Articles in Chicago Wine Journal
Tasting Report: The Southern Rhône Valley village of Rasteau, which was officially promoted to its own appellation in 2010, doubtless lags in name recognition behind regional fixtures like Gigondas and Vacqueyras. Its merit, however, could hardly be spelled out more clearly than in Domaine Les Aphillanthes’ 2012 Rasteau “1921.”
Tasting Report: It wasn’t so long ago that Malbec was known – to the extent that it was in the consciousness of wine enthusiasts at all – for its modest supporting role in Bordeaux blends. Then Argentina roared into vinous ascendancy, and Malbec became an overnight star. Witness the two wines at hand: Susana Balbo’s unblended Signature Malbec 2012 and what might be called an upside-down Bordeaux blend: Clos de los Siete 2011.
Mulling Wine: Reviews in Chicago Wine Journal do not come with numbers. I see only two purposes in reducing a review to a double-digit Post-It note, and neither of them has anything to do with enlightening the reader, the consumer. Numerical inscriptions lend the inscriber a certain pontifical authority: “I declare this a 90-point wine. Go forth, and purchase it with confidence.” The other talking point for scoring wine is exactly that: a point-of-sale flag that essentially does the salesman’s job for him. “This one got 90 points!” It’s no longer even necessary to name the scorer.
Tasting Report: There’s a charming paradox in the exuberant freshness of Ruinart’s Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne. It comes from the oldest house of Champagne, a continuous producer since 1729. This lovely sparkler, alluringly presented in an 18th-century-style clear, bulbous bottle, offers an exhilarating flavor blend of steely citrus and brioche, with a mousse so generous and constant that it seems to be fed by some unseen source.
Tasting Report: A wine bargain is a relative concept. While it’s hard to apply the word “bargain” to an expensive bottle, no matter how exalted the juice, in the real world I have a few longstanding faves – notable among them Ruffino’s Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale and E. Guigal’s red Côtes du Rhone. Vintage after vintage, both perform way beyond their modest price.
Mulling Wine: Wine should be, first of all, refreshing. And refreshment begins with temperature. The ancient notion that red wines should be served at room temperature is exactly that – ancient, and therein lies the problem. Time was, before central heating, when homes (and dining establishments) were not the toasty places we know and require today.
Tasting Report: It wasn’t the many alluring examples of Pinot Noir that made the biggest impression when some 70 wineries set out their wares at the recent Sonoma in the City showcase at the Drake Hotel. What caught my eye, and palate, was the range of Sonoma wines – the varietals, the blends and the bargains.
Tasting Report: If the name Darioush isn’t on your wine radar, it’s probably because the bottled splendors from this Napa producer are available mainly at selected restaurants around the U.S. and at the winery located on the famous Silverado Trail. Darioush Khaledi, a native of Iran who first learned wine-making from his father, founded his Napa venture in 1997 with the goal of creating great reds on the Bordeaux model. As the latest blended Cabernet Sauvignon from Darioush attests, he has succeeded impressively.