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.
Cellar Favorites, cellar favorite
When I published my Pomerol book back at the end of 2012 there remained numerous historic wines that I had to still cross off on my “To do” list. My palate still awaited these wines to cross its threshold. It’s not easy. Ancient Pomerol is more difficult to find than much of Bordeaux since quantities have always been much smaller than those on the Left Bank. In bygone times, wines were not seen as worthy of long-term cellaring and consequently many were consumed in their infancy. Châteaux kept little library stock, in fact, I cannot think of any that have bins full of mature vintages in their cellar. One wine that eluded me for many years was the 1961 Latour-à-Pomerol, this despite undertaking two fairly comprehensive verticals in recent years.
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.
Italy: Piedmont, Piedmont, Italy
One of Piedmont’s historic dining spots, Il Cascinale Nuovo celebrates its fiftieth birthday this year. My latest visit shows this historic spot to be none the worse for wear.
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.
featured, France: Alsace
In Alsace, a new generation of young winemakers is starting to take over the roles of their parents at a number of family domaines. The result is a bevy of fresh, exciting wines that are well worth exploring.
United States: California, Vinous Table
A San Francisco institution, Zuni Café has kept guests well fed since 1979, eons by the standards with which restaurants open and close in the United States. The cozy, two-story, rustic dining room is bustling with energy as we settle in for this mid-week lunch.
Verticals & Retrospectives, United Kingdom, featured
“There is no budget,” was the reply from 67 Pall Mall when the London private club’s management asked me to choose wines for a recent master class. Over the years I have led many tastings, but this seminar was especially memorable. Most events are organized around themes of a vintage or producer, but for this masterclass we opted for a totally new concept suggested by Vinous co-founder James Forsyth: ten wines that had a personal significance in shaping my life in wine.
In 2016, Mother Nature and Rheinhessen’s top growers seem to have made the same request of one another: “Cool it!” Happily, both complied. Without question, Rheinhessen growers have experienced two outstanding vintages in 2015 and 2016, but the latter boasts a surplus of wines that display the imponderable interplay of balance, elegance and charm, which to my palate give them a slight qualitative edge and an at least equal claim on cellar space.