30 August 2010

2007 Indian Wells Merlot

A brief review of a wine that I've felt has been a solid performer over multiple vintages... A while back I chose the 2007 Indian Wells Merlot for an online tasting. $18, 14.5% abv. 80% Merlot, 19% Syrah, 1% Malbec, from the Wahluke Slope of Washington state.

While still a bit young, this has an initial aroma of boysenberry jam. There's a touch of toast there as well, but once the wine breathes and softens, you get elements of green pepper, earth, and it becomes light and mellow. I've always wanted to see how this wine ages, but I've never been able to hold on to one long enough to find out.

The Pacific Northwest is putting out some spectacular wines these days, and the region is justifiably becoming trendy and popular in certain corners. A big producer like Ste. Michelle seems at odds with the small, independent reputation that is associated with the area, but I've always been a fan of their still and sparkling wines.

27 August 2010

The Not So Endless Summer

Visiting a zoo (such as my dear beloved Memphis Zoo) in the summer can be an interesting experience. Even the animals that are accustomed to hot weather prefer to take it easy during the day, and those that prefer colder climes retreat to air conditioned enclosures. For instance, a few years ago I snapped this photo of a female Pongo abelii who decided the best move was to just nap in the clover. As a fellow great ape with red hair, I know how she feels.

In addition to the long, hot, miserable summer we've endured here in the southeastern quarter of the United States, various winebloggers around the country have found themselves wondering, "Where are the comments?" "Is anybody reading?" "Should I admit that I'm dropping ice cubes in my Chenin Blanc?" Summers are always a little dry as folks go on vacation, kids are bugging them all the time, and various responsibilities of life eat away at time. Plus, the heat and humidity can sap the gumption of the best of us. "I've been meaning to comment on your blog, but every time I sit down on the couch with the laptop I zonk out within fifteen minutes. Also, I love wine but right now an ice cold Coors Light is about as much as I can handle."

Over the years I've noticed this summer drought of communication, and it's easy to read some of the lack of enthusiasm from other bloggers. How do you keep it fresh and interesting? How do you maintain readers without resorting to repeats or gimmicks?

I'm thinking that next summer I'm going to devote a day a week to random odds and ends. Maybe some short fiction, maybe some humor, maybe I'll fantasize and design some Chateau Benito wine labels, maybe post a dozen links to my favorite summer songs and explain where I was when I first heard them. There's a lot of debate over the border between writers and bloggers, but to do either well you have to want to convert ideas to text, and care about what you're doing. The joy of this particular format is that you can write about whatever you want. The weakness is that few take that opportunity. Nobody challenges you to step out of your subject area or comfort zone. There's no teacher that assigns you 500 words on the color green or an editor that needs you to review a Swedish death metal concert when you've been covering city council meetings for ten years.

Fear not, this blog isn't going to turn into wistful musings on my time playing catcher for a church league baseball team, and I'm not going to replace wine reviews with funny pictures of cats with amusing captions. I'm examining the idea that these dreary summer months might be better spent recharging the batteries and exploring some experimental territory. I've got a hunch that you'd see some pretty spectacular wine writing in the fall.

25 August 2010

2009 Xavier Flouret Waroo Shiraz

I keep telling folks to seek out wines from Western Australia. Try enough of them and it's like discovering a whole new country--the distance from the big producers of South Australia to the small coastal region of Western Australia is 2000km (1200 miles), about the distance between Los Angeles and Dallas. Or to put it in European terms, it's the distance between the cool northern wine regions of Germany down to the hot islands of Greece.

For instance, yesterday I tried the 2009 Xavier Flouret Waroo Shiraz from Pemberton, Western Australia, enclosed with a convenient screwcap. $18, 14% abv. Blackberry jam, touch of cinnamon, brambles, tea, big firm tannins. It has a long, lingering full-fruit flavor, and would pair well with grilled lamb or goat, but keep it in mind if you make some really intense burgers where you grind up some beef, pork, and venison and top them with a little dry blue cheese and slide them under the broiler just long enough to barely brown the cheese crumbles before placing the whole thing on a toasted brioche roll with some wilted radicchio... Sorry, got off on a food daydream there.

This wine is made under contract by Fonty's Pool Wines in Western Australia. When I saw that name, for some reason I thought it might be some sort of obscure Aussie reference that I might have to explain, which would of course first require me to try and decipher the rules of cricket for the dozenth time, or perhaps try to dig up my old research on wombats. But it turns out that Fonty's Pool is actually a place where you go swimming, built by an Italian immigrant farmer (Archimede "Archie" Fontanini) who dammed up the river and created a fun recreational reservoir in 1925.

Note: This wine was received as a sample.

23 August 2010

2009 Tamari Torrontés

I haven't had one of these in a while... This 2009 Tamari Torrontés is from La Rioja, Argentina. $15, 13.3% abv. Aromas of peach and lemon, and a touch of flowers. Overripe fruit flavors with firm acidity and minerality. Slightly bitter finish. It is completely dry, and I think just a hint of sweetness would balance it out well. Fortunately this is an opportunity to compensate with the food.

I had some grouper, but hadn't made up my mind on how to fix it. The wine had elements of tartness and bitterness, so I decided to add sweet and savory to the fish with a honey-soy glaze. Some black beans, fresh cucumbers, and I had a decent little dinner. And with all the acidity in the wine, there was no need for a little squeeze of fresh lime juice on the fish and beans. I was thinking this would be a good match for various Cuban seafood and poultry dishes.

Tamari means "to do everything with passion" or "be passionate" in the language of the Huarpe, the extinct tribe native to the Mendoza region in Argentina. Well done label, too--arty without being annoying or indecipherable, only two fonts, and the brushstroke "T" is overlaid in a glossy black ink that makes it look wet and freshly applied.

20 August 2010

2008 Torbreck Woodcutter's Shiraz

Quick Note: I've added RSS links at left. The site has always had an RSS feed, but I never prominently linked it.

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A few weeks ago while hanging out with Paul, we had a little wine and cheese. Pictured are Stilton and Stilchester (a Huntsman-style). After dinner, we discovered that his dog Wendy had climbed up and stolen the remaining Stilton, though she left the Stilchester untouched. She may be a little thief, but she has a discriminating palate. The wine is the 2008 Torbreck Woodcutter's Shiraz. $20, 15% abv. Barossa Valley, Australia. It's a textbook standard Aussie Shiraz. Black pepper, black cherry, big fruit, and a little hot right at first. As it breathes, it smooths out somewhat but retains a big fruit presence with medium tannins.

The nickname for this wine comes from the fact that the winemaker, David Powell, spent some time working as a lumberjack in Scotland. This little note brought a smile to my face, because as a child we had a wood stove, and Dad cut his own firewood. When I tell this story, people don't often believe me, but here in Memphis back in the 1980s we had a wood stove. In the late summer/early fall, we'd go out on the weekend and cut wood. Dad would cut down a tree with a chainsaw, cut it up, and my brother and I would help stack the logs in the truck. Back home, the logs would be split and stacked so they could dry and season by the time winter came around. The large woodpile was built with sort of three stacked walls, so hanging up a tarp as a door turned it into a functional clubhouse, albeit one that was slowly dismantled throughout the winter.

In Scouts, there was a good bit of tree cutting, though I think they discourage that these days. We never took down anything big--mostly saplings for use in construction projects or the odd brush clearing that was needed, all using handtools. I was excited over the years to accumulate my own tools via birthdays and Christmases: a single bit axe, a bow saw, and a handy little hatchet. The Troop had a bunch of other tools whose names don't come up much in modern conversation: peaveys, mattocks, splitting mauls. One time I got to help clear about half an acre of scrub using sling blades, which will make you appreciate weedeaters and lawn mowers pretty quickly.

What was really amazing was visiting a logging operation in the Cascade Mountains back in 1989. If you've ever cut down a small tree using an axe, seeing someone cut down a 150 foot tall Douglas Fir with a 7 foot long Husqvarna chainsaw will just about blow your mind.

Note: This wine was received as a sample.

18 August 2010

Averna Liqueurs

Here's a roundup of Italian liqueurs from Averna, a company that's been making spirits on Sicily since the 1860s. In general you'll find non-wine drinks divided into two categories: aperitivi e digestivi, or pre-dinner drinks to whet your appetite and after-dinner drinks to aid digestion. While these can be used in a variety of cocktails or taken with coffee (and I'll cover some of these in the future), for here I'm covering them straight in the digestivo tradition, and indeed I had them after a hearty dinner.

Averna Sambuca
$25, 42% abv.
The classic sweet, licorice-flavored liqueur, made with star anise. I poured a shot of this for the photo and immediately The Roommate freaked out. Some folks are sensitive to anise aromas and flavors, but I love it. Lots of sweetness here, and a hot and spicy mouthfeel.

Averna Sambuca Agrumi
$25, 42% abv.
Similar to the above is a citrus Sambuca, flavored with bitter Sicilian lemons and grapefruit. This is a bit drier and lighter than the straight Sambuca, and I enjoyed the dominant citrus aroma/flavor with the star anise in the background. Also, it's more bitter, and I prefer that style.

Averna Limoni di Sicilia
$25, 27% abv.
The lightest of the four in terms of alcohol, this is flavored with lemon and orange blossoms. Again, it's a sweet liqueur, but this is light and mellow. It's much more restrained than limoncello and has a lovely flavor, like a lemon meringue pie. I can see some incredible dessert potential with this one.

Averna Amaro Siciliano
$25, 32% abv.
The fourth liqueur is the flagship product, an amaro or "bitter" that is dark and rich. It has the lightest and most subtle aroma, with hints of chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, root beer, and flowers. There's just a slight touch of this meaty soy sauce aroma as well. It reminds me a lot of stepping into a shop that sells a bunch of dried flowers, combined with Christmas. It's about as bitter as espresso, and needs to be sipped slowly. Certainly the driest of the four, and my favorite. Also, I think the alcohol level in this one is just right, so that it's not too hot or too light.

However... The high proof of the Sambuca allows you to do a little trick that some folks like. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. IT CAN BE DANGEROUS. Either in a shot glass, a tumbler, or a snifter, you can ignite Sambuca. Here I've got about 2 oz., and once tilted you can get a pretty impressive jet engine effect from the flame. Bear in mind that barware really isn't designed to deal with these kind of temperatures, and the glass might shatter. Also, once the flame is extinguished it might not be completely out. Swirl the glass again and if it catches on fire, you probably don't want to risk pouring it in your mouth.

Tradition suggests putting it out with the palm of your hand, but this is a bad idea, especially if you're enjoying it after a long dinner full of wine and food. Cover the top with a small plate and let all the oxygen burn out, and allow the drink to cool a bit before drinking. The first thing that will happen is you'll get hit with strong fumes from the drink, and once you've recovered, you can give it a careful sip.

Why do this? Well, for one thing it looks awesome when the lights are low, and for another the fire slightly caramelizes the sugars in the liqueur, altering the flavor a bit. It's too hot right now to properly appreciate a warm liqueur, but I'll be giving this another try this winter.

Note: These bottles were received as samples.

16 August 2010

2009 Oberon Sauvignon Blanc

Sometime soon I'm going to publish a mass post of Sauvignon Blancs. I tried a lot of them over the summer, and am still collecting my notes. In general, I like the grape. At its most simple, I think about the grape like lemonade: tart, cold, and refreshing. But sometimes you get surprised.

2009 Oberon Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, $15, 13.5% abv. Light with outstanding minerals and chalk, highly restrained aromas of jasmine and melon, with just a touch of fruit and acidity on the palate. Round mouthfeel, and just a little bit of that chalk shows up on the finish and I love it. I was seriously reminded of a Sancerre with this wine. Going into it the only thing I knew was that it was from California, and yet when it passed my lips I was stunned. And for the price? Normally you have to know a lot about French wines to get a bottle of this quality for $15, and it helps if the person on the other end doesn't know what he's selling. This is not your standard big fruit, strong acid, California SB. It's not like most of what you see from New Zealand or South America. Despite the Northern California birthplace, it is most reminiscent of the Loire Valley.

Like the Aussie Chardonnay I mentioned on Friday, this wine is partially oaked, and ever so deliciously balanced because of it. While cold it goes down smooth as silk; later, as it warms and your palate is activated from the meal, traces of oak and structure are more present. How do you decide how long to leave a particular wine in oak? Ahem... A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II, Scene i, li. 508-509:

Oberon: How long within this wood intend you stay?

Titania: Perchance till after Theseus' wedding-day.

No idea if they pulled part of this from the barrels after Theseus got hitched, but I'm happy with the results, and frankly more happy to brush off the dust from the handy Shakespeare Concordance (St. Martin's Press, 1953).

I served it with a roasted pepper pizza... Why the potatoes in the background of the photo? For some odd reason I was reminiscing about my visit to het Rijksmuseum Amsterdam and how there would be a gigantic portrait in the northern Renaissance style, and you'd have a big wrinkly head of some Flemish peasant grimacing by the light of a window, but on the counter would be a set of lovingly rendered turnips. I always love those little background details of antique tools, dinnerware, or odd vegetables.

This wine was received as a sample.

13 August 2010

2008 Robert Oatley Chardonnay

As an addendum to my recent post on Bob Oatley wines, another bottle landed at the house recently. This is the 2008 Robert Oatley Chardonnay from Mudgee, New South Wales. $16, 12.5% abv. Dominant aroma of apricots and honey, not overly oaked. Firm acidity, clean finish, and like the others in the series, a convenient Stelvin screwcap. It's got enough strength so that it's not "Another Boring Chardonnay", but at the same time it's not obnoxious, brassy, or buttery.

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I was thinking about pianos the other day, and how I played when I was a kid. I enjoyed it, and can still pick out a tune or two, but years of heavy typing have really messed up my pacing so that I'm scrambling to hit keys as quickly as possible. (I also have a bad habit of peeking inside the bench or stool to see what sheet music, tools, or other goodies are stored there.)

Beyond simple skill you can often tell if someone enjoys playing the piano or not. There's a twinkle in old recordings of Thelonious Monk that you don't hear from the lounge pianist grinding his way through the fifth drunken request for "Piano Man" that evening.

Like pianos, Chardonnay grapes are everywhere, and while there is potential for the greatness of Champagne or Burgundy, it's often easy and profitable to just pump out a yellow juice, knowing that it's going to sell because the name recognition is strong and it's considered the default white wine. It's nice, however, when you taste a Chardonnay and it's obvious that the winemaker cared about making a decent wine. It's those elements of balance and terroir that can make it exciting again even if it's your thousandth bottle. I'm not saying that this wine is a transcendent experience on the level of well-aged Burgundy, but it's a very enjoyable young wine for the price range and deserves notice amongst the flood of one note plonk.

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I've spoken recently about picking up frozen fish at the grocery store, often in clear, vacuum-sealed packages. Sometimes it's something familiar, other times I just grab something new and look it up later to learn more about it. You have to cook different fish in different ways, but there's also a lot of environmental and ethical concerns that go along with certain fish these days. If you're interested in sustainable seafood, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a great resource for both individual species and different countries. I love Atlantic cod, but not so much that I want to see it go extinct in my lifetime. If eating Pacific cod helps the fisheries recover, I'll do that instead. If I just have a random craving for seafood, maybe it's better to eat sardines that start spawning at the age of two, rather than orange roughy that wait thirty or forty years before making babies.

Here I grabbed some farmed swai from Vietnam. Swai is a river catfish, and is pretty indistinguishable from our local versions in terms of flavor and how it cooks. I gave the filet (170g/6oz) a light breading of cornmeal, Old Bay, and flour, and quickly pan-fried it. Served with some brown rice and sliced local vegetables. It tasted great, and was a perfect match for the wine. It still feels slightly odd to eat catfish from halfway around the world, since there's any number of streams and ponds within walking distance of my home where I could catch the whiskered fish.

I will give a quick shout out to two local catfish restaurants that use Mississippi farmed catfish and produce an excellent product: Scales Café here in Cordova and the Olive Branch Catfish Company in Olive Branch, MS.

Note: This wine was received as a sample.

11 August 2010


Back in my old Scouting days, one of our adult leaders would often do a dramatic reading of the 1907 poem "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert W. Service (the dapper gent pictured at right). The subject of the poem is a man from Tennessee who, while mining for gold in the Yukon/Alaska, is constantly cold and misses the heat of his home. If you've never encountered this poem before, it's much better when heard aloud--try listening to Johnny Cash reciting it.

As someone from Tennessee, camping in a Tennessee summer where at night it's in the upper 20sC/80sF, and sitting around a fire that just makes things hotter but does keep some of the mosquitoes away, I always thought Sam McGee was an idiot.

My friends know that I adore the cold, and I've had the pleasure of walking in shorts and tennis shoes alongside the frozen shore of Lake Erie during a Cleveland winter. Being caught in a blizzard in Massachusetts back in 2006 was problematic only because I wasn't used to driving through two feet of snow, but I found the temperature quite agreeable. These thoughts comfort me as we currently swelter and stew under a particularly hot and nasty Memphis summer. Last week it got up around 41°C/106°F, with a heat index even higher. It's times like this that you sometimes put the wine on the back shelf and reach for something cooler. But what cocktail to make with various scraps around the house? Why not do something truly crazy, and enjoyable as long as it's cold?

Benito's Margarita Morada
3 parts White Rum
1 part Campari
1 part Blue Curaçao
1 part Lime Juice
Dash of Agave Nectar
Dash of Fee Bros. Grapefruit Bitters

Combine ingredients, shake with ice, and strain into the most embarrassing glass you own. May God have mercy upon your soul.

Joking aside, it's not bad, and I think Campari should be used more often with margaritas in place of Curaçao, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau. Maybe it's just because I have such a love of bitter flavors, but it brings the traditional orange flavor with an additional kick that I think is a welcome improvisation on the classic.

As you can see, I served this with a dinner made from the Old El Paso Taco Kit. There are times when I want roasted cactus paddles and braised cow tongue on handmade corn tortillas. There are times when I haul my gringo self to little strip mall dives and order the tripe tacos en español just to watch the whole place go silent. But then again, there are times when nothing will hit the spot like the mass market Tex Mex of my youth.

Photo of Robert W. Service courtesy of expired Canadian copyright, used here under public domain laws.

09 August 2010

2006 Nipozzano Riserva

With a brief break from the heat this weekend (that is, the daytime high was only 35°C/95°F), I felt it was time to open the 2006 Nipozzano Riserva. $22, 13.5% abv. 90% Sangiovese, with the rest made up from Malvasia Nera, Colorino, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a Chianti Rùfina from the producer Marchesi de' Frescobaldi in Tuscany. The family moved to the area about a thousand years ago and got into the wine trade around seven hundred years ago.

I tend to get impressed by a few family heirlooms that have come down from the late 19th century. I imagine breaking out the thousand year old spoons for dinner is a much different experience. The name seems tailor made for marketing: "fresh and bold". I'm proud of my own last name but ultimately it means "one who pushes a cart".

First off, I have to point out that this is a very easy-drinking wine, and I'd downed two glasses before I remembered that I needed to take notes. I love it when that happens--not that I'm tired of taking notes or anything, but sometimes a wine is just so comfortable and enjoyable that you get tricked into drinking wine as it is meant to be consumed. But when I snapped back to reality, here's what I got: black plum, touch of cedar and leather, spicy edge. Medium tannins, really just at the perfect level where they are present but don't completely dry out your mouth.

I served this with a hearty bowl of gomiti all'amatriciana, or as it is better known around here, chili mac. For those of you who want a good BBQ wine keep this in mind. A fatty chunk of slow-smoked pork shoulder and a fresh caprese salad would be just about perfect with this wine.

Note: This wine was received as a sample.

06 August 2010

West Cape Howe Wines

This is my third set of wines from West Cape Howe, a winery in Western Australia. I've previously covered two under the WCH label as well as four in the Zeepaard line. Here are three recent releases from the Great Southern Range, with the Shiraz as part of the Western Australia Range:

2009 West Cape Howe Viognier. $18, 13.5% abv. Aromatic, full of jasmine, lilacs, with firm acidity. Slightly grassy flavor with a bitter, herbal edge that I adore. Since this is dry and tart, I'd say to pair it with something savory and sweet, like roasted pork chops with a molasses glaze. I also think it has the strength to stand up to many of the dishes found on the standard American Thanksgiving table.

2008 West Cape Howe Shiraz. $18, 14% abv. Black cherry and black pepper, touch of spicy cinnamon. Medium tannins and a decent amount of fruit without going overboard. A good all-around Shiraz that should work well with lamb or a savory roast duck.

2006 West Cape Howe "Book Ends" Cabernet Sauvignon. $18, 14% abv. Deep flavors of plum and cassis, with leather, boysenberry, and tea present as well. Long, tart finish. While this is a great wine right now, it currently benefits from some breathing, and I think will be even better in a few years. My friend Paul and I opened this up over a couple of steaks, as well as the...

2007 West Cape Howe "Two Steps" Shiraz Viognier. $18, 14% abv. Only 5% Viognier, but oh, what a lovely blend. I love these two grapes together, and this was a spectacular wine. Soft cherry aromas with just a hint of floral elements, restrained red cherry flavor with undertones of chocolate and white pepper. Soft tannins and a long, delicious finish. The really great thing about this wine was the balance: every part was in harmony. It's kind of like seeing a movie where every actor was perfectly cast, or listening to a band when every musician is in the zone that night. Moreover, the wine could not be replicated merely by mixing together some of the separate Shiraz and Viognier bottles--I wasn't expecting that trick to work, but tried it anyway. A lot of talented winemaking went into this one. Highly recommended.

These wines were received as samples from The Country Vintner.

04 August 2010

Adventures in Alternative Packaging

I've discussed alternative packaging here before, the various attempts to successfully market wine in something other than a 750mL glass bottle with a natural cork in it. Most of the efforts involve something more environmentally friendly: recyclable Tetra Paks, boxed wines, or even refillable stainless steel bottles. The other versions involve convenience, and have been around for some time: mini bottles, aluminum cans, etc. In the second category we have a type that's growing in popularity: the wine that comes with its own glass.

Recently Dr. Vino talked about the smashing success of Le Froglet in the UK, a wine that comes in a plastic stemmed glass with a foil lid. Coppola had something similar a while back. When I saw the "Hardy's Shuttle" sitting on the counter of a local wine shop, I couldn't stop laughing and had to grab one.

The 2006 Hardy's Nottage Hill Shiraz retails for $3 per 187mL bottle, 13.5% abv. While intact the entire bottle and cup combination is about 17cm/7in tall. The acrylic cup is actually the screwcap for the wine--I thought it would pop off separately, but once I broke the seal and moved it around for a photo I managed to spill some of the wine, hence the stain on the label and the thin layer of wine you can see in the top photo.

Tasting notes: Lots of cherry, big fruit aromas, and something I've never encountered before in a wine, that slightly spicy aroma of Double Bubble Bubble Gum. I don't know if it's something about the packaging or storage, but that odor is unmistakable. Flavorwise it is very tart, tannic, and rough. Definitely one of the odder wines I've tried, and that's saying a lot. It might be a bit different in an actual glass, but I wanted to try it as it was intended to be consumed.

As for the packaging, it's a funny little idea, but there's really not much of a benefit over drinking straight from the bottle. In fact, it could be made just a bit differently with a wide mouth screwcap like you get with lots of bottled juice these days. The acrylic cup is too small and narrow for any real appreciation of the wine, and it also doesn't hold an entire bottle--you need to pour about half in, drink that, then pour in the other half. I think that cuts down on the convenience factor a bit, since at an outdoor fair or concert you'd need to keep track of the small bottle and the small glass. And while I'll keep the glass just out of curiosity, its re-use value is limited due to the small amount of liquid it holds and the grooved threads at the bottom, making it harder to clean.

02 August 2010

News and Updates

Happy birthday to Wolfgang, who turns 12 this summer. Don't know the exact date, just that he was born in June or July back in 1998. Some say that he's merely the last in a long string of random pairings among stray mutts. Others claim that his mother was a coyote and his father was the western wind. Either way he's been a faithful member of the household lo these dozen years.

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I've done a bit of housecleaning here at old BWR, cleaning up some dead links on the left and making a few tiny design changes. Some of the sites listed in my Memphis and National/World blogrolls have died off or have changed URLs, so those have been updated. And just so everyone knows, I'm not going to delete the link to your site if you go on vacation for a week. In my experience I've found that if a site hasn't posted in four months, it's probably dead and gone.

Speaking of other blogs, I'm still maintaining a lengthy list over at BWR's sister site, Winebloggers in the South. There are about 45 sites listed there, and while I rarely post new content there, I have a few brief profiles of newly listed sites. (And I'm still looking for wine blogs from Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, so drop me a line if you hear of any.)

A new feature here: static pages. This is something I've always wanted to see implemented in the Blogger software, and while it was rolled out earlier this year I'm just now noticing it. Unlike regular blog posts, these are undated informational pages that will be linked at the top of the page or on the sidebar, where mine currently reside. I might move them later, or incorporate a graphic of some sort, but for now I've made three: Sample Policy (what kind of products I'm interested in reviewing, and a standard disclaimer), Press (interviews with me as well as other media mentions), and Favorite Posts. I'm most excited about that last one--this is my 820th post, and while I've tagged the archives with keywords, it's still a lot to dig through. If you're new to this blog, I've picked out some of my favorite past posts, including a bunch of the weird and funny cooking stories. Anyone up for frog legs?

If you use Blogger/Blogspot and are interested in creating static pages like this, here's an introduction.