Category Archives: Boston Globe

This poor man’s Barolo is surprisingly rich

Barolo is the king of Italian wines. Made from the nebbiolo grape grown in a small, sharply delimited area surrounding the village of Barolo, near Alba in Piedmont, it requires a king’s ransom to put some in your cellar. Even after paying $50 to $100 a bottle and often more, you need plenty of patience because it’s a wine that needs many years of bottle aging before its complex glories emerge.… Read more

Enjoy a vintage Port without the waiting

Vintage Port, though one of the world’s great wines, is made the same way as all Port. The grapes are harvested, crushed, and fermented for only three days, instead of the usual 7-10 days for red table wine. At that point, the winemaker adds brandy, which raises the alcohol to 20 percent and kills the yeast, stopping fermentation before all the grape sugar has been converted to alcohol.… Read more

2001 Io has plumlike and peppery contrast

Back in the ’80s, when syrah, grenache, and mourvèdre were hardly known outside their traditional home in France’s Rhône Valley, a group of winemakers advocated growing them in California.

One of these Rhône Rangers was Byron ”Ken” Brown, who introduced Rhône varieties into the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County while working at Zaca Mesa Winery.… Read more

A vintage champagne that’s affordable

Like other fine wine, champagne can improve with age, as Duval-Leroy’s nearly 10-year-old vintage champagne demonstrates. Although 1996 produced excellent wines throughout France, no region did better than Champagne, where it will rank as one of the greatest vintages ever.

Most champagne is nonvintage; a blend of wine from several years’ harvests aimed at producing a consistent house style year after year.… Read more

New Zealand Bubbly Deserves A Toast

Champagne, without doubt the world’s best bubbly, is a good but pricey way to alleviate end-of-summer blues. Often, we must make do with a less-expensive alternative, sparkling wine.

Notwithstanding the label of some California sparkling wines, true champagne comes only from a specified method using chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier grown in the Champagne region of France, about 100 miles east of Paris.… Read more

Let Your Palate Pick What’s Fit to Savor

It’s important to trust your palate when it comes to wine. Recommendations from so-called experts and friends are helpful, of course, but should never be the final word because sometimes reviewers disagree. Take, for example, Grgich’s 2002 Chardonnay. A national specialized wine magazine gave it an average score, 76, earlier in the year, but I’ve tasted it twice recently and thought it was terrific.… Read more

A wine blend from quality grapes

In 1395, Phillip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, banned what he called the ”très mauvais” (very bad) gamay grape from Burgundy, relegating it to Beaujolais, a less prestigious area further south. But as with many royal decrees, not everybody listened. So there is still plenty of gamay planted in Burgundy, even though pinot noir is considered the red grape of that region.… Read more

A cheaper option to chic Brunello

Montalcino, a tiny town perched upon a mountain just south of the Chianti region in Tuscany, is home to one of Italy’s greatest red wines, Brunello di Montalcino.

Brunello is the local name for sangiovese grosso, a variety of sangiovese, Tuscany’s most important red grape; it ripens well on the surrounding hillsides to produce a wine with power, complexity, and suaveness.… Read more

French connection lifts Chilean wine

Although Chile is located in the New World, its wine industry is rooted in France. During the prosperity of the mid-19th century, Chilean families who had acquired great wealth, often from mining, imported vines and sometimes winemakers from Bordeaux.

Over 100 years later, in the late-20th century, another emigration of Bordeaux wine talent has reinvigorated the Chilean wine industry.… Read more

Valpolicella evokes red wine’s good old days

Andrea Sartori has his work cut out for him. A fifth-generation winemaker in his family’s firm, he is trying to remind the wine-drinking world what Valpolicella tastes like. Valpolicella was once a highly regarded wine. But over the last several decades, this red wine, which takes its name from the hills near Verona in northeast-

ern Italy, has become dilute and characterless as giant companies churned out every increasing quantity.… Read more

Vacqueyras at the front of the class

France’s southern Rhone Valley has always been home to great values in wine, and still is. This is red wine country with only small amounts of white wine production. The wines from the region’s most famous town, Chateauneuf du Pape, just north of Avignon, have become extremely popular over the last 20 years, and quite predictably have increased in price, now often commanding more than $30 a bottle.… Read more