Category Archives: Varietal

Pinot Tasting, Thurs August 24 at Gravenstein Grill!

Join me at Gravenstein Grill this coming Thursday August 24th, 5-6:30pm, for an outdoor wine tasting on the Bartlett Bar Patio for “Drink This! The Passion of Pinot” wine tasting event.  Call to reserve your spot 707-634-6142 ($10/person)

Participating Wineries:
Bacigalupi Vineyards
Balletto Vineyards & Winery
Friedeman Wines
Davis Bynum Winery
Radio Coteau Winery
Halleck Vineyard
Joseph Jewell Wines

Enjoy More Zin at the Simply Summer Celebration, August 13th!

Follow up the Zin Zin Din Din with a cool (air-conditioned) weekend outing! Head to Trentadue Winery in Geyserville for the Simply Summer Celebration to continue celebrating Zinfadel of Northern Sonoma County, pairing the widest range of foods, while showcasing the unlimited expressions of taste.  Mark your calendar for this coming Sunday, August 13th, from 12:30-3:30.

There you will find. . .
~More than 60 wineries from all over California
~A chance to meet celebrity winemakers
~BBQ meal selections available for purchase by Cochon Volant
~Free dessert samples by Sonoma Cake Creations
~Ticket includes admittance, wine tasting, and ZAP logo wine glass

See you there! Christopher

IPNC 2017 Grand Seminar Featuring French Winemakers of Oregon & Their Wines!

Continuing my reflection on The French Adventurers: Burgundians Making Pinot Noir in Oregon, the Grand Seminar event at the 31st Annual International Pinot Noir Celebration, some background on French-born winemakers Dominique Lafon, Alexandrine Roy, Jacques Lardiere and Jean-Nicolas Méo.  As well as some reviews of their exciting Oregon wines!


Dominique Lafon – Lingua Franca, Eola-Amity Hills

As the namesake, wine director, and winemaker of one of the great estates of Meursault, Dominique is a descendant of Jules Lafon, who created the revered wine festival, La Paulée.  After taking over the family’s winery in the 80s, Dominique revitalized its red and white winemaking approach in the 1990s.  As an adventurer, Dominique’s first visits to the Willamette Valley occurred in the 1990s.  And as the connections between Oregon and Burgundy became stronger, he fell in love with the property that eventually became the Seven Springs Vineyard in Eola-Amity Hills, which is now home to the base fruit that he and partners Master Sommelier Larry Stone, co-winemaker Thomas Savre and CFO David Honig work with for the Lingua Franca label.

Lingua Franca 2015 Joshua, Junichi & Siri, Ribbon Ridge – 92 pts
The name of this wine is a tribute to the valiant workers who made this vintage happen in 2015.  This full-bodied wine starts with alluring aromas of black raspberry, cherry and earth, which lead to expressive flavors of ripe berries, black plum, a kiss of French oak, and a long dry finish. $50

Lingua Franca 2015 Mimi’s Mind, Eola-Amity Hills – 94 pts
Named after Mimi Casteel of Bethel Height Winery and Vineyard, founded in theEola-Amity Hills in 1977; this special vineyard selection included a percentage of whole clusters, which added more layers of flavor, structure and balance to the finished wine. The end result is a very complex Pinot Noir with concentrated notes of blackberry, cola root, dried strawberry, fresh violets and lavender. Still very young, but deep, dense and rewarding. $90.

Alexandrine Roy – Phelps Creek Vineyard, Hood River

As proprietor, winemaker, and the fourth-generation member of a family that has been farming in the famed Burgundy region of Gevrey-Chambertin, Alexandrine Roy of Domaine Marc Roy made her first visit to IPNC in 2004. Three years later she met Bob Morus, who was starting an adventurous Pinot Noir program in the Columbia Gorge, a few hours east of Portland. After being approached by Bob, Alexandrine was hesitant about taking part in the project since she was committed to making wine in Burgundy.  But after seeing the beautiful property near the quaint town of Hood River and realizing there was nearly a month between harvest dates in Europe (early September) and Oregon (early October); she agreed to take part in this unique project. Today, Alexandrine crafts the Philips Creek Pinot Noir primarily with grapes from the Pommard vines that are influenced by the volcanic soils, warm days and chilly nights. “My goal is to make something distinctive that expresses the site I’m working with,” says Roy.

Phelps Creek Vineyards 2014 Cuvée Alexandrine, Columbia Gorge / $54 – 92 pts
Complex wine with rich flavors of dark fruits, wild berries, fresh fungi and a true sense of this special site influenced by the surrounding forest, volcanic soils and moderate temperature in the area of Hood River, Oregon.

Phelps Creek Vineyards 2013 Cuvée Alexandrine, Columbia Gorge / $54 – 94 pts
Although 2013 was a challenging vintage in western Oregon, the pristine blocks of the Pommard grapes planted inland on the 34-acre Phelps Creek Vineyard near the small town of Hood River had a long, balanced ripening season. The end result shows in this elegant wine layered with generous flavors of ripe red fruits, wild strawberry, rhubarb, mineral, earth tones and rustic spices. In the end, the only downside to this wine is the fact that it’s still rather young and taunt. For that reason, decant if serving it over the next couple years or simply age in the cellar for up to 15 years.

Jacques Lardiere, Resonance Vineyard, Yamhill-Carlton

Jacque Lardiere is a stud, but you’d never know it at first glance. With a full head of white hair, he’s a fun man to be around. But when you bring up the topic of Pinot Noir, you quickly realize the advantage he had working with prestigious grape at Maison Louis Jadot near Beaune for 37 years  when he talks about working with fruit in Willamette Valley. For that reason, Jacque has a very Burgundian approach to the wines he makes under the new Resonance Vineyard label started in the small Yamhill-Carlton AVA in 2013. Today, Jacque and his team work with a 12-acre parcel near the quaint town of Yamhill and currently rent space from James Frey at Trisaetum Winery.  But plans are in the works to develop their own state of the art winery within the next couple years. “I’m not a young chicken, of course,” says Jacque with a smile. “But for us, it’s a great opportunity to start from the beginning from the ground up in Willamette Valley.”  Oui, alors.

Resonance Vineyard 2014, Yamhill-Carlton/ $65 – 93 pts
From the Kevin Chambers Vineyard, this flavorful wine is made with Pommard, 777 and Wadenswil clones of Pinot Noir. Deep, concentrated scents of wild berries and savory spices. On the palate, a high-toned combination of ripe raspberry, dark cherry and cardamom; chewy tannins; broad structure; and a long, generous finish. Ripe lively, earthy and elegant. Very approachable now, but worthy of aging for 20 years. Great with slow-roasted lamb, as tasted with Jacques, at the Salud! charity for vineyard workers hosted at Stoller Vineyards near McMinnville the night before IPNC began.

Resonance Vineyard 2013, Yamhill-Carlton / $65 – 92 pts
Lofty aromas of dark berries, toasted brioche, soy sauce, allspice and a hint of smoke. Dark cherry-cola, huckleberry and licorice; elegant mouthfeel finish. Approachable now or cellar for 7-12 years.

Jean-Nicolas Méo – Nicolas-Jay, Dundee

In 2012, talented Burgundy winemaker Jean-Nicolas Méo partnered with longtime friend and visionary music guru Jay Boberg to start the Nicholas-Jay brand in Dundee. Today, Jean-Nicholas applies the skills he developed while working with fruit from the prestigious Burgundy sites in the Echezeaux, Richebourg, Clos de Vougeot and Corton Clos Rognet to the Pinot Noir grapes he uses from the winery’s organically-farmed Bishop Creek Vineyard property in Yamhill-Carlton and specialty blends made with a selection of other famous vineyards in Willamette Valley.  At the IPNC seminar, Jean-Nicolas joked about his original response to Jay’s inquiry about the partnership. “I enthusiastically said maybe,” he quipped, with a smile. Needless to say, we’re all glad he said yes in the end.

Nicholas-Jay 2015 Willamette Valley / $65 – 95 pts
From the Nicholas-Jay estate Bishop Creek Vineyard in Yamhill-Carlton comes a deep, dense and sexy style of Pinot Noir with lovely aromas of black and blue fruits, wet rocks, and subtle spices. On the palate, ripe blueberry, blackberry, plum and fresh mountain herbs. Very subtle, sexy and complex. Combination of structure, finesse and power in every sip.

Join me at the Zin-Zin Din-Din! Gravenstein Grill on June 29th

Just want to shout out a big THANK YOU to everyone who attended the sold-out Balletto Vineyards & Winery Winemaker’s Dinner at Gravenstein Grill! For those that missed it mark your calendars for this follow up opportunity.

The Zin-Din on June 29th!

It will feature fabulous zinfandels from ACORN Winery, Hartford Court Family Winery, Gamba Vineyards & Winery and more! I will be there again as your happy Sommelier Chris Sawyer. Stay tuned for the menu details at the Gravenstein Grill Facebook page and call 707-634-6142 to make your reservations!

Gravenstein Grill is located at
8050 Bodega Ave, Sebastopol, CA 95472

Get your tickets to Festival of Albariño, June 16-17!

A cool event in a hot climate!   At the Festival of Albariño in Paso Robles, you will get to interact with as many winemakers as possible from these low-production wineries on the Central Coast.

Three events at three different venues:
-The seminar at Derby Winery in historic downtown Paso Robles, moderated by Doug Wilder of Purely Domestic Wine Report
-Grand Tasting of over 25 different Albarinos at Broken Earth Winery.
-The dinner Friday night at Brecon is limited to only 46 people, with a few places still available. Pairings of Albariños with a gourmet menu.

Get tickets while you can!

Ravenous for Rosé? Some June events for you!

It just must be the season for those lighter spring delights to make an appearance! June seems to be blooming with delicious Rosé opportunities to please the palate.

Thursday, June 1
FREE Rosé Tasting at Gravenstein Grill
Join ME for a fun and educational Rosé tasting on the Gravenstein Grill patio in Sebastopol (8050 Bodega Ave). No reservations required, but show up early to guarantee a spot!

Saturday, June 17
Rosé Today Presents: A Country Garden Party
Jaxon Keys Winery & Distillery will host pourings on the grand tasting court & in the meadows, talks from industry leaders, gourmet food pairings by the Culinary Institute of America, pétanque, badminton, dancing, and merriment!

Rosé Today & Everyday!

Take a moment to peruse this press release of the winners for Rosé Today for which I participated as a judge.  You can also read up on the fabulous varietal in this article I am featured in, U.S. Producers Betting on Rosé and Challenging French Dominance published by the Wine Industry Advisor.

Heads up as well about the Rosé Today Country Garden Party to taste some of the winners on Saturday, June 17th from 11-4 at Jaxon Keys Winery & Distillery in Hopland.

Press Release:

Healdsburg, CA – Friday, March 24, 2017 —Announcing Rosé Today 2017 Competition Winners of its 2017 Competition held at Soda Rock Winery on March 22, 2017. Rosé Today’s Wine Director Bob Ecker conducted the double-blind competition judged by nine preeminent judges which included Sean Brosnihan, Francois Cordesse, Debra Del Fiorentino, Rick Farga, Denise Gill, Teejay Lowe, Lucio Matricardi, Ph.D, Christopher Sawyer, and Leslie Sbrocco. On behalf of the entire staff of Rosé Today, producers Craig Palmer and Allen Habel extend their thanks to all competition entries and their heartiest congratulations to all these exceptional winners.

Taking home Best of Show, Best of Class and Double Gold in Domestic Sparkling, for the second year in a row is Gloria Ferrer 2013 Brut Rosé.

Best of Class (with Double Gold) are awarded to: Bonterra Organic Vineyards 2016 Rosé, Domestic Dry; Mezzacorona 2016 Rosato, International Dry; Veuve Ambal NV Marie Ambal Brut Rosé, International Sparkling; and Pratsch 2016 Rosé, International Sweet; Del Rio Vineyards NV Rose Jolee, Domestic Sweet.

Double Gold awardees include: Ascension Cellars 2016 “Siren” Rosé, Benziger Family Winery 2016 Rosé, Fleur 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé, Chateau D’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé 2016, Darkhorse 2015 Rosé, Ferrari-Carrano Lazy Creek Vineyards 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sassoferrato 2016 Rosé, Lawer Estates 2016 Rosé, Luis Felipe Edwards Loma Negra 2016 Rosé, Luis Felip Edwards Autoritas 2016 Rosé, LXV 2016 Sangiovese Rosé, Proulx 2016 Grenache Rosé, Sonoma-Cutrer 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir, St. Anne’s Crossing Winery 2016 Rose of Zinfandel, Santa Rita Limited Release Rosé 2016, and Wollersheim Winery 2016 Prairie Blush.

Gold recipients are: Apriori 2016 Rosé, Locations NV F Rosé, Collection des Anges 2016 Rosé, Six Degrees 2016 Rosé, Phillips Dublanc NV Brut Rosé Sparkling, Cache Creek Vineyards 2016 Rosé, Chacewater 2016 Rosé, Clos LaChance 2016 Colibri, D’Alfonso-Curran Curran 2016 Rosé, Del Rio Vineyards 2016 Rosé, Domaine de Baccari 2015 Cinsault and Grenache, Domaine Serene NV “r” Rosé IX, Due Ruscelli 2016 Rosé, Ferrai-Carano 2016 Dry Sangiovese Rosé, Fess Parker 2016 Pinot Noir, Greenwood Ridge Vineyards 2016 Rosé, Black Ink 2015 Rosé, Fleur 2016 Rosé, Handley Cellars 2015 Pinot Rosé, J. Rickards Winery 2016 Rosé, King Estate Winery 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Kobler Estate Winery 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Dazzle Cellars 2016 Julia’s Dazzle Rosé, Matrix Winery 2016 Rosé of Pinot Noir, McCay Cellars 2015 Reserve Rosé, McPherson Cellars 2016 Les Copains Rosé, Pennyroyal Farm 2015 Pinot Noir Rosé, Peltier Winery Black Diamond 2016 Rosé, Soda Rock 2016 Rosé, St. Francis 2016 Rosé, Terra d’Oro 2016 Rosé, Coeur Clementine 2016 Rosé, Veuve Ambal NV Brut Rosé, Rivarose 2016 Brut Rosé, Wakefield/Taylors 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé, Abbazia NV Moscato Rosé, and Vinum Cellars 2016 Rosé.

Read the complete list here!

Rhone & Relax in Sonoma! February 2nd

Join this Thirsty Thursday fundraiser at Suite D (21800 Schellville Road, Sonoma)!  An amazing opportunity to learn more about how you can get involved with Rhone Rangers as a winery or Rhone fan.

Rhone & Relax

February 2nd @6pm
Get tickets here!

MENU INCLUDES

Antipasti:
cheese, salumi & antipasti

Passed nibbles:
gougere blt, pancetta, oven-dried tomato, basil- mini burgers, brie, red onion confit-shrimp po’boy

Wood-fired Pizza:
Sonoma-goat cheese, leeks, scallions, bacon
Funghi-quattro formaggio, wild mushrooms, chili flakes,
roasted garlic

Gelato Cart
custom flavors & toppings