Wine of the Day, No. 513


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The entrancing Raeburn Rosé 2018, Russian River Valley, is a unique blend of 66 percent zinfandel, 26 percent pinot noir and 8 percent grenache, made all in stainless steel. The color is pale copper-salmon, the classic “onion skin” hue; notes of rose petals, lilac and watermelon permeate aromas of strawberries and raspberries steeped in Earl Gray tea, with a hint of damp flint in the background; this rosé offers one of the most seductive textures I have encountered lately, balanced in exquisite poise of crisp, lip-smacking acidity and an almost talc-like presence on the palate; subtle red berry flavors are highlighted by touches of guava and peach with undertones of smoke and mint, all culminating in a finish of seashell delicacy and elegance. 13.5 percent alcohol. Winemaker was Joe Tapparo. Excellent. About $19.

A sample for review, as I am required to inform my readers by fiat of the …

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 …

Wine of the Day, No. 512


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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It may seem whimsical if not downright waggish to feature a rosé wine for this iteration of the Wine of the Day when much of the country east of the Mississippi River is inundated by rain generated by Hurricane Barry. It has been raining in Memphis since Saturday, it’s raining today, and it should rain for two more days. Perhaps, however, a delightful, well-made rosé will provide a respite from the dampness and the gloom and a lift to the spirits. Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Rosé 2018, Pays d’Oc, a blend of 60 percent grenache and 40 percent cinsault made all in stainless steel, will do the job nicely. Pays d’Oc is a vast wine-producing region in southern France that stretches from Nimes in the east to Perpignan and Carcassonne in the west. Vines were planted in this area 2,500 years ago by the Greeks, followed by the Romans, who …

Weekend Wine Notes: A Few Sauvignon Blancs from 2018


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Sauvignon blanc wines tend to be associated with Spring and Summertime, and indeed there’s something both Spring-like and Summery about these wines — their leafy, herbal, grassy elements; their meadowy character; their sometimes piercing, sometimes subtle array of citrus and stone-fruit scents and flavors; their refreshing tart crispness and honed flint and limestone nature. Makes me want a glass of sauvignon blanc right now! What’s that? Yes, you’re right, there’s a glass of sauvignon blanc sitting on my desk right next to me. How fortuitous! Anyway, today’s Weekend Wine Notes presents brief, incisive reviews of five examples of the grape, three from California, one from New Zealand, one from Italy’s northeastern Collio region. While I typically avoid in these posts the data about geography, history and technique that I usually include in wine reviews, I mention here that the only one of these sauvignon blancs made all in …

Wine of the Day, No. 511


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Searching through the white wine fridge for something to drink with seared swordfish and a parsley-caper vinaigrette, I came across a bottle of the Robert Mondavi Winery Oakville Fumé Blanc 2015, Napa Valley. “Whoa,” I thought, “how long has this been around?” Turns out that, according to the winery’s website, this is the wine’s current vintage, a state I think is just fine, since it’s drinking beautifully now. Ninety percent barrel fermented and then aged nine months in French oak — but only eight percent new barrels — the wine includes 14 percent semillon grapes to its 86 percent sauvignon blanc. Robert Mondavi Oakville Fumé Blanc 2015 offers a very pale straw-gold hue and distinctive aromas of lemongrass and green tea, lime peel and gooseberry, pear and quince, all presented in a subtle melange bolstered by layers of smoke and flint; a few moments in the glass unfurl seductive …

Wine of the Day, No. 510


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Looking for something different in a white wine? Of course you are! Especially when it’s cheap and contains grapes you never heard of! The wine is the Herdade do Esporão Monte Velho 2017, from Portugal’s vast Alentejano region that covers most of the central and southern portion of the country. The wine is a blend of 40 percent antão vaz grapes, 40 percent roupeiro and 20 percent perrum, made all in stainless steel. The color is pure medium gold; arresting aromas of ginger and quince, pear, cloves and allspice unfurl notes of hay and heather and billows of meadow flowers; chiming acidity cuts a swath on the palate, making for a lively, engaging texture; the wine is quite dry though flavorful with touches of roasted lemon and stone-fruit; from mid-point back through the finish, it becomes increasingly saline and savory, couched in limestone minerality. 14.5 percent alcohol. Not particularly …

Wine of the Day, No. 510


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Looking for something different in a white wine? Of course you are! Especially when it’s cheap and contains grapes you never heard of! The wine is the Herdade do Esporão Monte Velho 2017, from Portugal’s vast Alentejano region that covers most of the central and southern portion of the country. The wine is a blend of 40 percent antão vaz grapes, 40 percent roupeiro and 20 percent perrum, made all in stainless steel. The color is pure medium gold; arresting aromas of ginger and quince, pear, cloves and allspice unfurl notes of hay and heather and billows of meadow flowers; chiming acidity cuts a swath on the palate, making for a lively, engaging texture; the wine is quite dry though flavorful with touches of roasted lemon and stone-fruit; from mid-point back through the finish, it becomes increasingly saline and savory, couched in limestone minerality. 14.5 percent alcohol. Not particularly …

Left Coast Cellars: Pink and White


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Willamette Valley’s Left Coast Cellars grows pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris and blanc, making these grapes into generally delicious and accessible wines. I’m a fan of the pinot noirs, but today let’s look at whites and pinks. The winery, founded in 2003, is certified organic, runs on solar power, participates in a salmon preservation program and employs new oak to a modest degree. What’s not to like? Winemaker is Joe Wright.

These wines were samples for review.

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When my wife tried a sip of the Left Coast Cellars Queen Bee Bubbly 2017, Willamette Valley, she said, “Can we just drink this every day?” Yes, it’s that delightful. The gently effervescent wine is 100 percent pinot noir, made in what’s called in France the methode ancienne or ancestrale, meaning that after fermentation the wine is bottled with a tiny portion of yeast and residual sugar. These elements act …

Wine of the Day, No. 509


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The Frank Family Vineyard Zinfandel 2016, Napa Valley, feels like a true classic of the genre, rich and ripe, to be sure, but restrained by acidity and mineral elements. Winemaker Todd Graff used nine percent petite sirah to the balance of zinfandel grapes and aged the wine 16 months in French oak, 33 percent new barrels. Most of the grapes derived from the Chiles Valley AVA, in the Vaca Mountains, a cool, quiet, seemingly remote area northeast of Napa Valley proper; the rest of the grapes came from vineyards in Rutherford, St. Helena and Calistoga. The color is medium ruby-purple shading to a lighter rim; dominating the nose are scents of blueberries, plums and black currants, permeated by notes of mocha and sandalwood, lavender and graphite, black pepper and oolong tea; on the palate, this zinfandel is about as sleek and polished as they come, though imbued with briery and …

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. 508


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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One could define a soliloquy as the act of talking to oneself. In drama, characters utter soliloquies when they speak their thoughts to the audience despite the presence of other characters on the stage, who tend to stand at a remove. Wines don’t talk to themselves, of course; they speak to us through the agencies of color, scent, flavor and texture, but it’s a private experience, one we internalize through our senses and our feelings. We make that experience public by talking about the wine — “Wow, that was great!” — or by writing about it as I and many other of my colleagues in this endeavor do. We take wine’s ephemeral, constantly evolving and disappearing soliloquy and give it permanence, as permanent, that is, as any process recorded on the fleeting vacancies of paper and electricity.

The Flora Springs Soliloquy 2018, Napa Valley, offers an eloquent expression of …

Wine of the Day, No. 507


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Artezin Wines was launched in 2002 as a brand for exploiting old zinfandel vineyards in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. It’s part of The Hess Collection of labels and wineries. Randle Johnson has been winemaker for Artezin since its inception. The product line has expanded from a basic offering to single-vineyard zinfandels and other red varieties like carignan, petite sirah and, unusually, the rare charbono. The Artezin Old Vines Zinfandel 2017, Mendocino County, contains 15 percent petite sirah grapes; the wine aged in one- and two-year-old French oak barrels. The color is a warm medium ruby hue that tapers to an ethereal rim; it’s a pure and intense wine that offers classic notes of blueberries and fruitcake, cloves and black tea, with wisps of orange rind and strawberry; the texture is lithe and supple, not quite dense but certainly rife with dusty, graphite-tinged tannins; with a few minutes in the glass, …

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 …

Wine of the Day, No. 505


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Sometimes a dish and a wine coexist with such seamless harmony that the pairing seems inevitable, if not eternal. On the other hand, we’re just talking about food and wine here, two items that are probably the most ephemeral of consumer products. Let’s not get so excited about it! Still, this match was really great. I made a recipe from The New York Times for Leek, Turnip and Rice Soup, adding cabbage, romaine and herb croutons. What to drink? From the white wine fridge I plucked the Weingut Neiss Riesling Trocken 2016, from the Pfalz region of Germany. It was better than nice. Notice that the label doesn’t mention a village and vineyard, as in Bernkasteler Badstube or Ürziger Würzgarten (both from the Mosel). On the other hand, this is a Gutsabfullüng wine, meaning “estate-bottled,” an important distinction in this case because the Weingut Neiss vineyards are certified organic. Fermented …

Weekend Wine Notes: Six at $14 and Under


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Sometimes delicious and delightful rate highest on our pleasure scale. And inexpensive? Oh yes, always inexpensive where quality is appropriate. Today I offer six delicious and delightful wines wines priced from $10 to $14 that will make your weekend — and the rest of the week — a bounty of drinking pleasure, three whites, two rosés, one red. Originating in Italy and Argentina, these wines are primarily light-hearted, fleet and highly drinkable, perfectly matched for the cuisine of patio, porch, picnic and, in the case of the Renzo Masi Chianti 2018 that concludes this post, meaty fare hot from the grill. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the data of history, geography and technical matters — much as I dote upon that information — for the sake of quick incisive reviews meant to whet your palate and pique your interest. Enjoy! Always in moderation.

These wines …

Wine of the Day, No. 504


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Pellet Estate is named for Henry Alphonse Pellet (1828-1912), a Swiss immigrant who made wine in Napa Valley for other people between 1859 and 1865 and then founded his own winery in St. Helena in 1866. Owners are Greg and Robin Krill, who came to Napa Valley in 2000. Greg Krill is one of the foremost numismatists and dealers in rare coins and currency in the country. The couple purchased Henry Pellet’s vineyard in 2005 and replanted it mainly to cabernet sauvignon with a fraction of merlot and petit verdot. Grapes for the Pellet Estate Unoaked Chardonnay 2017, however, derive not from Napa Valley but from the Sunchase Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap AVA, officially recognized just last year by the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Long acknowledged as a unique geographical location because of its coolness and Pacific winds, Petaluma Gap was carved out of …

Six White Wines That Will Get You through the Summer


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Allow me to help you breeze through Summer with a selection of interesting and tasty white wines. My fantasy about the months that run from June through September is that everyone is perpetually hurrying off on picnics, lounging on the patio or porch, contemplating the meaning of life at poolside, or gathering family and friends for a simple, easy and delicious repast. O.K., well, it doesn’t really work like that — people have jobs and so on — but it’s my blog and I’ll fantasize as I wish. Whatever the case, Summer calls for cool refreshing white wines like the examples I offer today in this post. We have four wines from different areas of California, from Anderson Valley in the north to Edna Valley in the south, as well as an excellent and remarkably inexpensive wine from the seacoast of Tuscany and a riesling from the Mosel …

Wine of the Day, No. 503


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The Bertarose 2018, Veneto, from the Bertani estate widely known for superb Amarone, may be the dreamiest rosé wine I’ve tried this year. A blend of 75 percent molinara — a standard red grape of the region — and 25 percent merlot, made all in stainless steel, the wine displays a very pale onion skin hue and ethereal aromas of strawberry and melon, with notes of lilac, flint and dried thyme; brisk as a cool lake breeze and fresh as a gentle rain touching your face, this delightful rosato offers subtle yet juicy flavors of red currant and peach expressed in a beautifully spare and elegant manner, all twined in a lithe, tensile, slightly talc-like texture that concludes in a finish of seashell delicacy and limestone minerality. 12 percent alcohol. Winemaker was Andrea Lonardi. Take this wine on picnics or to a park, sip it out on the porch or …

Wine of the Day, No. 502


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Chateau Cap Leon Veyrin stands in isolation at the northern border of the Listrac-Medoc appellation. Situated far inland of the D2 road that runs through the premier regions known for the top-rated and famous estates, Listrac-Medoc is a slightly hilly area — as hilly as it gets in Bordeaux — of forests and vineyards that grow on well-drained layers of gravel soil. The estate dates back to 1810; it was acquired by the Meyre family in 1908. Current owner is Alain Meyre. The vineyard is planted to about 55 percent merlot, 40 percent cabernet sauvignon and 5 percent petit verdot. The unpretentious chateau is available for guests. The estate of 32 hectares — about 79 acres — is classified as Cru Bourgeois. Chateau Cap Leon Veyrin 2015 is a blend of 57 percent merlot, 40 percent cabernet sauvignon and 3 percent petit verdot, aged 12 months in oak, 25 percent …

22 Cabernet Sauvignon Wines, Mostly Napa Valley


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Voluptuous and flamboyant, the Cliff Lede Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, is a blend of 79 percent cabernet sauvignon, 11 percent merlot 8 petit verdot and 2 cabernet franc that aged 21 months in French oak, 49 percent new barrels. The color is black-purple-magenta, and the frank, ripe aromas encompass lavender and licorice, graphite and iodine, cassis, black cherry and blueberry tart; a few moments in the glass unfurl notes of cedar and rosemary, sage and bay leaf. The wine is broad, rich, juicy and jammy on the palate, bolstered by lush, dusty tannins and bright acidity. The alcohol pushes this cabernet’s finish into slightly sweet, high-octane zinfandel territory; a touch of restraint would be welcome. 15.2 percent alcohol. Now through 2024 to ’26. Winemaker was Christopher Tynan. Very Good+. About $65.

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Winemaker Paul Steinauer habitually crafts well-balanced, integrated and authentic expressions of …