France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured
Châteauneuf-du-Pape has plenty to offer in 2019, 2018 and 2017, although not in the quantities of the preceding two years. All three vintages produced several wines that are extremely user-friendly, offering abundant, expressive fruit and adequate but not forbidding structure, which is what the market is demanding more and more of these days.
France: Rhône & Beaujolais, cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites
It isn’t too often that a Cellar Favorite is also a currently available library release. That’s the case with the gorgeous 2006 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a wine that I marginally underrated when I tasted it from barrel in November 2008 and then in bottle a year after that.
France: Rhône & Beaujolais, featured
Two-thousand nineteen provides a somewhat welcome return to a mostly classic style of Beaujolais following the often weighty, ripe, and dark-fruited wines of 2018 and 2017. Compared to 2016, 2014 and 2011, most of the 2019s are definitely on the richer side, but I ran across few examples that approached the weight, much less the warmth, of their 2018 and 2017 siblings.
This year’s Penfolds collection consists of all of their icon bottlings, including a few surprises. In 2017, the flagship Grange was made entirely from Shiraz, only the seventh time this has happened since the first Grange was produced in 1951.
Western Australia is a virtual island unto itself within the country’s wine world. Its most famous viticultural region, Margaret River, is located almost 3,000 kilometers from the heart of the famed Barossa Valley, with precious little of anything except space in between. It’s a long way to the west, and the style of wines couldn’t be any more different.
Stretching from Galicia in the far northwest and along the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay to the Basque Country, Atlantic Spain is the country’s coolest winegrowing region. Mostly indigenous varieties that are grown virtually nowhere else in Spain are the rule. The almost universally ocean-influenced climate and the intrinsic character of those local grapes define vibrant wines that are increasingly capturing the attention of wine lovers across the globe.
Change comes slowly in Rioja. Many of the winemaking practices that were in place when the region was established in the third quarter of the 19th century are widely used today. Grapes are pressed traditionally and most of the best wines are aged, sometimes for many years, in oak barrels of various sizes, with a preference towards American oak. Many winemakers see oxidation during aging as an asset, not a flaw, that when done correctly, brings the unique perfume, complex flavors and supple texture that make serious Rioja among the world’s greatest wines.
In recent vintages, the Mediterranean wine-producing regions in Spain have produced a large number of outstanding wines. The range of wines influenced by the sea is staggering, from bone-dry bubblies to structured, world-class reds and some of the most decadent sweet wines in the world.
While serious wine fanatics are well acquainted with Ribera del Duero, Toro and Rueda, much of the world consumes millions of gallons of wine a year made in the less lofty nearby regions, especially La Mancha and the far-reaching Castilla y León, both of which often deliver excellent value. Then there are unsung DOs like Campo de Borja, where readers will find some of the biggest bang-for-the-buck Grenache in the world.
France: Bordeaux, cellar favorite, Cellar Favorites
I have been fortunate to taste the legendary Château d’Yquem a number of times since the early 1980s but hadn’t had the opportunity to actually drink it in many years. That was until a generous friend brought a surprise bottle along to an indulgent Château Petrus vertical this fall, to be shared among a small group of wine lovers at the outstanding Peppercorn’s Grill in Hartford, Connecticut.