Rascal Pinot Noir 2011

I am really, earnestly trying to teach myself to like pinot noir. Sometimes, I find bottles that really inspire me; other times, ones I like; and then there are the times that I stumble upon something that I really, really dislike.

I opened one such bottle last night— the 2011 Rascal from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. To be fair, I have not yet found a taste for Oregon pinots, and I said as much to the wine clerk, usually because I find them jammy, overripe, and lacking in acidity. But, in the spirit of trying something new, I decided to go for it, and $24 later opened a bottle of… grape juice. Thin, almost watery, fruit-punchy on the palate, and somehow possessing a whopping 13% alcohol, this wine left me wanting. Anything else, really.

0 out of 5 stars (low score due to price/quality ratio; would maybe rate a tad higher if I hadn’t shelled out $25 + tax)

The Powerful “Super-Rhônes” of Chêne Bleu

I had the good fortune of meeting and having lunch with Nicole Rolet of Chêne Bleu (“Blue Oak” in French) on her recent trip to New York. I didn’t know much about the wines before we met, but I was immediately taken away by her story. She and her husband had renovated La Verrière, a Medieval property in Provence, high in the mountains above the Gigondas region in the Southern Rhône.

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Elegant Cabs from California’s Sonoma County

Sonoma doesn’t get the recognition for cabernet sauvignon that its chic neighbor Napa Valley receives, perhaps because Napa so defines the flavor and body of the typical California red.

Sonoma, closer to the ocean, has a slightly milder climate, which lends itself to creating a more elegant cab in certain areas like the Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley.

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