Antinori's Architectural Labor of Love

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Before Marchese Piero Antinori began work on one of the world's most expensive and daring wineries, the 75-year-old vintner approved an estimate of the cost. The final amount was nearly double.

"Piero was in love with the project. We were all in love," Marchesi Antinori's CEO Renzo Cotarella admits with a laugh. "And when you are in love, you find reasons to rationalize the love."

"Of course it was going to be more expensive," Cotarella says with a shrug, "but we wanted to believe otherwise."

After seven years of work, nightmarish construction problems and a budget that ballooned 170 percent to more than $130 million, Marchesi Antinori's flagship property opened last year on a hillside in Chianti Classico. It was immediately praised for its audacious environmental design, folded into the contours of a hillside in the town of Bargino...Read more at the Wine Spectator 

 

 

Letter from Lambrusco Country

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Trattoria La Busa, on the southern outskirts of Modena, is a window onto Emilia-Romagna's traditions: Italy's fastest cars, fantastic food and its most misunderstood wines. 

Ferrari-racing memorabilia cover the walls, platters of melt-in-your-mouth salumi lap around the dining room, and the kitchen turns out delicious handmade pastas drizzled with thick traditional balsamic vinegar. And dominating the wine list is fizzy red Lambrusco.

This Lambrusco is not the sweet red fizz that became Italy's most exported wine in the decades after the 1970s. It's the good stuff: dry, not-quite-sparkling, easy-drinking wine crafted from select grapes and offered at reasonable prices.

Fausto Altariva, 41, is the fourth-generation Lambrusco maker at his family's Fattoria Moretto in the rippling hills of Castelvetro di Modena. "Our goal is to make a wine of terroirs, like other fine wines," he says... Read more at the Wine Spectator 

 

Free Beppe!

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How new Italian wine labelling laws are stifling Barolo traditionalists.

Giuseppe Rinaldi has always danced to his own tune.

A producer of great old-school, cask-fermented Barolos, Rinaldi has been guided by his own gut and local tradition—not others rules or expectations.

When I first met him a couple of years ago, I asked a simple question: Was his 16-acre estate organically certified?

"I am nothing," scoffed Rinaldi, only half joking. "I am an anarchist!"

Portrait of a Young Négociant

A new generation is transforming Bordeaux's most misunderstood profession

By Robert Camuto - Wine Spectator April 30, 2014

Mathieu Chadronnier, who at 35 years old is already one of Bordeaux's most influential wine négociants, got rid of his private office long ago.

After being named head of the major fine-wine reseller CVBG in 2001, he began knocking down walls and hiring young, tech-savvy people who loved wine. Beginning with just one assistant, he increased CVBG's buying-and-selling team to eight in Bordeaux, plus another in Hong Kong.

Letter from Europe: Talking vino and Parmigiano with Italy's maestro modernist chef

Photo Per-Anders Jorgensen

If there were a Nobel Prize for Parmigiano cheese, Massimo Bottura would certainly be its first laureate.

For more than 20 years, Bottura, Italy's most acclaimed modern chef, has worked to perfect a signature dish founded on the belief that this famous aged cheese made near his native Modena wasn't getting the respect it deserved.

"Why did we only use this incredible cheese—this symbol of our land—just to grate on pasta?" The 50-year-old Bottura, clad in chef's jacket and jeans, is nearly shouting.

That's a good question, and his Five Ages of Parmigiano-Reggiano in Different Textures and Temperatures is an even better response....Read more at the Wine Spectator. 

 

Letter From Europe: Après-Yquem: Not Down for the Count

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Ten years ago, when the board of Château d'Yquem fired him, president and former owner Count Alexandre de Lur Saluces was expected to fade into the Sauternes sunset.

Instead, Lur Saluces picked himself up off the mat. The 80-year-old aristocrat continues making great Sauternes a few miles away at his Château de Fargues. Here, since 2005, he has produced seven wines in the outstanding range or better by Wine Spectator. The most recently released,2009 (97 points), sold for $170.

Not bad for a man who doesn't even consider himself a winemaker.

"Here, we are farmer-poets," said Lur Saluces, flashing a boyish, gap-toothed smile as he greeted visitors in a tweed jacket and tie.

...Read more at the Wine Spectator...

Letter From Europe: The Son Rises at Biondi-Santi

The 2013 vintage was tough for all of Montalcino, Tuscany's premier wine region. But for Jacopo Biondi Santi, it was a moment of truth.

It was the first harvest at his family's legendary estate following the death of his father, Franco Biondi Santi, this past spring at the age of 91.

"I have been harvesting here since I was eight years old, first with grandfather, then with my father," Jacopo, 63, said in his office over the winery. "This was the first time I did it alone."  ...Read more at the Wine Spectator. 

Letter from Europe: My new blog for the Wine Spectator

This week my new twice-monthly blog called Letter from Europe made its debut at the Wine Spectator. My first post called "The Human Face of Wine" begins:

"There are lots of reasons to love wine, but for me the most important reason is people..."

if you are familiar with my books and work you know this is who I am. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to roam the continent (mostly Italy and France) and relate the human stories from the wine world. There will be some great ones coming up very soon, so stay tuned. I hope you'll join the conversation. 

You can read the first blog on the Wine Spectator site here

Robert Camuto

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.

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