Posts in Wine Reviews
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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A Surprising Rosé Duo from the Pays d’Oc

These two rosés surprised me.  

I expected the Arrogant Frog to be the less expensive and less complex wine. This was without knowing that the Côté Mas wine is to be marketing in 1 liter bottles – my sample arrived in a 750 ml. Yes, I succumbed to label bias. Happily, it was only briefly. 

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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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A Skim of the Alejandro Fernández Collection

So, it was with a particularly keen interest that I popped the cork on my first white from Grupo Pesquera. In fact, it’s the only white wine that the Fernández family makes, and it’s 100% Airén.

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The Gamble of Generations: Investing in a Napa Valley Vineyard & Winery

The French have a saying that it takes three generations to see the cycle of a family business: one to build it, one to grow it then one to destroy it. I don’t know what the rest of the Gamble family farming business looks like today, but I can say that the “Gamble” of generations has paid off on the wine front. It seems Tom has started a new cycle, without finishing the first one!

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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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Barone Ricasoli – Castello di Brolio Duo

What a fascinating comparison of a Riserva and a Gran Selezione from the same cellar and vintage! There is a clear sibling resemblance via the fervent focus on savoriness. I would love to taste these again together in five then in ten years time to see how they evolve. I am confident that neither will disappoint.

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Faust 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon: Worth a Pact with Mephistopheles

Faust 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley: This is quintessential Napa Cabernet – in taste and in sourcing. It has a tantalizing succulence corralled by vivacious structure. The tannins are hedonistically velvety and the refreshment is almost electric – perfect for harnessing the richness of the densely textured and generously full-bodied palate.

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A San Marzano of a Different Provenance

The words San Marzano – to me – conjure up those delicate-skinned, super sweet, lower acidity plum tomatoes that are the darlings of so many scrumptious pasta sauces. So, I felt sheepish when I learned that the San Marzano cooperative is not based in Campania, like the (arguably) world’s most famous tomatoes, but rather on the Salento Peninsula – the heel of the Italian “boot”. Mea culpa.

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An Intro to Intrinsic Wine Company

Washington winemaker Juan Muñoz-Oca takes wine craftsmanship to a zany new place with these two wines under the premise that the environment affects winemaking like it does street art. As it is true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so it is also in the glass of the imbiber.

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BenMarco 2016: Yes, Please!

I am loving the lower alcohols coming out of all peaks and crevices of Mendoza today. The wines were always delicious to taste, and now they are becoming more and more drinkable. This trio from Dominio del Plata’s BenMarco line provides a good set of examples. No wine exceeds 13.5% abv, and their freshness levels are exhilarating.

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Grace, Harmony & Approachability from Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Gresy

Barbaresco Martinenga 2014: This is ballerina-like, elegant and deceitfully feathery-feeling for a (usually husky) 14.5% abv wine. To this point, its lighter-weight style might disappoint those hoping for a more bruising – more typically robust – style of young Barbaresco. However, those are far more commonplace – and more intellectual rather than enjoyable early on, so it is a true pleasure and relief to taste this beauty from Marchesi di Gresy.  

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