featured, United States: California
Readers who appreciate the transparency and nuance of site-specific Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Bordeaux-blends will adore the 2016s from the Santa Cruz Mountains. The wines are aromatically nuanced, delineated and highly expressive of their origins. After brutally low yields in 2015, Mother Nature was more generous in 2016. Yields are never especially high in the mountains, but producers had enough fruit to bottle all of their labels, a highly positive development compared to 2015, when a number of wines weren't made at all.
Let’s Eat Grandma. To be honest, I presumed it was a particularly inspired gothic name for a band. It was only when my daughter piped up that it was in fact a commonly used example à la Eats Shoots and Leaves to teach pupils how grammar can warp the meaning of a sentence that I understood its origin. I first caught the duo, Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth, who have been childhood friends since kindergarten, on Jools Holland a couple of years ago.
featured, Rest of the World
This summer gave me an opportunity to sample a number of high-quality Rosés, wines that are ideal companions to hot-weather food or for just enjoying by themselves. But don’t be in a hurry as their adaptability at the table often makes them year-round drinking options.
South Africa, Cellar Favorites, cellar favorite
During my recent visit to the Cape, I planned a lunch with Merchant Roland Peens. To my surprise, he munificently poured four bottles of Lanzerac Cabernet from the 1960s that he had recently acquired from a private cellar.
United States: New York, Vinous Table
Organized at the last minute, this intimate dinner with a small group of friends is a fabulous way to spend a summer evening in Manhattan. I always find it relaxing to step into Marea’s elegant dining room, perhaps because my memories of this space go back to the days when it was home to Tony May’s iconic San Domenico. Since 2009, Chef/Owner Michael White has delighted guests with a contemporary fish and seafood-based menu that is just as exciting today as it was when Marea first opened. The pastas in particular showcase White’s cooking and creative flair to a great effect.
featured, France: Burgundy
Chablis has born the brunt of frost and hail in recent vintages and yet it remains one of Burgundy’s most exciting regions. With the spotlight on 2016 and 2017, how did growers cope with the hurdles that Mother Nature threw in their way and how is Chablis changing as a region?
featured, Verticals & Retrospectives, Italy: Tuscany
From his first vintage in 1995, Marco Ricasoli-Firidolfi has crafted powerful, yet elegant wines imbued with real character. This vertical tasting of the Chianti Classico Vigneto San Marcellino once again showed the pedigree Sangiovese is capable of in the hands of an inspired grower guided by a desire to make wines that express the essence of site and vintage.
featured, Verticals & Retrospectives, France: Bordeaux
I rarely travel to the far northern reaches of the Médoc. Beyond Calon-Ségur, the Médoc is a mystery...like Narnia...or north Essex. However, when Jean Guyon invited me for a complete vertical of Haut-Condissas back to 1997, I was intrigued to discover whether or not it fulfills its lofty ambitions.
Italy: Tuscany, Cellar Favorites, cellar favorite
Fontodi’s 1998 Chianti Classico reminds me of why I love these wines so much. At age twenty, the 1998 is simply glorious, with plenty of dried cherry, tobacco, saddle leather, licorice, dried cedar and smoke overtones wrapped into a classic, mid-weight frame.
Vinous Table, United Kingdom
La Trompette, née 2001, used to be a good local restaurant but lagged behind others owned by Nigel Platts-Martin, such as Chez Bruce, The Ledbury, The Glasshouse and The Square (the latter since sold and frankly a pale imitation of what used to be one of the capitals finest restaurants.) Located in Chiswick in West London, it literally lies round the corner from Hedone that Antonio recently reviewed. Refurbishment in 2013 saw La Trompette shut its doors and reopen with more ambition. Rob Weston, who had worked at La Gavroche and subsequently as Phil Howard’s right hand man at The Square for 15-years, took the menu to a completely different level. I am probably not the only person opining that La Trompette is the most consistent, well-priced, Michelin-starred restaurant in London and I say that as someone who has eaten there 30 or 40 times.