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james laube's wine flights archive

Photo by: Greg Gorman
James Laube

December 2011

It's a Good Time to Be a Wine Lover
Wines from all over the world are better than any time in history, and the increased competition is keeping prices in check
Posted: Dec 29, 2011 3:30pm ET

Most of you already know this, but it bears repeating. The big story in wine is the one in your glass. We're drinking the greatest wines ever made, and they will only get better.

New and better wines keep coming from everywhere and anywhere. Because of that competition in the market, prices for many wines are not only stable, but also coming down. Maybe not for the most sought-after wines, those with a special cachet. Demand for those wines is so frenzied as to support prices at the highest levels.

No, the action is more in the middle ground, where wines with little or no pedigree size up favorably with the elite.

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A Petite Sirah What If ...
California's underdog grape can do amazing things in the right place and the right hands
Posted: Dec 19, 2011 11:30am ET

If only most Petite Sirahs were as delicious and refined, rich and graceful as the 2009 Relic Napa Valley Old Vines Petite from Frediani Vineyard ($52, 198 cases made). Maybe then people would have a different take on this old-time underdog grape, and Napa Valley for that matter. Petite Sirah is one of wine's unsung heroes, almost always an afterthought grape, except for from sites like Frediani Vineyard in Calistoga. It's a vine that owes its heritage to the mix of grapes that hail from France's Southern Rhône Valley. Most of the praise—here as in there—goes to the better-known and more popular Syrahs and Grenaches and blends that hail from there.

That won't change, but one sip of this wine will give you a new appreciation for Petite Sirah presented in a supple, fleshy, deeply fruited style.

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Exclusive: Uncovering the Secret Buyers of Robert Mondavi's Home
Boisset and Gallo confirmed to be the winning bidders
Posted: Dec 14, 2011 8:00am ET
Word has leaked out that Jean-Charles Boisset and Gina Gallo have purchased the former residence of Robert Mondavi in Napa Valley. The 55-acre property in Yountville where the famous vintner and his wife, Margrit, resided for years came on the market in 2010 for $25 million. The price was cut first to $20 million and then later to $13.9 million in a sealed bid sale this fall, in which the buyers were not publicly identified. Boisset and Gallo wanted to keep the matter private, but that would have been difficult. They are two of the biggest names in wine, and both companies that share their names have been busy of late.
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Silver Oak's Golden Rules
The Napa- and Sonoma-based Cabernets have maintained a legion of cult-like fans for nearly 40 years with a consistent, drinkable style
Posted: Dec 7, 2011 12:30pm ET

Silver Oak is one of the most recognizable names in wine. You can spot a bottle on a dining table from 50 paces.

It is also one of California's most successful wineries for a variety of reasons. It has become a textbook example of how to do it right, from wine and style and image to sales and marketing.

It has maintained a distinct style that hasn't wavered much over the years. It has, rather amazingly, retained a cult-like following, which might shock most people considering the term cult today means high-quality, high-priced, hard-go-get wines and Silver Oak is practically a factory. You can find it in multitudes of retailing and fine-dining establishments.

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