Short notes


This post is by Edward from Wino sapien


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A small plate of Tori karaage washed down with a few too many glasses of wine. First something raised in a ceramic egg. . . the Pat Sullivan 2017 Baw Baw Shire ChardonnayGippsland – green tinges, sap and green bean, musk. Lovely texture – quite toothy. Older, but not obviously was the Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2008 – Flint and sulphur, worked, bristling with energy. Super wine.  On to the reds and to begin the Domaine Chignard Fleurie ‘Les  Moriers’ 2015My second brief encounter – it’s lovely – floral and pretty as you might expect, with correct weight and poise and welcome cleanliness. To conclude the 2012 Bream Creek Pinot At the cola end of the spectrum, big and enjoyable, a rare blind tasting correct call.

Image. A fine plate from the quaint and worthy hole in the wall diner Washokudo. Hidden and petite the room sits …

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. 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 …

Navigating the Crus at the Beaujolais Road Show


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Discover Beaujolais



“In 1395 Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, ordered that all Gamay vines be uprooted by the following Easter. The Duke believed the cultivation methods used in raising Gamay were damaging the reputation of Pinot Noir. Although the decision sparked such uproar among the public, the Duke’s attempts at eradicating Gamay were thorough, enforcement of his ordinance did not reach Beaujolais in the very south of Burgundy, where pockets of the grape continued to grow.”, Discover Beaujolais

Discover Beaujolais

And Gamay held on in these pockets quietly, until 1937 when Beaujolais became a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). At last, Gamay was finally recognized as that region’s protected grape. Gamay is a cross between Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc and it was originally brought to the area from Croatia by the Huns in the 4th century. Beaujolais is located north of Lyon in eastern France and actually overlaps …

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 …

Le Grappin ‘Les Grèves’ 2012


This post is by Edward from Wino sapien


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Beaune, 13%, Diam, Cellar.

This seems to have moved very little since my last encounter, though I concede it’s more complex and I’m more impressed this time around. . . It seems very fresh and bright, befitting of the seal and the over the top cellaring (4 degrees C for the last 5 years). . . stones and peach, citrus oil/curry leaf, marzipan and butterscotch. Flesh and zip, fatty and lush in the mouth, frontal but with lovely length and poise. A treat. 17.5 – 18/20

Wine of the Day, No. 500


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I won’t assert that the Diatom Bar-M Chardonnay 2018, Los Alamos Valley, is the best chardonnay I’ve tasted this year, but even framing the issue in that parameter implies that it’s a pretty damned good chardonnay. Made by Greg Brewer, of Brewer-Clifton — acquired by Jackson Family Wines in 2017 — this Diatom ’18 was fashioned in small stainless steel tanks; malolactic was inhibited. The result is a chardonnay of stunning purity and intensity. The color is pale straw-gold; immediately attractive aromas of pineapple and grapefruit, green apple and cloves are enveloped in a haze of talc, honeysuckle and damp flint. On the palate, this chardonnay — delicate as a seashell but displaying plenty of energy — hovers in exquisite poise between an almost powdery texture and bright, vivid acidity, so the effect is spare, dry and elegant, yet with a back-note of ripe, cushiony stone-fruit flavors; a tide of …

Wine of the Day, No. 497


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The De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay 2018, from South Africa’s Robertson region, is certainly among the best unoaked — or “unwooded” — chardonnays I have encountered. Made all in stainless steel and resting four months in tank on the lees, this chardonnay offers a very pale straw hue and lovely purity and intensity of pineapple and grapefruit scents and flavors that unfurl notes of green apple, spiced pear, flint and smoke. The wine is bright and animated on the palate, displaying a lithe and supple texture and winsome hints of talc and orange blossom; the finish is a pool of scintillating limestone minerality. 13.2 percent alcohol. Winemakers were Danie and Peter de Wet. Great as aperitif or with a multitude of seafood dishes. Excellent. About $16, representing Great Value.

Imported by Broadbent Selections, Richmond, Va.

Review of Matanzas Journey Red Blend & Chardonnay


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


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Matanzas Creek Experience

Matanzas Creek Experience

Today I received three fabulous examples of red wine (as well as the expected Chardonnay, since the AVA is Sonoma) coming from Matanzas Creek Winery the Bennett Valley area in the Sonoma AVA.

This is one of the most picturesque wineries in Sonoma.

You will find beautiful gardens and great views.

Since its launch in 1977, the winery has built its reputation on Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot grape varieties.

These two varieties that thrive in Sonoma’s temperate climate.

Today the winery is owned by Jackson Family Wines.

The winemaker is Marcia Torres Forno.

All of the winery’s fruit comes from sustainable – farmed, estate vineyards scattered throughout the mild interior and cool coastal AVAs of the county.

Let’s start with the Chardonnay first,

2016 Matanzas Winery Journey Chardonnay

Marcia Torres Forno has been at the helm at the Matanzas winery since 2010.

More than 25 years ago, …

rock shrimp from Matanzas

15, 17


This post is by from Wino sapien


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A Margaret river pair. . . infants really, not yet ready for battle.

2017 Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay (13%). Still dominated by a shroud of oak and cream, butterscotch and curry leaf; the fruit obscured, but the quality is apparent. From 2021 perhaps.

2015 Cullen Diana Madeline (13%). A few weeks earlier, I had tried a 2013 Diana Madeline and was struck by the poise and balance. Possibly the best youngish DM I can recall. . . This in contrast is  unresolved, smudged. Black currant and a sharp prod of menthol, creamy and rich in the mouth – inky, dark chocolate tannins.

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 …

Alternative Packaging from Argentina’s Santa Julia


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Who’s been looking for wine distributed in alternative packaging to bring along during hiking, cycling, boating, or fishing trips? I know I have. And I recently received a strong contender from Winesellers Ltd. a trio of wines packaged in 375ml cans (SRP $5.99).  The wines are produced by Santa Julia, an Argentine brand that leverages their Mendoza location. The winery practices certified organic vineyard management, thus two of these wines are labeled Organic. The Organic Chardonnay provides a classic unoaked Chardonnay flavor; very refreshing with subtle depth and sufficient acidity. The Organic Malbec Rosé behaves again as expected, refreshing with layers of strawberries. However, the red Tintillo is the most interesting as the 50-50 blend of Malbec and Bonarda is fermented using carbonic maceration — a process where the grapes are fermented intact order to achieve a fruitier wine. It’s also designed to drink chilled,  or mildly so …

Amoritas Vineyards 2016 Leelanau Peninsula Chardonnay: It All Started with Wine Tasting!


This post is by Dezel Quillen from My Vine Spot


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Hello Friends,
Many years ago, Michael Goodell and Mary Northcutt met on the campus of a small university in Southern California. They got married sometime after, had a daughter and a son, and throughout the course of many a wine tasting, had a long-standing dream to own a winery and vineyard one day. They eventually settled on a 150-acre estate in Northern Michigan. The land had once been owned by the Amore family but was later abandoned. In 2013, on the gently sloping hills overlooking South Lake Leelanau, Michael, Mary, Emily, and Matthew planted Amoritas Vineyards’ first wine grapes.

Amoritas Vineyards 2016 Leelanau Peninsula Chardonnay

The family opened a new tasting room in December of 2017, and while Mary had passed away by then, the Goodells have worked hard to keep her dreams alive ever since. Thirteen sustainably farmed acres are currently under vine, and they produce a range …

Leeuwin and Giaconda


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A chardonnay pair.

First the Leeuwin, an ascendant 2015 Art Series. There is much to observe and admire, the superb acids, the texture, balance and sting. It’s the showier and more impressive of the two, the aftertaste more enduring, the energy more compelling.

The Giaconda was older, possibly on the other side of its peak, a 2012, also under stelvin. It’s the more smouldering and aromatic wine – flint and curry leaf with a citrus edge. The shape is stubby in comparison, with more sticks and stones. Traces of black cardamon.  

Image: 1/8th of the Nobu Omakase.

Chateau Chantal 30 Year Vineyard 2016 Reserve Chardonnay: Three Decades in the Making, and Delicious!


This post is by Dezel Quillen from My Vine Spot


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Hello Friends,

I would like to introduce you to one of several delicious gems I had an opportunity to try during a recent virtual chat on Twitter’s #winestudio educational wine program. Leading this segment were the good folks at Michigan Wine Collaborative, a non-profit organization working to put Michigan on the global stage of the wine world. I’ve been fortunate (and curious) enough to try a number of wines from The Great Lakes State, and appreciate some of the regional hallmarks found in their wines. These include fresh fruit flavors, natural acid brightness, restraint, low to moderate levels of alcohol, and food-friendliness—all a result of a cool climate. 

“Many viticultural experts around the world believe that a vineyard only starts to produce truly exceptional wines after it has reached 25 or 30 years of age. We believe we are there!” ~ Chateau Chantal 

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

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 …

Chateau Chantal 2016 30-year-vineyard Anniversary Reserve Chardonnay


This post is by Todd Godbout from WineCompass


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The final segment of the #WineStudio – Michigan Wine Collaborative presentation featured a pioneer in that state’s wine industry: Chateau Chantal Winery. In 1983 Robert and Nadine Begin purchased 60 acres of cherry orchards in the Old Mission Peninsula to form the foundation for Begin Orchards. They quickly diversified into winegrapes and planted various grapes varieties including Chardonnay — planted in 1986. Fast forward to today and Chateau Chantal is not only a respected winery but also a hospitality center with a B&B and rooms for executive retreats. In addition, those 30+ year old Chardonnay vines are maturing nicely and were recently the sole vintage in the Chateau Chantal 2016 30-year-vineyard Anniversary Reserve Chardonnay ($30). This barrel-fermented wine is very representative of Michigan Chardonnay with layers of lemon, peaches, green apples, creamy texture, slight vanilla, and finishing with lifting acids. A delicious wine. Cheers.

Visiting the Napa Valley Hess Collection Winery


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


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Hess Collection winery

Hess Collection winery

Visiting the Napa Valley Hess Collection Winery

If you love art and wine, you are eager to visit the Hess Collection winery in California’s Napa Valley.

You might have heard about Hess Collection Chardonnay, rich and buttery, and available in your higher end supermarket or fine wine shop.

Hess Collection Winery makes wine from many different wine varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as the various blends.

History of the Napa Valley Hess Collection Winery

It’s really fascinating to hear the history of the Hess Collection Winery.

The Winery was created by Donald Hess, who inherited his father’s company at the age of 20 in the earlier part of the last century.

In 1959, the family was very successful with their mineral water company in Europe.

But in the mid 1970s Donald came to the USA to see how the market was for mineral …

Wine Tasting at Hess Collection Winery