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Defining Japan's Wine Terroir (Wine Spectator)

January 10, 2019 - 9:45am

The Japanese wine industry is maturing, gaining new recognition and increasing sales thanks to improving quality. That's led the government to take the first steps toward a true appellation system, noting on labels where grapes were grown.

But that's created a challenge for wineries, because most don't own vineyards and many source fruit from multiple regions. And an aging population of farmers means that vineyard acreage is actually shrinking just as demand for local wines is growing.

New laws safeguard Japanese terroir

Wine is the only sector of Japan's alcoholic beverage market that is growing annually by volume. In 2017, the government granted manufacturing licenses for fruit wine to 39 new entities, according to the National Tax Agency.

Before the new regulations, there were few rules for labeling wine in Japan. This meant consumers with little knowledge of domestic wine couldn't easily distinguish between bottles. Wine made from imported grape juice concentrate was sold alongside domestic wine as "Japanese."

Imported grapes could also be blended with domestic grapes, and the resulting wines sold without concern for place names. There were no official restrictions on naming regions on labels when mixing grapes from different locations, with the exception of wines sourced from the Yamanashi and Nagano prefectures. (Those regions have a longer winemaking history, and labeling laws were enacted more than a decade ago.)

The new regulations from the National Tax Agency, which went into effect at the end of October 2018, state that only wines made from 100 percent domestically grown grapes can be labeled as Japanese wine. The rules also create a new geographical indication system restricting the use of place names to wines using at least 85 percent fruit from that place. Also, more than 85 percent of a single grape variety must be used to put the grape name on the label.

With new rules, complications

While the new law will make it clear to consumers where their wine comes from, it's also creating headaches for wineries. For a long time, wineries were not permitted to have vineyards. New rules passed in 2009 included measures to allow wineries to rent agricultural land, but it is still much cheaper for wineries to buy fruit than to cultivate vines.

While large companies are starting to plant their own vineyards and more established wineries have long-term relationships with farmers, smaller producers have to build partnerships and make spot buys, often from different areas each year. Under the new geographical indicator rules, wineries might need to redesign labels annually.

Hisayuki Kawabe, winemaker at Takahata Wine in Yamagata, said that many of Japan's wineries name themselves after their town or local area, but don't always source grapes from the same place. "Three quarters of our wine is made with local fruit," said Kawabe, who spent 15 years making wine in California, "and I'm making the needed adjustments with careful consideration about how best to present new information on the labels."

Takahata Wine also makes more than 50 private labels for hotels, resorts and other businesses around the country that want souvenirs to offer customers. All those clients will need to adjust their labels. Kawabe worries that up to half of the smaller businesses might simply stop their orders because the cost and time of consultation and redesign might be too much.

Grape shortages on the horizon

The changes come at a time when the number of farmers is declining. Over the past 10 years, Japanese vineyard land has decreased by 3,600 acres, a reduction of roughly 8 percent, according to government statistics. While there are more wineries, the number of growers is decreasing due to the aging population. There are also reports that some elderly farmers refuse to sell land held by their families for generations, despite not having successors.

Even Japan's most popular grape is hard to find. Koshu is a white grape variety, slightly pink in color, and long-grown in Yamanashi. A hybrid of Vitis vinifera and Asian grapes, it is considered native to Japan. Roughly 10 years ago, many growers replanted their vineyards, switching from Koshu to table grape varieties that sold for higher prices. Then, Koshu wine started to gain popularity, pushed enthusiastically by Japan's wine community as being uniquely Japanese.

"The amount of Koshu grapes being grown is far below what winemakers would like," said Kunio Naito, managing director of Tokyo importer and retailer Cave de Relax.

Lessons from two historic regions

While the new laws will create growing pains, two historic wine regions that have had similar rules for more than 15 years show the long-term impact may be good for the wine industry. Yamanashi is Japan's oldest and most famous wine region—the first record of wine produced there is from the 19th century, and some believe winemaking dates even farther back. It's home to quality wineries like Château Mercian. It has the highest number of wineries and is home to the town of Koshu, which the grape was named for. Just across the border in Nagano is Shiojiri, another well-known wine area.

Toru Mochizuki, an advisor at the Yamanashi Wine Manufacturer's Association, said most Yamanashi wineries use local grapes. Wineries there have been focusing on growing the region.

Neighboring Nagano has acted to encourage growth within its wine sector by designating four new wine areas, said Sasateru Maruyama, an official at the local spirits section of the Nagano prefectural government. "The Chikumagawa, Kikyogahara, Nihon Alps and Tenryugawa Wine Valleys promote wine production and tourism in the regions," said Maruyama.

The region is also addressing the issues of dwindling farmland. "Despite the decrease in farmers here, the area of local cultivation is increasing as prefectural policies and training programs help wineries and younger growers take over farmland," said Takaro Miyajima, from the government's horticulture and livestock division. New vineyards are also being created with joint funding from the Japanese government.

While the new regulations will strengthen the position of Japan's winemakers, the next step is ensuring vintners have enough grapes and educating consumers about regional wine. And it will be up to winemakers to make that push. "There are no penalties attached to the new regulations," said Kawabe. "We don't know if everyone is going to protect the new regulations or not."

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Dine at an NYC Restaurant Award Winner for Less (Wine Spectator)

January 9, 2019 - 9:15am

NYC Restaurant Week returns for its winter season, Jan. 21–Feb. 8, with discounted dining at some of the city’s top restaurants, including 77 winners of Wine Spectator's Restaurant Awards for wine-list excellence. Now in its 27th year, the promotion by the city’s tourism bureau offers two-course lunches for $26 and three-course dinners for $42. Reservations are now open at nearly 400 participating restaurants across all five boroughs, spanning a wide range of cuisines.

The promotion provides a chance for diners to explore beyond their usual spots, according to Chris Heywood, senior vice president of global communications for NYC & Company. “If there’s a restaurant that you’ve been waiting to try and you’ve been putting it off, this is the time of year to do it,” Heywood said.

While the promotion doesn’t include wine, the discounted meals help encourage diners to experience some of the higher-end destinations with award-winning beverage programs. In addition, some restaurants independently craft wine pairings for the prix-fixe meals.

“Wine lovers flock to New York to explore the city’s great wine cellars,” said Wine Spectator executive editor Thomas Matthews. “We invite visitors to the city to become part of our wine community.”

Best of Award of Excellence winner Aureole, which has been participating in Restaurant Week since the initiative began in 1992, will feature optional by-the-glass pairings for each course, along with a “sommelier’s selection” of value wines in the range of $50 to $75.

“Hopefully it leads to future business, but also even more enlightened dining experiences for guests,” said head sommelier Candace Olsen.

NYC Restaurant Week has come a long way since it was created as a promotion for delegates at the 1992 Democratic National Convention. It now runs twice a year and has inspired similar programs in cities such as Miami and Las Vegas.

To learn more and sign up for email updates, visit

Is It Cold Outside? You Might Be Drinking More (Wine Spectator)

January 7, 2019 - 7:00am

You know the old saying, "It's all about location, location, location"? It might apply to how much alcohol you drink. Recent research published in the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases' online journal, Hepatology, shows a link between a region's climate and its average alcohol consumption—specifically, the lower the temperatures and the fewer the sunlight hours, the higher the drinking levels.

"Everybody assumes that people drink a lot in the north of America because it's cold, but we were surprised that nobody has ever studied that," Dr. Ramon Bataller, professor at the University of Pittsburgh, chief of hepatology at the university's medical center and the study's senior author, told Wine Spectator.

To investigate this hypothesis, Bataller and a multi-national team of researchers looked at data from the World Health Organization, the World Meteorological Organization and other large, public data sets to gather information on 193 countries, all 50 U.S. states, and 3,144 U.S. counties. They ran a systematic analysis of different areas' alcohol consumption patterns and levels—measured as the total intake per capita, the percent of the population that drinks, and the incidence of binge drinking—as well as the average annual sunshine hours and average temperature, to see if there is in fact a correlation between alcohol consumption and climate.

Though their research did not look at why this correlation exists, according to Bataller, there are multiple factors that likely play a part. The most prevalent is that alcohol is a vasodilator, meaning it temporarily opens the blood vessels, bringing warm blood to the skin and making the body feel warmer in cold weather. (If you've ever heard a college kid throw out the term "beer blanket," this is what they're talking about.)

Plus, colder temps and darker days can limit a person's options for leisure activities, leading them to stay indoors and drink more than they would if they were spending more time outdoors. Bataller also notes that cold weather and low quantities of sunlight are linked with depression, which could cause a person to drink more.

It's worth noting that this study does not break down a place's temperatures and daylight hours by season, so it's tough to say whether people drink more during the winter than in the summer, regardless of where they live. "I would say this study suggests that maybe [people drink more during the colder months], but the seasonal thing has not been proven by any study," Bataller said. "This is important because some of the coverage [of this study] has said that alcohol should not be advertised in the winter time. But that is not a direct consequence of the study. You can speculate that if you want, but we have not studied seasons of the year."

Like many studies that have to do with alcohol and health, this one shows a correlation, not a direct causation, and it's important to keep in mind that there are countless other factors that can determine how much an individual drinks. It's certainly not a reason to be alarmed—nor an excuse to overindulge—if you live in an area with lower temps. As long as you are conscious about how much you drink—and the reasons why you're drinking—the cold shouldn't bother you, anyway.

Want to learn more about how wine can be part of a healthy lifestyle? Sign up for Wine Spectator's free Wine & Healthy Living e-mail newsletter and get the latest health news, feel-good recipes, wellness tips and more delivered straight to your inbox every other week!

Predictions for 2019: Wine-Inspired Royal Baby Name; #WineBeerEmoji Campaign (Wine Spectator)

January 3, 2019 - 4:00pm

Now that all the New Year's poppers have popped, Champagne has been drunk, and novelty party glasses manufacturers finally stopped puzzling over how the hell to fit lenses into the numerals "2019," it's time for Unfiltered to take on our own annual challenge: Predicting the year in wine and pop culture to come.

At this time in 2018, we thought we had it all figured out, but now, one year older and wiser, we can see we only had most of it figured out. We predicted that like all other movies, wine movies would only be made in trilogies, and Somm 3 saw to it. We thought 2018 would be the year the wine robots learned to feel love, and for a time they did, happily mixing drinks and cracking jokes for their human caretakers—until we pushed them too far. And finally, we called it that chef José Andrés would win the Nobel Prize, vanquishing longtime rival Bobby Flay in a harrowing test of culinary ingenuity, ingredient artistry and human empathy. (OK, so far we only know Andrés has been nominated for the prize.)

What do we divine for two-zero-one-nine? Read on, and hold us to it! Get the Unfiltered newsletter delivered straight to your inbox on alternating Fridays—all the latest scoop on drinks in sports, movies, music, politics, art, crime and more!

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Bestow Wine-Inspired Name Upon Their Royal Baby

There's nothing that could top the excitement, the intrigue and the gossip that marked last year's Royal Wedding … except, that is, this year's Royal Baby! The Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced in October that they are expecting their first child together, and the world is already cooing over the little Lady or Lord—and placing bets on what the bundle of joy will be named. Among the Victorias and Alberts and other royal-sounding suggestions floating around, Unfiltered is offering another possibility: Considering the wine-centric craze surrounding the couple's nuptials, Harry and Meghan will surely name their child after a wine, grape or region!

The question is, what will it be? Perhaps Eden or Olivier, after one of the wines rumored to be at their wedding reception. Or maybe there will be a little baby Tig (short for "Tignanello") to pay homage to Meg's favorite super Tuscan. Start your betting now!

Unfiltered to Demand #WineBeerEmoji

In 2018, the cool teens of Kendall-Jackson, Flora Springs and a handful of other wineries got together to write up a proposal for the creation of a #WhiteWineEmoji. Without the white wine emoji, wrote the authors to the Unicode Consortium (the keepers of phone glyphs), how were emoji users to convey "glass of white wine"? "The image of a 'red wine glass' + 'white box' does not clearly translate the meaning of 'white wine' in human language," they noted. Too true, of course, but in 2019, we're counterproposing that the proposal does not go far enough.

Kendall-Jackson We fight on.

"Today, wine is ubiquitous worldwide and evokes strong personal and emotional connections and opinions," the winery petitioners argued in 2018. "In its simplest form, it boils down to, 'Are you a red or a white wine drinker?'"

With all due respect, this is antiquated thinking. It's 2019, and more and more people are identifying as pink wine drinkers, blue wine drinkers, green wine drinkers and other libational expressions that don't fit into a pat red/white wine binary. Their voices need to be emojed too, which is why in 2019, we're advocating for a #WineBeerEmoji. We submit that the image of a 'red wine glass' + 'clinking beer mugs' does not clearly translate the meaning of 'winebeer' in human language. As more and more people embrace their alcohol fluidity in 2019, we should have an emoji to celebrate our love of winebeer in our &#x1F3E0, &#x1F3DD or &#x1F6A1.

Millennials to Ruin Wine, Music with Cult Cab Reboots of Mediocre '90s Jams

Last year, we predicted (more or less) that the Millennials' nostalgia for remakes would ruin movies, and we weren't wrong—we just weren't thinking big enough. In fact, everywhere you looked in pop culture, the hits, hot trends and heartthrobs from the Y2K-era Millennial middle-school years were cool again in 2018: Mission Impossible, Super Mario Smash, Panic! At the Disco, Dick Cheney, daring your friends to eat detergent …

Mariah Carey / Vevo Mariah Carey may be the Songbird Supreme, but she prefers Caymus to Screaming Eagle.

We thought 2018 would be all about wine movie reboots, but it was the musicians who scored the soundtrack to the late '90s and early '00s who made a splash on the wine scene: 50 Cent and the Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon released bottles full of bub', Pearl Jam poured Washington wine, Lenny Kravitz tasted the stars at Dom Pérignon and Kelly Clarkson took aim at wine haters on Twitter.

But only the Songbird Supreme, Mariah Carey, combined new tunes with retro-hip wine vibes in 2018: On the first song on her new album, "GTFO," Carey laments she "could've sworn you loved me harder / Might as well down this Caymus bottle" in a nod to the heady heyday of cult Napa Cabernet that coincided with the diva's own reign atop the charts.

In 2019, expect to see more faves from your Clinton-era Napster playlists and burned CD-Rs remix their hits with Dad's favorite Cabs: Jay Z's "'99 Harlans," Korn thrasher "Freak on Stag's Leap," Marcy Playground's whimsical low-fi groove "Sex and Kapcsandy," the infamous Los Del Rió earworm that will have you belting out "Ehhhyy Montelena!" Eminem smash "The Real Kapcsandy," Joan Osborne's plaintive "What If God Was Joseph Phelps?", the Verve's one-hit masterpiece "Bitter Sweet Kapcsandy," the Offspring's irreverent "Pretty Fly (for a White Wine)" … As the memorable reworked lines of Chumbawamba will put it: "He drinks an Eisele drink, he drinks a Melka drink, he drinks a Schrader drink, he drinks a Carter drink."

Or Kid Rock, as usual, will capture the moment best, kicking off the alt-rock fest DallaVallepalooza 2019 with an exuberant, "Bawitdaba da bang a dang Kapcsandy!"

'81 Wine Consumers' the Movie Tells Dark Post-Apocalyptic Tale of the 2019 Wine-Shipping Bans

In late 2018, the organization Wine Freedom (operated by the National Association of Wine Retailers) set up a GoFundMe campaign for a key Supreme Court case called Tennessee Retailers v. Zackary Blair, which, if ruled broadly, could have drastic consequences for wine lovers' ability to order their wines online and have them shipped right to them. The $26,120 raised in the campaign resulted in an amicus brief titled "81 Wine Consumers." Word is out it will be adapted to the silver screen (or iTunes). Spoilers ahead.

*Epic movie trailer voice* In a world where the Supreme Court of the United States cares more about states' rights and temperance than the unfettered flow of alcohol products across state lines, a landmark decision led to bans on the little out-of-state retailer shipping that was left in 2019, reducing wine lovers nationwide to have to leave their house, get in their car, and drive 5 minutes to their local wine store to get a bottle of #BarefootOrNothing [a real hashtag in 2019].

81 Wine Consumers tells the stories of every #WineFreedomWarrior who attached their name to the brief, following them along in 81 poignant if brief vignettes, as they come to terms with the annihilation of their wine rights.

Consumer Ashley Brandt (played by Elisabeth Moss) was part of a thriving tasting group in 2018, but after the fateful Supreme Court ruling, it became impossible to find any wines worth comparing and contrasting. The group was forced to disband. And then there's Katherine Granger (Sandra Bullock), who had ordered a case of prized wine just before the shipping ban came into effect, but it arrived too late and was quarantined at a UPS location. She sets out to find her precious Wine Box, which she does blindfolded for some reason that you'll only find out if you just watch the damn movie already.

Advance praise for 81 Wine Consumers:
"A masterpiece. We cried the whole way through."—The National Association of Wine Retailers
"Whoever thought up this plot has a chillingly dark mind … wait this is a true story?!"—The writers of Black Mirror

Unfiltered Hires Special NBA Correspondent LeBron James

You might be surprised to learn that Unfiltered isn't just one pop-culture obsessed wine writer who spends all day trolling Twitter for story leads and watching late-night talk shows for wine references, but instead a collection of linguistically gifted enophiles with varying vinous interests and specialties. But once you recover from the initial shock of this revelation, think about the endless possibilities of whom we could recruit for our team in 2019 ….

While Emmanuel Macron would be a strong addition to the wine-meets-politics beat, and there's perhaps no one better than chef José Andrés to cover the intersection of food and humanitarianism, the one job application Unfiltered is anxiously awaiting is that of basketball superstar LeBron James.

The three-time NBA champion deserves an award for the number of times he's appeared in Unfiltered for his wine-soaked escapades on social media—and considering the surging popularity of wine among athletes (including fellow basketball players, hockey stars, footballers and more), it seems only right that Unfiltered would have someone cover the booming wine-and-sports beat from the inside.

LeBron, if you're reading this: With your birthday, your injury and probably some basketball stuff on your plate, we're sure you've already got plenty to keep you busy, but if you ever feel the urge to write about, say, Sassicaia (one of our favorites too!), DM us!

Enjoy Unfiltered? The best of Unfiltered's round-up of drinks in pop culture can now be delivered straight to your inbox every other week! Sign up now to receive the Unfiltered e-mail newsletter, featuring the latest scoop on how wine intersects with film, TV, music, sports, politics and more.

Exciting Wine Restaurants in Atlanta (Wine Spectator)

January 3, 2019 - 8:30am

When you think about Southern American food, staples like fried chicken, biscuits and collard greens often come to mind. But in cities like Atlanta, star chefs and independent owners alike are expanding local cuisine far beyond the classics, and offering world-class wine programs to match. Here are nine Wine Spectator Restaurant Award–winning destinations for superior wine and food, served with a side of Southern hospitality.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,500 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 91 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to We want to hear from you!

LuAnne DeMeo Aria Restaurant’s sleek dining room sets the stage for chef-owner Gerry Klaskala’s modern menu.

Polished dishes and a diverse wine program
490 E. Paces Ferry Road N.E., Atlanta, Ga.
(404) 233-7673
Open for dinner, Monday to Saturday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 500
Inventory 1,500
Wine strengths Managed by wine director Andres Loaiza, Aria’s wine list is filled with solid picks from classic regions, especially France, Italy and Spain. There’s something for everyone, with bottles ranging from less than $30 to more than $2,000.
Opportunities for discovery At Aria, you’ll also find labels from lesser-known wine regions in Slovenia, Lebanon and the Canary Islands. The diverse list is meant to complement the frequently changing cuisine.
Cuisine Chef-owner Gerry Klaskala’s American menu is constantly evolving, but the restaurant maintains customer favorites like the short rib of beef with pearl onions and potato purée. Produce shines through the dishes, which feature an abundance of vegetables like sunchokes, oyster mushrooms and fennel.
Local dining leader Klaskala is one of the owners at another Best of Award of Excellence winner featured in this guide, Canoe.

Tomas Espinoza Atlas serves produce-focused starters as well as hearty entrées like short rib.

A refined American restaurant with a growing wine list
The St. Regis Atlanta, 88 W. Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, Ga.
(404) 563-7900
Open for dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 520
Inventory 2,730
Wine strengths Manager and beverage director Eleanor Parker oversees the list that excels in France, Italy and California, with dozens of diverse verticals from top producers. The number of selections has more than doubled since 2017.
Cuisine The American menu draws inspiration from global cuisines for a contemporary edge. Chef Christopher Grossman sources ingredients from local farms for dishes like rack of lamb with romesco sauce, roasted corned short rib with grilled scallions and hot-smoked trout with potato mousse and smoked caviar cream.
Premium pours Among more than 70 selections by the glass, you’ll find exciting options like Château d’Yquem Sauternes 2005 and a nine-vintage vertical of Opus One.
Cross-country concepts Atlas is one of nine Restaurant Award winners in the Tavistock Restaurant Collection, including two Abe & Louie's locations, Aquaknox in Las Vegas, Atlantic Fish Co. in Boston, Café Del Rey in Marina del Rey, Calif., Coach Grill in Wayland, Mass., Napa Valley Grille in Los Angeles and Zed451 in Chicago.

Andrea Behrends Enjoy Barcelona Wine Bar’s extensive by-the-glass wine list at the bar.

Wine-centric Spanish dining
240 N. Highland Ave. N.E., Atlanta, Ga.
(404) 589-1010
Open for dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 485
Inventory 3,380
Wine strengths Run by wine director Gretchen Thomas, Barcelona Wine Bar’s list has a significant Spanish focus, rounded out by standout picks from Argentina, Chile and France. Organic, biodynamic and natural wines abound.
Sip and sample There are more than 40 wines by the glass, and each selection is available in either a 6-ounce or 3-ounce pour.
Nationwide name The wine-bar brand has 14 Best of Award of Excellence–winning outposts across the country. Atlanta’s other location has 485 selections too, with matching strengths in Spain, Argentina, Chile and France.
Cuisine While all Barcelona Wine Bars feature Spanish-tapas fare, each has its own chef that writes the menu nightly. At this outpost, chef James Burge creates plates like blistered okra with Calabrian chile and almonds, chorizo with sweet-and-sour figs, and spiced beef empanadas.

Bones Bones serves a regional interpretation of steak-house fare in a cozy space.

A Southern-style steak house
3130 Piedmont Road N.E., Atlanta, Ga.
(404) 237-2663
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,300
Inventory 16,000
Wine strengths Bones’ extensive wine list spans the globe, excelling in California, Bordeaux, Italy, Burgundy and Australia. Value is a big priority for wine director Peter Apers, who ensures the program stays moderately priced with reasonable markups and hundreds of labels under $100.
Cuisine Chef Leonard Lewis puts a Southern spin on traditional steak-house dining, serving the shrimp cocktail with roulade sauce and offering side dishes for steaks such as grit fritters, collard greens and corn pudding.
Longstanding steak house Bones has been in business since 1979, and the restaurant has earned a Best of Award of Excellence every year since 1990.
Curated context The wine list is presented on an iPad through a customized software that lets guests browse the selections by variety, region, vintage and more. In addition to standard details, the digital list provides tasting notes, scores and information on the wineries.

James Camp Canoe’s patio overlooks a beautifully manicured lawn on the shores of the Chattahoochee River.

Riverside wine and dining
4199 Paces Ferry Road S.E., Atlanta, Ga.
(770) 432-2663
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 400
Inventory 3,425
Wine strengths Overseen by wine director Jared Lorenz, the program excels in France as well as California, where you’ll find big-name producers like Screaming Eagle and Continuum.
Cuisine Chef Matt Basford incorporates Pan-Asian inspiration into his American cuisine. The result is plates like shiitake-crusted venison with udon noodles. Plus, to honor Basford’s Australian roots, there’s an appetizer of peppercorn-crusted kangaroo.
Natural backdrop Canoe is set on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. Though it’s only about a 20-minute drive from downtown Atlanta, the restaurant feels peacefully secluded, surrounded by lush greenery with a large porch for outdoor dining. Lounge chairs are placed around the property, where guests can enjoy a drink with a side of scenery.
Vibrant venue The restaurant has multiple event spaces for booking, including a wine room decorated with prized bottles. Canoe also hosts its own outdoor live-music series.

Restaurant Eugene Locally sourcing ingredients is a big priority at Restaurant Eugene.

Presenting a sense of place through food and wine
2277 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta, Ga.
(404) 355-0321
Open for dinner, Wednesday to Sunday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 400
Inventory 900
Cuisine The regional American menu changes daily based on what’s available from local artisans and farmers. Chef Chris Edwards treats the local ingredients with French techniques to craft dishes such as overnight pork belly, lacquered quail and a trio of beef with creamed shiitake and arugula.
From-scratch approach Restaurant Eugene creates as much of its ingredients in-house as possible, from sauces to basic pantry staples. It’s all part of the concept’s mission to showcase the bounty of local purveyors.
Wine strengths Wine director Alexandra Brashears is one of several sommeliers who can help guests peruse the eclectic list. France, California, Italy and Washington are the strongest regions in the program.
Strong by-the-glass selections Choose from more than 40 wines by the glass, including 13 high-end labels available by Coravin pour and priced by the ounce. These premium picks cover benchmark producers such as Trimbach and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

Alexa Bendek Starters at White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails include this charred octopus dish.

Regional cooking and a global wine list
270 Peachtree St., Atlanta, Ga.
(404) 524-7200
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 485
Inventory 3,275
Wine strengths Wine director Cindy LeBlanc offers a well-rounded, international wine list. The program shines in classic regions such as France (especially Burgundy), Italy, California and Spain, but Greece and Hungary are also represented.
Cuisine Ingredients like okra, Louisiana redfish and pork belly get a modern reboot from chef Megan Brent on the regional American menu. Even the side dishes are exciting, like cauliflower grits and wild mushroom étouffée and maple-roasted sunchokes.
Southern comfort The dining room reflects the menu’s contemporary Southern feel with white oak panels, exposed light fixtures and three custom chandeliers made from sugar maple from the Jack Daniel's distillery.
Bar-centric space Under a round, wooden structure meant to look like a barrel, White Oak has a 360-degree bar made with Georgia marble. It’s an ideal spot for lingering over one of more than 30 wines by the glass.

City Winery Atlanta City Winery Atlanta has an array of small and large plates to pair with the 360 wine selections.

Serious wines in a fun, casual setting
650 North Ave. N.E., Atlanta, Ga.
(404) 946-3791
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 360
Inventory 2,100
Interactive experience City Winery combines a music venue, restaurant and winery all under one roof. The brand has four other locations that hold Best of Awards of Excellence in New York, Chicago, Nashville and Boston.
Wine strengths Managed by wine director JR Smith, the program is strongest in France, California and Italy. Grape varieties are listed with each selection for an easy-to-navigate, approachable format. Various house wines are served on-tap from the on-site winery, which you can visit by booking a tour through City Winery’s website.
Special section A “reserve” page lists a handful of higher-end bottles to accompany the otherwise moderately-priced selections. Offerings rotate but have included labels such as Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford GIII Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard 2007 ($900) and a magnum of Joseph Phelps Insignia Napa Valley 1992 ($760).
Cuisine Chef Mario Manzini executes City Winery’s signature menu of regional American dishes like deviled eggs with turmeric aioli, pork chop Milanese and braised duck tacos.

Andrew Thomas Lee Chef and restaurateur Ford Fry’s Atlanta empire includes Award of Excellence winner St. Cecilia.

Mediterranean coast–inspired dining
3455 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta, Ga.
(404) 554-9995
Open for lunch, Sunday to Friday and dinner, daily

Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 260
Inventory 1,500
Wine strengths The moderately-priced list is strongest in Italy, France and California, covering benchmark producers from Albert Bichot and R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia to Ruinart and Opus One.
Informative format Wine director Eduardo Porto Carreiro fills the list with helpful information. Each selection is accompanied by the grape varieties, a tasting note and a brief description of the bottling.
Cuisine The Italian-leaning European fare from chef Damon Wise brings the feel of coastal Mediterranean dining to the landlocked city. Pastas and seafood shine on the menu, which offers plates such as squid-ink spaghetti and a lobster and clam pan roast.
Ford Fry family St. Cecilia is one of four Award of Excellence winners in Atlanta from local chef and restaurateur Ford Fry. The group includes American concepts King + Duke and State of Grace, and the French steak house, Marcel.

Keep up with the latest restaurant news from our award winners: Subscribe to our free Private Guide to Dining newsletter, and follow us on Twitter at @WSRestoAwards and Instagram at @WSRestaurantAwards.

Restaurant Spotlight: N5 Wine Bar (Wine Spectator)

January 3, 2019 - 8:00am

Husband-and-wife team Thomas and Anne Cabrol opened N5 Wine Bar in Toulouse, France, in 2013. The restaurant quickly made a name for itself with a wine list that’s lengthy yet thoughtful, earning Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence in 2015. The 4,000-selection, moderately priced list includes an impressive 500 wines by the glass. The program represents regions around the world but focuses on France, where picks are particularly strong in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, the Rhône, the Loire and Languedoc-Roussillon. Thomas oversees the beverage program while Anne serves as chef, and their synergy is evident in the wine-friendly menu of small plates. Several pairings are available, from a 3-glass option for $23 to a 5-glass premium option for $114. In addition to meat- and fish-centric plates, N5 Wine Bar has extensive vegetarian options such as tomatoes with lemon-basil sorbet, gnocchi with mushrooms and a pea tart. It’s all presented in a cozy space with plenty of bottles on display.

Restaurant Spotlight: N5 Wine Bar (Wine Spectator)

January 3, 2019 - 8:00am

Husband-and-wife team Thomas and Anne Cabrol opened N5 Wine Bar in Toulouse, France, in 2013. The restaurant quickly made a name for itself with a wine list that’s lengthy yet thoughtful, earning Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence in 2015. The 4,000-selection, moderately priced list includes an impressive 500 wines by the glass. The program represents regions around the world but focuses on France, where picks are particularly strong in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, the Rhône, the Loire and Languedoc-Roussillon. Thomas oversees the beverage program while Anne serves as chef, and their synergy is evident in the wine-friendly menu of small plates. Several pairings are available, from a 3-glass option for $23 to a 5-glass premium option for $114. In addition to meat- and fish-centric plates, N5 Wine Bar has extensive vegetarian options such as tomatoes with lemon-basil sorbet, gnocchi with mushrooms and a pea tart. It’s all presented in a cozy space with plenty of bottles on display.

Turning Tables: Another Daniel's Broiler Opens in Seattle; New York's Ai Fiori Welcomes New Wine Director (Wine Spectator)

January 3, 2019 - 7:30am
Daniel's Broiler Opens in Downtown Seattle

Daniel's Broiler is now open in the Hyatt Regency in downtown Seattle. It's the largest location of the Schwartz Brothers steak house, which has two Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winners in Washington, one in Bellevue and another in Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood. Both wine lists offer strengths in Washington, California, Oregon and France.

Overseen by Schwartz corporate wine director and general manager Victoria Antilla, the wine list at the new location features 355 selections, including 22 available by the glass and two dozen half-bottles. It shares a focus on domestic and French labels with its two sister outposts, with plenty of big-name labels such as Screaming Eagle, Leonetti and Château Margaux. Antilla hopes to grow and expand the selections over time, which will be driven by guest demand. "I'm really hoping that we do sell a better representation of wines around the world so we can have more of an international balance to the list," she said. The restaurant serves classic steak-house fare, but like its other locations, there is a "plant-based menu" of meatless options.

New York's Ai Fiori Names New Wine Director Courtesy of Ai Fiori Mariarosa Tartaglione brings Italian know-how to Ai Fiori.

Grand Award winner Ai Fiori in New York has a new wine director, Mariarosa Tartaglione, who came from inside the Altamarea Group family. She joined the Ai Fiori team Jan. 1 after serving as head sommelier at Marea, where she worked with the Best of Award of Excellence–winning program under wine director Francesco Grosso. She replaces Alessandro Piliego.

Born in south-central Italy, Tartaglione brings years of fine-dining experience and "immense" Italian wine knowledge to Ai Fiori, according to corporate beverage director Hristo Zisovski. Zisovski doesn't foresee any major changes to the list, though he expects Tartaglione to further bolster its Italian selections, which are already the program's biggest strength.

Wine Dive Brothers Open Vora in Kansas

On Jan. 14, brothers and co-owners Brad and Brent Steven will open Vora in Wichita, Kan. The new concept is located just blocks from their Best of Award of Excellence winner Wine Dive, which has another Best of Award of Excellence–winning outpost in Manhattan, Kan.

Inspired by Brad's travels, Vora will have more of a European focus than the Wine Dive restaurants. The space is bright and airy, with a large patio and private dining spaces for up to 50 guests. Milan-born chef Giovanni D'Angelo will serve a diverse menu of Italian and French dishes, with some influence from countries like Germany, Spain and Austria. Items will range from wood-fired pizzas to classic steak au poivre with Cognac sauce.

The wine program, overseen by Brad, will be more focused than the eclectic Wine Dive lists, offering about 125 labels with 25 available by the glass. It will highlight Italy and France, especially regions like Piedmont and Burgundy, and feature plenty of refreshing, high-acid wines. "Not so much the over-the-top, ripe, high-alcohol wines," Brad told Wine Spectator. "We want these wines to really complement the food."

Now Closed: BLT Prime in New York

BLT Prime's New York location closed Dec. 21 after 13 years in business. The outpost held a Best of Award of Excellence for its 500-selection wine list with strengths in California, France (especially Burgundy) and Italy. A statement from ESquared Hospitality cites "ongoing construction" nearby and "the prohibitive costs of rising New York City rent" as reasons for the closure.

ESquared Hospitality owns 11 Restaurant Award winners across the country, including the Award of Excellence–winning BLT Prime in Doral, Fla.

Keep up with the latest restaurant news from our award winners: Subscribe to our free Private Guide to Dining newsletter, and follow us on Twitter at WSRestoAwards and on Instagram at wsrestaurantawards.

In Memoriam: Winemakers Who Died in 2018 (Wine Spectator)

December 31, 2018 - 1:00pm

Before we look ahead to 2019, Wine Spectator’s editors would like to take a moment to remember the wine and food industry leaders, loved ones, friends and pioneers that passed this year.

We were shocked and saddened by the death of renowned chef, author and television star Anthony Bourdain, who took his own life in June at age 61. Bourdain appeared on the cover of the March 31, 2015, issue of Wine Spectator, for editor at large Harvey Steiman’s extensive profile, “The Cooked and the Raw.” We also bid farewell to beloved California vintner Ulises Valdez, Zinfandel champion Kent Rosenblum, Old World legends Bruno Giacoas and Auguste Clape, and French chefs Joël Robuchon and Paul Bocuse, among many notable others. Now we remember these great contributors to the wine world and more who will be missed in 2019, and we ask our readers to share their memories in the comments, and to add memorials for any other wine-industry friends not listed here.

Paul Bocuse
Eminent French chef Paul Bocuse was a world-renowned innovator and pioneer of Nouvelle Cuisine.

Anthony Bourdain
Chef, author and TV host revealed the hard work and hard living of the cooks in restaurant kitchens.

Ball & Albanese for Wine Spectator Anthony Bourdain loved New York City, but he also loved discovering new lands, food and people.

Ella Brennan
At Brennan's and Commander's Palace, New Orleans restaurateur Ella Brennan recruited chefs Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse.

Courtesy Brennan Family Ella Brennan in her Garden District home. Even in semi-retirement, her philosophy permeated her family's restaurants.

Rudy Buratti
Castello Banfi winemaker Rudy Buratti spent his career in Montalcino making high-quality Brunellos.

Auguste Clape
From his small family estate, Auguste Clape turned the Cornas appellation into a world-renowned source of Syrah.

Gail Skoff Auguste Clape, center, with his grandson Olivier and his son Pierre-Marie at their Cornas winery.

Al Frediani
The grape farmer spent his life working the Calistoga property he'd been born on.

Albert Frère
The richest man in Belgium and a passionate wine lover, Frère was co-owner of Bordeaux’s Château Cheval-Blanc.

Fred Furth
A successful attorney known for his flamboyant personality, Furth built Chalk Hill into a prominent Sonoma estate.

Bruno Giacosa
Known as Barbaresco’s “Maestro,” Giacosa crafted exquisite wines for more than 50 years.

Matthew Molchen Bruno Giacosa in his wine cellar in the Barbaresco town of Neive

Norbert Goldner
Cafe l’Europe chef and co-owner Norbert Goldner ran his landmark Palm Beach restaurant and an outstanding wine program for 37 years.

Robert Haas
Tablas Creek cofounder and Paso Robles pioneer Robert Haas helped popularize Rhône grapes in California, first as an importer, then as a vintner.

Nicolaus Hahn
Hahn Family Wines founder helped put Santa Lucia Highlands on the map.

Eric Albada Jelgersma
Dutch businessman Eric Albada Jelgersma revitalized Bordeaux’s Château Giscours.

Patrick Léon
Former winemaker at Mouton-Rothschild and Opus One and consultant at Château d’Esclans brought international perspective to wine.

Archie McLaren
A lawyer by training, Central Coast Wine Classic founder McLaren was an ambassador and champion for California's Central Coast.

Leonildo “Nino” Pieropan
Soave stalwart was a traditionalist and an innovator for his Italian appellation.

Giuseppe “Beppe” Rinaldi
Barolo vintner Rinaldi crafted pure, complex Barolos for nearly three decades.

Courtesy Rare Wine Co. Beppe Rinaldi was known for his strong beliefs, acerbic wit and gorgeous wines.

Joël Robuchon
Arguably the world's most decorated chef, Robuchon pushed Nouvelle Cuisine to new heights, from Paris to Tokyo to Las Vegas.

Jöel Robuchon earned his third Grand Award, for L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Hong Kong, in 2010.

Hardy Rodenstock
German wine merchant and alleged counterfeiter Hardy Rodenstock reveled in bottles that were too good to be true.

Koerner Rombauer
Pilot-turned-vintner Koerner Rombauer helped define California’s rich style of Chardonnay.

Kent Rosenblum
California veterinarian-turned-winemaker Kent Rosenblum championed old vineyards and ripe Zinfandels.

Courtesy of Rosenblum Kent Rosenblum was known for his bold Zinfandels and his warm, fun personality.

Leslie Rudd
Savvy investor, businessman, philanthropist and Rudd Oakville Estate founder left an indelible mark on California's food and wine scene.

Ulises Valdez
A Mexican immigrant who started as a vineyard laborer, the beloved California vintner became one of Sonoma's most renowned vineyard managers and a winery owner.

Colin Price Ulises Valdez was known for his vineyard knowledge and his trademark smile.

Bob Wilmers
Charming and intelligent, the New York banker and owner of Bordeaux's Château Haut-Bailly built a career as a prudent banker and an unabashed lover of France and Bordeaux.

Sommelier Roundtable: Wine-Inspired Pet Names (Wine Spectator)

December 28, 2018 - 11:00am

With year-end lists of the most popular pet and baby names coming out, we hoped to see the Millennials taking their love of wine into consideration when christening, now that they're becoming parents (or at least dogparents). And while the top names for newborn boys and girls in 2018, according to, were "Jackson" and "Sophia," respectively, we suspect the inspirations for those were not the beloved barrel-fermented Chardonnay and California canned fizzy wine. "Syrah" rose to No. 7,877 in popularity for girls, though "Chardonnay" dropped to No. 12,550.

And among pets, wine-inspiration ran equally dry: It's all Charlies, Bellas and Lucies among's most popular names (although a vinous case could be made for "Cooper").

But among those who live, work and breathe wine and food, a somewhat different picture emerges. So we asked nine wine pros from Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners

Wine Spectator: Do you have any pets (or kids!) with wine- or food-inspired names?

Elizabeth-Rose Mandalou, wine director at Award of Excellence winner Allora in Sacramento, Calif.

I do love horror movies and shows (the more gore the better!), so my dog is named after a character from AMC's The Walking Dead. Her whole name, however, is wine-inspired: Michonne Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Mandalou! Only when she's in trouble does she get called that. Elizabeth-Rose Mandalou Michonne only gets called a second-growth when she's been bad.

Carlin Karr, wine director at Best of Award of Excellence winner Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder, Colo.

I do! A golden retriever/red lab mix named Coche (after Coche-Dury, of course). Carlin Carr Coche practices the 5 S's of dogs: sit, stay, sniff, slurp, savor.

Sabrina Schatz, sommelier at Best of Award of Excellence winner Bobby Flay Steak at the Borgata in Atlantic City, N.J.

I don’t have any pets or children, but my sister-in-law has a Bernese Mountain Dog named Chunk. I call him "Two Buck Chuck" for fun.

Richard Nielsen, sommelier at Best of Award of Excellence winner Angel Oak at the Ritz-Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara, Calif.

I live my life on the fly at the moment, so unfortunately no pets or kids yet. I would like to have a Border Collie named Cana (where Jesus turned water into wine) or an Australian Shepherd named Victoria, if a girl.

Cedric Nicaise, wine director at Grand Award winner Eleven Madison Park in New York

I have a Shiba Inu named Bacon, and I love her.

Richard Hanauer, beverage director for Chicago-based RPM Restaurants, including two locations of Best of Award of Excellence winner RPM Italian and RPM Steak.

My dog's name is Porcini (after the mushroom).

Nancy Oakes, chef and co-owner of Best of Award of Excellence winner Boulevard in San Francisco

My husband got to name the dog, so it's Peanut—so it's food, not wine.

Seán Gargano, wine director at Award of Excellence winner The Legal Eagle in Dublin, Ireland

Definitely not. My wife would kill me.

Emma Balter, assistant editor at Wine Spectator in New York

When I adopted my cat four years ago, I chose the name Chenin, for Chenin Blanc. It's my favorite winegrape, and Chenin [the cat] is white with ginger markings—it was meant to be. The person who found Chenin, in the nearby beach town of Long Beach, N.Y., told me at the time that my weeks-old kitty was female, which I didn't think to check because why (and how) would I? One day, after an embarrassing amount of time that I will not disclose, Chenin rolled over during a play sesh and revealed to me that my adorable little princess had, erm, grown in certain places.

After a totally appropriate number of stages of grief, I accepted my cat's new gender identity and wondered if I should change his name. After all, Chenin sounds a lot like Shannon, which is what everyone thinks I'm saying when they ask me his name. A colleague of mine suggested Pineau d'Aunis, a French grape whose synonym is Chenin Noir. But in the end, I decided to keep his name, because it's the 21st century, dammit, and why should a name be gendered anyway? Although I still have to say on the reg: "No, not Shannon, Chenin. C-H-E-N-I-N. Like the grape."

Emma Balter A boy named Chenin

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Top Wine Stories of 2018 (Wine Spectator)

December 28, 2018 - 10:00am

It was one for the ages. In 2018, many prominent wineries were sold, some to equally big-named wine companies, and others to newcomers to wine. This included Napa's Heitz Cellars, Pinot Noir specialist Kosta Browne and vintner Dave Phinney's Locations brand—can you guess who they sold to? Read on …

Every year, we also say goodbye to important figures of the wine industry, sometimes unexpectedly or too soon. Zinfandel icon Kent Rosenblum died at 74 in September after complications from knee surgery, and Ulises Valdez, a beloved vineyard manager and winery owner, died of a heart attack at 49.

As in any other year, there was no shortage of winecrime in 2018, and with Charles Banks and Rudy Kurniawan now behind bars, our most-read fraud stories came from France, where merchants in Bordeaux and the Rhône Valley allegedly blended cheap wine and passed it off for the good stuff. readers also followed the passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which created headaches (and potential tax hikes) for small wineries due to problematic language in the final bill. Wine lovers were also keen to know why they faced increasing hurdles ordering wine online; state governments and the courts remain battlegrounds, with one important case on its way to the Supreme Court case).

Indeed, we could all use a little wine to get through the biggest stories of the year, and we do our best to deliver. Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2018 highlighted a slate of collectibles as well as great-value wines, the most exciting our tasters reviewed this year. Our regular wine-review roundups and tasting reports also drew thirsty hordes, from wines of prestigious Bordeaux châteaus to good old wine in a can, and everything in between.

Here are the most-read stories published in 2018.

1. Beloved California Vintner Ulises Valdez Dies at 49

Colin Price Ulises Valdez was known for his vineyard knowledge and his trademark smile.

Ulises Valdez emigrated from Mexico at age 16 to work as a vineyard laborer in California, and later became one of the most renowned and skilled vineyard managers in the state, as well as starting his own winery in Sonoma County. He was an example of the American dream, and was remembered fondly by his peers in the wine industry when he died of a heart attack this year at age 49. Wine Spectator spoke with other vintners and looked back on his life and work.

2. Iconic Napa Valley Winery Heitz Cellars Sold

Courtesy of Heitz Cellars Heitz' stone winery is a Napa landmark.

Heitz Cellars is an icon in Napa Valley and a champion of single-vineyard expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon. In April, the winery was sold to Gaylon Lawrence Jr., who is new to wine but not new to agriculture: His family owns farmland in Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Florida, among other business ventures. The sale included more than 400 acres of vineyards, and Lawrence appointed a wine-industry veteran as the winery's new president and CEO.

3. Leading Bordeaux Wine Merchant Accused of Massive Fraud

Suzanne Mustacich Bordeaux's criminal tribunal

In March, Bordeaux's criminal tribunal heard charges against négociant Grands Vins de Gironde, which stood accused of blending hundreds of thousands of liters improperly, including the mixing of table wine with more prestigious appellations. Such illegal practices could tarnish the image of Bordeaux as a producer of fine wines, declared the prosecutor: "It's a question of trust," she said after hours of testimony and arguments.

4. Duckhorn Wine Company Buys Kosta Browne

Courtesy of Duckhorn Napa's Duckhorn is expanding its portfolio of Pinot Noirs with a big name.

Two Wine Spectator Wine of the Year winners came together this July when Merlot specialist Duckhorn purchased Kosta Browne, the Pinot Noir–centric winery in Sonoma. The deal includes its winery, tasting room and inventory, as well as 80 acres of owned vineyards and leases on 90 additional acres. What does the next chapter look like for these two renowned brands?

5. Zinfandel Icon Kent Rosenblum Dies at 74

Courtesy of Rosenblum Kent Rosenblum was known for his bold Zinfandels and his warm, fun personality.

Kent Rosenblum, a former veterinarian, became a winemaker in the 1970s and later a passionate advocate for California Zinfandel. After complications from knee surgery, he died in September at the age of 74. His Zins inspired a new generation of winemakers to focus on the red grape; he was remembered for this legacy to the wine world, as well as for his Sven and Ole jokes.

6. E. & J. Gallo Buys Star Winemaker Dave Phinney's Locations Wine Brand

Courtesy of E. & J. Gallo Dave Phinney built his name with The Prisoner and now has two projects with Gallo.

Once again, E. & J. Gallo saw an opportunity to work with vintner Dave Phinney, whose Orin Swift brand the wine company had purchased two years prior. In June, Gallo acquired Locations, a brand that highlights wine regions around the world by blending across appellations and producing bottlings from France, Spain, Italy, Argentina, various states in the U.S., and much more. Find out how Phinney was inspired to create the Locations brand.

7. Massive Rhône Valley Wine Fraud Reported by French Authorities

iStock Grapes in Châteauneuf-du-Pape fetch a far higher price than the ones that allegedly went into the supposedly counterfeit wines.

A bulk-wine merchant in France's Rhône Valley allegedly sold nearly 50 million liters of table wine as higher-priced appellations such as Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape—see a pattern here? Two executives were implicated in the scheme, which all started with a simple tax audit and spiraled from there.

8. Hailstorms Damage Thousands of Acres of Vineyards in Bordeaux, Imperiling 2018 Vintage

Henry Eng The May 26 hail (blue) started falling south of Bordeaux and tore across multiple regions.

Unfortunately for some vintners, extreme weather is a regular part of being in the business of winemaking. This spring, Bordeaux was hit hard by hailstorms, with the most intense spurt cutting from Pessac in the south to the Right Bank in the north, in the Blaye and Bourg areas. Close to 20,000 acres were impacted, with around 8,500 acres suffering 80 percent damage to the vines. Vintners spoke with Wine Spectator about the imperiled 2018 vintage. To read about how it all turned out, check out our 2018 Bordeaux harvest report.

9. Small Wineries Hoping for Tax Cuts Face Massive Tax Hikes Instead

Gabriela Hasbun Mike Officer of Sonoma's Carlisle Winery & Vineyards was one of many small winemakers facing big tax increases.

When the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed at the end of 2017, and included breaks on alcohol excise taxes, wineries in question were expecting, well, tax cuts. Instead, because of problematic language introduced in the final bill, small wineries were facing tax hikes in the new year, and had to lobby Congress and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to get some reprieve. We looked at why this all happened.

10. Wine Lovers Face Increasing Hurdles Ordering Online

Jeff Amy/AP Photo Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood (left) and Revenue Commissioner Herb Frierson hold a press conference announcing a lawsuit against out-of-state wine retailers.

If you've ever been in a situation where you can't find a specific bottle of wine at your local wine shop, and you look at retailers online only to find that they can't ship to you, this (constantly developing) story is for you. We delved into how the changing policies of common carriers, increased crackdowns on the state level and other factors made it more difficult for you to buy wine online. The year in retailer direct shipping drama started with a sting operation involving "moonshine" in Mississippi.

Tasting Reports

1. The Top 100 Wines of 2018

Every year, Wine Spectator rolls out its Top 100 Wines, the most exciting wines reviewed by our tasters. In 2018, a legendary Italian bottling took the top honor as Wine of the Year—if you missed it, learn about the history of the super Tuscan Sassicaia. The Cabernet blend was followed by other stars in the Top 10, such as an iconic vintage Champagne, a single-vineyard California Chardonnay and a red from an under-the-radar Italian island. The full Top 100 list represents wines from 13 countries and three U.S. states, with an average score of 93 points and an average price of $50. For even more value, check out our 100 Top Values list, which rounds up some of the best wines of 2018 scoring 88 points or higher and priced at $20 or less.

2. Wine on the Go: 24 Top-Rated Wines in Cans and Boxes

AJ Wells / Union Wine Co. Forget the canteen. Pass the cans!

It seems we are not seeing an end to this canned wine trend. In fact, it may be just the beginning. Drawn by the convenience and good value, with a healthy dose of good marketing, young wine drinkers are increasingly reaching for the can (or box) for their alcoholic beverage needs. In this report, we reviewed 24 canned and boxed wines.

3. 2017 Bordeaux Barrel Tasting

Pistolet Bleu Château Canon's 2017 vintage is among the elite in St.-Emilion.

In March, senior editor James Molesworth went on his annual trip to Bordeaux to taste the wines in barrel from the 2017 harvest. This serves as a preview of the vintage, as well as a good buying guide for wine collectors considering buying Bordeaux futures. Check out the 2017 Bordeaux barrel tasting package, which includes reviews for more than 250 wines and dispatches of Molesworth's visits to various châteaus.

4. 2018 Beaujolais Nouveau: Bright Gamays Shine

Robert Taylor One of these Nouveaus is not like the others.

The third Thursday of November is not just any other Thursday. It's Beaujolais Nouveau Day. The fruity, fresh, easy-drinking Gamay-based wines from France usher in a new vintage; they can be drunk on the day and throughout the holiday season. Get the reviews for 14 Beaujolais Nouveau wines—including one rosé, a new addition to the traditionally red lineup.

5. Tasting Highlights: 10 Standout Napa Wines for $40 or Less

Kent Hanson Heitz is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, but the Napa winery also makes a juicy Sauvignon Blanc.

Ask and you shall receive. California wines, those from Napa especially, are among the most popular for our readers, but the prices for these wines are not always easy on the wallet. In our twice-weekly Tasting Highlights series this April, we rounded up 10 wines from Napa Valley scoring up to 91 points and costing between $20 and $40. Napa is also particularly well-suited to Bordeaux grape varieties; here are eight Cabernets and Merlots from the valley from go-to California producers.

6. Tasting Highlights: 10 Pacific Northwest Reds at 90+ Points

Courtesy of Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge delivers a top-notch value with their Explorer blend, at 91 points and just $22.

We've found that if you're not dreaming of Cali, your sights steer toward other domestic wines, like those of Washington and Oregon. Here, 10 outstanding examples of the states' top reds, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, respectively, are represented, with most available for $30 or less. Check out these reviews, all 90 points and above!

Top Wine Spectator Editors' Blog Posts of 2018 (Wine Spectator)

December 28, 2018 - 8:00am

It was yet another eventful year in the wine world, and our editors had no shortage of hot takes. We looked at up-and-coming wine regions, new winemakers on the rise (and old winemakers with exciting new projects), off-the-radar wines that deserve your attention, and talked to Joe Wagner about his Pinot Noir growing pains.

Ordered alphabetically by editor, here are our top blog posts of 2018.

Robert Camuto: Going Native in Europe

Etna's Eruption: What's Next for Wine on Sicily's Active Volcano?
June 11, 2018

Robert Camuto A vineyard on the north face of Etna’s smoldering peak.

Following the 2018 edition of Sicily’s Contrade dell'Etna barrel tasting, Wine Spectator contributing editor Robert Camuto reflected on how much Etna’s wine scene has evolved in the past 10 years, and what changes are still to come. Lately, he says, it's been difficult to keep up with the number of outsiders showing up, lured by the prospect of working with Etna's singular varieties on one of Europe's most active volcanoes.

Tim Fish

Oregon Strikes Gold with 2016 Pinot Noirs
Aug. 8, 2018

New Pinot Noir Stars of Oregon
Aug. 28, 2018

Courtesy of Rose & Arrow Rose & Arrow's Black Walnut vineyard is planted on volcanic rock soils in Dundee Hills.

Senior editor Tim Fish, Wine Spectator's lead taster for the wines of Oregon, reported that a series of warm, excellent vintages is boosting the growing excitement for Willamette Valley Pinots. He says the 2016s are polished and sleek, playing right into the hands of a coterie of new Oregon Pinot stars.

James Molesworth

2017 Bordeaux Barrel Tastings
March 15, 2018

Pistolet bleu Château Canon's 2017 vintage is among the elite in St.-Emilion.

Senior editor James Molesworth, Wine Spectator's lead taster for the wines of Bordeaux, made his annual spring pilgrimage to Bordeaux for the en primeur tastings for a first look at the newest vintage in barrel. He posted 16 dispatches from top estates, checking in at first-growths Haut-Brion, Lafite, Mouton, Margaux and Latour, as well as Right Bank all-stars Pétrus and Cheval-Blanc. Plus, members can read his barrel tasting scores and tasting notes for more than 250 wines.

Bruce Sanderson

Sale of Henri Jayer's Cellar Shatters Auction Record
June 21, 2018

Robert Drouhin to Sell Collection of Rare DRCs
Oct. 4, 2018

Courtesy of Sotheby's These DRC La Tâche 1949s sat in Robert Drouhin's cellar for more than 60 years.

Senior editor Bruce Sanderson, Wine Spectator's lead taster for the wines of Burgundy, shed some light on some of the most highly coveted wines at auction—and their ability to go supernova when provenance is as pristine as the personal cellars of Burgundy legends Henri Jayer and Robert Drouhin. The sale of the late Jayer's last bottles of Pinot Noir fetched nearly $35 million. Drouhin, who was selling some of his decades-old collection of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti bottles (along with a handful from his own domaine), saw one of his bottles of 1945 DRC Romanée-Conti sell for more than half a million dollars, the most ever paid for a single bottle of wine. Get Bruce's take on these record-setting sales.

Harvey Steiman

The Music of Wine
March 21, 2018

iStock Try tuning up for your next wine tasting with a favorite classical selection.

Wine Spectator editor at large Harvey Steiman says he often thinks of wines in musical terms—and vice versa. He credits the late Burgundy vigneron Vincent Leflaive for setting him on the path of pairing wine in music, recounting a visit to Leflaive's cellar many years ago. Can synergies with music make a wine in the glass better, and add something extra to the music on the sound system? Steiman argues it can improve both sides of the equation.

Mixed Case: Emma Balter

An Ode to White Bordeaux
April 6, 2018

Dani Maczynski Emma wields the pipette.

When was the last time you had a glass of white Bordeaux? Assistant editor Emma Balter champions Bordeaux's dry white blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon, saying the region abounds with inexpensive versions that punch above their weight. She also tries her hand at blending a white Bordeaux of her own.

Mixed Case: Mitch Frank

Is Oregon Wine Afraid of Meiomi-zation?
Dec. 10, 2018

Colin Price Joe Wagner thinks strong Elouan sales help Oregon. Not everyone agrees.

How did a dispute over appellations and the marketing of Joe Wagner’s Elouan Pinot Noir turn into an all-out rumble? News editor Mitch Frank says the true cause may be Meiomi and competing visions of Oregon wine’s future.

Mixed Case: Ben O'Donnell

Costco Meets the Millennials
July 25, 2018

John Granen Costco has recently expanded its house brand Kirkland Signature.

"Will Millennials kill Costco?" wondered a Washington Post headline earlier this year. It was hardly the first story to question how big-box retailers could adapt to a generation that is painted as allergic to the supermarket run and the mall day, preferring to shop online for everything from from books to beer. Associate editor Ben O'Donnell says Costco continues to thrive with its singular appeal, including having one thing Millennials love: all the wine.

Mixed Case: Aleks Zecevic

Own Rooted vs. Grafted Vines: Which Make Better Wines?
April 13, 2018

Courtesy of Bedrock Bedrock sources grapes from old California vineyards such as own-rooted Evanghelo, planted in the 1890s in Contra Costa County.

Today, due to the scourge of the phylloxera louse, the vast majority of the world’s fine-wine grapevines are grafted onto native American rootstocks. However, scattered across the world are small pockets of surviving vines planted on their own roots. Working with these vines is risky. Associate tasting coordinator Aleks Zecevic talked to Bedrock winery founder Morgan Twain-Peterson and Germany's Dr. Ulrich Stein about the pros and cons.

Top New Wine Videos of 2018 (Wine Spectator)

December 27, 2018 - 10:00am

What did 2018 teach us about wine? From walking the vineyards with top winemakers to learning new wine-friendly recipes to how to decant a bottle of wine, Wine Spectator's editors covered a lot of ground!

Among the most popular Wine Spectator videos of 2018 are Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year and the winner of our 2018 Video Contest. They're joined by useful how-to tutorials and special insider intel from vineyards in Napa Valley. Grab some popcorn and, of course, a glass of wine, as we spool up this reel of the year's best clips.

Can't get enough wine videos? Sign up for our Video Theater Newsletter, which brings the latest winemaker interviews, quick tips, food-pairing suggestions and more straight to your email inbox every other week.

Top 10[videoPlayerTag videoId="5858417436001"]

Wine of the Year 2018
It’s no surprise that the video featuring Wine Spectator’s Wine of the Year, the Tenuta San Guido Bolgheri-Sassicaia Sassicaia 2015, was a hit with wine lovers. Senior editor Bruce Sanderson explains that Sassicaia began as an experimental passion project that became a pioneer of Bolgheri's super Tuscan movement. For more information on the full Top 100, check out our Top 100 video page to hear from our senior editors about what makes the Top 10 wines special, and check out the Top 100 Bonus Videos and explore the regions, grape varieties and wine styles featured in this year’s list.

Video Contest Winner[videoPlayerTag videoId="5831656393001"]

The Soul of Barolo
The story of the Abbona family, the owners of Piedmont’s Marchesi di Barolo winery, turned out to be as captivating to viewers as it was to Seattle-based filmmaker Will Miceli, who chose to showcase it in his submission for Wine Spectator’s 2018 Video Contest. This behind-the-scenes snapshot of the family during and after work, was chosen by viewer votes. The theme of love and family continues with the contest’s second- and third-place winners “I am Brian Benson” and “Amore Amarone.” Check out at all the winners, finalists and honorable mentions!

Wine 101[videoPlayerTag videoId="5839426030001"]

How to Serve Wine Like a Pro
We published three great tutorials this year. In addition to "How to Serve Wine Like a Pro," we also presented viewers with primers on "How to Decant Wine" and "How to Open a Screwcap." (If it sounds obvious, you might be surprised!)

Wine Experience[videoPlayerTag videoId="5743125877001"]

Nebbiolo 101
The 2017 New York Wine Experience brought vintners from across the globe to share their exciting wines and stories, including Italy's Angelo and Gaia Gaja, who presented their family’s 2014 Barbaresco. Find out why Gaia calls Nebbiolo such a challenging grape variety.

Food Pairing[videoPlayerTag videoId="5778913385001"]

Perfect Match: Tuna Aguachile with Lime, Cilantro and Mint
A fresh, aromatic meal calls for a crisp, delicate wine. Wine Spectator's Hilary Sims explains why a bright Provençal-style rosé shines with this flavorful Mexican dish from Best of Award of Excellence winner Harvest by Roy Ellamar. Don't miss our entire series of Perfect Match videos and accompanying recipes. Recent favorites have included Roast Salmon with Chardonnay, Lamb Chops with Barbaresco and Roast Chicken with Beaujolais.

Insider Intel[videoPlayerTag videoId="5366972868001"]

What Makes a Great Malbec?
Malbec is the star of Argentina, where wineries produce delicious, full-bodied versions. What are the signs of a high-quality Malbec? Winemaker Sebastián Zuccardi of Familia Zuccardi shares his insight.

News[videoPlayerTag videoId="5777364271001"]

After the Fires: California Wine Country Rebuilds
Several months after the devastating October 2017 wildfires, Wine Spectator visited some of the hardest-hit wineries in California wine country, including Signorello, Mayacamas and Paradise Ridge, to see how recovery efforts were coming along. Watch the video to learn more about the rebuilding process, and check out our followup coverage.

In the Vineyard[videoPlayerTag videoId="5794296340001"]

In the Vineyard with Mark Aubert
California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir master Mark Aubert talks viticulture in his top estate vineyard, Lauren. Find out the history behind this site, and learn why it's so important to the Aubert label. And don't miss senior editor Kim Marcus' cover story, "Mark Aubert's Ambition," in the July 31, 2018, issue of Wine Spectator.

[videoPlayerTag videoId="5824900748001"]

In the Vineyard at Harlan Estate
At the cult Napa Cabernet producer, winemaker Cory Empting shares how vineyard conditions improve from planting new rows of grapevines. Read more on senior editor James Molesworth's visit to Harlan, and check out his blog for regular reports from top estates in Napa, Bordeaux and beyond.

Best of Unfiltered 2018 (Wine Spectator)

December 27, 2018 - 10:00am

If you were a pop culture vulture on the lookout for wine in the wild in 2018, your cup runneth over. It was a year of action amidst the wines for our favorite A-listers: 50 Cent popped a spritz, Adam Rippon did the twist, Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union found their bliss, and excavators working on a London-area church wine cellar found … Samuel Taylor Coleridge (whose remains had been misplaced there).

The stars of stage and screen made appearances on the rouge carpet, from Kyle MacLachlan in the role of rosé raconteur to 2017 Unfiltered queen Jennifer Lawrence’s wine-balancing act at the Oscars, but 2018 saw wine itself playing the leading part as well. Guitar-shredding, tractor-surfing natural wine mavericks in France stormed the screen, as did #SonomaStrong vintners in Tyler Florence’s Uncrushable wildfires documentary.

And in an all-around weird year, wine flew its freak flag too: Bordeaux vin headquarters sprouted giant tentacles, frog juice stewed at the Disgusting Food Museum, Napa vintners rose from the dead and the saga of the lost sword of the Sonoma Samurai unfolded.

You laughed, you cried, you voted for Gov. Wine Guy, but in the end, when 2018’s decanter had emptied, these 10 stories were your favorite Unfiltered scoops of the year.

Want to stay on top of wine in sports, music, movies, politics, crime and pop culture on the regular? Sign up for our free Unfiltered e-letter!

10. Francis' In-Flight Wine on Air Pope One

TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images / Enrico Serafino Pope Francis raised a glass ... 35,000 feet up.

Pope Francis last week flew to Geneva to ring in the 70th birthday of the World Council of Churches, but as a cool guy who knows wine is essential to any celebration, he got the party started early, popping bottles on the plane before he'd even touched down in Switzerland!

Unfiltered got word that Francesco sipped an appropriately Piedmontese pour on his flight over the Alps last Thursday: the Enrico Serafino Alta Langa Brut Spumante Metodo Classico 2013, a tasteful traditional-method sparkler of Pinot Nero and Chardonnay aged on the lees at least 36 months. According to Nico Conta, president of the winery, the bubbly was specifically selected by the Pope’s sommelier and served on the Alitalia flight to Francis and his whole entourage. It was the first time Serafino had been anointed in-flight wine on the papal plane.

"The Pope’s team informed us that the Alta Langa Enrico Serafino was very appreciated onboard," Conta told Unfiltered via email, hopefully "opening the doors to future presences."

Given Francis' reputation as a particularly worldly man of God, Serafino is an aptly international choice: The winery has a 140-year history in the hills of Piedmont, but was purchased from Gruppo Campari in 2015 by American businessman Kyle Krause and his family. But it was not, as Unfiltered readers know, Pontifex's first flight of American vintners' wine. Posted June 28.

9. Mariah Carey 'Might as Well Down this Caymus Bottle' in New Song 'GTFO'

Mariah Carey / Vevo Get The French Oak?

Mariah Carey is coming out with her first new album in four years, and it might be an ode to wine. The first song released, sassy break-up ballad "GTFO," describes Carey ditching a zero to get with a hero—a bottle of Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, specifically. In the song and accompanying video, the diva legend trills, wineglass in hand, that she "could've sworn you loved me harder / Might as well down this Caymus bottle" to help put her no-good ex in the rearview.

Reference to the Napa winery didn’t go unnoticed by fans, many of whom took to social media to share videos and memes of themselves with a glass (or bottle) of Caymus, and a number of whom have called the source in Napa looking to buy their own bottles of heartbreak salve, the winery told us. Carey herself tweeted this week, "Caymus 2014 is one of my favorite wines ever!" to which the vineyard's social media account swooned, "Mariah + Caymus = We Belong Together," a nod to another of Carey's hit singles.

But the history is undeniable: "Mariah came to Caymus Vineyards some years ago, and I was pleased to personally taste and tour her and a guest," vintner Chuck Wagner told Unfiltered. "Of course we would love for her to make a return visit any time she is in the area." (A little more history: With the fruits of one specific vintage, Carey and Caymus would reach their respective fields' top spots, with her debut album eventually topping the music charts and their Cabernet snagging Wine of the Year—that was 1990.)

"We’re appreciative that Mariah thought of Caymus during her creative process," added Wagner. "We can only imagine what goes into writing a song, but we can relate to the work and even the struggle behind it. Probably not so different from creating a great bottle of wine."

In the brief time since "GTFO" dropped, Carey released another new song—today—"With You," which is more Cognac-flavored: Rémy Martin gets the mention. Onetime Carey favorite Champagne, alas, has evidently been sent TFO. Posted Oct. 4.

8. Royal Wedding Winemakers Speak; Honeymoon at a 'Wine Spectator' Award–Winning Castle?

Noam Galai/GC Images/Getty Images "We crave a different kind of buzz." (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for Harry and Meghan.)

As the newlywed Duke and Duchess of Sussex decamp from wedding to honeymoon, our Royals-crazed realm remains thirsty for royal wedding (and honeymoon) wine gossip. We've got you covered: A guest who attended Meghan and Harry's wild nighttime reception apparently revealed wine details from the evening to U.K. tabloid the Daily Express. Naturally, we grabbed our deerstalker cap and magnifying glass to sleuth out the regal revelry rumors of an Old World white, Olivier Leflaive's Bourgogne Blanc Les Sétilles 2016, and a New World red, Mount Eden Vineyards' Domaine Eden Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains. And though Kensington Palace has yet to confirm these vinous reports, both producers seem confident in the leaked details; each took to their respective social media accounts to declare the glad tidings.

For Mount Eden, it adds up. "An online customer placed a surprisingly large order of Domaine Eden Pinot Noir [2014] with us earlier in the year," Peter Gordon-Smith, operations manager for Mount Eden's U.K. distributor, Roberson Wine, said via email that the winery passed to Unfiltered. "Apparently, the customer did say it was for a wedding, but didn’t specify which one."

"Having our Domaine Eden Pinot Noir chosen as one of the wines for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding came as a complete surprise," Ellie Patterson, co-owner of Mount Eden Vineyards, told us.

Across the pond, Olivier Leflaive president Jean Soubeyrand also weighed in: "Unfortunately, I can’t confirm the information," he told Unfiltered, explaining that Les Sétilles is sold in the U.K. at such a high volume that even if a large quantity of it was ordered, it wouldn't show up as significant in shipping records. But, he added, "if newspapers are talking about, I can’t imagine that’s fake news … Anyway, if Les Sétilles was poured at such an event, I can only say we are very proud of that and honored. You know, my personal feeling, the most important is not to be under the spotlights, but to know we did a good job. Last point, I would say, the royal family has really great taste."

Indeed: Harry and Meghan are rumored to be honeymooning at Ashford Castle in County Mayo, Ireland, whose dining room holds a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence for its wine list. While a rep from the castle kept mum, the castle sent out a cheeky tweet this morn to tout a cottage on the premises that "sits discreetly on the shores of Lough Corrib and is surrounded by ancient woodland—perfect for guests seeking a secluded romantic break." Posted June 7.

7. In the Red Zone: Drew Bledsoe Builds New Walla Walla Winery

Courtesy of Doubleback Drew Bledsoe escaped coverage for cover crops in eastern Washington. Pictured with his wife, Maura.

For much of his NFL career, Drew Bledsoe's turf was Foxboro, but the All-Pro New England Patriots quarterback actually got his start under center at Walla Walla High School, in the heart of Washington wine country. When he decided to trade his football gloves for pruning ones, to Walla Walla he returned, buying a vineyard and starting Doubleback winery with the 2007 vintage. Now, after a decade of wine wins, Bledsoe has built a home stadium for Doubleback, and 2018 marks the first season crushed at the svelte new 14,000-square-foot winery.

It all started when Doubleback winemaker Josh McDaniels stumbled upon a piece of land along Walla Walla's Powerline Road during a jog; he immediately snapped a picture and sent it to Bledsoe. The pair had been scouting sites for the winery to find a permanent home, and this property looked golden. "The location is exceptional due to its proximity to downtown, A+ grapegrowing potential and also for the outstanding views of our beautiful valley," Bledsoe explained to Unfiltered via email. Indeed, the 45-acre property neighbors Charles Smith's Powerline Vineyard, which yielded the K Syrah that earned Wine Spectator's No. 2 spot in the Top 100 Wines of 2017; Smith was its previous owner. When Bledsoe and McDaniels broke ground, they also planted 8 acres, mostly to Syrah, and named the vineyard Flying B.

Richard Duval Images / Courtesy of Doubleback Winery Doubleback now has home-terroir advantage.

The new facility houses tasting rooms, offices, fermentation and lab rooms and a barrel cellar for both Doubleback wines and sister label Bledsoe Family Winery. Among the bells and whistles are a gravity-flow fermentation system and concrete fermentors to massage Cabernet tannins. But despite the new state-of-the art tech, "we [also] went back to my roots to give the functional facility a sense of history," Bledsoe emphasized, repurposing wood for its siding from two 100-year-old barns where he grew up in Ellensburg, Wash.

The first wines made here will be released next spring (Bledsoe Family's Healy Rosé), and 2019 will bring the first harvest from the young vineyard. Doubleback also acquired a 30-acre vineyard in the Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA last year, but for now the excitement is on the 2018 vintage. "This first harvest has been incredible," McDaniels told Unfiltered. "The new winery really allowed us to focus on our winemaking more than we have been able to in prior years." Posted Nov. 15.

6. Pearl Jam's Big Return to Seattle—with Washington Wine

Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder maintains an even flow of wine throughout his concerts.

Well before it was considered rock 'n' roll to own a wine collection, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder proudly popped and partook of Pinot right there on stage during concerts. And in the years since the band's breakout 1991 album Ten, the Seattle area has become as famous for its winemaking scene as its grunge scene. No surprise then that the band has tuned up a new charity label with winemakers in Woodinville, Wash.'s eno-punk Warehouse District to celebrate next month's Home x Away concerts and raise money for the Vitalogy Foundation, Pearl Jam's Seattle homelessness awareness and relief charity.

Colby D. Kuschatka Home (left, Seattle) and Away (from second-to-left, Missoula, Mont., Chicago and Boston)

The Home x Away limited-edition box set of reds is a release from the Underground Wine Project, a collaboration between Washington winemakers Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan Winery and Trey Busch of Sleight of Hand Cellars; each bottle of the Idle Hands Syrah/Cabernet cuvée sports a label design by Pearl Jam depicting a retro-futuristic skyline silhouette of one of the four cities along the Home x Away tour kicking off next month, including Seattle, where the Aug. 8 and 10 "Home Shows" mark the band's homecoming after five years since last playing Jet City—and, reportedly, the biggest concert series the city has seen in more than three decades.

"We have been longtime fans," McNeilly told Unfiltered of the project. "Trey and I have met [Pearl Jam] band members over the years at different things, and we have worked with them a little bit with some of their charities, but it’s just fun to be pulled in a little bit closer for a great cause. I think that if we can work with Pearl Jam and find some new arenas to talk about philanthropy and talk about people’s responsibilities toward charity, you can kind of open people’s eyes and let them know everybody has a responsibility to help everybody else."

All the proceeds of the 450 cases sold went to the Vitalogy Foundation. That's right, the new wine, alas, has already sold out—within 15 minutes of the band announcing the project via its email newsletter. But for the homers in the Seattle area, 10 of chef Ethan Stowell's restaurants that snapped up some of the wine will be selling it by the glass, with further proceeds going to charity, starting Aug. 1, in the lead-up to the Seattle gigs. Pearl Jam's partnership with the Underground Wine Project is one of many surrounding the Home Shows with a goal of raising $960,000, with each donation made to the Vitalogy Foundation to be matched by the band. Posted July 26.

5. Conan Conquers Italy

Courtesy of Team Coco Fèlsina's Chiara Leonini attempts to referee a tasting with Conan O'Brien and Jordan Schlansky.

"The most beautiful place on earth, dimly seen through the clouded lens of imbeciles." That's how Conan O'Brien's recent trip to Italy was billed in a mock trailer titled Due Buffoni (Two Buffoons). In February, the camera crew from Conan tagged along as the late-night TV star and his associate producer-cum-nemesis Jordan Schlansky explored the latter's favorite destinations in Italy, the footage of which began airing this month on TBS. "Jordan started babbling so much about Italy that we had this thought: Let's take Jordan to Italy and see this weird monster in his natural habitat," O'Brien says. "Let's take Spock back to the planet Vulcan."

Throughout their trip together, Schlansky attempts to introduce and explain to O'Brien all of his most treasured Italian indulgences, namely wine, coffee and Italian cuisine, from Florence to Cortona to Naples. They hunt for truffles, appear on an Italian soap opera, visit Schlansky's favorite restaurants and, in Unfiltered's favorite highlights (lowlights?), visit Fattoria di Fèlsina for a tasting of the Berardenga Chianti Classico 2016, Rancia Chianti Classico Riserva 2015 and Fontalloro 2015 with export manager Chiara Leonini.

While millions have now witnessed Team Coco's experiences in Italy, Unfiltered has secured the exclusive tale of Conan in Italy … from the perspective of Fèlsina's Leonini:

"I must say that, from my side, it was the most crazy thing I have ever done. I am here at Fèlsina since 2001. In all these years I met the most different people but I never imagined to find myself in a situation like that—definitely fun, formative, but at the same time really stressful. Like so many beautiful things, this happened by chance and was completely unexpected …"

Leonini continues: "I knew who Conan was; I watched the program a couple of times in U.S.A., one of those nights with jet lag … I knew he was very famous, but I really would not have expected people loved him in such a way! Jordan, I did not know him, but I immediately understood that the two together were great and that they were 'completing' each other. Giving me a lot of troubles of course!"

"They both are true professionals. As far as the sketch is concerned, nothing was prepared before, only pure improvisation. Immediately after starting the dialogue with them—the scene of the finger behind the glass—I made the recording stop and I asked everyone: 'But are you kidding me?' I wanted to make sure they understood I was representing a brand with history and reputation!!! [But] they made me immediately feel comfortable. Jordan knew a lot [about wine] and was familiar with Fèlsina wines, especially Fontalloro. Conan … well … it was a wonderful experience, different without doubt from all that you normally find in the world of wine. I'm happy to have lived it … I think it's very important to be able not to take yourself too seriously." Posted April 26.

4. 2,000-Year-Old Cannabis Wine Discovered

Hervé Delhoofs, Evéha The ancient partaker (right) and his pot, in situ

If you listen to all the talk in California nowadays about the myriad intersections of wine and weed, you'd think they invented the stuff. But actually (if unsurprisingly) the TTB is well behind the curve—more than 2,000 years behind, according to a remarkable new archaeological discovery. Long before the Mendocinian culture disrupted the marijuana-wine space, the ancient Gauls were spiking their own vinum with a substance we still call by its Latin name: Cannabis sativa.

A 2015 excavation near the town of Cébazat in the heart of France (about 100 miles west of Lyon) of a tomb dating to the 2nd century B.C., led by researcher Hervé Delhoofs, yielded an earthenware vessel that once held a most potent potable: Analysis of plant material confirmed the presence of "biomarkers" for wine, resin and THC. Did the Gauls simply like the taste, or were they interested in a more, well, holistic experience? Researcher Nicolas Garnier told Unfiltered both "medicinal use or recreational use" were possible, and that the ethanol in wine made it a more efficient substance for infusion than water. "The wine-based medicinal preparations are common," he explained via email. "Different recipes of many plants have been identified in tombs."

The jar is on display at the Bargoin Museum, in Clermont-Ferrand, through May 20, alongside other paraphernalia found in the tomb, and the remains of the unknown bon vivant. Posted April 19.

3. LeBron James Drafts Another All-Star Wine Team

Gregory Shamus/Pool Photo/AP Photo The Golden State Warriors appreciating a flight of LeBron James

The NBA season is over—which means soiree season is in full swing for frequent Most Valuable/Most Vinous Player LeBron James. On Monday night, after a few months' hiatus from posting favorite bottle shots on social media, @KingJames took to Instagram Stories to show off his most recent wine wins scored with his friend and business manager Maverick Carter, putting up epic vintages from hall-of-famers like Sassicaia, Screaming Eagle, Guigal Côte-Rôtie and Domaine du Pégaü Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée da Capo (x2).

"I welcome him to Châteauneuf any time," Pégaü's Laurence Féraud declared to Unfiltered on hearing of the selection. "I will cook and pair with Mediterranean food my best cuvées for him."

Instagram/@kingjames LeBron plays with a new lineup.

The evening's star lineup (left to right):

The new Los Angeles Laker may have been inspired by all the attention his buddy and fellow erstwhile Cleveland Cabernier Dywane Wade has been getting with his wine ventures, but we already knew that James loves the wine world, and isn't afraid to show it. And after asking around, we discovered that the wine world loves him right back.

"We are extremely pleased and honored that Sassicaia is among the wines he prefers!" Tenuta San Guido's Priscilla Incisa Della Rocchetta told us. "And while he is a fan of Sassicaia, we are in return all fans of LeBron at Tenuta San Guido!"

"A taste of La Landonne 2000 these days is a good move, because this wine is coming to a great maturity," Philippe Guigal commended James. "We feel honored about his choice … Good move and a long life to 'King James,' considering that La Landonne might be a 'buzzer-beater.'" (Guigal did note, however, that it is fellow baller and compatriot Tony Parker who built a basketball school not far from the winery.)

Closer to home, Caymus owner Chuck Wagner is also thrilled. "Of course I am a big fan of LeBron and overwhelmed with happiness that he likes Caymus."

Where in the world of wine will the benevolent King James conquer next? Posted Aug. 16.

2. Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph Making 'Wine Country' Movie; Filming Starts Today

Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal/Getty Images Tina Fey (L) and Amy Poehler are NOT drinking any Merlot, right guys?! (Just kidding, no, the movie will have its own original jokes.)

News of what will likely be the biggest wine movie since Somm 2 Sideways broke this week when Netflix announced the upcoming Wine Country, starring Parks and Rec lead Amy Poehler (who's also directing and producing) and featuring an absolute murderers' row of comedy talent: Fellow Saturday Night Live alums Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell and Emily Spivey are all involved. The announcement came in the form of Poehler iPhone-filming her possibly-already-wine-practicing friends as they belt out a moving rendition of the Kenny Loggins/Stevie Nicks soft-rock staple "Whenever I Call You 'Friend.'" A rep for Netflix told Unfiltered filming started today, with a likely release in early 2019.

It's happening—Amy Poehler's directorial debut, Wine Country, is coming soon to Netflix! Starring Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, Maya Rudolph, Emily Spivey and featuring Tina Fey. Get excited. Get real excited.

— Netflix US (@netflix) March 20, 2018

"Wine Country tells the story of old friends who go to Napa for a weekend of wine tastings to celebrate a 50th birthday," Netflix told us via email. And if the Neflix’s Twitter "preview" is any indication, the film will be "your new favorite movie," which, well, you may have heard Unfiltered is indeed pretty into the whole wine and comedy thing. While it is certainly not too early to start making your wine-and-viewing party preparations, we'll keep you posted as we get more details. Posted March 22.

1. A California Pinot Noir for the British Royal Wedding?

Geoff Pugh - WPA Pool/Getty Images A surprise wine invited to the Royal Wedding?

The Royal Wedding is mere hours away, and anticipation over which wines the couple will serve is at an all-time high. Has Prince Harry chosen another California beauty? Will British fizz sparkle for Meghan Markle? The secrecy surrounding the final wine list is intense, so even the chosen wineries may not even know that they’ve been tapped for the special honor—or so they tell us. Still, Unfiltered has some leads on the likely candidates.

California girl Markle has been vocal about her wine preferences in the past, and a betting person would say her home state will likely be on display on her big day (and believe us, people are betting on this stuff). From our investigations, Sonoma's Flowers Vineyards & Winery is looking like the top contender: General manager Troy Watters told Unfiltered that Markle reached out to the winery about two years ago via Instagram to say she was a fan, and the winery and the royal-to-be have kept in contact since. "We are flattered that Meghan enjoys our Flowers Pinot Noir and would be honored if she does in fact select this to be the wine for her special day, thereby bringing a little bit of the Sonoma Coast and California with her," Watters told Unfiltered via email.

But sometimes it takes more than just a social media follow to score a wedding invite. Luckily, Agustin Huneeus, owner of Flowers' parent company Huneeus Vintners, is a friend of the British wine consultant who a Huneeus rep told us advised the wedding coordinators—and "thought it would be a good idea to include Flowers as a consideration for the wedding," Watters relayed; Huneeus himself also mentioned a large order of Flowers placed by prominent London wine merchant Corney & Barrow about a month ago.

Super Tuscan Tignanello is another Markle favorite, so much so that she named her now-defunct lifestyle blog, the Tig, after it—but the Antinori family went with a demure demurral: "The truth is that we have never had any official confirmation and have no hints, but, in case it would be served, that would be such a wonderful surprise."

Jordan, another Sonoma winery that Markle has praised in the past, is not expecting to make an appearance, but they hope to help her celebrate nonetheless: A winery rep told us vintner John Jordan wants to send etched magnums from the couple's birth years as a wedding gift.

Across the pond, Britons are rooting for representation from one of their own. One would be remiss to rule out Queen Elizabeth's bubbly, Windsor Park. Chapel Down, another Brit fizz, is known to pop up at Buckingham.

Perhaps highest in the running is Camel Valley Vineyard, a still and sparkling producer based in Cornwall, England, that just last month became the first wine producer in the United Kingdom to be granted a royal warrant, a prestigious mark of official recognition for companies that provide goods and services to the royal court. According to Camel Valley founder Bob Lindo, royal warrant protocol restrains warrant holders from commenting on these matters. Lindo also said that even if Camel Valley were to be poured at the wedding, he likely wouldn't know one way or the other, as the winery supplies the royals so frequently. As we wrote previously, nine Champagne houses also hold such warrants, with various royals each having their own preferences.

So despite our best Sherlocking, the crown is historically tight-lipped about these matters, and the suppliers that want to continue to be suppliers tend to follow suit. However, if some lucky Unfiltered reader (Pippa?) scored an invite to the reception, send us a tip (and a piece of that elderflower cake)! Posted May 18.

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Top Health Topics of 2018 (Wine Spectator)

December 26, 2018 - 9:30am

In 2018, a year that brought no shortage of wellness "trends," it's no surprise that the relationship between wine and health was a hot topic. In addition to reports on new scientific research and answers to reader-submitted questions, Wine Spectator took deep dives into a wide range of pertinent wine-and-health subjects. From wine's unique effects on women to the breakdown of polyphenols' benefits, here are our most popular health topics from 2018.

Women and Wine: How Alcohol Affects Female Health

Men and women are obviously different, but did you know that this is true even when it comes to how alcohol affects them? There's a reason why the U.S.D.A. Dietary Guidelines recommend up to two drinks a day for men and up to only one for women: Women have less body water than men, and therefore are more likely to have a higher blood-alcohol content (BAC) than men after drinking the same amounts. Further, estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, suppresses the process that leads to the breakdown of alcohol, another contributor to a higher BAC in women. Wine Spectator rounded up studies that specifically pertained to women, including some areas of concern, such as breast cancer risk and reproductive health questions, as well as benefits, like cardiovascular protection and increased bone density, to help paint a better picture of the complex relationship between alcohol and female health.

How Does Alcohol Affect Your Sleep? iStock That nightcap seems like a relaxing end to the day, but it might unsettle your night.

About 70 million Americans have some sort of trouble sleeping, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and for many, alcohol can be an accessible, and often appealing, option for relief. But its effects don't end once you shut your eyes. While alcohol can help you fall asleep, it may not be quality rest, as a 2015 study demonstrated. There's also the tricky matter of sleep disorders, such as insomnia and sleep apnea, that come with other factors to consider when thinking about drinking before bed. One of the first rules a wine lover can follow in order to sleep soundly and avoid a foggy mind the following day is to wait a while in between, drinking and sleeping and, as always, drink only in moderation.

What Does Wine Do to Your Teeth? iStock You can drink wine and still enjoy a healthy smile.

If you've ever been to a wine tasting, you're likely familiar with the most obvious effect of wine on your smile: stained teeth. But while that issue—whether temporary or more permanent—is certainly one to think about, there is a lot more going on that's less visible. Wine Spectator spoke with dental health specialists about the different ways in which wine can affect our oral health—from the breakdown of tooth enamel to potentially helping prevent decay. Of course, we also threw in some tips for dealing with that purple wine-tasting grin.

Is Wine Gluten-Free? iStock Celiac-disease sufferers need to watch what they eat; but how about what they drink?

As a product of grapes, wine is generally considered a safe beverage for those avoiding gluten—though there are some very specific exceptions. (And don't assume all wine-based drinks are gluten-free.) While many people adopt gluten-free diets for various reasons, for those with celiac disease or an intolerance, it's an absolute necessity to know whether a food or beverage contains any gluten at all. We spoke to experts about the rare cases in which wine might contain trace amounts of gluten, and whether you have to worry about them.

Wine Is Full of Healthy Polyphenols. But What's a Polyphenol? iStock Polyphenols are found in the pulp, seeds and skins of grapes.

The health-conscious wine drinker may already consider polyphenols to be an added benefit to their beverage of choice, but many people don't know why polyphenols are good for them … or, for that matter, what the word even means! We break down what polyphenols are, list the studied health benefits of many polyphenols found in wine, and even highlight some wines that are believed to be the richest in polyphenols!

For the New Year, Edouardo Jordan Serves Up Luck and Prosperity (Wine Spectator)

December 21, 2018 - 1:30pm

Edouardo Jordan's knack for making great food came long before he began building up his résumé. "My background in cooking with my family allowed me to understand how food should taste and how to season things," Jordan says. "Grandma … she just knew how to season her food—that was from the start. So maybe that's innate in me."

The Florida-born chef eventually took this foundation to the highest level of professional practice, going on to master a repertoire of cuisines and techniques ranging from Italian cooking at Lincoln Ristorante in New York to French-style methods at Per Se and Napa Valley's the French Laundry.

"Everything I've learned is incorporated into how I perform in the kitchen on a daily basis," he says.

Now he's successfully running two Seattle-based restaurants: JuneBaby, serving the Southern comfort food he knows so well, and Salare, a melding of American, African, European and Caribbean cuisines. To those he added, just two weeks ago, a bar-style restaurant, called Lucinda Grain Bar, next door to JuneBaby, that highlights grains, legumes and whisky.

Shannon Renfroe Edouardo Jordan calls it a blessing that he grew up in South, where food "just comes with high flavor."

With three restaurants now, “it's very difficult to actually be in one spot at any given time," says Jordan. "My day to day has changed a little bit. I have little flurries of time in the kitchen and then I have flurries of time at the desk."

But his busyness has been paying off: Earlier this year, Jordan earned two James Beard Awards, one for best Northwest chef and the other for best new restaurant, for JuneBaby.

So when it came down to selecting a dish appropriate for a New Year's celebration, he didn't think twice about centering it on black-eyed peas—a symbol of luck and prosperity—to keep this success flowing into 2019.

"It's a classic, kind of southern tradition to serve black-eyed peas for New Year's Eve or New Year's Day for good fortune for the year," says Jordan. "I'm just kind of following tradition—what we ate as a family—and incorporating that into what we do now."

The party-size salad recipe he shares—this serves 20, perfect if you're hosting a crowd or are counting on leftovers—can be scaled back as much as you want, down to a meal for four (in which case it calls for just a pinch of each of the spices). The dish can be kept fully vegetarian, served as a side or topped with poached chicken, turkey, ham or any meat of your choosing to make a full meal.

For those unfamiliar with cooking with black-eyed peas, you can find them at most stores in the dried bean section. The peas should be soaked at least six to 24 hours in advance "to expedite the cooking process," says Jordan. The salt should be added after the beans are done cooking, he adds, to ensure they actually absorb the flavors completely.

"This is a dish that you could essentially make a few days in advance," Jordan says. "Let it sit and it gets better over time."

Little screams New Year's more than Champagne, and, luckily, it makes a perfect pairing with the salad. "When you think of black-eyed peas, you normally don't think of Champagne, but it's the other ingredient to bring everything together," Jordan says.

He goes with a Suenen Cramant Brut Champagne Réserve NV. "It's crisp and it has a good tartness to it," he says. "It's going to go well with the preserved lemon more than anything and the chopped herbs," he says. Below, Wine Spectator shares recently rated selections of similar bubblies.

With all his successes, Jordan might not need the luck, but he'll be serving this black-eyed pea salad for his family this New Year's because, for him, tradition matters.

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

For the black-eyed peas

  • 1 gallon dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1/2 onion
  • 8–10 sprigs thyme

1. Place peas in a large bowl and cover with water by 4 inches. Transfer to refrigerator and chill for 24 hours. Drain.

2. Place all ingredients in a stockpot, cover with water by 3 to 4 inches and place over high heat. Skim as needed as you bring to a boil.

3. When the water is boiling, lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook until peas are nearly tender. This will vary depending on how long they were soaked; check after 15 minutes and every 5 minutes thereafter.

4. Let peas rest 5 minutes in the cooking liquid, then salt generously. Let peas rest in the water for a bit longer to absorb the salt, then drain.

For the preserved lemon sauce

  • 300 grams (10.5 ounces) preserved lemons, briefly rinsed, seeds and/or spices removed (these can be found jarred at specialty markets or online)
  • 150 grams (2/3 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 150 grams (2/3 cup) Muscatel vinegar

Place all ingredients in a blender with 150 grams (2/3 cup) of water. Process for 90 seconds. Reserve.

For the salad

  • 112 grams (1/2 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 15 ounces red bell pepper (about 3 large or 5 medium peppers), medium-diced
  • 15 ounces green bell pepper (about 3 large or 5 medium peppers), medium-diced
  • 15 ounces yellow onion (about 3 large or 5 medium onions), medium-diced
  • 3 to 4 large pinches kosher salt
  • 2 grams (2.5 teaspoons) fresh thyme leaves
  • 25 grams (about 1/3 cup) chopped parsley
  • 15 grams (about 3 tablespoons) chopped tarragon
  • 5 grams (about 2 teaspoons) ground cumin
  • 3 grams (about 1 heaping teaspoon) ground coriander
  • 2 grams (about 3/4 teaspoon) finely ground black pepper
  • Black-eyed peas (recipe above)
  • Preserved lemon sauce (recipe above)

1. Generously coat the bottom of a large pot with oil and heat on medium until the oil is shimmering but not smoking.

2. Add the red pepper, green pepper and onion to the pan and stir to coat with the oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes to “wake up” the vegetables; they will soften and lose some of their rawness. Do not let them brown. As the vegetables soften, add salt a pinch at a time, stirring between each addition. This is both to add flavor and to draw moisture out of the vegetables; the goal is to give them the same texture as the cooked beans. Stir in the thyme.

3. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients, as well as the black-eyed peas and the sauce, folding gently so as to not break up the beans. Can serve hot or room temperature. Serves 20.

7 Recommended Bubblies

Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good sparkling wines from recently rated releases. More options can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.

ROEDERER ESTATE Brut Anderson Valley NV Score: 93 | $24
Seamless and silky with an almost effortless sense of complexity, with notes of lemon and pear paired with toasty brioche, fresh ginger and hazelnut. Drink now. 80,000 cases made.—Tim Fish

NICOLAS FEUILLATTE Brut Champagne Réserve Exclusive NV Score: 91 | $37
Well-knit and mouthwatering, with a creamy mousse and flavors of glazed apple, grated ginger, smoky toasted brioche and hints of marzipan and lemon curd lingering on the lively finish. Drink now through 2021. 41,392 cases imported.—Alison Napjus

DIEBOLT-VALLOIS Brut Blanc de Blancs ChampagneNV Score: 90 | $38
Ripe apricot and orchard blossom notes are set on the satiny bead of this well-balanced blanc de blancs. It's fresh and personable, with accents of pastry cream and candied lemon peel. Disgorged November 2017. Drink now. 1,000 cases imported.—A.N.

GLORIA FERRER Blanc de Blancs Carneros NV Score: 90 | $22
Sleek and steely with delicate lemon and green apple flavors accented by blanched almond and clotted cream notes. Drink now. 2,000 cases made.—T.F.

DUC DE ROMET Brut Champagne Prestige NV Score: 88 | $33
Open-knit and fresh, with a smoky undertow and flavors of Honeycrisp apple, black currant, spring blossom and lemon pith set on the lively bead. Disgorged April 2018. Drink now. 1,084 cases imported.—A.N.

LOUIS DE SACY Brut Champagne Originel Score: 88 | $30
This fresh and open-knit Champagne is lightly chalky in texture, with honeysuckle, clementine and biscuit notes backed by zesty acidity. Moderate finish. Drink now. 8,300 cases made.—A.N.

PAUL LAURENT Brut Champagne Cuvée du Fondateur NV Score: 88 | $35
A mouthwatering Champagne, with a lacy mousse and a lively mix of Honeycrisp apple, nectarine, Marcona almond and chalk. Subtle finish. Drink now. 20,000 cases made.—A.N.

8 & $20 Recipe: Crispy Polenta with Chicken (or Turkey) and Vegetable Sauté (Wine Spectator)

December 21, 2018 - 12:30pm

Once the big holiday feast is over, you deserve a break from heavy cooking. But you’ve already had a turkey sandwich or three—and there are still a ton of leftovers. Luckily, you can transform any roast meat and cooked veggies into a new, elegant dinner in a few simple moves.

Nothing in this recipe should be considered a hard-and-fast rule. It’s more of a blueprint for how to reconstruct your holiday meal into a whole new form, making use of any bits and pieces left from your family’s table.

I used polenta here because it's something I make in big batches for dinner parties that often yields leftovers. But stuffing can also be pressed into patties and crisped up, and grilled cornbread would also be lovely.

Leftover polenta begs to be transformed; that just requires a tiny bit of forethought when you’re storing it. For the first meal, just use your favorite recipe for creamy polenta (I’m partial to Marcella Hazan’s "no-stir" recipe, with a generous scoop of ricotta mixed in) or follow the package instructions. Pour any extra polenta into a flat layer in a baking dish, cover, and refrigerate. As it cools, it will form into a thick, dense cake, which you can then easily slice into pieces. (Some grocery stores sell polenta prepackaged in this form.)

A saucy sauté makes a lovely textural contrast to the crispy polenta. Sweat some onions and mushrooms, then add in greens and any veggies you have left, along with shredded or diced pieces of a protein of your choosing. Here, I used the remainders from a grocery-store rotisserie chicken to mimic a holiday featuring roast turkey or another bird. (Need a roast chicken recipe? Try Josephine chef Andy Little's classic bird or Boka chef Lee Wolen's spin on it—not that we expect any leftovers here!—or any of the other options in our Recipe Search.)

I decided to look at one classic winter wine pairing and one alternative option. Chardonnay is a go-to for our holidays, as it's a crowd-pleaser that tends to work well with roasted turkey or chicken and many fall vegetables. We opened a California Chardonnay on this occasion.

Rosé still tends to get overlooked once Labor Day passes us by, but its place between red and white wines gives it the ability to pair easily with a wide spectrum of dishes, as we tend to have on the holiday table. So for our second bottle, we popped open a rosé from Corbières in the south of France.

This Chardonnay was round and tangy with ripe citrus and tropical fruit notes, balanced by hints of spice and a touch of dried herbs. It worked really well with the creamy gravy, as I had expected, as well as with the cornmeal flavor of the polenta.

In contrast, the rosé had bright acidity and a stony backbone, with a combination of tart strawberries and herbal and floral notes. This wine spoke to the sauté of mushrooms, greens and shredded chicken, and it was particularly refreshing. I have to admit that I expected the Chardonnay to easily win this match, but the rosé took the win for favorite wine of the night by a small margin.

Crispy Polenta with Chicken (or Turkey) and Vegetable Sauté

Pair with a French rosé such as Domaine de Fontsainte Corbières Gris de Gris 2017 (87 points, $16) or a California Chardonnay such as Husch Chardonnay Mendocino 2016 (87 points, $15).

Prep time: 5 minutes
Approximate cooking time: 25 to 30 minutes
Total cooking time: 30 to 35 minutes
Approximate food costs: $21

  • 4 squares of leftover polenta (or stuffing or cornbread), cut to roughly 4 inches by 4 inches and 3/4-inch to 1-inch thick
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cups diced onions (about 1 small onion)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 16 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup gravy, plus an additional 1/2 cup (or as desired) for serving
  • 1 to 2 cups previously cooked vegetables of your choosing (I used roasted turnips and sweet potatoes)
  • 5-ounce bag of baby spinach or other greens
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded roasted chicken, turkey or other protein
  • Cooking oil (such as olive, canola or corn)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parmesan, optional, for serving

1. Add a generous pour of oil to a pan and set on medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and starting to shimmer, place the polenta squares in the pan. Cook for 4 to 8 minutes per side, depending on how browned and crispy you like it. Transfer to a platter and keep warm until ready to serve.

2. While the polenta is crisping, add a little oil to another pan on medium heat. Sweat the diced onions in the pan until they begin to soften, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic, followed by the mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking over medium-high until the mushrooms have started to soften as well, another 5 to 8 minutes.

3. Once mushrooms are nearly cooked through, add in the 1/4 cup gravy, chicken and any previously cooked vegetables. Stir to combine. Add the baby spinach in a layer on top, cover the pan and continue to cook for another couple of minutes, until the chicken and vegetables are completely heated through and the spinach has begun to wilt. Lower the temperature if needed.

4. Reheat the 1/2 cup of gravy in the microwave or on the stovetop. Place a square of polenta on each of four plates. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of gravy on top of each polenta square, followed by a scoop of the chicken and vegetable mixture. Garnish with Parmesan cheese if desired and serve any additional gravy on the side. Serves 4.

New Study Shows Drinking One Drink a Day Leads to This Surprising Benefit (Wine Spectator)

December 20, 2018 - 9:40am

Can a glass of wine a day really keep the doctor away? A new study published this month in the scientific journal Addiction says it might. Researchers from Harvard University, Italy's Mediterranean Neurological Institute and the University of Molise investigated the relationship between alcohol consumption and the risk of hospitalization, and found that those who consumed roughly one drink per day endured fewer hospital visits compared with those who drank more and those who did not drink at all.

Using data from the Moli-sani cohort study, researchers gathered information on the drinking habits of 20,682 men and women 35 years old or older living in the Molise region of Italy, and tracked their hospital admissions records for a period of about six years. Subjects were categorized by their status as drinkers —lifetime abstainer, former drinker, occasional drinker (someone who drinks less than 2.5 drinks per month) or current drinker (someone who drinks more frequently). They were also categorized by the grams of alcohol they consumed per day during the year before enrolling in the study—1 to 12 grams per day, 12.1 to 24 grams, 24.1 to 48 grams and more than 48 grams. (U.S. health authorities state that a typical glass of wine contains roughly 14 grams of alcohol).

Over the course of the study, nearly 13,000 hospitalizations were recorded. Those who drank 1 to 12 grams of alcohol per day had the lowest rate of hospital visits. And compared with lifetime abstainers and former drinkers, those in this roughly-one-drink-per-day category not only had a lower rate of hospitalization for all causes, but also for cardiovascular disease specifically.

The population studied adds an intriguing twist to the research. "We investigated the relationship between alcohol consumption and the risk of hospitalization in a large prospective population-based cohort of adults, living in a central-southern region of Italy, with Mediterranean dietary traditions," Dr. Simona Costanzo, the study's corresponding author, told Wine Spectator. A Mediterranean diet includes moderate wine consumption (among other healthy foods) and has been shown to have many health benefits. Before this study, there has been very little research looking specifically at alcohol consumption among those who follow the Mediterranean diet.

Of course, the study is not without its caveats: "Although low-moderate, non-binging alcohol consumption reduces the chance to be hospitalized, we do not recommend that adult lifetime abstainers begin drinking for health reasons only," said Costanzo. She also warned that those in the heavy drinking category (more than about four drinks per day) were shown to have a significantly higher risk of going to the hospital, especially for alcohol-related diseases and cancer. (The risk was even greater if the heavy drinker was also a smoker.)

"However, this research reaffirms that there is no scientific evidence for demonizing alcohol," Costanzo said. "As a component of the Mediterranean diet, including a friendly social lifestyle, alcohol in moderation does not turn out to be a negative factor."

Want to learn more about how wine can be part of a healthy lifestyle? Sign up for Wine Spectator's free Wine & Healthy Living e-mail newsletter and get the latest health news, feel-good recipes, wellness tips and more delivered straight to your inbox every other week!

Unfiltered: Soccer Great Ronaldo Now 'Commander' of Ribera Wine Castle; Cam Newton Trots Out Lucky Wine Cleats (Wine Spectator)

December 20, 2018 - 9:00am

Legendary striker Ronaldo may be better known for hoisting World Cups than wineglasses, but the Brazilian soccer all-time great is about to get immersed in the vino playbook. On Saturday, "O Fenômeno," who retired from the pitch in 2011, was honored with the title of "alcaide"—an old-timey Spanish term for governor or commander of a castle—of the Provincial Wine Museum of Valladolid in the historic Peñafiel Castle.

"A great honor," the man more formally known as Ronaldo Nazário tweeted, along with a picture of himself receiving the certificate of castle-keeping from the president of the provincial council of Valladolid.

Instagram / @ronaldo Ronaldo storms the keep once more! The new wine-captain (left) receives his honor from Valladolid council president Jesús Julio Carnero.

Why, you might ask, was a Rio de Janeiro–born man who most famously led Brazil to the FIFA World Cup championship in 2002, given the keys to the main wine castle of Ribera del Duero? (The other two alcaides named this year were prominent local winemakers Pedro Ruiz and Almudena Alberca.) Well, in a part of the world that loves the beautiful game almost as much as the fruit of the vine, Ronaldo recently acquired majority ownership of the local team Real Valladolid, and at the ceremony said he already feels like "much more than a guest of the city—an adopted son." As he put it, "the province and the club are bound to walk together." Meaning your favorite Tinto Fino's favorite team is in his hands.

Cam Newton Loses Game but Keeps Wine, Finishes his Vinous Vintage Finishes with 'Vineyards of N.C. #1 Reserve' Cleats

This week also brought to a likely conclusion a winesports saga that began way back in January, when New Orleans Saints defensive end Cam Jordan troll-gifted a bottle of wine—specifically, Jordan Vineyard Alexander Valley Cabernet—to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. "You beat the Carolina Panthers three times in a year, I’m gonna have to send this guy a wine bottle," Jordan taunted at the time. "I appreciate him for being that good ol’ quarterback."

As Churchill famously said of a favorite wine (Champagne), in victory you deserve it, and in defeat you need it. And this year it appeared the tall QB shared the wide PM's vinous win/loss outlook: After a November walloping from the Steelers, Newton mused that he'd watched the movie Somm, dreamed of suiting up as a somm himself and had been unwinding with Sauvignon Blanc and cigars.

Twitter / @Panthers Cam Newton, home wine-shoemaker

But before Monday night's rematch with the Saints, Newton revealed he'd been keeping the Cabernet cellared. “I am going to return to sender if everything gets taken care of,” he told reporters. Newton even laced up with some custom cleats: One shoe sported a wine-label design reading "Get Back Vineyards of N.C. #1 Reserve." Alas, the Panthers came up short again, and Newton is likely to be corked for the remainder of the season with a bum shoulder. Here's hoping he can make like fellow athlete-enophile Dwyane Wade and wine his way back to health.

Battle Over 'Nazi' Grape Name in Austria; Opponents Suggest Whimsical Hangover-Themed Alternative

Zweigelt, one of Austria's most widely-planted grape varieties, produces some lovely red wines, but its name—after Friedrich "Fritz" Zweigelt, the man who created it—is leaving a bad taste in some mouths. That's because, you see, in addition to being a plant scientist, Zweigelt (the man, not the grape) reportedly had close ties to the Nazi party.

Dr. Fritz bred Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent to create an offspring grape of superior genetic makeup (which, when you put it that way …). His variety was originally called Rotburger until its name was changed in 1975 to honor its creator, who died in 1964. But now, thanks to a group of artists called the Institute Without Direct Characteristics (IODE) calling out the grape for its shady moniker, another name change might be forthcoming.

The group held a press conference last week about its "Abgezweigelt" campaign to change Zweigelt's name. "The Austrian wine industry has kept silent like no other branch of industry" about the legacy of Nazism, accuses a translated manifesto of the IODE's website.

So what do they suggest instead? "Blauer Montag," or "Blue Monday," a reference to the feelings one experiences after a particularly wine-soaked weekend. The artists are holding a wine-tasting party (/possible protest?) to promote the new hangover-inspired, de-Nazi-fied name today.

According to IODE, two vintners, Friedl Umschaid from the northern Weinviertel region and Maximillian Brustbauer from the Wachau region, have agreed to market their wines under the Blauer Montag name. Further, Österreich Wein Marketing, Austria's official wine-marketing organization, has reportedly agreed to consider a name change, pending more research into Zweigelt's history with the Nazi party.

Champagne Ruinart Rocks Art Basel Miami Beach with 'Disappearing Man'

While most artists put their hearts and souls into what they do, not as many can say they've physically inserted their bodies in their work. But Liu Bolin can—and he did, at a live-painting demonstration this month at Champagne Ruinart's Art Basel Miami Beach installation.

VIPs sipped Ruinart rosé Champagne and nibbled on canapés from chef Michelle Bernstein as they watched the Chinese performer-creator's meticulous process of becoming invisible at the Miami Botanical Garden. Once appropriately covered in painstakingly-applied paint to match a large-scale display shelf of colorful bubbly bottles, Bolin stepped in front of the installation and—gasp—disappeared as he blended in with the background.

World Red Eye Now you see him …

As Ruinart's 2018 artist in residence, Bolin—known in art circles as "the Invisible Man" for his self-camouflaging creations—has been working with the Champagne house all year on creative projects and art shows.

"When you see a bottle of Ruinart, it's hard to imagine the many complex processes that are required to produce it," Bolin said in a press release. "Its history and its values, which are almost 300 years old, imbue the daily production process."

Samantha Nandez/ … now you don't!

But Bolin did not disappear from the art fest entirely: Baselers had more opportunities to see Bolin's artwork at the fair, and for the not-so-starving artists (and art-lovers), a Bolin-inspired Champagne dinner popped up at Cantonese hot-spot and Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winner Hakkasan.

Fake 'Prosecco-Franciacorta,' a 37,000-Liter Rosécrime, 5 Million Liters of Compromised Wine: Italians Work Overtime to Fight Winecrime

The spirit of Christmas taking is in full swing, and Italy's winecriminals really went overboard this year! Carabinieri and fraud investigation agencies around the country have been unwrapping cases large and small all month. Here's the latest in winecrime happenings over in the Stocking of Europe.

The fraud squad at the Ministry of Agricultural Food, Forestry and Tourism Policies, discovered some "curiously labeled" wine coming out of a workshop in Bulgaria: Thousands of bottles marked "Prosecco-Franciacorta." The ministry's press office reported that Italians are working with authorities across Europe to block the distribution of the fakes, which it called "a clumsy attempt to usurp the protected denominations." Authorities have identified the offending winery in Bulgaria and begun seizing the "irregular" bottles to be exiled to the Island of Misfit Wines.

Down south in Calabria, the carabinieri in the city of Lamezia Terme uncovered another fraudulent labeling practice affecting 37,160 liters of rosé and white wine. One winery labeled its product with the Scavigna DOC for the 2017 vintage, but investigators discovered, instead, a lump of coal—or at least that "the whole production came from absolutely different vines that are not compatible with the production of wines [labeled] 'Scavigna,'" per a report in the journal Agricultura. Bah, humbug!

This month also brought tidings from the Ministry of Health that it has compiled its naughty list for the 2018 wine harvest. Inspectors carried out a thorough investigation of the country's winegrowing areas through September and October, observing vintners when sleeping, knowing when they're awake—and finding 5 million liters of wine affected by noncompliant practices. Offenses ranged from shoddy record keeping and traceability measures to poor wine storage conditions to sanitary deficiencies in wineries. According to Agi, there were 871 inspections netting 178 infractions against 176 wine workers, with total fines dispersed to the tune of $271,000. Teacher says, every time a bell rings, a wine supplier does illegal things!

But the title of King of Sinful Sots must go to the thief or thieves who swiped a dozen bottles of wine, a salami and a box of caciotta cheese from the Christmas market in the northern Italian town of Mirandola. You really are a heel!

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Peak Wine Lists for a European Ski Trip (Wine Spectator)

December 20, 2018 - 8:30am

Set in some of the world’s top skiing regions, these Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners lift the romance of winter getaways to new heights. Experience modern luxuries amid historic surroundings, from family-owned resorts in St.-Moritz to a wine-centric Italian restaurant at the site of several venues for the 2006 Winter Olympics. Plus, each of these destinations has a summer season, so you can experience them in an entirely new way during the warmer months.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,500 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 91 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to We want to hear from you!

Albert Premier Chef Damien Leveau creates contemporary French dishes at Albert Premier.

Showcasing local ingredients and French wines
Hameau Albert Premier, 38 Route du Bouchet, Chamonix, France
(33) 4-50-53-05-09
Open for lunch and dinner, Thursday to Tuesday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,000
Inventory 20,000
Cuisine For $116, guests can experience a six-course menu of regional French dishes that changes daily. Chef Damien Leveau incorporates prized ingredients from the French and Italian Alps like char from Lake Geneva, snails from the Mont Blanc region, local meats and Alpine cheeses. There’s also an abbreviated menu available on weekdays for $83 and a 10-course menu with an Italian theme for $177.
Wine strengths French selections make up the bulk of the list, with exceptional picks from Burgundy and the Rhône. You’ll find dozens of grands crus from top Burgundy producers such as Domaine Leflaive, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Bonneau du Martray. A wine pairing is available with the 10-course menu for an additional $108 per person.
From modest guesthouse to modern hotel Located in the winter-sports destination of France’s Mont Blanc region, Hameau Albert Premier is still owned by its founders, the Carrier family. Though it opened in 1903, the hotel offers all the comforts of contemporary lodging across various guest rooms and private cabins, plus a spa with extensive treatment options.

El Paradiso & Uppergrade Dine surrounded by St.-Moritz mountains at El Paradiso.

Sky-high Swiss cuisine
Via Engadina, Suvretta, St.-Moritz, Switzerland
(41) 81-833-4002
Open for lunch and dinner, daily, Dec. 8, 2018, to March 31, 2019; call ahead for hours, June 29, 2019, to Sept. 15, 2019

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 750
Inventory 9,950
Standout Swiss wines Drink local with more than 10 pages of diverse Swiss selections, from traditional varieties like Riesling and Pinot Noir to Chardonnay and a handful of rosés.
Wine strengths Wine director Anja Zingg’s wine list also excels in German bottlings, with Rieslings going back to the 1980s and big-name producers such as Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt and Franz Künstler. Similarly strong selections abound in Burgundy, Bordeaux, Italy and Champagne.
Cuisine Chef Frank Schuster’s Swiss menu is moderately priced but offers decadent additions like shaved truffles and caviar service. The wide-ranging menu presents soups, seafood, meats, pastas and more. Create a customized fondue course with three different types of cheese to choose from and add-ons like cherry brandy and dried beef.
Sweeping snowy views El Paradiso is perched on the Suvretta slope in St.-Moritz. The restaurant’s name hints at a heavenly experience because of several sprawling, open-air terraces boasting outstanding views of the skies and surrounding mountains.

Griggeler Stuba Griggeler Stuba has a whopping 70,000-bottle cellar.

An Austrian wine authority since 1997
Burg Vital Resort, Oberlech 568, Lech am Arlberg, Austria
(43) 5583-3140
Open for dinner, Sunday to Friday, Dec. 6, 2018, to April 22, 2019; Wednesday to Monday, June 28, 2019, to Sept. 22, 2019

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 3,000
Inventory 70,000
Wine strengths Of all Restaurant Award winners in Austria, Griggeler Stuba has the largest wine inventory and the second-highest number of wine selections on the list (behind Grand Award winner Palais Coburg, which has 5,400 selections). Wine director Thomas Lucian’s extensive program shows strengths across the board, most notably in Austria, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Italy, Spain, Germany and Champagne.
Outstanding Austrian labels Griggeler Stuba has championed local wines since it opened in 1997. Highlights of the Austrian collection include more than 150 large-format options, seven vintages of Franz Hirtzberger Riesling Smaragd Trocken Wachau Spitzer Singerriedel and a vertical of a Johanneshof Reinisch Pinot Noir going back to the 1990s.
Cuisine Starting at $132, the nine-course tasting menu changes daily based on chef Dominic Baumann’s current inspiration. The regional dishes spotlight produce and herbs locally grown in Oberlech.
Collection of cabins Burg Vital Resort has various rooms, suites and apartments throughout seven chalets connected by underground passageways. The property sits at the base of the Arlberg mountains, with easy access to the slopes.

La Bagatelle At La Bagatelle, a classic wine list meets a regional French menu.

Fine dining in a peaceful Swiss town
Le Grand Chalet, Neueretstrasse 43, Gstaad, Switzerland
(41) 337-48-76-76
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,000
Inventory 20,000
Cuisine Enjoy a panoramic view of the village of Gstaad from Le Grand Chalet’s restaurant, where chef Stève Williè serves French-influenced regional fare. Several entrées are made for two, like whole sea bass wrapped in pastry and roasted duck breast with wild pepper and Chinese noodles.
Wine strengths Wine director Pedro Ferreira built the well-rounded wine list that’s strongest in Bordeaux, with a growing collection of Burgundy. Producers in the substantial Swiss section include Bovard and Domaine Henri Cruchon. Selections from Italy, the Rhône and Portugal also stand out.
Premium without the price tag Despite its upscale setting, La Bagatelle provides plenty of value on its moderately-priced wine list. There are hundreds of bottles under $100 and an array of half-bottles from around the world.
High-altitude accommodations At 3,600 feet, Le Grand Chalet offers a winter-cabin aesthetic with 21 guest rooms overlooking Gstaad, a tranquil Swiss village that’s been car-free since 1996. The property is surrounded by more than 135 miles of ski slopes and nearly 200 miles of trails for winter hikes.

La Vineria del Colle In Sestriere, Italy, La Vineria del Colle serves a traditional menu of regional specialties.

A winter destination for Italian wine lovers
Grand Hotel Sestriere, Via Assietta 1, Sestriere, Italy
(39) 0122-76-476
Open for lunch and dinner, Wednesday to Monday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 3,000
Inventory 28,000
Wine strengths Italy shines on wine director Luca Novara’s list, particularly Piedmont and Tuscany. Other international regions—such as Chile, California, Israel and South Africa—are also represented.
Aged Italian bottles The program features standout verticals like seven vintages of Gaja and nearly two dozen vintages of Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia going back to the 1960s.
Cuisine Chef Gnanasegaram Jelaseelan complements the Italian-leaning wine list with regional plates such as grilled lamb chop with rosemary oil and paccheri pasta with pancetta and vegetables.
Historic surroundings Grand Hotel Sestriere is named for the surrounding village, one of the top destinations for skiing in Italy and the site of several venues for the 2006 Winter Olympics. All the rooms and suites boast views of the snow-blanketed mountains.

Jean-Christophe Le 1947 delivers an intimate dining experience, hosting only about 20 diners each night.

LE 1947
Culinary sophistication in the French Alps
Cheval Blanc Courchevel, 190 Rue Du Jardin Alpin, Courchevel, France
(33) 0-47-90-05-050
Open for dinner, Tuesday through Sunday, Dec 14, 2018, to April 7, 2019

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,150
Inventory 15,000
Wine strengths Sommelier Sébastien Labe oversees the wine list at Le 1947, which is mostly French except for a handful of selections from places like Italy, Lebanon, Israel and Germany. Burgundy and Bordeaux are the strongest sections of the list, while there are numerous impressive verticals from top Champagne houses.
Cuisine Each night, only about 20 diners get to experience chef Yannick Alléno’s signature cuisine. The ultramodern yet intimate space sets the stage for the contemporary French plates, which are heavily influenced by seasonality.
Bordeaux bond The hotel is named after the Château Cheval-Blanc domaine in Bordeaux’s St.-Emilion region, while the restaurant is named for Cheval-Blanc's most legendary vintage. To honor this connection, Le 1947 features a separate list to showcase Château Cheval-Blanc selections, including the rare '47.
Stress-free skiing The ski service team at Cheval Blanc Courchevel goes above and beyond, setting up your equipment directly on the slopes and preheating ski boots before you arrive. For non-skiing snow lovers, the hotel hosts activities like hot-air balloon rides over the Alpines, sled dog–driven rides to an igloo for Champagne and outdoor workouts with the on-site trainer.

Le Restaurant Le Restaurant’s dining room exudes Old World glamor.

A classic restaurant near world-class slopes
The Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, Via Serlas 27, St.-Moritz, Switzerland
(41) 818-37-26-38
Open for lunch and dinner, daily, Dec. 1, 2018, to March 31, 2019, and June 28, 2019, to Sept. 1, 2019

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,200
Inventory 30,000
Global destination Skiers around the world flock to St.-Moritz for its renowned slopes. Badrutt’s Palace has a prime spot among the Engadin mountains, surrounded by more than 200 miles of slopes with an on-site ski shop and skiing school.
Cuisine The hotel’s Le Restaurant represents classic gourmet dining, complete with caviar service and various tableside preparations. The French-leaning European menu features dishes like sea bass baked in a salt crust and beef stroganoff.
Wine strengths Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne are the heart of the wine program. The Italian section is similarly strong, and there are also several Swiss picks for those who prefer to drink local.
Majestic and modern Badrutt’s Palace was built in 1856, but multiple renovations have kept it on the cutting edge of luxury travel. The sprawling property has high-end retail stores, a comprehensive wellness center and eight other dining concepts, including a new location of Best of Award of Excellence winner Restaurant Igniv by Andreas Caminada.

Schloss Elmau The menu at Luce d’Oro blends French and Japanese cuisines.

Modern cuisine in a historic resort
Schloss Elmau, In Elmau 2, Elmau, Germany
(49) 8823-18-0
Open for dinner, Wednesday to Saturday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,500
Inventory 19,000
Wine strengths Except for a small California section, the wine list at Luce d’Oro is entirely European, excelling in Germany, Austria, Italy and France. Wine director Marie-Helen Krebs has significantly grown the program in the past two years, adding 200 labels to the wine list and 2,000 bottles to the cellar.
Vintage variety Luce d’Oro offers an average of two vintages per wine selection. The wine list is filled with strong verticals; for example, eight vintages of Méo-Camuzet, nine vintages of Bassermann-Jordan Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese Pfalz Deidesheimer Hohenmorgen and 11 vintages of Ornellaia.
Cuisine Japanese influences add a modern, creative twist to chef Christoph Rainer’s menu, which features dishes like scallop with miso and venison with red shiso and sesame.
Cultural hotspot For more than a century, Schloss Elmau has been hosting a wide range of events such as concerts, readings and talks by visiting speakers. Concert tickets are included with your stay, and some musical performances at the hotel’s Al Camino Bar are exclusively for Schloss Elmau guests.

Post Stuben Post Stuben has been owned by the same family for more than 80 years.

Family hospitality at its best
Hotel Gasthof Post, Dorf 11, Lech Am Arlberg, Austria
(43) 5583-2206-0
Open for lunch and dinner, daily, Nov. 30, 2018, to April 22, 2019

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 610
Inventory 12,485
Cuisine Hotel Gasthof Post’s Post Stuben creates comforting cuisine to bring travelers a sense of home. Chef David Wagger executes the menu of regional specialties such as Tafelspitz, a dish made with beef boiled in broth, and Kaiserschmarren, a dessert likened to a shredded pancake.
Homey luxury Owned by the Moosbrugger family since 1937, the hotel is located in the heart of Lech, a famed winter sports region. The rooms maintain a country-charm feel with cozy accents like wood paneling, antique pieces and intricate carvings.
Wine-producing proprietors Two members of the Moosbrugger family, Michael and Eva, own the winery Schloss Gobelsburg. Labels from the historic estate are showcased on the first two pages of Post Stuben’s wine list, highlighting its most important varieties, Grüner Veltliner and Riesling.
Wine strengths In addition to showcasing the Moosbruggers’ label, the wine program champions a range of Austrian producers like Karl Fritsch and Johanneshof Reinisch. The list is also strong in France, especially Burgundy, as well as Italy and Spain.

The Restaurant at the Chedi Andermatt Golden accents and dark wood panels create a sleek yet comfortable atmosphere in the Restaurant at the Chedi Andermatt.

Alpine dining with an Asian twist
The Chedi Andermatt, Gotthardstrasse 4, Andermatt, Switzerland
(41) 041-88-874-88
Open for lunch and dinner, daily

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 1,260
Inventory 15,660
Cuisine Four open kitchens throughout the restaurant churn out chef Armin Egli’s eclectic menu. The dishes draw inspiration from southeast Asian cuisines—think Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese and Thai—while incorporating local specialties. A walk-in cellar holds more than 40 varieties of Swiss cheese for guests to peruse.
Wine strengths To complement the diverse menu, wine director Simon Gustafsson’s selections span the globe, with an emphasis on Switzerland and additional strengths in France, especially Burgundy, as well as Germany. A rotating selection of high-end wines are available by Coravin.
Bordeaux-boasting cellar One of the restaurant’s numerous wine-storage rooms, the Wine Cave, is decorated with barrels and a private collection of 64 vintages of Château Mouton-Rothschild. The space is available for booking private dinners.
Combining cultures Like its restaurant, the Chedi Andermatt hotel shows substantial Asian influence. Design details include natural stone floors and dark wood panels, and in the spa, guests can indulge in customizable Eastern treatments and kick back at the Tibetan Relaxation Lounge.

Restaurant Igniv by Andreas Caminada Restaurant Igniv by Andreas Caminada showcases the Swiss chef’s renowned regional cuisine.

Local specialties from a Swiss chef
Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Bernhard-Simonstrasse, Bad Ragaz, Switzerland
(41) 081-303-30-30
Open for lunch and dinner, Wednesday to Sunday

Best of Award of Excellence
Wine list selections 600
Inventory 40,000
Cuisine Chef Silvio Germann executes the culinary vision of Swiss chef Andreas Caminada. The regional dishes are available à la carte, but the restaurant is known for its “Sharing Experiences.” The core prix-fixe menu consists of three courses for $150, and guests can opt for three or five additional surprise components for $40 or $60, respectively.
Wine strengths Wine director Francesco Benvenuto highlights Swiss selections and rounds out the list with strengths in classic regions of Burgundy, Italy and Bordeaux. Among the many exciting verticals are more than 10 vintages each of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée-Conti and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée St.-Vivant.
Choose your adventure The encompassing Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is in close proximity to the skiing areas of Grisons, Glarus and St. Gallen. Activities range from thrilling ice-wall climbing and high-altitude ski tours to more laid-back options like snowshoe hikes and natural ice rinks.
Culinary packages Restaurant Igniv offers several packages through the resort, with perks such as limousine service to a six-course lunch in a historic nearby castle and wine tastings with Benvenuto.

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