Gabe's View


Wine: Reviews, Thoughts & Culture

Two Hands 2016 Gnarly Dudes Shiraz

Two Hands 2016 Gnarly Dudes Shiraz

Have you been drinking your allotment of Shiraz lately? If not summer is a great time to get back to it. The typical flavors of Shiraz pair well with just about anything you pull off your grill. Not that many years ago most of the Aussie wines on our shelves were largely of the in your face, super fruity, high alcohol, critter label, no finish to speak of variety. However the tide has turned and U.S. shelves now feature a wider breadth of Australian wines than before. And while some of the aforementioned wines still exist, we’re also seeing diverse examples of Shiraz, not to mention cooler climate region expressions of things like Pinot Noir, Semillon and more. So if you haven’t dipped your toe in the Aussie wine pool in a while, come on in the water’s fine. Here’s a terrific Shiraz from Two Hands to welcome you back to the fold.

Two Hands 2016 Gnarly Dudes Shiraz Barossa Valley ($35)

This offering is entirely Shiraz, all from the Barossa Valley. After fermentation it was aged in French oak over a period of 12 months. 15% of the barrels utilized were new, the remainder between once and six times used. Alcohol is a modest 13.5%. Violet and plum aromas emerge with conviction. Hints of earth are in play as well. The palate is strewn with black fruit flavors such as blackberry, dark plum, and black raspberry. Hints of bacon fat, toast and oodles of spice are evident as well. Black pepper, a dusting of cocoa and wisps of savory herbs mark the lengthy finish. This is an excellent example of a full flavored Shiraz that’s loaded with typicity. It’s also fresh, balanced and incredibly food friendly. Bring it to a summer BBQ and win the day.

Nine Regions, Nine Rosé's

Nine Regions, Nine Rosé's

Nearly every wine region in the world has its own Rosé tradition. Often it’s produced from the dominant local grape. And in some cases where that’s multiple grapes it might be a blend. Those facts alone keep Rosé pretty interesting.

Raymond Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon - Reserve Selection 40th Anniversary

Raymond Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon - Reserve Selection 40th Anniversary

Raymond Vineyards in Napa Valley has undergone a renaissance since being purchased by Jean-Charles Boisset in 2009. The winery was founded in 1970; but the Raymond Family has a history in the valley that goes back much further than that. 2014 marked the 40th anniversary of the family’s first harvest. So this year they’ve released a special Reserve 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon adorned with a red velvet label to commemorate that anniversary.

Raymond Vineyards 2014 Reserve Selection 40th Anniversary Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($40)

In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (92%), small amounts of Petit Verdot (4%), Petite Sirah (2%), and Malbec (2%) were blended in. Most of the fruit was chosen from estate vineyards in St. Helena and Rutherford; additional grapes came from a handful of local growers. Barrel aging was accomplished over 19 months in entirely French oak; 30% were new. Red raspberry and violet aromas are laced with bits of vanilla bean on the nose. The palate is stuffed with an explosion of black and red cherry flavors. Earth, baker’s chocolate, and crushed cherries are all layered on the long, velvety finish along with intermingling bits of spice. Firm tannins and acid provide excellent structure. This Cabernet Sauvignon is certainly enjoyable now but it’ll improve with some bottle age. I’d lay it down for 5-6 years and drink it in the 6-7 years after that.

Obviously there’s a ton of Cabernet Sauvignon being produced in Napa Valley. Styles, price points and more vary wildly, to say the least. For $40 this offering from Raymond Vineyards provides lots of drinking pleasure and a more than reasonable level of complexity. You can even lay it down for a while if you want.

Buty Winery 2014 Conner Lee Vineyard Chardonnay

Buty Winery 2014 Conner Lee Vineyard Chardonnay

It seems that nearly every grape of any note has its own day. That being the case, Chardonnay, the most widely planted grape on earth likely deserves an entire week. But as of this writing it gets today, the Thursday before Memorial Day as its very own, well sort of. Today also happens to be National Wine Day, which confuses me; isn’t that every day? But I digress aren’t we’re gathered here to talk about Chardonnay? Indeed we are. The sheer number of Chardonnays that cross my line of sight regularly is pretty dizzying.  They come in all shapes and sizes, as well as from nearly every region that grows grapes. When in doubt, someone will plant some more Chardonnay. There’s mostly good reason for it, Chardonnay can be awesome. But then sometimes (too often) it’s really terrible. If you need examples I could list a bunch, many of them in the famed (really infamous actually) style known as California Chardonnay. They’re easy to identify when you drink them and then you'll need to spit sawdust out after swallowing the wine. However California has a lot of great Chardonnay too and for the most part people are talking about it. Less people though are talking about the terrific Chardonnays coming out of the Pacific Northwest. Both Washington and Oregon are producing some fantastic examples. So here in celebration of both Chardonnay Day and National Wine Day are some thoughts on a lovely Washington State wine.

Buty Winery 2014 Conner Lee Vineyard Chardonnay ($42)

The fruit for this wine came from two blocks located within the Conner Lee Vineyard. Each is planted to different clones of Chardonnay. The vineyard itself is located in Eastern Central Washington. Citrus rind, spice and a hint of vanilla provide complex and welcoming aromatics. The palate is stuffed with Bartlett pear, Granny Smith Apple and wisps of spice. The long finish is loaded with white pepper, papaya and an abundance of wet limestone notes. What stands out the most about this Chardonnay is the mouth-feel. There’s a wonderful texture and weight here that’s both impressive and quite appealing. Ditto for the racy acid that lends to the moutwatering nature of this offering. Once you sip it, you’re not going to want to put it down.

You could celebrate Chardonnay Day with a Burgundy, California Chardonnay or one from, literally, countless other regions. Don’t do that this year; reach for some Washington State Chardonnay. You’ll be glad you did; this offering from Buty Winery is delicious and noteworthy in its complexity and purity.

Dry Creek Valley’s Pedroncelli Winery Nears a Milestone

Dry Creek Valley’s Pedroncelli Winery Nears a Milestone

This coming July Pedroncelli Winery, one of Dry Creek Valley’s most storied and dependable producers will turn 90 years old. In honor of reaching that significant marker the Pedroncelli family is celebrating all year

A Look at 2014 Goldeneye Pinot Noirs

A Look at 2014 Goldeneye Pinot Noirs

California’s Anderson Valley is particularly well suited for growing Pinot Noir. This small region in Mendocino County has a number of different microclimates within it which allows site specific wine-making to flourish. 

Trivento Estate 2014 Amado Sur Malbec

Trivento Estate 2014 Amado Sur Malbec

Over time grape varieties get varying amounts of attention in the wine world at large. Of course the same occurs in my own life as well. There are many reasons for the shifts in interest and consideration. Lately, I’ve been thinking about Malbec more than usual. I’ve also tasted quite a few recently, both on my own and alongside winemakers. In this case the reason is obvious; World Malbec day is around the corner.

There are many faces to Malbec and it can be interpreted in many styles. I’m happy to say that more and more of the examples I taste are made in a style that highlights freshness of fruit, acidity and balance. That’s a far cry from a few years ago when a lot of the Malbec on US shelves was up front flash with barely any body and certainly no finish to speak of. Over the years I’ve found that Trivento does a nice job at various tiers. Here’s a look at the current release of their Amado Sur.

Trivento Estate 2014 Amado Sur Malbec ($15)

This offering is a blend of Malbec (79%), Bonarda (11%), and Syrah (10%). All of the fruit is from the Mendoza region. Each variety is fermented and barrel aged separately. After blending the cuvee is aged in stainless and bottle for an additional 11 months prior to release.  Red fruit aromas such as cherry and raspberry fill the nose. Wisps of vanilla and pepper are present as well. Ripe, wild strawberry, red cherry and baking spices fill the juicy palate.  Earth, dried cherry and bits of savory herbs are evident on the long finish.  Supple tannins and firm acid provide nice structure. This Malbec is well priced for everyday drinking and it’s freshness assure it’ll pair nicely with a wide array of foods.

J. Lohr 2013 Paso Robles Signature Cabernet Sauvignon

J. Lohr 2013 Paso Robles Signature Cabernet Sauvignon

J. Lohr has long been one of the standard bearer wineries of Paso Robles. Their portfolio includes wines that are readily available and priced for everyday consumption, more premium selections such as reserves as well as some single vineyard bottles. In short a it's diverse set of offerings that gives consumers a multitude of options.

On New Year’s Day, founder Jerry Lohr turned 80 years old. To celebrate this milestone they released their most ambitious expression of Cabernet Sauvignon yet, “Signature.” Paso Robles most aspiring producers have been edging the quality level forward for a number of years now and what wouldn’t have been possible there some years back is achievable today. Their stated goal with this wine is not only to mark Jerry’s 80th, but also to release a Cabernet Sauvignon that can compete with the best in the world. To do so they harnessed every bit of knowledge they’ve gleaned since the Winery’s inception.

J. Lohr 2013 Paso Robles Signature Cabernet Sauvignon ($100)

In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (79%), “Signature” contains small amounts of Merlot (18%), and Petit Verdot (3%). The Cabernet came from Beck vineyard which sits at an elevation of 1,800 feet. Barrel aging took place over 19 months in new French oak. 966 six-bottle cases were produced. Black raspberry and wisps of toast are evident on the nose. The palate is dominated by a veritable avalanche of intense, but wholly proportionate, dark fruit flavors. Black cherry, raspberry, and blackberry are of particular note. A host of spices such as black pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg are evident as well. Roasted espresso, chicory and bits of sweet dark chocolate are evident on the prodigiously long and intensely layered finish. Firm tannins and racy acid provide great framework. This Cabernet is delicious today, particularly with full flavored foods. Patience will be rewarded however. It’ll evolve nicely over the next decade and drink well for 8-10 years beyond that.

This super luxury wine from J. Lohr meets all of its goals. “Signature” is a perfect way to commemorate Jerry Lohr’s 80th Birthday. The level of excellence in this bottle really drops the gauntlet of quality and shows what can be accomplished in Paso Robles with Cabernet Sauvignon. It compares favorably to some of the very best Cabernet based wines that California has to offer. That said it’s a distinctly Paso Robles wine. What I personally like most about “signature” is the combination of power and elegance that’s evident from the first whiff to the very last sips. If you love great California Cabernet Sauvignon, put "Signature" on your short list as a must try.

Rodney Strong 2013 Sonoma County Reserve Malbec

Rodney Strong 2013 Sonoma County Reserve Malbec

It’s quite possible that right this moment you’re thinking, "Malbec from California, really?" However it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise as many vintners grow it and blend small amounts into stand-alone Cabernet, Merlot or Bordeaux inspired blends to name a few. At Rodney Strong, Malbec has long been an important component in Symmetry their Meritage. One vintage after another, Symmetry is a well-made and approachable Bordeaux inspired blend. In a category where prices can easily reach triple digits, Symmetry remains a terrific value ($55 SRP) too. I find it deliciously reliable year after year. Considering this Malbec sits in the same tier as Symmetry and includes different proportions of some of the same grapes they’re basically kissing cousins. So it’s fair to say I was pretty excited to sample it.

Rodney Strong 2013 Sonoma County Reserve Malbec ($40)

In addition to Malbec (92%), small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon (4%), and Petit Verdot (4%) were blended in. Aging took place over 22 months in largely French oak, 25% of the barrels new. A dark, brooding nose leads things off here with black cherry and plum aromas in evidence. Hints of vanilla and spice pop out too. The palate is simultaneously layered, intense and refined. Oodles of black raspberry along with red and black cherry dominate. Blackberry chicory, baker’s chocolate and black pepper are each evident on the persistent finish. Firm acid and meaty tannins provide excellent structure.

If you’re looking for a fruit bomb, this isn’t that Malbec. This is a complex, well-structured wine that while delicious now, will taste even better in two or three years when it’s evolved a little bit. It’s going to pair well with roasted meats to be sure. But I had it alongside Pappardelle with Pesto that was dusted with Pecorino and it worked quite nicely.

It’s good to see Rodney Strong showcasing a grape that has been a behind the scene workhorse for them. They’ve expanded their plantings of Malbec in recent years. I expect that as the vines age the wines will likely be even better. That said this is a terrific inaugural vintage. World Malbec Day is coming up on April 17th, this new offering is a great way to celebrate.

Cusumano 2015 Nero d'avola Terre Siciliane IGT

Cusumano 2015 Nero d'avola Terre Siciliane IGT

Is there a more perfect pairing than Red Wine and Pizza? When you have a great pie and match it with a wine that works well alongside it, the possibilities are, well, simply delicious.

Last Minute Wine Gift Ideas

Last Minute Wine Gift Ideas

The Holidays aren’t almost here, they’re here, NOW! And if you’re like most people there are a handful of loved ones that you still need to buy a gift for. The good news is there’s still time to get them a nice bottle of wine. Just because it’s last minute, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put thought into it.

The Steady Rise of Carménère

The Steady Rise of Carménère

Carménère’s upward mobility is two-fold. The average overall quality of the end product has improved as growers have learned where to plant it, when to pick it and how to vinify and age it for best results. Over that same time period consumer awareness of Carménère has increased as well. Although that last part needs some additional help.

The oft told story of Carménère involves genetic testing of Chilean vines that were long thought to be Merlot. Something similar occurred in Italy, but they were under the impression it was Cabernet Franc. While it’s well worth noting that Carménère does grow and sometimes thrives in other places, Chile is its best partner. Bogart made films with numerous leading ladies, at the end of the day though most of us best remember his work with Lauren Bacall. Carménère and Chile are a bit like that. Here’s a look at some current vintages of Carménère. I first tasted these during a virtual master class. If you have been drinking Carménère check out some of the ones you haven’t tried. If you’re new to this grape, grab the ones that sound most appealing and give Carménère a shot.

Casillero del Diablo 2015 Carménère Reserva Central Valley Chile ($10)

For $10 or less if you shop around it’s hard to beat this on value. Dark fruit and bits of spice are evident on the nose. The palate shows off blackberry and cherry flavors as well as some savory herbs. Hints of vanilla and continued cherry are evident on the finish. Sufficient acid keeps things in check. For the price this would make a terrific house red.

Casas del Bosque 2015 Carmenere Reserva Rapel Valley ($11)

Smoked meat and tons of black fruits govern the nose. Ripe dark fruit flavors such as blackberry and black raspberry are the dominant flavors alongside copious spice elements. Leather, black cherry and savory herbs such as age are evident on the finish. If you need a wine to pair with a burger or chili dog, look no further.

Concha y Toro Serie Riberas 2014 Carménère Gran Reserva Peumo ($15)

This Carménère which has a splash (5%) of Cabernet Sauvignon blended in comes from riverside vineyards. Dark fruit aromas waft convincingly from the glass once you pour it. Plum, black olive, cherry and copious spice notes mark the palate. Savory herbs, hints of roasted coffee and black fig are evident on the finish.

Los Vascos 2013 Carménère Grande Reserve Colchagua Valley ($18)

This offering is 100% Carménère. Oodles of dark fruit intertwined with wisps of red cherry fill the nose. Blackberry, raspberry and continued cherry are evident on the palate along with lots of typical savory herb flavors. Dark baker’s chocolate, cherries jubilee and black pepper spice are in evidence on the long finish.

Apaltagua Colchagua Valley 2014 Gran Reserva Carménère Envero ($18)

In addition to Carménère (90%), some Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) was blended in. Leather, raspberry and red cherry aromas dominate the nose. Both red and black fruits are evident on the firm palate. Earth, raspberry and vanilla notes emerge on the above average finish. Firm tannins yield with air. This wine has terrific structure and will drink well for 6-7 years.

Casa Silva Los Lingues Vineyard 2014 Carménère Colchagua Valley ($20)

This is entirely Carménère from vines with 14 years of age on them. Casa Silva is one of the producers most invested in this grape and they produce several different Carménères. Tons of ripe, black, brooding fruit aromas leap from the nose. The palate is stuffed with blackberry, blueberry, black olive and a tiny hint of mushroom. Chocolate sauce, huckleberry, and spices round out the long and deeply layered finish. This is really lovely expression of Carménère and a tremendous bottle of wine for the money.

Montes Alpha 2013 Carménère Colchagua Valley ($25)

Cabernet Sauvignon (10%) is blended in with the Carménère (90%) here. The fruit came from two areas within Colchagua where Carménère thrives.  This incredibly serious, well-structured offering is delicious now and will age well for a decade. Dried mission fig, violets, and white pepper are evident on the nose. Flavors of olive tapenade, black cherry and more lead the palate. The long, harmonious finish is filled with dried black fruits, spice and bits of earth. This offering is delicious today but will evolve positively over the next 7 or 8 years,

Colli Berici Oratorio di San Lorenzo2012 Carménère Riserva ($33)

This selection from Italy is entirely Carménère. Dried black cherry, white pepper and bay leaf emanate from the nose. Dried blackberry, plum and wisps of mission fig do the somewhat dense palate. The persistent finish stuffed with lingering dried fruits, spices, dusty cocoa and more. This is an impressive and distinct expression of Carménère that shows it can thrive in countries other than Chile when appropriate care is taken.

Viña Maquis 2010 Viola Carménère ($55)

One vintage after another Viola is one of the single most impressive expressions of Carménère being produced anywhere. In addition to Carménère (85%), some Cabernet Franc (15%) was blended in. Cherry, leather and thyme aromas leap from the nose. Black cherry, plum and raspberry flavors are evident on the palate along with spice elements and bits of cocoa. The finis is long, elegant and remarkable nuances with all of the prior characteristics circling back to deliver a harmonious coda.

Purple Angel 2013 Colchagua Valley Carménère ($67)

If you’ve explored Carménère with any level of seriousness, Purple Angel has passed your lips. It has stood for a number of years now as one of the world’s benchmark expressions of this fascinating grape. In addition to Carménère (92%), a nice dollop of Petit Verdot (8%) was blended in. This is a big, bold, bodacious wine that makes its presence known in terms that aren’t shy, from the first whiff to the last sip. With all that said it’s still a proportionate wine that respects some boundaries. Boysenberry, chocolate and spice all jump from the nose. The velvety palate is filled with black cherry, plum, spices, savory herbs, cocoa and more. The long, prodigious finish is deep, dark and loaded with ostentatious flavors. Purple Angel isn’t shy about being Carménère, or anything else for that matter. Don’t be shy about drinking this consistently audacious and delicious Chilean masterpiece.

Snooth & Wines of Garnacha Celebrate Garnacha Day 2016 with a Virtual Tasting

Snooth & Wines of Garnacha Celebrate Garnacha Day 2016 with a Virtual Tasting

Wine Lovers from all over the world gathered in front of their computers, tablets and phones this evening to celebrate Garancha Virtually. Corkbuzz Wine Studio owner and Master Sommelier Laura Maniec hosted the event from New York City along with esteemed Master of Wine Christy Canterbury. Laura and Christy led everyone who participated through 5 examples of Garnacha over an hour. They fielded a ton of questions and provided a cornucopia of information about the specific wines as well as Garnacha in general.  Both Garnacha Blanca and Garnacha, all from Spain, were sampled. The event was hosted by Snooth.

Seeing as all evidence points to Spain as Garnacha’s point of origin wines from there are the most natural way to celebrate this grape’s big day. The wines tasted represented several regions in different parts of Spain, offering climatic, soil type and altitude differences as well as other diverse growing conditions.  Garnacha has the ability to produce wines of great distinction and intensity. Additionally, wines produced from Garnacha are often some of the best values on your local wine store shelves. More importantly well made Garnacha is one of the most food friendly wines in the world.

Clos Dalian 2015 Garnacha Blanca ($11)

This is composed entirely of Garnacha Blanca from DO Terra Alata in Catalonia. Bits of lemon rind emerge from the nose. Fleshy yellow melon and minerals dominate the palate. White pepper and wet limestone notes are part of the finish. For the price this is an exception everyday white.

La Miranda de Secastilla 2014 Garnacha Blanca 2014 ($17)

The vineyard the fruit (100% Garnacha Blanca) for this wine comes from is located in Somontano, more than 700 meters above sea level. After fermentation it spent four months in French oak. Petrol, toasted hazelnut and linseed oil aromas light up the nose. Grapefruit and sour yellow melon fill the palate. Bits of vanilla, continued citrus and toasty oak are present on the above average, firm finish.

Castillo de Monseran 2014 Garnacha Cariñena  ($11)

The fruit for this wine came from vineyards in the Cariñena DO. Different fermentation techniques are used depending on which vineyard and terroir type the grapes came from. Black olive and cherry aromas dominate the nose. Fresh, vibrant pomegranate and cranberry flavors fill the palate. Bits of velvet, spice and a dollop of charcoal round out the finish. This is an exceptional value and great everyday red. It'll work well with a bit of a chill on it too.

Evodia 2015 Garnacha ($11)

The Garnacha for this wine came from Mountain areas in the Atea region of Spain. After stainless steel fermentation aging took place entirely in tank.Red plum and leather notes abound on the engaging nose. Oodles of red and black cherries are strewn throughout the substantial palate. Cloves, cinnamon and a host of minerals are in play on the above average finish.

Garnacha 2014 Centenaria ($17)

All of the fruit came from two vineyards located on arid slopes of the Iberian Mountains. Aging took place over 4 months in new French oak. Red fruits, spice and wisps of savory herb are present on the vivacious nose. Vanilla bean, kalamata olive and continued red fruits dominate the bold, fruit forward palate. A touch of earth and loads of dried red fruit are evident on the juicy and mouth-filling finish. This Garnacha has outstanding mouth-feel, soft, yielding tannins and racy acid.

If you're new to Garnacha any of the above examples are an excellent entry point into the splendors of this wonderfully food friendly grape. Buy one or two of them and discover Garnacha's charms for yourself.

A Sneak Peek at Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

A Sneak Peek at Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

Labor Day Weekend in Sonoma County has become a go to destination for Wine Lovers. Over this weekend Sonoma Wine Country Weekend takes place. Throughout the three day event several hundred Sonoma County Wineries pour their wines and 60 local chefs prepare foods to pair with them.

Pick the Next Beaujolais Label!

Pick the Next Beaujolais Label!

Have you ever looked at a bottle of wine and thought, "I could pick a better label?" If so here's your chance. Georges Duboeuf the first and last word in Beaujolais is giving consumers the opportunity to help pick the next label for this iconic wine. See below for the full text of the press release announcing the contest:

CONSUMERS HELP GEORGES DUBOEUF CHOOSE

BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU LABEL

Napa, CA –- Georges Duboeuf, one of the largest and best-known French wine companies in the world, is asking consumers to take an active role in this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau release.  Through a contest found on the brand’s Facebook page, consumers of legal drinking age are invited to assist in the selection of the 2016 Beaujolais Nouveau label by “liking” their favorite image from an album of twelve labels designed by both French and American artists. The contest will run throughout the month of April and the winning label will appear on the 2016 Beaujolais Nouveau bottles.

“The arrival of the first wine of the harvest is a time-honored tradition in Beaujolais that Georges Duboeuf has helped make popular all over the world.   This year, we are giving Georges Duboeuf fans and new consumers the opportunity to truly be a part of the region’s culture,” says Dennis Kreps, who co-owns Quintessential (the exclusive US importer of Les Vins Georges Duboeuf) with his father, Stephen D. Kreps.

On the third Thursday in November over a million cases of Beaujolais Nouveau begin the journey from France for immediate shipment across the world.  The arrival of the highly-anticipated new wine began as a local Beaujolais tradition to celebrate the end of the harvest.

It is now celebrated in restaurants and retailers around the world, usually with great fanfare.

Stylistically, Georges Duboeuf’s Beaujolais Nouveau is fruit-forward, smooth and food-friendly, appealing to many palates.  The 2016 vintage will be available at a suggested retail price of $11.99.  To vote for the 2016 Beaujolais Nouveau label, visit https://www.facebook.com/GeorgesDuboeuf/.  

For further information on Les Vins Georges Duboeuf, contact Quintessential at (707)

266-5205 or CustomerService@FamilyWineriesDirect.com.

Founded in 2002 by father and son, Stephen D. and Dennis Kreps, Quintessential is a family owned-and-operated import, marketing and sales company headquartered in Napa, CA. It is dedicated exclusively to representing multi-generational, family owned-and-operated producers who have the same passion for winemaking as Quintessential has in strategically marketing and selling their wines. These producers, from most of the top wine regions around the world, create wines that offer the best, most authentic expression of the grapes from their respective vineyards.

 

 

Willamette Valleys First Pinot Auction Makes a Splash

Willamette Valleys First Pinot Auction Makes a Splash

Pinot Noir the signature grape of Willamette Valley has been grown there for just over 50 years. Last week they held their first auction and it was a major success. Savvy wine lovers have been aware for some time that The Willamette Valley is the US Headquarters of Great Pinot Noir. This auction which was attended by people from all over the Untied States and France serves notice of that to the few who hadn't noticed yet. The close to half a million dollars raised will be used to market their region going forward. The official release follows:

Willamette Valley Inaugural Pinot Noir Auction Raises $476,000

-Wine Region’s First Auction Success Reinforces the Pivotal Moment- 

Portland, Ore. (April 4, 2016) On April 2, 2016, the Willamette Valley hosted the region’s first-ever trade auction at the Allison Inn and Spa, Willamette: The Pinot noir Barrel Auction, drawing over 400 attendees and raising $476,000.  Sixty-six of the top Pinot noir producers from the Willamette Valley showcased their one-of-a-kind lots of handcrafted wines for an elite, trade-only audience from around the country. 

“We are thrilled at the success of this event. It was an amazing opportunity for retailers, restaurateurs and distributors from all over the world to not only obtain rare bottlings from our best cellars but to further delve into the complex and world class story of Oregon’s Wine community, said Josh Bergström, the Chairman of the auction.  “It was time for an event of this caliber in the Willamette Valley.  The Oregon wine community sits in a unique moment of time where pioneers and young visionaries are standing together at the same table raising the quality of Pinot noir for the world.”

Bidding on the first lot, five cases from Bergström Winery, quickly soared to $10,000 in a room of eager paddle holders bidding with enthusiasm and beaming to be part of this historic moment. Exceeding expectations, in less than 90 minutes, the auction raised close to a half a million dollars, averaging over $1,000 per case and further signifying the region’s presence on the world wine stage.  

Notable highlights include the five case lot of never before bottled estate grown Pinot noir planted at Bethel Heights in 1994. Winemaker Ben Casteel’s custom bottling for Bethel Heights Vineyard sold for $10,500 to an active group of bidders from Frederick Wildman & Sons in New York City. A single barrel wine made exclusively from the Antica Terra vineyard by Maggie Harrison for Antica Terra Winery sold for $13,000 to the Sea Island Resort in Georgia. Ten cases of Pinot noir crafted from the Yamhill-Carlton and Dundee Hills AVAs by renowned Oregon winemaker Lynn Penner-Ash for Penner Ash Wine Cellars sold for $16,000 to Houston restaurant, Plonk Bistro.

In addition to the recognizable brand names, the inaugural auction premiered wines from notable newcomers to the Oregon wine industry.  Nicolas-Jay, the partnership between Jean-Nicholas Méo and Jay Boberg, auctioned their first wine ever released for sale to the public. Industry veteran, Greg Ralston and acclaimed winemaker, Isabelle Meunier, auctioned their first ever cuvee under the brand Lavinea.

Both of these lots were purchased by Ellen Spicknall from Wine Cellars of Annapolis, who commented after the event: "To have an opportunity to get in on the very first vintage of Lavinea was something we couldn't pass up... The entire event was marvelous, and the people I met are as world-class as their wines. That's why we love to introduce Willamette Valley wines to our customers at the Wine Cellars of Annapolis. We will be back next year."

All proceeds from the auction will support the marketing and branding efforts of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association. The event was facilitated by the nation’s foremost auctioneer, Fritz Hatton. The second annual auction has already been scheduled for April 1, 2017.

For more information about Willamette: The Pinot Noir Barrel Auction and for a complete list of participating wineries please visit www.willamettewines.auction.

About the Willamette Valley Wineries Association: The WVWA is a non-profit industry association dedicated to achieving recognition for Oregon’s acclaimed Willamette Valley as a premier Pinot noir-producing region. Currently, the WVWA has more than 210 members representing wineries and tasting rooms throughout the Willamette Valley region from Portland to Eugene. Memorial Weekend in the Wine Country and Wine Country Thanksgiving are the two oldest WVWA-sponsored touring events in Oregon. The WVWA also publishes an annual guide to wineries with a touring map. For more information or to request a touring map, please visit www.willamettewines.com, call 503-646- 2985, or follow on Twitter @wvwines and on Facebook.

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***Above Auction Image by Aubrie LeGault Photography***

In South Africa Female Winemakers Help Lead the Charge

In South Africa Female Winemakers Help Lead the Charge

It’s been roughly 20 years’ time since South Africa became part of the Global Wine Community once again. In those two decades the quality of wines has increased and there have been great strides in the South African Wine Industry. Among the many other things that have changed, the number of Women winemakers has increased. And while the increase in diversity alone is cause for celebration that’s just a sliver of what’s happening.

La Mannella is Crafting Tuscan Masterpieces

La Mannella is Crafting Tuscan Masterpieces

This week I had the opportunity to have dinner with Tommaso Cortonesi of Tuscany's La Mannella. Years ago his Grandfather started making wine. However at that time, and for many years later the wine they produced was for consumption by family, friends, and neighbors. In 1985 they made the move to being a commercial winery and released their first Rosso di Montalcino. 

Holiday Gift Guide for 2015

Holiday Gift Guide for 2015

It’s the time of year when we’re all shopping for Holiday Gifts. I’m a big believer that for most people Wine makes a great gift. If you have someone on your list that’s really into one category or another get them something slightly outside their normal drinking zone and help them expand their palate. Here are a dozen delicious ideas. If you need spirits, head over to my gift Guide for The Daily Meal to read about my spirits suggestions.

The Ryland Inn Launches Into Lunch Service

The Ryland Inn Launches Into Lunch Service

The Ryland Inn located in Whitehouse Station, NJ has gone through many incarnations over the years. It was built in 1796 and started out as a home. After years as a family restaurant it spent several decades as a highly awarded destination dining spot. That seemed to come to an end in 2007 when it closed after a flood and financial problems. But under new ownership it was re-opened in 2012, reinvigorated and is once again a place diners should be clamoring to dine.