The wines of California

Napa Cab S in glass

Napa stands on its head

The world of wine contains many surprises for the unwary.  One rule of thumb is that as vineyard altitude rises, the average temperatures drop (0.6º C per 100m is the standard figure)  and the resulting wine styles become fresher and more acidic.  But Napa is different in this regard.  As any wine student will know the

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Apothic – friend or foe?

Being a wine student you have to drink – well at least taste – a whole gamut of wines you would never normally buy. Sadly this is not just top class Clarets or Australian superstars; it applies equally to ‘commercially important, widely available’ wines. So this includes white Zinfandel, Black Tower, and the like.  You have

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How natural is natural?

How ‘natural’ is natural? Wine buyers are normally caught between two extremes. On the one hand, supermarkets and bars are mainly stocked with wines made on an industrial scale, to a formula tested in the market.  These wines may well have some character, but they are treated like any other volume product. A major consideration

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the closures

Chameleon Chardonnay

It’s tough being Chardonnay – on the one hand, you are so popular that you have become a girl’s name; on the other hand, people have tired of you and have moved on to Pinot Grigio and even Moscato.  But once you get into quality wines, the real appeal of the grape to the drinker

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Cool coastal Californians

A volume producer who makes interesting, even classy, wines is a real rarity. It is really difficult to be consistently good when handling large volumes of fruit from different locations with slightly varying picking dates and levels of maturity.  Blending volumes tends to bring the quality down to the lowest common factor.  Andover Wine Friends’

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Blind tasting masochism?

Andover Wine Friends unusually had a fine wine supper in August … and also, atypically, indulged in a bit of blind tasting masochism.  Speaking for myself I normally enjoy the considerable challenge of blind tasting, even though it is a very artificial exercise.  This is not just for the rare moments of triumph when you

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Monte Velho

Unknown knowns

Perhaps not surprisingly in mid-August, we had a rather reduced BBC 1 – just seven wines to try to identify and, more importantly, to enjoy.  Looking back over the wines, of these seven only three were ‘should have got that’ wines. The others were impossibly difficult or just a bit odd as was one of

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Authentic or natural?

Review of Jamie Goode and Sam Harrop MW, Authentic wine: towards natural and sustainable winemaking, University of California Press, 2011 The debate between natural and conventional wine makers is normally something of a shouting match between two sides who really do not want to meet and find a middle way.  On the one hand the

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Eyrie Vineyards: more than Pinot Noir

The Eyrie Vineyards are widely credited with the creation of Oregon as the Pinot Noir state of the USA.  The state has just celebrated 50 years of growing grapes for one of the world’s most elusive wine styles, celebrated by Stephen Brook in his up-to-date tribute in the February 2012 edition of Decanter magazine. But

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Inferences true and false

February’s Bring a Bottle Club was off into unchartered territories … again.  It was, however, the last time when we had some clues.  The custom has been for each person to bring their bottle or bottles suitably shrouded but for all to know who has contributed each wine. This inevitably leads to inferences being made

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