Beckham Estate Vineyard
Winemakers around the world are returning to tradition and experimenting with making wine the way the Greeks and Romans did, in large clay vessels. Oregon’s Andrew Beckham not only uses clay vessels for fermenting his naturally produced Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Grenache, but he is, also, gaining a national reputation for the amphora and tinaja clay pots he produces for fermenting and aging wine. We discuss the wines and tell his story here. [Photo courtesy of Oregon Wine Board.] Continue reading
These new releases from the Gary Farrell Winery are mainly from the 2015 vintage, which was another great year for the winery and Russian River Valley. While the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay crops were small to moderate in size, the quality was excellent. The Pinot Noir Rochioli Vineyards is one of the finest we’ve tasted. The Chardonnay fermented in concrete is also first-rate and beautifully balanced and Macon-like in character. The 2015 Zinfandel sourced from the 80+ year old Maffei Vineyard is nicely concentrated and elegant. It is among the better zins we tasted for a recent report. Included among the new releases is a 2016 Sauvignon Blanc hat is crisp and citrusy, not unlike some Loire Valley Sauvignon Blancs and is a welcome style. Continue reading
We are pleased to have the opportunity to review Stinson Vineyards’ new releases. We have been tasting their wines over the past four years and have been increasingly impressed with the improvements in quality and their experimentation with new varieties. These new releases are no exception
Located in Albermarle County within the Monticello AVA, Stinson Vineyards is a small family winery nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The vineyard was established in 2010 by Scott Stinson and daughter Rachel who replanted the property and expanded it to 32 acres of which seven are in vines. Today Nathan Vrooman, Rachel’s husband, manages the vineyard, while Rachel makes the wines with the help of Matthieu Finot, winemaker at King Family Vineyards. Currently, most wines are made from purchased fruit, one exception being the 2014 Meritage which was sourced from the estate vineyard for the first time, and is first-rate.
Stinson Vineyards 2015 Wildkat Monticello ($28) 88 The 2015 Wildkat is 100% Rkatsiteli. It was sourced from Horton Vineyards which planted the variety in Virginia over 50 years ago. This ancient variety is not widely grown in Virginia but has shown some success cultivated in frost pockets. The Stinson Wildkat reveals a faint orange hue and is unusually ripe with hints of caramel. It displays restrained and steely tropical fruit flavors, a creamy texture and dry tannins on the finish.
Stinson Vineyards 2016 Rosé ($21) 89 The 2017 Rose is 100% Mourvedre sourced from a one acre parcel of Farmer’s Rest Vineyard in Henrico, VA. It offers lovely fresh red strawberry fruit flavors with medium acidity and good overall concentration. A highly successful Bandol-style rosé.
Stinson Vineyards 2014 Meritage Monticello ($32) 91 This is an elegant and refined estate-bottled Meritage consisting of 56% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 12% Petit Verdot, sourced from Stinson Vineyards grapes. It displays dark red fruit flavors with a silky attack and mouth feel. On the mid-palate it reveals good acidity with concentrated flavors, firm round tannins, and a persistent finish. Well done.
Smith-Madrone is a small winery located in the Spring Mountain District of Napa Valley. Founded in 1971 by Stuart Smith, managing partner and enologist, the winery’s vineyards, which are part of a 200-acre ranch sit at between 1,300 and 2,000 feet on steep slopes which range up to 34%. Its vineyards are dry-farmed and produce about 4000 cases of estate-bottled wine annually. Continue reading
Scientific research carried out over the past few years demonstrates that moderate consumption of wine can result in health benefits. This article, originally published in the Jen Reviews blog, lists 15 health benefits with links to the supporting evidence. Many of the benefits are associated with wine’s well-known anti-oxidant properties, especially the resveratrol in red wine. The most important benefits concern cardiovascular illnesses. In addition to the Jen Reviews blog, a recent New York Times article reviewing the scientific evidence concludes that moderate wine consumption is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and death.
Delicious, crisp rosés are already on the shelves waiting for consumers to welcome the coming hot summer with a chilled glass. In this, our annual rosé review, we review 60 rosés made from different grape varieties grown around the world. However, we put a special focus on rosés made from the Pinot Noir grape. We include reviews of Pinot Noir rosés coming from several regions, the majority of them from Oregon, the American winegrowing region most strongly identified with the Pinot Noir grape. While a bit pricier than some other rosés, in our opinion Pinot Noir rosés offer a very attractive balance of fresh fruit and bright acidity with a round, full mouth feel accompanied, of course, by gorgeous scents and flavors of red cherry and pomegranate and savory herbal notes. Continue reading
Navarra is Spain’s northernmost political region, bordering France, with which it shares the Pyrenées mountains. It’s a diverse region with a highly varied topography that includes snow-capped mountains, the plains of the Ebro River valley, and even Europe’s only desert. It offers an incredible diversity of growing conditions, which explains in part the relatively large number of varietals that can be grown well. We traveled to Navarra for our Report #18 Wines of Navarra, which we published several years ago. Recently, the Navarra D.O. initiated an effort to improve the marketing of Navarra wines in the US (see www.navarrawine.us) . It thus seems an opportune time to reacquaint ourselves with some of the wineries that we visited a few years ago. The wines we review here are popularly priced wines of extremely good value. In addition to these wines, Navarra produces wines that compete with the best in the world, as we showed in our earlier report.
Wineries and Their Wines Continue reading
Here are more stunning releases from the 2014 vintage by Gary Farrell Winery. The 2014 vintage in Russian River Valley was one of the finest in recent memory, notwithstanding the continuation of drought conditions. Many of the vineyards experienced lower yields, smaller berries and concentrated flavors. Mild spring and summer weather provided ideal growing conditions that are reflected in the freshness and balance of many of the wines, both the Chardonnays and Pinot Noir.
Gary Farrell 2014 Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay Russian River Valley ($60) 93 The 2014 Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard is a delicate wine that reveals light tropical aromas and flavors. Beautifully focused and precise, it is refined and elegant with crisp acidity on the palate and a long lasting finish. Gary Farrell 2014 Chardonnay Durell Vineyard Sonoma Valley ($60) 91 The 2014 Chardonnay Durell Vineyard exhibits a straw gold color and aromas of ripe orchard fruit and light toasted oak. Aged 14 months in 40% new French oak, it is rich-tasting with baked yellow fruit flavors and reveals good acidity on the finish. Gary Farrell 2014 Chardonnay Westside Farms Russian River Valley ($50) 93 This is an opulent Chardonnay rich in tropical fruit and toasted oak aromas and flavors. It reveals a beautiful texture on the palate and is mouth filling with hints of stone fruit. Aged 8 months in 40% new French oak, it is a gorgeous wine with a long elegant finish. Gary Farrell 2014 Pinot Noir McDonald Vineyard Russian River Valley ($65) 90 The Pinot Noir McDonald Vineyard offers ripe red berry fruit on the attack. Light-bodied with high acidity on the mid-palate, it reveals moderate fruit flavors and good concentration with a persistent finish. Aged 16 months in 40% New French oak. Gary Farrell 2014 Pinot Noir Martabella Vineyard Russian River Valley ($60) 92 The Pinot Noir Martabella Vineyard is endowed with pure and ripe dark red berry fruit and pan grillé aromas. On the palate it is nicely balanced with a rich mouth feel, good acidity and notable freshness. Aged 16 months in 40% new French oak, it is beautifully balanced and long on the finish. Gary Farrell 2014 Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast ($75) 93+ The 2014 Pinot Noir Gaps’s Crown displays an attractive light ruby color and is pleasantly aromatic with fresh red berry fruit flavors. It has high acidity and freshness on the palate with good density and a long finish. Gary Farrell 2014 Pinot Noir Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley ($60) 92+ The 2014 Pinot Noir Bacigalupi Vineyard exhibits ripe cherry aromas and flavors with a hint of pan grillé. Sourced from one of the Russian River Valley’s classic vineyards, it is endowed with a silky texture and elegant mouth feel and is long on the finish, aged 16 months in 40% new French oak.
Green Valley Vineyard
The Spring 2017 new releases from Sonoma County’s Dutton Goldfield winery include a sumptuous Pinot Blanc, vibrant Riesling, and spicy, very appealing Gewürztraminer from the 2016 vintage; a classic Green Valley Chardonnay and Russian River Valley Pinot Noir from the 2015 vintage; and 2014 single vineyard bottlings of Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel. The 2016 vintage was excellent with exceptionally clean and flavorful fruit; yields were low overall but fruit quality was very high, and that’s reflected in the white wines we review here. The 2015 vintage was the fourth year of the drought and one of the earliest seasons on record, but fruit quality was outstanding once again. We reviewed several other 2014 Dutton Goldfield wines in an earlier article. Continue reading
Enkidu is a small artisanal winery owned and operated by Phil Staehle. It produces a wide variety of handcrafted wines of high quality and originality from its custom crush facility in Sonoma, sourcing grapes from top vineyards such as Bedrock and Alder Springs, and following minimalist wine making techniques. A student of the late Dick Graff of the Chalone Group, Phil honed his wine making craft at Carmenet Vineyards from the mid-1980s to the mid-90s before launching Enkidu in 2003. Continue reading