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November 23, 2015 — Everyone knows Thanksgiving is not as relaxing as it pretends to be. But the drinking part should be easy—the antidote to any stress about relatives or kitchen snafus. So how did Thanksgiving become such a source of wine-related anxiety?

I get more calls from friends stressed about what they should pour on America’s quintessential holiday than I do for life-changing celebrations such as weddings. Some wine shops even try to reassure customers by offering wine tastings alongside bites of turkey, mashed potatoes, and all the fixings.

Surely the fuss is because this holiday is all about family and friends and the meaning of gathering them around a table spread with comfort food. That’s a recipe for anxiety right there.

But I’m here to help….

Is Grenache the New Pinot Noir?  How to Shop This Wine Trend


November 16, 2015 — There’s no movie— yet—with a guy rhapsodizing over a glass of grenache the way Miles (Paul Giamatti) crooned his love of pinot noir in wine buddy film Sideways.

But grenache is having its moment now, thanks to a bunch of talented young winemakers with a new vision of how enticing these red wines can be.

“They’re generous, happy wines, just delicious. They say, ‘drink me,’” says Carla Rzeszewski, former wine director at April Bloomfield’s Spotted Pig group.

The best have some of pinot’s seductive pleasure at a cheaper price. Juicy and soft, bursting with heady aromas, lively fruit, and a little minerality, they can suck you in with their supersexy silk and velvet textures….



What Every Wine Geek Needs to Know, Right Now



November 6, 2015 — Listen up: Do you know what these phrases mean: “Pet-nat,” “concrete eggs,” “en rama,” “koshu,” or “red blotch”? You’re not up to speed with the latest trends if you don’t. These terms tip off changes in the ever-more-evolving wine world that affect what you’re drinking.

Fortunately, they also happen to be among the 350 new entries in the just-published 4th edition of the weighty, authoritative, indispensable Oxford Companion to Wine, so it’s easy to catch up.

First published in 1994 and last revised in 2006, the book keeps pace with the times. The new must-have edition packs 978,609 words and more than 4,000 entries into 912 pages. It weighs 6.2 pounds, so forget reading it in bed.

Over lunch at Gramercy Tavern, accompanied by glasses of savory 2012 Kiralyudvar Furmint Sec ($20 at retail), OCW editor Jancis Robinson filled me in on how she and her co-editor Julia Harding, both Masters of Wine, backed up by some 200 experts, updated this sumo wrestler of a reference guide….



New York Wine Auctions make Splashy Return with Château Margaux Cellar Sale


October 15, 2015 — Last week, I was happily swooning over a glass of the plummy, violet-scented 1982 Château Margaux at a preview tasting at Sotheby’s in Manhattan. On Saturday, that vintage will be one of the star offerings at an auction devoted exclusively to bottles direct from the cellars of this first growth Bordeaux château. The 239 lots span vintages 1900 to 2012.

That the sale is happening in New York is a big deal, and not just because the wines are among the world’s best, more seductive than other first growths when young and wonderfully fragrant.

In the past five years, similar sales of wines from first growth châteaux Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Haut-Brion, and Mouton Rothschild have all been held in Hong Kong, chasing high Bordeaux demand in Asia—and more open wallets.

As Sotheby’s president of wine, Jamie Ritchie, put it, this Margaux sale sends a message that New York is back on top of the wine auction game….

Champagne is back, but it has more serious competition than ever


October 12, 2015 — Sales of luxury bubbles have bounced back, and since we’re heading into prime fizz season, I grabbed the chance last week to sample more than 125 Champagnes and top sparkling wines from countries such as Spain and Portugal.

Drinking expensive fizz has always been linked with a positive economic outlook (though personally I think it’s also an essential perk-up if you’re coping with a downturn). That’s why Champagne plunged in late 2008, and prosecco swooped in as the cheapie alternative….


from LE PAN:

Beautiful or Beastly? The World’s Most Artful Wine Labels


November 6, 2015 — People buy wine with their eyes, the late Napa Valley vintner Robert Mondavi once told me. He was talking about how a label design influences what wine we choose to drink. Part symbol, part source of essential information, part marketing and sales tool, a label is like the cover of a book, a clue to what’s inside the bottle and a way to stand out on retail shelves.

A handful of prestigious wine estates take the idea further, enlisting a celebrated artist to create a painting or sketch for the label as a way of announcing that a great wine is also a work of art.

When Château Mouton Rothschild recently revealed its label for the 2013 vintage by Korean-born Lee Ufan, I began thinking about why so many wineries have copied the Bordeaux first growth’s lead. The château has spotlighted a different artist almost every year since 1945, thanks to the ambitious Baron Philippe de Rothschild, a brilliant marketer.

Now his grandson Julien Sereys de Beaumarchais, who, with his brother and sister, inherited the château last year, has taken over the art-beat task. “Our only requirement is that the artist we pick should have a global reputation comparable to that of Mouton Rothschild in the world of wine,” he explains.

Linking wine with fine art elevates it as a key part of culture – or so the thinking goes….


Sonoma’s greatest Pinot Noir vineyards


October 14, 2015 — From Hirsch Vineyards, on a high ridge of Sonoma’s coast, I can see the blue Pacific just a few miles away. The wind is strong and cold, and the vineyard rises above a blanket of fog like a sunny island.

This verdant outcropping is one of the most famous Pinot Noir sites in California. A dozen wineries have sought out its grapes in their quest to make great wines and Hirsch has long been on my shortlist of ‘grand cru’ Pinot Noir vineyards.

Notoriously finicky, the so-called heartbreak grape doesn’t fair well everywhere. California winemakers have struggled for decades to identify the spots where the grapes produce wines with the tart, crushed-cherry flavors and seductive textures you get from Pinot’s home, Burgundy.

In Sonoma, Pinot Noir paradise is in the coolest areas….


Drinking Well at 36,000 Feet

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October 15, 2015 — This past spring, Joost Heymeijer arrived in Bordeaux with the Emirates airline wine team for a four-day marathon of tasting barrel samples. They ended up purchasing almost 1 million bottles as futures, zeroing in on 60 famed crus classés, such as Château Cheval Blanc. When the wines are ready to drink, they’ll be poured gratis in Emirates’ first and business classes.

“A long journey looks a lot better with a glass of fine Bordeaux or champagne,” says Heymeijer, who’s in charge of the airline’s in-flight catering. “That’s why we’ve spent half a billion dollars on the wine program over the past decade.” Two million bottles are aging in a warehouse in Burgundy; the rest are stashed in Dubai.

Emirates is one of many airlines adding elite wines to the list of luxury perks like massage beds and Michelin-starred cuisine as a long-term strategy to win wealthy travelers’ loyalty.



How I Learned to Love Australian Wine

awesome-australian-wines-10005024March 3, 2015 — Australia’s thick, jammy Shirazes, cheap fruity/oaky blends from industrial producers, and cellar-wizard winemaker philosophy have long shaped that country’s wine image abroad – and never appealed to me.

So what turned me into an Aussie wine fan? The stunning new wave reds and whites I tasted not long ago on visits to two cool-climate valleys. They reminded me once again how diverse a wine country Australia is and showed me what I hope is the face of its vinous future.

I found dozens of ambitious young-gun winemakers, who are ignoring fruit-bomb styles and lashings of oak for leaner, subtler wines. And instead of blending grapes from different regions, they’re embracing single vineyards….

from The World of Fine Wine:

Romancing the Grape


Issue 47 – 2015 — I admit it: I’m a wine romantic. I respond to those special landscapes in wine country, the rows of gnarled vines tended by passionate families attached to their land for generations, the ever-repeated miracle of clusters of grapes being transformed into a drink that reflects their patch of ground, the dark cellars of cobwebbed barrels that hold history in liquid form. The wines that most capture my imagination seem imbued with a kind of meaning that no other beverage can match, their tastes conjuring cultural values that often tap into deep emotions.

My first visit to a California winery, several decades ago, was just the type of wine experience that fosters that kind of romantic view…

© 2002-2015 Elin McCoy. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of images or texts in this site without written permission.

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