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2018 Château d'Yquem

featured, France: Bordeaux

Vinous, Sep 2020

Three bottles tasted and two separate, independent critical opinions, both in one place. Neal Martin and I offer our views on the 2018 Château d'Yquem.

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Krug: 2006 In Three Acts

France: Champagne, featured

Antonio Galloni, Sep 2020

Clos du Mesnil is one of the most revered sites in Champagne. Rémi and Henri Krug bought the 1.84-hectare vineyard in 1971 with the goal of securing a high-quality fruit source. But once they started working with the fruit, they realized they had something special. The first Clos du Mesnil, the 1979, remains epic to this day. Although not be design, Clos du Mesnil is also the archetype for what many grower Champagnes would later become – single vineyard, single variety, single vintage wines. I recently had the chance to taste the 2006 Clos du Mesnil, the latest release, with Olivier Krug over Zoom, which is how everything seems to happen these days.

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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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Close to the Edge: Chablis 2018 & 2019

featured, France: Burgundy

Neal Martin, Sep 2020

The 2018 and 2019 Chablis growing seasons are cut from a similar cloth, but on close examination there are crucial differences that sway their respective styles. This report compares the two and asks to what extent climate change might erode Chablis’ uniqueness.

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Antinori Solaia From Magnum: 1978-2016

featured, Italy: Tuscany

Antonio Galloni, Sep 2020

It’s always great to be in London. There is something magical about the city. Its energy and pulse are so inspiring. This vertical of Antinori’s iconic Solaia going back to the inaugural 1978, with all but the very early vintages from magnum, was truly unforgettable.

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Chianti Classico: More Than Meets The Eye

featured, Italy: Tuscany

Antonio Galloni, Sep 2020

For the first time in many, many years I was not able to make my summer trip to Tuscany to taste the wines of Chianti Classico. That’s 2020 for you. But you know what? There is something to be said for the perspective gained by tasting the wines far away from those stunning hillside vineyards, removed from the charming towns, without any of that amazing food. Would the wines be as impressive as I have long thought?

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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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Verdicchio – Italy’s Killer V

featured, Italy: Center & South

Eric Guido, Sep 2020

Verdicchio is one of the most versatile grapes in all of Italy. It can be vibrant and remarkably fresh, or crafted in a more serious style with the potential to mature for upwards of a decade. When harvested late, Verdicchio takes on textural depths and ripeness that balance wonderfully against naturally high acidity. Oak? It can handle that too, while still communicating purity. No matter what the expression, Verdicchio almost always makes a killer wine, and yet it still does not get the full attention it deserves.

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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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Constance Craving: Vin de Constance 1992-2017

featured, South Africa

Neal Martin, Sep 2020

In Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility, one of literature’s finest works detailing the ups and downs of courtship and matters of the heart, Mrs. Jennings suggests to Elinor Dashwood that she drink a slug of finest old Constantia to recover from a fever brought on by her romantic interest, John Willoughby. Jennings counsels that the sweet wine not only cures “colicky gout,” but possesses “healing powers on a disappointed heart.” Like those characters in Austen’s novel, I do appreciate one of the iconic sweet wines of the world – one that, as I shall describe, is undergoing a quiet revolution.