The Grapevine

What They’re Reading – Wine Spectator August 31, 2013

July 18th, 2013

The cover story this issue is “The List,” Wine Spectator’s list of Restaurant Awards program winners, who are the restaurants WS feels have the best wine lists in the business. Also on tap: Australia’s new diversity and California’s “new-wave” whites. [level-members]

The Editors’ Letter highlights the growing trend toward digital wine lists. I wonder how long the trend will last. Certainly, the novelty factor is at play, but once that wears off, it’s not hard to imagine a return to the familiar convenience of a paper list. Whether one page or fifty, paper is pretty easy to navigate.

The vintage report from the Southern Hemisphere says good things are in store for the 2013 harvests in South Africa, Chile, New Zealand. Argentina and all regions of Australia. The news is less promising for South Africa, Chile, New Zealand. Argentina and all regions of Australia.

Yes, those two lists are identical. I guess that leaves us with three possibilities:

  1. There’s good and bad all around.
  2. WS Editors are all Libras incapable of making decisions. (I’m guilty of this.)
  3. WS just doesn’t want to say anything bad about any wine region …

The cheese column includes a really interesting recipe for Summertime Peach Caprese salad. Peaches, mozzarella, basil and mint, with olive oil and s&p. Never would have thought of it, but will be trying it this weekend if the peaches look good at the farm stand.

The Savvy Shopper column includes reasonably priced wines from France (The Tour de France “grouping”), Spain and Portugal, Italy and Australia. Best Value is a Caves Aliança Dão Reserva 2010 for $10. (Portugal.) and the Smart Buy is a Peter Lehmann Clancy’s Barossa 2010 for $16. (Australia.)

In his column, Matt Kramer focuses on summer wines and how “a really good wine retailer is as much a ‘sommelier’ as anyone who flies to your table with wine list in hand” at a restaurant. His focus for summer wines is Spanish whites – affordable, fresh, and typically oak-free – and Portuguese reds, which are also summer-friendly and “absurdly” low in price.

Greek reds and whites also make his list. As usual, we applaud Kramer for encouraging drinkers to think beyond the usual (varietal) suspects.

On that same summer note, Kim Marcus discusses the rosés of Provence. He names names, mostly in the $25 range, but also includes L’Opale de la Presqu’île de St. Tropez Côtes de Provence Rosè 2012 at $15. Sounds like a steal to us.

The Australia review includes top wines mostly above $70 (and topping out at $850 for Penfolds Shiraz South Australia Grange 2008) but with a few in the $50-$60 range and Schild Shiraz Barossa Ben Schild Reserve 2008 at $40 with a score of 94. Expect requests.

Schild also has a bottle on the top values list – Shiraz Barossa 2010 for $20 at 92 points (expect more requests). The list includes a fair number of choices above 90 points and below $20.

Nice to see a review of whites other than Chardonnay in California. Sauvignon Blancs are more prevalent, but Pinot Gris, Viognier, and Gewürtztraminer also show up multiple times each.