October 2008
Features at Wine & Spirits

Editor's Note


Peter Liem


Bordeaux 2005
  tasted 294, top wines 75,   best buys 32

Year's Best American

  tasted 427, top wines 39,   best buys 8

Year's Best Greece
  tasted 227, top wines 28,   best buys 22

Year's Best Ribera Del

  tasted 74, top wines 34,   best buys 6

American New Releases
  tasted 504, top wines 52,   best buys 25

Imported New Releases
  tasted 836, top wines 160,
  best buys 74

The Best New Sommeliers of 2008
Wine has gone national, and so too has the career of the sommelier. As the five people in the following pages demonstrate, national no longer means San Francisco and New York. In fact, neither city is represented in this year's sommelier poll-a first in the history of our peer voting. This year's winners are spread throughout the country, from the tip of Florida up to the Great Lakes and over to southern California; they each devote significant time to travel and study with the masters. These five young professionals are passionately devoted to the craft of the sommelier, and each one is performing at the top of his game. We're proud to present America's Best New Sommeliers.

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

Northwest Chardonnay meets Sustainable Seafood
The emblem of Northwest cuisine-grilled salmon served with a big, oaky Washington chardonnay-is becoming a rarity, and changing tastes are only partly to blame. Wild salmon is as much a seasonal food in the Cascade region as Index cherries and Honeycrisp apples, and the opening days of the best known salmon runs are trumpeted in every media outlet from the Californian to the Canadian borders. But this year, major runs in California, Oregon, and Alaska have collapsed, and while the scientists search for reasons, salmon prices have soared. Even in a region whose diners are intimately familiar with "sustainable seafood" lists, the salmon-scarcity issue has been a wakeup call.

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

Sommeliers rethink winemaking
One bright winter day last January a half-dozen or so sommeliers headed up to Hanzell Vineyards in the hills above Sonoma Valley to taste wine. The tasting was slightly out of the ordinary as the sommeliers were there to taste wines that they themselves had made under their own labels. They included Kevin O'Connor of Spago in Los Angeles, John Lancaster of Boulevard in San Francisco, Rajat Parr of Michael Mina, Paul Roberts, then of The French Laundry, as well as former sommeliers Greg Harrington and Larry Stone. Michael Terrien, Hanzell's then-winemaker, says he organized the tasting because he was "curious to see how a sommelier thinks about making wine."

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

If you are rushing up from the Route National to photograph the great Romanée-Conti vineyard, you might miss the village of Vosne. Small, stone hewn and horizontal, running along the base of the great Côte d'Or, Vosne-Romanée is modest and inconspicuous at first. It is only when you park the car by the rather grand Mairie and begin to wander its tiny lanes that the place comes to life. Fewer than 500 people live in the discreet little village, many of them engaged in making wine; it is surprising how many producers are hidden within its narrows streets. Domaine Engel, Domaine Gros, Méo-Camuzet and the Château de Vosne-Romanée reveal themselves behind stone walls or wrought iron gates. The celebrated Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) is nestled into a courtyard at the northwest corner of the village.

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

Mediterranean Reds
Three overlooked grapes-prieto picudo, maratheftiko and nero d'avola-are changing the wine scene in Spain, Cyprus and Sicily.

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