Vinography Images: Cold Snap


Cold Snap
Most of America is experiencing the first serious cold front of the winter, and plenty of grape leaves lie encased in ice like this one from Sonoma county. Many more are already buried under snow elsewhere in the country.

Download this image by right-clicking on the image and selecting “save link as” or “save target as” and then select the desired location on your computer to save the image. Mac users can also just click the image to open the full size view and drag that to their desktops.

To set the image as your desktop wallpaper, Mac users should follow these instructions, while PC users should follow these.

If you are interested in owning an archive quality, limited edition print of this image please contact photographer Andy Katz through his web site.

Vinography regularly features images by photographer Andy Katz for readers’ personal use as desktop backgrounds or screen savers. We hope you enjoy them. Please respect the copyright on these images. These images are not to be reposted on any web site or blog without the express permission of the photographer.

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Credit: Vinography: A Wine Blog


Cincinnati Here I Come!


Hey, all you folks in Cincinnati, come have a drink with me! I’m coming to town to promote my book, The Essence of Wine. It’s a short trip, but I’m trying to pack a lot in.

The main event is an afternoon of wine tasting and talking about the book at 1215 Wine Bar. I’ve selected a bunch of wines, and will be there to talk with people about them, about tasting, about the world of flavors and aromas, and about my book.


If you live in Cincinnati or nearby, I hope you’ll consider joining me. I don’t often get the opportunity to meet many of my readers, and I’m not sure when I will have the chance to return to Cincinnati.

Tell your friends! Hope to see you there.

Taste the Essence of Wine with Vinography
December 5th, 2014 – 5:30 – 6:30 PM
1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab
1215 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

This is a free event, though you’ll want to buy some wine to drink while you’re there.

Photo of the Cincinnati skyline courtesy of Bigstock

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By: Vinography: A Wine Blog

Power To The People: Washington Wine Awards Voting Still Open

While formal application-based and panel-based nominations are closed for the 2015 Washington State Wine Awards, voting for the event’s People’s Choice award is still open. The awards ceremony, which are scheduled to take place on January 26, 2015, at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. 


The People’s Choice Awards include five separate categories of recognition: Walter Clore Honorarium Award, Retail Steward/Salesperson of the Year, Tourism Concierge of the Year, Distributor of the Year and Distributor Salesperson of the Year.


The Walter Clore Honorarium Award, according to the awards ceremony’s website, is given to “an individual who has demonstrated a lifetime dedication to the advancement of the Washington State wine industry.”


Past winners of this award have included Betz Family Winery’s Bob Betz (2014),  Compass Wines’ Doug Charles (2013), Anthony’s Restaurants’ Budd Gould (2012) and Ray’s Boathouse’s Mo Shaw (2011).


This year’s awards ceremony will feature 15 winners from the following categories: restaurants, sommeliers, retailers, lifetime contribution, industry-related events/promotions, hotel/tourism and distribution.


According to the website, each category’s entrants must meet certain criteria overseen by a  panel of judges which will include a variety of industry professionals and leaders.


“A judging panel comprised of growers, wine producers, and influential members of the Washington State wine industry subsequently evaluates these individuals, restaurants, and organizations on a variety of criteria to determine award winners,” the event’s website says.


The Sommelier of the Year Award, for example, includes four guidelines for judging.


The winner, according to Washington State Wine, “demonstrates dedication to the advancement of the Washington wine industry, shows continual dedication in the advancement of knowledge of the Washington wine industry, promotes Washington wine through innovative wine lists and glass pour programs,” and, “produced events that bring winemakers, wineries and the community together.”


Registration for  the event is still open for those who work in the wine industry. The event will be four hours long (3 p.m.-7 p.m.). The awards ceremony will take place at 5 p.m. A tasting will encompass most of the event, says the wine awards’ registration page.


Winners of the awards will receive a series of promotions in several local and national publications in which Washington State Wines will advertise the results of the contest. Winners also will receive a goblet specially designed for the 2015 ceremony.


For more information, go to the 2015 Washington State Wine Awards’ website.


By: Snooth – Articles

Reaserchers: Wine As Therapy for Alzheimer’s?

A quartet of Chinese researchers published earlier this week in BioMed Research International’s journal a study which explores the effects of resveratrol, a chemical found in grape skin and grape seeds, on Alzheimer’s disease.


The researchers concluded that resveratrol may be an effective tool in providing treatment for Alzheimer’s.


“Resveratrol is a novel agent for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease because of its multiple mechanisms in neuroprotection,” the report’s conclusion stated. “As the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease is still a worldwide problem, therapeutic potential of resveratrol has attracted the interest of researchers to shift emphasis on.”


The study’s main focus was to collect and present current research on the neuroprotective efforts of resveratrol against the tau-protein tangles and plaque which are the hallmarks of the degenerative disease.


“Scientists have been trying for a long time to treat and to alleviate the cognitive impairment (of Alzheimer’s),” the report said. “Unfortunately, no currently available treatment has been show to reverse existing deficits or to prevent disease progression.”

Several methods of treatment have been tried, the report said, but side effects and lack of effectiveness have rendered the treatments relatively ineffective.


Resveratrol brings hope to the research world, the report said, because it has proven to be an effective anti-inflammatory, cardioprotector and anticarcinogenic.


The chemical plays “important roles in treatment against cardiovascular diseases and cancers, as well as degenerative disorders in the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease.”


The researchers noted resveratrol’s specific ability to combat cognitive degeneration in tests in which the chemical was injected into live rats. 


These in vivo tests revealed that resveratrol “significantly reduced” certain types of spatial memory deterioration as well as reducing the accumulation of chemicals which are “responsible for Alzheimer’s dementia and memory deficits.”


Regarding the overall information available about resveratrol’s performance in studies of in vitro treatment, the report said, “Resveratrol is beneficial for animal neurodegenerative disorders induced by some neurotoxicity. The possible mechanisms may be responsible for its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.”


In vitro tests in which doctors injected resveratrol into hippocampus cells of rats also showed promising data.


Researchers also noted resveratrol’s ability to “play an important role in neruodegenerative diseases other than Alzheimer’s disease” including Parkinson’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).


The study noted that, though resveratrol shows promises, the chemical’s low availability in nature makes it difficult to create a full-scale treatment regimen for humans. The chemical has a short lifespan, the report said, and its poor ability to dissolve in water.


“Although the difficulties of clinical application are enormous…scientists are still trying to seek out the detailed mechanism and the suitable clinical administration of resveratrol,” the report concluded.


Source: Snooth – Articles

Breaking Bad Luck: Loire Valley Sees Promising Vintage

After two years of tough weather, the Loire Valley is on the rebound.


Local wine sources are reporting that the region enjoyed a warm September, which promoted ripening in the wake of a cool summer which brought with it rain and the increased possibility of rot.


Though conditions were not ideal, winemakers breathed a sigh of relief after experiencing consecutive years of relative disaster in which vineyards experienced  frost and storms (2012) and disruptive hail (2013).


The warm September proved beneficial for Sancerre, which, according to local sources, produced good quality and quantity of Sauvingnon Blanc.


Cher Valley also reported positive news. Thesée winemaker Vincent Ricard told one local wine blogger the 2014 vintage produced “the most beautiful grapes I can remember.” 


Ricard, along with other winemakers in Loire, saw lower harvest numbers than they would have liked. 


English-language French newspaper The Connexion reported this summer that numbers were estimated to hit 45.4 million hectoliters, which is higher than the past two years’ harvests.

“After two years of excessively low harvests, we’re getting back to normal,” FranceAgriMer’s Jerome Despey told The Connexion.


The 2013 Loire harvest was a veritable nightmare for Vouvray and Montlouis, in particular, according to Master of Wine Jancis Robinson’s report on the villainous vintage. 


“An annus horribilis for the producers of Vouvray and Montlouis whose crops were almost entirely wiped out by a June hailstorm,” she reported.


As is often the case with the Loire, bad weather in some areas was counteracted by good weather in other areas. 


“Elsewhere a sound vintage with good acidity,” Robinson wrote.


Les Vins du Centre Loire echoed Robinson’s sentiments about the Jekyll-and-Hyde harvest, saying, “”A long, drawn out growing season; harvest dates later than we have seen for 20 years or more … the 2013 vintage is definitely playing a waiting game; but in the end, it is likely to impress us all.


The 2012 Loire harvest faced many challenges as well. Yields were about half the average, Robinson said.


Despite the low yields of 2012, the vintage rated well, with one ratings site posting scores of 90+ for the region’s reds and whites.


The Loire Valley region is home to more than 65,000 hectares of vineyards with 61 appellations, according to the region’s press kit. The Loire is France’s leading producer of white wine, the kit said.


Source: Snooth – Articles

Open Wide! Wine Mouth Spray Draws Chuckles, Cheers

It’s not exactly a breath freshener.


This past week Lithuania-based advertiser McCann Vilnius launched a line of wine called “Bouche bée” –  French for “wide mouth”. The wine comes in tiny spray bottles more popularly used for breath freshening products.


“The best mouth freshener of all time is here,” McCann Vilnius’ Facebook page stated in a Nov. 20 status update.


The spray bottle itself is black with a black label which includes the name of the product. The bottle is housed in a box highlighted by brightly colored flowers, the product’s name and the translation, “Wide mouth.”


According to one food and wine industry source, the concept was developed for the company’s yearly beaujolais nouveau event.


Reaction to the release of the product has been a mix of tongue-in-cheek one liners as well as praise for the cleverly designed wine dispenser.


“Treat yourself to a quick spray whenever you’d like, while the discreet packaging wont’ make anyone the wiser,” food website Food Diggity said about the new product. “That is, until your teeth turn purple from over-spraying.”


Design website Design Taxi tagged the novelty an “ingenious” offering “if you feel like indulging in a quick shot of booze during a slow day at the office.”

McCann Vilnius offered their own take on the product via a self-promotional piece released through industry website Packaging of the World.


In the release, the ad company employs the same tongue-in-cheek tone found across several news outlets which reported the company’s novelty.


“It shouldn’t come as a surprise that advertising people love drinking (or as we call it – tasting). Sadly, it’s highly NSFW (not safe for work,” the release stated.


The company goes on to say that the floral design employed on the bottles is a nod to the wine’s bouquet, while at the same time doubling as an innocuous container for wine.


“It’s not only the way to hide your alcohol conveniently, but also helps to rediscover the best part of beaujolais wine – its distinctive smell reminds you of freshly picked flowers,” McCann Vilnius said in their piece.


The spray bottles are the latest packaging release in a line of uniquely designed beaujolais nouveau containers. Past releases have include paint cans and “blood bags”.


“Every year McCann Vilnius remakes packaging for (the wine) as a way to tell that, like a young wine, our mind and ideas are always fresh and constantly refreshing,” the company said.


Hat Tip To: Snooth – Articles

Savennières, A Place of Soap…and of Wine

Savennières is the French derivation of Latin’s “vicus saponaris”, which means place of the soap. It almost sounds like it should be the birthplace of the trendy bath suds retailer Sabon, but its roots – rather literally – have much older grounding. This tiny appellation’s name stems from the soapwort flowers that bloom around the same time the grapes do. Oddly, it might seem, the grape that flowers here is not particularly perfumed.

That grape is Chenin Blanc. This noble variety is the region’s most distinguished – and only – grape variety today. However, it didn’t arrive in the valley until 1496. So, perhaps what used to bloom in spring with the soapwort was more charasmatically aromatic. After all, there was certainly wine in the Loire well before the Middle Ages. The remains of wine clinging to clay pot shards suggest that wine production began here in the second or third century BCE. 
Today Chenin Blanc is not so loved in France. There are only 9,000 hectares (ha), of which 5,000 ha are found in the Loire. By comparison, South Africa has 18,000 ha. The grape knows about being abandoned. Part of the Messile grape family, its father is known to be Traminer, aka Savagnin. However, its mother remains unknown. 


Perhaps this rough road set it up to thrive well on its own. In Savennières, it gives many different expressions on a chaotic palette of varied soils where two tectonic plates, the Massif Amorican and the Bassin Parisien, meet.


After World War II, many of the producers set themselves up to make high volume wines. That is what the Parisien cafés were demanding: fresh, easy and cheap. However, on the poor soils, that didn’t work out so well.


Savennières defied the current trend, came up through the ranks and received its AOC stripes in 1952. The appellation lives according to very strict standards. Its maximum yield is especially low and its minimum alcohol is quite high. By forcing the vines to make more concentrated expressions of Chenin Blanc, these producers naturally make more age-worthy wines. True tenders of the vine, today 85% of 36 growers farm organically or biodynamically.


One change since the dawn of the appellation 62 years ago is that since 1996, the wines no longer have to be vinified within the AOC boundaries. This has opened the window for producers across the river in Layon to cross the river and make Savennières as well.


We don’t see a lot of these wines in the US, nor do many export markets. The sales from the cellar door are high. And, not only do these producers sell their famous Savennières, many sell vin de table. There has never been a négociant culture here, so winemakers even at the very top end have also made vin en vrac (fill-your-own jug wine), in order to cater to every last possible consumer. But, if you are determined to get your hands on a few bottles, here are sublime reference points worth seeing out.


Patrick Baudoin Bellevue 2011



Credit: Snooth – Articles

Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 23, 2014

box_o_wine.jpgHello, and welcome to my periodic dig through the samples pile. I’m pleased to bring you the latest installment of Vinography Unboxed, where I highlight some of the better bottles that have crossed my doorstep recently.

This week included a major accomplishment for me: I have officially unboxed and sorted every wine sample in my basement. That’s only happened about twice in the last 5 years. There are usually piles of unopened boxes lying around. I’m sure there will be again soon. But on to the wine.

I’m thrilled to have tasted through a group of wines from a blogger-turned-winemaker this week. Ed Thralls ran a blog for some time before giving up his tech job and moving to California to learn to make wine. His Thralls Family Cellars wines are fantastic and I highly recommend them.

I also got a couple of heavy hitters from Priorat this week, including the famous Vall Lach, which didn’t disappoint.

Finally look for a very interesting and competent Spatburgunder (read: Pinot Noir) from Germany, and a pretty decent Australian Cabernet for under $20 as well.

All these and more below!

2012 Thralls Family Cellars Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cranberries, raspberries and crushed green herbs. In the mouth, wonderfully silky flavors of raspberry and cranberry have a juicy brightness to them thanks to excellent acidity. A nice peeled willow bark bitterness dances in the finish, along with08_vall_lach.jpg raspberry leaf and a touch of forest floor. Fine, nearly imperceptible tannins and a nice finish.13.8% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost $ . click to buy.

2012 Thralls Family Cellars “Roma’s Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry and raspberry leaf. In the mouth, beautifully bright and juicy flavors of raspberry and crushed herbs have a faint dusting of tannins and a nice darker earth note underneath them. Lithe and beautiful. Not to mention, delicious. 13.5% alchol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost $ . click to buy.

2012 Thralls Family Cellars Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, California
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bright cranberry and pomogranate fruit. In the mouth, wonderfully floral cherry and pomogranate fruit has an incredible juiciness thanks to fantastic acidity. An aromatic sweetness suffuses the wine. Quite delicious. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost $ . click to buy.

2012 Thralls Family Cellars “Bucher Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California
Light to medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of dried flowers and candied raspberries. In the mouth gorgeous bright raspberry and dried floral notes are dusted with very faint tannins and bursting with juicy acidity. A faint herbal note creeps into the moderate finish. An excellent and distinctive wine. 14% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost $ . click to buy.

2012 Celler Vall Llach “Porrera Vi de Vila” Red Blend, Priorat, Spain
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of bright cherry and cola. In the mouth, sweet cherry cola flavors mix with chocolate and a hint of rasberries. Fantastic acidity makes the w ine quite juicy and faint powdery tannins add structure and muscle to the bright fruit. A touch sweet, but hard not to love. A blend of 70% Carignan and 30% Grenache. 15.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost $60. click to buy.

2008 Celler Vall Llach Red Blend, Priorat, Spain
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bloomy rind soft cheese, sour cherries, and cedar. In the mouth, rich cherry, cedar, and cola flavors mix with tobacco and hints of oak. Rich, leathery tannins take on a slightly earthy quality in the finish. 15% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost $85. click to buy.

2010 Taken Wine Company “Taken” Red Blend, Napa Valley, California
Very dark garnet in color, this wine smells of cherry and vanilla. In the mouth, cherry and tobacco, and vanilla flavors are wrapped in a powdery sheaf of tannins that are slightly drying on the tongue. Good purity of fruit and bright juicy acidity. Nice finish. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost $30. click to buy.

2010 Bernhard Huber “Bienenberg Grosses Gewachs” Spatburgunder, Baden, Germany
Medium garnet in the glass, this wine smells of smoked meats, raspberries, and woodsmoke. In the mouth, juicy raspberry and smoked meat flavors mix with herbs and the sweet caramel toastiness of new oak. Good acidity and length. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost $80. click to buy.

2011 Macchia Wines “Mischevious” Zinfandel, Lodi, Central Valley, California
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of blackberry jam and cherry fruit. In the mouth mellow and juicy blackberry and raspberry fruit mixes with a light cocoa flavor. Not particularly complicated, but pleasureable. 15.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost $22. click to buy.

2012 Robert Oatley Cabernet Sauvignon, Margaret River, Western Australia
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherries, green bell pepper, and tobacco. In the mouth cherry, mint, chocolate, and a bit of dark earth flavors mix nicely under a blanket of fleecy tannins. Good acidity and moderate finish. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost $15. click to buy.

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Via: Vinography: A Wine Blog

Oh, Virginia! International Wine Writers Visit State’s Wineries

Old Dominion is getting renewed interest in its growing network of vineyards.


Earlier this month, the Circle of Wine Writers, a well-known international group of wine writers, journalists, photographers and experts visited Virginia’s Nelson County to tour the region’s wineries four year’s after the groups visit to the area in 2010. 


According to Nelson County news outlets, a dozen members of the Circle of Wine Writers stopped in Nelson County as part of a multi-region tour of the state.


The experts toured the state from Nov. 2 to Nov. 9, according to local sources, and stayed in the Nelson County area for three days.


“We’re very proud to have been chosen,” Nelson County Tourism & Economic Development Office Director Maureen Kelley told Blue Ridge Life Magazine about the visit. “The is the top of the Virginia Circle of Wine Writers along with international wine writers from overseas.”


The publication noted that the Circle of Wine Writers visited Nelson County’s Veritas Winery. The winery is, according to the region’s Nelson 151 association, one of seven wineries in the area. 

Veritas’ General Manager George Hodson told the Nelson County Times the wine writers’ second visit was an important event in the region’s timeline.


“Their opinions matter, so having them talk about the wineries in Nelson County increases the likelihood that wine travelers will come here to Nelson,” Hodson said in an interview with the Times.


In the Circle of Wine Writer’s article about their 2010 visit, the association said the Virginia wine scene was off to a great start.


“The quality of Virginia wines compares well with that in most other wine producing areas in the world,” the writers concluded in their story. “The Virginian wine industry is still in its infancy and on a learning curve – it didn’t take long to suss out the special qualities the Virginian soil can give to Viognier and Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot and Gros Manseng may find their way into the hearts of man to a great extent than in their original provenance.”


The article went on to say the trip was enlightening for the Circle’s members.


The trip was “superbly” put together, the article said, and the state’s improvement in the past 220 years was rapid.


“I am sure that if we are invited again in just a few years time we will experience an even greater geometrical progression,” the article said.


The state is home to seven American Viticulture Areas. According to the Wines and Vines’ U.S. Winery Database, Virginia is fifth on the list of states with the most wineries in the country with 248.


Original: Snooth – Articles

Putting a Cork in Your Thanksgiving Wine Anxiety

bigstock-Addiction-3699142.jpgJudging from media coverage alone, no other holiday in America instills as much wine anxiety as does Thanksgiving. From bloggers to television hosts to nearly every newspaper wine column in the country, wine advice pours forth to salve the worried minds of the wine inclined

“A Guide to the Best Wines For Thanksgiving.”

“Top Thanksgiving Bottles.”

“What Wines to Serve for Thanksgiving Dinner.”

“Which Wine’s a Winner for Thanksgiving?”

The advice is well meaning, and the need very real. Everyone seems to want help figuring out what to drink, and serve, with America’s most important meal.

My words here serve the same purpose, but with different means. You’re going to get different advice from me than most of the other oeno-pundits. If you’re worried about what wine to serve your friends, family, and guests on Thanksgiving, I’m here to tell you that wine should be the last thing of concern. Because the honest-to-goodness truth about wine choices for Thanksgiving is about as boring as overcooked white poultry.

It doesn’t really matter what wine you serve with Thanksgiving.

The idea that you should be selecting certain particular wines for this meal of infinite flavors arises from the same inane suppositions that give rise to the so called “rules” of food and wine pairing, which are all utter bunk.

In my opinion these well-intentioned but completely misguided principles have done more harm to the average wine drinker’s appreciation for wine than any other element of the wine world. Countless earnest consumers, eager to experience their own little wine and food epiphanies, dutifully pair Chardonnay with chicken and Pinot Noir with pork often to their utter disappointment, if not mere ambivalence.

Far too many factors are at play for rules to make any sense when matching food and wine, not the least of which involve the drinker’s individual preferences, which no such rule can ever really reflect.

If pairing food and wine in everyday meals nearly always proves fraught with anticlimax, how could Thanksgiving, a meal — nay, a culinary event — of such organoleptic and emotional complexity possibly lend itself to a few simple wine suggestions that are bound to satisfy, as so many pundits seem wont to offer?

Everything about Thanksgiving conspires towards chaos. As if a non-professional cook making a meal comprised of fifteen or more dishes weren’t hard enough, these culinary efforts are usually prosecuted under the intense scrutiny of one’s relatives, before, during, and after.

Thankfully, we have alcohol to help with all of this. Wine is a balm for frayed nerves and familial friction, and lucky for all of us, Riesling does just as good a job as Cabernet in these situations.

It does not matter what wine you drink, as long as you are drinking wine.

However much I may dismiss any suggestion of pairing wine with your single plate of twelve different foods that range from salty to sweet to savory, I cannot ignore the fact that you may indeed need to pair your wine with your people.

Much more important than finding a bottle capable of enhancing Aunt Tillie’s stuffing recipe, you may certainly need to find a bottle that keeps Uncle Jimmy from complaining about your wine offering.

Which brings us to the only bit of wine advice that I think is worth a damn on Thanksgiving, and therefore the only bit of advice I am ever likely to dispense to anyone who cares to listen.

Serve a bunch of different wines for people to choose from. Open them all, and let people enjoy them. Which wines? It really doesn’t matter. Most Thanksgiving meals have something that matches nearly every wine on the planet, and practically none of them are going to make for a magical pairing with the traditional bird anyway.

If you know someone coming has a particular preference, by all means, make sure there’s a bottle or two to make them happy. And that goes for you, too. Make sure there’s a bottle of something that you’ll enjoy mixed in there.

Because at the end of the day, that’s what this holiday is all about: enjoying food and wine with friends, while we all give thanks that we’re still on this side of the grass. What’s in the glass matters infinitely less than with whom we share it.

So go forth! Cook, drink, eat, and drink some more. Focus on what’s important this holiday season, not the wine. We all have enough things to worry about.

Photo of anxious woman and man drinking courtesy of Bigstock

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Source: Vinography: A Wine Blog