EDITOR'S NOTE—summer reading... and drinking
When Tara Q. Thomas joined Wine & Spirits in 1997, she brought Greek wines with her. Already knowledgeable about the local grape varieties and the top producers at the time, she continued to travel and taste–who wouldn't want to spend time on Santorini?–and is now one of the foremost palates for Greek wine internationally. For this issue, Tara explored the northwest corner of Greece, where some of the coolest vineyard sites in the country are producing extraordinary wines (p. 28). Amyndeon and Velvendos are not yet household names, but if you're curious to discover something new, you're not likely to find a better guide than Tara.
Patricio Tapia spent his April in Basque Country, searching out the dining spots locals love, the ones that fly under the radar (p. 18). Another tough gig. His report on four of the region's top restaurants is one great itinerary for travelers to Spain this summer.
Wolfgang Weber, our critic for Italian wines, has been fascinated by some of the new pinot gris coming out of California, several playing off of the trend for natural wine in northeast Italy. At his suggestion, we tasted the Wind Gap Pinot Gris in the New York office and shrugged... until the next day, when oxygen had worked its magic and the wine began to open up. He tracked down several pinot gris specialists along the coast and found some of the most exciting new white wines coming out of California (p. 32).
That's what I'll be drinking this summer, along with plenty of Vinho Verde. As for which Vinho Verde, I spent a week this spring in the hills of northeast Portugal visiting quintas and tasting some delicious 2008s right out of tank (p. 24). The care in farming and clean winemaking provided the biggest difference between this trip and those I made ten or 20 years ago: Among the wines I preferred on site, many are now available in the States in the same excellent condition–the best new Vinho Verdes are wines that travel well. The best have already arrived here as great, fresh Atlantic wines.
If you're looking for more spirited refreshment, you might seek out a tequilier for guidance. Chris Hallowell heard several experts tout this credential and it caught his attention. He asked Paul Clarke to profile several bartenders specializing in Tequila, and Peter Meehan to catch up with tequiliers who work at the intersection of Tequila and food. It's a sommelier's approach to spirits.