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Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

The Making of Phelps’ Insignia

Posted: April 17, 2015  By James Laube

Joe Phelps' death in April 2015 capped a remarkable career as one of Napa’s modern pioneers. Wine Spectator senior editor James Laube remembers the winery founder and "chief observer" whose use of the proprietary name Insignia, for what was then a rather unique Bordeaux-style blend, helped define a new era for Napa Cabernet.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

A Glimpse of Champagne Feuillatte

Tasting Champagne over a bistro lunch in San Francisco

Posted: April 16, 2015  By Harvey Steiman

Guillaume Roffiaen slowly drizzled a magnum of Palmes d'Or 2002, Champagne Feuillatte's tête de cuvée, into a decanter. "I am pouring very slowly so as not to lose the bubbles," the new wine director of the large-scale Champagne house pointed out. He wanted to show how long-aged fizz can benefit from the process as much as still wine.

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

Wine Snapshots from Vinitaly

Making sense of Italy's annual wine-trade fair through the chaos

Posted: April 16, 2015  By Bruce Sanderson

The 2015 edition of Vinitaly was particularly successful for Wine Spectator. Italy's 49th annual national wine fair, which often feels more like a party, witnessed about 150,000 visitors from 140 countries over the four days of exhibits and seminars.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Winemaking on the Edge

With his labels Le P’tit Paysan and La Marea, Ian Brand is blazing his own trail on California’s Central Coast

Posted: April 15, 2015  By Tim Fish

Anyone can make Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley. All it takes is a boatload of cash. The real challenge is found on the winemaking outskirts, exploring underappreciated regions and grape varieties. That's how winemaker Ian Brand looks at it, anyway.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Wine Fit for Your Carry-On. Just Don’t Open It

Pocket-size FlyWine proves good wines do come in small packages

Posted: April 14, 2015  By MaryAnn Worobiec

Clear the runway for FlyWine. I've seen versions of single-serving wines before—products like StackTek and Zipz—which remind me more of Jell-O cups than something I want to drink from. FlyWine is an adorable screw-capped miniature wine bottle, promoted as a way to get wine into your carry-on.

Blogs  :  Robert Camuto: Letter from Europe

From Mechanic to Winemaker: One Man's Journey in Northern Piedmont

Tiziano Mazzoni rises to become Ghemme’s star for Nebbiolo

Posted: April 13, 2015  By Robert Camuto

Wine Spectator contributing editor Robert Camuto visits Tiziano Mazzoni, the Nebbiolo star of northern Piedmont's Ghemme appellation.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Remembering Bob McLean

Australia's gourmand-vintner introduced me to Barossa, in a big way

Posted: April 9, 2015  By Harvey Steiman

Bob McLean made an impression. A rotund, bearded teddy bear with a soft-spoken wit, he also had a sharp palate and a preference for midday dining that earned him the nickname "Sir Lunch-a-Lot." Seems everyone I knew in Australia wine called him that.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Turning Wine Into Water and Creating Fear Out of Nothing

The arsenic-in-wine lawsuit is based on faulty science and imaginary threats. Who profits?

Posted: April 7, 2015  By Mitch Frank

Kevin Hicks has pulled off a kind of miracle—he has turned wine into water. More precisely, he has fueled a class-action lawsuit arguing that wine should be judged by safety standards for water.

Hicks is co-founder of a Denver laboratory that analyzes the chemical compositions of wines. For a fee, retailers, distributors and others in the wine business can access BeverageGrades’ nutritional information on the wines—calories, sugars, carbohydrates and more—as well as any compounds like sulfites or even arsenic. The company gives grades on how “healthy” a wine is, though it fails to define healthy.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

April Fool’s Hangover

A round-up of yesterday's best wine-related jokes and hoaxes

Posted: April 2, 2015  By MaryAnn Worobiec

I haven't been a fan of April Fool's Day since that time my mom told me I had a spider on my shirt. I'm not a prankster, I don't like feeling gullible (who does?), and I typically approach the day with plenty of caution and eye rolls.

But I've softened to April Fool's recently, as it seems to have turned into a day celebrating creative writing and fun marketing. This year, I was prepared to not fall for any tricks, and here are some of my favorite of this year's wine-related April Fool's pranks.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

The 2014 Bordeaux Barrels Diary: Pomerol Precision at Pétrus

Attention to detail and moderation in the cellar gave Jean-Claude and Olivier Berrouet a gorgeous 2014 Right Bank red

Posted: April 2, 2015  By James Molesworth

My final stop during my 2014 Bordeaux barrel tastings was at the revered Right Bank estate of Château Pétrus. With the recent cellar renovation done and the doughty statue of St. Peter safely ensconced somewhere else, Pétrus seems ready to embark on another generation among Pomerol's elite wines.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

What Is Minerality, Exactly?

Definitions differ, but it's definitely there

Posted: April 1, 2015  By Harvey Steiman

A reader responding to my recent blog "How Real Is Minerality?" likened explaining minerality to defining jazz, and quoted Louis Armstrong's famous line, "Man, if you have to ask, you'll never know."

Satchmo was right about jazz, of course, and I can see where his elliptical reasoning could apply to the idea of minerality in wine. But several paragraphs into writing a comment in response, it occurred to me that the answer might be worth wrestling with at greater length. So here goes.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

A Jackpot of California Rhône Reds

The 2012 vintage is loaded with plump, rich wines

Posted: April 1, 2015  By Tim Fish

The market overflowed with California Rhône reds in recent years, so it's easy to take the wines for granted. That's unfortunate, because there are loads of superb wines from 2012. Here are 5 of my top value picks for Syrah, Grenache and more.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

The 2014 Bordeaux Barrels Diary: The Fruit and Nothing but the Fruit at Château Le Pin

Nicholas Thienpont presents the 2014 Vieux Château Certan and Le Pin Pomerols

Posted: April 1, 2015  By James Molesworth

The reserved Alexandre Thienpont continues to pursue the fine details as he manages Vieux Château Certan and Le Pin, and he has been joined by his seemingly equally gifted son Guillaume since 2011. "2014 is classic in style. It's fresh, so it's both rich and with energy," said Alexandre. "With the richness it's also easily digestible. It's not hard or delicate."

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Sisyphus Could've Been a Cheesemaker

Even more so than wine, artisanal cheese is a living thing, forever changing

Posted: March 31, 2015  By Robert Taylor

Wine Spectator assistant managing editor Robert Taylor attends a cheese seminar in which two Hafod cheddars from Neal's Yard Dairy illustrate the fragile nature of cheese quality, and the thrill of tasting a cheese for the first time, every time.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

The 2014 Bordeaux Barrels Diary: Christian Moueix's Stable of Pomerols

Tasting the 2014 Right Bank reds from Châteaus Trotanoy, La Fleur-Pétrus, Latour à Pomerol and more

Posted: March 31, 2015  By James Molesworth

Through my tastings of the 2014 Bordeaux barrels at various châteaus, I haven't been able to peg the vintage in comparison to another. When I mentioned that to Christian Moueix, he took his customary pause before answering. "We had something like this in 1978," he said. "Of course today we are better than '78 because viticulture has improved so much."

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Silver Oak's Return to Form

Winemaker Dan Baron and the team at this longtime Napa Cabernet estate have made big changes at the winery, and they show in the 2010 vintage

Posted: March 30, 2015  By James Laube

It's not often that a venerable 40-year-old winery suddenly makes one of its best wines, perhaps in decades. But that may be the case with Silver Oak and its 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

The 2014 Bordeaux Barrels Diary: Wine of the Vintage Candidates at Cheval-Blanc and Yquem

Pierre Lurton and Pierre-Olivier Clouet have two showstoppers at this year's en primeur

Posted: March 30, 2015  By James Molesworth

At Château Cheval-Blanc, both director Pierre Lurton and technical director Pierre-Olivier Clouet seem to bubble with enthusiasm at all times. I guess it's because they've settled into the new chai, which is both visually stunning and an inspiration in itself, as well as being one of the smartest modern showpiece cellars I've ever seen. Rows of 52 pear shaped cement vats line a massive room, each individually sized to accommodate the 45 different parcels that form the 96 acres of vines here.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

The 2014 Bordeaux Barrels Diary: The New Generation at Léoville Barton

Lilian Barton-Sartorius is taking the lead at this dialed-in St.-Julien estate

Posted: March 27, 2015  By James Molesworth

Next up on my 2014 Bordeaux barrel tasting tour is Château Léoville Barton. This was my first stop at the St.-Julien estate since 2011 (I try to see different châteaus on every visit—Bordeaux is a big region), and so my first time catching up with the new generation here: Lilian Barton-Sartorius.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Beringer Vineyards Brings Back a Beringer

Mark Beringer has been named the new head winemaker at the Napa icon

Posted: March 26, 2015  By James Laube

Anytime Beringer Vineyards puts a new winemaker in charge, it's news, because it doesn't happen very often. Laurie Hook is stepping back as chief winemaker at Beringer, where she has been a guiding force for more than two decades, and chief winemaker since 2000. She will remain with the winery as winemaker emeritus.

Her successor, Mark Beringer, is coming home.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

The 2014 Bordeaux Barrels Diary: Patience Pays at Lafite Rothschild

Director Charles Chevalier waited for ripeness at Domaines Barons de Rothschild properties Lafite, L'Evangile and Rieussec

Posted: March 26, 2015  By James Molesworth

Next up in my 2014 Bordeaux barrel tasting tour of the first-growths is Château Lafite Rothschild. Director Charles Chevalier noted that the oddity of August's cool temperatures meant his vineyard team had extra work to do, both in terms of viticulture, to ensure ripening, and then extra diligence at harvest for sorting.

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