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Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Falling Down, Getting Up

A big part of winemaking is learning from your failures, as an unusual seminar shows at the In Pursuit of Balance tasting

Posted: March 16, 2015  By Ben O'Donnell

"In this seminar, each winemaker will present a pair of wines that expresses their thinking about the challenges of creating balanced wine. One wine will demonstrate where they think they missed the mark, and one where they think they nailed it." The description caught my attention. At a $125-a-ticket public seminar, admitting that half the wines kinda flopped is gutsy.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

Dialed In

In the fickle wine business, only a few wines offer consistency and quality

Posted: March 13, 2015  By James Molesworth

The wine business is one where Mother Nature plays an enormous role. Combine that with the role that the fallible hand of mankind plays in winemaking, and you can easily see why there are no sure things. So you have to tip your cap to the "dialed-in" wines, as I call them. The ones that have remarkable consistency in both quality and style. These are the wines that you can blindly grab a bottle of any time, in any vintage, and know exactly what you're going to get. Here are two of my favorites.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Where We Buy Wine Is Changing. That's Good, I Think

Wine sales are surging in grocery stores, but winemakers have mixed feelings on the trend

Posted: March 12, 2015  By Mitch Frank

For winemakers, grocery stores are a blessing they're not sure they want.

Over dinner the other night, a California winemaker mentioned that he would be pouring his entry-level wine at one of the country's largest grocery chains in a few days. I assumed he'd be happy about this. His winery sells tens of thousands of cases of this wine at this chain each vintage. But he had mixed feelings.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Wine for Chinese Cuisine? Try Oz

Older classics shine with refined dishes

Posted: March 12, 2015  By Harvey Steiman

A myth persists that Chinese food is bad for wine. And yet, some of my most memorable wine-and-food experiences have involved Peking duck, ginger-laced steamed fish and spicy salt-and-pepper seafood. And the wines transcend the cliché choices of German Riesling and Alsace Gewürztraminer. Last week, for our annual dinner to benefit the Central Coast Wine Classic, Archie McLaren and I gathered the high bidders for our lot and some mature Australian bottles from my cellar at Hakkasan in San Francisco.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Morocco Awakens: Wine in the Muslim World

From the ashes of an industry once built to serve France's bulk market, a wine scene cautiously rises in a progressive Muslim nation

Posted: March 11, 2015  By Ben O'Donnell

Prohibition took an axe to the booming American wine industry. But Prohibition lasted only 13 years—many vines survived, an institutional memory for technique remained, and the people were thirsty again. What if, instead, Prohibition had lasted 1,300 years? This has effectively been the case in a huge swath of the Mediterranean world, from Morocco in the west to Turkey in the east, where Muslim countries have, with intermittent exceptions, been in a wine washout for centuries. Only now is the sea parting. I recently spoke with two wine pros working in Muslim wine cultures that are wildly different.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Popularity and Prosperity vs. Quality of Life in Wine Country

Napa Wrestles with growth and land use

Posted: March 11, 2015  By James Laube

Once again, Napa County is being forced (rightfully) to reassess its state of affairs as relates to competing interests for land use: prosperity vs. well-being.

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

Winebow Group's Leonardo LoCascio Retires

The founder of the national wine importer and distributor introduced Italian wines to American wine lovers

Posted: March 10, 2015  By Bruce Sanderson

Leonardo LoCascio, the nattily dressed chairman of Winebow Group, has decided to hang up his corkscrew, retiring from the company he founded in 1980. Over the past 35 years, LoCascio introduced generations of American wine lovers to the flavors of Italian wine, discovering dozens of producers over the course of his career.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

The Most Dangerous Terroir

Syria is again proving capable of yielding the fine wine it once did for the Romans, says a renowned consultant—if vineyards stay out of ISIS' hands

Posted: March 10, 2015  By Ben O'Donnell

Prohibition took an axe to the booming American wine industry. But Prohibition lasted only 13 years—many vines survived, an institutional memory for technique remained, and the people were thirsty again. What if, instead, Prohibition had lasted 1,300 years? This has effectively been the case in a huge swath of the Mediterranean world, from Morocco in the west to Turkey in the east, where Muslim countries have, with intermittent exceptions, been in a wine washout for centuries. Only now is the sea parting. I recently spoke with two wine pros working in Muslim wine cultures that are wildly different.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Is It All in the Funk?

How "natural wines" can polarize wine drinkers

Posted: March 9, 2015  By Harvey Steiman

I love the idea of natural wines. I'm all in favor of encouraging biological diversity in soils and avoiding pesticides, something the best conventional winegrowers do, too. It's immensely appealing to think of wine fermented, aged and bottled without any intervention. Just let the grapes ferment and stopper up the result. I admire the sense of completeness and harmony that wines from these "natural" winemakers can achieve, when all goes well.

But I keep remembering the words of the late California winemaker André Tchelistcheff. Left to her own devices, Mother Nature is trying to make vinegar, he liked to say.

Blogs  :  Robert Camuto: Letter from Europe

To Boca with Love

The quest to revive a near-lost Nebbiolo terroir in northern Piedmont

Posted: March 9, 2015  By Robert Camuto

Wine Spectator contributing editor Robert Camuto visits Christoph Künzli in the tiny northern Piedmont appellation of Boca, where Kunzli makes ephemeral Nebbiolos.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Are the 2012 Zins Rock Stars?

A snapshot of the vintage as the annual report approaches

Posted: March 4, 2015  By Tim Fish

My expectations for the 2012 California Zinfandels were high from the beginning. Winemakers were giddy, even beyond the typical "best vintage ever" BS you hear after harvest every year. The question is how have those early reactions played out? Therein lies my story.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Taking No Prisoners

Winemaker Jen Beloz faces the challenges (and criticisms) of taking over a beloved brand

Posted: March 3, 2015  By MaryAnn Worobiec

I recently met winemaker Jen Beloz of The Prisoner Wine Company. You've probably heard of the wine, a widely distributed California Zinfandel–based blend with a Francisco Goya etching on the label. It has a huge following.

Thoughtful and energetic, Beloz originally planned to be a marine biologist, but was thrown off course when she first walked into a winery. "The smell of the barrel room got into my soul," she explained. I can relate.

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

Champy Moves Forward

A reorganization shifts the focus to négociant activities for the Burgundy maison

Posted: March 2, 2015  By Bruce Sanderson

Wine Spectator senior editor Bruce Sanderson is in France, visiting domaines and tasting the recent vintages of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs in Burgundy. WineSpectator.com members can read his scores and tasting notes. Today he reports on his visit to Maison Champy.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Pleasant Surprises from the Cellar

Two California wines still good long past their drink-by dates

Posted: February 27, 2015  By Harvey Steiman

I often rummage through the cellar for an older wine to open for dinner. With too many wines I expected to drink up sooner, I'll grab the last bottle remaining of something now forgotten that looked interesting when I acquired it. Two California wines with more age on them than originally anticipated turned out to be pleasant surprises at dinner this week, and with two instructive results.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Let's Not Write Off a Generation Just Yet

Craft beer's success has wineries worried about losing young customers; they're actually gaining potential customers with better palates

Posted: February 27, 2015  By Mitch Frank

Some wine-industry folks are worried that younger consumers are just as open-minded about what they drink. At a Feb. 6 presentation in Napa for the Wine Market Council, longtime analyst John Gillespie shared data illustrating that high-frequency wine drinkers—particularly younger drinkers—increasingly enjoy beer and spirits too.

The younger you are, the more likely you're enjoying beer as well as wine. The survey found that 95 percent of Millennials, 94 percent of Gen Xers and 78 percent of Baby Boomers drink beer at least once per week. The fear is that wine is losing a generation, particularly twenty-something men, to craft beer.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Belt-Tightening Wines for Tax Time

No need to bite the bullet when values abound

Posted: February 25, 2015  By Tim Fish

Yes, friends, it's tax time. Those of you expecting a refund have no doubt already filed and perhaps have received a check by now, and the rest of us, quite candidly, hate your stinking guts.

With all the hardworking Americans writing big fat checks to the government, there may not be a lot of cash left for the necessities … you know, like wine. Not to worry. I've put together a case of terrific wines that cost $25 or less and also have good availability. That's a rare combo these days.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

Tilting at Balance

The In Pursuit of Balance tasting revealed some fine wines, but is the group too focused on an imaginary foe?

Posted: February 24, 2015  By James Molesworth

Last night I attended the In Pursuit Of Balance (IPOB) tasting held in New York. The consumer portion ($125), a 3-hour walkaround tasting, featured more than 30 wineries pouring Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Early-Morning Purple Grins

Tasting at Premiere Napa Valley include Petite Sirah for Breakfast

Posted: February 24, 2015  By MaryAnn Worobiec

It's 9:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I'm standing in a huge room with a couple hundred other wine lovers and just as many barrel samples. My mouth is dry, my cheeks feeling the tug of tannins. My right index finger is stained purple—a side effect of people pouring wine into my glass as I'm still extending it.

Welcome to Premiere Napa Valley.

Blogs  :  Robert Camuto: Letter from Europe

Tradition vs. Terroir in France Profonde

Laurent Macle defies a Jura family tradition

Posted: February 23, 2015  By Robert Camuto

Wine Spectator contributing editor Robert Camuto visits Laurent Macle in France's Jura, where Macle's traditional Burgundy-style Chardonnays are very out of the ordinary in the land of vin jaune.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

The Great Exchange

A strong dollar in the 1980s turned Bordeaux first-growths into steals for U.S. wine drinkers

Posted: February 20, 2015  By James Laube

There was a time when currency exchange rates created a bonanza for American wine drinkers. My first real exposure to the benefits of a strong dollar occurred in the mid-1980s, when the dollar bought the equivalent of 10 French francs. The fanciest of French wines became bargains for American wine drinkers.

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