About the site . . .
Winebork.com (click here for the name's origin) was originally written by the legendary Dr. Mark Alguard to collect the wine opinions of a group of Silicon Valley physicists and engineers who had been drinking wine together for more than 30 years. (Click here for bios of original Wineborks.) The site was begun for fun, but developed into a religiously maintained record of the group's wine tasting activities. [Disclaimer: "Winebork" is and has always been considered an undignified title by multiple wives and significant others.]
The group has dispersed in recent years and the site has been completely rewritten by H. T. King (that would be me); the collection of reviews has taken on the nature of a personal wine diary. I post here my opinions of each new wine I sample, though the site itself includes many of the earlier reviews as well.
The reviews are based on a leisurely pass through a full bottle of wine, usually over dinner, and not on an isolated sip at a winery or formal tasting. Partly this is because I've rarely encountered a wine that doesn't develop after being opened, partly because I find my judgment is more reliable and repeatable with an extended tasting of a given wine. The wines are often tasted blind, though not exclusively.
Wine tasting is one of the most subjective of pleasures, and I'd love to hear your opinions as well. You can share your thoughts by entering your comments and ratings on the "details" page for a given wine. (Just click on a wine to bring up its details page). There's also an email link in the the navigation bar. I'm always interested in ways to improve the site.
Origin of the name "Winebork". . .
- Oct. 1973: At President Richard Nixon's command, Solicitor General and Presidential lackey Robert Bork fires Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox after both Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Assistant Attorney General William Ruckelshaus refuse to do so.
- Nov. 1973: San Francisco underground rock station KSAN airs an uncanny re-enactment of Orson Welles' 1930's War of the Worlds radio broadcast, in which Mars invades New Jersey. In the re-enactment, however, the Martian invaders roam the earth turning innocent humans into "Mindless Borks."
- Nov. 1973: Inspired by the example of fellow grad student D. Whitmore, who listened to the entire KSAN broadcast while consuming two bottles of previously frozen Grand Cru Burgundy, G. Ketner and H. T. King add "Mindless Borks," or simply "Borks," to their name-calling repertoire.
- Jan. 1985: Having moved back to the Bay Area, H. T. King introduces the term "Bork" to his California wine tasting compatriots, who immediately recognize its utility as a putdown when applied to one another in differences of opinion on wine.
- June 1991: Little Amy Van Munn, daughter of Pat Van Munn, mutters to her mother, "Oh no - here come the wine dorks again." We presume little Amy has mispronounced the "Bork" epithet she had heard so often in her infancy, and assume the name "wine borks" as opposed to "wine dorks."
- Feb. 2000: Mark Alguard completes the first version of winebork.com. Still believing, even as an adult, that the name "dork" is more appropriate to the site's contributors than "bork," Amy herself nonetheless provides help in registering the site.
The Original Wineborks
H. T. King was transfigured in the early 70's from clumsy beer-drinking grad student to suave wine enthusiast (others less suave use the term "junkie") via the large-scale consumption of fine Margaux supplied by mentor G. Ketner. The passion intensified during a three-year stay on the East Coast when buying fine Bordeaux and Burgundy did not require mortgaging one's house. The wine lust reached perilous levels in the mid 80's with a brief stint as office-mate of fellow zealot Pat Van Munn, during which they "invested" their entire children's college funds in '82 Bordeaux. With age and maturity, as well as relocation to the beautiful Russian River Valley, reason has returned in the form of an obsession with Russian River Pinot Noir.
Infected with the wine bug by his office mate, Pat Van Munn has dedicated the last 30 years to refining his palate and polishing magisterial phrases like "This wine is a monolith of fruitless tannin." Afflicted in later years by a case of screeching paranoia, PVM has installed a wine cellar deep beneath his estate, where he still regularly repairs to gloat over his best purchases. He possesses a particularly healthy passion for bone-jarring Sonoma Zinfandels.
Charter Winebork #3, Paul Houghton, legendary pilot and mountain man, has a palate capable of 0.001 point resolution, a level of discrimination reflected in the almost imperceptible differences he applies to the word "like" in the statement "I-I-I-I-I LIKE it!" Known to fly off at a moment's notice to vineyards around the country to catalog the nuances in individual grape clusters, his airplane is the only Mooney run exclusively on the fumes from empty Martinelli Jackass Hill Zinfandel bottles.
Mark Alguard is a serious wine consumer whose primary claim to fame is possessing a wine collection that enjoys the shortest average cellaring period in the civilized world. The primary explanation is that he has never been known to buy a wine that actually requires cellaring in the first place. Fortunately he still has an adequate supply of "friends" who take a longer view. Mark is the genius behind the original Winebork site, undertaken during a temporary period of independent wealth in the years of the dot-com boom. The shock of market corrections has since reduced his average expenditure per wine to within epsilon of zero.
Quiet and unassuming, Anna Stockel can still be coaxed to utter the occasional mildly-worded opinion. (Example: "These cretins should be publicly disemboweled for putting this stuff on the market."). Certainly we all agree that her intrinsically shy nature can be overcome only in moments of supreme emotion, such as when sipping Ridge Monte Bello or Biale single vineyard Zins.
Winebork Emeritus G. Ketner was genetically engineered in utero to possess a perfect palate. Pictured here in the bloom of youth, swirling a '70 Batard Montrachet and preparing to utter something so pretentious as to peg the Pompmeter, he is the renowned holder of the largest collection of off-year clarets in the Western Hemisphere. ("'69 Haut Brion, anyone?") Now in the prime of life, he is saved from terminal pomposity only by monstrous daily infusions of Turley Zinfandel.