Morgan: 2017 Releases from Monterey and the Santa Lucia Highlands

Morgan is one of the Santa Lucia Highlands’ finest wineries. Year in and year out, it produces high quality wines at fair prices. The winery is owned and operated by veteran winemaker Dan Lee who has been crafting wine at Morgan for more than 25 years. We first became acquainted with Dan and Morgan Winery some 15 years ago when we were preparing our Report #20 The Santa Lucia Highlands: Unique Terroir, Marvelous Wines. At that time and with every passing year that we have been reviewing Morgan wines, we have been impressed by their consistent quality, originally and steady improvement. Dan Lee and wife Donna founded Morgan in 1982, built a state-of-the-art winery in Salinas in 1984, and purchased the 65 acres Double L Vineyard in the northern Santa Lucia Highlands in 1996. Planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the Double L has been farmed organically since its founding and is certified by Monterey County Certified Organic. Dan is also recognized for the high quality of his Rhone style wines and as a pioneer in developing unoaked Chardonnay. The wines reviewed below are once again beautifully crafted and reasonably priced. Continue reading

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Boordy Vineyards: Reaching New Heights in Maryland

Boordy’s Long Green Vineyard

Boordy Vineyards, Maryland’s first modern commercial winery, was founded in 1945 by Philip Wagner,  author of the 1933 book American Wines and How to Make Them. While Wagner’s wines won praise, he became best known for his advocacy of the French-American hybrid and his nursery, which provided cuttings to growers throughout the country.  Eventually, the winery was sold to the Deford family, long time Maryland grape growers. In recent years, UC Davis trained winemaker and owner Rob Deford replanted the vineyards and constructed a new state of the art winery. We recently reviewed the Boordy Vineyard wines as part of our published report on The Wines of Maryland. Our conclusion: Rob has raised Boordy to the top echelon of East Coast wineries. Continue reading

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Di Giovanna: New Releases from Sicily

Sicily’s Di Giovanna winery has 56 hectares of organically certified vineyards spread across five different vineyard sites at relatively high elevations in the DOCs of Contessa Entellina and Sambuca di Sicilia. Two vineyards are located in the Monte Genuardo Nature Reserve at 650-830 meters altitude. The wines are made by Gianfranco Zito with the advice of the Denis Dubourdieu consulting group. The wines are modestly priced and offer exceptional value. Annual production is about 250 thousand bottles, For more on Sicilian wines, read our Report #37 The Wines of Sicily. Wine reviews follow. Continue reading

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Wines of the East Coast: Rapid Progress on Many Fronts

The wines of the East Coast are making progress on many fronts.  Noteworthy improvements in the quality of East Coast wines and their unique character are attracting growing numbers of wine enthusiasts. Today, more than ever before, consumers along the Atlantic Seaboard are interested in drinking local wines, and liberalized wine laws and regulations make it easier for them to do so. Their thirst for good wine and for learning more about the wines made in their own states is driving a dramatic growth in wine tourism and rising wine sales direct to consumers in tasting rooms and wine clubs. Continue reading

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Dutton Goldfield Spring 2019 Portfolio Review

Steve Dutton and Dan Goldfield have collaborated in making some of the Russian River’s finest wines from Dutton Ranch vineyards since 1998. The source of most of their fruit is the Dutton Ranch, owned by the Dutton Family and comprised of over 1150 acres of vines spread over 80 non-contiguous parcels, mostly in Green Valley in the southwest corner of the Russian River Valley. Steve’s father Warren was one of the Russian River Valley winegrowing pioneers. In 1967 he planted the first Chardonnay in western Sonoma in what is now known as the Home Ranch in Graton.  Steve grew up farming and today runs the vineyard management company Dutton Brothers Farming with his brother Joe. Joe also has his own winery, Dutton Estate. Continue reading

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Clarice’s New Pinot Noirs from the Santa Lucia Highlands & Flaunt’s New High Quality Brut

Clarice is a new project by veteran winemaker Adam Lee. Adam and his partner and spouse Dianna Novy who have been crafting wine since the mid-1990s.  They created the Siduri label in 1994 under which they produced first-rate Pinot Noirs from a wide variety of vineyards, primarily in Sonoma.  For a comprehensive review of Siduri wines (see our Report # 44 The Wines of Sonoma County). In early 2015, Adam and Diana sold their highly successful Siduri Wines and Novy Family Winery to Jackson Family Wines. For the next three years Adam continued making Siduri wines under his sales contract, but in 2019 he launched the Clarice project, while Diana turned to making sparkling wine under the Flaunt label.  At Adam’s invitation, we recently reviewed his new wines and the new Flaunt NV Brut. The results are summarized below. Continue reading

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Champagne Barons de Rothschild: Current Releases

With its lengthy and lofty heritage in Bordeaux, the Rothschild name conveys excellence in wine. But in Champagne where many of the houses are centuries old, it’s a relative newcomer. Although they’re new producers, the Rothschilds are not without prior connections in Champagne. They had investments in Ruinart beginning in 1945 and later with Champagne Henriot. In the 1970s a special cuvée of Ruinart carried the Baron’s name. However, their new investments for the first time put the Rothschild name on Champagne.

We recently sat down with Frédéric Mairesse, Managing Director, to taste through the Champagne Barons de Rothschild portfolio. Our reviews follow a brief account of how the Rothschild family developed its Champagne house. Continue reading

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Top Chenin Blancs from South Africa

Old Bush Vines in Darling: The Old Vine Project

Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s most widely planted grape, and it makes some of the country’s most distinguished wines, including the ones reviewed below. Many of the best ones come from old vines, some very old. Rosa Kruger, whom we interviewed in Adi Badenhorst’s vineyard for the International Wine Review YouTubechannel a couple of years ago, is the force behind the Old Vine Project that aims to preserve these old, dry farmed bush vines. Farmers can afford to maintain these very low yielding vineyards only if they receive prices commensurate with the quality of the fruit. Our reviews of South Africa’s top Chenin Blancs, most from old vines, shows these wines are the equal in quality to the best white wines made anywhere in the world and should be valued accordingly. Hopefully, consumers and commercial wineries will realize this before it’s too late. Continue reading

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Hors Catégorie: A Bit of Northern Rhone in Northern Oregon

Christophe Baron, most famous for his vineyards in The Rocks, has a new discovery, a very steeply sloped basalt hillside vineyard called Hors Catégorie located on the north fork of the Walla Walla River near the Oregon border with Washington State.  It’s a small vineyard, just 2.2 acres, planted in 2011, and already producing one of America’s most outstanding Syrahs. We toured the vineyard with Christophe, who explains the site and its challenges in his own words in this video on the International Wine Review YouTube Channel.

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Authentic Wines from Viña Gillmore of Chile’s Maule Valley

Gillmore’s Vineyard in the Maule Valley

Founded in Maule’s Loncomilla Valley in 1990 by Francisco Gillmore, today Viña Gillmore is in the hands of his winemaking daughter Daniella and husband André Sánchez, who previously made wine in Italy. They dry farm, organically grown Carignan and several other varieties in bush vines that are grafted on old Pais rootstock.  We had the opportunity to visit with Daniella and André and tour their vineyard and winery on our last visit to Chile, and we’ve tasted their wines on a regular basis. The wines are consistently well made and full of character.  Viña Gillmore is one of the founders of VIGNO (see below). See our reviews of new releases below. Continue reading

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