Archives

  • No One Wants Dark Rosé
    What was the original offense that led every damned consumer to believe — unswervingly — that all darker-hued rosés are sweet? It’s like some unwritten law. Among the pallets of rosé that do sell, it’s always the same thing … it’s gotta be pale. I’ve quizzed customers on details about darker rosé’s... Read more
  • On Wine and Gender: A Critical History
    This is the third and final article on Wine and Gender. The first, on femininity and wine, is here. The second, on masculinity and wine, is here. WHEN in history did we begin calling wines masculine or feminine? Prior to wine magazines and the modern tasting note, there was no... Read more
  • On Wine and Gender: Chambertin = Masculine. But Why?
    This is the second in a three article series on Wine and Gender. Here is the first, on ‘feminine’ wines. IF we are to believe wine tasting notes, men are by definition muscular, tobacco-smoking, leather-toting brutes that smell like earth. Here’s a taste from Wine Spectator’s Dec 15, 1996 issue: 1949... Read more
  • On Wine and Gender: Chambolle = Feminine. But Why?
      CAN there be something masculine or feminine in a wine? It’s a conceit that has haunted professional wine tasting notes for decades. But once you ponder the notion, it’s quite odd. And recently, some in the trade are casting a worrisome glance back at the tired dichotomies used to hastily... Read more
  • Escape to Spring Mountain, Where Roots Run Deep In Napa Valley
    Confessions: first, I’m usually drinking European wines, where dry farming is the law. And I’ve been pretty brutal to Napa Valley’s wine. The unholy alliance of high alcohol, high points, glamour marketing, and bombastic fruit profiles — the preferred drink of heavy-handed cologne wearers, whose senses are all but dead... Read more
  • Burgundy vs. Champagne: An 18th Century Flame War
    Is this the earliest recorded flame war between wine geeks? A searing debate raged in France from the mid-17th to mid-18th century between the Universities of Reims and Paris. It all started with a change in Louis XIV’s Royal Physician in 1693.  The previous Royal Physician, Antoine d’Aquin, was a... Read more
  • Robola: the Voice of Cephalonia’s Limestone
    Robola is often touted as Greece’s second noblest white grape , forever trailing on the coattails of Assyrtiko. If Assyrtiko has a greater footprint in consumers’ minds, it’s in part due to the crushing influx of tourists to Santorini and the enduring affective link they build while traveling in Greece.... Read more
  • A Thrilling, Endangered Grape from the Stunning Mountains of Northern Greece
    THE ZAGORI region of Greece has only very recently become a hot “alternative” tourist destination — in part since it became a UNESCO protected geopark in 2010. The Zagori highlands, located within the Pindus mountain range in the larger Greek region of Epirus, are for the most part abandoned, shockingly steep,... Read more
  • Guess What’s In Your Bourgogne Rouge …
    I’ll say it again: I firmly believe any true Burgundy lover will regularly drink entry-level Bourgogne from carefully chosen producers. Granted, the keywords here are carefully chosen. Some producers’ Bourgogne rouge will be a mind-boggling value, a terroir–driven portal to their house style.  Others will range from serviceable to saddening.... Read more
  • How to Drive Your Cabernet Franc Crazy at the Dinner Table
    Given this blog’s obvious indebtedness to François Rabelais, it’s long overdue that I sing praises of Loire Cabernet Franc — particularly Chinon. Last Thursday, thanks in large part to Thierry Germain, I discovered the most perfect food pairing in the universe for Loire Cabernet Franc. With a friend, we threw... Read more
  • The Four Mistakes Every Restaurant Makes
    #1. BY THE GLASS SADNESS Problem: Far too many restaurants’ by-the-glass poured wines are geriatric, oxidized sadness. They’ve been open for days, and taste like the vinous equivalent of a balding dowager. Why should not investing in an entire bottle (the time-tested solution to the issue) always lead to the... Read more
  • Portugal’s Ageworthy White Wines and the Cinderella Myth
    When most folks think of Portuguese white wine, they think of Vinho Verde, and involuntarily dredge up a tired set of stereotypes: “This wine is only good up to a year after release. This wine is fizzy and sweet. This wine isn’t serious — it’s just cheap and easy.” This... Read more
  • Lisbon’s Magical Blend of Youthfulness and Decay
    Portugal’s wines must be the most undervalued in the world. While most of us can’t afford to buy aged wine in its prime, in Portugal, you can. You don’t need a cellar and 10 years’ patience; you just need a cheap flight to Lisbon, some AirBnB research, and an empty... Read more
  • Wine Geology 101: A Book That Needs to Be Written
    You’ve probably heard of vineyards covered in slate or schist. But did you know that slate can turn into schist? Or that shale can transform into slate, then schist, and later into gneiss? I didn’t. And I wish I’d known this years ago. Wine lovers like myself are in DIRE... Read more
  • Didier Barral: The Gentle Voice of the Earth
    Listening to Didier Barral — the most careful and loving steward of nature — speak from among his vines in Lentheric is a religious experience. But even if it feels religious, and even if Didier is a noted advocate of organic, Fukuoka-influenced hands-off farming, nothing about Didier’s discourse feels preachy.... Read more
  • The Wildness That Courses Through Languedoc Reds
    There’s a 400 lb monster that rustles through the garrigues of the Languedoc, a snarling, horned beast with an appetite for grapes. It can destroy an entire vineyard in a single night. And each vigneron is convinced it only wants their grapes. “It LOVES Vermentino!’ “Ah, but it doesn’t just... Read more
  • Slumming
    Just about every wine collector feels a magnetic pull when passing a wine shop: let’s admit it, wine collecting is addictive on some level. Once you know a wise buyer is running a good shop, it’s hard to resist popping in to peruse a few sections. Sometimes, though, it’s an entirely... Read more
  • Deep Thoughts after IPOB: Wine as Photograph, Ripeness as Saturation
    The In Pursuit of Balance (or IPOB, to sound like an insider) tastings and seminars have established themselves as a powerful force in shaping the discourse of wine criticism and perhaps even production. Jasmine Hirsch and Rajat Parr’s pet project has grown into a tasting that’s almost become a ‘who’s... Read more
  • The Many Faces of Granite: A Visit to the Clape Cellar in Cornas
    Interview with Winemaker Olivier Clape: Climate Change and the Changing Faces of Cornas; How Alsatian Barrels Ended up in the Clape Cellar; Why Clape St Péray Will Be Even Better; 2013 and 2014 Barrel Sample and 2012 Cornas Tasting Notes Cornas, like all Northern Rhône Syrah, is a study in... Read more
  • The Two Invisible Forces Shaping Southern French Terroir
    Life has a way of constantly reminding you that ‘You don’t know until you do something‘. Similarly, you can’t really understand a wine region until you visit it. Take Avignon, the stunning, walled medieval city near the Châteauneuf du Pape vineyard, which has served as a cultural center for the... Read more
  • Flying Blind At Frenchie in Paris
    What an exquisite dance we had with the sommelier at Frenchie last Wednesday! The head sommelier Aurélien Masse unveiled a stunning series of wines, which we were given the tantalizing task of identifying blind alongside our carte blanche tasting menu dinner. It started like this: ‘I’ve got some stuff that’s... Read more
  • Making Up With Sancerre
    SANCERRE is the word on the lips of nearly every young woman that strikes a pose in front of the wine fridges. Sancerre sells itself. It’s easy to spell and retain. Even if it’s dead simple to pronounce and flows from the tongue like a short sibilant song, one feels... Read more
  • The Magical French Salad that Pairs with Red Wine: the Salade Landaise
    I moved to New York City from France. After living in Paris for two years and Bordeaux for seven years, there are some French things that I can’t even find in the consumer paradise that is New York City.  Maybe New York City’s French wine selection can outstrip that of Paris... Read more
  • The Valle d’Aosta, Italy’s Beautiful Secret, Part 2
    This is the second article on Italy’s stunning Valle d’Aosta region. Here is the previous article on the La Kiuva co-op. This article explores the opposite of the co-op model: independent vigneron Vincent Grosjean. The Grosjean Brothers’ wines are like dark, knotted oaks; reticent with their charms, slow to grow,... Read more
  • The Valle d’Aosta, Italy’s Beautiful Secret
    The Valle d’Aosta is the fascinating Alpine junction between France, Switzerland, and Italy. In the extreme northwest of Italy, Valdostano denizens typically speak both French and Italian, their accents a mind-bending blend of Southern French drawl and classic bouncy, sing-song Italian. Contrary to popular belief, the Romans may not have... Read more
  • This New French Wine Monopoly Game Is A Little Crazy
    I’m a bit upset I hadn’t heard about this last November when it went on sale. Look at the playing board for this new French wine edition of Monopoly:   How fun is this? One simply must know immediately which vineyards occupy Boardwalk and Park Place squares, and which are... Read more
  • Wine and Mortality, pt 3
    This is the third post in the Wine and Mortality series. Previous articles examined our penchant for aged wine and wine collecting in light of our mortality. Can you remember the resveratrol craze of the early 2000s, when wine was touted as the Fountain of Youth? Forever obsessed with the... Read more
  • Wine and Mortality, pt 2
    My last article examined our penchant for aged wine in light of our mortal condition. Next up: wine collecting. A spurt of adrenalin accompanies any major wine purchase. Perhaps the same holds true for any number of things that aren’t as quotidian as bleach, garbage bags, or canned beans.  But... Read more
  • Wine and Mortality, pt 1
    Here’s an article I found interesting: The Seven Greatest Wines of All Time, a cursory metadata analysis examining wines which deserved a perfect score across critics. For the most part, only wines which had withstood the test of time — at least 20 years of age, or say the 1811... Read more
  • A Thanksgiving Wine List: Two Days’ Worth of Wine
    Two days, twenty people total at a dear friend’s family home in the woods of Connecticut. Obviously, if I have anything to say, there will be an accent on French wine. And there will be Burgundy.  And bubbles are in order! Some value options to offset the cost of Burgundy,... Read more
  • This Game Is Crack for French Oenophiles
    Gather ’round, fellow obsessive compulsive French wine lovers. This game will help swallow the hours while trapped indoors later this winter during yet another brutal polar vortex. Think you know French wine regions and corresponding cities? Prepare to have that assertion brutally challenged by this absurdly addictive game (click the... Read more
  • The Big Fight Over Riesling
    Riesling has been the source of a great deal of contention of late. Two wine critics seem to rather handily summarize the entrenched positions on either side of the debate. In this corner: Steve Heimoff firmly positions himself amidst the jeering masses that dislike Riesling, and resents wine cognoscenti’s insistence... Read more
  • Three Ways To Cheat at Food and Wine Pairing
    Getting food and wine to play together nicely is all about taking time to identify bridge elements: aromas that neatly connect food and wine. That char on your salmon; those shishito peppers in your omelet … it’s these details that make all the difference. But there is a way to... Read more
  • The True Test of A Burgundy Lover
    It was Kermit Lynch who wisely proffered the following edict many years ago : “Get to know a producer through their Bourgogne; purchase a case”. Great advice. A case of Bourgogne lets you see how a wine behaves differently in reaction to different foods and seasons, and becomes an inexpensive... Read more
  • On the Value of Wine Criticism: a Conversation with the Blind
    Let’s admit it, there are a lot of wine words that raise eyebrows. The esoteric jargon leaps to mind: “This wine has lift. Excellent palate tension”. “A laser-like focus”. “This wine is rather foursquare”. “Très nerveux”, quoth the French wine critic, often when sampling a dry white wine they like.... Read more
  • This Dish Works with Every Wine
    Rather than gleefully imagine the WORST wine pairing in the world (after much drunken discussion,  Muscat and spaghetti with red sauce took the prize), honestly, I can’t think of a wine that wouldn’t work with this dish. Leave it to the magical animal that is the pig to have borne... Read more
  • Acid vs Teeth: Dental Strategies for Massive Wine Tastings
    Almost the end of day one of the magical Grands Jours de Bourgogne, and I’d made it without any dental trauma. Each day’s events are loosely organized by Burgundy regions; Monday is a 9 to 5 orgy of Chablis ingurgitation.  As nothing else in Burgundy should compare in terms of... Read more
  • Dark Secrets of the 100 Point Wine Scale
    Even if the 100 point wine scoring system is not going away anytime soon, wine consumers are getting wise to some shameful flaws. Yet another ghastly pair of endemic faults which are seemingly never discussed? Glass ceilings for certain wines, and perhaps more insidiously: the invisible, deleterious effects of moderation... Read more
  • The Lightest Nebbiolo in the World
    Mute that damned phone; turn your computer’s volume up. Take a deep breath. Let me take you somewhere magical for five minutes. (You’ll want full-screen video). Welcome to one of the most beautiful places on this Earth: Valtellina. Sorry for the abrupt ending; this is an excerpt of a larger... Read more
  • Here Lies the Carcass of Napa Valley Winemaking
    or A DEAD HORSE ; The Tragedy of Napa Valley, as Seen Through the Lens of BV Georges de Latour Private Reserve Two weeks had passed, and I still couldn’t bring myself to pour the 2010 Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) Georges de Latour Private Reserve down the drain. It had been offered... Read more