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Columns – Ed McCarthy

Champagnes to Usher in the New Year
Ed McCarthy
Dec 27, 2023

Dec. 27, 2023: The custom throughout much of the world, particularly in Europe and in the Western Hemisphere countries, is to greet the New Year with bubbly wine, especially Champagne. Of course, some people call any wine with bubbles 'champagne,' but for me, only true Champagne, made in the Champagne region of northeastern France will do. And so, Voila! I am sticking to Champagne with a capital 'C.' I have been lining up some of my best Champagnes for the New Year's season, and here they come, broken down by type to help you find the bottles that will best suit your preferences and budget.

Superb for Summer: Cru Beaujolais
Ed McCarthy
Jun 7, 2023

June 7, 2023: Warm weather is upon us, and wine drinkers are probably consuming lots of white, rosé, and sparkling wines now. As am I. But I never forsake red wines entirely, even in the hottest portion of summer. I just change the type of red wines that I drink. This year I have been buying Beaujolais, and the very best of these are the ten Beaujolais wines sourced from villages called 'Crus.'

California Pinot Noirs
Ed McCarthy
Oct 5, 2022

Oct. 5, 2022: Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo are my favorite red grape varieties. Both varieties have something in common-they are very particular about the terroirs in which they do well. For Nebbiolo, this variety is at its best in the southwest part of Piedmont, Italy, where it produces the great Barolo and Barbaresco wines. Pinot Noir, a very old grape variety (it was around at least 2,000 years ago), is at its best in the Burgundy region of central France-although it does reasonably well in certain places within Chile, New Zealand, Oregon, and California. As you might expect, good French Burgundies are quite expensive-but so are fine Pinot Noirs from anywhere else. California was a real learning experience for Pinot Noir wine growers and winemakers. Early attempts at growing decent Pinot Noir-back in the 1960s and 1970s-were mainly unsuccessful, and most of the wines were of poor quality. Growers learned that Pinot Noir demands much cooler climate than Cabernet Sauvignon, and soil that is not that fertile (Pinot Noir grapes require low yields to excel).

California Pinot Noirs
Ed McCarthy
Mar 23, 2022

Mar. 23, 2022: Pinot Noir has always been a difficult grape variety to grow successfully. It is early-ripening, and prone to spring frosts. It is susceptible to many vine diseases. It grows best in cool, dry climates. Being a delicate variety, Pinot Noir does not blend successfully with other grape varieties (the one major exception being sparkling wines; it does blend quite well with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier in France's Champagne region). You might wonder, why do wine growers even bother with it? The answer is simple: the wine can be magnificent, when everything works right. Many of the best wines I have ever consumed have been red Burgundies. And so it was no surprise when California winemakers (and later Oregon's) decided to produce Pinot Noir wines.

Popular Red and White Wine Grape Varieties
Ed McCarthy
Sep 21, 2021

Over 10,000 grape varieties exist, but only a very small percentage of them have made the cut as popular wine grapes. To almost no one's surprise, the most grown wine grape in the world is Cabernet Sauvignon. Total acreage of the world's vineyards destined for Cabernet Sauvignon wine production is about 16 million acres! Of the 10,000+ grape varieties, the 13 most popular varieties are planted on one-third of the world's vineyards. Naturally, it is easier to sell wines when people know the grape varieties. Although there is a trend among some producers to search out old, forgotten grape varieties, such as the recently revived white grape variety, Timorasso, in Piedmont, Italy, the most popular grape varieties clearly dominate world wine production.

Vintage Madeira
Ed McCarthy
Apr 20, 2021

Why am I writing about a wine that is quite rare nowadays, and no longer the great value that it was a few decades ago? I am addressing this wine because, if you are a wine lover and have not experienced Vintage Madeira, you will want to try it. Vintage Madeira is one of the greatest wines in the world, and still a value, considering its excellence and incredible longevity. Madeira wines are made in only one small place, the sub-tropical, mountainous island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean, south of Portugal and west of northern Africa. Although separated by water, Madeira is part of the national territory of the nation-state of Portugal. A surprising fact about Madeira wine is that it was the favorite wine of the American colonists-dating back to the 1600s-and was still popular well into the 19th century.

The Duckhorn Portfolio, Featuring its 'Migration' Pinot Noirs
Ed McCarthy
Mar 16, 2021

The Migration brand, launched by Alex Ryan under the umbrella of Duckhorn Vineyards, obtains its grapes from the Sonoma Coast, Anderson Valley in Mendocino, and vineyards in Santa Barbara County. Migration specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Most of Duckhorn's company names have some reIationship to ducks. The Migration wine labels feature ducks migrating, symbolic of Duckhorn-owned wines migrating from its original home in Napa Valley to other regions throughout the West Coast of the U.S.

Langhe Nebbiolo
Ed McCarthy
Feb 2, 2021

Don't be fooled by the color of Langhe Nebbiolo wines. They are a fairly light red, with orangey highlights, not nearly as dark a red wine as one made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, or Syrah. But tasting a Nebbiolo wine, with its abundance of tannin and acidity, insures you of its power. Another advantage of Langhe Nebbiolo wine is that you can drink it when it's young, as soon as you buy it-unlike its famous brothers, Barolo and Barbaresco, which require 10 or more years of ageing to be at their best.

Charles Heidsieck - and other Memorable Champagnes
Ed McCarthy
Dec 29, 2020

During the 1800s Champagne-and most quality wines-were consumed mainly by the elite class in the U.S.A. Although Champagne was well-established as a sparkling wine in many countries in Europe, it was almost unknown in the U.S before Charles Heidsieck made his first visit to the U.S. in 1852. Charles Heidsieck came from a well-known winemaking family living in Reims, France. In 1851, at the age of 29, Heidsieck founded a Champagne House in Reims, which he named after himself. He began selling his Champagne abroad, first in Belgium and in England, and then he made the bold move of heading to the U.S. Heidsieck made three more trips to this country before our Civil War began. Charles Heidsieck was a debonair man with a flair for attaining publicity. He and his Champagne became almost immediately popular in the States, especially in New York, where one local newspaper gave Heidsieck the nickname that would last forever: 'Champagne Charlie.'

Great Dry White Wines from France
Ed McCarthy
Nov 24, 2020

A few weeks ago, I drank a magnificent white French wine that I had not tasted or known about before (more about this wine below). It got me thinking: why do most wine writers (including me) write mainly-in fact almost exclusively-about red wines? When I first started drinking wine some decades ago, Americans drank more white wine than red. But that has changed, as wine consumption boomed in the U.S. Today, consumers in the U.S. who drink wine consume about 58 to 60 percent red wines, with white wines hovering around 40 percent consumption. Nevertheless, white wines receiving such little coverage in print remains a mystery.

Dutton-Goldfield Winery: Pinot Noir Specialists
Ed McCarthy
Oct 20, 2020

Dutton-Goldfield, in California's Sonoma County, began making wines from grapes in the cooler vineyards of northern California in 1998. Steve Dutton, a fifth-generation farmer in Sonoma, looks after the vineyards that the winery uses; his friend, Dan Goldfield, is the winemaker. Dutton-Goldfield produces many different wines that perform well from grapes in cool-climate vineyards, but the winery specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

A Forgotten Loire Valley Red Wine: Pineau d'Aunis
Ed McCarthy
Sep 15, 2020

For a few decades, I have been writing about wines, concentrating especially on French wines. Hence, I was quite surprised when I recently discovered a red grape from the Loire Valley that I had never heard of-Pineau d'Aunis. It is an ancient variety growing in the central Loire Valley, in the areas of Anjou and Saumur and in the Touraine AOC district, dating from at least the 1200s. The reason Pineau d'Aunis has become so obscure today is that the variety suffered greatly from the phylloxera scourge of the 1860s, which wiped out most of its acreage. But today, Pineau d'Aunis is starting to make a comeback-at least in geeky wine circles. It exhibits lively, white-pepper aromas with delicate flavors of wild berries. For those of you who enjoy your red wines chilled, Pineau d'Aunis is the wine for you, as it really comes to life with a slight chill, similar to Beaujolais. It is a versatile wine that pairs well with charcuterie and light entrées.

Zinfandel: The American Red Wine
Ed McCarthy
May 5, 2020

Yes, Zinfandel's ancestors did come from southern Europe. But in its present form, Zinfandel is truly an American wine. And unfortunately, like the late comedian, Rodney Dangerfield, who always protested, 'I get no respect!' … Zinfandel shares the same fate. Too many American wine drinkers-as they buy expensive California Cabernet Sauvignons and other pricey reds-ignore Zinfandels. We can probably blame the arrival of the so-called white Zinfandel, an inexpensive, rather sweet, pink concoction that swept through the U.S. a few decades ago (and continues to have a following) for red Zinfandel's mixed reputation. Buying habits die hard. But it is time wine drinkers who are unaware of the wine discovered the really great qualities of Zinfandel.

Viña Los Vascos: Great Value Chilean Wines with a French Accent
Ed McCarthy
Mar 24, 2020

Among the Spanish immigrants that settled in Chile during the 18th an 19th centuries were the Basques. The Echenique family, of Basque origin, were pioneers in planting grapes in Chile's Colchagua Valley. The grapes they and others planted were mainly French grapes, clearly the most renowned wine grapes at that time, with a proven track record. In 1988, Les Domaines Barons de Rothschild-the corporate name of the Lafite branch of the esteemed French Rothschild wine empire-decided to expand their wine estates into Chile. After a careful search of more than 100 wineries, the Rothschild group acquired Los Vascos (which means 'The Basques,' in honor of its Basque origins). Los Vascos is located in the Caneten Valley of the Colchagua region, about 25 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The Caneten Valley provides a perfect microclimate for quality wine production, with daily winds allowing average temperatures between 68° to 77°F. Currently, 1,581 acres of the 5,000-acre estate are planted with wine grapes, making Los Vascos one of the largest vineyards in the Colchagua Valley.

A Short List of My Favorite Champagnes
Ed McCarthy
Feb 25, 2020

I love Champagne. It is the one wine that I consistently buy, despite the fact that I own enough to last for a while. If I were to list all the Champagnes that I enjoy drinking, this column would be endless. And so, I have limited my list to six producers, plus three Honorable Mentions....

A New Look at Two Piedmontese Wineries
Ed McCarthy
Jan 21, 2020

Italy's Piedmont region is in northwest Italy, with France at its western border and Switzerland to the north. Its main wine region, the Langhe, which includes the towns of Alba and Asti, has normally been a very traditional area, where change occurs very slowly. But two Piedmontese wineries, Vietti and Domenico Clerico. have made some striking changes lately. Both wineries have their roots planted deep in the Langhe, home of great red wines: Barolo and Barbaresco-both made from the majestic Nebbiolo variety-plus Barbera, plus other red wines, such as Barbera, Dolcetto, and Freisa.

Champagne Laurent-Perrier's New Look
Ed McCarthy
Dec 24, 2019

Earlier this year, I met with Michelle DeFeo, U.S. President of Laurent-Perrier Champagne. I tasted several new Champagnes, and learned of recent changes, especially with respect to Laurent-Perrier's Prestige Cuvée, Grand Siècle. Laurent-Perrier is the fifth-largest Champagne in sales (after Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, the relatively new co-operative, Nicolas Feuilatte, and G.H. Mumm). Also included in the Laurent-Perrier ownership is Salon (one of the world's greatest Blanc de Blancs Champagnes), Delamotte, and De Castellane. Laurent-Perrier utilizes over 1,200 grape growers for its Champagnes, and exports the wines to more than 120 countries.

Umani Ronchi, a Dynamic Winery in Eastern Italy
Ed McCarthy
Nov 26, 2019

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, many of us are searching out good, but different wines that will not break the bank. Italy is a country blessed with so many exciting wineries in all of its regions. Two Italian regions that I am particularly fond of are located along the country's eastern coastline-Marche and Abruzzo. Both regions produce some outstanding wines, with Marche, the more northerly region, better known for its white wines and Abruzzo more renowned for its red wines, although each region produces both. Umani Ronchi is a family winery, founded in Marche in 1957 by Gino Umani Ronchi in the Classico zone of the Verdicchio grape variety-Castelli di Jesi. Umani Ronchi's principal wines are its white Verdicchio, its red Rosso Conero from Marche and its red Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from Abruzzo.

The Alto Piemonte
Ed McCarthy
Oct 29, 2019

Nebbiolo is one of the greatest red wine grape varieties in the world. Wines made from Nebbiolo can be found in various parts of the world, including California, but the greatest Nebbiolo wines come from Piedmont in northwestern Italy. The most famous Nebbiolo wines are Barolo and Barbaresco, made in the Langhe, a region in southwest Piedmont; the town of Alba is its commercial center. But ninety miles northeast of the Langhe, another region that grows Nebbiolo has been re-capturing the attention it once enjoyed in the 1800s; it is known today as the Alto Piemonte. Situated at the base of the Alps in Northern Piedmont, the Alto Piemonte is higher in altitude and cooler than the Langhe. Here, the Nebbiolo grape is called Spanna, and wines from this region often use three other local varieties to complement the Spanna.

Champagnes to Check Out
Ed McCarthy
Oct 1, 2019

Although I have been buying and writing about all sorts of wines throughout my life--and I certainly own enough wines to last well past my lifetime--I still find myself buying Champagnes. Habits die hard. And so, I can say that Champagne is my favorite wine region. The Champagnes I am writing about here come, of course, from the Champagne region in northeast France. The largest Champagne category, by far, are non-vintage Bruts. About 85 to 90% of all Champagnes produced are NV Bruts, as they are called. I will also cover Vintage Bruts, Blanc de Blancs, Rosé Champagnes, and the most expensive category, Prestige Cuvées (think Cristal and Dom Pérignon). I focus on the Négociant houses because they are large enough for their Champagnes to be available across the country. I will also discuss some of my favorite Grower Champagne producers.

Some Great Italian White Wines and One Amazing Rosé
Ed McCarthy
Sep 3, 2019

Italy's white wines have improved so much during the past few decades that today I believe they are among the best white wines in the world. The Veneto region (think Soave; Pinot Grigio) has long led Italy in white wine production, followed by Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Friulano, Pinot Bianco). But I am focusing here on three other Italian regions for their really fine, unique white wines: Trentino-Alto Adige, Abruzzo and Sicily.

Wines of The Finger Lakes
Ed McCarthy
Aug 6, 2019

The 11 Finger Lakes, located in western New York State, south of huge Lake Ontario, are a source of surprisingly fine wines--many at affordable prices. And yet, few of the more than 200 wineries are really well-known in the U.S., even in New York City. True, many of the wineries are small, and sell most of their wines in the region. But there are at least 15 to 20 wineries large enough to sell their wines throughout the country and even abroad.

Summertime Reds
Ed McCarthy
Jul 9, 2019

Summer weather does not signal to me that I stop drinking red wines--it just changes the type of red wines that I choose to drink. I certainly do drink more white and rosé wines in warm weather; it is really amazing how popular rosé wines have become. But as a confirmed red wine drinker, I cannot abandon red wines in the warmer days--especially if I am having food that is more suitable for reds. But I usually stay away from the more powerful, concentrated red wines--such as California Cabernets, Barolos, Bordeaux, and the better Rhône wines. Instead I drink lighter-bodied reds, especially those from Italy and France. And, as a collateral benefit, these wines are typically less expensive than the heavy-hitter red wines.

2017: A Great Port Vintage
Ed McCarthy
May 14, 2019

I recently attended a tasting of 16 Vintage Portos from 2017 including all of the great Porto firms, and I was remarkably impressed. A group of owners and managers of the leading Port houses paid a visit to the U.S., as they are wont to do in great vintages, and presented their wines. Something very unusual has occurred in the Porto region: Two great vintages in a row, the 2016 and 2017--were declared by almost all producers. According to Johnny Symington, head of the Symington group of Port houses (Graham, Dow, Warre, Cockburn, Quinta do Vesuvio, and Smith Woodhouse), this is the first time in the Symington brand's history that two great vintages in a row have been declared.

Pinot Grigio and Marco Felluga
Ed McCarthy
Apr 16, 2019

The Russiz Superiore Pinot Grigio 2017 I tasted recently was a knockout; it had a deep golden color (unlike the pale Pinot Grigios commonly being sold). Marco Felluga's Russiz Superiore Friuli Pinot Grigio Collio 2017 has good acidity, with rich, deep, delicious, spicy flavors, including pear, citrus, and apple. It is a dinner wine more than just an apéritif. Marco Felluga's Russiz Superiore wine restored my faith in Pinot Grigio! It is available retail in the $26 to $28 price range, more expensive than most Pinot Grigios on the market, but so much better, and a bargain, considering the quality of the wine.

Dry Creek Vineyard Introduces New Wines
Ed McCarthy
Mar 19, 2019

During the 1970s, California began opening many new wineries. The wine boom in California that began in the mid-1960s blossomed to such an extent by the 1970s that new wineries were opening up practically every month. Dave Stare, who founded Dry Creek Vineyard in 1972, is one of the early pioneers of California's wine renaissance. He was inspired to go into the wine business after making a few trips to the Loire Valley. Stare took wine courses at UC Davis in the late 1960s, and began searching for vineyards up and down the California coast. When he arrived at Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County, Dave found an ideal location--an old prune orchard. He purchased it and immediately began planting vines.

The 2014 Vintage in Barolo
Ed McCarthy
Feb 19, 2019

Barolo wines from the 2014 vintage are now available for sale in wine shops. Some consumers might have heard that Barolos from this vintage suffered from the inconsistent weather in Piedmont's Langhe district. It is true that the weather for much of the growing period was not good, but a mild, pleasant autumn saved the vintage from becoming a disaster--at least not for those wine growers who had the foresight and courage to wait the bad weather out. For these growers, the harvest was quite late…as late as October 24 through 26. But Nebbiolo, the grape variety used exclusively for both Barolo and Barbaresco, is a very late ripener--perfect for late harvests.

Italy's Best Red Wine--Barolo or Brunello di Montalcino?
Ed McCarthy
Jan 22, 2019

When we talk about Italy's best red wine, we are talking about one of the world's best red wines, because, in my opinion, only France can compete with Italy on this topic. France has great red wines--Bordeaux and Burgundy (some might also insist on France's Northern Rhône wines). Italy has Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino. And some friends of mine might argue that the Taurasi wines of Campania and Sicily's Nero d'Avola belong in the competition. Although I appreciate the Aglianico grape variety, especially as expressed in Taurasi wines, for me, Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino are clearly Italy's best red wines--especially when made by the best producers.

Champagne in Winter
Ed McCarthy
Dec 25, 2018

During the week of December 10th, I traveled to Champagne. An unusual time to visit, you might think, but I loved it. I have often visited the region in June or in the early autumn, along with the many other tourists, but this time we had Champagne to ourselves. The weather was cold--ranging from the mid-30° to mid-40°--but clear and invigorating. The main purpose for the visit was to say good-bye to a good friend, Richard Geoffroy, winemaker of Dom Pérignon for twenty-eight years, who is retiring at the end of December. His next venture will be making saké in Japan. We had an emotional meeting, and of course we tasted some Champagne Dom Pérignons to mark the occasion.

Two Great Proseccos: Carpené Malvolti and Nino Franco
Ed McCarthy
Nov 27, 2018

One of my first experiences with Prosecco occurred about 30 years ago, when I walked into a winery in Italy; I believe it was in Tuscany. I was handed a glass of Prosecco by the proprietor. I later learned that it was an Italian custom for wineries and some restaurants to greet visitors in this pleasant manner. Prosecco was practically unheard of then outside of Italy at that time. Today, Prosecco is the largest-selling sparkling wine in the United States, having surpassed Champagne about two years ago. Similar popularity of Prosecco has emerged in the UK and much of the rest of the wine-drinking world. How did Prosecco become so popular throughout the world in a relatively short time--in about twenty to thirty years?

The Great Bruno Giacosa Wines of Piedmont
Ed McCarthy
Oct 30, 2018

Bruno Giacosa achieved something no other Piedmontese winemaker has ever done: He attained top recognition for his wines from both Barolo and Barbaresco. For example, Angelo Gaja, who really put Barbaresco on the world wine map, has a couple of Barolos to his portfolio, but when we think of Gaja, we think of his Barbarescos. Most of the great Barolo producers--such as Giacomo Conterno, Bartolo Mascarello, and Giuseppe Rinaldi--didn't even bother with Barbaresco, or in Conterno's case, made a little in the past, but no longer. There are a few producers, such as Roagna, primarily known for its Barbarescos, who are now also seriously producing Barolos, but Roagna is not in the same exalted class as the master, Bruno Giacosa.

Champagne Palmer Comes to the U.S.
Ed McCarthy
Oct 2, 2018

In 1947, seven well-established growers in Champagne formed the most elite Champagne Co-operative in existence, and named it Palmer & Co. All of the grower-producers owned Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards in the Montagne de Reims. Their idea was to share their vineyards to produce the finest Champagnes that they could make. If you have not heard of Champagne Palmer, the reason is that it has been practically non-existent in the U.S. until this year. Palmer made its first appearance in the U.S. in 2015 when Gonzalez Byass, a great Sherry producer, imported it into the U.S. I like to think that I follow Champagne news carefully, but I was not even aware of Palmer being in the U.S. then. That all changed this year. Constellation Brands, the largest wine company in the U.S., acquired the exclusive to import and distribute Champagne Palmer. With Constellation's vast network of distributors, Champagne Palmer will now be available throughout the country.

Twelve Winemakers and Producers I Especially Admire
Ed McCarthy
Sep 4, 2018

I taught high school English in my early adult years, and during that time, I fell in love with wine. I read books and articles on wine, and attended wine courses. I knew I would devote the rest of my professional career to wine after I stopped teaching. I visited many of the leading wine regions in the world, where I was fortunate to receive first-hand information from countless winemakers. Here, I have chosen 12 winemakers and producers with whom I have been most impressed, and from whom I have learned much over the years. I tried to make it an even 10, but there's always one or two more. A few have passed away and quite a few others have now retired, but some are still active.

Caparone Winery: Cal-Ital Wines at their Best
Ed McCarthy
Aug 7, 2018

I know, I know…you've never heard of Caparone. Not many people have, including ardent wine lovers. Unless, that is, you happen to be a wine lover who lives in the Paso Robles region in the south-central coast of California, in which case you are probably already a customer.

22 Great Wines I Have Tasted in My Lifetime
Ed McCarthy
Jul 10, 2018

Recently, wine writer and VINOUS newsletter publisher Anthony Galloni wrote a column entitled, 'Ten Wines that Changed My Life.' It got me thinking about some of the truly great wines I have been privileged to tast-- and in some cases to enjoy the whole bottle. The main difference in the wines Galloni chose and my choices in this column is their age; because I am quite a bit older than Galloni, I have been able to taste many older wines--perhaps one of the few advantages of aging, at least for a wine lover! Also, Galloni might have been thinking of wines that for the most part are still available. I would not say that my 22 wines 'changed my life'; I had a deep interest in wine before I tasted them. But these 22 wines certainly gave me a deeper appreciation of how magical truly great wines can be, and these wines inspired me to become a wine writer.

Charles Krug: Napa Valley's Oldest Winery
Ed McCarthy
Jun 12, 2018

We often hear about the strong Italian immigrant presence in California's wine regions, but many Germans were pioneers as well. In fact, it was Charles Krug, born in Germany, who in 1861 founded Napa Valley's first winery, in St. Helena. The Charles Krug Winery also opened California's first tasting room in 1882; it is still thriving today, but now under different ownership. Cesare Mondavi, a successful grape buyer, was convinced by his elder son, Robert, to buy the then dormant Charles Krug Winery In 1943. It was Robert's dream to get out of the bulk wine business, then prevalent, and sell bottled wines. At that time, there were only about five serious commercial wineries in Napa Valley bottling wine: Beaulieu, Beringer, Christian Brothers, Inglenook, and Louis Martini. Robert and his younger brother Peter went on to turn Charles Krug into a highly successful winery

Dalla Valle: Napa Valley Royalty
Ed McCarthy
May 15, 2018

Dalla Valle's back-story is fascinating. The winery was founded in 1982 by Italian-born Gustav Dalla Valle and his Japanese-born wife, Naoko Dalla Valle. Naoko met Gustave Dalla Valle in the late 1970s. They married and moved to Napa Valley, where they intended to open a resort and a restaurant. Gustave's family had long traditions of winemaking in Italy and Naoko's family had been sake makers. The couple quickly realized that the land they purchased, on a westward-facing hillside east of Oakville, was ideally suited for planting wine grapes. They purchased 10 additional acres of contiguous land in 1986 and planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

The 2016 Bouchard Père & Fils Burgundies
Ed McCarthy
Mar 20, 2018

Having heard that the 2016 vintage in Burgundy was a disaster because of early frost and mildew, I was not exactly excited about attending Bouchard's comprehensive tasting of both its red and white 2016 Burgundies. I had momentarily forgotten that a disastrous vintage for the growers--and the Burgundy merchants--actually meant that there will be a shortage of 2016 wines available on the market. Those grapes from 2016 that were harvested and vinified, at least by Bouchard, really turned out very well. In fact, a short harvest in Burgundy is often a blessing for consumers; only the best grapes are harvested, and the cool spring climate provides us with concentrated grapes.

The 2013 Barolos
Ed McCarthy
Feb 20, 2018

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to taste 15 Barolos from the 2013 vintage. The year delivered a cool growing season in the Langhe area of Piedmont (Langhe is the region around the town of Alba where all the Barolo vineyards are located). It was a late harvest, but with a sunny, temperate September and early October, allowing the grapes to be picked in mid-October, which is always good for the very late ripening Nebbiolo variety (Barolo is always 100 percent Nebbiolo, by law). I'll relay some comments from three leading wine experts, and then offer my opinion, followed by reviews of the 15 Barolos.

Aging and Serving Wine
Ed McCarthy
Jan 23, 2018

Have you ever opened a bottle of fine wine, poured it, and thought, 'This doesn't taste so good'? I have that feeling many times. It happens to me frequently because, as a wine writer, I taste wine samples sent to me every week, in addition to whatever wines I happen to be buying. I have come to the conclusion that lots of newly opened wines need aeration to show at their best, particularly young wines.

Rosé Champagne
Ed McCarthy
Dec 26, 2017

Rosé Champagnes have become enormously popular in the U.S. Many Americans have finally realized that Rosé Champagnes are dry, just as are virtually all other Champagnes. The category accounts for 15 percent of all Champagnes sold in the U.S. today. This is a huge amount considering the fact that Rosé Champagnes make up less than 5 percent of the entire Champagne production, and a testament to the fact that American consumers have embraced them enthusiastically.

Bordeaux: The 2013 Vintage
Ed McCarthy
Nov 28, 2017

The 2013 vintage was a challenging, uneven vintage in Bordeaux, due to the weather. A cold, wet spring affected the flowering, and led to the smallest grape production in over 25 years. The crop of early-ripening Merlot grapes was especially small, particularly on the Left Bank. The vintage was saved from disaster by a very warm July and August. September had uneven weather, with heavy rains towards the end. In general, the Right Bank, especially the better properties in St.-Émilion and Pomerol, were the best areas in 2013 for red Bordeaux. The wines are softer and more drinkable than most of the highly acidic wines on the Left Bank--although St.-Estèphe, receiving less rain than the other Haut-Médoc districts, fared quite well on the Left Bank. As usual the well-established Châteaux with more resources available to deal with difficult vintages generally performed the best in 2013.

Super-Premium Champagnes: A New Category?
Ed McCarthy
Oct 31, 2017

Does the wine world need super-premium Champagnes, which by the category name itself suggest 'expensive'? Champagne lovers apparently think so, because these elite Champagnes, made in small quantities, are selling well. Strictly speaking, Super-Premiums are not a new category, but an evolving category that has been growing larger. Only a few super-premium Champagnes currently exist, but more are coming this year, and even more in the near future. How often have you heard someone say, 'I just had a bottle of Dom Pérignon (or Cristal) and I didn't think it was so great.' I hear this all the time, and my answer is always the same: 'You probably drank it too soon; these prestige Champagnes need to be aged for quite a few years to develop and mature.' To solve this problem, some of the top Champagne houses are doing something about it; they are aging a small quantity of their better Champagnes for you, and releasing them to the market when they reach their peak of maturity.

Nebbiolo: A Unique Red Grape Variety
Ed McCarthy
Oct 3, 2017

Many red grape varieties, especially the important ones such as Cabernet Sauvignon, thrive in wine regions throughout the world. Even Pinot Noir, admittedly a difficult variety to handle that excels in its home region, Burgundy, has produced quality wines in other regions, such as the Sonoma Coast. But Nebbiolo, the variety that makes Piedmont's superb Barolo and Barbaresco wines, stubbornly resists attempts to perform well outside of its home, Piedmont.

France's Best Value Red: Cru Beaujolais
Ed McCarthy
Sep 5, 2017

The Beaujolais district lies directly south of Burgundy's famed Côte d'Or and the Macon district, and north of the Rhône Valley. Beaujolais is technically a part of France's Burgundy region, but its wines are completely different from Burgundy. Red Burgundy brings the Pinot Noir variety to its greatest heights, but nowhere else in the world does the Gamay variety perform as well as it does in Beaujolais. While Burgundy has out-priced itself the average consumer to buy, we can still buy the best Beaujolais at affordable prices.

Non-Vintage Champagnes: My Recommendations
Ed McCarthy
Aug 8, 2017

Commercial wine production would not exist in the Champagne region of northeast France without Non-Vintage Champagnes. Historically, the region has been too cold to produce large quantities of 'Vintage' Champagne every year. It is true that in the last 20 years, global warming has enabled the production of more vintage Champagnes than before, but still not enough for the entire world to enjoy. Actually, non-vintage Champagne is a misnomer; 'multi-vintage' would be more accurate. NV Champagne, as it is called, is largely a blended wine--of several vintages and many different vineyards.

Dom Pérignon: The Incomparable Champagne
Ed McCarthy
Jul 11, 2017

Eight years have passed since I wrote my last column on Dom Pérignon for Wine Review Online. After a recent visit two weeks ago to the historic Hautvillers Abbey of the Benedictine monk, Dom Pierre Pérignon--now owned by LVMH, the parent company of Moët & Chandon--it is time to write another column on arguably the world's most renowned wine, and certainly its most famous Champagne. Let's get out of the way a question that I hear often about DP (as it is called): 'Isn't it overrated'? My answer is a distinct, "No, it is not overrated, but you might be drinking it too soon."

Marchesi de' Frescobaldi: A Tuscan Legend
Ed McCarthy
Jun 13, 2017

The Frescobaldi family is one of the oldest wine families in Italy---if not the oldest. As far back as the 11th century, the family had vineyards planted in Castigioni, in the Chianti Fiorentini area. By the 12th century, the Frescobaldis were established as a leading noble family in Florence, first as cloth merchants, and later as bankers and financiers. Members of the Frescobaldi family actually started making wine in 1308. Today, Frescobaldi winery is headed by President Marchese Lamberto Frescobaldi; hIs uncle, Leonardo Frescobaldi, retired as President in 2013. The two family members best-known in U.S. wine circles have been Leonardo and Marchesa Tiziana Frescobaldi, Head of Communications at the winery.

Wente Vineyards: California Pioneer
Ed McCarthy
May 16, 2017

California's wine industry is not nearly as old as those in European wine countries, but a few current California wineries that were founded more than 100 years ago do exist, and Wente Vineyards is one of those pioneers. The unique difference with Wente Vineyards is that its home is not in Napa Valley, but in the Livermore Valley, 40 miles east of San Francisco.

Oregon Pinot Noirs
Ed McCarthy
Apr 18, 2017

When I first began following Oregon's Pinot Noirs, there were probably fewer than 10 wineries in the Willamette (pronounced, wil LAM ette) Valley, the state's primary wine region. Now there are over 500 wineries in the Valley, and the number grows every year. The Willamette Valley celebrated its 50th anniversary, 1966, as an official wine region just last year. But the Valley really began its Pinot Noir wine boom in the 1980s, with two great vintages, 1983 and 1985. In fact, almost all of the wineries in the Willamette Valley in northwestern Oregon, south of Portland--were established in the last 40 years, with a few pioneers leading the way in the early 1970s.

Champagne Louis Roederer
Ed McCarthy
Mar 22, 2017

I have been closely following Champagne for many decades, both from the glass and from about 20 visits to the Champagne region, and I have come to the conclusion that Champagne Louis Roederer is indeed one of the greatest Champagne houses of all. Its Prestige Cuvées, Cristal and Cristal Rosé, are arguably two of the best Champagnes being made today. Louis Roederer, a medium-sized Champagne house, now produces over 3.5 million bottles of Champagne annually (an increase in about one million bottles since I wrote Champagne for Dummies in 1999), and its Champagnes are exported to over 100 countries. The U.S. is one of its main markets, and clearly leads the world in importing Louis Roederer Cristal.

A Look at 2012 Barolos
Ed McCarthy
Feb 21, 2017

I recently attended a tasting of 15 Barolos from the 2012 vintage, with the winemakers or family members presenting their wines, and I was impressed with the overall quality of the vintage. The occasion was Antonio Galloni's annual "La Festa del Barolo" tasting in New York. The climate in 2012 in the Barolo region was relatively cool. I compare the 2012s with the 2008s, another cool vintage that I really enjoy drinking. Consumers will love the 2012 Barolos for several reasons: they are delicious, and drinkable even now; they will not be overly expensive; and they are available now, especially in the U.S., Barolo's best import market--even though they are generally sold out in Piedmont.

The Grand Crus of Chablis
Ed McCarthy
Jan 24, 2017

Because it's the most northerly district of Burgundy, Chablis invariably experiences the coolest climate in the Burgundy region. The vintage date is especially important in Chablis, particularly now with global warming. Relatively cool vintages are becoming the stars. The cool 2014 vintage, now available, is amazingly good! I was fortunate enough to attend a 2014 Vintage Grands Crus tasting recently in New York, presented by the Union des Grands Crus de Chablis, and I was stunned by the excellence of the wines. The last vintage in Chablis that compared in quality to 2014 occurred 18 years ago, with the superb 1996 vintage.

Three Great Champagnes: Bruno Paillard, Alfred Gratien, and Ruinart
Ed McCarthy
Dec 27, 2016

There are so many great Champagnes existing today, but sadly, most wine drinkers living outside of the Champagne region in France are not so familiar with these Champagnes. In the U.S.A.--and indeed across most of the world--two Champagne giants dominate wine sales: Moët & Chandon (including its famous prestige cuvée, Dom Pérignon), and Veuve Clicquot,both part of the huge LVMH empire. Both of these Houses make fine Champagnes. But there are so many more excellent producers that one must ask: Shouldn't every Champagne lover try different wines now and then? Given that the phrase 'every Champagne lover' applies to almost everyone, I hope you'll join me in focusing on three of my favorites: Bruno Paillard, Alfred Gratien and Ruinart.

Profile: Angelo Gaja
Ed McCarthy
Nov 29, 2016

During a recent short trip to Piedmont in northwest Italy, I visited four of my favorite wineries. I was going to write about them together, but decided that each of these Italian wine icons deserves his own column, and undoubtedly Angelo Gaja needs a book to tell his full story. I could have entitled this column 'Mr. Barbaresco,' because I can think of no other wine region in which one man has singlehandedly popularized a great wine and its entire wine region.

Lugana: One of Italy's Best White Wine Regions
Ed McCarthy
Nov 1, 2016

Lake Como is probably Italy's most renowned lake, but Lake Garda (Lago di Garda), in north-central Italy, is almost three times as large (143 square miles) as Lake Como and is just as beautiful. Both lakes are popular summer resorts, but the Lake Garda region is not as pricey as Lake Como. Moreover, Lake Garda is close to many wine regions, such as Lugana, (directly south of Lake Garda, in Lombardy province), with Veneto and its great city of Verona to the east--including its Soave, Valpolicella, and Bardolino wine regions.

Champagne Piper-Heidsieck Debuts Its New Prestige Cuvée
Ed McCarthy
Oct 4, 2016

The venerable Champagne house, Piper-Heidsieck, founded in 1785, has just released a new Prestige Cuvée, Rare Rosé 2007, which now joins its sister prestige cuvée, Piper-Heidsieck Rare. This follows the tradition of many major Champagne houses that offer both a white and rosé Prestige Cuvée. The boom in rosé wine sales has dictated this change for Piper-Heidsieck . Rosé wines, including Champagnes, are now enjoying greater popularity than ever before.

Affordable White Burgundies
Ed McCarthy
Sep 6, 2016

I find it extraordinary that, after collecting wines all of my adult life, I still feel the need to buy more wines. It's not that I'm addicted to buying wine, or at least I don't think it's that. I just don't own enough white wines. Call it 'poor planning' on my part, or the mistaken belief in my youth (that's under 55 to me) that only fine red wines can age. Now I know better, and so I seek out white wines to buy. My taste in white wines primarily favors French and Italian white wines, with notable exceptions such as Greece's Santorini wines from the Assyrtiko variety. In other words, I prefer crisp, dry whites from cool climates that have acidity and verve. In this column, I will concentrate on French white Burgundies.

Personal Wine Collecting Tips
Ed McCarthy
Aug 9, 2016

This column marks my 10th year anniversary of writing for Wine Review Online. I thought it would be an appropriate time to reveal some of the mistakes I made collecting wine over the past several decades, so that you perhaps can avoid my errors. You might be saying to yourself that you will never collect so many wines. And to that I will answer, 'You never know.' In my '20s, I had about 30 wines in my collection, resting in three small, portable wine racks in my home office. Even by the time I reached 30, I probably owned no more than 50 bottles. But look what happened to me...at its height, my collection numbered nearly 3,400 wines.

Another Oregon-Burgundy Marriage: Nicolas-Jay
Ed McCarthy
Jun 14, 2016

Continuing a trend in Oregon's short history as a premium source of excellent Pinot Noir, another leading winery from Burgundy, Domaine Méo-Camuzet, has come to Willamette Valley to produce a new Pinot Noir, named Nicolas-Jay. I recently had the pleasure of tasting Nicolas-Jay's first offerings, three different Oregon Pinot Noirs at three different price points, ranging from $65 retail to $125.

Two Great Champagne Houses: Gosset and Henriot
Ed McCarthy
May 24, 2016

While I was teaching--in an earlier life--I used to work part-time in a local wine shop, to feed my growing passion for wine. I quickly noticed that customers usually selected wines whose names they were familiar with; this was especially true with Champagne. In the New York metro area, Veuve Clicquot's 'Yellow Label' ruled, along with Moêt & Chandon (and its prestige cuvée, Dom Pérignon). I knew that Moêt & Chandon was by far the world's leading Champagne brand in sales, followed by Veuve Clicquot, and so I was not surprised. But I was disappointed that so many other very fine Champagne producers were apparently unknown by most consumers, and took on a personal campaign to familiarize customers with Champagne producers that I respected. Among the many producers, two of my favorite Champagne houses have always been Gosset and Henriot, both similar in style.

Heitz Cellar's Martha's Vineyard Cabernet: A California Icon
Ed McCarthy
Apr 26, 2016

The term 'Icon' is badly over-used nowadays--in the wine world and elsewhere. But the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that Heitz Wine Cellars makes from 'Martha's Vineyard' truly is iconic because it was recognized from the beginning, in 1966, and continues, 50 years later, to be one of the very few outstanding California red wines every year. Other wines come into fashion for a while, but their reputation slowly fades with time. Yet, who can deny that Heitz Cellar Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon still stands out as one of the superb wines produced in California? I certainly can't, after tasting six vintages of the wine going back to 1978, and remembering how I was struck by its greatness from its earliest vintages in the late1960s and 1970s.

Chappellet: Fine Wines, Great Prices
Ed McCarthy
Mar 29, 2016

Don't you get tired of seeing the latest 'elite' California wine producer debut its brand-new wine at a retail price of $200 or more? It has become such a common occurrence--and not only in Napa Valley, but also in other parts of California--that I hardly pay attention to it any more (nor to the wines, for that matter). This is the reason I'm singing the praises of Chappellet Winery right now. I just finished tasting through its wines, and its most expensive wine retails for $59, with most of its wines well below that figure; in fact, they start in the $20 range.

My Favorite West Coast Pinot Noirs
Ed McCarthy
Mar 1, 2016

Some of my Burgundy-loving friends do not accept the idea that excellent Pinot Noirs wines can be made outside of Burgundy. And yet I find it possible--even with Pinot Noir being such a difficult variety to work with--that the grape can be made into fine wines in certain other limited terroirs around the world. True, these wines are not the same as Burgundy. How could they be, when the grapes are grown in a different area? But they still can be very good Pinot Noir wines. I am particularly fond of some Pinot Noirs from California's Sonoma County, and a few from Oregon's Willamette Valley. My first love of Sonoma Pinot Noirs began with wines I discovered in Russian River Valley, starting with those of the iconic Joseph Swan about 30 years ago, and my affection for RRV Pinot Noirs continues with today's great wineries there, such as Littorai.

M by Michael Mondavi
Ed McCarthy
Feb 2, 2016

In 1999, Michael Mondavi, his wife Isabel, and their two adult children, Rob and Dina, purchased Animo Vineyard in the Atlas Peak region of eastern Napa Valley, with the vision of producing their own wines. At that time, Michael was still running Robert Mondavi Winery, along with his brother, Tim. Five years later, Constellation Brands became the owners of Robert Mondavi Winery (in 2004), allowing Michael to concentrate on his own endeavor, officially called Michael Mondavi Family Estate, but usually referred to by its primary wine, M by Michael Mondavi. Brother Tim formed his own winery, Continuum, in St. Helena, Napa Valley. The great Robert Mondavi, family icon, passed away in 2006 at the age of 94.

Alsace: Home to a Great Riesling Producer
Ed McCarthy
Feb 2, 2016

The Trimbach family has owned a winery in Alsace since 1626, for 13 generations. After World War II, the winery moved to Ribeauvillé, just north of Riquewihr, the picturesque center of the Alsace region, where the winery was first established. Brothers Bernard and Hubert Trimbach are still actively involved in Maison Trimbach, but day to day operations are now in the hands of Bernard's two sons, Pierre, the winemaker, and Jean, who runs the business end. Besides Pinot Noir, Trimbach produces six types of white wine: Riesling (four different ones); Gewurztraminer (three); Pinot Gris (four); Pinot Blanc, Muscat, and Sylvaner. Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris are its three most important wines. But it is Trimbach's Riesling that has earned the winery its world-wide recognition.

Top Prestige Cuvée Champagnes
Ed McCarthy
Jan 5, 2016

Every December a group of New York area wine writers gather to taste some currently released Champagnes. On this occasion, we decided to look into Prestige Cuvées. Currently most major Champagne Houses and a few Grower-Producers make at least one Tête de Cuvée--as they are called in France. Prestige Cuvées are a Champagne producer's finest Champagne: They are made from the best grapes from the choicest vineyards available to the producer; they are often aged three or more years longer than the producer's other Champagnes; and they are almost always made from the two finest grape varieties in the Champagne region, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (Krug is the rare exception, using Pinot Meunier in many of its great Champagnes).

Some Top Non-Vintage Brut Champagnes
Ed McCarthy
Dec 8, 2015

Last week, the Wine Media Guild, a wine writers' group in New York, enjoyed their Holiday tasting/luncheon accompanied by 26 NV Brut Champagnes. I had chosen the Champagnes, putting together some renowned Champagnes with lesser-known bubblies, including some grower-producer Champagnes. Non-Vintage Bruts are by far the largest category of Champagnes, comprising about 87 percent of all Champagnes. Included in the group of 26 were some NV Blanc de Blancs, a growing category.

Bella Union: Another Chapter in the Far Niente Saga
Ed McCarthy
Nov 10, 2015

Bella Union Winery, the latest venture of the Far Niente team, was founded in 2012. Its winery is located on a 25-acre Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard along Bella Oaks Lane. The vineyard is in a renowned Cabernet Sauvignon growing area known since the 1880s, in the heart of what is now Rutherford. Back in the 1880s, Bella Oaks Lane was a dirt road called Bella Union Roadway, which led to the Bella Union Mining Company in the Mayacamas Mountains. Hence, the name of the winery, Bella Union. You might be wondering why the Far Niente/Nickel & Nickel Wineries need another Cabernet Sauvignon. The logic is: One should never pass up a chance to buy a great Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in Napa Valley.

Priorat Takes Center Stage in Spain
Ed McCarthy
Oct 13, 2015

A recent wine news article caught my attention. In a blind tasting of over 1,000 red wines that took place in China, a wine from Priorat (a.k.a. Priorato), the 2009 Clos Abella (producer, Marco Abella), took first place. I was highly skeptical of these results at first--until I discovered that seven of the 14 tasters were Masters of Wine, including the formidable Jancis Robinson. And as luck would have it, I also had the opportunity to taste the first place winner a couple of weeks ago. You might wonder why I was so skeptical when I heard the news. After all, Priorat is now recognized as a fine red wine region. But to win first place--beating out wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône Valley, Barolo, and Napa Valley, to name some of the most renowned red wine regions--was hard to believe.

Rosés Are Still Sparkling
Ed McCarthy
Sep 15, 2015

The other day my local wine merchant told me that almost half of his wine sales this summer came from rosé wines, both still and sparkling. How things have changed! As late as the 1990s, rosés made up a very small percentage of wine sales. The figures for rosé Champagne sales were astoundingly low; they comprised between 2 and 3 percent of all Champagne sales at that time. Today, rosé Champagne sales have quadrupled, to 10 percent of all Champagne sales, and are still rising every year. The change in the popularity of rosé wines, still and sparkling, began to take place around the turn of the century. No one knows for sure why it happened.

Another Champagne Widow Makes Her Mark at Duval-Leroy
Ed McCarthy
Jul 21, 2015

Champagne, like most businesses, including wine, has been traditionally run by the male of the species. And yet there always are exceptions. Carol Duval-Leroy is the CEO and owner of Champagne Duval-Leroy, a prestigious Champagne House located in the village of Vertus on the Côte des Blancs--the heart of the best Chardonnay vineyards in Champagne, if not the world. Champagne Duval-Leroy has been a family-owned business since 1859. Additionally, the Chef de Caves (head winemaker) is Sandrine Logette-Jardin, a position she has held since 2006, when Sandrine--then only 37--became the first female chef de caves in the Champagne region. And so, unusually, Champagne Duval-Leroy is really run by women.

Oregon, Home of Fine Wines…Especially Pinots
Ed McCarthy
Jun 23, 2015

It has occurred to me that Oregon really specializes in fine wines. Oregon is not the place to look for under $12 wines, readily found in the other big-production wine states, such as California, Washington, and New York. But neither is Oregon the place to look for prestigious 'status' wines costing well over $100, such as you can easily find in Napa Valley. Oregon's most famous and highest-production wine, Pinot Noir, primarily ranges in price from $25 to $55, with many falling in the $35 to $45 price tier, and with a few Reserve Pinot Noirs over $55.

Is Prosecco the New Champagne?
Ed McCarthy
Apr 28, 2015

Prosecco, an appealing, low-priced, sparkling wine, with a fresh taste reminiscent of Golden Delicious apples, has become amazingly popular, especially when served by the glass, with or without food appetizers. Nevertheless, even though I specialize in sparkling wines, the main reason I have not written about Prosecco is that so many others have written about this wine, including two of my colleagues at Wine Review Online (the two Michaels, Apstein and Franz, within the last year and a half). What new information could I add to the subject of Prosecco? But then I read that for the first time Prosecco had outsold Champagne in the U.S. last year.

French Wines Under the Radar
Ed McCarthy
Mar 30, 2015

France is the most renowned country for fine wines in the world--with many famous wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy (including Chablis and Beaujolais), the Rhône Valley, and Champagne. France, along with Italy, for some time has been the world's largest producer of wine--although production figures are not as huge as they were just two decades ago, in either country. You would think that wine lovers would have discovered all of the great wines of France by now, but this is not so. Many fine French wines have remained relatively unknown. The advantage for the wine lover is that you can still buy these wines at reasonable prices.

Barolo's Stunning 2010 Vintage
Ed McCarthy
Mar 3, 2015

By now, the word is out. Barolo wines are extraordinary in 2010. I confirmed this with a recent tasting in the Festa del Barolo event featuring 15 outstanding Barolos, and with other 2010 Barolos I have tasted. Wine writer Antonio Galloni, sponsor of the event--which took place at The Four Seasons Restaurant in New York--stated that this tasting was probably the greatest collection of Barolo producers and their top Barolos ever on one stage, and he was probably right.

The Many Benefits of Half Bottles
Ed McCarthy
Feb 3, 2015

I am a big fan of the half-bottle for wine, including Champagne. And yet, this super-efficient bottle size is seriously under-utilized in many wine shops and restaurants throughout the U.S. Most of the wine shops I frequent offer a negligible selection of wines in half-bottles. In restaurants, it's even worse; many so-called fine restaurants offer no half-bottles at all. They usually have many wines by the glass, and are happy when you select a wine or wines by the glass. Restaurants make the most profit selling wine-by-the glass; that's an irrefutable fact. For a little more money, you could choose a fresher tasting, larger-quantity half bottle if it were available. Moreover, when that little bottle is opened beside your table, you'll avoid a big problem that always accompanies ordering wine by the glass, namely: Who knows how long the by-the-glass bottle has been open?

Great, Undiscovered Barolos and Barbarescos
Ed McCarthy
Jan 6, 2015

One of the best happenings in the world of wine that has taken place during my lifetime is that wine lovers have discovered the wonders of Barolo and Barbaresco--as well as Brunello di Montalcino. When I first became serious about wine, only two red wines dominated the market: Bordeaux and Burgundy. A small group of white wine lovers appreciated fine Rieslings of Germany (as well as white Burgundy), and dessert wine buffs loved Vintage Port, but that was it. When I first traveled to Italy's Piedmont region some 30+ years ago, I was astounded by the wines (and food) of this region, and became an immediate convert--not only of Barolo and Barbaresco, but also of the region's other, less renowned wines.

Leclerc Briant Champagne Returns to the U.S.
Ed McCarthy
Dec 2, 2014

Leclerc Briant, a small, excellent, négociant Champagne House first started exporting its Champagnes to the U.S. in the 1970s, but the time was not right for small producers in the United States at that point. The U.S. Champagne market was dominated by a few huge producers; it still is today, but at least small, lesser-known producers are making progress in the U.S. now, with a better-informed populace of wine consumers. Leclerc Briant first-re-appeared in the U.S. in a small way in California in 2011. Today, Leclerc Briant is on the East Coast again, in various markets, including the Metro New York area.

Louis Roederer's New Champagnes
Ed McCarthy
Nov 4, 2014

Champagne Louis Roederer does not release new Champagnes very often--the last new Roederer Champagne was its first Cristal Rosé, the 1974--and so it's a big occasion when a new product debuts from this august Champagne House. Frédéric Rouzard, owner (or as he says, custodian), jokingly said to me in a recent interview that each Rouzard generation releases a new Champagne every 40 years. As his father, Jean-Claude Rouzard, introduced the Cristal Rosé 40 years ago, it was now Frédéric's turn. The Rouzards are direct descendants of Louis Roederer on the maternal side, and so Champagne Louis Roederer is a family-owned business. The House was founded in 1776 by the Dubois family; Louis Roederer took over in 1833, and changed the house's name to his own.

A Visit to Champagne
Ed McCarthy
Oct 7, 2014

The Champagne region in France is my favorite wine region in the world--along with Italy's Piedmont region. For the past 30 years, I have visited Champagne dozens of times. In addition to the fact that I love Champagne, I am singularly impressed with the way the Champenois greet visitors. They have refined the art of good hosting. I recently visited Champagne as a guest of the CIVC. I visited 11 Champagne producers during my week's stay in the region--eight négociant houses and three grower-producers. I discuss five of the producers here, one grower and four Champagne houses.

A Great, New Book on Barolo and Barbaresco
Ed McCarthy
Sep 9, 2014

My love for Barolo and Barbaresco is the reason that I welcomed the opportunity to review a new book by Kerin O'Keefe: Barolo and Barbaresco, The King and Queen of Italian Wine, which will be published by the University of California Press on October 17th, 2014. It is one of the very few books written solely about Barolo and Barbaresco by an American wine writer. I first met Kerin O'Keefe at a wine conference in Tuscany about eight years ago. At that time, I was totally impressed with her knowledge of and passion for Italian wines--and my first impression grew stronger as I got to know her better.

Italy's Exceptional, Less-Known White Wines
Ed McCarthy
Aug 12, 2014

Italy has traditionally been known in the wine world mainly for its red wines. Throughout the 1970s to the 1990s, Italy produced about two-thirds red wine to one-third white. Well, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, the times they are a-changing! Two years ago, in 2012, Italian white wines out-produced Italian red and rosé wines for the first time in Italy's history: 51 percent (white) to 49 percent red/rosé. In 2013, Italian white wines accounted for 53 percent of Italy's wines, with red and rosé at 47 percent of the total.