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Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

A Stop at the Northern Rhône Pop & Son

Philippe Guigal shows off his family's 2012 and 2011 reds and whites

Posted: November 15, 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 third day, he spent the afternoon at E. Guigal. Here are his notes.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

What Happens When the Moscato Music Stops? Part 2

Is the mass-market fizz pulling up the premium styles? And what does the future hold for Muscat once the bubble bursts?

Posted: November 15, 2013  By Ben O'Donnell

A few years ago, I wrote a feature about Jorge Ordóñez & Co., a relatively new winemaking outfit from the heavyweight Spanish importer, in the foothills surrounding his native city of Málaga. The wines of the region were typically sweet wines made from Moscatel de Alejandría grapes left to raisinate on the vine or on straw mats. Ordóñez began making four wines in this style, plus a dry Moscatel called Botani.

My visit in 2010 predated the Moscato madness, so I shot an e-mail to Victoria Ordóñez (she oversees operations on the ground) asking if the thirst for Moscato had swelled upward past the $9 price point to wines of Ordóñez's caliber--the Botani retails at about $17. Sales were indeed up.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

What Happens When the Moscato Music Stops?

Can the gold rush reach more venerable styles of Muscat, or will its collapse leave the wine's reputation in shambles?

Posted: November 14, 2013  By Ben O'Donnell

Australia soaked the world with critter labels. Zinfandel was lobotomized into a candy wine. Italian bubbly became an '80s ad jingle. California Merlot got overplanted, then yelled at in a popular movie. You know what happened next: The producers who got intoxicated on mass-market success didn't lift their premium counterparts with the rising tide-instead, they eventually torpedoed the whole category.

After the inevitable crash in market share and reputation, each of these regions or wine types floated facedown for years, even decades, before their recent renaissances as wines capable of depth and nuance. (Australia and Merlot are still swimming upstream, arguably.)

What next, then, once Moscato hits the iceberg?

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

From a Mom & Pop to a Pop & Sons

A stone's throw separates traditonal and modern-styled Côte-Rôties at neighbors Domaine Clusel-Roch and Jean-Michel Gerin

Posted: November 13, 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 third day, he started his visits at Domaine Clusel-Roch and Jean-Michel Gerin. Here are his notes.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Have You Ever Tasted a Perfect Wine?

Many wines are outstanding, but a truly 100-point wine is rare

Posted: November 13, 2013  By Tim Fish

I've tasted a lot of great wines over the years but I'm not sure I've ever tasted a perfect one. Perfection, as I see it, is a tricky business. It's like fog: You know it's there, but just try catching it.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

The Northern Rhône's New Kids on the Block

More 2012 Côte-Rôties, along with intriguing wines from Hermitage, St.-Joseph and Condrieu at Pierre-Jean Villa and Julien Pilon

Posted: November 11, 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 second day, he finished his visits at Pierre-Jean Villa and Julien Pilon. Here are his notes.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Grading the 100-Point Scale

Winemakers have come to embrace the 100-point rating system as much as consumers have

Posted: November 11, 2013  By James Laube

One big benefit of the 100-point scale is that it has given winemakers a target. It's one way for critics to show vintners where their strike zone lies.

Consumers embraced the scoring system a long time ago. Vintners were more skeptical and cautious. They can rate their own wines intellectually, by flavor, density, balance—any number of ways—but assigning a number, or even using the esoteric descriptors most wine writers use, hasn't fit their comfort zone.

That's changed.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

There Are Brunettes, and Then There Are Brunettes

Côte Brunes were a few of the day's many highlights at Jean-Paul & Jean-Luc Jamet and Georges Vernay

Posted: November 8, 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 second day, he started off with visits to Jean-Paul & Jean-Luc Jamet and Georges Vernay. Here are his notes.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

Memories of Charlie Trotter

Chicago's legendary chef showed the way for many others

Posted: November 7, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

The news Tuesday stunned the food and wine world. Charlie Trotter, the legendary Chicago chef who, as much as anyone, defined modern fine dining in America, was dead. At 54, how could this be?

It turns out he had a secret. He had been diagnosed with an aneurysm deep inside his brain, according to friend and sommelier Larry Stone in Chicago Tribune's obituary. It was inoperable. But he refused to use his illness to play for sympathy. Instead, he announced just after midnight on New Year's 2012 that he would be closing his restaurant after a 25-year run to pursue an advanced degree in philosophy and travel with his wife.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

How Do You Become an Expert in Bordeaux?

4 tips for getting a handle on this uber-famous, sort-of-complicated, not-always-pricey wine region

Posted: November 7, 2013  By Jennifer Fiedler

It’s no secret that Bordeaux wines have a bit of a perception problem among U.S. consumers. In a 2012 blog post, senior editor James Molesworth, our lead taster for Bordeaux, said the Bordelais see the U.S. market “slipping away” on account of an “image issue, driven by the escalating prices of the top châteaus.”

A number of good reasons for exploring Bordeaux wines were outlined in that post, including a raft of under-$20 values, cellar-worthy wines at modest prices, stylistic diversity and a move to green farming and winemaking practices. But still, for many people just getting into wine, Bordeaux remains something of an unknown. How much does a consumer really need to know to buy a good bottle?

I asked Bernard Sun, corporate beverage director for Jean-Georges Restaurants, how he would recommend tackling the region. Here are his tips.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

A Blonde and a Brunette

My first day back in the Rhône Valley, I visited Benjamin & David Duclaux and Michel & Stéphane Ogier to taste the 2012 Côte-Rôties

Posted: November 6, 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 first day, he visited Benjamin & David Duclaux and Michel & Stéphane Ogier. Here are his notes.

Blogs  :  Exploring Wine with Tim Fish

Hearty Reds for the Fleeting Sunlight

Put away those frivolous wines of summer and drink something fit for autumn

Posted: November 6, 2013  By Tim Fish

Fall arrived in Sonoma County on Monday, or at least it finally felt like it, finally. It was something in the air, that hard to define mix of fleeting sunlight, long shadows and leaves in the breeze. Autumn comes late in Northern California and lingers only until the first serious storm blows in from the Pacific.

I'm in the mood for different wines when the weather changes. The flavors are generally richer, deeper and more multifaceted, so I look for a wine that's similar. A zesty red Rhône blend is often perfect, likewise Syrah and Zinfandel, plus red blends from Italy and Spain. Here are a few affordable picks for the fall.

Blogs  :  Mixed Case: Opinion and Advice

Books to Boost Your Green IQ: The Green Vine

Shannon Borg's new tome offers a jumping-on point for wine lovers interested in eco-friendly drinking

Posted: November 5, 2013  By Dana Nigro

When I first decided that how a wine is grown mattered to me as much as whether I enjoy the taste, I wished I had a handy reference that laid out all the environmentally friendly practices, certifications and wineries. Instead, I spent months reading books and websites, interviewing experts, tracking down certified or practicing producers, touring vineyards and wineries and poring over retail shelves. (See Green Revolutionaries.)

Washington wine writer, educator and sommelier Shannon Borg wanted the same thing when she started her journey, so she curated her own personal introduction to the topic, focusing on the U.S. West Coast. The result is The Green Vine, a nice stocking stuffer of a book for eco-minded foodies who want to learn more about wine or for wine lovers who've decided it's time to know more about sustainable, organic and biodynamic winegrowing.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

No Time Like the Present

There's no guarantee when it comes to aging wines

Posted: November 4, 2013  By James Laube

More than one person asked me during the Wine Spectator Wine Experience, "What is the fascination with wines aging?" To one man's ears, several vintners emphasized not only the youth of their wines but that they had long lives ahead. Since I'm not a fan of aged wines, the answer was easy and came in parts.

In my experience, and to my tastes, most wines don't improve with age. Most of the time they stay about the same for the first few years of their lives. Therefore, there's little motivation to cellar them.

But there are just as many wine lovers on the other side of the ledger. Old or long-lived wines evoke excitement among connoisseurs, a sort of time travel that can provide a unique drinking experience, provided you like the wines once they've aged. The biggest tradeoff that comes with age affects its fruit profile. The compromise: pure fruit vitality for the subtle nuances that may come with time.

Lynch isn't much a fan of California wine, yet it appears that he disqualifies himself from passing judgment on the mere basis that he hasn't and doesn't follow California's wines as closely as many. His import business is based in St. Helena, in Napa Valley, run by a Napa vintner, Bruce Neyers, and I suspect Lynch pays far greater attention to California wine than he allows. He is, after all, a businessman who competes against California.

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

Returning to the Rhône for Syrah's Northern Lights

Back in France's Rhône Valley, to taste the 2012 vintage and more

Posted: November 4, 2013  By James Molesworth

It's time. Time to head back to the Rhône. It's been a little while since my last trip in June 2012. Prior to that, I worked my way through the Northern Rhône in April 2011. So I wonder: Could I be rusty? Nah, I doubt it ...

My current annual Rhône report is in the Nov. 30 issue and it focuses on the 2011 vintage, now on retail shelves in the U.S. There will be plenty more 2011s to taste, but I am also beginning to turn my attention to 2012, which is the vintage I will be tasting during this trip (though sometimes producers will show other vintages as well.)

Blogs  :  Bruce Sanderson Decanted

17 Vintages of Bruno Giacosa

A vertical tasting of the master’s Barbaresco and Barolo riservas illustrates a transparency that reveals vintage and vineyard character

Posted: November 4, 2013  By Bruce Sanderson

Bruno Giacosa is an icon of Piedmont. A guardian of the traditional style, he has made benchmark Barbarescos and Barolos since 1961. I recently had the opportunity to taste 17 vintages of Giacosa’s Barbaresco Asili Riserva, Barolo Falletto Riserva and Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva spanning the years 2008 to 1967.

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

In Rare Harmony with Matt Kramer

At Matt Kramer's Wine Experience seminar, our wine tastes aligned

Posted: October 31, 2013  By James Laube

It happens. Not often, but it happens: Matt Kramer and I agree on a wine. In this case, three wines.

Kramer had just led a seminar of Portuguese and Spanish wines from terraced vineyards, and I complimented him on his wine selections, which momentarily caught him off balance.

"I'm happy," I offered in jest. "Your palate is really coming around."

Blogs  :  James Laube's Wine Flights

Let the Consumers Decide if Natural Wines Are Popular

An interview with Kermit Lynch asserts that ripe wines are off the menu, but sales don't bear that out

Posted: October 30, 2013  By James Laube

Last week, while in New York for the Wine Spectator Wine Experience, many people brought up Kermit Lynch's interview in the New York Times, in which he discusses high-alcohol wines, the 100-point rating system, terroir and natural wines, among other hot-button wine topics. I have a few thoughts of my own to offer …

Lynch isn't much a fan of California wine, yet it appears that he disqualifies himself from passing judgment on the mere basis that he hasn't and doesn't follow California's wines as closely as many. His import business is based in St. Helena, in Napa Valley, run by a Napa vintner, Bruce Neyers, and I suspect Lynch pays far greater attention to California wine than he allows. He is, after all, a businessman who competes against California.

Blogs  :  Harvey Steiman At Large

When Did Clean Become a Dirty Word?

A spin through the Wine Experience proves good wine doesn't need funk for character

Posted: October 29, 2013  By Harvey Steiman

Am I the only person dismayed at how the discourse about wine seems to have devolved into posturing about whether this particular wine is "natural" enough, or that one has enough "authenticity"?

Blogs  :  Stirring the Lees with James Molesworth

Pierre Lurton Talks Yquem Magic

Sneak peaks at the newest releases from Château d'Yquem show amazing quality

Posted: October 24, 2013  By James Molesworth

With the 2013 New York Wine Experience about to kick off tonight, it's no surprise to see a few vintners strolling through the Wine Spectator offices today. I sat down with Pierre Lurton this morning to get a sneak peek at the two newest releases from the famed Château d'Yquem—both the 2011 Sauternes and 2012 dry white.

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