Lightening Wines is a new sip for me. Winemakers Randy and Brooke Hester were kind enough to send me a few samples to taste what their small batch winery is all about. This Napa-based winery focuses on Rhone-style wines, sourcing much of their grapes from El Dorado County, California’s self-proclaimed “Rhone-zone.” As someone who loves Rhone wines and appreciates California’s diverse expression of the grapes that are so dependent on both region and winemaker, I was eager to taste what Lightening Wines had to offer. Always skeptical about white blends in general, spoiler alert: I was very much impressed by this CDP Blanc. Well-balanced, refreshing, and just downright tasty, I was able to enjoy with several meals throughout the week.
Earthy, muddy, murky, funky. These are the words I think of when I think of Mourvedre and the qualities that endear the variety to me. Even in its rosé form, there’s something rustic, even animalistic, about it.
As my winemaking friend Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines notes, “Warner always produces a darker, more brooding style of Mourvèdre…this ‘funks’ the wine up a bit and gives it spice and structure.”
And yet my winemaking friend Steve Grower from Crux Winery said, “I’ve been tempted to say ‘Mourvedre has a je ne sais quoi‘ to avoid having to actually describe it.”
Indeed to pin Mourvedre down to a single style — well you shouldn’t tame a wild thing I suppose. All I can say as an introduction to this Mourvedre based on my experiences…
I don’t often write about wines I relive, but some winemakers’ wines are just too good not to talk about. And it’s amazing the difference a vintage can make. But one thing that remains consistent year after year is Cindy Cosco’s ability to craft the most delicate, nuanced wines from even the heartiest of red wine grapes. So keep reading to learn about the Passaggio 2016 GSM Red Blend, and if you haven’t already, take a look at what the Passaggio 2015 GSM was like. Both offer up their own subtleties, but I paired them with wildly different cuisines. Enjoy!
I’ve followed winemaker Janu Goelz for quite some time—admittedly mostly on social media. What I immediately recognized was a young woman passionate about building her brand and business. Located on the outskirts of San Jose in Gilroy, California, Alara Cellars is one of a handful of boutique wineries in the Santa Clara Valley. Most folks forget about this piece of California wine country, and I love how she embraces it, pouring her wines at both local Silicon Valley hangouts and, now, at regional shows and competitions.
Oh how her brand has grown into such a success.
After interviewing her for a feature in our magazine, I finally got to meet her a few weeks ago at my company’s annual Bottle Bash party during the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. She is just as friendly and delightful as her wines suggest. So I feel privileged to review one of her wines here on my humble little website.
Emeritus is a new winery for me, but has a 10-year Sonoma-based history. Emeritus was founded in 1999 by Brice Curtrer Jones after he purchased the 115-acre parcel named for previous owners, Don and Marcia Hallberg. The land was planted as an apple orchard, but Curtrer knew the value of the land in terms of grapegrowing and saw the potential for beautiful Pinot Noir.
Hallberg Ranch is located in the cool, Green Valley region of the Russian River Valley—an AVA that, in my opinion is an up-and-coming one, and one that is producing some of Sonoma’s most interesting Pinot Noir as of late.