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Steve Heimoff| Wine Blog

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I weigh in on Jamie Goode’s post on “natural wine”

 Mark As Read    

  As reluctant as I am to enter the minefield of any discussion about “natural wine,” I’m going to do so, because I have views on the topic, and because Jamie Goode just won a Wine Bloggers Award and if he can opine on the subject, so can I! Jamie supported natural wine rather obliquely […]

Steve Heimoff| Wine Blog 7 hours, 36 min ago

A family winery bites the dust

 Mark As Read    

  It’s always sad when an old, little family winery shuts its doors, as Milat Vineyards & Winery is set to do by the end of this month. I never formally reviewed any of their wines, because they never sent me tasting samples. They didn’t have a high profile in Napa Valley, and perhaps didn’t […]

Friday Fishwrap: old wine writers never die, we just eat pizza!

 Mark As Read    

  Hello. My name is Steve and I’m a “grand-fatherly white male traditional print writer.” That’s what Amy Corron Power called me in her blog today. She was referring to my recent panel on wine writing at the Wine Bloggers Conference; my co-panelists were Mike Dunne and James Conaway, who are pictured, with me, in […]

Thursday throwaway: Rutherford dust, Bordeaux prices and Parker, Parker, Parker!

 Mark As Read    

  Went up to Napa yesterday for the annual “Day in the Dust” tasting of the Rutherford Dust Society. I wanted to see if I could discern a “Rutherford dust” characteristic to the wines. If there was one, it was pretty well disguised. All the wines were very fine, as you’d expect, but they were […]

Spotlight: A conversation with Michael Mina’s (until yesterday) lead sommelier, Josiah Baldovino

 Mark As Read    

  Josiah Baldovino is one of the more delightful somms out there. Even in the rarified atmosphere of Michael Mina, where he was—until yesterday—lead sommelier (more on that in a moment), he’s an unpretentious guy. Josiah, 32, and his wife, Stevie, live across the street from me. We had coffee yesterday morning in our Oakland […]

Terroir vs. personal preference: the critic’s dilemma?

 Mark As Read    

  Should the critic base her score/review on personal preference, or on whether or not the winemaker has allowed “the terroir to speak”? That question arose, yet again, at the recent Wine Bloggers Conference. It’s an old debate, one that’s as hard to frame as it is to answer. What does it mean to allow […]

Things I told the wine bloggers conference about writing that got retweeted

 Mark As Read    

  Well, the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference is over. Gus and I had a great time. I was on three panels and also was asked to make a few remarks during the farewell dinner, so I told the attendees that I felt a little like that Woody Allen character, Zelig, a human chameleon who seemed […]

LIVE! From #WBC2014, it’s the Wine Bloggers Conference

 Mark As Read    

  It starts today. Although I’m not one of those FWCs (famous wine critics) anymore, the WBC people nonetheless invited me down to do a series of panels on wine writing, apparently because I’m still a wine writer! There are actually two related panels: One on the art of wine writing itself, and in the […]

What is a “crown jewel”? Can there be more than one?

 Mark As Read    

  In the mid-1970s, writer David Darlington tells us in the June issue of Wine & Spirits, “Robert Mondavi defined [the Inglenook Estate vineyard] for [Francis Ford Coppola] as the crown jewel of Napa Valley.” The wine world loves crown jewels. Petrus has been called the crown jewel of Pomerol; ditto the DRC in Burgundy. […]

Kauai’d out!

 Mark As Read    

Call it island fever. No blog today! Back tomorrow.

Rx for what ails ya: My prescription for wine magazines

 Mark As Read    

  I’m a wine magazine guy—a product of that environment. I put 25 years of my life into writing about and reviewing wines for Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast. I did pretty well, so I think I can say I “get” the culture. I was there in the 1980s, and I was there until earlier […]

Concerning those controversial .wine domains

 Mark As Read    

  I’ve been watching developments for the last few months concerning these new .wine and .vin Internet domain names. Not closely, just sort of casually. I knew there was some controversy about them, but I wanted to keep an open mind, and besides, who has the time nowadays to research every complicated issue of social, […]

Happy July Fourth!

 Mark As Read    

I'm in Kauai for Jackson Family Wine's annual sales meeting. But I'll be posting next week. Aloha!

America is no longer a young wine drinking country–compared to China!

 Mark As Read    

  Yahoo News says that four factors in China are driving “a soaring number of consumers” to drink wine. more affordable prices globalized palates younger demographics e-commerce Assuming this is true (and it appears to be), I thought it would be interesting to see how these same four factors are playing out in America. More […]

The next big thing? Probably not

 Mark As Read    

  We’ve seen it plenty of times before: “the next big wine variety” is just around the corner. But it usually turned out there wasn’t anything around the corner, except another corner. Remember Sangiovese? In the late 1980s-early 1990s everybody swore it was the next big red wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, they said, was all well […]

Here comes the Fountaingrove District AVA (probably)

 Mark As Read    

  After a couple years of back-and-forth, the TTB has approved putting a petition for a new Fountaingrove District A.V.A. up for public comment. I’m not big on most A.V.A. petitions in California, which seem silly to the point of meaningless, but in this case, I give it a qualified thumbs up. The new Fountaingrove […]

From the front lines in China: The end of the three-tiered system?

 Mark As Read    

  China never developed the complex infrastructure for the distribution of alcoholic beverages that the U.S. has in the three-tiered system, and it might never, because e-commerce is becoming the distribution method of choice. That’s according to an article in the Taiwan-based China Times, which says that e-commerce is preventing the emergence...

On the benefits of estate bottling

 Mark As Read    

  At a meeting yesterday at Jackson Family Wines, several people made the point that wines that are estate bottled—that is, where the grape source is controlled 100% by the vintner, either by owning the vineyards or by longterm contracts—are preferable for wine quality to grapes that the winemaker has to scramble for each year, […]

Why do women drink more wine than men?

 Mark As Read    

  I met yet another young (mid-20s) guy yesterday who told me he’s so into beer that he’s brewing it at home, while his girlfriend is a wine lover who’s always trying to up his level of knowledge about vino. What is it anyway about this gender divide that separates the [beer] men from the […]

Wednesday wraparound: Boredom, urban wines, and medals, medals, medals

 Mark As Read    

  Once upon a time, people bought the wines they liked and had trusted over many years, because they knew they would not be disappointed. It may have been a Gallo Hearty Burgundy, or a Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé, a Chianti or Mateus or Wente Grey Riesling. The wines could always be found on the local […]

Another study on social media’s failure to live up to expectations

 Mark As Read    

  The headline on yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article on social media says social media has “fail[ed] to live up to early marketing hype.” True enough, but the situation is even graver than that innocuous header implies. Readers will encounter a litany of social media ills so extensive that the article reads more like the […]

How do you describe a wine region, anyhow?

 Mark As Read    

  One of the constants of the wine writer’s job is describing wine regions. Whether it’s the Right Bank of Bordeaux, the Santa Rita Hills or the Finger Lakes, the wine writer is expected to understand the region’s terroir (climate, soils) and its impact on the major wine varieties and types produced there. I don’t […]

Is the drive toward ever-newer wines a form of OCD among critics?

 Mark As Read    

  The search for “the new” is the story of California. Whether it was the reinvention of the self, or the society, the Golden State always has lured those restless with the existing order, and anxious to replace it with something innovative and, they hope, better. This reinvention reinvents itself constantly. Nowhere is it better […]

Are consultants “killing” wine?

 Mark As Read    

  They’re easy to pick on, those flying winemakers, like Michel Rolland, who travel the world getting big bucks for advising wineries on how to get 95 points from Parker. And they do get picked on! Mondovino, the 2004 movie, famously took on Rolland, showing a small vigneron who declared that “Wine is dead” due […]

Come to Anderson Valley–but make sure you have a place to stay!

 Mark As Read    

  I’m up here in the beautiful Anderson Valley, which more than 30 wineries call home. To those familiar with trafficky Highway 29 in Napa Valley, or even the much less densely clogged roads of the Russian River Valley, Anderson Valley’s Highway 128 will seem blissfully free of cars. You can drive from Boonville past […]

Live, from the road! Mendocino County

 Mark As Read    

  I didn’t throw up, but Gus did, three times, on the loopy drive up to Mendocino, which included many twisting miles on a dirt road leading to the Gianoli Ranch, a spectacular property founded in the 1800s by Italian immigrants, whose new owners grow Pinot Noir and Zinfandel, which they sell to Edmeades and […]

What electric car patents and some AVAs have in common

 Mark As Read    

  Elon Musk made a bit of news last week when his Tesla Motors announced that the company is “opening all its electric car patents to outside use.” This “open sourcing” means that anyone can use Tesla’s proprietary procedures without having to worry about a patent lawsuit. Why would a successful company like Tesla give […]

Conversations with Carlo: whole cluster fermentation of Pinot Noir

 Mark As Read    

Carlo Mondavi, whom I got to know and like last year in Kapalua, emailed to bring me up to date on his new project, RAEN, a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir he’s making in collaboration with his brother, Dante. Carlo Mondavi His email prompted me to ask him some followup questions, which led to an exchange […]

California cuisine and California wine: partners through life

 Mark As Read    

  It had been years since I dined at the Stanford Court Hotel, on top of Nob Hill, so I was looking forward to meeting some folks there last night—not for dinner, just for a few drinks. Still, I wanted to check out the restaurant menu. Reading—no, make that devouring—Joyce Goldstein’s new book, Inside the […]

Does your content pass the “So what” test?

 Mark As Read    

  That’s the headline on a little article from Rachel Luxemburg, a “social media strategist” at Adobe, who defines the “So what? test” this way: “Ask yourself, ‘Is this something my fans / friends / followers are truly going to care about or will they shrug and say ‘So what?'" The “So what? test” is […]

On “blindfolded monkeys” and blind tasting

 Mark As Read    

  I love graphs like this.   It illustrates, in stark honesty, the multi-year stock performance of the S&P 500 compared with a randomly-selected portfolio that could have been picked “by a blindfolded monkey.” Those, at least, are the words of the person who wrote the article, “A Random Way to Get Rich,” which appears […]

Review: Joyce Goldstein’s new book on California cuisine

 Mark As Read    

In the 1980s and early 1990s, I was a fairly frequent visitor to Square One, the restaurant Joyce Goldstein had opened, in 1984, in the Jackson Square neighborhood of downtown San Francisco. There, I was treated like a regular, mainly through my acquaintance with the sommelier, Peter Granoff, whom I had met earlier when he’d […]

A little more information about my new job

 Mark As Read    

  I haven’t written much about my new job because it’s been important for me to keep steveheimoff.com a place independent of whatever job I have, whether it was the guy who wrote wine reviews for Wine Enthusiast or my new position at Jackson Family Wines. The reason it’s important for me to preserve and […]

When experts get stuff wrong

 Mark As Read    

  Matt Kramer is Wine Spectator’s best columnist. He’s fresh, witty, smart to the point of intellectual, and he doesn’t repeat himself by writing the same old thing over and over again (which suggests also that he possesses good taste). He also can own up to his mistakes, which he has done in the June […]

Do Millennials find wine “dull”? Let’s talk

 Mark As Read    

  Once a headline is out there, it becomes “reality”—whether it’s based on reality or not. Thus, “Millennials: Wine Dull, Cocktails and Beer Exciting”, which is the header of this online article, is repeated on Lewis Perdue’s Daily News Fetch, so that people who don’t have time to actually research the topic—which is most of […]

The state of the wine blog

 Mark As Read    

  I go to the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference next month, for which we (the organizers and myself) already are deep in the planning stages. I’ll participate in three panels, and each requires a great deal of forethought in order to maximize the chances that the audiences will be happy they came, which is what […]

Moe thoughts on terroir

 Mark As Read    

  Isn’t it time to retire these tired old clichés about the “mystery” of terroir and how “undefinable” it is, as this article from the Sacramento Bee once again illustrates? I mean, that kind of thinking is 40 years old. It was a staple of the wine media for decades to describe terroir as an […]

Live from Santa Barbara County: Day two

 Mark As Read    

  Short post today, as I’ve been down here in Santa Barbara County shooting videotapes (or rather, being shot) for a project for Cambria’s blog. It was a very long day yesterday, shooting from just past dawn until after sunset, because the videographer wanted to take advantage of the “golden hours,” when the sun is […]

Live, from Santa Barbara County

 Mark As Read    

  I’m at the Cambria Winery guest house this cold but clear May morning, in the Foxen Canyon part of Santa Barbara County, a beautiful, hilly region I think of as midway between the cooler, more austere Santa Maria Valley and the warmer Santa Ynez Valley. You take Foxen Canyon Road all the way through […]

The “neighborhoods” of the Russian River Valley

 Mark As Read    

  Last Saturday’s tasting and panel discussion on “The Neighborhoods of the Russian River Valley,” sponsored by the Russian River Valley Winegrowers Association as part of their winter “Pinot Classic” event, was interesting, as these terroir-oriented seminars always are. But, as I told the audience, for me at least it smacked of “déja vu all [...

Happy Memorial Day

 Mark As Read    

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My early career as an amateur wine buff

 Mark As Read    

  I remember it as if it all happened yesterday instead of 35 years ago. I was newly arrived in San Francisco, had no money and needed a place to live. So I answered an ad on the S.F.S.U. housing board for a house sitter. It was for a dilapidated old four-room cottage in the […]

Why a famous critic’s 100 point wine may disappoint you

 Mark As Read    

  Patricia Talorico’s column in Delaware Online, describing her disappointment at a tasting of 100-point wines, is worth reading, if for no other reason than to make the point that a famous critic’s taste may not correspond to yours. And there are some good reasons for that, which I’ll get to in a moment. As […]

The perils of being a restaurant reviewer: Almost as bad as being a wine blogger

 Mark As Read    

Michael Bauer’s recent glowing review of Saison ignited a firestorm of reaction from people who felt that the restaurant reviewer for the San Francisco Chronicle was pandering to the one percent and blithely ignoring anyone who can’t afford $398 for a one-person “discovery menu” at the city’s most expensive eaterie. Typical of those who wrote [R...

California wine industry loses another veteran

 Mark As Read    

  Almost lost in the news of recent wine deaths lately was that of Frank M. Woods, published here and here. My goodness, we're losing the founding fathers and mothers of our modern wine industry at an alarming rate! But that's life. Frank Woods began his career as a marketing man (Proctor & Gamble), went […]

I support Beckstoffer’s idea to bring more tasting rooms to Napa city

 Mark As Read    

  The most interesting thing about the Beckstoffer family’s purchase of the old [1905] historic building in downtown Napa was Andy Beckstoffer’s statement (paraphrased in the Napa Valley Registry’s article) “that Upvalley wine interests should invest in Napa city and build their hospitality facilities there.” “Upvalley” traditionally refers to...

A wine lunch at Michael Mina

 Mark As Read    

  We had a fantastic lunch at Michael Mina yesterday (don’t even get me started on the short ribs!). It was my first sales trip (for Jackson Family Wines), to which they had invited a small bunch of top sommeliers in the Bay Area. The wines were no slouches: Matanzas Creek 2012 Bennett Valley Sauvignon […]

The shift from print to digital is getting stronger

 Mark As Read    

  Two articles in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, taken together, suggest that the transition from print to digital journalism is gathering steam.   The first, “The Vanishing Everyman’s Art Gallery,” actually is a bit of nostalgia for the old days when newsstands were on every street corner of every city in America, and their publishers ...

No Title

 Mark As Read    

  Lots of news to comment on in the last 24 hours. First, and saddest, is the news that the legendary David Hirsch, of Hirsch Vineyards, was badly injured last Saturday in a tractor accident that occurred in his vineyard, out on the far Sonoma Coast. I first met David when I was doing research […]

Wine and food pairing: don’t overthink it

 Mark As Read    

  I get crazy over the craziest things. Right now, I’m trying to figure out the perfect wine to drink with a frittata made with prosciutto, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese and boiled potatoes. White, probably, but rich and oaky, like Chardonnay, or light, like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio? On the other hand, I was tasting […]

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