Six Months of Wine Samples: A Summation of My Favorites
It’s sample write-up time again and I held off longer than I usually do for my write-up because I had a lot of wines to try. Some I’m going to write about today, which were diverse, interesting and worth your exploration. Some fell flat, in fact, a lot of the wines that I tried did, so I kept tasting more hoping for an epiphany of more wines that I could include.
But sometimes you just have to call it and here’s the summation of the 54 wines that I wanted to include out of the 130 wines that I tasted. Keep in mind that these are all price points, styles and even include my first highly recommended line of canned wines.
2018 Left Coast Queen Bee Bubbly Sparkling Pinot Noir – this was my first taste of a Left Coast sparkling wine and I was impressed. Notes of citrus, stone fruit, toast, brioche and strawberries. This is your perfect Summer picnic wine.
NV Le Vieille Ferme Reserve Sparkling Rosé – this is an open, drink and enjoy type of sparkling wine. I tasted notes of strawberry, raspberry and a touch of honey. It is a blend of 40 percent of Grenache Noir, 40 percent of Cinsault and 20 percent of Pinot Noir.
2017 M. Chapoutier Belleruche Rosé Côtes-Du-Rhône – this Rhone style rosé is made from Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. You taste stone fruit, strawberry, blackberry, cherry, watermelon and spice with a bit of creaminess.
2018 M de Minute Rosé — this is everything that you want a French rosé to be and you can almost taste Provence in a glass. Notes of orange peel, red currant, stone fruit, strawberry and mineral notes.
2018 Balletto Rosé – this Russian River Valley rosé of Pinot Noir is light, bright and delicious. Balletto actually farms vineyard blocks for rosé that is sustainably farmed. I tasted notes of cherry, watermelon, stone fruit, grapefruit and flowers.
2018 Left Coast Rosé – this is a complex rosé made up of 76% Pinot Noir and 24% Pinot Meunier from sustainably farmed vineyards in Willamette Valley. I believe this is my first rosé tried that was barrel fermented and aged for French oak for six months. I tasted strawberry, vanilla and grapefruit and then a touch of earthiness that was really intriguing. This wine will stand up to a variety of foods and is really interesting.
2017 Sosie Rosé – this rosé of Syrah is an unusual copper-orange color. You go back and forth between floral, fruity (watermelon, stone fruit), citrus and herbal notes. It keeps drawing you in to see what you taste with the next sip.
2018 Stoller Pinot Noir Rosé – last year I was a big fan of this rosé and that tradition continues with the new vintage. This rosé of Pinot Noir was full of notes of strawberry, cherry, stone fruit and herbal notes with a great minerality.
2018 Chehalem Rosé – this rosé of Pinot Noir is full of notes of pomegranate, grapefruit, strawberries, roses and fresh herbs. Very drinkable and fresh.
2018 McIntyre Rosé – this refreshing rosé of Pinot Noir has explosive notes of peach, morello cherry, rose petal, raspberry and lavender. It changes in the glass as you drink it and keeps you coming back.
Canned Oregon – I tried the five offerings of Canned Oregon that was born in the Northwest out of the belief that quality wine “can accompany you on all of life’s adventures.” I have had single offerings in the past that I have recommended, but never have I recommended a complete offering that I enjoyed across the board prior to Canned Oregon. You don’t get that crazy metallic canned taste, but I do admit that I prefer to pour it into another container vs. keeping it in a can.
Oregon Pink – Rosé Bubbles – Easy drinking with notes of strawberry, watermelon and herbal notes with a nice minerality.
Oregon Pink – Rosé – A very drinkable rose with red fruit, rose, citrus and herbs. It’s just good.
Oregon White – Bubbles – this is mostly Chardonnay with notes of red apple, lychee and citrus with a nice acidity. It’s simple and easy drinking, but good and not cloying. I would put this over many of the grocery store Proseccos any day. This was a top one for me.
Oregon White – Pinot Gris – this was a group favorite with my tasters. Notes of tropical fruit and pear. It was a great representation of a Pinot Gris and refreshing.
Oregon Red – Pinot Noir – a simple, easy, drinkable red. Notes of cherry, cranberry and a little bit of herbal in the glass.
2018 Dry Creek Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc – this is the tropics in a glass with notes of citrus, tangerine, pineapple and herbs. It’s a great expression of Sauvignon Blanc.
2018 Marco Felluga Russiz Superiore Collio Sauvignon – this Sauvignon Blanc is lovely with notes of pear, apricot, herbs, crushed rock, sage, stone fruit and grapefruit.
2018 Flora Springs Soliloquy White Wine – this is a wine that almost was no longer. It nearly went extinct when the vines were diseased a few decades back, but the winery preserved the unique clone and decided to bring back the white wine as its signature white. It’s a special white blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnary, Pinot Gris and Malvasia bursting with tropical fruits, green apple, jasmine and citrus. It’s lovely.
2017 Troon Vineyard Kubli Bench Blanc is a blend of 52 percent Marsanne and 48 percent Viognier. I tasted notes of peach, pear, white flowers, mango, apricot, citrus, almond and herbal notes. These wines keep getting more and more complex and unique. Gorgeous juice!
2018 Troon Vineyard Côtes Du Kubli – this is an elegant Rhone wine that is a blend of 51 percent Viognier, 28 percent Marsanne and 21 percent Rousanne. It’s floral and weighty; elegant and stylistic. I can’t say enough about the evolution of Troon Vineyard wines.
2017 Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina – this is a great Italian wine with notes of jasmine, apple, pear, citrus, herbs and a slight nuttiness.
2016 DeLille Cellars Chaleur Blanc – I have always been a fan of the wines coming out of Washington State and DeLille Cellars never disappoints. The Chaleur Blanc is a Rhone style white that blends Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. It has notes of grapefruit, pear, tropical fruit, apricot, caramel and vanilla. It’s complex and crisp with a great acidity.
2017 Cecchi La Mora Vermentino – nice notes of apple, pineapple, pear and citrus. Just a good patio wine with a nice minerality and lots of tropical fruit.
2017 Terlato Friuli Pinot Grigio – there is a reason white wines have a pedigree in Friuli and this wine is a perfect example of why it is the best selling premium Italian wine from this region. It’s an aromatic wine with notes of stone fruit, almond, jasmine, green apple and a balanced minerality.
2017 Serafina Cellars Pinot Grigio – the winery is based in Amador County and is owned by Paul Scotto, the chief winemaker of the Scotto Family. Sera Fina Cellars focuses on Italian and Rhône winemaking styles and varietals. I tasted stone and tropical fruit and it was a nice representation on Pinot Grigio.
2018 Stoller Chardonnay – this Unoaked Chardonnay has notes of pear, lemon, white flowers, orange blossom, ginger and a great minerality. It’s very drinkable and quickly seems to leap out of the glass.
2016 Talbott Kali Hart Chardonnay – this is a fruit forward Chardonnay with notes of tropical fruit, vanilla, pear and spice.
2016 Edna Valley Vineyards Chardonnay – notes of green apple, citrus, stone fruit, apple and oak. It has a nice acidity and it’s very drinkable.
2018 Chehalem Pinot Gris – notes of stone fruit, pear, jasmine, honeysuckle, herbs and a little bit of spice. It’s easy drinking and perfect for the Summer weather.
2016 DeLille Cellars D2 25thVintage – named after the great wine road that travels through the historic chateau region of Bordeaux, D2 is a Bordeaux blend sourced from the most prestigious vineyards across the Columbia Valley. It has notes of blue and red fruit, chocolate covered cherries, herbs and spices. I loved this wine.
2014 DeLille Cellars D2 – it was fun to try an older vintage of this wine. I tasted notes of cherry and raspberry. The spice and earth came through more in this vintage, but it was still delicious and elegant.
2018 Breaking Bread Grenache – I loved the ingenuity of this winery who indeed delivered fresh baked bread with the message to enjoy it and the wine with friends. Unfortunately time and the US Postal Service did the bread no favors, but the wines delivered. This light, easy drinking grenache, has notes of raspberry, cranberry and some herbal, earthy notes.
2018 Breaking Bread Zinfandel – this was a lighter Zinfandel with notes of cranberry, pomegranate, earth and spice. I tasted it chilled as the winemaker recommended and was surprised to see a chilled Zinfandel worked.
2015 Regio Old Vine Old Clone Zinfandel – this is another Scotto Cellars offering that is a great value for the under $10 price tag. I tasted notes of blackberry, plum, clove, chocolate, oak and spice.
2016 Tascante Ghiaia Nera – this was a silky and aromatic wine with notes of red fruit, spice and a nice earthiness. Very drinkable today but will evolve over time.
2014 Ventisquero Grey Glacier Carménère – this wine broke through my stereotypes of Chilean Carménère. This was almost velvety in the glass with notes of cherry, blackberry, pepper, earth, pencil lead and spice.
2017 McIntyre Santa Lucia Highland Pinot Noir – this wine is bursting with fruit with notes of cherry pie, strawberry, Asian spice, raspberries and spice. It’s a great wine.
2015 Cambria Julia Vineyard Pinot Noir – Notes of blue and black fruit which lead into red fruit, spice and earthiness.
2017 Chehalem Pinot Noir – notes of raspberry, blueberry, cherry, earth and spice make this an interesting and very drinkable wine that shows its region well.
2017 Stoller Family Estate Pinot Noir – this is a classic Dundee Hills Pinot Noir with notes of cherry cola, earth, spice and raspberry.
2017 Balletto Pinot Noir – this Russian River Pinot Noir was described as “serious” and I agree. I tasted notes of black cherry, cedar, raspberries, earth and spice.
2015 Bootleg Red Wine – tons of black fruit, currant, baking spice, espresso, blueberry, vanilla and fig. This had some complexity and opened up nicely.
2016 Cecchi La Mora Morellino Di Scansano – this blend of mostly Sangiovese had notes of raspberry, blackberry, cappuccino, cinnamon and spice.
Adam Lee Returns to His Satori Roots
For 25 years, Adam Lee, the Winemaker for Siduri has made wine from about every West Coast wine region. His first region that he made wine was in Anderson Valley. In 2017, he returned to where he began and produced two wines. I had a chance to try both and love the successful return to the region.
2017 Siduri Anderson Valley Pinot Noir – this comes from three vineyards in the Anderson Valley and has notes of pomegranate, plum, red raspberry, truffle, gingerbread, herb and earth. It’s a complex wine that benefits from time in the glass.
2017 Siduri Edmeades Pinot Noir – this is a powerful Pinot. Notes of pomegranate, plum, boysenberry, black cherry, cola, spice and earth. It’s balanced and earthy.
Nine North Press Kit
I was provided with several wines from The Nine North Wine Company, a portfolio of small lot wines from Californiaʹs Napa Valley, North Coast, Central Coast and Lodi appellations. The collective focuses on assembling affordable wines that often come from well-known and established vineyard/winery sources under eight brands who prefer to remain anonymous.
There were four for me that rose to the top:
2017 Chasing Lions Cabernet Sauvignon – I tasted notes of black and red fruit, chocolate, vanilla, herbs, oak and spice.
2017 Twenty Bench Cabernet Sauvignon – notes of blackberry, black cherry, vanilla, pepper, dark chocolate, licorice and espresso. Balanced and easy drinking for the price point.
2017 Ministry of the Vinterior Pinot Noir – notes of raspberry, cranberry, earth, Asian spice and nice herbal notes.
2016 Parcel 41 North Coast Merlot – notes of black fruit, chocolate, cassis, mocha and leather. It’s a soft Merlot but stands up in the glass.
Terroir vs Terroir
This was one of my favorite recent tastings. I had the opportunity to compare two grenache wines from Paso Robles, a Central Coast region that has 40,000 acres under vine across 11 sub-AVAs, where numerous meso-climates, elevations, soils and rainfall show amazing diversity. This was my first experiment (more to come) how a single variety expresses itself in two sub-AVAs with different temperatures, rainfalls, elevations and soils. And these wines had two completely different sense of place.
2015 Anglim Grenache – this wine was earthy and deep with notes of strawberry, black cherry, licorice, cigar, floral, earth and rich herbal notes. It is a wine that you settle in with and enjoy as it unveils itself to you with each sip.
2017 Cass Grenache – this was Thanksgiving in a glass. Notes of cranberry, dried herbs, flowers, cherries, raspberries and Asian spice. Very fruit forward and easy drinking.