Stephen Tanzer's

Winophilia

Friends of mine in the wine industry often say that wines that go for $15 a bottle today are often better than wines that cost twice as much in the late ’80s and early 90s. I can see their reasoning: today, buyers have an almost infinite number of choices of wines at this price level that are clean and deeply flavored, with intense fruit, well-managed tannins and little sign of rusticity. That was not the case at the end of the 20th century. And I can’t think of a category in this price range that provides as many options as Spanish garnacha, a fact that was reconfirmed, yet again, during the course of my annual tastings of that country’s wines for my coverage in the current issue of the International Wine Cellar. READ MORE »

November 12th, 2014 | no comments

Now that we are solidly into oyster season, what wines (or other liquids) are you encouraging your guests to drink with raw oysters? And what wines do you suggest pairing with cooked oysters or hot dishes that feature them? As always, feel free to name some of your more radical choices, but make sure to explain why you think they work.

[Editor's note:  Pascaline Lepeltier's primer on wines with oysters merited publication on its own; more responses will follow next week.]

Pascaline Lepeltier, Wine Director, Rouge Tomate (New York City). Oysters are one of my favorite little treats, maybe because I grew up with them by the French Atlantic Coast. And of course, one of my favorite pairings remains with Muscadets, which could seem an obvious one if you don’t pay a little more attention. Because Muscadets are way more diverse than one might think, especially nowadays, and you can really have a great moment enjoying different varieties of oysters with different Muscadets. READ MORE »

November 7th, 2014 | no comments

My first experience tasting a large group of wines from New Zealand was back in 1996, when that country’s wine industry was a very different, less evolved animal than it is today. At a big walk-around event in New York City, with winemakers and winery owners present, red wines from Bordeaux varieties planted on the North Island featured prominently (in quantity, not in quality). And if memory serves, the chardonnays at that tasting were at least as good as the sauvignon blancs.

How times have changed. Over the past two decades, Marlborough sauvignon blanc has become a hugely successful wine brand in the American market and around the world, and has totally stolen the spotlight from chardonnay. More recently, New Zealand has become the new red hope for pinot lovers, and the most exciting region for these wines, in my opinion, is Central Otago, which was barely on the world wine map at the turn of the new century. READ MORE »

November 3rd, 2014 | no comments

Why should you care? Washington’s 2011 growing seasons was freakishly cool by the standards of this hot, dry, high-desert viticultural region, although it produced some wonderfully refined wines in a more European vein. Two thousand twelve brought a return to warmth without extreme heat. In fact, it was statistically an almost perfectly average year that many insiders describe as an ideal growing season. Although the first serious red wines are only now being released, it’s already clear that there will be more outstanding bottles from 2012 than from any past vintage in Washington.

What does it taste like? Star winemaker Chris Peterson, who was responsible for a string of outstanding vintages at DeLille Cellars in the 2000s, launched his own exciting Avennia brand in 2010 and hasn’t missed yet. His least expensive red wine, the 2012 Gravura Red Wine Columbia Valley, leads off with fresh aromas of black raspberry and cocoa powder complemented by sexy earth tones. It’s sweet, broad and fine-grained, showing lovely energy and lift to its flavors of dark berries and dark chocolate. This very classy Bordeaux blend spreads out nicely to dust the palate with fruit and finishes very long, with well-integrated ripe tannins. It’s a terrific value, as is the superb 2011, should you happen to find a bottle on a retailer’s shelf. My score: 92 points.

How much does it cost? $35

October 24th, 2014 | no comments