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Wisdom of the Winemakers

When we launched the Winemaker Challenge more than seven years ago, there was a fear expressed by some of the potential contestants that winemakers would be too critical, or at least more critical than other wine professionals, such as sommeliers or wine journalists.

Then there was the question about so-called "cellar" palates that evolve as ...Read more

Wineries of the Year

There is any number of ways to take the measure of a winery's performance.

Few, however, have the ability to track performance over time and against a multitude of competitors. For the 2015 Wine Talk wineries of the year, I decided to scrutinize which were up to the Challenges. Those would be the Winemaker Challenge, Critics Challenge and ...Read more

Winemaker of the Year: Jeff Gaffner

Chances are pretty good that if you enjoy limited-production, hand-crafted California wine you've heard the name Jeff Gaffner a time or two.

Although he runs his own small winery, the cultish Saxon Brown in Sonoma County, Gaffner is a familiar face to winery owners throughout Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties, where he has carved out a ...Read more

Wine of the Year: Spottswoode Cabernet

When Jack and Mary Novak moved their five children from San Diego to the quiet wine country village of St. Helena in 1972, the goal was a lifestyle change.

Jack sold his medical practice and the family purchased a 30-acre wine estate in the heart of the Napa Valley, which at that time was little more than a sleepy farming community north of ...Read more

Wine Gifts: A Trio of Superb Bubblies

It is a good time to be enthusiastic about sparkling wine. Outside of the Champagne region, which dominates the category, quality in sparkling wine has never been greater or more consistent.

My three sparkling wine picks for gifting this holiday season reflect this.

There is an outstanding Champagne, of course. The 2006 Moet Grand Vintage ...Read more

Wine Gifts: A Trio of Glorious Whites

Following up on last week's Wine Talk theme of gifting wines of exceptional character to the wine enthusiast in your life, I give you three white wines that impressed me over the past year.

The Dry Creek Vineyard sauvignon blanc got my attention because it struck me as one of the finest domestic sauvignons I've yet experienced that didn't ...Read more

Wine Gifts: A Trio of Glorious Reds

Chances are the wine enthusiast in your life has enough gadgets, stemware and reading material to fill a small pantry. What that person really needs (and probably secretly wants) is a bottle of mind-bending wine that isn't all that easy to get his or her hands on: a real gem, something that even a collector would cherish and proudly display.

...Read more

Jordan True to His Roots

You could say John Jordan was born into the wine business, although he spent most of his adult life avoiding it.

His parents, Tom and Sally Jordan, were dedicated Francophiles. They signed the deed on their Alexander Valley wine estate in May 1972, the same day John was born, so the story goes. John and his sister Jenny grew up amid the vines...Read more

A Trio of Luxury Pinots

Though tasty budget wines for Thanksgiving occupy a huge niche in the wine market, there is strong demand for luxury wines as well. Thanksgiving is, after all, a special occasion, so if not then, when exactly would be the right time to uncork the best wines in the cellar?

If you're thinking about putting on the Ritz this Thanksgiving, a high-...Read more

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