Posted: October 15, 2014 By Tim Fish
One of the occasional benefits of writing about wine is the opportunity to interview someone who's famous for something other than wine. Take actor and vintner Dan Aykroyd for example. He was so down to earth I could have chatted about Saturday Night Live for hours. The same with John Lasseter of Pixar and his classic animated movies. I was more interested in asking film director Francis Ford Coppola about The Conversation than his Godfather films. But my job was to talk wine, so I stayed focused during the interviews.
I had a similar experience with Sir Peter Michael, who I profile in the Nov. 15 issue and who is also being honored as the winner of this year's Wine Spectator Distinguished Service Award.
Posted: October 14, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
Riesling, an off-and-on success in Oregon, has started to shine brighter in recent vintages. Of the 40 Oregon Rieslings to receive scores of 90 points or higher (Outstanding on the Wine Spectator 100-point scale), 26 have come since the 2010 vintage.
What's causing this? Partly, it's the emergence of wineries concentrating on the varietal, most notably Trisaetum (first vintage 2007). James Frey's operation makes eight different Rieslings, sorted by vineyard source and whether they're dry or off-dry, and no Chardonnay or Pinot Gris, Oregon's signature white wines.
Posted: October 13, 2014 By Bruce Sanderson
To date, I have tasted more than 100 Barolos from the 2010 vintage. I was very excited about the vintage after visiting the region in November 2013. My tastings of the young 2010s, either from cask or bottle, indicated fabulous potential. The '10s appeared to be a hybrid of 2004, 2006 and 2008, offering purity, elegance, balance and complexity. The best should have the ability to age for decades.
Posted: October 13, 2014 By Robert Camuto
Raimond de Villeneuve grins like he's won the French Loto as he looks over rows of Syrah vines loaded with dark, healthy grapes.
"It's my first real harvest since 2011," says the 52-year-old producer, who is in his 20th vintage at his Château de Roquefort in Provence.
It's a happy chapter in a story that looked like a tragedy two years ago after a hail storm destroyed his entire 62-acre crop and left half his vines damaged for the next vintage.
Posted: October 10, 2014 By James Laube
Fred and Carol Schrader's new label could easily have been called Boars' View of Marcassin, because that's the story behind its name.
The Schraders' Boars' View looks out at Marcassin (which is French for young wild boar), the adjacent vineyard and winery owned by Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer in the Fort Ross-Seaview appellation of Sonoma Coast. It's in a remote, tree-shrouded area, a few miles inland from the Pacific, but clearly warm enough to fully ripen grapes.
Posted: October 10, 2014 By MaryAnn Worobiec
I have a running joke with one of my best friends. It's about drinking Manhattans in Manhattan. Whenever we are in New York, we order the classic cocktail, and send a photo of it out to each other, a cheesy reminder of our friendship.
I'm headed to New York again next week for the Wine Spectator Wine Experience, but this time there aren't any Manhattans on my agenda. There are so many terrific wines to try at the Wine Experience Grand Tour, instead I'll be snapping photos of glasses of Champagne and bottles of red wine. I know my friend will understand.
Posted: October 9, 2014 By James Molesworth
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth unveils his game plan for the Grand Tastings at the Wine Spectator Wine Experience in New York next week.
Posted: October 9, 2014 By Robert Taylor
The New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) has been making waves in the wine industry, ramping up enforcement on a range of fair-business guidelines intended to even the playing field among large and small retailers and distributors. Most of the $3 million-plus in fines levied over the past three years have resulted from illegal transactions between wholesalers and retailers, having little effect on consumers, but one recent NYSLA filing has wine lovers up in arms: 16 charges of improper conduct for Albany-based retailer Empire Wine for shipping wine to consumers in other states.
Posted: October 8, 2014 By James Laube
Think of it as a one-night tour of the wine world, with many of its superstar wines and their makers under one roof.
Think of it as a crash-course refresher on those iconic wines from those celebrated regions from the Old World and a glimpse of what lies ahead from the New World.
It's all on stage at next week's New York Wine Experience, where more than 260 of the world's greatest wines will be on display at the Grand Tastings.
Posted: October 7, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
When it happened, Oregon's 2013 Pinot Noir vintage looked like a flop. A warm growing season climaxed with a couple of heat spikes in mid-September. And then it rained. And rained. And rained some more. Some vineyards counted 9 inches of rain in a week. Most of Willamette Valley got around 4 inches. "I never saw rain so sideways here, and it hit when everything was pretty damn ripe," said Rollin Soles of Roco.
Now that the wines are ready to bottle, many 2013s I tasted last week displayed precise flavors and even the sort of delicacy that made 2010 and 2011 so charming. It all depends on how carefully the grapes were sorted and when they were picked.
Posted: October 2, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
At Hearth restaurant and his various Terroir wine bars in New York, owner Paul Grieco fills his wine lists with offbeat wines made from grapes unfamiliar to casual wine drinkers in regions that seldom come up in conversation except for serious wine geeks. In person he has cultivated a wild-man image that has endeared him to those who want anything but a nice Chardonnay or a big Napa Cabernet.
So what's a 1992 Harlan Cabernet doing on his list at Hearth? "Oh, that's from the cellar of one of the partners [in the restaurant]," he shrugged. "Helluva wine, too." Much as he champions "who's that?" wines, he also has an eclectic palate. And it extends to his sommelier at Hearth, Christine Wright, who strode confidently to our table on a recent visit. With me were colleagues James Laube, whose recent Wine Spectator column, "Dim Somms," stirred up howls of protest, and executive editor Thomas Matthews, who suggested the restaurant.
Posted: October 1, 2014 By James Laube
Joey Tensley and Alex Guarachi have teamed up to make an exciting new red wine from Santa Barbara that is exactly what wine lovers are looking for: an outstanding wine that's affordable and available.
They have collaborated on a wine called Tenshen, a $25 red with 3,500 cases made. The first vintage, 2013, exhibits a fresh, lively array of flavors, extending from ripe, juicy plum and black cherry to subtler dried herb, tar and rose petal.
Posted: October 1, 2014 By Tim Fish
I remember walking into my first Grand Tasting 16 years ago. I was just a young wine nerd and not yet on the Wine Spectator staff and I wanted more than anything to come off as poised and urbane, but at the sight of all those rare wines, my eyes shot out of my head like a cartoon character's.
The chance to taste 250 wines, with winemakers and owners right there at the table, can be overwhelming for the uninitiated. Overwhelming as in awesome, awesome as in stuttering to say something insightful as your wine is poured, insightful as in, "uhm … Hi."
Posted: September 29, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
The Grand Tastings at the New York Wine Experience are a playground for those of us who can't get enough great wine. Two floors of the Marriott Marquis Hotel house 267 producers those of us who review the wines nominated as our choices to be there. It's a who's who of wine, an opportunity to taste wines that are hard to find or so expensive the cost of a ticket wouldn't even buy one bottle.
Even though each producer can only pour one wine, it requires some forethought to get the most out of the experience. I scope out which ones I am gung-ho to get to, especially wines I don't get to taste regularly. When I walk through the door at the Grand Tastings Oct. 16 and 17, I'll have a plan. To help with yours (and to give you an idea of the kinds of wines on tap), here are some of the highlights of my list.
Posted: September 26, 2014 By James Molesworth
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth reviews the rare one-offs, new single-vineyard bottlings, experimental blends and more that will be up for sale at the Cape Winemakers Guild Auction on Oct. 4.
Posted: September 24, 2014 By Tim Fish
Summer ended officially this week but I’m in denial about it. The warm weather took its time getting here in the first place and now it’s heading south again already.
We’re not letting it go without a fight, are we? Damn straight. Repeat after me: Summer isn’t over. Summer isn’t over.
In defiance of fall, I’ve selected five of my favorite summer wines from reviews published in our Oct. 31, 2014 issue. All of the wines are Zinfandel or Zin-based reds, which are the ideal wines with sunny weather and summer food. I drink them with everything from pasta and chicken to grilled steak and smoked ribs.
Posted: September 23, 2014 By James Laube
With rain in the forecast for Northern California in the next few days, the harvest will accelerate in many quarters. No one expects the rain to cause much concern. But grapes close to full ripeness and susceptible to rain, such as Pinot Noir, will be best harvested sooner than later. No one wants to slosh through another year like 2011.
Posted: September 22, 2014 By Robert Camuto
This was the year I coulda been a contender. Instead, here I am crying in my grape juice.
The 2014 harvest was going to be the one when my small, 100-vine plot of Syrah on a patch of earth in southern France was going to shine. I am not a professional winemaker so there was no hope of my wine being tasted and scored 95 points by Wine Spectator. But it was going to put a smile on the faces of friends and vignerons who drank it.
Today I have one word: fuhgeddaboudit.
Posted: September 19, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
Charles Smith has made some bold moves in his life, as he recounted in my profile of the Washington vintner in the Oct. 15 issue of Wine Spectator ("Marching to His Own Drummer"), but moving his base of operations from Walla Walla wine country to Seattle may be the biggest.
When I visited, Smith unlocked the unimposing front door of the warehouse he purchased earlier this year, walked me through a warren of deserted offices into the airplane hangar-sized space that's perfect for a functional and versatile winery. Charles Smith Wines has outgrown its patched-together warehouse winery in downtown Walla Walla.
Posted: September 18, 2014 By MaryAnn Worobiec
I've been the lead taster of New Zealand wines for five years, but I joke I've been covering the country since I did a report on the Kiwi bird in third grade. I even brought samples of kiwi fruit for my classmates to try. Introducing folks to the tastes of New Zealand? I've got that covered.
Wine Spectator's Oct. 15 issue includes both my annual report on New Zealand wines and a more comprehensive look at the country's impressive Pinot Noirs. New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs provide terrific value and consistency, but the story doesn't stop there: The emergence of Pinot Noir is the next chapter for this young wine country, providing a way to introduce wine lovers to some of its distinctive appellations.
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