Alice on My Daily Wine

And…many thanks to blogger Amy Atwood, for taking the time to interview me for her website . MYDAILYWINE…

Alice is Reading in Brooklyn, July 20th

Hey, I’ll be at the Franklin Park Reading Series. First Brooklyn event ever! I will be reading from the book and perhaps, a little something about a non-wine drinking rat. Other writers are great. Please come and say hello. July 20, 8PM Erin Einhorn (The Pages In Between) Alice Feiring (The Battle for Wine and Love) Teddy Wayne (Kapitoil) Alyssa Pinsker (Time Out, Moth Storyteller) Check the website for instructions FRANKLIN PARK INFO…

Woodinville Wine Notes Wednesday

Be prepared for Woodinville’s wonderful wines to wow you at Wine Notes Wednesday on July 15. Or as Woodinville Wine Country puts it, “Wine Notes Wednesday will provide you with the perfect opportunity to wine down your Wednesday and to identify wineries that you will want to visit throughout the summer.”

The event will be held at Columbia Winery from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. In addition to fine wine from more than 20 wineries, Wine Notes features music from Nice Legs, the house band from Page Cellars.

The band’s name relates to wine legs –the streaks that form on a wine glass when the wine is swirled. We’ve enjoyed tunes from Nice Legs many times at Page Cellars – the son of Page owners Rothelle and Jim, Brett Cummings, plays a mean saxaphone.

Reserve your Wine Notes tickets online for $30 or $40 (cash only) at the door.


Sometimes “Big” is Better

In “Big,” the Tom Hanks movie from the late 80’s, the adolescent main character wishes “to be big” and overnight, via a magic wish machine, he is physically aged from adolescence to adulthood.

The movie can offer numerous parallels to the wine world – particularly when a winery grows into a maturity of acclaim that belies its physical age.

And, of course, in terms of the juice in the bottle, the word “big” is an adjective that is no stranger to the world of wine.

Both analogized aspects of “big” fit Caliza Winery.

Caliza, the Spanish word for “limestone,” is a small (1000 cases), upstart winery on Anderson Road in Paso Robles, an area akin to Hwy. 29 in Napa.  In his first year of wine production, using grapes from neighbors, Carl Bowker’s labor of love and second career after 25 years in another industry has made it “big.”

Using grapes from (amongst others) Erich Russell, a So Cal expat from Sonoma, doing well with his winery Rabbit Ridge, Caliza has hit the equivalent of an extra innings walk-off grand slam – the winery won “Best of Class” and “Best Red Wine” at the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition for their Syrah and, more importantly, Robert Parker, Jr. has scored each of their first three varietals at least 90+ points, a feat that puts them on the wine watch list, particularly as their own Rhone varietal-oriented vineyard rounds into form.

To say the least, it’s an auspicious beginning.

And, given this acclaim out of the gate, it makes sense why the demure Bowker politely opted not to do my cheeky 20 questions interview – preferring to keep potential conversation to the wine and not what book is on his nightstand.

Who can blame him?

In focusing on the wine, make no mistake, in addition to this impressively “big” beginning, as mentioned, these are “big” wines, as well – almost an archetype for the style of wines that cause Parker-bashers and competition detractors to rub their hands together in an evil, empirical opinion glee, as if to say, “I told you that big, extracted wine style appeals to Parker and wine judges by dint of blunt force.”

That’s a perspective, surely, but I tend to look at the positive in all situations – the notion that an outsider can come into Paso, make friends with the neighbors, score quality grapes, impress with a level of quality, and go on to win such accolades so early, is a heroic story fit for broad recognition.

As Carl Bowker said in the San Luis Obispo Tribune, “We never in our wildest imaginations expected this.  I was literally blown away.”

For New World wine lovers, these “big” wines will blow you away, too.


DCs Wine Country Food and Wine Festival

I haven’t mentioned this yet, but if you are looking for something to do either tonite or tomorrow night, you might want to check out the first ever DC’s Wine Country Food and Wine Festival, a festival dedicated strictly to Loudoun County wineries and restaurants.Tickets are only $30 at the door, and it looks to be a lot of fun!

Meursault: the vineyards of Jean-Philippe Fichet.

Visiting Burgundy: the Meursault vineyards of Jean-Philippe Fichet with chef du cave Nicolas Gachon, July 2009

Click here to view the embedded video.

Two top South African reds

I’ve neglected South Africa of late. I’m sorry. It’s just that in so many of their red wines I get this South African signature that I don’t really like: it’s a sort of earthy, green, slightly bitter character that gets in the way of the fruit. These are warm-climate wines, yet they don’t have the sweetness and purity of fruit you might expect…

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Three Rivers Winery 2006 Malbec

The Award-Winning Wine:

Three Rivers Winery 2006 Malbec (Columbia Valley)

Reason for Reviewing:

Three Rivers Winery 2006…

Michael’s Minute: Jacobsdal Pinotage 2005.

While visiting the Bergkelder in Stellenbosch, Michael had the opportunity to re-taste the Jacobsdal Pinotage 2005.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Hardy’s Varietal Range Chardonnay 2007

It is all too easy to be sniffy about the major wine brands when you’ve had your nose in the books of Parker and Robinson.  But have you tried anything from Chilean producer Concha y Toro lately?  Or the sub brands Cono Sur and Casillero del Diablo?  Interesting stuff and generally high quality, but in the UK, I remember the Australians as being first in the queue to bring wine to the proletariat via supermarket and pub alike.

Aside from the ubiquitous Jacob’s Creek, I recall Hardy’s as being a brand leader. So when my neighbour, Peter, brought a bottle of Varietal Range Chardonnay round to my barbie, I was first insulted, then dismissive and finally intrigued.  Obviously, in Peter’s presence I sniffed at it, parked it in the corner and turned to open a bottle of something exclusive and French (albeit cheap and ropey).

Hardly Chardonnay...

Curiosity got the better of me this evening and I opened the bottle.

In both smell and taste it whacks you in the face with a bunch of exotic fruits – mango, papaya, pineapple and guava.  In that sense it is not particularly complex.  Serious winos might allege that it is one-dimensional but as John Holmes discovered, there is nothing wrong with possessing only one dimension as long as you make that one count in spades…

Time to drop the major brand prejudice and simply focus on whether or not you enjoy the wine, eh?

You can get this at most supermarkets for just over a fiver.

Best of the Amador County Fair Wine Competition

The Amador County Fair Wine Competition results are in, and the super-award winners are:

Best of Show and Best Red: Sobon…

Countdown to Catavino’s 10 Day USA Tour – WBC Meets EWBC

aldeaIn exactly 10 days, we will be heading to New York City, followed by San Francisco and back to NYC for a 10 day immersion into the American wine blog culture. What does this mean? Having lived and breathed Europe for the past 5 years, we’ve only met less than a dozen American wine bloggers, despite the fact that we are not only American bloggers, but that Catavino is aimed primarily to the American market. Yet, our conversations and meetings have remained in the virtual world, far from a handshake, the sound of someone’s laughter or the experience of sharing physical space. Consequently, we’ve decided to change this, heading west as a result of the generous sponsorship of the EWBC by Viniportugal.

Viniportugal, the generic body for wines of Portugal, is one of the main sponsors of the 2009 European Wine Blogger’s Conference held this October in Lisbon, Portugal, and has offered to bring Catavino to the USA to co-host two Portuguese wine tastings. The first tasting will take place in NYC at the new Portuguese restaurant called, Aldea, on July 22nd, where we will taste approximately a dozen wines, including (this is not a complete list and the wines and vintages are subject to change):

  • Vallado Douro Red 2007
  • Malhadinha Nova Monte da Peceguina 2007
  • Cortes de Cima Incognito (vintage TBD)
  • Quinta da Aveleda Vinho Verde (vintage TBD)
  • Crasto Douro Red (vintage TBD)
  • Broadbent Vinho Verde (vintage TBD)
  • Quevedo Vintage Port 2005
  • Evel Grande Reserva Red, Douro, 2005
  • Tinto da Ânfora Red, Alentejo, 2006

winebloggers-logo_square-jmvCome the crack of dawn the following morning, we jump on a plane and head west. And by this point, if we’re not hooked up to IVs running freely with extra strength espresso, I’ll be totally shocked. Between the jet lag coming from BCN to NYC, late nights, and then another 6 hour flight, setting our internal timetable back 9 hours, I have no doubt we would be walking zombies if it wasn’t for the famed El Jefe Gathering.

Fortunately, our exhaustion will be set aside upon arrival to SFO, when we jump into the car with Megan Kenney of Wannabe Wino and Thea Dwelle of Luscious Lushes and head to Twisted Oak winery to meet the legendary El Jefe. Here, we’ll finally meet the man behind TAPAS (Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society), tour his winery, and potentially, have a long and leisurely barbecue.

The following morning, July 24th, we head to the Flamingo Resort where we will be attending the American Wine Bloggers Conference, where we co-host our second Portuguese wine tasting with Viniportugal. On Saturday, July 25th, at 9pm we’ll uncork 3 dozen Portuguese wines at the Flamingo Resort. Admittedly, we did not choose these wines, but we can happily say that many of them are our favorites. All of the wines poured are available in the USA, and a handful of them will have someone from the winery present to answer any questions you may have. The wines selected are (wines and vintages are subject to change):

  • Adega Coop. Borba Reserva 2005 (The Cork Label)
  • Adega Cooperativa de Borba Reserva 2004
  • Adega Cooperativa de Monção Fuzelo 2008
  • Sogrape Vinhos Broadbent Vinho Verde NV
  • CARM Red 2006
  • Casa Ferreirinha Vinha Grande 2002
  • Quinta do Casal Branco 2007
  • Casal Branco Terra de Lobos 2006
  • Casal Branco Quartilho Branco 2007
  • Casal Branco Quartilho Tinto 2006
  • Cortes de Cima Chaminé 2008
  • Cortes de Cima Reserva 2004 Cortes de Cima
  • Dona Maria 2006
  • Cabriz Colheita Selectionada 2006
  • Herdade do Esporão Red Reserva 2005
  • Herdade do Esporao White Reserva 2008
  • JP Ramos Marques de Borba 2007
  • Niepoort Twisted 2007
  • Quevedo Vintage Port 2005
  • Quevedo Vintage Port 2007
  • Quinta da Aveleda 2008
  • Quinta do Noval 10 y o Tawny NV
  • Quinta do Noval LBV Unfilt. 2003
  • Quinta do Vallado 2007
  • Quinta do Vallado 2006
  • Quinta Vale D. Maria 2006
  • Van Zellers 2006
  • Quinta de São Simão da Aguieira 2007
  • Quinta da Soalheira 2007
  • Sogevinus Veedha 2007
  • Callabriga Alentejo Red 2006
  • Callabriga Dão Red 2007
  • Callabriga Douro Red 2006
  • Quinta de Azevedo 2008
  • Quinta dos Carvalhais Touriga Nacional 2000
  • Quinta de Roriz Prazo de Roriz 2006
  • Grahams Six Grapes NV
  • Dows Vale do Bomfim 2006
  • Vinhos da Cavaca Dourada Mouchão 2003

The other great aspect of coming to both NYC and CA is that we have several incredible announcements for the USA food and wine bloggers! Free trips? Exciting opportunities? You’ll just have to wait to see.

In the meantime, if you have any questions for us, or are interested in meeting with us while we are in your neck of the woods, please drop us an email. As of now, we are not sure of our phone set up while in the States, but when we do know, we’ll be sure to pass that number onto everyone! Our hope is that we’ll meet many of the faces behind the blogs,  make some new friends, and without a doubt, drink plenty of good wine.


Gabriella and Ryan Opaz

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A Flight of Whites

With summer here (although you might miss it if you blink) I was looking forward to a white wine tasting at Robert’s Hanglage. No German wines..but he is planning that in August.
Ten wines..a battle between France and Italy with a Chilean taster to start.

De Gras Chardonnay 2008
Central Valley, Chile
Was a good wine at € 7,–. Some smoke and almonds, nicely package.
Points 13.5

Domaine de la Foliette ‘Clos de la Fontaine, Muscadet de Sevre et Maine 2008
Loire, France
Only ever liked the ‘sur Lie’ style..this does nothing for me…drink VERY cold and occupy yourself with the food.
Points 10

Filippo Gallina Arneis 2008
Roere Arneis, Italy
Decent, clean aroma..nutty
Points 12

Zaccagnini Bianco de Ciccio 2008
Colline Pescarese, Italy
This is Trebbiano & 20% Chardonnay..again..clean and well-made.
Points 13.5

Terre di Franciacorte Curtefranca Bianco 2007
Ca’ del Bosco
Burnt smoke..tight acidity..a step up in quality after the first 4.
Points 13.5

Thomas Morey Chardonnay 2007
Chassagne Montrachet, Burgundy, France
Fresh hay aroma..slightly apple flavour..citrus..lively acidity and a good finish
Points 14.5

Domaine du Vieux Lazaret Blanc 2007
Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone, France
Melons & honey..reminded me of Condrieu although no Viognier in the mix.
Exotic flavours..but remaining dry
Points 15

…..and so to one of my favourite producers.
I ‘discovered’ Vie de Romans a few years ago and have been constantly satisfied with their Sauvignon Blanc.
A benchmark for this grape.
I have never tried their Flors…would it live up to expectations?
Vie de Romans ‘Flors di Uis’ 2007
Friuli Isonzo, Italy
Oh yes…an unoaked Cuveé of Tocai friulano, Malvasia und Riesling..intense nose of honey and nuts..exotic flowery fruit…rich texture…excellent balance..long finish..lovely wine.
Points 17

Vie de Romans Chardonnay 2007
Friuli Isonzo, Italy
This is how to make Chardonnay…only 40% new oak..perfect balance..let the grape show it’s character..perfume and acidity ..Gianfranco Gallo has it just right here..soft explosion on the palate and a long finish.
Points 16.75

The last wine..the most expensive..had a difficult time…
Domaine Michel Niellon Les Chaumes 1er Cru Clos de La Truffiere 2007
Chassagne Montrachet, Burgundy France
Closed need to work on the glass..a decant would have helped maybe…fresh acidity and complex flavours..but nothing that hits you yet….leave 3-4 years.
Points 16

Tasting finished..we could re-drink what we liked…guess where I went?

St. Supery +TTL = FUN!

This post is LONG overdue. I had some great momentum coming off my last trip to CA in April, and I got out a bunch of posts from the 5 day trip pretty quickly. Then I petered out.  I’m sorry! I still have several more winery visits to talk about from the trip and I will try to get them up here in short order!  However, tonight at 6pm est is the St. Supery Twitter Taste Live and I just felt I should get my post up about it before I go twittering away about their wines this evening!

On our last day in Napa, Thea, Matt, and I did a whilrwind tour of 5 different wineries.  One of them was St. Supery.  Thea had visited St. Supery earlier that spring for a blogger day and thought we shoud see it too, so off we went.  Even though St. Supery was our last stop, at the end of the day, it was absolutely packed! Amazing to me…Napa is just SO different than Sonoma to me.  Though I guess the fact that it was a Saturday probably didn’t help, tour buses were crawling everywhere.  And good samaritan Thea spotted a pile of wallets, cash, and cell phones just sitting on a retaining wall as we walked in to St. Supery and turned it in at the tasting bar.  Some poor tourist probably got back to his hotel and paniced!

I didn’t get too many photos at St. Supery since it was so crowded. Sorry!  That said, the tasting room is quite spacious…there were just that many people there.  Everyone seemed to be having a great time and enjoying themselves, as we did!

2006 Virtú White Wine: $28. Grapefruit, tropical notes, cream, lemon, guava, passion fruit. Nice. We took home 2.

2006 Rosé: $20. Smells like port, raisins, dried plums, lime, tastes like port, chocolate.

2002 Merlot: $27. Plum, spice, cedar, pepper, smoke, green pepper, tomato vine, black fruit.

2005 Petite Verdot: Blue fruit, smoke, pepper, really nice, red fruit, berries, blackberries, inky, licorice.  We bought one.

2000 Limited Edition Dollarhide Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon: $85. Blackberry, cedar, spice, coffee, red notes, plums, oak.

2005 Élu: $65. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 3% Petite Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc. Pepper, smoke, espresso, chocolate, blackberries, black cherry.  Very nice.

Matt poses with the car we drove all week!

Matt poses with the car we drove all week!

All in all a fun tasting. I wish it had been a bit quieter so I could have asked the litany of questions I usually ask about wineries when we are there, but oh well.  We picked and chose what we wanted to taste….the list was quite exhaustive.  Tonight at the TTL, we have the Sauvignon Blanc, the white Virtú, the Moscato, and a Cabernet Sauvignon.  We are having a bunch of people over tonight, who don’t yet know that they get to geek out alongside me :) so hopefully they won’t mind too much!

Posted in California, Napa, Vineyards, Wineries

Wine Week Interview Series No.2 : Andrew Thomas from Thomas Wines.

Recorded live at the Good Food & Wine show in Melbourne, Brad chats to the man behind Thomas Wines, Andrew Thomas. “Thommo” talks about the Kiss Shiraz as well as the way the New Generation Hunter Valley winemakers are teaming up to change a lot of people’s views of the Hunter as ‘old school’.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Greenpeace Wine.

grapesGreenpeace Australia Pacific ( have launched a drinks edition of their True Food Guide. Around 300 Australian wines from 50 wineries have been included in the guide, whose aim is to help consumers buy food and drink free from genetically-modified ingredients.
The Winemakers Federation of Australia have a policy to ensure that no genetically modified organism are used in the production of Australian wine.