Random thoughts on the world of wine, presented in no particular order.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

One to watch...

I had the joy of getting to taste two of Coelho Winery's wines at a trade tasting yesterday.  Here I am, to tell you... these folks are one to watch.

Their business plan is sound (they're running a profit in the fourth year of operations -- this is well-nigh unheard-of in the wine world).  Their costs are low (it's a family winery -- the family's children do some of the bulk work).  Their winemaking philosophy is minimalist (free-run juice only -- a good idea for pinot -- native-yeast fermentation, sustainable vineyard practices including encouraging kestrels to nest nearby and control rodents -- they're certified Salmon-Safe right now, and will probably be getting Organic certification in 2010), which appeals to me.  And, most importantly... their resultant wines are outstanding.

I got to try both the 2007 Renovação Pinot Gris and the 2006 Paciência Pinot Noir (all of Coelho's wines are given a Portuguese descriptive name -- in this case, it's Renewal and Patience, respectively).

Tasting notes on the Pinot Gris:

Pale in the glass.  Inviting nose of pear and some white floral bouquet.  Surprisingly abundant flavor, showing crisp apple and pear, a vanilla midpalate, with grassy undertones.  A pop of mineral acidity on the finish.  Quite tasty; this is not generic white starter wine, this is serious stuff.  Dry wine with moderate to high acidity balancing a mid/full body, nicely complex, well-balanced, with a long, lingering minerality on the finish.  89 points.

The Pinot Gris was, in a word, excellent pinot gris (I generally dislike this varietal, so a rating in the 89-90 range is high praise).  Good acidity, but not overpowering, perfect as an aperitif or with a light "white wine" meal -- fatty sashimi tuna comes to mind, as does turkey.

The 2006 Pinot Noir -- from 4-year-old vines! -- was similarly good:

Ruby/purple in the glass.  Inviting nose of cherries over mulling spices.  Powerful flavors, showing a bit of raisin right on the forepalate, cherry, more of the mulling spices, and some smoky vanilla notes on the finish.  Tasty.  Perfectly balanced, with moderate acidity and a medium body, very fine-grained tannins barely present.  Finish is around 30 seconds.  Drink now through 2012.  90 points.

And this from 4-year-old vines.  It's generally accepted wisdom that good wine comes from vines 6+ years old, and great wines from 15+ year old vines.  These are young vines.  Not ready for prime time!  Imagine what they'll be in 10 years.

Now, these are not cheap -- $20 for the Pinot Gris in my local store, $33 for the Pinot Noir.  On the website, they're $16 and $35, respectively (although, currently they offer 10% off of cases -- solid or mixed -- and free shipping to legal states in the lower 48).  But, I'll say this... I've had a lot of crappy $30-$40 Pinot Noir (many producers have raised their prices in response to the "Sideways effect," to profit-take -- for $30 or $40, I expect a lot from my Pinot).  This is emphatically not crappy $30-$40 Pinot Noir.

So, get a bottle.  Heck, get a case.  In ten years, you can say you had them "when."

Image from the Coelho Winery website.


  1. These sound great! I'll have to try some! :)


  2. I'm heading over to the Total Wine in Tampa this afternoon to try it for myself! Thank you for the 411 on the free wine pours! :)