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Posted by Robert Whitley on March 1, 2015 at 1:44 PM

What Wine When Adrift at Sea?

I am often asked which wine is my all-time favorite.

That's an impossible question to answer because so much depends on the mood, the place, the food, etc.

But when pressed, I usually offer this bit of advice:

If I were set adrift at sea and could only have one wine, it would be something with the name Gaja on the label. My specific preference would be Gaja Sperss, the only Barolo in Angelo's stellar lineup.

Angelo Gaja may well be the world's greatest winemaker. He was a daring pioneer and innovator back in the day, before the rest of the wine world caught on to his genius and followed his lead.

Gaja Sperss is not inexpensive. It routinely retails for more than $200 a bottle, but I consider even that price a bargain if you can believe a first-growth Bordeaux is worth $1000 or more per bottle. I love first-growth BDX but no longer can afford it.

A Gaja Sperss is a rare treat, but one I can manage from time to time.

I'm thinking of this because I am meeting Gaia Gaja, Angelo's daughter and the world ambassador for Gaja wines, this evening for dinner and greatly looking forward to catching up on what's new in the Gaja world.

Merry Edwards, Russian River Valley (Sonoma County) Pinot Noir Meredith Estate 2012 ($57)
The Meredith Estate is typically Merry's star vineyard, but that's splitting hairs because her grape sourcing is impeccable. There's a reason, though, that Meredith is the star and it's embodied in this superb vintage. With seductive floral aromatics and intense, complex fruit aromas, the 2012 Merry Edwards Meredith is a stunning example of the complexity produced by the Meredith vines. Then there is the structure, with its brilliant and rare combination of power and intensity without weight. This is a seamless Pinot that exhibits remarkable elegance and depth, well worth the hefty price tag.
97 Robert Whitley

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
The Jackson Legacy
Robert Whitley

It has been nearly four years since Jess Stonestreet Jackson, the visionary vintner, passed away. Jackson was, like Robert Mondavi and Ernest & Julio Gallo before him, a towering figure in the California wine industry. His namesake winery, Kendall-Jackson, introduced an entire nation to the pleasures of chardonnay, one of the world's great white wines but barely a blip on the radar of American wine enthusiasts before Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay became a household name in the early 1980s.
Pinot Blanc Can Be a Star
Paul Lukacs

It must be hard being Pinot Blanc. You come from a noble family, one of the most renowned in the world of wine, but you are regularly belittled as being dull and bland. Your big brother, Pinot Noir, is an international celebrity with legions of frenzied fans. But You? Sure, you're widely planted, but you're hardly ever the star. Instead, you usually end up playing a supporting role--to Riesling in Germany and Alsace, to Chardonnay in Burgundy (where you're such an outcast that you have to operate in disguise), and to your sister, Pinot Grigio, in Italy. As the British wine writer Oz Clarke quips, Pinot Blanc has a 'perennial personality problem.'
Wine With
WINE WITH…Duck Breasts with Port Wine Sauce & Duck Fat Home Fries

On Valentine's Day we decided to celebrate by bringing out a few bottles of select wines that we'd been hoarding in our cellar. Since this particular group of wines was red, and would probably be big, mouth filling and (we hoped) complex, we wanted to pair them with a dish that would be both celebratory and robust enough to do justice to the wines. What should we make? We considered simply grilling a fabulous steak or lamb chops, or perhaps preparing Tournedos Rossini or a similar classic beefy dish. Any one of these would have been excellent with the wines, but what we eventually decided on was duck breasts, pan-seared to perfect pinkish-red with a crackly crust, then drizzled with a lush, deeply flavored Port wine sauce. The sauce, which was inspired by a classic recipe from Paula Wolffert, tastes fairly sweet by itself, but co-mingling with the dense, rich duck it all coalesced into a savory, rather than sweet, seductive entity. Potatoes sautéed in some of the duck's own fat added a further note of gustatory--and dare we say romantic?--appeal.
On My Table
Pedigree Without the Price
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

I imagine it can't be easy making wine in Central Tuscany. On the one hand, you would be part of one of the most scenic, most visited and most famous wine areas in the world -- the place where Chianti Classico, Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino are situated. On the other hand, you would compete with many hundreds of other wineries for consumer recognition of your brand and possibly even your historic terroir. Consider the small zone of Carmignano, which overlaps the northern part of the large Chianti zone, just west of Florence: despite its heritage and the fine quality of the wine, how recognizable is the name even among knowledgeable wine lovers?