December '08
Features at Wine & Spirits

Editor's Note


Fined & Filtered
  New Urban Wineries;   Sommeliers at the movies
Peter Liem
  on natural viticulture in   Champagne

Fiona Morrison:
  Bordeaux 2008

Patricio Tapia
  on the heights of
  Rioja Alta

  tasted: 260,
  top wines: 112,
  best buys: 16

Year's Best
  Cabernet & Blends

  tasted: 353
  top wines: 106
  best buys: 12

Year's Best
   Barolo & Barbaresco

  tasted: 79
  top wines: 21
  best buys: 2

Year's Best Rioja
  tasted: 169
  top wines: 40
  best buys: 14

Year's Best
  German Riesling

  tasted: 323
  top wines: 103
  best buys: 28

Year's Best Porto
  tasted: 46
  top wines: 16

American New Releases
  tasted: 387
  top wines: 35
  best buys: 14

Imported New Releases
  tasted: 410
  top wines: 62
  best buys: 39

Roadtrip Napa Valley
Recently, an editorial in the Napa Valley Register reported on Camino, a new restaurant in Oakland, California–awarded three stars by the San Francisco Chronicle–where there are no wines from Napa Valley on the list. In the 1990s, California wine as a whole, and Napa Valley in particular, had dominated restaurant wine lists. Ten years ago, it would have been unusual to open a restaurant in northern California without Napa Valley wines on the list. The Napa Valley Register didn't question what had changed–other than the sommeliers–but rather asked what locals could or should do to gain back the lost ground.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

Farmers' Daughters
Filipa Pato is one of the bright young talents of Portuguese winemaking. Thirty-three years old, she's short, attractive and a little crazy, but in a nice sort of way. She also has a famous father, Luis Pato, widely acknowledged to be the leading producer in the Bairrada region. When I arrived at Quinta do Ribeirinho on a warm July day to meet with them both, I was introduced to her partner, William Wouters (a restaurateur from Antwerp, Belgium, who Filipa describes as "crazy about wine"). They were to be married in ten days time.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

Douro Extravagence
The Douro Valley, home to Port and, increasingly, to Portugal's highest-rated table wines, may be Europe's most beautiful vineyard area. But it is remote, known only to intrepid travelers, or, more likely, to friends of the Port barons, the former prepared to slum it in bug-infested guest houses, the latter sipping chilled Tawny with their hosts in private quintas.

For more than a century, the most reliable way in was by train. The railway meanders up the valley, providing what the BBC has described as "one of the great train journeys of the world."

Once the river was dammed it was only a matter of time before cruise ships began sailing from its mouth at Oporto up to Salamanca in Spain. And in 2004, the motorway opened from Lisbon to Régua, the region's capital. The Douro's obvious appeal to upscale tourism has seen the arrival of at least three world-class luxury hotels, with more doubtless to come.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.

Cucina Povera
My grandfather, Vincenzo, was born in the town of Acerra, located just outside Naples. In 1910 he booked steerage on a boat for America and, after wrapping his few belongings in a blanket and bidding farewell to his family, made the long journey across the ocean and past the Statue of Liberty to Ellis Island. From there, he went to Chicago and settled into the Italian ghetto on the South Side. Most of the Italians who came to the New World were from the impoverished south and this community, like those in other large cities throughout America, was a microcosm of life back home: The smell of bubbling tomato sauce wafted from tenements, pizzaiole hawked their wares in the streets and a cacophony of southern dialects filled the air.

The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.