A Little Effervescence for Mom


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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My parents were teetotalers, my father because his father was a drunken lout, my mother because she believed that the merest drop of alcohol meant one was fated to a life in the gutter among cigarette butts and dead pigeons. No wonder I took to drink! But seriously, folks, even though my late mother would not have enjoyed a sip of Champagne or other sparkling wine on her day, in this post I’ll mention several products in those genres that will bring delight to your Mom’s celebration. We have a cava brut rosé from Spain, a pinot noir-dominated sparkler from Alta Langa in Italy, and a majority pinot noir rosé Champagne. In fact, pinot noir could be the sub-theme of this post. In any case, Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there; I hope your enjoy your day, imbibing in moderation, of course.

These sparkling products were samples …

Jumping Juice Windy Cottage Pinot noir 2017


This post is by Edward from Wino sapien


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A slight name change, but identical label with a subconsciously matching photo. It’s clear that my thinking when it comes to photographing wine bottles is unchanged. . . 13.5%, Taggerty, Warragul, Gippsland, Victoria. The best part is the nose – vibrant, filling and primary. Mashed berries and spice, it’s only later that the shadows and black cardamon appear. A little clunky in the mouth – like vegetable juice – with too much amplitude and acid. Awkward where you might hope for nuance and softness.

Context. I’ve been listening to a trio of books. The Overstory (by Richard Powers) – It’s superb, though I can only handle one short story per day, there’s too much to absorb and I keep wanting to rush home from my nocturnal walks so I might Google the featured Northern Hemisphere tree that he is painting with such vivid language. How to Change Your Mind (Michael Pollan) …

Wine of the Day, No. 494


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The factors that elevate a rosé wine from enjoyable — and there’s nothing wrong with that! — to superior status include qualities of the inevitable and the essential, a vital allure and pent energy that entice us back to the glass repeatedly. Such a one is the Etude Wines Rosé 2018, derived from the North Canyon Vineyard in Santa Maria Valley, the northernmost AVA in Santa Barbara County. The composition is “principally pinot noir,” according to the technical sheet I was sent, and I would give a lot to know what dollops of other grapes fit in there. The grapes were specifically grown for this rosé; this is not a product of free-run juice assembled as an after-thought. The wine is made entirely in stainless steel. The color is a medium copper-salmon hue; aromas of raspberries and strawberries unfold notes of candied melon, lime peel and a hint of blood …

3 Secrets of Pommard Pinot Noir


This post is by Marisa D'Vari from Wine, Wine Region Travel, & Spirits: A Wine Story


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3 Secrets of Pommard Pinot Noir

Do you love red Burgundy wine from Pommard?

Of course you do!

Pommard Pinot Noir is a closely held secret among those who love red wine from Burgundy, France.

Pommard Pinot Noir

Pommard Pinot Noir

What is Pommard Pinot Noir?

The Burgundy region of France has been famous for centuries.

Mostly only for two reasons.

Pinot Noir.

Chardonnay.

And there are two key regions in Burgundy, France.

The Cote de Beaune and The Cote de Nuit

Now the red Pinot Noir grape and the white Chardonnay grape are grown in both regions.

Yet “collectors” and “wine experts” through the centuries have given the highest rankings to Pinot Noir grapes grown in the Cote de Nuit.

And to them, the best Chardonnay comes from the Cote de Beaune.

Yet you can also find excellent Pinot Noir from Cote de Beaune, especially if it comes from Pommard.

Pommard for …

Pommard Pinot Noir

3 Top Wineries For Pinot Noir in Oregon


This post is by Marisa D'Vari from Wine Region Travel & Reviews: A Wine Story


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Winemakers from Elk Grove, Ponzi Vineyards and Sokol Blosser

Winemakers from Elk Grove, Ponzi Vineyards and Sokol Blosser

3 Top Wineries for Pinot Noir in Oregon

As a wine lover, you already know that Oregon Pinot Noir is some of the best in the world.

Many feel it ranks equal to top quality Pinot Noir from Burgundy.

In fact, many wine experts sometimes find it difficult to tell the difference between Oregon Pinot Noir and Burgundian Pinot Noir.

The 1970s: Oregon’s Golden Era

Many agree that Oregon Pinot Noir burst into the international scene in the 1970s, when David Lett’s Eyrie Vineyards’ 1975 Pinot Noir

South Block Reserve Pinot Noir was ranked 10th in its category in the WIne Olympics held in Paris in 1979.

Then it won another competition in Burgundy.

At that time, the Oregon winemakers of that era were young and raising families.

They were excited about the prospects of showcasing Pinot Noir grown from their …

Glasses of Oregon Pinot Noir

Wines of Navarra, the Camino de Santiago, and French Grape Varieties


This post is by WineCompass from WineCompass


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The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and concluding at the shrine of St. James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela in the Spanish province of Galicia. The pilgrimages started very shortly after the believed discovery of the tomb of the Patron Saint of Spain in 814. There are two competing claims regarding James evangelization of the Iberian Peninsula with one, based on the Epistle to the Romans where St. Paul suggests a disciple hadn’t visited Spain and the alternative, that after James was martyred in AD 44 his remains were transported back to the land that he had in fact evangelized.

Regardless, pilgrims flocked to the site using the Camino de Santiago and Wines of Navarra website, “in 1234 the first of a succession of French monarchs ascended by marriage to the throne of the Kingdom …

Wine of the Day, No. 489


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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It’s rare to find a pinot noir for the price that exhibits the integrity and authenticity of the District 7 Pinot Noir 2017, Monterey County. District 7 is a brand of Scheid Family Wines, which, under the family name, produces limited edition, often single-vineyard wines of outstanding character. Grapes for the District 7 Pinot Noir ’17 derive from estate vineyards that occupy the cool, windy northern bench of the Salinas Valley. The wine aged 10 months in French oak, 30 percent new barrels. The color is a stunning totally transparent light ruby hue; it’s a lovely expression of the grape that features red cherries and currants infused with notes of raspberry leaf and graphite, smoke, cola and rhubarb; vibrant on the palate, the wine is sleek and supple, deepening into elements of forest floor and flint for a slight darkening effect but remaining an object of elegant poise. A comfortable …

Pinot Noir Month Extends into April, No Kidding! Part 7


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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This post began as a Weekend Wine Notes that I was not able to finish for the weekend. So, here it is, pushing the March Pinot Noir Month into April. So be it. I offer eight pinot noir wines from various regions of California, one rates Exceptional, six rate Excellent, and one Very Good+. All are well-made and worthy of purchase. I eschew technical, historical and geographical data in favor of quick, incisive reviews, ripped, as it were, from the pages of my notebooks. Enjoy! In moderation, of course.

These wines were samples for review.

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Davis Bynum Jane’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016, Russian River Valley. 14.5% alc. Dark ruby-magenta shading to a totally transparent, ethereal rim; opens slowly, unfurling notes of black and red currants and plums, hints of cloves, sandalwood and sassafras; a bit of the feral quality of wild cranberry and blueberry; supremely satiny-like texture flows …

What Dessert Goes with Champagne?


This post is by Marisa D'Vari from Wine Region Travel & Reviews: A Wine Story


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Picture of Macarons

Curious about what dessert goes with Champagne, Sparkling Wine, or Bubbly?

I love Champagne.

And as much as I love Champagne, I love dessert even more!

Though I am using the word “Champagne” here, you can apply the same dessert pairing concepts with Sparkling Wine or bubbly from many regions.

This is as long as the signature “Champagne grapes” Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes are included.

The Differences Between Champagne and Sparkling Wine Made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the “Traditional Method”

There are many differences between sparkling wine made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from regions outside Champagne, and within Champagne.

In some cases the differences are very subtle, others more dramatic.

You may be surprised that some sparkling wine from England, Australia, New Zealand, and California may be several times the price of the most popular branded Champagne houses.

For the most part, the differences are subtle, …

Champagne and dessert pairing
Ayaya Champagne with macaron desert
Champagne bubbly pairing with desert
Panel of Champagne representatives tasting bubbly with macarons
Explaining Champagne bubbly with dessert

Kin & Cascadia Showcase the Columbia and Willamette Valleys


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Winesellers Ltd., the family-owned global importer, recently expanded their portfolio into the Pacific Northwest by creating the Kin & Cascadia brand. The initial two offerings are a Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington’s Columbia Valley and a Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley — both arguably the premier wine regions in their respective states. Each is priced close to $15 providing excellent value.  Finally, don’t you love the contrasting bottle styles reflecting Bordeaux and Burgundy? Cheers.






2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley, Washington State ($15)
The grapes are sourced from vineyard sites in the Wahluke Slope AVA located near the edge of Red Mountain. The region is one of the driest, warmest climates in the state, perfect for Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyards are composed of sandy and alluvial soils with vine shoots on original roots as phylloxera has never been in Washington State.  For the price, this is a very …

Wine of the Day, No. 483


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Finding a well-made pinot noir under $20 is about as difficult as discovering a diamond in a turkey’s craw. In other words — Good Luck! However, occasionally an example comes along that makes me think, “Hey, yeah, this is terrific! I can recommend this one.” So, the Toad Hollow Vineyards Pinot Noir 2017, Monterey County, offers a dark ruby-mulberry hue that shades to a lighter, even transparent rim. Aromas of red and black cherries and currants open to notes of sassafras and cloves, plums and herbal tea, while on the palate the wine delivers a sleek satiny texture animated by bright acidity. A few minutes in the glass bring out hints of cranberry and pomegranate, with touches of graphite and underbrush in the background. 14.2 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2020 or ’21. Very Good+. About $17, representing Real Value.

A sample for review.

Pinot Noir Month, Part 5B: Black Kite Cellars, the 2016s


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Last week, “Pinot Noir Month, Part 5A,” covered the 2015 wines from Black Kite Cellars. Today, we look at Black Kite’s same single-vineyard pinot noirs from 2016.

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Black Kite Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016, Sonoma Coast. 14.5% alc. 215 cases. 11 months French oak, 50% new barrels. Dark ruby shading to a light mulberry rim; iodine, graphite and loam; intensely floral and spicy; honed flint; black currants and cherries, hint of blueberry; rhubarb and sandalwood, pomegranate and cloves; real tone, presence and substance; perfectly complete, balanced and integrated; seductive but with a serious spine of minerals, oak and tannin; exquisite detail and dimension. Now through 2025 to ’28. Excellent. About $60.

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Black Kite Sierra Mar Pinot Noir 2016, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County. 14.3% alc. 200 cases. 11 months French oak, 50% new. Transparent medium ruby fading to an ethereal rim; cloves, sandalwood, balsam, oolong …

#DrinkLocal at Whole Foods Market — Well sort of


This post is by Todd Godbout from WineCompass


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This weekend we visited our local Whole Foods Market Brew & Brau Pub intending to try the Big Poppa Biggie S’mores Imperial Stout produced by Charlottesville’s Three Notch’d Brewing Company. Unfortunately, their tap system had failed, so it was time for wine. Examining the wine list, I noticed several possible local wines from New York, Oregon, and Mendocino in California. After returning home and further research yes, the grapes were indeed, mostly sourced from within local wine regions, but not necessarily estate driven.

Madame Liberté Brut ($16.99)
There isn’t much information about the wine except that it is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir using American grapes. Thus not a local wine except it is apparently made by Gruet Winery even though the winery doesn’t list it on their website. In any case, it is a delicious sparkling wine: creamy apples and depth.

Empire Estate 2017 Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes  ($19)
Empire …

Wine of the Day, No. 481


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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It’s still Pinot Noir Month at BTYH. Let’s move away from California and Oregon, and for this entry in the Wine of the Day series turn to Alsace. The vineyards of Alsace contain only about 9.6 percent pinot noir grapes, most of which go into the sparkling Crémant. Nevertheless, many estates in Alsace produce varietal pinot noirs, made primarily in a spare, lithe fashion. The best I have tried recently is the Emile Beyer Eguisheim Pinot Noir 2015, issuing from an estate founded in 1680 and now operated by Christian Beyer, the 14th generation of the family. Made from certified organic grapes and aged only in used barrels and tanks, the wine offers a transparent medium ruby-garnet hue that shades to an ethereal rim; notes of cloves, red cherry and slightly astringent cherry skin are bolstered by smoke and graphite. To appropriate words from a previous sentence, the Emile …

Wine of the Day, No. 479


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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I associate Cline Family Cellars with zinfandel and Rhone Valley grape varieties, yet here is the Cline Pinot Noir 2017, Sonoma County, which I recommend for your interest. Fermented by native yeasts — the winery is certified sustainable — the wine aged seven months in French oak, 40 percent new barrels, and a small amount of American and Eastern European oak. The color is a totally transparent medium to light ruby hue; an extraordinary and slightly exotic bouquet of cloves and iodine, sassafras and pomegranate, sandalwood and a whiff of nutmeg bolsters notes of spiced and macerated black and red cherries and currants. Incisive acidity and a honed graphite element power through a supremely silky, supple texture as the wine grows dark and foresty, with touches of cedar, briers and brambles and layers of soft, dusty tannins and minerality, all these qualities lying at the service of delicious plum and …

Pinot Noir Month, Part 4: Left Coast Cellars


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The website for Left Coast Cellars is unusually reticent or coy about the history of the winery and its ownership. All I can say is that it was founded in 2003, that is comprises 356 acres of which 130 are planted to certifiably sustainable vines, that Taylor Pfaff is CEO, and winemaker is Joe Wright. I like the wines very much.

These wines were samples for review.

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The Left Coast Cellars Cali’s Cuvee Pinot Noir 2016, Willamette Valley, continues the trend for this bottling being the most elemental and earthy of the Left Coast pinot noirs. The wine aged nine months in French oak barrels. The color is transparent medium ruby-magenta; aromas and flavors of spiced and macerated red and black cherries and currants are bolstered by notes of loam and forest floor, with hints of mushrooms and meadow flowers. The texture is sleek, lithe and satiny, with pleasing …

Weekend Wine Notes, Pinot Noir Month Part 3: Willamette Valley


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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I thought these eight examples of Willamette Valley pinot noir — seven from 2015, one from ’14 — were splendid. Each is worthy of going to some effort to find. As usual in the Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew data concerning technical, historical and geographical matters for the sake of brief, incisive notices 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 either samples for review or were tasted at trade events.

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Cooper Mountain Pinor Noir 2015, Willamette Valley, Oregon. 14.2% alc. Transparent medium ruby-mulberry hue; warm, rich and spicy; ripe black and red currants and cherries, cloves and sandalwood, sassafras and oolong tea; dense and supple, dusty tannins, briers and brambles; dark woodsy and meadowy, gets denser and earthier, potent with mineral-flecked loam; whiffs of black pepper and …

Wine of the Day, No. 472


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Of course a pinor noir wine made from grapes grown at 1,400-feet elevation in the cool-climate Italian region of Alto Adige-Sudtirol will not much resemble pinot noirs originating in Burgundy or Oregon or California. Still, the point is to retain varietal character while extolling the variations imposed by soil, climate and weather. These wines tend to be lithe and sinewy, as exemplified by the Peter Zimmer “Rolhut” Pinot Noir 2017, produced by an estate founded in 1928. The wine aged 12 months in barrels, 70 percent in large French oak casks, the rest in two-and-three-year-old barriques, resulting in a gently, subtly shaping influence. The color is a totally transparent medium ruby-brick-red hue; the first aspect is a wafting of cloves, sandalwood and wood smoke, parting to reveal notes of macerated red cherries and currants with a touch of dried fruit. The wine is clean and spare, almost delicate on the …

Wine of the Day, No. 468


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The rules that regulate the production of sparkling wine in Piedmont’s Alta Langa region are specific. The district is dedicated only to the production of sparkling wines made in the metodo classico — the Champagne method of second fermentation in the bottle; the grapes can only be hand-harvested chardonnay and pinot noir; the grapes can only be grown in vineyards that lie at or above 250 meters above sea level, 820 feet or higher. Only 18 producers works under these strictures, and one of them is the estate of Enrico Serafino, founded by the eponymous businessman and entrepreneur in 1878. (Since 2015 owned by the Krause family.) The Enrico Serafino Brut 2013, Alta Langa, a blend of 80 percent pinot noir and 20 percent chardonnay, offers a pale straw-gold hue and a surging stream of tiny, glinting bubbles; it’s a clean and incisive sparkling wine that becomes more generous …

February notes


This post is by Edward from Wino sapien


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Midway through the lunar festival and the chance to open and revisit some older bottles. . .

Not in picture – a green skinny bottle of unsurprisingly fresh and pert Grüner. Prager Hinter Der burg 2008. 12%. Screwcap. Pale, peppery and primary. Peach, pollen and polished stone. Super texture – in retrospect, like a mouth full of citrus and white flowers. Lovely acidity and poise. My drinking companion thought it was a 2018 riesling – so fresh. It’s the more expensive (though I’ve long forgotten the price) sibling to this bottle that I tried a decade ago.

Also unseen – a bottle of 2010 Mountadam Chardonnay. It’s become a butter ball – round and full, very old school / 1980’s in shape and accent. Butterscotch and almond meal. In passing.

The half bottle of the 2011 Lake’s Folly Caberents is starting to turn I think. Still …