cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites, United States: California
Joel Peterson’s Ravenswood wines have a track record of aging brilliantly, so I was intrigued to check in on this 30+ year-old Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc-based blend.
Piedmont, Italy, Italy: Piedmont, featured
Barolo lovers have become spoiled over the last fifteen years or so. While 2015 is clearly a mixed vintage, in any other previous era there is little doubt it would have been considered outstanding. Readers will find a number of dazzling 2015s, even if quality is uneven across the board. More importantly, though, the number of young growers and re-born older estates making compelling wines is greater than at any time since I first visited Piedmont in 1997. Quite simply, Barolo, and Piedmont more broadly, is going through a remarkable boom. I came away from my tastings more energized than ever.
napa, United States: California, featured
I was thrilled to serve on the Honorary Committee for the inaugural edition of Inspire Napa Valley, along with Brad Grimes, Ray Isle, Samantha Rudd, David & Monica Stevens and Fran Tarkenton. The brainchild of Kerrin Laz, Inspire Napa Valley is a weekend of fabulous tastings, seminars and dinners held to benefit Alzheimers’ research. In its first edition, Inspire Napa Valley raised over $1 million.
United States: California
Early one morning Philip Norfleet, Director of the Napa Valley Reserve, and I were discussing a series of events and tastings for 2018 and 2019. A crazy idea flashed across my mind. I asked Norfleet if I could blend a barrel of wine at the Reserve to auction off for charity. “Let me ask around,” he said. “I will get back to you soon.” A few hours later I had my response…
Cellar Favorite: 2005 Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Nuits Saint-Georges Clos de la Maréchale 1er Cru
cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites, France: Burgundy
There aren’t too many values left in Burgundy. Frédéric Mugnier’s Nuits Saint-Georges Clos de la Maréchale 1er Cru is one of them. Let’s be clear, Clos de la Maréchale is not an inexpensive wine by any means, but it does offer tremendous character and plenty of Mugnier finesse, especially in the best vintages.
Italy, Vinous Table
Founded in 1970, San Domenico was one of the first restaurants in Italy to introduce the concepts of refined service and cuisine that remain cornerstones of the dining experience today. Much of the food culture in Emilia-Romagna centers around trattoria-style food. Not that there is anything wrong with that, as well-executed versions of the classics are immensely satisfying. But at San Domenico, you will eat la grande cucina.
cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites, France: Bordeaux
Larcis Ducasse remains one of the truly great, reasonably priced wines of Bordeaux. I was once again reminded of that when I tasted the 2005 recently. Almost shockingly young, tannic and tightly wound for a wine of its age, the 2005 is positively stellar.
France: Bordeaux, featured
The bottled 2016s capture every bit of the potential I sensed when I started tasting the wines from barrel, prior to en primeur, in January 2017. I found many 2016s to be even better from bottle than they were during the spring futures campaign. The best 2016s are powerful, richly layered, vibrant and stunningly beautiful, not to mention incredibly delicious and alluring. For so many wines and estates, 2016 is an epic vintage.
United States: California, featured
As is our custom, the Sonoma Preview highlights wines that are just entering the market now, in January, typically a very busy time for new releases. Readers will find much to like this year, including a number of stunning 2017s that show the vintage was much better and far more consistent for Burgundian varieties in Sonoma than it was for Bordeaux varieties in Napa Valley.
Two thousand eighteen was a fabulous year full of highlights. More than anything else, though, as I type this, I realize how extraordinarily fortunate I am to do what I love more than anything each and every day for work. I hope readers will enjoy this look back at 2018. If you don’t, it is all Neal Martin’s fault – he pushed me to write about my favorite experiences of the year.