The Bernkasteler Lay ("the slate of Bernkastel") vineyard, which Loosen considers the equivalent of a premier cru in Burgundy, is situated on moderately sloping land surrounding the family manor house. The richer soil produces wines with more body than other nearby vineyards. The 2001 Riesling Bernkasteler Lay is pure peaches and cream topped with vanilla.

CHATEAU LYNCH-BAGES PAUILLAC 1999 ($38)


Pauillac is home to some of the most revered names in wine. The villlage itself, which is big enough to warrant being called a town, hugs the left bank of the Gironde, the wide estuary of France's Garronne an Dordogne rivers, which forms the backbone of the Bordeaux region. As elsewhere in Bordeaux, Pauillac gives its name to the surrounding commune and its official appellation. Chateau Lynch-Bages is located just south of the town center, with illustrious neighbors such as Mouton, Lafite, and Latour not far away.

The current seigneur of Lynch-Bages is the personable Jean-Michel Cazes. His practical winemaking wisdom and his almost granular grasp of the local terroir (both here and in St.-Estephe, where he ownes Les Ormes de Pez) never cease to amaze me each time we meet. Although overshadowed by the thrilling 2000s, the 1999 vintage in Pauillac resulted in many delicious wines. The 1999 Lunch-Bages is balanced and long with loads of style, depth, and elegance.

CERETTO BAROLO BRICCO ROCCHE 1998 ($200)


Barolo is arguably Italy's greatest wine, although it sometimes takes a decade of bottle age before these Nebbiolo-based powerhouses show their true colors. Barolo's meticulously maintained vines - like those of its rival village, Barbaresco - create a patchwork quilt draped across steep and tortuous Alpine foothills. Each named hill has unique qualities as a vineyard site, and the road reveals snapshot-worthy vistas at every turn. The village of Barolo itself is small and dominated by a historic castle that houses the regional enotec.