The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2016

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10  /  the tasting panel  /  november 2016 LETTER FROM THE EDITOR When people find out I have a connection to the wine business (and I'm sure most of the people reading this get the same ques- tion) they invariably ask: "What's your favorite wine?" I patiently answer: "I have different favorites in different situations and with different foods." That usually defuses the situation so we can move on to discussing more important matters, such as Kim Kardashian's Paris jewel heist or Bruno Mars's hot new single. But after tasting and writing about wine for 40 years or so, I certainly do have favorites. I'd be pretty lame if I didn't. When judging wines, however, I play no favorites. I assess each wine on its own merits, even Petite Sirah. But that doesn't mean, when I'm in the cellar or confronted by a wine list, I don't gravitate to my favorites. So, what are my favorites, anyways. Here's a list: WELL-AGED PRESTIGE CUVÉE CHAMPAGNE Top-line Champagnes that are at least ten years old take on a very fascinating extra dimension. They develop a seductive nutty quality without losing crisp acidity. Currently, I'm drinking vintages from the '80s and '90s. PINOT NOIR I developed my taste for wine with this variety. My father was a Burgundy lover, and there was always a bottle of elegant red on the table when I was growing up. The growth of the variety in California, Oregon and New Zealand has only added to my pleasure. THE BIG B'S FROM ITALY I adore Italian reds because their firm acidity makes them ideal with food. Best of the great indigenous native variet- ies are Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, and their finest examples are Barolo and Brunello. Recent vintages of these two iconic wines have shown how truly great they really are. RHÔNES, RED AND WHITE I'm particularly fond of Grenache, but I love Syrah too. Both have sensual depth, lush texture, spice and bright earth notes. I also like the aromatics of Viognier and the lusciousness (is that a word?) of Marsanne and Roussanne. WHITE BURGUNDY The finest examples of wine made from Chardonnay come from eastern France. Montrachet, Meursault and, especially, Chablis express the true character of the world's most popular variety. GERMAN RIESLING This elegant grape has its most ethereal expression in the steep vineyards of the Mosel and the Rheingau. From dry to sweet, these wines are magnificent on their own or with food. ARGENTINE MALBEC It took an American vintner—Paul Hobbs—to suggest that this variety might do well in the high desert vineyards of Argentina. A great red wine with balance, depth, structure and finesse—at a good price. There are more, but I'm running out of space: Cabernet Sauvignons from France and Northern California; Merlot from Italy, France, Napa, Long Island and Washington; Sauvignon Blanc from all over the place. I just like wine. I guess I picked the right profession. Playing Favorites

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