Tasting No. 195– January 29, 2018 – Less Known Italian Reds

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Clara Estrada and Jorge García- García

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jorge Claro, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Alberto Gomez, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Ricardo Santiago, Xavi Vila, Ricardo Zavaleta, Germán Zincke.

Guests: Patricia García, Aberra Zerabruk

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to explore and assess less known red wines for Italy It also includes a white form Sicily made of the Fiano variety.

These are the wines:

  1. 2016 Planeta – Cometa, Fiano, Menfi, Sicily
  2. 2013 Morgante Nero D’Avola, Don Antonio, Sicily
  3. 2013 Agricola Punica, Barrua, Red Blend, Sardinia 
  4. 2014 Odoardi – Scavigna Vigna Garrone, Calabria

3. The Menu

  1. Capri Salad
  2. Fried Fresh Calamari and Zucchini
  3. Agnolotti with Fresh Spinach
  4. Veal Scallopine with Mushrooms Sauce, Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2016 Planeta – Cometa, Fiano, Menfi, Sicily

The Wine: Fiano is a high-quality, white-wine grape variety used widely in southern Italy, particularly in Campania. Used mainly as a varietal wine, Fiano is nutty and textured with floral and honeyed notes, spice and tropical fruit flavors like pineapple. Its main incarnation is as Fiano di Avellino DOCG wine.

Intense and full of character, with integrated aromatic notes of citrus and tropical fruit, white peach, pink grapefruit and wisteria. On the palate it has plenty of character with elegantly mineral elements. The acidity is well integrated with the fruit, making for a harmonious whole which is without a doubt one of the finest examples of this variety.

The Winery:  (Taken from WineSearcher. com) Planeta is a wine producer with vineyards all over Sicily. It produces a range of high-end wines across the IGT level as well as DOCG wines from select appellations. It was founded by cousins Alessio and Santi Planeta with their uncle Diego, who originally owned the Settesoli wine cooperative. At Planeta, there are six different wine-producing estates spread across the island, producing wines from local grapes Fiano and Nero d’Avola, as well as international varieties like Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah

Read more at: https://planeta.it/en/wine/cometa-en/

  •  2013 Morgante Nero D’Avola, Don Antonio, Sicily

    The Wine: (Wine Spectator) This Nero d’Avola suggests mature black-skinned berry, carob and toast on the nose. Concentrated and chewy on the palate, it offers ripe black cherry, raspberry jam, clove and cocoa flavors framed by velvety, polished tannins. Thanks to its fruit richness, it’s not overwhelmed by the warmth of evident alcohol. Enjoy through 2021.

    Winery Notes: Don Antonio is a fine Nero d’Avola, with a deep purple colour suggesting an aroma of voluptuous ripe cherries, rose, sweet spices, liquorice and cocoa. It is a silky red wine but with an imposing structure enhancing a blend of persuasive and refined tannins. Don Antonio is a perfect match for matured cheeses, roasted red meat and braised wild game.

    Nero d’Avola (also known as Calabrese) is the most important and widely planted red wine grape variety in Sicily. Vast volumes of Nero d’Avola are produced on the island every year, and have been for centuries. The dark-skinned grape is of great historical importance to Sicily and takes its present-day name from the town of Avola on the island’s southeast coast. The area was a hotbed of trade and population movement during the Middle Ages and Nero d’Avola was frequently used to add color and body to lesser wines in mainland Italy. Nero d’Avola typically has high tannins, medium acid and a strong body. However, it can also be very smooth if grown at higher elevations where cooler temperatures restrict the alcohol levels. It thrives on the eastern part of Sicily and is being trialed in Australia and California. Because of its generous color, Nero d’Avola is sometimes produced as rosé wine. (Read more at : https://www.wine-searcher.com/grape-323-nero-d-avola)

    This variety of vine is grown almost exclusively in Sicily, a supposition is that the name Calarvisi comes from Calauria, a Greek island, and that it was imported during the Hellenic colonization in Sicily

    The Winery:  The Morgante Company is situated in Grotte, a small town in the province of Agrigento, found about 21 kilometres from the coast and the Valley of the Temples. The various vines are scattered amongst a charming landscape interspersed with natural hills and small valleys placed at different altitudes varying from 350 to 550 metres above sea level. Thanks to the favouring Mediterranean climatic conditions, the terroir is ideal for viticulture, with a temperature ranging between the day and the night from 10-15 °C, and the particular clayey and calcareous soil. The terroir is fascinating and captivating, not only for its natural scenery, its colours and the peace it diffuses, but also for the history and the tradition that distinguish it.

    Read more at: http://www.morgantevini.it/

    2013 Agricola Punica, Barrua Isola de Nuraghi, Red Blend, Sardinia

    The Wine:Winemaker Notes: With a deep violet color, the wine displays clean; on the nose elegant aromas of spices, wild herbs and mature red fruits. On the palate, the wine is soft and elegant, a unique blend of sage, myrtle, rosemary, vanilla flavors and fine tannins. Notes of red fruits, pepper and liquorice add an interesting spiciness before a harmonious and persistent finish.

    Wine Spectator: Sleek and mouthwatering, this harmonious red features creamy tannins and layers of flavor, with black currant pâte de fruit, dried marjoram and smoky mineral notes accented by abundant ground white pepper, star anise and graphite details that play out on the finish. Carignano, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Drink now through 2025.

    Blend: 85% Carignano, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot.


    The Winery: (Taken from Wine-Searcher.com) Agricola Punica is a Sardinian estate formed as a joint venture between Sardinian co-operative Cantina di Santadi and Tenuta San Guido, the makers of one of Italy’s most famous wines, Sassacaia. It makes two key wines based on the Carignano grape – Barrua and Montessu.The company was started in 2002, after noted Italian winemaker Giacomo Tachis became interested in Sardinia and persuaded Sassacaia’s winemaker, Sebastiano Rosa, to buy land there. In conjunction with Santadi, Rosa bought two estates, Barrua and Narcao, located in the southwest of the island. The estates fall within the Carignano del Sulcis DOC zone, although the wines are made under the Isola dei Nuraghi IGT to give more options when it comes to blending.

    Barrua is Punica’s flagship wine, and is made from 85 percent Carignano, with a little Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, 30 percent new. Punica’s other red wine, Montessu, is also Carignano-dominant, but is blended with higher percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. The single white wine, Samas, is a blend of Vermentino and Chardonnay. It is fermented in stainless steel and aged in small concrete vats.

    In 2002, Agripunica purchased a 370 acres estate divided betewwn two sites: Barrua and Narcao, located in the soutwest region of Sardinia, in the area known as Basso Sulcis. Even though the vineyards are situated in the DOC Carignano Del Sulcis area, the wine falls under the I.G.T. Appelation of Isola dei Nuraghi, a name referencing the ancient stone buildings built by the Nuragic civilization which shaped the island’s development from the Neolithic age until 238 B.C. when Sardinia was brought under the Roman Empire.Agripunica vineyards lie inland from the coast and are planted to 65 hectares counter espalier trained vines, comprising Carignano, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah for the reds, while further 5 hecatares are currently planted to Vermentino and Chardonnay white grapes, for an overall of 70 hecatares.

    The Southwest corner of Sardinia is a near perfect environment for the hot climate traits of the Carignano vine. Winters are mild and summers are hot and dry, with temperatures sometimes stoked by the fierce Scirocco African winds blowing across the Sardinian Sea, among the hottest in Italy. An extraordinary average of seven hours of sunlight daily anable the fruit to reach a level of ripeness such that polymerization of the tannins begins within the berry while it is still on the vine. “It is the amount of light that makes this the perfect region of Carignano based wines! – The sun provides heat and light which causes grapes to mature very well. The Cabernet and Merlot mature much faster than they would in Bordeaux for example; on top of that, the wonderful influence from the sea regulates the extreme summer heat and stabilizes the climate”, recounts Giacomo Tachis.

    Read more at: http://www.agripunica.it/en/agripunica.html

     2014 Odoardi – Scavigna Vigna Garrone, Calabria

    The Wine: (WA) Odoardi’s 2004 Vigna Garrone is fleshy and vibrant in its perfumed violets, black cherries, jammy blackberries, earthiness and sweet toasted oak. It offers superb balance and poise, with elegant, refined tannins that round out the close. Today it comes across as youthful and powerful but it should settle down in another year or two. This blend of 80% Gaglioppo, 10% Nerello Capuccio, 5% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot spent 14 months in French oak. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2019. (Wine Advocate Review)

    (WS) Inviting from nose to finish, this dense red sports layers of sun-dried wild berry, plum paste and grilled fig notes wound with layers of espresso bean, rosemary and brick dust on the long, rustic finish. Gaglioppo, Nerello Cappuccio, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Drink now through 2020. 400 cases made.

    Gaglioppo is a southern Italian grape variety best known for producing soft red wines from the mountainous Ciro DOC in Calabria. The variety is the main grape in this part of Italy and has been used in the region for centuries. It produces varietal red wine that is typified by a range of crushed berry flavors, often accented by cherry and spicy secondary notes.

    The origins of Gaglioppo are unclear. The traditional theory is that the variety arrived with Aglianico at the time of the ancient Greeks. However, recent DNA testing suggests that it is more likely to be one of the many descendents of Sangiovese. A third theory is that both are true but that it is the result of a cross-pollination between Sangiovese and an unknown variety from Greece. Read More at: https://www.wine-searcher.com/grape-179-gaglioppo

    The Winery: (Taken from Wine Searcher) Cantina Odoardi is an estate situated in Calabria in southern Italy. The Odoardi family is thought to have arrived in this region in 1480, and today Gregorio Odoardi and Barbara Spalletta cultivate vines on the 270-hectare (670-acre) family-owned estate. Production is focused on the wines under the Scavigna and Savuto DOCregional titles, as well as several Calabria IGT-classified wines. The estate itself stretches from the banks of the Savuto river to the town of Falerna, with the vineyards ranging in altitude as high as 2000ft (610m) above sea level. Odoardi’s Savuto vineyard is located at the mouth of the Savuto river and is the source of its two Savuto rosso wines. These are made from a blend of typical Calabrian grape varieties, including Gaglioppo, Aglianico, Magliocco Canino, Greco Nero and Nerello Cappuccio, and are fermented and then aged for four months in stainless steel tanks.

    Read more at: http://www.cantineodoardi.it/home.do?lang=en

    4.  CV Members Rating

    View full evaluation here:Tasting summary 195

Best Rated: 2016 Planeta – Cometa, Fiano, Menfi, Sicily

Best Buy: 2016 Planeta – Cometa, Fiano, Menfi, Sicily


5. Technical Notes 

Jairo Sanchez compiled a more detailed description of the wines, varieties and regions of origin included in this tasting.  The sources are Wine Folly, Wine-Searcher and Wikipedia.

Less commom reds Italy -Tasting 195



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Tasting No. 194 – December 6, 2017 – Sparkling Wines

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

 1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Jaime Jaramillo, Xavi Vila

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Jaramillo, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sánchez, Ricardo Santiago, Xavi Vila, Ricardo Zavaleta, Germán Zincke.

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to evaluate four different styles of sparkling wines, contrast their characteristics and rank them in order of preference.  The Presenters thought that it would be interesting to test how sparkling wines perform as the chosen wine for a full meal, especially one conceived as a holiday gathering with family or friends. It’s not that usual having only sparkling wine for dining, although this is a growing trend in some areas, and well consolidated in others like Catalonia.

These are the wines:

  1. Louis Bouillot – Blanc de Noirs, Brut – Crémant de Bourgogne, Cotes de Nuits St. Georges
  2. Albrecht Tradition – Blanc de Blancs, Brut – Crémant d’Alsace
  3. La Marca Prosecco – D.O.C. Italy
  4. Juvé y Camps Cinta Púrpura – Reserva, Brut – Cava – Penedés -Catalonia

3. The Menu

  1. Arugula and goat cheese salad
  2. Lobster soup
  3. Mushroom ravioli with cream
  4. Grilled salmon with vegetables
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

Louis Bouillot – Blanc de Noirs, Brut – Crémant de Bourgogne, Cotes de Nuits St. Georges

The Wine: The blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay gives a wine with weight and richness as well as a tight, mineral character. The wine is full in the mouth with its creamy mousse and fine pear and citrus fruits. A wine for food rather than apéritif.

Perle de Nuit has the characteristic pale mother-of-pearl hue of blanc de noirs sparkling wine. The nose is expansive, with delicate notes of small red berries evolving towards fruit in eau-de-vie. In the mouth, it’s all about the powerful, vinous structure provided by the Pinot Noir. Rich and balanced, it has a sustained fruity finish.

Perle de Nuit is made exclusively from the white juice of black grapes fro the north of Burgundy, mainly from vineyards in the Yonne, Couchois, Châtillonnais, and Côte d’Or areas. The Pinot Noir provides structure, while the Gamay packs the fruity punch. Gentle pneumatic pressing is carried out immediately after harvesting to conserve the maximum aromas. Ageing for 18 months allows Perle de Nuit to express all its power and elegance.

The Winery: Crémant de Bourgogne has been an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée since 1975. It covers a particularly large territory that stretches from the north of Burgundy to the south, covering the Chablis region, the Châtillonnais, the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune, the Côte Chalonnaise, the Côte Mâconnaise, and into the Beaujolais. Such diversity means that a wide range of different base wines can be created that reflect their terroir. This allows for the creation of subtle blends to achieve the perfect balance for each cuvée and to bring out the qualities of each varietal: Pinot Noir for fruit, structure and vinosity; Chardonnay for freshness and elegance; Gamay for tastiness; and Aligoté for vivacity. In fact it was in Rully, back in 1826 that the Petiot brothers made the first sparkling wines called ‘Fleur de Champagne’. It was a lightening success and other producers soon followed. Louis Bouillot has been producing the bubbly since 1877 in Nuits-St-Georges.

Read more at: http://www.louis-bouillot.com/en/

 Albrecht Tradition – Blanc de Blancs, Brut – Crémant d’Alsace

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Lucien Albrecht, Jean’s father, pioneered Crémant production in 1971 and helped gain an Appellation Contrôlêe for the wine and for Alsace. The wines vinified by the classic Champagne Method from 100% free run juice, are the best sparkling wines in France outside of Champagne itself. Recently Maison Lucien Albrecht was awarded four gold medals at a comprehensive National I.N.A.O. tasting of all sparkling wines in France, giving the firm more gold medals than any other Crémant producer in France. This Blanc de Blancs is made from 100% Pinot Blanc. The Blanc de Blancs is distinguished by a fine and elegant bead, a beautiful straw color; a light, delicate palate. It is delicious at any time of the day and with many foods.

This is a nice, soft and clean sparkling wine.  Up front it has a slightly floral aroma, along with apple, fig and a touch of citrus.  On the palate it’s creamy-smooth and delicious.  It has a nice crisp apple flavor and a perfect level of acidity. Bubble-wise, it’s medium fizzy.  The finish is a little on the short side, but that just means you won’t want to wait to take another sip of this superb sparkler.

The Winery:  The Maison Lucien Albrecht’s origins can be traced back to 1698, when Balthazar Albrecht settles in Orschwihr, to the south of Colmar (Haut-Rhin – Alsace), a small Alsatian village in an ideal location for growing vines. Eight generations continue to work the soils of this unique terroir with the same tenacity and passion, creating the reputation and authentic character of Alsace wines which are enjoyed and renowned worldwide. The Lucien Albrecht vineyards are mainly situated in Orschwihr, a wine-growing village in southern Alsace. From 728, Orschwihr is known under the name of Otalesvilare.

The exceptional sunshine on this hill favours the growth of rare flora and the proliferation of exclusive fauna, which give this wine-growing terroir an almost Mediterranean-type climate that is very hot and thus supports rare, unique and very precocious wildlife. The presence of numerous rare and medicinal plants has attracted herbalists and healers from time immemorial. It should be noted that the hill is now a protected area.  The soils of this very dry and calcareous type of terroir, which are also occasionally clayey and heavy, play a major role in defining the authentic character of Lucien Albrecht wines.

Read more at: https://www.lucien-albrecht.com/

 La Marca Prosecco – D.O.C. Italy

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: This sparkling wine is a pale, golden straw in color. Bubbles are full textured and persistent. On the nose the wine brings fresh citrus with hints of honey and white flowers. The flavor is fresh and clean, with ripe citrus, lemon, green apple, and touches of grapefruit, minerality, and some toast. The finish is light, refreshing, and crisp.

Prosecco is made of Glera grapes, formerly known also as prosecco. Glera, a white grape that has been grown in the Veneto and Friuli regions for hundreds of years. It’s a grape with high acidity, which makes it perfect for bubbly. Other grape varieties may be include in a prosecco, up to a maximum of 15% of the total, such as Verdiso, Bianchetta, Trevigiana, Perera, Glera Lunga, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir. Prosecco can be lightly sparkling (frizzante) or fully sparkling (spumante) and can also vary based on the amount of residual sugar in the wine. While prosecco is not a sweet wine it can be categorized depending on the amount of residual sugar left and, therefore, the degree of dryness. From driest to sweetest we will find Brut, Extra Dry, Dry and Demi-Sec.

Prosecco, the wine is made using what is known as the Charmat or Martinotti method. Looking for a faster and less expensive way to create quality sparkling wine, Frenchman Eugene Charmat and, separately, Federico Martinotti in Italy, discovered what is now known as the Charmat-Martinotti method. In this method, the wine is transferred from its first fermentation vat to a large sealed pressurized tank where it undergoes secondary fermentation to create the carbonation. Then the carbonated wine is bottled and shipped to market.

The La Marca comes from Italy’s lush village of Prosecco, near Trieste, where the grape and wine originated. Prosecco Denomination of Origin is produced in nine provinces spanning the Veneto and Friuli, Venezia and Guilia areas.

The Winery: La Marca came into being in 1968 from the intuition of a noteworthy group of winegrowers who felt the need to introduce the quality of their local wines to the world. They came together to pool their energies and experience to protect and represent their wines with greater strength.

It was of the utmost importance to create a technical and commercial organization able to support the winegrowers in growing grapes and serve as a commercial platform to promote awareness of the area’s quality wines. The company continued to grow year after year working with high levels of professionalism on the quality, the image and typical characteristics of the territory.

La Marca is today a wine producing company representing the products of 9 cooperative wineries in the Province of Treviso with over 5000 winegrowers on vineyards extending over approximately 10.000 hectares. The majority of these lands is cultivated with Glera, named after the historic variety from which Prosecco is obtained.

The company is named for its place of origin, La Marca Trevigiana (March of Treviso), located in the heart of the Province of Treviso, between the plains and hills of the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Doc and DOCG areas (Controlled Designation of Origin and Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin), where its grapes are grown.

Know-how handed down through the years, experience and winegrowing professionalism, sectorial expertise and dynamic commercial strategies are the keystones that make it one of the most representative and visible companies in the Prosecco world. In 2009 the Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene region was promoted to DOCG status and the Italian authorities decided that Prosecco should only be used as a geographical indication. Prosecco may only be produced in the Prosecco DOC region and two Prosecco DOCG areas (Conegliano Valdobbiadene and Asolo). Anything else made from the same variety must be referred to as Glera.

Read more at:



Juvé y Camps Cinta Púrpura – Reserva, Brut – Cava – Penedés -Catalonia

The Wine: Winemaker Notes:  Golden yellow in color with ripe fruit aromas over a light floral background with hints of toasted bread. The crisp acidity of this wine is complemented by a gentle creaminess that leads into a long and satisfying finish. This is an extremely agreeable wine with a vibrant and attractive effervescence. Pairs well with savory appetizers, grilled seafood or fresh fruit desserts.

This wine is made of three traditional varieties, Xarello, Macabeu and Parellada grapes (33% each). The combination brings a brightly coloured product with greenish hues.  On the palate is bright, lively and pleasant. It has a 12% graduation, with an average of 24 months ageing in bottle. The traditional method of elaboration for cava is the same one as used for champagne, the so called “methode champenoise” but adapted to the local varieties.

The Winery: Espiells is the largest of the estates, with 200 hectares of vineyards in what is recognised as the best winemaking zone in the Alt Penedès, on the slopes of Montserrat, a mountain that emerged from the sea millions of years ago and presides over the country, protecting it from the cold north winds. Old vines, full of history -Espiells is the name of a small Romanesque chapel dating back to the 9th century- planted in well-drained clay and limestone soil at an altitude of between 180 and 245 metres. Perfect land for growing the traditional macabeu and xarel·lo varieties, and to which the chardonnay and pinot noir have adapted perfectly.

Mediona is located on the steep mountainside at 500 to 750 metres above sea level that gives a continental touch to the Mediterranean climate. There is a big difference between the daytime and nighttime temperatures, which is essential for quality winemaking. The different vineyards are called Can Massana, Alzinetes, El Prat, Mas Pagès and Can Soler, where the vines, some very old, planted in rocky soil, yield the local parellada variety of grapes with notable refinement and balance. An ecosystem that is also good for growing Bordeaux reds, such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot.

La Cuscona  is a small, strong vineyard with 17 hectares of flat land to the south of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. Its deep limestone soil enriches the estates as a whole with their diverse microclimates. Artisan growing and limited production to produce Macabeu grapes of extraordinary quality, great aromatic richness, nuanced and balanced in structure. The grapes from this estate are essential for making top-quality cava.

The wine is produced with grapes hand harvested and organic certified from these three vineyards.

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


4.  CV Members Rating

Best Rated Wine:  Albrecht Tradition – Blanc de Blancs, Brut – Crémant d’Alsace

Best Buy: Juvé y Camps Cinta Púrpura – Reserva, Brut – Cava – Penedés -Catalonia

View full evaluation here: Summary of Tasting Scores 194

5. Technical Notes 

For additional information prepared by the presenters, click here: Notes Club del Vino-December 2017


Compiled by Alfonso Sanchez

Sparkling wines have always been a symbol of luxury, celebration and romance. From the explosive sound of its opening, to its golden color and festive bubbles everything seems to brighten the occasion. Napoleon, however, said: “In victory I deserve it in defeat, I need it”, thus also awarding him his ability to lift his spirits.

A French monk, Dom Perignon made in 1690 the first important discovery trying to eliminate the bubbles that were produced in the natural fermentation of the wines. Convinced that the grapes of the same variety with uneven maturation produced the foam, he decided to try mixtures of different grapes harvested on different days to select only the mature grains. Because of these experiments, a very pleasant sparkling wine was produced at some point in the process. From then on Champagne was developed. “I’m drinking the stars” exclaimed Dom Perignon, who is said to be an excellent taster. To this day the Moet & Chandon house still follows its production system called cuvee (the style of the house) used by Dom Perignon.

The French mainly use Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes to make the most famous sparkling wine, Champagne, but in other countries rosé, white and even red wines are produced based on other varieties. For example, the Cava de España based on Macabeo and Xarel-lo, the Prosecco or the Lambrusco produced with the grapes of the same names in Italy, the Muscat (Asti), the French Crémmant (produced outside of Champagne), which use other varieties like Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc and in Australia they produce sparkling wines based on Shiraz.

In 1801 Mme. Clicquot invented the system to remove the Champagne sediment by placing the bottles in shelves upside down (riddling) and their elimination (degorgement) by freezing the neck of the bottles afterwards submerging it in very cold water and uncovering each bottle so that by pressure internal expelled the ice cap with the sediment. Adolphe Jacqueson invented the muzzle (musselet) in 1844 to avoid the spontaneous expulsion of the cork during fermentation, storage or transport. The bottles of sparkling wines can reach an internal pressure of up to almost 7 atmospheres and therefore are thick and heavy. Now they are trying to lose weight to lower packaging costs and transportation.

The grapes for the sparkling wine are harvested by hand for uniformity and before the others for normal wine to achieve a low sugar content (afterwards it is reinforced during fermentation) and pressed immediately to avoid oxidation and coloring.

The champagnoise or classic method of production is based on the fermentation in the bottle. First the juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks (concrete or barrels sometimes) for about three weeks as for a white wine. Afterwards, reserved wines from the house are added to maintain the cuvee (style), sugar (to promote CO2) and yeasts. It is bottled and left around two years in secondary fermentation with the bottles placed upside down. The bottles must be turned over periodically (riddling – manual or mechanized) every 8 to 10 weeks. When ready, the bottles are “disgorged”, the content is completed with reserved wines, covered and packaged for distribution. The other method is bulk or transfer mediate which the whole process of fermentation is done in steel tanks and is packaged at the end adding CO2 if necessary. This method ensures more consistency but less integration and quality.

The tasting of sparkling wines requires appreciating, in addition to the characteristics of any other wine, the bubbles, their size, persistence and integration with wine. Small and durable bubbles in the glass are a sign of good integration and that the sparkling does not become “flat” when served or moments later. Some recommend serving it as a beer, with the glass tilted so that the wine slides down the wall of the glass and thus preserve the CO2 instead of serving it as a normal wine by cascading it from the top of the glass.

There are several types of sparkling wines from very dry to sweet as well, depending on the sugar content. – Brut Nature (less than 0.5%), Brut (.5-1.5%), Extra Dry (1.2% -2%), Sec (1.7-3.5%), Demi Sec (3.3-3.5%), Doux (more than 5%). In the USA, cheaper is sweeter. As white wines, you have to drink it young. There are “vintage” harvests (exceptional years) that are left in the cellar for several years but when it goes on the market you have to drink it soon.

Sparkling wines are known by many names such as: Vins Mousseux, Spumante, Prosecco, Sket, Cava and Sparkling.



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Tasting No. 193 – October 30, 2017 – Selection of the Top 100 of Wine Spectator

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

TOP 100

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Clarita Estrada, Jorge García-Grarcía

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Alberto Gómez, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sánchez, Jairo Sánchez, Cristian Santelices, Germán Zincke.

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to assess a sample of wines taken from the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of various years. These are the wines:

  1. 2014 Alpha Estate Turtles Vineyard, Malagouzia Florina
  2. 2014 Tenuta di Trinoro Le Cupole RossoToscana
  3. 2013 Zisola Nero d’Avola, Noto, Sicilia
  4. 2012 Abadía Retuerta Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León Selección Especial, Sardón de Duero

3. The Menu

  1. Seafood salad
  2. Sausage, olives and cheese
  3. Vegetables Risotto
  4. Grilled medallion with roasted potatoes
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2014 Alpha Estate Turtles Vineyard, Malagouzia, Florina

The Wine: Brilliantly, light yellow in color with greenish tints. Strong and lively nose, typical Malagouzia, suggesting rose petal with floral aromas and sweet spices, melon, litchi with a note of honeysuckle. Round and mellow on the palate, fat but balanced, high in alcohol with plenty of finesse. Well structured, reminding the nose aromas with a hint of rosemary. A richly textured wine with superb length and balance. A classy wine with long finish and persistent aromas. Excellently married with green salads, baked vegetables, pasta, low fat fishes and a wide variety of Greek sea food “Meze”.

Malagouzia is an aromatic white variety grown primarily in Central Greece and Greek Macedonia. The variety was rescued from near extinction in 1983 by the winemaker Evangelos Gerovassiliou, after he planted out his vineyard at Epanomi, on the Halkidiki peninsula, with the variety. Malagousia is best known for its citrus and peach characteristics, often showing various melon flavors on the palate. It is often used as a blending agent, most notably with Assyrtiko, to which it adds middle body weight.

The Winery: ALPHA ESTATE is located at the northwest part of Greece, in the Amyndeon, Florina region. Alpha Estate was founded in 1997 by the experienced viticulturist Makis Mavridis and chemist-oenologist Angelos Iatridis, who, after years of experience in various locations of Greece, chose the Amyndeon region to create his own wine.

(Wine Searcher) The climate in the region is one of the most continental in Greece, with temperate summers and cold, rainy winters. During the growing season, warm sunshine during the day is followed by colder nights that shut down the production of sugar in the grapes, lengthening the ripening period. As a result, acidity is preserved as the berries reach phenolic ripeness, and the Xinomavro from Amyndaio is often brighter and fresher than that from other parts of Greek Macedonia. This retention of acidity is important for the production of sparkling wine, and Amyntaio is one of only two sparkling-wine appellations in Greece (the other being Zitsa in Epirus).

Several lakes surround Amyntaio, offering some cooling influences, and the region is characterized by its sandy, alluvial soils deposited by the movement of water over time. Heavy rainfall during winter provides enough water in the ground to keep the vines hydrated throughout the dry summers, although the rapid drainage of these soils ensures this is not excessive. This lessens the vigor of the vines, leading to smaller, more-concentrated grapes.

Alpha Estate was named Winery of the Year 2013 by the Wine & Spirits magazine on September 17th 2013. Τhis prestigious award comes in a year where Wine & Spirits magazine celebrates its 10th anniversary of naming the world’s best wineries. As noted by Joshua Greene, publisher and editor, ‘’Alpha Estate’s range of exceptional wines makes it a great ambassador for Greece’’. Each year in April, Wine & Spirits publishes its Annual Restaurant Poll, where a large number of restaurant wine specialists, from sommeliers to wine buyers evaluate wines with the best performance per label, variety and country of origin.

Read more at: http://alpha-estate.com/homepage

 2014 Tenuta di Le Cupole Rosso, Toscana

The Wine: The second label of Tenuta di Trinoro, Le Cupole was first produced in 1995. It is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot, with percentages varying with each vintage (2014: Blend 42% Cabernet Franc; 48% Merlot; 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.) Fermented in stainless steel and aged in one to three year old barriques and cement, Le Cupole is velvety and approachable. This wine hits the palate with exuberance, full of fleshy, bright fruit, extracted tannins, and rich color.

WS: Alluring scents of ripe cherry, mulberry and fresh herbs complement concentrated flavors of cherry and sweet spice in this red. Offers a backbone of mouthcoating tannins and remains integrated as the finish lingers. Best from 2018 through 2027.

RP: The gorgeous 2014 Le Cupole defies the difficulties of the vintage thanks to extreme fruit selection (executed over numerous individual harvests). Andrea Franchetti is a perfectionist when it comes to fruit selection. This Bordeaux-inspired Tuscan blend opens to dark concentration and a full bouquet that is redolent of dark fruit, spice and tobacco. The aromas are delivered in seamless fashion and with noteworthy intensity. Those are the qualities that ultimately distinguish this wine among the many choices you have from Tuscany today. One thing Tenuta di Trinoro always delivers is distinct personality.

The Winery:  Tenuta di Trinoro is considered one of the most iconic wines produced in Italy today. The estate, planted on virgin soil following the vision of owner and winemaker Andrea Franchetti, is planted solely with Bordelais grapes, with a strong preponderance of Cabernet Franc. The isolated estate occupies an area of about 200 hectares, of which 22 are planted with vines. It is located in the Val d’Orcia, between 450 and 600 meters above sea level, where the eroded rock of the mountain gives way to the limestone and clay of an ancient sea floor. These Super Tuscan wines are unique in their area, expressing the particular conditions of this elevated, inland valley.

Tenuta di Trinoro is the flagship wine of its namesake winery, and only several hundred cases are produced each vintage, making it highly sought-after by collectors. The flagship blend varies based on the vintage, but it is predominantly Cabernet Franc and Merlot, along with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Trinoro also produces other distinctive red wines focused on single varieties including Palazzi, a selection of 100% Merlot; the Campi, three single vineyard wines of 100% Cabernet Franc; and Le Cupole, the second wine to Tenuta di Trinoro.

Read more at: http://www.vinifranchetti.com/tenuta-di-trinoro/

2013 Zisola Nero d’Avola, Noto, Sicilia

The Wine:  Winemaker Notes: Deep ruby red. Aromas of wild berries and hints of spice. Medium-bodied, intense flavors of blackberry and dark cherry, accented by notes of violet, pepper and exotic spices.

WS: A lovely, medium-bodied red, with a pure beam of ripe cherry and fresh acidity layered with supple tannins and accents of star anise, dried thyme, loamy earth and mocha. Drink now through 2023.  Ten thousand cases made.

Wine -Searcher: Nero d’Avola (also known as Calabrese) is the most important and widely planted red wine grape variety in Sicily. Vast volumes of Nero d’Avola are produced on the island every year, and have been for centuries. The dark-skinned grape is of great historical importance to Sicily and takes its present-day name from the town of Avola on the island’s southeast coast. The area was a hotbed of trade and population movement during the Middle Ages and Nero d’Avola was frequently used to add color and body to lesser wines in mainland Italy.

The Winery: Zisola is an Italian estate situated close to the city of Noto in southeast Sicily. It is one of three estates owned by the wine producer Mazzei and specializes in the production of some of Sicily’s most notable regional wines – Noto Rosso, Terre Siciliane IGT and Sicilia DOC. Of particular note is Zisola’s Doppiozeta, which is a Noto Rosso blend of native Nero d’Avola and Syrah. The estate was founded in 2003 and encompasses 21 hectares (52 acres) of vineyard planted mainly to Nero d’Avola, with smaller quantities of Syrah, Petit Verdot, Grillo and Catarratto. The soils are largely composed of limestone and provide the perfect grape-growing conditions in combination with the region’s Mediterranean climate.

Read more at: http://www.mazzei.it/en/The-estates/Zisola/The-estate/ were there is an interesting history of the Mazzei family as wine makres since the 14th century and the relation between Thomas Jefferson and Filippo Mazei that led to wine making in Virginia.

2012 Abadía Retuerta Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León Selección Especial, Sardón de Duero

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: (No. 12 Wine Spectator Top 100 2016)‘.  Mature nose with mineral aromas that give way to black fruit, such as blackberry and blackcurrant. Hints of licorice, red currant and cherries in liqueur on a backdrop of dark chocolate and subtle hints of a well-structured wood. Elegant in the mouth, well-balanced, voluptuous and silky, polished tannins with a well balanced acidity, long and lasting.

This is produced as a blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah from the 54 separate plots that they have identified in their 180 hectares of vineyards. This 2012 matured in French (60%) and American (40%) oak barrels for 14 months, a slightly shorter time than in previous vintages. The casks were one third new, one third second use and one third third use.

The Winery: Wine -Searcher:  Sardon de Duero is a wine-growing area in northern Spain, to the west of Ribera del Duero. It is part of the prestigious ‘Golden Mile’ (La Milla de Oro) of wineries located along the Duero river in the autonomous community of Castilla y Leon. La Milla de Oro is said to have a special microclimate and is home to some of Spain’s most renowned wineries, including Vega Sicilia, Dominio de Pingus and Bodegas Mauro. The area has an ancient winemaking tradition, established by the Romans, but Sardon de Duero’s name has really only recently gained a reputation, despite not being an official appellation.

Sardon de Duero is home to the award-winning Abadia Retuerta winery, one of Spain’s most high-tech producers. The company has been critical in raising the profile of the area and have encouraged other growers to establish themselves here. Abadia Retuerta is located in the grounds of a 12th-century monastery, Santa Maria de Atuerta, 20 miles (32km) southeast of the historic city of Valladolid. Its highly regarded red wines are classified as Vino de la Tierra.

The estate has over 200 hectares (500 acres) under vine with the majority planted to Tempranillo. A total of 54 different plots are each planted with individual varieties. Vineyards are spread across the property from the banks of the Duero River to hillside slopes at elevations of 2700ft (825m) above sea level. The climate is strongly continental with high diurnal and seasonal temperature ranges. The soil composition also varies from plot to plot from gravel, alluvium, limestone, sand and clay.

Although red wines make up the bulk of the portfolio, a white blend is made from a mistaken planting of Sauvignon Blanc. Experimenting with the fruit was a success and 2011 became the first commercial vintage. Verdejo has been added along with small amounts of Gewürztraminer, Godello and Riesling.

The Duero Valley is house for some of Spain top wines. In this region, winters are cold and summers baking hot, there are sharp temperature differences between day and night; sunshine is plentiful and rain is scarce, creating the ideal conditions for grape growing.

The river basin where the Retuerta vines grow is the product of thousands of years of erosion, alluvium, sedimentations and changes in soil composition. This has created a very diverse terroir in this unique wine region, where the texture, the proportion of minerals and water absorbed or retained by each plot in the estate varies.

The philosophy is based on winemaking by plot. The composition of the soil of each of our 54 plots is different: clay by the riverbank, pebbles and sand on the slopes, gravel in the lower parts of the estate, and limestone on the higher ground. Therefore, each terroir contains only one grape variety, which is carefully selected to extract the best the land has to offer to make Spain top wines.

Read more at: https://www.abadia-retuerta.com/en/abadia-retuerta/

 4.  CV Members Rating

  • 2014 Alpha Estate Turtles Vineyard, Malagouzia Florina – CV Rating: Excellent –  Experts Rating: 90 Pts. – Price: $22
  • 2014 Tenuta di Trinoro Le Cupole Rosso, Toscana – CV Rating:  Very Good –  Experts Rating: 93 Pts. – Price: $35
  • 2013 Zisola Nero d’Avola, Noto, Sicilia  – CV Rating: Very Good–  Experts Rating: 90 Pts. – Price: $35
  • 2012 Abadía Retuerta Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León Selección Especial Sardón de Duero  – CV Rating:  Excellent–  Experts Rating: 93 Pts. – Price: $35

View full evaluation here: WE.TASTING SUMMARY 193

Best Rated Wine: 2012 Abadía Retuerta Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León Selección Especial Sardón de Duero

Best Buy: 2012 Abadía Retuerta Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León Selección Especial Sardón de Duero


5. Technical Notes 

How the Top 100 are selected, Video: http://top100.winespectator.com/video/how-wine-spectator-picks-the-top-100/

To read about the WS approach to wine testing and their methodology see: http://www.winespectator.com/display/show/id/tasting-format 



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Tasting No. 192 – September 25, 2017 – Middle East New Wines

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Qsarnaba Grapes – Bekaa Valley – Lebanon Source: Wikimedia Commons

 1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Marcello Averbug, Jorge Claro

Participants: Marcello Averbug, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clarita Estrada, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sánchez, Jairo Sánchez, Ricardo Santiago, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke, Cristian Santelices

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to explore wines from Lebanon, Israel made of french traditional varieties and a wine made of a blend of Turkish of two native varieties. These are the wines:

  1. 2013 – Yarden Katzrin, Chardonnay – Golan Heights Winery, Israel
  2. 2012 – Gush Etzion, Lone Oak Cabernet Sauvignon  Reserve, Judea Hills, Israel
  3. 2011 Domain des Tourelles, Marquis de Reys Red, Pierre L. Brun, Lebanon
  4. 2012 Buyulubag Okuzgozu & Bogaskere, Turkey 

3. The Menu

  1. Seafood sautéed with white wine sauce
  2. Mushroom soup
  3. Eggplant served with light tomato sauce
  4. Braised lamb leg with red wine sauce, served with roasted potatoes and broccoli
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2013 – Yarden Katzrin, Chardonnay – Golan Heights Winery, Israel

The Wine: The Yarden Chardonnay is the flagship wine of the Golan Heights Winery, whose philosophy lies in the details and perfection. The wine aged in French oak barrels, of which some 50% were new, for seven months. Critics have scored this as one of the top five Galilee wines: Wine Spectator gave the 2014 vintage a score of 91. This is one of the most popular wines from the region.

The Winery: The Galilee is the most northern, and generally considered the best, appellation in Israel. The highest quality area within the appellation is the Golan Heights, the coldest region in Israel. The vineyards on this volcanic plateau rise from 400 meters (1,300 feet) above sea level to 1,200 meters (3,900 feet) and receive snowfall in the winter.One place in Israel enjoys ideal conditions, as in Bordeaux or Tuscany, for producing internationally renowned wines: the Golan Heights. In this breathtaking strip of land, everything begins with the right conditions – volcanic basaltic soil, suitable topography and cool high-altitude climate. This unique combination is what gives the Golan Heights its second name – “wine country.” Over the years, this area has become well known for producing outstanding Chardonnay. Golan Heights Winery, founded in 1983, is located in the town of Katzrin.

From the day it was founded, Golan Heights Winery, in both philosophy and actions, has focused on in-depth study and research of the terroir of its region and vineyards. The Winery is continuously analyzing the impact of our local terroir on the way various varieties grow and realize their latent potential. This is done in a continuous, multifaceted and dynamic learning process requiring significant investment, including the development of unique technological methods, while leveraging our experience and creativity.

The 28 vineyards, which cover over 600 hectares (1,500 acres) are divided into some 430 blocks (as of the 2016 harvest). The fruit of each block is cared for individually as the grapes are grown, harvested and brought to the winery. The grapes from each block is stored and handled separately throughout the winemaking process until the wine’s character and final blend are determined.

Read more at: http://www.golanwines.co.il/english

2012 – Gush Etzion, Lone Oak Cabernet Sauvignon  Reserve, Judea Hills, Israel

The Wine: This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon captures the essence of grapes grown at the latitude of 900 meters in the unique, cool climate of the Gush Etzion region. For 19 months, the wine matures in oak barrels until attaining a flavor that is complex and elegant, with fragrances of cassis and berries. Deep, dark red, toward black. Intense aroma, dominated by ripe carob and pecan. Full-bodied with firm tannins and a long finish with subtle fruit. Alcohol contents: 14.5%.

The Winery:  Located in Katzrin, built on the site of an agricultural village from the Mishnaic period in the Golan Heights. It is Israel’s third largest winery. In 2012, was named New World Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, it incorporates sophisticated technology using pneumatic membrane presses, must chiller and computer-controlled cooling of stainless steel tanks. The winery also has an elaborate “experimental winery” for research and quality control of new wines and improvement of existing lines. Techniques include maturation in French and American oak barrels for premium red and white wines.

The Golan Heights Winery is credited with starting the “quality revolution” in Israeli wine, creating a brand identity for the country’s vintages, spurring the creation of new wineries and motivating existing wineries to improve the quality of their wines. In partnership with Entav of France, the winery is developing disease-resistant clones and the world’s first insect-free “mother block” and nursery.

The winery has won worldwide acclaim and awards at the most prestigious festivals, including wine shows in France. Golan Heights Winery was named Best Foreign Winery at the Prague Trophy 2008 international wine competition. At a ceremony on January 16, 2009, received the award after winning seven medals at the competition. In 2011, won the Gran Vinitaly Special Award as the best wine producer at the 19th International Vinitaly Competition in Italy. The winery earned two Gold Medals for its 2009 Yarden Chardonnay Organic Vineyard and its 2008 Yarden Heights Wine. Its 2004 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon was the first wine from Israel to be listed on the Wine Spectator Top 100.

Read more at: http://www.gushetzion-winery.co.il/home-page

 2011 Domain des Tourelles Marquis de Reys, Red Wine, Pierre L. Brun, Lebanon

The Wine:  This wine is a blend of equal parts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.  The best parcels are selected yearly to create this premium wine which stands as an illustrious ambassador of what Lebanon has to offer; with its dark purple color and cedar aromas, this is a powerful wine that will reward the patience of those who cellar it for 5 to 8 years and even more. Decant it and enjoy it with braised lamb, Moroccan Merguez tagines or even a vegetarian lentil and smoky eggplant stew.

The Winery: “When Frenchman François-Eugène Brun laid the foundation stone of Domaine des Tourelles in Chtaura back in 1868, he couldn’t have known that he had just begun to write the story of a marvelous Lebanese wine. Honoring this great heritage of artisan know-how and quality, Domaine des Tourelles produces today the best of wine, arak (its famous label “Arak Brun”) and liqueur. The prestigious Property is classified among the finest boutique wineries of the Middle-East, described in the Financial Times as “the most seductive winery” in Lebanon. Domaine des Tourelles’ bottles have ever then conquered admirers all around the world with more than 10 countries proposing its labels. Discovering Domaine des Tourelles is a must to enter the charming world of Lebanese wines.

Built in 1868 with stone walls and wood ceilings following the traditional Lebanese architecture, the winery knew several expansions throughout the years. In the 20th century, red roof tiles were added and the edifice took its final form that remains till today. The winery was built following an intelligent ancestral design that takes advantage of the best outdoors’ factors (keeping an ideal ambient temperature all year long).

These are some of the highest altitude vineyards in the Northern Hemisphere at 3,280 feet above sea level. Benefiting from 240 days of reliable sunshine and the dry climate in the Bekaa where most fungal diseases are not a real threat, all grapes are grown organically.

Our philosophy in the winery follows the same low interventionist approach we practice in the vineyards. Only indigenous yeasts are responsible for the fermentation, the white and rosé wines are fermented in stainless steel tanks while the red wines ferment and rest in the beautiful concrete tanks that line the walls of this historic winery.”

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

 2012 Buyulubag Okuzgozu & Bogaskere, Turkey

The Wine: Powerful aromatic bouquet dominated by aniseed, grinded fresh whole black peppercorn and prune. Long finish with exotic spices. Strong texture. The wine is blend of equal parts of two turkish native varieties, Öküzgözü and Bogaskere.

Öküzgözü grape is one of the two native grape varieties of Elazığ province (the other one is Boğazkere), located on the Anatolian plateau at the north of the Taurus Mountains. The various sources of the Euphrates River in this region soften the normally harsh climate of Eastern Turkey.  Öküzgözü has rounded, dark colored grapes, which are the largest among the grape varieties grown in Turkey. The Turkish word öküzgözü literally means “ox eye”. On the palate, it is medium bodied, producing round, fruity wines, with some tannins and rather lively acidity. Alcohol level is usually between 12.5% and 13.5 %. Öküzgözü is high in acidity, medium to low in alcohol content and its medium body offers a delicate bouquet. It has fruit and floral flavours, makes a soft and easy to drink wines. Due to its acidity, it can age well. Wines from the Öküzgözü grape have a light red colour like Pinot Noir.

Boğazkere is a grape variety and a Turkish wine originated from Diyarbakır Province near the Tigris river in the southeastern region of Turkey. It is a dark red rich grape and the wine is well structured with dried fruit and fig flavors. It also gives its name to a wine produced from the grape by the certified Boğazkere vineyards in Diyarbakır.  The characteristics of this wine are strong body, very enjoyable long finish, dark red color with dark blue hue, and rich and strong aromas of dried red fruits and spices. It is good for aging up to 10 years. It is recommended with red meat kebabs, turkey, salmon and cheese, especially eastern Anatolian cheddar or Gruyere cheese.

The Winery: The Büyülübağ winery is on the Avşa Island, Marmara Sea in Turkey. The island with a history of viticulture and wine making since 1800’s, has a unique microclimate and sandy-loam soil. Buyulubag winery & vineyards has been founded by Mr. Alp Toruner at 2003 in Avsa Island / Turkey to produce top quality wines.  With its unique microclimate Avsa Island is located on inland Marmara Sea and has a history of winemaking since 1800s. Mr. Toruner knew that in order to produce top quality wines, the most gentle winemaking techniques should be used and also the grapes and the wine should be handled with utmost care.  Mr. Toruner made a long research for designing the winery together with the Architects Mr. Erdal Tasayul, Mr. Engin Yenal and the Oenologist Mr. Francois-Xaviyer Gaboriaud focusing on the product quality. As a result, at 2005, Turkey’s first and only Gravity Flow Winery construction is completed and the production has started. The winery is located in the middle of vineyards, and has wine producing capacity of 200.000 liters annually.

Read more at: http://www.buyulubag.com/eng/

 4.  CV Members Rating

Participants ratings:

  • 2013 – Yarden Katzrin, Chardonnay – Golan Heights Winery, Israel – Very Good ($43)
  • 2012 – Gush Etzion, Lone Oak Cabernet Sauvignon  Reserve, Judea Hills, Israel- Very Good ($50)
  • 2011 Domain des Tourelles, Marquis de Reys Red, Pierre L. Brun, Lebanon – Very Good ($20)
  • 2012 Buyulubag Okuzgozu & Bogaskere, Turkey – Good ($18)

View full evaluation here: EastMediterraneanwinesTASTING SUMMARY

Best Rated: 2011 Domain des Tourelles, Marquis de Reys Red, Pierre L. Brun, Lebanon

Best Buy: 2011 Domain des Tourelles, Marquis de Reys Red, Pierre L. Brun, Lebanon


5. Technical Notes 

The following note offers an overview of the wines of Israel, Lebanon and Turkey and was compiled from various sources by Jairo Sánchez, Jorge Claro, Macello Averbuga and Alfonso Sánchez.

 Technical Note Tasting 192.


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

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

 1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: John Redwood, Lucía Redwood

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

Guests: Patricia García, Cristian Santelices

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview

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

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

3. The Menu

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

4. Information on the Wines

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

2015 Nobles Rives, Cave de Tain, Crozes Hermitage Blanc

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

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

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

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

 2015 Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz, Barossa Valley

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

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

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

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

2013 Gordon Estate, Shiraz, Columbia Valley

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

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

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

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

Read more at: http://gordonwines.com/

2014 Nobles Rives, Cave de Tain, Hermitage

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

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

 4.  CV Members Rating

Participants ratings:

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

View full evaluation here: SYRAH191TASTING SUMMARY (1)

Best Rated Wine: 2013 Gordon State Syrah, Columbia Valley

Best Buy: 2013 Gordon State Syrah, Columbia Valley

5. Technical Notes 

(Compiled by Jairo Sanchez)


Wine Searcher.com

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

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

Syrah Grapes,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food matches for Syrah include:

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

Rosemary-crusted lamb tenderloin with red wine jus


Snooth.com Gregory dial Piaz and WineFolly.com

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

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

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


                              Syrah and GSM Profiles


                             Syrah                   GSM Blend                                    

Fruit                       5                           5

Body                       5                           4

Tannin                    3                           4

Acidity                    4                           4

Alcohol                   4                            4


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


                                        Regional Differences

Warm Weather


Fruit-forward blackberry, blueberry and sweet tobacco

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

Cool Weather


Savory plum, olive and green peppercorn

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



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



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

Syrah as single variety wine

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

Syrah blended with other varieties

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



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

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Source: Wikimedia Commons

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Pedro Turina, Germán Zincke

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

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview

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

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

3. The Menu

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

4. Information on the Wines

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

2015 Montes Spring Harvest, Sauvignon Blanc, Leyda Valley

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

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

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

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

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

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

 2015 Veranda Pinot Noir, Bio Bio Valley  

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

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

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

2013 Gonzalez Bastías, País en Tinaja, País, Maule

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.  CV Members Rating


Participants ratings:

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

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


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

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


5. Technical Notes 

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

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


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


 Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Saint Emilion

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Alberto Gómez, Orlando Mason


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

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. Tasting Overview  

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

These are the wines:

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

3. The Menu

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

4. Information on the Wines

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

2013 Duckhorn, Napa Valley, Merlot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 2010 Château Fombrauge, Saint Emilion, Grand Cru


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 2012 Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre, Colchagua and Rapel Valleys, Merlot

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

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

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

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

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

 4.  CV Members Rating

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best value for Money: Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre, Colchagua

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

5. Technical Notes 

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



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