2018 Pinot Noir (O’Brien) by Willamette Valley Vineyards, Oregon

Tonight’s Occasion: 2018 Pinot Noir (O’Brien, Eola-Amity Hills) by Willamette Valley Vineyards, Oregon

Intense ruby color. Slightly restrained nose with crisp, slightly sweet cherries, raspberries, and a touch of pomegranate. There’s a certain faint bitter essence in the distant background. This is typical of the region and its terroir at large. I love it when a wine shows good sense of place. In this case a subtle mineral leather. Swirling vigorously adds a little more raspberry and leather. Classic.

Slightly crisp greeting on the body with cherries and refined caramel reminiscent of neutral oak. A very mild sweet citrus adds great mouth feel not unlike Meyer Lemon. Crisp tannins provide unobtrusive structure. This slowly morphs into a mild spice heat as it transitions to finish. A prickly spice tingle takes over the lips as raspberries, cherries and cola quietly debate who exists the stage last.

I love what these folks are doing with their wines. Their tastings are more of an education on the region and it’s wines. Execution is clean, crisp and highly terroir driven. I have a soft spot for Pinot from this region and Willamette Valley Vineyards channels that very nicely in all their wines.

Read more Willamette Valley Vineyards on WineSnob.

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Willamette Valley Vineyards wines delivered to your doorstep.

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2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Thracian Valley) by Bulgariana

2015 Cabernet Sauvignon (Thracian Valley) by Bulgariana, Bulgaria

Good firm nose with dark plums, and dark cherries. This is very much a Cab. Swirl vigorously to release a damp grassy forest floor as cherries turn slightly sweet.

Body is nicely balanced front to back. There’s a hint of acidity. Plums are fairly dry and tart, providing good firm structure. As it breathes, a touch caramel softens the body ever so slightly. This is likely due to oxidation of those tannins since this wine is unoaked. A hint of leather carries over, as do slightly ripened dark cherries. This eventually subsides, giving way to a firm and ever tightening tannic grip. After a brief moment, a crisp caramel emerges before giving way to a gentle but firm spice heat over parched lips.

This is my second wine from the Thracian Valley. It is a classic, well built Cab. Great personality and value especially for the price. This Cab punches well above its weight. It’s always interesting to see this kind of execution from a region you seldom hear about.

Thank you Bulgariana Wine, G&B Importers

2018 Sauvignon Blanc (Thracian Valley) by Bulgariana

Tonight’s Occasion: 2018 Sauvignon Blanc (Thracian Valley) by Bulgariana, Bulgaria.

Clean, bright yellow gold color. Up front, passion fruit, cantaloupe and a subtle wet earthy leather. Swirling vigorously gently intensifies the nose, rendering it somewhat mineral in expression. Tart white, stone fruit emerges towards the back (mostly plum). The faintest honeysuckle you’d likely miss. Very classy.

Body balanced, front to back. Dry. Without attack, a soft, plush, slightly weighed, mild mannered body greets and slowly blankets the entire palate. I can tell it’s dry but yet it’s mineral underpinnings have a mouth watering effect. Stone fruit carry forward and linger in the back. Leather turns from slight wet wood to mineral as it falls into the background. Transition to finish with very little fanfare, marked by emergence of a warm gentle spice, mineral leather with long enduring moist lips.

What a class act. At around $13, this wine is proof positive, not all good wine is expensive and not all expensive wine is good. Like the Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc, it punches several levels above its weight for a fraction of the price. My first wine from the Thracian Valley, second wine from Bulgaria. It gives me pause as I sit here sipping – there is someone in Bulgaria making world class wines. I feel compelled to travel to Bulgaria.

Nicely done folks!

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2018 Napa Valley Sangiovese (Eliza Jane) by Dawn’s Dream Winery

Tonight’s Occasion: 2018 Napa Valley Sangiovese (Eliza Jane), by  Dawn’s Dream Winery, Carmel Valley, CA.

Rich ruby color. Thick, warm nose with lots of dry berries, red cherries, and a wet woody sandy leather. As it breathes, bursts of dried, dusty mushroom and red vines emerge. Swirling vigorously only intensifies these leathery terroir notes. Wow! This is right up my alley!

Body shows good balance off the bat. Greeting with just a touch of bright acidity in a citrus expression. This is quickly balanced out getting gentle tannins in the form of dry, dark, tart plums, blackberries and currants. The wet wood and slightly mineral expression emerges and conspires with a faint crisp (neutral) oak to create a soft, silky, palate-wetting overlayment. Transition to finish begins with a fade to subtle bitter as its dry dusty tannic foundations are laid to bear once again, only this time with a gentle spice tingle.

I absolutely love Dawn’s wines. The Pinot Noirs capture so much of the spotlight that is easy to miss this gem. I wasn’t expecting this but not the least surprised. Dawn’s wines tend to catch the focused palate off guard and prompt reflection. What a lovely take on the humble Sangiovese.

Nicely done Dawn and the crew!

Read more about Dawn’s Dream Winery on WineSnob!

2018 Gamay Noir (Sonoma Coast) by Reichwage

Tonight’s Occasion: 2018 Gamay Noir (Sonoma Coast) by Reichwage Winery, Sebastopol CA.

Semi opaque color. Supple aromatic nose with notes of cherries, strawberries, wet soil, subtle oak and hints of butterscotch. Swirling vigorously adds hints of eucalyptus, herbs and mushrooms in the back. It is very reminiscent of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Very interesting. I love this region and how the terroir is expressed in this wine.

Body greets with a slight bright (read acidic) attack. This is quickly matched and superseded by a full, plush, creamy, integrated, medium bodied mouth feel. Prominent notes are mushroom, wet wood, dark cherries, and hints of sweet citrus (think Meyer Lemon). Fascinating that I pick up earth notes at the front like this. The only Gamay I have explored were from France (Loire Valley I believe) and I do recall them being highly terroir driven. This one falls very much in line albeit not as heavy, slightly more expressive fruit but more subtle overall – think more of a big California Pinot. Tannins are very restrained, almost unnoticeable, providing good seamless and integrated structure. After a long and wide body, transition to finish is seamless and swift, leaving the palate under a subtle dusty, buttery, fine grained grip and modest spice tingle.

I like this wine. It is rich. I can taste the dirt. This is a Gamay and a terroir driven one at that. This wine absolutely pairs well with itself but if you must, mild artisan cheeses should do just fine. A hidden gem for sure. I am impressed with Max’s work and I look forward to following him.

Nicely done Max! 🍷😁👌🏽

2018 Grüner Veltliner (Columbia Valley) by Glacier View Cellars

Tonight’s occasion: 2018 Grüner Veltliner (Columbia Valley) by Glacier View Cellars, Woodinville, Seattle, Washington.

Clear golden colors with a touch of sediment suspension. This wine is unfiltered. Nose is restrained with primary notes of citrus, peach and secondary apricot. A subtle leather lingers in the background.

Crisp vibrant body greets the palate with a good dose of acidity in the form of lemon, tart white plum and green apple. This is quickly followed by a slightly viscous, weighted mouth feel. Subtle mineral body has the effect of wetting the palate ever so slightly, keeping the its dry acidic expression from completely drying out the palate. White pepper adds fuel to the fire midway through, warming the entire experience from body to finish. As it opens up and the palate settles, it’s subtlety and nuance begins to shine through.

This is a sipper. You can’t rush it and you certainly can’t judge this book by its cover. It is a wine of bold contrasts and juxtaposition. I recommend it chilled. It’s the first and only Grüner Veltliner I’ve had. I found this Winemaker while wandering off the beaten path in Woodinville, outside Seattle. She embodies the kind of winemaker that keeps me off the beaten path. Her wines, unique one-of-a-kind vintages. This one is no exception.

Nicely done Stephanie!

WineSnob TV:
You can watch more about my visit to this winery while tasting in Woodinville here:
Off The Beaten Path – Woodinville, Seattle, Washington

2018 Il Corvo (Columbia Valley) by Novelty Hill-Januik

Tonight’s occasion: 2018 Il Corvo (Columbia Valley) by Novelty Hill-Januik, Woodinville, WA.

Super Tuscan Blend: 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Sangiovese, 4% Merlot

Dark intense slightly opaque color. Long legs. Out of the bottle, a weighted nose with notes of slightly ripe plums, dark cherries, subtle dusty woody leather and hints of cola. Swirling vigorously intensifies all notes, bringing out more cherry cola.

Body is somewhat light, crisp, for a wine this big. It shows good balance from attack to finish. Slightly restrained plums and blackberry greet the palate, introducing a measured structure with dusty, fine grained tannins. Bold spice makes its entrance shortly after and remains, warming the palate from start to finish. A clean crisp oak complements and enhances the fruit essence, conspiring with dark cherries to create a subtle cherry cola. As it opens up, slightly mineral, loamy sedimentary underpinnings reveal themselves as the palate clears in transition to finish. Dusty tannins render the palate parched shut while wisps of crisp oak dance in the background.

My only regret is not bringing back an extra bottle. This is a very well built terroir driven wine with a broad appeal. Still very young, I can see this wine aging beautifully over the next decade. Laying a couple of these down would be a good idea. Novelty Hill-Januik has made a great wine here. Expertly crafted. It was a challenge picking one one during my visit earlier this year, as every wine in their lineup far exceeded any expectations.

Nice work folks!

WineSnob TV:
You can watch more about my visit to this winery while tasting in Woodinville here:
Off The Beaten Path – Woodinville, Seattle, Washington

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Novelty Hill-Januik wines delivered to your doorstep.

Shop Novelty Hill-Januik wines on Wine.com


2018 Eighteen Sixty One (GSM) by Skinner Vineyards

Tonight’s occasion: 2018 Eighteen Sixty One (GSM) by Skinner Vineyards, Fair Play CA

Deep intense semi-opaque color. Nose is a little shy out of the bottle with an unmistakable dusty old leather. Swirling vigorously unlocks a slightly heavy layer of dark cherries, cola, and blueberries. Leather turns from slight sawdust to wet wood. Distant hints of licorice could almost be missed. As it opens up, the cherry cola becomes more pronounced.

Body has almost no attack. It is balanced right down the line and greets the palate almost immediately with a soft plush light mouth feel. It brings a smile to my face because I know winemaker Adam Smith comes from an Oregon Pinot Noir background. The subtlety here bears an uncanny resemblance. Dark cherries are heavily restrained providing an unobtrusive structure. Minerality is subtle and has the effect of wetting the palate. Body is bone dry. If there is oak, I cannot detect it. I feel like I am tasting nothing but the grapes, the vines and the subtle parts of the terroir. Body and finish are almost one as wet an dry interplay on the palate, over a thin whispy cola.

Skinner for me has always been reference to the greater region. Adam’s style is precise, with clear vision and an unmistakable influence as a natural Pinot winemaker. For a region and Vineyard that easily makes some of the biggest boldest wines I know, this is a textbook exercise in restraint, balance and nuance. This wine demans focus and undivided attention of the intermediate to advanced palate.

Nicely done Adam and the entire crew at Skinner Vineyards!

Thanks to wine.com and their extensive library, you can now access most of the wines I review on here. You can use the link below to have Skinner wines delivered to your doorstep.

Shop Skinner wines on Wine.com


2018 Grenache (Heringer Estates) by Passaggio

Tonight’s occasion: 2018 Grenache (Heringer Estates) by Passaggio Wines, San Francisco, California.

Just look at the color. Wow. Nose is slightly shy out of the bottle with primary notes of a crisp sweet cherry cola. A damp old oak leather lingers in the back. Swirling vigorously unlocks a burst of bright, sweet cherry, strawberry and red vines licorice. Faint blueberries linger in the back. Ugghhh… Seriously!

Body is restrained and precisely balanced. A plush, cola greets the palate, imparting a soft bitter essence. Cherries and crisp oak add a soft, fleshy, palate-wetting, mouth feel. Bacon Fat! That’s it! Thin crisp tannins provide just enough structure while remaining almost unnoticeable. As it progresses, a firm heat slowly ramps up, fully engulfing the palate from front to back. Over time this heat falls way back. Giving way to a dry dusty finish with cola and cherry dancing into the sunset, as it comes full circle. At 13.4% ABV, I am going to thoroughly enjoy this occasion.

Cindy’s wines are highly understated, precise, balanced, crisp and beautiful. There’s a certain obsession with perfection I don’t see often. This starts with the color. Usually wines this good, have an element of creative chaos. Not her wines. I cannot say enough about this Winemaker’s work.

Cindy… Stoppit! You’re killin me!🍷😭👌🏽

2018 Triptych (Dry Red Table Wine) by Saint Tryphon

Tonight’s occasion: 2018 Triptych (Dry Red Table Wine) by Saint Tryphon, Boerne, Texas.

Big bright cherries and damp forest floor dominate the nose. Are we in Texas? Hints of oak, honeysuckle and other floral notes intermingle.

Body is nicely balanced. Cherries carry through, adding a touch of plum as it opens up. Thin tannins provide a touch of structure. Berries and subtle oak create a full mouth feel, reminiscent of a Zinfandel. As it progresses, fruit notes become more prominent. Subtle spice notes become more intense as they turn into a warm ever present heat. Finish is fairly dry with a subtle tannic grip.

This is my first time tasting a wine from Texas. It is a simple wine, well made, not overly abstract, a pleaser with broad appeal. Somewhat fruit forward overall. I can see this particular wine as a chill-able red porch pounder. It is fairly dry for as expressive as its fruit characteristics are. If this is any indication, I think I should get my boots on the ground in TX and dig deeper.

Nice work Saint Tryphon. Thank you Angela for sharing your favorite wines with us.