Archive for December, 2007

The Iron Sommelier

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Imagine having the ability to pair food and wine, while the sommelier stands by ready to offer advice and/or commentary. That’s how the Iron Sommelier Challenge worked at the 2007 World of Pinot Noir. Five sommeliers sat on the panel, and took the attendees through each of the wines (Blind – not knowing the identity of each wine) in a flight of Pinots, comparing and contrasting them with dishes prepared by the Dolphin Inn, here in Shell Beach.

Join us as we hear sommeliers select what they feel are the best food matches from the flight of wines, and why. It was very interesting to hear how the wine notes changed when sampled without food and then with food.

Wines Revealed

A: 2004 Baileyana – Grand Firepeak Vineyards
B: 2004 Buena Vista Carneros – EVS Swan
C: 2003 Clos Du Val – Reserve
D: 2004 Handley Cellars – Reserve
E: 2005 Hug Cellars – Orchid Hill
F: 2004 Lane Tanner – Julia Vineyard
G: 2004 Roessler Cellars – La Brisa
H: 2004 Testarossa – Schultze

Seminar Plates:

– Roast Pekin Duck with Rhubarb Chutney
– Creole Spiced Lamb Tenderloin Carpaccio with Balsamic
– Local Foraged Chantrelles with Midnight Moon Aged Goat Cheese
– Red Onion and Black Currant Marmalade Tart

For More Information on the 2008 World of Pinot Noir: www.worldofpinotnoir.com

Sponsor: Champagne USA: www.champagne.us

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Show #183
(1:02:52 min 43 MB)

Stewards of the Land: Russian River Valley

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Welcome to our video podcast – Stewards of the Land Russian River Valley, Sonoma – Video Show #24.


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When you think of the Russian River Valley, what comes to mind? Pinot Noir and Chardonnay? Well, right now, yes, but it wasn’t always that way.

Trappers and hunters predominated in the early 1800s, as Russian settlers moved into this area just north of San Francisco giving the river and the surrounding watershed its colorful name. By the 1870s, viticulture had been firmly established in the valley, only to be completely de-railed by prohibition in the 1920s. What followed, even after the repeal of prohibition in 1933, was a steady growth in normal agricultural crops and orchards for many years to come. It would take a 30-year incubation period for the re-birth of vineyards.

The true wine Renaissance finally arrived in the 1960s, when pioneers like Charles Bacigalupi and Joe Rochioli began planting Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. And later, when Chateau Montelena took the French by surprise at the 1976 Paris tasting (with a Chardonnay made from Bacigalupi fruit), and Williams Selyem began to win accolades for its Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs, the valley found its rightful place as a world-class (and world famous) wine growing region.

GrapeRadio is proud to present a brief look at the Russian River Valley, including interviews with Joe Rochioli, Howie Allen, Helen Bacigalupi, Burt Williams, John Haeger, James Laube, and many more. Join us for a close-up of this beautiful area, including highlights of its history, its agriculture, its foods, and most importantly, its people.

To Cork or Not to Cork

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For journalist and author George M. Taber, much of our enjoyment of wine has to do with what he refers to as “the romance of the cork.” Indeed, there is a celebratory, even romantic feeling on hearing the “pop” of a cork pulled from a bottle. Unfortunately, romance sometimes becomes tainted.

Although world wine production mushroomed through the 1990s, the global demand for wine corks dropped about 20%, between 2000 and 2005, according to a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report. At the root of this apparently contradictory pattern was an issue called “cork taint,” wherein an infected cork taints the wine in the bottle with a chemical know as Trichloroanisole, or TCA. As the number of reportedly tainted bottles increased, especially through the 1980s and 1990s, the search was on by wine producers and others to find a solution and/or an alternative closure for wine bottles. What led up to this seemingly sudden appearance of cork taint — or, has it been there all along? Why and how this happened is the fascinating subject of George Taber’s new book, To Cork or not to Cork.

So, is “the romance of the cork” dead? Join us as we talk with George about the history, evolution and prognosis of wine bottle closures.

George shares many insights, and more than a few historical nuggets along the way.

To buy the Book Now: Click Here

Sponsor: Champagne USA: www.champagne.us

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Show #182
(58:00 min 40 MB)

FYI: We gave away 3 signed copies of the book to listeners who commented on the show:

– Matt Wessler
– Doug Hackett
– Charlie S Brown

Shea Vineyards – Video

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Welcome to our video podcast – Shea Vineyards – Video Show #23.

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Oregon is rightfully known as Pinot Noir country, and one of the better-known purveyors of this grape is the 200-acre vineyard planted by Dick and Deirdre Shea in 1989. Shea Vineyards lies in the heart of Oregon’s Yamhill-Carlton District. The Willakenzie soils in this part of the state make it an ideal site for some world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Finally, after yielding fruit to some of the West’s best known wineries, Dick and Deirdre founded Shea Wine Cellars in 1996, in order to produce their own wines from Estate fruit. We wondered what it would be like to taste the full lineup of their current vintage. We didn’t have to wait long.

Fortunately, our own Rusty Gaffney was able to lay his hands on the entire 2005 lineup of wines, and arranged for all of us to sit down and taste through them. Join us as we explore the smells and tastes of Oregon’s Shea Vineyards – one bottle at a time.

Join us as we talk with with Dick Shea about his eponymous Oregon vineyard.

Sponsor: The California Wine Club: www.cawineclub.com

Wine Tasting with Shea Vineyards

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With friends and families gathering this time of year, plus a multitude of holiday parties, what better time to open several bottles of wine and organize your own wine tasting. With this in mind, the GrapeRadio bunch got together to assess 10 wines in a slightly formalized setting. In this case, “formalized” meant a sit-down tasting of specific wines, as opposed to the normal party atmosphere of sipping wine while wandering among guests.

Our own Rusty Gaffney hosted the tasting, and we sat around a large dining room table where he had set out 10 Burgundy glasses for each taster (we were going to taste Pinot Noir, so Rusty supplied the appropriate stemware). Some food had been prepared for later (you can properly evaluate wines either with or without food, but should keep things consistent), as we wanted to check out the wines first without the compliment of food. Water bottles were available to freshen the palate and keep us hydrated, and we were ready to dive in.

There is no completely right or wrong way of assessing wine – people often take different approaches to determining what they like or do not like about a wine. Usually, a quick sniff, followed by a swirl and another longer sniff gives one a sense of the aromatics. Then comes a small taste, which is usually held in the mouth for several seconds before swallowing or expelling (yes, spitting out) the wine.

At this point, many people like to make a note of their impressions. The note(s) can be very brief or very verbose, depending upon what the taster wants to convey to him/herself or to others. Ordinarily, the wines are not discussed individually as tasted, but instead are discussed when all of the wines have been evaluated. As you might imagine, impressions of each wine can differ with each taster – it just depends on the taster’s preference.

Finally, food is served and the wines are evaluated once again, in a less formal setting with plenty of discussion along the way. And, there you have it – wine tasting made easy!

Sponsor: The California Wine Club: www.cawineclub.com

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Show #181
(56:45 min 39 MB)

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The Winery at LaGrange – Video

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Welcome to our video podcast – The Winery at LaGrange – Video Show #22.

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Located just outside of Haymarket, Virginia, the Winery at LaGrange is in a beautiful pastoral setting. The winery is named for its three and a half story La Grange manor house which was built in the 1790’s, although the winery itself was started in 2006. Situated about an hour from Washington DC, they get plenty of visitors, and if the crowd during our visit was any indication, the Winery at LaGrange will become another thriving East Coast winery.

Join us as we talk with with general manager Fletcher Henderson, and winemaker Rob Cox about this exciting new project.

Sponsor: North Berkeley Imports: www.northberkeleyimports.com

Boordy Vineyards – Video

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Welcome to our video podcast – Boordy Vineyards – Video Show #21.

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Located in Hydes, Maryland, Boordy Vineyards was founded by Philip and Jocelyn Wagner, who established Maryland’s first commercial winery in 1945. Boordy is probably best known for introducing new varieties of French hybrid grapevines throughout the United States in the 1930s. Since 1980, Boordy has been owned by the R.B. Deford family, and is located on their historic 240-acre farm in the Long Green Valley of northeastern Baltimore County. The winery is housed in a 19th century stone barn whose thick walls keep the wine at cellar temperatures throughout the year.
Proprietor and winemaker Rob Deford attended UC Davis, but as he put it, “there was never any doubt that I would come back here to Maryland to make wine.” This was his home. Boordy currently produces 70,000 gallons of wine annually. In addition to the three generations of Estate vines, forty acres of grapes are cultivated in the Long Green Valley (Central Piedmont region) and in the Catoctin Mountains of western Maryland. Varieties grown include chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, petit verdot, seyval blanc, and vidal blanc. Boordy’s winemaker since 1986 has been Tom Burns.
Join us as we talk with Rob Deford, and get a glimpse into the history of winemaking in the area.

Sponsor: North Berkeley Imports: www.northberkeleyimports.com

Linden Vineyards – Virginia

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Welcome to our video podcast – Linden Vineyards – Video Show #20.


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The one constant we heard during our East Coast winery visits was: see Jim Law at Linden Vineyards. And, without a doubt, we found Jim to be one of the most talented, dedicated and knowledgeable individuals we’ve met – anywhere! Purchasing an abandoned farm in 1983, Jim began planting vines from cuttings and grafts in 1985. Varieties included Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Vidal and Seyval. The first vintage was 1987 and the winery was opened in 1988.

Jim has been experimenting here with different varieties, placement, trellising, and so on over many recent years, and from the end product, it seems they’re getting closer to defining the mid-Atlantic region. All of this presented an interesting dichotomy out in the vineyard. Jim had recently replaced a block with new denser plantings – like babies, small and petite; while back behind us, stood an army of tall wooden lyre trellises, waiting for the older vines to climb to the top. We also noted that Jim seems to enjoy the same challenge himself, and the Blue Ridge climate and growing conditions apparently afford him that very “opportunity.” Even though Jim seems to be at the forefront of all of this experimentation, he also admits there is a long way to go. “We’re still young. We don’t have all the answers yet,” he told us. Not too dissimilar to what one hears from almost any winegrower on the West Coast.
Join us as we talk with Jim Law, and take a fascinating look at East Coast viticulture – Virginia style!

Sponsor: North Berkeley Imports: www.northberkeleyimports.com

Your New Years Wine Resolution

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As this year draws to a close, it is almost time to make those New Years’ Resolutions. How many of your resolutions are wine-related? Have you made made resolutions before? Were you able to keep them, or did you just give up?

The GrapeRadio bunch discuss past successes and failures to live up to Wine Resolutions, and share their own resolutions for the upcoming year.

Contest Alert: Please add your “New Years Resolution” to our comments and be entered to win one of several fun prizes!

Sponsor: North Berkeley Imports: www.northberkeleywine.com

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Show #180
(32:09 min 22 MB)

Global Warming and Wine

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Global Warming – what does this portend for wine growers, wine makers and consumers? What adaptive changes will need to be made in existing wine regions as global temperatures increase? Will wine growing need to be relocated in cooler regions?

Despite the many scientific uncertainties about the full effects if global warming, one thing remains clear – the challenges of growing and making wine will be many and varied.

Join us as our own Rusty Gaffney MD and Ted Burns MdD interview the leaders in the field:
Dr. Gregory Jones, Associate Professor, Southern Oregon University
Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh, Assistant Professor, Purdue University

Sponsor: North Berkeley Imports: www.northberkeleywine.com

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Show #179
(1:19:23 min 55 MB)

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GrapeRadio is a wine talk show. Show topics cover issues such as the enjoyment of wine, wine news and industry trends - the hallmark of the show is interviews with world class guest (winemakers, vineyards owners, wine retail / wholesale leaders, restaurateurs and sommeliers). The scope of the show is international so expect to hear many guests from around the world.

GrapeRadio has received numerous awards and honors including the 2008 James Beard Award for excellence in Journalism.

GrapeRadio has been the subject of numerous news reports by: The New York Times, Business Week, CNN, The Financial Times of London, and Wired Magazine.