john brecher

  1. País in Chile, Mission in L.A.: Everything Old Is New Again

    País in Chile, Mission in L.A.: Everything Old Is New Again

    We hopped the M10 to attend a tasting in Harlem recently. We had no idea the bus would transport us to a different time. We were on our way to sample wines from Chile. Among the wineries represented, one named Santa Rosa de Lavaderos, from the Maule Valley in central Chile, was offering a vertical – 2018, 2020, 2022 – of its País. País? We rushed over.

  2. Inside the World’s Largest All-Texas Wine List: ‘We Said to Hell With the Nay-Sayers’

    Inside the World’s Largest All-Texas Wine List: ‘We Said to Hell With the Nay-Sayers’

    Meet Ross Burtwell, executive chef and owner of Cabernet Grill in Fredericksburg, Texas, and the grill’s wine director, Elizabeth Rodriguez  Burtwell and his wife, Mariana, bought the Cabernet Grill in 2002 and, just four years later, decided to replace the international wine menu with an all-Texas list.

  3. African American Vintners and a Powerful Word for the Future

    African American Vintners and a Powerful Word for the Future

    We were at the Association of African American Vintners’ 20th anniversary celebration in Oakland, Napa and Sonoma. Twenty years ago, three vintners – Edward Lee “Mac” McDonald, Vance Sharp and Dr. Ernest Bates – came together as the first members of an audacious undertaking, an association of Black winemakers. Audacious because at the time, Black faces were rare throughout the global wine industry. Although the number of Black people in the wine world is growing, from vineyard workers to those who make it and who sell it, of the more than 11,000 wineries in the U.S., fewer than one percent are owned by Black people or have a Black winemaker. 

  4. Iris Rideau: A Pioneer Gets Her Due ‘Because People Want to Know Now’

    Iris Rideau: A Pioneer Gets Her Due ‘Because People Want to Know Now’

    Iris Duplantier Rideau is a legend and, at 85 years old, is finally getting the attention she deserves. She is Creole, born in New Orleans of mixed cultures and race; became a prominent businesswoman and social activist in Los Angeles; and then opened Rideau Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara, becoming the first Black woman to own a commercial winery in the U.S.

     

  5. Tasting Texas: Tempranillo, Tourism and Tesla

    Tasting Texas: Tempranillo, Tourism and Tesla

    We toured Texas Wine Country for a few days and here are some brief impressions from first-time visitors.

    --Texas’s signature red will be Tempranillo and white will be Viognier – or not. We’re starting with this because it’s marvelously controversial. Texas is so large that many in the industry don’t think it needs or can have a signature. We’d argue that wine regions require one or two to cut through the noise: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec from Argentina, and even New Mexico sparkling wine, for instance. “You do want to be known for something,” said Patrick Connelly, general manager of highly respected Becker Vineyard...

  6. Visiting Napa and Sonoma: Tips to Enjoy a Different Experience

    Visiting Napa and Sonoma: Tips to Enjoy a Different Experience

    We almost didn’t write this column. We were approaching a special wedding anniversary -- which ones aren’t special? -- and we thought we’d return to Napa and Sonoma Wine Country to celebrate. We’d simply drive around to see the places that had sowed some of the seeds of who we’ve become, personally and professionally, since our first visit in 1975.

  7. Clos Saint-Landry White Burgundy: A Love Story, in Magnum

    Clos Saint-Landry White Burgundy: A Love Story, in Magnum

    Sometimes you just fall in love with a wine, right? If it’s a magnum and it’s a Burgundy, that helps, but we’d guess most wine lovers remember a bottle – or two, or three – that they simply fell for, regardless of price or pedigree. That happened to us recently and here’s the story, which, like any good love story, has some angst in the middle but ultimately a happy ending.

  8. Red Wine Headaches: Stalking the Causes With Dr. Waterhouse

    Red Wine Headaches: Stalking the Causes With Dr. Waterhouse

    A couple questions intrigued us in 2000 about the lack of progress in figuring out why some people suffered headaches after drinking wine. We were told then that there are dedicated opponents to alcohol consumption, no matter how moderate the consumption, inside and outside government. Modern prohibitionists are mounting efforts right now to further flag wine and other beverage alcohol as injurious to your health. 

  9. Why Some White Wines Age So Beautifully

    Why Some White Wines Age So Beautifully

    We had an interesting journey recently that took us back in time and to a future, we hope, when there are more ageable white wines on shelves.

    We are often asked when a wine will be at its best, but that question is usually about red wines. There’s an assumption that whites won’t go the distance. In our case, we love white wines with some age. We came to that honestly: Throughout the 1980s, we bought and drank German Rieslings from the 1971, 1975 and 1976 vintages. They were not popular even back then, which meant we could afford them.

    Over the years, some of our most remarkable experiences have been with older white wines, not just Riesling but others, such as well-cared-for Muscadet. In 1987, we visited a winery in Napa that was selling a decade-old Gewürztraminer from its library collection. We opened it right there at cellar temperature, shared it with the tasting room staff, and it was delicious.

    Whites with some age can be hard to find. One of many reasons we enjoy Crabtree’s Kittle House Restaurant & Inn in Chappaqua, N.Y., is the collection of carefully cellared older white wines at reasonable prices on its list. Those wines are often once-in-a-lifetime experiences, like the delicious Alain Coche-Bizouard Meursault “l’Ormeau” 1994 that we enjoyed about two years ago for $85.

    “Over the last year I have been tasting and assessing the quality of a lot of our older white Burgundies and others and am happy to say that there are many jewels in the cellar for those who can truly appreciate the unique qualities of gently aged, beautifully crafted wines,” owner John Crabtree wrote us when we inquired about the older whites he carried. His famous wine list is 155 pages long and has 5,000 selections for a total of 45,000 bottles.

    All of this came to mind because of a small tasting the two of us had that we really didn’t expect to take us on this journey. A while back, a representative of Domäne Wachau, the famed Austrian co-op, sent us some samples when we couldn’t do a Zoom session. We have been fans of the winery for a very long time. Its wines are thoughtful, focused and often excellent values. The samples included Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Ried Achleiten 2019 ($46.00) and the 1999, fully 20 years older from the same vineyard but before regulations required that Ried, denoting a single vineyard, precede the vineyard’s name. On a ripeness scale for white wines from the Wachau, Smaragd is the ripest and must have an alcohol level of at least 12.5 percent. They are known for being long-lived.

    We kept them for a few weeks to try them side by side, waiting for the right moment. We were sure the young wine would be tasty. We had high hopes for the 1999, but we also thought it might be more interesting than good, a bottle we’d enjoy drinking because of its history but lacking intensity and life at this point.

    We were so wrong. Here are our notes, how we talk about w...

  10. Camins 2 Dreams: Two Cultures Align but Picking Dates? Not So Much

    Camins 2 Dreams: Two Cultures Align but Picking Dates? Not So Much

    With Valentine’s Day approaching, we were thinking, naturally, about romance and how we had an instant connection when we were introduced on June 4, 1973, at 9 a.m. in the newsroom of The Miami Herald. There are so many romantic couples in wine, but it doesn’t often happen as quickly as that. Consider Tara Gomez, 48, and Mireia Taribó, 40, the two winemakers and spouses who own Camins 2 Dreams winery in Lompoc, Calif. 

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