Wine Situation Final Five (Now With Drunk Dialing!)

The Wine Situation hosts everyone from winemakers to writers to find out what a person’s situation is…with wine. It’s the solo season, as host Ellen Clifford is in quarantine, but listen in with a glass, and nobody is drinking alone! In lieu of guests, at the end of every action packed episode Ellen is phoning a friend with her Final Five questions. This week Ellen talks to Michael Browne, author of “Pinot Rocks” and the winemaker behind Kosta Browne, CIRQ, and more! Check out the full episode here THE FINAL FIVE (Ever so slightly edited for length!): QUESTION ONE Ellen: Question number one—hard hitting journalism: whatcha drinking these days? Michael: Diet Coke, green tea, iced, and occasionally a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot . QUESTION TWO Ellen: Question number two, given your circus history, what wine would you pair with going to the circus? Michael: Oh, maybe some Mad Dog 2020…I don’t know, it’s more a family affair than anything else so I think maybe something like a German Riesling or something, something with some flair and pizzazz, right? Some sparkling acidity, a few flairs going off, you know what I’m saying? Or maybe a Sancerre or something like that. QUESTION THREE Ellen: Question three, I had such fun reading about your experiments with measuring grams of gunpowder and exploding things—have you ever considered going into making sparkling wine? Michael: I’ve thought about it for many many years and my lead guy wants to make some. It’s just a whole different game, you know? You gotta riddle it; do all sorts of things with it. The base wine is pretty simple because you pick it pretty early and it typically goes dry pretty quickly, but then you have to put it in bottles and riddle it to make sure the salts all come to the neck and then…it’s out there but someday I would love to because I love bubbles, who doesn’t? We all love the bubbles. QUESTION FOUR: Ellen: Question number four: in your book you talk about how when you were first getting into winemaking and were enchanted with Pinot Noir and you found that, Pinot people were exploratory. I was wondering if now that Pinot Noir is more in the mainstream if there is a region or type of wine or grape you see as the thing you see exploratory people gravitating towards. Michael: So first of all, Pinot Noir is very difficult to make and what I’ve come to understand is it’s not really that difficult to make, it’s just a different process than, say, Cabernet . You have to be very delicate with it, you have to kind of leave it alone and let her be who she’s going to be. And farming Pinot is very difficult, so that’s where I think the talent comes in with our growers and vineyard managers because it’s very fickle. And then we’ll bring the grapes in and we have different methods, we’ll do concrete fermentation, a little bit of stainless steel, wood tank fermentation, and then we have a variety of barrels as well. We’ll do some whole cluster here and there…what I say is once we pick the grapes the song has been written—because I’m a music guy and I like analogies—in the winery then we can add instruments to that song, but you have to be careful. Too much bass tones, too much high tones, mid-tones…but I’m really a texture guy so with Pinot Noir you can get some really fantastic velvety textures, and I really like that. And so based on your question...what else is out there that is kind of like that, is that your question? Ellen: Yeah, or is there something you’ve noticed people that have a curiosity to explore like, something similar? Michael: I think people go for the, I don’t want to say the norm, but you know, the Cabernets, the Zinfandels , Chardonnays , Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and then you get into the Grenaches of the world, the Rieslings of the world…but how I look at it is, it’s a huge candy store all over the world, and you can dive into any of these countries around the world and find really spectacular stuff that you wouldn’t think was out there. QUESTION FIVE Ellen: The last of the five questions is just what we’ve been asking people since the beginning of the show—just, what’s bringing you joy these days? Michael: What pops into my mind is my family. I have a lovely wife, three beautiful children, two dogs, which I love to death—they’re kind of a pain sometimes—a hundred pound German shepherd and thirty pound corgi and when they bark the whole house kind of shakes, but I love them… and that for me is family… and my dad and that’s what brings me joy. And also being able to be creative in my profession, whether it’s with farming, or making wine, or packaging, or anything like that. That is something I really, really enjoy because it is not the normal thing to be able to do, but I’m free to do it, how I want to do it now. And then to be around other people that are creative, whether they’re musicians or chefs, artists, or craftsmen of different sorts, and I just love that whole pool of people because they’re doing it not to make a million bucks, they’re doing it because they love it. *** You can look for Michael’s book, “Pinot Rocks”, and listen to William Shatner read it, on Amazon, or look for CIRQ, Chev, and Browne Family Wines to taste his wine! Cheers! Check out the previous Wine Situation podcast with Katherine Jarvis here .

Kosta Browne

Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2017

Very well made wine great red fruits and acidity and some soft tannins. — 3 years ago

Ellie K
with Ellie
Shay, Eric and 5 others liked this


Treehouse Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012

Mauro Enfield

Crowd pleaser. Def ripe and rich. Tons of fruit. — 3 years ago

Matt liked this


Bootlegger's Hill Pinot Noir 2013

medium reddish purple; black cherry, plum, licorice, baking spices; sappy, dark berry compote; full bodied, fine tannins, 14.5% ABV; aged in 55% new French oak , small amount in concrete egg, inaugural vintage from the vineyard; project of Michael Browne of Kosta Browne, style typical of Russian River Valley and Kosta Browne, bigger and darker than the Treehouse bottling — 4 years ago

Shay liked this

Domaine Frederic Sornin

Les Monthieux Beaujolais Lantignié Nature Chardonnay 2018

Elegant but full. Honeysuckle and seashells and fun. — 3 years ago

Paul, Eric and 11 others liked this


Sonoma County Pinot Noir 2018

Rich n ripe but there’s good earth and spice in here too. Is this wine every woman? Not quite but it has something going on...and the name and label are at least goth-adjacent so I’m into it. — 3 years ago

Eric, Paul and 13 others liked this

Kosta Browne

Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2013

Always delivers. Big and bold flavors. Plums, strawberries and cranberries. Dense Russian River style. — 4 years ago

Shay liked this

Dr. Loosen

Dr. L Sparkling Riesling

Chill Whole Foods buy. Only a hint of sweet. Goes with spicy potatoes and Sisters of Mercy songs. — 3 years ago

Eric, Paul and 14 others liked this

Kosta Browne

One Sixteen Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2017

Tried this twice. Pale golden color, complex aging, 34% new French oak-15 months, 30% stainless-4 months; 18% in Foudre for 9 months; rest concrete egg for 14 months. Aromas of stone fruits, oak, nuts, floral and spice. On the palate flavors of peach and pear with honeysuckle, integrated toasty oak and nice citrus tang. Long finish, ending with a wet stone mineral character. Outstanding! Will age well! — 3 years ago

Daniel P., Clive and 1 other liked this


Treehouse Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016

Mike R

Love this wine and I thought just a slight improvement over the bootlegger - bravo Michael — 4 years ago

Mike, Hugh and 30 others liked this