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Big Jim and Lil’ Jo ~ off and running

Along with Chang Liow and Jose Diaz…

The Wine Century Club of Windsor CA has officially begun.

I arrived at Chinois Bistro (our new club house) with the Local Chapter Application. On the Member List, I had already filled in President Jose Diaz and Secretary Jo Diaz (it’s no secret that I’m the record keeper). The space for Vice President was left open, as were the other spaces for more interested people.

When we arrived, Jim Caudill (Caudill & Company Communications), my friend and colleague in wine PR, was waiting at the bar. Jim was whetting his whistle with an eclectic beer…  my kinda man. The Chinois staff prepared our area in the back, and we chatted… But not very long before I asked Jim to sign right here… On the line with Vice President on it. The laughter began, and honestly it never stopped; however, amid the joviality we still got down to business.

[L to R: Chang Liow, Jim Caudill, Jose Diaz]

Chang Liow (proprietor/chef/Master Sommelier) soon arrived and I had him not only sign in, but also write “Treasurer” next to his name (we don’t collect dues). The organization was officially formed. Missing was  Sue Straight, only because she was interviewing a new bass player for her Wine Wench band. (She’s looking forward to our July meeting…) We’re five passionate-about-wine people, and we’re on a mission to taste as many wine grape varieties that are available from all available worldwide sources.

We all recognize that to do that now we have to step outside of our comfort zones and go to places like Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, etc… You get it ~ Way past Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhone. (Everyone seems to hit a wall at the 70 number.)

I had already brought over the following wines:

  1. Chang Liow, Chinois Bistro, recently gave the following to me:
    1. 2004 Benanti Rossodiverzella (Norello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese), which I’d yet to open.
  2. Constance Chamberlain, Brand Action Team, just arranged for me to receive two wines from Greece.
    1. 2008 Santorini Vinsanto (70% Assyrtiko, 30% Aidani)
    2. 2008 Santorini Assyrtiko
  3. Chris Cary, Yak Yak Wine, (Lembergers):
    1. 2008 Bote’ Wines Lemberger
    2. 2007 Sagelands Vineyard, Red Mountain Lemberger
    3. 2008 Two Mountain Winery Lemberger

The day of our tasting, Alison Kwee of Cashmere Agency and Red Ink Imports sent three bottles of wine to me. Included in that group, and brought as a last minute item, was a 2008 Cantina Novelli Bianco Cube from Umbria (Grechetto, Spoletino, and Pecorino). For me, and everyone but Change, this was eight new varieties. The region:

The winery and region: Cantina Novelli, A Renowned Winery From the Heart of Italy’s Umbria Region. Novelli has rediscovered and restored the native Umbrian vines of old.

My Will Work for Wine blog posting is definitely paying off.


  • 2008 Novelli Bianco Cube, Umbria (Grechetto, Spoletino, and Pecorino) ~ Very pleased that this one arrived as it did on the day of our tasting, this was a very refreshing start to our tasting. It had bright fruit, only 12% alcohol, so it was very aromatic and tasty. There was a beautiful olive oil finish on this wine. It’s definitely one to seek out and enjoy. I could have this one every day as a new variety, and it’s definitely worth turning others onto its deliciousness.
  • 2008 Santorini Assyrtiko ~ A wine of great depth and complexity, I enjoyed peaches and pears on my palate, with this wine being easily distinguished as one completely different than our first wine. This was turning out to be a great learning experience. We learned that Assyrtiko is Greece’s signature white grape variety.


  • 2004 Benanti Rossodiverella (Norello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese) ~ We began with this wine, contributed to our tasting by Chang. It reminded me of a Syrah, with tobacco and leather up front, with lots of French oak toast on the finish. This was a beautiful experience. As an older wine, Chang – thinking out loud ~ said that he was hoping it would have held up. It definitely did, and still had plenty more years to go, if we hadn’t enjoyed it on this night.
  • 2007 Sagelands Vineyard, Red Mountain Lemberger ~ All of the Lembergers proved to be a fun experiment. Jim Caudill’s a wine judge, and had tasted many Lembergers in his day, but chuckled that with this one we had a vertical, and without a wine competition, this might never have happened elsewhere for him. This one proved to be his favorite wine of the night. I loved it, too, as I savored the really dark chocolate and a touch of anise on the finish.
  • 2008 Two Mountain Winery Lemberger ~ Leather and lace, a medium bodied wine that had a cotton candy finish for me, minus the sugar. This one would be a great wine with dishes that have an Asian flare.
  • 2008 Bote’ Wines Lemberger ~ This wine is a result of Chris Cary, Yak Yak Wine, taking a winemaking class, a collection of students making this one, then putting their names on the bottle. (Lisa & Mark Bertelsen, Chris Cary, Jennifer Gilmore, Martin John, Don MacMullen, Brenda Moore, Connie & Don Schramm and Terri Soden.) It’s a great class effort, and was true to character. I enjoyed the soft strawberry flavors; again, like the cotton candy characters of above, just even lighter with this wine.


  • 2008 Vinsanto (70% Assyrtiko, 30% Aidani) ~ Holy cow… this one was thick and rich, sweet as a summer night’s breeze, and nutty as a Groucho Marx film. We were trying to think of the perfect desserts. Jose was ready to just put it over ice cream with nothing else, Jim came up with Key Lime pie.

After we tasted and discussed these wines, we ordered some of our favorite appetizers, while Jim was tasting them all for the first time (and really enjoying himself), while we passed the bottles. The rest of the evening was sharing stories… as great food and wine with a dash of great camaraderie to bring out the best in us… or was it? I’m still reflecting and laughing…

The assignment for next time: Everyone must bring one new person, with these two wines from Umbria for starters:

  1. 2005 Cantina Novelli Montefalco Sagrantino (100%)
  2. 2006 Cantina Novelli Montefalco Rosso: Sangiovese (70%), Sagrantino (15%), Cabernet (7%), Merlot (8%)

I’m now at 120 different varieties. Yahoo!

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9 Responses to “Big Jim and Lil’ Jo ~ off and running”

  1. Since I’m too far away to join your club, guess I’ll just have to take your lead and start my own!

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Well, since this club was started in London, and has chapters, starting your own means that we’re in the same club!

    We get to visit each other’s when we’re traveling. How cool is that!

  3. Chris says:


    Great write-up and I am so glad you all enjoyed the Lemberger!

    Your century quest has inspired my own, my wife and I are at 60 now and our goal is to find the other 40 in our travels. Looks like Greece or Italy would be a good place to go next 🙂

  4. Hey Jo,

    What a fun and interesting venture. I know just the place to hold meetings here with my fellow vinotarians.

    Excellent, excellent information. 🙂

  5. Jo Diaz says:

    Chris, Thanks so much. We got a great kick out of the Lembergers! Can’t thank you enough.

  6. Jo Diaz says:


    How funny. I spend five years as a Rotarian, then moved to CA, and found that my life didn’t work around it any more. I love that I can now be a Vinotarian… Takes the guilt out of my head.

  7. Jo Diaz says:

    And, Chris… I’m finding that talking about his has inspired quite a few people. I have to thank Sonadora for my inspiration… Word just gets out. The internet makes is so viral.

  8. Steve says:

    Hi Jo, Jim, Chang, Jose and Sue,

    Congrats on the new chapter!

    I’ll make a toast with a Timorasso – an obscure white grape from here in Colli Tortonese!

    Veni Vino Vici!


  9. Jo Diaz says:

    Hi, Steve. Thanks for the Timorasso Toast! We’re meeting this coming Wednesday to enjoy the following, including lots of Italian obscurities:
    2009 Arnaldo-Caprai Grecante Grechetto Dei Colli Martini ~ Grechetto 100% ~ Italian ~
    2007 Arnaldo-Caprai Montefalco Rosso ~ Sangiovese 70%, Sangratino 15%, Merlot 15% ~ Italian
    2003 Oak Knoll Oregon Niagara ~ Niagara 100% (May not be fair, as I found this in my library and it’s not been chilled for the last seven years… but trying, regardless. ~ Native American, Vitis labrusca
    2008 Rocca Sveva Classico ~ Garganega 100% ~ Italian
    2004 Beronia Rioja Reserva ~ Tempranillo (with a blend of Mazuelo and Graciano) ~ Spain ~ $16.00

    I’ll be writing about it after we meet.

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