Posted: January 31, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
He did not seem like a revolutionary when I met Antonio Mastroberardino, who died this week at age 86, nearly 30 years ago. He carried himself with almost a regal bearing. Quiet-spoken, he matter-of-factly explained why he chose to focus his family's vineyards and wines on grapes hardly anyone on this side of the Atlantic knew: Fiano, Greco and, especially, Aglianico.
His son Carlo, who was with him on a tour of the U.S., really did look like a firebrand, intense, vigorous, single-mindedly pushing the notion that his region's historic grape varieties could and should stand on their own. It's difficult to underestimate the importance of that approach.
Posted: January 22, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
Australian wine is gaining the attention of American wine drinkers again, significantly that of the gatekeepers: wine merchants, sommeliers and writers.
The reasons for Australia's slide in these parts from 2008 to 2012 probably involve some combination of their own overreach and a wine-drinking public's fascination with some other Next Big Thing. Whatever, every Aussie winemaker I've met trying to sell their wares in the U.S. this past year has spoken of doors opening that had been shut to them.
Posted: January 14, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
Victor Hazan's late wife, Marcella, whose cookbooks have afforded me no end of pleasure, taught many of us about Italian food. Victor often supplied the wine-half of the equation, but he was no stranger to foodways himself. Since Marcella's death last year, he has been writing occasional posts to thousands of followers of her Facebook account. At first he penned eloquent reminiscences about Marcella. Lately he has been commenting on cuisine.
This past week he stirred up a bit of a reflexive firestorm among his Facebook friends. Inspired by a photo of New York's new mayor, Bill di Blasio, eating pizza with a knife and fork, he waded into the age-old debate over the best way to consume Italy's signature flatbread.
Posted: December 31, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
Posted: December 23, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
Posted: December 13, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
Posted: December 12, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
One of the comments on my blog last week about UC Davis' study on microbes and terroir reminded me why this is such a slippery concept. It shouldn't be, but it is.
Some see terroir, the idea that wine profoundly reflects the place where the grapes to make it grew, as wine's be-all and end-all. Call me simple-minded, but let's not lose sight of the fact that wine's first duty is to please our taste buds. If it can do that and also express the nuances of flavor and texture of a certain site, all the better.
Posted: December 3, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
Last week the University of California at Davis announced its latest research into terroir, that elusive concept that says wine profoundly reflects the place where the grapes it's made from grew. And now we're all trying to figure out what it means. So, I should add, are the scientists who did the study.
Prof. David Mills analyzed the mix of fungi and bacteria in crushed grapes from widely spread vineyards in Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast. By sequencing genes in 273 different lots over two vintages, he and his colleagues found that the microbe communities fell into distinct and predictable patterns depending on their location and grape variety. Intriguingly, the communities in Sonoma looked very different from those in Napa, and Sonoma showed more similarities to Central Coast than it did to Napa.
The big question is what this means for wine.
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