Wine Reviews: Rosé

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 05-23-2020

It’s the unofficial start to “summer” here in the northern hemisphere this weekend. But what even is summer in these pandemic times? My plans for everything are cancelled, but I’m healthy and thankful.

And the annual arrival of new rosé wines offers some sense of normalcy amidst the chaos. I’ve been receiving a lot of new pink wines from France and America, new and old (to me) wines that offer some solace in these strange times, which are reviewed below.

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

Wine Reviews: California Chardonnay & Pinot Noir

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 05-09-2020

Happy weekend, wine-lovers. I hope you’re all as safe and well as can be expected during these chaotic times. I’m back this week with two of my first wine loves: California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

My palate will always favor the more “Burgundian” styles, but I also enjoy and respect the juicier, darker styles as well. This report has a nice mix of producers, regions and styles. There are some serious values in here as well.

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

Wine Reviews: California New Releases

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-25-2020

Happy Saturday, folks. I hope you’re all healthy and handling these pandemic times as well as can be expected. I’m still receiving lots of samples, and the delivery drivers have been great about social distancing, and I’m making sure to wash my hands after handling wine boxes!

Over these past few weeks at home, I’ve been receiving a lot of samples from California, mostly from producers I know well.

We’ve got some interesting Albarino from Lodi worth checking out, and a delicious Sonoma Roussanne as well. Even if you’re like me, and skeptical of Napa Sauv Blanc, Galerie’s Naissance Sauvignon Blanc is something really special. I also have some Napa Cabernets that deliver a lot of goodness and value.

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

Wine Reviews: Black Kite Cellars

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-18-2020

This week, I’m highlighting a California producer that I’ve enjoyed over the years: Black Kite Cellars.

Based in Mendocino’s Pinot capital of Anderson Valley, Black Kite produces a range of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from single vineyards in the Anderson Valley, Santa Lucia Highlands and Sonoma. Started in 2003, co-founders Rebecca and Tom Birdsall were inspired by a bike trip through Burgundy. And Rebecaa’s parents had purchased a plot of land near the Navarro River in Anderson Valley in 1995, which would become home to their estate vineyards. The wines are made by Jeff Gaffner, who worked at Chateau St. Jean and Arrowood.

The Pinots show a juicy, fruity, but floral and spicy style, each with unique signatures of its vineyard. The Chardonnays are mouthwatering and delicious, treated the same way in the cellar, spending 16 months in 1/3 new French oak. There’s a lot of nuance and complexity in these wines, and they’re worth exploring if you like California Pinot and Chardonnay.

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 04-11-2020

I hope you all are well during this pandemic. I’m hanging in there, and, luckily, I have some interesting wines this week to keep me inspired.

From Sicily, Tasca d’Almerita offers up some Sicilian varietal wines. The Tenuta Regaleali estate is located on more than 1,000 acres in the Contea di Sclafani DOC, and it’s the source of fruit (from indigenous Sicilian varieties) for the wines in this report. They’re all marked for suggested retail at around $20, and I think they’re an inexpensive way to explore some of Sicily’s diverse grapes.

From France, we have two vintages of Chateau Lassegue’s St. Emilion Grand Cru. These Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv blends come from 40- to 50-year-old vines, and the wine is aged 12 months in about 70% new French oak.

From Spain, I tasted a delicious Godello and some vibrant Riojas that offer a lot of value.

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

Wine Reviews: Colorado Governor’s Cup

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 04-04-2020

For a few years now, I’ve been tasting the winning wines from Colorado’s Governor’s Cup, and this week, I’m focusing on the 2019 winners.

Colorado has some 150 wineries, which grow grapes in vineyards upwards of 4,000 feet in elevation. Riesling, Rhone varieties, Bordeaux blends, and some quirky, inventive stuff as well, the styles have been all over the map. Each year, I find a few that really pop out and make me think: there’s a lot more to explore here, especially on a trip (whenever we can go on trips again).

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 03-28-2020

The coronavirus pandemic is causing havoc the world over. While tasting wines from Italy, Spain, the United States, I can’t help think of how all these places are being upended by this pandemic. I hope you all are staying safe, taking care of yourselves and each other, and also enjoying some good wine and food at home.

I’ve been trying to cook as much vegetables as I can during these past two weeks of lockdown, and I’ve found myself playing around with lots of Indian and Moroccan spices. Luckily, I had two Pinot Blancs from Alsace to sample that also work really well with the dishes I’ve been slinging. Alsace is where I first fell in love with wine, and it is vibrant, exciting, inexpensive wines like the two in this report that keep me coming back.

This report also includes two wines from Fournier, in Ribera del Duero, which was purchased by Gonzalez Byass in 2019.

And from the U.S. come several Oregon and Washington wines. I’ve been hurling praise at Applegate Valley’s Troon wines for years now. And while I tend to personally enjoy their whites more, these Tannat-based reds are crisp, crunchy and juicy in a way that’s more accessible than most Tannats that I’ve tasted.

Tamarack Cellars offers a whole lot of Washington red goodness for less than $30, and Owen Roe’s wines also make an appearance.

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

Wine Reviews: Alma Fria

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-21-2020

I first tasted Alma Fria’s Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs in 2016, and I knew I had stumbled onto something special.

These West Sonoma Coast wines sport lower alcohol, but plenty of delicious fruit. I love their Chards for this sea spray, salinity that makes me salivate, and their Pinots for the elegant floral, spice and earth tones.

Founder Jan Holtermann comes from a background of wine importing with his family’s business in Costa Rica. But, in 2011, he and his wife Silvia moved their family to Healdsburg, California, to start Alma Fria. They purchased their own vineyard in 2012, the Holtermann Vineyard in Annapolis.

They found a winemaker in Carroll Kemp (also of Red Car), whose children went to the same Kindergarten class in Healdsburg. With vineyard manager Greg Adams (who has worked with other local producers like Lynmar, Patz & Hall) the team was underway. (Click here for a 2016 Terroirist interview with Jan Holtermann.)

 I recently received a batch of some Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from the 2016 and 2017 vintages. Across the board, these wines are fantastic, especially if you’re looking for more sleek, crisp styles. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted single-blind. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: Lodi, California

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-14-2020

I’ve been a fan of wines from Lodi for a long time, and it’s been interesting to follow them for these past ten years or so.

Lodi wines are all about diversity, as the wines in this report show. With old vines, diverse soils, and tons of different grape varieties, winemakers have a lot to work with. There are small lot, old vine, bright and vibrant styles, and large production, jammy, fun styles, and everything in between, really. In addition to all the classic California staples, I enjoy wines made from Spanish, Italian, German and Austrian grapes, too.

And Lodi’s wine trade group has been working hard to promote these wines in the wine community for many years. I think a lot of it has paid off. With an engaged social media presence, a well-done blog, and fascinating projects like the Lodi Native Zinfandels that I first wrote about in 2014, I’m still excited about this region.

I recently had a chance to catch up with Elaine Chukan Brown as she and some other Lodi wine folks were touring the country. I had a great time hearing her passion for the wines of Lodi and the people who make them. I also received some Lodi samples recently, which I included in this report. The wines were all tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: St. Helena

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-07-2020

Sandwiched between Calistoga and Rutherford, the land that now falls in the St. Helena appellation has been at the center of Napa Valley winemaking history since the late 1800s.

In the St. Helena appellation, which dates back to 1995, there are some 6,800 acres of vines, the most of Napa’s AVAs, spread among some 400 different vineyards.

While my favorite Napa wines tend to come from some of the mountain appellations, I’ve loved many a St. Helena wine over the years. So, I was excited about the opportunity to taste several wines from different, respected St. Helena producers, many with long, storied histories.

The diversity of styles and price ranges can be significant. When buying Napa wines in particular, I always try to get a sense of the producer’s style or the vineyard, and which ones speak to me most, before putting down that hard-earned cash. While quality in the wines is high across the board, knowing your personal Napa wine preferences goes a long way.

I was excited to taste wines from producers I know and love like Corison, Ehlers, Pellet, as well as some others I wasn’t familiar with. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »