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james laube's wine flights archive

Photo by: Greg Gorman
James Laube

April 2008

A Rookie Vintner Spreads His Wings
Posted: Apr 30, 2008 4:49pm ET
The first time I met Russell Bevan , several years ago in St. Helena, he and his merry band of wine-drinking pranksters were zigzagging through Napa and Sonoma counties on what might be described as an open-throttle, no-holds-barred, burn the candle at both ends tour de force food-and-wine tasting extravaganza.
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No Pfalz Start for this German Pinot Noir
Posted: Apr 29, 2008 5:51pm ET
I’m not as surprised as I used to be when I encounter a new (to me) Pinot Noir from an area not known for this varietal. I once scoffed at many from California, Oregon and New Zealand, but no more. So when I was recently poured a glass of 2004 Pinot that was dark colored, rich and layered, with spicy floral wild berry, fresh earth and savory herb flavors, it showed enough of a mix of flavors to make me think Carneros or Santa Cruz Mountains.
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A Frosty Surprise Start for 2008
Posted: Apr 28, 2008 4:17pm ET
No one who farms grapes for a living is happy with recent spring frosts throughout California, which have been widespread and devastating by most accounts, extending from Anderson Valley in Mendocino to Santa Barbara in the south.
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When Winemakers' Lips Are Sealed
Posted: Apr 24, 2008 1:02pm ET
One of the wine industry’s most strictly adhered-to codes of honor is protecting where bulk, or excess, wine is sold. Most unwanted wine comes from big producers and ends up in négociant labels, such as Two-Buck Chuck.
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Dial M For Michael Mondavi Cabernet
Posted: Apr 23, 2008 12:59pm ET
M by Michael Mondavi is the name of the new Napa Valley Cabernet, made by the former chairman of Robert Mondavi Corp. and his family. It’s been a long time since Michael Mondavi, 65, has been this hands on with winemaking, and he seems happy about that.
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Lust for the Must: A Different Take on 2006 Pinots
Posted: Apr 22, 2008 4:49pm ET
Today is a share day, with me passing along a note from a winemaker, Wes Hagen at Clos Pepe , who once wanted to be a writer, and once you read this, perhaps you’ll understand why. It’s a bit of a contrarian view on the vintage, from my perspective, but this is offered in the spirit of sharing from a die-hard Pinot lover.
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Final Thoughts on Cork Taint
Posted: Apr 21, 2008 1:59pm ET
Cork taint can be a can of worms. Several readers have accurately addressed most of the questions posed here since Friday's blog entry, " Corks Worse Problem as Price Increases." Daniel points out that Wine Spectator has covered cork-related issues extensively, not only in the context of TCA-infected corks, but also about instances of entire wineries having been affected.
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Corks Worse Problem as Price Increases
Posted: Apr 18, 2008 1:39pm ET
We re-crunched the numbers and percentages of corked wines by wine price range and, based on our limited samplings, it’s actually worse than we thought. Yesterday’s blog was intended to simply look at corked wines across price points, using the assumption that expensive wines have more expensive corks and inexpensive wines use cheaper corks.
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Price of Corks Doesn't Guarantee Superior Quality
Posted: Apr 17, 2008 1:50pm ET
In conversations about corks with winemakers, one refrain I often hear is that if a winery buys more expensive corks, it gets superior quality. I’ve also heard from winemakers, and cork manufacturers, that the incidence of TCA-tainted corks (which impart a musty, moldy flavor to wine) is just as high for the most expensive corks as for the least expensive.
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Vines, Wines, Values and Videos
Posted: Apr 15, 2008 1:45pm ET
Yesterday was video day in Napa and Sonoma. Gloria Maroti Frazee, director of education for Wine Spectator School, spent the day with some of our staff, working on features that will run online in conjunction with the magazine stories.
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Wine Pricing Could Stand a Correction
Posted: Apr 11, 2008 1:43pm ET
Perhaps the easiest target for wine critics is wine pricing. Most of us have come to believe and appreciate that the market rules of supply and demand account for much of what is charged for wine, whether it’s sold from a mailing list or restaurant.
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What Makes or Breaks a Great Wine
Posted: Apr 9, 2008 6:39pm ET
I woke up this morning to an empty, sediment-stained bottle of 1957 La Tâche on the kitchen table, bottle number 00010 of 18,848 bottles. That means it came from the first case of that fabled wine, of which some 1,570 12-packs were produced.
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Tasting Maynard James Keenan's New Releases
Posted: Apr 8, 2008 4:18pm ET
I’m often at a loss trying to explain celebrity winemakers , since their wines rarely excite and more often are likely to disappoint. I remember thinking that, upon reviewing one of Mick Fleetwood’s wines, that that particular rock star-turned-vintner had better not misplace his sticks.
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Rewards of Tradition with Hanzell Chardonnay
Posted: Apr 7, 2008 1:03pm ET
When Michael Terrien left Acacia to become winemaker at Hanzell Vineyards, he was forced to rethink winemaking. He went from a winery in Carneros that emphasized early drinking Chardonnays that were ready on release to one with a tradition of slow developing Chardonnays that aged exceptionally well.
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An Amazing Grace Change of Heart
Posted: Apr 4, 2008 1:53pm ET
A common winemaker adage is that their wines are like their children. There are no favorites. Each is unique. Each has its own personality and it’s impossible to choose one over the other. Here’s my corollary counterpoint: Winemakers are far more complex than their wines.
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Wrapping Up Our Chardonnay Tasting
Posted: Apr 2, 2008 3:09pm ET
Whew. We’re finally finished tasting California Chardonnay for this year’s report. It’s been a long, occasionally grueling exercise, tasting some 425 new releases since last year, with most of the wines from 2006 along with a few stragglers from 2005.
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Farewell to a Friend: Barney Rhodes Dies at 88
Posted: Apr 1, 2008 5:12pm ET
Barney Rhodes , a great wine connoisseur and owner of Bella Oaks Vineyard in Napa Valley, died today at age 88 after a brief illness. His wife, Belle, died last year. Barney and Belle moved to Napa in the early 1960s and planted their first vineyard in Oakville, which later became known as Martha’s Vineyard, a Cabernet that became one of the most famous wines in America.
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