Italy: Tuscany, featured
For the first time in many, many years I was not able to make my summer trip to Tuscany to taste the wines of Chianti Classico. That’s 2020 for you. But you know what? There is something to be said for the objectivity gained by tasting the wines far away from those stunning hillside vineyards, removed from the charming towns, without any of that amazing food. Would the wines be as impressive as I have long thought?
United States: California, featured
Better understanding the Sta. Rita Hills appellation has been a project of mine for a while now (before a certain global pandemic threw a very heavy, very rusted wrench in those plans). My postgrad job working at a local tasting room in Santa Barbara had convinced me that I knew next to nothing about the wheres and whens and whos of the wines I was selling. Names like Brewer-Clifton, Sanford and Au Bon Climat that I grew up seeing my parents enjoy in the 1990s and early 2000s, my 9-year-old eyes level with the kitchen countertop, were an early inspiration and pointed me towards the Sta. Rita Hills as a great place to start.
Italy: Center & South, featured
Verdicchio is one of the most versatile grapes in all of Italy. It can be vibrant and remarkably fresh, or crafted in a more serious style with the potential to mature for upwards of a decade. When harvested late, Verdicchio takes on textural depths and ripeness that balance wonderfully against naturally high acidity. Oak? It can handle that too, while still communicating purity. No matter what the expression, Verdicchio almost always makes a killer wine, and yet it still does not get the full attention it deserves.
United States: California, featured
I tasted more truly exceptional wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains this year than at any time over the past decade. The 2018 Pinots are utterly breathtaking, while the 2017 and 2016 Bordeaux reds and 2016 Rhônes aren’t too far behind. I have long believed that the Santa Cruz Mountains is one of the world's preeminent regions for fine whites and reds that speak of place. These new releases certainly make a statement.
South Africa, featured
In Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility, one of literature’s finest works detailing the ups and downs of courtship and matters of the heart, Mrs. Jennings suggests to Elinor Dashwood that she drink a slug of finest old Constantia to recover from a fever brought on by her romantic interest, John Willoughby. Jennings counsels that the sweet wine not only cures “colicky gout,” but possesses “healing powers on a disappointed heart.” Like those characters in Austen’s novel, I do appreciate one of the iconic sweet wines of the world – one that, as I shall describe, is undergoing a quiet revolution.
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.
France: Burgundy, featured
Burgundy is where I truly learned to taste wine. It is the best school. Essentially one variety for white, one for red and that’s it. The rest is all about place, about trying to understand how the attributes of a site are expressed in what is in the glass. Nowhere is that more true than at Domaine Leroy, where everything that Burgundy represents, its purest essence, is dialed up all the way.
General Interest, featured
I am thrilled to announce that Rebecca Gibb MW is the newest member of our editorial team. In her new role, Rebecca will be responsible for covering the wines of New Zealand and the Loire Valley. I have known Rebecca for many years and have always been impressed by her extraordinary knowledge, writing skills and passion for wine.
France: Champagne, featured
For the first time in a dozen years, this past spring I was unable to travel to Champagne to taste the new vintage and survey the latest releases. Given the extraordinary challenges this year of both traveling and collecting hundreds of samples in a timely fashion, we will be publishing Champagne reviews within this article in a continuous stream over coming weeks and months, as I taste the wines. The best way to stay up to date on additions is to make sure you are receiving our emails and turn on notifications within the Vinous app.
Verticals & Retrospectives, France: Burgundy, featured
Taupenot-Merme has become one of the leading Morey-based producers over the last decade. This article examines their crown jewel of Mazoyères-Chambertin from 2017 back to 2002.