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Posted by Robert Whitley on August 27, 2015 at 1:01 PM

Wine Country Travel

 Once an esoteric pursuit embraced only by dedicated oenophiles, wine country travels in recent years have become the passion of millions of Americans drawn by the beauty and romance of vineyard lands and the people behind the wines they love.

"Where do you like to stay?" is second only to "what's your favorite wine?" when I am asked about my travels as a wine journalist.

Consequently I have a deep curiosity about whatever is new or unusual in wine country lodging. A spot that is both is even more appealing.

So it was my great pleasure to visit the Canyon Villa on a recent trip to Paso Robles, California, to judge at the annual Winemakers' Cookoff.

A four-bedroom bed-and-breakfast with rates starting at $275 a night, the Canyon Villa is located 10 minutes from the main square in Paso Robles, heading west out of town toward the seaside village of Cambria. Warm and inviting, it is a Tuscan-style villa in rural Paso Robles, with sweeping views of one of California's fastest-growing wine regions.

What makes this charming spot unusual is the ownership team of Katherine Bloxsom-Carter and her husband William Carter. Chef William oversees the impressive culinary side of the Canyon Villa, which is truly world class, for William is a renowned chef who spent the better part of the past three decades as executive chef at the Playboy Mansion. He studied at UC-Davis, too, and knows his stuff when it comes to wine.

The Canyon Villa has been open for business for all of six months. For information on this hot new wine country B&B, call 805-238-3362 or visit the website at www.thecanyonvilla.com.

Famille Perrin, Côtes du Rhône (Rhône Valley, France) Reserve Blanc 2014 ($12, Vineyard Brands)
Southern Rhône Valley whites tend to relegate the taste of fruit to a secondary role, emphasizing instead flavors resembling smoked nuts, dried herbs, and a dusty earthiness.  They often seem dull because unintegrated.  But when well-crafted, like this one, they offer all sorts of intellectually intriguing pleasures.  As that phrase suggests, this is not a wine to quaff without thinking about it.  Instead, it demands concentration, and perhaps even conversation.  For a mere $11 a bottle, that’s very impressive.
90 Paul Lukacs

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This Issue's Reviews
 
Sommeliers: Love Them or Hate Them?
Michael Apstein

Somms--and oh, how I hate that word--are the newest darlings of the wine world. Sommeliers have been anointed the opinion leaders, directing trends in wine consumption, replacing, in many instances, the voices of established wine critics such as Robert Parker, Jr. or The Wine Spectator. Wine producers either love them (if their wines make it onto their lists) or hate them (when their wines are ignored).
Tasting Sicilian White Wines
Marguerite Thomas

I was in Italy earlier this summer attending VinoVip, an annual event at which Italian vintners show their wines. Sponsored by the wine magazine Civiltá del Bere, VinoVip attracts hundreds of people including wine buyers, wine writers, and wine drinkers. The gathering is set in the magnificent Dolomite Alps, a locale recently described in The New York Times as a "geological wonderland." Among the exciting discoveries for me this year was the great variety of white wines from Sicily.
Wine With
WINE WITH…Steak and Spanish Rice


Spanish rice--a mid-twentieth century favorite like mac and cheese, fondue, and meatloaf--is due for a comeback. This colorful and comforting dish calls for ordinary and inexpensive ingredients, is simple to make, and may be served either as a vegetarian main-course or as an accompaniment to almost any meat or fish preparation. This time we paired it with a juicy steak. It was delicious--or as one might have said in the day, groovy, man. Because we paired the Spanish rice with steak, this clearly was a red wine meal. Were you to serve the rice as a main course, you probably also would choose a red, though without the deep, meaty flavor of the beef, you might opt for a lighter one than those we are recommending here. But at our table, with a grilled bavette steak (a close, but slightly thicker relative to a skirt steak), substantial reds were the order of the day.
On My Table
Blast from the Past
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

When I received a sample of Dievole Chianti Classico recently, I was a bit confused. I knew the name: I had visited the gorgeous, age-old Dievole property more than once and had tasted through the whole line of wines on multiple occasions, but that was at least 15 years ago, or even twenty. I hadn't encountered the wine at all in recent years. But now, suddenly, I was holding a bottle in my hands. I was delighted to discover that the 2013 Dievole Chianti Classico is a lovely Chainti Classico, if rather different in style from what I remember the earlier wines to be. Of course it would be different, because the entire Chianti Classico region has undergone so much change over the past two decades, beginning with the clones of Sangiovese being planted and continuing through the growing methods, blending grapes, and winemaking practices. Even so, the changes in the Dievole wine were striking.