Villa Maria’s First Sip Of Summer


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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.

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

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. 478


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Here’s the first sauvignon blanc from vintage 2018 that I’ve tried. The Samuel Charles Sauvignon Blanc 2018, High Valley, derives from a vineyard in Lake County that lies at 2,000 feet elevation. Made all in stainless steel, the wine offers a pale yet star-bright straw-gold hue and pert aromas of lime peel, grapefruit, spiced pear and jasmine. It’s very clean, crisp and lively on the palate, vibrant with starry acidity and a lean, lithe limestone element; a few minutes in the glass bring out notes of lilac and heather to bolster flavors of peach and roasted lemon, all backed by a touch of dried thyme. 13.7 percent alcohol. A charming and delightful sauvignon blanc. Excellent. About $25.

A sample for review.

Wine of the Day, No. 463


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You say that you like your sauvignon blanc fresh, breezy, snappy and fruity, but maybe not excessively fresh, breezy, snappy and fruity the way they emerge from New Zealand? Well, friend, I have the wine for you. The Two Angels Sauvignon Blanc 2017 derives from volcanic, stony soil that lies about 2,100 feet above sea level in the High Valley AVA, established in 2005. That’s in Lake County, directly north of Napa County. High Valley is cooled by maritime breezes that seep in from the west, making it the coolest of Lake County’s vineyard regions. The color of the Two Angels Sauvignon Blanc 2017 is very pale straw-gold; pert aromas of lime peel, guava and grapefruit open to winsome notes of tangerine, talc and lilac; lithe and spare on the palate, this sunny, leafy sauvignon blanc brings in herbal touches of bay and thyme with undertones of fennel and fig, …

Wine of the Day, No. 461


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The cool hillsides of northeastern Italy provide a fruitful climate for growing white wine grapes. Today we look at the Russiz Superiore Sauvignon 2017, produced by the Marco Felluga estate in the Collio region, officially Collio Goriziano, not to be confused with Colli Orientali del Friuli, which it borders on the west. Both are part of the greater Friuli-Venezia Giulia area that lies at Italy’s extreme northeastern extent that touches Austria and Slovenia, with the Adriatic Sea to the south. Despite what you might think, the city of Venice is not in this region. The Russiz Superiore Sauvignon 2017, composed of 100 percent sauvignon blanc grapes, fermented and aged 15 percent in oak barrels, 85 percent in stainless steel. The color is very pale straw-gold; enticing aromas of gooseberry, lime peel and grapefruit are wreathed by notes of fennel and celery seed, acacia and jasmine; a few minutes in the …

Weekend Wine Notes: 12 Excellent Wines to Begin the Year


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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 CostiĂšres de NĂźmes in the Southern Rhone Valley, one white, one red; a SpĂ€tlese 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


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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 rosĂ©; 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 …

Weekend Wine Notes: 12 Wines for (Last-Minute) Giving and Getting


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I had to insert the term “Last-Minute” to the title of this entry, which I should have posted on Friday or at least yesterday, because here it is, Sunday. Still, wine stores are open today in many states, and there’s always tomorrow. I picture My Readers on an endless whirl of parties, receptions, open houses, brunches, wassails, carol-singing and what-not, giddily essaying the Yuletide with customary joy and merriment. For any or all of these festive occasions you will require a bottle of wine as a present for your host or to contribute to the groaning board. If that’s not — let’s face it — the case, you may still need a bottle of wine to take to the family or friends dinner on Christmas Day. There should be a bottle here or several to suit every taste and credit card, six whites, six reds. The price range starts at …

2019 Wine Goal: Try Sauvignon Blanc From Uruguay


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Uruguay White wine
Photo Credit: Jill Barth

Sauvignon Blanc from Uruguay over-delivers on value, freshness and flavor. It’s affordable, interesting, food-friendly and delicious— balanced white wine for any season.

Where Is It?

Uruguay is located in South America, a country of just under 3.5M people nestled between neighbors Argentina to the west and Brazil to the east. The southern border of the country is coastal, shared with the mouth of the Rio de la Plata and the wide-open Atlantic Ocean into which it empties.

On the opposite side of the river lies Buenos Aires, a ferry ride away. The capital city is Montevideo which is located on the mid-Atlantic coast—drive a couple of hours east and experience Punta del Este, a beach resort city popular with jet-setters around the globe.

Where to Learn More?

I had the opportunity to visit Uruguay recently and in the course of the trip, I met the …

#GoGoldenBordeaux with Sweet Bordeaux


This post is by Todd Godbout from WineCompass


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Raise your hand if like me, you thought Sweet Bordeaux would refer to just the wonderful wines of Sauternes? I learned preparing for the Snooth facilitated #GoGoldenBordeaux tasting that Sauternes is one of ten appellations producing these dessert wines. Bordeaux is the only French region which allows for the development of Botrytis Cinerea – aka noble rot. And this derives from the region’s oceanic climate which alternates between humidity and heat. When the SĂ©millon, Sauvignon Blanc, or Muscadelle grapes hang on the vine a little past their harvest peak then noble rot ensues. This grape concentration produces a golden colored wine with intense aromas and flavors.

Sauternes
Its sweet wines come from the towns of Sauternes, Barsac, Preignac, Fargues and Bommes, located on the left bank of the Garonne, about forty kilometers south of Bordeaux. Its grapes are SĂ©millon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle. They are vinified according …

Weekend Wine Notes: 12 Wines, A Miscellany


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For today’s Weekend Wine Notes, I offer a diverse group of 12 wines — six white, six red — arranged according to ascending price within each color, the range altogether being $11 to $32, so nothing to make the credit card groan. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s something here for every taste and palate, including some unusual selections; we (mostly) aim to please at BTYH. As usual with the Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew technical, historical and geographical data — much as we might dote on those details — for the sake of quick, incisive reviews, ripped, as it were, from the pages of my notebooks and intended to pique your interest and whet your palate. Enjoy — in moderation, of course.

These wines were samples for review, as I am required to inform My Readers by authority of the Federal Trade Commission.
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Marco Felluga “Montgris” Riserva Pinot …

Nine Savory White Wines, Because Autumn Is Not All about Reds


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Let’s say that for dinner you’re having cod stew with leeks, potatoes and chorizo or a spicy shrimp risotto or grilled swordfish with a black pepper crust. This is not the time for a delicate, winsome little white wine and probably not even a lighter red, It’s the time for a savory white wine, earthy, bracing, saline. These are especially appropriate for these chilly Fall weeks that lead into Winter. Herein, I offer nine examples of such savory white wines, not really accommodating as aperitif quaffs, because of their assertive personalities, but certainly amenable for heartier fish and seafood dishes. Enjoy!
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The Apaltagua Reserva Pinot Gris 2017, San Antonio Valley, Chile, displays a pale straw-gold color and seductive aromas of mango and begonia, with notes of green olive and preserved lemon and a background of limestone and flint; the wine is quite lively and alluring on the palate, supple …

Wine of the Day, No. 441


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The color of the Justin Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Central Coast, is merely the first attractive aspect of the wine. A pale but radiant straw-gold hue with faint green highlights, it presages a sauvignon blanc notable for its brightness and subtlety. The wine was made all in stainless steel and did not undergo malolactic fermentation, the better to retain its elements of crispness, freshness and immediate appeal. Aromas of grapefruit, lime peel, pea shoot, celery leaf and caraway are enveloped in layers of lemon and lemon balm; a few moments in the glass unveil traces of gooseberry and jasmine, lemongrass and just a hint of mango. These qualities segue smoothly onto the palate, where the wine is amazingly brisk and bracing; it’s quite dry, yet juicy, leafy and savory, underpinned by scintillating limestone minerality and notes of lilac and licorice. 13.5 percent alcohol. Winemaker was Scott Shirley. Drink as …

A 2017 Sauvignon by The Sisters in New Zealand


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2017 Sauvignon Blanc from The Sisters in New Zealand

Last night we enjoyed a  2017 Sauvignon Blanc  produced by The Sisters in New Zealand. The wine was a light yellow color with a light green hue. The aroma reminded us of a tropical fruit salad. The taste included notes of papaya, pineapple, mango and  citrus-especially grapefruit. The mouthfeel was smooth yielding to bright acidity. Food pairing suggestions included: chicken, salads, seafood and Asian cuisine.  The wine had 12.5% alcohol. 

The front label of the Sauvignon Blanc features an image of a woman in black leaping up with excitement.  On the image is written, “‘I achieve many things every day. Say it., believe it, celebrate it. This is our time.”

We paired the Sauvignon Blanc with crostini, a sliced baguette topped with a combination of cheese, green onion and butter. This easy-to-prepare appetizer …

Weekend Wine Notes: Nine Wines at $13 and Under


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The title of today’s Weekend Wine Notes requires no explanation. I offer nine wines priced at $13 and under, each in a group of three, divided into Washington State, California and Italy’s Veneto region. Sorry to say that a couple of them are not recommended, but it happens, n’est-ce pas? As usual in this series, I omit detailed historical, technical and geographical data for the sake of brief reviews ripped, as it were, from the ages of my notebooks. Enjoy, in moderation, of course.

These wines were samples for review.
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The Washington State wines of Charles Smith stand out on any shelf they occupy, distinguished by their stark black and white labels heavy on the graphic elements, a collaboration with Danish designer Rikki Korff. They also distinguish themselves by their solid QPR — quality/price ratio.
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Band of Roses Rose 2017, Washington State. 12.5% alc. 100% pinot …

Drink from the Comptrollers Cup at Catoctin Breeze Vineyard


This post is by Todd Godbout from WineCompass


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Each year  the Maryland Wineries Association holds a state competition now named the Comptrollers Cup that is a blind tasting historically judged by fellow winemakers. This year other industry professionals such as sommeliers joined the panels and the Best in Show winner was a winery that I belong to their wine club: Catoctin Breeze Vineyard and their 2016 Estate Cabernet Franc

Catoctin Breeze is located north of Frederick Maryland on Route 15 between Thurmont and Emmitsburg.  It was founded in 2010 when Voytek Leon Fizyta planted two blocks of vines along a hill slightly east of the Catoctin Mountains. These blocks consisted of  Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Viognier.  The well draining, loose, alluvial soil contains some quartz deposits which assist in preventing frost prevention as well as the ripening of fruit.  The estate also receives a consistent breeze from Owen’s Gap – keeping the vines ventilated helping to …