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james laube's wine flights archive

Photo by: Greg Gorman
James Laube

June 2011

Milestone Gifts: Beware the Birth-Year Wine
Few gifts pose as many risks as birth-year wines purchased for infants and toddlers
Posted: Jun 22, 2011 3:00pm ET

Graduation time means babies have grown up and are entering adulthood, whether it's from high school or college or some other endeavor. And for young couples with spring or summer weddings this year, babies may not be far down the road.

Choosing to mark those different occasions with wine gifts offers a perfect opportunity to do it right. That is, if your college grad likes wine, here's a chance to reward them with a few wines suited to their tastes, or a wine experience, such as a trip to wine country, that they will appreciate.

Buying birth-year wines for your offspring is tempting for young parents, but it isn't such a great idea.

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The Benefits and Tolls of Age
There are only three directions a wine can go as it gets older
Posted: Jun 20, 2011 2:30pm ET

I've been tasting lots of older wines the past few weeks and months. It's been reminding me that there are really only three things that can happen to a wine as it ages. It can improve, which is what you hope for. It can remain the same, which, depending on its quality, is usually a good thing, too. Or it can decline, and all wines decline sooner or later.

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Good for Pontet-Canet
Bordeaux's "super cinquième" is selling out in minutes despite announcing its highest price ever for the 2010 vintage
Posted: Jun 10, 2011 4:00pm ET

Good for Pontet-Canet. They're proving Cinderella stories can come true.

This has long been one of my favorite Bordeauxs. It's a fifth-growth Pauillac that can perform like a first-growth, often offering pure, rich Cabernet fruit that's deeply concentrated. It's one of those wines I look for when dining out and want to drink a great bottle of Bordeaux.

Due to the Bordeaux hierarchy, it has never commanded prices anywhere near those of the first-growths, even as critics increasingly recognize its depth of character. Looking at James Molesworth's barrel reviews of 2010, Château Pontet-Canet is right there with Château Lafite Rothschild and Château Latour, all with projected ratings of 96-99 points.

This week, Pontet-Canet's futures price for its 2010 came out; it's being offered to consumers at a little under $200 a bottle, the highest price its ever asked, and it's still flying out the door.

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The Pleasures of Cool-Climate Cabernet
Ridge Vineyards proves that Cabernet can thrive in unlikely places
Posted: Jun 8, 2011 7:00am ET

Most Ridge fans are red heads, choosing the winery's Cabernets, Zinfandels or both. I'm in the minority camp. My favorite Ridge wines are the Chardonnays.

But I recognize the Ridge Cabernets, grown at the estate Monte Bello Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, have a devout following. For me, the best of them are all about warm years versus cooler ones. I like the Monte Bello reds from the warmer years and found a nice bottle the other day in a regular blind tasting. It's the 2008 Ridge Estate bottling, which is a Cabernet-based blend made from grapes in the Monte Bello vineyard, but less expensive than the Monte Bello label. Still, the 2008 is the most impressive bottling of this wine I can recall.

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Still in the Ring?
The Seghesios may have sold their family winery, but that doesn't mean they're out of the business
Posted: Jun 6, 2011 12:00am ET

One thing I've learned about wine is this: You can never count anyone out.

Vineyards may get sold or replanted, but they seldom disappear. Brands that fail often take on second lives that are greater than their first go-round. Witness Charles F. Shaw, a.k.a. Two-Buck Chuck, which ended up selling hundreds of millions of cases after Fred Franzia resurrected the defunct name. Winemakers usually only bow out when they are too old and Father Time comes knocking.

That's why I expect the Seghesio family is merely shifting gears. They have sold their winery, perhaps for a handsome sum, which should put them in the position of doing what they want, giving them a new lease on life.

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