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SCANNING THE NEWS (or Two Months of Wine Rags Summarized)

Usually, I skim the articles in Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast magazines and place the magazines in a spot where I can read them at my pleasure.  Many times, the best place to read them is on an airplane.  While I can say that I flew over 16,000 miles in the past two months, I didn’t get much time to catch up due to circumstances beyond my control.  Here’s my synopsis of what seemed interesting.

The Spec’s (Wine Spectator) May 31 issue profiled 210 wines listed as a great value (all chosen were under $40.  Gang, I have had it with these types of articles.  There are probably 50,000 wines in the world that sell for under $40.  To think that the Spec’s staff perused all of the inventory and gave you a list of the “best of the best” is wrong.  Get the list, see if you can find any available in your neck of the woods, and tell me how they tasted compared to the stuff you normally buy (and I’m assuming that most of our faithful readers buy stuff for under $40 per bottle/box).  I did find the writeups of the major wine regions in the world informative and filed away the vineyards cited in those writeups.  And, as with all ratings issues in the Spec, you get a handy tear out for shopping purposes (use that for the shopping trip I recommended above).

The Spec also wrote an interesting article on California Sauvignon Blanc.  They called it the perfect summer wine.  As some of you know, Wino Bob and I are having a summer white wine taste off.  We haven’t conducted it yet, but I promise it will happen shortly.  I didn’t select a single Sauvignon Blanc.  It wasn’t due to my hatred of SB’s, but rather because I have become a big Chardonnay fan.  However, an article I read in the Baltimore Sun reminded me that most of us were introduced to wines through sweeter grapes than the overpowering Chards.  Recently, our guest log featured a question from Laura from Michigan who was searching for the sugar content on a box of Franzia, the best selling wine in the United States.  Laura (and others), read this article if you’d like to start drinking some sweeter wines (that come in bottles) that might help you become acquainted with the wider variety of white wines (and possibly reds).

There was an amusing article on burgers in the May 31 Spec.  This two pager talks about the best ways to make a burger, starting with the selection of meat.  The author concludes with a brief discussion about wines that go with burgers.  While the author states that beer is his first choice (and a nice McHenry or Clipper City from Baltimore would go best), he likes Rhones, Zinfandels, Petite Sirahs, Beaujolais crus, and Argentinean Malbecs.  Malcolm Forbes like Chateau Margaux (and I know that’s what Wino John sucks down with his burgers).

The June 15 Wine Spectator profiles San Francisco.  Find this issue and save it if you’re headed out there anytime soon.  If you’re not headed to SF, find the issue and book a trip using your frequent flyers or cheap fares.  San Francisco and New York are two of my favorite cities to visit and this issue provides a guide (well dog-eared in the case of mine).  There are also quickie references to one day wine trips to Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Cruz (my recommendation, go for three or four days to wine country and do it right).

The 2000 vintage wasn’t great for California’s Zinfandel and the June 15th Spec provides an article listing the best vintages of that group and what to look forward to or look out for.  Unpredictable is probably a kind word in this article.

The June issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine is a little sparse, content-wise (WEB opinion, the issue did have articles other than the ones I mention; I just wasn’t interested).  I was pleased with the article about the Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon vertical tasting.  Mondavi was one of the major reasons for the explosion of quality wines from California and his Reserve Cabs were the start of higher quality wines on a major scale (Wino John:  I think I still have a bottle of the ’85 in my cellar and the article says to drink it now).  “Adventures in California Wine Country” is an interesting article, perhaps more slanted to someone who becomes bored after a day of touring wineries.

Wine Spectator’s June 30th issue profiles several major regions: Burgundy, Alsace, and Tuscany.  Tear out the buying guide and skip the reading if you’re short on time.  The Brunellos from Tuscany are high on my shopping list this week.  There’s also an article on Edinburgh, Scotland for the Scotland-bound traveler.

The July Wine Enthusiast picks up in content over its June issue.  A Sonoma sojourn is a great article on a four day trip through Sonoma County, one of my favorite places to visit.  File this article for reference if you’re headed out anytime soon.  Another article worth clipping is titled “Beyond White Wine with Fish”.  I was looking for Wino Bob’s byline, but couldn’t find it.  I plan on buying a few of the recommendations for my next fish dinner.

The Spec’s July 31st issue takes us to tasting articles on California Chardonnay and Bordeaux.  Clip the buying guide and get out there now before this issue becomes dog-eared.  There’s an interesting article on seven pioneering California winemakers, but if you don’t need the fodder for B.S. around a wine tasting, bag it.  A review of Boston area restaurants caps this issue, but since I am not headed that far north anytime soon, I can’t tell you whether the selections are good or not (how about it, Boston area winos?).

That’s all for now.  I’ll update you in another couple of months or so.

Wino Wally
July 14, 2002



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