Louis Roederer Launches Single-Vineyard Still Wines

Champagne house Louis Roederer has launched a pair of single-vineyard Coteaux Champenois wines, known collectively as ‘Hommage a Camille’.

Named after Camille Olry-Roederer, the great-grandmother of the house’s current CEO, Frederic Rouzaud, the wines are single-site, varietal Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The Pinot Noir is made from a plot of 43 ‘ares’ (100 ares to a hectare) in the ‘Charmont’ lieu-dit in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, while the Chardonnay is from an old 55-ares plot in the ‘Volibarts’ lieu-dit in Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger.

The Pinot Noir is known as ‘Camille Charmont’ and the Chardonnay known as ‘Camille Volibarts’ are from the 2018 vintage.

The house said in a statement that both wines are the result of, “a long process of observation and experimentation”, which reveals, “another facet of the Champagne terroirs”. The house’s cellar master, Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, has been experimenting with still wines since at least 2002.

Camille Olry-Roederer took over the running of the Roederer company after the death of her husband Léon in 1932. She remained in charge until 1975 and was known to be especially fond of the house’s still wines.

The wines will be released in March, with the Pinot Noir priced at €160 (£155) and the Chardonnay at €140 (£130). Production figures are low: 1,631 bottles of the Pinot and 2,880 of the Chardonnay.

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The World of Pinot Noir announces March 2021 will be ‘WOPN Wine Month’ 

This year, the largest annual gathering of Pinot Noir producers and fans is going virtual it’s going to be bigger and longer.

During the month of March every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday will feature a series of virtual tasting seminars, events, auctions, and winemaker happy hours via Zoom, Instagram Live and Facebook Live.

“Each year, our 3,000-plus attendees often say they’d love even more content and more opportunities for intimate experiences with winemakers,” says Laura Booras, president of the World of Pinot Noir Board of Directors. “This year, we actually have an opportunity to grow those opportunities.”

New this year is the “WOPN Wine Case Experience.” Each guest will receive a carefully selected case of hard-to-find pinot noirs handpicked by our esteemed World of Pinot Sommelier Team. Then, each Wednesday (beginning March 3), David Glancy, Master Sommelier and Founder of the San Francisco Wine School, will host an exclusive winemaker seminar and discussion featuring three of the 12 wines.

Every Thursday (beginning March 4), WOPN will present a different deep-dive tasting seminar. These winemaker panel discussions will feature esteemed personalities in the winemaking community and delve into sites such as Bien Nacido, the terroirs of the Santa Lucia Highlands and explore the rugged elegance of the Sonoma Coast. Each tasting seminar will feature a collection of wines for purchase.

In addition to the eight tasting seminars, WOPN will host a series of free live Facebook and Instagram winemaker discussions and Happy Hours every Wednesday at noon (PST) and Friday at 5 p.m. (PST), respectively.

WOPN’s popular annual silent auction also goes virtual. Bid throughout the month on large-format bottles, exclusive library wines, and one-of-a-kind experiences from scores of producers from around the world.

For further information please visit the World of Pinot Noir website

Seven Oregon Pinot Noirs Make Wine Spectator’s Top 100 List

Wine Spectator’s Annual Report names 100 of the best, most interesting wines in the world, with seven made in Oregon

Around this time every year since 1988, Wine Spectator gathers the best of the best wines its editors have tasted throughout the year, bestowing their favorite, most excellent wines made in or imported into the U.S. with a spot on the highly coveted “Top 100 list.” Oregon wines are often overrepresented on this prestigious list, garnering around five or six spots annually, or 5 or 6%, which is no small feat considering that Oregon accounts for far less than 1% of global wine production.

But in 2020, the number of Oregon wines set a new record in Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list with seven Oregon Pinot noirs earning their way on to this list. Put another way, this means 7% of the most exciting wines in the entire world are made in Oregon.

How hard is it to get onto Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list?
The magazine receives about 11,000 wines each year for evaluation, so the odds of getting on this list are more than 100 to 1.

According to Wine Spectator, “Our selection prioritizes quality (based on score), value (based on price) and availability (based on the number of cases either made or imported into the United States). These criteria are applied to the wines that rated outstanding (90 points or higher on Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale) each year to determine our Top 100…These wines are a diverse group—ranging from emerging labels and regions to traditional estates exploring new directions—and all generate the excitement we call the “X-factor.”

Winners this year include a top ten entry, Beaux Freres Pinot Noir Ribbon Ridge The Beaux Frères Vineyard 2018 with a score of 95, (the Beaux Frères Vineyard pictured above, photo by Carey Critchlow). Senior Editor Tim Fish described this wine as “A wine of presence and expression, impeccably structured yet elegantly layered, with evocative raspberry, rose petal and brown baking spice notes that pick up richness and tension toward fine-grained tannins.”

The other six winners and their respective spots on the list plus ratings are below. According to the magazine, a rating of 95-100 is deemed as a “Classic.” and a wine rated with a 90-94 is “Outstanding.”

#19: Résonance Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2017, 93

#29: The Four Graces Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Reserve, 2017, 94

#33: Ken Wright Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, 2017, 91

#37: Bergström Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Cumberland Reserve, 2018, 94

#64: La Crema Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2018, 92

#79: Stoller Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2018, 90

“Placing a record seven Oregon wines among the world’s Top 100, and five in the top 40, is welcome recognition for Oregon and a reflection of the exceptional fruit and winemaking talent here,” notes Oregon Wine Board President Tom Danowski.

Stoller Family Estate appeared for the first time on this list in 2020, and the designation is not lost on founder and owner Bill Stoller. “Wine Spectator is one of the most influential publications in our industry, and it’s an incredible honor to earn a spot on its Top 100 list,” he said. “Our Vice President of Winemaking, Melissa Burr, has been honing her craft over the last 15 years. She created an everyday Pinot Noir that embodies the spirit and complexity of our region. To have our 2018 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir place alongside some of the best in the world is a testament to Melissa and her team’s dedication.”

Exploring the Diversity of the Rheinhessen Wine Region [Part 2 of 3]

I recently traveled with fourteen wine journalists and industry professionals to Rheinhessen Germany, one of my favorite wine regions in Germany!

We soaked up Weingut Wagner-Stempel (wine festival in Siefersheim), attended a master workshop on the “Top Terroirs of Rheinhessen”, indulged in pinot noir tasting with local producers, along with other pleasant vinous, gastronomic and cultural surprises. The five-day program also took us to wineries in and around the heart of the region.  We were in the accompaniment of Ulrike Lenhardt and Ernst Buscher of The German Wine Institute, and Romana Echensperger, MW.

The following day we attended Winzerkeller Ingelheim to attend a Pinot Noir tasting with local producers.

This historic building epitomized Ingelheim’s history as the “red wine town”. Winzerkeller Ingelheim has just finished a three-year renovation project and we were lucky to visit it, upon its completion! Winzerkeller Ingelheim is not only home to a local vinotheque of 24 Ingelheim winegrowers, it’s also a distillery, restaurant, and a tourist information center.

We participated in a Pinot Noir tasting with the following wineries:

Winzerkeller Ingelheim website: www.ingelheimer-winzerkeller.de

Next on our visit was the wine festival in Siefersheim “Tage der offenen Weinkeller”.  Here we visited local wine cellars, tasted regional culinary specialties, and sipped some wonderful Rieslings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is Siefersheim?

Siefersheim is a village southwest of Bad Kreuznach, in Rheinhessen This quaint village has a population of 1,300 and it lends its name to a number of vineyards, two of which, Heerkretz and Höllberg, are highly regarded sites with VDP classifications. Of the district’s 628 hectares, 172 ha are under vine, with Riesling occupying the bulk of the vineyards.

On our next stop we visited Weingut Thörle, which is in the village of Saulheim. Saulheim is located in the north-eastern fringes of Rheinhessen. Thörle is a family-run estate since the 16th century and is regarded as one of the best producers in the region.

Now leading the winery are two brothers Christoph and Johannes. They tell us that their focus is mainly on Riesling, Silvaner, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. The vineyards are managed organically, and the estate has taken a biodynamic direction. The Soils are also varied with light clay, limestone, red sandy loam with some flint and schist. In our conversation, we learn that they obtain their distinctive, sappy Riesling characteristics and delicate Pinot Noir from the calcareous limestone-soils of Saulheim’s single vineyards Hölle, Schlossberg and Probstey.

 

Their wines are full of character, possess a depth of flavor and boast a high potential for maturing. Thörle’s wines have received international acclaim by leading wine guides and critics, as well as been selected by first-class airline wine programs.

Weingut Thörle website: http://www.thoerle-wein.de

 

At the end of the day, we attended a grand tasting at Weingut Hoffmann and Weingut Willems-Willems Estate.

Weingut Hofmann is jointly led and owned by the winemaker couple Jürgen Hofmann and Carolin Hofmann. This couple have taken over their families’ wine estates, Jürgen in 1999, and Carolin in 2001. Since 2006, both wineries have come under one roof, hence the two names: Weingut Hofmann in Weingut Willems-Willems.

Weingut Hofmann was founded in 1971 in Appenheim, when Jürgen’s parents converted their mixed agricultural operation into a winery  Jürgen pushed winemaking at Weingut Hofmann to new levels, by investing into new wine cellar equipment, focusing on the best vineyards, and planting new grape varieties, as well as built an ultra-modern winery including a tasting room.mHofmann’s 14 hectares. vineyards are limestone based.

Jurgen produces Riesling as well as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Silvaner. His Rieslings and Sauvignons that really wowed me. The limestone dominated soils surrounding Appenheim in his Riesling burst with stony spice and minerality. Aromas of dried apricots and exotic spice dance hand in hand in a racy yet breathtakingly elegant tango.

Jurgen’s Sauvignon Blanc grapes are harvested sequentially from multiple sites (as each vineyard reaches its own optimal ripeness). Tasting notes include notes of gooseberry, elderberry, and green asparagus blend with a tropical breeze reminiscent of the variety’s origins.

Weingut Hoffmann and Weingut Willems-Willems Estate website: www.schiefer-trifft-muschelkalk.de

Exploring the Diversity of the Rheinhessen Wine Region [Part 1 of 3]

I recently traveled with fourteen wine journalists and industry professionals to Rheinhessen Germany, one of my favorite wine regions in Germany.

We soaked up Weingut Wagner-Stempel (wine festival in Siefersheim), attended a master workshop on the “Top Terroirs of Rheinhessen”, indulged in pinot noir tasting with local producers, along with other pleasant vinous, gastronomic and cultural surprises. The five-day program also took us to wineries in and around the heart of the region.  We were in the accompaniment of Ulrike Lenhardt and Ernst Buscher of The German Wine Institute, and Romana Echensperger, MW.

Rheinhessen is Germany’s largest wine-producing region and also rich in history – the area was ruled by archbishops throughout the Middle Ages up to the French Revolution.

Mainz, the capital of Rheinhessen is also one of 16 states in the Federal Republic of Germany. Its unique location in Rheinhessen (also known as “The Land of the Thousand Hills”) makes it ideally suited for growing wines. There are over 3,500 winegrowers in the region producing some of Germany’s best white varieties such as Dornfelder, Riesling, Silvaner, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Grigio. Rheinhessen (or Rhein District) is located north of the Rhine River going west from Wiesbaden and ending around Rüdesheim. The Rheinhessen wine region is 35 kilometers from east – west, and 3 kilometers from north – south. Almost 80% of wines from this area are Rieslings, other white wines account for 10% of production, and Pinot Noir accounts for 10% of all production.

The top vineyards are concentrated long the steep west bank of the Rhine, known as the Rheinterrasse (Rhine terrace), and towards the south towards the town of Worms, and around the village of Westhofen.

Our Rheinhessen experience began with a vineyard walk and tasting at Roter Hang – Brudersberg “Schönste Weinsicht”.

The view from the Niersteiner Brudersberg was absolutely stunning!  It was awarded by the German Wine Institute “The Most Beautiful Wine View” in 2012 across all 13 German wine-growing regions. From the vantage points, we saw spectacular views of the Rheinhessen wine landscape. From Brudersberg we had optimal views to Hessian Ried to Frankfurt (east), looking northeast the Taunus with the Great Feldberg, and looking southeast to the bend in the Rhine at Oppenheim to the Odenwald with the Melibokus. We were also in the middle of Oelberg, Kranzberg, Pettenthal, Hipping and Spiegelberg, Brudersberg which are also located on the Red Slope of Nierstein –  its Rieslings, are among the best in the world.  We had the privilege of tasting with a group of five energetic, young producers and winemakers, who are committed to breaking free of the region’s bulk-based past and exemplifies Rheinhessen’s wine revolution.

–  Weingut Guntrum – www.guntrum.de

–  Weingut Raddeck – www.raddeckwein.de

–  Weingut Schätzel – www.schaetzel.de

–  Weingut Huff – www.weingut-huff.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was quite a remarkable and memorable tasting due to the historical location and sipping local wines!  The Weingut Raddeck wines stood out. I found out by the producer that the wines are not only sustainable, they use geothermal heating, solar panels as well as recyclable rainwater. The Raddeck Family and their ancestors have been winegrowers for over 10 Generations.

The Guntrum vineyards are located on one of the most exciting terroirs for Riesling in Germany, the Roter Hang (or Red slope hillside). The Rotliegend was created over 280 million years ago in a very hot and dry period. By some geologic activity 45 million years ago, this red rock came up to the surface. The soil is high in iron and the wines from this area have a distinct minerality and elegance which certainly showed through at the tasting.

The next stop on our venture was Weingut Domhof and Grape Escape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This historic wine estate has not only been a family-owned business since 1874 it now serves as the birthplace of great wine for the fifth generation. Since 2004, Domhof has been owned and operated by Alexander Baumann, the great-great-grandson Schmitts, and his wife Chris. At least 35% of their 10 hectares is Reisling, along with other white varieties: Silvaner, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Kerner. The red varieties include: Schwarzriesling, Pinot Noir, Portugieser, Regent and Dornfelder. The philosophy of Alexander, the head winemaker, is reflected in his vineyard maintenance, and consistent yield reduction.  The historical house motto states “quality arises in the vineyard”.

Domhof produces nine Rieslings from their vineyards, which are located in Guntersblumer Himmelthal, Niersteiner Heiligenbaum, Niersteiner Paterberg and Niersteiner Pettenthal. Each Riesling I tasted impressed me with their individual character, and expressive bouquet.  Alexander Baumann explains to us that it’s due to the microclimate and the characteristics of the three soils in his vineyards: Löss limestone and the sandstone slopes of Roter Hang.

Also located on the premises is the three-star hotel “Schlafgut Domhof”, an event area for wedding and family celebrations, and Grape Escape. This award-winning concept is an escape room which is a wine-focus adventure game involving solving puzzles and riddles, using clues, hints and strategies.

The Domhof winery was awarded the second “Best of Wine Tourism Award 2019” by the Great Wine Capitals in the category “Architecture, Parks and Gardens”

https://weingut-domhof.de/

In the afternoon we headed to Gut Leben am Moorstein to attend a specially designed workshop led by Romana Echensperger, MW on the Top Terroirs of Rheinhessen. Romana guided us in 5 Flights with 5 wines in each flight and discussed the soils and varieties of the area.

From the diverse soils to the above-average sunny days and varying microclimates, Rheinhessen produces many varieties. Silvaner is common here as well as the Pinot varietals: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir.

The terroir ranges from red soil, sandstone, to gravel, chalky, soils with pebbles, which produce wines with earthy qualities. Whereas, the vineyards around Westhofen largely consist of marl and calcareous soil, which can have some tinted red due to the high concentration of iron. The wines of this area are well -balanced and tend to be soft, and medium-bodied.  Ingelheim is well-known for its Pinot Noirs.

Wineries presented that reflect the region’s unique taste of place, include:

– Weingut Klaus-Peter Keller – www.keller-wein.de

– Weingut Seehof – Florian Fauth- www.weingut-seehof.de

– Weingut Rettig – Katja Rettig – www.weingut-rettig.de

– Weingut Katharina Wechsler – www.weingut-wechsler.de

– Weingut Gutzler – www.gutzler.de

 

PART 2 TO FOLLOW …Exploring the Diversity of the Rheinhessen Wine Region [Part 2 of 3]