Chardonnay,Chile,Merlot,Wine,Wine of the Week,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery

Wines of the Week, from Casillero del Diablo from Chile

A Red and a White, under Blue skies… What more can we ask of summer?

Good wine, you say? Yeah, I’m with you on that one.

RED: 2016 Reserva Casillero del Diablo Merlot

WHITE: 2016 Reserva Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay

Under blue skies…


2016 Reserva Casillero del Diablo Merlot, Chile

A classic, New World-styled Merlot, with lots of magic in this bottle of wine, I was reminded of the days when I lived in Maine. Jose and I would go to our favorite wine shop. He’d ask, “What’s this one like, Audie?” His constant answer was, “Great wine for the money.” As I think back, he must have filled his shop with only “great wines for the money,” because it didn’t matter what we’d choose and ask… regardless of price, variety, regionality… it was always great wine for the money. That was about 30 years ago. I’m betting that we’d find Casillero del Diablo wines on his shelves today.

A delicious Merlot, get ready for your favorite, hearty dishes, because this one will balance out any of the fats in your foods… Beef and/or cheese dishes… Even a hearty grilled cheese sandwich will be made splendid, with the dark berry, cherry flavors of this Merlot. And, I can also see it with a Yankee pot roast that’s been cooking all day, with a few dollops of Merlot placed into the crock pot for seamless flavors. (Cook with a bit of the wine you’ll be enjoying, and it will be smooth consistency.)

In the nineteenth century, when Don Melchor began Concha y Toro, he discovered that his workers were sampling his greatest wines. Spreading the rumor that his cellar was the cellar of the devil (Casillero del Diablo), that put a quick stop to the thievery. The winery likes to think of it as stored in hell, but made in heaven. I like the picture I took, as it depicts what Don Melchor knew… You can’t keep people from what’s devilishly delicious, until it leaves the devil’s cellar.

2016 Reserva Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay, Chile

Red, white, and blue are made even better when Casillero del Diablo is also part of your plans. Straight up: This is a lot of wine for only (about) $11.00 for each wine. When I’m traveling outside of the US, and I see Casillero del Diablo on a shelf, I don’t need to search any further.

This Chardonnay is consistently solid, from one year to the next. Bright fruit, well balanced acids, tasty apple flavors, and a perfect compliment for your favorite dishes calling for a white wine, Casillero del Diablo delivers all that and a lot more. It’s a wine you can trust for getting more than you paid for… or expected, for that matter.

Winemaker Marcelo Papa

Being polar opposites, it’s long been thought that quality and quantity are mutually exclusive of each other. Marcello Papa has found an internal ingredient in his own being, which seamlessly unites the two concepts of qualtiy and quantity into harmony through his endeavors. Given high-end technologies, he’s taken each part of the process, and united them, for the good of making solidly crafted, affordable wines. This thinking has made Concha y Toro’s wines a world leader. Hands on equipment in the right places still keeps the wines in a delicate balance.

Marcello has  been with Concha y Toto since 1998… Coming onto 20 years of being in one place has great advantages, including high end consistency of whatever’s being made. In this case, it’s wine and the balance is perfectly delivered.

What I’ve also learned along the years now of tasting their wines, the wines coming from Concha y Toro are delivered by a team of winemakers who all live well-balanced lives. From his bio:

As with a number of Chile’s top winemakers, Papa earned a degree in agriculture and a post-graduate degree in enology from the highly regarded Catholic University in Santiago. He was subsequently recruited by Kendall–Jackson, where he spent the next five years before joining Concha y Toro in 1998. In 1999, a year after working on his first vintage of Casillero del Diablo wines, Papa was given the additional assignment of working on Concha y Toro’s prestigious Marques de Casa Concha wines, and named chief winemaker of Concha y Toro’s Puente Alto cellar. Under his direction, Marques de Casa Concha wines have earned some of the most vaunted accolades in Chilean winemaking.

I didn’t know this about him, until just now, while looking at his on-line bio. It backs up what I’ve just written above:

In 2005, Papa captured Chile’s highest honor, when the Chilean Wine Guide distinguished him as its “Winemaker of the Year.” It was a remarkable tribute to his diligent work on the Casillero del Diablo range, referencing Papa’s capacity to “create exceptional wines that are widely available in the marketplace, yet achieve extraordinary levels of quality in spite of large production levels.”





How Can Something So Small be Something So Big? ~ Redux Atlas Peak

To get it all into context, as I continue to learn and put it into perspective…

Napa County, Napa Valley, City of Napa, and Atlas Peak… (in descending order of acreage)

There’s a lot of history there, that’s very important. The reason is the setting up of five mountainous AVAs. So, anyone in this AVA need to cash in on established cache. (Vaca Mountains to the east – dropping down into the eastern side of the valley floor, spill is volcanic – so there is a lot of iron oxide, red soils. Versus the Mayacamas Mountains – to the west – with soils that are sandy loam, some clay, formed by tectonic plates coming together, and pushing up the Pacific Ocean’s debris in the activity.

That soil is very different from the western side of Napa (east side Zins have NO pepper spice, for instance).

  1. In the town of Napa, Atlas Peak is a region of Napa Valley AVA – also its OWN appellation.
  2. There is so little about Atlas Peak for researchers on the Internet – Needs some publicity.
  3. The minuscule-ness of Atlas Peak puts anyone there into a very rare category, very honorable farming.

Today, Bob Biale and I are going to talk about the soils of Atlas Peak’s valley floor.

History from wine writer Virginie Boone of Wine Enthusiast Magazine

“Those pioneers—Jacob Schram, the Beringers, Charles Lemme and the Christian Brothers—gave way by the 1950s to a new generation. Such innovators as the McCreas, Al and Boots Brounstein, Dr. Jan Krupp, Piero Antinori, the Smith brothers, Bob Travers, Sir Peter Newton and others believed there should be distinct appellations for five of the Napa Valley’s highest mountains: Howell, Diamond, Spring, Mount Veeder and Atlas Peak.”

Points of interest on the forefathers, and those five mountainous regions play key roles in these sub-AVA of Napa Valley:

  • Atlas Peak
  • Diamond
  • Howell
  • Mount Veeder
  • Spring

Over time, forefathers decided that Napa has many micro climates. At one point in the 80s, five distinct mountainous regions were defined as the best that the valley (with mountains) had to offer. Each one then filed for AVA status, with the TTB. And, you are a member of this community.



Green Valley,History,Pomo,Russian River Valley,Sonoma County,Wine

What Goes Around Comes Back Around ~ A Russian Invasion

Do we really think the Russians haven’t been here before, claiming some of the United States for themselves? If we don’t think so, we need to re-think (or remember) that ASAP.

Who arrived in Sonoma County first to begin growing wine grape and making wines, for instance, is rarely discussed. This is perhaps because it was so fleeting, in the grand scheme of time. Yet, it’s very important to note and not be left trailing into the sunset. If we forget history, and all that jazz… Especially now, during this current time of the Russians (again) having an interest in what resources the United States has to offer.

The Russian River, Russian River Valley, Russian River Road

From the Russian American Company Council, an 1813 report to Emperor Alexander, concerning trade with California and the establishment of Fort Ross…

“This settlement [Ross] has been organized through the initiative of the Company. Its purpose is to establish a [Russian] settlement there or in some other place not occupied by Europeans, and to introduce agriculture there by planting hemp, flax and all manner of garden produce; they also wish to introduce livestock breeding in the outlying areas, both horses and cattle, hoping that the favorable climate, which is almost identical to the rest of California, and the friendly reception on the part of the indigenous people, will assist in its success.” [From: The Russian American Colonies]

[PHOTO CREDIT: By Russian Post, Publishing and Trade Centre “Marka” (ИТЦ «Марка»). The design of the stamp by A. Polotnova. Scanned by Dmitry Ivanov. – From a personal collection, Public Domain.]

It was an invasion of Russian maritime, fur traders that is missing from above; however, this was also just as important for the Russian American Company. Hunters were working east from Kamchatka, along the Aleutian Islands, to the southern coast of Alaska. Some continued to migrate southward, and finally arrived at their southern-most post. They called it Fortress Ross (Крѣпость Россъ). Today it’s called Fort Ross (Russian: Форт-Росс).

The Focus of Time Has Been Off the Russians ~ Refocus

Better known, when we think of California history, are stories handed down of Italians and French immigrants; because they came, they saw, and they stayed, during that idealized Gold Rush time. But, historically speaking, it was the Russians who made that very first mark along the Pacific coastline, leaving an indelible fingerprint in Russian River Valley and viticultural practices… Just as its name suggests… and then returned to Russia, just missing the gold rush, as it turns out. (Big historical regret there, I’m betting.)

Unlike the Christo Crew, who invaded in 1492, raped women, and killed as many natives as they could find, the Russians were more polite. For instance, they bought the land from a native Pomo tribe, and then established their territory in the Fort Ross area… Creating the Fort, as it now stands as a tourist destination.

It’s not the presumed Italians nor the Spanish, but the Russians, who have the distinction of understanding the real “bounty of the county.” Hence, the name Russian River Valley, Russian River Avenue in Monte Rio, and the Russian River, for example… they left their mark.

From FortRossStatePark.org:

Science Under Sail: Russia’s Great Voyages to America [in] 1728-1867 tells the story of early Russian maritime exploration in the North Pacific. [Nearly 300] years ago, Russian naturalists, ethnographers, astronomers, cartographers, geographers and artists first described the west coast of America to the rest of the world. To this day, much of our knowledge about the peoples and places of the North Pacific Ocean is based on those Russian reports, artworks and maps. The exhibit showcases a scale model of Bering’s ship and the brilliant, colorful maps made during that expedition’s 7000-mile trek across Siberia, along with portraits of Native Californians and Alaskans, artifacts, and original watercolors of botanical and animal species.

An eastward Russian expansion took on a new dimension in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As Europeans expanded westward, the Russians expanded eastward.  As English colonists first settled along the Atlantic seaboard, Russian explorers, trappers, and settlers pushed into Siberia, and then reached the Pacific Ocean by 1639. By the mid-seventeenth century self employed, contract entrepreneurs sailed through the Bering Strait, and discovered a sea route from the Arctic to the Pacific. This became of great interest to hunters and fur traders. By the early 1800s, Russian entrepreneurs annually exported an average of 62,000 fur pelts from North America, roughly worth about $133,200, which was a large sum of money at the time.

In 1836, the Russians sent Moscow-trained agronomist Yegor Leontievich Chernykh to the Sonoma Coast, in order to improve the crops being grown for their consumption. Chernykh settled in Green Valley, and established a farm along Purrington Creek. That’s found today between the towns of Occidental and Graton Chernykh, where Chernykh erected barracks and five other structures, growing fruits and vegetables, as well as wheat and other grains. Chernykh also developed a large vineyard, introducing the first wine grapes into Sonoma County. Interestingly, Yegor Chernykh became known as Don Jorge.

The Russians pulled out of California in 1841, because finding furs and growing food crops to deliver back to Alaska had become difficult. Everyone, including Yegor, returned to their homeland, ending the pioneering days of Russia and their viticultural history, as we now know it.

They’ve not forgotten us and our land of resources… What states will they settle in this time around, if that’s our fate?




Next Step on Music Licensing ~ Head’s Up, Wineries

Having been in radio, and knowing that if you’re playing someone’s music in your tasting room, you need to be paying for it. I’m going to share what I just got from Jim Trezise of WineAmerica.org.

Next Step on Music Licensing: A Bill 

Just yesterday a bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress that would help alleviate some of the problems involved with music licensing–benefiting composers, musicians, and venues like wineries that wish to feature music as part of their overall ambiance.

WineAmerica Vice President Tara Good has played a leadership role on this issue for a couple years, and all that effort is now bearing fruit. Recently WineAmerica announced that ASCAP, one of the performing rights organizations (PROs), has created a winery-specific license with more flexibility and lower costs than before. In addition, WineAmerica members can receive a 10% discount when they sign up with ASCAP. [Learn more]

The new bill, titled the “Music Licensing and Ownership Act”, is spearheaded by Wisconsin Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Suzan DelBene (D-WA). The bill would greatly increase transparency in the music licensing world by establishing a free, searchable, digital database of historical and current copyright ownership and licensing information with respect to music.

This is vital because until now there has been no reliable and efficient way to figure out which of the PROs represent which artists and music, so wineries have often had to overspend to protect themselves legally. Because of this, many have actually stopped featuring music–which hurts their consumers, their business, and the artists and composers the PROs are supposedly protecting.

While this bill has just been introduced, and there’s a long way to go, it’s another example of how WineAmerica is always trying to save money (and hassles) for American wineries.

About WineAmerica

The mission of WineAmerica is to encourage the dynamic growth and development of American wineries and winegrowing, through the advancement and advocacy of sound public policy.

WineAmerica was founded in 1978 as the Association of American Vintners, a trade association of wineries with membership based in the eastern U.S. By 1991, the association had expanded and merged with the National Vintners Association forming the American Vintners Association. The association was renamed WineAmerica in 2003 to reflect its national role.

With more than 600 members, WineAmerica serves the interests of wineries in all 50 states, by leveraging its formidable grassroots lobbying strength, to benefit the entire industry.


France,Rhone,Wine,Wine Century Club,Wine of the Week

Wine of the Week ~ 2016 Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Blanc

As we finish our summer in July, August, and early September, here is a spalshingly refreshing, white wine for those lingering pool parties and trips to the beaches…

Right out of the gate, let me say this 2016 Ferraton Père & Fils Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Blanc just knocked me out with its gorgeous flavors. It has excitingly refreshing, lemon-zest and other citrusy flavors.  I enthusiastically recommend this wine, from the southern part of Rhone, for a delicious adventure on your palate…

The blend is 35 percent Roussanne, 30 percent Viognier, 25 percent Grenache Blanc, five percent Clairette*, and five percent Marsanne. It’s a great example of a tasty white Rhône, that’s easy to enjoy and remember.

I could enjoy this one every day, for the rest of my life, the way my Ada* enjoyed a sip of her Sherry every night after dinner. It brought me right back to those summer nights in Stoneham with her.

So ~ Clairette = Wine Century* Wine #170

Clairette blanche is a white wine grape variety, which is most widely grown in the wine regions of Rhône, Provence, and Languedoc in France.

Since this wine is from the Rhône, here are a few facts about the region.

  • The Rhône produces many wines under various Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) designations.
  • The major producer appellation for volume is Côtes du Rhône AOC.
  • Côte-Rôtie, when translated into English is “the roasted slope.” This refers to the long hours of sunlight, which these steep slopes receive.

From their site: History

The land and the people who tend it share the same history.  A history which grows from generation to generation. At the origin, one man, Jean Orëns Ferraton. Vigneron, and son of a vigneron.  A region basked in sun, the Rhône Valley. It was 1946. The story begins.

Michel, his son, inherited the same passion. He decided to give a new dimension to his father’s vineyards. The first Hermitage, Crozes Hermitage and Saint-Joseph Ferraton were brought into the world. A close friend of the Ferratons, Michel Chapoutier brought his know-how. In 1998, the vineyards were converted to organic viticulture, then certified. Before embracing the culture of bio dynamics. An audacious step. For innovative and strong perspectives.

HB Wine Merchants is the Importer for this wine.

*Wine Century Club ~ Anyone can join and begin your journey to taste 100 different wine varieties. I’m headed toward my 200th wine tasted.

*Ada was the woman hired by my great grandfather (William T. Haines) to help my grandmother run her household, in Waterville, Maine. Ada not only raised my dad and his generation of siblings; but, she also went with my Aunt Edith, when Edith had her own family to raise, and ran her household, too. (She got to know five generations of our family.) I was with her two weeks each summer in Stoneham, Massachusetts. She was a very dear grandmother figure for me. Her quiet demeanor was an inspiration for all of us… And, she loved her nip of Sherry. I’d love to sit with her now and share this 2015 Côtes du Rhône Samorëns Blanc.


Wine,Wine 101,Wine Ed,Wine Education

Why is something so simple so hard? “Removing the Cork 101”

Just can’t get enough of this one, as I watch people struggle all the time, including nervous waitservers.

Why is pulling out a cork so darn intimidating?

Because very few of us in our American culture were raised on wine, so we don’t know how darned easy it is.

As we’re on stage when it’s our turn to remove the cork, our palms begin to sweat as we begin to insert the cork screw’s sharp, little point. Moisture begins to gather around our hair line, as we turn the cork screw in a clockwise motion. Then, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen next. Will we get it out, as the cork screw descends further into the bottle? Again, it’s anyone’s guess…

Well, that used to be the case for me. Once I began to work in winery tasting rooms, and that cork had to come out (because people were standing before me eager to taste the wine I was about to pour), I learned how to do it so quickly and smoothly that I surprised even myself.

Here’s how you, too, can look like you’ve opened enough corks to fill that wine barrel table you’ve created that’s full of corks, and has a glass top covering your masterpiece, so everyone can gather round and ogle at what you’ve done.

1. Securely grab your cork screw in one hand and your bottle of wine in the other.

2. Use absolute straight down aiming at that tiny cork (you’re so much bigger than that cork, so you’ve got to win this battle, and you will).

3. In the absolute dead center of the cork, insert the cork screw tip in a straight downward motion. (Don’t angle this procedure, as that’s the REAL trick in all of this… straight down.)

4. As the cork screw enters the cork, use a bit of pressure to make sure that the cork screw and cork are united in harmony.

5. Without any angling of what you’re doing, begin to twist the cork screw while simultaneously pressing downward, until all the “screw” part of it is inserted into the cork.

6. With a smooth, gentle force (you don’t want any splashing onto what you’re wearing), pull the cork straight out of the bottle. It’s all in the wrist pulling in an upward motion, too.

This is guaranteed to make you look like a pro, and have all the sweating never bead up on your forehead, again. (Three) Cheers!

And, welcome to Removing the Cork 201, where many producers are switching to screw caps!


Digital advancements,innovation,Wine,Wine Education,Wine Innovation,Wine Writer

SevenFifty Daily Needs To Be On Your Radar, if it’s not already

[Image above is from the SevenFifty Daily Website.]

On July 17, 2017, SevenFifty Technologies, Inc., the online platform for the beverage alcohol trade, launched SevenFifty Daily, a new online magazine, covering the business and culture of drinks.

SevenFifty Daily is definitely on my radar screen. Editor in Chief Erica Duecy has created a Platform for the Beverage Alcohol Industry. I believe that it’s a great idea for an entire new generation to have so many resources located in one place. And, the ‘voices’ for SevenFifty Daily are formidable.

This is serious wine, digital innovation, People… Wish I had had it while I was selling wine!

From Press Release

SevenFifty Daily’s mission is to connect the U.S. community of drinks professionals, creating a space that fosters conversation and a platform for showcasing the people and ideas moving the industry forward. Unlike other industry publications that focus primarily on an audience of corporate executives, SevenFifty Daily will serve working beverage professionals across a wide range of roles in the industry.

Erica Duecy, who comes to SevenFifty after holding Digital Director roles at Architectural Digest (Condé Nast) and Saveur (Bonnier Corp.), and is author of the cocktail book Storied Sips (Random House), will serve as Editor in chief. SevenFifty Daily will cover all three tiers of the industry, working with talented and trusted journalists including Jon Bonné, Megan Krigbaum, Wayne Curtis, Katherine Cole, Maggie Hoffman, Lew Bryson, and Betsy Andrews. Launch features include:

  • A profile of The Sisterhood Project, a grassroots community-building initiative that offers mentorship and career coaching to women working in bars and restaurants
  • The role of no-dosage wines in the Champagne compendium
  • How hidden tech is being used on the restaurant floor to improve the customer experience
  • Wine consulting in the gig economy, looking at the trend of somms consulting for multiple venues

The Voices section will provide a forum for discussing issues that matter to members of the trade. The debut package, “Do Wine Scores Still Matter?” was curated by award-winning writer and author Jon Bonné, featuring essays from Joshua Greene of Wine & Spirits, Neal Martin of The Wine Advocate, Lorena Ascencios of Astor Wines & Spirits, and Sashi Moorman of Domaine de la Côte and Sandhi Wines, among others.

“The launch of SevenFifty Daily marks a new chapter for the community of more than 100,000 trade professionals that use SevenFifty to do their work,” said Aaron Sherman, Co-Founder and CEO of SevenFifty. “Our goal is to help the three tiers operate effectively by connecting members of the trade with the stories and information that matters to most to them. SevenFifty Daily is where professionals can learn from top industry experts and discuss the many topics in the trade that aren’t talked about elsewhere.”

While SevenFifty works directly with on- and off-premise retailers, distributors, and suppliers, SevenFifty Daily has editorial autonomy—and a mission to clearly and accurately cover the drinks industry. In addition to its daily publishing schedule, SevenFifty Daily offers a weekly newsletter featuring top-performing stories, as well as regular social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About SevenFifty

SevenFifty connects the beverage alcohol trade on one easy-to-use platform that makes browsing distributor portfolios, communicating with your reps, and submitting orders incredibly easy. SevenFifty is used by tens of thousands of restaurant, bar, and retail buyers across the country and operates in 36 states. For more information, please visit www.sevenfifty.com.


Erica Duecy, Editor in Chief, SevenFifty Daily: erica@sevenfifty.com; 646-326-8659

Aaron Sherman, CEO SevenFifty: aaron@sevenfifty.com


Art in Wine,Event,Stags Leap District,Wine,Winery

If Napa is Disneyland of Wine, Then Disney Lives on at Silverado Vineyards

Everyone loves to call Napa the Disneyland of Wine for adults. In many regards, it is.  Now, if you love Disney… on top of that… take it to the next level.

I don’t know how many times I had passed the Silverado Vineyards winery sign… too many to count, that’s for sure… but I never took the time to stop. Each time, my curiosity was getting me closer to discovery.

What finally did it was being invited to the 2017 Stags Leap District Vineyard to Vintner event; and, the remembrance of the 2016 event, when I didn’t have enough time to get there. This year, I was determined, and it closed out our day.

What also did it was looking at the backside of their winery, while still at Taylor Family Vineyards. I spied, with my little eye, magic to the north… The magic of Disney.

I’m going to give you the skinny, first, and then I’m going to let the art speak for itself.

HISTORY ~ From their Website story:

“The beginning of vine planting is like the beginning of mining for precious metals: the winegrower also ‘prospects’.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson,
The Silverado Squatters, 1880

A century later, the Miller family began the journey Stevenson described, establishing Silverado Vineyards in 1981. “It was beautiful land, and it was land that was working,” says Diane [Disney] Miller of their first vineyards, purchased in the 1970s. Diane and Ron sold their grapes to some of Napa’s best vintners, who made award winning wines from them year after year. Encouraged, they struck out on their own with the goal of making the best wines the estate could produce at a fair price. This has remained the guiding philosophy over the years. The winery’s name, Silverado, comes from the abandoned mining town at the top of the Napa Valley, where Stevenson stayed so many years ago. It is an appropriate symbol: three generations of the Miller family are still “prospecting” for wine, staying true to the idea of coaxing something precious from the soils we are privileged to care for.

As Moira McGinty (events manager) and Amanda Haynosch (marketing manager) walked Jose and I through the winery complex, we spent the entire time marveling. Little did we know what a special location the Silverado Vineyards is… You need to find it, if you haven’t yet. It’s a museum of some of Walt Disney’s art work, a family collection of Disney’s fine art. Their exhibits, for instance, includes a gorgeous collection of Bele Epoch posters and Plein Air originals.

LEGACY ~ Diane Disney-Miller

“We grow the fruit and make the wine that Napa Valley is known for, and we are so glad to be here! Von and for generations to come.”

The following is an abbreviated tour through Silverado Vineyards.



Wine of the Week ~ 2016 Trivento Argentina White Orchid Reserve Torrentes with Blueberries?

2016 Trivento Argentina White Orchid Reserve Torrentes

Mendoza, Argentina + blueberries!

Yeah, blueberries… When I tasted this luscious wine, we had just purchased some blueberries from the farmers’ market. They were just sitting on the counter, where I was tasting. After I had professionally tasted the wine, thinking I was finished, with hunger nagging, I reached for some blueberries. I was astonished! Twenty five years into working with wine, comparing and tasting with foods, it never occurred to me to actually simply eat fruit while enjoying wine.


Argentinian Music

As I reflect on Mendoza being a Spanish country, I decided to find some Argentinian music to listen to, while I write… Make our journey more enlightening.  Okay, so here we go… (The image above will take you to Spotify. Just search on Luis Mendoza… so appropriate.)

Think of appetizers… Ever seen blueberries being passed around?

Entrees? Any blueberries there as a regular feature?

Dessert wines stand on their own.

Never, in all of this time have I ever reached for, or been offered, blueberries and wine.

Try it, you’ll like it, she said… if you like blueberries and you like white wines. I ate the entire pint of blueberries, while enjoying what was left in my glass.

Primarily know for its Malbec, Mendoza also grows a wide range of other wine grapes, and Torrentes is its signature white… Remember Joanie Mitchell’s, “I could drink a case of you?” Yeah, that comes to mind. This wine has a floral nose that you just want to dive into. It’s as crisp as ever, and it’s mouthwateringly refreshing. It’s my favorite wine to have with any ethic food, as a perfect complement. The heat, the touch of floral… Simplemente perfecto!

Reflections of Bodega Trivento Argentina

Bodega Trivento is a large winery, located in the Argentinian province of Mendoza. It’s large enough, for instance, to have a team of four winemakers. Each winemaker description below is part of the winemakers’ biographical sketches, from the Trivento website:

Germán Di Césare began to oversee the production of Trivento’s premium wines, in 2009. Those premium wines include Golden Reserve, Amado Sur, and Brisa de Abril. You know when you ask someone, what do you do to relax? Germán is also “an authority on traditional Mendozan culture. He’s a fantastic folklore singer, skilled dancer and a mean cook, specializing in the local cuisine.”

Yeah, now the music makes more sense, right? Taste, see, smell, feel and hear… Bringing in music when enjoying wine makes it so much more complete.

Victoria Prandina was brought onto the team to add to the feminine side of wine’s flavors. She’s responsible for Eolo wines. In her free time, Victoria enjoys a day in the countryside, a ride to the mountains, and the pleasant company of a good book.

Rafael Miranda’s passion for winemaking was passed on from his father Luis, who was a professional winemaker and general vineyard and agricultural enthusiast. Rafael can be found playing with his children in his spare time. He’s a great drinking mate among family, enjoys a traditional Argentinian barbecue with friends, and loves being in the thick of a friendly football match.

Maximiliano Ortiz is responsible for overseeing their premium wines while its in oak barrels. His charm and charisma also make him an obvious choice to lead tastings for clients and special guests at the winery. Maxi is a devoted sports fan, plays football in his free time, and anxiously looks forward to Sundays—a time for supporting his team among friends.

Each winemaker, on this well balanced team, has a life beyond the grapes, the crushing, experimenting, barrel choices, racking and bottling, or being an ambassador… How they balance their lives in play is a reflection of how well they balanced their wines in real time.

Trivento is a wine you can trust!

Torrentes is a wine you can love.

Trivento Torrentes? Muy delicioso!




Summer Wine Book Reading

Each year I enjoy putting a list together of the best wine and food books I read throughout the year, and recommend them for the holidays. Since I have a great collection – already – for 2017, I thought I’d share for summer reading. We’ve still got six weeks to go. So, sit back, glass of wine in hand, and relax with lots of great wine books!

A Vineyard in Napa, by Doug Shafer, Fills in an Important Historical Napa Timeline

Written by Doug Shafer, this one is a library keeper for sure, in my Napa Valley history area. From the 70s until 2012, I really enjoyed reading about how it all began; why and how it’s still moving along really well. But, as Doug will tell you, it’s never been a completely comfortable bed of fluffy roses.

From the Shafer family, Doug segues into the Stag’s Leap District, and then into the Shafer’s extended family. Actually, chapters are quick and to the point, until you arrive at Chapter 23, and Doug introduces the time when he and John needed some help with winemaking. A much more fact-filled chapter introduces Elias Fernandez, in 1984, their long-standing and honored

Cork Dork, by Bianca Bosker, is a joyful story of learning the who, what, when, and where of the quirky inner sanctum of sommeliers. Bianca is a down to earth SOMM, who’s a great teacher for the fun nuances of wine. She also writes about architecture, which complements her in a yin yang way… Science and emotion, all wrapped up into one very funny person. What a great sense of humor I found, throughout the book.

Page 46: Now, you can sip. Swish the wine around your mouth, then purse your lips like you’re about to say “oh no” and – oh no is right – suck in air over the wine so it feels like it’s bubbling over your tongue. “Aerating” the wine, the official term for wine snobs’ slurping, helps release its odor molecules, which combine with taste to form flavor. You’ll look ridiculous and probably lose friends, but you’ll get more from your wine.

Making Your Own Wine at Home, by Lori Stahl. Making your own wine is done by a lot of home winemakers. And, if you’ve ever thought about making your own wine, right in the comfort of your homestead, there’s a great new book on the market. Written by Lori Stahl, and published by Fox Chapel Publishing, Making Your Own Wine at Home is a no nonsense book that’s a practical, how-to beginners’ guide. Lori gives us creative recipes for making grape, fruit, and herb wines. From Fox Chapel’s Website…

It’s easier than you think to make wonderful wine at home. Get started today with this practical guide to making your first bottle of perfect homemade wine. Author Lori Stahl demystifies essential winemaking techniques with friendly, jargon-free instructions and gorgeous color photography. She begins by taking you step by step through making wine from a kit, and then shows you how to go beyond the kit with creative additions. Soon you’ll be making your own flavorful wine from fresh grapes, apples, berries, and even flowers and herbs. This home winemaking companion offers a wide selection of seasonal winemaking recipes, new twists on traditional favorites, and sweet ways to enjoy and indulge in the wines you create.

Red Mountain, by Boo Walker, is a novel that will draw you in, hold your attention, and have you up in the middle of the night because it’s nearly impossible to put down, wanting to know what happens next.

The challenge of a really great book, and this one is one of those, is that, for its readers it’s a reminder of our life cycle… It can begin with great joy. As it evolves, it has its intermediate moments of joy turning into learning curves for growth. And, like a dearly beloved family pet, its life is shorter than ours, so we have to take deep sighs at its “The End.” We eventually have to put it to rest in our libraries, for perhaps a revisit from time to time. I know that’s why I’ve schlepped my library from Maine to California, from Windsor to Geyserville, and the good gods only know where to next. But, schlep I will. Red Mountain is a keeper, and I’ll revisit it from time to time…

W(h)ine ~ 50 Perfect wines to Pair with your child’s ROTTEN behavior, by Jennifer Todryk, is so whiny and perfect in every single wine way. Got a behavior? Has she got a wine for you to fix that. Jennifer Todryk will have you choose a wine (Malbec) and pair it for certain behaviors (Temper Tantrum Wine). I was looking for Petite Sirah (given my history), but didn’t find it, among all of her varieties given the spotlight. For Petite, I was thinking all out warrior, ye-ha!, would have worked really well. Jennifer has covered so many other varietal wines, with so many other perfect tantrum storms, that I can just let Petite Sirah go for now.

If you’re a mom of small children, this book lets you know, you’re not alone. If you’re a grandmother, give the book to your daughters and sons, to let them know they’re not alone. Raising kids is the toughest job you’ll ever have, and if you can’t find the humor, when it’s all said and done, you missed a very important, adventurous boat filled with delights… beyond the tantrums, and some wine recommendations that will give you the giggles, at the end of the (long) day, before you hit the short, sleepless night.

White with Fish, Red with Murder, by Harvey Mazuk, is a murder mystery set in San Francisco and Russian River Valley in 1948. Harley Mazuk’s novel is one where you imagine Art Deco influences, with Humphrey Bogart (playing P.I. Frank Swiver) and Lauren Becall (Cicillia “Cici” O’Callaghan, as a brunette) getting it on in more ways than one. He calls her “doll,” she a vixen who’s sassy as all get out, and the intrigue, suspense, and sensuality draw you in… in this who done it, and why it’s been done to whom novel.

Does it help that it’s set in my neighborhoods? Yes, completely for me, while it will educate others to wine country, California Bay Area style. Even though Harley Mazuk was born in Cleveland and now lives in Maryland; he knows these neighborhoods well, though, while he shares his love for California wines (and the business life-style side of it, shaped into this well-crafted novel).

White with Fish, Red with Murder heralds the beginning of a stimulating new series… Thank the good lord for that, because as you realize you’ve just read the final words, you’re already hankering for more.

Excellent for me, and probably the same for you, too ~ James Gabler

Jim Gabler is a graduate of Washington & Lee University with degrees in economics and law. He served as a finance officer in the U.S. Army. He practiced as a civil trial lawyer for both the defense and plaintiff. He lives in Palm Beach with his wife. The following are his wine books.

Dine with Thomas Jefferson and Fascinating Guests: an account of 25 fact-based dinners at Monticello, the White House, Paris, Philadelphia, and the French wine country. The dinners center on four of Jefferson’s passions: wine, food, conversation, and travel. The guests are a who’s who of famous people of the time. A perfect companion for those who appreciate wine, food, travel, interesting conversation, and the camaraderie of fascinating people. $25, Amazon’s Direct link.

An Evening with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson: Dinner, Wine, and Conversation. Travel back in time to 18th century Paris and spend an evening with two of the most extraordinary men in history who loved wine and food and changed the world for the better. In the comfort of Jefferson’s residence, join Franklin and Jefferson for dinner, and in response to your questions they tell in their own words the most interesting stories of their lives. “A brilliant roman à clef around the lives and travels of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin,” Robert M. Parker, Jr, Amazon’s Direct Link print $18, e-book $9.99.

Passions: The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson: “Brilliant”…”Magnificent”… “Remarkable”… “Exciting”… “Superb”… Winner of the 1995 “Veuve Clicquot Wine Book of the Year,” and a Robert M. Parker, Jr. “Wine Book of the Year” selection. “With the touch of an artist, Jim Gabler brings to life Jefferson’s passion for wine.” The definitive work on Jefferson and wine. $25, Amazon’s Direct Link

How To Be A Wine Expert, A Beginner’s Guide, 3rd edition, $15, amazon.com, makes learning about wine fun and easy with an emphasis on the three keys to wine appreciation: color, bouquet and taste. The essentials of more than 100 of the world’s best wine varieties are covered including the following: