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“Any change, even a change for the better, is always
accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” – Arnold Bennett
Many times in the course of selling wine to the public I find that the average vino-sapien is quite opposed to change. They want the same "Wine-Experience" over and over and when I do offer an alternative like the wine you see in the picture above, they run away shrieking in horror.
All because they just can't not imagine taking wine-risk and they run willy-nilly back to the comfort of the same formulaic brand that they are use to. That to me is one of the saddest things I hear coming from the lips of folks who I know dig wine like I do, but they're just too scared to venture through the door of discovery, hell they won't even dip a toe in the pool. For crying-out-loud people it's just a bottle of wine, not a life-time altering event.
I popped the cork on this rustic beauty just last night a delicious classic style of Chianti Classico; which went [paired] amazingly well with a gorgeous classic Margherita Pizza Mrs. Cuvee and I dined upon last night.
The wine was the perfect
accompaniment, just playing some nice base tones in the background and at the
same time enhancing the experience. The wine sells most places for a SRP of $20
and I gave it a score of 90 points making it a QPR star.
It’s sad, but most folks have almost knee jerk
reaction to Chianti, they think of the wicker basket bottles, but don't let
that false perception stop you because those same wines have evolved far past that point. If anyone will just take the time to investigate, they'll find many very good
producers who I know if given the chance, will help change many minds and hearts about these very tasty, yet truly
authentic Tuscan wines.
The Poggio Basso is a well executed wine with
has "classic" written all over it, 100% Sangiovese goodness from the
first splash in my glass to the very last drop. A stinky nose, whichmade me thinkrich
dry earth, cracked, sun-beaten leather and fruit all came together at some point. After the first
splash, polished tannins, dried fruits reminding me of dark plums dark
red-cherries and, yes you could taste the pit.
A small factoid about Italy’s most planted grape known as Sangiovese. It’s a small [smaller
the better] dark-berried grape and, one that has really become synonymous with
the majority of the red wines from the Tuscanyregion. But of course not everyone
plants the same clone of Sangiovese, so that said never forget clonesmatter.
Weighing in at just 13%
abv and nicely textured, it made for the perfect food pairing wine. While we
chose pizza, I could imagine seeing this wine pair nicely with large variety
Italian recipes. Until next folks remember sip long and prosper cheers!
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discovery of a wine is of greater moment than the discovery of a constellation. ~ Benjamin Franklin
The voyage of discovery is a fun experience in and of itself, but add to fact, the discovery of finding great new wines makes the trip all the merrier. But for many the cost of wine-discovery can add up quite quickly, so many opt to just stay home and drink the same wines they have always enjoyed.
But what if I told, there was a way to get some complimentary wine-tastings in a great location known and loved by many, called Sonoma County. Would you hoot, would you holler or perhaps just load up the wine-wagon with friends and family and make your way out to wine-country for the weekend?
I'm thinking that you in fact would find a-way to free-up sometime on that busy work-free weekend. So here's the good-news; Visa Signature and Sonoma County Vintners offer cardholders the
following year-round benefits at over 60 select Sonoma wineries:*
- Two unique complimentary tastings per cardholder
- Savings on wine purchased same day in Tasting Room and non-wine purchases
- Savings on Reserve tastings and special wine-and-food pairings.
- Complimentary tasting details and benefits vary by winery and you may wish to call ahead to confirm winery benefits.
So if you happen to have a Visa Signature Card* then you are luck; as any cardholder is going to
be able to get a sip of the good life for free. Yep you heard me right
"free", however see their website
for complete details [because restrictions do apply].
To make this great offer, even easier there's a printable map
which directs you to all the participating wineries. With over 60 included on the
list; I'm pretty sure you'll find one that floats your boat. After quickly perusing the list;
I see many of my favorites like Rodney Strong, Roth, Rued, Seghesio and Twomey
Cellars to name a few.
Seems like a pretty good deal for the wandering
wino and great way to kick-off what might otherwise be just a dull weekend. So
your get your empty glass over
to Sonoma and
give those wines a swirl.
The weather is perfect right now and again it's a
great time to hang in Sonoma
County. While you're
there, I would recommend having lunch or dinner at the The
Girl and the Fig a fun
gastronomical experience not to be missed. So until next time sip long and prosper
Wine Enthusiast 4-Pc. Fusion Infinity Pinot Noir Wine Glass Set
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“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is
the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill
I'm fortunate to work at one of San Diego's very best and newestwine shops, located what I like to say is a stones throw away from the beach in the Bird Rock area of La Jolla, the shop is called Bird Rock Fine Wine.If you've not been there and you consider yourself akeen vino-sapien, than you owe it to yourself to stop by for visit.
I say fortunate becasue I've been able to give up writing about or have the need to accept samples for my blog. I get to taste so many different wines week to week, thatI honestly have enough material for hundreds of reviews. To be quite honest it's greatly liberating to say the least; I write about the wines that come into the shop [or the wines I buy] as I see fit, without a need to worry about agendas.
But as quickly as that was said, in the course of #WineStudio and/or #WineChat activities wine samples will be accepted via Protocol Wine Studio for the purpose of exploring the wines provided by guests appearing in either of thosevenues. I hope folks will continue to join us via twitter on either of those nights for our fun, fasinating and to me very informative conversations.
Now about the wine in today's spotlight from a producer I've long admired and one I think everyone in the wine-community should know about and support via wine purchases. They're a relatively new producer known as Bruliam Wines, where indeed as their motto indicates "Wine is Elemential" an idea tasted in each new release. You may also be surprised to find out that 100% of their profits goes to charity, if you'd like to know more than I'd encourage to find out more here.
Having spoken with many winemakers this year and last up and down the west coast, I've come away with one conclusion that 2011 is going to be tough vintage for many producers. If you recall here in San Diego, 2011 was the year we reallydid not have a summer, it was cloudy and gray all for nearly the entire year.As 2011 starts to makeits way to the shelves of your favorite wine store, means paying closer attention to the critics to find the gems is good advice.
Which is why I wanted to highlight this bottle for you, because this folks is one of the gems from 2011 thatshould score for your own cellar. The Gap’s Crown, a Sonoma Coast vineyard which also supplies Pinot Noir to top producers like Kosta Browne and others.
Infact winemaker Michael Browne[of Kosta Browne] stated thatthe fruit from this vineyard [Gap's Crown] siteis "the backbone" of theirSonoma Coast Pinot Noir. A vineyard easily located in the "Petaluma Gap"of Sonoma County; which in fact was reported tohavesold earlier this year foran aveage of100K an acre, an incredible threshold to have reached in so short of time.
So even in tough vintages like 2011, it's still entirely possible to make fantastic wines, but with an entirely different expression than you may be use to in the warmer years. A different expression is you have in this Bruliam 2011 Gap's Crown Pinot Noir, an elegant, but at the same time powerful expression of Pinot Noir.I'm giving this wine 93 points, it's an outstanding representation of the quality this vineyard has to offer.
Lovely floral aromas stream easily from the glass, this is a richly textured wine, beaming with bright red-berry fruit, a hint of tea leaves and well rounded tannins. It's a wine I'd lay down for bit, as you wittle away some the 09's you may have socked away already.
Kerith Overstreet [winemaker], did a masterful job in this effort and, it was great seeing her again at Bird Rock Fine Wine the other day. Presently there are two of her other wines on the shelves, one is amazing Rock Pile Zin, and from what I hear, that is the last of the lot to be found anywhere.
If you live in San Diego and you'd like to taste some of wines dicussed in this article, than you my friends are luck. They're having a Spring Release party, so if you're interested there's still time to register for the event.
The price of wine will depend how many cases of it's purchased and/or deals that may have been struck, but remember no matter the price you pay, 100% of the proceeds go to charity. Until next time folks remember sip long and prosper cheers!
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Burgundy makes you think of silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk of them and Champagne makes you do them. ~
When I purchased these wines the other day
[the one you see pictured above and the one just below] Ken, the store owner
asked me if I had an addictive personality. I hastily replied "no not
really, but why do you ask" he said "because once you put two feet inside
the door of Burgundy, it's hard to find your way back" a word to the wise, perhaps.
His question did give me some pause, but I
assured him that, "no-no I'm just an explorer on the vine-covered
trail" and that this excursion would be no different than any of many
others I've taken before. But his admonition got me thinking, are those possibly famous last
words [gulp] in light of having been awe-struck by both bottles in very
different ways. I'm already considering replenishing those two bottles.
The 2009 Les Longeroies seen above is the
third wine from Marsannay, whichI've experienced in just the last few weeks. This bottlewhile
not expensive, a mere $27 was no slouch in the delicious category. A wine
boasting of the rich, ripe fruit [but not flabby] many of wines of this vintage experienced, a
wine, that while very exuberant in style, it had a nice counter balance of
acidity driving the wine home. I scored this wine 90 points, it's highly
The color of the surprised me a bit,
thinking it would look lighter, but in the glass it looked like a ripe summer
plum. Mrs. Cuvee and I paired this beauty with a freshly baked Shepard's Pie,
our ticket to tasty town.
As you can see from the map above both
wines are from nearly both ends of the Burgundian spectrum Marsannay in the
north and Chassagne-Montrachet in the south. In the southern end of Burgundy is where you
[surprisingly to some] find the majority of the white-Burgundy coming from and
in the north is where most of the red-Burgundy is found. It does seem a bit
counter intuitive, but nonetheless that is the case.
As many of already know
Chassagne-Montrachet is in the Côte de Beaune and, is famous for its great
white-wines [Chardonnay]. The most famous of these is of course Montrachet,
known to many as the king of white wines, seeing these wines can fetch some
While 60% of the production is
white-wines, that leaves a good percentage red-wines [Pinot Noir] produced here
that cannot compete with their northern neighbors. But while they may not be
able to compete, these wines are no slouch, especially in great vintages like
2009 and 2010. Of course, that fact will greatly benefit the average vino-sapien looking for reasonably priced Burgundy.
To find a Chassagne-Montrachet rouge is pretty rare
in the first place and the price was pretty uncommon as well [under $25].
Seeing most of the white wines bearing this appellation name typically sell for
prices much more than what I paid for the bottle you see pictured below.
This [2010 Chassagne-Montrachet] wine was very
light in color, more like a light cranberry/strawberry. The nose jumped from
the glass right away, fresh summer strawberries, raspberry puree, rich-earth,
dried-florals and even a whiff of rhubarb. I didn't want to take my nose away
even to grab my first slurp, but I resisted, dove right in and wow everything I
experience in the nose exploded across my palate like a broad-side from a
pirate-ship of old.
This wine danced to the tune of sweet cherry-pie
and threw in some crushed stone just for good measure. I was completely taken
by this wines power and strength, but I was done in by its finesse. Wow, what a
thrill ride where the price of admission, has you saying like a six-year at
Disney-Land "can I do that again, can I huh, please". My score for
this wine is 92 points.
I didn't have to spend to much coin either, both
wines make for quite the amazing tasting adventure, one I would highly
recommend you taking soon yourself. Mrs. Cuvee was out of town, so yes I took
one for the team and finished the bottle. I paired this wine with baked-salmon,
a freshly chopped spinach salad and a mushroom risotto.
Until next time folks remember to slurp long and
Full Disclosure: Neither of the wines above was
given to me as a sample, both were paid for via my own funds.
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“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
travel article written by guest contributor; Pascale
Bernasse, president of French Wine Explorers and, a great source for
planning authentic wine and culinary experiences in France. You can also follow
them via twitter @FrWineExplorers
region famously well known for its fine wine, it also offers so much more. The
summer travel season is nearly upon us, so we'd like to give you our top ten reasons
to plan a tour to Bordeaux
and find out why this region is so much more than just grapes to glass.
1. Try the wine: Bordeaux produces many types of wine, from
dry whites to dessert whites, reds, rosés, and even effervescent wines (crémant).
Some of the most prestigious estates of the world are located in Bordeaux. The region does
not only produce grand crus or expensive wines; in fact, those wines account
for only 2% of the overall production of the region! So there are many
opportunities to discover a few new favorites to add to your cellar.
the city of Bordeaux:The city of less than
300,000 people is easy to navigate and is one of our favorite cities in France. The
historic center boasts 18th century architecture and rivals Paris
for the most historical monuments in France. A Unesco World Heritage
Site with over 340 historic monuments, a city center that is modern and clean,
and plenty of great restaurants and shopping make Bordeaux attractive for all.
3. Visit St. Emilion: The picturesque village of St. Emilion
is located on the Right Bank of the Garonne.
Merlot is king on the Right Bank with the
appellation of Saint Emilion and its satellites, Pomerol and Lalande-de-Pomerol.
Saint Emilion has some of Bordeaux’s
oldest vineyards, producing well-structured wines with great character from a
judicious blending of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes. And
you can discover the lovely medieval village
of Saint Emilion, a
UNESCO World Heritage Site, its monuments, many shops and galleries (including
some of the region’s best wine shops).
4. Sip and Spa: Indulge in a vino-therapy spa set
to renew and relax. Vino-therapy is a beauty therapy process where the residue
of wine making (the pips and pulp) is rubbed into the skin. The pulp is said to
have excellent exfoliating qualities and help reduce the problems associated
5. Try the whites: If you say Bordeaux to most folks right away they think
of red wines, aging in barrels sitting in great Chateaus. But don’t forget
about Sauvignon Blanc, it is the primary grape variety for the dry white wines
Sauvignon Blanc is also sensitive to noble rot, so it marries well with
Semillon in the great sweet wines of Sauternes. It produces wines which are
crisp, clean and medium-bodied.
6. Go to school: There is no better way to discover
the culinary delights of Bordeaux
than a hands-on cooking class. Different options are available, from a 2 hour
class at the Pressoir d'Argent with a Michelin starred chef, to a full week of
discovering the markets, vendors and creations that are unique to the area,
such as canneles, a sweet brioche style pastry, or the entrecote a la
bordelaise, grilled steak topped with a reduction of red wine sauce.
7. A different perspective: Imagine cycling amongst
picturesque routes dotted with vines, stopping along the way to take a break
from biking and unwind while savoring your new wine discoveries. The area is
relatively easy to ride which is practical for the weekend rider and tours
lasting 2 hours to a week are available.
8. Go to market: Something for every taste; try the
Capucins, where restaurateurs and caterers shop with the locals in the heart of
6a-1p). And in Libourne near St. Emilion; holds a great open-air market of
fresh produce on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sunday. This market (and the indoor
market featuring specialty goods) has all the charm of the outdoor farmers'
markets found in Provence.
9. Life’s a beach: The Dune of Pyla, the largest
sand dune in Europe, is located about 40 miles from Bordeaux, in the Arcachon area. Climb the top
of the dune and revel in the amazing views of the area. The Dune of Pyla is
also famous for paragliding and the multicolored sails floating in the sky are
worth the detour.
10. Eat like the natives: Bordeaux
has many wonderful Michelin starred restaurants, such as Cordeillan Bages in
Pauillac, Hostellerie de Plaisance in St. Emilion, Le Chapon Fin in Bordeaux, and low country favorites such as La Tupina in Bordeaux and Le St.
Julien in St. Julien. Beef, lamb, duck, foie gras and seafood are local
specialties and are perfect with the wines of the region.
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Well the plain truth is
this, at the moment I don't have a drop of vino flowing through my system.
But that will change very shortly as it's nearly time to jump
into the #winestudio to taste a gem from Croatia. Now that said a word about
this wine of the week, wow! No really that was my first impression, a wine with serious substance.
Soon as you pop the cork it's ready to come out and meet you, shake your hand,
wearing a beret, poodle by its side, blowing dust off the bottle, saying
"Welcome to Burgundy". All of that without the long plane fight or the need to
have your passport stamped.
Can uncorking a wine really say all of that? Perhaps not, but I'd really like
to think it's so in some odd esoteric fashion or manner. Meanwhile back at the
review, this wine really is quite tasty. I was all about-it, soon as I got a splash
of it in my mouth, this wine has a core of terrific energy.
Beautiful aromas easily escaping from the glass, revealing a very pretty nose, with notes of freshly farmed earth, red rose
petals and ripe red Washington
state cherries. On the palate ripe cherry, plum and a rich earthy quality, nice
weight, structure; plays a compelling note from the first slurp to the last
This great wine comes to you from the amazing Chassagne-Montrachet
region in Burgundy.
It is a village in the Cote de Beaune sub-region of Burgundy which has its own communal appellation, which was established in 1937.
In my opinion, a remarkable amount of wine for the price, a fine example of
plush red Burgundy
I'm scoring 90 points and highly recommending that you give it a swirl for
If you'd like to know a little more background about the driving-force behind Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard (Chassagne-Montrachet) label than meet Jean-Noël’s daughter, Caroline Lestimé who has taken over day-to-day running of the domaine since 1989, you can read her full story at here via the Burgundy Report. They did a great in-depth review of Caroline, the winery and the many other wines it produces. You now also follow her on twitter, @LebonVinBlanc.
If you are thinking that
you'd like to score this wine for yourself, feel free to reach out to the folks
at the Protocol
Wine Studio. or even any other tasty selections from Domaine Jean-Noel Gagnard. They would be
glad to assist you in finding out how to get a few bottles for your own cellar.
So until next time folks remember to sip long and prosper cheer!
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"What's in a name, that which we call a rose? By any other name would smell as sweet" ~ Shakespeare
It will be a bummer to
have left the Burgundy region, five weeks
hardly seems long enough to even begin to scratch the surface but it has been a
fun trip via Wine Studio.
But of course stay
tuned as Wine Studio jumps into a five-week jaunt through the wines and vineyards of
wine scene, with the many nearly unpronounceable names. It's a very good thing
that I won't have any funny failed attempts at pronunciation, thankfully and,
may I even say mercifully I only have to type the names of these interesting
But before we jump
into the next segment of Wine-Studio, I wanted to take a moment to highlight
some of the great wines we've have experienced on this great journey through
what was touted as "fringe" Burgundy.
The wine you see in the picture above is from Marsannay
and if you click the link I've provided you can get a fantastic 180 glimpse of
this amazing region.
The Marsannay Rose
from Bruno Clair, which you see above, is a serious wine. But it does not take
itself too serious when it comes to fun summer-time sipping. This wine shows
plenty of intensity and generosity on the palate, it will wow you great depth
and balance. Baskets of mouth-watering, ripe summer strawberries, rich with minerality, earthiness, await the thirsty vino-sapien
with each sip, slurp and maybe even the eventual gulp.
Clair is best known
for his tantalizing red-wines among Burg-hounds, but the truth be known, even
his whites and the featured Marsannay rose are equally deserving the attention
of even the garden variety vino-sapien.
So put down those common
everyday mass produced screw-capped domestic rosé wines and step-up to wine with real
soul and substance; while at the same time knowing it won't break the bank
If you're interested
in acquiring this wine for yourself and I highly recommend that you do, than
please contact the team at Protocol
Wine Studio and they'll be glad to assist you. Until the next time, please
remember sip long and prosper cheers!
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Wine cheers the sad,
revives the old, inspires the young, and makes weariness forget his toil.
I was both inspired and revived a bit after a long day in the salt-mines after uncorking this great Italian beauty the other night. And you'll be as well if you follow my lead. This wine is both generous and, amazing approachable right out of the chute. No real fuss or muss needed, but I'd recommend decanting for an hour to unlock this wines full potential.
It's a gorgeous blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot; a wine which easily and I'll say effortlessly pair with many types of cuisine. This wine comes locked, cocked and ready to rock, a wine with real soul, substance and great texture. The tannins are well integrated, like the drummer from your favorite band, it rocks!
Gobs of freshly picked red cherries, dark plums and, rich earth which sails gracefully across across your palate, leaving you with a long finish. This wines sell for a SRP of $28 and can still be found in good supply if you know where to look and, my score on this wine is 91 points. Fortunately for those interested I do, so if you want to score a few bottles, please let me know.
Full Disclosure: This wine was NOT a sample, it was purchased with my own cold hard cash via the sweat of my brow. I receive zero incentives if you happen to purchase this wine, I only bring this wine to your attention in the interest of drinking better and, in the hope of broadening your own vinous horizons. So until next time remember to sip long and prosper cheers!
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“Any change, even a change for the better, is always
accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts” – Arnold Bennett
As many of you may know already the reins
of #WineChat are changing hands. I was approached by Marie
Payton [Life of Vines] via email, a
couple of weeks ago and asked if I was perhaps interested in the opportunity to
fill-her-shoes. I wanted to take some time to think it over but, I'll be honest
I was quite interested in the opportunity and so here we are.
But before I say
anything else, I wanted to say to Marie and her co-host Mr. Dave Reynolds you
created something amazing in developing #WineChat making it a force for good in
the wine community and, for that I say thank-you!
Seeing the need
to have some assistance with the effort, I reached out to Protocol Wine Studio's dynamic duo, Eric Guy and Tina Morey. This is a team many of you know
already, from our Monday evening #WineStudio events, the free online
curriculum-based wine education & tasting program and, that will not
as a way of introducing the new #WineChat team, this Wednesday 03/27/2013] it
will be an introductory evening, getting to know the new team and, to learn
more about continuing the conversation. Many folks ask me, hey Bill what is in
it for you or they may wonder about my motivations moving forward?
for me, my answer is simple; my mission is to provide vino-sapiens every where
with current, objective, easily digested content and hopefully even
entertainment about the wonderful world of wine and to provide a place for
continued discovery and exploration.
if any of you have questions and/or concerns about big changes possibly coming
to #WineChat I can say feel rest assured there are no change big format changes
in the wind. Will we endeavor to improve upon what has been built thus far and
hopefully continue to build upon the great relationships that have been built
over the last couple of years.
if you're interested in what lies ahead for #WineChat, stay tuned and please
join us this Wednesday evening as Tina, Eric and I along with all of you
discuss its future. Until next time folks slurp long and prosper cheers!
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“One cannot think well,
love well, and sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ― Virginia Woolf
I would've never
guessed that a bottle of Chablis would be my wine of the week, but yet there it
is, just mocking me, taunting me and not caring one little bit if I thought it
was worthy or not to be the wine of the week.
But yet this it's this very tasty Chablis, which I'm recommending this week. But I do so with a bit of caution; if you're already a
Chablis-convert you possibly could be sadly disappointed in this wine. And why you
ask; because it's produced in a style, one that many would call a modern or
non-traditional. Simply put, this wine is made to appeal to a larger
audience, leaving behind much of its enamel-obliterating, mostly bone-drypersonality behind and,
instead focusing on far more well-rounded appealing qualities.
What are those
qualities? Immediate approachability, a rich-round mouth feel, a vein of
acidity [just not the entire mine] blended nicely with a drop of honey-oil and
fascinating minerality [but not the whole sea-shell collection]. I sampled this wine luke-warm, but with a bit on chill
[very slight] put upon the bottle, its flavors and aromas perked up nicely,
making for a delightful pairing with the fish-tacos from my favorite hole-in-the-wall
place here in San Diego.
So if you'd like to get your hands of a bottle of this fantastic Chablis, here's the place you can getit, enjoy. I scored this wine 90 points, it's not a classic, but it's classically easy to get along with and instantly enjoyable. Until next time folks, sip long and prosper cheers!
Full Disclosure: This is one of the wines featured on the weekly [brand-new] twitter chat-room called #WineStudio. I sampled this wine at the studio and drew my impressions on this wines quality and character from the bottle provided by the folks at Protocol Wine Studio.
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“The world is full of magic things, patiently
waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ― W.B. Yeats
In today's long awaited review is a really well-known [for the wine-geeks who maybe reading this] winery in the Red
Mountain AVA of Washington State, known as Col Solare [translated Shining Hill]. I've hadthe good fortune of visiting them
twice in the last couple of years. Each visit was different and unique. The
first visit here was in 2010 and my second visit came late in 2011.
The reason I've held back on this review; is because my initial
impressions of their wines, really didn't "wow" me like I thought it would or that it possibly could. However, I didn't let that stop me from [recently] acquiring a good
number of their 2006 and 2007 vintages. And when I say recent; I mean it wasn't
until just this year I popped the cork on both vintages once more. This fact is what
brings me to this short mostly pictorial article today and, the why is answered
by a simple yet profound, wow.
For those of you who may not be familiar with this winery, from
a quick look at their website; you’ll find the "Col-Solare" project is a partnership between two influential wine producers. One is from Tuscany,
Marchesi Antinori [one of my favorite Italian producers] and the other Washington State’s Chateau Ste. Michelle [known for producing many tasty value wines].
This partnership came to
fruition in the Red Mountain AVA, which one of the Columbia Valley’s
most celebrated and, jaw-dropping sub-appellations. This AVA; has the right combination
of heat, nutrient-poor soils, low rainfall and cool night temperature swings, which make for the perfect storm of flavor and finesse.
That coupled with boat-loads of concentrated fruit, stunning aromatics, and full tannins,
making for some tasty wines with long aging potential. It would seem from my experience, laying these wines down for a few years before approaching them would be a wise move. If you not sampled their wines before may I suggest that you start with the now stunning 2006 vintage.
As you can see from the image above, Blue Sky, White Earth, Red Mountain. So to say, this is an ideal spot for growing vitis vinifera [aka, the wine bearing grape] would be a huge understatement.
I can attest to hot arid conditions during the day, because the day I was there during the bloggers conference, we got to experience life like a grape with the hot-sun beating down on our faces. But because of the diurnal shift in the night time hours it gives wine grapes bold flavors and good acid.
This is the view from the bottom of the steps; from there you can see clear out to the Horse Heaven Hills in the distance [btw, just on the other side of those hills you'll find Oregon]. Hills, which look set ablaze with a golden orange color at sunrise and, like an old-mans face, a morning fog like shaving cream rest atop the hills just waiting for the razor of hot sun to burn them off [See Below].
You have to wake-up pretty early in the morning to get this view, and be prepared to snap quickly [the picture above was take from Terra Blanca].
The last time I was there, they had some of their 2011 fermenting away in the tank, a very cool year, even on Red Mountain.
I was part of one the tours/taste they offer. Tours, which can be booked via their website, thinking to myself this had to be one thee most immaculate wineries I've ever been to, nothing was out of place. It almost smelled too clean, if there is such a thing.
As you can see the letters are quite large and can be seen easily from afar and, found atop of the massive staircase which takes you up to the very comfy tasting salon.
Now about the wine in my glass, as I mentioned above I did sample both the 2006 and the 2007 at various stages, even sampled the 2007 out of the barrel and at time I thought "hmmm, these wines are very good, but" they just didn't have that wow-factor. But as time went by, in bottle these wines matured and really came into their own; so much so that reading about the current scores of 90+ points, I could not agree more.
In fact I'm echoing their impressions with my own 93 point score on both vintages. These wines are highly recommended to any vino-sapien considering adding Washington State juice to their cellar. Both vintages had real depth of flavor, layered complexity and spoke "terroir" quite eloquently.After the deftly polished tannins, the well
integrated judicious use of oak, and the long seamless finish, you find a
wine with real "soul" and substance.
A wine well worth the price of admission; which is $75 per 750ml bottle; but the savvy shopper can find these sames bottles for less if you know where to look. Right now is a good opportunity to grab a vertical of their wines with the 06, 07 and the 08 all being available for purchase.
Both vintages are a blend, with Cabernet Sauvignon leading the way. The 2006 was the first vintage produced at the [new facility]winery in Benton City. And with the 2008 vintage having now been released, receiving high praise, what you may have not noticed, that with each vintage the percentage of estate fruit grows toward the goal of becoming 100% estate fruit and, also 100% Red Mountain fruit. If you look at the AVA on the bottle, right now it states Columbia Valley.
Okay, so you may...be thinking, "uh okay Mr. Cuvee your thinking is that $75 bones is worth the price of admission, but I don't have that kind of coin". Alright I hear you, I hear you so here's a bright idea, how about "Shining Hill" which is their second label, it sells for a SRP of $40 and while I've never sampled SH, it does appear well received with an average score on Cellar Tracker of 90 points.
Some may wonder: "okay, uh..you seem to really be high on Red Mountain in general, what it's in it for you?" That is a fair question, but there's is nothing "in-it" for me personally;other than the pure satisfaction of being a guide-post of sorts. One that points the way to some of the best juice in the world and Red Mountain is certainly one of those places you need to discover for yourself. Moreover, I'm convinced that once you do, there will be no turning back.And until next folks, remember as always, "Sip long and prosper cheers!"
Full Disclosure: On my last visit, the tour and subsequent tasting fees were waived. All wines reviewed were purchased at my own expense.
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“Life is the only game in which the object of the game is to learn the rules.” – Ashleigh Brilliant
Rules, rules, rules they're everywhere and, just about anywhere one may look and, if you're ever in doubt about what the rule is, then there's the "rule of thumb"
But what about the "rules" for going wine-tasting? What are they? Should there be any? I think there should be and so do many other seasoned vino-sapiens. So whether it's a wine festival, a portfolio tasting, or just the average garden-variety wine tasting, it's important to understand a few rules before the next tasting.
Seeing I have just come back from a wine-festival of sorts the other day, I thought it would be a good idea to help the average vino-sapien understand the rules-of-engagement sort-a-speak and, more importantly the view-point from the other side of the tasting table.
This somewhat humorist list of rules, which will have many of you laughing and, following out your chair. This list is being republished here, courtesy of my friends at the Hedges Family Estate and you can find the original posting here via their trade dispatch.
Rules at a Wine Festival:
- Don’t tether your wine glass to your neck.
- Don’t pinch your fingers and say, “Just a little.”
Dump it if you don’t want to finish it, but I’m going to pour as much as
I damn well please.
- Don’t violently lift your glass mid-pour and say, “That’s enough.” Same deal as above.
- Don’t say, “Give me the biggest thing you have.” This isn’t NASCAR.
- Let “smooth” take the day off from your vocabulary… the whole day
- Don’t shove. [I mean… really]
- Don’t say you hate Merlot. We all saw Sideways. Guess
what: Miles didn’t want to drink Merlot because it reminded him of his
ex-wife. That bottle he drank in the end—his most precious bottle—had a
ton of Merlot in it.
- Don’t tell every winemaker about the winery that was down the street while you lived in Lodi.
- Don’t ask how the wine scored… ever.
- Do wear a “Wine’er, Dine’er, 69’er T-shirt
- If you are going to wear one of the those little food
trays that has a cutout for your glass, you better be damn sure you are
cool enough to wear it. Note: no one is that cool.
- Over-buff late thirties guy: Don’t try to impress your date by contradicting me. You’re going to fail. Yeah, try me!
- Don’t lick your glass… pig!
- Don’t talk about your sulfite allergy. There is a good chance you have no idea what you’re talking about.
- Don’t dump into the water pitcher. And always look before you drink out of it.
- Practice spitting at home; it will come in handy.
- Don’t talk about the legs after you swirl the glass. Here’s a tip: the legs don’t matter.
- Don’t take your heels off and puke in the lobby. [purple cookies are gross]
- Don’t ask what the most expensive wine on the table is.
- Keep the rim of your glass food free. [Ewww]
- If you proclaim that you don’t like white or rose, we will make fun of you when you walk away.
- NO Perfume! And go light on the lipstick, honey!
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Some people drink from the
fountain of knowledge, others just gargle. ~Robert Anthony
And I'm the kind of wine-guy who likes to
gargle with Sauvignon Blanc before heading off to a tasting, and no I didn't
swallow. But now that you have that amazing image in your brain [you're
welcome] it's time to get down and dirty with one of my favorite grapes,
And yes each one of these wines is high-alcohol; like the one pictured above sporting a whopping 15%[oh-my]or very near 15%; so save me the
crocodile tears and the fits of anguish over the whole, wines are
"getting-to-hot" nonsense. Because each of the following wines I'll be reviewing
today, have a balanced approach [although not necessarily tasty], even with the
Okay, so I received these wines last year as samples [and so did a whole lot of
other blobbers] and I'm just now getting around to reviewing them. Each wine
has three things in common; all three had Joel Gott as their winemaker, all
three are Grenache and all three are from the same vintage, 2010.
Now that said, in today's review spotlight will be, Shatter, Alakai and The
Show. As I said, Grenache is one of my favorite grapes and I know you're not
supposed to have favorites, but I do so get over it. Now speaking of favorites,
only one of the three wines in today's spotlight actually tripped my trigger,
the other two "meh" they were okay.
1. 2010 Garnacha
Show": Typically I'm all over wines like this, their flavor,
complexity and down-right feel-good wine drinking is their hallmark. But not so
this time, in order to SAVE on costs, the wine was fermented in concrete tanks,
while only 20% is aged in oak.
I thought the wine showed a lot of
potential, being from a 40year old vineyard site, but it lacked that umph.
My score on this wine is 84 points, this is one "Show" I'd forget
about seeing. Price
Range: $13 - $20 most
Alakai California Red Wine: Again another wine with big potential, a rocking
Rhone-Zone blend featuring; 77% Grenache, 17% Syrah, 4% Mo-ved, and a drop of
Petite Sirah. This time around, barrel aging was employed, but the grapes
grabbed for this mission; could not bring home the cat. I was sadly
disappointed in this wines performance.
I found the wine underwhelming and
disjointed. Not sure if it would be worth the wait, but a bit more time bottle
could allow flavors to integrate a bit more. It’s not bad, but not stellar enough
to make me reach for my wallet either and my score 84 points. Price: $18
3. 2010 Shatter Grenache,
France: This folks is how you do it, and do it right. If you want drink a wine,
one which boxes well above its weight class, than this is your ticket to
Pay-Per-View wine-stopping excitement.
This wine is a result of first-time collaboration with Mr. Dave Phinney [of
Prisoner fame] and Joel Gott, but it would appear Mr. Phinney's now iconic
style took the lead. This is a brilliant wine; produced from a steep hillside
vineyard, planted 60 years [black, fractured schist] ago near a small town in Roussillon, in a place called Mauray. So duh, no guessing
why this wine is number one, priced higher than the others and two, why it beat
the snot out those other two poseurs above.
The wine had me from the word go, soon as I popped the cork on this bad-boy, I
knew it was game on. In the glass; this wine is sporting a deep, nearly opaque
ruby color, while inviting red-berry aromas easily escape from the glass,
inviting the first slurp. From the first pour the last drop, this wine is
nothing but Grenache goodness at its best. The soft French oak is nicely woven
into the wines vivid dark and red fruit core; you barely even realize it's
there. The finish is long, lasting and it drives deep. In a word this wine is
Well worth the price of admission at the
SRP of $31, but you're in luck if you live in San Diego. Because this 93 point wine
is just coming back into stock at one of my favorite retailers Vintage Wines and I just confirmed
they do sell this wine for $27 [btw, they can ship if you live out-of-state].
Do want to read the story behind the
Shatter Collaboration? If so click here.
Full Disclosure: The wines above as I've
stated were sent to me as samples for the review process. And two, I do not
work for Vintage Wines in any capacity, but they probably wish I did, ha. Until
next time folks remember to sip long and prosper cheers
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“If you only drink the same wines that everyone else is drinking, than you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” ~ A wise Vino-Sapien
Well good afternoon every and welcome to March, here in San Diego it looks like we are having some summer like weather, just ahead of the coming Spring. Sadly my friends on the East coast are still in full blown winter mode and for that I'm truly sorry. But it looks like a good opportunity for them to indulge in one of my favorite Winter wines, Port. So I say lean into, because before you know you'll be looking Spring right in the face.
In today's review is a fantastic wine, one that is so easy on the wine-budget, you may become giddy with delight, perhaps even a few hand-springs, okay-okay perhaps that's a bit too ambitious. But you will soon get my point after you uncork what I can only describe as one most "complete" bottles of wine for $12 you will find any where, and here's where you can get some for yourself.
This wine has everything, the average vino-sapien is looking for via earthy, mineral-driven nuances [you literally taste the vineyard dust], light engaging aromatics, food friendly, a gentle verve of dark and red fruits pulsing though its soul. Even the garden variety wine-twirler will get this wines easy going and easy to get along with personality; a wine that's easy as a Sunday morning. This is the style of wine that makes pairing choices so easy and wonderfully fun. I can't imagine too many things that would not pair well with this wonderfully well-made wine from a stellar vintage. And a unique blend with Syrah leading the way at 70% with the balance 30% Grenache.
If you've never taken a visit to the Rhone-Zone, as I like to call it. Then this folks is your ticket to ride, a wine that will come out, shake your hand and you'll become fast friends. It will leave you wondering why you had not met sooner. My score on this wine is 90 points, the kind of wine to purchase by the case load. Easy, fun and flavorful, so very worth the tiny price of admission. Until next time folks, sip long and prosper cheers!
Disclosure: I secured the wine featured in today's review with my own cold-hard cash from my employer; Bird Rock Fine Wine.
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