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Lessons From the 2018 Winemaker Challenge

While pricey Napa Valley wines dominated the top awards at the 2018 Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition in San Diego at the end of January, other trends emerged, as they always do.

The Winemaker Challenge involves blind tastings, as all credible wine competitions do. Judges evaluate each wine without such vital information as ...Read more

5 Great Pairings for Valentine's Day Bubbly

We can all agree that Champagne adds a bit of sparkle to Valentine's Day. A box of chocolates will get high marks, too. So far so good, right? Until you take a bite of chocolate with a sip of Champagne. That's when the Valentine's mood is likely to sour.

Champagne and chocolate -- a traditional combination on Valentine's Day -- simply do not ...Read more

Napa Dominates Winemaker Challenge

Three powerhouse Napa Valley wineries dominated the top awards over the weekend at the ninth annual Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition in San Diego. The Winemaker Challenge is one of only two U.S. wine competitions judged exclusively by professional winemakers.

V. Sattui was named winery of the year for the second consecutive ...Read more

Rethinking Zinfandel

Adam Sbragia was raised in a winemaking family in Healdsburg, in the heart of Sonoma County. His grandfather made wine. His father, Ed Sbragia, is the only winemaker to have twice produced a wine that earned the coveted Wine of the Year award from Wine Spectator. And for the past decade or so, Adam has been making wine at Sbragia Family ...Read more

The Queen of California Pinot Noir

Frequent readers of this column no doubt know I often refer to Merry Edwards as the queen of California pinot noir.

That wasn't always the case, for when Edwards came out of U.C. Davis in the 1970s, she gained her initial fame making stunning cabernet sauvignon at Mount Eden Vineyards in California's Santa Cruz Mountains. She eventually moved...Read more

The Christmas Table

The gathering around the Christmas table is a moment I cherish each year. It is an opportunity for me to rummage through the cellar for special bottles of wine I've been saving for the right occasion. Unlike many other collectors, I don't keep a running inventory of what's in the cellar. I often come across gems from long ago that I'd ...Read more

Name That Chateau

All I ever wanted for Christmas was my own chateau. That's not in the cards this year, so I just opted for the next best thing. I went to the Chateau Souverain website and designed a custom Chateau Whitley label to place on my bottle of Chateau Souverain Chardonnay.

I chose the chardonnay ($13.99 a bottle) because it's my idea of a good white...Read more

10 Value Wines for the Holidays

'Tis the season to party hardy. If you're a wine enthusiast with discriminating taste and an unlimited budget, no problem. Luxury wines abound. For those with less elastic wallets, the good news is that delicious, high-quality wines at value prices are in abundance, too.

This week's tasting notes are dedicated to the proposition that you don'...Read more

The Champagne Challengers

In the hierarchy of sparkling wine, Champagne clearly occupies the top rung by reputation and merits. That said, Champagne producers are hardly lonely up there.

In the quest to make bubbly that compares favorably to Champagne, producers in Italy -- the Franciacorta and Trentino regions, to be precise -- and California have made tremendous ...Read more

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