Texas Wine Podcast Time

Hi. Let’s talk about Texas wine. My first exposure to the wines of the state was in 2013 when I attended a brisket tasting hosted by Jack Timmons, now of Jack’s BBQ in Seattle. There were a wide variety of wines from across the country and world at this informal event (check out the lineup) but the surprise of the show to a group of writers, chefs, and critics was a bottle from the Lone Star State’s McPherson Cellars.

Vines at Messina Hof, one of the wineries discussed. / Image Facebook/Messina Hoff

So it’s been a spell since my last Texas wine experience. Luckily I know Fiona Adams, who works for Wine Enthusiast and reviews the state’s wines. She stopped by the What We’re Tasting podcast to illuminate me. Of course your first question may be, where the heck is Texas wine country? Don’t worry, we cover that by focusing on the two main regions.

There’s talk about the best grapes and where they are coming from. The latter is particularly controversial as there are a lot of “Texas wines” made with California grapes. (Huh?)

Also, we sip on a really interesting white wine from Southold Farm + Cellar. It’s a formerly Long Island (NY) winery that I (and many industry folks) had a soft spot for. But due to bureaucratic BS and local politics, they relocated their operation to Texas. NY’s loss, TX’s gain.

Get to Know Texas Wine

So while the West Coast rules the US wine world and the East Coast is making praiseworthy bottles, there’s a lot going on in the middle of the country that’s worth pouring into your glass.

The post Texas Wine Podcast Time appeared first on Jameson Fink.

Certifiably Certifiable (Talking Wine Certifications For SevenFifty Daily)

image: daily.sevenfifty.com

I was recently asked by my friend Lana Bortolot for a quick interview, to help contribute to a piece she was writing about the value (or lack thereof) of certifications in the wine biz. Lana’s work has subsequently been published in a well-researched and well-considered article, SevenFifty Daily’s Guide to Wine Education.

My dime-store-level philosophizing can be found in the article’s section on the Society of Wine Educators (SWE). I was shocked, in a decidedly pleasant way, at how many of the other sources quoted in Lana’s article that I happen to know personally, have worked with, and/or consider to be friends, which I suppose underscores my comments that Lana quoted in the piece.

It’s kind of difficult to imagine, but there was a time a few years ago when certifications were a bit of a fire-starter topic in the wine blogging community; the value propositions of the programs in general were challenged in general. Over the years, I’ve tended to put up camp squarely in the wine-certs-are-a-good-thing territory, though I’ve often cautioned that not all of them are created equally (Lana hits on what I would consider the most important and widely recognized of the bunch in her article). The TLDR version of my past coverage: certifications are a means to differentiation, which is rarely a bad thing; but do your research, have an “end-game” in mind, and choose your certification path wisely to meet it.

If you’re considering getting your feet wet in the wine certification pool, give the SevenFifity Daily overview a read.


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Anxiety, Blind Tasting, and Wine Education

I am an anxious, hand-wringing individual. It manifests itself in many aspects of my life, including wine.

While putting together some (very poor man’s) Ira Glass-esque commentary for the latest episode of the Wine Enthusiast podcast, I was transported back to a few of my anxiety-ridden moments of doubt and second-guessing. Particularly when it comes to blind tasting.

So if you want to hear from not one but three brave souls pursuing formal wine education, giving up hours of their lives a day, plus my interludes and inserted thoughts/reminiscences, check out this episode. There’s 4am flash card studying, late-night flights (of wine), and a few cold beers:

For more anxious moments, read my personal essay from the magazine (the “Last Drop” on the final page of the issue) about two bi-costal incidents where I ran myself in an endless loop of self-induced psych-outs when it came to blind tasting (with an audience). Here’s the unvarnished story:

Flying Blind While Tasting Wine

Top Image: Blind Tasting / Photo by Hanzell Vineyards via flickr.

The post Anxiety, Blind Tasting, and Wine Education appeared first on Jameson Fink.

Fat Cork goes to IPNC, 2016

Our Champagnes have been consumed and celebrated at the International Pinot Noir Celebration since Bryan first visited in 2011, rolling a cooler around filled with bubbles!

Thibaud Mandet (Winemaker at WillaKenzie), Bryan, Rollin Soles (Winemaker at ROCO Winery)

Fat Cork goes to IPNC, 2016

Pinot Noir from Australia, excellent!

Fat Cork goes to IPNC, 2016

Champagne and sparkling wine fanatics: David Speer (Ambonnay), Rajat Parr (Evening Land, Sandhi Wines, Domaine de la Côte), Bryan

Fat Cork goes to IPNC, 2016

Bryan, Ken Meyer (FC Club Member), Nelson Daquip (Canlis Head Sommelier), Chris Tange (Seattle wine distributor and Master Sommelier)

Fat Cork goes to IPNC, 2016

Bryan, Chris, Carrie (Wine buyer for Sea Creature Restaurants), Renee Erickson (Chef and Owner, Sea Creature Restaurants)

Fat Cork goes to IPNC, 2016

IPNC’s volunteer sommeliers enjoying Fat Cork Champagne with their brunch.

Fat Cork goes to IPNC, 2016

Larry Stone (Master Sommelier, Lingua Franca Wines), Raj, Mimi Castille (Oregon vigneronne and FC Club Member), Bryan

Fat Cork goes to IPNC, 2016

Bryan, Dawn Smith (Sommelier extraordinaire and Fat Cork General Manager)

Hidden Gems of the Côte de Beaune

Chardonnay. (Wikimedia)

Editor’s note: This post is from a new contributor, Mark E. Ricardo, who is the author of Simply Burgundy: A Practical Guide to Understanding the Wines of Burgundy and the founder of Trellis Fine Wine Investments, LLC, a boutique fine wine investment and consulting firm. He also is the former wine and food columnist for the Washington Theater Review and an avid collector of fine wine.

Have you ever wanted to try the best white wines of Burgundy? You know, the big boy grand crus from Le Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, Bátard-Montrachet, Bienvenues-Bátard-Montrachet and Criots Bátard-Montrachet but just couldn’t, or didn’t want to pay the sky-high prices that these wines demand?

Well, you just might be able to have your cake and eat it too by looking for wines from the following “hidden gem” vineyards which are located near the cluster of prestigious grand crus in the communes of Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet. Wines from these relatively unknown vineyards tend to exhibit characteristics of their grand cru neighbors but at a lower price.

Of course, the actual price difference depends on the individual producer, given that there can be a wide discrepancy of prices among different producers from a specific vineyard. Nevertheless, if you are looking for grand cru caliber chardonnay at a lower price, I suggest that you search for wines from these seven lesser known vineyards. 

Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Demoiselles
Probably the most prestigious of the hidden gems. Wines from this tiny sub-parcel within the broader Puligny premier cru of Le Cailleret are very rare and usually of exceptional quality. What makes Les Demoiselles so special is that it lies immediately down-slope from the Chevalier-Montrachet grand cru and is made up of the last few rows of vines that abut the northern boundary of the Le Montrachet grand cru. Wines from this vineyard tend to be very taught with intense minerality and honey and floral notes. Their intense minerality make them more like their western neighbor Chevalier-Montrachet, than Le Montrachet.Key producers include: Guy Amiot, Michel Colin-Deleger and Philippe-Colin.

Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseignères
Although this vineyard is classified merely as an AOC village Puligny-Montrachet, it is located just below the grand crus of Bátard-Montrachet and Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet. Key producers include: Coche-Dury, Ramonet, Marc Colin, Alex Gambel, Jean Pascal and Prudhon. Also look for Henri Boillot’s village Puligny-Montrachet which is primarily made up of fruit from this vineyard.

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru En Remilly
This well situated vineyard lies just above the southwest corner of the Chevalier-Montrachet grand cru and is sandwiched in between this prestigious grand cru and the excellent St. Aubin premier cru of the same name. Wines from this vineyard tend to be very crisp with minerality and great finesse. Key producers include: Michel Colin-Deleger, Bruno Colin, Morey-Coffinet and Buisson-Charles.

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Dent de Chien
This tiny vineyard lies just above the southwest corner of the Le Montrachet grand cru and is on the same hill-line as the Chevalier-Montrachet grand cru. In fact, a portion of this vineyard was incorporated into Le Montrachet during its official classification. Given its position relative to both Le Montrachet and Chevalier-Montrachet, wines from this vineyard tend to exhibit characteristics of both grand crus, but to a lesser degree. They typically are rich and focused, showing floral aromas with citrus, mineral and nut flavors.Key producers include: Chateau de la Maltroye, Morey-Coffinet, Thomas Morey and Olivier Leflaive.

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Blanchot Dessus
This well located vineyard lies to the immediate south of the Le Montrachet grand cru and is the up-slope continuation of the Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet grand cru. Its rocky soils are similar to those of Le Montrachet and typically produce wines that are powerful, concentrated and aromatic with vibrant fruit, minerality and floral aspects – comparable to those of its grand cru neighbors. Key producers include: Jean-Claude Bachelet, Morey Coffinet, Jean-Noël Gagnard, Bruno Colin and Darviot-Perrin.

Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Vide Bourse
This small vineyard lies to the immediate east of the Bâtard-Montrachet grand cru and is considered to be a down slope continuation of this famous vineyard. Given its soil composition and proximity to Bâtard-Montrachet many consider Vide Bourse to be a “baby” Bâtard. Key producers include: Thomas Morey, Marc Colin, Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey, Albert Bichot and Fernand Pillot.

Chassagne-Montrachet Les Encègnières / Les Ancègnières
This village vineyard is a southern extension of the Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseignères vineyard. It lies to the immediate east of the Bâtard-Montrachet grand cru and to the immediate north of Chassagne-Montrachet premier cru Vide Bourse. Like Vide Bourse, Les Encègnières can be considered a down slope continuation of Bâtard-Montrachet. Given its proximity to Bâtard-Montrachet and the highly regarded Vide Bourse, it’s somewhat perplexing as to why this well located vineyard wasn’t classified as a premier cru. Key producers include: Marc Colin, Etienne Sauzet and Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey (who labels his wine as Les Ancègnières).

Champagne Jean Baillette-Prudhomme is Visiting the PNW!


We are thrilled and honored to announce that our producer, Laureen Baillette and Madam Baillette of Champagne Jean Baillette-Prudhomme will be visiting the Northwest in April! They are traveling all the way from Trois-Puits, France to join Bryan on a Northwest adventure of vineyard tours, seminars, tastings, and of course, a visit to Fat Cork.

We are very excited to show the Baillettes our warehouse (where we have proudly imported their Champagne from day 1!) and all that the Northwest wine industry has to offer.

Save the date for one (or all!) of our events with Laureen Baillette.


Monday, April 11th, 12-1pm
Champagne Seminar with Laureen Baillette | Fat Cork | Seattle, WA
Public Event | $20/Club, $30/PublicTickets here! 
Join us over your lunch hour to learn the history of Champagne Jean Baillette-Prudhomme from the vigneronne herself! Laureen will explain her unique approach to Champagne production, tell the incredible history of their family, and describe each of her fine cuvées in great detail. Tasting Champagne on a Monday afternoon is a beautiful way to start the week and live life! Small bites will be provided. We’re limiting this intimate seminar to 30 seats, so purchase your ticket soon!

Monday, April 11th, 6pm
Champagne Dinner with Laureen Baillette | Location to be Announced | Seattle, WA
Public Event | RSVP to Erica@FatCork.com
We are honored to work with local chef extraordinaire, Ethan Stowell, to create an evening of incredible food, delicious Champagne and great conversation with our French guests! The menu, location, and price are still in the works, but please RSVP to Erica@FatCork.com as soon as possible if you’re interested as this dinner will certainly sell out quickly. 

Wednesday, April 13th, 4:30-6pm
Tasting with Laureen Baillette | ROCO Winery | Newberg, OR
FC Club Members and their Guests Only | RSVP to Erica@FatCork.com
Mr. Rollin Soles is an icon for high-quality, Méthod Champenoise sparkling wine made in America. He and his wife, Corby, have been supporters of Fat Cork since the beginning and they were the first people we contacted when Laureen said she was coming to town. Getting Laureen and Rollin together to talk and taste Champagne will be a great time and quite educational! Space is limited, RSVP to Erica@FatCork.com.

Thursday, April 14th, 8:30am-5:30pm
2016 Sparkling Wine Symposium | Ponzi Vineyards | Sherwood, OR
Wine Industry Members | Tickets here!
Attention wine makers all around the U.S.A., we are honored to have so many of you as Fat Cork customers! If you’re already making sparkling wine or are interested in doing so, this event is for you. Laureen Baillette will be featured on a panel alongside sparkling wine experts from Oregon and California to lead an all day workshop about everything sparkling. This is an opportunity to ask the experts all of your geeky questions, taste base wines, and learn the details that go into making great sparkling wine. Click here for tickets.

Meet our Grower: Hervieux-Dumez


Meet our grower, Champagne Hervieux-Dumez!

Bruno Dumez is the current vigneron of his family’s vineyards, working alongside his brother and son in the Montagne de Reims region of Champagne. We like to call him a “perfect Frenchman” because he has two passions in life: being a Champenois and an avid bicyclist!

He is honored to be one of 26 members in the elite Special Club of Champagne. Special Club members must grow their own grapes and make their own Champagne that originates from a single harvest. The group meets annually to blind taste several wines and only the very best cuvées are accepted and allowed to be bottled in the iconic special club bottle.

Watch the video above for a quick look at the vineyards and caves of Champagne Hervieux-Dumez!


Meet our Grower: Hervieux-Dumez

Meet our Grower: Hervieux-Dumez

Meet our Grower: Hervieux-Dumez

Meet our Grower: Hervieux-Dumez

Meet our Grower: Hervieux-Dumez