$20 Below: Grateful Red Pinot Noir 2010

Grateful Red Pinot Noir 2010

Date Tasted: 2/23/13

Price: Suggested Retail is $15.00

From The Winery: 13.2% alcohol. Willamette Valley AVA.

Impressions/Notes: My quest to find high-quality, budget Pinot Noirs is starting to feel like a unicorn hunt. Redhawk Winery & Vineyard’s 2010 Grateful Red Pinot Noir is no unicorn. It presents with a color slightly deeper than a Rose. Tart and bitter red fruits dominate, complimented by earth and rose petals. There’s a strong oak presence–in my opinion too strong for this fragile wine. In the mouth, this Pinot is ultra-dry, with a stemmy bitterness that would not fade off. The aromas are decent, and it’s crisp, but the flavors are not pleasing. While I’m a huge proponent of Oregon Pinots, I’m not sure that I’d recommend this wine unless it’s on sale (significantly).

Rating: Not Too Shabby (81), 2.5/5 Value

Posted on by Nick in $20 Below, Oregon, Pinot Noir 4 Comments

$20 Above: Aberrant Cellars Confero Pinot Noir 2009

Aberrant Cellars Confero Pinot Noir 2009

Date Tasted: 11/30/12

Price: Suggested Retail is $35.00 (purchased for $32.00)

From The Winery: 14.1% alcohol. Willamette Valley AVA. (Detailed description of vineyard and clone Information available by clicking the link above). 560 cases produced.

Impressions/Notes: Aberrant Cellars’ 2009 Confero (Latin for “to bring together”) Pinot Noir is a blend of fruit from vineyards and clones from sub-regions of the Willamette Valley, including the Yamhill/Carlton and Chehalem Mountain AVAs. As I sipped on this excellent wine last night, it hit me that I did not buy/taste enough Oregon Pinot Noirs in 2012–a “problem” that I will have to remedy in 2013. The 2009 Confero is a bright, delicate, and tempting Pinot that presents with a medium garnet color and emits subtle aromas of cherry, raspberry, autumnal leaves, dark chocolate, and sandalwood. In the mouth, this wine has a light-medium body, slightly grainy tannins, and a nice, long finish. I would classify this Pinot as leaning toward the fruitier side, but there are certainly some earth and spice elements that add extra dimensions to the aromas and flavors. I haven’t come across many $35.00 Pinots out there that approach this level of quality. The Confero is a must-buy and a killer deal at this price point.

Rating: Highly Recommended (90-94), 4.5/5 Value 


Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, Oregon, Pinot Noir 4 Comments

$20 Below: Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling 2010

Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling 2010

Date Tasted: 10/10/12

Price: Suggested Retail is $14.00 (Purchased for $10.00)

From The Winery: 9.0% alcohol. Willamette Valley AVA. 15,133 cases produced.

Impressions/Notes: Oregon’s Willamette Valley is most famous for its Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, but they also make some really nice Rieslings in the area. Willamette Valley Vineyards’ 2010 Riesling is an affordable, readily available example. A great nose of peach, ripe apple, chalk, and a whiff of iodine, with flavors that match the aromas to a tee. In the mouth, there’s a strong, saliva-inducing acid presence, with a healthy dose of sweetness (characterized by the winery as “Medium Sweet”). It will make for a nice white to add to next month’s Turkey Day lineup and should appeal to a wide range of palates.

Rating: Recommended/Highly Recommended (88-91), 4.5/5 Value


Posted on by Nick in $20 Below, Oregon, Riesling 3 Comments

Winestyr: Bringing Wine Discounts Right to Your Inbox

Like many bloggers, I receive business and product announcements from time to time. If I like the product/business, I don’t mind giving it a mention at all, as I see it as a pay it forward type of thing. The test that I use to determine whether I’ll discuss it consists of the following two questions: 1. Is it cool? 2. Is it something that I would use? One new business that passed this test with flying colors is Winestyr.

Winestyr, launched in late January of this year, sells discounted vouchers for its featured wineries of the week. If you would like to receive these offers, simply provide your email address and you should start receiving them right away. Upon purchase, a voucher can then be redeemed on the winery’s website. Winestyr features only domestic wineries–as of now, they have offered vouchers from wineries in California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Michigan. Several of the wineries featured thus far have been small producers, though there have also been a few larger, well-known producers such as K Vintners/Charles Smith Wines and Willamette Valley Vineyards.

Besides its cool business concept, Winestyr’s sleek design and ease of use really stand out. Other features that users should find really helpful are a detailed background story on the featured winery, a visual scale that helps to classify the wines, and the ability to send a question to the winemaker with the click of a button.

How about those vouchers? Customers generally receive a savings of 35-45% off the price of the wine(s) on the featured winery’s website. Another important factor is that the vouchers are generally full access, meaning no wines on the website are “off-limits”.

Winestyr is based out of Chicago, Illinois. I couldn’t help but notice my Illinois/Colorado connection with the founders of Winestyr–Bob and John Wilson, both from the Chicago area, attended college at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I was born in Illinois and lived there for the first 25 years of my life and am now a proud Colorado resident. Illinois is far from a Mecca when it comes to the wine industry, but the Wilsons have created a really nice business in the Land of Lincoln that should prove to be very beneficial to wine drinkers.


Posted on by Nick in Wine Column 2 Comments

Washington/Oregon/Colorado Wine Tasting

On June 26th, I attended a tasting in the Denver-area organized by Argonaut Liquors, featuring wines from Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. I was already beginning to have some serious withdrawals from my massive exposure to Washington wine in late May/early June, so naturally I was grateful for the opportunity to taste some more Washington wine and hoped to stumble across some of the bottles that I sampled in Walla Walla. Indeed, I did get the chance to re-sample Buty’s Rediviva of the Stones and Connor Lee Vineyard Chardonnay ( I previously reviewed them here), two excellent wines. A producer that I was very happy to become acquainted with was Syncline. Their Subduction Red blend and Mourvedre were very impressive and extremely well-priced.

One of the next American wine regions on my list is the Willamette Valley in Oregon, so my main focus was to sample as much Oregon Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris as possible. Of the several pinot noirs that I tasted, Erath’s Dundee Hills bottling stood out the most. As most of my exposure to pinot noir has been of the California variety, it was great opportunity to get a better feel for the contrast that Oregon’s pinots provide.  On the “white side” the A to Z Pinot Gris, which retails for $13.00, is a steal at this price.

The one disappointment of the evening was the lack of Colorado wines available for sampling. Their may have been fifteen bottles tops and I was only able to get around to tasting the wines of one Colorado producer, Bookcliff Vineyards (Infinite Monkey Theorem was also there but I tasted and reviewed several of their wines earlier this year). Bookcliff’s Reserve Cabernet Franc and Viognier impressed–unfortunately, I do not have the retail prices for these two wines to include below.


  • Saviah Cellars Big Sky Cuvee 2008 ($35.00) Big, lush, and ripe, with well-integrated tannins. Made me miss Walla Walla! Highly Recommended (90-94), 4/5 Value 
  • Syncline Subduction Red 2010 ($20.00) A hodgepodge of Rhone varietals make up this ripe, velvety, medium-bodied blend. Highly Recommended (90-94), 5/5 Value 
  • Syncline Mourvedre 2010 ($30.00) Smooth cherry deliciousness, with a strong acid presence. Highly Recommended (90-94), 4/5 Value 
  • Forgeron Cellars Blacksmith Merlot 2008 ($18.00) Big on aroma and flavor, very nice expression of fruit. Recommended (86-89), 4/5 Value 
  • Syncline Rose Columbia Valley 2010 ($18.00) Very dry, crisp, with soft strawberry notes. Recommended (86-89), 3/5 Value 


  • Erath Pinot Noir Estate Collection 2009 ($34.00) Aromatic, light and silky, with strawberry, dill, and bubble gum aromas. Highly Recommended (90-94), 4/5 Value 
  • Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir Dundee Hills 2009 (38.00) Cherry and earth elements dominate on this nice, sturdy pinot. Highly Recommended (90-94), 4/5 Value
  • Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir 2010 ($40.00) Subtle cranberry aromas gave way to a flavor explosion in the mouth. Highly Recommended (90-94), 3/5 Value 
  • Argyle Pinot Noir Nuthouse 2009 ($50.00) Raspberry, cedar, and dill aromas, with a clean lingering finish. Highly Recommended (90-94), 3/5 Value 
  • A to Z PInot Gris 2010 ($13.00) Zestful, dry, loaded with citrus. A slight bit of greenness. Recommended (86-89), 4/5 Value
  • Elk Cove Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2009  ($29.00) Big on fruit and big on acid. Recommended (86-89), 3/5 Value


  • Bookcliff Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve 2009 ($??) Smooth, with super ripe fruit and sweet spice. Recommended (86-89)
  • Bookcliff Vineyards Viognier 2011 ($??) Bright, with tempting peach and floral aromas. Recommended (86-89)


Posted on by Nick in Cabernet Franc, Colorado, Merlot, Mourvedre, Oregon, Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Red Blends, Tasting Events, Washington, Wine Column 2 Comments