Napa + Sonoma + Burgundy + Beyond

Today broke like any other. Alarm, bird song, coffee. A rush to dress and gas and nudge onto Hwy 17 towards San Francisco for a day of tastings and bubbles  studies.

No time to check social media. Until the first ping.

“Are you ok?” Ping¬† “?” Ping. “Fire in Sonoma.”¬†Ping. “Fire in Napa.” “Are you ok?!”

Ping. Ping. Ping.¬† Scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram brings a bombardment of incomprehensible images¬† –¬† images of trees, homes, wineries in flames. Wineries I recognize. Homes of people I know. Trees that once shaded memorable drives through remarkable Wine Country.

Napa and Sonoma burning.

And then reality intrudes. My reality. My wine writer life. Car parked, roster checked, spit cup and wine glass presented, and wine tasting begins.

Wines presented by importer+distributor Veritas Wine at High Treason for Becky Wasserman & Co., a bespoke Burgundian wine agency representing an elite portfolio of artisan domaines. Expect more on this bedrock of Burgundian wine culture in future posts.

But not today. Today thoughts and prayers go out to Napa + Sonoma.

You can find out more about how to help by following the Napa Register.

Learn more about Becky Wasserman & Co. here.

Learn more about Becky Wasserman in this interview on I’ll Drink to That here.

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes. All Rights Reserved

 

#wineStudio | October 2017 | #ConVal Prosecco DOCG

Welcome to the  Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG Zone!

It’s that time!

Do you like sparkling wine? What about affordable sparkling wine? What about a variety of affordable, quality sparkling wine from the hills of Italy?

Join me and my fellow #wineStudio virtual tasting community for this month’s scintillating program, featuring the remarkable sparkling wines of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G.

What you need to know:

What: Take a virtual tour of Italy’s #ConValDOCG wine region, and maybe learn a factoid or two you can use to amaze your friends and family.
When: Tuesdays, October 3rd, 10th, 17th, & 24th 5:45pm -6:45pm PDT
Where: Hashtag #winestudio – Twitter platform.
Who: Twitter handles to follow:
@binnotes
#winestudio @winestudioTINA
@ProseccoCV @AlanTardi @GregoryWhitePR

Participating Wineries:
@BortolomiolDOCG
@valdocaprosecco
@Masottina_Wines
@degliultimi
@bellenda1986
@malibranspum
@SpumantiColesel
@LeColture
#Conte Collalto

So much prosecco, so little time  Рhope to see you there! Ciao~

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes. All Rights Reserved

My Latest in BKWine Magazine: Tasting Notes on Graham Beck Bubbles

Dear Readers:

Links below to my Graham Beck Wines tasting notes available in BKWine Magazine:

Link to Tasting Notes from my interview with Pieter “Bubbles” Ferriera of Graham Beck Wines in South Africa published in BKWine Magazine here.

Swedish translation of my Graham Beck tasting notes here.

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Link to my interview with Pieter Ferriera of Graham Beck Wines in BKWine Magazine here. (Part 3 of 3-part series on artisan winemakers of South Africa.)

Link to  my interview with Bruwer Raats of Raats Family Wines in BKWine Magazine here. (Part 2 of 3-part series on artisan winemakers of South Africa.)

Link to my interview with Ntsiki Biyela, South Africa’s first black woman winemaker, in BKWine Magazine here. (Part 1 of 3-part series on artisan winemakers of South Africa.)

Link to my tasting notes on the wines of Ntsiki Biyela in BKWine Magazine here.

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes. All Rights Reserved

My latest in BKWine Magazine: Quality by Design at Raats Family Wines in Stellenbosch

Wines of South Africa: Part 2 of 3

Talking with Bruwer Raats, winemaker in South Africa

by L.M. Archer

The ghost of Gaston Huet looms large in the life of Bruwer Raats (pronounced brew-vay rahts) of Raats Family Wines in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Huet, an unbreakable French vigneron, survived a World War II Nazi concentration camp, then walked three days non-stop after release to make harvest at his Loire Valley domaine. Raats draws upon Huet’s inspiration daily as partner, along with brother Jasper and cousin Gavin, in his family’s Stellenbosch wine estate. Read more here.

 Swedish translation here.

Part 1 of 3: Ntsiki Biyela, the first black female winemaker in South Africa.

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes. All Rights Reserved

 

red Thread‚ĄĘ Exclusive: Jeff Emery | Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard

Welcome to binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne Master Level

Today’s Exclusive Interview:

Jeff Emery | Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard  | Santa Cruz, CA.

Author’s Note:

This exclusive interview with Jeff Emery of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard  also coincides with my new role as Santa Cruz Mountains news contributor for Wine and Vines Magazine. Serendipidity, indeed.

About Santa Cruz Mountains AVA

Approved in 1981, the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA claims fame as one of the nation’s first wine growing appellations defined by mountain topography. The region stretches as far north as Woodside and as far south as Watsonville, with elevations rising to 2700¬ļ. ¬†Coastal fog rolls inland and upslope, breaking across the Santa Cruz mountain ranges in stealthy, opalescent waves that coddle the vines, while diurnal shifts ensure vivid acidity.

Soils in Santa Cruz Mountains AVA range from coastal sands to inland clay, loam, limestone, decomposed rock, and exotic mineral deposits like graphite, gypsum, talc, melanterite (a greenish-blue crystal), and cinnabar.

These various components, combined with a multitude of microclimates, allow for varietals like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon to thrive.

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Serendipity:¬†the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.”-¬†New Oxford American Dictionary

Serendipity. It’s a word used a lot when talking with Jeff Emery, proprietor of¬†Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard (SCMV). Recently, I met up with the rangy, bearded wine maker at his tasting room and winery in the Swift Street Complex on Santa Cruz’s Westside.

Multi-tasking adroitly between delivery folks, his assistant winemaker, and thirteen-year old daughter, Emery engaged in the interview with thoughtful authority. His low-key demeanor belies a multi-faceted career, equal parts wine maker, mentor, Santa Cruz Fungus Federation founder, long-time folk music radio host and brandy blender. In short, Jeff Emery embodies the spirit of Santa Cruz  Рauthentic, diverse, and firmly rooted in community.

(This interview has been edited for clarity and continuity.)

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r/T‚ĄĘ: ¬† The original owner of Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, Ken Burnap, proved instrumental in mentoring you in your wine making career. In turn, you’ve mentored many local rising winemaking stars like Denis Hoey of Odonata Wines and your own assistant Cole Thomas. How has the Santa Cruz winery scene changed since you started working with Ken in the 1970’s? What part does mentoring play?

Jeff Emery: ¬†Mentoring young people has always been intentional for me, in large part because I came to this brand [Santa Cruz Mountain Winery] as a nineteen year old in the late 1970’s.

At the time, Ken did his own vine management, built a cement block storage house, and slept on a cot. The only other help he got was from a buddy named Bill Craig, also from Southern California. Then I came along as a third ‘part time’ position in 1979 [while a geology student at UC Santa Cruz.]¬†

 I started [learning about wine] by going to all the Santa Cruz Mountain Vintner (now Santa Cruz Mountain Winemakers) Association. It was when they were talking about starting a Santa Cruz Mountains appellation.

Two of the association members, David Bennion of Ridge [One of Ridge’s four owners at the time] and Ken Burnap [owner of Santa Cruz Mountain Winery] felt strongly that the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA [American Viticultural Area] needed to be based on unique, climactic geological issues, rather than broad, arbitrary boundaries. The appellation, approved in 1981, ¬†follows¬†their recommendations in 1981.

Fast forward to today, where I’ve gone from being the young guy in the 1970‚Äôs to ¬†‚Äėthe elder statesman‚Äô in 2017.

So my mentoring comes from Ken‚Äôs approach with me to demystify wine. Ken was very generous with his cellar, and I feel it’s my karmic duty to pass this along – wine should be fun, part of the table – ¬†it is a food, and a social ingredient.

As for mentoring Denis of Odonata¬†– that was¬†serendipity. I came to Santa Cruz Mountain Winery [initially] ¬†because a friend’s wife went into labor; he was suppose to help bottle [at SCMV], but he couldn’t, so he gave me a me a scrap of paper with an address¬†and told me to¬†go bottle for him.¬†

Same thing happened to Denis with me. Denis came to help me to help me move from the old Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard site to this new site in Santa Cruz, and ended up staying. Since then he’s moved on to found his own winery. Cole has done stages all over the world, including his most recent with Prophet’s Rock in New Zealand, and is starting his own brand. I also¬†help mentor through the UCSC Agro-Ecology farming program.¬†

r/T‚ĄĘ: ¬†When Ken Burnap sold Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard in 2004, what did it feel like¬†taking the ‚Äėleap of faith‚Äô to ownership of the business and label? How you were able to face your fears and get through the doubts and keep going?¬†

Jeff Emery: ¬†I [just] knew I wanted to stick with wine. Ken had other sources of income, and I do not. [Over the years], Ken kept checking in with me, asking “are you still loving what you‚Äôre doing?”

Finally, when he decided to retire [in 2002], the questions became “Will someone buy the winery?” and “Will I stay on to help out?” In 2004, he sold the vineyard, and by then I figured out how to buy the business; I was [already] running the books.

How did I take that and make it work? More serendipity.¬†In 2004, I met the regional buyer for Trader Joe’s Santa Cruz, who need a floor-to-ceiling wine display for his store opening. He ended up writing me a check for something like $40,000 worth of SCMV inventory.

But I also needed a place to make wine in 2004, and so through a friend of a friend learned about Bradley Brown at Big Basin Winery, [who at the time] had space to grow into. He and I worked out a deal РJeff made wines in 2004, 2005, and 2006. By then he’d grown into the space. 2007 was the hell year. But in 2008, this space [Swift Street Complex] came up when Boony Doon downsized. Since then, I have been taking a known winery into a viable business. Part of our success is due to this site. 

rT:‚ĄĘ¬† ¬†You also attribute your success to your second label featuring Iberian blends, Quinta Cruz. Is it true part of the popularity of Quinta Cruz stems from its wide embrace by Millennials?

Jeff Emery:¬† Yeah, Millennials are a large part of success of our Quinta Cruz wines, although¬†Americans in general are now getting past all the “shoulds” about drinking wines.

For Millennials, it’s more important to bring something new, rather than known, to the table. It’s the opposite for Baby Boomers, who want the known.¬†Millennials are also willing not to just pay for cheapest – they are willing to pay for the story behind it.

That said, we still need to capitalize on social media. Cole, my assistant winemaker¬†has been instrumental in that, but there’s still a¬†lot more storytelling to be told. There are so many wineries now – to be present in the market today, you really have to stick out. Story is what sells the wine.

As for the Quinta Cruz  label РI made those wines for my own amusement.

[Author’s Note: Emery’s business manager Bill Vieira Vroman is of Portuguese heritage, and spends part of every year in Portugal. Emery first learned of Iberian varietals during a trip to Spain and Portugal.] ¬†

When I got home [from the trip], I found some winegrowers here in California, like Markus Bokisch in Lodi, that grew them [Iberian varietals], so I bought some, thinking ¬†it would be a ‘wine club only’ thing.

As time went on, I felt it was important to create a separate wine label from SCMV. Luckily, the timing was perfect – ¬†Rhone Rangers had already laid the groundwork for non-traditional varietals. Plus a second label expands a winery’s appearance on restaurant tables.¬†

rT:‚ĄĘ What’s the history behind Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard’s link to Pinot Noir?¬†

Jeff Emery:  Ken [Belnap] is a big food and wine guy, former restaurateur, and a Burgundy lover. He couldn’t figure out why California Pinot Noir was so horrible. Ken spent a lot of time talking about this with wine maker friends David Bruce of Santa Cruz and Joe Swan of Russian River Valley. 

Eventually, from those conversations, Ken came up with a list of about thirteen criteria needed to grow good pinot in California, and felt that Santa Cruz Mountains offered all of them.

Meanwhile, David Bruce had purchased property in the Santa Cruz Mountains in the1960’s that had old-vine zinfandel on it. David Bruce made his last California Zinfandel in 1968, and in 1969-1970 he tore out the Zinfandel and planted Pinot Noir. 

Ken bought that site from David, and for two years Ken commuted from Orange County to the vineyard, until he sold his restaurant. Ken made his first vintage in 1975, and never looked back.

[Author’s note: Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard on Jarvis Road sits on¬†of California’s oldest continuously operated vineyards, Jarvis Brothers Vineyard, originally established ¬†in 1863.]

Talk about serendipity Р in 1974, Ken was drinking champagne with David when Ken decided to buy the Jarvis Road vineyard. Over the years, Ken would occasionally make bubbles from the second crop on the vines.

In 2004, when Ken sold the Jarvis Road vineyard, and I bought the business, we drank a bottle of those bubbles  Р and later realized that our celebration was almost exactly three weeks from the same date when he had celebrated with David Bruce twenty-five years earlier!

rT: Since you don’t currently own your own vineyards at Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, how¬†much control do you have over the vineyards where you purchase your grapes?

Jeff Emery:   Since I purchase all my grapes, I do have control. I wouldn’t have it any other way, especially picking, because most vineyards in California pick too late. Again and again, I’m the first to pick. I’m usually out there tasting the fruit.

Bokisch Vineyards in Lodi is the furthest away [where] I source, but I trust him. And at Pierce Vineyards  and Hahn are nearby, so I get many samples. So much about picking is to understand the gestalt of a vineyard Рhow they taste, feel, dimple  Рversus just analyzing numbers. 

I like ‘light on land’ practices. For example, Bokisch Vineyard is CCFF [Author’s Note: Bokisch Vineyards practices Lodi Rules, one of California’s earliest, and most stringent. sustainable farming program.] Pierce is sustainable, Hahn is Sip-Certified.

r/T‚ĄĘ: ¬† Let‚Äôs talk terroir. How do the various vineyards‚Äô microclimates and soil types inform the varietals you choose, and the wines you produce? ¬†Any particular area/vineyard/block that surprises and delights you each harvest?¬†

Jeff Emery:¬†The Branciforte Creek Vineyard is planted to Pommard, while the Bailey’s Branciforte Ridge Vineyard is planted to the Dijon clone. These vineyards are less than two miles apart, yet they have different soils, different clones, and different expressions of Pinot Noir.

Branciforte Creek Vineyard makes consistently amazing wine. It’s a true climat, with¬†huge diurnal swings that maintain natural acidity.

The [Luchessi Vineyard] Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard above Cupertino is also special.

r/T‚ĄĘ: ¬†In 2003, you partnered with local distiller Dan Farber at Osocalis Distillery in Soquel (‘Osocalis’ is the original Native American name for Soquel] making award-winning artisanal brandies. What made you want to get into the distillery business?¬†

Jeff Emery: ¬†Working at Osocalis Distillery allows me to push my craft. ¬†It’s important to rip the tablecloth off the table every once and awhile. We do all the blending through nosing. It’s all new flavors and ¬†blends for me, and it also makes red wine look like a fast cash business. We’re still sticking to the same traditional values and approach, which means we’re sticking to long-term goals.

r/T‚ĄĘ: ¬†Anything else you‚Äôd care to share with readers about Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard or any of your other projects?

Jeff Emery: ¬†I like to educate guests about history, food and wine, instead of just saying “Here’s the wine.” Stylistically, we try to set ourselves apart in this way – it’s what we’ve been doing for forty years – have fun, demystify wine, and hopefully introduce guests to new ‘flavors.’ And you might even run into a wine maker!¬†

r/T‚ĄĘ: ¬†¬†Finally, if your experience as a winemaker has taught you anything, it‚Äôs taught you‚Ķ?

Jeff Emery: ¬†¬†Collaboration. In Santa Cruz, [at Swift Street Complex] we all have our own styles, our own wines, we share the same labor pool and equipment, have the keys to each other’s places, and collaborate on tastings and events.¬†

It’s also taught me to be semi-proficient at running a 5,000 case winery. You have to be a pretty darn good mechanic, a good business person, know how to fix the forklift, fix the press, be a good logistics manager, and keep things flowing. I’ve learned to be a jack-of-all-trades. I hold one title while actually having many.

I’ve been through thirty-nine harvests, and each one is different – you never get the same weather, or same set of grapes, which keeps it fresh, so I can do it over and over.¬†I am constantly learning something new in my craft.

Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard
334‚ÄďA Ingalls Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060 ‚ÄstMap and Directions
831.426.6209
info@santacruzmountainvineyard.com

Learn more about Quinta Cruz Wines here.

Learn more about Osocalis Distillery here.

Learn more about Santa Cruz Mountains AVA here.

Learn more about Santa Cruz Mountains Vineyards Association’s upcoming Pinot Paradise here.

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More redThread‚ĄĘ exclusive artisan interviews here.

 

I want to hear from you! Please leave your comments below, and join the conversation on social media ‚Äď cheers!

 

Copyrighted 2017 binNotes | redThread‚ĄĘ. ¬†All Rights Reserved.

The Hedonistic Taster Celebrates the Solar Eclipse | ‚ĄĖ 27 | Brooks Winery | Willamette Valley

The Hedonistic Taster¬†| ¬†‚ĄĖ¬†27 | Brooks Winery – Willamette Valley, OR

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML

Tastevin

‚ÄúWine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a pleasure.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Henri Jayer

Welcome to The Hedonistic Taster*, an intimate showcase of artisan winemaker trade samples.

These tasting notes compliment ¬†binNotes | Affordable¬†Burgundy and beyond.‚ÄúBeyond‚ÄĚ includes existing and emerging producers of Pinot Noir worldwide.

Santé

Hey! Did you know that the path of the total solar eclipse on August 21st 2017 passes over Brooks Winery?

Today’s Tasting: Brooks Winery РWillamette Valley, OR. 

Much has been written about the history of Brooks Winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley – about its founder Jimi Brooks, about his untimely passing in September 2004 at the age of 38 to an aortic aneurism, and about the remarkable banding together of community to complete his unfinished harvest that year.

Much, too, has been written about the legacy of Brooks Winery – about Jimi’s son Pascal, just eight when his father passed, about Pascal’s future, and about that of the winery. A film,¬†American Wine Story, ¬†even chronicles the story.

Much less has been written about Jimi’s sister Janie Brooks Heuck – about her assumption as Business Manager of Brooks Winery upon Jimi’s passing, about her active role helping raise nephew Pascal, about her tireless efforts burnishing the Brooks Winery brand, achieving Demeter biodynamic certification, expanding the vineyard holdings, all while residing full-time in Pebble Beach, CA. with her husband and family.

These tasting notes derive from a private tasting conducted by Janie Brooks Heuck at The Bench at Pebble Beach with myself and Suzanne Kendrick of New Zealand’s Wine-searcher.com.

A gracious host, Brooks Heuck put us through our paces with three whites and three Pinot Noirs, all creations of long-time Brooks Winery artisan winemaker Chris Williams. These wines echo with the soul of Beaujolais-trained Jim Brooks in their elegance and refinement, but they also capture the unfettered, utterly authentic spirit of the Willamette Valley. The seaside scenery only enhanced these pours.

Wine: Brooks Winery Riesling РWillamette Valley, OR.

Vintage: 2015

Alcohol:  12.5%

Suggested Retail:  $18

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Light straw robe.

Nose:  Honeysuckle, stone fruit, slight mineral nose.

Palate: Acacia, citrus zest bouche with mineral core; acid plus, medium body and finish. Seamlessly structured, eminently quaffable.

Suggested Pairings:  A wine of freshness and linearity worth pondering sans food and without interruptions.

Rating: 94

Wine:   Brooks Winery Pinot Blanc РWillamette Valley, OR.

Vintage:  2016

Alcohol:   13%

Suggested Retail:  $20

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Pale lemon robe.

Nose:  Fleurs blanches, almond, citrus notes.

Palate: Light body, slight residual sugar on the palate, soft finish.

Suggested Pairings: A wisp of a wine to savor as an apéritif with small savory bites.

Rating: 92

 

Brooks Winery 2016 Amycas White Blend, Willamette Valley, OR.

Wine:   Brooks Winery Amycas White Wine РWillamette Valley, OR.

Vintage:  2016

Alcohol:  13.5%

Suggested Retail:  $20

Specs

TASTING NOTES:  

Robe:  Light lemon robe.

Nose:   Ginger, citrus, hint of honeysuckle on the nose.

Palate: Lemon zest, tropical fruit.  Light body with a bit of unctuousness, lingering finish.

Suggested Pairings:   The ginger notes beg for Asian or Indonesian fare.

Rating:  90

Brooks Winery 2014 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.©L.M. Archer

Wine:  Brooks Winery Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Vintage:  2014

Alcohol:  13%

Suggested Retail:  $28

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear garnet robe.

Nose:  Persimmon, high-toned red fruit, slight herbal backnote.

Palate:  Red currant, red raspberry bouche; light body, balanced acids and tannins, medium finish. Reminiscent of a Bourgogne rouge. Exceptional quality for the price.

Suggested Pairings:  

Rating: 95

Brooks Winery 2014 La Chenaie Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR.

Wine: Brooks Winery La Chenaie Pinot Noir

Vintage:  2014

Alcohol:  13.2%

Suggested Retail:  $48

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear ruby robe.

Nose:  Blackberry, red raspberry, loam, basalt.

Palate:  Black and red fruits carry through on the mouth, as does a rugged plumb line of flinty basalt. Acids and tannins plus, but round out over time; medium body, medium long finish.

Suggested Pairings:  A wine weighty enough to serve with roasted pork loin or rack of lamb.

Rating:  94

Brooks Winery 2014 Rastaban Pinot Noir –
Willamette Valley, OR.

Wine:   Brooks Winery Rastaban Brooks Estate Pinot Noir

Vintage:  2014

Alcohol:   13.2%

Suggested Retail:  $60

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear ruby robe.

Nose:   Bramble berry, dark raspberry, loam on the nose.

Palate:  A brooding, Heathcliff-on-the-moors type of wine with a dark black fruit, herbaceous bouche and textured mineral core; acids and tannins plus, medium body, full finish.

Suggested Pairings: A wine intense enough to roundhouse through the thickest Prime rib.

Rating: 94

Learn more about Brooks Winery here.

More of The Hedonistic Taster here.

 

I want to hear from you! Please leave your comments below, and join the conversation on social media – cheers!

 

*Author‚Äôs Note: The title ‚ÄúHedonistic Taster‚Ä̬†derives from the term ‚Äėhedonistic tasting,‚Äô coined by legendary¬†Burgundian vigneron¬†Henri Jayer.

Copyrighted 2017 L.M. Archer | binNotes. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Hedonistic Taster Takes on National Pinot Noir Day | ‚ĄĖ 26 | Grochau Cellars – Willamette Valley

The Hedonistic Taster¬†| ¬†‚ĄĖ¬†26 | Grochau Cellars – Willamette Valley, OR.

by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne MLTastevin

‚ÄúWine should not be regarded simply as a beverage, but as an art of living, a pleasure.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď Henri Jayer

Welcome to The Hedonistic Taster*, an intimate showcase of artisan winemaker trade samples.

These tasting notes compliment ¬†binNotes | Affordable¬†Burgundy and beyond. “Beyond” includes existing and emerging producers of Pinot Noir worldwide.

Santé!

Did you know that August 18th is National Pinot Noir Day?!

Today’s Tasting: Grochau Cellars – Willamette Valley

Some wines sear the soul and haunt the palate. Grochau Cellars strike such a nerve. On the nose, these wines seduce, flatter, cajole – only to attack the palate with tensile nerve and unflinching precision before finishing with haughty grace – much like a taunting tango dancer. Or a really lean, mean (ok, maybe not mean), ex-professional Loire Valley bikeracer-turned-wineseller-turned Willamette Valley winemaker like John Grochau.

Grochau earned his stripes most notably at Erath Winery, and later with Doug Tunnel of Brick House Vineyards, before starting Grochau Cellars in 2002.

Recently, while in Oregon attending IPNC,  I had the honor and privilege to sit down with John Grochau for a private tasting of Grochau Cellars wines.

I have long admired Grochau Cellars wines for their consistency, quality, and ridiculous affordability, especially his Commuter Cuvée Pinot Noir.

These wines did not disappoint.

Grochau Cellars 2016 Melon de Bourgogne. ©L.M. Archer.

Wine: Grochau Cellars Melon de Bourgogne | Willamette Valley, OR.

 Vintage: 2016

Alcohol:  13%

Suggested Retail:  $18

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Pale lemon robe.

Nose:  Stone fruit, hint of wet stone, florals on the nose.

Palate: Bright acids, light body, lingering finish.

Suggested Pairings: Never heard of¬†Melon de Bourgogne? It’s a white grape originally from Burgundy transplanted to the Loire Valley’s Nantais, a wine region famous for Muscadet. This one’s talking to you. It wants seafood. Now.

Rating:  92

 

Grochau Cellars 2014 Bunker Hill Vineyard Chardonnay, Willamette Valley, OR. ©L.M. Archer.

Wine: Grochau Cellars Chardonnay РBunker Hill Vineyard | Willamette Valley, OR.

Vintage:  2014

Alcohol:  13.3%

Suggested Retail:  $23

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Pale gold robe.

Nose:  Mild, discrete hints of fleurs blanches on the nose. 

Palate:  Did not see this one coming. White Burgundy Рsay hello to my little friend Meursaultmeets-Puilly-Fuissé. Lovely juxtaposition between a smooth entry, rich mouthfeel, and polished finish against a chiseled brightness and elegant core.

Suggested Pairings: A texturally interesting wine that compliments lightly sauced or roasted fish or fowl served along seasonal sides like grilled mushrooms.

Rating:  93

Grochau Cellars 2014 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR. ©L.M. Archer.

Wine:   Grochau Cellars Pinot Noir  | Dundee, OR.

Vintage:  2014

Alcohol:  13.7%

Suggested Retail:  $33

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear, crimson robe.

Nose:   Red fruit, dried florals on the nose, with an herbaceous back note.  

Palate: Red fruit and spice bouche, fresh acids, medium body, refined finish. Raffine.

Suggested Pairings: A wine for all seasons and reasons, especially with duck, pheasant, or turkey during lengthy, memory-worthy feasts with family and friends.

Rating:  95

Grochau Cellars 2014 Bjornson Vineyard Pinot Noir

Wine: Grochau Cellars Pinot Noir РBjornson Vineyard | Eola-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, OR.

Vintage:  2014

Alcohol:  14%

Suggested Retail:  $38

Specs

TASTING NOTES:

Robe:  Clear ruby robe.

Nose:  Dark red fruit, baking spice, earth on the hose.

Palate:  Brooding, red cherry and spice bouche with medium-plus acids, mineral core, muscular tannins, and firm finish.

Suggested Pairings:  Rack of lamb, pork loin or beef.

Rating:  92

Learn more about Grochau Cellars here.

More of The Hedonistic Taster here.

 

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*Author’s Note: The title “Hedonistic Taster” derives from the term ‚Äėhedonistic tasting,‚Äô coined by legendary¬†Burgundian vigneron¬†Henri Jayer.

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