When Wine Education Matters & Who Are Its Preeminent Leaders?

Sonoma State University

Sonoma State University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week, Jose and I attended a very important, educational event. It was about a major financial shot in the arm to the business of wine finance, sales, and marketing. To date, there hasn’t been a quintessential degree program, solely devoted to this important aspect of the wine industry. Sonoma State will now have that title, based on their proposed Wine Spectator Learning Center.

Once it’s completed, the Wine Business Institute’s new center is going to have more than 14,500 square feet of space; this includes for both instruction and student activities. There will be three dedicated classrooms, the Ron Rubin Student Commons, and an industry center. The Commons will have areas for collaboration and student-run businesses; and, the Industry Center will have space for the leadership development of professional and academic faculty and programs.

[Left to Right: Ron Rubin, Marvin Shanken, and Hazel Shanken]

Leading Contributors ~ Preeminent Leaders

In addition to Hazel and Marvin Shanken’s contribution to the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation, generous contributions are also from the following people and organizations, to help support the project:

Groundbreaking Event Details at SSU

Wednesday, June 1, at 10:30 a.m.; Rohnert Park, CA
Wine Spectator Learning Center Groundbreaking & Celebration

The Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation and Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State University hosted this groundbreaking ceremony, for the future of the Wine Spectator Learning Center. The day was hot by mid-morning, when the event began. Sun was bearing down, as most of the early arrivals had all found spots in the shade. I brought a long-sleeved sweater, because I anticipated a seat in the sunshine and wanted protection from UV rays.

[The team from The Rubin Family of Wines, left to right: Ron Rubin, Winemaker Joe Freeman, National Sales Manager Diane DiRoma, Associate Winemaker and Cooper Ed Morris, Operations Manager Lori Knapp.]

[Image of emcee Dr. William (Bill) Silver]

We learned

Dr. William “Bill” Silver was the emcee, leading each oration from the following leaders.

  • Dr. Ruben Arminana, President, Sonoma State University
    • Annually, more than 600 people participate in wine business programs. This includes undergraduate and graduate students. This involves online and part-time students in management program, and more taking seminars on a range of wine business subjects.
  • Dr. William Silver, Dean, School of Business and Economics ~ as himself
    • He sees SSU as being the leader in vision and education. He shared his association with Marvin Shanken. My take on it, not writing word for word, as I was captured by the moment… Marvin Shanken’s values for community, family, and education, along with his commitment to the wine business are admirable and exemplary, as are all of the donors for the renovation of this building.
  • Mr. Marvin Shanken, Chairman, M. Shanken Communications, Inc.
    • FROM the Wine Spectator Website, written by Tim Fish.
    • “It’s a special privilege to be able to work with such a great institution,” Marvin R. Shanken, Wine Spectator editor and publisher, told the crowd. “The wine industry is just now being born, getting started. The future needs and depends on institutions like this one to train and educate people to go into the wine industry.”
  • Hon. Mike Thompson, US Congressman, 5th District of California
    • “This is a huge day for Sonoma State and the entire wine community,” said Rep. Thompson. He disclosed that the wine industry annually contributes $13 billion to Sonoma County’s economy, and $62 billion to the California’s wine industry.
  • Hon. Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor, State of California
    • What stuck me most is Gavin Newsom’s quote from Jerry Garcia:
    • “Don’t be the best in the world at what you do; be the only one in the world who does what you do.”
    • This is what the Wine Spectator Learning Center is going to represent with its dedicated programs.

Each story began with a touch of humor, and then came right back around to the importance of vision and education, which involves wine sales and marketing .

We were reminded that UC Davis, Fresno State, and Santa Rosa Junior College, for examples, are very successful for studies in enology and viticulture, but a really focused four-year degree program devoted to finance of this industry simply doesn’t yet exist. SSU is poised to be the world leader with this new learning center.  For 20 years, under President Dr. Ruben Arminana, Sonoma State University’s wine business program has helped thousands of students and working professionals who’ve all gained knowledge and understanding of the global industry. Now it’s time to bring the world to Sonoma State and broaden the studies into our global economy. The Wine Spectator Learning Center will serve more than 600 students studying about the wine industry

A Period of Re-Awakened Vision

This renovation of their “Common” space is now the emphasis. This advancement from dedicated fundraising for a new “hub” on campus is intended to take it from its more regional focus to one that is inclusively global…

It was a great day in the sun…



Some Feet Not Meant for Shoes ~ Pamela Klein

So, I know that my feet have never been meant for shoes, and it’s a great day when I meet someone else with the same joie de vivre. I first met Pamela Klein on Facebook, through our mutual friend Nancy Weil Brown. Pamela and I instantly clicked as twin sisters from other mothers. In many ways, our lives are very parallel. She’s located in Puerto Rico, where a piece of my heart also resides; she as someone who moved there from Los Angeles, and I as someone who’s been visiting my husband’s birth place since the early 80s.

Once I realized, via Facebook, that she’s living on La Isla de Encanta the bond was solidified. Any other US Anglo citizen, who’s as drawn to this culture as I am, has to be someone with whom I can strongly relate. With a trip planned for Puerto Rico, I let her know we were coming. The rest was a delicious meeting, in all senses of the word delicious, with both Pamela and her beloved husband Robert Giacosie.

Notice that we all had a love of beverages during our meal. Bob and Pamela had spent the day preparing an exotic Greek dish based on an classic recipe.

For the life of me, I couldn’t remember the name, but I knew I could depend on Jose, with a more global palate. He found it, “Moussaka.” The closest I would have ever come, would have been Meska, Mouska, Mousekateer… It was an adventure for me, stranger in a strange land. It was all thrilling…

What we had for liquids with our meal was the following, beginning with the wine and winding down with extraordinary aged rum: began with a 2001 E. Guigal Côte Rôtie Brune et Blonde de Guigal;  followed by a Bodegas Nieto (forgotten the vintage), slid right into a Martinique Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole, and then to a Cruzan Single Barrel Estate Rum.

Bob’s face just says it all, doesn’t it?

We all met for lunch in a local restaurant, and then it continued into the next day with dinner in their home. That segued into an open invite to be with them any time we’re on the island. It truly was like being with a sister whose soul is intrinsically entwined with mine. We’re both very sure that in a past life, we were women of color and linked. Perhaps part of this life’s assignment for us both is to stir the melting pot of humanity… And our coming together during that visit was just coming back to each other for that snapshot in time. It certainly felt like it.

And, that’s what her book is all about… Her discovery of self and being drawn to the Caribbean Islands to work out her identity and purpose. Our parallels are eerily similar, and I’m not going into them here, because it will ruin the secrets revealed from one chapter to the next. Pamela has written about a character whose joys and sorrows have led her character to living in the tropics, to try to understand her life’s greatest purpose.

As a former editor of L.A. Weekly, having worked for one of America’s largest alternative papers, she chose to visit the Caribbean and would write about culture and race for travel magazines. In 2001, Pamela moved to St. Thomas, which gave birth to this novel. Pamela is a defiant Anglo, and so it was easy for her to segue her story in the characters of her travels. The pain and suffering of her characters is quite evident, and as an author, she pulls you in and has you also experiencing occasional tears.

Grab your favorite glass of wine, lock yourself away from the day and all of your own joys and sorrows and go on a tropical journey, while going back and forth between Los Angeles and the tropical islands of the East Coast. I wrote to her, in the middle of reading her book, that it was taking me a bit of time to read it, because so much is written in such a small amount of text. While it’s a complicated story, it’s compelling; And it will leave you wanting more each evening, as you cuddle in for the night, once you’ve kicked off your own shoes.

This is a picture of Pamela Klein’s West Indian family. She’s confident, articulate, thoughtful, wonderful, and writes with intense passion.

Very soon, Pamela will have a newly released book.



Swallow This ~ Second Edition ~ Mark Phillips

I love this guy Mark Phillips… He’s the brains behind WineTasting.org.

His site begins with “Making Wine Fun.” Yes, indeed, he’s got quite the sense of humor. I learned a long, long time ago, make what they have to learn be as much fun (and funny) as possible, and even the most complicated concepts become easy for nearly everybody. And, he also subliminally admits, wine is complicated. Say what you want about it needed to be easy, but even Mark admits to some lotus layers still unfolding. It is what it is… A magical mystery ride.

And when it’s fun and funny… It’s a real relief, for most of us.

I was introduced to his work by Bryan Imelli at Board and Bench Publishing. He asked me to help get the word out on this book, and I said I’d have to read it first, to see I could advocate for it.

Got it, read it, and thought,

Boy, this guy’s got it going on. He’s having a blast as a wine educator, writing books in down time (what’s that?), got a great sense of humor and humanity… Making educational videos on his Video Wine Course on YouTube.  Mark knows who the key players are; and, is both humbled and progressive in his thinking. The message is clear… Everyone has a palate, trust your own above all else, as you are the master or mistress of your own tasting faculties…

Yup, he’s got it going on; and he tells it in such a way that everyone who is starting out learning about wine can appreciate. If you’re in the category of his Progressive Approach, Swallow This is a no-brainer. If you’re a Traditionalist, you’ll also learn a lot about wine, in a more “Wow, hit-me-with-your-best-shot” kinda thinking way.

Has Wine 101 ever been more funny, fun, and accessible for easy learning?

Let’s just say it’s a good time and I learned a few concepts, with over two decades of my own wine teachings, already.

So, here’s the message: Looking for a great read, regardless of who you are, this book is for you. Its speaks to us all.

Well, I can’t help but thinking that. But, only you will know that answer… after you’ve read the book.


Bubbly Wine,Champagne,France,Imports,Sparkling wine,Wine

Wine of the Week ~ Champagne Forget-Brimont

Johannes Vermeer - Girl with a Pearl Earring -...

Johannes Vermeer – Girl with a Pearl Earring – WGA24666 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes it just hits you so right… A hot, late spring day (90ºF), you only want to eat light fare, and it has to be bubbles to make it all so refreshing… That was last night, as I reached for the newly arrived bottle of Champagne Forget-Brimont Brut Premier Cru.

Everything was right with the world.

I recently read that if one associates wine with an event, it’s very easy to recall the wine. This one won’t be forgotten any time soon. This sparkling wine is so smooth and sleek that – yup – enjoyed the bottle well into the night. It was so good that having any left over wasn’t an option.

He was watching a sports game; so there you go guys, who think you need beer for your games… And she was watching the movie Girl With a Pearl Earring. This real painting, by 17th-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, was made of crushed pearls. Imagine! It sold for next to nothing, which I find really remarkable, and so typical and tragic for many of the great masters … The pearl for my evening was having this totally delicious wine… copious tiny bubbles, like tiny little pearls ascending from their slumber. The flavors bust onto my palate and will forever be linked to the Girl With a Pearl Earring painting. both are true classics!

Congratulations to Forget-Brimont…

I let myself be transported by the magic of Forget-Brimont Premier and Grand Cru Champagne, just as your Website suggests.

House Forget-Brimont’s vineyards cover nearly 45 acres. They’re mostly located on the territories of the towns of the Montagne de Reims: Mailly-Champagne and Verzenay for the Grand Crus, and Chigny les Roses, Coulommes-la-Montagne, Ludes, Montbré, Sermiers, Taissy, Villers-Allerand and for the Premier Crus. Pinot Noir reigns supreme in this area!

Michel Forget is the sixth generation of the Forget family to carry on this family’s wine growing tradition. His ancestor, Louis, created the vineyards at the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century. Since the year of 2000, Michel is associated with Frédéric Jorez.

The Quality is in the Bottle

(from their Website)
We are committed to integrated viticulture which respects our environment. Integrated viticulture practices include:

  • No anti-rot treatments or insecticides
  • No use of enzymes
  • No fining
  • No acids or soda used to clean the tanks
  • Minimal bi-sulfates
  • Use of pheromones against grape worms
  • Organic fertilizes and soil conditioners
  • Elimination of anti-botrytis treatments since 2000

This very special bottle of Champagne is a wonderful memory for me. Go make your own great memory and you’ll know how an ordinary evening just easily becomes extraordinary!

I’m also recommending that Champagne Forget-Brimont Brut will be perfect for any special occasions. As my wonderful grandfather Peter Bernier would say, C’est très magnifique…

Suggested retail is $59.99 per bottle. H.B. Wine Merchants is the importer.



Exploring Israel’s Wines

[Image from winesisrael.com.]

Will there ever be a day when I am headed to Israel to taste wines? I do know that they’re working hard to create a great Petite. Beyond that, I’m just plain ignorant, as very little has come to me in this regard. I can tell you that Kerry Damskey is a globe trotting winemaker; first going to India to help with winemaking at Sula Vineyards, and now to Israel.

I’m also a big fan of organic wines, so to get news about Israel’s Kosher Wine Trail, I responded that it would be a great topic to turn people on to. We can all explore the world together on this one. A tour was put together by ExploreIsrael.com and I was contacted.

So, here you are. Get back to me if you go on any tours. I’m betting that it will be one of the most fascinating visits of your lifetime.

ExploreIsrael.com ~ Given to me

The Golan Heights

The highest altitude wine region in Israel with vineyards and the most consistently good wines sourced from grapes from volcanic basalt soil.

The Golan Heights Winery

Now Israel’s third largest winery, the GHW has been rewarded with international recognition as one of the best wineries in the world – not just Israel. No single winery in Israel produces more quality wines to choose from.

Odem Mountain

The Alafasi family plays host at Israel’s most northern & highest altitude winery.

Dalton Winery

Dalton was the first commercial winery in the Galilee coming up on 20 years. They make a wide range of wines with typically good values at each price point in addition to their rare varietals.

Kishor Vineyard

This is possibly the nicest landscaped visitor center in a village with a social agenda to match the beauty of its scenery.
Winemaker David Bar-Ilan oversees both brands and his Tulip Syrah Reserve is one of the best Syrahs in Israel –  at a very competitive price.

Researched on their site, so maybe not Kosher, but still wine

Carmel Winery

Carmel Winery is one of the biggest wineries in Israel. Take a tour and learn about both ancient and modern winemaking methods. Tour includes a visit to the historic wine cellar as well as a short film. At the end of the tour you will sit down to taste some of the incredible wines.

Tishbi Winery

Coastal Plain ~ The Tishbi Winery is a family owned vineyard in Zichron Yaakov. Three generations of the Tishbi family have been working the land here and creating beautiful wines. Aside from their wines, they also have an olive orchard where they make olive oil and a chocolate factory.

Barkan Winery

Coastal Plain ~ With over 5,000 barrels, the Barkan winery is host to the biggest barrel hall in Israel. Barkan makes award winning wines using the most modern winemaking technology out there. They also spent time and effort creating a fabulous Visitor’s Center so if you are interested in learning about wine, this is a great place to include on your trip.

Binyamina Winery

Coastal Plain ~ The Binyamina winery was founded in 1952 and was one of the first wineries to grow grapes independently. In fact, David ben Gurion personally intervened on the winery’s behalf so they could grow their own grapes as opposed to workign through the Carmel Mizrachi cooperative.

Galil Winery North

Upper Galilee ~ The Galil Winery tour includes not just a tour but also an incredible view of the Upper Galilee. You will get to walk through each step of the winemaking process here from the the stainless steel container room, the state of the art press and the oak barrel room.


Education,Wine,Wine Appreciation,Wine Culture,Wine Ed

Tasting 101 Simplified for a Novice ~ Especially if you’re faced with teaching it

Hooray, you want to learn more about wine! I was just asked by someone, who’s writing an article on tips of how to train your palate. He asked if I would be interested in sharing a tip for developing tasting chops. Since taste is primarily developing one’s sniffer first, I had to revert back to my Robert Mondavi days as a wine educator.

Before those Mondavi days, I used to teach anatomy and physiology. In the repetition of three times a day for five years, I got really good at reducing everything down to the lowest common denominator. Now, it’s the only way I can teach.

I wrote:

When I was working at Robert Mondavi Winery, I used to enjoy their Essence of Wine tasting. This can be done by anyone, and if it’s a group, the more the merrier, because a group discussion is also connecting more dots and memories.

  1. Choose the variety that will be tasted.
    1. Example, Chardonnay, since it’s the most sold wine in the world.
    2. That makes this one so easy.
  2. Read tasting notes from others, already written who have firm credentials.
    1. They’ve been tasting so long, they “know” ahead of time what to expect.
    2. With a little experience, so will everyone else.
  3. For Chardonnay, there are few styles
    1. Cool climate (coastal appellations)
      1. Green Apples
      2. Lemons
      3. Pears
      4. Lean (no Malolactic fermentation)
    2. Inland climates
      1. Peach
      2. Pear
      3. Filbert nuts
    3. Barrel fermentation or aging
      1. Vanilla
      2. Butter (gives a softer, rounder mouth feel)
    4. Taking the flavor adjectives above
      1. Cut these foods into small pieces
      2. Put them into a glass (wine glasses are great)
      3. Cover with a piece of paper
      4. Open your bottle of Chardonnay and pour into a wine glass
      5. Walk around a table, taking a sniff of the food
      6. Swirl the glass (to release the aromas)
      7. Sniff the wine and concentrate on finding that aroma
      8. Sip the wine and find the flavor

Works like a charm most of the time.

Malolactic, so everyone understands it, simply explained.

Malolactic fermentation

A + B = C

Acid + Bacteria = Cream.

  • The Acid is Malic, the same one found in Apples and lots of other fruit.
  • The winemaker adds a Bacteria (Yeast)
  • The conversion is from Malic Acid to Lactic Acid as an end product, which is the same acid that’s found in C

This makes wine creamy. It’s done to all red wines. It became popular in California and has created the buttery Chardonnay.

How’s that for Tasting 101?

My job is done here


Books,Italy,Wine,Wine Writer

A New Book From Dick Rosano ~ The Secret of Altamura

Prolific is the word that best describes Dick Rosano, and that’s prolific with five stars. As was written in The Washington Post:

“Original in conception, well-researched and deftly written.” The Washington Post

Dick and I fist met in the early days of my being a wine publicist. He was always happy to help me with my projects. He then told me that he was going to be writing novels, and I thought… Lucky. With his newest book being released, it’s time to bring attention to his writing career, once again.

Our history, with his wine books

  1. REVIEW: Wine Trivia
  2. Read when it first came out, prior to wine blogs: Wine Heritage (I was working with The Foppiano Family at the time. I considered it required reading.)
  3. When his second book came out, Dick wrote to me:  My first novel (and second book), Tuscan Blood, was published in 2012. You may already know that, but the second novel in the series that I’m writing, all set in Italy, has just been published. Hunting Truffles is set in Piedmont during the truffle season, where the truffle hunters are in a panic as they discover that their usual harvest has been stolen literally from under their feet. Inexplicably, the bodies of murdered hunters turn up, but no truffles. A young man from Tuscany, in tow with his aunt and her restaurant crew, pursue the theft and the thieves through the hills of Piedmont and the wine and food of Italy.

I’m now borrowing text from Dick’s site, and letting you know about it. I can’t say this any better, since it’s “Just the facts, maam.”

Newest novel: The Secret of Altamura

It is about secrets that were hidden from the Nazis in 1943, are they are still sought by an art collector in modern days… But evil stalks all those who try to reveal it. I love wine novels as it turns out. (Calgon, take me away…)

Dick’s Novels, and he’s cranking them out

  • Wine Heritage
    • Centuries of Italian immigration to America laid the groundwork for the American wine revolution of the 20th century.
  • Hunting Truffles
    • The slain bodies of truffle hunters show up, but the truffle harvest itself has been stolen.
  • Tuscan Blood
    • A young man mourns the suspicious death of his grandfather while preparing to take the reins of his family’s winery in Tuscany.
  • Wine Trivia
    • A great compilation
  • The Secret of Altamura
    • Secrets hidden from the Nazis in 1943 are still sought by an art collector in modern days. But evil stalks all those who try to reveal it.
    • According to Dick:
      • The Secret of Altamura: Nazi Crimes, Italian Treasure. It is 1943 and the Nazis control large swaths of Italy. Colonel Anselm Bernhardt devotes his attention to stealing Italian art – and violating Italian women – but there is one great treasure that he covets most. In modern times, his grandson is sworn to make amends for Bernhardt’s crimes, but he is bitten by the same temptation and averts his focus on reparation to search for the mysterious and historically vital treasure in southern Italy, a secret that if revealed could alter the course of history. Based on historical events, The Secret of Altamura will take you back to the cloud of terror that hung over wartime Italy and invite you to explore the secrets and treasures that were hidden from the Nazi invaders.
  • Wine Froth
    • A heady collection of wine quips, quotes, tips, and trivia.

If you’re looking for a wine county novel to read, Dick Rosano’s books won’t disappoint you. He’s an excellent author. Also, for your gift giving, when a friend or family member is an avid reader and loves wine, this is for their library that won’t disappear, once the bottle is opened. Some of us love our wine libraries. Anything Dick writes is highly recommended in my world.



Bordeaux ~ Mirror of Water ~ partie neuf

Bordeaux, the pearl of Aquitaine… the fascination continues. Millesima

If I were to travel to Bordeaux, where is one place I would definitely want to visit, based on what I’ve now learned?

The Miroir d’eau (Water Mirror)

[Purchased image: Copyright: tieury / 123RF Stock Photo]

I’ve been buying images to go along with my Bordeaux series, since I’ve not visited Bordeaux (or, I’d have my own pictures). Each time I’ve made a purchase, this location is always on the front line of an image gallery depicting Bordeaux. If it’s a quintessential image, then it must also be a quintessential must-see in real life. In real time, I’m living in California; in a past time, some of my DNA is from France. (Bernier and Ouellette families)

So, what is there beyond wine that I want to visit, when I go to a new wine region? For me, architecture represents past culture and gives more understanding to the people’s history and humanities; so, this is the place where I prefer to begin.

My choice is the Mirror of Water…

Although the Miroir d’Eau is fewer than 10 years old, it’s placed in front of the Place de la Bourse. This palace is nearly three centuries old. (It’s also referred to as the Miroir des Quais [Quay Mirror]).

Intriguing Miroir d’Eau

  • World’s largest reflecting pool
  • Covers 37,100 square feet
  • Built in 2006
  • Located across from the Palace de La Bourse
  • And, located on the quay of the Garonne River, between Quai de la Douane and Quai Louis XVII. (Quai = docks)
  • Made of granite slabs covered by about three quarters of an inch of water
  • In the summer, a system allows it to create fog every 15 minutes, alternating a mirror effect and artificial misting
  • Designed by landscape artist Michel Corajoud

A new face to an old body of a landmark, has breathed new life into a very popular must-see.

So, what about the Place de la Bourse?

I’m fascinated with palaces. My genealogy dates back to palaces, with the Kings of Scot, for instance. What was it like for my great grandfathers, I can’t help but wonder? When I read Macbeth, I would have paid a lot more attention to King David, let’s just say, now that I’ve found that link.

In the eighteenth century, it took 20 years to build this city’s symbol. (That’s certainly enough reason for anyone to visit this monument, isn’t it?)  Like all old towns in Europe, they were surrounded by walls that offered protection from invaders. This square has become a break with medieval Bordeaux, which was surrounded by walls for centuries. Creating this palace opened up their city for new growth.

Who built the Palace de la Bourse?

The Palace was built in the eighteenth century, during the reign of King Louis XV. Louis XV was king of France from 1715 to 1774. Louis XV succeeded his great-grandfather Louis XIV, at the age of five. He’s best known for contributing to the decline of royal authority, which led to the French Revolution in 1789. This palace was built from 1730 to 1775. Its architect was Ange-Jacques Gabriel.

In the original plan, there was a statue of King Louis XV. The statue was destroyed during the French Revolution. That was followed by a Corinthian column-fountain, which was built on the square. Finally, in 1869, the “Three Graces” statute/fountain was installed in the same location.

Design of the surrounding buildings was finished by Ange-Jacques Gabriel in 1739. The project was finished two weeks after the architect’s death. It was Gabriel’s son who finished the construction of the buildings.

[Purchased image: Copyright: eonaya / 123RF Stock Photo]

Bordeaux Tourism and Convention

Place de la Bourse was originally separated from the river by railings, but these disappeared during the French Revolution. The equestrian statue of the king was briefly replaced by one of Napoleon, followed by the Fountain of the Three Graces in 1869… The latter has been much appreciated ever since and is photographed by tourists from all over the world.


Inside the Palace – I had to see it for my own eyes

What inspired this particular blog, was being on Facebook this past week and seeing this video (below) in my daily feed. I’ve danced all of my life. I’m drawn to dance like a moth to a flame. If there’s music, I’m all in. This tango just hit my heart, and I knew it was time to visit Bordeaux for just a few minutes and see the splendor, which happens to be located at the Place de la Bourse.


Published on May 10, 2016

Mauro Caiazza and Carolina Giannini
Mirror of water
7 May 2016, Bordeaux, France



Wine of the Week ~ 2015 Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay from Chile

2015 Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay from Chile

Consistently tasty wine from Casillero del Diablo is something you can bank on as a great value, I don’t care what grape variety it is. When it retails for $8 to $12 in the US (average, not the same pricing in PA or Puerto Rico, for instance), it’s an easy crowd pleaser.

Casillero del Diablo from Concho y Torro wines are what the wine business refers to as “line-priced.” This means that regardless of the variety you’re buying, it’s the same price across the board… From Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon, every bottle sells for $12.00. In our world, these wines are very affordable, and can easily become your own “house” wine.

Upcoming parties?

  • Graduations
  • Bridal Showers
  • Weddings
  • Anniversary parties
  • Gather around the pool or a lake
  • Barbecuing and having appetizers before hand…

It’s not a complex wine, it’s just straight forward crisp, leaning toward a medium bodied wine. If it were made in America, you’d be paying at least a third more (that’s how imports work… a long story).

Don’t expect tannins, and do expect new world flavors. In the new world, climate and terroir differs from Old World wine’s complexities.

This wine reminded me of the day I finished so much writing that I just wanted to enjoy the rest of it with an easy drinking Chard that would melt away the world. I just wanted to claim a bit of Nirvana for a few hours. It delivered. Just a little Diablo, some freshly popped popcorn with butter (both organic foods), and another episode of Shameless.

All a bit devilish, if you ask me, and it really worked.



Colorado,What we love the winery,Wine,Wine Business

When the party arrives in a box ~ Mon Dieu, Decadent Saint, Rocky Mountain High

C’est dans l’ sac ~ Decadent Saint ~ What we love, the Winery

  • Two 12 ounce cans of “Refresher” Seltzer Water
  • 1 bottle of NV Ruffin Prosecco Sparkling Wine, Product of Italy
  • Decadent Saint
    • Batch 9, Bottle 902: Decadent Saint White Sangria
      • White Wine, Real Fruit, Fresh Spice
      • A Gold Medal Concetrate
      • Rocky Mountain Crafted
      • 20.5% Alc/vol
    • Batch 9, Bottle 902: Decadent Saint Fire or Ice Sangria
      • Red Wine, Real Fruit, Fresh Spice
      • Drink Hot or Cold
      • Rocky Mountain Crafted
      • 20.5% Alc/vol
    • Batch 9, Bottle 902: Decadent Saint Rocky Mountain Rescue
      • Red Wine, Dark Chocolate
      • Decaf Coffee, Berries and Spice
      • Rocky Mountain Crafted
      • 20.5% Alc/vol

What to do, what to do, what to do… Where do I start?

Yogi’s deja vu, all over again…

When I was reading the recipe on the bottle to Jose, it reminded him of prohibition days for home winemaking:

“After dissolving the brick [of grapes] in a gallon of water, do not place the liquid in a jug away in the cupboard for twenty days, because then it would turn into wine.”

Decadent Saint’s Recipe:

What makes decadent saint a bottled revolution? First ever 20.5% ABV wine-based concentrates. Just – add – water & each bottle makes 3-5 bottles of pure decadence.

In the process of reading the recipe, that memory for winemaking was triggered for the 1920s alcohol Prohibition, with today’s Prohibition being about hemp in most states. Since this beverage is crafted in Colorado, not from an illegal state, nor is it made from hemp – legal or not, the entire irony just made us laugh…

First to the PR person ~ Doug Brown of Bruno Red Star

Great job. You delivered what we used to deliver as a matter of fact; then the InterWeb turned everything upside down and backwards, and today this kind of box is:

  1. An anomaly
  2. A curiosity
  3. So rare an occasion that you got my immediate attention
  4. Deserves to be told, because you guys HAVE GUTS, and I know guts

A full press kit arrived. A boss gave this crew all of the time it needed to get the word out. This used to be my job – for what felt like a very long time, but really just a decade ago. You gave me all that I could use and more. And, these Decadent Saint beverages are all from Colorado… a high state in all of the legal senses now; geosiologically and metaphysically.

Which recipe to follow, which bottle to open.

I think that this is going to take a while, to do the entire arrival perfect justice. Since Jose and I were visiting with our friend Corinne Reichel, and I knew that dinner was going to involve beef, I chose the Batch 9, Bottle 902: Decadent Saint Fire or Ice Sangria, and followed the recipe on the bottle for the Decadent RED MIMOSA.

  • The bottles of Decadent Saint concentrates makes up to 3 to 5 bottles of beverages.
    • Just add water, bubbly waters, or sparkling wine
    • Our Decadent RED MIMOSA, I added 3 parts of the NV Ruffin Prosecco Sparkling Wine, and one part bubbly water for the three of us.
    • Stays fresh for months once opened.

Get ready for the alcohol, which is why it’s really important to make the mixes: 20.5% alcohol. The first sip was getting used to something new. The rest of my glass? Great sipping prior to dinner, finished mine, and thought, “How fun!” The flavors and spices are reminiscent of the last quarter of the years and those parties, but I won’t wait until they arrive again this year, before I get myself another glass to enjoy from this bottle.

Thinking ahead to the Batch 9, Bottle 902: Decadent Saint White Sangria… The summer parties are coming up and I say, “Bring back the punch bowls, everyone! We’ve got a winner here!” What a fun ride for college parties, graduations, wedding showers, beach parties, and the fourth of July!


Decadent Saint, the nation’s only producer of  wine-based craft concentrates today announced a coveted Double Gold medal win at the highly acclaimed Finger Lakes International Wine Competition (FLIWC).

The Double Gold was awarded to Decadent Saint’s White Sangria. A Double Gold at Finger Lakes equals a score of 99-100 points and means that every single judge who assessed the wine issued a Gold Medal score.

This news marks another milestone for the Boulder-based craft winery. All three Decadent Saint products have now won Gold in international competitions.

The flagship product, Decadent Saint Rocky Mountain Rescue makes a supreme “Black” or “White Russian,”  an alcoholic “Throwback Spiced Chocolate Soda,” as well as a hot mulled wine.

At 20.5% alc/vol, Decadent Saints are concentrates, made to be diluted with water, seltzer or champagne. One 750ML bottle makes 3-5 bottles, in terms of servings.

These beverages are leading the way for other companies to step outside of the box in a really unique way.