Napa’s Castello di Amorosa Spreads its Wings

This Napa-based family winery was opened in April 2007 by owner Dario Sattui.  It operates from an authentically built castle and winery situated in the hills just south of the city of Calistoga.  On our visit to the Castello a few years ago,  Brooks Painter, Director of Winemaking, showed us the winery’s full portfolio of wines.  Since that time the Castello’s offerings have increased and several new vineyards have been added to the estate.  We’re most impressed with the new Pinot Noir offerings, some of which we wrote about in our recently published report on The Wines of the Anderson Valley. Continue reading

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Oregon’s Quady North: America’s Most Serious Rosé

Herb Quady is arguably America’s most serious producer of rosé wines. He plants vineyards and sources fruit from vineyards specifically for making rosé, often using cooler, east facing sites.  He does mostly direct, whole cluster pressing and does small presses in order to carefully monitor acid levels, which can fall off quickly. For the portion of his grapes that are macerated, he carefully destems, leaving the berries whole, does a short cold soak, and then gently presses and ferments at cold temperatures in stainless steel to preserve delicate aromatics. For his rosé blends he prefers to co-ferment to get better integration early on. Herb’s meticulous attention to detail results in authentic rosés, among the best we’ve tasted for our upcoming annual report, American Rosé 2020. His rosés are delicate and refined, similar in style to rosés from the Côtes de Provence but with generous New World fruit. They are very reasonably priced and provide outstanding value. Continue reading

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2Hawk Vineyard of Oregon’s Rogue Valley: New Releases

The 2Hawk Vineyard and Winery, located in the Bear Creek sub-basin of the Rogue River, is small but growing fast. In this article, we review some of their latest releases. With new vineyard plantings in an up and coming wine region, a new winery, and a full time, skilled winemaker the future looks very bright for 2Hawk. Continue reading

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Le Cadeau Vineyard: New Releases from Willamette Valley

Le Cadeau Vineyard is one of Willamette Valley’s premier family wineries.  Established in 1997 by founders Deb and Tom Mortimer, Le Cadeau  was one of the early pioneers in Oregon’s Chehalem Mountains, dedicated to producing high quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Continue reading

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Sonoma’s Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery: Special Terroir, Special Wines

In 1994 Lester and Linda Schwartz began planting their Fort Ross vineyard on Sonoma’s high coastal ridge overlooking the Pacific. Today they have 32 small blocks on 53 acres that range from 1200 to 1700 feet in elevation with marine sedimentary soils. The vineyard benefits from the cool Pacific breezes but mostly lies above the coastal fog allowing grapes to fully ripen. Jeff Pisoni has been winemaker since 2009, and we find his wines (see reviews below) to be especially good. Continue reading

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Crooked Path of Paso Robles: New Releases

Crooked Path Cellars is owned by Nancy and Craig Stoller and Vino Del Sol, importer and marketing agent of wines from Argentina, Chile and New Zealand. Craig is also CEO of Sunridge Nurseries, the only California-certified nursery block in the Paso Robles AVA.  Crooked Path has two estate vineyards, RBZ in the El Pomar District and Drake Vineyard in the Templeton Gap District. Crooked Path Cellars offers three Paso Robles red wines reviewed below.  The Wanderer, a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Petit Sirah is a standout. The winemakers are Craig Stoller and Alex Frost.  The Stollers also own Sextant Wines, a winery we visited for our 2017 report on Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon & Other Bordeaux Varieties; we gave the Sextant Wines stellar reviews. Continue reading

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Natural Wine Gains Respect: Recommended Italian Producers

After much deliberation, the French have finally officially recognized “natural” wine. From now on, producers who farm organically, harvest by hand, ferment with ambient yeast, and avoid manipulative practices like flash pasteurisation, thermovinification, reverse osmosis, and cross-flow filtration can label their wines vin méthode nature.  Surprisingly, producers can still add sulfites (up to 30 mg/l) and label their wines “natural”.  However, producers whose wines are sulfite free can use a different label [shown here].  These criteria are remarkably similar to those used by Isabelle Legeron for her Raw Wine fair that she has organized in London for several years.

More details about vin méthode nature can be found here.  While this new classification currently applies only to France, Italy and Spain are expected to follow suit.  Our experience with “natural” wines is mixed with producers like La Castellada and Il Carpino in Italy’s Oslavia-Collio region and COS and Occhipinti in Sicily producing unique wines of real character, while wines from some other producers have tasted unfinished. More on our recommended top natural wine producers in Collio and Sicily below. Continue reading

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Anthill Farms Winery: Outstanding Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah from Northern California

Anthill Farms  is an exciting winemaking project launched in 2004 by a trio of partners: Webster Marquez, David Low and Anthony Filiberti.  The partners, who all previously worked at Williams Selyem, are deeply committed to crafting high quality, cool climate single vineyard Pinot Nor, Syrah and Chardonnay sourced from vineyards in Northern California. Anthill’s goals are to make wines that taste good and reflect the unique characteristics of the vineyard and the vintage.  Anthill has grown from producing 200 cases in 2004 to  around 2,000 cases today, and the quality of the wines is outstanding  as revealed in our tasting notes below. Continue reading

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De Krans: Outstanding Port-Style Wines from Calitzdorp

Sweet wines in South Africa have a long and storied history beginning in the 17th century with the planting of the first vitis vinifera in the Western Cape. Huegenot immigrants, religious refugees from France, played a critical role in establishing a sophisticated wine industry.  Among those French Huegenots was the Nel family, which today owns De Krans Wines, which is located in Calitzdorp, the production center of Port style wines made from traditional Portuguese grape varieties. In this article we review the current releases of De Krans. To see more i-winereview reports and articles on South African wine, click here.  Continue reading

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The Wines of Donum Estate in Los Carneros

Artificial Rock No. 126 by Zhan Wang

Donum Estate is one of the finest producers of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Los Carneros.   Founded in 2001 by Anne Moeller-Racke, a pioneer in the development of Los Carneros as a wine growing region, Donum Estate is currently owned by Danish investors who have expanded the estate’s vineyard holdings and made noteworthy improvements to the operation, including magnificent landscaping, artwork and sculptures by prominent artists. We last tasted the Donum wines while preparing our report on The Wines of Los Carneros; it’s a real pleasure to taste these fine wines once again. Our reviews follow.  Continue reading

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