WineSpectator.com: News & Features
Italian Authorities Uncover Counterfeit Tignanello Wine Scheme (Wine Spectator)

Italian authorities have arrested three suspects in a scheme to sell at least 11,000 counterfeit bottles of the legendary super Tuscan wine Antinori Toscana Tignanello in Italy, Germany and Belgium. First reported by Italian media, the arrests were confirmed to Wine Spectator by Alessia Antinori, vice president of Marchesi Antinori. She said the bottles were labeled as the 2009, 2010 and 2011 vintages of Tignanello but were filled with low-quality wine.

The Parma Public Prosecutor and the health divisions of Italy's national police in Florence and Cremona uncovered the fraudulent bottles. The police were able to prevent the fake wine from being distributed, and arrested Matteo Fazzi, 31, who remains in jail, as well as his mother, Maria Alessandra Morini, 57, and another man, Sergio Papa, 54, both placed under house arrest. The investigation is ongoing, however, and there are at least six others who are suspected of involvement.

Alessia Antinori says that Marchesi Antinori has begun adding anti-counterfeiting measures to its wines in recent years, including Tignanello, a super Tuscan red made on a small estate in Chianti Classico. "Starting with the 2013 vintage, we put the embossed logo [on the bottle]," she said. "With the 2015 vintage we added the embossed 'Tignanello' name and since 2016 we have been using a small label on the bottles to defend against counterfeiting."


Stay on top of important wine stories with Wine Spectator's free Breaking News Alerts.

Very Good Dogs Sniff Out TCA Taint, Rescue Wine (Wine Spectator)

Cork taint is going to the dogs—literally. Chile-based cooperage TN Coopers has enlisted the help of our furry best friends to track down TCA, TBA (2,4,6-tribromoanisole) and other harmful compounds that make wine unpleasant or even undrinkable, and plans to bring its highly trained team of wet noses and wagging tails to the greater wine world.

Dubbed "the Natinga Project," the program was inspired by airport canine security units. "The underlying principle is that dogs have a much wider olfactory threshold than humans, and thus can detect very small concentrations of specific compounds just by their sense of smell," Guillermo Calderón, the cooperage's marketing manager, told Unfiltered. Except instead of drugs and internationally-smuggled sausages, the Natinga dogs have been trained to search for compounds that create those unmistakable aromas of wet cardboard, damp newspaper or moldy basement that ruin the flavor of wine (for humans, anyway).

Courtesy of TN Coopers
Moro's favorite treat is the knowledge that his work saved wine lovers from purchasing tainted bottles!

While corks get all the condemnation, there are other steps in the winemaking process that are vulnerable to contamination, including barreling. Cooperages have some tech to detect the presence of airborne chemicals, but it's not so easy to find the source of them. That's where the pups come in: "Natinga" translates to “search of origin” in the Zulu language. The project now employs five pollutant-detection experts, otherwise known as Labrador retrievers. Ambrosia, Odysé, Moro, Mamba and Zamba patrol the TN Coopers property near the town of Curacaví in Chile and also provide their services for wineries, with plenty of success stories to boast about, if they could talk.

Take, for example, this story of a winery experiencing problems with TCA (2,4,6-trichloroanisole) at its facility: "After a morning of checking every corner, one of [the dogs] found the source and pinpointed an old hose that was contaminated. The winery removed it and replaced it with a clean one, and we thought that the problem had been solved," Calderón said. But not long after, the winery called again. There was still TCA. "We brought the dogs yet again, and again the dog pinpointed the exact same spot. It was then that we realized that the dog was not only pointing at the hose, but at a very small rubber ring located where the hose was plugged." Once that part was removed and cleaned, the TCA was gone. "The interesting thing is that the dogs were not wrong; it was a human mistake in terms of interpreting what the dog was trying to say," Calderón said. "Their sense of smell is extremely reliable and rarely ever misses."

TN Coopers hopes to bring the four-legged friends and their hyper-sensitive snoots up to California and other parts of the U.S. "We have received a lot of positive feedback from Californian winemakers who come to visit us at the cooperage in Chile," Calderón said. "I can say for now that we are training a new generation of puppies that will be able to carry on with this initiative for many years to come."


Abandoned Historic Church Reborn as Wine Lounge and Restaurant

Mingling with friends and neighbors while jamming out to live music and sipping wine: A party scene at the local watering hole—or church? A new wine lounge coming to Pittsburgh is a bit of both. The soon-to-be Mary's Vine began life in 1903 as the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Rankin, Pa.; the last Mass was held in 2011. But the cavernous vaulted nave and neo-Gothic pointed-arch windows reappeared—on Craigslist, seven years later—and caught the eye of a young Sacramento transplant named Jordan Stasinowsky.

Courtesy of Mary's Vine / Jordan Stasinowsky

Mary's VineMary's VineMary's VineMary's Vine

"The pictures painted a pretty horrid picture of the interior, as the building had been neglected for many years," Stasinowsky told Unfiltered via email. It wouldn't do for a fixer-upper home, but Stasinowsky pitched another idea to his family: They could join him in Pittsburgh, renovate the place and open it up to the community again, as a restaurant and wine lounge.

One year later, the roofing, electrical wiring, plumbing, HVAC and paint have been replaced or redone, and the centerpiece, a two-story, 4,800-bottle, glass-enclosed wine cellar is rising in the chancel area behind where the altar stood. When Mary's Vine opens in April, there will be a list of 300 wines, a kitchen, and live jazz mixed in with some throwback tunes for those looking for that old-time religion. "Yes, the [original] organ will be functional," confirmed Stasinowsky.


Valentine's Day 'Bachelor' Wine Update: TV Singleton Celebrates Rosé, Copes with White

The Bachelor franchises, viewers may be aware, involve a lot of wine schemes. Drinking wine. Throwing wine. Romancing around wine. Romancing a winemaker? And of course, a winemaker, romancing.

Courtesy of 65 Roses
Every day's a rosé ceremony for Colton Underwood.

Current Bachelor and former NFL player Colton Underwood knows the game—this is the show's 23rd season (!), after all. For his charity, the Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation, Underwood teamed up with Denver-based Carboy Winery to launch a new rosé, 65 Roses, to raise money for people living with cystic fibrosis.

"The story surrounding the [wine's name] dates back decades to a young child with cystic fibrosis who, when hearing the name of his disease for the first time, pronounced 'cystic fibrosis' as 'sixty-five roses,'" Underwood told Unfiltered via email. "It's just the right mix of sweet and crisp, yet silky," he said of the wine, which is 91 percent Pinot Gris and 9 percent Moscato.

Though the rose man drinks pink, Unfiltered learned that he's a white-wine guy when it comes to dealing with highly distressing on-camera situations. A recent episode saw Underwood engaging in the time-honored "being sad alone with wine" Bachelor trope, and as he tweeted, "A glass of white wine never hurt anyone … or three." While Underwood told Unfiltered that the foundation hasn't yet determined if they'll be adding more wines to accompany 65 Roses, we predict the next would probably be a nice Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.


Haut-Brion, Juliette Binoche and Haute Couture High Society Party Down, Raise $700K for AIDS Research

Prince Robert of Luxembourg, owner of Bordeaux first-growth Château Haut-Brion and Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winner Le Clarence in Paris, is no stranger to a good time with food and wine. So Robert and his Franco-"American" wine operation teamed up with the fashion world's equally global citizenry to throw a grand “Dîner de la Mode de Sidaction" for a cause—raising money in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon
Pamela Anderson and designer Jean-Paul Gaultier said a few words for the occasion.

Celebrities like Juliette Binoche, Line Renaud, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Monica Bellucci and Pamela Anderson were in attendance at the 17th edition of the fête at the Pavillon d’Armenonville in Paris. They noshed on Le Clarence chef Christophe Pelé's preparations of line-caught sea bass with beetroot gnocchi, foie gras, haddock and citron-caviar. To pair with Pelé's menu, gala-goers drank the 2015 vintage of Domaine Clarence Dillon's Clarendelle range, donated by the Haut-Brion parent company.

For those seeking bigger bottles and grander vins, an auction featured wines donated by Prince Robert: a magnum of Haut-Brion 2001, a magnum of Château La Mission Haut-Brion 2005 and an imperial of Château Quintus 2015. All in, the night, organized in partnership with the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, brought in some $733,000.


Grand Cru Road Trip and Jeroboam Jaw-Droppers Entice in Burgundy/Curie Cancer Benefit Auction

Mounir Saouma has earned a reputation as a talented vigneron over the past two decades, establishing Burgundy's Lucien Le Moine and Châteauneuf's Rotem & Mounir Saouma as benchmark houses in regions where that can take hundreds of years. But he's also an ardent advocate for cancer research, and this week, he's united his passions in an epic charity auction to benefit the Institut Curie in Paris—the lab founded by Marie Curie herself.

On the block: a morning ramble through grands crus from Clos de Bèze to Montrachet, with 16 stops to taste along the way and wines from Echézeaux, Clos de Vougeot and Musigny in the mix. Bottles up for grabs—all procured by Saouma directly from the wineries—include a Salmanazar (that's 9 liters) of Lucien Le Moine Romanée-St. Vivant 2007, imperials (6 liters) of 2015 Ornellaia and J.F. Mugnier Nuits-St.-Georges 1er Cru Clos Maréchal Rouge 2008, and Jeroboams of gems like '96 Pétrus, 2007 Cristal and the rare white Margaux Pavillon Blanc 2012.

"Remember why we do this," Saouma told Unfiltered via email. "Fighting with wine against cancer." The bidding has surpassed more than $90,000 so far, but interested players can still submit bids before 4 p.m. Burgundy time on Friday, Feb. 15. Get more details here or by emailing llm@lucienlemoine.com.


Enjoy Unfiltered? The best of Unfiltered's round-up of drinks in pop culture can now be delivered straight to your inbox every other week! Sign up now to receive the Unfiltered e-mail newsletter, featuring the latest scoop on how wine intersects with film, TV, music, sports, politics and more.

John Zimcosky Wins Wine Spectator's 2018 Sweepstakes (Wine Spectator)

John Zimcosky is on a path familiar to many wine lovers, toward a deeper engagement with the people and places that make the wines he loves. As the winner of Wine Spectator's 2018 Top 100 sweepstakes, he can now use the Top 10 Wines of 2017 as roadsigns along the way.

"I love the overall variety of the Top 10," Zimcosky says of his prize. (See the list.) "I've never had a great Gigondas. I am just beginning to explore great Bordeaux; I have a case of Pavie Macquin 2010 but haven't tried it yet. I've only had one wine from Duckhorn, and not the Three Palms Merlot. That's the one I'm most excited about," referring to Wine Spectator's 2017 Wine of the Year.

The Chicago-based options trader, 33, began his exploration of wine when his former boss encouraged him to visit Napa Valley. "It was six or seven years ago," he recalls. "My wife, Laura, and I were dating at the time. Then in 2014 we got married there, at Brix restaurant in Yountville."

The couple have approached wine from multiple angles. They've visited Napa Valley on several occasions, where they joined a number of winery wine clubs, and have made trips to Sonoma, Oregon and Tuscany. John has explored the auction market through Hart Davis Hart. They've accumulated about 300 bottles so far.

"Wine is something that's interesting and fun to learn about," he says. "I'm curious about ageable whites. I think that's an area that's overlooked. My main focus now is Oregon Pinots and Chardonnays. They offer value, and I think it's an exciting time to be involved with the Willamette Valley."

"Mostly, I like to collect wines that come from places where I have a personal connection. I have to give a shoutout to Henri and Claire Vandendriessche at White Rock Vineyards in Napa. Henri is in his 80s but still working. We've gotten to know the family. The winery was damaged in the 2017 fires, but they're recovering. White Rock has a special place in our hearts."

The couple subscribe to Wine Spectator magazine, and the publication led them to Altesino in Tuscany, where they loved the wines. Though two small children may limit their mobility and budget for the time being, Zimcosky has no thought of leaving the wine roads.

"I guess it's evolved into a bit of an obsession," he admits. "I wish we lived in wine country. I think Oregon is a great place. But for now, we'll just keep learning and enjoy the journey."

Restaurants Offering the Finest Spanish Wines (Wine Spectator)

Updated: Feb. 14, 2019

From Andalusia to Rioja, Spain abounds with wines of outstanding quality, value and food-pairing versatility. And Americans have never before had such access to the diversity of Spain's many distinctive wines. These 12 restaurants from around the United States make their Spanish wine selections a focal point. To check out more great wine dining spots across the globe, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,500 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 91 Grand Award recipients holding our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!


Barcelona Wine Bar

240 N. Highland Ave., N.E., Atlanta, Ga.
Telephone (404) 589-1010
Website www.barcelonawinebar.com
Open Dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Jeff Herr
Decompress and people-watch with Spanish wine and small plates at Barcelona Wine Bar.

In Atlanta’s Inman Park neighborhood, Best of Award of Excellence winner Barcelona Wine Bar offers a taste of the Mediterranean. The Atlanta outpost is one of 14 Restaurant Award–winning locations across the country, with a moderately priced, 460-selection program led by wine director Emily Nevin that offers plenty in the way of Spanish and South American bottles. Chef James Burge’s menu of tapas, charcuterie and cheese is ideal for mixing, matching and sharing, and includes creative plates such as carrot hummus, veal osso buco with cashew pesto, spicy eggplant caponata and chorizo with sweet-and-sour figs.


Casa Juancho

2436 S.W. Eighth St., Miami, Fla.
Telephone (305) 642-2452
Website www.casajuancho.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Casa Juancho
Live Latin music completes the experience at Miami’s Casa Juancho.

Tucked away in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, Casa Juancho will transport you to Spain. A Best of Award of Excellence winner since 1996, Casa Juancho boasts a 450-selection wine list abundant in Spanish reds and California Cabernets. Chef Alfonso Perez’s menu focuses on seafood sourced from Spain and south Florida, as well as a variety of traditional Spanish tapas, paella and prime beef. Adding to the ambiance, live Latin music and Spanish flamenco are performed every night.


Casa Mono

52 Irving Place, New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 253-2773
Website www.casamononyc.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Kelly Campbell
Among the tapas at Casa Mono is the duck egg with mojama and black truffles.

For a first-rate Spanish wine experience in Manhattan, head to Casa Mono from B & B Hospitality Group, tucked between Union Square and Gramercy Park on peaceful Irving Place. There, the menu from chefs Adrian Pineda and Andy Nusser focuses on tapas, seafood and whole animals butchered in-house. The 500-selection, Best of Award of Excellence–winning list, led by wine director Rachel Merriam, offers enormous depth in Spanish wines, including verticals of Vega Sicilia Unico back to the 1960s, Álvaro Palacios L’Ermita back to the late 1990s and five vintages of R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Gran Reserva. Rare wines are also available via Coravin in 3- and 6-ounce pours.


Columbia Restaurant

2117 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa, Fla.
Telephone (813) 248-4961
Website www.columbiarestaurant.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Columbia Restaurant
Richard Gonzmart is a fourth-generation family member and owner of Tampa's historic Columbia Restaurant.

In Tampa’s historic Ybor City neighborhood, on its vibrant main street, the family-owned Columbia Restaurant has been in business more than a century. What began as a small café known for its Cuban sandwiches and coffee has transformed into a Best of Award of Excellence–winning restaurant. The wine list, designed by wine director Jim Garris, boasts 1,000 selections, with strengths in Spanish and Californian bottles, while chef Geraldo Bayona’s menu includes plenty of tapas, grilled seafood, roasted meats and paella. Guests can still opt to try the restaurant’s signature Cuban sandwich, made from the original 1915 recipe. From Monday to Saturday, the restaurant offers two flamenco shows per evening, as well as jazz shows Tuesday though Saturday.


Del Mar

791 Wharf St. S.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 525-1402
Website www.delmardc.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Del Mar
Del Mar’s menu draws inspiration from the coasts of Spain.

D.C.-based restaurateurs Fabio and Maria Trabocchi are known for their renowned Italian concepts such as Best of Award of Excellence winners Fiola and Fiola Mare. At Del Mar, the couple tackles Spanish cuisine, offering a wine program with the same focus. Managed by Casper Rice, the 625-selection list covers a wide range of regions, from Rioja to the Canary Islands, with maps preceding each section. Del Mar’s wine collection includes 17 dry Sherries, which are listed with descriptions of their styles and suggested food pairings to help guide guests. The program complements chef Alex Rosser’s seafood-centric menu of tapas and other Spanish specialties.


El Meson

2425 University Blvd., Houston, Texas
Telephone (713) 522-9306
Website www.elmeson.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

El Meson
The Cuba-born chef at El Meson serves an authentic menu of Latin specialties.

Near Houston’s Rice University in the Rice Village shopping district, El Meson has been serving its signature Latin cuisine for more than three decades. Chef Pedro Angel Garcia’s menu blends Spanish and Cuban influences, offering a variety of grilled and roasted meats, seafood and tapas such as piquillo peppers stuffed with lamb, raisins and pine nuts, seared foie gras with caramelized apple and pear, and bacon-wrapped dates with Riojano sausage and blue cheese. Earning Restaurant Awards since 1999, the 550-selection list is strongest in Spanish selections. It’s overseen by Pedro’s daughter, Jessica Elaine Garcia.


Julian Serrano

Aria Resort & Casino, 3730 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, Nev.
Telephone (877) 230-2742
Website www.arialasvegas.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

MGM/Mirage
Chef Julian Serrano's eponymous restaurant at the Aria Resort & Casino provides a taste of Spain in Vegas.

At Julian Serrano at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Spanish small plates take center stage. The acclaimed chef’s menu includes mouthwatering bites such as sautéed Padrón peppers with orange glaze, seared scallop skewers and foie gras with white chocolate bread. For large groups, tableside family-size dishes are available, including a 9-pound whole crispy roasted suckling pig served with seasonal vegetables. The meal isn’t complete without a pairing or two from wine director William Moss’ 410-selection list, which holds a Best of Award of Excellence for its emphasis on wines from Spain, France and California.


Taberna de Haro

999 Beacon St., Brookline, Mass.
Telephone (617) 277-8272
Website www.tabernaboston.com
OpenDinner, Monday to Saturday
Best of Award of Excellence

Taberna de Haro
An extensive Sherry selection awaits at Taberna de Haro.

Just a short walk from the Charles River and Boston University in Brookline, you’ll find Taberna de Haro, modeled after the tabernas of Madrid. The menu includes a variety of tapas and large plates, focusing on meats and seafood, with dishes such as squid ink and cuttlefish paella, grilled lamb chops with garlic-vinegar fries, and spiced pork skewers. The Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list is overseen by owner, chef and wine director Deborah Hansen; of the 320 selections offered, more than 80 are Sherry.


Barcelona Restaurant and Bar

263 E. Whittier St., Columbus, Ohio
Telephone (614) 443-3699
Website www.barcelonacolumbus.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

Barcelona Restaurant and Bar
Opt for a table on Barcelona Restaurant and Bar’s outdoor patio to dine surrounded by lush greenery.

In Columbus’ German Village, Barcelona has been earning Restaurant Awards each year since 2005 for its strengths in Spanish and Californian wines. More than 60 of the 235 selections on wine director Tim Hawkins’ moderately priced list are available by the glass, and guests can also select from four types of house-made sangria by the glass and carafe. Chef Julian Menaged’s menu of large and small plates includes dishes such as sautéed mussels, braised beef short ribs with scallops and aioli verde, and pan-roasted red fish with wild rice pilaf and coconut-curry cream.


Bocado Tapas Wine Bar

45 Church St., Wellesley, Mass.
Telephone (781) 772-2390
Website www.bocadotapasbar.com/wellesley
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

Scott Erb
Whether you opt for Spanish wine, Sherry or sangria, a meal at Bocado Tapas Wine Bar is reason enough for celebration.

Seeking great food and wine in Wellesley? Head to Bocado Tapas Wine Bar. Wine director Cassandra Carruth manages the restaurant’s 130-selection list, which holds an Award of Excellence for its strength in Spanish bottles; 20 Sherries are available, as well as several house-blended sangrias. Choose from diverse tapas dishes on chef Steve Champagne’s menu, including seared foie gras, grilled lamb chops and tortilla Española.


Clay

553 Manhattan Ave., New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 729-1850
Website www.claynyc.com
Open Dinner, Tuesday to Sunday
Award of Excellence

Jason Greenspan
Clay’s airy space sets the stage for farm-driven American cuisine.

Clay delivers a polished yet unpretentious dining experience in the heart of Harlem. Chef Gustavo Lopez sources ingredients from small farms across New York and Pennsylvania to create seasonal dishes like grass-fed steak tartare and confit duck leg with butternut squash and Concord grape gastrique. Wine director Gabriela Davogustto relies on close relationships with distributors to secure the many limited-release wines on her 225-label list. While the international wine program stands out in Italy and France, Spain is its strongest region. Names such as Bodegas y Viñedos Raúl Péréz and Cesar Marquez y Raul Pérez are well-represented, in addition to smaller producers like Casa Aurora.


Jaleo

480 Seventh St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 628-7949
Website www.jaleo.com/dc
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

Greg Powers
Jaleo is set in a prime location in Washington, D.C., just blocks from the National Mall.

Opened in 1993, Jaleo is where celebrity chef José Andrés kicked off his career in D.C.’s culinary scene. The concept now has four Award of Excellence–winning outposts, with plans to expand in Dubai and Orlando, Fla. Its flagship location boasts 230 selections on the exclusively Spanish wine list, overseen by wine director Andy Myers. Chef Andrés’ tapas menu ranges from classics like patatas bravas to more inventive dishes such as salmon tartare in a trout-roe cone and a spinach fritter with apple-mustard aioli.


Keep up with the latest restaurant news from our award winners: Subscribe to our free Private Guide to Dining newsletter, and follow us on Twitter at @WSRestoAwards and Instagram at @WSRestaurantAwards.

Restaurant Spotlight: Settlers Tavern (Wine Spectator)

In Australia’s Margaret River wine region, Settlers Tavern is a bustling bistro, music venue and microbrewery. The restaurant's diverse live music performances attract a crowd, but the main draw for wine lovers is the Wine Spectator Best of Award Excellence–winning wine program. The 600-selection list excels in France but keeps the spotlight on Australia, offering sparklers, reds and whites from around the country with an emphasis on the surrounding region. Wine director Karen Gough makes frequent changes to the extensive by-the-glass program, always including a couple of high-end examples of local Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay to showcase Margaret River’s strengths. On chef Rob Gough’s produce-driven menu, you’ll find everything from small bites like Korean fries and bruschetta to barbecue, burgers and international regional specialties. Using local ingredients is a big priority for the restaurant, which lists sources on the back of the menu. With a serious wine program and a fun, friendly atmosphere, Settlers Tavern is a destination for excellent wines without the fuss.

Turning Tables: Exciting New Restaurant Opens in Miami's Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove (Wine Spectator)

LDV Hospitality Debuts Isabelle's in Miami's Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove

LDV Hospitality, the group behind Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners Scarpetta and American Cut Steakhouse, opened a new restaurant in Miami's Ritz-Carlton Hotel Coconut Grove, next to their Commodore bar. Isabelle's Grill Room & Garden serves a wide range of dishes, from raw-bar starters and salads to steaks and main courses such as lobster pappardelle and grilled jumbo prawns.

To reflect the menu's diversity, beverage manager Eman Rivani built a well-rounded, international wine list of about 115 selections. The program also emphasizes U.S. wines, including plenty of California Cabernets, as well as less familiar wines like white Malbec and Texan bottlings.

"I wanted to bring in some wines that are very, very unique—I guess you would say 'cool'—without costing a lot of money for our guests," Rivani said. The by-the-glass program offers 18 wines, and guests can create their own flight of any three selections.—J.H.

Dell'anima Reopens in Smaller Format

Noah Devereaux
The Italian fare at the new Dell'anima outpost

Just a few months after closing its doors in New York's West Village, Dell'anima, the Italian restaurant from the team behind Award of Excellence winners Anfora and L'Artusi, reopened in Gotham West Market.

The new concept, scaled down from the former 45-seat restaurant, is a 22-seat chef's counter in the Hell's Kitchen food hall; there are also communal tables where guests can sit and receive full service from Dell'anima staff. "People can really still get an elevated level of service," said managing partner Jacob Cohen.

The 30-selection wine list highlights Italy's Piedmont, Sicily and Tuscany and complements executive chef Andrew Whitney's dishes such as pollo al diavolo and a variety of panini on the lunch menu.—B.G.

Barcelona Wine Bar Comes to North Carolina

Barcelona Wine Bar, the chain that has 14 Best of Award of Excellence winners, opened its 16th location in the historic South End neighborhood of Charlotte, N.C.

"We love being a part of these kinds of special neighborhood-driven communities," said Gretchen Thomas, vice president of beverage for Barcelona Wine Bar's parent company.

Nearly half of the menu's Spanish-style tapas, crafted by executive chef and Charlotte native Nic Daniels, are unique to this location, but "the soul of the wine list is the same," said wine director Emily Nevin-Giannini. The list, consisting of more than 50 by-the-glass selections and nearly 400 by the bottle, will keep the chain's spotlight on Spanish wines, with other global picks from Portugal, South America and beyond. "We aim to have something for every palate and price point," Nevin-Giannini said.—B.G.


Keep up with the latest restaurant news from our award winners: Subscribe to our free Private Guide to Dining newsletter, and follow us on Twitter at WSRestoAwards and on Instagram at wsrestaurantawards.

Is Red Wine Triggering Your Migraines? (Wine Spectator)

Migraines can be debilitatingly painful, and regular sufferers will do almost anything to prevent them, including giving up something they dearly enjoy, such as wine. But should they? New research from the Netherlands' Leiden University Medical Center shows that while many people report alcohol—and red wine in particular—as a trigger for migraines, the relationship between the two isn't so simple.

"Alcoholic beverages have been reported in top 10 trigger factors for migraine," Gisela Terwindt and Gerrit Onderwater, both researchers from the study, told Wine Spectator via email. "We aimed to investigate which particular beverages are frequently reported by patients as triggers for their attacks, and also estimate the triggering consistency and time to attack onset after consumption of these beverages. Furthermore, we wanted to investigate the effect this has in alcohol-consumption behavior in migraine patients."

Using the Leiden University Migraine Neuro-Analysis study population, the researchers conducted surveys of 2,197 Dutch adults, ages 18 to 80, who suffer from migraines and fulfilled the International Classification of Headache Disorders criteria. They asked questions about each patient's drinking habits, whether they believed alcohol was a trigger for migraines, and how often and in what timespan drinking brought on an attack.


Want to learn more about how wine can be part of a healthy lifestyle? Sign up for Wine Spectator's free Wine & Healthy Living e-mail newsletter and get the latest health news, feel-good recipes, wellness tips and more delivered straight to your inbox every other week!


The results, published in the European Journal of Neurology, revealed that roughly 36 percent of the patients did consider alcohol as a migraine trigger. This belief affected many of their decisions around drinking: Among the 650 participants who said they had either stopped drinking or never drank, more than 25 percent said they did so because of alcohol's presumed triggering effects.

Of the 1,547 participants who were drinkers, nearly 45 percent did not report alcohol as a trigger, while roughly 43 percent did. (The remainder were unsure.)

When drinkers who considered alcohol a trigger were asked about a particular alcoholic beverage bringing on a migraine, red wine was mentioned most frequently (77.8 percent of the answers) and vodka least frequently (8.5 percent). Interestingly, though, only 8.8 percent of participants reported getting migraines after drinking red wine 100 percent of the time. "[This implicates that] other factors may also be involved," the researchers wrote. "Therefore suggesting total abstinence should not be a direct consequence taken by patients."

That finding is the primary takeaway of the study: "The association between trigger and attack is a complex one, likely influenced by other internal and external triggers and varying susceptibility," said the researchers. "It can be debated if alcohol is a factual or presumed trigger."

Even among those who do believe alcohol to be a trigger, there is no clear understanding of why. Is it the alcohol itself? Or, considering that so many believe red wine is a leading culprit, is there something in wine specifically?

"We currently do not know which compound(s) might be responsible for the presumed triggering effect, or whether other trigger factors may be in play," said Terwindt and Onderwater. "Testing various factors in an experimental, placebo-controlled fashion, one would be able to specifically investigate this." However, they note, these studies are difficult to carry out, and expensive, too.

Past studies have looked at whether specific compounds in wine, such as histamines or tannins, can trigger migraines, but the results have been inconclusive.

Keeping a record of when migraines occur, and the circumstances under which they are brought on, can lead to a better understanding of one's triggers, but migraine sufferers should continue working with their physician to best cope with the problem.

8 & $20 Recipe: Za’atar Spatchcocked Chicken with Roasted Vegetables (Wine Spectator)

Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.

I love roast chicken. It’s so easy to adapt to any season and occasion. Spatchcocking the chicken before roasting makes it even more versatile by reducing the cooking time to well under an hour—just the right amount of time to also roast a selection of seasonal vegetables. This makes it easy to get an entire dinner out in one pan.

All you need to spatchcock a chicken is a pair of kitchen shears. Removing the backbone butterflies the chicken, allowing it to lay essentially flat so that it cooks more evenly than roasting it whole. It’s easier to do than you might think, but if you feel hesitant, you can ask your butcher to do it. Many grocery stores now also sell pre-spatchcocked, pre-packaged chickens.

I opted to use za’atar (aka zahatar), a Middle Eastern blend of herbs and spices that adds a lot of flavor in one easy move. Earthy and slightly warming, it’s ideal for this time of year.

An assortment of root vegetables completes the meal. I chose a selection of seasonal favorites and tried to keep the prep as quick and easy as possible. My mix included carrots that were moderately thin and small cipollini onions, both of which can be roasted whole, reducing chopping time.

Given the chilly temperatures this time of year, I was craving a red wine to pair with this dinner. To avoid overpowering the light meat, I selected reds with light to moderate tannins: a Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley and a medium-bodied Côtes du Rhône.

The Côtes du Rhône had a mix of red berry and blackberry notes, with a hint of smokiness, black pepper accents and lots of herbal touches. The Pinot Noir showed bright red fruit, with a refreshing beam of acidity and details of spice. Both wines worked really well with the chicken, so the selection came down to how each paired with the vegetables.

With certain bites, the Côtes du Rhône soared; the herbal notes in the wine resonated beautifully with the za’atar spice blend. However, the wine soured just a bit against the sweeter vegetables in the mix. This is a great match if your vegetable selection tends toward the savory side.

Though the Pinot Noir had savory touches, it was more fruit-forward, which worked with all of the vegetables, making it the more consistent match across the board.

Za’atar Spatchcocked Chicken with Roasted Vegetables


Pair with a red with moderate tannins such as Oregon Trails Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2015 (88 points, $20).


Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 40 to 50 minutes, plus 5 to 10 minutes resting time
Total time: 55 to 70 minutes
Approximate food costs: $26

  • One 4 1/2 pound chicken
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature and cut into pieces
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons za’atar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 6 to 8 thyme sprigs
  • 8 slim carrots
  • 8 cipollini onions
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 medium turnips, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice or white wine)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed

1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Lay the cleaned chicken, with innards removed, down on a cutting board with the legs pointing toward you and the breast side down. Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it. Flip the chicken over, breast-side up, and open it up so that it lies flat. Press hard on the center of the breast to crack the sternum and help flatten the chicken further.

2. Tuck the pieces of butter under the skin of the chicken, distributing as evenly as possible. Sprinkle half the za’atar, salt and a generous pinch of pepper on the skin of the chicken, then rub to distribute well. Tuck a few of the thyme sprigs beneath the skin of the chicken as well.

3. Lightly grease a roasting pan. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer in the roasting pan. Drizzle the vegetables with the apple cider vinegar and olive oil, then sprinkle on the remaining za’atar, plus a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to coat well, then place the remaining sprigs of thyme on top.

4. If you have a roasting rack, set it in the pan, then place the chicken on top, breast-side up. If not, simply lay the chicken on top of the vegetables, breast-side up. (You can add the backbone to roast with the rest of the chicken and vegetables, or discard as desired.) Place in the oven and roast for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 F and the skin of the chicken and the vegetables are lightly browned. Halfway through cooking, toss the vegetables and add an additional splash of apple cider vinegar if needed. If parts of the chicken are beginning to brown faster than the rest, tent lightly with foil or parchment paper.

5. Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving. If the vegetables need additional browning, continue cooking them in the oven while the chicken rests. Toss the vegetables in the chicken drippings before placing them on a platter, then arrange the chicken on top. (You can carve the chicken in advance, or serve whole for presentation and carve at the table.) Serve any additional chicken jus on the side. Serves 4.

Foley Family Wines Buys New Zealand's Mt. Difficulty Winery for $35 Million (Wine Spectator)

Bill Foley is expanding his footprint in New Zealand. The owner of Foley Family Wines and the Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey team, has purchased Mt. Difficulty, known for its Pinot Noir and Riesling. The deal includes the Central Otago winery, an onsite restaurant, more than 172 acres of vineyards and Mt. Difficulty's second label, Roaring Meg. The price tag was US$35 million.

Winemaker Matt Dicey’s family has sold its shares, but he will remain in his role.

Foley had been looking for a high-profile winery to add to his six New Zealand brands, which include Grove Mill, Goldwater and Te Kairanga. He was also interested in expanding into Central Otago, one of the country's premier Pinot Noir areas on the South Island, and Mt. Difficulty checked both of those boxes. "It's such an iconic producer in that region and highly regarded," Foley Family Wines president Hugh Reimers told Wine Spectator.

Mt. Difficulty was founded when the owners of five vineyards in Bannockburn, the warmest subregion of Central Otago, decided to produce wine under a single label. The winery is best-known for its Pinot Noir but also produces Riesling, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc from both estate and leased vineyards. The winery produces 80,000 cases of wine a year under both brands.

Foley Family wants to increase sales of Mt. Difficulty's Pinot Noirs in the U.S., including some of its single-vineyard wines. Reimers says the main goal is to make it a global brand, but to grow smartly. "It's all about maintaining the style and quality of the wine that has made this estate famous," said Reimers. They are also planning on expanding the winery restaurant to attract more visitors.


Stay on top of important wine stories with Wine Spectator's free Breaking News Alerts.


The company entered the agreement to purchase Mt. Difficulty in November 2017, but the sale had to be approved by New Zealand's Overseas Investment Office (OIO). (Non-residents and companies with more than 25 percent overseas ownership must receive consent from the OIO to invest in New Zealand's significant business assets.) To raise capital, Foley Family Wines sold shares of its New Zealand division to Japanese beer giant Kirin Holding's Australia-based food-and-beverage subsidiary, Lion.

New Zealand has seen increasing attention from outside investors in recent years, including Foley's own buying spree, which started with purchasing the New Zealand Wine Trust Ltd. in 2009. In 2018, Aotearoa New Zealand Fine Wine Estates, cofounded by wine veteran Steve Smith and U.S.–based wildlife conservationist Brian Sheth, bought Pyramid Valley in North Canterbury. That same year, the owners of Australia's Torbreck winery bought Escarpment in Martinborough.

After working in finance for decades, Bill Foley started a second career in wine when he founded Lincourt in Santa Barbara in 1996. Over the following decades he amassed a wine empire that now includes two dozen wineries in California, Washington, Oregon and New Zealand. Foley Family Wine's total production exceeds 1.3 million cases of wine annually.

Sommelier Roundtable: What's in Your Personal Cellar? (Wine Spectator)

On the job, sommeliers may nudge diners toward certain personal favorites, but ultimately they serve the wines their customers demand. On their own time, in their own cellars, though, they can lay down the wines they love best.

We asked nine wine pros from Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners what's in their personal cellars, and their answers included both the classics and the up-and-comers, from Rhône legends to Aussie Rieslings—to "I just end up drinking it all." Read about these experts' collections, and get some inspiration for your own!


Wine Spectator: What's in your cellar now? What types of wine do you personally collect?


Richard Hanauer, beverage director for Chicago-based RPM Restaurants, including two locations of Best of Award of Excellence winner RPM Italian and RPM Steak

Hermitage—buckets and buckets of Hermitage, red and white. Since my youngest wine-drinking days, I have always been obsessed with “the wines of the hill.” Chave, Chapoutier and Jaboulet are the regular occurrences, but I also have bottlings from smaller wineries and co-ops. When I'm not focusing on my favorite hill during the weekends, I love drinking Australian whites and Loire reds during the week.


Nancy Oakes, chef and co-owner, and John Lancaster, wine director, of Best of Award of Excellence winner Boulevard in San Francisco

Oakes: Right now I’m on a big white Burgundy kick—[and] I picked the wrong time to be on a white Burgundy kick because other people are on it too. I have a whole wall of Cabernets that I rarely touch.

We have a house in Healdsburg, [Calif.], so I also try to collect the wine of my friends up there, so like Radio-Coteau, and I still love Kistler and Rochioli, my direct neighbors.

Lancaster: At home we drink a lot of Loire Valley whites, Sancerre, stuff like that. Like Nancy, I love Burgundy, white and red. I have some Bordeaux in my cellar; when I first started collecting wine I collected Mouton-Rothschild. But mainly my cellar is Northern Rhône, white and red Burgundy, and a little bit of New World stuff.


Lenka Davis, wine director at Award of Excellence winner Barbareño in Santa Barbara, Calif.

After evacuating our house twice last winter, I drank the best bottles with close friends. I don't have a single regret and keep the stock now to bare minimum. After all, I built the wine list in the restaurant I work for around the wines I would like to drink anytime, and have 200-plus choices I can make every night.


Ryan Bailey, wine director at Best of Award of Excellence winner NoMad Los Angeles

My cellar is pretty diverse and consists of stuff I am aging, as well as bottles close at hand to drink when friends come over. I have a solid amount of Champagne, older Rieslings, white Burgundies, younger Northern Rhône Syrahs and some random older bottles from California.


Luciano De Riso, wine director at Best of Award of Excellence winner Grand Old House in George Town, Cayman Islands

I enjoy mature Italian wines—Guado al Tasso, Giusto di Notri and Flaccianello are my favorites. Southern Rhône reds are always present—Pégaü, old Beaucastel—and Cornas from Clape are standouts for me.

I do collect based on important dates. I was born in 1982, and I have a few of them, including Sassicaia and Cheval-Blanc. 2015 is the year that I will invest the most in, as it is my son's birth year. I already have a Duclot case, Sassicaia, a few Rhônes, and Leflaive whites from this great vintage.


Seán Gargano, wine director at Award of Excellence winner The Legal Eagle in Dublin, Ireland

My cellar only holds what I drink on a weekly basis. My big regret is that I did not begin collecting earlier. I used to tend to get impatient and drink most of what I had intended to lay down. Then my children came along, and they suck up all of the money I would use to invest in wine. Little nuisances.


Elizabeth-Rose Mandalou, wine director at Award of Excellence winner Allora in Sacramento, Calif.

My restaurant focuses on Italian wine, so naturally I have a mostly Italian wine at home. I also have a lot of wine that is sentimental; several bottles of Franciacorta I picked up on my last visit to Italy a few months back, gifts from friends and guests, and lots of magnums.

I am an equal-opportunist when it comes to wine, so sometimes there will be something really random; Georgian or Macedonian, just for the sake of trying new wine! I do have a few nice bottles of Rioja and Bordeaux, too. The most unfortunate aspect of my collection at home is that it is shockingly humble considering my line of work.


Carlin Karr, wine director at Best of Award of Excellence winner Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder, Colo.

I like to drink all kinds of wines but always have grower Champagne, Chablis, Grüner Veltliner, Northern Rhône Syrah, Sangiovese, southern French reds and whites from producers like Mas Jullien and Château Simone, Nebbiolo and Bordeaux with age in our wine fridge at home. Those are on my regular playlist. My husband and I also have an off-site cellar where we stash away full cases of more blue-chip Burgundy, Barolo and Rhône producers.


Want to stay up on the latest news and incisive features about the world's best restaurants for wine? Sign up now for our free Private Guide to Dining email newsletter, delivered every other week. Plus, follow us on Twitter at @WSRestoAwards and Instagram at @WSRestaurantAwards.

Feed Fetched by RSS Dog.