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Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Stylistic Considerations: To Buy or Not

The 2012 Sonoma Pinot Noirs will require patience

Posted: October 30, 2014  By James Laube

I've been tasting more 2012 Sonoma-grown Pinot Noirs of late, and the same pattern of quality and style emerges as I've discussed previously: These are fairly tannic, tight, backward wines that are not showy, or fruity, or generous, terms often applied to California Pinots (and California wines in general).

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Cyrus Blooms Again in Alexander Valley

After two years on hiatus, top Sonoma restaurant reboots in a new locale

Posted: October 29, 2014  By Tim Fish

Cyrus was Sonoma County's top restaurant when it closed two years ago. The timing was ironic, since Healdsburg's dining scene in 2012 was almost red hot, a fire that Cyrus helped ignite when it opened in 2005.

Partners Nick Peyton and Douglas Keane always said Cyrus was only on hiatus, and now the reboot is officially in the works. Sorry, reservations aren't being accepted yet. You'll have to wait until 2016. That's a long time, but considering what Keane, Peyton and their investors have in mind, it's just around the corner.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Next Wave of Oregon Vineyards

Wineries finding more special sites for their Pinot Noirs

Posted: October 27, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

For Pinot Noir, the vineyard defines the potential of any wine made from its grapes. As Oregon has established itself, every winery with ambition seems to compete for access to the same well-known independent vineyards—among them Shea, Guadalupe, Hyland, Meredith Mitchell, Momtazi, Stoller, Temperance Hill and Freedom Hill. In my own tastings and on visits in Oregon recently, unfamiliar names are starting to show their moxie. Two vintners, in particular, make a point of it.

Blogs  :  Robert Camuto: Letter from Europe

Beauty in the Beast

Coaxing subtlety from an Italian monster

Posted: October 27, 2014  By Robert Camuto

Giampaolo Tabarrini knows Sagrantino. He is a fourth-generation winemaker whose father and grandfather sold their Sagrantino wines in bulk to French and Luxembourg merchants. He still lives on the family farm in a rural hamlet outside Montefalco, with his wife, son, parents and assorted other Tabarrini.

Fifteen years ago, his father handed more than 50 acres of vineyards and the wine business over to him. When he started putting his own wine in bottles, Tabarrini noticed differences in his three principal Sagrantino vineyards, all located in a cool part of the wine zone that is one of the last to be harvested in late October. With the 2003 vintage, he started bottling the wines separately.

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

Hallowed Ground: Burgundy's Comte Georges de Vogüé

Refinement shows in a vertical tasting of Musigny Vieilles Vignes and the rare Musigny Blanc

Posted: October 24, 2014  By Bruce Sanderson

As the largest owner of Musigny, with roughly two-thirds of the grand cru holdings, Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé is an important player in Burgundy. I tasted 8 vintages of Musigny Vieilles Vignes and the rare Musigny Blanc, going back to 1992. Here are my notes.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

The French Keep Coming

Big-name Burgundians have arrived in Willamette Valley

Posted: October 21, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

It was a moment of validation for Oregon wine in 1987 when Robert Drouhin, patriarch of the Beaune-based négociant firm, bought land for a vineyard in Willamette Valley. Over the years Domaine Drouhin Oregon's wines, made by his daughter Véronique Drouhin-Boss, earned a reputation for finesse and consistency.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Behind Every Great Glass of Wine Is a Person with a Great Story

The Wine Experience isn't just about wine

Posted: October 16, 2014  By Mitch Frank

If you walk into a room where more than 260 of the world's best wines are being poured, your initial thought is undoubtedly, “Where do I get a glass?” The Wine Spectator Wine Experience begins Thursday night with the first of two Grand Tastings, where wine lovers get to grab a glass and taste. For more than a week now, many of my colleagues have been offering advice on which wines you shouldn't miss.

But here's my advice: Don't forget about the folks pouring the wine.

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

Our Tasting Is Designed for You

The Wine Experience Grand Tasting floor map will take attendees on a wine journey around the world

Posted: October 15, 2014  By Bruce Sanderson

For a dozen years or so, I have worked with our events department organizing the floor plan for the Grand Tastings at the Wine Spectator Wine Experience. The primary goal is to create an interesting flow of regions, grape varieties and wineries for the attendees. The collateral benefit is that I get a preview of the more than 260 producers who will be there and the wines they are presenting.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Not Just Another Silicon Valley Wine Wannabe

Sir Peter Michael builds a lasting legacy in Sonoma’s Knights Valley

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.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Riesling in Oregon

It's not just Chardonnay and Pinot Gris for white wines

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.

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

Phenomenal Nebbiolo

The 2010 vintage in Barolo is delivering on its early promise

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.

Blogs  :  Robert Camuto: Letter from Europe

To Hail and Back

A freewheeling Provence winemaker’s ride from ruin to recovery

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.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

A Pinot with a View—of Marcassin

A look at Fred and Carol Schrader's new Boars' View Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

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.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

A Manhattan Wine Story

Looking forward to the Wine Spectator Wine Experience Grand Tastings

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.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

A Grand Plan for the Grand Tastings

Don't walk into a room with 260 of the world's best wines without a strategy

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.

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.

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