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Lovely Young Sauternes From a Historic Producer

Today’s Story: Château Suduiraut

Château Suduiraut traces its roots back to 1580 through the marriage of Nicole d’Allard to Léonard de Suduiraut. Though the estate was destroyed during the Fronde civil wars of the mid 1600s, the current château was rebuilt later on but still during the 17th century. During the late 18th century, the estate went to Jean Joseph Duroy, who was a nephew of the Suduiraut family, and it was renamed Cru du Roy. In 1992, AXA Millésimes acquired the estate and the company continues to focus on producing high quality Sauternes with traditional vineyard management and winemaking inspired by Suduiraut’s rich history.

The vineyards of Château Suduiraut total 91 hectares of which 90% is planted to Sémillon and 10% is planted to Sauvignon Blanc. The gravel and sandy clay composition of the soil proves poor for water retention and therefore the vines struggle, reaching deep for nutrients and focusing energy into smaller clusters of fruit. The soil acting in this way largely contributes to more concentrated and higher quality fruit. Come harvest, Château Suduiraut picks entirely by hand and sorts the grapes with great care due to noble rot (Botrytis Cinerea) as they become overripe. The great care and immense quality protocol requires up to five pickings during harvest season, oftentimes going vine by vine or bunch by bunch.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Sauternes

96% Sémillon, 4% Sauvignon Blanc; 14% ABV

The 2016 Sauternes is a beautiful, transparent deep gold in color. The captivating nose emits aromas of peach cobbler, apricot, orange marmalade, honey, savory herbs, florals, and vanilla. On the palate, I get notes of apricot, candied orange, pineapple, crème brûlée, caramel, ginger, and hazelnut. This wine is medium- to full-bodied with gorgeous medium (+) acidity and a long finish. While this drinks beautifully right now, it will certainly cellar nicely for at least another decade.

Price: $75. I think this is a pretty good value for Sauternes, and the $35 I paid for this half bottle was perfect both in price-point and for bottle size as a light after-dinner beverage. This is a gorgeous wine.

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Everyday Drinking Syrah

Today’s Story: The Paring

I previously wrote about The Paring when I reviewed their 2015 Red Blend, but I wanted to revisit the brand for the Syrah today.

The Paring is like a “little sister” to Jonata and The Hilt, both wineries I wrote about previously, and is produced from blocks that are either too young or not stylistically aligned with its big sisters. As I mentioned in previous posts, Jonata and The Hilt are sister wineries of Screaming Eagle through a shared owner in Stan Kroenke who also owns the LA Rams and other sporting teams. Jonata excels with Rhône and Bordeaux varieties while The Hilt commands Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, providing the basis for the Paring portfolio which includes a Bordeaux Blend, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Rosé of Pinot Noir. Fruit for The Paring is sourced primarily from the Ballard Canyon, Sta. Rita Hills, and Santa Maria Valley regions of Santa Barbara, and the winery also shares its skilled winemaker Matt Dees with Jonata and The Hilt.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Syrah

100% Syrah; 14.4% ABV

The 2017 Syrah is opaque deep purple in color with heavy staining on the glass. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of blackberry compote, blueberry, plum, sweet tobacco, wet gravel, baking spice, and oak. On the palate, I get notes of blueberry pie, candied black plum, black raspberry, underbrush, charred earth, slate, asphalt, and oak. This wine is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, grippy high tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $25. This is a classic California Syrah built for everyday drinking, and I think the price is perfectly fit for it. While certainly young and drinking more like a people-pleaser’s Syrah today, this would go great with food.

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Fresh, Vibrant, and Fun Coastal Chardonnay

Today’s Story: Lady of the Sunshine

Lady of the Sunshine was established in 2017 by Gina Hildebrand with a focus on Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir sourced from organic and biodynamic vineyards in California’s Central Coast. Gina grew an appreciation and passion for wine growing up thanks to spending a lot of time at her family’s winery Narrow Gate Vineyards, though it also helped her discover the importance of biodynamic farming which her family also practices. With Lady of the Sunshine, Gina sources fruit from organically farmed vineyards at a minimum and, since early 2018, personally farms Chêne Vineyard and transitioned it to biodynamics with Demeter certification earlier this year.

When it comes to winemaking itself, Gina crafts fun wines meant to emphasize the terroir and her farming practices through minimal intervention in the cellar. All of the Lady of the Sunshine wines are fermented with native yeasts and see minimal sulfur additions in neutral oak. The wines are stirred from the lees only once for bottling, with all bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Chêne Vineyard Chardonnay

100% Chardonnay; 12% ABV

The 2018 Chêne Vineyard Chardonnay is transparent medium to deep gold in color. Given some time to open up in the glass, the wine showcases aromas of lemon citrus, crisp golden apple, stone fruit, white lily, brioche, flint rock, and saline mineral. Moving to the palate, I get notes of green apple, slightly underripe pear, baked pineapple, lime zest, olive oil, sea salt, and lightly toasted hazelnut and almond. This is medium- to full-bodied with vibrant high acidity, a plush and somewhat oily mouthfeel, and a long finish.

Price: $34. I think this is very fairly priced and it’s a very fun, clean, vibrant Central Coast Chardonnay. I really like how the low alcohol and minimal intervention winemaking makes this a true representation of the terroir and transports you to the coast.

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Easy to Find Everyday Rioja

Today’s Story: Bodegas Faustino

Bodegas Faustino is a large, family-owned winery established in 1861 by Eleuterio Martínez Arzok in Oyón, Spain. Eleuterio purchased the manor house and existing vineyards of the property with a plan of producing wine and ramping up bulk production and improving quality over time. Around 1920, Faustino Martínez Pérez de Albéniz helped reconstruct the vineyards (which were destroyed by phylloxera) and later took over. One of his major accomplishments was being the first to bottle the family’s wine. In 1957, the winery leadership transitioned to third-generation Julio Faustino Martínez who, during the 1960s, established the Faustino brand and was the first to create an international market for their wines. Today the brand’s wines can be found in over 70 countries and the Faustino I Rioja Gran Reserva accounts for over 30% of all Gran Reserva DOCa Rioja sold around the world.

Bodegas Faustino currently owns about 650 hectares of vineyards in the DOCa Rioja, making them one of the largest vineyard owners in all of Rioja. The Faustino winery is also quite large to keep up with the vast production of wines shipped all over the world, with barrel rooms which hold about 50,000 oak barrels and cellars that hold about 9 million bottles at a given time. To learn more about Bodegas Faustino and explore their wide range of wines, check out the website here. To learn more about Faustino I in particular, visit here.

Today’s Wine: 2006 Faustino I Rioja Gran Reserva

86% Tempranillo, 9% Graciano, 5% Mazuelo; 13.5% ABV

The 2006 Faustino I is opaque medium to deep ruby in color. I gave this 2 hours to decant, which it needed to blow some of the oak and heat off the wine. Once opened, the nose emits aromas of fig, brambleberry, black cherry, cola, cigar box, truffle, forest floor, dill, mineral, and oak. On the palate, I get notes of plum, blackberry pie, tart cherry, dried earth, cedar, baking spice, chocolate, vanilla, and charred oak. This is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a medium length finish.

Price: $27. I think this is a decent value Rioja for anyone new to exploring the region and its wines. The nose is certainly better than the palate in my opinion (palate still a bit people-pleasing) and this must be accompanied by food. Please, please, please give it some air before enjoying as well, as this really did start showing nicely at the 2-3 hour mark.

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Complex Primitivo From a Lesser-Known Region

Today’s Story: Agricola Felline

Felline was established during the 1990s by the Perrucci family in Manduria of the Puglia (Apulia) region of Italy. Under the leadership of Gregory Perrucci, Felline is a champion of older native Italian varieties such as Primitivo, Negramaro, Ottavianello, Malvasia Nera, and Sussumaniello. Though these older varieties and many wines coming out of Puglia were “cheaper table wines” made in bulk, Gregory champions the region and spent great effort in studying the various soils and microclimates to produce higher quality, true-to-variety wines. Alongside Felline, Gregory established the Accademia dei Racemi to further his goals of bringing greater renown to the older varieties and wines of Puglia with the help of other wineries who share a similar mission. Gregory has been instrumental in building the reputation of Puglia as a winegrowing region, and it seems there are only greater heights ahead.

Today’s Wine: 2010 Primitivo di Manduria Cuvée Anniversario

100% Primitivo; 14.5% ABV

The 2010 Primitivo di Manduria Cuvée Anniversario is a rather beautiful, translucent, medium garnet color. Given some time to open up, the wine showcases a nose of sweet red cherry, strawberry, fig, red licorice, violet, exotic spice, cinnamon, and gravel. On the palate, I get notes of blackberry purée, ripe cherry, strawberry rhubarb, raspberry jam, sweet tobacco, dried earth, iron, and medicinal herbs. This wine is medium- to full-bodied with medium acidity, chewy medium (+) tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $50. I think this is very fairly priced and it’s a fun bottling of Primitivo with some age on it. There’s certainly still plenty of gas left in the tank emphasized by the wine’s fruit-forward characteristics and structure, but it is beautiful now. Share this with your Zinfandel lover who may not know it’s the same genetic variety!

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Great Value Italian Syrah

Today’s Story: Tenimenti d’Alessandro

Tenimenti d’Alessandro was established in 1967 by the d’Alessandro family when they acquired property in Manzano near Cortona in south-east Tuscany. Today the estate consists of about 30 hectares of certified organic vineyards, which are planted to Syrah, Viognier, and Sangiovese. During the 1980s, Tenimenti d’Alessandro experimented with a number of varieties before ultimately finding the soil and climate uniquely suited for Rhône varieties of Syrah and Viognier. In the beginning of the 1990s, d’Alessandro released their first Viognier and Syrah called Fontarca and Bosco, respectively, and have since become a benchmark producer in Cortona. Several years ago, the Calabresi family who had been partners of Tenimenti d’Alessandro since 2007 took ownership of Tenimenti d’Alessandro and today Filippo Calabresi handles much of the winemaking process. Under the Calabresi family, the winery became certified organic in 2016.

To further explore the estate or their wines, visit the website here.

Today’s Wine: 2013 Il Bosco Syrah

100% Syrah; 14% ABV

The 2013 Il Bosco Syrah is opaque deep purple in color and almost black in the bowl of the glass. I decanted this for 2 hours and drank it over the following 2 hours. The nose showcases aromas of black plum, blackberry, black licorice, tobacco, damp tilled soil, mild smoke, and oak, with some alcohol also poking through. Once in the mouth, the wine offers notes of black cherry, plum, blueberry, purple florals, sweet tobacco, crushed rock, dark chocolate, and green peppercorn. This is full-bodied with medium acidity, medium (+) fine-grained tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $38. This is my first Italian Syrah, but I do drink a good amount of Syrah and find this bottling to be a very strong value. While both distinctly Italian and distinctly Syrah, I think this would be a fun wine for any Syrah lover to try.

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Delightful Oregon Chardonnay With Burgundian Flair

Today’s Story: Lingua Franca

Lingua Franca was established in 2015 by Master Sommelier Larry Stone and his partners Dominique Lafon and winemaker Thomas Savre. Lafon is a legend of Burgundy in his own right, and his protégé Thomas Savre has many impressive names on his resume as well. Larry purchased Janzen Farm, which would become Lingua Franca, at the very end of 2012 and immediately set about planning for 23 vineyard blocks varying by rootstock and budwood. Though he and his team initially planned on selling fruit rather than making their own wine, Lafon suggested producing estate bottlings in 2014 and they officially began the endeavor in 2015 with Savre on board.

Lingua Franca puts vital importance on not only the vineyards themselves, but how they are cared for. Since its foundation, Lingua Franca farms using low-impact organic and biodynamic principles such as no-till farming and maintaining a permanent cover crop to improve soil biodiversity. Instead of using chemicals, the team encourages nesting of hawks, owls, foxes, and coyotes to fend off any unwanted visitors. When it comes to winemaking itself, Savre and team stick to Burgundian traditions and seek to produce wines truly representative of their place.

To learn more about Lingua Franca, the team, and the wines, I encourage you to visit their website here.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Avni Chardonnay

100% Chardonnay; 13% ABV

The 2016 Avni Chardonnay is transparent pale to medium gold in color with straw variation near the rim. Given some time to open up in the glass, the nose showcases aromas of golden pear, lemon zest, brioche, toasted almond, matchstick, limestone, and stony mineral. There are also some gorgeous herbal aromas. On the palate, the wine shows notes of lemon, stone fruit, crisp golden apple, apricot, mild smoke, flint rock, wet stone, and saline mineral. This is medium-bodied with mouthwatering high acidity and a plush, well-rounded mouthfeel into a long finish.

Price: $35. I think this is an outstanding value Chardonnay, standing up with some of the Chardonnays I’ve enjoyed for twice its price. This is also rather Burgundian in style, which helps the case with me!

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Checking in on the Outstanding 2005 Bordeaux Vintage

Today’s Story: Château Lynch-Bages

Château Lynch-Bages is a historic Bordeaux wine estate established in 1749 by Thomas Lynch and his wife Elizabeth. In actuality, Thomas inherited the property itself through his marriage to Elizabeth. The estate was passed to their son Jean-Baptiste in 1779 upon his marriage, with Lynch-Bages remaining in the family until 1824 when it was sold to Swiss merchant Sebastien Jurine. With the foundation of the Lynch family’s care and quality wine, the Jurine family continued the estate’s prowess and ultimately received classification as a Fifth Growth in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. In 1934, Jean-Charles Cazes rented the estate and lated purchased it in 1938. When Jean-Charles passed away in 1972, management largely fell to his grandson Jean-Michel Cazes and it has been in the family ever since.

To learn more about the estate, check out their website here.

Today’s Wine: 2005 Château Lynch-Bages

72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot; 13% ABV

The 2005 Lynch-Bages is opaque medium ruby in color with deep garnet variation. I decanted this for 3 hours (which it needed and then some) for this is still showing incredibly youthful, particularly in tannin structure. Once it does open up, the nose showcases aromas of crème de cassis, black cherry, blueberry, purple florals, cigar box, graphite, forest floor, green herbs, and a touch of oak. On the palate, I get notes of blackcurrant, plum, blackberry, cedar, tobacco leaf, dried underbrush, mild cracked pepper, dark chocolate, and coffee grounds. This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, high tannins, and a long finish. Quite enjoyable, but not yet at its peak.

Price: $300 (but a wide range online from $200 to $400+). While no doubt a great wine from an outstanding vintage, I struggle to call it a good “value.” Getting to this price-point, it takes perfection to call a wine good value and I’d characterize this as somewhere between about right and overpriced. If you’re lucky enough to snag it closer to $200, it would be worthwhile.

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Beautiful and Opulent Right Bank Bordeaux

Today’s Story: Vieux Château Certan

Vieux Château Certan (VCC) is a preeminent Bordeaux wine estate established in the mid-1700s in Pomerol on Bordeaux’s Right Bank. Though the early years are somewhat murky, the estate was founded by Jean Demay de Certan and the château itself traces to around 1770. Back then, the wines were bottled under the label Sertan. VCC quickly became one of the greatest wines produced in Pomerol and remains at that stature today, with the vineyards flanked by the great Château Pétrus and a short drive from Château Lafleur and Château Le Pin.

In 1924, change occurred when Belgian wine merchant Georges Thienpont (who owned Château Troplong Mondot) purchased VCC. Though the wines remained revered under his ownership, Georges sold everything through his own negociant business and limited its international exposure by doing so. It would not be until the 1980s when VCC started selling en primeur and racking up international acclaim. Though the estate weathered great troubles during the depression of the 1930s, it remains with the Thienpont family to this day. Alexandre Thienpont took over management and has since renovated the estate in 1988 and 2003 to continue constant improvement of the quality of wine. Today, Alexandre’s son Guillaume helps manage the estate and the team remains steadfast in their dedication to traditional winemaking aided by modern technology.

VCC consists of 14 hectares of vineyards, planted to roughly 65% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. The estate practices sustainable farming and come harvest often moves row by row or even vine by vine depending on fruit readiness. VCC vinifies the wine using traditional oak and stainless steel vats that are temperature controlled, with an assortment of vats to allow for parcel by parcel vinification by variety and age of the vines. Production typically caps out at 5,000 cases per year, though there is a second wine called La Gravette de Certan which was introduced during the 1980s by Alexandre.

Fun Fact: Georges Thienpont introduced the iconic pink capsules as a way to track which of his negociant business clients purchased his VCC. Not wanting to offend his clients or make them uncomfortable by asking, he used these pink capsules to quietly and easily spot his wine in his clients’ cellars…or see if it was missing.

Today’s Wine: 2014 Vieux Château Certan

80% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon;

The 2014 Vieux Château Certan is opaque medium ruby in color with deep garnet variation. I let this decant for 4 hours and drank it over the following 3. Once it opens up, the nose expresses aromas of blackberry, plum, blueberry, violet, cigar box, pepper, wet slate, dried herbs, chocolate, and slight oak. Moving to the palate, the wine showcases blackcurrant, black cherry, purple and blue florals, tobacco leaf, black truffle, forest floor, green herbs, mocha, cedar, and rocky mineral. This is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) but velvety tannins, and a long finish. Very opulent and gorgeous wine.

Price: $200. This is a tough price-point to call a wine a good “value,” but I honestly think this fits the bill. 2014 Bordeaux is really starting to show nicely (though it has more than plenty of life left) and the pricing is much easier to stomach than more highly prized vintages around it. I would stock up on this one.

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Young but Delicious Single Cru Barbaresco at a Great Value

Today’s Story: Produttori del Barbaresco

I previously wrote about Produttori del Barbaresco, one of my favorite Barbaresco producers for wine that won’t break the bank, when I reviewed the 2016 Barbaresco. To recap:

Produttori del Barbaresco was established in 1958 when, during widespread poverty of the 1950s, a priest in the village of Barbaresco gathered 19 small Nebbiolo growers to pool their resources/fruit and produce wine together to survive. For the first three vintages, the group made their wine in the church basement until they built a winery across the town square where Produttori del Barbaresco is still located. Today, the Produttori consists of 51 members and controls over 100 hectares of vineyards planted entirely to Nebbiolo to craft only Barbaresco D.O.C.G. and a more approachable Nebbiolo Langhe. Though each family is in complete control of their land, when it is time to come together in the cellar the wines are made using traditional methods including 18-21 day primary fermentation and aging in botti for up to three years. In exceptional vintages, the Produttori produces 9 single-vineyard Barbaresco wines from the remarkable Asili, Rabajà, Pora, Montestefano, Ovello, Pajè, Montefico, Muncagota, and Rio Sordo crus. The cooperative’s total annual output is roughly 45,000 cases of which 50% are Barbaresco, 30% are single-cru, and 20% are Nebbiolo Langhe.

Produttori del Barbaresco vineyards range from 600-1,300 feet above sea level on steep hills and consist largely of clay and limestone marl with veins of sand. The land varies greatly due not only to its size and varying microclimates, but also in terms of various crus such as how Ovello, Montefico, and Montestefano having higher clay content. The distinct personalities of the fruit from each cru blend together into the final wine to beautifully marry some of Barbaresco’s greatest vineyards in an unusual and honest representation of the terroir. To learn more about the individual crus and browse a gallery of the vineyards, check out the Produttori website here.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Barbaresco Rio Sordo Riserva

100% Nebbiolo; 14.5% ABV

The 2015 Rio Sordo Riserva is translucent medium garnet in appearance. I let this decant for 3 hours and drank it over the following 2, which it certainly needed. On the nose, I get aromas of ripe red cherry, cranberry, raspberry, rose, mildly sweet tobacco, dried rocky earth, and mint. On the palate, the wine showcases notes of dark cherry, spiced plum, licorice, tobacco, eucalyptus, crushed rock minerality, and spice. This is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, high tightly-knit tannins, and a long finish. Give this another 5 years of cellaring.

Price: $65. For single cru Barbaresco, this is a great value. While enjoyable after a good deal of air, this wine is perfect for cellaring and will only improve. If you’d like a less expensive entry into Produttori del Barbaresco, try the Barbaresco D.O.C.G. for around $40 and still exceptional value.

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Young but Immensely Promising Puligny-Montrachet

Today’s Story: Domaine Bernard Moreau et Fils

The history of Domaine Bernard Moreau began in 1809 when Auguste Moreau built a cellar near the Champs Gain vineyard for ease when farming his Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It wasn’t until the 1930s, however, under Marcel Moreau that the family’s holdings started to grow exponentially. For instance, the domaine today operates on 14 hectares of vineyard land (9 hectares they own, 5 hectares they farm) and about 80% of that land was acquired by Marcel. Bernard Moreau took over the vineyards and cellar during the 1960s (at the age of 14!!) and the name “Domaine Bernard Moreau” came in 1977 under guide of Bernard and Françoise Moreau. With Bernard and Françoise at the helm, the domaine updated their winery, farming methods, and equipment in addition to buying more land to get to that 14 hectare total number. Their sons Alex and Benoît joined the team to help with winemaking and in the cellars, with their first vintage being 1995. From 1999 onward, Alex took over winemaking responsibilities and Benoît specializes in the vineyards.

The winemaking style at Domaine Bernard Moreau is best described as “hands off.” Like most estates producing exceptional wines in Burgundy, Alex and Benoît take a view that terroir should be the forefront of a wine and therefore they must care for the vineyards. While the farming practices at the domaine are characterized as sustainable (not organic or biodynamic), they use organic fertilizers with the soil and do not use pesticides. Also like many great estates, Moreau utilizes rigorous pruning, debudding, and green harvesting in an attempt to lower yields that are more expressive of the terroir. During aging of the wines, Alex uses 10-50% new French oak barrels (depending on wine and vintage) for 12-20 months (also depending on wine and vintage). For the Pinot Noir, Moreau does not rack, filter, or fine the wines at all.

Domaine Bernard Moreau produces a broad range of wines, and I highly suggest trying some of them. From the Bourgogne Blanc and Rouge to their Aligote and up through the multitude of 1er Cru Chassagne-Montrachet to the big-daddy Bâtard-Montrachet, I have not met a wine I didn’t like.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Puligny-Montrachet

100% Chardonnay; 13.5% ABV

The 2017 Puligny-Montrachet is medium golden yellow in color and fully transparent. Given about 45 minutes to an hour to blossom in the glass, the wine showcases a nose of golden pear, lemon zest, white peach, stone fruit, white lily, light smoke, brioche, and hazelnut. Moving to the palate, I get notes of green apple skins, honeydew, lemongrass, honeysuckle, mild green herbs, flint, and roasted nuts. This precise wine is medium-bodied with high acidity and a long finish.

Price: $105. This is a great bottling from the wonderful 2017 vintage and I certainly recommend picking up a bottle or two. The quality and promise of this wine will reward those who are patient, but this is already an incredible wine for the price.

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Restrained Carignan From Mendocino County

Today’s Story: LIOCO Wine Company

LIOCO Wine Company was established in 2005 by Kevin O’Connor and Matt Licklider. Kevin is a former Wine Director of Spago Beverly Hills and Matt is a wine importer and salesman by trade, but the two desired to create wines that are not as heavy-handed as many modern offerings but instead wines that exhibit a sense of place through minimal intervention winemaking. With European wines and more restrained Californian wines from the 1980s as guides, Kevin and Matt sought vineyards throughout Santa Cruz, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties with older vines and difficult climates to source their fruit. Though Pinot Noir and Chardonnay prove focal points for LIOCO, they also produce wines from Carignan, Valdiguie, Sauvignon Blanc, and occasionally other varieties that may pop up (like Syrah). LIOCO picks their fruit on the earlier side of ripeness and harvests by hand before the fruit travels to the winery in Santa Rosa under refrigerated conditions. Staying away from the big and bold California wines popular today, the winemaking process at LIOCO is as hands-off as possible, or non-interventionist. In 2017, Matt and Sara Licklider became sole owners of LIOCO and remain steadfast in continuing this philosophy.

To search through the range of wines offered by LIOCO, view the vineyards they source from and growers they work with, or see the source of the above information, check out the LIOCO website here.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Sativa Carignan

100% Carignan; 13.2% ABV

The 2016 Sativa Carignan is almost fully opaque medium purple in color with ruby hues. Given 30-45 minutes to open up, the wine blossoms to showcase a nose of raspberry, cranberry sauce, black cherry, licorice, dried rocky earth, savory herbs, dried underbrush, and cracked pepper. On the palate, I get notes of plum, black raspberry, cherry cola, purple florals, finely crushed rock, dried green herbs, and mild baking spice with beautiful minerality. This is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Fruit for this wine is sourced from grower Jim McCutchen and his vineyards on Cloverdale’s Pine Mountain. The vines are 70+ years old and are head-pruned and dry-farmed at 2,200-2,400 feet elevation. Fermentation is 100% whole cluster and aging is 9 months in neutral oak plus 1 month in tank before bottling.

Price: $29 (might be able to find a few dollars cheaper). Though there are cheaper Carignan bottlings out there, I think this is a great value wine because the quality is excellent and its truth to variety and place is profound. I’ve had this wine before and I will buy it again.

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Sky-High Quality From a Regional Pinot Noir

Today’s Story: Paul Hobbs Winery

Paul Hobbs Winery was founded in 1991 by Paul Hobbs with his initial release of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon from purchased fruit. I previously wrote about Paul and his winery’s history in The Steve Jobs of Wine when I reviewed the 2015 Katherine Lindsay Estate Pinot Noir, but I will recycle it here for ease…

Paul grew up in upstate New York on a working family farm and orchard, so one could say agriculture was in his blood from an early age. Though Paul helped plant, harvest, and sell crops at nearby farmers’ markets before school each morning, his first foray into wine was helping his father achieve his dream of replanting some of the apples, peaches, and nuts in their orchards to wine grapes.

When it came time for Paul to go to college, his father encouraged him to study viticulture and enology but instead Paul followed in his great-grandfather’s footsteps by studying medicine and graduated with a BS in Chemistry from Notre Dame. His father’s persistence paid off, however, and Paul moved to California after graduation and studied viticulture and enology at UC Davis where he received his Master of Science three years later. Fresh off his new degree, Paul was hired by Robert Mondavi for his advanced knowledge of oak aging and he was quickly promoted to the inaugural Opus One winemaking team. Following his experiences at Robert Mondavi and Opus One, Paul joined Simi Winery as their winemaker before beginning consulting roles for Peter Michael, Lewis Cellars, Bodegas Catena, and soon other wineries around the world.

Throughout these experiences with wine, Paul Hobbs crafted a dream of his own to produce vineyard designated wines under his own name. In 1991, Paul spoke with Larry Hyde in Napa and Richard Dinner in Sonoma about purchasing some of their fruit, and the resulting 5 tons of fruit from each vineyard culminated in the first Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc of Paul Hobbs Winery. Paul’s dreams entered their next phase in 1998, however, when he purchased his family’s first estate vineyard and established the Katherine Lindsay Estate (named after his great-grandmother) in Sebastopol, CA. The first vintage of this wine came with the 2003 harvest, and today Paul Hobbs consists of seven estate vineyards in some of the preeminent Californian regions for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Paul Hobbs practices sustainable farming in caring for his vineyards and a minimalist approach in producing his wines. To sustain the integrity of his fruit and each vineyard block, Paul demands a constant flow of communication and knowledge from the vineyards to the cellar. When it comes time for harvest, all Paul Hobbs fruit is hand-harvested using hand sheers to keep the fruit in pristine condition. During the winemaking process, all wine is fermented using only native yeasts that originate in the vineyards and the cellar and the wine is aged in finely grained French oak barrels. With his finished product, Paul bottles the wine unfined and unfiltered in an effort to display the purity of the fruit and the place of each wine with elegance and transparency.

Fun fact: Paul Hobbs is widely known as “the Steve Jobs of wine” thanks to his “ardent exactitude” and immensely high demands for quality.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 14.1% ABV

The 2016 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is opaque medium ruby in color with purple hues. Given about 45 minutes to open up, the nose showcases aromas of brooding wild blueberry, dark cherry, plum, red licorice, dry charred earth, saturated gravel, hickory smoke, cinnamon, and oak. On the palate, I get notes of tart red cherry, black raspberry, pomegranate, blackberry liquor, scorched earth, slate and clay, dried cooking herbs, and cola. This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a long finish. Overall pretty ripe and somewhat opulent, this will only improve with a few more years of cellaring.

Price: $60. I will say there are better “value” Pinot Noir bottlings out there, but I do think this is a great entry opportunity into the Paul Hobbs portfolio and is remarkable in terms of quality and ripeness of fruit for a regional wine.

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Sonoma Hillsides Syrah Reminiscent of Northern Rhône

Today’s Story: Pax Mahle Wines

Pax Mahle Wines was established in 2000 by Pax and Pam Mahle with a focus on Syrah and more “esoteric” varieties that can thrive in the cooler climate vineyards of Sonoma County and Mendocino. Pax and Pam moved to California wine country in 1997, though after a few years with Dean & DeLuca sourcing wines Pax decided he wanted to move into the production side of the wine business. Though Pax quickly rose to stardom producing Rhône variety wines (namely his Syrah), he expanded into working with Trousseau Gris, Chenin Blanc, Gamay Noir, and Mission with similar success. Pax farms his vineyards eschewing the use of chemicals and crushes his fruit by hand and foot as part of his minimal intervention philosophy. Pax only uses natural yeasts during fermentation and sulfur is added as minimally as required for stabilization only. Thanks to the high quality vineyard sites and his winemaking philosophy, Pax’s wines are magnificent representations of the varieties and terroir from which they come.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Sonoma Hillsides Syrah

100% Syrah; 12.9% ABV

The 2017 Sonoma Hillsides Syrah is opaque medium to deep purple in color with moderately heavy staining on the glass. Once this opens up, the nose displays aromas of blackberry, spiced plum, blueberry, black pepper, green herbs, smoke, dusty crushed rock, and stony mineral. Moving to the palate, this Syrah showcases notes of tart blueberry, sweet juicy black plum, jammy boysenberry, black licorice, violet, sweet tobacco, scorched earth, mild baking spice, and mineral. This is medium-bodied with high acidity, grippy medium (+) tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $50 (though you might be able to find it a few dollars less). I think this is a great Syrah and a great price-point for it. While young, it is very approachable after a bit of air and the purity of fruit and mineral make this a striking wine well worth the purchase.

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Refreshing Sauvignon Blanc for the Last Days of Summer

My Apologies…

Before I jump into today’s story, I would like to apologize for the lack of wine content lately. The work from home life has caused the demands of my “day job” to rise (thanks to my desk being about 6 feet from my bed) and has eaten into the time I can spend on my passions. Thanks to this long holiday weekend I am able to reset a little bit, and hope I can find a way to revive the more regular sharing of my love of wine.

Today’s Story: Quintessa

Quintessa was established in 1989 by Agustin and Valeria Huneeus in the Rutherford AVA of the Napa Valley. Though Quintessa was the Huneeus family’s first venture into Napa, both Agustin and Valeria were wine industry veterans in Chile. Agustin helped build Concha y Toro into the largest winery in Chile as their CEO, while Valeria is a microbiologist and viticulturist who discovered the land that ultimately became Quintessa’s home. The property consists of 280 acres, 170 of which are planted to vine with the balance home to the winery and 100 acres of natural woodland. The vineyards are farmed organically with the occasional use of biodynamic practices, while wines are made utilizing gravity flow to maximize the gentleness of the winemaking process. Quintessa produces one premium Cabernet Sauvignon wine each vintage, while also bottling limited quantities of Sauvignon Blanc under the Illumination label.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Illumination Sauvignon Blanc

56% Sauvignon Musqué, 34% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Sémillon; 14% ABV

The 2018 Illumination is transparent pale to medium yellow in color with straw hues in the bowl. On the nose, this aromatic white emits aromas of apricot, white peach, honeydew melon, citrus rind, honeysuckle, and stony mineral. The palate showcases notes of pear, golden apple, grapefruit, lemon zest, grass, wet slate, and vibrant minerality. This is medium-bodied with high acidity and a crisp, refreshing finish that makes the wine perfect for a hot day.

Price: $39. This is certainly a higher quality Napa/Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc blend and I think the price is justified. Is it overpriced? No, but it’s also not underpriced.

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Outstanding Effort in a Tough Vintage

Today’s Story: Château Montrose

I previously wrote about Château Montrose when I reviewed the 2016 La Dame de Montrose in Incredible Value in a Second Wine, but I wanted to revisit the estate for the “Grand Vin.”

Château Montrose is a historical Bordeaux wine estate located in Saint-Estèphe and established in 1815 by Etienne Théodore Dumoulin on a patch of land his family purchased from Nicolas Alexandre de Ségur but largely forgot. At the time of Etienne’s death in 1861, the estate spanned 95 hectares though his heirs sold it in 1866 to factory owner Mathieu Dollfus who quickly redeveloped and modernized the buildings and winery with the best technology of the time. One of Mathieu’s most interesting achievements, in my opinion, is the construction of a windmill to pump water aboveground and flood the estate which ultimately saved much of the vineyards from phylloxera. After Mathieu passed away in 1886, the estate fell to the Charmolüe family who, from 1896 to 2006, guided Château Montrose through wars and financial crises while crafting some of the best vintages and providing stability. Martin and Olivier Bouygues acquired the estate in 2006 and engaged in a massive renovation project, propelling Château Montrose to ever increasing heights for decades down the road. Montrose, one of fourteen Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growths) in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855, produces world-class wines and even placed third with their 1970 vintage in the Judgment of Paris in 1976.

Today’s Wine: 2012 Château Montrose

57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot; 13% ABV

The 2012 Château Montrose is opaque deep ruby in color with purple hues. This required a good 3 hours to open up in the decanter, blossoming to showcase a nose of blackcurrant, blackberry, pencil shavings, cigar box, freshly tilled earth, cracked pepper, dark chocolate, dried green herbs, and crushed rock mineral. Once on the palate, the wine displays notes of black cherry, dark plum, cassis, dried tobacco, loam, graphite, cocoa, underbrush, and light oaky spice. This is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, high grippy tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $115. Given the vintage and how well this wine performs I think this is very appropriately priced. Particularly relative to other Montrose bottlings from stronger vintages that can be 2-3 times as expensive. There is also quite a bit of life and development left in this bottle, which could make $115 down the road look like a steal.

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One of My Favorite Valpolicella’s

Today’s Story: Dal Forno Romano

Dal Forno Romano is a family-owned and operated estate winery established in 1983 in Val D’Illasi by Romano Dal Forno. Though the winery is relatively new (built in 1990), the Dal Forno family has owned the property where their vineyards sit for four generations and produced wines previously for the majority of that time. The wines since 1983, however, launched the Dal Forno family quickly to prominence with their big, beautiful, and true to variety style. The estate’s vineyards are all traditionally farmed and planted to indigenous varieties of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Oseleta, and Croatina, while Romano practices more modern techniques in the cellar. Though Dal Forno typically achieves incredibly high-quality fruit (barring any vintage challenges), they remain wildly rigorous in the selection process come harvest. The fermentation process is designed to extract as much character from the grapes as possible, while aging in oak barriques provides enough backbone to the wines without completely stealing the show.

Today’s Wine: 2013 Valpolicella Superiore Monte Lodoletta

70% Corvina and Corvina grossa, 20% Rondinella, 5% Croatina, and 5% Oseleta; 14.5% ABV

The 2013 Valpolicella Superiore is opaque deep ruby in color and almost black at its core. Given about 90 minutes to open up, the nose showcases aromas of black cherry, plum, blackcurrant, cedar spill, violet, smoked meat, cracked pepper, chocolate, and slate. Once in the mouth, this opulent yet elegant wine displays notes of blueberry, blackberry, tart cherry, rich tobacco, scorched earth, tar, chocolate, baking spice, and vanilla. This is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) but velvety tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $100. I think this is well worth its price tag, and Dal Forno Romano provides consistently delicious and high-quality wines across vintages that I’ve tried. This is also my go-to by the glass wine at one of my favorite wine bars here in Los Angeles. Pair with ribeye steak, roasted chicken with fig, or charcuterie and aged cheese.

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Opulent Pinot Noir From One of California’s Most Famous Vineyards

Today’s Story: Bien Nacido Vineyards

Bien Nacido Vineyards traces its history to 1969 when brothers Bob and Steve Miller (whose family had been farming in California since 1871) acquired what they thought was an ideal plot of land to plant vineyards. Bien Nacido, as the vineyard was named, was planted by 1973 (the first vintage) and consisted of about 300 acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Though the estate’s vineyards have grown dramatically over the years and now include varieties of Syrah, Merlot, Viognier, and others, it is the initial 300 acres that demonstrated the immense promise of winemaking in the Santa Maria Valley. Situated at high elevations and not far from the Pacific Ocean, Bien Nacido is one of the most famous and revered vineyards in California winemaking for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In addition to Bien Nacido Vineyards crafting estate wines, there are a number of producers each leasing their own rows or blocks and crafting wines from this historic land.

I would be remiss, however, if I did not discuss the history of the Bien Nacido land before it was planted to vineyards. In 1837, the land was actually part of one of the first Spanish land grants where two square leagues went to Tomas Olivera. Tomas named his land Rancho Tepusquet after a nearby creek, and later sold the property in 1855 to his son-in-law Don Juan Pacifico Ontiveros who built a home on it. Alongside his wife, Don Juan raised horses and some livestock, planted grains, and produced small amounts of wine from grapes they planted. Though the vineyards of Bien Nacido today surround Don Juan’s home, the initial estate planted by the Miller brothers in 1969 sprung from grazing lands.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Estate Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 13% ABV

The 2016 Estate Pinot Noir is medium ruby in color and mostly opaque. Given 30 minutes or so to open up in the glass, the wine showcases a nose of black cherry, black raspberry, red and purple florals, dried tobacco, forest floor, underbrush, baking spice, and pepper. Moving onto the palate, I get notes of cranberry, pomegranate, wild strawberry, leather, loamy earth, game, crushed rock, green herbs, and iron. This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, light tannins, and a medium (+) length finish. 415 cases produced.

Price: $50. I think this is right around fairly priced, but on a value perspective it doesn’t blow me away. The wine offers everything I love in California Pinot Noir (lower ABV, solid depth, and Burgundian feel), but there are some less expensive options that achieve the same. Pair with herb-roasted chicken, duck breast, or turkey sausage and mild blue cheese.

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Fantastic Representation of Albariño

Today’s Story: La Marea

La Marea is a very small wine label focused on Spanish varieties in the I. Brand & Family Wines portfolio. Established by Ian Brand and his wife Heather, I. Brand & Family Wines consists of the labels I. Brand & Family (California inspired wines), Le P’tit Paysan (French inspired wines), and La Marea. La Marea yields highly limited quantities of Grenache and Albariño wines, with all fruit sourced from sustainably or organically farmed vineyards in the Monterey Bay area. These wines are meant to showcase the challenging terroir of the largely limestone, rocky, salty, and windswept Monterey Bay region and with La Marea Ian is dedicated to single vineyard bottlings that express each unique site. Ian delicately crafts transparent wines using a combination of native and cultured yeast for fermentation and typically neutral oak for aging.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Kristy Vineyard Albariño

100% Albariño; 13.2% ABV

The 2019 Kristy Vineyard Albariño is deep straw/pale yellow in color and transparent. A somewhat delicate nose opens to showcase aromas of lemon zest, grapefruit, summer melon, white and yellow florals, sea shell, and saline. Moving onto the palate, the wine displays similar sea-filled notes with stone fruit, honeydew, white peach, lime, wax, brine, and marine mineral. This is light-bodied with vibrant high acidity and a plush mouthfeel that yields to a crisp and immensely refreshing finish. 850 cases produced.

Price: $24. I think this is absolutely worth the price and is a fantastic representation of the Albariño variety. When I saw this is coming from the Monterey Bay area of California I had to give it a shot and am incredibly glad I did. Pair this with oysters, lightly smoked whitefish, or ceviche.

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Fun, Pure, and Delicious Trousseau

Today’s Story: Arnot-Roberts

Arnot-Roberts is a boutique winery established in 2001 by Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts, two childhood friends who grew up together in Napa Valley. I previously wrote about them when I reviewed their 2016 Que Syrah Vineyard in Boutique Syrah for the Explorer, which I felt is a wine for those looking for a new take on California Syrah. As I wrote before, Arnot-Roberts began with a single barrel of wine the duo produced in their basement and over time grew through the purchase of fruit from renowned vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, El Dorado, and Amador counties as well as the Santa Cruz Mountains. All Arnot-Roberts wines are made in small quantities with incredible attention to quality and they are crafted to showcase the terroir of each specific site or appellation.

Today’s Wine: 2018 North Coast Trousseau

100% Trousseau; 12.1% ABV

The 2018 North Coast Trousseau is captivating deep salmon in color with rose/pale ruby hues in the bowl. It is also translucent, but slightly hazy. Once this opens up, the nose emits aromas of ripe strawberry, wild raspberry, cranberry, red florals, game, dry gravel, and dried herbs. On the palate, I get notes of bing cherry, boysenberry, strawberry, red licorice, underbrush, peppery spice, clove, and stony mineral. This is light-bodied with gorgeous medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a medium (+) length finish. 26 barrels produced.

Price: $35. I think this is a great value wine for a number of reasons, namely its quality and how fun it is to drink. This is a variety many people may not be familiar with, and I think this bottle is a great example to explore. Pair this with steak tartare, Basque-style tuna, or charcuterie and cow’s cheese.

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Food Friendly Value Italian Red

Today’s Story: Pasetti

Pasetti is a family-owned estate and winery established by Silvestro Pasetti, now in its fifth generation of winegrowing and winemaking. Though Silvestro and later his son Rocco worked largely on planting vineyards and battling Phylloxera, third-generation Franco began producing his own wines during the 1960s. Franco prided himself on growing healthy and high quality fruit by spending a lot of time in his vineyards, though he also realized the need to craft a respectable wine for broad appeal in the cellar. When management of the estate passed to his son Mimmo, Pasetti expanded into the foothills of Pescosansonesco and acquired vineyards with 45-year-old somewhat abandoned vines. All of the Pasetti wines are made using native varieties such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Pecorino, and Passerina which was an important decision by Mimmo to stick to their roots while those around them planted Cabernet, Merlot, and Chardonnay. Though Mimmo continues to run the estate today, he is joined by his wife Laura and their children Francesca, Massimo, and Davide who work alongside him.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Tenutarossa Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

100% Montepulciano; 14.5% ABV

The 2015 Tenutarossa is opaque deep ruby in color. Given a couple hours to open up, the wine showcases a nose of blackberry, plum, black cherry, licorice, leather, baking spice, sage, and slight oak. Once in the mouth, this dark-fruit dominated wine displays notes of blackberry, blueberry, dark plum, anise, sweet tobacco, loamy earth, chocolate, clove, green herbs, and iron. This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, grippy medium (+) tannins, and a long finish.

Fun Fact: This wine used to be called “Testarossa,” but I am told Ferrari had a problem with that…

Price: $30. This is a pretty solid value good for everyday drinking, while offering great versatility with food. Pair with lasagna, beef brisket, or spicy Italian sausages.

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Burgundian Pinot Noir From Willamette Valley

Today’s Story: Cristom Vineyards

Cristom Vineyards was founded in 1992 by Paul and Eileen Gerrie in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of the Willamette Valley. I previously wrote about them when I reviewed their 2016 Estate Viognier in Textbook New World Viognier and I am excited to explore one of their single vineyard Pinot Noirs today. Cristom consists of eight estate vineyards totaling just over 100 acres, four of which are planted to Pinot Noir (Eileen, Jessie, Louise, and Marjorie) and four that are planted to Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Viognier, and Syrah. Using sustainably farmed estate fruit, winemaker Steve Doerner practices minimal intervention in the cellar to produce wines that transparently showcase the terroir of each site.

Today’s Wine: 2013 Louise Vineyard Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 13.5% ABV

The 2013 Louise Vineyard Pinot Noir is slightly translucent pale ruby in color with hints of garnet. Given 45 minutes or so to open up, the wine blossoms with a nose of cherry, black raspberry, stemmy strawberry, cola, bacon fat, dried tobacco, forest floor, dried green herbs, and cinnamon. On the palate, I get notes of sweet plum, black cherry, licorice, worn leather, tobacco, sous bois, nutmeg, rocky mineral, and light oaky spice. This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) and slightly chewy tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $40. I got this for an incredible deal, which makes it a fantastic value proposition for my tasting. With an average price closer to $60 or more in the marketplace, however, this falls into the category of “worth it” but not classified as a great value. Pair with herb roasted chicken, rack of lamb, or charcuterie and cheese.

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Gamay With a Mind Blowing Value Proposition

Today’s Story: Marchand-Tawse

Marchand-Tawse is a Burgundian négociant created through a collaboration between Pascal Marchand and Moray Tawse. Both Pascal and Moray are French Canadians, making their success in Burgundy somewhat unusual.

Pascal Marchand comes from a background in wine (after working a few years as a merchant sailor on freighters in the Great Lakes), having taken over Clos des Epeneaux in Pommard in 1985 at the age of 22. Pascal was one of the early adopters of organic and biodynamic viticulture in Burgundy, bringing heightened quality to Clos des Epeneaux and world renown to its name. Jean-Charles Boisset later approached Pascal to run his family’s Domaine de la Vougeraie in 1999, and he remained there until 2006 when desiring more freedom in his ventures. Pascal took over at Domaine Jean Fery, all the while setting the stage for his own label that would eventually become Marchand-Tawse.

Moray Tawse, on the other hand, has a background in finance and co-founded First National in Canada which focuses on real estate lending. He has had a long-standing love of wine, however, which led him to establish Tawse Winery which is one of Canada’s leading wineries. Thanks to his love of Burgundy, Moray approached Pascal in 2010 and the two established their partnership.

Marchand-Tawse sources fruit from a great number of vineyards, most of which are either organically or biodynamically farmed. The négociant produces a wide range of wines, spanning appellation and village bottlings up to some of the greatest Grand Crus. Pascal’s winemaking style is rather traditional, seeking to have the fruit and terroir express themselves in a most honest and transparent form. Many of the wines, like the one I’m reviewing today, are left 100% whole cluster and not destemmed before fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Aging for my wine today, amongst others in the portfolio, occurs in French oak barrels 0% new and there is no fining or filtration before bottling.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Coteaux Bourguignons

100% Gamay; 12.5% ABV

The 2016 Coteaux Bourguignons is mostly opaque pale to medium purple in color with ruby hues. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of red cherry, raspberry, baked strawberry, violet, lightly charred soil, finely crushed rock, and stemmy underbrush. On the palate, I get notes of brambleberry, plum, ripe raspberry, pomegranate, dried forest floor, clay, green herbs, and light smoke. This is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish. I could see this developing further over the coming few years, but it’s hard to resist right now. 362 cases produced.

Price: $24. This is an outstanding value wine in my opinion, as it drinks with such depth and terroir expression rarely found in bottles of this price range. The quality of fruit is also spectacular. Pair with seared duck breast, coq au vin, or grilled salmon.

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Mouthwatering Single Vineyard Chardonnay

Today’s Story: Rivers-Marie

Last week I enjoyed the 2015 Silver Eagle Vineyard Pinot Noir from Rivers-Marie so much that I decided to revisit the producer for a Chardonnay.

To recap from my post last week, Rivers-Marie is a family-owned winery established in 2002 by husband and wife duo Thomas Rivers Brown and Genevieve Marie Welsh. Thomas and Genevieve work with vineyards throughout the Sonoma Coast (especially in Occidental-Freestone) and produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa fruit as well. All of the Rivers-Marie wines are meant to be refined and terroir driven, showcasing each unique vineyard site through single vineyard bottlings. This being said, they produce some appellation wines as well.

Today’s Wine: 2012 B. Thieriot Vineyard Chardonnay

100% Chardonnay; 13.8% ABV

The 2012 B. Thieriot Chardonnay is gorgeous deep gold in color and transparent. This was singing right out of the bottle but blossomed further as it opened in the glass and warmed slightly. The nose showcases aromas of golden apple, crisp pear, stone fruit, honeysuckle, flint, toasted nuts, sea shell, saline mineral, and dried vanilla bean. Once in the mouth, the wine displays notes of green apple skins, mango, lemon zest, tropical citrus, toffee, slight smoke, dill, wax, saline, and brioche. This is medium-bodied and well-rounded with high acidity and a long, lingering finish.

Price: $100. This is pricey for a California Chardonnay no doubt, but I would certainly buy this again. While clearly a California Chardonnay thanks to the fruit profile, there are a lot of characteristics of Burgundy here and both the quality and depth are compelling. Pair with roasted chicken, lobster, or asparagus and shaved hazelnut.

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Another Delicious Bottling From Jolie-Laide

Today’s Story: Jolie-Laide

Today I return to another bottling from Jolie-Laide, a boutique winery established by Scott Schultz in Forestville, CA that I have written about several times already. If you missed my prior posts, my review of the 2016 Provisor Vineyard Grenache linked here contains the most in-depth background on Jolie-Laide and Scott, and I encourage you to check it out. If you would like to read my reviews for the 2019 Trousseau Gris and 2016 Halcon Vineyard Syrah to augment your knowledge of the portfolio, they are linked here and here, respectively.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Shake Ridge Vineyard GSM

Blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Viognier (no tech sheet); 13% ABV

The 2017 Shake Ridge GSM is mostly opaque medium purple/ruby in color with pale purple variation at the rim. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of blackberry, blueberry, anise, violet, slight barnyard, stemmy underbrush, and granite. On the palate, the wine displays notes of plum, brambleberry, tart wild blueberry, lavender, tobacco, gravel, herbs, black pepper, and mild spice. This is light- to medium-bodied with high acidity, fine-grained medium (+) tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $38. I think this is a good value GSM blend, and while it comes across slightly bigger than other Jolie-Laide wines I’ve enjoyed the same quality and focus on an honest wine is still starkly apparent. Pair this with venison steak, grilled lamb, or charcuterie.

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One of California’s Most Famous Cult Pinot Noirs

Today’s Story: Marcassin Vineyards

Marcassin Vineyards is an incredibly small “cult” winery established by Helen Turley and her husband John Wetlaufer in 1990. Focusing entirely on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Marcassin produces around 2,500 to 3,000 cases of wine annually and a large majority goes to mailing list customers (with the waiting list said to be thousands of names long). The estate Marcassin Vineyard consists of 20 acres on the Sonoma Coast and, thanks to its growth from 10 acres over time, is now the main source of Marcassin’s fruit. With her vineyards planted very densely, Turley intentionally limits yields to produce healthier and more concentrated fruit which she then harvests on the riper side. Turley ferments her wines using only native yeasts, keeps them on the lees for 6-8 months, and ages them in 100% new oak barrels. When it is time for bottling, the wines are unfined, unfiltered, and do not see cold stabilization. The wines typically hit the market (or rather their collectors’ cellars) five years after the vintage.

Today’s Wine: 2007 Blue-Slide Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 14.9% ABV

The 2007 Blue-Slide Ridge Pinot is opaque pale to medium ruby in color with purple hues. This took some time to open up in the glass, but once it did the incredibly complex nose changed overtime to showcase black cherry, blueberry, black raspberry, black licorice, dried tobacco leaf, forest floor, black pepper, black olive, cinnamon, charred green herbs, and crushed rock. On the equally complex palate, the wine changed with each sip to display notes of sweet raspberry, red cherry, wild blueberry, strawberry jam, red licorice, tobacco, loamy earth, underbrush, mushroom, mild baking spice, and charred oak. This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a long finish. Still a lot of life left in this wine, though it is pretty well balanced already given the high ABV.

Price: $275. While this is certainly one of the best California Pinot Noirs I’ve had, I can’t say it is a good value at the price I paid. I understand the incredible rarity of this wine, but it is simply a treat that has been on my bucket list that I don’t see myself spending the money on again. If you are on the mailing list, however, that is a completely different story. Pair this with seared duck breast, roasted chicken, or rack of lamb.

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Gorgeous Rioja Blanco

Today’s Story: R. López de Heredia

I previously wrote about R. López de Heredia, one of my favorite producers in Rioja, when I reviewed the 2006 Viña Tondonia Reserva in One of My Favorite Rioja Producers Does It Again. LdH is a family-run winery established in 1877 by Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta after he fell in love with the Rioja Alta region, particularly the area of its capital Haro. All of the fruit sourced for these wines is estate-owned, a pathway they started following early on when Don Rafael realized it was the surest way to ensure impeccable quality of his vineyards, fruit, and wines. All harvesting is accomplished solely by hand and the fruit is treated very delicately in baskets made at the winery’s cooperage. In the cellar, the López de Heredia family follows traditional winemaking methods passed down from generation to generation.

Today’s Wine: 2008 Viña Tondonia Reserva Blanco

90% Viura, 10% Malvasía; 12.5% ABV

The 2008 Viña Tondonia Reserva Blanco is beautiful deep gold in color and transparent. The exquisite nose showcases aromas of peach, apricot, honeydew, chamomile, hazelnut, brioche, honey, and seashell, while the palate displays notes of lime zest, melon, orange marmalade, tropical citrus, white florals, toffee, almonds, and mineral. This wine is light- to medium-bodied with gorgeous high acidity and a plush, luxurious mouthfeel into a long finish.

Price: $65. Even though these are more expensive than their red counterparts (thanks to a smaller production) I find them to be just as superior a value for their gorgeous depth and complexity. Pair this with lobster, roasted chicken, or almonds.

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Rockstar Single Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot

Today’s Story: Rivers-Marie

Rivers-Marie is a family-owned winery established in 2002 by husband and wife duo Thomas Rivers Brown and Genevieve Marie Welsh. Thomas is well-known throughout California winemaking thanks to his consulting practices and winemaking stints with names like Schrader, Maybach, and Outpost, however Rivers-Marie is a personal project born in Pinot Noir. Working with vineyards throughout the Sonoma Coast (especially in Occidental-Freestone), Thomas crafts Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon (Calistoga, St. Helena, and Oakville) in a more restrained, terroir-driven style than can be expected from his other ventures. The Pinot Noir bottlings consist of appellation wines and a number of single vineyard offerings, all produced with native yeasts and partial whole cluster fermentation. Thomas’ Chardonnays are made in similar minimalistic fashion with whole cluster barrel fermentation, no stirring, limited sulfur additions, aging in 0-25% new French oak, and are bottled unfined and unfiltered. The Cabernets are made to walk the fine line between power and elegance, showcasing classic Napa Valley fruit but not overpowering the terroir expressions.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Silver Eagle Vineyard Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 14.1% ABV

The 2015 Silver Eagle Pinot Noir is opaque medium purple/ruby in color. This takes some time to open up in the glass, but once it does the nose showcases aromas of cherry, black raspberry, dried strawberry, forest floor, game, cola, mint, baking spice, and crushed rock. On the palate, the wine displays notes of plum, black cherry, licorice, blue florals, tobacco, charred earth, dried green herbs, and iron. This is medium-bodied with high acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $75. Not cheap for California Pinot Noir and getting up there with some of the bigger “cult” brands, but this is very elegant and definitely worth the price. This seems to be made in a slightly more refined style than many of the opulent, “in your face” Pinots that command similar or higher prices. Pair with herb-roasted chicken, mushroom risotto, or assorted charcuterie.

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Middle Tier People Pleaser From Napa Valley

Today’s Story: HALL Wines

HALL Wines is a family owned and operated winery established by Kathryn and Craig Hall in the Napa Valley. The Halls purchased the Sacrashe Vineyard in Rutherford in 1995, though did not open a winery there until a grand opening in 2005. In between, however, the Halls acquired the Bergfeld Winery in St. Helena in 2003 and opened as HALL St. Helena in July, 2003. HALL consists of roughly 150 acres of estate vineyards planted to Bordeaux varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc, though they also source from carefully selected winegrowing partners. With the vineyards farmed organically and controlled to lower yields, the fruit for HALL Wines is intended to be as healthy as possible and highly concentrated. All fruit is hand-harvested and taken to the wineries in small baskets where it is destemmed and cold soaked before fermentation begins. During primary fermentation, HALL uses both natural yeasts and pure cultured yeasts followed by secondary fermentation which may include malolactic bacteria added to help the wines along the way in small French oak barrels. HALL uses French oak barrels more than 50% new for the aging process, which lasts 16-22 months for the reds before bottling.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot; 15.8% ABV

The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon is opaque deep ruby in color with purple hues and fairly heavy staining on the glass. Given a couple hours to decant, the wine blossoms to showcase a nose of blackberry, blackcurrant, spiced plum, loamy earth, basil, baking spice, vanilla, mocha, and oak. There’s also a good amount of heat from the high ABV. On the palate, I get notes of cassis, black cherry, fig, anise, tobacco, wet slate, savory garden herbs, chocolate, and cedar. This is full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $55. This is about what you’d expect for the price-point, not necessarily making it a good “value” but not saying it’s overpriced. With how age-worthy this seems, it could be a good addition to your cellar to break out in several years for those Napa Cab lovers. Pair with ribeye, grilled lamb, or burgers.

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Refreshing and Fun White From Santorini

Today’s Story: Estate Argyros

Estate Argyros was established in 1903 on the island of Santorini and today is run by fourth generation winemaker Matthew Argyros. The estate consists of 120 hectares with vines averaging 70 years old, all of which are ungrafted (original rootstock) thanks to the island’s inorganic soil providing immunity to Phylloxera. All vineyards are planted to indigenous varieties of Santorini, including Assyrtiko, Aidani, and Mavrotragano. Argyros farms their vineyards organically under sustainable guidelines, using no pesticides and only grape skins and stems following harvest as compost. All harvesting is accomplished by hand and winemaking is very traditional, yielding wines that are transparent representations of their very unique and difficult terroir.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Assyrtiko

100% Assyrtiko; 13.5% ABV

The 2018 Assyrtiko is transparent pale gold/yellow in color with water white variation near the rim. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of lemon and lime zest, green apple skins, white lily, damp grass, saline mineral, flint, and light smoke. On the palate, the wine displays notes of lime, grapefruit, lemongrass, peach, sea salt, volcanic minerality, and chalk. This is light- to medium-bodied and bone dry with high acidity into a crisp and refreshing finish. The fruit is sourced from 100-120 year old ungrafted vines and fermented in stainless steel vats.

Price: $30. This is a solid value for its quality, and it’s also a fun wine to try because I hadn’t had any Assyrtiko before. Pair this with oysters, sushi, or salad with grilled chicken.

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Beautiful and Traditional Napa Cab

Today’s Story: Mayacamas Vineyards

Mayacamas was established in 1889 by German immigrant John Henry Fisher and is located in the Mt. Veeder AVA of the Napa Valley. Fisher went bankrupt in the early 1900s, however, and the winery ceased production with the onset of Prohibition (although bootleggers are said to have made wine in the cellars during the early years). Mayacamas was owned by the Brandlin family during the 1920s and 1930s, before being purchased by Jack and Mary Taylor in 1941 when the estate received its current name. Mayacamas changed hands yet again in 1968 when Robert and Elinor Travers purchased it, with the couple quickly setting about expanding the aging facilities and vineyard holdings while planting and replanting vines. Charles and Ali Banks purchased Mayacamas in 2007, though the winery has since changed hands again to the Schottenstein family.

Though the history of Mayacamas is long and inclusive of many ownership changes, the one constant is the traditional style of winemaking they practice. Mayacamas was one of the wines in the 1976 Judgment of Paris (they poured their 1971 Cabernet Sauvignon) which showed the estate can stand up with the greatest Californian and French wines of the world. Mayacamas dry farms their vineyards and transitioned a large portion to organic viticulture in 2013, further enhancing the quality of fruit. Very traditional in style, they age the wines in neutral oak to not mask any of the true expressions of the Cabernet Sauvignon variety or the terroir.

Today’s Wine: 1989 Cabernet Sauvignon

100% Cabernet Sauvignon; 12.5% ABV

The 1989 Cabernet Sauvignon is very youthful opaque deep garnet in color with plenty of ruby left. After 3 hours in the decanter, this beauty blossomed with a nose of blackcurrant, blackberry, cherry, redcurrant, pencil shavings, cigar box, tobacco, forest floor, truffle, gravel, and thyme. On the palate, the wine displays notes of blackberry, crème de cassis, black plum, redcurrant, violet, graphite, tobacco, sous bois, green herbs, cracked black pepper, and cedar. This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium dusty tannins, and a long finish. If tasted blind 100 times, I’d call this 1st or 2nd Growth Left Bank Bordeaux every time.

Price: $200. If provenance is impeccable, like this bottle was, this is absolutely worth the price. Drinking up there with some of the greats of Bordeaux, this is an incredible value. Pair with filet mignon, roasted lamb, or portobello mushrooms.

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Unique Grenache That Drinks Almost Like a Rosé

Today’s Story: Whitcraft Winery

I wrote about Whitcraft a few days ago when reviewing the 2016 Pence Ranch Clone 828 Pinot Noir, so I’ll make your Saturday reading light and move onto the tasting notes. If you missed my post about Whitcraft earlier this week, you can find it here.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Stolpman Vineyard Grenache

100% Grenache; 12.79% ABV

The 2018 Stolpman Vineyard Grenache is deep salmon and rose petal in color with medium pink variation. This is a very light Grenache, looking and drinking almost like a rosé. On the nose, I get aromas of strawberry, cranberry, rose, leather, gravel, underbrush, rocky mineral, and slight spice. Once in the mouth, the wine showcases notes of raspberry, tart red cherry, baked plum, red and purple florals, cinnamon, mint, herbs, and peppery spice. This is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a medium (+) finish. All around a great summer red.

Price: $45. I find this one tough to describe on a value perspective, because it’s not your typical Grenache and it’s not a rosé. This in mind, it’s a super fun wine to taste and I loved it for the warm weather. It’s also very high-quality like most Whitcraft wines are. Pair this with bruschetta, charcuterie and cheese, or a lobster roll.

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Clean, Honest, and Burgundian Cali Pinot Noir

Today’s Story: Ceritas Wines

Ceritas Wines is a small, family-owned winery spearheaded by husband and wife duo John and Phoebe Raytek. John and Phoebe source their fruit from trusted vintners mainly in the West Sonoma Coast and Santa Cruz Mountains, with all sites practicing sustainable or organic viticulture. John is highly involved in the vineyards they source from, and in many cases the vintners only sell fruit to Ceritas and are labeled “Monopoles.” Considering himself a winemaker of the Old World style, John believes that fruit should lead the way throughout the winemaking process and he is merely there to watch over, listen, and learn about each unique site. In the cellar, John practices minimal intervention but “flexible” winemaking, with the wines meant to showcase with honesty and transparency the terroir of each specific vineyard site.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Porter-Bass Vineyard Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 13.3% ABV

The 2017 Porter-Bass Vineyard Pinot Noir is mostly opaque pale ruby in color with hints of purple. This took a good hour to open up in the glass, with the nose showcasing aromas of red cherry, strawberry, blueberry, rose petal, forest floor, stemmy underbrush, crushed rock, flint, and mineral. On the palate, I get notes of dusty raspberry, dried cherry, crunchy pomegranate, plum, slightly stale licorice, violet, garden herbs, and stony mineral. This is light- to medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a long finish. Gorgeous wine and very Burgundian in style, though 3 more years in the bottle will do it wonders.

Price: $75. Though not an inexpensive Pinot Noir, this still offers strong QPR when compared to the “big boys” of California Pinot Noir and the quality is impeccable. Pair this with roasted chicken, duck breast, or charcuterie.

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Refreshing and Well-Made Bourgogne Aligoté

Today’s Story: Domaine Jean-Claude Ramonet

I previously wrote about Jean-Claude Ramonet when I reviewed the 2015 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos Saint-Jean in Exploring a Red From a Legendary Producer of White Burgundy. Domaine Ramonet was established in Chassagne-Montrachet in the late 1920s by Pierre Ramonet, and quickly became one of the preeminent producers of white Burgundy. Though the domaine has had its ups and downs over time largely due to premature oxidation in the 1990s, Jean-Claude Ramonet has returned the wines to fresh heights and remains a force to be reckoned with in the world of white Burgundy.

In the vineyards, Ramonet likes to work with older vines and keep his yields low. Most of the wines are produced from vines 12 to 50 years old, though they typically like to use vines 18 years or older. The domaine’s vinification practices are traditional in nature, with the whites starting in tanks before transfer to French oak barrels and the reds in cement vats for maceration and fermentation. New oak usage varies by wine and vintage, with the whites typically seeing 10-15% for village wines, 30-40% for 1er Crus, and 50%+ for the Grand Crus. Reds typically see 10-20% new oak for village wines and 30-40% for 1er Crus. None of the white wines are bottled fined or filtered.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Bourgogne Aligoté

100% Aligoté; 12.5% ABV

The 2015 Bourgogne Aligoté is transparent medium yellow in color with deep straw variation. On the nose, the wine showcases aromas of golden apple, white peach, white florals, cotton candy, dried vanilla, mild herbs, and mineral. Once on the palate, this displays notes of lemon citrus, yellow apple skins, snap pea, white wildflower, wax, and dill. The wine is light- to medium-bodied with high acidity and a plush, luxurious mouthfeel into a lingering but refreshing finish.

Price: $50. This is a very well-made, high quality Aligoté that I think justifies the price-point. Pair with oysters, roasted chicken, or cheese.

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Beautifully Honest Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir

Today’s Story: Whitcraft Winery

Whitcraft is a small, family-owned and operated winery in Santa Barbara, CA known for their traditionally made and “unadulterated” Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Established in 1985 by Chris and Kathleen (Barnato) Whitcraft, the winery started as a passion for both the craft of winemaking and the lifestyle. Chris learned from California greats including Joe Heitz, Dick Graff, and Burt Williams while simultaneously hosting a radio show about wine from 1978 to 1989. Chris and Kathleen’s son Drake joined the family winery and took over in 2007, maintaining the traditional practices of hand-harvesting, foot-pressing, no added enzymes, and native yeast fermentation. Whitcraft’s wines are pure, well-balanced, and honest representations of the fruit and terroir, often remaining low in alcohol and not seeing much added SO2. Drake hand fills and corks his wines, with production incredibly limited and often reserved for mailing list clients or restaurants. Though Chris passed away in 2014, his vision and passion live on through Drake to this day.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Pence Ranch Clone 828 Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 13.49% ABV

The 2016 Pence Ranch Clone 828 Pinot Noir is translucent pale ruby in color. Once this opens up, the nose displays aromas of ripe red cherry, wild raspberry, forest floor, stemmy underbrush, mint, dusty dried rock, and light baking spice. Moving to the palate, the wine showcases notes of strawberry, black cherry, cranberry, licorice, tobacco, loamy earth, white pepper, and green herbs and vegetation. This is light- to medium-bodied with medium acidity, light tannins, and a medium (+) finish. Would love to revisit this wine with a few more years of bottle age.

Price: $68. Whitcraft Pinot Noirs are some of my favorites out of California, and while they don’t have that opulence found in a lot of cult Cali Pinots I think they strike up right with some of the big dogs and therefore make a good value play. Pair with grilled duck breast, herb-roasted chicken, or goat cheese and salami.

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Outstanding Traditional Rosso di Montalcino

Today’s Story: Biondi-Santi (Tenuta Greppo)

Biondi-Santi (Tenuta Greppo) traces its roots to the mid-1800s when Clemente Santi realized the immense promise of the land and vineyards in the heart of Montalcino. A writer with a profound knowledge of chemistry, Clemente set about crafting wines built for long-term aging and utilized racking and barrel aging techniques that were much more advanced than neighboring producers. Clemente started gaining admiration for his wines, particularly the 1865 vintage of red wine at the 1867 Universal Expo in Paris. After Clemente passed away, his grandson Ferruccio took over and continued the drive of producing age worthy wines with 100% Sangiovese. Though he passed away in 1917, in 1932 Ferruccio was credited with the invention of Brunello di Montalcino by an interministerial commission studying the area.

Ferruccio’s son Tancredi took over management of the estate following his father’s death, quickly becoming an ambassador for Brunello and bringing the wines to new heights. One of the unique practices Tancredi started is the refilling of old bottles of reserve wines, beginning with the 1888 and 1891 vintages in 1927. With Brunello wines at new heights of quality, particularly those of Biondi-Santi, Tancredi’s son Franco eventually took over the estate and brought them to wider audiences. Franco travelled the world tirelessly to showcase the longevity and beauty of his wines, while also growing the estate from 4 hectares to the current 25. Today, Franco’s sons Jacopo and Alessandra work at the estate and are joined by Jacopo’s son Tancredi who marks the seventh generation of family tradition.

The winemaking practices at Biondi-Santi are very traditional, beginning with manual harvesting of fruit and sorting in the vineyards at the end of each row. The fruit is gently crushed for native yeast fermentation in concrete tanks, with the musk pumped over twice daily. Malolactic fermentation occurs under temperature control, lasting 30 days, before the wine is transferred to large Slavonian oak barrels to age. The Brunellos then spend at least 3 years in these barrels before being bottled, where it sits for at least another 6 months before release.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Rosso di Montalcino

100% Sangiovese; 13.5% ABV

The 2015 Rosso di Montalcino is translucent medium garnet in color. This wine showed its best after two hours in the decanter, with the nose showcasing aromas of cherry, dried strawberry, tomato paste, red rose, licorice, tobacco, dried earth, savory herbs, and mocha. Once on the palate, the wine displays notes of cranberry, tart cherry, raspberry, strawberry, violet, leather, tea leaf, woody spice, crushed rock, and underbrush. This is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium fine-grained tannins, and a medium (+) length finish.

Price: $110 (cheaper in Europe). Certainly not cheap (particularly for Rosso di Montalcino) but an outstanding bottle of wine that lives up to the great Biondi-Santi name. This is a very precise wine drinking beautifully now, but the ageability is certainly there. Pair with meat sauce pasta, lamb with rosemary, or Pecorino cheese.

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Rasteau That Unfortunately Does Not Live Up to the Hype

Today’s Story: Domaine Gourt de Mautens

Domaine Gourt de Mautens was established by Jérôme Bressy in 1996 and is located in Rasteau of Southern Rhône. Though Bressy’s family owned vineyards in Rasteau for some time, the small AOC was not incredibly well-known. Jérôme’s father Yves converted his vineyards to organic viticulture in 1989 which allowed Jérôme to inherit healthy vines (30-100 years old) and soils for his first vintage, though he quickly took this a step further and started practicing biodynamic farming (later certified in 2008). The domaine consists of 13 hectares with chalky top soil composed of rocky clay and marl, largely attributed to the fact that water tends to flow toward the domaine following a storm. The name itself comes from “a place where the water flows” (Gourt) and “storm or bad weather” (Mautens). Bressy’s vines struggle due to poor nutrients in the soil, however, and produce low yields of 10-15 hl/ha. All harvesting is manual, and the fruit is sorted three times before beginning natural yeast fermentation. After the wines age, they are bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Vaucluse Rouge

Blend of Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Counoise, Cinsault, Vaccarèse, and Terret Noir; 16% ABV

The 2016 Vaucluse Rouge is opaque medium to deep purple in color. This needs some generous time in the decanter to open up, but once it does the nose showcases aromas of black plum, crème de cassis, black raspberry, fig, black licorice, crushed rock, mild herbs, and black pepper. There’s also a slight sting of alcohol. Once on the palate, the wine shows notes of black cherry, candied strawberry, spiced plum, violet, light smoke, savory herbs, and milk chocolate. This is full-bodied with medium acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $60. This is not my style of wine. It comes across rather big, sweet, and boozy (though I will say the ABV surprisingly doesn’t throw off the balance too much). It drinks more like a cocktail to me, and though I hoped saving some wine for day 2 would be better, it is all too much the same. Perhaps this is a vintage (or off bottle) story, but I don’t think it lives up to the hype.

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Incredible Quality Just Outside Ribera del Duero

Today’s Story: Galia

Galia was established in 2009 as a personal project of vigneron Jérôme Bougnaud with the partnership of Daniel García-Pita of El Regajal. Though Jérôme comes from a lineage of winemakers in Cognac, France, he works extensively in Spain and particularly along the Duero River and just outside the official borders of Ribera del Duero in Castilla y León. Galia’s vineyards consist of relatively small parcels and are scattered along the river within the provinces of Soria, Burgos, and Valladolid. Most of these vineyards sit at 795-1,000m above sea level and consist of old vines aging 50-100+ years old. Jérôme practices organic viticulture and all fruit is harvested manually before going through whole cluster or partial whole cluster natural fermentation. The wines age in 15% new French oak barrels before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Since many of these wines are bottled as Vino de Mesa because the vineyards lay outside established D.O.s, they can be an outstanding play for value given the incredible yet “under the radar” quality of land.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Le Dean

99% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo), 1% Albillo; 15% ABV

The 2015 Galia Le Dean is opaque medium to deep ruby in color with deep purple hues. Once this opens up (I gave it 3 hours in the decanter), the nose showcases aromas of dusty cherry, plum, dried fig, leather, pipe tobacco, forest floor, dried herbs, and cedar. Once in the mouth, the wine displays notes of black cherry, brambleberry, licorice, tobacco, loamy earth, chunky crushed rock and clay, underbrush, and chocolate. This is medium- to full-bodied with medium acidity, medium (+) tannins, and a long finish. 758 bottles produced.

Price: $55. Very high quality and well-made for the price, with the depth and balance (you can’t even tell this is 15% ABV) pushing this into the good value category. Pair with roasted lamb, suckling pig, or charcuterie.

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Fun and Delicious Grower Champagne

Today’s Story: Domaine Francis Orban

Domaine Francis Orban was established in 1929 by Léopold Orban in the small village of Leuvrigny, not too far from Epernay. Though Léopold initially sold his fruit to the larger houses of Epernay, he decided to branch out and make his own wines as one of the first Grower Champagne houses in Leuvrigny. The domaine today spans 18 acres of vineyards between Leuvrigny and Sainte-Gemme, with 90% planted to Pinot Meunier and vines averaging 30-40 years old. The vineyards are farmed utilizing sustainable viticulture, harvesting is done completely by hand, and fermentation is accomplished using only indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks. In the NV bottlings, about 50% of the blend is comprised of reserve wines. Francis Orban is today’s 4th generation steward of the domaine, following the footsteps of his great-grandfather Léopold, grandfather Gaëtan, and father Pol.

Today’s Wine: NV Champagne Extra Brut

100% Pinot Meunier; 12% ABV

The Champagne Extra Brut is transparent deep gold in color. On the nose, I get aromas of yellow apple skins, golden pear, brioche, white pepper, almond, clay, and mineral. Once in the mouth, the wine showcases notes of lemon citrus, green apple, toasted nuts, toast, crushed rock, and cream. This is very dry and medium-bodied with high acidity and a crisp, refreshing finish.

Price: $45. Great QPR with this one, which tends to be the case with almost every grower Champagne I’ve had over the years. This wine is also incredibly fun to try, not simply for the fact it is 100% Pinot Meunier (typically a blending variety in Champagne) but also because it is Extra Brut with dosage of 3 g/l. Drink this on its own or pair with caviar or shrimp.

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Outstanding Value With a Long Life Ahead

Today’s Story: Mastroberardino

I previously wrote about Mastroberardino when I reviewed the 1968 Taurasi Riserva in An Italian Legend early this year.

Mastroberardino is a family-operated winery founded in 1878 in Atripalda within the Provincia di Avellino in the Campania region of southern Italy. While widely known for their production of Taurasi DOCG, Mastroberardino further cemented themselves into Italian viticultural history through tireless efforts to identify and protect native ancient varieties in Campania, particularly those formerly grown in Pompeii. For instance, Mastroberardino was selected by the Italian government in 1996 to oversee the Villa dei Misteri project in Pompeii where they replanted vineyards destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79 using the same plans, varieties, viticulture, and winemaking practices of that period in time. Though the winery has had its ups and downs over time (including near collapse following WWII due to economic hardship, phylloxera, neglect, and even family feuds), Antonio Mastroberardino resurrected his family’s legacy and helped build the winery into what it is today: a standard bearer of winemaking in southern Italy. Traditionalists in style, Mastroberardino continues to make some of Italy’s most historically important wines with Antonio’s son Piero now at the helm.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Taurasi Radici

100% Aglianico; 13.5% ABV

The 2015 Taurasi Radici is opaque medium to deep ruby in color with deep garnet variation near the rim. I gave this a couple hours to open up, allowing the nose to blossom into aromas of black cherry, ripe plum, strawberry, licorice, game, dusty dried earth, crushed rock, cedar, chocolate, and cracked pepper. Once in the mouth, the wine displays notes of blackberry, black raspberry, cassis, anise, violet, tobacco, loamy soil, granite, coffee grounds, smoke, mild vanilla, and rocky mineral. This is medium- to full-bodied with medium (+) acidity, high tannins, and a long finish. Drinks with remarkable depth, complexity, and character now but will only be better in five years and beyond.

Price: $40 (I got a steal at $29). At $40 this is a great value and I do not use the term “steal” lightly when I realize and appreciate I only paid $29 for this experience. This is one of those wines that I could be completely comfortable stockpiling for enjoyment over the decades to come. Pair with wild boar, roasted lamb, or smoked and spicy charcuterie with Pecorino cheese.

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Tasty Gewurztraminer From Centuries of Tradition

Today’s Story: Maison Trimbach

Maison Trimbach is one of the most notable winemakers in Alsace, established in 1626 by Jean Trimbach. Today Trimbach is under the guidance of Hubert Trimbach and his nephews Jean and Pierre, rounding out 12 generations of family ownership and shared knowledge. Pierre’s daughter Anne, the oldest of the 13th generation, also now works in the family business. Though Trimbach’s world recognition greatly expanded in 1898 when Frédéric Emile Trimbach earned the highest marks at the International Wine Fair in Brussels, Trimbach is largely famous for the legendary Clos Sainte Hune vineyard. Located in the Rosacker Grand Cru vineyard, Clos Ste Hune has belonged to the Trimbach family for over two centuries and produces some of the most exquisite Alsatian Riesling in existence.

The Trimbach estate consists of 40 hectares encompassing 50 parcels across six villages that include Bergheim, Ribeauvillé, and Hunawihr. Trimbach also operates as a négociant business to produce additional non-estate wines. All of Trimbach’s winegrowing practices are sustainable and they try to preserve the natural environment of the vineyards. Trimbach practices close pruning and soil tilling while encouraging moderate yields and rigorous fruit selection come harvest which is accomplished entirely by hand. When the grapes are gently crushed at the winery, juices flow via gravity and Pierre vinifies and matures the wines adhering to centuries of tradition with both finesse and focus on the terroir. After being bottled each spring, the wines are released by maturity with some spending 5 to 7 years in the cellars to achieve balance before release.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Gewurztraminer

100% Gewurztraminer; 14% ABV

The 2016 Gewurztraminer is transparent medium gold in color. On the nose, I get aromas of tangerine, peach, lemon curd, rose, beeswax, and petrol. The palate is quite vibrant and lively, with notes of mandarin, grapefruit, pear, ginger, white florals, herbs, and mineral. This wine is medium- to full-bodied with medium acidity and a dry, long finish.

Price: $24. I think this is fairly priced and a pretty solid representation for the variety. Pair this with foie gras, Munster cheese, or apple streusel.

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Legendary Aged Barolo Just Past Its Prime

Today’s Story: Giacomo Borgogno & Figli

Borgogno is one of the most legendary, time-tested producers in Piedmont, producing Barolo since their founding by Bartolomeo Borgogno in 1761. Though the estate always produced quality wines, it was Cesare Borgogno who launched the estate to new heights when he took over in 1920 by exporting the wines to Argentina, Europe, and the United States. Cesare also initiated the practice of keeping half of the Barolo Riserva production in their cellars for 20 years before release. When Cesare passed away in 1968, the estate went to his granddaughter Ida and her future husband Franco Boschis with the couple joined by their children Cesare and Giorgio in 1984. In 2008, the Farinetti family acquired the winery and remains set on maintaining the rich traditional practices of the Borgogno and Boschis families to this day.

Today, Borgogno consists of roughly 38 hectares with 8 hectares made up of woodlands and 31 hectares planted to vine. Roughly 60% of the vineyards are planted to Nebbiolo, with the balance planted to Dolcetto, Barbera, and Freisa aside from 2 hectares of Riesling and 3 hectares of Timorasso. The estate also owns vines in the famous Barolo Crus of Liste, Cannubi, Cannubi San Lorenzo, Fossati, and San Pietro delle Viole. In 2015 and 2016, Borgogno commenced a shift to organic viticulture and does not use any chemical fertilizers or herbicides in the vineyards. The traditional methods of winemaking remain in place, with wines experiencing long spontaneous fermentation in concrete tanks without selected yeasts and long aging in large Slavonian oak barrels.

Today’s Wine: 1961 Barolo Riserva

100% Nebbiolo; 13.5% ABV

The 1961 Barolo Riserva is translucent and pale tawny in color clinging onto pale garnet in the bowl of the glass. The nose is decidedly tertiary, with aromas of earthy mushroom, musty cellar, dried tobacco, black tea leaf, smoked game, and tar leading the way with incredibly faint dried rose petal, cherry, and dusty raspberry in the backdrop. On the palate, the wine displays notes of forest floor, dried underbrush, truffle, leather, black cherry, fig, rose, anise, and faint cinnamon. This is medium-bodied with medium acidity, light tannins, and a medium finish. While still showcasing textbook aged Barolo characteristics, this is certainly past its prime and I would’ve loved to try this 5 years ago.

Price: $200. This is a bottle for a fun tasting experience, but while it is drinking decently well for the age I do not think it’s worth the price paid because this is past its prime. Pair with veal and truffles, pheasant, or delicate mild cheeses.

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High Quality New Zealand Pinot Noir

Today’s Story: Fromm Winery

Fromm Winery was established in 1992 by Georg Fromm and winemaker Hätsch Kalberer, with the intent of producing European-styled wines of Pinot Noir, Syrah, Malbec, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer. The vineyards and wines are 100% organic, and Fromm believes in allowing the fruit and terroir to speak for themselves rather than being heavy-handed in the cellar. The vineyards are densely planted, they do not use any artificial chemicals, and refrain from irrigating the vineyards so the vines struggle and produce quality, terroir-driven fruit. Though Georg Fromm returned to his native Switzerland in 2008 to tend to his family winery, Fromm Winery today is under the watchful eyes of family friend and owner Pol Lenzinger, co-owner Stephan Walliser, and George Walliser.

Today’s Wine: 2017 Cuvée H Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 13.5% ABV

The 2017 Cuvée H Pinot Noir is pale to medium ruby in color and translucent. Once this opens up, the nose showcases aromas of black cherry, strawberry, licorice, forest floor, gravel, mixed herbs, mild baking spice, and vanilla. On the palate, the wine displays notes of plum, pomegranate, wild raspberry, strawberry licorice, lightly smoked game, loamy earth, finely crushed rock, and light oak. This is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium (-) tannins, and a medium (+) finish.

Price: $35. This wine offers great QPR, drinking with both quality and depth while coming across quite Burgundian in style. Pair with roasted chicken, Beef Wellington, or quail.

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Outstanding Napa Sauvignon Blanc

Today’s Story: Lail Vineyards

Lail Vineyards was established in 1995 by Robin Daniel Lail, though her family’s history of winemaking in Napa Valley spans much further back in time. Robin is the great-grandniece of Captain Gustave Niebaum who founded Inglenook Vineyards in 1879, and his dedication to quality not only yielded some of the greatest wines in Napa but in the world at the time. After Gustave passed away in 1908, Robin’s father John Daniel, Jr. picked up the reigns having grown up in the vineyards of Rutherford with an appreciation for the land and winemaking. During Prohibition, Inglenook stopped producing wine and sold their fruit to Beaulieu Vineyard who were selling sacramental wine to the church. Following Prohibition’s repeal, John Daniel, Jr. resumed winemaking at Inglenook and produced some of the greatest Cabernet Sauvignon throughout the world until he sold the property in 1964. Though there was a gap between the sale of Inglenook and beginning of Lail Vineyards, Robin never let her passion for winemaking wane. She worked alongside Robert Mondavi during the 1970s who helped mentor her and tell her of her family’s significance in the Napa Valley, and she co-founded Dominus with Christian Moueix in the early 1980s and Merryvale with Bill Harlan in the late 1980s and early 1990s. When Robin decided to take her passion and dedication to her family’s history further, she and her husband Jon established Lail Vineyards and brought along renowned winemaker Philippe Melka.

Today Lail Vineyards consists of two estate vineyards, Totem and Mole Hill. The Totem vineyard is 2.5 acres and was part of the original Inglenook Vineyards in Yountville. In 2006 and 2007, the Merlot planted in Totem was t-budded to Sauvignon Blanc. The Mole Hill vineyard, on the other hand, is 3 acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon between 1600-1700 feet in elevation on Howell Mountain.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Blueprint Sauvignon Blanc

100% Sauvignon Blanc; 14.3% ABV

The 2018 Blueprint Sauvignon Blanc is completely transparent medium straw/yellow in color with water white variation. On the beautifully delicate nose I get aromas of lemon and lime zest, pineapple, mango, honeysuckle, freshly cut grass, saline mineral, and dried vanilla. Once on the palate, the wine displays notes of apricot, grapefruit, peach, honeydew melon, white florals, dried herbs, white pepper, and mineral. This is medium-bodied with high acidity and a lush, well-rounded mouthfeel into a crisp and refreshing finish. 1,342 cases produced.

Price: $40 from winery (I paid $35 retail). This is an outstanding Sauvignon Blanc that certainly punches above its price-point. The depth, complexity, and quality of fruit here makes this a necessity to try and I see this drinking even better over the coming five years. Pair with Dover sole, oysters, or pesto chicken.

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Incredible QPR From Chianti Classico

Today’s Story: Castello di Monsanto

Castello di Monsanto is a family-owned estate and winery in the Barberino Tavarnelle municipality of Chianti Classico. Aldo Bianchi was born in San Gimignano, however he left before WWII to seek opportunities in northern Italy. When Aldo visited Chianti again, however, he fell in love with Castello di Monsanto and purchased the property. It was Aldo’s son Fabrizio, however, who through a love of wine and entrepreneurial spirit realized the potential of their terroir and produced their first wine in 1962 using fruit from the Il Poggio vineyard. This was a special endeavor, not simply for it being the first Monsanto wine, but because it was the first single-vineyard Chianti Classico Cru. Fabrizio did, however, make a Chianti Classico Riserva in 1962 as well. As time passed Fabrizio augmented the Monsanto portfolio with Fabrizio Bianchi Sangioveto Grosso (100% Sangiovese in 1974), Nemo (100% Cabernet Sauvignon in 1981), Fabrizio Bianchi Chardonnay (in 1990), and more. Today, Fabrizio’s daughter Laura (who joined in 1989) works alongside him at Monsanto to carry the estate onto another generation.

To learn more about Castello di Monsanto and view pictures of the vineyards, cellar, and castello, check out the website here.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Chianti Classico Riserva

90% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo and Colorino; 14% ABV

The 2016 Chianti Classico Riserva is mostly opaque medium ruby in color with garnet hues. I decanted this for 2 hours thanks to its youth, and the nose showcases aromas of ripe cherry, cranberry, plum, anise, loamy earth, tar, savory herbs, and light oak. Once on the palate, the wine displays notes of brambleberry, dusty black raspberry, pomegranate, black cherry, tobacco, crushed rocky soil, mild baking spice, coffee bean, and oak. This is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium (+) dusty tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $25. Outstanding QPR, and one of those wines to buy by the case to stock in your cellar. This is incredibly young but approachable with air, and will drink well for another decade or two at least. Pair with pasta bolognese, ossobucco, or meat lover’s pizza.

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Powerful Zinfandel-Based Blend From Sonoma County

Today’s Story: Bedrock Wine Co.

Bedrock Wine Co. was established in 2007 by Morgan Twain-Peterson in a converted chicken coop in his friend’s backyard. Though Bedrock has grown over the years, Morgan stays true to a mission of working with respected growers throughout the state of California in preserving and breathing new life into old vineyards dating to the late 1800s and early 1900s. Working with vineyards from Contra Costa County, Sonoma Valley, Oakville, Lodi, the Russian River Valley, and beyond, Morgan produces wines with Zinfandel, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, Grenache, Semillon, Gewurztraminer, Trousseau Gris, and Riesling. He also works with a handful of other varieties and is always on the hunt for more to explore. Though his blends can seem pretty eclectic, Morgan keeps his winemaking simple by gently handing the fruit, fermenting with whole clusters and only native yeasts, and rarely or never fining the wines.

For more on Bedrock’s history, the vineyards they work with, or the portfolio of wines, check out the website here.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Pagani Ranch Heritage

Zinfandel dominant blend with Alicante Bouschet, Lenoir, Grand Noir, and Petite Sirah (no tech sheet); 14.5% ABV

The 2018 Pagani Ranch Heritage is opaque deep purple in color with dark fuchsia near the rim. I decanted this for about 2 hours, allowing the expressive nose to showcase blackberry, blueberry, plum, anise, leather, chiseled rock, cracked pepper, chocolate, and oak. Once in the mouth, this bold and powerful wine displays notes of black plum, black cherry, cassis, unlit cigar, wet slate, tar, peppery spice, and charred oak. The wine is medium- to full-bodied with medium acidity, medium (+) chewy tannins, and a long finish. Fantastic now with some air, but will only get better with age.

Price: $50. Without a doubt worth the price, but would be immensely more rewarding if you have the patience to lay this down and check on it in another five years. This is a bold, thought-provoking wine that will pair with barbecue pork ribs, bacon-wrapped ribeye steak, or lasagna.

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Traditional Brunello di Montalcino for a Great Value

Today’s Story: Fattoria dei Barbi

Fattoria dei Barbi is a historic estate in Montalcino, founded in 1790 by the Colombini family who were one of the region’s most influential and noble families. Though they established Barbi in 1790, the family owned land in Montalcino dating back to 1352 and first built Poggio alle Mura (now Castello Banfi) and then Argiano. The Colombini family greatly helped build the prestige and quality of Brunello di Montalcino as one of the original producers, with bottles back to 1870 in their cellars today. Barbi was the first Montalcino estate to ship wine to France (1817), by mail order (1832), and to the United States (1962), England (1969), and Japan (1975). Today the estate spans more than 306 hectares and is under guidance of 20th generation family member Stefano Cinelli Colombini.

To learn more about Stefano, this historic estate, or peruse their portfolio of wines, you can visit the website here.

Today’s Wine: 2015 Brunello di Montalcino

100% Sangiovese; 14.5% ABV

The 2015 Brunello is medium to deep garnet in color and mostly opaque. Given a couple hours to decant, the wine blossoms to showcase a nose of black cherry, redcurrant, dried strawberry, cedar, tobacco leaf, worn leather, loamy earth, gravel, and savory herbs. Once on the palate, the wine displays notes of plum, juicy blackberry, black raspberry, stemmy tomato paste, blue florals, licorice, tobacco, oregano, espresso, and black pepper. This is medium- to full-bodied with medium acidity, medium (+) grippy tannins, and a long finish.

Price: $45. The 2015 Barbi Brunello di Montalcino is a great value for the region and is beautifully traditional. Give this another 5 years of bottle age and drink it over the following decade. Pair with Bistecca alla Fiorentina, herb-roasted leg of lamb, or Pecorino cheese.

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Textbook New World Viognier

Today’s Story: Cristom Vineyards

Cristom Vineyards was founded in 1992 by Paul and Eileen Gerrie in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA of the Willamette Valley. Established out of an appreciation of winemaking, the land, and Burgundy’s concept of terroir, Cristom is known for their estate Pinor Noirs. Cristom consists of eight estate vineyards totaling just over 100 acres, four of which are planted to Pinot Noir (Eileen, Jessie, Louise, and Marjorie) and four that are planted to Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Viognier, and Syrah. Cristom’s vineyards are all certified sustainable and carefully tended such that come harvest all fruit is as healthy and expressive of the terroir as possible. Cristom winemaker Steve Doerner practices minimal intervention in the cellar and wines are fermented whole cluster with native yeasts, all in an effort to produce high quality and elegant wines with a sense of place.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Estate Viognier

100% Viognier; 14% ABV

The 2016 Estate Viognier is pale straw/yellow in color with medium gold and water white hues. On the nose, I get aromas of tangerine, white peach, honeysuckle, toffee, vanilla bean, and saline mineral. Once in the mouth, the wine showcases notes of apricot, mango, peach, white florals, wax, and herbs with an almost medicinal character. This is medium- to full-bodied with medium (-) acidity and an oily mouthfeel into a rounded, long finish. 978 cases produced.

Price: $30 average (I paid $22). I would surely pay $30 for this, because it is a great example of New World Viognier, but I can call it a value much closer to the $22 I paid. There wasn’t as much depth in this that I hoped for. Pair with quail, lobster, or sea bass.

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Tasty Bordeaux Blend to Broaden Your Palate

Today’s Story: Viñas de la Erre

Viñas de la Erre is a family owned and operated winery established in Valle de Guadalupe in 2009. The Erre family acquired the Hacienda San Martín Caballero back in 1985, however it functioned mostly as a family farm and way for the family to expand their legacy in Guadalupe. In 2008, however, Claudio met Rogelio Morales who was then cellar manager and assistant winemaker at Spring Mountain Winery in Napa and they struck up a friendship. When Rogelio and his family visited the Erre’s in Valle de Guadalupe, Rogelio realized the potential of the land for winegrowing and offered to help mentor the change from farming to winemaking. Since fully launching in 2014, Viñas de la Erre practices full estate bottling (similar to Spring Mountain) and winegrower Ernesto I. Rocha, enologist Rogelio, and vineyard manager Claudio work to craft premium estate wines. Together as a team they sustain the vineyards, hand harvest all fruit, and monitor the winemaking process from fermentation to barrel aging and bottling.

Today’s Wine: 2013 Selección de Tintos Reserva

68% Cabernet Franc, 16% Petite Verdot, 12% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon; 13.8% ABV

The 2013 Selección de Tintos Reserva is opaque deep ruby in color. I recommend giving this a good 45 minute decant before enjoying. The nose showcases aromas of black cherry, blackberry, tobacco, scorched earth, dried herbs, black pepper, chocolate, and oak. Once on the palate, I get notes of black plum, blackcurrant, black raspberry, anise, sweet tobacco, rocky earth, underbrush, and light baking spice. This is medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium tannins, and a medium (+) finish.

Price: $31. This drinks right around it’s price-point, but I’d love to see this closer to $22-25 per bottle. I noticed during some research this sold for $42 at one point, which I believe is definitely too high. Pair with roasted pork, beef burgers, or pepper-crusted steak.