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Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

To the Rhône, to Taste the 2012s

What will the recently bottled 2012s from Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas have in store?

Posted: June 24, 2014  By James Molesworth

After a long overnight and ensuing day of planes, trains and automobiles, I'm back in France's Rhône Valley for the first time since my last visit in November 2013.

This time I'm in the Southern Rhône, and not just for the wines. The weather here in June is idyllic—warm and sunny during the day, but pleasantly cool at night.

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

How Grand Will Chianti's New Gran Selezione Be?

Chianti's new top designation, Gran Selezione, debuts in New York

Posted: June 23, 2014  By Bruce Sanderson

The debut of Chianti Classico's new Gran Selezione designation in New York gave me the opportunity to taste more wines offered under the new category and speak with some of the producers behind the wines.

Blogs  :  Robert Camuto: Letter from Europe

Tickling Pink

What you didn’t know—or even think—about rosé

Posted: June 23, 2014  By Robert Camuto

Wine Spectator contributing editor Robert Camuto visits the Center for Research and Experimentation on Rosé Wine in Provence, where researchers have studied how a rosé's hue of pink affects consumers' opinions of it.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Washington's 2011 Reds Test Theories on Ripeness

Cooler temperatures and wetter weather make for starker choices

Posted: June 20, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

Ripeness and alcohol continue to polarize wine drinkers. The prevailing trend almost everywhere these days is toward more moderate levels of alcohol, but a highly vocal wing still finds too much alcohol in too many wines.

It's the sugar in the grapes, of course, that ferments into alcohol, so winegrowers are seeking ways to get enough ripeness to deliver pleasurable flavors without the sugar getting out of hand. Finding a cool climate can do it. But sometimes a cool vintage is a mixed blessing, as my recent experience sampling 2011 Washington reds demonstrates.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Educated Guesses About a Vintage’s Future

There's no scientific method to predicting how a wine will age

Posted: June 19, 2014  By James Laube

The Educated Guess cuvée gets its name from the many best-guess scenarios that arise during the winemaking process, from when to pick the grapes to how long to age the wine in barrel, the bottom line being that there's no scientific formula for delivering the best wine that the owners of Roots Run Deep winery can. They use their knowledge, intuition and experience to make the best decisions for their wine, allowing too that at the end of the day it's still merely an educated guess.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Could Harvest Be Just Six Weeks Away in California?

Early signs of veraison point to an unusual start for crush in 2014

Posted: June 18, 2014  By Tim Fish

Take your vacation soon, California winemakers. Early signs of veraison are already upon us. Veraison—when grapes begin ripening, turn softer and change color—rarely starts this early. It usually doesn't get going until the Fourth of July.

Veraison is significant for many reasons, but it's a big indicator of when harvest could begin: about six weeks later is the general rule. A lot depends on the region, grape variety, how a vineyard is farmed and, of course, the weather, but it boggles the mind that harvest could begin before Aug. 1, and not just for sparkling wine.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

2012 California Pinot Noir: A Struggle for Ripeness

After tasting more than 400 California Pinot Noirs from the 2012 vintage, a profile takes shape

Posted: June 16, 2014  By James Laube

The 2011 and 2012 Pinot Noir harvests in California could hardly have been more different. In 2012, the weather was ideal from start to finish, but that's only part of the story. Despite superior weather, the wines are not head-and-shoulders above 2011, and the reason has much to do with yields.

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

The Streets of San Francisco

Two evenings in the City by the Bay offer a sampling of its exciting and diverse dining possibilities at Acquerello and St. Vincent Tavern

Posted: June 13, 2014  By Bruce Sanderson

It wasn't quite the A to Z of dining in San Francisco, but a recent trip there provided an opportunity to visit Acquerello and St. Vincent Tavern and Wine Merchant, two very different restaurant concepts.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Drink Two Glasses of Red and Call Me in the Morning

For years, there have been tantalizing clues that a little wine is good for us, but science is never simple

Posted: June 12, 2014  By Mitch Frank

Wine, consumed in reasonable amounts, can improve your health. Too much of it can kill you. (Isn't that true for most enjoyable things in life? Chocolate, sex, Game of Thrones ...)

America became the top wine-consuming nation last year, according to my number-crunching colleagues at Impact Databank. That's quite a twist for a country that once banned alcohol. One spark behind our increasing thirst is our growing belief that a little wine may be good for us. When 60 Minutes reported on the French Paradox in 1991, concluding that red wine was lowering French rates of heart disease, we started self-prescribing red wine overnight.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

At Continuum, a Proud Legacy Carries On

Robert Mondavi's son Tim and granddaughter Carissa have established a new home base on Napa's Pritchard Hill

Posted: June 11, 2014  By James Molesworth

You can tell it's a family business at Continuum. Carissa Mondavi, 37, the newest generation of the storied vintner family, has no official title.

"I don't know how to answer that," she said when I asked her. "All I want to do is tell my dad's story and, in turn, my grandfather's," she added with a hint of wistful pride.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Wines That Sizzle All Summer Long

When the temperatures rise, put down the red and the white and think pink

Posted: June 11, 2014  By Tim Fish

I've been reviewing a lot of 2013 rosés from California in recent weeks. The vintage offers a fine opportunity for winemakers who know what they're doing. I'm stocking up, and I've put together a list. Here a few of my highlights.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Expanding the Palate

How I first got adventurous about what to eat

Posted: June 10, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

I moved to Miami from Los Angeles in 1969 to work for the Miami Herald, my first job on a big-city newspaper. From our apartment a few blocks from the office, my wife and I strolled the neighborhood and discovered a familiar sight to former Angelenos, but unusual then in Miami. A Chinese restaurant had just opened.

Hooked, we went often, and when I became the restaurant critic at the Herald I wrote up Tiger Tiger Teahouse. It became hugely popular. Regulars, we got to know the family, who often shared with us whatever they were cooking for themselves. When James Beard came to Miami to teach a cooking class, knowing that he had been raised in Oregon by a Chinese amah, I asked Mr. Tom to cook some of the family dishes for him. Tears streamed down Beard's face as he devoured pork trotters in hoisin sauce. Just like home, he said.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

There's Dirt, and Then There's Dirt

Dominus Estate's terroir shines through in a tasting of the 2012, '10, '04 and '01 vintages

Posted: June 9, 2014  By James Molesworth

I'll admit, I was a little anxious to get to the historic Dominus Estate property and kick the dirt. Sure, the winery is as suave a bit of architecture as you're likely to find. But the dirt is where it's at for me. Today I tasted the 2012, 2010, 2004 and 2001 vintages. Here are my notes.

Blogs  :  Robert Camuto: Letter from Europe

Soave’s Free Spirit

A distinct Italian white, winemaker and estate in their own class

Posted: June 9, 2014  By Robert Camuto

Wine Spectator contributing editor Robert Camuto visits Filippo Filippi's family estate in Soave, where he is making an intriguing range of small-production whites.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

What's That Smell?

Even if you can't identify brettanomyces, study confirms you could love it, hate it, or not even notice

Posted: June 6, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

One sure way to start an argument when tasting with others is to decry the effects of the yeast organism brettanomyces in a wine. Someone is bound to roll eyes and proclaim the opposite. I know. It's happened to me. A lot.

But if it takes an academically trained pro to detect brettanomyces, should it matter for ordinary wine drinkers? I say it does, and here's why.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

Shakespeare's Favorite Vineyard

Jamie Kutch is making distinctive Pinot Noirs from Falstaff Vineyard and beyond, stems and all

Posted: June 6, 2014  By James Molesworth

Jamie Kutch is living the life. After cashing out on his Wall Street gig, the native New Yorker picked up and headed west to start his own wine label, which debuted in the 2005 vintage. He had success early and, now in his tenth vintage, he seems to be settling, producing cool-climate Pinot Noirs with a distinctive profile. I tasted through his 2013 Pinots; here are my notes.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

An Afternoon with Pax, Agharta and Jolie-Laide

Tasting the newest wines from Pax Mahle and his cellar master, Scott Schultz

Posted: June 5, 2014  By James Molesworth

On my first day of winery visits in California, I visited Pax Mahle and tasted through his lineup of recent Wind Gap wines. Following that, we tasted through his Pax and Agharta labels, and then I tasted the Jolie-Laide Wines made by Scott Schultz. Here are my notes on the wines I tasted.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

The Evolution of Pax Mahle and His Wines

The Wind Gap, Agharta and Pax labels have broadened Mahle's range

Posted: June 4, 2014  By James Molesworth

With three developing labels, Pax Mahle needed some new digs. So he just recently moved his Wind Gap operation (6,000 cases annually and growing) into a gentrified section of old warehouses called the Barlow in Sebastopol, replete with Kosta Browne as neighbor and surrounded by busy hipster coffeeshops and breweries. Along with his 1,200-case Pax label and 1,000-case Agharta label, Mahle is busy.

"But it's still about how much [my wife] Pam and I can handle, without it consuming us," said Mahle, who wants to stay hands-on with all his projects.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Reflecting on 20 Years of Zinfandels

Comparing the latest vintages to a retrospective tasting of the 2004s and 1994s

Posted: June 4, 2014  By Tim Fish

I've been thinking about California Zinfandel a lot lately, its past and the future. For the June 30 issue of Wine Spectator, I sized up the 2011s and 2012s for my annual Zin report and also revisited the 1994 and 2004 vintages in a retrospective tasting.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Napa's BottleRock Pairs Aging Classics with Fresh Acts

It's better to catch an older band than none at all, but like wine, they're best experienced in their prime

Posted: June 3, 2014  By James Laube

Just like that, BottleRock came and went. The three-day music festival in Napa attracted tens of thousands to hear 60 bands, from cutting edge Indies to aging rockers, perform on four stages at the Napa Valley Expo.

Watching acts from yesteryear has limited appeal to me. Occasionally I attend concerts by performers decades past their heyday, and when they're on they can be inspiring. Usually, though, I'm disappointed, and almost always find myself thinking they were so much better in their prime. It reminds me of the way some people act when they extol a wine made decades ago.

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