Thursday, September 1, 2011


Harvesting by Hand Starts Earlier than Usual
Champagne’s 2011 harvest has commenced. The harvest of grapes from the carefully delineated plots of the Champagne region officially began on August 19, 2011. The combination of an exceptionally early flowering, limited spring rainfall and many sunny days has led to one of the earliest harvests for Champagne since 1822. The three prominently planted grape varieties – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier – are now being hand-picked across the appellation located approximately 90 miles northeast of Paris. Weather conditions and forecasts are favorable for the next few days, with only a few thunderstorms on the horizon.

“The Champagne appellation is one of a kind, and the grapes being picked today are the only grapes that can be used to make Champagne,” says Sam Heitner, director of the Champagne Bureau in the United States. “As we celebrate another successful harvest from this unique region, we are reminded of the importance that location plays in every bottle of wine and renew our call on the United States to join the majority of the rest of the world in reserving the term Champagne only for wines made with grapes from this specific place.“

There are many sparkling wines made around the world, but the Champagne only comes from Champagne. In addition to allowing grapes to be grown only in a limited number of plots within the region and requiring harvest by hand, the Champagne appellation has strict regulations regarding all aspects of the cycle – from the planting of the vine through harvest, pressing and bottling – all designed to ensure quality for consumers. The grapes picked today will go into non-vintage wines that sit on the lees for at least eighteen months, reserve wines for future non-vintages or, if the producer deems this year’s harvest worthy, vintages that remain in the caves for at least three years.

“This year, the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), the region’s trade body, has raised the amount of grapes that can be harvested in a given area to 12,500 kilograms per hectare (kg/ha),” says Heitner. “They believe that this will keep Champagne on track to meet the growing demand. This is good news for Champagne enthusiasts everywhere, as more people will be able to enjoy real Champagne, which can only come from Champagne, France.”

Have a question about harvest? Thibaut Le Mailloux, CIVC communications director, will be providing on-the-ground responses from Champagne to a limited number of questions through Google Moderator. You can also send questions through Twitter (#Champagne) or Facebook, or email them directly to To be considered, all questions must be submitted by Wednesday, August 31.

2007 Mi Sueño Cabernet Sauvignon

I had the opportunity to taste through all the current releases from Mi Sueño winery a few days back and can honestly say that every one of the wines was impressive. However, I chose to review the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon because it's probably the best bottle of red wine that I've tasted year to date. In all blew my mind.

The 2007 Mi Sueño Cabernet Sauvignon is composed of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and was sourced from  vineyards located in Napa's Coomsville appellation. It was aged for 21 months in French oak.

On the nose I got stunning notes of black currant, blackberry, peppercorn, coco powder, and hints of espresso bean. It's textbook Napa valley floor fruit and has just the most subtle dried herb and pepper aromas that combine perfectly with the dark fruit notes.

On the palate the wine touches down with a powerful and concentrated structure and amazing black fruit flavors. The black currant and blackberry flavors are backed up by notes of chocolate, tar, vanilla-toast, and a touch of cinnamon. The tannin structure and backbone of this wine suggest that it will age gracefully for at least a decade. It's a dry wine, made in a classic style; devoid of over-extraction or over-ripe fruit flavor. The finish sails on and on for about three to four minutes after tasting.

I can say with all honesty, that after tasting probably over a hundred 2007 Napa Cabernet's in the last year, that this wine is easily the best of the lot. 95+ points

Click here to find out more about this wine

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Graffigna Wines

Here's a couple of wines from Graffigna in Argentina. I've written recently about the Pinot Grigio, and my amusement at an Italian grape and an Italian name coming from Argentina. This really shouldn't be surprising, since there was a lot of Italian emigration to Argentina, and roughly 60% of Argentinians have some Italian heritage. Italian is the second most spoken language in the country after Spanish.

South America has so many fascinating immigration stories, like South Asians in Trinidad and Tobago or the influx of Japanese in Peru, including former president Alberto Fujimori. But let's get back to the wine...

Graffigna was founded in 1870 by Italian immigrant Don Santiago Graffigna, and his wines were the first Argentine wines to be exported abroad. There's an interesting history with the introduction of trains and radio and the devastating earthquake of 1944.

Detail here

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Roederer Estate Brut Rose

Tasting Notes 
Full and round with smoothflavors and a fine, persistentmousse. The extra measureof Chardonnay contributeselegance and austerity thatbalance nicely with thedelicate fruitiness ofthe Pinot Noir.
Wine Maker Notes 
The Roederer Estate Rosé is full and round with smooth flavors and fine persistent bubbles. The extra measure of Chardonnay contributes elegance and austerity, which balance nicely with the delicate fruitiness of the Pinot Noir.
Technical Notes 
As with all Roederer Estate wines, the Brut Rosé is comprised of 100 percent estate grown grapes. Oak-aged wines from the Estate’s reserve cellars are added to the blend, creating a multi-vintage cuvée in the traditional Roederer style. Only the cuvée (first pressing of 120 gallons/ton) is used; no premiere or deuxieme taille. The wine is then fermented at 65 degrees Fahrenheit in high-grade stainless steel tanks. Five percent Pinot Noir is added for color prior to secondary fermentation; no malolactic fermentation is used. Oak-aged reserve wines from the Estate’s cellars make up 10 to 20 percent of the Rosé cuvée. 

Perrier-Jouet Champagne Grand Brut

Tasting Notes ColorGolden yellow.BouquetThe wine shows lovely aromas of tropical fruit, citrus, spice and yeast. PalateThis elegant, complex, crisp and balanced wine features fine, persistent mouthfeel as well as lingering flavors of fresh apples and lemonsWine Maker Notes The wine is aged in modern, stainless steel tanks which allow for perfect temperature control. Once all the base wines are fermented and racked, Chef de Caves Hervé Deschamps meticulously tastes from over 300 wines to choose the most outstanding lots. In addition to grapes from the current vintage, between 10% to 20% of reserve wines from previous vintages are blended into the final cuvée. The bottles are aged in the house’s historic champenois aging cellars, which are tunneled directly into the chalky soil of Champagne. The Champagne caves run 50 feet deep and remain at a constant temperature of 52° F.Food Pairing Pairs well with game hen or duck, also pomme frittes with subtle horseradish aioli, mushroom tarts with truffle crème sauce, salt baked king salmon and roasted turkey with chestnut stuffing.

 Detail Here

2008 Alysian Starr Ridge Vineyard "Clone 95" Chardonnay

Gary and Debbie Farrell purchased the 23 acre Starr Ridge vineyard in the Russian River Valley in 1996. The vineyard is planted to Dijon Clone Chardonnay and some Pinot Noir as well. This wine was aged in 100% French oak (40% new and 60% one and two year old) barrels for 10 months.

On the nose I get fantastic aromas of white donut-peach, guava, caramel ribbon candy, honey, toasted oak, and butterscotch. The bouquet is complex and from the moment I put the wine up to my nose I instantly new it was a high quality Chardonnay.

On the palate the wine touches down with a intense dose of baked apple, butterscotch, and toasted oak flavors. There are secondary notes of meyer lemon, mineral, and caramel that also impress. The acidity is well in balance and the wine finishes with long drawn out butterscotch and citrus notes. 92 points

Click here to find out more about this wine


Origin: France
Other Names: Picotin Blanc, Vionnier, Petiti Vionnier, Viogne, Galopine, Vugava bijela

The origin of this white grape variety is unknown but many believe it to be of Roman descent and perhaps was brought to the Rhone valley in France via the Rhone river en route to Beaujolais. In 2004 the grape was studied at the University of California Davis where DNA profiling found the grape to be closely related to the Piedmont grape Freisa and to be a genetic cousin to Nebbiolo. 

Viognier is a difficult grape to grow and is prone to various vine diseases in particular powdery mildew. It has low and unpredictable yields and should be picked only when fully ripe. When picked too early, the grape fails to develop the full extent of its aromas and tastes. When picked too late, the grape produces wine that is oily and lacks perfume. When fully ripe the grapes have a deep yellow color and produce wine with a strong perfume and high in alcohol.

In France, Viognier is the single permitted grape variety in the appellations of Condrieu and Château Grillet. It is also often blended with Syrah in Northern Rhone in the Côte-Rôtie AOC. Since Viognier ripens earlier than Syrah, the grape is normally harvested separately and added to the Syrah during fermentation. One of the benefits of adding Viognier is the process of co-pigmentation that is produced which stabilizes the coloring of the red wine.

Viognier wines are well-known for their floral aromas, due to terpenes, which are also found in Muscat and Riesling wines. Viognier more than three years old tends to lose many of the floral aromas that make this wine unique. Aging these wines will often yield a very crisp drinking wine which is almost completely flat in the nose. Viognier is a grape with low acid and is often blended with grapes such as Syrah in order to soften the wines.

Compounds in Red Wine Fight Breast Cancer

Just more good news about our favorite beverage. Check out this article
Supposedly scientist have found that the magical polyphenol Resveratrol (compound found in grape skins) combined with Rapamycin, an immunosuppressant drug, have synergistic cancer fighting reactions when used in unison.

Just another great reason for women to get out there and drink red wine!

More good news about Resveratrol

A new study conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis say that resveratrol - a compound found in the skin of red grapes and blueberries - may prove useful in preventing the vision loss associated with diabetes and old age.

This new study was reported by CBS News and can be found here.

The study, conducted on mice, also showed that resveratrol helps block the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye, such as that associated with macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over 50.

Just another reason to make sure you always have a glass of red wine with your dinner.

2009 Maldonado Chardonnay "Parr Vineyard"

Last year I reviewed this wine and it was perhaps the best Chardonnay I had tasted all year. I hope the 2009 vintage can get close to the quality of the 2007, which I rated at 95 points. For some reason the Maldonado's don't put the tech data on their website for the "Parr Vineyard" Chard. However, I believe the wine is a very small production and well in-demand, so they don't necessarily need to publicize it too much.

The nose on this wine is busrsting with exquisite aromas of baked golden delicious apple, fig, almond, quince, meyer lemon, stone fruit, creme brulee, and a slight touch of mineral. It's a fantastically complex bouquet and one that improves as the wine warms to room temperature.

On the palate I get delicious and intense flavors of caramel apple, quince paste, fig, vanilla, tangerine peel, mineral, and hints of nectarine. The wine is perfectly weighted texture-wise and glides effortlessly across the palate. What makes this wine really special is it's acidity and how it is razor sharp on the finish. The wine is impeccably balanced and finishes with an intensity that rivals the best made Chardonnay's in the world. 95 points

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The skinny on Dom Pérignon

Dom Pérignon or as the hommies like to call him "Dom P", was a Benedictine monk who, in 1668, was appointed treasurer at the Abbey of Hautvillers near the town of Epernay Champagne. Among Dom Pérignon's various duties was to oversee the running of the cellars and the winemaking, which in this time was considered to be of substantial importance.

Although his contributions to the wine industry are debated at times, what we do know is that among his formidable achievements was the perfecting of the technique of making a still white wine entirely from red grapes. He also was influential in the refinement of the art of blending wines from different vineyards and advances in clarification treatments to ensure a brighter wine than what was the murky norm at that time.

Many believe Dom Pérignon invented sparkling wine, but he actually devoted much of his time researching ways to avoid the dreaded re-fermentation that resulted in so many tempestuous wines.

Although his contributions to the history of wine are unquestionably warranted, Dom Pérignon did not invent Champagne. offers a Vacation to Napa Valley

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References to Wine in the Bible

Genesis 14:18

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

Genesis 27:25, 28, 37

25 - And he said, Bring it near to me, and I will eat of my son's venison, that my soul may bless thee. And he brought it near to him, and he did eat: and he brought him wine, and he drank. 28 - Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: 37 - And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?

Genesis 49:11-12

11 - Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: 12- His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.

Exodus 29:40

40 - And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering.

Leviticus 10:9

9 - Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:

Leviticus 23:13

13 - And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.

Numbers 15:5, 7, 10

5 - And the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering shalt thou prepare with the burnt offering or sacrifice, for one lamb. 7 - And for a drink offering thou shalt offer the third part of an hin of wine, for a sweet savour unto the LORD. 10 - And thou shalt bring for a drink offering half an hin of wine, for an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.

Numbers 18:12

12 - All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which they shall offer unto the LORD, them have I given thee.

Numbers 28:7, 14

7 - And the drink offering thereof shall be the fourth part of an hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the LORD for a drink offering. 14 - And their drink offerings shall be half an hin of wine unto a bullock, and the third part of an hin unto a ram, and a fourth part of an hin unto a lamb: this is the burnt offering of every month throughout the months of the year.

Deuteronomy 7:13

13 - And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Deuteronomy 16:13 13 Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine:

Deuteronomy 18:4

4 - The firstfruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him.

Deuteronomy 33:28

28 - Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew.

Joshua 9:4, 13

4 - They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; 13 - And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?

Judges 19:19

19 - Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man which is with thy servants: there is no want of any thing.

1 Samuel 10:3

3 - Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine:

1 Samuel 16:20

20 - And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul.
2 Samuel 6:19
19 - And he dealt among all the people, even among the whole multitude of Israel, as well to the women as men, to every one a cake of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine. So all the people departed every one to his house.

2 Kings 18:32

32 - Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil olive and of honey, that ye may live, and not die: and hearken not unto Hezekiah, when he persuadeth you, saying, The LORD will deliver us.

1 Chronicles 9:29

29 - Some of them also were appointed to oversee the vessels, and all the instruments of the sanctuary, and the fine flour, and the wine, and the oil, and the frankincense, and the spices.

1 Chronicles 12:40

40 - Moreover they that were nigh them, even unto Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on asses, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen, and meat, meal, cakes of figs, and bunches of raisins, and wine, and oil, and oxen, and sheep abundantly: for there was joy in Israel.

1 Chronicles 16:3

3 - And he dealt to every one of Israel, both man and woman, to every one a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine.

2 Chronicles 2:10, 15

10 - And, behold, I will give to thy servants, the hewers that cut timber, twenty thousand measures of beaten wheat, and twenty thousand measures of barley, and twenty thousand baths of wine, and twenty thousand baths of oil. 15 - Now therefore the wheat, and the barley, the oil, and the wine, which my lord hath spoken of, let him send unto his servants:

2 Chronicles 11:11

11 - And he fortified the strong holds, and put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine.

2 Chronicles 31:5

5 - And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the fields; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly.

2 Chronicles 32:28

28 - Storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks.

Ezra 6:9

9 - And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail:

Ezra 7:22

22 - Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.

Neh 2:1

1 - And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence.

Neh 5:11

11 - Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them.

Neh 10:37, 39

37 - And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage. 39 - For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.

Esther 1:7, 10

7 - And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king. 10 - On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, Esther 5:6 6 And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What is thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what is thy request? even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed.

Job 32:19

19 - Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles.

Psalms 104:15

15 - And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.

Proverbs 3:10

10 - So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
Proverbs 9:5

5 - Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.

Proverbs 31:6

6 - Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.

Eccl 9:7

7 - Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.

Eccl 10:19

19 - A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.

Song 8:2

2 - I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.

Isaiah 22:13

13 - And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die.

Isaiah 27:2

2 - In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine.

Isaiah 36:17

17 - Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards.

Isaiah 56:12

12 - Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.

Jeremiah 31:12

12 - Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.

Jeremiah 31:12

12 - Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.

1 Timothy 5:23

23 - Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.