featured, United States: California, napa
Two thousand seventeen will mostly be remembered for the October wildfires that ravaged Northern California. However, the keys to understanding the vintage and wines are much more nuanced than just what happened over that period of about ten days during which the survival of Napa Valley and surrounding counties felt severely threatened by relentless, advancing fires and high winds.
featured, Italy: North
The calling cards of Valle d’Aosta wines are freshness and purity. Unfortunately, production for most of the better wines is tiny. Unmistakable mountain quality makes these among my favorite Italian wines.
featured, Rest of the World
I’ve been waiting for the market to hit a saturation point with pink wines for several years. It looks like I will have to wait a bit longer. Pink wines have never been in such worldwide demand as they are now. Producers from seemingly every red wine region on earth have been eagerly jumping on the bandwagon at a positively dizzying pace.
One of the highlights of any year is the rare instance in which the major Port houses come together in unison around St. George’s Day to declare. Unlike Bordeaux, where you have barely recovered from the last primeur when the next one arrives, general Port declarations tend to arise approximately three times per decade, thereby avoiding fatigue. So, whilst the dazzling 2011 Vintage Ports remain fresh in my mind, the 2016s arrive at a time when I am ready for more.
Italy offers an amazing range of rosé wines, the permutations of which are like those of no other country in the world. The relentlessly hot growing season of 2017 posed challenges for winemakers and winery owners. Even so, readers will find plenty to choose from.
featured, France: Rhône & Beaujolais
Following the huge success of the 2015 vintage, which produced deeply concentrated, structured and age-worthy wines, 2016 pivoted almost 180 degrees by issuing an abundance of graceful, elegant reds that showcase balance and freshness over mass and power.
Verticals & Retrospectives, featured, France: Burgundy
This magnificent vertical tasting of Mugneret/Mugneret-Gibourg’s Ruchottes-Chambertin - a remarkable and virtually unrepeatable retrospective - not only spanned almost the entirety of Mugneret/Mugneret-Gibourg’s tenure of the Grand Cru, but ventured further back to the Thomas-Bassot era.
featured, Italy: Piedmont, Piedmont
It’s easy to get discouraged these days with the skyrocketing prices and dwindling availability of Piedmont’s finest Barolos and Barbarescos. Fortunately, drinking top-notch wines from Piedmont’s best producers doesn’t have to cost a fortune nor does it require a ton of hunting around. The finest Dolcettos, Barberas and Langhe Nebbiolos deliver the same terroir-driven, artisan spirit of their more famous brethren, but at far more accessible prices that make them great choices for everyday drinking at the dinner table. And that is before we get to Timorasso, Freisa, Pelaverga and other varieties that complete Piedmont’s rich oenological landscape.
featured, Verticals & Retrospectives, France: Bordeaux, France
If you read only one of my Bordeaux articles this year, make it this one. In twenty years of visiting the region I have never come across a property like this Margaux, never seen vines as ancient as these and never met a winemaker like Jean-Pierre Boyer, one of the last of his kind. Bel-Air Marquis d’Aligre illustrates what Bordeaux has gained with modernity and money, and what it has lost.
featured, Cellar Favorites, cellar favorite, United States: California
Readers will find much to admire in David Abreu’s 2008s. In most vintages, the Abreu wines are very slow to develop, but the 2008s have largely entered an early plateau of maturity where they are quite expressive.