Domestic Wine: 2012 Hedges Family Estate C.M.S., Columbia Valley, Washington
Hedges Family Estate: The history of Hedges Family Estate begins in June of 1976, with the marriage of Tom Hedges & Anne-Marie Liégeois in a 12th century church in Champagne, France. The convergence of separate cultural upbringings provides a strong backdrop for creating a modern day, but traditionally inspired wine estate. In 1986, Tom & Anne-Marie created an export company, American Wine Trade, leading to a negociant-inspired wine called “Hedges Cellars.” They quickly learned that the success of this ancient trade would be based on the site of its vineyards; a developing wine region called Red Mountain. At this location, American Wine Trade transformed itself from negociant & wine trader to the classic model of a wine estate. The second generation of the Hedges Family Estate belongs to Tom & Anne-Marie’s children, Christophe & Sarah. Each has a special set of skills for understanding the terroir. Sarah is the head winemaker of the estate, doing her best to express the terroir with minimal intervention, while Christophe is working on the completion of the estate using modern biodynamic arts. Tom, Anne-Marie, Christophe, Sarah, & the entire Hedges company believe place of origin is the keystone of authenticity. Their goal is to treat the wines with reverence & let the Red Mountain terroir speak for itself.
About: 2012 was another excellent & more normal vintage in Washington State. The “fading” La Nina current brought warmer & even spring and summer temperatures & an extended warm, dry autumn with perfect 80-85 degree afternoon highs and 40-50 degree lows without rain. The result was great set that yielded ripe, disease free fruit with good natural acidity. The resulting wines reflect the excellent qualities of the fruit and are a pleasure to drink; probably one of the top 5 vintages in Washington State’s history.
Varietals: 50%Cabernet Sauvignon, 44%Merlot, 6% Syrah (60%French Oak & 40% American Oak).
Tasting Notes: Dark, deep ruby color leads into a nose of black cherry, blackberry, plum fruit & sweet toasted oak, dried herbs, & vanilla with hints of cocoa powder. Good body on the palate with lively acidity, dark berry fruits, cocoa, sweetness, & a well integrated tannic structure linger on the finish.
Food Pairings: The balance of acid & tannin make this a great wine for roasted red meats, steaks, venison, or lamb. Use C.M.S. to sauté some onions & mushrooms to accompany a juicy ribeye!
Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: Rich & flavorful, loaded with black & red fruits and a long, lingering finish. Best served with any red meats.
Peachy Canyon Winery is a small family owned winery in the beautiful wine country of Westside Paso Robles on the Central Coast of California; near Hearst Castle and Big Sur. Peachy Canyon Winery specializes in estate Zinfandels and has been family owned and operated by the Beckett Family since 1988.
Made in a traditional style, this Zinfandel originates from dense, ripe grapes offering an array of delicious characteristics. A bright and pleasing wine, every glass is packed full of berry flavors and lanced with lightly toasted oak and mild spice aromas.
History of Peachy Canyon: When Doug and Nancy Beckett, a couple of school teachers looking for a better life, moved to Paso Robles in 1982 with their two sons, Joshua and Jacob, they never knew the life they would lead today. The label’s start came in 1988, thanks to a load of Zinfandel grapes from Benito Dusi’s vineyard. Though only amounting to a couple hundred cases, the premiere release centered the label’s reputation for premium red wines.
Today, the Beckett’s brand has become nationally distributed in 49 states and select international destinations. In order to secure premium fruit, Peachy Canyon sources grapes from over twenty local growers in the Paso Robles AVA and 100 acres of their own vineyards. The winery is still headed by founding vintners Doug and Nancy, as well as the family’s second generation. After years away from home, both Josh and Jake returned to Paso Robles and Peachy Canyon to work for the family business. Josh has been with the winery for nine years and has been the winemaker since 2003. Combining his varied experiences with different winemakers and regions, Josh keeps an open mind in order to create the most exciting wines possible. Jake wasn’t able to resist the lure of the family business either. For years, Jake worked as the vineyard manager over-seeing the four Peachy Canyon Vineyards and working with local growers to ensure fruit quality is kept at their high standard. In 2005, Jake wanted to learn other aspects of the business and joined the sales team. Jake now is the General Sales Manager and travels the country promoting the family brand.
Varietal(s): 90% Zinfandel and 10% Petite Sirah
Alcohol: 14.1% by volume
Food Pairings: Perfect for any occasion! Enjoy this bottle with or without food, but pairs perfectly with rich bold flavors. Try with grilled meats, savory stew, etc. Enjoy!
Tasting Notes: Bright, luscious and fruit-forward, the fan-favorite Incredible Red Zinfandel bursts out of the glass with a rich cherry nose, and develops into red summer fruits on the palate. Balanced acidity and structure and subtle notes of leather finish with spicy oak and mocha in a lingering finish.
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Ripe and loaded with berries and spicy fruit with a long deep finish. Great with BBQ and other grilled meats. I know this is a sure winner! Peachy Canyon has always been a favorite of mine, and I’m sure it will be a favorite of yours too!”-JL
Pietra Santa and its History: “Pietra Santa is a family-run estate producing artisanal wines and olive oils in California’s Central Coast. The site was planted to winegrapes in the 1850s by Frenchman Theophile Vache who chose the location because of the maritime climate and unique soils.
Pietra Santa is 25 miles from Monterey Bay and benefits from cool coastal breezes that allow for a long growing season. The estate’s location on the San Andreas Fault creates soils rich with granite and limestone that naturally lower yields and add distinctive flavors to the wines. The winery was named PIETRA SANTA, Italian for SACRED STONE, in honor of these exceptional soils.
In 2005, the property was purchased by the Blackburns, a family dedicated to preserving and building upon this magnificent winemaking history.”-pietrasantawinery.com
The Estate: “Due to the mountainous terrain, only 120 of the estate’s 450 acres are planted with wine grapes. An additional 25 acres are planted with olive trees. The oldest vines consist of a treasured block of Zinfandel planted in 1905. Completed in 2000, the Mission-Style Winery was designed for fine winemaking combining traditional methods and state-of-the-art technology. The winery also hosts a FRANTOIO (olive oil press room) equipped with a Pieralisi Press imported from Tuscany.”-pietrasantawinery.com
Vineyards/Winemaking: “Our Pinot Noir comes from vines that are planted in the upper valley of our estate at an elevation of approximately 1100 feet. The grapes benefit from a maritime climate and ideal soils for growing expressive Pinot Noir. The vineyard was planted with three Dijon clones – #115, #828, and #777 – to create the optimal flavor profile for our estate Pinot Noir.”-pietrasantinery.com
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Alcohol: 14.5% by volume
Food Pairings: Great with spring chicken, slow cooked pork shoulder, pan seared duck breasts, and shaved raw asparagus with fennel. Enjoy.
Tasting Notes: Their Estate Pinot Noir is an ideal reflection of their terroir, renowned for growing this finicky varietal. This wine has a beautiful bouquet of subtle lavender and elegant fruit flavors of wild strawberries and raspberries with hints of cola. The wine finishes with white pepper and an earthiness that is synonymous with the Cienega Valley.
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Real Pinot here. A wine that is loaded with rhubarb and raspberries, and ends with a long clean lingering finish. A true overachiever. Best served with duck, oily finish and any game!”-JL
Esporão, one of Portugal’s top wine and olive oil producers, enjoys an international presence for their comprehensive series of wines and delectable olive oil offerings. A family-owned and family-run corporation, Esporão also happens to be the largest privately held wine company in Portugal. Founded in 1973 by Jose Roquette and currently led by Jose’s son, João Roquette, the youngest of six children and a man with avant-garde vision, Esporão brings a balanced blend of tradition and foresight, convention and innovation to their wine making practices and ultimately to the lofty lineup of Esporão wines.
Esporão’s Alentejo estate is of equal intrigue for both the history buff as well as the full-fledged oenophile. With the estate’s original boundaries dating back to 1267, a medieval tower and chapel from the 15th and 16th centuries respectively and a detailed archaeological dig (with museum) of a pre-historic settlement that existed on the property some 5,000 years ago, it’s no wonder that the land is nationally recognized for its historical importance. Yet, with an eye to the future the estate is also home to a 20 acre research project that cultivates 188 grape varieties to determine best bets for sustainability.
Esporão Wine Regions: With one of the largest holdings in Portugal’s Alentejo wine region, Esporão has invested considerable capital in its almost 4,000 acres of land in Alentejo and close to an additional 400 acres in a relatively new vineyard project in the country’s northwest Douro region (historically well-known for producing the world’s most famous Ports and more recently for gaining ground for the notable red wines coming out of the region). Producing 10 million liters of wine annually, with roughly 75% of their production falling into the red wine category and nearly 25% under the white wine headlines, Esporão has been on a trajectory of growth since the mid-80s. This growth continues with current expansion projects that include winery upgrades, modernization and renovation, as well as restaurant and tasting room developments. Whether the draw is wine, history, archaeology, sheer gastronomy or stellar cellar tours, Herdade do Esporão is one of Alentejo’s most worthwhile stops for wine tourism.
Varietal: Aragonês, Trincadeira, Touriga Nacional, Syrah
Alcohol: 14.0% by volume
Tasting Notes: Clear deep ruby color, with berry fruit aromas and some complex subtle toasty notes. Elegant on the palate with good depth of fruit and a fine tannic structure.
Food Pairings: Great with chorizo or other full-flavored sausage on the grill. Try with BBQ as well! Enjoy!
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Big and bold, and loaded with concentration. Full flavor with lots of cherry and blackberry. Best served with big meats on the grill.”-JL
“Founded in 1970, in Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley, Ponzi Vineyards is internationally acclaimed for producing some of the world’s finest Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and White Riesling, as well as Arneis and Dolcetto, two rare Italian varietals.
Ponzi Vineyards continues to set the standard for Oregon’s viticultural innovation while maintaining an unwavering commitment to a tradition of winemaking excellence. For more than two decades, this philosophy has been carried on by the Ponzi Family’s second generation: Winemaker Luisa Ponzi and Director of Sales and Marketing Maria Ponzi.
All 120 acres of family-owned vineyards and the state-of-the-art winery are LIVE Certified Sustainable, the world’s highest standard for sustainable viticulture and enology. Driven by the concept that the variety must match the terroir and climate, Ponzi Vineyards continues to set the bar for Oregon and remains at the forefront of the nation’s top wine producers.”-ponziwines.com
Vineyard Details: The 2012 Pinot Gris is produced from certified sustainable Ponzi Aurora, Avellana and Estate vineyards, as well as the Linda Vista, Gemini, Dion, Walnut Ridge, Ridge Road, Kraemer and Zenith vineyards.
Vintage Report: On the heels of the late cool 2010 and 2011 vintage; 2012 was a welcome sight! Although the season started with a wet and long spring weather, the summer brought dry and warm conditions. From July through mid-October, there were only trace amounts of precipitation. Days were warm, but nights stayed cool giving us beautiful ripeness and sugar, but maintaining bright acidity. Crops were low, due to the wet spring, causing the intensity of flavor to be increased. 2012 is being hailed as an “epic” vintage in Oregon wine history and the wines are proving that to be true.
Varietal: 100% Pinot Gris
Alcohol: 13.2% by volume
Tasting Notes: Island aromas of guava, passion fruit, pineapple and vanilla precede a lively mouth of kumquat, kiwi, candied key lime and hibiscus blossom. The sweet fruit is complemented by a zing of bright acidity with hints of white pepper on the finish. Luisa Ponzi, Winemaker
“Fresh and lively, with a distinct ginger root character weaving through the lime and pear fruit, finishing with snap and expression. Drink now.”-90 Points, Wine Spectator
Food Pairings: Go fresh. Pinot Gris with its zesty and refreshing acidity pairs really well with fresh vegetables, raw fish and lighter meals. Fish and shellfish are classic pairing partners with Pinot Gris.
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “The fruit jumps out of the glass. White peaches, citrus, lime and lemon flavor; rounded with pineapple and mango as well. A great wine to welcome Spring. Drink and enjoy with food. It is like sunshine in the glass.”-JL
Franco Serra is made by the Sperone family who has produced affordable, premium wines for four generations. In 1920, Antonia Sperone opened a small wine shop in Torino where he sold bulk wine directly to consumers. Unsatisfied with price and quality of the local wine, Antonio started his own winery in Puglia where land was inexpensive and produced good wine. He built a bottling facility in Torino and was soon able to offer his customers quality wines at prices everyone can afford. Sadly, it was destroyed when the city was bombed in WWII. The winery in Puglia survived the war and enabled Antonio’s grandson Giacomo to open a new facility near Milan where he produced vermouth, sparkling wines, spirits, and fine wines.
With the help of his sons Paolo and Antonio, the company grew quickly and achieved distribution throughout Italy and expanded into foreign markets. In 1965, the family purchased 75 acres of prime vineyards in Piedmont and built a new winery in Monferrato. Even as the prices fetched for wines from this increasingly fashionable region continue to climb, the Sperone family proudly focuses on value. The Franco Serra line provides everyone with the opportunity to drink thoughtfully crafted, distinctive wines from Italy’s most renowned region.
A Little About Dolcetto: Dolcetto is a black Italian wine grape variety widely grown in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The Italian word dolcetto means “little sweet one”, but it is not certain that the name originally carried any reference to the grape’s sugar levels: it is possible that it derives from the name of the hills where the vine is cultivated. In any case the wines produced are nearly always dry. They can be tannic and fruity with moderate or decidedly low levels of acidity, and are typically meant to be consumed one to two years after release.
Varietal: 100% Dolcetto
Alcohol: 13.0% by volume
Tasting Notes: Ruby red color tending towards purple. The nose is pleasing and distinctive, light floral, red fruit aromas with hints of smoke. Soft with cranberry and raspberry fruit in the mouth with a touch of tobacco. Light to medium bodied with moderate acidity.
Food Pairings: A great food wine. Ideal with meats, vegetables, ravioli and risotto, to name a few.
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Layers of flavor here…ripe berries along with earthy mushroom notes. Great to serve with pork or lamb, or anything off the grill. Dolcetto is a unique grape, and I feel this wine really shows you how good it can be! Enjoy!”-JL
“When Dr. Robert Pamplin, one of Oregon’s most forward-thinking philanthropists and businessmen, purchased the historic Chateau Benoit Winery in 1999, his vision was to create wines of the highest quality to reflect his passion for excellence. To this end Dr. Pamplin has charged winemaker Thomas Houseman and winegrower Jason Tosch with the task of crafting extraordinary pinot noir. Thomas, Jason, and the rest of the crew are absolutely passionate about producing wines of the finest quality and have dedicated their lives to this quest.
Pinot reigns supreme at Anne Amie Vineyards with Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc forming the heart of our production. Complementing the pinot family is Old-Vine Estate Riesling and Müller Thurgau, planted in 1979. As with all great wines, our’s start in the vineyards. We are fortunate to have some of Oregon’s best sites, all of which are Salmon Safe and LIVE certified. Our estate vineyards, along with those we purchase from, receive only the minimal required treatments and yields are dramatically reduced in order to give fruit with great depth and complexity.”-anneamie.com
The name Amrita comes from the Buddhist equivalent of ambrosia, or a wine of the gods. Our Amrita is a unique inspiration each harvest, crafted from different varieties to be an irresistible, lightly effervescent, fruit-forward wine. It makes a delightful aperitif and is our favorite match with Pan-Asian foods.
Vintage Description: After two vintages with some of the coolest temperatures on record, 2012 presented us with warm, consistent weather. It is amazing what 100 plus days without rain will do! A cool spring and rain during flowering led to small clusters, less than 50% of normal size. On the white wine side, we have wines with wonderful fruit concentration and acidity. The dream vintage combination of a low natural crop load, a warm dry summer, minimal disease pressure, and perfectly ripened fruit came true, with only one downside, there is not enough wine.
Varietals: 26.3% Viognier, 24.1% Riesling, 15.7% Pinot Blanc, 14.3% Chardonnay, 9.2% Müller-Thurgau, 8.1% Pinot Gris and 2.3% Gewurtztraminer
Alcohol: 13.50% by volume
Tasting Notes: Aromas of quince, rose petal, confectionary sugar, passion fruit, and gooseberries. Flavors of white peach, strawberry, key lime, golden raspberry, and kumquats. The wine finishes with great spice and minerality.
Food Pairings: Pair this awesome white with shrimp and grits, Thai food, crab cakes, Carolina BBQ, salad rolls and fried chicken!
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Welcome in Spring with a lively and aromatic over achieving White! This wine is loaded with flavors of fresh cut pears, minerality and citrus. What a wine! Great with salads and soups! Enjoy!”-JL
“At Grochau Cellars, we come to wine as appreciators first, explorers second and creators third. We try to always remember that balance. Drawing inspiration from the landscape around us, and the classic, nuanced wines of France and Spain, we craft the kind of wines we hope to drink at the end of the day: pure, honest and delicious.
Established in 2002, Grochau Cellars is anchored to our Oregon homeland, and we approach each vintage with the same goals: Create complex, genuine wines true to their origins and to the distinct flavors of Oregon.” -grochaucellars.com
Origins of Grochau Cellars: Grochau Cellars is the project and passion of John Grochau, and his wife Kerri. John has been fortunate enough to learn the trade from some of the Willamette Valley’s finest winemakers. From the pioneering cellars and large-scale work of Erath Winery to four years as Doug Tunnel’s assistant at the esteemed Brick House Wines, John has logged the numerous hours of careful attention, expert advice and forklift skills necessary to risk his own money on his own undertaking.
John grew up in Portland, and watched his backyard evolve into a world-class wine area. After years of selling wine at some of Portland’s finest restaurants, including a 13-year stint at Higgins, it was John’s desire to learn the craft behind the wines we loved, and to try and approach the process of making wine with the same blend of curiosity, respect and excitement that we feel when drinking it.
Varietals: 100% Pinot Noir
Alcohol: 13.6% by volume
Tasting Notes: This wine is all about the bright fresh purity of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir! They age the wine 7.5 months on it’s lees and rack it directly to tank just prior to bottling. Only 15% new French Oak is used in this wine. The remaining 85% of the barrels were used at least twice before. Bright and juicy with sweet spice, earth and loads of red and black raspberry fruit. This is a wine for early consumption but will easily age a few years too.
Food Pairings: Pinot is one of the most food friendly grapes around. This wine is great with seafood and meat. The ultimate pairing with lighter foods, adding elegance and great acidity!
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “A real Pinot Noir with flavors of rhubarb and cherry. Loaded with great mouth feel, with a long lingering finish. It is a fantastic wine for the money. In my opinion, one of the best values coming out of Willamette. Great with seared salmon or heavier fishes.”-JL
Bonny Doon Vineyard is a winery based in the city of Santa Cruz in the central coast of California. It was started by Randall Grahm in 1983. Bonny Doon was amongst the first Californian wineries to embrace Rhone varietals, giving Randall Grahm the nickname “The Rhone Ranger“. The winery is known for its untraditional labels, including illustrations by Ralph Steadman, Bascove, Grady McFerrin, and Gary Taxali. In recent years, the winery has embraced some slightly obscure Italian varieties, screwcaps, and biodynamic production.
History of Claret at Bonny Doon: Some cautionary words: Bonny Doon Vineyard is, as we all know or should know, a strictly cabernet-free zone, at least it has been for the last twenty-eight years. The last “Claret” produced at Bonny Doon Vineyard was in 1985 from grapes grown at their late Estate in the eponymous hamlet of Bonny Doon. It was a blend of approximately equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec, and against all expectation, it was actually pretty damn good. Randall Grahm, owner and winemaker, has expressed opprobrium, occasionally bordering on amused disdain, for this popular grape variety. They are not really at liberty to say how Bonny Doon Vineyard has come to be entrusted with the distribution of a wine made from such improbably alien grape varieties, but suffice to say that the deal was doon grudgingly and harumphingly.
Varietals: 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Petit Verdot, 8% Tannat, 1% Petite Sirah
Alcohol: 13.2% by volume
Tasting Notes: So, with these caveats listed above, the sentiment at Bonny Doon Vineyard is that if you ever were to drink a cabernet-based blend, this would be one that would serve quite well. It is lean, neither overly alcoholic (weighing in at 13%), nor overly extracted; it is precisely as one would imagine ‘A Proper Claret’ to be. The wine contains a substantial dollop of petit verdot (22%), which adds a silky note of violets and textural elegance, in precision counterpoint to the lead-in-the-pencil firmness offered by the inclusion of the manly tannat (8%). There is a lovely suggestion of cedar and mint, in the nose. The wine has medium tannins, nice acidity, and finishes cleanly.
Food Pairings: Proper (British) mutton, proper leg of lamb, (ideally served with proper Yorkshire pudding).
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Rich and vibrant! Loaded with flavors of hickory, cedar, and smoke. Gorgeous weight on the palate, with a long and elegant finish. The unique blend is a trademark of Bonny Doon. This is a new wine for us at FWS, and I am happy to share it with you. Enjoy!”-JL
Elizabeth Spencer’s belief is that wine should be delicious and representative of its appellation of origin. They make wines to drink — inviting wines that we and our friends (and by extension, our customers) truly enjoy. The model for all of the Elizabeth Spencer wines is intensity without excess weight, purity, persistence and length.
History of Sauvignon Blanc and its Relation to Elizabeth Spencer: Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape variety that originates from the Bordeaux region of France. The grape most likely gets its name from the French words sauvage (“wild”) and blanc (“white”) due to its early origins as an indigenous grape in South West France. It is possibly a descendant of savagnin. Sauvignon Blanc is planted in many of the world’s wine regions (including Mendocino), producing a crisp, and refreshing white varietal wine. The grape is also component of the famous dessert wines from Sauternes and Barsac. Sauvignon Blanc is widely cultivated in France, Chile, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Moldova, and California. Some California Sauvignon Blancs are also called “Fume Blanc”, though this is often perceived to be a different type of wine.
Depending on the climate, the flavor can range from aggressively grassy to sweetly tropical. Wine experts have used the phrase “crisp, elegant, and fresh” as a favorable description of Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley, New Zealand, and sometimes, California.
Varietals: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Alcohol: 14.0% by volume
Tasting Notes: “Hay and quince and a touch of Sugar Snap pea on the nose. These fresh qualities are countered by delicate honeysuckle and apple, with a crisp finish of citrus fruit and a smidgen of cut grass. A fresh, crisp Sauvignon Blanc with a vibrant intensity that is well-balanced with good acidity and a lively, refreshing finish.”-Spencer Graham, Winemaker
Food Pairings: This wine pairs well fish, cheese, particulary Chèvre, and salads.
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “What a wine! Loaded with apples, pink grapefruit, and a honeyed dry finish. This is a stunner! A very pleasant white wine for this time of year. One of the best domestic Sauvignon Blancs I have ever drank. It is lip smacking good!”-JL