grape excels in Californian terroirs.

California vintners have advanced viticultural and oenological light years since 1976. They’ve gone so far, so fast, in fact, that the best of them today are back to where the grape started: with more authentic clones, more sustainable vineyards in cooler climates, and barrel fermenting as naturally as possible in ways pretty much like what’s been done in France for centuries.

Winemakers like Greg La Follette of Tandem Winery are highly regarded among other California winemakers precisely because he takes so many “natural” risks: sta…

New Treats for the Organic Wine Lover

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By most accounts, certified organic foods now make up about 5% of supermarket sales, and are an $18 billion industry. But why drink organic wines? Like consumers, wine growers have been moving towards organic farming for over a decade for health and environmental concerns, and because it makes sense to farm sustainably for the benefit of future generations and vineyard productivity.

Notwithstanding the somewhat misguided, prevalent consumer view that organic as well as biodynamic wines represent “fringe” elements of the wine production industry, the number of organic producers around the world continues to grow. Why? For the same reasons why all-time classics like Domaine Tempier in Bandol, Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace, Beaucastel in the Rhône, Mas de Daumas Gassac in the Languedoc, and Domaine del la Romanée-Conti in Burgundy have long followed these practices: because it produces better wine in both the short term and the long.

So if anything, producers like Paul Dolan and Ceàgo in …

It's 3 AM, Are Restaurant Wine Lists Answering the Call?

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It’s 3:00 AM in the restaurant world. The economy is rattling our windows, costs are obliterating margins, and last year’s projections seem as hopeful as a bride without a first date. The first thing every savvy restaurateur does under these circumstances is not just batten down the hatches, rail in expenses, get focused on advertising and more aggressive with promotions, but also tighten up menus and wine lists.

Of course, everyone knows what a wine list is – the list of wines you can order in a restaurant. Yeah, right. Like “service” is someone taking your order without first saying hello, without telling you the specials or giving intelligent answers, slapping your dishes on the table in no particular order, forgetting to refill your water or to offer coffee, and then taking your money without saying thank you or goodbye.

What do consumers actually look for in a wine list? Seventeen years ago the nation’s most popular wine magazine actually put that question to its own readers –…