Archived entries for Argentinian Wines

Johnny Schuler, the Pisco Man of Portón Tells His Story

I found Johnny Schuler, Master Distiller of Portón, holding court at The Porch last week with 38 mixologists hanging on his every word and tasting creations made with Pisco as they prepared and brainstormed for a “best cocktail” competition at Victor Tango’s.  Schuler is one of the top Pisco authorities in the world, and has been credited with single-handedly revitalizing Peru’s native drink.

His passion for Pisco started in 1977 when he was a well-known chef and restaurateur.  Johnny was a regular on the international spirits tasting circuit and was asked to help judge a competition.  He was ambivalent about the spirit at the time as he thought it wasn’t sophisticated.  During the competition however, there was a certain Pisco that he described as “love at first sip” as it had such a “robust and unique flavor”.  It quickly went from an interest to a hobby to a passion. 

For 20 years he’s been dedicated to bringing the government (INDECOPI) and private sectors to regulate the Pisco industry in Peru as the president of the National Tasters Guild.  In 2010, he was considering retirement at age 63 when he was approached by Bill and Brent Kallop, the founders of Portón, where he was tasked with creating an ultra-premium Pisco for the U.S. market.  “It was a miracle that happens once in a lifetime – I had the license to creative the ultimate spirit.”  The contract was never actually signed; it was a Texas handshake deal.

Johnny’s the host of Por Las Rutas del Pisco, which is aired in Latin America and the U.S. and he has written several books on Pisco.  Right now he’s primarily focusing on getting the word out about the versatility of the beverage through mixologists and chefs.  “It’s the hot new ingredient to use,” he said.

Johnny is still dreaming of recreating the Pisco experience that he had in 1977. “I’m dreaming of the one that I haven’t tasted.”  He also has a philosophy that I agree with about making a quality Pisco that sometimes evades Texans.  “We shouldn’t be proud of it because it is Peruvian, we should be proud of it because it is good.”

You can tell his passion and how involved he is with every aspect of making Portón.  “Nothing is bottled until my nose approves it,” he said. We tried two cocktails and a Pisco straight up, chilled in the right glass, which tasted of honeysuckle, orange blossom, violet, floral notes and was very smooth.  “The American market is a cocktail culture and certainly has embraced Pisco,” he continued.

To be considered authentic, Pisco must be made from one or a blend of eight traditional grape varietals including Quebranta, Common Black, Mollar, Italia, Muscat, Albilla, Torontel and Uvina).  In Portón, the torontel grapes are made in the mosto verde method, which means the distillate is made from grape juice that has not completely fermented.  Because some of the natural grape sugars do not convert to alcohol, the original flavor and aroma of the grape are kept.  Of the 280 distillers who make Pisco, no more than ten make it in this style.  The SRP is $39.99.

Johnny talked about his personal philosophy.  “I don’t believe in luck.  The more I worked, the luckier I was,” he said.  He’s got some big plans for the brand and the passion and energy to pull it off.

 


Fine Wine On Tap Changes Dallas Wine By the Glass Landscape at Savor (and Beyond)

As I am in technology marketing for my paying gig, I am all about watching innovation and disruption change industries and I love watching transformations.  Google.  Apple.  Twitter. Uber.  All companies that pushed the envelope and changed the way we search, compute, live and ride. 

But let’s face it.  The wine industry has not been known for innovation and there has been a “what’s old is right mentality.” So anytime that I’m pitched a chance to talk to someone in the wine industry that is doing something different beyond a new app, you can sign me up almost immediately.

John Coleman and Dan Donahoe

I had the chance to sit down with Savor’s Executive Chef John Coleman and Free Flow Wines Co-Founder and Chairman Dan Donahoe to talk about their partnership in bringing the first premium wines on tap to Dallas.  It all started with a phone call.  John self-described himself as someone who finds it a challenge to find people who may or may not want to be found.  And, he wanted to bring innovation and “out of the box thinking” to Dallas in the form of premium wine on tap to his restaurant. A long-term friendship and business partnership was formed.

These guys are passionate about their business. And, the business benefits are impressive.  Savor is now the number one stand-alone top volume restaurant for wines on tap in the country.  Yes, Dallas – home of Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay playdates and big steakhouse upcharged “premiere brands” – wins in wine innovation. 

Let’s talk about the benefits.  The keg packaging removes hundreds of tons of packaging waste from the environment.  I was there when Republic showed up to deliver the barrels.  At 58 pounds apiece, they seemed as easy as bringing in a few cases of wine.  If you’ve been to Savor, you know they don’t have a lot of space.  What they do with some many diners in such a small kitchen is pretty amazing.  And, the consistency is the real kicker.  Every glass of wine is guaranteed fresh – every single time.  I just had a great glass of one of my French favorites during a business trip to Houston.  It had turned and I sent it back.  That gets expensive for restaurants. 

I had the chance to tap my personal glass of wine.  It was lightning fast and the J Vineyards Pinot Gris tasted exactly like it did when I hung out with Winemaker Melissa Stackhouse from J Vineyards.

Now the brands.  There are some big boys embracing this technology – Arietta, Frog’s Leap, J Vineyards, MINER, Paul Dolan Vineyards, Robert Craig, Trefethen Family Vineyards – even Va Piano, one of my great winery finds in Walla Walla. Right now, 140 wine brands are shipping their juice to Free Flow Wines where they ship to 43 states.  It is pumped into ten staging tanks in a 22,000 square foot facility based in Napa and put into over 7,000 kegs where it is shipped across country.  It gives restaurants and consumers the opportunity to feature more “off the beaten path” wines at little risk.  And, wine geeks like me respond with open arms.

Savor offers eight whites by the glass, half carafe and carafe ranging from $9 for the glass to $44 for the carafe.  The whites include Simi Sauvignon Blanc, Trefethen Dry Riesling, Franciscan Chardonnay and Duchman Vermentino.  There are eight reds including Saintsbury Pinot Noir, Qupe Syrah and Paul Dolan Cabernet offered in the same format from $9 for a glass to $50 for a carafe.  They also feature a list of wines by the bottle. 

This barrel to bar approach is incredibly innovative.  The great thing is that chef and sommelier driven restaurants like Savor are embracing and encouraging this innovation.  Dan talked about several hotel and restaurant chains that are embracing the technology. If you’ve followed my “can you get a decent glass of wine at a chain” postings, you know I’m truly happy to see this as I’d rather not have to go taste chain food to make my point.

The only downside that was proactively brought up by Dan is that this technology is not for aging wine.  So, the tradition of an aged bottle and the ceremony around that will continue at Savor as well, but 80 percent of the wines today are sold by tap. 

Being guaranteed a fresh glass of wine with no cork taint (John has never had a corked wine since opening), giving restaurants the opportunity to expand their selections without the risk.  Having the ability to buy a good glass of wine at a fair price and the environmental benefits make this an innovation that is worthy of note.  The future quality, selection and value of the wines you drink by the glass depend on it. 


Catena Zapata: A Conversation with Pablo Sanchez

Pablo Sanchez, Catena Zapata Winemaker 

How I wish when I received the invitation to the Catena Zapata vertical tasting that I knew Winemaker Pablo Sanchez would be attending. I admit, I would have come better prepared.  So I was surprised to find him standing in the room at Specs, but thrilled that I arrived early to spend some time with him.  Sanchez was there for his first trip to Dallas, one of Catena Zapata’s most successful markets, to satisfy a room full of Dallas wine lovers who were ready to sample the latest line-up of his wines.

In 1898, Nicola Catena, who founded the winery, left the European famine and came to Argentina with a dream of owning his own vintage.  His son, Nicolas Catena Zapata, originally a physics major, had a vision for the Malbec grape and was the first to plant Malbec at an extreme high altitude.  The winery blends six different vineyard blocks and six types of soil into its line of wines.  The wines first arrived in the states in the 90s.

Sanchez was here to educate folks in the United States about the face of Argentinian wine that went beyond the room of passionate folks who were ready to buy in Dallas.  We tried the following line up:

Catena Zapata White Bones Chardonnay 2009 – big notes of butterscotch and honey. This was a big bodied chardonnay.

Catena Zapata White Stones Chardonnay 2009 — wonderful stone fruits, nuttiness, vanilla and a mineral finish.  This was an Old World style that blew me away

Catena Zapata Nicasia Vineyard Malbec 2009 – currant, cherry, spice and licorice that has a lush finish.  This was truly cellar worthy and delicious.

Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino  2009 – lots of black fruit, licorice and pepper.  Very drinkable.

Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Malbec 2009 – big berry, earthiness, mocha and chocolate.  Another very nice example of what good Malbec tastes like.

Nicolás Catena Zapata 2008 – spicy with notes of chocolate, cherry and herbs.  Delicious.

Nicolás Catena Zapata 2001 – this was fun to see what happens with age in a Malbec and I can tell you that it aged nicely.  Still had notes of cherry and was a complex wine.

 


A Few of My Favorite Things: Another Wine Review Column

I had a chance to taste wines from nine wineries from regions ranging from Italy, Spain and California. Of the wines sampled, I’m going to profile seven of them.

Italy

2011 Tenuta Costa Lahnhod Sauvignon Doos – This 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc wine from the Alto Adige DOC was my first Italian version of this varietal. It was full bodied with notes of herbs, white stone fruit and minerality. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I liked the balance of the fruit and steeliness.

NV Piccini Memoro Bianco – lots of green apple, apricot and floral notes to this wine along with honeysuckle and herbs. This is a blend of viognier, chardonnay, vermentino and marche. A bargain for $9.99.

Spain

2009 Rupestre de Alpera – This was the hands down favorite of the Spanish wines sampled. There was a complexity to the wine from the notes of balsamic, oak, smoked meat and dark berries. For $19, this is a great weekday option.

Argentina

2011 Kaiken Ultra Malbec – black cherry, dark berries, tobacco and vanilla notes round out this well-made Malbec. I loved the finish of this wine.

2012 Kaiken Terroir Series Torrontes – talk about flowers in a glass. Combine that with tropical fruit and orange blossoms and you have pegged this wine.

California

 

2012 Clos LaChance Dry Rose – this was another group favorite that took us all by surprise. Lots of raspberry, cherry and ruby red grapefruit with notes of flowers and a very dry finish.

2007 Mustache Mentors Naked Rebel – In all honesty, the Naked Rebel wine is a perfectly good pizza wine with an attitude that makes me chuckle. It was very jammy with notes of spice and tobacco. If you look closely at the back of the bottle you can find my favorite lines mentioning a Zombie apocalypse, a Prius and White Zinfandel.


Bernard Portet: Conversation with A Wine Country Legend

In another pinch myself moment on the trip, I had the opportunity to have lunch with Bernard Portet, considered to be one of the forefathers of the Napa Valley wine industry , at Don Giovanni.  For almost 40 years, Bernard was the co-founder and wine maker for Clos du Val Winery who helped pioneer and revitalize the American wine industry during the 70s with others like Robert Mondavi, Louis Martini and Joe Phelps.

He came to California in 1968 after studying Agronomy, Viticulture and Enology at Schools of Agronomy of Toulouse and Montpellierto.  After a stint in the army, he was hired by John Goelet, an American descendant of the Guestier wine merchant family of Bordeaux, to search the world including Australia, South Africa, North America and North Africa to find the best region outside of France to plant a vineyard.  Because he knew terrior, the microclimate and soil or sense of place, was so important he found what he was looking for in Napa’s Stags Leap District.  He produced the first vintage in 1972.  During his 40 years at Clos de Val, he knocked on doors to sell wine, planted another vineyard in Carneros and mastered the wine industry.  But he never changed his style and remained true to his elegant approach to a sense of place and balance.

Bernard started by talking about the team spirit back he experience when he first arrived in Napa Valley as the winemakers were willing to share everything that they were doing, since they were working toward a greater good to get California wines on the map.  Fast forward 40 years and he said that spirit of cooperation is still strong.  What has changed is the independence of some of the winemakers as they are now owned by large conglomerates and don’t have the freedom to share as they have in the past.

His retirement from Clos de Val had lasted for about six months when he was approached by a former colleague, Don Chase, at a Napa Valley coffee shop.  That cup of coffee led to the formation of Polaris Wines, who recently launched Heritance Wines.  The name Heritance, which focuses on Napa Valley Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc (signature wines of France) is a combination of “heritage” and “inheritance.”  Since Bernard comes from nine generations of winemaking beginning in the 1600s, his heritage is evident.  He talked about being born in the same bedroom as his father and grandfather in Cognac, France.  “Inheritance” refers to his father, who was the regisseur of Chateau Lafite, one of the most highly regarded estates in the world, who taught him the wine business.

With the understanding that he would only make the wine and not handle the operations, he went about the business of putting his winemaking style, which he describes as “balance, elegance and complexity,” to good use.  This time he sources the best grapes throughout Napa Valley.

We tried the following line-up of the Heritance wines (and in the spirit of full disclosure, I’d buy any one of them):

-          2010 Heritance Sauvignon Blanc, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, this had lots of tropical fruit and was very refreshing.

-          2011 Heritance Sauvignon Blanc, also a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Rousanne.  Bernard described the texture almost as a drop of olive oil and he was right.  It was full of tropical fruit, guava and was very rich and complex.

-          2011 Pinot Noir, the wine was made in a Burgundian style with creamy notes of cherry, spice and great balance.  This is the first vintage of this wine.

-          2008 Heritance Cabernet, delivered with notes of balsamic, oak, black fruit, tobacco and floral notes.

Our last wine was an Argentine Malbec named Nandu.  On one of his trips, Bernard found some great vineyards in southern Mendoza and decided to make a wine there.  We tried the 2010 Malbec that was soft and full of blackberry, herbs, blueberry and cranberry.  I would bet this Malbec would convert non-Malbec drinkers.

Bernard described Heritance as a “virtual winery without walls.”  His goal is to make complex and complete wines that go well with food.  I, for one, am very glad that he didn’t retire. There is a great deal of “heritance” that is still yet to come.


Home for the Holidays: Food, Wine, Family & Memories

Food, wine and fellowship have always been a mainstay of our holiday celebrations.  With the recent passing of my great aunt Stella, who died right before Christmas, it was a poignant reminder to appreciate those that we love.

Stella Urusky, on the bottom row on the lefthand side in the black.  Don’t be a hater about the hair or dress.  It was 1994.

Stella actually inspired the entire premise of Dallas Wine Chick.  Stella’s favorite wine was pink, fizzy, made up of chemicals and usually under $5.  I got on a self absorbed mission to “teach her” about “good wine.”  So, for a year I opened the best white wines that I had in my collection – white burgundies, chardonnays, sauvignon blancs, pinot blancs, alsaces and albarinos with the conviction that I could change her mind.  A big life lesson for me is that I couldn’t.  She hated them all and just wanted what she wanted.  So, the concept that wine snobbery shouldn’t be forced on anyone and people should drink what they like was solidified in my mind.

She also taught me about compassion, the value of family, taking care of unwanted animals and speaking my mind.

So we gathered at my parent’s house as the snow fell and ate more food than we should, had more wine than we should and told the same family stories that I’ve grown up hearing.  It was especially poignant that my cousin, Patrick, a F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot, was finally back home after his year-long tour on the USS Enterprise.

The USS Enterprise was on its final voyage after 50 years of service and it is the longest serving aircraft carrier in the US fleet.  It was the world’s first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, Top Gun was filmed on this ship, it acted as a spotter ship for John Glenn’s historic orbit of Earth, played an important role in the Cuban missile crisis and in Somali pirate engagement.  As the oldest ship in the Navy, the motto is: “There is pain and there is Enterprise pain”…

We also got to hang out with my other cousin, Jeff, and his fiancé AJ, who we are eagerly ready to welcome to the family when they marry in California in the future.

With all of that as our backdrop, we tried several wines from Yarden in the Golan Heights; Elyse Winery in Napa and a Terrazas from Argentina.

We started with the wines from Yarden Wines of Israel.  You may remember that I was impressed last November when I had the opportunity to experience my first wines from the region.  I can speak for the rest of my family in saying that these wines exceeded everyone’s expectations.

The Golan Heights Winery was founded in 1983 and is based in Katzrin.  The winery is known for its use of technology and the advances it has made for wines produced in this region.  The region has extreme temperatures and elevation changes combined with volcanic soils.

Yarden Mount Herman White 2011

This was the favorite white of the group.  Big notes of citrus, peach, floral and minerality made this a great match with the food.

Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Lots of cherry, blackberry and stone fruit with notes of earthiness, tobacco and oak made this a very memorable wine and one that I will seek out in the future.

Yarden T2

This dessert wine which was made of two Portuguese grapes and fortified with brandy was a very nice dessert wine, but the $50 price tag made it a bit bittersweet.

We then switched over to Elyse.  I’ve long been a fan of Elyse Winery wines and these did not disappoint.

Elyse 2010 Petite Sirah

Lots of dark berry fruit, floral and spice.  I loved the finish with its notes of chocolate, mocha and oaky flavor.  This was a rich and yummy wine.

Elyse 2007 Morisoli Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Also inky black with lots of stone fruit and blackberry flavors with nice spice and cedar.   This was a very well balanced and elegant wine.

Elyse 2008 Morisoli Vineyard Zinfandel

This is the vineyard where it all began and the wine that launched Elyse into 25 years of success.  Lots of juicy fruit, earthiness and spiciness make this Zinfandel memorable.

We also tried a Terrazas 2011 Reserva Torrontes, which tasted of green apple, flowers and orange blossom.  A nice, dependable, food-friendly wine that matched holiday food very well.

I hope your holiday season was filled with memories of family and friends that will last long beyond the chaos and will create smiles for years to come.


Wines of Argentina: Diversity, Complexity and Yes, You Can Age Malbec

The folks from the Wines of Argentina came through town last week and hosted a panel and tasting featuring the country’s next generation of great winemakers.  Fernando Buscema of Catena Zapata; Federico Lleonart, the global wine ambassador for Argentina; Melissa Monasaw, the wine and education director for Pioneer Wine Company and James Tidwell from the Four Seasons Resort along with Nora Z. Favelukes, US Representative for Wines of Argentina, talked about the history of Malbec and other unique varietals to Argentina.

The United States is the leading country for Argentinian wine exports and the Wines of Argentina organization represents 200 wineries.

Malbec was a grape of French origin that was once a predominant grape in Bordeaux and Cahors.  In 1853, the Quinta Normal de Agricultura was founded in Mendoza.  Michel Aime Ponget, a French agromist was hired to manage the school.  He brought the grape vines and seeds that made Malbec predominant in Argentina.

Malbec is known for its inky color; notes of berries, clove, mocha, vanilla and flowers; and for being soft, but dense with a good acidity.  It surprised me that Malbec can age gracefully because of its altitude, own roots, high phenol concentration and low pH.  We tried 8 wines; with the last two deemed “hidden gems” from Melissa and James that the trade group may not have sampled prior.

The line-up was as follows (well, I think it was, but the order kept changing, so I may have missed a beat or two):

  • Monteviejo Lindaflor Malbec 08, very tannic with black fruit.
  • Catena Alta Malbec 03, elegant wine and I was surprised that the fruits were still active and the wine maintained its character.
  • Catena Zapata Malbec Adrianna 08, very fruit forward with big notes of plum. This was a very drinkable wine you could open today.
  • Graffigna Centario Torrontes 12, apricot, white peach, orange blossom and stone fruit.  This isn’t available yet in Dallas, but when it is, I recommend finding it.
  • Zuccardi Serie A Bonarda 10, this was very interesting and smooth.  I tasted raspberry and strawberry notes and it begged for Italian food.  Bonarda is the second most planted variety and a grape unique to Argentina.
  • Graffigna Gran Reserva Cab 08, a very nice smooth wine with herbal notes and black fruit.  This was one of my favorites.
  • Fin del Mundo Special Blend 08, this was a pretty wine with notes of eucalyptus, dark fruit and spice.  This was a pretty wine made up of cabernet franc and petit verdot.

James’ hidden gem was the Mendel Semillon 11, which is on the Four Seasons Resort wine list.  Melissa’s choice was the Reginato Sparkling Rose of Malbec NV, which had notes of rhubarb, strawberry and nice acidity with the bubbles.  This was my favorite of the two.

Jorge Liley, Catena  Zapata Wines

The first three wines were under $15 and the next three wines are around $50.  After the event, there was a tasting of 135 wines from 25 wineries representing what Argentina has to offer.  Based on what I tried, I think I’m going to pick up a few bottles of Malbec and let the aging begin.


Winebow Wines of Summer: Fun to Be Had Off the Beaten Path

When I received a package from Winebow with Summer whites that were off the beaten path, I was totally stoked. I gathered a group of my closest wine buddy girlfriends, we assembled a spread to match and we were off to the races. The pack included Pinot Grigio and Riesling as well as Vermentino and Torrontés from several regions. We tried the following wines:

  • Tilia Torrontés, Argentina 2011 – $10: We tasted herbs and honeysuckle with a floral nose.
  • Clean Slate Riesling, Mosel 2011 – $10: This one had some residual sweetness but notes of lime and peach with minerality.
  • Root:1 Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – $12: This was the group favorite with tropical fruit, grapefruit, grassiness and mineral notes.
  • Vitiano Bianco (Vermentino & Verdicchio) Umbria 2011 – $12: Tropical, fruity and very light in body from Umbria, a region I had not experienced yet in Italy.
  • KRIS Pinot Grigio, delle Venezia 2011 – $14: This was a very fruity pinot grigio that stayed true to the variety.
  • Argiolas Costamolino Vermentino, Sardinia 2011 -$16: Very crisp with tropical fruit. This wine had a bit of effervescence at the finish.

This was a fun reminder that there are bargains and new regions to try once you step out of your usual wine comfort zone.


Moet Hennessy Portfolio: Taking Dallas By Storm

I recently attended a trade event at the Mansion on Turtle Creek hosted by Sigel’s featuring the Moet Hennessy portfolio available in Texas.  When I received the invitation, a few things caught my eye.  First, Manuel Louzado from Numanthia was on the list and I love, love, love his wines.  Second, Cloudy Bay winemaker, Sarah Burton, who recently hosted ##nzwineday, was also in attendance so I wanted to talk to her about that event and her experience.

It was a star-studded winemakers line-up featuring Cape Mentelle, Chateau de Sancerre, Chandon, Numanthia, Lapostolle, Newton, Cheval des Andes, Cloudy Bay and Terrazas de los Andes.  Most of the vineyards had their wine makers in attendance.  I was in heaven.

I tried a number of wines that day, but I thought I’d give you some of the highlights that I really enjoyed.  You can find all of these at Sigel’s if you want to “taste along.”

Moet Hennesey Cloudy Bay Sarah

Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 07 – If you read my recent column about my New Zealand wine experience, you’ll note that I was very impressed with the Pinot Noirs.  This one continued that trend for me.  It was spicy with cherry notes and an earthiness that made me want more. 

Moet Hennesey Cape Mentelle

Cape Mentelle – I really enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend from this Australian winery, but the 04 Cabernet stood out to me.  It showed very well with notes of blackberry, tobacco and a nice balance.

Moet Hennesey Chandon

Chandon – What can I say?  I’m a sparkling girl and the Etoile Brut was elegant with notes of hazelnut, apple and citrus.  I had a great conversation with winemaker, Tom Tiburzi, and he told me about how this blend changes yearly based on what he feels will work the best from the grapes as opposed to his other more value-oriented sparkling that must stay true to what consumers expect.  I also tried the Extra Dry Muscat Cannali, which is definitely the perfect off dry sparkling wine with Asian food.

Moet Hennesey Chat de Sancerre

Chateau de Sancerre had two wonderful whites.  I first became a fan of this after Scott Barber from the Commissary served it at an event.  I tried the Chateau de Sancerre white, which had floral and citrus, but with the minerality that I like in a Sancerre wine.  Then I tried the Chateau de Sancerre Cuvee du Connetable.  Wow – complex, while intense, creamy, almost buttery with mineral notes and vanilla.  Bravo!

Moet Hennesey Lapostelle Line Up

Lapostolle – I have a soft place in my heart for them because they have a very drinkable and affordable Sauvignon Blanc that becomes my wine of choice when we go to Punta Mita.  However, I had never ventured out of their value wine category.  I really enjoyed three of their wines.  The first was the Borobo, a blend of five different French varietals, originally put together due to a bet between two winemakers to see if a blend could be made from two vineyards.  The winemaker upped the ante and blended three.  Trust me – he could and it’s good.  The second one is Canto de Apalta, a fabulous Bordeaux blend that will debut in May and retail for $19.  This has been described as the “baby Apalta,” one of the top cuvees and rated #1 by The Wine Spectator in 2008.  You should discover this when it launches and quickly.  It is a fabulous deal.  The final wine was the los Apalta, the flagship wine I described before.  Lots of blackberry, cherry, spiciness and a velvet finish.    

Moet Hennesey newton

Newton Vineyards – Winemaker Chris Millard was representing this popular Spring Mountain winery.  If you are a chardonnay fan, you should try the 09 unfiltered chardonnay deemed as a “non-Chardonnay drinkers” Chardonnay.  Lots of almond and a very nice wine either with food or without.  Then we jumped to the 08 Puzzle, a red blend that changes yearly-  hence the name.  This was a wine with finesse, elegance, silkiness, cherry, licorice, vanilla, chocolate and mocha. 

Moet Hennesey Terrazas

Terrazas de los Andes – I had the chance during a wine event in 2011 to try the value and mid-range wines, so I immediately asked for the Afincado Malbec.  I tasted vanilla, blackberries, oak and some floral notes.

Cheval des Andes – Would love to have tasted the fruits from the partnership of Terrazas de los Andes and well-known Chateau Cheval Blanc in Bordeaux, but alas, they had no more wine. Next.

Moet Hennesey Numanthia

Finally, Numanthia and Manuel Louzada.  I had the chance to talk to Manuel about a wine group that I belong to and the second and third-growth tastings that we did of iconic wines.  His wines were fabulous in every tier.  I loved his descriptions of the three wines.  He talked about the Numanthia Termes as being geared to capture the vibrancy and the loveliness of the fruit with “newbie” vines between 30-50 years old.  The 08 Numanthia, featuring vines between 60-100 years old, is built to deliver massive power and elegance.  Louzada compared this to the body of an athlete with “beautiful lines outside, massive character inside.”  It’s an elegant wine and wonderful.  But then we moved to the 07 Termanthia.  He described it as one of the few vineyards where “all the stars aligned.” I admit it – I had to stop him to “take a moment” to savor this wine.  It’s velvet, it’s silky, and it is dark.  I smelled truffles, mocha, chocolate, black fruit and this was just of a bottle not decanted for long.  Also, I was fascinated with the story of the vines being compared to the city of Numanthia that survived a 20-year siege only to come under attack again.  The city decided it would not be taken and essentially they burned it with everyone inside.  It’s called the Numanthia resistance.   These vines have survived their own resistance – through pholoxia, through extreme temperatures and through hard growing conditions.  Viva de Numanthia and long live these grapes!


Tapena’s Most Creative Piropo Winner

Tapena

Now it’s time to announce the winner of the poetry into action contest with Tapena.  You were all creative and had some fun ways to personify your love affair with the grape. 

I’m happy to announce that Jacqueline Medina is the winner of the most creative Piropo.  She wins a four-pack of wines, a Spanish-themed cookbook and some other fun material for her “love is like wine, it tastes much better as it gets older.”  As someone who has been married for nearly 18 years, I raise my glass and respectfully agree.  Jacqueline, contact me  and I’ll get your prize to you.




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