American Wine- California, Oregon & Washington State

This Thursday’s tasting will feature American wine from California, Oregon and Washington State, three whites and three reds altogether, including two wines from each region. Specifically we will sample a Sauvignon Blanc-based blend and Chardonnay from Washington, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style red blend from California. We hope you will join us for a fantastic line-up!

“The history of Hedges Family Estate begins in June of 1976, with the marriage of Tom Hedges and Anne-Marie Liégeois in a 12th century church in Champagne, France. The convergence of separate cultural upbringings provides a strong backdrop for creating a modern day, but traditionally inspired wine estate. In 1986 Tom and Anne-Marie created an export company called American Wine Trade, Inc., based out of Kirkland, Washington State; they began selling wine to foreign importers. As the company grew, it began to source Washington wines for a larger clientele leading to the establishment of a negociant-inspired wine called Hedges Cellars. Tom and Anne-Marie quickly learned that the success of this ancient trade would be based on the site of its vineyards. This concept resonates strongly in Europe, but to less effect in the new world wine regions, where land is less important than brands. Three hours south east of Seattle an opportunity presented itself in a developing wine region called Red Mountain. Tom and Anne-Marie, as new owners, felt its potential for greatness. At this location, American Wine Trade transformed itself from negociant and wine trader to the classic model of a wine estate. Today, this biodynimacally-farmed Red Mountain property continues to be the fundament of the Hedges family.

Tom, Anne-Marie, [their children] Christophe, Sarah, and the entire Hedges company believe place of origin is the keystone of authenticity. [Their] goal is to treat wines with reverence and let the Red Mountain terroir speak for itself.”

Hedges CMS White 2010– Columbia Valley, Washington. 85% Sauvignon Blanc, 10% Chardonnay & 5% Marsanne. “Grapes were sourced from four Columbia Valley vineyards: Bacchus, Dionysus, Destiny Ridge & Arete. Bright, lively aromas of ripe pear, grapefruit peel, caramel apple and orange blossom. The palate is lean, angular and well defined, emphasizing the virtues of structure and elegance.” Tasting $12.99

The Chardonnay Conspiracy is a custom project of importer Micheal Skurnik Wines, who features some of the “finest estate-bottled wines from around the world.” Because of their strong ties to growers, they are able to source premium fruit from two of “Washington’s finest Chardonnay vineyards” to make this wine. The Chardonnay Conspiracy is the white companion to the California red wine “The Pinot Project;” one of our favorite Pinot Noir labels for value and quality.

This is from the website: “For all you “Conspiracy” theorists out there, here’s the skinny on our wine; born of the idea that wine is meant to be drunk, quench thirst, complement food and deliver pleasure! Set yourself free from suffering under the “Conspiracy” that Chardonnay is supposed to taste like a sweet, bloated, flabby old pear… smelling like a lumbering smoked-out, vanilla-bean furniture factory. The Chardonnay Conspiracy delivers the antidote to your palate fatigue! Finally, a balanced, honest and pure, homegrown American chardonnay that is not about oak and all about terroir!”

The Chardonnay Conspiracy 2010– Washington State. “Sourced from a blend of two of Washington State’s finest Chardonnay vineyards, this wine comes on with fruit forward fresh aromatics, carrying a torrent of clean, natural flavors through to the palate, bursting with an ambrosia of tropical fruit, and finishing finally with a lip smacking zesty zing!” Aromatic and lively, it bursts with fresh tropical fruit, crisp green apple and lively citrus fruit on both the nose and palate. The mouthfeel is nicely textured followed by a complex and balance finish; an excellent value. Tasting $12.99

The Four Graces is a family-owned Willamette Valley producer who focuses on “sustainable viticulture, low yields, and exquisite wines.” General operations are overseen by president Anthony Van Nice and the wines are made by well-known Oregon viticulturist Laurent Montalieu of NW Wine Company and Solena Winery.

“Sensing a unique opportunity, Anthony Van Nice came to The Four Graces as their first employee in 2005. As President, he oversees all operations, including vineyard management, winemaking, sales and marketing. Anthony has led the way as The Four Graces has perfected the sustainable vineyard practices, minimum intervention and low yields that come together to produce rightfully renowned wines. He is a board member of both the Dundee Hills Winegrowers Association and Oregon Pinot Camp.”

Winemaker Laurent Montalieu- “In 2003, Laurent started his own winemaking business, the NW Wine Company, which is a state-of-the-art facility located in the heart of the Willamette Valley. All wines are created in a temperature-controlled facility under pristine conditions with technologically advanced equipment. The wines can then be bottled and stored under optimal conditions until ready to be released. Every customer has the opportunity to choose the winemaking technique best suited to their vision.”

Four Graces Pinot Gris 2011– Willamette Valley, Oregon. “True to the varietal, this Pinot gris is deliciously bright, fresh and crisp. On the nose, apples, lemon zest and hints of honeysuckle greet you. Fuji apples, gooseberries and key limes open up on the palate. There’s an interesting minerality balanced by soft floral aromas. The silky finish and fresh, full-bodied mouthfeel are indicative of a great Pinot Gris. The hand sorted fruit received 100% whole cluster pressing. The juice was then cold-settled and racked off the lees. Undergoing a slow fermentation in stainless steel tanks at low temperatures maintained the subtlety of the young wine.” Tasting $17.99

“Founded in 1970 in Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley, Ponzi Vineyards is internationally acclaimed for producing some of the world’s finest Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and White Riesling, as well as Arneis and Dolcetto, two rare Italian varietals.

Founded by wine pioneers, Dick and Nancy Ponzi, for more than four decades, Ponzi Vineyards has set the standard for Oregon’s viticultural innovation while maintaining an unwavering commitment to a tradition of winemaking excellence. Today, this philosophy is carried on by the Ponzi Family’s second generation: Winemaker Luisa Ponzi, Director of Sales and Marketing Maria Ponzi Fogelstrom and CEO Michel Ponzi. Luisa has produced the wines since 1993, using her classic Burgundian style.

All 120 acres of family-owned vineyards in the Northern Willamette Valley are LIVE Certified Sustainable, the world’s highest standard for sustainable viticulture. Ponzi Vineyards continues to hold long-term contracts with many of the best growers in the region. Driven by the concept that the variety must match the terroir and climate, Ponzi Vineyards continues to set the bar for Oregon and remains at the forefront of the nation’s top wine producers.”

“VINTAGE 2O1O: Early April budbreak was followed by a month of cool weather stalling growth throughout a wet spring and the wettest June on record resulting in small yields. The summer continued to be the coolest in 17 years and as we approached the fall the anxiety was palpable in the Willamette Valley. As the birds arrived in Hitchcock numbers we were well into the late part of October when Mother Nature blessed us with two straight weeks of dry, clear, warm days nudging the fruit into perfect ripeness.”

Ponzi Vineyards ‘Tavola’ Pinot Noir 2010– Willamette Valley, Oregon. This Pinot Noir is a blend from Ponzi’s Avellana, Abetina, Linda Vista, Madrona, Aurora, Buteo and Estate Vineyards, as well as, fruit from sustainably-grown vineyards located in the Dundee Hills, Yamhill-Carlton and Eola Hills AVAs. The wine was aged in French oak for 11 months (25% new). A barrel selection is made for Tavola, then racked and bottled by gravity without fining or filtration. This wine has been bottle aged for five months before release. “This fragrant nose of black cherry, brown sugar brulee and vanilla leads to a mouth of fresh red plums. The sweet middle leads to a silky, seamless finish that lingers with spice.”- Winemaker Luisa Ponzi. Tasting $25.99

Brothers “Michael and David Phillips represent the fifth generation of growers in Lodi. With 650 acres of premium wine grapes, [they feel that] there is plenty of room for experimentation and innovation. The vineyards are irrigated by the Mokelumne River, which carries crystal-clear water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, depositing minerals into the rich soils upon which the grapes thrive. Though not certified organic, Michael~David Winery strives to use all natural methods including integrated pest management, beneficial insects for pest control, trellising, leaf pulling and natural mined sulfur for mildew control.”

Michael Phillips- “After graduating from U.C. Davis, Michael began planting vineyards of varietals not typical of Lodi and began winemaking through the production of small lots as a home winemaker. In 1984, after nearly a decade of refining his techniques of winemaking, Michael, with the support of his father, decided to establish a bonded winery. With a small market storefront available for marketing the wine, the first vintage of Carignane, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay were produced from the family’s grapes.”

David Phillips- “He attended U.C Davis majoring in International Agriculture Development. After graduating from Davis, David worked for an International cork company, importing corks from Portugal and marketing them to wineries throughout Northern California. David returned to Lodi in 1989 to work full time with his brother Michael. Together they started to increase production of their wines.”

“Known for taking the road less traveled Michael David Winery has always stood apart from the crowd. Whether it be their outlandish brands and packaging or their quirky personalities, Michael and David are definitely on a stage of their own and the Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon showcases just that.”

Michael David Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon 2010– Napa, California. “Cabernet Sauvignon with some Petite Sirah blended in. The fruit for this brute of a Cab comes from the original “super freak”, Michael Phillips vineyard located only a medicine balls toss away from the winery. Surprisingly nimble and elegant, showing great balance, strength, and poise. This Cabernet has a bouquet of dark cherry and roasted spices. Full bodied and mouth filling with gobs of black currant, blackberry, charred oak, vanilla and cassis. Mild tannins with a mellow, long finish.” Tasting $19.99

“Recognized as one of the great family-owned and run Napa Valley wineries, the history of Chappellet reflects the passion and commitment of this pioneering family. Through four decades and three generations, the Chappellets have made Pritchard Hill their home, while also establishing it as one of the world’s most revered winegrowing sites. Today, the second generation of the family works alongside their parents to ensure that the winery and vineyards continue to thrive for generations to come.

The Chappellet family’s romance with Pritchard Hill started more than four decades ago when Donn and Molly Chappellet first glimpsed its magnificent vista of forests and wildflower-filled meadows. Inspired by the notion that Bacchus loves the hills, the Chappellets followed the advice of renowned winemaker André Tchelistcheff and settled on Pritchard Hill’s rocky slopes, becoming the first winery to plant vineyards exclusively on high-elevation hillsides. From these Pritchard Hill vineyards, the Chappellets have been crafting extraordinary, age-worthy wines since 1967.

Today, a second generation of the family has joined their parents in embracing the romance of Pritchard Hill. They are passionate about preserving the land and continuing what Donn and Molly began—making extraordinary wines.”

“Mountain Cuvee is made by our winemaker, Phillip Corallo-Titus, using the same phenomenal fruit sources—most notably a core of mountain-grown grapes from our vineyards. It continues to be defined by its connection to these vineyards and our experience making exceptional mountain-grown wines. The CERVANTES brand continues the Chappellet Mountain Cuvees’ tradition of offering go-to wines of extraordinary quality for in-the-know wine drinkers—all at an unparalleled value.”

Chappellet ‘Cervantes’ Mountain Cuvee 2010– Napa Valley, California. A Bordeaux-style blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot and 6% Malbec. The wine “is dark and concentrated, with lovely aromas of ripe cherry, berry fruit, cola, cedar and coffee. Supporting notes of sweet oak, anise and cassis add brightness and nuance to the nose. On the palate, this full-bodied wine is packed with radiant tannins, mouthfilling sweet fruit, chocolate and baking spices. Though eminently drinkable now for its flashy youthfulness, 2010 has also produced a cellar-worthy wine that will gain complexity with additional aging.” Tasting $29.99

CMS White Chardonnay ConspiracyPonzi Tavola PN Freakshow Cab Chappellet Mountain Cuvee

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