The bubble economy that burst in 2008 was inflated in more ways than housing prices. It had also seemed to push New World wines to ever increasing levels of ripeness and power. There’s a generation of California winemakers coming of age in the wake of those boom years looking to fashion a more drinkable style of wine. Some of them have joined forces in the Pursuit of Balance, a group that recently held tastings in San Francisco and New York.
There are also established producers in California who ignored fashion, quietly pursuing a consistent style of drinkable, ageworthy wine for thirty or sixty years, as witnessed by two tastings that happened to fall on the same day in May.
Peter McCrea and his daughter, Sarah, showed a range of chardonnays and rieslings back to 1973, to . . . Continue reading →
On April 14, the Pebble Beach Food and Wine festival hosted a retrospective tasting of the 1982 Bordeaux vintage. All five first growths were poured, plus Pichon-Lalande, Cos d’Estournel and La Mission Haut-Brion. (Stepping into the hotel conference room where the tasting was being held, I felt that I suddenly understood the British attraction to aged claret in a new light, greeted by a pervasive perfume somewhere between an Anglican church and a humidor: all incense and polished wood and pipe tobacco.)
New York Times columnist Eric Asimov recently wrote about a similar tasting hosted by collector Mark Taylor in Atlanta and provided a summary of the controversial 1982 vintage and its significance—so I won’t repeat all of that here. The CliffsNotes version: a warm year with high yields, ripe wines championed by Robert . . . Continue reading →
Giuseppe Comollo’s moustache has its disadvantages. “I say it is my fog-collector,” he jokes, using his sleeve to wipe off the collecting droplets of mist. The heavy fog rushing in from the Pacific nearly blots out his cherry-red Alfa Romeo, illegally parked twenty yards away on the shoulder of Highway 1.
It’s early November. To the southeast, we can hear the waves of the Pacific crashing into the pylons of the Golden Gate Bridge. Four years ago, Comollo came here to plant what must surely be California’s coolest vineyard: a half-acre of nebbiolo on a steep, windswept patch of Franciscan mélange that, on sunnier days, yields a clear view of downtown San Francisco.
“Nebbiolo is a delicate grape,” he says. “Piemonte—people think I’m crazy when I say . . . Continue reading →
Lioco’s Matt Licklider speaks with attendees at this year’s In Pursuit of Balance tasting in San Francisco
For last year’s In Pursuit of Balance tasting at RN74, Rajat Parr (Michael Mina) and Jasmine Hirsch (Hirsch Vineyard) brought together a who’s who of California’s artisan pinot noir producers to raise some questions about what constitutes balance in domestic pinot noir. There was no single principle uniting all the represented wineries, but many of the producers shared an approach that favored lower alcohol and/or traditional Burgundian winemaking methods and/or particularly cool vineyard sites and/or minimal use of new oak.
This year’s tasting, held at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco, included chardonnay as well, and while I expected to spend most of my time focusing on pinot, ultimately the chardonnays stole the show. Many of these . . . Continue reading →
The producers of Brunello opened this year’s presentation of new releases in Montalcino with a Trifecta—or, to use a more appropriate soccer metaphor, they did the hat trick. For the first time, all three vintages on show—this year, 2010 Rosso di Montalcino, 2007 Brunello, and 2006 Brunello Riserva—had been awarded Five Stars. Though the Consorzio of Brunello, which rates the vintages, has in the past been (rightly) accused of boosterism, this year’s rankings were definitely not grade inflation: all three vintages were the real thing, though in three quite different ways.
The Consorzio describes the 2007 Brunello as “both elegant and structured, with good polyphenolic components and balanced acidity”—a judgment most of the journalists present and all of the winemakers I spoke to concurred in. To my palate, its freshness and accessibility were striking: this . . . Continue reading →