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Sonoma’s Stellar 2016s

featured, United States: California

Antonio Galloni, Apr 2018

Two thousand sixteen is a fabulous vintage in Sonoma. On the heels of 2015, a year of freakishly low yields that resulted in abnormally intense wines, 2016 marks a return to a much more relaxed, growing season with ideal conditions for making wines endowed with energy, freshness and delineation that provide a striking foil to California’s natural radiance. Simply put, 2016 is one of the most consistently brilliant and alluring young vintages I have ever tasted in Sonoma.

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Alsace: The 2016s & Late-Released 2015s

featured, France: Alsace

Ian D'Agata, Apr 2018

The 2016 and 2015 vintages in Alsace are diametric opposites: fresh and crisp in 2016, richer and more opulent in 2015. Pinot varieties excelled in ‘16, while it was mostly Gewürztraminer that stole the show in ‘15.

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Life Is Funny Like That: 1999 & 2015 DRC

featured, Verticals & Retrospectives, France: Burgundy

Neal Martin, Apr 2018

The first article that I ever published on the subject of wine was not some breathless puff on a 100-point Chilean Merlot discovered two-for-one down at my local Tesco. Embarrassingly, my first vinous words (not Vinous words) regaled a morning in the company of the recently bottled 1999s from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti at Corney & Barrow. In my mind, there was never any chance of a rerun through those 1999s. So I make do with the memories and remain grateful that I have tasted every release since the 1995 vintage. The latest, the 2015s, is one of the domaine’s best.

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In Memory of Leonildo Pieropan

featured, Italy: North

Ian D'Agata, Apr 2018

Simply put, there have been fewer better, nicer, more knowledgeable and more important people in the world of Italian wine than Leonildo (Nino) Pieropan. Words are truly incapable of expressing who Pieropan was and what he stood for.

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'16 vs. '15 Northern Rhône: Heads You Win, Tails You Win

featured, France: Rhône & Beaujolais

Josh Raynolds, Apr 2018

At first glance, 2016 and 2015 in the Northern Rhône Valley would appear to have yielded wines with utterly disparate personalities. On paper and by reputation the 2016s and 2015s couldn’t be more different. So the received wisdom goes. In reality, though, the closer one looks at these two outstanding vintages, the more similarities start to reveal themselves. My recent extensive tastings of bottled wines from both years, sampled side-by-side at many estates, have only confirmed my impressions of these two superb vintages.

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A Beautiful Stay: Beau-Séjour Bécot 1970-2015

featured, Verticals & Retrospectives, France: Bordeaux

Neal Martin, Apr 2018

This is the story of Beau-Séjour Bécot’s genesis and traumatic loss of status from a human perspective. It is a story of how the estate regained classification as a Premier Grand Cru Classé “A” and how a new chapter is opening.

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Crocker & Starr Cabernet Sauvignon Stone Place: 1999 – 2015

featured, United States: California

Stephen Tanzer, Apr 2018

Crocker & Starr’s Stone Place Cabernet Sauvignon has flown under the radar of enophiles who gravitate to more flamboyant cult wines, but in my recent vertical tasting demonstrated remarkably consistent quality and old-vines concentration.

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Tuscany New Releases: Maremma, Montepulciano & More

featured, Italy: Tuscany

Antonio Galloni, Apr 2018

Readers will find much to admire in these current releases from Tuscany’s Maremma, Montepulciano and smaller neighboring appellations. As always, it is the extraordinary diversity of regions, microclimates and varieties that define Italy’s rich oenological landscape. Best of all, with few exceptions, pricing for so many wines remains quite modest in today’s world.

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Vineyard 29 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Retrospective

featured, United States: California, Verticals & Retrospectives

Stephen Tanzer, Apr 2018

With his spare-no-expenses winery and meticulous attention to detail, former tech start-up expert Chuck McMinn has fashioned a classic and long-lived Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at Vineyard 29, his estate at the foot of the Mayacamas Mountains in St. Helena’s Northern Corridor.

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Brunello di Montalcino: Sleek '13s, Surprising '12 Riservas

featured, Italy: Tuscany

Ian D'Agata, Apr 2018

The taut, refined 2013 Brunellos offer early appeal and considerable aging potential. A surprising number of producers I visited or spoke to told me they believed the 2013 vintage to be close in quality to the much more famous 2010. The other good news for wine lovers this year is just how good the 2012 Brunello Riservas are. In fact, off the top of my head I cannot remember when I so thoroughly enjoyed tasting one Brunello Riserva after another.