Posted: August 5, 2014 By Ben O'Donnell
Last month, I tasted five 2010 Cabernets at Hall winery, each from a different Napa appellation: St. Helena (Bergfeld, single-vineyard), Stags Leap District (single-vineyard), Diamond Mountain (two growers), Howell Mountain (two growers) and the Exzellenz Sacrashe Vineyard Rutherford. Some of these cuvées are new, but Hall now counts Cabernets from six different subappellations of Napa (all 95 to 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon) and one from Sonoma. Together, they form a map of the valley as traced along the Cabernet in its veins.
Posted: August 4, 2014 By James Molesworth
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is back in Bordeaux, taking a walk around the famed l'Enclos vineyard of Léoville Las Cases, with its diverse terroir.
Posted: July 30, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
Like many of us, my friend, let's call him Fred to protect the guilty, has acquired many more bottles of good wine for his cellar than he and his wife can possibly drink in their lifetimes. But for every bottle he gives away, he seems to get one in return. Which led to a potentially very awkward situation one night ...
Posted: July 29, 2014 By James Molesworth
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is back in Bordeaux, this time to kick the dirt in the vineyards, starting at Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey in Sauternes.
Posted: July 29, 2014 By Dana Nigro
Wine Spectator senior editor Dana Nigro answers the question, How do you know if a wine is still good to drink? (Open it!)
Posted: July 25, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
Tasmania, already a favorite among Australian wine drinkers for its crisp Chardonnays, juicy Pinot Noirs and bright sparkling wines, has made little impact in the U.S. Most of the wineries are small, so there isn't much volume to go around, and until recently the often-tart styles have not been able to find a welcome.
Most Americans have no clue where Tassie is. Says George Galey of American Estate Wines, which has had wines from the island in its import portfolio for 20 years, "I actually used to carry a world map around with me and asked people to point out Tasmania. Restaurateurs and retailers usually pointed to Madagascar." Only off by about 5,800 miles. That's changing.
Posted: July 23, 2014 By James Laube
The decision about what wine to make is often as basic as what you like to drink and what you can sell. Winemakers figure if they make a wine they can't sell, they can drink it themselves. Up to a point.
Carl Doumani always liked Petite Syrah (his spelling), a drop in Napa Valley's bigger sea of Cabernet. When he bought the original Stags' Leap Winery property in 1971, it came with blocks of old-vine Petite that suited Doumani just fine. And true to his contrarian nature, he hung his white hat on Chenin Blanc, another old-time favorite that was losing steam. Selling those two wines amounted to paddling upstream as Cabernet and Chardonnay become the marquee wines of Napa, and favorites of American wine drinkers.
Posted: July 23, 2014 By James Molesworth
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is back in France. Today he visited Clos Ste.-Magdeleine in Cassis. Here are his notes on the white wine with a red name.
Posted: July 22, 2014 By Ben O'Donnell
New York Restaurant Week is upon us in the city, a time when restaurants that are well north of my supper budget open their doors a little wider with prix-fixe specials. I always look for spots that offer wine specials as well, and in past years have found that New York wines are often given this platform to shine.
When I interviewed Long Island winemakers for my June 15 issue feature on the region, they felt confident that their wines could equal the best. But what did our high-end restaurant wine directors think?
Posted: July 22, 2014 By James Molesworth
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is back in France. Today he visited Domaine Tempier in Bandol. Here are his notes on the reds.
Posted: July 21, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
One key moment stands out when I was researching my Wine Spectator Aug. 31 issue profile of Eric Ripert, chef and partner of New York's fabled fish restaurant, Le Bernardin. It was the creative meeting.
Ripert and his top-ranking chefs meet daily in a small conference room, away from the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, to perfect their ideas for new dishes. The menu is constantly in flux. Anyone in the kitchen can present an idea, then work out the details until the results get the approval of Ripert and his lieutenants. They bring trays full of the latest iteration of the dish, along with some options they are considering, all in an effort to keep things fresh and lively.
Posted: July 21, 2014 By James Molesworth
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is back in France. Today he visited Domaine Tempier in Bandol. Here are his notes.
Posted: July 21, 2014 By Robert Camuto
Wine Spectator contributing editor Robert Camuto visits the Abbaye de Lérins, a Cistercian monastery on the tiny, idyllic island of Saint Honorat, about two miles and a 15-minute ferry ride off the yacht-jammed Cannes coast where winemaker Frère Marie turns out high-end reds and whites.
Posted: July 18, 2014 By James Molesworth
Wine Spectator senior editor James Molesworth is back in France. Today he visited Domaine de la Tour du Bon in Bandol to taste the recent vintages of rosé, red and white wine. Here are his notes.
Posted: July 17, 2014 By Mitch Frank
Wine has a duality of School of Books versus School of Real World. Once upon a not-so-long-ago time, most American sommeliers got their jobs because they were the only waiter who actually drank wine. "Like wine, kid?" the owner would ask one day, handing them the list. "You're wine director. Don't screw up."
As diners have grown more thirsty, sommeliers have gone to school. The Court of Master Sommeliers, in particular, has worked to raise standards by making sure more wine people receive proper training.
Posted: July 16, 2014 By James Molesworth
The Jolie-Pitt & Perrin joint venture has gotten a fair amount of publicity, thanks to its Hollywood A-list owners Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. They hooked up with the Perrin family of the Rhône Valley's Château de Beaucastel to help make their rosé and white wine from the Château Miraval estate. The resources of Pitt and Jolie and the viticulture and winemaking expertise of the Perrin family count for a lot. But ultimately the terroir will have its say, and with that in mind, Marc Perrin was eager to show me the dirt and roots behind the project.
Posted: July 16, 2014 By Harvey Steiman
Wine Spectator editor at large Harvey Steiman offers his recipe for Not Pesto, a basil-and-pine nut puree perfect over sliced heirloom tomatoes and fresh mozzarella or burrata and paired with a crisp rosé.
Posted: July 15, 2014 By James Laube
I thought I'd been offered a plum assignment, covering the 1967 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, held for the first time in my hometown of Anaheim, Calif., in its new stadium. I was a cub reporter for the Anaheim Bulletin and contributed little to our coverage. All the newspapers' front-line baseball writers were on hand and my editor, Doug Miles, sent as many of us to the game as wanted, likely me just for the experience. Only later did I find out why not all the staffers cared to go.
Posted: July 15, 2014 By Ben O'Donnell
"We don't allow the buses here" is a proud refrain at Long Island wineries these days. Not so long ago, Long Island wine travel was considered rowdy and unserious, just as Napa is tarred in some circles as overpriced and impersonal—both regions magnets for the much-scorned wine tourist. And yet: What fun those folks always seem to be having.
So when I visited California wine country in June, I decided to stop at a few places that unabashedly cater to "tourists." One was Sonoma's Francis Ford Coppola Winery, which boasts a swimming pool, bocce lanes, a restaurant and a movie memorabilia collection. It's not just about the wine, but is that the same as not caring about the wine?
Posted: July 15, 2014 By James Laube
To best appreciate how far viticultural and winemaking practices have come in the past decade, one need look no further than the 2011 Napa Valley Cabernets.
By most accounts this was the most damning vintage in perhaps 15 years. An altogether cool, damp year ended with heavy storms, and by some estimates as much as 50 percent of the grapes were of little or no use. I've talked with vintners who made about one-fourth of what they might have in a better year. Severe thinning led to a quarter-ton or less per acre. Thinning proved a winning strategy if only to salvage what might otherwise have been a dismal year. But based on nearly 200 reviews, the quality of the 2011 Napa Cabernets ranges from fair to, on a few occasions, outstanding.
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