Northern California Wine The Wine Life of Northern Cali! <![CDATA[ A Must Go In Napa Valley!]]>
For those of you who aren't familiarly with Chateau Montelena, this is the winery that pretty much put Napa Valley on the map. Back in 1976 there was a wine tasting with France's top wine tasters. Chateau Montelena's 1973 Chardonnay won the so called "Judgement of Paris" which in turn made Napa Valley a world renowned location for wine making. There is even a film made about the story called Bottle Shock.

Upon entry you drive down a little tree covered road that eventually opens up to a awesome view of the vineyard. You then walk up a hill to find yourself staring at a huge castle looking building. The smells of French Oak and fermenting wine hit your nose as you get closer and all you can think about it tasting some wine.

We were immediately greeted and brought into our private tasting area, which was a kitchen off the side of the main tasting room. This kitchen was amazing and looked like something out of a home building catalog. We tasted 5 different wines which included the Sauvignon Blanc, the Chardonnay, the Zinfandel or as our guide liked to call it the Primovito, the Cabernet Sauvignon and their 2003 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. To me the best ones were the Sauvignon Blanc and the 2003 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact I would have to say out of all the wines I tasted while in Napa. I figure I tasted about 5 different wines at each of the 8 wineries which is 40 different wines. The one that wins out of all 40 wines is the 2003 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon by far.

After the tasting we walked around the estate and had a little bread and cheese while drinking some of the Montelena Sauvignon Blanc at the edge of the grape vines.

It was by far one of the best experiences being on the Chateau Montelena Estate. The people were friendly, the winery was beautiful and the wine was to die for. I highly recommend checking out Chateau Montelena when you are in Napa!]]> Mon, 8 Nov 2010 19:21:18 +0000
<![CDATA[ The Food & Wine Festival - Not just anything on your plate, but a worldwide experience.]]> Mary Ann and I are really looking forward to our upcoming trip to the "World" so we can visit for the first time, the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Although now celebrating it's 15th year, our trips have never coincided with this event. There has been much written on this event, since it is a major gathering place for the entire Disney fan and blogger community. My purpose today is to provide a summary of what to expect, for who haven't yet made their way there for this event that started October 1 and will end November 14.


There is so much scheduled during this special event that is it impossible to do it all, and from what I have read, it is best not to try. The locals make this a regular visit the entire month, but for us annuals or less frequent visitors, it's best to plan over the long term. The main event are 27 sampling stations to enjoy appetisers, entries, desserts, wines, beers and liquors. There are special programs, demonstrations and presentations as well as the reserved programming and the musical acts featured in Eat to the Beat.

You can download the entire Festival Guide by clicking here. And here is the Festival Guidemap. One of the best ideas to manage your spending is to purchase one of the Festival theme cards (gift cards) with $30 to $50 deposited. You can always refill it (and then save as souvenir), but it makes paying for your purchase convenient and on a budget. In addition to the marketplace stops, you'll find a variety of entertainment on your stroll around the world such as musicians and performers, great to stop, watch and digest your food so you can make room for more.
Let's start with the International Marketplaces, the centerpiece of the Festival. These are the 27 booth areas. New this year are Belgium and South Korea, plus Charcuterie & Cheese. Also new are 15 Beers for 15 Years. And even though I am very loyal for the local beer in my community, Saranac, I'm looking forward to choosing my three pack of 6 oz selections from the list that include: Fischer Amber, Full Sail Amber, Key West Sunset Ale, La Fin Du Monde, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Smithwick’s, Windmer Drifter Pale Ale, Widmer Hefeweizen, Abita Amber, Abita Purple Haze, B.B. Burgerbrau, Banks Beer, Florida Lager, Sessions Lager and Viru Pilsner.
The new market offering by Belgium will include: Steamed Mussels with Roasted Garlic Cream, Freshly Baked Waffles with Berry Compote and Whipped Cream, Stella Artois, Godiva Chocolate Iced Coffee, Leffe and Hoegaarden (beers). South Korea will offer these items: Lettuce Wraps with Roast Pork and Kimchi Slaw, Barbecue Short Rib with Steamed Rice and Cucumber Kimchi, Honey Ginger Tea, Jinro Chamisul Soju and Bohae Bokbunjajoo (Black Raspberry Rice Wine).
Also new this year is the Charcuterie & Cheese booth. Included will be: Cheese Fondue with Croutons and Roasted Potatoes, Applewood Smoked Beef, Duck; and Ham, MARTINI® Prosecco, Ace Joker Hard Cider and MacMurray Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.
The pricing for these sample items can be anywhere from $3 to $6 each, more or less. However, I'm told the portion are fair, and it doesn't take long to fill up. [I want to that The Disney Food Blog for listing all of these and the marketplace items from all nations.] You should visit the Disney Food Blog, particularly if you want to see pictures of what's offered at each marketplace, with pricing on all the items.

One of the complementary features of this year's event is the opening of three new foodie locations around the World Showcase. There is the Via Napoli restaurant, featuring what is touted as being the best Pizza in Florida (and this will be tested during our visit as we have an ADR already set). Another new restaurant is La Hacienda de San Angel, opposite the Mexico pavilion and along the Lagoon. A third new shop just opening in the Germany pavilion called Karmalle-Kuche, which will feature caramel covered treats made just for you such as caramel corn, apples, strawberries, marshmallows, cookies, cakes and more.

For those who are looking to keep track of their experience traversing the World Showcase there is the Marketplace Discovery Passport, covering your journey with stamped art from each marketplace of your food and drink journey. This will also be a wonderful souvenir from our trip. 

A featured special event, for which ADRs are also definitely needed is the Party for the Senses. This event, on Saturdays from 6:30 to 9:00 pm will cost $135 per person, or $225 per person if you add Wine View Lounge Privileges for a reserved table, early admission, an artisanal cheese station and more. The event begins with a reserved seat at Eat to the Beat in the American Gardens Theatre and your own personal tasting stations. The entertainment are an up close Cirque du Soleil performance right at the party.

There will be a host of Culinary Demonstrations, featuring professional chefs, many who are well known to Disney fans and in their fields, that feature food and wine pairings. These are not too expensive so reserving admission for one or two sounds like a good idea. They are $9 or $13 each and run three times a day at 1, 3 and 5 pm. In addition there will be Wine & Beverage Seminars, like the Culinary programs are 45-minutes each, but whose cost is only $8 or $12 each. They will feature products of selected wineries for learning a few tips of the trade and sampling their wares. These run at 2, 4 and 6 pm. By the way, the Festival Welcome Center will be open from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm each day.

There are also several different free activities that feature culinary-related topics. Authors Without Borders runs from Friday to Sunday at 12:15 pm and 4:00 pm. Here you can listen to authors from the food and beverage industry for 30-minute topic conversations. During Authentic Taste Seminars, also Friday to Sunday but at 2:00 and 6:00 pm, the origins, properties and history of pure ingredients will be the subject presented by experts.

A schedule of Meet and Greets with Book Signings by a celebrated author of the day will be held, as well as Bottle Signings. By the way, with everything happening for the Festival, Epcot Admission is required in addition to any other fees charged. Another free event is the Seasons of the Vine, a 7-minute movie that introduces wine growing. This will be run continuously during the day.


And it wouldn't be Disney World without shops to browse and buy. There is the Intermissions Cafe for snacks, wine and cheese, The Stockpot Shop features Festival-related commemorative items, The Cellar for choosing your own bottle from among the 300 wines showcased during the Festival, and the Tasteful Chapters book store. Shopping, by the way, offers great opportunities for building a collection of Festival-related memorabilia. There will be the cookbook, but also a really entertaining poster, bags and cooking items and clothing. This year's poster artist is Tim Rogerson. He will appear from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm at the Festival Gift Shop located near the Canada boat dock. This will happen on October 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, 31 and November 6, 7, 13, and 14.
One of the activities that we are looking forward to is one of the special culinary/beverage programs which in addition to park tickets also involved an admission cost. We booked the 3D Disney's Dessert Discovery for $45 per person. This will be held on selected Thursdays and Fridays from 7:00 to 8:30 pm and includes V.I.P. viewing of IllumiNations. The event offers sampling of desserts and cordials.
Sweet Sundays feature a noted pastry chef or baker to demonstrate three signature desserts, a breakfast buffet and sparking wines. The remaining dates of October 17, 24, 31 and Nov. 7 and 14. Personalities from NYS, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Ontario Canada and Valencia California each have a featured day. This is $85 per period and held on Sundays from 10:00 am to Noon. Celebrating Family & Friends in the Kitchen are three-course lunches demonstrating how to prepare an appetizer, main course and dessert alone with wine pairing. This will be on Fridays, from 10:00 am to Noon and are $110 a person except for the featured event with Iron Chef and Kouzzina host Cat Cora for $140 each. Some other hosts include Robin Miller from the Food Network, Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel and Scott Hunnel of Victoria & Albert's.
The Epcot Wine Schools will teach you how to taste several regional wines and concludes with a reception and certificate. The cost is $125 per person, and will be held on selected Saturdays from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Remaining dates are Oct. 16, 23 and Nov. 13. Featured wineries include Conundrum Wines California and Fairview Wines of South Africa among others. Cheese Seminars feature expert "fromagers" pairing wine and beverages with the cheese selections. Upcoming dates are Oct. 16, 23, 30 and Nov. 6 and 13. Cheese selections are made by representatives of the Artisanal Premium Cheese Center in New York City.
On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at La Cava Del Tequila in Mexico there will be Mexico Tequila Tastings for $45 a person along with samples of tostadas. This will be from Noon to 1:00 pm. And also for connoisseurs of French liqueur its Taste, Shake and Indulge Like the French with Cognac tasting plus Crepes Suzette and Souffles Glaces au Grand Marnier made by the chefs at this location, the Bistro de Paris in the France pavilion. This will be held Oct. 16, 23 and 30, Saturdays from 2:30 to 4:00 pm.
Another alcoholic tasting focus are the Food and Wine Pairings at Tutto Italia Ristorante, Italy (Saturdays, 2:00 - 4:00 pm), Tokyo Dining, Japan (Mondays, 3:30 to 5:00 pm) and Restaurant Marrakesh, Morocco (Tuesday, 3:30 to 5:00 pm). These are $65 per person pairing three regional wines with three tasting size portions of regional cuisines at the listed Epcot restaurants.

The highest individual cost events range from $125 per person to $225 per person, plus one at $450 each. The latter is the Culinary Adventure in Signature Dining offered at Victoria & Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. For $125 you can select Portobello Italian Trattoria and Bongo's Cuban Cafe, both in Downtown Disney and for $140 select from Kouzzina on the BoardWalk and Fulton's Crab House at Downtown. There are a total of 12 restaurants with days remaining at special signature dining at 6:30 pm, paired with wines and featuring what is described as a "glorious culinary experience".

The final major event of Food & Wine are the Eat to the Beat Concert Series with shows in the America Gardens Theatre at 5:15, 6:30 and 7:45 pm. Every two or three days a new performer appears, and for the period remaining until November 14, here are some: Howard Jones, Expose, 38 Special, Night Ranger, Billy Ocean, Starship starring Mickey Thomas, Boyz II Men, Roger Hodgson, Jon Secada, Hanson, Rick Springfield and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.
So, that is the summary, and not previously attending, I'm sure we'll discover even more will be going not announced in time for the printing of the Festival Guide. As much as Disney is a family activity, I've always believed that Walt Disney World is for adults as much if not more than for children. The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is an example of this theme. So, are you going this year?
]]> Mon, 25 Oct 2010 00:08:15 +0000
<![CDATA[Merryvale Vineyards Quick Tip by devora]]> Mon, 17 May 2010 21:00:45 +0000 <![CDATA[Del Dotto Vineyards Quick Tip by devora]]> Mon, 17 May 2010 20:43:44 +0000 <![CDATA[Clos Pegase's 2008 Mitsukos's Chardonnay Quick Tip by CuveeCornerWineBlog]]> Mon, 26 Apr 2010 19:12:52 +0000 <![CDATA[ An evening with Clos Pegase's 2008 Mitsukos's Chardonnay]]> Hey everyone near and far I 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'm very pleased with it's great taste and 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 are on 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 the samples 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 for a great [simple] recipe, a Lime Cilantro Marinade which I had fish swimming in all day, prior to throwing them into the oven in the evening. 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 just mere 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 approach and 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 what they celebrate" to which I say, Viva La Terroir!

First Swirl: 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 found nectarine, peach notes swirling around and 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 balanced against a backdrop of toasted 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 is 100% Chardonnay and the fruits come from various blocks which includes: Clos Pegase's heritage clones, which form the core of the blend, Wente clones for 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't fantastic matters little in comparison to the giants of the printed-word on wine, that's why I always include one of their opinions to add weight to my review and demonstrate 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 say about their 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. The San 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.

My Recommendations:
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 and three to hide in your cellar for further development.

]]> Mon, 26 Apr 2010 17:07:59 +0000
<![CDATA[Spellbound Petite Sirah 2006 Quick Tip by mweber82]]> Fri, 9 Apr 2010 22:08:26 +0000 <![CDATA[Dorices Muscadet Sevre-Maine Choisie Quick Tip by CuveeCornerWineBlog]]> Wed, 31 Mar 2010 17:11:24 +0000 <![CDATA[Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara Chardonnay 2007 Quick Tip by WardKadel]]> Tue, 30 Mar 2010 00:15:34 +0000 <![CDATA[Joseph Phelps Insignia 2005 Quick Tip by CuveeCornerWineBlog]]> Mon, 29 Mar 2010 16:23:10 +0000 <![CDATA[J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay 2007 Quick Tip by CuveeCornerWineBlog]]> Mon, 29 Mar 2010 16:20:26 +0000 <![CDATA[Buena Vista Chardonnay 2006 Quick Tip by CuveeCornerWineBlog]]> Mon, 29 Mar 2010 16:19:06 +0000 <![CDATA[Ridge Geyserville (half-bottle) 2005 Quick Tip by CuveeCornerWineBlog]]> Mon, 29 Mar 2010 16:16:27 +0000 <![CDATA[Hess Allomi Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Quick Tip by CuveeCornerWineBlog]]> Mon, 29 Mar 2010 16:14:20 +0000 <![CDATA[Robert Mondavi Oakville District Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Quick Tip by CuveeCornerWineBlog]]> Mon, 29 Mar 2010 16:11:38 +0000 <![CDATA[Duckhorn Three Palms Merlot 2005 Quick Tip by CuveeCornerWineBlog]]> Mon, 29 Mar 2010 16:09:46 +0000 <![CDATA[Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blanc 2004 Quick Tip by CuveeCornerWineBlog]]> Mon, 29 Mar 2010 16:05:36 +0000 <![CDATA[Seghesio Old Vine Zinfandel 2006 Quick Tip by CuveeCornerWineBlog]]> Mon, 29 Mar 2010 16:03:21 +0000 <![CDATA[Clos Pegase Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Quick Tip by CuveeCornerWineBlog]]> Mon, 29 Mar 2010 16:02:32 +0000 <![CDATA[ Raspberry, cherry, Orange zest and good!]]>
Nose: Orange peel and raspberry come first, followed by bing cherry and a little strawberry

Palate: Great mouthfeel and good acidity that isn't quite racy, this is more of a fruity wine with all of the raspberry and cherry from the nose, finishing with orange and orange peel.  Good!]]> Sat, 27 Mar 2010 22:48:58 +0000
<![CDATA[ A truthful ride through wine discovery and enjoyment!]]>  Natalie MacLean deserves all of the buzz that her first collection has garnered since its release in 2006. Red, White, and Drunk All Over: A Wine Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass (978-1582346489) is a phenomenal work of wine writing that manages to touch on all aspects of wine from producer to consumer, with a freshness and vivacity that more than lives up to its reputation.

You might be familiar with Natalie MacLean through her highly rated and visited website, Nat Decants. You might have even read her article about Valentine’s Day ideas here on Ms. MacLean has built up a very strong following of wine enthusiasts in her native Canada, as well as around the rest of the world. Her writing has garnered her prestigious awards from numerous food and wine organizations including the James Beard Foundation, the Association of Food Journalists and the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Her website has a tremendous food and wine pairing tool and her free newsletter is read by tens of thousands of readers every month.

Ms. MacLean writes from the angle that wine and food are tactile, sensual experiences. As such, descriptions of both should reflect that sensuality, particularly when it those experiences titillate the body like a fine, brooding Brunello or a viscous and dripping demi glace. Descriptions such as “I close my eyes as the aroma envelops me, a silk drapery of scent brushing my cheeks and settling gently around my shoulders,” given while conveying the experience of tasting an elegantly aged Burgundy abound in the book where all of the senses are considered necessary to explain a wine.

Natalie MacLeanThe stories cover all aspects of the wine trade and you follow Ms. MacLean all over the world as she investigates wine-making, drinking and even wine marketing. Her ability to maintain dignity while still displaying an unusual amount of self-deprecation in her writing only adds to the story-telling. Ms. MacLean finishes her book with a great guidebook to food and wine pairings.

Red, White… is one of the most entertaining and riveting wine books I have ever read. The wine facts and knowledge are continuously purveyed in a manner that almost leaves you surprised at your new status as a fount of wine information by the end…you don’t realize how much you’ve learned after all the fun you had following her adventures. I highly recommend this book for wine newbies and seasoned, purple-lipped winos.

Disclosure: I received this book compliments of Natalie MacLean and her publisher.

Nat Decants FREE Wine E-Newsletter Wine picks, articles and humor from Natalie MacLean, named the World’s Best Drink Writer at the World Food Media Awards in Australia. Natalie is also the author of Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass. For more details on this book and to sign up for the newsletter, visit

*This article was previously published at Vinopanion on, 03/08/10.

]]> Sat, 27 Mar 2010 22:43:57 +0000
<![CDATA[Paso Robles Wine Festival Quick Tip by jrjohnson]]> Shayne]]> Fri, 26 Mar 2010 18:54:25 +0000 <![CDATA[2006 Cheval Sauvage Quick Tip by Savvygirl]]> Fri, 19 Mar 2010 05:30:35 +0000 <![CDATA[Recommended Books]]> Sun, 14 Mar 2010 19:46:46 +0000 <![CDATA[Hess Collection Cabernet, Allomi Vineyard 2007 Quick Tip by WardKadel]]> Thu, 11 Mar 2010 06:15:18 +0000 <![CDATA[ Super-tasty and ageable red blend that has an unusual composition!]]> From my WineLog at

g> Darker ruby, violet tinges

Nose: Charred earth, dried leather with plush, deep black fruit underneath that is just poking through right now.

Palate: Plush blackberry here with wonderful black cherry in the mid-palate, followed by chewy tannins and again, great acid.  Good!]]> Tue, 9 Mar 2010 07:50:38 +0000
<![CDATA[ Complex, juicy and dry sparkling rosé brings the romance!]]> From my WineLog at

g> A beautiful bright pink/red, with a fine bead and extremely robust mousse.

Nose: Wonderful, bright and juicy strawberry comes out first far from the glass, then juicy ripe cherry comes through, followed by some creamier, bread undertones.

Palate: Also quite good, with a lively mouth from the great food-centric acidity, followed by that mouthwatering red fruit from the nose and again, the slight cream that comes in towards the mid-palate and into the also crisp, long finish. Well done.
]]> Tue, 9 Mar 2010 07:37:25 +0000 <![CDATA[ A book for wine and Introspection, with good times and good friends!]]> Sippin' On Top of the World by David WhiteI received a very intriguing book sample a few months back, “Sipping On Top of the World: Toasting Good Times and Better Days,” courtesy of the author, David White and his organization, the Institute of Wine & Spirituality.  I say intriguing because while I’ve also considered the premise of the book, to actually see an entire life philosophy designed around its topic is quite novel, no pun intended!  David proposes that wine can help to direct oneself to the necessary reflection, introspection and celebration of life through its vinous pleasure.  Coming from a lifelong interest in philosophic and religious texts, I was very interested to read through this book.

David’s work of non-fiction is structured into six subject sections of 88 different “Sips” or short essays discussing different and concise subjects that can be used to launch a larger discussion amongst oneself or with a small group of like-minded friends.  The essays are the remainder of a total of 160 some-odd conversations and emails that David has had with various friends and associates over the years.   As such, many are scribed by David himself, or by various guest authors and philosophers that have been heart-felt friends of David over the years.  At the end of each Sip is a set of 3 questions to help guide discussion around each topic and 1 additional blank question for each reader to submit their own Reflection Question for a topic.

One of things that I most appreciated about the collection was their inherent connection to and happy reliance upon the pleasure, calmness, altruism and self-awareness that can come with a glass of fine wine and the comforting embrace of long-time friends.  I have *exactly* the same belief and have wondered time and again, at the ability of wine to induce such expansion.  Reading through the different Sips in “Sippin’“, I found some of the same feelings and thoughts that I’d enjoyed while having good wine with great friends and family over the years.  The shortness of the essays sometimes seemed overly austere.  While I can understand that these are meant as lunching points for further introspection, many times I was just getting into a Sip to find that I was on the last paragraph.  Many of my favorite tomes over the years, while leaving self-analysis to the reader, have also provided more of a starting point for the ruminations.

That said, I did find some of the Sips as good companion ideas to issues that I’m currently dissecting in my own life.  David wrote a very incisive essay entitled “How are Wines & People Parallel in Mellowing With Age?” which gave me one of those “of course!” moments while reading through its lines.  IWS Advisory Board member Sondra Barrett wrote another favorite entitled “What Happens in Accessing Inner Beauty”.  Here she analyzes the mistakes that come with taking something or someone at face value. First impressions are very hard to make and just as hard to receive with a mind that is tempered by the notion that first impression is just that; it is one single experience.

I found “Sippin’ on Top of the World” to be a good introduction for someone that might be just starting to experience the physical, mental and emotional joys of wine.  While I didn’t find that this book fit my particular tastes for philosophic or meditative texts, I think that it can be quite appealing to a number of my friends and readers.  You can find David White’s book at the IWS website, or it is also available at a number of wineries and on Amazon.  Cheers!

*This review was previously published on 03/07/10 on Vinopanion at

]]> Mon, 8 Mar 2010 06:51:34 +0000
<![CDATA[Inniskillin Ice Wine Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Sat, 6 Mar 2010 16:25:14 +0000 <![CDATA[Red Wine Quick Tip by Sharrie]]> Sat, 6 Mar 2010 16:23:10 +0000 <![CDATA[Red Wine Quick Tip by Count_Orlok_22]]> Mon, 11 Jan 2010 21:28:51 +0000 <![CDATA[ A wine tasting like no other in Paso Robles]]> The Festival
The Paso Robles Wine Festival is arguably the best wine festival in existence today.  Located in the quaint rural town of Paso Robles the festival takes place in a great city park filled with shade trees, a historical library and streets lined with great shopping, restaurants, tasting rooms and galleries .  The venue is not the only thing that sets this wine festival apart from others.  It is common to have the actual winemaker or winery owner pouring their own wines at this event and they are always happy to chat it up and answer any questions you might have.  

More than Wine
Wine is not the only draw to the Paso Robles Wine Festival.  The festival also features live music, a demonstration kitchen (featuring some of the best local chefs like Evan Treadwell and Maegen Loring) and artisan alley highlighting some of the Central Coast best artisan producers of olive oil, bread, cheese, beef and lamb.  If you are more the picnic type, bring a blanket and the kids and hang out on the lawn, listen to live music and grab a bite from one of the many food vendors at the festival.

The Splurge
If you are looking for an even more intimate experience check out the Reserve Event held on Friday evening, also in the park.  This event is a little smaller where about 50 wineries show off their best wine and pair it up with a bounty of fantastic food from some of the best chefs in the area.  Last year I had a glass of Villacana wine, poured by Alex Villacana himself, and then headed over for a lamb burger that was served by Meagen Loring from the Park Restaurant.... truely an amazing experience.

Check it all out at

]]> Fri, 23 Oct 2009 06:03:14 +0000
<![CDATA[ To sin or not to sin!]]>
So, what did I do with them? For my own consumption, I turned them all into Sangria!!! Now, if that's not sinful, I don't know what is! But a Danish friend of mine who's always supportive told me that everyone does things in their own way. So be it and let it be :-)  Until one day when he finds out what I do with all these wines, that is ;-)

When I was in Paris, a Parisian friend of mine told me to get those from St. Julien, St. Estephe & Pomerol. Well, there goes my Euro 75! I then gave it as a present to my dad and he told me it's good. I didn't even had a sip of it! Talk about doing a review of red wine, that's a joking matter! All I know is Bordeaux (well, I do know how to pronounce it ;-)) and Chateaux which I did visits. Beautiful region of France and a must if you do go visit.

Let's see, what else do I know?
  • I know France is number 1 country for red wine but in recent years, drinkers have been adventurous and are picking up wines from South Africa, Chile and Australia. When I was in Capetown and visited a local vineyard, I found reasonably good red and white wine. 
  • There are wines labelled as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Shiraz.
  • In 2001, 2002, 2004, wines are of excellent quality. In 2005 wine was stellar.
  • If you are a collector, vintage wine is highly desirable and age is a very important consideration.

Well, at the end of the day, I still know nothing much about red wine. But hey, I think I've drank quite a few good ones as a matter of fact. I know, I know, the world is unfair, but what can I say? Enjoy it while it lasts? ;-)]]> Wed, 16 Sep 2009 08:42:16 +0000
<![CDATA[ Extreme Winemaking!]]> icewine was in the Okanagen valley of Canada. In the beautiful city of Kelowna, I had my first taste of this amazing wine in a vineyard with the awesome view of the lake as its backdrop.I do not recall the name of the vineyard but I don't think it's Inniskillin. I enjoyed the wine so much so I thought about getting a home in Kelowna thereafter & I was not even a drinker! Not now and certainly not back then!

However, after I left Canada, I found Inniskillin to be one that's popularly & successfully marketed across the world. Other than champagne, port and some dessert wines, Icewine is one of my favorite type of wines. Apart from the Niagara Falls & the Canadian Rockies, Icewine is probably something that's truly unique to Canada. I've lived in Canada for 3 years and cold is something that you've to enjoy to continuing living there. Hehe... that's one big reason why I'm not living in Canada right now. I don't enjoy cold weather that much! BUT, I enjoy COLD drinks a great deal. Icewines are great stuff! :-) Love it, love it, love it!

As a product, I think the Canadian has successfully marketed it as something truly unique, sensual and yet untouchable. It's something that you'd want to pick up when at the duty free shop. At least you'd want to buy it for someone special, if not for yourself! I love the fact that it doesn't come in a huge bottle either. And sometimes when you're lucky, you can find those tiny bottles which the airport duty free shops usually give it as gifts. Those are great for one's own enjoyment! As I've mentioned in another earlier review about Oregon's Hood River Vineyards Marionberry Wine, I love sweet wines & icewine is one such wine. According to Inniskillin: "The finished Icewine is intense, sweet and sumptuous, yet balanced with brilliant acidity, creating a unique sensation on the palate. Renowned for fruit flavours ranging from mango to peach to lychees, Icewine is truly a natural wonder and extreme winemaking at its best, yielding the impressions of tropical tastes wrought from the frigid extremes of the icy Canadian winterscape."


Inniskillin Ice Wine, Vin de Glace from Ezi Evolution on Vimeo.

If you like to find out more about icewine and its making, watch this video by Inniskillin.]]> Fri, 4 Sep 2009 16:38:02 +0000
<![CDATA[ The counterfeiting scam that rocked the wine world.]]> "Rare wine may be the only luxury-priced commodity in the world that does not come with a guarantee of authenticity.  The appearance of dishonest segments of society with only one objective, to take full advantage of the enormous opportunity that exists to make a quick buck by selling bogus wines, is not that shocking.  This has always been a is a subject that needs to be addressed." 
This rather ominous warning sounded by the noted wine expert Robert H. Parker Jr. in 1996 seems to neatly sum up the state of affairs in the world of rare wines in the mid 1990's.  Over the previous quarter century or so the market for old and rare wine had changed rather dramatically.  It was no longer the exclusive purview of the old money men of European descent.   With the world economy booming, there were lots of nouveau rich players from America and Asia who now had the money and craved the notoriety of being able to participate in this rather prestigious pastime.  "The Billionaire's Vinegar:  The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine" tells the tale of these frenzied years that saw the price of rare wines skyrocket.  Author Benjamin Wallace gives his readers a look-see into a world that only the rich and famous previously had access to.  It is at once a disturbing and riveting saga.

The story of "The Billionaire's Vinegar" seems to center around a rather shadowy figure named Hardy Rosenstock.  Rosenstock was  a German collector who claimed to be in possession of  a cache of extraordinarily old and rare wines that were discovered in 1985  in the basement of a house about to be razed in Paris.  Rosenstock claimed that one of the bottles was a Chateau Lafite from 1787 which many collectors considered to be the Holy Grail of rare wines.  Furthermore, Rosenstock alleged  that the initials "Th. J." carved into the bottle made it likely that the bottle had belonged to Thomas Jefferson, a connoisseur of fine wine who had spent several years in Paris and who was known to have purchased large quantities of wine during his time in the city.   Rodenstock consigned his highly prized bottle to Christie's for auction.  The auction would be conducted by another major player in this drama, Michael Broadbent,  who was the highly respected head of Christie's wine department.  Before placing the bottle on the auction block in December of 1985 Broadbent conducted what he considered to be a thorough investigation of the bottle and became convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that this bottle was authentic.   At the extraordinary auction a member of the legendary Forbes family purchased this bottle for the record setting price of $156,000!   

Meanwhile, there were rumblings that something was amiss here.  Rumors persisted that the bottle that Kip Forbes purchased for his family was a fake.   Officials from Monticello (the home of Thomas Jefferson) could not vouch for the bottle's authenticity.   Over the next several years more and more of the bottles associated with Rodenstock were deemed suspicious.  A feud would erupt between two of the world's most prestigious auction houses.  Sotherby's alleged that Christie's was handling a lot of bottles for which no provenance existed.  And while all this was going on the prices for these bottles continued to escalate as more and more well-heeled collectors deemed them desirable.  Although most wine afficianados went to great lengths to keep the problem under wraps the situation was clearly getting out of control and needed to be addressed.   

In "The Billionaire's Vinegar" Benjamin Wallace chronicles what went down over the next two decades before many of these thorny issues would finally  be resolved.   You will learn the techniques of those involved in producing the faux vino.   You will also meet many of the wine afficianados who became victims of these scams and the man who finally resolved to do something about it.   Finally, you will discover the new techologies that would once and for all resolve many of these long standing issues.  "The Billionaire's Vinegar:  The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine"  is an exceptionally entertaining and well written book.  I learned an awful lot about a topic I knew nothing about.  I like that.   Very highly recommended! ]]> Tue, 14 Jul 2009 17:00:24 +0000
<![CDATA[ How 'Bout Them Apples (in the Wine)]]>
The drive out to the tasting room and winery is beautiful. When you arrive, it's instantly obvious that you haven't arrived at a fancy Napa-style winery. This is the quaint family feeling you didn't know you were looking for.

Most days you'll be greeted by peacocks on the property. Then you can pass through the door to the small tasting room. It's usually a generous tasting menu, so you can try a wide variety of their wines. In between sips, you can peruse the selection of gift items.

What makes Kelsey See's wines memorable is that some of them have apples in the mix. It's a novelty that makes a Kelsey See bottle a good gift for the wino who has everything.

I don't recommend Kelsey See to people who are looking for San Luis Obispo's best wine and only have time for a couple of stops. I do recommend it if you're interested in the experience.

Note: If you go to Kelsey See, you may also want to stop by Avila's other wine tasting spots: Avila Winery and Salisbury Vineyards.]]> Tue, 28 Apr 2009 05:30:28 +0000
<![CDATA[ California winemakers did not know what hit them on October 28, 1919.]]> San Francisco 
is an area known as "America's Wine Country."   In the latter half of the 19th Century tens of thousands of immigrants from Russia, Italy, Switzerland and France descended on this area determined to make a better life for themselves and their families.  For the most part these were simple folk who possessed all of those time-honored values such as honesty, thrift and a willingness to work hard.  Many of them had been farmers in the old country.  Some had come in search of gold and still others would seek their fortune making wine.  In fact, over the next half century literally hundreds of vineyards would be established in Napa and Sonoma counties.  It was back breaking work but the rewards were considerable for those who persevered.  Like anyone else involved in agriculture,  vineyardists were subject to the whims of nature.  This was a fact of life that most of these folks could live with.  What they were not prepared for, however, was what happened as a result of the passage of the 18th Amendment which outlawed the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcoholic beverages in this country. "When The Rivers Ran Red: An Amazing Story of Courage and Triumph In America's Wine Country" chronicles how life changed for the people of wine country during the 13 years of Prohibition.  Passage of the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act literally changed everything here.  It is a fascinating story and a case study of what can happen when the federal government passes draconian laws which are clearly unenforceable.  
For those engaged in the business of winemaking at the outset of Prohibition in 1920 only a few options appeared  available.  Federal law allowed for the manufacture of "sacramental" wines but this market was clearly very  limited.  Some growers would opt to sell their grapes for juice while others chose to plant other crops just to survive  The fact of the matter is that no one in wine country believed that prohibition would last as long as it did.  As time wore on more and more families became desperate.   Denied the ability to earn an honest living many vineyard owners turned to the only option the felt they had left--bootlegging--and sold off what wine they had on hand to hotels and speakeasies.  Under the cover of night these previously law-abiding citizens shipped illicit vino to cities as close as San Francisco and as far away as New York and Chicago.   With all of this of course came great risk.  If they were nabbed by the federal authorities they were subject to stiff fines and possible arrest.  In many cases federal Prohibition officers would descend on their property and empty their tanks into the local river or creek.  Years of hard work literally went down the drain in just a few minutes.  Meanwhile, many local law enforcement officers, clearly sympathetic to the plight of their friends and neighbors, would attempt to thwart the feds.  It was an unsettling and messy situation that made thieves and liars and criminals out of a whole host of people.
In "When The Rivers Ran Red" author Vivienne Sosnowski paints an intricate portrait of  what life was like in Wine Country during these troubled times.  You really do get a sense of the pain and the panic that the growers were being forced to endure through no fault of their own.  In addition, Sosnowski spends considerable time focusing on the political battle that was being waged both in California and in the nation at large.  While the so-called "Drys" certainly ruled the day during the decade of the 1920's it was becoming clear by the dawn of the 1930's that their considerable influence was waning and that it was only a matter of time before Prohibition would come to an end.  Finally you will discover the massive corruption that existed among so-called government agents charged with enforcing the law.  Very disconcerting indeed!.  "When The Rivers Ran Red:  An Amazing Story of Courage and Triumph In America's Wine Country" is a painstakingly researched and elegantly written book that held my attention from cover-to-cover. This is a story that needed to be told.   Very highly recommended!   ]]> Mon, 9 Mar 2009 23:43:47 +0000