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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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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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The Glorious 1999 Red Burgundies

featured, Verticals & Retrospectives, France: Burgundy

Stephen Tanzer, Mar 2018

From the outset, the 1999 red Burgundies offered a rare combination of charm and power. Most of the better wines were balanced and alluring from the start, but they are evolving very slowly and still have plenty of life ahead of them. While many of the ’99s I sampled with the producers this winter in the course of my tastings of ’16s and ’15s have gone through sullen stages in bottle, most of them have launched into their periods of peak drinkability. If you own these wines – and especially if you chose wisely at the outset – you will be amply rewarded.

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Red Burgundy '16 & '15: Superb Vintages, Different Styles

featured, France: Burgundy

Stephen Tanzer, Jan 2018

Despite extreme weather conditions in both 2016 and 2015, Burgundy’s Côte d’Or has produced an outstanding pair of back-to-back vintages studded with hauntingly beautiful reds.

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Mâconnais 2016 and 2015: Dealing with the Elements

featured, France: Burgundy

Stephen Tanzer, Nov 2017

Following the drought vintage of 2015 and its atypically rich but sometimes unwieldy wines, 2016 yielded fresh, pure, aromatic wines that should offer considerable early pleasure. But concentration levels vary widely in ’16, as a severe late-April hailstorm had a major impact on vine yields in much of the southern Mâconnais.

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Washington: Various Shades of Hot

featured, United States: Washington

Stephen Tanzer, Oct 2017

Washington’s recent streak of hot years has yielded an unprecedented number of outstanding wines. But each of these vintages has come with its own set of challenges.

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Cayuse Vineyards’ Syrah Bionic Frog: 2000 – 2014

featured, Verticals & Retrospectives, United States: Washington

Stephen Tanzer, Oct 2017

Christophe Baron’s adventures in Walla Walla Valley quickly bore fruit. Since the turn of the new century his wines — especially his Syrahs — have consistently stood out from the crowd in Washington State. Baron’s Bionic Frog bottling is the best of them, as a comprehensive recent vertical tasting made clear.

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2016 & 2015 White Burgundy

featured, France: Burgundy

Stephen Tanzer, Sep 2017

It was quality over quantity in 2016, as a fraught growing season with sharply reduced production appears to have produced charming, aromatically appealing wines that will give early pleasure. The best 2015s are denser, deeper and more serious but rarely show the austerity of wines from more classic high-acid years.

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Vintage Retrospective: The 1997 Napa Valley Cabernets

featured, Verticals & Retrospectives, United States: California

Stephen Tanzer, Sep 2017

For a year with wall-to-wall sunshine and a very early harvest, the 1997 Napa Valley Cabernets are surprisingly classic in style. The better wines have aged beautifully on their sheer strength of material and balance, and often show striking aromatic complexity, not to mention uncanny retention of fresh fruit. Some of the best ‘97s are from higher-altitude vineyards that enjoyed extra hang time owing to cooler afternoon temperatures and yielded more structured wines.

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Chablis 2016 & 2015: Quality Over Quantity

featured, France: Burgundy

Stephen Tanzer, Aug 2017

Extreme weather conditions vexed growers in Chablis in 2016 and 2015, but both vintages produced many very good to excellent wines that avoid the tooth-rattling acidity and forbidding austerity of examples from more classic years. Today the 2016s appear to be more transparent to their terroirs but the best ‘15s may surprise us with their vineyard specificity after they’ve had a chance to burn off some of their considerable baby fat.