#141-143: Fine Wines of the World Issue

  • Notebook: 'Moscato Mania' Takes Hold On-Premise
  • Brief Conversations with New Master Sommeliers
  • Special Report: Spain's Ribera del Duero — A Great Red Wine Region in the Spotlight
  • Focus on Soave: Its Future Depends on Quality
  • 820 Wines Recommended


Below is a summary of Restaurant Wine issue #141-143, published in Jan-June 2012. This issue is available for purchase online by clicking “Add to Cart” below.

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Featured in This Issue

Notebook: ‘Moscato Mania’ Takes Hold On-Premise

Muscat is one of the wine world’s oldest families of winegrapes, and has been used in winemaking for thousands of years. Yet, suddenly, one style of Muscat — called Moscato — has piqued the interest of wine drinkers, novices and regular alike, and is boosting on-premise wine sales.

Brief Conversations with New Master Sommeliers

We profile six men who passed the Master Sommelier diploma examination in August 2011. It is a colorful group of professionals who hold a range of wine-related jobs, from sommelier to restaurant entrepreneur, and from wine retailer to Italian wine representative. Their thoughts and opinions make for interesting reading.

Special Report: Spain’s Ribera del Duero — A Great Red Wine Region in the Spotlight

During the past four decades, Ribera del Duero has seen a significant investment in its vineyards and wineries, and now is producing a rising percentage of Spain’s best red wines. We outline key elements in its success, and recommend 71 red wines from here, which span: the price spectrum (from $96/case to $3600/case wholesale); vintages from 1998 to 2010; and producers from Aalto to Vega Sicilia.

Focus on Soave: Its Future Depends on Quality

Once synonymous with Italian white wine (in the US market, at any rate), Soave became a victim of its own success. But in the past decade, more of its producers are pursuing the ‘quality path’ — and its wines are better than ever. Here we recommend 30 wines from vintages 2008-2010, from a range of producers, only two of them priced more than $200/case wholesale.

Wine Recommendations

An enormous selection of recommended wines: 820 out of 3,000+ tasted, all representing very good to exceptional value for money.

From the USA, we recommend dozens of first-rate white wines (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris), including the best Chardonnays we have tasted from this leading, veteran vintner and top quality Sauvignon Blancs in a range of styles. Among reds, we have found many 2008 and 2009 Cabernet Sauvignons (and blends) to cheer about — some of them from wineries who are now producing their finest wines yet. Merlot continues to shine as a West Coast varietal, and we are pleased to recommend several outstanding ones from both California and Washington state. We have also uncovered several wonderful, reasonably priced Syrahs, Zinfandels, Petite Sirahs, and red blends, most of them under $200/case wholesale, as well as a California vintner producing (among other wines) outstanding Aglianico and Touriga (Nacional).

In this issue, we devote considerable space to imported wines. Argentina kicks it off, with 38 wonderful wines, 36 of them under $240/case wholesale. The selection of high quality, moderately priced varietals (and blends) from Argentina has never been higher… From Australia, we suggest wines from moderately priced producers from Victoria and South Australia, as well as top wines from this leading Western Australia estate… Chile is also represented, with 18 excellent wine values, including three wonderful Gran Reservas from this fine producer…

From France, we suggest several excellent Champagnes, and a group of outstanding white, rose, and red wines from the Rhone Valley… The 2010 vintage in many parts of Europe was a difficult one. In Germany, despite problems with rain and ignoble rot, many leading vintners nevertheless made very good — even outstanding wines. We recommend 76 of our favorite ones, from producers primarily in the Rheingau and Mosel, but also from Rheinhessen, Pfalz, and Baden… Germany’s Pinot Noir reputation is in the ascendancy; reviews of the very best we have tasted appear in these pages.

Italy’s vinous wealth is well-documented. We are pleased to recommend 114 of them (47 white, 67 red). The wines, which include some of Italy’s greatest — and best-known producers — range from Piedmont to Sicily, and from Apulia to Trentino, offering taste discoveries for every palate… New Zealand makes an appearance here as well, and includes one outstanding Sauvignon Blanc that sells for $96/case wholesale… And South Africa, too: 67 fine wines, in a broad range of styles and at multiple price points, including wonderful Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs, Chenin Blancs, Pinotages, Cabernet Sauvignons, Shirazs, and Merlot!

Lastly, Spain: in addition to our extensive coverage of the reds of Ribera del Duero (71 wines), we also recommend 2 excellent sparkling wines, 6 fine whites (including the greatest Spanish white wine we’ve tasted), two roses, and 17 reds (from Penedes to Rioja to the Duero).