Archive | January, 2010

Visit Argentina:

Dark hair; blue eyes. Tango. Late night Malbec with grass-fed beef, grilled.

Wine Background

     Argentina is romantic in very many ways. First, they all think they’re Italian. Second, they’re sooo good looking. Third, in the sexual sense of the word, I give you tango, and the factoid that Buenos Aires is the No. 1 lingerie market on the planet. Fourth, in the adventure sense of the word, Argentina sports such wonderful, barely populated, high-elevation frontiers. The highest vineyard in California is about 3,600 ft. The highest in the world, accessed through the airport at Salta in northwest Argentina, is at about 12,000 ft. Sure, that’s high, but the whole area is still in the rain-shadow of the 22,000-ft Andes. That not enough for you? Try the Euro-ski-elegance of Bariloche in Patagonia. Or the steamy Wild West atmosphere of Iguazu Falls on the northern border shared with Paraguay and Brazil.

Argentine Wine Tourism

     Mendoza is the primary wine district of Argentina. It is actually nearer to Santiago, Chile than to Buenos Aires. That’s convenient, re a flight from the US, because Santiago is also a little bit east of Miami and New York. Except in the dead of Winter (our Summer), the bus trip from Santiago to Mendoza is run regularly. It is also inexpensive, comfortable, and affords spectacular views of the Andes, particularly Mount Aconcagua (the biggest).
     Once you arrive in Mendoza, you’re going to need two things: a car; and a copy of the latest edition of …

Read this post in its entirety at the Stanford Wine Blog called Straight from the Vine. Includes recommendations for Uruguay.

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ZAP tix winners

Congrats to Fritz Stawitcke and to Adam Barker, who each claimed 2 tickets by answering Agoston Harazthy.

And they both did so seconds ahead of the crowd.

Wonderful California icon, with a difficult name to spell, if not to remember. Harazthy was the intellectual precursor of some marvelous Sonoma Valley personalities. Does anyone remember the Sonoma Valley Wine Patrol, who rode up to the Napa Valley Wine Train one day on horseback (wearing bandanas over their faces), then proceeded at gunpoint to force the patrons on the train to drink Sonoma Valley wine? Marketing just isn’t the same these days.

Have fun at the ZAP party. Don’t neglect to use the spittoons.

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Free ZAP tix !

2 sets of 2 tickets (tix worth $35 apiece) free to the first 2 commentors to answer the following Zin-related question:

Wine Quiz

Name the oft-ridiculed pioneer who, legend would have it, brought Zinfandel to California from eastern Europe. He didn’t do it, but the part of the legend about where he got the grapes tracks very closely with the truth. Hint: He reputedly died while trying to cross a crocodile-infested stream on a narrow tree limb.

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ZAP: Zinfandel Advocates + Producers

Ribald annual Ft Mason fun 30 Jan w/ 10,000 party-goers, close to 1,000 wines. Take a taxi.

Zinfandel is so very California. It’s an immigrant, like so many other residents. It has flourished here, like so many other immigrants. It’s unique, yet it can appear in many guises: from chilled, blush-colored quaffers to inky black, semi-sweet after-dinner head-bangers which just invite everyone to leg-wrestle. For decades its most prevalent form was cheap, honest, workingmans’ red wine sold in half-gallon jugs (big discount if you brought your own jugs). Zinfandel goes great with slow-cooked pork, and even better with the blues. In Europe Zinfandel has done for American wine what Levis did for pants.

Background wine education

     Thanks to DNA research by Dr. Carole Meredith at U.C. Davis, we now know Zinfandel grapes came from Croatia, Continue Reading →

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SF wine class SOLD OUT

      Fundamentals of Taste & Smell on three Monday nights (25 Jan, 1 and 8 Feb) at Fort Mason in San Francisco has sold out. While this news may be mildly inconvenient for prospective students, I’d have to say it is good news for the economy. Bolstered by Gift Certificates from the Christmas season, the class filled up two weeks before the first session.
     The next Fundamentals class at Fort Mason will be a Weekender May 21-23.
     Meanwhile we are also offering a specialty Weekender March 19-21 at Ft. Mason entitled California and Pacific Northwest. This class covers all the best wine growing regions of America’s Left Coast from Ensenada to British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. A number of rare, cult wines are tasted. Take home materials include recommendations on places to eat, and numerous cultural / recreational activities when visiting the region’s various versions of Wine Country.
     There is also a new course coming up in Menlo Park on Wednesday nights starting in February (17 and 24 Feb, 3 Mar). It’s called The Art and Science of Fine Wine. Forty principles which help determine terroir all over the globe are explained and demonstrated with side-by-side wine comparisons. How these differences alter varietal expression are also explored. Finally, winemaker decisions are treated to the same scrutiny. This 3-session course is sophisticated, but entertaining. All the material will be easily understood by moderately intelligent laymen.
     For complete course details, instructor credentials, and online registration visit

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