Posts in Wine Reviews
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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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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Easy-Going Reds for a Sanssouci Summer

It's easy for reds to feel ponderously heavy in the summer, especially when they are concentrated, elevated in alcohol and lavished with new oak. But, we all still want to drink red wines from time to time during warm weather. Leave it to the out-of-the-box renegade - and seriously good palate and globe-trotting winemaker - Ernst Loosen to find not only a solution but also a very gently priced one. Moreover,  the wines come from France's Languedoc, a region formerly strapped with the reputation of producing clumsy, jammy wines. 

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Chef Joachim Splichal: Part II

I met Joachim Splichal when I was the National Wine Director for Smith & Wollensky Restaurant group. Smith & Wollensky was publicly traded and a hostile take-over was underway. His Patina Restaurant Group purchased the Smith & Wollensky restaurants outside of New York City, and I figured I'd never again cross paths with him.

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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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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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What Happened? Le Serre Nuove dell'Ornellaia 2015

Those who follow wine closely know that it is a living drink. Like people, wine has good and bad days. 

I deeply hoped this 2015 Le Serre Nuove was having a bad day when I first tasted it professionally then drank it over several hours with dinner. It was astonishingly disappointing. A second bottle was modestly more satisfying but effectively identical. It certainly did not live up to my standard for Le Serre Nuove, a wine that I have tasted in its various phases – different winemakers, blends, vintages and so forth – for almost two decades.

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Excellent Additions to the Donnafugata Line-Up

Donnafugata 2016 Etna Rosso Sul Vulcano: The Donnafugata labels are so vivid. This new wine’s is as fun as ever! The heaping pile of rocks seeming to symbolize Mount Etna almost looks like a pile of Nerello Mascalese grape pomace. Moreover, while the wine is as elegant as the lady on the label, I am sure that were I to inhale enough fumes from Etna, my hair might stand up as high, too! Anyway, the fancy ‘do makes me think of old, European aristocracy, and this wine is certainly as noble.

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