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 February ’10  Features at Wine & Spirits

Carmenère at Fifteen

The complete article is available here.

The Mystery of Napa Valley Zinfandel
I have a confession to make: I don’t drink much zinfandel.
  This might come as a shock to some, who presume that the perpetrator of the 1991 book Angels’ Visits: An Inquiry into the Mystery of Zinfandel (later retitled Zin) is the same person he was two decades ago, when still relatively new to wine. I, however—like you—have changed; and more to the point, so has the wine business. I doubt I need to provide much detail about the nature of the transformations: the steroidization of wines and vines; the corporate consolidation of the industry; the conversion of once—diverse Napa Valley into a cabernet—clogged bottleneck for lifestyle investors—all of which make it more difficult to find satisfying, unaffected zin.

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

The Rhône’s Ouvèze
The Ouvèze river flows from behind Provence’s tallest mountain, Mont Ventoux, to join the Rhône 120 kilometers later, just south of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The valley it follows is home to some of the unsung vinous treasures of the southern Rhône. Just after the river leaves the hills at Vaison-la-Romaine, the valley widens to make room for some of its most interesting vineyards: Gigondas, Vacqueyras and the village appellations of Cairanne, Rasteau, Seguret and Sablet. Walled medieval villages cling to the upper slopes on either side, above vines that bask in sun more than 320 days a year. It is hot in summer and very cold and clear in winter, especially when the mistral wind rips through the area from the north, strong enough to “blow the horns off a bull,” as the locals say. Healthy conditions like these make it an excellent environment in which to practice organic farming, and more and more vintners are heading this way.

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

Dinner with Malbec
All of a sudden, the desert is in bloom.
  Although it hardly seems so today, Mendoza is a desert; it’s been turned into a garden thanks to the waters that run down from the Andes Mountains, channeled through hundreds of canals. Not only is this desert in bloom-vine-wise-but in recent years there has also been a tourism boom that has changed the face of Mendoza and its desert surroundings.

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