Wine Openers - Blog

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Southern tasting shows new stuff

By Dave Buchanan
Sunday, November 2, 2008

The holiday wine and spirits show by Southern Wine & Spirits was held this year in the mostly empty expanse of a local florist, an interesting venue in that the smell of recently departed flowers and various greenery competed with the "sniffy sniff," as guru Gary Vaynerchuk might say. First, though a word or several about Southern Wine & Spirits. When someone, anyone, talks about consolidation in the liquor business, a couple of corporate names immediately come to mind. ...

Winemaking fun but serious

By Dave Buchanan
Sunday, November 2, 2008

Last post I talked about my introduction to hands-on winemaking, albeit in a minor way compared to what even the smallest commercial winery will produce. A few carboys of shiraz, now sitting in Sal Sassano's basement/winery, waiting for the yeast to finish off the last of the sugar so the wine is safe to bottle. I've witnessed first-hand how overwhelming the carbon dioxide from fermenting wines can be and some of my winemaker friends have joked about the effects of breathing that rarefied ...

Taking the step, or stomp

By Dave Buchanan
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I've never been foolish enough to suggest winemaking is an easy task. I've hung out with enough winemakers and wanna-be winemakers and even ex-winemakers to realize that winemaking, like farming, takes up too much time and energy to considered "fun," in the diversion sense of the word. It's not actually a burden, because if anything you do becomes a burden, it's time to no longer do that. But winemaking as fun, well, it's seems something awfully akin to raising children in that it takes ...

Is merlot making a sideways comeback?

By Dave Buchanan
Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm finally getting around to the red wines tasted at the Republic National Distribution Company's holiday show a few weeks ago. It's not the wines weren't nice but rather life got in the way of blogging. My friend Denny Barbour and I tasted through 50 or so reds during the three-hour show, plus another 50 or so whites and sparkling wines. Even when spitting it's nearly impossible not to absorb some alcohol so some of the notes I made toward the end of the evening are not nearly as funny ...

Winemaking 101

By Dave Buchanan
Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I've spent many nights at Sal and Kathy's house, laughing and talking and drinking his excellent homemade wines, some of which are blends you'll never find in any liquor store. Sal isn't shy about mixing a couple varietals when he's short enough of one to make a batch, and so sometimes we'll have blends of sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon or maybe merlot and syrah and even some nebbiolo tossed in, when that grape is ripe and produces a crop. This year, however, Sal offered me the chance ...

Something new at holiday show

By Dave Buchanan
Sunday, September 28, 2008

Denny Barber and Paul DeCoste talk business at the Republic National Distributing Company Holiday Show last week. You might be just getting over your summer hangover but the big liquor companies already have an eye on the holidays. It's about this time each late summer/early autumn that the major distributors, at least in those states under the thumb of the three-tier distribution system, show off their latest wines and spirits to retailers, restaurateurs and other need-to-know people in ...

Traveling wines and vendemmia means harvest

By Dave Buchanan
Sunday, September 21, 2008

I just returned from a few days in the far northwest Colorado, another of the few places I know where cell phones and Internet don't interfere with life. The late days of summer (this is being written on Sept. 21, officially the start of autumn but in the high country the season unofficially began a couple weeks ago) mean hunting seasons and you'll see upland bird hunters camping near archery hunters camping near black-powder rifle hunters. My simple but efficient hunting camp. You'll ...

Back from ‘The Loneliest Road’

By Dave Buchanan
Tuesday, September 9, 2008

This big sign greets you on the curve coming into Eureka, Nev. A break from the newspaper and blogging found me heading west to see family and friends in Utah and Nevada, driving through the delicious solitude of the basin-and-range portions of those states bisected by U.S. Highway 50, also known as "The Loneliest Road in America." In years' past I've spent an hour or more in those stretches without seeing another vehicle, 'cept maybe for the fleets of abandoned military wagons, trucks ...

Bursick’s first J vintage a delight

By Dave Buchanan
Monday, August 18, 2008

HEALDSBURG, Cal. — There's something special about meeting someone you've always admired from a distance, and so it was in early 2006 when George Bursick, the Sonoma County native who has become a winemaking legend in his own time, was introduced to me at at J Winery. This was a spring-time press tour, a small one but still the sort of thing where wineries go out of their way to impress the visitors. We saw a winemaker saber a bottle of American methode champenoise sparkling wine, ...

World of wine gets smaller

By Dave Buchanan
Thursday, August 14, 2008

I was wandering the aisles of a local wine store last week when I overheard someone complaining about the difficulties of finding Colorado wines in Front Range liquor stores. That's not surprising, given the number of liquor stores along the wrong side of the Continental Divide and how long it would take someone to forge their way through all those wine aisles to find what invariably will be a limited selection. Several reasons are at the root of this lack of visibility for Colorado ...

No getting past the awards

By Dave Buchanan
Monday, August 11, 2008

A recent comment from reader Bob about my column on Dolce Vita getting an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine got me to thinking about wine awards, wine lists in this town and what both of them mean to the casual wine drinker. Bob's contention is that the Wine Spectator award ain't no big deal because anyone who sends in the money can get that award. There's more to it than that, of course, including having a comprehensive and imaginative wine list that pairs with your food. ...

Wine shop brightens downtown

By Dave Buchanan
Saturday, August 2, 2008

I received a few comments this week about Dolce Vita restaurant earning an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine and those comments simply substantiated what the award recognized. Rick and Sue Crippen have one of the city's best wine bars in town thanks in great part to Rick's never-ending curious nature about wines and to his desire to offer great wines at affordable prices. A few doors upstream at 420 Main St., Mike Chariton recently opened Planet Wines, the city's first wine ...

Award sweetens Dolce Vita’s appeal

By Dave Buchanan
Sunday, July 27, 2008

Say what you like (or dislike) about the tentacles of Wine Spectator magazine stretching into every corner of the wine arena but until some better way comes along of recognizing the efforts of restaurateurs serious about wine, the Spectator's annual listing of restaurant awards is a good tool for the wine-lover's toolbox. Those readers living in large cities with numerous WS award winners will yawn at one or two more restaurants being added to the list. But those of us who spend most of ...

Cherries and wine, separately

By Dave Buchanan
Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The view from Terror Creek Winery takes in much of the North Fork Valley. Some of the vines you see are more than 35 years old. PAONIA— I spent the holiday weekend camping along a small creek near here and on my way home (the bugs got so bad on the last day I left camp without rolling up my tent, just crammed it in the car and sped away) stopped at a couple wineries in the fruit-rich North Fork Valley. My first stop was Black Bridge Winery. It really wasn’t for wine but ...

Paonia wine festival a relief, a delight

By Dave Buchanan
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I wrote in today’s newspaper column about the Mountain Vineyard Wine Festival held Saturday at Orchard Valley Farms and Black Bridge Winery in Paonia. I’ll repeat myself a bit here but it’s unavoidable, given the readers of this blog might not read the paper. My column appears here on the The Daily Sentinel Web site. After spending three days at the chi-chi Food & Wine Magazine Classic in Aspen, heading to Paonia for an afternoon of cool jazz, good food and some pretty ...

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