Lodi Wine: Prost from Mokelumne Glen Vineyards


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During our Snooth trip to Lodi, a major theme stressed was the large diversity of grape varieties grown in the AVA.  Over 100 in fact.  But this number results primarily from the unique endeavor of one family, the Koths and Mokelumne Glen Vineyard. This vineyard is located on the east side of the Mokelumne River AVA right alongside the river and is planted with more than 50 German and Austrian grapes. It’s hard to imagine that there are even that many such grape varieties, but the Koths found them.  Their entire portfolio is listed below but we will be focusing on a few grapes:  Kerner, Bacchus, Dornfelder, Blaufränkisch, and Zweigelt.

It all started in the early 1990s when Bob Koth and his wife Mary Lou started traveling to Germany to visit their daughter Ann-Marie, who was studying abroad on a Fulbright scholarship. After becoming acquainted with German …

J.J. Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Auslese Goldkapsel 2010


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7.5%.

I have a cluster of these gold cap sweeties in my wine fridge, remnants from a small and distant windfall. They poke out at my attention, promising precision and joy. There seems to be a small market for such things, I’m not sure my drinking partners approved. . . A sugar cane / toffee apple nose, sulfur and more than a whisper of botrytis. . . a tooth ache wine – sweet and stinging; intense and pleasingly thick – like apricot nectar.

Closely related.

Six Savory Whites


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Yes, we’re well into Spring and heading toward Summer. Here’s a roster of savory, spicy, saline white wines to ease the transition through the vagaries of changeable weather and shifting winds. In truth, of course, these six diverse wines might be consumed throughout the year. Call them eminently versatile. Also mostly excellent value. Of the six wines presented here, four offer terrific PQR — Price/Quality Ratio. All are from vintage 2017.

These wines were samples for review.

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The 15.2 percent alcohol on the Ricardo Santo Semillon 2018, Mendoza, may give one pause, but somehow this absolutely lovely wine comes across as inherently delicate and elegant. It sees no oak. The grapes grow on 75-year-old vines at about 2,950 feet above sea level. The color is pale straw-gold; the nose offers spiced pear inflected by apricot and figs, with notes of lanolin and bee’s-wax and a sunny-leafy element that …

Wine of the Day, No. 487


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Serving seafood tonight? Oysters, shrimp, mussels? How about a fillet of Arctic char, marinated with lime juice, soy sauce and sesame oil, seared in the good old cast-iron skillet? Open, then, a bottle of the Claiborne & Churchill Dry Riesling 2017, Edna Valley, made from a two-acre vineyard certified by SIP: Sustainability in Practice. Fashioned all in stainless steel tanks — winemaker is Coby Parker-Garcia — this is a riesling of scintillating limestone minerality and achingly bright acidity that feels essential and elemental on the palate. The color is pale straw-gold; aromas of lychee, spiced pear and jasmine unfurl notes of quince and ginger, with a hint of cloves in the background. Savory and saline stone-fruit flavors emerge, bolstered by a touch of loam and animated by an edge of honed flint and damp, dusty roof-tiles; the whole enterprise feels fleet, lacy and transparent, an object that balances tensile strength …

#DrinkLocal at Whole Foods Market — Well sort of


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This weekend we visited our local Whole Foods Market Brew & Brau Pub intending to try the Big Poppa Biggie S’mores Imperial Stout produced by Charlottesville’s Three Notch’d Brewing Company. Unfortunately, their tap system had failed, so it was time for wine. Examining the wine list, I noticed several possible local wines from New York, Oregon, and Mendocino in California. After returning home and further research yes, the grapes were indeed, mostly sourced from within local wine regions, but not necessarily estate driven.

Madame Liberté Brut ($16.99)
There isn’t much information about the wine except that it is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir using American grapes. Thus not a local wine except it is apparently made by Gruet Winery even though the winery doesn’t list it on their website. In any case, it is a delicious sparkling wine: creamy apples and depth.

Empire Estate 2017 Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes  ($19)
Empire …

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 of the Day, No. 457


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The number in the name of the Santa Barbara Winery Lafond Vineyard 2.3 Riesling 2016, Sta. Rita Hills, indicates the level of residual sugar left in the wine after fermentation, that is, 2.3 percent. This is, in other words, a moderately, lightly sweet riesling whose scrupulously balanced character and crystalline acidity keep it zesty, refreshing and exciting. The color is very pale straw-gold, and any sweetness is really a function of the intense ripeness of its peach and lychee fruit scents and flavors, highlighted by classic notes of rubber eraser, smoke and lime peel; from mid-palate back through the lustrous flint, limestone finish and grapefruit-inflected finish, the wine is bone-dry, the whole enterprise riding on an element of exquisite tension. 12.9 percent alcohol. We happily drank this bottle with a pasta loaded with red cabbage and bacon, abetted by a touch of cream and toasted walnuts. Winemaker …

30 Great Wine Bargains of 2018, $20 and Under


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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 …

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 …

Outfit Your Holiday Table With German Wines


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Photo Credit: Jill Barth

Looking for a suitably sophisticated wine selection to serve during winter holidays? Head to Germany, a source of inspiration.

Similar to many western European wine regions, winemaking techniques were carried to Germany by the Romans, along with their other tools of conquest as they set out to claim the Alps over 2,000 years ago. It wasn’t until the 8th century that a solid German wine commerce took hold, under the imprint of Charlemagne and led by the winemaking monks. Many winemaking families trace legacies back generations, and by this I mean way back (14 generations or more—or back to the 16th century, something like this is inherent to nearly all of the wines I studied for this story).

A preference for beer poured into Germanic regions during the middle ages and the decline of vineyards continued through phylloxera, though plantings always remained a part of the …

Wine of the Day, No. 443


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A beautiful expression of the grape, the Eva Fricke Wisperwind Lorcher Riesling 2015, Rheingau, offers the character of a Chopin Nocturne — both harmonious and rigorous — in its delicacy and elegance and the tensile strength of its taut mineral structure. Made from 40-year-old vines farmed on organic principles and matured seven months on the lees in stainless steel tanks, this very pale straw-gold riesling delivers aromas of orange zest and apple skin, peaches and lychee, with highlights of jasmine and lemon balm, all conveyed with the utmost freshness and nuance; it’s a wine of hints, nods and suggestions, and not more so than in its extremely subtle sweetness on the entry, lending an alluring touch of candied quince. On the palate, though, crisp acidity reigns, along with the brightness of steely, limestone minerality; it’s quite dry, yet still delicate, almost elusive in its display of citrus and stone-fruit flavors; …

Drinking Local with Corcoran’s Wine & Cider


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Jim and Lori Corcoran have been a leader in the #DrinkLocal movement in both Loudoun County and the Commonwealth of Virginia as proprietors of Corcoran Vineyards & Cider. The couple established the winery in the early years of the Loudoun Wine Renaissance as Winery #11 when they planted the vineyard in 2001 and opened their doors three years later. Later, they were in the forefront of the local craft cider and beer, augmenting Corky’s Farm with both beverages.   Their menu includes cider as well as both dry and sweet wines as Lori specializes in unique dessert concoctions. The winery is open only on weekends and encourage picnickers, dogs and children. There’s plenty of outdoor space.

When visiting, Corcorans offers a separate cider or wine flight for $7 and a popular option for two is to split each flight.  The cider starts with the delicious dry hopped Hop’n’Pop which …

Wine of the Day, No. 433


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Grapes for the superb Forge Cellars Les Alliés Dry Riesling 2015 derive from the east side of Seneca Lake in New York’s Finger Lakes AVA. The wine ferments by native yeast, 80 percent in neutral barriques, 20 percent in stainless steel tanks. The color is pale straw-gold; scintillating elements of lemon drop, graphite, quince and celery leaf are bolstered by notes of petrol, lychee and limestone; there’s just a hint of lightly honeyed and baked peach. This is a riesling for which the term “bone-dry” was invented; it’s animated by brisk, bright acidity and a vibrant limestone-flint quality that keeps the wine lithe and resonant through the long, slightly dusty, loamy finish. The overall impression is of a potent riesling notable for clarity, crispness and depth. 13 percent alcohol. Now through 2022 to ’25. Forge Cellars is a partnership among winemakers Louis Barroul and Justin Boyette and general manager Rick …

Endless Summer with German White Wines Flight: Borell-Diehl, Weinreich, Koehler-Ruprecht, and Von Winning


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Hello Friends,

I recently had the opportunity to participate in Snooth’s ‘Endless Summer with German White Wines’ virtual broadcast and wine tasting. Mark and Claudia Angelillo of Snooth hosted special guest Matthew Kaner, Wine Director and partner of West Coast businesses Good Measure LA, Bar Covell, Augustine Wine Bar, and Dead or Alive Bar. Matthew knows that the key principles behind creating enjoyable dining experiences are to understand both the food you are serving and the wine. He’s been to Germany a few times, and the wines moved him. He told us, “The new world of German wines really made a push to make us understand there’s more than just Riesling; there’s a lot more to it, and a lot of different avenues you can go with these wines.”

With a built-in lightness and brightness, Germany produces some of the most versatile, food-friendly wines on …

#TasteTheNew with German Summer Wines


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In 1985, just 16% of German Rieslings were dry and German white wines were known for their general sweetness. Since that year, consumers have demanded drier wines and German wine producers have responded accordingly such that as of 2016, 46.3% of German Rieslings were produced in a dry style. Wines of Germany is publicizing this fact; as well as the increased quality and dryness of other white varietal wines such as Muller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc; through the #TasteTheNew promotion. Partnering with Snooth they are offering a German-4-pack for $47.80 which can be purchased here. And this week Matthew Kaner (Wine Director & Partner of Good Measure LA, Bar Covell, Augustine Wine Bar, and Dead or Alive Bar) led a discussion and sampling of these wines for various influencers. Here are my thoughts on the wines. Cheers.

Borell-Diehl Muller-Thurgau 2017, Pfalz ($12.99)
Muller-Thurgau was developed by …

Weekend Wine Notes: Nine Wines at $13 and Under


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The title of today’s Weekend Wine Notes requires no explanation. I offer nine wines priced at $13 and under, each in a group of three, divided into Washington State, California and Italy’s Veneto region. Sorry to say that a couple of them are not recommended, but it happens, n’est-ce pas? As usual in this series, I omit detailed historical, technical and geographical data for the sake of brief reviews ripped, as it were, from the ages of my notebooks. Enjoy, in moderation, of course.

These wines were samples for review.
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The Washington State wines of Charles Smith stand out on any shelf they occupy, distinguished by their stark black and white labels heavy on the graphic elements, a collaboration with Danish designer Rikki Korff. They also distinguish themselves by their solid QPR — quality/price ratio.
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Band of Roses Rose 2017, Washington State. 12.5% alc. 100% pinot …