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Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Charles Smith Plants His Flag in Seattle

New winery to have a big presence south of the city

Posted: September 19, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

Charles Smith has made some bold moves in his life, as he recounted in my profile of the Washington vintner in the Oct. 15 issue of Wine Spectator ("Marching to His Own Drummer"), but moving his base of operations from Walla Walla wine country to Seattle may be the biggest.

When I visited, Smith unlocked the unimposing front door of the warehouse he purchased earlier this year, walked me through a warren of deserted offices into the airplane hangar-sized space that's perfect for a functional and versatile winery. Charles Smith Wines has outgrown its patched-together warehouse winery in downtown Walla Walla.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

A Quarterback Finds His Target

Drew Bledsoe's Doubleback gains yardage—er, acreage—in Walla Walla

Posted: September 17, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

On a warm September afternoon, Drew Bledsoe stood in an acre of closely cropped grass. The ex-NFL star quarterback adjusted his sunglasses and surveyed the field, only he wasn't looking over a menacing defense but rows and rows of young grapevines. Their purple bunches of Cabernet Sauvignon stood out against close-cropped green canopies cascading down a steep north-facing slope. In the distance, buildings in the town of Walla Walla reflected the afternoon sun.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Terroir on a Big Scale

Millbrandt winemaker explores what it means in Washington

Posted: September 9, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

There are those who say only steely, lean wines can express terroir, but the style of Millbrandt's Chardonnay The Estates 2013 ($20) runs counter to that. This is a rich, plush Washington white, but the spicy aromatics and creamy texture play against vibrant acidity, a core of peach and melon finishing with length and a sense of elegance.

Millbrandt, a big vineyard owner in eastern Washington, sells grapes to a roster of A-list wineries, and makes its own wines as well. The Estates Chardonnay comes from its Evergreen Vineyard in the cool-climate Ancient Lakes AVA. It lies on shallow soils littered with chalk and limestone that are earning a reputation for crisp, minerally white wines. You can taste it in this wine.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Is That Apricot in My Pinot Noir?

Looking for the unexpected when tasting wine

Posted: September 4, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

As I tasted through an impressive array of 2012 Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs last week, my nose picked up unexpected aromatics. In one I smelled apricots. In another, unmistakable nuances of pineapple and coconut. Fresh lime zest informed the character of a third red, an expression of the wine's lively acid balance. These are attributes most of us associate with white wines.

Pinot Noir famously and notoriously produces unusual flavors and aromatics. The usual catalog of red and black fruits, earth and spice notes may not be all that's there. As a wine critic, I should home in on what distinguishes the wine before me from all the others. It could be structural, or textural. Or an unexpected flavor note.

Aug. 31, 2014 Issue  :  Features

Saison

A wine supernova in San Francisco

Posted: August 31, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

Aug. 31, 2014 Issue  :  Tasting Reports

Overachievers Down Under

Posted: August 31, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

Aug. 31, 2014 Issue  :  People

Singing the Sea

Chef Eric Ripert uses the ocean's bounty to create beauty and harmony at Le Bernardin

Posted: August 31, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

Aug. 31, 2014 Issue  :  Tasting Reports

Cabernet On the Rise

Shiraz still dominates Australian exports, but the country's No. 2 red is coming on strong

Posted: August 31, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Looking back at Two Hands' Ares

After a dozen vintages, this Australian Shiraz has the goods


Posted: August 22, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

I recently had a chance to blind-taste all 12 finished and bottled vintages of Two Hands Ares, one of Australia's top Shiraz, with owner Michael Twelftree at Aspen's Casa Tua restaurant, with the help of sommelier Jill Zimorski.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Two Offbeat Wines Please a Crowd

Using insider knowledge to find a wine list's sweet spot

Posted: August 6, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

The wine list was in my hands, often the case when a bunch of us go out to dine. Comes with the work title. Champagne would have been easy to start with, but I was looking for something closer to $50 (not $100) that might be fun and delicious, and not an obvious choice. Two offbeat selections—a white from Oregon and a Nebbiolo from Italy—fit the bill.

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