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. As always, I am struck by the complexity and world-class pedigree that seems to come naturally in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a bucolic, seemingly remote region that is in reality quite close to Silicon Valley and some of the most vibrant communities in the United States.
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, 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.
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.
Two thousand-eighteen is shaping up to be a terrific year for Champagne lovers, as there are a number of new releases in the market, from large houses and small estates alike, including many wines that are being offered for the first time. Champagne continues to be one of the most fascinating regions in the world. Of course, the best wines are compelling, but it is the fast pace with which new Champagnes and estates continue to emerge that makes the region so exciting today. The 2018 Summer Preview mostly focuses on new releases in advance of my much larger and more comprehensive annual fall coverage.
I have been playing Gibson guitars for about thirty years, so it was a thrill to have an opportunity to stop by Gibson’s Nashville Custom Shop for a visit earlier this year. The level of craftsmanship, passion and history was fascinating to experience first hand as we walked from station to station and met with the talented men and women who build some of Gibson’s most coveted instruments.
United States: California, Vinous Table
This recent dinner at SingleThread was one of the most remarkable meals I have had in a very long time. From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, everything was simply perfect. Fabulous food, a welcoming atmosphere and first-class service make SingleThread a must for readers visiting Northern California wine country.
Cellar Favorites, cellar favorite, Italy: Piedmont
Fratelli Alessandria’s 1995 Barolo Monvigliero provides a fascinating look into an early wine from an estate that has joined the ranks of the elite in recent years. Nineteen ninety-five is also a vintage that is really peaking today, with a number of wines showing better than they ever have.
featured, United States: California
As I look at the producers I regularly cover in Sonoma and Napa Valley, I am astonished by the number of wineries that did not exist just five years ago when I founded Vinous. Many of those that were around offer a wider range of wines today than they did back then. All of that makes keeping up with new releases from California a huge but also rewarding challenge. Most importantly, though, the number of new, high-quality wineries that continue to pop up is one of the main reasons I remain so excited about the future of California wine. Our Sonoma and Napa Valley Supplement mostly covers wines that for one reason or another I was unable to taste during the course of my focused regional tastings.
Cellar Favorites, cellar favorite, France: Bordeaux
From the moment it is opened and served, the 1955 Latour is simply regal. Floral and remarkably bright for a wine of its age, the 1955 offers a level of pure seduction that is hard to capture with words.