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Oceano Surprises at San Diego Judging

The element of surprise is easily the most scintillating aspect of a "blind" wine tasting. When all bias in favor of region, producer and price is removed, anything can happen and often does.

Such was the case at the 37th San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge from April 6-7. One of the youngest wineries (first vintage 2016) to ...Read more

Bordeaux 2018: 20 Fab Reds

BORDEAUX, France -- The splendid 2018 vintage of red Bordeaux marks the fourth consecutive very good to outstanding harvest in arguably the world's most closely watched wine region. Given its marginal climate, which is often too cold to fully ripen its red grape varieties, the current streak of above-average vintages is unprecedented in recent...Read more

Bordeaux 2018: First Impressions

BORDEAUX, France -- In an annual rite of spring, thousands of wine merchants and dozens, if not hundreds, of wine journalists descend upon this city to take stock of the latest Bordeaux vintage. It matters not that these wines will not be released into the market for almost two years. Interest is driven by the sale of Bordeaux "futures" now.

...Read more

The Ledson Castle

KENWOOD, Calif. -- In 1989, when Steve Ledson began construction of his dream house along Highway 12 in the Sonoma Valley, he had trouble convincing neighbors and passers-by that the huge edifice, designed as a European castle and surrounded by vineyards, wasn't just another new winey in the neighborhood.

Understandable, considering the ...Read more

Winery to Watch: Rowen

A few years back, the now-retired Rick Sayre described a novel concept for Rodney Strong Vineyards, where he presided as winemaker for more than three decades. Sayre called it a "winery within a winery."

The winery within the winery at Rodney Strong is called Rowen. The Rowen brand utilizes a unique new source of grapes, the Cooley Ranch in ...Read more

Bordeaux 2016: My Faves

While Bordeaux 2016 was a superb vintage overall, certain pockets, particularly the Left Bank communes of Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Estephe and Saint-Julien, stood out from the crowd. The obvious exception to that trend was the stunning Smith Haut Lafitte from Pessac-Leognan, situated south of the city of Bordeaux.

Two years ago, I tasted ...Read more

The Excellent 2016 Vintage of Bordeaux

In recent weeks, the excellent 2016 vintage of Bordeaux has been rolled out in a number of U.S. cities.

I first tasted these wines in March and April of 2017, when barrel samples were presented to the wine media and wine trade by the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux at en primeurs tastings in and around the city of Bordeaux, France. At the ...Read more

Winery to Watch: TerraPura

In 2016, Chile's Matetic Wine Group purchased an obscure but modern winery in the Colchagua Valley, one of the country's most renowned wine regions. Matetic, true believers in organic and biodynamic farming, did two things to move the needle for the TerraPura winery: hired a new winemaker, Felipe Vial, and enlisted the services of Napa Valley ...Read more

Valentine's Day Advice: Bubbly!

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, getting it "right" is top of mind for many. A box of chocolates would be nice, though flowers might be better. As the big day draws near, and you are overtaken by a sense of doom, I have a bit of advice. Don't panic. There is one gift that is sure to win the day: a bottle of nice bubbly!

There is ...Read more

The Gallo Juggernaut

Wine enthusiasts of a certain age fondly remember Gallo Hearty Burgundy, the king of the jug wines that introduced several generations to California wine long before most consumers had heard the words "Napa Valley."

Brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo established their winery in Modesto, California, in 1933. By the mid-1960s, Gallo had become by ...Read more


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