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California Vineyard Series: Monte Rosso

United States: California, featured

Antonio Galloni, Dec 2020

Few vineyards in California are as evocative as Monte Rosso. Known for producing wines of extraordinary character and longevity, Monte Rosso (‘red mountain’) is every bit as magical as its name suggests.

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La Lumière Noire: 2019 Burgundy - Côte de Beaune

featured, France: Burgundy

Neal Martin, Dec 2020

As Burgundy contends with warmer, drier growing seasons, the 2019 vintage demonstrates how vine and winemaker are adapting and often thriving in the so-called “new normal”. First, we look at the Côte de Beaune.

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Italy’s Sparkling Advantage: Prosecco and Franciacorta

Italy, featured

Eric Guido, Dec 2020

The holidays are upon us. It’s the season where more bubbly is purchased and consumed than at any other time of the year. Whether it’s for gifting, celebrating or the perfect pairing at your holiday meal, a bottle of bubbly always fits the bill. This report looks at Prosecco and Franciacorta, two of Italy’s greatest treasures.

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Paso Robles 2018 & 2017: Grace and Power

United States: California, featured

Josh Raynolds, Dec 2020

Following the hot 2017 vintage, growers and winemakers in Paso Robles were relieved to have a cooler vintage in 2018. The long growing season and moderate conditions led to an unhurried harvest and a larger-than-normal crop of healthy fruit. The results are outstanding.

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California Vineyard Series: Pagani Ranch

United States: California, featured, California Vineyard Series

Antonio Galloni, Dec 2020

Since 2015 we have been working on a large-scale project to map the vineyards of California. To date, we have published seven regional Napa Valley maps and have several more in the works, including a five-map set of Sonoma Valley and map of the Santa Lucia Highlands, both of which are nearly finished. Although travel restrictions related to COVID-19 have delayed final, on-the-ground checks that are such an essential part of the quality control process, we are eager to share our work and show you a little bit of what we have been up to through this series of excerpts that kicks off with a look at Pagani Ranch.

Lagrange 2009 and 2010 bottles

Lagrange 1959-2015

France: Bordeaux, Verticals & Retrospectives, featured

Neal Martin, Dec 2020

Suntory’s acquisition of Château Lagrange in 1983 saw an under-performer blossom into one of the most consistent and widely-appreciated wines of Saint-Julien. This article details its history, terroir and winemaking, plus a complete vertical from 1983 to 2015.

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Washington: Neither Smoke Nor Rain Nor Heat Nor Frost of Night…

featured, United States: Washington

Stephen Tanzer, Dec 2020

Since enduring record heat in 2015, Washington’s growers and winemakers have enjoyed an unprecedented string of very good to exceptional vintages. Even 2020, so tricky in Oregon and parts of California owing to massive wildfires up and down the West Coast, appears to have been very successful in Washington. This year’s report features mostly red wines from 2018 and 2017 and whites from 2019 and 2018. All three of these growing seasons were capable of yielding outstanding wines.

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Collectable Argentina: Precision and Refinement in the Cellar

featured, Argentina

Joaquín Hidalgo, Dec 2020

All serious drinkers collect wine. Some to commemorate significant moments, others, especially those with access to a cellar, because the vintages are of such quality that their value will accrue over time. Whatever the reason, it’s a significant and prestigious feather in the cap for a producer to make it onto a collector’s rack. No one would dare to question the merit of output from hallowed ground such as Pomerol or Barolo, and this is reflected in the wines' desirability and price tags. But what about other regions in the world? It’s often the case that collectors are skeptical about wines whose credentials seem to lack historical precedent. Generally, Argentina falls into this category although in many ways it is also a unique case unto itself.

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Domaine A. Clape Cornas: 2012–1987

Verticals & Retrospectives, featured, France: Rhône & Beaujolais

Josh Raynolds, Dec 2020

One of the world’s iconic estates, Domaine Auguste Clape has long set the standard for the Cornas appellation and has featured on any Rhône aficionado’s short list of the region’s very best properties. With a mere eight hectares of vines spread across Cornas, Saint-Péray and Côtes-du-Rhône, the Clapes produce two different examples of Cornas, a Saint-Péray, a red Côtes-du-Rhône and a red Vin de France. All of the reds are made with whole clusters and fermented in concrete vats before being moved into ancient, traditional oval foudres for aging. Because of small production (roughly 2,500 cases per vintage, total) and longtime worldwide demand, especially for the flagship Cornas, the wines are not always easy to find. Unfortunately, the world has caught on, and prices have risen sharply as well. These are structured, long-lived wines that are definitely built for the patient consumer. As this retrospective shows, patience is consistently rewarded, even in tough vintages.

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2016 Brunello di Montalcino: Radiance Personified

Italy: Tuscany, featured

Eric Guido, Nov 2020

In this year of incredible stress, heartache and forced changes to the way that we all have to live, there is certainly a comfort in looking at past vintages that are only now being released. Never before have these wines been more like a time capsule. There is no other vintage or category of wine that I’ve been looking forward to more than the 2016 Brunello di Montalcinos. The big question is: Do the 2016s live up to our expectations?