Wine of the Day, No. 447

I don’t feature many California chardonnays in the Wine of the Day series because I don’t like most of them. They tend to be over-blown, flamboyantly oaky, stridently spicy, blatantly tropical and cloying in the way that a diet of rich food makes us weary and bloated. Today, however, I offer a chardonnay that is delightfully free of those common blemishes. The Scheid Vineyards Chardonnay 2017, Monterey, was fermented and aged 70 percent in stainless steel tanks and 30 percent in French oak. The result is a pale straw-gold wine that radiates freshness and elegance, from its notes of green apple, pineapple and grapefruit, highlighted by hints of jasmine and lilac, to its sleek, lithe texture animated by bright acidity; a few minutes in the glass bring in touches of lilac, pear and almond skin, while from mid-palate back through the finish, the wine is swayed by a scintillating element ...

Weekend Wine Notes: 12 Wines, A Miscellany

For today’s Weekend Wine Notes, I offer a diverse group of 12 wines — six white, six red — arranged according to ascending price within each color, the range altogether being $11 to $32, so nothing to make the credit card groan. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s something here for every taste and palate, including some unusual selections; we (mostly) aim to please at BTYH. As usual with the Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew technical, historical and geographical data — much as we might dote on those details — for the sake of quick, incisive reviews, ripped, as it were, from the pages of my notebooks and intended to pique your interest and whet your palate. Enjoy — in moderation, of course. These wines were samples for review, as I am required to inform My Readers by authority of the Federal Trade Commission.
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Marco Felluga “Montgris” Riserva Pinot ...

A Round Of Wine For Thanksgiving: The ‘Help Yourself’ Version

holiday wine, what to serve with Thanksgiving I was having a conversation just yesterday about the joys of Thanksgiving and they boil down to this: food and family. And I dare say, for many of us, the food category includes wine. My husband and I have served Thanksgiving to our big, extended Irish family since before we had children. I do recall a much, much younger me, a woman who printed out a list of Thanksgiving-friendly wine suggestions from some expert online and took it, part-and-parcel to the wine shop. It’s actually how I fell in love with Beaucastel, after buying some for that meal. If you’ve ever paused with concern about what to serve at Thanksgiving, I’m here to relieve your fears. I’ve tasted a number of excellent wines over the past months that will be lovely with your dinner. Rather than line up pairings—an act nearly impossible for the wide-open feast—this article highlights interesting wines ...

Nine Savory White Wines, Because Autumn Is Not All about Reds

Let’s say that for dinner you’re having cod stew with leeks, potatoes and chorizo or a spicy shrimp risotto or grilled swordfish with a black pepper crust. This is not the time for a delicate, winsome little white wine and probably not even a lighter red, It’s the time for a savory white wine, earthy, bracing, saline. These are especially appropriate for these chilly Fall weeks that lead into Winter. Herein, I offer nine examples of such savory white wines, not really accommodating as aperitif quaffs, because of their assertive personalities, but certainly amenable for heartier fish and seafood dishes. Enjoy!
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The Apaltagua Reserva Pinot Gris 2017, San Antonio Valley, Chile, displays a pale straw-gold color and seductive aromas of mango and begonia, with notes of green olive and preserved lemon and a background of limestone and flint; the wine is quite lively and alluring on the palate, supple ...

Wine of the Day, No. 444

Winemaker Sherman Thacher displays a deft hand in deploying oak for his Thacher Vineyard “Working Holiday” 2016, a Rhone-style red blend from the Geneseo District of the Paso Robles AVA. The percentages of grapes are 47 grenache, 30 syrah and 23 mourvèdre, with the applicable oak of different sizes, all neutral, being old diverse barrels for the grenache; barriques for the syrah; and puncheons for the mourvedre; a puncheon typically holds 500 liters (132 gallons). The result is a red wine of lovely purity and intensity, with a lean, lithe texture animated by dynamic acidity. The color is transparent medium ruby; aromas of ripe black and red cherries and raspberries gain depth in touches of loam and oolong tea, dried rosemary, mint and dusty flint. The wine is quite dry, precise and chiseled on the palate, lively and appealing; the red and black berry flavors open to notes of plums ...

Weekend Wine Notes: It’s Mid-Fall. Keep Drinking Rosé

And here are eight lovely, diverse examples, ranging from the delicate to the savory, employing a multitude of grape varieties from a healthy spectrum of regions and countries. As usual with these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew most technical data, as well as information about geology, geography, historical and personnel matters, for the sake of quick, incisive review intended to whet your palate and pique your interest. Enjoy! (In moderation, of course.) These wines were samples for review.
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Berne Inspiration Rosé 2017, Cotes de Provence. 13% alc. 70% grenache, 20% cinsault, 10% syrah. Very pale pink-onion skin; quite dry, spare, elegant; strawberries and raspberries, lilac and lavender; hints of almond blossom and almond skin; tangerine; lithe, supple; a sleek limestone finish. Excellent. About $20.
Imported by Provence Rose Group, Miami.
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Berne Urban Provence Rosé 2017, Cotes de Provence. 12.5% alc. 45% grenache, 35% cinsault, 15% syrah, ...

Wine of the Day, No. 442

The Fiddlehead Cellars “Seven Twenty Eight” Pinot Noir 2013, Sta. Rita Hills, is the current release of this wine from an estate known particularly for pinot noir and sauvignon blanc. Derived from a variety of clones in the Fiddlestix Vineyard, the wine offers a medium ruby-magenta hue that shades to a wholly transparent rim; aromas of plums, red and black cherries and sour cherry are permeated by notes of sandalwood and sassafras and a hint of loam; a few minutes in the glass bring in touches of ink and iodine, graphite and damp flint. This pinot noir displays lovely poise and elegance, tone and presence; mild tannins, feeling lightly sanded and burnished, are animated by a lithe, supple texture and bright acidity that drives toward a finish wreathed in a burgeoning loamy-graphite element; these qualities bring restraint to a pinot noir that could have been succulent but instead displays admirable ...

Wine of the Day, No. 442

The Fiddlehead Cellars “Seven Twenty Eight” Pinot Noir 2013, Sta. Rita Hills, is the current release of this wine from an estate known particularly for pinot noir and sauvignon blanc. Derived from a variety of clones in the Fiddlestix Vineyard, the wine offers a medium ruby-magenta hue that shades to a wholly transparent rim; aromas of plums, red and black cherries and sour cherry are permeated by notes of sandalwood and sassafras and a hint of loam; a few minutes in the glass bring in touches of ink and iodine, graphite and damp flint. This pinot noir displays lovely poise and elegance, tone and presence; mild tannins, feeling lightly sanded and burnished, are animated by a lithe, supple texture and bright acidity that drives toward a finish wreathed in a burgeoning loamy-graphite element; these qualities bring restraint to a pinot noir that could have been succulent but instead displays admirable ...

Wine of the Day, No. 441


The color of the Justin Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Central Coast, is merely the first attractive aspect of the wine. A pale but radiant straw-gold hue with faint green highlights, it presages a sauvignon blanc notable for its brightness and subtlety. The wine was made all in stainless steel and did not undergo malolactic fermentation, the better to retain its elements of crispness, freshness and immediate appeal. Aromas of grapefruit, lime peel, pea shoot, celery leaf and caraway are enveloped in layers of lemon and lemon balm; a few moments in the glass unveil traces of gooseberry and jasmine, lemongrass and just a hint of mango. These qualities segue smoothly onto the palate, where the wine is amazingly brisk and bracing; it’s quite dry, yet juicy, leafy and savory, underpinned by scintillating limestone minerality and notes of lilac and licorice. 13.5 percent alcohol. Winemaker was Scott Shirley. Drink as ...

Wine of the Day, No. 440

The Jordan Vineyard and Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Alexander Valley, is a true exemplar of the term “assemblage.” The wine is a blend of the five “classic” Bordeaux red grape varieties: 79 percent cabernet sauvignon, 13.7 percent merlot, 5.8 percent petit verdot, 1.2 percent malbec and 0.3 percent cabernet franc. The grapes derived from more than 60 vineyard blocks from the Jordan estate and 12 family growers — 89 percent from Alexander Valley; 4 percent from another Sonoma County AVA, Dry Creek Valley; and 7 percent from Mendocino. The wine aged 12 months in 94 percent French and 6 percent American oak barrels; of the French oak, 45 percent were new barrels. I begin this review with a litany of facts and percentages to show My Readers the meticulous and thoughtful approach brought to the creation of this wine by Jordan’s longtime winemaker Rob Davis. ...

Wine of the Day, No. 437

October purports to be International Merlot Month, though why that should be the case leaves me scratching the old noggin. Other wines get a day of recognition, but merlot gets a month? Well, it’s all marketing, n’est-ce pas? Anyway, the Wine of the Day is not the venue in which to sort out the problems inherent in the grape and its character. Rather, let’s look at a fine example of the grape from a venerable winery in California. The Markham Vineyards Merlot 2015, Napa Valley, is not only delicious but distinctive enough that it doesn’t feel like a cabernet sauvignon wannabe. A blend of 90 percent merlot grapes with 5 percent each cabernet sauvignon and petite sirah — the latter an unorthodox touch — the wine aged 15 and a half months in French and American oak, 32 percent new barrels. The color is dark ruby-purple with a vivid violet ...

#MerlotMe In The Kitchen: A #WinePW Special

wines for fall, Sonoma wine, Napa wine
#MerlotMe wines from California — an October celebration. Photo Credit: Jill Barth
Many years ago I walked into a wine store and the clerk approached me with a question: “What’s your favorite wine?” Hmmm. It’s an honest question, but anyone who has tasted as much wine as I have will never be able to provide an answer. Another version of the inquiry sounds like this, “What sort of wine varieties do you like best?” Same hesitation, on my part. Even a single variety can present itself as endless. Perhaps none more so than merlot, which thrives in France, Italy, Chile, the United States and Australia. Simplified, merlot provides silky tannins and red or dark fruit — it’s complex and depended upon in blends but can fashion a staid single varietal wine. I’ve found that versatility on the table is a characteristic that is often overlooked. To prove that ...
J Lohr, Robert Hall, Still Waters, Ancient Peaks, california wine
#MerlotMe 2
#MerlotMe 1

Wine of the Day, No. 436

The Ramey Wine Cellars Pinot Noir 2016, Russian River Valley, is a pinot noir of penetrating presence, bold expression and elemental power, yet it does not lack nuance and allure. The grapes derived from three vineyards of differing soil types and were fermented in tank with native yeasts, then spending 14 months in French oak, 49 percent new barrels. The color is transparent medium ruby, and by “transparent,” I mean that I could read my written notes through the wine if the glass were held at an angle. The first impression is down-to-earth, with qualities of roots, loam and woodsy spices and herbs; these quickly fill out with notes of spiced and macerated red and black currants, cherries and plums. On the palate, this pinot noir registers as dense and lively, balanced between rusticity and elegance, and energized by seething acidity; a few moments in the glass gradually pull up ...

Wine of the Day, No. 435

“But wait, FK,” you’re saying, “the Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc is the essence of Spring and Summer quaffing. How can you feature it at the beginning of the Fall season?” Because, Dear Skeptic, the Dry Creek Dry Chenin Blanc 2017, hailing from the Clarksburg AVA, offers in this vintage a bit more of an earthy and slightly spicy element, as well as a modicum more presence on the palate, factors that qualify it, I believe, for a more autumnal, savory category. Made all in stainless steel, of course, the wine displays a pale straw-gold hue and the grape’s signature touches of heather and honey, more heather than typically and even a hint of sage, all knit with notes of fresh green apple and pear, lemon balm and lilac and a vibrant layer of flint and limestone. Lipsmacking acidity keeps it crisp, dry and lively through a finish ...

Weekend Wine Notes: Nine Wines at $13 and Under

The title of today’s Weekend Wine Notes requires no explanation. I offer nine wines priced at $13 and under, each in a group of three, divided into Washington State, California and Italy’s Veneto region. Sorry to say that a couple of them are not recommended, but it happens, n’est-ce pas? As usual in this series, I omit detailed historical, technical and geographical data for the sake of brief reviews ripped, as it were, from the ages of my notebooks. Enjoy, in moderation, of course. These wines were samples for review.
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The Washington State wines of Charles Smith stand out on any shelf they occupy, distinguished by their stark black and white labels heavy on the graphic elements, a collaboration with Danish designer Rikki Korff. They also distinguish themselves by their solid QPR — quality/price ratio.
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Band of Roses Rose 2017, Washington State. 12.5% alc. 100% pinot ...

Pinot Noir Day: California, Part I — 2014, ’15, ’16

Twelve examples of pinot noir today, as I catch up on wines that I tasted throughout the last six months. This post is just the beginning. There will be at least one more in this particular series, a post devoted to pinot noir from Willamette Valley, and a series about individual wineries and producers. We range from Sta. Rita Hills in the south, in Santa Barbara County, to Anderson Valley in the north, in Mendocino. Ten of these wines rate Excellent, one Very Good+ and one Exceptional. The arrangement is alphabetical, not hierarchical. Enjoy! In moderation, of course. These wines were samples for review.
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The Dierberg “Dierberg Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2014, Santa Maria Valley, is a really pretty pinot noir that exhibits a serious depth of sinew and underbrush. The wine aged 14 months in French oak, 20 percent new barrels. The color is a limpid, transparent medium ruby ...

Upward with Onward

Current releases from Onward Wines confirm my belief that Faith Armstrong Foster is one of California’s best winemakers, notable for her deft touch, her thoughtfulness and care; she’s also the owner. She produces lamentably small quantities of wines — from impeccably maintained vineyards — that are low in alcohol, see minimal new oak and that are allowed to speak for themselves and the vineyards from which they derive rather than exist as proponents of the winemaker’s ego. I urge My Readers to seek out the Onward Wines and the second label Farmstrong as brilliant examples of honesty, authenticity and integrity. These wines were samples for review. Every accompanying label image is one vintage retrograde; the winery website has not caught up to the current releases.
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When we tried these petillant naturel sparkling products from Onward Wines, my wife said, “Can we get a case of these?” Yes, they’re ...