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Winemakers Read Wine Spectator's Reviews

Winemakers Read Wine Spectator's Reviews


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It's National Wine Week, so let's start it with a giggle from Jordan Winery

Real winemakers reading Wine Spectator reviews.

Spinning off our favorite silly video, "Real Actors Reading Yelp Reviews," we now have winemakers reading their favorite reviews of wines. In honor of National Wine Week, we give you Jordan Winery's most dramatic readings of Wine Spectator reviews.

Sitting in front of fires with a dramatic score (obviously), John Jordan of Jordan Winery, Jean-Charles Boisset of Raymond Vineyards, and Daryl Groom of Colby Red read various columns from Wine Spectator's editors. (We particularly like Jordan's rendition of "I Got a Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas — that's a hard song to translate into a serious reading.) Of course, it's all in good fun with Wine Spectator (Groom personally gives a shout-out to the author of his reading, Thomas Matthews).

If you're still in the mood for some silly wine videos, then jump over to Jordan Winery's "Gangnam Style" parody — private jets and dance moves included. (It rivals the riesling rap for sure.) Let's be real, we need some silliness this week.


Do you love to learn more about wine, check out the recipes of food and wine or improve your knowledge of the current trends in wine industry? This article is probably the best for you if you do. Have a look at this list of top 10 wine magazines in the USA.

Bon Appetit

Bon Appetit is all about good food and fabulous wine, as well as how to pair them. Each edition of this magazine has content about new trends in the world of food and wine. You will also get reviews and recipes to cook up your own dishes at home. You will also get to learn about food and drink of different culture in this magazine. It has a small section of restaurants at different places you can use them as a guide if you ever want to go for a dining out of your kitchen.

Decanter

Decanter magazine is focused on wine and spirits. This magazine is for the people who take their wines seriously. The magazine has countless reviews on wines and spirits from around the world. Specifically, you will get more than 4,000 wine recommendations every year. Decanter has readers from 90 countries. This magazine also holds the annual Decanter World Wine Awards, which is one of the largest wine competitions in the world.

Food & Wine

Food & Wine Magazine makes its subject very clear in the title. This magazine is entirely focused on food and wine. In each issue of Food & Wine, you will find a number of recommendations of food, wine and pairing of both. Apart from food and wine, this magazine has a guide to various locations to visit, upcoming events and more. For 40 years, Food & Wine magazine has kept the subscribers mesmerized by covering Food & Wine Classic held annually in Aspen.

Imbibe

Imbibe features news and information regarding wine, beer, spirits and cocktails with its every issue. You will find small content on non-alcoholic beverages like tea and coffee, too. With Imbibe, you will receive a number of recipe&rsquos to prepare alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic beverages. It also covers some fun destinations of liquid culture. Imbibe has won nearly a dozen awards over past 8 years, recently the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award: Best Cocktail Writing in 2014.

The World of Fine Wine

The World of Fine Wine Magazine specializes in all aspects of wine. This magazine has articles about the worldwide goings-on about the wine as well as report the best wine every month. You will also find beautiful travel destinations for winery and restaurant tours. You can also look up the perfect pairing of wine and food in the magazine. The information in this magazine can cater to any type of wine lover. It also covers upcoming wine events.

Saveur

Saveur magazine lets you explore the world to see where your most liked wines and dishes come from. It gives you an outlook on how they taste like in their native land today. This wine magazine covers entire framework of food and wine, not just the recipes you want to know to make something. It has a unique storytelling quality, it has chef profiles, recipes, wine origins and how they exactly got there, and many more things about food and wine.

Wine & Spirits

Wine & Spirits publication is for you if you are planning to broaden your wine and spirits collection. It gives you wine recommendations, reviews on wines, spirits, and restaurants and stores so that you can wisely choose your wines to drink or restaurants to visit. It covers worldwide news of wine and spirits industry. Apart from these, it also covers recipes, interviews of sommeliers, upcoming wine and spirits events and videos of interviews and other events.

Wine Enthusiast

Every single issue of Wine Enthusiast comes with reviews and ratings on new wines and spirits. This magazine also features some basic information on wine and food-wine pairing. You will get recipes of food and drinks, stories of chefs and current trends with each edition. Apart from these, this magazine guides you about the best places related to wine and spirits. Like other wine magazines, Wine Enthusiast also shares news of wine and spirits industry.

Wine Spectator

Wine Spectator issues 15 editions in total every year, Each of them brings you ratings on wines, the goings-on of wine industry, some basic topics from which you can learn about wine, reviews on restaurants and many more things related to the world of wine. Wine Spectator also interviews some fascinating personalities from the world of wine to make you better appreciate the industry. You will also find shops to buy wine, classifieds and wine courses.

Winemaker

Winemaker magazine focuses on the people who make their own wine from home. If you love winemaking, this wine magazine is for you. What you will find in this magazine is the wine recipes, tips on making wine from home and interviews with winemakers who succeeded in creating their own wines.

If you liked this article, keep an eye on this one as we often update our articles with newer information.


Asian-Owned Wineries and Winemakers

Dana Estates
Napa Valley, CA
This boutique Mayacamas Mountains estate produces small-lot, award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon. It is owned by Korean food importer and Napa Cabernet lover Hi Sang Lee.

Fifth Moon (RD Wines)
Napa Valley, CA
CEO Mailynh Phan felt that wineries were largely catering to European food and wine pairings. She created Fifth Moon’s wines, including a Gruner Vetliner, Chenin Blanc, and Malvasia, to pair specifically with Asian cuisine.

Freeman Winery
Sonoma, CA
This family-run winery is one of the original pioneers of cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Winemaker Akiko Freeman and husband and proprietor Dan Freeman founded their Green Valley estate together in 2001. Today, they also produce wine from the steep, rugged terrain of their Sonoma Coast estate, which is just five miles from the Pacific Ocean.

Hestan Vineyards
Napa Valley, CA
Hestan Vineyards is one of the few tasting rooms where you can buy both cookware and wine. Its founders own one of the largest cookware distributors in the world, Meyer Corporation. Helen and Stanley Cheng founded Hestan Vineyards in 1996 out of a passion for wine. Today, the estate is entirely solar-powered and sustainably farmed. Two of the vineyard’s labels, Stephanie and Vincent Christopher, are named after their children.

Hobo Wines
Northern CA
This 1% for the Planet, biodynamic, and organic winery is about as eco-friendly as it gets. Founded by owner Kenny Likitprakong in 2002, Hobo Wines are made across dozens of California AVAs and varietals.

Kanpai Wines
Napa Valley, CA
Japanese for “cheers”, Kanpai is an artisanal endeavor between renowned winemaker Steve Matthiasson and owners Peter Chiang and Azumi Kubo. Each wine is crafted with its own unique profile and story in mind.

Kenzo Estate
Napa, CA
This Napa Valley estate is actually a pristine wildlife preserve, with only 4% of its land planted to vines. Owner Kenzo Tsujimoto partnered with renowned viticulturist David Abrieu (Harlan Estates, Screaming Eagle) and Heidi Barrett (Screaming Eagle, Paradigm Vineyards) to craft world-class wines.

Kieu Hoang
Napa Valley, CA
This Carneros-based estate is owned by Vietnamese businessman Kieu Hoang, who has a passion for wine and wellness. While the label currently includes Carneros- and California-appellated wines, Hoang will soon be releasing wines from his newly-purchased Spring Mountain vineyard.

Mikami Vineyards
Lodi, CA
The Mikami family has been producing wine for over three generations. Their small, single-vineyard estate produces award-winning Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Rosé.

Moone-Tsai Wines

Moone-Tsai
Napa Valley, CA
With its exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, Moone-Tsai represents some of the best of what Napa Valley has to offer. Sourcing from the prestigious To Kalon vineyard, Howell Mountain, and Napa Valley’s Coombsville AVA, Moone-Tsai’s resulting wines masterfully balance structure, concentrated aromatics, and refined tannins.

Niew Vineyards
Willamette Valley, OR
Tai Ran Niew’s goal is to “to make the most ethereal Oregonian wine there is.” He uses Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming techniques, involving chemical-free, machine-free, and even weeding-free soils.

Nine Suns
Napa Valley, CA
Named after a Chinese myth about an archer who shot down nine sunbirds, Nine Suns produces boutique, small-lot Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache from its Pritchard Hill estate.

Noria Wines
Sonoma, CA
Winemaker Nori Nakamura crafted white wines to mimic the flavors in Japanese sake, and Pinot Noir to pair well with the delicate flavors of Japanese cuisine. His wines are estate-grown in the Russian River Valley.

Patel Vineyards
Napa Valley, CA
Owner Raj Patel partnered with acclaimed winemaker Julien Fayard to craft critically acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon. Patel creates only a limited number of cases per year from select growers in the Coombsville, Rutherford, and Atlas Peak AVAs.

Peay Vineyards
Sonoma Coast, CA
Winemaker Vanessa Wong has mastered the art of producing beautifully nuanced, cool-climate Chardonnay. Before joining Peay, Wong gained experience working at Château Lafite-Rothschild, Domaine Jean Gros, and Peter Michael Winery. Today, the team consists of Wong, husband Nick Peay, and Andy Peay.

Sandhi Wines
Santa Barbara, CA
Michael Mina Restaurants wine director Rajat Parr founded Sandhi Wines to craft singular Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Santa Barbara terroir. To maximize complexity and flavor, Sandhi Wines are grown only from old vine, cool-climate sites and fermented without added sugars, acids, fining agents, yeasts, or enzymes.

Shiba Wichern
Oregon
This is a small, community effort led by winemaker Akiko Shiba. Shiba partners closely with multiple vineyards in the Willamette Valley and Eola Amity Hills to craft nuanced, site-specific Pinot Noir and Auxerrois.

Shunyi Cellars
Santa Lucia Highlands
This new winery was founded in 2019 by George Zhang, in partnership with winemaker Brian Kosuge. It is named after the residents of Zhang’s hometown in Jinan, China. Shunyi produces extremely small quantities of naturally-fermented, near dry-farmed Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Sunset Cellars
Suisun Valley, CA
Doug and Katsuko Sparks are pioneers in the Suisun Valley, as founders of both their own winery and the Suisun Valley Wine Cooperative. The family-owned winery crafts award-winning Barbera and Cabernet Sauvignon, even punching down and sorting grapes by hand.

Tobias Glen
Sonoma County, CA
Founded by Janie Woo and Christina Lau, this California Certified-Sustainable vineyards produces limited-production Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from its Russian River Valley estate. All grapes are hand-harvested, and old-world winemaking techniques are employed to maximize expressiveness of terroir.

Yan Cellars
Napa Valley, CA
proprietor Eugene Bayani and winemaker Patrick Saboe craft complex, ageworthy Cabernet Sauvignon from the esteemed Spring Mountain AVA terroir.

Yao Family Vineyards
Napa Valley, CA
NBA star Yao Ming’s passion for Napa Valley wines led him to establish his own estate. Today, their Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon receives 90 point ratings from Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Robert Parker, and more.

Know of additional AAPI-owned wineries or winemakers not on this list? Comment or send us a message, and we’ll add them!


Winemakers Read Wine Spectator's Reviews - Recipes

Call Central Casting and request a flamboyent French winemaker who epitomizes joie de vivre and bonhomie, and they’d probably send you Jean-Charles Boisset.

The best Franco-American collaboration since Lafayette and Washington – that is, until Jean-Charles met Gina

Boisset is the scion of a famous Burgundy family who in recent years has embarked on a major US acquisition splurge, buying up Deloach, Raymond, Buena Vista and Gina Gallo – no wait, he married Gina Gallo, in the wine equivalent of a royal wedding. It was the most celebrated Franco-American collaboration since SpaghettiOs, or at least since Robert Mondavi embraced Baron Philippe de Rothschild and begat Opus One.

The Mondavi connection is apt – Boisset and Gallo bought the late wine icon’s Napa Valley residence last year. More recently, the esteemed wine writer Dan Berger, who is not one to go ga-ga very easily, bestowed Mondavi’s legacy on Boisset’s shoulders because of the Frenchman’s efforts to restore Buena Vista winery in Sonoma County to its historic grandeur.

You may have seen more than you care to of Boisset in the documentary Mondovino. Well, it turns out he can act, too. He does a hilarious turn on Jordan winery’s blog as part of a tryptich of videos called “Real Winemakers Read Wine Spectator Reviews.” It’s a play on Real Actors Read Yelp! , and well worth the few minutes it takes to watch.

Boisset sends up Wine Spectator editor Thomas Matthews’ writeup of a dinner at Le Cirque. In other installments, Darrell Groom spoofs another Matthews piece and John Jordan plays it straight while channeling former Spectator scribe James Suckling, who is so over-the-top that he needs no dramatic rendering.

Aside from being funny, these good-natured videos are a sobering reminder to us wine writers that we frequently write on the precipice of absurdity.


3. Food & Wine

Food & Wine magazine is another publication that makes its subject abundantly clear in the title. Food & Wine focuses on the best of both worlds in the kitchen and, of course, how to pair them together in order to create an amazing result.

With each issue, you’ll find countless recommendations, whether it’s in regards to wine and food, locations to visit, upcoming events to check out and more. Their writers also cover emerging culinary trends that you’ll want to keep an eye on.

For coming up on 40 years now, Food & Wine has also kept subscribers mesmerized by covering their Food & Wine Classic held annually in Aspen, Colorado. Guests who decide to attend can take in guest speakers, cooking demonstrations and, of course, wine tasting.


Winemaker

Self-taught in many ways and tutored by some of the world’s best Winemakers in others, Ray Sandidge is considered one of the top Winemakers in the Pacific Northwest. 30+ years of internationally and nationally acclaimed results back up this humble fact. It is obvious Ray loves his work. He respects the marriage between vineyard and the art of winemaking.

The Right Stuff

Ray has produced wines rated 90 pts. or higher on more than 50 occasions in the Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast magazines not to mention countless Best of Show, Best of Class, Double Gold, Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in competitions such as the San Francisco International Wine Competition, Jerry D. Mead International Wine Competition, and the Seattle Wine Awards.

The highest score to date is 97 points awarded the 1989 Trockenbeerenauslese Riesling wine made for the German winery Georg Breuer. The Right Stuff includes great grapes, skilled winemaking and listening to you the consumer. This combination has worked for more than a quarter century. Nurture it.

Starting at Pindar Vineyards in 1985 on Long Island, Ray co-authored two wines which were ultimately selected to be served at President George Bush’s January 1989 inaugural ball. During the summer of 1987 Ray was recruited by Weingut Georg Breuer. Weingut Georg Breuer was founded in 1880 and is considered one of Germany’s finest winery estates. Germany is a country with approximately 12,000 wineries. Within three years, the wines Ray produced for Georg Breuer placed this winery on that countries TOP 50 list. A feat never before achieved by this respected estate.

Ray returned to Washington State in the fall of 1990 where he hooked up with Brian Carter to make the Apex and Washington Hills Cellars wines. Over the next ten years Ray was employed first by Hyatt Vineyards to make their reserve red and white wines. Later he became Kestrel Vintners sole winemaker from 1996 through 2004. Beginning in 2004, Ray assumed the Winemaker role at the fledgling Lake Chelan Winery as well as numerous other Lake Chelan Valley wineries.

December of 2015, a much awaited change occurred. Once the vintage was safely in barrel and tank, Ray parted ways with Lake Chelan Winery in order to focus on C R Sandidge winemaking and grape growing with greater intensity yet. This is an exciting chapter for Ray and Athena. The long awaited dream of crafting C R Sandidge wines in their own winemaking facility is finally coming to fruition.

While he strives not to have favorites, Ray would say that his greatest wines made to date are his 2002 C. R. Sandidge Triumph which was rated the best Bordeaux style red wine made in all of North America, South America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa by the highly regarded New World International Wine Competition (held annually in San Diego going on 30+ years) and his 1989 Georg Breuer Berg Rottland Trockenbeerenauslese which scored an amazing 97 points in Chicago’s International Wine Competition and Wine Enthusiast magazine.


Holiday Thoughts

I was very happy to read Wine Spectator ’s recent reviews of California Pinot Noir. In that report, Loring, A.P. Vin, P2 and Siduri (along with a few others) received outstanding to classic ratings on a bunch of their 2007 Pinots. The proprietors of each of those labels are my friends and have had significant positive impacts on Pali Wine Company during our relatively short existence. During this holiday season, I am inspired to share some stories and thoughts about Brian Loring, Andrew Vingiello, Mike Padrick and Adam Lee.

Late in 2004, when my partners and I were finalizing a wine company business plan based upon Central Coast Cabernet (of all things), one of my partners insisted that I try a Brian is the whole package. He is an incredibly talented, technical winemaker, yet he is also an excellent communicator and marketer. He is as open and honest as they come. But the attribute I respect most in Brian is his generosity. In our inaugural vintage, though it was not part of his contracted winemaking responsibilities with Pali, Brian brokered fruit deals allowing us access to high-end vineyards such as Shea, Durell and Cargasacchi-Jalama. No doubt, Brian could have taken this fruit for his own label and made more money for himself however, he felt it was important that Pali launch successfully with these great vineyards.

Shortly before our first release, Brian announced Pali to his mailing list, which generated significant mailing-list sign-ups and direct sales for Pali—at the potential cost of taking away direct sales from Loring. (By the way, Brian did this for Andrew Vingiello’s A. P. Vin label and Mike Padrick’s P2 label as well.) Even though Brian no longer has any financial arrangements with Pali, he can still be found in our winery often helping out with equipment issues, winemaking problems, bottling, racking or just hanging out. No agenda—it is just in his nature.

Andrew Vingiello, owner and winemaker of A.P. Vin, learned to make wine under the tutelage of Brian Loring during the 2003, 2004 and 2005 vintages. Pali overlapped at the Loring winery with A.P. Vin during the 2005 crush, and this is when I met Andrew. A.P. Vin relocated to San Francisco with the 2006 vintage, but I remain close friends with Andrew and visit with him often. While much of his winemaking technique can still be traced back to Loring, Andrew has begun to experiment with different yeast strains, stem inclusion, saignée (bleeding off juice to concentrate flavor), racking regiments and other, subtle changes in winemaking methods. Additionally, Andrew has become quite comfortable providing inputs in the vineyards.

Andrew is honest, friendly and has a great sense of humor. More than anybody I’ve met in the wine business, Andrew is consumed by the pursuit of making the perfect wine. (The flip side of that coin is that he tortures himself in the pursuit.) In his relatively short time in the wine business, Andrew’s enthusiastic sincerity for excellence has gained him the respect of dozens of California’s leading winemakers, who often share ideas with him. Andrew’s iPhone address book reads like a who’s who of these winemakers (and it’s not just for show). I would not be surprised to see a 100-point A.P. Vin Pinot Noir in the near future.

I first met Mike Padrick, owner and winemaker of P2 Wine and assistant winemaker at Loring, in 2005 when he came to work the harvest at the Loring winery. He had been working as a waiter in a restaurant in Vail, Colo., when Brian Loring met him during a marketing trip. Mike had been intrigued by the wine business and was easily recruited (or seduced) to work the harvest by Brian’s enthusiasm and optimism. Mike began making wine at the Loring winery in Lompoc under P2 with the 2006 vintage.

Mike is usually the first person at the winery in the morning and the last to leave at night. He has an incredibly strong work ethic and will gladly do any job that needs doing without hesitation—an absolutely essential quality in a winery because there are many manual (and boring) tasks that need to be done every day. He is also always willing to grab a beer with a friend and looking to have some fun. Lompoc does not have much of a nightlife. Jasper’s, a local bar that can best be described as “colorful,” is about the only choice for an alcoholic beverage past 9 p.m. In spite of Jasper’s uninspiring ambience, I’ve had many a great harvest-time night there with Mike, playing pool and philosophizing. I am very happy that Mike’s hard work is paying off, and I know that he truly appreciates the critical accolades.

Adam Lee, in my opinion, is the father of modern domestic Pinot Noir. If you were to draw a family tree of current Pinot producers, many lines would connect up to Adam (including Pali, Loring, A. P. Vin and P2). Adam proved that a Pinot Noir winery that did not include an estate vineyard could work. In fact, his success might arguably show that having access to fruit from several vineyards across many appellations, rather than a single estate vineyard, is a superior business model since it provides diverse products (and diversification with respect to nature). Additionally, Adam was one of the first winemakers to show that quality Pinot Noir could be made in a dark, concentrated and ripe style. No doubt, this style brought in many, many new Pinot Noir drinkers that, like me, had heretofore found it too austere. Finally, Adam created Siduri as a common-person’s label with no pretense or snobbery attached. Everyone is welcome to join its mailing list and buy Siduri wines, and the wines have always been reasonably priced even when they have garnered great scores. The basic Siduri business guidelines have become industry standard (if you want to be successful in the wine business).

What Brian, Andrew, Mike and Adam all share in common is their immense passion for making great wines regardless of the work involved and the risks needed to be taken. They all have left secure employment situations in pursuit of their dreams. It is very satisfying to see their success.


Gallery

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle red wine, such as Beaujolais
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving

Heat oil in a large straight-sided skillet over medium. Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain. Add shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes to pan season with salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully add red wine increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of generously salted boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Add pasta to pot with red wine cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is bright red and al dente and most of wine has been absorbed, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in cheese and pancetta. Stir in pasta water as needed to loosen sauce. Serve with more cheese, parsley, and red pepper flakes.


Kerry Shiels

Côte Bonneville

Kerry Shiels made her first wine in middle school. It was part of a science project.

“I don’t even remember what it was,” she says. “It was red. It was awful.”

Shiels’s parents had planted DuBrul Vineyard in Yakima Valley in 1992, subsequently founding Côte Bonneville winery. Early on, however, she wasn’t interested in joining the wine industry.

“Like anyone who’s 17, I wanted to leave home and go experience a bigger world,” Shiels says.

So she opted to study mechanical engineering in college, then went on to join the car company Fiat in Turin, Italy, working on prototypes. After transitioning to more of a business role, Shiels decided it was time for a change.

“Washington is one of the coolest places in the world to make wine right now.”—Kerry Shiels, winemaker, Côte Bonneville

“I was making spreadsheets and Powerpoints. I decided that I didn’t want to do that for the rest of my life.”

Instead, she decided to turn her focus to winemaking. “I like to make things,” Shiels says. “If you like to make things, wine is pretty cool.”

After working harvest at Joseph Phelps Vineyards and then a stint in Australia, Shiels entered the University of California, Davis wine program, working crush and interning at Folio Fine Wine Partners while studying. “I went to school three days a week and then spent another four days a week commuting to Carneros,” she says. “I was running myself pretty ragged.”

Upon graduation, she worked harvest in Argentina before finally returning home to join her family’s winery as winemaker. “I wanted to earn my position at the winery,” she says. “I didn’t want to come into it just because it was my family.”

Shiels, now 39, is a firm believer in Washington wine. She points to the state’s ability to successfully grow a range of varieties. “In our vineyard, we have Riesling and Cabernet, and they grow right next to each other,” she says. “You can’t do that in Napa. You can’t do that in Bordeaux. You can’t do that in Germany. It’s something that’s very Washington.”

Mike Macmorran of Mark Ryan Winery and Manu Propria Winery / Photo by Grant Gunderson


Settling in, Glass in Hand, to Read of Wine

USED to be you could tell the time of year in New York by the weather, but you can't always count on that anymore. This week's chill was preceded by a spell of humid muck that required other means for gauging the season. Like the Christmas trees on the streets, despite the salesmen in shorts. And, for me at least, the wine books that engulf my desk before the holidays.

Not that I mind. Most people who love wine love reading about wine, the regions where it is made and the people who make it. Among this year's crop, here are six volumes that I found especially noteworthy.

The third edition of The Oxford Companion to Wine (Oxford University Press, $65), edited by Jancis Robinson, is the one essential book for any wine-lover. The wine world has evolved since the last edition in 1999, and this encyclopedic work keeps pace with new information on issues like climate change, biodynamic viticulture and globalization, and emerging wine regions like Canada and eastern Europe.

Ms. Robinson harnessed the talents of a battalion of contributors, which makes for expert perspectives but uneven writing, from lyrical to tongue-twistingly scientific. Nonetheless, the book is a necessity for those in the wine business, and it offers highly pleasurable browsing for anybody who is remotely curious about why wine is so compelling.

With their emphasis on tasting notes and vintages, shopping guides can be hard slogging, but three new ones offer absorbing reading. Foremost among them is The Wines of France: The Essential Guide for Savvy Shoppers (Ten Speed Press, $19.95) by Jacqueline Friedrich, whose last book, "The Wine and Food Guide to the Loire," published in 1996, cries out for a new edition. In this book she embraces France region by region, offering opinionated reviews of producers and concise demystifications of the French nomenclature that bedevils American consumers.

Ms. Friedrich does not try to be complete, but she clearly understands the trends that are reshaping the French wine industry. She shows a marked preference for what she calls hypernatural wines, those made with the least intervention possible, yet she is sympathetic to styles that would seem to be diametrically opposite, like the plush, oaky garagiste wines of St.-Émilion.

Matt Kramer, the provocative Wine Spectator columnist, turns his attention to Italy in Making Sense of Italian Wine: Discovering Italy's Greatest Wines and Best Values (Running Press, $24.95). In previous volumes Mr. Kramer investigated in great detail the many facets of terroir in Burgundy and in California. In a departure, this book is a primer, intended for those only beginning to come under the spell of vino Italiano, who don't know their Barolos from their brunellos.

Mr. Kramer can present even the most familiar thought in a stimulating guise. His brief essays on Italian wine culture are well grounded in history, while his critiques of styles and producers are clear and opinionated. Two quibbles: there are too many typos, and Mr. Kramer gives surprisingly short shrift to brunello di Montalcino. Given its importance in the marketplace, he should have explained his reasoning.

Stephen Tanzer is the editor and publisher of International Wine Cellar, a newsletter. His controlled prose is overshadowed by that of the more flamboyant Robert M. Parker Jr.'s Wine Advocate. Sometimes it's hard to tell where Mr. Tanzer's tastes lie, as he conscientiously considers each wine. But in his new book, The WineAccess Buyer's Guide: The World's Best Wines and Where to Find Them (Sterling Publishing, $14.95), he loosens up and offers more personal evaluations.

Mr. Tanzer visits wine regions around the world and offers quick assessments of the producers he considers to be the best, without confining himself to hard-to-find cult winemakers. It is compact, concise and clear, and it couldn't be more useful.

Much has already been written about Jay McInerney's book A Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine (Alfred A. Knopf, $24), a collection of the monthly wine columns he writes for House & Garden magazine. I will add only that it is a pleasure to see the wine world through a novelist's playful eyes, and to feel the infectious joy he finds in great wines, places and personalities from around the world.

For all his skill as a writer, Mr. McInerney talks as an expert guiding his readers. Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey From Grape to Glass (Bloomsbury, $23.95) by Natalie MacLean, a Canadian writer, takes another tack altogether. Ms. MacLean has made a name for herself on the Internet, where her site Nat Decants (nataliemaclean.com) has won numerous awards.

Ms. MacLean is the disarming Everywoman. She loves wine, loves drinking and loves getting a little buzzed. But as she follows wine's journey from vineyard to cellar to retail shop, restaurant and dining room, she can't help feeling insecure.

She fears embarrassing herself in front of Aubert de Villaine, the proprietor of the august Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, on a visit. Instead he opens a 1956 La Tâche for her. She takes a turn as a retail clerk and her shoes kill her. She invites friends to a tasting party, but sweats with anticipatory anxiety. She bursts into tears when confronted with an unsympathetic sommelier. "Who knew that rejecting a bottle of wine involved the same arc of emotions as Greek tragedy?" she writes.

Ms. MacLean is also flirtatious. Great wines make her feel as if she's being undressed, while a properly uncorked bottle of Champagne opens with a "postcoital sigh." And her point of view is distinctly female. On a glassware producer's discovery that "content commands shape," she notes, "But anyone who has ever bought a bra already knows that."

At times her enthusiasm gushes like Champagne opened improperly. But ultimately, it's a winning formula, aimed at women who are intimidated by wine, and at men who feel that way, too, but won't admit it.


Watch the video: Τα οινοποιεία ανοίγουν ZOINOS WINERY