PinotFile: 10.17 September 18, 2015
- Further Commentary on High Alcohol Levels in Pinot Noir (Devil’s Spit)
- Small Sips of Recently Tasted Pinot Noir
- Small Sips of Recently Tasted Chardonnay
- Pinot Briefs
- Wines for Vegans
Further Commentary on High Alcohol Levels in Pinot Noir (Devil’s Spit)
High alcohol levels in Pinot Noir is clearly a contentious and polarizing topic. More readers of the PinotFile
responded to my recent feature, “Tiptoeing Around the Perception of Alcoholic Warmth in Domestic Pinot Noir,”
than any other article I have written in recent memory. Here are some of their comments summarized.
Scott Flora (proprietor and winemaker for Native Flora wines) wrote, “I liked your note on wine alcohols, as I
hate to get above 14% ever. One point you touched on (Aussie strain), but didn’t really explore is the
conversion factor for different yeast strains within the Saccharomyces family. Anecdotally, I’ve seen 24+º Brix
ferments only reach 13.5% ABV, and still be dry. Sugars are being converted, but not to alcohol. I have also
noted that the wild yeasts that we nearly always let run seem to produce a lower ABV than packaged strains
and this is one of the reasons I like wild yeasts.”
Chris Clark writes, “Thanks for the article on alcohol. I’m not a supertaster either, but have observed the
increase of alcohol over the years. I read the labels and it is difficult to find wines of modest alcohol. This was a
worthy issue to put on the table.”
William Jones told me, “I greatly enjoyed your article about ‘hot’ Pinot Noir. As usual, you brought a reasoned
tone to what is often a heated discussion (pun intended). What caught my attention was your connection
between ripe to overripe grapes and Brettanomyces. Can you point me to some articles about that please?” I
gave him two references: www.wineanorak.com/brettanomyces.html, and www.aromadictionary.com/articles/
brettanomyces_article.html. Jamie Goode (The Science of Wine) remarks, “A vital risk factor for
Brettanomyces is the presence of residual sugars and nitrogen sources left over at the end of fermentation.
With the gradual rise in alcohol levels over the last 20 years, the yeast commonly isn’t metabolizing the last bit
of sugar....A winemaker who is serious about managing Brettanomyces should work their vineyards to get fruit
maturity at lower levels of alcohol.”
Thomas Hughes said, “Your story about alcoholic warmth in Pinot was quite timely for me. I recently tasted two
Pinot Noirs with some friends. The 2011 Kutch Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir was very good, but I could taste a
little heat on the after finish. I noticed I wasn’t the only one. The 2011 Littorai Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir was
tasted side-by-side and it was very similar, but finished without the heat. Our group of tasters liked it better.
That caused us to check alcohol levels: the Kutch wine was 12.9% and the Littorai wine was 13.0%.”
Adam Lee, the winemaker at Siduri Wines, who appreciated the opportunity to respond to my article, had a
number of issues with my article so I chose to publish his extensive comments and my responses.
1. “I did fully agree with what I believe to be is the basic takeaway from the article, namely, your comment,
‘....the absolute ABV is not as important to the taster as the sensory experience. It matters little that a wine is
13.0% ABV or 14.9% ABV if the wine is perceived as hot.’ Certainly, as a wine reviewer, communicating that
sensory experience to the reader is incredibly important. What does confuse me a bit, is how you go forward
from that point to address almost exclusively the ABV of the wines you have reviewed over the years. Rather
than share with us the actual ABV of the wines that you have reviewed, why not share the number of wines
that you have downgraded due to perceived heat? Perhaps even correlate that to the reported alcohol levels
and/or classify them by regions. Given your statement that it matters little what the ABV is, this information
would seem far more useful to the reader.”
Answer: Your request for more information is understandable but unreasonable. I would have to go
back through thousands of tasting notes to find ones that contained a comment about alcoholic warmth
or heat to determine which wines were downgraded as a result and then correlate with the reported
ABV. I can tell you with great assurance that the vast majority of wines I have downgraded because of
perceived alcoholic heat have had a labelled ABV above 14.5%. I should have included this statement
in the article. That is not to say a wine with higher alcohol cannot be balanced. I had a 2013 Aubert
Ritchie Chardonnay this week that was 15.1% ABV on label and was impeccably balanced with
absolutely no sense of alcoholic warmth.
2. “You mention, ‘riper grapes have lower acidity and higher pH levels.’ While that is almost always true within
the same section of the same vineyard, it is not true from vineyard to vineyard, or region to region. Within the
same vineyard, one clone or one section may have higher acidity and lower pH levels at higher Brix than
another clone. This happens all the time.”
Answer: Your point is well taken. It is obviously a generalization but one that often holds true,
especially with high ºBrix levels.
3. “The study that you cite, ‘What Can the Brain Teach Us About Winemaking? An fMRI Study of Alcohol Level
Preferences’ is fascinating but particularly limited. The subjects of the study were Spanish citizens and the
wines used for the study were not Pinot Noir. Citing it ignores significant differences in national and cultural
reaction to alcohol levels as well as the differing interplay between alcohol and grape type.”
Answer: This is a well-cited article in a respected peer reviewed journal. Although the wines were not
Pinot Noir, they were red and were closely matched for all physical attributes except for alcohol content.
This study only begins to explore the complex relationship between a wine’s characteristics and the
consumers’ gustatory and neural responses, and obviously more study needs to be undertaken. I am
simply trying to make the reader aware of this study that had intriguing results.
Ethanol makes aroma compounds more reticent to leave solution. A 2000 analytic chemistry study by
Whiton and Zoecklein showed that as alcohol rose from 11% to 14%, there was a reduced recovery of
the typical wine volatile compounds.
4. “You write, ‘The higher the alcohol, the less chance the wine will be balanced.’ Not only does that statement
seem to somewhat contradict your earlier statement that it matters little what the ABV is, but it seems unduly
broad. Do you really believe that a 13% alcohol Pinot Noir is less likely to be balanced than a 12.5% alcohol
Pinot Noir. Is there no such thing as an unbalanced Pinot Noir because of too little alcohol?”
Answer: I still stand by my statement that the higher the alcohol, the less chance the wine will be
balanced and does not contradict my statement that lower alcohol wines can also be unbalanced.
However, that former statement may be a bit broad as you point out. Perhaps, I should have stated,
“Once the alcohol reaches a significantly high level, say 14.5% and above, there is less chance the
wine will be judged as balanced because of alcohol perception.” And yes, a Pinot Noir with too little
alcohol can be unbalanced, but not usually because of alcohol perception.
5. “You write, ‘Higher alcohol wines imply advanced ripeness of grapes at harvest, and this increases the risk of
Brettanomyces and bacterial-induced volatile acidity (VA) during vinification.’ A fascinating comment but not
one that I have seen much correlating proof for. The range of alcohol levels you cite from your tastings is from
14.7% down to 13.4%. If you have it, I’d love to see a study that shows an increase in Brettanomyces or VA as
that range increases. The sources of Brettanomyces in a winery and consequently in a wine are numerous but
I don’t believe I would point towards alcohol as the leading cause, but rather winery cleanliness. I might also
look towards fruit condition and winemaking decisions as sources of VA levels.”
Answer: Refer to the references on Brettanomyces above as justification for my statement. Low grape
acidity and higher sugars create a milieu that can predispose to microbial contamination, but are not the
major causes of Brettanomyces and VA as you point out.
6. “You cite some unusual conversion ratios of sugar into alcohol in your article. Can you tell us where you got
these numbers? Doing the quick math those conversion ratios range from .563 to .585. You later go onto to
write, ‘Since sugar converts directly to alcohol, this (an increase in Brix levels) indicates a corresponding 9
percent increase in the average alcohol content of wine occurred.’ And yet, from your numbers earlier, the
changes in conversion ratios indicate that sugars don’t convert directly into alcohol. What gives?”
Answer: The sugar to alcohol potential strength was obtained from the following chart. The chart
relates the three principal systems for measuring the sugar content of grapes (German, French and
American) to each other, to specific gravity, and the potential alcohol of the wine if all the sugar is
fermented. The chart was in my files and taken from a reference book, but I have misplaced the exact
ºBrix to alcohol conversion is as follows as you know: for every gram of sugar that is converted during
fermentation, about half a gram of alcohol is produced. The alcohol conversion factor can be between
0.55 to 0.64, so the conversion factors in this chart are reasonable.
I was simply trying to give the reader some idea of how ºBrix relates to potential alcohol and not meant
to imply these conversions are absolute. Perhaps I should have given estimated conversion ranges
rather than exact predictions. Actual conversion ratios are subject to variability depending on yeast
properties and fermentation conditions, so the final alcohol may be higher or lower than the estimate. In
addition, more accurate conversion ranges can be determined using glucose plus fructose (potential
alcohol = glucose + fructose g/L / 16.83) rather than ºBrix, but this leads to a rather technical discussion
unsuitable for much of my readership that is simply trying to relate ºBrix, a term they are familiar with as
an indicator for maturity of the grape, to final alcohol (ethanol) percentage.
Referencing the cited article in the Journal of Wine Economics, I was quoting the authors who stated,
“Since sugar converts essentially directly to alcohol, a 9 percent increase in the average sugar content
of wine grapes implies a corresponding 9 percent increase in the average alcohol content of wine (over
28 years).” The authors are making a general assumption which is fair enough in the context of their
discussion, although strictly speaking, as you point out, conversion ratios vary with different levels
of ºBrix. There have been a number of reputable reports showing a parallel escalation of alcohol
content of wine and increase in average sugar content of wine grapes. One of these studies in
California showed that the average alcohol levels in wine rose from 12.7% in 1971 to 14.8% in 2001 (an
increase of 16.5%), as the average level of ºBrix at harvest rose from 20.5 in 1971 to 24.2 in 2001 (an
increase of 18%).
7. “You mention the Australian Wine Research Institute study showing that some yeast strains are capable of
preserving flavor of fine wine at lower alcohol levels. While that research is fascinating, it has thus far only
been successful in the laboratory and only after the juice has been treated to remove all microbes. In other
words, it is incredibly preliminary and thus far not practical in the real world.”
Answer: I agree with your comments. However, it is well known that different strains of currently used
yeast have different levels of attenuation, so they will all convert different percentages of sugar to
alcohol. No reason to think that at some point yeasts will potentially be isolated and commercially used
that preserve flavor at lower alcohol levels (see also Scott Flora’s comment above).
8. "You write, When data from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario was examined, it was found that label claims
systematically understated the alcohol content of California wine and this was thought to result from a
perception that higher alcohol content diminishes the consumer value of certain wines. That’s a pretty biased
report of this study.”
Answer: The authors of the article in the Journal of Wine Economics were only expressing an opinion,
“was thought to result from,” although it could be interpreted as bias. That said, can you give my a
better reason why label claims systematically understated the alcohol content of California wine? Why
do a number of Pinot Noir producers put 14.1% ABV on the labels of practically every one of their wines
when it is highly unlikely every wine was bottled at 14.1% ABV? Is it simply they just don’t want to be
bothered getting it right?
9. “Lastly, you mention that the Santa Lucia Highlands is a ‘warmer Pinot Noir growing region.” I’d encourage
your readers to look at the following study on the region, which shows fewer Heat Summation Degree days
in the Santa Lucia Highlands than in the Russian River Valley or the Sta. Rita Hills and roughly in line with
the Santa Maria Valley: www.santaluciahighlands.com/wp-content/uploads/pdf/SLH%20Climate.pdf.”
Answer: I said, “The Russian River Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands, both warmer Pinot Noir growing
regions......” That should have been qualified by noting “in comparison to some of the other regions I
studied such as Santa Cruz Mountains and Marin County.”
In the report by viticulturist Mark Greenspan that you (Adam) encourage readers to look at, I would
point out that Heat Summation Degree Days is not the only relevant climate temperature data
influencing ripeness at harvest. Greenspan points out the importance of maxima/minima, extremes and
diurnal temperatures as well. If you look at high/low temperatures during ripening, Santa Lucia
Highlands has the highest average minimum temperature of every region studied and is second only to
the Russian River Valley in average daily temperature maximum during September. This is important
since the last month is most critical for ripening. On the other hand, the Santa Lucia Highlands shows
the lowest average diurnal temperature curve during ripening (18ºF) compared to Russian River
Valley (33ºF), Sta. Rita Hills (26ºF) and Santa Maria Valley (25ºF), which means cool, not cold night
Jeff Pisoni of Pisoni Vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands chimed in with some relevant comments on
the Santa Lucia Highlands climate. He also was alerted by my mention that Santa Lucia Highlands is
one of the warmer growing climates in my alcohol study. He believes, “The higher average alcohol level
in the Santa Lucia Highlands is due to the growing season being longer (starts early). This puts harvest
decisions in the hands of the winemaker, who can choose to pick later. For example, we are normally
the very first winery to harvest from our Pisoni Vineyard, with others waiting another couple of weeks
I admit that climate is only one factor in interpreting my data, and broad statements like “Santa Lucia
Highlands is one of the warmer growing climates” serves no verifiable purpose.
As John Haeger points out in his reference book, North American Pinot Noir, “It is surprisingly difficult to
collect genuinely comparable data about the main regions in which North America’s Pinot Noir is
grown.” In his excellent discussion of climate data of Pinot Noir growing regions, he fails to mention the
Santa Lucia Highlands specifically. A comprehensive and comparable climate study on the various
domestic Pinot Noir growing regions would be valuable, but would be a monumental and complex
It could be argued ad nauseam which Pinot Noir growing regions are the “coolest.” What I was
attempting to reveal in my study was the average ABV by vintage of 9 California major Pinot Noir
growing regions for the wines I tasted. For whatever reason, be it climate, length of growing season,
timing of harvest, soils, vine age, predominant clones, or undoubtedly a myriad of other factors, the
data still indicates that in every vintage studied, the average ABV was highest in Pinot Noir from the
Santa Lucia Highlands.
Small Sips of Recently Tasted Pinot Noir
It’s the dog days of summer and brutally hot and humid. I am reaching for an ice cold craft beer these days
and leaving the Pinot Noir in the cellar. Most all the reviewed wines that follow were sampled before the recent
heat set in.
Bernardus Winery, Carmel Valley, California
2014 Bernardus Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir Rosé
12.9% alc., 492 cases, $24, screwcap. A saignée
of Pinot Noir cold fermented in stainless steel to dryness. Sourced from 9 vineyards.
Deep pink color in the
glass. Satisfying aromas of strawberry, yellow peach, raspberry, cut grass and rose petal are repeated in the
flavors with added notes of cranberry and white peach. The wine has appealing roundness in the mouth with
moderate body. A perfect foil for grilled salmon from the barbecue.
2013 Bernardus Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 451 cases, $55.
“Pisoni clone” and Dijon “828.” 100% de-stemmed, inoculated with specially selected yeasts, aged 10 months
in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Highly aromatic,
featuring scents of crushed purple grapes and dark berries. A voluptuous wine with sustained mid palate
flavors of sweet boysenberry, blackberry and plum. Fruit-driven and somewhat monolithic, with firm, balanced
tannins and a luxurious, fruity finish that leaves some bramble and tarry oak in its wake.
2013 Bernardus Soberanes Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., 451 cases, $55.
Bottled August 2014. “Pisoni clone” and Dijon 667. 100% de-stemmed, aged in 100% French oak barrels, 40%
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Very shy nose, offering only a hint of dark fruits and
plenty of oak. Better on the palate, with a mid weight core of perfectly ripened purple berry and plum fruits.
This wine has much better vibrancy due to a vein of citrus-driven acidity in the background. Less fruit sap and
footprint than the Sierra Mar bottling, but less sweetness, more vivid fruit, and a more pleasing black cherry
2013 Bernardus Garys’ Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., 165 cases, $65. Bottled
August 2014. “Pisoni clone,” 100% de-stemmed, aged 10 months in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose offers oak-embellished aromas of fresh black
raspberry and blackberry. The flavors echo the nose in a rich, plush style that is fruit-driven. Muscular tannins
and oak make their presence felt. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked
bottle, the fruit aromas were more evident, the oak had assimilated, but the tannins still stuck out. On both
days, the wine had a hint of alcoholic heat on the finish. This wine currently lacks balance and nuance, but a
few years in the cellar may help some.
2013 Bernardus Pisoni Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., 449 cases, $70. “Pisoni clone.” 100% de-stemmed, several
inoculated yeasts different for each fermenter, aged 10 months in 100%
French oak barrels, 50% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in
the glass. Shy, but pleasant aromas of black cherry, blackberry and
black currant. Bold, but suave and charming, with a classy brew of dark
fruits, clove spice and toast. Obvious sophistication and polish, with a
firm but not imposing structure and an endlessly long finish. When tasted
the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the
nose was still shy and the flavors unchanged. This wine bill benefit from
further cellaring for 3 to 5 years.
Pali Wine Co., Lompoc, California
The 2013 Pinot Noirs are highly endowed with well-ripened, but not surmaturité fruit, and resulting high alcohol
levels. The wines are appealing for their upfront fruitiness, but at these high alcohol levels, the wines all taste
relatively similar. It is a difficult balancing act to harmonize the fruit load, high alcohol, considerable new oak,
robust fruit tannins, and lower acidity, but success was achieved in some of the wines.
2013 Pali Wine Co. Rancho la Viña Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.7% alc., 131 cases, $58. Bottled April 2015. This vineyard is
located on the western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Wine grapes
share the ranch with cattle, walnuts, vegetables and various fruit trees.
Clones 667, 115 and 777. Aged 16 months in 100% French oak barrels,
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Fresh and
lively aromas of cherry, strawberry, spice and sandalwood. A flirty wine
with plenty of charming elegance that is easy to cozy up to, featuring mid
weight juicy flavors of cherry and strawberry fruits framed by lacy tannins
and a bright acid spine, finishing long and generous.
2013 Pali Wine Co. Huber Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
15.1% alc., 627 cases, $58. Bottled April
2015. Vineyard dates to 1987, making it one of the oldest vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Norm and Troudl
Huber are the owners and caretakers. Aged 16 months in 100% French oak barrels, 50% new.
reddish purple color in the glass. Somewhat earthy and savory on the nose with scents of dark cherry and
raspberry and a hint of spice. Plenty of sweet, lush and well-ripened dark red and black fruit sap is brewed
with a compliment of earthy flora in this wine that sports balanced tannins and just a bit of inviting oak. A little
alcoholic warmth is evident on the finish.
2013 Pali Wine Co. Fiddlestix Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., 334 cases, $58. Bottled April
2015. This 140-acre Pinot Noir vineyard was planted in 1998 by Kathy Joseph. Clones 667, 777, 115 and
Pommard. Aged 16 months in 100% French oak barrels, 50% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Like a walk in the forest, this wine’s nose is alive with the scents of earthy flora and timber. Rich entry,
middle and finish with intense flavors of black cherry, blackberry and cola that coat the tongue. Silky, sleek and
refined with deft balance between the slightly astringent tannins and acidity, with the tannins and alcohol
supporting and not dominating the fruit. The biggest, boldest Pinot Noir in the 2013 Pali Wine Co. lineup with a
mighty and memorable finish.
2013 Pali Wine Co. Cargasacchi Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
15.5% alc., 43 cases, $58. Bottled April
2015. Peter Cargasacchi farms this 16-acre vineyard located at the western edge of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA.
Clone 115. Aged 16 months in 100% French oak barrels, 50% new.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the
glass. Plenty of bramble, earth and dried leaf complimenting the dark fruits and oak spice on the nose. Fullbodied
attack of blackberry and black currant flavors that enter stronger than they finish. The wine has a
woodsy, mushroom, rustic undertone, soft fine-grain tannins, integrated oak, and a fruit presence that builds
over time in the glass. The high alcohol lends a velvety texture, but leaves some heat behind on the finish.
2013 Pali Wine Co. Sangiacomo Roberts Road Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
15.5% alc., 117
cases, $58. Bottled April 2015. Vineyard planted in 1998 by the Sangiacomo family. Aged 18 months in 100%
French oak barrels, 45% new.
Moderate reddish purple hue in the glass. The nose leads with very ripe berry
flavors with hints of sassafras and sandalwood. Soft and velvety on the palate, with a charge of well-ripened
dark red and purple fruits engulfing the mouth with richness, accented with generous oak that contributes toast,
spice and dark chocolate highlights. The finish is well-endowed with plump fruit.
2013 Pali Wine Co. Durrell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 65 cases, $58. Bottled April
2015. Clones 115, 667 and Pommard 5. Aged 15 months in 100% French oak barrels, 50% new.
reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is very savory, offering aromas of dried herbs, clay and oak. More
savory herbs show up on the palate that displays somewhat closed fruit flavors of dark red berries, black plum,
and boysenberry, married to oak-gifted notes of marzipan and toast. The gruff tannins stick out in this rustic
wine which has a pleasing mid palate attack but a short finish that offers a bit of alcoholic warmth. May need
time to rouse itself.
Panthea Winery & Vineyard, Philo, Anderson Valley, California
Panthea is located in Philo, in the “deep end” of the Anderson Valley. The meticulously farmed estate vineyard is steeply planted to
California heritage clone Pommard and a small amount of Dijon clones in shallow and rocky soil creating low
yields. Owner and vintner Kelly Boss
has a background in farming who developed his winemaking skills through classes at University of California at
Davis and Sonoma State University. His hand’s-on training came working with Dan Sokolow of Raye’s Hill
Vineyard & Winery. This is a true family affair with no front office or year-round staff. The wines are sold
through a mailing list. Visit www.pantheawine.com.
2010 Panthea Siren Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.6% alc., pH 3,70, TA 0.54, 700 cases, $28. Grapes
sourced from diverse locations in the Anderson Valley. Pommard, Swan, Dijon and R31 clones. 100% destemmed,
whole berry fermented using wild and Burgundian yeasts after a multi-day cold soak. Aged for up to
22 months in 100% French oak barrels, 25% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered and aged 18 months in bottle
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. The black cherry, blackberry and
pomegranate fruits have a slightly stewed quality on the nose and palate. Silky and easy to drink, with supple
tannins and a hardy oak overlay expressed as marzipan and toast.
2010 Panthea Londer Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.3% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.54, 200 cases, $38.
Vineyard located in the “deep end” of the Anderson Valley. A blend of Pommard, Swan, Dijon 777 and 115, and
A2 clones. 100% de-stemmed, whole berry fermented using wild and Burgundian yeasts after a multi-day cold
soak. Aged for up to 22 months in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderately light cherry red color in the
glass. Nicely perfumed with scents of cherry, wilted rose, bark and cigar box. Light to mid weight flavors of
cherry, plum and spice aim to please in a gracious, demurely styled wine, with lacy tannins and some length on
the crunchy fruit finish. This wine is improving over time and has the balance to last several more years.
2010 Panthea Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.2% alc., pH 3.80, TA 0.54, $45. 80% Pommard and
20% Dijon clones. 100% de-stemmed and whole berry fermented using wild and Burgundian yeasts after a
multi-day cold soak. Aged for up to 22 months in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new. Bottled unfined and
unfiltered and aged 18 months in bottle before release.
Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Lovely
aromas of fresh crushed cherries, spice and wilted rose. On the palate, the mid weight core of black cherry fruit
is embellished with smoky oak flavor. An enjoyable wine with modest tannins, but lacks nuance and length.
2011 Panthea Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., pH 3.80, TA 0.54, 200 cases, $50. 80%
Pommard and 20% Dijon clones. 100% de-stemmed, whole berry fermented using wild and Burgundian yeasts
after a multi-day cold soak. Aged for up to 22 months in 100% French oak barrels, 45% new. Bottled unfined
and unfiltered and aged 12 months before release.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the glass. Plenty of
dried herb and sous-bois aromas arise with swirling, with some cherry notes in the background. Highly
enjoyable on the attack with flavorful dark cherry, raspberry and plum notes accented with a complimentary
infusion of oak, and somewhat grippy but not imposing tannins. The best feature of this wine is the finish which
offers a gorgeous peacock tail of red stone fruits that linger for at least a minute.
2012 Panthea Estate Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.72, TA 0.57, 300 cases, $55. 80%
Pommard and 20% Dijon clones. 100% de-stemmed and whole berry fermented with native and Burgundian
yeasts after a multi-day cold soak. The wine was aged in 100% French oak barrels, 45% new. Bottled unfined
and unfiltered and aged in bottle 22 months before release.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Bright
aromas of purple grape, boysenberry and lavender tend to fade in the glass over time. A mid weight plus wine
that is a bit tight and tannic now, offering an array of purple fruits and firm-handed oak. The tannins gain a little
traction on the generously fruity finish that reveals a touch of alcoholic warmth.
2012 Panthea Klindt Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
alc., pH 3.89, TA 0.57, 180 cases, $42. Pommard and Dijon 113, 115,
777 and 667. The 8.25-acre Klindt Vineyard is located in the “deep end”
of the Anderson Valley next to the Panthea Estate Vineyard and behind
Handley Cellars. 100% de-stemmed, whole berry fermented with native
and Burgundian yeasts after a multi-day cold soak. The wine was aged
22 months in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new. Bottled unfined and
unfiltered and aged in bottle for 12 months before release.
reddish purple color in the glass. The aromas of cherry, rose petal and
spice leap from the glass. The delicious melange of Bing cherry, spice
and savory herbs sings in harmony with the oak. The tannins are folded
in and the mouthfeel is full, plush and highly satisfying. The intense finish
hits all the right notes. Impressive.
Stemmler, Sonoma, California
The following reviewed wines are scheduled to be released in the fall. There are some changes in the wines
from previous vintages. The Carneros Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir continues to be sourced from the Donum
Ranch, but has been re-named “Lawler Vineyard,” after the road leading to the ranch, to emphasize that it
comes from a single vineyard. In 2013, a Winside Vineyard Pinot Noir is offered from the Estate vineyard
previously known as Nugent Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. The Carneros Pinot Noir is sourced from
multiple vineyards throughout Carneros, and is offered mainly to on-premise accounts.
There are 3 new wines in 2013: (1) the Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir that is a blend of Russian River Valley and
Carneros ranches and offered at a value-driven price point; (2) Ferguson Cuttings, which is sourced from vines
on the Donum Ranch grafted to cuttings from the Ferguson Vineyard; (30) Laura, a reserve wine from Winside
2 wines were produced from the Angel Camp Vineyard in Anderson Valley: (1) Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and
(2) “Whole Cluster” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.
The 2013 vintage offered a smaller crop than in 2012 with smaller berries and thicker skins. The result is
concentrated wines with notable tannins, but the tannins are ripe and not hard or edgy. All wines have been
aged over a year in bottle before release. There is an impressive consistency here in quality and nearly all of
these offerings would be highly enjoyable at the dinner table.
2013 Stemmler Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.77, TA 0.59, 1,052 cases, $28. Bottled
August 2014. 61% Dijon 667 and 115 and Pommard from Winside Vineyard, and 39% 777, 115 and
Donum clone from the Lawler Vineyard. A blend from many different fermentations. Aged about 10
months in once, twice and three-times-used French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish purple
color in the glass. The aromas of Bing cherry, raspberry, sous-bois and sandalwood are hi-tone and
penetrating. A satisfying mid palate attack of black cherry fruit carries over through a lengthy but
warm finish. Notes of ripe strawberry and anise add interest. This is a silky textured, value-priced wine that
aims to please.
2013 Stemmler Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.58, 264 cases, $44. Bottled August
2014. Fruit was sourced from 9 different blocks of the Angel Camp Vineyard. 37% David Bruce, Swan, Wädenswil and
Pommard clones, and 63% Dijon 115, 667, 777 and “828.” 100% de-stemmed, 4 to 7-day cold soak, aged on
fine lees for 9 months in 100% French oak barrels, 30% new.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The
nose is noticeably floral, with added scents of black raspberry, blueberry and forest floor. Concentrated and
sappy, with flavors of blueberry, pomegranate, black raspberry and strawberry. Very plush on the palate with
balanced tannins and an expansive fruit-filled finish that leaves a bit of warmth in its wake.
2013 Stemmler Anderson Valley Whole Cluster Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.91, TA 0.52, 48 cases, $44.
One ton of Martini clone from Angel Camp Vineyard went straight to tank. Once fermentation started after about 7 to 10 days, the grapes
were gently pressed to open the berries, and fermentation was allowed to continue at a slow pace. Aged on the
lees for 9 months in 100% once-used French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Enticing
aromas of black cherry, underbrush and potpourri lead to a mid weight core of black cherry and black raspberry
fruit accented with exotic spices. The slightest green thread in the background hints at whole cluster but is
complimentary rather than detractive. This wine has more firm tannin than the regular Anderson Valley bottling,
but is more nuanced and intellectual to drink with the whole cluster contributing complexity and interest.
2013 Stemmler Winside Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.59, 1,277
cases, $44. Bottled August 2014. Vineyard planted in 1997 under The Donum Estate’s guidance and vineyard
management and was recently acquired by the winery and renamed Winside Vineyard. 11 acres planted to a
mix of Dijon 115 and 667, and 5 acres of Pommard which came into production in 2011. This wine is 50% 115,
35% Pommard and 15% 667. 100% de-stemmed, 5 to 7-day cold soak, extended post fermentation maceration
of 2 to 14 days, aged on lees for 9 months in 100% French oak barrels, 40% new.
Moderately light reddish
purple hue in the glass. A complex array of aromas including spiced black cherry, cassis, hay bale and
mushroom lead to deep flavors of black cherry and blackberry fruits in a mid weight style with a tug of nutty
oak. Silky on the palate, with firm but balanced tannins, and a decent but not notable finish.
2013 Stemmler Laura Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.59, 72 cases, $44. In
2012, Donum Estate’s long time vineyard manager moved into the old farmhouse on the Winside property and
in 2013 his wife gave birth to a baby girl named Laura. In her honor, this special bottling was sourced from a
single block within the vineyard and selected from the three best barrels of Dijon 115 clone. Bottled August
2014. 100% de-stemmed, 6-day cold soak, aged on lees for 10months in 100% French oak barrels.
Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Brooding but pleasant aromas of blackberry jam, black
cherry compote, spice and earth lead to a delicious palate of mid weight plus dark berry and black cherry fruit
flavors that veer toward over ripeness but do not cross the line. An exemplary Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
showing the typical luscious fruit theme this region is known for. There is good harmony, with the alcohol and
tannins tucked into place.
2013 Stemmler Carneros Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.62, TA 0.57, 2,089 cases, $25, screwcap. Bottled
August 2014. Sourced from several small vineyards located over the southern, cooler part of Carneros. 100%
de-stemmed, aged in most older French oak barrels.
Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is
very shy and slightly reduced, with demure aromas of red berries and red stone fruits. The mid weight core of
dark red fruits is framed by chewy tannins, bright acidity, and heavy-handed oak. Lacks harmony and
2013 Stemmler Lawler Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., pH 3.71, TA 0.61, 903 cases, $44. Bottled
August 2014. Sourced from the Estate 45-acre vineyard of 20-year-old vines planted to 6 different clones in 9
distinct blocks. 40% 777, 25% “Donum clone,” 20% 115, and 20% Martini. 100% de-stemmed, 4 to 8-day cold
soak, and aged 9+ months in 100% French oak barrels, 20% new.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the
glass. Pleasant mix of cherry, spice and oak aromas. The mid weight core of black cherry and blackberry fruit
is fresh and ripe. The structure is in balance, the texture is smooth, and the oak offers welcome seasoning, but
the finish is modest and a bit warm.
2013 Stemmler Ferguson Cuttings Carneros Pinot Noir
pH 3.74, TA 0.68, 48 cases, $44. Martini clones planted in 1974 by
Thomas Ferguson were pulled out in 2010, but a block on the Donum
Estate Vineyard was planted with budwood from the Ferguson Vineyard.
Bottled August 2014. 100% de-stemmed, 8-day cold soak, post
fermentation maceration. After resting on lees for 10 months, two favorite
barrels were selected from the lot and blended and bottled.
light reddish purple color in the glass. With swirling, the aromas really
pop, including notes of cherry reduction sauce, baking spice and sweet
oak. Impressive on the attack, with an eye opening burst of black cherry,
boysenberry and spice flavors. Very charming in the mouth, with a soft,
seductive texture and a glorious finish replete with black cherry
goodness. This wine clearly stands out among the 2013 Stemmler Pinot
2013 Ferrari-Carano Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.72, TA 0.54, 5,197 cases, $36.
Sourced from three ranches in the Anderson Valley. Heritage and Dijon clones. 100% de-stemmed,
3-day cold soak, aged 10 months in 100% French oak barrels, 37% new.
Moderate reddish purple
color in the glass. Black cherry, black raspberry, cola and spice are featured in this wine which is
discreetly concentrated and forward drinking. The mouthfeel is silky, the suave tannins well
mannered, and oak plays a welcome seasoning role in the background. A solid Pinot for everyday
2013 Lombardi Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 48 cases, $38.
Sourced from Terra de Promissio Vineyard. Clone 777. Aged 17 months
in neutral French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the
glass. The slightest VA blows off upon opening revealing an inviting
aromatic bouquet of black cherry, blueberry, exotic spice, fennel and
sweet oak. Juicy and crisp with middleweight flavors of black cherry and
boysenberry and subtle oak-driven notes of molasses, vanilla and nuts.
The tannins are nicely merged making for current drinking, and the fruity
finish offers some length. When sampled the following day from a
previously opened and re-corked bottle, the nose was really alive and the
solid core of noble Bing cherry fruit was very inviting.
2012 Wedell Cellars Wavertree Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir
14.1% alc., 1,560 cases, $30. Bottled June 2015.
75% of grapes from a well-known vineyard just outside Sta.
Rita Hills AVA and remaining 25% for several well-known
vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Dijon clones. Harvest Brix
24.8º. 3-day cold soak, aged on the lees for almost 32 months
in a combination of 20% new, 40% once used and 40%
neutral French oak barrels.
Moderately light reddish purple color in the
glass. The aromas and flavors of blackberry, olalliberry, spice, smoke
and anise are presented in a forward, easy drinking style of that offers
good harmony. Bright and clean, with mature, balanced tannins, and a
suave finish that leaves a good impression. Additional time in bottle has
brought this wine considerable appeal.
2013 Wilde Farm Donnelly Creek Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
12.7% alc., $42. 50% whole cluster, ambient fermentation. Unfined
and unfiltered. Winemaker is Pax Mahle.
Moderate reddish purple color
in the glass. Demure aromas of black raspberry, exotically spiced cherry,
and rose petal leads to mid weight flavors of well-spiced purple fruits
accented with oak. The fruit is vivid and a bit sweet in flavor with a wellsustained
mid palate. There is some tannic astringency as to be
expected with the whole cluster but it is not imposing. This wine should
continue to improve in the bottle, offering more nuance and less dry
tannin over time.
Donnelly Creek Vineyard
Mary Elke, who owns and farms Donnelly Creek Vineyard, told me that she grows two clones that she
doesn!t think anyone else in Anderson Valley has planted. In 1990, she started Donnelly Creek Vineyard on
a site of abandoned pear and apple orchards. She obtained a planting lend from American AgCredit after
securing a long-term contract with Mumm Napa for the grapes which would begin production in year four. As
a result, initially she was looking for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clones that were known to be higher yielding
and suitable for sparkling wine.
Mary and her spouse had been growing grapes since 1978 in what is now known as the Coombsville AVA of
Napa Valley. In their vineyard, they had 4 acres of “Elliott” Pinot Noir clone for still wine that they sold to
Mondavi Winery. They were told that this clone was the old “Beringer clone” from the 1960s. The Elkes
called it “Elliott” because they got the budwood from a vineyard on Big Ranch Road in Napa owned by the
Elliott family. They took budwood from their Napa vineyard to Anderson Valley and field-budded about 6
The second clone is the “Stang” clone, most likely UCD 104 Pinot Noir clone. This originated from budwood
taken from an Alexander Valley vineyard owned by Mr. Stang.
By 1995, the Elkes were experimenting with small lots of these two clones for still wine under the Elke label.
Since site trumps clone, they found that while they had selected the clones for sparkling wine, when grown in
Anderson Valley they produced beautiful still wines. Then in 1998, the Elkes added some Pommard 5 to their
Pinot Noir that they had planted in 1995.
The Elliott clone usually ripens early, is slightly lighter in color, and has great cedar spice notes. The Stang
clone provides structure to the wine and notes of blueberry and raspberry. FEL, Saintsbury and Elke have all
used the Stang clone in their Donnelly vineyard designate wines. Elke Donnelly Vineyard Pinot Noir is 25%
Elliott, 25% Stang and 50% Pommard 5.
Small Sips of Recently Tasted Chardonnay
2013 Bernardus Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
15.4% alc., 412 cases, $40. Bottled August 2014.
Vineyard owned and farmed by Gary and Rosella Franscioni. Dijon
clone. Whole cluster pressed, fermented using a variety of specially
selected yeasts. 100% malolactic fermentation, lees stirring every two
weeks until shortly before blending and bottling. Aged in 40% new
French oak barrels.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas
of lemon curd, tropical fruits and kiwi lead to a rich and creamy palate
displaying ripe yellow orchard fruits with a hint of lemon and pineapple,
and a tug of buttery oak that shows up for an encore on the strong finish
that is flush with generous fruit concentration. Nicely done in this style.
2013 Bernardus Soberanes Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
14.7% alc., 302 cases, $40.
Bottled August 2014. Vineyard located just south of Garys’ Vineyard that is owned and farmed by Gary Pisoni
and Gary Franscioni. Whole cluster pressed, fermented with a variety of specially selected yeasts. 100%
malolactic fermentation, lees stirring every two weeks until shortly before blending and bottling. Aged in 40%
new French oak barrels.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. The nose offers oak-driven aromas of
roasted nuts, incense, and toast, with a bit of flint. A robust wine offering upfront sappy flavors of grilled citrus,
baked apple, poached pear and lemon butter, flanked by significant oak notes of caramel, toffee and toast. This
wine will appeal to those who like a notable mantle of oak in Chardonnay.
2013 Bernardus Sierra Mar Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
14.9% alc., 502 cases, $40.
Bottled August 2014. Vineyard planted and farmed by Gary Franscioni. Wente clone and Dijon clones 95 and
96. 100% malolactic fermentation, lees stirring every two weeks until shortly before blending and bottling. Aged
in 40% new French oak barrels.
Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Reduced, flinty aromas dominate
upon opening, transforming to notes of ripe apple, lemon and papaya over time. A very ripe fruit profile
includes ostentatious flavors of grilled citrus, apricot, pear and crème caramel. Slightly viscous, with a long kiss
of oak on the finish.
2013 Duckhorn Napa Valley Chardonnay
14.1% alc., 14,000 cases, $35. Sourced from cooler vineyards in
the Napa Valley. 45% malolactic fermentation. Aged in 45% new French oak and a small amount of stainless
Very light golden yellow color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with scents of pear, white orchard fruits and
lemon oil. Admirable composure, with a pleasing core of white peach, pear, lemon pie and pineapple flavors
backed by a subtle mantle of nutty oak. Slightly viscous in the mouth and easy to drink, but lacking a bit of
spirited concentration on the finish.
2013 Gary Farrell Olivet Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay
13.8% alc., pH 3.33, TA 0.67,
987 cases, $45. Vineyard planted to Wente selection on AXR rootstock in 1975. Harvest Brix 22º-23º. Whole
cluster pressed, inoculated with Montrachet yeast. Fermented and aged in 40% new French oak barrels. After
8 months of aging, a barrel selection led to this single vineyard wine.
Light golden yellow color in the glass.
With some swirling, inviting aromas of peach, lemon drop, white flower and nut oil emerge. On the palate, the
wine has a balanced interplay between the discreet richness of yellow peach and apricot fruits and bright,
sound, mineral-infused acidity. The finish is particularly notable, grabbing hold for an extended time and
seducing with a silky, bracing demeanor. Tasted twice: this was the best bottle.
2013 J. Lohr Arroyo Vista Arroyo Seco Monterey Chardonnay
14.9% alc., pH 3.51, TA 0.66, RS
0.29, 7,002 cases, $25. Estate grown composed mainly of Dijon clone 76, with small amounts of
Dijon clones 95 and 548. Harvest Brix 26.9º. Whole cluster pressed, cold settled, barrel fermented,
100% malolactic fermentation, weekly stirring of lees up to 10 months post malolactic fermentation,
aged in 100% French oak barrels, 54% new.
Moderately light lemon color in the glass. Shy aromas
of citrus blossom, juniper berry and nut oil. Full-bodied and opulent, with ripe flavors of lemon cream
pie, pineapple, grilled yellow peach and enhancing oak-driven notes of roasted nuts and caramel.
There is enough sound acidity to tame the flamboyant fruit.
2013 Lombardi Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.5% alc., pH 3.42, TA 0.60, 48 cases, $36. Bottled April 27,
2015. Barrel fermented and aged 18 months in neutral French oak.
Moderately light golden yellow color in the
bottle. A hint of flinty reduction upon opening transforms to pleasing aromas of lemon oil, kiwi and vanilla. The
flavors of lemon-lime, apple and peach are vivid with oak playing a complimentary seasoning role. Soft and
slightly viscous in the mouth, with an uplifting and cleansing finish.
2013 Migration Russian River Valley Chardonnay
alc., 14,300 cases, $32. Grapes are sourced from the cool
Green Valley of Russian River Valley region. 75% malolactic
fermentation. 10% of wine aged in stainless steel.
yellow color in the glass. Complex and enticing aromas of
lemon oil, white stone fruits, honeysuckle, vanilla and blonde
caramel. Bright, refreshing and tasty, with mid palate flavors of
white peach, pear and subtle nutty oak, finishing with a burst of lemon driven
juiciness. This wine is easy to like with its polished texture and
2013 [Noble Vines] 446 San Bernabe Vineyard Monterey Chardonnay
14.5% alc., $12. Part of the Delicato
Family Vineyards portfolio. A single vineyard wine at this price point is a rarity. The grapes are Martini
clone 4 and are planted in block 46 of the vineyard = “446.” 50% malolactic fermentation.
golden yellow color in the glass. Slightly creamy on the palate, this wine has bright flavors of apple,
pear, melon and vanilla cream, and aims to please with an uplifting spring in its step. Among the
oceans of Chardonnay in the marketplace, this wine stands out at its price point (I have seen it marked down to $9.99). Widely distributed.
2013 Pali Wine Co. Huber Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay
14.3% alc., 886 cases, $39, screwcap.
Bottled November 2014. First release from this vineyard. Barrel fermented and aged 12 months in 100%
French oak barrels, 30% new, 70% neutral.
Light golden straw color in the glass. Fruit aromas of green apple
and lemon are framed with a note of flinty minerality. On the palate, a good cut of acidity underlies a pleasing
melange of apple and citrus flavors that have some length on the bright finish. Slightly creamy and
unpretentious, with fruit at the forefront and very little, if any, oak intrusion.
2013 Rally Point Wines Limited Production Russian River Valley Chardonnay
14.1% alc., 168 cases, $38. Released May 2015. Native
fermentation with primary lasting 1-2 months in French oak barrels and a
temperature-controlled concrete egg. Aged on the lees, then racked into
a tank for another three months for clarification. Bottled unfined and
Winemaker Tim Burgess says that this is a “Chardonnay for
people who don’t like Chardonnay,” and he has that right. This is not an
opulently fruited and oaked style of wine that we have come to associate
with a number of Russian River Valley Chardonnay offerings. Light
golden yellow color in the glass. The nose offers an interesting mix of
leesy, nutty aromas dancing with subtle fruit notes of green apple. Bright
and clean on the palate, with flavors of lemon-lime, green apple, peach
and subtle nutty oak, and offering a pleasing suavity of texture, this wine
has consummate balance and drinkability. Highly food friendly, this is a
Chardonnay that doesn’t tire your palate, but rather entices more over time in the glass. My wife is somewhat
of a Chardonnay connoisseur and she loved this wine.
Many Events on the Fall Horizon
Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting Event: Tuesday, October 20, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., city View at
METREON, San Francisco. Tickets on sale September 20 @
Fort Ross-Seaview Harvest Festival: October 17, Fort Ross State Historic Park, Jenner. Food trucks,
music, tasting of wines from members of Fort Ross-Seaview Winegrowers Association. Optional Grand
Lunch prepared by local chefs. Details and tickets @ www.fortross.org.
Pinot on the River: October 25, Healdsburg. 100 wineries, artisan food vendors, outdoors at the city’s
central Healdsburg Plaza. $75 in advance. Visit www.pinotfestival.com.
6th Annual Russian River Valley “Single Vineyard Night”: More than 30 of Russian River Valley’s
wineries will gather for two tasting events in November celebrating vineyard designate wines. The first
evening is November 4 at the Golden Gate Club at the Presidio in San Francisco and the second is in
Sacramento at Tsakopoulos Library Galleria on November 12. For a list of participating wineries and
tickets, visit the Russian River Valley Winegrowers (RRVW) website at www.rrvw.org.
Big Sur Food & Wine Festival: November 5-7, details forthcoming. Website is
Harvest on the Coast: November 6-8. Grand Tasting and Wine Auction, “Crafted on the Coast”
Winemaker Dinner, and “Slider Sunday” at local wineries. Save $20 on tickets when book your stay in
17th Annual Wine & Food Affair: November 7-8, 11:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. each day. A weekend of wine and
food pairing at over 100 wineries. $70 for the weekend. Tickets on sale now @ www.wineroad.com.
¡Salud! The Oregon Pinot Noir Auction. Some of Oregon’s foremost wineries debut the 2014 vintage
and offer their ¡Salud! Cuvées - collectible Pinot Noirs crafted exclusively for the auction. Cuvée Tasting
and Big Board Auction Friday, November 13, at Ponzi Vineyards, and Dinner and Auction Gala
Saturday, November 14, at The Allison Inn & Spa. Tickets are now available at www.saludauction.org.
Pinot Days Southern California: November 14, Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles. Winemaker events
at restaurants and wine venues around town preceding the Grand Festival. Trade Tasting 12:00 p.m.-
2:00 p.m., Public tasting 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., VIP Tasting 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.. Tickets available @
September is California Wine Month. There are many other events scheduled. For a complete listing by region
of all the activities go to www.discovercaliforniawines.com.
Many New Books for Fall Reading
The Essence of Wine: Celebrating the Delights of the Palate, Alder Yarrow and Leigh Beisch
An Unlikely Vineyard: The Education of a Farmer and Her Quest for Terroir, Deidre Heekin
The Wine Bible 2nd Edition, Karen MacNeil
The History of Wine in 100 Bottles: From Bacchus to Bordeaux and Beyond, Oz Clarke
Oz Clarke: Grapes & Wines: A Comprehensive Guide to Varieties and Flavours, Oz Clark and Margaret
Wine: Everything You Need to Know About Wine from Beginner to Expert, James Waldorf
Wine in Words: Notes for Better Drinking, Lettie Teague
Shadows in the Vineyard: The True Story of the Plot to Poison the World’s Greatest Wine, Maximillan
The Drinkers Guide to Healthy Living, Gerald Facciani. A sober assessment of the benefits and dangers
American Wine: A Coming-of-Age Story,Tom Acitelli
Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine, Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack. From the creators of
WineFolly.com, this is a unique infographic wine book. Highly recommended.
Long Meadow Ranch Buys Corby Vineyard Napa-based Long Meadow Ranch has bought 145
acres in Anderson Valley owned by the Corby family that includes 69 acres of vineyards. The wines from this
property will be crafted by Stephane Vivier, who comes for HDV in Carneros where he was the winemaker for
more than 10 years.
Oeno™ Vaults This wine cellaring company is located in Sonoma County and is a unique off site facility.
The company will pick up your wine from any area winery in a refrigerated truck and take it to the wine storage
facility. Your inventory is available online or through a mobile app. The wines are stored in an armed, climate
controlled private vault with 24 hour surveillance and climate monitoring. Wines can be shipped at your
convenience from your vault throughout the United States on demand. For more information, visit
Gallo Acquires Talbott Vineyards in Monterey E. & J. Gallo has acquired Talbott Vineyards,
one of California’s largest estate grown wine producers. The winery was founded in 1982 by Rob Talbott and
specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The purchase will include the Sleepy Hollow Vineyard.
IPOB Announces 2016 New Winery Members There are five new members of In Pursuit of
Balance, including Mignanelli Winery, Poe Wines, Presqu’ile Winery, Small Vines Wines and Thomas Fogarty
Winery. Membership in IPOB is determined by a committee of wine professionals based upon a blind tasting.
Membership is valid for two years and every two years each winery must resubmit to continue their
membership. IPOB 2016 event schedule coming soon. Visit www.inpursuitofbalance.com.
Wine Magically Appears Free! View video: http://www.flixxy.com/americas-got-talent-winner-matfranco-
Krug Champagne for the Holidays Krug is offering the Krug Sharing Set, a special gift box for the
Champagne lover. Each customizable dark cherry box includes two specially designed “Joseph” crystal
glasses by Riedel, named after the House’s visionary founder, along with a bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée. The
Krug Sharing Set will be available nationally in November for $220. The unique story behind each individual
bottle can be discovered by entering the Krug ID, a six digit number on the back label on the Krug app or
BigMouth Inc. Novelty Wine Products The Ultimate Wine Bottle Glass holds a full bottle of wine and The World's Largest Wine Glass holds up to three bottles of wine. A musical corkscrew plays the song "O'Sol Mio" while opening up your favorite wine. Tipsy Wine Glasses are made with slightly bent stems so they appear to lean. BigMouth Inc. products are fun gifts that are available in nationwide retailers including Walmart, Target and online at Amazon.com. The catalog is online at www.bigmouthinc.com/CATALOG-VIEW.
Open Your Wallet and say, “Pinot” I looked at the average retail price of all the California Pinot
Noir from all major Pinot Noir producing regions I had reviewed since 2008 in the PinotFile: 2008 $48, 2009
$47, 2010 $49, 2011 $50, 2012 $50. Remember, these are primarily ultrapremium Pinot Noirs. Although this
shows only a modest increase in average price over the 5-year period of $2-$3, a more dramatic increase is
evident when regions are studied individually:
Wines for Vegans
Strict vegans can find it challenging to determine which wines are vegan since the wine’s label will not always
provide the information that qualifies where or not the wine in the bottle is vegan.
Many wines are “fined,” meaning animal-based products such as albumin (egg whites) or isinglass (a fish
byproduct) are used to clarify wine. Although these animal-derived products are removed before a wine is
bottled, the wine might not be considered strictly vegan. Some wines are also filtered through animal
byproducts before bottling.
Current labeling laws do not require a listing of animal-derived products used in vinification or the admission
that the wine is unfined and or unfiltered. Wines that are unfined and unfiltered before bottling are considered
vegan. Organic or biodynamic wines may or may not be vegan.
A vegan who wants to drink wine should contact the producer of the wine of interest to see if it is vegan. You
can also visit the website, www.barnivore.com, for a listing of vegan wines. Another useful resource are the
employees at Trader Joe’s markets since they can access a list of all their vegan products, including wine.
Many small production domestic Pinot Noirs are unfined and unfiltered and qualify as vegan.
Pinot Noir is a very vegan-friendly wine since it matches with a wide variety of vegetables such as mushrooms,
sweet red bell peppers, tomatoes, red beets, carrots, caramelized onions as well as fruits such as black
cherries, figs, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, plums and currants. Pinot Noir particularly shines with Asian
flavors such as hoison, seaweed, fennel, sesame oil, and mild teriyaki.