This New Year I’ve decided to go with a more expansive top 10 list that I hope will inform your wine and travel aspirations in the year ahead. Cheers, and happy New Year!
The climate and soil in Paso Robles are very suitable for vineyards. The soil is rich, porous, and holds water. The days are hot and the nights cool. All these factors, make it ideal for growing grapes. The grapes are allowed to reach full maturity while still retaining crisp acidity. Paso Robles is home to 11 different viticultural areas or districts over approximately 614,000 acres. I’m going to take you to three of these districts on our tour.
Wind rustled through the garden. Soft from afar, then flapping quickly like a rain stick or a far off waterfall as it met the bowed green branches of the tree that hung over a path between bushes over which vines crawled up the arbor, the open door to the vineyard beyond. We're sitting in the garden of Vingården i Klagshamn, Skåne County, in the south of Sweden.
We're turning into Greenhill Winery & Vineyards in the town of Middleburg. You'd be forgiven thinking that it is larger than it is when driving up. They've done a splendid job of creating something that is both expansive and personal: farm houses spread across acres, stately and stone walled next to the pond yet intimate in their myriad little tasting rooms, open fields, open skies stretching out to the thick tree line along the opposite side of the vineyard.
Anyway, getting back to the point of this post, the reason that we were at Slate was for the #roseallday tasting, and National Rose Day (the second Saturday of every June) happens to be today. So it seems like as good a time as any to tell you about some of the wines we tasted at Slate that night. This year’s tasting line-up was pretty solid, and I would recommend any of them as options for you to drink today or any day! There were two flights - one American and one European, so naturally we had to try both.
It's great when my fondness for wine and getting the most out of my spending come together in novel ways. Consider the "Seated" app. Though it has been floating around the app universe for a bit, it was not top of my mind until last week when I used it for the first time. The general premise is that you use Seated to make reservations at any number of great restaurants, and are rewarded with gift card credit to Amazon and Lyft. Consider it a sort of universal point earning opportunity that is available across a range of establishments.
In contemplating how to make a truly global experience out of today's annual National Wine Day, we decided to ask several of our wine writing friends to tell us about their favorite of the world's wine regions. We left the question open ended to be as specific (Santa Barbara's Ballard Canyon AVA) or as wide open (several regions scattered about New Zealand), and loved what we found.
It's been a strange stretch, with a bizarre itinerary that found me flying to Dallas and San Francisco in order to get from Washington, DC to Boston, a jaunt through Connecticut, Rhode Island, and back to Massachusetts, and -- now -- down to about sixty hours before I head to New York en route to London, Stockholm, and Copenhagen.
In the usual immersive ambiance of candlelight refracting through wine glasses as if a thousand diamonds had been scattered on the table, our friends at Joselito -- a Washington, DC restaurant that I once described as being from "a bygone world both elegant and intimate" -- recently reconnected us with the delightful wines of Bodegas Arrayán from Spain's Méntrida region.
Last weekend we made an annual pilgrimage to the actual cellar of Delaplane Cellars, an extraordinary Virginia winery that we've recommended before. There we loved -- once again -- a tasting that has become something of a ritual first day of the springtime wine tasting season for us, drawing winemaker Jim Dolphin's latest creations direct from the barrels wherein they have spent the last months aging. And so it is, in our minds at least, that the finest time of year for exploring stunning Virginia wine country is upon us. Indeed, the Commonwealth's wines are our Best of April.
Something wonderful is happening. As a new generation of oenophiles makes wine and cities -- two of the world's oldest institutions -- their own, the two are blending in both ways and places most unexpected.Wineries, wine bars, and restaurants with excellent glass and bottle lists are often reflective of the local culture surrounding them, and -- when such regions exist -- of the wine made in the countryside beyond the next mountain. I can think of few other ways to connect more deeply and learn more thoroughly about a place than to do so in the company one keeps with a glass of wine in hand.
Six weeks pass between the seventeenth of February and the thirtieth of March each year, immovable as the moon and the stars and every other rhythm of the calendar. Both days come and go, irrelevant to most, but between them an entire season for those of us making good on a promise we once made to choose happiness from sadness, hope from despair, intellectual curiosity from backwardness, the thrill of the run from the sameness of the sedentary.
We spent last week's first day of spring, whilst snow fell here at home in Virginia, contemplating which wines we'd recommend to everyone in the northern hemisphere's seasonal regions as we transition into (perhaps slightly) warmer weather. Spring and autumn are the conundrum seasons for those of us whose tastes hew fairly reliably to thirst for reds in winter and whites in summer. So in this our Best Wines of March we recommend you look into a white, a rosé, and a red that we find pretty reliable in confused temperatures.
I make no secret of my love for cities, and less secret still of my particular love for the capital of Spain. I always seem to return to the first European city with which I fell in love on a visit years ago with my grandparents. Though I've written here and there about the city before, I've recently found myself responding by email to several friends seeking advice for their time there. Thus, this Wine:Thirty Flight Guide to Madrid is born.
Eyes closed, this warm breeze is unlike any of you've ever experienced in lands where wine is made. Tropical, wrapping you up inside of that very distinct sense of what standing in the middle of the ocean feels like. It is, yet, not what truly thrills the senses here. Open your eyes to the horizon, where the bluest of skies meets the black, pockmarked, grey stoned earth as if we had colonized the moon, and this was our vineyard there.
February 18 is National Drink Wine Day, dubbed "Global Drink Wine Day" by our friend Casey at Travelling Corkscrew in Australia. Hers is branding we can get behind. We'll be drinking wine in Madrid, Spain the day of (this Sunday), and in further celebration of this as a global event, we've decided to take a look at wines from countries that are a bit off the beaten path for the typical wine drinker. Romania, Slovenia, Armenia, Bulgaria, and Croatia each get a look here.
I used to dread Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Now it has become one of my favorite layovers on the east coast. Yes, you read that right... I am actually enjoying my connections at PHL thanks to last autumn's opening of the American Express Centurion Lounge in Terminal A. Its combination of bright modern spaces, excellent cuisine designed by local-Philadelphia award winning Israeli Chef Michael Solomonov, thoughtful wine and cocktail lists, and always warm hospitality makes it one of my favorite airport lounge experiences in the United States.
Ask anyone who has ever put proverbial pen to paper writing about wine here, and you'll be vociferously encouraged to drink more Champagne. It's celebratory, to be sure, but it's also quite well suited to adding texture before, during or after a meal, or to drink on its own. We're celebrating Wine:Thirty Flight's third Valentine's Day with our best wines of February - five bottles of Champagne to pop open with the love of your life, or whoever you find yourself sipping with this fourteenth of February.
Enter through a quietly cloistered courtyard whose cobblestones reflect the light that shines from above, through arches and columns both stately, yet sooted by time. A soft bronze glow of filament bulbs and candles gently twinkling through the phalanx of glasses and bottles cast merry shadows on the vaulted walls of a place that one might think dilapidated if you didn't know it was a wine cellar. We're inside of Vinarna Bokovka, an absolutely exquisite wine bar we discovered in the heart of Prague, capital of the Czech Republic.
"Wine is made great by its ability to expose the curious drinker to different things that he or she didn't know existed, to take us to other lands and climates, to teach us history, and to enrich our knowledge of the world." I wrote those words last April, and they are as plain a confession of my love for wine as any I can dream up nine months later. Let me tell you a story.
On the heels of our piece last month -- Like a string of Christmas lights, our top December wine recommendations are all sparkling -- we've decided to focus our monthly wine tasting on a theme with some recommendations, rather than the other way around. Our hunch is that focusing on themes will be more useful than focusing on specific bottles that may or may not be available in your local market. For January, we ask, which wines are best to drink when the weather is cold?
Earlier this week we shared our 2017 Best Nine, the nine most liked photos from @wine30flight on Instagram in 2017, but we were interested that many of our favorites weren't actually the ones that had attracted the most likes. In fact, only a single photo -- from Vinarna Bokovka wine bar in Prague -- overlapped. No matter. This #ThrowbackThursday we're sharing our picks for Best Nine. They took us to Sweden, Hungary, Czechia, Spain, Massachusetts, and Washington, DC. Each tells a different story.
We're bidding adieu to the past year with our 2017 Best Nine, that is, the nine most liked photos from @wine30flight on Instagram in 2017 (follow us!). Our Best Nine took us abroad to Portugal, Spain, Czechia, and around the United States to Massachusetts, Texas, Tennessee, and home to Arlington, Virginia. Each tells a different story in wine. Read for yourself.
We conceptualize our favorite wines in three dimensions, asking ourselves which bottles we'd characterize as having a special blend of being powerfully good, telling a richly compelling story, and transporting us (and you) to interesting places. So it is that as we look back on 2017 -- or any year -- we're thinking about our top 10 bottles a bit differently than simply making a list of the ten conventionally highest point earners we reviewed this year. Rather, we're sharing the ten bottles that most dominated our wine consciousness, that kept us talking and remembering every peculiar scent and taste, and that opened our eyes to histories and landscapes we may have not previously known.
Wine makes a great gift during the winter holidays, or for birthdays and special occasions year round. It has the advantage of being easily getable yet also encompassing a lot of diversity to satisfy the eclectic tastes of both the gift giver and recipient. But it's not as easy to give a good gift as it is to find just any bottle; too run of the mill and you come off as unthoughtful, but too exotic takes you into risky territory. These five tips will help.
Casual wine drinkers, aficionados, and beginners alike: Each month we expose you to new things, educating and diversifying your palate with a lineup of our monthly wine picks. The occasion thirsts for an all-sparkling lineup to celebrate the holidays. If you find yourself hard up for some red wine options, though, do check out last month's wine list, where we recommended three outstanding bottles to serve with your Thanksgiving, err, December holiday dinner.
Two trends are on our mind as we share our top holiday gift picks for travelers and wine lovers. First are the new airline-imposed bans on smart luggage -- suitcases featuring non-removable batteries, plugs, GPS tracking, bluetooth, or motors (yes, there is actually a motorized suitcase you can ride) -- that have us thinking "Wow, we're happy we never jumped on that bandwagon". The second is more philosophical: Travel makes me a minimalist. If I don't need it on the road, I probably don't need it at all.
One of the world's truly sublime red wines -- lighter red and dominated by notes of pepper, smoke, earth, and red stone fruit -- Cabernet Franc, a genetic parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, occupies of a place of intrigue throughout the world. It is often regarded as a blending partner to other varietals, such as in Bordeaux, where it holds esteem as one of that region's principal varietals. Meanwhile, it reigns on high in Virginia, producing some of that region's most stunning mono-varietal red wines. Today, the fourth of December, we join a growing group of winemakers, aficionados, writers, and fans in celebrating Cabernet Franc Day.