The Web’s latest wine buzz, 9/24/07

Tune in to what top wine bloggers and experts are decanting into cyberspace with handpicked highlights of their latest and greatest.

“The great wines of the world are expensive and often hard to find,” says Food & Wine. Okay, your first reaction may be, tell us something we didn’t know. This article, however, is well worth a read for what it goes on to say — namely, that it’s possible to find affordable wines that “echo the characteristics of the truly extraordinary.” If, of course, you look hard enough, which is what Ray Isle did for us in his piece aptly entitled Superstars & Super Steals. Nine different pairings are offered — with prices as low as $13 for the affordable-steals class and and as high as $114 for the extraordinaries — for types ranging from Alsace Riesling and white Burgundy to red Bordeaux and Oregon Pinot Noir.

Another penny-pinching reason to drop by Food & Wine is an additional Isle report, this one focusing on an assortment of top Italian wines under $20. Isle wise-crackingly demands our pity for having to taste his way through 187 under-$20 Italian wines. An “exhausting” job, he declares, but eventually admits the assignment was “entirely enjoyable.” Most intriguing of his picks, perhaps, is the 2004 Librandi Cirò Rosso ($10) from the southern Italian region of Calabria. It’s made from the Gaglioppo grape variety, which is obscure virtually everywhere else in the world, Isle observes.

Speaking of penny-pinching, Eric Asimov at The New York Times spotlights a variety of wines that the headline touts as Happiness for $10 or Less. In addition to providing a “Tasting Report: Structure and Personality, With a Small Price Tag” for 10 national and international picks, Asimov serves up some worthwhile insider factoids, such as this interesting peek into restaurant mentality: “The restaurant industry has a longstanding belief that the lowest-priced wine on the list will never sell. Nobody wants to be seen as cheap. But the second-lowest-priced wine, that’s the one people will gobble up.”

There is absolutely nothing cheap about wines produced in the California vineyard sketched by Jay McInerney in House & Garden. This is the story about how the former CEO of Northrop Corporation decided to start a vineyard in what “may qualify as the most unlikely patch of vines in the world.” Or at least the ritziest — the Los Angeles suburb of Bel Air. But make no mistake, Moraga Vineyards is not a rich man’s plaything. We learn that the former sommelier at Alain Ducasse’s three-star restaurant in Paris, Stephane Colling, now the wine director at the Modern in New York, calls Moraga his favorite California winery.

A different winemaker altogether is profiled by Jerry Shriver at USA TODAY: Randall Grahm, who officially calls himself “President for Life” of Bonny Doon Vineyard in Santa Cruz, Calif. “But a more apt title would be ‘Supreme Seeker/Philosopher/Gadfly/Court Jester,’ ” Shriver observes. Now Grahm says he is rethinking his direction, heading into the realm of biodynamics. Grahm’s metamorphosis-in-progress, aka “existential crisis,” is a clicker.

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