There are great wines. There are classic wines. And then there are benchmark wines. There are numerous great wines, thanks to better viticulture, better winemaking techniques and increased competition.
I sat down with Kevin Arnold, winemaker and co-owner at South Africa’s Waterford winery, the other day in Wine Spectator 's New York office. Arnold, 52, is one of the many Cape winemakers who are making a real effort to work the U.
I always have a tough time deciding when to decant a wine. There are no hard and fast rules. Decanting big, young, tannic reds makes sense on the surface, but I actually prefer to watch a young wine develop in the glass rather than miss out on it while it sits in a decanter.
It's my last day in Châteauneuf, so I geared down a bit and went to three domaines that specialize in making silky, perfumed wines. I figured that if the elegance of the three domaines could still shine through after a week of tasting big, structured wines at other domaines, I’d know my palate wasn’t shot yet.
Today was warm and sunny, an ideal Provençal June day. So nice, in fact, that I parked my car in the center of town and walked to my first three appointments. The better to offset the foie gras with, I told myself.
Today's schedule was for a quartet of some the appellation’s most consistent and distinguished producers, starting with an early morning visit with Vincent Avril at Clos des Papes. Construction on the collapsed cellar wall and new cellar continues here.
At 10 a.m., I rang the doorbell at Henri Bonneau ’s modest house, located across the street from the town church. The doorbell must be connected, since the church bells started ringing right at the same time.
The mistral made an appearance today, with a strong wind that constantly rustled the cypress trees, lavender bushes and other foliage in the garden here at Auberge de Cassagne. It quickly dried the rain that fell overnight and freshened the air that had been slightly humid.
Quick: What do Clos St.-Jean, Domaine du Grand Tinel, Domaine Olivier Hillaire, Bosquet des Papes, Clos du Mont-Olivet, Château de Vaudieu, Jean Royer, Domaine Vacheron-Pouizin, Domaine Giraud, Domaine St.-Préfert, Le Vieux Donjon and Tardieu-Laurent all have in common?
Yes, they all make Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Yes, they all make excellent wine. But those aren’t the answers I’m looking for. Stumped?
I'm off to Châteauneuf-du-Pape again. Marvin was joking with me yesterday that he should put travel restrictions on me, as I seem to be in the Rhône a lot these days. It does seem like I was just there: My last trip was back in November , and I focused primarily on the 2005s from the northern end of the valley ( big, tannic wines that will need cellaring ).
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