Wine Reviews: Chablis

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-05-2022

Chablis has long been one of my favorite wines. As a lover of all things oceanic, I feel for these wines when I discovered them as a young 20-something. The best ones reminded me of oyster shells, lemon slices, and getting rolled around beneath the waves. I was hooked.

All these years later, I still keep up with them, checking in on the vintage, preparing wines for summer seafood and gatherings with other Chablis-loving friends. And after a good day of surfing, in my book there is nothing better than a crisp, nervy Chablis.

So I was happy to receive a few Chablis releases for this report, thee “entry-level” Chablis wines that overdeliver, and a 1er Cru. I’d be stoked to have any of these on my table this spring with some seafood and good company.

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

Wine Reviews: California New Releases

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 02-26-2022

This week, I’m looking at some new California wines that offer a broad spectrum of price points and styles.

I’ve really been impressed with a lot of the 2019s I’ve been tasting from Napa and Sonoma, and I think the two Shafer wines in this report really show the excellence of this vintage. The wines show such depth and aging potential, but a ton of freshness, too – it’s that liveliness that makes me want to buy and hold 2019s.

Sonoma-Cutrer offers up a bright 2021 rosé, and Napa’s Frank Family delivers another solid vintage of their Carneros Chardonnay.

There are some Cabs from Josh Cellars in the mix as well, which provide reliable value wines to consumers all over. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: Oregon’s Applegate Valley

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 02-13-2022

Source: Troon Vineyard

The Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon seems like a wonderful place. A traditional orchard fruit growing zone with a long winemaking history, this area received its American Viticultural Area designation (AVA) in 2000, and it is a sub-appellation within the Rogue Valley. Today there are some 700 acres under vine, and the area’s climate provides warn sunny days and cold nights. The Kubli Bench zone offers diverse, well-drained soils. And the winemakers that call this place home seem set on creating unique, pure wines.

I’ve been tasting (and really enjoying) wines from Troon Vineyard since 2017, and their wines continue to impress. This producer is always trying new things, new blends, new styles, and evolving with the times while staying true to their biodynamic farming and winemaking style. The amphorae-aged offerings in this report show how they continue to seek out exciting wines for a new generation of consumers.

Schmidt Family Vineyards is a neighbor of Troon’s, and this is my first foray into their wines. Owned by Cal and Judy Schmidt, this Kubli Bench winery planted its first estate vines in 2001, and their first vintage was 2004. They’ve since grown to about 5,500 cases per year, and boast a nice mix of varietals. I was excited to review a diverse lineup of their wines, and found a lot of personality and value from this producer.

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

Wine Reviews: Virginia White Wines

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 02-05-2022

Virginia is on my mind this weekend. I’m off for yet another solo winter hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and I recently tasted through some beautiful Virginia wines.

Long-time readers have heard me rave about Virginia wines for many years, and it’s been interesting to see how the perception of Virginia wine has improved, in other wine media and the public at large. The landscape has shifted so much, and there’s way more out there than some zippy Cab Francs and rich Viogniers.

The Virginia Governor’s Cup Awards each year have been an exciting way to promote the state’s wines, and next month we’ll know the 12 winners of 2022. I think we could likely see some of the producers featured in this report on that list. I love some Bordeaux blends, Cab Francs, and have a soft spot for VA Petit Verdot, but this report is all white wines (and a sparkler). The diversity of styles and flavors in just this small gathering of wines really speaks to Virginia’s strengths.

And, hey, if you’re looking to explore wines from the commonwealth, Valentine’s Day coming up. Virginia is for (wine)lovers. These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: Italian Value

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 01-29-2022

These days, it seems everything costs more. In the wine world, so many producers I once bought and loved have gotten too expensive for me.

Finding good wine for little money is a passion of mine, and I love scoping all sorts of wine from Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Southwest France and more. Italy is a fount of wines that show a sense of their place without a huge price tag. From Abruzzi to Veneto, this week I have a range of interesting and delicious Italian wines, all for less than $25.

These wines were received as trade samples and all the reds were tasted single-blind. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine Reviews: Merry Edwards’ 2019s

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 01-22-2022

Merry Edwards’ wines likely need no introduction. The reputation of this winery is hard-earned and well-deserved. And I’m always excited to taste new releases from this Sonoma producer.

Year-in, year-out, the wines deliver, and the style and quality have remained remarkably consistent. On cold nights like the ones we’ve been having in the Mid-Atlantic, a Merry Edwards Pinot Noir is always a great call. From years of introducing friends and family to these wines, I can confirm they are universally loved.

I recently tasted through the 2019s, and — wow. A very solid growing season led to beautiful wines in the glass, deep but fresh, and the balance and staying power is there. I can’t wait to taste more 2019 Sonoma Pinots and see how they improve in the cellar.

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

Wine Reviews: Montecucco Sangiovese

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 01-15-2022

Oh, to be travelling to Tuscany right now! Unfortunately, it’s not in the cards for me anytime soon, but tasting through some delightful Sangiovese-based wines recently, I was transported, at least briefly, from my home office.

Between Brunello di Montalcino and Morellino di Scansano, I have less experience with the wines from this area compared to some of neighbors. But that needs to change, as these wines offer their own unique signature on Sangiovese, and a lot of value.

Grown in vineyards on the southwest slopes of Monte Amiata (opposite the Brunello slopes), and the region shares a similar climate. The wines are between 60-90% Sangiovese, depending on the DOC or DOCG. Last year, the region’s consortium released a study showing 85% of the Montecucco Sangiovese DOCG production was certified organic, higher than other neighboring regions. President of the consortium and winemaker Giovan Battista Basile says the goal is to increase organic production in the future.

In the glass, these wines really deliver some depth, vibrancy and personality. If you haven’t checked out Montecucco wines before, and can find some, they’re worth investigation for sure. Especially when compared to some of their neighbors, the value to be found out here is really exciting. Dig in!

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

Wine Reviews: California and Arizona

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 01-09-2022

I hope your new year is off to a good start. I’m starting off the year with some wines from two places I love, California and Arizona.

Mendocino County is a place I’ve spent enough time visiting to realize, again and again: I need to spend more time here. The gnarly coast is one of my favorite places, and the wines from all the different AVAs have a lot to offer. I’ve been paying close attention to Mendocino wines over the past 15 years, and there’s a lot to offer. Meyer Family is a good one to check out – based in the Yorkville Highlands, and they also have a tasting room in Mendocino. I first tasted a 2003 Syrah from them that rocked me, and it was a pleasure to revisit their recent offerings.  

I also have some delicious wines from Sonoma, including an interesting white blend Sosie and a banger of a Cab-based red from Hamel Family. I also have a bright, zesty Monterey Pinot Noir that wowed me.

For the first time in two years, I traveled out of my region, and visited family in Arizona over the holidays. I’m a big fan of Arizona wines, and bought some Page Springs Cellars and Dos Cabezas ahead of time for the family dinners. (The wines were great.) The landscape in Arizona fascinates me so, and I’ve spent countless hours hiking and climbing in the desert mountains. And I love that, turns out, a lot of cool people make really good wine out there, too. Most of the winelands are in higher elevation sites, there are always mountains nearby, and winemakers working with diverse grapes and styles. Two wines from Aridus are represented here. Based in Willcox, their wines are more widely available than some others. If you ever find yourself in Old Town Scottsdale, their tasting room is a nice place and a fun visit.

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

Wine Reviews: Year-End Selections

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-18-2021

As a long year winds down, I hope you have some nice bottles lined up to share with loved ones. With the holidays in full swing, I’m taking a break from sparkling wines and focusing on some wines that offered me a chance to travel. In my mind at least; I’ve been cooped up for a long time. But there are places I want to visit and wine regions I want to dig into, and tasting wine always gets me thinking and planning.

I’ve long been a fan of wines from Argentina, and I recently tasted through several wines that reminded me that there’s a lot more to explore. The value to be found there has always attracted me, but more and more I’m finding wines that show a whole lot more depth and nuance than I expected. Oh, to visit one day!

Chile is another country I have had on my list. Surfing the coast, climbing some mountains, and visiting the wine regions in between, it’s a bucket list trip I plan to take one day. But, in these pandemic times, some delightful reds from Chile offered a peek into a beautiful country.

I also have three wines that could only come from Southwest France. With some many varied appellations and styles, I always enjoy trying to dig into the diversity and history of the wines from this region. With a host of indigenous varieties, plenty of value to find, and a fascinating winemaking culture and history, the three wines in this report are barely scratching the surface.

An inexpensive red from Veneto and an impressive Napa Cab round out this report.

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

Wine Reviews: Holiday Selections

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-12-2021

It’s been a long year. Whatever holidays you may be celebrating, I wish you and yours safety, joy, and good food and wine.

So, this week I have some selections that are all over the map. I tried to curate some samples that would please crowds, provide joy and pair well with celebrations and wintry foods.

Like many of you, I’m sure, I love bubbles year-round. But, of course, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, bubbles are huge, and I have a nice mix in here. From inexpensive tank method bubbles through some delightful Champagnes.

Domaine Bousquet brings its Charmat method bubbles, which are the best-selling bubbles from Argentina and are inexpensive, accessible and fun. Lanson delivers three different Champagne options that offer a nice view of their approach, while Bruno Paillard delivers, as always. And California’s Frank Family brings two different Champagne method sparklers to the table.

There are some also deep, juicy, warm reds, too, from California’s Smith Madrone, Sullivan and Tooth & Nail.

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