Posted: August 22, 2012 By James Laube
Stag's Leap Wine Cellars has cleaned up its cellar.
After nearly a decade of mediocre red wines, many flawed by the spoilage yeast brettanomyces, the owners of this once prominent Napa Valley winery have released the first vintage of what seem to be clean, complex Cabernets.
Posted: May 14, 2012 By Harvey Steiman
Just back from two weeks in Europe, with stops in Paris, Lyon, Piemonte and Liguria. Intentionally, I scoped out relatively modest restaurants rather than anything trendy or luxe. (More about those in a future blog.) Thus, for the most part, my encounters with food and wine were blissfully free of attitude or pretension.
I promised my wife that I would not allow work to impinge on vacation. There was, however, one notable exception, when the volatile issue of "natural wines" reared its head and I had to deal with an awkward situation. I am an agnostic on natural wines, neither insisting upon drinking them nor avoiding them. For me the issue is always how good the wine is to drink, and all the better if it offers something beyond a pleasant way to wash down dinner.
Posted: December 1, 2011 By Harvey Steiman
Posted: September 23, 2011
Posted: April 8, 2011 By James Laube
Wine drinkers deserve a stable product.
Most winemakers do their best to ensure that their wines are stable when they're bottled. They have nothing to gain and everything to lose if they knowingly bottle a wine that still has active microbes that could lead to something along the lines of brettanomyces.
That doesn't mean that problems can't crop up once a wine is bottle. They often do. The subject came up in my blog earlier this week when I tasted a 20-wine vertical of Peter Michael's Cabernet-based Les Pavots bottlings. A reader asked whether it's possible that fermentable sugar might be the cause of brett in some of the Les Pavots bottlings, but I don't think it's likely.
Posted: June 16, 2010 By Harvey Steiman
Brettanomyces is a spoilage organism, but many wine experts actually like it. Am I missing something?
Posted: March 1, 2010
Posted: August 28, 2009 By Harvey Steiman
Several pieces of conventional wisdom dashed while tasting Australian Shiraz and California Syrah: Aussie Shiraz is not necessarily the monster in the room. Brettanomyces does not kill a wine for everyone, even for excellent tasters. And even a steak likes a more balanced wine.
Posted: August 7, 2009 By James Molesworth
After reading through some of the notes on a particular Rhône producer’s wines recently, a reader asked me if I had any problem with brettanomyces (commonly called brett), a spoilage yeast that can crop up on either grapes or in barrels. The reader picked up on some descriptors in tasting notes that they thought were red flags for brett, yet the wines scored highly and had long cellaring recommendations. They asked, "How could it be?"
Posted: August 7, 2009 By Stuart Fox
Posted: September 10, 2008 By James Laube
As the tastings wind down for any given varietal, and the wines that need a second, or third, or even fourth review pass through the tasting room, sometimes things get ugly. We re-taste wines for a variety of reasons.
Posted: May 2, 2008 By Harvey Steiman
Some wine writers, mostly the ones that rail against the 100-point scale, would have their readers believe that tasters like me and my Wine Spectator colleagues wouldn't recognize a great, delicate wine or one that wasn't a fruit bomb if it jumped out of the glass at us.
Posted: January 18, 2008 By Richard Betts
"Is it a flaw or is it the wine?" This is a question that I often think about. This is mostly because I am frequently accused of being too charitable toward wines that display any of a wide range of things that some winemakers and drinkers deem unacceptable.
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