Wine of the Day, No. 554


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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I’m a fan of the pinot noir and syrah from Sosie Wines, so I was happy to receive a sample of the Sosie “Bare Necessity” Sparkling Rosé 2018, made from 100 percent syrah grapes from the Vivio Vineyard in Bennett Valley. (This AVA, approved in 2003, lies almost entirely with the Sonoma Valley appellation, with some overlap into Sonoma Coast and Sonoma Mountain AVAs. It receives a moderating influence of morning fog and cool breezes from the Pacific.) I was not disappointed. Made in the Champagne method of second fermentation in the bottle, this delightful sparkler offers a bright smoky topaz-copper hue enlivened by a steady surge of tiny glinting bubbles; arresting aromas of blood orange, raspberry and red currant are permeated by notes of apple and graphite; a few moments in the glass add deeper hints of pomegranate and cloves, smoke and damp flint; this sparkling wine is …

30 Great Wine Bargains of 2019


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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In a sense, the “30 Great Wine Bargains of 2019” is more instructive that the “50 Great Wines of 2019” that I posted a few days ago. The latter is a proposition for dreaming; the former is about realistic goals and purchasing. Prices range from $10 to $20. The proportion is two sparkling wines (both Cava but different styles); three rosé wines (also of different styles); 16 whites and nine reds. Geographically, the breadth includes California (8), Italy (5), France and Spain (3 each), Oregon and South Africa (2 each), and Argentina, Austria, Chile, Germany, New Zealand, Portugal and Slovenia (1 each). Call us diverse, here at BTYH! Looking at this roster, I can’t help thinking what a great and reasonably-priced list this would make for restaurants and by-the-glass programs. Anyway, enjoy, in moderation, of course.

These wines were generally samples for review.

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Aia Vecchia Vermentino 2017, Toscana, …

50 Great Wines of 2019


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The annual “50 Great Wines” of the just completed previous year is a project I look forward to each January. It gives me the opportunity to share with My Readers the favorite wines I tasted or rather shamelessly consumed during that time. Remember, though, this is not a list of the “greatest” wines available in 2019 or the “best” or “most exciting” in the world. I don’t encounter enough wines to make that sort of assessment. These 50 selections are, however, the ones that, within the range of wine I tasted, struck my nose and palate and memory as particularly evocative and expressive.

California, the state from which I receive most of my samples, dominates this list. In fact, 31 of the wines were made in the Golden State, followed by France (6), Italy (5), Oregon (3), Germany (2), and one each from Australia, Portugal and New York state. The …

Weekend Wine Notes: An Eclectic Array


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Well, this one was fun. I offer 12 wines, mostly red but some interesting whites, deriving from regions and vineyards all over the place. The roster includes two California merlots of different but equally compelling styles; an “orange” riesling from Oregon; a light-hearted and refreshing zinfandel from Mendocino; a couple of blends from the South of France, one a rosé; two very interesting and unusual red blends from Paso Robles; a textbook malbec from Mendoza that delivers good value at $15. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the geographical, historical and technical data that I dote upon for the sake of quick and incisive notices, ripped, as it were, from the stained pages of my bedraggled notebooks. The intention is to pique your interest and whet your palate. Enjoy, in moderation, please.

These wines were samples for review.

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Breaking Bread Zinfandel 2018, Redwood Valley, Mendocino. …

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If You Knew Sosie….


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The name is pronounced “soh-zee,” and in French it means “lookalike” or “doppelganger.” I assume this play on words refers to husband and wife Scott MacFiggen and Regina Bustamante, who founded the winery based on a shared vision of European elegance and balance from selected vineyards in Sonoma County. Native yeasts are employed; use of oak is carefully calibrated; acidity is high to give the wines liveliness, palate-appeal and drinkability. If the three wines reviewed here are an indication, the thoughtfulness behind the Sosie wines results in great depth, dimension and sheer beauty. Production, sadly, is tiny.

These wines were samples for review.

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The Sosie Wines Vivio Vineyard Roussanne 2015, Bennett Valley, fermented with native yeast and spent 12 months in neutral oak. It displays a light straw-gold hue and subtle aromas of bee’s-wax and acacia, pear and meadow flowers; a few moments in the glass bring out …

Weekend Wine Notes: 12 Excellent Wines


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The theme today is excellence in diversity. The wines — five red, five white and two pink — illustrate the notion that great wine can derive from anywhere wine grapes are grown and excel within the parameter of their intention and purpose. Excellent wines don’t require the “best” grapes; notice we do not touch on chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon in this post. (O.K., there’s a dollop of cabernet sauvignon in one blend.) There’s diversity in price too, ranging here from $12 to $59. I won’t go so far as to say that there’s a wine for every taste here — we’re all too individual for that — but I wouldn’t be surprised if plenty of My Readers found wines to like among this dozen. As usual in the Weekend Wine Notes post, I eschew the historical, geographical and technical details on which I normally dote for …

Wine of the Day, No. 506


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The 40 hectares of Domaine Sainte-Marie — a hair under 99 acres — in the 18th Century belonged to a religious house, the Chartreuse de la Verne. After being secularized during the French Revolution, the vineyard passed through multiple owners until 2007, when it was acquired by the Duburcq family. Geographically, the estate lies near the incredibly picturesque hamlet of Bormes-les-Mimosas, about 21 kilometers west of St-Tropez, in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. The climate is, of course, Mediterranean. The property is certified organic and biodynamic. Our Wine of the Day is the Domaine Sainte- Marie VieVité Rosé 2018, Côtes de Provence, a blend of 30 percent each cinsault, grenache and syrah with 10 percent carignan. The color is very pale onion skin with a tinge of peach; this is a subtle and delicate rose, redolent of strawberries, smoke, damp flint and tangerine; a few moments in the glass bring in …

Alternative Reds: Not Cab., Mer., or P.N.


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No, friends, there’s not a darned thing wrong with cabernet sauvignon, merlot or pinot noir wines — unless they’re made in an overwrought, obtrusive manner — but they tend to dominate the discussion of the world’s red wines and so-called “noble” grapes. If you’re just a tad weary of those wines, I offer alternatives in today’s post, with grapes that include alicante bouschet, carignan, malbec, petite sirah, sangiovese, tempranillo, syrah/shiraz and tannat. Our Seven League Boots touch down in Mendoza, Tuscany, Paso Robles, Alentejo (Portugal), Chile’s Maule Valley, Apulia, Arroyo Seco, Oregon’s Umpqua Valley and Monterey County. Oh the things you’ll see! And the wines you’ll taste! Enjoy, in moderation, of course.

These wines were samples for review.

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Malbec is not exactly an unknown grape in the United States. One cannot go into a liquor store or big box venue without encountering shelves and boxes of malbec wines from …

The State of the Rhone Nation


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Last month the Rhone Rangers presented a seminar on the State of the Rhone Nation at City Winery in Washington D.C. The seminar was moderated by local wine writer Dave McIntyre and featured seven prominent American wine growers who specialize in Rhone grape varieties. The Rangers mission is to promote American Rhone varietal wines, specifically, those that include “75% of one of the twenty-two traditional Rhone grape varieties as approved by the French government for the wines of the Cotes du Rhone“. The non-profit consists of over 100 winery members with the majority located in the Paso Robles AVA, followed by Sonoma County, Santa Barbara County, and the Lodi AVA. Other regions represented in the seminar and the associated trade-consumers tastings were Monterey County, Santa Lucia Highlands, El Dorado AVA, and the Monticello AVA in Virginia. This latter region was represented by Horton Vineyards where the late Dennis …

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


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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. 488


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As we creep closer to outdoor grilling season — or perhaps you’re already deep into it — consider the Beckmen Vineyards Cuvee Le Bec 2017, from Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley. This Southern Rhone Valley-style blend of 47 percent syrah, 35 percent grenache, 11 mourvèdre and 7 counoise — fermented with native yeast and aged in French oak, 15 percent new barrels, 85 percent neutral — would be a natural with such items as grilled pork chops, leg of lamb or sausages. Nothing is heavily extracted here but presented with good balance and poise. The color is medium ruby, shading to a vivid magenta rim; aromas of black currants and plums, infused with briers and brambles, open to notes of red cherry and cranberry with burgeoning hints of loam and ground cumin and allspice, with a touch of the latter’s fragrant asperity. The wine is lively and alluring on …

Explore #WeAreMarylandWine During Maryland Wine Month


This post is by Todd Godbout from WineCompass


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The Maryland Wineries Association has designated March as Maryland Wine Month and to follow the action they are promoting the #WeAreMarylandWine (in addition to #MDWine #MDWineTrails & #MDWineMonth) tag on all social media platforms. There are also numerous events and activities scheduled at various wineries and retailers across the state — all listed on the MD Wine website. So we decided to dedicate more time this month to visit the Free State and visited two that are open seven days a week – navigating with theCompass Craft Beverage Finder.

We started at Catoctin Breeze Vineyard, located north of Frederick on the Route 15 Wine Road. Being a club member, our tastings were complimentary so we went through both their Signature ($10) and Sweet ($8) tastings. After previous visits, I have discussed their wonderful dry Estate Syrah, Estate Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay among others. So let me venture into the …

Visiting Clos Pegase Estate Winery Calistoga Napa Valley


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


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Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Visiting Clos Pegase Estate Winery in the Calistoga AVA of Napa Valley

When people think of Clos Pegase Estate Winery in the Napa Valley, they think of mainly three things:

  1. Clos Pegase Chardonnay
  2. Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon
  3. The famous architecture of the Clos Pegase Estate Winery, and the art collection within.

My recent visit to the Hess Collection Winery, with its extensive art collection, alerted me to the presence of another winery with an impressive art collection: The Clos Pegase Estate.

Origins of the Clos Pegase Estate Winery

The original owner and creator of Clos Pegase was Jan Shrem.

He was born in Columbia to Jewish-Lebanese parents.

After emigrating to the USA as a child, he made his way through the University of California, at Los Angeles selling encyclopedias.

Then he parlayed this experience into …

Weekend Wine Notes: Nine Robust Reds for Superbowl Snacks


This post is by from Bigger Than Your Head


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Oh, sure, you’re thinking, “Hey, F.K., this is America! We drink beer when we watch the Super Bowl!” All right, I understand the issues involved, but even when you’re talking about barbecue nachos, baby-back ribs, Sloppy Joes, prime rib sliders, even certain varieties of chili and quesadillas, a large-framed, robust wine can be as appropriate as beer, though, I confess, not with super-spicy food laced with serranos and such. Anyway, following that premise, I offer nine examples of the sorts of wine you could serve this Sunday while watching two teams neither of which apparently deserve to be there contending on the gridiron of valor. Prices range from a comfortable $14 and $18, good for supplying bottles to crowds of football fans, up to $60. As usual with these Weekend Wine Notes I deliver no elements of technical, geographical or historical data for the sake of quick, …

Wine of the Day, No. 462


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Chateau de Campuget traces its origin in what is now the Costières de Nîmes AOC to 1640. The year cited in the Campuget “1753” Rosé 2017 refers to the date of a document that mentions the vineyard. Costières de Nîmes is the southernmost vineyard region of the Rhône Valley, lying between the city of Nîmes and the western marches of the Rhône river delta. The city, which has a long prehistory, became a Roman colony around 28 BC. Fifty-nine percent of the production of the AOC is red wine; 37 percent rose; and only 4 percent white. Campuget “1753” Rosé 2017, Costières de Nîmes, is a blend of 80 percent syrah grapes and 20 percent vermentino, made all in stainless steel. The color is a bright tawny copper-salmon hue; aromas of raspberries and pomegranates carry hints of cloves and citrus blossom, with a touch of grapefruit underneath. This offers more …

Weekend Wine Notes: 12 Excellent Wines to Begin the Year


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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 …

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


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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 …