Fun and Unique “Nighttime” Rosé

Today’s Story: Las Jaras Wines

Las Jaras Wines was founded in 2014 by winemaker Joel Burt and Hollywood comedian/director Eric Wareheim. Joel Burt, a winemaker at Domaine Chandon, was growing tired of making wines in a cookie-cutter, corporate, and mass-produced manner when he met Eric and the two realized they shared a passion for fine wine. The duo started planning their own wine label where they could produce wines in homage of “the old days” (think 1970s Napa) and Las Jaras was born. Joel describes their Cabernet “like a Dunn from the 80s, but way more approachable” and each wine in the portfolio is made largely using similar traditional techniques.

To achieve this style of wine, Joel remains very hands-off throughout the winemaking process. Las Jaras sources their fruit from various old vine vineyards, though most comes from Mendocino County. All fruit is hand-harvested and each variety goes through separate winemaking processes, all being hand-sorted at the crusher. Though each variety is vinified differently to best express that variety’s unique character, the long story short here is that Joel doesn’t add sulfur, the wines ferment with only natural yeasts, and bottling is accomplished with no fining or filtration.

I previously reviewed the 2018 Sweet Berry Wine from Las Jaras.

Today’s Wine: 2020 Superbloom Cuvée Zero Zero

27% Marsanne, 16% Roussanne, 16% Grenache Noir, 14% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache Blanc, 10% Carignan, 7% Picpoul Blanc; 10.9% ABV

The 2020 Superbloom is deep salmon in color with pinkish hues, and it’s slightly hazy. This needed about 30 minutes to open in the glass, as there were some funky aromas that needed to blow off. The aromas are of medium intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of watermelon, grapefruit, white cherry, strawberry, white rose, and saline. Meanwhile the palate displays notes of raspberry, strawberry, candied watermelon, mild white pepper, and stony mineral. This dry rosé is light-bodied with medium (+) acidity, low alcohol, and a medium (-) length finish. Very chuggable and fun but I wish the finish was a bit longer. 1,500 cases produced.

Price: $27. I sought this wine from my local wine shops for quite some time, and am glad to finally find it since I’m a big fan of Joel and Eric. This is a very fun, chuggable, and interesting rosé made from quite the blend of co-fermented varieties, however I think for the price there are better values out there.

A Must-Try to Spice up Your Rosé Game

Today’s Story: Tenuta delle Terre Nere

Tenuta delle Terre Nere is a somewhat young but highly regarded wine estate founded by Marc de Grazia on the northern slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily. The first commercial vintage was in 2002, and the estate focuses on local Sicilian varieties with Nerello Mascalese and Carricante of principal importance. The estate today consists of about 55 hectares, of which 27 hectares are planted to vines in production and 7 hectares are breeding. The holdings are broken up into 24 parcels across six crus and range in elevation from 600 to 1,000 meters above sea level, with an ultimate plan to reach 38 hectares planted to vine. Aside from the 7 hectares recently planted, Terre Nere works with vines aged 50 to 100 years old, and the estate even has one parcel that survived phylloxera and is 130-140 years old!

Marc de Grazia has long been a proponent of single cru Etna wines, so he vinifies, ages, bottles, and labels each of his crus individually. These include Calderara Sottana, San Lorenzo, Bocca d’Orzo, Santo Spirito, Guardiola, and Feudo di Mezzo. All viticulture has been organic since Terre Nere was established (certified in 2010), and the prior owners farmed their vineyards organically for the previous two generations as well. Winemaking is meant to be minimally invasive, allowing de Grazia to showcase the unique Etna terroir in all of his wines.

To learn more, view images of the estate and vineyards, or explore the range of wines from Tenuta delle Terre Nere, I recommend visiting their website here. I also previously reviewed their 2019 Etna Bianco if you care to explore or revisit my thoughts on another wine in the portfolio.

Today’s Wine: 2020 Etna Rosato

100% Nerello Mascalese; 13% ABV

The 2020 Etna Rosato is pale copper in color, rather light for many rosé wines I’ve enjoyed. The aromas are of medium intensity, but the rather complex nose shows itself over time with notes of white strawberry, cherry, peach, raspberry, cured charcuterie meat, rose petal, flint, and saline mineral. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium intensity and the palate displays notes of Rainier cherry, freshly-picked strawberry, peach, cantaloupe, chopped green herbs, crushed rock, sea salt, and white pepper. This dry rosé is medium-bodied though very crisp and lean with high acidity, medium alcohol, and a long finish.

Price: $23. I think this is a great buy, as it offers beautiful balance, length, and complexity while being immensely chuggable on a hot day. This is the most fun, delicious, and rock-solid rosé I’ve had in a long, long time and I’ll be buying more as soon as I can.

Complex Sonoma Coast Syrah Made in Miniscule Quantities

Today’s Story: Black Trumpet

Black Trumpet is a very, very small wine producer established in 2012 by Sophie Drucker and Garrett Pierce. Born out of their passion for Syrah and the Black Chanterelle Mushroom, Black Trumpet is a one to two barrel (25-50 case) annual production of Syrah from Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. They pick Syrah from some of their favorite organically-farmed sites (today’s 2019 bottling comes from the Charles Heintz Vineyard), and all harvesting is accomplished by hand. Grapes ferment in open-top barrels with partial stem inclusion and wild yeasts, with limited to no sulfur additions throughout the process. Come bottling, the wines are never fined or filtered to preserve both the variety characteristics and the expression of terroir.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Syrah

100% Syrah; 14% ABV

The 2019 Syrah is deep ruby in color and completely opaque. I decanted this for about an hour, as it’s still incredibly youthful. The aromas are of medium (+) intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of blueberry, black plum, blackberry, anise, violets, mild smoke, cured meat, and cracked pepper. Flavors are also of medium (+) intensity and the palate displays notes of blackberry, blueberry, licorice, bacon fat, charred green herbs, clove, black pepper, and chocolate. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. 1-2 barrels (25-50 cases) produced each vintage.

Price: $35. I think this is very reasonably-priced given both the quality level and miniscule production numbers. In its youth, this is already very well-balanced with solid complexity and intensity. This also gives off a very Northern Rhône vibe while still showcasing the Californian fruit which I think can prove attractive for both Old and New World palates.

An Oregon Take on Burgundy’s “Secret” Value

Today’s Story: Evening Land Vineyards

Evening Land Vineyards is a producer of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Gamay located in the Eola-Amity Hills of Oregon. Though the label was “officially” established in 2005, their historic and world-class Seven Springs Vineyard dates back to 1984 when it was planted by Al MacDonald. Though the winery has changed hands a number of times, labels have been updated, and fruit sources have changed, sommelier Rajat Parr and winemaker Sashi Moorman joined in 2014 and remain involved to this day. With their Seven Springs estate vineyard, which has been dry-farmed since inception and shifted to biodynamic viticulture in 2007, Parr and Moorman oversee significant Pinot Noir plantings followed by Chardonnay and then smaller amounts of Gamay. The Pinot clones include Calera, Pommard, Swan, and Mt. Eden, and they have produced some of the greatest wines in Oregon winemaking history with the vineyard in its earlier days a source for many highly-regarded wineries.

I previously wrote about the 2018 Seven Springs Pinot Noir from Evening Land.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Seven Springs Passetoutgrain

Co-ferment of Pinot Noir and Gamay; 12% ABV

The 2019 Seven Springs Passetoutgrain is deep purple in color with ruby hues. Given some time to open up in the glass, this blossoms into a rather complex wine for its youth. The aromas are of medium (+) intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of cherry, raspberry, mulberry compote, blueberry, rose petal, rosemary, pine, and finely crushed rock. Meanwhile the flavors are of medium intensity and the palate displays notes of blackberry, cranberry, white cherry, mulberry, blueberry, savory garden herbs, black olive, and stony mineral. This dry red is light-bodied with high acidity, low tannins, medium alcohol, and a long finish. 595 cases produced.

Price: $35. I think this is pretty fairly priced given the balance, length, and complexity though there are probably better values if you look to Beaujolais for carbonic Gamay. I haven’t had any Bourgogne Passetoutgrain to compare this to, so I found my next tasting task.

High Quality Kabinett Riesling From a Historic German Estate

Today’s Story: Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl

Reichsrat von Buhl was established in 1849 by Franz Peter Buhl, and the estate quickly became a benchmark of quality for Forster Riesling. Thanks to uncompromising quality, von Buhl Rieslings became some of the most expensive in the world and even filled the glasses of those toasting the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Even Otto von Bismarck became a loving fan of von Buhl wines and praised their Ungeheuer which is sourced from the best plot of the 29 hectare Grand Cru Ungeheuer vineyard.

In 1909, Franz Eberhard Buhl (the son of Armand von Buhl and Juliane Schellhorn-Wallbillich) orchestrated the marriage of the von Buhl and Schellhorn-Wallbillich wineries, establishing one of the largest privately owned German wine estates at over 200 hectares. At this point, Franz Eberhard changed the winery name to Reichsrat von Buhl (adding his title as a member in the house of Lords in the kingdom of Bavaria). Franz Eberhard passed away young in 1921 and his widow Frieda Piper von Buhl adeptly ran the estate until her death in 1952. With no familial heirs to the estate, Reichsrat von Buhl went to Georg Enoch Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg who was a political friend of Franz Eberhard.

Over time, Reichsrat von Buhl decreased in size to about 52 hectares of vineyard land thanks to financial challenges, though they maintained ownership of some of the greatest sites in Deidesheim and Forst. From 1989 to 2013, von Buhl was leased to Japanese business man Toyohiro Tokuoka but changed ownership in 2005 to a local businessman named Achim Niederberger. When Tokuoka’s lease ended in 2013, von Buhl went back to being a family-run estate and winery.

All vineyards owned by Reichsrat von Buhl are certified organic and the current team is unified behind natural and sustainable viticulture. All white wines from von Buhl are Riesling (except for two noble sweet wines) and all red wines and rosé are made from Pinot Noir. Of all the land planted to vine that von Buhl owns, 45% is classified as either VDP.Erste Lage® (Premier Cru) or VDP.Grosse Lage® (Grand Cru) – source. For more on this historic German estate, check out the website here.

I previously wrote about von Buhl’s 2014 Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Großes Gewächs.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Armand Riesling Kabinett

100% Riesling; 9% ABV

The 2018 Armand Riesling Kabinett is pale gold in color. Aromas are of pronounced intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of white peach, apricot, lemon peel, honeysuckle, petrol, and white pepper. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity and the palate displays notes of yellow apple, white peach, tangerine, jasmine, honey, and flint. This off-dry Riesling is light- to medium-bodied with high acidity, low alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $17. I think this is very well-priced and offers solid value. While it’s not the most complex wine, it is rather young and still offers great intensity and length that I desire in a Riesling. Quality here is definitely significant as well for the level of wine.

Light and Easy-Going Summer Sipper

Today’s Story: Kapcsándy Family Winery

Kapcsándy Family Winery was established by Lou Kapcsándy and is a small, family owned and operated estate in Yountville of the Napa Valley. An immigrant from Hungary, Lou arrived in the United States in 1956 and worked as a chemical engineer and manufacturer in the Bay Area of California and Seattle. Wine became a focal point for Lou during his successful career thanks to colleagues in the wine business, however his desire to establish his own winery one day came after a visit to Château Leoville Las Cases with his wife Bobbie in 1998. With their son Louis Jr., Lou and Bobbie started searching for property in the Napa Valley when they stumbled upon the 20 acre State Lane Vineyard in Yountville which had been destroyed the previous year by phylloxera. In May 2000, the Kapcsándy family closed on this historic property (it was the source of fruit for Beringer’s Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon) and embarked on massive replanting of the vineyards. They planted the main Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, though also planted several acres to Hungarian Furmint. When the winery was completed in 2005, Lou’s vision was finally realized and both he and Louis Jr. remain highly involved today.

Kapcsándy wines are inspired by Bordeaux both in terms of vineyard management and winemaking style, resulting in lower-alcohol wines made from 100% estate-grown fruit. With both Lou and Louis Jr. active in the vineyards and estate management everyday, Kapcsándy practices sustainable farming with great appreciation for their soil and the environment. The family constructed nesting boxes, perch poles, and songbird houses to avoid the use of chemicals for pest control, and they also add compost to the vineyards and natural fertilizers to supply bacteria, photo nutrients, and trace elements which prove beneficial for vine growth. Further, Kapcsándy plants cover crops between the vines to prevent erosion and encourage beneficial insects to inhabit the vineyards and enhance this natural ecosystem. For more, check out the Kapcsándy website here.

I previously reviewed the 2014 Estate Cuvée and 2005 Estate Cuvée from Kapcsándy.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Furmint

100% Furmint; 13.2% ABV

The 2017 Furmint is pale yellow in color with greenish hues around the rim of the glass. This is an easy-going wine with aromas of medium intensity and a nose that showcases notes of lemon zest, ripe pear, green apple, lychee, honeysuckle, and wet stone. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium intensity and the palate displays notes of green apple, grapefruit, guava, lemon, white florals, and ginger. This dry white is light- to medium-bodied with high acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. Typically 100 or so cases produced.

Price: $30. While this may not necessarily be the most exciting white wine, it’s very high quality and well-made. It’s an easy-going summer sipper that’s fun to try, and is a highly unusual variety to find in the Napa Valley. If you like the Kapcsándy wines, this is worth trying at least once.

An Etna Rosso to Introduce You to Etna Rosso

Today’s Story: Girolamo Russo

Girolamo Russo is a family-owned and operated wine estate located near the town of Passopisciaro on the north side of Mt. Etna in Sicily, Italy. The estate was “re-established” by Giuseppe Russo in 2005 who, though formerly a pianist, desired to continue his family’s tradition of winegrowing and named the estate in honor of his father. Girolamo Russo consists of 18 hectares of vineyards situated between 650 and 780 meters (2,132 and 2,559 feet) above sea level, with all farmed adhering to organic viticulture. Russo grows fruit in the crus of San Lorenzo, Feudo, and Feudo di Mezzo with many vines being a century old. In culmination with a minimally invasive winemaking philosophy that includes fermentation with indigenous yeasts and minimal oak influence, the wines are often described as pure representations of place.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Etna Rosso ‘a Rina

94% Nerello Mascalese, 6% Nerello Cappuccio; 13.5% ABV

The 2018 ‘a Rina is medium garnet in color with hints of pale ruby. I decanted this for about an hour but drank it over several. The aromas are of medium (+) intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of red cherry, stemmy strawberry, orange rind, a hint of rose petal, thyme, volcanic earth, mild smoke, and slight peppery spice. Meanwhile the flavors are of medium intensity and the palate displays notes of dried cherry, cranberry, dried strawberry, licorice, tobacco, leather, crushed gravel, cracked pepper, and stony mineral. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium but fine-grained tannins, medium (+) alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $32. I think this offers pretty solid value for Etna Rosso, as it demonstrates good balance, intensity, complexity, and an obvious sense of place. Though it isn’t the best Etna Rosso I’ve had, for the price this is worth trying.

Perfectly Aged Napa Valley Cab

Today’s Story: Robert Mondavi Winery

Robert Mondavi is a historical and world-renowned Napa Valley winery established by Robert Mondavi in 1966. With the immense history and promise Mondavi felt with the To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville, he set up his winery there amongst the vines and set out to craft Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that could compete with the greatest wines in the world. Mondavi did not only set his sights on Cabernet Sauvignon, however, releasing his first Fumé Blanc (made with Sauvignon Blanc) in 1968 which is the wine that ultimately became his signature bottling. As Mondavi’s prowess started to show in those early years, he also expanded into the Stags Leap District by acquiring the Wappo Hill Vineyard planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon in 1969. In 1970, Mondavi met for the first time with Baron Philippe de Rothschild and the duo voiced an idea of creating a joint venture that ultimately became Opus One, established in 1978 with an inaugural vintage of 1979.

As Mondavi’s wines grew in prominence, so did his reputation almost like a father to Napa Valley winemaking. He was instrumental in bringing music to the Valley with his Summer Music Festival, showcased his philanthropic mindset by helping to pioneer Auction Napa Valley, and advanced the magic of food and wine pairing by creating the Mission Tour, Great Chefs of France, and Great Chefs of America programs. Robert Mondavi’s impact on Napa Valley and the wine world beyond is as strong and steadfast now as it was back then, and the world of California winemaking will forever thank him.

I previously reviewed the 1981 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and 1980 Reserve Pinot Noir.

Today’s Wine: 1987 Cabernet Sauvignon

87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot; 13% ABV

The 1987 Cabernet Sauvignon is medium to deep garnet in color. I drank this as a pop and pour, and there really wasn’t a huge amount of sediment in the bottle. Given a short time in the glass, the wine blossoms with aromas of pronounced intensity and a nose of redcurrant, blackcurrant, forest floor, violet, graphite, green bell pepper, eucalyptus, clay, and cedar. Meanwhile the flavors are also of pronounced intensity and the palate displays notes of blackberry, redcurrant, mushroom, dried tobacco, charred green herbs, green bell pepper, crushed rock, and oaky spice. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, mature medium tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium length finish.

Price: $110. This is a very fun wine to try and it’s showing very well, but I’d say it’s more of an experience wine than necessarily a “value wine.” The balance, intensity, and complexity are all great, but the shorter length of the finish does detract slightly from the overall experience of the wine.

Budget-Friendly Pinot Noir From Trader Joe’s

Today’s Story: Cotillion (Trader Joe’s)

Out of curiosity and at the urging of a friend, I decided to try a few wines from Trader Joe’s and this is one of them. It’s a light day background-wise, as this seems to be one of the many bottlings made for Trader Joe’s specifically and I cannot gather much information beyond the back label. The wine I’m reviewing today is a Pinot Noir vinted and bottled by Ashford Court in American Canyon within Napa County, though the fruit comes from Monterey County (56%), Sonoma County (33%), and Santa Barbara County (11%).

Today’s Wine: 2018 Cotillion Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 13.8% ABV (seems like it could be higher)

The 2018 Cotillion Pinot Noir is pale ruby in color and rather transparent. Given some time in the glass, the aromas blossom with medium (+) intensity and the nose showcases notes of black cherry, black raspberry, blood orange rind, leather, cola, baking spice, a hint of vanilla, and oak. Meanwhile the flavors are of medium intensity and the palate displays notes of strawberry, raspberry, red cherry, sweet tobacco, licorice, charred green herbs, and vanilla. Though the profile is exactly what I was expecting (fruity and with more oak influence than my personal preferred taste) this is better than I expected given the price. This dry red is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, high alcohol, and a medium-length finish.

Price: $10. Though not a wine I’d personally buy again, I think this is actually quite good given the accessible price-point. It has broad consumer appeal and offers better complexity and balance than many wines in the same ballpark. It seems to be pretty good quality overall as well.

Easygoing Malvasia Bianca From Contra Costa County

Today’s Story: Erggelet Brothers

Erggelet Brothers is a small wine producer which, as the name implies, was established by brothers Julian and Sebastian Erggelet. Julian and Sebastian grew up in southern Germany, and though Julian studied Medicine and Sebastian studied Philosophy & Economics the two picked up an appreciation and passion for wine along the way. Sebastian went back to school for Viticulture & Enology while Julian finished up his medical degree, and afterwards the brothers embarked on travels around the world and worked wine harvests, in cellars, and in kitchens to hone their palates in France, Switzerland, Australia, and Spain. The brothers journeyed to California in 2014 and worked at OVID, Seven Stones, and Martin Estate before ultimately starting their own winemaking project in 2015.

Today Julian and Sebastian source fruit from Contra Costa County in California, as well as some Pinot Noir from Oregon. The brothers put a major emphasis on farming, particularly “intentional” and organic farming. Julian and his wife Alli run an organic farming project called The Urban Edge in Brentwood, CA as well where they not only farm the Cecchini Family Vineyard but also grow 25 acres of mixed stone fruit, 5 acres of mixed vegetables, and 5 acres of asparagus. They also keep a watchful eye over ducks, chickens, goats, sheep, and rabbits.

Within the Contra Costa County, the Erggelet brothers source from two vineyards: Cecchini Family Vineyard and Del Barba Vineyard. They receive their Malvasia Bianca from Cecchini Family Vineyard, and Del Barba provides them with Carignane, Mataro, and Zinfandel. All wines ferment with indigenous yeasts and there are zero additions throughout the winemaking process. Come bottling, each wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Cecchini Family Vineyard Malvasia Bianca

100% Malvasia Bianca; 12% ABV

The 2019 Cecchini Family Vineyard Malvasia Bianca is pale to medium yellow in color. Aromas are of medium intensity, and the nose showcases delicate aromas of peach skins, lime zest, yellow apple, white floral blossom, beeswax, and rosemary. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium intensity and the palate displays notes of peach, apricot, lime, white florals, honeycomb, wax, and sage. This dry white is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. This is a very good and fun wine that didn’t last long once the cork was pulled. 100 cases produced.

Price: $25. I think this is incredibly fairly-priced and offers good value given the balance, structure, and solid complexity. The only Malvasia I’ve had has always been Madeira, so I was excited to try this and it was everything I hoped for.