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Archive for July, 2011

Climbing the Domaine Serene Ladder

July 29th, 2011 by Tom Johnson

We all know cost has almost nothing to do with the quality of wine, right? Yeah, well, meet the Domaine Serene Pinot Noir product line, which progresses from price point to price point with an almost engineered precision. No confusion here, and no one is going to come away surprised to find that one of [...]

Posted in Tasting Notes | Comments (2)

I Smell a Marketing Ploy

July 29th, 2011 by Tom Johnson

Click here if you think its a good use of your time to sign an online manifesto promising that you’ll never use a critic’s score to choose a bottle of wine again. The 100 point rating system is a clumsy and useless tool for examining wine. If wine is, as we believe, a subjective, subtle, [...]

Posted in From the Web | Comments (5)

Evidence That People Are Tipping Sommeliers Too Heavily

July 28th, 2011 by Tom Johnson

Christian Vanneque, former head sommelier at La Tour d’Argent in Paris, paid more at auction for a bottle of white wine than anyone in history. Bidding in London, he paid £75,000 ($122,000) for a standard-size bottle of 1811 Château d’Yquem. The previous most-expensive-white-wine in history was a bottle of  Woodbridge Chardonnay a lawyer acquaintance of mine [...]

Posted in Glass Cases | Comments (0)

Yet Another Government Activity That Has No Effect on Human Behavior

July 28th, 2011 by Tom Johnson

The government of Great Britain has decided it’s OK for Brits to drink more. That is, after noting that the previous recommendation had been “plucked out of the air,” government scientists turned to actual health data to determine how much adults can drink each day before their health starts to deteriorate. The answer: more. The [...]

Posted in Data | Comments (1)

Aloha, Subcontinent!

July 26th, 2011 by Tom Johnson

India, which is not bound by tradition in its adoption of wine, contemplates making wine out of pineapples. This commitment to innovation is perhaps why India has to have a ministry “responsible for permitting liquor production from a new substance” — because without that sort of regulation, there’s no telling what might show up in [...]

Posted in Signs of the Apocalypse | Comments (2)

Hate the Up-Sell, Love the Up-Seller

July 21st, 2011 by Tom Johnson

Two not-at-all-surprising results from an online poll commissioned by Sommelier Journal: First, most people (64%) think wine in restaurants is over-priced.  Sommelier Journal didn’t release underlying data, but I’d be interested to know how many people thought wine was too cheap — or, for that matter, if there’s a survey anywhere showing that a group [...]

Posted in Data | Comments (1)

Smartness Follows

July 20th, 2011 by Tom Johnson

I interviewed Mary Melton, the wine buyer — excuse me: Director of Beverage — for PF Chang’s. The interview is for an article I wrote for Vineyard & Winery Management. (The article, which I think runs in August, is really interesting; everyone should subscribe to the magazine and patronize its advertisers.) One thing that came [...]

Posted in Restaurants & Bars | Comments (1)

Evidence, If Any Were Necessary, That England Is the Gayest Country

July 19th, 2011 by Tom Johnson

Opera Unlimited, a British performance troupe that exposes impressionable young minds to musical theater, is performing an operetta based on Michael Broadbent’s wine tasting notes. The Lovely Ladies tells the story of a group of wines who hear a rumour, on the eve of a Christie’s auction, that their champion Michael Broadbent is to leave [...]

Posted in Signs of the Apocalypse | Comments (1)

Letter From the Void

July 18th, 2011 by Tom Johnson

The bartender stares blankly at me. I am in the lobby bar of an old, downtown hotel in a medium sized city. The hotel has been beautifully renovated, rescued from its fate as a cheap residence to resume its role as an urban hub. People go to the restaurant for Sunday brunch; the bar is [...]

Posted in American Wine Culture | Comments (3)


July 18th, 2011 by Tom Johnson

After public outcry, Healdsburg wine shop “The Serial Grapist” has changed its name. It will now be known as “Oenal Sex.” Just kidding. It’s “Wicked Wines.”  

Posted in Duly Noted | Comments (0)