Pawning Your Wine? Chateau Margaux Unveils Screwcaps, Organics Napa Auction Looks Promising How Much Alcohol is Right in Wine? Wines from Gigondas How about a Nice Chianti? Port (and Pisco) - a Primer

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OK, the names seem to be getting even longer.  Sorry. But do try this 90% Carmenere / 10% Cabernet, the debut vintage of the line, which I tasted with the winemaker in 2009 shortly after its release.  Even then it was already drinkable, and it's only gotten better: a deep purple, rich, blackberry and plum treat, well balanced, with ripe, chewy tannin and a wonderful finish. You can find this wine at about $18-21.  It's a little above the range of wines I typically recommend, but worthy every penny. And the 2008 and 2009 are also outstanding if you can't lay your hands on an '07.

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I've just returned from a 9-day cruise on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas, a 137,000 ton, 1,020 foot-long behemoth that's still, amazingly, two rungs down on the cruise line's size chart. Beyond the ocean breezes, Red Stripes and frou-frou drinks on the pool deck, nine days without the constant annoyance of a BlackBerry, and the chance to read both The Billionaire's Vinegar and The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It on my new Nook eReader, the highlight of our trip was our nightly dinner at 8:30, and the very pleasant surprise of a really nice wine list! Before the cruise I was dreading what appeared to be a crappy wine list,…

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New Jersey is the fifth largest state in the union for wine consumption (source: Adams Wine Handbook 2007) but one of only 13 states that continue to ban winery to consumer shipments. More than 80% of the U.S. population already has access to direct shipments of wine and New Jersey residents should, too. BUT two bills, NJ Assembly Bill 1702 and NJ Senate Bill 766, may pave the way for dramatically improving access to wines from across the U.S.  AB1702 is identical to SB766, which passed the Senate on March 11, 2010. Both bills are based on the model direct shipping bill, now the legislative standard used by most U.S. states for legal, regulated direct-to-consumer shipments of wine.  These laws satisfy consumer demand and…

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The Washington Post points out the growing influence of women on the world of wine, including many winemakers such as Cathy Corison, whose Napa Cabernets I consider to be among the best in all of California. If you fly frequently for business or pleasure, Business Traveller's Cellars in the Sky Awards are for you, and include the best sparklings, whites, reds and sweet/fortifieds served at 35,000 feet. And if you're tired of being stuck on the tarmac for hours at a time - with a good glass of wine or not - consider joining the Coalition for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights. Really. Speaking of flying and wine, Decanter has a brief story about flights resuming in Chile while winemakers assess their damage…

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Study Shows Ratings Numbers DO Influence Tasting Experience I've said more than a few times on WineFlair and elsewhere that wine ratings by "the big guys" (and gal) such as Parker, Robinson, Broadbent, Suckling etc. will obviously and hugely influence the views of people who taste those wines and know their scores in advance. In other words, someone tells you you're about to sample a 95, and boy when you taste it, it really is! A scientific team from a university in Zurich says they're proved it and also that wine ratings have a consistent effect on people who are told scores after they taste. Basically, a bunch of wine-drinkers was separated into five separate groups before a blind tasting.…

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Prosecco gets a Promotion The producers of Prosecco - that refreshing Italian sparkling wine made from grapes of the same name - are thrilled that the Italian government has elevated Conegliano-Valdobbiadene to Denominazione di Origine Controllata Garantita status, the country's highest level of quality. Only 41 wine regions in Italy carry the D.O.C.G. rank. Prosecco producers may now call their wine "Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene" or "Prosecco Superiore" beginning with the 2009 vintage. And as we say in the Marine Corps, everyone moves up one. Why? Because wineries in nine provinces outside the DOCG region currently producing Prosecco labeled "Indicazione Geografica Tipica" (IGT, two levels down on the prestige meter), have been raised to (DOC) status. That was the rank once…

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SAVOY AIN'T JUST A HOTEL IN LONDON The Savoie region of France isn't well known among wine drinkers in this country. Heck, it's not well known in France, either, as far as I can tell. Still, it's a place that produces interesting, if sometimes quirky wines, a stone's throw from the Swiss border and Lac Leman (Lake Geneva). The wines, mostly white, are made from Altesse/Rousette, Chardonnay, Chasselas, Jacquere and Rousanne grapes. They also make some light and lively reds mostly from Gamay (the Beaujolais grape) and Pinot Noir, and Rose from Gamay. Since this is a wine short, I won't get into all the AOC stuff. I'll just say that the whites, especially the Jacquere - the name of…

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A PORT BY ANY OTHER NAME - STILL AS SWEET? A lot of US-made wines carry European place names, and Port is one of them. But as European countries and the EU (European Union) have ramped up to protect those names in international trade, American producers see their brand names and brand recognition threatened, with good reason. If an American producer can't call its wine "Port" anymore, substituting "Sweet red dessert wine made in the traditional Portugese style with four noble grapes" probably won't work so well, either. So, what to call these wines, that the TTB (the US regulatory agency for wineries) will allow? Wines & Vines magazine covers the issue and talks to some California winemakers dealing with…

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Find Your Lost Wine Had a great wine somewhere but don't remember the name, or where it was from, or the winery? Well, winelabelworld.com has a collection of labels, sorted by country, style, wine color and other distinguishing features. Find the one you're missing, or add your own. Irish Wine? No Way. Way! I've had Mead, which is really not wine at all, and really...sweet and disgusting if you ask me. Sorry. But Ireland now has a real winery making authentic, and from all accounts, quaffable if not transcendent (!) table wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay. This is the day to read about the winemaker, here. Miles' Merlot Makes a Move...Upward! If you saw Sideways, you know…

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