Archive for January, 2014


January 27th, 2014

Wine maps
By Zwarck (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I have a soft spot for detailed vineyard maps of vineyards around the world. Checking them out for their relative locations to one another in any specific wine region is a real pearl of knowledge in helping you to understand terroir. They are invaluable when you are visiting. Who hasn’t torn out pages from a wine book or photocopied maps for their wine trip. I have really enjoyed over the years The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson & Jancis Robinson and was given as a Christmas gift the excellent 7th Edition 2013 completely revised & updated.

One of the clear advantages of our increased use of technology is the satellite or mobile phone to check out our planet Earth. This includes the new innovations of computer street searching and mapping. This is a real joy to check out and use to locate places. It continues to expand and now many of the world’s vineyards are available. An excellent one is which has an IOS App for your mobile phone. Fun to check out exactly where La Cabotte is in Chevalier-Montrachet and Clos des Perrieres in Meursault. What a benefit!

Are you accessing vineyard maps on your smart phone? Do you have a smart phone yet? Time to get one and move into the 21st century. What other wine regions presently are well mapped? Check out the visual map guide in PDF of many wine regions on the Wine Spectator site

Do you access vineyard maps on your smartphone?

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January 20th, 2014


I am a daily consumer fan of 0% non fat yogurt. I believe it is a very healthy product providing protein, calcium and probiotics (live and active bacterial cultures) that are good for your gut and your digestion. Recommend it to you. Though yogurt also comes at many levels of fat all of which are lovely I still stick to skim milk and skim milk powder. Greek style strained to remove excess liquids is becoming increasingly popular and provides a creamy thicker style even at 0% fat. A disconcerting issue is the increasing number of additives (from gelatin to colouring agent “carmine” to carrageenan emulsifier to guar gum). Specifically always avoid any yogurt containing artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda). Look for 100% natural ingredients. Check the ingredient label on your chosen yogurt closely. Unlike wine where you can’t check luckily you can do so on food products like yogurt. I avoid paying for added fruit too. Admit though I really enjoy sometimes adding Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry Jam or Non-Pasteurized Natural Honey to my plain yogurt. Delicious! Support brands like Olympic and Liberte Organic (now part of Yoplait/General Mills). Do you make your own yogurt? Your thoughts on yogurt and which one do you choose?

Do you eat Yogurt?

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January 13th, 2014

Mosel Riesling grapes

I am a big fan of Riesling wine in so many styles. Certainly it is right there at the top level for best most versatile grape variety resulting in a full range of wines from bone dry to very sweet. Trocken (dry) style is in vogue at the moment whether from Australia’s Eden or Clare Valley (lime & minerals), Alsace, Austria and Germany. Even the cooler regions of New York (Finger Lakes), Ontario, Oregon, Washington and BC are successfully producing world class examples. Not only is Riesling in all the versions always so lovely fresh vibrant drinking but because of their natural acidity also so suitable with food. Are the increased use of screw caps helping to keep them fresh? They certainly will age very well developing a unique distinctive “petrol” (or “kerosene”) character but descriptors which now to some tasters have become derogatory words to use and instead prefer “lime marmalade”.

Hard to match that enticing fantastic fruit acidity shown from the Mosel terroir! A wonderful website is It is an independent online wine publication dedicated to Mosel Riesling by Jean Fisch & David Rayer. They do an excellent job covering the vintages (detailed 2012 reports), top estate property profiles, wine reviews and drinking windows. They cover the winemaker association top casks two Mosel Auctions held every September by Bernkastler Ringer & Grosser Ring/VDP. They just produced what hopefully will be an annual update of their first Visiting Guide to the Mosel 2014. Personal valuable resource of where to eat, buy wines, and must visit scenic charming spots (including my favs of Bernkastler Doktor & Wehlener Sonnenuhr). The good news is that it is free of charge so subscribe now at

Do you have a preferred region for Riesling? What sweetness level do you prefer for that variety?

What's your favorite Riesling wine region?

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1933 – Prohibition Ends and the IW&FS begins

January 8th, 2014

As a student of the history of newsreels, I was excited to discover this Hearst-Metrotone (renamed News of the Day in 1936) gem which was first screened in 1933, titled “Prohibition’s Reign Ends!”  For those who have studied the era (or fans of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire), you’ll recognize all the names and terms synonymous with this period: Andrew Volstead, Al Smith, Rum Row, wets, drys, bootleggers, speakeasies, the Real McCoy, etc..

Of course, it was no coincidence that as this period in American history was ending, André Simon was busy establishing the first IW&FS branches in the United States.  Since you no longer needed a doctor’s certificate to drink wine legally, America became fertile ground (no pun intended) for the International Wine and Food Society.  You can watch a brief history of our society by clicking on the video below:



January 6th, 2014


Happy 2014!

Surprised so many of my wine friends seem to have a superstition about the odds being stacked against producing a great vintage ending in 4. Certainly for vineyards around the world the last century has not been especially kind in the decade years 2004, 1994 (good California Cabs), 1984, 1974 (again some excellent Napa Cabs), 1964 (Right Bank St. Emilion & Pomerol can be lovely), 1954, 1944, 1934 (arguably with 1937 the best of a bad spell between 1929 & 1945), 1924, 1914, and 1904. Wasn’t always the case though as pre-phylloxera Bordeaux of 1874 & 1864 I’ve read about and have been fortunate to try on a few memorable occasions produced outstanding quality in both years. I guess the recent memories of difficult conditions in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 followed by 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and now 2011, 2012, 2013 are still on everyone’s mind.

Remember that in the Chinese culture 4 is considered unlucky as the word sounds like the word for death (as contrasted to the lucky 8 sounds similar to wealth and prosperity – after all the Beijing Olympics commenced on the 8th day of the 8th month of 2008). Do wine vintages run in 10 year cycles? For example, no doubt vintages ending in 9 have had a much better run than 4. Look at those delicious 2009, 1999, 1989 and those fantastic 1959, 1949, 1929, and 1899 years. Why even Jancis Robinson has chimed in with her guideline for knowing the best vintages using “divisible by 5 years tend to be a superior rule”! Yes 2000, 2005, and 2010 are excellent – as are 1945 & 1900! Maybe the Jancis rule is correct. Is there really something to all this numerology stuff?

Wishing the best of luck for the 2014 harvest in all the world vineyards starting soon in the Southern Hemisphere and later this Fall in the Northern ones. I personally believe it is possible for another outstanding vintage in a year ending with a 4. Some betting people even think the odds definitely favour long streaks to be broken soon. What do you think? Which last number has been the most reliable for a vintage wine?

Are you worried about a wine ending in 4?

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