France: Rhône & Beaujolais, Verticals & Retrospectives, featured
One of the world’s iconic estates, Domaine Auguste Clape has long set the standard for the Cornas appellation and has featured on any Rhône aficionado’s short list of the region’s very best properties. With a mere eight hectares of vines spread across Cornas, Saint-Péray and Côtes-du-Rhône, the Clapes produce two different examples of Cornas, a Saint-Péray, a red Côtes-du-Rhône and a red Vin de France. All of the reds are made with whole clusters and fermented in concrete vats before being moved into ancient, traditional oval foudres for aging. Because of small production (roughly 2,500 cases per vintage, total) and longtime worldwide demand, especially for the flagship Cornas, the wines are not always easy to find. Unfortunately, the world has caught on, and prices have risen sharply as well. These are structured, long-lived wines that are definitely built for the patient consumer. As this retrospective shows, patience is consistently rewarded, even in tough vintages.
I was recently passing through New Haven, outside the always hectic lunch and dinner hours, so made the not-difficult call to stop in Modern and also to swing into Louis’ Lunch, founded in 1895 and home of what many historians believe is the world’s original hamburger. As usual, both quick snacks were sublime, both for the food and the atmosphere.
Readers visiting the D.C. or Baltimore area who love seafood and tradition owe it to themselves to hit a Maryland crab house or two. It’s a unique, timeless and comforting experience that I try to enjoy as often as possible.
United States: California, featured
Following the epically hot 2017 vintage, Mother Nature paid Santa Lucia Highlands growers and winemakers back, with interest, by delivering a picture perfect season and an abundant crop of healthy grapes in 2018. The wines feature distinct energy and fine definition, with expressive fruit, well-integrated tannins for the red wines and relatively uncommon nerviness for the whites.
cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites, Portugal
The vintage Ports of 1966, despite their extremely high quality, have and probably always will live in the shade of the monumental 1963s, which is great news for consumers.
Cellar Favorite: 2001 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape Hommage à Jacques Perrin Grande Cuvée
cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites, France: Rhône & Beaujolais
Two thousand and one is, without a doubt, one of this generation’s greatest vintages for France’s southern Rhône valley, producing an abundance of rich but balanced and ageworthy wines that are now either in their prime or entering it.
United States: Oregon, featured
For many wine lovers, Oregon, and especially the Willamette Valley, is all Pinot Noir, all the time. Perhaps no other region in the New World is so closely associated with a single variety. And yet there’s so much more happening here, especially with Chardonnay. White wine and reds not made from Pinot Noir are approaching almost half of our annual Oregon coverage, which is a remarkable development over the last decade.
United States: Oregon, featured
Oregon’s unprecedented run of outstanding vintages which began in 2014, has been extended yet again with 2018. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 2011 and 2007 to find years that were truly challenging, and both of those vintages actually produced a large number of outstanding wines.
Rest of the World, France, featured
The Rosé season has started, but definitely not at the frenetic pace of the last several years. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has put a damper on demand for all wines. Even the ever-popular pink versions aren’t immune to market realities. That said, the best 2019 Rosés are generous, soft and versatile at the dinner table.
France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured
The hot growing conditions that defined the 2017, 2018 and 2019 vintages in the Northern Rhône show in the white wines, but the best examples also offer a good bit of energy to counterbalance their richness and ripeness. Simply put, the whites here have never been better, while the top bottlings are easily some of the world’s finest wines.