Wine Reviews: Virginia Wines

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-13-2017

Stinson is one of my favorite Virginia wine producers, and the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Ankida Ridge have been causing a justifiable stir for a few years now. I recently tasted wines from both producers, and found all sorts of reasons to get excited about the future of Virginia wine. If producers like these keep putting out wines like these, the best is yet to come. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-12-2017

I’m back with another grab bag of wines from all over the world.

I was really surprised by three Greek white wines from Domaine Papagiannakos. Made from the Savatiano grape, traditionally used for the production of Restina, these are dry, zesty, complex white wines with unique flavor profiles.

There are some tasty, inexpensive rosés, and some delicious and value-driven wines from New Zealand.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: Cadaretta

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 08-05-2017

When it comes to delicious red blends, Walla Walla seems inexhaustible. One producer that has popped up on my radar over the years is Cadaretta, whose rich but suave wines I’ve enjoyed and reviewed in the past.

Cadaretta is owned by the Middleton family and their Anderson & Middleton Company, which began in the timber business near the turn of the 20th Century, before expanding into table grapes and, eventually, wine.

Their estate Southwind Vineyard is home to some 60 acres of grapes, with future plantings planned. The wines are made by Kendall Mix, who studied enology and viticulture at UC Davis and has worked at Robert Mondavi, R.H. Phillips. Kendall also spent 10 years making red wines for Washington wine heavyweight Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Canoe Ridge Estate, among other jobs.

These are dark and saucy red wines with a good amount of new oak evident, but they show a lot of complex non-fruit elements and some serious potential for cellaring. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: McIntyre Vineyards

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-29-2017

Steve McIntyre (viticulturist, founder of McIntyre Vineyards) has extensive experience in California’s Central Coast. As owner of Monterey Pacific, his team farms 12,000 acres in Monterey County, and he has planted or farmed nearly a quarter of the vines in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA.

In 1987, Steve purchased an 80-acre site first planted in 1973-acre. This McIntyre Estate Vineyard is the source of some impressive Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and Steve also bottles a larger appellation blend Chardonnay, an old vine rosé, and a Merlot sourced from Arroyo Seco, among others.

This was my first time tasting McIntyre Vineyards’ wine, and I found them delicious, vibrant, showing a tasty mix of rich fruit without being too overt or emblazoned with new oak. They seem like solid examples of the high quality Chardonnay and Pinot that always excites me about the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: Navarra

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-23-2017

This week, I’m delving into a range of wines from the Spanish region of Navarra.

This region, which is located east of La Rioja, is only about 120 miles from north to south and 60 miles east to west, but it shows a wide range of soils and microclimates. With the Pyrenees Mountains to the north and the Bardenas Reales badlands to the south, the average vineyard in Navarra sits at about 1,300 feet in elevation, and growers produce a variety of classic Spanish and international grape varieties.

Most of the wines in this report fall into that “bargain” range of $10-$15, but I found the quality and value to be solid. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: Penner-Ash

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-22-2017

Penner-Ash has earned wide consumer, restaurant and wine media respect for many years, and it’s easy to see why. For decades they have sourced fruit from some stunning Oregon vineyards: their estate vineyard in Yamhill-Carlton, Shea Vineyard, Hyland Vineyard in McMinnville, Zena Crown in Eola Amity Hills. Their wines are what one may call terroir-driven, they are vibrant, complex wines with all sorts of unique nuances.

In a recent blind tasting of American Rieslings (detailed here), Penner-Ash showed quite well with their two Rieslings, a Willamette Valley AVA and one from a Hyland Vineyard-designated Riesling. So I was expecting goodness from the 2015 Riesling, and it delivered.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.  Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: Venica & Venica

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-15-2017

Venica & Venica’s story begins in 1930, when Austrian-born Daniele Venica purchased a small house and property in Dolegna del Collio, in north-eastern Italy. After the ravages of World War 2, he and his son Adelchi worked together to buy up neglected vineyards.

Today, they maintain estate vineyards spread across a 70-acre estate, allowing varieties of local and international grapes to thrive. Adelchi’s sons, Gianni and Giorgio, have carried on the tradition by producing wines that show freshness, minerality, and demand a spot on a table surrounded by food. I couldn’t find an unexciting wine in the bunch, and a few are shockingly good.

I received these wines as trade samples and tasted them sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: KITÁ

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-08-2017

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The Camp 4 Vineyard. Credit: Kita

tara_croppedtara_croppedTara Gomez, winemaker at Kita wines, has been on a tear for years. She crafts an array of wines that all share a similar aesthetic: lower alcohol, crisp acidity, bright fruit, less obvious new oak influence, tons of non-fruit complexity. I’ve been tasting these wines for a few years, and they never fail to thrill my senses.

tara_croppedMost of Kita’s grapes are sourced from the Camp 4 Vineyard, a massive site with more than 250 acres of vines, home to 19 different grape varieties. Originally planted by Fess Parker in 1999, the vineyard was purchased by the Santa Ynez Band of the Chumash Indians in 2010. With a scholarship from the tribe, Tara studied enology Cal State Fresno and went to work at Fess Parker and J. Lohr. She became winemaker of the newly-formed Kita Wines, and says she views making wine from the tribe’s vineyard as a way of giving back to her community.

This sandy loam soil vineyard sits at the easternmost edge of Santa Ynez Valley, close to Happy Canyon, and produces some incredible Rhone and Bordeaux grape varieties. By harvesting with lower potential alcohol, and judicious use of new oak, the vibrancy of Tara’s wines shines through. And the Pinot and Chardonnay she sources from the Santa Rita Hills are also stunning. So if you’re a fan of the “New California Wine” style, you should definitely check out these.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: New Releases from California

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 07-01-2017

This week I’m back with another round-up of new releases from all over California.

The Quilt wines are a new brand from Copper Cane, a Joe Wagner project, sourced from various Napa appellations. This is a higher-level brand, with some gutsy pricing, but the deliciousness delivers. In keeping with the company style of producing bold, decadent wines, these are massive and highly delicious examples.

J. McClelland is producing some exciting wines from Napa’s Oak Knoll appellation, three of which I tasted for this report. Named for John McClelland, who spent 50+ years making wine in California for labels like Steele Canyon Cellars, these are moderately priced but very high quality wines.

The Malibu-based winery Dolin Estate wowed me with two impressive offerings, especially the Blue Note red blend from a Malibu Coast vineyard.  We also have some reliably delicious wines from Napa’s Frank Family, a stunning Cabernet from Grgich Hills, and some Zinfandel from Dry Creek.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: Bird in Hand

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 06-24-2017

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Credit: Bird in Hand

We’re off to the Australia for this week, focusing on Bird in Hand wines. Hailing from the Adelaide Hills appellation, where their vineyards receive cooling influences from the Gulf of St. Vincent and the nearby Mount Lofty Range mountains, these wines are packed with fresh acidity, in addition to gorgeous fruit.

Founded in 1997 on what used to be a dairy farm, Bird in Hand wines are definitely worth checking out if you’re cynical about Australian wines as heavy, low-acid and candied. Bird in Hand is something else entirely.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »