Tasting No. 185 – February 27, 2017 – Undisclosed variety and its blends


 Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Waiting to be tasted

1. Presenters and Participants

Presenters: Jorge Requena, Jairo Sánchez


MembersMario Aguilar, Marcello Averburg, Jorge Claro, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jaime Jaramillo, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, Ítalo Mirkow, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sánchez, Jairo Sánchez, Raúl Sanguinetti, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke.

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. The Wines  

The  main objectives of this tasting are to find out the undisclosed red wine variety being presented and to distinguish the varietals form the blends. Red wines tasting will be fully blind. Specific Information for wines 1, 2, and 3 will be disclosed after tasting.

The wines selected come from three different important producing regions and countries located in the old and new continents  Two of the wines are made with a 100% varietal and the other one is a traditional blend, which includes the same varietal. The general characteristics of the variety being tased are:

Fruit                 5/5

Body                5/5

Tannin             3/5

Acidity             4/5

Alcohol            4/5

Dominant Flavors:  Blueberry—Plum—Milk Chocolate—Tobacco—Green Peppercorn

Regional Flavors: Warm Climate: Fruit forward blackberry, blueberry and sweet tobacco; Cool Climate: red plum, olive and green peppercorn

3. The Menu

  1. Seafood Salad
  2. Pappardelle with bolognese
  3. Grilled beef and vegetables
  4. Cheese plate
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2014 Château Côte Montpezat Compostelle

chateau-cote-montpezatThe Wine: This wine is a Bordeaux blend of 40%Sauvignon Blanc, 30%Sauvignon Gris and,  30%Semillon .  Fresh, fruity, cream. Full bodied. Fresh wine with flavors of citrus and quite creamy with almond notes. Pair this wine with white fish like cod and season vegetables.

The Winery: Chateau Cote Montpezat is a large, 30 hectare estate in the Cotes de Bordeaux appellation that is owned by Dominique Bessineau who purchased the property in 1989. The original chateau was constructed in the 1600’s. For the white wine of Chateau Cote Montpezat, the estate uses 1.2 hectare of vines planted to 40% Sauvignon Blanc , 30% Semillon and 30% Sauvignon Gris . The vines are planted to a vine density of 6,000 vines per hectare. On average, the production is about 500 cases per vintage.
Read more at:http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/bordeaux-wine-producer-profiles/bordeaux/satellite-appellations/chateau-cote-montpezat-cotes-de-castillon-bordeaux-wine/

 2013 Two Hands, Shiraz, Bella’s Garden, Barossa Valley

img_0914The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Quality without compromise’ is a core value that drives all Two Hands decisions so, not surprisingly; the wines have received international acclaim from respected wine critics.  A blend of our finest Shiraz barrels from across the Barossa Valley region. This is a sumptuous wine, defined by its aromatic complexity and finesse.

  • Color: Deep, dark red with a black core. Tending a purple hue towards the meniscus.
  • Aroma: Deep set aromas of red currant to blackberry with notes of incense Christmas spice.
  • Palate: Lashings of dark fruit with notes of incense and aromatic spices, floral hints add layers and complexity. The wine rolls across the palate coating every corner of your mouth. Dense and chewy tannins complement the fruit nicely, which tighten through the finish adding a savory graphite note. Incredibly long and complex through the finish . Cellar Potential: 10 to 15 years.

The Winery:  The Two Hands range is extensive, as we crush grapes from distinct regions across Australia, making wines from many different varietals across the four series in our portfolio, all produced on the estate.Since then our very first vintage, we have endeavoured to produce wines that truly reflect regionality, meaning that they show the characteristics that we associate with the regions from where the fruit was sourced. With the motto ‘quality without compromise’ central to  the Two Hands philosophy, our wines are selected through a process of barrel classification – selecting the very best barrels for the Flagship range followed by the Single Vineyard Series, Garden Series and then our Picture Series.

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

2011 Regina de Renieri, Syrah

img_0912The Wine: Winemaker’s Note: This wine matures in French oak for 18 months and is not filtered. The presence of sediment, if any, is to be considered part of the natural maturation process. Intense with blackberry, and leather notes. This is a luxurious red with dark berry, plum and peach aromas and flavors. Full body light and velvety tannins and a long and flavorful finish. Juicy, rich, spicy red with meat and earth character, as well as ripe plums.

The Winery: During the late 1960s, a number of (Tuscan) rebel producers began making modern-styled wines of very high quality – which later became known as the ‘Super Tuscans’. These soon gained international acclaim and respect and began increasing dramatically in price. The result was that some of Italy’s very finest and most respected wines were being labeled and sold as Vino di Tavola. In 1984, one of the most famous Super Tuscans – Sassicaia – was granted its very own DOC title, DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia, but further measures were required to address the other wines.

To bring a degree of balance to the situation, in 1992 the Italian government introduced a new wine classification category: Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT). This has successfully introduced a mid-ground between the highly regulated DOCG and DOC classifications and the lowly, unregulated Vino di Tavola one. IGT wines are created with the bare minimum of restrictions required to ensure quality wine production: they bear a vintage statement and producer name, they must be made from at least 85% of the grape variety, and the region of origin must be stated on the label. Almost every other restriction placed on IGT wine production falls back to generic regulations in force for all wines made within the EU.

The IGT category is used only in Italy; its equivalent in France is VDP (Vin de Pays). At a European Union-wide level, these two correspond to IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée / Indicazione Geografica Protetta).

Read more at: http://www.wine-searcher.com/regions-toscana+igt

2006 Chateauneuf Du Pape, Prestige, Roger Sabon

img_0915The Wine: Winemaker’s Note:This wine matures in French oak for 18 months and is not filtered. The presence of sediment, if any, is to be considered part of the natural maturation process.  Intense with blackberry, and leather notes. This is a luxurious red with dark berry, plum and peach aromas and flavors. Full body light and velvety tannins and a long and flavorful finish. Juicy, rich, spicy red with meat and earth character, as well as ripe plums.

The Winery: Domaine Roger Sabon was founded in 1952 and is currently run by Roger’s sons Denis and Gilbert. A third son, Jean-Jacques is deceased but his son-in-law Didier Negron is the current winemaker. Denis and his son Julien oversee the farming while Gilbert and his niece, Delphine run the office. It is quite the family affair!

The size of the domaine has grown slowly over the years with 18 hectares in Chateauneuf du Pape, 8 hectares in Lirac and 8 hectares in Côtes-du-Rhône. Most of their holdings in Châteauneuf-du-Pape are located in the northeastern part of the appellation, where the soils are sandier with a high concentration of limestone. They also own a  few parcels in Le Crau famous for its red clay under a deep layer of galets deposited from the alps eons ago. These two soil types combine to make wines that are equally rich and nuanced.

Read more at: http://www.europeancellars.com/producer/domaine-roger-sabon

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. 2013 Two Hands, Shiraz, Bella’s Garden, Barossa Valley                                                          Members Score:   92  Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score : RP 94  Pts.                                                                                                              $55
  2.  2006 Roger Sabon Prestige Châteauneuf-du-Pape                                                                      Members Score:   91 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :     RP 93 Pts.                                                                                                             $55
  3. 2012 Regina di Renieri Bacci Toscana                                                                                       Members Score: 90 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :    JS 94 Pts.                                                                                                               $32
  4. 2014 Château Côte Montpezat Compostelle White                                                                     Members Score:   89 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :    JS 90 Pts.                                                                                                             $ 18

Best value for Money: 2012 Regina di Renieri Bacci Toscana

5. Technical Notes 

There are two very didactic articles on varietals vs. blends here ( Alfonso Sanchez), here (Huffington Post) and here (The Hanes Wine Review)



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Tasting No. 184 – January 30, 2017 – Pinot Noir from the Old and New Worlds


 Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Ruth Connolly, Ginger Smart


MembersMarcello Averburg, Ruth Connolly, Clarita Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sánchez, Xavi Vila, German Zincke.


Type of Tasting: Open

2. The Wines  

The  main objective of this tasting is to distinguish the differences between the Old and New World Pinot Noir wines.

  1. 2014 Errazuriz, Chardonnay  Wild Ferment, Casablanca Valley 
  2. 2015 Domaine Joblot Givry 1er Cru, Clos Marole
  3. 2015 Quentin Jeannette Maranges, Vieilles Vignes
  4. 2013  Shane, The Charm Pinot Noir,  Russian River Valley

3. The Menu

  1. Lobster bisque
  2. Raviolis stuffed with mushrooms and a brown sauce
  3. Salmon salad with spinach and pine nuts
  4. Beef with red wine sauce
  5. Dessert/Coffe

4. Information on the Wines

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

2014 Errazuriz Chardonnay Wild Ferment, Casablanca Valley 

errazuriz-wild-ferment-chardonnay-casablanca-valley-chile-10545272The Wine: A top name in Chile, Errazuriz owns vineyards in Aconcagua, Casablanca and Curico. Natural yeasts are used here, with 10% French oak for fermentation, resulting in a balanced wine full of bright citrus fruit, a subtle sweet oak nose, a creamy texture and brisk acidity.

Wild Ferment wines are fermented using the wild yeast present on the grapes and in the air contributing with more distinctive flavours, richer mouth-feel and greater complexity to the wine.

Winemaking: Hand picked grapes were rigorously sorted, selected and fermented at low temperatures to retain acidity. Wild yeasts added layers of complexity, richness and texture to the wine. Ten months ageing in French oak barrels “sur-lie” gave even more complexity and creaminess.
Character: Rich, mouth filling and creamy with rich ripe fruit characters, toasty spice balanced by crisp acidity and a long finish.

This wine comes from la Escultura Estate in the Casablanca Valley, where the abundant sunshine and cool Pacific breezes create a long, growing season, creating superb ripeness and balance.

The Winery:  Casablanca Valley is a wine-growing region of Chile, located 60 miles (100km) north-west of the country’s capital, Santiago. The east-west-oriented valley is roughly 19 miles (30km) long, stretching to the eastern border of the Valparaiso province. It is best known for its crisp white wines, most notably Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, which have gained it recognition as one of Chile’s quality wine regions. Pinot Noir, which is responsive to the cooler climates found in this coastal area, is also grown with some success.

Given the valley’s location at 33°S (much closer to the Equator than any European vineyard), viticulture here is possible largely because of the oceanic influence, which brings cool morning fog and greater cloud cover than is found elsewhere in the north of Chile. It is this cooler climate that makes Casablanca’s white wines stand out from their local rivals. With a longer ripening period, the white grapes have more time to develop greater flavor complexity, while maintaining sugars and acids in balance.

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

 2015 Domaine Joblot Givry 1er Cru, Clos Marole

domaine-joblot-clos-marole-givry-premier-cru-france-10651824The Wine.  The Givry Clos Marole red from Domaine Joblot is a Premier Cru from Pinot Noir (100%).  Deep ruby color with aromas of red and black fruit (blackcurrant, morello cherry). In the mouth, the juice is full-bodied, coated with fine tannins but with fleshy character to be refined over the years. It is a wine with fine tannins,  A worthy representative of the wines of the appellation.

The Winery:  Clos Marole is an official Premier Cru vineyard of the Givry appellation in the Cote Chalonnaise sub-region of Burgundy. It is one of about 30 vineyards granted this status and allowed to append their name to that of the Givry appellation on wine labels.

Givry itself is one of the five communal titles of the Chalonnaise, producing predominantly red wines from the Pinot Noir grape variety. The appellation’s relatively rare white wines are made from Chardonnay and account for around 10% of the total output. Givry was once the epicenter of Chalonnaise wine production and its fame stretches back to the 16th century when it was King Henri IV’s preferred source of wine.

The Givry Premier Cru vineyards are regarded as having the finest terroir of the area and thus produce the most highly regarded of the appellation’s wines. They are planted on sandstone- and limestone-rich soils, the best of which lie on the south-facing slopes immediately west of Givry village. The sites here vary in altitude from about 500ft to 1000ft (150–300m), with the higher vineyards sharing their land with quarries that dot the hillsides – clearly demonstrating the soil structure below the vines.

Read more at: http://www.wine-searcher.com/regions-givry+clos+marole

 2015 Quentin Jeannette Maranges, Vieilles Vignes    

domaine-matrot-maranges-vieilles-vignes-cote-de-beaune-france-10558710The Wine:  Light ruby, red berries aromas and flavors, a bit of spiciness, short final not too complex.

The Winery: Maranges is the southernmost wine-producing commune of the Cote de Beaune in Burgundy, taking its name from the three villages within its catchment area: Cheilly-les-Maranges, Dezize-les-Maranges and Sampigny-les-Maranges. The Maranges appellation produces medium-bodied red wines from Pinot Noir, which are best consumed within a few years of vintage. White wines made from Chardonnay are permitted under the appellation laws, but are produced only in very small quantities.

Read more at: http://www.wine-searcher.com/regions-maranges

 2013 Shane, The Charm, Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 

shane-wine-cellars-the-charm-pinot-noir-russian-river-valley-usa-10783918The Wine: Shane’s notes: The Charm has a deep garnet color. The aromatics are highlighted by a mélange of red fruits and baking spices. Elements of rose petals, Rainer cherries, allspice and ripe strawberries accentuate the aromatics. The plush mid-palate exhibits tones of raspberries, cardamom, and red apple skin. Focused acidity and refined tannins shape the finish filled with pluot, cinnamon, and cola.

The Winery: Russian River Valley, one of the United States’ top-ranked wine regions, is located at the heart of Sonoma County, California. One of California’s coolest and foggiest AVAs (particularly in its southern and western portions), the valley has a cool growing season and a long, slow, ripening period which promotes complexity and balance in the wines. As a result, Russian River Valley wines are widely respected, particularly those made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The 2013 Charm is sourced primarily from the Floodgate Vineyard as well as the Graham Vineyard. Both vineyards embody the classic spirit of the Russian River Valley and its Goldridge soils. The vineyards produce wines of supple texture and a bright red fruit profile.

Read more at: https://www.shanewines.com/vineyards/index.html and http://www.wine-searcher.com/regions-russian+river+valley

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:

2014 Errazuriz, Chardonnay  Wild Ferment, Casablanca Valley                                             Members Score:  91 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :    93 Pts. James Suckling                                                                                       $18

Selected comments: Fruit and acid in balance, tasty, balanced, excellent, finish medium.

2015 Domaine Joblot Givry 1er Cru, Clos Marole                                                                  Members Score:   91 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :     90 Pts.                                                                                                                   $40

Selected comments: Good match with salmon. balance, mild tannins, long and complex finish, complex but a bit acidic, the most refined of all, dark color and balance.

2013  Shane, The Charm Pinot Noir,  Russian River Valley                                                   Members Score: 90 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :    91 Pts. WE                                                                                                            $42

Selected Comments: Deep long finish, a bit too fruity, intense, perfect texture, feels like a Cab, the best buy, acidic and fruity, deep and very complex, great finish.

2015 Quentin Jeannette Maranges, Vieilles Vignes                                                                        Members Score:   86 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :     NA Pts.                                                                                                                 $30

Selected Comments:  Earthy flavors, oil like odor, weird odor and taste. too light and acidic, weak, short and unbalanced finish, watery, just average

Best value for Money: 2014 Errazuriz, Chardonnay  Wild Ferment, Casablanca Valley

See full evaluation here: 184-summary-of-tasting-scores

5. Technical Notes 

Pinot Noir Wine (By Jairo Sánchez)

Taken from Wine Searcher and Wine Folly

Pinot Noir is the red wine grape of Burgundy, now adopted in wine regions all over the world. The variety charm has carried it to all manner of vineyards, from western Germany and northern Italy to Chile, South Africa, Australia and, notably, California, Oregon and New Zealand. It is the patriarch of the Pinot family of grape varieties – so called because their bunches are similar in shape to a pine cone. Other members of this family include Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier, Aligote and Pinot Noir’s white-wine counterpart, Chardonnay.

Pinot Noir causes more discussion and dispute than any other grape, most of which centers around finding and describing the variety’s “true” expression. Examples from Santenay are undeniably different from those made on the other side of the world in Central Otago, and yet they are all unmistakably, unquestionably Pinot Noir. It takes a great deal of care and skill to make Pinot perform, and the results vary wildly from watery, acidic candy water to some of the richest, most intensely perfumed wines on Earth. This elusive perfection has earned the variety obsessive adoration from wine lovers all over the world.In Burgundy, the traditional vigneron focuses more on soil and climate than on the qualities of the grape variety itself. Even very subtle differences in terroir are reflected in Pinot Noir wines made there.

Although many winemakers in the New World attempt to emulate the Burgundy style, the newer Pinot regions in Oregon, Washington, California and New Zealand have their own individual expressions and interpretations of the variety.

The essence of Pinot Noir wine is its aroma of strawberry and cherry (fresh red cherries in lighter wines and stewed black cherries in weightier examples), underpinned in the most complex examples by hints of undergrowth. Well-built Pinot Noirs, particularly from warmer harvests, also exhibit notes of leather and violets.

The question of oak in Pinot Noir winemaking is frequently raised, as are the length of fermentation and the option of a pre-ferment maceration (cold soak). Cooler temperatures lead to fresher fruit flavors, while longer, warmer fermentations and pigeage (French term for ‘punching down’ – the process of breaking up and plunging down the thick cap of grape solids which forms during fermentation) result in more extracted wines with greater tannic structure.

Although Pinot Noir earns most of its fame from its still, red, varietal wines, the variety is also a vital ingredient in the production of sparkling white wines. For these, it can be used alone, but is most commonly blended with its cousin Chardonnay, and other members of the Pinot family – mainly Pinot Meunier in Champagne and Pinot Blanc in Franciacorta. The highly successful Pinot – Chardonnay sparkling wine blend has been adopted by regions all around the world, in Europe, the Americas, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. 

Synonyms include: Pinot Nero, Pinot Negro, Spatburgunder, Blauburgunder.  

Dominant Flavors: Cranberry Cherry, Raspbery, Clove, Mushroom 

Where it grows:

France                       57%

USA                            27%

New Zealand              4%

Germany                  2.6%

Italy                           2.4 %

Australia                    2.2%

Chile                            1.5%

Rest of the world      3.5% 

Pinot Noir Wine Taste Regional Differences 

Raspberry and Clove                   Cranberry and Mushroom

California                                              France

Central Otago NZ                                Germany

South Australia                                    Italy

Chile                                                     Oregon




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Tasting No. 183 – December 19, 2016 – Sparkling Wines


 Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

By Sven Teschke, Büdingen - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Sven Teschke, Büdingen – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: John and Lucia Redwood, Pedro Turina


Members: Mario Aguilar, Jorge Claro, Jorge García-García, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Peter Lapera,  Alvaro Lopez, Italo Mirkow, Lucia Redwood, John Redwood, Raúl Sanguinetti, Alfonso Sánchez,  Pedro Turina, Xavier Villa, Ricardo Zavaleta.

Guests: Atilio Nieto

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. The Wines  

The  main objective of this tasting is distinguish the differences of sparkling wines from different regions of the old world.  

  1. Franck Bonville Grand Cru Brut, Champagne, France
  2. Conde de Caralt Blanc de Blancs, Spain
  3. Foss Marai Prosecco Extra Dry, Valdobbiadene, Italy
  4. De Margerie Bouzy Rouge Pinot Noir, Coteaux Champenois, France

3. The Menu

  1. Fresh homemade lentil soup
  2. Salad with baby arugula, goat cheese, walnuts, cherry tomatoes tossed in virgin olive oil
  3. Homemade agnolotti filled with fresh spinach, imported ricota & parmesan cheese in a cream sauce
  4. Lamb chops with rosemary sauce, roasted potatoes and green beans
  5. Dessert/coffe

4. Information on the Wines

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

Franck Bonville Grand Cru Brut, Champagne, France  

frank-bonvilleThe Wine: This Blanc de Blancs Champaigne is made  from white-wine grapes while Blanc de Noirs is made from red varieties.  The most commonly used variety in Blancs de Blancs wine is Chardonnay the oly whote variety planted in Champagne). Other varieties include  Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier and Arbane.

The Wine Enthusiast: “From the heartland of Chardonnay in Champagne comes this rich, creamy, apple-flavored wine. It has lively acidity, balanced with some sweetness from the dosage. It ha weight and a crisp aftertaste”  It is also described as “Dry, Tropical, Apple, Light-bodied”.

Gilbert and Gailard: “Light gold. Pleasant, focused, distinctive nose marrying white flowers and hazelnut. Clean attack on the palate, rapidly developing the same delightful aromas. Lingering finish driven by almond and hazelnut tones. Suitable for stylish pre-dinner drinks”.

The Winery:  A cru is a winemaking village where a specific combination of grape variety, terroir and climate are found. There are 320 crus in Champagne and 278,000 individual plots, each with their own identity. 17 Grand Cru villages cover 14% of the total surface area of the Champagne appellation. Out of those 17, only six are found in the Côte des Blancs. Our 77 vineyard plots are located in three Grand Cru villages: Avize, Oger, and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger.

Read more at: http://champagne-franck-bonville.com/

 Conde de Caralt Blanc de Blancs

conde-de-caraltThe Wine. Cava Blend is a term used to describe the composition of the iconic sparkling wines of Spain. This blend is principally made up of three grape varieties: Macabeo (often written Macabeu), Xarel-lo and Parellada. In 1986, Chardonnay was officially allowed in the blend, signaling Spain’s intention to move with the times and compete with the other sparkling wines of Europe. White Malvasía and dark-skinned varieties Pinot Noir, Garnacha, Monastrell and Trepat are other recent additions to the list of permitted Cava grape varieties.

Good-quality Cavas are known for their well-integrated autolytic characteristics of toast, cream and secondary nut (almond) flavors. Wines with higher Pinot Noir content may show more cherry and berry flavors, while more traditional blends display green apple, peach and even earthy notes.  Taken from http://www.wine-searcher.com/grape-1681-cava-blend

This cava “opens up with an enticing orange blossom bouquet, lively bubble trails and fine mousse.  On the palate, the wine is creamy, clean and refreshing. Flavors of apples, citrus, brioche and vanilla resolve with lively mineral notes into a well-blended finish.” It is also described as “Dry, Citrus, Toast, Medium-bodied”.

The Winery.  Back before phylloxera tore through European vineyards, a small group of folks in Penedés (Catalonia)  decided to use the Méthode Champenoise to establish Penedés as the Spanish equivalent region.  After the phylloxera bug destroyed most vineyards in Penedés, they were planted with stocks from America that permitted the recovery of the sparkling wine.  Literally meaning ‘cave’ or ‘cellar’, Cava can only be grown from 5 grapes, parellada, xarel-lo, macabeo, chardonnay, and the rarely used subirat (aka malvasia).  The first 3 are most common, each lending character of acid, fruit, delicacy, and finesse to the wine.  The overall product is something like anti-champagne, a bottle of ready to drink fantastic wine that almost everyone can afford.  Conde de Caralt Brut Cava is made by Freixenet, who is one of the two largest producers of Cava on the planet.

Foss Marai Prosecco Extra Dry, Valdobbiadene    

foss-maraiThe Wine:  Described as “Textbook Prosecco, this delivers lush apple and cream flavors with plenty of bubbles.  It feels juicy, round and fresh finishing clean.  A fine summer aperitivo.”  It is also described as “Dry, Apple, Floral, Medium-bodied”. View: Straw yellow.
Nose: intense and elegant acacia and apple available in a perfect and harmonious combination notes.
Mouth: sensation of green fruits, perfect balance between sugar and acid will, velvety character.

The Winery: Foss Marai is certainly one of the essential names in the context of Prosecco. This is a far-sighted and ambitious winery, which has decided to focus strongly on the quality and elegance. In this way, Foss Marai has earned numerous appreciations and a starring role in the Italian wine scene. Marai is nothing more than the name of a valley in the area of Guia, where is the headquarters of the winery, in a beautiful hillside covered with vineyards of Prosecco. Nearly a hundred years after its foundation, the current owner Carlo Biasiotto continues to invest with conviction on the road of quality and elegance, like the sophisticated design of the bottles. The goal of the winery is to maintain a close relationship with modernity, but without submitting to the fashions, using the traditional base as essential in order to progress into the future. So Foss Marai is now considered one of the most appreciated and respected, with a proposal for a Prosecco and Cartizze. (Taken from Callmewine.com)

Read more at: http://www.fossmarai.com/home

 De Margerie Bouzy Rouge Pinot Noir, Coteaux Champenois 

de-margerieThe Wine: “The Grand Cru classified region pf Bouzy in Champange is famous for its Pinot Noir. Made from 100% estate grown grapes, this simply delightful red boast a nose and matching palate of soft cherry and strawberry, perfectly balanced with creamy vanilla flavors.”  It is also described as “Elegant. Cherry, Strawberry, Medium-bodied.”

4.  CV members Rating

There was a tie amongst the three red wines all at 91 points.

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

Experts Score shown is an average of internationally recognized wine experts.

Participants ranking, average scores and wine prices:

  1. Franck Bonville Grand Cru Brut, Champagne, France                                                            Members Score:    89 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :  NA                                                                                                                       $45
  2. Foss Marai Prosecco Extra Dry, Valdobbiadene, Italy                                                      Members Score:   89 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :     NA.                                                                                                                      $35
  3. Conde de Caralt Blanc de Blancs, Cava, Spain                                                          Members Score:    88 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score :    NA                                                                                                                      $15

Best value for Money: Conde de Caralt Blanc de Blancs, Cava, Spain

See full evaluation here: 183-sparkling

5. Technical Notes 




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Tasting No. 182 – October 31, 2016 – Wines from Bordeaux


 Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Elegant Aging - Burdeaux

Elegant Aging – Bordeaux

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Orlando Mason and Jaime Estupiñán


Members: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averburg, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clarita Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jaime Jaramillo, Peter Lapera,  Alvaro López, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Lucia Redwood. John Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Raul Sanginetti, Pedro Turina, Ricardo Zavaleta, Germán Zincke.

Guests: Eliana Vergara

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. The Wines  

The  main objectives of this tasting are to appreciate the features of each wine, distinguish the features of red wines from the “right and left bank” of the wines (two are from the right Bank and one is from the left bank) and rank them in order of preference.

  1. 2014 – Denis Dubourdieu Chateau Doisy-Daene Blanc Sec, Bordeaux
  2. 2012 – Chateau Fleur Cardinale, St Emilion Gran Cru
  3. 2011 – Chateau du Gaby, Canon-Fronsac
  4. 2012 – Chateau Cantenac Brown, Margaux

3. The Menu

  1. Steamed mussels in white wine sauce
  2. Green salad
  3. Grilled entrecote and fried potatoes
  4. Assorted cheese plate
  5. Dessert/coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2014 – Denis Dubourdieu Chateau Doisy-Daene Blanc Sec, Bordeaux 

denis-dubourdieu-chateau-doisy-daene-blanc-sec-bordeaux-france-10109896The Wine: This wine is 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc.

“The Doisy-Daëne Blanc Sec 2014 has a pleasant, refined bouquet with scents of green apple intermingling with lime and granitic scents. The palate is taut and fresh with a sharp, almost but not quite “shrill” line of acidity, with a penetrating malic finish that leaves the palate feeling totally refreshed and asking for more. Very fine.” (Robert Parker)The Winery:  The 16.3 hectare Chateau Doisy Daene Sauternes vineyard, situated, close to Chateau Climens , in Barsac, has a terroir that consists of red sand, clay and limestone soils. The vineyards are planted to 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Although there is a small portion of Muscadelle planted in the vineyard as well. The vines are planted to a density of 7,000 vines per hectare. On average, the vines are 35 years of age.

Aside from their sweet, white Bordeaux wine, which is their mainstay, Chateau Doisy Daene produces two additional wines. They make a dry white wine from 100% Sauvignon Blanc, which is sold as a Bordeaux blanc. This is denoted by the term Grand Vin Sec, which appears on the label.
Read more at:http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/bordeaux-wine-producer-profiles/bordeaux/sauternesbarsac/doisy-daene/

2012 – Chateau Fleur Cardinale, St Emilion Gran Cru

fleurThe Wine. Château Fleur Cardinale is a 60-acre Grand Cru estate in St.-Emilion. Though the estate dates back several centuries, its current owners, Florence and Dominique Decoster, purchased it in 2001. The flagship wine is about 80% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and about 45,000 bottles are produced annually.  The wine displays a deep, dense-coloured hue, while on the nose there are powerful ripe fruit aromas mingling with floral notes. Feminine in style, the wines have a seductive, rich mouth-feel, underpinned by elegant, silky tannins. The finish is long and harmonious, promising very long ageing potential in bottle.

The Winery. Thanks to constant investments, both in the vineyard and in the winery, Chateau Fleur Cardinale quickly became a blue chip of the appellation. Noted for its consistent quality, Château Fleur Cardinale was promoted to the rank of Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé in 2006 and confirmed in 2012. The two properties owned by Florence and Dominique Decoster extend across a 23.5 hectare area for the Château Fleur Cardinale, and a 4 hectare area for the Château Croix Cardinale.  The two vineyards are planted on clay-limestone soil in the middle of the hillsides and they enjoy an identical harvest, notable for its 75% dominance of Merlot together with 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Read more about Fleur Cardinale Chateau vineyards and winery here: http://www.fleurcardinale.com/en/

 2011 – Chateau du Gaby, Canon-Fronsac    

gabyThe Wine:  The wine is 80 % Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.  To produce the wine of Chateau Gaby, the wine is fermented and vinified in temperature controlled, traditional shaped, cement vats. The wine is aged in 55% new, French, oak barrels for between 12 and 18 months, depending on the vintage. There is a second wine , La Roche Gaby. La Roche Gaby chose its moniker as a homage to the estates long history recalling that La Roche Gaby was the original name of the chateau and its wine. On average, 7,000 cases of Chateau Gaby are produced each vintage.

The Winery: Chateau du Gaby is a historic chateau perched on top of a sloping limestone plateau and facing south over the river Dordogne. The chateau is surrounded by its own park and 16 hectares of rolling vineyards

The winery is located on the right bank are northwest of St-Émilion and Pomerol. Canon-Fronsac is located within Fronsac. The wines are quite similar, with Canon-Fronsac having a slightly different soil than Fronsac. They are another example of good-value Bordeaux, benefiting from close proximity to the river and good soils similar to their southern neighbors. In the past few decades, winemakers have made more of an investment in making high-quality wine from the Fronsac region.

Read more at:http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/bordeaux-wine-producer-profiles/bordeaux/satellite-appellations/chateau-du-gaby-canon-fronsac-bordeaux-wine/

2012 – Chateau Cantenac Brown, Margaux  

cantenac-brown-2012The Wine: This wine is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot. James Sucklig describes the wine as “very intense for the vintage in the Medoc with blueberry, mineral and blackcurrant character. Full and chewy. Needs two or three years to soften but already there.”  Other features include earthy, tobacco, fresh, bright, crisp, cassis and dark cocoa, with a tannic, energetic, smooth finish.

The Winery: Today, the Château Cantenac Brown vineyard covers 42 hectares in the south of the Margaux appellation, mainly in the Cantenac commune. Located in the communes of Arsac, Soussans, Margaux, Cantenac and Labarde, the Margaux appellation terroirs are terraced groups of gravel, ensuring good natural drainage. Each terroir is different and produces a unique wine. The Cantenac Brown soil is typical Medoc gravel. This beautiful, brilliant quartz, formerly called “Medoc diamonds” reflects the sun’s rays onto the grapes by day and then releases the heat stored during the day to warm the grapes by night. Cabernets, in particular Cabernet Sauvignons, do well in this soil. They produce fine wines, with an intense bouquet, which are suitable for aging. Merlot, with which they are blended, provides color, richness and smoothness.

Read more about Chateau Cantenac Brown winery and wine yards here: http://www.cantenacbrown.com/en/

4.  CV members Rating

There was a tie amongst the three red wines all at 91 points.

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

Experts Score shown is an average of internationally recognized wine experts.

Participants ranking, average scores and wine prices:

  1. 2012 – Chateau Fleur Cardinale, St Emilion Gran Cru                                                                                                                         Members Score:  91 Pts.                                                                                                                  Experts Score : 89 Pts.                                                                                                                      $ 45
  2. 2011 – Chateau du Gaby, Canon-Fronsac                                                                                                                                      Members Score:   91 Pts.                                                                                                              Experts Score: 87 Pts.                                                                                                                  $25
  3. 2012 – Chateau Cantenac Brown, Margaux                                                                                                                            Members Score:   91 Pts.                                                                                                            Experts Score 90 Pts.                                                                                                                        $47
  4. 2014 – Denis Dubourdieu Chateau Doisy-Daene Blanc Sec, Bordeaux                                                                                                                                 Members Score:  89 Pts.                                                                                                       Experts Score 89 Pts.                                                                                                                  $23

The participants preference (by show of hands before disclosing the wines) was: St Emilion Chateau Fleur

Best value for Money: Chateau du Gavy Canon – Fronsac

See full evaluation here: https://clubvino1.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/tastingscoressummarybordeauxwines.pdf

5. Technical Notes 

Read more about the Bordeaux regions here: http://winefolly.com/review/a-primer-to-bordeaux-wine/

Here is a note in Spanish prepared for an earlier meeting of the CV on the theme of Bordeaux that gives a short but comprehensive overview: reunion-127-11-17-11-graves-st-emilon-medoc-sauternes



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Tasting No. 181 – September 26, 2016 – Wines from North and Central Italy


 Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


Vine yards in Tuscany

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Jorge Requena and Jairo Sanchez


Members: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averburg,  Jorge Claro, Ruth Connoly, Clarita Estrada,  Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge García-García, Peter Lapera, Alvaro López, Orlando Mason, Ítalo Mirkow, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Xavi Vila, Ricardo Zavaleta, Germán Zincke.

Guests: Jaime Jaramillo

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. The Wines  

The  main objectives of this tasting are to appreciate the features of each wine,  distinguish the varieties  of the wines and rank them in order of preference.

  1. 2015 – Blanco Vietti,  DOCG Roero Arneis, Piemonte
  2. 2011 – Massi Costasera, Amarone Clasico DOGC Amarone de la Valpolicella, Veneto
  3. 2011 – Vasco Sassetti, Brunello di Montacino DOCG, Tuscany
  4. 2011 – Pio Cesare, Barolo Vigneti Di Proprieta. Alba Italia, DOCG, Piedmonte

3. The Menu

  1. Seafood salad
  2. Assorted cheeses plate
  3. Duck and cheese risotto
  4. Grilled steak with mushroom sauce
  5. Dessert/coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2015 – Blanco Vietti, DOCG Roero Arneis, Piemonte 

vietti-roero-arneis-docg-piedmont-italy-10618940The Wine: Pale sunshine yellow color with fresh floral, citrus and melon aromas with hints of almond. An unoaked, dry, medium bodied white wine with crisp acidity, the Arneis is well-balanced, elegant wine with good complexity and a lingering finish. This winw is 100% Arneis The grapes are selected from vineyards located in the middle of the Roero area, in Santo Stefano Roero. The vineyards are planted with 4.500-5.000 plants per hectare. Beginning in mid-September, grapes from 25-year-old vines in Santo Stefano Roero are harvested, pressed and clarified. Alcoholic fermentation occurs in stainless steel autoclave at lower temperature (10-12°C, 50-53° F) to preserve some natural CO2 from the fermentation. There is no malolactic fermentation, which preserves acidity and freshness. The wine is held in stainless steel tanks until bottling.

Alcohol: 13,80%.

The Winery:  Mario Vietti, starting from 1919 made the first Vietti wines, selling most of the production in Italy. Then, in 1952, Alfredo Currado (Luciana Vietti’s husband) continued to produce high quality wines from their own vineyards and purchased grapes. Alfredo was one of the first to select and vinify grapes from single vineyards (such as Brunate, Rocche and Villero). This was a radical concept at the time, but today virtually every vintner making Barolo and Barbaresco wines offers “single vineyard” or “cru-designated” wines.  Alfredo is also called the “father of Arneis” as in 1967 he invested a lot of time to rediscover and understand this nearly-lost variety. Today Arneis is the most famous white wine from Roero area, north of Barolo. Setting such a fine example with Arneis, even fellow vintners as far away those on the west coast of the United States now are cultivating and producing Arneis!

In 1970 Alfredo and Luciana, through their friendship and support to some local artists, started to update their wine labels.  Artists such as Gianni Gallo, Eso Peluzzi, Pietro Cascella, Mino Maccari, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Claudio Bonichi, Valerio Miroglio, Pierflavio Gallina, Gioxe de Micheli, have had their works displayed to a much wider audience via the bottles of Vietti wines. The whole collection of artist labels has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art of New York.

Read more about Vietti Winery and see the collection of labels here: http://www.vietti.com/en/

 2011 – Massi Costasera, Amarone Clasico ,DOGC, Amarone de la Valpolicella, Veneto

masi-costasera-amarone-della-valpolicella-classico-docg-italy-10091106The Wine. Deep ruby red color. It has aromas of baked fruit, plums and cherries. It has a fruity taste, with notes of coffee and cocoa. Very well balanced. The Valpolicella Blend is based on three indigenous red-wine grape varieties grown in the Veneto region in Italy’s northeast. Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara are the trio primarily involved in the Valpolicella, although it could easily be argued that the production method is equally as important – the three varieties are semi-dried to make Amarone, possibly their most famous incarnation.  (See Amoren winemaking process below in the Technival Note).

Alcohol: 15%

The Winery. In Valpolicella Classica Hills Costasera, the slopes that face the sunset are traditionally considered the best for making Amarone. Here, where the daylight lasts longest, the vines that look over Lake Garda benefit from its reflected light and from its milder climate. The vineyards that make Amarone Costasera and Amarone Riserva di Costasera are located in historic sites in the districts of Marano, Negrar, Sant’Ambrogio and San Pietro in Cariano. Loose red earth on Eocene limestone and compact red earth on basalt and the different types of soil bring out the quality of characteristics of the great wines made here. Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara, the traditional grapes for the area, are trained in the customary fashion for the Valpolicella Classica region: the pergola Veronese system is used for vineyards high in the hills and Guyot for the lower foothill sites.

Le Venezie (the Venetian regions) are the location for an acknowledged and internationally famous thousand-year-old way of life. The history of Masi is the history of a family and its vineyards in Verona, part of the Veneto. The name itself derives from the Vaio dei Masi, the small valley purchased at the end of the XVIII century by the Boscaini family, still its owners today. Masi now has lands in the best terroir sites of the Venetian regions with vineyards and historic estates. Since 1973, Masi has collaborated with the Conti Serego Alighieri family, descendants of the poet Dante, on their estates in Valpolicella. More recently, a collaboration has been launched with the Conti Bossi Fedrigotti family, who have always made wine with passion and skill in Trentino.

Read more about Masi vineyards and winery here: http://www.masi.it/eng/venetian_values/history

 2011 – Vasco Sassetti ,Brunello di Montacino, DOCG,Tuscany    

vasco%20sassetti%20brunelloThe Wine:  Deep ruby red color, with paint still young. Aromas characterized by sensory spicy notes reminiscent of jam berries, marked hints of tobacco and pleasant hints of vanilla. It has a great structure. The full body wraps a considerable amount of mature tannins, which are refined gradually with the stay in the bottle making the much more pleasant taste. Long and warm. Sangiovese 100%.

Fermentation on the skins for a period of 15-18 days at a controlled temperature below 28 C in stainless steel tanks of 100 hl, specially designed to gently extract color and tannins. Aged 4 years, 3 of which in oak casks of 30 hl capacity and subsequent aging in bottle for at least 6 months in temperature controlled rooms.

Alcohol: 14.5%

The Winery: There is little information on the web about this winery.  The following paragraphs are from wine.com webpage.

“For over three generations, the Sassetti family has been producing wine in Montalcino. The “Podere Pertimali” with its 16 hectares of vineyards is nestled on a slope in the Montosoli hill, north of Montalcino, one of the most favorable terroirs for Sangiovese in the area. Maintaining the family tradition, Livio has renovated and extended the vineyards, retaining the genetic material of the original vines and preserving their primigenial characteristics.In 1967, Livio is among the founders of Consorzio del Brunello di Montalcino. In 1968, Livio built a terracotta wall in his cellar, to keep the old vintages of the wines produced by his family. Today, this collection counts over 1000 bottles, among which stands out the ‘grandmother’ of the current production, a bottle dated 1915!.  In 1999 The Sassetti family purchased a property in the Tuscan Maremma, La Querciolina. within the DOC Montecucco. Thanks to their passion and experience, untended fields turned into vineyards able to produce Sangiovese and Ciliegiolo of great quality.Today, both wineries are managed by Lorenzo Sassetti, Livio’s son, who is focused in continuing his family’s winemaking tradition.”

2011 – Pio Cesare, Barolo Vigneti Di Proprieta. Alba Italia, DOCG, Piedmonte  

pio-cesare-3The Wine: A classic Barolo. Excellent structure and harmony, mild tannins and balanced fruit. It is immediately approachable, but it has a very long ageing potential.  Nebbiolo is sourced from family owned vineyards in Serralunga d’Alba (Ornato), Grinzane Cavour (Gustava), La Morra (Roncaglie), Barolo -Novello (Ravera). The balance of the grapes comes from other exclusive vineyards owned by “growers” who have been providing grapes to the Pio Family for generations.  The vinification is made in stainless steel tanks. Skin contact for about 20 days. The aging takes place in mid toasted French oak for 3 years: 70% in 20 to 50 hectoliters casks; 30% in barriques.

Alcohol: 14.5%

The Winery:  The Pio Cesare winery was founded in 1881 by our great-grandfather Cesare Pio. He was one of the very first wine producers to believe in the great potential and quality of Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera and in the other great wines of Piemonte. Cesare Pio in the second portion of 1800s, was among the very first winemakers to produce these wines with a philosophy that was dedicated to the terroir and the strictest quality of the wine.  For five generations, the Pio Cesare family has been producing traditional Piemontese wines in its ancient cellars, located in the centre of the town of Alba.

Pio Cesare ownes more than 50 hectares (130 acres) of vineyards, located in the most highly rated and better exposed areas. Within the Barolo region, the “Ornato” Estate and the “Colombaro” Vineyard (in Serralunga d’Alba), the “Gustava” Estate (in Grinzane Cavour), the “Roncaglie” (in la Morra) and “Ravera” (in Barolo-Novello). Within the Barbaresco territory, the “Il Bricco” Estate and the “San Stefanetto” Vineyards in Treiso. Other selected vineyards are located in communes of Diano d’Alba, Sinio and Trezzo Tinella. In addition to his own vineyards, Pio Cesare has fostered long term relationships with growers for several generations and manages all aspects of viticultures in these vineyards. This growers have been selling grapes to the family for generations.

Read more about Pio Cesare winery and wine yards here: http://piocesare.it/home.htm

 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 – Massi Costasera, Amarone Clasico                                                       Members Score:  92 Pts.                                                                                                       Experts Score WS 92 Pts.                                                                                                                  $ 48
  2. 2011 – Vasco Sassetti, Brunello di Montacino                                                   Members Score:   91 Pts.                                                                                                     Experts Score RP 88 Pts.                                                                                                                $ 34
  3. 2015 – Blanco Vietti                                                                                                 Members Score:   90 Pts.                                                                                                            Experts Score NA.                                                                                                                         $24
  4. 2011 – Pio Cesare, Barolo Vigneti Di Proprieta.                                             Members Score:  89 Pts.                                                                                                       Experts Score RP 92 Pts.                                                                                                            $59

The participants preference (by show of hands before disclosing the wines) was: 2011 – Massi Costasera, Amarone Clasico

Best value for Money: 2011 – Vasco Sassetti, Brunello di Montacino

5. Technical Notes 

Compiled by Jairo Sanchez from Wine Searcher, Wikipedia and Wine Folly

Italy has a rich and diverse wine heritage dating back more than two thousand years. Famous for its bewildering diversity of both grape varieties and wine styles, Italy is also significant for the sheer volume of wine it produces: just over 40 million hL in 2012, from 800,000 ha. of vineyards. When both quality and quantity are taken into consideration, The most significant wine regions in Italy are Tuscany, Piedmont and Veneto.

Each region has its flagship wine styles. Some are famous because they are produced in large volumes and can be found all over the world, others because of their consistently high quality. Tuscany is known for its Chianti, of course, but among devoted wine aficionados its Brunello and Vino Nobile are even more highly regarded. Likewise, Piedmont’s most famous wine is now Moscato d’Asti but the region is most respected for its Barolo and Barbaresco. Veneto’s vast output of Prosecco, Soave and varietal Pinot Grigio does little to boost its reputation as a fine wine region, and yet it produces one of the world’s richest, finest wines: Amarone della Valpolicella.

Italy’s vineyards are home to more than 2000 grape varieties, many of which are on the brink of extinction. The safest and best-known Italian grapes are Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Montepulciano and Pinot Grigio.  These varieties cover many thousands of acres of vineyard, and can be found in various regions. At the other end of the scale are such little-known rarities as Centesimino and Dorona, which are found in tiny numbers in just one or two places.

All of Italy’s grape varieties, famous or not, face serious competition from better-known French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. These internationally popular grapes are being planted in ever-increasing numbers all over Italy, and with high success rates. Some of Italy’s finest and most expensive wines are made from these “foreign” varieties. An obvious example is the Super Tuscan Sassicaia from Bolgheri, which is a predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon with a hint of Cabernet Franc.

Vineyards in Italy are planted anywhere from sea-level in eastern Emilia-Romagna to around 1300m in the alpine Aosta Valley. Latitude is also a key factor here; at 46°N, the northern Alto Adige region lies a full 11 degrees north of Pantelleria, leaving it some 680 miles further from the warmth of the equator.

Wine Clasification

The Italian system of wine classification and labeling uses a four-tier quality hierarchy made up of more than 500 DOCG, DOC and IGT titles. Italy is divided into 20 administrative regions, all of which produce wine to some extent, and all of which contain various wine regions. The four official tiers of Italian wine classification:

  • DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) is the highest classification for Italian wines. It denotes controlled production methods and guaranteed wine quality. There are strict rules governing the production of DOCG wines, most obviously the permitted grape varieties, yield limits, grape ripeness, winemaking procedures and barrel/bottle maturation. Every DOCG wine is subject to official tasting procedures. To prevent counterfeiting, the bottles have a numbered government seal across the neck.
  • DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) is the main tier of Italian wine classification, and covers almost every traditional Italian wine style. There are around 330 individual DOC titles, each with a set of laws governing its viticultural zone, permitted grape varieties and wine style. Those, which show consistently high quality, earn promotion to DOCG status.
  • IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) was introduced in 1992, to allow a certain level of freedom to Italy’s winemakers. Prior to 1992, many wines failed to qualify for DOC or DOCG status – not because they were of low quality, but because they were made from grape varieties (or blends) not sanctioned under DOCG laws. The IGT classification focuses on the region of origin, rather than grape varieties or wine styles.
  • Vino da Tavola: It represents the most basic level of Italian wine. The Vino da Tavola category held a certain prestige in the 1970s and 1980s, thanks to experimental winemakers who produced top-quality (but unorthodox) wines under the title. This situation has gradually diminished, however, since the introduction of the IGT category with its more flexible production conditions, and Vino da Tavola has steadily returned to its original status as the lowest rung on Italy’s wine quality ladder.

 Super Tuscans

This useful but unofficial term emerged in the 1970s, to describe a particular set of high-quality Tuscan wines, which were precluded from claiming DOC or DOCG status because they broke traditional Italian winemaking norms (foreign grape varieties were used, and the wines were often matured in small, new oak barrels). Several of these wines earned global recognition and astronomical price tags – hence ‘Super Tuscan’. Originally these wines had to be labeled as Vino da Tavola because they contravened the stringent, tradition-focused DOC laws.

Italian wine regions

Northern Italy Wine Regions

Northern Italy Wine Regions

Italy’s twenty wine regions correspond to the twenty administrative regions. Understanding of Italian wine becomes clearer with an understanding of the differences between each region; their cuisines reflect their indigenous wines, and vice versa. The 73 DOCG wines are located in 15 different regions but most of them are concentrated in Piedmont, Veneto and Tuscany. Among these are appellations appreciated and sought after by wine lovers around the world: Barolo, Barbaresco, and Brunello di Montalcino (colloquially known as the “Killer B’s”). Other notable wines that in the latest years gain much attention in the international markets and among specialists are: Amarone della Valpolicella, Prosecco di Conegliano- Valdobbiadene, Taurasi from Campania, Franciacorta sparkling wines from Lombardy; evergreen wines are Chianti and Soave, while new wines from the Centre and South of Italy are quickly gaining recognition: Verdicchio, Sagrantino, Primitivo, Nero D’Avola among others. The Friuli-Venezia Giulia is world-famous for the quality of her white wines, like Pinot Grigio. Special sweet wines like Passitos and Moscatos, made in different regions, are also famous since old time.

Italian grape varieties

Italy’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has documented over 350 grapes and granted them “authorized” status. There are more than 500 other documented varieties in circulation as well. The following is a description of the wine and grape’s varieties to be tasted.

The Wines and Grapes in the tasting

Arneis is a white Italian wine grape variety originating from Piedmont, Italy. It is most commonly found in the hills of the Roero, northwest of Alba, where it is part of the white DOCG wines of Roero. It can also be used to produce DOC wines in Langhe. Arneis is regarded as a somewhat difficult variety to grow. It is a crisp and floral varietal, and offers notes of pears and apricots. Arneis has been grown for centuries in the region. White wine made from the Arneis grape tend to be dry and full body. It was for some time added to the Nebbiolo wines of the region to soften their harsh tannins.  This earned Arneis the nickname Barolo Bianco or white Barolo.

Barolo is a red DOCG wine produced in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. It is made from the Nebbiolo grape and is often described as one of Italy’s greatest wines. The zone of production extends into the communes of Barolo, Castiglione Falletto, Serralunga d’Alba and parts of the communes of Cherasco, Diano d’Alba, Grinzane Cavour, La Morra, Monforte d’Alba, Novello, Roddi, Verduno, all in the province of Cuneo, south-west of Alba. Barolo is often described as having the aromas of tar and roses, and the wines are noted for their ability to age and usually take on a rust red tinge as they mature. Barolo needs to be aged for at least 38 months after the harvest before release, of which at least 18 months must be in wood. When subjected to aging of at least five years before release, the wine can be labeled a Riserva. Barolo, like most Nebbiolo based wines, is known for its light color and lack of opacity.  Pairing: A big, powerful, tannic wine, Barolo needs to be matched with foods of similar weight. In Piedmont, the wines are often paired with meat dishes, heavy pastas and rich risottos; the tannins bind to the food proteins and come across as softer.

Amarone della Valpolicella, usually known as Amarone, is a typically rich Italian dry red wine made from the partially-dried grapes of the Corvina (45–95%, of which up to 50% could be substituted with Corvinone), Rondinella (5–30%) and other approved red grape varieties (up to 25%). Valpolicella is in the province of Verona, within the large Veneto region near Venice. On December 2009, Amarone and Recioto della Valpolicella were promoted to (DOCG). In Italian, the name Amarone literally means “the Great Bitter”; originally, this was to distinguish it from the Recioto produced in the same region, which is sweeter in taste.

Process:Grapes are harvested ripe in the first two weeks of October, by carefully choosing bunches having fruits not too close to each other, to let the air flow. Grapes are allowed to dry, traditionally on straw mats. This process is called appassimento or rasinate . This concentrates the remaining sugars and flavours. The pomace left over from pressing off the Amarone is used in the production of Ripasso Valpolicellas.  Modern Amarone is produced in special drying chambers under controlled conditions. This approach minimizes the amount of handling of the grapes and helps prevent the onset of Botrytis cinerea. Typically, the length of the drying process is 120 days, but varies according to producer and the quality of the harvest. Following the drying process that is completed during the end of January or beginning of February, the grapes are crushed and go through a dry, low temperature fermentation process that may last up to 30 or 50 days. After fermentation, the wine is aged in barriques made of either French, Slovenian, or Slavonian oak.

If fermentation is stopped early, the resulting wine will contain residual sugar (more than 4 grams of sugar per litre) and produce a sweeter wine known as Recioto della Valpolicella. Recioto was the traditional wine produced according to this method, and originally, Amarone was Recioto wines that had fermented for too long. Unlike Amarone, Recioto della Valpolicella may be used to produce a sparkling wine. Ripasso is an Italian wine produced when the partially-aged Valpolicella is contacted with the pomace of the Amarone. Typically, this will take place in the spring following the harvest. The resulting wine is more tannic, with a deeper color, and having more alcohol and more extract.

Brunello di Montalcino is a red Italian wine produced in the vineyards surrounding the town of Montalcino located about 80 km south of Florence in the Tuscany wine region. Brunello, a diminutive of bruno, which means brown, is the name that was given locally to what was believed to be an individual grape variety grown in Montalcino. Siena’s Amphelographic Commission determined, after a few years of controlled experiments, that Sangiovese and Brunello were the same grape variety and that the former should be its designated name. In Montalcino the name Brunello evolved into the designation of the wine produced with 100% Sangiovese. In 1980, Brunello di Montalcino was awarded the first DOCG designation and today is one of Italy’s best-known and most expensive wines.

Traditionally, the wine goes through an extended maceration period where color and flavor are extracted from the skins. Following fermentation the wine is then aged in oak. Traditionally, the wines are aged 3 years or more “in botte“—large Slavonian oak casks that impart little oak flavor and generally produce more austere wines. Some winemakers will use small French barrique which impart a more pronounced vanilla oak flavor. There is a middle ground where the wine is aged in small barrique for a short time and then spends a longer sojourn in the traditional botte. Most producers will separate their production between a normale and riserva bottling. The normale bottles are released on the market 50 months after harvest and the riserva are released a year afterward. The current aging requirements were established in 1998 and dictate that Brunellos are to be aged in oak for 2 years and at least 4 months in a bottle before release.

Sangiovese is also the backbone in many of the acclaimed, modern-styled “Super-Tuscans”, where it is blended with Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc) and typically aged in French oak barrels, resulting in a wine primed for the international market in the style of a typical California cabernet: oaky, high-alcohol, and a ripe, fruit-forward profile.



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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: 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:  JS 90 Pts. 
  • CV Members Rating:  88 Pts.
  • Price: $18

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. Lopez de Heredia vineyards and winery here: http://www.lopezdeheredia.com/indexgb.html

  • Experts Rating: 90 Pts avg.
  • CV Members Rating:  87 Pts.
  • Price: $25

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

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:  JS 94 Pts.
  • CV Members Rating: 92 Pts.
  • Price: $48

 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 – Rioja – LAN – Limited Edition  92 Pts. – $48
  2. 2008 – Rioja – Vivanco Reserva  90Pts. – $25
  3. 2015 –  Ameztoi  Getariako Txakolina Rosé 88 Pts. – $18
  4. 2007 – Rioja – R. Lopez Heredia Crianza – Viña Cubillo 87Pts. – $18

Best value for Money: 2008 – Rioja – Vivanco Reserva 

See full evaluation here: summary-of-tasting-scores-180rioja

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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