2014 Pinot on the River Tasting Favorites

Last month I attended, as a media guest, the 11th Annual Pinot on the River Festival in Healdsburg, California.  Pinot on the River is a Pinot Noir-centric event that offers an opportunity taste highly allocated, limited-production Pinot Noirs from up and down the West Coast.

There are a lot of stellar wine events held each year, but because of their size, none can offer the focused, intimate tasting environment we’ve created with Pinot On The River,” The combination of the small event size and opportunity to taste a focused lineup of specially selected Pinots Noirs creates the ultimate event for Pinot lovers.- Gregory S. Walter, co-founder/organizer of the event and editor of the Pinot Report newsletter

In addition to the tasting, the event included local artisan food vendors, raffle and silent auction.  Proceeds from food sales, silent auction and raffle benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County.

Favorites from the 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting

A gorgeous day on Healdsburg Square!

I’m a huge fan of Pinot Noir and this event has been on my radar for a few years but for one reason or another, I hadn’t gotten around to attending.

When I checked out the list of wineries pouring, it created what I’d call a “delightful dilemma”.

There were several wineries, whose wines can be a challenge to find in the marketplace because they are sold via a mailing list only, that have been on my “Wines To Taste” list for years…

There were plenty of wineries with big-time Pinot Noir reputations (some I’d tasted and many I hadn’t)…

And there were lots wineries whose names were new to me…

I typically go into such big tasting with a plan, but since this was an all Pinot, all the time event, I didn’t have a plan…Ok, well I didn’t have a plan other that hitting the wineries on my “Wines To Taste” list first!

Favorites from the 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting

Brian Mast of Waits-Mast Family Cellars

It was an absolutely perfect day for the event too!  Cellar temperature weather – sunny and in the upper 60s would be my guess.

Favorites from the 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting

Waits-Mast – a “new to me” producer that had an impressive line-up of vineyard designate wines…

Favorites from the 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting

Thralls Family Cellars is a very small producers (Ed still has a day job) that’s making some elegant, and harmonious wines

Favorites from the 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting

Littorai has been on my “Wines to Taste” list for years – The wines are available via mailing list only and tasting is appt only – so great opportunity to taste these world-class wines…Score!

Favorites from the 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting

Skewis – was another “new to me” producer that was quite a revelation. The wines were well-balanced, delicious and made for the table!

Favorites from the 2014 Pinot on the River Tasting

Failla is another producer that has been wine “To Taste” list for years. They produce mostly vineyard designate wines. Another mailing list only producer…The wines lived up to their considerable reputation…

The event was a walk-around tasting held in beautiful Healdsburg Plaza.  According to the event’s organizers there were about 100 wineries pouring.

It was pretty well-organized.  The wineries were mostly in alphabetical order, and there was handy tri-fold listing for taking brief notes and/or rating wines.

I’ve become fond of using a 1-5 scale for big event like this.  It makes it simpler for me to rate the wines, and consequently taste more wine.

I ended up tasting about 50 wines from about 40 wineries…far from a comprehensive tasting of all the wines available, but definitely a representative sample of the wines available.

My favorite wines (rated 4.25 or higher) from the event were:

  • 2012 Black Kite Pinot Noir Stony Terrace
  • 2012 Bruliam Pinot Noir Soberanes Vineyard
  • 2012 Failla Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
  • 2012 Failla Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Hirsch  Vineyard
  • 2010 La Rochelle Pinot Noir Dutton Ranch
  • 2012 Littorai Pinot Noir Savoy Vineyard
  • 2013 Littorai Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast
  • 2012 MacPhail Pinot Noir Rita’s Crown
  • 2012 Skewis Pinot Noir Wiley
  • 2012 Skewis Pinot Noir Salzgeber-Chan Vineyard
  • 2012 Thralls Pinot Noir Bucher Vineyard
  • 2012 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir Oppenlander Vineyard

It was a fantastic “deep dive” into Pinot Noir (along with a few Pinot Gris and even a Pinot Meunier). I love it when you can try wines back-to-back and decide (though sometimes the answer is “all of the above”) which wines you prefer.  Especially if you’re trying to decide whether it’s worth signing up for wines only available via a mailing list.

It’s an experience I highly recommend!  I’m already looking forward to Pinot on the River 2015!

Wine of the Week; Daniel Ginsburg #Champagne Grande Reserve Sous Bois Brut

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  My Wine Of The Week is the Daniel Ginsburg Grande Reserve Sous Bois Brut.

The Winery

Daniel Ginsburg (1956-2009) was the majority owner of Champagne de Meric.  For a time, it was the only American-owned winery in Champagne (Sports and music mogul Jay Z recently purchased Champagne Armand de Brignac)

Ginsburg was a man of diverse interests. He was a graduate of Northwestern University and made his professional mark in advertising and marketing.  He was an avid wine collector, founding member of the Society for American Baseball Research (which he joined when he was 15!), author (The Fix Is In: A History of Baseball, Gambling and Game Fixing Scandals, and The Art and Business of Champagne), and part-owner of the Class AA Norwich Navigators.

Champagne De Méric was founded in 1843 by the Besserat family in the village of Aÿ. The Besserat family sold the House to Ginsburg in 1997.  The house has been managed since 2005 by Reynald Leclaire, wine broker and also owner of Champagne Leclaire-Thiefaine.

The Wine

I purchased this wine from K&L Wine Merchants.  According to K&L “This is the exact same wine as the De Meric “Grande Reserve Sous Bois” Brut Champagne, now being sold under the name of the late founder, Daniel Ginsburg.”  It’s a blend of 80% Pinot Noir from Ay, Mareuil-Sur-Ay and Mutigny, 15% Chardonnay from Cramant, Avize and Oger and 5% Meunier from Cumieres.

More from K&L..It is vinified half in old oak barrels and half in stainless steel tanks for the perfect balance of rounded richness and zesty refreshment. It is in a big style and has plenty of toasty complexity, but also an elegant, small-beaded texture.”

12% alcohol Retail – $34.99

IMG_0819

My tasting notes follow: 

Golden color with plentiful pin-prick sized bubbles and a  steady bead.  It aromatically exuberant with brioche, hazelnut, quince, and a bit of citrus aromas.  On the palate, it’s full bodied and dense with a delicate creamy mousse  and a toasty baked apple, lemon and a hint of spice flavors.  It’s moderately complex, well-balanced and delicious with a lingering finish.

Rating: A-; If you’re looking for value in a full-bodied Champagne, this one is a winner!

Pair with: Main dishes like Chicken in Garlic Almond Sauce or Rabbit Ragu

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

 

Wine of the Week; 2013 Copain P2

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  My Wine Of The Week is the 2013 Copain P2

The Winery

Copain Winery was founded by winemaker Wells Guthrie in 1999.  According to the Copain website…

Wells Guthrie discovered early on that his taste in wine gravitated toward Europe in general and France’s Rhône Valley in particular. So much so, he picked up and moved with his new bride to the region to learn from the best. For two years, Wells apprenticed for esteemed winemaker and living legend Michel Chapoutier in France’s Rhone Valley. During that time, Wells was deeply inspired by the traditions and practices of French winemaking, not to mention the European attitude that wine is an essential part of life.

Guthrie started the winery with an old friend, and named it Copain, which means ‘friend” in French.

Copain is focused on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir,and Syrah. They offer three lines of wines, the entry-level “Tous Ensembles”, mid-level “Les Voisins”, and their top of the line “Single Vineyard” Wines.  In addition to this interesting blend they also produce an interesting and delicious estate Trousseau Gris.

The Wine

This is an interesting blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Pinot Gris.  The fruit was sourced from the Hein, and Klindt vineyard located in the Anderson Valley. The grapes are co-fermented and aged for five months in neutral French Oak barrels.

You get more Pinot Gris on the nose and more Pinot Noir on the palate.

12.7% alcohol; Retail – $25

IMG_0163
My tasting notes follow:
Light ruby color with strawberry, a bit of cherry and hints of floral and spiced orange rind aromas. On the palate, it’s light bodied, fresh and balanced with strawberry, spice flavors complemented by a tangy minerality and touch of tannins round out this well structured wine.  Satisfying finish. It’s very good on its own, but really shines with food!  Serve slightly chilled (~55 degrees).

Rating: A-;  An interesting blend that works so well! Positioned as a chillable summer red (which it is), but this also make a great Fall wine too!

Pair with: Thanksgiving dinner!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Rosé of the Week: 2013 François Chidaine Touraine Rosé

Summer is officially here!  Rosé season is in full bloom, although truth be told, it’s Rosé season for me pretty much year-round for me!  With that in mind, I’m cranking up my annual series of weekly “Drink Pink!“ Rosé tastings.  It’s my quest for the best Pink Porch Pounders! This week’s rosé is the 2013 François Chidaine Touraine Rosé.

The Winery

François Chidaine is one of the Loire Valley’s great success stories.  After finishing viticultural school in the mid-1980s, François, born in Montlouis,  went to work alongside his father, Yves.  At that point, the family had only four hectares of rented vineyard land in the appellation of Montlouis, in the Touraine.  When Yves retired in 1989, he passed the torch to François. Since then François and his wife Manuéla have dramatically expanded their holdings and set up La Cave Insolite, a tasting room and wine shop.

François was certified in both organic and biodynamic farming in 2003.  Their vineyards are managed biodynamically,  with ultra low yields and ‘hands off’ winemaking approach.

The majority of the Domain’s vineyards, which now encompass 37 hectares, are situated in Montlouis, with more in neighboring Vouvray, and additional land in the Touraine appellation.  The majority of their vineyards are 40- to 80-years-old.

I have a bit of a personal connection with François Chidaine because the first Chenin Blanc I ever tried was their 2005 François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Les Tuffeaux.  That was some time ago, and the memory still makes me smile!

The Wine

Grapes for this wine were sourced from several parcels from within the Touraine. They were hand harvested and gently pressed, then vinified on wild yeasts in stainless steel. It’s a blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Grolleau.

12.5% alcohol.  Retail – $12.99

Rose of the Week; 2013 François Chidaine Touraine Rosé

My tasting notes follow:

Pretty vivid pink red color with lovely floral, gooseberry, and wild strawberry aromas. On the palate it’s medium bodied, fresh and mineral driven with very good depth, especially for the price. It shows tart strawberry, raspberry flavors and a lingering finish.

Rating: A-:  This is a delightful, food friendly and pocket-friendly rosé!

Pair with: Goat cheese, light salads,  or a tomato tart.

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

 

Wine of the Week;2008 Iron Horse Brut

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2008 Iron Horse Vineyards Classic Vintage Brut.

The Winery

Iron Horse Vineyards is a small, independent, estate, family owned wineries located in cool, foggy Green Valley in western Sonoma County. The founding partners, Audrey and Barry Sterling first saw it in the pouring rain in February 1976. Driving down Ross Station Road, they were sure they were lost until they crested the knoll and the view opened up to 300 acres of gentle rolling hills and a wall of trees behind that looked like Camelot to them. Incurable romantics, and having extraordinary vision, they bought the property in just two weeks.

Iron Horse is truly a family affair. Audrey and Barry’s daughter Joy Sterling is the CEO and lives at the foot of the vineyard.  The Sterlings’ son Laurence, his wife Terry and their children moved to Iron Horse in 1990 and built their home on the far southwest corner of the property. Laurence is Director of Operations. Audrey and Barry are retired, but still reside at the heart of the estate in the original Victorian built in 1876

Iron Horse is best known for their sparkling wines, but they also produce elegant estate-bottled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Green Valley in the coolest, foggiest part of the Russian River Valley, just 13 miles from the Pacific as the crow flies. There are approximately 160 acres in vine, planted exclusively to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – with gentle, rolling hills, and a spectacular view from the winery clear across Sonoma County to Mount St. Helena.  The land was once under water many millions of years ago, and the soils is full of marine sediment and fossil. In this regard the area is similar to Chablis and Champagne in France. And the soils are perfectly suited to growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which dominate the AVA.

The Iron Horse name came from a train that cut across the property in the 1890s. The logo, the rampant horse on a weather vane, came from a 19th century weather vane found while clearing away the rubble to build the winery.

Whenever, we’re in Sonoma County Iron Horse is on our short list of “must visit” wineries. It’s a beautiful property, with what is essentially an outdoor tasting room.   We love to grab of glass of bubbly, or one of their still wines, and sit on one of the benches that overlook the property, and simply savor the view.   Drop by on a Sunday if you can, the Oyster Girls will be serving up Tomales Bay oysters shucked to order raw or barbecued.

The Wine

Fruit for the base wine was hand-harvested.  It’s a blend of 72% Pinot Noir and 28% that was aged, sur lie for over almost four years.  The dosage includes 2007 Rued Clone Chardonnay and 2010 Thomas Road Pinot Noir.

Retail – $38; Alcohol – 13.5%; Production – 2,300 cases; Disgorged – April 2013

Wine of the Week; 2008 Iron Horse Vineyard Classic  Vintage Brut

My tasting notes follow:

Very pale straw color with very active pin prick sized bubbles, and brioche, citrus zest, and a bit of hazelnut aromas. On the palate it sports a delicate mousse, explosive freshness, and tart apple, citrus, and ginger flavors, with an appealing minerality I’ve come to associate with Green Valley fruit. Lengthy satisfying finish.  >>Find this wine<<

Rating: A-:  An outstanding bottle of sparkling wine that world class!

Pair with: Raw oysters with mignonette or course!  But this is a the quintessential sparkling wine for food. Why not try with  Buttermilk fried chicken and biscuits, or a savory Mushroom and Gruyere Cheesecake!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

La Paulée Burgundy Week Tasting

Since I got into, as I call it, “the wine thing” about 10 years ago, I’ve sought out and tasted wines from the world’s major (and a few not so major) wine regions – France, Italy, Spain, California, Oregon, Washington, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Portugal, Greece, and even Croatia. All to varying degrees of course. But by way of wine, I’ve virtually traveled pretty much everywhere I’ve wanted to go in the wine world.

Except for the heart of Burgundy.

My only experience with Burgundy (Bourgogne in French) was a dinner with my wife at RN74 in San Francisco for my birthday last summer.

And you know how it is when you consider purchasing a bottle of wine in a restaurant.  You figure you’ll get (maybe) a good bottle of wine for what you could have purchased a much better bottle of wine at retail.  So we ordered by the glass.  The wines were good

And that was the extent of my Burgundy experience – my wife and I shared glasses of one white and one red Burgundy.

When I saw that my favorite wine store K&L Wine Merchants was doing a tasting In conjunction with La Paulée Burgundy Week in San Francisco (click here to learn more and review participating restaurants) from March 2-15,  I seized the opportunity. 

Hey?! Wait a minute isn’t that about two weeks? I guess that’s just how Burgundy rolls!

La Paulée de San Francisco 2014 will continue the tradition of serving guests the world’s greatest wines with cuisine from the world’s finest chefs.

The tasting featured fourteen (7 each) white and red Burgundies, including some Grand Crus.

The cost? - $20…which is less than those two glasses of wine at RN74 cost us…

photo (58)

 Here’s a quick sip on Burgundy:

  • Fairly small region in central eastern France that make some of the world’s most sought after and expensive wines
  • The two main grapes in Burgundy are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
  • Made up of six regions (from north to south) - Chablis, the Côte d’Or (considered the heart of Burgundy and comprised of the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune) , the Côte Chalonnaise, the Mâconnaise, and Beaujolais to the south.
  • The system of land ownership is complex – Burgundy has thousands of tiny vineyards, and the classification of the quality of land in Burgundy is the most elaborate on earth
  • Wines are classified into four levels (starting with the most basic and moving up) Burgundy Red and White; Village Wine, Premier Cru (“1er”), and Grand Cru.

Of the wines tasted – for the whites, there were 2 Burgundy whites, 3 Village and 1 each of Premier Cru and Grand Cru. For the reds, there was one Burgundy red, 3 Village, 2 Premier Cru, and 1 Grand Cru.

My tasting notes follow:

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  • 2011 Domaine Matrot Chardonnay Bourgogne Blanc - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne Blanc
    Pale lemon yellow color with pear, citrus and a hint of white flower aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with a wonderful mouth feel and apple, pear and citrus flavors. Medium+ finish. 100% Chardonnay. From vineyards averaging 30 years of age located next to the vaunted village of Mersault. Fantastic price quality ratio. Retail-$18! (89 pts.)
  • 2012 Paul Pernot et ses Fils Bourgogne Blanc - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne Blanc
    Aromas of apple, guava, citrus and a kiss of melon. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with vibrant acidity, and a great mouth feel. It shows apple, lime, melon, mineral and a bit of spiced lemon flavors. Long finish. Declassified Puligny Montrachet from younger vines. Definitely over-delivers for the price.  Retail- $22. (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Domaine Marius Delarche Pernand-Vergelesses - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Pernand-Vergelesses
    Restrained pear, tropical and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and fresh with pear, mineral and a bit of spice flavors. Medium-long finish. Retail-$32 (88 pts.)
  • 2011 Maison Jacques Bavard Auxey-Duresses Les Clous - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Auxey-Duresses
    Appealing pear, citrus, almond, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied, elegant, focused, and persistent with pear, apple, citrus and mineral flavors. Long finish. Terrific wine from just over the hill from Meursault! Retail-$32 (91 pts.)
  • 2011 Domaine Marius Delarche Corton-Charlemagne - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
    Generous, beautiful peach, lemon cream, spice, white flower and mineral aromas. On the palate it’s medium/full bodied, and well-structured with a silky texture, vibrant acidity, and peach, fuji apple, mineral and spice flavors. Long finish Retail -$90 (93 pts.)

photo (59)

  • 2011 Château de la Charrière Bourgogne - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne
    Subtle red fruit, earth, and hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, with good acidity, supple tannins, and bright cherry, strawberry, and mineral flavors. Very good value especially for Burgundy! Retail-$16 (87 pts.)
  • 2011 Château de la Charrière Beaune Cuvée Vieilles Vignes - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune
    Appealing cherry, raspberry, and faint floral aromas. On the palate, it’s lean, fresh, with good structure and cherry, raspberry, and mineral flavors. Long finish. Great price quality ratio! Retail-$20! (89 pts.)
  • 2011 Château de la Charrière Santenay 1er Cru Clos Rousseau - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Santenay 1er Cru
    Black cherry, raspberry, and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with fine grained tannins and cherry, raspberry and mineral flavors. Medium-long finish. Retail-$25 (88 pts.)
  • 2011 Domaine Marius Delarche Pernand-Vergelesses - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Pernand-Vergelesses
    Red fruit, spice and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied with lively acidity and cherry, raspberry, spice and mineral flavors. Medium finish. Retail-$25 (87 pts.)
  • 2011 Faiveley Monthélie Les Champs-Fulliot - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Monthélie
    Aromatic cherry, earth, and mineral flavors. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and well-structured with a silky texture, dusty tannins, and cherry, and mineral flavors. Long finish. Retail-$39 (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Domaine Marius Delarche Corton-Renardes - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru
    Exuberant red fruit aromas. On the palate it’s between medium and full-bodied, harmonious, and persistent with a silky texture. It shows beautiful red fruit, spice, and mineral flavors. Long finish. Retail-$70 (92 pts.)

The tasting was a wonderful introduction to Côte d’Or (really Côte de Beaune since only one wine was from Côte de Nuits).  My takeaways were as follows:

  • I was pleasantly surprised to know that there are some very good options available for less than $25.
  • I very much enjoyed the white Burgundies. In fact, more than I enjoy most California Chardonnay I’ve tried.  Will buy more!
  • On the other hand, only the last two red Burgundies, which were $65-$70 would make me think about giving up the California and Oregon Pinot Noir I enjoy.  In general, I found them to be a bit too lean for my palate (granted they may be better with food than on their own as tasted).
  • It can be a challenge to make an informed buying decision due to the complexities of Burgundy associated with the fragmentation of vineyards, and the tremendous diversity of styles and quality from vintage to vintage (which is why I love tastings such as this one).

Bottom line?  I’d buy the whites in a heart beat! The reds? – I have my doubts about the Burgundy value proposition.  While I’m sure I could find some red Burgundy that I enjoy as much, if not more than those of  California, Oregon, or even perhaps New Zealand, I’m afraid I’d have to spend way more to do so. 

Related post you might enjoy:

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

TGIF Bubbly; J Cuvée 20 Brut

My wife and I usually make it a point to drink sparkling wine on a weekly basis.  It’s typically Friday night…thus “T.G.I.F. Bubbly”  It’s a celebration of sort, to the end of the work week. And hey we love bubbly…so why wait for a special occasion? This week’s selection is the J Vineyards and Winery J Cuvée 20 Brut.

The Winery

J Vineyards and Winery is an independently owned winery located in Healdsburg, California.  It was founded in 1986 by Founder and President, Judy Jordan.

The winery focuses primarily on sparkling wines (Brut and Brut Rosé) , as well as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris produced from estate grapes mostly farmed within the Russian River Valley appellation in Sonoma County.

J Vineyards and Winery is a state-of-the-art facility that
houses, in essence, two wineries under one roof—
J sparkling wine and J varietal wines.

It’s been a number of years since I’ve visited, and the last time I did, we opted for a flight of sparkling wine.  I’m going to have to check out their still wines, which I’ve heard nothing but good thing about. The winery itself is a great place to visit.  It’s got a cool vibe, and some fun options for tasting.

In addition to aforementioned wines, J also produces Viognier, Pinot Meunier, and Pinotage still wines, along with two dessert wines.

The Wine

The J Cuvée 20 Brut is J Vineyard and Winery’s signature wine.  The cuvée was created to celebrate J’s 20th anniversary.

The grapes for this cuvée (blend) were hand harvested into small quarter-ton bins and whole cluster pressed in J’s special Coquard press.  Juice from each lot is fermented separately, and the lots remain separate until blending.

After secondary fermentation in the bottle, the wine is aged an average of two years in the cellar.

Cuvee20Product220x680

J Cuvée 20 Brut NV. Image courtesy of J Vineyards and Winery

At it’s $28 price point, it competes with some entry-level Champagne, and it stands up to the competition quite well. Thank you!

My tasting notes follow:

Pale golden-yellow color with an explosive mousse and yeasty, lemon, honeysuckle aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied with a soft mousse, and apple, lemon, and a bit of pear and ginger flavors with a mineral undertone. Medium-long, clean finish.

Rating:  A- 

Pair with:  Sparkling wines are excellent foods wines (not just a sipper for celebrations).  Pair this with triple creme cheeses, oysters, and shellfish dishes, Chicken Pot Pie, Fish and Chips or Ham and Manchego Cheese Sandwich with Tomato Jam.

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 12.5% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork
  • Where it’s from: > Sonoma County>Russian River Valley
  • Grape varieties: 54% Chardonnay, 44% Pinot Noir, 2% Pinot Meunier
  • Production method: Methode Champenoise
  • Dosage: Brut
  • Retail: $28
  • Drink: Now

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff!  Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; 2012 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Central Coast

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2012 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Central Coast.

The Winery

Loring Wine Company (“LWC”),  an urban winery is owned by brother and sister – Brian, and Kimberly Loring. Brian is the winemaker,and self-proclaimed “Pinot-Freak”.

You know how most wine lovers start modestly with “starter” wines?  Brian did not.

While in college, he worked at a wine store in Southern California where one of the owners was a Burgundy fanatic. Brian’s first experiences with Burgundy were from the some big-time Burgundy producers such as Domaine Dujac, Henri Jayer and the iconic Domaine Romanee-Conti.

After college he worked as a software engineer before getting hooked on the wine business.  He got his start working the ’97 crush at Cottonwood Canyon Winery, and ended up making two barrels of Pinot Noir.

Loring has been a darling of Wine Spectator (“WS”) for a few years now, consistently earning 90+ point scores for their wines.  That’s actually how I came to know about Loring.  When I subscribed to WS a few years ago, I was reading an issue and amazed at how many high scores Loring received.  I found out who they were, and purchased a bunch of wines from their vaunted 2008 vintage.  Subsequently, when my wife and I arranged for a private tasting  hosted by co-owner Kimberly Loring.  Brian was also on hand.  They were very gracious hosts,and we came away impressed.

The wines are sold through a mailing list and there is widespread retail distribution. Tasting is by appointment in the a tasting room Loring shares with Cargasacchi and Point Concpetion that is located in Buellton, between Ostrich Land and the Hitching Post II Restaurant (yes…the Hitching Post of “Sideways” fame”). The tasting room is open Thursday through Monday from 10am to 5pm; Tuesday and Wednesday by appointment only.

The Wine

This wine is a new AVA blend for Loring.  The fruit was  sourced from the some well known, prestigious, and diverse Pinot Noir vineyards including  Russell Family in Paso Robles, Aubaine in Arroyo Grande Valley, and Clos Pepe Vineyard, and Ranch La Vina in the Santa Rita Hills AVA.

The retail price of the wine is $24, but I purchased a case for $16.50/bottle, which is an amazing deal for a Pinot Noir of this quality.

Wine of the Week: 2012 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Central Coast

My tasting notes follow:

Deep ruby color with damp earth, mixed berry, spice and kiss of cola aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with a nice balance of acidity, and fruit with a supple mouthfeel. It exhibits concentrated morello cherry, cola, and spice flavors. Medium-long finish. SRP -$24 14.8% alcohol

Rating: A-: Outstanding Pinot Noir, from an outstanding PInot Noir producer and an outstanding vintage that drinks above its price point! Still young – if you have the kind of discipline I can’t seem to muster, lay down for a couple of years and I bet it’ll be even better!

Pair with:  Great for Thanksgiving dinner, Coq Au Vin, Duck, and plank grilled salmon

 >>Find this wine<<.

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

#DrinkPink Rosé of the Week: 2012 Copain Tous Ensemble Rosé

It’s that time of year… Yes, it’s Rosé season!. With that in mind, I’ve embarked upon a series of weekly “Drink Pink!“ Rosé tastings.  This week’s Rosé is the 2012 Copain Tous Ensemble Rosé.

The Winery

Copain Winery was founded by winemaker Wells Guthrie in 1999.  According to the Copain website…

Wells Guthrie discovered early on that his taste in wine gravitated toward Europe in general and France’s Rhône Valley in particular. So much so, he picked up and moved with his new bride to the region to learn from the best. For two years, Wells apprenticed for esteemed winemaker and living legend Michel Chapoutier in France’s Rhone Valley. During that time, Wells was deeply inspired by the traditions and practices of French winemaking, not to mention the European attitude that wine is an essential part of life.

Guthrie started the winery with an old friend, and named it Copain, which means ‘friend” in French.

Copain is focused on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir,and Syrah.  They also produce this Rosé, and an interesting, food friendly and outstanding wine named “P2″ which is a 50/50 blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. They offer three lines of wines, the entry-level “Tous Ensembles”, mid-level “Les Voisins”, and their top of the line “Single Vineyard” Wines.

Their beautiful tasting room is located in Healdsburg. The winery sits atop a hillside with a breathtaking view of the Russian River Valley. Here’s a pic from my most recent visit…

copain View

The Wine

The fruit for this Pinot Noir-based Rosé is sourced from the cool-climate Anderson Valley.   is the perfect companion to a summer evening, indeed.

#DrinkPink Rose of the Week; 2012 Copain Tous Ensembe Rose of  Pinot Noir

My tasting note follows:

Salmon color with a copper hue, it exhibits  appealing peach skin, red fruit and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied and fresh with a soft texture, along with delightful strawberry, honeydew, cherry flavors and a mineral undertone. Lingering finish.

Rating:  B+: Pinot Noir makes a great Rosé.  Copain makes small quantities of this delightful wine, so you’ll have to look for it.  It’s well worth the effort. >>Find this wine<<

Pair with: This wine works well as both an aperitif, and at the table.  Try with grilled fish paired with a salad.

Sample purchased for review 

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff!

Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved

Wine of the Week: 2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard.

Winery

Phillips Hill Winery is a small boutique (~1,000 cases/yr) winery focused on producing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer from cool climate vineyards located in Anderson Valley. Phillips Hill Winery is located on Greenwood Ridge above Anderson Valley, in the Mendocino Ridge appellation.  I was introduced to Phillips Hill when the winery was recommended to me while I was tasting at Toulouse Vineyards earlier this year.

Phillips Hill

Toby Hill, a native California is the Owner/Winemaker of Phillips Hill. He was formally trained in the Arts.  With a BFA from California College of the Arts, Toby attributes his artistic talent to the Phillips side of the family.  His intense study and mastery of composition in the abstract has been translated into the delicate balance of making wine. From immersion as a practicing artist in New York, followed by later experience as an Architectural Color and Plaster business owner in San Francisco. In 1997 he purchased some land in the Mendocino Ridge Appellation overlooking the Anderson Valley. He built a house and adjacent art studio and kicked back for a time.

He got his start in winemaking after a local winemaker decided not to begin a brand and offered him four barrels of an unfinished 2002 vintage from Oppenlander Vineyard in Comptche in Mendocino County. Ultimately that led him to his new passion and personal re-invention in wine country.

What started as an opportunity to express his work on a wine label became a new artistic obsession for an expression not only on the bottle, but in the bottle as well – a transformation from the art of the visual to that of the sensory.

Phillips Hill wines strive for “old meets new world” style with elegance, finesse, and lower alcohol levels.  The day I visited, only reds were available for tasting. They were sold out of their Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer.  I was very impressed by the wines I tried.

All the Phillips Hill Wine bottles labels features the artwork of Owner/Winemaker Toby Hill.

The Wine

The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Toulouse Vineyard. The wine was aged 11 months in French oak (33% new, 33% 1 year, 33% seasoned).  The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered.

2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard

2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard

My tasting notes follow:

Ruby color with aromatic dark cherry, red plum, brown sugar, spice, damp earth aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied silky smooth and well-balanced with cherry, wild raspberry, and spice flavors. Long finish; 14.2% alcohol, 275 cases produced, $40 SRP

Rating: A-: This is an outstanding wine that is a great expression of the grape.  I wish I’d purchased more, and I can guaran-damn-tee you next time I’m in Anderson Valley I will!

Pair with: Lobster bisque, paella, or coq-au-vin come to mind!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.