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Steve Heimoff| Wine Blog

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On the Vatican’s influence in American politics: the Murdoch connection

 Mark As Read    

  In no other major U.S. newspaper but Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal will you find, right there on the editorial page, a column that could have been written for L’Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of Vatican City and thus of the Roman Catholic Church. A recent example was last Friday’s “review” of the new movie, […]

Steve Heimoff| Wine Blog 11 hours, 33 min ago

In Defense of Hillary: Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation, and those emails

 Mark As Read    

  A reader comments: “If you want to have an impact on this election I suggest you work on a rigorous defense and explanation of Hillary’s shortcomings and mistakes rather than focusing on what should be painfully obvious about Trump being the most worthless candidate possibly ever.” Fair enough. Let’s go. Trump’s flip-flop on immigration [...

As the Republican Party breaks up, what does it mean for America?

 Mark As Read    

  In no other space in America is the schizophrenia at the heart of the Republican Party on more garish display than in the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal. In that jarring asylum, columnists have been utterly flummoxed by the Trump phenomenon. It quickly became clear that Rupert Murdoch was not a Trump […]

Two words for angry Trump voters: You’re wrong

 Mark As Read    

  This “anger” issue said to be driving the election fascinates me. People are said to be so angry that they’ll vote for the one person who seems angrier than they are: Trump. I grant that Americans are angry. But over what? For sure, a lot of middle class voters lost their jobs and thus […]

The Last Tasting: a happy one

 Mark As Read    

  (This is a real-time stream of consciousness report on a tasting I did yesterday, Tuesday. In all probability it was the last professional event I will ever do now that I’m retired.) 10 a.m. Arrived early in downtown Napa for the tasting. Sitting here by the river, on the Napa River Trail, sorting my […]

Why Republicans suck

 Mark As Read    

  Although I was raised in a Democratic household, I always considered myself a middle-of-the-roader. I hardly paid any attention to Presidential elections until 1984, when I voted for Jesse Jackson in the California primary, and for Mondale in the general election. But in 1988, I voted for the Republican, George H.W. Bush. Dukakis seemed [...

I just retired!

 Mark As Read    

  Last Friday, I told Rick Tigner, the CEO of Jackson Family Wines and a man for whom I have the utmost admiration, that I was quitting the job I’d held since March, 2014. Why? Because I turned 70 years old in June, and I’m feeling my age. I always had believed I would be […]

A rant on B.S. wine “reporting”

 Mark As Read    

I Googled “wine news” and here among the hits were these scintillating headlines: Expert reveals 3 things you need to know about drinking wine on planes Never spill your wine again with the __ wine glass and its metal stake Eva Longoria’s wine goals for T-shirt designs Delta pays a sommelier to pick wine for […]

Are we overdo for a paradigm shift in wine?

 Mark As Read    

  Copernican moments—also known as paradigm changes–don’t happen often. Change occurs constantly, but most changes shift reality only incrementally. Massive changes, the kind that set reality upside down, are fortunately few and far between—a good thing, otherwise life might prove unlivable. But, as Richard Mendelson, a Napa lawyer who r...

Review: A new, small book from Jancis

 Mark As Read    

  Jancis Robinson, “the most respected wine critic in the world” according to the cover of her new book, goes the route of brevity in this, our Twitter-addled world. “The 24-Hour Wine Expert” was just published by Abrams, a small house publisher specializing in art, photography and fashion. The book itself is small and thin, […]

Wine in barbershops?

 Mark As Read    

  That’s what the Washington Times is reporting. Seems my great state of California is considering allowing—not just barbershops—but beauty parlors too, a total of 42,000 shops in all, to serve wine and beer on their premises. The proposal is in the form of a bill, AB 1322, that would expand California’s current alcohol laws […]

Sacto, Are you ready? It’s The Sur Vs. Steve Show!

 Mark As Read    

  Off to Sacramento early this morning for a trade tasting the organizers are billing as “The Critic Vs. the Somm.” It’s kind of a M.M.A. smackdown beween Master Sommelier Sur Lucero and myself—or, at least, that’s what it’s purported to be. They expect a big turnout, I’m told. We’ll taste through a half-dozen or […]

Why would restaurateurs or wine merchants want to hear the thoughts of an aging critic?

 Mark As Read    

  You’d think they wouldn’t give a hoot. Wouldn’t they rather hear about the toast level of barrels, the composition of the soil, the angle of the slope with respect to the rising and setting of the sun, the type of crusher-destemmer, and the all-important details of pH and acidity? Well, actually, no. On these […]

Southern California beach towns love their wine

 Mark As Read    

  A personal value to me is to blog five days a week, a goal I’ve mostly achieved since 2008. However! Not every day is it possible, especially when I’m on the road, and my hosts keep me to a tight schedule that usually starts early in the morning and can last until nighttime. So […]

Live blogging from the Bloggers Conference

 Mark As Read    

  From the Wine Bloggers Conference agenda: Live Wine Blogging (White & Rose): This is the pre-eminent event at the Wine Bloggers Conference. Winemakers will each have five minutes to pour their wine, present their story, and answer questions from a table of bloggers. At the end of five minutes, winemakers will rotate to a […]

Au revoir, awesome Austin!

 Mark As Read    

  I’ve always wanted to come to Austin. I’d heard so much about how it’s the “San Francisco of Texas.” My friend Terry, from the tattoo shop, spent a year there, and loved it. My local drive-around buddies were from Republic distributors, Scott and Chris (whose picture I forgot to take). Scott actually drove me […]

Live! From the road–San Antonio

 Mark As Read    

  Gotta say that I’m really digging San Antonio. After big Houston, San Antone has more of a small town, neighborhoody and, dare I say it, soulful thing going on. Great downtown, lots of old brick buildings (and The Alamo!), and neighborhoods that are being rehabbed with cool new restaurants, clubs, bars. It reminded me […]

From Houston: Michelin won’t come here? Really?

 Mark As Read    

  I'm told by my friends and hosts here in Houston, Texas's biggest city and a financial and oil hub, that Michelin won't come here to review restaurants. If that's true, and they swear by it, it makes no sense. Houston is a great city, a port city that prides itself on its international culinary […]

Live! From Houston! It’s a road warrior

 Mark As Read    

  On the road again, this time in Houston, a town I have family roots in but can’t claim to know at all. They have a beautiful skyline but apparently the collapse in oil prices has hit it hard. I’m staying at The Houstonian, which I’m told used to be George H.W. Bush’s estate, and […]

The future of wine criticism: through my magic crystal

 Mark As Read    

  JOURNAL OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE Aug. 1, 2056 It may be hard for today’s younger generation to believe, but once upon a time, the evaluation of wine was determined by people, not smart machines. Weird, no? But it’s true, and you don’t have to go very far back to arrive at such a strange era. […]

Tasting Paso Robles wines in–Oakland!

 Mark As Read    

  The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance held a big tasting at the Scottish Rite Temple (and don’t ask me what those Scottish “rites” are, cuz I don’t know!) yesterday. As this is just a hop, skip and jump from where I live, I took a walk along the Lake to catch up on what’s […]

On the road in “everybody’s favorite city,” San Francisco

 Mark As Read    

  Spent a delightful and as always an educational day yesterday accompanying some of our Sales people to a couple San Francisco restaurants. I always look forward to these trips, because they are sheer adventure. You never know what you’re going to get. We went first to a small eastern Mediterranean place in the Mission […]

What are California’s greatest vineyards?

 Mark As Read    

  What are California’s grand cru vineyards? Somebody at work asked me this question, for a project they’re working on, so it got me to thinking. Some years ago, I wrote an article for Wine Enthusiast (which I no longer have available, alas) on California’s five greatest vineyards. Before I could make that determination, I […]

Will the CIA get COPIA right? And, how do those Google search rankings work, anyway?

 Mark As Read    

  I’m glad they’ve finally figured out what to do with the old COPIA building, after all these years. And what is that, you ask? The facility will become “a satellite of the Greystone campus” of the Culinary Institute of America, which itself is in St. Helena, according to Eater. I wonder if it will […]

Thinking about history, while it’s being made all around us

 Mark As Read    

  In these dog days of summer, with dangerous wildfires burning up and down the coast, and the country in a state of political hallucination, I retreat into the pleasanter realms of wine history, where everything is neat, tidy and comprehensible. Well, almost. Dan Berger’s recent column on Santa Barbara wine history ignores one of […]

Tasting mountain wines with a valley appellation

 Mark As Read    

  Gus and I headed up to the Alexander Valley yesterday for a tasting. It was chilly and foggy in Oakland when we left early, and the ride could have been worse: only 1-3/4 hours. We drove up the 101 to Alexander Valley Road, turned east through some awfully pretty wine country, and then—before reaching […]

Can you “train” a palate?

 Mark As Read    

  I picked up an older issue of Bon Appetit in which the “Starters” column (a sort of “Ask Bon Appetit anything you want” feature) has the following question from a reader: Dear BA, I often hear chefs on cooking shows…talking about a person’s palate…What exactly does that mean, and can I train my own […]

What to expect when you pay hundreds of dollars for dinner—and why you do it

 Mark As Read    

  How much money is too much money for a multi-course dinner at one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s top restaurants? That’s what the San Francisco Chronicle’s longtime restaurant critic, Michael Bauer, asked this past Sunday in this article, in which he takes to task Bay Area restaurants that raise their prices to astronomical […]

Older wine in restaurants? Not worth the risk

 Mark As Read    

  Somm Journal executive editor David Gadd asks the pertinent question of what to do when you let a sommelier hand-sell you a glass of older wine, and when you taste it, it’s over the hill. I say the question is pertinent, because we see this happening with greater frequency nowadays, what with these older […]

Vive La France!

 Mark As Read    

  One hardly knows where to begin to grieve for France. The birthplace of fine wine – still the inspiration – our hearts go out to the people of France and particularly of Nice. For myself, I plan to show my support by drinking wine all weekend.  

Thursday throwaway: Drink while you shop, and cookie-cutter Napa Valley Cab

 Mark As Read    

  It hasn’t come to my local Whole Foods yet, but it looks like it’s on the way: “Sip ‘n Shop.” According to yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, that’s where “Some high-end supermarkets are turning into neighborhood watering holes. Many have set aside space for wine bars…Some stores encourage shoppers to ‘sip ‘n shop,’ drinking while […]

Wednesday Wraparound: Wine as intellectual delight, and a new Freemark Abbey

 Mark As Read    

  Wine writer Gus Clemens must be a man after my own heart. In this lovely column he wrote for the San Angelo [Texas) Standard Times, he writes of wine’s “intellectually challenging” dimension—a dimension I love. All too often, in our industry, we reduce wine to its objective components. Master somms analyze it to a […]

Nice to see the Cabernet bashers come around

 Mark As Read    

  I’m glad I never joined the bandwagon of protest against California (mainly Napa Valley) Cabernet Sauvignon. It garnered a lot of naysayers, but, as Jancis (what, you need a last name?) blogged the other day, even the naysayers are changing their minds. “There has recently been a resurgence of interest in these wines on […]

Paso Robles, Sonoma, Napa: What’s the right amount of growth?

 Mark As Read    

  The thing about America is that the easy issues have been solved. What’s left are the hard ones, and among those—hardly the most pressing, but troubling if you live in wine country—is how much development to allow. Basically, the two sides are these: on the one hand are tourists who bring in the dollars […]

Does a grower?s personality enter into the wine?

 Mark As Read    

  In our ongoing attempt to understand terroir, or cru–the sum total of influences upon the character and quality of a wine?we now come across the statement by Eric Lebel. He is (or was, when Champagne, Uncorked was published, earlier this year), the Chef de Cave, or cellarmaster, at Krug Champagne. The book?s author, Alan […]

Has Vintank tanked? Not clear. My thoughts

 Mark As Read    

  Some years ago, around 2011 or 2012, Jo Diaz, the winery publicist, set up an event at U.C. Davis that featured a showdown, of sorts, between me and Paul Mabray, who had created VinTank in 2009. VinTank has been described in this article as ?the wine industry?s most powerful social media monitoring and data […]

Notes from the road, on AVAs, and a frown on orange wine

 Mark As Read    

  Driving back from Oregon to California, I was really struck by how abruptly the climate changes in a relatively short distance. I had stayed the night in Medford, in the interior section of Oregon, right on I-5. The daytime temperatures were very hot, well into the 90s. Then you climb into all the mountains?the […]

Learning Willamette, one step at a time

 Mark As Read    

  I just got back from up in the Willamette Valley working on that AVA project for Jackson Family Wines. Our particular vineyard is west of the town of Monmouth, in a part of the valley that does not have its own sub-appellation. That?s something I?m looking into, with the idea of coming up with […]

?There were giants in those days?

 Mark As Read    

  The news that Paul Draper is retiring came, not as a complete shock, because after all, he?s 80 years old. Rather, it was a realization, the latest in a sorry series, that ?the mighty men of old, men of renown? are passing from our scene like the last of a fine vintage gone to […]

If point scores give you reassurance, go ahead and trust them?

 Mark As Read    

  ?no matter how many articles like this one you read that tell you to ignore them. Now, the first thing I?m going to tell you is that the author of the article, MJ Skegg?a good writer–got all nine of his bullet points correct! MJ is the wine writer for the Portland, Oregon, Mercury, and […]

Lessons learned from old tasting notes

 Mark As Read    

  Why I did 25,000 tasting notes before I ever even had a job reviewing wine remains a mystery to me to this day. I guess it was that overused word, ?passion.? It?s not that I couldn?t help myself, as can happen with other less desirable addictions. I didn?t want to stop; I loved taking […]

Introducing the robot wine critic

 Mark As Read    

  In the next five years, when you call customer service or technical support for help with your checking account, internet connection or credit card, you?re likely to speak?not to a real human being?but to a robot. ?Hello,? it might say, in its weird, Stephen Hawking-like drone, ?my name is Robbie, and I'm here to […]

Microflora as terroir influence?

 Mark As Read    

  Former colleague Harvey Steiman at Wine Spectator has a nice piece on terroir in his latest blog. It actually breaks some new ground to the usual, predictably tedious conversations the wine media entertains itself with on this complicated topic. Yes, indeed, ?climate, elevation, the tilt of the slope or exposure to the sun??the usual […...

Happy birthday to a very special winery

 Mark As Read    

  When Robert Mondavi first walked the ground where his winery now stands, in early 1966, he was struck by something profound, a sense that in retrospect sounds mystical. ?I knew this was a very special place,? he wrote in his memoir, ?Harvests of Joy.? ?It exuded an indefinable quality I could not describe?of calm […]

A tasting of Oregon Pinot Noirs

 Mark As Read    

  I couldn?t be more pleased with my tasting yesterday, but I don?t give the credit to myself; I give it to the wines. The idea was to taste some of our Oregon Pinot Noirs to a select group of people in Marin County. In many respects, this was the best tasting I ever went […]

A comment on marketing, after receiving the latest Bordeaux hype from a press release

 Mark As Read    

  You know, I understanding marketing. When a winery or wine region touts itself as the ?best ever,? or ?greatest vintage,? or simply uses self-reverential language that makes it sound like it?s sitting at the right hand of God, it?s merely putting its best foot forward in a formal situation?as most of us do. Say […]

Au revoir to the oversized wine list

 Mark As Read    

  Hasn?t the day of the bloated wine list come, and gone? How many wines do diners need to ?peruse? on a list anyway? Obviously, there?s no correct answer, so I can only speak for myself. I, personally, like a list with perhaps 50 or 60 choices. It?s manageable; you actually have the time and […]

Big Pot: The marijuana industry learns from wine

 Mark As Read    

  I am astounded how rapidly the marijuana industry is growing into a bona fide, full-fledged business. In fact, it?s starting to look a lot like the wine industry My marijuana days?and they were many?happened when pot was illegal. You could get arrested for possession of a joint; I knew lots of people who were. […]

Millennials and brand loyalty: My thoughts

 Mark As Read    

  When Gallup says Millennials are ?the least-engaged generation of customers,? with ?the lowest level of customer engagement? of any group of consumers in the country, a couple thoughts come to mind. Those conclusions come from Gallup?s recent study, ?How Millennials Want to Work and Live.? Full disclosure: I read this article, which is from ...

Those ?semi-generic? European place names? Let?s ditch them

 Mark As Read    

  In law, the concept of ?grandfathering? certain parties into new laws is quite old in America, dating back to post-Civil War days. It occurs, says Wikipedia, when ?an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations while a new rule will apply to all future cases.? The concept applies across many areas of […]

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