Wednesday, January 2, 2013

SF Chronicle's Top 100 Wines 2012: 7 Organics Among Them

The SF Chronicle recently published its list of the top 100 Wines of 2012, including the following organically grown wines - 2 Oregon Pinots, 1 Zin (Beaujolais style), 3 Chards and an Albarino. Take note of these!


2010 Bergstrom Temperance Hill Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir ($60, 13.5%): 

Says the Chron: "From a cool hilltop Eola site, this is Josh Bergstrom channeling quintessential Oregon. The volcanic soils show through in its red spice and coppery tang, and there's a weightlessness that Willamette Valley does so well. The aromas of a damp spring forest and bright chalky minerality frame radiant bayberry and pomegranate. Densely structured and yet completely transparent and gossamer in its flavors."

Pam: "If you have not visited Bergstrom, you owe it to yourself to see this perennial high quality producer's gorgeous sites. Never one of the best values in wine (i.e. priced at the higher end of the market), Bergstrom is however consistently highly rated."

2010 Evesham Wood Le Puits Sec Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir ($36, 13%): 

Says the Chron: "Evesham Wood remains my barometer for the transparency of Oregon. Under the hand of new owner Erin Nuccio, the 2010 Puits Sec shows that Volnay-like light touch, full of cherry, dried sachet, watermelon rind and distinct minerality — a perfect capture of Pinot's complex nature."


2011 Dashe Cellars Les Enfants Terribles McFadden Farm Potter Valley Zinfandel ($24, 13.6%): 

Says the Chron: "Oakland's Mike Dashe deserves credit in any case for his Enfants Terribles program, wines meant to show a fresher, Beaujolais-like side of Zinfandel and Grenache. This latest, from Guinness McFadden's 1970s-era organic farm in Mendocino, shows a new level of finesse. Fermented with indigenous yeasts and uncrushed berries, as in traditional Beaujolais, it shows Zin's brambly ruby fruit, plus beautiful spice — black pepper and fenugreek — and a burdock-like bite."

Pam: I've been an enthusiastic fan of this wine since I came upon it two years and interviewed Mike. I've got several cases of this in my cellar. I'm happy to see McFadden's grapes gain even more notoriety. If you haven't been to their annual wine club dinner, make a point of it this's one of the best of the organic winery dinners - the setting, in a beautiful valley between Ukiah and Lake County, is gorgeous and they put on a fabulous feast with great dancing under the stars. A real celebration.


2010 Calera Mount Harlan Chardonnay ($30, 14.4% alcohol): 

Says the Chron: "The austerity of the vintage played to Josh Jensen's stark site high above Hollister, planted in 1984 and 1998 to a proprietary selection and fermented, as Calera always is, with indigenous yeasts. While there's an oak signature right away (30% new Francois Freres), its opulence and chewy citrus fruit -- almost like candied citron -- is rewarding in every way. There's a tense, long-aging power here, and a mastery to the texture that etches big flavors of ripe apple and tangerine."

Pam: If you haven't been there yet, it's a fabulous adventure to drive the windy roads to Calera's vineyard. Might be a fun trip to keep in mind for 2013!

2010 Ceritas Porter-Bass Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($52, 13.2%): 

Says the Chron: "John Raytek's label taps a number of sources in western Sonoma, but there's quite an amazing synergy with the fruit grown on the northern slope of Porter-Bass, the vineyard outside Guerneville owned by his wife Phoebe's family, one of the Sonoma coast's top sites. Stony and powerful, with a dark mineral presence matched by pretty yellow raspberry fruit. A prime expression of site-driven Chardonnay."
Pam: Another dreamscape of a vineyard. A MUST SEE location! You'll be inspired by their biodynamic practices as well as the magnificent setting. Wine tastes even better when you know where it came from.

2011 Matthiasson Linda Vista Vineyard Napa Valley Chardonnay ($25, 13.5%): 

Says the Chron: "Steve Matthiasson is better known for his white blend, but here he's farming a spot close to home -- right behind his house in Oak Knoll. An example of what cooler southern Napa can do so well with Chardonnay. Full of ripe pear, with almond, chervil, citrus zest and intense acidity to balance fleshy tree fruit."

Pam: A vineyard I can't wait to visit myself in 2013! I'll post pictures when I do.


2011 Verdad Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard Edna Valley Albarino ($22.50, 13%): 

Says the Chron: "Louisa and Bob Lindquist might have done too good a job with this Rias Baixas-native grape grown biodynamically in moderate Edna Valley. Theirs is a defining example, with fresh mint-leaf and wet stone hitched to chewy citrus and guava. Edgy and meaningful, a perfect exploration of a great site for this Iberian wonder."

Pam:  Long one of my favorite white wines, this is always a good white wine to bring to dinner, when you don't want to do Chardonnay yet again. The LA Times picked it as one of their wines of the week. It's also in my forthcoming organic wines under $20 app! (You can get it for cheaper if you buy it by the case). The Lindquists converted to biodynamic after years of growing conventionally and then organically. While Bob is famous for his Syrahs under his Qupe brand, Louisa's Verdad brand has carved out a niche based solely on Spanish varietals.

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