Wino Wally's 




Work-related travel can be a hassle at times.  You end up missing some of those key milestones in life, like your kids taking their first steps, etc.  However, I try to make the most of travel by accomplishing two things: reading for pleasure and finding the best restaurant in the area with a notable wine list.  This week’s column combines some thoughts and ideas gleaned from the periodicals consumed on eight flights in the past two weeks.

Hugh Johnson published his first version of The World Atlas of Wine nearly 30 years ago.  The fourth edition was published in 1994.  Mr. Johnson has collaborated with British author/TV commentator Jancis Robinson to publish the fifth edition just in time for the holiday shopping season.  In the intro, Hugh refers to the 30 years since his first edition as “the most eventful and fruitful years in the whole history of wine.”  If there’s a single book that you should have in your wine library, it’s this one.  I have a copy of the fourth edition and it’s the source for solving many a “discussion” among winophiles visiting the Wino Wally cellar.  There are tons of articles, maps, photos, etc. in addition to the information-laden chapters discussing wines worldwide.  It’s not designed for browsing due to the voluminous information packed inside.  I liked the fifth edition so much that I bought an extra as a Christmas present for my brother-in-law (well, at least I didn’t totally give it away, Wino John, you have to determine if you’re the lucky one).  Editor's Note: Wally, I only have Johnson's Modern Wine Encyclopedia, which was published in 1983!

In the Winter 2001 edition of Forbes’ FYI (a publication for capitalistic hedonists like myself and not the type of pub read by Osama’s people), Richard Nalley writes an article “The Robber Barons’ Secret” about Madeira.  Madeira, perhaps the strangest wine in the world, comes from the island of Madeira, which is about 400 miles off the coast of Morocco jutting into the Atlantic Ocean.  For centuries, this island was the last port of call for ships sailing the trade winds from Europe to the New World.  Because of its status as a “refueling” station, a number of entrepreneurs started vineyards in the crevices of the island’s volcanoes.

During the days of the sailing ships, someone discovered that adding brandy or cane sugar spirits to the cask of wine helped to preserve them during the long Atlantic voyage.  Somehow, this addition actually improved the wine as well as substantial heat during the voyage.  During the 1800’s, the Winos of American society would pay top dollar for casks of Madeira certified to have crossed the equator on two ocean trips.

Americans don’t drink much Madeira today.  If you can’t find some at your local pub, contact The Rare Wine Company at 800-999-4342 or at  Emanuel Berk, the proprietor, has some Madeira’s going back to 1795 (listing for $1,395 per bottle).  If your local establishment has Madeira, some to look for (per Nalley) are: Leacock’s Rainwater (medium dry and tangy), Cossart Gordon 5 Years Sercial (nutty, sneaky rich), D’Oliveiras 10 Years Medium Dry (tropical fruit aromas and spicy oak), Colombo Old Reserve 10 Years Old (firm bodied and medium sweet), Cossart Gordon 10 Years Bual (creamy with notes of honey and smoke), and Blandy’s Malmsey 1978 (dry, deep and rich).  I’m sure we’ll see Wino Bob’s review of some of these in the future due to their extra kick.  Maybe we’ll even see them on the Bacchus wine list.

For years, Wino John has stated that he’s buying a Harley when he turns 50 and will tour the country.  Fifty ain’t that far away, Big WJ!  Thought you and the readers would be interested in knowing that Tom Mackey, Winemaker at St. Francis Wine ( bought a Harley Softtail last year when he hit the big 50.  He was quoted as saying that winemakers like to control the entire process and he likes to control his ride, hence the Harley.  Check out the St. Francis’s New Vineyard Designate Reserve Merlots crafted by Mackey.

In the early days of, I told Wino John that we needed some articles about golf.  He resisted, but recently is weakening.  Assuming that I can find some time, I might create a few golf pages for the Winos with a proclivity toward chasing the little white ball around a couple hundred acres.  In keeping with our desire of linking to the exotic, check out for the latest in golf carts.  Ogio, as you may know, is one of the largest manufacturers of golf bags.  As a promo for their newly designed bag “just for carts”, they designed the ultimate golf cart.  It’s not available to the public through Ogio, and was only produced in limited editions for the Ogio dealers who wanted to shell out a few bucks for a promo.  You’ll have to look under the news releases section of the website to find a picture.  This baby is basically a four wheel drive Yamaha golf cart with all terrain bucket seats, all terrain driving lights, and a Thule cargo carrier basket for the roof.  Oh yes, and it will carry your golf clubs on the back.  It should show up in dealers’ showrooms in early December.

Straight Up or On the Rocks:  The Story of the American Cocktail has been revised in time for Christmas.  This classic by William Grimes makes outrageous claims like the Puritans arrived in America with a huge thirst for alcohol (kind of makes Wino Bob’s claims about Wino Jesus sort of pale in comparison).  In this time of terror and uncertainty, Grimes argues that the cocktail works well as a metaphor for the American people.  “Like us, it is adventurous, constantly evolving and fun.”  Wino Bob, check out the recipes for notables like the “Screaming Orgasm” and let us know your thoughts.

With a recession going on, these are tough days for those of us who long for a sip of the elusive Screaming Eagle.  However, for the budget conscious, check out the October issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine.  They commissioned eight so-called Wino experts (ok, I called them Wino Experts) to recommend a case of wine that cost $100 or less.  All eight recommended 12 different wines, obviously averaging less than $10 per bottle.  If you can find a copy of this magazine on the stands, great.  If not, maybe I’ll do a survey of the wines (or maybe Wino Bob will taste all 96 for us).  You can order a subscription to the magazine at or if you order at least $100 from The Wine Enthusiast catalog or website, the first year is free.  You can also check out the November issue’s highlights online at the above website.

Wino Wally

November 11, 2001

Editor's note:  Damn!  Wally plied me with Sassicaia...  Here's Wally's Golf links...  click here



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