Bordeaux 101 ~ The Stages of Learning about Bordeaux ~ partie

Bordeaux 101, my stages of discovery for the past year. Since this is a birthday for me, and my last year was devoted to learning more about Bordeaux, today I’m sharing my Bordeaux 101, for anyone else so inspired.

Now I’m going into a new region: Verona, Italy, for 2017. Today is my cross over, thanks to #IAMarone inspired…

For you, From Bordeaux with Love

In late 2015, I had a realization… 24 years in wine work, and I hadn’t made real time for learning about the origin of fine wine ~ Bordeaux. I became committed, inspired by the importer Millesima. I truly believe that if one is to learn about any wine region, he or she first needs to learn about the culture. This happened to me by first moving to Sonoma County, and learning all I could at Belvedere Winery. In that job I was sent to nearly every state in the US. When I started my own PR firm with my husband/partner Jose Diaz, we had Mills Reef as a client. I then learned a lot more about New Zealand. What an amazing opportunity that was. I didn’t get to travel there, but was the first to declare that New Zealand was an upside-down boot, and a land of lamb and people with gentle passion and delicious wines.

Next, Enoforum wines entrusted me with their wines. This time, I got to travel to Europe… Portugal. Immersed in that culture for ten of the most fabulous learning days of my life; my wine world expanded exponentially steeper than I could have ever imagined.

When Millesima invited me for the second year in a row to enter their contest, I thought, why not? It was a ridiculous thought, based on how little I knew or had written about Bordeaux, but I did a Nike thing… Just do it, right?

It was their grace of turning me down – which I fully expected – that made me want to take a journey and learn about Bordeaux. What were the secrets that I was missing? How could I apply with I know about wine already, apply what I know about the culture of wine and beyond to get serious.

Below is a list of how I got serious in 2016 to learn about Bordeaux. And in 2016, it took getting to partie seize that I seized the day for just learning about wineries in Bordeaux… True to my core, I first learned about the culture. I was then ready to learn about the wines. I seize(d) the day!

If you, too, are ready to learn about Bordeaux, save a link to this story. You’ll be able to return and read each story at your leisure, and systematically find the joy that I have… Bordeaux.

Wine Blog Bordeaux Series

  1. Beyond Bordeaux – Season 1 – A Travel Series with Host Patrick Cappiello
    • The LCBO Broadcast Production Group’s series takes us beyond the obvious… the wines
  2. My Story for Passion of Wine ~ Partie un ~ Just getting started
    • The beginning of my armchair, Bordeaux journey
  3. My Story for Passion of Wine ~ Partie deux
    • The Bordeaux varieties
  4. Wine of the Week ~ Les Hauts de Lagarde 2015 Bordeaux Rose ~ partie trois
    • Tasting a Bordeaux wine
  5. Unexpected Bordeaux “partie quatre” ~ Bordeaux and the rest of us are silently weeping for Denis and May-Britt Malbec
    • The Loss of Denis Malbec
  6. Bordeaux ~ You Can Bank On It ~ partie cinq
    • What are the Left and Right banks all about?
  7. Bordeaux ~ Getting to the Bottom of Left and Right Bank Soils ~ partie six
    • Terroir of the banks
  8. Bordeaux ~ Cabernet Franc, a Luscious Bordeaux Variety ~ partie sept
    • Cab France, the grape variety
  9. Bordeaux ~ The Aquitaine Region ~ partie huit
    • A region by any other name
  10. Bordeaux ~ Mirror of Water ~ partie neuf
    • A new Bordeaux landmark
  11. Bordeaux ~ What You Don’t Know ~ partie dix
    • Things I found fascinating about Bordeaux
  12. Bordeaux ~ Impressionist Alfred Smith ~ partie onze
    • Could there be a French Impressionist from Bordeaux?
  13. Bordeaux ~ Albert Smith Work in the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux ~ partie douze ~ Partie

    • More from this Bordeaux Impressionist
  14. Bordeaux ~ Beyond the vines, while enjoying the culture ~ partie treize
    • More Bordeaux, the city
  15. Bordeaux ~ Banking on Iconic Wineries ~ partie quatorze
    • Continuing to explore the Banks’ regional diversities
  16. Bordeaux ~ Les Hauts de Lagarde 2015 ~ The Red and The White of It ~ partie quinze
    • Les Hauts de Lagarde 2015 – Blanc and Rouge

Credit to Millesima for originally inspiring me to learn about Bordeaux.

Key for French Numerals

0. Zéro / Zero
1. Un, une / One
2. Deux / Two
3. Trois / Three
4. Quatre / Four
5. Cinq / Five
6. Six / Six
7. Sept / Seven
8. Huit / Eight
9. Neuf / Nine
10. Dix / Ten
11. Onze / Eleven
12. Douze / Twelve
13. Treize / Thirteen
14. Quatorze / Fourteen
15. Quinze / Fifteen
16. Seize / Sixteen



11 Most Expensive Wines Ever Sold ~ by Randi Glazer

I was asked, once again, to share my blog for a writer. Most of them are shills for free advertising. But this time I wanted to dig deeper. It sounded interesting. Wine that will never be enjoyed? Perhaps…

The Pitch by Kim Bettasso for Randi Glazer

Hey Jo,

I’m Kim, Content Manager for Randi Glazer. I really enjoy your site and liked your post Wine of the Week ~ Casal Thaulero’s 2015 Orsetto Oro Pecorino Terre di Chieti. Great post! I recently published 11 Most Expensive Wines Ever Sold. I’m hoping that it will give fellow wine lovers a look at some rarely seen wines. Can I send the link so you can take a look? I’d love to get your opinion. Either way, keep up the great work!

I took a look, and I asked for information about Randi Glazer.

Sorta Sounds Like Sideways

I read through all of what was given to me, and realized that since Randi is in investments, she would certainly have an interest in wine investments. So, here is her story. Take it away, Randi Glazer!

11 Most Expensive Wines Ever Sold

Wine connoisseurs are often said to possess both a highly refined palette and a healthy bank account, as the absence of either one certainly makes it difficult to enjoy the finest wines and most renowned vintages with any kind of regularity.

Due to the relative dearth of ideal grape-growing conditions and the delicate balance associated with the aging process, truly exceptional vintages are quite rare and therefore expensive — often extraordinarily so.

Among wine connoisseurs, certain vintages are held in the highest regard and fetch exorbitant sums of money whenever one is made available. For the most expensive wines ever sold, a vigneron and vintage of historic proportions is typically involved, and the value of the wine soars to remarkable heights if the bottle itself possesses some additional historic significance. Such is the case with many of the 11 wines that follow, most of which sold for far more than six figures when offered up at auction.

11. 1951 Penfolds Grange Hermitage — $38,420

A true rarity, the 1951 vintage of Penfolds Grange Hermitage that sold for nearly $40,000 is thought to be just one of 20 bottles remaining. The $38,420 sum makes the 1951 Penfolds Grange Hermitage the most expensive Australian wine ever sold.

10. 1775 Massandra Sherry de la Frontera — $43,500

This 1775 bottle of sherry from the Crimean region’s Massandra Winery is the winery’s oldest vintage and — at a price of $43,500 — remains the most expensive bottle of sherry every sold.

9. 1787 Chateau d’Yquem — $100,000

Generally speaking, white wine does not often exceed the value of red wine. In the case of this 1787 Chateau d’Yquem, however, the bottle’s rarity and the exceptional vintage were more than enough to spur a collector to pay $100,000 for what was — at the time of the sale — the most expensive white wine ever sold.

8. 1945 Chateau Mouton Rothschild — $114,614

The fact that this particular bottle was a jeroboam and not a standard 750ml bottle likely contributed to the added cost of the 1945 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, but it is safe to say that this was not a purchase made purely for the sake of volume. Not only is the vintage known to be among the very best of the 20th century, the bottle also features a “V” celebrating the victory of the Allied Forces and the end of World War II.

7. 1811 Chateau d’Yquem — $117,000

There is good reason for the multiple appearances made by vintages hailing from Chateau d’Yquem, and the 1811 white wine is believed to be just one of 10 bottles remaining. This bottle also took the crown of the most expensive white wine ever sold by eclipsing the 1787 vintage from Chateau d’Yquem by $17,000.

6. 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux — $156,450

The inspiration for a delightful nickname — “The Billionaire’s Vinegar” — and a bestselling book bearing the same nickname as its title, the initials etched on this 1787 Chateau Lafite Bordeaux have caused a great deal of speculation concerning the bottle’s original owner, Thomas Jefferson. Malcolm Forbes apparently believed in the wine’s provenance and laid out the $156,450 necessary to secure the bottle at auction more than 30 years ago.

51787 Chateau Margaux — $225,000

This 1787 Chateau Margaux also had its origins in the wine collection of American President Thomas Jefferson, and it also inspired its fair share of controversy over its value and authenticity. Valued by its owner at $500,000, the 1787 Chateau Margaux was lost forever when a waiter at the Four Seasons Hotel broke the bottle and forced the owner to seek compensation — ultimately determined to be $225,000 — through insurance.

4. 1869 Chateau Lafite — $230,000

The oldest vintage available at an auction held in 2010, the 1869 Chateau Lafite outperformed initial value estimates by more than $150,000. In fact, three standard-sized bottles of the 1869 vintage were bought for $230,000 each, making each individual bottle the most expensive standard-sized wine ever sold.

3. 1907 Heidsieck — $275,000

Nearly a century after they were lost during transit due to a torpedo from a German submarine, 2,000 bottles of 1907 Heidsieck Champagne suddenly became available on the market. Due to the fact that the shipment of Champagne had been intended for delivery to the Imperial Court of Czar Nicholas II of Russia, bottles of the 1907 Heidsieck Champagne routinely sold at auction for prices up to $275,000.

2. 1947 Cheval-Blanc — $304,375

This three-liter bottle of 1947 Cheval Blanc merlot owes its six-figure value to the fact that it is just one of two merlots belonging to the Classification of Saint-Emilion to earn “Class A” status. The April to October growing season in 1947 was recognized as simply extraordinary and the 1947 Cheval Blanc merlot that sold for over $300,000 is believed to be the only surviving Imperial-format bottle. It is considered to be the best merlot wine ever made.

1. 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon — $500,000

It is indeed hard to fathom that a 1992 wine from Napa Valley would eclipse the price of a bottle belonging to Thomas Jefferson or one recovered from a shipwreck carrying Champagne for Czar Nicholas II, but this imperial of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon did just that during a charity auction, yielding a winning bid of $500,000.

Certainly a lot of caching, in my humble opinion. What do you think?



Bubbly Wine,Imports,Italy,Wine,Wine of the Week

My Holidaze Wine List

Don Melchor ~ A highly performing wine from Chile

First of all, this is still a young wine. I’ve gotten way past caring about young wines anymore being hard to enjoy. A friend recently told me that she gifted someone a young wine and there was paperwork that went along with the wine. The person on the receiving end became concerned, and felt that the wine MUST be put away for another five years. Those days are gone forever, with today’s gadgets. Just reach for an aerator, for a very quick solution. Then, there’s always decanting wines, for a bit slower process.

My first taste was undecanted… That’s when I learned how tight tannins still are, but the chalky smooth flavor of this wine still trickled through. My mouth was filled with flavors that were of ripe, black current goodness, a touch of licorice, and a final hint of lead pencil. (Yeah, I used to chew pencils, when I was too stupid to know better – first grade, maybe?) In its current age, this Cab is just begging for a blackberry cobbler with Crème Fraîche…. Most delicious

NV Valdo Prosecco, Demoninazione dorigine Controllata Brut

Bubbles, we’ve got bubbles, we’ve got lots and lots of bubbles. This wine was really enjoyable. I hadn’t ever heard of Valdo, but now I have. I’m really getting turned on to wines from around the world and I feel like Sir Francis Drake. It’s a great adventure to be discovering history.

I was very impressed with the wine. Produced by Valdo Spumanti, Valdobbiadene, Italy.  Just to write it is a lesson in Italian. I love language; ergo, I’m all over it. This one’s average is $11.  It’s for everyday, bubbles, and who can’t enjoy bubbles everyday? [Disclaimer:  Holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries, excluded. We’ve all got a favorite or a stash!]

I know you’re going into the holidays, and you’re going to also have some very special wines. But when you’re having those everyday moments, this is one that will put a skip into your step! Have light fare and a few bubbles, and get dancing. This would be a fun large gathering on a budget wine, too. It’s a lot of bubbles for the price.




Feng Shui Architecture ~ A Living Tribute to Architect Designer Barbara Lyons Stewart

In Memoriam ~ Barbara Lyons Stewart

When our client Ron Rubin, of The Rubin Family of Wines, told me that he wanted a story about his winery regarding the fact that it has a Feng Shui design, I thought that that was pretty cool. I had heard about it, had spent a short time reading about it earlier in my life. But, at the time I still wasn’t sure how to even spell “Feng.” Was it as it’s pronounced, f-u-n-g; or, was Ron right when he wrote “F-e-n-g.”

Feng Shui Architect and Designer ~ Barbara Lyons Stewart


Ron suggested that I get together with Barbara and explore her Feng Shui philosophies. When I called, she told me that until the winery begins to come together, it would be next to impossible to grasp most things she wanted me to know. We could wait a while.

She gave a couple of her books to me to read, in the meantime:

  • Feng Shui ~ A Practical Guide for Architects and Designers, by Vincent M. Smith with Barbara Lyons Stewart, AIA
    • To Jo, a “kindred spirit”
  • Flooring Psychology ~ How to Avoid (Literally) Slipping and Tripping Through Life, by Barbara Lyons Stewart, AIA, EDAC
    • In this one, Barbara wrote: Jo, You will understand what I’m trying to do here ~ bridging the gap from ancient wisdom to modern practice.

So, we waited a year for a tour of what was happening. I was consistently seeing it develop, like this pathway to the front door (above), that flows like the Russian River, but I wasn’t guided through every detail’s reasoning. That was to come at a later date.) Barbara was always on my mind, and I checked in from time to time. We began having lunch, developing rapport…. Which was so natural, anyway. Honestly, we just liked catching up. I checked in a year later, and she agreed to meet me at the winery to begin her explanations. And the sessions continued, including one that was photographic of every detail as it neared her suggestions and guidance.

In spring this year, Barbara shared that she had just been diagnosed with cancer. We both knew as healthy as she was, she’d kick this one, and we went on with our lives…  Even her doctor told her she was most likely going to kick it, because she was such a healthy person to begin the protocol.

  • I had my move from Windsor to Geyserville to get done.
  • Barbara’s next project was a Feng Shui redesigning of the new international terminal at SFO… working with a crew, attending to every aspect of Feng Shui design, just as she had for Ron and Pam Rubin.

Barbara walked me through a few sessions of The Rubin Family of Wine’s redesign. And I then queried Cathy Huyghe of Forbes for the story. Barbara, Cathy and I met at John Ash Restaurant, and the following was written about The Rubin family of Wines, as a result.

Texture, Balance, Finish: The Wine Tasting Room Experience, Feng Shui Style ~ Cathy Huyghe

Cathy wrote:

Few tasting rooms, however, have been so carefully designed to generate a sense of balance as the Rubin Family Vineyards and Winery in Green Valley, located in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. The renovation was designed by MBH Architects.

MBH Architects also had a story written about the work they (and Barbara Lyons Stewart) did for The Rubin Family of Wines. Rubin Family Vineyard and Winery by MBH Architects.

Marrying rustic charm with modern aesthetics, MBH Architects recently renovated the 6,000 square foot Rubin Family Vineyard and Winery in Sebastopol, California, leaving only the barrel room untouched. Lifelong wine enthusiast and owner of the Republic of Tea, Ron Rubin, recently decided to fulfill his lifelong dream of owning a vineyard. A UC Davis graduate in viticulture, Rubin searched for the perfect land, ultimately selecting the Rubin Family Vineyard and Winery for it’s Golden Loam soil, which is ideal for growing his Pinot and Chardonnay grapes

On December 16, 2016, Peg Melnik has a story in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Sebastopol tasting room pairs wine and feng shui 

Peg focused on Barbara’s basic Feng Shui principles:

Wine and feng shui have a common denominator: balance. Which may explain why vintner Ron Rubin of Sebastopol’s Rubin Family of Wines recently remodeled his winery using feng shui as the guiding force.

It’s visible in design elements like curved wood-paneled walls, dramatic use of color and strategically placed windows that funnel the energy of sunlight into the building.

All of this was inspired by Barbara Lyons Stewart, and I know there will be more to come on this building and its philosophies. We just won’t have her careful choice of words, as she explained in great details, how to her the world is made up of five basic elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water and how the most harmonious settings incorporate a balanced mix of all five elements. And how color, light, shapes, mirrors, windows, alignment, water features, and all building materials are among the things that can be used to create the balance.

This is my tribute to Barbara Lyon Stewart for her jobs beautifully done.

My life has been really enriched having had Barbara as a friend. Phone conversations were bright and fun, as we began to craft a message for what she had completed for Ron Rubin. Earlier this year, our conversations took a veer to the left, when she got her cancer diagnosis. All the while, we saw her beating it.

In an Email on November 3, Barbara wrote, regarding the MBH Architects story:

What a fabulous article – and photos!!!!!

Now the winery seems doubly impressive!!!!!!

Congratulations to the wonderful team – every member.

warm regards,


Her last words to us, while I was wondering why she hadn’t gotten back to me recently. I said to Jose, “She’s not gotten back to me. That’s not good.” A few days later, I was to come to know why.

Always in the background, giving everyone else credit for what she inspired… We all got the news on December 2, 2016, that Barbara had passed away. Our hearts sank to the depths of Yin Yang… The design of The Rubin Family of Wines goes down in history as one of her final projects. Beyond this there are no words; except to say, the wine industry has so many facets to it, each and everyone is unique… Barbara was spiritually connected to us all, and we’ll all miss her dearly.



PR 101,PR Advice,Wine

You want my help, but your $20 bottle of wine isn’t available as a sample?

No wine for you!

Hi, PR Pro,

My desk is now uncluttered. If you’d like to send information and a sample to me, I’m now open to it. Thanks for your patience.

Hi Jo,

I’m so sorry, but unfortunately we don’t have samples to send at the moment, which I understand makes it tricky for you to write something about them.

Tricky? It’s Unethical…

Hi, PR Pro,

I’m sorry, too.

Since my blog is a journal of my life as a wine publicist, if I haven’t experienced it, I can’t endorse it.

If you’re a PR Pro, you need to educate, not just get stories written

A tip for your client, and this is coming from not only a wine publicist for the last 24 years, but also a blogger for the last 13 years, which will be marked this December 29, 2016… The chatter among us (wine bloggers) is if we can’t taste it, we can’t write about it. You wouldn’t believe how much this is discussed in a group of wine bloggers that I’m part of.

I spend from three to five hours on each blog… telling my and their stories. Those are non-billable hours… You know what you’re worth an hour, right, PR Pro? And your client won’t provide a $20 of wine for a three to five story?

Some wine clients need a reality check, when it comes to their desire for stories. I, too, have wine clients, and they’re really generous in this regard. They’re generous, because they understand…

I know you’re doing what your client has asked of you. If they are reasonable, they’ll understand, too, and create a better plan for publicity, given this inside track. It will advance them faster.  We aren’t writers for magazines; we’re not being paid for anything.

The reality is… how can we endorse what we don’t know?

It’s like saying that a book is great, when we haven’t even read it…. Most especially if we do read it at a later time, and then find out it it has no substance.

My candor is part of who I am, and I’ve been an educator all of my life… From anatomy and physiology, to elementary and middle schools, and now to winery owners. This is why I’m sharing this. It’s my nature to educate – first and foremost. I’m continually dumbfounded each time I hear, like I’m being told by Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, “No sample for you!”

This is not directed at you, PR pro. It’s directed at your wine companies who are hopeful, but won’t make a commitment. They’ll learn. They all do.

If it’s easier to have someone else give them the reality check…

They need to know, sooner rather than later. Just share this link, when you’re ready, or not. It’s your job to also educate your clients, not just try to get their stories told.

If we can’t taste it, why would we morally/ethically want to recommend it? We have reputations, too, to protect.




Rex Pickett and Boo Walker ~ A Journey Created

My review of Vertical, by Rex Pickett, happened in stages. It’s a very different way to write a review, I have to admit. And it also makes a bit of sense to me, as Rex Pickett is a very non-traditional kinda guy.

Once I published my review, Rex Pickett reached out to me. The version that I had read was not his original.

I’ll be reading this version, with the purple cover, and report on this one, only, as soon as it’s read.

I apologize for taking down my review. As a writer, I have deep empathy for our processes.

Thanks for your patience.





For Those Who Are Interested In The Specifics of Becoming a French Wine Scholar

The Bordeaux Wine Campus (a registered wine school based in Bordeaux), provides the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) certification and the WSG (Wine Scholar Guild). This is accomplished through an educational program that might interest you, you… the wine pro..

The French Wine Scholar, created by Wine Scholar Guild, is focused on French wine regions and its grape varieties. It emphasizes characteristics and diversity. In a job market that’s constantly changing and demanding, they believe that this program involves different needs for the personalities in the wine trade: lovers, sommeliers, suppliers, wine educators, and journalists.  They trust, if you fall into the trade category and love this segment of our wine business, you’ll appreciate who they are and what they do.

From my contact: “As the teaching goes in depth we recommend this course to whomever shares a passion for wine, but has also an intermediate or advanced level. Our aim is to promote our campus abroad, with the intention of creating a link between the diverse country wine producers; and, so welcome experts of the wine business in the beautiful Bordeaux region.”


Getting a detailed knowledge of the main wine regions of France. The program presents each French wine region as an integrated whole by explaining the impact of history, the significance of geological events, the importance of topographical markers and the influence of climatic factors on the wine the glass. This core body of knowledge is important whether you sell wine, buy wine or teach about wine.

  • Advanced students of wine (i.e. elders or students of WSET, level 3 and 4 certificates)
  • Or, people from the wine industry (trade, production, etc.) who are able to demonstrate equivalent knowledge
  • Fluent level of English is required
  • 280-pages full-color French Wine Scholar study manual + 80 wines tasted
  • one-year access to the French Wine Scholar online, including 20 multimedia e-learning modules
  • Evaluation: Multiple Choice Examination
  • It’s a five-day course (30 hours)

Interested? A Bit More

Day 1 : Alsace ~ Champagne

  • Viticultural history, Location & climate, Geology & Topography, Grape varieties, Wine styles, Appellations, Viticultural practices & vinification techniques, Industry overview
  • Champagne~ Viticultural history, Location & climate, Soils of Champagne, Grape varieties & sub-regions, The Champagne method
  • Styles of Champagne & label nomenclature

Day 2 : Bourgogne

  • Viticultural history, Grape varieties, Soils of Bourgogne, Sub-regions & appellation system, Burgundian winemaking tradition
    Beaujolais, Jura, Savoie
  • For each region: viticultural history, location & climate, Geology/soils/topography, Grape varieties & appellations, Wine styles
  • Winemaking method

Day 3 : Bordeaux

  • Viticultural history, Location & climate, Soil prescribes the blend, winemaking in Bordeaux, Sub-regions & appellations, Bordeaux
  • Classification system & wine trade
  • Southwest
  • Viticultural history, Location & climate, Grape varieties & wine styles, Sub-regions & appellations

Day 4 : Rhône

  • Viticultural history, Location & climate, Northern Rhône vs Southern Rhône: Geology, Topography & Soils, Grape varieties,
  • Sub-regions & appellations, Style of wines, Viticultural & winemaking practices.
  • Languedoc -Rous sillon, Provence, Corsica
  • For each region: Viticultural history, Location & climate, Geology, Topography & Soils, Grape varieties, Sub-regions & appellations,
  • Style of wines, Viticultural & winemaking practices.

Day 5 : Loire

  • Viticultural history, Location & climate, Lower Loire, Middle Loire & Upper Loire: Soils, Grape varieties, Sub-regions & appellations,
  • Styles of wines, Viticultural & winemaking practices.
  • Examination
  • 100 multiple choice questions in one hour



Alexander Valley,Green Valley,Pinot Noir,Russian River Valley,Sonoma County,Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine of the Week,Winemaker

December in Wine Country ~ Have a Look

[Paperwhite flowers are a typical December bloom. Photo by Jo Diaz.]

The beginning of December – this season – has been beautiful weather wise and visually. I’m now in the Mayacamas Mountains, above the Alexander Valley floor. The views are spectacular… stunning, really. Perhaps this is why my devotion to blogging every day has waned a bit. I’m drawing in inspiration, for sure, from what’s around me. It’s stellar and an opportunity of a lifetime, to have this view on a daily basis.

December wine county: I asked Joe Freeman, of the Rubin Family of Wines, if I could share images he just shared with me, and he said, “Sure.” I, too have been closely watching this past fall season. Joe’s photos are from Green Valley (Russian River Valley) and mine are from ahigh (Alexander Valley). Both are in Sonoma County. Yin yang…

Winemaker Joe Freeman’s Introduction on the Web

Joe Freeman is the winemaker for The Rubin Family of Wines. I’ve been getting to know Joe for the last four years, besides also getting to know his softly elegant Pinot Noirs, along with his other wine varieties. Pinot winemakers are an interesting breed.

I just got to review his images for his December Newsletter. It was an important reminder of how beautiful wine country really is, even in barren December. Since not everyone lives out here, it’s worth sharing them. Intro for his monthly blogging newsletter:

Hi! I’m Joe Freeman, winemaker for The Rubin Family of Wines, in Green Valley of the Russian River Valley, and this is “Joe’s Winemaking Notes.” Each month I will share what’s happening in the vineyards, the winery, and throughout our corner of the winemaking world. The keys to making great wine change with the seasons, and I’ll strive to give you a snapshot of what it’s like being winemaker for an artisan family winery and vineyard in Sonoma County.

He’s a marvelous writer, too. His monthly Newsletters, called Joe’s Winemaking Notes, come to me for a quick review… you know, a comma, that’s about it. He writes so well, I have to remind myself I’m editing. It takes a few sweeps, because I get swept up in it, being a lover of good stories; I then have to go back and catch myself… Buck up, be a pro, you know! I get pulled right back in, because his stories are so informational of “the now.” If you’re curious about every step of the way in the month of a winemaker, Joe’s your guy.

I’m going to share both separate photographic eyes and lenses, beginning with Joe. Enjoy, with a bit about Joe first.

Joe’s chronicled this past year in great detail, from vineyards to cellar activities, bottling and new wines going into the bottle, and activities outside of the winery, as part of his job. Perhaps even a “Wine of the Week” by Peg Melnik (River Road, 2014, Stephanie’s Cuvee, Green Valley of the Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Pinot Noir), or a recipe pairing of Pairings: Pinot noir with shellfish, written by chef and author Michele Anna Jordan will show up, because it’s exciting news to receive. Joe Freeman has a lot on his mind and shares it well. I loved being in the vineyards with him, even if from afar.

Joe Freeman ~ Images of Green Valley of the Russian River Valley

Jo Diaz ~ Images of Alexander Valley from a Geyserville Mayacamas Mountain Ridge

Happy December, everyone!


Amenities, Supplies, Services,Holiday,Wine

Simply Charmed ~ That’s What I Was and What It Is

Being December born… Let’s just call this a “musing,” or “stream of consciousness…”

Asked if I would consider looking at Simply Charmed magnetic wine glass charms, I thought, “Why not. Sounds like fun!” Anything December really strikes my fancy. I wondered, too, “What’s new and clever, and there’s a wine component attached to it? Something we’ll add to the decorations that we put away for another year on January 1?

They arrived. “Wow,” I thought, “for holiday parties with family and friends.” Everyone gathers, has a glass of wine put about somewhere, “Where’d I put it down?” Who hasn’t been there, with the hustle and bustle on the best day of the year?

They’re really adorable and handsomely handcrafted, and genuine Swarovski Crystal Elements that are six mm in diameter.

The charms DO NOT affect the wine, and they don’t fall off your glass, due to the strength.

Very well thought out. Instead of the dingle dangle things around the stem of your wine glass, this one – with a pretty strong magnet, which attaches to the foot of your glass. One caution, when the first one is on, hang onto your hats, Lucy, because if you want to have one with a second one – for photographing, for instance – the second magnet jumps to the first one, right out of your hand holding it. It even held to my thumb, as I tried to remove it from the glass to put number 2 onto the glass next to number 1. I felt like Lucy and her chocolates. These magnets are strong.

Still, I prefer them on the base of the glass. My eyes go there first, when searching for my glass among the places it could have been put down.

Let’s admit it, this is the one holiday in the year that has entire month specifically devoted to it, with so many wonderful feelings and memories. It’s a month long, feel good, share the health and wealth of our spirits kinda holiday. If you entertain a group of people, who are close family and/or friends, these are fun and very eye appealing for a group that likes to let their hair down and just have fun. They’re Simply Charming, these Simply Charmed gadget magnets…

If you want to go for charms that are more traditional, not to worry. These are just as cute. I also love these six. Being a December child, you know where my heart lies this time of year. We can bring these out for New Year’s Eve, pre-midnight and the bubbly!


#millesimaBA,Bordeaux,Cabernet Franc,Cabernet Sauvignon,Contest,France,Merlot,Sauvignon Blanc,Semillon,Wine

Bordeaux ~ Les Hauts de Lagarde 2015 ~ The Red and The White of It

The Red and The White of It

Last evening, with our friend Corinne, we had dinner tasting and enjoying these two very special Bordeaux wines: Les Hauts de Lagarde 2015 – Blanc and Rouge.

We began our food and wine tasting with humus and endives as an appetizer. We were so involved with Corinne having just returned from the Netherlands, I forgot to pour the Blanc. Once we sat down, it became an embarrassing moment, but no one held it against me. Both the blanc and rouge were poured at the same time, so we could go back and forth with all of the flavors. As it turned out, the wines and foods were perfect in this accord. We enjoyed the following:

  • Roasted, paprika and herbs chicken with roasted white potatoes, which had soaked in the juices of the poultry while cooking.
  • An organic garden salad of lettuce, tomatoes, shredded carrots, sliced persimmons (from our orchard), cucumbers, cranberries, celery, and scallions.
  • Gallettes ~ One slice was apple, the other was sour cherries, served with organic vanilla ice cream.

This was a very simple, peasant meal. It was easy to go back and forth, sipping what wine seemed to match what we were eating at the time.

  • Les Hauts de Lagarde 2015 Blanc ~ This white wine was soft and round, from its Semillon grapes, and yet the Sauvignon Blanc brought out its tartness, leaving a delicious grapefruit flavor lingering on my palate. The roasted potatoes made it all blend really well… the tart and the smooth…
    • With the salad, I favored the Blanc, sure that the dried cranberries and fresh persimmons had something to do with that. Still, it also paired well with the Rouge. Just a bit of sweet can make a salad work with a salad for me, since I love fresh, raw vegetables.
  • Les Hauts de Lagarde 2015 Rouge ~ For a Merlot, this wine was as I always wanted a Merlot to taste… Soft, smooth, and just blending in, not dominating. When I read – this morning, not last night – that this wine pairs well with poultry – not mentioned in what pairs well with the Blanc – I was stunned. I had discovered it accidentally, but I’m here to attest that this is spot on for this wine.
    • The rouge, had we tried it with the hummus, would have worked beautifully.

[This is the famous Mirror d’eau – Mirror of Water – in Bordeaux.]

Vin de Bordeaux ~ Les Hauts de Lagarde 2015 ~ The Red And The White of It

Appellation Bordeaux Contrôlée

This is a designation for generic wines of Bordeaux, which are about 50 percent of the wines from the region. These wines usually sell as “value” wines. The label designate simply reads, “Appellation Bordeaux Contrôlée.” They’re very enjoyable for their prices. And, they make up the “house wine” category, while Margaux is saved for special occasions and guests who appreciate the wine’s significance.

So, when Natural Wine Merchants offered the opportunity to taste their Vin de Bordeaux Appellation Bordeaux Contrôlée ~ Les Hauts de Lagarde 2015 wines, it was an offer that I just couldn’t refuse.

Two bottles with the same label arrived. The only differences:

  • Color of labels slightly different – Green for the blanc, with brown and red for the rouge
  • Capsules also different colors – Silver for blanc and copper for rouge
  • Back labels tell the story
    • Blanc: 60% Sauvignon, 40% Semillon
    • Rouge: 65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc
  • Other detail – SAME
    • Location: Saint Laurent du Bois, Entre-Deux-Mers (Between Two Seas) region, Bordeaux France
  • Other details – DIFFERENT
    • Tasting notes: White ~ Yellow pale with iridescent hints. Aromatic, citrus fruits with aromas of white flowers. Lively, rich, with the fine presence of acidity. Serve at 45°F
    • Tasting notes: Red ~ Garnet red; aromas black currant and raspberry sherbet. Medium body, well-balanced with supple tannins. Serve at 60º-62°F
    • And, of course, what foods to enjoy with each wine. Blanc, vegetable platters, oysters, seafood, fish, appetizers, grilled salmon; rouge, red meat, poultry, pasta dishes, and your favorite cheese

[Image from Travel France Online]

Saint Laurent du Bois, Entre-Deux-Mers region

Château de Lagarde ~ Vignobles Raymond

From Entre-Deux-Mers, I knew approximately where the vineyard was located. Cabernet dominating? (Left bank) Merlot dominating? (Right bank) These are the telltale signs for which side of the water to find a vineyard, from whence the grapes originate.

And, these grapes were organically grown (Agriculture Biologique), as well as their being part of a non GMO project, verified. (I avoid GMO at all cost, when I have the option.) This really pleases me about Natural Wine Merchants, located in Grants Pass, Oregon. Oregon, in my humble opinion ~ having traveled to 40 of our 50 states ~ is the epitome of a state that is progressively natural in the US.

Our history: The future is in the bio

From Château de Legarde’s Website: The Raymond Family has always been a family farmer in Saint Laurent du Bois*. The first generation of winegrowers at Château de Lagarde is in 1850 with 15 hectares [37 acres]. Today, the Raymond Vineyards are the largest organic farm with 180 hectares [445 acres].

From Natural Wine Merchant’s Website: In 2000, we tend to believe that it was fate which made Lionel Raymond purchased Château Joumes Fillon (an organic vineyard). Because of Lionel’s strong beliefs in the respect of environment and the terroir he decided to convert the whole vineyard (130 hectares) to organic agriculture.  It was a quite a bet, and most winemakers in the area thought he was pretty crazy. It is twice the work of a conventional vineyard. Located in the Entre-Deux-Mers, not far from Bordeaux, our wines have grown in the villages of Saint-Laurent-du-Bois, Saint-Martial, Saint-Felix de Conclude since medieval times.

*Saint-Laurent-du-Bois, in the southwest of France, is commune. It’s located in the Gironde department of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the largest administrative region in France. [See the map for Nouvelle-Aquitaine.]

Here I am, once more honoring that I was inspired to learn about Bordeaux, to better round out my wine knowledge. It will now have to be a life of learning about this one eponymous, world class wine region. I really don’t care which wine regions anyone learns about; however, without a good dose of Bordeaux, that person is still limping through the process. Please don’t judge me as an elitist in this evaluation. It’s just an observation, 12 months later. As much as I’ve learned, I’ve only approached The Miroir d’eau… Yet to enter the heart and soul of Bordeaux.