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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Tamarack Cellars 2011 Firehouse Red, Columbia Valley

Posted in American Wine Reviews

A winery town where hard work is valued, winemakers are trained like apprentices, and everyone is a bit rough around the edges. That’s a unique place. That’s Walla Walla, and it doesn’t hurt that they make awesome wines. This place first got my attention when a friend started distributing L’Ecole No 41 wine in Delaware. The winemaker, Marty Clubb was the first self-taught winemaker I had ever met. I was used to the Napa standard: Davis-trained...

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Roth Estate 2011 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast (California)

Posted in American Wine Reviews

Ever wonder how empires start? Keep an eye on Bill Foley. Last I checked in with him,  he was running Foley Estates. I was drinking with his assistant winemaker in the wine cellar when he walked in. Nice guy, but I really hadn’t thought about that moment until I started writing this review. I was a bit surprised when I discovered he had purchased the Roth winery, along with Lancaster Estate, in 2012. Then I pulled up his bio. He now owns Chalk Hill Winery, Altvs, EOS...

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La Follette 2009 Chardonnay Manchester Ridge Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge (California)

Posted in American Wine Reviews

Greg La Follette is not someone who would name a winery after himself. The winery was named Tandem until he sold to Quivira Winery. The purchase agreement allowed him to keep running the winery with one small change: he had to put his name on the label. Greg isn’t a well-known winemaker outside of the tight-nit community of Cali winemakers. He never was a superstar at a boutique winery. He is a quiet man who opted for positions outside the lime light. He was a...

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Mill Creek 2010 Merlot, Alexander Valley

Posted in American Wine Reviews, Wine Reviews

There is no shame in not knowing Mill Creek Vineyards. It is easy to miss. This is a tiny, family-run operation covering 55 acres in Sonoma County. Its focus is on high quality wines, and has been since its founding in the 1960s. Jeremy Kreck is a third generation winemaker: he and his extended family do it all themselves. This is pretty remarkable when most wineries outsource some (or all) elements of grape growing, winemaking, bottling, or sales. A decadent and lush...

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