Around the Wine World in Eight Days – France

Today is the fourth day of Around the Wine World in Eight Days, so today is France!

  1. Turkey – Tuesday
  2. Chile – Wednesday
  3. Argentina – Thursday
  4. France – Friday
    1. And we’re taking off the weekend, sightseeing in France
  5. Spain – Monday
  6. Germany – Tuesday
  7. Australia – Wednesday
  8. New Zealand – Thursday


Top 10 Things about France That Intrigue Me

  1.  I have traced myself back to Charlemagne. And, yes, so can many other people of Europe, because he had 17 children with eight of his 10 known wives (or concubines). So, where does that put me? In line also with Pippin the Short, Charles Martel, and the Kings of Scot. I have history and would love to return to that hallowed ground, from whence he came, that Charlemagne…
  2. Red wines accounts for 60 percent of French supermarket wine sales, and that’s compared with 25 percent for rose, and 15 percent for white wines.
  3. Even French people find it difficult to understand French wine labels.
  4. Northern France’s wines are usually made from a single variety (like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay); but, wines from further south are typically blends of varieties (like, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petite Verdot).
  5. This one  is from Food & Wine’s site: Seven Top French Wine Regions by Acres of Vines (I had no idea)
    • Languedoc-Roussillon 528,000 Acres
    • Bordeaux 306,000 Acres
    • Rhône Valley 188,700 Acres
    • Loire Valley 158,000 Acres
    • Burgundy 125,000 Acres
    • Champagne 75,000 Acres
    • Alsace 34,000 Acres
  6. French wine is much less expensive than American wine because it’s not heavily taxed.
  7. From Ashley Abroad: “If a French person asks you if you’d like a glass of wine, say “volontiers”, not “bien sûr.” In this context bien sûr means, “obviously”, as in, “Obviously I want some wine, don’t you know I drink allll the time?” P.S. I learned this the hard way.” [Nuances of language…]
  8. Terms to know, if you’re headed to Alsace:
    1. Bas-Rhin The northern portion of Alsace.
    2. Haut-Rhin: the southern portion of Alsace.
  9. Chablis: the northernmost region of Burgundy known for its steely whites.
    1. Because of the US’s Hearty Burgundy and calling whites “Chablis,” it’s earned a negative connotation.
    2. Reality: Chablis, the northernmost region of Burgundy, is known for its steely whites. So, today anyone who refers to a white Chardonnay that’s “un-oaked,” this is what is meant by Chablis-style.
  10. From French Together site: First of all, and quite logically, French people do not say “cheers” when toasting. Instead you can use “santé” (health). This is the most used words but some great alternatives include :
    1. A la tienne (to yours => to your health).
    2. A la vôtre (to yours but in a formal way this time)
    3. A votre santé (to your health formal)
    4. A ta santé (to your health) informal

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – France

Les Vignes Bila-Haut ~ (HB Wine Merchants)


The words that best describe Maison M. Chapoutier:

  • An Estate that nurtures its vineyards with the greatest respect for natural balance and terroir since 1808.
  • The family motto “Fac et Spera” – do and hope – says it all.
  • Two words that sum up all the patience and daring that this art demands: patience in relation to nature which presides; daring for the winemaker, who observes, chooses and assists.
  • The wine will be the faithful expression of this alchemy.


Let’s translate: Vignes in French = Vines in English.

All Beautiful Wines ~ and very much recommended

2014 Les Vignes Bila-Haut Pays d’Oc

This is a very delicate rosé, the kind that makes me yearn for more days with my adorable grandmother (Abbie Bernier) by the lake… It’s so soft and kind, easy on what I wanted and needed at the time. Truly refreshing, like the first sweet strawberries of a season and it did taste like strawberries. It’s that delicious and natural of a wine. I just don’t know how anyone couldn’t love this wine. ($15)

2013 Les Vignes Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem

Cinnamon spice and everything nice, dark chocolate (who’s in?) and jammy fruit with toasted almonds. The tannins were soft and supple, and the wine has a velvety finish, with hints of cocoa powder.  This is a wonderful wine for the outdoor grilling season. Classic and well structured, what we want France to continue to be… Pair it with canard (duck). ($15)

2014 Les Vignes Bila-Haut Cotes du Roussillon

Only four percent of grape production of this area is allocated to white wine growing, so this is a really rare wine, and an honor to taste something this exceptional. It’s also a delectable wine… crisp, refreshing aromas and flavors of lemon, with honeysuckle wafting on my palate, singing praises of my French Bernier ancestors. We French love our wines. Les Vignes delivers… A Grenache Blanc and a Grenache Gris add roundness in the mid-palate, and Vermentino (Rolle) gives it a tanginess, while Macabeo brings in crisp flavors.

Okay, get out the Wine Century Club spread sheet. I just added #151 as Macabeo and #152 Grenache Gris. I’m headed to 20o different varieties. I will make it, I know I will.

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – France

Master Family & Winesellers Ltd. ~ Le Charmel


Le Charmel is a new line of exceptional wine finds from different parts of France. This includes a Red Rhone, a Muscadet sur lie, a Pinot Noir, and a Cote de Provence rosé, pictured here.

“Le Charmel” refers to Charlie and Mel Master, a  father and son partnership, who source these wines. The are négociant merchants, doing a lovely job with their selections.


Wines from France

2013 Le Charmel Muscadet, Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie A.O.C. 

This wine is quite refined, like gorgeous french lace. From 40 year old vines, this Loir Valley wine contains the only grape allowed in the bottle… Melon de Bourgogne. Here before me is a delicately delicious white wine from the Loire, a 2013 Le Charmel Muscadet. This wine’s main varietal lineage is Melon de Bourgogne. I’ve added Melon de Bourgogne to my list. I’m now at 150 varieties that I’ve tasted.
I poured the wine into a Burgundian glass. I like a big, bold opening on a glass. I wanted to bathe in this one. Citrus, like Meyer lemons and tart green apples. This wine is made for soft gooey cheese… I tasted it at room temperature, to get the most from the flavors. It’s a powerfully decadent and refined wine in tasting characters, due to having rested on its lees for several months. I’ve spent the last minute thinking about it, and it still continued to linger. I pulled out my “In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs” to see what would work with this wine… Bingo: Troffie di Farina di Castagne Chestnut Pasta Sauced with Pesto, served with a Potato and Green Bean Garnish. This wine is so refreshing that I can just simply enjoy it as a sipping wine. A day in my garden, making everything perfect for those summer months…

2014 Le Charmel Rosé

Don’t let the roses fool you, I tasted away from the roses, and then realized I could bring in some of my roses to enhance this story… But, it was inspired on the wine, not based on it. It has more of a raspberry flavor to the wine, with notes of seed fruits, like apples and pears. Produced near the Mediterranean Coast, cultivated on a Provencal hillside. It’s as romantic as it all sounds, in terms of flavor, having this beautiful terroir. The Varieties: 30% Syrah, 30% Cinsault, 20% Mourvedre, 10% Grenache, 10% Rolle. I dream of the days with Provence. This is one area I need to put on the agenda. Looking for something really refreshing? This is the one, and it’s so elegant.

Monday… Spanish wines. Until then, have a safe 4th of July!



Around the Wine World in Eight Days – Argentina

Today is the third day of Around the Wine World in Eight Days, so today is Argentina day. I’m a huge fan of Argentinean wines. They’re done to perfection. What I’ve got listed here are all highly recommended wines, just let me state that and then take you into South America!

  1. Turkey – Tuesday
  2. Chile – Wednesday
  3. Argentina – Thursday
  4. France – Friday
    1. And we’re taking off the weekend, sightseeing in France
  5. Spain – Monday
  6. Germany – Tuesday
  7. Australia – Wednesday
  8. New Zealand – Thursday

Top 10 Things about Argentina That Intrigue Me

  1. Argentina is the world’s fifth largest producer of wine.
  2. Eighty percent of Argentina’s wine comes from Mendoza, South America’s largest wine producing region. (Yesterday, I wrote about the Grove Street Malbec. This is where the wine got its origin.)
  3. Spanish missionaries planted the first Vitis vinifera wine grapes in Argentina around 1550.
  4. Grapevines were shipped across the Atlantic by Michel A. Pouget, a French agronomist.
  5. Argentina boasts having the finest Malbec vines in the world, because they’ve not ever had phyloxxera, nor have they been grafted like elsewhere in the world, including France – Think Bordeaux.
  6. More Malbec is grown in Argentina than anywhere else in the world.
  7. The small town of Maipú, near  Mendoza, is so packed with wineries that it’s easy to hit five or six in a day.
    1. I never want to visit more than three in a day, because I will learn more about those three and have more intimate memories.
  8. Argentina’s Torrontés is a naturally occurring cross between Criolla negra and Muscat of Alexandria.
  9. Cabernet Franc is flourishing in Argentina as a cultivar.
  10. The Grape Harvest Festival in Argentina is world class, according to the Travel Channel.
    1. So it must be great… being right up there with Boston’s Wine Festival.
    2. I would have picked the Santa Fe Chile and Wine Festival, personally, having been numerous times to all US wine festivals within the Continental US, but that’s another story.

Around the Wine World in Eight Days – Argentina



Decopas is a wine from Argentina dedicated to the Millennial audience, and I believe that this wine is perfectly suited to that age group; however, I love it, too. At the end of each day in Argentina, thousands of colleagues, family and friends turn to each other and ask: “¿Decopas?” Buenos Aires slang for “By the glass?” this joyous invitation signals the start of Happy Hour! As bars start to fill and the wine starts to flow, patrons relax in a welcome atmosphere in which food, music and dance combine and culminate in lively conversation.  If I had a restaurant, I’d be looking at Decopas as a wine-by-the-glass as a great deal. At $12 retail, any restaurateur knows that with the first pour, the wine has paid for itself. (Yes, consumers, that’s how wine programs work.)


2014 Decopas Sauvignon Blanc, Mendoza Argentina

While Sauvignon Blanc is an older variety associated with Bordeaux, development of it in Argentina has been slow. (It can be vegetative, and so this problem has had to be overcome). Cultivation has expanded over the last few years in Mendoza, and they’re having great success with it. This wine proves it. Visually, this wine was light and lovely. The lemon tempted me, and it tasted as delicious as the aromas. It’s a very well balanced wine, and it extremely affordable, not only for millenials, but anyone having a large party and wanting a perfect Sauvignon Blanc as a crowd pleaser. A pool party in the making, this one.

2014 Decopas Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

Malbec is one of the Bordeaux varieties, and this one has had tremendous success in Argentina, to the point of me thinking… Argentine red wine? Malbec. At 100 percent Malbec, think about this wine with grilled meat dishes for this Fourth of July. If you love firm cheeses, this is then going to be your red appetizer wine.

Just as the last time I tasted this wine, the garnet with purple edges and medium dark color, just drew me in. It has a perfectly beautiful nose, and the 13 percent alcohol is a welcomed relief from such big wines being made today in the US… Sweet, dark cherries filled my palate, and reminded me that this is such a pleasant summer red wine. I enjoyed the hint of smoke as a finishing touch. I highly recommend these Decopas offerings…

¿Decopas, mis amigos?



When, in the mid-1990s, Concha y Toro, Chile’s leading wine producer, announced its successful purchase of a collection of vineyards in the Mendoza region of neighboring Argentina, there was little doubt on either side of the Andes that change was in the air. Wind is an agent of change, so it was only fitting that the new venture was named “Trivento” (Three Winds: the Polar, Zonda, and Sudestada. ), a whimsical reference to three winds that sweep through Mendoza and are such a distinguishing feature of the region’s climate and environment.



2013 Trivento Reserve Torrentés (Mendoza, Argentina, $11)

Torrentés, my love, you have become my go-to white. Why? Your sexy appeal… You draw me in. I’m captured by your seductive charms. You taste like a night in Santa Fe, after the perfect winemaker dinner… Sophistication and charm, this is what makes up my love for Torrentes…  So, to taste it? The bright yellow color lets you know that this wine is going to be a bit complex. On one hand, you enjoy a bit of the Mediterranean fruit of citrus, followed by a bouquet on the nose and then on the palate as a bouquet: roses, violets, hibiscus, and lavender. I always have you with Pan Pacific Foods, like what is served (and a by-the-glass wine at Chinois Asian Bistro… Home away from (cooking at) home.

2013 Trivento Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendoza, Argentina, $11)

Smooth, so smooth… like a fresh spring morning, after having spent the night before camping, having sat around a camp fire all night and into the wee hours of the morning, only to wake up to the sound of surf and birds chirping. Trivento has a way of smoothing out what would otherwise be rough edges for me. This wine is 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, for starters. Rich deep garnet is the color of this wine. What a yummy Cabernet. (Sorry I don’t have a technical term for yummy; I’m betting that 95 percent of you can relate.) Cassis, black currant, blackberry, and black cherry, with almond on the finish and sweet vanilla.



With 6213 miles separating these grapes from their native land, wine grapes “from the Old World encountered generous sunshine and laborious hands at the foot of the Andes. In Mendoza, these grapes displayed their full potential, becoming the most cherished varieties of their new home, Argentina.” From their site: Bodega Trivento Argentina. This winery produces Malbec, Torrentes, and Chardonnay.



2014 Trivento Amado Sur Chardonnay blend (Mendoza, Argentina, $15)

What a magical combination for a white wine blend: You think it, you taste it, and your dreams are realized. It’s 70 percent Chardonnay, 20 percent Pinot Grigio, 10 percent Viognier… (Burgundy, Italy, and the Rhone… Yeah, it’s that great of a trip.) Lemony, juicy pears, then the tropical fruit, which I associate with Viognier kicks in. Last evening I had Pork & Pearls at River Front Inn in Jenner… This wine would have rocked it… The dish had apricots and nectarine, with pearl quinoa in a fruit reduction sauce. It was soft and round, closing with complete satisfaction.  I’d buy this wine in a heartbeat.

 2014 Trivento Amado Sur Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina, $15)

Malbec, how do I love thee, let me count the ways, borrowing from Elizabeth Barret Browning. A long time fan of Malbec, this one also hits a bull’s eye. Beautiful color, with ruby violet hues. Lusty flavors of fruit and spice and everything nice… soft as silk tannins that I’d like to slip into for the night. Cherries, strawberries, and blueberries… very expressive. The finish has the spice of the fruit and spice… Get ready for a taste treat.




Around the Wine World in Eight Days – Chile

Today is the second day of Around the Wine World in Eight Days, so today is Chile!

  1. Turkey – Tuesday
  2. Chile – Wednesday
  3. Argentina – Thursday
  4. France – Friday
    1. And we’re taking off the weekend, sightseeing in France
  5. Spain – Monday
  6. Germany – Tuesday
  7. Australia – Wednesday
  8. New Zealand – Thursday


Top 10 Things about Chile That Intrigue Me

  1. Chile has 460 Years of Wine Heritage
  2. When the Spanish arrived in sixteenth century, there was no phylloxera
  3. Chilean vine rootstock (at the time) grew own-rooted, which turned out to be a valuable genetic material.
  4. This allowed Carmenere to thrive hidden among Merlot vines for over a century, even after its near extinction in France from phylloxera.
  5. Chile has llamas and ducks that roam vineyard rows, cleaning out intrusive weeds, while providing nitrogen to the soil.
  6. Chile is surrounded by four geographic barriers.
    1. North – Atacama Desert
    2. South – Patagonian ice fields
    3. East – Andes Mountains to the east
    4. West – Pacific Ocean
  7. It’s not the distance from the equator that is the dominant role in Chile, it’s its closeness to the Pacific Ocean or the Andes Mountains.
  8. Chile has much greater diversity in soils and climates from east to west, than it does from north to south.
  9. Geology:
    1. Soils are healthy and well-drained, with textures of loam, clay, sand, and silt
    2. Soils have a variety of origins. Examples are alluvial, colluvial, and fluvial
  10. Sustainability is far more than a catch phrase. It is also much broader than taking an ecologically sound approach to grape growing. It involves close attention to detail in each of the three components required for a healthy company: the environment, the people, and the economic bottom line. More about Chile on Wines of Chile.


The Winery ~ Concha y Toro


In the closing years of the 19th century Don Melchor de Concha y Toro discovered that his most treasured wines had been pilfered from the “casillero” (cellar) beneath his family home. To discourage further theft, the enterprising Don spread a rumor that his deepest, darkest cellars were haunted by the devil. Today, the original Concha y Toro family estate, complete with its Devil’s Cellar, is Chile’s leading tourist destination!

The wines may have been stored in hell, but they are made in heaven. With its steady sunshine, cooling winds and pestilence-free vineyards, Chile is a winemaker’s dream. Add to this a winemaking tradition based on French grape varieties and winemaking techniques, and you have a winning combination. High quality wines can be made inexpensively, which Concha y Toro successfully demonstrated with the release of its Casillero el Diablo wines in 1963.


I’m a huge fan. On our last trip to Puerto Rico, it was the Casillero del Diablo label that I recognized and purchased, without a second thought at a wine shop in Luisa. The wines are always consistently delicious, as a value wine import that I trust.

Unleashing my inner devil, as suggested by Concha y Toro


2013 Reserva Casillero del Diablo Devil’s Collection (Casablanca Valley, Chile, $15)

A blend of 85 percent Sauvignon Blanc, 10 percent of Chardonnay, and 5 percent Gewürztraminer. After fermentation, the Reserva Casillero del Diablo white wine was aged sur lie, for at least eight months in stainless steel. It is a deliciously crisp wine (Sauvignon Blanc traits) – with flavors of citrus, peach and honeysuckle – that’s s well rounded wine (Chardonnay traits), with a floral accent (Gewürztraminer coming through). It was a really enticing wine, and I’d love it with a melon fruit salad.


2014 Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay (Limari, Chile, $12)

It’s 100 percent Chardonnay, and my first thought was “flawless”… The flavors, the texture, the citrusy lemon expressed its true character, with a refreshing finish on the 100 degree day when I tasted it. And, most important is that I enjoy tasting wines for evaluation at room temp. As a result, this wine was a bit warmer than my usual 70 degrees; however, if there was any problem with this wine, I would have found it instantly. Instead I found a wine that I could enjoy any time, any place. I would love this one with squash, while others would say fish dishes. (I can’t say “fish dishes,” as I’m allergic)… More for you, “don’t cry for me, Chile.”


2014 Casillero del Diablo Malbec (Rapel Valley, Chile, $12)

Malbec was one of the first red wines that I learned about, outside of the usual comfort zone. I was working with The Hambrecht Wine Group (no longer in business) and our CEO Ed Schrufer. Ed went to South America to buy wine, had it shipped to Healdsburg, and the juice went under our Grove Street label. This was my first introduction, and honestly, it was a wine I could enjoy without much thought. I never quite got other Bordeaux varieties, the way I instantly got this one. “Malbec, what the heck,” I remember thinking. “You’re so easy!” So, now I’m trying this Chilean version…  Smokey, chalky, flint… and then the dark cherries come to the dance floor. Talk about delivering. It’s been years since I’ve backed up into Malbec, in a serious way. But, as I wrote earlier, Concha y Toro wines are consistently delicious and now so is the variety of Malbec on my palate. I’m never disappointed with this brand. Try it with cheesecake. That’s what I’m doing right now.

Image of old rauli wood barrels outside Concha...

Image of old rauli wood barrels outside Concha y Toro. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





Around the Wine World in Eight Days – Turkey

Town of Ortahisar in Cappadocia, a region in c...

Town of Ortahisar in Cappadocia, a region in central Turkey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is the first day of Around the Wine World in Eight Days. It seems fitting that we start where wine grape growing and winemaking all began, in the cradle of humanity ~ Turkey. It’s intriguing that where it began has very little exposure in the world. The focus for winemaking seems to have deep roots in Europe; however, France – and the rest of the world – can thank Turkey for having the good sense to enjoy the fermented beverage, which came from wine grapes.

  1. Turkey – Tuesday
  2. Chile – Wednesday
  3. Argentina – Thursday
  4. France – Friday
    1. And we’re taking off the weekend, sightseeing in France
  5. Spain – Monday
  6. Germany – Tuesday
  7. Australia – Wednesday
  8. New Zealand – Thursday


Top 10 Things about Turkey That Intrigue Me

  1. Right now, Turkey is focused on bridging the gaps between one of the oldest grape growing and wine making regions in the world, by educating the new world about what Turkey has to offer.
  2. It has an 11,000 year history of winemaking.
  3. There are more than 800 indigenous grape varieties in Turkey.
  4. Turkey represents both the oldest world in terms of wine making and the newest in terms of quality wine making.
  5. Turkey’s unique geography is bridging Asia and Europe, which is the physical location for not only being the cradle for civilizations, but also “this geography represents a unique fauna.”
  6. It has a biological diversity that is represented by 75 percent of the total number of plant species, which are entirely found in all of of Europe.
  7. It’s the sixth largest grape growing area in the world (but only using three percent of it with winemaking).
  8. It’s the original home of Vitis vinifera.
  9. It’s the oldest civilization with the most diverse cuisine.
  10. It has unique, indigenous grape varieties.


Importer: Vinorai.com wines

Turasan, 2013 Emir*

(eh-MEER) ~ Cappadocia, Turkey

From the importer’s Website:

The Emir* grape only grows in one place in the world – Cappadocia, Turkey. The Turasan winery is located in the heart of Cappadocia, giving it a natural advantage in producing the freshest and finest Emir. It is often compared to Torrontes and has been grown and made into wine since the Hittite era (1700 BC). Emir thrives in Cappadocia’s volcanic soils and benefits from its unique micro- climate: high altitude, hot days and cool nights.


VISUALLY: The wine is a light yellow in color, and is very inviting.

NOSE: This one had aromas that I’ve never experienced before. Slightly floral, but also influenced by the terroir’s olive trees… This is all in a very pleasant way, please understand. This wine made me rethink everything, because of its singular purity.

SIDEBAR: I brought this up to my contact person Shane Rai, Co-Founder (VinoRai)

I wrote: These wines are wonderful… Could I actually be tasting wines that didn’t mutate upon themselves?

Shane: Yes, you are right – from all that I’ve read and asked from our producers, these native varietals haven’t mutated.

There have been some hypotheses that some of the natives, for example Kalecik Karasi, is linked to another Turkish varietal, but there hasn’t been any DNA profiling conducted to verify that claim.

Then again, the other famous indigenous varietal, Okuzgozu, is said to be related to another indigenous varietal called Kara Erik from neighboring provinces but some recent doubts on this parentage have been cast on that claim too.

With grape domestication having been traced back to 6-7000BC in Turkey, it’s not terribly surprising that not much detailed literature exists on this topic though there seems to be some increased efforts lately in DNA profiling which might lead to some new & perhaps interesting claims.

PALATE: The producer talks about Torrentes, but that’s not what I got at all. I got the most unusual flavors I’ve ever had in a white wine. It was like tasting white wine for the very first time for me. It was that unique for flavors.  Lichees nuts, white peaches, and star fruit seem to come to mind and palate, along with yellow nasturtiums.


Refreshing and thoughtfully lingering. This is a perfect wine for the Wine Century Club. When you’ve tasted this one, you know you’ve spent your money and time well exploring a new wine.

Turasan, 2012 Kalecik Karasi*

(Kah-le-djic Car-ah-ser)

Imported by Vinorai

From the importer’s Website:

Kalecik Karasi* is a blue-black grape indigenous to Turkey and known for producing fruity wines with low to medium tannins and bright acidity. Although compared to Pinot Noir at times because of its similar red-fruit orientation on the palate, in reality that is where all other similarities end. Kalicek Karasi is unique on its own. Red fruits predominate on the palate with characteristics of vanilla and cocoa undercurrents. Turasan winery is located in the heart of Cappadocia and Kalecik Karasi from this region takes on the characteristics of the terroir. Cappadocia is located on high altitude with limited water supply allowing the grapes to take longer in reaching maturity thereby making the aromas of red fruit, raspberry, red currant and cherry all the more intense and vibrant.


VISUALLY: The wine is light in color, the way I love a great Pinot Noir from California to be; ruby red in color and allowing light to beautifully pass through.

NOSE: Unusual and having to really think about it, because it’s so completely new to me. If I had a Turkish nose and palate, it might jump out at me…  Soft middle Eastern spices like cardamom seeds and Mahleb.

Mahleb is an ancient spice that is used principally in the Middle East, Greece and Turkey. It is the pit of the sour cherry. The aroma is nutty with a hint of almond and cherry. It is used in breads and pastries. It also is an excellent flavoring for sweetmeats. Mahlab, has been used for centuries in the Middle East (especially in Turkey and Syria) as a sweet/sour, nutty addition to breads, cookies and biscuits. This old spice has gained an American following with the new interest in Mediterranean cooking and is mentioned in several popular new cookbooks.

PALATE: When I tasted this wine, I knew that I was tasting history. There is a purity to this wine that seems to state,” this is how wine grapes are, when they’ve not mutated upon themselves for the last nearly 2,000 years.” Purity of flavor, with a simplicity of blueberries and cherries.

FINISH: Silky and lingering, with a slight tannin that’s holding promise for this one. Delicious.


Collection 2012 Diren Öküzgözü*

(Oh-cooz-goe-zue) 2012 Kirizi Sek Sarap,

Dry red wine

From the importer’s Website:

Founded in 1958, Diren’s focus has largely been on indigenous varietals. The 2012 Diren Öküzgözü incorporates Cabernet Sauvignon but mostly highlights the native mid-eastern Anatolian grape – Öküzgözü*. This grape typically produces medium-bodied wines with ripe fruit and spice flavors with plenty of acidity. This wine is lively and structured and due to its forward character can be enjoyed year round. In 2012, a hot summer was followed by a cool, dry harvest allowing for long hang-times. Excellent structure, aromas, and balance are a hallmark of the vintage.


VISUALLY: The wine is dark cherry in color, telling me that I saved the heavier bodied wine for last. Not knowing anything about these wines, I got lucky in my tasting order. This wine is a gorgeous deep ruby color.

NOSE: Dark cherries and a touch of spice entice…

PALATE: The acidity promised in their own notes delivered. What a great wine for a beef stew. It makes me want to go out and find some Turkish spices to create a dish I’ve also never tasted. It would be fitting. The Cab is perhaps the tannins that will hold this uncomplicated, but very delicious wine.

FINISH: It’s now about five minutes since I tasted this wine, and I’m still enjoying the flavors… Seriously…

I highly recommend to anyone who is wanting to expand your knowledge base about wines to step outside of your own neighborhood (of knowledge) and go global. These Turkish wines are fabulous. It makes me want to plan a vacation to Turkey as soon as possible.

* Wine Century Club ~ I have now tasted exactly 150 different varieties, from around the globe.




Viticulture,Wine,Wine Making,Wine Writer,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery

Interesting Assignment, Media

For those of you wine writers, who are looking for an interesting assignment, this may be right up your alley.

Richard Keenan of Kick Ranch and Overland Wines is hosting a special wine media event on Thursday, July 23, in his vineyards in Rincon Valley, Santa Rosa, California.

This assignment is NOT open to the public; nor will there be trade people, who would like to participate for this one. This is ONLY for wine media. This means that it will be quite intimate, and you’ll have quick assess to some very interesting wine brands, with a captivating story… One Man’s Grapes, Many Winemakers’ Dreams.

Interesting Assignment from Dick Keenan

One vineyard and what different winemakers do with the same grapes

I hope that you’ll decide that this is a special opportunity to taste the hand of the winemaker, as we will feature wines made by eighteen different winemakers, all starting with the grapes grown at Kick Ranch northeast of Santa Rosa.  And the winemakers will be in attendance to discuss their wines from Kick Ranch, other select wines they make, and their techniques.

Since 2004, more than 70 wines made with Kick Ranch grapes (most with a Kick Ranch vineyard designate) have received 90+ scores from highly-esteemed wine writers and publications, including Robert Parker, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Steven Tanzer’s International Wine Cellars. We planted Kick Ranch in 2000, and since then it has become a “reference point” vineyard for Rhone varieties in Sonoma County, and for bright and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc wines.

My wife Kathy McNamara and I have been actively involved in the wine business for more than 20 years, since we first met Kent Rosenblum of Rock Wall Wine Company, and invested in his family winery Rosenblum Cellars in 1992. Then, in 1998, after working on a trial that lasted six years, I heeded my wife’s advice and began a transition away from law to become a grape grower. After two years of walking hillsides all around Northern California, I found a perfect vineyard location nestled on the western flank of Spring Mountain in Sonoma County.  We later learned that a vineyard had flourished there more than 120 years earlier.

Kick Ranch’s hillside site is not only beautiful, but harkens back to an important pioneer history in Sonoma County. Its original settlers, Iowa-born and raised Richard and Sally Fulkerson, traveled nearly 2000 miles by wagon along the Oregon Trail, arriving to Santa Rosa as one of the area’s first pioneer families in 1854. It was outside the new village of Santa Rosa that, as later recorded in their family journal, they established a “fine ranch” with orchards and 25 acres of vineyards, and likely supplied the grapes for some of the earliest wineries in Sonoma County.

If you’re a wine writer and this opportunity interests you, please contact Dick Keenan: dick.keenan@gmail.com.

RSVP by July 1, 2015

Event Details: wines made by eighteen different winemakers

Richard Keenan of Kick Ranch and Overland Wines

Wine media event

Thursday, July 23, 5:00 p.m.

In his vineyards in Bennett Valley, Santa Rosa, California

(Dick will provide driving directions when you RSVP)

Current Wine Brands

  • Robin Akhurst (Apsara, and now Swanson)
  • Glenn Alexander (Sanglier Cellars)
  • Kale Anderson (Kale Wines, also Director of Winemaking – Pahlmeyer)
  • Megan Baccitich (Paul Hobbs Wines)
  • Les Behrens (Behrens Family Wines)
  • Jean- Noel Formeaux ( Chateau Potelle)
  • Paul Hobbs (Paul Hobbs Wines)
  • Ben Larks (Idle Cellars)
  • Ehren Jordan (Aril, Failla)
  • Francoise Peschon (now consulting winemaker at Araujo)
  • Jeff Pisoni ( Shared Notes)
  • Bibiana Gonzales Rave (Shared Notes)
  • Gerhard Reisacher (Delectus)
  • Fred Scherrer (Scherrer Winery)
  • Kirk Venge (Venge Vineyards, B Cellars, Bacio Davino, Beau Vigne, Hunnicutt)

Earlier Wine Brands

  • Russell Bevan (Bevan Cellars)
  • Hugh Chappelle (Lynmar, now Quivira)
  • Jeff Cohn (JC Cellars, Rosenblum Cellars)
  • Shane Finley (Shane Wines, now Lynmar)
  • Bayard Fox (Renard)
  • Pax Mahle (Pax)
  • Chris Loxton (Loxton Cellars)
  • Denis Malbec (Capture)
  • Kent Rosenblum (Rosenblum Cellars)
  • Christian Stark (Stark Wines)
  • Morgan Twain-Peterson (Bedrock)



Argentina,Australia,Chile,France,Germany,New Zealand,Spain,Wine

Around the Wine World in Seven Days

Around the Wine World in Seven Days is going to be a celebration of my appreciation for the wine import brands that have discovered and appreciate Wine Blog as a resource.

I’ve always had winged feet. If it’s from somewhere else, I want to explore it all. While my immediate neighborhood has always been import-ant to me, allowing me to grow and get outside of my immediate surroundings, what’s directly under my nose can eventually cause me to become restless. What’s “here” is lovely, and what’s “there” is exciting, mind expanding, and the yang to my yin. If I had to just stay put in one neighborhood, I’d go out of my mind.

Lately I’ve been very busy writing for clients, so samples have piled up, but in a very fascinating way, I recently realized. I have wines from the following countries, as I lined them all up. I’m going to sip, savor, and report my findings; and in all fairness, I’m taking one country at a time, in a seven day period. It will also include some Wine 101 for import brands’ locations.

  1. Chile
  2. Argentina
  3. France
  4. Spain
  5. Germany
  6. Australia
  7. New Zealand

I’m going to write Top 10 Things about each _____ (fill in the blank) country, to go along with my impressions of the wines and their wineries.

Why “Top 10 Things About _____?”

I’ve just finished a huge project for our client, The Rubin Family of Wines. It’s called Wine 101, and you’ll be seeing Wine 101 being offered on the Internet, as an Email, wine educational program. If you click on that series (here), you’ll perhaps learn a bit more about wine… from the vineyards to the glass. I had Winemaker Joe Freeman along with Associate Winemaker and Resident Cooper Ed Morris editing and enriching my original text. That’s now completed, so I can focus on these imports as a new learning curve.

I’m going to make this series – Around the World in Seven Days – similar in style to Wine 101, but not as long as what it took to produce the Wine 101 series. Because of the nature of blogging, I can’t devote the same 90 hours to Around the World in Seven Days….  (Billable versus non-billable hours, it’s called.) Still, the top ten facts about each country, I’d like for it be have some quirky insights, as we explore wines from around the world, starting next Monday, June 29.



Hard Cider,Wine

Hard Ciders from France… Wait, let me put on my Fleur de Lys hat!

My daughter Melanie got tired of seeing me in my Boston Red Sox baseball hat. People believe that I have it on because I love the Red Sox. They’d be wrong. My love of the “B” hat is because I’ve traced myself back to the Reverend William Blackstone.

So, why the fleur de lys? Well, Blackstone has been traced back to Charlemagne. She wants me to also pay attention to my French roots, as well as my English roots. (My maternal grandparents were Peter and Abbie Bernier…  Bernier rhymes with Viognier.) So, here I am with lots of European roots. A long and winding story, and one that deserves a glass of Hard Cider from France, especially as a hard cider virgin.

So, Bring on the Hard Ciders from France

Winesellers, Ltd., a national importer and marketer of international wines, has introduced a selection of artisanal hard ciders. Having been produced in the regions of Normandy and Brittany, France, the area of Normandy is important to me, as my dad was on the Beaches of Normandy (June 6, 1994… D Day). Asked if I would taste, I said yes. I wanted to taste a place where I’ve never been, but my father defended against the Nazi invasion.

Hard Ciders

It’s very interesting to finally discover what the hubbub is all about with hard ciders. I’ve loved hard lemonade in the past; but hard apple juice?

I have to admit that I’ve never enjoyed beer, and now I know that I’m one of those wheat intolerant people. That explains to me why something so delicious for so many people only smelled and tasted like something so offensive. This reason has kept me from crossing that bridge to the brewsky side. I did have about two beers in my life, and I can remember the yeastyness in the brew.

When I tasted the hard ciders, I got the remembrance of that yeast, but this time “wheat” wasn’t the ingredient… The apple flavors aromas and flavors dominated over the yeast, and it all took me on a new adventure in tasting. Something that simple… one ingredient in the mix made all of the difference in the world… between pleasure and pain. The alcohol for these ciders ranges from only three (3) to five (5.5) percent. Caution, wine lovers: It’s easy to be ready for a second glass, before you even finish the first, given the alcohol levels.

Thanks, Winesellers, Ltd.. for the opportunity to sample your ciders.

How did they individually taste?

Domaine de la Minotiere ~ The Sophisticates

STORY: is a small 37 acre single domain of cider orchards in Normandy, which has been cultivated using 100 percent organic certified farming. The specialty is traditional Cidre Fermier, produced in a dry (Brut) and sweet (Doux) style. Both will be available at select wholesalers. (Both are also $12.00.) Let me begin by saying, I prefer everything organic over all else. This past weekend, I had organic nachos with organic cheese and organic salsa. I’ll pay the price, so I don’t have to battle diseases late in life. This is why I tried these first. One spotting of “organic” and I could hardly wait to get started. Produced in a dry (Brut) and sweet (Doux) style,  both will be available at select wholesalers. (Both are also $12.00.)

TASTING: This is the first of all of the hard ciders I tasted. They produce two styles: Cidre Fermier Brut (Organic Farmhouse Cidre) is a dry style; and, the Cidre Fermier Doux (Organic Farmhouse Cidre) is a bit sweet.

  1. Cidre Fermier Brut (Organic Farmhouse Cidre) 
    1. Cidre Fermier Brut (Organic Farmhouse Cidre) was very pleasant. Flavors of crisp apples, a tiny bit of citrus and a touch of frankincense flavors were the most obvious to me. I would definitely like to enjoy this one more in the future. It’s a great entry Hard cider. I would love to have this one with chicken dishes. I imagine that it would be well with fish, too.  ~ La dame sophistiquée grande…
  2. Cidre Fermier Doux (Organic Farmhouse Cidre) ~I have to admit, as a novice, I preferred the Cidre Fermier Doux. It’s like being a kid and going from a diet of milk into water and then segueing to juice. The child will pick the juice over the water any day. Our palates are born to enjoy lactose. If it didn’t contain lactose – for energy – I can only imagine how boring milk would be. I feel this way about the hard ciders, for now. I know as I try more, my palate will become accustomed to the flavors and enjoying a drier version, just as my wine palate changed from sweet to dry. ~ Joie de vivre!

Manoir de Grandouet, Cidre Fermier ~ The return to New England and Old France

STORY: Mandoir de Grandouet is a third generation family farm, located in the heart of the Pays d’Auge, Normandy. They harvest 70 acres of cider apple orchards. Eighty dairy cows graze under the apple trees, later to have their milk used for AOC Camembert cheese production. The Cidre Fermier Brut ($11.00) and Cidre AOP Pays d’Auge ($13.00) will be available nationwide through the Winesellers, Ltd. wholesaler network.


  1. Cidre Fermier Brut... A great cider for those among us who love beer. This one was the closest to beer of all the hard ciders in this story. All I could think was ~ Tres bien!
  2. Cidre AOP Pays D’Auge: Demi Sec. This one was semi sweet, very refined and refreshing… Yeast is very much part of the finish, the color was a welcoming yellow. This off dry, cider had hallelujah moments for me, as a taste of New England that I remember; and a taste of Old France, to which I could relate ~ Doux souvenirs…

Le Brun de Brentagne ~ The new kids on the block will gravitate toward these

STORY: The Le Brun ciders have been produced in Brittany, France, since 1955. The ciders are made using the traditional method of natural fermentation, from pure pressed juice of their handpicked apples. The Le Brun brand includes the Brut Cidre de Bretagne ($9.00) and the Organic Cidre – certified USDA ($10.00). Both will be available nationwide through the Winesellers, Ltd. wholesaler network. The labels are what will pull in the newbies, the millennial, the early adopters, regardless of age. The look is simple, clean, and shows location, location, location.


  1. Cider de Brentagne Brut, the Red label – Golden in color, Dry, crisp, very clean with linger yeasty flavors.  A very fun cider, easy to share with family and friends for anew experience, or an old tradition ~ Un homme élégant
  2. Organic  Cider Brittany, the Green Label – We shared with one with our friends at the Vineyard Club. Everyone was curious, everyone was new at tasting, and it was a delicious treat, matching the collectives foods of the meal, after we all played Pétanque. Great food, great friends… In flavors of homemade apple pies…~ Une grande aventure

For your info, each hard cider is available for the first time in the US, with the selection including two single domain farmhouse producers in Normandy and one traditional method producer in Brittany. You can contact Winesellers, Ltd. for more information.



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PR Advice,Public Relations,Public Service Announcement,Wine

How can I promote a wine I’ve never tasted?

This is a Public Service Announcement:

I just got another one of those E-Mails.

Dear Friends,

It would be greatly appreciated if you could help us spread the word about our new Pinot Noir Rosés. It’s our third Pinot Noir release, but it’s the first time we’ve made it as a Rosé, and we’re pretty excited about it.

I also just read another wine blogger’s entry:

“‘It would be great if you could spread the word to your audience about our wine.’  That I’ve never tasted. No. Just no.”

A wine writer responded: “I had an editor once who asked me, ‘So, when you review a book, do you actually read the whole thing?’ People are amazing, and usually not in the good way.”

Dear winery media people:

If you’re going to ask someone to spread the word, and that person has a reputation to protect, he or she will not recommend your wine if you’ve not sent a sample of it.

Here’s the deal… You don’t even have to send a sample; however, you should suggest that a sample of that wine is available for review. If the writer is interested, she or he will ask for you to send it along.

Again, I ask, “How can I promote a wine I’ve never tasted?”