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Columns – Rich Cook

A Judgement of Judgement
Rich Cook
Mar 10, 2020

Where did the idea for "blind" wine competitions come from, and why did it take off? I suspect it has largely to do with a tasting that came to be known as The Judgement of Paris, where in 1976 Stephen Spurrier assembled the best of France and the best of California for a blind tasting. The results put California wine on the international stage, and it's impossible to overstate the importance that single event had on the California wine industry. In addition, it had the effect of emphasizing the idea that tasting wines blind, side by side, is a way to minimize any prejudice that might play in to rating a wine. In the wine world, or more accurately the wine business, this idea can be of great benefit to both producers and consumers.

One Hundred Points?
Rich Cook
Feb 4, 2020

I was struck recently that over my twelve plus years writing about wines that I've only given out four perfect scores to wines, and perhaps more strikingly, that I've given two such scores in the past two months. This got me wondering: What is it that gives me the inclination -- or even the right -- to drop such an 'honor' on a bottle, and why does it happen so infrequently? And beyond that, why should anyone care?

Appellation St. Helena: A Great 'Where' in Your Glass
Rich Cook
Dec 10, 2019

As wine lovers, we have a desire to know more than simple matters of taste. We seek a deeper understanding of exactly how what is in our glass came into being to enhance the experience, to contextualize the aromas and flavors that we sense, and gain some insight as to why we are receiving such pleasure. Aficionados can, to a person, point to a specific bottle that somehow awakened a passion for learning all that can be learned about how THAT got from the ground to the glass - THAT scent, THAT taste, THAT joy. For some, the quest focuses on the 'where' of the equation. Where in the world did this come from, and what about 'the where' helps to explain the why, the how and the who of the glass in question?

Postcard from 'Bollicine di Montagna': TrentoDOC Takes Its Place on the World Stage
Rich Cook
Oct 8, 2019

Although TrentoDOC (short for Trento Denomiazione di Origine Controllata - thanks for that, marketeers!) has been around since 1993, its declaration was made possible much further back, when Giulio Ferrari sourced fruit in the Dolomite foothills around Trento back in 1902, with the intent of making a sparkling wine that would rival those he found in Epernay. Today that hope is a reality, with the DOC counting 53 producers among its ranks and soon to add two more. TrentoDOC is a sub appellation in the northwest portion of the larger Trentino region, focused specifically on 'Metodo Classico' sparkling wine made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier, with most producers focusing on Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Who Should You Trust for Wine Buying Advice?
Rich Cook
Aug 6, 2019

No doubt you've been exposed to myriad opinions about what makes for the most trustworthy source for good information about a particular bottle of wine. Is it the solo critic, providing a tasting note and perhaps a score of one type or another? Is it a shelf talker perched below a bottle on a shelf, maybe written by the shop's proprietor, or sourced from a popular publication, or even the producer? Is it crowd-sourcing of opinions from purchasers of that particular bottle? Is it a social media post by a friend that extols the virtues of the evening's selection? Is it a medal from one of any number of judging events held annually around the world?