Tuesday, November 24, 2015


#PinotFest #FarallonSF
Billed as "The Great Big Bacchanalia," Pinot Fest is one of the most anticipated wine tasting events of the year. It is rare to have winemakers and winery principles from some of the top names in California Pinot Noir in the same room (technically 3 rooms, but still). Fifty-eight wineries were present.

Organized by Pat Kuleto Restaurants Wine Director Peter Palmer, and held at Farallon Restaurant with the help of their Wine Director Luke Kenning -  the event was a huge success. Overall it was refreshing to see lower alcohol levels and much less toasty new oak than in the past.

Highlights for us here at Planet Grape Wine Review include:

2013 Domaine de la Cote Pinot Noir Bloom's Field Sta. Rita Hills Santa Barbara California USA  95 12.5%, $70
Gorgeous, inviting, and Burgundian in weight and feel, with notes of cranberry, raspberry, blueberry, Herbs de Provence, and lightly salted beef carpaccio. Organically farmed.

2013 Domaine de la Cote Pinot Noir La Cote Sta. Rita Hills Santa Barbara California USA  96  12.5%, $90
Stunning, seductive and fresh with notes of pink grapefruit, raspberry, cherry, tar, mushroom, and nutmeg. Still developing, so age or decant for aeration. Organically farmed.

2013 Failla Pinot Noir  Sonoma Coast California USA  91  13.9%, $34
Silky, delicate and tart with notes of lemon, cranberry, and wild strawberry.

2013 Failla Pinot Noir Hirsch Sonoma Coast California USA  94  13.4%, $70
Silky, tart and juicy, this layered, complex Pinot Noir has notes of raspberry, blueberry, red rose, and dried sage.

2013 Freeman Pinot Noir  Sonoma Coast California USA  91  14.2%, $68
Full, silky and fresh with notes of cranberry, cherry, red plum, white rose, sage, and cedar.

2013 Foxen Pinot Noir John Sebastiano Sta. Rita Hills Santa Barbara California USA  91  13.8%, $48
Fresh, tart, and slightly chewy with notes of blueberry, plum, fig, porcini dust and cedar.

2013 Flowers Pinot Noir  Sonoma Coast California USA  92  13.5%, $50
Delicate and juicy with notes of raspberry, pomegranate, plum, fig, sage, bay leaf and sea spray.

2012 Flowers Pinot Noir Sea View Fort Ross-Seaview Sonoma Coast California USA  94  13.9%, $65
Seductive, smoky and youthful with notes of raspberry, cherry cola, bay leaf, sorrel and mushroom.

2013 Hitching Post Pinot Noir Highliner Santa Barbara County California USA  92 13.1%, $45
Ripe, round, silky and beautiful with notes of lemon zest, cranberry, strawberry, and cherry.

2013 Sinor-LaVallee Pinot Noir Bassi San Luis Obispo California USA  89  13%, $45
Rich, ripe, and opulently oaky with notes of morello cherry, mocha, and vanilla bean.

2013 Talley Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate Arroyo Grande Valley California USA  92  13.8%, $36
Ripe, soft, and delicate with notes of cranberry, cherry, raspberry, red rose, and vanilla.

2013 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Calegari Russian River Valley Sonoma California USA  92  13.8%, $59
Lavishly rich, round and ripe with notes of dark cherry, cherry cola, vanilla bean, chocolate and cedar.

Visit us at http://winereview.planetgrape.com/about/.
#‎PinotFest‬ ‪#‎FarallonSF

Thursday, November 19, 2015


(1) Lodi Vineyard. Photography by Goff Photography.Zinfandel Grapes, Mokelumne River AVA, Lodi. Photography by Randy Caparoso.
Lodi is known for many things, high quality wine not amongst them. Things are changing, though, as a group of local winemakers inspired by sommelier/writer Randy Caparoso have looked to their cherished old vine Zinfandel vineyards, many over 100 years old, to produce pure, unadulterated wines which showcase the personality of the land and grape plant vs. winemaker style and technique.

This collaborative project, known as Lodi Native, is focusing on old vine, certified sustainable heritage vineyards, many of which are multi-generational family owned sites, including Wegat, Soucie, Trulux, Schmiedt Ranch, Noma Ranch, Century Block and Marian's on the West Side (Mokelumne River AVA) and Stampede on the East Side (Clements Hills AVA). The six founding winemakers, Stuart Spencer of St. Amant, Ryan Sherman of Fields Family Wines, Tim Holdener of Macchia Wines, Micheal McCay of McCay Cellars, Chad Joseph of Maley Brothers, and Layne Montgomery of m2 Wines, agreed to a strict, non-interventionist protocol beginning with native yeast fermentation and the use of no new oak. In other words, pure, unadulterated, exquisitely expressive old vine Zinfandel so full of personality they can never become mainstream wines. This is the discovery of real treasure, Grand Cru American Zinfandel, pure, simple, unadorned, yet rich, complex, layered, and so beautifully balanced they glide across the palate like World Champion Tango dancers.

Upon first sniff, they may not be for everyone. There is something more here than super-ripe, squeaky clean and hyper oaked, and something less. Think of Justin Bieber singing without Auto Tune - he is vulnerable, fragile, real, more human than super human. Though I would compare Lodi Native wines to a seasoned, world class talent such as Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, or Nina Simone.  I have new found respect.

While each of these wines is unique, as you can tell by our reviews below, they do share similarities. Lodi's West Side Zins. those from vineyards in the Mokelume River AVA, or American Viticultural Area, are deeper, richer, with notes of blackberry, earth, tobacco and herbs, while those from the East Side, Clements Hills AVA, are more perfumed, racy with bright red fruits and not as much intensity of structure. Overall the climate is more Mediterranean than Central Valley as Lodi enjoys breezes off the San Joaquin River Delta. The West Side gets the breezes first. It is also sandwiched between two deep sea ports, to the North and South, and enjoys the insulating influence of these bodies of water.

LODI NATIVE 2013 series reviews here:

LODI NATIVE 2012 series reviews here:

Lodi Native wines are available in a 6-pack wooden case for $180 here:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Hugel LogoFamille Hugel
This Saturday, November 14th, is National Hugel Day, self-proclaimed by this traditional Alsatian wine family to shed light on their new releases, a dry white blend, a dry Riesling, dry Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, all  of which are ideal for the Thanksgiving table.

Planet Grape Wine Review Recommends:

2014 Hugel Gentil Alsace $15  PG 89 points

2012 Hugel Pinot Gris Alsace $24   PG 91 points

2013 Hugel Riesling Alsace $24   PG 92 points

2012 Hugel Gewurztraminer Alsace $28    PG 91 points

On November 14th top wine retailers across the nation will offer FREE IN-STORE WINE TASTINGS & “a little something extra”... to get everyone started. Exact times for times and locations will be listed on:
Hugel Family Wines are imported by Frederick Wildman and are available nationally.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015



Planet Grape  The SOMM Journal  AUGUST  SEPTEMBER 2015
It is time to take a look beyond the quaffable Vin de Pays wines of sunny Sud de France. Languedoc Roussillon is a treasure trove of clean, fruit-forward, food-friendly, value-priced wines to pour and to offer by the bottle well below $100. A common thread of rosemary, thyme and lavender runs through them, highlighting their fresh clean fruit. There is little to no oak in most instances.

Wines to Pour
nv Jean-Claude Mas a St. Hilaire Cremant de Limoux Brut Rose AOP Languedoc France 12%, 750 ml, $18.99

Elegant and lively.

2013 Domaine des Cantarelles Viognier Vin de Pays du Gard IGP Languedoc France 14%, 750 ml, $14

Perfumed, fruity, and soft.

2013 Le Jade Pays d’Oc IGP Languedoc France  13.5%, 750 ml, $9.99

Creamy Chardonnay mingles with exotic Viognier.

2014 Domaine Sainte Croix Cuvee Montlaures Rose Languedoc AOP France  12.5%, 750 ml, $16

Dry subtle Provencal style Grenache-Cinsault Rose.

2013 Beauvignac Syrah Rose Pays d’Oc IGP Languedoc France  12.5%, 750 ml, $9.99

Light, dry and tart.

2012 La Maroutte Syrah Vin de Pays d’Oc Languedoc France  13%, 750 ml, $13.99

Soft and pretty.

2012 La Marouette Cabernet Sauvignon VDP d’Oc IGP Languedoc France  13%, 750 ml, $13.99

Sunny, plump, easy-going Cabernet made with organically grown grapes.

2010 Domaine Cazes Muscat de Rivesaltes AOP Roussillon France  15%, 375 ml, $24

Clean, rich, bright, sweet and balanced.

Wines To List

2014 HP Picpoul de Pinet AOP Coteaux du Languedoc France  12.5%, 750 ml, $9.99

Bone dry, crisp, and light.

2011 Domaine Sainte Rose La Marin Blanc Marsanne-Roussanne Pays d’Oc IGP
Languedoc France 13.5%, 750 ml, $19.99

Soft, fresh and juicy.

2011 Clos du Gravillas Minervois AOC Languedoc France  14%, 750 ml, $40.99

A baby Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc.

2009 Domaine Sainte Rose La Garrigue Cotes de Thongue IGP Languedoc France  14.5%, 750
ml, $17.99

This GSM blend is ripe and juicy, and lightly oaked.

2013 Castelmaure Col Des Vents Corbieres AOP Languedoc France  13.5%, 750 ml, $11.99

Juicy, balanced Carignan/Grenache/Syrah.

2011 Chateau de la Negly La Cote Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape AOC France 14.5%, 750 ml, $15

Soft, rich and fruity.

2012 Clos du Gravillas Rendez-Vous Sur La Lune Minervois AOP Languedoc France  14%, 750 ml, $18

Firm, tank-fermented Carignan/Syrah.

2010 Les Villages de Terroir Cotes du Roussillon Villages Caramany AOC Languedoc
Roussillon France 13.5%, 750 ml, $18

Complex, taut, and meaty.

2013 Chateau Paul Mas Coteaux du Languedoc AOC France  14.5%, 750 ml, $23.99

Dark, sultry and juicy.

2013 Michel Chapoutier Bila Haut Occultum Lapidum Cotes du Roussillon Villages Latour de France AOC Languedoc Roussillon France 14%, 750 ml, $30

Deeply fruity and reflective of its sunny origin.

High Volume Chain/Club

2013 Maison Cubi Syrah Carignan Vin de France 3L Bag in Box $33

The source is Corbieres but this is heavier, darker, and richer than what is typically found there.

For full reviews visit http://winereview.planetgrape.com/?s=SUD+DE+FRANCE