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Richard Jennings
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Author of more than 35,000 wine notes, Richard reports on fine wine, winetasting and food and wine pairing in the greater San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.

Entries by Richard Jennings

The Singular Greatness of Champagne Salon

(0) Comments | Posted May 21, 2014 | 12:07 PM

Champagne is the hardest wine to make. To produce truly great Champagne requires top vineyard sources and the kind of ideal vintage conditions that used to occur only two or three times per decade. Of course you also need expertise and specialized equipment. And after you've made the wine, you...

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Pebble Beach: Nation's Premier Food & Wine Event When it Comes to Wine

(2) Comments | Posted April 18, 2014 | 2:18 PM

Opening Night Reception at Pebble Beach Food & Wine (all photos courtesy PBFW)

The country's greatest annual food and wine event with an emphasis on wine -- featuring some of the world's finest and most exclusive wines --...

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Santa Barbara's Happy Place for Bordeaux Varieties

(0) Comments | Posted April 1, 2014 | 7:55 PM

view of Happy Canyon from northernmost vineyard at Star Lane
view of Happy Canyon from northernmost vineyard at Star Lane

Santa Barbara area grape growers nearly gave up on Bordeaux varieties planted here in the 1970s after they failed to ripen...

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Bubbles Rising: Sparkling Trend in Santa Barbara?

(0) Comments | Posted March 7, 2014 | 12:56 PM

L to R
L to R: Riverbank's Clarissa Nagy; Don Schroeder of Sea Smoke; Dave Potter, Municipal Winemakers; Sonja Magdevski of Casa Dumetz; Brewer-Clifton's Greg Brewer; Blakeney Sanford

One thing I've learned from several trips to Santa Barbara...

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Lion in Winter: Robert M. Parker Jr. Addresses Wine Writers

(0) Comments | Posted February 27, 2014 | 11:51 AM

Parker 2014 Meadowood closeup

Robert M. Parker Jr. has been the world's preeminent wine critic and tastemaker for decades.

Parker had a huge impact on wine criticism and wine education over the 30 years since he came to...

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Ballard Canyon: Santa Barbara's Newest, Rhone-variety Focused AVA

(3) Comments | Posted February 18, 2014 | 4:46 PM

view of Larner Vineyard at southern end of Ballard Canyon

Next up on our tour of Santa Barbara County appellations is its newest AVA -- Ballard Canyon. The aromatic, flavorful, structured Syrahs from this small area...

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A Plea for Authenticity: No Bogus Wine for Your Valentine

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2014 | 9:58 AM

sparkling moment

Wine consumers in the U.S. have a problem. Our government is one of the few in the world not to take action to protect consumers from being misled by erroneous wine labeling that suggests a wine made...

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Sta. Rita Hills: Top Choices from One of California's Greatest Sites

(0) Comments | Posted February 7, 2014 | 5:05 PM

View of southern portion of Sta. Rita Hills AVA, from the top of the Mt. Carmel vineyard

Sta. Rita Hills AVA is a 10 mile stretch of land between the Santa Barbara County towns of Buellton and...

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Andrew Murray to Expand; Leasing Former Curtis Winery & Vineyard

(0) Comments | Posted January 14, 2014 | 12:54 PM

Andrew Murray and wife Kristen
Andrew Murray and wife Kristen outside their tasting room in Los Olivos

Andrew Murray is a name those of us who love American Rhone-style wines have seen on bottles of small lot Syrah and popular, value-priced...

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Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé: Delicious Wines, Relative Values

(0) Comments | Posted January 3, 2014 | 11:46 AM

view of Saint-Émilion (image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Saint-Émilion is both the most charming town in all of Bordeaux and a red wine appellation surrounding that town on the right bank of the Gironde River. It is an area that has been...

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Rock Star Champagne Grower-Producers: Serge Mathieu and Chartogne-Taillet

(0) Comments | Posted December 28, 2013 | 1:19 AM

cow sculpture at Serge Mathieu

Two stars of my Holiday Champagne Buyers Guide this year--Serge Mathieu and Chartogne-Taillet--are grower-producers whose wines express a sense of place. Both are also terrific values amongst my most highly rated...

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In the Spirit of the Season: Charity and Vintage Port

(0) Comments | Posted December 20, 2013 | 3:41 AM

1955 Port tasting 3

With Christmas less than a week away, this post brings together two topics I associate with this time of year: charity, and the delicious, complex, fortified wine called Port.

It just so happens that a Chicago couple,...

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Jon Bonné's The New California Wine: Worthy Effort Despite Simplistic Polemics

(0) Comments | Posted December 12, 2013 | 8:55 AM


Jon Bonné, wine editor for the San Francisco Chronicle since 2006, is one of my favorite wine journalists. He has a nose for intriguing stories, and possesses both a lively writing style and knack for delightful turns of phrase.

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Elegance and Finesse: The Champagnes of Taittinger

(0) Comments | Posted December 9, 2013 | 9:18 AM

a portion of Taittinger's La Marquetterie vineyard

Taittinger was founded in the 1930s with Pierre Taittinger's acquisition of the remaining assets of the old Champagne house Forest-Fourneaux. It is thus the youngest of the...

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Thanksgiving With the Mondavis: A Family Reunited and its Rich Legacy

(1) Comments | Posted November 27, 2013 | 3:29 PM

Michael Mondavi Family Estate Luncheon
Mondavi family members at the home of Michael and Isabel Mondavi

The memorable events described in this piece actually occurred this past weekend -- the weekend before Thanksgiving....

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Holiday Champagne Buyer's Guide

(4) Comments | Posted November 22, 2013 | 2:30 PM

view of Champagne's Marne Valley from hill near the Abbey of Hautvillers

My annual Holiday Champagne Buyer's Guide includes ratings on 325 current releases. It's packed with some amazing wines and many excellent values....

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What Makes Champagne Special? A Brief History

(0) Comments | Posted November 15, 2013 | 9:27 AM

Pinot Noir vines in Cumières

The vast appellation of Champagne doesn't look like the world's other wine regions. The extensive vineyards -- spreading for miles in some places, covering every available slope -- are high density plantings, containing...

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Hollywood & Vine? The Latest in Wine Themed Movies

(0) Comments | Posted September 26, 2013 | 1:23 PM


Wine-themed movies used to be few and far between. Indeed, the topic of fine wine was thought to be box office poison prior to the success of Sideways in 2004. Fortunately for us wine lovers, major independent and documentary film...

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Two Talented Expat Winemakers in California: Ernst Storm and Guillaume Fabre

(1) Comments | Posted September 20, 2013 | 2:20 PM

Guillaume Fabre, at home, with his Clos Solène wines
Guillaume Fabre, at home, with his Clos Solène wines

Winemaking in California has very much been shaped and influenced by a long line of experienced growers and winemakers who moved here from...

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Grand Daddy of California Wine Events: Family Winemakers San Francisco

(0) Comments | Posted September 13, 2013 | 4:49 PM

2013 Family Winemakers at San Francisco's Fort Mason
2013 Family Winemakers at San Francisco's Fort Mason

The two-day annual Family Winemakers of California Tasting in San Francisco (FW) is the most comprehensive showing of California wines in the state. The event...

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