Milbrandt Vineyards 2010 Grenache, Clifton Vineyards

Posted in American Wine Reviews, Wine Reviews

Background Some of the best wine grapes in America are grown in the Columbia Valley of Washington State. Butch and Jerry Milbrand are two of the farmers that made it happen.  They were a top resource for winemakers in the Pacific Northwest. They still sell grapes to winemakers, but now they are holding back 10% of their grapes. After a decade of being grape growers, they now are bottling their own wines under the Milbrandt Vineyards label. This is the type of  project that...

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Landmark 2011 “Overlook” Chardonnay

Posted in American Wine Reviews

Background At the Wine School, we don’t review  wines that are produced by big corporations. We only care about unique wines made by small producers. Because of that, this is very likely the last Landmark Vineyards  review we write. This Sonoma winery was sold to Roll Global in 2011, which also owns POM, Fiji, and Justin Vineyards in Paso Robles. Nothing against the folks at Roll Global, but corporate ownership of a winery almost always leads to a reduction in quality...

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Bouchaine 2009 Pinot Noir Carneros

Posted in American Wine Reviews

Who are the Bouchaines?  It doesn’t really matter at this point. It was the maiden name of one of the original partners in this winery. The important question is who are the Copelands? If you are from Delaware, you probably already know.  They are well-known philanthropists in their home state. The founded the Delaware Art Museum. They also underwrite the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, The Grand Opera House and OperaDelaware. Native Delawareans, Gerret and Tatiana...

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Ottimino 2009 Zinfandel, Rancho Bello Vineyard

Posted in American Wine Reviews

Ottimino was established in 1999 by Brad Alper and William Knuttel.  Their first bottling was from the Ranch Bello vineyard.  This is  Alper’s winery in many ways, but Knuttel is the name that makes this project very interesting. William Knuttel was the  winemaker for Saintsbury in Carneros for 13 years, Chalk Hill Winery for another 7 years. Then he went on to Dry Creek Vineyard, where he worked as executive winemaker until 2011. That doesn’t include his own...

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Curtis Winery 2010 Heritage Cuvée

Posted in American Wine Reviews

  I am not a fan of corporate wines. That is something most people in the wine trade know all too well. I am not a fan of large-scale wineries, even if they are run family-owned.  They don’t need my help in getting attention for their wines. They have marketing people for that. Firestone Vineyards fell into that category. Don’t get me wrong. They are really nice folks. I have nothing against them.  I simply prefer to seek out smaller wineries to write...

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Rosenblum Cellars 2010 “Harris Kratka” Zinfandel

Posted in American Wine Reviews

No matter it’s pedigree, Zinfandel is big, dumb and fun.  I don’t mean that in a pejorative way. There should  always be a place for fun. This is the wine for unsophicated meals. I couldn’t imagine a better wine for the smokiness of Texas pulled pork or the tang of Carolina-style brisket. Conversely, it’s the perfect wine for sophisticated parties.  It’s the wine for smart people having a good time: the type of party where Sartre quotes and...

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Saintsbury 2009 “Brown Ranch” Pinot Noir

Posted in American Wine Reviews

Most descriptions of Saintsbury Winery will include the word “pioneer” somewhere within the first paragraph. Go one and google it: you will get over 3.5 million pages describing how the winery is a pioneer in California. Saintsbury does have a place in our wine history books (if such a book existed)  for planting Pinot Noir in Carneros.  They helped launch the Carneros as a sub-region in Napa Valley when  Richard Ward and David Graves launched the winery in...

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Chalk Hill 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Posted in American Wine Reviews

A unique style of Sauvignon Blanc that typically is referred to as “Fume Blanc” that saw it’s popularity peak in the nineties. You know, last century. That said, this is a fantastic example of this style, offering  a much more modern spring of juicy acidity and zero creaminess. We are using it at the school to show the difference between malolactic fermentation and oak aging. Outside of education, it’s a surprising food-friendly wine. It works very...

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Treana Winery 2010 Red, Paso Robles (California)

Posted in American Wine Reviews

An enduring mystery in the American wine market is why Paso Robles is still undiscovered wine country. After all, it’s one of the best spots in Cali for both both good value and luxury wines. Any place that supplies me with good $8 bottles and awesome $80 bottles is my kind of wine region. Still, very few consumers are in on the secret. Wineries are reacting to this lack of exposure by trying something new. Instead of branding their winery as a single entity with...

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