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 …

William Downie Gippsland 2015


This post is by Edward from Wino sapien


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Digging through my old photos, this 2014 image struck a cord, it seems the closest in subject to the label.

The wine question – 13%, Diam sealed – is jagged and brisk, quite different in character to the 2014 example. A volatile, acetic nose, dust and undergrowth; rhubarb and the impression of late autumn. Very fast, nervous, skeletal. . . this seems to be transitioning.  

Wine of the Day, No. 465


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Occasionally I use a Wine of the Day post not to announce a product that everybody should rush out and buy for its QPR — quality/price ration — but to bring to the attention of My Readers a winery and winemaker that deserve scrutiny for their high goals and achievements. Thus, I present today the LaRue Wines Thorn Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015, Sonoma Coast, a pinot noir of such riveting purity and intensity that is practically smolders in the glass, though actually it’s more elegantly wrought than that metaphor implies. Thorn Ridge Vineyard is a steep, eastward-facing site strongly influenced by maritime winds. Owner and winemaker for LaRue Wines is Katy Wilson, who named the winery for her apparently indomitable great-grandmother Veona LaRue. Wilson produces tiny amounts of pinot noir and chardonnay from carefully chosen and tended vineyards in the Sonoma Coast AVA. The LaRue Wines Thorn Ridge Vineyard …

Silkwood ‘The Walcott’ Pinot noir 2017


This post is by Edward from Wino sapien


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Pemberton, Western Australia. 13.5%. Approx $A30

The bottle I tried on a warm day at the cellar door had much more red fruit and a playful touch. . .  days later, at home with rain – it seems more savoury, smoked and dusty. . . sour edged and slightly globular, pleasing weight and texture, quite good (?88-90) and very reasonably priced.

Weekend Wine Notes: 12 Excellent Wines to Begin the Year


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Actually, the title of this post is a misnomer. What I offer today, in the first Weekend Wine Notes of 2019, are 10 wines that rate Excellent and two that rate Exceptional, the latter both pinot noirs from different regions of California. Also included in this diverse roster are a Gewurztraminer 2012 from Alsace; a chardonnay from Sonoma Coast; two sauvignon blancs, one from New Zealand, the other from Tuscany; a monumental cabernet/shiraz blend from Australia’s McLaren Vale region as well as an equally monumental 100 percent shiraz from Padthaway; two wines from Costières de Nîmes in the Southern Rhone Valley, one white, one red; a Spätlese Riesling from Rheingau, in Germany; and a stylish merlot from Walla Walla, Washington. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the technical, historical and geographical data that I dote on for the sake of quick and incisive reviews ripped, as it …

Wine with a View: Markus Wine Co., Stinson Vineyards, and Illahe Vineyards


This post is by Dezel Quillen from My Vine Spot


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Hello Friends, 
I’m one of those people who likes to visit beaches during the offseason—particularly those in Delaware and Ocean City, Maryland. I go as often as I can; the solitude is unparalleled. You can say goodbye to traffic and crowds. Entertainment and events extend beyond summer, and some of my favorite restaurants (e.g., Hooked, The Shark on the Harbor, Liquid Assets, Our Harvest, etc.) are between Ocean City and Delaware.  There are also good deals to be had and awesome sunsets to be admired.
Wine with a View!

A wise old man once told me that the beach possesses healing powers, and I believe it—maybe doctors should prescribe going to the beach more. For me, the offseason is about relaxing, recharging, rejuvenating—and, of course, sipping. During the day, I usually check out a local brew or two at the source, or at one of the area’s …

Wine of the Day, No. 458


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The EX label represents the second line products of Wrath Wines. Sabrine Rodems is winemaker for both brands. For EX, she makes an unoaked chardonnay, a pinot noir and a sauvignon blanc. EX was previously known as Ex Anima. Today, we look at the EX Pinot Noir 2016, Monterey County. True to the winery’s mission to utilize a minimum of new oak, this wine aged a brief eight months in mostly neutral French oak, a scant seven percent being new barrels. The oak influence is so subtle as to be almost subliminal, a gently shaping force. The color is a beguiling and totally transparent medium ruby; aromas of ripe and spicy red and black cherries and currants are bolstered by notes of smoke, bay leaf and sage, sandalwood and rhubarb, these elements gradually unfurling and segueing seamlessly onto the palate. The wine is supple, lithe and succulent, deftly balanced by …

30 Great Wine Bargains of 2018, $20 and Under


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The title of this post needs no elaboration, but I’ll inform you that prices range from $7.50 to $20. It’s a diverse group of wines. Seven from France; 6 California; 5 Italy; 2 each Argentina, Australia, Chile and Oregon; 1 each Bulgaria, Germany, Portugal and South Africa. (Welcome, Bulgaria!) By genre or hue: 1 sparkling wine; 3 rosé; 10 red and 16 white. As a matter of fact, the 30 wines on this roster would make a great restaurant wine list. So, enjoy! In moderation, of course.

With one exception, these wines were samples for review.
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Albert Bichot Bourgogne Aligoté 2015, Burgundy, France. Excellent. About $16.
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Amalaya Malbec 2016, Salta, Mendoza, Argentina. With 10 percent tannat, 5 petit verdot. Excellent. About $16.
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Domaine Bousquet Gaia Tupungato White Blend 2016, Mendoza, Argentina. 50 percent chardonnay, 35 pinot gris, 15 sauvignon blanc. Excellent. About $18.
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Domaine …

50 Great Wines of 2018


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The 11th & 12th Days of Christmas with Champagne & Sparkling Wine


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Sorry about that. You know the drill, the world is too much with us late and soon, getting and spending we lay waste our powers, blah blah blah, so today, the actual 12th Day of Christmas — Twelfth Night — we double up with a twofer to compensate for the absence of the 11th day yesterday.

These wines were samples for review.
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I reviewed the Frank Family Vineyards Brut Rosé 2012 on February 14, 2017, obviously aimed at Valentine’s. Today it’s the turn of a new vintage for that wine, the Frank Family Brut Rosé 2014, Carneros, a blend of 88 percent pinot noir and 12 percent chardonnay, aged 30 months in the lees in bottle. The color is a pale but radiant copper-salmon hue, enlivened by a constant stream of tiny bubbles; the first impression is of a compote of strawberries and raspberries, spiced and macerated and slightly …

The Seventh Day of Christmas with Champagne & Sparkling Wine: New Year’s Eve


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The two Brut Rosé Champagnes and one sparkling wine from Carneros reviewed below are intended for more intimate circumstances than a blow-out orgy of total strangers drooling their way through “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight. You’ve been there; now you’re a grown-up. However, for New Year’s Eve events that require bottles of bubbly to slake the festive thirsts of larger groups than a small dinner party or a romantic rendezvous pour deux, I recommend these products that are fairly widely available and won’t cause your credit cards to groan: 1. Domaine Paul Mas M Côté Mas Blanc de Blancs Brut, Côteaux du Languedoc, rated Very Good+, about $16; Juvé Y Camps Pinot Noir Brut Rosé Cava, rated Excellent, about $18; Vincent Crémant de Bourgogne, rated Excellent, about $20; and Bianchi Extra Brut Sparkling Wine, Mendoza, rated Excellent, about $22. For those of you looking for more elevated, refined and …

The Fourth Day of Christmas with Champagne & Sparkling Wine


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The Moët et Chandon Nectar Impérial Rosé is a Brut Rosé for grown-ups. The blend, depending on the vintages involved, tends to be 45 to 55 percent pinot noir, 35 to 45 percent pinot meunier and 5 to 10 percent chardonnay, with 20 to 30 percent reserve wines. The color is a ruddy copper-smoky topaz hue; tiny bubbles form a seething torrential up-surge. The beguiling bouquet and the round flavors are characterized by blood oranges, red currants and strawberries both ripe and dried, all sifted with elements of chalk and limestone; the result is a Champagne that’s very dry and austere but svelte and supple, almost dense through the mid-palate. A few minutes in the glass bring in traces of softly ripened peaches with mint and hints of rose petals, flint and white pepper. Whatever delicate overtones it manifests, this is a substantial, savory sparkling wine. 12 percent alcohol. Excellent. …

The Third Day of Christmas with Champagne and Sparkling Wine


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The regulations that govern the Alta Langa district in Piedmont are quite specific. The region 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 Rosé 2014, Alta Langa, is 100 percent pinot noir, aged in bottle on the lees for at least 30 months. The color is a beguiling coral-topaz hue, enlivened by an energetic stream of tiny bubbles; subtle notes of raspberries and red …

Weekend Wine Notes: 12 Wines for (Last-Minute) Giving and Getting


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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I had to insert the term “Last-Minute” to the title of this entry, which I should have posted on Friday or at least yesterday, because here it is, Sunday. Still, wine stores are open today in many states, and there’s always tomorrow. I picture My Readers on an endless whirl of parties, receptions, open houses, brunches, wassails, carol-singing and what-not, giddily essaying the Yuletide with customary joy and merriment. For any or all of these festive occasions you will require a bottle of wine as a present for your host or to contribute to the groaning board. If that’s not — let’s face it — the case, you may still need a bottle of wine to take to the family or friends dinner on Christmas Day. There should be a bottle here or several to suit every taste and credit card, six whites, six reds. The price range starts at …

Sipping SIP-Certified Pinot Noir


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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What connects these eight pinot noir wines, besides a general geographical position along California’s Central Coast from Monterey County in the north to Santa Barbara County in the south, is that they are certified by SIP: Sustainability in Practice. (So, nothing north of San Francisco, no Russian River Valley, no Sonoma Coast or Anderson Valley or Carneros.) SIP is a not-for-profit organization that certifies wineries and vineyards that adhere to methods of preserving and protecting the environment and employing business practices that seek to ensure the viability of the environment for the present and the future. It is, then, a connection of philosophy and methodology rather than of actual winemaking regimen. You will see, for example, that the winemakers responsible for this roster vary widely in their use of oak barrels, from no new oak at all to a considerable amount. And obviously the terroir and climate differ markedly; …

Bass Phillip Estate Pinot noir 2015


This post is by Edward from Wino sapien


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I don’t taste enough Bass Phillip wines to answer the question. . .  Are they getting better or am I just becoming more attuned to the idiosyncrasies? Is there a difference?

This my second bottle from the Santini wine list. . . a lazy decision, but I liked the first bottle so much. . . sealed with a pro-cork. . . medium in colour, strawberry and raspberry, earth and a beautiful savoury porcini edge. Lovely in the mouth – brisk acids, fine tannins, pleasing movement and weight. 92-93.

Lucas & Lewellen Brut Sparkling Wine 2016 Santa Barbara County


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Lucas & Lewellen is one of the more prolific wineries in Santa Barbara County as evident by their large wine portfolio and popular Solvang tasting room. Most of the winery’s 40+ wines wear the Lucas & Lewellen label signifying that they are produced from estate grapes from either Goodchild Vineyard, Los Alamos Vineyard, or Valley View Vineyard. I recently received a sample from their Los Alamos Vineyard — the Lucas & Lewellen Brut Sparkling Wine 2016 Santa Barbara County ($36).

This sparkling wine is composed of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay that according to the winery, “is a clear expression of the estate Los Alamos Vineyard terroir”. These 278 acres stretching for over a mile of Highway 101 just south of Los Alamos in the Santa Ynez AVA. Over 20 varieties of grapes are planted – with the Rhône, Burgundy and Bordeaux regions well represented – and with some …

Domaine Confuron-Cotetidot Charmes-Chambertain 2005


This post is by Edward from Wino sapien


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13.5%.  Cork. Cellar.

A relative lull in my consumption of wine, I wonder if it might be a secular rather than a seasonal change. . . I feel curiously more inclined to read or walk or lift embarrassingly modest weights. . .

I’ve been reading about the beginners mind but try as I might, I can’t seem to approach this bottle without preconceived ideas, I think it’s the last of my clutch of 05 Confuron-Cotetidots, mostly they’ve given only modest pleasure.

Mr Sheen and corduroy. . .  spice and earth, beets and dark red fruit, middle in age. . . a biggish frame, quite deep and firm, muscled tannins. . . bold and faintly medicinal, quite convincing, but never beautiful. 91-92.

Right Bank and Truffle Hill from Left Coast Estate


This post is by Todd Godbout from WineCompass


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