J Lohr Vineyards New Releases from Paso Robles, Napa & Arroyo Seco

Jerry Lohr is one of the California Central Coast’s wine pioneers. He started planting vines in the Arroyo Seco region of Monterey County in 1972 and now has 900 acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and other varieties planted there.  In 1988 he planted his first Cabernet Sauvignon at the Home Ranch in Paso Robles’ Estrella District. Today, Paso Robles is the center of J Lohr Vineyard red wine operations with 2 thousand acres of mostly Bordeaux varieties planted in several districts: Estrella, El Pomar, San Miguel, and Adelaida. See our Report #62 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon & Other Bordeaux Varieties for more on the excellent wines coming out of this region today. Continue reading

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Herdade do Rocim: New Releases from Portugal’s Alentejo

Located in the Baixo Alentejo with 70 hectares of vineyards (53 red, 17 white) and 10 ha of olives, Herdade do Rocim was founded by the late José Ribeiro Vieira. Today, his daughter Catarina Vieira and husband Pedro Ribeiro own the estate and make the wines. We visited Catarina and Herdade do Rocim on our last trip to the Alentejo. At the time we expressed the hope that the wine would soon be imported to the US, and we’re happy that Shiverick Imports obliged.  In this article, we renew our acquaintance with Herdade do Rocim and review the latest releases. Continue reading

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German Rieslings from the Mosel: SA Prüm, Willi Haag, and Dr H Thanisch

Germany’s top producers are members of the Verdand Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP), an association of 200 quality-oriented vintners. We recently had the opportunity to taste the Riesling wines from three VDP members, all with steeply sloped (up to 60°) vineyards overlooking the Mosel with slate soils eroded by the Mosel over the millenia. The wines come from several vintages, including the frost and rain damaged 2017, which resulted in low yields but good quality for those who did thorough sorting, the outstanding 2015, the wet and difficult 2014, the normal 2012, and the challenging 2010. Continue reading

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Morgan Winery: New 2016-2017 Releases from the Santa Lucia Highlands and Monterey

These are some new stunning releases from Morgan Winery in the Santa Lucia Highlands.   Owner and winemaker  Dan Lee is one of the finest winemakers in the AVA, and we have been big fans of his wines for many years.  We first became acquainted with Dan and Morgan Winery 10 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.

Like most of the winemakers in the Highlands, Dan Lee also grows and purchases grapes from other parts of Monterey County.  He  is also experimental by nature and works with unusual grape varieties for California such as the Portuguese Verdelho, Touriga Nacional, and Touriga Franca varietals. These wines are available under Morgan’s sister label, Lee Family Farm.

The wines reviewed here are among Morgan’s finest  wines.  They exhibit high quality fruit, outstanding winemaking, and are exceedingly pleasant to drink. Readers will want to try several of Morgan’s  single variety wines of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah and Rhone style blends.

Wine Reviews and Ratings

Morgan 2017 Albariño Monterey ($2288  This Albariño has a fresh herbal nose and a sweet fruit attack followed by a palate marked by bright acidity. Stylistically it is more tart than tropical like the expressive fruit of Spanish Albariño. Easy drinking.

Morgan 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Monterey ($18) 89  Light straw, this Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of classic Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Musqué, and Semillon. If offers lovely aromas of citrus and apple not unlike a Bordelais white. Aged 5 months in French oak, it is rather soft in the mouth with medium acidity and freshness and a persistent finish.

Morgan 2017 Grenache Blanc Monterey ($22) 90   The Grenache Blanc displays a nice floral character to the nose and rich orchard fruit with light tropical fruit notes on the palate. Aged 5 months in French and Hungarian oak, it is a delicious wine, fruit forward, easy drinking, and nicely balanced with good acidity and freshness on the finish. It’s true to its varietal character!

Morgan 2015 Metallico Unoaked Chardonnay Monterey ($22) 91  Morgan’s Metallico is among the finest unoaked Chardonnay’s produced in California. It displays pure Chardonnay fruit flavors without an overlay of oak or malolactic fermentation. Aged 5 months in stainless steel, it offers ripe orchard fruit with crisp acidity and freshness with a zesty finish.

Morgan 2016 Highland Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands ($28) 91   The 2016 Highland Chardonnay is a flavorful blend of grapes from Morgan’s Double L Vineyard and neighboring vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. It display aromas of ripe tropical fruit and toasted oak with medium acidity and a long finish.

Morgan 2016 Chardonnay Double L Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands ($42) 92   The Chardonnay Double L Vineyard displays a flinty, honeyed nose with hints of honeysuckle and toasted oak. Aged 15 months in French oak, 15% new, it is richly flavored with a creaminess and hints of hazelnut and rich fruit. It has good acidity and balance and a persistent finish.

Morgan 2017 Rosé of Grenache Arroyo Seco ($22) 88  Pink in color, the Rosé of Grenache offers a fruity nose of fresh strawberry. It is ripe on the palate with medium acidity and good persistence. A pleasant quaffing wine.

Morgan 2016 Cotes du Crow’s Monterey ($18) 89 An attractive Rhone-style blend of 52% Syrah, 44% Grenache and 4% Tempranillo, the Cotes du Crow’s exhibits purity of brambly black cherry fruit flavors on the attack. Aged 10 months in French oak, 15% new, it reveals nicely integrated oak and fruit on the palate with good concentration. A very drinkable wine, although it shows the tannic grip of youth.   

Morgan 2016 Pinot Noir Twelve Clones Santa Lucia Highlands ($35) 90   Sourced from among the finest vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands, the Pinot Noir Twelve Clones offers ripe dark cherry fruit with considerable purity and hints of toasted oak. It is soft and round in the mouth with good balance, finesse, depth of flavor and a persistent finish.

Morgan 2016 Pinot Noir Double L Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands ($64) 92  The Pinot Noir Double L exhibits a rich cherry nose and hints of vanilla oak. It is soft and round in the mouth with excellent purity of flavor and depth. It exhibits more precision, and refinement than the 12 Clones and has a lovely persistent finish.

Morgan 2016 Syrah G17 Santa Lucia Highlands ($24) 91  The Syrah G17 consists of 88% Syrah blended with 8% Grenache and a dollop of Tempranillo. Rhone-style in character, it is ruby red in color, and offers pleasant aromas of dark red berry fruit, blackberries and smoked meat. It is nicely balanced with good density of flavor and a long finish.

Morgan 2016 Tempranillo Arroyo Seco ($22) 88 This Tempranillo displays aromas of black cherry and black raspberry.  It is fruit forward in character, very aromatic and pleasant to drink.  It also is nicely balanced with good acidity and freshness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quady North: Serious Rosé from Oregon

Perhaps no American winemaker takes rosé as seriously as Herb Quady. Formerly a winemaker at Boony Doon Vineyards, he moved to Southern Oregon in 2003 to help pioneer winemaking there.  He and his father (owner of California’s Quady Winery) purchased 100 acres in 2005 and began planting. We remember tasting the 2006 maiden vintage (made from purchased grapes) of Quady North, which we reviewed a decade ago.  Our reviews of the 2017 Quady North rosés follow at the end of this article.  Look for our Report #66 The World of Rosé, coming soon. And check out our earlier rosé articles on our web site, including last year’s article focused on rosé of Pinot Noir.  Continue reading

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Galicia’s Quinta da Muradella: Authentic Wines from Monterrei

José Luis Mateo is one of Spain’s very special winemakers. He crafts authentic wines from unique terroir in Galicia using indigenous varieties, including ones he has discovered and rescued from abandoned mountain vineyards. He is one of those rarities in the winemaking world, a pioneering spirit always experimenting with ways to improve his vineyards and his wines and concerned about reuperating his region’s vinous past. We recently met with José Luis to taste his Quinta da Muradella wines and learn more about him and the exciting Monterrei wine region. Continue reading

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Hermanos Hernáiz La Emperatriz Wines from Rioja Alta

In 1996 the Hernáiz family purchased part of the former estate of Spanish-born Eugénie de Montijo, Empress of France and wife of Napoleon III. The estate is located on one of the highest plateaus in the Rioja Alta, including its 101 ha vineyard. In addition to its high, 570m altitude, the vineyard has extremely rocky, nutrient-poor soils and parcels of 45-65 year old Viura, Garnacha and Tempranillo bush vines. Continue reading

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Worth Another Glass? How reliable are the wine reviews in Gambero Rosso’s annual Vini d’Italia Guide?


Publisher’s Note: In this provocative article Joel Butler, one of the International Wine Review’s Contributing Editors,  assesses the validity of the Gambero Rosso’s  methodology and evaluations by conducting his own tastings of the Guide’s 3 Bicchieri wines at a comprehensive tasting held in San Francisco earlier this year. In addition to providing his tasting notes on the wines, Joel reflects on the validity of its methodology. As we expected, Joel concluded that Gambero Rosso does an excellent job overall, notwithstanding some differences with the GR’s evaluations of particular wines.  Moreover, he believes that GR’s evaluations offer a credible alternative to the unfortunate “grade creep” of many of today’s publications that evaluate Italian wines.The International Wine Review share’s Joel’s assessment of Gambero Rosso.  Indeed, we have had few differences with its wine evaluations in the many reports we have prepared on Italian wines over the years.  Readers will find these reports listed on the i-winereview website.   You may also enjoy reading the article we wrote recently about our meeting with one of the founding fathers of Gambero Rosso, Danielle Cernilli. Continue reading

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Traditional Bulgarian Cuisine

Dinner table arrangement of delectable Bulgarian dishes.

This article is excerpted from the IWR’s forthcoming report The New Wines of Bulgaria. We are indebted to  Silvena  Johan Lauta’s excellent book Romanian & Bulgarian Food and Cooking Arness Publishing LTD 2010 and Alexander Markoff’s Amazing Bulgarian Cuisine-Traditional Recipes 2014 and to the fabulous restaurants in Sofia and elsewhere in Bulgaria where we enjoyed remarkable food and wine.

            Traditional Bulgarian cuisine is diverse, wholesome, and fresh.   It is distinct although it encompasses many facets of Turkish and Greek culinary practices. The Turkish influence is especially strong as Turkey ruled Bulgaria for nearly 500 years from the late 14th century. Serbian, Slavic and Balkan elements are also present in Bulgarian cuisine as are food from the New World such as potatoes and aubergines. Current day Bulgarian cuisine includes many traditional Bulgarian recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. Other European foods such as pasta, mayonnaise and cream have also gained popularity. Meat consumption in Bulgaria is reputed to be lower than the European average, given a notable preference for a large variety of salads.

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Freeman Winery’s 2015-2016 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Releases from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast

Last week, we met with Ken Freeman, proprietor with his wife Akiko of Freeman Vineyard & Winery, to taste through his new Chardonnay and Pinot Noir releases from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. Ken and Akiko launched the winery in 2001 and today produce some 6 thousand cases of first-class Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  The Freemans source grapes from their Gloria Estate Vineyard, Yuk-ki Estate Vineyard and top neighboring vineyards in Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast.  Akiko serves as winemaker, having acquired her knowledge of viticulture and winemaking by apprenticing with veteran winemaker Ed Kurtzman who now serves as consulting winemaker. Continue reading

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