Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fun, Festive & All-American Thanksgiving Wines

Enjoy any of these all-American selections with your friends and family this holiday!

2013 Kramer Family Celebrate! Sparkling Muller-Thurgau Yamhill-Carlton Willamette Valley Oregon $22, 89 points
   - This dry, charming bubbly with notes of pineapple, guava, lemon, and violet candy from an esoteric grape is ideal for guests to sip on while waiting for dinner. Available at

2013 Mercer Pinot Gris Yakima Valley Washington $15, 90 points
 - Try this instead of the usual Pinot Grigio – same grape but riper expression. Appealing notes of pineapple rind, apricot, lemon zest, hay, and yellow rose blend with varietally spot on notes of slivered almond and quinine. Available at

 2013 Robert Mondavi Winery Fumé Blanc Napa Valley California $20, 88 points
 - This lively, fresh, grassy, lemony, and peachy wine has weight, depth, and complexity. For a mass-market brand that is so widely available, it is a very nice surprise. Available at

 Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay Canoe Ridge Estate Horse Heaven Hills Washington $26, 91 points
 - Soft, creamy, rich, and buttery, this is just the ticket for the Chardonnay lover in the house. Available at

2012 Stoller Family Estate Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Oregon $25, 95 points
Soft and inviting with notes of wild strawberry and pink rose. A delicate beauty.

2011 Carmen Carmenere Gran Reserva Apalta Valley Chile $16, 94 points
 - Warm, ripe and inviting with licorice, dark chocolate, gingerbread cookie, cumin, sumac, brown mushroom and cedar notes, this medium-bodied, spicy and savory South American red has a smoked paprika or pimenton note on the long finish. Available at

2012 Harney Lane Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi California $22, 96 points
 - Growers turned winemakers, the Lerners own one of California’s finest Zin vineyards. With gorgeous red currant and red licorice flavors mingling with a deep earthy streak, this full-bodied red is going to steal the show. Available at

2012 Scotto Family Cellars Malbec Lodi California $14.99, 90 points
 - Here is a nice change of pace for those who like a lighter Cabernet or medium-bodied Merlot. The grape, Malbec, is doing great in Argentina, while many North American versions are super-ripe and heavily oaked. This version is elegant, supple, and very polite, with notes of plum, blackberry and vanilla. Available at

2011 Dry Creek Vineyard The Mariner Dry Creek Valley California $45, 95 points
 - This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec, along the lines of Opus One or Joseph Phelps Insignia, is plush and earthy with notes of cherry, cassis, plum, new car leather, smoke, and vanilla bean. Go big or go home.

2013 Bonny Doon Vinferno Arroyo Seco California $24 (375ml), 92 points
  - This intensely sweet but very well-balanced Grenache Blanc has notes of coconut, papaya, peach skin, and caramelized sugar. Delicious on its own, or with dessert or cheese. Available at

Korbel 12 California Fine Aged Brandy $39.99, 92 points
 - Aged for 12 to 17 years in charred American oak barrels from the forests of Appalachia, this ultra-premium American brandy is smooth, elegant, rich, and nutty with a note of allspice. Available at

© Copyright 2014 Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis, Planet Grape LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Just in Time for #TempranilloDay - Four from Spain

Planet Grape Wine Review 

 - 2008 Bordon Rioja Reserva Spain $18
This elegant blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha and 5% Mazuelo is traditional Rioja at its best - understated, earthy, slightly tannic, and ideal for slow braised Lamb shanks or Lentil Dal. 94

 - 2011 Bodega Balbas "18" Ribera del Duero Crianza Spain $15 
This blend of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, both from old vine vineyards on the estate, is nicknamed "18" in honor of the 18 months it spends in French oak barrels. The oak spice is nice and sweet, while the fruit is more restrained and dusty. Enjoy with a nice lamb chop or grilled salmon. 92

 - 2010 Condado de Haza Ribera del Duero Crianza Spain $28
Tempranillo Master Alejandro Fernando crafts this rich, meaty wine from a south-facing slope along the Duero River then ages it for 15 months in oak. Delicious with Tempranillo-braised short ribs. 96

 - 2011 Bodega Rento Ribera del Duero Spain $65
From 25 year-old Tempranillo vines, this rich, potent expression offers notes of plum, fig, cedar, coffee bean, black licorice and Carne de Vaca (Spanish Beef and Tomato Stew). Drink now or age for several years. 94

© Copyright 2014 Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis, Planet Grape LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Post Election Day Pinots

Now that Election Day and Halloween are over, sit back, relax, and enjoy a big, bowl-shaped glass of one of these saucy sirens:

 - 2013 Argus Pinot Noir Napa Valley Carneros California $42
Ben and Jerry Cherry Garcia bombshell. Rich, silky palate. 98 

 - 2012 Frank Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Carneros California $35
Sweet ripe berry bowl with a delicate finish. 92

 - 2011 Trione Vineyards Pinot Noir Russian River Valley California $37

Deep, bold, muscular almost but soft as silk. 97

 - 2012 Niner Wine Estate Pinot Noir Edna Valley California $35

Earth and spice keep things interesting. 94

 - 2012 Stoller Family Estate Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Oregon $30

Soft and pretty with notes of wild strawberry and pink rose. 95

These are limited small production wines so please reach out to the wineries directly to order.

© Copyright 2014 Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis, Planet Grape LLC. All Rights Reserved.