In case you’re a few issues behind in your wine periodicals, let me remind you that ‘Antica Terra’ is the Oregon winery co-founded by Maggie Harrison, who tutored under Manfred Krankl down at Sine Qua Non. Her wines are beautifully crafted, and for a short time are available on pre-release. Prices go up after the order deadline!
Order now – my deadline is Wednesday, 9-7-2016
PHONE ORDERS ONLY #866-746-7293
Arrival expected by October 1, 2016
Maggie feels her 2014 Antica Terra wines are among the finest she’s ever made. And that’s saying something, given that her wines routinely enjoy scores in the rarified air that exists well north of ‘90 points’.
“Maggie Harrison, who learned the winemaking ropes under the tutelage of Manfred Krankl at Sine Qua Non, has emerged as one of the country’s most talented young winemakers. That’s the case at Antica Terra (including Chardonnay and a remarkable pink wine) as well as with her bottlings based on Rhône varieties from California’s Central Coast that are produced under her Lillian label.” Josh Raynolds – Vinous
“2014 Another Vintage of a Lifetime? I had the chance to taste a number of barrel samples from 2014, as well as a few bottled wines back at home in recent weeks. As improbable as it may sound, 2014 is shaping up as a vintage that’s at least the equal of 2012. The growing season remained almost two weeks ahead of schedule all year thanks to an early flowering and to consistently warm, dry weather—and warm nights—through the spring and summer.” Josh Raynolds – Vinous
____2014 Chardonay “Aurata” $480, 6/750ml ORANTCHA14
“In sourcing chardonnay, we looked to the Shea Vineyard because it is one of the places that we find real depth and intensity in our red wines. The Shea vineyard has shown the ability to hold onto acid and deliver a deeply expressive wine with astonishing persistence, and that’s exactly what we were looking for in this age-worthy Chardonnay.” 155 cases produced.
____2014 Rose Pinot Noir Angelicall $550 6/750ml ORANTROS14
In this conventional sense, ours is not rosé; but neither is it red or white. The liquid is macerated on the skins for a little over a week. Somewhere between the 6th and 8th day, the aromatics of the fermentation reach a peak of expression and fill the room with astonishing perfume. At this point, just before it becomes red wine, we siphon the juice from the fermenters and fill the barrels, where the juice finishes its fermentation and ages on the lees for a year before bottling. 210 cases produced
____2014 Pinot Noir “Botanica” $540 6/750ml ORANTPNB14 Botanica Pinot Noir
Botanica is always sappy and sanguine with a taste of wild rose, sour cherries, and blood orange. It is tempting to define it solely by its compelling texture and lush personality but there is a structural element that is equally striking. This balance between extraordinarily concentrated fruit and intense levels of extract is the essence of this wine. 600 cases
____2014 Pinot Noir “Ceras” $540 6/750ml ORANTPNC14 Ceras Pinot Noir
Ceras is Botanica’s counterpoint. Its color is more purple than red. It is more about minerals and herbs than fruit and flowers. It is a focused and elegant distillation of rock rather than an opulent cascade of fruit. It is an expression of the geology that lays beneath our land, the tart blue fruits of the coast range and the tender herbs that one finds amongst the trees and mushrooms of the Northwest forest. 320 cases produced.
Order now – my deadline is Wednesday, 9-7-2016
PHONE ORDERS ONLY #866-746-7293
Arrival expected by October 1, 2016
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Dave the Wine Merchant
By Catie Costa, author of “Love on the Rocks, A Positano Tale“
An Ode to Prosecco
I’ve long thought Prosecco to be the nectar of the gods. I mean, whatever the gods were drinking (at least the Italian gods), it just had to be Prosecco. I can’t think of a tastier drink (next to champagne, which I also adore) that complements so many dishes, yet can also stand alone.
Still, what makes Prosecco so special? What do we really know about Prosecco, you ask?
…Please, let me tell you:
- Prosecco was not always the name of the beverage. It was the name of the variety of grape. Duh. Ok, I didn’t know that either.
- The name of the grape variety was changed to “Glera“.
- In order to be labeled Prosecco, the wine must be made in a region or regions labeled as DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata).
- DOC regions are in Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Treviso
- Atop the DOC regions is the epitome of all Prosecco, those from Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore (DOCG).
- Most Prosecco today is extra dry (DOCG).
- Asti and Moscato D’Asti should not be mistaken for Prosecco. They are sweeter.
- The Bellini (Prosecco and pureed peach) originated at Harry’s Bar (an old watering hole of Ernest Hemingway) in Venice.
- A Rossini is another fruity Prosecco cocktail I think you’ll enjoy. Simply pour Prosecco into a flute with pureed baby strawberries.
- Other variations: the Puccini – Replace peach puree with mandarin juice. And then there’s the Tintoretto – replace with pomegranate juice. Fancy!
- Prosecco is a libation that does not age well. So upon opening the bottle, drink at once!
(Want to try a good Prosecco for a reasonable price? Dave recommends the Tiamo DOC for less than $20!)
About the author
Catie Costa has traveled all over Western Europe, with repeated trips to Ireland and Italy. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay area. She recently published a new fiction novel, “Love on the Rocks: A Positano Tale,” a story of two best friends, Kit and Bridget, who flee their humdrum lives in the States to spend an adventurous summer in Positano, Italy, where Prosecco, Nutella and romance abound.
As a rule, my wine club features unique wines. Wines from more obscure producers, grape varieties, and regions. But every now and then a member will ask why I don’t include some of the old familiar wines, wines of their youth, perhaps. So I’ve come to include a mix of wines, including the occasional Napa selection from smaller producers like Four Cairn, Midsummer Cellars, and Cathy Corison.
In general, after reviewing wines from around the globe, I just don’t see the value in traditional Napa Cabs, unless your goal is to hold them for future sale (only problem is, few Napa producers are crafting wines to age these days!) Don’t get me wrong, they still have great appeal, just not great value.
And this chart explains why – adjusted for inflation, Napa Cabernet grapes are at an all-time high of nearly $6,000 a ton!
Always pick up the phone? I know that seems like weird advice, what with more and more companies/charities/candidates employing an ever-expanding phalanx of thick-skinned sales people to call during
the dinner hour all hours of the day. It’s tempting to let all your calls go to voicemail!
But imagine what might have happened if you had ignored a call like this one, coming in from an unknown number…
“Hi honey, this is your father. I know we’ve never met, but after your mom and I split I went away for a long time. Like your mom, I too have terminal cancer and want you to know before it’s too late that you have a half sister. My brother and his wife are going to help you find her.”
That’s essentially the phone call that reunited Andrea and Robin McBride as they told us their story over lunch at San Francisco’s Sens restaurant on Thursday. The sisters now constitute a fair percentage of America’s female winemakers, and an even larger percentage of winemakers of color. And if we slice that pie even thinner, they are the only American winemakers who can call themselves “African American sisters”.
After meeting for the first time in 1999 (one was raised in New Zealand, the other in Monterey, CA) they discovered many similarities, including a love of wine. To make a great story short enough for the space available, in 2005 – the same year I launched the Sideways Wine Club (though their story is a bit more exciting) – they decided to become importers of New Zealand wine.
Their first shipment consisted of just a single pallet – about 55 cases, because that was all the cash they could afford to risk. It was hardly worth the paperwork! But they took those wines from account to account and through pluck, charm, intelligence and hard work, they leveraged that first pallet into a sizable import company with over a dozen representatives. Along the way, they related stories of how their gender and race led some to assume they were “the assistants”. They said they never took it personally, and just let their wine do the talking.
Their first venture into winemaking started in New Zealand, with a brand called Eco.love – three wines with a commitment to sustainable production that resonates with the female millennials that are their primary customers. Now they’ve partnered with Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines to launch their California brand TRUVÉE (Tru Vay – poetically enough, French for “to find”), introduced in January of this year.
The TRUVÉE brand has launched with two wines, each produced in quantities of about 10,000 cases, and each priced at $15.99 (retail).
TRUVÉE 2013 Chardonnay – this lightly-oaked wine (50% “with oak”, 50% Stainless Steel) is from a number of top Central Coast sources, Edna Valley, Bien Nacido, Chalone and others. Their goal was to span the Old World and New World styles with a wine that was in the sweet spot for what our industry classifies as “Super Premium” wines (keep in mind that only 4% of wine sold costs more than $20). This was a nice, every-day Chard that paired very well with all the dishes Sens served us on Thursday.
TRUVÉE 2013 Red Blend – A Rhône-style wine that blends Grenache (primarily San Benito), Syrah (Chalone), Zinfandel (Paso Robles) and Merlot (San Lucas Valley). Lighter-bodied and very approachable, I tasted the red wine with each of the dishes and it spanned nicely, the tannins sufficiently tame to pair well with Sen’s lower-fat Mediterranean dishes, and the acidity sufficiently high to remain refreshing.
All in all, I was pleased to discover the sisters and their wines. There are many, many good wines out there, but I suspect that five years from now this brand will be among the winners. Because even a good wine does better with a good story, and there is no better story than that of Andréa and Robin McBride. I wish them all the success they deserve.
In search of an affordable, dry Rosé you can drink from now until Thanksgiving? Look no further.
Aromas bound enthusiastically from your glass when you pour this Rhône blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault.
From Costieres de Nimes in the South of France (see map). This region used to be part of the Languedoc, but was re-assigned to the Rhône valley because the region’s wines more closely resemble those of the Rhône than the Languedoc.
Nicely crisp and refreshing. A staff favorite! Learn more here:
I’ve been wondering how long it would take for this to happen. German Pinots offer some of the most affordable and pleasurable discoveries any Pinot lover could wish for. So it was no surprise to see this headline in today’s issue of “The Drinks Business” publication out of the UK.
According to chef Martin Lam, interviewed for this article, it has helped tremendously that German producers are switching their labeling from the traditional German word “Spätburgunder” (SPATE bur gunder) to the more internationally recognized “Pinot Noir” (same grape, different name). But a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
I particularly liked Lam’s quote “…the top drops from Baden should be treated with the same respect as a top Burgundy“. And while this quote dips its toe into hyperbole, the truth is that the grape’s German name is a direct nod to the vines that gave birth to their vineyards, and the style is similar in its lightness.
The Baden area (Southwest Germany, see map) is East and a bit North of Burgundy, and this area is home to some of Germany’s best Pinots. I encourage you to ask for these from your favorite wine merchant, and to keep a watchful eye for some of them to appear in the Pinot section my own curated inventory at DaveTheWineMerchant.
Read the full article here – Lam: World is waking up to German Pinot.
P.S. For a regular source of new Pinot Noir discoveries, please consider my Pinot-Only wine club – click here for more info!
What a charming way to spend 82 minutes. Read the rest of my review if you like, but I won’t be offended were you to opt instead for a quick download, a bottle of your favorite bubbly, your favorite movie companion and a quick call to your boss apologizing for some sudden 24-hour malady.
What? You’re still here? Guess I’d better get on with the full review.
This film’s award-winning director, David Kennard (Cosmos, A Year in Burgundy) is based in Mill Valley, CA. This factoid has nothing to do with the quality of the film and everything to do with my desire to tip my hat to the talent pool in the Bay Area.
In this, his second of three “A Year In _____” films, Kennard has replicated his success with “A Year in Burgundy”, also a joint project with the esteemed wine importer Martine Saunier.
Martine has a fine palate – I lust after some of the wines in her portfolio – and she represents some of France’s finest producers. The fact that the wineries in Kennard’s film are limited to producers she represents takes nothing away from the film itself. Though it likely makes other importers greatly jealous, she likely took more flack from other producers SHE represents who didn’t appear in the film.
I intended to watch this movie on my own, but our 12 year-old daughter wandered into the room as I was starting the DVD, and she was sufficiently moved to watch the film to its satisfying end, enjoying the process of making champagne as told in each of the film’s four seasonal sections. She even asked intelligent questions, and for the first time understood how the secondary fermentation process creates bubbles in each individual bottle. I also think the riddling rack might have its next young Riddler in the wings, at least, until she tries the repetitive job for about ten minutes.
Kennard’s film is poetic, a paean to the featured wine region, without being cloying. The music and the photography alone make it worthy of your limited free time. But his film also provides intelligent insights into the essence of the region, into its wines, of course, but also the history, people and foods that are the foundation of these wines.
This is not a film for learning ABOUT wine. You can get the more raw information in far less time from any basic introductory text. This is a film that lends a better UNDERSTANDING of wine, and what makes them fascinating and uniquely different, one from the other.
Trust me, “A Year in Champagne” will leave any wine buff smiling. Especially if you follow my suggestion to watch it with a bottle of your favorite bubbly well chilled and close at hand.
Wine collectors on my special calling list know of my ongoing love affair with the wines of Cathy Corison. A lucky few were able to acquire a limited amount from my measly, preciously small allocation.
I’d discovered the sublime joy of Corison Cabernet almost two decades ago when I was lucky enough to attend a vertical tasting featuring five different Corison vintages. I remember each wine being delightful in its own right, with a recognizable style that bound the very different wines together – like siblings that have a strong family resemblance but entirely unique personalities.
Well, as part of her anniversary celebration, Corison flew to New York for a vertical tasting of ALL TWENTY FIVE of her vintages – 1987-2011 (her current release). Wine writer Eric Asimov tells you all about it here in the full article.
If my Lottery Picks were as prescient as my wine picks I’d be writing this from one of my homes overlooking a pristine beach.
What started my wistful thinking was the news in my inbox with the results of an interesting data analysis. A Pinot producer that was one of my early “bets” turned out to be the top-rated Pinot Producer on CellarTracker, the world’s most extensive database of wine tasting notes and ratings from wine collectors around the globe.
Go ahead, guess who it was in the top spot… Kosta Browne? Sea Smoke? Kistler?? Peter Michael??? Au Bon Climat??? All good guesses. But all would be wrong.
The top spot went to “Sojourn Cellars”.
When I first discovered their wine, six years ago, I knew they had something special going on. Owner Craig Haserot stood in my kitchen and poured six of their wines for me, and I selected their 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot for my “Pinot Selections” Wine Club. Despite their relaxation-inspired logo, they had just burst onto the wine scene with great gusto, and if you’ve ever met Craig you know that’s the only way he approaches everything in life. If you squint a little bit and employ just a modicum of imagination, his size and demeanor might remind you of another Sonoma pioneer whose surname started with “H” – one A. Harazthy.
According to the data analysis of Cellar Tracker, Sojourn Cellars out-ranked all of the prestigious producers listed above. And their favorable reviews are not limited to the online pinotphile, they’ve caught the attention of professional critics as well, rarely scoring less than 90 points from the likes of Wine Spectator, Pinot Report, Wine Advocate, et al.
I’m proud to have supported them in their early days, and to have introduced them to you, my friends. Congratulations to Craig Haserot and Erich Bradley.
(Note: I currently have a very small quantity of one Sojourn Cellars Pinot in stock. I recommend it highly. The 2012 Russian River pinot from Wohler Vineyard ($48)