The WineSpeed Blog


Pinot Noir 2015

(Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon) $55

We had an employee once who, after tasting a really good pinot noir would always pronounce it “pretty.” What’s a pretty pinot noir? I would always ask. And she would say, Pretty is, well, …pretty. I think this is that wine. It has beguiling aromas of roses and tea and a delicate earthy flavor. Its richness is beautifully faded…like an exquisite old tapestry. Pinots such as this evoke a certain similarity with  Burgundies. (Interestingly, Knudsen’s Reserve pinot doesn’t have quite the same elegance). If you love classic pinot noir, this is for you. (14.1% abv)

91 points KM

Available at Knudsen Winery

Ruby Fizz

Historically, Italy’s brilliant ruby-colored sparkling wine, Brachetto, was thought to be an aphrodisiac. (At least that’s what Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony thought, but maybe  Cleopatra should be the judge). Anyway, it’s true that Brachetto has undeniable charm. Beautifully floral and fruity with just the right grown-up bitter edge, Brachetto is made from brachetto grapes in the Acqui region of Piedmont, hence its full name: Brachetto d’Acqui.  The wine is frizzante (lightly sparkling), low in alcohol, fresh, and loaded with  raspberry and black cherry flavors. Chilled cold, it’s terrific with a plate of charcuterie some Saturday night before dinner. (I know people who swear it’s molto bene with dark chocolate, but I’ll let you decide on that one). Banfi is the main importer of Brachetto in the U.S. and theirs is a very good one.

A. Prestige Cuvées

B. Grand Marques

C. Blanc de Blancs

D. Premier Grand Crus


About 40% of all the Champagne sold this year will be sold over the next three months, so it’s a good time to brush up on Champagne terminology. Proprietary names like La Grande Dame, Cristal and Comtes de Champagne are the names that Champagne Houses give to their very top wines which are known as prestige cuvées. The grapes for a prestige cuvee come from the best (and highest-rated) vineyards the House has access to, and the wines usually spend a very long time on the yeast lees–sometimes as much as ten years. As a result, prestige cuvées are usually both a) exquisite and b) expensive. La Grande Dame, Cristal and Comtes de Champagne are the prestige cuvées of Veuve Clicquot, Roederer and Taittinger respectively.

“Age gives a wine a sense of beauty and satisfaction that it could never have had before when it was young. In our minds, we intuit that beauty and satisfaction as a feeling of completeness. Because so much of life is incomplete, an old wine is remarkable and moving.”


Warren Winiarski,
founder of Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars


The word ice is usually used along with the word wine, as in ice wine (or eiswein). But ice can be used alone, as in “Riesling Ice.” A wine that is described simply as “ice” is made from grapes frozen artificially. By contrast, all ice wine globally must be made from grapes frozen naturally on the vine. Ice wine is usually expensive—often costing over $100 for a half bottle. By contrast, wines simply labeled ice can cost as little as $20 a half bottle.

Your Wine Horoscope

A Silicon Valley-based company has developed StarSip, a wine-horoscope app that makes wine recommendations for each sign of the zodiac. Based on an interdisciplinary approach the company calls Biodynamic Astrology, the app’s algorithm aligns solar and lunar cycles in both viticulture and cosmology. StarSip subscribers who enter their signs  are sent a list of wines that possess the most “harmonic convergence” for the month. (Ok, we made this up. But hey, it’s California where anything is possible).


Approximate number of wine estates that employ Michel Rolland as their consultant, including many of the most exclusive wineries in the world. Based in Bordeaux (but often found on an air plane), Rolland is the most influential (and expensive) wine consultant in the world. His clients are spread across 14 countries from India to Brazil, to the U.S. Rolland also owns multiple estates in Bordeaux and joint ventures in South Africa, Argentina and Spain.


Number of pounds of pasta per person Americans eat each year according to a recent status report by the International Pasta Organization. Sound like a lot? Not to Italians. In Italy, pasta consumption is just shy of 55 pounds per person per year. The U.S.-based National Pasta Association reports that trending pasta recipes include pasta with chicken and salmon. (Ciao meatballs).


Amount (in U.S. dollars) of the new Target brand of wine called California Roots. Just about two bucks more than Two Buck Chuck (its notorious forbearer), California Roots comes in chardonnay, pinot grigio, moscato, cabernet sauvignon, and a red blend. Target, which counts wine and beer among its most popular items, is betting that buying Target brand wine along with your laundry detergent and T.P. will be a no-brainer.

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