AUS Fires: Impact, How To Help, Focus on Four Wines with BBQ

As a lifelong Californian, I have experienced my share of fires. Growing up I remember my dad commuting from LA through fires in Malibu, and how scary that was. When I was very little, there was a fire on the hill above our Ventura house, and for the rest of my life when the sun sets at the right angle in the fall, the glint of the sun on the windows of the houses makes me wonder whether a fire is there or not.

In 2017, the Thomas Fire roared through my town taking out 300 homes, and the devastating mudflows in Montecito followed. In 2018, the Woolsey Fire took out a huge swath not far from home , and again in 2019, fire hit close by on South Mountain near Clos des Amis and where my son was at a slumber party, and other fires hit Ventura County too. If you add in the other devastating fires of the past few years — Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Tubbs, Atlas and more — Californians have lost a lot.

But this is nothing compared to what is happening in Australia where over 46 million acres have burned. According to a recent article in the New York Times,

  • The area of 2019-2020 bushfires in Australia is larger than the country of Switzerland.
  • The area of the 2019-2020 fires in Australia is larger than the states of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.
  • If the fires in Australia were in California, they’d cover 1/10 of the state.

In addition to vineyards being burned to the ground, smoke taint threatens the crop Continue reading

Introduce a Friend to French Wine 2: Loire’s St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil AOC Les Quaterones, Amirault #Winophiles

Three Loire Cabernet Franc by Xavier Amirault

What can make French wine confusing to newcomers is that often the name of the grape inside the bottle is nowhere to be found on the outside of the bottle.

That means to know what grapes are inside the bottle you have to know what is grown in the region named on the bottle.

Continue reading

Intro a Friend to French Wine 1: Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Comforting Cassoulet #Winophiles

While wine grapes may be grown throughout the world, it is France that many consider the most important country for wine. Ever since the Greeks cultivated grapes in Gaul (France) in the 6th century, for over 2,000 years,  growing grapes and making wine has been an important aspect of life in France. Wine grapes are grown throughout the country with 7-8 million bottles produced every year making France the number one producer of wine by volume in the world.

Did you know that most of the well-known grapes grown globally are actually French in origin? Continue reading

Love EU Wine and Cheese? Comment NOW Please on Proposed TARIFS!

You have until midnight Eastern time or 9pm Pacific time TODAY Monday January 13 to comment about the proposed 100% Trump Tariffs against food and wine from the EU that might start as early as TOMORROW Jan. 14.

calling to complain: SO PLEAE Call YOUR senators and representatives and urge them to pressure the Office of the US Trade Representative to reconsider their proposed tariffs

Yes, some of these tariffs are 100%.

If you like wine, BUY, and enjoy cheese, olive oil, and so many other food products,

this will devastate YOU.

Because it will cost you so much more to buy the food, wine, and spirits products you love. AND it hurts many Americans who are in the import business– Americans who are your neighbors.

So what can you do? Read about it and comment here. Continue reading

Happy Birthday 2019? No, it’s 2020 with JNSQ, Chambang, Champagne Rapeneau, and The Ojai Vineyard Puerta del Mar

January 11 is my birthday; I’m Gen X.

It’s also the birthday of WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, a Millenial who turned 36.

And of Larry Harvey, Burning Man founder (RIP), a Boomer, who was fond of absinthe by Absinthia.

How did 2019 go by so fast? is it really 2020 — time of vision past and future?

I’d like to celebrate all three of us — Larry, Matt and ME, the future and the past plus any other Capricorns along for the ride…

and I’d like to ask for your support. Because this was not a typical birthday for me…

On Wednesday, my dog Cisco was hit by a car as I was on my way to a pre-birthday celebration; 24 hours in the ER later, we owed $2.5 k AND he still needs between $2-6k in treatment to fix his displaced hip. He’s in a great deal of pain. I spent most of my birthday taking care of and cleaning up after him. Continue reading

To Try in 2020: Paso Robles Whites– Unexpected Grapes In an Unexpected Region #WinePW

Unusual White Wines from Paso Robles , CA

Question: What do these six wines have in common?
  • Castoro 2017 Falanghina CCOF estate
    ITALY: white grape; sample
  • Kenneth Volk 2012 Verdelho
    PORTUGAL: white grape; purchased
  • Barton 2017 “HOLIDAY” Clairette Blanche  
    FRANCE: Rhone white grape; sample 
  • Epoch 2018
    FRANCE: Rhone white grape blend: grenache blanc leads–
    biodynamic; Sue purchased at winery  
  • Tablas Creek 2017
    FRANCE: Rhone white grape blend; Rousanne leads; sample
  • Eberle 2018 Muscat canelli
    GREEK/ITALY: Greek white grape but most well known as Italian
Answer: These wines are all from Paso Robles CA and all might be considered wines made from “god-forsaken grapes” — grapes that are not common or unexpected in their home country AND not likely to be found outside their home country where they might not be all that appreciated either. And that’s the theme for this month’s Wine Pairing weekend prompt hosted by Culinary Cam– “godforsaken grapes” — a title that I hate that goes with a book I haven’t read but that I understand is quite entertaining and well written.
As people think first of red wines when think about wine from Central California’s Paso Robles if at all, we thought it would be fun to feature these uncommon and unexpected yet delightful white grapes from this less well known and under-appreciated region that is best known for its zinfandel, syrah, and cabernet blends — wines that are rich and red and often high in alcohol because so much of the AVA gets really hot in the summer.
Tablas Creek, Halter Ranch, Turley, and Justin are some of the better known labels with the first two of them focused on Rhone, Turley with zinfandel, and Justin with Cabernet and other Bordeaux red grapes.

Continue reading

2019 Well Done, 2020 To Do: #ItalianFWT #WinePW #Winophiles

2020 is barely a week old, but as I’m calendaring the year’s prompts for #ItalianFWT, #WinePW, #Winophiles, winemaker lunches and trade tastings in LA as well as other activities like the Wine Media Conference in Oregon and wine travel to Europe and South America, I’m reflecting on what we accomplished here on Wine Predator in 2019– and trying to decide what to submit for the Born Digital Awards (see what articles I submitted to the Millesima contest here).

I’m not really sure how we found the time, but Sue and I participated in EVERY SINGLE monthly prompt for Italian Food Wine Travel aka #ItalianFWT, Wine Pairing Weekend aka #WinePW, and the French Winophiles #Winophiles.

We joined wine bloggers and influencers from around the world but mostly from the US as we tasted and wrote about wines together following prompts that the group developed and organized sometimes with samples, and sometimes not.

Here on Wine Predator, that means 36 posts altogether at 15-20k words each! That’s the word count of a good sized book!

For almost every single article, I researched the region, the wine, the winery, and Sue and I both researched the cuisine to come up with menus and pairing ideas. Continue reading