Many members of the Mondavi Family have been involved in the California wine industry for generations. Their two largest and best-known wineries are Charles Krug, part of the Peter Mondavi family, and the Robert Mondavi Winery, which was started by Peter’s brother Robert. While these are tentpoles in Napa Valley, various Mondavi family members have started and maintained all sorts of other projects of varying scope One of those projects is Aloft,. created by Marc Mondavi and his family. Marc, one of Peter’s sons, conceived this wine with the help of his wife and daughters. All of the fruit comes from their own Cold Springs Vineyard, which sits on Howell Mountain in Napa Valley. I recently sat down with Marc’s daughter Alycia and tasted the 2009 vintage of Aloft. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
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Over the last decade the Paso Robles region in California has really emerged as a resource for excellent wines. Paso contains a number of distinct sub-regions and very wide arrays of different grapes thrive there. Producers of all sizes are making interesting wines. Clayhouse Vineyard is a producer I’ve been familiar with for a number of years now. As a whole they make wines that are well priced, full of character and available around the country. Here’s a look at 5 current releases that I heartily recommend. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
There are literally hundreds of ways to taste wine in Napa Valley. The classic tried and true way is to bump up to the bar and enjoy a range of current offerings. Napa started doing that way back when and allowed Vintners to showcase their wares. The idea was and still is that if you liked one or more of their wines you’d take some home to enjoy later. At most wineries you can still do this. Many tasting rooms, all over now, also offer additional ways to enjoy wine. This can be as simple as a wine and cheese pairing or as involved as a helicopter flight to a mountain top tasting. Round Pond Estate has chosen to allow guests to enjoy the bounty of their property and all that encompasses in a number of ways. Depending on how much time you want to commit and what parts of Round Pond you’d like to see you can spend as little as half an hour there, or as much as a day. For my recent visit I cut it right down the middle and spent more than 2 hours there. My guest and I took part in Round Pond’s Il Pranzo Lunch ($120). Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
If you’re not sure what to get someone as a gift this year, consider a good bottle of wine or spirits —‚ always in season. Anyone who drinks alcohol will certainly appreciate a well-chosen bottle to enjoy, be it alone or with friends (my hope is that it’s with you). Throughout the year, I’ve tasted a number of the best bottles in both the wine and spirit categories and compiled a list of my 24 favorites — any of which would make excellent gifts for a variety of budgets. A few of the bottles are particularly great values, while others are luxury beverages that will really impress the lucky person who receives them; no matter the price, every selection in this guide is delicious and well made. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
It’s a lot of fun to discover a musician or band at the very beginning of their career, before they’re a household name. If you do that, when they achieve success it’s likely you’ll feel a stronger connection than in the case when you stumble across an already well known artist because you heard all their hits. In essence, that’s how I feel about the wines of Viña Koyle. I’ve had the pleasure of drinking them since their first vintage. That has given me the opportunity to watch them grow. The vines have aged and already good wines have gotten better one vintage after another. Winemaker Cristóbal Undurraga is constantly tinkering and refining his winemaking approach, adding varietals to blends, using new techniques, and launching new wines. I’ve had the opportunity to taste his wines with him on numerous occasions and each encounter has been a treat. In part that’s because the wines are really, really good, yet still improving all the time. However, it’s also because the raw passion Cristóbal has for winemaking is palpable the moment you encounter him. Whether he’s speaking about sustainable and biodynamic farming practices, aging wine.... Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Wine shelves all over the country are jammed with countless selections and choices are so varied it can be dizzying. With that in mind, I’m here to help you work your way through the haze of bottles. I tasted through more than three dozen wines across all price ranges and stylistic tiers, and here are my 11 favorites from the bunch. Hugel et Fils 2012 Gentil ($15)
This vintage of “Gentil” blends together pinot gris (23 percent), pinot blanc (21 percent), riesling (20 percent), sylvaner (20 percent), gewurztraminer (14 percent), and muscat (2 percent). Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled vats. It was gently fined and filtered prior to bottling. Lychee fruit aromas dominate the inviting nose of this French blend. “Gentil” has a palate stuffed with white and yellow melon, peach, and apricot flavors. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
For me personally, when it comes to spirits I look for something I can sip neat. The purity of each style’s expression appeals to me. While I take the time and make the effort to mix cocktails when the mood, I’m far more likely to drink them neat or simply sip the on the rocks. By filling a bar with spirits I enjoy solo, I know that the cocktails I mix with them will have a delicious result--t’s a lot like the axiom about not cooking with wine you wouldn’t want to drink. After recently tasting through a bunch of spirits that came across my desk, here are my 6 current favorites that will keep you warm with the nip of fall in the air. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
When you take all the different grapes and styles into account, the diversity coming out of Italy can make your head spin with delight. Despite the variety, Barolo and Barbera remain among the most recognizable. Attilio Ghisolfi features both of those, and more, in their portfolio. The original nine acres of land that Attilio Ghisolfi farms for their wines have been in the family since 1895. However, it wasn’t until 1988 when they added another 21 acres that they began to make wine under their own label. I sat down recently over lunch at Arno in Manhattan and tasted through both their current offerings and a handful of older Library releases. Here’s a look at a few of my favorites. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Agricole Vallone, which is comprised of 420 acres, was founded almost 80 years ago. It sits in Brindisi, which is part of the Salento Peninsula. The estate is comprised of three distinct vineyards, within which are both newly planted vines and blocks of plantings that date back as far as the winery’s beginnings in the 1930s. Here’s a peek at the current vintage of their most prized and sought-after wine. The Agricole Vallone 2009 Graticciaia was produced from fruit sourced in Brindisi on the Salento Peninsula (IGP). This wine was made entirely from negroamaro. The fruit came from a 10-hectare parcel that features vines 70 to 80 years old. After being hand-harvested and selected, the grapes are dried on racks. Once they have... Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
There was a time when Chile wasn’t known for producing ultra-premium wines. Budget-friendly offerings were the calling card. While there are now copious examples of great high-end wines coming out of Chile, it was one wine that started the sea change. Concha y Toro produces a diverse and widely scoped range of wines, something for virtually everyone. One of those wines is the Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon, which was introduced with the 1987 Vintage. In doing so Don Melchor quite literally started a new wave of high end wine production in Chile. Lucky for us in the U.S., many of these ultra-premium wines have now reached our shores. And lucky for me I sat down recently with their winemaker, Enrique Tirado, to sample four vintages of this wine. They went as far back as 1995 and up to 2009. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the Rest.
If you’re a regular wine drinker and, like most of us, operating on some sort of budget, Rodney Strong Vineyards is a name you should know. They are one of Sonoma County’s most important wineries, if you ask me; perhaps that seems like a bold statement, but the evidence backs it up. Year after year they provide consistent quality and often over-deliver on value for the price in question for a specific bottle of wine. Add the fact that they do this in numerous price tiers from the $10 range all the way up to wines in the $75 range. And as importantly as any of that, they dependably turn out wines that are emblematic of their home in Sonoma County. Here’s a look at a number of their current releases from several tiers in their portfolio. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Summer is coming to a close way too fast. The end of summer is a bit like a freight train coming down the tracks; it seems to pick up speed the closer it gets. Instead of decrying the arrival of fall, focus on enjoying the rest of the warm weather we have left. One way to do that is to hang out with good friends, good food, and delicious wine. I tasted through some wines from Four Vines that I found to be quite tasty as well as budget-friendly. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
At a recent tasting in New York City, a wide array of Hungarian wines were on display. Most wine lovers who have any familiarity with Hungarian wines probably think of dessert wines first, and for good reason; they make some of the best examples in the world. However there are plenty of dry wines, both white and red, being produced in Hungary that are more than worth diving into. The assortment includes both selections made from indigenous varieties and international grapes. I sampled 35 or so wines that day, which really ran the gamut of diversity. As interesting and good as some of those produced from international varieties were, my favorites were from grapes that are either native to Hungary or thrive there in particular. Five wines stood out to me above the rest: Head over to The Daily Meal to read The Rest.
Petit verdot is one of those grapes the average wine drinker doesn’t think of too often. Usually it shows up in Bordeaux-style blends as a complementary player to cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and the like. When I talk to winemakers, they often mention that in those blends a little petit verdot goes a long way. So in the rare instance when one is bottled as a single varietal offering it could well be worth paying attention. That was the case with one from Chile that I recently drank. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Whiskey comes in all shapes and sizes. Some people are avowed bourbon drinkers, while others swear by Scotch. Personally I love them both, it just depends what I’m in the mood for, in a particular moment in time. Life is all about context after all. Comparing the similarities and distinctions between bourbon and Scotch is as inspiring to whiskey lovers as contrasting a Napa cabernet with a fine Bordeaux is to a wine lover. One of the things that make bourbon so appealing is the wide array of small batch offerings appearing on our shelves. There are distillers popping up all over the country making interesting examples of bourbon. Many of the large distillers also have a small batch program whose focus is on specific lots produced in limited quantities. I just tasted one that’s part of the Jim Beam family of whiskies and it left a strong impression on me. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
If you love wine, you’ll notice that more and more often specific sub-regions are being listed on the label. And well beyond that, single vineyards are often highlighted. In some cases these vineyards become famous and take on a life of their own with numerous producers sourcing fruit from them. Single vineyard designated wines are quite common in the world of zinfandel, and a lot of zinfandel comes from the Lodi region of California. Six winemakers from that area have set out to show how distinct wines from Lodi can be. Furthermore their goal is to highlight the specific vineyards. They have done this by choosing heritage plantings that often date back to the late 1800s. Each winemaker used exactly the same methodology to produce the wines. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Most every moment I spend in wine regions I’m on the hunt. Of course I’m looking for excellent wine, but when I’m on the ground somewhere I’m searching for brilliant tasting experiences too. They come in every shape and size, offering everything from just wine, to light pairings, all the way to full on meals accompanying wines. I just spent 10 days split between Napa Valley and Sonoma County; and on this trip alone had a huge variety of experiences. Many of them were quite good and well worth mentioning. One, however, stood above the pack. To say my tasting at Clif Family Winery was a homerun would be to sell the experience short. The tasting at Clif Family Winery is a Hall-of-Fame-caliber tasting, easily in the top five tasting experiences available in Napa Valley. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
The Balvenie, a range of Single Malt Scotches from the Speyside region of Scotland, features a diverse portfolio. If you’re a Scotch lover they likely have something in their range to suit your palate. The commonality to me is the attention to detail that helps them to achieve the quality and consistency their name evokes. Among the things that set The Balvenie apart are the strict controls they retain over several aspects of the production process. Growing their own barley and employing their own staff of coopers to handle every cask are but two examples. I’ve been a fan of the Balvenie range for quite a while now, and the 12 Year Old DoubleWood is one I go to on a regular basis. Therefore it’s always interesting to taste the rare, more sought-after examples in their range. Amongst those the Balvenie Portwood 21 is a highly desirable Scotch produced in limited quantities. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Summer is here and grilling season is in full swing. Whether you’re pulling burgers, ribs, chicken, or portabellas off of your grill, you’ll need a wine that will pair well with all of those things. Petite sirah, generally one of darkest, inkiest, and most intense wines out there, is too often relegated to winter and paired with stews and pot roasts. Don’t get me wrong — it works fabulously with those dishes, but it works equally well, if not better, with grilled or smoked foods. Over the last several weeks I tasted through 77 current examples of petite sirah of all shapes, sizes and styles. The 36 below are the examples I heartily recommend, including a couple of older wines I tasted. One of the things I love about petite sirah is the quality you can get for such a reasonable price relative to many other more well-known grapes. It’s a particularly good value if you like aging wine. Not every example will age well of course, some are built for youthful drinking, but many are and they’re often bargains. I sampled two examples from the 2004 vintage. Both from long-term petite producers whose current releases I also recommend. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Glenfarclas 25 Year Old Single Malt Highland Scotch, SRP $150. Glenfarclas has been owned by a single family since 1865. This Speyside distillery is in fact one of a small handful in Scotland that remains family owned and run. They’re a fairly small company with just more than 30 people employed in their entire operation. Several of these employees have been with them for more than 25 years. They run a 24 hour operation which among other things manages 52,000 casks at varying states of maturity; these are all moved by hand. I recently tasted the Glenfarclas 25 Year Old Single Malt Highland Scotch. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.