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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Red Wine

Compulsive Crushing

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Finger-squeezing at Trapiche

© Trapiche/Frederick Wildman
Finger-squeezing at Trapiche

Ever since a lunch last week, when I had the opportunity to taste a slew of single-vineyard Malbecs from Argentina's Trapiche winery, I've been trying to wrap my mind around something flabbergasting that I was told there. When we came to the last wine of the tasting, a luscious deep, dark, black cherry-flavored Malbec called Manos, Gustavo Arroyat, Trapiche's Export Manager, informed us that wine is called Manos because it's entirely handmade. Not only are the grapes hand-harvested, and the best bunches hand-selected and hand-sorted, but each and every grape is hand-pressed. Meaning, each grape is squeezed between a human finger and thumb to release its juices. Now, call me a cynic, but I've have had a hard time buying this. Foot-stomping grapes, sure, but finger-squeezing?

Well, express doubt, and ye shall receive. In response to my queries came the above photo. For obvious reasons, there's not much Manos around—only about 500 cases—and at $90 it's definitely pricey, but the inaugural 2004 vintage has loads of juicy black fruit and an elegant structure. It's a perfect match for barbecue, especially the sweet-glazed Kansas City Spareribs from Blue Smoke that I had with it that day. — Megan D. Krigbaum

Wines Above $40

2007 Port Declaration Tasting

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I stopped by briefly this afternoon at a tasting of the new 2007 Vintage Ports (here's a lengthy report from Jancis Robinson on the vintage) from some of the major houses, and walked away very impressed. Based on this group, the '07s are more precise and fragrant than I recall the 2003s being; not as lusciously ripe (no surprise—it was a much cooler growing season through the entire summer, though it ended on ideally warm days in September) but more complex and graceful; and with a refined, powerful, spicy tannic grip on the finish of almost all the wines. I'll blog more about the vintage when I taste a few more examples—the wines won't be out for quite a while—but the two at the top of the heap today, for me, were the compellingly floral, layered, powerful Quinta do Vesuvio and the plush, black-currant-and-chocolate Croft

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