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james laube's wine flights archive

Photo by: Greg Gorman
James Laube

September 2006

Language Barriers
Posted: Sep 30, 2006 6:25am ET
My Italian is about as good as my Spanish or French or German. I can get by--barely, at times--and have to rely on either the good English of the person I’m talking to or interviewing, or the use of a translator.
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Working on a Book Title
Posted: Sep 29, 2006 6:01am ET
My Mother used to keep a sign in her office that read: “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” I had every good reason to lose my mind the other night as I dined with the dashing, fun-loving, cork-popping, magnum-obsessed and forever dangerous and unpredictable wine maven James Suckling.
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The Bare Essentials
Posted: Sep 28, 2006 4:38am ET
I made it to Florence in pretty good shape. Not so for my luggage. It decided to stay at Heathrow, in London, while I carried on with my laptop and tote bag. My luggage took the path less traveled, which left me clothes-less in Florence, which wasn’t so bad for the first 24 hours.
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A Tuscan Wine Escape
Posted: Sep 21, 2006 2:55pm ET
I’m headed off to Tuscany and points beyond for a fortnight. I could make up something about needing a vacation, or change of scenery, or new blogging material. But the truth is I’m going to catch up with my old friend and colleague, James Suckling, and help him drain of some of the oversize bottles of Barolo and Brunello that are clogging his cellar.
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A Guys Night In
Posted: Sep 20, 2006 3:08pm ET
I’m headed off to Italy in a few days, so last night I drank Bordeaux. My son and I were having dinner – a guys' grill night, with rib eyes and some random, token greens. He hasn’t shown much interest in wine, despite the fact that it’s always been around.
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Early Pickings at Marcassin
Posted: Sep 19, 2006 7:50pm ET
Harvest is always full of surprises. No one year is quite like the next. The action in Napa and Sonoma is building momentum. Winemakers who haven’t set foot in a church in years now talk about their daily prayers.
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Golden Joys Of Honeyed Chardonnays
Posted: Sep 18, 2006 4:55pm ET
With age comes beauty. At least you hope so when it comes to cellaring wines. I drank a couple of terrific Talbott Chardonnays over the weekend, a 2002 Diamond T Estate ($65) and 2003 Cuvée Cynthia ($60), both from Monterey County.
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Harvest Joys And Wine Woes
Posted: Sep 15, 2006 10:55am ET
I connected with a couple of famous, long-time Napa Valley winemakers recently, and their tales are worth passing along, though I’m withholding their identities because our discussions were casual and not part of an interview.
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Not Yet For A New Napa Cabernet
Posted: Sep 14, 2006 4:21pm ET
I’ve received a couple of queries from readers about a new high-end 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet, from a well-regarded vineyard and a superstar winemaking team. But so far, I’m not impressed by the wine and not too sure you should be either.
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Meet the New Old Kid on the Block
Posted: Sep 13, 2006 12:36pm ET
Ran into an old friend yesterday at my favorite wine bar (aka Wine Spectator 's Napa tasting room). I immediately recognized the face. But then I noticed he had a new outfit, and he’d put on a little weight.
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A Darker Shade Of Red
Posted: Sep 12, 2006 4:40pm ET
Time was, red wines from California's Edna Valley--south of San Luis Obispo--were typically light in color, seemingly more anemic than healthy. I still remember my first impressions of early 1980s Pinot Noir from Edna Valley Vineyard – pale red garnet in color, with decent flavors, but nothing to get excited about.
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New Sparkling Wines Are Exciting
Posted: Sep 11, 2006 2:48pm ET
Corks were flying at our Napa office on Friday, and that was a good thing. Tim Fish and I tasted a couple dozen new releases of California sparkling wine for our annual report, due later this year, and this research turned into an exciting afternoon of sparklers.
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A Merlot Star Returns To Syrah
Posted: Sep 8, 2006 12:23pm ET
Right idea. Right wine. The owners of Paloma have started a second label, and it’s a move that makes sense. The producers of what is arguably California’s preeminent Merlot realized that putting all their eggs in the Merlot basket had its risks.
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The High Price of "Blending" Grapes
Posted: Sep 7, 2006 3:38pm ET
You might be surprised to learn – as I was – that two of the most expensive red wine grapes in Napa Valley this year are a couple of orphans from Bordeaux. I’m talking about Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, both of which are used primarily for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and occasionally with Merlot.
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Aiming For Pinot Noir Value
Posted: Sep 6, 2006 2:18pm ET
Right idea. Wrong wine? The other day, in a regular blind tasting, I sampled a new Pinot Noir, vintage 2005. Nothing outstanding. Fresh, snappy cherry and strawberry fruit, which I rated in the good category (defined as 80-84 points on Wine Spectator 's 100-point scale).
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Defining A Vintage's Quality
Posted: Sep 5, 2006 2:43pm ET
In California, vintners are on the final approach to harvest, for what has been a very mixed and trying year. As my winegrower friend C.J. predicted in April , it has been an expensive year to farm, with an abundance of spring rain and a late, uneven grape set.
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