Tasting No. 201 – July 30, 2018- Eastern Europe Wines

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Georgian traditional kvevri jugs buried in a winery in Kakheti. – Source Wikimedia.org

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Jorge Claro, Cristian Santelices

Participants: Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, John Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago, Germán Zincke

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to explore wines from Eastern Europe made with native varieties less known in the west.  These are the wines:

  1. 2015 Benvenuti, Anno Domini, Malvazija, Istria, Croatia 
  2. 2015 Parallel 43 Selection, Trianguli, Mavrud, Danubian Plain, Bulgaria
  3. 2015 Naotari, Saperavi, Dry Unfiltered Red Wine, Kavareli, Kakheti, Georgia
  4.  2013 Dignac, Skaramuca, Plavac Mali, Vrhunsko Vino, Peljesac Peninsula, Croatia 

3. The Menu

  1. Lobster Bisque
  2. Octopus and Potatoes
  3. Veal Ravioli in Aurora Sauce
  4. Beef Medallions in Mushroom Sauce with Vegetables
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2015 Benvenuti Anno Domini, Malvazija, Istria, Croatia

The Wine: The Anno Domini 2016 is especially distinct and unusually expressive for Malvazijas: it contains typical varietal, flowery-acacia-almond elements, but also deep tertiary nuances of serious orange wines ranging from dried citruses and apricots, to spices such as sumac. The new Anno Domini is very full in the mouth, delightfully plentiful, with unusual earthy effect which we have not previously identified in Malvazijas, and with a strong mineral ending. The Anno Domini is a great wine worth certainly between 93 and 95 points, justifying the Benvenuti brother’s thesis that 2016 was one of the best Istrian harvests of the century. “This complex Malvazija has exceptional minerality, it is full-boded, with pronounced characteristics of the variety and fruitiness. For better quality of grapes, we have minimised the yields of our vineyards in Turkovo, located at an altitude of 350 meters. Malvazija Anno Domini was aged in oak barrels for 24 months, following a 15-day maceration. With great potential for ageing, the 2016 vintage was made in 5.000 bottles.” Food pairing: Roasted meet, pasta with strong sauces.

Malvazija is a white grape originating on Croatia’s Istra peninsular, and now the second most planted variety in Croatia after Graševina. It produces mainly varietal wines, often with a slightly green hue and an appealing honeyed tang. The variety is also known in north-east Italy as Malvasia Istriana. Like albariño is to the seaside shores of Galicia in Spain, malvazija is the signature white wine of Istria, an axe-shaped peninsula that slices into the Adriatic Sea along Croatia’s northern coast. Here malvazija vineyards stand like sentinels not far from the rugged, salty shore and then majestically rise up the pastoral highlands of the interior, where they thrive alongside acacia trees, olive groves, and truffle oak forests in the region’s patchwork of red, white, brown and grey soils – each to subtly different effect. Despite the name that would place the variety among the branches of the very large malvasia bianca family tree, malvazija istarska is specific to Istria, although the variety can also be found in the neighboring Koper appellation in Slovenia, as well as in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia area of Italy

The Winery: The Benvenuti winery is a story of family, tradition and terroir. They are situated in the quiet Istrian village of Kaldir in Croatia, where they grow three grape varieties – Malvasia Istriana, Teran and Muscat. Throughout history, these varieties have been giving the best results in Istria.  They vineyards are situated 400 metres above sea level planted on sandy soil and face south in the vineyards of the San Salvatore (once the location of the village of Kaldir). The annual production of Malvasia is approx. 70,000 bottles. Nikola and Albert Benvenuti have in recent years become some of the most ambitious and serious Croatian winemakers. Their aspirations and scope is best described by international results: 95 points at Decanter for the 2013 Teran and a gold medal at the International Wine Challenge for the Malvazija Anno Domini 2015.

Read more at: http://www.benvenutivina.com/en/vina.html

2015 Parallel 43 Selection, Trianguli, Mavrud, Danubian Plain, Bulgaria

The Wine: The 2015 Triangulus Bouquet is an autochthonous variety from Thracian Mavrud indigenous Bulgarian that offers up vibrant red and tangy black berry fruit with dried brush and earthy notes that warrant comparison to traditional, with distinguished aromas of blackberry and piquant paper accent. This wine is aged for two years in neutral barrel before release.

Mavrud, is a dark-skinned grape variety of Bulgarian origin. Its precise provenance is generally accepted to be Asenovgrad, an appellation in the West Thracian Valley of southern Bulgaria.

The grape’s name is derived from the Greek “mavro”, meaning black. The grape has been depicted as a low-yielding, late-ripening, small-berried grape, which is able to produce a spicy, tannic wine with a capability of ageing. The wines produced from this grape are high in tannins and acidity with plenty of flavors of stewed-fruit on the palate providing a mouth-feel of glycerol. It also exhibits herbal properties, providing the wine a therapeutic finish. All these features lead to a fruity and spicy varietal with high amount of tannins, distinguished maturing capacity, excellent acidity, local character and applauded for good quality. The grapes harvest in the end of October in the region of Plovdiv.

Mavrud wine can be excellently paired with lamb, marinated beef, rosemary potatoes, desserts such as mousse, maple pie, mascarpone pie, bread pudding, cheesecake, lemon cake, etc.

According to the Bulgarian legends, all the vineyards were ordered to be destroyed during the supremacy of Bulgarian Khan Krum. Soon after a lion ran away from its cage and the city was terrorized. Anyhow, a brave man referred to as Mavrud tackled and slayed the lion. The king sent for Mavrud’s mother to know about the cause of such bravery. She replied that she had saved a grape vine secretly, produced wine and this was the source of the courage of Mavrud. Khan Krum immediately ordered for the re-plantation of vineyards

The Winery: Prallel43 is a family-owned wine importer and wholesaler based in Northern Virginia, specializing in importing wines from Eastern Europe, a region with long wine-making traditions and great potential for interesting, world-class wines of both international and regional varietals.  The wines from the upper Thracian Valley come from the alluvial soils in the collar of three massive mountain chains. Part of those wines are grown in the Southwestern-most corner of Bulgaria and the region of Melnik. This region is sunny and dry, with sediment-rich, pebbly and sandy soil.

Read more at: http://www.parallel43.com/

2015 Naotari, Saperavi, Dry Unfiltered Red Wine, Kavareli, Kakheti, Georgia

The Wine: There is a nice interplay of beady tannins, forceful acidity and fruit, with clear red forest berries, cranberries and sweet spices. Because it is aged in clay jars and is unfiltered, there is a slightly chalky but not unpleasant feel in the mouth. This wine is a good example of a well-made Saperavi.

This dark ruby colored Saperavi opens with black olive and black currant like bouquet. The finish is dry and its moderate tannins build up and last for quite some time. This Saperavi would pair nicely with grilled steak and excellent with mature cheeses of different styles.

Saperavi (Georgian: literally “paint, dye, give color”) is an acidic, teinturier-type grape variety native to Georgia (country), where it is used to make many of the region’s most well-known wines. It is also grown in small quantities in the Niagara and Finger Lakes regions of New York State as well as former USSR countries. Its leaves are 3-lobed, large, and roundish. The berries are medium to large, elliptic or round depending on the type, dark bluish, and thin-skinned; with a maturation period of approximately 5 months and moderate productivity.  Sapravi wines have a characteristic bouquet, a harmonious taste, and a pleasant astringency. Its alcoholic strength ranges from 10.5-12.5% and titrated acidity 5-7%. It is known to have been in production since 1886. Saperavi grapes produce very deep red wines that are suitable for extended aging. It has the potential to produce high alcohol levels, and is often blended with lighter varieties. It is by far the most dominant Georgian red grape in terms of overall production.

The Winery: Naotari Family Vineyards & Cellar was founded in 2012 by Koba Kvatchrelishvili and his two sons, Rezo and Alex Kvatchrelishvili. Koba is in love with the traditions of Kakhetian wine making; traditions that have existed in Georgia for thousands of years and in Koba’s family for generations. Kakhetian wine making centers itself around two things: 1) Qvevri, the traditional terra-cotta (clay ) amphora type that are buried underneath the ground and are used in each stage of the winemaking process, and 2) Skin contact, Kakhetian white wines spend approximately 6 months in contact with their grape skins developing complex and amber colored wines.

Naotari Vineyard approach is centered around small batch wine production focused on uniqueness and an authentic expression of the Chikaani terroir and Kakhetian traditions. Annually they produces a very limited quantity at around 3,000 bottles, which are unfiltered while no additives or artificial yeast are used in winemaking. The Naotari family Vineyards & cellars produce their wines using Qvevri method -an 8,000-year-old uniquely Georgian method that utilizes a huge amphora, Qvevri, buried underneath the ground to allow wine fermentation and aging in an even, naturally cool condition. Clay is the happy medium between stainless steel and oak. Like oak, clay is porous, allowing for an exchange of oxygen. Like steel, clay is a neutral material, so it doesn’t impart additional flavors.

Read more at: http://www.georgianwinehouse.com/brand/47/Naotari/winemaker

2013 Dignac, Skaramuca, Plavac Mali, Vrhunsko Vino, Peljesac Peninsula, Croatia  

The Wine: Dingač vine is grown in a special location in the Dingač valley where the soil composition, slope (30-70%) and many hours of sun result in top quality wine. The wine is technologically processed and, following a period of 2 to 4 years, offered on the market. The Mediterranean climate with its short, mild winters and long, warm summers full of sunshine gave birth to wines boasting with ideal ratio of alcohol, acid, minerals, tannin, color, proteins and vitamins. The Skaramuča Dingač has won the bronze medal on the biggest American wine fair in San Francisco, among 4,500 contestants from all over the world.   Dingač is a high-quality wine with deeply ruby red color and subtly pronounced varietal aroma. Dingač is a typical Plavac with fruit characteristics and unique by harmonious fullness of flavor. It is ideal with red grilled meat and sauces and aged cheeses.

Plavac Mali is the most planted red grape variety in Croatia (to be precise, on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia). Plavac Mali is probably the best-known Croatian wine, and if you are just starting to get to know Croatian wines and haven’t tasted it before, it should definitely be at the top of your list. The wine plavac mali is a very powerful, robust red wine, rich in taste and high in alcohol and tannins.

Plavac mali has a very interesting history of origin that has caused many wine experts to become obsessed with tracing its origins. For a long time plavac mali was confused with zinfandel, the famous Californian wine. Plavac mali has even been subjected to DNA research and has starred in the documentary ‘Dossier Zinfandel’. We now know that plavac mali is a cross between Crlenjak Kaštelanski (ancestral Zinfandel) and Dobričić (an ancient red wine grape variety from the Dalmatian coast) grapes. How the grapes found their way from a small Mediterranean country to California has been tickling the brains of wine historians, plant experts, winemakers, and even geneticists for a very long time

The Winery:  The Skaramuča family vineyards are situated on prominent locations on Pelješac peninsula and are a part of Pelješka Župa and Dingač area. On the Dingač southern slopes the vineyards spread on an area of around 20 ha.

The highly renowned Croatian winemaker, Ivo Skaramuča is the owner and the founder of the Skaramuča brand wines. Although the winemaking history is as old as the family Skaramuča itself, the real success tale starts in 1992 when the Croatian legislation recognizes private grapes growing and winemaking, which gives the Skaramuča brand a chance to position itself among the top Croatian wines. Today Skaramuča is one of the biggest Croatian private entrepreneurs in winemaking and the owner of the largest vineyard in the Dingač area.

The beautiful Dingač slopes feature numerous plavac mali groves nurtured and developed by Mr. Skaramuča over the past two decades, now possessing 165,000 plavac mali vines. They produced 70,000 bottles of placav mali in 2017.

Read more at: http://dingac-skaramuca.hr/en/wines/dingac/

4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 201 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2013 Dignac, Skaramuca, Plavac Mali, Vrhunsko Vino, Peljesac Peninsula, Croatia

Best Buy: 2013 Dignac, Skaramuca, Plavac Mali, Vrhunsko Vino, Peljesac Peninsula, Croatia

5. Technical Notes 

Notes compiled by Jorge Claro and Cristian Santelices.

The Wine Treasures of Eastern Europe.  

The classic Old-World wine making regions, such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and Piedmont, are all located between 40˚ and 50˚ latitude, where climates are generally favorable for fine wine production. Much of Central and Eastern Europe falls within the same zones. With wine making histories that began prior to those of France, Italy or Spain, the region could be considered the original “Old World” of wine.  What follows is an overview of the most important wine producing countries in the region.

Hungary.  One hundred years ago, Hungary was one of the most important wine producers in Europe. Every royal court in Europe clinked glasses filled with precious gold Tokaji (“toe-kye”) wine, while other lush Hungarian whites and reds were lauded and enjoyed throughout Europe. In addition, it should be noted that Hungarian Oak is one of the three major types of oak, after French and American, that is used to make wine barrels. Unfortunately, due the aggressive assault of phylloxera in the 1880’s, two world wars, and forty years of communist collectivization we don’t see many Hungarian wines penetrating the international market. In the US, it is very difficult to find quality Hungarian wines.

Hungary is bouncing back. Countless small estates replanted and cultivated across the country are turning out beautiful wines–a result of traditional winemaking culture mixed with a modern sensibility. With 22 wine regions growing hundreds of varietals, the country offers a multitude of great wines to explore.

The country is located between the 46th and 49th parallel which is actually the same latitude range as many of France’s top wine regions from Northen Rhone to Champagne. Hungary’s rolling hills are rich in volcanic soils and limestone–idyllic soil types for fine winemaking.  Hungary’s four top wine producing regions are Eger, Tokaj, Villány and Somló.

Croatia.  You’ve most likely already had a wine that originated in Croatia, you just don’t know it! In 1994, grape geneticist, Dr. Carol Meredith, discovered that Zinfandel (aka Primitivo) is identical to Croatia’s Tribidrag (or Crljenak Kaštelanski). Tribidrag also happens to be the parent grape of Croatia’s most popular red wine, Plavac Mali. So, if you love Zinfandel, you already love Plavac Mali!. Plavac Mali is the primary red wine of Croatia and grows mostly along the Dalmatian coast. It is a wine that is rich and full of flavor, higher in both alcohol and tannin, with lower acidity, and has flavors of blackberry, dark cherry, pepper, carob, dry figs, and spice. Plavac Mali translates to “small blue,” and this grape is so important in Croatia that it was the first to have its own appellations – Dingač and Postup, which are both located on the Pelješac peninsula in South-Central Dalmatia. Croatia has many indigenous grape varieties that are not very well-known internationally, partly due to their complicated names such as Pošip, Malvazija Istarska, Grk, Teran (In Italy, Terran is called Terrano) Graševina also known as Welschriesling and one of the most popular white wine grapes in Croatia.

Georgia.  Georgia is one of the oldest wine regions in the world. The fertile valleys and protective slopes of the Transcaucasia were home to grapevine cultivation and Neolithic wine production for at least 8000 years. Due to the many millennia of wine in Georgian history and its prominent economic role, the traditions of wine are considered entwined with and inseparable from the national identity.  Among the best-known Georgian wine regions are Kakheti (further divided into the micro-regions of Telavi and Kvareli), Kartli, Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kyemo Svaneti, Adjara and Abkhasia. UNESCO added the ancient traditional Georgian winemaking method using the Kvevri clay jars to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage lists.

This video illustrates the Kvevri method of wine making: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN5ziogyxP0

There are five main regions of viniculture, the principal region being Kakheti, which produces seventy percent of Georgia’s grapes. Traditionally, Georgian wines carry the name of the source region, district, or village, much like French regional wines such as Bordeaux or Burgundy. As with these French wines, Georgian wines are usually a blend of two or more grapes. For instance, one of the best-known white wines, Tsinandali, is a blend of Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane grapes from the micro regions of Telavi and Kvareli in the Kakheti region.


There is additional information on this tasting here: Additional Information Wines from East Europe

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Tasting No. 200 – June 25, 2018- Sauvignon Blanc

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Sauvignon Blanc – Source : Wikimedia

 1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenter: Ricardo Santiago

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Jaime Jaramillo, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago, Pedro Turina

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to evaluate four different Sauvignon Blanc wines to find out the effects of the terroir, the blending and the aging in oak.

These are the wines:

  1. 2015 Greywacke, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
  2. 2017 Domaine Delaporte, Chavignol, Sancerre, Loire, France
  3. 2017 Cloudy Bay, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
  4. 2015 Chateau Latour-Martillac, Pessac-Leognan, France

3. The Menu

  1. Bacon wrapped asparagus
  2. Salmon and smoked salmon
  3. Grilled chicken with green vegetables
  4. Cheese plate
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2015 Greywacke, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

The Wine: (from Wine . com). Winemaker notes: A vibrant mix of nectarines, yellow peaches and cassis combines with the bright fragrance of lemon zest laced with musky, jasmine-like floral nuances. The palate is packed with ripe stone fruit, melons and mandarin creating a succulent tropical-fruited style with that classic Marlborough zing.

Wine Advocate: The 2015 Wild Sauvignon features hints of struck flint and green onion on the nose, but those are quickly swept away by aromas of nectarine and grapefruit. This is a ripe, medium to full-bodied style, barrel fermented in used oak to avoid any overt vanilla or cedar flavors, yet round and mouth-filling. It’s actually pretty tame for being “wild,” and should have broad appeal.

Wine Spectator Supple, rich and spicy, with smooth, honeyed overtones and whiffs of lanolin and honeycomb adding complexity to the core of pear and peach flavors. Smooth and succulent on the finish. Drink now.

The Winery: Greywacke is the Marlborough label of Kevin Judd, and the fulfilment of a long held dream. Thename Greywacke was adopted by Kevin and his wife Kimberley for their first Marlboroughvineyard located in Rapaura, named in recognition of the high prevalence of rounded greywackeriver stones in the soils of the vineyard. Kevin registeredthe name back in 1993 with the vague notion that he might one day want to use it on a wine label of his own.

This quality focused winemaking venture sources fruit from mature vineyards within the central Wairau Plains and the Southern Valleys. These prime viticultural sites are cultivated using yield restricting vineyard management techniques and intense canopy management regimes. A number of the vineyards are owned by the Sutherland family, while complementary grape parcels are acquired from additional select sites, all located within these sub-regions.

The wines are made by Kevin at Dog Point Winery in the lower Brancott Valley, a facility extended to him by long-standing friends and industry colleagues, Ivan Sutherland and James Healy. The Greywacke portfolio is primarily based on two varieties, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir, the sauvignon blanc being produced in two distinctly different styles. In addition to this core range of three wines, there are also limited edition releases of chardonnay, and three aromatic varieties – pinot gris, riesling and gewurztraminer. Kevin’s signature vineyard photographs provide the unmistakable identity of the Greywacke range.

Read more at: http://greywacke.com/

2017 Domaine Delaporte, Chavignol, Sancerre, Loire

The Wine: Grape variety: Sauvignon Blanc 100 %. Pale gold with green hints. Very expressive, intense and complex nose with boxwood, rhubarb, blackcurrant, kiwi fragrances and a light vegetal touch (marigold).The entry is soft and round. Bright freshness on the palate, delicate and lively purity.
Well balanced and harmonious, it ends with a clean lingering finish.

The vines have a southeasterly exposure and are planted on slopes that get a great deal of sunshine. Thanks to a diversity of soils types, principally flint (50%) and limestone (50%) and a strict blending of wines from 28 plots, we have brought finesse, aromatic complexity and minerality to this wine. This wine is composed of vines with an average age of 35 years. The consistent high quality of our Sancerre is remarkable and unique in its style.

Winemaking: . Pneumatic pressing. Fermentation in stainless-steel thermo-regulated vats at 18° in October and November. Pumping over and aging on lees for three months in December, January and February. In March, racking, fining and light filtering before bottling. 50% of our wines are bottled in April, May and June. Bottled in the spring, they willkeep all their primary aromas for 3 years and more.

Pairing: As a young wine, it is a superb aperitif served at 10°C and a marvelous companion for shellfish.After a few month of maturation, it becomes excellent with oriental dishes, fish dishes, sushi, grilled or fish with a sauce. Also very good with roasted white meats and poultry. This wine should be served between 10 and 13°C.

The Winery:  Located in the heart of the Sancerre region, the Delaporte Domaine is a family business that has been been handed from father to son since the 17th century

The domain can be found in the pretty village of Chavignol whose reputation for its famous goat’s cheese, “Crottin de Chavignol” is wide spread.

Since 2010 Vincent Delaporte’s grandson, Matthieu Delaporte has been fully focused on further improving the domaine’s wines. A more organic approach has been adopted in the vineyards with herbicides no longer being used. Yields have been lowered and oak is being judiciously introduced to the vinification.

Our Sancerre wines have a deal of finesse and subtlety and whilst the lessons of the past have not been forgotten we know that improvements can always be made. Since 2015, the harvest is done entirely by hand. This allowed for more selective picking which undoubtedly impacted the quality of the resulting wines.

Our wines are all made from grapes grown in our own vineyards which today extend to 33 hectares, three quarters of which are planted with a very fine clone of Sauvignon Blanc, while the rest is the most elegant and delicate of red varieties, Pinot Noir. We aim to give the upmost respect to the terroir and land in which we work and which gives us our living and to care for it for the generations to come.

Read more at: http://www.domaine-delaporte.com/en/

2017 Cloudy Bay, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand


The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Cloudy Bay has built a reputation for refined, elegant Sauvignon Blanc, and the 2017 vintage is no exception despite critical harvest conditions: lower quantities to meet high quality standards. Bright, lifted citrus aromatics of kaffir lime and grapefruit abound, supported by ripe nectarine-like stone fruit notes. An elegant, concentrated palate reveals ripe, juicy stone fruit and lemongrass, supported by a lovely minerality.

The Winery: (From Wine -Searcher) Cloudy Bay Vineyards is the most famous producer in New Zealand’s Marlborough region, and its Sauvignon Blanc is one of the country’s most sought-after wines.

The winery has four estate vineyards in the Wairau Valley subregion of Marlborough, and buys fruit from nine other Wairau vineyards. The Wairau Valley itself was the product of several glacial periods ending 14,000 years ago, and the resultant soils vary from washed stone to gravel, alluvial silt and clay. Marlborough has a maritime climate and has some of the longest sunshine hours of anywhere in New Zealand.

The pre-eminent wine of Cloudy Bay is Sauvignon Blanc, but it also produces Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris, a late-harvest wine and a sparkling wine, Pelorus. Cloudy Bay was one of the first wineries in Marlborough, and is recognized as one of the producers that spawned the international success of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. The flagship offering is more fruit-forward than its French counterparts, with a little less acidity and a region-specific herbaceousness. However, Cloudy Bay also produces an alternative style, Te Koko, which is fermented in oak using wild yeast, producing a more savory, complex wine.

The estate was started in 1985 by David Hohnen, the founder of Cape Mentelle Vineyards in Western Australia’s Margaret River region. Hohnen sold Cloudy Bay to Veuve Clicquot in 1990, but stayed on in charge of its operations. He finally left in 2003, after Veuve Clicquot was bought by the multinational luxury group, LVMH. The result was significantly increased production and an expanded international market, with 100,000 cases of Sauvignon Blanc produced in 2009 alone.

Read more at: https://us.cloudybay.co.nz/

2015 Chateau Latour-Martillac, Pessac-Leognan, France

The Wine: This is a blend of 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Sémillon.

Parker: “The 2015 La Tour Martillac has a gorgeous, complex nose, subtle pear and green apple scents, a whiff of the old sea spray coming in from the Atlantic. The palate is very well balanced with crisp acidity, very complex in the mouth with lip-smacking salinity towards the finish. What a fabulous white Bordeaux from the estate, certainly one of the best that I have ever J encountered. Drink 2020 – 2045.”

J. Suckling: “A brilliant and intense white with oyster shell, lemon, pear and sea salt character. Full body, flavorful finish.”

The Winery: The estate takes its name from the tower which stands in the main courtyard of the château; it is the remnant of a fort built in the 12th century by the ancestors of Montesquieu. The structure occupied a strategic position and controlled the route between Bordeaux and Toulouse. The stones of the fort were used to build the existing château at the endof the 18th century.

The vineyard is divided into two uniform subsectors. On the Martillac plateau, the hill dominates the property and is made up of a patchwork of gravel. These little pebbles deposited there by the river Garonne in the Quaternary period form a finely tuned mix of Quartz, Lydian, Jasper and Flint. These poor soils and drainage constitute an ideal terrain for the vine and in particular for the red grape varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Moving closer to the Garonne, the soils take on a different profile of clay and limestone, still with a gravel surface. It is here that the Merlot variety grows best and also our white grape varieties of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

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

4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 200 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2017 Cloudy Bay, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

Best Buy: 2017 Cloudy Bay, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

5. Technical Notes 

From Wkipedia:

Sauvignon blanc is a green-skinned grape variety that originates from the Bordeaux region of France. The grape most likely gets its name from the French words sauvage (“wild”) and blanc (“white”) due to its early origins as an indigenous grape in South West France.[1] It is possibly a descendant of Savagnin. Sauvignon blanc is planted in many of the world’s wine regions, producing a crisp, dry, and refreshing white varietal wine. The grape is also a component of the famous dessert wines from Sauternes and Barsac. Sauvignon blanc is widely cultivated in France, Chile, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the states of Washington and California in the US. Some New World Sauvignon blancs, particularly from California, may also be called “Fumé Blanc”, a marketing term coined by Robert Mondavi in reference to Pouilly-Fumé.

Depending on the climate, the flavor can range from aggressively grassy to sweetly tropical. In cooler climates, the grape has a tendency to produce wines with noticeable acidity and “green flavors” of grass, green bell peppers and nettles with some tropical fruit (such as passion fruit) and floral (such as elderflower) notes. In warmer climates, it can develop more tropical fruit notes but risk losing a lot of aromatics from over-ripeness, leaving only slight grapefruit and tree fruit (such as peach) notes.Wine experts have used the phrase “crisp, elegant, and fresh” as a favorable description of Sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley and New Zealand.

Sauvignon blanc, when slightly chilled, pairs well with fish or cheese, particularly chèvre. It is also known as one of the few wines that can pair well with sushi. Along with Riesling, Sauvignon blanc was one of the first fine wines to be bottled with a screwcap in commercial quantities, especially by New Zealand producers. The wine is usually consumed young, as it does not particularly benefit from aging, as varietal Sauvignon blancs tend to develop vegetal aromas reminiscent of peas and asparagus with extended aging. Dry and sweet white Bordeaux, including oak-aged examples from Pessac-Léognan and Graves, as well as some Loire wines from Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre are some of the few examples of Sauvignon blancs with aging potential.

From Wine Searcher: 

Sauvignon Blanc is a white-wine grape from western France, now successfully grown in emerging and established wine regions all over the world. While the grape may be more readily associated with the Loire Valley (for its pivotal role in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé), it is more likely to have originated from Bordeaux, where it is typically blended with Semillon.

In the late 20th Century, a new region began to gain a reputation as one of the great Sauvignon Blanc regions of the world: Marlborough, at the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island. The rapid development of the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most dramatic events in the world of wine. The intense and readily accessible flavor of a classic Marlborough “Savvy” (as it is colloquially known in that part of the world) has captured a vast market around the globe, from the United States and Canada to the UK and northern Europe, Australia and Japan. In 2015, Sauvignon Blanc accounted for around 85% of New Zealand’s wine exports.

France and New Zealand, the variety has been relatively successful in New World regions such as California, Chile (particularly the Casablanca and San Antonio valleys) and South Africa. Even in Australia the variety can thrive in the cooler coastal areas of the south. In Europe, the cool, sunny sub-alpine slopes of Alto Adige and Friuli in northern Italy produce high quality Sauvignon Blanc, which is used in blends with native varieties like Friulano or on its own.

Read more here: https://www.wine-searcher.com/grape-435-sauvignon-blanc



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Tasting No. 199 – May 21, 2018 – Wines from Maryland

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenter: Marcello Averbug

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Alberto Gómez, Peter Lapera, Italo Mirkow, Alfonso Sánchez, Germán Zincke

Guests: Jose Brakarz,Maria Claudia y Agilson Perazza,

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview  

Maryland’s wine industry has grown quite rapidly over the past few years. There are over 70 vineyards and wineries in Maryland.  The latest generation of vineyards is interested in producing small quantities and high quality wines.  Many of the newest wineries in Maryland are boutique wineries focused on growing exceptional grapes and on making remarkable wine in small volumes with 5,000 or less bottles annually.  Many produce estate wines.  They do not outsource grapes.  The  main objective of this tasting is to assess a sample of of these wines. These are the wines:

  1. 2016 Mazzaroth Vineyard, Vidal Blanc 
  2. 2015 Big Cork Vineyards, Nebbiolo
  3. 2015 Cool Ridge Vineyard, Cool Red
  4. 2013 Sugar Loaf Vineyard, EVOE!

3. The Menu

  1. Crab cake
  2. Tomato and mozzarella salad
  3. Veal Ravioli with Aurora Sauce
  4. Beef médaillon au vin
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2016 Mazzaroth Vineyard, Vidal Blanc 

The Wine: The wine produced from Vidal tends to be fruity with aroma notes resembling grapefruit and pineapple. There are many who feel that the local Vidal is superior to that grown anywhere else in the world.

Vidal blanc  is a white hybrid grape variety, produced from the Vitis vinifera variety Ugni blanc (also known as Trebbiano Toscano) and another hybrid variety, Rayon d’Or. It is a very winter-hardy variety that manages to produce high sugar levels in cold climates with moderate to high acidity.

The grape was developed in the 1930s by French wine grape breeder Jean Louis Vidal; his primary goal in developing the variety was for the production of Cognac in the Charente-Maritime region of western France. However, due to its winter hardiness this grape variety is cultivated most extensively in the Canadian wine regions of Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, where it is often used for ice wine production. It is also grown throughout the United States where it is used to produce both dry and sweet wines in New York, North Caroline, Michigan, Virginia, Missouri and other states.

The Winery: Mazzaroth a small vineyard located in Middletown, Maryland; a beautiful rural area which is located in the south western part of Frederick County. The original 1/4-acre test vineyard was planted in April 2012 with types that we believed to be the best suited for our site. The vineyard has been expanded every year since and is currently 1.75 acres.  Currently the vineyard is planted with Albariño, Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat and Seyval Blanc.

Read more and see beautiful pictures of the winery  at: https://www.mazzarothvineyard.com/

2015 Big Cork Vineyards – Nebbiolo 

The Wine: Nebbiolo is a grape native to the Piedmont region of Italy. Out of this darkness, this denseness, this stone-wall of a cloud, comes one of Italy’s most noble and notable grapes. A shy shade of red in its youth and often quite tannic, the wine ages into rich and vibrant colors and develops deep aromatics, complex flavors, and matures right out of those sticky tannins. Nebbiolo, at its peak, can be one of the most intense wines alive.

The Big Cork Vineyards 2015 Nebbiolo is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes harvested from the Big Cork estate vineyards in Maryland. The wine was aged in combination new and neutral French and American oak barrels for 18 months.

On the pour and into the glass, this Nebbiolo is indeed a light, but rusty shade of red. Initial aromas are of that wet wood and oak barrels, but also the sweet perfume of ripe raspberries, strawberries, with the hint of “something” funky. On the palate, the Big Cork Vineyards 2015 Nebbiolo is a cool and light bodied at first — though its weight steadily, smoothly increases throughout the tasting, ending in a solid medium-body. The texture is defined by a soft, sand-dune like backbone of tannins

The Winery:  From the winery web page: “We are committed to taking care of our planet for future generations (not to mention, our entire business model is dependent on good soil, clean air and pure water!). We are mindful of our farming practices and use cover crops between our planting rows to keep weeds at bay. We also use a unique raptor program for natural, chemical-free pest control. This way, we ensure a better place to live, work and make really good “grape juice.”

“Our name might be BIG, but what makes us so special is something small. Big Cork’s idyllic microclimate and fertile soil yield smaller grapes with more concentrated flavors, resulting in (you guessed it) BIG, and intensely flavorful wines.”

We’ve got big corks, and we’re proud of ‘em! We use the very best (and biggest) Portuguese 49mm corks that money can buy, and we want to show them off! You won’t find our corks hiding under antiquated foil capsules, and here’s why:

  • Capsules go directly to a landfill and are a recycling burden because of what they are made of.
  • Capsules are hard to remove properly without jagged edges. And let’s be honest, they slow you down.
  • You can’t tell if the cork has leaked if there is a capsule on and intact.
  • Capsules were invented in the olden days to protect the cork from mold and mice…neither of which is a problem anymore with our cellaring capabilities and technologies.
  • Hey, our name isn’t Big Foil Vineyards!

Read more at: http://www.bigcorkvineyards.com/explore/story/

  2015 Cool Ridge Vineyard – Cool Red 

The Wine: This wine is a Bordeaux type blend  of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc,  20% Merlot and 15%  Petit Verdot.  There are no tasting notes available for this wine.  We will need to assess the wine ourselves.

The Winery: This is a 15 acre Estate Vineyard planted in 9 varietals of vinifera grapes. The vintner has selected the vinifera white varieties of Chardonnay, Viognier, Gruner Veltliner,  Riesling, and Pinot Gris and the big reds of  Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Merlot. While all of these varieties provide many challenges, the careful hand pruning in winter to the hand harvesting in fall, and the many footprints in the vineyard in between, create a balanced vine yielding superior fruit.  The goal is to grow grapes and produce wines of the highest quality by maintaining hands-on, personal nurturing of each grape grown and each bottle of wine released. The Piedmont Region of Western Maryland has proven to be ideal for grape growing and fine wine production…

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

  2013 Sugar Loaf Vineyard – EVOE! 

The Wine: Vineyard’s Premium Bordeaux. Blend of 38% Cabernet Franc, 31% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Petit Verdot. Light texture, with a very dry finish. Inky and deep ruby in color. It has intense aromas of blackcurrant and dried cherries with hints of white pepper and roasted almond. The palate is earthy and spicy with flavors of blackcurrant and cherry. Good drinking alone or even wiht sushi. Aged 18 months, in French Oak.

Ranked in the top 10 for number of awards won among wines from this region: The 2013 vintage of this wine won the The TEXSOM International Wine Awards Bronze award in 2017 and 2016.

The Winery: Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard has been embraced by wine enthusiasts since it opened in 2006 for its award-winning vintages that reflect precision and passion in the science and art of winemaking. Grown amid the unique microclimate at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain, the winery’s 22 acres of vines are French vinifera clones grafted on American rootstock and were carefully selected by world-renowned viticulturist Lucie Morton.  We currently grow 5 white varieties and 5 red varieties.These vines produce grapes that we hand-pick, cold-soak, cold-ferment and age in stainless steel or French oak barrels to produce our Bordeaux-inspired reds and crisp whites that continue to be recognized for their uniquely creative flavors and memorable finishes.

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

4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 199 summary of scores

Best Rated Wine: 2015 Cool Ridge Vineyard, Cool Red

Best Buy: 2015 Cool Ridge Vineyard, Cool Red

5. Technical Notes 

Compiled by Marcello Averbug


Winemaking has a long history in our Maryland, dating back as far as the early days of the colony. In February of 1638, Father Andrew White wrote to Cecil Calvert, Lord Baltimore, to urge him to consider viticulture as a viable source of income for the colony. Father White had apparently tasted wine made from the local muscadine grape the previous year and pronounced it “not inferior in its age to any wine of Spaigne” (Lee 1889).

In 1662 Cecil Calvert instructed his son, Governor Charles Calvert, to survey 200 to 300 acres of land in St. Mary’s County for a vineyard (Nix-Gomez 2013). Even before Calvert’s attempt at viticulture, a Frenchman named Tenis Palee was said to have produced eight different varieties of wine in 1648 (McCarthy 2012), but little is known about Palee and his Maryland endeavors. Winemaking did continue in the eighteenth century. The failure of grape cultivation to take off in the Maryland colony may be in large part due to the dominant role that tobacco production took there.

One of Maryland’s claims in wine history is that John Adlum (1759-1836), considered the “Father of American Viticulture”, lived in Havre de Grace and likely had a vineyard at his farm there (Pinney 1989).

The modern production of wine in Maryland can be dated back to 1945, when Philip Wagner opened Maryland’s first winery, Boordy Vineyards, in Baltimore County. Today there are some 60 vineyards in the State, located in the regions of: Eastern Shore, Southern Plain, Western Mountain and Piedmont Plateau.

The diversity of climate and the different types of land allow that there is a variety of grape, this way you get more than 400 different wines produced. Since a few decades ago, the wine industry in Maryland has a growing fast, and more wineries open every year.

Today, the Maryland Wine Festival, one of the oldest and large wine festivals on the East Coast, is held at the Carroll County Farm Museum, in Westminster. It attracts over 20,000 attendees who in 2013 sampled over 200 different wines from forty vineyards.


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Tasting No. 198 – April 30, 2018 – Zinfandel

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Zinfandel Grapes

 1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Mario Aguilar, Alfonso Sanchez

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Emilio Bernal Labrada, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Jaime Jaramillo, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ginger Smart, German Zincke.

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview

Zinfandel wines are produced in various styles from light and medium-bodied to full-bodied, bold and fruit forward with grapes from very old vines that give low volumes and concentrated flavors. The character of the Zinfandels depends not only on the quality of the fruit  and age and care of the vines but very importantly on the elaboration techniques set by the winemaker. The objective of this tasting is to compare three styles of Zinfandel from California and assess their differences and similarities. There is also a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile that combines features from the new and old world relatives. These are the wines:

  1. 2016 Errazuriz Max Reserva, Sauvignon Blanc, Aconcagua Costa, Chile 
  2. 2014 Mount Peak Rattle Snake Zinfandel, Sonoma, California
  3. 2014 Carlisle Du Pratt Zinfandel, Mendocino Ridge, Mendocino, California
  4. 2015 Black Chicken Zinfandel, Robert Biale, Napa, California

3. The Menu

  1. Asparagus and goat cheese salad
  2. Eggplant parmigiana
  3. Pasta with bolognese sauce
  4. Grilled lamb with roasted vegetables
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2016 Errazuriz Max Reserva, Sauvignon Blanc, Aconcagua Costa, Chile

The Wine: Wine Enthusiast: Pungent stony citrus aromas include a distinct whiff of passion fruit. This feels tight, crisp and elegant on the palate, while slightly salty citrus flavors suggest grapefruit and sea brine. A briny finish retains snap and freshness.

The Winery: Don Maximiano Errazuriz founded Viña Errazuriz in 1870 in the Aconcagua Valley, north of Santiago. This valley has cool, rainy winters, hot, dry summers and moist Pacific Ocean breezes–ideal for growing grapes. Don Maximiano sent for the finest clones from France and with tenacity and perseverance transformed this barren land into a world-class vineyard. Today, the tradition of quality lives on with Don Maximiano’s descendant, Eduardo Chadwick–the fifth generation of his family to be involved in the wine business. Eduardo has overseen the modernization of the winemaking technology at this historic estate while maintaining a distinct identity for its wines, dedicated to producing estate grown wines of superior quality.

Read more at: http://www.errazuriz.com/en/who-we-are/history/

 2014 Mount Peak Rattle Snake Zinfandel, Sonoma, California

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Rattlesnake Zinfandel is tribute to the crest called Rattlesnake Hill, the highest point of the Monte Rosso Vineyard and a site famous rattlesnakes living among the vines. During the day, the snakes seek the abundant sunshine and in the evening, they coil inside and around the vines. This Zinfandel is filled with an alluring mouthwatering quality with robust flavors that includes ripe blueberries, blackberries, cherry jam and fig all tied together by a brambly undertone. Accents of white pepper, licorice and smoke weave through wine, deepening throughout the luscious finish.

Robert Parker: Take, for example, the 2014 Zinfandel Rattlesnake, a blend of 96% Zinfandel and 4% Petite Sirah with 85% from the Monte Rosso Vineyard and the balance from other Gallo vineyards. It is aged in all French oak, of which 23% is new. A whopper at 16% natural alcohol, the wine has classic Zinfandel characteristics of Provençal spices, roasted herbs, pepper and oodles of briary black raspberry and black cherry fruit. It cuts a big swath across the palate with loads of glycerin and an unctuous, thick, juicy quality that is provocative. The wine is rich, ripe and ideal for drinking over the next 7-8 years. 5,000+ cases were produced.

The Winery:  Built in 1886, Mount Peak was a marvel of innovation. The three-story, gravity-flow winery was built from the rocks pulled from the dry-farmed Monte Rosso Vineyard. It quickly emerged as one of California’s top ten producers, but the start of Prohibition in 1920 forced the winery to shutter its doors. Like many of California’s pioneering wineries, Mount Peak was abandoned to the elements, a true ghost winery never to reopen. For decades the winery lays silent, as wild vines and towering fig trees seek to reclaim it stone by stone. Over 130 years later only the ruins of the winery remain, yet the vineyard’s still-thriving vines have persisted—standing silent above the fog line, occupying the space between earth and sky. The ghost winery and the world-class Monte Rosso Vineyard are perched at nearly 1,300 feet along the spine of the Mayacamas Mountains, just straddling Napa and Sonoma valleys.

Read more at: http://www.mountpeakwinery.com/home.php

 2014 Carlisle Du Pratt Zinfandel, Mendocino Ridge, Mendocino, California

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Medium-dark to dark garnet-ruby. A fascinating, complex nose of red cherry, cranberry, pine forest, and orange rind. On the palate, an explosion of red cherry liqueur, briar, and cracked black pepper. Classic DuPratt Finishes very clean and long with plenty of verve and snap. For a Zinfandel, this will have a long life. Drink anytime from 2019 through 2030.

Vinous: One of the most distinctive wines in this range, the 2014 Zinfandel DuPratt Vineyard, from a site in Mendocino Ridge, is wonderfully aromatic, nuanced and lifted. Bright red and bluish-hued fruits, violet, lavender and sage are some of the signatures in this beautifully delineated, vibrant, mid-weight Zinfandel. The gorgeous, restrained Zinfandel is showing very well today.

Wine Enthusisast: An amazing amalgam of berry flavors fills this full-bodied and intensely fruity wine. It gushes with blackberry, raspberry and strawberry in the aromas and on the palate, supported by good acidity and moderate tannins. It may be high in alcohol but it’s so jam-packed with red and black fruit that it tastes balanced and appetizing.

The Winery: Carlisle Winery & Vineyards is a small Sonoma County winery best known for its single-vineyard, old-vine Zinfandel, while also specializing in reds from the Rhône varieties. More recently the estate has added two vineyard-blend white wines, and a varietal Grüner Veltliner – the first made in Sonoma County. Many of the wines are produced in limited quantities and are initially only available via the twice-yearly mailing list – for which there is a waiting list.The company was founded in 1998, although owners Mike and Kendall Officer had been making “garagiste” wines for several years before that. Carlisle works with a select band of vineyard owners to source fruit, including multiple old-vine Zinfandel vineyards.

Read more at: http://www.carlislewinery.com/index.html

 2015 Black Chicken Zinfandel, Robert Biale, Napa, California


The Wine: Winemaker Notes Dark color, ripe aromatics and juicy acidity. The nose is full of vibrant black cherry, strawberries, crème fresh, dried flowers, brown and black spices and bread pudding. The entry is soft and weighty and gives way to supple round tannins.

Wine Spectator: Zesty and tightly focused, with cherry, licorice and cedar aromas opening to plum and pepper flavors, finishing with dusty tannins.

Wine Enthusiast:  This perennial favorite lives up to its word-of-mouth goodness, offering fistfuls of blueberry and huckleberry with a juicy length and throughput of acidity. Soft and strong, it’s supple, floral and memorable in its deliciousness.

The Winery: It all started in the 1940’s when 14 year-old Aldo Biale helped his mother to make ends meet by selling to insider Napans – along with eggs and produce -some of the family’s homemade Zinfandel. Over the old “party line” phone system, the code words “a Black Chicken” signified a jug of bootleg wine… and kept nosy neighbors and the authorities from finding out about Aldo’s underground Zinfandel operation!

(Taken from wine-searcher.comRobert Biale Vineyards is a Californian wine producer with vineyards located in Napa Valley and Sonoma County. The majority of the portfolio is dedicated to California’s iconic red wine grape variety, Zinfandel – the original grape variety planted by founder Pietro Biale in 1937.

Aldo Biale took on the management of these Zinfandel vines after his father’s death in 1942. Due to strict government regulations on the sale of alcohol at that time, Aldo was not able to legally sell his “homemade” wine. To get around this issue he sold his wine under the code name “Gallina Nera”, or Black Chicken, a name he adapted from Chianti’s symbolic Gallo Nero rooster. In this way, customers were able to ring up and order jugs of Gallina Nera, along with other produce from Aldo’s ranch, right under the noses of the authorities.

In 1991, Robert Biale carried on his family’s winemaking history with the establishment of Robert Biale Vineyards. To this day the estate still produces its flagship Black Chicken Zinfandel wine primarily from the Biale Winery vineyard in the heart of Oak Knoll District. Robert Biale Vineyards also sources Oak Knoll District-grown Zinfandel grapes from its Aldo’s and Black Chicken vineyards and works with established winegrowers and producers across Napa Valley and Sonoma County to supplement its own vineyard yields.

A small selection of varietal Petite Sirah and Sangiovese wines complement the estate’s extensive Zinfandel portfolio, along with red blends of grape varieties including Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Grenache and Syrah grown on estate-partnered vineyards in California.

Read more at: http://biale.com/

4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 198 summary of scores

Best Rated Wine: 2016 Errazuriz Max Reserva, Sauvignon Blanc, Aconcagua Costa, Chile 

Best Buy: 2016 Errazuriz Max Reserva, Sauvignon Blanc, Aconcagua Costa, Chile


5. Technical Notes 

The Zinfandel grape is the quintessential California grape where it has beautifully adapted.  Genetic studies identify it as a mutation of the Crijenak originally from Croatia.  Some say they are descended from the Primitivo Italian grape, but the evidence gives that the Zinfandel and the Primitivo are both mutations of the first although there is still some discussion.

Zinfandel is an extremely versatile grape that can produce from low quality sweet wines to outstanding quality wines.  For example, in the 1980s, white Zinfandel began to show up in California, and many believed that there was a white grape variety, but it was not.  This wine was produced by minimizing the contact of the juice with the skin of the grape resulting a light rosé wine.  The high-quality reds of the Zinfandel are produced with the best techniques and result in intense flavors of red and black fruits, spices and large body.  Wines made of the Zinfandel grape can range in style from those like Beaujolais to strong high alcohol wines reminiscent of Oporto passing through styles similar to Cabernet that age well.  The versatility of the grape therefore gives the winemaker much flexibility in its handling and therefore the quality depends on his/her expertise and tastes.

The grape is resistant, high production and vigorous and likes warm climates, so it reaches high levels of sugar and therefore alcohol.  Its management in the vineyard is difficult because the bunches are very tight and can get sick with fungi.  In addition, the grapes tend to ripen unevenly in the same cluster.  This trend can be aggravated by poor water management.  The harvest must be done frequently in several passes through the vineyard for quality wines adding to cost.

Because of its resilience, there are vineyards over 100 years old in various parts of the world.  Its cultivation has spread to South Africa, South America and Australia mainly.

The wines tend to lose their fruit from three or four years and spices and alcohol tends to become more pronounced.  It is therefore recommended to drink them between the three and five years of ageing in the bottle.  They are excellent for accompanying strong roasts and avocado like lamb stew.



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Reflexion de la Semana

Felices Pascuas a todos!



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Tasting No. 197 – March 26, 2018- Beaujolais

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Beaujolais Wine Country – Source: Commons.Wikimendia.org

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Peter Lapera, Ricardo Zavaleta

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Peter Lapera, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago, Pedro Turina, Xavi Vila, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. Tasting Overview  

This is the first time we have a tasting session devoted to Beaujolais.  This appellation is located near Lyon, between Cotes de Rhone to the south and Burgundy to the North.  The wines are made from Gamay grapes and are light bodied, with lots of young fruit and high acidity. The objective is then to assess three different Beaujolais and learn the character and traits of this wine.

These are the wines:

  1. 2016, Argami, Old Vines Verdejo , Rueda
  2. 2015 Chateau des Deduits – Fleurie
  3. 2017 Jean-Claude Debeaune- Beaujolais
  4. 2015 Domain Lathuiliere Gravallon- Morgon

3. The Menu

  1. Vegetable soup
  2. Cheese Ravioli in Aurora Sauce
  3. Greens salad
  4. Grilled Salmon, fried potatoes and vegetables
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2016, Argami, Old Vines Verdejo Rueda  

The Wine: (Wine Enthusiast) Melon and apple aromas are at first stony, then more mealy. This feels sturdy enough, with dry yeasty white-fruit flavors. On the finish, this turns increasingly bready, yeasty and less fresh.

(From Wine Searcher) Verdejo is the aromatic grape variety behind the crisp white wines of Rueda in central Spain. It is by far the most planted variety in this part of the country, and is produced both varietally and as the major component of a blend with either Viura or Sauvignon Blanc. Full-bodied Verdejo wines are held in high regard, displaying herbaceous, nutty characters with balanced acidity and some cellaring potential.

The Winery:  There is no information about this producer.

  2015 Chateau des Deduits – Fleurie

The Wine: (Wine Enthusiast) More tannic structure than fruit at this stage, this is a firm, mineral-textured wine. A smoky, spicy character gives complexity, but also is still masks the red-currant fruits. Drink from 2016.

(Wine Advocate): Wine Advocate-Fleurie, Beaujolais, France – “..Offers simple, clean blackberry and blueberry fruit on the nose, a touch of vanilla pod in the background. The palate is medium-bodied with sweet red fruit, a pleasant salinity at the back of the throat with fine definition and brightness on the finish.”

(From Wine Searcher)Gamay (Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc in full) is a grape variety that is most famous for producing the light, fruit-driven red wines of Beaujolais. While the variety offers fresh, red-fruit and candied aromas, it typically delivers little in the way of flavor concentration and body weight, giving light, simple wines. That said, some well-made examples can be deep and complex.

The Winery:  (Wine Searcher) Georges Duboeuf is one of the largest and most familiar negociant and winemaking businesses in France. It had its origins in the Maconnais region of Burgundy, but today calls the slightly more southern region of Beaujolais its home.

Duboeuf produces a staggering 3 million cases of wine annually. One fifth of that is dedicated solely to Beaujolais Nouveau, the wine released just after harvest every year. The grapes are sourced from all over Beaujolais, including from some of the cru villages: Brouilly, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent and Saint-Amour, to name a few. Gamay is the dominant grape here, as well as Chardonnay for the white wines.

Georges Duboeuf founded his winery on land that had been cultivated with vines for more than three centuries. Today, the estate works with more than 400 winegrowers in the Beaujolais region alone to ensure the quality of the fruit. Production is overseen by Franck Deboeuf, who is considered to be one of the key specialists in Beaujolais, its terroir and its wine. He has shifted production to focus more on Beaujolais Nouveau.

There are two parts of the Georges duBoeuf portfolio: the estate wines produced under his name and label, and the wines produced from surrounding domaines under their own labels, but as part of the wider Duboeuf portfolio. Deboeuf also produces wines under the generic Bourgogne and Vin de Pays – IGP appellations and therefore can use a wealth of other varieties including Grenache, Syrah, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

Read more at: http://www.duboeuf.com/

 2017 Jean-Claude Debeaune- Beaujolais

The Wine: Beaujolais, Burgundy, France- Le Nouveau est arrivée! Bursting with fresh berry notes, this delicious quaffer is fresh, easy-drinking and designed for fun. Perfect for your holiday parties and dinners, it will pair well with appetizers and poultry dishes

The Winery: There is little information about this specific winery. Beaujolais Villages is the appellation for red, white and rosé wines from an area made up of 38 villages in the north of the Beaujolais region. The hilly, granitic terroir here is considered superior to that of the flatter lands in the south of Beaujolais and, as a result, Beaujolais Villages wines are considered to be of a higher quality than those of the straight Beaujolais appellation. These light, juicy wines, based overwhelmingly on the Gamay grape variety, display varietal characters of red fruit and spice.

The Beaujolais Villages appellation accounts for around a quarter of the Beaujolais region’s total annual output, most of which is red wine, with just small amounts of white and rosé wine produced. The appellation law has slightly different rules surrounding vinification and permitted yields than the more generic Beaujolais appellation, giving rise to a slightly fuller-bodied, more concentrated style of wine. While most Beaujolais Villages wines are made for immediate consumption, some of the best examples can be cellared for up to five years.

Most Beaujolais Villages wines are produced by negociants, and are made up of grapes that come from a number of the official villages. However, if the wine is made from grapes that come solely from one village, then that wine may have the village name appended to the Beaujolais Villages title. This condition does not apply to the villages of the ten Beaujolais crus, however, as they each have their own separate appellations.

Read more at: https://www.wine-searcher.com/regions-beaujolais+villages

  2015 Domain Lathuiliere Gravallon- Morgon

The Wine: The wine has just the right density and weight for a Morgon. It comes from an 18-acre vineyard that gives a dark rich wine that is packed with tannins as well as black-cherry fruit. It is a complex wine, firm while also fruity. Drink starting from 2017.

The Winery: (From the Producer) Below are a few facts and figures about the estate : 15 ha of vineyards in the heart of the Beaujolais region, in six different appellation areas

Red, White or Rosé Beaujolais: 2 ha

Beaujolais villages : 1 ha 24 ares
Beaujolais Crus :
Chiroubles : 50 ares
Fleurie : 1ha 91 ares
Morgon : 7 ha 64 ares
Brouilly Pisse Vieille : 1 ha 82 ares (1st harvest in 2009)

I refuse to slot in to one pigeon hole or another as far as viticulture is concerned. The way I see vine growing is my very own; it isn’t conventional, organic or biodynamic. My philosophy is simple: “to produce the very best grapes possible”. What I do then is to tend my vines in a “reasoned” way, where observation is my main guide. Any work I can do in the vines as a means to getting top quality grapes is done. Our vines mainly grow on slopes of 20 to 40%, this makes some mechanization quite difficult, if not impossible. Consequently, most of the work in the vines is done by hand (pruning, weeding, tying-up and trimming etc.). The harvest is also manual, with strict sorting to only keep the very best of what the vines have to offer.
As far as treatments are concerned, the use of plant health products is a requisite to producing quality grapes. Our vines are protected using eco-friendly or ‘integrated’ vine growing techniques. We try to minimize treatments and have banished chemical products for treatment and fertilizing. For the last three years, in our plots where mechanization is easiest, we have totally stopped the use of herbicides, replacing it with shallow ploughing or simply allowing the grass to grow between the vines.

Read more at: http://www.lathuiliere.fr/en/

4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: Summary of Tasting Scores 197

Best Rated Wine: 2017 Jean-Claude Debeaune- Beaujolais

Best Buy: 2017 Jean-Claude Debeaune- Beaujolais


5. Technical Notes 




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Tasting No. 196 – February 26, 2017- The Effect of Aging

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

 1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Alberto Gomez, Jorge Requena, Germán Zincke

Participants: Mario Aguilar¸ Jorge Claro, Clara Estrada, Alberto Gómez, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Ricardo Santiago, Pedro Turina, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. Tasting Overview  

This tasting includes two reds Gran Cru Classé Chateau Giscours Margaux, Medoc  from different years elaborated following the same techniques and variety blends. The basic difference is their aging. There is a third red Appellation Margaux Controlee form the same Chateau but made from younger vines and subject to shorter aging time than the  other two.  The  main objectives of this tasting are to assess the differences among these wines and identify them individually.

These are the wines:

  1. 2016 Château Côte Montpezat Cuvee Compostelle Blanc
  2. 2014 Chateau Giscours, Gran Cru Classé
  3. 2010 Chateau Giscours, Gran Cru Classé
  4. 2012 La Sirene de Giscours, Appellation Margaux Controlee

3. The Menu

  1. Sea Food Salad
  2. Cheese Platter
  3. Pasta aglio e olio
  4. Grilled Tenderloin with Mushrooms and Brown Sauce
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2016 Château Côte Montpezat Cuvee Compostelle Blanc

The Wine: Indicative Blend: 40% sauvignon blanc, 30% sauvignon gris, 30% sémillon.  Elegant and fleshy, fresh and fruity, mineral.
In the mouth, we discover citrus aromas accompanied by exotic or menthol.

The Winery: Fourty kms to the east of Bordeaux, in the extension of the Saint-Emilion appellation extend designations Puisseguin St Emilion and Côtes de Castillon appellation become since 2008 Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux.It is on these lands in clay and limestone which are born great wines that are planted the vines of Bessineau Vineyards:

– the  Castle Coast MONTPEZAT (30 hectares)  located Belves Castillon – AOC Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux

– the CASTLE HIGH BERNAT (5.5 Hectares) located in Puisseguin – AOC Puisseguin Saint-Emilion

Read more at: http://www.cote-montpezat.com/

2014 Chateau Giscours, Gran Cru Classé

The Wine: A complex nose of earth, tobacco, mint, black cherry and raspberries, this wine is soft and polished and there is a fresh, unadulterated plum and fresh, black raspberry sensation in the silky finish. The wine was produced from a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot.

Polished tannins, pure, ripe, fresh,  sweet, dark, red fruits, and a silky textured, fresh finish are really already showing well, with little effort. As this ages, it could score higher.

The Winery:  The 102 hectare vineyard of Chateau Giscours is planted to 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. The current plantings show a marked increase in Cabernet Sauvignon. Previously, more than 50% of their vineyards were planted to Merlot in the mid 1990’s.

The terroir is mostly gravel with sand and some limestone in the soil. The vineyard has 3 peaks, with the highest level of elevation reaching 32 meters. On average, the vines are close to 45 years of age. However, the estate has old vines that are up to 70 years of age, which are both Cabernet Sauvignon and some Merlot. The vine density is on average 10,000 vines per hectare. The higher levels of density represent the new plantings.

The vineyard of Chateau Giscours is divided into 43 separate plots. Today, 20% of their vineyards are farmed using biodynamic techniques. That is expected to continue increasing over the next few years. The best terroir is located directly in front of the chateau, which is also where you find their oldest vines.

To produce the wine of Chateau Giscours, vinification takes place in a combination of stainless steel vats and concrete tanks. There are 26 stainless steel tanks and 42 concrete vats that range in size from 20 hectoliters all the way up to 250 hectoliters. 80% of the Malolactic fermentation takes place in tank and 20% occurs in barrel. The wine of Chateau Giscours is aged in 50% new, French oak barrels for an average of 18 months.

While Chateau Giscours is a traditional Bordeaux estate, they were one of the first properties in the Medoc to embrace optical sorting technology. In fact, they were also one of the first estates to employ gravity to filling the vats in the late 1800’s as you read earlier. The production of Chateau Giscours is close to 25,000 cases per year. There is a second wine, La Sirene de Giscours.

Read more about this winery here: Chateau Giscours Margaux Bordeaux

2012 La Sirene de Giscours, Appellation Margaux Controlee

The Wine: Grape varieties: 60 % Cabernet Sauvignon – 32 % Merlot – 5 % Cabernet Franc – 3% Petit Verdot .

(WS) “A second wine is not created by taking the leftovers that you can’t use for your first wine and making something out of it. That’s not at all how it’s done. You have to see your wines as a family tree.”

 2010 Chateau Giscours, Gran Cru Classé

The Wine: A complex nose of earth, tobacco, mint, black cherry and raspberries, this wine is soft and polished and there is a fresh, unadulterated plum and fresh, black raspberry sensation in the silky finish.

The wine was produced from a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot.Polished tannins, pure, ripe, fresh,  sweet,  dark,  red fruits, and a silky textured, fresh finish are really already showing well, with little effort. As this ages,  it could score higher.  – Tasted Feb 4, 2017

 4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: Summary of Tasting Scores 196

The participants chose the 2010 Chateau Guscours as the best wine by a large majority. The identified the wine as being more elegant, integrated, less fruity  and having more complex earthly, coffee, wood and chocolate flavors than the other two reds.

Best Rated Wine: 2010 Chateau Guiscours, Margaux

Best Buy: 2012 La Sirene de Giscours, Margaux

5. Technical Notes 

Jairo Sanchez compiled the following technical notes mosstly from Wkipedia.

Margaux AOC.  

Margaux is a wine growing commune and Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) within Haut-Médoc in Bordeaux, centred on the village of Margaux. Its leading (premier cru) château is also called Margaux. It contains 21 cru classé châteaux, more than any other commune in Bordeaux. It is on the left bank of the Gironde. It is the southernmost appellation in the Médoc. The soil is the thinnest in the Médoc, with the highest proportion of gravel. The gravel provides good drainage. The forest to the west shelters the vines from Atlantic breezes. Margaux contains 1413 hectares of vineyards, making it the second largest appellation in the Haut-Médoc (after Saint-Estèphe).

Cabernet Sauvignon is the predominant grape, but it is invariably blended with other grapes. As with all red Bordeaux, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec may also be included in the blend.   The wine is known for its perfumed fragrance. The dominant fruit flavour is blackcurrant. The wine from the southern part of the appellation (i.e. Cantenac, Arsac and Labarde) tends to be more powerful but less fragrant and leans more towards plum. Wine from Margaux may be labelled as Haut-Médoc (usually wine which the château considers inferior to its main offering and wishes to market under a different label). It would also be possible (though unusual) for the wine to be labelled using the Médoc AOC or one of the Regional Bordeaux AOCs.

The Aging of Wine ( Source: Wkipedia)

As red wine ages, the harsh tannins of its youth gradually give way to a softer mouthfeel. An inky dark color will eventually lose its depth of color and begin to appear orange at the edges, and then later eventually turning brown. These changes occur due to the complex chemical reactions of the phenolic compounds of the wine. In processes that begin during fermentation and continue after bottling, these compounds bind together and aggregate. Eventually these particles reach a certain size where they are too large to stay suspended in the solution and precipitate out. The presence of visible sediment in a bottle will usually indicate a mature wine. The resulting wine, with this loss of tannins and pigment, will have a paler color and taste softer, less astringent. The sediment, while harmless, can have an unpleasant taste and is often separated from the wine by decanting.

During the aging process, the perception of a wine’s acidity may change even though the total measurable amount of acidity is more or less constant throughout a wine’s life. This is due to the esterification of the acids, combining with alcohols in complex array to form esters. In addition to making a wine taste less acidic, these esters introduce a range of possible aromas. Eventually the wine may age to a point where other components of the wine (such as a tannins and fruit) are less noticeable themselves, which will then bring back a heightened perception of wine acidity. Other chemical processes that occur during aging include the hydrolysis of flavor precursors which detach themselves from glucose molecules and introduce new flavor notes in the older wine and aldehydes become oxidized. The interaction of certain phenolics develops what is known as tertiary aromas which are different from the primary aromas that are derived from the grape and during fermentation.

As a wine starts to mature, its bouquet will become more developed and multi-layered. While a taster may be able to pick out a few fruit notes in a young wine, a more complex wine will have several distinct fruit, floral, earthy, mineral and oak derived notes. The lingering finish of a wine will lengthen. Eventually the wine will reach a point of maturity, when it is said to be at its “peak”. This is the point when the wine has the maximum amount of complexity, most pleasing mouthfeel and softening of tannins and has not yet started to decay. When this point will occur is not yet predictable and can vary from bottle to bottle. If a wine is aged for too long, it will start to descend into decrepitude where the fruit tastes hollow and weak while the wine’s acidity becomes dominant.

The natural esterification that takes place in wines and other alcoholic beverages during the aging process is an example of acid-catalysed esterification. Over time, the acidity of the acetic acid and tannins in an aging wine will catalytically protranate other organic acids (including acetic acid itself), encouraging ethanol to react as a nucleophile. As a result, ethyl acetate – the ester of ethanol and acetic acid—is the most abundant ester in wines. Other combinations of organic alcohols (such as phenol-containing compounds) and organic acids lead to a variety of different esters in wines, contributing to their different flavours, smells and tastes. Of course, when compared to sulfuric acid conditions, the acid conditions in a wine are mild, so yield is low (often in tenths or hundredths of a percentage point by volume) and take years for ester to accumulate.

Read more about the aging of wine here: The aging of wine

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