Posted: December 11, 2013 By Tim Fish
Now that I've been reviewing California sparkling wine for Wine Spectator for the past decade, I can say the wines have never been better, whether it is the luxury "tête de cuvées" or the value wines the Golden State has long been known for.
Look for reviews of some of my favorite California bubblies in the Dec. 31 issue. Meanwhile, here is a selection of the top wines as well as three great values priced at $20 or less.
Posted: December 10, 2013 By Bruce Sanderson
Wine Spectator senior editor Bruce Sanderson is blogging from Italy's Piedmont region, where he is visiting growers and tasting the new vintages that will be released in the United States in 2014. In this installment, he tastes the Barbarescos and more at Pio Cesare, La Spinetta and Cigliuti. Here are his notes.
Posted: December 10, 2013 By Mitch Frank
In 2008, I had the chance to walk through the cellars of François Raveneau, one of Chablis' greatest producers, to taste the wines and ask Bernard Raveneau how he and his brother Jean-Marie crafted such mind-blowing expressions of Chardonnay. It was one of the most frustrating hours of my life. The wines said a lot. But coaxing lengthy answers from the reserved Bernard was about as likely as getting the small French oak barrels to talk to me. What was the secret of Raveneau's success? "We are just doing what our father did," said Bernard, the first of several times he spoke those words during the day we spent together.
Numerous winemakers have told me the same tale: I am just doing what the previous generation did. Tradition informs every move I make.
Posted: December 5, 2013 By James Molesworth
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is back in France visiting châteaus in Bordeaux and blind tasting the 2011 vintage.
Posted: December 4, 2013 By Bruce Sanderson
Wine Spectator senior editor Bruce Sanderson is blogging from Italy's Piedmont region, where he is visiting growers and tasting the new vintages that will be released in the United States in 2014. He spent a day in Serralunga d'Alba to taste the most recent vintages at Giovanni Rosso, Schiavenza and Rivetto. Here are his notes.
Posted: December 3, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
Last week the University of California at Davis announced its latest research into terroir, that elusive concept that says wine profoundly reflects the place where the grapes it's made from grew. And now we're all trying to figure out what it means. So, I should add, are the scientists who did the study.
Prof. David Mills analyzed the mix of fungi and bacteria in crushed grapes from widely spread vineyards in Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast. By sequencing genes in 273 different lots over two vintages, he and his colleagues found that the microbe communities fell into distinct and predictable patterns depending on their location and grape variety. Intriguingly, the communities in Sonoma looked very different from those in Napa, and Sonoma showed more similarities to Central Coast than it did to Napa.
The big question is what this means for wine.
Posted: December 2, 2013 By Bruce Sanderson
My first stop in Piedmont was at Oddero (I last visited here in November 2010), where Maria Cristina and Isabella Oddero are at the helm, along with enologist Luca Veglio. This is a very traditional house, with firm, long-lived Barolos, an elegant Barbaresco from the Gallina cru in Neive, a fruity Langhe Nebbiolo and two Barberas, one from Alba and another from Asti.
Since Maria Cristina took over from her father in 1997, she has been observing the vineyards carefully and, along with moving toward organic farming, has changed some small details, both in the vines and in the cellar.
Posted: December 2, 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 eight day, he tasted at Jérôme Despesse, Nicolas Serrette and Domaine du Coulet. Here are his notes.
Posted: November 27, 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 seventh day, he tasted at A. Clape and Jean-Luc Colombo. Here are his notes.
Posted: November 26, 2013 By Bruce Sanderson
Rajat Parr, wine director for the Michael Mina group, began making wine in California with the 2004 vintage. What originally began as a quest to vinify whole-cluster Syrah led him to Beckmen's Purisima Mountain Vineyard. He also sourced a little Chardonnay from Jim Clendenen at Au Bon Climat from the 2004 and 2005 harvests.
From 2006 through 2009, Parr's wines were under the Evening Land umbrella before consolidating the Sandhi project with partners Charles Banks and winemaker Sashi Moorman in 2010. Parr and Moorman purchased a 40-acre Pinot Noir vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills from Evening Land in 2012 with plans to make wines from it under the Domaine de la Côte label. Sandhi wines are from purchased fruit.
Now, Parr and Banks are making wine in Burgundy, under the Maison l'Orée label, with the help of Nicolas Potel and his team at Domaine de Bellene in Beaune. I caught up with Parr recently in New York.
Posted: November 26, 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 sixth day, he tasted at Delas, Maison Nicolas Perrin and Domaine Vallet. Here are his notes.
Posted: November 25, 2013 By James Laube
One of the hard truths about wine is that eventually you'll get priced out. That is, the wines you gravitate to and find so comfortably affordable will cost more.
These are often wines your special go-to wines, the wines you "discovered," and didn't want anyone else to find out about. Barring your own dramatic shifts in good fortune, they will eventually extend beyond your financial reach. The main reason is that quality wines will almost always reach a broader audience, which inevitably leads to higher prices.
Posted: November 22, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
When I could not get to Australia for the Henschke winery's massive 40-vintage tasting of its signature wine earlier this year, the iconic Shiraz Hill of Grace, Stephen Henschke offered to bring a few of the older vintages to me when he came for the New York Wine Experience.
Here are my scores and tasting notes on the Henschke Hill of Grace 1973, 1986, 1990, 2001 and 2008.
Posted: November 22, 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 fifth day, he tasted at Marceline & David Reynaud, Pierre Gonon and Jean-Louis Chave. Here are his notes.
Posted: November 21, 2013 By Robert Taylor
This past August, the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) quietly issued a cease-and-desist letter to New Jersey's Wine Library, one of the largest retailers in the Garden State and a popular wine source for many New Yorkers.
The SLA ordered Wine Library to stop shipping wine to New Yorkers, a practice that is technically illegal but that has been happening for years without complaint or repercussion. Cease-and-desist letter or not, the ban is practically unenforceable-the SLA simply doesn't have the manpower to adequately monitor interstate sales.
Because of the letter, Wine Library and a few other out-of-state retailers indicated they would stop selling wine to New Yorkers. New York retailers worried that they would start receiving similar letters from alcohol authorities in other states, as a form of retaliation. Since then, however, there's been nothing but silence from the authorities, and Wine Library has continued shipping wine to New York.
Posted: November 20, 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 fourth day, he spent the afternoon tasting with Michel Chapoutier. Here are his notes.
Posted: November 20, 2013 By Tim Fish
My family has been celebrating Thanksgiving and Hanukkah side-by-side for decades. My wife's Jewish family gathers every year in Southern California and we all celebrate Hanukkah on the day after. (Even if it's technically weeks away.) We eat leftovers and there's usually a brisket, too.
And wine of course. If you think selecting a wine to go along with the turkey dinner spread is tough, just trying adding a brisket to the dilemma. It's impossible of course, so I usually open a little of everything and let everyone pick what they want for both events.
For Thanksgiving I look for lighter- to -medium-body reds like Pinot Noir (or Burgundy), Beaujolais or a red blend that's not too tannic, plus a floral white like Riesling, a delicate Chablis or (even better) a fruit-forward rosé. Here are 10 of my recommendations.
Posted: November 18, 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 fourth day, he spent the morning tasting Michel Chapoutier's many projects, including Pierre-Henri Morel and Ferraton Père & Fils. Here are his notes.
Posted: November 18, 2013 By James Laube
Jon Bonné insists he doesn’t dislike all California wine, but he’s hardly enamored with much of it. He makes that point clear in his new book, The New California Wine, A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste (Ten Speed Press, $35).
Posted: November 18, 2013 By Harvey Steiman
These days we take American craft beers and microbrews for granted. They're everywhere. Even at places other than baseball parks, I have been known to sip a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Samuel Adams Boston Lager or Pyramid Hefeweizen with dinner when the wine offerings don't wow me.
The choices we have today started with New Albion, an idiosyncratic microbrewery in Sonoma County, a malty drop amidst a sea of wine.
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