Tag Archives: Oregon

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

AG Pick: Left Coast Cellars 2014 White Pinot Noir

Here at the Amateur Gastronomer we love finding new and special wines to share. Today we’re talking about the Left Coast Cellars 2014 White Pinot Noir.

A White Pinot Noir? Yes! This is a white wine made from Pinot Noir grapes.

Left Coast White Pinot NoirThere’s a good chance you’ve tasted a white Pinot Noir before, though in its sparkling form. Ever enjoyed a Blanc de Noirs? Meaning white from black, that’s champagne or sparkling wine made from Pinot Noir (and sometimes Pinot Meunier).

The Left Coast White Pinot Noir is estate grown in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It is 100% Pinot Noir that was fermented and aged on the lees in stainless steel.

The wine is almost colorless, with a faint pink hue when held to the light. On the nose are sweet aromas of white raspberry and wild strawberry. The taste is light and fresh, with flavors of tart yellow plum and McIntosh apple.

Enjoy the wine as an alternative to the summer rosé, as an aperitif or with salads, seafood or grilled chicken.

Once you’ve tasted the Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir, be sure to try one of their traditional Pinot Noirs. The AG is a fan of the 2013 Cali’s Cuvee Pinot Noir ($24), which has flavors of ripe cherry, cedar and baking spices.

For more information on Left Coast Cellars visit leftcoastcellars.com.

$24, 14.2% alcohol

>> Connect:
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AG Pick: Elizabeth Chambers Cellar Winemaker’s Cuvée 2011 Pinot Noir

Are you a fan of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir? Then you’ll want to pick up a bottle of Elizabeth Chambers Cellar 2011 Winemaker’s Cuvée, now available in Georgia.

The boutique winery in McMinnville is owned by Liz Chambers, a third generation Oregonian who specializes in high-end Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley.

Elizabeth Chambers Pinot NoirWorking with winemaker Michael Stevenson, Liz sources grapes from top growers in the region who use environmentally friendly farming techniques. Grapes for the 2011 cuvée were largely from Freedom Hill and Lazy River vineyards, which benefitted from warm days and cool nights.

It’s not just fans of Willamette Valley Pinot who will enjoy this wine. Bright and lively with fresh fruit and floral notes, the Winemaker’s Cuvée has that nuance and elegance you look for in Pinot Noir.

The wine opens with fresh aromas of cherry, raspberry and rose. These are further expressed on the palate, layered with ripe strawberry, cola, subtle cigar tobacco and a lingering hint of oak. It’s silky in texture, with well-balanced acidity and soft tannins.

The Elizabeth Chambers Cellar 2011 Winemaker’s Cuvée Pinot Noir is available in the northwest, Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Washington, DC.

For more information visit elizabethchamberscellar.com.

$32, 13.3% alcohol by volume

photo credit: Marc Weisberg Photography

More Red Wines | White Wines | Under $20

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.

Big Table Farm: Wines from Oregon’s Willamette Valley

By Robin Alix Austin

It is impossible to meet Brian Marcy and Clare Carver and not fall in love with Big Table Farm. The winemaker/artist team produces outstanding wines from their 70 acre farm in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

The name comes from a desire to provide a gracious and welcoming table for enjoying handcrafted wine and food with friends. On the farm Brian and Clare have chickens, pigs and cows, in addition to a large garden. They are in the multi-year process of planting a vineyard; Big Farm Table’s current releases are made with grapes purchased from other growers.

I first tasted Big Table Farm’s wines at last year’s High Museum Wine Auction. Their Pinot Noir and Syrah were among my favorite wines at the trade tasting. At this year’s High Museum Wine Auction, Big Table Farm’s wines were of the same high quality.

What initially attracted me to Big Table Farm’s wine is the whimsical label art. Clare draws these images, inspired by life on their farm. The artistry continues inside the bottle, with Brian’s finesse.

The chanterelle label is Big Table Farm’s 2010 Riesling, made with grapes from Brooks Estate Vineyard. The wine is barrel-fermented in neutral oak and left on the lees for 10 months. This is a dry Riesling, with notes of white flowers, lemon and almond that are balanced with fresh acidity.

The wine with grass on the label is the 2010 Pinot Gris from Wirtz Vineyard. What makes this white wine interesting beyond its taste is its pale orange color. Similar to how red wine is made, the skin was left on the grapes for a short time as they were fermenting. In addition to the color, the skin adds a touch of tannin to the wine. Notes of orange peel, raspberry, watermelon and spice make this a fun wine to sip.

Pigs and a steer are the images for Big Table Farm’s two Pinot Noirs. Don and Roger (the pigs) are on the label for the 2010 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. Ronnie the steer is on the 2010 Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir. It’s Ronnie’s second time appearing on a label; as a calf he was pictured on the 2009 Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir.

Last year I wrote of the 2009 Pinot Noir, “[this is] Oregon Pinot at its finest . . . a must-taste for Pinot Noir fans.” I feel just as strongly about the 2010 Pinots. The Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is fresh and juicy with flavors of cherry, raspberry, cola and spice. The Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir spent 10 months aging on the lees in 30% new French oak, which adds layers of vanilla, licorice and brown sugar to the ripe berry palate.

As with all of Big Table Farm’s wines, these Pinots are unfined and unfiltered.

Big Table Farm’s wine with the flatware artwork is the 2009 White Hawk Vineyard Syrah. This wine spent 22 months in 30% new French oak. Elegant and rich, the Syrah has flavors of blackberry, boysenberry, black pepper and cinnamon, with a long, satisfying finish.

From their table to yours, Big Table Farm’s wines are a real pleasure to drink.

For more information on Big Table Farm visit bigtablefarm.com.

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