Review of Matanzas Journey Red Blend & Chardonnay


This post is by Marisa D'Vari from Wine Region Travel & Reviews: A Wine Story


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Matanzas Creek Experience

Matanzas Creek Experience

Today I received three fabulous examples of red wine (as well as the expected Chardonnay, since the AVA is Sonoma) coming from Matanzas Creek Winery the Bennett Valley area in the Sonoma AVA.

This is one of the most picturesque wineries in Sonoma.

You will find beautiful gardens and great views.

Since its launch in 1977, the winery has built its reputation on Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot grape varieties.

These two varieties that thrive in Sonoma’s temperate climate.

Today the winery is owned by Jackson Family Wines.

The winemaker is Marcia Torres Forno.

All of the winery’s fruit comes from sustainable – farmed, estate vineyards scattered throughout the mild interior and cool coastal AVAs of the county.

Let’s start with the Chardonnay first,

2016 Matanzas Winery Journey Chardonnay

Marcia Torres Forno has been at the helm at the Matanzas winery since 2010.

More than 25 years ago, …

rock shrimp from Matanzas

15, 17


This post is by Edward from Wino sapien


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A Margaret river pair. . . infants really, not yet ready for battle.

2017 Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay (13%). Still dominated by a shroud of oak and cream, butterscotch and curry leaf; the fruit obscured, but the quality is apparent. From 2021 perhaps.

2015 Cullen Diana Madeline (13%). A few weeks earlier, I had tried a 2013 Diana Madeline and was struck by the poise and balance. Possibly the best youngish DM I can recall. . . This in contrast is  unresolved, smudged. Black currant and a sharp prod of menthol, creamy and rich in the mouth – inky, dark chocolate tannins.

Wines of Navarra, the Camino de Santiago, and French Grape Varieties


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The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and concluding at the shrine of St. James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela in the Spanish province of Galicia. The pilgrimages started very shortly after the believed discovery of the tomb of the Patron Saint of Spain in 814. There are two competing claims regarding James evangelization of the Iberian Peninsula with one, based on the Epistle to the Romans where St. Paul suggests a disciple hadn’t visited Spain and the alternative, that after James was martyred in AD 44 his remains were transported back to the land that he had in fact evangelized.

Regardless, pilgrims flocked to the site using the Camino de Santiago and Wines of Navarra website, “in 1234 the first of a succession of French monarchs ascended by marriage to the throne of the Kingdom …

Alternative Packaging from Argentina’s Santa Julia


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Who’s been looking for wine distributed in alternative packaging to bring along during hiking, cycling, boating, or fishing trips? I know I have. And I recently received a strong contender from Winesellers Ltd. a trio of wines packaged in 375ml cans (SRP $5.99).  The wines are produced by Santa Julia, an Argentine brand that leverages their Mendoza location. The winery practices certified organic vineyard management, thus two of these wines are labeled Organic. The Organic Chardonnay provides a classic unoaked Chardonnay flavor; very refreshing with subtle depth and sufficient acidity. The Organic Malbec Rosé behaves again as expected, refreshing with layers of strawberries. However, the red Tintillo is the most interesting as the 50-50 blend of Malbec and Bonarda is fermented using carbonic maceration — a process where the grapes are fermented intact order to achieve a fruitier wine. It’s also designed to drink chilled,  or mildly so …

Amoritas Vineyards 2016 Leelanau Peninsula Chardonnay: It All Started with Wine Tasting!


This post is by Dezel Quillen from My Vine Spot


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Hello Friends,
Many years ago, Michael Goodell and Mary Northcutt met on the campus of a small university in Southern California. They got married sometime after, had a daughter and a son, and throughout the course of many a wine tasting, had a long-standing dream to own a winery and vineyard one day. They eventually settled on a 150-acre estate in Northern Michigan. The land had once been owned by the Amore family but was later abandoned. In 2013, on the gently sloping hills overlooking South Lake Leelanau, Michael, Mary, Emily, and Matthew planted Amoritas Vineyards’ first wine grapes.

Amoritas Vineyards 2016 Leelanau Peninsula Chardonnay

The family opened a new tasting room in December of 2017, and while Mary had passed away by then, the Goodells have worked hard to keep her dreams alive ever since. Thirteen sustainably farmed acres are currently under vine, and they produce a range …

Leeuwin and Giaconda


This post is by Edward from Wino sapien


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A chardonnay pair.

First the Leeuwin, an ascendant 2015 Art Series. There is much to observe and admire, the superb acids, the texture, balance and sting. It’s the showier and more impressive of the two, the aftertaste more enduring, the energy more compelling.

The Giaconda was older, possibly on the other side of its peak, a 2012, also under stelvin. It’s the more smouldering and aromatic wine – flint and curry leaf with a citrus edge. The shape is stubby in comparison, with more sticks and stones. Traces of black cardamon.  

Image: 1/8th of the Nobu Omakase.

Chateau Chantal 30 Year Vineyard 2016 Reserve Chardonnay: Three Decades in the Making, and Delicious!


This post is by Dezel Quillen from My Vine Spot


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Hello Friends,

I would like to introduce you to one of several delicious gems I had an opportunity to try during a recent virtual chat on Twitter’s #winestudio educational wine program. Leading this segment were the good folks at Michigan Wine Collaborative, a non-profit organization working to put Michigan on the global stage of the wine world. I’ve been fortunate (and curious) enough to try a number of wines from The Great Lakes State, and appreciate some of the regional hallmarks found in their wines. These include fresh fruit flavors, natural acid brightness, restraint, low to moderate levels of alcohol, and food-friendliness—all a result of a cool climate. 

“Many viticultural experts around the world believe that a vineyard only starts to produce truly exceptional wines after it has reached 25 or 30 years of age. We believe we are there!” ~ Chateau Chantal 

What Dessert Goes with Champagne?


This post is by Marisa D'Vari from Wine Region Travel & Reviews: A Wine Story


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Picture of Macarons

Curious about what dessert goes with Champagne, Sparkling Wine, or Bubbly?

I love Champagne.

And as much as I love Champagne, I love dessert even more!

Though I am using the word “Champagne” here, you can apply the same dessert pairing concepts with Sparkling Wine or bubbly from many regions.

This is as long as the signature “Champagne grapes” Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes are included.

The Differences Between Champagne and Sparkling Wine Made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the “Traditional Method”

There are many differences between sparkling wine made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from regions outside Champagne, and within Champagne.

In some cases the differences are very subtle, others more dramatic.

You may be surprised that some sparkling wine from England, Australia, New Zealand, and California may be several times the price of the most popular branded Champagne houses.

For the most part, the differences are subtle, …

Champagne and dessert pairing
Ayaya Champagne with macaron desert
Champagne bubbly pairing with desert
Panel of Champagne representatives tasting bubbly with macarons
Explaining Champagne bubbly with dessert

Explore #WeAreMarylandWine During Maryland Wine Month


This post is by Todd Godbout from WineCompass


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The Maryland Wineries Association has designated March as Maryland Wine Month and to follow the action they are promoting the #WeAreMarylandWine (in addition to #MDWine #MDWineTrails & #MDWineMonth) tag on all social media platforms. There are also numerous events and activities scheduled at various wineries and retailers across the state — all listed on the MD Wine website. So we decided to dedicate more time this month to visit the Free State and visited two that are open seven days a week – navigating with theCompass Craft Beverage Finder.

We started at Catoctin Breeze Vineyard, located north of Frederick on the Route 15 Wine Road. Being a club member, our tastings were complimentary so we went through both their Signature ($10) and Sweet ($8) tastings. After previous visits, I have discussed their wonderful dry Estate Syrah, Estate Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay among others. So let me venture into the …

Chateau Chantal 2016 30-year-vineyard Anniversary Reserve Chardonnay


This post is by Todd Godbout from WineCompass


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The final segment of the #WineStudio – Michigan Wine Collaborative presentation featured a pioneer in that state’s wine industry: Chateau Chantal Winery. In 1983 Robert and Nadine Begin purchased 60 acres of cherry orchards in the Old Mission Peninsula to form the foundation for Begin Orchards. They quickly diversified into winegrapes and planted various grapes varieties including Chardonnay — planted in 1986. Fast forward to today and Chateau Chantal is not only a respected winery but also a hospitality center with a B&B and rooms for executive retreats. In addition, those 30+ year old Chardonnay vines are maturing nicely and were recently the sole vintage in the Chateau Chantal 2016 30-year-vineyard Anniversary Reserve Chardonnay ($30). This barrel-fermented wine is very representative of Michigan Chardonnay with layers of lemon, peaches, green apples, creamy texture, slight vanilla, and finishing with lifting acids. A delicious wine. Cheers.

Visiting the Napa Valley Hess Collection Winery


This post is by Marisa D'Vari from Wine Region Travel & Reviews: A Wine Story


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Hess Collection winery

Hess Collection winery

Visiting the Napa Valley Hess Collection Winery

If you love art and wine, you are eager to visit the Hess Collection winery in California’s Napa Valley.

You might have heard about Hess Collection Chardonnay, rich and buttery, and available in your higher end supermarket or fine wine shop.

Hess Collection Winery makes wine from many different wine varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as the various blends.

History of the Napa Valley Hess Collection Winery

It’s really fascinating to hear the history of the Hess Collection Winery.

The Winery was created by Donald Hess, who inherited his father’s company at the age of 20 in the earlier part of the last century.

In 1959, the family was very successful with their mineral water company in Europe.

But in the mid 1970s Donald came to the USA to see how the market was for mineral …

Wine Tasting at Hess Collection Winery

February notes


This post is by Edward from Wino sapien


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Midway through the lunar festival and the chance to open and revisit some older bottles. . .

Not in picture – a green skinny bottle of unsurprisingly fresh and pert Grüner. Prager Hinter Der burg 2008. 12%. Screwcap. Pale, peppery and primary. Peach, pollen and polished stone. Super texture – in retrospect, like a mouth full of citrus and white flowers. Lovely acidity and poise. My drinking companion thought it was a 2018 riesling – so fresh. It’s the more expensive (though I’ve long forgotten the price) sibling to this bottle that I tried a decade ago.

Also unseen – a bottle of 2010 Mountadam Chardonnay. It’s become a butter ball – round and full, very old school / 1980’s in shape and accent. Butterscotch and almond meal. In passing.

The half bottle of the 2011 Lake’s Folly Caberents is starting to turn I think. Still …

Visiting Clos Pegase Estate Winery Calistoga Napa Valley


This post is by Marisa D'Vari from Wine Region Travel & Reviews: A Wine Story


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Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Visiting Clos Pegase Estate Winery in the Calistoga AVA of Napa Valley

When people think of Clos Pegase Estate Winery in the Napa Valley, they think of mainly three things:

  1. Clos Pegase Chardonnay
  2. Clos Pegase Cabernet Sauvignon
  3. The famous architecture of the Clos Pegase Estate Winery, and the art collection within.

My recent visit to the Hess Collection Winery, with its extensive art collection, alerted me to the presence of another winery with an impressive art collection: The Clos Pegase Estate.

Origins of the Clos Pegase Estate Winery

The original owner and creator of Clos Pegase was Jan Shrem.

He was born in Columbia to Jewish-Lebanese parents.

After emigrating to the USA as a child, he made his way through the University of California, at Los Angeles selling encyclopedias.

Then he parlayed this experience into …

Wine of the Day, No. 460


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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So, what do you want in a chardonnay wine made in California? Lushness, oak, spice and tropical flavors? Or spareness, elegance and minerality? Somehow the Eberle Winery Estate Chardonnay 2017, Paso Robles, manages to meld all those qualities into a perfectly integrated whole that should gratify adherents of either mode. Half the wine is made in stainless steel tanks, the other half in French oak, 25 percent new barrels. The color is bright medium gold; classic notes of pineapple and grapefruit are permeated by hints of cloves and jasmine, with touches of smoke and quince preserves; the balance between a moderately dense texture and lithe, lively energy provides not just pleasure but a kind of thrill on the palate. This chardonnay is dry but juicy and flavorful, all elements accruing to a burgeoning limestone quality through the finish. 14.5 percent alcohol. Production was 2,797 cases; the winery should make …

Weekend Wine Notes: 12 Excellent Wines to Begin the Year


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Actually, the title of this post is a misnomer. What I offer today, in the first Weekend Wine Notes of 2019, are 10 wines that rate Excellent and two that rate Exceptional, the latter both pinot noirs from different regions of California. Also included in this diverse roster are a Gewurztraminer 2012 from Alsace; a chardonnay from Sonoma Coast; two sauvignon blancs, one from New Zealand, the other from Tuscany; a monumental cabernet/shiraz blend from Australia’s McLaren Vale region as well as an equally monumental 100 percent shiraz from Padthaway; two wines from Costières de Nîmes in the Southern Rhone Valley, one white, one red; a Spätlese Riesling from Rheingau, in Germany; and a stylish merlot from Walla Walla, Washington. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the technical, historical and geographical data that I dote on for the sake of quick and incisive reviews ripped, as it …

30 Great Wine Bargains of 2018, $20 and Under


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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The title of this post needs no elaboration, but I’ll inform you that prices range from $7.50 to $20. It’s a diverse group of wines. Seven from France; 6 California; 5 Italy; 2 each Argentina, Australia, Chile and Oregon; 1 each Bulgaria, Germany, Portugal and South Africa. (Welcome, Bulgaria!) By genre or hue: 1 sparkling wine; 3 rosé; 10 red and 16 white. As a matter of fact, the 30 wines on this roster would make a great restaurant wine list. So, enjoy! In moderation, of course.

With one exception, these wines were samples for review.
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Albert Bichot Bourgogne Aligoté 2015, Burgundy, France. Excellent. About $16.
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Amalaya Malbec 2016, Salta, Mendoza, Argentina. With 10 percent tannat, 5 petit verdot. Excellent. About $16.
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Domaine Bousquet Gaia Tupungato White Blend 2016, Mendoza, Argentina. 50 percent chardonnay, 35 pinot gris, 15 sauvignon blanc. Excellent. About $18.
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Domaine …

All The Range: Not Just Malbec From Argentina #WinePW


This post is by Jill Barth from L'OCCASION


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Argentine Wine
Photo Credit: Jill Barth

My first visit to South America was last year and I must say that before the trip (it was to Uruguay), I realized that many American wine consumers think that South America is all Malbec.

Well, pretty much all Malbec.

While it is true that Malbec may be a signature grape in Argentina, it isn’t all that grows there. According to Wines of Argentina data, Malbec runs about 36% of red wine. Next up, with about 16.5%, is Bonarda. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and trickle down from there.

Flip the script to white wines and the biggest cultivar is Torrontés Riojano at about 20% then Chardonnay with 16%. Following are Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Torrontés Sanjuanino. Interestingly, the biggest category for white wines is “other”, socking the system at nearly 43%. Wine friends, you know you want to swim around in the “other” category …

Amado Sur

The Chardonnay that Leverages the Chalk Hill AVA and Estate


This post is by Todd Godbout from WineCompass


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The Chalk Hill Estate Winery benefits from tremendous name recognition based on the winery’s outstanding reputation but also from the surrounding Chalk Hill AVA. This appellation, one of thirteen in Sonoma County, is located between the cooler Russian River appellation to the west and the warmer Alexander Valley to the northeast. The Chalk Hill AVA is slightly higher with lower soil fertility with the top soil a “distinctive layer of chalk-colored volcanic ash which inspired the name of Chalk Hill, the appellation, and the estate”. Within both the AVA and Estate reside several microclimates with the lower cooler sites more suited for Chardonnay used in the Chalk Hill Estate 2016 Chardonnay ($42). The vines were planted using Vertical Viticulture techniques where the rows were planted to follow the rise of the terrain. Cover crops prevent erosion and the layout allows breezes and sun exposure which translates to acidity and ripeness. …

Toasted Goat Winery and the History of Frostburg Maryland


This post is by Todd Godbout from WineCompass


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In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson authorized the construction of the National Road – the first major highway in the United States built by the federal government and linking the western territories to east coast cities. Specifically, the 620-mile pike was built between 1811 and 1837 and allowed goods and settlers to move considerable easier between the Potomac and Ohio Rivers. Early in the surveying period, “Meshach Frost built the first house in present-day Frostburg in 1812 (on the present-day the site of St. Michael’s Church and Rectory)” In 1820 the growing town was named Frostburg and the community continued to grow even as the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal reached the Cumberland area in the mid 1800s. In fact, the railroads accelerated the local economy by providing transportation for the coal industry in which Meshach Frost also helped develop through the Frostburg Coal Company. …