Wine of the Day, No. 528


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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meritage

The Stinson Vineyards Meritage 2015, hailing from the Monticello AVA of Virginia, is a blend of 43 percent merlot, 26 percent cabernet franc, 21 percent petit verdot and 15 percent cabernet sauvignon, aged 20 months in French oak, 35 percent new barrels. The color is dark ruby shading to a brick-red rim; at first, the wine delivers a royal snootful of dusty graphite, loam, lavender and crushed violets, gradually unfurling notes of spiced and macerated red and black currants and plums; it’s a sturdy and well-structured blend that benefits from keen, nervy acidity that plows a furrow on the palate and nicely tempered, slightly velvety tannins, like a comfortable old leather jacket; in fact, there’s a touch of leather here, motes of underbrush, briers and brambles, all in support of dark spicy berry flavors; the finish is sleek, chiseled, almost elegant. 13.5 percent alcohol. The winery is operated by …

Changes to the Flying Cigar


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Anyone possessing a modicum of knowledge about the wine industry in California understands that Randall Grahm, owner and winemaker of Bonny Doon Vineyards, is a protean figure directed by the winds of his intellectual ambitions, philosophical needs and general curiosity. He is typically described as “madcap” and “frenetic.”

Grahm sold his Big House and Cardinal Zin brands to The Wine Group LLC in 2006. Those labels respectively produced about 200,000 cases and 20,000 cases annually. At the same time, Grahm made the 100,000-case Pacific Rim brand, a producer of riesling in Washington state, into a separate operation. In 2011, he sold Pacific Rim to the Mariani family, owners of Banfi Vintners. That brand still concentrates on riesling and has expanded to include the labels Rainstorm, Eufloria, Silver Totem and Sweet Bliss.

The purpose of these downsizing activities has been to allow Grahm to concentrate on his primary obsession, the …

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Wine of the Day, No. 527


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Roald-GSM-Blend-2016

We’ve all tasted Rhone-style red wine blends — or other red wines — that could be described as opulent, succulent, decadent and so on. Thankfully, the Roald Wine Company GSM Blend 2016 isn’t one of those. Originating from Sonoma County’s Chalk Hill AVA and other unspecified regions in California — and hence carrying a California designation — the wine combines 80 percent syrah, 17 percent mourvedre and a mere 3 percent grenache. The color is a beautifully transparent medium ruby-brick red hue; aromas of spiced and macerated currants and cherries are bolstered by notes of briers and brambles and hints of pomegranate and sour cherry; it’s a lean, spare red wine, animated by finely etched acidity that cuts a swath on the palate and moderate tannins that incorporate elements of graphite minerality; the finish is sleek, chiseled, elegant, revealing touches of melon, raspberry leaf and underbrush. 14.5 percent alcohol. …

Wine of the Day, No. 526


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




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The word to describe the Silverado Vineyards Miller Ranch Sauvignon Blanc 2018 is “classic.” The Miller Ranch vineyard lies south of Yountville in Napa Valley and is open to the cooling breezes that creep north from San Pablo Bay. The wine carries a Yountville appellation.  Made all in stainless steel and seeing no malolactic, and with five percent semillon grapes, this sauvignon blanc is fresh, clean and vibrant.  The color is almost no color at all, just a very pale straw-gold hue with a tinge of green; arresting aromas of lime peel, grapefruit, lemongrass and guava are abetted by notes of celery leaf, caraway seed, honeysuckle and, more in the background, an incisive edge of graphite; bright acidity engages the palate, providing an animating factor that carries hints of sunny-leafy fig, yellow plum and tangerine through to a slightly steely finish. 13.9 percent alcohol. Altogether charming …

Wine of the Day, No. 525


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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post scriptum 17

Though it’s a blend of grapes that typically go into sweet Port wines — this is 51 percent touriga nacional, 49 percent touriga franca — the Prats + Symington Post Scriptum de Chryseia 2017, Douro Valley, is a totally dry table wine suited for dishes that presage our Fall and Winter appetites: braised lamb or veal shanks, duck and pork terrines, rabbit fricassee, beef or lamb stew. You get the idea. The label represents a collaboration between Bruno Prats, former owner of and winemaker for the classic Bordeaux estate Chateau Cos d’Estournel, and Charles Symington, head of the family company that owns such distinguished Port houses as Graham’s, Dow’s, Warre’s and Cockburn’s. Lots of pedigree here.  The color is dark ruby, with just a bit of lighter mulberry at the rim; the first impression is of lovely warm, ripe fruit — plums and currants opening to a touch of …

Wine of the Day, No. 524


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Normally, I would hold a review of this wine for a post on pinot noir, offering reviews of perhaps a dozen examples. This one, however, is farrellspecial. The Gary Farrell Vineyards and Winery Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016, Russian River Valley, derives from a 100-acre vineyard in the Green Valley sub-appellation of Russian River Valley. It’s a small and geographically confined area that’s the coolest and foggiest region of Russian River Valley, with a dominant maritime influence. The wine aged 15 months in French oak, 40 percent new barrels. The color is a rich yet totally transparent medium ruby-mulberry hue; the bouquet is a deliriously heady melange of spiced and macerated red cherries and currants, crushed violets and rose petals, sandalwood and cinnamon bark, with undertones of loam and briers; like the aromas, the texture is irresistibly seductive, a lithe, supple fluidity that flows across the palate like cool satin …

Wine of the Day, No. 523


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Lovers of old-fashioned Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon — that is, not over-ripe, not over-oaked, not over-alcoholic — should go online and IMG_3639order some of the Hesperian Wines Cabernet Sauvignon 2015. It’s not cheap, but it’s an exemplar of what mountainside cabernet is all about. One hundred percent varietal, the wine was made half from grapes grown in the winery’s 14.2-acre estate Kitoko Vineyard in Atlas Peak and half from  the Upstream Vineyard in the Coombsville appellation; hence the Napa Valley designation rather than Atlas Peak. It aged 20 months in French oak, 50 percent new barrels. The color is an intense black-ruby hue that shades to a lighter purple rim; the wine offers the notes of heather, sage and wild thyme; lavender, brambles and underbrush we expect from hillside vines grown in rocky, dry, poor soil, stressing the vines and making them work hard, as well as concentrated touches …

Wine of the Day, No. 522


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




copa-botella-txakoli-olatu

Today’s featured wine certainly falls under the category of “Interesting Whites.” The Olatu Txakoli 2018, was produced by Bodegas Akarregi Txiki from the grape variety hondarribi zuri in the Getariako Txakolina appellation of northeastern Spain. The estate’s 15.7 hectares of vineyards — a hair under 40 acres — face the Cantabrian Sea, the southern littoral of the Bay of Biscay. Yes, this is Basque country. The color is an unusual very pale smoky topaz in the faint orange-pink range; it’s a meadowy wine, in the sense of the uplands that slope to a seacoast, bringing to mind and sensory recall scents of dune grass, beach sage, astringent little white flowers, wild thyme and mimosa blossom; a few moments in the glass unfold notes of pear and roasted lemon, with an intriguing touch of dried red currant in the background; bright acidity lends liveliness and animation — as does …

Weekend Wine Notes: The Category of “Interesting” Whites


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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We see this sign at retail stores or as an entry in a restaurant wine list: “Interesting Whites.” As if any white wine other than chardonnay and sauvignon blanc doesn’t deserve any more distinction than “interesting.”  Talk about damning with faint praise; it’s like the description of a blind date. You would think that retailers and wine managers would be more savvy about the incredible range of wine available today, the grapes, the regions, the techniques. Personally, there are chardonnays and sauvignon blancs that I find totally uninteresting — same for cabernet sauvignon and merlot — and my preference is to drink such “interesting” white wines as albarino, viura, verdicchio, pinot blanc and pinot gris, picpoul blanc, Rhone-style blends of grenache blanc, marsanne and roussanne, unusual blends from Portugal and northeastern Italy and so on.  The world of wine is so deep and broad that we shouldn’t …

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Inman Family’s Pinot Noirs: Pink and Red


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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From her hand-built winery in Russian River Valley, Kathleen Inman releases three limited-edition, single-vineyard pinot noir wines every inman rosesvintage. For the current releases this year, she added rosé wines from the same three vineyards, a reflection of her sense for experimentation and feeling for meticulous detail. In truth, though, Inman made her first rosé from the Olivet Grange Vineyard — now termed “OGV” — in 2004, named “Endless Crush” in honor of her 20th wedding anniversary. So the other two rosés, from Pratt Vine Hill and Sexton Road, are new for the 2018 vintage. Under review for today are the pinor noirs from 2016 and the 2018 rosés from each of the three vineyards.

The rosé wines are “intentional,” that is, they are made from grapes cultivated and harvested specifically for making rose, not from juice bled off from red grapes after crush and before fermentation. The pinot noirs are …

Wine of the Day, No. 521


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Make no mistake, wine writers love to write about those $100 cabernets and pinot noirs that show up occasionally at their thresholds. citraHowever, while such wines might be enlightening, profound, unforgettable, unfathomable, reviews of them don’t help Our Readers much at all. And I’ll be honest — Isn’t more nobility involved in producing 10,000 cases of a drinkable $10 wine that many people can enjoy than in making 100 cases of a $100 wine that most people could never afford or even lay eyes on? (And think of how much that wine would cost in a restaurant.) A good example of a wine in the drinkable and affordable category is the Citra Sangiovese Terre di Chieti 2017, from the province of Abruzzo on Italy’s southeastern shore against the Adriatic Sea.  Made 100 percent from sangiovese grapes and all in stainless steel tanks, the wine displays a dark ruby-brick …

Big Change at Jordan Estate


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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I don’t usually comment on personnel matters at wineries; I leave those announcements to the trade bulletins and full-color wine magazines. This change, however, is a big one and I believe warrants attention. After having made every vintage of cabernet sauvignon for Sonoma davis and kruseCounty’s Jordan Estate since the beginning in 1976, Rob Davis is relinquishing that role. He will fill the new position of winegrower, managing all grower vineyards while continuing to serve as a mentor and adviser to the winemaking team. Stepping into his place is Maggie Kruse, who has been at Jordan since 2006, becoming assistant winemaker in 2009 overseeing barrels and bottling and taking over the day-to-day management of the cellar. Her experience at the winery and knowledge of philosophy and procedure seem to indicate a smooth transition.

Launched in 1972 by geologist and oil explorer Tom Jordan, the winery got off to a rough start with …

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Wine of the Day, No. 520


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Here’s a winsome little charmer, as the barker says about the exotic dancer at the carnival. The Tamarack Cellars Firehouse White 2018, VWE101TAMARACK.NATIONAL.FACE.FIREHOUSEWHITE.CLARETBOTTLESoriginating from Washington state’s Columbia Valley, is an interesting blend of 80 percent pinot gris and 20 percent chardonnay. The pinot gris portion is made in stainless steel, the chardonnay 80 percent stainless steel and 20 percent older French oak, so the amount of oak is a dollop, a smidgeon, nonetheless contributing to a lovely slightly dense texture and a subtle background of spice. The color is very pale, almost colorless, while diverting aromas of pear, heather, lemongrass and lime peal appeal to the nose; a few moments in the glass bring in notes of hay and jasmine; the wine is lithe and lively on the palate, propelling by keen acidity its bright citrus and stone-fruit flavors through to a limestone-grapefruit finish. 12.9 percent alcohol. A totally …

Wine of the Day, No. 519


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




2015Merlot2mbThe Pope Valley Winery Merlot 2016, Napa Valley, takes us on a journey through the grape’s wilder, spicier and more herbal aspects. Here’s where readers say, “Merlot has a wilder, spicier side? You’re making this merlot sound like zinfandel or petite sirah.” Well, yes, who’s to say what the actual character of the merlot grape is or the wines made from it? Sometimes I wonder if it’s best just to leave merlot as a blending grape with cabernet sauvignon and forgo the pure varietal route. On the other hand, this 100 percent varietal example, aged 22 months in French oak, 30 percent new barrels, is a red wine of attractive and tasty detail and dimension.  The color is deep, dark ruby shading to a lighter mulberry-hued rim; notes of spiced and macerated black currants and raspberries are permeated by hints of cloves and cinnamon bark, rosemary and dried thyme, …

Wine of the Day, No. 518


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Today’s entry in the Wine of the Day series sports a long name: Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale “Oro” Gran Selezione 2014. Is it ruffino“gold”? Is it fit for a duke? Is it  grand? The answer is “yes” to all those questions. This flagship wine is a combination of 85 percent sangiovese and five percent colorino with 10 percent merlot, the nontraditional element in the blend. The wine aged a total of 36 months: one year in concrete vats; one year in Slavonian oak barrels varying from 925 to 2,000 gallons; one year in French oak barriques and tonneaux. As a comparison, the standard barrique holds 59 gallons; a tonneau generally holds about 238 gallons. The color is dark ruby shading to a brick-red rim; seductive aromas of lavender and licorice are entwined with notes of red currants and cherries macerated in oolong tea and orange rind; a few minutes …

Wine of the Day, No. 517


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




There’s nothing wrong with consistency, especially when it’s not a foolish one. In fact, consistency becomes a particular virtue when it 2018_SauvBlanc_label_rgbprovides not only familiarity but comfort and, in the case of wine, deliciousness. My example today is the Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2018, from Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley.  This wonderfully attractive and appealing sauvignon blanc is a blend of 76 percent sauvignon blanc grapes, 15 percent sauvignon musqué  — a highly aromatic clone — and 9 percent sauvignon gris, an early-ripening pink-skinned mutation of sauvignon blanc. The wine was made in a combination of stainless steel (84 percent), with the balance in a mixture of barrels — acacia, chestnut and neutral French oak. The color is very pale straw-gold; immediately intriguing aromas of celery seed, thyme and lime peel, lemon balm, lemongrass and mimosa unfurl notes of grapefruit, lilac and talc, this panoply of scents …

Wine of the Day, No. 516


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The Thienpont family has owned Chateau Puygueraud since 1946. The 47-hectare estate, about 116 acres, in the Francs-Côtes de Bordeaux puyappellation is the family’s home, though they also own the prestigious Pomerol properties Vieux-Chateau-Certan and Le Pin. The vineyards at Puygueraud — 42 hectares of black grapes, 5 of white — were replanted in the 1970s and go through a deliberate and continuous process of replanting. The estate is managed now by Nicolas Thienpont and his son Cyrille. Chateau Puygueraud 2014 is a blend of 75 percent merlot, 20 percent cabernet franc and 5 percent malbec; no cabernet sauvignon is grown.  The wines here typically age 12 to 16 months in oak, one-third new barrels each year. The color is opaque black-purple with a lighter violet rim; classic aromas of black currants and raspberries open to scents of cedar and tobacco, graphite and lavender, with a touch of …

Wine of the Day, No. 515


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Now, I don’t want to oversell this incredibly appealing rosé sparkling wine, but the QPR — quality-price ratio — is terrific. If you were sitting out on the porch or patio, if you happened to be picnicking in a bosky dell, or if you were relaxing on a little urban balcony high above the rowdy metropolis, taking in the sunset gleam reflected on the glass of the buildings towering around, you would be quite happy with a glass or two of the Cleto Chiarli Rosé de Noir Spumante Brut, made by the family-owned estate southeast of Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region. Produced in the cuve-close method — not the Champagne technique of second fermentation in the bottle — this lively sparkler of pink-smoky topaz hue is a blend of 85 percent Lambrusco grasparossa grapes and 15 percent pinot noir, enlivened by a stream of tiny steely-diamond-point bubbles. The bouquet bursts …

Wine of the Day, No. 514


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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There’s nothing wrong with wines that take risks and celebrate individuality, even eccentricity, but in chardonnay, I want an even keel of balance, purity and intensity, with fruit, acid, texture, oak and minerality acting in chiming, scintillating consort. The Sullivan Rutherford Estate Chardonnay 2017, Napa Valley, delivers. Produced from the winery’s estate vineyards in Rutherford — the heart of the Napa Valley, to express the location romantically — the wine aged six months in French oak, 35 percent new barrels, an eminently sensible regimen. The winery was founded in 1972 by James O’Neil Sullivan and was acquired early in 2018 by tech entrepreneur Juan Pablo Torres Padilla. The color is pale straw-gold; there’s lovely concentration and eloquence in the wine’s elements of spice-dusted green apple, pineapple and pear notes, in its touches of lemon balm and lime peel, with subdued hints of lemongrass and green tea; the oak framework is …

Wine of the Day, No. 513


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The entrancing Raeburn Rosé 2018, Russian River Valley, is a unique blend of 66 percent zinfandel, 26 percent pinot noir and 8 percent grenache, made all in stainless steel. The color is pale copper-salmon, the classic “onion skin” hue; notes of rose petals, lilac and watermelon permeate aromas of strawberries and raspberries steeped in Earl Gray tea, with a hint of damp flint in the background; this rosé offers one of the most seductive textures I have encountered lately, balanced in exquisite poise of crisp, lip-smacking acidity and an almost talc-like presence on the palate; subtle red berry flavors are highlighted by touches of guava and peach with undertones of smoke and mint, all culminating in a finish of seashell delicacy and elegance. 13.5 percent alcohol. Winemaker was Joe Tapparo. Excellent. About $19.

A sample for review, as I am required to inform my readers by fiat of the …