A New Rose’ & People’s Choice Award Winner

Bayernmoor Cellars Team

At Taste Washington this year, over 300 wineries were showcased. My mission over the 2 day event was to check out all the wineries and find out who’s positioned to be super successful and who’s got a lot of work to do yet! I came away incredibly impressed with Bayernmoor, who is a undoubtedly a hot new winery to watch!

Part of the reason they are coming out of the gates strong is they hired a great winemaker, Brian Carter,  who has twice been named “Winemaker Of The Year” by Washington Magazine and is widely known for his European approach to winemaking and blending.

While I liked all of their line-up, my favorite was this delicious rose’ made from a blend of Grenache and Mourvedre sourced from Clifton Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope AVA. It is light and crisp and refreshing, with enough character to be interesting but not overbearing. Brian vinified this Provence style rose’ to almost complete dryness, with just enough fruit to tickle the tip of your tongue.

And having loved it at Taste Washington, I was curious how it would do at my 17th Annual Rose’ Revival event, which showcased rose’ from 40 wineries. The Bayernmoor Rose’ came in a 3 way tie for first place in the People’s Choice award, and the other 2 were from pretty prestigious, well known wineries and were much pricier. For only $15, this is a screaming deal that won’t last long!

Bayernmoor Winery

A Big Time Chardonnay For A Little Price!

2015 Coach House Chardonnay

I’m always on the look out for a good Chardonnay that is what Chardonnay lovers want – a good textured, creamy wine with a nice buttery soft texture without a ton of oak. And while you can find these for $35-50 pretty easily, it’s almost impossible to find a good one that’s under $20. Most in that price category are “unoaked” or lightly oaked – which is fine, but they tend to be light and crisp and lack that creamy texture people want.

I can’t tell you why we were able to get such a screaming deal on this delicious Chardonnay, but I can tell you it’s exactly what I was looking for. This wine from a tiny Washington producer is hand crafted and sourced from two vineyards in Yakima, then aged “sur lie” which means they leave the yeast sediment in the barrel while it’s aging to add layers of flavor.

And while 50% of this wine aged in new French Oak and the rest in previously used barrels, the wine gets its creaminess without being overly oaky at the same time.  Most wine at this price would be lucky if it was “oaked” with wood chips rather than new $1000 barrels.

Expect that buttery popcorn flavor with hints of pear and melon, and a subtle Meyer lemon finish with a good rich texture without going overboard. For this price I bought a case for myself at what was a one time winery direct deal!


Napa Goes Big On Washington Cabernet

By Sommelier David LeClaire

2015 Canvasback Cabernet – Red Mt.
90 Points – Wine Enthusiast
92 Points – James Suckling
92 Points – Wine Advocate
93 Points – Wine & Spirits

In 2011 after conducting extensive blind tastings between Napa Valley and Washington Cabernet Sauvignons, Duckhorn Vineyards was so excited about the quality and character of the wines from Washington State, and in particular the exceptional Cabernet Sauvignons from Red Mountain, they decided to invest in Washington.

Working with legendary Washington vineyard manager Dick Boushey, they began cultivating relationships with the growers who farm some of the appellation’s most esteemed vineyards, as well as planting their own vineyards. This was one of the first ever serious investments in Washington from a well respected Napa winery. As with all Duckhorn wines, they needed to name the wine after a duck, so they came up with Canvasback, a duck native to the Pacific Flyway. 

This wine has received some pretty lofty scores, with 4 esteemed publications all giving it 90+ points, as it has notable presence and depth with a creamy fine-grained texture and gorgeous flavors of black plum, marionberry, with notes of nutmeg and hazelnut. Yet it’s the restranied nature of this wine that had the critics impressed, as it drinks more like a French Bordeaux than a big juicy Washington Cab.

The balance comes in part to it’s Bordeaux style makeup, with 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc with 20 months in barrel 98% French oak barrels. Duckhorn is going all in on Washington Cabernet. And if you want to see what Napa is up to in Washington, give this a try!

Daily Wine News: A New Day for Beaujolais

A glass of Beaujolais. (Flickr: kohrogi34)

Jancis Robinson explores the new generation in Beaujolais. “The economic doldrums of the region that resulted when the world fell out of love with Beaujolais Nouveau at the end of the last century kept land prices attractively low for young newcomers with a different, more artisanal concept of winemaking… Beaujolais exports were up 22% last year, with demand particularly strong from what you might slightly carelessly call American hipsters, or at least influential American sommeliers.”

“The new owners of Napa Valley’s iconic Heitz Cellar, the Lawrence family, are fulfilling a long-held goal of the winery’s founders to extend the boundaries of its Trailside Vineyard in the Rutherford subappellation,” reports Augustus Weed in Wine Spectator. “The winery has purchased the Wildwood Vineyard, adjacent to its Trailside property, from wine giant Treasury Wine Estates and plans to combine the two properties.”

In the Washington Post, Dave McIntyre considers the growing appeal of canned wines.

Alfonso Cevola is also paying attention to canned wine in the Dallas News.

Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles Times, Jordan Michelman is saying to forget bottles, cans and boxes, and look ahead at the next wine trend: keg wines on tap. “Keg wine has a stigma to overcome: the kegging or bagging of wine has long been synonymous with large industrial estates selling their run-off plonk as a cheap addendum. This reputation is starting to change, however, as the interest in alternative formats has found a willing bedfellow in the boom of natural wine culture…”

In Grape Collective, Valerie Kathawala explores the terroir-driven wines of Emilia-Romagna’s La Tosa

Meininger’s editor-in-chief Felicity Carter discusses the state of the world’s wine industry with Forbes.

In 5280 Magazine, Ruth Tobias makes a case for being more daring when it comes to trying different wines.

Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For June 24, 2019

I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes in a “mini-review” format.
They are meant to be quirky, fun, and (mostly) easily-digestible reviews of (mostly) currently available wines (click here for the skinny on how to read them), and are presented links to help you find them, so that you can try them out for yourself. Cheers!

Grab The 1WineDude.com Tasting Guide and start getting more out of every glass of wine today!

Shop Wine Products at Amazon.com

Copyright © 2016. Originally at Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For June 24, 2019 from 1WineDude.com - for personal, non-commercial use only. Cheers!

The Narrow Road to Quality in Chile’s Far North

Pisco vineyards in the Elqui valley. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

One of the perennial regrets of any traveling journalist must be the fact that you just can't go everywhere and see everything. I don't think I've ever ended a press trip to any wine region around the world without some amount of such feelings. As the saying goes, so much wine, so little time.

For this reason, one of the things I like to do when visiting a wine region involves taking an afternoon to just sit in a room and taste through a bunch of wines from somewhere I'm not going to get the chance to visit on that trip. On my most recent visit to Chile, I didn't have the time to make it up to the far north of the country, but my hosts were kind enough to collect a bunch of wines for me to taste one evening. It was a great experience to simply check in on how things are coming along in some of the frontiers of Chilean winemaking -- the regions of Elqui, Limarí, and the southern edges of the Atacama desert.

The northernmost parts of Chile rapidly descend into desert conditions. Driving north from Santiago, cacti begin to dot the landscape within an hour. By the time you get to the two valleys of Elqui and Limarí, five hours and 329 miles later, you've entered the southern reaches of the Atacama desert, and one of the most arid places on earth. Much of the Elqui region receive less than an inch of rain each year, and it boasts the claim of being the hottest wine region in the country. Limarí, a bit further south, gets a mere 3 or 4 inches of rain per year.

Once upon a time, Elqui and Limarí could lay claim to being Chile's northernmost wine regions. But exploration and experimentation constantly push at the boundaries of winegrowing. Now there are two valleys to the north of Elqui and Limarí that are technically wine regions -- Copiapo and Huasco, but wine grape plantings there are quite scarce and, thanks to the full force of the Atacama desert, very marginal.

Despite becoming better recognized as wine regions, Elqui and Limarí host very few fine wine vineyards, and even fewer established resident wineries. But they have a long history of growing grapes, which up until recently, were used for Pisco, the ubiquitous clear brandy that comprises and names the country's national drink, the Pisco Sour.

The desert-like climate of these two valleys would never allow viticulture were it not for the influence of elevation. Most of the vineyards in the region sit above 5000 feet of elevation, making for cold nights and intense UV radiation during the day. In addition to their extremity, these regions (Limarí in particular) also host some of the highest concentrations of limestone in the country, something which has sparked interest among winemakers.

The regions' Pisco producers have largely focused on the Muscatel, Quebranta, Italia, Albilla and Torontel grape varieties -- hardy, good producers of sugar that ferment easily. But starting about 15 years ago, some pioneering winegrowers (with the confidence that comes from the bankrolls of Chile's largest wine companies) began planting other grape varieties in the hopes of making fine wines.

One of the first was Concha y Toro, who planted Chardonnay in the limestone soils of the Limarí Valley and released it under the Maycas de Limarí brand to the amazement and acclaim of many (including myself). It was a taste of this wine in my first visit to Chile 10 years ago that sparked my interest in these regions. In addition to Chardonnay, Syrah has also proven successful in the region, and winemakers continue to experiment with planting new varieties.

Having had a couple of promising wines on my first trip to Chile, when I returned last month I was very excited to dive into a large group of wines from the region as a measure of the progress and increasing potential of the region.

The result? Clear and intriguing evidence of potential, but some ways to go for many producers.

Now I don't make it my habit here on Vinography of publishing a lot of low scores for wines, because most people want to know what to drink more than they want to know what not to drink. And wine is an ever changing thing. A wine can go from lousy to quite good from one vintage to another, as winemakers, grape sources, and many other variables change. But information lingers online for posterity. So I try not to trash wines.

The one time that I do tend to publish low scores, however, is when I am reviewing a cross section of wines in some way, because the full range of scores are instructive as an assessment of the category as a whole. In this case, for instance, I could have concluded this article with simply the top five or six wines from my tasting. But providing the full perspective of my tasting is the best way to characterize the state of winemaking in these somewhat lesser known Chilean wine regions, as well as to encourage the folks there to keep improving.

Of course there's a certain amount of selection bias going on here. I only tasted the wines that were collected for me by Wines of Chile, and there are undoubtedly other wines from the region that I didn't get a chance to taste, perhaps from smaller producers that don't have a relationship with Wines of Chile (which, like many such organizations tends to represent the largest players in the business).

So you shouldn't, as I don't, look at this as a definitive and comprehensive judgment on the region, only a snapshot as best as Wines of Chile and I were able to put together on my recent trip.

But let's get into the wines with a highlight of the most impressive thing going on in Elqui at the moment, and that is the small side project of Marcelo Retamal, who spends most of his time as the winemaker at the well-known producer De Martino. Widely regarded as one of Chile's most knowledgeable and accomplished winemakers, Retamal was retained in 2007 (and eventually brought in as a partner) by Patricio & Alvaro Flaño, a father and son pair who took the remarkable gamble of planting in the sandy, rocky granite soils of the upper Elqui Valley at more than 7217 feet of elevation (making it the highest in Chile and among the highest elevation vineyards in the world). Battling the near complete lack of water, intense UV radiation, and diurnal shifts of more than 45° F / 25° C, these three have figured out how to coax amazing things out of this extreme terroir.

The Narrow Road to Quality in Chile's Far North

This is what one of their vineyards looks like. The nearby Elqui river supplies a certain amount of sub-surface groundwater that may assist the grapes, but irrigation is a requirement for now. The extreme desert conditions keep disease pressure low, and allow the team to farm the estate with a combination of organic and biodynamic methods, with purportedly no intention of certification. But while mildew and rot may not be an issue, other concerns, from the local rodents that eat the grapes and gnaw the vines to frost, sunburn and winter freezing keep the winemakers on their toes. Retamal has taken an extremely traditional approach to the winemaking: harvesting everything by hand, fermenting with ambient yeasts in stone lagares and crushing by foot, after which the wines are aged in a combination of concrete eggs and large foudres. The results are some of the most distinctive and dynamic wines that I have ever tasted from Chile. In addition to the two reds that I tasted here, the winery makes three single-parcel wines, which I hope to taste at some point. I can't recommend highly enough that you seek out these wines.

Here's everything I tasted. I tried to find as many as I could online, but many wines are not available via online retailers, so you'll have to keep an eye out for them.

White Wines

2017 Tabali "Vetas Blancas" Chardonnay, Limari Valley, Chile
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemon pith and grapefruit. In the mouth, lemon pith and grapefruit flavors mix with pomelo and other exotic citrus as the bright acidity seems to intensify across the palate and through the finish. Deeply stony and mineral in quality. Perhaps missing some depth of complexity, but pretty compelling. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9. Cost: $12. click to buy.

2015 Ventisquiero "Tara Atacama - White Wine #1" Chardonnay, Atacama, Chile
A cloudy bright yellow gold in color, this wine smells of white flowers, lemon pith and wet stones. In the mouth, deeply stony flavors of lemon pith and lemon zest have a chalky tannic texture and a wet slate aroma and flavor that pervades The Narrow Road to Quality in Chile's Far Norththe wine. Filigreed acidity and long pithy flavors in the finish. Very interesting, with obvious sediment. 13% alcohol. Score: between 8.5 and 9 . Cost: $60. click to buy.

2018 Tabali "Talinay" Chardonnay, Limari Valley, Chile
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells of wet stones and lemon pith and white flowers. In the mouth, very stony flavors of lemon pith and grapefruit have a slightly floral aspect, but not much intensity or depth. Tastes a bit thin despite the deep minerality and excellent acidity and length. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $30. click to buy.

2018 Ventisquiero "Grey - Single Block" Sauvignon Blanc, Atacama, Chile
Palest gold in the glass, this wine smells intensely of wet chalkboard and green apple skin. In the mouth, green apple and kiwi flavors are quite intense thanks to almost searing acidity welded to a wet slate minerality. Chalky notes linger in the finish along with lime zest and green apple. 13.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??

2018 Mayu "Huanta Vineyard" Pedro Ximinez, Elqui Valley, Chile
Pale gold in the glass, this wine smells of lemongrass and pears. In the mouth, pear and slightly spicy, unripe apple flavors have a nice acidic kick to them. Clean and crisp with a faint tannic grip in the finish. Ready for seafood! 13% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $11. click to buy.

2017 Tabali "Barranco" Viognier, Limari Valley, Chile
Pale blonde in the glass, this wine smells of pineapple and peaches in syrup. In the mouth, sweetish peachy pineapple flavors have a deep underlying minerality, but also a sort of bitter candied quality that I don't care for. Notes of peach pit and bitter orange linger in the finish. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8 and 8.5 . Cost: $13

2017 San Pedro "1865" Chardonnay, Elqui Valley, Chile
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of pineapple and cold cream. In the mouth, somewhat straightforward flavors of cold cream, lemon pith and a hint of more tropical pineapple are sort of short on the midpalate. Decent acidity. Alcohol not stated. Closed with a screwcap. Score: around 8. Cost: $15

2017 Falernia "Grand Reserva" Chardonnay, Elqui Valley, Chile
Light yellow gold in the glass, this wine smells of intense lemon curd and pineapple The Narrow Road to Quality in Chile's Far Northwith a backdrop of vanilla and melted butter. In the mouth, melted butter, pineapple and candied lemon peel flavors are zingy with very sharp acidity, but there's a bitterness to the pineapple notes and scents of oak that linger in the finish. Overdone. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 7.5 and 8. Cost: $??

2018 Falernia "Reserva" Chardonnay, Elqui Valley, Chile
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of pineapple and dried mango. In the mouth, strong and slightly bitter flavors of pineapple and dried mango have a high-toned quality that leaves notes of jalapeño in the finish. Not great. 13.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 7 and 7.5. Cost: $??

2015 Valdivieso "É;clat" Chardonnay, Limari Valley, Chile
Light gold in the glass, this wine smells of sweet pineapple and lemon drop aromas. In the mouth, candied lemon and pineapple flavors have a sweetish, vanilla complexion and lack the acidity to make them truly refreshing. 14% alcohol. Score: around 7. Cost: $??

Red Wines

2017 Vinedos de Alcohuaz "Grus" Red Blend, Elqui Valley, Chile
Inky, opaque purple in color, this wine smells of wet pavement and cassis and exotic flowers. In the mouth, sour black cherry and cassis flavors are shrouded in a fog of powdery tannins like a cloud of chalk dust whipped up in the wind and filling every nook and cranny of the mouth. Fantastic acidity keeps the mouth watering as floral, cassis and sour black cherry notes linger in the finish with a hint of earth underneath. A blend of 60% Syrah, 13% Grenache, 12% Petite Sirah, and 15% Petit Verdot. Fermented in stone lagares and aged for 12 months in concrete eggs. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 9.5. Cost: $27

2013 Vinedos de Alcohuaz "Rhu" Red Blend, Elqui Valley, Chile
Inky opaque garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis and crushed stone. In the mouth, deeply mineral flavors of cassis, flowers and black plums have a sort of weightlessness to them as they float on top of a deep stony bed of minerality. Fine grained tannins disperse like rock dust in the mouth. Excellent acidity and long finish. Quite distinctive. A blend of 64% Syrah, 20% Grenache, and 16% Petite Sirah. 13.5% alcohol. Fermented in stone lagares and aged in a combination of concrete and foudre. Score: between 9 and 9.5 . Cost: $46

2015 Ventisquiero "Tara Atacama - Red Wine #2" Syrah, Atacama, Chile
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of bloody steak and a touch of cassis. In the mouth, cassis and other floral flavors are gripped in a tight fist of muscular tannins as notes of iodine and cassis linger in the finish. Good acidity. 13% alcohol. 5285 bottles made Score: between 8.5 and 9 . Cost: $48

2015 Ventisquiero "Tara Atacama Red Wine #1" Pinot Noir, Atacama, Chile
Light garnet in color but headed towards ruby, this wine smells of cedar and raspberry and red apple skin. In the mouth, red apple skin and raspberry flavors are beginning to take on secondary The Narrow Road to Quality in Chile's Far Northaromas like cedar and potpourri. Fairly muscular tannins coat the mouth, and excellent acidity keeps the fruit bright, even as it leans more towards the dried end of the spectrum. Underneath everything, there's a deep wet pavement minerality. 13.5% alcohol. 3933 bottles made Score: around 8.5. Cost: $46

2013 Tabali "Payen" Syrah, Limari Valley, Chile
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis and blackberries. In the mouth, flavors of cassis and blackberry are bright with intense acidity and shot through with bitter green herbal notes. A deep mineral quality suffuses the wine, aided by powdery chalk-dust tannins that coat the mouth. There's a bitter edge to this wine that reads as slightly high octane. Contains 10% Cabernet Franc. 14% alcohol. Score: around 8.5. Cost: $??

2017 San Pedro "Kankana del Elqui" Syrah, Elqui Valley, Chile
Inky garnet in the glass, this wine smells of sweet cassis and blackberries. In the mouth, sweetish flavors of blackberry and cassis have a nice herbal note to them and a powdery accompaniment of tannins. Notes of oak show up in the finish but the fruit has a nice freshness thanks to good acidity. 14.5% alcohol. Score: between 8 and 8.5. Cost: $60

2015 Tabali "Talinay" Pinot Noir, Limari Valley, Chile
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberry jam and a hint of green herbs. In the mouth, raspberry fruit has a slight citrus-peel edge to it and is zippy with juicy acidity. Faint, grippy tannins buff the edges of the mouth while greenish herb flavors linger in the finish with a certain amount of bitter sawdust. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 8 and 8.5 . Cost: $30

2016 Tabali "Vetas Blancas" Pinot Noir, Limari Valley, Chile
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of raspberries and raspberry leaf and chopped herbs. In the mouth, very green herbal flavors dominate the red fruit at the core of the wine, which is draped in a heavy blanket of tannins. Good acidity, but the bitter sawdust quality to the wine is a distraction. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 8. Cost: $30

2017 Mayu Red Blend, Elqui Valley, Chile
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of green olives and plums. In the mouth, cherry and strawberry fruit flavors are wrapped in a thick, peanut-buttery goo of tannin. Notes of dried herbs linger in the finish with a touch of the green olive from the nose. Decent acidity. A blend of 55% Carmenere and 45% Syrah. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 8. Cost: $16

2016 Tabali "Vetas Blancas" Syrah, Limari Valley, Chile
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cassis and white pepper. In the mouth, somewhat shrill cassis and black cherry flavors have an herbal and woody bitterness to them and are squeezed in a tight fist of tannins that are somewhat overwhelming. High acidity. 14% alcohol. Score: around 7.5. Cost: $15

NV Falernia Carmenere, Elqui Valley, Chile
Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of black plum and blueberries. In the mouth, plum and blueberry flavors have a distinct sweetness to them. Good acidity makes them bright and juicy, but can't cut the sweetness nor mask the sightly high-octane nature of this wine's 15% alcohol. Faint tannins. Score: around 7.5. Cost: $11

2018 San Pedro "1865" Pinot Noir, Elqui Valley, Chile
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells intensely of struck match and sulfur dioxide. In the mouth, tart raspberry and raspberry leaf flavors are short on the palate and wrapped in a tacky, sandpapery tannin sheaf. Bitter notes in the finish. Unremarkable acidity. 13.5% alcohol. Score: around 7. Cost: $13

2014 Valdivieso "Caballo Loco" Red Blend, Limari Valley, Chile
Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of sweet raisins and chocolate. In the mouth, flavors of raisins, cassis and black cherry are enclosed in a thick matrix of putty-like tannins that suffuse the mouth and coat the palate. Notes of bitter wood linger in the finish. Decent acidity. Overdone. 15% alcohol. Score: around 7. Cost: $40

NV Falernia Pinot Noir, Elqui Valley, Chile
Light garnet in the glass, this wine smells of red fruits and the dried Japanese seaweed known as nori. In the mouth, dried raspberry and nori flavors are short and one dimensional. Faint, grippy tannins. Unremarkable. 14.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 6.5 and 7. Cost: $16

NV Falernia Syrah, Elqui Valley, Chile
Medium to dark garnet in color, this wine smells of black cherry, blackberry and a very unusual note of camphor wood. In the mouth, sweetish flavors of black cherry are one dimensional and shot through with brown sugar and oak. Faint, drying tannins. Meh. 14.5% alcohol. Closed with a screwcap. Score: between 6.5 and 7. Cost: $12

2016 Tabali "Vetas Blancas" Cabernet Franc, Limari Valley, Chile
Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of plum and green bell pepper and alcohol. In the mouth, extremely high-octane flavors of plum and cherry have a volatile quality to them, as if they're being delivered in a solution of pure alcohol. Unbalanced and icky. Moderately thick tannins and rough acidity. 14.5% alcohol. Score: around 6.5. Cost: $20

Planting New Vineyards at Troon – It Only Looks Like the Beginning

Planting New Vineyards at Troon - It Only Looks Like the Beginning
Planting New Vineyards at Troon - It Only Looks Like the Beginning

New vines arrived at Troon Vineyard yesterday from Inland Desert Nursery in Washington - mourvèdre, grenache noir and marsanne all neatly packed into shipping boxes. Next week more classic southern French varieties will arrive and within the next ten days, we’ll have planted over 14,000 vines to create ten new acres of vineyard.

Stacked in their shipping boxes they look like the beginning of a project, but it only looks that way. This project started a year and a half ago and the arrival of the vines themselves is closer to the end than the beginning of the project of planting a vineyard. The first step was extensive soil studies as Vineyard Soil Technologies dug more than seventy five-feet deep soil pits to create detailed soil profiles. Based on that data we selected ten acres as ideal for vineyard development. Combining the soil data and climate data with our experience we selected the varieties we felt would be best matched to each vineyard block to be developed. We then begin working with Inland Desert Nursery to obtain the clones of the varieties we chose to focus on. The varieties we were looking for are not the most popular so ordering from the nursery long in advance is required.

Planting does not begin with plants. First, there was the soil work and that filled most of the last year and a half. Once the blocks to be planted were identified the ground had to be prepared. That meant heavy equipment as a D8 ripped the ground to a depth of thirty-six inches. Prior to the ripping, we applied five tons per acre of organic compost along with other soil amendments that we discovered were required by our soil studies. This was followed by discing then yet another finishing discing. When the soil was prepared we seeded a specifically designed cover crop to add nutrition to the soil. As Biodynamic farmers, we also did our first application of Biodynamic Preparation 500.

Over the winter and spring, the cover crop prospered. This was then mowed, then disced into the soil as green manure. Then the vineyard begin to take form as we put in end posts, stakes for each vine (head-trained vines) and irrigation tubes for the soon to arrive young, and very thirsty vines. In addition, another application of Biodynamic preparation 500 was applied to both the blocks to be planted along with all existing vineyard blocks.

Only after all of this investment and work did we arrive at last Friday, when the first vines arrived. Their arrival was the culmination of all of this work, not the beginning. However, these vines mark the beginning of new wines that will come from the grapes they will yield. In that sense, they are truly a new beginning for Troon Vineyard.

As you see, the plan for planting these new acres at Troon was built upon scientific research, extensive viticultural experience, the principles of Biodynamic agriculture and on a vision to make wines with a unique character defined by our soils and the climate on the Kubli Bench in Oregon's Applegate Valley.

Over the next weeks, I will be documenting the process of planting these new vines at Troon Vineyard in words and images. I invite you to share that process with us as we build a foundation for a new generation of wines at Troon.

Wine Reviews: Alentejo White Wines

When I visited Portugal’s Alentejo wine region last summer, I arrived expecting to taste a ton of red wines — which, surely, I did, as red grapes make up the vast majority of those planted in Alentejo. But I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the white wines (which I wrote about in this column).

Antão Vaz leads the pack in terms of quantity and, I think, quality. This indigenous white variety does well in the hot and arid climate of Alentejo. It’s frequently blended with other indigenous Portuguese varieties like Arinto (for some crisp acidity), along with others like Gouveio,and Roupeiro.

When tasting some of these white wines, I find they pop with regional authenticity. Winemakers craft Antão Vaz and other Alentejo white blends in a variety of styles, from steely, leaner ones, to skin-contact wines made in amphorae, to creamier, barrel-fermented wines. And I think that diversity is on display in the wines I tasted for this report, which I received as samples and tasted sighted.

There are a few red wines included in here, as well as a ringer from the Douro, made by Alentejo-based producer Esporão.

2016 Herdade da Malhadinha Nova Antão Vaz da Peceguina - Portugal, Alentejano, Vinho Regional Alentejano
SRP: $25
Rich gold color. Fascinating aromas of orange peel and apricot along with olive oil, hay, nougat, saline and chalk. Medium-bodied, this has the textural depth of an orange wine while being really vibrant and precise. The orange and apricot fruit is touched with honeyed, waxy elements, minerals, sea salt, white tea, raw almond, there’s even some green herb and dried seaweed notes (in a really good way). Deep, the mouthfeel is lovely, but the wine is really, really fresh. A memorable and unique made from 100% Antão Vaz, fermented in stainless steel. (91 points IJB)

2018 FitaPreta Branco - Portugal, Alentejano, Vinho Regional Alentejano
SRP: $22
Light yellow color. The nose shows lemon curd, peaches, yellow apples, while rich notes of honey and lamp oil mix with lighter elements of sea salt and perfume. Fresh and medium-bodied (13% alcohol) with a plump feel and lively acidity. Lemon curd, honeydew melon and apricot mix nicely with raw almond, honeysuckle, and lots of flinty, chalky notes. A steely, bright style but lots of depth and complexity. This is a blend of Antão Vaz with Roupeiro and Arinto. (91 points IJB)

2017 Herdade Do Rocim “Mariana” Branco - Portugal, Alentejano, Alentejo
SRP: $13
Light yellow color. Aromas of lemon, cantaloupe, peach, with honey and magnolia petals. Medium-bodied on the palate, very fresh and bright, with peach nectar and lime. Salty, floral, dusty mineral accents, this also shows honey, almond, tropical flowers. The saline/mineral component hangs long on the crisp finish. Very versatile, summer-friendly, a brighter style that will go well with all sorts of foods. From the Vidigueira sub-zone, this is 60% Antão Vaz, 30% Arinto and 10% Alvarinho. 12.5% alcohol. Insane value. (89 points IJB)

2017 Herdade do Esporão Monte Velho Branco - Portugal, Alentejano, Vinho Regional Alentejano
SRP: $12
Light yellow color. The nose is bright and peachy with mangos and limes (nice contrast), along with spicy herbs, wildflowers and creamy, honeyed notes. Lovely texture on the palate yet the acidity is precise, and there’s a nice tropical/citrus mix (mango and pineapple drizzled with lime). Notes of honey, salted almond, smashed rocks, chalk and dried flowers add all sorts of complexity. This is absurdly good for the price, a dynamic and exciting white blend of 40% Antão Vaz, 40% Roupeiro and 20% Perrum, fermented in stainless steel. 14.5% alcohol. (90 points IJB)

2017 Herdade do Esporão Esporão Reserva Branco - Portugal, Alentejano, Alentejo
SRP: $20
Light yellow color. An interesting nose of peaches, apricot jam, glazed pear, with honeycomb, whipped butter and floral tones. Full-bodied and plump with medium acidity, and juicy apricot and glazed pear. Lots of rich notes of almond and honey comb but I also get some floral tones and an attractive salty-briny aspect. Big and delicious, but nuanced and food-friendly as well. Antao Vaz, Arinto, Roupeiro and others, aged six months in a mix of steel, and some new French and American oak. (88 points IJB)


2017 Herdade do Esporão Colheita - Portugal, Alentejano, Alentejo
SRP: $18
Deep purple color. Suave dark fruit on the nose (roasted fig, plum, black currant) with anise, coffee, violets and dark, rich earth. Full-bodied, quite a grip to the tannins but the edges are round and the acidity is lively. Juicy but tangy black fruit mixes nicely with coffee, pepper, anise, rosemary, clove. It’s accessible in it’s youth, but has the structure to improve for at least three to five years. Touriga Nacional, Cabernet, Aragonez and other varieties, co-fermented, foot treading, aging in concrete – this is another impressive example of the quality and value from Alentejo. (90 points IJB)

2016 Herdade do Esporão Quinta dos Murças “Minas”  - Portugal, Douro
SRP: $20
Deep purple color. On the nose, there is a ton of earthy and spicy complexity, with anise, black pepper, charcoal, with a core of dark but tangy currant fruit. Medium to full-bodied with some serious grip to the tannins, but fresh acidity. Black currant and tart plum kinds of fruit, with a mix of spicy tones (anise, pepper, clove) with espresso, and underlying mineral, stony and graphite elements, lots of complexity. For a wine at this price point, this has serious concentration and could benefit from some cellar time. A schist soil blend of Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and others, aged in concrete and old French oak for nine months. (90 points IJB)

Welcome Back Photographer George Rose

Please join me in welcoming back photographer George Rose as a weekly collaborator for my Vinography Images posts.

For some of you photographer George Rose needs no introduction. You might be staring at his photos as your desktop background or screen saver already, since I've featured his images many times over the years years.

For those of you who haven't met George, he's an accomplished wine marketer in addition to a master behind the lens. Keep reading to learn more about his remarkable career.

Before we get to his resume, though, let's talk about what we're going to feature on Vinography. George has spent the last year or so deeply exploring Santa Barbara County and California's Central Coast wine region, as seen in the image above of vineyards near Lompoc, CA. The result of that exploration is soon to be published in a book entitled, WINE COUNTRY: Santa Barbara County. In fact, it's at the printer right now, and will soon be available for purchase at GeorgeRose.Com. So for the next year or so, I'll be featuring images from that book weekly here on Vinography.

Welcome Back Photographer George Rose

Now, about this guy with the camera. As a photographer George Rose traveled a long and winding road through the elite world of popular music, film and sports -- eventually leading him to Northern California's Wine Country. During a prolific 17-year career as a photojournalist in Los Angeles in the '70s and '80s, Rose developed a remarkable and historic body of photographic work focused on popular culture.

In the late 1970s, Rose served six years as a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times. His independent assignments, focused primarily on the entertainment industry, were published in USA Today, Time, Newsweek and Rolling Stone. His images from this era are collected in the 2008 book entitled Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Other Perversities
published by Ten Speed Press.

From 1982 to 1996 Rose prowled the sidelines of the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders games as a photographer for the National Football League. Thousands of his images have been published in officially sanctioned NFL books, calendars, trading card and game day programs.Welcome Back Photographer George Rose

In the 1980s, Rose headed north to Ukiah, where he owned and published the Mendocino Grapevine, an award-winning Northern California weekly county newspaper. It was during this period that he became friendly with the Fetzer family (owners of Fetzer Vineyards), planting the seeds of a future career in wine. Despite the rigors of publishing, Rose maintained his close relationship with USA Today and a handful of other national publications throughout the 1980s.

For the past twenty years, Rose has held five high-level public relations positions in Northern California's Wine Country. He began his wine journey -- though some might call it a "career detour" -- by becoming Director of Public Relations at Mendocino County's Fetzer Vineyards in 1991. In 1998 he moved forty-five minutes down Highway 101 to Sonoma County, where he took on duties as Public Relations Director for Clos du Bois and its parent wine company, Allied Domecq Wines USA.

In 2003, the late Jess Jackson tapped Rose to become Vice President of Public Relations for Kendall-Jackson, America's top premium wine producer. Rose was responsible for all Kendall-Jackson communications until his departure at the end of 2008. He spent time as Communications Director at J Vineyards & Winery before returning to his work as a photographer.

Rose is a recipient of a 1987 World Press Photo Award for news, and was named California "Newspaper Photographer of the Year" in 1976 by the University of Missouri, School of Journalism. He was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by the Los Angeles Times.

George continues to document the seasonal changes in California's wine country and travels the world as a contributor to Getty Images. His vineyard photos have been used in numerous publications and calendars throughout the world of wine, and in 2007, Chronicle Books published a collection of those images in a book entitled The Art of Terroir. His most recent work is a book entitled Vineyard: Sonoma County, for which I wrote the foreward.

Please join me in welcoming George back to Vinography. I hope you enjoy his images as much as I do.

Daily Wine News: Hybrid Barrels

(Source: Wikimedia)

In Wine Enthusiast, Anna Archibald reports on the appeal of hybrid barrels—made from a blend of two or more species of oak—and how they are changing wine, beer and spirits. “…hybrid barrels offer unique aging benefits—and it’s less expensive…When it comes to the creation of hybrid barrels with different species of oak, the sky’s the limit.”

In Wine Spectator, Emma Baltzer offers a cheat sheet for the upcoming Supreme Court Decision on Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Zackary Blair et al, potentially the biggest case involving wine since Granholm v. Heald in 2005, which struck down bans against out-of-state direct shipping by wineries. The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on June 24.

“Millennials, many of whom are laden with debt, don’t seem to have as much disposable income as their forebears. And they’re craftier shoppers: if they’re going to spend bigtime on something, they want some flesh on those bones—not just something to show off, but something of inherent worthwhileness. And I have to say in all honesty that cult wines overall are lacking in this inherent quality.” Steve Heimoff wonders whether or not the clock is ticking down on cult wines?

Neal Martin explores the world of affordable Burgundy in Vinous. “Unsurprisingly, a good proportion of them come from more rationally priced enclaves of the region, not least Chablis and Mâconnais.”

A new study has found that ancient Celts living in what is now northern Burgundy probably drank imported Greek wines after adopting a Mediterranean feasting culture. Chris Mercer shares more details in Decanter.

On JancisRobinson.com, Richard Hemming shares the 2019 MW examination questions.

Wines aged in bourbon barrels and wine-flavored beers are appearing more on shelves. Jeff Siegel looks into the reasons why in Meininger’s. (subscription req.)