John Duval made wine at Penfolds for 29 years. As chief winemaker there from 1986 to 2002, he was responsible for Australia's icon wine, Grange, before passing the baton to Penfolds' current chief, Peter Gago.
Vernon Rollins plunks his hands on the bar at New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro in Ashland, Oregon, which he has owned with his wife, Charlene, for 20 years. He makes a thumbs-up sign, to demonstrate how his right thumb is about twice as big at the base as his left thumb.
There’s more to think about when deciding if you want to buy a wine than simply comparing the scores and prices. Whether you use five stars to rate wine, pick a number from 1 to 10 or employ Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale, the numbers only tell you part of the story.
There wasn't any steelhead (a salmon-like fish) on the menu at the Steelhead Diner, but the halibut was terrific. So were the Totten Inlet oysters and the razor clam chowder. And if that weren't enough Pacific Northwest gastronomy, the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence-winning wine list of abut 120 wines offered nothing but Washington and Oregon wines.
When Mike Januik was running the winemaking show at Chateau Ste. Michelle in the 1990s, his wines were constantly among the leaders in a Washington state wine scene that was just beginning to achieve its potential.
Something an Oregon winemaker said to me on a recent visit has stuck in my mind, and it explains a lot about what's happening on the wine scene. We were talking about how many wineries, old and new, were competing for attention but how few were actually reaching a high standard, not just in Oregon but all over.
Every year I bring the wines for Thanksgiving dinner at the home of Paula and Ed, longtime friends with whom we have celebrated the holiday for years. From my mix of New World wines, Paula always gravitates toward the Australians.
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