California’s Castello di Amorosa: Sangiovese and More

Napa Valley tourists may be attracted to the Castello di Amorosa by the faux 13th century Tuscan castle with moat, torture chamber, and several hundred feet of elaborately carved underground wine caves.  A much better reason, in our opinion, is to taste the excellent, growing portfolio of wines made by Brooks Painter, Director of Winemaking.  Consistent with its Tuscan image, the Castello’s portfolio includes Sangiovese.  It’s one of the few wineries in California to have achieved success with this variety. We review the latest releases below.  These wines are only available at the winery or online. Continue reading

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Clarice 2019 Pinot Noirs from the Santa Lucia Highlands

Adam Lee continues on a roll with his Clarice wines.  The 2019 vintage produced somewhat riper and earthier wines than previously, but all three are first-rate and tasting great.  As in our review of the 2018 vintage, we found it difficult to identify which of the trio we liked best.  Readers will note, we have rated the Garys’ Vineyard and Rosella Vineyard Pinot Noirs slightly higher than the Santa Lucia Highlands blend, However, you be the judge.  If you are a Clarice Family Member you will have the chance to compare these three lovely bottlings.  If you haven’t become a member yet, now is your opportunity.  Our assessment of the wines follows. Continue reading

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Domaines Ott: Outstanding 2020 Rosés

In this year’s annual rosé report, the International Wine Review evaluated more than 250 rosés from around the world.  Among the standouts are the rosés of Domaines Ott, a producer in Provence widely recognized for the high quality and individuality of its wines.  Founded in 1912 by Alsatian agricultural engineer Marcel Ott, Domaines Ott is today owned and managed by Champagne Louis Roederer which acquired it in 2004.   Fourth generation cousins Christian and Jean-François Ott run Domaines Ott’s three unique estates: Château de Selle, Clos Mireille (both Côtes de Provence) and Château Romassan (Bandol), which are described below. Farmed organically from the beginning, Domaines Ott follows strict cultivation techniques using natural fertilizers and manual debudding to reduce yields. Continue reading

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Blue Rock Vineyard:  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.  The owner of the winery is Kenny Kahn, a passionate vigneron who is one of a small group of producers in Alexander Valley in Sonoma County who are deeply committed to producing authentic high quality estate wines. Blue Rock currently has 46 acres of vineyards planted with five Bordeaux varietals and three acres of hillside Syrah. Blue Rock’s vineyards are today densely planted with low yielding vines and are managed following sustainable agricultural practices. We have been tasting Kenny’s wines over the past decade and they have been getting better and better.  The three wines reviewed here are first-rate. Continue reading

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Exploring Georgian Wine: The Khareba Winery

While Georgia has made wine for some eight thousand years, its wines are little known in North America.  The International Wine Review has begun tasting and reviewing Georgian wines in preparation for a future, post-COVID trip there. Recently, Georgia’s Khareba winery sent us samples, and we subsequently held a Zoom tasting with the lead winemaker, Vladimer Kublashvili.  We followed that up with another tasting, this time paired with delicious Georgian food at Washington, DC’s Supra restaurant owned and managed by Jonathan Nelms. This article reviews the wines of Khareba. Another article, available on the IWR home page, discusses Georgian food and wine. Continue reading

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Coca i Fitó: Refreshing Wines from Catalonia and Ribeira Sacra

Established in 2004, Coca i Fitó is an innovative winery which is crafting a wide variety of delicious (and beautifully labeled) wines sourced from Montsant and other appellations such as Priorat, Empordá  and Ribeira Sacra. Our first memorable encounter with the wines of Coca i Fitó was several years ago,  when  we were invited to dinner at the three-Michelin star El Celler de Can Roca in Girona by Miguel Coca i Fitó, one of the brothers of the eponymous Coca i Fitó vineyard in Montsant  to taste through their portfolio.  It was a magnificent dinner with each dish paired beautifully with the wines by sommelier Josep Roca. In the following review, we take a new look at the wines of Coca i Fitó. Continue reading

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Paso Robles’ Adelaida Vineyards: History (and Delicious Wine) in a Glass

Adelaida’s Viking Vineyard

Owned and operated by the Van Steenwyk family since 1994, Adelaida Vineyards is located in the Santa Lucia Mountains just 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean.  The winery and vineyard are in the Adelaida district of the Paso Robles AVA where they enjoy high elevations (1800′) and shallow chalky mountain soils that give low yields and concentrated fruit.  This area also sees dramatic 40-50° swings in daily temperatures, but despite its proximity to the Pacific it doesn’t enjoy a coastal climate. The wines show excellent freshness and acidity due to the limestone soils.  The 145 acre vineyard includes the almost 60 year old original 35-acre Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyard of Hoffman Mountain Ranch.  Winemaker Jeremy Weintraub is crafting some superb wines. We last tasted with Jeremy while preparing our Report #62 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon & Other Bordeaux VarietiesContinue reading

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Raventós i Blanc: Stunning New Releases

The house of Josep Raventós i Blanc was established in 1986 in Sant Sadurni d’ Anoia by Josep-Maria Raventós, a break away member of the Codorníu family, with the objective of making Cavas of exceptional quality. Today, Josep’s grandson Pepe (shown here with his father Manuel) continues the pursuit on the estate’s 120 ha of low-yielding vines planted in sedimentary calcareous soils. The Raventós vineyards are sustainably farmed and yields are kept low by aggressive green harvests. Winemaking at Raventós is as meticulous as the viticulture. Raventos is an extraordinary Cava producer and we enjoy tasting their cavas annually.   These three new releases are top-of-the line. Continue reading

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Contratto of Alta Langa: An Impressive Showing of Metodo Clasico

Italy makes some of the world’s great sparkling wines.  We’re used to tasting the superb ones coming out of Franciacorta as well as Trento. Now, Piedmont’s Contratto joins this elite group.  Contratto was founded in 1867 by Giuseppe Contratto, making it the oldest Champagne-style (i.e., metodo classico) producer (originally, mostly from Moscato grapes) in Italy.  The winery was purchased by Giorgio Rivetti in 2011 with the aim of raising the quality and reputation of the brand.  Mauro Ferrero, who has worked at Contratto since 1978, continues but with the support of Andrea Rivetti, Giorgio’ son, and the financial and marketing resources of La Spinetta.  The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit for Contratto is now sourced from high altitude vineyards (up to 850m elevation) in Alta Langa.  And improvements continue to be made. Most recently, in 2015 Contratto planted its new, high altitude (720m elevation) vineyard in Bossolasco (Alta Lange).  Annual production of Contratto sparkling wine is now about 12 thousand cases. Continue reading

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Stylish Rosé: Colors, Shapes, and Celebrities

Perhaps no wine is as stylish as rosé.  The color of the wine, the shape of the bottle, the design of the label and even the name of the wine influence the consumer’s purchase.  While this is true for all wines, it’s more true for rosé with its alluring colors, exotic bottle shapes, and celebrity endorsements. Like most things rosé, the stylish trends began in Provence.  We examine these trends in more detail in our soon to be released 2021 Rosé Wine Report. Continue reading

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