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As a San Diego county resident and unofficially self-proclaimed cork-dorkI've been to Temecula's wine country many times and until recently I was unaware of one of Temecula's hidden gems [I guess I really didn't do my homework].So with my GPSfirmly ensconced on my dash board, I set off to findBriar Rose,yes I took the typical exits from the I-15 and started inland, only tofound myself no where near anything that resembledthe typical geography associated with a trip to wine country, instead I was insuburbia, headingdown what nearly appeared to be a dead end street lined with some very well appointed homes.As I traveled on I started up this hill and started to see signs that I was indeed heading to wine country. In fact I would call it an oasis in a sea of sameness [theirwine style is definitely old-world]and as I crested the hill, there it was Briar Rose atop this hill overlooking Temecula.
But how did I hear about this wonderful little winery in Temecula, well I was contacted by a friend ofBriar Rose Winery
to come out sip their selection, see the winery and meet the wonderful folks who make the aptly named Briar Rosea flower among the thorns. They had asked other bloggers [whom I won't mention
] but these so-called "other" wine bloggers dismissed this opportunity. I guess I was a 2ndor3rd choice, but when the red carpet was rolled as I arrived, I thought hmmm maybe they were expecting someone else, but no the Cuvee Corner Wine Blog's humble correspondent [well technically the only one
] was asked to write a review of Briar Rose Winery. I was so glad, I had the opportunity and everyone was extremely gracious, friendly and welcoming [yep all three]to me, it's has been about two months since I've been there [I'm sure they were wondering when I would write it]and my notes, photographs and videosare vivid reminders of the of the sights, sounds and taste of the wonderful wine[s] being made there.
Where is it:
Now if you happen to be new to the area or you from San Diego or LA and you are an avid or just the occasional cork-dork like me and you are wonderingwhere Temecula Wine country is located, well you can find itin southwestern Riverside County, you maybe surprised to find that Temecula is California'smost prominent American Viticultural Area [AVA] south
of Los Angeles and north from San Diego and about hour and half trip from those cities. Now for the adventurous wine lover or even the casual observer, it's an ideal destination for a short day trip from Los Angeles, Orange County, Palm Springs or San Diego. (Click here fordirections/map
to Briar Rose winery, as well as, all of theTemecula
About Briar Rose Winery:
According to their owner, was foundedthe grounds of a former Disney set designer's home and has adisneyesque feel as their mantra on the labels say "Taste theEnchantment".
Their winery is modeled after Snow White's cottage, which you can see from looking at the faux thatched roofs and architecture. Briar Roseproduces mostly estate-grown wines,with a boutiqueproduction level of about 2,400
cases per year give or take. According to their website, their winerycame tofruition as a result of the owner's Les and Dorian Linkogle's lifelong dreamto build a dynamic winery dedicated to producing excellent wines and to lay claim as one Temecula's first wineries. If youwould like or needmore factoids or other interesting trivia about Briar Rosepleaseclick here.
Reservation Only: There are many wineries that require a reservation and this is one of them, so please don't just show up and expect to taste wine, without making the appointment first.Just a word of advice, if you wantguarantee you have a great experience you'll need to make a reservation and preferably visit the winery in a small group because the winery's tasting room is small, or you mayendupin the barrel room [which fine too, but a little dark for evaluating wine properly], show up at the time of your reservation, and prepare for a different Temecula wine experience than you maybe familiar with. Appointment Hours: Monday - Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.Here are the wines I tasted the day of my own appointment:2009 Estate Viognier:
A nice bottle of a complex floral wine, dry, crisp, honey suckle and rose aromas with peach and melon flavors. SRP: $19.00
2009 Fume Rosé:
A wine that hastens and welcomes the advent of summer and is nicely different then a majority of rosés you may already be familiar with, comes offbright, clean, and zesty. A Sauvignon Blanc aged and seasoned in barrels recently containing Cabernet Sauvignon. SRP: $24.00
Standard Tasting.03,04 and 07 Cabernet Sauvignon:
If you're someone who likes 100%
old world stlye wines than these wines will make you very happy. Each wine displayed rich varietal character these grapes can achieve and were characterised by aromas of dried violets on the palate each wine displayed flavors of chocolate, ripe jammy berries, oak, pepper and earth. For my money, the 2004
was showing the best right now and the 2007
]was very good as well but would benefit from futher aging. SRP: $38 [on special for $18], $58, $105
. The 03 and 04 Standard Tasting
and the 07 is on the Premium Tasting
2004 Petit Verdot:2005 Temecula One:
This wine also was from the Private Collection andis part of the Premium Tasting lineup. As a single varietal wine it is very uncommon
as Petit Verdot wine grapes requires a long growing season to reach maturity, and to even become a wine of substance and quality. Petit Verdot wine grapes are typically just a blending grape and one ofthe least grown in Bordeaux. The French translation for PV is 'little green one", it was an interesting wine and this Petit Verdot from estate fruit is a powerful yet suave wine with dusty tannins. Awonderful old world stlye of wine. SRP: 105.00 Premium Tasting
Another wine from the Premium Tasting list and is a blend of 40% Sangiovese, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot a wine with "Super Tuscan"
stylingandaretypically red wines of very high quality. This wine is medium-bodied, juicy, loaded with wild berry and dark cherry fruit, and balanced withdusty tannins. Premium Tasting SRP: $1152007 "Katrina" Estate Zinfandel:
This wine boasts of a "Old world" origin and is 100% Zin, which was aged 16
months in French/American oak, now when I think of old world in this context they have me thinking of Primitivo. Although, recent research reported byWine Pros
that in Croatia and at the University of California at Davis, using "DNA profiling, has proved Zinfandel is a clone of the Croatian variety Crljenak" [so easy to say as well], so glad they cleared that up. That said, this wine hasdeep violet reflectionsin the core and is complemented bya unique, intense bouquet, spicy aromas, isfull bodied and conveys a velvety warmth on the palate. SRP $92 Premium Tasting2009 Talking Frog - Hefe-N-Vine Lager:
This is a really fun little number, and was the last thing I tried before taking a tour of the grounds. It's 100%
wine with Hefeweizen beer characteristics thrown into the mixture. It's just delightful and frothy, and has a nice head on it shoulders depending on you pour it. A delicate touch of sweetness and the right amount of crispness to balance it out. They call it a dessert wine
, umm not sure I wouldgive it that designation, but it's great to pair with anythingthat's is somewhat spicy, it wouldmake the perfect compliment.Funny thing about it, is after drinking it you realize why they call it Talking Frog [burpage action] is what follows afterward. Wink-wink
! SRP $18:00 Standard TastingFull Disclosure:
As an invited guest of Briar Rose, my tasting fees were waived and I left with a sample of their 2004 Petite Verdot. Pricing and where to Purchase:
Okay the pricing on wines on the Premium Tasting list do seem to be a bit excessive when compared to similar wines from regions that have more gravitas, while the wines from the Standard List
are well within what I would call normal tasting room prices and offer the consumer a fair price for the value given. As far as places you are able to purchase these wines, there are one of two ways that can happen, either through the tasting room or you can purchase from their website and have them direct ship it to you.My Recommendations:
This is one of the "hidden gems" of the Temecula Valley wine scene and one not to be missed. So make an appointment and check it out for yourself,you won't be disappointed by the caliber of their wine. Their staff is friendly, gracious, and it's a great place to just sit back relax and sip on some winetastic vino. I really liked the 2004
Cabernet and thought it was best of what I tasted that day overall and would recommend getting a few bottle of "Talking Frog"
and it's at a price point which encourages a case purchase.Other Voices: Michael N. of Temecula
had this to say, "This is a winery for aspiring and experienced connoisseurs or people that can tell good wine from great wine."
and several Internationaland National Wine Competitions Judges have awarded Briar Rose Winery 51
wine awards between 2007 and 2009 in local, national, and international wine competitions.
Okay I learned something new about finding aromas in the glass, check out the video and please tell me what you think, I know it's a bit noisey in the background, so you have to listen carefully. [I've never heard this any where else, but there seemed to be something to it]
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Let's faceit, when it comes to wine and wine-making, the French stand alone. No other country has the breadth ofhistory orcan beatFrance in terms of its qualityor its sheer volume ofdiversity. While many of its regions like, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne are the most obvious and well known, for producing rare and highlysought-after wines, nearly as expensive as gold. If you just stop to take a look around thewine-strewn landscapethere are just as many obscurities and values to be had from little known appellations throughout the country and this is what I will being sharing with you today in this review of Belle De Brillet, Poire Williams Au Cognac.Today, cognacis shedding its snobby smoking-jacket[think Captain Nemo] image as a country-club spirit and tossing aside the idea that it's only a rich man's drink and oddly finding itself mentioned in rap songs and being mixed in a new wave of innovative cocktails by mixologists coast to coast. Although this particular Cognac I'm reviewing today is a little different the the average Cognac you may have encountered, one it comes in a pair shaped bottle and two it is infused with about 20lbs [on average] of Poire Williams pears per 750ml bottle. Although this is predominantly a "wine-review" blog, since cognac is made from vitis vinifera type grapes and although classified as a spirit, I have made the decision to review this wonderful Cognac and if you try it for yourself you will no doubt agree the Belle De Brillet is fantastico. I have had the chance to sample other cognacs and I was not too impressed, I guess I have a bit of a "sweet-tooth" when it comes to cognac. Today's Cognac Regionconsists of six cru appellations, which when tallied up equal about 185,000 acres and must be produced in the regions distinctive, chalky limestone soils. Grapes are still traditionally harvested in October and under-go two distinct distillation, the first being calledbrouillis [slightly cloudy liquid] and during the 2nd distillation a master distiller separates alcohol vapors, where a clear spirit emerges. Now this is where an important distinction lies this process I've described must be completed by the end of March or it will be labeled a brandy [a poor mans cognac], because while all cognac is brandy, not all brandy is cognac. Today's top Crus in order of quality are Grand Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois Bon Bois and Bois Ordinares and as with table wine each region is designated on each bottle's label.After the 2nd distillation is complete the white wine which the French call eau de vie or the water of life, the cognac is transferred to oak casks made of 100 year old Sap and Heartwood trees, where it will stay for 2 years. This old wood is what transforms this clear liquid into the beautiful golden yellow color we know today, of course if it's allowed to more time to age its color is more amber than gold. After this time in barrel, the master blender will determine the blend and bottle a consumer ready cognac of with a minimum ABV of 40%, but since Poire Williams Au Cognac is not a pure varietal version of Cognac it's allowed to not this ABV requirement.
[Unlike table wine,Cognac does not age in the bottle
]About Blending: Each Cognac blend will comprise 100 or more different lots of eau de vie [water of life]. First Swirl: In the glass it goes, but just a couple ounces this a something to savor; beautiful golden amber colored core and a light yellow rim and a viscous body.First Sniff: Okay folks this is the very best part, if someone could put this smell into an aerosol can I would buy it by the case. Wonderful aromas of pear, smoke and the oak ageingimbues aromas such as vanilla, fruits and flowers,toast with a definite nose of alcoholic vapors, which can be alarming to newcomers. Long after this delightful libation has left the glass, the aromas linger on and on.First Sip: Wow the very first time I had this was at the Wine Vault and Bistro here in San Diego who gave me a complimentary sample glass. It was mouth-filling and rich, but also delicate and fresh. I was totally blown away by how smooth it was, coating my palate with lushhighly refined notes of yumminess.I was expecting it to be somewhat "hot" like the nose, but nope just what I wouldcall "refined elegance". I definitely got the notes of ripe pears, caramel and Creme Brulee.Composition: The grapes used to make Cognac are not your everyday household names, nope it's the Ugni Blanc [most widely planted], Folle Banche and Colombard and about twenty pounds of Poire Williams pears for blending.Harvest & Ageing: The Brillet distillery is a "Bouilleur de Cru" distillery reserved exclusively for the production from Brillet's own vineyards. December to March sees the delicate traditional operation of Distillation Charentaise (2 times) in the Traditional Charentais Pot Still made from pure copper in a ritual unchanged since the17th century. The Brillet cellars assure the slow metamorphosis of the Pure Eau de Vie de Cognac but not without the heavy tribute in evaporation called "La past des Agnes". In order to guarantee the best original quality of the two Premiers Grand Crus of Cognac, the Brillet congacs are produced, aged in oak barrels and bottled separately "unblended".Price and Where to Buy: I found it at theWine Vault and Bistrohere in San Diego, but there a number of places online where you can purchase this very tasty libation. It's selling anywhere between $40 and $50 and just as reminder many wine stores will not carry this simply because they don't have the license necessary to sell spirits, so know before you go. Even ifyour favorite retailer has it stock,it's not an item that will have a lot of depth in their inventory.My Recommendation: This is a fantastic libation to have around the house at all times, since it's something you will be sipping over a period of months and not days. It makes for a great after dinner drink to sit back and enjoy with friends and some cigars or just to sip on its own. Makes a wonderfulany-time drinkand can easily be stored in the pantry without worrying about spoilage.Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 95 points on theCuvéeCorner 100 point scale, and is a rock solid well made product, that will not disappoint. Winemaker'sNotes: This, one of France's classic and great liqueurs, is the original blend of Brillet Cognac and the essence of Pears Williams (Poires Williams). The perfectly matured pears, carefully selected, were picked at their peak of ripeness, macerated, then blended with Fine Brillet Cognac
. Pairing Cognac and Cigars: This is one of my favorite pairings and of course notin thetraditional sense, thinking about the word pairing [matching food and wine]. That said, Cigars and Cognac are as old a combination as Napoleon and Josephine. Which begs the question; which cigar and which Cognac? According to Cigar Aficionado, "A light panetela would be as inappropriate with 30-year-old XO Cognac as a Muscadet is with a saddle of venison." well said and I would have to say I completely agree with the sentiment, thus choosing correctly is paramount to maximize your experience.Max Cointreau, chairman of Cognac Pierre Frapin had this comment on the subject of pairing cigars and Cognac, "There are a range of Cognacs for cigars, such as a lighter VSOP with milder cigars, butany Grande Champagne Cognac can be good with a cigar". Similarly, master blender Jean-Marc Olivier recommends Courvoisier Napoleon as an excellent choice for all cigars. I would have to say, I agree more with Mr. Olivier more than Mr. Frapin and I definitely think the Poire William Au Cognac will make a "spot-on" companion to a majority of cigars, but my favorite is the Monte Cristo
. Other Voices: Well it appears the folks over at Wine Enthusiast really liked this cognac as well and scored it 96-100 points depending on which year they opened a bottle of this delightful elixir.
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Having worked as a sommelier in the fine dining world for quite some time, I learned a lot from my customers. I learned common preferences and common qualms, how to recognize if someone is intimidated by the wine list, and how to deal with rather cranky tables. I learned that wine is an integral part of enjoying a meal, and that the happiest customers walk out not only having had great-tasting food and wine, but having had service that made the evening go so much more smoothly. I’d like to share some of my experience with you, to help you get the most of your money’s (and time’s) worth when eating out.
A quick note: sommelier is pronounced “sum-all-YAY”
(I especially like the yay!). Not all restaurants have a designated sommelier; if not, you can simply apply the following tips with your server. 1. Be polite:
This tip seems like a no-brainer, but it’s most definitely worth the top spot. You would be surprised at how many people are rude to restaurant servers – resulting in bad, or at the very least, sub-par service. Rude customers make servers reluctant to return to the table, to check on satisfaction, or to quickly attend to complaints.On the other hand
, a friendly, polite table will naturally encourage the server to not only give great service, but to go above and beyond. I always wanted to do something special for genuinely nice customers, whether they ordered the least or most expensive bottle on the wine list. By engaging in warm conversation, or simply smiling back at your server, you will often get special treatment – a glass of wine on the house, perhaps, or a specialty cocktail with dessert. Good manners go a long way in the restaurant business.2. Ask for suggestions:
No matter your price point, asking your sommelier for his or her suggestions can be a great value. A wine list is a sommelier’s baby – he or she will most likely have chosen with care some, if not all, of the wines available. The sommelier is incredibly familiar with the list, and though the restaurant must offer a wide range of styles and prices (that is, if the wine list is good), there will be a few gems that you may not recognize on your own. Think of ordering wine in restaurants as a great opportunity to explore – the mark-up is high, so don’t order a bottle that you could normally buy in your neighborhood shop for half the price. Ask for something special, and you will very likely be rewarded.3. Don’t be afraid to ask for a decanter:
Decanting isn’t just for older, fine wines. Many wines, especially young,tannic
reds, are helped by an hour or two of fresh air
. Exposure to oxygen essentially speeds up the aging process, mellowing out harsh tannins and developing flavors. Technically, you may not need your wine decanted – that is, slowly pouring the wine into another container, to separate any accumulated solids from the liquid. You simply need to let the wine aerate for some time to enjoy it best while you’re eating out.If the restaurant is more casual
, and there are no decanters decanters
available, ask your sommelier to open the wine and pour it into your wine glasses. Simply uncorking the wine and letting it sit in the bottle will not ensure proper aeration. Wine glasses (the bigger, the better) provide a greater air-to-surface area ratio. Let your wine open up while you enjoy cocktails or your first course.4. Recommendations versus orders:
Asking your sommelier for recommendations is a great way to try new wines; however, as said time and time again, taste is extremely subjective taste is extremely subjective
. Even if your sommelier recommends something in line with your preferences (say, suggesting an Australian Shiraz to those who like full-bodied, fruit-forward wines), there is no guarantee that you will indeed like the wine. If you don’t like it, say it. A good sommelier will take the bottle away, recommend something different, or have you order something else – and absolutely not charge you for the wine you didn’t like (and didn’t drink).When ordering on your own
, though, you should be responsible for your choice. If you didn’t like that Australian Shiraz
, and the wine was in fine condition, chalk it up to a learning experience. Ask if you can take the bottle home – laws vary from state to state, but if you can, bring the bottle with you, stick it in your refrigerator, and cook with it the next night.5. Let your sommelier know if the wine is flawed:
If you think something is off with your wine, let the sommelier know! While he or she may not be able to wave a wand over the wine to fix it, the sommelier can whisk the offending bottle away. Good service dictates that the sommelier should ask you if you 1) want to try another bottle of the same wine, or
2) ask if you would like to choose a different wine
. I know people who are reluctant to send food or wine back, not wanting to be an annoyance. But the sommelier and the restaurant are extremely interested in keeping you happy (and keeping you spending money
), so please, please, please – understand you deserve to enjoy the best possible experience while eating out.6. Bring your own bottle:
(and be happy to share) BYO
(that is, Bring Your Own) restaurants provide the opportunity to enjoy good food, in a comfortable place, without requiring you to spend money on highly marked-up wines or be limited by the restaurant’s wine menu. Bringing your own wine to a restaurant means you have an extra level of freedom, to some degree, when dining out. However, bringing your own bottle (or bottles) also entails a certain degree of etiquette. It is not necessary, by any means, to offer your sommelier or server a taste of the wines you have brought, but it is certainly a nice gesture. An offer shows respect not only for your sommelier, but more importantly, for the wine you have chosen for the night. I always appreciated my customers asking me if I would like a taste of their wine – and isn’t enjoying wine with people what it’s all about?Bringing your own wine still entitles you to proper wine service:
chilling to achieve the right temperature, decanting or aerating, and good wine glasses. (A quick note: your restaurant may not have 10 different types of specialty wine glasses, but they should at least have clear glass stemware, large enough so that you can enjoy all the wine’s aromas.)
This great article was written by guest contributor, Jolan Turkington
the Director of Communications for a wine-making franchise called Vintner's Circle
, she is a certified Sommelier and regular contributor to the The Unreserved.
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Hey San Diego wine fans here is another screaming deal, but this time I present you with a "take no prisoners"
wine of huge proportions and it will cost you so very little. This wine is big, up in your face good. Once you pour it from the bottle the aromas immediately grab your attention, looking at the color and the taste bud tickling tasting, youimmediately realize what a great deal you got in purchasing this wine. If you only had bought one at the time, like I did and after consuming its absolute wonderfulness, you will like me run not walk to quietly pick up a case or more of this fantastic wine. This wine made me think of a song entitled the "Fire Within"
from the Costa Del Sol Spanish Guitar Collection [which by the way is great music to play while writing].
If you are a big fan of Malbec like I am than you are most likely aware there is whatWine Spectator
is calling "Malbec Madness" going on in the wine market place and folks are "Going-Gaga" over the fantastic flavor profile of this wine and at the price points they are selling for, is it any wonder that Malbecs from Argentina are theQPR
champs and folks are lining-up [not literally, but you get the picture] around the block to get their hands on a great bottle. In fact in a recent article from WS, entitled Malbec Madenss,Mr. James Molesworth had this to say after reviewing over 600
Argentinean wines since last December 2008, and more than 50% of them Malbec or Malbec based blends, Wines Spectator’s lead taster on wines of Argentina, proclaims that "all the foundations are in place’ for Argentina’s success in the US wine market"
this from their November issue of last year and to which I say in acavalier tone, "ya-think"
The owners of this Argentinean estate [Bodega Flechas de Los Andes]are Laurent Dassault, owner of [Grand Cru] Chateau Dassault in St. Emilion, and Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, with folks like this involved in this project, I was not really surprised at the caliber of this wine, but what did catch me off guard was the tiny price. The Winery:
Bodega Flechas de Los Andes is located at the foot of the Andes cordillera, to the south of Mendoza with a Duillet designed winery offering you a wine that is the a pure, top of the range Argentinean Malbec.Treatment:
The wine spent 14 months in 33%
new French oak, 33%
second fill French oak, and 34%
in stainless steel.The Terroir:
The grapes for this wine are sourced from wonderful alluvial soils, which are prized in the world of viticulture, because it often produces grapes with a higher concentration of flavors. First Swirl:
After uncorking the bottle and only using the Centellino Areadivino
to decant the wine, I found tilting the glass to the side it had a gorgeous opaque garnet colored core and fleeing to cerise rim. Some folks are going over-board
[warning: Will Robinson, please decant] on the decant recommendation on this wine, yes this is a big wine for a little price and I do agree further decanting would be helpful, but honestly right out of the gate it's a palate pleaser, make no mistake.First Sniff:
Giving it a good swirl, my senses are immediately enveloped in this robust Malbec, as it unleashes notes of blackberries, red currants, and blueberry which gets the taste buds watering.First Taste:
An excellent velvety body and a balanced structure finishing with sweet tannins. It will age elegantly but who can resist drinking this now, I dare say I couldn't as I'm relishing each and every sip.Pairing Suggestions:
These tips are brought to you by,Malbec Only
who thinks you should "be sure you pair it with asado de tira (short ribs with the bone), flank steak, New York steak, or a rich piece of lamb." Which I wouldn't disagree with, but I had it with someyummy pre-made hamburger pattyfrom Trader Joe's, onions, peppers andSwiss cheese, home made crispy friesand this wine went freak'g fantastically with my chosen pairing.The Big Brother:
What a lot of other wine reviewers don't tell you is that this wine has a "big-brother" the Gran Corte 2006 Flechas de los Andes from Baron Edmund de Rothschild estate in Mendoza.This is what they are callingtheir flagship wine; a blend that includes 57%
Syrah, and 8%
Merlot. This winehas already received wonderful adulation from the print critics, with average scores topping 94
points and the best part folks, another tiny price, selling for $35
to which I say wow! So much wine, for such a little price or as some criticslike to point out another hedonistic wine for the Californian palate. I say so be it, bring it on!Where to Purchase:
You can pick up this beauty at your local San Diego Costco, wherethey are selling it for a mere $14.99
each. I seen other places online selling it for similar prices and also as high as $24.99
. Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score:
Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 95
points on the Cuvee Corner 100 point scale, because the price point on this wine and the caliber of it's quality makes the QPR
off the charts.Other Voices:
Okay so maybe your thinking, "I need another opinion" well here ya go this wine received 92
Parker Points and hehad this to say thisvery good juice: "The Flechas de Los Andes’ 2007 Gran Malbec
was opaque,deeply purple-colored, it reveals a brooding bouquet of cedar, espresso, violets, and black cherry. Medium- to full-bodied, on the palate it borders on opulence, with layers of succulent fruit, a smooth texture, spicy flavors, and a lengthy finish. It admirably combines power and elegance and perhapsover delivers in a very big way."My Recommendation:
Ummm, what the heck are you waiting for? Get your happy little self down to Costco or where everyou can find it and stock up. Like I said, this is a run don't walk
recommendation, so you better hot foot it down to your local wine store and grab a case before they are all gone. The summer grilling season is upon us and you don't won't miss out on this fantastic deal.
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Hey San Diego wine shopping fans, are you looking for a great Chianti Classico? One made in a modern style, sure to please even the most sophisticated palate while not emptying the pockets, if you answered yes to both questions great, read on because this time my review will revolve around another great wineand this time my palate travels to the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany in Italy.
Chianti Classico is one of my favorite places in the world and Iactually had the pleasure [and some pain] oftraveling to this great and historic wine makingregion. This is the second wine I've reviewed from Brancaia and if you not familiar with that review, I would recommend taking a look there first before you continue reading here, it's entitled "Putting the "Super" in Super Tuscan
".It gives a lot more background on Brancaia than I will be accomplishing in this review today.
I know here I go again dipping into the pool of unadulterated honesty for which I'm sure I'll draw fire froma fewcirclesfor thisclaim, but here it goes; I believetruthfully thatwines [which can be quite dry and tannic in their youth
] from theChianti regioncan be both exciting and frustrating at the same time, because there are as many duds, as there are wines of wonder and amazement.Even among the[Denominazione di Orogine Controllata e Garantita] DOCG
which designates aproducer of Chianti Classico, where you should find the familiar Black Chicken
on the neck of the bottle. According toJancis Robinson
, who notes that "Chianti is sometimes called the "Bordeaux of Italy",
as the flexibility in the blending recipe for Chianti accounts for some of the variability in styles among Chiantis." That said, when I find a great producer of Chianti, I get very excited and it's from this wellspring of excitement that I tell you it's a "new-day"
andit's with great pleasure Ipresent to you once more, Brancaia.
You may be asking why did I entitle this review a new day in Chianti? That's a good question,thepremise of this "new-day" This pushing of the envelope,may be seen by some as "nuvo"
or un-traditional andwhile this may be true, it should not obscure the fact that Brancaia
is producing some [nope I didn't appreciatethem all]truly fantastic wines,whichare true to theconceptofterroir
and in my mindmany of their winesare a good example of what the region is capable of producing in the right hands.
To me this is what Brancaia certainly represents, asa new wave of producers in Chianti are thinking outside the traditional parametersinChianti Classico, byintroducing Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to their Sangiovese dominated blends and the use of French Oak barrels [some Tuscan winemakers consider anyone using French oak to be a non-traditionalist
First Swirl: After uncorking the bottle, [sorry Stelvin fansChianti Classico only uses cork] and if you ask them about screw caps they just look at you like you must be from "outer-space". In the glass this winehas adeep colored garnetcore, followed by a cerise colored rim, evidencedby thevivid color lurking in my glass.
First Sniff: Giving the wine a fewgood swirls, its aromatics open to reveal a super-elegant expression of fresh berries, and tobacco.
The mouth feel reveals asumptuous expression of darkfruits, medium in weight, with a nice offsetbetween the fruit and herbal characteristics whichmakes the wine very appealing today, while its sufficient tannic clout is enough to suggest allowingit toage for a few years to come.Composition: 85%
Sangiovese and 15%
So if you're wondering how I was able to get my hands on a bottle, well the fine folks at the Hess Collection
who are the importers of this fine wine sent a sample
to me. But my first encounter with Brancaia was in Italy and this is where I fell in love with their wines. Price and where to purchase:
Okay San Diego wine fans grabbing some of this wine is going to be a little tougher than I thought, as itis not sitting on any shelf just waiting for you to come and get it. If you really want this wine [Ihighly recommend it], the [sole] distributor Young’s Market
[but without a liquor license you can't buy it] hasplenty in stock but the majority of wine stores in San Diego would require you to purchase it by the case to keep the price in the reasonable range and by that I mean selling anywhere between $32.99
,for specific prices please speak to your respective wine retailer.
I spoke with the San Diego Wine Company
and with Vintage Wines Limited of San Diego
who both said they would order it for you, but you would need to speak with them regarding the arrangements of acquiring this wine.My Recommendation:
Because of the situation this wine is in,it may mean splitting a case with a friend or a few friends, who love a Chianti Classico like you do or maybe you could talk your favorite wine store into acquiring a few cases as a wise move to accommodate their customers. Whatever you do, I want to highly recommend this modern style of Chianti Classico to you, please give it a swirl and let me know your thoughts, I don't believe you will be disappointed, cheers.Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score:
Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 92
points on the Cuvee Corner 100
point scale and the QPR
is very good. Another very well made wine worthy of a place in your cellar or at your dinner table. Other Voices:
In case you need another opinion about awine that I've found most tasty,I give youMr. James Suckling from WS [
had this to say about the 2006 Brancaia Chianti Classico
, "Shows plenty of crushed blackberry and cherry, with hints of flowers. Full-bodied, with a solid core of fruit and silky tannins that turn to vanilla and raspberry on the finish."
and recommendsto drink [good idea] now through 2014 and gave thiswine a score of 91
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Okay folks as you know I've reviewed quite a few chardonnays over the past month and I have another one to bring to your attention today. It is from the folks at Louis M. Martini in Healdsburg, northern California, where Mr. Martini purchased 178 acres of land in the eastern hills of Napa Valley. This plot of land acquired its name as a tribute to the native grey pines, which some have thought to look like spirits lurking about at dusk.
However before we get there please permit me a small interlude, I want tospeak with those folks in the audiencewho may find themselves in the Chardonnay Conundrum
or anyone who subscribes to the notion that New World Chardonnay is nothing more than over-oaked plonk. While it may be true that the popular styleleans towardhigh ripeness and tropical fruits [wherewines are sometimeas cloying as your garden variety lounge drink] and this has certainly been a trend, I don't think labeling every American Chardonnay as inherently flawed
is a fair evaluation of all chardonnay made in the states. But this exactly the position [and the problem]that many of those whothink of themselves as having an "educated" palate will tell you. I know just writing about this subject will not win me any fans, but I don't care, it needs to be said and that is why I'm attempting to hammer home the point, "that all American made Chardonnay is not made in the Chateau Two by Four style" and you won't necessarily feel like you're drinking a pool of warm butter from the movie theatre waitingto be drizzled over stale popcorneither.
In fact for many folks in these circles, [you know who you are
] it's trendy
New World Chardonnay and dismiss it out of hand. In fact if you are speaking to someone with this mindset and in conversation you happen to mention that you like or adore a certain American Chardonnay, they may not say it to your face but honestly they are thinking, "my what a pedestrian palate you have"
or that you have justarrived from the school of the uninitiated.On the other hand,if want to be one of the cool kids
, just tell you love "un-oaked"
Chardonnay or perhaps explain you are a fan of a little village in Chablis,that produces picture-perfect Chardonnay, where the wines will rarelygo through malolactic fermentation or be exposed to oak and you're in likeflint
[yes, pun intended]
It is preciselyimplications such as I'vealludedto above whichmay be found on many a wine review [not this one]websites or places where enophiles
have discussions about the purity of Chablis style Chardonnay. Though I appreciate (assume) these are nottheir exactwords,still it's that premise whichcauses me to openly rebel
and question this supposed "universal truth"
that the New Generation
of American Chardonnay begins and ends without thepresence of any oak influence or malolactic fermentation
. Honestly there is nothing wrong with that [Chablis]type of wine and sometimes depending on what I may be eating I will prefer that style of Chardonnay myself, but on the other hand you won't find me running around bashing Chablis
either, though it tends to have agenerally austere and acidic taste. This type of Chardonnay is NOT going to be your cocktail type wine or one you want to open when you just want to unwindat the end of hard day. So, if you were looking to fill that empty glass covered container, which says "break in the case of an emergency"
sorry in my opiniona Chablistype of Chardonnay will never due.
Okay folks it's time to get down to the review, this is me stepping down from the proverbial soapbox to get on with the one of the primary purposes of this blog, which is to evaluatewine and make recommendations. So here we go, like I mentioned in the very first paragraph, the wine for review today is theGhost Pines 2007 Chardonnay
. The Ghost Pine Wine Ambassador who has been reading this blog and I have been having a few conversations aboutChardonnay, so I told them once I seen a bottle of this wine in the store I would pick a bottle up for review, so here it is.
After putting a slight chill on the wine and uncorking the bottle, I poured in it to my glass and gave it a swirl, tilting the glass slightly and gazing into the bowl I found a light golden colored core and a straw colored rim.
First Sniff: The aroma arising from the glass tended towardsthe smellof a freshly bakedpear or apple tart,with some nicecitrus fruits notes rounding it out.
First Taste: Now it's time for the taste, this wine delightfully combined vibrant acidity with fruity intensity. Just wave after wave of tropical fruits and freshly buttered toast which transition nicely to the crowd pleasing finish. Composition and ABV: 100%
Chardonnay, produced from three of the best places where Chardonnay thrives in California, thus producing a nice blend of25%
Napa and 40%
Monterey. The wine weighed in at a very reasonable 14.2%
ABV.Where to Purchase and Price:
I picked this bottleup at my local Ralphs
in San Diego, but you can also find this in in plentiful supplies ata local BevMo
near you and they charge $19.99
per bottle. The price I paid for mine was only $12.99
as they had it mis-marked. The scanned price was $14.99
and if I had bought six I could have saved an additional 10% [everyday discount]
which would have amounted to more than another $1
off per bottle and sometimes they even have a super wine saver
where you can get 20%
off a six pack of all the same or mix and match. Not all grocery stores are the same, some will carry better labels at times then the standard homogenized wines of Barefoot and Woodbridge and the like.Other Voices:
In case my opinion didn't sway you at all, Robert Parker Jr. had this to say about theThe '07 Ghost Pines Chardonnay exhibits plenty of pineapple, nectarine, pear and peach characteristics; fresh, lively and crisp with a touch of oak and gave this wine 88 pts. I know not quite the ringing endorsement you may have hoped for, but price is not taken into account in his reviews or in the review of almost anyone else that you will see in the print publications. Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score:
Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 91
points on the Cuvee Corner 100
point scale andthe QPR
[quality price ration]is through the roof at the $12-14
price range.My Recommendation:
This is a very good well made wine that won't disappoint anyone except the anti-oak crowd. It's not your everyday big oaky, butter Chardonnay. In fact it's is quite the opposite, being balanced, having a refined note of butter (from malolactic fermentation
) which is skillfully integrated into the mixand is quitelovely. So I would definitely grab a few the next time you are in the wine shop or maybe at your local grocery store. This wine is head and shoulders over other Chardonnays in the $10 and under category.
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Hello everyone I can't believe it has been almost 2 years since I started this blog, and wow things have changed so much for me in regards to finding my voice, putting together a clear consistent review process, recieving more wines for review, gaining some credibility amoung some of my peers, attending trade tastings and conferencesto enhance my exposure to a greater variety of wine, working with some greatPRprofessionalsandmost importantly gaining some readership, withsome great feed back from my readers. I also see I have an international
audience as well and can hardly believe some of the places in the world where my blog is being looked and hopefully read. Some of you just lurk out their and that's fine [I'm just glad you are there]. However, I would continue to encourage to everyone to feel free to disagree or celebrate some of my conclusions, as I welcome and look forward to every comment I receive.
Just to show that as readers of this blog, you're in very good company, the content you read here appears to be providing some relative and important dialogue on the subject of great wine for great prices. I've included a snippet of this article entitled,"Wine authors that just stood out in 2010"
below which listed this blog as trending very well for the first quarter of 2010 and over tenfold from this time last year. I was very surprised and happy to see that this blog had made this very auspicious list ofwine bloggers who are also trending higher in valuation and readership. However, you still will not find my blog in the top 165
wine blogs, apparently this blog is on the other list which is not visible, and the total is list size is 380
. I have no idea where this blog sits numerically on the list, but I am very thankful to you my readers that the trend of increased readership and valuation of this blog is moving in a very positive direction.
"Here is the quarterly ranking of web sites. Webmasters need not apply as the contest includes all sites. The table shows only the 165
‘best’ — ‘best’ is evaluated with public website metrics. These figures permit to include all sites — not just blogs. Here below is a story of the poll and an analysis of the results." -Estelle Platini
of the Blog Cellarer.
She went on to say, "These sites currently enjoy public recognition and more readers. The sites whose valuations increased tenfold in the past 12 months are:"
» Wine Whore,
» Cuvee Corner,
» Oenologic again,
» The Crushed Grape Report.
After reading her post I looked intothe Google Analytics page which monitorsthe readership of this blogand indeed it showed a significant increase in traffic from this time last year. It does appear that this blog does stand in the crowdof so many different wine blogs and winery blogs that talk about wine and wine culture. So at this juncture I wanted to say publically to everyone who has even spent a moment on this blog, those who've taken the time to dialogue with me about the content, and for those who took my advice and grabbed some of the wine I've recommended, here is a huge Thank You!
Until next time I wish you all well and leave you with this parting thought from one of our "founding" fathers, Benjamin Franklin who was quoted to have said, “Wine makes daily living easier, less hurried, with fewer tensions and more tolerance” and indeed it does. So again I lift a glass to you all and say cheers!
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Hey everyone near and farI want to bring another Chardonnay to your attention, this represents the 2nd wine that I've had from this producer and I'm happy to to say, I'mvery pleased with it'sgreat tasteand complexity.
These terms don't have to be mutually exclusive, but many would like you to think so. Clos Pegase
has produced another very good wine for not a lot of money, which in my book is a very good thing and I know you maybe thinking, "geez, Bill you areon a real "Chard-kick"
these days" well it would seem that way if you've read my last few reviews, but it's far from the truth. That said,its just that certain recipes cry-out
for nothing but a French-oaked Chard and this timely [in terms of it's current availibility]review on another Chardonnay has found it's way onto my review slate, well ahead of some of thesamples I've received.
What to Pair:
So whilst shopping the other day, [as I am the chief cook and bottle washer] I picked up some fresh Tilapia
fora great [simple] recipe, a Lime Cilantro Marinade
which I had fish swimming in all day, prior to throwing them into the oven in theevening. Then I prepared some fresh steamed Brocoli
and a tasty Alfredo
sauce with ricotta stuffed pasta shells
, man this meal was fantastic. I was not sure about pairing the Chardonnay with my somewhat spicy Marinade, but I relented and opened it and oh-man just a match made in heaven. But hey don't take my word for go out and try it for yourself, you won't be disappointed. This is a very simple meal to put together and very light fare, just a couple of the stuffed shells per person and the sauce is highly adaptable to varying degrees of flavor, so feel free to experiment [I always do]. About the Winery:
"Just down the road from the town of Calistoga, there is a crossroads. It's the intersection of wine and art
. And at that crossroads, you'll find something rare and remarkable: balance
." this quote from their website is not justmere PR hype, but so far with two different bottles drank, evaluated and reviewed it would appear to be all so right on point. They [Clos Pegase
] have struck a balance in their winemaking approachand we the consumers are reaping the rewards of that balance with each swirl, sniff and sip.According to their website; "Their estate is located at both ends of the Napa Valley, where nature and science have come together to create one of the finest wine-producing regions of the world."Their estate comprises 455
acres, of which 90
are in the Calistoga
area, known for its ripe, jammy reds, and the balance are in cool Carneros
to the south, where the valley meets the San Francisco Bay.Their Motto:
"Rather than bending our wines to meet our whims, we let the vineyards be our guides, and we do our best to capture and reflect their distinctive personalities in the glass."or in other words, "the essence of terroir is whatthey celebrate" to which I say, Viva La Terroir!
After removing what Clos Pegase call's the wine-and-people
friendly Stelvin closure, and pouring it into my glass, I observed that it had a golden hue core, followed by a straw colored rim, medium in body and appearance.
First Sniff: Stuffing my half-Irish nose into the glass, I foundnectarine, peach notes swirling aroundand delightfully impacting my god-given sensory apparatus. Aromas of fresh baked-bread coming from the 8 months of Sur Lie treatment [if you like this Sur-Lie, the be on look for others like it]. which are deftly balancedagainst a backdrop oftoasted French oak.
First Sip: Displaying all the wonderfulness of a Carneros Chardonnay, this wine chock full of Asian pears, and nectarines, sprinkled with toasty spices, a nice touch of oak and lees gives this wine a rich edge of creaminess and complexity, which is balanced by crisp mouth-watering acidity. Still very young and youthful, could use a couple years in the cellar to further develop it's complex characteristics, most likely even better in 2012, thinking in November right before we are supposed disappear off the face of the globe.
Composition and ABV: This wine is100% Chardonnay and the fruits come from various blocks which includes: Clos Pegase's heritage clones, which form the core of the blend, Wente clonesfor weight and acidity, Atlas Peak [btw, the view is fantastic]for tropical notes, and Rued for lifted aromatics. Equally significant are the Dijon clones which are broad, rich and complex. This wine weighed in at a mere 13.9% abv, which is perfect for a weekday quaff.
The Vineyards: Mitsuko’s Vineyard, located south of Highway 121 in the cooler part of Napa Carneros, has proved to have an abundance of ideal sites for the Burgundian varieties Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Purchased as bare land in 1989, Clos Pegase has continued to refine its plantings to maximize the vineyard's potential.
Other Voices: Okay here we go, I know my little opinion about what wine is or isn'tfantastic matters little in comparison to the giants of the printed-word on wine, that's why I always include one of their opinionsto add weightto my review anddemonstrate that I'm not just schilling for Clos Pegase [which I'm not] and this was no sample, it was purchased with my very limited [my wife say's "as if"]wine budget. The Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine, had this sayabouttheir 2007 vintage"Highly aromatic and relying on its blossomy fruit as its first order of business with sympathetic oak providing rich support, this one is bright and alive from first sniff to lasting aftertaste. Its under-lying notes of sweet limes, Fuji apples and a light dollop of toast leave little to the imagination, and while there is plenty of acidity for aging, the wine is engagingly tasty and open even now and makes no demands for cellaring." - Charles Olken gave it 92 points.
Where to Purchase and Price:
Okay San Diego Wine fans here's the best part, this wine is currently available at one my favorite Wine Stores in this market, which again if you are not familiar, is located on Miramar Road between the I-805
and the I-15
corridors, which means it's centrally located for the majority of San Diegans. TheSan Diego Wine Company
is selling this wine for a paupers price of $14.95
nearly a full $10
lower than the tasting room price of $24.00
and lower than the price of many online wine purveyors, who will also charge a heft price for shipping it to your door. So if you don't have the good fortune of living here in San Diego, well then next lowest price I've seen online is $17.95, but those shipping charges will ratchet the price upward and those out state taxes can be a bummer when you add it to the final cost.
With/without Food: As I mentioned above this wine paired fantastically with the Tilapia I prepared the other night, but I am sure there are many other entrees this wine would pair with marvelously. It also achieves a nod to the "stand-alone" sipper tag as this wine would make a great cocktail wine for any get-together occasion. The balance a wine requires to be both is no easy task and is a fact which should not be viewed lightly.
Cuvée Corner Wine Blog Score: Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 93 points on the Cuvee Corner 100 point scale and as you may have guessed the QPR is "off the hook" [do people still say that?] fantastic.
Folks honestly you are not going to get much better of a wine, and in this case a Carneros style Chardonnay for a better price than this, it represents a screaming deal. So run don't and get your happy little-self over their and buy some of this wine and by the way they [SDWC]will ship it to you providing you live in a non-Byzantine
state. Otherwise if you are from San Diego and you love a well made Carneros style Chardonnay, don't delay any further get over there and buy yourself some [or acquire online]. I'd start with 6
, three to drink now andthree to hide in your cellar for further development.
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Anyone who has vacationed in a foreign country for a even a small amount of time knows readjusting to "everyday" life in San Diego can be a drag. While you may have missed certain cultural aspects of the U.S. may have been missed while abroad; like driving and smoke-free eateries. However, when returning home, many travelers find some parts of life lacking when they are compared to a previous dining experiences abroad.
Many travelers [including me]may miss the finer nuances of the alfresco dining [patio]experience, where every day is different and even going to the market can be an adventure. If you have traveled abroad in Spain or Italy, many travelersmiss the recently accustomed warmth [but without the mosquitoes please] of the Mediterranean
dining culture, as many restaurants offer outside dining [mostly because of the heat
]. As they tend not to be big believers in Air Conditioners [just a little fact they may shock the first time traveler].To the question:
Are you looking for ways to re-create those European dining experiences in your own everyday life?Hey San Diego restaurant-goers and wine lovers alike,it's time [spring is in the air
] to take to the streets, opting to enjoy the sunshine alongside your meal and a great glass of vino. Which is why I want to introduce to you toBuon Appetito
in San Diego'sLittle Italy
, where dining atan outside table facing India St. might take you all the way to Italy for a few hours. Food:
is often one of the most memorable parts about traveling abroad. Finding restaurants which are reminiscent European dining experiences can help you recall and recapture the buzz of previous trips, and reinvigorate you from hum-drum of everyday life. It may involve a little searching, but there are cuisine options right here in San Diego likely to remind of your own Al-Fresco dining experiences from past trips and atBuon Appetito
you'll find"Nouvelle Italian"
and classic Italian dishes are effortlessly blended together. But just be aware that the patio area fills up quickly on nice days, so be sure to make reservation, well in advance.The Gist:
Like a traditional Italian family, Buon Appetito is small but comfortable, and the food is delicious, fresh and authentic. A slightly campy, rotating art adorns every wall, as patrons sit nearly elbow to elbow, a college aged waiter staff, booming conversations all contributing to the restaurant'strattoria style approach.The main concept behind the restaurant according to Buon Appetito : "That is why we have this restaurant: To remember who we are and that is why we come together in celebration of food, wine and art."
Well said!The Wine List:
The wine list is robust enough for what it needs to be - complimenting your meal but not overwhelming to the point where only a wine-snob
could navigate. Buon Appetito understands that wine is there for your food, and not the other way around, and thus simplicity in selection meets greatness in flavor you can savor. You can order very traditional Italian varietals, but if your Californiapalate is uncomfortable with those wines, then they have a nice selection of wine from the Golden Statewith a few other New World selections in the mix. Wine Bar Next Door:
They have a new, very comfortable and inviting winebar called Sogno Divino
which is right next to the restaurant. A great place to relax, imbibe on some yummy Italianvarietalswhile waiting for your table or to just catch up with friends before heading out on the town, you could also grab a quick bite in the form of their very tasty appetizers. Italian Market:
Okay, you leave the restaurant and your thinking, "man it would be great to re-create this at home" well here's your chance to try your hand at cooking some traditional Italian cooking at home. There's a little Italian Market next door as well called, "The Market by Buon Appetito". You have to check it out, and see it for yourself.
So if you're new to San Diego or you're here to stay this a part of our town worth exploring and taking the time to swirl, sniff and sip your way to a some culinary pleasures of the Italian persuasion. Until next time stay thirsty my friends and Buon Appetito, ciao!
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Hey San Diego wine shopping fans I want to introduce you to another great value sure to please even the most finicky of palates and it's what some call the
poor man’s Rombauer,wonderingwhatI mean by that? Good question, if you had an opportunity to taste or drink Rombauer Chardonnay, you know exactly what I mean. For example a writer who uses lots of puns but isn't very funny [like me] would be a poor man's Oscar Wilde.
If you areWente Vineyards
this is what you would call a "back-handed"
compliment. If you are Rombauer Vineyards you are probably not to comfortable with another wine being tagged with that moniker [so my apologies in advance]. Nonetheless, Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Reserve Chardonnay, Monterey Arroyo Seco is exactly that, the poor man's Rombauer and is this phrase is bandied about as such in wine stores all over California and else where (like from the lips of wine rep's everywhere
Let me behonest hereRombauer
makes a great Chardonnay,a point towhich [nearly] everyone agrees, however with a price point starting somewhere around $29.99
each, it's not going to be the QPR [quality price ration] champ or even a competitor in that arena. With the economy the way it is now, folks who love to drink wine on a regular basis are looking to cut corners. well here is your answer! I have been drinking vintages of Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Chardonnay since 2004 and while each one differs a little, one thing which is not different is the overall consistent quality. Price ranges from 10.95 -17.96 a bottle and in the word's ofJennifer's Review
that is "uber-fabulous
".With that said, now it's time for the review! About the Winery:
Their heritage block wines are grown in specific vineyard blocks named for the pioneers who relate to the history of Wente Vineyards’ winemaking tradition and premier Estate vineyards, which was founded more than 125
years ago, Wente Vineyards is the country’s oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery, which is located just east of San Francisco in the historic Livermore Valley, Wente Vineyards.First Swirl:
In the glass the wine a golden apple colored core and pale rim. Swirling about in my glass it reveals good structure and viscosity First Sniff:
From what I recall in my notes this wine had some enticing aromas of pear, apple and fig and other citrus notes effortlessly wafting up from the glass. First Sip:
The wine has a creaminess associated with having a bit of oak influence, complimented by generous tropical notes typical of Monterey fruit. This is an excellent wine to pair with food or as stand alone sipper. Alcohol Content:
The wine weighed in at 13.5%
ABV, which is hardly noticed as this wine coats your palate with a suppleness normally associated with wines of a much higher caliber and price point. Winemaking Style:
Blending traditional and innovative winemaking practices, the winery draws fruit from approximately 3,000
acres of sustainably farmed Estate vineyards.Vineyards and Composition:
Arroyo Seco is widely regarded as one of the best places in California to grow Chardonnay. Riva Ranch is the name of the Wente family’s vineyard in theArroyo-Seco AVA
which is presently planted to three Dijon clones and two Wente clones. The cool growing season and the deep gravelly soil ripen the Chardonnay perfectly, creating a natural balance of sugar and acid. The varietal make-up of the current 2008
vintage is, 94%
Pinot Blanc, 2%
Gewurztraminer.Where to find it and Price:
Now about price and location, I found this wine at the San Diego Wine Company
selling for $11.95.
Most of you are already very familar with their location, but for the uninitiated they are centrally located on Miramar Road which can accessed from from the 805
or the 15
freeways. Pairing Suggestions:
Pairs wonderfully and easily with many food items, but it especially cries outtobesautéed scallops and clams on a bed of angel hair pasta drizzled with a dreamy Alfredo sauce and somesautéed fresh broccoli crowns, carrots and onions, but maybe that's just me.San Diego Wine Shopping Examiner Score:
Hey point seekers here's my score if your interested: This wine scored 92
points on the Cuvee Corner 100
point scale, which to some may seem a bit high, however you enter the QPR into this wines score and add wide availbility a much higher score is achieved.My Recommendation:
So there you have it San Diego wine shopping fans, another true bargain is uncovered by the Cuvée Corner Wine Blogand this is how I would characterize this wine: This is a drink-often wine, meaning it's as easy the wallet [or pocket-book
] as it is on the palate. Ordering this by the case is a great choice and can really be considered as an everyday drinker and a great value for very little money. Other Voices:
Just incase my words and opinions didn't sway you one bit, here's a blokewith much better credentials than Ihave speaking about this great bargain "A rich, creamy style, with complex fig, honeydew melon, spice and light toast oak. The fruit has a sweet edge, but this is a very complex and appealing style" – James Laube from Wine Spectator who gave this wine 89
points on their 100
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Hey San Diego wine [and culinary
]fans here's is another great opportunity to try out some great new wines, listen to some great tunes and feast on some chef inspired creations from some of San Diegos best restaruants. Thesecond annual Rhythm & Vine event will features wineries from some of the premier wine-producing regions in the nation, including Napa Valley
, Paso Robles
and others. Some of the award-winning wineries pouring this year include Callaway Vineyard and Winery, Kiamie Cellars, Quady Winery, Woof’n Rose Winery, and more.
Shopping for some great wines, well skip a trip to wine country and crowded tasting rooms, the vineyards best is coming to you via the Rhythm and Vine Music and Wine festival. So what are you waiting for, this is a great opportunity to sample many different wines before you buy. For an amazing low price of $75
you will get great food, great wine and some great tunes all in one place, what more could you ask for? You also will be supporting a wonderful community organization as all proceeds go to your LOCAL Boys and Girls clubs. More than Wine:
For those interested in more than just wine, the event also features craft breweries
and spirit companies and also featuring three musical performances, a silent auction and VIP
exclusive tent, this spectacular music, wine and food extravaganza will strike a new chord in San Diego’s North County and pave the way to a wonderful soulful inspired evening.
The Rhythm: You've heard about the Vine, but here's what to expect for the Rhythm, there will be performances by acoustic guitarist John Torres, classic rock band Crossroads and variety dance band Atomic Groove. Southern California wine and food lovers will get the chance to enjoy fine wines and gourmet food, while listening to outstanding music performed by some of San Diego’s favorite musicians.
John Torres, an up-and-coming singer/songwriter will kick off the night with a soothing sound that mixes folk, pop, and indie music, similar to the styles of John Mayer, Jack Johnson and Sara Bareilles.
Headliner: Atomic Groove, San Diego’s favorite variety dance band will hit center stage for a high energy performance, mixing musical styles of sophisticated jazz, treasured soul, classic rock and dance jams from the 1960s to today.
Where will it be: The 2nd Annual Rhythm & Vine takes place at the Westfield North County Fair Mall on Saturday, April 17 from 6:00-9:00 pm for General Admission, and 6:00-10:00 pm for VIP Admission, with a silent auction preview from 5:00-6:00 for all guests to attend.
Tickets for Rhythm & Vine are $75
for General Admission in advance, and $100 at the door. For those who would just like to enjoy the music and the food, a Designated Driver
ticket is also available for $40
in advance, and $90
at the door. “Enthusiasts who purchase tickets to Rhythm & Vine
will not only enjoy a night of outstanding wine, food and music, but will walk away knowing that they gave tremendous support to a fantastic cause.” added Miller. Just click here to purchase tickets
and again all event proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego.VIP TREATMENT:
Rhythm & Vine VIP's get a special treat with an after-hour party
until 10:00pm, access to a VIP tent filled with exclusive wines and gourmet foods, and a private performance by one of the performing bands. VIP
tickets are $125
in advance, and $150
at the door.VIP Stage Performer:
Making its sound on the VIP Stage is Crossroads, the classic rock band that delivers musical harmonies and versatile instrumentation modeled after the renowned musical styling of The Eagles, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Tom Petty, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Beatles, and The Allman Brothers.Community Outreach:
Proceeds from Rhythm & Vine support the Boys & Girl
s Clubs of Greater San Diego. Funds raised at the event allow theBoys and Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego
Clubs of Greater San Diego to continue to serve at-risk youth, and to expand its services to support more youth throughout the Greater San Diego Region. According to Jeff Miller, senior vice president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego. “Rhythm & Vine is the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego’s most important event as it allows us to gain new supporters, as well as raise money so we may continue our support of the 23,000 youth we serve each year,”.About the Boys & Girls Club:
For more than 65 years, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego
have been committed to serving at-risk youth between the ages of five and eighteen and reaching out to young people in need.Their sole purpose is to better serve the 23,000 youth who currently utilizetheir services in the Greater San Diego
Region.They have a staff of more than 160 employees andnow operate thirteen facilities (including a Teen Center) and four school-site programs throughout the Greater San Diego Region.
Rhythm & Vine has been produced in association with World of Wine Events and Fast Forward Event Productions, known nationally for the acclaimed San Diego Wine & Food Festival—the largest of its kind on the West Coast.
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Enter:Black Box Wines
I’m so honored that Bill has asked me to do a guest post on Cuvee Corner. Mostly I’m honored because I consider Bill to be very wine educated and mostly I consider myself, not. Bill has been great to me and realizes that I’m on a wine journey. Also, I live in Wisconsin. While Bill has the opportunity to spend time in actual vineyards, I spend my time in virtual vineyards and keeping my selection to what the best wine distributers bring my way in Wisconsin.
With that said, I would love to review Black Box Wine. There are bunch of reasons why I’m reviewing this wine; I want to tempt you into trying something outside of the bottle. I’m also reviewing this wine because I’m a box wine supporter…. And I’m reviewing this wine … okay … because Bill asked me to.
Size: 3 Litres
The Black Box Wine concept started when Ryan Sproule (vintner) realized that Europeans have been drinking high-end boxed wines for years. To them, the package was not the value … the wine was. So Ryan brought his idea to America. Of course we did have boxed wines already … you may know it as the “wine flavored” wine in a box of early years … I’ll leave you to guess who/what.
Black Box wine is on a mission to provide a great wine at an affordable everyday price. This way – we can have wine all the time! In other words, as the box says …”Think inside the box”. Boxing and Bagging wine is also friendlier to our environment; it takes less energy to produce and transport.
Wondering about the taste? To me this has a high alcohol taste but the berry plum finish is warm and creates a great wine for everyday use. It’s not a complex wine however … it’s also not lacking.
I actually love getting this wine for a group of friends, it’s convenient to bring to a party and it’s equal to bringing 4 bottles of wine. This makes the party a LOT of fun! … well… as long as I’m at the party too.
Black Box Wines is trying to lift itself out of the “boxed wine” stigma – It’s black packaging and it’svideo contest
of last year … may help more people see this wine as a premium box wine to take out in public!
Have you tried a boxed wine yet?
Cheers to boxes!
This review was written by guest contributor Jennifer of Jennifer Reviews
and see many of her many other great wine reviews and other product reviews. She is also a prolific Tweeter so if you not currently following her, please click here to here
to follow her.
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Honestly folks, I've lived my entire life in San Diego and until recently, San Diego hardly figured in anyone’s mind as a culinary destination. However in the last 10 years, San Diego chefs (natives and newcomers alike
) have redefined the local dining landscape. That said, these folks have drawn on several local strengths. First and foremost, San Diego’s local [Seafood]
bounty has few equals: the freshest seafood, four-season produce from some of the country’s most renowned organic farms, and local specialty purveyors of cheese and chocolate. But Seafood and what to pair with it wine-wise is the focus of this review.
This wine I'm about to review is what I would call the underdog of the wine world, not often picked for the first or even second string when a restaurant wine list is being compiled or being shopped for by consumers. While San Diego is blessed with an abundance of fresh fish and shellfish, yet one of the world's great Seafood wines is about as well-known here as snow storm in July.
What is that you may ask, none otherthan Muscadet, a white wine from France'sLoire
region that's as crisp as a freshlybuilt Cub-Cadet mower [just screamsSpring is here]and as fine a complement to all manner of good things from the sea as the water they once swam in. Produced from the humble Melon de Bourgogne
grape, Muscadet's appeal is not in its great complexity but its refreshing, straightforward lemon-lime and grapefruit flavors and bracing minerality.
First Swirl: After pouring this wine into my glass I found in looking at the core it was apale green[think honey dew melon] colored core and followed by a watery rim.
Sticking my fat half Irish nose into the glass I find offers a mix of lime, thyme, andlemon verbena
FirstSip: After giving this wine a good swirl in the glass I found this wine to be a delightfully refreshing and dominated by citrus, salt, chalk, and green apple. While one can’t call it complex, its combination of textural polish, mouth-watering purity, and invigoration.Nicely textured from beginning to end with nice weight and a fantastically long, juicy finish.
Show me the money: Part ofthis winesappeal can be found in its price, while many Muscadets may display the crispness of a brand-spanking-new greenback, it costs remarkably few of them, almost always less than $15 and coming in at all of $12.99 is the 2007 Dorices Muscadet Sevre-Maine Choisie.
Where to purchase:
This wine can be purchased through your localSan DiegoBevMo
, just click on the link to find a store near you that has this wine in stock and as oftodays writing this there are still a few left in stock.
Pairing Choices: To [California] palates which have grown up and have become accustomed to big, fruity, oaky, creamy [and there's nothing wrong with that]Chardonnays, it will seem a bit austere, but pour it with oysters or stone crab or lobster and you'll be seduced by its simple yet elegant charms. That tart, steely edge makes it a particularly good match for rich seafood dishes; oysters Rockefeller, coquilles St. Jacques, Lobster Thermidor, and the like.
With/without Food: Like I was mentioning above this is not your cocktail type wine to sit back and sip with a bunch of friends, while engaged ininnocuous conversations, oh no this wine should be your go-to Sea Food paring champion. One sip as a chaser with some fresh oysters will harken you back to simpler, less contentious times and enthrall you with a sense of the sublime. A match made in heaven!
About the Label: Two things on Domaine's label you want to look for when buying Muscadet. One is the qualifier "Sevre et Maine," which means the wine was produced in the sub region considered home to the highest-quality Muscadets. Two are the words "sur lie," meaning the wine has been aged on the lees [no not the pants you're wearing], the leavings of the fermentation process, further developing its flavors and even giving it a slight spritz [bubbly characteristic].
My Recommendation: Go get yourself some of this very delightful wine and grab some Seafood and have yourself a party. This is a great wine to purchase by the case as it's easy on the wallet and pleasurable on the palate. In my mind this represents a great value and a definite keeper to have in your wine cellar. Another QPR winning wine, that will make your next SeaFood daliance [a quick flirtatious or amorous], a wonderful experience. Until next time Cheers everyone!
Okay folks I know my tiny little opinion about wine pales in comparison [and these guys are fond of reminding everyone of this]to the likes of Heimoff
, Parker and Tanzer, so this where I includetheir reviews or opinions about the wine I reviewed and will hopefully encourage you to give this wine a swirl: So a Mr.Parker has added this to his list of Wine Bargains: The World's Best Wine Values Under $25, here'shis review.
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Todays review is going to revolve around the Centellino Areadivino Wine Aerator/Decanter.I've been testing this decanter/aeratorout putting it through it paces. I tested against my favorite Riedel Cabernet-Decanter
and well the results were inconclusive. I really could not say that the Centellino was able to decant my wine any better than my decanter or vice versa. That said, it was able deliver very similar results in a much shorter about of time. According to the website:
The "Centellino" decants, oxidises and provides the perfect quantity of wine for tasting 100ml. for red and white wine, 60ml. forPort stylewine, and 35ml. for Brandy and distilled spirits.
Okay no disagreement here, the Centellino does pour a perfect 3-4 ouce pour into your glass and performs a double aeration which is the premise behind its claim to decant in moments, instead of hours.How to use the Centellino:
Simply fit the Centellino into the bottle [and snug it down into the bottle holding the wooden piece
]. Then fill the glass amphora by tilting the bottle back towards the amphora [well
].During this procedure you will see the wineswirling around thesides of the amphora [designed this way]into the bowl, whereitaerates the wine gently the first time. Then pour from the amphora into your glass, where you will see the wine glugging [gurgling sound of liquid]again as it pours from the amphora into the glass [pay close attention here, or you will be pouring undecanted wine]and according to the website, it's "releasing the full aroma and bouquet of the wine"
which is the purpose of decanting.The Centellino Areadivino will alsocome with plug to keepleft over wine sealed and preserved in the wine bottlefor picking up where you left off. Pros:
The Centellino Decanter/Aerator
is relatively easy to use once you get the hang of it. I tested this product on several different types of wine and found that a majority of it claims are accurate. It does pour a very neat glass of wine. I like they it snug’s down nicely into any bottle size opening, so you don't have any fear [and I mean zero]that it may dislodge during pouring. The Centellino appears to be very effective at softening tannins which of course resulted in more pleasant finish and pleasuable drinking experience. I even used it on some bargain wine samples I was sent and it appeared to remove any bitterness or bad after-taste sometimes associated with mediocre bulk wines. While traditional decanting is time consuming, cumbersome, and to someinconvenient the designof the Centellino seems to speed up this process with ease and convenience.Cons:
It's seems to be a little drippy [at the end of the pour tube], and if you're at all like me you hate to waste even one drip from a favorite bottle. Once you have poured the contents from the bowl [amphora] into your glass, you have to let it hang over the glass a little longer to get those last few drips of wine or risk losing that wine to the placemat orthe floor. It's also a little
difficult to clean, you can pour warm water through it to rinse it out [I don't recommend soap] if you have hard water like I do, then those stains can form on the inside, because after it has been rinsed and sits drying you will have a few places the water can pool, no matter the angle. It being crystal, it's pretty delicateand potentially could easily break if not handled correctly [that said, I seen these in action at a few Trade Tastings and I didn't see any casualties].Where to Purchase and Price:
There are a number folks offering this product online and nearly everyone is selling it for the same price, so you might as well get it from Fiorino Italian Imports
who's selling it a number of variations [gift boxed sets]. But if you just want the basic product, with out all the other "bell and whistles" it's selling for $59.99 each. Full Disclosure:
I recieved this product for review as a sample from Fiorino Italian Imports
.Other Voices: A. Meyers
: I've had this wine decanter for 3
years now and it was a gift from my grandfather. I use this on almost every bottle and it brings out the flavors in the wine quite wonderfully. I will say that the wooden piece on the end (the side with the stopper that goes into the bottle
) eventually fell apart and now I just have the rubber stopper at the bottom. It looks a bit more tacky but the decanter still works great! Additionally, this little guy is a bit of a pain to clean due to its odd shape. I usually drip some soap into it and run water around it for a while, shake it around, then run some more water around.
Like I mentioned above and in other posts about my recent visit to the Family Winemakers of California San Diego tasting a few weeks back, I saw a few wineries using this product and they seemed very content with it's performance. One winery in particular, Frank Family Vineyards
who make some great wine, said that using the Centellino for their tasting events was like, "putting their best foot forward" that folks is high praise.My Recommendation:
If you don't already have a decanter, this is a great one to have around the house. It's very easy to use and will be a great way to have better wine experience in the future. If you don't want to drink the whole bottle, you don't have to simply put the Centellinos little stopper back in place and it's designed to perserve your wine, until next time. I would only keep like this for a few days. This is also a great gift to give that wine-snob in your life that seems to already have everything. Until next time cheers everyone!
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