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Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

More Thoughts on Terroir

What's more important: character or quality?

Posted: December 12, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

One of the comments on my blog last week about UC Davis' study on microbes and terroir reminded me why this is such a slippery concept. It shouldn't be, but it is.

Some see terroir, the idea that wine profoundly reflects the place where the grapes to make it grew, as wine's be-all and end-all. Call me simple-minded, but let's not lose sight of the fact that wine's first duty is to please our taste buds. If it can do that and also express the nuances of flavor and texture of a certain site, all the better.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

Mental Acuity Breaks Amidst the Vines

Between blind tastings of the 2011 Bordeaux vintage, visits to Domaine de Chavalier, Haut-Villet and Clos Fourtet

Posted: December 11, 2013  By James Molesworth

Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is back in France visiting châteaus in Bordeaux and blind tasting the 2011 vintage. Between blind tastings, Molesworth visited Domaine de Chavalier, Haut-Villet and Clos Fourtet.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Great Wines and Great Values for Holiday Bubbly

California offers something for every taste and budget this season

Posted: December 11, 2013  By Tim Fish

Now that I've been reviewing California sparkling wine for Wine Spectator for the past decade, I can say the wines have never been better, whether it is the luxury "tête de cuvées" or the value wines the Golden State has long been known for.

Look for reviews of some of my favorite California bubblies in the Dec. 31 issue. Meanwhile, here is a selection of the top wines as well as three great values priced at $20 or less.

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

A Taste of Barbaresco and More

Pio Cesare, La Spinetta and Cigliuti reveal the charms of Barbaresco, young and mature

Posted: December 10, 2013  By Bruce Sanderson

Wine Spectator senior editor Bruce Sanderson is blogging from Italy's Piedmont region, where he is visiting growers and tasting the new vintages that will be released in the United States in 2014. In this installment, he tastes the Barbarescos and more at Pio Cesare, La Spinetta and Cigliuti. Here are his notes.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Wine's Greatest Tradition? Innovation

Winemakers like to say that they do things just like the previous generation. Nonsense

Posted: December 10, 2013  By Mitch Frank

In 2008, I had the chance to walk through the cellars of François Raveneau, one of Chablis' greatest producers, to taste the wines and ask Bernard Raveneau how he and his brother Jean-Marie crafted such mind-blowing expressions of Chardonnay. It was one of the most frustrating hours of my life. The wines said a lot. But coaxing lengthy answers from the reserved Bernard was about as likely as getting the small French oak barrels to talk to me. What was the secret of Raveneau's success? "We are just doing what our father did," said Bernard, the first of several times he spoke those words during the day we spent together.

Numerous winemakers have told me the same tale: I am just doing what the previous generation did. Tradition informs every move I make.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

Off to Bordeaux: There's a Bad Moon Rising

Here I go again, again

Posted: December 5, 2013  By James Molesworth

Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is back in France visiting châteaus in Bordeaux and blind tasting the 2011 vintage.

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

A Day in Serralunga d’Alba

Tasting the latest vintages at Giovanni Rosso, Schiavenza and Rivetto

Posted: December 4, 2013  By Bruce Sanderson

Wine Spectator senior editor Bruce Sanderson is blogging from Italy's Piedmont region, where he is visiting growers and tasting the new vintages that will be released in the United States in 2014. He spent a day in Serralunga d'Alba to taste the most recent vintages at Giovanni Rosso, Schiavenza and Rivetto. Here are his notes.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Terroir: Is It in the Microbes?

Latest research suggests bacteria might play a key role

Posted: December 3, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

Last week the University of California at Davis announced its latest research into terroir, that elusive concept that says wine profoundly reflects the place where the grapes it's made from grew. And now we're all trying to figure out what it means. So, I should add, are the scientists who did the study.

Prof. David Mills analyzed the mix of fungi and bacteria in crushed grapes from widely spread vineyards in Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast. By sequencing genes in 273 different lots over two vintages, he and his colleagues found that the microbe communities fell into distinct and predictable patterns depending on their location and grape variety. Intriguingly, the communities in Sonoma looked very different from those in Napa, and Sonoma showed more similarities to Central Coast than it did to Napa.

The big question is what this means for wine.

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

Raising the Bar at Oddero

More than a decade of fine-tuning is paying off with a fine range of 2010 Barolos

Posted: December 2, 2013  By Bruce Sanderson

My first stop in Piedmont was at Oddero (I last visited here in November 2010), where Maria Cristina and Isabella Oddero are at the helm, along with enologist Luca Veglio. This is a very traditional house, with firm, long-lived Barolos, an elegant Barbaresco from the Gallina cru in Neive, a fruity Langhe Nebbiolo and two Barberas, one from Alba and another from Asti.

Since Maria Cristina took over from her father in 1997, she has been observing the vineyards carefully and, along with moving toward organic farming, has changed some small details, both in the vines and in the cellar.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

Cornas' Weekend Warrior

Jérôme Despesse is doing a lot with a little in Cornas when he isn't selling corks

Posted: December 2, 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 eight day, he tasted at Jérôme Despesse, Nicolas Serrette and Domaine du Coulet. Here are his notes.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

A Stubbly Sunday in Cornas

Rugged soul at A. Clape and Jean-Luc Colombo

Posted: November 27, 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 seventh day, he tasted at A. Clape and Jean-Luc Colombo. Here are his notes.

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

Rajat Parr Branches into Burgundy

The globetrotting sommelier-turned-winemaker's 2010 vintage of Maison l'Orée shows promise

Posted: November 26, 2013  By Bruce Sanderson

Rajat Parr, wine director for the Michael Mina group, began making wine in California with the 2004 vintage. What originally began as a quest to vinify whole-cluster Syrah led him to Beckmen's Purisima Mountain Vineyard. He also sourced a little Chardonnay from Jim Clendenen at Au Bon Climat from the 2004 and 2005 harvests.

From 2006 through 2009, Parr's wines were under the Evening Land umbrella before consolidating the Sandhi project with partners Charles Banks and winemaker Sashi Moorman in 2010. Parr and Moorman purchased a 40-acre Pinot Noir vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills from Evening Land in 2012 with plans to make wines from it under the Domaine de la Côte label. Sandhi wines are from purchased fruit.

Now, Parr and Banks are making wine in Burgundy, under the Maison l'Orée label, with the help of Nicolas Potel and his team at Domaine de Bellene in Beaune. I caught up with Parr recently in New York.

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.

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