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Wine Blog

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Wine & Adventures with Tom MacDonald

Welcome to an ongoing video series that will combine basics of understanding and appreciating wine with some of the adventures that owner Tom MacDonald finds himself on. Click below to see where Tom is now.

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Webster’s Turns 20! Our cellars are open….

Webster’s Wine Bar opened twenty years ago on a stormy, last night of November in 1994. We had 8 customers, and no idea that Webster’s would go on to become Chicago’s oldest, most award-winning wine bar. For two decades we …

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JQ’s Notes from the Wine Road 1

(with Theirry Puzelat, left; early September 2014) It’s been a long and winding wine road since August, when I left Chicago and Webster’s day-to-day to start a fully international life.  My new role’s developing name has come to be known …

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Jeremy Quinn’s Interview on “I’ll Drink to That!”

Our dear friend and longtime sommelier Jeremy Quinn talks about his journey through the global wine world for the “I’ll Drink to That” podcast, aired on September 16th, 2014 — check it out! https://soundcloud.com/leviopenswine/jeremyquinn

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Yes, it’s true….

  After twenty years, we are packing our things and moving to Logan Square. We will miss our digs on Webster Ave., home to so many amazing memories. Fortunately, we are taking the important things…our team, the wine, our books, …

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2013: The Year in Wine

2013 has been an exciting year! – it well deserves a review of some of the wine-centric travels, art, writing, and tastings whose lasting impressions made an impact on the wine lists at Webster, Bluebird, Reno, and Telegraph: T R …

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California Staff Trip!

California wines have never been more exciting!  Anyone who knows me will be surprised to read that statement, but it was proved to us this September, when I was privileged to spend 9 days on a wine tour of the …

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German Rosé and Fish!

NEWS FLASH (to some): rosés from Germany are some of the finest available in Chicago today! As a bit of a departure from my regular posts, I need to briefly mention the outstanding Pinot Noir/Trollinger 2012 rosé from Rainer Schnaitmann …

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The visceral wines of Gianfranco Manca

“[These are] non-schematic, visceral wines.” -Gianfranco Manca Since 2011, I’ve had the distinct pleasure to offer select wines from Gianfranco Manca’s ‘Panevino’ (‘bread/wine’) Sardegnan estate at Webster.  Every guest and colleague who’s been able to enjoy a bottle has praised …

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An Interview with Mike Weersing

At our sister restaurant in Logan Square, Telegraph, chef John Anderes and I recently featured a three-course Wine Dinner centered around the wines of Mike Weersing at Pyramid Valley, on New Zealand’s south island.  The ‘natural’ character of Mike’s wines …

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Sunlight, Held Together by Water

To me, the most striking, memorable sequence in Dziga Vertov’s film Kino Eye (1924) also happens to be the most explicitly Trotskyite, as the camera traces the production of a simple loaf of bread back to its origins as solar …

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Top 10 ‘Aha!’ Wines of 2012

With more than its share of compelling wines, 2012 richly deserves to debut an annual ‘Top 10’ list! These are not necessarily my ‘most delicious’ wines of the year, or even the ‘best’ (how could one rate that?) – but …

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The Adventure of Aged Wine

{Our staff & clientele recently celebrated Webster’s 18th anniversary with a special feature by the glass from our maiden vintage, a still-lively 1994 Chianti Classico….. Last night, I was impressed with how impeccably a 2001 Grand Cru Pinot Gris from …

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Gems of the Midwest

A few weeks ago, I traveled to the southern Midwest and parts of the northern South to visit – among other locations – Kentucky Bourbon Distillers/Willett Family Distillery (KY), and Capriole Creamery (IN). WHISKEY Johnny Drum, Old Bardstown, Willett Family …

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Sparkling in the Second City

Thanks to a number of separate events in the last week, I’ve had the luxury of tasting 55 extraordinary sparkling wines in close proximity, reminding me that these wines are especially enjoyable in the summer heat, and, as some of …

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2012 German Riesling Travels (3)

RHEINHESSEN/PFALZ There are only 13 wine growing regions in Germany; 1/2 of the country’s entire wine production comes from just 2 of these, the Rheinhessen and the Pfalz.  I had been to the Mosel, Rheingau, and Nahe regions before, and …

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2012 German Riesling Travels (2)

BREUER / LEITZ / VDP WEINBORSE FAIR After leaving Geisenheim, we traveled up to Rudesheim in the Rheingau for a vineyard tour and dual tasting with Tobias Fiebrandt of Weingut Leitz and Teresa Breuer of Weingut Breuer. (our group in …

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2012 German Riesling Travels (1)

To gear up and whet my palate for the annual ‘Summer of Riesling’, spearheaded by Terroir NYC and involving over 200 restaurants around the country, I traveled to Germany the last week of April and first part of May with …

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Arrived: Wines of Corsica!!

Inspired by the sudden advent of summer weather and my trip to Corsica in January 2011 (cf. blogpost from March 2011), I’ve made some special requests from the west coast warehouse of a favorite wine importer who champions the wines …

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Words about Wine

Recently, a spate of very personal new books have been devoted to wine.  As we move into a new year, it’s time to review some of the most relevant. [Reviewed here, pictured above: Reading between the Wines, Terry Theise, © …

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Voyage to Sicily, Pt.2

(A view of the Tyrrhenian Sea from the medieval city of Erice) … the cannoli was great in Palermo, but couldn’t compare with those of Maria Grammatico’s in Erice (we made a special trip to the town to sample them), …

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Voyage to Sicily, Pt.1

(Rossa Siciliana cows and other local breeds in the Nebrodi mountains) Sicily may be the most dynamic region in Italy right now: winemakers and chefs are rediscovering ways to present the island’s rich heritage with traditionally made wines and seasonal …

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An Autumn Cider Tasting

Autumn is a brilliant time to enjoy cider. I believe it’s more comparable to wine than beer for 2 reasons: yeast and terroir. The best ciders are made with indigenous yeasts; apple variety (there are over 300 different ‘cider apples’) …

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Summer of Riesling 2011

Many thanks to Dr. Vino! On a lazy day in early March 2008, I surfed my favorite wine blogs and learned that Paul Greico’s ‘Terroir’ had finally opened in the East Village… I followed their news all that spring, and …

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‘Bridging the Gulf’: Liguria to ‘Loosiana

The above is my subtitle for a terrific wine & food day in Chicago on Wednesday 18 May; I had the good fortune to share a lunch with storied wine importer Neal Rosenthal (noon @ Coco Pazzo, 300 W. Hubbard) …

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MEROIR (an oyster trip to the Hood)

Touring Spain’s Ribera del Duero in 2005 on a hot sunny day, I looked out over a vineyard of Alejandro Fernández’, and was suddenly struck with a clear unified vision, whereby the vine ceased to be a single living thing, …

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‘Freedom Wines v. Industrial Tyrants!’

(AKA, An afternoon with Louis/Dressner Selections, 23 March 2011 @ Branch27 Restaurant, Chicago) … this is not only how the world will look when we break free from the shackles of corporately cosmeticized ‘sweet spot’ over-sulfured/over-oaked factory ‘wine’, but also …

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A visit to Corsica

My recent two-week wine tour of France began in Corsica on 12 January 2011 – I’d been captivated with the island ever since encountering the wines of Antoine Arena (Patrimonio).  Arriving in Corsica’s capital, Ajaccio, from Paris’ chilly, wet Orly …

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Bottle+Plate

Bottle: 2004 Domaine Font de Michelle ‘Cuvée Etienne Gonnet’ Châteauneuf-du-Pape ($95 at Webster’s) Plate: braised Mint Creek Farms (IL) grass-fed Lamb Shank, in veal demi-glaze, with mashed potatoes and baby carrots ($18 at Webster’s) Named for Font de Michelle’s founder, …

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José Who? – Exceptional España

Spain is getting more renowned for its wines by the minute.  As the country with the most land under vine in the world (1.2 million hectares!), it is only befitting that the “Madre Patria” pumps out her fair share of …

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