Wine and Epicurean

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Articles about Wine

The Man Behind Spain's Mythic Vega Sicilia


Wine Spectator June 30, 2017

By Robert Camuto 

Pablo Álvarez is a patient man.

In 1999, Álvarez discovered that faulty corks had tainted some wines at Bodegas Vega Sicilia, the iconic Spanish winery his family purchased in 1982. He recalled the wine, at a cost of millions of euros, and then began planting cork trees on the property. They now cover 75 acres; decades from now, they may supply corks for the estate's wine.

Allegrini's Sibling Success


Cover Story Wine Spectator April 31, 2017

By Robert Camuto 

In 1983, the future of the Allegrini family wine company looked dim. The untimely death of patriarch and winemaker Giovanni Allegrini at 63 left his children searching for direction.

"We were desperate, because we were young and we didn't have the business in our grasp," recalls Marilisa Allegrini, Giovanni's only daughter. Then 28, Marilisa worked in administration and sales for the winery. Her older brother, Walter, 34, tended the vineyards, while younger brother Franco, 26, was Giovanni's apprentice in the cellars.

Two from Tuscany in the Wine Spectator Oct. 31 issue


Read my two recent stories from Tuscany in the Oct. 31 Wine Spectator: 



Lodovico Antinori made the self-confessed "biggest mistake" of his life selling his renowned Tenuta dell'Ornellaia to Robert Mondavi Winery in 2002. Now he's mounting a comeback with Tenuta di Biserno, switching his focus from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to stunning expressions of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot from the Tuscan coast...Read the full story in the Wine Spectator



Andrea Franchetti, who hails from a long line of Italian eccentrics, stumbled on an abandoned corner of The Val d'Orcia and turned it into a stell producer of Cabernet Franc. More than 15 years ago, he tripped on Sicily's Mount Etna....Read the full story in the Wine Spectator

Sting and Trudie's Tuscan Adventure


By Robert Camuto -- Wine Spectator April 30, 2016

In the countryside southeast of Florence, Italy, winemakers and other locals gather for an aperitivo on a gorgeous midsummer evening. Wine flows and fresh pizzas emerge from a wood-fired oven as the sun sets behind the Chianti hills.

A trim, bearded Englishman wearing jeans and a T-shirt, who has been mingling in the crowd, mounts the tiny stage with an acoustic guitar. He launches into a solo version of the Police's 1983 chart-topping hit "Every Breath You Take."

The crowd is galvanized by the familiar voice and the energetic reinterpretation of a classic song. For the man is none other than the song's creator.

At 64, Sting, the legendary Police frontman turned solo performer, has accumulated 16 Grammy awards and still fills arenas around the world. But the artist and his wife, Trudie Styler, are taking a break from a European tour to unwind at Il Palagio, the Tuscan estate they purchased in 1997.

Roussillon Rising


Discovering the power and finesse of France's Catalan terroirs

by Robert Camuto -- Wine Spectator Nov. 30, 2015

Fifteen years ago, the Roussillon wine region, on France's Mediterranean flank near Spain, was a backwater. Today, more and more winemakers see Roussillon as France's next big thing. The area boasts terroirs that are often compared to those of Priorat, Spain's rising star some 150 miles to the south

"It's just a question of time," says winemaker Gérard Bertrand, 50, who is part of a wave of newcomers helping to transform this Grenache-rich region of rugged sea and mountain landscapes from a producer of fortified aperitif wines into a bastion of fine dry reds. "There's a rebirth of Roussillon happening now, with modern winegrowing, modern winemaking, a new way of thinking of about terroirs and a will to make high-class wines," explains Bertrand, a southern France native and leading biodynamic producer from neighboring Languedoc who moved to Roussillon in 2003 with a 20-year deal to manage the local Tautavel cooperative's grapegrowing, winemaking and marketing under his namesake label.

From Fossil to Fashion


How the Jura wine scene got trendy

By Robert Camuto -- Wine Spectator Nov. 15, 2015

In France's tiny, quirky Jura wine region, vintners have a happy problem. In recent years, Americans have discovered Jura wines, from crisp Chardonnays and sparklers to light, indigenous reds and Sherry-like vins jaunes. Stateside, Jura wines are fashionable. Yet for most of France, they remain obscure. "I sell more wine in New York than I do in Paris," laughs Stéphane Tissot, a leading producer in one of France's oldest appellations, the Jura's Arbois.

Illy's winning blend


The family behind Italy's famous coffee is on the move 

By Robert Camuto-- Wine Spectator Oct. 31, 2015

Andrea Illy holds a spoonful of dark liquid to his lips and slurps it in one quick shot. A moment later, after a ritual spitting, he notes, "It's the terroir that makes a difference in what is expressed."

Illy, 51, the high-octane president of Illycaffè, is explaining the nuances of coffee aromas and chemistry in the testing laboratory at the company's roasting plant and corporate headquarters in Trieste, Italy. With focused intensity, he examines each of the nine arabica coffee components in Illy's signature single blend.

Local climate and soils, shade from plants, and varying altitudes influence the beans and the final product-from the intense cocoa and slightly bitter flavors of Brazilian arabica to its aromatic Ethiopian counterpart.

"We get more linalool from Costa Rica," Illy says of the natural compound responsible for jasmine aromas, which, he adds, is also used in Chanel No. 5.

Catalan Classic


Heading south of Barcelona for the Costa Dorada's authentic flavors

By Robert Camuto – Wine Spectator  Oct. 15, 2015

Sipping a glass of chilled cava on the sandy coast southwest of Barcelona, or a bold, complex red in the hinterlands of Priorat or Penedès, you're likely to ask, "Why haven't I been here before?"

This vast, varied stretch of Catalonia's Costa Dorada, or "Gold Coast" (Costa Daurada in Catalan), is off the beaten path for most Americans, who often visit Barcelona for a few days before heading off to other parts of Spain or Europe at large.

But this 130-mile stretch along the Mediterranean deserves more attention for its inviting sandy beaches, stunning natural parks, both on the coast and in the mountains, ancient cultural and historic sights, and terrific fresh seafood and Catalan specialties at prices that are a bargain by any standard. Add to these charms the area's proximity to ruggedly compelling inland wine regions such as Priorat and Penedès, and you may start planning your next visit.

Lisbon's New Dawn


The Portuguese Capital emerges as Europe's latest culinary hot spot

By Robert Camuto-- Wine Spectator July 31, 2015

Today Portugal is the stage for one of the world's most dynamic wine scenes—but that's only part of the story. Portuguese terroir is booming beyond vineyards and wine, with other produce and the creativity and modern techniques of a handful of innovators helping to transform the nation's lively capital of Lisbon into an exciting culinary destination.

Lisbon is so naturally positioned to be a gastronomic center, one wonders why it didn't happen sooner. Located at the mouth of the Rio Tejo (Tagus River), on the Atlantic Ocean in southern Portugal, Lisbon was the departure point for 15th-century Portuguese explorers. Portuguese ships returned home with not only gold but also culinary treasures such as potatoes and tomatoes, tea and coffee, coriander and curry.

The France of Plenty

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A gastronomic journey through the Dordogne

By Robert Camuto-- Wine Spectator June 31, 2015

Much has been said about the decline of traditional agricultural France and its once-revered cuisine. But it only takes about a day—and a meal or two—in southwestern France's Dordogne to be convinced that la France profonde is alive and deliciously cooking.

The Dordogne, named for its winding and alluring river, is the modern designation for what was historically called the Périgord. It spans some of France's most evocative countrysides, with dramatically sculpted limestone cliffs, lazy riverscapes, dense forests, rippling vineyards, hundreds of medieval châteaus and some of the world's best-preserved prehistoric cave paintings.

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