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Posted: January 7, 2013 By Talia Baiocchi
I don't know a lot of things, but I do know that decisions are hard and adulthood isn't exactly as advertised. I also realize how right my grandfather was when he said to me, when I was seven years old, "Don't worry, 'cause nothing's gonna be OK." He was a cynic, no doubt, and it was a half-humored resignation to doom and disappointment, but I interpret it differently. I see it as a wise acknowledgement that things never really go according to plan. Timing isn't everything; rolling with it is.
This is my eleventh column for Wine Spectator and, sadly, as less-than-ideal timing would have it, it's also my last.
Posted: December 31, 2012 By Talia Baiocchi
On Saturday, Dec. 15, Gilt restaurant, which earned a Wine Spectator Grand Award for its wine list in 2011, closed its doors for good.
The restaurant, located in the New York Palace Hotel, joins chef Alain Ducasse's Adour at the St. Regis and chef Joël Robuchon's L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon inside the Four Seasons as the third fine-dining restaurant lodged inside a luxury New York hotel to close this year.
In a city where chef's counters are the new fine dining and white tablecloths are practically extinct below 14th Street, upscale hotel bars and restaurants are forced to rethink their approach to drinking and dining. And Gilt beverage director Patrick Cappiello will be keeping that in mind as he plans to restore the Palace Hotel's Villard Bar to its former glory.
Posted: December 24, 2012 By Talia Baiocchi
Thomas Calder may be one of the most important men in French wine you've never heard of. He's an American export agent living in Paris who, like many brokers, is the forgotten link in the caravan of characters responsible for bringing wine from a vintner's cellar to our homes.
He has "discovered" (and he insists the word be wrapped in quotes) some of Champagne's brightest new stars like Cédric Bouchard (Infloresence and Roses de Jeanne), Dominique Moreau of Marie Courtin, Emmanuel Lassaigne of Champagne Jacques Lassaigne and Jérôme Prévost (La Closerie). Beyond Champagne, he represents Gerard Boulay in Sancerre, Vincent Paris in the Northern Rhône and Thomas Pico of Domaine Pattes Loup in Chablis, along with several others that make for a book that represents a new generation of classic French vignerons.
Posted: December 17, 2012 By Talia Baiocchi
The last time I held a zine in my hands was in the late 1990s, at the Doheny Days Music Festival in Dana Point, Calif. It was an adorably lo-fi, black-and-white ska zine given to me by a dude wearing eyeliner and a chain wallet, a bidi nearly burning his lips. (Back then, that was my idea of a heartthrob.) But ever since the Internet came along, self-published, paper-based zines—which found their apex in the 1960s and 1970s, covering everything from politics to sex to punk rock—have mostly become virtual.
So imagine my surprise when Loam Baby, a new wine zine published anonymously under the pseudonym R.H. Drexel, arrived in my mailbox.
Posted: December 10, 2012 By Talia Baiocchi
Five years ago, the Jura wasn't on Guillaume d'Angerville's mind. But on a visit to one of his favorite Paris restaurants, the eminent Burgundian vintner became fascinated by this lesser-known French wine region.
"I tasted this bottle blind in a restaurant in Paris that I often go to," said d'Angerville, who produces red and white Burgundies under the revered Marquis d'Angerville label. "I always tell the sommelier to give me something blind and the only rule is that it has to be outside Burgundy. When he brought me this wine, I said, 'You forgot the rule, you brought me a wine from Burgundy.' And he said, 'I am afraid you're wrong.'"
That bottle was the André & Mireille Tissot Chardonnay Arbois Les Bruyères 2005. It set d'Angerville on a path that would lead to the acquisition of two Jura vineyards, both about a mile and a half from the town of Arbois.
Posted: December 3, 2012 By Talia Baiocchi
At first glance, it may seem like the cocktail movement is from Mars and wine is from Venus. Despite the growing diversity of the cocktail world-and the highbrow/lowbrow factions that have formed within it-it's still associated with a certain edginess and energy that may appear at odds with the more buttoned-up, bourgie image that wine has been stuck with.
But are these two worlds really at odds? Or, better question: Do they have to be? A new generation of sommeliers, bartenders and restaurateurs is trying to find common ground between the two cultures.
Posted: November 26, 2012 By Talia Baiocchi
What do you do when a 5-foot wall of water comes crashing through the front door of your winery, carrying several barrel-sized concrete planters along with it?
It's not a question that most wineries need to ponder. But that's exactly what happened to Red Hook Winery on the night that Hurricane Sandy backhanded the tristate area.
The winery is located in the isolated Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, which sits on low ground abutting New York Harbor. It had recently moved to a waterfront warehouse on Pier 41, overlooking Lady Liberty, and was directly in the line of fire when Sandy sent a surge of saltwater up underneath the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and through the harbor, flooding Red Hook, Lower Manhattan and the East Village.
Posted: November 19, 2012 By Talia Baiocchi
Last week I touched on "balance" as a word that's become increasingly polemical, particularly in California, where the growing movement toward lower-alcohol wines has been branded as a movement toward balance.
The problem is, this movement has largely been defined by what restraint (a word that's become synonymous with balance in this case) looks like in Pinot Noir, not grapes like Zinfandel or Grenache. Enter Mosel Riesling. If Zinfandel's stigma is its natural ability to accumulate higher alcohol, Mosel Riesling's is its sugar levels. In post-white Zinfandel America, the word "sweet" has been vilified, to a degree (lest we forget that Moscato is having a moment), as a word synonymous with cheap, low-quality wine.
Posted: November 12, 2012 By Talia Baiocchi
Balance in wine, as most of us describe it, is the harmony of fruit, acid, tannins and alcohol, such that no one component is all elbow, so to speak. Sounds agreeable, but the word balance—and what it implies in the modern wine world—has become a more complex and symbolic topic than that description suggests. And generalizing what balance means in wine, whether via degrees alcohol or grams of residual sugar, has become risky business.
The word balance in California, for example, has come to symbolize a movement toward restraint and lower alcohol levels, particularly in Pinot Noir. Rajat Parr, one of the wine world's most respected sommeliers and the beverage director at the Michael Mina Group, has earned three Wine Spectator Grand Awards for his wine lists. He has also become infamous for refusing to sell Pinot Noir that clocks in over 14 percent alcohol at RN74 in San Francisco and has started an organization called In Pursuit of Balance, along with Jasmine Hirsch, of Hirsch Winery in Sonoma. It's composed of producers making Pinot Noir and Chardonnay who are advocates for balance, which they believe is achieved at lower alcohol levels (though the percentage is not precisely defined).
Posted: November 6, 2012 By Talia Baiocchi
If you ask a collector, a wine writer or a sommelier how they got into wine, the immediate inclination is to fish out an epiphany. It often begins with a bottle of very expensive wine that someone slipped into their glass at a restaurant or a dinner party, or that time a bottle of Chave Hermitage made them see unicorns and hear Bach. Taste is certainly powerful enough to fuel a love of wine. But the choice to collect it or choose a career in it is about much more than that.
I myself never saw unicorns. I grew up around wine, but not great wine by any stretch. My parents drank it every day, and we had a wine cellar, but they never did like the concept of expensive wine, let alone expensive wine they couldn't drink for a decade or more.
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