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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Tasting Room

Burgundy Wine Bargains

Red wine and charcuterie at Montreal's Joe Beef.

We all know hail. It always seems kind of fun, or at least surprising, those little pellets of ice dropping from the sky and bipping off the pavement. “Huh,” you think, “look at that—hail! What the heck.”

People in Burgundy don’t feel quite the same way about hail. I was made aware of this one time a few years back when I went to meet a Burgundian winemaker at his estate. I pulled in and parked next to his car, and did a kind of double take: It looked like someone had attacked the thing with a ball-peen hammer. The hood, roof, trunk, everything was covered in quarter- to half dollar–size divots. “What happened to your car?” I asked him.

“Hail,” he said, in a tone that would have made Eeyore seem cheery.

Unfortunately, the Burgundians were all fairly despondent this summer, when a severe hailstorm hit the region. Hailstones the size of ping-pong balls decimated vineyards in the Côte de Beaune, with some growers losing up to 90 percent of their crop. This is particularly disheartening because the region also had to deal with major hailstorms last year as well—for a small-scale grape grower, losing two vintages in a row is financially catastrophic. So, why not help out by picking up a bottle or two of Burgundy? Here are a handful of the best values from the region, both white and red:

2011 Jean-Marc Brocard Petit Chablis ($15) This white is a great, affordable introduction to the fruity-chalky nature of Chardonnay when it’s grown in the limestone soils of Chablis.

2010 Laroche Bourgogne Chardonnay Tête de Cuvée ($18) A range of growers, mostly in the Mâcon, provide the fruit for this pear-inflected, surprisingly complex Bourgogne white. (The 2011 will likely be arriving soon, but for the moment the 2010 is also available.)

2011 Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Sétilles ($20) Although the label simply says Bourgogne Blanc, most of the fruit for this apple-accented, minerally white comes from vineyards in the prestigious communes of Puligny-Montrachet and Meursault.

2011 Maison Joseph Drouhin Laforet Bourgogne Rouge ($16) Grapes from a dozen different appellations throughout Burgundy go into this fragrant, red-fruited Bourgogne Rouge (which is made from Pinot Noir, as are all red Burgundies). And, a sign of change in a very traditional region: It’s sealed with a screw cap.

2010 Maison Roche de Bellene Bourgogne Pinot Noir ($19) Roche de Bellene is the new négociant company from the well-respected producer Nicolas Potel (who, confusingly, is no longer associated with his old company, Maison Nicolas Potel). Old vines that are farmed either sustainably or organically supply the fruit for this nuanced, aromatic red.

Related: Where to Buy Wine Online
Burgundy Pairings Slideshow
Burgundy Wine Producers We Love

Dr. Vino's Verdict

How Wine Labels Lie About Alcohol

Ever wondered where the experts stand on the best wine practices and controversies? In this series, wine blogger, teacher and author Tyler Colman (a. k. a. Dr. Vino) delivers a final judgement.

Don’t you think the percentage of alcohol on a wine’s label should accurately reflect what’s in the bottle? Often it doesn’t. The government's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau separates most wine into two tax brackets by alcohol level: 11 to 14 percent, and 14 percent-plus. Within those brackets, producers have wiggle room between what the label says and what’s really the case, up to 1.5 percent in the lower bracket and up to 1 percent in the upper. So a wine labeled 12.5 percent alcohol could really be 14 percent, and a wine labeled 14.9 might actually be 15.9. And a UC Davis study of more than 100,000 bottles of wine found that producers overall understate alcohol levels by 0.3 percentage points.


Related: More from Dr. Vino
5 Great Wines for $12 or Less
An Anti-Snob Wine Dinner in Sonoma

Wine Wednesday

What to Drink with Dessert

Double-Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

It’s quite something to take a brisk walk on a cool September morning through Soho in New York City and come across a line of at least 150 people waiting patiently for the opportunity to buy a cronut. For me at least, the sight of all these cronut-loons raises a number of questions. One is, “Really? That’s how you’re going to spend your morning?” Another is, “Wow—is civilization doomed?” Then there’s the crucially important, “Gosh, I wonder what wine would go with a cronut?” READ MORE >>

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Food and Wine Confessions

An Editor Gets Saucy with Mustard

We all have them. Closeted culinary skeletons. Until now we've kept them locked up, afraid to share these disturbing realities with the world. But F&W is a safe place. This is where we let go of some of our inner demons and hope that you'll do the same. Even someone so saintly-seeming as associate food editor Daniel Gritzer isn't faultless. Displaying great courage, Daniel has shared the first of many #FWConfessions:

"The lowest culinary moment of my life was when I cooked pasta and used yellow mustard as sauce."

Need to get something off of your chest? Head over to Twitter and share your tales of food snobbery and lowbrow culinary obsessions using #FWConfessions. We'll share our favorites and won't judge.

This Old Wine

An Earthy 10-Year-Old Red for Under $30

You don't have to be a hoarder or deep-pocketed auction-goer to drink well-aged wine. Here, we spotlight affordable old bottles to buy now.

2003 Calabretta Etna Rosso ($26): Many of the wines grown on Sicily's Mount Etna are crazily underpriced, but Calabretta's Etna Rosso is an especially good value because it arrives in stores having spent six to seven years in huge oak barrels and several more in bottle. Though it's made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio grapes, this wine bears resemblance to much more expensive Nebbiolo-based wines from Italy's Piedmont region. It's totally delicious, and it smells like black cherries, violets and peppery spices.

The (Wonderful) Effects of Age: This powerful, bright-tasting wine is becoming earthier and more herbal, making its fruit flavors taste deeper and more complex. The color is also changing: As they age, reds become less vivid, turning to what wine people call garnet (often indicating that an age-worthy wine is in its sweet-spot for drinking) and then darker and darker toward brown (at which point they're not very tasty). This one is still quite bright, but it's definitely becoming a pretty garnet.

Drink it With: Anything that would normally call for Barolo or Barbaresco. Chef Matthew Accarrino's cannelloni with walnuts and fried sage would be spectacular.

Where to Buy: Astor Wines. (Find more stores.)

Related: F&W Visits Mount Etna
Italian Grapes from A to Z
Best Italian Value Wines

Dr. Vino's Verdict

Climate Change: The End of Pinot Noir?

Ever wondered where the experts stand on the best wine practices and controversies? In this series, wine blogger, teacher and author Tyler Colman (a. k. a. Dr. Vino) delivers a final judgement.

Don’t you think global warming is going to be disastrous for wine? In the past three decades temperatures have risen and growing seasons have lengthened in many wine regions. Because of that, grapes ripen faster and reach higher sugar levels, which means higher natural levels of alcohol, among other considerations. Climate scientist Greg Jones estimates that by 2049, temperature increases will prevent some early-ripening grapes from being grown in their classic regions (like Pinot Noir in Burgundy)—and some warm regions may become too hot for any grapevines at all.


Related: More from Dr. Vino
Affordable Summer Wines: Chillable Reds
Wine 101: Pinot Noir and Red Burgundy

F&W Rant

The Truth About Riesling

Wine expert Paul Grieco.

To borrow from Stephen Colbert, there is a "truthiness" about Riesling that unfortunately overshadows the truth. The truthiness is that Riesling is inherently sweet. The truth is that most Rieslings are so dry that the Garden of Eden would lose all its foliage if watered with a magnum. So let's start another conversation about Riesling, focusing on four things: balance, delicacy, complexity and sense of place.

We sometimes think of balance as one-dimensional. In fact, balance in wine requires a multiplicity of things—acids, sugars, pH levels, alcohol, magic dust—all in perfect alignment. And the cool thing about Riesling is that when one of these factors moves across the spectrum, the others shift to maintain equilibrium. There is no precise formula to measure balance; we just know it when we feel it. And what we feel with a glass of Riesling in our hand is what tightrope walker Philippe Petit feels every day at work.

Delicacy does not mean fragility or excessive sensitivity. Ultimately, the delicacy we yearn for in wine is a physiological rallying cry leading from one sip to a second. The palate should be so intrigued by what the wine has done to the taste buds that it cannot resist the opportunity to experience it again. With Riesling, one taste begs for another.

Complexity Put on your seat belt, because the journey through the various aromas and flavors of Riesling is a thrill ride that even Six Flags could not map out. Around every bend are citrus fruits, stone fruits, fruits that haven't even been named yet, coupled with floral overtones and buttressed by minerality that's like a quarry of boulders.

A grape's ability to express the land in which it's grown is one of the world's great mysteries (slightly below our fascination with Kim Kardashian). We recognize the existence of terroir when we line up five glasses of Riesling, from different places, and recognize the differences between them. That is Mother Earth screaming at us in liquid form!

Ultimately, the measure of truthfulness in Riesling is the happiness it creates. Your brain reels after every sip; your toes tingle so much you cannot put your socks on. As Ben Franklin famously said, wine is constant proof that God loves us. And with Riesling, we know God loves us absolutely.

Paul Grieco is co-owner of Hearth restaurant and Terroir wine bars in NYC.

Related: More from F&W's October Wine Issue
Riesling Wine Pairings
Guide to Perfect Wine Pairings

Expert Guide

Five Great Wine Values $12 & Under

Five Great Wine Values $12 & Under

Here, F&W's executive wine editor suggests five top picks for $12 or less.

2012 Vega Sindoa Tempranillo ($9)
A tiny cooperative of eight Navarran families grows the grapes for this bright, crisp Spanish red.

2010 Vale do Bomfim Douro Red ($11)
This blend of native Portuguese grapes from the Douro Valley is surprisingly complex.

2012 Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc ($12)
A perennial value, Dry Creek's Chenin Blanc offers layers of citrus-melon flavor.

2010 Il Molino di Grace Il Volano ($12)
A fresh, herby Tuscan red, it's a blend of Sangiovese with 2percent Merlot.

2011 Novellum Chardonnay ($12)
This fragrant Chardonnay is made with hand-harvested grapes from France's Côtes Catalanes region.

Related: Where to Buy Wine Online
In Search of Good Cheap Wine
America's Best and Most Accessible Value Wines

Expert Travel Guide

Portland's Best Places to Drink Wine

Chef Vitaly Paley

F&W's October issue is dedicated to wine. Here, fantastic spots to drink it in Portland, Oregon.

The Bent Brick
A gastropub by F&W Best New Chef 2004 Scott Dolich, offering more than a dozen Pacific Northwest wines on tap. thebentbrick.com

Higgins
The best place in town to try reserve vintages from producers like Eyrie. higginsportland.com

Imperial
Chef Vitaly Paley's new modern Pacific Northwest restaurant. Kimberly Paley's wine list is an A–Z guide to the top Willamette Valley producers. imperialpdx.com

Raven & Rose
A historic carriage house from the 1880s, beautifully renovated, with wood-oven, farmhouse cooking. The wine list includes Abacela and other producers from southern Oregon, an up-and-coming part of the state. ravenandrosepdx.com

Sauvage
An offshoot of the adjacent Fausse Piste urban winery, this tiny oeno-pub serves local game and seafood alongside its small-production, naturally fermented wines. sauvagepdx.com

Related: Fantastic Portland Restaurants
Portland Travel Tips
Chef Jenn Louis's Insider Portland Guide

Wine Wednesday

Ray Isle's Favorite Wines for Lobster

Steamed Lobster with Lemon Thyme Butter

There’s been a fair amount of news about the unexpectedly low price of lobster this summer. Due to warming waters and, apparently, a whole lot of randy lobsters as a result, we are in the midst of a lobster glut. The current wholesale price for the things is about $3 a pound, give or take. While your local restaurant’s so-called “market price” for a lobster may not remotely resemble that number, retail prices are good in fish markets and grocery stores, and in Maine, where I visit every summer, they’re absurdly low.

So what wine goes best with these happily hypnotizable crustaceans? (Seriously: If you stand a lobster on its head with its claws out in front, and stroke its back, it will just balance there, motionless, for quite some time. Excellent party trick.) To get an answer to that question, I stopped by to see Scott Worcester, who runs Sawyer’s Specialties, a bizarrely good wine store in Southwest Harbor, Maine; bizarrely good, because he stocks several hundred terrific wines in a town with only 1,700 people or so.

“With lobsters? I like Chenin,” Worcester said immediately. “Chenin Blanc. Particularly a Chenin that’s a little bit off-dry and has four to five years aging in neutral barrels.”

This is very specific. For those who don’t happen to have an off-dry Chenin Blanc with four to five years aging in neutral oak barrels sitting by their elbow, he also suggested Chenin Blanc in general, as well as Grillo (a white variety from Sicily), and Chignin (an obscure white from France’s Savoy region). The key thing is that none of these suggestions feature new oak. People often suggest big, buttery Chardonnays as a partner for lobster, but in my experience oak and shellfish aren’t friends; if you do go with Chardonnay with your lobster, go oakless. And I’d also suggest Muscadet—as always, it goes brilliantly with anything that comes from the sea.

A few great lobster wines:

2012 The Curator White ($12) A blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Sémillon from the talented South African winemaker Adi Badenhorst, this medium-bodied white has a juicy apple-ginger character.

2011 Feudo Maccari Grillo ($13) This Sicilian white is pineapple-citrusy and impressively crisp; a buy-it-by-the-case summer wine.

2012 Yalumba Unwooded Y Series Chardonnay ($13) From one of southern Australia’s oldest producers, this melony, full-bodied wine retains a lot of zippy freshness.

2011 Domaine de la Fruitière Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie “Petit M” ($13) Though it bears a lengthy name, this white isn’t heavy in the slightest—instead it’s lemony, stony, ebulliently crisp and light in alcohol.

2011 Denis et Didier Berthollier Chignin ($16) Chignin, a tiny subappellation of France’s Savoy region, is the source of this impressive, lemon-creamy white.

2012 Pascal Janvier Coteaux de Loir ($17) From an often-overlooked appellation in the Loire Valley that was once the favorite of King Henri IV (how can you argue with that?), this surprisingly complex Chenin Blanc has a focused, minerally appeal.

Related:
America’s Best Lobster Rolls
Delicious Lobster Recipes
Affordable Summer White Wines

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Run with chefs and wine experts in the Celebrity Chef 5K and dance all night at Gail Simmons’ Last Bite Dessert Party during the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.