The best way to learn how wines age is to drink older wines. Sure, you can trust the opinions of others who have experience with mature wines. But there’s nothing like firsthand knowledge. Every year I taste hundreds of aged wines in various settings.
Wines keep getting released earlier and earlier, and I'm not talking about Beaujolais Nouveau. Sometimes that’s a good thing, because you get a rare glimpse of fruit flavors that are so pure, vivid and distinctive.
Ryan MacDonnell stood next to a row of olive trees, which bumps up against a row of grapevines. The grapes are long gone, but the olive harvest is in full swing. MacDonnell, who wears two hats overseeing both Round Pond winery and its olive oil mill, is holding a dozen small berries that are about to be pressed into oil.
If you didn’t know better, you might think you'd just stepped into the vineyard from hell. It’s Nov. 27, a month after most of the grapes in Napa Valley have been picked, yet there are still grapes on the vines here in this rural Coombsville vineyard, hidden by a grove of trees east of Napa.
Harvest 2007 in California is mostly in the barn. But there are at least two crops that are still in play. One is late-harvest, dessert-wine bound grapes, such as Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. In some areas, winemakers are still waiting on late-ripeneing Gewürztraminer and Riesling grapes as well.
Meritage, a term coined to break the varietal jam among California’s Bordeaux-inspired reds and whites, is about to turn 20. Whether there’s reason to celebrate or not is our weekend food for thought.
Aaron Pott left a full-time winemaking position at Quintessa in Napa Valley last year to pursue a career as a consultant, and already he’s a busy man. He still has ties with Rutherford-based Quintessa, which focuses on its namesake Bordeaux-style red table wine, as well as a second label called Faust.
It’s not much wine but it will do. One barrel of 2006 Sauvignon Blanc and 11 barrels of 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, but that’s enough to get Celia Welch Masyczek’s new label, Corra, off the ground. I consider Masyczek one of California’s best winemakers.
Yesterday I did what some people think I do every day. I hung out with winemakers. At 9 a.m. I met Celia Welch Masyczek to barrel sample her 2006 Corra Napa Valley Cabernet (more on Corra tomorrow), and then, since she’s making her wine at Keever, a new winery in Yountville, I met the Keevers, toured their winery, saw their vineyard and tasted their wines.
Where do we come up with some of our wine descriptors? Many of our taste memories are tied to our youth and early taste sensations and they stick with us. I can still think back to feeding ducks and geese as a kid, and later with my own kids, and I know a duck pond when I smell it.
Saxum has a new-look label, with wood block prints. But more importantly, the new releases are its best wines ever. Aside from winemaker Justin Smith’s personal achievements , which are momentous, his wines are vital to his hometown of Paso Robles because they show what can be accomplished in this still new and evolving appellation.
When Behrens & Hitchcock dissolved their partnership in 2005, ending a run of both classy and racy red wines, Les Behrens and his wife, Lisa Drinkward, took over the Spring Mountain winery and reinvented themselves as Erna Schein Handcrafted Wines.
Each new day brings at least one new label, and two of the wines that stood out in yesterday’s blind tasting came from a name that’s new to me: Terry Hoage Vineyards. The wines alone would have merited mention.
Escalating land and grape prices in Napa and Sonoma have led many North Coast vintners to Lake County grapes, which typically sell for about one-third of Napa’s top varieties. Easy math means the wines can sell for about one-third as well.
I missed the debate about wine closures in Napa on Oct. 27, which featured To Cork or Not to Cork author George M. Taber , along with other industry experts, who discussed twist offs and synthetic closures.
I’ve noticed in recent weeks that more people in the industry are talking about "high-end" bottles and how much they weigh and how awkward they are to pour. There’s also the issue of drinking from a heavy bottle … you always think there’s more wine in it even when it’s empty.
The winemaker wanted to know why I’d rated his wine in the 70s, or “mediocre” on our 100-point scale. The rating had just appeared in the magazine, but without a tasting note. That’s because we no longer publish complete reviews for all wines.
Of all the comments and exchanges I had with readers at the New York Wine Experience, these three surprised me most. One reader approached me at one of the Grand Tastings to complain about ratings—not low ones, and not high ones, but ones that weren’t high enough.
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