Do you have a favorite wine type to drink with oysters? Some classicists insist on Muscadet. I prefer New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, although the more Spanish Albariños I try the more I like them too. This past week I had several opportunities to taste different wines with my favorite bivalves.
High-end restaurants looking for ways to draw customers reluctant to splurge these days might take a cue from Jean Joho. The chef and founder of Everest in Chicago, a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner for its wine list, has long displayed a personal interest in wine.
There are times when I take a few sips of a Pinot Noir from New Zealand and think the Kiwis have discovered the road to nirvana for this notoriously finicky grape. And then I hit a few speed bumps. A few weeks ago a group from Central Otago, currently the darling of Kiwi Pinot regions, put on a tutored tasting in San Francisco to demonstrate their sub-regions.
Max Lake died last week at the age of 84. There are many reasons to fondly recall the Australian vintner, author and erstwhile hand surgeon. But for me, he should be remembered most for opening the door to a new era in Australian wine when, in 1963, he planted Hunter Valley's first new vineyard of the 20th century, and started the first new winery there.
The news that Australia's nascent infatuation with Albariño is a case of mistaken identity reminds me of several other cases of grape misidentification that periodically bedevil some corner of the wine world.
Charles Smith kind of sneaked up on the Washington wine industry. The frizzy-haired ex-rock manager had never made wine when he opened the doors on his funky shed of a winery in 2001. Winemaking errors meant that some of his early bottlings were funkier than the shed, but the good ones were startling in their depth and character.
Ron and Susan Bunnell not only have one of the hottest new wineries in Washington (check out the raft of great ratings for their Bunnell Family Cellars and value-oriented RiverAerie Vineyards ), they may have come up with a destination for pizza lovers, too.
Those of us who cellar wine for future drinking do so in part because the extra years mellow the wines, and theoretically make them friendlier for food. That plan cuts both ways, however. As wines age they become less overt in their characteristics.
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, a few intrepid food-obsessed souls made it a point to eat at all the restaurants in France currently holding three-star ratings in the Michelin Guide. My colleagues James Suckling and Thomas Matthews did their version of this tummy pilgrimage in 1996, assessing 21 restaurants in 21 days.
In late September, Oregon vintners bit their nails nervously as rain approached to dump on their not-yet-ripe grapes. At that moment 2008 looked like a disaster in the making. The late, cool growing season could wash away with the deluge.
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