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Posted by Michael Franz on October 1, 2014 at 3:25 PM

Wine Review Online Welcomes New Columnist Jim Clarke

I’m pleased to welcome Jim Clarke to the ranks of WRO Wine Columnists.  I’ve known Jim for more than a decade, and have followed his varied career with great interest.  He’s written for us previously as a guest columnist, and has a long list of publications in impressive venues including, World of Fine Wine, The Wine Spectator, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Beverage Media, Star Chefs, and Forbes.com.

Jim studied wine with the American Sommelier Association and worked as sommelier and wine director in New York for several years, initially as the Wine Director of Megu New York, one of the city’s leading high-end Japanese restaurants, with locations in Tribeca and Midtown, and then at Armani Ristorante, inside the clothing company's flagship store on Fifth Avenue.

In September 2013 Jim left the restaurant industry to join Wines of South Africa, where he now works as Marketing Manager.  We abide by high standards of journalistic ethics here at WRO, and consequently Jim won’t be writing about South African wines for us, but his broad experience, insightful writing and keen palate will enable him to illuminate many other dimensions of the wide world of wine.

When I mention “broad experience,” I might also note as an aside that, from 1996 to 2001, Clarke resided overseas in London, Holland and Germany, obtaining his Masters degree at the Royal Academy of Music and pursuing further graduate work in Music Composition.  Early in 2001, Jim ventured back to the States and took up residence in New York City.  During a stint waiting tables at Isabella’s, he was introduced to BR Guest Hospitality’s beverage training program.  It was at Isabella’s that his love for wine ignited.  He was taken under the wing of Master Sommelier Greg Harrington, attending Harrington’s internal “Wine College” and “Advanced Wine College.”  In 2003, Clarke turned toward wine as a career, enrolling with the American Sommelier Association for their 20-week Vinification course and 15-week Blind Tasting Course, successfully completing both.

Look for Jim’s column on white wines from Washington state in this week’s issue, as well as forthcoming columns on a wide range of topics in the months ahead.

--Michael Franz

Chateau Paul Mas, Coteaux du Languedoc AOP (France) Clos de Savignac 2013 ($25)
Paul Mas has emerged in recent years as one of the most quality driven producers in the Languedoc region, which covers a sweeping arc from the border with Spain all the way to the edges of Provence and the Rhone Valley. This GSM blend (55 percent Syrah, 25 percent Mourvedre and 20 percent Grenache) is a brilliant, savory red that expresses the exceptional terroir of this long overlooked region. The best part is that quality has outpaced recognition, so prices have remained modest. This is one of the great steals of the year in high-class red wine from France. Judges at the recent Sommelier Challenge International Wine Competition awarded it a platinum medal and 95 points. 95 Robert Whitley

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
Whither Washington Whites?
Jim Clarke

Many regions receive more attention, in the form of press coverage and high scores, for their red wines than their whites. This seems particularly true for Washington state, despite the fact that the state's production is more-or-less evenly divided between the two. Even some of the state's producers don't seem too excited about white wine; several years ago I asked Master Sommelier Greg Harrington, proprietor of Gramercy Cellars in Walla Walla, for some ideas on white wines to create a Washington whites section for my list at Megu...where I worked as sommelier…and he had no recommendations.
Autumn in a Glass: Musings on a Seasonal Appetite
Marguerite Thomas

Just because fall is in the air, I have no intention of giving up the juicy rosés, the spine-tingling Sauvignon Blancs, and the crisp unoaked Chardonnays that were so cool and refreshing on hot summer evenings. But as the days grow shorter, temperatures cooler, and meals more robust…I am probably going to be a bit more discerning about my wine and be less inclined to lazily toss back a glass of that simple Pinot Blanc I guzzled so thoughtlessly in August. I'll be more likely to seek out a beautifully structured white such as Hanzell Chardonnay, and I'll take time to really notice and savor its special attributes.
Wine With
WINE WITH…Fettuccine with Tomatoes, Fresh Herbs and Goat Cheese

Tomato season is winding down here on the east coast. But our herb garden is still fairly productive, though without the crazy vigor of August. This is the time of year for loading up on tomatoes from the farmers' market and trimming our garden herbs back to encourage a healthy growth spurt for at least a few more weeks. (We hope the inevitable first hard freeze lies in the distant future). Now is the perfect moment to make pasta with fresh, raw tomatoes and a good handful of mixed fresh herbs. A generous dollop of fresh goat cheese contributes voluptuous, creamy texture to the dish, and also adds another bright layer of flavor.
On My Table
Refinement Rather than Power
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

There's something to be said for difficult vintages. The cool 2011 growing season in Napa Valley was challenging for winemakers and growers due to a rainy Spring, a cool summer and late ripening, but it has produced some lovely Cabernet Sauvignons -- provided that, like me, you enjoy Cabernet wines that skew toward elegance. The 2011 Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a fine example of what this vintage produced in the hands of top winemakers. The wine is delicious, complete, and seamless, with all the fresh fruit character that you want, but just a tad less power than is typical.