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 »

Wine Reviews: International Grab Bag

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 06-17-2017

This week we’re focusing on a bunch of wines from all over the world. Most of these wines are inexpensive, easy-drinking wines designed for early consumption, but there are some really impressive bottles in the mix.

We have some solid values from Côtes du Rhône, four interesting wines from the Spanish region of Cariñena, and a few more from Arinzano, a Spanish winery in Aragon that has a D.O. Pago designation and excellent wines to justify it. We also have a few others from Italy, Australia and Argentina thrown into the mix.

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

Searching for America’s Greatest Rieslings

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 06-10-2017

untitlehduntitlehduntitlehduntitlehd“What are we going to do about Riesling?”

Stu Smith, co-founder of the historic Smith-Madrone winery in Napa’s Spring Mountain Districtuntitlehd, is a lover and producer of Riesling, so it was a serious question. Some friends and I had coordinated a blind tasting of American Rieslings, and it just so happened that Stu was in town. The stars aligned, and we all tasted and discussed American Rieslings.

Since the late 1970s, Stu has been crafting Riesling from his Spring Mountain vineyards, a wine I love for its classic riffs on of Riesling’s greatest elements: freshness, purity of fruit, an intriguing mineral presence.

The idea for this tasting stems from a comment I made on Twitter about Smith-Madrone’s Riesling — I got on my soap box and declared it perhaps the greatest American Riesling. Aaron Menenberg, a Virginia-based wine-lover who recently started a blog called Good Vitis, chimed in. Other producers popped up, and I began to realize how many other American Rieslings could be considered “great.” It wasn’t long before we came up with a plan: gather dozens of high-quality American Rieslings and blind taste them. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: New Releases from California & Washington

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 06-03-2017

Good morning, everyone. This week, I have a round-up of recent wines from California and Washington State. There are a few Sauvignon Blancs and Chardonnays from California that represent a good spread on the spectrum of price and style. Napa’s Ehlers Estate impresses with their Bordeaux blends, per usual. And I also received some seriously good value wines from Washington State, which is consistently a good source of wines high in quality and value.

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

Wine Reviews: Douro

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 05-27-2017

Alright folks, let’s dig into the Douro.

Built on centuries of Port glory, recent decades have seen a large spike in the amount of high quality dry reds. Blended from traditional Portuguese varieties like Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, and others, these dry reds can be stunning, age-worthy and very reasonably priced considering the quality.

Yes, you can spend a whole lot on dry Douro reds (some are included in this report), but I’m frequently blown away by the high quality, complexity and serious structure of many red blends in the $15-$25 range. I recently tasted through a bunch of Douro wines, including a range of dry reds and a few entry-level Ports.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: Bobal

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 05-20-2017

Bobal - credit Utiel-Requena dot org

Bobal. Credit: Utiel-Requena.org

Here’s a grape and appellation you may not know much about: Bobal from Utiel-Requena.

At some 2,400 feet in elevation, this appellation in Spain’s Valencia region experiences short, dry summers and a climate that combines Mediterranean and continental elements. This is red wine country — about 95% of the 35,000 hectares of vines are planted to red grape varieties, and the Bobal grape counts for about 80% of Utiel-Requena’s vino.

Even though Bobal is one of Spain’s most commonly-planted varieties (behind Airen and Tempranillo), it’s not as well-known, perhaps due to its use as a blending grape with other varieties. Historically, it has been used in the production of bulk wine, usually sourced from flatter, lower elevation vineyards. But in the higher elevation vineyards of Utiel-Requena, producers take this native grape variety seriously, and it’s evident in the glass.

Bobal is a hardy and highly productive red grape with high levels of anthocyanins and resveratrol in its skins. The grapes tend to be dark colored, packed with black fruit and loaded with spice flavors. I’ve found surprising balance in many Bobal wines, stemming from the combination of sturdy tannins and frequently vibrant acidity. And these wines are even more attractive when you look at the price points.

I recently tasted a half-dozen Bobals, and found a whole lot of wine for not much money. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: Troon Vineyard

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 05-13-2017

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Credit: Troon Vineyard

Southern Oregon is home to some gorgeous wines. Case in point: Troon Vineyard. Dick Troon first planted vines in Applegate Valley back in 1972, and after selling his grapes to other winemakers for years, he decided to build a winery and make his own wines. In 2003, local businessman and wine collector Larry Martin took control of the winery, replanted to some new varieties, and built a new winery and tasting room.

Under the guidance of General Manager Craig Camp and Winemaker Steve Hall, Troon now produces an array of different wines, from Vermentino and Riesling to red blends, Tannat, Zinfandel and Cabernet. In the cellar, Troon focuses on indigenous yeasts, little to no new oak, foot-trodden grapes, and the result are crisp, vibrant, complex wines with deep fruit and rich non-fruit complexity.

Below are my notes on four of Troon’s new releases, which were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: Rosé

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 05-06-2017

I love a crisp, dry rosé any day of the year, but Spring and Summer are prime pink time for obvious reasons. Digging in to the first crop of last vintage’s rosé is fun yearly task, and I’ve got a whole bunch of (mostly) 2016 rosés to get your mouth watering as the weather heats up.

Some of these are very widely available (like the Chronic Cellars, Kim Crawford and Laurent-Perrier Champagne), while some (like the smaller production pinks from Virginia) aren’t easy to find. But here are my notes on a bunch of rosés that 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 04-29-2017

This week we’ve got a hodgepodge of wines from all around the world.

I recently tasted a Chenin and a red blend from a new project called Lubanzi. These are South African wines brought in by two young Americans, Charles Brain and Walker Brown, who fell in love with South African wines (as I did) while traveling around Cape Town. There are so many great winemakers, old vines, and exceptional wines in South Africa, and at such moderate prices. But we don’t get nearly enough of them here, so it’s awesome to see a crew with passion bringing high-quality, value-driven South African vino to the States.

We also have a Locations wines from Dave Phinney and two different Sauvignon Blanc’s from New Zealand’s Nobilo. Lastly, I really liked a zesty, complex dry Furmint from Oremus. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: California New Releases

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-22-2017

There’s a little bit of everything in this catch-all tasting of newly-released wines from California: Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, white blends, Chard, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Malbec, etc.

For my palate, the most impressive wines hail from Sutro, a single-vineyard Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon project located in Alexander Valley. Just wow.

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