Thoughts on "Pinot Rocks" by Michael Browne

Monday, November 23, 2020

I recently enjoyed listening to Michael Browne's Pinot Rocks: A Winding Journey through Intense Elegance on Audible. As someone who has closely followed (and appreciated) Michael Browne's wines from Kosta Browne to CIRQ and now CHEV I thought it was fascinating.

The book expands on the simplified tale of Michael and Dan Kosta pooling their tips and starting a winery while bussing tables at John Ash & Co, providing meaningful insight into "the Kosta Browne way". It captures well how much goes into not only producing fine wines, but marketing them and giving consumers a reason to buy your wines.

The book mostly focuses on Kosta Browne but also touches on newer projects under the Browne Family Wines banner: CIRQ and CHEV. I last visited as CIRQ (~$150/btl) was just launching and had a chance to taste in the Treehouse Vineyard itself. CIRQ is focused exclusively on estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. I hear they're finishing up an estate winery that, knowing how they do things, would make for a very cool visit when possible.

More recently, Browne has introduced another brand called CHEV. The inaugural bottlings are Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but from the branding info on their site it sounds like they're reserving the right to work with grapes from other regions.

I was impressed with the CHEV Pinot Noir that recent arrived, both in terms of the quality of the wine but the attention to detail in the packaging. After hearing in the book how important every aspect of the wine experience is to Browne I appreciated it even more.

The CHEV Pinot carries its $80 release price and then some. It's not as big as Kosta Browne was in its biggest years, but drinks absolutely gorgeously. Pure California Pinot Noir and exactly what Browne is going for: Intense Elegance.
If you've enjoyed Kosta Browne wines over the years and are interested in hearing the story behind how they came to be I think you'd like the book. It's also great if you're interested in luxury brand development in any industry.

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