Clarifiying Cariñena's Contradictions

Northeastern Spain's Cariñena region takes its name from a black grape variety supposedly "born" - or at least originally discovered - there, even if a different black grape variety, Garnacha, is the dominant grape in the region today. While it follows easily enough that a region known for its red wine production may also make rosado, or rosé, it might be surprising that there's white wine crafted there, too. In the end, this all seems very natural. After all, wine - from anywhere - is full of contradictions!

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Chehalem Makeover 

Chehalem Winery has a new 'do. Since the winery's purchase in early 2018, the font of the winery name went from "ALL CAPS" to "Sentence case". (The winery's founders previously used CHEHALEM to distinguish the use of the winery from the American Viticultural Area, or AVA, of the same name.) Then, this year, the label got a full makeover (now: sexy and sleek in black vs then: wine geeky and laid-back with colorful photos). My favorite part is the offer a new nugget of information: Chehalem is a Calapooia tribe word that means "Valley of Flowers". 

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Maison de la Chapelle 2017

Winemakers travel so much these days - especially Grégory Viennois of Maison de la Chapelle and Domaine Laroche, both located in northern Burgundy's Yonne region - that it is not infrequent to taste without them, even when I'm on their home turf. I am grateful, however, that Gregory left the Maison de la Chapelle wines for me to taste when I was visiting in July. This gave me the chance to taste them over the course of several evenings. All of these wines open up nicely with air and time, which is not something that I would have witnessed tasting them in one go with Grégory.

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A New Name on a Label at Ramey Wine Cellars

Though hailing from a chilly, rugged stretch of the Sonoma Coastline, it tastes definitively like a David Ramey Chardonnay to me. By that I mean that it avoids tasting lean and meager, like so many of the wines made from neighboring vines. David's Chardonnays always show balance and finesse, with a seamlessness and ease that only a master can consistently harness.

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Following the Vintages: Gamble Family Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc

Gamble Family Vineyard 2018 Sauvignon Blanc: An impressively tropical and pristine clean expression leaps out of this glass of Gamble Family Sauvignon Blanc. Looking at the winemaking technique here, there seemingly is no stone left unturned. In 2018, there were seven different picks within ten days. The native yeast ferments were multiplied in their potential outcomes by three-quarters going into barrels and the rest lodging in stainless steel tank….

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The Reliable Stable at Stoller Family Estate

Melissa Burr has been making wine at Stoller Family Estate for years. Moreover, she was born and raised Oregonian. Her wines taste like they are ready to be the centerpiece - even the host - of a great conversation. There's clearly a lot of heart, personal grit and local love that goes into her wines! 

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Wine Recommendations An Unexpected "Upshot" of a Weekend at Hamilton College

I was with my husband's college friends and their spouses last weekend. While letting our husbands relive their days at Hamilton College - yes, named after the US Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton - all of the other women agreed (unprovoked by me) that they buy wine based on their favorite grape variety then on the wine label appearance. I encouraged a few to look into blends to expand their palate "horizons", and these Rodney Strong Vineyards Upshot wines are ones that I would absolutely recommend to them all!

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A Dual Continent Winemaking Project: Casadei and Cline

Seven years ago Stefano Casadei and Fred Cline met over dinner for the first time. Now they are making a wine named Casadei, a total heart-throb red, together. That's not all. The Cline family is importing Stefano's Castello del Trebbio wines, too. Saluti!

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Italy Meets California: Oak Farm Vineyards Fiano

This wine arrived at my doorstep with no notice, and it was a fun discovery. It is a great sip, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it anywhere to anyone. Only 376 cases were produced, so look now rather than later!

Fragrant, floral and savory, this Fiano is more expressive than most of its Campanian counterparts that have "landed" outside Italy….

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The Bollinger Non-Vintages - A Toast to Celebrating Summer

I recently had the chance to taste through these two wines thoughtfully, watching them evolve for several hours after opening. The two tenants of Bollinger's style were clearly present from start to finish: the attractive oxidation from the oak barrel aging of at least half of the base wines (all vintage and reserve wines are made exclusively using oak barrels from a range of ages) and the house's signature power supplied by a majority of Pinot Noir in the two blends.

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Troon Vineyard Makes a New Wine: Côtes du Kubli

This is a delicious wine made in a unique quasi-collaboration between Southern Oregon's Troon Vineyard and Cowhorn Vineyard, in which Cowhorn sold Troon grapes while Troon's vineyards are being replanted. It is the only wine from Troon not made with its own, estate-grown grapes. Not surprisingly, the spirit of farming is the same at Cowhorn and Troon: all of the fruit is biodynamically farmed. 

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Flung Across the Bordeaux Region, The "Côtes" de Bordeaux

Five communes comprise the Côtes de Bordeaux, and they're a curious bunch, geographically speaking. While technically all on Bordeaux's Right Bank, they don't sit together, save Francs and Castillon. 

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Reference Points from Sardinia: Olianas

Olianas 2017 Bovale Perdixi Isola dei Nuraghi: Ruby-rimmed, deeply flavorful and seriously savory, this unusual blend of 75% Bovale (aka Graciano) and 25% Carignane possesses plenty of charming top notes. Clay soils dominate the vineyard sources, so the near-grandiose breadth of the palate intensity isn't surprising.

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HIt & Miss: Côte Mas NV Crémant de Limoux Rosé Brut with Honey-Drizzled Goat Cheese Toasts & Prosciutto-Wrapped Cantaloupe

This pale pink bubbly's sweetly scented, dried rose petals laced with peach and dried strawberries lead to a generous body creamy with bubbles. The back palate turns nicely focused with thirst-quenching, acidic lift. Delightfully easy-drinking and light-bodied with plenty of mineral elegance and just a hint of toast, I prefer serving this with hors d'oeuvres rather than at the table.

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Jordan Takes Another Step to Further Its French-Forward Identity

Jordan Winery has always embraced French wine principles, from its grape varieties and its terroir-led winemaking philosophy to its beautiful Sonoma County château. Just one factor in Jordan's red wine production that was distinctly different was its use of American oak…. After a four year ramp up that began in 2011, the 2015 is the first release of Cabernet Sauvignon aged entirely in French oak barrels. 

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