Dispatches from Aspen Food & Wine Classic 2011

“Is this your first Classic?” It was a question I’d hear more than once over the three days I spent in Aspen last month at what has become the pre-eminent annual food and wine event in America. Emphasis on food. In a single evening I encountered Mario Batali, Jacques Pepin, Jose Andres (who personally prepared…

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Review: La Rochelle Pinot Noirs, 2011 Releases

Based in the Livermore Valley in central California, La Rochelle (aka LaRochelle) is a boutique wine producer with vineyards all over the state. Specializing in Pinot Noir, the winery shows how California Pinot can exhibit a huge range of styles. Don’t let the minimalist label fool you: This is great stuff. 2008 La Rochelle Pinot…

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Review: Bagrationi NV Classic Brut and 2007 Reserve Brut

Bagrationi hails from a place called Georgia. Not the state, the country, which claims to have been making wine since 5000 B.C. Today Georgia isn’t so much the winemaking empire it might have been in the age of the Merimde — Googling “Georgia wine” mainly gets you wineries near Atlanta — but a few makers…

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Review: Cookies & Corks — Cookies for Wine Pairing

Pairing wine with different foods is always a fun way to experience wine. Now here’s an easy — and more fun — way to do just that: With cookies customized for different wine types. Cookies & Corks produces small, boutique boxes of cookies, each bearing three different cookie types designed to pair with one of…

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Tasting Report: Wente Chardonnay Wines, 2011 Releases

Wente is one of the huge names in California wine, with dozens of bottlings of just about every wine under the sun. Today we tasted through four of Wente’s Chardonnays, from the supermarket blend to the more upscale bottlings, along with Karl Wente, the winery’s chief winemaker and a fifth generation member of the Wente…

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Cork vs. Screwcap: Here Comes the Science

There’s nothing quite like the sound of a cork popping out of that fresh bottle of wine, indicating it’s time at last to drink. The “click” of a screwcap seal being broken… well, it just doesn’t do the same thing for the senses. If Hogue Cellars has its way, you’re soon going to be willing…

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Review: Laphroaig Cairdeas Ileach Edition 2011 with Master Distiller John Campbell

Laphroaig, the king of peated Scotch, is not a company that likes to rock the boat. Today, it has just five real bottlings on the market — 10, 18, and 25 year olds, Quarter Cask, and a cask strength version of the 10. That’s it. No fancy finishes. No extra-woody (or, more likely in Laphroaig’s…

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Review: The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve (2011)

Most Scotch whiskies are aged in ex-Bourbon barrels for the majority of their lives. Only at the end are they occasionally finished in oddball barrels, like former sherry or Port casks. Dalmore’s Cigar Malt — a brand which has been off the market for years now — is an exception to the rule. It spends…

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