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WineSpeed with Karen MacNeil | Cristom Vineyards

Veteran wine writer Karen MacNeil shares insights with subscribers in her weekly newsletter, WineSpeed

Veteran wine writer Karen MacNeil shares insights with subscribers in her weekly newsletter, WineSpeed. Read excerpts from this week’s edition below.


(Ella-Amity Hills, Willamette Valley, Oregon) $60 (750ml)

The most delicate Oregon pinot noirs are like watercolors in a world of oil paintings. Ethereal and fragile, they seemed feather-brushed onto the canvas of flavor. Cristom’s five pinot noirs are all like this, but the one I find most nuanced is the pinot from “Jessie’s Vineyard” with its notes of cranberry, tea and exotic spices. Surprisingly light on the palate, it feels like something made by angels rather than guys in work boots. When you’re in the mood for a wine that’s more quiet class than Kardashian, this could be it. (13.5% abv)

90 points KM

Available at Cristom Vineyards

Which of the following events did NOT happen in 1973?
A. Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux got promoted to First Growth status.
B. Sutter Home launched the first white zinfandel.
C. Wine of Origin in South Africa was introduced.
D. Marlborough’s first sauvignon blanc vines were planted.

Scroll down for the answer!

“A ‘frappé is a drink at McDonald’s. Starbucks does not have ‘frappés. If you order a ‘frappé instead of a Frappuccino, you will sound stupid, and your barista will judge you, no questions asked.”

—Starbuck’s barista Brian Beckwith as quoted in Spoonuniversity.com. Whew. Who says somms are snooty?


One of the historic, tiny villages in the Mâconnais region of Burgundy is called Chardonnay. The name is derived from the Latin cardonnacum, which in turn comes from carduus, “a place with thistles.” Interestingly, during the Roman era, a nobleman named Cardus is also thought to have owned the area where the village now exists. The village of Chardonnay and the surrounding Mâconnais region may indeed be where chardonnay was born as a natural crossing. DNA typing reveals chardonnay’s parents to be the red grape pinot noir and the white grape gouais blanc.


A type of large, rolled stone that is commonly found in the soils of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The stones and rocks which range from fist-size to the size of a small pumpkin, are the remnants of ancient Alpine glaciers. The stones not only retain heat and hasten ripening but also protect the ground from becoming parched and dry by helping hold moisture in the soil.

B.Many significant wine related events happened globally in 1973, but the creation of white zinfandel wasn’t among them. California’s Sutter Home actually introduced white zin the year before—in 1972. It wasn’t until 1975, however, that white zinfandel became the sweetish wine it is today. In that year, Sutter Home accidentally “discovered” the off-dry style of white zin thanks to a stuck fermentation. The very large producers Beringer and Woodbridge introduced their white zins soon after.


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