Stephen Tanzer's

Winophilia

There are more acres of land under vine in Spain than in any other country in the world but in terms of production Spain ranks number three, behind France and Italy.  There’s a good reason for that: Spain’s vines are, on average, older than those of the other two countries, and older vines are far less likely to produce high crop levels. As all studious wine geeks know, old vines equal—or should equal—greater concentration and intensity of flavor.  What should be of particular interest to consumers is the fact that most of Spain’s vineyards are planted to noble varieties, notably garnacha (grenache), tempranillo and monastrell (mourvedre), which means that even at the entry level one can expect to find wines of real character and depth. That makes Spain the world’s most consistently reliable source for characterful red wines at ridiculously low prices, and consumers seem to agree as sales of Spanish reds have been soaring for over a decade now, with no sign of slowing down. READ MORE »

September 27th, 2014 | no comments

Pinot noir aficionados know a couple things about their favorite grape beyond any doubt: First, production of truly characterful pinots is rarely substantial, so keeping a supply of tasty examples on hand inevitably requires an open mind and a willingness to try something new. And second, pinot personality is rarely cheap. All the more reason to turn to current releases from New Zealand, where the number of high-quality producers grows every year, and sharp-eyed consumers can still find very good relative values. READ MORE »

September 24th, 2014 | no comments

Readers of the International Wine Cellar and attentive wine lovers in general can’t help but notice that the U.S. market now has access to more elegant—dare I say Old World-styled—red wines than ever before. What is perhaps less obvious is that more graceful, restrained white wines are also reaching our shores, even those made from chardonnay.

Yes, chardonnay. Australia’s excellent rieslings, especially from the Clare Valley, and the country’s dry, mineral-driven semillons from the Hunter Valley are already pretty well-known here, but American importers have also been bringing in racy, finely etched chardonnays for quite a few years now, and their availability is growing. I tasted incisive, balanced chardonnays from Australia’s cooler growing zones than ever before this year, at all price points, and I’ll bet that many of them could get lost in blind tastings of top-notch French examples of the variety. They’re a far cry from the stereotype of butterscotchy, oaky, high-alcohol and generally sloppy Australian chardonnays that many recall from the 1990s and 2000s (there are still plenty of those around, if you’re wondering) and they deserve your attention, especially given the going rate for serious white Burgundy these days. All of these wines rated 90 points or higher in my recent annual coverage of Australian wine in the IWC. READ MORE »

September 20th, 2014 | no comments

The largest issue in the 29+-year history of the International Wine Cellar went live last night, featuring five in-depth articles and more than 2,700 tasting notes. If you’ve never seen the IWC, you’ll be able to read expert wine criticism from the full line-up of our regular writers in the current issue.

For as little as $19.95 for a two-month subscription, you can get immediate and unlimited access to the current issue, as well as to the easily searchable and sortable IWC data base of well over 100,000 tasting notes and to the unusually civilized IWC user forum.

Here’s what you will find in Issue 176: READ MORE »

September 18th, 2014 | no comments