Friday, August 30, 2013

Just in from the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat...

It is forcast to be Clear at 11:00 PM PDT on August 30, 2013

7 Questions for James Conway

James Conaway, author of two Napa Valley tell-alls, has turned to wine fiction with "Nose." (Photo by Peter Menzel)
James Conaway, author of two Napa Valley tell-alls, has turned to wine fiction with “Nose.” (Photo by Peter Menzel)
By DOUG ERNST / Napa Valley Correspondent
James Conaway took on the politics and culture of the Napa Valley wine industry with his first two books, “Napa: The Story of an American Eden” (2002) and a sequel, “The Far Side of Eden” (2003). Now he has dipped his toe back into the pond with “Nose,” a novel that challenges the corporate culture of an unidentified but clearly recognizable Northern California Wine Country setting.
Conaway, 52, got into wine writing as a reporter for the Washington Post when the wine critic quit and he offered to take over. He divides his time between Washington, D.C., and Virginia’s wine country.
When you poke fun at the wine culture, are you warning folks not to take themselves too seriously?
It’s true, I do poke some fun at the culture in “Nose,” but I didn’t set out to do that. Most good novels come from some long experience, and that was true with this book. I was sitting in some good friends’ guesthouse in Napa one morning and suddenly had this vision of a very large, pompous British wine critic waking up under his wife. Odd, I know, but also hilarious. I kept going and wrote the whole first chapter, and only later did the more serious issues emerge.
I remember the first time I ever read a wine review and thought, “this language is preposterous.” Then I realized that much of it makes sense and is based in scientific fact. What doesn’t make sense is the pretension that’s often found in wine circles, most of it having to do with money and the very American notion that you can put on style and culture like a clean shirt.
That shirt is often a high-priced wine label that has little to do with the person who owns it and whose past — and sometimes his product — is shadowed by financial and other activities that are not exemplary. That, by the way, can include wine criticism.
At the same time, wine is so varied and the history and the process behind it so fascinating, that in the end it creates a society all its own, with not only its own language but also its own behavior.
NoseIn your first two books you focused on Napa Valley politics and culture; how did this translate into other wine growing regions?
Well, Napa’s unique, the most successful American wine growing region as well as the most famous. What happened and happens there serves as both an inspiration and a caution.
Despite the attendant glitz, Napa was saved back in the 1960s by passage of the agricultural preserve that prevented certain kinds of development. If it hadn’t been passed, I think houses would stand in what is now primo cabernet country.
Other regions must guard against wine being turned into a touristic rather an agricultural product. Sonoma, it seems to me, has done a good job in assuring that multi-crop ag survives, and true rural quality of life is really what it’s all about.
What kind of influence have you had on the wine industry?
I’m not sure I’ve had any influence at all, but I sure have feedback! I have enemies, and the sacred cows include development, ostentation and highly alcoholic wines. I haven’t had a vintner sic a dog on me yet, which actually happened to Robert Parker.
A number of people here have told me they like the novel and value the baring of some rarely portrayed antics. I’m pleased that many people get the fact that “Nose” is also about basic values, including family and love between two unlikely people that manages to triumph. Another important theme is the possibly toxic effect of corporate values on people and place, and how demands for profit must be better balanced with those of individual lives and community.
It would be a great shame if Sonoma and Napa and other blessed places became too dependent upon a relatively few conglomerates domiciled in distant places. Not enough people think about these aspects of the wine in their glasses and relate it to responsible agriculture and environmental health.
Are you considering another book about wine culture?
Yes, I am working on a prequel to “Nose” set in the late ‘70s, when northern California wine was beginning to pop in the wake of the Paris tasting. A young, slimmer, good-looking and naive Clyde Craven-Jones arrives in the valley in which “Nose” is set. He immediately gets involved with three sisters who have inherited a famous, if near-moribund, wine estate, and he attempts to save it and survive. That novel is mirroring much of what actually transpired at that time.
I also still intend to write the third volume of what will be my Napa nonfiction trilogy, but that’s a long range project. I want to pick up some of the same characters in Volume III, which will deal more with corporations and the ongoing effects on the place of money and environmental change.
What is your favorite wine?
That’s a loaded question. I could say my favorite wine is tequila and avoid some grief. I will say that I love cabernet sauvignon, but also the Rhone varieties and their New World expressions. I’m very happy to see all these varietals marching out of history and finding fans among young wine drinkers. Russian River pinot noir is one of my favorites.
When you aren’t writing, what do you do to keep yourself busy?
Unfortunately I’m writing most of the time, but I have a little place isolated in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge, and there I do some fly fishing and split a lot of wood. Most writers live primarily in their minds, for better or for worse, and a glass of good wine makes it a lot more comfortable.
Where do you like to go when you visit Wine Country?
I usually divide my time between the city of Napa, which has gotten quite cosmopolitan, and up-valley. I sometimes hike outside Calistoga and also go over the Oakville Grade to tool around Sonoma. I like Healdsburg particularly, and the square in the town of Sonoma, as well as the coast and environs of the Russian River.
To order my novel, Nose, click on:  
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Walking: Appalachia

     I was asked by National Geographic Traveler to look for something to write about in east Tennessee, the opposite end of the long, skinny state where I was born. What I found was a lot more interesting than Dollywood:

    "Most people here were kin to me in one way or another, and almost all of them are gone." This mournful news was delivered with resignation but not defeat by a 77-year-old man with wavy white hair and eyebrows to match, one John Rice Irwin. The place he spoke of has mythic heft: Big Valley, a geologic crease in east Tennessee between the Smoky and Cumberland mountain ranges, about half of it under water since the mid-1930s, when the Tennessee Valley Authority dammed the Clinch and other rivers and created a huge reservoir called Norris Lake.
     The dam generated hydroelectric power for millions but also displaced people unlucky enough to be living below the lake's high-water mark. John calculated that as many as 500 of the displaced were family. "Uncle Rufus's wife, now she didn't know anything about the outside world. She said, 'I have three daughters buried under the cedar trees, and I would like to live out my days here. But if it will help a lot of people, we'll go.'"
    In some of those Appalachian homesteads, he added, "the fires had been kept going on the hearth for generations. One man stacked his possessions in a truck, then made a mound of dirt and put the coals on it and took them to his new house." Some of those families had been in Big Valley since colonial days, descendants of Scots-Irish, Welsh, and German settlers that included mountain men, farmers, musket-makers, and at least one poet, Martin Rice, John's distant cousin. He left Big Valley for Missouri in 1833 and returned 40 years later, to what he called, in Scenes of My Childhood, "That dearest spot upon the earth.../ Twas changed, but still was the same."
     In some ways it still was, despite the high-priced vacation homes on an 809-mile shoreline. "Thaf s where Martin's daddy's house once stood," said John, pointing to a big oak tree with Lone Mountain in the background. Up there, a friend of Martin Rice's great-grandfather, Henry Rice, was scalped by Cherokees in 1794 or so the story goes. The telling of it and others was casual, inconclusive, and attribution was usually lost in a rich but vanished past.
     John was making what he said will be his last trip to Big Valley. Age and chronic heart problems had limited his walking, and so we were traveling in a van on Sharps Chapel Road, through open country on a fine day in April, with little cedars in the fencerows and, in the fields, limestone outcroppings like elbows poking through a raveling green sweater. Farming was still done, and it involved sere gray barns and farmhouses with flowers in gourds swinging from porch eaves. Yes, there  were trailers, too, and a sign for the Hair Saloon and another for the Blue Springs Missionary Church, but it was easy to imagine life before the TVA, or the Continental Congress for that matter.
     We paused now and then to stroll in cemeteries where his forebearers lie under crude headstones with faint, runic inscriptions, I in my hiking gear and John in black cowboy boots and blazer with a red silk handkerchief in the pocket. With his pocketknife he cut two twigs from a wild cherry tree and peeled them, "so we'll have something to chew on." He was the founder of the Museum of Appalachia, just north of Knoxville, and the author of many books about local culture-craft, music, history-but it was family that preoccupied him, and his stories formed one loosely joined but continuous, clannish narrative.

     "About 80 percent of the people around here were on the Union side in the Civil War, like my great-grandfather, a footwashing Baptist with 17 children. There weren't many slaves, and everybody had kin that had fought in either the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812. They didn't want the Union destroyed."
     Tangents extend deep into the surrounding mountains. Of a community of worshippers in a neighboring valley, John said, "Lots of miracles over there. And the snake-handlers, they're all up on the Virginia line A little woman was slinging a rattler around, and I went up to get a better look, and they all wanted me to sit on the mourners' bench so they could pray for me."
     More common were those stories involving "spring water," a euphemism for homemade spirits sold against the ardent wishes of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms: an Irwin kinsman drying money on bedsheets spread in the sun, after escaping from "the law" by jumping into a lake. A banjo player selling spring water out of the trunk of his car while sheriff's deputies direct traffic. The permanent imprint of a .38 revolver in a distiller's trousers, sprouted corn spread over a cabin floor, Mason jars full of crystal clear liquid stacked in a cellar, smoke plumes in distant hills, and dark, fastmoving cars on midnight roads.
     Our destination was Lost Creek cemetery, in the 24,000-acre Chuck Swan Wildlife Management Area on the other side of the lake, a sharp, wild contrast to the development all around. This refuge is administered by the state, and we had to wait at the entrance for all the turkey hunters to check out of the woods before we could go in. The blossoms on the serviceberry trees had passed but wild dogwood was popping and gobblers still calling at noon. This leafy maze of former wagon roads felt empty, and timeless, with its view of mountains near the Cumberland Gap and mottled shade under tall, resurgent hardwoods.
     We found Rice Irwin Road; it led, appropriately, to Lost Creek Cemetery Road, a rough trip into Big Valley's founding enclave. This valley was settled before Knoxville, although the rudiments of that pioneer life - fortifications, water mill - were long gone. "My grandfather brought me here. Old Henry Rice was buried in Lost Creek in 1818, the second grave to be dug here. The first was for a friend of his who fought with Henry in the Revolutionary War but wasn't identified."
     He wanted to find his own august forebearer's ancient resting place, and we searched among some upright but mostly toppled headstones, among the lavender periwinkles and mayapples. The Daughters of the American Revolution put up a new marker in honor of this pioneer: Henry Rice 1717 - 1818, inscribed in polished granite quite different from its eroding limestone neighbors. "Some hunter's shot it," John adds, without rancor, referring to a bullet scar next to Henry's name.
     Henry's son, James Rice, was buried around there, too. 'This was once a vital place. There was a church," and John turned uphill, toward a foundation laid in 1885, and an "upping block" for assisting women onto horses. "There were people all around. Henry lived nearby, in what was called the loom house." He sighed. "Everywhere you go, a Shoney's or something has replaced a once unique landscape. But Lost Creek's much as it was 200 years ago. It's rare."
      The next day I went back alone to walk not just Rice Irwin Road but also Mossy Springs, Clear Creek, and Pond Hollow roads. There were no trail markers or posted explanations of local history, just miles of path leading through pretty woods to meadows and to more cemeteries, one with clear spring drinking water pouring from an old pipe. This elemental quality is found in most of rural America today, where natural beauty is accessible beyond everyday struggles, if you're determined to find it.
       Most walking in America is in fact done in places much like this - not in national parks or on jogging trails, but in uncelebrated byways where companions are most likely trees and birdsong, and the ghosts of generations past.

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Just in from New Zealand...

Rebecca Gibb of Wine-Searcher ( I sit down on opposite sides of the earth:

"Nose": A Mystery in Vineland
L-R: Napa Valley – the scene of the crime; "Nose"; James Conaway
© M. J. Wickham/Thomas Dunne Books/Peter Menzel | L-R: Napa Valley – the scene of the crime; "Nose"; James Conaway
Rebecca Gibb meets James Conaway, the author of "Nose," a novel set in a valley reminiscent of Napa.
What’s your background in wine?
I was working as a regular journalist for The Washington Post in the 1980s, doing political and cultural profiles, and the wine critic, who was a Brit, went back to London. They didn’t have anyone, so I said: ‘Why don’t you let me do it?' until they found somebody else, because I’d lived in Europe for a little while and knew something about wine – not much.
Of course, they never did find anybody, so I had to find something out about wine. The wine column took me to Napa Valley, and I realized it was a genuine subculture and quite fascinating. I was interested in the social aspect of it than anything else and ended up writing a long book about Napa Valley families. I've also written books that are not wine-related.
What are they about?
One is a memoir about growing up in Memphis.
Is that where you are from? I thought I detected a Southern twang.
Yes, I used to see Elvis Presley when I was a kid, driving his midget racer around.
Back to "Nose." Who is Clyde Craven-Jones, the ill-fated British wine critic in your book, based on?
He’s not based on any one person: he shares characteristics with a bunch of those wine-writing guys. Michael Broadbent probably – the now quite old British critic.
Craven-Jones seems quite snooty.
Some wine critics are snooty!
Why did you make him English rather than American?
I don’t know. I lived in England for a number of years. There was a guy across the street called Craven-something-something – a triple-barreled name – and I thought it was hilarious and it just fit.
He scores wines out of 20 rather than 100, which for America is quite unusual. Why?
But that’s the old way of doing it. The 100-point scale is newer than the 20-point scale. I think the 100-point score is on its way out.
Why do you say that?
It’s a gimmick. How many wines do you see that are rated 47? It’s really just a dishonest 20-point scale, and really it’s a dishonest 10-point scale, because to get 89 or 90 is a condemnation.

In "Nose," dastardly critic Clyde Craven-Jones uses only Riedel glasses
© Riedel | In "Nose," dastardly critic Clyde Craven-Jones uses only Riedel glasses
In the book, Craven-Jones has popcorn as a palate cleanser. What’s wrong with a cracker?
Well, popcorn is lighter than crackers and it has less taste if there’s nothing on it. It’s an ideal sponge for soaking up everything. I was once in a wine-tasting group and there was a young woman who chose popcorn and I thought it was odd. It stuck in my mind and then it just came out. That’s the thing about novels, you remember things you’ve never thought about for years and suddenly they emerge again. Clyde Craven-Jones is a very exacting fellow.
Besides Craven Jones, the main characters are Lester the unemployed-journalist-turned-private investigator, and Cotton the wine producer. Whom do most associate with?
Les, the young failed journalist, convinces himself he’s a wine critic, which is what I always considered myself to be doing – in the beginning, anyway. So, I felt a little kinship there because wine can be quite intimidating for people who don’t know anything about it, or try to write about it
Not Cotton?
He’s the most exemplary character. The environmental issues and a community opposed to corporate issues were part of my other two non-fiction books about Napa Valley, and some of the things that happen to him actually happened to a couple of vintners I know: being offered money in a sealed envelope, things like that – that is not made up.
The multinational corporation gets a hard time in the book, whereas you portray Cotton, the small artisanal producer, in a favorable light. Is that a reflection of your personal views?
I fear that corporations will end up owning too much of places like Napa and Sonoma, because they are not healthy for the community in my overall opinion.
Is the valley that "Nose" is set based on Napa?
It’s very similar to Napa, but also resembles some other areas in northern California.

"Nose" penetrates the murky depths of foul play in Napa
© Napa Valley Vintners | "Nose" penetrates the murky depths of foul play in Napa
Craven-Jones comes to an untimely end. Why?
To me, Clyde Craven-Jones’s death is symbolic of the death of that kind of wine writing. He represents the heavy dependence on a points system, and the big, alcoholic, fruity wines that  both Parker and the Wine Spectator like. I don’t. I may as well drink tequila if I’m going to drink some of these high-alcohol wines.
Wineries are in financial difficulty in "Nose." When were you writing this book and was it related to the 2008 economic crisis?
Yes, it’s right at the end of the Bush debacle.
I take it you’re not a Republican then?
Well, I’m not a Bush-ite.
Craven-Jones drinks only from Riedel glasses. What do you drink from and does the glass matter to you?
I drink from whatever is handy. I drink from cheap glasses that don’t break too easily in the dishwasher. It probably matters and if I got seriously back into wine criticism, I would get some decent glasses.
On a week night, what do you drink?
Normally I would drink Cotes du Rhone – red and white. I love New Zealand, the grassy style sauvignon blanc. I would drink Cloudy Bay if I could afford it.
Who are your three favorite wine producers in California?
Frog’s Leap: I like the Rutherford Cabernet. And Eisele Family Vineyards – not the ritzy one;  this is a German guy who lives up in the mountains and makes a classically styled cabernet. And probably my favorite is Dunn and its Howell Mountain Cabernet. He’s a friend of mine, but I can’t afford to drink his wines.
What’s next for James Conaway?
I am writing a prequel to "Nose" about Clive Craven-Jones. He’s a good-looking, slightly slimmer younger Brit who shows up in the same valley in the late 1970s in the wake of the Paris tasting – when things were really starting to pop in California. And he gets involved with three sisters who have inherited a moribund estate and much mischief occurs. And that’s all I’m saying.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Miami nice...

With summer winding down, here’s a look at some imbiber-oriented beach reading:
•  Nose by James Conaway (Thomas Dunne, $24.99): In 1990, Conaway wrote Napa, a tell-all about the egos and ambitions of the Gallos and Mondavis who put California on the world wine map. Now he’s written a novel about the area that will make him unpopular there again. It’s about a love-to-hate-him wine critic named Clyde Craven-Jones who finally finds a wine worth his top score, only to learn it has no discernible origin. He sets out to solve the mystery with amusing results.
Comments, etc.:

Read more here:

Thursday, August 15, 2013

On a wing and a berry

       Portland's wonderful beer is old hat if only in the sense that we've all heard about it: a powerful, gustatory collective of individual glories. (Portland has at least 50 breweries and God knows how many different brews.) Not so Stumptown's spirits world, a wild, amazing, ambitious amalgam of many of the world's of classics, from single-malt to akvavit, vodka to New World calvados and grappa. Most of these bubble away on Distillery Row in decidedly happening Southeast, close by the Willamette River, where light industry, residences, art and sensory pleasures happily commingle.
      Spontaneously generated in 2005 by small investors and willing refugees from the beer wars wanting to turn their talents to artisanal booze, Distillery Row rose as a very loose collective of like-minded souls determined to re-imagine the still - New Deal, Eastside, Rolling River, Stone Barn Brandyworks, Vinn and, finally, House Spirits Distillery, the object of today's lesson in imaginative refinement.
     What you thought was a spirit with perhaps the best-known provenance and world-girdling notoriety, gin, here has been given a new, bracing profile and distinct personality amidst the national profusion of experimental, artful whiskeys. Aviation gin beautifully brings to the fore what is to my mind the crucial element: juniper. But this "American" version adds a rare, subtle, fate-sealing second tenor to the antiphonal chorus of flavors, which is burnt orange peel, a hint of good, rough-cut, smokey marmalade barely detectable over the coriander, cardamom, lavender, Indian sarsaparilla, and anise

     I know, it sounds like herb-fruit-flower salad and is anything but. Clean, dry, paradoxically mouth-watering, powerfully suggestive of your fondest gin associations, whether that be straight-up Bogey martinis with ice shards and a glaze of lemon peel oil, dark-paneled bars of the pukka British Raj, or all-American tonic-drowned kitchen-table elbow-bending, that's Aviation.
      It could provide scholars a perfect contrast with another gin with a vaunted "botanicals" program, Bombay Sapphire, which comes close to obliterating juniper altogether. Sapphire's a gin-eric designed for people who don't much like the taste of the stuff. Even though Sapphire's well made it has none of the life or the challenges associated with gin's power and colorful history (go to

    For $30 you get with Aviation a striking, Art Nouveau-ish bottle with vertical lines leading the eye up, up to a prop and wings coming straight at you out of the RAF's officer's digs or Howard Hughes's Hollywood, take your pick.
     (Later I'll take a look at Distillery Row's impressive oaked whiskeys, including House Spirits's.) 
Comments, etc.:
To order my novel, Nose, click on:  
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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Comments outed

I know making and reading comments on this blog isn't easy, so I'm posting a selection from the beginning. I like receiving them and appreciate those readers willing to jump through the electronic hoops and actually post. 
Hi, The topic that you have discussed in the post is really amazing, I think now I have a strong hold over the topic after going through the post regarding Melbourne Bars . I will surely come back for more information. on San Francisco Chronicle Q&A about Nose, more
on 8/6/13

Great job..many things to understand..very good information thank you.. on On Writing: Napa Redux
on 7/26/13

Meant to say just finished reading Napa..... on On Writing: Napa Redux
on 7/10/13

Just finished reading Nose and I was absolutely blown away by the breadth and depth of information. I am starting to read it again just to catch details I might have missed. An incredible read and a fascinating look into the American wine industry. I was wondering if anyone has shown any interest in making a documentary out of it. I think it would go a long way in rekindling the interest in California wines. I also finished reading Nose, and I thought that was very entertaining-could also be made into a series. I wish there could be more wine related programs to educate and entertain. Thank you for your contribution to wine and I look forward to reading your next book. on On Writing: Napa Redux
on 7/10/13

Hello Jim, We met at Rams Gate signing. I have a small winery in Pt. Reyes Sta. I am reading "Nose" with much enthusiasm. Would it be possible to get a dozen copies of your book, signed for our tasting room? Also for my employees? Thanks, Steve Doughty onHere's my bio, a live radio interview, and a review of Nose
on 7/7/13

Hey Jim- Great to meet you at WBC! Thanks for signing my Napa book. I have the audio of your speech but no email to send a link. Please send it to me at marikane (at) best, Mari on Here's my bio, a live radio interview, and a review of Nose
on 6/11/13

Thanks, Jim, for posting this remarkable travel guide to Portland! From beautiful gardens to thought-provoking art, from live entertainment to a book-filled room to stay, and from coffee to a local brew, you've covered everything a tourist - or local - could want! I enjoy sitting at an outside cafe on some comfy, not-too-hot-from-the-sun patio furniture and just people-watching when I go to a new place. Are there a lot of outside cafes in Portland, as well? Thanks again for all the must-see tips! on Go: Portland Redux
on 4/16/13

James - I am extending an invitation to you to be our guest on an online show I host called 5ive O'Clock Somewhere on Toutsuite Social Club. Our show covers a wide variety of lifestyle content, particularly Food, Wine, Tech, Film, Music, Art, Cocktails, Authors, and much more. Our platform enables “viewers” to log in with their webcams and JOIN the show live, like they are sitting at the table with us! We have an opening on our Wine Wednesday show on March 20 and it would be great to have you on to discuss your new novel, Nose. We would like you to arrive no later than 4:45 PM in studio for the show that starts at 5PM sharp. If you can't join in person in our Napa based studio, we could have you join us via webcam. Your segment would be about 20 minutes and you’ll be interviewed by our set of awesome hosts, which includes me . It’s EASY and FUN! (We drink cocktails and wine on the show, so get their early for a drink before you go on for best results). The show is INTERACTIVE on Here's my bio, a live radio interview, and a review of Nose
on 3/5/13

looking forward to reading more of your work. we have recently written something on wine you might like on Post coitumida hassanon

I have read your two books on the Napa Valley. I will be in B.C. at the bloggers conference and look forward to your keynote. on Bloggers, northward!

The Red Room, along with the rest of Raymond Vineyards, was designed by Joshua Rowland Interiors. I think they did a great job! on The Red Room
on 1/30/13

Thanks for sharing such a good information about wine.In wine 70% cabernet sauvignon, 16% merlot) and sangiovese (14%). on Bottle-stock: Super Tuscan Napanjackshon
on 1/29/13

fun to say the name too. on Bottle-stock: Concha Y Toro
on 12/12/12
Best information of wine. This wine is my favourite. on Bottle-stock: Concha Y Toro
on 11/28/12
Thanks for sharing such a good information about wine.I am always buy wine online.Online wines is easy and we search all types of wine. on Report: So you think you have a wine club
on 11/28/12
man, i like! definitely the best cover of all you displayed. on The novel
on 10/5/12
soild post, sir! like everything, there is so much bs due to information innundation. thank you for not only cutting though the bs, but adding great color. on The Joys of a Small Cellar
on 9/20/12
I really like this wine and the winery as well. One of the more memorable places to visit in the Napa Valley. on Bottle Stock: Smith-Madrone
on 8/19/12
Very cool and eye-catching, even better if that watercolor was crafted with wine. on Okay, how about this one?
on 7/22/12
Hey, I just hopped over to your site via Stumbleupon. Not somthing I would normally read, but I liked your thoughts none the less. Thanks for making something worth reading. on A fly in my glass
on 7/21/12
the cover invokes "suspense". a bit sensual too. on So what do you think?
on 7/11/12
Thanks for sharing! I would love to try all these amazing wines! on Some Italian maybes
on 7/5/12
You didn't discuss my Italian white wine grape of choice, vermentino. Grown up and down the Ligurian coast, and in Sardininia and elsewhere. What could be better after a hike in Cinque Terre than a bowl of pasta with pesto and a cold bottle of vermentino wine! Does the Nose know this grape variety? JT on Some Italian maybes
on 6/30/12
I could not agree more with you about the Belle Glos pinot noir. You have a good comment on it. I understand your point. on A glass of open space?
on 6/9/12
yes, I get tofu headaches. and so does he: on Tofu headache, anyone?
on 6/2/12
i hope there is a screw-top underneath that wax. on Bottle stock
on 5/31/12
solid post on the "hemming-way". do you have any interesting info about Pineau des Charentes? i love that stuff... thanks. on Controlled fire
on 5/2/12
Hello, Very good blog post I love your site keep up the great posts. on A fly in my glass
on 4/28/12
Too much of a good thing. Our bodies have policies. Breaking these policies can have mild to severe results, from the hangover to the clap. Happy to say I’ve had countless bouts of one and none of the other. After all, I’m on a wine site rather than a skin site or medical site. There was never a time when the hangover didn’t hurt, but lately, I’ve been more sensitive to it. Or maybe “good-sensed” to it. Hangovers always hurt, but being mid-30’s, they hurt more. One new urban legend which came to me from a doctor-friend (a toxicologist, nonetheless) was to drink half a 5 hr energy drink before getting after it. No kidding, it helps a little. on Doc on France
on 4/24/12
Great article and wonderful stories.... chemicals or the molecules of smell (or taste) are not the only things that influence our experience... past experiences, how our neurons are wired, the environment in which we are swirling - much more than the molecules. on Sniff, sniff...
on 4/19/12
For those of us in our cups, spell check would be most welcome. on Dr. Silvius's revenge
on 3/27/12
Thank you Jim: A worthy tribute to the refinement of a derving monument to the social life. When I was sixteen, my fater took me to the Owl Bar at the Belvedere Hotel in Balimore. A refuge for the enlightened. I was a bit tentative but he insisted that we sit at the bar. He explained to the barman that I was to be introduced to life that day, and procceded to order two Hendrick's martinis: up,dry,cold,twist,NOW! The barman approached us with the two drinks, but was cradeling them in his warm hands....not the stem/ He only made it two paces before being rejected. on the third attempt they were accepted. I knew as the aroma acosted my sences...that I understood. Could not have been genetic, since this was my step father. The signal came from a higher place. After we finished the first round, my father explained that if I could appreciate a Martini, speak French and sail, I could accomplish anything in life. I bought a 53 foot sloop, maried a French speaking woman, and the rest is on Dr. Silvius's revenge
on 3/27/12
nice opinion.. thanks for sharing.... on Fruit flies: an exchange
on 3/22/12
It is a misdemeanor to get snockered, it is criminal to be edited. Where are the standards here? Doc on Snockered?
on 3/12/12
Love it! on NoCal vs. Virginy
on 3/11/12
Wonderful Jim, thanks for sharing! on Now hear this (and thanks)
on 3/11/12
Love the image of "hirsute bottles." on Burgundy West - and Better
on 3/8/12
Wow. This sounds like an amazing event. What is happens at it? Is it always the same time of year? on
on 2/19/12