Lange Estate – Wine Excellence in the Dundee Hills

I don’t see the term ‘wine excellence’ used that often or if even at all–and it should be used. I have been critical in the past about the word “Excellence” and I had to decouple that from the word “Perfection” as it is not a subset of the phrase ‘Wine Excellence.’

Don Lange introducing his family’s wines

I was delighted to visit Lange Estate this year in January–a nice escape from California’s non-stop rain for Oregon’s rain which tends to start and stop (during atmospheric rivers–the rain never stops–I never thought I would have to distinguish rain in that fashion!).  While I never built my ark (it seemed we were headed for that need); I am ready for a true four seasons in my future with a terroir including snow, heat, a delightful rebirth of earth in spring and autumn’s goldenness. It was joyous to put foot-on-ground in the Dundee Hills.

Wine Excellence is not just a term that is easily applied to all wine producers: it is a quest, hard won and done by intention. The wines of Lange Estate reflect place but specifically a place that can cultivate cool climate varieties and to do so compellingly and ultimately with Wine Excellence.

A beautiful assembly of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

I sat down to taste through Lange Estate wines with Don, Wendy and Jesse Lange and assistant winemaker Daniel Papa.  Before sitting down I was able to taste their Lange Estate Mia Mousseux Blanc de Blancs Dundee Hills Sparkling Wine 2018 which is one of the best Blanc de Blancs wines in not just Oregon but new world Blanc de Blancs wines.  

Here are the wines tasted:

  • Lange Estate Mia Mousseux Blanc de Blancs 2018

A lustrous and wine of complete elegance–while ideal with food it can be best appreciated and approached by sipping in contemplation. Nose: passionfruit, sea spray, pine nut and delicate brioche note; polished and finessed wine. Palate of autumnal-winter fruit, crushed oyster shell, and delicate floral finish. Price Point: $85.

  • Lange Estate Reserve Pinot Gris 2022

The fruit comes from Yamhill, Tukwilla, and Lange Estate Vineyards. 600 case production, 13.3% ABV, fermentation and aging French oak puncheons and concrete. Price Point is $32. A fresh and clean wine; nose of apple, crushed sea shells, dried yellow citrus and white flower bunch. Vibrant acidity accented with green apple, fresh zest of Meyer lemon, mineral and sapidity on finish. Video review listed below.

  • Lange Estate Classique Chardonnay 2021

This wine has a clonal selection of traditional Dijon clones. This wine is 13.3% ABV, 1,450 case production, Price Point is $25. Nose of Comice pear, Meyer lemon zest, and crushed minerals; palate of Granny Smith apple, quince, sea shell, and fennel.

  • Lange Estate Three Hills Cuvée Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2021

This wine has a clonal selection of traditional and Dijon clones, 13.4% ABV, 800 case production. The Price Point is $40. Nose: autumnal & wintery fruit of quince and green apple, just picked flowers and crushed seashells and hint of mild herbs. Sophisticated palate; white fleshly fruit of apple, Comice pear, quince, mid-palate of oyster shell (salinity and minerality) and mild hint of hazelnut. Video review listed below.

  • Lange Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2021

This wine has a clonal selection is traditional and Dijon clones. Fruit sourced from Freedom Hill, Mistletoe, Durant, Yamhill, Hirschy, Madrona Hill, and Lange Estate Vineyards. The wine is 13.5% ABV, 2,350 cases, fermentation and aging: new and neutral French oak. Price Point is $45. Nose: Morello cherry, mouthwatering crushed red candy, sanded cedar, Douglas fir forest and violets. Acidity is vibrant and bold; initial palate has a pleasing tart cherry note, core of spice and pepper, and an enduring graphite character, a developed and a highly optimized maceration. Video review listed below.

  • Lange Estate Three Hills Cuvée Pinot Noir 2021

This Cuvée has been produced since 1997. This wine has a clonal identity of traditional and Dijon clones, 13.5% ABV, 450 case production. The price point is $55. The fermentation and aging is neutral and new French oak. Nose of raspberry and Boysenberry, cherry, clove, and autumnal orchard. Palate highlight abundant acidity, early season red cherry, pepper, mineral and savory finish.

  • Lange Estate Yamhill-Carlton Assemblage Pinot Noir 2021

Fruit is sourced from Yamhill and Hirschy Vineyards. Clonal selection is Dijon clones 115, 667, and 777. Price Point is $80. The sites are primarily on Jory soil series. Nose presents with delicate fragrance of red and black bramble, fresh red rose petal, spice and autumnal evergreen forest. Palate presents with blue and black fruit, freshly ground spice, a mid-palate of graphite and red floral for an expansive and lingering finish.

  • Lange Estate Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2021

This wine has a clonal selection of Pommard, Wädenswil, 777, 667, and 115. 13.5% ABV, 575 cases. Fermentation and aging is new and neutral French oak. Price Point is $80. Nose of Boysenberry, spice, autumnal orchard and violets. Palate is framed with blue fruit, bramble, dried herb, mineral and red floral.

  • Lange Estate Freedom Hill Mount Pisgah Pinot Noir 2021

The fruit comes from southern Willamette Valley almost most southern sub-AVA Mount Pisgah. The wine has a clonal selection of traditional and Dijon clones. 13.5% ABV, 250 case production. Price Point is $80. Nose: red and black bramble, violet, leather/suede, dense forest. Palate of black fruit, spice, violet and mineral. A wine that is quite nice to enjoy now and I can imagine developing further. A completely elegant wine showcasing Willamette Valley and in particular Mount Pisgah.

The Lange family wines present a beautiful capture of fruit, vintage, site and terroir in the most authentic expression. I love wines that express themselves with a sense of personality. Willamette Valley Pinot Noir wines, in general, are distinguishable Pinot Noir that does not taste like another new world regions Pinot Noir. I have yet to be tested but I do think I could distinguish Oregon from other new world Pinot Noir.

I appreciate Lange Estates iconic fishing flies that are different on each label and the certainly rolls up to the families appreciation of not just fishing but it represents a love and commitment to food and wine.

If you have haven’t tasted Lange Estate wines I do recommend starting off with the reserve wines and certainly tasting all of their wines – Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Their wines represent a hallmark of Willamette Valley

I recommend a visit to Lange Estate when you are in the Willamette Valley and delve into the beauty of their assembly of wines that represent the delicateness and beauty of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (be sure to make a reservation).



Lange Estate

 18380 NE Buena Vista Drive

Dundee, OR 97115

I have two sets of videos – shorts (under 1 minutes) and regular videos. I want to alert you that you are not seeing pure duplicates in terms of videos as each format is different. Please select which would like to view. I did not get to produce a YouTube Short for the Pinot Gris or Rosé of Pinot Noir but have a longer format video.

Short format videos (YouTube Shorts):

Longer format videos:

© 2023 James Melendez / JamesTheWineGuy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of JamesTheWineGuy.  JamesTheWineGuy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

#LangeEstate #WillametteValley #DundeeHills #PinotNoir #Chardonnay #Oregon

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ZinEx Media Lunch: Impeccable Food & Wine Pairing: Zinfandel The Wide-Array Food Pairing Wine

Zinfandel, at least, superbly well crafted Zinfandel is primed for a very vast array of food. I have for at least a generation half always poured a Zinfandel for Thanksgiving amongst other wines and I always serve Beaujolais (in case you are wondering).  

But I am guilty of not opening a bottle of Zinfandel more often for my dinners. There are many great reasons to open up this variety–Zinfandel is a grape that tastes like no other variety and it has a lovely evocation of things familiar and comforting and exciting.

The ZinEx Media (January 2023) lunch at One Market is not just a lunch, it is an experience to talk one-on-one with a Zinfandel producer (winemaker or producer representative) and a paired dish. The food was stunning and enough food for lunch and dinner. The food was prepared by Chef Mark Dommen–it was an eight course meal ranging from Octopus to Beef Short Ribs.  The lunch executed the exquisite and thoughtful food with finessed Zinfandel.  Each of the media members was served a different Zinfandel with each item paired. The diversity of Zinfandels was stunning and while I could think of Zinfandel “X” with plate “Y” it was the ability of this variety to be so friendly with each dish.

There were approximately eight members of wine media present (perhaps slightly more). Most likely each of us had a different Zinfandel per each course. So there was a different experience that perhaps each of us had at this lunch: I suspect that each pairing was an optimum experience and hard to do an absolute comparison.  The food and wine pairings were on their mark.

I love the experience of a notebook in hand, talking and eating–I have been to many winemaker lunches and dinners and this is part of the territory.  I welcome it!  It is more than just eating and enjoying wine–it is getting into the heart of the matter of the winemaker’s vision of their wine and I love to delve into their experience.  

Three Categories of Zinfandel farming:

  1. Field Blended Zinfandel – old, old vines (planted in mid-to-late 1800s) where many varieties were co-planted amongst Zinfandel such as Alicante Bouschet, Carignane, Dolcetto, Colombard (yes white wine grapes) amongst many others. 
  2. Old Vine Zinfandel – not co-planted with any other varieties (there is no standard definition of old vine in terms of age) so I would say that it is younger than Field Blended Zinfandel sites and perhaps at least 40-50 years old.  There is also not a clear marker that they taste different than a non-old vine Zinfandel; but certainly they yield less per acre.
  3. Non-Old Vine Zinfandel – fruit producing vines to 30-50 years old.  

Three Predominant Styles;

  1. Field Blend Zinfandel – wines that are distinct and complex usually a darker color and the resonance is encompassing Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouscher for considerable dark inky coloration but also imparts flavor and also other varieties are often included.
  2. Intentional Blend Zinfandel – there is a big tradition of blending Zinfandel and Petite Sirah and the variation is vast – from 1-2% to 29% Petite Sirah to Zinfandel (and potentially use other common blended wine grapes).  There are generally two approaches a producer might select: A) use fruit from the site which may include Petite Sirah and the other most common blenders such as Alicante Bouschet and Carginan B) implement Petite Sirah, Carignan, and Alicante Bouschet from another site.   I always ask winemakers why they blend if they do so.  Perhaps using other varieties for vinifying Zinfandel can be for a breadth of reasons such as structure, complexity, historical reasons, color, etc.
  3. One Hundred Percent Zinfandel – there are many producers who vinify yearly a 100% Zinfandel and do so confidently.  A lighter colored Zinfandel doesn’t mean a loss of anything; Zinfandel can stand on its own

Then you can get into site specificity, vintage, region, soil, specific vinification methods along with aging regimens: you have a very large spectrum of experiences possible from Zinfandel that can make for an exciting wine to be tasted. Here are the food and wines tasted:

Rodney Strong Old Vines Zinfandel Sonoma County 2019

This wine is 98% Zinfandel, 2% Petite Sirah, 15% ABV, 18 months in 40% New French oak.  Winemakers: are Justin Seidenfeld and Olivia Wright. 

I met with Rodney Strong representative Christopher O’Gorman.  This wine presented a nose of rich red bramble, freshly sanded wood, autumnal leaves, suede and spice.  Palate is enveloped with red-black bramble (raspberry, Boysenberry), white pepper and red floral.  An acid rich expression with nicely assembled structure.  I can count on one hand how often I have tased Rodney Strong’s Zinfandel–indeed rare but something I look forward to tasting more.

Food pairing: Grilled Spanish Octopus (first time to taste this pairing–it was a convincing pairing)

Rombauer Vineyards El Dorado Twin Rivers Zinfandel 2020

This wine is 100% Zinfandel,15.9% ABV; 15 months in American oak (15% New) and French Oak.  I enjoyed meeting with winemaker Luke Clayton.  

This wine’s nose presents with notes of black fruit, crushed spices and violets; palate is expansive and brooding black fruit, clove, pepper, dried flowers and Thyme.  I certainly need to step-foot-on-ground to visit El Dorado AVA and the Rombauer site.  This AVA is on my radar and I look forward to tasting more higher elevation Zinfandels. 

Food pairing:  Chicken Apple Sausage Meatballs

Quivira Black Boar Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2020

The fruit is sourced from Anderson Ranch and Wine Creek Ranch; 95% Zinfandel, 5% Petite Sirah.  The aging of this wine is a combination of French and American oak.  Nose presents with red cherry, blackberry, clove, and red rose petal; palate of black cherry, clove, dried herbs and graphite.  I have met Hugh Chappelle previously and always have so many questions on his winemaking knowledge and his wines at Quivira.  I recommend a visit to Quivira in Dry Creek Valley to taste this outstanding Zinfandel and other wines.

Food pairing: Mushroom Stroganoff Potato Latke (One Market is known fo the Potato Latkes)

Seghesio Todd Brothers Ranch Alexander Valley Zinfandel 2020

Andy Robinson is the winemaker and I appreciate his style and love to talk with him about sites and styles.  He is an alumnus of SUNY and studied Chemistry and of course with a focus on wine; I am fascinated by winemaking in New York and California that he has experienced.

This wine is 100% Zinfandel, 15.5% ABV, wine is aged primarily in French oak for 15 months, mainly neutral barrels 86%.  Nose of fresh red and black fruit, freshly crushed spices, Bay leaf, and violets; palate is expressing notes of mainly red fruit, mid-palate of pepper and spice, and finishing with noticeable minerality and rose petals. 

Food pairing: House-Made Orecchiette pasta with Spiced Lamb 

Truett-Hurst Single Vineyard Collection Estate Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel 2019

This is my first time meeting winemaker Ross Reed, a graduate of Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and has made wines in Australia, New Zealand and Napa Valley.  

This wine is 100% Zinfandel and this wine is valley floor fruit and yields 2 tons per acre. I had not tasted Truett-Hurst in about a decade which is coincident with my last visit to Truett-Hurst.  The nose presents with a nose of early season cherry, clove, forest floor, suede and red floral; the palate expresses with an abundance of red fruit–cherry and bramble, warm spice of clove and baking spices, and lingering finish of dried herbs and lovely and pleasant finish.

Food pairing: Roasted Chicken Breast (wood smoked with house made BBQ sauce–a fantastic dish)

Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel 2020

I appreciated tasting with John Olney, Ridge’s winemaker and COO, of this esteemed Ridge site.  This is the first Ridge wine I tasted many years ago-–it wasn’t until years later that I tasted Monte Bello.  Ridge has a footprint on so many sites and regions and honors the site in each bottle.  Ridge will range from 71% Zinfandel to 100% Zinfandel depending on site and of course sites like Lytton Springs will vary on a vintage basis with Carignan and Petite Sirah in its marriage with Zinfandel.  John has the experience with the ultimate Zinfandel wine making experiences anywhere as there are so many sites Ridge manages and owns.  

This wine is 79% Zinfandel, 11% Petite Sirah, and 10% Carignan and, of course, the iconic Ridge labels will always let you know the composition of the wine at hand.  The wine is 14.6% ABV, and is aged in 100% air-dried American oak barrels (15% new, 15% one year-old, 20% two years-old, 20% three years-old, 15% four years-old, and 15% five years-old).

Nose of black cherry, clove, dried red rose petal and evergreen forest; palate of Morello cherry, white pepper, red tea,Tarragon and red floral notes.

Food pairing: Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin (rich and superbly delightful)

Three Contra Costa County Live Oak Zinfandel 2017

Three Wine Company was established by long time winemaker Matt Cline and his wife Erin.  Matt co-founded Cline Cellars with his brother.  Three Wine Co. is based in Clarksburg and sources from Northern California.  The fruit from this very old site in Contra Costa County is dazzling.  Live Oak was planted in 1885 by Italian immigrants and the block contains 82.1% Zinfandel, 12.5% Petite Sirah, 2.5% Carignan, 2.8% Alicante Bouschet and .1% Mataro.  Contra Costa County is thought of as a bedroom community of the Bay Area only despite its long grape growing and agriculture tradition.  It is spectacular to have glorious and definitive fruit from this site.  Contra Costa County has a low elevation, influenced from the delta (Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers) which moderate summer heat with a daily cool down from the rivers.  The soil content is loam and clay.  

This wine’s nose presents with red and black bramble, freshly sanded cedar, suede, red floral and dried herbs.  The palate expresses blackberry, freshly ground spices, dried herbs and minerals.  And this pairing with duck was stellar and it was the first time I have tasted duck and Zinfandel and will experience this again soon.

Food pairing: Grilled Duck Breast with Huckleberry Sauce (a stunning dish–so well executed)

Once & Future Dry Creek Valley Frank’s Block Teldeschi Vineyard Zinfandel 2019

I had met Joel Peterson sometime ago–when he was with Ravenswood.  It was a superb lunch over a generation and half ago that I had sat with him and other wine journalists.  I remember that meal like it was yesterday.  I was so glad to get focused one-on-one time with a wine legend like Joel Peterson.  Joel is known for his founding of Ravenswood and the many Zinfandels he made there.  The mantra of “no wimpy wines” made Ravenswood famous.  The Smithsonian houses the Ravenswood ‘No Wimpy Wines’ orange T-shirt.  

No Wimpy Wines at The Smithsonian, Washington, DC

I appreciate Joel’s experience and background and stories.  I remember I listened to Levi Dalton’s interview with Joel: it was an exceptional interview and I learned more about Joel.  I talked a bit about Joel’s upbringing and his very cultured and educated parents that Joel exemplifies and also extends out to Joel’s children as well.  Joel is one of my favorite names as that is my brother’s name which of course I mentioned.  The time flew by so very quickly and I am appreciative of his time.

What a perfect food pairing for Joel’s wine – beef short rib and Zinfandel – a crazy delicious combination.  Teldeschi is an old site of Zinfandel, Carignan, and Alicante Bouschet.  The nose is a sense of black cherry, fresh red rose petals, suede, autumnal orchard and fallen leaves; the palate is presenting with red and black fruit, freshly ground spices, freshly fallen Bay leaves and graphite.  A sophisticated and appreciable Zinfandel that drinks superbly now and will do so in a decade as well (if not much longer).  The time with Joel was all too short but I am delighted to have had this experience.

Food pairing: Beef Short Ribs (spectacular; I have tried making short ribs and still have yet to make them to this level)

Chef Dommen’s food is so well executed; I have eaten at One Market for many years and appreciate his food and vision.   One Market under Chef Dommen has elevated and become such a reliable and exciting place for chef prepared food.

Takeaways from this tasting: Zinfandel is adaptable and capable of pairing with so many foods and it is done with great ease.  So it is easy to pair steak with a Cabernet; it is this tasteing that has convinced me to try Zinfandel on my next steak-out. 

Zinfandel is thought of as being a native grape stemming from California but that is not possible as it is a Vitis vinifera grape.  But there is something so unique in Zinfandel’s journey from Croatia to Vienna to Long Island to California–how did this grape get to California so early?  It is a mutual pick –Zinfandel picked California and California picked Zinfandel.  And yes, of course, Zinfandel has been planted in many other places in the world and the US.  But California’s Zinfandel experience is the widest breadth of elevation, soil type, expressions and microclimates than almost anywhere else you will find Zinfandel. Give Zinfandel a try on your next dinner-–you have a wide net to cast of food offerings to pair with this wine.  




Zinfandel Advocates & Producers

Zinfandel Experience

© 2023 James Melendez / JamesTheWineGuy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of JamesTheWineGuy.  JamesTheWineGuy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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10 Tips to Proactively Manage Your Video Content

This is a short and actionable article on Video + Managing Your ContentPrimary audience for this content for businesses and niche video content producers and all are welcomed to read of course!

Managing Your Expectation of Your Video Content is something you can and should be doing!  

Seems obvious,  Right?   

YouTube can make a video producer feel vastly unsatisfied and feel as if progress is retrograde.  But all is not lost.

YouTube is a one-size-fits-all video platform – it is rare for a one-size-fits-all product type to work for everyone and everything.  When I buy a pair of gloves or a shirt and it is a one-size-fits-all do I expect them to fit?  So perhaps through randomness I might get what I want and need but more likely I will not get what I want and need hence YouTube is a fitting analogy.

For niche content, the YouTube algorithm is designed for big ticket items like gaming or DIY, etc.  And yes it is unfair to niche products BUT I keep putting one foot-in-front-of-the-other and hence by that extension I encourage you to do the same.

Here are 10 things you can do to optimize your video’s performance and manage your YouTube channel:

  1. Manage your expectation – I have three sets of click averages that I monitor:
    • Just published rate – I know overall average performance and I have a very modest number that I seek for each video; this average click rate can tell me if I need to do anything else to increase click rate
    • Long-term rate – how are my videos performing post 6 months? Have they exceeded the average?  If not I know I will to take action
    • Specialized/Well Known Product content rate – some of my content performs at multiples of my non-specialized content averages.  If there is significant lag I will then take action

** And clicks are still very important–it is the only data a viewer sees on each video.  Viewers feel more confident if a video has 100 clicks versus 5

  1. Monitor view rate – All this will tell you is when someone will stop watching your video–this happens to many if not all video producers–rare for someone to watch a video E2E (end-to-end)
    • I have reduced duration of videos to some degree where logical; but you should not reduce to render your video content as too thin or uninteresting
    • I give time points in longer videos (e.g. History – 00:40, Background – 01:50) to help viewers hone in content that they are interested in viewing–I’d rather have viewers find what they are seeking then have them leave too soon (Give time point in video description and pin in comments section)
  2. Promote More Than Once – just because you have “built it” doesn’t mean those that might want to see your content have actually seen it
    • Find opportunities to promote multiple of times and not just a few days after publishing but weeks if not years (wine content as an example to large extent is evergreen) if you are talking about a past vintage perhaps someone would still like to view it
  3. Add three hashtags in description – the hashtags will allow the viewer to find your content via search.  You will also get insight as to how many videos with those specific categories have been published (I note for future content)
  4. Add a thumbnail – while YouTube will generate a random thumbnail from your content – it will not be enough for someone to click on your content.  When I first started making content there was no Canva application.  You can use the free version of Canva: it is an awesome tool to making a clickable thumbnail as it attractive and contains actionable images and words
  5. Ask people to give a Like to you video and to Subscribe to your channel – years ago YouTube “Discouraged” this practice: I saw everyone doing it and I quickly adopted what other producers were doing.  I think it is a small ask and so many viewers are willing to do this.  And make the ask at the beginning of video for viewers to take action right away (if you place towards end of video they may not watch entire vieo)
  6. Ask business (that you are featuring) to support your video by giving a Like, Retweet Subscribe, and also for placement in their newsletter and website and any other showing of support for the content you created.  I am surprised when I do not get a response from business where I featured their product
  7. Manage Video Visibility Settings: Public, Private and Unlist – I don’t delete videos ever especially if I have clicks on those – I will usually unlist.  YouTube is unpredictable, at best, on how it treats counts – generally your aggregate click rate will show up on your  home page “About” on Your Channel.  Counts now (2023) for private or unlist are deducted off of total to anyone viewing the About page. The only way you can get all of clicks to show is that all videos have to be public
  8. Review video prior to posting for any additional edits – YouTube has a simple editor for published videos which I try not use unless it is absolutely necessary–not terribly easy to use and not as easy to use as a full fledged video editor 
  9. Quality of Video Output – I will unlist content that either hasn’t performed well or if the quality is something not pleasing (such as aspect ratio) for video consuming public.  There is a difference on how something looked due to camera technology a decade ago and today’s current camera technology (I am okay with people seeing my content as it was 10 years ago) but if I feel it is not up to standards I will place video in unlist or private 

YouTube could be more dynamic in how it treats its specialized and niche video content producers.  Their only interest is on content producers who have hundreds of millions of clicks and equally hundreds of millions of hours consumers yearly.  While YouTube does “survey” its producer community it does not take any actions to mitigate how they are treated by the one-size-fits-all algorithm.  But I am not going to hold my breath forYouTube to suddenly understand smaller and niche video producers. I will not waste valuable time.  I will optimize my channels performance in spite of the many restrictions and non support from the YouTube algorithm.

© 2023 James Melendez / JamesTheWineGuy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of JamesTheWineGuy.  JamesTheWineGuy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

#video #youtube #contentcreator #video #videoproducer #manage #manageexpectation #proactive #proaction

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Verba Volant, Scripta Manent & Wine (The Written Word is Preferred)

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent is a Latin phrase meaning “spoken words fly away, written words remain” and this applies to our world today and specifically since this is a wine article no words ring truer.  When it comes to the wine community I would translate Verba Volant, Scripta Manent to mean “the written word is preferred, and video….well….”  There is an ambivalence at best on video and wine.

Here is a piece I wrote Martin Woods – Willamette Valley Wine Producer – Oregon Wines of Finesse and this piece performed 5-8x better than a video which I might have done on this subject.  While video and I love video (not sure I need to say it) and I am suggesting that it is not to replace the written word but the recorded image is almost never preferred.  

When I get sample submissions, I do think submitters expect me to complete a video and a written piece!  I am surprised that many producers and even when I tag them don’t give a like or reblog, etc.  I had asked several PR people why a particular brand sent out samples if they didn’t want to acknowledge my video or written pieces?  It is not just myself but other writers and videographers have experienced this as well.  Giving a like costs maybe a half a second of time and perhaps if retweeted or reposted that exposure can be beneficial to both.  I do review a considerable number of independent and smaller producers and I do get positive responses often–even some nice emails. 

I remember I was invited to a European region by a PR organization and a week later I got an email saying to be sure to secure publication in Forbes or similar publication.  Ah okay!?!  I was subsequently dis-invited after being invited!?  So this told me volumes about the view of the written word versus the video word. 

I have been an early adopter and constant video content producer.  I do think that video can do many things that sometimes writing cannot.  Video is a visual presentation that is uniquely different and offers color of emotion that cannot be executed any other way.  Movies are popular because we can see a representation more than say a book of fiction—they are easily digestible and shareable.  And I am a huge believer in books–I have a nice collection of books and love them everso.  So I will not criticize the written word for its function, value and utility.   And topics where a comprehensive documentation is needed then the written word is certainly recognized and preferred. 

There seems to be something more tangible about a written piece from a producer point-of-view.  When I show wine producers that I have completed a video of their wine; It is seen as a trivial or “that’s nice.”  I am surprised at that nonchalance.  I have chosen a specific bottle/producer and I paid for it: I could have selected a different bottle and producer.  I estimate that 5% of all wine produced today gets video coverage and 95% do not.

I have been through the ebb and flow of the video trending on YouTube; now wine is much more popular than say a decade ago.  But I think there is an entrapping quality about video and YouTube.  The YouTube algorithm has no sensitivity to niche categories like wine but is really designed for things like gaming, vlogs, DIY and other popular topics.  The click rate is invariably low for many wine and niche content producers;  But I don’t think it is a terminal state.

The other problematic feature of wine videos on YouTube is that it shows click rates. And here is an entrapment on video performance and it goes something like this:

“Okay the video has 15,000 clicks but why is it not 20,000 or 25,000 clicks……” 

“The channel has 500,000 overall clicks but why not 800,000 or 1 million or more and if the channel achieves 1 million hits–why isn’t it a 1.5 million clicks….. “ and those questions about numbers go on ad infinitum

Performance on YouTube may never be satisfying to anyone.  If a YouTuber producer completes a wine video and it has 500 clicks that content producer might assess this as successful.  But the wine producer or PR agency might see 500 clicks as okay or perhaps unimpressive performance.

Despite the obstacles there is still a reason to do wine content on YouTube and it is worth doing.  I do think there is a wine enthusiast who is looking for reliability in assessment and scoring and comprehensive coverage in wine video content.

In my attendance of video conferences, I have noted that highly clicked personalities are also surprised at their video performance.  Often those personalities pre-suppose some of their content should do better than its low click rate.  Just because you ‘build it’ doesn’t mean they will come and sometimes there is a disconnect between video performance and how we judge content.

I had someone close to me say “James, if you like doing video–keep doing it and look for incremental improvements.”   I understood what he was saying and it was sage words about my video production.  I have had moments where it is discouraging but I keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Video is taken for granted and the power of the written word in paper or digital paper is always going to rank supreme.  Some of my content is viewed at a significantly higher than average rate and I have 105 videos with clicks between 1,000 and 15,000 and analyzing the numbers it is brand driven but more than that it is evergreen content that leads the way.  In the old days of advertising vehicles like physical ads or newspapers or other hard media had no performance metrics and their performance was called “impressions” and it was just an estimate.   

All is not lost. Video is not going away.  The challenges are several fold on YouTube and the wine producers and content producers can be a winning pair and co-lead with promotion of content.

Wine is the most fundamentally unique product on planet earth–no other product has vintage, large numbers of producers, varieties, cuvées and regions; and not all wine video content is going to be as highly consumed and it should not be judged solely on high click rates.

It is through confidence and absolute belief in yourself and if you’re open to incremental improvements you might surprise yourself in terms of the content you are producing.  And wine producers can benefit additionally with their active promotion and support.

Vitis vinifera will always find a way….. A hearty fruited vine looks to create fruit even in the harshest of conditions.  So too wine videos can endure YouTube one-size-fits-all Algorithm.  Just like my disinvite from an event–I don’t disinvite the subject of wine; instead I embrace it and make friends… After all, we can never have too many friends in our lives.

–James Melendez

© 2023 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Martin Woods – Willamette Valley Wine Producer – Oregon Wines of Finesse

Looking Towards Eola-Amity Hills – Evan Highlights Where He Obtains fruit and the Character of Terroir from Jessie James, Koosah, Yamhill, Pearlstad and Hyland Vineyards

Martin Woods sounds like this is a person’s name or a national forest but it is the name of a producer near McMinnville, Oregon.  Martin Woods is owned and operated by winemaker and Sommelier Evan Martin and he has been producing wines since 2009 under this label.  Evan is a thoughtful and precise winemaker without whom we would not have these haunting wines.  While wine is made in the vineyard it equally has a dependency on the best vinification practices to allow fruit to shine.  Evan is a bright person who is a winemaker’s winemaker and a Sommelier’s winemaker.  He uses exacting and detailed language to give color to his approach to winemaking and his passion on viticulture and terroir.

Oregon wines are evocative and are coming from a compelling terroir.  It is outstanding fruit and world class winemaking that gives me a reason to visit continuously.  While I live on the West Coast I still don’t have the ability to taste as many Oregon producers as I would like.  Every single time I put foot-on-ground in the ‘Land of The Douglas Fir’ (my nickname for Oregon) I find outstanding wine producers that I have never tasted previously.  My January 2023 trip discovery included the discovery of Evan Wood’s wines.  I have known about his wines previously and I have also heard great things about his wine bar in downtown McMinnville named HiFi.

I remember a decade ago, I was talking with a vigneron from a well-known producer in Oregon’s  Washington County that Oregon’s Pinot Noirs are recognizable and I could not mistake them for Pinot’s from California or further afield.  Oregon Pinot Noir possesses markers that I could easily identify them—it is one thing to recognize and another to be in sheer adoration of them.  A long time appreciator of Oregon wines, I am glad to see Chardonnay joining the ranks of this significant and important variety being grown here in more compelling quantities.  Half a generation ago one would expect to hear that Oregon’s signature red wine Pinot Noir and for white wine you would have expected Pinot Gris.  Pinot Gris will always be part of the Oregon wine landscape.

Here is what I tasted in January:

Martin Woods Hyland Vineyard Willamette Valley McMinnville Riesling 2019

There is not enough Riesling planted in Willamette Valley and I wish to see more.  Hyland Vineyard is a legendary vineyard poised for coolness and the perfect place for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling.  The elevation of this site is at least 4x the average of McMinnville; 600-800 FASL (Feet Above Seat Level) /182.8-244 MASL (Meters Above Seat Level) : the average elevation in McMinnville is 154 FASL/47 MASL.  Acidity will be garnered especially with the shift of day-to-night temperatures.  

The nose is giving a familiar petrol note; tart green apple, hint of beeswax and mineral. Palate of wintry fruit of apple and fleshy pear, oyster shell and minute hint of fennel. 

Martin Woods Pearlstad Vineyard Willamette Valley Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay 2021

The site ranges between 400-500 FASL/122-152 MASL; southwest orientation, clonal selection is Dijon 76, 96 and 548.  Elevage is 228L & 400L Oregon and French cooperage – no new oak.  Soil content is Steiwer & Cehulpum series; marine sediments, shallow to bedrock. Elevage is aged 14 months (6 months without sulfur) on lees (no battonage) in 228L & 400L Oregon and French cooperage. This wine is 12% ABV

There is minimal intervention in all of Evan’s wines and it shows especially with the Chardonnay wines: elegance and a wine at-ease in the glass.  Nose of Comice pear, crushed sea shell and sea spray; palate is luminous with winter/autumnal fruit, and trace amounts of fresh delicate herbs.

.Martin Woods Koosah Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Chardonnay 2021

This site is east of the Van Duzer Corridor which rallies cool coastal air for an optimum place for Chardonnay.  Elevation of site is high – 800-985 FASL/244-302 MASL, 22 degree slope and facing southeast,  The soil is volcanic (Jory, Witzel and Parrett); dry farmed, clones are Dijon 76 and 95.  Elevage is 21 months in 228L & 400L Oregon & French cooperage – no new oak.  This wine is 13.3% ABV

It’s everything anyone would want in a Chardonnay: weight, elegance and ability to convey varietal character without a crutch of oak dependency.  I love Chardonnay with food, of course, but there is a quiet moment I want with a finely crafted Chardonnay on its own.  I enjoy the texture and ability of this Chardonnay to convey so much especially if it is well structured.  This is that wine.  A harmonious  wine with a sophisticated leaning.  Nose of autumnal-winter fruit, crushed sea shells and delicate fresh herbs. Palate of Comice pear, oyster shell and lively acidity.

What I am yearning to experience is to taste these wines 10 years from now.  I love aged Chardonnay and based on how they taste today I can imagine graceful aging as the core of acidity will insure liveliness for years to come.

Martin Woods Tualatin Estate Vineyard Willamette Valley Tualatin Hills Gamay Noir 2021

The Tualatin site is 300-400 FASL/91-122 MASL; south facing; the soil is Laurelwood (Loess).  This is a dry farmed site.  Elevage is 9 months (6 months without sulfur), sur lie, old neutral cooperage.

I do wonder why there isn’t more Gamay from Oregon.  It is the ideal climate and probably has to do with the fact that most Americans drink Gamay on Thanksgiving only.  I have been to many tasting menu restaurants in Paris and every single time there is a Gamay (Beaujolais) that is served.  Such a fantastic variety for food–and just a remarkable character that I look forward to tasting.  Nose of blue-black fruit, moistened red earth, hint of mushroom, freshly fallen Bay leaves and spice; palate of abundant acidity woven with black fruit, freshly ground spice and graphite.

Martin Woods Hyland Vineyard McMinnville Pinot Noir 2021 95 Points

This Pinot Noir is sourced from Hyland Vineyard which is at 600 FASL/183 MASL.  Soil content is Volcanic Basalt (Jory series).  Clonal selection is self-rooted Coury Selection (from Alsace) & Dijon 115.  The site is dry farmed.  Whole cluster is 15%.  Elevage: 14 months in 228L, Average Barrel Age 4-5 years (5% new). 13.4% ABV.

The nose presents with cherry and red-black bramble, spice and violets.  The palate exhibits notes of Boysenberry (Reddish-Blackish bramble), Thyme, pepper, and graphite.

Martin Woods Jessie James Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir 2021 96 Points

This site is 675 FASL/205.7 MASL and faces south.  The soil series is Nekia (rocky volcanic basalt, shallow topsoil).  Clonal selection is Wadenswil & Pommard & Dijon 113, 114, 115.  The site is dry farmed. 12% whole cluster. Elevage: 15 months (6 months without sulfur); average barrel age 4-5 years.  13.5% ABV.

Nose of black bramble, dried red rose petals, moistened red earth and dried Bay leaves.  Palate is expressing with red-black fruit, spices, abundant minerality and floral notation.

Martin Woods Koosah Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills Pinot Noir 2021 96 Points

Elevation is : 820-920 FASL/249.9-280.4 MASL, southeast facing at a 26% slope,  Soil series is soils: Volcanic Basalt (Parrett series).  Mix of clones 37, Pommard, 943, 777, 115, 114, and 667.  The site is dry farmed. 10% whole cluster.  Elevage: 14 months (6 months without sulfur), Avg. Barrel Age 4-5 years.  13.6% ABV.

Nose of blackberry, spice, and red rose petal; palate of black fruit, clove, dried herbs and graphite.

Martin Woods Oregon Walla Walla Valley Cabernet Franc 2021 94 Points

Fruit is sourced from Walla Walla Valley and The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater.  Elevation is 950 FASL/ 289.6 MASL.  Soil series is Freewater (cobblestone and gravel intermixed with loess). 30% whole cluster.  Elevage: 14 months sur lie (6 months without sulfur) Avg. barrel age 8-10 year.  13.6% ABV.

Cabernet Franc is an easy grape to get wrong in terms of vinification.  There is a fine line between a wine grape showing its essential character and a wine that can be dented; but precise wine making can make a stunning wine.  Evan has sculpted this wine to show its varietal character and all of its assets.  A nose of Morello cherry, red autumnal fruit, Bay leaf and dried herbs; a palate of sumptuous red fruit, Thyme, dill and mineral.

Martin Woods The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater Syrah 2019 95 Points

The site is 925-950 FASL/281.9- 289.6 MASL; soil series is Freewater (cobblestone and gravintermixed with loess).  50% whole cluster.  Elevage: sur lie 21 months in 228L & 400L neutral cooperage.  13.8% ABV.  

I am endlessly fascinated by The Rocks – a sub-AVA of Walla Walla AVA and lies entirely in Oregon and is the only AVA designated by its single soil series: rocky soil with basalt cobbles.  I have only seen pictures and need to put foot-on-ground at some point.  The Rocks is mainly planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Grenache vines.  This AVA can be compared to other regions in the world Corbières or Côte-Rôtie and while there is a similar look but it is it’s own unique wine region with alluring and expressive wines.

I have often been told that Eastern Oregon has some resemblance to the drier parts of New Mexico which I call the ‘Land of Clear Light’ (yes, I rename nicknames often).  But I think the resemblance begins near the town of Baker City, Oregon.  I digress.

The Syrah presents with a great sense of harmony and place.  The nose presents with a vivid frame of black and red fruit, forest floor, suede and Bay leaf. The palate is showing lively acidity and notes of black cherry, clove, white pepper, ground spices and nuanced purple floral. 

Every single wine Evan produces is stunning; each wine presents with full varietal character, incorporating an exact balance with a full expression of finesse.  The genuineness is of Terroir, region, and letting fruit speak aptly with structure and style.  The stature of these wines loom large in my mind and I cannot wait to taste Evan’s wines again and to visit his wine bar. 

Check out Martin Woods site to order wines from states that receipt wines from OregonHere is the HiFi site and I have heard that this wine bar has an amazing wine list–one of Oregon’s best. Martin Woods wines are awaiting for you to experience.

© 2023 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

#Oregon #WillametteValley #EolaAmity #TheRockDistrictMiltonFreewater #Tualatin #Koosah #Hyland #PinotNoir #Chardonnay #Gamay #Syrah #Riesling #McMinnville

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Say Yes to Michigan…. Michigan Wine

Say Yes to Michigan’ was a 1982 Michigan travel campaign unveiled during the Superbowl at the Pontiac Silverdome.  And it is also a track by the same name on the album “Michigan” by my favorite singer-songwriter of all time and a native Michigan son Sufjan Stevens.  

I remember finding and tasting Michigan wines in Chicago over a decade ago. I had never forgotten that experience and I subsequently tasted Hickory Creek wines in 2013 and 2014 (video reviews below). In my experience of Michigan wines was to taste place. I never expect to have wine varieties from one region to another to taste exactly the same.  

I have always longed for tasting place—it depends on where I travel but I try to bring back wine, honey and olive oil (if the region has olive oil) and anything unique about the place.  

I love the difference and uniqueness that place presents and offers.  I don’t want place to taste exactly like another locale.  How many places are compared to Burgundy?  The “Burgundian” descriptor is over used and inappropriately utilized and it takes away from place.Michigan, a quite northerly state and a state bounded by very large bodies of freshwater (the largest freshwater lakes on planet Earth): the asset of big bodies of water is to moderate temperature. Most of Michigna’s AVAs (American Viticulture Area) are closest to Lake Michigan and Lake Huron for ‘Top of the Mitt” AVA.

Like many states in the US, Michigan does produce Vitis vinifera as well as hybrid grapes. Amongst US States, Michigan is unusual as there are big bodies of water nearly surrounding the state except for its southern border.  The Lakes help to moderate temperature as the summers even in northern states can make wine grape cultivation difficult especially for cool climate grapes like Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, etc.  And Michigan’s climate also hosts warmer weather varieties like Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot etc.  The hybrid which will be found in many US states and Canada and were planted for a variety of reasons including but not limited to shorter growing seasons and for disease resistance.  

From my understanding, wine grape cultivation is produced in a majority of Michigan counties.  Michigan is the sixth largest wine producing state (ahead of Virginia – which I did not expect), There are 171 operating wineries ranking number nine and an economic impact of $4.5 billion.  

I am not a fan of Hybrid grapes and have never found the wines produced from these grapes to be compelling—foxy, and linear and limited complexity on nose and palate.  If you talk to wine producers in areas that have traditionally had a lot of hybrid grapes it was thought they would be the only wine grapes suitable for an area with shorter growing seasons,  But what has happened and you see this often in Canada is many hybrids have been pulled out in favor of vinifera.  And I have heard Canadian producers who thought it was only possible to have hybrid grapes and as it has turned out some varieties of vinifera have been quite successful.   And I am suggesting this is possible in many more US states as well. 

Back to Vitis vinifera and Michigan, it is a compelling set of circumstances that I believe it is the right place to grow these grapes here and now. Increasing global temperatures and, there is no uniformity or predictability, in how each wine region will change.  There is a lot of attention on regions like Michicagan as they might be bigger regions in the future; as their ability to continue to grow cool climate grapes when other traditional regions might go offline.  After all, do we want to live in a  world without cool climate varieties?  I cannot predict how a dynamical system like weather will change in the next decades but it will affect all wines differently and not uniformly.  Most likely Michigan will always be in the top 10 of wine producing states even with global warming challenges.

Here are is more information on Michigan AVAs:

Fennville AVA – AVA was established 1981 and is the oldest AVA in Michigan (Napa also became an AVA the same year).  Primary soil: glacial sandy soils. And this AVA produces:

  • Cabernet Franc
  • Chardonel
  • Chancellor 
  • Chambourcin
  • Pinot Gris
  • Pinot Noir
  • Primitivo
  • Seyval
  • Riesling

Leelanau Peninsula AVA – AVA established 1982.  Soil conditions: Clay-rich and topsoils of gravel, sand and loam.  And this AVA produces:

  • Aurore
  • Auxerrois
  • Bianca
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cayuga,
  • Chardonnay
  • De Chaunac
  • Dolcetto
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Malbec
  • Marechal Foch
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Pinot Gris
  • Pinot Noir
  • Riesling
  • Seyval Blanc
  • Traminette
  • Vignoles

Lake Michigan Shore AVA – AVA established 1983.  Evenness of soil content: glacial moraine soil.  And this AVA produces:

  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chancellor
  • Chardonnay
  • Chelois
  • De Chaunac
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Lemberger
  • Malbec
  • Marsanne
  • Merlot
  • Müller-Thurgau
  • Petit Verdot 
  • Pinot Gris, 
  • Pinot Noir
  • Riesling
  • Roussanne
  • Seyval blanc
  • St. Vincent
  • Syrah
  • Traminette
  • Vidal Blanc
  • Vignoles
  • Viognier

Old Mission Peninsula AVA – AVA established 1987.  This is a unique AVA where a majority of wines produced are Vitis vinifera; so rare to find this in the NE United States.  And this AVA produces

  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chardonnay
  • Gamay Noir
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Malbec
  • Merlot
  • Muscat Ottonel
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Pinot Gris
  • Pinot Noir,
  • Riesling

 Tip of the Mitt AVA – AVA established 2016 and is Michigan’s youngest AVA and produces wine mainly from hybrid grapes.  And this AVA produces:

  • Marquette 
  • Frontenac
  • Frontenac Gris, 
  • Frontenac Blanc
  • Marquette, Vignoles
  • Lemberger
  • Traminette
  • Riesling
  • Chardonnay

I don’t have specific numbers of total wineries and acres under production in each AVA. What I find completely interesting is that the US in general is awakening from a wine slumber mainly started in the 1980s, a much smaller wave in the 1990s and a revival of AVA applications and declared AVAs in the 2000s.  Michigan was mainly part of the first wave.  Most US states are quite mixed and that applies to California, Oregon and Washington (but these specific states have been busy defining new AVA’s and sub-AVAs additionally).  

The wine industry for the most part sans California have had AVAs that have been vastly locally supported.  The thing about local production is that it has tended to produce wines that the general population expects: off-dry and sweet.  But the upgrade in food culture has rubbed off on producers to create drier wines over time.  The pandemic has helped to re-assert DTC (Direct-to-Consumer), however, there are still logistical issues.  

I do think DTC is good for both wine consumers and wine producers.  What this means for the wine consumer are wines that are going to be drier and increased quality standards.  What it means for producers is awareness building of Michigan wine and increasing customer base.   This is not a Renaissance moment of hybrid grapes anywhere even with global warming.  While I may not like Hybrid wine grapes there are people who do like it and hence a wine for all palates is needed.  While DTC has grown considerably in the past three years it is also not grown large enough where consumers are reaching for lesser known wine states beyond the West Coast triad.  Wines are still a hyper local product which is good and not so good.  I do suggest going beyond one’s comfort zone to find a new wine, producer and variety to reward and fuel their food and wine wishes.  And I do think Michigan wines can please many consumers.

I did appreciate being in Chicago for several consecutive summers and tasting fruit from the fruit belt of Michigan and reinforced with more diverse wine lists allowed me to taste Michigan in ways I did not before.  When I tasted Michigan, I got a sense of place when I tasted both Michigan food and wine and found that experience compelling and enriching.

I do believe there will be a difference and it is not about wine technicals but about wines that showcase the unique climate of Michigan.  Keeping an open mind and engaging with wine producers of high quality wines is enriching and important.  

I have had a deeper and more satisfying relationship with place and wine when I have kept an open mind and didn’t rely solely on typicity or even a prototype of what a variety should taste like.  When I have not been in a perfectionist mode on wine I have felt I was in a better place with wine and place.

I am seeking to taste Michicgan wines again and I am reaching out to producers for samples and I want to step foot on ground.  I find it freeing to get away from a city and meet people and producers of all regions: understand difference and those that unify as well  

Keep an open mind and ‘Say Yes to Michigan’ wines.



© 2023 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

#MichiganWine #Michigan #LakeMichiganShore #FennvilleAVA  #LeelanauPeninsulaAVA #OldMissionPeninsulaAVA #PinotNoir #Chardonnay

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Oregon Chardonnay and Pinot Noir On New York Restaurant Wine Lists

I was recently in Oregon judging wines for the McMinnville Wine Classic Competition and I had a subsequent post tour of Willamette Valley. 

Needless to say that Willamette Valley is devoted to Pinot Noir by 69% of all wine grapes planted.  Keep in mind that Oregon is growing 100 varieties in total and in addition to cool climate regions it also has warm climate AVAs like Rogue Valley, Umpqua Valley, Applegate Valley and The Rocks Districts of Milton-Freeman.  Pinot Gris is synonymous with Oregon and it is the largest produced white wine and Chardonnay is the number two white wine grape.

I have always wondered why Chardonnay is not the number one wine grape. I will be writing about Oregon Chardonnay in greater detail later.  Chardonnay has long been planted for some time in Oregon. The continuous rise has been due to optimum plant material.  While the New World is dominated by the Wente Clone it is not the optimum clonal material for Oregon.  Dijon Clone 95 and 96 are more suited to the Willamette Valley (and there are additional clones being implemented in Oregon).  While Wente Clone had been utilized in some Willamette Valley vineyards in past generations; the fruit produced was less than satisfactory.  Going back to the drawing board Oregon producers sought to implement the optimum plant material i.e. Dijon clones for it’s cooler climate.

Oregon Pinot Noir has been successful because of climate, terroir, clonal material and world class wine making capabilities.  The careful congress of choices has been made, and it shows with Pinot Noirs, the most anticipated world class wines produced from Oregon.  So too are the Chardonnay’s coming from Oregon—I have asked for so long ‘but what about Chardonnay’?!  I am getting the answer; it is a serious effort and the proof is in the wine glass.  An awesome variance of styles and expressions are being produced now–expressive, authentic and, in some producers, absolute delight, sophistication and elegance. 

New York is the US’s greatest wine market.  Outstanding wine collections, assortments and wine lists are not just the best in the US but amongst the best in the world.  I do look at wine lists carefully wherever I am and I do love a large wine list.   While it is not a testament of finally having arrived as a recognition point it is still an important nod.  Oregon Chardonnay is being discovered and being recognized; its recognition is slower than I would expect.  I have a friend who only drinks Chardonnay and no other wine variety (white or red); and he doesn’t have Oregon Chardonnay on his ‘must taste list’ (until now–I keep driving the point that Oregon Chardonnay’s are ready to taste and relish now).

In New York, and yes some wine lists are nearly exclusively French or Italian like Baltazar or Babbo (a few French wines mainly Champagne); I did look for lists that would include Oregon and California wines.  I looked for restaurants that have published lists and some restaurants that previously published a wine list like Eleven Madison Park no longer publish their list.

Wine lists are always going to feature French and Italian wines in often higher proportions than other wine producing countries.  Wine lists do show their personality of the establishment and also the wine director/Sommeliers – a large wine list is done over time and given the rarity of some wines it is assembled by several people.  I was curious to look at how many Oregon Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are listed as well as California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on lists (I knew right away Oregon would be in the minority position).  Also, what is the relationship of wines featured from Oregon and California on wine lists?  Firstly, it is a recognition that the selected wines deserved to be on the respective wine list and secondly it is the label itself but also the appellation.  Lists also show the wine director/Sommeliers palate as well.

Here are the New York restaurant wine lists I looked at:

Many of the above are well known restaurants and some newer and not-as-well known restaurants are in this mix.  I did expect to see both more Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from California and Oregon on restaurant lists in general but that is not what I found. Also, this search was not to pin one wine state against another but I did want to see what relationship that might exist between them (Oregon and California).

I did create these two charts below to review.  The red and blue lines (California and Oregon respectively) and the slightly transparent lines are trend lines. I used a trend line to show the difference between each state’s number of wines on respective wine lists.  This trend line does not show a difference in time.  The trend line does help to show a difference between Oregon and California wines on each restaurant’s wine list.  While it might seem like a large difference, Oregon Chardonnay is being represented nicely especially as many more Oregon producers have a Chardonnay than a generation ago.

Y-Axis Represents # Wines

Oregon and California Pinot Noir producers show a closer relationship between each wine state’s Pinot Noirs on respective wine lists.  Each wine state has quite a number of AVA/Sub-AVAs producing Pinot Noir.  This is a closer relationship between California and Oregon Pinot Noirs as there are a large number of AVA/Sub-AVAs between both states.  If I was an Oregon producer, I might see this in two ways – 1) achievement/recognition 2) growth and opportunity for more Oregon wines to be featured.

Y-Axis Represents # Wines

There is no perfect way to sort this chart for a better view – I did sort from low–to-high. Union Square Cafe has a lot of California Pinot Noir on their list and relatively few Oregon Pinot Noir.  The trend line is helpful in visually understanding of relationships.  Again, this trend line is the difference between Oregon and California Pinot Noir and does not represent a difference in time.  Oregon Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is not a competition with California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; I see them as offerings from each state.  I do think both can be represented and both have an opportunity to be increased over time in terms of wine list representation.  Now the selection of these wine categories is made by wine professionals and it is evident especially looking at Union Square Cafe. 

There is a room for increased assortment in wines from both Oregon and California for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on all wine lists.  I would urge a viewing of these and additional wine lists periodically; not even yearly but every other year to observe if there are changes.  Changes are slow insofar as change out of wine selection but also turn over of inventory and the opportunity to buy new vintages from producers familiar to producers new.

There will be changes and I don’t think it is an increase of “pie slice” but it is increasing the size of the pie itself i.e. increased coverage of both states wines on respective New York wine lists.  In all of the wines in the lists there is some predictability of wines selected but also a few good surprises.  Diversity is the future and that doesn’t mean turning backs on esteemed producers—that will not happen (and rightly so) but newer producers or yet to be selected producers will be featured.  My trip to Oregon verified Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as being world class once more amongst other wines being produced in the state.  I’m haunted by so many beautiful, dazzling and memorable experiences and wines from Oregon.

I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.  And a great New Year to you!



© 2023 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

#NewYorkWineLists #NewYork #Oregon #OregonWine #WillametteValley #PinotNoir #Chardonnay

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Wines of Uruguay Tasting

I have not tasted wines from Uruguay for quite some time; at least half a decade.  It was like riding a bicycle but for the palate to get back to this wine production nation-state that has worked hard to showcase it’s wines to the world. 

Some of my initial thoughts like many is Tannat and few whites. But to put this into to focus while Tannat is the largest product of red wines which represents 27% of production and yes white wine varieties exist such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier and Albariño amongst others.

Also, Uruguay is an Atlantic wine producing climate; as Mendoza is a continental-semi desert climate

The above shows the wine grape growing regions and I was surprised to learn that 83.4% is the Metropolitan region which is near the capital of Montevideo.

I did taste a good number of Tannat wines in addition to one blend which was Tannat, Merlot and Tempranillo and another wine that was Tannat domination with a small portion of Viognier. I wondered if this was a new way of producing Tannat but it was one producer who visioned this wine to existence.

There are many great foot pairings with Tannat – beef, lamb, spicy tomato vegetarian dishes, Salumi and hard cheeses.

Here are the wines I tasted:

Marichal Etchevarría Canelones Sauvignon Blanc 2022 – SRP $14
Nose: gooseberry, golden Kiwi, melon and mineral

Palate: Dried yellow citrus, Meyer lemon, fresh mild herbs and flowers

Bracco Bosca Ombú Atlantida Moscatel 2022 – SRP $16

Dry wine; nose of fresh yellow citrus and flowers

Palate: citrus zest, stone fruit, touch of mineral and flowers

Familia Deicas Bodegones del Sur Vineyards Select Cabernet Franc 2020 – SRP $20

Nose: Red fruit, Thyme, Tarragon

Palate: fresh red fruit, mix of dried and fresh herbs, white pepper

Giménez Méndez Alta Reserva Las Brujas, Canelones Tannat 2020 – SRP $18

Nose: fresh red fruit, simmering spices, evergreen forest and violets

Palate: lively acidity, red fruit, clove, abundantly savory and red floral

Montes Toscanini Gran Canelones Premium Tannat 2019 – SPR $59

Nose: red rose petal, blackberry, forest, violets

Palate: vivid acidity, red and black cherry, black pepper, tarragon and red floral

Pisano Reserva de la Familia Tannat 2018 – SRP $24

Nose: fresh red bramble, plum orchard floor, suede, and spice

Palate: awakened acidity, red cherry, white pepper and dried herbs

Alto de la Ballena Sierra de la Ballena Maldonado Tannat Viognier 2018 – SRP $24

Nose: Peaked red cherry, leathery-suedey, dried herbs and fresh red flowers

Palate: Fresh red cherry, raspberry, ground spices, and Thyme

Bouza Tannat Merlot Tempranillo Montevideo Monte Vide Eu 2019 – SRP $67
Bottle number 15755/15824

Nose; dark fruit, suede, freshly ground spices, hint of red floral

Palate: black cherry, clove, pepper, dried herbs, lively acidity

Basta Spirit Canelones Vermut Flores Rosé NV – $16

Nose: deeply herbaceous, rich red, flowers

Palate: red fruit, freshly crushed herbs and botanicals, ground spices

Wines and two above images courtesy of Uruguay Wine

© 2022 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Top 100 Wines of 2022

This is the 12th edition of top 100 annual wines. This is my most anticipated yearly article and receives the most hits upon publication and beyond. My point of difference is that this ranking doesn’t mean that the number “One” entry does not mean it is the wine of the year. Some publications do that and I say it makes no sense whatsoever. It is not realistic to measure and being able to rank the number one wine in the world. It is a slippery slope of nonsense. My list is simply in alphabetical order.

What does make sense is to rank wines and score them according to their merits. I like a more democratic way of scoring and being able to cull from the total tasting of one year to a top one hundred list. I do think that is possible. If I had to pick just one wine in my top 100 list as being the wine that I find to be the greatest wine in that year I couldn’t do that. The more one tastes in a given year the list is even more difficult to produce; but that is a good thing.

I also think it is strange to publish a top 100 list in August or September of any given year. I do think it takes most of the year to capture what you have tasted. I also look at tasting and ranking all wines from just released vintages to vintages old. This is a point-in-time for me to gratefully taste a unique set of wine that unto itself is a once in a lifetime experience. I long to go back in time for many reasons and this is the only way I can do so.

I get wines to sample throughout the year and I also look to attend tasting but there were many fewer in San Francisco. Tasting in my home base is that there were many fewer media and trade tastings as when compared to prior to Pandemic era. I am not sure media and trade tasting in San Francisco will ever be the same. I get the sense this might be the same across the US perhaps New York might see exactly the same tasting patterns prior to the pandemic. I am not optimistic for San Francisco.

I was extremely fortunate to put foot-on-ground in Italy and attend four Anteprima’s in Umbria: Montefalco, Orvieto, Trasimeno and Torgiano. Umbria is magical and I am captivated by history. Italy’s many regional cuisines are fascinating and Umbria is no exception. It is a landlocked region and emphasis is less on fish than other peninsula cuisines.

I was greeted by the Apennines, and the historical towns of Spoleto and Terni and both are on the ancient Roman Via Flaminia. On the 553, I was fascinated to see the town of Trevi on route to Montefalco. M ontefalco served as my base to attend the Anteprima Sagrantino and thus my reunion with the namesake grape – Sagrantino. While my list is overwhelmingly Italian–it is the place I tasted from the most. I was very fortunate to taste older vintages like Lungarotti Torgiano Rubesco Riserva Vigna Monticchio DOCG – ’74 – 97 Points and Lungarotti Rubesco Rosso di Torgiano DOC – ’81- 96 Points to name a few; these wines were created when the Iron Curtain was still operating.

I do urge you to travel to taste wines that you will not fid in the US or elsewhere. Italian wines in Italy will be a selection of older vintages, producers who don’t export to the US, rare varieties and much more. Tasting wines in Italy is exciting as well as pairing with the respective cuisines is something that cannot be exported as well. Yes, glad and grateful, we have Italian food products in the US but cuisine is all about place. Yes, there is Italian cuisine in the US but it is a distant replication of actual Italian cuisine.

I always look for opportunities to taste; I have my tasting roadmap I have each year which attempts to drive tastings from all wine countries/regions.

Look for opportunities to taste these wines!



James the Wine Guy Top 100 Wines of 2022

(click on underlined link to see video review)

1. Adanti Arquata Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’14 – 95 Points
2. Agricola Mervante Montefaclo Rosso DOC – ’19 – 93 Points
3. Antonelli San Marco “Chiusa di Pannone” Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’08 – 96 Points
4. Antonelli San Marco “Mollino dell’Attone” Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’16 – 95 Points
5. Antonelli San Marco Anteprima Tonda Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino DOC – ’19 – 94 Points
6. Antonelli San Marco Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG Passito – ’16 – 95 Points
7. Antonelli San Marco Trebium Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino DOC – ’18 – 94 Points
8. Arnaldo Caprai 25 Anni Montefaclo Sagrantino DOCG – ’18 – 95 Points
9. Arnaldo Caprai Grecante Colle Martini DOC Grechetto – ’21 – 93 Points
10. Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Rosso Vigna Flaminia-Maremmana Montefalco Rosso DOC – ’20 – 94 Points
11. Arnaldo Caprai Spinning Beauty Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’06 – 97 Points
12. Arnaldo Caprai Valdimaggio Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’18 – 95 Points
13. Bellenda Sei Uno Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Extra Brut Rive di Carpiseca – NV 95 Points
14. Beni di Batasiolo Barolo DOCG Bussia Vigneto Bofani – ’13 – 95 Points
15. Beni di Batasiolo Barolo DOCG Cerequio – ’13 – 94 Points
16. Beni di Batasiolo Barolo Riserva DOCG – ’12 – 96 Points
17. Beni di Batasiolo Gavi Del Comune di Gavi ’21 – 94 Point
18. Bocale Montefalco Rosso DOC Riserva – ’18 – 94 Points
19. Briziarelli Montefalco Rosso DOC Riserva – ’18 – 94 Points
20. Castelvecchio Carso DOC Vitovska ’20 94 Points
21. Champagne Launois “Cuvée Réservée” Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne NV 94 Points
22. Champagne Les Mesnil Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs NV 94 Points – Episode No. 3200
23. Cocco Montefalco Fontiola Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG Passito ’16 – 95 Points
24. Cocco Montefalco Phonsano Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG ’15 – 94 Points
25. Colle Ciocco Montefalco Rosso DOC – ’18 – 94 Points
26. Colpetrone Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG ’14 – 94 Points
27. Domaine Amirault Les Quarterons Crémant de Loire – NV – 94 Points
28. Domaine Carneros La Reve Carneros Blancs de Blanc 2015 98 Points
29. Domaine Michel Briday Crémant de Bourgogne NV 94 Points
30. Donnafugata Ben Ryé Passito di Pantelleria ’19 – 96 Poins
31. Donnafugata Mille e Una Notte Sicilia DOC Rosso ’18 96 Points
32. Donnafugata Sul Vulcano Etna Rosso DOC ’19 – 95 Points.
33. Duca della Corgna Divina Villa Trasimeno Gamay DOC – ’21 – 94 Points
34. Ducugnanano dei Barbi Mare Antico Orvieto Classico Superiore DOC – ’20 – 94 Points
35. Ducugnano dei Barbi Frammento Orvieto Classico DOC – ’20 – 93 Points
36. Fiddlehead Lollapalooza Sta Rita Hills Pinot Noir – ’14 – 95 Points
37. Gary Farrell Russian River Valley Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay – ’14 – 95 Points
38. Hartford Old Vine Zinfandel Highwire Vineyard Russian River Valley – ’19 – 94 Points
39. Il Molino di Grace Toscana Gratius IGT 2017 – 95 Points
40. Jeff Cohn Cellars St. Peter’s Church Vineyard Alexander Valley Zinfandel – ’19 – 94 Points
41. La Follette Heintz Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – ’19 – 95 Points
42. La Querciolaia Gamay di Boldrino Colli di Trasimeno DOC – ’19 – 93 Points
43. La Querciolaia Gamay Trasimeno DOCG Riserva ’19 – 94 Points
44. La Veneranda Montefalco Rosso DOC – ’20 – 94 Points
45. La Veneranda Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG -16 – 94 Points
46. Lapone L’Escluso Orvieto Classico Superiore – ’21 95 Points
47. Lapone Verdicchio Umbria IGT ’19 – 93 Points
48. Le Cimate Meliade Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino DOC Passito – ’18 – 93 Points
49. Le Thadee 128+ Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino – ’20 Prefillosera – 93 Points
50. Le Thadee Fijoa Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino DOC – ’21 – 94 Points
51. Luca di Tomaso Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’16 – 94 Points
52. Lungarotti Aurente Chardonnay di Torgiano DOC – ’18 – 94 Points
53. Lungarotti Rubesco Rosso di Torgiano DOC – ’00 – 95 Points
54. Lungarotti Rubesco Rosso di Torgiano DOC – ’09 – 95 Points
55. Lungarotti Rubesco Rosso di Torgiano DOC – ’79 – 95 Points
56. Lungarotti Rubesco Rosso di Torgiano DOC – ’81- 96 Points
57. Lungarotti Torgiano Rubesco Riserva Vigna Monticchio DOCG – ’74 – 97 Points
58, Lungarotti Torgiano Vin Santo DOC – ’10 – 95 Points
59. Marchese Antinori Orvieto Classico Superiore DOC ’21 – 94 Points
60. Perticaia Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’03 – 96 Points
61. Revi Trentodoc Dossagio Zero Millesimato 2021 – 94 Points
62. Rocca delle Macie Campoaccionne Vermentino Maremma Toscana DOC – ’21 – 94 Points
63. Rocca delle Macie Sergio Zingarelli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG – ’16 – 95 Points
64. Rockwall Russian River Valley Alegria Vineyard Zinfandel ’17 95 Points
65. Romanelli Capo di Casa Montefalco Rosso DOC – ’19 – 94 Points
66. Romanelli Medeo Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’16 – 95 Points
67. Romanelli Terra di Cupa Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’10 – 95 Points
68. Rombauer Twin River El Dorado Zinfandel – ’19 – 95 Points
69. Scacciadiavoli Rose Vino Spumante Bruto Methodo Classico – NV – 94 Points
70. Scacciadiavoli Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino DOC – ’20 – 94 Points
71. Sciacciadiavoli Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’16 – 94 Points
72. Seghesio Cortina Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel – ’19 – 94 Points
73. Smith-Madrone SMD Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ’19 95 Points
74. Tabarrini Campo alla Cerqua Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’16 – 94 Points
75. Tabarrini Colle Grimaldesco Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’02 – 96 Points
76. Tabarrini Grimaldesco Montefalco Sagrantino – ’02 – 96 Points
77. Tabarrini Grimaldesco Montefalco Sagrantino – ’05 – 95 Points
78. Tenuta Alzatura Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’15 – 95 Points
79. Tenuta Bellafonte Collenottolo Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’15 – 95 Points
80. Tenuta Castelbuono Lunelli Carapace Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’16 – 95 Points
81. Tenuta Castelbuono Lunelli Lampante Montefalco Rosso DOC Riserva – ’18 – 96 Points
82. Tenuta di Saragano Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG -’16 – 94 Points
83. Tenute Baldo Montefalco Rosso DOC Riserva – ’16 – 94 Points
84. Tenute Baldo Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’15 – 94 Points
85. Tenute Baldo Preda del Falco Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’15 – 94 Points
86. Tenute Baldo Spirito Della Vite Torgiano Rosso Riserva DOCG – ’16 – 95 Points
87. Tenute Baldo Rosa Ancestrale Vino Rosato Spumante – ’21 – 94 Points
88. Terre de La Custodia Exubera Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’16 – 95 Points
89. Terre de La Custodia Montefalco Rosso Riserva DOC – ’16 – 94 Points
90. Terre di Trinci Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG – ’98 – 96 Points
91. Terre di Trinci Ugolino Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’16 – 95 Points
92. Terre Margaritelli Bianco di Torgiano DOC – ’21 – 93 Points
93. Terre Margaritelli Freccia degli Scacchi Torgiano Rosso Riserva – ’16 – 94 Points
94. Terre Margaritelli Pictoricius Torgiano Rosso Riserva DOCG – ’18 – 95 Points
95 Terre Margaritelli Thadea Vino Spumante Rosato Brut Biologico NV – 93 Points
96. Terre di San Felice Montefalco Rosso DOC Riserva – ’18 – 94 Points
97. Tudernum Fidenzio Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’15 – 94 Points
98. Valdangius Angelina Sagratino DOCG Passitio – ’16 – 95 Points
99. Valdangius Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG – ’14 – 95 Points
100. Valdangius Campo di Pico Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino DOC – ’21 – 94 Points

Past Top 100 Posting

2021 Top 100 Wines

2020 Top 100 Wines

2019 Top 100 Wines

© 2022 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Crémants of France – A Sparkling Wine Opportunity for Tasting Regional Expressions

I cannot say enough positive words for the Crémants of France. I do think there is much that has been mystified or at last misunderstood about these wines. 

I was re-reminded when I visited a club warehouse recently and found that the wine assortment didn’t even contain one Crémant.  While it could be argued that a club warehouse cannot carry everything; I do think there is a great opportunity to carry a few Crémant in any assortment.  My bigger callout is that when a wine category is missing it does intentionally or unintentionally carry a connotation that the whole wine categories are not worthy for that retailer and consumer.  This particular retailer had no Cava and no domestic or new world sparkling wines either. Club warehouses good and bad anoint wines that are worthy of being sold i.e. what is “in” and not selling what isn’t. I do think some consumers do read what is at a club warehouse and buys accordingly and have future viewpoints directed for them.

I have said countless times for wine consumers to keep an open mind and make their own mind up on what wines are appealing for them. Also to diversify where they buy wines from–not just one online retailer with a one year flat fee shipping or to not just buying at a club warehouse but a wide spectrum of wine buying options.

Crémants of France are a fantastic intersection of tasting delightful bubbles often at very reasonable price points and encompassing a regional expression  Firstly, the Crémants are not trying to replace or even compete against Champagne. Crémant is further misunderstood by the name–firstly Crémant has been misunderstood to be a level of atmosphere of pressure lower than Champagne (Champagne Crémant 2–3 atmospheres instead of 5–6 for Non Crémant Champagne).  While there has been a very rare style in Champagne to denote this it has hardly been the mainstay of Champagne ever.  I do not know of any producers who are producing this style of wine now. Also, today’s Crémant will be in line with Champagne regardless of region in terms of atmosphere of pressure.

I read an article online that noted that Champagne GH Mumm had a Crémant – I am not aware of a Mumm producing a Crémant rather they have produced a Blanc de Blancs wine from Cramant which is a Grand Cru Villages in the Côte des Blancs.

There are a few California producer that use the term Crémant to denote a very specific style – Demi-Sec. This is problematic for the Crémants of France as an US consumer might assume Crémant from France is to mean sweet sparkling wine. Crémant de France follows the Brut scale and does not just produce sweet wines but most of the wines are dry. I don’t know why some US producer feel the need to use the term “Crémant” when they could use the term Demi-Sec or other Brut scale terms. It is a bad practice and harkens back to California producers of yesteryear using the words of Burgundy or Champagne for wines that are not specifically from those regions.

The focus of this article are the eight Crémant in France and there are two other European regions that use the term in the E.U. in Belgium and Luxembourg which I would like to highlight once I get more experience with those wines.

The eight regions of Crémant are generally named after major wine regions with the exception Crémant de Die.

I’ll highlight each Crémant with baseline information such as allowed varieties and other information. I’ll start with the first regions and progressing to the latest elevated regions. I’ll also make some wine suggestion of wines that I have tasted and or the most part are all available in the US. The only exception is the Crémant de Die which I have not found any in the US at this time.

If you have not tasted a Crémant before be sure to try some by the glass at a restaurant. I have seen many more Crémant on wine lists more than ever. One part is economics but more importantly is that these wines are delicious and delightful and deserved to be poured.

Sparkling wines in general for Americans have been associated with celebratory occasions only. The British have historically imported Champagne on nearly the same level of the US but the population is 5x smaller. The British don’t just consume just Champagne but also Crémant, Cava and Prosecco. The British have made sparkling wine something to enjoy beyond a special occasion.

The US imported 34 mm bottles of Champagne in 2021 up from 21 mm in 2020 (this does show that US consumers only view sparkling wine as for special occasions only). But the growth in 2021 might show a slight change.

While the total number of bottles produced by the Crémant de France is 83.6 mm bottles (2018) – I don’t see a more updated number from the Crémant trade organization: Fédération Nationale des Producteurs et Élaborateurs de Crémant. While the aggregate production might seem large it is divided by 8 Crémant regions. Also, note that Champagne produces approximately 290 mm bottles per year; Prosecco produces half a billion and Cava produces 245 mm per year. I don’t have a figure for US import of Crémant but I do have an estimate based on total export percentage listed in slides and assuming a US a prominent number of import hence my estimate is 6 mm bottles.

I do think that consumers still feel judgement about enjoying sparkling wine too often. Still a very judgy view of wine, beer and spirits but some potential progress of enjoying sparkling wine more often will happen. I too feel that and this is from my off-premise wine marketing work (at a wine retailer with locations in 30 states) that people feel a sense of judgement from family and friends when someone brings a sparkling wine to a dinner or get together.

I do think the most complementary relationship with wine is buying what is most pleasing to you. I don’t worry when I gift someone a Crémant thinking I should only buy from another wine region. I buy intentionally and hoping to get more people to enjoy a wider set of wines.

I love Crémant and the regional wines that confidently reflect a regions grapes. I have also found very sophisticated and modern producers. Producers are coming from a diverse set of experiences and philosophies. I have tasted wine reflecting biodynamic, organic and vegan practices that reflect sensitivity and relevancy of product.

Crémant producers aren’t just trying to produce a category of wine but many if not most are producing wines they are proud of and hope to spread the great tastes of Crémant. Open up a bottle of sparkling wine once weekly; that is what I do.

Enjoy – A Votre Santé,


© 2022 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

#Crémant #SparklingWine

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