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   by Lou Bustamante

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February 2012  Features at Wine & Spirits

Anatomy of a Field Blend
In mid-November, you get a sense of Saitone Ranch’s diversity just by looking at it. A block in the northeast corner of the vineyard, planted mostly to alicante bouchet, flares up fire-engine red in the late morning sunshine. Meanwhile, the scraggly head-trained chasselas and muscadelle are still a verdant green. Planted around 1895 above a Russian River flood plain, Saitone Ranch is predominantly zinfandel. But like many of Sonoma County’s pre-Prohibition vineyards, there’s clearly a lot more here than just zin.
The complete article is available in the print edition of Wine & Spirits.


Red Rising
  Pairing wine with Chinese food
Zachary Yu, a young, energetic sommelier with rock-star hair and a card that reads “Wine Guy,” walks us to a table in the back of the Ming Court dining room. Last year, the restaurant on the sixth floor of Hong Kong’s Langham Place Hotel made a bid to become the city’s go-to spot for Chinese food and wine when it expanded the cellar to more than 400 selections. Now, along with One Harbour Road at the Grand Hyatt, it’s one of Hong Kong’s only Chinese-cuisine restaurants with an extensive wine program.

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


The Chill Above, the Chalk Below Gualtallary
  The new frontier for Argentine Malbec
Closing in on 5,000 feet above sea level, the terrain southwest of Mendoza becomes extreme. Hawthorn bushes are scattered at random among the jarrillas, plants that look parched until they bloom into pale yellow flowers. Here and there, small shrubs of rose pepper grow among the rosemary, thyme and cactus.

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


Wines of the Pacific
  The far coast wines of California and Chile
In November, nine Chileans and five visitors from the US convened in Casablanca for the first annual Wines of the Pacific tasting. Mariana Martinez, the editor of planetavino.com, and I worked together on organizing the event, which was sponsored by Pro|Chile.
Read the full article here.


Cool-Climate Buzz
  Shiraz in the Yarra Valley
The trendiest red wine in the Yarra Valley right now is not pinot noir. It’s not cabernet sauvignon. It’s shiraz. Or syrah, as the cool winemaking kids prefer to call it —and with good reason: stylistically, the best modern Yarra shiraz —spicy, medium-bodied, refined, juicy —has far more in common with new-wave St-Joseph from the northern Rhône than pretty much anything coming out of Australia’s famous warm-climate shiraz-producing regions.

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