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stirring the lees with james molesworth

My Holiday Wishes...

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Dec 21, 2006 9:39am ET

With the holidays here, I thought a few wishes were in order. I've been pretty good this year, so hopefully Santa is listening right now...

I wish more restaurants offered free corkage once a week. If they would just pick their slowest night of the week, and then allow anyone to bring in a bottle for no charge, my guess is they would double the covers they usually get on that night. They would also develop a loyal following among the wine and food geek crowd. Wouldn't we go out to dinner more often, if we knew we could go to a restaurant with our own wine, and not feel like we're crashing the party? Imagine if a high-end restaurant like Daniel took the lead here. (I can't ever bring myself to eat again at places where I know how soaked I'll get for a bottle of wine.)

I wish I could find a way to grow winter truffles right in my own backyard, and do it year-round.

I wish for more screw caps on whites and reds. Anything meant to be consumed within a year should have a screw cap, plain and simple. That takes the drain off the cork supply, and allows for more mature cork bark to be harvested for bottles meant for long-term aging. (I love the idea of screw cap freshness for wines not meant to age, but am not yet completely sold on the long term benefits of wine under screw cap). How about Georges Duboeuf leading the way here—isn't it time to put Beaujolais Nouveau under screw cap?

I wish everyone would try something new once a month. Try a wine you've never heard of, from a region you know nothing about. By the end of the year, you'll have had a case of wine that broadens your knowledge and tastes. From Greece to South Africa. From the Santa Rita Hills to Corbières. There's so much out there—don't miss it because you got stuck with your usual favorites.

I wish every retailer would take the time to install temperature-controlled storage in his or her cellar. Why do wines taste better when you taste them at the winery where they were made? Because they haven't been cooked in a retailer's basement before you bought them, that's why. It only costs a few thousand dollars to insulate a room and install a decent cooling system. Any serious collector does it for his wine—why don't retailers do it for their wines? If they did, I'm sure their customers would thank them with their loyalty—which is something to consider as more people turn to the Internet to buy their wines, in search of the cheapest price.

And while we're on storage, I wish importers and distributors would start taking better care of their wines as well. Too many still don't use refrigerated containers to bring the wines into the country. And even if they do, just a few hours waiting on the dock before being loaded onto unrefrigerated trucks to head to the unrefrigerated distributor's warehouse is all it takes to ruin good wine. Is a bonded, temperature-controlled warehouse and refrigerated trucks really that much to ask? Importers and distributors make a healthy profit off the hard work of winemakers—so it should be their responsibility to ensure that hard work doesn't turn into rhubarb-juice because of poor handling.

I wish that Châteauneuf-du-Pape's hot streak continues for a while longer. There hasn't been a less-than-outstanding vintage since 1998, save for 2002. Including the promising 2006s, that's eight out of nine vintages. When is the last time a major wine region could say that? I haven't had this much fun building verticals in my cellar since, well, never...

For my last wish, I wish that none of your (or my) wines are corked, and that you all have a happy and healthy holiday season!

And if you've got a holiday wish for the wine world, let me know. Santa reads everything...

Troy Peterson
Burbank, CA —  December 21, 2006 12:14pm ET
I wish I had a pony.... I wholeheartedly endorse the refrigeration issues. From importers to retailers, I'm appalled at how many fantastic wines are ruined just to save a few pennies on the margin. All that care taken in the vineyard and the winery's cellar, for years, and these bozos screw it up in just a few weeks. Retailers/distributors need to push back on the importers. The only way they'll do that is if we as consumers push on the retailers. I'm not allowed in their cellars, but I no longer shop at retailers whose display areas are over 70 degrees and I let them know this. I hope everyone else does the same starting in 2007.
Jason Kadushin
Seattle, WA —  December 21, 2006 1:47pm ET
I wish American wines weren't skyrocketing in price - from Napa to Oregon to Washington state. I also wish that all high end restaurants would better educate their wait staff on wine so that there wasn't the "one" person who knew about it.
Glenn S Lucash
December 21, 2006 3:57pm ET
I wish I had a pony....... that won the Kentucky Derby. That's the only way I would be able to afford all the wines James Suckling drinks!!!
Kirk R Grant
Ellsworth, ME —  December 21, 2006 4:26pm ET
I wish the state of Maine didn't have a law against a wine bar/retail store being side by side. I wish more states would follow NH and offer discount wine stores. I wish global warming wasn't going to alter the great growing regions of the world in the next 20-25 years....but it will. I wish people would open their minds to trying wines that are not 90+ points...there are some amazing wines out there that fall short on the rating scheme...James, you commented recently that a wine you rated 90 was showing better...is it possible that this happens more often that just once or twice a year? Ok, ok...one last one. I wish that some wineries would stick to the "old" methods that have worked for decades. Is it possible that they knew what they were doing back in 1945 and 1961 when they didn't micro-oxygenate their wine just to make it more accessible at an earlier time frame?
Berry Crawford
December 21, 2006 6:10pm ET
I wish that I can find more obscure Pinot producers who make great wine that is a great value that havent been discovered yet by parker or winespectator. Found a new one last night! Yummy.
Wes Sircable
Fullerton, CA  —  December 22, 2006 4:07am ET
I wish I could walk up Hermitage hill and kick rolled stones around CDP....James, I'm a truffle neophite, but my wife just cooked us an awsome meal of Rigatoni with Truffles and Kielbasa. The truffles were Oregon white truffles which were hunted for and harvested by Jack Czarnecki, the owner of The Joel Palmer House in the Willamette Valley. He's also the author of the cookbook for the recipe. I was blown away with the flavors of this fungi and the sensory pleasures they evoked. I am a true believer! The meal paired perfectly with a Domaine Serene Pinot. Are these truffles the real deal or only a hint at greatness? Wow!
Daniel Villiers
Boston, MA —  December 22, 2006 7:11am ET
I wish Costco sold CdeP. I wish half bottles were 50% cheaper than regular bottles. I wish good burgandies were cheaper. I wish I had known 5 years ago that the '97 bottle of Cinq C¿ges I had last night was corked. I wish I was the entrepeneur who started winecommune. I wish my wife liked wine.
Daniel Villiers
Boston, MA —  December 22, 2006 7:14am ET
Hi James,Do you or any of your readers on this site know a good Rhone red everyday wine ($10-$20). Although I love CdeP, I am trying to save them for special occasions.Dan
James Molesworth
December 22, 2006 9:18am ET
Wes: I've heard the Oregon truffles are quite good - though of course the French would say they have the real ones (for black) and the Piedmontese would say they have the real ones (for white).

I'm an equal opportunity truffle eater - any region that wants to try and grow them and then send them to me for taste test, should feel free.
James Molesworth
December 22, 2006 9:22am ET
Daniel: Try the JL Chave Cotes du Rhone Mon Coeur, or some of the offerings from Perrin & Fils. For more, use the wine rating search here on the website - you can search by price, score, etc.

Berry: C'mon - spill the beans. No true wine lover keeps a good find to himself or herself!
Anacleto Ludovic
paris france  —  December 22, 2006 10:55am ET
I wish that Bordeaux prices stop skyrocketing, I wish Germany stops their obscure system of labeling, i wish pinot noirs in the US being easier with their single vineyard, i wish Burgundy was less expensive and easier to learn as well, I wish Jaboulet to be rebought by a true company, i wish south africa to stop pinotage, i wish Philloxera dies once and for all so Australia werent in bad shape, i wish the viticulture in Mexico stop being a chemist lab and begin to produce the amazing wine they can do, i wish more recognition for ports and jerez, i wish the Douro wine being recognize for what they deserve, i wish Chile to stop being formated in style and i wish Achaval Ferrer to keep up the amazing job they allready do and I wish you all a merry Christmas and the best for 2007 !!!!!!! Meilleur Voeux pour 2007 et joyeux Noel!!!!!
Karl Mark
Geneva, IL. —  December 22, 2006 10:57am ET
I wish...that there was always a two case limit on purchases so that speculators didn't buy 90 percent of the supply, drive up prices and make it impossible to find certain small production wines....oh and that whole wine storage thing sounds good also...
Eric Swanson
Westlake —  December 22, 2006 10:58am ET
I wish I had James Molesworth's, James Laube's or James Suckling's job. How awesome it would be!! Heck, any job involving wine.

I wish wine at restaurants would be more affordable.
David A Zajac
December 22, 2006 12:57pm ET
I wish I was Bill Gates so I could afford to purchase the DRC, Domaine Leroy, Chateau Latour and Mouton Rothschild, JL Chave and Chapoutier, Beaucastel and Pegau, Clarendon Hills and Greenock Creek and Harlan estate and Sine Qua Non and sell all their wines to wine lovers like us for $5/bottle so everyone could actually try these wines and not just read about them.
Paul Manchester
Santa Cruz, CA —  December 22, 2006 1:07pm ET
I wish that I had a case of every 95-100 point rated wine in my cellar, oops I don't have a cellar. I wish that I had enough money to build a giant cellar and have every 95-100 point wine in it. Then I wish that I had enough money and time to host wine & food parties for everybody to come and enjoy these great bottles with me. I'm a wine taster of the heart. My favorite part of it all is the joy and stoke of being with people and hearing their life-stories as you enjoy great and interesting wine. MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!!!!!!! Oh, and if Wine Spectator would like to hire me I would like that as well.
David W Voss
Elkhorn, Wi —  December 22, 2006 1:41pm ET
I too wish that storage conditions meant more to importers, wholesalers and retailers.I wish the three tier system of wine distribution wasn't so in control (money for campaigns).Being retired, I wish for a job like WS bloggers have.I wish my state was like Illinois, where every week this fall I could go tasting (northern Il)
Berry Crawford
December 22, 2006 3:39pm ET
>>>Berry: C'mon - spill the beans. No true wine lover keeps a good find to himself or herself!
Its Walter Hansel Winery. They are only reviewed sporadically and the wine I had was outstanding and it was only $30.
William Newell
Buffalo, NY —  December 22, 2006 4:27pm ET
I wish restaurants would update their wine lists, so that the wines and vintages listed were actually the ones available. And I wish retailers who post ratings by WS, RP, etc., would take them down if the wine on the shelf is not the same vintage as the one rated.
Jason Thompson
Foster City, CA —  December 22, 2006 6:23pm ET
I wish I could find a bottle of the WOTY at cost. I also wish that Kosta Browne would give me an allocation to the vineyard designated bottlings as well. Lastly, I wish I bought land in Napa or Santa Barbara when I was 5 years old (early 80's). Happy Holidays to all. Good Blog.
Michael K Le
Redwood City —  December 24, 2006 12:57am ET
I wish my golf swing is as good as my taste for wine ... I wish terrorists use Merlot and Steaks as their weapon of mass destruction ... I wish global warming does not affect Napa, Sonoma, and Alexander Valley ... I wish I have a car that rusn on bad red wines ... and I wish all of you a blessed Christmas.
Steve Barber
Clayton, CA. —  December 24, 2006 1:07pm ET
Michael....awesome! Golf swing: Sup-abduct with a 45 deree dorsey flexion and stay connected. Weapons: The cows could be transported from a nearby country.The Opium could be replanted with merlot.Californians and Chinese get Prius's. Bronco' wines opposed to gas athough the line at Trader Joe's would be lengthy!Merry Christmas...
Ian Tarrant
Ontario, Canada —  December 24, 2006 3:13pm ET
I wish that Chilean and Argentinian wines get the respect they deserve...Wait, then the prices will keep going up!!Nix that wish ;>))Cheers James!
Harry Karis
Netherlands —  December 26, 2006 9:26am ET
Hi James, when are you going to publish your 2005 CdP TN's?Harry
James Molesworth
December 26, 2006 10:01am ET
Harry: The bottled '05s won't start arriving here until the Fall, so no tasting notes until the finished wines are tasted blind, in my office. In the meantime, vintage analysis and cellar notes on the '04s and '05s I tasted on my last trip to CdP can be found athttp://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Features/0,1197,3230,00.html

I usually make a trip in the early spring to CdP, so if all goes according to plan, I'll taste the '05s one more time before they make their way here...
Levi Dalton
New York, NY —  December 28, 2006 12:04am ET
As Restaurant Daniel was specifically mentioned as regards corkage, I think it is worth noting that Daniel hosts a BYOB event each year in association with Zachy's, and that in 2006 I believe there were 2 such evenings at Daniel.

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