On Mapping the Vineyard

After visiting wine districts in Europe and North America over the course of 20 years, I decided to create a notebook. I had to. If you taste extensively—four or five serious exercises a year on trips to Napa and Sonoma, the Yakima Valley, Burgundy, or the Loire, not to mention the regular tasting that goes on if you happen to have your own restaurant—you accumulate an unreasonable amount of information. You stand in a cellar before tables with 20, 60, 100 wines, and the lines grow blurry. Barrel tasting is worse. In France you move from one barrique to the next as if you were strolling from one vineyard to the next, and the distinctions between eight different pièces of Meursault or Volnay get as fuzzy as your tongue.

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