Hickinbotham of McLaren Vale 2015 Releases

We had the opportunity recently to taste the 2015 releases of the Hickinbotham Clarendon Vineyard in McLaren Vale. The four wines reviewed here again showed very well just as they did in the 2014 vintage. They offer rich and concentrated aromas and flavors and good texture and mouth feel with firm but silky tannins,  Compared to 2014,  they reveal somewhat more of the vineyard signature,  power and earthiness, outstanding balance and good length. Despite their big tannins, they are drinking well today (with decanting) and should provide drinking pleasure for a decade or longer. Continue reading

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Washington’s Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Rieslings: Outstanding Wines, Incredible Values

Washington State is by far the most important producer of Riesling in the US, and Chateau Ste. Michelle accounts for most of it, making over 1.2 million cases of Riesling annually. We recently sat down with Chateau Ste. Michelle white wine maker David Rosenthal at the winery outside Seattle to talk and taste through their Riesling portfolio from the least expensive but delicious entry level Dry Riesling to the ultra-rich, super concentrated  Single Berry Select Riesling dessert wine.  Our reviews follow. Continue reading

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Inniskillin Icewines from the Niagara Peninsula: Latest Releases


Canada’s Niagara Peninsula is the world’s most important region for producing authentic icewines made from grapes frozen on the vine. Inniskillin pioneered the making of icewine in the Niagara Peninsula, producing its first in 1984. Today it exports icewine to over 70 countries. In this article, we review their latest icewine releases from the 2015-2017 vintages. For more on icewine and sweet wines more generally, consult our Report # 27 Sweet and Dessert Wines of the World. Continue reading

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Gary Farrell Vineyard’s Elegant Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Releases from the 2016 Vintage

The Russian River Valley’s Hallberg Vineyard

We’ve been tasting and reviewing Gary Farrell Vineyard wines since before Theresa Heredia joined as winemaker in 2012, and we’ve been tasting Theresa’s wines since her time at Joseph Phelps’ Freestone Vineyards on the Sonoma Coast.  We’ve consistently admired Theresa’s winemaking, and we try to visit her at the winery and taste Gary Farrell Vineyard’s  newest releases whenever we’re in California. In this article we review new releases from the 2016 vintage. Use the search function on our home page to find all the other articles we’ve written on Gary Farrell and the wines of Sonoma County.

Tasting Notes

Winemaker Theresa Heredia

Gary Farrell 2016 Chardonnay Bacigalupi Vineyard Russian River Valley ($55)  93  The fruit for this fruit rich, lush and juicy Chardonnay includes head trained vines planted in 1967 in the Bacigalupi Vineyard, which provided fruit for the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that won the 1976 Paris Tasting. It offers a sumptuous nose of white stone fruit and honeysuckle. The richly flavored palate is fat and juicy with lively acidity and a lingering aftertaste. Aged 9 months in 35% new French oak.

Gary Farrell 2016 Chardonnay Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley ($65) 94 The Rochioli Vineyard Chardonnay is consistently one of our favorite wines from Gary Farrell.  Made of optimally ripened fruit, it offers a lively and intense bouquet of lemon citrus and tropical fruit along with notes of flint like minerals and hazelnut that carry over to a deeply flavored and admirably concentrated palate. Juicy, lemony acidity gives the wine an appealing freshness. Made from gently pressed fruit matured in 35% new French barriques and puncheons.

Gary Farrell 2016 Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley ($70) 92  Sourced from the famed Bien Nacido Vineyard’s Q Block, this Pinot Noir displays the Pommard selection’s spice and purity of fruit. It offers tantalizing, spicy aromas of vanilla-inflected cherry and good depth of rich, dark berry and cherry fruit flavors complemented by refreshing acidity. Matured 15 months in 40% new French oak.

Gary Farrell 2016 Pinot Noir Hallberg Vineyard Dijon Clones Russian River Valley ($60) 93  Sourced from 777 and 667 clones of the Hallberg Vineyard located in cool, foggy Green Valley, the Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir delivers aromas and flavors of dark cherry with savory herbs and notes of underbrush and bright red raspberry.  There’s good depth and richness on the palate, fine tannins, and a persistent finish. It sees 10 months in 40% new French oak.

Gary Farrell 2016 Pinot Noir Toboni Vineyard Russian River Valley ($55) 92   This Pinot Noir comes from the Toboni Vineyard, planted on the Santa Rosa plain in 2001. It’s an expressive, juicy wine showing Black Forest cake aromas and flavors of black cherry and cocoa with a savory, loam-like note and a light touch of toasted oak. Aged 10 months in 40% new French oak.

Gary Farrell 2016 Fort Ross Vineyard Pinot Noir Fort Ross-Seaview ($75) 93  Made of fruit grown high above the Pacific in a cool, even climate, this wine reveals its terroir. It has an earthy, herb and rose petal and lavender nose and a complex palate of red berries, pomegranate, and a hint of forest floor. It offers firm tannins and a persistent finish. Matured 15 months in 40% new French oak.

Santa Maria Valley’s Bien Nacido Vineyard

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Pio Cesare’s Wines from Italy’s Piedmont: Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera d’Alba

We sat down the other day with Pio Boffa and daughter Federica to taste the current releases of Pio Cesare. Pio showed us the quite different 2014 and 2013 vintages of Barbaresco and Barolo, and Federica pulled out two older vintages of Barolo that she had carefully packed in her suitcase for her trip from the Piedmont to Washington DC.  Along with Pio Cesare’s importer, Maisons Marques & Domaines, we tasted and then paired these very special wines with the solid cuisine of the Blue Duck Tavern. Continue reading

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New Releases from Argentina and Chile

Argentina and Chile are well known for producing wines of outstanding value. In recent years, they’ve also become recognized for making high quality wines that compete with the world’s best. We’ve explored both countries in depth in our International Wine Review report, and we’ve tasted hundreds of wines from the Southern Cone since our founding in 2005.  In this article, we review some very good value wines and a number of outstanding ultra-premium wines.  For in depth evaluations of Argentina and Chile, check out our reports at www.iwinereview.com    Continue reading

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Eleven Eleven Winery: A Napa Valley Gem

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Eleven Eleven Winery is a relatively newcomer to the wine scene in Napa, Established in 2014 by three partners: Ellie Anest, Carol Vassilliadis, and Aureilen Roulin, this wine project is off to an impressive start, With veteran winemaker, Kirk Venge, … Continue reading

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Viña Siegel from Chile’s Colchagua Valley: New Releases

Alberto Siegel is the 3rd generation of the Siegel family, which has its origins in Austria. More than three decades ago in 1980 he founded Viña Siegel and began planting vineyards in the Colchagua Valley, and today he has more than 700 hectares (1729 acres) of vines from the foothills of the Andes to the Leyda Valley, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Initially, he produced bulk wines that he sold to some of Chile’s

Alberto Siegel

largest wineries, but in 1997 he began bottling wines under his own name.  Today, he makes a wide variety of wines covering various price points and different fruit sources, including the Alto Colchagua vineyard Los Lingues located in the foothills of the Andes. Didier Debono, from Lyon, France, is the winemaking consultant. We’ve tasted the Siegel wines for many years and are impressed with their path of continuous improvement.

US Importer: Kysela Père et Fils

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Edoardo Miroglio: Vines, Wines, & Boutique Hotel in Bulgaria

The E Miroglio Winery & Hotel

Italian textile manufacturer Edoardo Mirogolio has created from scratch one of Bulgaria’s most impressive, modern wineries.  In our soon to be published report on The Wines of Bulgaria we rate his wines among the best in Bulgaria, especially the Chardonnay, Mavrud, and outstanding sparkling wines.  Our reviews of the Edoardo Miroglio wines are given below and, also, in our recently published Report # 67 The Wines of Bulgaria. Continue reading

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Ingrid Groiss Wines from Austria’s Weinviertel

Ingrid Groiss, Winemaker

Ingrid Groiss is one of the winemaking stars of Austria’s Weinviertel region. While best known for her Grüner Veltliner grown on the area’s loess soils, she also makes an outstanding Gemischter Satz (field blend) from her grandmother’s old vineyard as well as a stunning, authentic rosé of Pinot Noir and Zweigelt. Our reviews of the wines follow.  Watch for our forthcoming report on Austria, an update of our earlier Report # 25 The Wines of AustriaContinue reading

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