Tasting No. 180 – August 29, 2016 – Wines from Spain


 Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Paisaje Riojano

Paisaje Rioja Landscape

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Ruth Connolly and Ginger Smart


Members: Marcello Averburg, Emilio Bernal-Labrada, Jorge Claro, Clarita Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Peter Lapera, Italo Mirkow, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Raul Sanguinetti, Ginger Smart, Pedro Turina, Ricardo Zavaleta, Germán Zinke

Guests: Atilio Nieto, Xavi Vila, Montse Montamart, Ramón García

Type of Tasting: Open

2. The Wines  

The  main objective of this tasting is to establish the differentiating features of three Rioja wines, one is a “Crianza”, another is a “Reserva” and the latter is a “Special Edition” similar to a “Gran Reserva”.

  1. 2015 –  Ameztoi  Getariako Txakolina Rosé
  2. 2007 – Rioja – R. Lopez Heredia Crianza – Viña Cubillo
  3. 2008 – Rioja – Vivanco Reserva
  4. 2011 – Rioja – LAN – Limited Edition

3. The Menu:

  1. Ensalata Di Caprese
  2. Fettucini with mushrooms, cherry tomato and white wine sauce
  3. Hot Italian Sausage Stuffing in a Red Bell Pepper
  4. Grilled Lamb with Sauteed  Potatoes and Spinach
  5. Dessert and/or coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2015 –  Ameztoi  Getariako Txakolina Rubentis -Rosé  

ameztoiThe Wine: Winemaker’s Notes: Candied red fruits combine with a lime infused edge makes this a wildly intriguing rosé.

Red currant, rhubarb, lime zest, and strawberry fruit are heightened by abundant minerality, a touch of spritz, and that transportative salty streak

The Winery: Ameztoi Txakolina is one of the top producers of Getariako Txakolina. The winery owns 20 hectares of vines in the best location. From the vineyards one can see the town of San Sebastian and understand the influence of the Atlantic Ocean on this vineyard site.

Ignacio Ameztoi is the seventh generation to carry on the tradition of making Txakolina in the province of Getaria. Made from the indigenous grape variety of Hondarribi Zurri and its red companion Hondarribi Beltza, the wine is fermented in stainless steel and bottled with residual carbonic that gives the wine its natural spritz.

Read more about Ameztoi Winery here: http://www.txakoliameztoi.com/en

  • Experts Rating:  Pts.
  • CV Members Rating: 
  • Price: $

2007 – Rioja – R. Lopez Heredia Crianza Viña Cubillo

r-lopez-de-heredia-vina-cubillo-crianza-rioja-doca-spain-10219180The Wine. Winemaker’s Notes: Clear, bright ruby color. Fresh with a slight aroma of licorice with consistent texture and persistent aroma, comparable to any Rioja Gran Reserva! This Crianza has all the seriousness of an older Reserva.

The Winery. Don Rafael López de Heredia y Landeta founded Viña Tondonia in the years 1913-14.  Tondonia was to become the bodega´s most famous vineyard and product.  Viña Tondonia is a beautiful vineyard of over 100 hectares, situated on the right bank of the river Ebro, where the most typical Rioja wines are grown. Apart from Tondonia, López de Heredia owns three more vineyards also set in the Rioja Alta region. These are the “Viña Cubillo”, “Viña Bosconia” and “Viña Zaconia”. These vineyards are planted to ensure that maximum quality starts in the vines themselves, forming the basis of the reputation of our wines.

Read more about R. Lopes de Heredia vineyards and winery here: http://www.lopezdeheredia.com/indexgb.html

  • Experts Rating:  pts
  • CV Members Rating:  .
  • Price: $

2008 – Rioja – Vivanco Reserva   

vivanco_rioja_reserva_lblThe Wine:  Aromas of mature black and red fruit fill the nose, with hints of cinnamon and sage lending a pleasant spiciness and herbaceous quality to the bouquet. This is a complex wine with lush, velvety tannins and create a long finish. This age-worthy Reserva is vinified in large French oak vats, then aged in new and second-use French and American oak barrels for 24 months, plus an additional 24 months in bottle. Approachable now, yet will continue to develop for years to come. Decant before serving. Vivanco Reserva’s intensity is a great match for hearty stews, roasted red meats, or even, dark chocolate. This wine is 90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano.

The Winery: Vivanco Winery is located in Briones, a privileged enclave in La Rioja Alta, on the foothills of the Sierra de Cantabria and on the banks of the River Ebro. It is an area with a mild microclimate and extraordinary chalky-clay soils.

Around the winery we find the Finca El Cantillo, whose name comes from the large number of boulders found on the ground. Tempranillo is the fundamental variety, but not the only one. In this vineyard we can also find other grape varieties that we use in our wines: Graciano, Garnacha, Mazuelo, Viura, Malvasía, etc.

The underground winery is functional and aesthetically pleasing. It was built underground in order to remove as little as possible of the vineyard surface area and to minimize the environmental impact in favour of preserving the landscape. By building the winery underground, was also achieved the right temperature and moisture —naturally balanced throughout the year— essential for properly preserving and ageing wine in oak barrels or vats.

See more about Vivanco winery here: http://vivancoculturadevino.es/en/winery/the-winery/

  • Experts Rating:Pts.
  • CV Members Rating:
  • Price: $

2011 – Rioja – LAN – Limited Edition  

Lan 2011The Wine: Indicative blend: 85% Tempranillo,10% Mazuelo, 5% Graciano.

“This rich red delivers ripe, racy flavors of blackberry, kirsch, toast, spice and mineral. Plush but dense, with subtle yet powerful tannins and tangy acidity. A big wine, showing energy and style. Drink now through 2031. 6,250 cases made.” –TM

“As a producer, it’s an honor for Bodegas LAN to be included among the 25 best wines in the world, especially when the price-quality ratio is one of the elements used by Wine Spectator in the wines’ assessment scale. This accolade is a recognition of the quality of one of our bodega’s iconic wines, made from a selection of grapes grown in a privileged plot in our unique Viña Lanciano vineyard. This vineyard is the origin of our best wines: Viña Lanciano, LAN Limited Edition / LAN A MANO  and CULMEN.”

The Winery: Bodegas Lan was established in the early1970s. The name Lan comes from the first three provinces that produce Rioja wine: Logroño, Alava, and Navarra. It has a large modern winery and 72 ha of vineyards which it uses for its best cuvées. It also sources grapes from neighboring growers. Lan has been introducing improvements in vineyard management and winemaking over the past 10 years which have contributed to the high quality of its wines. (International Wine Review)

  • Experts Rating:  Pts.
  • CV Members Rating: 
  • Price: $

 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. Pts. – $
  2. Pts. – $
  3. Pts. – $
  4. Pts. – $

The participants preference (by show of hands) was

Best value for Money:

5. Technical Notes

Wines from Spain

(Compiled by the Jairo Sanchez and the Presenters)

Overview.  Spain is the most widely planted wine producing nation (1.17 million hectares) and the third largest producer of wine in the world, the largest being France followed by Italy. The country has over 400 varieties planted but 80 percent of the country’s wine production is from only 20 grapes—including the reds Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Monastrell; the whites Albariño from Galicia, Palomino, Airen, and Macabeo; and the three cava grapes Parellada, Xarel·lo, and Macabeo.  As the Spanish wine industry becomes more modern, there has been a larger presence of international grape varieties appearing in both blends and varietal forms-most notably Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot and Sauvignon blanc. Other Spanish grape varieties that have significant plantings include Cariñena, Godello, Graciano, Mencia, Loureira, and Treixadura.

Major Spanish wine regions include the Rioja and Ribera del Duero, which are known for their Tempranillo production; Valdepeñas, known for high quality tempranillo at low prices; Jerez, the home of the fortified wine Sherry; Rías Baixas in the northwest region of Galicia that is known for its white wines made from Albariño and Catalonia which includes the Cava and still wine producing regions of the Penedès as well the Priorat region. Other regions include Navarra where top Spain’s roses are made, Toro producing denser, darker reds while Rueda makes snappy verdejo and, Castilla-La Mancha, south of Madrid makes most of Spain value wines.

Classification:  Since Spain’s entrance into the European Union, Spanish wine laws were brought in line to be more consistent with other European systems and include the five-tier classifications, which follows, starting from the bottom:  Vino de Mesa (VdM)-. Vinos de la Tierra (VdlT) -.Vinos de Calidad con Indicación Geográfica (VCIG)-.Denominación de Origen– (DO)-.Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa) which is similar to Italy DOCG-. Additionally, there is the Denominación de Pago (DO de Pago) designation for individual single-estates with an international reputation. As of 2013, there were 15 estates with this status. 

Labeling laws. Spanish wines are often labeled according to the amount of aging the wine has received. When the label says vino joven  or sin crianza, the wines will have undergone very little, if any, wood aging.  For the vintage year (vendimia or cosecha) to appear on the label, a minimum of 85% of the grapes must be from that year’s harvest. The three most common aging designations on Spanish wine labels are Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.

  • Crianza red wines are aged for 2 years with at least 6 months in oak. Crianza whites and rosés must be aged for at least 1 year with at least 6 months in oak.
  • Reserva red wines are aged for at least 3 years with at least 1 year in oak. Reserva whites and rosés must be aged for at least 2 years with at least 6 months in oak.
  • Gran Reserva  red wines typically appear in above average vintages with the red wines requiring at least 5 years aging, 18 months of which in oak and a minimum of 36 months in the bottle.

 Spain has a relatively large number of distinct wine-producing regions, more than half having the classification Denominación de Origen (DO) with the majority of the remainder classified as Vinos de la Tierra (VdlT). There are two regions nominated as Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa) – Rioja and Priorat – the flagship regions of Spanish winemaking.   

Escudo_de_la_Comunidad_Autonoma_de_La_Rioja.svgRioja Wines.  Rioja consists of three distinct wine districts:  Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja.  The first two are inherently superior.  Navarra, which overlaps part of Rioja Baja, has a smaller area of vineyards, which are divided into five districts.  A small part of the Cava producing area, Most of which is in Catalonia, extends into Rioja and Navarra. Only  a short drive from the suburbs of the commercial city of Bilbao and the dramatic beauty of an upland valley becomes apparent, rich with architectural treasures of the 12th century, isolated hilltop pueblos, a generous tradition, philanthropic people and a hearty cuisine.  Few great wine regions span so many difficult terrains and unite them with such recognizable character.

Rioja is the first wine to receive DOCa status, Spain’s highest classification.  Rioja is without a doubt Spain’s greatest fine wine region.  Rioja is oaky, and all attempts to rid the wine of oak are doomed to failure.  Oak is the basis of it’s fame and the reason it became Spain’s first and greatest red wine success.  Critics who suggest that these wines are too oaky for today’s more sophisticated  consumers may have a point.  There is precious little left in most Rioja once you take away the oak.  It was the French who originally blessed the wines of this region with their unmistakable sweet vanilla identity.

As early as the 18th century, a few enlightened Riojanos looked to France (Bordeaux particularly) to improve their wine making skills.  The changes that took place were subtle that took place in the 1840s and the 1860s.  After phylloxera, a louse that attacked vine roots ruined many French vineyards (mostly Bordeaux and Burgundy), a number of those vineyard owners gave up hope of reviving their own vineyards.  They then moved to Rioja  to set up new wineries.  Their methods dramatically improved the quality and style of Rioja.  In addition to this other Frenchmen who were wine merchants  from Bordeaux immediately opened up a lucrative trade for the wine as a result of the total lack of wine from their devastated vineyards.

Wine has been made in Rioja since at least the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered the area. The wine was well respected  into the 14th century as producers would not allow grapes from outside the region.  Wine was transported in goat skins back then.  In the 18th century wooden barrels came into use.  They were five times the size of casks today.

Tempranillo is by far the most important grape of Rioja.  It blends well with the rounder, plumper tasting Garnacha (Grenache).  Also blended in with varying degrees are the Graciano ( known as the Morrastel in the Languedoc and the Tinta Miuda in Portugal).  Mazuelo (Carignan) is also allowed and there is experimentation with Cabernet Sauvignon being blended in as well.

Until the 1970s most Rioja was juicy stuff made by small scale farmers fermented fast and then aged for many years in old American oak.  The result was pale wines, sweet with vanilla, that could be beguiling provided the grapes were of impeccable quality.

With the bottlers’ control on growers so dangerously loose, the temptation to cut corners and increase yields has at times been overpowering.  Recently this has led to a revision in winemaking techniques in many bodegas/wineries (most of which now make their own wine, if not grow their own grapes).  The thin skinned, gentle Tempranillo is macerated much longer and bottled much earlier after aging in oak that is now often French rather than American.  The result is wine that is deeper and fruitier and in short, more modern (but less like traditional Rioja).  Another less controversial development in Rioja wines is the rise of single estate wines.

About a seventh of all the vines grown in Rioja produce white grapes.  Usually it is the tart Viura (Macabeo) supplemented by very limited amounts of traditional Malvasia Riojana and Granacha Blanca.

Rioja wines are classified according to quality of the grapes used and how long the wines are aged.  The hierarchy includes crianza (the youngest), reserve and grand reserve.  Red crianzas have the most vibrant flavors.  They are easy drinking wines full of earth, spice, cherry, and vanilla.  Crianzas are the bread and butter of every winery made from good but not exceptional vineyards.  Made from superior grapes from prime sites, reservas are more lush and concentrated than crianzas  They are not necessarily powerhouses.  They can be subtle.  Reservas are only made in exceptional years.  Gran reservas, are made only in exceptional years.  They come from the best vineyards and all are extremely rare.  In most years gran reservas represent just 1 to 10 percent of the wines produced.

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Club del Vino: Photos of the Wine Tasting of July 26, 2016

This gallery contains 11 photos.

Club del Vino: Photos of the Wine Tasting of July 26, 2016 Click any pictures to start the slides show!  

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Tasting No. 179 – July 25, 2016 – Wines from New Zealand

 Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

New Zealand wine trail marker

New Zealand wine trail marker

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Mario Aguilar and Raul Sanguinetti


Members: Mario Aguilar, Emilio Bernal-Labrada, Cecilio Berndsen, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Peter Lapera, Alvaro López, Orlando Mason, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Raul Sanguinetti, Ginger Smart, German Zincke

Type of Tasting: Open

2. The Wines  

The  main objective of this tasting is to evaluate two white and two red wines from New Zealand.  The presenters have selected a Sauvignon Blank and a Pinot Noir that are the emblematic varietal wines on NZ.  However, we will also experience an oak-aged Chardonnay  and a  Syrah as examples of other varies extensively planted there.  Experts say that the NZ wines combine the crispiness of the old world wines with the fruitiness of the new world ones. This is what we should expect.

  1. 2015 Marlborough – Cloudy Bay – Sauvignon Blanc   
  2. 2012 Marlborough – Dog Point – Chardonnay  
  3. 2012 Central Otago – Felton Road – Pinot Noir 
  4. 2009 Waiheke Island – Man O’War – Dreadnaught Syrah

3. The Menu:

  1. Fried Calamari, olive oil and herbs
  2. Steamed Mussels in white butter sauce
  3. Grilled Octopus simmered in heavy red wine    sauce with penne in olive oil and herbs
  4. Grilled Salmon with asparagus and veggies
  5. Dessert and/or coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2015 Marlborough – Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc   

cloudy-bay-sauvignon-blanc-marlborough-new-zealand-10023968The Wine: Winemaker’s Notes  Bright, focuses citrus aromatics of grapefruit and kaffir lime abound, supported by subtle tropical notes. A silky, concentrated palate reveals ripe, juicy stone fruit and lemongrass, supported by a subtle minerality. Its racy acidity leads towards mouthwatering, persistent finish, suggesting a Sauvignon Blanc with ageability.

Following harvest, the free-run juice was cold settled for 48-96 hours before raking. Fermentation was primarily carried out in stanless steel with a mixture of cultured and wild yeasts. Approximately 10% of the juice was fermented at warmer temperature in old French oak barriques and large format oak vats. This  Sauvignon Blanc was stringently blended, including only the strongest batches. Maturation takes place in French oak barrels for 18 months.

The Winery: Established in 1985, Cloudy Bay was one of the first five winemakers to venture into Marlborough. At the time, it was almost an unimaginable place to set-up a vineyard. But Cloudy Bay’s founder – David Hohnen – was convinced of its potential to produce great wine and invested in the best land of the region. Since then, Marlborough has risen to become New Zealand’s leading wine region, as well as one of the finest winemaking locations in the world.

The winery was named after Cloudy Bay, a body of water explorer Captain James Cook came across during his voyage to New Zealand in 1770. His discovery coincided with flooding in the region, which washed large amounts of sediment into the sea. Noticing the water’s opaque appearance, Cook cleverly christened the area Cloudy Bay.

Read more about Clody Bay Winery and vineyards here: https://www.cloudybay.co.nz/our-lifestyle/news/te-wahi-edge-world

  • Experts Rating: 91 Pts.
  • CV Members Rating:  90 Pts.
  • Price: $25

 2012 Marlborough – Dog Point – Chardonnay

dog-point-chardonnay-marlborough-new-zealand-10575948The Wine. Rich, full-bodied wine displaying ripe citrus with chalky textural yeast complexity enhanced by flavors of roasted nuts.  Exhibits ripe citrus, minerality and toasty aromas together with savory overtones derived from extended contact with yeast lees. Eighteen months in French Oak barrels, a small portion of which is new.

The Winery. The name Dog Point dates from the earliest European settlement of Marlborough and the introduction of sheep to the district. “These were days of few fences, of boundary riders and boundary keeping dogs”. Shepherds’ dogs sometimes became lost or wandered off and eventually bred into a marauding pack which attacked local flocks. Their home was a tussock and scrub covered hill, overlooking the Wairau Plains, designated by the early settlers as Dog Point.

Marlborough’s Wairau Valley is the major grape growing region of New Zealand, a confined geographical area at the northern tip of the South Island. Abundant sunshine, low rainfall and cool autumn nights characterize our long growing season, enabling the slow evolution of a rich array of vibrant fruit flavor.

 The vineyard is centrally located at the confluence of the smaller Brancott and Omaka Valleys and is neighbour to the first commercially planted vineyard in Marlborough; planted by Montana in 1973.  This location is widely considered to be a very desirable area for grape growing in Marlborough.

Fruit for this wine is sourced from selected vineyard plantings dating back to the late 1970’s. These older well-established vines situated on free draining silty clay loams are supplemented with fruit from closely planted hillside vines on soils with a clay loam influence. Dog Point’s white wines are mostly planted on free draining silty clay loams on the flats, soils that predominantly express citrus and grapefruit flavors. Fruit from the hillside blocks add to the interest of the Chardonnay blend.

Read more about Dog Pont Vineyards and winery here: http://www.dogpoint.co.nz/

  • Experts Rating:  91 pts
  • CV Members Rating:  89 Pts.
  • Price: $35

2012 Central Otago – Felton Road – Pinot Noir   

Fenton RdThe Wine:  This shows a wealth of boysenberry and cherry fruit, with some almost smoky, tobacco character and plenty of sappy aromas, too. Quite tarry and really upbeat. The palate is smoothly honed, elegant and even. It delivers a wealth of fleshy fruit presence, sweet, dark, roasted spices and a bold surge of boisterous tannins that launch ripe-cherry flavor long into the finish. Drink now. (06-Oct-2014) James Suckling

“Sourced from our steepest hillside vineyards, the Syrah for the Dreadnought was hand harvested, de-stemmed without crushing and fermented in small open top fermenters, plunged twice per day. Following an average of 3 weeks on skins the wines were gently pressed to oak barrels for Malolactic fermentation. Each parcel of fruit was kept separate in the winery until the final blending sessions after 15 months in oak. Aged in 15% new French, 5% new American and 80% old oak. 14% alc.

The Winery: Considerable research by Stuart Elms (hence the Elm tree logo) in 1991 identified the north facing slopes at the end of Felton Road, Bannockburn as being one of the warmest and most ideal sites in Central Otago for the growing and production of premium wine. Heat summation data and soil maps of the area, developed as a result of the construction of the Clyde Dam, were helpful in this decision. The three different soils identified are free draining with low fertility characteristics, and combined with the unique climate, are ideal for the production of premium quality Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling.

Since 2002 the vineyards have been managed organically and biodynamically. Pruning is carried out to leave desired bud numbers thus ensuring moderate controllable yields and to create an even, light penetrable canopy. Irrigation is usually necessary during the later dry summer months. Soil moisture levels are carefully monitored and water is applied only when necessary to maintain appropriate soil moisture levels. All grapes are carefully hand picked, keeping separate any quality differences within blocks due to clones, rootstocks and viticultural trials.

See more about Felton Road winery here: https://www.feltonroad.com/

  • Experts Rating:92 Pts.
  • CV Members Rating: 91 Pts.
  • Price: $45

2009 Waiheke Island – Man O’War – Dreadnaught Syrah  

man-o-war-dreadnought-syrah-waiheke-island-new-zealand-10629333tThe Wine: Deep garnet. Unusual aroma – sweet fruit but very peppery too and a slight baked-fruit note as if there had been a lot of sun. Plenty of oak in evidence on the palate, over the rich fruit. A powerhouse of flavor, becoming more savory on the finish.  Great power and length.

The Winery: Established in the early 1980s, the Man O’War estate consists of 4500 acres of steep hillsides and rugged cliffs on Waiheke Island’s eastern coast. The name Man O’War comes from this region’s legacy as the site where Captain Cook first anchored in New Zealand in 1769 and observed that the tall trees growing there would make superb masts for the English Royal Navy. In keeping with the spirit of war and legacy, Man O’ War’s vineyards and wines are also named after significant battle figures or legends.

Man O’War isn’t just a vineyard. It’s a series of 90 different pockets of vineyard, with these plots spread across the eastern end of the island. It’s owned by the Spencer family – one of New Zealand’s wealthiest – who own the entire eastern third of the island. That’s around 4500 acres (1821 hectares), of which 150 acres (60 ha) are planted with vines.   The Spencer family have owned this chunk of the island for 30 years, and have been good stewards, returning a significant portion of it to native bush, and planting lots of native trees. The first vines were planted on the property in 1993, but the bulk of the vines went into the ground 2002–2006. 

As well as Waiheke Island, Man O’War also takes a few grapes from neighbouring (and much smaller, at 1500 acres) Ponui Island. 14 acres (4 vineyards) here are planted with vines, yielding 30 tons of Pinot Gris which are taken to the winery in Waiheke by barge.  
Read more: about Man O’War winery and vineyards here: http://www.manowarvineyards.co.nz/

  • Experts Rating:  92 Pts.
  • CV Members Rating: 90 Pts.
  • Price: $33 

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. Pinot Noir, Felton Road. Central Otago, 2012  – 91Pts. – $45
  2. Sauvignon Blanc , Cloudy Bay .Marlborough 2015 – 90Pts. – $25
  3. Syrah, Man O’War. Waiheke  Island 2009- 90Pts. – $33
  4. Chardonnay, Dog Point. Marlborough 2012 -89Pts. – $35

The participants preference (by show of hands) was Sauvignon Blanc , Cloudy Bay .Marlborough 2015

Best value for Money: Sauvignon Blanc , Cloudy Bay .Marlborough 2015

5. Technical Notes

 Overview of New Zealand Wines

WINE REGIONS OF NZThe Rev. Samuel Madsen, a missionary, was the first or one of the first that began to plant vines in the North Island of NZ in 1819.  NZ has been eminently a beer country, wines were mostly imported from Australia and the few existing vineyards at the end of the 19th century and early 20th were severely affected by Phylloxera and Powdery Mildew.  Isolation and distance from the foreign wine markets and low internal consumption were not conducive to the growth of the industry.  During the second war there was an increase in demand for wine by American troops but the post-war depression and prohibition of alcohol laws again affected much the development of the wine business.  For example, the sale of wine in supermarkets was allowed as late as in 1999.

The result of all these ups and downs it is a young industry that struggled to establish itself as a serious actor until very recently. In 1958 the government decided to promote wine production and heavily taxed beer, banned the import of wine and began planting European varieties which resulted in a ruinous surplus production in the mid-80s and led many vineyard owners to start uprooting their vines. Subsequently, the lower production levels and the opening of tax free wines from Australia under commercial agreements force winemakers to start focusing on quality to remain competitive.

Climate is cold. Averages of 10 C during the development of the grape except in the North Island  with a more Bordeaux-like influence of maritime climate. There is where the the Cabernet Sauvignon of NZ is produced

NZ is rainy and has clayey soils (poor drainage) which give white wines minerality but also produce copious foliage and susceptibility to the fungus. NZ is the most advanced in management of foliage to promote optimal grape ripening. Phylloxera is still a problem and therefore resistant varieties in grafts of American grapes have been planted. The harvest is in February and March but it can be extended until June.  Many Oenologists work half a year in NZ and the other in Europe harvest what has given them much knowledge of the old world wine techniques. Equally young French enologists travel to NZ when it is low season in France. As there is no much regulation on the development of wine winemaker has more influence than the “terroir”. NZ has adopted almost universally screw caps instead of cork with great success.   The main regions are:

Marlborough : The largest region in the Northwest corner of the South Island of NZ and where the first commercial vineyard (Montana Industries) was established in 1973. The soils are stony and well drained with mixtures of sand, clays and silts that give minerality to the wines. The predominant varieties are Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. The first was the one that gave NZ international reputation. There is a tradition of buy grape form the vineyards by weight which leads to much irrigation by the vineyard owners that dilutes concentration. Therefore, the best wines are those grown and produced in the same vineyard as the owner favors quality over quantity.

Hawkes Bay : Is an area with many microclimates that favors the growing of the traditional varieties. Located in the North Island about 320 km north of Wellington. A warmer climate than the rest of the regions, favor the planting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Zinfandel (surprise!) and the wines are generally Bordeaux type blends of these varieties. This differs from other regions dominated by Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. It also produces these varieties and Chardonnay but white wines are not the best.  According to the Wine Spectator the best Cabs and Bordeaux-style blends from NZ are from this region.

Central Otago : This is the world’s most southern of the world (parallel 45 South of the South Island) and the only one in NZ with a continental climate that provides strong variations in temperature between day and night. Unlike other regions wines are planted on slopes to improve sun exposure and reduce the risk of frost. It is almost entirely devoted to Pinot Noir and was this region which placed NZ at the international level of these quality wines with great tasting, fruit and aromas. Produces the best Pinot Noir of NZ according to the Wine Spectator.

 Read a more detailed note on New Zealand wines compiled by Jairo Sanchez here:

New Zealand Wine Regions -meeting 179


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Tasting No. 178 – June 27, 2016 – Wines from Australia

 Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Shiraz Grapes - Hunter Valley

Shiraz Grapes – Hunter Valley

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Carita Estrada and Jorge Gracia-Garcia


Members: Mario Aguilar, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Alvaro López, Orlando Mason, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Raul Sanguinetti, Ginger Smart, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke

Guests: Carolina Herrera, Martha Kipnis, Patricia Uribe

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. The Wines  

The  main objective the of this blind tasting would be to appreciate the differences and rank three red wines in order of preference and value for money. One of the wines is a similar to Rhone blends based on shiraz, another one is 100% shiraz and finally there is a a Zinfandel.  All the wines come from the South Region and specifically from Barossa and McLaren.  The with wine is from the same region and the objective would be to rate it by itself in terms of quality and value for money.

  1. Thorn-Clarke Mount Crawford Chardonnay, Eden Valley, 2013
  2. Molly Dooker Two Left Feet, Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot, McLaren Vale, 2014
  3. D’Arenberg Shiraz Dead Arm, McLaren Vale, 2011
  4. Glaymond Wines, Zinfandel, Barossa Valley, 2003

3. The Menu:

    1. Mussel’s in white wine sauce
    2. Pork Sausages with Lentils
    3. Caprese Salad
    4. Beef Medallions
    5. Dessert and Coffee (or expresso instead od dessert)

4. Information on the Wines

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

Thorn-Clarke Mount Crawford Chardonnay, Eden Valley, 2013

thorn-clarke-mount-crawford-single-vineyard-chardonnay-eden-valley-australia-10471045The Wine. The wine is a light straw colour. The nose displays some complexity with citrus and stone fruits complimented by nutty barrel characters. This is a medium weight wine with peach and citrus characters balanced nicely with good acidity. The wine finishes with clean lemon like acidity.

Crushed, de-stemmed and then pressed using a membrane press. A parcel of the juice was filled to French oak barrels for fermentation, the balance was fermented in stain-less steel. The tank fermentation was slow and cool to retain all the natural flavours of the grape. The wine in tank had several weeks of lees contact post fermentation. The wine was the blended, minimally fined and then filtered

The Winery: Late ripening, high rainfall and with elevations as high as 475 metres above sea level, this 37 ha Eden Valley can easily be confused with the Adelaide Hills – which is after all just across the range. Its north facing aspect provides much needed warmth in spring and autumn and the tough mountain soil makes the vines work hard to achieve excellent flavor and acid levels.

This site was specially selected as it was considered ideal to grow grape varieties which respond to cold climate. These include Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, whilst Merlot also grows well in these conditions. The result of this careful site selection is wines which display outstanding varietal charact

Read more about Thorn-Clarke Winery and vineyards here: http://www.thornclarkewines.com.au/

  • Experts Rating: 89 Pts Intl. Wine Cellar
  • CV Members Rating:  88 Pts.
  • Price: $15

 Molly Dooker Two Left Feet, Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot, McLaren Vale, 2014

Mollydooker_Two_Left_Feet_Shiraz_Cabernet_Merlot-20150706115043The Wine. Winemaker Note: A generous array of bright fruit flavor with outstanding depth, gives this wine the approachable and engaging qualities it’s become adored for. Showcasing every character in our flavor spectrum, including raspberry, plum, deep mocha and licorice. All the elements interweave themselves harmoniously throughout each sip and work together in a way that achieves the subtle mouth feel of a truly delightful wine.

This wine is 72% Shiraz, 14% Melrlot and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon

The Winery. Mollydooker (Aussie for left-hander) Wines was established in 2005 by Sarah and Sparky Marquis. Five of their wines have been chosen in the Wine Spectator’s “Top 100,” and their Carnival of Love Shiraz has made the “Top 100” twice. The winery is on the prime Seaview Ridge in McLaren Vale, South Australia, and the vines are grown according to the Marquis Vineyard Watering Programme to give the grapes the rich flavors that distinguish Mollydooker’s wines. Mollydooker makes Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot and Verdelho. The Velvet Glove Shiraz, with 95%+ Marquis Fruit Weight is superbly complete and complex, with stunny beauty and power.

Mollydooker has an established reputation for producing world-class wines. For instance, the 2006 Velvet Glove Shiraz was awarded 99 points by Robert Parker. Additionally, the winery’s Carnival of Love Shiraz placed among the top ten wines by Wine Spectator for both the 2006 and 2007 vintages. In 2014, Wine Spectator awarded the 2012 vintage of Carnival of Love Shiraz the number two wine in the world.

  • Experts Rating:  WS 91 Pts.
  • CV Members Rating:  91 Pts.
  • Price: $25

 D’Arenberg Shiraz Dead Arm, McLaren Vale, 2011  

Damberg_3949918_fullThe Wine:  Wine maker Note –The Story Behind The Name Dead Arm is a vine disease caused by the fungus Eutypa Lata that randomly affects vineyards all over the world. Often vines affected are severely pruned or replanted. One half, or an ‘arm’ of the vine slowly becomes reduced to dead wood. That side may be lifeless and brittle, but the grapes on the other side, while low The Characteristics A classic Dead Arm in every sense of the word. The nose is brooding and alluring, earthy notes combined with dark fruits, fennel and baking spice. The longer this wine sits in the glass, the further it unfurls opening into notes of sweeter berry fruit laced with more of those soily, forest floor notes. The palate is dense and concentrated with a plethora of fruit characters, plum, blackberry, mulberry, earth, iodine and black olive. Despite the richness and intensity of the attack and mid palate the experience surprisingly crescendos with a lick of spicy pepper, coupled with lovely, fined grained, textural tannins that seem to persist in the mouth forever. Complex, savoury and moreish!yielding, display amazing intensity.”

Read more: http://www.snooth.com/wine/darenberg-shiraz-dead-arm-2010-10/#ixzz4Bl32OaA1

The Winery: d’Arenberg grows and sources grapes from vineyards all over the McLaren Vale region, with a focus on grapes from the north and north eastern corner. The region itself rises from sea level to approximately 220 metres above sea level in the north, on the rise to the Mt Lofty ranges. The higher areas are much cooler than the low lying vineyards and generally make a more elegant wine, particularly when sourced from the sandy soils of the Blewitt Springs region. d’Arenberg has released a number of wines that express how these environmental relate to flavours in a glass, these unique wines can be found in the Amazing Sites category.

See more about ‘dÁmberg winery here: http://www.darenberg.com.au/

  1. Experts Rating: RP: 95 Pts.; Intl. Wine cellar : 93 Pts.
  2. CV Members Rating: 90 Pts.
  3. Price: $50

Glaymond Wines, Zinfandel, Barossa Valley, 2003  

Glaymond 2003The Wine:  Well rounded with aromas of black fruits, wood vanilla and spices.  Purple red and brick colors. Nice medium to long finish of average complexity.

The Winery: Both Glaymond and Tscharke are the vision of sixth generation vigneron Damien Tscharke who is also the proprietor and winemaker for these acclaimed wines. Having worked on his family’s vineyards for over 20 years, he has developed an intimate knowledge of the vineyard sites and the unique terroir of the sub appellations of Marananga and Seppeltsfield, renowned for their prehistoric soils and Mediterranean climate. Recognised as a leader amongst the new generation of Australian vignerons and winemakers, Damien was the first producer of Albarino and Montepulciano in Australia. He was awarded the prestigious 2004 Peter Olson Fellowship for Innovation and Outstanding Performance in Agriculture and was also shortlisted for Young Winemaker of the Year in 2007. All wines are estate grown and produced. Damien is hands on throughout the process, from research through to planting the vines, vineyard management and winemaking. – Description from JasminaDragoljevic

Read more: http://www.snooth.com/winery/glaymond-wines-greenock/#ixzz4Br3oz5ax

  1. Experts Rating:  NA.
  2. CV Members Rating: 88Pts.
  3. Price: $45 

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. 91 Pts. – $25 – Molly Dooker Two Left Feet, Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot, McLaren Vale, 2014
  2. 90 Pts. – $50 – D’Arenberg Shiraz Dead Arm, McLaren Vale, 2011
  3. 88 Pts. – $45 – Glaymond Wines, Zinfandel, Barossa Valley, 2003
  4. 88 Pts. – $15 Thorn-Clarke Mount Crawford Chardonnay, Eden Valley, 2013

The participants preference (by show of hands) was by far the Molly Dooker (13) followed by  wines 3 (5 participantes) and 1 (1 participant).

Best value for Money: Mollydooker Two Left Feet

5. Technical Notes

Australia Wine Regions.

Australia – Wine Regions

Australia is the world’s fourth largest exporter of wine (around 750 million liters a year) with only about 40% of production consumed domestically.

Australian wine industry is based on bulk production and processing of grapes.  Most wineries produce wines from grapes or juices produced elsewhere and often hauled long distances.  Wine making is approached more as an integrated agro-industrial operation and less as a Chateau or terroir-oriented in house wine making one.  Four large companies dominate the industry namely Southcorp Wines (Penfolds, Rosemount, Lindeman, and many others), Orlando Wyndham (Jacob’s Creek), BRL Hardy and Beringer Blass. This however should not be taken immediately as resulting in lower quality wines.  Australians have developed approaches and techniques to produce high quality and very pleasant wines at par with the best wines in the world.  Besides, there is a growing interest and production of terroir wines of outstanding quality.

The approach to wine production combined with the diversity of soil and climatic conditions require a critical role of the wine maker to find the best approach to deal with a variety of grape qualities and varietals.  Therefore, the emphasis is on gaining a full expression of the fruit flavors more than the characteristics of the places where it is grown.  Wines tend so to be fruitier and more alcoholic than those of the old world.  However, winemakers are careful in balancing those features with good tannins and acidity.

Australia’s wine regions are mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country, with vineyards located in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland.  There is important production as well in the Pert in western Australia area (Margaret River), in Tasmania (and in the Granite Belt on the east (see map)

Major grape varieties are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Sémillon, and Riesling. The country has no native grapes, and Vitis vinifera varieties were introduced from Europe and South Africa in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Some varieties have been bred by Australian viticulturists, for example Cienna and Tarrango.  About 130 different grape varieties are used by commercial winemakers in Australia. Over recent years many winemakers have begun exploring so called “alternative varieties” other than those listed above. Many varieties from France, Italy and Spain for example Petit Verdot, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Viognier are becoming more common.



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Tasting No. 177 – May 23, 2016 – Wines from California

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


California Vineyards

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Peter Lapera, Ricardo Zabaleta

Participants: Members: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averburg,  Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada,  Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Peter Lapera, , Orlando Mason, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke.

Guests: Pedro Belli, Maria Claudia y Agilson Perazza

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. The Wines  

The wines are varietal and purpose of this tasting would be for the participants to find out and distinguish the varieties in each wine.  The the red wines would be served at the same time to allow comparison.

  1. 2014 Seven Rings, (White Undisclosed Variety), Monterrey County
  2. 2013 Zinfandel, Sobon Estate Reserva
  3. 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lavendi, Sweetwater Ranch, Napa Valley
  4. 2013 La Crema, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

3. The Menu:

  1. Seafood Salad
  2. Eggplant Parmesan
  3. Fungi Risotto
  4. Grilled Steak and fries
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2014 Seven Rings, Chardonnay, Monterrey County

Seven ringsThe Wine. Bright apple and pear flavors are woven together with the wine’s oaky, buttery profile. Medium-bodied with additional traces of vanilla, it finishes with a radiant crispness that effortlessly balances the upfront fruit.

Read more about the

Experts Rating: NA

CV Members Rating: 86 Pts.

Price: $16

2013 Zinfandel, Sobon Estate Reserva

SobonThe Wine. Aromas of blackberry, cocoa and mulberry. The wine is rich and beautifully balanced, with flavors of ripe plum, berry, and chocolate.

The Winery. The Sobon Estate winery started in 1989 when Leon and Shirley Sobon bought each other a second winery for their 30th wedding anniversary present. They purchased the historic D’Agostini Winery, one of the oldest in the state. This winery has been designated as California State Historic Landmark #762.

This site was chosen not only for its historical winery, but also for its vineyards and vineyard land. The old vine Zinfandel was retained, and the other vineyards replanted with the best varieties and clones. The Sobon Estate label launched the estate line of wines for the Sobon Family — the best wines from their own grapes. These include Rhone varietals, vineyard designated Zinfandels, and dessert wines.

Read More about Sobone winery and wines here: http://sobonwine.com/

Experts Rating: WE 89 Pts.

CV Members Rating: 90 Pts.

Price: $25

 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lavendi, Sweetwater Ranch, Napa Valley  

levendi-sweetwater-ranchThe Wine:  Sage and white pepper notes on the nose with beautiful wild plum aromas. Bright flavors of big black cherry and chapparal bounce around on a base of mountain tannin and solid natural acidity. This wine is 100% Atlas Peak fruit with two years on French Oak Barrels. 500 cases produced.

The Winery: Levendi is a family owned, boutique winery located in Napa Valley, California. The Gianulias family has a strong Greek tradition of private winemaking dating back for centuries. Since 1926, on American and Napa Valley soil, they have propagated, refined and developed special handcrafted vintages to share with family and friends.

Levendi concentrates on 100% varietal wines with the focus being Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon; in addition they typically will not blend multiple varietals into the same wine. They make two Chardonnays – the Red Hen Vineyard from the Wente clone which is known for its very small concentrated fruit and the other from Cold Creek on the Sonoma side of Carneros.

 See more about Lavendi here: http://www.levendiwinery.com/

Experts Rating: WE 92 Pts

CV Members Rating: 91 Pts.

Price: $53

 2013 Pinot Noir, La Crema, Sonoma Coast  

La-Crema-Pinot-NoirThe Wine:  This is an impressive wine at the price and production level, a great go-to for multiple occasions. It delivers earthy, candied strawberry around a light, bright core, remaining soft and smooth in texture and intensity, finishing with a tease of milk chocolate.

The Winery: La Crema was founded in 1979 and quickly established itself as a pioneer for intensely flavored Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from cool climate. Continuing this tradition, La Crema pursues the ultimate expression of the Russian River Valley, Carneros and Anderson Valley by handcrafting wines of distinctive flavor which achieve elegance and balance. The La Crema Winery itself is not open to the public, however we encourage you to visit our beautiful new Tasting Room located in Healdsburg, California – the heart of Sonoma County Wine Country. – Description from John Andrews

Read more: http://www.snooth.com/winery/la-crema-winery-healdsburg/#ixzz48pNxqfKN

and at : http://www.lacrema.com/

Experts Rating:  RP 92 Pts.

CV Members Rating:  88 Pts.

Price: $20


4.  CV members Rating

Best Rated: 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Lavendi, Sweetwater Ranch, Napa Valley

Best value for Money: 2013 Zinfandel, Sobon Reserve

See detailed evaluation here: Summary of Tasting Scores Summary of Tasting Scores California177

5. Technical Notes

Read about history of California wines in this note prepared by Peter Lapera: Historia2.Vinos de California Peter

and this overview prepared by Jairo Sancheez:   CaliforniaWine – Jairo



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Tasting No. 176 – April 25, 2016 – Wines from Argentina


Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Alvaro Lopez, Italo Mirkow

Participants: Members: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averburg,  Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Peter Lapera, Alvaro Lopez, Orlando Mason, Ítalo Mirkow, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Raul Sanginetti, Pedro Turina, German Zincke.

Guests:  José Brakarz, Alvaro Pachón, John Redwood, Lucia Redwood, Xavi Vila

Type of Tasting: Open

2. The Wines 

  1. 2012 Finca Sophenia Reserva, Viognier, Tupangato _ Mendoza
  2. 2012 Amancaya Gran Reserva. Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Domains Baron de Rothschild Lafite
  3. 2013 Areo Patagonia Argentina, Malbec
  4. 2013 Fabre Montmayou, Reserva, Malbec

3. The Menu:

  1. Calamari in white wine
  2. Mushroom Ravioli in light tomato sauce
  3. Mixed salad (arugula, carrot, and fennel with olive oil
  4. Pork loin, prunes brown sauce
  5. Desert/coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2012 Sophenia Reserva, Viognier, Tupangato, Mendoza

SopheniaThe Wine. Aromas of briny citrus and resiny oak don’t blend together well. In the mouth, this oaky Viognier is grabby and resiny, with bitter green-fruit flavors. The finish is pithy with hard green notes.

The Winery . The land selected to plant in 1997, is located at the slopes of the Andes mountains in the famous district of Tupungato, Mendoza, where the best quality wines are made. At an elevation of 1200 meters (4000 feet) the terroir benefits from the cooler climate, abundant sun, and sharp contrast between day and night temperature, delivering the highest quality from Argentina.

Finca SOPHENIA’ s vineyards were planted over 130 hectares of the best virgin soil of this part of the world. This is a sandy and rocky soil with excellent natural drainage. The vineyards were implanted with selected French clones, which were grafted onto an American rootstocks, and of the following varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.  The irrigation water comes from the Andes’ thaw. The system that distributes it was structured to obtain small berries and a low production per hectare. In this way, the results are wines of great complexity, high fruit concentration and capable to age well.

Read More about Finca Sophenia wines here: http://www.sophenia.com.ar/eng/index.php

Experts Rating: NA

CV Members Rating: 87

Price: $20

2012 Amancaya Gran Reserva. Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Domains Baron de Rothschild Lafite 

bodegas-caro-amancayaThe Wine:  Amancaya, like its older brother CARO ( the first blend of Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon produced under the partnership between the Catena Family and the Baron of Rothschild), presents a harmonious balance between the Argentine and Bordeaux styles. The wine is more fruity due to the higher percentage of Malbec and shorter ageing. The word AMANCAYA is the native Indian name of a flower found at high altitudes in the Andes in the Mendoza area. – 60% to 70% Malbec, 30% to 40% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Winery. The idea of forming a partnership between Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and the Catena family was born in 1999. Initial enthusiasm quickly became a concrete plan to produce a single wine that would combine French and Argentine cultures and the two signature grapes of each producer, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Catena family has produced wine for three generations. Consequently, it was able to draw on its vast knowledge of the high altitude terroirs of the Mendoza region as well as its passion for Malbec to find the best vineyards. DBR (Lafite) contributed its centuries-old skills in growing, vinifying and ageing great Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as its know-how in blending different grape varieties to produce one wine that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Exchanges and selection work began in 1999 to produce CARO’s first vintage in 2000. The success of the early vintages resulted in the creation of another wine in 2003: AMANCAYA which, like its older brother, is based on a harmonious balance between Argentinian identity and Bordeaux style. Bodegas CARO then decided to celebrate the grape variety for which Argentina’s vineyards are famous by selecting a pure Malbec, ARUMA, starting with the 2010 vintage.

The Bodegas CARO winery, in the heart of Mendoza, has been producing the wines since the 2003 vintage and serves as the anchor of the CARO project. The renovation of the historic building and gardens in order to expand the winery and open the Bodega to the outside brings the final touch to the original project.

See more at: http://www.lafite.com/en/the-domaines/bodegas-caro/the-wines/amancaya/#sthash.RM61BLTN.dpuf

See more about Bodegas Caro here: http://www.lafite.com/en/the-domaines/bodegas-caro/

Experts Rating: WE 90Pts; RP 91 Pts.

CV Members Rating: 89 Pts.

Price: $22

2013 Areo Patagonia Argentina, Malbec 

areo malbec

The Wine:  Winemaker’s Notes “The appearance is young and elegant with hues of red. The palate offers a diversity of fresh fruits and a tinge of vanilla. The finish is long and velvety with a remarkable balance.”

Nose: big but nuanced fruit begins at first sniff, with grapes, raisins, blackberries and a bramble edge roiling out of the glass. Taste: Big, round, voluptuous, with all the fruit  promised by its bouquet spiked with a bit of clove and some nice dark chocolate notes around the edges. It is nicely structured and its finish is full and lingering, hints of black pepper and black tea chiming in right at the very end.

The Winery: Familia Grittini Winery started at the famous and mystic Argentinian Patagonia. Featuring 54 hectares devoted to production, this exclusive winery is located in the Province of Neuquén, in the small District of San Patricio del Chañar. In this place, there is a micro climate with frequent and intense wind, scarce rainfall and humidity. All this is essential for the production of excellent wine. Its favorable natural conditions plus the extreme care and technological innovations permit the storage of 810,000 liters of wine of international quality.

Experts Rating:  NA

CV Members Rating: 90 Pts.

Price: $24

2013 Fabre Montmayou, Malbec



The Wine: Dark red with violet shiny tones. Poweful on the nose with floral aromas of violets, spices, and dark cherries. This wine is very elegant, fruit driven with a good structure with smooth ripe tannins and a long finish. Best served with all kind of grilled meat, game and cheeses.

The Winery:  The winery was built in Vistalba – Lujan de Cuyo, 18 Km North of Mendoza city at 3800 feet elevation (1,150 meters of altitude), and is surrounded by the first 37 acres of Malbec vineyards that the company bought. For the Fabre Montmayou line of wines, the owners decided to buy exclusively old-vine vineyards in the best wine growing areas of Mendoza. Grapes arrive at the winery in 40 lbs. trays and the clusters are carefully hand sorted prior to the destemming. There is a second hand sorting table for individual berries as they come out of the destemmer to ensure that only the very highest quality grapes go into our wines. Fermentation is carried out by native yeasts at a controlled temperature with four pump-overs per day. Extended maceration (skin contact) allows for greater extraction of tannins, which will add structure to the finished wine before barrel aging begins.

Read more about Fabre Montmayou winery here: http://fabremontmayou.com/internacional/fabre_mendoza/quienes/whoweare.html

Experts Rating: JS 91 Pts.

CV Members Rating: 87 Pts.

Price: $22

4.  CV members Rating

Best Rated: 2013 Areo – Malbec Patagonia

Best value for Money: 2012 Amancaya Gran Reserva. Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Domains Baron de Rothschild LafiteSee detailed evaluation here: Summary of Tasting Scores Argentina176

5. Regional Notes and Varieties Notes

Read about Neuquén and Mendoza Wines in this note prepared by Jairo Sanchez: Argentinian Wine



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Tasting No. 175 – March 28, 2016 – Wines from Chile

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Marcello Averbug, German Zinke

Participants: Members: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averburg, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Emilio Labrada, Peter Lapera, Alvaro López, Orlando Mason, Ítalo Mirkow, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez,  Ricardo Zabaleta, German Zincke.

Non members:  Jorge Claro

Type of Tasting: Open

2. The Wines 

  1.  2011 Terroir Hunter. Undurraga, Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley
  2.  2010 Finis Terrae. Cousiño-Macul, Blend, Maipo Valley 
  3. 2011 Purple Angel, Montes, Carmenere
  4. 2011 VIGNO – Vignadores de Carignan. Maulle Valley, by de Martino

3. The Menu

  1. Crab cake stuffed with mushroom
  2. Grilled Vegetable
  3. Agnolloti cream sauce
  4. Lamb with Rosemary sauce & potatoes.
  5. Dessert and coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2011 Terroir Hunter. Undurraga, Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley


The Wine. Robert Parker: The 2011 T.H. Leyda Sauvignon Blanc comes from 3.58 hectares in San Antonio. It has a crisp nose of grass clippings, crab apple and lime flower, hints of nettle developing with time. The palate is well balanced with crisp acidity. It is refined and harmonious with a delicate, spicy finish that does not outstay its welcome. Drink now-2017.”

Wine Enthusiast:  “This wine consistently shows off its excellence and purity. This vintage is typically aromatic, with scents of ocean, honey, green herb and grass. The palate is full, round and lemony, with scallion, lime, melon and tarragon flavors. Will pair well with shellfish and ceviche.”

Read More about Undurraga wines here: http://www.undurraga.cl/compania

Experts Rating: Wine and  Spirits: 94 Pts. WS: 90 Pts.

CV Members Rating: 89 Pts.

Price: $18

 2010 Finis Terrae. Cousiño-Macul, Blend, Maipo Valley 


The Wine:  Finis Terrae was conceived, designed, and built by Chile’s masterful Cousiño-Macul winery to go head-to-head with the First Growths of Bordeaux and Napa Valley. With the just-released 2010 Finis Terrae, a breakthrough vintage for this wine, it has become a remarkably good impersonator of La Mission Haut-Brion, at 1/20th the price. It is made from 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 10% Syrah (a clever addition to the traditional Bordeaux cépage, which has given Finis Terrae the last bit of LMHB-like richness it needed to complete the picture). The wine is aged for 15 months in a combination of Seguin Moreau, Taransaud, Demptos and Saury French oak (55% new). What jumps out first and foremost is the cedary, plummy fruit, accented by very Graves-like notes of scorched earth, damp forest floor, and minerality. Supple and amazingly sophisticated for the price, the 2010 Finis Terrae, while immensely enjoyable now, has the structure and balance to age gracefully for an additional 7 to 10 years. Decant one-half hour before serving.

A red with dark berries, walnuts, lightly toasted oak and cocoa. Full body, firm tannins and a flavorful finish. Attractive austerity. A blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah. Traditional style. Drink now or hold. (13-Aug-2014) James Suckling

Mainly Cabernet, with Merlot and Syrah. Very dark garnet showing some signs of age in the colour. Complex aroma including minty, sweet black fruit. But there’s also coffee and spice. And darker flavours like tar and black olive. Distinctive and dark, like molasses but without the sweetness. Bags of character and flavour. (JH) (21-Oct-2014) Jancis Robinson

See more about Cousiño Macul Winery here: http://www.cousinomacul.com/

Experts Rating: WA 90 Pts.

CV Members Rating: 91 Pts.

Price: $30

2011 Purple Angel, Montes, Carmenere

Purple Angel_label

The Wine:  Robert Parker: The 2011 Purple Angel is Carmenere with some 8% Petit Verdot to try to balance the low acidity of the Carmenere: the Petit Verdot acting like the bones and the Carmenere would be the meat. It has abundant black fruit aromas. There is a mix from two different plots of Carmenere from Apalta (riper, more black fruit) and Marchigue (cooler, adding more peppery flavors and aromas) within Colchagua. It aged for 18 months in French oak barrels. This 2011 is still very young with roasted coffee aromas from the barrels, notes of mint, chocolate and fine-grained tannins, moderate acidity and a powerful profile. For a cool vintage like 2011, there is a remarkable absence of green aromas and flavors, achieved by low yields and managing irrigation. This is still very young and shows a primary, fruit-driven personality. It should age well and develop more complexity, as I saw in the 2003 and 2007 vintages. (LG)

James Suckling. Top 100 Wines of 2014* This is a crazy red with dried chipotle and red chili pepper character with hints of dark fruits. Blueberry concentration. Full body, with fabulous fruit and an underlying firm tannin structure. Very silky tannins. This is the best Carmenere-based red from Chile. 92% Carmenere and 8% Petit Verdot.

See more about Montes Winery here: http://www.monteswines.com/en/

Experts Rating: WA 91 Pts.

CV Members Rating: 91 Pts.

Price: $57

 2011 VIGNO – Vignadores de Carignan. Maulle Valley, by de Martino


Vigno (pronounced veenio) is short for Vignadores de Background:  Carignan. It’s a new collaborative project to promote old vine Carignan wines from Maule, and the name Vignadores is a mutation from the Spanish term for winegrower, viñadores, with the ‘g’ from Carignan added in.

Old vine Carignan is a neglected treasure of the Chilean wine industry. It was first planted on a large scale in Maule in the early 1940s, when, in the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake in 1939, the Ministry of Agriculture proposed encouraging the planting of Carignan to improve the region’s wines. The thinking was that the naturally high acidity and colour of Carignan would improve the local wines.

So for more than 50 years the vineyards of Maule have been home to dry grown, old vine Carignan. Previously a workhorse variety that was used to blend, Chilean winemakers are now realizing they have a precious resource.

Vigno has 12 founder wineries, representing a mix from the small to the very big. They are: Bravado Wines, De Martino, Garage Wine Co, Gillmore, Lomas de Cauquenes, Meli, Miguel Torres, Morande, Odfjell, Undurraga, Valdivieso and Viña Roja.

The rules for Vigno is that the wines must be made from at least 65% old, dry-farmed Carignan vines from Maule, with any balance being also old vine Maule fruit. The vines have to be unirrigated and head pruned bush vines (gobelet).

(Taken from: http://wineanorak.com/chile/vigno.htm)

The Wine: Vigno is a single-vineyard Carignan produced from a 70-year-old, dry-farmed, head-trained, and non-grafted vineyard called La Aguada situated in the Maule Valley. A beautiful, perfumed nose with elegant, yet rustic touches of cured meats, tree bark, smoke, ripe cherries, and subtle sweet baking spices. Aged 24 months in large neutral oak barrels, or foudres, this is a balanced, supple, meaty, delicious bottle of wine.  Drinkable now, but will cellar beautifully over the next 10 years.

The 2011 Vigno Single Vineyard La Aguada is a field blend ( 85% Carignan, and 15% Malbec and Cinsault) from an un-grafted, dry-farmed, head-pruned old vineyard called La Aguada in Sauzal, in the coastal mountain range in Maule, one of the closest Carignan plots to the Pacific Ocean in the region, which was planted with a mixture of approximately 90% Carignan and 10% other red varieties (Pais, Carmenere, Cinsault and Malbec) in 1955. It has a beautiful perfumed nose with elegant yet rustic touches of cured meats, tree bark, a touch of smoke, ripe cherries and subtle sweet spices with very good acidity, good tension, and delineated pure flavors. A yummy, supple, meaty, delicious bottle of wine, very drinkable and food-friendly. It’s drinking well now, but it should also age well. This is simply superb, elegant, fresh, balanced, a great expression of Carignan and the Maule. At this quality level this is a real bargain. Super! Drink now–2019.

Read more about this winery here: http://www.vigno.org/?page_id=668

Experts Rating: WA 95 Pts.

CV Members Rating: 90 Pts.

Price: $41

4.  CV members Rating (TBA)

Best Rated: 2010 Purple Angel Carmenere, Montes, Colchagua Valley – 91 Pts

Best value for Money: 2010.  Finnis Terrae Bordeaux style Blend, Cousiño- Macul, Maipo Valley – 91 Pts, $18

See detailed evaluation here: Summary of Tasting Scores 175 Chile

5. Regional Notes and Varieties Notes

Read about Chile wine here : Chilean wine1 (1)



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