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Temecula's Akash Winery Not the Usual Suspect

The results of a wine competition are often predictable. Round up the usual suspects and you will likely see many of the same wines and wineries bagging gold medals year after year, competition after competition.

There was a bit of that at the 13th annual Sommelier Challenge, staged Sept. 12-13 in San Diego. The wine of the year award went to...Read more

Somms Spot Value Wines

The conventional wisdom holds that most wine experts, including professional sommeliers, are somewhat snobbish about what they drink. While it may be true that wines that retail for $100 a bottle cause something of an adrenaline rush even before they're tasted, most wine enthusiasts enjoy uncorking a cheap bottle of wine only to discover it is...Read more

Remembering the 2020 Vintage

Who could forget the vintage of 2020? Lightning strikes, out-of-control wildfires, an epic heat wave!

Yep, that describes the wine-grape harvest of 2020, all right, except that it doesn't. While it does describe much of the action in Napa and Sonoma, it's only one piece, a relatively small piece, of the puzzle.

We sometimes forget that wine ...Read more

Fall Classics

Whether planning a Labor Day cookout to say goodbye to summer or gearing up for a tailgate party, fall is a beautiful time of year for a barbecue.

Over the years, I've stumbled across several fall classics that have become favorites because they steer me toward wines I've pretty much ignored during the warmer summer months.

I will share ...Read more

Paradise Lost

When wildfires ravaged California wine country in 2017, four wine industry public relations pros swung into action with a GoFundMe campaign that raised nearly $100,000, plus matching funds from a handful of wineries. The four were San Francisco Bay Area-based Kimberly Charles, Tia Butts, Katie Calhoun and Rebecca Hopkins.

As flames engulf ...Read more

The Wine Tariff Two-Step

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative appears to be doing a dance around the issue of tariffs imposed on some European wines in October 2019. A 25% tariff was levied on some table wines from France, Germany, Spain and the U.K. It has been described as retaliation for illegal subsidies to Airbus about a decade ago.

Since then, the trade ...Read more

Creating a Wine Cellar

The COVID-19 Lockdown Blues have inspired many a hobbyist in recent months. I've noticed scores of friends have taken up baking to cope. The run on all-purpose flour in my neighborhood market was real.

Not everyone's a baker, however. It's time-consuming, and the measurements have to be precise.

If baking's not your thing, perhaps you should...Read more

Woe Is Champagne!

News reports from the Champagne region of France paint a grim picture for this year's harvest. For a change, the growing level of panic has nothing to do with the weather.

The Champagne industry has been slammed by the COVID-19 pandemic. While consumption of table wine has skyrocketed, Champagne sales have plummeted. The widespread lockdowns ...Read more

Saving the Hospitality Industry

As the Senate works on a new COVID-19 relief bill, WineAmerica, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that lobbies on behalf of the wine and spirits industry, is encouraging specific legislation that would provide needed economic relief for your favorite wineries, craft spirits producers and even restaurants as the pandemic drags on and virus-...Read more

No Bad Wine

I'm inspired this week by a beautiful red Burgundy called Rue de Perle. It is an elegant wine from one of the world's most prestigious (and expensive) appellations, and it's only $13 (see review below).

In Burgundy's system of classifications, this is a Bourgogne, the lowest level, and hence, the cheapest. Grand Cru, Premier Cru and Villages ...Read more

Time to Chill

Dining outside, once merely a nice summertime option, is now a requirement in many communities around the nation. The ambiance of al fresco dining notwithstanding, it presents a challenge for those of us who enjoy a glass of wine with lunch or dinner on a warm summer day.

As temperatures soar, maintaining the proper chill on a glass of white ...Read more

The Platinum Parade

Over the 30 years I've been writing this column, I've easily sampled a couple hundred thousand wines -- at least. At some point, you might think, the thrill of discovery would have worn off.

In reality, tasting great new wines never gets old. Neither does sharing those experiences, such as the two days of judging at the recent 17th annual ...Read more

A Chardonnay Renaissance?

Once upon a time, chardonnay was a minor grape variety in the United States, even in the vineyards of California. Then, along came the likes of Richard Arrowood, Gary Farrell, Steve Kistler and Chuck Ortman, and chardonnay took off. Comparisons to white Burgundy were inevitable.

Today, it is the most widely planted white-wine grape in ...Read more



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