Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pinot Lovers, Save the Date: Sept. 13

Oregon's Pinot Noir heartland is Willamette Valley, a far drive from the Bay Area. But come Sept. 13, you'll have a great opportunity to taste the excellent wines from this rainy Northwest region, famed for its Burgundian terroir and wines, when Willamette Wines lands in SF.

The event will be at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio, Thursday night, from 6 to 9 pm.

A trade tasting will take place from 12-4 pm.

The organically grown wines that will be available to taste include:

Brooks (Organic/Biodynamic)
Cooper Mountain (Biodynamic)
Lemelson (Biodynamic)
Montinore (Biodynamic)
Sokol Blosser (Some Organic)

For more event details, click here.

McFadden's Winning Wines

Correction: I inadvertently omitted McFadden's wines from the Mendocino Wine Competition list of winners by winery.

Here are the winning McFadden wines:

Double Gold: Brut (Sparkling)
Silver: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris (2011), Sauvignon Blanc (2009), Gewurztraminer (2009), Riesling (2010)
Bronze: Pinot Gris (2007)

The original post has been updated to include them.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mendocino Wine Contest Winners: Listed By Winery

It might seem like I am making much ado over the Mendocino Wine Competition winners list, but, let me explain: this, folks, is one of the best shopping lists to consider when looking for affordably priced, organically grown wines (at least until my app is published).

I've taken the list of winners, and organized the organic among them by winery, so you can see which wineries won what. This can also help you organize yourself come Hopland Passport or other wine-tasting trips in Mendocino's wine regions if you want to taste or buy the wineries' top rated wines.

Silver: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Rose (Pinot Noir)
Bronze: Cabernet, Zinfandel

BINK (1)
Silver: Sauvignon Blanc

Double Gold: The McNab (Bordeaux Blend), Chardonnay
Gold: Viognier
Silver: Pinot Noir, Zinfandel
Bronze: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Red Blend (Rhones: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre)

Double Gold: Nero D'Avola
Silver: Petite Sirah, Negramoro
Bronze: Zinfandel

FREY (NAS - No Added Sulfites) (2)
Silver: Chardonnay
Bronze: Carignane

Gold: Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc
Silver: Muscat
Bronze: Chardonnay

Double Gold: Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley)
Silver: Chardonnay
(Handley had many more entries but the others were not organically grown).

Double Gold: Brut (Sparkling)
Silver: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris (2011), Sauvignon Blanc (2009), Gewurztraminer (2009), Riesling (2010)
Bronze: Pinot Gris (2007)

Silver: Rose
Bronze: Pinot Noir

Gold: Sauvignon Blanc
Silver: Sparkling Wine, Zinfandel

Gold: Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc
Silver: Pinot Noir (Filigreen), Pinot Noir (Potter Valley), Red Blend: Deep Red, Zinfandel
Bronze: Chardonnay

Gold: Sauvignon Blanc
Silver: Malbec

Bronze: Cabernet Sauvignon

Double Gold: Carignane
Gold: Charbono, Rose, Bordeaux Blend: Black

Silver: Rose (sweet), Sauvignon Blanc

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mendo Wine Winners: Listed By Varietal


Bordeaux Blend (2)
Bonterra's flagship wine over the new/old Testa, which has been growing for decades, but bottling under their own name only recently.
Double Gold
Bonterra McNab, 2006
Testa, Black (blend with Cabernet)

Cabernet Sauvignon (4)
Paul Dolan, 2010
Barra, 2009
Bonterra, 2010
Terra Savia, 2009

Carignane (2)
This is an impressive debut for Testa's Carignane.
Double Gold
Testa, 2010
Frey (NSA), NV

Charbono (1)
An old Italian varietal showcased.
Double Gold
Testa, 2010

Italian Varietals (2)
Chiarito's dry farmed, organic vineyard produced high quality deep flavors.
Double Gold
Chiarito, 2009 Nero D'Avola (not certified but organic)
Chiarito, 2009 Negramoro

Malbec (1)
A boutique, small production of 100% Malbec.
Saracina, 2010

Merlot (1)
Bonterra, 2010

Petite Sirah (1)
Chiarito, 2009

Pinot Noir (8)
A surprising "Gold" for Girasole.
Double Gold
Handley - Anderson Valley (Estate), 2009
Girasole, 2010
Barra, 2009
Bonterra, 2010
Paul Dolan - Filigreen, 2007
Paul Dolan - Potter Valley, 2009
McFadden, 2007
Naughty Boy, 2009

Red Blends (3)
Paul Dolan, Deep Red, 2008 (Petit Sirah, Primativo, Syrah, Grenache)
Bonterra, The Butler, 2007 (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre)
Testa, Black, 2009

Rose (4)
Yorkville Cellars' rose is on the sweet side; the others are relatively dry.
Testa (Carignane), 2011
Barra, 2011
Naughty Boy, 2011
Yorkville Cellars, 2011

Zinfandel (3)
It's surprising that Zins haven't done better in Mendo.
Bonterra, 2009
Patianna, 2009
Paul Dolan, 2010


Chardonnay (7)
More surprises - Bonterra's takes the top spot; and McFadden takes a silver, as high as benchmark Chardonnay producer Handley.
Double Gold
Bonterra, 2010
Barra, 2010
Frey, 2010
Handley Cellars, 2010
McFadden, 2010
Girasole, 2010
Paul Dolan, 2010

Gewurztraminer (1)
McFadden, 2009

Muscat (1)
Warning: This one's way too sweet for my taste. (Girasole's sister wine, Barra, has a muscat that is better.)
Girasole, 2011

Pinot Blanc (1)
A notable achievement.
Girasole, 2010

Pinot Gris (1) 

McFadden, 2011

Riesling (1)
McFadden, 2010

Sauvignon Blanc (6)
All three top winners are very different - you might enjoy a taste-off comparison tasting.
Patianna, 2010
Paul Dolan, 2011
Saracina, 2011
Bink, 2011
McFadden, 2009
Yorkville Cellars, 2011

Viognier (2)
The Bonterra is a personal favorite of mine - particularly in the summer.

Sparkling (2)
My favorite go to sparkling wine is the McFadden, of course. (I have never seen the Patianna for sale anywhere, but would like to try it.)
Double Gold
McFadden Brut (NV)
Patianna, 2008

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Biggest Organically Grown Wine Competition: Mendocino Wine Competition - 2012 Winners

Though Mendocino's annual wine competition sounds like any other county competition, in fact, this county, with its large community of organic growers, is, in essence, a competition with more organically grown wine winners than any other county competition I've followed. (In contrast, Sonoma's county competition has almost no organically grown wines in it.)

So it's with great pleasure that I present to you the award-winning wines - many of which I've featured here in previous posts, but here with new competition results to re-inspire discovery and acknowledge excellence.

For a full list of winners (including the non-organically grown), see the pdf published here.

This year the competition results were published by overall ranking, not wine type. I'm going to present the organic and biodynamically grown winners both ways in two posts. This first post (of two - the latter to follow) lists the top organically or biodynamically grown wines:



Bordeaux Blends
Bonterra, 2006 McNab Red
A classic, the showcase red wine of the Bonterra brand, grown biodynamically in one of the most beautiful vineyards in California.

Testa Vineyards, 2010
A new wine for Testa, which has grown this on wonderful, dry farmed old vines, but has sold its production to other winemakers until now. It's nice to see this wine's first bottling rate so well.

Italian Varietals
Chiarito, 2009 Nero D'Avola
A southern Italian classic, grown primarily in Sicily, this dry farmed (not certified) organically grown wine also got a gold at the Sunset magazine competition this year.

Pinot Noir
Handley Cellars, 2009 Anderson Valley (estate)
From a long time pro, Handley's Pinot Noir (be sure to look for the organic one, grown on the estate) is a perennial favorite.


Bonterra, 2010
At $14 a bottle, this wine is the best budget winner of the competition - and an award-winner in the Sunset magazine competition as well, rating as highly as $80, 94 point Parker rated wines like Bergstrom. 

McFadden, NV Brut
No matter what price you get it at, it's a bargain, tieing again this year with French powerhouse Roederer for top honors. If you join the McFadden Wine Club, this too can be had for $14 a bottle once or twice a year when it's on sale. 

I'll be publishing the list of wines by varietal in a future post.

Friday, August 17, 2012

BevMo 5 Cent Sale: Pacific Rim Organic Riesling Just $8 a Bottle

BevMo's running a new 5-cent sale - buy one bottle and get the second for just 5 cents.

The current special features just one organically grown wine - but it's a very good one.

If you like Riesling, hurry to snap up Pacific Rim's Organic Riesling, regularly $16 a bottle, but during the sale you can get it for basically half off. Happy Shopping!

Family Winemakers of California: Sept. 9 at Fort Mason

Do you like those crowded, mass tastings? If so, you can get hyperactive about wine tasting at the Sunday, Sept. 9 Family Winemakers of California tasting. Hundreds of wineries will be pouring, including many of the organic viticulture producers.

Info here.

Here's to the Doubters...Matt Kramer Among Them


Wine Spectator Matt Kramer's latest column takes doubters to task, particularly those who doubt the claims of biodynamics. Here's to the doubters who take say it ain't necessarily so.

Subscribers can read the post here.

Sunset Magazine's Organically Grown Wine Winners

Sunset Magazine's annual wine competition took  place July 9 in Menlo Park. Among the hundreds of wines submitted, the judges chose the winners; the list (available online here) will be published in the Nov. issue of Sunset magazine.

Here are the organically or biodynamically grown winners among them. I've starred my faves.

Among the highlights:

Chardonnay: you can spend $80 for a Bergstrom Chardonnay or $14 for Bonterra's Chardonnay? I'm not sure the judges got this one right. Both got gold.

Bonterra's Chardonnay is good, esp. for the price, but hasn't ranked in the wine press like Bergstrom's, which won 94 points from Robert Parker. You might try your own taste comparison...or just stick with the Bonterra, knowing it's a budget-price Gold winner.

Italian Varietals: I am a huge fan of Chiarito (organic but not certified) so I am delighted to see this Mendocino traditional grower/winemaker getting two Golds for its Nero d'Avola and Negramoro, both traditional varietals grown in southern Italy and perfectly suited to our California interior climates (much more than the international varietals - Cab and Chard).

I personally buy these two wines by the case, (If you're a Chiarito wine club member, there's a 35% off sale going on now on both of these wines.)

Bonterra: Overall this widely available (in supermarkets, even) organic powerhouse swept the awards, winning 7 prizes, the most of any organically grown brand. That's not so surprising, given that it's the biggest brand in the organically grown space, but it's reaffirming to see that its quality survives despite its high volume production.

Albarino: I was dismayed to see Verdad get only a Bronze for its Albarino. The label has been a powerhouse for this varietal, so one wonders if the judges are really familiar with this Spanish grape. It was a pick of the week from the LATimes (a previous vintage but still), so the judging seems a bit off to me.

Brut Rose: I was happy to see Handley Cellars get a Silver for its fantastic Brut Rose, which also got a Gold medal in the SF Chronicle Wine Competition and a 91 point rating from Wine Spectator. It's a lovely wine and usually flies off the shelf. It's not made every year, so grab it while you can. It tied with longtime sparkling wine producer Schramsberg (not organically grown), just one more sign of its lovely qualities.


• Bordeaux Blend
Stone Edge, Surround ($30)

• Cabernet Sauvignon
Stone Edge Farm, 2008

• Italian Varietals
***Chiarito Vineyard, Nero d'Avola
***Chiarito Vineyard, Negramoro

• Merlot
Bonterra, 2009 Merlot ($18)

• Pinot Noir
Bonterra, 2010 Pinot Noir ($16)

• Rose
Ceago Vinegarden, Syrah Rose ($16)

Bonterra, 2007 The Butler ($36)
Ceago, 2010 Syrah ($22)

• Albarino
***Verdad, 2010 Albarino

• Chardonnay
Bergstrom, 2010 Sigrid ($80)
Bonterra, 2010 Chardonnay ($14)

Handley, 2010 Chardonnay ($22)

• Riesling
Bonterra, 2010 Riesling ($14)
Pacific Rim, 2010 Riesling ($32)

• Sauvignon Blanc
Bonterra, 2010 ($14)

• Viognier
Bonterra, 2010 Viognier ($14)

• Sparkling
***Handley, Brut Rose ($40)