Tag Archives: Pinot Noir

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

Vinogram: Anaba Pinot Noir 2013

For more information visit anabawines.com.

AG Pick: Loveblock Pinot Noir 2012

Celebrate love this Valentine’s Day and beyond with a bottle of the 2012 Loveblock Pinot Noir. This red wine comes from Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand. It’s a region known for high quality Pinot Noir, and Loveblock is just that.

Loveblock Pinot NoirThe winery was founded by Erica and Kim Crawford. Kim, Loveblock’s winemaker, is probably best known for the wines that carry his name, though he is no longer involved with the brand.

As the floral label would indicate, Loveblock is an aromatic Pinot Noir. Red fruit and violet aromas are further expressed on the palate. Cherry, raspberry and ripe strawberry flavors mix with white pepper and sage. The finish has a subtle note of dried mushroom.

The Loveblock Pinot Noir is light to medium in body, with a silky texture. It pairs well with a variety of foods so enjoy it with aphrodisiacs or at a romantic dinner with your Valentine.

For more information on Loveblock wines visit loveblock.co.nz. Loveblock Pinot Noir is imported by Terlato Wines.

$37, 14% alcohol

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:
Facebook: leftcoastcellars
Twitter: @leftcoastwine
Instagram: @leftcoastcellars

Kalfu Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

AG Pick: Kalfu Kuda Chardonnay & Sumpai Pinot Noir

The Pacific Ocean is important to the wines of Kalfu. From the Leyda Valley in Chile, these wines are influenced by the cool coastal climate. The ocean is also reflected in the name — Kalfu, meaning “blue” in the language of the indigenous Mapuche, is synonymous with the vast body of water.

The vineyards experience cool breezes and early morning fogs that help to slowly and steadily ripen the grapes. This is captured in the wines, which exude bright and refreshing characteristics.

Kalfu Chardonnay and Pinot NoirThe 2013 Kalfu Kuda Chardonnay is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes from estate vineyards in the Leyda Valley. The soil is a mix of granite and clay. This wine is unoaked; stainless steel fermentation preserves the freshness of the fruit.

At first sniff you might think this Chardonnay is actually a Sauvignon Blanc because of its citrus aromas. Crisp flavors of yellow grapefruit, tart pineapple and golden apple make it a wine you’d want to sip on a hot day. ($18.99, 13% alcohol)

The 2013 Kalfu Sumpai Pinot Noir is light in body with delicate acidity. Think more Washington State or Finger Lakes rather than California. The wine is 100% Pinot Noir from estate vineyards with stony alluvial clay soil in the Leyda Valley. It was aged for 10 months in 20% new French oak.

Cherry, fresh strawberry and yellow plum mix with white pepper and sarsaparilla, and end in a clean, crisp finish. ($23.99, 13.5% alcohol).

Kalfu wines are produced by Viña Ventisquero.

Biltmore American Series

The American Series from The Biltmore Estate

The Biltmore Estate is all decked out for the holidays, making it a picturesque time to visit. But if you’re not able to tour the historic home and winery, you can still bring a part of it into your home.

The American Series of wines from the Biltmore Estate are American grown and North Carolina produced. Winemakers source the grapes from top vineyards and growers in California and Washington, then craft the wines at the estate winery in Asheville.

Biltmore American Pinot GrigioThe Biltmore Estate American Pinot Grigio 2013 is light and refreshing with citrus, pear and apple notes and a touch of sweet tangerine. It’s a blend of California (90%) and Washington (10%) grapes, with a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay added to the Pinot Grigio. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks at a low temperature to preserve the fresh fruit characteristics.

Winemakers at the Biltmore Estate suggest pairing the American Pinot Grigio with calamari with creamy lime sauce, scallops wrapped in bacon, crab cakes, chicken, seafood and tuna salads. $12, 13.6% alcohol

Biltmore American Pinot NoirThe Biltmore Estate American Pinot Noir 2012 has the lushness you look for in Pinot with an inviting spiciness from the addition of Syrah. Costing less than $20, it’s a great value. The grapes for this wine came entirely from California. After fermentation the wine spent six to eight months aging in stainless steel tanks, French and American oak barrels. Red cherry, plum and vanilla flavors mingle with white pepper and baking spice.

A versatile wine, the Biltmore Estate American Pinot Noir may be enjoyed with the varied flavors of any holiday meal. Other suggested pairings include salmon, smoked turkey, barbecue and Boursin cheese.
$17, 14.2% alcohol

Biltmore American Cabernet SauvignonThe Biltmore Estate American Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 brings together California, Washington and North Carolina, with 45% of the grapes coming from the estate vineyards in Asheville (46% from California and 9% from Washington). Rounding out the Cabernet Sauvignon is a touch of Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Malbec and Pinot Noir. The wine was aged eight to twelve months in French and American oak barrels before it was blended and bottled. Medium in body with soft tannins, the red wine has supple notes of black currant, black cherry, boysenberry, vanilla and rosemary.

Suggested pairings from the Biltmore winemakers include lamb with rosemary, hamburgers and smoked Gouda cheese.
$17, 13.6% alcohol

For more information on the American Series and the other wines from the Biltmore Estate visit biltmorewines.com.

>> Connect:
Facebook: Biltmore
Twitter: @BiltmoreEstate
Instagram: @biltmoreestate

Alsace wines

Spotlight on Alsace

Sparkling, dry or sweet, there’s a wine from Alsace to match your taste.

Alsace is located in the northeast of France near the border with Germany. To find it on a map, look for Paris, then move your finger east, through Champagne. Like Champagne, Alsace produces sparkling wine using the traditional method, called Crémant d’Alsace. And like Germany, you’ll find Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are also grown, as is a small amount of Pinot Noir.

The wines from Alsace are ideal for the transition from summer to fall flavors. Try one of these wines:

Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé

Lucien Albrecht Cremant RoseIf you’re new to sparkling wine from Alsace, the Crémant from Lucien Albrecht (both the rosé and white) are an excellent place to begin your discovery. The AG has been a longtime fan — we first wrote about the Brut Reserve in 2008. The rosé is 100% Pinot Noir that was whole cluster hand picked, then gently pressed in a pneumatic press.

Coral-pink in color, the Crémant has small, energetic bubbles. Crisp flavors of wild strawberry, red cherry and white raspberry culminate in a soft finish that has a hint of cream.
$20, 12% alcohol

Joseph Cattin Crémant d’Alsace Brut

Joseph Cattin Cremant BrutNot as dry and more fruity than the Lucien Albrecht, the Joseph Cattin evokes the freshness of biting into an apricot picked at the peak of ripeness. This sparkling wine is a blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay. The grapes were hand picked, then slow crushed and cold fermented to preserve their character.

Effervescent with aromas of stone fruit and freshly baked bread, the Crémant has flavors of apricot, white peach and pluot, with lingering sweetness on the finish.
$19, 12% alcohol

Dopff & Irion Cuvée René Dopff Riesling 2012

Dopff & Irion RieslingThe name of this wine pays tribute to the man who took over the domaine in 1945 and implemented a new, terroir driven approach to winemaking in Alsace. This wine is made entirely from Riesling from Les Murailles, a single vineyard located on a hillside near the village of Riquewihr.

Pale yellow in color and very aromatic, the wine starts sweet but is immediately energized by bright acidity. Honeysuckle, nectarine and green apple come together with a hint of flinty minerality for a crisp finish.
$20, 12% alcohol

Domaines Schlumberger Riesling Les Princes Abbés 2009

Schlumberger RieslingThe history of Domaines Schlumberger dates from the early 1800s, though winemaking in Guebwiller goes back much earlier. During the 12th century it became one of the more important towns in Alsace because of its winemaking, thanks to the Princes Abbots (Princes Abbés) who were the first to sell the wine. Approximately half of the Riesling grapes for this wine come from Grand Cru vineyards.

With a light yellow color, the wine opens with floral aromas and a touch of petrol. Orange blossom and wildflower honey flavors give way to crisper clementine, white peach, green apple and subtle shale notes. Medium acidity adds structure and a supple mouthfeel. The finish is clean and fresh.
$20, 12% alcohol

Want to learn more about Alsace? Visit www.winesofalsace.com.

Grey Single Block Pinot Noir 2012 #vinogram

Grey Pinot NoirGrey Single Block Pinot Noir 2012, from Las Terrazas vineyard in Chile’s Leyda Valley. 100% Pinot Noir. 12 months in French oak (15% new). Soft & silky with notes of black cherry, plum, blueberry. Balanced acidity, rounded tannins. Pair with fish, pasta, soup & cheese. $23.99 #vinogram #agpick #wine #Chile

More information: www.ventisquero.com

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

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