james laube

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Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

An Early Look at 2011 Napa Cabernets

A mixed vintage is off the pace, but stars can be found

Posted: July 15, 2014  By James Laube

To best appreciate how far viticultural and winemaking practices have come in the past decade, one need look no further than the 2011 Napa Valley Cabernets.

By most accounts this was the most damning vintage in perhaps 15 years. An altogether cool, damp year ended with heavy storms, and by some estimates as much as 50 percent of the grapes were of little or no use. I've talked with vintners who made about one-fourth of what they might have in a better year. Severe thinning led to a quarter-ton or less per acre. Thinning proved a winning strategy if only to salvage what might otherwise have been a dismal year. But based on nearly 200 reviews, the quality of the 2011 Napa Cabernets ranges from fair to, on a few occasions, outstanding.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Taking Twist-Offs on the High Seas

Alternative closures minimize the chance of a faulty wine

Posted: July 2, 2014  By James Laube

When I travel with wine, I prefer bottles with twist-off seals. That shouldn't come as a surprise to any regular readers of this blog or my magazine column. I'm convinced of the validity of twisties, and hauling around a case of them gives me a chance to test my own belief.

I recently spent a week on the Pacific on a fishing boat half-way down the Baja California coast, and the captain and the owners of the Sojourn, out of San Diego, all but encouraged anglers to BYOW, since that was one item they didn't stock (the meals, by the way, were excellent).

June 30, 2014 Issue  :  Columns

Lost and Found in Sicily

Posted: June 30, 2014  By James Laube

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Understanding How Wine Moves Around

Distribution is a major obstacle for most small vintners

Posted: June 24, 2014  By James Laube

If you want an unsullied perspective on perhaps the major challenge facing any vintner, it's worth reading Bill Foley's comments on the distribution system in one of last week's Shanken News Daily reports (one of Wine Spectator's sister publications).

While wineries can sell direct to consumers in many states, most at one level or another require a distributor to handle their wines in some markets. Foley realized that early on and owns a stake in a distribution company, Epic Wines. His company, Foley Family Wineries, accounts for about 20 percent of Epic's business.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Educated Guesses About a Vintage’s Future

There's no scientific method to predicting how a wine will age

Posted: June 19, 2014  By James Laube

The Educated Guess cuvée gets its name from the many best-guess scenarios that arise during the winemaking process, from when to pick the grapes to how long to age the wine in barrel, the bottom line being that there's no scientific formula for delivering the best wine that the owners of Roots Run Deep winery can. They use their knowledge, intuition and experience to make the best decisions for their wine, allowing too that at the end of the day it's still merely an educated guess.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

2012 California Pinot Noir: A Struggle for Ripeness

After tasting more than 400 California Pinot Noirs from the 2012 vintage, a profile takes shape

Posted: June 16, 2014  By James Laube

The 2011 and 2012 Pinot Noir harvests in California could hardly have been more different. In 2012, the weather was ideal from start to finish, but that's only part of the story. Despite superior weather, the wines are not head-and-shoulders above 2011, and the reason has much to do with yields.

June 15, 2014 Issue  :  Columns

Mission Accomplished

Posted: June 15, 2014  By James Laube

June 15, 2014 Issue  :  Features

Keplinger: All Systems Go

Posted: June 15, 2014  By James Laube

June 15, 2014 Issue  :  Features

Dreaming of Grenache

California rising star Helen Keplinger has pursued this finicky grape from Spain to the Sierra Foothills

Posted: June 15, 2014  By James Laube

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Napa's BottleRock Pairs Aging Classics with Fresh Acts

It's better to catch an older band than none at all, but like wine, they're best experienced in their prime

Posted: June 3, 2014  By James Laube

Just like that, BottleRock came and went. The three-day music festival in Napa attracted tens of thousands to hear 60 bands, from cutting edge Indies to aging rockers, perform on four stages at the Napa Valley Expo.

Watching acts from yesteryear has limited appeal to me. Occasionally I attend concerts by performers decades past their heyday, and when they're on they can be inspiring. Usually, though, I'm disappointed, and almost always find myself thinking they were so much better in their prime. It reminds me of the way some people act when they extol a wine made decades ago.

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