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Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Legalize It

New York is cracking down on illegal direct shipping. Why are retailers and wine lovers outraged over enforcement rather than lobbying to legalize it?

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.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Fine-Tune Your Palate

Next week's Wine Spectator Wine Experience is the place to be

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.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Oregon Pinot Noir on a Roll

Even 2013, which looked like a disaster, is worth a good look

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.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

How It Should Be Done

Two New York sommeliers balance old and new styles eclectically

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.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

An Exciting New Santa Barbara Red

Tensley and TGIC Importers team up for a unique blend

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.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Discovering the New and the Classics

With more than 250 wines to taste at the Grand Tasting, everyone needs a game plan

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."

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Mapping Out the Grand Tastings

Wines to make a beeline to sample at the 2014 Wine Spectator Wine Experience

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.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

The 2014 Cape Winemakers Guild Wines

New reviews of 47 new additions to the Cape Winemakers Guild auction in South Africa

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.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Last of the Summer Wine

Hang on to those sunny days with these good-value reds

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.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

California Harvest Heats Up

With rain on the horizon, winemakers in Napa and Sonoma are starting to bring in more grapes

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.

Blogs  :  Robert Camuto: Letter from Europe

The Wrath of My Grapes

A hard-learned winemaking lesson: Growing is the tough part

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.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Charles Smith Plants His Flag in Seattle

New winery to have a big presence south of the city

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.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Making Sense of Middle Earth

Insights from an intensive tour of New Zealand's wine regions

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.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

A Quarterback Finds His Target

Drew Bledsoe's Doubleback gains yardage—er, acreage—in Walla Walla

Posted: September 17, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

On a warm September afternoon, Drew Bledsoe stood in an acre of closely cropped grass. The ex-NFL star quarterback adjusted his sunglasses and surveyed the field, only he wasn't looking over a menacing defense but rows and rows of young grapevines. Their purple bunches of Cabernet Sauvignon stood out against close-cropped green canopies cascading down a steep north-facing slope. In the distance, buildings in the town of Walla Walla reflected the afternoon sun.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Can a Napa Icon Be Saved?

The Trefethen family vows to restore the historic but quake-damaged McIntyre winery

Posted: September 17, 2014  By Tim Fish

Of all the dramatic visuals the morning after the Napa earthquake—the shattered wine cellars and landslides of fallen barrels—nothing for me was more startling than the live TV images of the historic McIntyre building, crippled and sagging on the grounds of Trefethen Vineyards in Yountville.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

A Wine That Makes 40 Look Like 18

What to drink for your 40th birthday? A wine that won't fade away anytime soon

Posted: September 17, 2014  By Mitch Frank

Wine Spectator associate editor Mitch Frank opens a bottle even older than he is for his 40th birthday, a Madeira-a d'Oliveira Boal 1968.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Grange’s Enduring Greatness

Consistency has been a strength for both the legendary Australian Shiraz and its label

Posted: September 12, 2014  By James Laube

Whenever I come face to face with a bottle of Penfolds Grange, as I did on two nights this week, several thoughts quickly come to mind.

I'm reminded of how fantastic this wine remains, and why it is still revered as one of Australia's greatest wines. I think too of its creator, Max Schubert, and the time we met in the 1980s, one of those special moments where I felt as if I were standing next to a legend, an original.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Tasting Room 101: A Guide for Beginners and Pros Alike

It's harvest in Northern California and with the earthquake behind us, it’s time to hit the wine roads

Posted: September 10, 2014  By Tim Fish

Wine Spectator senior editor Tim Fish offers tips for visiting winery tasting rooms, from etiquette to what to expect to pay to what and who to bring.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Terroir on a Big Scale

Millbrandt winemaker explores what it means in Washington

Posted: September 9, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

There are those who say only steely, lean wines can express terroir, but the style of Millbrandt's Chardonnay The Estates 2013 ($20) runs counter to that. This is a rich, plush Washington white, but the spicy aromatics and creamy texture play against vibrant acidity, a core of peach and melon finishing with length and a sense of elegance.

Millbrandt, a big vineyard owner in eastern Washington, sells grapes to a roster of A-list wineries, and makes its own wines as well. The Estates Chardonnay comes from its Evergreen Vineyard in the cool-climate Ancient Lakes AVA. It lies on shallow soils littered with chalk and limestone that are earning a reputation for crisp, minerally white wines. You can taste it in this wine.

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

Enjoying the Fruits of Tuscany’s Bounty

Delicious produce, pasta and salume abound among the region’s rolling hills and hilltop towns

Posted: September 9, 2014  By Bruce Sanderson

I'm typically in Tuscany in late March or April, when its abundant bounty of fruit and vegetables is in its earlier stages of development, so it was a welcome change to spend a week there in late August.

Every meal was a delight of fresh, local products, from ripe, juicy and flavorful tomatoes, succulent peaches, plums and apricots, zucchini, carrots, beans and local herbs. Even better that most of the dishes were accompanied by tangy olive oil and washed down with (mostly) local wines.

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