Wine and Epicurean

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Articles about Wine

Touring Champagne

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The home of great bubbly ups its game

By Robert Camuto (and Alison Napjus) -- Wine Spectator Dec. 15, 2013

Few products in history have been more associated with the good life, glamour and celebration than Champagne. Yet in modern times, even as the sparkling wine boomed, the Champagne region itself—one of France's most historic and bucolic wine countries—remained a sleepy backwater.

Up until recently, locals in Champagne didn't pay much attention to creating a travel experience worthy of the name. With the eponymous bubbly easily traveling the planet, the thinking seemed to be, why show off Champagne wine country?

That approach has taken a dramatic turn. In the past decade, the quality of Champagne as a destination has risen with a wave of hotel renovations and new vineyard accommodations, an influx of creative chefs, the area's first Champagne bars and more opportunity to tour Champagne houses large and small. A high-speed train line put the regional capital of Reims a mere 45 minutes from Paris.

Wachau Pioneers

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The leaders of an Austrian wine renaissance coax stunning whites from stony hillsides

By Robert Camuto-- Wine Spectator Nov. 15, 2013

The Wachau Valley is a 23-mile visual feast of tidy medieval villages, hilltop castle ruins and dense conifer forests, all set amid dramatically steep vineyards whose terraced slopes cling to the riverbanks of the winding Danube.

Despite more than a thousand years as a winemaking center, the Wachau has only seen its wines burst into the ranks of the world's great whites in the past 20 years, with aromatic Rieslings and food-friendly Grüner Veltliners.

Stateside, Austrian wine has become a tiny but fast-growing niche, with wine lovers, merchants and sommeliers increasingly turning to Wachau whites.

Reign of Terroir

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At 31 and on the cusp of her tenth vintage, Sicily’s revolutionary winemaker Arianna Occhipinti has redefined the image of the modern vintner by returning to the island’s native roots. 

By Robert Camuto-- la Cucina Italiana  November, 2013

Southern Maestros

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The Mastroberardino family helped spark a quality revolution in the high hills of Campania

By Robert Camuto-- Wine Spectator Oct. 31, 2013

Mount Vesuvius looms over the vine-rich landscape of southern Italy's Campania region as a blessing and a curse. Violent eruptions from the volcano have periodically wreaked destruction on the countryside, including most famously the Roman city of Pompeii in A.D. 79. Yet the soils that issue from its lava and ash have helped create the uniqueterroir for the region's greatest reds, made from the late-ripening Aglianico grape, as well as some of its most flavorful whites.

Ferrari in High Gear: The great Italian sparkler you don't know

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By Robert Camuto--Wine Spectator March 31, 2013

You may never have heard of Italy's most significant sparkling wine. In fact, the name Ferrari may evoke images of fast cars rather than Cantine Ferrari, the winery at the edge of the northeastern city of Trento, surrounded by Alpine foothills planted with high-altitude vineyards of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

At 110 years old, Ferrari is Italy's largest, oldest and most celebrated producer in the Champagne style. In the past century it has grown from a boutique label started by a local agronomist to a pioneering, family-owned producer of about 375,000 cases, including vintage wines comparable to some of the most prestigious and more expensive names in Champagne.

Yet almost all of Ferrari's product has stayed in Italy.

Italy's Champion

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By Robert Camuto - Wine Spectator  April 30, 2013

Oscar Farinetti, an Italian entrepreneur and the founder of Eataly, has created a worldwide chain of high-end temples to Italian food. But he's hungry for more.

In just six years, this son of a Piedmont pasta maker has built an epicurean empire. From its base in Turin, Eataly has expanded across Italy to New York and Tokyo, with 20 locations opened and 17 more on the drawing board. The Eataly format resembles a foodie-fantasy of an Italian village, complete with restaurants, cafés and market stalls. In each location, chefs and winemakers share their expertise in workshops and seminars.

Bordeaux Reborn: From its dining scene and waterfront to Wine Bars

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By Robert Camuto - Wine Spectator  March 31, 2013

What a difference a new century makes. In little more than a decade, Bordeaux has undergone France's most dramatic makeover. The Garonne riverfront has been cleaned and reclaimed with popular parks, walkways and fountains. Its rows of majestic limestone buildings and monuments have been scrubbed and polished to their original luster. Once-clogged automobile lanes have been replaced with a sleek transit system of electric trams, which snake silently along the river and through town.

The city's chic pedestrian-only streets are bustling, while boutique hotels, restaurants and wine bars cater to a broad range of tastes. An influx of cooking talent has spilled over into the wine country, from Margaux to St.-Emilion.

Domaine Tempier's Golden Age

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By Robert Camuto - Wine Spectator March 31, 2013

France's Mediterranean coast is best known for crisp rosés that pour like water in cafés and restaurants in summer. But just inland from the sandy beaches and fishing ports between Toulon and Marseille lie the hills of Bandol, where vineyards of Mourvèdre yield rosés of depth and seductive, ageworthy reds. These wines are full of Mourvèdre's ripeness and power, with aromas of spices, tobacco and the wild Mediterranean brush known as garrigue.

Comprising eight communes from the seaside port of Bandol to a ring of ancient hillside villages, the region forms a natural amphitheater with enough sea air to cool vines during the heat of summer and enough mountainous protection to mitigate the harsh mistral winds. The conditions are just right for the late-ripening Mourvèdre—a temperamental grape brought here from Spain centuries ago.

Russia Silences Wine Advertising

By Robert Camuto - Wine Spectator

Russia's latest salvo in a long battle against alcohol abuse by its citizens is a sweeping ban on alcohol advertising in media outlets. It's likely to have an unforeseen victim: the country's small but booming wine culture... Read full article in the Wine Spectator online.

 

The Douro Delights

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By Robert Camuto - Wine Spectator December 15, 2012

Nothing quite prepares you for the sheer beauty of Portugal's Douro Valley. Terraced vineyards, precariously steep, twist their way down from the ridges and mountains that flank the Douro River. The complex landscape encompasses more than 100,000 acres of vineyards that fill the rugged terrain and spread to the horizon. This is as good as wine country scenery gets. The Douro is one of theworld's great wine rivers, flowing from Spain (where it is known as the Duero) across more than 120 miles of northern Portugal before entering the Atlantic at Porto, the bustling port city that gave name to the region's famous fortified wines.

The tradition of fine wine here dates to the mid-18th century, when the Douro became the world's first demarcated wine appellation—100 years before Bordeaux's famed 1855 Classification. But up until recently, the area was a hinterland with few opportunities for travelers to visit and taste the local offerings.

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