Exploring the Fingerlakes

I recently spent a few days in the Fingerlakes, and though I certainly had my fair share of Riesling and Cabernet Franc, I was also excited about some unexpected wines that several wineries are producing. Chardonnay, Merlot, and even Saperavi are being made with increasing success, not to mention the myriad sparkling wines (both Riesling and non) that have begun popping up. It may be a few years before these are perfected, but as the region continues to grow in technique and tradition, it’s only a matter of time. It wasn’t until the 1950s that vitis vinifera first made its way to the Fingerlakes region, although before that native grape varietals were being grown and made into wine ... Read More »

Ridge For The 4th

It took the monks centuries to figure out how to make great wine in Burgundy and the Mosel. Somehow, at California's Ridge Vineyards, they figured it out in just a few years. While fashions have come and gone, Ridge has stood fast for over 50 years, working their incredible vineyards with care and making true American masterpieces. July 4 is as good excuse as any to open a good bottle of Zinfandel, but no excuse is really required. Zinfandel has been maligned in some crowds, but only because too many producers have made overripe, high-alcohol versions that taste more like a coca cola–based cocktail than fine wine. Ridge never succumbed to that unfortunate trend, and they continue to ... Read More »

Santa Cruz Mountain Winery

For a while the wine world talked about New California—the wave of new producers like Arnot-Roberts, Cruse, and Donkey & Goat, that made wines of finesse and drinkability—in contrast to the point-seeking monsters of the Parker era. But critics were quick to dispute the "New" designation, because California had a long history of making elegant wines. They pointed to famous producers like Ridge, Mayacamas and Heitz. Those names are well known. Here is one that may be new to you: Santa Cruz Mountain Winery. The Napa Valley is California's most famous wine region, but many think that the greatest terroir is actually in Santa Cruz. Here you have a range of altitudes, a complex mix ... Read More »

The Terroir of Oregon Pinot Noir

It’s no secret that Oregon, and specifically the Willamette Valley, is great terroir for growing Pinot Noir, but the reason behind that may come as a surprise. Willamette Valley has been home to arguably the best domestically produced Pinot Noirs since growers started planting vines there in the late 1960s-- most notably David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards. Stretching from Portland south to Eugene, the region covers roughly 150 miles and encompasses several recognized sub-AVAs (American Viticultural Area), from the renowned red-soiled Dundee Hills to McMinville. A bit inland from the coast, the valley is bordered on the west by the Coastal mountain range and to the east by the Cascade mountain ... Read More »

Oregon Pinot Noir: A Chat with Jean-Nicolas Meo

A few months ago I promised to start exploring Pinot Noirs from Oregon. I drank a bunch of wines. I wrote up a blog post. My computer crashed and I lost all my work. I got demoralized and the project stalled. But it was reinvigorated by a recent visit from Jean-Nicholas Meo, of the great Vosne-Romanée domaine Meo-Camuzet. He has just released the inaugural vintage of his Pinot Noir from Oregon, the 2014 Nicolas-Jay, and he swung by to taste and chat. We covered a lot during our brief visit but here are the highlights: Meo didn't go to Oregon because of the weather but rather its diverse soils and the availability of interesting sites to work with. In addition to Oregon, Meo is interested ... Read More »

Exploring Oregon: Cristom and 2012 “Mt. Jefferson Cuvee” Pinot Noir

In part I I explained how thanks to changes in pricing and wine style it was time to start exploring the Pinot Noirs of Oregon again.  The journey begins today with a classic name: Cristom. I wanted to start with something reasonably priced and easy to find.  My first though went to Cristom's "Mt. Jefferson Cuvee" from the 2012 vintage. Cristom may now be considered a classic name, but we are talking about a wine region with a very short wine history, and Cristom dates back only as far as 1991.  But the wines are well liked and most wine lovers in New York will have come across their wines in better wine stores over the years.  That's about as classic as it gets when it comes to ... Read More »