Category Archives: WRO Articles

Remembering Mike Grgich: The Man Who Put California Wines on the Map

The wine world lost a giant last month.  Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, the man who thrust California wine onto the world’s stage, died at age 100 at his home in Calistoga in the Napa Valley.

Grgich, more than anyone, is responsible for California’s reputation as a place that could make great wine when his 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay took first place at a wine competition that pitted France’s best white Burgundies against upstarts from California. … Read more

Terroir is Alive and Well on Mount Etna

One of things I adore about wine is how it expresses Mother Nature.  The same grape grown in adjacent vineyards and turned into wine by the same winemaking team can taste very different.  Winemakers attribute the differences to the composition of the soil (limestone, clay, or sand) exposure to the sun (do the grapes benefit from the gentler warming of the morning sun or the more intense afternoon sun?),
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Object Lesson in Excellence: E. Guigal’s Côte-Rôtie “Château d’Ampuis” 2019

The Guigal family, the elder Marcel and his wife Bernadette, and their son Philippe and his wife Eve, have always focused on site specificity in the great Northern Rhône appellation of Côte-Rôtie. It started in 1966 when they bottled wine separately from La Mouline, a 2.5-acre vineyard planted with both Syrah and Viognier, in an amphitheater on the Côte Blonde slope of the appellation. Read more

A Greek White Instead of Rosé

Memorial Day means summer, which, of course to some people means rosé.  But for me it means light to mid-weight white wines with energy, verve, and most of all, character.  There are lots of French whites that fit that category, from zippy Muscadet to flinty village Chablis, to simple Bourgogne Blanc, to racy Sancerre. … Read more

Tenuta di Capezzana’s Ghiaie della Furba

In 1979, Ugo Conti Bonacossi, owner of Tenuta di Capezzana, the leading estate in Carmignano, created a unique Super Tuscan wine, Ghiaie della Furba (literally, pebbles along the Furba stream).  It should come as no surprise that a grower in Carmignano should make a Super Tuscan because, after all, Carmignano, not Bolgheri, was the birthplace of the concept. … Read more

Maison Louis Latour Made Outstanding 2020s

The 2020 vintage in Burgundy, currently on the market, is the third hot—temperature wise—vintage in a row.  It’s also a “hot” vintage judging from some critics’ reviews and retailers’ enthusiasm.  Hot vintages are tricky, especially in Burgundy.  The good news about growing seasons with hot, sun-drenched days is that the wines have ripe flavors and lack green, unripe ones and the accompanying palate-searing acidity.  … Read more

Aligoté: Burgundy’s Other White Grape

White Burgundy is made from Chardonnay, right?  Well, mostly.  There’s another white grape in Bourgogne, Aligoté, that makes zippy, energetic wines perfect for summertime, and ones that are — I might add — are mostly affordable.  Not an afterthought, Bourgogne Aligoté is treated with respect by top end producers, such as Coche-Dury, whose $300+ per bottle rendition is definitely not in the “affordable wine” category. … Read more

Bells Up: A Tiny New Oregon Estate

With only a 600-case annual total production, Bells Up is tiny, but their wines tell me their imprint will be huge.  Bells Up is a musical term, and since I know little about music, I will quote from their website: “‘Bells Up’ refers to a dramatic moment in classical music where the composer instructs French horn players to lift the bells of the instruments up and project sound with maximum intensity. … Read more

2019 Burgundies: A Mixed Bag

While consistency is rarely a word used when describing Burgundies, the 2019 Burgundies present the consumer with an even greater-than-usual stylistic variation.  The usual suspects explain the diversity of the wines:  Frost, poor flowering, and heat.  Frost, which affected areas almost capriciously—some vineyards lost 40 percent of their grapes, while adjacent ones were spared—reduced the crop in many appellations. … Read more

Rosé-Nothing but Rosé

Readers may find it odd that I, who am generally unenthusiastic about rosé, should be writing about that category.  And enthusiastically at that.  However surprising that may be (even to me), I stumbled across a category of rosé, Bardolino Chiaretto DOC, that is stunning. … Read more

Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato: An Overlooked Gem in Piedmont

Granted, Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato is not the first wine people think of when they think of Piedmont.  Well, Agricola Ferraris shows us why it’s time to broaden our horizons.

First, let’s untangle the nomenclature.  Ruché (spelled Ruchè in Italian and pronounced roo-kay) is an aromatic red grape with excellent levels of malic acid that accounts for the wines’ freshness and vivacity. … Read more

Costières de Nîmes: Overlooked Southern Rhône Gem

Even those who know little about wine recognize the name Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  Wine enthusiasts can name other important appellations in France’s southern Rhône Valley, such as Gigondas, maybe even Vacqueryas.  Really savvy consumers know that Vinsorbres, Rasteau and Cairanne, previously included under the Côtes du Rhône-Villages umbrella, have achieved their own appellations, and that Sablet and Seguret are two of the 21 named villages that remain under that umbrella. … Read more

Etna Erupts

One of the great things about Italian wines is that so many notable ones, both white and red, fly under the radar.  Everyone’s familiar with the great wines of Tuscany, Chianti Classico and Brunello, to name just two, and from Piedmont, home to Barolo and Barbaresco, but these wines often command triple digit prices, commensurate with their reputations. 
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In Praise of Regional and Village Burgundy…or, Where to Find Value

Simple economics explains why the wine from Burgundy, or Bourgogne, as the French would now like us to call it, has become expensive.  Really expensive.  French wine regulations limit what can be planted where (a.k.a. the supply) and demand has increased as new markets around the world, such as China, Japan, and Russia, to name just three, discover Burgundy’s allure. … Read more

A Rogue in Oregon

One definition of rogue is “something out of the ordinary.”  It is fitting, then, that the Naumes Family Winery is located in Oregon’s Rogue Valley, because they certainly do something out of the ordinary.  Ordinary, in terms of Oregon wine, is pretty clear: superb Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and notable Pinot Gris. Read more

Site Trumps Everything

Tasting a line-up of the 2016 Gary Farrell Pinot Noirs shows why Theresa Heredia, the winemaker for wines, is adamant about the importance of site.  Same grape variety, same vintage, same winemaking, so how else to explain the wonderful difference between the Pinot Noir she made from grapes grown in the Fort Ross Vineyard in the Fort Ross—Seaview AVA and the one made from those in the Toboni Vineyard, located in the Russian River Valley? 
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Bichot is Back

If I needed any convincing—and I did not—that Bichot, the venerable Beaune-based Burgundy négoçiant, is back, it was after tasting a line-up of their 2018s.  That vintage was precarious for winegrowers because the weather provided the potential for both fabulous wines or over-ripe ones with high alcohol levels depending on harvest date, location of the vineyards, and viticulture practices. 
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