The first time I met Russell Bevan , several years ago in St. Helena, he and his merry band of wine-drinking pranksters were zigzagging through Napa and Sonoma counties on what might be described as an open-throttle, no-holds-barred, burn the candle at both ends tour de force food-and-wine tasting extravaganza.
I’m not as surprised as I used to be when I encounter a new (to me) Pinot Noir from an area not known for this varietal. I once scoffed at many from California, Oregon and New Zealand, but no more. So when I was recently poured a glass of 2004 Pinot that was dark colored, rich and layered, with spicy floral wild berry, fresh earth and savory herb flavors, it showed enough of a mix of flavors to make me think Carneros or Santa Cruz Mountains.
No one who farms grapes for a living is happy with recent spring frosts throughout California, which have been widespread and devastating by most accounts, extending from Anderson Valley in Mendocino to Santa Barbara in the south.
One of the wine industry’s most strictly adhered-to codes of honor is protecting where bulk, or excess, wine is sold. Most unwanted wine comes from big producers and ends up in négociant labels, such as Two-Buck Chuck.
M by Michael Mondavi is the name of the new Napa Valley Cabernet, made by the former chairman of Robert Mondavi Corp. and his family. It’s been a long time since Michael Mondavi, 65, has been this hands on with winemaking, and he seems happy about that.
Today is a share day, with me passing along a note from a winemaker, Wes Hagen at Clos Pepe , who once wanted to be a writer, and once you read this, perhaps you’ll understand why. It’s a bit of a contrarian view on the vintage, from my perspective, but this is offered in the spirit of sharing from a die-hard Pinot lover.
Cork taint can be a can of worms. Several readers have accurately addressed most of the questions posed here since Friday's blog entry, " Corks Worse Problem as Price Increases." Daniel points out that Wine Spectator has covered cork-related issues extensively, not only in the context of TCA-infected corks, but also about instances of entire wineries having been affected.
We re-crunched the numbers and percentages of corked wines by wine price range and, based on our limited samplings, it’s actually worse than we thought. Yesterday’s blog was intended to simply look at corked wines across price points, using the assumption that expensive wines have more expensive corks and inexpensive wines use cheaper corks.
In conversations about corks with winemakers, one refrain I often hear is that if a winery buys more expensive corks, it gets superior quality. I’ve also heard from winemakers, and cork manufacturers, that the incidence of TCA-tainted corks (which impart a musty, moldy flavor to wine) is just as high for the most expensive corks as for the least expensive.
Yesterday was video day in Napa and Sonoma. Gloria Maroti Frazee, director of education for Wine Spectator School, spent the day with some of our staff, working on features that will run online in conjunction with the magazine stories.
Perhaps the easiest target for wine critics is wine pricing. Most of us have come to believe and appreciate that the market rules of supply and demand account for much of what is charged for wine, whether it’s sold from a mailing list or restaurant.
I woke up this morning to an empty, sediment-stained bottle of 1957 La Tâche on the kitchen table, bottle number 00010 of 18,848 bottles. That means it came from the first case of that fabled wine, of which some 1,570 12-packs were produced.
I’m often at a loss trying to explain celebrity winemakers , since their wines rarely excite and more often are likely to disappoint. I remember thinking that, upon reviewing one of Mick Fleetwood’s wines, that that particular rock star-turned-vintner had better not misplace his sticks.
When Michael Terrien left Acacia to become winemaker at Hanzell Vineyards, he was forced to rethink winemaking. He went from a winery in Carneros that emphasized early drinking Chardonnays that were ready on release to one with a tradition of slow developing Chardonnays that aged exceptionally well.
A common winemaker adage is that their wines are like their children. There are no favorites. Each is unique. Each has its own personality and it’s impossible to choose one over the other. Here’s my corollary counterpoint: Winemakers are far more complex than their wines.
Whew. We’re finally finished tasting California Chardonnay for this year’s report. It’s been a long, occasionally grueling exercise, tasting some 425 new releases since last year, with most of the wines from 2006 along with a few stragglers from 2005.
Barney Rhodes , a great wine connoisseur and owner of Bella Oaks Vineyard in Napa Valley, died today at age 88 after a brief illness. His wife, Belle, died last year. Barney and Belle moved to Napa in the early 1960s and planted their first vineyard in Oakville, which later became known as Martha’s Vineyard, a Cabernet that became one of the most famous wines in America.
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