The Grapevine

What They’re Reading – Wine Spectator of 9/30/13

August 8th, 2013

Wine Spectator promises the flavors of Italy with wines to match, a look at 2010 white Burgundy and Rye’s renaissance. [level-members]

First, the front of the book. I loved the letter complaining about the wines WS reviews that are produced in tiny amounts. As the letter says, “… you have 3 million readers. What are we supposed to think about this high-scoring review of 2,400 bottles of wine?”

It’s a fair point of frustration for most readers, though I’m not sure what the answer is. Should WS ignore all wines but the largest producers? Should they offer options at the same price, or in the same style, or …?

PBS fans rejoice: Downton Abbey, the hit show about the upper crust in England, now has its own label of “wines that the Crawley family would have been proud to serve at Downton.” I wonder if they would have been as proud to serve them alongside Rolling Stones Forty Licks Merlot and Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon Cabernet, which are both produced by the same firm making the Downton wines, Wines That Rock.

Rye whiskey is on the upswing thanks to artisan distillers like Tuthilltown Spirits and Templeton. Rye consumption has doubled over the past two years and the trend seems poised to continue. Make room next to the small batch bourbons and high-end single malts.

The Italy package covers a range of regions across the entire country. Nice to see WS go beyond the usual suspects to kick off the set of 6 food and wine pairings with Lambrusco. The red sparkling wine isn’t something they typically deign to discuss. Another pleasant surprise awaits in the second pairing – a white from Campania.

The Nero d’Avola-based Sicilian reds they recommend next (with a rigatoni and tomato dish) are a bit closer to their norm, but still admirable. Then, it’s a Tuscan white for another surprise.

All in all, a really wonderful piece on Italy that goes beyond the expected.

Whites from Burgundy score a 93 for the 2010 vintage, and the tasting report raves about their quality despite the challenging vintage. Prices are what you’d expect for top wines from Burgundy, though Jean Chartron Bâtard-Montrachet 2010 scores 97 points and is “only” $180. Bruno Colin and Olivier Leflaive both score 95 points with sub-$100 bottlings.

Top values start at around $40 and 93 points (Thévenet & Fils Viré-Clessé Quintaine Domaine de la Bongran 2005 and run down to about $14 for the 88 point Cave de Lugny Mâcon-Villages La Côte Blanche 2011. Looking at the numbers, Château de la Greffière Mâcon-La Roche Veneuse Vieelles Vignes 2010 stands out at $18 for 91 points.

Portland, Oregon gets some love as a destination to consider. The hipsters haven’t completely overrun the town, but it’s a far cry from the days – 20 years ago – I was stomping around.

Best values this month include Can Blau Montsant Blau 2011, a $12 Spanish bottle that scores 89 points for being “supple and tender, yet expressive … showing wild berry, garrigue, and light vanilla flavors.” Also on the list are Auguste Bonhomme Vouvray from 2011 for $11, a Greek white (Spyros Hatziyiannis Assyrtiko Santorini 2011) for $10 and a Washington Cabernet from The Magnificent Wine Company. (Columbia Valley Steak House 2010.)