Posts in USA
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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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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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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The Intersection of Wine and Spirits: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Red Wine

At a recent family wedding, an uncle-in-law was especially eager to chat with me. He, a life-long Scotch drinker, was excited about a wine. Not only was he excited internally, I could read it on his face and in his body language. He meant it! He told me that he and his wife were buying it by the case and telling all of their friends about it. 

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Cliff Lede's Just-Released Pair

Cliff Lede 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley: This is a succulent and lush Sauvignon Blanc with gooseberry, papaya and nectarine heightened by a scintillating Calvados and Key lime edge…. The judicious use of 10% Sémillon and 3% Sauvignon Vert gives this wine just the verve it needs to set it part from most other Napa Sauvignons. Not only is this a delicious white wine value overall, it is astonishingly well-priced for Napa. 

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Crafting & Coaxing Sauvignon Blanc at Ehlers Estate

Laura Díaz Muñoz seems to have a way with Sauvignon Blanc. Her purposeful techniques in the vineyard (only removing leaves in contact with grape clusters on the morning sunlight side of rows) and winery (administering micro-doses of oxygen during fermentation then performing weekly lees battonage in stain steel drums for six months of aging) resulted in a fascinating wine. It's an invigorating and textural Sauvignon Blanc that is a welcome change from the usual Napa profile.

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Trading a Plane Ride for a Pinot Noir

I love airplanes. So when I was invited to take a ride on The Spirit of Benovia, the renovated C-53 World War II aircraft that participated in the D-Day invastion, I was beyond excited. Then, realizing that other commitments wouldn't allow me to participate sent me into a tailspin.  At least I had the chance to savor the wine crafted and named in honor of the plane to be released for the 75th "vintage" commemoration of that heroic WWII campaign to liberate France.

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Beckmen Vineyards New Releases

Beckmen Vineyards 2017 Cuvée Le Bec Santa Ynez Valley: I am delighted to be head over heels for this wine’s 2017 incarnation. It's got a soft and juicy texture with a sleek, supporting tannin structure and pithy acidity. It's spicy. It's bramly. It's chock full of blackberries and rimmed with black plum skin.

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Rodney Strong Over-Delivers on This Quintet

This array of Rodney Strong wines over-delivers for its price points. Per my previous post, this isn’t surprising. They have a smartly balanced oak influence, meaning that any new oak flavors present are well-integrated and don’t over take the fresh fruit nuances. They also do a terrific job of showing regional and varietal typicity. I’ll gladly endorse these, especially the Chardonnay Chalk Hill and the Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley.

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The Engaging New Releases from sidebar cellars

sidebar cellars 2016 Zinfandel Old Vine Russian River Valley: Plumped with spicy fruits, this wine is gregarious on the nose. It's hard not to love the combo of sumptuousness and structure here! Hailing from the century-old Alegria Vineyard, this is actually a field blend and includes about 10% Alicante, 10% Petite Sirah and 2% of a dozen (!) other varieties.

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Mi Sueño 2016 Chardonnay Los Carneros – A Different Dream or Vision?

Mi Sueño means “my dream” and reflects on the ambitions of founders/owners Rolando and Lorena Herrera. It was a Carneros Chardonnay that they first made together, marking the start of their Napa Valley adventure.

My proposed question in the title of a different dream or vision comes only from tasting recently two consecutive vintages of the Los Carneros Chardonnay. I was surprised but very interested in the evident differences.

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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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