Bacchus & Beery Wine Blog

Apr 102014
papapietro perryPapapietro Perry Pinot Noir 2011, Nunes Vineyard, Russian River Valley, CA, $56 – Rating 92

An excellent Pinot Noir from a special vineyard. A deeply textured nose bursting with aromas of ripe cherry, spice and camp smoke. Medium-bodied with hints of jamminess, supple tannins and balanced acidity. Flavors of cherry, strawberry and raspberry with a touch of pepper and spice. Subtle notes of cola in the finish. Buy This Wine


Apr 072014
Giordano Pinot GrigioGiordano Grecanico Pinot Grigio 2012, Sicily Collection, Sicily, Italy, $12 (S) – Rating 88

From a small vineyard on Sicily, this Pinot Grigio – Grecanico blend is produced in a softer creamier style than many mouth-puckering Pinot Grigios. A gentle nose of citrus, pineapple and melon. Light-bodied with soft acidity, offering flavors of pineapple creme, lemon and green apple with a bit of minerality in the finish. Think summertime with friends. Will pair well with lighter summer and picnic fare. Buy This Wine

Apr 072014
Giordano WineGiordano Primitivo di Manduria d.o.c. 2011, Giordano Collection, Apulia, Italy, $14 (S) – Rating 89

Aged 50% in 2 -3 year old oak barrels and 50% in underground oak casks from low yield vines in southern Italy near the Adriatic Sea. This rich and jammy brother to Zinfandel, sports aromas of dark cherry, plum, ripe raspberry and a touch of saddle leather. Balanced tannins and acidity are highlighted with flavors of plum, black cherry, vanilla, tobacco box, cassis, pepper and spice. A nice compliment of campfire smoke in the finish. Buy This Wine

Apr 072014
Giordano SoaveGiordano Soave d.o.c. 2012, Verona, Italy, $12 (S) – Rating 91

Known a s an excellent and versatile food-pairing wine. Soave can be paired with anything from cured charcutière meats to hearty seafood. The 2012 offering from Giordano opens with aromas of green apple with notes of baking spice. A light to medium bodied with creamy mouth-feel and balanced acidity. Flavors of green apple, Meyer lemon with hints of minerality and a touch of apricot on the finish. Buy This Wine

Apr 072014
MacPhail RoséMacPhail Rosé of Pinot Noir 2013, Sonoma Coast, CA, $22 (S) – Rating 91

Beautifully dry and balanced. A blend of all the MacPhail Pinot Noir Vineyards. The rosé juice is saignéd (bled off) after 24 to 48 hours of cold soak, fermented and then finished with malolactic fermentation, adding a touch of creaminess to balance the juicy food-pairing acidity. Gentle aromas of strawberry, raspberry, floral notes and spice. A round and rewarding mouth-feel with bold flavors of strawberry, bright cherry, raspberry and minerality. Subtle notes of cayenne and spice on the finish adds to the complexity. A manly rosé! Buy This Wine

Apr 032014
Giordano WineGiordano Barbera d’Asti d.o.c.g. 2010, Piemonte Collection, Piedmont, Italy, $14 (S) – Rating 90

Update from our March 2013 Review.

This wine has matured nicely with another year in the bottle. It still needs a bit of time to open but only about 20 minutes for full effect. Aged in Slovenian oak barrels, the wine offers a rich nose of floral notes, dark cherry and a hint of spice and smoke. Medium-bodied with good food pairing acidity and balanced tannins. Well integrated flavors of dark cherry, plum and spice with a touch of chocolate. Earthy notes of forest floor make for an intriguing finish. Buy This Wine.

Apr 022014
Giordano WineGiordano Fiano i.g.t. 2012, Apuliae Collection, Puglia, Italy, $11 (S) – Rating 90

A superb crisp patio sipper. Reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc in texture and mouth-feel. Floral aromas combine with notes of Meyer lemon creme and ripe pineapple are enticing. Light-bodied with juicy acidity. Flavors of Meyer lemon, tangerine and green apple. Think sunny Saturday afternoon with friends. Will pair well with lighter fare, salads and creamy cheeses. The 2011 vintage was a Gold Medal winner.  Buy This Wine

Apr 022014

Last October we attended a wonderful event, Pinot on the River, on the town square in Healdsburg. It is a Pinot Noir lover’s dream, featuring over 100 of Sonoma’s best Pinot producers. As you’d expect, we tasted some amazing wine and met some outstanding winemakers.

Bucher Vineyard

John and Diane Bucher

As the afternoon crowd dwindles towards the end of the event, the buzz begins from those in the know. Some of the loudest buzz was around Bucher Vineyard, a 38 acre vineyard in the Russian River Valley, not far from Healdsburg. Single vineyard designated Bucher Vineyard Pinot Noirs have been created by some of the most renown Sonoma vintners, including Williams Selyem, Siduri Wines, Papapietro Perry, Arista, HoldredgeC. Donatiello Winery, and Thralls Family Cellars.

While I was familiar with the vineyard name and the wines made by other producers, the buzz was actually about the wines under the new Bucher Vineyard label. So we had to check them out. I must say they were indeed buzz-worthy. Just a day later we spent a few relaxing hours with John and Diane Bucher at their home on their 360 acre ranch which includes the vineyard and a 700 head organic dairy farm.

John’s parents, immigrants from Switzerland, purchased the acreage in the 1950’s to create a dairy farm. Interestingly, there were vineyards on the property, but they were torn out to make room for the dairy operation. John began running the farm after his graduation from UC Davis in 1984. Vineyard planting began in 1997 and now includes a section aptly named the 360 vineyard, a respectful nod to the original vineyard removed in the ’50’s. Winemaker Adam Lee of Siduru says the location “makes the wines a bit different and unique from their neighbors just south” on Westside Road in the Russian River Valley. Thralls Family Wines owner and winemaker, Ed Thralls states, “John is a meticulous farmer who understands wine growing, Pinot Noir and is willing to work with winemakers to grow the highest-quality fruit possible.”

Bucher Vineyard

The Patio view…Perfect for tasting

Our visit to Bucher Vineyards was reminiscent of our first visits to Sonoma in the early 1980’s. No fancy tasting room…actually, no tasting room at all. We drove along the dairy farm fence and up a short climb to the Bucher’s ranch style house where we were met by John and Diane. Both are warm and friendly. Since the weather was ideal we began our tasting and tour on their back patio with an expansive view across the Russian River Valley.

I was very interested in seeing the Bucher’s acclaimed vineyard, so we jumped in their vehicle and took a short ride across the property. The first thing I noticed was that different blocks in the vineyard were planted at different angles and in different directions. John explained that this was done so that each block could take advantage of the soils, hillside and sun orientation. Special care was taken to choose the right Pinot Noir clone for each panting. Diane Bucher explained, “Our 40 acres of vineyard are comprised of a variety of clones, root stocks, terrain, soil types and row directions.  No cookie cutter vineyard management here.” Adam Lee offers that much of the Russian River valley is flat space including old river bed areas “but the type of hills that Bucher has are special.”

Pinot Noir VineyardParts of the dairy farm are visible from the vineyard, making a compelling contrast. There is a definite separation, however. While Bucher vineyard employs any number of organic and sustainable farming techniques, the vineyard is not certified organic. Therefore a defined distance must separate the vineyard from the certified organic dairy farm so nothing will endanger the dairy operation’s organic status.

We returned to the Bucher’s patio to taste the wines. Read reviews of these outsanding here. The wines are made by Adam Lee of Siduri at the direction of John and Diane. When asked about the difference between Bucher Vineyard Pinot and Siduri’s Bucher Vineyard Pinot, Adam said, “John chooses all of the picking dates for his own wine, so to call me winemaker is a bit of stretch.  We make the wine for John, in consultation with him, but by directing the farming for his sections and picking dates he is really the one dictating the style….John tends to pick earlier than we do by a bit…but from a wine style point of view, John and Diane tend to want a somewhat lighter, somewhat more elegant wine.”

Bucher Vineyards

Fall Vine Colors

The tasting experience itself is the way I wish more tastings were, intimate and personal. John and Diane’s passion for their exceptional wines, beautiful vineyards and dairy farm are all evident. As Diane said, “Our visitors are drawn to the history of the farm, our dedication to Sonoma County and agriculture, and our commitment producing the highest quality products. And with some outstanding 2012 Pinots in the bottle and fantastic 13’s in the barrel, there is plenty of wine to be tasted and discussed.”

We encourage you to visit Bucher Vineyards and spend some time with John and Diane. The wine is exciting, the people delightful and the views are spectacular. The Buchers offer private tours at the vineyard by appointment from March through November, but have a limited schedule during the harvest season. If you are interested in a vineyard tour and tasting, please contact Diane at 707-484-5162 or

Mar 262014

“…Good company, good wine, good welcome, can make good people.” William Shakespeare, Henry VIII – 1613

“All good things must come to an end.” Geoffrey Chaucer – 1374

My emotions are today ranging from melancholy to near sadness. The Buddhist in me is reminded that attachment only causes pain. But for all my human failings, I find myself attached to what was and feeling some modicum of pain.

Tonight we will be attending a celebration of sorts, or maybe more like a wake. For tonight marks the closing of the place we thought of as our second living room, our other home and extended family, CRU Wine Bar in Park Meadows. Our Cheers Bar, if you will. Before you roll your eyes and judge, I encourage you to read on about this wonderful little wine bar that lost its lease because the mall property owner preferred to move in a high volume chain steak house. What once was interesting is now becoming another cookie-cutter experience. CRU is not the first victim as leases have come up for renewal. No doubt the little wine bar could never generate the rental revenue of the newer high volume tenants…but not all food and wine options need to cater to manic disengaged crowds when there is space for the large and intimate alike. Continue reading »

Mar 252014
Macauley Chardonnay 2012 – Dutton Ranch, Russian River Valley, CA, $48  – Rating 91

Limited production of only 180 cases. Fermented sur lie in equal parts concrete, stainless steel and neutral oak barrels. In the glass, a rich golden hue with aromas of red apple, citrus and baking spice. A balanced mouth-feel offering enough crisp acidity to food pair or enjoy solo. Flavors of red apple, pear and tropicals with just a hint of lime, spice and minerality. Pleasant notes of grilled pineapple and citrus on the long finish. Buy This Wine