If I Could Save Time in a Bottle

This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head

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Isn’t that what wine is? Time saved in a bottle? I don’t mean the pinot grigio you snatch off the grocery store shelf or the tidy little Central Coast red blend you knock back with a cheeseburger. Drink ’em; enjoy ’em; forget ’em. I mean the wines built to last, the wines acknowledged to reflect an appellation or specific vineyard, the wines inextricably tied to geography, climate and soil, all the elements that give wine character and soul. These are, ideally at least, the wines that embody a sense of time and place, of incremental transformation as they rest in the bottle in dark, chilly seclusion, gradually, over the years, throwing off the mantles of tannin and oak to reach mature mellowness and the apotheosis of their personalities. Even in their decline, such wines offer lessons in the necessity of the long view, of patience, of respect.

And what is …

McIntyre 2015 Kimberly Vineyard Merlot: If anyone orders Merlot, I’m staying!

This post is by Dezel Quillen from My Vine Spot

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Hello Friends,

Released nearly fifteen years ago, Sideways remains one of the most successful wine movies of all time. The film’s wine-centric character Miles praised Pinot Noir, while his passionate refusal to drink Merlot decreased public demand for it in the States so much, the measurable drop in sales was dubbed “the Sideways Effect.” I totally embrace both varietals, and since there will never be another wine movie quite like Sideways, for about a decade now I have hosted an annual get-together with a small circle of friends to watch the film for the umpteenth time. Guests are asked to bring a bottle each of Merlot and Pinot Noir, and to make sure both are proven winners.

McIntyre 2015 Kimberly Vineyard Merlot 

The good news is, I’ve already found my bottle of Merlot for this year’s viewing: McIntyre 2015 Kimberly Vineyard Merlot. McIntyre Vineyards is owned by long-time …

Virginia Wine Chat – Virginia Governor’s Case Wines – Part II

This post is by WineCompass from WineCompass

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Last week we posted on the first phase of the Virginia Wine Chat in Virginia Wine Chat – Virginia Governor’s Case Wines – Part 1. A couple days later we focused on the second half dozen wines with most affiliated with longtime Virginia winemaker Michael Shaps.  The tasting started with two white wines, one from Virginia’s always reliable Barboursville Vineyards, the other from Michael Shaps and another example of how Petit Manseng is rising in stature.  These were followed by three red wines – all made by Michael Shaps – but for three different wineries.  And finally, the session ended with a dessert Petit Manseng which illustrates how the grape’s natural acidity elevates the addition of residual sugar.  Next month the results of the 2020 Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition will be released.  I’m sure Shaps and Barboursville will be among the gold medalist winners.

Barboursville …

30 Great Wine Bargains of 2019

This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head

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In a sense, the “30 Great Wine Bargains of 2019” is more instructive that the “50 Great Wines of 2019” that I posted a few days ago. The latter is a proposition for dreaming; the former is about realistic goals and purchasing. Prices range from $10 to $20. The proportion is two sparkling wines (both Cava but different styles); three rosé wines (also of different styles); 16 whites and nine reds. Geographically, the breadth includes California (8), Italy (5), France and Spain (3 each), Oregon and South Africa (2 each), and Argentina, Austria, Chile, Germany, New Zealand, Portugal and Slovenia (1 each). Call us diverse, here at BTYH! Looking at this roster, I can’t help thinking what a great and reasonably-priced list this would make for restaurants and by-the-glass programs. Anyway, enjoy, in moderation, of course.

These wines were generally samples for review.


Aia Vecchia Vermentino 2017, Toscana, …

18 Significant Cabs and Cab Blends, Mostly Napa Valley

This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head

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Some grapes flourish in specific geographical, geological and climatic locations. Pinot noir and chardonnay in Burgundy, sangiovese in Tuscany, riesling in Alsace and several regions in Germany, cabernet sauvignon and merlot in Bordeaux, tempranillo in Rioja, to cite only a few examples in the Old World. In the New World, it took a 150 years or so to sort out the terroirs and micro-climates that would nurture certain grape varieties; the initial impulse was just to plant vineyards everywhere. Gradually, in states like California and Oregon, rational examination over the years convinced producers that defined areas are more suited to some grape varieties than others. Of course, in Europe such matters are regulated by national governments and the EU. In the United States, no one tells anyone where they can or can’t plant grapes. Still, I think it’s pretty widely accepted that Napa Valley produces world-class cabernet sauvignon wines, while, …

cakebread cab
corison cab
ehlers cab
mallacomes 16
peaks 16 label
smith cab
sullivan cab

Weekend Wine Notes: An Eclectic Array

This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head

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Well, this one was fun. I offer 12 wines, mostly red but some interesting whites, deriving from regions and vineyards all over the place. The roster includes two California merlots of different but equally compelling styles; an “orange” riesling from Oregon; a light-hearted and refreshing zinfandel from Mendocino; a couple of blends from the South of France, one a rosé; two very interesting and unusual red blends from Paso Robles; a textbook malbec from Mendoza that delivers good value at $15. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the geographical, historical and technical data that I dote upon for the sake of quick and incisive notices, ripped, as it were, from the stained pages of my bedraggled notebooks. The intention is to pique your interest and whet your palate. Enjoy, in moderation, please.

These wines were samples for review.



Breaking Bread Zinfandel 2018, Redwood Valley, Mendocino. …

flora merlot
Basic RGB
troon whole reisling

Keep Warm During Halloween with Exitus Bourbon Barrel Aged Red Wine

This post is by WineCompass from WineCompass

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During previous Halloween’s, I would accompany the little boy with a coffee mug filled with either bourbon or red wine. Now that a chaperone is no longer wanted or needed, I distribute candy outside in order to chat with neighbors. Thus a warming beverage is still desired and this year I’m combining bourbon and red wine with the 2017 Exitus Bourbon Barrel Aged Red Wine ($20). This Zinfandel based blend (Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Merlot) rests three months in charred American oak barrels previously filled with Kentucky Bourbon. This aging provides additional layers of toasted oak, baking spices, and tobacco which compliments the dense fruit and chocolate core. The finish is smooth with easy tannins – but the subtle heat at 15.9% abv will keep you warm. Cheers and Happy Halloween.

Disclosure: We received samples from Exitus Wines in order to share our opinion about their …

Foolproof Pairing for #MerlotMe Month

This post is by Jill Barth from L'OCCASION

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Photo Credit: Jill Barth

October is International Merlot Month with November 7th chosen as #InternationalMerlotDay. Here’s how to celebrate the flagship event of the season, #MerlotMe, with pairings that work well, work easily and work ready for anything.


I love the ring of the name: like, gimme a glass of Merlot, willya? It’s a celebration of ease of enjoyment, the versatility, the history and the abundance of high-quality bottles from around the world.

For more reading, here’s my Merlot toolbox:

Washington State Merlot Charms With Quality And Taste

Evenings with Merlot

Merlot: The Busy One

#MerlotMe in the Kitchen

The 2019 event will be the seventh annual celebration of #MerlotMe and the fifth year our Wine Pairing Weekend writers’ group has participated. The #MerlotMe event gathers enthusiasts and producers in the name of enjoying this variety, which is the “third leading red varietal after Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Blends …

food arrangement in a rectangular white plate close up photography

Wine of the Day, No. 519

This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head

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2015Merlot2mbThe Pope Valley Winery Merlot 2016, Napa Valley, takes us on a journey through the grape’s wilder, spicier and more herbal aspects. Here’s where readers say, “Merlot has a wilder, spicier side? You’re making this merlot sound like zinfandel or petite sirah.” Well, yes, who’s to say what the actual character of the merlot grape is or the wines made from it? Sometimes I wonder if it’s best just to leave merlot as a blending grape with cabernet sauvignon and forgo the pure varietal route. On the other hand, this 100 percent varietal example, aged 22 months in French oak, 30 percent new barrels, is a red wine of attractive and tasty detail and dimension.  The color is deep, dark ruby shading to a lighter mulberry-hued rim; notes of spiced and macerated black currants and raspberries are permeated by hints of cloves and cinnamon bark, rosemary and dried thyme, …

Wine of the Day, No. 516

This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head

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The Thienpont family has owned Chateau Puygueraud since 1946. The 47-hectare estate, about 116 acres, in the Francs-Côtes de Bordeaux puyappellation is the family’s home, though they also own the prestigious Pomerol properties Vieux-Chateau-Certan and Le Pin. The vineyards at Puygueraud — 42 hectares of black grapes, 5 of white — were replanted in the 1970s and go through a deliberate and continuous process of replanting. The estate is managed now by Nicolas Thienpont and his son Cyrille. Chateau Puygueraud 2014 is a blend of 75 percent merlot, 20 percent cabernet franc and 5 percent malbec; no cabernet sauvignon is grown.  The wines here typically age 12 to 16 months in oak, one-third new barrels each year. The color is opaque black-purple with a lighter violet rim; classic aromas of black currants and raspberries open to scents of cedar and tobacco, graphite and lavender, with a touch of …

The Wines of Tuscany – with Frescobaldi

This post is by GrapeRadio Bunch from GrapeRadio – Wine Talk Show

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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

Click Below to Play the Show:

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.


Villa Maria’s First Sip Of Summer

This post is by WineCompass from WineCompass

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This week Villa Maria Estate presented their seasonal #FirstSipNZ witter campaign and this chat featured a trio of ready for summer wines.  The winery is one of New Zealand’s most famous having operated for six decades starting as a one acre – one man shop in 1961 and growing to where founder George Fistonich is inducted to Restaurant and Hospitality Hall of Fame.  Fortunately, these wineries are widely distributed across the United States so here are some tweets why you may want to pick up a bottle or two…

Villa Maria 2018 Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough ($14)

The grapes were sourced from the Awatere and Wairau Valleys – spreading from coastal Wairau to a higher altitude in Awatere (900 feet). This provides a  mixture of warmer and cooler vineyard sites which showcase the herbal and tropical notes.

Wine of the Day, No. 502

This post is by Fredric Koeppel from Bigger Than Your Head

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Chateau Cap Leon Veyrin stands in isolation at the northern border of the Listrac-Medoc appellation. Situated far inland of the D2 road that runs through the premier regions known for the top-rated and famous estates, Listrac-Medoc is a slightly hilly area — as hilly as it gets in Bordeaux — of forests and vineyards that grow on well-drained layers of gravel soil. The estate dates back to 1810; it was acquired by the Meyre family in 1908. Current owner is Alain Meyre. The vineyard is planted to about 55 percent merlot, 40 percent cabernet sauvignon and 5 percent petit verdot. The unpretentious chateau is available for guests. The estate of 32 hectares — about 79 acres — is classified as Cru Bourgeois. Chateau Cap Leon Veyrin 2015 is a blend of 57 percent merlot, 40 percent cabernet sauvignon and 3 percent petit verdot, aged 12 months in oak, 25 percent …

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

This post is by from Bigger Than Your Head

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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 …

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 …

Sumagiyya and more

This post is by from Wino sapien

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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 …

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 …