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Vintners Reception

What to Taste at the 2017 High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction

Top winemakers and wineries from California and beyond will be in Atlanta March 22nd through 25th for the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. Celebrating its 25th year, the auction has raised more than $26 million for the High Museum.

Earlier: High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction Returns for 25th Edition

Whether it’s your first High Museum Wine Auction or you’re a regular, here are the wines you won’t want to miss at Saturday’s Vintners’ Reception. Bonus if you love Pinot Noir.

Au Bon Climat

Jim Clendenen at the 2016 wine auction
Jim Clendenen at the 2016 wine auction

Owner and winemaker Jim Clendenen is one of this year’s guests of honor. It is well deserved – beyond making delicious wines, Jim is a familiar face at the wine auction and always has entertaining stories. In addition to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Jim brings fun and unique wines for guests to sample. Au Bon Climat is based in Santa Barbara County, in California’s Central Coast.
aubonclimat.com

Kosta Browne

Co-founders Michael Browne and Dan Kosta round out this year’s guests of honor. If you’re a fan of Pinot Noir you’ve no doubt enjoyed one from Kosta Browne. If you haven’t tasted these wines from Sonoma, you must make them one of your first stops.
kostabrowne.com

Single vineyard Pinot Noir at Bernardus Winery's tasting room
Single vineyard Pinot Noir at Bernardus Winery’s tasting room

Bernardus Winery

Start with the Sauvignon Blanc from this Carmel Valley, California winery and you won’t be disappointed. Bernardus was founded by Bernardus “Ben” Pon, who is from the Netherlands (you’ll notice orange in the logo). Marinus, a Bordeaux-style blend, is a must-taste. Bernardus also makes single vineyard Pinot Noirs that when sipped side-by-side offer a glimpse at the different terroir. After the wine auction you’ll want to plan a trip to the tasting room in Carmel Valley Village.
bernardus.com

Big Basin wine

Big Basin Vineyards

In the charming town of Saratoga, on the edge of Silicon Valley, is where I first discovered Big Basin Vineyards. Their small and unassuming tasting room doesn’t prepare you for the big and bold flavors of their red wine – Pinot Noir, Syrah and Rhone blends. Big Basin’s vineyards are located in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Wine auction guests got their first taste of Big Basin at last year’s event; this year owner and winemaker Bradley Brown will be offering tastes of current releases. Big Basin also makes Chardonnay and white wines from Rhone grapes. I’m a big fan of their Roussanne.
bigbasinvineyards.com

Continuum Estate's vineyards on Prichard Hill
Continuum Estate’s vineyards on Prichard Hill

Continuum Estate

Continuum made a big splash at the wine auction in 2014, when father and daughter Tim and Carissa Mondavi were guests of honor. Continuum’s vineyards are located on Pritchard Hill on the east side of Napa Valley, a stunning location if you have the chance to visit. Each year Continuum produces one wine, made from the estate’s best grapes, that truly captures a sense of place and the characteristics of that vintage. More recently they introduced Novicium, a second wine made primarily with grapes from younger vines. Continuum is a prized wine that all aficionados should have in their cellar.
continuumestate.com

Domaine Della

Domaine Della

A favorite discovery from last year’s wine auction, Domaine Della returns for its second year. Owner and winemaker David Hejl named the winery for his mother, who as he will tell you, was a truly remarkable woman. David’s experience crafting high quality Pinot Noir shows in each bottle of his wine. It’s hard to pick a favorite between his Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast. Be sure to join Domaine Della’s list for a chance to buy wine during the spring and fall releases.
domainedella.com

Lando Wines

Sam and Jennifer Lando at the 2016 wine auction
Sam & Jennifer Lando at the 2016 wine auction

Sam Lando is the kind of guy who you want to have a beer – or in this case, glass of wine with. Besides being engaging and entertaining, Sam is extremely knowledgeable about Pinot Noir, having worked with Kosta Browne winery. He’s another wine auction regular, and his table is always a popular spot. Lando makes flavorful and balanced Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations.
landowines.com

Patel wines

Patel Winery

If full-bodied Napa Cabernet is your favorite, you must seek out Raj Patel of Patel Winery. As I wrote in 2015, “when Robert Parker awards your first wine a 95, you know you’ve made something special.” Patel wines are lush, layered and elegant, thanks to having access to some of the best grapes and the expertise of Luc Morlet, one of Napa’s top winemakers. Last year Raj debuted a Malbec, a deliciously spicy wine. This year he’ll be offering tastes of his 2014 Napa Valley Malbec, Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon and Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon.
patelwinery.com

Winderlea Pinot Noir

Winderlea Vineyard and Winery

You could spend the entire Vintners’ Reception enjoying California Pinot Noir but be sure not to miss these Oregon Pinots. The name Winderlea evokes images of the breeze gently blowing through the vineyards in the Willamette Valley. Founders Bill Sweat and Donna Morris made their wine auction debut last year, offering tastes of their Chardonnay and single vineyard Pinot Noirs. I can’t wait to taste what they’ll have this year.
winderlea.com

Of course, you can’t go wrong with Champagne. This year Champagne Billecart-Salmon will be offering tastes of its bubbly. I’d suggest starting there, then moving on to the wineries featured above.

The Vintners’ Reception at the 25th annual High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction will be held on Saturday, March 25th at 11 a.m., followed by the Live Auction. Located under the tents at the Green Lot at Turner Field.
atlanta-wineauction.org

Click to see earlier articles on the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction

wine auction 2016

High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction Returns for 25th Edition

Raise a glass to one of Atlanta’s top social events! The High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction returns for its 25th year in March 2017.

This year’s theme is “The Big One,” and celebrates the event’s major milestone. Over its 24 years the High Museum Wine Auction has grown to be the largest charity wine auction benefiting the arts in the United States, and has raised more than $26 million for the High Museum.

High Wine AuctionFrom Wednesday, March 22nd to Saturday, March 25th there will be special lunches, dinners and seminars, leading up to the Friday Fête and Saturday’s Vintners’ Reception and Live Auction. For the second year the Friday Fête and Auction will be held inside the tents at the Green Lot at Turner Field.

Jim Clendenen, Michael Browne and Dan Kosta are this year’s special guests of honor. Jim, the owner and winemaker at Au Bon Climat, hardly needs an introduction. A High Wine Auction regular, he has been regaling guests with entertaining stories and delicious wines for years. Michael and Dan are the co-owners of Kosta Browne Winery, which is well-known for its outstanding Pinot Noir. Kosta Browne is being honored for its support of the Wine Auction, having participated for nearly 10 years.

A number of wineries have already confirmed their participation in the 2017 Vintners’ Reception and Auction. Click here to see the list.

Benefactor packages to the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction are now available. Single tickets will go on sale in late January.

For more information on the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction visit atlanta-wineauction.org.

For more information on the High Museum of Art visit www.high.org.

I’ll see you under the tents in March!

>> Connect:
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Twitter: @HighMuseumWine
Instagram: @HighMuseumWine

wine auction 2016

Drink & Dine During the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction

One of the year’s most anticipated events is happening at the end of this month — the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction!

More than 100 wineries and winemakers will descend on Atlanta March 30th through April 2nd for four days of tastings, seminars and dinners with the city’s favorite chefs, culminating in the Wine Auction on Saturday afternoon.

This year marks the 24th anniversary of the event benefiting the art museum. New in 2016, the Friday Fête, Vintners’ Reception and Live Auction will be held at Turner Field.

Click here to see articles from previous High Museum Wine Auctions

If you aren’t attending the auction there are still many mouthwatering ways you can join in the festivities.

The Dine Around Dinners offer guests an unforgettable evening at top Atlanta restaurants on March 30th and 31st. Chefs are teamed with celebrity winemakers for multi-course meals perfectly paired with wines. The dinners range from $75 to $225 per person, inclusive of tax and gratuity. For the full list of dinners click here. Reservations should be made directly with the restaurant.

At Tasting Seminars on Friday, April 1st, guests will meet winemakers and learn about wine in new and unique ways. From toasting to terroir with a panel of winemakers and complementary dishes prepared by Chef Linton Hopkins, to tasting wine in the dark — literally, with blindfolds — there’s a seminar to suit your tastes. The seminars range from $100 to $125 per person. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

We’ll see you there!

The 24th Annual High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction, March 30 – April 2, 2016. atlanta-wineauction.org

>> Connect:
Facebook: HighMuseumWine
Twitter: @HighMuseumWine
Instagram: @HighMuseumWine

Patel wines

Patel: Small Winery with Big Taste

When Robert Parker awards your first wine a 95, you know you’ve made something special.

But don’t let that number bias you toward Patel Winery. It’s more of a treat if you taste the Napa wines without any preconceived notions. That’s how I came to meet owner Raj Patel, at last year’s High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. His wines – a Cabernet Sauvignon and the Red Wine, a Bordeaux-style blend – were among my favorite discoveries at the event. When I found out that Raj was returning for this year’s auction, I couldn’t wait to meet with him and taste his current releases.

Patel winesRaj founded Patel Winery in 2006. He secured fruit and a custom crush facility in 2007, and made some wine in 2008. In 2009 he joined the Napa Valley Vintners Association and submitted his Cabernet for review with Robert Parker. More recently he brought on Luc Morlet, one of Napa’s top winemakers. Patel Winery sources its grapes from six vineyards and makes the wine at Luc’s winery.

I could go on for several paragraphs about how the Patel wines are intense yet elegant, with layers of fruit and earth notes that end in a long finish. But here’s all you need to know: Patel wines are really really good.

Over breakfast the morning of the 2015 High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction, Raj and I spoke about Patel Winery, what makes the wines unique and what’s next. Continue reading

Truchard Vineyards: Wines from Carneros

By Robin Alix Austin

The Truchard story is a story about farming. Tony Truchard is a farmer, first and foremost – as described by his son Anthony, who visited Atlanta in March for the High Museum Wine Auction.

Truchard VineyardsDirt-coated fingernails, a pickup truck and long hours planting, tending and pruning – Anthony paints a vivid picture of his father. Even in his 70s, Tony is still out in the vineyards as often as possible, truly committed to the quality of his grapes.

Tony and Jo Ann Truchard were among the pioneers of grape growing in the Carneros region of Napa Valley. They purchased a 20 acre parcel of land there in 1974, and in 1989 established a winery producing wines made from estate-grown fruit. Today Truchard Estate Vineyard is 400 acres of which 270 are planted; in addition to making their own wine the Truchards sell grapes to more than 20 Napa Valley wineries. Winemaker Sal De Ianni joined the team in 1998.

Farming has always been a family affair. From the age of 10, Anthony and his brother John (who owns John Anthony Vineyards), were out in the vineyards with their father. This connection – to farming and family – is felt when you speak with Anthony. After sharing a glass of wine with Anthony and his wife Suzanne, you’ll feel like you’re a part of the Truchard family.

As any winemaker will tell you, good wine starts in the vineyard. The Truchard family puts as much care into crafting their wines as they do cultivating the grapes. Each bottle tells a story – of the terroir, the technique and the hands-on approach to making wines.

Among the many delicious Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that were tasted during the High Museum Wine Auction, the ones from Truchard Vineyards stood out.

Truchard ChardonnayThe 2011 Chardonnay is fresh and bright, with flavors of golden apple, ripe pear and Meyer lemon. Oak adds soft layers of vanilla and baking spices. The finish is crisp, with lingering citrus. ($30, 13.9% alcohol)

The 2010 Pinot Noir is supple and silky in the mouth, with berry aromas that expand on the palate. Plum, raspberry, strawberry and cherry cola mingle with flavors of black tea and vanilla, supported by gentle tannins and well-balanced acidity. ($35, 13.9% alcohol)

Following the High Museum Wine Auction, I had the opportunity to taste Truchard’s Syrah and Cabernet Franc.

Truchard Pinot NoirThe 2010 Syrah has rich flavors of blackberry and boysenberry, with cedar and earthy notes adding depth. Present tannins give the wine a pleasant mouthfeel, and the elegant finish has lingering vanilla and allspice. ($30, 14.3% alcohol)

The 2010 Cabernet Franc draws you in with intense black fruit and spice aromas. Mouth-filling flavors of black currant and plum give way to tobacco, black pepper and vanilla, culminating in a long and satisfying finish. ($35, 14.2% alcohol)

Deep ties to Carneros, a passion for farming and a dedication to expertly-crafted wines – the Truchard family’s story can be tasted in every bottle.

For more information visit www.truchardvineyards.com.

Images from Truchard’s website

A Passion for Terroir at St. Innocent

To hear president and winemaker Mark Vlossak talk about the wines of St. Innocent is like listening to a conductor describe conducting a symphony. Each element in crafting a wine has its own role, whether it’s the grape, soil, weather, yeast or oak (new barrels, used barrels or none). When the winemaker brings together the melody of the grape with the harmony of all other variables, the finished wine is a true work of art.

St Innocent winesSt. Innocent Winery produces small lots of handcrafted, vineyard-designated Pinot Noir and white wine in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The name comes from the middle name of Mark’s father, though apparently he acted not so innocently every once in a while. Mark aims to produce wines that capture the essence of the grape and the terroir of each site, using oak only when complementary. The texture of each wine is important to Mark, as is its ability to pair with and enhance food.

St. Innocent practices sustainable, organic and biodynamic farming on its estate vineyard of Zenith Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, and leases blocks of vineyards from other Oregon growers who use these methods.

Mark shared five exceptional wines from St. Innocent Winery during the High Museum Wine Auction:

St. Innocent Chardonnay & Pinot BlancThe 2011 Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Blanc is Alsatian in style. Most of the wine was fermented in stainless steel, while a little less than one-third was fermented in neutral barrels; this was done to preserve the delicate fruit flavors while adding texture. The wine spent eight months aging on the lees before it was bottled. The St. Innocent Pinot Blanc has apple, melon and white apricot flavors that mingle with white flowers and ginger. Refreshing minerality and well-balanced acidity add depth and structure. The finish is crisp and dry. The Pinot Blanc is great at lunchtime or with hors d’oeuvres outdoors on a warm evening; it also pairs well with shellfish, ceviche, white fish, salads or Asian or spicy dishes.
($20, 12.5% alcohol)

The 2011 Freedom Hill Vineyard Chardonnay is made entirely from Dijon clones. In crafting this wine Mark sought the fully ripened fruit and rich texture of white Burgundy while capturing the terroir of Freedom Hill Vineyard. The grapes were whole cluster pressed, then barrel fermented in used French oak barrels. The wine aged on the lees for one year. The mineral makeup of the vineyard comes through in this Chardonnay, layered with delicate flavors of golden apple, pear and lemon. The finish is clean, with just a whisper of toasted almond. Pair this wine with seafood, risotto, chicken or other small birds.
($24, 13% alcohol)

St. Innocent Pinot NoirThe 2011 Villages Cuvée Pinot Noir is a blend of grapes from Vitae Springs Vineyard and grapes from young vines at Zenith, Freedom Hill and Momtazi Vineyards. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged for 12 months in 16% new French oak barrels. Red berry and violet aromas introduce a palate of fresh raspberry and cherry, with layers of black pepper and baking spice. Pair the Villages Cuvée Pinot Noir with chicken, pork, full-flavored pasta dishes, duck or sausage. ($24, 12.5% alcohol)

The grapes in the 2010 Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir came from the McMinnville AVA in the northern Willamette Valley. After fermentation in small stainless steel barrels and French oak the wine was aged for 16 months in 38% new French oak. Complex and intense, this medium bodied wine has flavors of blackberry, boysenberry, cherry and blueberry. These are complemented by earthy notes of spice, black truffle and forest floor. The Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir is silky smooth in the mouth, with gentle tannins and well-balanced acidity. Mark suggests pairing this wine with braised meats, stews, sausages, cassoulet or cheese. ($32, 13% alcohol)

Like the previous wine, the 2010 Freedom Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir was fermented in small stainless steel barrels and French oak, then spent 16 months aging in French oak barrels (31% new). Rich and elegant, this Pinot Noir has flavors of boysenberry, red currant and olallieberry layered with roasted fig, white pepper, allspice, dried rose petals and a hint of candied orange peel. Pair this wine with hearty chicken or pork dishes, ratatouille, lasagna, grilled lamb or filet mignon. ($42, 13.5%)

For more information on St. Innocent Winery visit stinnocentwine.com.

Copain: Exceptional Pinot Noir & Syrah

By Robin Alix Austin

When describing the wines of Copain you could begin with the name. French for buddy or pal, Copain calls to mind someone you enjoy spending time with and with whom you get along well.

At the risk of sounding a bit cliché, Copain produces wines that evoke the idea of a friend. Pleasing, easy to drink and with layers of flavors, these are wines you can – and want to – enjoy often.

Assistant winemaker Mike Lucia shared a taste of five wines from the Healdsburg, California winery during the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction in March.

Among all of Copain’s exceptional wine, the ones that really stood out to me were from the “Les Voisins” series. Meaning “the neighbors” in French, these wines come from grapes grown on neighboring vineyards in the Anderson Valley and Yorkville Highlands appellations.

Taking a sip of the 2009 Les Voisins Pinot Noir makes you understand why some wine drinkers are so passionate about Pinot. Even if you’re not the biggest Pinot Noir fan, I dare you to taste this wine and not think it’s absolutely delicious.

This Pinot Noir comes from the Anderson Valley and is a blend of three neighboring vineyards. At first it’s bright and juicy, with flavors of ripe cherry, raspberry and blueberry. Then comes some darker notes – boysenberry, white pepper, violet and a touch of star anise. Woven throughout is nicely balanced acidity and subtle minerality from the sandstone and shale soils. It’s silky and supple in the mouth, with a long, satisfying finish.

The 2009 Les Voisins Syrah is just as elegant but with more intensity. The wine is a blend of three vineyards situated on the same slope of rocky terrain in the Yorkville Highlands. Floral and black fruit aromas introduce a sophisticated palate layered with blackberry, plum, cassis, black pepper, graphite and allspice. Full in the mouth and well balanced, this wine culminates in a finish that has long-lingering spice and boysenberry jam notes.

Now these are the kind of friends and neighbors anyone would want.

For more information on Copain visit www.copainwines.com.

This is part of a series of articles on wines from the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. Click here to read more.

Numanthia: Bold Red Wines from Toro

By Robin Alix Austin

With a name like Toro, you’d expect this region in Spain to produce big and bold wines. That’s one element of the wines of Numanthia – red wines that have intense dark fruit flavors and massive tannic structure. Yet these wines also have elegance and finesse, a bull and a matador coming together in a show of artistry.

The matador of Numanthia is Manuel Louzada, a winemaker who is able to reel in, tame and refine the Tinta de Toro grape. This is a variation of Tempranillo that has adapted to the hot climate of Toro. Compared to Tempranillo, Tinta de Toro has thicker skin and a darker color.

Toro is located northwest of Madrid in the western area of Castile and Léon. It has a continental climate with long, hot summers and little rain. In Toro harvesting grapes at just the right time is extremely important for preserving the fresh fruit flavors and maintaining an appropriate alcohol content in the wine. As harvest approaches, Manuel tastes the grapes every two to three days to determine when they are ready to be picked.

Manuel shared a taste of Numanthia’s current releases while in town for the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. Numanthia was one of the few non-American wineries and the only Spanish winery participating in the weekend of wine events.

Numanthia was founded in 1998 and pays tribute to the area’s heroic past. The estate took its name from the towns of Numancia and Tiermes, whose people resisted Roman invasion in 134 BC by preferring death to surrender. Numanthia’s vines are strong too, resisting the Phylloxera outbreak that devastated Europe’s vineyards in the late 1800s.

During the High Museum Wine Auction, Numanthia’s wine held its own among the numerous full-bodied Napa Cabernets. All made entirely from Tinta de Toro grapes, these are wines so intense and mouth-filling you’ll almost want to chew them before you swallow.

The first wine Manuel shared was the 2009 Termes, made with grapes that were harvested from 30 to 50 year old vines. The wine spent 16 months in oak barrels.

Manuel’s aim with the Termes was to capture the lively and fresh fruit that he tasted in the vineyards. Deep magenta in color, the wine has flavors of raspberry, cherry, plum and fig layered with cinnamon, vanilla and tobacco. Chewy tannins give the wine a pleasant weight in the mouth.

The second wine Manuel shared was the 2008 Numanthia. The grapes for this wine came from 60 to 100 year old vines. The wine spent two years in new French oak barrels and another year in bottles before it was released.

With this wine you still find the fresh fruit of the Termes but it is enhanced by additional flavors of white pepper, molasses, cloves, dark chocolate, black tea and licorice. The texture is just as intense as the flavor, with sweet tannins and a crushed velvet mouthfeel.

The final wine was a showstopper. Speaking about the 2008 Termanthia Manuel said, “I feel honored to make a wine like this.”

The grapes for the Termanthia came from vineyards that were planted between 1870 and 1890. Manuel used delicate winemaking techniques to produce this wine including destemming by hand and “pisado,” stomping the grapes by foot during fermentation. The skins were so thick, said Manuel, that the men were able to stand at the top of the vats without their feet sinking in.

The wine went through two series of aging in new French oak barrels, spending a total of 20 months in oak.

The 2008 Termanthia is a wine you could spend hours describing. Complex aromas of blackberry, cedar, cocoa and spice expand and evolve on the palate. Layers of black cherry, cassis, clove, mocha, truffle and vanilla add depth, while delicate flavors of rose and violet add elegance. Concentrated yet silky tannins give the wine a lively mouthfeel, and the finish has long lingering notes of black fruit and spice.

This is the kind of wine that makes you crave a steak – and demands the finest dry aged cut. It’s a wine you want to sip all evening, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the intricate flavors and how it changes over time in the glass.

To learn more about Numanthia visit www.numanthia.com.

This is part of a series of articles on wines from the High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. Click here to read more.