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Rioja: The Past Is Always Present

featured, Spain

Josh Raynolds, Apr 2021

Change comes slowly in Rioja. Many of the winemaking practices that were in place when the region was established in the third quarter of the 19th century are widely used today. Grapes are pressed traditionally and most of the best wines are aged, sometimes for many years, in oak barrels of various sizes, with a preference towards American oak. Many winemakers see oxidation during aging as an asset, not a flaw, that when done correctly, brings the unique perfume, complex flavors and supple texture that make serious Rioja among the world’s greatest wines.

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Mediterranean Spain: Where to Start?

featured, Spain

Josh Raynolds, Mar 2021

In recent vintages, the Mediterranean wine-producing regions in Spain have produced a large number of outstanding wines. The range of wines influenced by the sea is staggering, from bone-dry bubblies to structured, world-class reds and some of the most decadent sweet wines in the world.

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The Vast Bounty of Central Spain

featured, Spain

Josh Raynolds, Feb 2021

While serious wine fanatics are well acquainted with Ribera del Duero, Toro and Rueda, much of the world consumes millions of gallons of wine a year made in the less lofty nearby regions, especially La Mancha and the far-reaching Castilla y León, both of which often deliver excellent value. Then there are unsung DOs like Campo de Borja, where readers will find some of the biggest bang-for-the-buck Grenache in the world.

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Cellar Favorite: 1967 Château d’Yquem Sauternes Premier Grand Cru

cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites, France: Bordeaux

Josh Raynolds, Jan 2021

I have been fortunate to taste the legendary Château d’Yquem a number of times since the early 1980s but hadn’t had the opportunity to actually drink it in many years. That was until a generous friend brought a surprise bottle along to an indulgent Château Petrus vertical this fall, to be shared among a small group of wine lovers at the outstanding Peppercorn’s Grill in Hartford, Connecticut.

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San Luis Obispo: Excellence Hiding in Plain Sight

United States: California, featured

Josh Raynolds, Jan 2021

It’s an ongoing mystery to me that, aside from a small handful of producers, San Luis Obispo hasn’t received the attention it deserves for its almost universally high quality wines. In the excellent 2018 vintage, SLO’s wineries outdid themselves.

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Paso Robles 2018 & 2017: Grace and Power

United States: California, featured

Josh Raynolds, Dec 2020

Following the hot 2017 vintage, growers and winemakers in Paso Robles were relieved to have a cooler vintage in 2018. The long growing season and moderate conditions led to an unhurried harvest and a larger-than-normal crop of healthy fruit. The results are outstanding.

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Domaine A. Clape Cornas: 2012–1987

Verticals & Retrospectives, featured, France: Rhône & Beaujolais

Josh Raynolds, Dec 2020

One of the world’s iconic estates, Domaine Auguste Clape has long set the standard for the Cornas appellation and has featured on any Rhône aficionado’s short list of the region’s very best properties. With a mere eight hectares of vines spread across Cornas, Saint-Péray and Côtes-du-Rhône, the Clapes produce two different examples of Cornas, a Saint-Péray, a red Côtes-du-Rhône and a red Vin de France. All of the reds are made with whole clusters and fermented in concrete vats before being moved into ancient, traditional oval foudres for aging. Because of small production (roughly 2,500 cases per vintage, total) and longtime worldwide demand, especially for the flagship Cornas, the wines are not always easy to find. Unfortunately, the world has caught on, and prices have risen sharply as well. These are structured, long-lived wines that are definitely built for the patient consumer. As this retrospective shows, patience is consistently rewarded, even in tough vintages.

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Vinous Table: Pizza and The Original Hamburger in New Haven, CT

Vinous Table

Josh Raynolds, Nov 2020

I was recently passing through New Haven, outside the always hectic lunch and dinner hours, so made the not-difficult call to stop in Modern and also to swing into Louis’ Lunch, founded in 1895 and home of what many historians believe is the world’s original hamburger. As usual, both quick snacks were sublime, both for the food and the atmosphere.

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Vinous Table: Crabtowne USA, Glen Burnie, MD

Vinous Table

Josh Raynolds, Oct 2020

Readers visiting the D.C. or Baltimore area who love seafood and tradition owe it to themselves to hit a Maryland crab house or two. It’s a unique, timeless and comforting experience that I try to enjoy as often as possible.

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2018 Santa Lucia Highlands: What a Difference a Year Makes

United States: California, featured

Josh Raynolds, Oct 2020

Following the epically hot 2017 vintage, Mother Nature paid Santa Lucia Highlands growers and winemakers back, with interest, by delivering a picture perfect season and an abundant crop of healthy grapes in 2018. The wines feature distinct energy and fine definition, with expressive fruit, well-integrated tannins for the red wines and relatively uncommon nerviness for the whites.