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This Week’s Wine Review

“Reductive Strength”
Is it the terroir or the winemaker that most influences Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley?

I have asked that question many times as I purview the lineup of Russian River Pinot Noir’s that I endeavor to review. The birthplace and historical nature of the Burgundian clone is unmistakably rooted in Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, yet the varietal seems to be intent on trifling with my palate. I have tasted enough wine from the region to know the difference between a Pinot Noir from Burgundy and one from the Russian River Valley. There is no mistaking a RRV Pinot Noir. Just as there is no mistaking a Côte de Beaune Pinot Noir. I will concede to having mistaken a Gamay for a Pinot Noir in a blind tasting. But then, DNA analysis reveals that Gamay is a member of the family of Burgundian grapes spawned by Pinot Noir (http://www.jancisrobinson.com/learn/grape-varieties/red/gamay).

Such was the case when I tasted the Emeritus Pinot Noir for the first time. The mood was that of reveling with a group of friends while taking in the emeritus_11_hallberg_pinotspectacular view at the Garden of the Gods Club with my BFF Jane. A newcomer to the group offered me a taste of his wine and I was immediately impressed with his palate. Knowing I had just tasted a Pinot Noir, I asked to see the label. Evening had settled in and the low lighting made the label difficult to read so I sipped the wine and made a mental note to get my hands on a bottle of that Burgundian Pinot Noir.

That was what I had on my mind the last time I met Jane at the GOG Club for half priced bottle of wine night. With my mind set, I went straight to the Pinot Noir section of wine menu and looked for the Emeritus. The list price was $65 but since it was half price I was okay with the selection. I wanted to be sure however that I was making a good purchase so I looked up the wine on my app and saw that most retailers offered it at $42 so I knew I was getting a good deal at $32.50. The server uncorked the wine and my friends watched as I swirled and sniffed and swirled and sniffed. The theatrics wore off after my third swirl so they went back to their girl chatter. I took a taste and settled into the patio chair as I engaged my thoughts on what region of Côte d’Or this Burgundy was from. I reached for the bottle and was taken aback by surprise. The day was waning but the sun still set high enough overhead to see clearly the print on the bottle EMERITUS HALLBERG RANCH RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY.

I was floored! Suddenly I saw my future as a wine writer flushed down the mountain with the next torrential rainstorm. How had I mistaken the region of this wine?

I could pontificate on how the aromatic potpourri of fruit and field enthralled my senses. I could invite your intrigue and whet your appetite by the sweet ripe field berries mingled with cherries and the slight hint of river rock that washed over my palate with a delicate balance of fruit, tannin, acid and alcohol. But, this was a project and as delicious as it was, I was after it’s residual strength. I corked the bottle and patiently waited until the next evening to reopen it and taste again. This time I grabbed the bottle from the wine fridge and pulled a Riedel Burgundy Grand Cru Pinot Noir glass off the rack and headed out to my patio to enjoy the evening and give myself ample time and space to dissect the aromatics and the taste. Again, my upmost goal was to determine if this wine had staying power.

Giving the bottle time to settle into the temperate evening air, I popped the plug and poured my first taste. Using my iPad I typed as I tasted.

“This wine has a briny scent that almost stings my nostrils. It has plum and cherry aromatics mingled with a potpourri of field flowers, prominent with lavender. I almost get a hint of barnyard. I am tempted to rush to the taste to feel the delicate ruby liquid on my tongue. By the time it hits the tip of my tongue all thoughts of earth and barnyard are diminished by delicious tangy plums and cherries. I swallow without spitting because I need to have a least one full taste before I test for the acid and tannin. As the last hint of the wine glides down my throat I imagine the ripest strawberry has just deposited itself in my mouth and lingers on the back of my tongue.

One more taste and this time I spit. I imagine that I have just graced a balance beam and done a triple summersault as I plant both feet on the mat and raise my hands in delight of my accomplishment, scoring 92 points. I am assured that this wine will trophy my library for at least a decade. The tannins are equally matched by the acid that makes my whole tongue salivate. I’m thirsty, and that’s what I should be with a big Pinot of this caliber. There is just the right amount of warmth on the cleft of my soft palate to tell me that the alcohol is not too high but high enough to entice me for one more taste. I could court this wine for the rest of my life and expect the romance to never end. Alas, my desire is too strong and I drink the remainder of the bottle.”

I am far to humble to suggest that I should compare the great Pinot Noir’s of the Russian River Valley: C. Donatiello, Moshin Vineyards, Gary Farrell, William Selyem, Dumol, Emeritus and Della (just to name a few). I am however intrigued by the uniqueness of the winemaker who passionately and delicately puts Russian River Valley Pinot Noir into a bottle for us to enjoy. For that reason, I will continue to publish my findings on their residual strength. So, RRV winemakers, bring it on!

The Ability to Enjoy a Glass of Wine from the Same Bottle the Next Day…That’s Reductive Strength
By Kimberly Faye


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Healthy Hearts, Wine and Chocolate

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Keith and Kimberly welcome Patty, Logan, Colby and Daryl

Enjoy the Show (part 1 of 4)


Telluride Truffles

Telluride Truffle® began in November, 1997. Well actually, that is when the first truffle was sold. For 6 months before that I was testing different flavorings and giving them to my roommate to judge. She was about 5’6 and 100 pounds and had an unbelievable ability to eat 10 truffles at one sitting. Of course she was a raving lunatic after eating that many – sugar buzz and all, so I don’t recommend doing that … ever. But she was great to have around when you wanted feedback.

The idea for Telluride Truffle® began way before that – when I was the assistant pastry chef at a 4 star hotel in Telluride. The pastry chef at the time (a mad man with a sweet heart) taught me how to make truffles or his rendition of them. Later, after leaving that profession to become one of the managers of a ski school, I would whip up truffles flavored with Jack Daniel’s to take to pot lucks (a favorite past time of locals here.) My friends raved about them and told me to start selling them, but since they were friends – I thought they were greatly biased. Read more at www.TellurideTruffle.com 


Colby Red

Colby Groom is now 16 years of age. Just prior to his 10th birthday he underwent back to back open heart surgeries. He is now a seasoned volunteer with the American Heart Association and was inspired to raise money for heart research through creating a wine with his Dad, notable winemaker Daryl Groom and Colby Red was born. Colby Red is a flavorful California cuvee of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Shiraz, Merlot & Petite Sirah.  Visit www.ColbyRed.com 


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Force Majeure

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Keith and Kimberly speak with Paul Mcbride of Force Majeure Vineyards

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Force Majeure holds estate vineyards in Washington state’s Red Mountain AVA. The vineyards include Force Majeure Vineyard (12 acres) and Parabellum vineyard (20 acres). Force Majeure Vineyard is located on a hillside and rises in elevation from 950 to 1230 feet, and includes 9 distinct soil types. The soils are diverse and well-drained, ranging from sandy loam, to concreted ash to rocky basalt deposits. A second vineyard, called “Parabellum’, was acquired recently and is under development. Varietals grown include Cabernet Sauvignon,Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. Due to the Force-Majeurediversity of the soils in the vineyard, vine aspect, exposure and other factors, Force Majeure employs a diverse set of vine training systems, varietals and clonal selections, thus creating many “micro blocks”. The vineyards are oriented to the southwest and thus receive optimum afternoon sun exposure for ripening. Force Majeure Vineyard is considered to be one of Washington’s “most compelling (vineyard) sites”.

The term “Force Majeure” describes the relentless, powerful elements of Nature that form the terroir of our vineyards. It also identifies the “unstoppable force” initiated when the highest level of viticulture is combined with the highest level of winemaking talent. As of 2014, our wines are being made by esteemed winemaker, Todd Alexander, former winemaker at famous cult winery Bryant Family Vineyard on Pritchard Hill in the Napa Valley. Our goal is to present a portfolio of wines that are among the very finest in the world.

Our rare, vineyard-designated wines are created in extremely limited quantities and are only available via mailing list, as well as a few select retailers and finer restaurants. We invite you to add your name to our mailing list to receive a wine allocation offer. Wines are released twice annually, once in the spring and once in the fall. Click here to join our mailing list.


Ask for the Wines of Banfi at your Local Retailer

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Presquile Winery

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Keith and Kimberly welcome the Winemaker of Presquile

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Michael Wray and Presquile Winery Winemaker Dieter Cronje…

Our wines reflect a relentless pursuit of quality. We strive for elegance, balance and an authentic expression of each variety, vineyard and vintage. Our goal is to create world-class wines at real-world value.

Presqu'ile Wine Bottles

A deep appreciation for Pinot Noir inspired our search for that rare California terroir suited to producing the style we appreciate most: elegant, balanced and restrained.
Santa Maria Valley Rim Rock Vineyard Presqu’ile VineyardSteiner Creek Vineyard

Unburdened by excessive oak and high alcohol, our Chardonnays exhibit finesse and sense of place.
Santa Maria Valley Steiner Creek Vineyard

Our Sauvignon Blanc is clean and focused with added body and weight from time on the lees in neutral oak and concrete eggs.
Santa Maria Valley Santa Barbara County


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Comparing Wines

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Keith and Kimberly. Comparing your Wines ?

Enjoy the Show (part 3 of 4)

Itasted two different vintages of Cabernet from one of my favorite wine makers side-by-side to see how they compared. This was a lot of fun, as

Michael Wrays Ride
Michael Wrays Ride

you can imagine. To make it even more fun, the grapes were from different vineyards.

The two wines tasted were the 2005 Mayo Rich’s Cuvee Cabernet from the Los Chamizal Vinyard in the Sonoma Valley and the 2003 Mayo Julie’s Block Cabernet from Napa River Ranch in the Napa Valley. Both were excellent.

For the tasting my wife and I prepared a variety of foods to snack on while we tasted, and then poured a glass of each. What follows is my tasting notes, including which foods went well with each wine. I will review them one at a time. Read more at www.anotherwineblog.com



 Ask for the Wines of Banfi at your Local Retailer


Castello Banfi

Wine Cruise

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the boat


Keith and Kimberly chat about Cruising and Enjoying Wine on a Boat!  All Aboard !!!!!!

Enjoy the Show (part 2 of 3)


8 luxurious days: April 12-19, 2015 Pricing starts at just $3,564 per person

• All meals onboard prepared using the finest and freshest local ingredients: 7 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 7 dinners
• Unlimited beverages onboard**, including a selection of fine wine
• All gratuities for onboard and onshore services
• Shore excursions with local experts as your guide
• Complimentary Internet and Wi-Fi access onboard
• All scheduled arrival and departure day transfers
• Complimentary fitness center and exercise classes
• Complimentary culinary experiences

• Welcome aboard wine reception with hot/cold canapés
• Wine pairing lunch in dining room
• Private wine tasting seminar with your hosts: Moshin Vineyards & Joseph Swan Vineyards

• 2 UNESCO World Heritage sites
• 14 excursions, all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts
• “Go Active,” “Do as the Locals Do,” “Village Day,” and “Gentle Walking” programs
• Complimentary state-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio headset system on all excursions
• Complimentary use of bicycles and Nordic walking sticks
• Captivating onboard local entertainment
• Cultural enrichment, including a Signature Lecture: “Vincent van Gogh’s Troubled Destiny”
• Exclusive Epicurean Adventurer Program™ including: Crepes Suzette-making demonstration and tasting
• Côtes du Rhône wine tasting in Tain l’Hermitage

*Uniworld is rated #1 for river cruising:
• Travel and Leisure’s 2013 World’s Best Award for “World’s Best River Cruises”
• Zagat Cruise Lines Survey: The ONLY river cruise line recognized in the survey for “Top Cabins” and “Top Dining”
• Condé Nast Traveler’s 2013 Reader’s Choice Awards for “Best River Cruise Line”

Learn more at http://store.touringandtasting.com/Cruises/Burgundy-Provence-April-2015

Please ask for the Wines of Moshin Vineyards at your Local Retailer


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Wine Life Radio Birthday

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Keith and Kimberly celebrate a little…OK Keith forgot it has been 3 Years for the Show, LOL !

Enjoy the Show (part 1)


We talk a little bit about wine and Reductive Strength…

Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyards in California considers reductive strength to be analogous to a wine’s chior, as the Chinese say, life force. When a wine is young, it can share its chi with the world; when old, it must guard it so the wine does not diminish too quickly. Young wines have a capacity to adsorb oxygen and that can actually increase its resistance to later oxidation. Irrespective of chi, we believe that reductive strength is related to the phenolic composition of a wine and, therefore, to longevity.

The reductive strength of a wine is a measure of oxygen uptake and the ability to handle that uptake, that is improve with age. In red wines this is influenced principally by phenols and impacted by several winemaking protocols.

In a recent study (Kassas and Kennedy 2011) wines commanding the highest market value had several attributes in common including the highest concentrations of total tannins, the highest concentration of skin tannins and tannin-anthocyanin bound pigment polymers. In grapes and wines, anthocyanin pigments can be either free monomers, that is, unbound, or associated with other compounds including phenols such as tannins to form polymers.

Tannin polymerization in fruit and wine continues until an anthocyanin molecule binds the terminal ends of the tannin chain forming  ‘bookends’, thus stopping the polymerization.  As such, the ratio of anthocyanins to tannins is important.  This ratio impacts the extent of polymerization and, therefore, astringency.  Please Google Wine and Reductive Strength for more information. 

Do not be so quick to empty that bottle of Wine!


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