Behind the Music

by Jennifer Rosen

This week, Biography looks at one of wine’s rising stars – a sensuous white grape, as renowned for her troubled background as for her seductive charm, who triumphed over misfortune and won our hearts. A meteoric rise, struggles with leaf rot, a near-miss with extinction. Exotic, enigmatic, temperamental, long shunned by the mainstream, veiled in mystery and tragedy, who is the real Viognier? Famously coy about her origins, Viognier will only allude vaguely to a childhood in ancient Greece, or was that Rome? over 2000 years ago. What’s clear is that she arrived in the Rhone Valley around 600 B.C.…

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Fred MacMurray's Wine Legacy - My Three Wines

by Darryl Beeson

"In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing," reads the opening of Norman Maclean's novello, "A River Runs Through It," painting an evocative portrait of the sons of a small-town Montana minister. Actor Fred MacMurray, grandson of a horseback traveling Presbyterian minister in Scotland could have written an equally to-the-heart story. In the late 1930's, MacMurray discovered approximately 900 acres of perfect Sonoma land, with the Russian River running through it, perfect for his love of fly fishing. He bought it. He ranched it. In the mid 1950's, he brought his new bride, June Haver,…

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Organic, not Geeky, Wine

by Darryl Beeson

The word "organic" on a label of wine has tended to be the kiss of death towards sales. There has been a small, sometimes tie-died, always dedicated audience for all things certified organic. The remaining vastness of the marketplace views such efforts as being more expensive and less full-filling. Lets face it; The wines snobs make wine drinking geeky enough without compounding things with tofu inspired methodology. "If you don't get your flavors from the soil," asks Napa's Frogs Leap Winery founder John Williams, "where are you going to get them from?" Some winemakers opt for more oak involvement while…

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A Wee Dram-amine

by Darryl Beeson

They don’t call the ocean “the drink” for nothing. My mates and I are motivated more by the peat of the malt than by the pelt of the waves. Our team of three boats, nestled in a hundred boat flotilla, proceeds to seek the finest of Scotland’s single malt Scotches. This is The Classic Malts Cruise of the western coasts and isles of Scotland. We are the loud, the bedewed, the marines. It is July. And it is ice-cube cold.. Wearing rain gear for obvious reasons and “Wellies” to keep feet warm and dry, our gang of six sail “The…

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Matias Lecaros Winemaker

by MADELYN MILLER

Carmen winemaker Mastias Lecaros is doing all kinds of exciting things. When I was in Chile, I of course tasted his wonderful wines. But it took a trip to Dallas by him for me to be lucky enough to discuss the man behind these exciting wines. I tasted his organic wines, and honestly, I could not believe it. I am sure they were organic, but they tasted robust and wonderful. Matías Lecaros belongs to a traditional Chilean family that has been involved in agriculture since the 17th century. It was then when the first Lecaros arrived in Chile to explore…

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Meet the Pinots

by Jennifer Rosen

Pinot. The word keeps popping up like Paris Hilton in your spam box. Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio. What’s up with that? Welcome to this brilliant, dysfunctional family of grapes, whose ancestral vault was recently pillaged by DNA-crazed scientists, to reveal some shocking skeletons. Named for the pinecone that its clusters resemble, Pinot is one of the oldest cultivated wine grapes. 1st century Romans were crazy for it and carried around little papyrus vintage charts only they kept drinking too early because the years went backward. Not long after, a Pinot forefather went slumming, crossing paths with a deadbeat…

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Western Civ 101

by Jennifer Rosen

Jesus was not a party animal. The Last Supper was hardly the blowout of the season. So why would he waste his quota of miracles on something so frivolous as turning water into wine. We use wine to celebrate, relax, pontificate and get drunk. It’s hard to imagine that this frill on the apron of life was largely responsible for the rise of Western Civilization. I’m exaggerating, right? You decide. The first Neolithic spree was probably honey gone bad. It’s a short step from there to grapes. With their high sugar content and crushability, they practically vinify themselves. And you…

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When Corks Attack

by Jennifer Rosen

It was hardly an international incident, but embarrassing all the same. The highly-touted Zinfandel I ordered to impress Xavier Berger-Devieux, winemaker and proprietor of Burgundy’s Manoir de Mercey, wasn’t really terrible, just…blah. I meant to show that America had the chops, vinously speaking, to give France a run for her Euros. But I blew it. Or did I? Perhaps the wine was corked, or tainted by 2-4-6 Trichloroanisole (TCA), a bacteria you can detect in concentrations akin to one sugar cube dissolved in 100 Olympic swimming pools. Corked wines are musty, grassy, reminiscent of wet cardboard. So if my Zinfandel…

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