Posted: November 1, 2011 By James Molesworth
After several years of regular trips to the Rhône, French rental cars never cease to surprise me. This trip's car has continued the tradition. Once I figured it out, I took in a quick lunch and headed to Domain Tour St.-Michel to taste the 2010 Châteauneuf-du-Papes.
Posted: October 31, 2011 By James Molesworth
Finally, a breather from the office. It's time to make my annual run through the Southern Rhône Valley. I'll be in the Rhône the next two weeks, focusing on the southern portion of this large and diverse region. As usual, I'll visit more than a dozen estates in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the south's main appellation, plus much more.
Posted: October 28, 2011 By James Laube
We're in the middle of another crazy, late California harvest. Good but spotty are other themes that run through most of what you hear about California's harvest 2011. And on the horizon, the smaller crops in recent years could spell price increases. In areas where grapes are still hanging, harvest is winding down quickly and should be finished by next week, ahead of predictions of rain and cooler weather.
Posted: October 27, 2011 By James Laube
Harvest 2011 is ending up more labor than labor of love in most parts of California.
"What a crazy year," Helen Keplinger of Keplinger and Bryant Family Vineyard, both based in Napa Valley, wrote in an e-mail yesterday. "Indeed it has been very stressful and those rains were less than ideal, but not all has been lost and there will be good wines made this vintage."
Posted: October 17, 2011 By Harvey Steiman
On my third and final full day in Oregon, as I barrel-tasted more and more 2010 wines of delicacy and grace that also had ripe flavors, one thought kept recurring. This is a vintage that will either polarize Pinot Noir drinkers, or perhaps bring all wings of the party together.
The divisive issue is alcohol. Some Pinot drinkers, let's call them the traditional Burgundy wing, insist that anything over 14 percent alcohol in a Pinot Noir is a sin. Others sneer at low-alcohol Pinot as insipid and flavorless.
If the wines released over the coming months are as good across the board as the ones I have tasted in top-tier cellars, we could have détente in the Pinot world.
Here are my notes on tastings of the 2010s at Argyle, Bergström, Chehalem, Domaine Serene and Ken Wright.
Posted: October 15, 2011 By Suzanne Mustacich
Posted: October 13, 2011 By Harvey Steiman
Day two of my sweep through Oregon sampling the 2010 vintage started with a visit with David O'Reilly at Owen Roe; at Evening Land, whence have come some of Oregon's best Chardonnays since its first vintage in 2007, I tasted barrel samples that won't be bottled until after the current harvest; the skies had darkened and it was raining hard when I arrived at my last stop of the day, St. Innocent, next to Zena Vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills.
Posted: October 11, 2011 By Harvey Steiman
On early reports, 2010 in Oregon looked like a washout for Pinot Noir. A long series of rain showers occurred just as the grapes were ready to pick, and there was a mad scramble at the end to get the grapes into the wineries before heavier rains in late October. Bird damage was much greater than normal, further diminishing the size of the crop.
But after tasting barrel samples and recently bottled wines in 15 Willamette Valley cellars, I can confidently predict 2010 will be a special vintage. Maybe it won't achieve the blockbuster status of 2008, but the wines show a welcome freshness and vitality along with delicacy, transparency and relatively low alcohol levels. I anticipate a lot of scores in the low- to mid-90s, at least from the better producers.
Posted: October 11, 2011 By Harvey Steiman
Posted: October 7, 2011 By Harvey Steiman
"It would be really nice," said Josh Bergström of Oregon's Bergström Wines, "if we could have a normal vintage again."
When was the last time you had one of those? I asked. "Well," he responded, "maybe someday."
The most recent vintages have tested the mettle of the state's vintners. This one, 2011, has everyone waiting on tenterhooks. It looks to be one of the latest on record. Most vineyards won't start picking until Oct. 15, two to three weeks later than usual. Vintners have one eye on the sky, hoping there won't be too much rain before the grapes are picked.
Posted: September 28, 2011 By Tim Fish
Last week’s heat wave jumpstarted the harvest in California, much to the relief of growers and winemakers. Temperatures were in the mid-90s all week, one of the rare extended blasts of heat all summer.
But the sigh of relief was short-lived. A major rainstorm is predicted for early next week. Still, knowing that forecasts change quickly in California, winemakers remain optimistic.
Posted: September 26, 2011 By James Laube
Two weeks ago I noticed that it was getting dark early, earlier than I expected. When I mentioned it to friends in passing, they too felt the same way. Summer didn’t make its usual presence felt. We had a summer all right, but what made it so different was that it never got hot.
Harvest is slowly shifting into gear in California. It’s a late year all around and harvest reports indicate the crop is good yet spotty in size. A damp, wet spring extended into summer. Some vines had a very uneven set; some vineyards were so hard hit they won’t produce much fruit. Summer was cool.
Posted: September 26, 2011 By Thomas Matthews
Posted: September 14, 2011 By Tim Fish
California winemakers don't usually have time to talk this time of the year, but this week they're chatty. The 2011 harvest is more or less underway. Sort of. Let's just say that grapes have been picked, a few anyway, mostly whites and for sparkling wine.
Yep, the season is running late again this year, and while the size of the crop is generally small, winemakers aren't complaining.
Posted: September 14, 2011 By Thomas Matthews
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