Wines We’ve Loved in May!

Our Favorite Wine Writers Share Their Picks


It is that time again. Time to check in with our favorite authors and see what they’ve been loving this past month. This months line-up includes:

  • 2009 Livio Felluga Vertigo 
  • 2012 Brooks Ara Riesling Willamette Valley 
  • 2010 Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc
  • 2013 Domaine de Fontsainte “Gris de Gris” Rosé
  • 2012 Carlisle Kirschenmann Vineyard Zinfandel
  • 2012 The Jeremy Wine Co. Barbara
  • 2002 Salon Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs
  • 2011 Varner Spring Ridge Vineyard Amphitheater Block Chardonnay

Jon Thorsen

As a wine writer you might expect that I'm immune to pretty label syndrome (or maybe I just expect more of myself) but alas I still fall prey every once in a while. And every once in a while buying a wine just because you like the label works out quite well. 
When I first saw the alluring purple label on the 2009 Livio Felluga Vertigo I was instantly attracted to her. When I discovered she hailed from Italy and was priced under $20 the deal was sealed -- she must be mine. While others may scoff at her 75% Merlot, I already knew that Italian Merlot can be a beautiful thing. Still it was with a slight tinge of trepidation that I popped the cork and took my first sip. It turns out this Vertigo is dizzyingly good. 
The wine opens with pleasant aromas of blackberry, plum, violets, strawberry and a little anise. It tastes fantastic with loads of jammy blackberry fruit, excellent spice and secondary notes of cola and oak. All these delicious flavors are wrapped up in a silky smooth and lush texture. On the long, dry finish the spice comes to the forefront along with plenty more of that yummy juicy blackberry. Let the swooning commence.
Jon Thorsen


Julia Crowley

Brooks Ara Riesling Willamette Valley 2012. I recently attended a stellar Brooks Riesling media tasting at an eclectic downtown Portland hang out called Sauvage.  With the perfect backdrop of high ceilings, brick walls and wood floors, I was one lucky wine gal to be able to taste Brooks' Rieslings from vintages as far back as 2004 to some of the most current releases.  Starting with their driest Rieslings and ending with their sweetest, it was a phenomenal treat for the senses; especially, for someone like me who absolutely loves Oregon Rieslings - even more so when the name Brooks appears on the label. The 2012 Brooks Ara Riesling is a 50/50 combination of their 2012 Yamhill Vineyard (Yamhill-Carlton District) Riesling and their 2012 Brooks Estate Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA. With each bringing distinctive and unique characteristics captured from the two different terroirs, a beautifully balanced Riesling is born. Elegantly intense floral aromatics take over the senses while seamless waves of white fruits, honeysuckle, pineapple and limes flow from the front of the palate to the back, where zesty acidity rounds out the fruits and sends a zingy zip of lime up the center of the palate on the lengthy, delicious finish. 

Julia Crowley

Clifford Brown

Any time I find a wine with Cabernet Franc on the label, it will generally find a home in my cellar.  I love the grape but it is most commonly used in a Bordeaux style blend.  When allowed to fully ripen, the grape provides a savory dried herb note that helps the wine pair with a wide range of foods.  Unfortunately in a cooler vintage instead of a nice dried herb note, you can get a striking green herbal note that to some, myself included, makes for a less than enjoyable experience.  This wine provides great ripeness with no over ripe notes.
The wine is a deep maroon color.  The stunning nose has blackberries, cassis, dusty minerals, dried herbs, tobacco, violets, cedar, underbrush and baking spices.  This has medium to full body, moderate to solid tannins and very good acidity.  On the palate fruit, minerals and spices jump out first with a floral note and subtle earthiness coming in later.  The finish has very good length with a touch of cedar joining the nice lingering fruit.  This is on the young side but already showing very well.  I look forward to following the wine's evolution over the next decade.  (94 pts)
Cliff Brown


Mary Cressler

I’ve recently become smitten by a new rosé in town — this lovely little Rhone-style blend, imported by Kermit Lynch and available for around $15.  It has super clean and fresh aromas of dusty strawberry, melon, pineapple, and a bit of bright lemony citrus.  The wine has some fun tropical flavors in the mouth, with almost creamy-like texture. Smooth, fresh, clean, and downright delicious.  This is going to be a staple at my house this summer.  Great to sip alone on a warm sunny day, or pair with light appetizers, salads, salty foods, poultry, and seafood.
Mary Cressler


Dezel Quillen

Carlisle Kirschenmann Vineyard 2012 Zinfandel (SRP $34): This is a wine I had an opportunity to taste during a recent walk-through of Kirschenmann Vineyard in eastern Lodi. The vineyard’s Zinfandel plantings are head-trained, dry-farmed, self-rooted, and date back to 1915. Tegan Passalacqua, winemaker and vineyard-manager for Turley Wine Cellars, owns and farms this 19 acre vineyard. This Zinfandel flirts with elegance and finesses – it’s vibrant from start to finish, beautifully defined, and nicely nuanced, with a core of bright red fruit that’s balanced by an acid-driven structure that carries through to the textured, lingering finish. This wine is pleasing on its own but is also a flexible partner to a wide variety of foods. I recommend pairing a bottle with your next backyard barbecue! (Other info: Alcohol: 15.3%, approximately 93 cases produced, cork enclosure)

Dezel Quillen

Bill Eyer

The Jeremy Wine Co. 2012 Barbara. A fun, easy drinking wine which is uber approachable, moments after being uncorked. Tantalizing dark and red fruits, plucky tannins, the acid to fruit balance keeps things interesting, This little gem from Lodi weighs in at mere 13.8% abv, it just delightful.

Bill Eyer

Richard Jennings

Last month I luxuriated in great wines thanks to the extraordinary wine seminars at Pebble Beach Food & Wine. Those included the opportunity to taste a vertical of Chateau Latour back to 1990, Vega Sicilia Unico to 1975, and some terrific 2008 Barolos that Antonio Galloni organized for a seminar.
Out of last month’s incredible bounty, however, the single greatest wines were two of the most outstanding Champagnes I’ve ever tasted. This was during a seminar focused on the Chardonnay-based bubblies, made only in top years, from carefully selected grand cru vineyards in Le Mesnil—I’m talking about Champagne Salon. My two faves, both meriting 99 points, were the 1983 (from magnum) and the just-released 2002.
I’m included my tasting notes on both because they were equally amazing, and for those blessed with a sizeable wine budget and a taste for fine Champagne, the 2002 is now being offered at an average price of about $420 at a number of U.S. retailers. Yes, that’s ridiculously costly, but when you compare the more than $1000 price tag on top Bordeaux or Burgundies that are rarely rated this high, some might consider it a relative bargain.
2002 Salon Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs - Light lemon yellow color with abundant, speedy, tiny bubbles; very appealing, almond, autolytic, almond cream, light ginger, tart pear nose; rich, tasty, delicious, poised, pear cream, light ginger, tart pear, tart lemon, very tart lemon drop, mineral, saline palate; long finish (one of the greatest Champagnes ever, that should go 30+ years) 99 points
1983 Salon Champagne from magnum -  light medium golden yellow color with abundant, steady, tiny bubbles; aromatic, savory, coriander, saffron, autolytic, almond, sauteed mushroom nose; delicious, ethereal, weightless, lemon curd, mineral, light ginger, melted butter palate with medium acidity; very long finish 99 points
Richard Jennings


Jameson Fink

2011 Varner Spring Ridge Vineyard Amphitheater Block Chardonnay. All hail the Santa Cruz Mountains! And California Chard, which I have much love for.

Jameson Fink
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  • 1998 Gosset Champagne Celebris Rosé: I bought this a while ago, and was sitting on it for a while, not sure of the right time--pretty much the story of my life. I finally decided to pop this with some good friends, since, well, is there a better reason? Little more than a sigh upon opening, and a a pale salmon in the glass. On the nose a bit of that old champagne smell but on the palate, wow. Tons of red fruit and a finish that lasted well beyond the norm. Outstanding+.

    Jun 02, 2014 at 2:44 PM

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