Tasting No 191. – August 28, 2017- Old and New Worlds Syrah

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

 1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: John Redwood, Lucía Redwood

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Cecilio Berndsen, Jorge Claro, Clara Estrada, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sánchez, Jairo Sanchez, Ricardo Santiago, Ginger Smart, German Zincke.

Guests: Patricia García, Cristian Santelices

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview

The  main objective of this tasting is to compare Syrah wines from the old and new worlds and of different climatic zones and determine differences in style, evaluate their characteristics and establish Group and individual preferences.  There is also a white wine 100% Marsanne, a variety from Northern Rhone that is rarely presented in the Group tastings.  These are the wines:

  1. 2015 Nobles Rives, Cave de Tain, Crozes Hermitage Blanc
  2. 2015 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz, Barossa Valley
  3. 2013 Gordon Estate, Shiraz, Columbia Valley
  4. 2014 Nobles Rives, Cave de Tain, Hermitage  

3. The Menu

  • Prosciutto with Melon
  • Gazpacho
  • Agnolotti filled w/fresh spinach, ricotta & parmesan in a cream sauce
  • Lamb with rosemary sauce, baby potatoes and vegetables
  • Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from varios internet sources) .

2015 Nobles Rives, Cave de Tain, Crozes Hermitage Blanc

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Pale yellow color with emerald green tint. Rich nose dominated by citrus fruits and green lemon. The second nose, more complex, reveals exotic fruits (pineapple, mango), anise and bitter almond aromas. A well balanced and fresh wine with a lemony finish – just like biting into a fresh, ripe grape. This wine is 100% Marsanne.

The Winery: Located between Valence and Lyon, Cave de Tain lies at the foot of the Hermitage hillside. At the heart of the historic northern Rhône vineyards, the Cave produces and markets 5 “cru” wines and single varietal Vins de Pays from over 1000 hectares of vines (appellations Hermitage, Crozes Hermitage, Saint Joseph, Cornas and Saint Peray), making it the leading producer of “cru” wines in the northern Rhône Valley.

 (From Wine Searcher) Hermitage, the rich Syrah-based red from the northern Rhone Valley, is one of France’s most enduringly prestigious wines. It sits on the very top rung of Rhone Valley wines, which it shares only with those from the Cote Rotie (30 miles/45km to the north), and Chateauneuf-du-Pape (70 miles/110km to the south). Its white counterpart – Hermitage Blanc – is no less revered, and accounts for about one third of the appellation’s annual production.  Both red and white Hermitage wines are long-lived and full-bodied. The red wines, which may be aged for 30 years or more, are produced exclusively from Syrah and are known for their rich aromas of leather, coffee and red berries. The less-famous whites, which may be cellared for about 15 years, have aromas of honeysuckle, tropical fruit and earthy minerals. They are made predominantly from Marsanne, with limited use of Roussanne.

Read more at: http://www.cavedetain.com/wine/hermitage-crozes-hermitage.cfm

 2015 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz, Barossa Valley

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: This wine reflects the up & coming Shiraz vineyards of the Barossa, rather than the battle hardened old vines which make up the core of our other cuvee’s. Full of deep, dark berry fruit, the 2015 vintage is sensational array of opulent rich fruit with a wonderful freshness and balance. A dark deep, central core of fruit gives way to an intense textural mid palate full of mocha, plum, spice and dark chocolate. Whilst offering immense pleasure in its youth the 2015 Woodcutter’s Shiraz will certainly develop into an impressive wine with a few years in the cellar. Another fantastic introduction to the Torbreck range.

Like all wines in the Torbreck stable, the fruit is sourced from hand harvested and hand tended plots throughout the North Western Barossa Valley. It is fermented in our cement, wooden and stainless steel vats for 6-7 days and then basket pressed to well-seasoned hogsheads and French oak foudres for 12 months. It is bottled without the use of either fining or filtration.  This wine is 100% Shiraz

The Winery:  (from Wine Searcher) Torbreck is a leading wine producer in the Barossa Valley region of Australia, specializing in Shiraz. It is particularly known for its powerful and aromatic flagship Runrig Shiraz (made from 120-160-year-old vines with a dash of Viognier), and The Laird, a single vineyard Shiraz that is one of the most expensive wines made in Australia. However, Torbreck makes around 15 wines in all, and the portfolio is based around Rhône varieties like Grenache, Mourvedre, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne.The estate was founded by David Powell in 1994 with grapes initially obtained on a sharecropping basis. The name comes from a forest in Scotland where he once worked as a lumberjack, and many of the wines also have Scottish-themed names. Torbreck has developed its own vineyard holdings but much of its fruit is still sourced from selected growers throughout the Barossa Valley.

Read more at: https://www.wine-searcher.com/producer-12723-torbreck-vintners

2013 Gordon Estate, Shiraz, Columbia Valley

The Wine:  This is a 100% Syrah wine. Columbia Valley, Washington- Shows great varietal expression laced with layers of rich cassis, dark chocolate and pepper. Smooth on the palate with a long-lasting finish, aged 22 months in French oak, hand-crafted by Jeff Gordon and his family.

Tasting Notes: Our 2013 Syrah reveals an intense deep purple with hues of garnet at the margins. Dense dark fruit aromas lead to more subtle notes of roasted coffee, forest floor and rose petal. For all the aromas of dark fruit the impression on the palate is plush and velvety with bright flavors of red fruit, fresh sprigs of thyme and oregano, freshly peeled orange and a touch of violets. The finish is long and lingering with a gentleness of fruit that keeps coming through.

The Winery: The vineyard is sustainably farmed and the surrounding cherry orchards and cropland are certified organic. With a unique volcanic soil breakdown that includes basalt, sandy loam, clay loam and gravelly loam, the earth of the Gordon Estate vineyard produces grapes of great depth and intensity.

The south-facing site is perched some 620 feet above sea-level along the Snake River. The vineyard has excellent air drainage and benefits from the river’s moderating influence. The vines are sometimes blanketed by snow in the winter, but spring and summer offer sunshine and warmth allowing the grapes to ripen completely. Temperatures during the growing season can fluctuate from 95 degrees Fahrenheit the day to 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night, enabling the grapes to develop high acids and high sugar levels. The majority of the 100-acre estate vineyard is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer, with small experimental lots set aside for Tempranillo and Malbec.

Read more at: http://gordonwines.com/

2014 Nobles Rives, Cave de Tain, Hermitage

The Wine: The northern Rhône’s biggest appellation, sufficiently similar to the great Hermitage to have earned the right to affix that name to it. Like Hermitage it is made from 100% Syrah. This wine offers seductive plum-rich fruit with a twist of smoky spice on the finish. Delicious with roast meats, game and casseroles.

The Winery: (see above under the first wine notes )

 4.  CV Members Rating

Participants ratings:

  • 2015 Nobles Rives, Cave de Tain, Crozes Hermitage Blanc –Good to Very Good ($22) WE 88 Pts.
  • 2015 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz, Barossa Valley – Good to Very Good ($25)      WS 93 Pts.
  • 2013 Gordon Estate, Shiraz, Columbia Valley –  Very Good to Excellent ($27)       WE 88 Pts.
  • 2014 Nobles Rives, Cave de Tain, Hermitage  – Very Good to Excellent ($60)        WS 88 Pts.

View full evaluation here: SYRAH191TASTING SUMMARY (1)

Best Rated Wine: 2013 Gordon State Syrah, Columbia Valley

Best Buy: 2013 Gordon State Syrah, Columbia Valley

5. Technical Notes 

(Compiled by Jairo Sanchez)


Wine Searcher.com

Syrah is a dark-skinned red wine grape. Its origins have been popularly debated, but its modern viticultural home is unquestionably the northern Rhône Valley of eastern France. In Australia, Syrah has developed such a distinct personality that it is essentially regarded as a distinct variety, is overwhelmingly known as Shiraz, and is regarded as the flagship national grape.

Syrah has proved successful around the world; wines are produced in many styles and display myriad dark-fruit flavors. Varietal Syrah can be quite floral in its youth, developing white and black pepper aromas and herbaceous notes as it ages. Some examples show tanned leather and smoky scents, while the fruit in these wines tends towards the very dark flavors of blackcurrant and licorice. 

Syrah Grapes,

Syrah is also an extremely useful blending grape due to its deep color and typically high tannins. In the southern Rhône it is common for Syrah to be blended with any combination of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsaut, among others.

Some of the world’s most famous Syrah wines are the peppery, earthy reds of the northern Rhône, specifically of the Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, Cornas and Saint-Joseph appellations. While Hermitage has been held in high regard for many centuries, the “roasted slopes” of Côte-Rôtie have emerged as a leading source of Syrah only towards the end of the 20th Century. In Côte-Rôtie, up to 20 percent Viognier can be co-fermented with the red grapes to lift aromas and stabilize color; Syrah-Viognier blends are now made in many other regions.

One of Syrah’s most valued assets is its ability to produce wines capable of aging and improving over many decades. The most valued appellation in this regard is the hill of Hermitage; its name is so respected that for many years it was used as a synonym for Syrah in Australia. A well-built Hermitage requires 10 years or more to relax into its plummy, spicy fullness, and will reward cellaring for a further decade at least.

Several hundred miles up the Rhône Valley from Hermitage, near the river’s origins at the Rhône Glacier, Syrah has found a happy home in the Valais, in warm, sheltered sloping vineyards where it can produce remarkably full, complex wines. A further 700 kilometers (450 miles) east, the grape variety enjoys the climate of eastern Austria’s Burgenland, moderated by the waters of Lake Neusiedl.

Across the Atlantic Ocean Syrah has a cult following in the western United States, in California, Washington and Oregon. While it has not seen the runaway success enjoyed by Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel, nor the feverish worship of Pinot Noir, a dedicated band of American winemakers has been devotedly working with Syrah since the 1970s. Known as the Rhône Rangers, these men and women have proven that the variety can produce complex, rich wines in all three of the above states.

Further south, Syrah has been proving itself in both Chile and Argentina for at least 20 years, and is finding its own style on either side of the Andean peaks. It has also achieved success in New Zealand, and in South Africa. 

Food matches for Syrah include:

  • Cassoulet (hearty stew of confit duck and pork sausage)
  • Pork spare ribs with barbecue sauce

Rosemary-crusted lamb tenderloin with red wine jus


Snooth.com Gregory dial Piaz and WineFolly.com

In many Syrah-based blends, it plays a supporting role, helping to beef up the wine’s mid-palate and adds structural elements to Grenache’s rather open-knit texture. When the roles are reversed, Syrah takes the lead and can be a fascinating exercise in wine blending. Syrah is so much more assertive than Grenache, for example, that while a dollop of Syrah in a Grenache-based wine can have a profound affect, the reverse is rarely true.

Australia is arguably the king of Syrah-based blends, using the classic blending grapes of Syrah and Mourvedre, but also experimenting with Cabernet, for example, as well as the classic Cote Rôtie blend that marries Syrah with a dollop of Viognier.  This practice, one that can lighten the power of Syrah a bit while boosting aromatic intensity and complexity gaining strength in Australia while it fades from use in the Northern Rhone.

Blessed with pronounced savory elements that include flavors and aromas of game, grilled meat and olives, Syrah is not always an easy wine to understand. It’s also rather well endowed with tannins and acids. In short, it has so much of what people seem to shun in wine that it’s a miracle there’s any still planted.


                              Syrah and GSM Profiles


                             Syrah                   GSM Blend                                    

Fruit                       5                           5

Body                       5                           4

Tannin                    3                           4

Acidity                    4                           4

Alcohol                   4                            4


Cultivated Area       459,000 Acres         1’000,0000 Acres


                                        Regional Differences

Warm Weather


Fruit-forward blackberry, blueberry and sweet tobacco

Full-bodied wines with fruit forward flavors of blackberry, blueberry, sweet tobacco smoke, chocolate, baking spices and vanilla

Cool Weather


Savory plum, olive and green peppercorn

Medium to full-bodied wines with Savory flavors of plum, olive, boysenberry, leather, green peppercorn, bacon fat and cocoa powder



California, USA, South Australia, Spain, Argentina, South Africa



Rhone Valley, France, Columbia Valley WA, USA, Victoria, Australia, Western Australia, Chile

Syrah as single variety wine

South Australia, Northern, Rhône, California, Columbia Valley WA, USA

Syrah blended with other varieties

Cotes du Rhône and Languedoc-Roussillon, in France, Castilla la Mancha, Extremadura. Catalonia, Valencia and Aragon, in Spain.



Posted in Meeting Abstract | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tasting No. 190 – July 31, 2017 – Rare Chilean Wines

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Source: Wikimedia Commons

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Pedro Turina, Germán Zincke

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Alberto Gómez, John Redwood, Orlando Mason, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sánchez, Ricardo Santiago, Ginger Smart, Pedro Turina, Germán Zincke.

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview

This tasting focuses on wines from Chile that are less known worldwide (i.e. the Sauvignon Blanc from Leyda Valley), new wines from traditional regions (Pinot Noir from Bio Bio), wines produced according to artisan methods (including aging in clay amphorae) from 200 year old País grapevines introduced centuries ago by the missionaries and wines produced following strict biodynamic methods. These are the wines:

  1. 2015 Montes Spring Harvest ,  Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley
  2. 2015 Veranda, Pinot Noir, Bio Bio Valley
  3. 2013 González Bastías, País en Tinaja, País, Maule Valley
  4. 2012 Emiliana, Coyam, (Certified BioDynamic) Red Blend, Colchagua Valley

3. The Menu

  1. Lobster Bisque
  2. Portobello al forno
  3. Insalata di Pomodoro
  4. Filet mignon
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

2015 Montes Spring Harvest, Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley

The Wine: “Montes Spring Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2015 is the first and freshest of the vintage, where the best possible grapes are harvested early and brought to market early. Sauvignon Blanc from Leyda Valley in Chile is renowned for delivering world class freshness and minerality, and Montes produces the region’s best.” -Winery,

(Wine Enthusiast) Passion fruit, lettuce, grapefruit and tropical aromas get this Sauvignon Blanc off to a nice start. Zesty, speedy and super fresh on the palate, with blazing acidity, this tastes of passion fruit, green herbs and grass, especially on a racy, slightly pithy finish.

The Winery: (from Wine Searcher) Leyda Valley is a small sub-region of the San Antonio Valley wine region in Chile, located just 55 miles (90km) west of the Chilean capital, Santiago. This cool-climate region enjoys the effects of the cold Humboldt Current of the Pacific Ocean, and consequently produces bright, vibrant wines made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

This close proximity to the coast is what is driving growers to Leyda. Cold ocean breezes and morning fog moderate the overall temperatures, and the valley is therefore significantly cooler than its low latitude might suggest. These cool temperatures are complemented by warm sunshine during the long growing season, letting grapes ripen fully and develop complexity while still retaining acidity.

Leyda Valley’s soils are largely clay and loam over a granite base with moderate drainage. These low-fertility soils are good for the production of premium grapes because they make the vines struggle for survival. This results in vines that put all their energy into producing small, concentrated grapes rather than leafy foliage. Wines produced from these grapes tend to be structured and complex.

Read more at: https://www.monteswines.com/en/

 2015 Veranda Pinot Noir, Bio Bio Valley  

The Wine: Raspberry and cocoa aromas are dusty and subdued. A tight, tannic palate is driving, while flavors of citrus and red plum come with spice and oak notes. A spice component with sharp acidity carry onto a firm, chalky finish.

The Winery:  The Bío Bío is the southernmost wine producing valley in Chile. It has unique and distinctive characteristics for vine cultivation. It is situated 500 km. south of Santiago and 50 km. from the Pacific Ocean. It is noted for having a cold climate with moderate maximum temperatures which allow the grapes to mature slowly. It also has the perfect conditions to obtain highly aromatic berries, which are perfectly balanced with natural acidity. These conditions allow the wines to express their unique freshness and intense fruity aromas and elegance.

In order to create authentic wines, Veranda has developed a perfect combination: the French Burgundy experience given by its winemakers and the expression of all the potential that comes from the terroir. Through carefully selecting premium grapes from our terroir, Veranda has been able to achieve top quality standards, resulting, at the same time, in the creation of sublime wines.

2013 Gonzalez Bastías, País en Tinaja, País, Maule

The Wine:  This wine is 100% “pais” grape, originally called “Misión”.

( K&L) “The vines are primarily 200 year old (you read that correctly, 200 years old!) Mission vines, with a smattering of very old (but slightly less old) Moscatel Negra. Following harvest, this wine is literally hand pressed. Hands are used to press grapes through traditional bamboo canes (called “zarandas”), then the wine ferments in a small concrete tank. Here it is punched down multiple times a day, and then finally it is transferred to amphora where it ages until bottling. Aromas are sappy, with root beer and ripe red fruit intermingling with a foresty quality and powdered licorice. The flavors are juicy, very rich and yet still with good freshness. A certain influence, perhaps from the seeds, can be detected in this wine’s tannins as well, which further bolsters this fascinating handmade wine. (Joe Manekin, K&L Chilean wine buyer)”.

The Winery: González Bastías is a town, as well as a small, family owned winery in the western Maule Valley owned and operated by Jose Luis Bastias and Daniela Lorenzo.  The Maule Valley is well south of Santiago as well as the more familiar Chilean regions Maipo and Colchagua.   The vineyard itself consists of ten acres planted by Jose’s ancestors in the early 1800s, and he represents the fifth generation to farm these vineyards.  The story doesn’t sound all that unusual thus far, except that most folks don’t really think about Chile’s viticultural history as that old.  In reality, vines were introduced by the missionaries that accompanied the conquistadores, so the history goes back even further than the 1800s.

We’ll skip the history detail of the story, except that it is relevant in one respect.  Among the cuttings that the early missionaries brought to this part of the world (and later on to California as well) were ‘Mission grapes’, which in this part of the world is referred to as Pais. The two González Bastías wines we are offering today, from those 200-year-old vines, are made from 100% Pais.

This sandy, gravelly vineyard is located right by the Maule river. The area, less than 30 miles from the Pacific Ocean, is designated as a “secano costero” which means there is ‘no irrigation’.  Thus this vineyard depends on rain and underground water for its survival.  If you want to visit the winery, it is located midway between Talca and Constitución and you get there by taking a historic train known as the “Last Ramal” (declared a National Monument in 1997). The winery is right across the river from the González Bastías Station and the last part of the journey across the river to the winery is by boat. We’re not making this up.

Watch this interesting video to better understand how this rustic wine is made: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEQMYj6uQ3s&feature=youtu.be

And watch a bit of the history of the Pais grape here (in Spanish): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4Un3VqZmcQ

Read more at (in Spanish but can use Google traslator to read in English): http://www.apuntesdesobremesa.cl/archivos/3491

 2012 Emiliana, Coyam, (Certified Biodynamic) Red Blend, Colchagua Valley

The Wine:  Winemaker’s Notes: The Emiliana Coyam displays intense dark violet-red color with aromas of ripe red and black fruits integrated with notes of spice, earth and a hint of vanilla. Beautifully balanced and full on the palate. Good structure with soft, round tannins. Elegant expressions of fruit delicately interwoven with oak, mineral, and toffee.

James Suckling – “Beautiful aromas of dark fruit, walnuts and almonds. Full body, extremely integrated tannins and a long caressing finish. A blend of 38% syrah with 31% carmenere, 19%merlot, 10% cabernet sauvignon, 1% mourvedre and 1% malbec. A balanced and caressing textured red. Drink or hold.”

The Winery: (From Wine Searcher) Emiliana Organic Vineyards is a leading Chilean wine company and one of the foremost producers of certified organic and biodynamic wines in the world. It makes a large range of wines from classic Chilean grape varieties, including Carmenère,  Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The company has vineyards all over the country, covering nearly 1200 hectares (3000 acres) of lands in such famous wine regions as Colchagua, Maipo, and the Casablanca Valley.

In the vineyard, chickens are used for pest control, and alpacas and horses live alongside the vines to encourage biodiversity. There are also nurseries and biological corridors of native plants and trees, and cover crops of grasses and flowers between the vine rows. Across all vineyard and winery processes, various projects in energy efficiency, carbon emission reduction and waste management are employed, and environmentally friendly packaging is used.

Read more at: http://www.emiliana.cl/#home

4.  CV Members Rating


Participants ratings:

  • 2015 Montes Spring Harvest ,  Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley  –  $18 –Excellent
  • 2015 Veranda, Pinot Noir, Bio Bio Valley – $19 Good
  • 2013 González Bastías, País en Tinaja, País, Maule Valley –  $25 Very Good
  • 2012 Emiliana, Coyam, (Certified BioDynamic) Red Blend, Colchagua Valley – $39 Excellent

View full evaluation here: Summary of Tasting Scores Reunion 190 – 7-28-17


Best Rated: 2012 Emiliana, Coyam, (Certified Biodynamic) Red Blend, Colchagua Valley

Best Buy: 2015 Montes Spring Harvest, Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley


5. Technical Notes 

Read more about new Chilean wines here: http://www.vinous.com/articles/the-best-new-wines-from-chile-mar-2008

Read more about wine industry and regions in Chile here: https://clubvino1.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/chilean-wine1-1.pdf


Posted in Meeting Abstract | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tasting No 189. – June 26, 2017 – Merlot and its Blends


 Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Saint Emilion

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Alberto Gómez, Orlando Mason


MembersMario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sánchez, Jairo Sanchez, Ricardo Santiago, Pedro Turina, Ricardo Zavaleta, Germán Zincke.

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. Tasting Overview  

The  main objectives of this tasting are to compare Merlot-based wines from the new and old worlds to determine differences in style, evaluate their characteristics and establish group and individual preferences. We will also judge the best pairings with the food.

These are the wines:

  1. 2013 Duckhorn, Napa Valley, Merlot
  2. 2010 Château Fombrauge, Saint Emilion, Grand Cru
  3. 2013 Chateau Ste Michelle, Canoe Ridge Estate, Columbia Valley, Merlot
  4. 2012 Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre, Colchagua and Rapel Valleys, Merlot

3. The Menu

  1. Tegamino E Vongole Di Cozze – Prince Edward mussels and Clams sautéed in a red wine sauce, served with toasted bread.
  2. Insalata Della CasaMixed Organic Greens Tossed with Virgin Olive Oil & Aged Balsamic Vinegar.
  3. Pappardelle Verde – Green flat pasta with chicken breast, Italian sausages, mushroom and tomato sauce.
  4. Short Ribs –Short ribs in red wine sauce with roasted squash, red pepper, & mushrooms.
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from varios internet sources) .

2013 Duckhorn, Napa Valley, Merlot

The Wine:  Winemaker’s Notes. This gorgeous wine displays intense aromas of ripe cherry, followed by more nuanced elements of cedar, sweet spices, orange peel and cigar box. On the palate, layers of black raspberry and spiced plum mingle with more savory notes of nutmeg and pencil lead. With firm, well-integrated tannins that extend the finish, this beautifully structured Merlot also promises great ageability.

The wine is a blend of  88% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Barrel Aging: 15 Months Age of Barrels: 25% new, 75% second vintage.

The Winery:   Co-founded by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in 1976, Duckhorn Vineyards has spent almost forty years establishing itself as one of North America’s premier producers of Napa Valley wines. From its modest inaugural vintage of 800 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon and 800 cases of Merlot in 1978, to its addition of Sauvignon Blanc in 1982, Duckhorn Vineyards has crafted a tradition of quality and excellence that continues today.

Fundamental to that tradition was the early decision by Duckhorn Vineyards to focus on the production of Merlot. Though many Napa Valley wineries were using Merlot as a blending grape in the late seventies, few were exploring the potential of this varietal as a stand-alone wine. A great fan of Merlot since traveling to St. Emilion and Pomerol, Dan Duckhorn felt that this elegant varietal was under appreciated in North America. “I liked the softness, the seductiveness, the color,” says Dan, “the fact that it went with a lot of different foods; it wasn’t so bold, didn’t need to age so long, and it had this velvety texture to it. It seemed to me to be a wonderful wine to just enjoy. I became enchanted with Merlot.”

(from Wine.com) Duckhorn Vineyards has been crafting Bordeaux varietals from the Napa Valley for over 30 years. This winemaking tradition has grown to include seven estate vineyards, located throughout the various microclimates of the Napa Valley. Focused on quality and consistency, these estate vineyards are an essential element in making wines of distinction.

One of the first wineries to pioneer Merlot as a premium varietal, Duckhorn Vineyards now makes several elegant Merlot and distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon bottlings to showcase the characteristics of its vineyard sites. In addition, the winery is known for its acclaimed Sauvignon Blanc. Beginning with the 2006 vintage, Duckhorn Vineyards unveiled The Discussion, a Cabernet Sauvignon-based blend that represents the pinnacle of Duckhorn’s portfolio.

Read more at: https://www.duckhorn.com/

 2010 Château Fombrauge, Saint Emilion, Grand Cru


The Wine: Wine Spectator.“This has a really nice graphite frame that drives the core of fig, plum and boysenberry fruit authoritatively, with dense ganache, espresso and tar on the finish. The grip is keeping things tight now, but this should meld in the cellar, as the underlying feel is energetic. Best from 2015 through 2025. “

Wine Advocate .” This is one of the better, more supple Fombrauge wines to date, with a better integration of toasty oak than I have usually seen at this stage of this wine’s development. The grapes were picked late, with the harvest finishing on October 22, and that has given the wine wonderful ripeness and plenty of chocolaty espresso notes intermixed with incense, black cherries and black currants. The oak is subtle, and the wine full-bodied, attractive, deep, round and generous. Drink it over the next 10-12 years.

This wine is a blend of 77% Merlot, 9% Cabernet sauvignon, and 14% Cabernet Franc

 The Winery:  Château Fombrauge is the largest Grand Cru Classé of Saint-Emilion with a vineyard stretching on 58.60 hectares (143 ac.). It is its exceptional surface area that gives the soil a unique character. A typicity in diversity. Diversity of soils but also multiple exposures donate Château Fombrauge’s wine complexity and identity.

(From Winesearcher.com)Fombrauge has existed as a property since the 15th Century, with the first vines documented in 1613. In 1999, it was bought by Bernard Magrez, and now Michel Rolland acts as consultant. The name of the château derives from Fons Brogiera, a spring surrounded by an area of heather.

The vineyard has diverse soils ranging from chalky clay on limestone to iron-rich deposits and molasse soils. Fombrauge also has a range of different exposures, giving a complexity of terroir which is unusual for the appellation. The majority of the vineyard is planted to Merlot, with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon making up the remainder.

Château Fombrauge is hand-harvested in small crates and is typically cold-macerated before fermentation in oak vats (although stainless steel or concrete tanks may be used depending on the vintage). It is then aged in French oak barrels, 50 percent of which are new.

Read more at: http://www.bernard-magrez.com/en/wines/chateau-fombrauge

 2013 Chateau Ste Michelle, Canoe Ridge Estate, Columbia Valley,  Merlot

The Wine:  Smooth & Supple. Grape/Blend: Predominantly Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. 

Winemaker’s Notes: The Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot is an elegant expression of Washington Merlot. It offers dark cherry fruit character and dusty tannins. This is a perfect match with Italian food and dishes with lamb, beef and fowl.

The Wine Spectator: “Broad and spicy, with pepper and clove overtones to the rich blueberry and currant fruit, coming together harmoniously against softly nubby tannins on the expressive finish. Drink now through 2022.”

Vinous / Antonio Galloni – “Bright ruby-red. Alluring, complex scents of slightly medicinal black cherry, pomegranate, licorice, chicory, garrigue and roast coffee. Suave and fine-grained, communicating excellent energy to its primary dark fruit and spice flavors. Noteworthy definition and class here. Finishes classically dry, juicy and long. An outstanding wine for its relatively gentle price.”

The Winery: The vineyard at Canoe Ridge Estate is home to 559 acres dedicated to producing elegant, refined wines with concentration and structure. 12 million years ago, a powerful river of lava carved what is today known as Canoe Ridge or alternately a bit of “Europe on the Columbia”.Canoe Ridge Estate wines have earned scores of 90 or higher on more than 40 of their wines; and our Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot have each received Wine Spectator ‘Top 100’ honors.

Built on the 1912 estate owned by Seattle lumber baron Frederick Stimson, the winery’s roots date back to the Repeal of Prohibition. The first vines were planted at Cold Creek Vineyard in Eastern Washington in 1972. Four years later, Ste. Michelle Vintners built a French style winery Chateau in Woodinville, and changed its name to Chateau Ste. Michelle. In 1991, we planted our vineyard at Canoe Ridge Estate on the south face of the ridge that rises 950 feet above sea level. The vineyard’s steep slope and proximity to the river combine to alleviate frost pockets and seasonal temperature extremes. Because winters are milder than other parts of the valley, spring bud break is earlier. In the summer, the river moderates temperatures again, giving us an extended growing season and adding character to the grapes. Since then, we have combined Old World winemaking traditions with New World innovation. In fact, Chateau Ste. Michelle is one of the few premium wineries in the world with two state-of-the-art wineries, one for red and one for white. The whites are made at the Chateau in Woodinville, WA, while the reds are made at our Canoe Ridge Estate winery in Eastern Washington.”

Read more at: https://www.ste-michelle.com/

 2012 Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre, Colchagua and Rapel Valleys, Merlot

The Wine: Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Merlot is an intense dark purple color.Complex and intense nose with red and black fruit such as raspberry and blueberries. Dark plums notes and cacao aromas. Round. Juicy tannins structure, balance acidity and very persistent finish. Ideal companion for meats and well seasoned dishes with a red wine demiglace such as short ribs and angus beef.

Wine Enthusiast – “Plum, blackberry and boysenberry aromas show nuances of citrus peel and rubber band. On the palate, this is tight, mildly tannic and slightly astringent due to firm tannins. A mix of ripe blackberry and cassis flavors come with chocolaty oak in front of a hard-pushing, lightly herbal finish.”

This wine is blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Carmenere.

The Winery: Lapostolle was founded by Alexandra Marnier Lapostolle and her husband Cyril de Bournet in 1994. The Marnier Lapostolle family, founders and owners of the world-renowned liqueur Grand Marnier, is famous for producing spirits and liqueurs, but the family has also been involved in winemaking for generations. In creating Lapostolle, the family has pursued the same uncompromising approach to quality that made Grand Marnier a global success. Its objective is as simple as it is ambitious: to create world-class wines using French expertise and the superb terroirs of Chile Today, Lapostolle owns 370 hectares in three different vineyards and produce a total of 200.000 cases spread over Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenère, and Syrah.

Read more at: http://en.lapostollewines.com/

 4.  CV Members Rating

Participants ranking, average scores and wine prices:  The participants judged the wines from very good to excellent according with this order of preference:

1St.  2013 Chateau Ste Michelle, Canoe Ridge Estate, Columbia Valley, Merlot. – 91 Pts. ($26)

2nd 2010 Château Fombrauge, Saint Emilion, Grand Cru – 90 Pts. ($35)

3rd. Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre, Colchagua – 89 Pts. ($21)

4th  2013 Duckhorn, Napa Valley, Merlot 2012 – 89 Pts. ($43)

Best Rated red Wine: 2013 Chateau Ste Michelle, Canoe Ridge Estate, Columbia Valley, Merlot

Best value for Money: Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre, Colchagua

See full evaluation here: Summary of Tasting 189 – .Merlot. docx

5. Technical Notes 

Jairo Sanchez compiled this extensive note on Merlot for those who want to learn more about it: Merlot



Posted in Meeting Abstract | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Six Mistakes You Are Making When Pairing Food With Wine

Bloomberg Pusuits  June 19, 2017

The Six Mistakes You Are Making When Pairing Food With Wine

Think you can’t drink red with fish? That champagne goes with sweet desserts? Think again.
June 19, 2017, 10:45 AM EDT

The worst wine and food combo I’ve ever tasted was a soft, gooey-textured Krispy Kreme doughnut coated in a sugary glaze with a decadent, opulent 1975 Château d’Yquem. They were both delicious on their own; the problem was that the doughnut was way sweeter than the wine. The Bordeaux’s fabled lusciousness came across as battery acid.

I tried it because I was at a dinner honoring a noted wine collector, and it was his personal favorite pairing. You know what else it was? Proof that even serious wine lovers make serious errors when matching food with wine.

Curious about the mistakes we all make, I quizzed a half-dozen sommeliers, who spend their time trying to suggest the best pairings to their customers, about the most common goofs. Even though all of them had strong opinions about the subject, they were anxious not to criticize their customers’ choices.

After all, one told me, it’s hard to describe any food and wine pairings as purely disastrous. We each bring our own taste buds to the table, and the biochemical processes that combine to create the thought, “Hey, this wine goes great with pepperoni pizza,” are highly individual. Still, there are some general principles.

Here are the six mistakes they say many people make.

Insisting on only white wine with fish

A fish dish with such powerful flavors as fennel, garlic, and chillies might go very well with a light red.
Photographer: Monty Rakusen/Cultura RF

Aldo Sohm, the chief sommelier at three-star Michelin restaurant Le Bernardin, dreams up unusual food and wine pairings while jogging on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Imagining what will go with what is always on his mind, which is a thing you’d expect from someone once named “Best Sommelier in the World.”

Fish reigns at the restaurant, and Sohm said some customers still think they have to order white with every fish dish. “You don’t,” he said. “You can often do a red. It all depends on the sauce. Look at the menu first and read the description.” (Or, I might add, ask the sommelier for advice.) Sohm admitted, however, that a muscle-bound California red such as Screaming Eagle isn’t the ideal choice to accompany the delicate fish on Le Bernardin’s menu. So choose with care.

Serving champagne with wedding cake—or any kind of sweet dessert

Also: It’s your wedding, so just get drunk on whatever you want.
Photographer: fourseasons/E+

June is the big wedding month, and at many nuptial dinners, brut Champagne will be sipped with sweet, frosted cake as guests toast the bride and groom. That match is going to be a bad marriage, sighed master sommelier Evan Goldstein, who has written two books on food and wine pairing and is president of Full Circle Wine Solutions. “The tartness of the wine will clash with the sweetness of the cake,” he said. The wine will taste even more acidic, like lemon juice. The solution? Serve a light sweet Italian moscato or prosecco with the cake. Serve Champagne as an aperitif.

Choosing rosé as a compromise wine

Never compromise.
Photographer: Sara Ricci / EyeEm/EyeEm

Master sommelier Ronan Sayburn has worked as executive head somm for the Gordon Ramsay Group and luxury hotel chains, and now oversees wine at exclusive London wine club 67 Pall Mall. “Working as a sommelier, you often see some bad choices, like martinis or cosmopolitans drunk with an entire meal,” he complained. (I imagine his shudder.) But his “personal bugbear” is that many diners opt for rosé when one person has ordered fish and the other a steak.

“They think it will match both,” he said, “but it won’t go with either one.” Instead, consult the by-the-glass list so you each can order something appropriate.


Always drinking red wine with cheese

Do you dare?
Photographer: tab1962/iStockphoto

A common mistake among diners at New York’s Restaurant Daniel, said Raj Vaidya, the head sommelier, is finishing a dinner red with the cheese course.

“Very few reds can balance out the tart acidity of most goat’s milk cheeses, especially those coated in ash or herbs,” he explained. “They’re better with Champagne or chenin blanc.” A rich, cow’s milk triple-cream cheese needs a round, creamy white Burgundy that complements its texture, not a tannic cabernet or syrah. If you want to sip red, Vaidya recommends choosing aged cheddar or mimolette, which are less tart and have chewier textures.

Ignoring the “structure” of the wine and food

You can do this.
Photographer: Bravo/NBCUniversal

Master somm Pascaline Lepeltier heads up the wine program at Rouge Tomate, whose list just won the World of Fine Wine’s award for the best long wine list in the world, believes pairing is a highly complex subject. People wrongly focus on flavors and aromas when choosing a wine with their food, she said.

It’s more important to match the fat, acid, sweetness, and texture in the dish with the acid, alcohol, tannins, and sweetness of the wine. If you mix a highly spicy dish awash in barbecue sauce with a high-alcohol wine, she explained, the flavors may match, but the hot spice will enhance the alcohol and make the wine taste almost burnt. To tame the spice, pick a slightly sweet white.

Believing there is one perfect wine for a dish

There is a world of wine out there, go play in it.
Photographer: Halfdark/fStop

U.K.-based Fiona Beckett is the mastermind behind one of the best—and most sensible—wine and food pairing sites: matchingfoodandwine.com. She pointed out that people have different palates yet still think there are hard and fast ideal combinations. People like to say sauvignon blanc is the best match for goat cheese, she said, but what if you’re not a fan of sauvignon blanc? There need to be options.

Her view is that matching wine and food is like cooking: “If a fruit goes with an ingredient (such as cherries with duck) a wine that includes those flavors, like pinot noir, will work, too.” How a dish is cooked, not the base ingredient, should the starting point when selecting a wine.

Bloomberg Pusuits  June 19, 2017


Posted in Magazines and Books wine related, Wine - Vino - Vinho | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tasting No. 188 – May 22, 2017- Modern Wines from Argentina


 Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Italo Mirkow, Raúl Sanguinetti


MembersMario Aguilar, Marcello Averburg, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, Ítalo Mirkow, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sánchez, Jairo Sánchez, Raúl Sanguinetti, Ricardo Santiago, Xavi Vila, Germán Zincke.


Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview  

Argentina’s wine production has evolved dramatically in the last two decades.  Producers have moved from the flag bearer Malbec into rediscovered Bordeaux-type blends and varietals based on a wide range of grapes (for instance Cabs, Merlot, Bonarda, Torrontes, etc.).  Moreover there has been a strong movement to produce wines that reflect  the specificities of the terroir led by many renowned winemakers, such as Laura Catena and others.  The  main objective of this tasting is to explore new wines from Argentina.

3. The Menu

  1. Lobster Bisque
  2. Spinach agnolotti with pink sauce
  3. Arugula salad
  4. Veal scallopini with mushrooms and rosemary sauce
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from varios internet sources) .

2014 Catena Alta – Chardonnay – Catena Zapata


The Wine: Winemaker’s Notes: The Catena Alta Chardonnay shows an intense green-yellow color with golden highlights. The nose offers ripe white fruit aromas such as pears and peaches that are interwoven with delicate citrus and floral notes, such as Jasmine. The palate shows rich and concentrated ripe pear, apple and apricot flavors with a light note of minerality. The wine finishes long and complex with crisp, mineral acidity.

At almost 5,000 feet elevation in the Andean foothills, the Adrianna vineyard’s calcareous soils and cool climate are the promised land of Chardonnay. The fruit from the Adrianna vineyard has a purity of flavors and a minerality that is particular to this vineyard and can not be found anywhere else in Mendoza. The nearby, gravel-covered Domingo Vineyard makes up 20% of the blend. Elevage: 14 months in French oak barrels.

Pair this full-bodied Chardonnay with full-bodied fish like sockeye salmon and tuna, any dish featuring Mousseline sauce, or an old-school classic like Lobster Thermidor.

The Winery: In the mid-nineties, in an effort to produce a super-premium wine, the winemaking team of Catena began an in-depth investigation into the yields from specially selected, high altitude vineyards, identifying the individual rows that produce the best fruit. Catena Alta is an assemblage of these historic rows within the Catena family’s estate vineyards. The blend of these rows, like the blend of musical notes that compose a symphony, creates a wine that is layered and complex, concentrated yet nuanced. The Catena Alta Chardonnay is produced from two of the Catena family vineyards – the Adrianna Vineyard at almost 5,000 feet elevation and the Domingo Vineyard at 3,700 feet elevation. The Adrianna Vineyard’s calcareous soils and cool climate are ideal for growing Chardonnay. The fruit from Adrianna has a purity of flavors and a minerality that is particular to this vineyard and cannot be found anywhere else in Mendoza. Nearby, the gravel-covered, loamy soils of the Domingo Vineyard produce grapes that contribute white peach and citrus notes to the wine. This Chardonnay is 100% barrel fermented in French oak with a little more than two-thirds of the wine undergoing malolactic fermentation.

Read more at: http://www.catenawines.com/index.php

 2011 Felino Viña Cobos – Merlot – Mendoza

The Wine:  “In this vintage, our merlot expresses great typicality.  We can enjoy a precious ruby color. On the nose we find massive red fruit, plums and licorice complemented by spicy notes, refined minerality and a delicate floral touch making it very elegant. On the palate, we enjoy a sweet sensation with soft, polished tannins. This is a gorgeous wine with a persistent finish”.

The Winery:  The Andes Mountains create an arid climate and provide irrigation water.  Due to the low precipitation in the area, irrigation management becomes a determining factor for production possibilities. The main source of water to irrigate the vineyards is snow-melt water, used for surface or pressurized irrigation.  Underground water is also accessed by deep water-wells.  Water supply is strictly controlled by government entities.

Cold weather during winter month benefits the dormant stage of the vine. In summer, the wide change in temperature from day to night favors optimum ripening conditions and excellent qualitative characteristics for the grape clusters.

Soils are of alluvial origin (alluvial/colluvial origin), poor in organic matter and with high heterogeneity. The soils closer to the Andes Mountains show higher heterogeneity and larger-size stones compared to those in more distant areas in the east. From an edaphological approach, it can be said that the soils are young, and poor. Soils are loam to clay-loam, with minerals such as calcareous stones.

Finally, the agricultural footprint was laid by the areas first settlers, who designed the irrigation systems that made agriculture possible.  Later, the Spanish colonizers, who brought the first vines to the Americas, expanded upon the original framework. Together with the cultural influence from the waves of European immigrants, arriving to Argentina in the late 19th century and early 20th century, are invaluable contributors that outline the current scenario of this current industry and allow us to understand the “terroir” in its true potential.  European immigrants not only brought new vine varieties suitable for producing quality wines, but also cultivation techniques and a deep love for the terroir and for wine.

Read more at: http://www.vinacobos.com/en

 2014 Paisaje de Barrancas- Flichman-Syrah -Mendoza

The Wine: This blend of Syrah, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina is heavy duty to say the least! The nose is dominated by intense oak aromas of toasted caramel, vanilla, and spice. The palate is smooth and lush providing flavors of dark fruit and cassis alongside big tannins.

Varietal Blend: 60 Syrah, 30 Malbec, 10 Cabernet Sauvignon
Aging: 12 months in 50 percent American and 50 percent French oak barrels, then another 6 months in bottle before release

The Winery: Finca Flichman is a well-recognized Argentine wine-producer due to record quality and innovation. It was first established in 1873 in Barrancas, Maipu by Sami Flichman, a Jewish immigrant of Polish origen. He was a visionary pioneer, who planted vineyards on the dry and rocky bed of the Mendoza river. In 1910 the family business was given the name Finca Flichman. Finca Flichman has managed to create quality wines with unique personalities on a large scale.

Read more at:

 2013 Big Bat Gran Cabernet – Mascota Vineyards – Mendoza

The Wine: Cherry and cassis aromas are dark and clean, with more than adequate ripeness. This Cab feels a bit edgy and abrasive, but not scratchy. Oaky, resiny flavors of berry fruits and plum finish spicy, with crisp acidity and tannins that poke and prod. Drink through 2021.

The Winery: The vineyards lie at the foot of the Andes Mountains, barely a thousand meters away from the Mendoza River. The vines receive fresh breezes descending from the mountains and blowing along the river, all of which contributes to the generation of wide temperature ranges. The soil is predominantly alluvial, with a clay-loam surface, and rock is found at a depth of 60 cm (23.4 in). And so it is that Finca La Mascota finds itself set in perfect surroundings, and one the most renowned and prestigious wine-growing regions in Mendoza.

The vineyards cover 100 hectares of land, 97 of which are planted with grapes. The main varieties produced are Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz among the reds; and Chardonnay among the whites. The oldest wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon lot which was planted 41 years ago. The average age of the vineyards is 30 years, ranging from the 5 year-old new blocks to the oldest ones planted in the 70’s.

Read more at: http://www.mascotavineyards.com/en/origins/

4.  CV Members Rating

Participants ranking, average scores and wine prices:

  1.  2013 Big Bat Gran Cabernet – Mascota Vineyards – Mendoza
    Members Score:  90   Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :    JS, 94 Pts.                                                                                                             $50
  2. 2014 Catena Alta – Chardonnay – Catena Zapata
     Members Score:  89 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :     JS, 94 Pts.                                                                                                           $33
  3. 2011 Felino Viña Cobos – Merlot – Mendoza
    Members Score: 89 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :    ST, 87 Pts.                                                                                                             $18
  4. 2014 Paisaje de Barrancas- Flichman-Syrah -Mendoza
    Members Score:  89 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :    NA                                                                                                                       $20

Best value for Money: 2011 Felino Viña Cobos – Merlot – Mendoza

See full evaluation here: ArgentinaWines5-22-17Summary

5. Technical Notes 

Jairo Sanchez compiled this note on the Argentine wines  Argentinian Wine

There is further reading specifically on the New Argentina wines here: http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/a-lesson-in-new-argentinean-wines



Posted in Meeting Abstract | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Tasting No 187. – April 24, 2017- Cabernet Sauvignon and its Blends


 Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Peter Lapera and Ricardo Zavaleta


MembersMario Aguilar, Marcello Averburg, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Peter Lapera, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Jairo Sanchez, Pedro Turina, Xavi Vila, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke.

Guests: Alberto Gómez, Ricardo Santiago

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. Tasting Overview :  

The  main objective of this tasting is to appreciate the differences between a varietal wine made of Cabernet Sauvignon and blends based on the same grape.  To minimize climate and terroir differences, the wines are of similar quality, from the same geographical region but from different wineries .  The participants would attempt to identify and differentiate the characteristics of each wine including a ranking of preference.  There is also a white wine blend for the participants to identify.

3. The Menu

  1. Cheeses plate
  2.  Risotto with clams
  3. Green salad
  4. Steak and fries
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from varios internet sources) .

2015 – Menage a Trois Chardonnay – Napa California Blend

The Wine: Winemaker’s Notes: Indulge in the extravagant pleasures of Ménage à Trois Gold—an opulent Chardonnay blend like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Every glass offers an abundance of riches, from the wine’s brilliant gold color and luscious aromas to its deep, layered flavors and full, round mouthfeel. An irresistible fragrance of crème brulée, honeyed pineapple, and exotic floral notes rises from the glass, hinting at delights to come. On the palate, a wealth of ripe tropical fruit flavors meld with luxurious French vanilla and hints of sweet spice before culminating in a smooth, buttery finish. Brimming with beautifully integrated flavors and a sumptuous, seamlessly creamy texture, Gold is decadent indeed. So go ahead spoil yourself—you’re worth it.

Blend of: Chardonnay, Viognier, and Verdelho

The Winery: Ménage à Trois is wholly owned and operated by Trinchero Family Estates, family-owned in Napa Valley since 1948. The portfolio includes more than 40 brands such as Sutter Home, Ménage à Trois, Trinchero Napa Valley, Napa Cellars, Folie à Deux, Terra d’Oro, SeaGlass, Montevina, Trinity Oaks, and the number one alcohol-removed wine, Fre. TFE markets and sells Joel Gott Wines, Taken Wine Company, Bandit, Newman’s Own, The Three Thieves, and The Show. TFE’s import portfolio also includes Angove Wines from Australia; Doña Paula Wines from Argentina; Carmen and the Wave Wines from Chile; Avissi Prosecco from Italy; Shatter Wines from France; Echo Bay from New Zealand; Sugar Island Caribbean Rum; and CRUZ and Tres Agaves Tequilas from Mexico.

2012- Owl Ridge -Tyto – Red Wine – Alexander Valley – California 

The Wine: Indicative blend: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.

The Winery:  Alexander Valley is one of the key winegrowing areas in California’s Sonoma County. It is one of the warmer parts of Sonoma, with vineyards stretching from the edges of the Russian river up into the foothills of the Mayacamas mountains that separate Sonoma from Napa. Alexander Valley’s key grape variety is Cabernet Sauvignon, making vibrant, fruit driven wines that are less earthy than their Napa counterparts. The AVA covers the land along a 20-mile (33-km) stretch of the Russian river between the Mendocino County border and the city of Healdsburg. South of Healdsburg, where the fog-influenced climate is much cooler, the Russian River Valley AVA takes over, while Dry Creek Valley lies across the hills to the west. The separate but overlapping Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak AVA lies at the northern end of Alexander Valley.

Read more at: http://www.wine-searcher.com/regions-alexander+valley

 2013 Beaucanon Estate – Longwood – Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley

The Wine: (Wine Enthusiast) While Cabernet Sauvignon is dominant, all five red Bordeaux varieties are represented here. Dark in color, a combination of black pepper and black-fruit syrup meets earthy and dry tannins. This structured wine needs time. Cellar through 2020.

The Winery: “Our organically farmed 94 acres Longwood ranch lies a stone’sthrow from the south eastern end of the Oak knoll American Viticultural Area (AVA) in Napa Valley. Our Vinyards are planted with the classic Bordeaux grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec along with Sauvignon Blanc and with a small amount of Chardonnay. Our Estate farms with sustainable and organic farming practices which include the use of cover crops and  bird habitat installations.”

The terroir consists of alluvium fan which exhibits heterogeneous material: Gravely deposit inter bedded or juxtaposed sandy silt clay deposit with low content of coarse fragment.

Read more at: http://www.beaucanonestate.com/estate.html

2013 Monticello Vineyards – Jefferson Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley

The Wine: The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Jefferson Cuvée is slightly austere and narrowly constructed, but has good dusty/loamy soil notes with red and blackcurrants. It’s medium-bodied, pleasant, but hardly inspiring. Drink it over the next decade.

The Winery: “We are a small winery producing approximately 15,000 cases of wine annually designated MONTICELLO VINEYARDS, CORLEY RESERVE and CORLEY. Our over-riding philosophy is that great wines are made in the vineyards. This is why we have made such a tremendous commitment to ownership of the most suitable land for our grapes. Already satisfied with the strength and quality of our Oak Knoll estates for our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir we set out in pursuit of Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards in the warmer districts of Napa Valley.

Today we farm five vineyards in the Napa Valley – our Home Ranch Vineyard and Knollwood Vineyard in the Oak Knoll District planted to Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah and our State Lane Vineyard in Yountville, Tietjen Vineyard on Niebaum Lane in Rutherford and Yewell Vineyard on Ehlers Lane in St. Helena each planted to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Read more at: http://www.corleyfamilynapavalley.com/ABOUT-US

 4.  CV Members Rating

  1. 2013 Beaucanon Estate – Longwood – Cabernet Sauvignon                                                Members Score: 91 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :    WE 90 Pts.                                                                                                            $28
  2. 2013 Monticello Vineyards – Jefferson Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon                                          Members Score:   90 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :     NA                                                                                                                      $42
  3. 2012 Owl Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon                                                                                           Members Score:  89 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :    WE 90 Pts.                                                                                                            $17
  4. 2015 Menage a Trois Chardonnay                                                                                                 Members Score:   89 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :  89 Pts.                                                                                                                     $10

Best value for Money: 2012 Owl Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon

See full evaluation here: CaliforniaWines4_24_17Summary

5. Technical Notes 



The Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most important and famous varieties in the production of wines in the world. Developed in Bordeaux, began to be called by its name between the 18th and 19th centuries, and is found in almost all wine regions in greater or lesser degree. It is cultivated in warmer regions due to its slow maturation that requires warm temperatures during the long maturation cycle. But this gives more concentration and not too much alcohol. The variety is not suitable for cold climates since if it does not mature well and acquires a herbaceous taste like Sauvignon Blanc (another relative) or Cabernet Franc. On the contrary overripening can produce wines lacking in acidity and too sweet.

The variety is a low yield one so it is only used in wines whose high quality is the main objective. The grains are small, have thick skin and exhibit very dark color from purple to almost black. They have a high ratio of dyes and tannins to juice. Musts are dark and astringent (only the Tanat grape surpasses it in tannin) which promotes its mixture with other varieties to soften its astringency, improve color and highlight the flavors. Most common mixtures are with his relative the Cabernet Franc (from faster maturation and great fragrance), the Petit Verdot and Merlot to soften the tannins giving rise to the mixes type Bordeaux. Many prefer these mixtures over the strictly varietal wines (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) which can be very austere or sober for some consumers. In Australia, they have developed excellent blends with Shiraz which is a more spicy variety.


Wines of this variety are a dark red to purple in color with deep violet tones when the wine is young that turn to a deep orange veneer or brick color as the wine ages. Its aromas when young are predominantly currants or blueberries (black berries) and when old are more like wood oak, coffee, vanilla and tobacco. The flavors of the young wines tend to be rough and tannic but they are softened by storage in new oak barrels reaching a delicate balance between fruit, tannin and acid with flavors of black fruit (plums and Cassis), oak, and vanilla. This balance is the characteristic of the great Cabernet Sauvignon. The best wines can age up to 15 or 20 years and improve in the process.


The Cabernet Sauvignon is the backbone of wines from the left bank of the River Gironde in Bordeaux blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Prtit Verdot, there are the DDOs of high reputation as Medoc and Pauillac, St. Julien, Margaux, Haut Médoc Graves. In Provence mixed with Sirah to produce wines that will age extremely well. In Italy the grape is used to produce the Super Tuscan (blended with Sangiovese) and in the Piedmont and Sicily with the native Nebiolo and Nero D’Abola. The Cabernet Sauvignon is very important in the wines of Eastern Europe (Moldova, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania). However, wines from these regions tend to be fruitier (more red than dark fruits) and less woodsy and less refined than the French. Spain is used to cut the Tempranillo (Rivera del Duero, Rioja and Navarra) and the Garnacha (Priorat and Penedes).

In the new world, the cabernets from Napa and Sonoma in California, in high demand, are fruitier than those of the old world and have an shorter aging potential.. In South America the Chilean Cabernets are famous (Concha y Toro is recognized as the largest owner of crop of Cabernet Sauvignon) fruity and less spicy than the rest of the new world still planted in their original stock not affected by the phyloxera. Mendoza in Argentina Cabernets also produces very high  quality Cabs. In Australia the region of Coonawarra in South and Hunter Valley produce excellent full bodied Cabernets often combined with Shiraz.

There are various other places to read more about Cabernet Sauvignon.  The presenters recommend these sites:




Posted in Meeting Abstract | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Tasting No. 186 – March 27, 2017 – New Wines from Portugal


 Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Mario Aguilar and Alfonso Sánchez


MembersMario Aguilar, Marcello Averburg, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez.

Guests: Alberto Gomez, John Johnson

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview

The  main objective of this tasting is to experience Portuguese wines that reflect emerging modern production techniques. The wines selected are produced in relatively new or modernized facilities that have a reputation for innovation and creativity.  They are representative of five different wine regions. The white wine selected is produced in the north where Vinho Verde is made but made with Alvarinho grape instead of the traditional Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura, Avesso, and Azal.  There is varietal red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon) that departs from the common Portuguese blends of Touriga nacional, Tinta Roriz and other varieties. The other two reds are traditional blends of Portuguese varieties but produced under up-to-date practices and installations and not in the old semi artisanal way common in many small wineries in Portugal. Finally, we could not miss a traditional port wine for dessert. The wines are:

  1. 2015 Alvarinho Soalheiro 
  2. 2010 Mondeco Red, Quinta Do Mondego
  3. 2012 Bacalhoa Cabernet Sauvignon
  4. 2011 Campolargo Rol de Coisas Antigas
  5. 2011 Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port

3. The Menu

  1. Mussels in white wine sauce
  2. Grilled cod with vegetables
  3. Lamb with rosemary potatoes
  4. Cheese plate
  5. Dessert/Coffe

4. Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from varios internet sources) .

2015 Alvarinho Soalheiro, Melgaço

alvarinho-soalheiroThe Wine:  K&L Notes: Delicious as usual, this mouthwatering Vinho Verde is 100% Alvarinho based. A combination of ripe golden stone fruits and fruit cocktail aromas lead to a rich, yellow and gold-fruited palate. Rich and with real flavor authority, the wine still shows loads of freshness and a nicely dry finish, perhaps a bit more so than the ebullient nose might suggest. The grapes are organically grown in the Vinho Verde sub-region of Melgaço and Monçao on granite soils. This expressive, more serious style of Vinho Verde is delicious as an aperitif or accompanied by your favorite grilled fishes and shellfish.

The Winery:  The Alvarinho grapes used in the Soalheiro came from several small vineyards planted in granite soil between 100 and 200 meters and located in a very particular microclimate. Melgaço region, the northern point of Portugal, is protected by a range of mountains that create the perfect conditions of rainfall, temperature and number of hours of sunshine needed to the better ripeness of the Alvarinho grapes. The brand name – Soalheiro – arises from the excellent sun exposure of the vineyards bearing the same name – a sunny place.

Read more about this wine and the winery at: http://www.soalheiro.com/en/vinhos/alvarinho-soalheiro-2015

 2010 Mondeco Red, Quinta Do Mondego, Dao Valley 

img_0886The Wine: Beautiful red ruby color. Very elegant aroma, attractive with fresh with mint and and fresh fruit – strawberries and raspberries. Good acidity, crispy, flavors of fresh fruit, mint and cigar. Fine quality tannins. Balanced and persistent.

Grape Varieties: 25% Touriga Nacional, 30% Tinta Roriz 20% Alfrocheiro, 15% Jaen 10% Baga.  Vinification:  Hand-picked grapes. Stalk removal and soft crushing Fermentation in small stainless still tanks for 8 days at 25ºC Aging 10% of the blend in French oak wood casks for 12 months. Light filtration before bottling.

The Winery: In 1994, Fontes da Cunha family buys 1,5 hectares of Quinta do Mondego with a very clear objective, a vacation home and end-of-week where the harvest was only seen as a time of fun between family and friends. With the first restructuring of vineyards in 1996, the scenario changes completely and, a year later, is planted the first vineyard.

In 2003, with the vineyard already organized and planted, the family meets and makes the first vintage of Touriga Nacional that gave rise to the first MUNDA Red. Thus was born the new Dão wine brand that, year after year, has conquered the world.

At this time, with a total of 70 hectares, Quinta do Mondego – located in Nelas – is a Family Owned Estate and one of the most important vineyards of this wine region of Portugal. The vineyards of Quinta do Mondego flourish in an idyllic setting on the banks of the river that names the estate – MONDEGO, which result in elegant and traditional wines that embrace the Terroir.

Read more at: http://www.quintadomondego.com/?lang=en

 2012 Bacalhoa Cabernet Sauvignon, Setúbal Peninsula


The Wine:  Tasting notes from the producer: Red fruit aromas combined with “nuances” of wood and spices; In the mouth, the sensations of red fruits are enhanced and combined with soft tannins well present; Has a fresh finish, something mineral, elegant and very complex.
It has a great potential for aging.

The vineyard planted in Quinta da Bacalhôa finds the ideal “terroir” for the production of excellent wines – red and well drained calcareous clay soils with mild climate due to the strong Atlantic influence. The grapes chosen in Quinta da Bacalhoa are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes that benefit from natural conditions for slow and balanced maturation. In 2013, both the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon presented to the vintage, very healthy grapes, very ripe, with round and present tannins.

The Winery:  Bacalhôa Vinhos de Portugal, SA, one of the largest and most innovative wine companies in Portugal, has developed over the years a wide range of wines that has earned it a solid reputation and the preference of national and international consumers. Present in 7 Portuguese winegrowing regions, with a total of 1200 ha of vineyards, 40 farms, 40 different vineyards and 4 vinous centers, the company is distinguished in the market by its size and autonomy by 70% in its own production. Each of the entities that constitute Bacalhôa Vinhos de Portugal, SA – Aliança Vinhos de Portugal, Quinta do Carmo and Quinta dos Loridos – corresponds to a production center with its own characteristics and a heritage with intrinsic cultural value. It is the dynamics generated by the crossing of these various identities.

In 1998, Comendador José Berardo became the main shareholder and continued the company’s mission, investing in planting new vineyards, modernizing wineries and acquiring new properties, and started a partnership with the Lafitte Rothschild Group in Quinta do Carmo.  In 2007 Bacalhôa became the largest shareholder in the Alliance, one of the most prestigious producers in the categories of high quality sparkling wines, spirits and table wines. The following year, the company bought Quinta do Carmo, thus increasing to 1200ha of vineyards its farm. Bacalhôa has wineries in the most important regions of Portugal: Alentejo, Península de Setúbal (Azeitão), Lisbon, Bairrada, Dão and Douro.

With a total capacity of 20 million liters, 15,000 oak barrels and an area of vines in production of around 1,200 hectares, Bacalhôa Vinhos de Portugal continues its commitment to innovation in the sector, with a view to the creation of wines that provide Unique and surprising experiences with high quality and consistency. Never forgetting the magnificent natural works. With a total capacity of 20 million liters, 15,000 oak barrels and an area of vines in production of about 1,200 hectares, Bacalhôa Vinhos de Portugal continues its commitment to innovation in the sector, with a view to the creation of wines that provide Unique and surprising experiences with high quality and consistency. Never forgetting the magnificent natural works. With a total capacity of 20 million liters, 15,000 oak barrels and an area of vines in production of about 1,200 hectares, Bacalhôa Vinhos de Portugal continues its commitment to innovation in the sector, with a view to the creation of wines that provide Unique and surprising experiences with high quality and consistency.

Read more at: http://www.bacalhoa.com/

 2011 Campolargo Rol de Coisas Antigas, Bairrada

The Wine: This wine is made of an undisclosed proportion blend of : Baga, Castelão Nacional, Trincadeira da Bairrada, Souzão, Bastardo, Alfrocheiro and Tinta Roriz

Winemaker’s Notes: Intense red color with some depth, very complex aroma, which suggested some of the notes are typical of the different varieties of grapes that make up this original lot. Full of vigour in the mouth, long finish.

Wine Enthusiast“This is a big, perfumed wine. It is still young, with new wood flavors, touches of eucalyptus and dense, dry tannins. To balance all this structure, the ripe and juicy berry flavors give the wine the richness it needs. Drink from 2017.”

Wine & Spirits“Campolargo, based in Anadia, farms two substantial vineyards with diverse soils that support a range of varieties, such as the baga, alfrocheiro, castelão nacional, trincadeira da Bairrada, souzão, bastardo and tinta roriz co-fermented in this wine. That diverse composition makes the wine a bit of a roller coaster, with a little flavor of every variety coming together in a pure note of red fruit. The juicy ripeness makes it intense and round, almost syrupy in texture if the tannins didn’t come up to give a grand impression of structure, setting it up for aging.”

The Winery: In mid 1990’s Campolargo started testing the varieties planted in that meantime (many of which first time attempts in this region). Decision was taken to resume market-oriented wine production and to raise a new cellar. The first Campolargo wines resulted from 2000 crop, although the new cellar was only built in 2004. Nowadays, the business lies in the hands of the third generation with Jorge Campolargo responsible for the vineyards and Carlos Campolargo heading the cellar and sales. Joana Campolargo impersonates the collaboration of the fourth generation ensuring administrative support and external relations.

The vineyards are located in two properties: 110 hectareas Quinta de S. Mateus in S. Lourenço do Bairro and 60 hectares, in Arcos, Quinta de Vale de Azar. In this last property, soils are mostly sandy-clay, with small calcareous areas. Sun exposure is mainly South and West. We have planted Baga, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Pinot Noir, Trincadeira da Bairrada (periquita) and Cabernet Sauvignon as red varieties. White varieties are Bical, Arinto, Cerceal and Verdelho.

Read more at: http://www.campolargovinhos.com/default.aspx

2011 Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage Port, Douro Valley

The Wine: Winemaker’s Notes: Offers powerful dark cherry, black fruit and herbal aromas and flavors of depth and complexity. Overall, the wine has a harmonious, authoritative character.

The Wine Advocate“The 2011 Late Bottled Vintage Port (bottled in October 2015) is a field blend aged for 58 months. It comes with a bar top cork and 106 grams per liter of residual sugar. Inky black, this highly extracted Port has sensual texture and an unctuous finish laced with delicious, primary fruit flavor. It’s a rather sexy LBV this year, big, dense and mouth-coating. It has a fair bit of power, too. For an LBV to drink now, this is simply beautiful. It is not necessarily expected to go anywhere–it’s made for drinking now–but it can certainly hold if you choose to do so, barring cork failures.”

Pairs well with robust soft and hard cheeses, desserts made with chocolate, or fresh berries.

The Winery: Taylor’s is now into its fourth century: one of the very oldest of the Port companies. It is the last totally independent company of the original British Port houses-and is still family owned and managed. It is run today from Oporto by descendants of the Yeatman and Fladgate families, both of which have been partners in the firm since the 1830s. For more than 300 years Taylor’s name has been synonymous with consistent excellence in Port.

Read more about the winery and how port is made at: http://www.taylor.pt/en/

4.  CV Members Rating

Rating Scale:

      • 96-100 Pts. – Exceptional
      • 90-95 Pts.  –  Outstanding
      • 86-89 Pts.  –  Very good
      • 81-85 Pts.  –  Good
      • 76-80 Pts.  –  Acceptable
      • 75 or fewer – Mediocre

Participants ranking, average scores and wine prices:

  1. 2011 Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage. Porto DOC                                                             Members Score:  91  Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :    91 Pts.                                                                                                                      $22
  2. 2012 Bacalhoa Cabernet Sauvignon. Setúbal DOC                                                                    Members Score:   90 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :  91   Pts.                                                                                                                      $36
  3.  2015 Alvarinho Soalheiro.  Vinho Verde DOC, Minho                                                               Members Score:  90 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score : 94    Pts.                                                                                                                   $30
  4.    2010 Mondeco Red, Quinta Do Mondego.   Dão DOC                                                               Members Score:  89 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score : 91   Pts.                                                                                                                       $20
  5. 2011 Campolargo Rol de Coisas Antigas. Bairrada DOC                                                       Members Score: 89   Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score : 93   Pts.                                                                                                                       $29

Best value for Money: 2010 Mondeco Red, Quinta Do Mondego.

See full evaluation here: 186 PortugalWinesTastingSummary

5. Technical Notes 

Jairo Sanchez compiled the following brief note on Portuguese wines (includes the map of Portugal wine regions): Portugal Modern Wines

There is additional information on the wines of Portugal here:  http://www.winesofportugal.info/




Posted in Meeting Abstract | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment