(Rutherford, Napa Valley, California) $68

The phrase “iron fist in a velvet glove” was coined long ago as a metaphor for cabernet sauvignons that are counterintuitively (and fascinatingly) both soft and structured, plush and powerful. Like this Rutherford Hill—a wine with a soaring arc of delicious flavor and a finish that fades more slowly than an old French film. Founded in 1972, Rutherford Hill was among the wineries that initiated Napa Valley’s Second Golden Age. Winemaker Marisa Taylor was once the assistant winemaker at Williams Selyem and she has a knack for bringing out an almost pinot noir-like silkiness in cabernet sauvignon. (14.5% abv)

93 points KM

Available at Rutherford Hill

Which of the following wines is a sweet red wine made from grapes that have been intentionally dried to concentrate them?

  • A. Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG
  • B. Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG
  • C. Valpolicella DOC
  • D. All of the above

Scroll down for the answer!


One of the key drivers behind the vast improvement in Oregon wine in the 2000s was the widespread implementation of so-called Dijon clones. The University of Oregon was the first entity in the United States to bring in these clones of pinot noir and chardonnay (clones are genetic subtypes of a variety). Named after Dijon the city in Burgundy where France’s ONIVINS plant materials laboratory is located, the numerous Dijon clones (with exciting names like 115, 667, and 777) are heralded for their complex flavors and ability to ripen fully in cool climates.



A viticultural problem caused by abnormal pollination, millerandage results in differently sized berries within one bunch. (The berries are affectionately known as hens, chicks, pumpkins and peas). Getting the berries to ripen evenly can therefore be difficult. And the yield of the crop is also reduced, although smaller berries can increase the quality of the wine.

“Across Sonoma Mountain, wisps of sea fog are stealing. The afternoon sun smolders in the drowsy sky. I have everything to make me glad I am alive.”

—Jack London, American novelist (1876-1916)

From the Oh No! Files

In the they-must-have-been-looking-at-each-other-through-rosé-colored-glasses department, right after Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie purchased (for $60 million) the 17th century Provençal estate Château Miraval, the rosé sold at a rate of 1000+ bottles an hour for five hours, according to Drinks magazine. Of course, that’s when they were married. Now that they’re splitting, presumably it will take a little longer to sell the just released 2016 vintage (a blend of grenache, syrah, cinsault, and rolle). Still, Hollywood’s famous (former) couple report that they will continue to be vignerons together. (The Château has 35 bedrooms so np). The label on the latest vintage carries the words “Bottled by Pitt, Jolie and Perrin.” (The Perrins of Château de Beaucastel in the Rhône make the wine for them).

B.Recioto is a sweet wine that is made from dried grapes. All of the grapes above—Amarone della Valpolicella, Recioto della Valpolicella, and Valpolicella—are made primarily from corvina, rondinella, and molinara grapes in the Veneto region of northeast Italy. Valpolicella is a table wine made in the normal manner. Amarone and Recioto are made from dried or partially dried grapes (a process known as appassimento). But Amarone is full-bodied dry wine with a high alcohol content, while Recioto is a sweet wine with a high residual sugar content. We know, it’s complicated. Hey, it’s Italian.