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January/February 2014
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2012 Red Burgundies

By: Stephen Tanzer

Great natural concentration and small, thick-skinned grapes due to a poor flowering enabled Burgundy's better producers to make monumental wines in 2012.  The vintage yielded soil-inflected wines with a rare combination of aromatic complexity, density of texture, fresh acidity and lush, velvety tannins, but growers had to overcome a host of climatic challenges, including violent hail storms on the Cote de Beaune, to succeed.
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Germany 2012

By: Joel B. Payne

German wine expert Joel Payne reports that 2012 was a cool, late, classic vintage saved by warm, sunny days in September and a "golden" October.  As there was very little botrytis, it's a particularly good year for drier wines--the '12s are more vibrant and austere than the opulent 2011s--and late harvesters managed to achieve full phenolic ripeness at moderate levels of potential alcohol.
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2012 and 2011 Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas and Vacqueyras

By: Josh Raynolds

The 2012 vintage in the southern Rhone Valley yielded many opulent, fully ripe wines with rich tannins and the concentration that comes from a small crop.  According to Josh Raynolds, most of these wines have the balance for drinking now or over the medium term and the best of them are built to age.  Meanwhile, the better examples from the mostly unloved 2011 vintage, sandwiched between the more popular 2009s, 2010s and 2012s, will offer some excellent values--and delightful early drinking--to smart consumers.
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