Wine Reviews

Posted by Keith Wallace

Soléna Estate 2015 “Grande Cuvee” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

Soléna Estate “Grande Cuvee” Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

This is a must-have bottle of Pinot Noir. On the nose, classic bramble and wild strawberry with just a hint of jasmine. The palate offers up a ripe texture with a clean CO2 freshness that keeps the perception of acidity high and mighty. Flavors of smoked cloves, Kola nut, and raspberries are lovely. Flavors progress into a finish of herbal tea, strawberries, and burnt roses.

Wine Rating: 91 Points

Yves Cheron 2015 “Les Dentelles” Cotes du Rhone

Yves Cheron “Les Dentelles” Cotes du Rhone

Mostly Grenache, with a small amount of Syrah, the Les Dentelles is an impressive wine, especially considering it’s price point. It’s largely declassified Gigondas fruit, and that quality shows. The balance of opposing textures is the key to the balance here. A rich lushness that veers towards blueberry confiture and fresh figs is kept in check with a stark minerality that cuts through the richness. Aromas of lavender and violets make way to notes of Asian 5-spice. Fermented in cement tanks with no oak.

Wine Rating: 93 Points

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva

A nose reminiscent of smoking a cigar in a new car. The sauvage aromas cut nicely into barrel spices and sweet vanilla notes. Finish tightens into fresh strawberries, mineral, and balsamic with high tones and gritty tannins—a finely tuned medium-bodied Sangiovese with dense oak notes. The finish drizzles chocolate over lush black fruit.

Wine Rating: 90 Points

Michele Chiarlo 2015 "Le Orme" Barbera d'Asti

Michele Chiarlo “Le Orme” Barbera d’Asti

There isn’t enough Barbera in the world. There used to be a bit too much, but that was back in the bad old days of 1985.  Thirty years on, the wine has lost its fans to other parts of Italy. For Piedmont fans, they usually opt for the Nebbiolos of Barolo and Barbaresco. Those looking for inexpensive bottles tend to grab a bottle of Dolcetto.

Personally, I think it’s high time to rediscover this long-forgotten grape, and this bottle is a great introduction.  On the nose, cigar and vetiver mingle with fresh cranberry and plum. A smoked plum and earthy vanilla lie of a core of crunchy tannins softened under this wine’s lush body. It finishes with fresh fruit and sage.

Wine Rating: 91 Points

L’Ecole No 41 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley

L’Ecole No 41 Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla Valley

Walla Walla is one of the great unheralded wine regions in America. I’ve always believed that’s largely due to the name. Walla Walla, Washington doesn’t have the elegant flow of Napa, California.

This bottling is a blend of five vineyards, mostly from their own estate: Ferguson, Pepper Bridge, Seven Hills, Loess, & Summit View. Exotic spice with damson plums. A nose of cardamon and vanilla with a note of burnt sage. Dense fruit gives way to layers of tannic complexity with a deep rounded texture under the muscular composition—a finish of figs and vanilla.

Wine Rating: 94 Points

Contino 2014 Rioja Reserva

Contino Rioja Reserva

Aged two years in oak, the Contino is Tempranillo with about 10% Graciano, and a tiny addition of Mazuelo and Garnacha. As typical for many Rioja producers, American oak use is prominent, about 50% of the barrel program,  the other half French.

Structured into layers of flinty tannins, flavors of violets, damson plum, and crushed vanilla emerge on the palate. Burnt sandalwood on the finish and aroma frames red fruit flavors beautifully. There is a distinct and fresh purity here.

Wine Rating :94 Points

Old News

This was originally our October 2018 Newsletter. We left this here for posterity.

Philly Who?

Philly Who?

Our fearless leader is featured on the Philly Who, a podcast telling the stories of the doers, thinkers, and performers of Philadelphia.

The interview focusses on how Keith Wallace started the Wine School. As you’d expect, it’s a funny, obscene, and uplifting story. But be warned: there are some heart-breaking moments, too. This is the story that Keith has never told before.

Food & Wine Magazine

Congrats to WSoP Alumnus Jack Cunicelli for making into the pages of Food & Wine! His wine shop and grocery has been named one of “The 15 Most Important Natural Wine Bars in America.”   Jack attended classes at the Wine School from 2009 to 2017. Cheers, Jack!  He’s been on our “Best Wine Shops In Philly” for the past two years.

Wine School of Philadelphia
109 S. 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

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