• Nahe Shimmer: 2020 Emrich-Schönleber Riesling

    Nahe Shimmer: 2020 Emrich-Schönleber Riesling

    Emrich-Schönleber joins Keller, Dönnhoff, and Schäfer-Fröhlich as Germany's most noble estates. The Grosses Gewachs (GG) wines come from undisputedly come from "Grand Cru" sites, but within the "villages" category, my obsession continues to be with the "Mineral" bottling, which is among the most reliable and completely dry Rieslings around. Sourced from young vines within Halenberg and Auf der Lay, the value cannot be overstated!

    The Emrich family began growing Riesling on the treacherously steep slopes along the Nahe River in the mid-1700s. In the 1960s, the family began to focus entirely on viticulture and winemaking. Up until then, it was a risky proposition to have their livelihood be at the will of nature so directly. From 1965 to 1985, the estate steadily grew from two to ten hectares.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Provence White Diamond: 2020 Chateau Roquefort

    Provence White Diamond: 2020 Chateau Roquefort

    Petit Salé from Chateau Roquefort is the best value white wine from Southern France that you're likely to overlook, though I highly encourage you to play it cooler (and less pretentiously) than I did when having it for the first time.

    Unlike Bandol, the brisk, high-altitude setting here cannot fully ripen Mourvèdre, but it's perfect for macerated white wines. A blend of Clairette and Vermentino, Petit Salé builds on ripe, unctuous white peach and briny citrus flavors, finishing with a persistent salty inflection. This microclimate on limestone and clay soils proved to me that a Southern French white can deliver all of the mouth-watering salinity as Chablis and Riesling while still capturing its orchard fruit characteristics.

    Villeneuve returned home in 1995 after spending time producing Burgundy's Grand Cru Clos de Tart for Mommessin. He use both organic and biodynamic farming practices. Also, this is the same distributor behind other small but mighty vignerons who you may have heard of, like Jerome Prevost, Cedric Bouchard, and Soldera.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Sancerre Royalty: 2019 Domaine Vacheron

    Sancerre Royalty: 2019 Domaine Vacheron

    A visit to the eastern Loire in May 2016 was a great awakening to the potential and diversity within Sancerre. Styles of winemaking differ nearly as much as the change in soil throughout the region, from flint to marl and Kimmeridgian limestone. But when the tours concluded, it was Vacheron's duo of sites that stuck with me.

    Vacheron's epic south-facing slopes of old vines immediately felt special when we hit the rocky terrain. In a marginal climate, where every last ray of sunlight counts, these Sauvignon Blancs have a generous cut and rigor. They develop faint notes of honey, ginger, and orchard fruit while maintaining a disciplined frame and finish with loads of crushed rocks and salinity.

    Not a lot of vignerons farm organically in Sancerre, as the weather can be brutal and uncooperative. Less than ten producers are certified organic including Vacheron (since 2000). In the cellar, they've transitioned to larger vessels such as foudre to ensure the wines are taut and structured, as temperatures in the region continue to climb. The wines ferment spontaneously with native yeasts, and the lunar cycle dictates when bottling occurs. No fining or filtering!

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • New World Adventure: 2021 Ryme Vermentino

    New World Adventure: 2021 Ryme Vermentino

    Ryan and Megan Glaab are the kind of winemakers I'm always thrilled to be introduced to. Their small-production winery has slowly grown since 2007, focusing on varieties that are more obscure in California. Their love of old-world wines, particularly those from Campania, Friuli, and Sardinia, was the catalyst for their label.

    The cool and foggy Las Brisas Vineyard is an ideal home for the aromatic, late-ripening Vermentino variety. It's located on the Sonoma side of Carneros, heavily influenced by the San Pablo Bay and Petaluma Gap—an ideal place to produce racy whites. "Hers," referring to Megan's preferred style of Vermentino, is clean, bright, mineral-driven, and refreshing, calling to mind northern Sardinia and the Ligurian coast of Italy where Vermentino reigns supreme. The grapes are immediately pressed off their skins and aged in a combo of stainless steel and neutral French oak.

    Ryan and Megan's goal is to make wines they want to drink, using Italy's rich history as a guiding force to show the ultimate potential that exists in California. The couple met while working harvest in Australia years. They quickly fell in love and returned to California, and each has worked at iconic wineries including Pax, Peay, Marcassin, and Sine Qua Non. These invaluable, diverse experiences gave the couple the tools needed to execute the project they had dreamed of.

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    Posted by Max Kogod
  • Willamette Star

    Willamette Star

    The pinnacle of the range from Erica Landon and Ken Pahlow of Walter Scott rests with their X Novo and Seven Springs Vineyard Chardonnays, though the 2019 Pinot Noirs are also among the best in America today. These are Grand Cru-level expressions of Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay and Pinot Noir!

    Most of the 1983-planted Seven Springs Vineyard was devastated by phylloxera, until 2007, when Raj Parr and Sashi Moorman of Evening Land leased and revitalized the vineyard. Walter Scott is one of the few wineries with access to this site, sourcing less than two acres of Chardonnay from the south ridge.

    Pahlow's annual harvest visits to work alongside Dominique Lafon must have left a mark, as his Chardonnays elicit Burgundy's precise form of noble reduction and filigree that I've come to obsess over. Notes of crushed oyster shell, lemon zest, and mouth-watering salinity are at the forefront, but like Comtes Lafon's brilliant whites, these are all about fine-grained texture and balance.

    If Walter Scott's Chardonnays are a master-class in tension and balance, then the Pinot Noirs stand out for their silken tannin structure and full-bodied, concentrated style. The suave frame and harmony of fruit and earth meld perfectly with the slight whole cluster addition (15%) and modest application of new oak (35%).

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    Posted by Max Kogod