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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.


Penultimate: A New Chapter at Promontory

United States: California, featured

Antonio Galloni, Sep 2020

About ten years ago I met Bill Harlan at a small winery a stone’s throw from Meadowood and The Napa Valley Reserve. Harlan took a set of maps and spread them out over a coffee table. “This is our latest project,” he told me as his eyes lit up. Harlan explained that he had chanced upon the property while hiking back in the 1980s and used evocative phrases like “the land” and “the territory” to describe a place that sounded like something out of the Wild West or a fairy tale, possibly both. That sort of mysticism is not often associated with Napa Valley, but Napa Valley can be that way once you move away from the well-known areas. That place was Promontory. I recently had a chance to taste the first three vintages of Penultimate, the newest wine from the property, with Will Harlan and Winemakers Cory Empting and David Cilli.

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The Sta. Rita Hills: Wine & People of the Wild West

United States: California, featured

Brenna Ritchey, Sep 2020

Better understanding the Sta. Rita Hills appellation has been a project of mine for a while now (before a certain global pandemic threw a very heavy, very rusted wrench in those plans). My postgrad job working at a local tasting room in Santa Barbara had convinced me that I knew next to nothing about the wheres and whens and whos of the wines I was selling. Names like Brewer-Clifton, Sanford and Au Bon Climat that I grew up seeing my parents enjoy in the 1990s and early 2000s, my 9-year-old eyes level with the kitchen countertop, were an early inspiration and pointed me towards the Sta. Rita Hills as a great place to start.

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Santa Cruz Mountains: Wines of Breathtaking Pedigree

United States: California, featured

Antonio Galloni, Sep 2020

I tasted more truly exceptional wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains this year than at any time over the past decade. The 2018 Pinots are utterly breathtaking, while the 2017 and 2016 Bordeaux reds and 2016 Rhônes aren’t too far behind. I have long believed that the Santa Cruz Mountains is one of the world's preeminent regions for fine whites and reds that speak of place. These new releases certainly make a statement.

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Santa Barbara: An In-Depth Look at the 2018s

United States: California, featured

Antonio Galloni, Aug 2020

Readers will find a wealth of superb wines to explore in this year’s crop of new releases from Santa Barbara. A mix of established producers upping their games and younger winemakers building their reputations are at the heart of one of the most dynamic regions anywhere in the world. The 2018 harvest gave producers the raw materials to make stunning wines that capture the promise I sensed when I first started tasting the vintage from barrel last year, but quality is variable in some, so a little care is essential.


Vintage Retrospective: The 2001 Napa Valley Cabernets

Verticals & Retrospectives, United States: California, featured

Stephen Tanzer, Jun 2020

Sandwiched between three cool years and three growing seasons affected by late-season heat spikes, 2001 has proven to be a Napa Valley classic for Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends. The better wines are in fine form today.

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Vintage Retrospective: The 2010 Napa Valley Cabernets

Verticals & Retrospectives, United States: California, featured

Stephen Tanzer, May 2020

The Vinous vintage chart rates 2010 as the top vintage for Napa Valley Cabernet between 1991 and 2013. As my recent retrospective tasting showed, the 2010s are overdelivering on their early promise.

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Winemaking and Wine Marketing in a Plague Year

United States: California, featured, France, General Interest, New Zealand, United States: Oregon, Argentina, Australia, Italy

Stephen Tanzer, May 2020

In just the past couple of months, the novel coronavirus has profoundly changed the production and sale of wine around the globe. In this roundtable interview, 35 producers get specific about the challenges they are facing.

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Cellar Favorite: 2007 Carlisle Syrah Cardiac Hill Bennett Valley

United States: California, cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites

Eric Guido, Apr 2020

Too few people think about cellaring the Carlisle Syrahs. That’s understandable, considering that the wines’ primary fruit and intensity gives so much pleasure upon release. But it is only with cellaring that the wines start to take on the complexities and characteristics that Rhône lovers so often seek.

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San Luis Obispo: Solidifying an Identity

United States: California, featured

Josh Raynolds, Apr 2020

The best-known region within San Luis Obispo County is, of course, Paso Robles. However, most wines that carry the San Luis Obispo designation bear little resemblance to those from that AVA, emphasizing elegance and energy over ripeness and strength.