• California’s Cabernet Cult Keeps Growing

    California is drowning in Cabernet, as growers swap diversity for big returns. When I met Seattle-based economist Mike Veseth at a wine conference in Idaho last February, he shared his take that the “Queen of Red Grapes” might be overprized – and overplanted – in California. With a statewide rise in Cabernet plants – both
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  • Ten ways to define a “cool climate” wine region

    How do you define a “cool climate” wine region? According to the folk behind this year’s International Cool Climate Wine Symposium, the distinguishing characteristic is how much sleep the winemaker gets. Warm climate = easy winemaking (lots of sleep) = bad. Cool climate = difficult winemaking (less sleep) = good. All I can say is
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  • Finding Chile’s artisanal wines amid huge production

    Big companies dominate the Chilean wine industry so much that I didn’t think small artisanal wineries existed there. Yet there are terrific, unique wines being made in Chile: not points-chasing Napa wannabes either. You have to look really hard through oceans of solid, unpretentious wine. But imagine wines of such purity of flavor that they
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  • Journey through Fire: Stories from California

    I was visiting Sonoma for a press trip. It was already unusual; of the four journalists attending, three had to withdraw at the last minute, leaving only the host — Christina Starr of Ste Michelle Wine Estates — and myself. Our itinerary included one property in Sonoma on Sunday, then three more in Napa Monday
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  • Taking it slow in Central Otago Part 2

    This is PART TWO of L.M. Archer’s exploration of Central Otago. Before continuing, read part one. Feature Image: Prophets Rock Vineyard – New Zealand Individuation: Fruit vs. Site Forsyth sees a decided march towards individuation throughout Central Otago’s vineyards. “So now, thirty years later, we’re at the stage where we can see better producers concentrating on
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  • Taking it Slow in Central Otago (Part 1)

    Challenged by climate change, lack of available land and rising production costs, some of Burgundy’s top producers have established wineries in Oregon. But the more adventuresome are now flying much further afield — to New Zealand’s Central Otago. Located on the 45 parallel in the Southern Hemisphere, Central Otago is one of the world’s southernmost
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  • Rethinking the wines of Argentina

    Trigger warning: This story will praise Merlot. Is Malbec actually the grape Argentina does best? And what are the best wines to drink from Argentina? The answer to the first question, for those buying $10 or $15 wines, is probably “yes.” Malbec seems to be more forgiving of industrial-scale production than other varieties. But Palate
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  • Whatever Happened to California Syrah?

    Syrah is the butt of jokes among California wine salesmen; i.e.: “What’s the difference between a case of Syrah and a case of the crabs? The crabs go away.” The question for those of us who love Syrah is “why?” Why hasn’t Syrah been embraced by Americans? Many of us have thrown out theories. In 1995, Syrah
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  • Tinder Date Serves Up Wine in a Can

    It’s not news to put wine in a can. It IS news to put quality single-vineyard varietal wine in a can – and charge $10 a can for it. Sans Wine Co. founders Jake Stover and Gina Schober are a young Napa County couple who met on Tinder; they swiped right. That worked out because
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  • The World’s Most Wanted Wines

    When it comes to wine, sometimes France ruins everything. Well, maybe that’s a little unfair; sometimes Bordeaux ruins everything. The famous region has certainly ruined any chance of being able to come with new and exciting entries on the list of Wine-Searcher’s most searched-for wines. Time was there would be a bolter, a runaway wine (or even spirit) that
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