Nalle Winery 2017 Sparkling Rosé of Pinot Noir: A Sparkling Good Time on #PinkSociety


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Hello Friends,

For the past few months, I’ve enjoyed participating in a rousing Twitter-based chat hosted by the good folks from The Pink Society. As the name suggests, this fun-loving bunch likes to pink it up. They discuss all things rosé in a friendly, non-pretentious manner. While the main pink party happens every three weeks, a conversation takes place on #PinkSociety every single day. I highly recommending following them; you’ll make friends fast and bonus points if you can bust a move!

One of the special guests on #PinkSociety that I recently had the pleasure of connecting with was proprietors Andrew and April Nalle of Nalle Winery. A small, fourth-generation farm winery, the family has grown grapes in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley since the 1920s, surviving prohibition—which lasted until 1933—by selling home winemaking kits and fruit other than wine grapes. For many subsequent years, all of their wine grapes …

Michael David Winery 2016 Inkblot Cabernet Franc: Not Your Average Franc


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Hello Friends,

Today’s Quick Sip is Michael David Winery 2016 Inkblot Cabernet Franc. Michael David Winery is named for brothers Michael and David Phillips, who established the winery portion of the business in 1984. The brothers are fifth-generation members of a longstanding farming family that has cultivated wine grapes since the early 20th century. Today, sixth-generation members share in the growth and success of the family-run business.

Michael David Winery is one of the more nationally recognized Lodi producers, with many of their wines available throughout the US. Their branding game is especially strong. Most consumers know the wines by their respective brands and distinctive label design, as opposed to the name of the producer: Michael David Winery. I recall several years ago when I returned from a wine trip to Lodi, a friend asking if I visited “The Seven Deadly Zins” winery. The Seven Deadly Zins was one of …

Acquiesce Winery 2018 Ingénue: Another Gem from Lodi’s only Dedicated White Wine Winery


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Hello Friends,
When it comes to growing wine grapes in Lodi, California, it’s not a matter of what grows well; it’s more like, what doesn’t grow well? Not many US wine regions offer such diversity, there are more than 100 grape varieties in production today. The region’s small, family-run wineries are pushing the quality envelope, producing wines that can truly compete on the world stage.
The landscape of the wine industry is as varied as the stories of the interesting mix of people behind the wines. Take, for example, Sue Tipton, proprietor and winemaker of Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards. Mrs. Tipton had a European experience by way of a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape—a wine from a highly-regarded appellation in the southern Rhône of France—in the mid-2000s. After this notable discovery, she was determined to make wines of similar character and quality in Lodi.
Acquiesce Winery 2018 Ingénue
A rebel with a …

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


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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 …

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


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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 

Jansz Tasmania Premium Rosé NV: A Sparkling Jewel on a Small Island


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Hello Friends,

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to taste wines from all over the world, from well-known and highly regarded regions to unexpected areas that are producing quality wines that are just waiting for your discovery. Nevertheless, there are some wine regions I hear more about than I savor. Australia’s southernmost state, the island of Tasmania, is one of them. The region enjoys cool-climate maritime influences and is recognized for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well as the production of Méthode Tasmanoise (traditional method) sparkling wines. While Tasmania represents a tiny percentage of Australia’s total wine production—and the region’s wines may be hard to find—just about everything I’ve tasted from the island has been delicious. In fact, I’m looking for more of this sparkler as I type. It is well deserving of both your attention and your table. For further information and where you can find this wine, …

Here’s a Livermore Gem! McKahn Family Cellars Viognier and Rosé of Grenache


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Hello Friends,

Today’s Quick Sip highlights two wines from McKahn Family Cellars. This small-batch, family-run operation was established in 2014 and is located in the beautiful Livermore Valley—which, by the way, is the birthplace of California Chardonnay. Their focus is on site-specific, Rhone-inspired wines. Fruit for their wines is sourced from select vineyards throughout California. The operation is a true family affair, with social media rock star Denise McKahn running daily operations. Denise began her career in the wine industry more than 25 years ago, with successful stints at two Livermore icons: Wente Vineyards and Concanon Vineyards.

A passion for wine runs through her veins, and that passion rubbed off on her son. Since the age of 15, Charles McKahn wanted to be in the wine industry. At age 26, he started making wines in Napa Valley, and today he helms his family’s business. The next time I visit Livermore, …

Wine with a View: Markus Wine Co., Stinson Vineyards, and Illahe Vineyards


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Hello Friends, 
I’m one of those people who likes to visit beaches during the offseason—particularly those in Delaware and Ocean City, Maryland. I go as often as I can; the solitude is unparalleled. You can say goodbye to traffic and crowds. Entertainment and events extend beyond summer, and some of my favorite restaurants (e.g., Hooked, The Shark on the Harbor, Liquid Assets, Our Harvest, etc.) are between Ocean City and Delaware.  There are also good deals to be had and awesome sunsets to be admired.
Wine with a View!

A wise old man once told me that the beach possesses healing powers, and I believe it—maybe doctors should prescribe going to the beach more. For me, the offseason is about relaxing, recharging, rejuvenating—and, of course, sipping. During the day, I usually check out a local brew or two at the source, or at one of the area’s …

Winter Slow-Cooker Beef and Porcini with Pedroncelli 2016 Bench Vineyards Merlot


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Hello Friends,

I have a delicious, easy-to-make slow-cooker recipe that’ll warm your winter and fill your wine glass. I don’t know about you, but I always cook with wine—a splash in the pot, and two in my glass (lol). Okay, seriously, Julie Pedroncelli St. John and husband Ed St. John, of Pedroncelli Winery, are amazing when it comes to food and wine pairings. They knocked this one out of the park! Pedroncelli Winery has been part of Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley for over ninety years, so they know what dishes work best with their wines.

Slow-Cooker Beef and Porcini Mushrooms

For this appetizing match, we’re pairing slow-cooker beef and porcini mushrooms with Pedroncelli 2016 Bench Vineyards Merlot. The wine and recipe are budget-friendly, prep is a cinch, and the dish can fill up a family of four with enough for leftovers. You’ll find that the wine complements, …

Attractive California Cabernet Sauvignon Picks: Flora Springs Winery, Addendum Wines, and Murrieta’s Well


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Hello Friends,

Nearly every day when wine o’clock approaches, you can find me uncorking or unscrewing a new adventure. Being a wine enthusiast, a wine writer, and someone who appreciates the liquid expression of place, a person’s vision, and Mother Nature’s influence, I find wine to be one of the most intriguing beverages around. The world of wine offers endless opportunities to learn and taste new things.

The wines featured in this post (the three Cs) are complex, complete, and compelling Cabernet Sauvignon wines. They are all from California, and from 2015—a vintage largely marked by warmth, drought, and accelerated harvest, which led to lower yields and high-quality fruit. Appealing, fruit-dominant Cabernet Sauvignon wines with big personalities are king of Napa Valley, and deservingly so. However, under-the-radar wine regions like Livermore Valley, situated just east of San Francisco, should not be overlooked—especially for medium- to higher-tier value.

With …

Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Wine Knowledge! Wine Folly: Magnum Edition: The Master Guide


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Hello Friends,

A bottle of wine can offer countless pleasures—trust me, I know. Yet the subject of wine can be very intimidating. I see this firsthand, during regular visits to wine shops and in-store tastings, and I’m talking basics: all Rieslings are sweet, all Chardonnay is oaky, old wines must be better, etc. I preach that expanding one’s wine knowledge will usually expand one’s enjoyment of wine. It’s worked for me. I also believe that the best learning comes from tasting wine and trying new things. That said, there is a good reason why my book shelves at home are filled with wine books.

A must-have wine book, regardless of your wine knowledge! 

On a press trip years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack, the dynamic duo behind Wine Folly. This was well before the first edition of the book came out, and …

Endless Summer with German White Wines Flight: Borell-Diehl, Weinreich, Koehler-Ruprecht, and Von Winning


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Hello Friends,

I recently had the opportunity to participate in Snooth’s ‘Endless Summer with German White Wines’ virtual broadcast and wine tasting. Mark and Claudia Angelillo of Snooth hosted special guest Matthew Kaner, Wine Director and partner of West Coast businesses Good Measure LA, Bar Covell, Augustine Wine Bar, and Dead or Alive Bar. Matthew knows that the key principles behind creating enjoyable dining experiences are to understand both the food you are serving and the wine. He’s been to Germany a few times, and the wines moved him. He told us, “The new world of German wines really made a push to make us understand there’s more than just Riesling; there’s a lot more to it, and a lot of different avenues you can go with these wines.”

With a built-in lightness and brightness, Germany produces some of the most versatile, food-friendly wines on …

Looks Good, Tastes Better Rosé Flight: Eric Kent Wine Cellars, Bedell Cellars, and Babylonstoren


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Hello Friends,

I recently had an opportunity to discuss design influence on rosé wine labels on #winestudio, an educational conversation about wine that takes place on Twitter every Tuesday at 9PM EST. Come mid to late spring, when the weather warms up, you are likely to see walls and walls of rosé, in myriad shades of pink, lining shelves at your local wine shop and grocer. And as competition heats up, so does creativity. Many producers pour (pun intended) great emphasis into label aesthetics. A bottle needs to say: “I caught you looking, so buy me, chill me, and try me.” For retailers, summer is peak time to promote and sell rosé. During the warm months, pink wines along with varietals like Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, are usually recurring staples of free in-store weekend tastings.

“The pursuit of making fine wine goes on forever. Each vintage brings new …

Loimer NV Brut Rosé: A Wow-Worthy Sparkling Wine from Austria


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Hello Friends,

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: “While all Champagne sparkles, not all sparkling wine is Champagne.” The terms are often used interchangeably, but a sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region of France. And just about everyone, at least in my sipping circle, enjoys the heck out of a good bottle of Champagne. However, equally as satisfying and worthy—and oftentimes less expensive—are “traditional method” sparkling wines like this appealing Brut Rosé from Fred Loimer. Whether you see classic method, traditional method, méthode traditionelle, etc. on the label, these wines require that the bubbles be produced within bottle by a second fermentation in the same way as Champagne. While this method is more labor intensive, time-consuming and costly, it generally produces tiny, longer-lived bubbles and wines of high quality and complexity.

Loimer NV Brut Rosé

The Loimer Brute Rosé is bio-dynamically …

Loimer NV Brut Rosé: A Wow-Worthy Sparkling Wine from Austria


This post is by Dezel Quillen from My Vine Spot


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Hello Friends,

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: “While all Champagne sparkles, not all sparkling wine is Champagne.” The terms are often used interchangeably, but a sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region of France. And just about everyone, at least in my sipping circle, enjoys the heck out of a good bottle of Champagne. However, equally as satisfying and worthy—and oftentimes less expensive—are “traditional method” sparkling wines like this appealing Brut Rosé from Fred Loimer. Whether you see classic method, traditional method, méthode traditionelle, etc. on the label, these wines require that the bubbles be produced within bottle by a second fermentation in the same way as Champagne. While this method is more labor intensive, time-consuming and costly, it generally produces tiny, longer-lived bubbles and wines of high quality and complexity.

Loimer NV Brut Rosé

The Loimer Brute Rosé is bio-dynamically …

Nino Franco Summer Kir: A Refreshing Cocktail to try with Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco and Root 23


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Hello Friends,

Nino Franco is one of the quality pioneers of Italian Prosecco. The winery was founded in 1919 by Antonio Franco and is located in northeastern Italy in the prominent wine growing region of Valdobbiadene. Nino Franco’s Rustico label honors the historic name of the original method used to make Prosecco, which was second ferment in bottle. Pressurized vessels are used today in what is known as the Charmat method. This method lowers the cost considerably, so sparkling wine can enjoyed any time of year, not only during celebratory occasions and holidays.

Beat the heat with this delicious, pretty cocktail! 

Classic cocktails such as the Mimosa and Bellini, which uses Prosecco and other sparkling wines, are delightful, but let’s kick it up a notch with something new and exciting. How does a flute or coupe of Nino Franco Summer Kir sound? You need only three ingredients: a bottle …

Iapetus 2016 Tectonic: A Delicious Skin-Contact La Crescent from Vermont


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Hello Friends,

Vermont may be one of the last states you think of for producing fine wine. However, for those with an open-mind and an adventurous palate, hidden gems await you. Despite seeing wines from only a handful of well-known states on most store shelves, today wine is produced in all fifty states. The trick is finding these wines. Social media provides an avenue to develop relations with small-scale wine producers you wouldn’t otherwise find in your local market.

Iapetus 2016 Tectonic

During a recent virtual chat on #winestudio—an online education program on Twitter that happens every Tuesday at 9PM EST—I had the pleasure of meeting Ethan Joseph. Ethan is vineyard manager and head winemaker of Shelburne Vineyard in Shelburne, Vermont. We were introduced to Iapetus (pronounced ī-ˈa-pə-təs); a new sub-brand he developed that’s committed to sustainable farming and minimal intervention, allowing each bottle crafted to fully express …

#ChardonnayDay with Wines from America’s First Family of Chardonnay: Wente Vineyards


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Hello friends,

What better way to spend #ChardonnayDay than with wines from the family often dubbed “America’s First Family of Chardonnay”?  The story of Wente Vineyards began in 1883, when founder Carl H. Wente, a first-generation immigrant from Germany, bought 47 acres in Livermore Valley (just east of San Francisco). By 1912, his son Earnest had convinced him to import Chardonnay cuttings from the vine nursery at University of Montpellier in France. In 1936, Earnest and his brother Herman released the nation’s first varietally labeled Chardonnay. The original plantings would eventually become certified as the Wente Clone, and spread throughout myriad California vineyards. It is estimated that more than 80 percent of all California Chardonnay stems from the Wente clone. Today, Wente remains the oldest continuously running family-owned and-operated winery in the United States.

The #ChardonnayDay lineup!

Although Wente grows a number of grape varieties, make no mistake: …

A Trio of Fun & Affordable Warm-Weather Wines: Segura Viudas, Nik Weis Selection, and Adegas Galegas


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Hello Friends,

Just about every day, as wine o’clock approaches, you can find me uncorking or unscrewing a new adventure. Being a wine enthusiast, a wine writer, and someone who appreciates the liquid expression of place, a person’s vision, and Mother Nature’s influence, I find wine to be one of the most intriguing beverages out there. The world of wine offers endless opportunities to learn and taste new things.

The wines featured for this post, two from Spain and one from Germany, are easy-drinking, refreshing wines that perfectly match the warm weather season. They are also reasonably priced and very satisfying. I hope you will seek out all three, and share them with friends over a good meal. Tapas would be ideal, hint-hint. For further information and where you can find these wines, please see my tasting notes below.
Segura Viudas NV Brut Rosé 
Segura Viudas NV Brut Rosé (SRP …

Chicken with Prunes and Chiles, paired with Pedroncelli Winery Springtime Sips!


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Hello Friends,

Getting together with friends online for virtual cooking and wine tasting is always a blast. And no one does it better than the good folks at Pedroncelli Winery. They totally rocked a chicken dish that called for chile peppers and prunes (yes, I said prunes) as key ingredients. Initially, I found the duo interesting, if not odd; I thought the flavors would surely collide. Boy, was I wrong! The dish was delightful and I’ve already made it a second time.

The recipe turned out great. I grilled my chicken on a pellet smoker. Not pictured are the bed of cauliflower rice, house salad, and a generous spoonful of sauce over the bird.  

This thoughtful dish came with a dash of history about the wrinkly fruit featured in the recipe. As Vice President of Sales and Marketing Ed St. John said, “prunes replaced grapes because prohibition …