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Spirits Talk

Wine enthusiasts might remember Anthony Dias Blue best from his long and distinguished career at Bon Appetit magazine, where he wrote about wine & spirits. He also has been the longtime director of the San Francisco International Wine Competition.

But Andy wears many hats, and one of them is as founder and director of the San Francisco World ...Read more

Meaning of a Medal

We have now reached the meat of the wine competition season, with several majors -- Sunset Magazine, Los Angeles International, Critics Challenge and San Francisco International -- on the horizon in the coming weeks.

Thousands of wines will be put before wine professionals for evaluation, and thousands will be honored with some type of award....Read more

Power of Suggestion

The power of suggestion is not to be dismissed as a reason to zero in on a specific type of wine.

Wine merchants frequently use POS to enhance their point-of-sale promotions. Such was the case recently as I meandered through the wine section of a gourmet grocery in my neighborhood. There I discovered a stunning display of rose wines, from ...Read more

Winemakers Know Value, Too

Perhaps the greatest misconception wine enthusiasts labor under as they peruse the aisles at their favorite wine shop or market is that a higher price is an indication of better quality. That is sometimes, perhaps even often, the case -- but not always.

One of my greatest pleasures in the role as director of numerous commercial wine ...Read more

Wineries of Distinction

The top wines are rightly the focus when a wine competition has been completed and the results announced. But there's always more to the story, particularly when individual producers win multiple awards and demonstrate exceptional quality over a broad range of wines.

That was the case at the sixth annual Winemaker Challenge earlier this month...Read more

Scam or Scourge?

By now you have no doubt heard about the class-action lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Thursday alleging unsafe levels of arsenic in some California wines. The lawsuit calls for a recall of the wines in question and testing to ensure purity. On the surface this sounds reasonable.

Arsenic, a toxic metal found in the ground, has been called the "...Read more

Living the Dream

Some winemakers live the dream. Then there is Chris Phelps, whose path to an exalted position in the Napa Valley has the ring of a fairy-tale.

Winemaker at Swanson Vineyards in the Napa Valley the past dozen years, Phelps is now a quarter-century into a journey that began when he graduated the University of California at Davis with a degree ...Read more

The Giesen Brothers

While tasting a stunning bevy of sauvignon blancs with Alex Giesen, one of the three Giesen brothers, more than a year ago, it occurred to me that while a bit of a discovery, the Giesen wines were certainly no surprise.

The brothers had planted their vineyards in New Zealand's Marlborough district, at the northern tip of the South Island, ...Read more

Gaja, the Next Generation

Coming out of World War II, the vineyards of Italy and the families that tended the vines were devastated. Virtually everyone was poor at the time, so grape growers and winemakers tended to emphasize quantity over quality because wine was their currency.

The hangover from the war kept Italian wine on the skids for the better part of two ...Read more

The Jackson Legacy

It has been nearly four years since Jess Stonestreet Jackson, the visionary vintner, passed away. Jackson was, like Robert Mondavi and Ernest & Julio Gallo before him, a towering figure in the California wine industry.

His namesake winery, Kendall-Jackson, introduced an entire nation to the pleasures of chardonnay, one of the world's great ...Read more

Unconventional Pairings

There are some who believe advice that suggests specific wines match up better with specific foods is a silly waste of analysis. That's the drink-whatever-you-like-crowd, and there is some merit to their argument.

To that point, I have a friend who drinks red wine with everything and he's happy as a clam, even when he's sipping cabernet ...Read more

Labor of Love

Choosing a gift of wine for Valentine's Day should be a labor of love, particularly if it is meant to be shared in the moment.

The possibilities are endless, but I confess I have my favorites. Champagne and top-notch domestic sparkling wines are always near the top of the list. Then there are remarkable dessert wines that are typically saved ...Read more

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