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How Good is Olivier Leflaive Cuvée Margot Pinot Noir?

Wine Evaluation of 2014 Olivier Leflaive Bourgogne Cuvée Margot Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France

Rating: 89/100

The Cuvée Margot Burgundy Pinot Noir by well-known Puligny-Montrachet-based vineyard and producer Olivier Leflaive is a mix of 20 vineyards all alongside the Côte d’Or, from each the Côte de Beaune and the Côte de Nuits (see map under).

After a chilly fermentation that lasted for about 18 days, the 70% of the wine aged in oak barrels for 1 month.

Tasting Notes

This Burgundy Pinot Noir is available in a brilliant ruby crimson coloration, with some depth for a Pinot, not your calmly coloured French Pinot, however not your densely tannic-looking one both.

The nostril is pungently spicy, dominated by black and inexperienced pepper aromas, smoothened and sweetened by notes of bitter cherry, blueberry, and blackberry. There’s a clear sense of a vegetal character coming by means of, like once you swipe your fingers on inexperienced wooden, however the fruity factor stays dominant and tempting.

On the palate, that is clearly a dry Pinot, with a mineral, barely sharp an acidity.

It has mid-body, and velvety and barely edgy tannins too. The entire feels fruity and spicy, stuffed with contemporary crimson berry flavors, of the bitter kind, complemented by candy spices like nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon. The entire feels zingy, contemporary and fruity, though a bit edgy.

Actually, it is a food-friendly wine, one to get pleasure from with wealthy meats or cheese-covered dishes. It would reduce by means of the fats, spice it up superbly, and supply a luscious sense of berry fruitiness, given it’s paired with rounded oily meals.

Get pleasure from 🙂

Julien Miquel

Olivier Leflaive Cuvée Margot Label Photographs

How Good is Ca’ d’Or Pas Dosé Franciacorta?

Wine Assessment of 2011 Ca’ d’Or Selezione Grand Classic Pas Dosé Riserva Franciacorta DOCG, Italy

Rating: 88/100

This ‘Millesimato’ (perceive classic wine, from a single yr’s harvest versus a mix) was constructed from 55 % Chardonnay and 45 % Pinot Noir from the peculiar 2011 classic described by the vineyard as “characterised by main climatic modifications.

After 7 months for the primary fermentation in small metal tanks, the wine was refermented in bottle utilizing the standard technique, and aged on its lees (sur lattes) for 48 months.

Tasting Notes

This Franciacorta glowing is available in a vivid and glossy lemon-yellow coloration with hints of gold hues.

The nostril is considerably restrained, that includes delicate hints of floral elderflower aromas, some lime and acidic orange juice, along with discrete biscuit notes.

Being with out added sugars, this can be a very dry and mineral glowing wine, with a pointy acidity and no sweetness by any means. Bubbles are positive and the physique simply coating-enough the crisp and citrusy acidity. Flavors are grassy, with hay and lime with components of spicy white pepper and nutmeg, on a delicate brioche background.


A Franciacorta wine that includes clear and acute —name it mineral— an fragrant and taste profile, to pair with elegant but wealthy meals, exact and mineral, acidic additionally that can pair properly with creamy seafood entrees or dishes.

Get pleasure from 🙂

Julien Miquel

WSET & Wine Folly Tuition Giveaway

Trying to take your wine training the subsequent stage? Enter for an opportunity to win free tuition for the WSET Degree 2 Award in Wine & Spirits! Winner introduced February 20th.

WSET Course Giveaway Learn Wine Folly Blackboard Wine Education

We not often do partnerships. So once we do, it’s as a result of we consider the chance will actually profit Wine Folly readers.

At present, we’re completely delighted to introduce one of many main wine training organizations: WSET (Wine & Spirit Schooling Belief). If you happen to’re seeking to take your wine training to knowledgeable stage, WSET is a good selection.

For our partnership, WSET is gifting away one free tuition in the US!

Know somebody who will profit from this program? Undoubtedly allow them to know! This a large alternative for the fitting individual.

The Prize

One fortunate entrant will win free tuition to the accepted WSET Degree 2 Award in Wine & Spirits Course — an $ 850 worth.

Enter the sweepstakes right here.

(Sorry, no money or utilized tuition to different WSET/wine teaching programs!)

Inform Me A Little Bit Extra About The WSET Degree 2 Award.

The Degree 2 Award is WSET’s hottest program and is designed for each professionals and fans alike. It’s a bit tougher than an entry-level course, geared in direction of newbies able to make a bounce or intermediates seeking to solidify their data. In case your data of wine is self-taught, this can be a nice technique to carry collectively what you realize and plug any gaps you made alongside the way in which.

Listed below are the themes you’ll research and are available to know effectively:

  • How wine is made
  • What components affect the creation of wine
  • Key pink and white grape varieties and their traits
  • The essential wine-grape-growing areas of the world
  • Meals and wine pairing ideas
  • Principal classes of spirits and liquors, and the way they’re made
  • The right way to describe wine utilizing correct phrases

For extra data, please go to this system particulars web page right here.

WSET Level 2 Award in Wine and Spirits information Wine Folly

How Lengthy Does it Take to Full?

Ooh, now that basically is determined by the accepted supplier. One can count on minimal 16 hours of classroom or on-line supply time. Some programs do evening-only programs. Some do full-day blackouts. Verify beforehand!

After that, you’ll take a 50-question multiple-choice take a look at. Upon passing, you’ll obtain your WSET Degree 2 Award in Wine & Spirits and a nifty little pin.

It’ll additionally depart you in a first-rate place to tackle the tougher WSET Degree three Award, a seven-day sequence of programs that dives deeper into tasting approach and studying about manufacturing and distribution of wine and spirits.

What Can I Do With a WSET Degree 2 Award?

Listed below are some jobs which are geared to those that go down the WSET training observe:

  • Wine educator
  • Wine marketer
  • Wine model consultant
  • Wine spokesperson
  • Wine gross sales
  • Wine distribution or importation
  • Common wine enterprise and entrepreneurship
  • Wine director at a restaurant, cruise ship, or resort chain

Please Observe: While designed to offer skilled data and abilities, WSET don’t themselves assure employment or profession development.

Do I Have to Have Accomplished WSET Degree 1?

Really, no! The great thing about WSET programs is that up till Degree four, no programs are technically a prerequisite. If you happen to’re already fairly educated, hey, you get to leap the road. Fairly candy, proper?

Nonetheless, it is perhaps useful to gauge the place you’re at earlier than diving into deeper waters. Decanter journal has a wonderful little litmus take a look at to see if the Degree 2 is inside your attain.

What If I’ve Already Accomplished This Award/Have Different Superior Certifications?

You then, my good sir or madam, needs to be a great wine citizen and share, share, share with individuals seeking to get the place you’re!

What’s The Deadline To Enter? When Will Winners Be Introduced?

We’re accepting entries now via February 18th, 12:00 PST. A winner can be chosen at random and introduced on February 20th. (I do know, the suspense is killing us, too!)

Signal Me Up Please!

  1. Go right here.
  2. Be over the age of 21.
  3. Enter your title, e mail handle, and nation. (Open to the US solely.)
  4. Learn these Phrases and Circumstances.
  5. Hit enter.
  6. Drink Champagne. (Non-obligatory, however extremely inspired.)

Enter the sweepstakes right here.


By Madeline Puckette
I am a licensed sommelier and creator of the NYT Bestseller, Wine Folly: The Important Information to Wine. Discover me on the market within the wine world @WineFolly

Wine Pairing With Thai Meals

One of many world’s nice cuisines requires a terrific wine. Right here’s what to pair with Thai—a meals that mixes the candy, the bitter, the salty, and the spicy in good concord.

Thai delicacies is exclusive. Take a second to see for those who can sum it up in a single sentence.

No, significantly, attempt it. We’ll wait…

Time’s up! Not really easy is it?

What goes into your favourite Pad Thai or curry isn’t a random meeting of components. It’s a posh mix of the bitter, candy, salty, and spicy, in addition to the bitter and fragrant.

Wine Pairing with Thai Food - Pad Thai and Riesling Illustration Wine Folly

Wine Pairing with Thai Meals

Is there a wine that may pair with such intricate fare? After all there may be! The truth is, we’ve acquired a number of for the following time a Thai craving strikes.

Finest Possibility: Riesling

If Thai delicacies is all about concord, a pleasant off-dry Riesling is a welcome addition to the refrain. It’s virtually too good: dynamite tropical fruit flavors with acidity and sweetness to chop the spice. There are even some Rieslings that function jasmine of their bouquet! Plus, for those who’re delicate to warmth, the low ABV will guarantee the fireplace doesn’t get too uncontrolled.

Nice Options

So, you’re nonetheless anti-Riesling. (You’ll get there if we’ve something to do with it!) Happily for you, there are many dank alternate options, each geeky and prevalent for pairing. There are even a number of reds that work nicely for those who’re not all that into white wines.

  • Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio

    A viable various to Riesling, Pinot Gris has less-intense tropical fruit flavors and extra delicate acidity. Search out one from Alsace for spice notes of clove and ginger, in addition to a protracted, tingly end.

  • Chenin Blanc

    Inherently candy, with medium-high acidity, Chenin Blanc-based wines have been born to pair with Thai delicacies. Search out dry, off-dry, and candy examples for an particularly flavorful mixture.

  • Grenache Blanc

    Flavors of Asian pear, unripe mango, lime zest, and lemongrass make this a knockout combo with Thai meals. Simply watch the ABV: it’s typically 13-15% and can make the capsaicin in chilies burn further vivid.

  • Grüner Veltliner

    Gentle, zesty, and acidic meals deserves a lightweight, zesty, and acidic wine.

  • Glowing Rosé

    We love pairing Glowing Rosé with one dish specifically (discovered beneath), however fizz, fruits, and sweetness play properly with every kind of well-liked Thai dishes.

  • Pinot Noir

    Fruit-forward and acidic traits aren’t restricted to only white wines. If you happen to can’t stand any of the above, Pinot Noir might be your godsend.

  • Zweigelt

    Candy, bitter, and spicy, with a thirst-quenching character, we’re amazed that this mild Austrian pink wine isn’t extra extremely really helpful for Thai eats.

Thai Food Wine Pairings - Illustration by Wine Folly
It’s laborious to go incorrect with wines like Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Chenin Blanc, Glowing Rosé and Pinot Noir…

Thai Meals Taste Palette

Thai delicacies has a number of base components that may inform you of its flavors. Learn the information on taste pairing to create your personal wine matches with the components beneath.

  • Candy: Palm Sugar, Cane Sugar, Candy Chilies, Tamarind
  • Bitter: Tamarind, Kaffir Lime, Lime Leaf, Tropical Fruit
  • Salty: Fish Sauce, Sea Salt
  • Spicy: Sizzling Chilies, Peppercorns
  • Bitter: Bitter Melon, Bok Choy, Numerous Greens
  • Fragrant: Cilantro, Lemongrass, Galangal, Ginger, Thai Basil, Holy Basil

Thai dishes are additionally a cautious mix, one which emphasizes the steadiness of components as a substitute of getting one standout star. (Right here’s you chili peppers! Not all Thai meals is or must be that spicy.)

Particular Thai Dishes

by Thanakrit Gu

Pad Thai and Off-Dry Riesling

These sweet-and-sour noodles want no introduction. Place your order and pair it with a basic Halbtrocken (or Feinherb) German Riesling and take your tongue on a wild experience.

Pad See Ew - Thai Noodle Dish by Ernesto Andrade
by Ernesto Andrade

Pad See Ew and Pinot Noir

We’re pondering pink wine for this large noodle, umami-driven meal. Oregonian or Marlborough, NZ Pinot Noir has the suitable mix of class and freshness to spherical out this extra savory various to Pad Thai.

by Cindy Kurman

Purple Curry/Inexperienced Curry and Gewürztraminer

These two completely different sorts of curries historically have the identical base of coconut milk, with the colour of the chilies being the important thing separator. Whereas they could differ in spice, they don’t differ in perfume. The place there’s perfume, there must be Gewürztraminer.

by Jules

Massaman Curry and Carignan

It might be a Thai curry, nevertheless it’s nothing prefer it’s pink and inexperienced cousins. With components like carrots and potatoes and spices akin to cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin, this wealthy curry wants one thing with a little bit extra muscle. A Carignan from Languedoc-Roussillon is greater than as much as the duty.

by Dan Lundberg

Thai Spring Rolls and Glowing Rosé

Crunch and bubbles make for one hell of a one-two punch. The rosé glowing wine type imparts the correct amount of fruit and sweetness for the scrumptious bitter vegetable filling.

by Torbak Hopper

Thai Contemporary Rolls and Torrontés

That includes extra freshness and crunchy greens than different dishes on the listing, you’ll need one thing a little bit completely different: Argentine Torrontés. Particularly from Salta. Candy smelling, however drier than you’d anticipate, it’s the lean, imply pairing you need with this wholesome possibility.

by Julia

Thai Fried Rice (Kao Pad) and Brut Nature Champagne

Actually, our first thought for this messy little bit of a deliciousness was a cool, crisp Singha. However this isn’t Beer Folly. So as a substitute, go for the following neatest thing: an impossibly minerally and dry glowing wine with no added sugar.

by Lummmy

Tom Yum Soup and Grenache Blanc

This pairing is so good, we’ve truly written about it earlier than.

by Alpha

Inexperienced Papaya Salad and Grüner Veltliner

Candy and bitter. Fruity and savory. Crisp and agency. Inexperienced Papaya Salad (or Som Tum) showcases what Thai delicacies is all about. Riesling is the #1 stunner, however the unripe fruit flavors in Grüner make us wish to cease writing and revisit this pairing proper now!

by Stu Spivack

Mango Sticky Rice and Late Harvest Riesling

“Nuts to concord,” you say. “I’m all about that sweetness.” The favored Thai dessert of candy mango and creamy rice truly has a wonderful pairing accomplice: late harvest Riesling from Germany, New York, and Washington State. Count on aromas of lemon, ginger, and jasmine, and stimulating acidity.

Final Phrase

If you happen to DO give you the right sentence to explain Thai delicacies, go away a remark and we’ll wallow in its glory.


By Vincent Rendoni
I am a spicy meatball who loves light-bodied reds, fragrant whites, video video games, and for higher or worse, Seattle sports activities groups. I used to be an enormous fan of Wine Folly earlier than being employed, so I assume you might say I am residing the dream.

The New Sekt Wine Is Right here!

The brand new information to German and Austrian glowing wines.

Anybody who loves Champagne must know in regards to the new issues occurring with Sekt. What’s Sekt? It’s the time period used for glowing wines in Germany and Austria. And, it simply might need the potential to roust France’s stronghold on bubbly.

Say hey to Sekt.

Attending to Know Sekt Wine

Since its inception within the 1820s, Sekt has endured a lifetime of mediocrity. It is because Sekt solely maintained low high quality requirements, which allowed a tidal wave of low-cost bubbly into . On the constructive aspect, everybody drinks the stuff.

In 2014, Germany consumed over 5 bottles of glowing wine per particular person–FIVE occasions the speed within the US! Austria is available in proper behind, ingesting 4 bottles of glowing wine per particular person annually. The 2 nations symbolize the most important glowing wine markets on this planet.

After all, little or no Sekt is exported as a result of actually, it’s not good… (Think about what unhealthy children drink in public parks–my previous self included.) Happily, some latest modifications in wine governance present nice promise for distinctive high quality Sekt.

All About German Sekt Wine

All of us might look to Champagne for bubbly inspiration, however Germany can declare three high glowing wine homes. You’ll have by no means heard their names, however collectively the conglomerate manufacturers of Rotkäppchen-Mumm, Henkell and Söhnlein, and Schloss Wachenheim produce 575.four million bottles annually (2008 knowledge). Simply these three manufacturers produce extra Sekt than all of Champagne (which shipped 306.1 million bottles in 2016).

There are an estimated 2,000 producers of Sekt in Germany, nearly all of that are small producers. After all, as you’ll quickly uncover, a whole lot of the Sekt produced in Germany isn’t from Germany in any respect. Say what? Right here’s a run down of how German Sekt is classed and some notes on how you can discover high quality.


Fizzy booze water from just about anyplace however Germany.

Not like the phrase “Champagne,” “Sekt” just isn’t a protected time period. In Germany, the big producers are allowed to import grapes, juice, or wine to provide Sekt. These bargain-basement wines are labeled in accordance with EU minimal requirements and aren’t allowed to make use of a protected designation of origin (PDO). As an alternative, these wines might say “Sekt of France” or “wine from a number of nations of the European Union” on the label.

Most of those Sekt wines are produced utilizing the Tank (Charmat) Technique, like Prosecco. These wines are made for native consumption and also you shouldn’t discover them outdoors of Germany.

German Sekt

Base mannequin German glowing wine.

(aka Deutscher Sekt) A minimum of these wines are solely from Germany and are often made in a sweetish-fizzy fashion, utilizing Germany’s extra reasonably priced varieties from economical areas (like Müller-Thurgau). The wines will not be allowed to make use of a protected designation of origin, however can have the nation of origin on the bottle.

Most base mannequin German Sekt wines are made utilizing the Tank (Prosecco) Technique. This high quality degree of Sekt is type of like a fizzy Liebfraumilch.

German Sekt b.A.

High quality glowing wine from a protected designation of origin wine area.

(aka Sekt bestimmter Anbaugebiete or Qualitätsschaumwein b.A.) High quality begins at Sekt b.A., which specifies one of many 13 official German wines areas (Rheingau, Mosel, Pfalz, and so forth). Wines use regional grape varieties like Riesling, Silvaner, and Pinot Noir, and it’s even potential to seek out some Sekt b.A. made like Champagne utilizing the Conventional Technique and a mix of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.

As a result of there aren’t any guidelines specifying winemaking methodology (producers use each Tank, Switch, or Conventional Technique) it’s considerably troublesome to confirm high quality. The very first thing to do could be examine the label to confirm:

  1. The Sekt is labeled after a particular German area
  2. The tactic of manufacturing is the Conventional Technique (usually labeled “Klassische Flaschengärung”)
  3. The bottle has a high quality management take a look at quantity (in German, the A.P.Nr.)

The greatest factor to do could be to look into the producer and see in the event that they listing detailed details about the Sekt, together with varieties used, size of growing older, and winery areas.


Distinctive single-varietal, estate-grown glowing wines.

Winzersekt is Germany’s try to outline prime quality Sekt. This fashion of Sekt is mostly made with the Riesling varietal, though it’s potential to seek out them produced of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and even Pinot Noir (as rosé).

  • Grape selection should be listed
  • Classic should be on the label
  • Produced utilizing the normal methodology
  • Grapes should come from a producer’s or cooperative’s mixed vineyards
  • Wines should be made in the identical area the place they’re grown


Semi-sparkling carbonated wines.

The final classification of German glowing is a little bit of an odd duck. Perlwein is a carbonated wine (with about 1–2.5 atmospheres of strain) that may both be actually low-cost and horrible or technically an honest high quality wine with a protected designation of origin (PDO). There appears to be no in-between. Just a few producers are making high quality wines, however since Perlwein just isn’t a protected time period, it’s actually troublesome to confirm what you’re entering into.

Austrian Sekt Guide Infographic by WIne Folly

All About Austrian Sekt Wine

Though Germany produces the lion’s share of Sekt, Austria lately set the usual for high quality. In 2015, the Austrian Sekt Fee launched a set of bottle labeling requirements. The brand new requirements launched this 12 months on October 22, 2017 –Austrian Sekt Day!

The brand new requirements add three high quality tiers, of which two are very thrilling. Right here’s a run down of what to anticipate with Austrian Sekt:


Fizzy booze water from anyplace however Austria.

Bottle just isn’t allowed to incorporate a protected designation of origin (PDO) and can embrace both the nation of grape origin like “Vin de France” and even “wine from a number of nations of the European Union” on the label. What’s fascinating is that this customary is so low, it could’t really be from Austria. You’ll solely discover these wines once you’re in Austria and, on the plus aspect, they are going to be low-cost!

Austrian Sekt

Base mannequin Austrian glowing wine.

(aka “Austrian Qualitätsschaumwein”) This wine just isn’t allowed to make use of a regional designation apart from “Produced in Austria,” the place it’s required it’s constituted of 36 official grapes. Moreover, Austrian Sekt will need to have a minimal strain of three.5 atmospheres (three.5 bar – the identical as Prosecco). The classic and selection can also be displayed.

Up till 2015, base mannequin Austrian Sekt was the secret.

Austrian Sekt “Klassik”

Austrian glowing wines from a protected designation of origin.

The primary degree of “critical” Austrian Sekt wine high quality begins at “Klassik,” which should be sourced solely from one in all Austria’s main wine areas. What’s cool is the extra growing older requirement of 9 months on the lees–a course of that provides creaminess to glowing wine. Nonetheless, Klassik just isn’t fairly at fundamental Champagne (which requires 15 months lees growing older) ranges. When it comes to manufacturing requirements, Klassik is way nearer to Prosecco than Champagne.

  • 9 months lees growing older
  • Classic relationship is allowed
  • Tank methodology and switch methodology glowing manufacturing is allowed
  • Grapes should originate from simply one in all Austria’s wine areas
  • Launched on or after Austrian Sekt Day (Oct 22) of the next 12 months

What’s nice about Klassik is that many wines characteristic Austria’s superior, zippy Grüner Veltliner selection and they’re often beneath the $ 20 mark. Seize some Thai take-out and have a celebration.

Austrian Sekt “Reserve”

Premium Austrian glowing wines from a protected designation of origin.

The second degree of high quality Austrian Sekt is “Reserve.” The large distinction right here is wines should be made with the Conventional Champagne Technique, which is identical methodology utilized in…Champagne (duh)! What makes bubble heads enthusiastic about “Reserve” is the growing older requirement of a minimum of 18 months on the lees. Placing this classification on par with (or higher than) non-vintage Champagne.

  • 18 months lees growing older
  • Classic relationship allowed
  • Conventional glowing wine methodology solely
  • Grapes should originate from simply one in all Austria’s wine areas
  • Launched on or after Austrian Sekt Day (Oct 22), 2 years after the harvest
  • Solely allowed to be made in Brut, Further Brut, or Brut Nature types
  • Grapes should be harvested by hand

For a wine connoisseur, Reserve Sekt has all of the pedigrees of excellence.

Austrian Sekt “Grosse Reserve”

Distinctive aged Austrian glowing wines from a single village.

Grosse Reserve (“grand reserve”) will first launch on Oct 22, 2018, and it’s the very best degree of Austrian Sekt wine. Getting older on the lees should be a minimum of 30 months, which is kind of just like classic Champagne (at 36 months). Not like Champagne, nevertheless, winemaking guidelines for Grosse Reserve even limit mixing purple wine with white wine to make rosé. The extra requirement of being from a small village is similar to Champagne’s Premier Cru / Grand Cru classification system.

  • 30 months lees growing older
  • Classic relationship allowed
  • Conventional glowing wine methodology solely
  • Grapes should originate from a single municipality (village) and will have a registered winery designation
  • Launched on or after Austrian Sekt Day (Oct 22), three years after the harvest
  • Solely allowed to be made in Brut, Further Brut, or Brut Nature types
  • Grapes should be harvested by hand
  • Pressed solely with a basket or pneumatic press

Final Phrase: Right here’s You, Germany

Austria wouldn’t ever say this out loud, however we expect they’re attempting to one-up their massive Sekt sister, Germany. The reality is, Germany makes many excellent Sekt wines, they simply don’t have official rules which might be fairly as rigorous. To outsiders entering into Sekt, this merely means you’ll be able to’t use bottle label logic to guesstimate high quality.

Maybe Germany will take the problem and revisit their requirements with a purpose to higher assist us drink the good things!


Nice article on the small print of German Sekt, together with tasting notes by Schiller-Wine
Particulars about German Sekt manufacturing and large manufacturers (pdf)
Take a look at Wines of Germany for extra particular data on German Sekt.
Austrian glowing wine consumption statistics based mostly on percentages offered from Wines of Austria.
Statistics on annual Champagne manufacturing from 2016 by Comité Champagne (pdf)


By Madeline Puckette
I am an authorized sommelier and creator of the NYT Bestseller, Wine Folly: The Important Information to Wine. Discover me on the market within the wine world @WineFolly

14 Winter Wines You’ll Love

14 wines which are excellent for vacation celebrations, wealthy delicacies, and evenings in with Netflix.

Escape your ugly sweaters, digital Yuletide logs, and low-hanging Sport of Thrones references… winter is coming. Right here’s what we’re sizzling for when the temperature drops.

14 Winter Wines

First issues first, the classics:

  1. Barolo-winter-illustration-winefolly

    1. Nebbiolo

    Whoever got here up with the phrase “appearances could be deceiving,” should have had Nebbiolo in thoughts. Sure, it seems pale and nice like Pinot Noir, however this Piedmontese beast has excessive acidity and grippy tannins that may make for an expertise you gained’t quickly overlook. Decant for 45 minutes and watch it rain advanced rose, cherry, and leather-based flavors throughout your palate. You gained’t know what hit you.

    • Basic Areas: Barolo, Barbaresco, Roero, Valtellina, and Gattinara
    • Meals Pairings: risotto, charcuterie, winter squash, mushrooms, truffles, fancy silverware, and meals cooked in quenelles

    Micro Information to Nebbiolo Wine

  2. Shiraz-winter-illustration-winefolly

    2. Shiraz

    ‘Tis the season for one thing rugged. Greatest described as huge, brooding, and boozy, Australian Shiraz is understood for its highly effective black fruit flavors, savory undertones, and excessive ABV (14%-15%), because of plentiful Down Underneath sunshine. It’s not for the faint of coronary heart or palate, but it surely’ll heat you up in a rush.

    • Basic Areas: Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale
    • Meals Pairings: grilled meats, venison, boar, leather-based membership chairs, and snow banks

    Barossa Valley and The Wines of South Australia

  3. brunello-di-montalcino-wine-illustration

    three. Sangiovese

    We promise to maintain high-acid and high-tannin Italian wines to a minimal on this listing. (OK, we will’t promise that.) However can we gush about conventional Sangiovese for a minute? Earthy and rustic, it goes with every kind of winter eats and even vegetarian fare. Added bonus: Its advanced nostril is ideal for sitting, sniffing, and considering New 12 months’s resolutions. BTW, resolve to drink a Brunello this winter. You’ll thank us later.

    Information to Sangiovese

  4. f-cabernet-sauvignon-illustration-winefolly

    four. Cabernet Sauvignon

    We will hear you now: “Thanks for the rec, Captain Apparent.” Nonetheless, simply how superior Cabernet Sauvignon is that this time of 12 months bears repeating. We’re all consuming rib-sticking dishes, accumulating mass for hibernation, and Cab is a no brainer pairing. But it surely’s additionally greater than a consuming companion, it’s a considering particular person’s wine. It’s layered, advanced, and in case you go Outdated World, surprisingly delicate. Possibly it’s simply us, however you by no means actually know Cabernet Sauvignon. You simply constantly rediscover it.

    • Basic Areas: Médoc (Pauillac, Saint-Julien, Margaux), Graves, Napa Valley, Maipo, Coonawarra
    • Meals Pairings: pepper steak, brisket, vacation roast, duck, goose, lentils, and mashed potatoes

    Bordeaux Wine Primer

  5. puligny-montrachet-illustration-winefolly

    5. Chardonnay

    It’s so cool to hate on oaked Chardonnay. No, we will’t get behind that. Each wine has a time and a spot. The time is now for wealthy, buttery Chardonnay. Full-bodied with dominant flavors of vanilla, butter, caramel—and a contact of citrus—it’s fairly a substitute for egg nog and sizzling buttered rum.

    • Basic Areas: California (North Coast, Central Coast, Santa Barbara), Burgundy (Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, Grand Cru Chablis, Pouilly-Fuissé), Willamette Valley, New Zealand
    • Meals Pairings: rooster, turkey, sea bass, lobster, comté and gruyere cheese, mushrooms, cream sauce pasta, and cream-based soups

    Information to Chardonnay Areas and Extra

  6. champagne-illustration-winefolly

    6. Champagne

    Inform us, good friend: are you an individual who drinks Champagne year-round? If that’s the case, are available in for a fistbump. (Go forward, bump the display.) We’re probably not positive why so many relegate their Champagne ingesting simply to New 12 months’s Eve. It’s gentle, refreshing, and insanely versatile on the subject of meals. Certain, it’s costly, however there are reasonably priced options. Plus, we will’t consider a greater technique to remedy winter blues than with a little bit of the bubbly.

    • Basic Areas: Montagne de Reims (for depth), Côte de Blanc (for Blanc de Blancs), and Valée de la Marne (for Blanc de Noirs)
    • Meals Pairings: New 12 months’s Eve, fries, bacon, Christmas ham, potato chips, popcorn, latkes, cheese, and nuts

    The best way to Select Champagne the Proper Manner

  7. port-lbv-illustration-winefolly

    7. Port

    You say you don’t like Port. We are saying you don’t like Port but. There are plenty of wines we’ll be sampling this winter, however that is the one we’ll be reaching for after celebrations, by the fireside, and on the longest of winter nights. We’ll probably kick off with a Ruby, the least costly and most fresh-faced of the types. It in all probability gained’t be lengthy earlier than with get to the costlier, extra aged Classic and Tawny Ports, with all their wealthy, concentrated flavors. Our mouths water simply desirous about it.

    • Basic Areas: The Cima Corgo is named essentially the most traditional part of the Douro Valley
    • Meals Pairings: blue cheese (stilton, roquefort, gorgonzola), creme brûlée, black forest cake, cherry pie, chocolate truffles, and walnuts

    Information to Port Wine

However wait, there’s extra!

Strive these winter wines while you’re able to transcend the classics:

  1. eight. Viognier

    Why would we suggest a classically flowery white wine identified for peach, tangerine, and honeysuckle flavors? By Late January, you’re in all probability going to wish springtime in a glass.

  2. 9. White Rioja

    Hunt down uncommon aged Rioja Blanco, then put together your self for welcome notes of roasted pineapples, caramelized honey, and hazelnuts.

  3. 10. Valpolicella

    Pair your purple meat, mushrooms, and darkish umami flavors with a full-bodied Superior Ripasso, certainly one of Italy’s higher values. Should you can spring for Amarone, make it occur, Captain.

  4. 11. Mourvèdre

    (aka Monastrell) A gamier, extra untamed different to Cabernet Sauvignon, hunt down wines from Jumilla and Bandol for shining examples of this unctuous mom.

  5. 12. Sagrantino

    Grown on the small hillside of Montefalco in Umbria, deeply opaque Sagrantino is about as daring as daring purple wine will get! Simply ensure you have fat and proteins when ingesting to counter all that tannin.

  6. 13. Orange Wine

    It’s laborious to get going when it’s chilly and darkish. Attain for certainly one of these when smelling salts are briefly provide. (Kidding – sort of.) Should you wish to heat up with extra unique dishes (Korean, Center Japanese, African), assume orange.

  7. 14. Sherry

    Scoff at Sherry all you need, however the popular drink of bullfighters makes for certainly one of hell of a winter nightcap. Strive an Amontillado or an Oloroso Sherry for a wealthy, expressive different to whiskey.



By Vincent Rendoni
I am a spicy meatball who loves light-bodied reds, fragrant whites, video video games, and for higher or worse, Seattle sports activities groups. I used to be an enormous fan of Wine Folly earlier than being employed, so I assume you would say I am dwelling the dream.

Discover the Greatest Champagne on Any Finances

Must load up on bubbly, however clueless about price and high quality? To not fear! Right here’s discover one of the best Champagne and glowing wine for each funds.
Best Champagne on Any Budget by Wine Folly

Discover the Greatest Champagne on Any Finances

There’s little doubt about it: looking for one of the best Champagne may be an intimidating factor. Whereas it’s thrilling to traipse by way of the glowing wine aisle, it will probably flip tense fairly quick once you see the French names, opulent branding, and hefty value tags. You ask your self,

“How a lot ought to I be paying? Is it any good? Will folks really prefer it?”

You panic, seize the prettiest label, and velocity off to your celebration, hoping it tastes nearly as good because it seems to be. We’ve been there, executed that. That’s why we wrote this beneficial information stuffed with suggestions and methods on keep away from widespread mishaps and get one of the best style on your greenback. Consider this like a worry-free information to purchasing one of the best Champagne (and glowing wine) on your funds.

Desk of Contents

  1. $ zero–$ 10 – Mass Consumption
  2. $ 10–$ 20 – Primary, However Scrumptious
  3. $ 20–$ 30 – Getting Refined
  4. $ 30–$ 50 – Model-Title Champagne
  5. $ 50–$ 100 – Classic Territory
  6. $ 100+ – Status

Best Champagne Brands Under $  10 by Wine Folly
Massive mechanized manufacturing makes glowing wine potential beneath $ 10.

$ zero–$ 10 – Mass Consumption

So, you’re shopping for for a crowd. Or possibly you’re switching out your PBR for one thing a bit extra particular. Or possibly you simply must deliver one thing. We’re not going to misinform you; it’s not straightforward to seek out high quality on this value vary!

Whenever you do discover bubbly on this value rance, typically instances it’s the sweeter variety. The type that will provide you with a headache. (Although, ingesting an entire bottle of classic Champagne will do this too!) Nonetheless, there are a couple of reasonably priced gems from lesser-known areas and producers who’ve mastered effectivity and taste. The primary to return to thoughts: Spain and their lean and full of life model of bubbly, Cava.

What You Get: Cava, Prosecco, Home Sparklers

Some Useful Ideas
  • When doubtful, go along with Cava for a wonderful quality-to-value decide.
  • Be sure that the wine is Brut or Further Brut to keep away from complications (until it’s Prosecco).
  • Needless to say wines made with the tank methodology (like Prosecco) are considerably much less bubbly than actual Champagne—by Three-Four atmospheres of stress.
  • Look to areas not named Champagne, however nonetheless producing wine by way of the identical methodology. Search for labels which have Conventional Technique, Metodo Classico, Méthode Champenoise or Méthode Classique on them.
  • Love Prosecco? Nice! Base mannequin Prosecco shouldn’t be greater than $ 12.
A Few Examples
  1. Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava
  2. Paul Cheneau “Woman of Spain” Brut Cava
  3. Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Washington Glowing Wine
  4. Riondo “Spago Nero” Further Dry Prosecco
  5. Lunetta by Cavit Brut Prosecco

Best Champagne Under $  20 by Wine Folly
Glowing wines like Crémant d’Alsace and Cava supply large worth for the value.

$ 10–$ 20 – Primary, However Scrumptious

Now we’re getting someplace. In the event you’re on the lookout for a superb sparkler for a superb value, that is your candy spot. That is the place you discover your crowd-pleasers – a drink you’ll toast to and really need to preserve in your mouth. You deliver this to share with your pals, and it exhibits you care. Who’s the MVP of the get together? You might be (or a minimum of you’ll be.) No, you gained’t discover any actual Champagne right here. Not the biscuity, nutty, wealthy, or aged flavors that include prolonged ageing.

What you’re going to get are excellent contemporary, fruity, drink-now sparklers that pair with a shocking variety of bites. Although, when you play it good, you would possibly discover a respectable “Reserva” Cava or creamy South African or home bubbly that can shock you!

What You Get: Crémant (Good), Prosecco (Good), Home Sparklers (Good), Cap Classique (Good), Cava Reserva (Good-Nice), Sekt (Respectable)

Some Useful Ideas
  • Nice finds abound in lesser-known areas. (Cap Classique from South Africa; Sekt from Germany/Austria; Cava from Spain).
  • Crémant is the extra mild, reasonably priced French various to Champagne. Be taught extra about Crémant.
  • Prefer it candy and fruity? Search for Rosé, Cap Classique, Prosecco, or the time period “Further-Dry.”
  • Candy and fruity wines are nice for stand-alone ingesting, toasts, and as an apéritif.
  • Prefer it lean and dry? Go together with Brut, Further Brut, and Brut Nature types or Cava.
  • Dry types are nice for pairing with meals. (Nom nom.)
A Few Examples
  1. Treveri Brut “Blanc de Blancs” Washington Glowing Wine
  2. Gruet “Blanc de Noirs” Brut New Mexico Glowing Wine
  3. Gloria Ferrer “Blanc de Noirs” Carneros Glowing Wine
  4. Graham Beck Brut Cap Classique
  5. Antech Brut Crémant de Limoux
  6. Louis Bouillot “Perle d’Aurore” Brut Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne
  7. Lucien Albrecht Brut Rose Crémant d’Alsace
  8. Chateau Gaudrelle Brut Crémant d’Loire
  9. Sorelle Bronca Further Dry Prosecco di Valdobbiadene
  10. Ca’ Furlan Further Dry Prosecco
  11. Rotari Brut Trento DOC
  12. Juve Y Camps “Reserva Famillia” Brut Nature Cava
  13. Avinyo Reserva Brut Cava
  14. Castellroig Brut Cava

Best Champagne under 30 by Wine Folly
Anticipate wonderful high quality glowing wines from all locations however Champagne.

$ 20–$ 30 – Getting Refined

What does $ 10 extra get you? About as shut as you get to Champagne high quality with out paying for it. As this can be a step up, these wines are for occasions the place it’s essential to do precisely that. Spectacular wine that impresses. Excellent on your boss’ place, a flowery banquet, or a classy shindig the place seemingly everybody is aware of one thing about wine. (Assume anybody in New York or equally self-important cities.)

Bonus: You possibly can really purchase a minimum of one high quality cooperative Champagne (What’s a cooperative?) by Nicolas Feuillatte for $ 29.99. Whereas we’ve got some examples, at this level, it’s helpful to do some further homework in your smartphone (see suggestions under).

What You Get: Home Sparklers (Good), Reserva or Gran Reserva Cava (Wonderful), Crémant (Wonderful), Franciacorta (Good), Blanc de Blanc (Nice), Sekt (Good)

Some Useful Ideas
  • Do a little analysis on how lengthy the wine has been aged on the lees. This can be a fairly good indication of high quality. For instance, classic Champagne should be aged a minimal of 36 months.
  • Attempt the Italian Champagne alternate options, together with Franciacorta DOCG or Trento DOC. Each are Chardonnay-based sparklers from Italy.
  • Lookup the varieties used to get a greater thought of the style profile you’re getting.
  • Blanc de Blancs or Chardonnay-dominant? Anticipate extra apples, starfruit, beeswax, and honeycomb.
  • Blanc de Noirs or Pinot-dominant? Anticipate white cherry, white raspberry, mushroom, and a contact extra funk.
  • Macabeo, Xarello, or Parellada? These wines are sometimes leaner with quince, lime, and inexperienced apple notes.
A Few Examples
  1. Roederer Property Anderson Valley Brut Glowing Wine
  2. Scharffenberger “Excellence” Mendocino County Brut Glowing Wine
  3. Domaine Carneros Brut California Glowing Wine
  4. Schramsberg “Mirabelle” California Brut Rosé Glowing Wine
  5. Ferrari Brut Trento DOC
  6. Bellavista “Alma Cuvée” Brut Franciacorta DOCG
  7. Loxarel MM Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava
  8. Nicolas Feuillatte “Réserve” Brut Champagne

Best Champagne under 50 by Wine Folly
Introductory Champagne is lastly attainable, however you too can discover unbelievable Italian “Metodo Classico” on this vary.

$ 30–$ 50 – Model-Title Champagne

Welcome to the large leagues. Base-model, non-vintage Champagnes from the basic homes (Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, Taittinger, Piper-Heidsieck) are actually obtainable to you. Nevertheless, when you persist with non-Champagne areas, you’re in for an actual deal with: top-quality, single-vintage, prolonged tirage examples are straightforward to seek out and may be actually transcendent.

There are restricted home producers at this degree, however we will guarantee you they have an inclination to make it nice. These wines should not only for anybody. They’re for folks you care about. Companions, mother and father, siblings, and good mates. You’re bringing it and opening it with them as a particular deal with.

What You Get: Champagne (Base-Mannequin, Non-Classic), Gran Reserva Cava (High-Tier), Home Sparklers (Wonderful), Franciacorta (Wonderful), Trento (Wonderful)

Some Useful Ideas
  • Undecided the place to start? Listed below are profiles of the largest Champagne homes:
    • Veuve Clicquot: Signature ripe, wealthy baked apple flavors.
    • Moët & Chandon: Fruity, sweetish baked apple and lemon flavors.
    • Taittinger: Refined and lean yellow plum, white cherry, and bready notes.
    • Piper-Heidsieck: Lean, salty, smoky and clear.
    • Deutz: Wealthy, buttery, marzipan-like flavors.
  • Despite the fact that you may get good Champagne at this degree, Italian Methodo Classico wines from the Italian Alps simply stand as much as the large names. Search for Franciacorta from Lombardy or Trento from Trentino-Alto Adige.
  • We might go on about Cava (and can), however at this vary, you may get top-tier Gran Reserva and all its baked almond and apple-flavored glory.
  • Up-and-coming Champagne area to analyze for worth: Côte des Bar / Aube
A Few Examples
  1. Taittinger “Reserve” Brut Champagne
  2. Deutz “Traditional” Brut Champagne
  3. Louis Roederer Brut “Premier” Champagne
  4. Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut Champagne
  5. Ca’ del Bosco “Cuvée Status” Franciacorta
  6. Schramsberg “Blanc de Blancs” Brut North Coast Glowing Wine
  7. Altemasi “Pas Dosé” Brut Nature Trento DOC
  8. Ferrari “Perlé” Trento DOC
Wine Map of Champagne France by Wine Folly

Champagne Wine Area Map

Discover perspective on the Champagne wine area with this detailed map. Contains all Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards, elevations, and lesser identified areas.

Purchase Map

Best Champagne under 100 by Wine Folly
Incredible Champagne of every kind may be had for beneath $ 100.

$ 50–$ 100 – Classic Territory

The “oh s***” wine. The wine for husbands and wives…for births, milestones, and moments. If folks don’t perceive the magnitude of what they’re ingesting, it’s your sworn responsibility to inform them. You probably have expensive mates who know their wine, break it out. These aren’t wines you drink a lot as those you concentrate on and bear in mind. Not solely do you begin discovering classic champagne on this value vary, you additionally get entry to some actually incredible grower Champagne and superb non-vintage and rosé Champagne examples. You probably have any considered one of these bottles readily available, life is superb for you and you need to take a minute to acknowledge that.

What You Get: Classic Champagne (Nice to Wonderful), Non-Classic Champagne (Wonderful), Blanc de Blancs (Wonderful), Blanc de Noirs (Wonderful), Grower Champagne (Varies), Premier Cru and Grand Cru Champagne (Website Particular Champagne)

Some Useful Ideas
  • Unbiased analysis is essential at this level. Good locations to learn free opinions embrace Decanter and Wine Fanatic Journal.
  • Relying on the areas in Champagne, there are totally different types.
    • Montagne de Reims – Traditional, wealthy blends with a number of tertiary notes.
    • Côte des Blancs – House to the highest Grand Cru Chardonnay winery websites in all of Champagne.
    • Vallée de la Marne – Pinot Noir/Meunier dominant area with a cool, mushroom-forward character. Nice for wine geeks.
  • By no means heard of Grower Champagne? It’s glowing wine crafted by the identical individuals who develop the grapes. It embodies the type of particular person vineyards and the people who make the cuvées (glowing wine blends). Learn extra about grower Champagne right here.
A Few Examples
  1. Bollinger “Particular Cuvée” Brut Champagne
  2. Pol Roger Brut Champagne
  3. Ruinart “Blanc de Blancs” Brut Champagne
  4. Tarlant “Cuvée Louis” Brut Champagne
  5. Hervieux Dumez “Blanc de Blancs” Brut Champagne
  6. Egly-Ouriet “Custom” Grand Cru Brut Champagne

Best Champagne Prestige Tete de Cuvee
At round $ 150 you’ll be able to purchase the easiest Champagne from the best vintages, finest winery websites, and people who spend the longest time on the lees.

$ 100+ – Status

Oh ho, we’ve bought a badass over right here! You probably did actually good this 12 months, or thus far on this life, and it’s time to take a second to style success. Or, a minimum of drink such as you’re going to die tomorrow… These are the wines that kings and queens drink. Actually.

In Champagne, they name them “tête de cuvée” or “prime of the batch.” They’re probably the most obsessively conceived wines the chef de cave makes. Some producers, like Krug or Salon, solely make a tête de cuvée, ageing them on tirage (the useless yeast particles known as “lees”) as much as seven years earlier than they launch out there. All that point ready within the cellar is a part of the rationale these wines are so costly.

The type of top-dollar Champagnes is commonly wealthy, fruity, creamy, and nutty . In fact, you don’t at all times get this type at this value. It’s true that a lot of the massive manufacturers will go for a toasty, biscuity type, however many smaller producers select to champion the fruit of their Grand Cru winery with a leaner Champagne.

So once more, learn the tasting notes. To present you a leg up, since I do know you’ll ask, listed below are a couple of Champagne manufacturers that constantly ship an oxidative, leesy, aged Champagne at this value:

A Few Examples
  1. Veuve Clicquot “La Grande Dame” Brut Champagne
  2. Billecart-Salmon “Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart” Brut Champagne
  3. Laurent-Perrier “Grand Siècle” Classic Brut Champagne
  4. Piper-Heidsieck “Cuvée Uncommon” Classic Brut Champagne
  5. Nicolas Feuillatte Cuvee Palmes d’Or Classic Brut Champagne
  6. Perrier Jouët “Belle Epoque” Brut Champagne
  7. Cristal by Louis Roederer Classic Brut Champagne
  8. Dom Pérignon by Moët & Chandon Classic Brut Champagne
  9. Pol Roger “Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill” Classic Brut Champagne
  10. Krug Classic Brut Champagne
  11. Jacques Selosse “Substance” Blanc de Blancs Classic Champagne
  12. Salon Blanc de Blancs Classic Brut Champagne

The Champagne manufacturers listed are to get you began and characterize largely massive, well-distributed wines which might be obtainable in most markets. Preserve looking!

This text was co-authored by Vincent Rendoni and Madeline Puckette.

Need to Be Higher at Wine?


By Madeline Puckette
I am an authorized sommelier and creator of the NYT Bestseller, Wine Folly: The Important Information to Wine. Discover me on the market within the wine world @WineFolly

Veuve Clicquot “Wealthy” Rose Doux Champagne Cocktail

Every little thing you want apart from ice and massive glasses!

Champagne cocktails are scrumptious. It took loads of loosening as much as get me to strive them within the first place, however identical to with sabering bottles, when you strive it, it’s too enjoyable to cease. This week I made the employees a easy, two ingredient after work drink with the Veuve Clicquot “Wealthy” Rose Doux Champagne ($ 64.99) and a few very good hibiscus tea from Kusmi. Kusmi is a Parisian tea firm, and the tea I used they name their Aquarosa, and it’s based mostly on an Abyssinian pink tea. The Champagne simply arrived, and consists of 45% Pinot Noir, 40% Meunier and 15% Chardonnay, with 16% of the full purple wine constituted of Pinot Noir. It’s dosed at 60 grams per liter of sugar, making it a Doux, the sweetest classification for Champagne. Within the first half of the nineteenth century, it was not unusual to see Champagne with twice as a lot sugar as that, whereas now many Bruts are made with lower than 6 grams per liter.

Right here is the recipe:

2 teaspoons of Hibiscus tea + 1 teaspoon further for presentation (I used Kusmi Aquarosa)

10 ozboiling water

1 bottle of Veuve Clicquot “Wealthy” Rose Doux Champagne

Six giant Bordeaux or Burgundy glasses (I like Bordeaux form greatest since it’s simpler to get ice in!)

5lbs of top quality ice

At the least two hours forward of cocktail time, steep the hibiscus tea for 5 minutes lined with boiling water. You should have leftover tea, however the bigger amount will make a extra even steep. Pressure the tea, and funky within the fridge for a few hours.

Within the backside of every glass, add a pinch of hibiscus tea from the additional teaspoon for presentation. Then add one tablespoon of the completed and cooled hibiscus tea to the glass. Load the glasses with ice, letting them heap up on the prime. Loads of ice is likely one of the greatest tips for any nice rocks drink! Add the Wealthy Rose slowly, pouring a small quantity in every glass. It would foam up rather a lot, so go from glass to glass, evenly splittling up the bottle into the six glasses.

Bottoms up!

The cocktail turned out nice, and the sweetness of the Champagne was tempered by the tannin of the tea and the drink was properly balanced. The violet colour from the mix of the rose Champagne and small quantity of hibiscus was one thing to see. If the ice wasn’t there to decelerate my gulping, it might be a harmful drink certainly. That is enjoyable stuff to play with, and I’m certain that my many Champagne cocktail loving pals and prospects will provide you with even higher recipes. Evidently the very built-in sweetness of a excessive dosage Champagne is healthier in cocktails than including sweetener to a drier one after some appreciable experimentation.  Attempt it out and see what you assume!

A toast to you!

Self-Guided Wine Tour of the Willamette Valley

Contemplating a visit to Oregon wine nation? Get recommendations on the place to style, keep, in addition to what it’s essential to know earlier than your go to.

Morning mist in Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Stoller Household Property.

Residence to distinct and shockingly elegant interpretations of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay, Oregon’s Willamette Valley is shortly changing into the spot for wine fans.

This pastoral panorama could seem picture-perfect, however rising grapes on this cool nook of the world is just not straightforward. Daylight is scarce for a lot of the 12 months, frosts happen on the most inopportune occasions, and the primary grape right here (Pinot Noir) is notoriously delicate. It requires ardour to make wine within the Willamette Valley—literal ardour, as in one thing you’re prepared to endure for.

Luckily, the area is stuffed with decided, forward-thinking producers and cautious stewards of the land. All of them come from totally different backgrounds—farming/viticulture, tech, journalism—however they’ve one factor in widespread: they’re all tinkerers. They’re the sort of people that passionately debate using native yeast in wine, play with the microclimates in their very own backyards, and are consistently in search of to good Pinot—or attempt their hand at one thing that grows even higher.

Willamette Valley Wine Region Map - Overview - Oregon Wine Board
The Willamette Valley’s wine areas. Map courtesy of Oregon Wine Board.

Getting A Lay Of The Land

Sitting on the identical latitude as a few of the nice wine areas of the world (Bordeaux, Burgundy), this valley stretches from north of Portland to south Eugene. Idyllic as it could appear, the Willamette Valley sits on the Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Hearth, and is outlined by a somewhat dramatic previous. Suppose crashing tectonic plates, volcanic eruptions, and a two-thousand-year cycle of floods. The top outcome: a various mixture of marine sedimentary, volcanic, and loess soils.

Oregon Wine AVAs for Pinot Noir Map of the Willamette Valley by Wine Folly
6 sub-appellations inside the Willamette Valley every produce a novel model of wine.

Throughout the Willamette Valley, there are six distinct sub-appellations:

  • Dundee Hills – A hotter spot within the Willamette Valley nestled between the Coast Vary and Chehalem Mountains, that includes Jory volcanic soils.
  • Eola-Amity Hills – Outlined by the Van Duzer Hall, which offers a spot for Pacific Ocean winds to blow by means of within the later afternoon. Predominantly volcanic soils.
  • Yamhill-Carlton – Options hotter temperatures in addition to a few of the earliest harvest dates within the Willamette Valley. Composed completely of coarse, historical marine sedimentary soil.
  • Chehalem Mountains – Residence to the best level within the Willamette Valley. Shelters vineyards from sturdy winds, and options a mixture of the area’s main soil sorts.
  • Ribbon Ridge – A small, island-like area within the Chehalem Mountains composed completely of marine sedimentary soil which holds water nicely, however is low in vitamins—superb for viticulture.
  • McMinnville – Weathered soils, marine bedrock, with cool ocean winds sweeping by means of the Van Duzer Hall to keep up the grape acidity within the late afternoons and evenings.

What’s the Van Duzer Hall? This substantial hole in Oregon’s Coastal Vary mountains permits for cool ocean winds to pour into the Eola-Amity Hills and McMinnville, quelling excessive summer season temperatures and preserving the acid in grapes further tight. (Additionally, an amazing geographical moderator for a grape as delicate to excessive chilly and warmth as Pinot Noir.)

Styles of Oregon Pinot Noir based on sub-region - Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, Yamhill-Carlton, Ribbon Ridge, Chehalem Mountains, and McMinnville - by Wine Folly

The Wines

You knew Pinot Noir was huge right here, however possibly you didn’t know simply how huge. It takes up virtually three-fourths of all plantings within the Willamette Valley! Nevertheless, don’t be fooled into pondering in case you’ve tried one Pinot Noir from Oregon, you’ve tried all of them. Wines can drastically differ from one Willamette Valley sub-region to the following. A temperature distinction of simply three°C can tremendously have an effect on how the grape develops! (Rattling, Pinot, why you gotta be so sensitive?) That is why the wines can appear worlds aside from say, their Burgundian, Californian, or Tasmanian cousins. “Jammy” and “dense,” these wines are positively not.

So, what’s the appropriate Pinot Noir for you? Seek the advice of the information beneath and thoroughly take into account the label for an concept of what you’re going to get.

  • Dundee Hills – Vivid pink fruit, elegant construction, forest ground, cherry cola, truffles.
  • Eola-Amity Hills – Extra agency, with darker fruit and a brawnier texture.
  • Yamhill-Carlton – Ripe, textured wines with extra spice and floral notes than your common wine.
  • Chehalem Mountains – Strawberry, cherry, and pink fruit in cool vintages, with darker fruit in hotter years.
  • Ribbon Ridge – Rose petal, black cherry, damp earth with baking and Chinese language five-spice flavors.
  • McMinnville – Extra tannic than your common Pinot Noir wine, with darkish fruit flavors and mineral, earth, and spice notes.
  • Willamette Valley – A mix of fruit from varied sub-regions or a particular website elsewhere within the valley.

For extra on how the AVA (American Viticulture Space) classification system works, please see right here.

Whereas you could have come for the Pinot Noir, it’s the white wines that will shock you essentially the most. Pinot Gris from the area is excellent, boasting flavors of creamy pear, melon, and cinnamon, with minimal sweetness. Chardonnay has additionally made some important headway lately, usually creating structured wines with zesty citrus flavors and notes of nuts and fir. One other nice shock was the Riesling, which we discovered had surprisingly juicy fruit flavors and taut acidity.

Professional-Tip: Throughout your tastings, it’s possible you’ll hear the phrase “Dijon Clones.” Introduced into the US by way of Oregon State College from France, these particular Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clones (a vine selection chosen for particular qualities) are well-suited for cool-climate rising and produce fruit with intricate flavors.

Jason Lett of The Eyrie introduced a Chasselas out to lunch.
A really uncommon selection within the U.S., however widespread in Switzerland!

In case you’re searching for wines outdoors the norm, nonetheless, you’re in luck. Willamette Valley producers have been performing some fairly scrumptious issues with varieties like Pinot Blanc, Aligoté, Melon de Bourgogne, and Trousseau. Nevertheless, what received us most excited was Gamay Noir, which appeared to burst out of the glass with cranberry and raspberry flavors and a spice-driven spine. Nevertheless, we should always in all probability mood your expectations a bit: plantings and wines are removed from prevalent. However you recognize, it by no means hurts to ask round…

Enjoyable Truth: Oregon has a few of the strictest wine rules in the US, with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris needing to include a minimum of 90% of the range, versus different areas, which require 75%.

How Did Wine Folly Do The Willamette Valley?

See our 2017 Willamette Valley tour on Google Maps!

We gave ourselves somewhat over two days for our journey, coming down from Seattle to McMinnville, in a clean three half of hour drive. We have been fortunate that The Oregon Wine Board and Willamette Valley Wineries Affiliation helped us craft an itinerary to point out us the vary of what the valley has to supply and helped us maximize our time.

We wish to thank all the winemakers who took outing of their day to satisfy with us. We’d additionally like to provide a particular thanks to Emily Petterson, Sally Murdoch, Bree Boskov, Tom Danowski, Kate Payne-Brown, Jason Lett, Madison Rountree, Michelle Kaufman, The Oregon Wine Board, Willamette Valley Wineries Affiliation, and Stoller Household Property.

Right here’s the place we went:

Day 1


Stoller Household Propertyhref>
Sustainable, environmentally-sound winemaking within the coronary heart of the Willamette Valley.

Kate Payne-Brown is preventing a chilly, but it surely’s not preserving her down. Her enthusiasm is infectious. (Pun not meant). She’s taking us on a tour by means of Stoller Property’s one-of-a-kind facility. We attempt Amphora-aged Syrah, Beaujolais-style Pinot Noir, whole-cluster Pinot Noir—all made with Dundee Hills fruit from their property, all a bit totally different, all scrumptious. “We have now an id [in Oregon Wine]” she says, “however we’re nonetheless soul looking.”

Kate Payne-Brown is preventing a chilly, but it surely’s not preserving her down. Her enthusiasm is infectious.

Stoller Property’s facility is one thing else. Actually one thing else. Deep in its cool underground catacombs, Payne-Brown tells us all concerning the facility’s LEED Gold Certification—the primary of its type within the winemaking world and a world image for sustainability achievement. Toss in the truth that the vineyards are LIVE-Licensed and Salmon Secure, and it’s every part we anticipated Oregon wine to be. Perhaps somewhat extra.

Our tour wraps up late within the day and it’s already pitch black in Dundee Hills. However someway in any case the data and all of the wine, we’re reenergized. It’s revealed that a couple of of the Wine Folly workers have by no means seen a sabered bottle of glowing wine. Payne-Brown picks up a butter knife from the charcuterie board, pulls a glowing Pinot Noir from the fridge, and fortunately obliges.

Day 2


Elizabeth Chambers & Vista Hills
Kicking off our day with a glass of orangé.

Dave Petterson is having a busy day. He’s in the course of prepping for a wine dinner in Portland, testing barrel integrity, after which these wine bloggers present up. Nonetheless, even then, we don’t really feel the slightest bit rushed. We may by no means be so zen. “I’m envious of my beer mates,” Petterson jokes. “Beer you can also make shortly, however wine, you solely get about 30-40 possibilities in a lifetime.” He begins off our day with one thing a bit totally different from Pinot Noir: Orange Pinot Gris and Muscat Dessert Wine, each profitable experiments in our opinion.

“We’re not making an attempt to be France,” he says. “We’re extra concerning the spirit of journey.”


Our go to is transient and concludes with a slip of the tongue from considered one of our personal. “Thanks for the orangé,” we are saying. We’re off to an amazing begin on this junket. Petterson simply chuckles and wonders if he can use that.

The Eyrie Vineyards
Pioneers of Oregon Pinot Noir.

The Eyrie wants no introduction, however we’re going to provide it one anyway. Founder David Lett (a.ok.a. “Papa Pinot”) was the primary to plant Pinot Noir vines within the Willamette Valley within the 1960s. It was his wine, a 1975 South Block Reserve Pinot that positioned among the many high 10 on the 1979 Gault-Millau Wine Olympiad in Paris, proving the wines of the Willamette Valley may stomach as much as the most effective of Burgundy.


At this time, we’re being confirmed round by Jason Lett, David’s son and present head winemaker. Understanding the vineyard’s historical past, we have been somewhat intimidated beforehand, however we see immediately he’s pleasant, approachable, and down-to-earth—the Willamette Valley in a nutshell. After Lett provides us the 101 on Willamette Valley terroir, he kicks us off with a knockout outdated vine Pinot Gris, one to that’s certain to enchantment essentially the most vitriolic of white wine haters. Whereas it’s been joked that Pinot Gris is what winemakers drink till they will determine which Pinot Noir to open, Lett feels in any other case. “In my view, the opposite aspect of the Oregon flag must be Pinot Gris.” In that second, it’s onerous to disagree.

We elect to indulge our interior wine geek with samples of Melon de Bourgogne, Trousseau, and Chasselas, the latter of which he brings to lunch with us. As we chow down on the Valley Commissary, Lett appears enthusiastic about how revitalized McMinnville is now, particularly when it was so empty within the nineties. He does lament one factor earlier than dismantling his hen and waffle: “4 years in the past, we by no means would have had bother discovering a parking spot.”

R. Stuart & Firm
A tasting room straight outta Bretagne in Downtown McMinnville.

“Whoa, déjà vu.” First phrases out of considered one of our staffer’s mouths upon getting into Maria Stuart’s tasting room in downtown McMinnville. The staffer, who we should observe, had spent a while in Nantes in her youth, remarks, “I really feel like I’m in my Bretagne auntie’s front room.” Whereas nobody else may communicate to that, it was onerous to disagree. Be it the decor, energetic proprietor, or reasonably priced wines, every part about R. Stuart & Firm is pleasantly acquainted and approachable.

“We delight ourselves on not being stuffy,” Stuart says. “We wish to make wines you possibly can have daily with dinner.” We pattern every part, as a result of nicely, seemingly every part within the Willamette Valley might be had right here. Past Pinot Gris and their glowing wine (which is seeing a little bit of a resurgence within the space), we attempt Pinot Noir sourced throughout the valley (Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, and Yamhill-Carlton) and get a reminder of simply how totally different Pinot, even from the identical place, might be.


Coeur de Terre
Organically-farmed vines within the numerous McMinnville AVA.

We want we have been as keen about something as Jacques, Coeur de Terre’s gross sales supervisor, is about soil. However when a website is as dynamic as theirs is, it’s not onerous to see why he’s so enthusiastic. The McMinnville AVA contains a mélange of soils—marine sedimentary, marine bedrock, volcanic—and Coeur de Terre appears to have all of it of their yard. Add in varied elevations, slopes, and winds of the Van Duzer Hall, and you bought websites on websites on websites.

Scott Neal, co-owner of the vineyard, is a passionate man too. Whenever you insist on planting each vine by hand and farm utilizing solely natural and sustainable strategies, we don’t know in case you can name that something however passionate. (Our backs ache simply fascinated about it.) His wines are a superb reflection of the sub-region, but it surely’s his trio of reserves that seize our consideration: All are comprised of Pinot Noir, all from the identical winery. The important thing distinction? Fruit in these wines come from particular blocks, every with their very own predominant soils, elevation, and publicity. As you possibly can think about our tasting notes, whereas effusive, have been fairly totally different.

Day three


Goodfellow Household Cellars & Matello
“Oregon winemakers are wildlife photographers. Capturing a second, somewhat than creating one.”

Marcus Goodfellow and Megan Pleasure make us really feel lazy. (Which is truthful, as a result of we’re.) They’re already onerous at work, wrapping up the final of his harvest enterprise once we enter in an un-caffeinated daze. It will likely be a busy day, so he wastes no time in operating by means of his wines, every from particular websites all through the Willamette Valley.


As in France, Goodfellow depends solely on non-irrigated vines and prefers a delicate contact within the winery. No pesticides. No pointless spraying. “So many issues are put collectively for perfection,” he says. “Not only for what they’re. Our purpose is to not create a Lexus, which is a superb automobile, however extra of a ’67 Mustang, quirks and all.”


Brick Home
“Buzz, he’s a horse man. He’s 90 years outdated and nonetheless castrating horses. To me, that’s Yamhill-Carlton.”

These are Doug Tunnell’s phrases, not ours. We’re in his eating room, having fun with a vertical of Gamay Noir, a extra dependable, extra forgiving different to Pinot Noir. We all know Tunnell from someplace, however can’t place it. (We’d later be taught that the he was a conflict correspondent for CBS, possible on our tv screens each night time within the early nineties. It could definitely clarify his clean, broadcast baritone and penchant for good quotes.)

After spending time in a few of the extra embattled components of the world, he’s settled in properly on this Beaujolais-like spot in Ribbon Ridge as the pinnacle of this totally natural and biodynamic farm. As you may count on, he is aware of his land nicely and may paint an image. “In summer season, we are able to see the [marine sediment] soil, silica glittering within the mild,” he says. “Tough on farm tools although.”


We undergo almost a decade’s value of Gamay Noir, flavors transitioning from recent and tea-like to an more and more extra spiced and strong profile 12 months to 12 months. He remarks that persons are at all times making an attempt to pressure Pinot Noir, even the place it doesn’t develop greatest. Tunnell smiles and retains pouring.

“For Gamay, this may simply be the place.”

Craft Wine Co. Oregon Grüner Veltliner, Gamay, Aligoté

Craft Wine Co.
The adventurous aspect of Oregonian wine.

Buzzing tools, moist concrete flooring, a burly, bearded affable man who can’t wait to let you know about his product—are we in a vineyard or microbrewery? Irrespective of. We’re into it and we’re into Chad Inventory and his distinctive wines.

Chad Stock-craft-wine-co-oregon-1

Whereas Craft Wine Co.’s Omero Line focuses on extra conventional Willamette Valley choices, we’re right here to get somewhat bizarre. “That is America,” Inventory jokes. “I can do what I need.” On our ingesting docket: Aligoté, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Gouges, Gamay Noir—all wines comprised of extraordinarily restricted plantings—a few of which have been smuggled into the valley.

“Oregon is beginning to diversify,” Inventory says. “There are far more varieties right here, however it’s important to be right here to expertise it. It’s a behind-the-scenes secret.” We’re past grateful to have a peek.

Erica Landon talks terroir whereas I furiously scribble notes. Picture by Bree Boskov.

Walter Scott Wines
Perfecting the artwork of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Eola-Amity Hills.

Whereas Oregon wine could also be diversifying, Erica Landon thinks the work has solely simply begun with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. “Chardonnay is having a little bit of resurgence, after as soon as being an afterthought,” she says. “Growers again then weren’t paying consideration. Fruit high quality was decrease than it’s at present.”

Walter Scott’s wines are solely from websites within the Eola-Amity Hills, the place the Van Duzer Hall attracts in wind from the coast, cooling the grapes at night time and toughening their skins. The wines are larger and fruitier than different websites, however nonetheless have the area’s trademark magnificence. Landon jokes that she lastly let her husband develop Pinot Blanc, however she stays steadfast.

“If you wish to be within the dialog of Oregon wine, you’ve received to pay attention and deal with making the most effective product doable. We’ve solely scratched the floor.”


Brooks Vineyard
Willamette Valley Riesling for days. Actually days.

We’ve had no scarcity of fantastic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on this journey, however for our final cease, we’re going all-in on Riesling, a spread that flies beneath the radar right here.

There’s a celebration happening at Brooks at present, however winemaker Chris Williams, together with grower liaison Claire Jarreau, make time to sit down with us and go over their full lineup. Williams, too, makes a superb, entry-level Pinot Noir that sells for a surprisingly low value level. (“I could make an costly wine, too,” he jokes.)

Nevertheless, it’s the Riesling that has us further jazzed. Brooks’ choices cowl the entire spectrum of sweetness (dry, medium-dry, medium-sweet, candy), with a number of choices from each degree. The dry, acidic Riesling is a pleasant pick-me-up, but it surely’s the sweeter, riper stuff that we’ll find yourself writing residence about. We suppose we’ll at all times maintain a torch for candy wine accomplished nicely.

What To Eat

thistle-restaurant-oregon menu
Each winemaker we requested beneficial to take a look at Thistle Restaurant in McMinnville.

Seemingly each winemaker we bumped into beneficial Thistle. (All the time a secure guess, by the best way, listening to the winemakers. They know their stuff.) All native, all recent, all in-season delicacies in a heat setting with a radical wine checklist that includes Oregon producers and past. We loved an unbelievable meal of bread and fats, area greens, rockfish, and quail earlier than topping off it with an elderberry tart. Holler.


La Rambla additionally supplied a heat, vibrant setting–however with genuine Spanish dishes. We chowed down on creamy piquillo peppers, patatas bravas, and seafood paella. Other than having an excellent Spanish wine choice, additionally they have a couple of Oregonian takes on Iberian varieties. (We opted for a Southern Oregon Tempranillo with our feasting. #KeepItLocal)

European-inspired baked delights are discovered close to Yamhill-Carlton. Picture Credit score: Carlton Bakery

In case you’re tasting out close to Yamhill-Carlton and wish one thing hearty to sop up all of the grape juice, maintain your eyes peeled for the European-style Carlton Bakery. We’re nonetheless dreaming about their sandwiches and macarons.

Final, however positively not least, we should advocate The Valley Commissary for breakfast and lunch. It has the excellence of being the one place Wine Folly visited twice. With native substances, scratch-made dishes, and common winemaker approval, how may we not? Professional-Tip: The fried hen and waffle was heartily beneficial to us and lived as much as the hype.

Additionally, hazelnuts, y’all. Oregon produces 99% of the US’ crop. Don’t go away right here with out them.

The place To Keep

We opted for the quirky, centrally-located Resort Oregon-McMenamin’s in Downtown McMinnville. For these of you who don’t learn about McMenamin’s, this un-chain-like chain of properties takes outdated, historic buildings throughout the Pacific Northwest and converts them into extra idiosyncrantic lodging. Each room is exclusive, with this author specifically having fun with a keep within the UFO Room.

(For these of you interested by McMinnville and its connections with UFOs, please learn right here.)

The compact, colourful rooftop bar was the proper place for a nightcap and so they charged us a really modest corkage charge once we introduced our personal bottles in. That view, too. Whew.

Hotel Oregon-McMenamin-ufo-room-1

Be Warned: A lot of the rooms are shared toilet solely, one thing we brushed apart at first with our can-do angle, however got here to remorse later. (Although they have been very nicely maintained!) Luckily, there are a handful of rooms with extra, let’s say, conventional lodging and an elevator for many who went H.A.M. with their bottle purchases.

You’ll be able to hire a complete cottage at Stoller Household Property. Picture Credit score: Stoller Household Property

In case you’re coming with a big group or just choose a keep outdoors of city, the cottages and homes at Stoller Household Property will place you smack-dab in the course of wine nation. Added Bonus: It’s a brief stroll to their vineyard and tasting room. Although, you could have a tough time leaving. It’s virtually too straightforward to sit down on a sofa with a Reserve Pinot Noir, a block of cheese, and get into an entire It’s All the time Sunny in Philadelphia marathon.

What To Do When Wined Out

Outdated timber barn in McMinnville’s Granary District, residence to Flag & Wire.

After we wanted a kick, we visited Flag & Wire, a wholesale espresso firm over within the up-and-coming Granary District. In a area that’s already recognized for knockout espresso, this little roastery stood out in an enormous, huge manner. Whereas generally the extra elaborate descriptions of espresso can fail to ship, these ones have been true to kind. After they say it’s like a blueberry dipped in acid, it tastes like a blueberry dipped in acid.

Good espresso can actually make the whole day higher. Picture Credit score: Flag & Wire.

After a day of ingesting (and spitting), we stumbled into The Bitter Monk, a comfy little brewpub with board video games on McMinnville’s principal drag. We all know you’re on the town for wine, however make room for Oregon beer. Perhaps we’re biased, however we predict what’s popping out of the area is really world-class.

Additionally, do you know that The Spruce Goose, (the airplane with the biggest wingspan ever constructed) might be discovered within the Willamette Valley? In case you want a break from all that snacking and imbibing, we closely advocate a go to to the Evergreen Aviation and House Museum. It’s onerous to overlook: it’s on the principle highway into city and has a Boeing 747 on high of it.

Finest Instances To Go to

We visited in fall, simply on the tail finish of harvest. Whereas it was somewhat chilly and damp, the spectacular autumn surroundings and decreased crowd dimension suited us simply superb. Zero complaints right here.

In case you choose some solar together with your wine touring, Memorial Day Weekend by means of early September would be the greatest time to go. Even then, there’s no climate assure, however ’tis life within the Pacific Northwest. If you actually need solar, shoot for late July and early August… temperatures generally spike up into the 100s! (That’s 40 ºC, btw.) Additionally, you may examine the Worldwide Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC) which is held yearly in late July for a jam-packed, academic, Pinot-filled weekend.

What’s The Vibe?

Each the product and the persons are extremely approachable. Just a bit over 30 minutes outdoors the ever-bustling, ever-more crowded Portland, you’ll be handled to an open panorama of farmland, vineyards, and charming cities like McMinnville and Carlton. This isn’t Napa the place you’ll be judged in your appears. No $ 50 tasting charges. Not a château in sight. Everybody’s welcome right here. So do like a Northwesterner: placed on a water-resistant jacket, strap on some Gore-Tex boots, and style.

The Oregon Wine Board
Willamette Valley Wineries Affiliation


By Vincent Rendoni
I am a spicy meatball who loves light-bodied reds, fragrant whites, video video games, and for higher or worse, Seattle sports activities groups. I used to be an enormous fan of Wine Folly earlier than being employed, so I suppose you could possibly say I am residing the dream.

Ruinart in Redwood City!

The crayeres of Ruinart are undoubtedly the most beautiful cellars in all of Champagne, and many of the galleries date back to the middle ages.

Today in Redwood City we will taste Champagne Ruinart for the final Champagne Friday of 2016. The house of Ruinart is the oldest of all Champagne producers, and shipped their first bottle in 1728. I have visited them twice, and it is a must see for anyone traveling in the area. Ruinart is built on top of the oldest cellars in Reims, the famed crayeres (chalk pits) that were excavated by hand over 1000 years ago. The Ruinart family was originally in the textile business, but switched over completely to the Champagne business by 1735. This house was purchased by Moet in 1963, and is currently owned by their umbrella company, LVMH, the largest luxury goods conglomerate in the world.

Ruinart is very famous in France but still just getting recognized here in the US. They were out of our market for a long time, and when they first came back, we carried them immediately. At first, almost all of our sales were to French ex-pats, and many of our French customers come specifically for Ruinart still. The wines are exceptionally clean and fresh as a group, with wonderful fruit expression as well as great acidity and texture.

Fredéric Panaîotis is the current cellarmaster of Ruinart and continues a tradition dating back to 1728!

The current celarmaster at Ruinart, Fredéric Panaîotis is one of the great characters of Champagne. He likes to be called Fred, and is very outspoken and free, the opposite of most of the top negociant executives I have met. His wines are very elegant none the less!

His Ruinart Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($ 64.99) is a wonderfully different style of Chardonnay based Champagne than any other that we have. While almost all of the others that we carry rely on the laser precision of Cote de Blanc fruit exclusively, this wine balances this electricity with the rich, nearly grapey Chardonnay of the Mountain of Reims. The result is magic; a full bodied blanc de blancs that still finishes dry and long!These crus; Trepail and Villers Marmery on the Mountain of Reims round out the mineraly focus of the Cotes de Blancs fruit. This is a creamy, subtly toasty bottle of Champagne with a little bit of lychee exoticism. It has class to spare and is exceptionally easy to drink.

The Ruinart Brut Rosé Champagne ($ 74.99) is a rich, well balanced rose will delight fans of great pink Champagne with a great contrast between pure Pinot fruit and pure Champagne chalk. It is a blend of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay, with 18% of the Pinot vinified red and blended in for color and flavor. It has a little more color than most rose Champagne and a soft, full bodied texture. It is rich and satisfying, despite the deceptively high proportion of Chardonnay.

The flagship of the house is the 2004 Ruinart “Dom Ruinart” Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne ($ 139.99). It is composed of all Grand Cru Chardonnay with 69% sourced from the Cotes de Blancs and the balance sourced from Sillery and Puisieulx, two sites on the north face of the Mountain of Reims. With ten years of ageing on the lees, the wine has wonderful vanilla cake dough richness, but is still vibrant and fresh. The characteristic chalky drive of the classic 2004 vintage makes for a long, bright finish, and this wine should continue to improve for decades. I recently had a bottle of the 1966 that still had time in hand! Unlike many big names, their vintage program, which this Blanc de Blanc is just one part of, represents only 1% of their production. The high degree of selection really shows!

We will taste all three of these today with Megan Gordon from Champagne Ruinart in our Redwood City store from 5pm to 6:30pm. I hope to see you there!

A toast to you!