Aniello: New Releases from Patagonia

Aniello is a family winery in the Mainque District of the Upper Rio Negro Valley in Argentina’s Patagonia region.  Its wines are cool climate in their freshness and minerality. They taste like nothing else from Argentina, and they’re very reasonably priced. We review three of the Aniello wines below. Continue reading

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

Margerum: New Releases from Santa Barbara

Margerum Wine Company is owned and operated by Doug Margerum, one of Santa Barbara’s leading winemaking entrepreneurs. It produces small quantities of premium wines made from estate-grown and purchased grapes from top neighboring vineyards. We visited Doug at the winery in Buellton and tasted his full range of current releases earlier this year.    This review focuses on two recent and popular new releases. Continue reading

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Chile’s Echeverria: Natural Wine and Much More

 

Echeverria has joined the “natural” wine band wagon and judging by the 2019 Viogner and Cabernet Franc that we tasted, they’re among the leaders in Chile. Echeverria offers wines to suit everyone’s tastes, ranging from natural wines to the very impressive, rich and concentrated Signatura 1 Syrah.  The Signatura 1 shows what high quality wine this producer is capable of making. And the new “natural” wines, which have the unusual label “No Es Pituko!”, are clean and well made. The other wines are best categorized as being easy drinking wines. They have attractive flavors, medium depth, and soft and round tannins.  They’re flavorful and great wines to sip in front of the fireplace or at the pool, depending on the season. The wines come from predominantly ungrafted, selected clones of pre-phylloxera French rootstock in their 80 ha vineyard, which the family established in the outskirts of Molina in 1923. All the fruit is hand picked.  Roberto Echeverria Jr is the chief winemaker.  For a comprehensive look at Chile and its wines, see our report Chile’s Premium Wine Revolution. Continue reading

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Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Chile, Countries and Regions, Pinot Noir, Red Wine, Uncategorized, White Wine, Wine Type | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Karamoor Estate of Pennsylvania: Excellence Across the Vintages

Nick and Athena Karabots decided to transform their 250 acre Ft Washington estate into vineyards beginning in 2003 and ending in 2013. The estate’s 27 acres of high density (1600-2000 vines/acre) vineyards were planted with the advice of Lucie Morton.  Joe Rienzi is vineyard manager, and Kevin Robinson is the winemaker. Kevin is a UC Davis graduate who was head winemaker at Rutherford Hill and other California wineries before joining Karamoor in 2011. Read more about Karamoor and other Pennsylvania wineries in our recently published Report # 74: THE WINES OF PENNSYLVANIA.

The Karamoor wines reviewed here are of excellent quality, confirming once again that East Coast wineries can produce red wines that exhibit ripe fruit flavors, good concentration and finesse with a hint of earthiness and low alcohol levels.  All three reds are first-class. Continue reading

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The Wines of Babylon’s Peak in South Africa’s Swartland

Babylon’s Peak

Located in the Swartland not far from the wineries of Eben Sadie and Adi Badenhorst, Babylon’s Peak has been in the Basson family since 1919. Its most remarkable feature, aside from deeply rutted roads and a profusion of wildlife, is the Peak itself, an ancient solid granite dome surrounded by old bush vine vineyards of Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, Carignan and other varieties.  The farm made and sold wine by the barrel until 1948 when the Swartland cooperative was formed, after which the fruit was sold to the coop and, later, to Distell. But when Stephan Basson returned to the family farm in 2003 he decided the family should start making and selling wine from some of its best fruit. He now makes about 20 thousand cases sold under the Babylon’s Peak brand, which we tasted at the winery. Our tasting notes follow. Continue reading

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Posted in Countries and Regions, Red Wine, Shiraz, South Africa, Uncategorized, White Wine, Wine Type | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Wines of Lawer Estates of Knights Valley

Lawer Estates is a Calistoga-based winery owned and operated by David and Betsy Lawer.   Originally from Alaska, the Lawers launched their operation in 2003.   With their extended family and the help of an experienced team of vineyard managers and winemakers,  they developed Lawer Estates into a winery producing  small quantities of excellent premium wine. Continue reading

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

Bodega Marichal of Canelones, Uruguay: Current Releases

Bodega Marichal was one of the first wineries we visited on our recent trip to Uruguay.  Winemaker Juan Andrés showed us the wines and discussed the evolution of Tannat in Uruguay in recent years. His Tannat wines show the incredible progress made in softening this grape’s ferocious tannins by harvesting phenolically ripe fruit and then fermenting shorter times in temperature controlled vessels and aging in oak. We’ve always been very favorably impressed with Juan’s wines; reviews of the latest releases can be found below. Continue reading

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The New Muscadine Wines of North Carolina’s Cypress Bend

Dan and Tina Smith have cultivated 35 acres of muscadine cultivars (Carlos, Noble and Magnolia) near Wagram for several years. In 2005 they opened the doors of their winery to the public with the goal to produce modern, dry table wines from muscadine cultivars. Continue reading

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The Outstanding Low Dosage Champagnes of JM Sélèque

Founded in 1965 by Henri Sélèque in Pierry, a Premier Cru village in the Coteaux Sud d’Epernay in the Vallée de la Marne, today JM Sélèque is one of the top producers of grower Champagne (récoltant-manipulant). Champagne in Pierry dates from the late 17th century when the Benedictine monk Jean Oudart gained fame for his sparkling wines. Today, Pierry is known for its Meunier, which represents half the total plantings of the village. We tasted a selection of JM Sélèque wines while preparing our upcoming report on Champagne. See the tasting notes below.

Jean-Marc Sélèque

Henri’s son Richard began making his own Champagne in the 1970s. Henri’s grandson Jean-Marc Sélèque has put his mark on this winery since returning from an internship at Chandon in Napa in 2008.  His changes in the winery include gentler pressing (PAI Coquard), cooler fermentations, longer aging on the lees and more (40%) aging in oak (increasingly larger format), less malo, minimal fining, reduced SO2 and lower dosage.  In the vineyard, he began farming organically and, since 2010, biodynamically. The domaine has 9 ha of vines in 45 parcels across 7 villages with an average age of 40 years, including several highly regarded vineyards (lieux-dits) like Les Gouttes d’Or, planted in 1951.  Reserve wines are aged in a single, 20 hl oak fondre. Continue reading

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Hawk and Horse Selections from Lake County

Hawk and Horse is a family-owned and operated, certified biodynamic vineyard located in the Mayacamas Mountain range of the Red Hills AVA of Lake County.  Red Hills is one of the six sub-appellations of Lake County. The 18 acre, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard has red volcanic soils and straddles elevations from 1800 to 2200 feet with slopes of 15% to 85%.  It has been Demeter-Biodynamic certified since 2008 and California Certified Organic since 2004. A herd of Scottish Highland cattle provides materials for some of the biodynamic farming protocols. Continue reading

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Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, California, Dessert Wine, Fortified, Petite Sirah, Red Wine, Uncategorized, Wine Type | Tagged , | Leave a comment