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james laube's wine flights archive

Photo by: Greg Gorman
James Laube

January 2017

The Twist Goes On
Incidences of cork taint remained low in 2016, while twisties held strong
Posted: Jan 27, 2017 10:05am ET
Now that we've finished our annual look back at cork performance in Wine Spectator's Napa office blind tastings from the past year, it appears the incidence of cork taint has remained near last year's all-time low. Meantime, the ranks of those seeking alternatives to natural cork (the most popular of which being twist-offs) are rising, if ever modestly.
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What to Do About Volatile Acidity?
Some wine lovers don't mind a little VA, but more than a touch and you might as well be drinking vinegar
Posted: Jan 20, 2017 4:25pm ET
Have you ever pulled an anticipated bottle up from the cellar only to encounter that telltale whiff of vinegar or nail-polish remover that indicates volatile acidity run rampant? Did you have more bottles? And if so, did you find them just as tart?
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Reading Water, and Vineyards
With floodwaters receding in wine country, a chance to contemplate the ebb and flow
Posted: Jan 17, 2017 12:25pm ET

I've been browsing through How to Read Water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea, by Tristan Gooley (The Experiment, 2016, 400 pages, $20). There's nothing in the book about wine, per se, but anyone with an interest in viticulture will know how critical bodies of water and precipitation are to it. Gooley is the author of The Lost Art of Reading Nature's Signs and The Natural Navigator; hikers, campers and stargazers are his target audience, but with water making headlines in California wine country last week, his newest title might be of interest to vintners too.

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The Fleeting Comfort of Wet Weather
This week's flooding is but a short-term respite from a long-term concern
Posted: Jan 11, 2017 12:55pm ET

Northern California has been deluged with rain since this past Friday, and with that, its immediate water woes have evaporated. But they will persist in the long term. The main reason is that California is more or less a vast desert, albeit one with a potentially (and once) rich water supply.

A double-barreled storm that began this past weekend has soaked much of the state, boosting the critical snowpack in the Sierra, filling reservoirs and sending rivers and streams to flood levels. It makes the accumulation of water appear easy.

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Courage to the End
Debbie Lewis will be remembered for her wines, but also for her strength
Posted: Jan 6, 2017 12:40pm ET

I visited Lewis Cellars last October, a few days after we'd selected the Lewis 2013 Napa Valley Cabernet as Wine Spectator's 2016 Wine of the Year. I couldn't say a word about it, even though I wanted to, but disguised my visit as a way to fill in a few details about them and their wine.

Debbie Lewis knew she had cancer and was facing impossible odds. Randy had told me she was ill but didn't let on to the fullest extent. I'm not sure if he wanted to face that reality; he wasn't sure she would be up for the visit.

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