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WRO Wine Blog

January 7, 2018

Winemakers of the Year

By nature, winemakers are a modest breed. They do most of their work in jeans and boots and almost always give credit for any critical acclaim to their vineyards.

Vineyards are indeed important, but behind every great vineyard is a winemaker deciding the precise moment to pick, the best yeast to optimize flavor and complexity, whether to barrel down or not, which type of barrels to use, older barrels or new, and so on until the wine is finally bottled.

It's anything but a push-button job, especially when grape-growing conditions are less than ideal.

Over the course of the past year, numerous winemakers stood out. Ted Edwards of Freemark Abbey and Darice Spinelli of Nickel & Nickel produced wines -- Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons in each case -- that inspired the rare 100-point score in the "Wine Talk" ratings.

Dan Goldfield at Dutton Goldfield released a string of exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. He also had the uncanny ability to step outside his perceived comfort zone and produce a dry Gewurztraminer that is probably the finest of the genre in the United States.

The same can be said of Merry Edwards, the queen of California Pinot Noir. Edwards' Pinot Noir and Chardonnay releases in 2017 consistently topped the class, and her Sauvignon Blanc, made in the style of Bordeaux Blanc, was second to none.

Then there is Luca Paschina, the brilliant winemaker at Virginia's Barboursville Vineyards, located in the Blue Ridge mountains two hours southwest of Washington, D.C. Paschina, a native of Italy's Piedmont region, has been winemaker at Barboursville since 1990. He is perhaps the most decorated winemaker in the history of Virginia wine, and 2017 was no different. Barboursville wines took 10 gold medals at the four annual wine challenges staged in San Diego. Paschina dazzled with a red Bordeaux-style blend "Octagon," a Nebbiolo Reserve that is consistently the finest Nebbiolo made in America, a Vermentino Reserve, a Cabernet Franc Reserve, a Viognier, a Sauvignon Blanc and even a splendid Cabernet Sauvignon.

Among a deluge of impressive performances in 2017, these winemakers stood out for me and are thus the 2017 "Wine Talk" winemakers of the year.
Posted by Robert Whitley at 3:59 PM


January 5, 2018

Winemakers of the Year


By nature, winemakers are a modest breed. They do most of their work in jeans and boots and almost always give credit for any critical acclaim to their vineyards.

Vineyards are indeed important, but behind every great vineyard is a winemaker deciding the precise moment to pick, the best yeast to optimize flavor and complexity, whether to barrel down or not, which type of barrels to use, older barrels or new, and so on until the wine is finally bottled.

It's anything but a push-button job, especially when grape-growing conditions are less than ideal.

Over the course of the past year, numerous winemakers stood out. Ted Edwards of Freemark Abbey and Darice Spinelli of Nickel & Nickel produced wines -- Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons in each case -- that inspired the rare 100-point score in the "Wine Talk" ratings.

Dan Goldfield at Dutton Goldfield released a string of exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. He also had the uncanny ability to step outside his perceived comfort zone and produce a dry Gewurztraminer that is probably the finest of the genre in the United States.

The same can be said of Merry Edwards, the queen of California Pinot Noir. Edwards' Pinot Noir and Chardonnay releases in 2017 consistently topped the class, and her Sauvignon Blanc, made in the style of Bordeaux Blanc, was second to none.

Then there is Luca Paschina, the brilliant winemaker at Virginia's Barboursville Vineyards, located in the Blue Ridge mountains two hours southwest of Washington, D.C. Paschina, a native of Italy's Piedmont region, has been winemaker at Barboursville since 1990. He is perhaps the most decorated winemaker in the history of Virginia wine, and 2017 was no different. Barboursville wines took 10 gold medals at the four annual wine challenges staged in San Diego. Paschina dazzled with a red Bordeaux-style blend "Octagon," a Nebbiolo Reserve that is consistently the finest Nebbiolo made in America, a Vermentino Reserve, a Cabernet Franc Reserve, a Viognier, a Sauvignon Blanc and even a splendid Cabernet Sauvignon.

Among a deluge of impressive performances in 2017, these winemakers stood out for me and are thus the 2017 "Wine Talk" winemakers of the year.
Posted by Robert Whitley at 11:18 AM