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.
Vinous Table, United Kingdom
La Trompette, née 2001, used to be a good local restaurant but lagged behind others owned by Nigel Platts-Martin, such as Chez Bruce, The Ledbury, The Glasshouse and The Square (the latter since sold and frankly a pale imitation of what used to be one of the capitals finest restaurants.) Located in Chiswick in West London, it literally lies round the corner from Hedone that Antonio recently reviewed. Refurbishment in 2013 saw La Trompette shut its doors and reopen with more ambition. Rob Weston, who had worked at La Gavroche and subsequently as Phil Howard’s right hand man at The Square for 15-years, took the menu to a completely different level. I am probably not the only person opining that La Trompette is the most consistent, well-priced, Michelin-starred restaurant in London and I say that as someone who has eaten there 30 or 40 times.
featured, France: Rhône & Beaujolais
Two thousand sixteen in Gigondas, as in the rest of the southern Rhône, experienced a growing season for the record books, yet again – producing expressive, intense, fruit-driven wines of often profound depth as well as energy.
featured, Verticals & Retrospectives, United States: California
From the outset, Randy Dunn’s flagship Cabernet has been one of Napa Valley’s slowest agers and most consistently outstanding wines. This retrospective going back to the inaugural 1979 vintage showed the Howell Mountain Cabernet to be a wine of great intensity and staying power but also of restraint and class.
I keep on hearing Kamasi Washington on the radio. Like many I appreciated his work with the imperious Kendrick Lamar on his epochal To Pimp A Butterfly in 2015, which led me to the tenor saxophonist/band-leaders three-hour and appropriately titled triple album The Epic. He recently released a follow-up, Heaven and Earth that clocks in at a “brief” two-hours. And you know...I like it. OMG. I like jazz. What’s happening to me? Is it because I am now working with jazz aficionado Antonio Galloni? Did he put something in my wine? Why do I feel inclined to grow a goatee beard and don a beige roll-neck jumper? Why do I wish Rihanna sang her songs on 5/4 time with a three-hour triangle solo? Dr. Music...tell me what is happening?
France: Burgundy, Cellar Favorites, cellar favorite
Recently, my friend Dan Keeling, co-owner of “Noble Rot” restaurant in London, called to ask whether he should take a punt on a bottle of Rousseau’s 1985 Gevrey-Chambertin that had been perfectly stored since release. He told me the price. No denying it was extortion for a village wine...but not insulting. In the back of mind, I contemplated how well some of those villages performed at Tour d’Argent back in January. Why not give it a go? A few weeks later I met up with Dan and he generously popped open that very bottle. Thankfully it confirmed my view that grower and in particular, provenance, can transcend vineyard site and thereby save you a lot of wallet heartache. It was so divine that we both agreed that it cast doubt on the benefits of trading up to a Premier or Grand Cru.
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.
Italy, Vinous Table
Caruso is one of the most unique restaurants you’ll ever dine in, perhaps because it effectively doubles as a museum dedicated to the great Neapolitan tenor. Though the interior décor might lead you think otherwise, the food and the wine list here are remarkably good.
featured, germany: Mosel
The 2016 growing season in the Rheingau and Mittelrhein set weather records. But the resulting Rieslings, while variable in quality, are often impressive thanks to their balance and understated character, which stand in contrast to the vintage's meteorological extremes.
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.