Posted: November 20, 2013 By Tim Fish
My family has been celebrating Thanksgiving and Hanukkah side-by-side for decades. My wife's Jewish family gathers every year in Southern California and we all celebrate Hanukkah on the day after. (Even if it's technically weeks away.) We eat leftovers and there's usually a brisket, too.
And wine of course. If you think selecting a wine to go along with the turkey dinner spread is tough, just trying adding a brisket to the dilemma. It's impossible of course, so I usually open a little of everything and let everyone pick what they want for both events.
For Thanksgiving I look for lighter- to -medium-body reds like Pinot Noir (or Burgundy), Beaujolais or a red blend that's not too tannic, plus a floral white like Riesling, a delicate Chablis or (even better) a fruit-forward rosé. Here are 10 of my recommendations.
Posted: November 18, 2013 By James Molesworth
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is back in France's Rhône Valley to taste the 2012 vintage of Cote-Rotie, Hermitage, Cornas and more. On his fourth day, he spent the morning tasting Michel Chapoutier's many projects, including Pierre-Henri Morel and Ferraton Père & Fils. Here are his notes.
Posted: November 18, 2013 By James Laube
Jon Bonné insists he doesn’t dislike all California wine, but he’s hardly enamored with much of it. He makes that point clear in his new book, The New California Wine, A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste (Ten Speed Press, $35).
Posted: November 18, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
These days we take American craft beers and microbrews for granted. They're everywhere. Even at places other than baseball parks, I have been known to sip a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Samuel Adams Boston Lager or Pyramid Hefeweizen with dinner when the wine offerings don't wow me.
The choices we have today started with New Albion, an idiosyncratic microbrewery in Sonoma County, a malty drop amidst a sea of wine.
Posted: November 15, 2013 By James Molesworth
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is back in France's Rhône Valley to taste the 2012 vintage of Cote-Rotie, Hermitage, Cornas and more. On his third day, he spent the afternoon at E. Guigal. Here are his notes.
Posted: November 15, 2013 By Ben O'Donnell
A few years ago, I wrote a feature about Jorge Ordóñez & Co., a relatively new winemaking outfit from the heavyweight Spanish importer, in the foothills surrounding his native city of Málaga. The wines of the region were typically sweet wines made from Moscatel de Alejandría grapes left to raisinate on the vine or on straw mats. Ordóñez began making four wines in this style, plus a dry Moscatel called Botani.
My visit in 2010 predated the Moscato madness, so I shot an e-mail to Victoria Ordóñez (she oversees operations on the ground) asking if the thirst for Moscato had swelled upward past the $9 price point to wines of Ordóñez's caliber--the Botani retails at about $17. Sales were indeed up.
Posted: November 14, 2013 By Ben O'Donnell
Australia soaked the world with critter labels. Zinfandel was lobotomized into a candy wine. Italian bubbly became an '80s ad jingle. California Merlot got overplanted, then yelled at in a popular movie. You know what happened next: The producers who got intoxicated on mass-market success didn't lift their premium counterparts with the rising tide-instead, they eventually torpedoed the whole category.
After the inevitable crash in market share and reputation, each of these regions or wine types floated facedown for years, even decades, before their recent renaissances as wines capable of depth and nuance. (Australia and Merlot are still swimming upstream, arguably.)
What next, then, once Moscato hits the iceberg?
Posted: November 13, 2013 By James Molesworth
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is back in France's Rhône Valley to taste the 2012 vintage of Cote-Rotie, Hermitage, Cornas and more. On his third day, he started his visits at Domaine Clusel-Roch and Jean-Michel Gerin. Here are his notes.
Posted: November 13, 2013 By Tim Fish
I've tasted a lot of great wines over the years but I'm not sure I've ever tasted a perfect one. Perfection, as I see it, is a tricky business. It's like fog: You know it's there, but just try catching it.
Posted: November 11, 2013 By James Molesworth
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is back in France's Rhône Valley to taste the 2012 vintage of Cote-Rotie, Hermitage, Cornas and more. On his second day, he finished his visits at Pierre-Jean Villa and Julien Pilon. Here are his notes.
Posted: November 11, 2013 By James Laube
One big benefit of the 100-point scale is that it has given winemakers a target. It's one way for critics to show vintners where their strike zone lies.
Consumers embraced the scoring system a long time ago. Vintners were more skeptical and cautious. They can rate their own wines intellectually, by flavor, density, balance—any number of ways—but assigning a number, or even using the esoteric descriptors most wine writers use, hasn't fit their comfort zone.
Posted: November 8, 2013 By James Molesworth
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is back in France's Rhône Valley to taste the 2012 vintage of Cote-Rotie, Hermitage, Cornas and more. On his second day, he started off with visits to Jean-Paul & Jean-Luc Jamet and Georges Vernay. Here are his notes.
Posted: November 7, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
The news Tuesday stunned the food and wine world. Charlie Trotter, the legendary Chicago chef who, as much as anyone, defined modern fine dining in America, was dead. At 54, how could this be?
It turns out he had a secret. He had been diagnosed with an aneurysm deep inside his brain, according to friend and sommelier Larry Stone in Chicago Tribune's obituary. It was inoperable. But he refused to use his illness to play for sympathy. Instead, he announced just after midnight on New Year's 2012 that he would be closing his restaurant after a 25-year run to pursue an advanced degree in philosophy and travel with his wife.
Posted: November 7, 2013 By Jennifer Fiedler
It’s no secret that Bordeaux wines have a bit of a perception problem among U.S. consumers. In a 2012 blog post, senior editor James Molesworth, our lead taster for Bordeaux, said the Bordelais see the U.S. market “slipping away” on account of an “image issue, driven by the escalating prices of the top châteaus.”
A number of good reasons for exploring Bordeaux wines were outlined in that post, including a raft of under-$20 values, cellar-worthy wines at modest prices, stylistic diversity and a move to green farming and winemaking practices. But still, for many people just getting into wine, Bordeaux remains something of an unknown. How much does a consumer really need to know to buy a good bottle?
I asked Bernard Sun, corporate beverage director for Jean-Georges Restaurants, how he would recommend tackling the region. Here are his tips.
Posted: November 6, 2013 By James Molesworth
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is back in France's Rhône Valley to taste the 2012 vintage of Cote-Rotie, Hermitage, Cornas and more. On his first day, he visited Benjamin & David Duclaux and Michel & Stéphane Ogier. Here are his notes.
Posted: November 6, 2013 By Tim Fish
Fall arrived in Sonoma County on Monday, or at least it finally felt like it, finally. It was something in the air, that hard to define mix of fleeting sunlight, long shadows and leaves in the breeze. Autumn comes late in Northern California and lingers only until the first serious storm blows in from the Pacific.
I'm in the mood for different wines when the weather changes. The flavors are generally richer, deeper and more multifaceted, so I look for a wine that's similar. A zesty red Rhône blend is often perfect, likewise Syrah and Zinfandel, plus red blends from Italy and Spain. Here are a few affordable picks for the fall.
Posted: November 5, 2013 By Dana Nigro
When I first decided that how a wine is grown mattered to me as much as whether I enjoy the taste, I wished I had a handy reference that laid out all the environmentally friendly practices, certifications and wineries. Instead, I spent months reading books and websites, interviewing experts, tracking down certified or practicing producers, touring vineyards and wineries and poring over retail shelves. (See Green Revolutionaries.)
Washington wine writer, educator and sommelier Shannon Borg wanted the same thing when she started her journey, so she curated her own personal introduction to the topic, focusing on the U.S. West Coast. The result is The Green Vine, a nice stocking stuffer of a book for eco-minded foodies who want to learn more about wine or for wine lovers who've decided it's time to know more about sustainable, organic and biodynamic winegrowing.
Posted: November 4, 2013 By James Laube
More than one person asked me during the Wine Spectator Wine Experience, "What is the fascination with wines aging?" To one man's ears, several vintners emphasized not only the youth of their wines but that they had long lives ahead. Since I'm not a fan of aged wines, the answer was easy and came in parts.
In my experience, and to my tastes, most wines don't improve with age. Most of the time they stay about the same for the first few years of their lives. Therefore, there's little motivation to cellar them.
But there are just as many wine lovers on the other side of the ledger. Old or long-lived wines evoke excitement among connoisseurs, a sort of time travel that can provide a unique drinking experience, provided you like the wines once they've aged. The biggest tradeoff that comes with age affects its fruit profile. The compromise: pure fruit vitality for the subtle nuances that may come with time.
Lynch isn't much a fan of California wine, yet it appears that he disqualifies himself from passing judgment on the mere basis that he hasn't and doesn't follow California's wines as closely as many. His import business is based in St. Helena, in Napa Valley, run by a Napa vintner, Bruce Neyers, and I suspect Lynch pays far greater attention to California wine than he allows. He is, after all, a businessman who competes against California.
Posted: November 4, 2013 By James Molesworth
It's time. Time to head back to the Rhône. It's been a little while since my last trip in June 2012. Prior to that, I worked my way through the Northern Rhône in April 2011. So I wonder: Could I be rusty? Nah, I doubt it ...
My current annual Rhône report is in the Nov. 30 issue and it focuses on the 2011 vintage, now on retail shelves in the U.S. There will be plenty more 2011s to taste, but I am also beginning to turn my attention to 2012, which is the vintage I will be tasting during this trip (though sometimes producers will show other vintages as well.)
Posted: November 4, 2013 By Bruce Sanderson
Bruno Giacosa is an icon of Piedmont. A guardian of the traditional style, he has made benchmark Barbarescos and Barolos since 1961. I recently had the opportunity to taste 17 vintages of Giacosa’s Barbaresco Asili Riserva, Barolo Falletto Riserva and Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva spanning the years 2008 to 1967.
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