Gunz & G-vertz

Come armed, with checkbooks

I guess I let myself feel complacent, thinking that after the last election, when Obama and the Dems turned back the wingnuts, and D’Faz thrashed Tea-Partier Art Robinson, I could maybe relax a little, stop lathering about politics and concentrate on the pleasures of life: I’d think and write about my beamish grandkids, our bursting garden and, of course, bounties in wine. Continue reading 

April’s Cruelties

Vintners lose sleep in this unpredictable month

Every year, Oregon’s April just hammers me. I’ll toddle briskly through winter’s months, savoring the rains, blissfully indulging an interior life, inside our house and inside my own skull. I revel in the rains, regard them as profound blessings, in their various forms, from the feathermist, so light it won’t dimple the meniscus on a pond but will leave a walker soaked, to the guttergusher that floods fields and leaps river banks. I fret when, as recently, we enter a dry spell. Continue reading 

Feeling Crotchety?

As usual, we begin this month’s wine column with a digression, about thinking and the emergence of taste, eventually returning to wine: In classes I taught at LCC, we had a rule: no use of cell phones during class (exceptions for possible emergencies). One morning, I was filling the whiteboard with notes and noticed a student in the back row looking down at his cupped hands. My students might think I’m a bit dim about their current stratagems but I knew what was going on. “Kyle,” I said, “are you on your cell?” Continue reading 

Splendor in the Glass

Memorial Day has passed, so it’s OK to drink white. But, “The first duty of a wine is to be red.” That quip has been attributed to various wags, most enduringly to Alec Waugh, English novelist, who added, “the second is to be a Burgundy,” by which he meant pinot noir (not an unreasonable amendment, according to pinotphiles). Wine scholars have argued that Waugh was merely repeating an eno-adage that originated in the Middle Ages, or maybe with the antique Greeks. Whatever the actual source, a lot of bad attitudes about white wine have ensued. Continue reading 

Mysterious Pinot

Last weekend, Kat and I attended the annual salmon bake at the International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) in McMinnville, urban heart of the north Willamette Valley wine country. This remarkable annual event (2013 marked the 27th version) in wine culture draws participants from nearly all the regions of the world where pinot noir is cultivated and vinified —Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Canada (!), Germany, California and, of course, France (Burgundy) and Oregon. Continue reading 

Transits in Wine

September in western Oregon can be dazzling. It’s a transitional month, pregnant with promises but already yielding the year’s harvest, the bounties of farms, fields and vineyards. This month usually finds Oregon’s vintners trembling on the brink: The vintage can make or break over the next few weeks. Grape clusters hang on the vines, fruit daily richer in color, sugars rising, flavors changing almost hourly. Continue reading 

Nature’s Playbook

For the people who live on the ground, in the real world, being stuck between House Republicans and these heavy rains is rather like being jammed between a bunch of rock-heads and a really soggy place. The result, of course, is a lot of hurt. Makes it tough to write/think about wine. Continue reading 

Share the Feast

Give thanks. Go ahead and feast, share a grand meal with friends and family. Sure, it’s not easy to feel celebratory in these times. Tea Party Republicans did all they could to undermine our confidence, to extol Ayn Rand’s absurd “virtue of selfishness” and to profane the very concept of communion. But this season and the impulses behind it are ancient: We celebrate the harvest. We come together as a community of families to share our bounty, even if we face a bleak winter. Continue reading