Tag: white wine

Ghost Hill Cellars 2013 Pinot Noir Blanc

Pinot Noir Blanc kind of sounds like an oxymoron, right? How can a red wine be white? And, if it is, how much will it still taste like the well-known (and for me beloved) varietal? I had so many questions when I saw folks posting pics of this unique Pinot Noir winemaking method a few weeks ago — from various different producers, mind you. Well, it was John and Irene Ingersoll of  to the rescue once again to help satiate my curiosity…

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Yorkville Cellars 2015 Semillon

I discovered Semillon in Australia (and, yes, if you ever meet me, I do pronounce it “wrong”), where it seemed to be served in abundance — at every restaurant, wine bar, and shop. I fell in love with the grape honestly thinking we didn’t have it here in the States. With less that 1,000 acres of Semillon planted in California, and with most of that being blended into other varietals (usually to act as a “softener” to more fruit-forward white wines like Sauvignon Blanc), it’s no wonder I had that impression.

Suffice it to say that when I finally discovered that I can get 100% Semillon in my hometown, I’ve been snatching up tastes, glasses, and bottles anywhere I can get it. Now the American version, wherever you get it, is vastly different than that produced by my friends down under. But this expression from Yorkville Cellars is everything I’d expect from what could very well be my favorite white grape — smoothed textured, delicate acidity, a balance of fruit and earth. And, as Yorkville Cellars Founder and Grower Ed Wallo says, “Semillon is notable as being one of the few white varietals that is very ageable; so your choice: enjoy it now or let it develop a bit more and include it in a special occasion.”

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Theopolis Vineyards 2015 Yorkville Highlands Symphony

Symphony — No it’s not the name of a blend. This is a grape varietal. It is one of the several cross-clonal hybrid grape creations by University of California, Davis viticulturist Dr. Harold Olmo. He’s known for quite a few, including Ruby Cabernet (cross-breed Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignane) and Emerald Riesling (cross-breed Moscadelle and Riesling). Gaining in popularity is the Symphony grape, a hybrid of Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris.

Developed by Olmo in 1948, it took him nearly 40 years to perfect the clone, and it wasn’t released for commercial use until 1984. He developed the white grape to withstand the downright hot climate of California’s Central Valley, however today it seems to thrive best in cooler temps, with most plantings found in either Lodi or the Sierra Foothills. But their’s one woman brave enough to take the plantings to her even higher, cooler climate AVA of Yorkville Highlands. And in so-doing, she’s crafted a beautifully floral-forward wine that’s unlike any other. It must be the work of the wine queen herself — Theodora Lee aka “Theo-patra.”

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La Vie Dansante Wines 2016 Rhône White Blend

It’s always interesting when you discover a winery in your own backyard. It wasn’t until I was doing research about San Francisco South Bay Rhone producers for a recent article that I came across Jeff Fadness of La Vie Dansante. What’s even more remarkable is that in tasting through his wines (and I must admit tasting through neighboring winery and exclusively white Rhone producer Lion Ranch as well), he put my fear and stereotype of Rhone white blends to rest.

Yes, I know there are some iconic California Rhone producers who craft, what many call, beautiful and balanced white blends. In fact, Fadness credits the expression of his white blend to the Esprit de Tablas Creek by Tablas Creek. Even so, I have to credit Fadness himself for creating a blend of white varietals in which the sum of those varietals expresses even better than the separate components. 

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Mt. Beautiful 2015 Chardonnay

When I showed this bottle to my friends, the response I got was, “New Zealand Chardonnay? Really?” Yes, really. Though the country is well-defined by its Sauvignon Blanc, it’s by no means the only white wine grape. In fact, in the Canterbury region, where the Mt. Beautiful winery and estate vineyards call home, Chardonnay is the third most-planted grape variety just behind Pinot Noir and, yes, Sauvignon Blanc. So let’s take a taste, shall we, and see what the southern portion of New Zealand has to offer the Chardonnay style spectrum

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