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james laube's wine flights archive

Photo by: Greg Gorman
James Laube

December 2006

Your New Year's Resolutions?
Posted: Dec 29, 2006 11:44am ET
New Year's resolutions are easy to keep if you make them simple and doable. Years ago, I used to play a game with my mother on New Year's Eve and over the years my resolution—and hers—evolved into this, which I'd like to share.
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Why Some Wines Smell Like Bug Spray
Posted: Dec 28, 2006 12:22pm ET
I got one of those 9-1-1 wine emergency calls at about 4 p.m. on Christmas day, a few minutes before we started prepping for dinner. My friend had just opened a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir that he had purchased on a recent trip to Willamette Valley, and the wine smelled like bug spray.
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One-Hit Wine Wonders
Posted: Dec 26, 2006 4:45pm ET
Last week I read a story in the New York Times about 1960s rocker Norman Greenbaum. Some of you will recall he wrote the one-hit wonder, "Spirit In The Sky," in 1969, which by the way was a great vintage for Napa Cabernet and a washout in Bordeaux.
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Snappy New Slogan
Posted: Dec 22, 2006 10:00am ET
On Wednesday, I had lunch with St. Supéry CEO Michaela Rodeno and her winemaker, Michael Beaulac. They poured a couple of new wines, the 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Franc and the 2003 Rutherford Cabernet, both of which were fruity, supple, balanced and complex.
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Do People Still Drink Brandy or Port?
Posted: Dec 21, 2006 12:05pm ET
Time was when winter arrived and the temperatures plunged, people pulled out their long underwear and stocking caps along with their brandies and Ports. The past few nights in Napa Valley have been frosty, icing the birdbaths and forcing the dog and cat to snuggle up tight in the fur-lined bed they share.
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Hold the Puns, Pass the Cliches
Posted: Dec 19, 2006 11:00pm ET
It sounded romantic the first few times I heard it. Then, as years passed and I got older and knew better, it became a trite cliché. I'm talking about the expression "My wines are like my children," which is still often uttered by winemakers when asked to pick which of their wines is their favorite.
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A Situation Where Everyone Loses
Posted: Dec 19, 2006 12:54pm ET
I had dinner with friends the other night at a well-respected restaurant, and the evening ended up being a huge disappointment on several accounts. I'm not going to name the establishment, nor the wines that were served.
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Great Zinfandel From a Special Site
Posted: Dec 18, 2006 12:00pm ET
Zinfanatics, and even those who aren't, would do well to try a pair of Zins from Haywood. The label dropped off the radar of most wine lovers as production decreased due to financial problems, but Haywood's Zinfandels have always been classy, distinctive, balanced and reasonably priced.
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A Can't-Miss Winery From Mendocino
Posted: Dec 15, 2006 12:19pm ET
Navarro is one of those can't-miss wineries that somehow manages to routinely produce a wide range of elegant, balanced and diverse wines. It's long been one of my favorites, in part because of its location—western Anderson Valley.
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Hanzell Is Back, in a Big Way
Posted: Dec 14, 2006 6:37pm ET
I've long been a fan of Hanzell. What's not to like? This Sonoma Valley winery has a rich history filled with many brilliant wines, thanks in large part to winemaker Bob Sessions , who's now retired. On several occasions, Sessions and I tasted complete verticals of the winery's Chardonnay and its Pinot Noir, and for the most part, all of the wines dating to the 1960s aged extremely well.
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A New Cabernet Gem From Shafer
Posted: Dec 13, 2006 3:04pm ET
Fans of Shafer Vineyards Cabernet should be excited about a new wine that takes this venerable winery back to its Cabernet roots. Early next year, Shafer will release a new Cabernet called One Point Five, which carries the Stags Leap District appellation.
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Keen on Grenache
Posted: Dec 12, 2006 2:40pm ET
New exciting wines continue to come from Santa Barbara County, and Mikael Sigouin's (pronounced See-gway ) new label, Kaena (pronounced Ca-en-ah ), is showing off what should be one of California's new wine success stories—Grenache.
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A Santa Barbara Winery Calls Foul
Posted: Dec 11, 2006 1:06pm ET
He might be a hero to fans of Two-Buck Chuck, but there's a reason Fred Franzia has a bad boy reputation in wine circles—he knows how to stir things up. For years, Napa Valley vintners battled the feisty owner of Bronco Wine Co.
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A Case of a Super Sample
Posted: Dec 8, 2006 10:02am ET
This week, I've received a couple of e-mails about Wither Hills, a New Zealand winery at the center of a controversy. Wither Hills was accused of creating a special bottling of its Sauvignon Blanc to enhance its chances in wine competitions.
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An Exciting Discovery From Paso Robles
Posted: Dec 6, 2006 1:26pm ET
When you can say that a winery makes a lot of great wine at terrific prices, well, that’s a magical thing. This week I discovered such a winery—Four Vines, founded in 1996. In the words of one of its owners, "This is one of the largest wineries in Paso Robles you’ve never heard of.
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Consistency Is Often Underappreciated
Posted: Dec 5, 2006 12:46pm ET
Today's conversation is about consistency in style, which is often overlooked or minimized in evaluating wineries and winemakers. A winery that routinely makes wines that are similar in style and quality can sometimes get lost in the shuffle.
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Wine Is Often Full of Surprises
Posted: Dec 4, 2006 12:12pm ET
One way for a wine critic to look like an absolute genius is for his barrel reviews to match up perfectly with his scores for the released wines. Imagine how impressed everyone would be if every wine that scored 95-100 points out of barrel hit the same score range when it was released.
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A Pinot Mystery Perhaps Solved
Posted: Dec 1, 2006 3:00pm ET
In my Dec. 15 column , I wrote about my experiences with Beaulieu Vineyard's 1946 and 1947 Pinot Noirs. Those incredible wines were an early inspiration to anyone who tasted them, and they were the best vintages ever made by the late André Tchelistcheff (pronounced Chell-a-cheff ).
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