Aridus Wines from Arizona and New Mexico

The Aridus Wine Company sources its fruit from diverse vineyards in southeastern Arizona (mostly Cochise County) and New Mexico, including their 5,200 foot high, 40 acre estate vineyard along Turkey Creek in Pearce, Arizona. Owners Scott and Joan Dahmer began planting in 2009 and opened their cellar doors in 2012.  Lisa Strid joined as winemaker in 2016. A native of Wyoming, she was introduced to winemaking in Washington State, then studied enology and viticulture at Oregon State and interned at Alexana in Oregon’s Dundee Hills and was research winemaker at E&J Gallo in California before becoming the full time winemaker at Aridus. This is our second review article of Aridus wines; the first one was published two years ago.

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Single Vineyard 2015 Nebbiolos from Roero’s Malvirà

 

Azienda Agricola Malvirà

Malvirà is one of Roero’s most prestigious wine estates. It produces some serious red wines made from the Piedmont’s Nebbiolo grape. In this article, we review their single vineyard Roeros, mostly from the 2015 vintage but also including a cellar aged Roero from 2007. We also review their particularly flavorful Barbera d’Alba. We visited Malvirà while preparing our Roero report. It’s a treat to taste their wines again. Continue reading

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Tongue Dancer: New 2019 Releases from Sonoma County

These two new releases from James McPhail’s Tongue Dancer are a welcome addition to the bevy of Sonoma County wines on the market. As we have written previously James is one of California’s top winemakers and Tongue Dancer is a relatively new project that reflects his interest in wines that have texture and mouth feel.  The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reviewed below are delicious wines and tell us that James McPhail is on a role.  Only about 100 cases each were made of these wines so hurry up and get them before they disapper.

Tongue Dancer 2017 Chardonnay Pratt Vineyard, Irwin Lane, Russian River Valley. ($39) 93
This Chardonnay is barrel fermented and offers rich aromas of toast and hints of stone fruit. On the palate it has a creamy mouth feel which is both rich tasting and elegant. This is a quintessential California Chardonnay from a first-class vineyard made by a talented winemaker, James MacPhail. using Burgundian methods.

Tongue Dancer Wines 2017 “Pinot de Ville” Putnam Vineyard Sonoma Coast ($65) 93
“The Pinot de Ville” offers big aromas and flavors of dark cherry, boysenberry and plum with hints of toasted oak. It reveals a lovely texture with good acidity and ripe concentrated and spicy flavors on the palate. Aged 16 months sur-lie in French oak, 25% new, it is sourced from the Putnam Vineyard in Annapolis.

www.tonguedancerwines.com

 

 

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Buy Champagne Now Before Tariffs Hit: Twelve Top Values

The price of Champagne continues its rise, and proposed 100% US tariffs could put it beyond the reach of most wine lovers. The smart consumer will stock up on Champagne now. To help you, we’ve identified a dozen extremely good values in our just published report Champagne: Diversity and Change.  These Champagnes, listed in the table below, are the best values we found from a tasting of 250 Champagnes.  In addition to stocking up, if you want to be able to continue purchasing Champagne in the future, please make your views on the proposed tariffs known by visiting regulations.gov, search for USTR-2019-0003, and click on the blue “Comment Now” button. Continue reading

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Bruno Paillard’s Exquisite Champagnes

Bruno Paillard accomplished what many thought impossible—creating a new, prestigious Champagne house from scratch.  Champenois by birth, he had the advantage of a family history of growing grapes in Champagne, and he began by working in the Champagne wine trade. Still, to establish a new winery and brand (in 1981), purchase top quality Grand and Premiere Cru vineyards, and develop a reputation as one of the best houses in Champagne is almost unheard of these days. We’ve tasted the Bruno Paillard Champagnes over the years, but we recently had the opportunity to have an in-depth conversation with Alice Paillard, Bruno’s daughter and business partner, and to taste the latest releases, including the just released 2004 Nec Plus Ultra. Read much more about Champagne in our forthcoming new report Champagne: Diversity and Change.  Continue reading

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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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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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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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