The Wines of Tuscany – with Frescobaldi


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The Frescobaldi family have been producing wine in Tuscany for over 700 years. Suffice to say they know a thing or two about wine growing and wine selling. From their introduction of Chardonnay and Merlot to the region in 1855, to their joint ventures with Robert Mondavi, the Frescobaldi’s have maintained an extraordinary legacy.

Join us as we talk with Nicolò D’Afflitto, Director of Winemaking for all seven estates, about wine growing, Tuscany and its culture, and the Frescobaldi’s history in this beautiful region of Italy.

For more info:
Frescobaldi: frescobaldi.it/

Sponsor: Wine Berserkers: www.wineberserkers.com

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Show #429
(56:01 min 54.5 MB)

Cullen Diana Madeline 2001


This post is by Edward from Wino sapien


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14%. Cork – mostly stained. 75% Cabernet 25%: Merlot.

The third encounter. . . 18 years old, mature and in slow and gentle decline. Deeply coloured, a leafy nose – blackcurrant and leather, lead pencil, it smells medium blue. . . Soft and lush in mouth; big and bold with fine milk chocolate tannins and a balsamic edge.

Before.

Weekend Wine Notes: Six at $14 and Under


This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head


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Sometimes delicious and delightful rate highest on our pleasure scale. And inexpensive? Oh yes, always inexpensive where quality is appropriate. Today I offer six delicious and delightful wines wines priced from $10 to $14 that will make your weekend — and the rest of the week — a bounty of drinking pleasure, three whites, two rosés, one red. Originating in Italy and Argentina, these wines are primarily light-hearted, fleet and highly drinkable, perfectly matched for the cuisine of patio, porch, picnic and, in the case of the Renzo Masi Chianti 2018 that concludes this post, meaty fare hot from the grill. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the data of history, geography and technical matters — much as I dote upon that information — for the sake of quick incisive reviews meant to whet your palate and pique your interest. Enjoy! Always in moderation.

These wines …

Wine of the Day, No. 499


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I like wines that feel true to their grape varieties yet express a sense of individuality, even wildness. Such is the case with the Newton Vineyard Unfiltered Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Napa Valley. The wine is a blend of — and they get really precise about this — 85.27 percent cabernet sauvignon, 5.93 percent petit verdot, 5.74 merlot and 3.06 cabernet franc, It aged 14 months in French oak, only 15 percent new barrels, a remarkably restrained regimen for Napa Valley. The color is dark ruby-purple shading to a vivid fuchsia rim; penetrating aromas of iodine and graphite, lavender, smoke and cedar unfurl notes of intense and concentrated black currants and raspberries, bolstered by exotic, feral undertones of cumin, ancho chili and rosemary, with a bit of the latter’s resiny astringency. It’s a vigorous and rigorous cabernet that offers a freight-load of grit and traction on the …

Wine of the Day, No. 496


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All rosé wines are not made equal, but then nothing is, right? A Swatch is not a Philippe Patek. A Ford Fiesta is not a Porsche Panamera. While you’re enjoying this moment of philosophical meditation, let’s broach the subject of a superior rosé. This would be the Gamble Family Vineyards Rosé Wine 2018, Napa Valley, a blend of 66 percent cabernet sauvignon (from Oakville grapes), 21 percent cabernet franc, 8 percent merlot and 5 percent petit verdot, which could, of course, be the blend of a regular table wine. These grapes, however, were purpose-grown for rosé; the wine sees only stainless steel, no oak. (Yes, we occasionally encounter a rosé that aged in neutral oak barrels.) The color here is the classic Provencal pale onion skin hue; aromas of pure strawberry and raspberry are infused with notes of cranberry and pomegranate, blood orange and spiced pear, with damp flint …

15, 17


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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.

3 Secrets of Gamble Family Vineyards


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


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Tom Gamble of Gamble Family Vineyards

3 Secrets of Gamble Family Vineyards

Gamble Family Vineyards is exceptional.

You will find many excellent wineries in the Napa Valley.

Almost every winery today offers fabulous tours and tastings.

And almost every winery features excellent wine.

Yet when you visit a winery, you are not really in the position to understand the “secrets” behind the glitzy label and the showy winery facade.

Lunch with Tom Gamble of Gamble Family Vineyards

So during my lunch with Tom Gamble of Gamble Family Vineyards, I was able to understand the three secrets  that really made Gamble Family winery stand out.

First though, you should know that one of my favorite things about writing about wine is the opportunity to hear storytelling from passionate winemakers.

Tom Gamble is one of the best and most passionate storytellers in the wine world.

As Gamble Family Vineyards is such a …

Spring cuisine of Jean-Georges Vongerichten
Jean Georges dessert with Gable Family Vineyards wine
Tom Gamble and Marisa D'Vari

Wine of the Day, No. 490


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To read the material I get from marketers and PR folks, you’d think that a red wine blended from several grapes was a completely new phenomenon. They forget that many well-known European wines traditionally are blends — Bordeaux, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Chianti — and that New World producers often follow the lead of their Old World models. The problem with many of the red wine blends created recently, however, is that they taste exactly like that: red wine. Nothing distinctive appeals to nose or palate, and there’s little sense that the individual grape varieties contribute anything of character. Here, however, is an exception. Primus The Blend 2015, from the Apalta area of Chile’s Colchagua region, feels like an embodiment of its constituent elements — 40 percent cabernet sauvignon, 25 percent merlot, 24 carmenere, 8 petit verdot and 3 cabernet franc — that meld in expressive yet pointed harmony. The wine aged 12 …

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 …

Wine of the Day, No. 484


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The Red Hills AVA in Lake County was established in 2004. The soil is volcanic; Mt. Konocti, considered an active volcano, is nearby. Vineyards lie at elevations between 1,400 and 3,000 feet. Jed Steele, owner and winemaker at Steele Wines, has been making cabernet sauvignon from the area since 2002. The Steele Wines Red Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Lake County — it’s the county just north of Napa County — aged 18 months in a combination of French and French/American hybrid oak, 30 percent new barrels. The color is a riveting opaque black-purple shading to a transparent magenta rim; the bouquet is drenched with iodine and graphite, ripe black currants and cherries, permeated by notes of cedar and tobacco, violets, flint and loam. The wine impresses with its scintillating purity and intensity, its whiplash acidity and lip-smacking dusty tannins; yes, there’s a lot of personality here. A few minutes in …

Kin & Cascadia Showcase the Columbia and Willamette Valleys


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Winesellers Ltd., the family-owned global importer, recently expanded their portfolio into the Pacific Northwest by creating the Kin & Cascadia brand. The initial two offerings are a Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington’s Columbia Valley and a Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley — both arguably the premier wine regions in their respective states. Each is priced close to $15 providing excellent value.  Finally, don’t you love the contrasting bottle styles reflecting Bordeaux and Burgundy? Cheers.






2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley, Washington State ($15)
The grapes are sourced from vineyard sites in the Wahluke Slope AVA located near the edge of Red Mountain. The region is one of the driest, warmest climates in the state, perfect for Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyards are composed of sandy and alluvial soils with vine shoots on original roots as phylloxera has never been in Washington State.  For the price, this is a very …

Wine of the Day, No. 477


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Concerning my relationship with the cabernet sauvignon grape, winemaker Megan McGrath Gates hits all the right notes with the Lucas & Lewellen Valley View Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Santa Ynez Valley. The wine is a blend of 75 percent cabernet sauvignon with 7.5 percent each petit verdot and malbec, 5 percent each merlot and cabernet franc. It aged 21 months in French oak, 40 percent new barrels, a regimen that provides an oak framework that shapes the wine and lends suppleness without being obtrusive. The color is an intense ruby-purple hue that shades to a magenta rim; the bouquet seethes with elements of cedar and tobacco, black currants and cherries, mint and black olives; hints of briers and brambles, dust and graphite emerge after a few moments in the glass, influencing not only the nose but the palate. Deeply rooted black and red berry flavors are embraced by gritty …

Sumagiyya and more


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This Gazan beef stew was adapted from my favourite cookbook of the moment – Zaitoun. Warm and soft – a curious but wonderful mix of flavours – caraway, sesame, sumac, pomegranate, spinach and  melt in the mouth beef shin.

For six with leftovers:

In a large le creuset pot or similar fry 2 small onions (diced) in olive oil. After 5 minutes of so, which they have taken on some colour add 6 cloves of garlic which has been roughly chopped. Push to the side and then add 800g of cubed beef shin (1 inch pieces) which have been seasoned and dusted with cornflour. When suitably coloured add the base spices – 1.5 teaspoons each of ground coriander, allspice and whole caraway seeds. Before the spices burn – add 500mls of chicken stock and 2 tablespoons of tomato puree. The meat should be just covered with liquid. Turn the …

The 2016 Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards Valley View Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon


This post is by Todd Godbout from WineCompass


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The Valley View Vineyard is a 35-acre hilltop vineyard in Santa Barbara County’s Santa Ynez Valley. Lucas & Lewellen Vineyards grows several Bordeaux grape varieties on this south facing vineyard which overlooks the Santa Ynez River primarily because it is slightly warmer than in neighboring eastern and northern appellations. On the lower plots, Cabernet Sauvignon calls home whereas Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot, and Malbec are planted. These grapes provide the juice for their excellent 2016 Valley View Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($25) – a 75% Cabernet Sauvignon wine filled in by these other grape varieties. Why just 75%? According to wine-maker Megan McGrath-Gates, each varietal input adds their distinctive “personalities” to the finished wine.  And after aging  21 months in 100% French oak barrels, the resulting wine provides fresh dark fruit, earthy tobacco, and a long juicy, tannic tail. A true bargain at this price point. 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


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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 …

Weekend Wine Notes: Nine Robust Reds for Superbowl Snacks


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Oh, sure, you’re thinking, “Hey, F.K., this is America! We drink beer when we watch the Super Bowl!” All right, I understand the issues involved, but even when you’re talking about barbecue nachos, baby-back ribs, Sloppy Joes, prime rib sliders, even certain varieties of chili and quesadillas, a large-framed, robust wine can be as appropriate as beer, though, I confess, not with super-spicy food laced with serranos and such. Anyway, following that premise, I offer nine examples of the sorts of wine you could serve this Sunday while watching two teams neither of which apparently deserve to be there contending on the gridiron of valor. Prices range from a comfortable $14 and $18, good for supplying bottles to crowds of football fans, up to $60. As usual with these Weekend Wine Notes I deliver no elements of technical, geographical or historical data for the sake of quick, …