Thumbs Up on 2009 & 2010 Red Burgundy Dec 26, 2010
Robert chats with Laurie & Lisa of San Diego's Finest about the 2009 & 2010 vintage in Burgundy, which he predicts will be hugely popular. During a recent trip to France for the Hospices de Beaune, Robert was particularily impressed by the wines of Domaine Rousseau in the village of Gevrey-Chambertin.
Robert visits WSRadio hosts Laurie Dyson and Lisa Justice to talk about wines and wine gifts for the holidays on their weekly radio show, San Diego's Finest. It's Robert's opinion that California is now making the finest bubbly this side of Champagne.
Rupert Symington On the Family Port Dynasty May 19, 2010
Rupert Symington sits down with Robert and chats about his family's long history in Portugal's Douro Valley, where they own a number of leading Port houses such as Graham's, Dow's, Quinta do Vesuvio, Smith-Woodhouse and more!
Rupert Symington's family is world famous for it's many classic Port wines, but there's a new direction in Portugal's Douro Valley and it leads to some of the world's finest new red table wines. The Symington family, of course, is smack in the middle of this exciting new development.
Winemaker Interview: Philip Laffer & Bernard Hickin, Jacob's Creek Sep 22, 2009
Jacob's Creek has enjoyed huge acceptance throughout the United States largely because it delivers exceptional quality at a reasonable price. What's more, the dry rieslings are some of the finest being made in Australia today, and the shiraz and cabernet are among the most elegant produced in the Barossa Valley. The men behind the Jacob's Creek success, winemakers Philip Laffer and Bernard Hickin, took time out from a whirlwind tour of California to drop in on Robert for a long chat about the doings Down Under.
Philanthropist Gordon Holmes of Lookout Ridge, high in the Mayacamas mountains, chats with Robert about his unique Wine for Wheels program. Holmes offers his Lookout Ridge Wines, all of which are produced by celebrity Napa and Sonoma winemakers, for a mere $100 per bottle. And with each bottle sold he donates a wheelchair to those in need. Never has a $100 per bottle wine been put to a better use.
Winemaker Interview: Dr. Federico Carletti, Poliziano Jul 1, 2009
Dr. Federico Carletti took over the family winery, Poliziano, in the Tuscan district of Montepulciano more than 20 years ago. The Vino Nobile, the region's most important wine, was not so noble back then and Carletti had a huge mountain to climb. Today, however, the Vino Nobile is on the rebound in both quality and prestige and it's safe to say Poliziano was in the forefront of the viticultural revolution. Dr. Carletti chats with Robert about the past and the future of Poliziano.
Robert came back from a week in Rioja with a number of discoveries, in particular Artadi's El Pison vineyard (left) that produces one of Spain's finest reds, the extremely rare Vina El Pison. He chats with co-host Lisa Redwine about the modern face of Rioja as well as the more traditional likes of Cune, Lopez Heredia and Marques de Riscal.
Winemaker Chuck Ortman (Spring Mountain, Far Niente, et al) was already a legend in the industry when son Matt was growing up in the Napa Valley. Matt went off to study engineering in college and wanted no part of the wine business until after his famous dad had retired from Meridian Vineyards, the winery he founded in the 1980s. Father and son have now teamed up to create Ortman Family Vineyards, which specializes in wines from California's Central Coast, especially Pinot Noir. They join Robert and co-host Lisa Redwine to chat about Matt's transformation.
Winemaker Interview: Steve Fennell, Sanford Feb 4, 2009
Winemaker Steve Fennell had success early in his career, landing a job in the Napa Valley at Trefethen Vineyards. He went on from there to carve a terrific reputation at Voss Vineyards. You would think a secure niche at the epicenter of American wine would be difficult to surrender, but Fennell was more than ready when Doug Fletcher (director of winemaking for all of the Tony Terlato estates) called him about the job at Santa Barbara County's Sanford Winery. It was a homecoming of sorts, for Fennell had spent his undergrad years at UC Santa Barbara, but Fennell also embraced the challenge of taking over an iconic winery and making it even better.
Winemaker Interview: Jonathan Nagy, Byron Vineyards Jan 15, 2009
Byron Vineyards has long been a benchmark for quality in Santa Barbara County's Santa Maria Valley. It's early Chardonnays were among the finest ever made in California, and recent vintages of Pinot Noir have been consistently brilliant. Founding winemaker Ken "Byron" Brown left the winery a few years back to start his own label, but assistant winemaker Jonathan Nagy has taken the reins and picked up where Brown left off. Nagy joins Robert for a chat about the current doings at Byron.
Winemaker Interview: Stu Smith, Smith-Madrone Jan 8, 2009
Robert kicks off the new year with a visit from one of the Napa Valley's grizzled veterans -- Stuart Smith of Smith-Madrone Winery. Stuart and his brother Charlie have been making Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Riesling (about 3000 cases per year evenly split between the three grape varieties) on their small Spring Mountain estate since 1971. Through the years they're earned a reputation for making honest, high-quality Napa Valley wines that improve in the cellar and represent a huge bang for the buck compared to other "boutique" Napa Valley wines. Smith-Madrone is no less boutique. It's just less expensive!
Robert is joined by sommelier Lisa Redwine of The Shores restaurant, in La Jolla, Ca., as they discuss their Champagne and sparkling wine picks for the holidays, with several specific selections, across a broad spectrum of prices, just for New Year's Eve. Robert also takes the occasion to single out a number of Champagnes that most impressed him in 2008.
Winemaker Interview: James Hall, Patz & Hall Segment II Dec 5, 2008
This is the missing segment of the James Hall interview from November, 2007 -- by special request! James, the winemaker at Patz & Hall, goes into the philoposphy of the Patz & Hall Pinots in this segment. Special thanks go to our technical department for digging up this formerly lost audio and dusting it off for us.
Winemaker Interview: George Bursick, J Vineyards & Winery Dec 4, 2008
George Bursick is well known for his innovative inclinations. As the longtime winemaker at Ferrari-Carano, he worked wonders (some might suggest miracles) with Dry Creek Valley Sangiovese. And his Chardonnays were always at the top of the class. In 2006, George, in search of new worlds to conquer, took the reins at J Vineyards & Winery, best known for its yummy sparkling wines. Bursick fell in love with Pinot Noir at J -- then used primarily for the bubbly -- and has dramatically expanded the Pinot Noir program. But the mad scientist in George couldn't resist tinkering with the established wisdom. The bitter green tannins of cool-climate Pinots had always bothered him. It was a challenge, but Bursick believed he had a solution. You are a mere mouse click away from peering into the mind of am impassioned, driven winemaker!
Winemaker Interview: Theresa Heredia, Freestone Vineyards Nov 20, 2008
Robert recently tasted the two latest releases from Sonoma's Freestone Vineyards -- the 2006 Chardonnay and 2006 Pinot Noir -- and was blown away by both, noting the impressive structure, elegance and class exhibited by these scintillating wines from a bright new star in California viticulture. The Chardonnay earned a rating of 96 points, the Pinot 94. So, naturally, he invited the winemaker, Theresa Heredia, to do the show. Heredia and owner Bill Phelps share their thoughts about the philosophy and direction of Freestone Vineyards. And this week Robert also introduces guest co-host Lisa Redwine, sommelier at The Shores, an oceanside restaurant in La Jolla, Calif.
La Crema's Chef 'Taki' on Chardonnay, Pinot Pairings Nov 14, 2008
Sonoma's La Crema Winery has a new Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Monterey County's cool coastal vineyards, and Executive Chef Constantinos 'Taki' Laliotitis joins Robert to discuss food pairings with these wines (attractively priced at less than $20) just in time for the holidays.
One of the great mysteries of food and wine pairing is the matchup of wine with chocolate. Especially dry red wine. Robert brings Chef Michael Antonorsi of Chuao Choclatier into the discussion and the Chef has specific suggestions for the perfect pairing.
Adam LaZarre has earned a reputation for brilliance over the past eight years as winemaker at Monterey County's Hahn Estates. Hahn wines under LaZarre have captured numerous accolades at major international wine competitions, and they've established a track record for quality wines at reasonable prices. LaZarre recently accepted a new position as winemaker at Villa San Juliette in Paso Robles (he will continue as a consultant at Hahn) and he chats with Robert about the challenges and opportunities he will face in his new gig.
Winemaker Interview: Loic Le Calvez, Taltarni Sep 27, 2008
When Loic Le Calvez was a young boy growing up in France he inherited a passion for wine from his father, who was a wine merchant. After studying in Bordeaux and working a harvest at the legendary Chateau d'Yquem, Loic's career as a winemaker landed him at Australia's Taltarni Vineyards, where he ascended to the job as chief winemaker in 2006. Loic joins Robert for a lively discussion of the wines of Australia's Victoria and Tasmania regions.
Vintner Interview: Tom Gamble, Source Napa Sep 14, 2008
Grape grower Tom Gamble has spent his entire life in the Napa Valley, generally supplying the family's Gamble Ranch grapes to prestigous Napa wineries. He's now running his own winery, however, and the idea is to focus on the "source" and make unique wines from special vineyard sources.
In the earlier segment, Wine Review Online columnist Michael Apstein discussed the exceptional 2005 vintage in the Cote d'Or. In this second half of the same show, he explores the increasing consumer interest in Chablis, perhaps the most collectible of all Burgundies for those who are appalled at the price of white wines from Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault and reds from the Cotes de Nuits.
Winemaker Interview: Rob Davis, Jordan Aug 26, 2008
Winemaker Rob Davis has been at the iconic Jordan winery since its founding in 1976. The Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon was an immediate success and helped establish Sonoma County's Alexander Valley as one of the great Cabernet terroirs of California. Rob joins Robert for a conversation that looks back at Jordan over the years.
Michael Apstein on Burgundy's '05 Vintage Aug 15, 2008
Our good friend and Wine Review Online colleague, Michael Apstein, stops by to chat about a subject near and dear -- for he is a certified Francophile -- and that would be the spectacular 2005 vintage in Burgundy. And Michael has some ideas about how to enjoy the bounty without taking too big a hit in the wallet.
Winemaker Interview: Janet Myers, Mount Veeder Part II Aug 15, 2008
Janet Myers and Matt Ashby, the winemaker and vineyard manager of Mount Veeder Winery, continue with Robert into the second half-hour. It is Matt's challenge to deliver great winegrapes to Janet, which she then crafts into bold, intense Napa Cabernet for the ages. Part II is approximately 25 minutes.
Winemaker Interview: Andrew Hood, Frogmore Creek Aug 13, 2008
Andrew Hood's wines -- Frogmore Creek and 42 Degrees South -- are crafted in the cool climate of Tasmania, the remote island that is the southernmost wine growing region in all of Australia. Hood specializes in Burgundian-style Pinot Noir, Riesling and sparkling wine. He joins Robert this week to discuss the rigrs and rewards of making wine in cool Tasmania.
Winemaker Interview: Terry Adams, Sonoma Cutrer Aug 7, 2008
Sonoma Cutrer Winemaker Terry Adams joins Robert to discuss the sometimes forgotten notion that superb, exquisitely structured, world class Chardonnay is produced in California. Naturally, the conversation focuses on the exceptional terroir of the Russian River Valley vineyards of Sonoma Cutrer.
Italian Wine Expert Brian Larky on Prosecco Aug 4, 2008
Brian Larky was once the winemaker for the Franciacorta estate of Ca' del Bosco, producer of perhaps Italy's most important sparkling wine. He has since moved into the import business with his own company, Dalla Terra Winery Direct, and specializes in Italian wine. He joins Robert in this half-hour segment to discuss the sudden popularity of Prosecco, the Italian bubbly from the Veneto.
Winemaker Interview: Janet Myers, Mount Veeder Part I Jul 28, 2008
Winemaker Janet Myers wears multiple hats these days, making the wines at two superb Napa Valley wineries -- Franciscan Estates and Mount Veeder Winery. She and vineyard manager Matt Ashby join Robert to chat about the beauty and power of mountain-grown Cabernet at Mount Veeder. Part I is approximately 22 minutes. Click here to listen to Part II.
Winemaker Interview: Jennifer Higgins, Lancaster Estate Jul 21, 2008
Jennifer Higgins took the long and winding road to become winemaker at the up-and-coming Lancaster Estate winery in Sonoma's Alexander Valley. She was studying for a career in medicine when the wine bug bit. Jennifer makes a sensuous Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at Lancaster Estate, where she has been the chief winemaker for the past four vintages. Jennifer joins Robert for the entire half hour of Whitley On Wine.
Winemaker Interview: Jac Cole, Spring Mountain Jul 13, 2008
The challenges of making wine from the steep hillside vineyards of Spring Mountain, overlooking St. Helena and the Napa Valley, are not without their rewards. Jac Cole of the historic Spring Mountain Vineyards estate chats with Robert about the remarkable diversity he encounters over the estate's massive 500-plus acres. It all comes together in wines, primarily Cabernet-based reds, that are bold and suave at the same time.
Winemaker Interview: James Hall, Patz & Hall Jul 11, 2008
One could argue that Patz & Hall's single-vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays are some of the finest wines of their type made in the United States, and Robert often does. He goes behind the "vineyard designate" philosophy of Patz & Hall in an interview with winemaker James Hall, including Hall's stylistic course correction with the Patz & Hall Chardonnays to tone down the winemaker manipulation and bring out the minerality and unique fruit characteristics of each vineyard. Hall joins Robert for a discussion of the Patz & Hall philosophy.
One of the best-kept secrets of California wine is the stunning quality flowing these days from Monterey's Ventana Vineyards. The buzz is getting louder with each passing month, however, as Ventana wines rack up major awards at important wine competitions. The Riesling and Syrah, in particular, have won accolades at the San Francisco Chronicle, Monterey, San Diego and Critics Challenge competitions -- just to name a few. Winemaker Reggie Hammond joins Robert for this half-hour of Whitley On Wine to tell us all about what's up with Ventana!
As the Sonoma Valley winery Gundlach Bundschu celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, family member Jeff Bundschu takes a time out to chat about the earliest years of the winery and what it must have been like, based upon family lore, to make and sell wine in the era of the California gold rush. Whitley On Wine is a production of SignOnRadio.com. This segment approximately 31 minutes.
Winemaker Interview: Mike Sullivan, Benovia Jun 30, 2008
On a recent visit to the Russian River Valley to taste Pinot Noir from the 2006 vintage, Robert was impressed with the aroma and structure of a Pinot from a small new winery: Benovia. Turns out the Benovia winemaker is none other than the accomplished RRV veteran, Mike Sullivan, whose credits include a stop at highly acclaimed Hartford Court. Mike joins Robert for a chat about this promising new venture. Whitley On Wine is a production of SignOnRadio.com.
Ojai Vineyard 2006 Santa Barbara County Syrah Dec 25, 2008
It had been a while since the Wine Guru had come across an Ojai Vineyard Syrah, perhaps a decade or more. Too long, the Guru thought, given the rapturous experience he had tasting the new releases from this remarkable but off-the-beaten-path winery a mere one hour north of Los Angeles. The basic Ojai Sanata Barbara County Syrah is a beautiful wine, with excellent balance between fruit, oak, alcohol and tannin, and the price ($27) makes it a veritable steal!!
Merry Edwards 2007 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc Dec 23, 2008
Merry Edwards is something of a legend in California winemaking circles. She's the queen of bold, full-bodied Russian River Pinot Noir. But Merry's repertoire is deep, as the Wine Guru discovered when he nosed a glass of Merry's aromatic 2007 Sauvignon Blanc. It's a beautfully crafted Sauvignon in a riper, less pungent style than most other California Sauvignons.
The Wine Guru has always been skeptical about the rustic reds from the village of Mercurey in Burgundy. The tannins can be coarse, and sometimes downright green. But Domaine Faiveley did a masterful job with the '06 vintage, crafting a Mercurey even the Wine Guru can love.
Given the difficulty with the exchange rate and the extraordinary price of classified Bordeaux, it would seem a 90-point bargain Bordeaux (under $20) would exist only in the imagination, or as a distant memory. So the Wine Guru is delighted to have found this 90-point Right Bank gem from Canon-Fronsac. This is one you can afford to buy by the case!
The Wine Guru has never been a huge fan of Gavi, the famous white wine of northern Italy's Piedmont region. Not that he doesn't like Gavi. But most of it is overpriced and underdelivers. So this fresh, clean, juicy Gavi from Ca' Bianca at less than $20 was a real find, and has the Guru giving Gavi a second look!
The Wine Guru didn't know quite what to expect when he recently tasted through the Northfield lineup for the first time. Northfield is a quality minded New Zealand wine producer that had heretofore escaped detection by the Wine Guru's highly sensitive radar. These Kiwi wines were quite worthy, especially this Home Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir.
The Wine Guru just loves it when he comes across a bold, complex red wine for less than $20. This Argentine Malbec from Famiglia Bianchi is an incredible value at $17. Decant this wine and give it some air, and you'll be amazed!
Winemaker Tom Rinaldi has demonstrated a deft hand with Sauvignon Blanc going back to his days at Duckhorn, the iconic Napa Valley winery. He hasn't lost his touch since moving over to Provenance, and the Wine Guru is all over this latest release.
When Pat Roney of Girard purchased Windsor Vineyards a few years back, you knew change was a gonna come. That's because Roney's winemaker is one of the Wine Guru's favorites -- the masterful Marco DiGiulio! DiGiulio is aces with Sauvignon Blanc, and all the evidence you need is this latest vintage of Windsor Sonoma (there was a name change, too) Sauvignon Blanc.
The Wine Guru doesn't sling around too many 100-point wines, but he's found one in the stunning Nickel & Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon from the Martin Stelling Vineyard. This won't qualify as one of the Wine Guru's "value" wines, unless you compare the price ($140) to what you might pay for a first- or second-growth Bordeaux of comparable quality.
Merlot doesn't get much respect from connoisseurs these days, yet everyone should take a deep breath and remember that the most expensive Bordeaux money can buy is 100 percent Merlot (Chateau Petrus). The Napa Valley offers some of the finest domestic Merlot to be had, and Truchard's vineyards in the cool Carneros district of Napa consistently yield Merlot of character. The Wine Guru believes the 2004 from Truchard may be one of its best.
Albarino, once upon a time an obscure white wine from an out-of-the-way corner of Spain, is now everywhere. The Wine Guru loves Albarino for its crisp structure and minerality, qualities that refresh the palate and enhance shellfish dishes. But many Albarinos also possess layers of fruit complexity that wouldn't seem possible in such a crisp, refreshing wine. Fillaboa is one of those exceptions.
Torres 2007 Sangre de Toro 'Vina Sol' Sep 17, 2008
The Wine Guru is still looking for great quaffing whites for summer, particularly as we head into the long Labor Day weekend. Torres, the impeccable family winery from Spain's Penedes region near Barcelona, delivers a mouth-watering example of the genre with its $10 Sangre de Toro "Vina Sol." And that's not bull!
Trefethen's dry Riesling has long been one of California's finest, and something of an oddity for a Napa Valley winery. The Wine Guru recently tried it and still thinks it's one of California's best examples of this style.
The good folks at Planeta are among the most innovative and important wine producers in Italy. They're best known for voluptuous Sicilian Chardonnay, but the Wine Guru has flipped over their first-ever vintage of Rose. You will, too!
Merryvale 2007 'Starmont' Sauvignon Blanc Aug 13, 2008
Merryvale's Starmont wines not only offer good quality, but the prices are modest compared to other Merryvale wines. The Wine Guru believes the Starmont Sauvignon Blanc is one of the Napa Valley's best Sauvignons for the money.
Clos du Val's record for quality and consistency over the past quarter-century is unrivaled in the Napa Valley. So says the Wine Guru, who found the 2005 Clos du Val Cabernet merely another in a long line of exceptional vintages from this iconic California winery -- and at a stunningly modest price for a seriously delicious Napa Valley Cab.
The Wine Guru has noticed a significant change in Champagne Mumm over the past several years. The once popular Mumm Cordon Rouge non-vintage brut has experienced a rebound in quality that, if price is any barometer, has escaped the attention of Champagne enthusiasts. Yet judges at the 2008 Critics Challenge took notice and awarded the Mumm Cordon Rouge a Platinum award. This is a toasty full-bodied non-vintage brut that's one of those rare commodities -- a bargain (relatively speaking) Champagne!
If you've hung around as long as the Wine Guru you know the Napa Valley winery Chappellet is synonymous with consistency across its entire range of wines. The 2006 Chardonnay is yet another in a long line of exceptional vintages. It's beautifully structured -- rich and oily upfront, finishing crisply with clean, bright acidity. Yummy stuff.
Mendocino County's Bonterra Vineyards is one of the pioneers of organic wines in California. These wines are invariably well made, modestly priced and delicious additions to any wine cellar. The Wine Guru is especially fond of the Syrah from Bonterra, and he absolutely loves the price!
The Wine Guru doesn't mind paying a few bucks more for a great wine, but he wants a big bang for those bucks. Franciscan's red Meritage blend, Magnificat, delivers. It's not cheap at $50, but it can play with the big boys of the Napa Valley at twice the price.
Craggy Range Sauvignons aren't your typically tangy New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, which you will find in Marlborough. The Te Muna Road Vineyard, source for this Craggy Range Sauvignon, is located in Martinborough and delivers a crisp white that's considerably more floral on the nose and a bit more oily on the palate, which the Wine Guru found to his liking.
The Wine Guru was looking for a juicy, delicious red to serve with a leg of lamb butterflied and barbecued on the grill. This inexpensive award-winning Merlot from Beringer proved to be a great match at a great price. Click to listen to this one-minute audio review!
The Wine Guru enjoys Chardonnay with a bit of richness and plenty of mouth-watering acidity when he's barbecuing salmon or swordfish on the grill. He's found a couple of gems: the value-priced 2006 Bonterra Chardonnay and an affordable beauty from the Russian River Valley, the 2005 Willowbrook Chardonnay. Both wines were Gold Medal winners at the 2008 San Diego International Wine Competition.
Raymond 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Jul 17, 2008
When is a $35 Cabernet Sauvignon considered a value wine? When it's a delicious vintage from one of the Napa Valley's most reliable and consistent producers. The Wine Guru finds Raymond's Reserve delivers on the promise of Napa Valley excellence without the hefty price usually associated with Napa Valley Cab.
Kim Crawford 2007 Marlborough Dry Riesling Jul 15, 2008
Kiwi Kim Crawford has found his niche with clean, crisp, refreshing white wines. Though best known, perhaps, for his Sauvignon Blanc and unoaked Chardonnay, the latest vintage of his Marlborough Dry Riesling rivals many of the best expressions of this style from neighboring Australia.
The Wine Guru was impressed by the delicacy and finesse exhibited by this lovely blanc de blancs Champagne as it swept the Best of Show Sparkling Wine category at the 2008 San Diego International Wine Competition. UPDATE: Since winning the big prize at the SDIWC, and after this recording was made, Henriot issued a price correction and informs us the Blanc Souverain will now come in at $50 or so retail in most U.S. cities.
Marc Kreydenweiss 2006 Andlau Riesling Jul 13, 2008
One of the purest and most complex dry Rieslings the Wine Guru has found from Alsace comes from the perfectionest Marc Kreydenweiss, whose wines are uniformly impeccable. Kreydenweiss is a devotee of biodynamic farming and produces wines of unique personality and character. The Andlau Riesling is a rich, powerful Riesling that you wouldn't hesitate to pair with meat dishes or other strongly flavored foods.
Sometimes you've just got to have a great high-end Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon to celebrate -- or impress. But you don't want to throw your money away. This vintage of Far Niente Cabernet lives up to its price. The Wine Guru believes it's probably the most evocative and well-balanced Napa Cab he's tasted this year. A truly memorable wine!
Sonoma's venerable Sebastiani Vineyards has been around for decades making good everyday California wines that can be enjoyed when they are young and fresh. The Wine Guru doesn't often think of Sebastiani when he's on the prowl for something extraordinary in red wine. The stylish and complex Sebastiani Secolo may have changed his mind!
While the Cabernet and Chardonnay usually hog the headlines at Grgich Hills, this Napa Valley icon's ever classy Fume Blanc is steady as she goes. The Wine Guru prizes this wine for its restraint and complexity, particularly its flinty minerality in a world of pungent, grapefruity Sauvignons, which are no less good but somewhat ubiquitous.
Sonoma Cutrer 2006 Russian River Ranches Chardonnay Jul 7, 2008
Almost overlooked when the discussion turns to California's better Chardonnays is the superb Sonoma Cutrer Russian River Ranches, which is a restaurant staple and thus usually consumed well before it reaches maturity. The Wine Guru finds this wine to be one of the most firmly structured, complex and age-worthy Chardonnays on the U.S. market today. And it's a certifiable steal at the price.
The Wine Guru has long been fond of the wines from Eberle, where former Penn State football great Gary Eberle holds forth. Eberle is the Godfather of the Paso Robles wine region and deserves most of the credit for having the vision a quarter-century ago to believe in the Paso terroir. So it brought a smile to the Wine Guru's lips when he learned the well-balanced Vineyard Selection Cab from Eberle had snagged a Platinum Award at the prestigous Critics Challenge. And this wine is a steal at the price!
This is a Tuscan wine from the Maremma district, between Montalcino and the Mediterranean coast. In this region, around Scansano, the Sangiovese grape is called Morellino. These are delicious reds that are priced well given the quality, but only because they don't yet have the visibility or cachet of the wines of the Montalcino and Chianti districts. This is one of the Wine Guru's favorites.
Pinot-phobes may have noticed that the cost of good Pinot Noir has been on the rise in recent years, with prices in the $50-plus range not at all uncommon. But the Wine Guru has good news for Pinot lovers everywhere, with four affordable gold medal-winners from the 2008 San Diego International Wine Competition. These crowd-pleasing Pinots retail for between $20 and $38.
Some of Italy's most age-worthy and collectible red wines are those made from the glorious Aglianico grape, grown primarily in the southern climes of Campania and Basilicata. The Wine Guru says one of the best is Mastroberardino's single-vineyard Taurasi 'Radici.'
Bonny Doon's Randall Grahm has a cool hand with one of the hottest white graoe varieties in the world, the crisp and refreshing Albarino from Spain's Rias Baixas region. But Grahm grows it in California at his Ca' del Solo property.
Whether you're hosting dinner or bringing a bottle to a party somewhere else, the holidays are a time for difficult wine choices. Should you serve white or red with turkey? Is it wise to bring a special bottle to a party, or will it get lost amid all the other choices? Michael Franz and Paul Lukacs offer tips for holiday wine anxiety.
How should one go about selecting wines for the table depending on the ambient temperature? Which wines work best in which circumstances, and how should you treat the wines themselves in terms of temperature?
Who decides what's hot -- and what's not -- in the world of wine? Sometimes, a movie like "Sideways" will send certain wines into the stratosphere. But other times, the reasons for a wine's rise or fall aren't always clear. We consider the fickle fashions of the wine world, and discuss varietals that are on the rise today.
April Fool's Day may have come and gone -- but if you're looking to learn more about wine, you're not out of the woods just yet. Even the most seasoned drinkers can be fooled by misinformation and urban myths. Michael Franz and Paul Lukacs are back to talk about common misconceptions -- including the idea that wine usually gets better with age.
In the midst of a rocky economy, many wine aficionados say "the $10 bottle is the new $20 wine". But how do you cut cost without sacrificing quality? We say that great, affordable finds are everywhere if you're willing to stray slightly off the beaten path. We discuss unjustly obscure wines and other topics as well.
For a lot of people, the holiday season is all about breaking out the bubbly. Shopping for Champagne and other sparkling wines can be an expensive process--but it need not be. Michael Franz and Paul Lukacs help navigate the sparkling wine family, and answer lots of listener questions about enjoying wine during the holidays.
It's a fiendishly complex challenge for wine enthusiasts: picking that perfect pairing for the "traditional" Thanksgiving meal of turkey, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. There may not be one ideal pairing for all of our favorite savory and sweet dishes. But there are some useful tips to guide you through the aisle at your local store. Michael Franz and Paul Lukacs offer seasonal wine tips.
Wine Wisdom: Pairing Wines with Foods Oct 24, 2008
They say that rules are meant to be broken, but does that axiom apply to wine? Are the old rules of thumb for pairing wines and foods soundly based, or would we do better to consider some new approaches? Plus, we consider how Amazon.com's decision to get into wine sales will impact both consumers and local mom-and-pop shops.
Why do some wines improve with age whereas others don't? How is it possible to tell the difference between them? And with wines that can improve with age, what should be done by those who live in apartments or who don't have wine cellars? These topics as well as others are taken up, along with a number of questions from listeners....
American Wine: Beyond the Golden State Aug 20, 2008
Napa and Sonoma are two famous-named wine regions -- but there are many wine regions across the US that may surprise you. States like Michigan and Arizona, not traditionally associated with wine, are now home to budding vineyards. We'll take a virtual road trip and hear about the wineries worth a late-summer trek.
It's a white wine that sends critics swooning -- yet it's relatively underappreciated by most American consumers. It's Riesling, one of the most versatile, refreshing wines out there. Michael Franz and Paul Lukacs explore why Riesling has yet to take off in the USA, and why the wine industry seems to have such a hard time predicting which bottles will fly off the shelves and which will gather dust.
What factors are involved in wine pricing? Why do some wines cost so much more than others? Are wines priced competitively, like other comodities, or are they priced at the whim of producers, like some luxury goods?
Kojo grills Michael and Paul on what wines they recommend for the 4th, or any warm summer weekend, and the sparks fly! Paul says Beaujolais with a slight chill, above all else. And Michael can't resist the comeback that most commercial Beaujolais is "insipid." To Paul he has two words: Pinot Noir! Ah, but our guys agree on the lighter reds of northern Italy -- Dolcetto and Barbera -- and Chianti with a slight chill. Light body, light oak and modest tannin. Michael and Paul also offer tips on how to care for a bottle of wine in warmer weather, and Michael notes that serving at room temperature -- when the room is 85 degrees warm -- probably isn't a very good idea. It's fun, it's informative and it's a click away!
On the surface, it doesn't look like a great time to indulge in European or Australian wines -- the dollar's weak and shipping costs are through the roof. But those regions may still be your best bet for high-quality, moderately-priced bottles. WRO Editor Michael Franz and Saveur Wine Editor Paul Lukacs, a WRO columnist, join Kojo Nnamdi of Washington, D.C.'s PBS station, WAMU, to discuss your best options for sipping wine this summer.