Happy New Year!


And so the new year begins as the old one ended, with an administration on the ropes, and its supporters fighting desperately to ward off the inevitable.

The revelation over the weekend that it was the Australians that prompted the FBI to launch their investigation into the Trump campaign brings the probe ever closer to Trump himself. It’s not a smoking gun, but the walls are closing in. What would constitute a smoking gun? Short of an admission, it would likely be direct evidence that there was a deal between the campaign and the Russian government: the Russians reveal the hacked Democratic emails, in exchange for which a Trump administration, if elected, would drop sanctions.

Mueller will probe on. Nothing will stop him. If Trump fires him—which he may well—the investigation will continue under someone else’s leadership. I’m not the least concerned that Trump can stop it. Even if the vile Republican Congress won’t stand up to his obstruction of justice, the American people will.

Nor will anything stop Trump’s ardent Republican henchmen. It is necessary for them to protect him, not only to protect their agenda (demolishing Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and further lowering taxes on the rich), but for psychological reasons: “In for a dime, in for a dollar” goes the old saying. Republicans have so much psychological energy invested in their president that, if they lose him, it will be like losing a piece of their minds. Mama grizzlies defend their cubs to the death. So it will be with Republicans.

It’s amusing to see them rachet up the lies and rationalizations, as the evidence against their president piles up, and his poll numbers plummet. I’m not even referring to Breitbart, whose pathology is shockingly transparent. The Wall Street Journal’s op-ed pages continue to fascinate me, for they are composed by presumably bright people who surely know better than the drivel they write. From this weekend’s edition alone, here’s the estimable Peggy Noonan, ranting about “lies…at the heart” of the television series, “The Crown,” and the new movie, “The Post.” When did Noonan, a political columnist, turn into a movie reviewer? When she decided to add to the distractions her Republican colleagues churn out to divert attention away from the biggest liar of all, her president.

Here too is the aging frat boy, Holman W. Jenkins Jr., screaming about “Trump-Russia Hysteria,” as though the revelations—the ones we already know about—are nothing more than “fictional citations.” Really? One might point out to him that there’s nothing “fictional” about four indictments and an investigation that’s charging right into the Oval Office, but there’s no evidence that Holman W. Jenkins Jr. cares about anything anymore, except circling the wagons alongside Peggy Noonan.

We can expect more of the same from the Journal today, tomorrow and the next day. The greater the risks Muller poses to Trump, the more vituperative and less coherent his defenders become. The day that evidence for the Trump-Russia deal I referenced becomes overwhelming, I have no doubt the Wall Street Journal will editorialize along these lines:

“Mr. Mueller may claim that the emails purporting to show that Mr. Kushner promised the Russians that Mr. Trump would ‘address the sanctions as you wish’ prove direct collusion between his father-in-law and Mr. Putin. But we all can agree that Mr. Mueller’s credibility has been severely undermined, if not entirely destroyed, by his evident pro-Democrat partisanship. Besides, how do we know that the emails were not crafted by the F.B.I. itself, or rogue, pro-Democrat elements within it? There surely is enough evidence that the Special Counsel is willing and able to twist facts, and perhaps even invent them, in his mad, irrational and possibly criminal pursuit of a President against whom he nurses a personal grudge.”

And so on and so forth. Out from the Republican pipe will spout this sewage, directly into the brains of the 32% of Americans who will celebrate Trump despite the most compelling evidence of his crimes. It will be ugly. It will make us disconsolate and angry. It will be further embarrassment for America in the world’s eyes. That is what 2018 promises to bring, but there is a silver lining around this dark cloud: this year also should bring about the demise of Trump and the downfall of his klepto family. Then we’ll set to work on Pence, and have an election in November that will let us, at long last, put an end to our national nightmare.

I wish you a happy, healthy 2018! Be proud that you are a member of The Resistance.

My Seattle – Washington Wine Blog for Decanter Magazine

Press Release
December 31, 2017

Owen Bargreen of Washington Wine Blog mentions Woodinville Wine Country in Decanter Magazine’s January 2018 along with the URL and featured on the “My Seattle” map.  The last paragraph mentions Woodinville, along with Long Shadows, DeLille Cellars, Chateau Set Michelle, Fidelitas, WT Vintners and Mark Ryan.



The post My Seattle – Washington Wine Blog for Decanter Magazine appeared first on Woodinville Wine Country.

Sunday Special: Why the Republican Party is on the verge of extinction


There was one great Republican president in the 20th century, and no, it wasn’t Ronald Reagan. It was a man who said, “I do not dislike, but I certainly have no especial respect or admiration for and no trust in, the typical big monied men of my country.”

He said those words in his first term, around 1903, a time when progressive ideas were seizing hold of the country due to the excesses of greedy tycoons. The progressive movement had started in the agricultural Midwest and Upper Mississippi Valley, as farmers saw bankers rip them off and seize their land; and then it spread to urban areas, where industrial workers got poorer and sicker as the tycoons racked up immense quantities of money, and the gap between the average American and a nabob like John D. Rockefeller grew into an unbridgeable, and un-American, chasm.

That sounds a lot like the situation today, when Democrats rail against a vastly unequal distribution of wealth and the overlordship of Wall Street banks and dark-money billionaires like the Koch Brothers. But the president who spoke the words I quoted above was not a Democrat.

Theodore Roosevelt was no rabble-rouser. He was conservative in his bones, having been born to an old New York family of landed gentry and wealth. T.R. was an imperialist, with a muscular foreign policy that did not hesitate to use gunboat diplomacy to further America’s interests. And yet he was the first progressive president; he laid the groundwork for the environmental movement, for Hamiltonian big, regulatory national government (as opposed to Jeffersonian small government), for anti-monopolistic laws, rigidly enforced by federal agencies, notably in his trust-busting crusades against Big Railroads, Big Oil and Big Steel. T.R. provided the framework for his fifth cousin, the Democrat, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to push through the New Deal, which probably saved America from Communist revolution.

How was it that T.R.—Republican to the core—believed in things that sound so Democratic? Because he was raised with a sense of noblesse obige, which required him, as president, to act on behalf of those with far less than he had, not in cahoots with the one percent.

The Republican Party started as the party of Abraham Lincoln; it stood for strong central government, against slavery, and for business, which it understood properly was good for America. What the Republican Party never allowed room for (and neither did the Democratic Party) was the intrusion of religious zealots in shaping its values and positions—just as the founding fathers would have wanted. It’s not that Republicans weren’t religious: they were (or professed to be), but the respect for the separation of church and state that is enshrined in our Constitution has guided every political party since the nation’s founding.

Until recently.

There is a single cause why the Republican Party has ceased to represent all Americans, and that is its embrace of radical, rightwing Christianity. When you think of the influence that Donald Trump has allowed individuals and organizations such as Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Steve Scheffler, Ralph Reed, the owners of Hobby Lobby, the Catholic Information Center, Mike Pence, Travis Korson, Rev. Richard Lee, Betsy DeVos and others to have on shaping policy, it’s not only frightening, but an insult to T.R., whose contempt for religious extremists was as palpable as it was for “monied men.” He believed in “muscular Christianity,” a Y.M.C.A.-style approach that emphasized physical fitness and moral behavior, but the craziness of holy rollers and revivalists offended his intelligence.

T.R. understood the importance of America’s secular tradition. He also knew—as the current occupant of the White House does not—that unrestrained capitalism is a disaster: immoral, unfair and dangerous. His criticism of “big monied men” was all the more telling because he’d grown up in their midst.

All of these traditions began to be breached in the 1970s and 1980s by Republicans, as the religious right infiltrated the GOP. The breach deepened in the 1990s and 2000s, until today, the Republican Party is little more than a wholly-owned subsidiary of theocrats who believe that the Second Coming is just around the corner and the Rapture will soon lift believing Christians to Heaven, while the rest of us will be left to burn in a (presumably Democratic) hell.

Republicans, in other words, have lost their minds. T.R. is spinning in his grave. He would not be a Republican if he were still alive. Even a born-again but sane Christian Republican like George W. Bush understands the horrors of Donald Trump and the destruction he and his Christian cohorts have inflicted on the Republican Party and upon the nation.

History is an ongoing story, always in danger of being forgotten (pace Santayana), particularly in days like ours when Christians, from the president on down, claim that history is fiction, that science is fake, that only the bible is true. And yet, nations cannot escape their own history. This country made a terrible, tragic mistake when it elected Donald Trump. There is no conceivable way history will regard his advent as anything other than the most massive political blunder America ever made. Fortunately, the progressive light that Teddy Roosevelt ignited for the Republican Party may be dim, but it is not extinguished; it lives on, in fact, in the Democratic Party. There may still be room for a Republican Party that is a proud descendant of the party of T.R., but there is no room for a Republican Party that cannot distinguish between itself and a fundamentalist church. That is a house divided against itself; it cannot stand.

Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 24, 2017

Hello, 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 marks another sparkling edition of my samples tasting just in time for your New Years's shopping!

Let's start this week with the most unusual bottle in the lineup which is a sparkling Pinot Blanc from the North Fork of Long Island that was held for a long time before release. Bright and airy, it's a lovely rendition of the Pinot Blanc grape and at $23, it's a steal.

Also a bit unusual, not in its grape or source, but in its flavor, is the latest sparkling wine from Rollin Michael Soles, a pioneer of sparkling winemaking in Oregon. This, from his new project, is quite distinct in character, and tasty in its own savory way.

Before we move on to the Champagne proper, let's not overlook the Adami single vineyard Prosecco from Col Credas which is grown on staggeringly steep vineyards in the Prosecco region. It's got much more personality than most Proseccos.

Let's start our Champagne focus with Franck Bonville, a producer from the town of Avize in the Cote de Blancs region of Champagne. Their prestige Blanc de Blancs of Chardonnay has a bright floral quality that is very compelling, and at only $44 is on the lower end of what you'll spend for a Grand Cru Champagne.

The Chassanay d'Arce bottling comes from the main cooperative winery in the Aube region of Champagne, where they buy grapes from all the local producers to make some pretty decent quality stuff. This "Confidence" bottling is among their top non-vintage wines.

Vinography Unboxed: Week of December 24, 2017Finally there are a couple of wines in here from the tiny producer Remy Massin, also from the Aube region. This family run outfit, recently taken over by the younger generation is making very high quality wines.

All these and more below. Enjoy.

2012 Domaine Carneros "Brut" Champagne Blend, Carneros, Sonoma, California
Pale gold in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of apples, wet felt, and sea air. In the mouth, a coarse mousse delivers flavors of apple, pear, and bitter citrus across the palate, leaving a woody apple skin flavor in the finish. 12% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $27. click to buy.

2011 Lieb Cellars "Reserve Blanc de Blancs" Pinot Blanc, North Fork of Long Island, New York
Light gold in the glass with medium bubbles, this wine smells of ripe and baked apples. In the mouth, a soft mousse delivers notes of yeasty, toasty bread that give way to apple and citrus pith brightness and an airy finish. Great acidity and nice delicacy. 13.2% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $23. click to buy.

2013 Roco Winery "Rollin Michael Soles Brut" Champagne Blend, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Light blonde in the glass with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of toasted sesame and pickled seaweed. In the mouth, a soft mousse rolls across the palate tasting of wet leaves, apples, sarsaparilla, and a hint of citrus pith. Unusual. Good acidity. A blend of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay. 12.5% alcohol. 200 cases produced. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $53. click to buy.

2014 Adami "Col Credas" Glera, Valdobbiadene, Prosecco, Veneto, Italy
Pale gold in the glass with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of butterscotch candy and white flowers. In the mouth, a velvety, voluminous mousse delivers a unique combination of butterscotch, pear, and vanilla into a long finish scented with a touch of camphor. Good acidity. 11% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $23. click to buy.

NV Franck Bonville "Prestige" Blanc de Blancs, Avize Grand Cru, Champagne, France
Pale gold in the glass with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of honeysuckle and pears. In the mouth, bright apple and pear flavors have a nice nutty biscuit quality. Nice and balanced, with equal parts of fruit and biscuity quality. A blend of at least two vintages.12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $44. click to buy.

NV Gardet "Brut Tradition" Champagne Blend, Champagne, France
Pale gold in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of apples and pears with a hint of vanilla. In the mouth a soft mousse delivers bright apple and pear flavors with a nice rounded quality to them and nice bright acidity and length with a slightly sweet finish. 45% Pinot Noir, 45% Pinot Meunier, 10% Chardonnay. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $39 click to buy.

NV Chassanay d'Arce "Confidences" Blanc de Noirs, Champagne, France
Light blonde in color with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of freshly baked bread with honey, marzipan, and cold cream. In the mouth, flavors of honeysuckle, sea air, wet stones, and pink grapefruit have a nice saltine cracker savoriness to them. A lightly bitter chalkiness lingers in the finish. Made from 50+ year-old vines. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $82 click to buy.

NV Remy Massin "Brut Tradition" Champagne Blend, Champagne, France
Pale gold in the glass with medium fine bubbles, this wine smells of apples, pears, and wet stones. In the mouth, bright apple and asian pear flavors have a nice bright crispness to them. Round and bright. Juicy. 12.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $55. click to buy.

NV Remy Massin "Brut Reserve" Champagne Blend, Champagne, France
Pale blonde in the glass with fine bubbles, this wine smells of asian pear, white flowers, and green apples. In the mouth, green apple crispness mixes with asian pear, wet stones and pink grapefruit citrus crispness. Juicy and bright and very clean. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay. Score: between 9 and 9.5. Cost: $62. click to buy.

NV Pol Roger "Brut Reserve" Champagne Blend, Champagne, France
Pale greenish gold in color with very fine bubbles, this wine smells of bright apples and pears with a hint of white peaches. In the mouth, flavors of white peaches, apples, and pears take on a citrus peel brightness in the finish mixed with green apples. Soft mousse. Contains one third each of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. Ages for 4 years in bottle before release. 12.5% alcohol. Score: around 9. Cost: $40. click to buy.

Vinography Images: The Wide Sky

The Wide Sky
GIRONDE, FRANCE: Cumulus clouds hang across the wide expanse of sky above the vineyards of Chateau Ausone in Gironde on Bordeaux's Right Bank near Saint-Émilion. Ausone is one of only 4 wines classified as Premier Grand Cru Classé in the Saint-Émilion classification.

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This image is from a series of photographs captured by Andy Katz in the process of shooting his most recent work The Club of Nine, a visual exploration and celebration of Bordeaux's top Chateaux. The book is available for $60 on Andy's web site.

If you are interested in owning an archive quality, limited edition print of this image please contact Andy directly.

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.

Daily Wine News: The Bubbly Edition

In NPR, April Fulton reports on recent studies about the size and sound of bubble size in sparkling wines.

Patrick Comiskey asks L.A. wine professionals about their New Years Eve sparkling wine picks in the Los Angeles Times.

In Wine Enthusiast, Anne Krebiehl MW highlights sparkling wines from around the world.

Will natural wine make it into the mainstream? Punch asks a panel of wine writers, makers, sommeliers, retailers and importers what they think about the future of the natural wine movement.

In the New York Times, Shivani Vora shares how to make the most of a trip to wine country.

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre names the best 12 bargain bottles of the year. The most expensive is $16 a bottle and the cheapest is $8.

Aaron Menenberg profiles six wine professionals that influenced his appreciation and knowledge of wine in 2017: Part 1, and Part 2 on Good Vitis.

In Forbes, Thomas Pellechia considers which wine trends to watch in 2018.

USA Today on how LeBron James learned to love wine. “James said that he didn’t always like wine…while telling a funny story about his daughter saying his expensive wine “tastes like rocks.””