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 …

Natural Wine at the Old Westminster Winery’s Summer Solstice Festival


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“Natural Wine is farmed organically (biodynamically, using permaculture or the like) and made (or rather transformed) without adding or removing anything in the cellar. No additives or processing aids are used, and ‘intervention’ in the naturally occurring fermentation process is kept to a minimum. As such neither fining nor (tight) filtration are used. The result is a living wine – wholesome and full of naturally occurring microbiology.” — Raw Wine

On June 22nd, Maryland’s Old Westminster Winery hosted the inaugural Summer Solstice Festival featuring natural wines from across the globe. The event was held at the winery’s Burnt Hill Farm which is their second vineyard but the first farmed using biodynamic practices. Once mature, the harvested grapes will be processed with little or no intervention in the cellar and Old Westminster will produce Maryland’s first natural wines.

But what is Natural Wine? When asked, representatives at the festival provided …

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 …

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 …

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2009


This post is by Edward from Wino sapien


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Image: middle aged wino climbing a rock near Yallingup circa July 2018. Camera bag in tow, note book and pencil at the ready. . .

A pair of reds, both worthy and terrific.

Amisfied RKV Reserve Pinot noir 2007. Central Otago. 14%. A deeply punted, very heavy bottle. The wine has a beautiful nose; plush, rich, ripe and quite delicious. Cola like, it smells and feels like a Central Otago wine, but with more finesse. Tadpole like, but convincing and enticing.

Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2009. Canbera, 14%. If the last bottle was dark red in scent, this is certainly more pink and pale purple. . . Very fresh and bright, Turkish delight and confection, the nose at least is much younger than expected. . . in contrast it feels inkier and older in the mouth.

Old Westminster Winery, Burnt Hill Farm, & The Summer Solstice Festival


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“We’re going to challenge current beliefs with unique and transparent wines – wines that offer balance, nuance, and character. We’re going to farm thoughtfully, using biodiverse cover crops, biodynamic principles and incorporating animals. And then, in the winery, we’re going to craft wines with a light hand, ferment with indigenous yeast, and bottle it all without fining or filtration. These wines will be made without makeup – a pure reflection of the time and place where they’re grown and the people who guided the process.” Drew Baker.

Photo Courtesy of
Old Westminster Winery

This is the guiding principle behind the next phase of Maryland’s Old Westminster Winery as this accomplished and innovative winery attempts to challenge contemporary winemaking through The Burnt Hill Project. The Baker family has been very successful in their previous endeavors, first by immediately impressing consumers and critics after an initial launch of Old Westminster Winery, being …

Villa Maria’s First Sip Of Summer


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This week Villa Maria Estate presented their seasonal #FirstSipNZ witter campaign and this chat featured a trio of ready for summer wines.  The winery is one of New Zealand’s most famous having operated for six decades starting as a one acre – one man shop in 1961 and growing to where founder George Fistonich is inducted to Restaurant and Hospitality Hall of Fame.  Fortunately, these wineries are widely distributed across the United States so here are some tweets why you may want to pick up a bottle or two…

Villa Maria 2018 Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough ($14)

The grapes were sourced from the Awatere and Wairau Valleys – spreading from coastal Wairau to a higher altitude in Awatere (900 feet). This provides a  mixture of warmer and cooler vineyard sites which showcase the herbal and tropical notes.

Wantirna Estate Lily Pinot noir 2016


This post is by Edward from Wino sapien


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13.5%. Yarra Valley, Victoria.

Context – paired with a fair to middling nasi lemak, a chicken curry and a beef rendang. . . no wonder my tasting partner thought this might be a Tempranillo. . . Even away from the food and the noise – it seems atypical and hard to place; it’s bigger and the tannins seem muddier than expected.

Fragrant, but elusive. . . cola like, plum and haw flakes, tobacco. . . it’s only the following day that some maraschino cherry pokes out. Bold and firm with mud and chocolate (unusual), then a sensation of sweetness, honey and size; later still rust to flavour the tannins.

A Tutorial on Left Coast Estate and Their Summer Wines


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In the past when I received samples from Oregon’s Left Coast Estate, I opened each bottle over the course of at least a week – sampling each wine multiple days.  Not so for this latest shipment of summer wines as I shared the four bottles with neighbors during an impromptu block party.  Actually, the evening turned into a mini-wine class as I discussed the Willamette Valley AVA, the Van Duzer Corridor AVA, 45 degrees latitude and Burgundy, white Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Meunier, lees, sparkling wine, and the wonderful estate that is Left Coast Estate.

We started with the 2017 The Orchard Pinot Gris ($18), a blend of 91% Pinot Gris and 9% Pinot Blanc.  While sipping I explained first how Pinot Blanc provides a bit of roundness to the wine and second, the Left Coast estate itself. Particularly, that The Orchard is a distinct …

A Little Effervescence for Mom


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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 …