A Guide to Wine, Food & the Good Life
To subscribe and be notified anytime we post a new article, enter your email address in the box below, then click on Subscribe Now.

Featured Wine Commentary

Similar Articles:

  1. Vintage Tastings – A Day at the Tilsons
  2. Vintage Tastings – A Top Ten for 2023
  3. WINE EVENTS WITH WINES FROM MY CELLAR ARRANGED AND ORGANIZED BY ACKER MERRILL
  4. JOSH JENSEN, FOUNDER OF CALERA WINE COMPANY, HAS PASSED BUT HIS LEGEND WILL LIVE ON FOREVER
  5. FREDERICK ESMONIN
  6. OLD CHAMPAGNE - ONE OF LIFE'S GREAT PLEASURES
  7. TIS THE SEASON!
  8. BOUCHARD PÉRE ET FILS
  9. CHANIN WINE COMPANY
  10. GREAT 2018 RED BURGUNDIES FROM DOMAINE ANNE & HERVE SIGAUT
  11. 2018 RED BURGUNDY
  12. 2018 GERMAN ROSÉS
  13. 2018 ROSES - IT'S TIME & IT LOOKS LIKE WE ARE IN FOR A REAL TREAT!
  14. CALERA WINE COMPANY - A GREAT CALIFORNIA WINE STORY NOW ENTERING ANOTHER CHAPTER
  15. A RECENT VISIT TO DIAMOND CREEK VINEYARDS – FALL 2018
  16. GAMBAL-WORK WINERY
  17. 2018 HILLSIDE HOUSE SUNSET SOIRÉE WITH JIM CLENDENEN OF AU BON CLIMAT
  18. IS IT ROSÉ TIME?
  19. DOMAINE BALLOT-MILLOT – HISTORY, OLDER WINES & THE 2015 VINTAGE, AND TASTING NOTES ON THE 2015S
  20. BIEN NACIDO ESTATE AND SOLOMON HILLS ESTATE
  21. A VISIT TO TYLER WINERY
  22. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL – VINTAGE 2014
  23. SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN VINEYARD AND QUINTA CRUZ
  24. RIDGE VINEYARDS & THE DROUGHT YEARS 2012-2015
  25. BONNY DOON VINEYARD: A PIONEER PRODUCER WHERE OLD IS NEW
  26. VISIT TO CALERA & NEW AND OLD WINES
  27. DIAMOND CREEK VINEYARDS
  28. TYLER WINERY
  29. MARIETTA CELLARS
  30. CHANIN WINE COMPANY & LUTUM WINES
  31. MASSICAN WINERY
  32. DOMAINE BALLOT MILLOT
  33. DOMAINE SAUMAIZE-MICHELIN
  34. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL - VINTAGE 2013
  35. CALERA WINE COMPANY
  36. RIDGE VINEYARDS
  37. BIEN NACIDO ESTATE AND SOLOMON HILLS ESTATE
  38. RIDGE VINEYARDS AND TABLAS CREEK VINEYARD
  39. TYLER WINERY AND CHANIN WINE COMPANY
  40. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL - VINTAGE 2012
  41. WORLD CLASS CENTRAL COAST WINERIES: New Releases From Calera, Domaine Eden, Mount Eden Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, and Tablas Creek Vineyard
  42. BERNARD PORTET’S NEW WINEMAKING PROJECT, HERITANCE
  43. CALERA WINE COMPANY
  44. THE OJAI VINEYARD
  45. TYLER WINERY
  46. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL – VINTAGE 2011
  47. DOMAINE DONATSCH
  48. THE COMPLETE(R) STORY
  49. SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN VINEYARD & QUINTA CRUZ: TWO IN ONE
  50. THE BIG KAHUNA LINE UP
  51. RIDGE VINEYARDS
  52. AU BON CLIMAT & QUPÉ
  53. MOUNT EDEN VINEYARDS AND DOMAINE EDEN
  54. MOSEL VERSUS MONTRACHET
  55. JOSEPH SWAN: A CALIFORNIA WINE LEGEND
  56. SUMMERTIME IS ROSÉ TIME!
  57. IN PURSUIT OF BALANCE: A TRADE TASTING AND MORE
  58. SPRING HAS SPRUNG
  59. THE MAYACAMAS MOUNTAINS OF NAPA VALLEY & THREE PIONEER PRODUCERS
  60. STILL DON'T KNOW JURA? YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE MISSING!
  61. THREE CRU CLASSÉ LADIES OF THE COTES DE PROVENCE
  62. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL – VINTAGE 2010
  63. THE OJAI VINEYARD
  64. KUDOS FOR CALERA
  65. THE HOLY TRINITY OF WINERIES
  66. MOUNT EDEN VINEYARDS AND DOMAINE EDEN -- SOMETHING OLD AND SOMETHING NEW
  67. RIDGE VINEYARDS - UNCOMPROMISING QUALITY
  68. The Dueling Inexpensive Red Wine Line-Ups -- Which Ones Went To The Drinking Round And Which Ones Went Down The Drain?
  69. A Pair To Draw From – Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard and Quinta Cruz
  70. T FOR TWO – TABLAS CREEK AND TYLER TOO!
  71. Que Syrah, Syrah…Wherefore Art Thou?
  72. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL - VINTAGE 2009
  73. Is “Sanity” Returning To The Market?
  74. Under The Radar California Wines
  75. More 2009 Wines
  76. A Tale of Two California Wineries – One New, One Old
  77. There Was A Legacy
  78. Surprising New Wines from Old-World Spain
  79. 2009 Beaujolais
  80. Lemmings to the Sea?
  81. 2009 Rosé
  82. Dom Pérignon in the Napa Valley
  83. A Burgundy Story
  84. A Vineyard 29 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Retrospective Tasting
  85. Champagne or No?
  86. A Visit With Robert Lawrence Balzer -- Grand Ambassador of American Wine Culture
  87. Champagne -- The Wine of Kings

There Was A Legacy

Joel Fisher • 9/3/10        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

By Joel M. Fisher

If asked who The Wine Spectator anointed Dean of Wine Writers, who would be your guess? Robert Parker, perhaps? The answer is a name not heard enough these days: Robert Lawrence Balzer.

The onetime actor, aviator, media personage and Buddhist monk cut quite a figure in his day. Born in 1912, Balzer got his start in wine at his family’s famous gourmet grocery store in the Larchmont neighborhood of Los Angeles. At the age of 24 he was put charge of the store’s wine department. Balzer took this responsibility seriously, knew he had a lot to learn, and plunged into wine studies. He quickly realized two things: he loved sharing what he learned about wine with others, and he believed California wines to be world-class – back in the days when these were fighting words.

Over the years, Balzer steadily expanded his soapbox from the family store wine department to the media. He wrote for the Los Angeles Times and Holiday Magazine, and appeared on radio shows on such stations as KFI and K-Mozart. To help promote California wines, he supported or directed a slew of competitions including the Jerry Mead New World International Wine Competition, the Long Beach Grand Cru Wine Competition, and the New York Wine Tasting of 1973, which was the precursor for the famous Tasting of Paris. Impressively, he judged the Los Angeles County Fair Wine Competition (now the L.A. International Wine and Spirits Competition) for an astounding 61 years.

Ever prolific, Balzer has authored 11 books that stand the test of time. He organized the food and wine pairings at two presidential inaugurations – Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Last but not least, he taught appreciation classes at UC Irvine, UCLA, countless cruises, and the Queen Mary.

The man is tireless – and still going at age 98. I  witnessed a radio appearance of his last year. Over the last decade Balzer has racked up career accolades that celebrate his legacy of sharing his wine passion and knowledge. Wines and Vines Magazine named him Wine Writer of the Year in 1996. The Academy of Wine Communications gave him its annual Wine Communications Award in 1997. The Wine Appreciation Guild honored him with its Wine Literary Award in 2004. And as you now know, The Wine Spectator honored him with the appellation of “Dean of American Wine Writers” in 2002.

Perhaps the greatest honor, however, is just how many wine tasting groups Balzer inspired. Alums of his classes have been particularly prolific in establishing  their own groups. Balzer helped bring wine education and wine appreciation to an accessible level. Countless wine enthusiasts have benefited from and appreciated his message. As a self-taught wine man, Balzer can receive no greater honor.

Co-authored by Sara Fisher Chapin

Post a Comment

No comments so far for “There Was A Legacy”

Post a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.