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October 2020

  • It’s Cheese O’Clock in California

    The Mercury News 

    October 16, 2020
    By Jackie Burrell 

    “Last spring, cheese experts Janet Fletcher and Laura Werlin teamed up with cheesemakers and winemakers to bring attention to, as Werlin put it, ‘the great cheeses of America.’ The virtual Cheese O’Clock series proved so crazy popular, they’re doing an encore with four themed wine and cheese tastings in November and December.

    The Thursday Zoom sessions are free. But unless you like watching other people nibble, sip and swoon while you go cheese-less and wine deprived, you’ll want to purchase those blue-ribbon fromages and wine pairings ahead, so they’ll be on your doorstep in time to taste along.

    Cheese selections are $65 for four or five cheeses. And we’re not talking petite wedges — the shipment for a recent session we joined included a round of Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam, a whole Nicasio Foggy Morning fromage blanc and more. The paired wines are $90 to $105 for two bottles, shipped straight from the wineries.

    Tastings are on Thursdays at 4 p.m. Pacific (7 p.m. Eastern). Here’s what lies in store.

    How the West Was Won, Nov. 12: MacRostie Winery winemaker Heidi Bridenhagen and Central Coast Creamery’s cheesemaker Reggie Jones, whose Ewenique cheese joins a lineup that also includes Laura Chenel’s Goat Brie, Beecher’s Cheese’s Flagship Reserve, and Rogue Creamery’s Caveman Blue.”

  • This Week’s Blind Tasting: Sauvignon Blancs

    The Press Democrat

    October 14
    By Peg Melnik

    2019 Clockwise Sauvignon Blanc – ★★★ ½: Good

    “A zesty sauvignon blanc with notes of melon, mango and mineral. Buoyed by bright acidity. Finishes crisp.” 

  • Year’s Best California Chardonnays

    Wine & Spirits

    October 2020
    By Josh Greene

    “Our blind panels tasted 379 California chardonnays during the past 12 months. Our critics tasted 121 exceptional (90+) and 56 as Best Buys. Joshua Greene covers California’s North Coast; Patrick J. Comiskey covers the Central Coast.”

    2018 MacRostie Bacigalupi Vineyard Chardonnay Russian River Valley – 92 Points: Delicious, compelling; a compelling wine of its region; a delicious, finessed expression of place

    “This grows at Bacigalupi’s Frost Ranch, where MacRostie sources a block of chardonnay propagated from diverse heritage selections in a mix of young and old vines. The wine initially seems to be all about golden fruit, from apricot to nectarine, pithy grapefruit acidity and savory grape-skin tannins. It develops length and elegance as it opens with air, a salty tension keeping the richness in line. Decant it for a savory veal stew.”

    2018 MacRostie Kent Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay Russian River Valley – 91 Points: Delicious, compelling; a compelling wine of its region; a delicious, finessed expression of place

    “All about generosity, from vanilla cream to savory pastry notes, this is round and luscious, lasting on toasted almond and apricot scents. It’s a classical Russian River chardonnay to pour at brunch with poached salmon.”

    2017 MacRostie The Key Chardonnay Sonoma Coast  – 91 Points: Delicious, compelling; a compelling wine of its region; a delicious, finessed expression of place

    “In the 1960s, Steve MacRostie trained as a US army cryptographer in Vicenza, where he developed an interest in European wine. He now channels that interest into the single-vineyard chardonnays he makes with wine-maker Heidi Bridenhagen. This vintage of The Key is tense and grassy, then settles into intriguing fruit depths that combine the tartness of yellow cherries, the muskiness of huitlacoche and the mineral savor of cheese rind. Panelist Michele Em suggested it would open up with baked apples and brie.”

    2018 MacRostie The Key Chardonnay Sonoma Coast  – 91 Points: Delicious, compelling; a compelling wine of its region; a delicious, finessed expression of place

    “Steve MacRostie and winemaker Heidi Bridenhagen blend The Key from their favored chardonnay lots, including parcels in the Russian River Valley, the far Sonoma Coast and Carneros. It’s a fresh, coastal white with green-apple notes and rooty scents of carrots. The texture is creamy, the finish clean.”

  • “Alphabetical Guide to California Pinot Noir”

    Wine Spectator

    October 15
    By Kim Marcus

    “These wines were tasted for Kim Marcus’ California Pinot Noir tasting report in the Oct. 15, 2020, issue of Wine Spectator magazine. For a full analysis of the latest vintages and top wines and top values charts, read ‘Cascade Effect.’ More than 600 wines were reviewed for this report. WineSpectator.com members can find all reviews, with full tasting notes, in the Wine Ratings Search.”

    2017 MacRostie Hellenthal Vineyard Pinot Noir Fort Ross-Seaview – 92 Points: Outstanding; a wine of superior character and style

    2018 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 91 Points: Outstanding; a wine of superior character and style

    2017 MacRostie Cummings Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 90 Points: Outstanding; a wine of superior character and style

    2017 MacRostie Terra de Promissio Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 90 Points: Outstanding; a wine of superior character and style

    2017 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 89 Points: Very good; a wine with special qualities

    2017 MacRostie Wildcat Mountain Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 89 Points: Very good; a wine with special qualities

    2017 MacRostie Thale’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 89 Points: Very good; a wine with special qualities

    2017 MacRostie Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – 88 Points: Very good; a wine with special qualities

    2017 MacRostie Wohler Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – 88 Points: Very good; a wine with special qualities

    2017 MacRostie The Loch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast – 88 Points: Very good; a wine with special qualities

    2018 MacRostie Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – 87 Points: Very good; a wine with special qualities

  • Cascade Effect

    Wine Spectator

    October 15
    By Kim Marcus

    “Pinot Noir continues its expansion across the Golden State, with rising quality and increased production driven by a surge of single-vineyard wines flowing from key winegrowing regions up and down the California coast, where the cooler, maritime-influenced climate proves ideal for the grape’s cultivation.

    This past year has been a banner tasting season as I reviewed more than 600 wines since my previous report (“Coastal Conquest,” Oct. 15, 2019), with the vast majority of the action centered on the 2017 and 2018 vintages. Overall, more than 375 wines reached 90 points or higher, making for a remarkably high level of quality, with three dozen wines scoring in the 94- to 95-point range.

    Perhaps even more impressive is the diversity of the appellations where Pinot Noir excels. Classic-rated wines are being made all the way from Mendocino’s Anderson Valley, one of the state’s northernmost appellations, to Santa Barbara’s Sta. Rita Hills, 400 miles to the south. In between, districts in Sonoma, Napa and Monterey also chime in with stellar wines.


    In Sonoma’s historic heartland of Pinot Noir, the Russian River Valley, stalwart producers such as Arista, Dehlinger, Ferren, Hartford Court, Paul Hobbs and Williams-Selyem continue to prime the quality pump with both single-vineyard bottlings and appellation blends. Indeed, the high quality of many appellation blends make them a good buying strategy if you are looking for value. These versions tap multiple vineyard sources within an appellation and are made in significantly higher quantities. They offer solid varietal flavors and structure, with just a bit less concentration and finesse compared with single-vineyard offerings.

    From the Russian River Valley, look for the EnRoute Les Pommiers 2018 (93, $60), MacMurray Ranch 2017 (92, $38) and Sojourn 2018 (92, $45). From the Sonoma Coast, there’s the 2018 MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (91, $34), RouteStock 116 2018 (91, $23), Au Contraire 2017 (90, $27), La Crema 2017 (90, $25) and Sean Minor 2018 (90, $22). And from Carneros, seek out the Artesa 2017 (91, $25) and Acacia 2017 (90, $27).”

  • Wine Enthusiast Advance Buying Guide – 2017 Clockwise Sauvignon Blanc

    Wine Enthusiast

    October 12
    By Virginie Boone

    MacRostie 2019 Clockwise Sauvignon Blanc (Russian River Valley) – 90 Points

    Sourced from the Mirabelle and Jewell Ranch vineyards, the grapes Musque clone, this is a delightfully delicious and impressively made white. Floral, herbal and steely, it shows a wealth of crisp green apple and melon flavor with just a touch of neutral oak influence.