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125 Reasons We Love Wine

From the best Bordeaux values to the most reliable corkscrew, here's our highly opinionated, extremely selective and slightly eccentric list of 125 things we adore in the world of wine.

Contributors Salma Abdelnour, Lily Barberio, Anya Von Bremzen, Stephen Brook, Beth Collins, Ruby Cutolo, Jacqueline Friedrich, Kate Heddings, Ray Isle, Kate Krader, Sonali Laschever, David Lynch, Richard Marmet, Patrick Matthews, Jordan Mackay, Natalie Maclean, Connie McCabe, Elizabeth Hellman Minchelli, Richard Nalley, Gregory Duncan Powell, Stuart Pigott, Carla Ranicki, Jamal A. Rayyis, Kate Sekules, Jane Sigal, Lettie Teague, Ratha Tep, Lesley Truett, John Frederick Walker, Joe Watson

1 AUSTRALIAN SUPERPOWER Penfolds is, in many ways, a microcosm of what's great about Australian winemaking. Not only does Penfolds produce Grange, consistently one of Australia's best and most expensive ($205) bottlings, but it also turns out great value wines ($9 to $11) under its Koonunga Hill and Rawson's Retreat labels. Penfolds makes notable reds at prices somewhere in the middle, too, like its St. Henri Shiraz and Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon. And this megawinery seems every bit as committed to its winemakers as it is to its wines: Although Penfolds is one of Australia's oldest producers (founded in 1844), Grange is only on its fourth winemaker: Peter Gago, who took over from the famed John Duval just last year.

2 BEST DAY TRIP FROM PARIS Reims, the heart of Champagne, is less than two hours by car from Paris. Stop for lunch at Boyer Les Crayères, in a mansion belonging to the former owners of Champagne Pommery (64 Blvd. Henry Vasnier; 011-33-3-26-82-80-80), then hit the Champagne houses. Ruinart, with its cellars in former Gallo-Roman chalk quarries, is fascinating (reserve a tour at 011-33-3-26-77-51-51 or www.ruinart.com).

3 SIMPLE COOKING WITH WINE We love supereasy sauces: After sautéing meat or poultry, deglaze the pan with red or white wine to dislodge the flavorful drippings, then simmer the wine until it's slightly thickened and beat in a little cold butter at the end. Save any leftover wine to add to marinades, to replace vinegar in dressings or (when you're using sweet wines) to macerate fresh or dried fruit. Whatever you choose to cook, remember this cardinal rule: Never use a bottle that you wouldn't want to drink (that means anything labeled "cooking wine" too).

4 MOST THRILLING GREEK WINES Cut-rate retsina has been giving way to cutting-edge new Greek wines—at bargain prices. Fantis imports some of the best: whites like the melony, smooth Tsantali Chromitsa and reds like the dense, silky Katogi Averoff. Taste them at Manhattan's gorgeous Thalassa restaurant, which is owned by the family behind Fantis (179 Franklin St.; 212-941-7661).

5 ALSATIAN STAR Laurence Faller of Domaine Weinbach produces some of Alsace's best wines. Her most astonishing bottling may be the 2000 Quintessence, a dessert wine of remarkable intensity.

6 MOST BEAUTIFUL WINE COUNTRY No wine region combines history and beauty like South Africa's Stellenbosch. Imagine Napa Valley crossed with Yellowstone: craggy peaks towering over 300-year-old wine estates and whitewashed farmhouses, all fanning out from the pretty university town of Stellenbosch. And it's just an hour's drive from Cape Town (for information, call 212-730-2929 or www.istellenbosch.org.za).

7 BEST STUDENT WINEMAKERS How could a bunch of high school kids produce a wine so outstanding that it dazzled even critic Robert M. Parker, Jr.? The story is almost as good as the wine. About 10 years ago, in Australia's Barossa Valley, Nuriootpa High School teacher Kevin Hoskin and a small group of students made one barrel of Shiraz. They seemed to know what they were doing: Parker awarded their 1998 Barossa Class Shiraz 94 points out of 100. Today, in a tin shed at the school, Hoskin oversees about 50 students each semester as they crush 12 tons of grapes to produce 8,000 bottles of Shiraz, Chardonnay and port. The Shirazes are the stars; the 2001 Barossa Class is now available in limited quantities ($45 from the Grateful Palate; 888-472-5283).

8 THE LOIRE'S WILDEST GENIUS With his wild hair and wilder beard, Didier Dagueneau looks more like a character in a Hunter Thompson book than like a visionary Loire winemaker. Yet for nearly two decades, Dagueneau has raised Pouilly-Fumé to a new level. He was one of the first in the appellation to age some of his wines in small oak barrels, but far more important, he was willing to reduce yields severely, to levels many considered economically foolish. This gave him wines of immense concentration that could benefit from aging in oak. In short, he showed the Sauvignon Blanc grape respect and demonstrated that it could produce wines as grand as the whites of Bordeaux (to locate his wines, call Beaune Imports at 510-559-1040).

tips COOKING WITH GRAPES

9 SALADS Toss halved seedless grapes in an Asian-accented salad with shrimp, lettuce and chopped jicama.
10 SAUCES Add whole red grapes to the roasting pan after cooking game birds to help flavor the juices.
11 CHUTNEY Coarsely chop red grapes with walnuts for a fresh chutney to serve with Cheddar cheese or chicken.
12 TARTS Lightly moisten grapes, then toss with shredded sweetened coconut and use to top fruit custard tarts.
13 SANGRIA Place grapes in a single layer on a tray and freeze them. Add them to sangria instead of ice.
14 PIZZA Scatter red grapes and pine nuts over a prosciutto-Gorgonzola pizza before baking.

travel WINE-COUNTRY DINING

15 BEAUJOLAIS Restaurant Le Cep, in Fleurie-en-Beaujolais, is dedicated to the pleasures of the vine, from its collection of over sixty Beaujolais bottlings (thirty from Fleurie alone) to its respect for Beaujolais's traditional, wine-friendly food. Indeed, in 1999 owner Chantal Chagny did the unthinkable and relinquished her two Michelin stars so she could serve the classic regional dishes she loved rather than the grand cuisine people expected from a place with such an exalted honor. In lieu of lobster with truffles came frog's legs sautéed in butter with garlic and parsley (an amazingly labor-intensive preparation that involves three days of work) and, eventually, a Michelin star (Place de L'Église; 011-33-4-74-04-10-77).

16 WALLA WALLA, WASHINGTON How many restaurants would group Napa Cabernet on their wine lists in the category "Other Reds"? Whitehouse-Crawford in Walla Walla is that committed to local producers. Arguably Washington's most sophisticated dining spot east of Seattle, Whitehouse-Crawford offers dishes like chicken with rosemary honey and grilled peach as well as wild king salmon with gazpacho and melon-cucumber salsa, and is a veritable showcase for top Washington winemakers, including stars like Leonetti Cellar and Woodward Canyon (55 W. Cherry St.; 509-525-2222).

17 NAPA The American bistro boom just keeps on booming. One new place we love is Angèle in the town of Napa, California, a winemaker hangout owned by Auberge du Soleil founder Claude Rouas and his daughters Bettina and Claudia. You might find dishes more typical of a café (salade Niçoise, croque-monsieur) than a bistro, but you will find bistro classics as well (steak bordelaise with frites), and a bustling, neighborly ambience that is exactly what you'd find at a true bistro in French wine country. For more, see our story on American bistros (540 Main St.; 707-252-8115).

18 BEST WINE & HEALTH NEWS Wine drinkers are not only healthier than nondrinkers, but smarter and psychologically more stable—at least according to a 2001 study at Copenhagen's Institute of Preventive Medicine.

19 BEST ANTIQUE CORKSCREWS Frank Milwee Antiques in Washington, D.C., has one of the country's top collections—about 500 choices. Some date back to the 18th century, others to the 1980s. Whatever the vintage, Milwee guarantees they all work (from $10 to $5,000; 2912 M St., NW; 202-333-4811).

20 BIGGEST WINE BUYER Talk about buying in quantity: With a mandate to standardize prices throughout the province, the government-owned Société des Alcools du Québec markets about 5,000 kinds of wines, beers and spirits at luxury shops, bulk-barn outlets and other stores.

U.S. WINERIES TIME-TESTED PICKS

21 JOSEPH PHELPS VINEYARDS napa valley, ca; winery founded 1972.
22 BERINGER VINEYARDS napa valley, ca; winery founded 1876.
23 CHATEAU MONTELENA napa valley, ca; winery founded 1882.
24 RIDGE VINEYARDS santa cruz, ca; winery founded 1885.
25 QUPÉ santa barbara county, ca; winery founded 1982.
26 CAYMUS VINEYARDS napa valley, ca; winery founded 1972.
27 EDMUNDS ST. JOHN alameda county, ca; winery founded 1985.
28 CALERA WINE COMPANY central coast, ca; winery founded 1975.
29 CLINE CELLARS santa lucia highlands, ca; winery founded 1982.
30 STAG'S LEAP WINE CELLARS napa valley, ca; winery founded 1972.
31 SCHRAMSBERG VINEYARDS napa valley, ca; winery founded 1862.

32 FRIENDLIEST GREAT WHITE Austria's Grüner Veltliner is arguably the most drinkable of all the world's great dry white wines. Refreshing in its simplest form (only 11 percent alcohol), Grüner can even go beyond 15 percent alcohol without losing its balance. At that level dry wines like Weingut Bründlmayer's Ried Lamm are a match for top-drawer California Chardonnays and grand cru white Burgundies, but, unlike them, need no oak.

33 BEST URBAN VINEYARD If you know where to look, you can find vineyards in such unlikely spots as Vienna and Malibu. Now there's one in Toledo, Spain. Chef Adolfo Muñoz, owner of Viñedos Santa María, says Toledo's cool summers are perfect for nourishing the Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that go into his Pago del Ama wines.

34 CALIFORNIA PINOT MASTER Gary Pisoni of Pisoni Estate and Lucia makes some of the state's darkest, most flavorful Pinots.

35 BEST WINE PRIMER It took a whole decade to produce, but Karen MacNeil's 927-page The Wine Bible never reads like an encyclopedia. Instead it offers intelligent and poised prose on everything from the basics (how to use a corkscrew) to esoterica (it turns out that Kékfrankos, from Hungary, is the same grape as Austria's Blaufränkisch—who knew?).

36 SMALL BOTTLES, BIG IDEA Half bottles are the answer, no matter the question. Eating a meal by yourself? Open a half bottle. Did you order the meat and your partner chose the fish? Buy a half bottle of red and another of white. Hankering after a great wine but won't pay the tariff? Get the 375-ml version. Even more justification for half bottles: Many restaurants have a higher-quality selection of them than of wines by the glass.

37 wineries OUTSTANDING ART Canada's Mission Hill Family Estate, in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley, produces a range of great wines from Pinot Gris to Syrah, but that's not the only reason we love it. On view at the winery is a spectacular array of tapestries, most notably Chagall's Animal Tales. Based on his 1969 painting Animals and Music, this 10-by-12-foot tapestry—one of the few tapestries Chagall ever made—is a virtual collage of the artist's happiest works, depicting a rooster, a violinist, two people on a swing, animal musicians, a jester and many birds. Other stunning tapestries on view include abstract works by modern masters Fernand Léger and Paul Klee. Ancient artworks are on display at Mission Hill as well as 20th-century ones: Winery owner Anthony von Mandl also collects wine vessels, including amphorae that date back to the early Bronze Age and bottles recovered from a 17th-century shipwreck (1730 Mission Hill Rd., Westbank; 250-768-6448).

38 BEST WINE CAMEO The 1987 Cher—Nicolas Cage matchup, Moonstruck, gets our vote as one of the most delightful movies of the past two decades. Not for its glamour shots of Brooklyn and Manhattan or even for its quotable lines (a favorite: Vincent Gardenia's ditzy mistress marveling to him, "You have such a head for knowing") but for the starring role accorded Mumm's Cordon Rouge. Whenever Cher's family has something to celebrate (her engagement to one brother, then the other) they break open the Mumm's—which, rumor has it, cast members were drinking during takes.

39 plaything WINE CARDS Wine Smarts is a grown-up trivia game with 100 multiple-choice and true-or-false questions ($23 from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; 415-357-4035).

40 FAVORITE ROMAN WINE BAR Change is unsettling in a city that measures its history in millennia. But we've adjusted to the fact that Casa Bleve has moved to a new location. Happily, Tina Bleve still prepares involtini: roasted peppers, cured beef and other ingredients wrapped around sumptuous fillings. (48-49 Via del Teatro Valle; 011-39-06-686-5970).

41 BEST WAY TO SEE TUSCANY The Parker Company, which rents out Italian villas, has a way to improve on that idyllic vacation experience: a program of one-day excursions, many focused on wine. In Chianti, a sommelier leads tours of top vineyards like Antinori; lunch in a converted stable includes Chianti Classico Riserva, of course ($95; 800-280-2811).

42 PINOT GRIGIO PRAISE We love fresh, racy Pinot Grigio because it pairs so well with hard-to-match foods, such as tomatoes and grilled eggplant.

43 BEST PRONUNCIATION GUIDE The "living" wine dictionary at Stratsplace.com will sound out tricky terms for you.

44 AMERICA'S MOST PATRIOTIC GRAPE Zinfandel has been called America's grape. It's certainly American in spirit, offering big, bright, in-your-face flavors of strawberry, raspberry, cherry and spice. And many Zins are ready to drink right away.

45 BEST COUNTRY INN CELLAR With its 96,000-bottle cellar, Stonehedge Inn is a wine destination in the middle of Massachusetts horse country. Cult California vintners like Bill Harlan and Doug Shafer not only save cases of every vintage for Stonehedge but may also host one of the monthly sold-out wine dinners at its lovely restaurant, Silks (160 Pawtucket Blvd., Tyngsboro; 978-649-4400).

46 TOP SPANISH WINE SCOUT Jorge Ordoñez hunts out Spanish wines with character and brings them to the United States. The deals keep coming: At $5.50, the 2002 Borsao, with spicy notes of black pepper and red berries, is possibly the best red wine deal on the planet.

spotlight NAPA VALLEY

47 BEST HARVEST EXPERIENCE It's one thing to visit a tasting room, quite another to work in a vineyard. St. Supéry lets you do both as part of its Harvest Adventure. Sign up for a session (class size is limited to 10) and you'll start the day by picking grapes and learning about viticulture from St. Supéry's winemaker; then, after an optional grape stomp, you'll get a hands-on lesson in blending and create your own bottle to take home. Lunch rounds out the experience. A pass entitling you to a lifetime tasting membership at the winery is your diploma (October 10; $250; 800-942-0809 ext. 58).

48 BEST WINE CHARITY AUCTION Please forgive the Napa Valley Wine Auction its hype and sybaritic excess; it raises more for charity than any other wine auction in America. Almost $50 million since 1981, in fact, has gone to organizations like Napa Emergency Women's Services and the St. Helena Hospital (June 3 to 6, 2004; www.napavintners.com).

49 BEST NEW NAPA COOKBOOKS The Vineyard Kitchen by Maria Helm Sinskey of Robert Sinskey Vineyards. The Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Cookbook by Dolores and Jack Cakebread with resident chef Brian Streeter. Annie and Margrit by Annie Roberts and Margrit Biever Mondavi of Mondavi Vineyards and Victoria Wise. The Casual Vineyard Table by Carolyn Wente and Kimball Jones of Wente Vineyards.

travel INTERNATIONAL WINE COUNTRY HOTELS

50 ARGENTINA The Park Hyatt Mendoza, once a neoclassical palace, sits in a stately way facing Mendoza's main square. Sample about 2,500 local wines at the hotel's Bistro M, or ask the concierge to arrange winery tours; top producers, such as Catena Zapata, are just an hour away (from $140 a night; 011-54-261-441-1234).

51 AUSTRALIA Lindenwarrah Country House Hotel in Milawa (gateway to the lovely King Valley wine region, outside Melbourne) offers spectacular views over vineyards to the Australian Alps (from $175 a night; 011-61-3-5720-5777 or www.lindenwarrah.com.au).

52 FRANCE Château de Montgouverne near Vourvray in the Loire comes complete with pointy turrets—and surprisingly fresh style (from $110 a night; 011-33-2-47-52-84-59 or www.montgouverne.com).

53 NEW ZEALAND Hotel D'Urville, in Marlborough's otherwise unexceptional capital of Blenheim, is a charming spot that was once a bank (from $177 a night; 011-64-3-577-9945 or www.durville.com).

54 SPAIN Parador de Lerma, a renovated 17th-century palace, is a plush base for exploring the Ribero del Duero (from $135 a night; 011-34-947-17-71-10).

55 hero RIESLING SAVIOR Ernst Loosen helped save German Riesling from mediocrity 15 years ago at his Dr. Loosen estate in Bernkastel. By championing traditional winemaking methods, combined with a modest amount of modern technology, he became a Mosel legend. And he continues to move Riesling winemaking forward, with an estate in the Pfalz region (J. L. Wolf) and, internationally, with a joint venture in Washington State (Eroica with Chateau Ste. Michelle).

pairings WINE AND MEAT

56 BEEF & CABERNET SAUVIGNON Dense yet restrained, Cab can handle beef's heft while cutting through its richness.
57 VEAL & PINOT NOIR The pure red- and black-fruit flavors in more delicate Pinot Noirs are a natural with veal.
58 CHICKEN & PINOT GRIGIO Chicken—the every-day-every-way dish—is perfect with this undemanding grape.
59 LAMB & ZINFANDEL Rich, gamy lamb is just right for a grape that can often be over-the-top.
60 PORK & SYRAH Is pork the other white meat, or bacon by another name? Syrah has a similar range of personalities, from intense to gulpable.

61 BEST SITES FOR WINE GOSSIP In the www.weimax.com Rantings & Ravings section, Weimax store owner Gerald Weisl vents about the apparent idiocy of famed wine pros. The site www.egullet.com offers a less contentious forum for discussion.

62 ECO-CONSCIOUS WINEMAKING Gallo, Sonoma's largest landholder, has become a leader in sustainable farming, planting only half its acreage and using eco-friendly methods. It's good for the environment—and for the wine.

63 OREGON'S BEST TASTING ROOM The Carlton Winemakers Studio is just plain cool: It's an eco-friendly, recycled-material-using, cooperative winemaking facility where a bunch of top-notch Oregon winemakers all share equipment to turn out classy Pinot Noir and other varietals—including sparkling wines and dessert wines. Winemaker Eric Hamacher of Hamacher Wines is the man who made it happen; other flagship tenants at the studio include Soter Vineyards, Andrew Rich Wines, Bryce Vineyard, Domaine Meriwether, Dominio and Penner-Ash Wine Cellars. And to top it all off, these wineries all pour their bottles in a shared tasting room that's open to the public (801 N. Scott St., Carlton; 503-852-6100).

64 TOP WINE FOR ASIAN CUISINE Image problems aside, Riesling is truly cosmopolitan. Its high acidity and mineral-rich taste make it a brilliant match for a wide range of cuisines, especially Asian ones.

65 BEST BARGAINS IN BORDEAUX Top-growth Bordeaux prices have soared, but there are still bargains. Among the Médoc's classified growths, Châteaus Cantemerle, La Tour Carnet, Ferrière, Kirwan and Haut-Bages Libéral are notable. There are even more values among Bordeaux's crus bourgeois, or unclassified estates, as many produce excellent, long-lived wines. In the Médoc there's Poujeaux, Potensac, Chasse-Spleen and Les Ormes de Pez.

66 style note WINE TOTE Handcrafted in Italy, this leather Dooney & Bourke picnic carrier can hold two bottles ($220; 800-226-9042).

67 WASHINGTON STATE LEADER Producing just under one million cases a year, Chateau Ste. Michelle is Washington State's second largest winery, after its sister company Columbia Crest. Yet despite its enormous size Chateau Ste. Michelle continues to innovate, adding new wines to its portfolio, breaking ground on new vineyard sites and forming prestigious, adventurous international partnerships with Germany's Ernst Loosen (to produce Eroica) and Italy's Piero Antinori (to produce Col Solare). One thing about the company hasn't changed: Chateau Ste. Michelle's Columbia Valley Johannisberg Riesling ($7) has remained the winery's top seller since its debut in 1967.

68 BEST OLD-STYLE WINEMAKING TOOL The wood basket press is having a revival, championed by some star Australian producers who use it to help filter out excessive tannins in their red wines.

69 ITALIAN WINE & FOOD MECCA For travelers who put wine and food above all else, the ultimate destination in Italy is Piedmont. In fact, Piedmont offers very little to do other than eat and drink. Down around Alba, where the only real industry is the Nutella factory, you spend your days winding through the wine towns of Barolo and Barbaresco, eating butter- and truffle-dressed pastas, hearty beef and game braises and funky cow's-milk cheeses, all while sipping the most ethereal red wines Italy has to offer. Don't miss Trattoria della Posta in Monforte d'Alba, La Ciau del Tornavento in Treiso, Belvedere in La Morra and the legendary La Contea in Neive. Go in the fall and have carne cruda with white truffles and a bottle of Barolo.

70 CHILEAN WINE HOT SPOT The tapas are excellent and the jazz is live, but Wine 365, the bistro in the new Ritz-Carlton Santiago, is all about vino: 4,000 bottles in the cellar and 365 Chilean wines on the menu—24 of them by the glass. The list ranges from the classic Domus Aurea Cabernet Sauvignon to the relatively new Cono Sur Visión Viognier; ask the sommelier about his secret stash (15 Calle El Alcalde, Las Condes; 011-56-2-470-8500).

71 BEST CHEESES MADE WITH WINE For those of us who love to pair wines with cheeses, ubriacos cut out the middleman. Italian for "drunken," ubriachi refers to cheeses soaked in wine during the aging process. Our favorites are the light, fruity Fragola Clinto, made with wine from two types of Concordlike wild grape, and the buttery, melt-in-your-mouth Testun al Barolo, with spent grape skins pressed directly into the rind ($15 per pound each at Citarella; 212-874-0383 or www.citarella.com).

72 recipe WINE BAR SNACK This delicious roasted nut mix is adapted from The Casual Vineyard Table by Carolyn Wente and Kimball Jones. For 6 cups, preheat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl, combine 2 cups each of pecans, almonds and walnuts. Add 1/4 cup maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of minced mixed herbs (such as rosemary, sage, savory and thyme) and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper; toss well. Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes, or until browned, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper and toss frequently until cooled. The nuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

73 CHOCOLATE & PORT PAIRING Jacques Torres, the owner of Jacques Torres Chocolate, has found inspiration for pairing chocolate and port in the infamous tequila slammer. After smearing caramel on his hand and pouring port into a chocolate cup, he licks the caramel, downs the port and eats the cup. To re-create this experience, you can buy Body Butter caramel at Torres's fabulous little shop, on a cobblestoned street in Brooklyn between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges (66 Water St.; 718-875-9772 or www.jacquestorres.com), or you can create your own version; simply smear caramel sauce on your hand (we like Smuckers dulce de leche), lick it clean and take a sip of port and then a bite of dark chocolate.

pairings WINE AND CHEESE

74 DRINK HIGH-ACID WINES WITH YOUNGER, MORE ACIDIC CHEESES sauvignon blanc with fresh goat cheese.
75 CHOOSE LIGHT WINES FOR YOUNG CHEESES orvieto with young pecorino.
76 TRY LOWER-ACID WINES WITH OLDER CHEESES chardonnay with gruyère.
77 POUR A SWEET DESSERT WINE WITH A SALTY CHEESE sauternes with roquefort.
78 PAIR BIG RED WINES WITH CREAMY CHEESES cabernet with brie de meaux.
79 HAVE STRONG WINES WITH STRONG CHEESES syrah with aged cheddar.
80 MATCH EARTHY WINES WITH HERBED CHEESES corsican red with brin d'amour.

81 BEST WINE-STAIN REMOVER We have a lot of ad hoc experience at F&W (perhaps too much) removing red wine stains from clothes and tablecloths. Recently we put our favorite methods to a test, which confirmed that Erado-sol erases all traces of both fresh and old stains ($7; 800-525-6262). A solution of equal parts Dawn dishwashing detergent and drugstore hydrogen peroxide is also effective, and Spray 'n Wash works well on stains that have not set in.

82 MOST EXOTIC RAISINS Dried in clusters, Frieda's Raisins on the Vine are plump and moist (from $3.50 for 4 oz.; 800-241-1771).

83 WASHINGTON STATE HERO In 1974, when Walla Walla was all about cattle and onions, Gary Figgins started Leonetti Cellar by planting grapes in his backyard. Since then his opulent, multilayered Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons and Sangioveses have earned him a well-deserved cult following.

84 NEW SPANISH WINE BOÎTE De Vinis, a supersleek boîte in Madrid, has a 300-bottle wine list that can also be yours by the glass—from a vertical of the great Château Pétrus to wines from an up-and-coming bodega in Murcia. The wine-friendly menu by Beatriz Molero features such dishes as a nouvelle beef carpaccio and a sublime chocolate-orange cake to go with that 1910 Alvear Solera P.X. (Paseo de la Castellana 123; 011-34-91-556-40033).

85 BEST HOTEL MINIBAR The best hotel minibars are also mini cellars. At the elegantly laid-back Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, CA, the minibars stock about 10 good half-bottles such as 1997 Franus Zinfandel and 2000 Laetitia Pinot Noir (1 Pico Blvd.; 800-334-9000).

86 best party drink WHITE WINE SANGRIA This recipe is from Serena Bass, a New York City caterer and co-owner of Serena Bar & Lounge. For 3 quarts, in a large pitcher mix two 750 ml bottles of Pinot Grigio with 1 cup of brandy, 4 cups of passion fruit puree and 1 cup superfine sugar (or 4 cups of passion fruit nectar and about 2/3 cup of superfine sugar). Stir until the sugar dissolves; taste and add more sugar if necessary. Refrigerate overnight. Up to 3 hours before serving, add 4 peaches, nectarines or plums that have been pitted and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

87 winery POMPEII LEGACY After archaeologists discovered the remains of a vineyard in the ruins of Pompeii, they knew they'd found something important; they just weren't sure what to do with it. Finally, in 1996, Mastroberardino, the vintners who put modern Campanian wines on the map, stepped in. With support from the Italian government, guidance from ancient writings such as Pliny's Natural History and viticultural research based on Pompeii's frescoes, Mastroberardino planted vineyards that replicated those of A.D. 79, the year Vesuvius erupted and buried Pompeii. Mastroberardino recently released its first vintage, the 2001 Villa dei Misteri (Villa of the Mysteries). This blend of Piedirosso and the little-known Sciascinoso debuted at a charity auction in Rome last spring, where 6-bottle cases ultimately sold for almost $1,000.

88 NEWS FROM ARGENTINA Donald Hess, the wine genius behind the The Hess Collection Winery in Napa, is fascinated with Argentina's Calchaqui Valley. He's purchased Bodega Colomé, perhaps Argentina's oldest working winery, and opened a small hotel, Colomé. About three hours from the town of Salta, it has suites with fireplaces and verandas, tennis and boccie courts and (opening in 2005) the Hess Collection Art Museum (from $95 per night; contact estancia@bodegacolome.com or 011-54-3868-494044).

89 travel BEST NAPA VALLEY DRIVE Driving the Silverado Trail is one of the best ways to see Napa Valley. It's our favorite alternative to the famous Highway 29: It's quieter, curvier and still a bit of a secret. The road winds past such great wineries as Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and Stags' Leap Winery, Chimney Rock Wine Cellars, Pine Ridge, Clos Du Val, Quintessa, Mumm Napa Valley, Miner Family Winery, ZD and Duckhorn Vineyards. Be sure not to miss the little produce stand on the corner of Deer Park Road in St. Helena, then, before you know it, you're in Calistoga. (For maps and other information about visiting Napa, call 707-226-7459 or visit www.napavalley.com).

travel GREAT WINE SHOPS

90 PARIS Until Lavinia opened here last fall, wines from outside France were hard to find in Paris. Arguably Europe's largest wine shop, Lavinia offers 5,000 selections from as far away as Uruguay—more choices than at its branches in Madrid and Barcelona. Drink any bottle from the store at the wine bar inside (3—5 Blvd. de la Madeleine; 011-33-1-42-97-20-20).

91 CAPE TOWN At Vaughan Johnson's Wine & Cigar Shop, the chance to grab famous South African wines at a favorable exchange rate has made visitors like Al Gore lose their reserve (Dock Rd., Victoria & Alfred Waterfront; 011-27-21-419-2121).

92 BERLIN Wein & Glas Compagnie is overseen by winemaker-turned-wine-merchant Georg Mauer, an avid scout who travels the world to find great bottles (Prinzregentenstrasse 2; 011-49-30-235-1520).

93 NEW YORK Roberta Morrell, Peter Morrell and Nikos Antonakeas want to bring wine to every aspect of Manhattan life. Morrell & Company anchors their empire (1 Rockefeller Plaza; 800-96-WINES), plus the new Morrells Restaurant offers 150 wines by the glass (900 Broadway; 212-253-0900)

U.S. WINERIES ONES TO WATCH

94 BREWER-CLIFTON, SANTA BARBARA, CA small-production santa barbara pinot noirs
95 BLANKIET ESTATE, NAPA VALLEY, CA hillside vineyard cabernet blends
96 BOND, NAPA VALLEY, CA single-vineyard cabernet sauvignons from the owners of napa's prestigious harlan estate
97 CLOS LACHANCE WINERY, SANTA CLARA, CA santa cruz mountains pinots and chardonnays
98 L'AVENTURE, PASO ROBLES, CA bordeaux- and rhône-style blends
99 MERUS, NAPA VALLEY, CA boutique napa valley cabernet sauvignons
100 CADENCE WINERY, SEATTLE, WA bordeaux-style blends from several vineyards
101 PATRICIA GREEN CELLARS, WILLAMETTE VALLEY, OR some of the state's top pinot noirs
102 RANCHO ZABACO, SONOMA VALLEY, CA great buys in california zinfandel
103 COPAIN WINERY, SANTA ROSA, CA mendocino syrahs and sonoma viognier and pinot noir; a pinot noir specialist

104 CALIFORNIA CONTRARIAN Helen Turley of Napa and Sonoma became America's most famous wine collaborator after sending once-obscure labels like Bryant Family Vineyard, Colgin and her own Marcassin into the pricing stratosphere. Her secret: a contrarian, low-tech approach that yields rich, intense wines with finesse.

105 GLASSES FOR SOMMELIER WANNABES Spiegelau glasses are durable and inexpensive (about $10 each) yet graceful; the stems are long, the bowls are well-shaped (800-999-6347).

106 BEST WINE FROM A BOX It took some cajoling to get F&W editors to a tasting of boxed wines. The surprisingly delicious winner: a blend of Cabernet and Merlot from Washington State's Tefft Cellars. Juicy and ripe, at $30 for 4 liters (the equivalent of five bottles) it's a great deal.

107 QUIRKIEST WINE NAPKINS A man in pinstripes sticks his nose deep into a glass of red wine... A Botticelli-esque woman holds a glass of rosé... These are two illustrations from Jensco's "Six Stages of Wine Tasting" line ($4 per package; 800-270-4202).

trends HOT WINE ZONES

108 South Africa Hamilton Russell, Bouchard-Finlayson and Whale Haven all make top-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Walker Bay. And you can even whale-watch from the vineyards.

109 Italy In the '60s, the Tuscan village of Bolgheri was a sleepy summer retreat. Today, Bolgheri lends its name to one of Italy's most prestigious wine appellations, known for powerhouse reds called Super-Tuscans. Look for the recently released "second" wines from legendary producers Sassicaia (Guidalberto) and Ornellaia (Le Serre Nuove).

110 New York The North Fork of Long Island—"the Napa of the East," as some optimistically call it—is home to stalwarts, like Lenz, and newcomers, like Shinn Vineyards.

111 Washington State Kiona Vineyards, Hedges, Quilceda Creek and DeLille Cellars have all put down roots on Red Mountain, and many other Washington State stars—including Andrew Will and Woodward Canyon—purchase grapes there. Great Cabernet Sauvignon? Merlot? Syrah? With all the great reds coming out of this region, you know they don't call it Red Mountain for nothing.

finds GRAPE LOVERS' FOODS

112 DRESSING Acetaia Leonardi Saba Dressing, with a hint of acidity (www.farawayfoods.com).
113 JELLY Tesori di Montecurto Recioto di Soave Jelly (877-907-2525 or www.esperya.com).
114 SYRUP La Nicchia Elisir di Uva Zibibbo, an earthy, honeylike syrup (877-878-2783 or www.agferrari.com).
115 TOPPING Carol Hall's Olallieberries with Cabernet Sauvignon (866-737-7379 or www.hotpepperjelly.com).
116 SORBET Ciao Bella Blackberry Cabernet Sorbetto (800-435-2863 or www.ciaobellagelato.com).

117 BEST THEME FOR A HOTEL The six Hotel du Vin properties throughout England have all the luxurious amenities, plus something more: a passion for wine. Rooms are named after wine producers and lobbies are decorated with wine memorabilia. Cofounder Gerard Basset may be Britain's leading sommelier, and his wine picks for the hotel restaurants (including the one at Tunbridge Wells, at left) are at the heart of this fast-growing microchain. The wine courses he'll be co-hosting at the Birmingham property are clearly a labor of love (from $175 a night; 011-44-121-200-0600).

118 STAR ITALIAN WINEMAKER The leader of the so-called flying winemakers, Riccardo Cotarella, is owner, co-owner, winemaker or consulting winemaker of some 30 properties. Still, he has a focus, which is to bring acclaim to central and southern Italy. In addition to the wines of his Falesco estate in Lazio, he now crafts the Bordeaux-inspired reds of Colle Picchioni, outside Rome, and has done wonders with the Nero d'Avola grape at Sicily's Morgante. Big, juicy reds are his calling card, and it's clear that there are more great ones to come.

119 best steak sauce BEURRE ROUGE This luscious red wine—based sauce is from Terrance Brennans Seafood & Chop House in Manhattan. For 1 cup, melt 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter in a saucepan. Add 2 thinly sliced shallots and cook over moderate heat until softened. Add 1 1/2 cups red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, 3/4 cup ruby port and 2 thyme sprigs. Boil over moderately high heat until reduced to 3 tablespoons and syrupy, about 15 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs. Over low heat, whisk in 2 sticks of cold unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and season with salt and pepper.

120 best infused wine SPICED RASPBERRY GRAPPA This recipe is adapted from Lidia's Italian Table by Lidia Bastianich. Fill a 1-quart jar with raspberries, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 cloves and 1/4 cup of sugar. Add grappa to cover, seal and store in a warm, dark place for 3 weeks. Drape a double layer of cheesecloth over a 1-quart jar and strain the grappa through it. Remove the cheesecloth; discard the solids. Seal the jar and let the grappa age at room temperature for 1 month.

121 WINE CRITIC SUPERHERO If a movie is ever made of Robert M. Parker, Jr's. life, it will certainly be an action picture. Parker has been a sort of wine superhero for decades, rewarding good wines and punishing bad ones (or at least giving them low scores). He's the only wine writer in history to win France's most prestigious award, the French Legion of Honor. But the list of Parker firsts is long—beginning with his declaration (controversial at the time) that 1982 was a great Bordeaux vintage. Parker has also been the most powerful proponent of the 100-point system and a tireless champion of producers working to improve their wines through methods such as reducing yields, filtering and fining. But beyond his vast influence and remarkable palate is his unimpeachable integrity. (To subscribe to his newsletter, call 410-329-6477.)

122 OUR FAVORITE CORKSCREW Le Creuset's Lever Model Classic Screwpull was designed by an inventor who also created jet engine parts ($100 at Bloomingdale's; 800-232-1854).

123 PALM PILOT SOFTWARE Wine Enthusiast magazine's Wine Guide for Palm OS Handhelds lets you turn your favorite handheld device into a tiny trove of wine wisdom, with 10,000 different wines, all searchable by categories like price, rating, vintage, style and varietal (from LandWare; 800-526-3977 or www.landware.com).

124 AUSTRALIAN "STICKIES" We don't know who dubbed Australian dessert wines "stickies," but the nickname stuck. "When it's fermenting, the wine is all gooey and there are bees everywhere," confides one producer. Two stickies we're stuck on: De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon and Peter Lehmann The Barossa Noble Sémillon.

125 winery GLOBAL PLAYER When Australia's Mildara Blass bought Napa's Beringer Wine Estates three years ago for $1.2 billion, the resulting conglomerate (with holdings in New Zealand, Chile and Italy, too) was impressively global. But while Beringer Blass Wine Estates owns 25 wineries, we're more wowed by the company's strategy than by its size: It supplies its winemakers with resources while supporting their independence. In Napa, Beringer Blass owns Etude, Carmenet, Beringer Vineyards, St. Clement Vineyards, Stags' Leap Winery and Chateau St. Jean; in Tuscany, Castello di Gabbiano; in New Zealand, Matua Valley; in Australia, Wolf Blass.

Published October 2003
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