Posts in Pinot Noir
FEL: Tasting Firsts 

As an admirer of FEL for many years, I was curious to see what these different vineyards had to say. I must say that I was impressed by the differences in their voices! The two Pinot Noirs offer a surprising contrast of weight, texture and fruit aromas given how small Anderson Valley is – it’s barely longer than the island of Manhattan – and how relatively closely these vineyards sit!  

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Ruby Vineyard Mystery Delivery

Three bottles of wine arrived with no advance notice on my doorstep a few weeks ago. Intrigued, I opened them all over several days last week. They are very accessible, ready-to-drink Oregon bottlings from the Willamette that carry very reasonable price tags. The Chardonnay is the Goldilocks wine of the trio for QPR. I’m so curious to learn more about why I received these wines, but it is always a pleasure to see what is happening in Oregon through the window of a sample set!

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385 Notes & 501 Scores on Sonoma Pinot Noir & Chardonnay

These Pinot Noir and Chardonnay tastings were primarily conducted in Sonoma over the course of two visits (one for ten days, one for three days). My ten-day visit was thorough, covering eight hundred and four miles (1,294 km) and 39 winery appointments.

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Trentodoc Trials

Trentodoc bubbly is on a mission to have its metodo classico wines perceived as the best in Italy. The tip-top of this category of wines is crisp and bitingly dry – in an appealing way. They are also layered with flavor.

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The Latest Sunshine-in-a-Glass from Nicolas Potel: Bellenos

When I visited Burgundy in the summer and fall of 2017, cellars were full of Côteaux Bourguignon. I was surprised at how many vignerons had embraced this category – one that falls into the gluggable, cuddly, one-more-glass-why-not-? sort of category.

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The Latest Releases of FEL and Cliff Lede

One of the most impressive attributes of the FEL wines is their consistency at a high quality level. The Pinot Noir and the Chardonnay are especially notable. I always appreciate the FEL wines’ terrific balance and clearly defined varietal character. Year over year, I am entirely confident of what I will get in a bottle of wine from FEL. So, I was excited to taste the Pinot Gris for the first time.

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All in the Family: Domaine Jaeger-Defaix

I’ve long been a fan of the wide range offered at Chablis’ Domaine Bernard Defaix. So when Didier (son of Bernard, who with his brother Sylvain oversees the domaine’s production today) asked if I would be interested in tasting the wines of the Rully domaine that his wife, Hélène, inherited in 2002, I replied with great eagerness. I’d tasted a wine or two here or there in New York, but I didn’t know much about them.

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A Master of Making it Happen: Dominique Gruhier

Screw the romance of making wine and the lifestyle of wine. It’s a tough business, and some people seem to get none of the breaks. One of those is Dominique Gruhier, based in the hills of the world-famous Épineuil.

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A Signature of Terroir and Vintage: Vignoble Angst

P.S. If you do (or even if you don’t) visit the Angsts, don’t miss the Pontigny Abbey, the largest Cistercian abbey still standing in Europe. It is stunning from afar and on the inside. There are no vines around Pontigny today, but the monks did plant there. The office of the BIVB-Chablis (the marketing and promotions board of Chablis) is in a lovely building in the center of Chablis called The Petit Pontingy, and it previously served as the abbey’s vinification site.

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It’s All About the Timing: Domaine Alain Mathias

There’s nothing like arranging winery visits on the road. Learning about good juice while in Milan on a Monday then visiting the winery on the Friday (especially on Bastille Day…and at 9 am) in Chablis is exciting. Meeting people on their home turf is the best way to learn about their wines. That is especially true when the winery is off-the beaten path, and there are young peeps making tasty stuff.

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A Surprise Arrival from Rodney Strong Vineyards

I was surprised and delighted to see a set of wines from Rodney Strong arrive the other day. I used to buy this family-owned winery’s juice in considerable volumes as the National Wine Director of Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, and I have always felt the wines represented good value for the money.

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Eye on Irancy: Maison de la Chapelle

Irancy is one of THE most beautiful appellations in France, with a postcard perfect town snuggled into the bottom of the appellation’s bird nest shape. So, it isn’t too curious that the appellation sells about 80% of its wine from the cellar doors! It’s a popular day and weekend trip from Paris.

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Joseph Wagner’s New Projects: Böen and Elouan

Joseph Wagner grew up in a Napa Valley family legend in-the-making, Caymus Vineyards. In establishing his own brands, he has impressively translated his understanding of “what the consumer wants” into a series of “must haves” that have largely been based on Pinot Noir rather than Caymus’ Cabernet Sauvignon. Staking out on his own, Joseph previously created the much-loved Belle Glos Pinot Noir line-up as well as Meiomi, the latter now under the ownership of Constellation Brands.)

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FEL Wines

FEL Wines is the newborn of the Cliff Lede duo of wine estates. Lede began his wine adventures in Napa in 2002, making Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. I distinctly remembering visiting in 2006 and tasting those first wines. They were good, so it isn’t too surprising the company’s expansion into the Anderson Valley is making good juice.

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