Blue Rock Vineyards: New Releases from Sonoma County

Blue Rock Vineyard is a small artisanal winery in Alexander Valley that produces high quality, hand-crafted Bordeaux-inspired wines and Pinot Noir from Sonoma County grapes. Continue reading

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New Releases from South Africa’s Tokara Winery

Located on the crest of the Helshoogte pass outside Stellenbosch, Tokara is one of South Africa’s most beautiful wineries with views of mountain vineyards from its tasting room.  Established in the early 1990s by financier GT Ferreira, Tokara cultivates 62 hectares on its home property and another 25 ha on Elgin’s Kogelberg Mountain Range surrounded by fynbos.  Last week Tokara presented their new releases at the beautiful Relais & Chateau Ellerman House. The winemaker is Stuart Botha, a 2006 graduate of Elsenberg Agricultural College who joined Tokara in 2017.  The talented Aiden Morton has been viticulturist since 2000.  Shown in the photo: Stuart Botha, GT and Anne-Marie Ferreira, and Aiden Morton. Continue reading

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Countries and Regions, Red Wine, South Africa, Uncategorized, White Wine, Wine Type | Leave a comment

The New Wave Montefalco Wines of Cantina Cocco

Winemaker Ilaria Coco established this boutique Montefalco estate in 2008 and released her first vintage in 2014.  She makes her Sagrantino Montefalco with a feminine touch. The wines are non-traditional in that they are especially fresh and easy to drink early on.  Her 3.5 ha vineyard’s alluvial soils, early harvests, shorter than usual maceration times, less time in large oak vessels and more in bottle all play a role.  Total production is small, a little over 1000 cases, so the wines aren’t easy to find. But she does have a US importer, Vegan Wines, and they can tell consumers where to find the wines.   Illaria showed us her Sagrantinos dating from the first vintage to the most recent at her winery in Montefalco. Continue reading

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Arnaldo Caprai: Montefalco’s Champion of Sagrantino

Marco Caprai

We’ve had the opportunity to taste several vintages of Arnaldo Caprai’s Montefalco wines over the past year in Montefalco, Seattle, and Washington DC. These tastings as well as those of other producers lead us to conclude that this estate, led today by Marco Caprai, shown here, is the region’s torch-bearer for the Sagrantino grape. Continue reading

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Hedges Family Estate: Grand Reserve Red Mountain/La Haute Cuvée 1996-2019 Vertical Tasting

For aficionados of Washington’s most prestigious AVA for Cabernet Sauvignon, this tasting in Seattle was a delicious retrospective of Hedges top wine from 1996-2019. Few Washington wineries are old enough to provide a vertical set of wines spanning 25 years or more, so this was a unique chance to see how one ‘terroir’s wines reflect both the land and the evolution of the family’s response to it.  Although we enjoyed tasting all the vintages, our tasting notes below focus on our favorites.  Continue reading

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Current Releases from Montefalco’s Cantina Fratelli Pardi

The Pardi winery was established by three brothers in 1919 on the ground floor of the San Marco Hospital.  Like many Montefalco wineries, they initially specialized in making Sagrantino Passito. Today their great grandsons, the brothers Alberto Mario and Gianluca Rio, tend the vineyards and make a wide range of white and red wines. They have 11 hectares of vines in 5 parcels, all in Montefalco, that provide all the fruit for their wines. Alberto Mario Pardi (shown here) is the winemaker; Giovanni Dubini of Palazzone is the consulting winemaker.  Annual production is about 4500 cases, 30% of which is exported.

 

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Zerbina Wines: New Italian Selections

Zerbina Wines is a Texas-based negociant  of wines  from Italy and other wine producing countries.   Their wines from Italy are sourced from vineyards in the Veneto, Tuscany, and other regions.  The wines reviewed here are produced in collaboration with winemaker Antonio Fattori of the Società Agricola Fattori in the Veneto.   They are good quality food wines and are offered at highly affordable prices. Continue reading

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Three Sticks: New Releases from Sonoma

Founded in 2002 by Bill Price (shown here), Three Sticks is part of Price Family Vineyards & Estates, and, so, has access to some of California’s best vineyards, including two of Sonoma’s most prestigious—Durell and Gap’s Crown.  In this article we review a selection of Three Sticks Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from the challenging 2020 vintage.  Overall, these are well made wines with excellent freshness and refinement and no hint of the smoke taint that afflicted too many of Sonoma’s vineyards in 2020.  Ryan Prichard and Carl Formaker oversee the winemaking at Three Sticks.   Kudos to them for producing such excellent wines in a difficult year. Continue reading

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

Monte Bluña: A Boutique Producer in Lisbon’s Arruda dos Vinhos DOC

Monte Bluña is a small, quality-oriented producer in the Arruda dos Vinhos DOC, which lies within easy commuting distance (30 km) of Lisbon. Monte Bluña is one of the region’s smaller producers with just 6 hectares of white (Arinto and Vital) and red (Aragonez, Tinta Miúda and Syrah) varieties sustainably grown at more than 300 meters altitude on the Moinho do Céu. Nuno Martins da Silva is the winemaker.  The winery manager, Antonio Guerreiro, recently sent us samples direct from Portugal as the winery does not yet have a US importer. The wines are fresh and well-made with offerings that would be unique in the US market. Continue reading

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Good Value, Quality Sparkling Wines from Alsace to the Russian River Valley

Sparkling wines from around the world are better than ever. They may not have the cachet of Champagne, but they’re priced lower, and the best ones are very good indeed. In this article, we review a selection of quality sparkling wines from Alsace, South Africa’s Breede River Valley, Catalunya, the Mosel, Prosecco, and the Russian River Valley.  Most of these sparklers are made using the méthode champenoise of secondary fermentation in the bottle, but some do the secondary fermentation in an autoclave (i.e. Charmat method). The tremendous commercial success of Prosecco demonstrates that consumers like well made, Charmat sparklers, especially when sold at a good price.   Continue reading

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