Denver, Where the Air is Thin

Denver from Table Mountain. Photo by Kenny A Chaffin

This is only my second trip to Colorado and I like it just as much the second time around. First, the whole 'mile-high' thing: at 5280 feet (1.62 kilometres) above sea-level the air in Denver is thinner, cleaner and bluer that it is most other places. This has a couple of effects: golf balls fly a little farther when hit, and big wheezy powerlifters fall harder when they run out of air–I live precisely at sea level back home (it laps against my front door) and while I don't actually have any trouble exerting myself, I noticed a bit of oxygen deficit when I was falling asleep at night. On the other hand, when friends from Denver come to my house for a visit, they seem to be bullet-proof robots who don't need sleep, hopping around like fleas at all hours. more

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I Have the Best Friends Ever

Friday night in the Greenwood Inn in Winnipeg--300 people!

Wrapped up a great week in Manitoba with a really fun event in Winnipeg. We got the boot from the Blue and Gold room for Friday (something about some football team needing it, go figure!) and wound up in the fabulous Greenwood Inn. Not only did they step into the breach at the last minute, they were great with a busy and wacky event. Not only was this a very appreciative crowd (they laughed at my jokes, which means they were smart and cool too!) but they were really eager to talk wine and food and winemaking, which makes for a perfect evening for me. more

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Winnipeg, Wine Sense and the Blue and Gold Room

Limited Edition lecture before the tasting, Blue and Gold Room, Winnipeg

Had a really good show last night: 300 people packed into the big event room at Bomber's stadium in Winnipeg. For those not familiar with Manitoba geography, Winnipeg is the largest city, and the capital of the province. Situated on the flood plain of two rivers (the Red and the Assiniboine) at almost the precise geographic centre of North America, it's on the eastern edge of the Canadian prairies, next to central Canada. Because so many rail and ground transportation lines pass through it, we sometimes call it 'The Gateway to the West'. In contrast to what you might expect from a Prairie city, it has a robust ethnic community with great neighbourhoods, a fabulous ballet, some wonderful architecture and parks, and many lakes and streams--each of which produce, in their own time, mosquitos the size of jet airplanes. more

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Cellar: Not Just a Hole in the Ground

Wine cellar in Chvalovice near Znojmo.Photo by che

Cellaring Part Three: Diggin' a Hole more

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One Down, Three to Go!

Brandon, the second largest city in Manitoba has a population of 180,000. Nestled in the scenic Assiniboine River Valley in the heart of western Manitoba, Brandon has approximately two-thirds of Manitoba's farmland located within a 130 km radius of the city. Brandon is very close to the geographical centre of North America, and is home to the Wheat Kings. Go Kings!

Craig Swanston with more guest blogging more

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Guest Blogging From the Prairies

The view from the back seat more

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Live, From the Internet, It's Limited Edition!

Maryland Homebrew Lecture

Limited Edition season has me running all over the continent doing shows telling people about the wines, their flavours and the foods that go with them. Last week I was in Detroit and Indianapolis with Brian from LD Carlson, and we did shows for Jason at Adventures in Homebrewing and Great Fermentations of Indianapolis. more

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Leavin' On an Airplane

Just finished a great night doing a Limited Edition tasting with the folks from Great Fermentations of Indianapolis. We had a really cool venue at George's restaurant, nice and cosy, and Anita seems to attract the cream of the crop of winemakers--I got a lot of good questions and everyone seemed enthused about the wine and food pairings of the Limited Editions. As always, great to see Anita (and her ever gracious and friendly husband Jim) and her staff, as well as some old friends at the tasting. Anita, I love the new location! more

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Getting Grumpy With the Opinions

One of the strange things that happens when you blog publicly is that PR flacks start sending you articles and promo material to look at. Some of it applies, some . . . not so much.

But I really loved this bit of snark I got from a Conde Nast rep: The World's Most Overrated Wines, from 'Mens Style'. I'm not sure why anyone would think of 'style' and me in the same sentence, but clicking through the little slide-show does offer a few valid points, although they're mainly just cranky opinions. There are a lot of undistinguished wines out in the marketplace, and a few outright stinkers, but it's a bit broad to tar so many with one brush. more

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Motor City Wine Madness!

Detroit! D-Town, Rock City, The Big 3-1-3! Le détroit du Lac Erie (meaning 'the strait between Lake Erie and Lake Huron) was founded by the French, nicked by the British, attacked by Indians under Chief Pontiac, ceded to the US under the Jay treaty, burnt to the ground by the British, and named Paris of the West in the 1800's, and is one of the winningest sports cities in America. Whew! more

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Aged to Perfection, or Dorian Grey?

The Picture of Dorian Gray is Oscar Wilde's classic tale of the dangers of falling into temptation and paying the price for transgressions. I got to thinking about this after reading the Washington Post's article about the dangers of selling wine for a living. To quote the authors:

Even if a bottle of wine leaves its winery in immaculate condition, the road it travels to your glass is fraught with peril every step of the way. Because wine is a living, breathing substance, it can be mortally wounded by improper handling. A wine that starts out perfect can be ruined by many factors: how it is shipped and stored, when and with what it is poured. more

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Fly the Friendly Skies?

Y'ever have one of those days? Y'know, where either the plane you're on has to make an emergency landing due to cabin-pressure failure (those slides are surprisingly fun) or you discover that airlines have two categories of luggage, 'Carry On' and 'Lost'? Or you're so late you get into your destination after all the restaurants are closed and you don't even have jammies to change into? more

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Limited Edition Tour 2007: Baltimore or Bust!

Baltimore, 'The Greatest City in America', 'Crabtown', 'Monument City', 'The City That Reads' (wait, what?) is my next destination! Maryland, crabcakes and wine making will be the topics of the day as I give a lecture and wine tasting for kit makers in the US east. more

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Stop! It's Beaujolais Time

Well, it's not really Beaujolais Nouveau time–that doesn't happen until Thursday the 15th. But I usually forget, myself, so I always appreciate a little advanced warning.

What is Beaujolais? Good question. It is, of course, a place in France. While it's technically a department of Burgundy, the soil and the southerly position actually make it more like the northern Rhone than Southern Burgundy more

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The Empire Strikes Back

Critic Robert Parker (pictured above) is barking mad these days. In 2004 he and consultant winemaker Michel Roland (not pictured--he doesn't show up on film, apparently) were harshly criticized by filmmaker Johnathon Nossiter in his documentary film Mondo Vino. Nossiter's thesis was that Parker has too much influence, and likes low-acid, high-colour, over-oaked red wines that sacrifice the structure of traditional great wines for quick drinking 'fruit bomb' character. He also intimated that Michel Roland was the tool of Satan for trying to force all wines into this mold on Parker's behalf. more

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