Raventós i Blanc: Stunning New Releases

The house of Josep Raventós i Blanc was established in 1986 in Sant Sadurni d’ Anoia by Josep-Maria Raventós, a break away member of the Codorníu family, with the objective of making Cavas of exceptional quality. Today, Josep’s grandson Pepe (shown here with his father Manuel) continues the pursuit on the estate’s 120 ha of low-yielding vines planted in sedimentary calcareous soils. The Raventós vineyards are sustainably farmed and yields are kept low by aggressive green harvests. Winemaking at Raventós is as meticulous as the viticulture. Raventos is an extraordinary Cava producer and we enjoy tasting their cavas annually.   These three new releases are top-of-the line. Continue reading

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Contratto of Alta Langa: An Impressive Showing of Metodo Clasico

Italy makes some of the world’s great sparkling wines.  We’re used to tasting the superb ones coming out of Franciacorta as well as Trento. Now, Piedmont’s Contratto joins this elite group.  Contratto was founded in 1867 by Giuseppe Contratto, making it the oldest Champagne-style (i.e., metodo classico) producer (originally, mostly from Moscato grapes) in Italy.  The winery was purchased by Giorgio Rivetti in 2011 with the aim of raising the quality and reputation of the brand.  Mauro Ferrero, who has worked at Contratto since 1978, continues but with the support of Andrea Rivetti, Giorgio’ son, and the financial and marketing resources of La Spinetta.  The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit for Contratto is now sourced from high altitude vineyards (up to 850m elevation) in Alta Langa.  And improvements continue to be made. Most recently, in 2015 Contratto planted its new, high altitude (720m elevation) vineyard in Bossolasco (Alta Lange).  Annual production of Contratto sparkling wine is now about 12 thousand cases. Continue reading

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Stylish Rosé: Colors, Shapes, and Celebrities

Perhaps no wine is as stylish as rosé.  The color of the wine, the shape of the bottle, the design of the label and even the name of the wine influence the consumer’s purchase.  While this is true for all wines, it’s more true for rosé with its alluring colors, exotic bottle shapes, and celebrity endorsements. Like most things rosé, the stylish trends began in Provence.  We examine these trends in more detail in our soon to be released 2021 Rosé Wine Report. Continue reading

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Flowers Winery: New Releases from the Exquisite Terroir of the West Sonoma Coast

Walt and Joan Flowers are among the pioneers of the West Sonoma Coast.  In 1990 when they planted their first vineyard, most winemakers regarded their location near the Pacific as too cold for growing grapes. Time has shown the Flowers were prescient, and our reviews below confirm our impressions of earlier vintages.  We visited winemaker Chantal Forthun at the winery in the Fort Ross Seaview appellation while preparing our 2019 report on The West Sonoma Coast, and we recently had a Zoom chat with her about the new releases. Continue reading

Posted in California, Chardonnay, Countries and Regions, Pinot Noir, Red Wine, Rosé, Uncategorized, White Wine, Wine Type | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Priorat’s Vi de la Villa Wine Designation and the Black Slate Village Wines

Our wine reports and tasting articles show our enthusiasm for the wines of Priorat. ( see IWR Report  #28 The Wines of Priorat)    In this article we discuss the wines of the different growing regions of Priorat and taste the Black Slate village wines imported and produced by Eric Solomon in collaboration with Priorat’s outstanding winemakers. (See the upcoming report on Garnacha in the IWR’s May-June  issue).  Continue reading

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The Wines of Israel’s Netofa Winery and Vitkin Winery

The International Wine Review has had a long association with Israeli wines.   Our first in-depth review of Israeli wines appeared in our report The Wines of Israel published a few years ago. Since then we have done periodic reviews of some of Israel’s finest wineries and reported on tastings we conducted at the annual Kosher Wine Festival held in New York.  In this article, we are pleased to present reviews of the wines of two excellent Israel wineries that are crafting first-class wine:  Netofa Winery and Vitkin.  Netofa is new to us, but we have had the opportunity to taste Vitkin’s wines with the winemaker,   Paz, in the start up days of the winery.

Netofa Winery

Netofa Winery was founded in 2006. Its vineyards are situated among the foothills of Mt. Tabor in the heart of the Lower Galilee with terroir ideally suited for Mediterranean varieties.  The winemaker is Pierre Miodownick who has had many years of experience making wine in France, Spain and Portugal. Yitzchak Tor who has been making wine in Israel for many years is a partner and serves as viticulturist. The two wines reviewed here are excellent examples of the fine winemaking at Netofa Winery.

 Netofa 2019 Latour White Lower Galilee ($29) 89 The 2019 Latour White is a 100% Chenin Blanc offering a nice, subtle, mineral-like nose with subtle flavors of white citrus, herbs, orchard fruit and toast.  It reveals excellent acidity and freshness on the attack with a nice creamy palate. It doesn’t have the typicity of Chenin Blanc and would benefit from more vibrancy and persistence on the finish. Importer: Royal Wine Corporation

Netofa 2018 Tel Qasser Red Lower Galilee ($33) 91   The 2018 Tel Qasser Red is a flavorful blend of Grenache and Syrah. Medium purple in color, it displays a fresh red berry compote-like purity on the nose. It is suave on the attack and reveals concentrated red berry fruit on the palate with delicious light spice and vanilla accents.  Aged for 10 months in French oak, it exhibits medium acidity, round tannins and a lovely texture.  A lovely easy to drink wine with freshness, elegance and vibrancy. Importer: Royal Wine Corporation

Vitkin Winery

Vitkin is a family boutique winery located  in Kfar Vitkin. For the past two decades, the founders, Shorona, Doron and Assaf, have pioneered the development of high quality premium wine focusing on unique Mediterranean varieties.  The winery, which was built to modern standards by Doron, sources grapes from vineyards throughout the country.  Assaf, who studied enology in France and made wine in California and Israel (Carmel) crafts the wine with Doron.  Despite its success over the years, Vitkin remains a boutique winery and is one of Israel’s finest.

 Vitkin 2020 White Israeli Journey Zichron Yaakov ($22) 91 The 2020 White Israeli Journey offers a fresh aromatic nose of orchard fruit, flowers and herbs. A blend of old vine French Columbard, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Viognier with a dash of Gewurztraminer, it is barrel fermented and aged in oak and rich with lees. It has a lovely palate and is fresh and elegant with a crisp finish. A delicious wine. Importer: Royal Wine Corporation

 Vitkin 2016 Carignan Kfar Vitkin (Village Zone) ($40) 92+ The 2016 Vitkin Carignan is sourced from old vines of the historic Zichron Yaakov Vineyard. Dark ruby in color, it offers aromas of dark red berries and plums with hints of bramble, earth and minerals. Aged 16 months in 30% new oak, it has a silky layered palate and is mouth filling with good acidity and freshness and a rich long finish. Importer: Royal Wine Corporation

 

 

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The Sordo Barolos from Eight Different Crus

The Azienda Agricola Giovanni Sordo is a family run vineyard with a century long history in Barolo. With 8 vineyards covering 53 hectares in 5 different municipalities, no other winery in Barolo has access to as many crus as does Sordo. The winery recently sent us their portfolio of wines, including the entry level Barolo Clasico blend and an Arneis white from Roero, for tasting. Our reviews follow. Continue reading

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Latest Releases from The Farm Winery in Paso Robles

 

The Farm Winery is one of a growing number of boutique wineries in the Paso Robles AVA that are producing limited quantities of outstanding, hand-crafted wines.  The winery is owned and operated by old friends and Stanford Business School alumni Jim Madsen and renowned Argentine winemaker Santiago Achaval. The Farm Winery launched operations in 2009.   After a long search, Jim and Santiago ended up negotiating  long term-leases of several vineyards located in the westside hills of Paso Robles   These vineyards have mainly calcareous soils at an average altitude of between 1700 and 1900 feet and are exposed to cool ocean winds, resulting in wide diurnal temperature variations that contribute to high quality fruit.  The vines are severely thinned and the use of green harvesting has kept yields very low, at around 1.5-2.0  tons per acre.  These yields are among the lowest in Paso Robles and are reflected in the wines’ concentration of flavors. Continue reading

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DAOU Vineyards: The Pursuit of Excellence

Daniel Daou

Daniel Daou and family have created one of California’s leading wineries for the production of Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends.  The story is by now well known—born in Lebanon, raised in France, educated at UC San Diego, founded a highly successful tech company, and then followed his dream of making world class wine.  A couple of years ago, Daniel showed us his vineyards and winery located in the Adelaida District of Paso Robles, and we’ve tasted his exceptional wines multiple times over the years.  This year we couldn’t travel, but Daniel sent us his wines, and we had a lengthy discussion over Zoom covering some technical issues such as yeasts, dealing with heat spikes, and determining ripeness of grapes. Our tasting notes can be found below. Continue reading

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Galicia’s Little Known Red Wines

 

Galicia is located in northwest Spain, just north of Portugal and east of the Atlantic Ocean.  It includes five wine appellations (Denominacion de Origen, or D.O.):  Rias Baixas, Ribeiro, Ribeira Sacra, Valdeorras, and Monterrei. Red wines are made in all five, especially in the latter three, which are located furthest inland.  In this article we review several very good, interesting and little known red wines from Galicia.  For more on the wines of northwest Spain see our recently published reports on The Wines of Bierzo and Rias Baixas: Albariño and More. Continue reading

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