Category: Winery Reviews

Sokol Blosser’s 50th Anniversary Tasting

Susan Sokol Blosser and Bill Blosser were dreamers and schemers. In the early 1970s when America was experiencing its modern grape growing and winemaking boom the couple decided—with no prior ag or cellar training—to become both growers and winemakers. While many in this position would have set their sites toward California, the couple gave the US’s largest wine producing state a wink and a wave as they passed on by to settle in Dundee, Oregon, following in the footsteps of such wine pioneers as David Lett (Eyrie Vineyard).

One of Willamette Valley’s seven sub-AVAs, Dundee Hills is arguably the most important. Indeed, it is where the first Pinot Noir vines were planted in the state. A series of volcanic hills run north to south with ridging running east to west, and thus vines tend to be planted at higher altitudes than anywhere else in Willamette. Though the temperature is warmer than elsewhere in the larger AVA (due to the Coast Range blocking maritime influence and the Chehalem Mountains blocking northern winds), this elevated planting means that grapes experience a wide diurnal range, thus protecting innate acidity. A quality that is truly characteristic of the Sokol Blosser wines.

Today, second generation, brother-sister team, Alison Sokol Blosser and Alex Sokol Blosser, take the reigns as co-CEOs. According to the winery, the Sokol Blosser legacy expands beyond their high quality Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, and into their love and respect for the environment that allows them to produce those grapes. In 2002, Sokol Blossor became the first US winery to become LEED Certified and in 2015 they gained B Corp status.

Lucy Sokol Blosser Winery Dog
Lucy Sokol Blosser
Winery Dog

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Tasting Domaine de la Pousse D’or 2018 Vintage

I’m very lucky to experience media tastings, and since the pandemic, my opportunities have expanded to international tastings as well. While not all events fit into projects I’m working on for traditional media outlets, I love sharing particularly special tastings with you all here on my personal website.

Last week I had the privilege of tasting through premier and grand crus wines with Benoit Landanger, owner and estate manager of Domaine de la Pousse D’or. The 2018 vintage marks the first vintage in which the domaine has been Demeter Biodynamic-certified (though they have been practicing biodynamics since 2014). This year is also marked as one of the most challenging vintages in Burgundy of Benoit’s recent memory. Excessively warm days and severe lack of rainfall forced him to make the difficult decision to start picking in mid-August.

“We are usually one of the last in Volnay to do the harvest,” says Benoit, “In 2018 we were the first. It was a risk. We were constantly checking acidity, and I knew the maturity was there.”

The effects of climate change are an ongoing struggle for growers of Burgundy, where mitigation techniques like shade cloth and irrigation are not permitted. Benoit attributes his vines’ success to his biodynamic practices, siting the soils’ ability to retain more moisture (from environmental humidity and morning dew) as just one of the many benefits to this environmentally aware form of viticulture.

If pick-dates are the hardest challenge in the field, sitting still is the hardest decision in the cellar. “It’s very difficult to say ‘we don’t do anything,’ because we want to. The challenge is to say that, some days, we don’t work at all,” Bennoit says. With all the hard work he and his team put toward soil, vine, and environmental health, it’s no wonder that grapes come into the cellar in perfect condition to make top-quality wine.

In the end, these wines are absolutely beautiful. To my palate these are wines that I can easily enjoy now (and will, since they’re open), but can also age for years, decades, maybe more. When asked his opinion on his wines’ age-ability, Bennoit says, “It is difficult to answer and it depends on the moment. If the wine is well done, it is forever … We are making this for the true love of our wine, to share, and to be proud of the wine we are making.”

Domaine de La Pousse d’Or is in the village of Volnay, in the Côte-d’Or region of Burgundy. It manages 17 hectares (44 acres) of vines in some of the most prestigious terroirs in Burgundy, mainly in Côte de Beaune but also in Côte de Nuits. These vineyards are almost exclusively grand cru and premier cru plots.
Domaine de La Pousse d’Or is in the village of Volnay, in the Côte-d’Or region of Burgundy. It manages 17 hectares (44 acres) of vines in some of the most prestigious terroirs in Burgundy, mainly in Côte de Beaune but also in Côte de Nuits. These vineyards are almost exclusively grand cru and premier cru plots.

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Tongue Dancer Wines Interview and Tasting with James MacPhail

In this video interview, I speak with James MacPhail, owner and winemaker of Tongue Dancer Wines—a boutique winery based in Sonoma, California. Warning, we do get a little wine-nerdy and chat about everything from clonal selections, Sonoma Coast topography and microclimates, and winemaking techniques. A full list of the wines are below the video, along with my independent tasting notes and critiques.

Want to have your wine, winery or tasting room featured? Please visit the Sample Policy page where you can contact me directly. Cheers!

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Interview and Tasting with Ehlers Estate Winemaker Laura Diaz

In this video interview, I talk with Ehler’s Estate winemaker Laura Diaz. We discuss her career, her viticultural and winemaking practices, and taste through some of Ehler’s newest releases. Laura provides insight into what makes this piece of Napa Valley so special in terms of terroir, history, and the loving family behind the wine brand.

If you have follow up questions for Laura, please leave them in the comments below and we’ll get answers for you in a follow up article.

Interested in tasting the wines discussed?

Ehler’s Estate 2019 Sauvignon Blanc

Varietal: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Harvest: August 24th and 26th 2019
Wine Analysis: 13.2% alcohol ● 3.18 pH

Appellation: St. Helena, Napa Valley

Bottling Date: February 11, 2020

Cases Produced: 845 cases

MSRP: $32

Purchase here.

Ehler’s Estate 2018 Cabernet Franc

Varietal: 100% Cabernet Franc

Wine Analysis: 15 % alcohol ● 3.87 pH
Oak Ageing: 58% New French Oak, 42% used French oak for 22 months
Appellation: St. Helena, Napa Valley

Cases Produced: 756 cases

MSRP: $65

Purchase here.

Ehler’s Estate 2018 Jean Leducq Cabernet Sauvignon

Varietal: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine Analysis: 14.5 % alcohol ● 3.6 pH ● 6.6 TA
Appellation: St. Helena, Napa Valley
Cases Produced: 525 cases

MSRP: $90

Purchase here.


For more information about Ehlers Estate, their wines, and to purchase wine directly or make an appointment for an in-person or virtual tasting, please visit the Ehlers Estate website.

BriscoeBites officially accepts samples as well as conducts on-site and online interviews. Want to have your wine, winery or tasting room featured? Please visit the Sample Policy page where you can contact me directly. Cheers!

Educational posts are in no way intended as official WSET study materials. I am not an official WSET educator nor do I work for a WSET Approved Program Provider. Study at your own risk. Read the full disclaimer.
**Please note: all reviews and opinions are my own and are not associated with any of my places of business. I will always state when a wine has been sent as a sample for review. Sending samples for review on my personal website in no way guarantees coverage in any other media outlet I may be currently associated with.**