The Grapevine

What They’re Reading – Wine Spectator and Bon Appetit

January 17th, 2013

Wine Spectator and Bon Appetit landed in our mailboxes yesterday. Here’s what your foodie customers will be thinking about this weekend.


First, Bon Ap. It’s the pasta issue. Good, stick-to-your-ribs winter fare that goes beyond basic spaghetti and meatballs. Recipes include orecchiette with kale and breadcrumbs, creamy papardelle with leeks and bacon, a butternut squash sauce, spaghetti with mussels and white beans, and rigatoni with a pork ragù. Rustic Italian wines are good choices here. It never hurts to have a range of Italians on hand. “Pizza wine”  is a favorite nickname for simple, usually less expensive, wines that work nicely with a casual meal.

There’s also a piece on one-dish meals like chicken pot pie, fritattas, and chorizo and white bean stew. Again, it’s comfort food with a dash of style. Find the rustic wines on your shelves to match.

Beware: there’s also an article on vinegar. Don’t get me wrong. We cook with vinegar often, but it can be really unkind to wine.

The Jan 31, 2013 issue of Wine Spectator is the Editors’ Picks edition. (Which begs for commentary on the whole WS Approach. We’re not fans, as we’ve made clear in the past, in large part because they choose to be pretty monolithic in their reviews and recommendations. The columns in the front of each issue can be wonderful, but for our money, I don’t want to know what a magazine thinks of a wine; I want to know what a person thinks of a wine.

Getting to know their personal traits and likes and dislikes over time gives me the opportunity to synchronize their palette with mine. The critic I know I disagree with can be just as useful to me as one with whom I am in perfect synch.

First, though, is a 2012 vintage report. There was very strong news from Napa, Sonoma, Washington and the Rhone ; solidly good reports from New York’s Finger Lakes, Oregon, the Piedmont, and Tuscany; and more downbeat news from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Germany and Spain.

The cheese column focuses on the U.K. – from cheddars to Stilton. A good claret, anyone?

Ther Editors’ Picks section is too extensive to really summarize. James Laube, their man in California, recommends Pinots, Cabs, and Rhone reds. Doesn’t really narrow things down all that much, does he … Harvey Steiman recommends the wines of Australia, one of the regions he covers. Thomas Matthews suggests drinking Spanish whites and cellaring 2005 and 2004 riojas. Kim Marcus has a soft spot for wines of southern France, whites from Greece, and German rieslings.

We grinned a knowing grin when we read James Moleworth’s thought, “Always beware the wine writer who only puffs his chest and waxes poetic about big-name, expensive wines.” (Though while we agree with him about the joys of finding a great bottle for less than $20, he seems to be headed too far toward the trite “$20 is all you ever need to spend for a really great wine” argument.)

Oregon Pinots get the once-over from Harvey Steiman. Top values, priced between $15 and $24 include bottles from Illahe, King Estate, Lange, Andrew Rich, Adelsheim, Argyle, and Carlton Cellars.

Reislings (and a lone Gewürztraminer) are coming along nicely in New York’s Finger Lakes. Ten wines score above 90 points, ranging in price from $30 to $65. (There are a few splits mixed in.) The 2012 vintage overall scores a 90-93, an improvement over other recent vintages.