By billn on August 15, 2006 #travel

matterhornJust back from 5 days without electronic communication – and no withdrawal symptoms either!

I think I managed to find just about the only part of Europe that had (a little) sunshine.

Thursday and Friday 1,000 metres up and 1,000 metres down, Saturday 800 metres up, Sunday 600 metres up and down.

Zermatt is very picturesque too, shame the main street is like a busy shopping arcade, but turn any corner and your in another world. Plus if there is blue sky, there’s always the Matterhorn to look at!

Because of the steady growth of the Burgundy-Report site, I’m working hard trying to get wordpress up and running as I feel that I need to better ‘manage’ the content – and hard work I’m finding it too! It’s great if you just want to use the default template, but (of-course) I don’t.

I’m quite happy with HTML, but this is another ballgame…

NoteFinder Update

By billn on August 09, 2006 #site updates

I was reasonably happy with the first implementation, but three things were apparent:
1. The lists of producers and wines were cumbersome to navigate – at least with the solution provided.
2. The text entry for a text search was not so elegant.
3. The database has spelling in (typically) the correct French – e.g. Chézeaux, not Chezeaux. Anyone typing in the latter will not get the 30+ notes from the former!

Well 1 & 2 are fixed, but I still don’t have a solution for 3. Any ideas will be gratefully accepted.

Label Info.

By billn on July 26, 2006 #site updates

This took a little longer to finish than I expected; as what worked in firefox didn’t always work with internet explorer. Anyway here is a semi-interactive explanantion of the info you will find on a bottle-label.

a reading backlog

By billn on July 21, 2006 #books, maps, magazines, films even podcasts!

Heading for the Côtes for a couple of days next week but there’s not much additional on the site this month – it must be that hot weather holiday feeling – however, I have had chance to catch up on a little reading, specifically a collection of older books on wine. It’s fascinating to see the same discussions about new vs old-style winemaking and the lottery of finding good bottles – where have I heard that before? – but it’s interesting to read it from the perspective of people writing in the 1920’s-1960’s. The style of prose may have changed, but little else!

I have a couple more books on the way, but the last two weeks have been filled with unfamiliar author’s names such as; H.Warner Allen, Morton Shand, Youngman Carter, Yoxall and Schoonmaker. Great fun

Melatonin: a grape excuse to hit the bottle

By billn on July 12, 2006 #a bit of science#other sites

Back from a short break. Gratified to see that the site made a new record last week when the summer issue was launched: 743 unique IP addresses in one day – wow – that’s 200 up on the last record!

Just in case you need more excuse to drink here’s an article I picked up last week from Chemistry in Industry:

Melatonin: a grape excuse to hit the bottle

by Marina Murphy

There is now yet another reason to drink more wine. Scientists in Italy say they have discovered that grape varieties used to make some of the most popular red wines contain melatonin, the ‘sleep hormone’ previously thought to be produced only by mammals.

Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxy-tryptamine) is produced in the pineal gland, a pea-like organ located in the brain that is sensitive to light. When light hits the eye, production of melatonin ceases. Besides aiding sleep, melatonin is thought to influence annual rhythms and seasonal changes in animals.

Researcher Iriti Marcello of the University of Milan believes: ‘the melatonin content in wine could help regulate the circadium rhythm [sleep-wake patterns], such as the melatonin produced by the pineal gland in mammals’. This, he said, may well explain why so many of us reach for the bottle to help us wind down after a long day.

Iriti’s group measured melatonin content in the skins of eight Vitis vinifera cultivars (grape varieties): Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Croatina, Nebbiolo, Merlot, Marzemino and Sangiovese. Concentration varied greatly among the cultivars with the highest levels of melatonin found in Nebbiolo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Croatina (Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, doi:10.1002/jsfa.2537). Nebbiolo contained the highest melatonin levels at around 400pg/ml.

But Richard Wurtman, of the department of brain and cognitive sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, is sceptical. ‘Many investigators have tried and failed in the past to find melatonin in a number of foods,’ he said. Wurtman is not convinced that what the researchers are calling ‘melatonin’ is melatonin — ‘just something with some fairly similar high-pressure liquid chromatography parameters and some immune cross-reactivity (by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). More appropriate studies should use gas chromatography/mass spectrometry,’ he said.

Itisi’s group say that the concentration of melatonin in grapes can be increased using benzothiadiazole, a chemical that increases disease resistance in plants (a plant ‘vaccine’).

Melatonin levels in human blood range from 20pg/ml in the morning to 55pg/ml at night.

A trickle of new pages…

By billn on June 26, 2006 #site updates

Not too many additions viewable yet from the last days as I’m concentrating on content for the new issue – due in around 10 days. Off to Gevrey for a visit on Wednesday – monopole Clos de la Justice. Two more appellations have anyway trickled through the net; Clos de Vougeot and Vougeot.

hot weather regime and new app pages…

By billn on June 18, 2006 #site updates

The weather is hot, so the wines are not! Hardly a drop of red has passed my lips in the last week – let’s call it a holiday – no comment on the whites though. Two more ‘app’ pages are complete, Montrachet/Chevalier and Nuits.

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