Robin K, Montinore Estate and My ESSENTIAL Wine Co.

Robin K by William Knuttel-

“Long time California winemaker William Knuttel has concentrated on ultra-premium wine making for the majority of his wine career. Knuttel’s philosophy has long been to make an enormous range of wines in various styles in any given vintage, for the simple reason that a winemaker only gets to make a limited number of vintages over his lifetime. This wealth of experience has led directly to his adherence to traditional winemaking practices, which lead to balanced, elegant wines that pair well with foods and have excellent aging potential—the hallmarks of classic wine.

His winemaking journey began at Saintsbury, where he was winemaker from 1983 to 1996, establishing that brand as an international leader in high-end Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Burgundian style. During that tenure, Knuttel founded and was owner/winemaker of Tria, producing fine Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel.

William Knuttel was Vice President & Winemaker at Chalk Hill Winery from 1996 to 2003, specializing in ultra-premium Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, and most recently he was Executive Winemaker for Dry Creek Vineyard, where he completely re-honed the styles and quality of that winery’s extensive portfolio from 2003 to 2011. Knuttel was also ZAP’s winemaker in 2005, producing their Heritage Zinfandel, and President of the California Cabernet Society 1999-2003.”

“Robin K wines are crafted to be more feminine, easy drinking wines for every day consumption. Named after his wife “Robin Knuttel” Robin K wines are exceptional wines at great values.”

Robin K Chardonnay 2011– Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California. Aged for 15 months in French oak, 10% new and 90% neutral oak. The Russian River Valley Chardonnay features all the elements of fine Burgundy-style winemaking. All of the fruit was hand-picked and whole cluster pressed to insure delicate handling and maximum flavor retention. It is a fully integrated wine with concentrated flavors of ripe apple, tropical fruits, lemon, spice and apple custard. The wine’s creamy finish gives it versatility with a wide range of dishes, but pairings with seafood and white meats will be especially rewarded. $16.99

Jen’s note- Sweet oak, vanilla. Malolatic creamy notes on the nose. Melon and tropical undertones with some nutty hints. 13.9% alcohol. Very textured/honeyed with dry and savory qualities. Good complexity for the price. Food friendly with toasty hints on the finish.

Robin K Cabernet Sauvignon 2009– Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California. Hillside fruit is sourced from vineyards from the Weinstock Vineyard at the extreme north end of Dry Creek Valley and the Vogensen and Piccetti Vineyards in the northwestern hills of the Dry Creek Valley appellation. Small amounts of the other major Bordeaux varietals were blended to make the wine a seamless whole, from entry through to the finish. Traditional techniques were employed, including hand picking and sorting… extended maceration, with the grapes remaining in contact with the skins for up to six weeks, augmented the wine’s structure and depth. The master blend was racked quarterly during aging in French oak, nearly 30% of it new, for twenty-three months. Vibrant aromas of blackberry, black cherry, cigar box, caramel and creamy vanilla bean lead into the intense flavors, supple tannins, and lengthy finish. $16.99

Jen’s note- Sweet nose of oak, coconut and spice. Cassis, black plum and cedar with cola undertones. The entry is sweet/fruity and pleasant with toasty hints and gentle tannin.


Montinore Estate-

“Established in 1982, Montinore Estate is a 240-acre Demeter Certified Biodynamic® and Stellar Certified Organic estate that lies at the northern end of the Willamette Valley appellation and along the east-facing slope of the Coastal Range foothills in Oregon. Our close attention to each step of the grape-growing and winemaking process is rooted in the belief that exceptional wine is born of a sustained marriage of soil, climate and artful stewardship. Biodynamic® farming, controlled fruit yields, carefully fermented wine and estate bottling help our family-run winery offer full-flavored vintages of distinctive character and quality.”

Rudy Marchesi became proprietor of the 230 acre farm in 2005 after many years overseeing operations and as the vineyard consultant. Taking his experience as a winegrower, winemaker and wholesale distributor full circle, he returned back to the land, with a mission to make wine from the ground up. Rudy sought out Oregon as a place that enabled creativity and, with careful coaxing, could grow grapes capable of delivering wine showcasing the truest expression of the land where it was grown.

Today, Rudy presides over the estate with daughter Kristin, who is leading the second generation forward as General Manager. Together, they work with the vineyard crew to nurture the land, and with the winemakers to craft wines expressive of the rolling hills and cool breezes of the North Willamette Valley, nestled at the foothills of the Coast Range outside Forest Grove, OR.”

“Biodynamic® agriculture is a philosophy and methodology that views a farm as a self-sustaining ecosystem entirely responsible for creating and maintaining its individual health and vitality without any external and unnatural additions. It is one of the most sustainable forms of agriculture, creating healthier food for healthier people and a healthier planet.” – Demeter USA.

Montinore Estate Almost Dry Riesling 2011– Willamette Valley, Oregon. Offers a beautiful aroma of lime, fresh flowers and tangerine with hints of lilac. On the front of the palate, a spark of sweetness and an elegant, almost silky fresh entry is followed by flavors of citrus accented with green apple. The finish brings a refreshing, palate-cleansing acidity with accents of lingering grapefruit and mineral flavors. $13.99

Jen’s note- 11% alcohol. Pretty aroma- lanolin, baked apple and pear, very nice and inviting perfume. Soft entry with zesty acid. Good texture. Very low sugar; quite pleasant. Juicy tart apple flavors. Fresh.

Montinore Estate Pinot Noir 2011– Willamette Valley, Oregon. Aged for 10 months in 22% new oak; 72% Hungarian, 28% French. The 2011 vintage was another cool year for us, we were harvesting well into November. The ability to produce such a lovely Pinot Noir in such a year demonstrates just why Pinot Noir is best grown in a cool climate. The nose is complex with aromas of cherry, blackberry, dried fruit, dried flowers, cedar, lilac, clove, anise and caramel. The bold palate is ripe with black cherries, black plums, vanilla, tar, smoke, bittersweet chocolate and pie spice which is balanced beautifully by bright acid, all within well-structured tannins.

Jen’s note- Rusty/garnet in color. Savory, scorched earth on the nose. Not overwhelming, Burgundian style with sour cherry, baking spices and forest floor. The palate is lean but complex with tart notes and a dry mouthfeel. Good grip.



“Richard Betts was born in Syracuse, N.Y., but grew up in Tucson, Ariz. And he’s taken an off-the-beaten path to the wine business, graduating from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in geology in 1994. Betts first took notice of wine while spending time in Florence, Italy, in 1992, but it wasn’t until 1996 that he decided to pursue a career in wine, first working as a cook and then accepting a job as sommelier at Janos in Tucson. He spent two years as sommelier at Janos, building up the wine program there before moving in 2000 to take the sommelier position at Montagna at the Little Nell in Aspen, Colo., a Wine Spectator Grand Award winner since 1997. Betts partnered with Dennis Scholl in their Betts & Scholl label, which produced wines from Australia and France’s Rhône Valley. He also assisted fellow sommelier Bobby Stuckey and chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, both of Boulder, Colo.’s Frasca restaurant, with their own wine label, La Scarpetta (they produce and import Italian wines).”

Betts says: “I used to think I’d be an environmental attorney, and I spent a great deal of time in school chasing this idea. Along the way I bumped into a glass of wine (several, actually), and now I’m completely and totally given over to the pursuit of good food, wine and spirits. I cooked for a bit, got into wine, became a Master Sommelier on the first go (lucky me) and was the wine director at The Little Nell in Aspen for 8 years (even luckier me.) I co-founded Betts & Scholl Wines and Scarpetta Wines covering four countries and three continents before selling both companies in 2009. I also co-founded Sombra Mezcal in 2006 and am now CEO. Of course, wine is forever and I am about to release my newest wine projects; “Saint Glinglin” from Bordeaux and “my ESSENTIAL red” from California. There is also a book on the way: The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Wine Expertise from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. All of this stuff keeps me jumping and I manage to rack up over 100,000 flight miles and 200 hotel nights annually. This means I eat and drink my way around.”

The My Essential Wine Co. label has the grape splotches artwork by Wendy MacNaughton from Betts ‘kids book for adults’, The Scratch and Sniff Guide to Wine Expertise, which will be published this October.


My ESSENTIAL Wine Co. Rose 2012– Provence, France. “This wine is grown in Provence, in the heart of rosé country. It is blended by Richard Betts, a well-known Master Sommelier who travels the world in pursuit of great wines to bottle. The grapes are sourced from some very esteemed vineyards, and like most Provençal rosés, is very pale. It has a gorgeous mouthfeel and the weight of a red wine with the crisp quaffability of a white. A blend of traditional Provence grapes, Grenache, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvèdre, Syrah. Unoaked, rosé from press, pale, floral, dry.” Made in partnership with Jeremy Seysses (Domaine Dujac in Burgundy). $13.99

Jen’s note- Pressed not saignee (bled). Very faint/pale color. Aromatic/bright nose- juicy fruits. Dry entry with steely minerality and juicy, ripe fruit undertones. Acidic and refreshing. Great value.

My ESSENTIAL Wine Co. Red 2010– California (near Happy Canyon). “This is the first release of his new Cabernet blend from California. Predominantly Sauvignon with a good dose of Franc, the idea is about grace, not girth. Aged for two years in old French oak. This is a balanced approach to California wine– with all the lush ripeness of fruit that you expect but there’s also a sense of proportion and honesty.” “Convention in our country is to name wines by the grapes, and in the old world it’s to name them by the place. You don’t say I’m drinking grenache, you say I’m drinking Chatenuef du Pape. I’m asking people to step away from this idea that it has to say cabernet to be good. This is a wine that brings together cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, syrah, a little merlot, and a little petite verdot- grapes that come together in a very synergic way in California.” $21.99

Jen’s note- Dark color, ruby with purple edges. Deep nose- ripe black and blueberry fruit with some pepper/spice qualities. Dark fruits on the soft and full palate. Robust flavors; silky texture. Very good*

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