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Understanding Wine Ratings Part 2

OD-AV904 WINE P G 20130301123200At its best, the art and science of wine blend together and become a compound inseparable from each other, and thus, like art, wine at times often transcends our ability to measure its quality empirically. Sometime ago I wrote an article called “The rating of wine … where does one begin?”

This article, now almost two years old, has been visited over 178,000 times. It seems clear to me that the topic of wine ratings, and understanding the power and influence they possess, underscores many of our biases, desires and behaviors when it comes to selecting, purchasing, collecting, investing and even choosing which wine to imbibe.   

In my previous article I describe the 20 point scale that intends to offer an empirical process for applying a measurement scale to the qualities of wine. I also promised to visit and write about the 100 point scale utilized and made popular by wine critic Robert Parker Jr. My intention here is to briefly discuss the 100 point wine scale with the goal of expanding upon my opinions rather than presenting some kind of thesis on this Needless to say, wine ratings are important and do have measurable effects on the economics of a wine. wine-ratings1

In the late 1970’s a relatively unknown attorney in Maryland fell in love and traveled to Alsace, France to pursue his future wife. In the late 1970’s, Mr. Parker began chronicling his wine tasting musings and critiques and conceived of producing a resource for wine enthusiasts, which is now called (formerly known as The Wine Advocate). Mr. Parker along with his friend Victor Morgenroth popularized a 100 point rating system.

This rating system gained rapid popularity and clout because it parroted the academic scales (A, B, C etc.) that practically everyone can readily identify with. Thus the application of a 100-point system promoted the natural belief that 90 points and higher meant quality. To me it means “A” grade. And who doesn’t want to enjoy an A grade wine?

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Wine Events to Talk About

wine-harvestcampbell wine walkWine Events of past, present and future are noted here for your amusement, edification and to stir up your attendance. This past week the Winter Campbell Wine walk was enjoyed by a sell out crowd of happy and hip millennial-and-up wine enthusiasts. The mild weather seemed more like spring than winter and music , laughter and good spirits filled downtown Campbell. 

Campbell’s downtown has bloomed with novel boutique shops, upscale and modern restaurants ranging from small family-run businesses to national brand-name stores. Amongst these shops you will find some of the finest wines from Northern California that were enjoyed by those who attended. burrell school 1

Most notable of them were Burrell School, a fabulous Santa Cruz Mountain winery located on the summit of Highway 17.  Fenestra Winery from the Livermore Valley poured a magnificent Syrah. Light Heart Cellars, from Santa Clara County, offered a delicious white varietal called Colombard. Roudon-Smith Winery and Cooper-Garrod Winery offered award-winning wines that were hosted by their wine makers and vintners. 

Their passion and commitment is express through the artistry of their wines. Sarah’s Vineyard and Martin Ranch poured lovely well-crafted wines as well. Yes, it was a lovely wine walk enjoyed by all who attended and sipped great wines and savored amuse-bouche nibbles. If you missed this wonderful wine event, don’t fret, there will be another Campbell wine walk early this fall. 

Looking for something to do this weekend? Would you like to make last minute plans to attend a Valentine’s Day function? Consider visiting Napa and attending Meritage Resorts’ Masters and Makers weekend. Go for the whole weekend or simply attend one of the events offered throughout this Valentine and President’s day weekend. 

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Review of the Coravin: Wine Preservation System

coravin2The Coravin wine preservation system will allow oenophiles a new way to save and preserve their fine wines that use natural cork, so they won’t have to drink the entire bottle or let their choice wines go to waste.  Being a techie-gadget kind of man, the Coravin WPS really appealed to my sensibilities.coravin4

To my mind, and most likely yours, the appearance and packaging of the Corovin WPS certainly speaks of luxury. The product’s design has the appearance of something conjured up by an inventive prop designer for the futuristic movie franchise “Blade” because it successfully merges an old world product (wine opener) with leading-edge technology. It’s a combo that offers advantages to both experienced and new oenophiles alike.

The Coravin, initially called the “Wine mosquito” was the vision of Greg Lambrecht. Mr. Lambrecht designs and develops a wide variety of medical devices and it was his application of his considerable mechanical engineering skills that resulted in the Coravin Wine Preservation System. His invention was literally born out of necessity when his wife became pregnant and abstained from alcoholic beverages. But Mr. Lambrecht still wanted to enjoy sipping some of his fine wines throughout her pregnancy without having to waste them, and so the Coravin was created.The Complete Coravin system comes with three different gauges ranging from 16-18. These needles are intended to offer a variety of capabilities. Generally speaking, using the Coravin to dispense wine ranges from 20 to 35 seconds per glass. The higher the gauge the slower the pour.

The Coravin is designed to work with wine bottles that use natural cork. Wines sealed with synthetic corks can be re-used, but these synthetic corks usually will not always reseal properly. Screw tops cannot be used with the Coravin product. It is also important to ensure that before using the Coravin that the top of the foil cap is completely removed to ensure that no metal discs or glass closures are below the foil top as they will damage the Coravin needle. coravin5

Although this is a rarity, some wine bottles may have slight inclusions or hairline fractures and should these defects be present the use of the Coravin may compromise the glass bottle’s integrity and it might break. This occurred a few times last year so Coravin now offers and recommends using a bottle sleeve to prevent potential injury, albeit these occurrences are rare. These events did not go unnoticed by the legal community; refer to 

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ZAP 2015

The 2015 Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) event, called “the Zinfandel Experience,” celebrated its 24th anniversary this past weekend on January 29-31, 2015. Over the course of this weekend, four marquee events were held by master Zinfandel winemakers and celebrated by their enthusiasts from around the globe.

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The Zinfandel Experience is currently the largest varietal tasting of its kind. It brings together top winemakers and oenophiles to celebrate the grape that California has come to call it’s own: the mighty Zinfandel. The spectacular weather for this year’s grand tasting event combined the beauty of San Francisco’s Presidio with an opportunity to experience exquisite, world-renowned Zinfandel wines, and all who attended may have come to joyfully appreciate the words of Galileo Galilei, who said, “Wine is sunlight, held together by water.”  


Zinfandel grapes can produce a robust, vibrant, complex red wine to rival the best Cabernet Sauvignon in terms of gastronomical quality. The versatility of Zinfandel allows the production of a wide array of wines ranging from full body complex reds and blush wines to late harvest sweet offerings because of its high sugar content, which can be fermented to alcohol levels exceeding 15 percent. This varietal also has the remarkable ability to reflect the climate and soil characteristics where it is grown, thus Zinfandel can present the flavors of black and red fruit, such as blackberry, boysenberry, cherry, raspberry, and of spices such as clove, anise, black pepper, touched by herbaceous and earthy wood-notes, which makes Zinfandel an extremely versatile food-pairing wine.

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trent ritchie
My wife and I have not been to Livermore valley Yet to wine taste! Any suggestions!
Wednesday, 04 February 2015 11:11 PM
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Harvest Celebration at the Press Club

It's Harvest time in California, and the incredible wine bar The Press Club in Yerba Buena in downtown San Francisco is hosting a Harvest Celebration to welcome the 2014 vintage! Come join us from 2 to 5pm to toast the new season with a tasting of some of the most fantastic Californian wineries. Click here for details!

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Saturday, 07 March 2015 2:02 AM
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