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Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

The Sum of Its Parts

Seeing the bits and pieces that form the whole at Delas, Maison Nicolas Perrin and Domaine Vallet

Posted: November 26, 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 sixth day, he tasted at Delas, Maison Nicolas Perrin and Domaine Vallet. Here are his notes.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Priced Out

Rising prices have become an inevitability when it comes to fine wine

Posted: November 25, 2013  By James Laube

One of the hard truths about wine is that eventually you'll get priced out. That is, the wines you gravitate to and find so comfortably affordable will cost more.

These are often wines your special go-to wines, the wines you "discovered," and didn't want anyone else to find out about. Barring your own dramatic shifts in good fortune, they will eventually extend beyond your financial reach. The main reason is that quality wines will almost always reach a broader audience, which inevitably leads to higher prices.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Five Vintages of Hill of Grace

Tasting wines from four decades of Henschke's iconic Shiraz

Posted: November 22, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

When I could not get to Australia for the Henschke winery's massive 40-vintage tasting of its signature wine earlier this year, the iconic Shiraz Hill of Grace, Stephen Henschke offered to bring a few of the older vintages to me when he came for the New York Wine Experience.

Here are my scores and tasting notes on the Henschke Hill of Grace 1973, 1986, 1990, 2001 and 2008.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

One Stop in Crozes, Two in Mauves

Tasting stops at Marceline & David Reynaud, Pierre Gonon and Jean-Louis Chave

Posted: November 22, 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 fifth day, he tasted at Marceline & David Reynaud, Pierre Gonon and Jean-Louis Chave. Here are his notes.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Who Are They Fooling? (A Lot of Folks)

As much as 20 percent of wine on the global market may be fake. Awareness is on the rise, but will the counterfeiting continue?

Posted: November 21, 2013  By Robert Taylor

This past August, the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) quietly issued a cease-and-desist letter to New Jersey's Wine Library, one of the largest retailers in the Garden State and a popular wine source for many New Yorkers.

The SLA ordered Wine Library to stop shipping wine to New Yorkers, a practice that is technically illegal but that has been happening for years without complaint or repercussion. Cease-and-desist letter or not, the ban is practically unenforceable-the SLA simply doesn't have the manpower to adequately monitor interstate sales.

Because of the letter, Wine Library and a few other out-of-state retailers indicated they would stop selling wine to New Yorkers. New York retailers worried that they would start receiving similar letters from alcohol authorities in other states, as a form of retaliation. Since then, however, there's been nothing but silence from the authorities, and Wine Library has continued shipping wine to New York.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

Dial M for Hermitage

The complete lineup of M. Chapoutier 2012s, from Châteauneuf-du-Pape to Hermitage

Posted: November 20, 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 afternoon tasting with Michel Chapoutier. Here are his notes.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

A Toast to Thanksgivukkah

What wines will you drink when Hanukkah and Thanksgiving share the same day?

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.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

Many Fingers, Many Pies

Michel Chapoutier's many projects offer a full day's worth of wines to taste, from Pierre-Henri Morel to Ferraton and beyond

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.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

A Restrained View of California Wine

Jon Bonné's 'The New California Wine' offers rewarding vignettes, but minimizes much of what California's established vintners have accomplished

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).

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Renewing the Original Microbrew

The ongoing story of New Albion Ale, the beer that started it all

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.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

A Stop at the Northern Rhône Pop & Son

Philippe Guigal shows off his family's 2012 and 2011 reds and whites

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.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

What Happens When the Moscato Music Stops? Part 2

Is the mass-market fizz pulling up the premium styles? And what does the future hold for Muscat once the bubble bursts?

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.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

What Happens When the Moscato Music Stops?

Can the gold rush reach more venerable styles of Muscat, or will its collapse leave the wine's reputation in shambles?

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?

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

From a Mom & Pop to a Pop & Sons

A stone's throw separates traditonal and modern-styled Côte-Rôties at neighbors Domaine Clusel-Roch and Jean-Michel Gerin

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.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Have You Ever Tasted a Perfect Wine?

Many wines are outstanding, but a truly 100-point wine is rare

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.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

The Northern Rhône's New Kids on the Block

More 2012 Côte-Rôties, along with intriguing wines from Hermitage, St.-Joseph and Condrieu at Pierre-Jean Villa and Julien Pilon

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.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Grading the 100-Point Scale

Winemakers have come to embrace the 100-point rating system as much as consumers have

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.

That's changed.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

There Are Brunettes, and Then There Are Brunettes

Côte Brunes were a few of the day's many highlights at Jean-Paul & Jean-Luc Jamet and Georges Vernay

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.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Memories of Charlie Trotter

Chicago's legendary chef showed the way for many others

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.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

How Do You Become an Expert in Bordeaux?

4 tips for getting a handle on this uber-famous, sort-of-complicated, not-always-pricey wine region

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.

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