Skip to content

the Latest…


Top Chinese Wines Have Gone From Bad to Good. Will They Become Great?


June 26, 2015 —  Ever tasted a wine made from “dragon eyes” grapes?

Neither had I, until I attended a packed seminar and tasting of Chinese wines at trade fair VinExpo last week.

I started out curious but skeptical, as most of the country’s wines I’d sampled previously were largely forgettable, especially those made from Chinese hybrid grapes with similarly poetic, unusual names like French Wild and Rose Honey.

 People outside China don’t know much about these wines because so few have been exported. Only in the past couple of years have a handful grabbed medals in international wine competitions and gained media attention. Many others were (and still are) poor, thin, lacked fruit, and often suffered from basic winemaking faults.

To my surprise, all 17 whites, reds, and sweeties poured were impressive….



The Most Exciting New Wines and Spirits from VinExpo 2015


June 23, 2015 — Fireworks spread like giant golden fans across the night sky above Château Smith Haut Lafitte at the party kickoff for last week’s VinExpo 2015, the world’s largest wine and spirits trade fair.

The biannual gathering is a big deal. French President François Hollande gave a speech the next day at one of the vast exhibition spaces on a man-made lake just north of the city. VinExpo is the drink industry’s biannual five-day schmoozefest, a place to do deals, trade gossip, party hard, and, of course, launch new products.

I spent my days hiking from one end of the half-mile-long hall to the other, hunting the highlights among the 2,350 exhibitors from 42 countries. One fast fact: It takes 50 people to keep the 120,000 glasses clean for sniffing and swirling by 48,000 buyers, who flew in from 151 countries. After France, China topped the list for number of visitors.

 Trendy rosés were ubiquitous, but “taste the unexpected” was this year’s theme, and I found plenty of that, from Latvian bitters to Riedel glasses that show off espresso’s different flavors, to wines from war-torn Syria.Here are my picks for some of the most exciting launches….



Chianti Classico Makes a Grab for the Super-Premium Market



June 9, 2015 — The redesigned black rooster logo on Chianti Classico wines is bigger than ever and strutting its stuff.  No longer content to peddle delicious, affordable reds, winemakers in this well-known zone in the heart of Tuscany are aiming for the higher-spending luxury market with a new designation: Gran Selezione.

But is this controversial new category top-tier or mostly hype? When it comes to price hikes, I’m always a skeptic. And as so often happens with Italian wine, controversy and confusion reign.

If you’ve been using the name Chianti as a generic catch-all, stop now.

Chianti Classico is a specific geographic sub-region (roughly between Florence and Siena) that’s long been identified as a top spot for sangiovese grapes….


These Restaurants have the Best Wine Lists in the World


June 2, 2015 — I’ve long thought that New York tops just about everywhere if you want to drink the widest selection of great wines.

It turns out that critics tend to agree. According to the 2015 World of Fine Wine’s Best Wine List Awards, which are being released on Tuesday, the Big Apple is the best city in the world for wining while dining.

Forty New York restaurants made it into the top, three-star award category, while the tally for runner-up London was 24.

Manhattan’s temple of cuisine Eleven Madison Park won the global sweepstakes for the overall best list, beating out Vienna’s Palais Coburg, which topped the best European list and was last year’s top award winner….


A Wine Critic Defends Sauternes, Bordeaux’s Sweet, Unloved Stepchild


May 6, 2015 — Pity poor Sauternes. The Bordeaux region’s unfashionable sweet white wines are always trying something new and controversial to appear cool and with-it to attract drinkers.

The latest attempt is the just-launched SO Sauternes(€18), a new, lighter style of the luscious white intended for mixing with Perrier over ice as an aperitif cocktail. If it’s a success at bars in France, it will come to the U.S. and U.K.

What a waste: The combo is light and vaguely refreshing, but the golden-hued, opulent wines from Sauternes and neighboring Barsac are better than ever, even sublime. And they’re one of the wine world’s great bargains. Deeply fruity and sweetly tart when young, they age brilliantly. Older vintages taste like liquid crème brulee.

So why are they neglected…?



Boom Time in the Vineyards


March 30, 2015 — After golf ball–sized hailstones battered vines at Château d’Issan in Bordeaux for two years in a row, managing director Emmanuel Cruse was in the market for something—anything—that might protect his grapes. That’s when he decided to try a device that promises to prevent hailstones from forming, Bloomberg Markets reports in its April 2015 issue. Different types of hail cannons, as they’re known, have been around for more than a century in France, even though it’s far from clear they do what they’re supposed to do.

“We had to do something,” Cruse recalls. “Storms destroyed 70 percent of our grapes in 2008 and 2009. Each of those years, we produced less than 6,000 cases of wine,” compared with the typical 19,000 cases. The total financial loss to this third-growth estate in the Margaux appel­lation was almost €3 million ($3.4 million), Cruse says. Insurance paid out just one-fifth of that.

So Cruse invested €150,000 in two cannons that are now permanently installed in his vineyards….



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.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.