Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:31:59 -0400 Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:31:59 -0400 Snooth Great Grilled Eggplant Gregory Dal Piaz <p>Yesterday I finally published a rather extensive look at the Barberas tasted during my visits to Piedmont earlier this year. In that review I mentioned how wonderfully Barbera pairs with grilled veggies, even the most simply prepared recipes. I love the zing of Barbera&#39;s acid with grilled vegetables and fine olive oil but perhaps the best partner for all that acid might very well be the slightly astringent flavor of eggplant.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Now in season, and abundant as usually, reliable old eggplant really transforms itself when grilled and garnished. Each and every one of the recipes that follows is a winner and showcases the beauty of eggplant. it can serve as the centerpiece for so many recipes, and is a nice change of pace from a meat based meal. While I would love a Barbera with any of these dishes, they also pair effortlessly with a broad range of wines. Lets take a look and see why some of the pairings are so successful!<br /> </p> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5526 Barbera is Taking on Airs Gregory Dal Piaz <p>I got so excited about dolcetto this year, see my report on <a href=""><strong>The Return of Dolcetto</strong></a>, that I almost forgot about Barbera!&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I love Barbera. It&rsquo;s a rich wine, though too often spoofed up with too much oak, but when you find an example that focuses on the fruit you get a wine that is bursting with mouth cleansing acids, rich with plummy fruit, and lightly tannic at best. The downside to Barbera? The alcohol tends to be pretty high. That&rsquo;s due to the grape&rsquo;s inherent acidity, which can produce overly acidic wines when the fruit is not fully ripe or the yield is too high.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Those battery acid barberas are something many of us of a certain age vividly remember. It was generally due to the high yields back in the day, when wine was cheap and farmers cared more about yields than quality.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Today we live in a different world and not only do producers simply lack the demand for such high production wines, but consumers can easily find out what&#39;s a good example of a wine and what&rsquo;s a bad example, and often those two bottles are essentially the same price! On the other hand, really good Barbera has joined the ranks of the expensive wines in many case, though the accompanying quality is usually there. $50 bottles of Barbera, who&#39;d&#39;ve thought?</div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /> Fortunately you don&rsquo;t have to break the bank to great a fabulous bottle of Barbera and those gentle tannins make Barbera a wonderful wine with a little chil. I&rsquo;ve always loved a cool bottle of fresh Barbera paired with great, farm fresh vegetables simply grilled and served on grilled European Rye bread (Silver Bell&rsquo;s from Queens is the best!) then drizzled with the best Olive oil you can find. It&rsquo;s a simple dish but the slightly vegetal undertones often present in barba marry perfectly with the veggies and the acids in the wine join the fats in the oil to create a symphony in your mouth. All the grilling also helps to temper and evidence of barrel ageing should there be any.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I will come out and say that I do not like new oak with barbera, though a little bit can help add some tannin to the wine which can improve mouthfeel for those used to more muscular wines. For me the oak just gets in the way, though ageing in larger, neutral oak can have a wonderfully effect on Barbera, adding a subtle softness to what is inherently a taut and edgy wine. Of course oak ageing makes Barbares a better wine if you&rsquo;re pairing it with a fatty steak or such fare, but that is not the role Barbera plays in my life.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> For me it&rsquo;s all about the acid, which is why so many people enjoy barbera so much with high acid dishes such as pasta in red sauce. As you&rsquo;ll see from my notes I prefer Barbera when it is elegant and fresh, which does not mean simple and light. A gentle hand can produce Barbera that is downright Burgundian! Yes barbera, the battery acid of yore is now elegant. Give a few bottles a try. Pasta, grilled veggies, even some meaty fish can make Barbera shine, and offer a hint as to why demand for these wines is continuing to push up pricing. One last note. Barbera also ages. It won&rsquo;t make old bones like Barolo for example but give a good Barbera three to five years in the bottle and you&rsquo;ll find a wine that has lost some of it&rsquo;s early fruit but replaced it with the leathery, spicy, earthy character so common in Piedmontese wines. I prefer my Barbera roughly during this period as it combine the brilliant fruit found in the young wines with all the nuance and detail you might expect to pay more for.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Having said that. many of the wines in this tasting represent the creme de la creme of Barbera, and they don&rsquo;t come cheaply. The wine world is a odd place where wines get priced to match demand and demand usually, but not always, follows critical acclaim more than anything else. Barbera, and dolcetto to a certain extend, have benefitted from the incredible increase in attention to and appreciation of Barolo and Barbaresco over the past decade.<br /><br /> [PAGEBREAK]<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Cappellano Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $38</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Smoky, ripe and complex on the nose, with deep earthy, medicinal accents to the candied black fruit and a lovely hint of chocolate liquor and chocolate covered cherry. Electric acids on attack are followed by rich,powerfully dark yet fresh fruit, unfolding gorgeous layers of plum, earth, and gently spiced fruit. This is an incredible wine, long and incredibly pure considering the power, with a little wild yeast nose adding lots of complexity on the nose. Finishing with incredible length and minerality to the tight, small wild dark cherry on the finale, this is one of the best Barberas ever tasted. Stunning.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Cascina Francia $55</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tight floral notes that are a little peppery greet the nose along with some soil spice notes violets and a bit of beefiness. Black plum and juniper pop on entry where this is bright, with great cut, and super freshness. Truly a clear, &nbsp;light on its feet exaltation of Barbera that shows a subtle chocolate ripeness on the back palate back note, along with fine fresh plum and blackberry fruit that pumps across the palate with life and draws through a long, well defined finish. With some beautiful fine grained tannins, and well integrated acid supporting the fruit, this is long and exceptionally balanced. A classic example of this wine and one that should age well for a decade or longer. 94pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Elio Grasso Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $35</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>16 months plus in barrique,50% new</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lots of wood on the nose, sweet and toasty with spicy notes concealing but not totally covering the core of black cherry skin, black plum fruit. This is silky, elegant and savory in the mouth, with spicy wood up from the superb tense fruit with &nbsp;great minerality and clarity on the backend. The wood tannins are well integrated, and this is very refined on the palate with a finish that is a bit short, but shows finesse, I want to like this less than I do but this is superb. 93pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Bartolo Mascarello Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $50</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>In San Lorenzo</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Black fruit, spice, soil, and dried green herbal accent greet the nose followed by hints of shoe polish, leather, and black cherry pits. This is gorgeously perfumed and detailed. Round, ripe with deep fruit on the palate, this shows off fine acid that is bright but integrated with soft tannins highlighting the purity and a subtle richness that this has. I really love the way the great acids that are buffered superbly by the big juicy plummy fruit with some wild berry accents and hints of plum pit and black currant on the moderately long finish. Just a silky joy to drink 93pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2008 Scarpa Barbera d&rsquo;Asti La Bogliona $60</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>24m in botte</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Meaty, with lots of savory culinary aromas like roasting steak and pretty big brewing coffee filling the glass while mineral hints of something saline and magnesium like creep in around the edges of the dark fruit. &nbsp;Smooth and powerful, and seamless in the mouth, there&rsquo;s great depth on the palate with fine mineral, herbal and floral detail along with a bit of coffee all woven together with dense, taut ripe fruits. The huge almost medicinal herbal notes that drive the long, juicy, slightly mineral water salty and quite fruity finish leaving one with a finale filled with macerated flowers. Not your typical Barbera, this shows the mineral complexity, power and detail Barbera d&rsquo;Asti is capable of. 93pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Burlotto Barbera d&#39;Alba Aves $28</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Chocolate, ivy, black cherry, and mineral come together on the nose with just a subtle underlay of wood,. Big acids on entry let you know this is Barbera, and this remains brilliant in the mouth with huge drive on the palate and great clarity to the red cherry and black plummy fruit. With fabulous balance and integration of flavors, you get just a hint of cognac spice from the oak accenting the fruit on the palate, this has great drive and focus in the mouth and shows great length on the gorgeous finish. A Barbera that seems likely to age exceptionally well for more than a decade, this is only held back by a little alcoholic warmth on the finish. 92pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Ferdinando Principiano Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Laura Romualda $50</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>One year to 18 months in ten year old botte</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A little spicy note on the nose, which is richly sweet and spicy, with aromas of small cherry fruit framed with smoky, earthy and quite spicy notes along with floral nuances. Upon entry this explodes aromatically in the mouth with gorgeous scents of &nbsp;small black cherry fruit and more light, perfumy, floral notes in the mouth. The fruit shows a bit simple, finely etched cherry flavors that gets great cut from the acids, and then shows mineral notes on the long finish. This impresses with elegance rather than power, though it is impressively perfumed and deep on the palate. 92pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Elvio Cogno Barbera d&rsquo;Alba &nbsp;Pre-phylloxera $55</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Intensely aromatic on the nose and deep with hints of herbs and burnt brownie, apples and asian spices. On the palate this displays a superb texture, integrated and tightly knit showing a soft and broad density in the mouth though remaining transparent and freshly fruited with palate staining intensity to the cherry skin and wild berry flavors. Showing pretty big tannic structure for Barbera, this remains lacy but with firm edged tannins, showing a little Burgundian texture on the backend where bright acids really come out on leading to a long finish with fine persistence to the fruit. A hint of heat mars the otherwise pure and precise finish. 92pts<br /><br /> [PAGEBREAK]<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Vietti Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Vigna Scarrone &nbsp;Vigne Vecchie $75</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tight and sweet on the nose with an oaky overlay of vanilla and spice laying atop the core of black fruit. Supple and old viney in the mouth, this has super fine tannins supporting big and dense liquory black cherry fruit that shows a bit of sour plum in the mouth. Big fruit, density and power in the mouth are trademarks of this wine along with with plenty of mineral character and a long chocolate streaked finish. This is wilky and long, with great fruit but the oak is certainly present and might detract from the fruit a bit. 92pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Cascina delle Rose Barbera Superiore Vigna Elena $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Deep floral notes and a bit of burnished wood emerge quickly on the nose followed by a bit of beefy, black fruit, blackberry aromas and something a little leathery. Elegant, refined, and bright this is really very precise for Barbera with lovely fresh and wild black fruits on the palate that exhibits such freshness without having huge acids. Long, pure and elegant, this finishes with more red fruit and sliced plum notes. I&rsquo;ve had this wine with several years of age on it and it ages spectacularly well. 92pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Massolino Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Gisep $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Fruit from the lowest part of Rionda and west facing part of Margheria, called &nbsp;le tourne. Only produced in top vintages</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Creamy on the nose with a wood smoke top note over fine candied medicinal notes, the oak is fairly obvious. Big, ripe, polished, powerful, and deep on the palate with big fruit and creamy oak on the backend leading to long black cherry slightly candied finish. Integrated but powerful acids keep this lively in the mouth and while this has potential to improve, it&#39;s rather regal for Barbera already. It&rsquo;s not my favorite due to the obvious oak but you can&rsquo;t deny the quality here. 92pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Scarzello Barbera d&#39;Alba Superiore $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>18 months of botte, a piece. 80% comes from Piagallo, historically a Barbera vineyard, the rest the lower part of Merenda, Merenda contributes body, Piagallo freshness and salt, mineral,</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Huge macerated herbs greet the nose along with notes of camphor, chalk, a hint of cocoa, and very complex, clear, and firm hints of blackberry with a little creamy edge. This shows real freshness in the mouth and while it is rich, powerful and notably dense , it remains bright and fresh. Rich with pure fruit, black plum and blackberry layered over a firm mineral note. This has a smooth texture supported by bright but not elevated acidity and wrapping up with a long and elegant finish replete with the twang of black cherry twang acids on the finish,. There&rsquo;s great depth to the fruit here with emerging complexity. 92pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Guido Porro Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Santa Caterina $20</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>2 or 3 months in botte</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tight, focused and pure on the nose with beautiful aromas of violet tinged black plum and black currant fruit. Bright, lean brilliant fruit greets the palate, edgy with such cut, freshness and purity to the plum skin and earthy raspberry fruit. Quite long on the palate, racy and focused with a hint of minerality on the finish, this is fabulous. An outstanding big-boned yet elegant Barbera. 91pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Brezza Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Superiore $26</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Cannubi Moscatel, Cannubi<br /><br /> Second vintage. One year in large wood, newer wood,</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Musky on the nose with tight chalky aromas and a hint of wood, dark fruit along with soil tones that are spicy and dry. A big wine on entry with lots of power, this is rich and polished with integrated acids, lovely plum and almost black raspberry fruit showing a hint of bramble and briar wood. Smooth polished and moderately long in the mouth, this reveals a deep vein of rosewood on the backend and lovely persistence to the fruit with superb balance and scale in the mouth. &nbsp;Perhaps a touch simple but gorgeously pure. 91pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Chiara Boschis Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $28</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A little minty from wood on the nose but that doesn&rsquo;t detract from the beauty of the candied red fruit gently framed with aromas of rose petals on the nose. Elegant and with perfect richness on the palate this has just the right density of fruit flesh wrapped around the acids. There&rsquo;s great plum and tart red here with a juicy sweetness that remains fresh and right through the long finish that shows a little blueberry and long raspberry finishing notes. This is downright gulpable,so firm and pretty, with fine length and great freshness of fruit. Not the best Barbera of the trip but the one I want to drink the most of. 91pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 &nbsp;Pio Cesare Barbera d&#39;Alba Fides $37</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Planted in a Nebbiolo vineyard attached to ornato in Serralunga, &nbsp;80% barrique, 6000 bottles</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Remarkably brilliant color. A bit oaken the nose with some shoe polish notes but with air aromas of wild black cherries, plums, dates, chocolate, &nbsp;and fruitcake fill the glass. the smells a little sweetly after wood. Decidedly a big wine, round, transparent and still a little rustic in the mouth with fabulously fresh plum skin fruit. One finds mineral edges on the palate balanced by the sweetness from wood, and this remains very aromatic in the mouth, with wonderful herb inflected inner mouth perfumes melding with the light toasty spice notes providing compelling complexity. The cutting acids on the finish are masked on the palate by richness, and this is powerful but lightweight in a good way. Just a bit short today and with oak that is a bit too prominent for my palate, this is still quite good. 91pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Giacomo Conterno Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Cerretta $52</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dark, spicy and soil driven on the nose with a hint of sweet vanilla candy framing rich dark fruit. Delivering lots of fruit on the attack, this fills the mouth with big plum fruit and shows a hint of black currant jam. Texturally this is quite round, with some tannins contributing to a feel that is a bit chewy and chunky. The acids kick in on the back end and drive the powerful spicy plummy fruit through the very long finish. This is fairly elegant in the mouth though it does show heat on the finish. 91pts<br /><br /> [PAGEBREAK]<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Burlotto Barbera d&#39;Alba $20</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>only botte</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Gorgeous on the nose, just classic Barbera with hints of tart blueberry, mulberry, a whisper of smoke and just gorgeous precise aromas of something sweet, with hints of dried berry fruit, and coffee toned shoe leather. Bright on entry, rich, even broad in the mouth.&nbsp;this is fruit driven, and just joyous in the mouth, showing zesty on the back end then following through with great length and just a whisper of heat on the finish. This lacks the complexity of the best but doesn&#39;t need it, as it&rsquo;s all about clarity and purity which it has in spades. 90pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Ferdinando Principiano Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Laura $20</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>SS</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tight with a little sweetness on the nose and the graphite I find typical of barbera aged in stainless steel. Delicate, juicy, and with fabulous purity in the mouth this is a bit simple with midpalate flavors of ivy and black cherry &nbsp;but with fabulous body Finishing with acid and a lovely gentle sweetness to the black cherry fruit, this is long and pure. 90pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Oddero Barbera d&#39;Asti $24</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> With aromas of cherry, game, balsam, fresh flowers, and sour plum on the nose this shows attractive aromatic complexity. Backed up with power and nuance in the mouth, this is powerful, smooth, and easy going up front, with darker fruit and minerality emerging later on the palate, which is long and finishes with focus and layers of dried red fruit, a touch of old wood, and savory, leathery dried meat notes. Complex and distinctive. 90pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Vietti Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Vigna Scarrone $35</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Minerally on the nose and subtly floral with a little spicy black juniper and a bit of sweet cherry compote. Sweet fruit greets the mouth then this turns taut and a little chewy in the mouth while delivering a rich mouth full of black fruit, spicy with good acids and lots of flesh surrounding the acids. There&rsquo;s a little sweet toasty spice adding detail and length here, but this is pretty powerfully laden with fruit and a few year ageing should see the spice note integrate fully and the deep fruit should relax and extend the already attractive finish. 90pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 &nbsp;Prunotto Barbera d&#39;Asti Costamiole $40</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>100% new barrique</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Smoky but briary on the nose with obvious wood spice supporting rich, dark fruit, this wraps everything up in a gauze of cocoa and tobacco. Rich with fruit, and just a touch softer than one might like yet retaining plenty of acidity, this offers clear and slightly chewy plummy fruit with hints of red currant and raspberries on the palate, finishing very clearly with wood tannins emerging and drying out the palate a touch. Air bring out lots of coffee cream on the nose, but this is a fairly elegant expression of barbera, with a hint of caramel. Not my style but in the style pretty good. 90pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Cascina delle Rose Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Black fruit, a little lime-ade, soil tones and lots of leather come together on the nose in this spicy almost passion fruit, very perfumed, elegant rendition of Barbera. A Little soft on the palate due to the richness and depth of fruit here, though this doesn&rsquo;t feel extracted. &nbsp;Just natural expression of ripeness, focused, with good snap, in a very friendly Barbera that is easy going but still interesting. The texture though is so supple and delicately full, and this has an impressively sweet, long, balsamic toned finish. Really enchanting. 90pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Rizzi Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pretty on the nose with aromas of tight black fruit and wild flowers. Rich and fairly powerful on the palate, this shows off good acids supporting &nbsp;plenty of bright juicy fruit that gains a polished edge with air. Elegant for Barbera, there is great cut and energy on the palate here and good length with dark berry and tart plum fruit that is pure and vivid. Fruit driven in the best sense of the word. 90pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Massolino Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $24</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Aged in concrete and in SS</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Finely focused on the nose with floral laced &nbsp;high toned, black fruit. In the mouth one finds a clean and fresh feel that shows off the classic weight of Barbera. There&rsquo;s just a hint of flesh, soft tannins, good obvious but not high acid all supporting lovely pure of fruit on the palate. Finishing firmly this unfolds in the mouth with mineral notes and a clean, palate cleansing wash of acid on the finale.Perfumed in the mouth, this does seem to be missing just a bit of fruit. 89pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2008 Scarpa Barbera d&rsquo;Asti I Bricchi $34</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>18m in botte</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Very pretty wood supported aromas of blue fruit, &nbsp;mineral, ripe plums, leather, asphalt and slightly medicinally tinged black fruit greets the nose. This offers lots of fruit and power up front with a good acid spine supporting the powerful black plum and black cherry flavors. While fairly easy to understand up front, this drops off a bit on the finish, still showing nice life and freshness to the fruit, but leaving one with hints of minerality and incipient complexity that takes some faith. I expect this to improve with a few years of age. 89pts<br /><br /> [PAGEBREAK]<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Giuseppe Mascarello Barbera Superiore Santo Stefano di Perno $40</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Va, a little spice and red cherry pie on the nose which is a little flat with aromatic rosemary, herbal, and medicinal components. A bit soft on entry, though with lots of superbly fresh red fruit that shows hints of root beer and ivy in the mouth. With, fresh little furry tannins, and decent but not great acidity, this is a pleasure to drink with a medicinal finale and more herbal ivy notes on the moderately long finish. not entirely typical of Barbera though typical of this bottling. 89pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Prunotto Barbera d&#39;Alba $15</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Nicely floral on the nose with streaks of blue fruit, a whiff of smoke and some ash and tart black currant fruit rounding out the aromas. Round fresh and zesty in the mouth, this shows nice depth on the palate and is almost rustic in an attractive way showing savory complexity and attractive nuance. On the palate the acid really drives the wine with nary a tannin to be found, but they are there, soft grape skin tannins. The finish is all cherry and plum skin, tart and slightly astringent and quite fresh in the mouth with an aromatic hint of blackberry preserves on the finale. Kind of textbook Barbera. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Prunotto Barbera d&#39;Asti Fiulot $15</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>All ss</em><br /><br /> Bottling the 2013 now, to be released in 6 weeks<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Very floral on the nose, which shows a bit of freshly ground coffee and black spice along with a hint of fish sauce, though it remains tight and earthy. Clean fresh and bright in the mouth and displaying absolutely pure fruit, this is very pretty with juicy acids that are very Barbera. This still has enough fruit to buffer the acids but this comes off as somewhat mineral on the palate with a bit of black raspberry fruit emerging on the back end leading to a clean, fresh, fairly long black plummy fruited finish. Fun yet this really shows a nice hint of complexity of fruit on the palate. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Francesco Rinaldi Barbera d&rsquo;Alba $24</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>1 year in wood</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Hints of ruby red grapefruit, violet, and soil tones all add attractive complexity to the core of &nbsp;black fruit aromas on the nose. Unusually this shows some new wood on the nose. with a lovely texture, this displays fresh. tart red berry fruit on the palate with integrated but bright acids that are very palate cleansing. There&rsquo;s a little grapefruit on the backend again, and &nbsp;lovely energy to the flavors that are not super complex but so fresh and fun. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Brovia Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Sori del Drago $28</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>SS</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Ash greets the nose with a hint of redux along with aromas of ink, very black fruit, and a little pepperoni Rich with some breadth on entry followed by bright cutting acids supporting very pure black plum skin and black berry that is bright and energetic. There&rsquo;s a hint of mintiness here on the backend that leads to a long acid driven sour cherry finish. Nicely fruit driven. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Brovia Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Ciabot del Fi $32</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>From the Brea vineyard in Serralunga, aged in mid sized barrels and SS,</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A bit tarry and balsamic on the nose with hints of &nbsp;pine cone and pignoli along with a little VA lifted gamy and sour plummy fruit. This is already showing some evolution on the nose. Quite beefy on entry with powerful fruit, good acids but well integrated in the &nbsp;small red fruit and candied plums on the palate. there&rsquo;s also a bit of sweetness on the palate, with acid adding a nice counterpoint. This is smooth and chewy and while long in the mouth it does lack a bit of freshness. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Vietti Barbera d&rsquo;Asti La Crena $40</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lots of red fruit shows up on this sweet nose which picks up a little forest floor and clay soil notes with air. A Touch soft for Barbera, with soft tannins lending this a velvety, easy to drink texture. Lots of plummy, red fruit is large scaled and fresh in the mouth with those tiny tannins making this fun to drink but the finish, slightly jammy but still with plummy red fruit flavors, is a bit on the short side. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Brezza Barbera d&rsquo;Alba Santa Rosalia $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>All SS.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pretty floral, iris aromas with some pencil lead and earth on the nose. In the mouth this is bright, clear and decisive, with excellent energy and transparency of fruit. It&rsquo;s light on the palate with a bit of sweet/tart going on in the mouth, and terrific purity to the raspberry fruit. Picnic styled but superb in the style with nice length on the palate. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Giovanni Sordo Barbera Superiore $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Massucci vineyard in Monforte</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Black berry jam is deep on the nose framed with hints of nutty cola and lots of very subtle prosciutto and herb accents. Almost jammy on entry, there&rsquo;s lots of fruit but but tart fruits, jammy wild berry, black frutti del Bosco that pick up nuanced balsamic, forest floor notes on the palate. This shows attractive complexity, though it comes across as a touch dried out, perhaps from its sojourn in wood, where it also picked up some fine grained tannins. Quite serious with savory depth, and some finesse on the finish. 88pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Coppo Barbera d&#39;Asti L&rsquo;Avvocata $15</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Very fruity on the nose and spicy with softly herbal and dried spice notes framing gentle and dusty red berry fruit. A bit chewy early on the palate and with plenty of acidity, this is moderately tannic and has a bit of an stringent nature to it. There&rsquo;s a slightly jammy quality to the red fruit on the palate, and through the long and slightly warm finish. This is simple and a bit raw in the mouth, but certainly a great example of typically zesty Barbera. 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Oddero Barbera d&#39;Alba $18</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Nicely focused on the nose with dark floral notes a little earthy, dark plummy fruit, and a little mineral top note. In the mouth this is very clean, fresh and bright, with a character that is a touch on the simple, easy going side. There&rsquo;s nice earthy length here and fine purity to the fruit which is tense and shows a nice mineral edge, growing in the mouth on the finish, which shows good length, but overall this lacks a bit of detail. Easy to drink and delicious but a bit simple. 87pts<br /><br /> [PAGEBREAK]<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Elvio Cogno Barbera d&#39;Alba Bricco dei Merli $28</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Macerated plums, sandalwood, and jammy boysenberry fruit greet the nose in a rather fruit driven and pronounced way. Round on entry with nice fleshy plum fruit that shows little boysenberry flashes along with a little jammy black currant note and black cherry preserves. This is very well knit, though very fruity in style with soft tannins and a soft feel through the backend before the acid kicks in on the &nbsp;plummy finish. Huge and simple but if you&rsquo;re looking for a fruity barbera this could be magic. 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Cavallotto Barbera d&#39;Alba Vigna del Cuculo $30</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Medicinal on the nose with early &nbsp;hints of bit shoe leather followed by fruit that is dark and earthy in style. Dark fruit on entry is surprisingly fresh in the mouth but has a lot of dried fruit and black fruit character. There&#39;s acid here but this shows plenty of flesh black fruit, &nbsp;a little soft edge of tobacco wood spice, in a style that is a little chewy, powerful, and slightly dense yet focused. Fairly long on the finish, this wine impresses with its fruit and richness but lacks the character I look for in Barbera. &nbsp;87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Prunotto Barbera d&#39;Alba Pian Romualdo $30</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>All botte with a part in Acacia, some in new botte since they recently acquired new botte</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> An initial whack of wood hits the nose, just too oaky and raw. Once you get past that there is a honeycomb like floralish aroma here, dominated by violets layered atop black currant, and jammy black fruit on the nose with hint of fresh leather and shoe polish. On the palate the fruit does shine through, framed by sweet toasty oak flavors, tart black plum and black berry pop on the palate and while this is arguably better than the standard version it&#39;s less fun to drink. The finish is a bit short, rather rich with fruit but the sweetness of the wood pops quickly then fades leaving light fruit and acid to dissipate fairly quickly. &nbsp;87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Einaudi Barbera $35</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>A vineyard selection</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tight on the nose with hints of pencil shavings and a bit of toasty oak over reticent fruit. This offers up great mouthfeel, a bit soft for Barbera but still has good acids, &nbsp;just a bit fleshy yet retaining nice transparency on the palate for a big wine that shows a hint of woody sweetness accenting the somewhat simple black plum and &nbsp;black raspberry fruit. The wood tannins emerge on the backend, and air brings out some lovely hints of violets on the nose and adds to the chewy character on the backend and sticky note on the finale. A bit too forced and extracted. 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Barale Barbera d&#39;Alba Preda $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Prosciutto, crushed berry fruit, tree bark, ink, and hints of smoky, candle wax and cocoa greet the nose with great nuance. In the mouth this is pretty round and decidedly big on the back end with a powerful, round finish that shows good persistence to the dark berry fruit. In spite of its size this is pretty easy going on the palate, not soft, but supple for Barbera with fairly long, easy finish. 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Francesco Clerico Barbera d&#39;Alba 13% $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Quite fruity on the nose with VA offering lift to the aromas of black fruit, blackberry, black currant, and a little shoe black and almond over nuanced minerality. Very fresh in the mouth, with a texture that is clear and bright. the fruit here is very clear on the palate and very light for modern Barbera. The fine tannins and bright acids support ripe plum skin and black cherry skin flavors. While a bit short and showing a bit of volatility, this is quite engaging on the palate. &nbsp;87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Giovanni Sordo Barbera d&#39;Alba $NA</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Attractively vinous on the nose with mineral and gently smoky aromas that still show a hint of malo. Bright acids temper a little fruit sweetness early on the palate, then this turns mineral through the midpalate, with flavors of red plums and blackberries that are simple but nicely balanced. Acid is present but there&#39;s a softness to this wine with a very fruity backend that shows just a suggestion of grapes skin tannin. The finish shows a soft fruitiness making this super easy to drink. fruity but boy is this long. 87pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Casa Scarpa Barbera d&rsquo;Asti Casa Scarpa $18</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>All SS</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Big black fruits on the nose with hints of shoe polish, lots of black cherry fruit, and a little spicy blue floral and graphite background notes. Smooth and rich in the mouth, a nice bit of flesh helps to cover the acid on the midpalate, then the acids drive the finish. A little chunky and raw with lots of mineral and blue fruit on the finish. This is a bit tough going today, too raw and aggressive in the mouth without enough flesh to cover the acids through the finish. 84pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Coppo Barbera d&rsquo;Asti Camp du Rouss $20</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dark, earthy and funky on the nose this shows Barbera as the fruit begins to fade leaving behind complex spice, earth, and dried red and black fruit aromas along with some obvious VA. Smooth, supple and polished in the mouth, while the fruity aromas have faded significantly here the plummy, slightly dried cherry flavors remain on the palate along with earthy edges and a dark mineral edge. The finish is quite abrupt here, with some drying wood tannins appear on the palate here. &nbsp;A bit rustic and rough around the edges, with a touch of wood tannin picked up in barrel turning this harder in the mouth. The VA really blooms in the glass and is excessive making this tough to drink. This is usually a classic but this bottle at least is flawed and undrinkable.&nbsp;</p> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5522 Pinot Gris(gio): Yea or nay? <p><div><br /> Yesterday we had a run down of some recently released Pinot Gris. While there were some truly lovely wines in that selection, Pinot Gris remains a divisive wine. Many typical consumers love the way the wine fits comfortably between the richness of Chardonnay and the acid driven dinginess of Sauvignon Blanc, and without Sauvy&rsquo;s often off putting herbaceous character.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In my hour of weakness, while considering whether to simply let that sleeping dog lay or to give it a figurative kick, I turned to my fellow wine writers to see what they had to say on the subject. Not surprisingly they were divided! Some love the wine, some hated it! Find out why as we ask our wine writing friends.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Photo courtesy <a href=",_King_Estate,_Oregon.jpg">wikipedia commons</a></em></div><br /> <br /> </p> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5518 Time to Ponder Pinot Gris(gio) Gregory Dal Piaz <p><div><br /> I&rsquo;ve been through this so many times before that it becomes rote. The differences between Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio. Well, there really aren&rsquo;t any, when we are referring to the grapes. One is the name in French while the other is the name in Italian. When it comes to the wines though, there remains some distinction, though that is disappearing as producers seem to be tuning their style towards a price point today, rather than a regional expression.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> That is not entirely fair of course. There are certainly regional expressions. Pinot Gris from Alsace continues to be richer, spicier and generally sweeter than Pinot Grigio from northern Italy, which historically has always been about crispness, freshness, and juicy fruit. Bottles labeled as Pinot Grigio, regardless of origin, generally had those traits while bottlings using the Pinot Gris nomenclature generally showed more of that Alsatian style. Today that is increasingly not true.</div><br /> </div><br /> <br /> It seems to me that Pinot Gris is simply winning the battle of the greys, both grigio and gris mean grey in their respective languages, in more ways than one. More producers around the globe are using Pinot Gris on their labels but perhaps more importantly, even more are putting something more stylistically akin to Pinot Gris in the bottle, no matter what the label says.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While the overall level of quality for these wines continues to improve, it&rsquo;s not helpful for the consumer to have to wonder about a bottle of wine. whether it will be sweet or dry, soft or acidic. it&rsquo;s a wonder that Pinot Gris(gio) continues to be as successful as it has been, but maybe that is a bit of an illusion driven by the massive numbers sold by a handful of Italian producers. In truth some of those wines, remarkably inexpensive as they are, offer tremendous value to the casual wine drinker. Easy to drink, fruity, and light on the palate, they offer a real alternative to Chardonnay or Sauvignon blanc, falling roughly between those two varieties.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Once we move away from the true volume producers a funny thing happens. The inexpensive options seem to all get a little sweet on the palate, reflecting both the grapes naturally fruity character, but also the current trend towards wines that have enough residual sugar in them to be soft, fruity, and frankly sweet. While with red wines this has been the domaine of the &ldquo;innovative&rdquo; red blend, with Pinot Gris, in particular, there is a historical precedent for these wines. And let&rsquo;s not forget that Chardonnay in California received a big boost when it went from being a dry wine to being a &ldquo;dry&rdquo; wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> People love their little touch of sweetness in wine. It make the fruity flavors fruitier, covers the acid, and makes the wine easier to drink, particularly on its own as so much wine in this country is consumed. So it&rsquo;s not surprising to find that Pinot Gris(gio) is now sweeter on the whole than it was a few years ago. That is not universally true as i see many producers in Oregon, for example, reigning in their sugar levels. And incidentally, as if further proof was needed considering the Rieslings and Chardonnays, Oregon continues to emerge as the greatest terroir for white wines in the US, Pinot Gris included.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> One interesting result of this tasting was that there appears to be a real difference between the quality of the less expensive and more expensive wines samples for this report. Five of the six most expensive examples finished atop the leaderboard, with the least expensive examples clustered towards the bottom. And while there were some outliers in the middle, the difference between the two price categories was quite significant.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Still there were two standouts at the $15 price point, one predictably from Italy, the other surprisingly from Idaho. Which just goes to show how well Pinot Grigio can do just about anywhere it&rsquo;s planted. For my palate though the wines tend to be a bit too fruity, and while not my favorite I can appreciate many of these wines for the way they express the distinct varietal character of this grape that is beloved around the world.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Vista Hills Pinot Gris Treehouse Willamette Valley 13.8% $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sweet, nutty and candied on the nose witha fascnatinglycomplex array of fruit, berry, apple, lime, floral, savory/spicy and candied aromas. Sweet on entry and obviously so but in the mouth the acids here do a fine job of balancing the sweetness and while the explosion of aromas on the nose doesn&#39;t quite come across on the palate this does offer up rich fruit flavors with an earthy edge to them all wrapped up in a juicy, suave yet soft and creamy texture. The finish is fairly long with lovely nutty undertones, a hint of minerality and fine length to the floral toned fruit. A fascinating and beautiful wine, even iritis a touch too sweet formy a palate. Break out some stinky wash rind cheeses. &nbsp;92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Willakenzie Estate Pinot Gris Yamhill-Carlton 14.3% $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Polleny on the nose with hints of bitter melon and unripe pear fruit laid over a sweet, almost buttery, creamy nuance. Sweet for the first second then this turns bright and juicy with I rant acids that dance on the palate. There&#39;s a fine balance of fresh fruit and intensity here and frankly this holds it&#39;s alcohol astoundingly well. &nbsp;The finish is fresh and clear with a suggestion of wildflowers and honey layered over creamy apple and white peach fruit. A grand bottle of Pinot Gris that straddles the line between the finest examples from Italy and Alsace. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Tenutae Lageder Pinot Grigio Porer Alto-Adige 12.5% $24</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Reticent on the nose with hints of soil, wild flowers, honeycomb and dried pear fruit topped with some toasty nuance. Rich on entry, the not insignificant acidity here manages to stay in the background while fully supporting the bright, if earthy fruit flavors on the palate. A lovely nuance of bitter almond appears on the palate adding complexity and contrast to the sweet orchard fruit flavors. This finish with power and a flourish, subtly spicy and with a touch of quartz adding a hint of salinity on the finale. Elegant, refined and complex. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Redbank Pinot Gris Sunday Morning King Valley Australia 12.5% $25</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sweet tart on the nose with layered aromas of pear, nori seaweed, citrus pith and rose petals. A bit on the subtle side, this has a very attractive texture, transparent, gossamer thin yet with some tensile strength and energy behind the mineral and apple core flavors. The acidity is nicely supportive and brings out a fine mineral note on the backend that leads to a modest yet right and refreshing finish. I wish this were a bit longer in the mouth and in truth it makes me think of Muscadet as much as Pinot Gris, but I do like this quite a bit. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 13.5% $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit earthy with hints of dried apple fruit on the nose along with a spicy, honeycomb like character. Elegant and fresh in the mouth, this is transparent and dances on the palate. Neither rich nor intense, this is more a wine of finesse with zesty apple fruit and a touch of river stones on the palate and through the moderately long, grapefruit pith tinged finish. Gently fruity with a shade of bitterness adding some detail to the palate. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio delle Dolomiti 12.5% $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight on the nose with subtle aromas of pressed flowers, citrus pith and pear skin. Fruity with good intensity in the mouth this skirts the limits of a lightweight wine, showing a bit of depth and viscosity on the palate while delivering the classic fresh flavors of crabapple, pear and subtly polleny spice. The finish is edgy and decisive with a touch of astringency that refreshes the palate along with hints of bitter nuts and lemon. This is roughly what Pinot Grigio should be. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Sawtooth Pinot Gris Snake River Valley Idaho 12.7% $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Quite fragrant and floral on the nose with spicy notes that recall cardamom and coriander layered over crisp Asian pear fruit and salty mineral tones. Round and bright in the mouth with a lovely blend of fruitiness and fresh minerality in the mouth. This is vibrant on the palate with orange cream and pear fruit but there is a lovely mineral/savory basenote that adds complexity and tension in the mouth Clean and brisk on the finish, this is fairly long with a hint of creamy pineapple and plenty of acidity on the finale. Fairly intense and nicely varietal in the mouth with an attractive freshness and clarity to the fruit. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Sockeye Pinot Grigio Columbia Valley 13% $10</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mineral, slightly savory and rich with green apples on the nose this smells tense and nervous. High acid on entry and still with a hint of trapped co2, this is a high wire of a wine with steely mineral character, dried apple peel flavors and crisp acids. Clean if a bit short on the finish, where this turns savory once again, this is a bit simple but pure and electric in the mouth with a sneaky mangosteen finish. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Hahn Winery Pinot Gris Monterey 14.5% $14</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A little green pear greets the nose along with some yeasty notes and sweetly candied citrus notes. Pretty big in the mouth with a hint of RS adding weight and richness on the palate, theres plenty of acid to balance it and nice underlying polyphenolic pear skin. Internets that adds a nice counterpoint to the almost melony sweetness on the palate. Spicy and fresh on the modest finish, this is rather boldly flavored and rich. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Redbank Pinot Gris The Long Paddock Victoria Australia 14% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dusty with a touch of resin on the nose over leafy green herb flecked apple aromas along with hints of mint. Elegant and refined in th enough, this is subtle but well defined on the palate with clear white apple and Asian pear flavors that are wrapped around subtle mineral and bitter apple seed notes. A bit rounder and richer than the Sunday Morning from the same producer, this is perhaps more varietal but at the same time I find it shorter and a bit less interesting, though it also has a terrific texture. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 J Vineyards &amp; Winery Pinot Gris California 13.8% $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight, fresh, lemony and slightly muscatty with floral notes on the nose. &nbsp;In the mouth this is lighter that you might expect front he nose with simple yet fresh flavors of sweet apple and pears buttressed by gently supporting acids. It&#39;s a Iight and fresh wine that turns more citrusy with air and gains a subtle chalky note on the fairly long finish that ends with a classic pop of spicy apple fruit. &nbsp;Light, fresh and pure. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Kenwood Pinot Gris Russian River Valley 13.5% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This is certainly pungent, and fruity though with aromas of tropical fruit leaning towards guava along with cooked apricot and melon it is somewhat atypical. Gentle on the palate, a little swet and with fruity flavors that recall the nose but show nice restraint this is a very appealing wine to a broad spectrum of consumer looking for something a bit complex, easy to drink and yet not without weight in the mouth and fresh fruit character. Rather clean and bright on the finish with an appealing underlying astringency and peach pit character, this is an interesting drink. &nbsp;86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Hoyt Family Vineyards Pinot Grigio California 14.1% $22</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dried herb and leafy notes greets the nose joined by aromas of sweet candied grape, honey, old wood, a hint of forest floor and lovely nuanced floral aromas. Small scaled and bright in the mouth, this is driven by acids that keep the palate fresh even if the fruit has a dried edge to it, slightly spricotty and with a hint of fig and dried herb on the backend. The finish is modest and shows more fresh fig character. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Alois Lageder Riff Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 12% $10</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Perfumed on the nose with gentle dried floral and apple skin notes along with hints of chestnut and dried lemon peel. Round in the mouth without much detail while delivering polleny orchard fruit flavors. There&#39;s enough acid here and some mineral note but this is rather boring if cleanly made. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Da Luca Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 12.5% $13</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fairly neutral on the nose with pithy citrus aromas, hints of pistachio, and some raw green herbal notes. &nbsp;Bright and juicy in the mouth, this does deliver some attractive citrus fruit and pith flavors early on the palate and reverts to that hint of pistachio and pithy character with a hint of honey on the backend through the modest if clean and gently fruity and even mineral toned finish. Perfectly serviceable. &nbsp;84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Oxford Landing Estates Pinot Grigio South Australia 12.5% $9</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit reduced on the nose though with air this reveals twiggy herbal and juicy red apple aromas with a touch of fig on the nose. A touch sweet on entry, there is enough acidity to keep this live.y on the palate but that touch of sugar remains obvious, a decided plus for some consumers. This is a bit of a simple wine with fresh apple fruit and a touch of dried herbal nuance that lingers on the sugar lengthened, yet clean finish. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Geyser Peak Pinot Grigio California 13% $10</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit earthy with hints of dried fruit and lemon curd on the nose. This smells a lot like a lemon square. A hint of sweetness early on the palate is followed by good acids that help keep this from oozing across the palate and losing its shape. The fruit shows a bit of a dried fruit, dried citrus peel character along with rich hints of peach and fig on the palate. Short on the finish with pithy citrus flavors and a hint of peach, this is serviceable with a texture that lets you know you are. Drinking something. The tension on the finale, between sugar and weirdly assertive acids is a bit off putting. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Parducci Pinot Gris Small Lot Blend Mendocino County 13% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Aromas of lemon hard candy greet the nose along with a suggestion of spearmint and green pear skins. &nbsp;A bit soft in the mouth, though very broad, this is rather mouth filling with subtle flavors of raw nut meats, green apples and citrus pith along with a little cooked fruit character. Easy drinking with a very modest finish, this smells better than it tastes. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Colavita Pinot Grigio Trentino 12.5% $13</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Candied lemon notes and aromas of honey dominate the nose along with gentle orange fruit gel notes. This is soft and easy going in the mouth. A subtle nutty note punctuates the rather neutral citrus flavors that are rather flat on the palate with no discernible acidity and a very modest finish. 78pts</div><br /> </p> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5516 Exploring Vouvray with Christy Canterbury MW Gregory Dal Piaz <p><div><br /> This past month we had the good fortune of spending an hour discussing the fabulous wines of Vouvray with none over than Christy Canterbury MW. I&#39;ve edited down our hour long exploration of Vouvray into 10 short videos where Christy and I touch on things like the &nbsp;importance of lees aging, in regards to Sparkling Vouvray in particular, the terroir of Vouvray, and some of the trials and tribulations growers have faced over the recent vintages.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> You might be surprised to find that our tasting was split between Sparkling Vouvray and Vouvray Sec. It is quite likely that most people out there are more familiar with the sweeter styles of Vouvray, which can be fabulous, but as we rediscover while tasting these four wines: drier examples of Vouvray are simply some of the best wines int he world, and because they are relatively undiscovered, they remain some of the best values. Join us and find out more about Vouvray and why you should be trying some today!</div><br /> <br /> </p> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5514 Summer Salad Redux Gregory Dal Piaz <p><div><br /> You can write a book about what to cook during the summer time, and I almost complete an entire cookbook each season, but sometimes I&rsquo;m in such a rush to make the great dishes that i love that I , almost, forget to cover the basics. With just a few weeks left of summer, but months left for farm fresh veggies and grilling, today I want to turn my attention to some of the classics, and look for interesting new riffs on the classic pasta salads, coleslaw, potato salad, grilled veggies, and abundant tomatoes that are staple on some patios this time of year.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While your old tried and true versions of the classic dishes are no doubt delicious. I mean you are making them over, and over, and over again, there is always room for some innovation and to allow some creativity to creep in to our culinary world. So let&rsquo;s get inspired by these creative recipes. Not everyone is sure to be a winner, but as a group, it&rsquo;s a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Not to mention your mouth watering. So what will you be preparing this weekend??</div><br /> </div><br /> <br /> </p> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5513 Sierra Foothills Zinfandel is Ready Gregory Dal Piaz <p><div><br /> I believe that folks might already have gleaned that I am somewhat of a Zinfandel fanatic but some of my previous posts. In truth my job has resulted in my drinking less, not more Zin but left to my own devises that would not be the case. Zinfandel remains for me the greatest American wine, both for the sheer joyousness of the wine and the history that comes with them.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Today&rsquo;s Zinfandel landscape is the richest in history, filled with old vine lots, amazing field blends, and some of the most talented winemakers in the industry, which is not surprising when you consider what terrifi expressions of terroir fine Zins can be. Yes it is true, Zinfandel is a great terroir wine. Just taste a few examples from Sonoma or Napa and it will become instantly obvious. And of course the many regions beyond the familiar that continue to produce world class Zins all have their own terroir to expres. &nbsp;Just this summer I&rsquo;ve reported on the wines of Lodi, Mendocino, and Lake counties. All fabulous regions for Zinfandel, and great value Zins at that. Today I turn the spotlight on what might very well be the black sheep of the Zinfandel family: Amador and the Sierra foothills!</div><br /> </div><br /> <br /> Now these are regions with rich and varied histories. producers of some classic Zins across the decades, and yet they fail to get the notice of some other regions and in fact seem to be falling behind regions like Lodi and Mendocino. That&rsquo;s not because the wines are in anyway inferior, it&rsquo;s simply economics. Land and farming costs are cheaper elsewhere, and so the big boys tend to have turned their attention away from the Sierra Foothills. It is possible that the wineries from the Sierra Foothills have also not been making the best case for their wines.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The reputation for Zins from these regions seem to be built on wines that were produced some time ago, though it also seems that more Zin producing regions has changed as little, or as slowly as these two have. When I think of Amador Zins, the most common and well distributed wines of the Sierra foothills, I tend to think of wines that are rich, chewy, chunky and rustic. Certainly apt descriptions for wines say of the 1970s, but not necessarily apt today. I also think of wines that express a warm climate, though in reality what I, and you might be tasting are late harvest wines instead.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The wine industry in this neck of the woods has tended to be rather small, family owned and local. that explains the reluctance to adopt a more modern, perhaps lower alcohol, but certainly more elegant style. It&rsquo;s not as if the region is incapable of producing these types of wines. Amador is not, after all, a truly hot climate, these are afterall foothills with their diurnal shifts that can approach 50 degrees in the heat of the summer Vineyard elevations vary roughly from 1000 to 3000 feet of elevation and soils tend to be predominantly the decomposed granite of the mountains to the east. The truth of the matter is that many small wineries have continued to make wines the same way for years if not decades simply because the local economy that had been the support structure for these wineries was built on that style of wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> You can not fault small wineries for being cautious but at the same time there has been both precedent, a 1968 Amador county Zinfandel made for Darrell Corti by Bob Trinchero at Sutter Home that is legendary, as well as recent events, Teagan Passalaqua and Bill Easton have both been staunch supporters of the region producing wines that are uniquely Sierra Foothills but at the same time in a more elegant and refined style than has been the norm in this neck of the woods. These modern examples of Amador Zinfandel are serving to open doors for both the current and future generations of producers in the region. No longer simply surviving, Sierra Foothills producers are now both thriving and learning that their cool hillsides, benefitting as they do from lots of sun and moderately long seasons, can be farmed to produce wines that are fresh, bright, and easy to drink. The days of power monsters, tannic Zins, and franky sweet wines is receding into the past as Amador and the sierra Foothills strides into the 21st century.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Today the Zins of the Sierra Foothills are increasingly about the terroir of the Sierra Foothills and less about the techniques of the 1970s. red fruit, structured wines, based on those granitic soils and wind swept slopes are creeping into the market. For a lover of Zinfandel it&rsquo;s a welcome sign. Another aspect of Zinfandel revealed, and usually at a very attractive price. With the sumer slowly creeping towards its inevitable conclusion allow me to implore you to grab one or a few of the se wines to share with simply seasoned ribs right off the grill. Not only will the wine pair magically with your food, but the scenario is one that will no doubt be played out over and over again in the foothills themselves. It remains after all a casual place where folks eat with the hands, share food and wine among friends in the backyard, and learn to be increasingly confident in their unique and distinctive expressions of Zinfandel, and Barbera, but that is a story for another time!</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 20px">Easton</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Easton Zinfandel Old Vine Rinaldi Vineyard Fiddletown $28</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark in color and on the nose with old wood, earthy, dried flowers aromas wed to a core of very masculine, oily and dark fruit. Packed and smooth in the mouth with intensely briary, spicy and rich black cherry fruit and boysenberry flavors. This is a rich and complex wine with abundant ripe tannins, bright, juicy acids, and a long intense finish. Powerful and gorgeous. 93pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Easton Zinfandel Shenandoah Valley</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fairly oaky on the nose with lots of coffee accents to the &nbsp;black and plummy nose. Bright firm and well defined in the mouth, with bright acids supporting tart red berry fruit, framed by lovely peppery and almost gin like accents. Focused in the mouth with gorgeous fruit, fine edgy tannins and floral finish. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Easton Zinfandel Amador County $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit of oak greets the nose along with peachy freshness of fruit and layered aromas of smoky, oily blackberry fruit. Fairly rich and peppery, in the mouth, this is laden with bitter black cherry and blackberry fruit, supported by chewy little tannins and good finishing acids. A &nbsp;bit grapey and a touch rustic. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Easton Zinfandel Fiddletown $24</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Granite soil, no late heat, last vineyard picked, more severe</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Bright, floral, aromas and lots of crushed berry fruit emerge on the nose. In the mouth this is very pure and gently spicy with simple, fresh and juicy grapey fruit that ends with a nice long finish that &nbsp;shows some gentle tannin. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 20px">Lava Cap</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Lava Cap Zinfandel Rocky Draw El Dorado County $22</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Earth, white pepper, and deep aromas of sour plum greet the nose. On entry this is big, bold, with rich, with mineral laden red cherry fruit, earthy base notes, and a soil driven, spicy, long, little raspberry cough syrup finish. Chewy and lovely. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Lava Cap Zinfandel Reserve El Dorado County $24</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight and earthy on the nose, musky even with aromas of capers, smoke, bouquet garni, and rich red fruit all coming together beautifully. Bright, faceted, and vaguely mineral in the mouth this displays cherryish fruit and a bit of herb on the palate. Really gorgeously &nbsp;balanced, this is refined, if a bit old school with its dry edge of austerity that powers the long, peppery finish. Great purity in an alluringly firm style. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Lava Cap Zinfandel Reserve El Dorado County $20</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Gently creamy oak frames dark balsam scented berry fruit on the nose. In the mouth this is rich and very focused with clear rusty red fruit and red cherry fruit supported by ripe tannins and good acids. The fruit pops on the finish, along with some gentle tannins and a finishing note of wood spice. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Lava Cap Zinfandel Rocky Draw El Dorado County $22</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Gingery, spicy, polleny and floral on the nose with very pretty, raspberry and cherry fruit. Cool, crisp, and approachable on the palate, this shows off herb streaked wild cherry fruit, leading to a mineral tinged finish. Smaller scaled than the 2010, this is also a bit rough and &nbsp;edgy still on the palate,. though fruity through the rustic yet attractive finish. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 20px">Sobon Estate</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Sobon Estate Zinfandel Fiddletown $22</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A little tarry on the nose and spicy with cigar wrapper nuances and a fine oak overlay. In the mouth one finds nice blackberry fruit, bit of herb all nice and bright and zesty with good richness, good length, and impressive depth. Air brings out the tobacco on the palate along with that gentle spice note all layered under rather rich and juicy red berry fruit. &nbsp;89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Sobon Estate Zinfandel Cougar Hill Amador County $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Spicy, earthy, and balsamic on the nose with layers of &nbsp;sour plum, beef, mineral and black fruit aromas. the black fruit takes center stage in the mouth as well, along with lovely floral and spice accent notes. This is juicy with some plum skin/ black cherry fruitiness that leads to a rich of modest and slight tannic finish. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Sobon Estate Zinfandel Rocky Top Amador County $17</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Gently smoky on the nose with a bit flint-like minerality and dark fruit, giving this a muscular feel on the nose,A bit of American oak pops on entry then this feels a bit matte on the palate, round and with good acids and dusty tannins but lacking definition. Showing a bit of medicinal extract on the tart finish, this also turns a bit sticky in the mouth. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Sobon Estate Zinfandel Old Vine Estate Amador County $13</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dusty and a bit candied on the nose with a hint of spicy and red fruit notes. In the mouth there is more of the same, gentle spice, and candied red fruits that are reinforced by the noticeable RS on the palate. &nbsp;The fruit shows a raspberry jamminess and picks up a dusty note on the modest finish. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Sobon Estate Zinfandel ReZerve Zin Amador County $24</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark, oaky, and with aromas of dark oily seeds, floral wood, and plenty of slightly inky extracted fruit to cover it, This shows lots of dark coffee bean and vanilla flavors, along with dusty wood tannins, all leading to a short finish. Where&rsquo;s the fruit? 78pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Turley Zinfandel Judge Bell Amador County $32</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark, briary fruit gains a nuance of pencil lead on the very complex and aromatic nose which shows rich medicinal and macerated herb top notes. In the mouth this shows off green herb an ivy notes on entry, followed by black currant fruit, a little wood, and a subtle bitter edge. Quite clear and precise on the palate, this turns a bit chewy on the rich, long finish with its hints of briar layered over red fruits. lovely and long. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Story Winery Zinfandel Creekside Vineyard Amador County $35</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark and a bit spicy on the nose with a very gentle oak framing note. This shows a lovely balance of power, transparency, and spicy fresh tart cherry fruit in the mouth. There is a slightly astringent follow through here as a bit of wood tannin pokes through on the finish, and then there is a lovely red fruit bang on the finale. Really very attractive and fun to drink. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Story Winery Zinfandel Picnic Hill Amador County $35</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Spicy, dark and very aromatic on the nose with nuanced oak, bramble, red berry and camphor aromas. This is a lovely, fun Zin that is a bit loosely knit bit shows gorgeous green herb tinged and subtly minty red fruit that recalls raspberry and strawberry on the palate. It&rsquo;s fruit driven, yet clean with a precise finish that refreshes the palate with &nbsp;fine grained ripe tannins. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Terra d&#39;Oro Zinfandel Deaver Ranch Amador County $24</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Big and jammy on the nose with lots of dark fruit, damp tobacco and earth aromas along with a touch of oak spice. Smooth, rich and focused in the mouth with mulberry and black plummy fruit underpinned by some wood tannin. Oak shows up a bit on the backend with creamy milk chocolate and cinnamon flavors finishing with black cherry, leather, and creamy oak flavors. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Renwood Zinfandel Old vines Sierra Foothills. $20&nbsp;</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Nutty oak and almond aromas greet the nose over a base of plum and black cherry fruit. Rich, chewy and dark in the mouth with too much wood and vanilla for my palate though it is fairly well integrated with the black cherry fruit on the palate. The finish turns a bit candied again and shows both plenty of vanilla cream and increasingly aggressive wood tannins. 85pts</div><br /> </p> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5512 Oregon’s Unheralded Chardonnay Gregory Dal Piaz <p><div><br /> I was recently in Oregon, for the annual International Pinot Noir Celebration, which is a splendid reason to visit Oregon&rsquo;s wine country, though you don&rsquo;t need such motivation to be wowed by what you&rsquo;ll find in McMinnville and the surrounding areas. While tons of Pinot were in fact tasted and consumed during that long weekend, today I want to take a few minutes and discuss that other Burgundian grape, you know the one. It elicits visceral responses in most people, either fawning or frightened. They call it Chardonnay.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> As it happens, one of the great and ongoing discussion in Oregon is usually about Chardonnay. A region so well adapted to Pinot Noir should also be able to produce world class Chardonnay. I mean just look at Burgundy. The two varieties thrive side by side in their homeland. Common wisdom has held that this should be the case just about anywhere, and yet in Oregon that has not been the case, until recently.</div><br /> <br /> If you ask the producers why this is you are met with a chorus. Clones. It&rsquo;s the arrival of the Dijon clones that marks the turning point, which is undoubtedly true but not the whole story, though I&rsquo;m not sure how much the rest of the story actually matters. A few points worth considering might be the ancillary facts that the prime vineyard spots in the region have always been reserved for Pinot Noir, and that until recently Pinot Gris was the go to white for many producers. Easier to farm than Chardonnay, more prolific in production, and frankly cheaper to get out of the winery and into retail channels. Cash flow can not be discounted as a reason why interest in Chardonnay had been tempered.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> You blend these two additional facts and it becomes obvious that the earlier versions of Chardonnay, from clones that were less well suited for the region, sites that had been deemed not quite good enough for Pinot, and wineries focused on Pinot and cash flow, never had a chance.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Today Chardonnay not only has a chance, but it is poised to become increasingly important throughout Oregon. Not only because it&rsquo;s easy to market. I mean people do love their Chardonnay, but also because it is good. Like fabulously good, and in a market increasingly moving away from big creamy butter-bombs and searching out Chablis like expressions of the grape Oregon has it&rsquo;s ducks in a row.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Today the main topic of discussion when Chardonnay is brought up in Oregon no longer is about quality, but has become about style, and whether or not the state has some inherent style that winemakers should be producing. The answer to that question is of course no, and yes. No, no state, save perhaps Rhode Island and Delaware can really have a state style, but when it comes to Oregon the wine industry is not about the state for most people. It remains about the Willamette Valley, though I tasted examples of Chardonnay from both the extreme north and south of the state as well on this visit. Inasmuch as the broader wine industry remains within the Willamette valley we can at least say that the region has a fairly uniform climate, which in turn does allow for significant consistency within their wines as a group.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So yes, to my mind there is an emerging Oregon style of Chardonnay based on examples from within the Willamette valley and producers are free to push its boundaries, but I love where they are forced to focus. Chablis came to mind repeatedly over the weekend when tasting these wines. Perhaps not specifically, the soils are of course different and diverse in Oregon, but the precision on the palate, crisp textures, relatively limited use of impactful wood, and joyously refreshing quality of these wines in generally really reminded me of why I love Chablis so much. With the subtle but obvious difference though I think that we are in fact witnessing the emergence of the a unique Oregon style of Chardonnay which will be both an exciting option in the marketplace as well as an important addition to the quiver of the state&rsquo;s wine industry.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> One point worth noting here is that the wine industry as a whole is generally responding to a marketplace that increasing favors immediacy over age worthiness. To that end an elegant and delicate example of Chardonnay may have a distinct advantage over one that is more heavily laden with oak and fruit. Those regions or producers who are able to produce this style of wine are being rewarded with growing market share and increased distribution while proponents of a richer style of Chardonnay are running up against a saturated market and a shrinking, or at best stable demand for their products.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Oregon wine industry is of course still quite young and dynamic, with interesting projects popping up all over the place. Some of which are focused on Chardonnay. I was fortunate to have been able to sit down and taste through some mini-verticals of Chardonnay while discussing the developments with the grape in Oregon and I do believe that even in this brief span of time covered by these modest verticals improvements in the wines have been made.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Bottom line: It&rsquo;s a very exciting time to be a fan of Oregon&rsquo;s Chardonnay. These are bright wines, transparent and driven by terroir. It&rsquo;s a market segment that the new world has been lacking, and Oregon is getting ready to make some big noise here. So get on this boat before it leaves the dock. You won&rsquo;t be disappointed by the wines, and I bet you&rsquo;ll even shock the pants off some of your Anything but Chardonnay friends!</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Walter Scott</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Walter Scott Vojtilla Chardonnay Chehalem Mountains $55</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 20 yo Dijon clone .9 acre</div><br /> <div><br /> 500 liter puncheon, battonage during primary only then never touched until raking, all volcanic soil, 500 ft elevation</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Lightly obvious oak greets the nose with cedary and spicy accents to the bright apple and lemon curd fruit. The &nbsp;bright acids contribute to a fabulous mouthfeel, a little fleshy with fine orange cream orange tinged fruit laid over a pineapple base with nutty hazelnut and vanilla creme accent notes. Clean on the finish, bright and zesty with a long clementine finale. elegant and long. 93pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Walter Scott Chardonnay Cuv&eacute;e Anne Eola-Amity Hills $45</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Bieze vineyard . Shares a fence line with Seven Springs</div><br /> <div><br /> Planted eight years ago, 650 west and slightly south facing</div><br /> <div><br /> One new puncheon and three old barrique.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Slightly more oak on the nose which shows a buttery, cheesy and nutty edge. In the mouth this is a bit smooth and almost jammy with crisp yellow fruits, apple with a little banana on the plate and banana and coconut cream on the finish. With air this turns somewhat tropical , figgy, and a bit heavy on the short finish. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Walter Scott Chardonnay Cuv&eacute;e Anne Eola-Amity Hills $45</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 70% Bieze, 30 Voytilla\1/2% chaptilied with a little boytritis</div><br /> <div><br /> Picked almost a month later than 2011</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Retail price is $40</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fine oak overlay lends a spicy shen to the reticent nose. This is quite focused in the mouth, sharing some of the figgy character of the 2012 but with much finer balance. Elegant and transparency on the palate, with pithy citrus and fresh apple fruit and nice cut on the finish, even a little Chablis like character on the finish, with good drive and lift on the finale and juicy finishing acids. Nice transparency with surprisingly weight and good spicy length. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Brittan</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Brittan Vineyards Chardonnay Willamette Valley $40</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 40% Clone 108, which doesn&#39;t exist, is actually a selection of clones 4 and 5</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 100% bf, 45% new</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Very perfumed and leesy on the nose with wood spice,a bit of minerally dusty notes, with plenty of ripe apple and peach fruit, with hints of toasted almonds all coming together quite intensely. This is bright, ripe and full in a rather flamboyant style with lots of pineapple peel, sweet orchard fruit, hints of powdered sugar, and orangy, almost grapefruity acids through the finish. There&rsquo;s a fair amount of weight here on the palate and good length to the focused, snappy finish. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2007 Winderlea Chardonnay Willamette Valley $NA</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Lovely waxy coconut tinged aromas greet the nose, along with hints of creamy green fruit, and a nice touch of floral perfume. Fairly oaky with hints of caramel on entry with good weight, fresh and transparent in style, if &nbsp;bit simple. there&rsquo;s a little toasty oak on the finish, along with more orangy acids as this wraps up in a simple, elegant finale. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Brick House</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Harvest by ph</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 12 3.25</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 2011 3.15</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 2010 3.2</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Complete malo in barrel</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Brick House Cascadia Chardonnay Willamette Valley $35</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Significantly more new wood</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit funky and decidedly mineral one the nose with white peppery and sweet oaks spice accenting the base of slightly white floral notes with tropical fruit peels. Elegant and broad in the mouth with some stuffing to it, but this is very soft on the plate considering the weight, though it turns clean, fresh, and precise on the long finish. This needs some time for the oak to integrate and the wine to come into balance. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Brick House Cascadia Chardonnay Willamette Valley $35</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> almost no new wood</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Funky lees notes lend an earthy cast to the unusually violet tinged nose. Very bright and precise in the mouth &nbsp;with hints of peachy fruit and dusty chalkiness. There are lots of subtle funky undertones here, with great freshness in the mouth, clean and long with brilliant fruit and fine minerality on the long, elegant and refined finish, Chablis like, vibrant and energetic in the mouth. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Brick House Cascadia Chardonnay Willamette Valley $35</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 5% &nbsp;new wood</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Even more earthy and funky on the nose with aromas of peanuts layered with floral notes, lots of earthy, leathery funky notes, and dried orange peel. This is round and clear on the palate, delicate with some textural interest, good length, with some pebbles on the finish and a bit of apple fruit. It&rsquo;s a beautiful wine, ripe and delicate, but will not call much attention to itself. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Bergstrom</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Organic</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Bergstrom Chardonnay Sigrid Willamette Valley $85</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Subtle nose with nice oak shadings with hints of smoky oak along with a bit of dried fruit. Big wine, wow there&#39;s power here, great supporting acids, lovely texture with a bit of figgy richness on the backend of the palate with peachy and Asian pear fruit. This is showing fine length, elegant with a bit of wood sweetness, and a little bit of nut brittle on entry and through the finish. This needs some time to fully harmonize but should be wonderful. 93pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Bergstrom Chardonnay Sigrid Willamette Valley $85</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Very figgy nose with wood spice, &nbsp;dried fruit, dried herbal notes, and deep slightly compote and mineral accented fruit wrapped in a fine gauze of oak and corn husk. Broad and clear with great acids and nice brightness in the mouth, this shows lovely nuance on the palate with great fruit, lots of perfumy oak on the backend, green apple fruit, lots of power on the midpalate, and then this feathers out on the moderately long finish. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2007 Bergstrom Chardonnay Sigrid Willamette Valley $85&nbsp;</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> out of magnum</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight and stony on the nose with hints of corn and white pepper, along with background notes of smoke, dried earth and dried pear and peach fruit. Remarkably fresh it mouth, delicate and detailed with lovely golden raspberry fruit early on the palate. This is texturally seamless,with lovely length on the detailed, almost flinty sulfur mineral notes on the finale. Just so clear in the mouth and a joy to drink. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Alexana Chardonnay Willamette Valley $35</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 40% in new FO for ten months</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Lovely nose shows leesy notes with a light but obvious oak note. &nbsp;Bright acids, gorgeous lively quality in the mouth, opens up on the midpalate with delicacy and freshness, then this turns a bit simple on the finish with green apple and some unripe peach notes, though there is nice acid drive on the moderately long finish that drops off a touch on the finale which shows a hint of wood tannin. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Stoller Chardonnay Reserve Dundee Hills $35</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Ripe on the nose with almost honey tinged apple fruit, polleny floral notes, plenty of wood but not excessively toasty or spicy. This is very ripe, round. and fairly rich in the mouth with lovely acidity contributing brightness. There&#39;s fine textural essence on the midpalate here, firm with fine cut, then great length with perhaps a bit of heat but fine vibrant lime accented orchard fruit on the finish. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Antica Terra Aurata Chardonnay Willamette Valley $80</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Very complex mineraly, yeasty, and subtle wood aromas greet the nose. &nbsp;Bright and light on entry which shows an attractive nuance of candied almond followed by a very clear core of fruit on the palate driven by bright acidity. Perhaps a bit lean, this is quite mineral driven in the mouth with tart orchard fruit and citrus accents that take on weight on the lithe finish. A touch short at this point. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Irvine Chardonnay Ashland Oregon $32</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Peanuts, butchers wax, yellow fruit, clay and &nbsp;leesy aromas greet the nose. Lean and focused in the mouth, this is quite well structured with ripe and rich fruit that shows some honed character and warm apple tart fruit on the palate. Dusty mineral notes on the finish lend an almost a Burgundian quality to the flavor profile with the lean texture and ripe fruit flavor. A little spice on the finish but lots of patisserie and baked apple fruit dominates this wine. the nose is a bit on the savory side. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Phelps Creek Chardonnay Lynette Hood River Oregon $32</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit caramelly dried fruit and oak greets the nose which is a bit creamy and simple without much fruit, Texturly this is quite appealing, soft and flowing across the plate with enough acid to keep this lively. The fruit is delicate, with base notes that are a touch smoky then a bit lime pops on the palate before the spicy oak comes out on the finish, a little splintery and toasty. A nice wine that is a bit defined by its wood today &nbsp;but showing some attractive citrus and tart apple fruit with attractive purity and length. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5509 Wow! Is That White Bordeaux? Gregory Dal Piaz <p>There are so many great value wines right under our noses that we often miss them as we&rsquo;re scouring the shelves for something new. Some inevitably are those &lsquo;old&rsquo; wines that we just dismiss out of hand for various reasons. Take white Bordeaux for example, easy to dismiss, but what a mistake that might be. There are many lovely examples out there under $12 a bottle that perform exactly as one might hope a value white to perform. Crisp, fresh, easy to drink, modestly complex. These are terrific wines and they are poised for a renaissance, though not without obstacles that must be dealt with!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> During a recent virtual tasting, of Vouvray though that is not terribly important, a participant raised an interesting point. While discussing the issues facing Vouvray, it was proposed that perhaps the new world&rsquo;s preference for varietally labelled wines played some role in the continued struggles for widespread acceptance that some of the wines of Europe face. While that was discounted to a large degree for Vouvray for various reasons, I can&rsquo;t say the same for white Bordeaux.<br /> How else can you explain away the glaring disconnect between the values the best of these examples offer and their relatively lack of popularity in the US market?<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> If you want evidence that I&rsquo;m not alone here you have to look no further than the labels of these wines themselves, many offering up Sauvignon, Cuvee Sauvignon, or in the case of the top wine today 100% Semillon right there on the label. Still, there is a bit of schizophrenia here, seeing as the varietal label continues to play a distant second fiddle to the moniker Bordeaux. All powerful, and deeply imbued with perceived cache, particularly in France, it is proving very difficult indeed for producers to make the full transition to simply varietally labelling these wines, which at this modest price point might prove to be a better long term strategy than continuing to march ahead under the Bordeaux banner.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> But that&rsquo;s for the Bordelaise to figure out. We just have to try the wines to see how much fun they are. Typically a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, which adds some waxy fruit notes and richness to the bright, crisp Sauvignon Blanc as it manifests itself in Bordeaux, one might also find a dollop of Muscadelle in a blend, or varietally bottled Sauvignon or Semillon all presented as White Bordeaux.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Historically aged, as most wines were, in wood, this new group of inexpensive white Bordeaux eschews wood ageing entirely, or ages just a part of the blend in neutral wood to add some softness to their finished wines. Chasing the newer style of Sauvignon Blanc, one that is fresh and fruit driven, Bordeaux has essentially revamped their white wines to better compete on the world market, but one thing that they have been unable to change is the simple way the wines are. They are crisp, and cool, decidedly less fruity that many new world interpretations of either Sauvignon Blanc of the admittedly rare Semillon. Herbaceous but rarely grassy, with subtle and at times delicate fruit flavors. I love the beauty and ease of these wines and find that they are particularly adaptable to pairing with food. I paired today&rsquo;s top wine, the 2012 Chateau la Perriere ($11), with Hawaiian style ribs and greek salad for dinner and it worked perfectly!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So take a look at some of these wines, and if you can&rsquo;t find my favorites, give a few a try on your own. They are certainly affordable and reflect one of the few opportunities for fabulous food whites, and subtle old world sippers at this price point. Sadly Bordeaux is overflowing with capacity, which of course keeps pricing down, but also creates a very competitive marketplace, forcing producers to continuously up their game. If you haven&rsquo;t tried white Bordeaux recently I bet you&rsquo;ll be very surprised by what you can buy for a modest sum! Wines to try and enjoy as summer barrels along towards its conclusion.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While perfect with my ribs white Bordeaux is fabulous with fish, I love it with mussels and clams in particular, but also with white meats and of course fresh veggies. They are perfect for the foods we&rsquo;re eating right now. You have no reason not to try a few bottles. More experimentation for summer 2014. Wine is all about variety, and this summer has been a doozy! Don&rsquo;t stop now. Try white Bordeaux!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> For more information on white Bordeaux check out:<strong> <a href="">White Bordeaux</a></strong><a href="">&nbsp;</a></div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Chateau la Perriere Semillon Bordeaux Blanc &nbsp;12% $11</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight on the nose with hints of apples and green herbs. Aromatically this is decidedly restrained, and in the mouth one finds a subtle wine but one that blends a fine edge of richness and bright acid support quite well. This does have quite a nice weight in the mouth, never ponderous nor dull, with waxy fruit and hints of apricot on the palate followed by a floral edge right through the pithy, orange edged finish. Very refreshing and quite a lovely value. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Chateau de Castelnau Entre-Deux-Mers Blanc 12.50% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sauvignon Blanc 40%, Semillon 40%, Muscadelle 20%</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight and waxy on the nose with subtle hints of red fruit, clay earth, and leathery dried herbs. Bright on entry, this shows some serious richness and volume in the mouth. Just a lovely mouthfeel, rich but bright delivering subtle fruit flavors that range from quince to gooseberry, white cherry and pithy sweet grapefruit. There&rsquo;s a hint of minerality here but this is a pretty fruit driven wine, if not frooty. The highlight here is that supple mouthfeel that gains a hint of astringent mouth grab on the finish making this a wonderful food wine. Terrific little bottle of wine. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Chateau Ferbos Graves Blanc &nbsp;12.50% $13</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Reticent on the nose with more of a minerally, gravelly note under aromas of dried green fruits and hint of fennel and honey. Smooth and seamless in the mouth with an herbal cast to the flavors along with a rather firm mineral spine that drives this across the plate. Not fruit driven, there is a nice array of subtle flavors here and this shows austere length on the finish. A little nectarine pit and green apple peel fruit shows up on the plate and this gains energy on the really lovely finish. Nothing fancy but I would never be embarrassed pouring this. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Chateau Capelle Bordeaux Blanc 12.50% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sauvignon blanc, 55%, Muscadelle, 25% and Semillon, 20%</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A touch smoky on the nose and stony with firm, dried fruit framed aromas of citrus. Big and fairly broad in the mouth with a nice array of stony citrus fruits and hints of pollen and honeycomb on the palate. This has both some richness in the mouth and an edge of austerity that help drive the flavorful, mineral focused and long finish. Turning a bit lean in the mouth, this nonetheless shows solidly on the nose and through the long, attractive finish. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Chateau Chauvet Sauvignon Bordeaux Blanc 12% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fruity and fresh on the nose with attractive if simple aromas of chalky and slightly smoky earth over slightly waxy orchard fruits. &nbsp;Bright on entry and driven by good acidity. this is medium bodied for White Bordeaux with slightly pithy citrus and apple flavors layered over a base of chalky earth. Very much in line with the nose with added hints of pineapple and green fruit that linger on the modest finish. Eminently drinkable. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Chateau des Roches Blanc de Sauvignon Bordeaux Blanc 12.50% $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit stinky and reduced on first pour. With air this cleans up slowly showing slightly tropical and waxy fruit aromas that are pithy and rich with lime. Soft and seamless in the mouth, this is an easy drinker that shows flashes of sophistication with good clarity on the palate and salty flavors of lemon and pineapple. It&rsquo;s fairly intense and shows good persistence on the finish, though it remains a bit simple and fruity. 86pts&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Chateau Timberlay Sauvignon Blanc - Semillon Bordeaux Blanc 13% $13 on sale, usually $17&nbsp;</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A little reduced and funky when first poured, this cleans up relatively nicely revealing a rather savory nose that shows hints of smoke, dried herbs, thyme and subtle shades of gooseberry fruit, though a hint of sulfur does persist. Focused, clean and fairly precise in the mouth, this drives across the palate with freshness and acid driven stone and white fruit flavors revealing as hint of herbaceousness that adds complexity to the backend. the finish is strong with rich fruit flavors and good energy along with a fine return of minerality. If the sulfur fully resolves this will be fine. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Chateau Charron Bordeaux Blanc &nbsp;12% $10</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Charron 80% Semillon 20% Sauvignon</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Attractively herbal on the nose with underlying hints of green apples supporting lightly spicy nettle and grass aromas all topped with a hint of lemon. Simple and fresh in the mouth with bright flavors of lemon and lime. This is supple and easy going with a hint of fleshiness on the palate, though certainly enough acidity to keep this lively through the modest, pineapple toned finish. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Roc de Sansac Bordeaux Blanc &nbsp;12.50% $10</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sauvignon 70% Semillon 30%</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight on the nose with a hint of toasty oxidation followed by lovely floral, pollen and almost honeycomb notes laid over orchard fruits. This is perfumey on the nose. &nbsp;Round and opulent, if a touch soft on entry, there are nice almost honeyed notes early on the palate, very ripe apple fruit that is tempered on the midpalate with some soft aged notes and a nice hint of mineral crunch. The finish is modest so it falls apart a bit there but this is lovely in the mouth,though I would drink this sooner rather than later. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Chateau Pilet Bordeaux Blanc &nbsp;12% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Not much going on on the nose besides some steely notes and a touch of polleny fruit, Simple, bright and lime driven in the mouth, this shows fruit that is fading in a lean, easy to drink style that finishes with a touch of dusty gravel. 80pts</div><br /> </p> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5508 Getting to Know Richard Jennings Gregory Dal Piaz <p>Wine writers are not a homogeneous lot. We come in all shapes and sizes, and styles of course. Some prefer to dwell on a single wine at a time, others are more prolific. None are more prolific than my friend Richard Jennings. A veritable tasting machine, Richard, the man behing <strong><a href=""></a>&nbsp;</strong>is constantly tasting wines and diligently recording his take on wines as varied as Salon Champagn, now featured on his site to some of the lesser known wines of Santa Barbara, a regionnear and dear to Richard.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This ongoing series of wine writer profiles has been a blast to read, and even a jaded wine writer like myself has recaptured some of the joy and the excitement that each of our interviewees possesses. Wine has been, is and will continue to be a pursuit of passion and fun, and these interviews teach us that that that is one of the threads that binds us all together.!<br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">Snooth: How did you get involved in wine?&nbsp;</strong><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> RJ: I first started drinking wine my sophomore year at Stanford, when I was at the overseas campus in Britain and we made a field trip to Florence. It was just a simple Chianti, but I loved how it worked with the meal. Then in my senior year at Stanford, I lived in the French Theme House. We had a French chef &nbsp;there, Babette, and wine with dinner every night. I quickly got used to that&mdash;it seemed like a very civilized way to live. That same year I made my first visit to Napa wine country. I didn&rsquo;t get heavily into European wine, though, until 2000, when I started regularly tasting at a wine store in Glendale, California (Red Carpet), that featured two or three flights every weekend including library wines. Some of the older Bordeaux, Burgundies, Baroli and Sauternes they served amazed me for their complexity and layers of flavor. After that I was really hooked, and started taking classes and reading dozens of books on wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">Snooth: How did you get involved in wine writing?</strong></div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">&nbsp;</strong><br /> <div><br /> RJ: I started writing about wine in 2003, penning tasting notes and summaries of tastings of older wines. I wrote mainly to try to make sense of these experiences and as a way to summarize my research regarding the producers. I started putting these reports up on the Squires Board on, and got a bit of a following there. I also started to attend large scale events, like the annual UGC Bordeaux tasting, and to write those up. I ultimately became the most prolific tasting note writer on CellarTracker by 2007 or so, and put reports up on most tastings I attended there. I launched my blog,, in April 2010, mainly because I had an idea for a wine book and knew you needed a blog and other means of publicizing such projects. The blog started taking on a life of its own, though, when it was a finalist for Best Writing and Best Overall Blog at the 2011 Wine Blog Awards, and when the blog posts for a more general audience I was doing for Palo Alto Patch got picked up by Huffington Post on a weekly basis.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 
<strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">Snooth:Do you have any professional background in wine?</strong></div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">&nbsp;</strong><br /> <div><br /> RJ: I have not gone for a professional certification, but I have attended lots of classes, do several focused tastings a week and have read extensively (I am now writing wine book reviews for the New York Journal of Books). I have participated in lots of blindtastings and WSET practice tests with friends studying for certification, and find that I do as well or better than buddies who are going for those certifications. I have traveled to wine country around the globe, and learn a tremendous amount on those trips. I think I have developed a lot of expertise on regions I&rsquo;ve visited and written regularly about, like Champagne, Rioja and Madeira, as well as Santa Barbara, Sonoma and Napa. As a lawyer, I learned to become a quick study on a particular area&mdash;by knowing how to focus and analyze. If I was a couple decades younger, I think I would go for an MW, but at this point I don&rsquo;t think it would serve to improve my writing more than the intensive study and tasting I already do.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">Snooth:What is your favorite wine region and why?</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> RJ: Ouch! It is truly painful to have to choose among so many fabulous wine regions. The world is blessed with many sites that not only make wonderful wines, but that are also spectacularly scenic and steeped in fascinating history. I&rsquo;m talking about places like the Douro, Piedmont, South Africa, Rioja, the island of Madeira, Corsica, and many more. How can you pick only one?</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> As a critic, however, I am regularly called upon to set some criteria and pick a top choice. That&rsquo;s the nature of the job. So if I have to pick only one favorite wine region it has to be Champagne. Not only is it full of history, but the past decades have seen it leading other regions in refining and constantly improving what they do. There is, of course, a strong drive for higher quality and improvements in viticulture and winemaking throughout the world. Nonetheless, it is hard to think of any wine region where this has been more of a constant drive since 1950, and where the financial benefits of such a laser focus on quality have been better demonstrated than in Champagne. The average quality now is quite high, and the best wines are truly amazing and delightful--arguably among the world&#39;s greatest. It&rsquo;s also a tremendously fun place to visit.</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">Snooth: Desert Island wine? You have to drink it for the rest of your life so let us know why this is your choice.</strong></div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">&nbsp;</strong><br /> <div><br /> RJ: I&rsquo;m tempted again to go for Champagne&mdash;maybe Krug Grand Cuvee on tap? On a desert island, though, I think you have to worry about storage and getting a proper chill if fine Champagne is going to be your house beverage. Assuming, then, that we&rsquo;re really talking desert island conditions, how could I go with anything other than vintage Madeira? It lasts forever, is very forgiving of storage conditions, and would help warm one up on those chilly desert island nights.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I&rsquo;ve rated a few vintage Madeiras at 100 points, but there exist only, maybe, two or three bottles still of those in the world. So being practical yet again, I&rsquo;m going for something I know the D&rsquo;Oliveiras family&mdash;the greatest vintage Madeira producers remaining in business on the island&mdash;still have a decent sized cask of, enough to get me through my remaining life expectancy on the island. (For more on the great D&#39;Oliveiras&#39; Madeiras, see <strong><a href="">here</a></strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Since you want to keep great vintage Madeira in cask for as long as possible, so it continues to slowly evaporate and concentrate in the amazing way these fabulous wines do, no need for them to bottle it up for me. We can just arrange to have the D&rsquo;Oliveirases airlift this cask directly to my new island home:</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>1875 D&#39;Oliveiras Madeira Malvazia Reserva</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Very dark brown color with yellow green meniscus; nutty, dry molasses, baked orange, crepe suzette, almond and walnut oil nose; unctuous, buttery textured, rich ginger cake, deep toffee, tart orange honey palate with gorgeous orange acidity; very long finish 98+ pts.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">Snooth: Would you characterize your palate as new world, old world, or something in between? Why?</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">&nbsp;</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> RJ: I&rsquo;m a lover of old world wines, but very much appreciate what&rsquo;s going on in the new world too. I think these distinctions are increasingly outmoded. I embrace old, new and in between, as long as the wines are made with serious intent, and especially if they display character and a sense of place.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">Snooth: What do you think of wine writing today? What do you like about it and what would you like to change?</strong></div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">&nbsp;</strong><br /> <div><br /> RJ: I think it&rsquo;s the best time ever for wine writing, because there are more people, with a variety of perspectives doing it, and more places to find it, than ever before. Because there&rsquo;s a lot of it, of course, there&rsquo;s a lot of uninformative, and even erroneous, stuff out there too. One needs to choose and sample carefully.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I like wine writing that is informed by science, e.g., the kinds of things Jamie Goode writes, that can help me to better understand how great wine gets that way. I also like well researched pieces that give me a better perspective on the history of a particular producer or region. Hmmm, I write that sort of thing. ;-)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">Snooth: What wine do you look forward to trying each year?</strong></div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">&nbsp;</strong><br /> <div><br /> RJ: This question by its wording rules out the vintage Champagnes I love that are not made in every year. Ditto the great sweet wines and fortified wines, like vintage Ports, that are not made in each year.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There are lots of great Burgundies, Bordeaux and Italian wines I look forward to trying each year. If I have to settle on one wine, though, it has to be a wine that is both a local favorite, from my home wine region of Santa Cruz Mountains, as well as one of California&rsquo;s most admired, collectible and relatively affordable Bordeaux blends: Ridge Monte Bello.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The first vintage of this classic California meritage was 1962, which was also the first vintage for Ridge, the partnership of Stanford University engineering school faculty members led by David Bennion that purchased the long abandoned vineyards at Monte Bello in 1960. That first Ridge Monte Bello was based on vineyards first planted on a mountain overlooking Silicon Valley back in 1886, with a major replanting of eight acres of Cabernet Sauvignon in 1949. Paul Draper became the winemaker in 1969, and it was his 1971 vintage Monte Bello that came in fifth in the famous Judgment of Paris tasting in 1976.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Because I live fairly close and am a Monte Bello collector, I get to attend the twice yearly tastings Ridge offers collectors to sample the newest vintage&mdash;first as an initial assemblage from the Bordeaux varieties grown at Monte Bello, where one gets to taste each of the components too (e.g., there is little Petit Verdot grown there, and I often wish it could be bottled on its own, it is so delicious; ditto the Cabernet Franc). The second tasting is of the final assemblage, which usually includes an opportunity to check in on a couple of older vintages of this grand California wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Monte Bellos typically require 10 years or more in bottle before they really enter their ideal, long drinking window. One of the curious things about these excellent Bordeaux blends is the predominance of American oak&ndash;100% in most of the early vintages, with small percentages of French oak in later vintages. The sweet, often dill-flavored, nature of American oak is typically evident in these wines, but with age it is certainly integrated, and becomes part of the overall signature of Monte Bello. Paul Draper has been quoted as saying that if all French oak was used, with the relatively high acid, Bordeaux-style grapes that make up the blend, the wine would simply be an imitation of Bordeaux and not the inimitable &ldquo;wine of place&rdquo; that it has become. I have to agree with Paul, one of California&rsquo;s most beloved and admired winemakers.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I wrote about a vertical tasting of Ridge Monte Bellos, representing vintages from 1977 to 2010, <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">
Snooth: What wine do you just not seem to like? Why?</strong></div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">&nbsp;</strong><br /> <div><br /> RJ: I can&rsquo;t really enjoy wines that are flabby&mdash;i.e., lacking a minimum level of natural acidity. Other than that, I find something to like about wines made from virtually every variety, and blend, if they are well made. I have to admit it took me awhile to find Pinotages and Cinsaults I could admire, but I ultimately found some good examples of those too.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Oh, and industrially made, generic red blends, of the sort I had to taste through several flights of as a judge for the California State Fair in Sacramento this year, definitely make me question why I would ever volunteer for judging duty again. Life is too short! (Okay, so there is the camaraderie of one&rsquo;s fellow judges, usually longtime winemakers, wine publicists and fellow writers. Tasting cheap, industrially produced generic red wines is a grueling chore though.)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">Snooth: Recommend three wines, a red, a white, and a rose that will tell our audience the most about your palate, your likes, and your dislikes and please share a few of those likes and dislikes.</strong></div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 14px; color:maroon">&nbsp;</strong><br /> <div><br /> RJ: The wines that excite me most are those that are distinctive and characterful. This can manifest in various ways&mdash;including beguiling textures and complex, haunting flavors that somehow take one back to various life experiences. These are the wines that draw one in to conversation with them. I plan to increasingly focus on which wines those are on my blog in the coming years, so as to draw even more attention to these beauties, and what makes them that way.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> My dislikes are mainly mass production wines, of the kind most typically found on supermarket shelves. Please stop buying wine in supermarkets, dear Readers! Specialty wine stores exist to hand select interesting wines and to help consumers identify those that should particularly suit their needs. That&rsquo;s where you&rsquo;ll find wines that will commence, or deepen, your love affair with wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> It&rsquo;s very tough to have to offer only three wines that illustrate my palate (I&rsquo;d like to think it&rsquo;s nearly as complex as the wines I most enjoy). Nonetheless, I can happily offer the following three:</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Ros&eacute; </strong>&ndash; I believe I&rsquo;ve written before for Snooth about my yearly go-to ros&eacute;, the magnificent and delicate blend of equal parts Pinot Noir and Grolleau made by Loire great Francois Chidaine, his Touraine Ros&eacute;. So I won&rsquo;t repeat that here. Instead, a California ros&eacute; from Paso Robles, of all places, made by a French winemaker, struck me for its resemblance to some of the more delicate and flavorful ros&eacute;s of the Loire and Provence. Clos Sol&egrave;ne is a project of Guillaume Fabre and his lovely wife, Sol&egrave;ne. Guillaume comes from a Languedoc winemaking family. He&#39;s also assistant winemaker for Paso&#39;s L&#39;Aventure. I wrote about the Guillaume and Clos Sol&egrave;ne <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a>:&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <br /><br /> Here&#39;s my note on the 2012 Clos Sol&egrave;ne La Ros&eacute;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Bright light pink color with 1.5 millimeter clear meniscus; very appealing, tart strawberry, very light berry nose; tasty, juicy, light, bright, tart cranberry, mineral palate with good acidity; medium-plus finish (saignee bleed off each variety then co-fermented in stainless steel for 2 months; 14.5% alcohol) 93 points</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> White &ndash; How about an unusual grape, from a region not associated with the grape, from one of Austria&#39;s most creative winemakers, the flamboyant Heidi Schr&ouml;ck? You put that all together and, since it&#39;s Heidi, you have a wine of character. It&#39;s her <strong>2012 Furmint</strong>. Here&#39;s my note:</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Light yellow color; aromatic, sweet green herb, tart green fruit nose; lightly oily textured, lime, almond oil palate with character; long finish 92+ points</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Red &ndash; For this category, I&#39;m going to give you a wine of character, grown in volcanic soils in Southern Italy, that&#39;s also a pretty extraordinary value at about $30 given its complexity and ability to carry on a conversation. I wrote about it and similar characterful wines in the Oliver McCrum portfolio <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>2008 Grifalco di Lucania Aglianico del Vulture Damaschito</strong> &ndash; Italy, Basilicata, Aglianico del Vulture<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Very dark red violet color; evocative, mineral, dried berry, iron, tar nose; tasty, characterful, tight, dried berry, tar, licorice, anise palate; could use 2-3 years; long finish (extraordinary value at $30) 94 points<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Richard Jennings is ever in search of reasonably priced wines of character.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> His blog is, and he&#39;s a finalist for best wine blog post at this year&#39;s upcoming Wine Blog Awards. He also writes regularly for Huffington Post, and is the most prolific tasting note writer on</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5505