Sunday, June 7, 2009

Organic wine & food matching: Robert Sinskey Marcien & Maria Helm's braised veal shanks

Randy Caparoso is an award winning wine professional and journalist, living in Denver, Colorado. For a free subscription to Randy's Organic Wine Match of the Day, visit the Denver Wine Examiner.

When Biodynamic® guru Alan York began consulting with winegrower/proprietor Rob Sinskey of Robert Sinskey Vineyards (a.k.a. RSV), the first thing he advised was to “get over the voodoo doo-doo” and find the “practical ways to get it done.” “I was never that heavy into Rudolph Steiner’s spiritual philosophy anyway,” confesses Sinskey, “but what makes sense are the steps that give your vineyard a distinctive personality… if it means planting according to the rhythms of the earth and employing sheep herders to mow the grass, so be it.”

Although Biodynamic® certification didn’t come to RSV until 2007, the original “tipping point” for Sinskey goes back to1990; when he observed one of his Chardonnay blocks in Carneros shutting down and phylloxera strangling the vines. “At that time we were spraying and constantly sterilizing the soil to the point which it had basically become a ‘dead zone,’ showing little sign of life, almost no birds or earthworms to be found. It was our winemaker, Jeff Virnig, who originally brought up the subject one day by asking, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we were organic?’”

So throughout the ‘90s Sinskey’s goal was to jump-start microbial activity in the soils of his property – 5 acres around the RSV winery in Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap District, and another 200 or so in the Los Carneros AVA – by ceasing the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and the like; and by 2001, when RSV received its CCOF certification, the earthworms and birds were back in multitudes.

Sinskey’s vineyard manager, Debby Zygielbaum, is both meticulous and obsessive in her aversion to, in her words, “better living through chemicals.” “It’s not like we have it easy,” she tells us, while driving us through her “shaggy” vineyards – bespoke with varieties of grass, poppies, ponds, fruit and olive trees, and even a pristine pasture for a bourgeoning flock of sheep – up and down the Carneros hillsides.

“One of our biggest barriers,” according to Zygielbaum, “is powdery mildew, for which 508 (the anti-fungal Biodynamic® tea spray prepared from horsetail) is not enough” – and so she finds it necessary to supplement with some sulphur. “Gophers, mealy bugs, nematodes, you name it, we got it, and we take organic measures to keep things in balance. But at the end of the day, the pay-off for what we do in the vineyard is in the wine: in this day and age of Robert Parker and wines that taste all the same, there’s something beautiful about something that tastes of a place, and I think we’ve got that.”

Which brings us to RSV’s top-of-the-line blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, which Sinskey affectionately calls Marcien – French for “from Mars” (or, “you must be crazy”). Says Sinskey, “we call it Marcien because when we first started planting Bordeaux grapes in Carneros (a cold region with shallow clay soils rather than the deep gravel and moderate climate associated with Bordeaux), some people thought we were nuts. But you taste the wine and tell us what you think.”

What do I think? If you’re a wine lover who prizes the elegance and deep, compact intensity of red Bordeaux, the 2005 Robert Sinskey Vineyards Los Carneros Marcien (about $50) will blow you away! No, it’s not “Bordeaux,” it’s Carneros grown Merlot – luscious, velvety, seamlessly textured – knit to the black, wild, plummy, licorice, gnarly tobacco, and smoky room qualities associated with the Cabernet grapes. Since Sinskey also happens to be married to Maria Helm – a great chef, formerly of the San Francisco’s recently shuttered Plumpjack Café –the Marcien’s ideal food context is also key to maximum consumption. The Sinskeys recommend this recipe for braised veal shanks with olives and bay leavesdouble-wow!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New address

Dear all,

Our blog has moved to the new address with the new design,


Friday, May 1, 2009

Rainy Day Monday

Tom Gannon is the playwright in residence at Rothmann's Steakhouse in New York City. He is also the sommelier and serves as America's Host.

Two weeks ago I dodged the rain for seventy five feet across 54th Street south through the building of 520 Madison out on 53rd to take a hard right into Alto where I had been invited by a friend to be his guest at a dinner and vertical tasting of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande hosted by Clive Coates (Master of Wine, the 72nd MW) who authored Cote D'Or and more recently The Wines of Burgundy.

Coates was on a five week tour of the U.S. doing wine dinners, charity events and other wine related appearances which were apparently all linked to Burgundy until a Nashville based collector who is an investor in Alto convinced his snowy bearded eminence to do this dinner on a night they both had free in New York.

Coates began with the history of the Chateau with the requisite mention of the Dutch draining the swamp that was Bordeaux transforming it into the land that is Bordeaux. The estate was founded in 1689 and was divided in the 19th century due to Napoleonic laws but was run more or less as a whole until 1860. Both properties received deuxieme cru (second growth) status in the 1855 Classification. The sibling is known in Bordeaux shorthand as Pichon Baron. Pichon Lalande is just to the west of first growth property Chateau Latour in the southeastern corner of Pauillac. The vineyard holdings spill over into St. Julien and Coates noted that until the early 60's around an 1/8 of total production was bottled as St. Julien instead of Paulliac (he also noted that Lafite had similar geographical issues on the northern side of Pauillac with St. Estephe but Lafite was never forced to signify anything on thier label...)

What makes Pichon Lalande so distinctive for a wine from Pauillac is the relatively high percentage of merlot that is used in the blend, giving it a softer, more "feminine" style- indeed Coates at one point declared that "these are Margaux wines." The typical blend has around 35% merlot.

First flight paired with Uovo "Bio" con Animelle e Marsala- soft poached egg, sauteed veal sweetbreads, marsala

2000- Sweet mocha, black cherry, creme de menthe, licorice and a tarry edge to the nose balanced tannin still evident on tongue supple sexy long finish, a very modern plump style. If you have this in your cellar I would wait at least five years.

1996- Black cherry , eucalyptus, soy, earthy caramel, star anise, tannins starting to soften but still showing a bit in cheek and gums, long spicy earthy finish. Nice structure to this wine will continue to develop but I like it now. This paired the best with the dish- the richness of the egg and veal made nice with the tannins.

1994- Funky cherry, a bit wet dog edge with leather and tar, soft in midpalate with round supple tannin medium length to the finish. Best consumed in the near future, considering the price relative to quality there is value here.

I would rank them in the following order, 1996, 2000, 1994. My opinion on the flight was not shared by CC. He claimed the 1994, which is the least heralded vintage, was his favorite. He claimed the 2000 was a bit too modern for his taste and didn't have the tannic background of the 1996 but that the '96 "Charms me the least. What I'm looking for in a wine is the sweetness."

Second flight paired with Agnolotti del Pin, Spugnole e Marsala- piemontese duck ravioli, morel mushrooms and veal sauce.

1991- Leather, earth, sweet tannic wild strawberry, more fruit than I expected still slight tannin on attack, medium length to the finish a truffled edge to the nose, the greenest nose of the three but surprisingly good.

1990 -Sweet stewed red fruit, rich and full nose, truffle, walnut and dark chocolate, clove in midpalate, sexy silky tannin on finish. This is a nice glass of wine but does not show the depth of the 1989.

1989- Dark chocolate, sugar plum, lead pencil, wet leather, rich earthy edge, clove, rhubarb panna cotta, incredible balance with a long gorgeous finish. Easily the best of the three. This will also age the longest of the three but is drinking well now. This wine was fantastic with the soft ravioli and the spongy fiber of the morels in the veal sauce. The earthy, spicy edges of this wine stood up to a deceptively powerful dish.

In this flight it seemed to be obvious and I don't recall much dissent over the order of most to least impressive (although there was at least one person who did declare the '91 to be their favorite). The '89, '90 and then '91 is my lineup. Considering the conventional wisdom regarding the 1991 vintage (CW says disaster) the 1991 was a pleasant example what a good estate can pull off in a challenging vintage. The high percentage of early ripening merlot gave them an advantage over their neighbors who lean much more heavily on later ripening cabernet sauvignon. Coates said the 1990 was not as great as it should have been given the glorious nature of the vintage. He believes "they may have racked the musts too early." It is a bit of a disappointment given what their more muscular sibling Pichon-Baron and the big boy on the block Chateau Latour produced in 1990.

Third flight paired with Involtino di Coniglio con Spaetzle e Ciliegia Agrodolce -seared rabbit loin stuffed with dried cherries, crisp spaetzle, chiodini mushroms and rabbit jus.

- Dark chocolate, mint, soy, fish sauce, smoked meat, black cherry, rich chewy tannin, dried orange peel, long sexy finish. This wine was the best pair with the dish (maybe I wanted the '82 all alone...) because of the smoke, salty gamey character.

- Nutty with a bit of smoke and earth on the edge, with an odd plastic note (but not the funky plastic I find in the vast majority of Long Island bordeaux varietals), sweet dried cherry in midpalate.

- Rich cherry, pistachio, tar, truffle, earth, mint, tobacco, smoked meat, strawberry compote on the nose clove and cherry in midpalate incredible balance long sexy finish.

I would have ranked these wines '82, '85', '83. On a side note the first bottled of 1983 was flawed and so another was brought and decanted ans served immediately where all of the other wines were decanted a hour before the dinner began. Coates called the 1985 "a disarmingly lovely wine with Margaux touches" and noted that there was a very large crop in '85. Of the '82 he named names, "One of these wines where Parker and Coates both had orgasms." He did not name names when he discussed how homogenous Bordeaux had become and felt that the shift was due to vintages like 2000, and 2003 and 'certain critics'. He has not tasted in Bordeaux since 2004 considering himself "semi-retired".

I asked Clive whether he had seen another vintage like '85 which was a stellar vintage worldwide. He said no, we talked about 1990 as almost stellar worldwide but was not declared in Port, then he couldn't resist the dig, "But I don't know what the conditions were like for the wines of the third world. The Californias, the South Americas..."

The next course had originally listed only the 1979, 1966, and 1964 but CC was visibly flustered seeing it would not be included after holding forth specifically on the 1978 in his introduction and review of the history of the Chateau as the vintage where Pichon Lalande broke into producing truly great Bordeaux worthy of "super-second" status due to the vigilance of Madame May Elaine de Lencquesaing and her family's attention to detail (although when I asked later he did admit that Leoville Las Cases would be the first choice when talking if and when another property would ever be promoted to first growth status). Kudos to the generosity of Tom Black, the Alto investor from whose cellar the wines originated and who proposed the idea of the dinner to Coates to then include the '78 mid-meal. Eric went to the cellar for a bottle of '78 and decanted it. Coates declared it to be flawed. A second bottle was brought and passed muster. Kudos as well to the humbling professionalism of Eric Ziller.

Cheese course-
Three cheeses all good quality bit players. Two cow one goat beasts of burden even now.

- Cooked? Prune and chocolate milk earthy chocolate and vanilla cream on nose, no balance on palate confirms the kinky nature of this bottle.

- Graphite, cherry, gravel, flint, lead pencil, wet mint, chocolate mocha, truffle. Length and balance are impressive, wine is delicious, could go a bit longer but I would drink soon. I don't see it improving I believe it is at it's peak. Definitely the wine of the night.

- Creamy milk chocolate, creme de menthe, clove, dried cherry and raspberry, star anise, dried mint on nose still shows a bit of cherry and strawberry on palate with a medium long finish. Still an interesting bottle but past it's prime.

- Funky earthy mint, herbal Amaro Lucano edge on nose, caramel, clove, smoked meat, stewed red fruit, star anise, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, mocha and beef bouillion. Soft tannin with a juicy lingering finish. I preferred this to the '66 though I don't believe with one would show comparatively well in a horizontal Bordeaux (or Pauillac) tasting of either vintage.

So here it is the '78, '64, '66 and then limping in the '79. Coates by now was readying to put a little English on it and so it came...the '78 has "Stupendous class. A ballerina in repose." He allowed that perhaps the '82 was the greater wine but "To my reserved English palate I prefer the '78." He then told a story about the 1979 harvest when some Spainards had come over to work the harvest and cross pollenated with some of the local Pauillac girls. The French fathers and boyfriends had a problem with it, knives were pulled a bit of West Side Story in a second growth vineyard.

But to speak of putting the English on it I have to quote Michael Broadbent from Vintage Wine on the 1964 Pichon Lalande, "...Most recently, its appearance reminded me of my father's old Labrador, lying on its back waiting to be tickled: soft, mature, a warm open-rimmed rosehip and orange colour..." I drank this Labrador but it was the '94 that reminded me of wet dog.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Good thoughts, Great food!

David Grega is a certified sommelier and wine consultant living in the Napa Valley; In addition David is the consulting winemaker and national sales manager for Carlotta Cellars. For more information e-mail

Always start with a positive feeling, a thought of happiness and joy. Each morning my very first task is to put myself in a positive state of mind. I remind myself that today is a precious gift, the day will bring fourth ample opportunities to make a real difference in the world weather small or large. I will squeeze as much pleasure out of today as I possibly can. Everywhere I go, I feel like a child on Christmas morning, awaiting the gifts that lye just around the corner. On this particular Wednesday afternoon I found myself running errands in Yountville, Ca. As I got in my car to leave I noticed a certain rumbling in my tummy. Time to eat! All I had to do was look straight ahead to find relief. Bouchon! One of the perks of living in the Napa Valley is having constant access to some of the worlds finest feasting spots. The following is an account of a lovely lunch on a perfectly pleasant Wednesday afternoon.

I always know just where to go when dinning at Bouchon. The bar is the best seat in the house, I promise you there is no better. The bar tender recognizes me right away,"ah! a local!" It's hard to forget a bearded 6 foot 245 pound guy that swirls a burgundy glass like he was born to do just that. Not to mention the Blundstone boots and "Napa Casual" t-shirt and cargo shorts. I got straight down to business. I ordered a salad that has become a classic standard at Bouchon, the simple yet flavorful "Maraichere au Chevre chaud" basically mixed greens with red wine vinaigrette, warm goat cheese and herbs de Provence. My drink of choice to accompany this dish was a lovely Sancerre. The Pastou , les Boucalts 2007 Sancerre had a nose of fresh currant leaf, honey and wet stone. On the palate I found a refreshing and pristine acidity coupled with a tasty Meyer lemon, white flower and mineral component. The pairing was near perfect!

For my main course there was no question in my mind, I wanted the Croque Madame! For those who are unfamiliar with the Croque Madame I urge you to become acquainted as soon as possible. The basic makeup is a toasted ham and cheese sandwich on brioche with Morney sauce topped with a fired egg (normally served with fries) I opted to have the "Carottes" which is basically a side of butternut squash seasoned with sage and currants. No wine was going to do for me what a few well made beers would. I chose to have a small portion of three beers to accompany my Croque Madame. Kronenbourg (France), Napa Smith, amber ale, and Duvel. The Duvel paired best with the Croque Madame, but I found the Napa Smith amber ale to be right at home with the Carottes. The Kronenboug was quite Delicious but was better suited on it's own.

Now time for a little dessert! I chose to enjoy one of my favorite Madeira wines, the Cossart Gordon Bual 10 year. One the nose I found a tantalizing combination of Cashew peanut brital, honey comb and toffee. The palate was amazingly viscous and full of layered flavors mirroring the nose with a terrifically long finish. As I was enjoying my Madeira two friendly gentlemen took seats next to me and ordered some Fino sherry. I made conversation with them and soon discovered that one of them was from Napa and another was from France. I enjoyed a few laughs then prepared to set out. I didn't realize until just before I left that one of the gentlemen was the technical director for Dominus in Yountville and the other was in fact Christian Moueix, the owner of Dominus and chateau Petrus. This was a pleasant surprise and capped off my wonderful lunch quite nicely. It's days like this that I truly understand the reason I am in the wine industry. Wine Food and people is what it all boils down to. Stay positive! Cheers!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pierre Peters Esprit de 2002 Grand Cru brut

I drink champagne when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it – unless I'm thirsty." – Madam Lilly Bollinger

Brand: Esprit de 2002 Grand Cru brut
Winery: Pierre Peters
Vintage: 2002
Varietal: Chardonnay
Winemaking: All base wines are elaborated in stainless steel and are therefore very dry. The residual sugar is somewhere between 3 and 6 g/l depending on quality and vintage. Owner Rodolphe Peters decided not to label the Champagne „Extra Brut“. Only after extraordinary vintages this Champagne is made. The 2002 aged on it´s yeasts for 6 years and is the 2003´s successor, which was clearly lighter and came on the market before.
Average Price: € 39,00
Tasting Notes: On the palate hints of white fruits like peach and pear, also dominating citrus aromas. The intense scent of almonds and marzipan, the minerality and the crisp acidity are fabulous! It´s perfect when you let it breathe 3 or 4 minutes after pouring.

Long aging potential!

Food Pairing Suggestions: alone is my suggestion

General rating: 4 tastevins
Categories: Special Occasion, Adventurer´s choice

Winery notes: Amongst connoisseurs in France Pierre Peters Champagnes are already very known, they are present in many gourmet restaurants throughout the country, everywhere where quality instead of big names stands in the foreground (unfortunately this is not at all the case in Germany, where mostly big brands are bought, and way too over-priced). The 17,5h vineyard is in Le Mesnil sur Oger. Originally, the ancestors came from Luxemburg completely attracted by the region of Champagne. They must have had great understanding of what they´re doing … the Quality is outstanding and reflects the vast varieties in style that one can find in the region. The style is very terroir focused (mineralic) and stands out with a very individual character.

Friday, April 24, 2009

White bordeaux for me please!

Winery: Les Hauts Smith Blanc (2nd Wine of Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte)

Vintage: 2006

Appellation: Pessac-Leognan, Graves, Bordeaux

Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc

Oak: Up to 20 months in 80% new.

Average Price: €20

Tasting notes: This is in some way an unusual white Bordeaux since it’s made solely (almost) on sauvignon Blanc. This Sauvignon reminds me very much of the famous Dog Point vineyards “Section 94”. Its rich, nutty and intense. The body is medium as you would expect from a Sauvignon, but the green, crisp ‘cat-pee’ (I hate to say it) notes is gone – which is a very pleasant way to enjoy this grape.

Food Pairing Suggestions: shellfish, shellfish and shellfish. I have a very memorable evening fresh in my mind at the Fisherman’s Wharf in SF with craps, lobters, scallops and what have we not, and this wine should had been our 4th party member. That’s whats wine is all about.

Winery Notes: White Bordeaux and white Rhone. Why are these areas so hopeless unfashionable? I mean, this phrase ‘terrior’ – which I don’t know to like or not - is so expressed in these wines. Im fighting for these areas to become more famous. The wines are always crisp – but not gooseberry and ‘cat-pee’ boring crisp. They have layers and layers of velvety notes and feelings just waiting to come out.
Rating. (3.5 out of 5)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Rotie for me!

David Grega is a certified sommelier and wine consultant living in the Napa Valley; In addition David is the consulting winemaker and national sales manager for Carlotta Cellars. For more information e-mail

Winery: Chapoutier

Vintage: 1999

Reigon: Cote Rotie

designation: La Mordoree

Varietal: Syrah

Average Price: $170

Tasting Notes: This wine seems to captivate me each time I get the chance to indulge in Chapoutier's beautiful creation from both the cote Blonde and Cote Brune. The nose is thick and ritch of blackberry, wild game and dark coffe bean. On the palate this wine is a stalwart. Solid structure paired with layers of wild blackberry and a smoaky bacon fat essence give way to a long and satisfying finish. These wine really give you somthing to think about, truly delightful!

Rating: 4 of 5 (classic wine, sit down wine)

Cellaring: I recommend another 10 year aging (2019) although this wine will drink well for a few decades after that!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pares Baltà, Mas de Carol 2006, Penedès

The Denominacion de origen Penedés was funded in 1960. Penedés is in the north of spain, more exact from the Montsarret mountains to the Mediterranien sea, the DO is in total 1.557 km2. There are 165 bodegas in the area, and 27.730 ha. of vinyards.

Winery: Pares Baltá

Vintage: 2006

Appellation: D.O Penedes

Varietal: 100% Chardonnay, 32 years old plants

Ageing: 5 month in French oak, all 5 month with the lees, battonages in done very often

Average Price: 35 € in restaurants

Tasting notes: Delicate nuances of yellow grass. In the glass it is brilliant and clear. A complex intensity on the nose with soft notes of cream and vanilla, integrated with the subtle aroma of jam of exotic fruits. Some mineral notes stand out which increases its complex range of aromas. In the mouth it has a good volume and structure, and a balanced finish.
Evolution: As it is an aged white wine, it will obtain its best level one year after it was bottled and then maintain its qualities during four to five more years.

General rating: 4 tastevins.

Food Pairing Suggestions: Roasted Scallops with fresh white asparagus and a sauce Hollandaise. The vanilla and exsotic fruit taste from the wine, will combine very well with the acid from the asparagus and the fatness from the sauce.

Winery Notes: Pares Balta was started in 1790, or this was the year where the first wine plants were planted. In 1978 the bodega was bought by Joan Cusinè Hill. Joan Cusinè Cusinè son of Joan Cusinè Hill took over after his dad and today there is 2 generations running the bodega, today the 2 grandsons Joan and Josep Cusinè Carol has brought a more modern aspect to the bodega and also to the Penedes area.

Vintage Notes: 2006: After a normal autumn and winter concerning rain and temperatures, the sping was extremly dry, this only made the plants stronger and better. The summer was as always very hot as usual. The result of a very hot year was that the fruits maturation was slightly advanced.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Unmistakable!! The style of Capcanes in the Montsant. The other evening we only wanted a glass each to enjoy with a movie and I grabbed the last 0,375l bottle of Costers del Gravet 2003 from Capcanes, it´s really at it´s best point.

Brand: Costers del Gravet

Winery: Capcanes

Vintage: 2003

Varietal: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Garnacha, 20% Cariñena

Winemaking: temperature controlled fermentation (27º C - 29º C with natural yeast), maceration for 14 - 21 days, all varieties vinified separately. Malolactic fermentation started in tank and finished in barrel, after blending aged for 3 months in tank before bottling. 12 months in new oak, after this 12 months in old barriques (mainly French).
Alcohol: 14%Average

Price: € 15,00 (for a 0,75l bottle)

Tasting Notes: elegant and complex, rich nose of red cherries, but also dark fruit, wonderfully integrated cocoa and vanilla flavors. Rich also in body, great sweet tannins and suprisingly “cool” fruit, perfect freshness and length.

Drink now through 2014

Food Pairing Suggestions: red meat slightly marinated, grilled vegetables, new potatoes with olive oil and rosemary

General rating: 4 tastevins - Categories: Authentic, expresses extremely well it´s terroir and region

Winery notes: the winery has grown to be a symbol for the entire region… Capcanes already existed before the Phylloxera which devastated the densely planted area entirely at the turn of the 19th century. After the plague about one fifth of the former plantation was replanted and some of those vines still exist today, many of them are 100 years old now. The Cellar Capcanes as it is known today was founded in 1933, at that time a change was needed to compete in a completely different wine market. Five families from the village collaborated in order to handle large quantities of wine economically and efficiently and formed the Coop. Until the end of the 80-ties wine was sold in bulk, although over the years people recognized more and more the amazing quality of the grapes grown in the Priorat area. In 1995 the real change came: the Cooperative Capcanes was asked by the Jewish Community of Barcelona to make Kosher wine. This demanded the installation of new equipment etc. The ground was laid for not only production of kosher wines but in general for wines of extremely high quality.

Pinot Noir

I had given up on finding great Pinot Noirs in Argentina. At least I never really found the style that I personally like (smooth structure, earthy silky mouthfeel with aromas of strawberry style, lush but still complex, not missing the freshness) , so here is the absolute exception, so excited about it!!
Brand: Mudai
Winery: Palo Alto
Vintage: 2006
Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Winemaking: traditional winemaking method with long fermentation and maceration (29 days) in steel tanks (use of selective yeasts). 100% of the wine is then aged in new French (60%) and American (40%)oak barrels for 3 months. Winemaker is Luis Martinez. Only 4000 bottles made!!
Alcohol: 13%
Average Price: € 15,00
Tasting Notes: aromas are beautifully present from the beginning: strawberries, blackberries, a soft earthy note as well as a bit of smoke, and what I completely love about it …. hints of orange peel which gives it a fresh touch! This same complexity and freshness is repeated on the palate, well combined with rich red fruit and presenting a wonderful soft structured, velvety ending. And the alcohol is not even that high. Wow, the bottle was empty so quick…

Drink now through 2011

Food Pairing Suggestions: had a glass of it yesterday with some Brie cheese and it was a damn good combination. The wine just cleared out the palate entirely , no problems at all with the sticky texture of the cheese, the fruity flavors were delicious with the creamy flavors, dream team!
General rating: 4 tastevins - Categories: Fun sit down bottle:-)
Winery notes: Inside an old winery in Maipú with cane ceilings, adobe walls and long subterranean cellars obtained from former tanks, the latest technology being used is surprising. A modern mobile crusher, temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and first use oak barrels are the tools available to the enologist Luis Martinez who specialized at wineries in California. The first vintage was in 2004 and the winery counts with vines up to 35 years old.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Zind-Humbrecht 'Clos Hauserer' Riesling 2006

Winery: Zind-Humbrecht

Vintage: 2006

Appellation: Alsace (Clos Hauserer)

Varietal: Riesling

Oak: No

Average Price: €40

Tasting notes: Very intense ripe yellow color. This is a very classic Riesling. You pick up flowers, honey, fresh nuts and elderflower. The taste is rich with a hint of Riesling sweetness, but the overall attack is pleasantly dry. One of my favorite Rieslings in the world.

Food Pairing Suggestions: I tried this with Cauliflower crème and scallops – and it was very memorable. I think though, that I will spend the most of my summer in Kings Garden (Copenhagen) with a bottle or three, my closest friends and family – and some shellfish. If you ever come by, call me and I will invite you over.

Winery Notes: Domaine Zind-Humbrecht is a very special Domaine. This wine is made from the Clos Hauserer part of the famous Grand Cru vineyard of ‘Hengst’. The Domaine is very strict biodynamic, and all their wines are very enjoyable. Try every wine in their range – the Pinot Gris and Gewurz are also among the best in the world.

Rating: (3 out of 5) Party!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cava at its best

Pares Baltà, Blanca Cusinè Brut 2006, Penedès

Simon Juhl Olesen is a 24 year old Sommelier from Denmark. He currently works in the heart of Copenhagen, in the restaurant Le Sommelier. All his gastronomic education was gathered in Spain, where he has lived most of his life. The last two years before coming to Denmark he was a teacher/Restaurant chef in a restaurant school “La Fonda” in the south of Spain. He also spent time in the 1 star Michelin restaurant Guggenheim in Bilbao. Among other things he is a three time winner of the Andalusian championship for Sommeliers and in top 10 Spanish Sommelier. In his free time he enjoys playing golf if the weather allows it. If you want to contact him you can do so on:

Winery: Pares Baltà

Vintage: 2006

Appellation: D.O Penedes

Varietal: 59.5 % Chardonnay. 40.5 % Pinot Noir

Ageing: The Pinot Noir goes through the malolactic fermentation and then 2 month ageing with the lees. The Chardonnay stays on stainless steel tanks. The second fermentation in bottle goes on for 26 month.

Average Price: 15 €

Tasting Notes: Yellow color with golden tints. On the nose complex and subtle aroma with delicate notes of almonds, hazelnuts, honey and prickly pear. In the mouth it is fresh and round. Notes of preserved fruit together with flavors of almonds and honey. Long and complex finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions: This Cava can be enjoyed as the welcoming drink with the typical spanish tapas like the Iberico ham and Manchego cheese. Used in a menu, I would pair this great Cava with something tasteful and with a natural sweetness. For example; Roasted Scallops with a carrot pure white asparagus and a lobster bisque.

Winery Notes: Pares Balta was started in 1790, when the first wine plants were planted. In 1978 the bodega was bought by Joan Cusinè Hill. Joan Cusinè Cusinè, son of Joan Cusinè Hill took over after his dad and today there is the second generation running the bodega. Grandsons Joan and Josep Cusinè Carol brought a more modern aspect to the bodega and to the Penedes area.

Vintage Notes: 2006- After a normal autumn and winter concerning rain and temperatures, the spring was extremely dry, this only made the plants stronger and better. The summer was very hot as usual. The result of a very hot year was that the fruits maturation was slightly advanced.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Battle of the First Growths

David Grega is a certified sommelier and wine consultant living in the Napa Valley; In addition David is the consulting winemaker and national sales manager for Carlotta Cellars. For more information e-mail

Wearing my favorite Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran T-shirt, I find my self staring down at two glasses of deep ruby red wine. A battle in itself was about to ensue. The 2000 Chateau Margaux vs. 2000 Chateau Latour in a battle to the death, or should I say digestion! I learned a lot about these wines while tasting them over a one hour period. My initial thoughts were that the Latour was much more impressive and dense, and I felt that the Margaux was a bit lack luster on the palate but showed impressive aromatics. Over the next hour both wines saw improvement with the Margaux gaining ground on the Latour. The Margaux began to really show it true colors, this is a wine about aroma and flavor, there were layers of complex aromatics and tons of fantastic tastes to discover on the palate. There is a certain grace to Margaux that I don't believe is matched by anyone else. The Latour stayed true to its pauillac Cabernet roots. This wine was dense and full of classic Cabernet backbone. The structure and quality of fruit were impressive to say the least. The Chateau Latour made a clear statement of pedigree and position among the greatest in Bordeaux and quite possibly the world. These wines do require a lot of thought to get the most out of them but I find that an equal amount of humor is required too. I was happy to be enjoying such wonderful wines and made it a point to laugh, enjoy, and relax to better savor the moment. Grand wines deserve adoration but it's important to remember that having fun with it is just as much apart of the enjoyment of wine as tasting. Notes to follow:

2000 Chateau Latour- A layered and complex nose full of blackberry, rhubarb and plumb aromas followed by hints of black raspberry, vanilla and a touch of caramel. The palate is bold and impressive. Sporting a seriously complex mid palate of ripe baked fruits and long well structured finish, this wine has made a statement. I AM THE BEST AND I'LL ONLY IMPROVE WITH TIME.
Rating: 4.5 of 5 (Sit down wine, Classic wine, Special occasion wine)

2000 Chateau Margaux- A truly ethereal nose of lavender, black cherry and ripe strawberry complemented by hints of oak spice and vanilla shortbread. On the palate More succulent red and black fruit flavors with floral complexities and well balanced, beautifully structured, mouth feel. This wine is powerful and elegant at the same time, what a lovely treat.
Rating: 4 of 5 (Classic wine, Special occasion wine)

A Toast under the Trees

Melinda Joe is an American-born sake and wine professional living in Tokyo, Japan. She works as a freelance journalist and is the bar editor of the award-winning Tokyo Food Page ( Melinda loves eating, drinking, and witty repartee. Visit her blog Tokyo through the Drinking Glass at

Spring has taken the hand of Tokyo, and the city is blushing. For a few brief days every spring, people of all ages, across all economic brackets, turn out in droves to revel under the cherry trees. For reasons buried deep in the Japanese psyche, the fleeting appearance of the cherry blossoms carries tremendous cultural significance. O-hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, represents both the celebration and mourning of beauty’s transience, concepts that run closely parallel to the drink-fuelled merriment and subsequent hangovers that tend to accompany these parties.

For those of us in here in Tokyo, precious little time remains to catch the blossoms at their most poignant. Cascades of delicate pink petals have begun to carpet the ground, and the sakura will disappear completely in a day or two.

Capitalizing on the hanami craze this month, several wine retailers have been shrewdly pushing sparkling roses. Indeed, a perfect afternoon under the cherry trees might include a chilled bottle of strawberry-soft Moet et Chandon Rose, or a delicate Perrier Jouet Rose Fleur de Champagne, which comes in a fittingly floral bottle.

Of course, there’s no need to spend a wad of cash on booze for your party. These occasions rarely end in poetic meditations on life, death, and beauty; they’re more about cutting loose and having a good time with friends. All too often, this translates into over-consumption of cheap beer - or worse, happo-shu, a beer-like abomination made with little or no malt. Just because the group of salarymen beside you is getting trashed on crap, though, doesn’t mean you have to. Here are two picks for more civilized blossom viewing.

Les Terres du Sud Rose, a blend made exclusively for Japanese importer The Vine by Louis Barroul of St. Cosme in Gigondas, offers aromas and flavors of juicy red berries overlaying a dry, crisp midpalate. It’s versatile, with fresh acidity, and marries with a wide range of foods. Try it with veggie sticks and roasted red pepper hummus, sweet soy-glazed chicken meatballs, or a grilled vegetable salad tossed with anchovy dressing and lemon zest.

Product name: Les Terres du Sud Rose 2007 Vin de Table
Varietals: 80% Grenache, 20% Cinsault
Average Price: Y1995
Categories: Value, Party, Food Friendly
Rating: 2.5

Named for the white-blossomed Rikyubai tree in the brewery's courtyard, Rikyubai Kasumi Junmai Ginjo is a fabulously food-friendly usunigori, or lightly cloudy, unpasteurized sake from the Osaka region of Japan. This refreshingly dry, finely textured usunigori insinuates melon and Japanese pear on the palate and pairs very well with aromatic herbs and dishes with a hint of spiciness – seared katsuo (bonito) scattered with bright shiso and scallions, smoked salmon and cream cheese canapés with fresh dill, Thai green papaya salad.

Brand name: Rikyubai Kasumi Junmai Ginjo Usunigori Nama Genshu
Producer: Daimon Shuzo
Milling rate: 55%
Alcohol %: 15 - 16
Average Price: Y1680
Categories: Super Value, Party, Food Friendly
Rating: 2.5

Both of these bottles make terrific picnic companions. As the cherry blossoms make their quiet exit, Tokyoites are gearing up for our next opportunity to take to the parks: Golden Week.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mantinia Moschofilero 2008 - Tselepos Estate

Vassilis Papadopoulos was born on December 18, 1978 in U.S.A. and currently lives in Athens – Greece. He is a sommelier & wine consultant, working freelance with restaurants, wineries, magazines and websites. He is a co-owner of the “Kazakos Drink Bank” (wine and spirits stores in Athens) administrating more than 1.700 different worldwide wine labels and thousands bottles which lie in the cellars of the stores. Also he is the president of the “KWC”, a Greek wine club which has more than 400 active members and organizes wine tastings, wine dinners, wine trips and more. You can contact him on:

Brand: Mantinia Tselepos

Winery: Tselepos Estate

Vintage: 2008

Appellation: Mantinia AOC (GreecePeloponnesus)

Varietal: Moschofilero

Winemaker: Yiannis Tselepos

Oak: No Oak

Type: Dry White Wine

Alcohol: 12%

Vineyard: Selected vineyards from the communities of Lithovounia, Agiorgitika and Zevgolatio.

Wine Making: Modern technological winemaking with the method of skin contact at 10oC for 8 hours. The fermentation is carried out at low temperatures of 12oC.

Production: 200.000 bottles

Average Price: 9€

Category: Party + Authentic! Reasonably priced and high quality crowd pleaser. Also a wine that strongly express terroir.

Rating: 4,3 (on a 1 - 5 scale)

Tasting Notes:

Made from the noble Moschofilero Greek grape comes the white Mantinia Tselepos AOC wine. Light yellow color with some gray hues. The nose is very floral, white flowers and rose. Also citrus, lime, minerals and mint. In the mouth medium intensity aromas but elegant with a fresh lemon acidity. Medium finish. It will be best to drink it fresh and young, but may hold a bit longer. Best served at 10o - 12o C.

Food Pairing Suggestions: Salads, soups and seafood

Winery Notes:

Founded in 1989, with its first vintage in 1995, Tselepos Estate today releases about 300,000 bottles a year. French trained owner Yiannis Tselepos received his oenology degree in Dijon and worked in Burgundy. He does great work with local grapes, but also makes good international wines like Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Gewurztraminer. The Estate's vineyards are situated at altitudes higher than 750m, at the foothills of Mt. Parnon and are part of a distinctive ecosystem with very cold winters and mild summers. They cover 25 hectares planted with 5 different varietals. The Estate's winery austere and functional at the same time, it is, above all, a working winery where the No 1 objective is the creation of good wine. Visitors have a chance to follow closely how wine is made in a state-of-the-art Greek winery. The winery is equipped with pneumonic presses, cooling installations, stainless steel tanks, underground ageing cellars, French oak barriques and an iso-barometric bottling line, operating in an air-vacuum.

Vintage Overview (2007):

The zone of Moscofilero has noticeably suffered from the drought because it is a region where usually we have sufficient rain falls. The production was at the level of 50 %, while the quality of grapes was excellent. The price increases have followed the general rule, the most at the level of 40-45%.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A perfect 5 of 5

David Grega is a certified sommelier and wine consultant living in the Napa Valley; In addition David is the consulting winemaker and national sales manager for Carlotta Cellars. For more information e-mail


Vintage: 2005

Grand Cru: Musigny

100% Pinot Noir

Average Price: $1400

Tasting Notes: Considered by many to be the wine of the vintage (knowing how great the 2005 vintage was that's saying a lot) the 2005 Mugnier Musigny is the greatest wine I have tasted this year by far, and is a candidate for greatest of all time. I have a feeling that if I taste this wine in 20 years it may take the "best ever" slot. My notes are as follows: The nose releases pure and beautiful aromas of black raspberry and black cherry with a lovely rose pedal and crushed mineral aspect. Hints of fine vanilla and cinnamon complete a unified and seducing bouquet. The palate is stunning to say the least. There is so much power in this wine yet a wonderful elegance as well. Succulent and ripe yet firmly structured with a ridiculously long and complex finish I'm in heaven...pure heaven...

5 of 5 (Special occasion wine, sit down wine)

I would drink this at the earliest 2024, this wine will taste fantastic for 30+ years if cellared properly.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Grand Cru for the soul!

David Grega is a certified sommelier and wine consultant living in the Napa Valley; In addition David is the consulting winemaker and national sales manager for Carlotta Cellars. For more information e-mail

Winery: Domaine DuJac

Vintage: 2003

Grand Cru: Clos de la Roche

Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir

Average Price: $800 (Magnum)

Tasting Notes
: I won't lie, we opened this decades too early on purpose. There is only one way to get a half decent idea about how long a wine will age, and that is to taste it. Here are the notes from this stunning wine. A nose only hinting at what will someday become a host of vivid aromas. A beautiful black cherry and rhubarb note with a powerful truffle and dark turned potting soil component make this nose jump right out of the glass. On the palate this wine is dense with absolutely pristine tannins. Despite the rock solid structure, there is an elegance to this wine. To me, that combination is the mark of a truly special burgundy. After a nice long finish I'm floored by this wine. The potential is nearly endless, but if I had to put a number as far as cellaring is concerned, I would say 20 years before I try this guy again.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 (Classic wine, sit down wine)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene...

Aaron Epstein has been passionate about wine since before he could legally drink it, and at 27 he now has more than 5 years of professional wine experience. His love of the grape was born in Spain, took root in Italy, and has since led him around the world to work wine jobs in almost every aspect of the industry, most recently in Mendoza, Argentina. As of March, 2009, he is once again based out of his home city of New York, where he is racking up airline miles as a wine consultant and export agent for some of South America’s finest wines.
For more information visit Aaron’s wineblog Vino e Vita, or contact

For centuries, the city of Verona in Northern Italy’s Veneto region was best known as the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Today it has become synonymous with wine – specifically the Valpolicella (and Amarone della Valpolicella) made in the hilly area from which it takes its name, just outside of town.

Since 1967, Verona has also played host to VinItaly, the world’s largest wine fair, which begins tomorrow and has provided me with the perfect excuse to come enjoy spring in my favorite part of the world. It’s a bit intimidating, however – 5 days, more than close to 4,500 exhibitors, and God only knows how many tasters from more than 100 countries. I hope I’m tough enough to keep up.

Luckily (I think), I won’t be tasting the whole time – I am here to work (or at least to “work”) – and will be spending much of my time pouring wine with my friend Alessandro Speri, 5th generation of the Valpolicella’s storied Speri family, and producer of one of Argentina’s most unique wines, Prodigo. Of the many winery owners and winemakers I had the fortune to meet while living in Mendoza, Argentina, Alessandro is the one I’ve become closest to - a friendship that began a year and a half ago in a mutual search for the best pizza in Mendoza has since led me to Verona. Hopefully, with our forces combined, it will also soon result in Prodigo overtaking the US wine market. And needless to say, we’ve had a couple of pizzas together here, and more than one buffalo mozzarella!

The story of Prodigo is fascinating to me not only as a personal anecdote, but also as an example of Mendoza’s growing allure to winemakers (and wine lovers) the world over.

Very literally, Alessandro grew up in the winery. His family home was located above the Speri cellar, and as a child he played amongst the vines and the barrels. (I know the image is a bit cliche, but it happens to be true.) He went off to Milan to study law, and it was there that his course changed when, in 2000, he fell in love with the Malbec grape. Upon meeting famed Tuscan winemaker Attilio Pagli - one of the pioneers of modern Argentine winemaking at Altos Las Hormigas – he began to dream of taking his family’s tradition to the new world. In 2002 he decided to make the move to Mendoza.

In doing so, he caused quite a stir in his family - his father was strongly against the move, as he thought it was impossible to make quality wine in Mendoza. He did not support his son (the Attorney) taking such a risk. Nor, I imagine, did he want his family name to be associated with what he saw as such an un-tested wine region. However, Alessandro went ahead with it against his father’s wishes, and became the family’s ‘prodigal son.’ Prodigo was born.

Based La Consulta, Uco Valley – his favorite region for growing Malbec and home to some of Mendoza’s highest altitude vineyards - Alessandro began by crafting small quantities of two wines, Malbec Classico and Malbec Reserva. He has since added a Pinot Grigio and a Tempranillo, and is currently producing approximately 3,200 cases of Malbec Clasico, 1,500 cases of the Malbec Reserva, and 1,000 cases each of the Pinot Grigio and the Tempranillo. The wines are lovely - relatively light for Argentina, with a high acidity that evokes the hills of the Valpolicella and makes for perfect food pairings. His wines are served all over Italy, including Verona’s renowned Bottega del Vino, where it is served by the glass. This is saying quite a lot, given that very little wine is imported into Italy, other than Champagne (which I’ve been surprised to see a great deal of on this visit).

Alessandro is certainly not the only Italian making wine in Mendoza, with wineries like Ave beginning to make waves with wonderful wines that evoke the winery owners’ Tuscan roots. However, my personal connection aside, the Speri background makes this story all the more interesting and illustrative. While the wine world is quickly coming to accept Argentine wines as world class, the anger of the elder Speri exemplifies old world skepticism, and shows that while many of us are constantly looking for innovation, the wine ‘establishment’ has centuries’ old traditions and often closes its eyes to change. It has taken quite a while for many new world winemakers time to prove themselves to sommeliers and wine buyers, and even to their parents. (Perhaps especially to their parents.)

Despite his success in Argentina, and in the Italian import market, it wasn’t until recently that the real reward came for Alessandro. When his father tasted the 2006 vintage of Prodigo and smiled, not only did he acknowledge the full realization of his son’s dream, but also the immense potential of ascending wine regions such as Mendoza.

The prodigal son has made his father proud, and I am more excited than I can say to be part of the next chapter of the story.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A penny for my thoughts...

David Grega is a certified sommelier and wine consultant living in the Napa Valley; In addition David is the consulting winemaker and national sales manager for Carlotta Cellars. For more information e-mail

While perusing around my favorite wine shop in Yountville (V-wine Cellar) I was asked by the general manager of the shop to taste a flight of wines brought by a sales rep. This came not as surprise to me. The wonderful people at V-Wine Cellar have come to appreciate my two cents when it comes to potential wines they might carry. This benefits them because they get an outside opinion from a practised palate and it benefits me because I get the opportunity to learn something new about wines I would have not tasted otherwise. This particular flight was a Patz&Hall Pinot Noir tasting. I thought I would share my tasting notes with you, hope you enjoy!

Patz & Hall, 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir:
Right off the bat I was floored by the complex aromas of black raspberry, black cherry and candied bacon. Secondary aromas of slightly dried cranberry and fresh strawberry rounded out the nose. The palate was pure and pleasing. More of the lovely fresh fruits from the nose and well balanced approach make this a solid Pinot Noir in my book.
Score: 3.5 out of 5

Patz & Hall, 2007 Jenkins Ranch:
Black cherries jump right out at me as well as a bourbon quality that reminds me of a well made Manhattan. The palate fell apart a little bit on me. The flavors of black cherry, cola and ripe strawberry were there but I found an awkward bubble gum component on the mid palate that rubbed me the wrong way. I must say that the tannin was quite ripe and delicious.
Score: 3 out of 5

Patz & Hall, 2006 Chenoweth Ranch:
OK, I know this might sound a bit odd but this wine smelled like Banana nut bread with yummy walnuts all over the place. I know that seems like a bad thing but I actually quite enjoyed these interesting aromas mixed with hints of maraschino cherry, red liquorice and vanilla spice. The palate showed some blackberry and black cherry flavors coupled with a fine tannin structure. I really enjoyed this one.
Score: 3.5 out of 5

Patz & Hall, 2006 Pisoni Vineyard:
Ah, the legendary Pisoni Vineyard. This wine certainly stood out from the rest much like the great Gary Pisoni himself. On the nose I found a hedonistic grouping of blackberry jam, blueberry cobbler, shortbread and fresh strawberries. The palate was full, luscious and consuming. Layers of huckleberry jam and wild strawberry coupled with a creamy texture and long finish this was certainly a wine to be reckoned with.
Score: 4 out of 5

Friday, March 27, 2009

Julia & Malbec

My first entry is going to be an Argentine Malbec since my first glass of Malbec that I had in a bar in Salta (province in the north of Argentina) was decisive for my further path in life… I know this sounds sort of dramatic but it really was!!:-) I had been on a three month backpacking trip through the country at that time and after having been in Argentina for only two weeks I decided to throw away my plane ticket for the way back and stay. The endless amount of amazing places, the crazy loud happy people, the sun and the fantastic wine made me curious for more, and at the same time I felt very much at home in this place from beginning on…

Let me share one of my favorite “every day” Malbecs from Mendoza with you...

from the foot of the "Cordon del Plata"

Brand: Zagal

Winery: Hacienda del Plata

Vintage: 2006

Varietal: 100% Malbec

Winemaker: Hugo Galiotti

Winemaking: cold pre-maceration at 8° - 10° for 48 hours. Fermentation in steel tanks during 14 days at controlled temperature (use of selective yeasts). 40% of the wines is aged in 3rd use oak barrels for 8 months (French and American). The other 60% stay in stainless steel at low temperatures. Natural sedimentation, aging in bottle before entering the market: 6 months.

Alcohol: 14%

Average Price: € 9,50

Tasting Notes: Intense aromas of ripe red fruit, blackberry, clove and violets; in the background hints of toasted bread and coffee. Well structured and strong body, smooth and sweet tannins. Drink now through 2012.

Food Pairing Suggestions: wonderful with grilled beef marinated in herbs and garlic, accompanied with grilled vegetables like red bell pepper, onions, potatoes

General rating: 3 tastevins

Categories: Super Value! Weekly drinking

More Dessert - Please!

Winery: Castelnau du Suiduraut

Vintage: 2001

Appellation: Sauternes

Varietal: Semillon 90%, Sauvignon Blanc 10%

Oak: 12 months

Average Price: $29

Tasting notes: This wine has a deep intense straw yellow color, and a very complex nose. Covered in figs, prunes, caramel and the taste is so nice in balance. So sweet, yet so fine, fresh and delicate. This is one of the best Sauternes buys at the moment!

Food Pairing Suggestions: Grilled bananas with vanilla ice cream! Apricot pie with caramelized figs and crème anglaise. Yummy!

Winery Notes: I thought this tasting note would fit the spot just right. After the last review of “Rieussec 01” – which is one of my favorite wines of all times (!!). I wanted to give you an example of a world class Sauternes at a good price. This is the second wine of the famous Ch. Suiduraut, and what a bargain!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dessert Please!

David Grega is a certified sommelier and wine consultant living in the Napa Valley; In addition David is the consulting winemaker and national sales manager for Carlotta Cellars. For more information e-mail

Winery: Château Rieussec

Vintage: 2001

Appellation: Sauternes AOC

Varietal: Semillion/Sauvignon Blanc

Average Price: $150.00

Tasting Notes: By far the greatest and most memorable Sauterne I have ever tasted (yes, including Y'quem). A rich and profound aroma of pure organic honey, Creme Brulee and ripe apricots, trumped by the impeccably balanced and rich flavors on the palate. Well over a minute after taking my first taste, this wine is still lingering, amazing length and perfect acidity. I expect this the age well over 30 years.

Food Pairing Suggestions: I had this wine with an amazing dish prepared by chef Casey Gibson of restaurant 58 degrees in Sacramento CA. Chef Gibson presented a blue cheese panna cotta topped with organic honey "caviar" garnished with fresh raspberry and Spanish almonds. A truly ethereal pairing!

Winery Notes: Chateau Rieussec is one of 11 Prémier Cru properties designated in the 1855 classification, and was originally owned by Carmelite monks pre-dating the French Revolution. Currently the Chateau is owned by the Lafite-Rothschild group. The vineyards border that of the great Chateau Y'quem and consistently produce wines that rival Y'quem in Quality.

Monday, March 23, 2009

2007 Grüner-Veltliner 'Wachtberg, Salomon-Undho

Winery: Salmon-Undhof

Vintage: 2007

Appellation: Kremstal (Wachtberg vineyard)

Varietal: Gruner-Veltliner

Oak: No

Average Price: £22

Tasting notes: The appearance is a clear, with a lemon-green color. The nose is beautiful with the classic tones of green apples, asparagus, lychee and white pepper. The palate is dry with a medium body and intensity – good herbal length. Ooh what a beauty on that hot summer evening at the beach!

Food Pairing Suggestions: I’ve recently learned something new. Gruner Veltliner is excellent with creamy soups! Try them in all sorts, the crisp, but still good bodied wine matches the structure of the soups just perfect. Gruner is also excellent pair to dishes with a lot of herbs – examples could be 'moules marines' or baked fish with creamy sauce flavored with your favorite herbs.

Winery Notes: The winery is very old – 1792 – and has been in family hands ever since. Today, Erich and Bertold Salomon are making the wine and controlling the vineyards. The wines are VERY affordable, so avoid the ‘lowest’ range of their wines, they seem a little to cheap, lack of fruit etc, but the singe vineyard wines are an excellent buy.