Jo's World,PR 101,PR Advice,Wine Blogger,Wine Samples,Wine tasting,Winery,Wines

You have chosen to do what you do. I hope it is not just for free product.

Yesterday’s blog post conjured up some great questions of this wine blogger.  In the answers, I’m speaking for many of my wine blogging colleagues, too, but mostly from my own perspective.

They’re questions many people wonder about, I’m sure, including trade people. So, here are some insights into my honesty.

Great questions, Debbie. One by one:

1) Will you be able to give unbiased reviews of free wine samples?

My day job is a wine publicist. I avoid tasting notes on my own brands, because I’ve already written them for the clients tech notes. I do write about newsworthy activities, just as I do with other wine brand activities. Example: Ron Rubin Winery is giving away 450 Automated External Defibrillators to every winery in Sonoma County. Each one costs $1,700 to purchase. The math on that is very formidable and newsworthy. The only “catch,” if you can call it that, is that the winery must have an American Red Cross training. The price for that is greatly reduced. Imagine two people being trained for $120, and they get an AED free of charge. That’s big news, and I don’t mind sharing for the benefit of all.

2) I can think of other publications that have crossed the line with companies that have bigger budgets and can pay for advertising.

It’s a really great question. I refuse every attempt to advertise with companies that write the story and provide a link to products that I don’t know, haven’t tried, or don’t want to encourage this kind of advertising. I DON’T get paid to write what I write on my wine blog. I spend about five hours on most blog posts. Five hours to hire a publicist; imagine that cost, now imagine a $20 sample. Who’s winning here? Me, or the brand who sent the sample?

3) There are many smaller importers of smaller wineries that don’t make enough to provide everyone with free samples. Should they be penalized, ignored?

I reiterate, because I’m also constantly having to find ways to get in front of writers with my clients, if I haven’t tasted it, I can’t endorse what I don’t know. (I have a wine reputation of 25 years behind me.) This is simply a fact of brand building… that reviews help to build brands. Invite a writer to visit the winery, build the bonds that way. Brands have to invest in some marketing, because we can no longer just put our wares by the side of the road for sale, and think we’re going to become famous. It’s not penalizing, it’s brand building. In my world, it’s always been: I give and if I get something in return, I’ve achieved something for someone else. If I don’t get something in return, I had no expectations, so I’ve still won, because I gave and move on. (My grandmother told me that I wear my heart on my sleeve, when I was a child. She was right. I am who I am.) I just keep my nose to the grindstone. Every little recognition is to be celebrated, but I have to work for it.

4) Should the wine-drinking world never hear about them?

I do understand your frustration and urgency. It’s very hard when there’s no budget. The brand has be able to take on some marketing, even if it’s only to target one wine writer and work it into a solid relationship. The wine drinking world will hear about them, with maybe just social engagement, for starters. That’s the job of a publicist and/or marketing company. This is what my company offers. And, Just know WHAT TO tell about the clients to wine writers. Gold medals and scores don’t cut it. I learned this the hard way, too. Each writer has his or her own palate. They have to taste it to advocate for it.

5) You have chosen to do what you do. I hope it is not just for free product.

I think by this point you know it’s not for free products, but you still may not know WHY. Why I do this is because receiving samples of wines coming from all over the world is an education for me. It’s an opportunity to sample wines from around the world. I learn geography, history, terroirs (unlike my Sonoma and Napa counties, where I live and learn in the process). I learn about different varieties, too… I’m a member of the Wine Century Club, where we document each variety of wine tasted… So far I’m at 175 different varieties. I do it to learn… and I love it.


Importer,PR 101,PR Advice,Wine,Wine Education,Wine Etiquette,Wine Manners

Dear Wine Brands and Importers, Let Me Give You a Piece of Solid PR 101 Advice

Dear Wine Brands and Importers,

We need to get something into balance, here…

This is a bit redundant, but I’m going to repeat it again, anyway, because it’s an issue that’s not going away. Regardless of how much I (and others) write about it. Still, this is a fresh take on an old issue.

First of all, you’re spending a lot of money on fancy New York PR firms. Good for you (not). It’s not the magic pill! Someone is passing along all of your words, and it’s just going to fall on deaf ears.

Why? Because…

  • Who in their right mind is going to endorse something that she or he knows nothing about?
    • Would you buy a car without driving it first?
    • Would you marry a man or woman that you’ve never met?
    • Would you eat a raw oyster, without seeing first if it has a live worm in it? (Okay, forget this last one, you probably do do this one.)
  • When I write a blog post, it takes me between four and five hours to recommend a wine. Here’s an example of what five hours looks like.
    • I’m also a wine publicist.
      • So, compare my hours above with what that’s worth, along side what you’re paying your publicity firm.
      • Now you know how much “free” you get from a wine blogger, yet you won’t spring for a bottle of wine?
    • Just a little reality free PR 101 advice here.
      • Somebody has to speak up for wine bloggers, who don’t dare tell you.
      • But they have the power to just delete your messages, and they DO.
      • (Wine bloggers forums, where their voices are protected.)

I think the point is very clear here. Without a sample, there’s no real blog post about your brands’ wines, if wine bloggers haven’t tasted your wines, first.

Need a bit more? Click on these links. Lots more detail for you.

Today is 12:22 p.m., and it’s three and counting… Sigh…

I write all of this with the deepest respect, because I’m not only a wine blogger, but I’m also a wine publicist. I know how hard it is to get to the top of the heap, and I’m offering sound advice. Figure out how many samples you can afford, and query the right people.





Napa,Petite Sirah,PS I Love You,Wine,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery

Petite Sirah – The State of the State, with Matt Moye of Vincent Arroyo

Here’s some Petite Sriah insight from Mathew (Matt) Moye of Vincent Arroyo:

With Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon commanding an AVERAGE of $7,500 per ton, how can I put out a $40.00/per bottle Cabernet? How many people are buying $70.00+ Cabs?

How did we get this expensive so fast? Is this sustainable? We’ve jumped almost $2,000 per ton in just five years for the variety.

Here, at Arroyo, we grow 10 different varieties on our estate; how many growers in the Napa Valley can say that? It used to be common to grow several varieties, but now its either Cab, Cab, or Cab. Don’t get me wrong, I love Cabernet; but, I don’t think I could drink it every night. It would get boring. Not every steak commands a Cabernet. 

A Petite Sirah is awesome with a nice filet. A Tempranillo goes fantastic with a Santa Maria Tri-Tip.

Life is just too short to drink just one wine.

Lots to think about here.

First of all, Petite Sirah is a niche wine, a cult wine, with ardent followers. In 1999, Robert Biale Vineyards and a Napa Valley grower collaborated with Biale to replace a one acre block of Cabernet Sauvignon in Rutherford with heritage clone Petite Sirah. Today the Petite Sirah vineyard has been increased to three acres.

Did you know, for instance, what Robert Parker stated in one of his Wine Advocate magazines, many moons ago about Petite? It didn’t go unnoticed by me at the time. He wrote that the first wine he tasted was a Petite Sirah and he fell in love with it. Why didn’t that get lots of attention? Probably because at that time, there were fewer than 100 growers and producers combined, with only about 3,000 acres being grown of Petite. So, to find it was more like a scavenger hunt than an easy trip to the grocery store.

Today, there are nearly 1,100 growers and producers, compared to 2002 (when there were only 62 growers and producers). Acres have grown, producers are producing it, and if you STILL don’t see it on wine lists and grocery shelves:

  • Nielsen doesn’t count all of the cases of PS sold through wineries, selling directly to the public. Right now, they’re reporting that it’s only 300,000 cases being sold a year.
  • Nearly 1,000 wine brands of the 1,100 above sell directly to consumers.
  • Those 1,000 have anywhere from 100 cases to 500 cases that they hold back.
    • So there’s a lot more than 300,000 cases made of Petite.
    • Imagine an average of just 250 cases/each winery x 1,000 wine companies = another 250,000 cases being sold.
    • Huge case numbers are not seeing wholesalers’ warehouses.
    • Awareness has grown and passion goes hand in hand with that awareness.

You might ask yourself, “why is it not leaving the winery?”

  • It’s a winemaker’s wine. They love making and enjoying it.
  • The winery love sells every bit of it, including selling out early, we then have to wait for the next vintage to be ready.
  • If they send it out for review, and it gets into the hands of a wine reviewer who has openly stated that he hates it (and some have), they risk getting a bad score.
  • It’s a lot harder to sell to people who live by the scores, if the above happens, so the wineries just don’t risk sending it out.


I also wonder how many Master SOMMs can even explain Petite Sirah to you, because American Heritage Varieties isn’t a course being taught in their studies. I see errors all of the time about Petite Sirah, including how it’s spelled, for instance.

  • Petite Sirah is a synonym for Durif. (false)
  • It’s illegal in the US to put Petite Sirah on a label, according to a TTB ruling. (false)
  • Petite Syrah is a variety grown in France, and it’s a Syrah, not a Petite Sirah. (false)
    • Syrah (father) and Peloursin (mother) cross bred by Francois Durif = Petite Sirah.
    • It’s no longer a Syrah grape, it’s DNA was altered.
    • It would be like saying you’re your mother, or you’re your father.
      • Ixnay on the amenay “Petite Syrah.”

I listen most days in the week to Petite Sirah vintners, and today Matt Moye has the biggest concern of all. What if Napa becomes so Cabcentric that every single vineyard of Petite Sirah is squeezed out? This is what keeps him (and me) up at night, because we simply love the stuff. No Petite Sirah lover should miss going to the following Napa Petite Sirah wineries. These are the passionate producers who have been supporting the Petite Sirah cause.

Make sure you call ahead. Some are by appointment only… It’s a cult kinda thing, right?

And, my next story on Petite will include another appellation that’s keeping the Petite torch burning. I’ll do this until I’ve covered every single area and winery.



Cabernet Sauvignon,Event,Food & Wine,Food and Wine,Napa,News,St. Helena,Wine,Wine & Food

A RARE Opportunity to Taste Artisan Napa Valley Cabs on February 24

[Photo from winery sites. First photo: Herb Lamb Vineyards]

Over the years, as I look back, I’ve come to realize that my calling has always been to champion the underdogs. And I write “underdogs” with the utmost respect. I see talent and I know potential. I came to first realize my gift when I couldn’t sell my own art work, which was admired by everyone. I just could never say, in a sales possibility, “Didn’t I do a really beautiful job?” But, when it comes to others, I have no shame in saying, “This is something really special, and you should seriously pay attention.”

[Photo: III Rows]

This is one of those moments… Especially for you guys who are a bit tired of trying to get to the front of a tasting bar. When a group of small wine companies get together, they put their hearts and souls into the process, you have the opportunity to taste RARE Artisan Napa Valley Cabs.

[Photo: Boeschen Vineyards]

Taste flagship Cabernet Sauvignons from five small, family owned wineries in upper Napa Valley. On February 24, at Tre Posti restaurant in St. Helena, you’ll be able to taste their wines, with an array of food and local artisan cheese. Because none of them have a tasting room open to the public, they’re getting together to showcase their wines to the public, invited press, and trade people, to go sample their wines, all in one place!

From Jennifer Lamb, of Herb Lamb Vineyards

Save the Date

Flagship Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting
Saturday, February 24, 2018
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Tre Posti Restaurant in St. Helena

The following wineries will be featuring their wines:


[Photo: Clark-Claudon Vineyards]

If you join these small production, artisan Napa Valley family wineries to try their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, library wines, and other special releases, I’m betting that it will be an event that you’ll long remember. It’s a chance to escape the crowds and speak one-on-one with family members… Those great people with passion and purpose. They’re not marketing in tasting rooms, so when they come out to play, they’re also creating really special moments with you in mind. There will be light hors d’oeuvres, local artisan cheeses, and dozens of wines to sample at this inaugural event.

Tickets are $50.00 each. And… if you book on line and use the coupon code “Flagship,” you’ll receive 50 percent off that price. This is a discount only available on their website, before the event: www.herblambvineyards.com

You can also call for more details at 707-967-9752.

The vintners are all looking forward to seeing you there!

Education,Event,Petite Sirah,PS I Love You,Vintner,Wine,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine tasting,Winery,Wne and Food

When Carl Doumani Calls ~ A Petite Master Has Answers

How appropriate that I get to write about PS I Love You and Petite Sirah on Valentine’s day.

Years ago, when I was loving the architecture of Carl Doumani’s Quixote Winery, in a meeting we had set up for an interview, we had finished chatting and he gifted his time-worn Hundertwasser book to me. I was aghast, to say the least. A treasure of this sort and to have it change hands so quickly? I’ve treasured the book ever since. When he gave it to me, I wrote, When Art Becomes Architecture ~ Friedensreich Hundertwasser & Quixote Winery.

Carl Doumani is a man who has surrounded himself with art, from his external landscape, to his winery, to the walls within his wine company, to his office that’s tastefully spilling over. His love of art is easily evident… No words have to be spoken, as art always speaks for itself. I guess that’s why when I wanted to know about Quixote Winery’s architecture, Carl just gave me his personal copy of Hundertwasser. I wasn’t comfortable taking it as a gift, because he’s obviously loved this book for a long time; but he insisted, and so it sits here before me as my treasure.

It’s still right here in front of me, as I write this story.

[Wine glasses photo courtesy of Kelsey Knight on Unsplash]

While Quixote is no longer Carl’s, just as his Stags’ Leap Winery passed into new hands, the one thing that he’ll never be able to walk away from is his name. If you really know your Petite Sirahs, you already know that Carl Doumani is one of the most celebrated Petite Sirah masters on the face of the earth.

In fact, when I began PS I Love You, Gerald D. Boyd (a retired wine writer with a very famous pen) told me, “if you can’t get Stag’s Leap Winery as a member, PS I Love You will never be anything.” So, I went after Stags’ Leaps winemaker Robert Brittan, not even knowing Carl Doumani at the time. Poor Robert… When he wanted to meet for “lunch,” I said, “Robert, I don’t need lunch, I need Stags’ Leap as a member.” Robert acquiesced, and Stags’ Leap has been a great member for many years now. I was a bit of a pest with Robert, I’ll admit. He’s forgiven me.

Today, it’s important to note that Carl Doumani is now in his third winery incarnation, called ¿Como No?

Carl has been a fixture in the Napa Valley since he founded Stags’ Leap Winery almost 50 years ago. When he sold it to Beringer Wine Estates in 1997, he kept land next door and built a small vineyard and winery called “Quixote.” In 2014 he sold once again, but kept one last parcel for his family — the land directly below the Stags’ Leap Palisades — to make a final tribute to his lifelong muse, Petite Syrah. Thus ¿Como No? was born. And at 80, why not? 

So, the phone rang the other day. I picked it up while it was ringing, with the name “Carl Doumani” showing. “Really,” I thought, with raised eyebrows. I answered, like I always do. “Hello, this is Jo Diaz.” I heard, “JO!” in his amiable, rapscallion voice. I answered “CARL!” trying to mimic what I had just heard. We both laughed effusively, and then got down to Petite business.

We talked about the upcoming Petite Masters event on March 18, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., at the Culinary Institute of America’s Copia facility in Napa. This is one event that I haven’t organized. PS I Love You champions Dave Pramuk (Robert Biale Vineyards) and Stephanie Douglas (Aratas Wines) have been quietly working with the CIA behind the scenes to bring consumers an outstanding Petite event. We once had a “Masters of Petite Sirah” night at Markham. This new one is not to be confused with the one we had, because we won’t be purposefully tasting aged Petite Sirahs, per se. This one is going to be for current vintages. Here are the details.



“Petite Masters” –  An Exploration of Petite Sirah

Sunday, March 18, 2018

1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia, 500 First St., Napa, CA

Once I gave Carl our current story, we talked about what it’s going to take to get people to better understand Petite. I told him that Petite is beginning to be talked about as an affordable age-worthy wine. As Napa Cabs escalate in price, people are finding their way to another very age-worth red wine, and it’s turning out to be Petite.

[This image is from Carl’s Doumani’s Como No Website, and it’s here for a reason… Keep on reading.]

Then, we talked about food… food and wine, most especially, and that there would be appetizers passed. He had his ideas for what would work well, and before I knew it he offered to donate many legs of lamb (four figures worth), but it HAD to be grilled, not cooked in an oven and baked. “It has to be rustic and it’ll be scrumptious. People need to know how delicious Petite Sirah is, when it’s paired with grilled meats. And, lamb is the best. Get a leg of lamb, and these people are going to love it! I can write a check to you right now for it!” I felt like I was on a run away horse, because it was so exciting, I wasn’t holding any reins, and I had to get back to the stable ASAP. It was quite a large donation, so I told him to hang onto the check and I’d pass it through the CIA, first, as they already have their menu. (Protocol)

[PHOTO margouillat]

The response from Mariam Ahmed, at the CIA:

We can certainly accommodate this request. We will incorporate it into our menu for that day, and will have a culinary station in addition to passing the food.  We have our beautiful Hestan grill that we can use.

Done… At this point, ticket sales for the Panel are SOLD OUT.

Ticket sales for the walk-around tasting have been reduced to $30.00 per each.

To all of you Petite Sriah lovers, this one’s for you!



Art in Wine,Italy,Prosecco,Rosé,Sparkling,Wine,Wine of the Week

Valentine Value Vinos from Around the Globe ~ Wines of the Week ~ Bervini 1955 Sparkling wines


  1. THE HEART OF THE DEAL ~ THE WINERY: info is coming from the company’s own statement
    1. I can’t make up their history
    2. Nor am I to try
    1. From: WINE TREES USA


Bervini 1955 2016 Prosecco DOC Millesimato Extra Dry

THE HEART OF THE DEAL: Bervini 1955, founded by Antonio Bergamo on May 5, 1955, is a multi-generational family-owned winery, based in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy, and is managed by second and third generations, Giuseppe and Paolo Bergamo, respectively. Bervini 1955 crafts vintage-dated Prosecco D.O.C. and Spumante Rosé, both primarily sourced from their 54-acre, certified organic, estate vineyards. This estate spans the two DOC zones of Prosecco and Friuli Grave.

THE SCIENCE OF THE DEAL: The Bergamo family firmly believes in humanae artis natura magistra – nature is the master of all human arts. Production for these wines begins in the vineyard.

THE SOUL OF THE DEAL: This sparkling wine is delicately dry and has a beautifully balanced acidity, which makes it delightful in all ways. It has a true focus, connected to the land from which it came, while allowing for aromas of a warm, early spring morning. It also has aroma of Ponderosa lemons just picked from the tree, and yet has a full enough mouth feel to be perfectly paired with late summer’s freshly sliced persimmons. It just knocked me over with its lusciousness. Very easy to enjoy, with or without delicate foods.

[ART: Pierre Auguste Renoir: Spring at Chatou, c.1872 to 1875]



Bervini 1955 Spumante Rosé, Friuli Venezia Giulia

SAME AS ABOVE: THE HEART OF THE DEAL: Bervini 1955, founded by Antonio Bergamo on May 5, 1955, is a multi-generational family-owned winery, based in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy, and is managed by second and third generations, Giuseppe and Paolo Bergamo, respectively. Bervini 1955 crafts vintage-dated Prosecco D.O.C. and Spumante Rosé, both primarily sourced from their 54-acre, certified organic, estate vineyards. This estate spans the two DOC zones of Prosecco and Friuli Grave. This Spumante is a sparkling wine from the Piedmont region of Italy. (It is also called Asti or Asti Spumante.) 

THE SCIENCE OF THE DEAL: The wine is made from blend of Glera (a grape variety that’s used in making Prosecco), and Roboso (a local Red grape, and where the Rosè derives its color). The grapes are handled protectively. The Bervini 1955 Spumante Rosé was fermented in stainless steel tanks, and its secondary fermentation was in the Charmat method. This happened at 60.8 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius) for 40 days, to create this delicious bubbly wine. [Charmat* method:  The secondary fermentation is moved into stainless steel tanks. This allows sparkling producers to control the sparkling wine’s process in an easier way, and is allows the winemakers to also create larger volumes of the wine.]

THE SOUL OF THE DEAL The flavors of this wine are citrusy and malic (think crisp apples). Also, my favorite strawberries and raspberries in early season, simply flavorful, and not over the top in what its offering. It’s a very clean, sparkling wine, with lovely tiny little bubbles. This Spumante Rosé reminded me of a Maxfield Parrish painting called Daybreak… A time of excitable and easy going love. It all comes together; the art of art and art of wine…


Event,Film,Food & Wine,Movie,Wine

21st Annual Sonoma International Film Festival ~ Devour! Sonoma Chefs & Shorts Gala Dinner

Devour! Sonoma Chefs & Shorts Gala Dinner


March 21 through March 25, 2017


This is a film lovers’ paradise. Add food and wine, and the Gala sounds like an Epicurean/wine lovers’ blast!

I haven’t made my way down valley to attend any of the events surrounding the Film Festival; however, this may be the year to become involved. Although I’ve not attended, I’ve only heard great things about this event, so I’m happy to advocate for it. My personal preference toward films is, “Bring on the imports/foreign films; since I’m more into how drama evolves, versus Hollywood’s perchance for shoot’em up / blow’em up’s one trick pony.”

[From Press Release]

From The Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF)

For Sonoma County, food and wine have often gone hand in hand with movies in an iconic pairing that both entertains and delights your taste buds. Despite the fires that hit the area hard last year, the local community is gearing up to celebrate the 21st Annual Sonoma International Film Festival. This year SIFF is delighted to announce a new partnership with Canada’s Devour! The Food Film Fest in bringing one of the most unique dining events in the world to SIFF.

The culinary and cinematic delights will be from March 21st – March 25th this year where everyone can enjoy the very best Sonoma has to offer! Tickets went on sale February 1st.

[Photo by Casey Lee on Unsplash]

The Sonoma International Film Festival (SIFF) is delighted to announce a new partnership with Canada’s Devour! The Food Film Fest is bringing one of the most unique dining events in the world to SIFF. The Devour! Sonoma Chefs & Shorts Gala Dinner brings highly-regarded culinary luminaries, like Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn, San Francisco), Michael Howell (Founder of Devour!, Wolfville, Nova Scotia) and Sonoma Chefs John McReynolds (Edge), and John Toulze (The Girl and The Fig) together for an extraordinary five-course dinner, inspired by short food films from around the world.

The Devour! Sonoma Chefs & Shorts Gala Dinner

“SIFF is thrilled to work with Devour! The Food Film Fest of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, to present the first “Chefs & Shorts Culinary Experience,” to our festival attendees!” enthused SIFF Executive Director Kevin McNeely.

Matching wines from Sonoma and Canada will accompany each of the five courses. The films are presented simultaneously during the dinner on Thursday, March 22 at 6pm in the Sonoma Veterans Hall. This unique offering has sold out in many locations around the world, and with this combination of award-winning chefs, great local foods and wines, it’s sure to please the inner foodie in all. Tickets [went] on sale for this event on Thursday, February 1, at www.sonomafilmfest.org.

About the Sonoma International Film Festival

The Sonoma International Film Festival is a 501(c)3 corporation dedicated to promoting independent film, supporting filmmakers around the world, and inspiring film lovers. Most films screened at the Festival have attending filmmakers and actors making for informative Q&As. This unique five-day event features screening venues in and around Sonoma Plaza and offers world-class cuisine from local artisans and exceptional wine from Sonoma vintners. Renowned filmmakers, industry leaders and celebrities such as Bruce Willis, Susan Sarandon, the late Robin Williams, John Lasseter, Danny Glover, Demián Bichir, Mary-Louise Parker, Michael Keaton and Meg Ryan have walked the festival red carpet and enjoyed its intimate ambiance.

About Devour!

Combining cinematic talent with extraordinary gastronomic activities, Devour! The Food Film Fest is the world’s largest film festival focused on food and drink. This annual five-day festival hosts 100+ events, high profile chefs and celebrated filmmakers from around the world and, just this past season, attracted almost 11,000 food and film lovers to Nova Scotia, Canada. The eighth edition of Devour! is slated for October 24-28, 2018.


Bubbly,South Africa,Sparkling,Wine

Valentine Value Vinos from Around the Globe ~ Wines of the Week ~ Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Rosé and Brut


  • THE HEART OF THE DEAL ~ THE WINERY: info is coming from the company’s own statement
    • I can’t make up their history
    • Nor am I to try

Two sparkling gems, from a different part of the globe, are Simonsig’s Kaapse Vonkel Brut Rosé, from Stellenbosch, South Africa, and the NV 2015 Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut.


Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Rose

THE HEART OF THE DEAL: Simonsig Wine Estate began in 1971, in South Africa. Sinonsig Kaapse Vonkel created the original Méthode Cap Classique. The Malan Legacy: Since French Huguenot Jacques Malan first set foot in the Cape in 1688, the Malan family’s wine knowledge accumulated over many generations. The late Frans Malan, beloved patriarch of the Malan Family and one of the pioneers of the South African wine industry, was not only a craftsman of superior wines, but also introduced groundbreaking innovations including co-finding the Stellenbosch Wine Route and producing South Africa’s first Méthode Cap Classique, a bottle fermented sparkling wine made in the style of French champagne. Today, his legacy lives on through his sons, Francois and Johan, and grandson Francois-Jacques, the second and third Malan generations at Simonsig Estate.

THE SCIENCE OF THE DEAL: Home of the original Méthode Cap Classique, with generations of recognizable winemaking excellence, this classic method of making sparkling wine, by creating a second fermentation in the bottle, has been used in South Africa since 1992. And, this is how this sparkling wine was crafted.

THE SOUL OF THE DEAL: This is a very dry and refined rosé wine. I especially enjoyed its yeasty finish. A sparkling pink rosé, comprised of Pinot Noir and Pinotage wine grapes, I loved the quince and raspberry favors, as well as those inviting, effervescent bubbles. My exposure has been limited to only tasting a few examples of wines from South Africa, but never bubbles. Another experience for me is meeting and becoming a friend to David and Vasi Thathiah, who have deep global roots. They’re the proprietors of Karibu Vineyard, in Napa Valley. It is from them I’ve learned about South African history, through their eyes, generosity, and immigration. Within the texts that I have received from Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel, I’m finding a thread of commonality. Culture among them all is the following, and take this information into the crafting of these two wines: Expect a wine that has dignity, respect for others, and an elegance that just flows.


Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut

THE HEART OF THE DEAL: Philosophy ~ At Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel , the Malan family values drive the Estate’s commitment to producing wines of internationally regarded excellence, expressing the unique and diverse terroir of the Stellenbosch region. We also believe that being a gift of nature made for the enjoyment of people, our wine offering should always be complemented by true Cape hospitality and efficient service.

THE SCIENCE OF THE DEAL: The same as above: Méthode Cap Classique ~ A classic method of making sparkling wine by creating a second fermentation in the bottle, the term Cap Classique has been used in South Africa since 1992. This Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut is a blend of 48 percent Chardonnay, 49 percent Pinot Noir, and three percent Pinot Meunier. All of the grapes were hand picked and placed into bins, then the bunches were gently pressed in pneumatic presses, collecting the most pure juice from the grapes.

THE SOUL OF THE DEAL Imagine a brunch, with an abundance of delicious morning foods, and bubbles gloriously dancing in your glass. The sun is low in the sky and shining brilliantly, as you dine on the patio… Enter the Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut. This is like waking up to tart apples and grapefruit as a liquid diet, first lemon yellow in color, and a refreshing grapefruit finish. If ever I was to be in South Africa, this is what I’d be hoping for. I consoled myself with the gravy pitcher, in this picture, given to me by our family’s beloved Ada, who raised three generations of my family. The gravy pitcher at least 100 years old, and is a timely image of South Africa, when it was created. The pitcher means so much more to me now, after tasting this wine. I found that sense of place, the same sense Ada must have found. She was a graduate of the Fannie Farmer Cooking School. We all ate well, and her china must have meant so much to her. It was handed down to me; second generation family to her. Tying past memories and the flavors of of this Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut together made for a very soulful experience. May you also find your magic moment with this delicious sparkling wine.


Australia,Bubbly,Bubbly Wine,Imports,Italy,Shiraz,Sparkling,Wine,Wine of the Week

Valentine Value Vinos from Around the Globe ~ Wines of the Week ~ Vintage Prosecco and Paringa


  1. THE HEART OF THE DEAL ~ THE WINERY: info is coming from the company’s own statement
    1. I can’t make up their history
    2. Nor am I to try
    1. Sample from: Quintessential Wines


2016 Vintage Prosecco, Veneto Italy

THE HEART OF THE DEAL: This 100 percent 2016 Vintage Prosecco Sparkling wine was made from the Glera grape variety, by producer Vino dei Fratelli. Their label shows an ancient Roman coin struck in 46 BC depicting two of the most famous FRATELLI (brothers) in the Roman religion. Castor and Pollux fell in love with beautiful sisters who were already betrothed to suitors. The brothers challenged and slew their rivals, but Castor was mortally wounded. In the end, Zeus (Roman name Jupiter) placed both their immortal souls together in the sky as symbols of brotherly love. Today we refer to them as the constellation Gemini.

THE SCIENCE OF THE DEAL: The best bunches were hand harvested and carefully selected. They were then pressed, after a cold maceration process. Next, the thick, suspended must is allowed to rest in stainless steel tanks. The tanks are chilled to 41 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (5 to 10 degrees Celsius). After 10 to 12 hours, the clear part of the must has separated from the fermentation cap. The winemaking takes from 15 to 20 days in stainless steel tanks. The temperature of the tanks is constantly at 64 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (18-20 degrees Celsius). Finally, the still wine is made effervescent, by adding a special yeast and sugar, to create just the right amount of bubbles. This wine is then chilled at 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius), filtered, and bottled for soulful wine lovers.

THE SOUL OF THE DEAL: Tiny, tiny bubbles greet the sparkling wine flute, as I carefully slide the 2016 Vintage Prosecco Sparkling down the edge of my glass, ever… so… slowly. I don’t want one bubble meant for my enjoyment to evaporate into thin air. Au contraire. I want to experience every little tiny bubble, which came alive in the above description of crafting this special Prosecco. This is pale yellow Prosecco also murmurs at hints of a green reflection. The bouquet has delightful scents of lemon and lime, and the palate is pure unctuousness. The fruity minerality, as it fades into the distance, lingers longer than most. Ben Fatto!


2016 Paringa Sparkling Shiraz

THE HEART OF THE DEAL: The ARH Australian Wine Company Pty Ltd. Here’s a statement to pay attention to ~ “We simply aim to make the best value-for-money Australian Shiraz on the planet,” by David & Dena Hickinbotham. I’m ready to believe them, because it’s an important integrity statement that dares to deliver their most capable accomplishment, for my palate. It’s bold, it’s brave, and with this wine, they met their goal for delivering a great sparkling Australian Shiraz to me.

THE SCIENCE OF THE DEAL: The grapes come from 15-year old vines, which are grown in the sub-surface limestone layer, beneath sandy loam topsoil. This one is an interesting fermentation process. The Paringa Sparkling Shiraz gets its bubbles, not from a secondary fermentation, but from the process of dissolving carbon dioxide in a liquid. Process: Carbon Dioxide is under high pressure. When reduced, the CO2 gas is introduced from an outside system, which is a released form into the solution, creating small bubbles, causing the wine to become sparkling.

THE SOUL OF THE DEAL: Rich, full bodied beauty, bramble berries – Red and bubbly for Valentine’s Day? Here she is! When trying the wine, I didn’t have a clue what it was going to be like. I’ve had other Shiraz sparkling, but never this inky and wildly wonderful. It lingers in tannins, chalk, and freshly smashed blackberries. If you’re planning red all the way and want to pair with milk chocolate, here’s your pairing. The rich, sweet milk chocolate will round out the rich dark sparkling wine. I tend toward finding a balance in food and wine, like all things in life. I like to have a chemical balance in my mouth. Heat + Sweet = balance. And Sweet calls for something Dry. Always find the balance.


France,Italy,Wine,Wine of the Week

Valentine Value Vinos from Around the Globe ~ Wines of the Week ~ Day 2 ~ Château de Saint-Amour + Moscato d’Asti DOCG


  1. THE HEART OF THE DEAL ~ THE WINERY: info is coming from the company’s own statement
    1. I can’t make up their history
    2. Nor am I to try
    1. Sample from: Quintessential Wines



2015 Château de Saint-Amour from Georges Duboeuf

THE HEART OF THE DEAL: WINERY/NEGOCIANT: Georges Duboeuf: For more than four centuries, the Duboeuf family has been producing wine. Georges, well known for his dynamism, created Les Vins Georges Duboeuf in September of 1964. This historical date also marks the start of his wine merchant business, selecting, bottling and selling fine French wines from the Beaujolais and Mâconnais regions of Burgundy and, in the process, becoming world-famous.

Château de Saint-Amour: In Saint-Amour, the northern most Cru, which is considered the most sensual – because of its name, as well as its wines – the Siraudin family is dedicated to crafting artisanal wines that fully express the unique clay and granite terroir of their estate.

THE SCIENCE OF THE DEAL: The region is Saint-Amour. Their estate vineyards face the southwest, so they gets sun from morning to late afternoon: cool mornings, cooling down early in the afternoon. (This is perfect for horticulture and viticulture, from my personal experiences. A great balance.) Hand harvested of the nearly 50 acres, the vines are about 20 years old – mid-life, if vines are pulled at 30 years, as I’ve seen done in California. The Gamay grapes were hand harvested – for a more delicate wine, and fermentations take place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, might the wine not experience any barrel aging.

THE SOUL OF THE DEAL: This wine for this Chateau de Saint-Amour is 100 percent Gamay. It has a medium, smooth body. And I was ready for it, once tasting it, to have it drip down my chin. It delivered in its truest form. This Gamay wine makes me want to go to Chateau de Saint-Amour. I want to be there, walk through its vineyards, soak in its terroir, and cavort the way I’d make Bacchus grin with understanding.


THE HEART OF THE DEAL: Luca Bosio Vineyards, Piedmont Italy ~ Luca Bosio Vineyards, now in its third generation, was established in 1967 by farmers Egidio and Angela. Their son, Valter Bosio married Rosella and along with their son Luca, a graduate winemaker, work tirelessly to keep up the family tradition. Luca has brought a wave of freshness and novelty both in technical and commercial areas. After the success of his innovative and progressive ideas, and under the constant support of the family, the company has taken the name of Luca Bosio Vineyards. [It’s] located in the center of the Langhe region of Piedmont. The company has 60 acres of vineyards and sources additional grapes from vineyards in Piedmont.

THE SCIENCE OF THE DEAL: This wine has a light straw color, yet it’s considered to be a very complicated grape variety. Namely, it’s a Moscato. Grown in Piedmont’s sunny hills, where there are dry soils and a cool climate, this Asti region helps to shape Italy’s effervescent Moscatos. The grapes from this Moscato come from vineyards located in the Santo Stefano Belbo villages, at 200 to 300 feet about sea level. The average age of the vines is 30 years old.

THE SOUL OF THE DEAL: If you don’t know what to expect, and you want a really fun surprise, the Moscato grape variety, grown in the cool climate of the Asti region in Piedmont, the 2016 Moscato d’Asti DOCG, Luca Bosio Vineyards Mosdato is for you. The Asti region nurtures the Moscato grape variety, then wine, with so many chemical compounds for flavors, in its genetic makeup. Nature has provided, in the Moscato, for lots of aromas and flavors. Get ready; this one is just delicious and pure fun, for adventurous palates enjoying the Yin Yang of any wine grapes. If you’re up for a bit of flavor adventure, the Moscato d’Asti DOCG is your wine. It was like angels were enveloping my palate and delivering my spirit upward, as I enjoyed the finish. Yeah, it was that good. It was such a pleasure to enjoy this Moscato d’Asti. Consider this sparkling Moscato for those spicy moments in your life. And who doesn’t enjoy bubbles, anytime, really? Think aged cheeses, for instance… The added touch of fruit flavors (yin) balances out the sharp punch (yang) delivered by the cheese.