1964 Burgundy and Carrying the Fire by Michael Collins

•August 11, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I am thoroughly enjoying the 50th Anniversary Edition of Michael Collins’ Carrying the Fire, An Astronaut’s Journeys. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this wine-related passage on page 69:

But if 1964 was for astronauts a year of technological doubt, a year for questioning scientists, engineers, and flight planners, it was also a year of great spiritual exuberance. We had not been with the space program long enough to become jaded by constant close contact with its marvels. Nineteen sixty-four was a great vintage year for Burgundy wine, as well, and it was a pleasure to know that the longer the wine waited in its bottle, the better it became—up to a point. When the time to drink came, years later, in some cases it would be harsh and bitter, but in others delicious and rewarding past expectation. Nineteen sixty-four was a year of promise, a year without manned space flights, but a year in which knowledge was being harvested and bottled for future use. Wise or not, we were on our way, and I remember 1964 as a vintner might: “Young, still tasting of tannin, rough around the edges, but solid, with body, a spicy bouquet, and a strength suggesting greatness in five years’ time.”


I highly recommend this book. Collins is an excellent writer who injects a keen sense of humor and a refreshing dose of humility into his storytelling. The Burgundy reference was a surprising bonus!

2002 Krug Clos du Mesnil WASN’T the Star on this Special Day

•January 13, 2019 • Leave a Comment

The star was my beautiful, delightful bride, Mary. The happiest day of my life occurred on November 17 and we were fortunate to share a very special bottle of Champagne to commemorate this life-changing day: 2002 Krug Clos du Mesnil. If there is ever an event to enjoy such a unique bottle, our wedding—the most important day of our lives—was certainly it. 2002 Clos du Mesnil is a profound wine with creamy layers of flavors,

an exquisite mousse, and a long, complex finish. It was such an incredible pleasure to enjoy and share this Champagne; we’re looking forward to the next bottle, probably on our anniversary! Thank you to Kaysha Weiner Photographer for both the amazing photos, and friendship.


•May 29, 2018 • Leave a Comment

May is Oregon Wine Month and I would like to share some information and thoughts about some of the delicious Pinot Noirs from Jackson Family Wines that I have been fortunate to work with over the past few weeks.


2015 Penner-Ash Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Lynn Penner-Ash is a superstar Oregon winemaker who just completed her 30th vintage in Oregon, and 36th overall. Her wines have been served five times at the White House, including the screw-capped Viognier served at a State Dinner for the president of China. Lynn describes this 2015 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir as spiced plum and dark chocolate with cherry notes and a hint of oak, and a balanced, round structure finishing with a rich lushness. It is sourced from several Willamette Valley vineyards, including Aegrina, Gran Moraine, Zena Crown and the Estate Vineyard at Penner-Ash in Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Wine Spectator awarded this wine with 92 Points in its October 2017 issue. Visit Penner-Ash at https://www.pennerash.com

2016 Siduri Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Please see my post below on Siduri’s 2016 Lemoravo Pinot Noir and background on Winemaker Adam Lee and Siduri Winery. The 2016 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is sourced from vineyards in three AVAs: Yamhill-Carlton, Chehalem Mountains, and Eola-Amity. Adam characterizes this gem as medium-bodied, with fresh red and blue fruit, with faint hints of earth and leather. Because of the good acidity on the finish, he believes it will be carried forward with the promise of a long life ahead. James Suckling gave this Pinot a 91-Point score at JamesSuckling.com. Please visit Siduri at https://www.siduri.com

2015 La Crema Willamette Valley Pinot Noir


La Crema is the famous winery well-known for its incredible Sonoma Coast and Monterey Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, as well as small production single vineyard and AVA wines. This amazing winery, founded in 1979 also produces distinct Oregon wines including this Willamette Valley version and several sub-AVAs, including Eola-Amity Hills and Yamhill-Carlton. The 2015 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir was sourced from eight distinct vineyards in the Willamette Valley, including Gran Moraine vineyard in Yamhill-Carlton and Zena Crown vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills. Winemaker Craig McAllister describes this Pinot Noir on the nose as violets, star anise, marionberry and bay leaf. On the plate there is raspberry, boysenberry, coffee bean, dark spice and orange zest. It is an elegant wine with supple tannins and a touch of cedar that adds complexity and length. This bottling received a 91-point score from Wine Spectator. You can learn more about La Crema at https://www.lacrema.com.

2015 WillaKenzie Pinot Noir Gisèle

WillaKenzie is named after the sedimentary soil where the estate is planted. This soil, in turn, is named after Oregon’s two major rivers, the Willamette and the McKenzie, which eventually meet in Eugene. The estate was founded in 1992 by Bernard Lacroute in Yamhill-Carlton and it was the first LIVE certified winery in the Northwest. This wonderful wine, named after the founder’s sister, displays tremendous fruit intensity, reflective of the long, warm, dry 2015 growing season in the WillaMette Valley. This PInot Noir offers ample freshness, juicy red fruit and spice on the nose, carrying through to an approachable palate with wonderful fruit concentration and length. Visit WillaKenzie at http://www.willakenzie.com/home

For more information about Oregon wines, in addition to the above-mentioned websites, visit these resources: https://www.oregonwine.org/, http://willamettewines.com, https://yamhillcarlton.org, https://livecertified.org

Siduri Lemoravo Vineyard Pinot Noir

•January 19, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Adam Lee is the talented, colorful winemaker and founder of Siduri Winery in Santa Rosa, California. His wines are typically unfined and unfiltered, and I like to say that he also tends to speak that way. Adam is a Texan who moved to California over 20 years ago to pursue his passion for Pinot Noir. He and his wife, Dianna, founded Siduri, named for the Babylonian Goddess of Wine. I am extremely fortunate to sell the Siduri wines in California and I would like to elaborate on Adam’s efforts in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, in general, and the Lemoravo Vineyard specifically.

Adam makes Pinot Noir from six American AVAs: Willamette Valley, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands and Sta. Rita Hills. (Technically, Adam also makes a Pinot Noir from Chehalem Mountains AVA within Willamette Valley AVA).

SID_16_Lemoravo_PN_FIn Santa Lucia Highlands, Mr. Lee creates six single vineyard Pinot Noirs, including Soberanes, Sierra Mar, Rosella’s, Gary’s, and Pisoni. Lemoravo is the sixth and newest, and it sits at the southern end of Santa Lucia Highlands, almost directly below Sierra Mar Vineyard. Adam had been driving past Lemoravo for many years, checking out the grapes on the way to Sierra Mar. When he heard that some Lemoravo fruit was available, he started sourcing it in 2015 and used the grapes for the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA blend. He was so happy with the quality that he made it a Lemoravo Vineyard designate in 2016. Lemoravo gets its name from the crops originally planted at the site: lemons, oranges and avocados.

Here are Adam’s tasting notes for the 2016 Siduri Lemoravo Pinot Noir:

“The Lemoravo Vineyard is planted to multiple clones and, as much as I thought it would ripen (by clone), I actually found that it ripened from northwest to southeast following the sections most exposed to the wind off of the Pacific ripening quickest. We picked the vineyard in four passes, each one moving progressively southeast. The 2016 Siduri Lemoravo Pinot Noir shows a fairly classic Santa Lucia Highlands profile, with loads of concentrated red and black fruits, along with slight hints of dried herbs and even a slight dusty, earthy complexity. The wine is more seamless than heavy, with superb balance and a longer, lingering finish with just the slightest hint of finishing tannins (but good acidity). This wine drinks very well right out of the gate, but should certainly age for a few years with no problem whatsoever.”

I hope you enjoy this Pinot Noir; there are only about 150 cases available for the initial release.

When you are traveling in Sonoma, there are two distinct ways to experience the wines of Siduri: at the winery in Santa Rosa and at the “Wine Lounge” in Healdsburg, where you can also enjoy small bites and micro-brews on draft. Both venues are a treat—you can plan your trip at http://www.siduri.com.

Trockenbeerenauslese and Crljenak Kaštelanski!

•January 14, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Spectacular vineyards in Germany’s Mosel region (Anbaugebiete) above the Mosel River.

I recently sat for the Society of Wine Educators’ Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) Exam, which covers anything and everything associated with the production of wine around the world. It had been quite awhile since I had taken a deep dive into the wines of Germany, Austria, Greece and Eastern Europe, but the exam covers the globe and I soon had to be re-emerged into these diverse and exciting wine regions. I thought it would be fun to share some of the definitions and terminology from these unique areas that are included in the CSW curriculum.

Germany has 13 recognized wine regions called Anbaugebiete. They are further divided into smaller and more exclusive areas: Beriche, Grosslagen, and Einzellagen.

In Germany, this is the highest quality level designation. These wines must be produced from the 13 Anbaugebiete.

Subcategories of the Prädikatswein are based on grape ripeness and Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) translates to “selected dried berries.” These gems are considered to be among the world’s greatest dessert wines.

Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP)
The Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates was founded in 1910 to create the country’s first classification of vineyards. The four levels are: VDP Grosse Lage, VDP Erste Lage, VDP Ortswein, and VDP Gutswein.

Riesling is the most widely planted grape in Germany, but Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) is the most widely planted red grape and the third most planted variety (Müller-Thurgau is second).

Moving into Austria, the country’s Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) vineyards are divided into three Weinbauregionen: Weiland Österreich, Steierland and Bergland.

Within Austria’s three Weinbauregionen, there are four Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) regions called Weinbaugebiete.

Niederösterreich is one of the four Weinbaugebiete. The other three are: Burgenland, Steirermark and Wien. These regions are further divided into 18 sub-regions, which include nine Districtus Austriae Controllatus (DAC), considered to be the highest quality level in Austria.

Crljenak Kaštelanski
Croatia’s indigenous Crljenak Kaštelanski is thought to be the same grape taken to the United States and called Zinfandel, as well as in Italy, where it is called Primitivo.

Xinomavro, Agiorgitiko, Mavrodaphne
Three of the top red grapes in Greece, where over 300 indigenous grapes are planted. Moschofilero, Assyrtiko, Roditis are three of the top white grapes.

Onomasía Proeléfseos Eleghoméni (OPE)
This is considered to be the highest level for sweet wines in Greece. There are eight OPEs and they are indicated with a light blue seal placed over the bottle opening.

Onomasía Proeléfseos Anoteras Piotitos (OPAP)
This is considered to be the highest level for primarily dry, unfortified wines in Greece. There are 20 OPAPs and they are indicated with a light red seal placed over the bottle opening.

This white grape is the most windily-planted varietal in the country of Georgia, which has over 154,000 total acres under vine. Rkatsiteli is also the most widely planted grape in Eastern Europe.

All of this information (and more from the countries mentioned above) is included in the CSW curriculum which includes Australia/New Zealand, France, Italy, North America, South Africa, South America, Spain, Portugal, Grape Varieties, Tasting/Service, Viticulture, Wine Culture, and Wine Production. The Society of Wine Educators provides a wide variety of study materials and resources and I encourage you to reach out to them at www.societyofwineeducators.org.

Brewer-Clifton: Distinctive Wines from Sta. Rita Hills

•July 4, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Greg Brewer and Steve Clifton met in 1995 and created Brewer-Clifton with their inaugural bottling of 240 cases in 1996. They built their first stand-alone winery in 2000 in what later would become Lompoc’s “Wine Getto.” Sta. Rita Hills AVA was approved as an American Viticultural Area that same year and in 2001 Robert Parker announced that Brewer-Clifton was his “single greatest revelation of all of his 2001 tastings.” He put them on his list of 2001 wine personalities of the year and went on to declare that, “…their Burgundian styled Chardonnays and extraordinary Pinot Noirs from the cool micro climate of Santa Barbara, particularly those from the new appellation called Santa Rita Hills, are astonishing.”


3-D Vineyard: Brewer-Clifton’s first planting in Sta. Rita Hills AVA

After Brewer-Clifton was acquired by Jackson Family wines this year, Greg Brewer said, “The Jackson family maintains a commitment to world-class wines, a respect for nature and vision for uncompromising quality that’s very much aligned with our philosophy. I’m confident our collective strengths will further propel the Sta. Rita Hills on the global stage of fine wines.”


Brewer-Clifton Tasting Room at 329 North F Street, Lompoc, CA 93436

I am personally thrilled to have the opportunity to sell these distinctive wines and work with Greg Brewer and his team to share the Brewer-Clifton story and the unique terroir of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA.

Penner-Ash Wine Cellars

•July 23, 2016 • Leave a Comment

4.5 ton open-top fermenters at Penner-Ash Winery in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA of Oregon.