June 2007

Editor’s Note

Fined & Filtered


Year's Best
Argentine & Chilean Reds

Spirits: David Wondrich
on the best for sipping solo

Drinks: Moonshine
Pableaux Johnson
on homemade spirits

Joshua Greene
on great Italian pinot noir

Peter Liem on Loire's
ungrafted cabernet franc

Letter from Bordeaux
Fiona Morrison MW
on the 2006 vintage

Last Sip
Drinking in the Middle East
by Akhil Sharma

Value Wines
Overview by Philippe Newlin

tasted: 285 reviewed: 53

tasted: 234 reviewed: 56

Southern Italy
tasted: 181 reviewed: 44

tasted: 101 reviewed: 22

American New Releases
tasted: 387 reviewed: 81

Imported New Releases
tasted: 287 reviewed: 91

tasted: 1,475 reviewed: 347

Critic's Picks for Value
Wine lovers and critics tend to define greatness in wine with concepts like typicity, finesse, tension and poise. When it's time to focus on the everyday enjoyment of wine, we would add one more factor to the list: value.
      Take the Wine & Spirits team of critics. As a group, it's fair to say we're on intimate terms with the world's greatest vineyards and the wines they produce. But we're also human-that is, we're wine drinkers on a budget who throw parties or host dinners. So we asked each of our critics to open their refrigerators and pull bottles from their wine racks to reveal some of the great buys they've purchased lately.
     The answers range from Finger Lakes riesling to lively gamay from Beaujolais, bracing bubbly from Spain and Italy and nervy menc’a from Spain's Bierzo. Most of the wines can be found for $15 or less; some may exceed this level by a handful of dollars, but remain outstanding values for their qualityĐprice ratio. For more great values, check out the Value Brands of the Year (p. 42) and our 100 Top Values on page 70...

Value Brands of the Year
You've got limited time. You're on a budget. And you have standards. Yet you are surrounded by an endless array of wines on your local store shelves. What's a discerning person in a hurry to do?
     One solution is to work off a short list of brands that perform consistently well across a range of wines. We've done the homework for you, by pouring through the results of a year's worth of tastings-some 2,275 wines priced $15 or less. We singled out the brands that came up time and again with recommendations for superior value offered for the price. We feature the 43 standouts here-American wineries first, followed by the rest of the world, organized by country- with information on what each winery does best.
     We also offer tips on what situations might best show off the wines-from summer poolside quaffing to backyard barbecues to sit-down white tablecloth dinners. These are the brands you can rely on for any informal occasion...

The 21st Century Negociant
Cameron Hughes loves to talk-to anyone. Which is probably what makes him a natural-born salesman. To watch his in-store pitch is to see someone channeling, unmediated, the spirit of salesmanship, of top-hatted carnival barkers of yore, of infomercial kings like Ron Popeil and anyone who's ever mounted a soapbox. In Hughes's case, he's talking wine...

Continental Divide
Though their countries share a border, the differences between Argentines and Chileans are as great as the Andes range that separates them. Generalizations are always dangerous and often inaccurate, but it could be said that the Chileans, isolated on one side of South America, are more austere, quiet and, perhaps, more practical. Argentines, closer to Europe, both geographically and historically, having absorbed a large Italian migration, seem louder and more passionate. And the cuisines of these countries, of course, also reflect these differences.

Biking Napa Valley
My bicycling experience of Napa Valley preceded my interest in wine. As a matter of fact, it practically preceded my interest in bicycling. Sometime during the Dark Ages, when I still rode in denim cutoffs and drank California burgundy, I surveyed a local map and divined what looked like an interesting route from Rutherford into Pope Valley and back over Howell Mountain. Today, having long since graduated to lycra shorts and cognizance of the Côte d'Or, I still consider this excursion one of the best bike rides anywhere: an exhilarating blend of scenic beauty, physical challenge and downhill thrills, crowned by the well-known creature comforts that lure noncyclists to Napa Valley from all over the world.