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The Grilling Season

The Memorial Day weekend officially kicks off the grilling season in most parts of the country. For some, that means stocking the pantry with wines appropriate for the occasion.

What's appropriate ultimately comes down to personal taste, but a few of the many options are universal. First, and perhaps foremost, find out what the grillmeister ...Read more

Age Matters at Cognac Frapin

COGNAC, France -- Here in this mysterious land known officially as Charente or Charente-Maritime, roughly an hour's drive north of Bordeaux, the rolling hills are covered with hundreds of thousands of acres of vines that produce wine no one will ever drink.

The primary grapes planted in the region -- ugni blanc, folle blanche and colombard --...Read more

The Prosecco Push

Champagne producers frequently lament that the bulk of sales to U.S. consumers comes around the holidays, between November and the end of December. Champagne should be consumed year-round, I am told. I agree completely -- for those who can afford it.

The Prosecco gang has no such problem. The soft, fruity sparkling wine from northeast Italy ...Read more

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


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