Jay McInerney

Remembering A Cornerstone Of My Wine Education

by Tim Elliott on February 13, 2011

Alexis Lichine's Guide to the Wines and Vineyards of FranceI usually don’t have the time to read the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal until Sunday along with the morning paper. And usually I just grab the “Off Duty” section where the food and wine coverage appears. This weekend, the wine column is by Jay McInerney who profiles wine writer and salesmen Alexis Lichine. I hadn’t thought about Mr. Lichine for many years before reading this piece but by the end I realized how much this writer had formed my early wine education.

Alexis Lichine’s Guide to the Wines and Vineyards of France was one of the first wine books I ever read back in 1981. Given my college student economics at the time, I checked it out from the library along with his Encyclopedia of Wines and Spirits and began reading. Since I was going to school in Northern California, I had ready access to local wines but the wines of the Old World, particularly Bordeaux, caught my attention from Lichine’s books. And I was on my way to becoming the wine geek I am today.

Alexis Lichine was quite a character but his legacy is still very much with us today. He was instrumental in convincing California wineries to stop using generic names such as “Chablis” and “Burgundy” for their wines, in favor of varietal names. And it was good for business as Wente Brothers changed their “Graves” to Sauvignon Blanc and saw increased sales. Lichine is also responsible for reintroducing fine wine from Europe to the U.S. after both Prohibition and World War II.

McInerney ends the article with a Lichine quote that has been my personal guidepost for a long time:

“Buy a corkscrew, and use it.”

via Wall Street Journal

A Return To My Roots at ZAP

by Tim Elliott on January 14, 2011

ZAP 2011 FestivalIt’s been four years since I’ve attended the Zinfandel Advocates and Producers (ZAP) Grand Tasting in San Francisco. But this year I will be making the pilgrimage once again due to the fortuitous timing of a speaking engagement and business trip. ZAP is not only a place to taste an amazing cross section of wines made from the grape but also somewhat of an endurance test of the palate. But since Zinfandel was the first variety that truly spoke to me, I’ve developed somewhat of a tolerance for it’s harshness even if I taste 70 or 80 over the course of the day.

I was reminded of how close to the ZAP tasting we are from Jay McInerney’s column in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal. He highlights the tasting but also does a short history of Zinfandel in California that took me back to my early days learning about wine. McInerney tells the stories of Paul Draper from Ridge and Joel Peterson of Ravenswood before mentioning more recent notable producers of Zinfandel such as Carlisle and Turley Cellars. At the end he even reviews some wines with one of the best descriptions of Zin I have yet seen in print, “Smells like a blackberry fight.”

So if you will be attending ZAP, hit me up on Twitter and we might be able to compare notes. I’ll also be recording some interviews and scribbling tasting notes into my journal so you can expect some coverage here. For more information on ZAP 2011, check out their website.

via Wall Street Journal