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Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

A Washington Winery with California Connections

Helen Keplinger takes on a new role as consultant at Force Majeure

Posted: January 27, 2015  By Harvey Steiman

The Washington winery that snagged the winemaker from Bryant Family, a California cult favorite, has added to the intrigue by bringing Helen Keplinger into the fold, too. Keplinger was Bryant's winemaker for two years before going off on her own in 2012 to focus on Grenache.

Now she's signed on to consult with the innovative Force Majeure, where her former assistant at Bryant, Todd Alexander, was named winemaker last year. Alexander worked at PlumpJack and followed Keplinger as Bryant's ace in the cellar, a position Philippe Melka, Helen Turley and Mark Aubert held previously. Starry names, all.

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

Tasting Excellence at Domaine Leroy: Part I

An overview of several vintages of some of Burgundy’s benchmark wines

Posted: January 27, 2015  By Bruce Sanderson

Wine Spectator senior editor Bruce Sanderson is in France, visiting domaines and tasting the recent vintages of red and white Burgundies. members can read his scores and tasting notes. Today he visited Domaine Leroy.

Blogs  :  Robert Camuto: Letter from Europe

The Vinarchiste of Bergerac

Why would a formidable Frenchman shift from reds to whites?

Posted: January 26, 2015  By Robert Camuto

Wine Spectator contributing editor Robert Camuto talks to Luc de Conti about his unorthodox decision to pull up his red-wine grapevines in southwest France and replace them with Sauvignon Blanc and other white varieties.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Aiming for Wines of Longevity

South African vintners shoot for wines that last decades

Posted: January 23, 2015  By James Laube

Wine Spectator senior editor James Laube looks at South African vintners' efforts to make wines that can age for decades.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Thorny Brambles vs. Sunny Fruit

Warring sides among today's wine lovers

Posted: January 22, 2015  By Harvey Steiman

The biggest divide in the wine world isn't between high alcohol and low alcohol, it's between fruit and savory. Many people shy away from the wet earth, cedar, meat and herb qualities preferred by those who go for savory styles. Most people like fruit. The contrasting 2011 and 2012 Oregon Pinot Noir vintages offer a perfect illustration.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

An Introduction to the Cape

The wines of South Africa can be challenging, but the effort is rewarded

Posted: January 21, 2015  By James Laube

Wine Spectator senior editor James Laube returns from South Africa with impressions of the improving wine region.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

A Wish List for 2015

No one can predict the future, but here are my anticipated highlights of the year ahead

Posted: January 14, 2015  By Tim Fish

Here are a few of the things I'm looking forward to in 2015, including eating more foie gras and drinking more Merlot and Zindandel.

Blogs  :  Robert Camuto: Letter from Europe

Charlie's Labels

The terror attack in Paris also took the lives of three of France's most outrageous wine label designers

Posted: January 14, 2015  By Robert Camuto

This past week, the words "Je suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie") have traveled the world in sympathy with the victims of the deadly jihadist terrorist attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. Among the slain were five of France's most celebrated cartoonists. Three of them were also among the country's most outrageous wine label designers.

"They were my friends," explains Bordeaux winemaker Gérard Descrambe, 65. For more than 40 years, Descrambes commissioned Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and others to make eye-catching labels that varied from drunken to suggestive to sexually explicit humor.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

A Seminal Star Winks Out

Étoile, the restaurant at Domaine Chandon, launched an era

Posted: January 13, 2015  By Harvey Steiman

The restaurant that jump-started fine dining in Napa Valley closed Jan. 1, to be converted into an elaborate tasting room. Étoile had too much competition from the long list of great restaurants that stretch from Napa to Calistoga these days, and its operators reportedy could not reach an agreement on lease arrangements.

Blogs  :  Robert Camuto: Letter from Europe

The Sweet Life

Can this Monbazillac open your mind?

Posted: January 12, 2015  By Robert Camuto

Wine Spectator contributing editor Robert Camuto visits Bruno Bilancini, owner and winemaker at Château Tirecul La Gravière, where Bilancini makes delicious, highly sought dessert wines in the unappreciated Monbazillac appellation of southwest France.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Costco Cuts It

Kirkland Signature is not just any house brand—your favorite vineyard may be in that $20 bottle

Posted: January 8, 2015  By Ben O'Donnell

Kirkland Signature may be a generic house brand, but it's from one of the biggest wine retailers on the planet. Now with an all-star lineup of partners, Costco may just be bottling your favorite vineyard in that $20 Napa Cab.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Tickets and Tips

Changing ways to book and pay for dining out

Posted: January 6, 2015  By Harvey Steiman

Technology is changing how we book restaurant tables and pay for dinner. The people behind Alinea and Next in Chicago are making their innovative system, Tock, available to other restaurants. Per Se in New York and, when it reopens later this year, the French Laundry in Napa Valley are both switching to this system. Trois Mec in Los Angeles has been ticketing since it opened last year, and Coi in San Francisco has been using it as well.

It works like any event ticket. Pay in advance and show up at the appointed time. Walk out when you're finished.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

R.I.P. Arthur “Jay” Fritz Jr.

Reflecting on a former boss

Posted: January 5, 2015  By MaryAnn Worobiec

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Arthur "Jay" Fritz Jr. over the weekend. A long time ago, before my nearly 18-year-so-far (yikes!) tenure at Wine Spectator, I worked for J. Fritz Winery (now called the Fritz Underground Winery), and Jay was my boss.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

For Bubbles, Which Glass Is Best?

The in crowd avoids flutes and flat saucers for something bigger

Posted: December 30, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

With New Year's Eve approaching, Wine Spectator editor at large Harvey Steiman examines the range of wineglass options for Champagne.

Blogs  :  Kim Marcus' Prunings

Austria’s Émile Zola

Weingut Prager's Toni Bodenstein is fiercely devoted to preserving the diversity of Austria's grapevines

Posted: December 29, 2014  By Kim Marcus

Wine Spectator managing editor Kim Marcus visits Weingut Prager's Toni Bodenstein, who is fiercely devoted to preserving the diversity of Austria's grapevines.

Blogs  :  Robert Camuto: Letter from Europe

Italian Brew-Ha-Ha

How a son of a Piedmontese winemaker launched Italy’s craft beer scene

Posted: December 22, 2014  By Robert Camuto

Wine Spectator contributing editor Robert Camuto visits Teo Musso, the man who launched Italy's craft beer movement.

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

My 2014 Wine Highlights

A brief reflection on an incredible year of tasting

Posted: December 19, 2014  By Bruce Sanderson

Wine Spectator senior editor Bruce Sanderson reflects on his favorite wines of 2014.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

A Generation of Château Pavie Macquin

A 20-vintage vertical shows how fine tweaks can make big differences

Posted: December 18, 2014  By James Molesworth

Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth returns to Bordeaux, where he'll be tasting the 2012 vintage in bottle. He's also making château visits, and today he visited Pavie Macquin to taste a 20-vintage vertical of the St.-Emilion red.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Rethinking Wine in Cooking

Danish chef Christian Puglisi of Relæ explains how to use wine like seasoning

Posted: December 18, 2014  By Harvey Steiman

Good cooks know that just splashing a bit of wine into a sauce or a dish as it cooks is no way to get the most out of it. What matters is how good the wine is, when and how much is added, and how long it's cooked.

In the recently published Relæ: A Book of Ideas (Ten Speed, $50), chef Christian Puglisi outlines his approach to using wine, honed working at El Bulli and Noma. At Relæ, his restaurant in Copenhagen, he uses wine directly from the bottle only for long-cooked dishes where wine must bathe the food, such as beef Bourguignon or Piemontese brasato. But for most dishes, especially sauces, he prefers to boil down the wine in advance and add it to taste.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Line in the Sand

Why should a single number separate wine lovers from each other?

Posted: December 18, 2014  By MaryAnn Worobiec

One of the conversations going around (and around) in wine circles lately has been the discussion about balance, alcohol and the imaginary line in the sand of 14 percent alcohol.

The other day I was picking a wine to bring to a friend's house for dinner. My friend is one of those "13.9 percent good, 14 percent bad" people. We've had multiple conversations about the topic, and I've even gone so far as to serve him wine in paper bags to distract him from this number--and to prove that he can, in fact, enjoy a wine at 14 percent alcohol or higher. He's unphased.

But the process of trying to find a wine we would both like made me sad that his wine world is so small, when there are a lot of great bottles I would have loved to share with him. Why do there have to be "sides" in the world of wine?

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