TERROIRmapThis last October I was fortunate enough to visit the Prosecco producing region of Conegliano Valdobbiadene for their annual Prosecco Festival in the ancient town of Conegliano.  The term ancient town could apply to any town in Italy, but there are parts of the town that are prehistoric with archaeological proof of human inhabitants as early as 4000 BC.  This being said it has been our commitment to you to visit every region and winery we offer on the website to personally guarantee the quality of the wine we collectively enjoy.  The Festival was the best opportunity to evaluate over 300 individual Proseccos…..a daunting but fantastic three days.

IMG 2119Proseccos are enjoying a major surge in popularity here in the states, as well as continued popularity throughout Europe.  My favorite summer wine refreshment especially at lunch is a combination of Prosecco and Campari—many prefer Aperol instead, but both go well with a slice of orange.  As many of you know this is called a spritz in Italy.  Prosecco, like champagne has become a year round favorite.

IMG 2088Conegliano and Valdobbiadene are actually two towns that anchor different ends of the “Prosecco Highway” a 26KM narrow grape growing region that is the only Terroir officially designated(not unlike Champagne)  to produce Prosecco. The wine road is in the Province of Treviso and is considered the oldest “wine road” in Italy with grape plants that predate the Roman occupation. This comprises a wide range of hills that slope down in a discontinuous sequence from the rampart formed by the foothills of the Alps to the banks of the river Piave.  The soils physical and chemical composition, the abundance of water, the location sheltered from cold and the being mostly south facing exposure creates an ideal habitat to grow vines.  Altitude ranges from 50 to 500 meters. I will refer back to this later when we look specifically at the slopes of Oregon’s pinot growing regions.  This terroir is the DOC (Denominazation di origine controllata) designated by the Italian government to label a wine Prosecco. AOC in France, AVA to some degree in the US.

The Grape: Although the grape or varieties of the grape go back to pre-Roman occupation, the grape as of 2009 is officially called Glera.  At this time the Agricultural Ministry of Italy designated the area DOCG the highest rating attributed to wine producing regions—only 40 such regions exist in Italy.  Prosecco can be blended with no more than 15% of other grapes that have existed in the region for centuries.

IMG 2083The berry’s distinguishing feature is its warm golden yellow hue, which makes the grapes stand out against the bright green vine leaves.

The Soil: generally a mixture of limestone, clay, marl and marine sandstone.  The soil and the temperate climate make this the ideal terroir for cultivating the Glera grape.
- Rob
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TERROIR - Part One

Grapevine 2No doubt there has been more written on this subject than any other in the lexicon of wine fact and sometimes mythology. Like any human endeavor to control nature and ultimately production, it is both indowned with the holy and the profane, money and spirituality,   great truth and sometimes absurd proclamations;   It is often uttered in hushed tones as if it evokes a blessing, or casually included as just one of the tools for producing a truly wonderful bottle of wine.  It is also about money and prestige,  

I recently had a impromptu conversation with a wine broker in the lobby of a Hotel in Avignon.  He was actually taking the opposite view of the importance of Terroir but at the same time not deviating much from the common sense of the word itself.  Using his shoe he outlined one of the tiles on the lobby floor and said here are the boudaries of the Chateauneuf- Du-Pape Controlle. And this tile immediately adjacent is a vineyard of a very fine Rhone Red. To his thinking they were equally as satisfying and as they were, significantly different in price. One being 25 euros the other 130 euros. This thin line that separated the Du Pape from the Rhone was literally that, and a thin line or at most a stone wall….a couple meters between a 130 euro bottle of wine and a 25 euro bottle of wine, no matter what the rating.  (add photo of wall between two plots of the same vineyard ) Caption:  Different parcels of pinots noir appellation by the same producer with literally a hundred dollars difference in price separated by less than a meter.

RobJ 2Recently we visited Domaine Famille Picard in the Chassagne –Montrachet region of Bourgogne.  The winery produces fine white boudeux and equally fine pinot noir. Each of their 30 some plots produces a unique wine based clearly on the altitude and the soil content. At the time of our tasting it was difficult to argue with the importance of Terroir as we tasted whites with more or less clay based soils and reds with more mineral base from the higher elevations of their holdings.  These differences alone, in addition to the fruits, spices, other local influences, could be clearly distinguished in each of their fine wines…some portions of the vineyards going back a thousand years.  

We will continue this complex subject in additions to Grapevine in the next few issues.  If you wish to add your thoughts to this ongoing subject please use the comment section of...
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The truth is that there is great satisfaction in being a wine enthusiast.

Grapevine blogimage2Clearly Food and travel are very much an integral part of the pleasures of wine, along with the memorable sharing with friends and family. In addition there are more and more FILMS AND DOCUMENTARIES such as BOTTLE SHOCK, A WALK IN THE CLOUDS and UNCORKED....and of course SIDEWAYS that have enhanced, or at least amused us on our way to the cellar to pick out the perfect....


There are many more and as we come across anything memorable we will give you a head up in GRAPEVINE. Also let us know what your favorites are and why.  We will certainly let our readers know and your critique if you allow.
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rob johnson“It’s a hard grape to grow …..Pinot needs constant attention….it only grows in these specific littlre tucked away corners of the world and only the most patient and nurturing of growers can do it….the flavors are the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and ancient on the planet”

From the movie SIDEWAYS, LLC is a direct to consumer resource for those who enjoy the finest Pinots from around the world. is dedicated to finding and sharing select, distinctive, and terroir focused wines from Oregon, California, France, and wherever those “tucked away corners of the world” might produce something special that we at Pinotsonly will share with our friends and family.  Located in the heart of Sonoma Valley California, one of the premier Pinot regions of the world, we spend much of our time traveling   directly to the vineyards and wineries from which we source our wines for you.

We started over 5 years ago but have carefully developed a direct to consumer concept that exceeds other on line retailers.  Focusing on limited wineries that have produced exceptional wines over time, Rob personally chooses all the wines and has not released them to the public till now.  Many of the wines are completely sold out at other retailers.  All of the wines have been carefully stored at a certified and bonded wine storage center in Sonoma County with a long and excellent reputation.  

Rob lived in Oregon for many years where he developed a passion for Pinots, but traveled extensively to Sonoma, Italy and France.  Rob now lives half the year in Bologna , Italy where he is busy acquiring wines for the other specialty brands that will soon be launched (see home page)., LLC is located in Santa Rosa, California. Please join us in celebrating the “most haunting and brilliant and subtle and ancient on the planet”

And look for additional educational and other articles of interest for any of us that love Pinot Noirs from anywhere in the world.
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