The hilly terrain of vacqueyras is surrounded by forests and local flora  or garrigue  typical of northen provence

Vacqueyras: The Southern Rhône’s Stealth Appellation

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, Feb 2020

While its more famous neighbors have long been on the radar of wine lovers and collectors, Vacqueyras and its wines continue to fly under the radar. That is likely to soon change, especially given the consistently fine value these wines offer and the uniformly high quality of recent and upcoming vintages.

High altitude vineyards in gigondas  like at domaine des bosquets  provide optimal conditions wines of balance and freshness. copy

Gigondas Maintains Its Tempo

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, Feb 2020

Gigondas, like the rest of the southern Rhône Valley, experienced lows and highs, in that order, in 2017. The low points came at the beginning of the year, when warm weather set off early flowering, and in May, when shatter severely affected Grenache, resulting in significant crop loss across the region. Fortunately, the remainder of the season was picture perfect, if warm, while the quality of the crop was very high.

Grenache makes up the base of many of the best and most expressive wines from paso robles copy

Paso Robles Can’t Stop Winning

United States: California, featured

Josh Raynolds, Feb 2020

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, 2017 yielded yet another exceptional harvest for Paso Robles. It’s the latest in a stretch of outstanding vintages that extends, unbroken, back to 2011, which was by no means a truly bad year. The best wines deftly combine richness and energy, with a balance of fruit and structure that is compelling.

1966 dow's port 1 copy

Cellar Favorite: 1966 Dow’s Vintage Port

Portugal, cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites

Josh Raynolds, Jan 2020

Nineteen sixty-six has long been an undervalued year for Port, especially given the across-the-board quality of the wines, many of which can stand toe-to-toe with their 1963 siblings.

Large  oval wooden foudres have long been the vessel of choice for raising grenache in ch%c3%a2teauneuf du pape copy

The Riches and Richness of Chateauneuf-du-Pape

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, Dec 2019

Châteauneuf-du-Pape fans will find plenty to like from 2017, a vintage marked by consistently warm to hot weather that yielded distinctly rich, fleshy, fruit-driven wines. The growing season presented its share of challenges, and yet the best wines are compelling. Even so, readers need to be selective, as the style of the year is quite particular, and some wines are overdone.

Soberanes vineyard copy

Santa Lucia Highlands Braves the Heat in 2017

United States: California, featured

Josh Raynolds, Nov 2019

The Santa Lucia Highlands produced a bevy of outstanding wines in 2017, despite a growing season that had some challenges, including a heat wave over Labor Day weekend. While the 2017s deliver plenty of up-front appeal, they also have the depth and balance to age gracefully for years to come.

Moulin a vent post harvest copy

Beaujolais: If You Want Value - You’ve Got It

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, Oct 2019

While prices for French wines with historic pedigree are often dramatically rising, Beaujolais, for the most part, continues to provide a respite from an overheated market. That, plus a string of recent vintages with average quality level ranging from very good to outstanding, makes Beaujolais one of the most intriguing regions in the world for savvy wine lovers.

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Northern Rhône: 2016 and 2017 Reds

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, Sep 2019

The two most recent vintages of bottled reds from the northern Rhône present two quite different faces of Syrah: 2017 full of dark fruit character, power and even opulence, and 2016 with bright, well-defined fruit qualities, distinct freshness and harmonious tannins.

2019 rose 3 copy

2019 Rosé Roundup

featured, Rest of the World

Josh Raynolds, Aug 2019

There have never been more high-quality pink wines available than there are today. Worldwide demand for Rosé, at all price levels, is at an all-time high. But the Rosé boom has also resulted in a large number of uninteresting, forgettable wines, so knowing where to look is key. These are the most distinctive and delicious Rosés I tasted this year.

Young vines in the granitc soils of the highly esteemed and high altitude les eygats lieu dit in cornas copy

2017 and 2018 Northern Rhône

France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured

Josh Raynolds, Jul 2019

The 2017 vintage in the northern Rhône was marked by unpredictable weather swings, resulting in a short crop of ripe, healthy grapes that produced numerous fruit-forward, highly attractive wines to drink young. Meanwhile, 2018 was another hot year, but the wines show more energy than their 2017 siblings.