Farmhouse Wines and Green Spring Farm – "Beyond Sustainable" Farming

We grow by the motto “50% for humans, 50% for nature,” maintaining an important balance between the vines grown for humans and crops grown for soil improvement, Bob Cannard & Fred Cline --Green String Farm

This method of “beyond sustainable” farming, was developed by Bobby Cannard and Fred Cline of Cline Family Cellars and is now known as the Green String method of sustainable farming.  Their laboratory, Green String Farm, is located in Sonoma - specifically in Petaluma - and "serves to teach students how to improve the biology of the lands that they steward while growing naturally healthy food".  This method includes natural remedies for pest management, fertilization, and weeding among others. For instance they use over 1500 sheep and 500 goats to remove harmful weeds from their vineyards.  They also use native root stocks which can be dry farmed (no irrigation) and friendly insects are ...

Yeah, You Are Drinking Some F–king Merlot, Actually (Talking Merlot With IntoWine.com)

Merlot Bordeaux vines

Merlot: “Stop picking on me, beeeeaaaatches!”

It’s been nearly fifteen years since a flippant diatribe that disparagingly mentions Merlot came from the mouth of Miles, the main protagonist in the film Sideways (based on the book of the same title by Rex Pickett). That off-hand and NSFW comment had the unfortunate – and lasting – side-effect of sending U.S. Merlot sales into the toilet; so much so that I had been told over the years by many PR, marketing, and winemaking professionals that they either stopped putting the word Merlot on their labels (or at least  considered it). But a funny thing happened roughly ten years after Sideways was released in theaters: consumers seemed to stop caring, and instead started to enjoy the fact that Merlot represented one of the best red wine bargains available. Of course, that didn’t stop the media at large from being ...

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 ...

Exitus 2016 Vintage Bourbon Barrel-Aged Red Blend

Bourbon barrel-aged beverages have slowly seeped into the wine industry and O’Neill Vintners & Distillers entered the field with the Exitus Wines 2016 Vintage Bourbon Barrel-Aged Red Blend ($17.99). This wine is a majority Zinfandel blend incorporating lesser amounts of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Merlot -- then aged in mature bourbon barrels for three months. The combination of wine and spirits come naturally for this family-owned wine and spirits company as they sourced the bourbon barrels from Kentucky and the grapes from estate vineyards or 15,000 contracted acres throughout California. These grapes are fermented in stainless steel before the barrel aging which helps the wine retain the dense fruit as the barrels add leather, vanilla, and chocolate notes. A side affect of the barrels and perhaps the Zinfandel is a little heat on the nose. And the tail falls slightly flat - but overall a worthy ...

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 ...

Borderless Wine from Harvest Ridge Winery

Straddling the border between Delaware and Maryland along the Mason-Dixon line lies Harvest Ridge Winery. Whereas the winery and a majority of the estate vineyards reside in Delaware, a significant block of estate vines are planted in the Free State. In fact, one of the original Mason-Dixon witness stone and crown markers, number 47, is located on the property. After fifteen years of home winemaking, Chuck Nunan converted his family farm to an estate vineyard by planting a series of vinifera grapes in 2011. After the winery opened in late 2013, he expanded the original planting of Chardonnay, Viognier, Malbec, and Merlot to include both Cabernets, Chambourcin, Vidal, Barbera, and several other grape varieties. He also hired Jason Hopwood, who had experience in Sonoma and the Finger Lakes, as the head winemaker. This growth enables Harvest Ridge to provide over fifteen wines in their tasting room as well as a ...

Weekend Wine Notes: Allons, enfants de la patrie!

The wine regions of France, especially Bordeaux and Burgundy, long served as the models and the ideals for producers and winemakers all over the world. Even nowadays, when wine-making has proliferated worldwide and expanded far beyond the so-called “noble grapes” of French origin, Burgundy is often seen as the apotheosis of chardonnay and pinot noir, Bordeaux the epitome of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, Champagne the ur-text of sparkling wine. I offer today, in celebration of Bastille Day, 12 examples that illustrate, even if in a severely limited degree, the diversity and the versatility of French wine production. Some of those noble grapes are involved — cabernet and merlot, indeed, chardonnay and pinot noir, riesling — but also a more everyday variety like gamay and obscure grapes like jacquere. In one blog post, no one could begin to assay the immense complexity of France’s geographical extent and appellation system, but I ...

Far Eastern Shore Winery: Slghtly Sweet, Fruit Infused Wines

Each year Maryland wine makers hold a competition that results in the Comptrollers Cup. In previous years, only winemakers served as judges, but for 2018 sommeliers and other industry professionals were added to the judging. The overall winner was Cactoctin Breeze Winery and a celebration was held at their winery where Gold Medal winners poured generous servings of these wines. The medal in the Sweet wine category was given to Far Eastern Shore Winery for their Dream NV Port-styled Raspberry Chocolate wine. The wine is delicious, not cloying nor gritty, and integrating the fruit and chocolate for a fine tuned wine. Whereas I had sampled many of their wines previously this wine induced me to visit the winery in Easton, Maryland using theCompass Craft Beverage Finder.

In fact the tasting room for Far Eastern Shore Winery is quite convenient to visit, right on Route 50 to the right when traveling ...

Spar’s new wines for 2018

A whistle-stop tour of some of Spar’s new wines for 2018 – more details about them HERE Villa Cerro Garganega Pinot Grigio 2017, Veneto, Italy (£6.50 Spar) Simple fresh glugger with hints of citrus fruit and apple, what I call ‘fair enough’ wine. C Wildflower Pinot Grigio 2017, Romania (£6.50 Spar) Compared with the above, […]

Jeroboams Bordeaux Rouge 2016

If only all young Bordeaux Rouge were like this Jeroboams Bordeaux Rouge 2016 (François Thienpont), France (£13.45 Jeroboams) Young, fresh plummy claret, with juicy blackcurrant fruit in abundance, sympathetic use of oak, and a vibrant, perfumed finish. Rounded and appealing, but carries its 14% alcohol well. S-

Lucas & Lewellen’s Hidden Asset

Hidden Asset refers to a wine, a red blend to be specific, that Lucas & Lewellen Estate Vineyards produces to honor their estate vineyards in Santa Barbara County - for this vintage the Los Alamos Vineyard and Valley View Vineyard.  The actual "Hidden Assets" are the grape varieties used in this unique blend, a kitchen sink of Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Franc. The percentages of each grape variety and vineyard source is proprietary information but the winery prints the percentages sourced from the four vineyard sites. Three ranches in the Los Alamos Vineyard account for 95% of the grapes as this area south of the town of Los Alamos along Highway 101 is home to over twenty grape varieties. And some of the vines are from cuttings brought over from Europe over 25 years ago. This region benefits from a "rare transverse mountain range topography, an ...

Route 15 Wine Road: Warrenton’s Powers Farm & Brewery & Granite Heights Winery

Just south of Gainsville, through Warrenton and into Culpeper, Route 15 merges with Route 29 and runs through rolling hills in one corner of Virginia's wine and horse country. This is Fauquier County where the roads and rail lines were major trade thoroughfares as well as a highly prized transportation hubs fought over during the Civil War. During one of these battles, Bristoe Campaign (October - November 1863), troops fought just east of Warrenton in Auburn - a short detour off the main road.

While navigating this detour look for Powers Farm & Brewery in Midland, a very unique craft brewery. As it's name suggests, Powers is a working farm and not just hops, just look at their Produce CSA. As for their field beers they use on-farm ingredients such as hops, herbs, fruits, vegetables, plus foraged bark and berries. Each of these non-standard ingredients add different characters to the ...

30 Great Wine Bargains of 2017

I suspect that while many readers may find the annual roster of “50 Great Wines” interesting, they don’t necessarily find it essential. Today’s post, however — “30 Great Wine Bargains of 2017” — I hope will be greeted with expectation and gratitude. Who doesn’t love a bargain, especially when the price is attached to a wine that performs above its weight and class? Prices on this list range from about $7 to $20. Twenty-five of these selections rate Excellent, with the next five rated Very Good+, and each one offers a hefty and distinguishing serving of quality. The breakdown by genre is 15 white, 13 red and 2 rosé. By country or state: Italy 7; California 6; France 5; Spain 3; Germany 2; and one each from Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Oregon, Portugal, South African and Washington. Whatever, it’s not the statistics that count but the wine inside the bottle. ...

50 Great Wines of 2017

The prices of these 50 Great Wines of 2017 range from an unprecedented $15 to a whopping $250. Not that I expect My Readers to hasten out and snatch up a bottle of wine that costs $250, but when an extraordinary wine crosses my horizon and I rate it “Exceptional,” well, it goes on this list no matter the price. That’s one of the criteria for this annual roster: Every wine I rated Exceptional in 2017 is included automatically, followed by wines I rated Excellent and that I go back through the reviews and parse very carefully. Now I’m sure My Readers understand that by “50 Great Wines” I’m not saying that these are the 50 greatest wines in the world, just that they’re great wines — as I interpret greatness — that I tasted during the year in question. What makes a wine great? Purity, intensity, integrity, authenticity, as ...