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The Annapolis Winery, just a few miles away from the Sonoma Coast

Date: Fri, Apr 19, 2013 Wine Tasting

Last month, we rented a beach house at Sea Ranch on the Sonoma Coast for a couple of days. The private road leading to the house was just on the opposite side of a small road going inland and a sign indicating a winery, so after a hike along the coast, we felt adventurous and followed a deep redwood-filled canyon until we reached the tiny farming town of Annapolis.

The winery was easy to find, just off Annapolis road, on top of a vineyard-covered hill. There was a small and homey tasting room opened every day until 5:00pm surrounded by a grassy meadow where people can bring their picnic and sip wine while enjoying the panoramic view.

The place was an apple orchard when the Scalabrini family moved to Annapolis in 1976. Vineyards of Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon blanc were planted in 1978. Today, the family makes small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and Zinfandel.

The local growing conditions, at 3 miles from the Pacific Ocean and an elevation of about 1,000 feet, are particularly favorable to wine production. The land is cooler than Carneros or the Russian River Valley while much less foggy than the coast, so the area is considered well suited for Pinot Noir. For the Scalabrinis, the focus is on quality, not quantity: sustainable farming, hand-picked fruits, and minimalist winemaking style. The results are lush and intense wines, sometimes a little too big for our taste.

We found the Cabernet Sauvignon quite big and oaky and the Zinfandel, full-bodied, very fruit-forward, and like most Zinfandel, high in alcohol. We preferred their 2007 Annapolis Pinot Noir. The wine was not light but smooth with rich flavors of dark fruits and spices followed by a well-balanced finish.

After the tasting, we walked for a while in the vineyards to enjoy the the warmth of afternoon sun and the views of the redwood-covered hills, a landscape so peaceful, so different from the rugged coast just a few miles away.

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The Côte Saint-Jacques in Joigny, Burgundy's northernmost vineyard

Date: Mon, Dec 10, 2012 Wine Tasting

Last time we were in France we visited my father-in-law in Joigny, a medieval town in northern Burgundy, just 150 km from Paris and 1 hour or so by train. The old town is particularly picturesque with its narrow cobbled streets and timber-framed 16th century houses. The best view of the city is at the top of the Côte Saint-Jacques, a steep south-facing hillside overlooking the river Yonne. This is where you find thirty hectares of vineyards, planted with Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The location, the northernmost wine district in Burgundy, is on the edge of sustainable viticulture but vines on the hill are protected from the north winds by the forest of Othe on the plateau and from spring frosts thanks to the micro-climate created by the river below.

Historical records indicate that vines were growing in Joigny as early as 1082. The production being so close to Paris, the wines of Joigny were well known and quite popular at the tables of the kings of France. The most famous was the vin gris, a light Rosé primarily made of Pinot Gris, which apparently was a favorite of King Louis XIV. In the 19th century until the phylloxera devastation, Joigny was an active winegrowing and shipping center

In 1990, chef Michel Lorain, owner of the 3 Michelin star hotel and restaurant La Côte Saint-Jacques decided to revive the vineyard on the hill of Saint-Jacques and restore the wines' former high reputation. Five hectares of Chardonnay were planted first, followed later by 2 hectares of Pinot Noir and half a hectare of a mix of Malbec, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon and Tressot in order to produce the famous Vin Gris de Joigny Côte Saint Jacques.

We visited Michel Lorain's winery, the Domaine du Clos Saint Jacques, where we met with Sales and Marketing Manager Pâquerette Jacquemin at the wine shop. She gave us a detailed and passionate pitch about the revival of the vineyard, the expansion to the Japanese market and the recent association with Manuel Janisson of Champagne Janisson. She then took us on a tour of the winemaking facilities located in a 16th century building, which used to be the home of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul when he was living in Joigny.

She generously gave us a sampler of the estate wines that we tasted later with our family. Overall, I found the wines dry, mineral, and crisp, and thought that the whites were more successful than the red.

The 2011 Bourgogne Chardonnay Domaine du Clos Saint Jacques had a light yellow color and a fresh nose of green apple and citrus. The palate had a grippy acidity that worked well with our sauerkraut.

The 2009 Bourgogne Chardonnay Domaine du Clos Saint Jacques Cuvée Les Capucins was slightly fuller than the regular cuvee, with a good amount of minerality and acidity that would team well with shellfish.

The 2008 Bourgogne Chardonnay Domaine du Clos Saint Jacques Cuvée Prestige had a deep golden color and a nose of ripe apple. On the palate, it was rounder and fuller and would pair well with anything creamy.

The 2008 Bourgogne Pinot Noir Domaine du Clos Saint Jacques Cuvée Prestige had a light garnet color and sour cherry nose, quite lean on the palate with under ripe flavors on the finish, not our favorite wine. The region has substantial vintage variations and 2008 was possibly not the best year for the reds in the area.

This was a fun tasting and a great introduction to this up-and-coming appellation. Thanks Pâquerette!

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A good introduction to Canadian wines while hiking in the Canadian Rockies

Date: Tue, Sep 25, 2012 Wine Tasting

I am just back from 8 days of hiking in Banff National Park and I am still in awe of the spectacular landscape of the place—ice-carved mountains, hanging glaciers, turquoise blue lakes, and roaring cascades. I was also impressed by the dining scene —we were literally famished after hiking up and down hills on rugged mountain trails—and the good Canadian wines we found on the local wine lists.

Lake Louise from the top of the Little Beehive

On the first night, after a day of hiking in the wind and rain on the Iceline Trail, a raclette with a bottle of 2011 Quails' Gate Dry Riesling helped restore our energy. You need a wine with a firm backbone and a good level of acidity to cut through the creamy richness of the cheese, and the Quails' Gate Dry Riesling was more than up to the task: crisp, mineral, with citrus and floral aromas.

A couple of days later, we hiked to Shadow Lake Lodge, a back country lodge in Banff National Park. Although he day started with some snow, the skies turned deep blue by the time we reached the lodge.

On our way to the Shadow Lake Lodge

The Shadow Lake Lodge

After our nine mile hike, we happily rested around a fire burning in the old iron stove in the main cabin with a glass of 2011 Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris. The wine was dry, crisp, fruity, and totally comforting, a mouth-watering treat before the hearty dinner that would later be served.

One of our last dinners was in a steak house in Banff where we ordered a bottle of 2009 Jackson-Triggs Proprietors' Reserve Merlot. The wine had black berry aromas, a smooth palate and a refreshing acidity uncommon in California. I enjoyed it but I guess it was slightly too acidic to my friend's taste.

Hiking Johnston Canyon

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Orange you glad you tried an orange wine

Date: Wed, Jun 27, 2012 Wine Tasting

The other day I was perusing the wine list of Flour + Water looking for a wine to go with our appetizers.

Flour + Water is a trendy Italian restaurant in San Francisco's Mission district that specializes in home made pasta and pizza. Its wine list is short but offers an interesting selection of Italian wines. In particular, they have a section between the whites and the rosés that I had never seen before. They called it Arancio or Orange in Italian.

Orange wines are actually the opposite of rosé wines. Whereas rosés are made with red grapes with just enough skin contact to produce a pink color, orange wines are made with white grapes that macerate for some time in contact with their skins, leaving the wine with a distinctive orange-amber hue. Skin-fermented orange wines may seem like a new trend but this winemaking style believed to have originated in Georgia thousands of years ago and was not uncommon in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region of Italy in the 1950s.

We ordered a glass of 2009 Monastero Suore Cistercensi Coenobium Rusticum to give it a try. A blend of Trebbiano, Verdicchio, Malvasia and Grechetto, the wine is produced by the Sisters of the Cistercian order at their monastery in Vitorchiano, in the Lazio appellation north of Rome. It had a deep amber color with some tannins, dried herb flavors and a nutty finish, reminiscent of a Sherry. My friend didn't like it and we concluded that like Sherry, orange wine is an acquired taste. As for me, I thought it worked pretty well with our appetizer, a tuna conserva with artichoke, tonnato & venetian battered cardoons.

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Does music influences the way wine tastes?

Date: Tue, Mar 6, 2012 Wine Tasting

I recently came across a San Francisco Chronicle article that piqued my interest. The story starts with a warning: “Beware: If you read this article, you may may never taste wine and listen to music the same way again.”

The article refers to the work of Clark Smith, a winemaking innovator as well as a composer and vocalist who has recently become increasingly interested in the relationship of wine and music. He believes that wine tastes differently depending on the music we listen to.

Smith has spent months with various tasting panels sampling wines with hundreds of different songs. He was able to show that when wine and music match, the wine improves. On the other hand, when they clash, the wine tastes worse. His theory is that wine tasting involves the same part of the brain as listening to music.

“Red wines need either minor key or they need music that has negative emotion. They don't like happy music. With expensive reds, don't play music that makes you giggle. Pinots like sexy music. Cabernets like angry music. It's very hard to find a piece of music that's good for both Pinot and Cabernet.”

A related study led by Adrian North of Heriot-Watt University shows that tasters tend to think their wine has the qualities of the music they are listening to.

“The results showed the music the volunteers listened to consistently affected how they perceived it to taste. For example both red and white wines were given the highest ratings for being powerful and heavy by those participants who drank them to the tune of Carmina Burana. Those who listened to Michael Brook rated their wine as tasting mellow and soft consistently higher than other tastes.”

On his blog, Smith recommends the following to a reader: “It's really quite easy to work up a playlist. Just pop a bottle and download 30 second snippets from iTunes. You'll see what works and what doesn't. It's a fun party game. Eventually you learn the emotional modality that the wine conveys, and you match it.”

Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 is playing tonight. Cabernet or Chardonnay?

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A charming Swan from the Russian River Valley

Date: Wed, Feb 1, 2012 Wine Tasting

This was a low key, mid-week dinner at home and we were sipping our wine. “Wow, this wine is delicious!” my husband suddenly said. I showed him the bottle. It was a 2008 Joseph Swan Pinot Noir Cuvée de Trois Russian River Valley, a fairly-priced wine from Russian River Valley Pinot Noir pioneer Joseph Swan Vineyards.

Located in the Russian River Valley, Joseph Swan Vineyards was founded by Joseph Swan in 1989. He was a retired pilot with no formal viticulture education, but after taking many trips to France, he became known for introducing new methods of winemaking that seemed revolutionary at the time in the United States. These techniques included whole cluster fermentations, extended maceration for more color and depth, and fermenting without the addition of sulfur.

Joseph Swan's son-in-law Rod Berglund is now in charge of the winemaking. He introduced the “Cuvée de Trois” in 1999, a blend from three Russian River vineyards, each site contributing unique characteristics to the final cuvée.

The wine is a charmer. The nose is expressive with aromas of red cherry, spices, and earthy notes, and the palate has a silky, juicy texture, showing more finesse than power with a well-balanced complexity. Delicious indeed!

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A wine made from the blood of the stones

Date: Tue, Jan 10, 2012 Wine Tasting

That's the 2001 Vacqueyras Domaine Le Sang des Cailloux Cuvée de Lopy. The wine is from Vacqueyras, an appellation in the Southern Rhône next to Gigondas and to the east of Châteauneuf du Pape.

It is produced by Domaine Le Sang des Cailloux, which means Blood of the stones, a 17 hectare estate located on an arid plateau made of red clay and limestone layered by rounded stones — the famous galets roulés that characterize the terroir of Châteauneuf du Pape. On the plateau, the summers are dry and hot but can be cooled down by the strong Mistral wind that blows from the north down the Rhône Valley.

Although it has not been officially certified organic, the vineyard has been farming organically for years. The Cuvée de Lopy is 75% Grenache, 25% Syrah from 55 to 65 year-old vines. Lopy is the name of the farm where the owner, Serge Férigoule, was born. After being manually harvested, the grapes are fermented using indigenous yeasts and then aged in large 450-liter barrels. The wine is unfined and unfiltered.

The wine was dark, rich, dense and amazingly fresh at the same time thanks to its high acidity. It was also perfectly balanced leaving a layered finish of wild berries, spices, and licorice. It was aso the perfect wine for a chilly evening. Try it with a Provençal Daube and don't forget the orange peel, that's the dish's secret ingredient!

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A festive dinner at Manresa

Date: Tue, Dec 27, 2011 Wine Tasting

Just before the holidays, we went to Manresa in Los Gatos to celebrate my son's birthday. We took the seasonal tasting menu —highly recommended to us— that consists of 7 savory and 2 dessert courses and is the best showcase for the inventive cuisine of Chef David Kinch. It is also quite adventurous: only the ingredients are listed so you don't know ahead of time what each course would be like.

Chef David Kinch's cuisine speaks of who we are and where we are located and many products are produced at Love Apple Farms in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Owner and farmer Cynthia Sandberg uses biodynamic and organic principles to grow fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers, and produce eggs, honey, and goat's milk. The Love Apple Farms produces were perfectly showcased by one of our favorite courses, “A walk through the vegetable garden”, a colorful alchemy of bitter leaves, sweet flowers, raw and cooked root vegetables with multiple dressings hidden under the leaves, some more citrusy, some more vinegary.

A walk through the vegetable garden

The next course reached even higher heights. Called “The Midwinter Tide Pool”, it was a bowl of rich broth that contained seaweed, clams, sea urchin, enoki mushrooms and the ultimate savory deliciousness, a thin slice of foie gras.

The Midwinter Tide Pool

I am not a dessert person but our second dessert was also one of my favorite. It was a mushroom ice cream with maple syrup, cinnamon chips and a small crispy churro. The dish was sweet and savory at the same time and full of umami flavors.

Mushroom ice cream with maple syrup, cinnamon chips and churro

The wine list has a nice focus on the Santa Cruz Mountains. We chose a 2006 Mount Eden Estate Bottled Pinot Noir from the nearby Mount Eden Vineyards. Located on a 2000 foot peak about 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the winery was founded in 1945 by pioneer winemaker Martin Ray who planted his first vineyard of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay there. Today, seven acres of the estate vineyard are planted with Pinot Noir. The wine is fermented using natural yeasts and matures for eighteen months in French oak barrels (75% new). The wine showed a medium red color with fragrant aromas of forest berries, spices and earth on the nose. On the palate it was all about elegance, medium-bodied with a smooth texture and a savory earthy finish that went wonderfully well with David Kinch's alchemy.

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Invite Austria to your Thanksgiving table

Date: Mon, Nov 21, 2011 Wine Tasting

Finding the perfect wine that can go with all the rich flavors found on the Thanksgiving menu, the turkey, the stuffing, the gravy, the cranberries, and the various side dishes, can be challenging. Nonetheless, I think that a wine that is bright and fruity, and not too tannic nor alcoholic, is always a great choice. So when I recently tasted the 2009 Juris St. Laurent Selection, I thought that this year, it was time to invite Austria to our Thanksgiving table.

Owned by the Stiegelmar family, Juris farms 17 hectares of vineyards in the Neusiedlersee wine region, half way between Vienna and Budapest. This is the warmest part of Austria with climatic conditions well suited to red varieties, which explains the winery's special focus on St Laurent and Pinot Noir wines.

The Stiegelmar family has been cultivating grapes in this area since the 16th century. One of the winery's underground cellars was built in 1756, Mozart's birth year. It was dug 52 meters long, 12 meters below the surface, and maintains a stable temperature of 10°C (50°F).

But over the past 10 years, Axel Stiegelmar and his father Georg have developed a modern winery. The transport of grapes, mash, must, and wine is done predominantly through gravity to avoid damage by careless transport. The storage building is Austria's first passive energy wine storage facility. The building, neither heated nor cooled by fossil or electric energy, has various temperature and humidity zones to provide optimal storage conditions for different wines at different stages of their production.

The underground cellars

St. Laurent is a red grape of mysterious origins. It is said to belong to the Pinot family, although its exact ancestry remains unclear. It is an early ripening grape variety, sensitive to frost, sunburn, and botrytis. The name comes from Saint Laurent's name day on August 10, which is when the veraison of the grape occurs.

If the wine had the bright acidity of a Pinot Noir, it was spicy like a Syrah. It showed a very dark color with aromas of black cherries, moka, and gamey notes. On the palate, it was quite smooth and tasty with maybe a hint of sweet chestnut on the finish.

Last year's turkey

Cross-posted from bluedanubewine.com/blog

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Special aviation wines for the Blue Angels Air Show

Date: Thu, Oct 27, 2011 Wine Tasting

Earlier this month, we were invited to a wine tasting party while watching the Blue Angels Air Show, a spectacular aerial show and a tradition in San Francisco since 1981. We were asked to bring a bottle of wine that had some connection with aviation, which was a fun exercise because in addition to tasting the wines, this theme prompted discussion about how the wines were related to planes and pilots.

We started with the 2004 Goldeneye Pinot Noir Anderson Valley. That one was easy: everybody remembered how in Goldeneye, James Bond escapes Soviet guards with a free fall jump off a cliff into an unmanned plane, miraculously gaining control of it and avoiding a crash into the nearby mountain.

The Goldeneye Winery is owned by Duckhorn Vineyard and has been producing Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley AVA since 1997. The wine is a blend of grapes from four estate vineyards, covering a wide range of microclimates with more than 20 distinctive clones. The wine had a big California style, lush on the palate with ripe berry flavors and hints of pumpkin pie spice on the finish.

Then we tasted the 2004 Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry, a Third Growth in the Margaux Appellation. Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry got its first name from Simon Malescot, King's Counsel to Louis XIV at the Parliament of Bordeaux, who bought the estate in 1697. Then later in 1827, it was acquired by Comte Jean-Baptiste Saint Exupéry, who renamed the property Malescot Saint-Exupéry. So what's the wine's connection with aviation? Antoine de Saint Exupéry, pioneer aviator and famous writer, was actually the grandson of Jean-Baptiste.

The wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot. It had a dense, blackberry nose with some coffee notes, quite chewy on the palate with a well-balanced finish. A promising wine but much too young to be drunk now.

Our third wine was the 2005 Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Solo Stags Leap District. First, we thought of solo flight, but after some discussions, we found that Solo had even more connections to flying, including Han Solo, famous captain of the Millennium Falcon.

Silverado Vineyards was established in 1981 by the Miller family. They named the winery Silverado, after the abandoned mining camp in the Mayacamas Mountains, where Robert Louis Stevenson spent his honeymoon in the early summer of 1880.

The Solo Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 100% Cabernet grapes grown in the estate Stags Leap Vineyard, surrounding the winery. It was a powerful wine with aromas of blackberries and oak and a big finish.

We ended the tasting with a vertical tasting of ZD Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon: 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003.

Nobody knew that ZD stands for the initials of the names of the founders Gino Zepponi and Norman deLeuze, two former aerospace engineers. It also stands for Zero Defects, a quality control program that originated in the aerospace industry.

The ZD Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of several Napa Valley lots, with ZD's organically farmed Rutherford Estate used as the backbone. The 2000 was the first vintage to open up, with an expansive nose and ripe fruit aromas. The 2001 was tighter and more subdued at the beginning but it eventually surpassed the 2000 with aromas of blackberries, moka, and licorice, a firm, well-balanced backbone, and a full-flavored finish. It ended up being my favorite. The 2002 was not as good and a bit off balanced. The 2003 was young, bright, and fruity but without the complexity of the 2001.

And above our heads, the Blue Angels were flying.

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Prohibition through Ken Burns' lens

Date: Wed, Oct 12, 2011 Wine Tasting

Last week I watched Ken Burns' five-and-a-half-hour three-part documentary on Prohibition, the so-called “Noble Experiment” and one of the country's biggest civic failures.

I like Ken Burns' work, especially his Jazz series, and Prohibition didn't disappoint me. I already knew some of the causes that led to the passage of the 18th Amendment: the force of the Temperance Movement and how its leaders were also pushing for women's rights, how the passing of the income tax amendment made Prohibition fiscally feasible, and the strange alliance of militant suffragettes with white supremacists to ban alcohol use.

But there were some other facts that I was not aware of, like the vilification of German-Americans —which included most of the large brewery owners— when the US entered World War I. And I didn't realize that women, after lobbying so hard for prohibition, became so pivotal in the effort to repeal it.

Pauline Sabin, a wealthy heiress from a Republican family, initially supported prohibition, but as crime increased, her criticism of the 18th Amendment grew slowly. At some point, she realized that “In pre-prohibition days, mothers had little fear in regard to the saloon as far as their children were concerned. A saloon-keeper's license was revoked if he were caught selling liquor to minors. Today in any speakeasy in the United States you can find boys and girls in their teens drinking liquor, and this situation has become so acute that the mothers of the country feel something must be done to protect their children.”

She founded the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform in 1929. Four years later, the 18th Amendment, was repealed.

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Pupusas from El Salvador and a good Pinot from the Santa Cruz Mountains

Date: Tue, Sep 27, 2011 Wine Tasting

The other day, we were invited to a Pupusas party, one of the guests' mother being from El Salvador and a great cook. The pupusa is El Salvador's national dish, made of thick corn tortillas typically filled with cheese, pork, and beans and cooked on a griddle.

Freshly made and still hot from the skillet, it is really tasty but what to drink with it besides beer? Actually we found that Pinot Noir was a pretty good choice, especially if you avoided the extra spicy salsa.

We tasted the 2003 Muccigrosso Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains from Muccigrosso Vineyards, a small family-run winery in Los Gatos, in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The owners, Michael and Lynne Muccigrosso, planted their first vines in 1983 and bottled their first vintage in 2000. Now they produce 800 to 1000 cases per year of Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and a Syrah-Sangiovese blend called Table Two. The 2003 Pinot Noir was crafted by Jacob Kauffman, a yound talented winemaker who had gained his experience at near-by David Bruce Winery but who sadly passed away 2 years ago.

The wine had a bright garnet color and perfumed nose of sweet berries and violets. On the palate, it was medium-bodied with a good structure, elegant with a good amount of earthiness on the finish. Quite comforting, like the pupusas.

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Something new and creative: a Metro Wine Map of France

Date: Fri, Sep 16, 2011 Wine Tasting

Do you know that it's only in 1931 that the first schematic subway map was designed by English engineering draftsman Harry Beck? Before that, we had route maps that were solely based on geography. They were lacking clarity and had many overcrowded areas. Schematic maps are based on topology and therefore show a simplified, hightly stylized network of stations that is much easier to understand.

So can we apply the same logic to wine regions and appellations to simplify and clarify regional and geographical concepts to beginners? Dr. David Gissen, professor at the California College of the Arts, thinks so and has recently published a Metro Wine Map of France.

Dr. David Gissen is a historian and theorist of architecture and urbanism but he is also a wine lover who, after drinking a bottle of 2009 Morgon Domaine Lapierre at Chez Panisse, wanted to learn more about wine and its relationship with particular philosophies and places.

In a recent interview, Gissen explains what motivated him to design his Metro map.

“I was just very frustrated with the fact that some basic ideas about the relationships between wine and geography that seemed so simple to me, after my own tastings, were not actually expressed simply anywhere. Part of the problem is the way the geographical description of French wine relies on a very literal languages of maps. What I mean by that is that if you look at almost any book on French wine, the maps look like the kind of thing that an explorer would use. They're extremely literal, cartographic views, so that all the regions are drawn with very precise jagged-line boundaries, and you're supposed to understand that this particular terroir stops just below this particular Autoroute in France, for example, and so on.”

“My feeling was that you could explain some very basic geographical ideas and principles about French wine if you used a visual language that was relational and condensed. To me, that means the language of the subway map.”

If you want to find the “best subway stop from which to embark on your own journey of wine exploration”, you can get the map here. And if you want to learn more about Gissen's interesting perspectives on concrete vinification, wine glass shapes, terroir, and the re-framing of wine using an urban aesthetics, read the full interview.

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Hiking Mount Baldy and an ice-cold Coors Light after that

Date: Mon, Sep 5, 2011 Wine Tasting

It was hot last weekend in Los Angeles when we dropped our daugther off at college so we decided to find some cool mountain breeze at the top of the 10,068 ft Mount Baldy in the San Gabriel Mountains.

An old ski chair lift from the 50s took us to the small Mount Baldy ski resort and from there we took the Devil's Backbone trail that goes up to the top of Mount Baldy with amazing views of L.A. on one side and the desert on the other side.

After the hike, we stopped at the Top of the Notch, the resort's restaurant, feeling hot and sweaty. The temperature was still in the mid-90s.

”What's the coldest drink you have?“ We asked the waitress at the bar. ”Coors Light“ she said witout hesitation, taking two frosty mugs from under the bar. I don't usually drink Coors Light but this time, I could not resist. As I took the first sip of my beer, I thought this was the best thing I ever drank. It was so refreshing, with a clean, mildly sweet taste, and for sure it quenched our thirst.

The Devil's Backbone trail

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