Tasting No. 222 (Virtual) – September 28, 2020 – Petit Verdot

Club del Vino


Tasting Overview

Courtesy of winesofchile.org

The  tasting is limited to two wines proposed by the presenters as part of the tasting series on varietals. The main objective of the tasting is to find out the salient and specific features of Petit Verdot and the character of the wines made of this grape.

Petit Verdot is a variety of red wine grape, principally used in classic Bordeaux blends. It ripens much later than the other varieties in Bordeaux, often too late, so it fell out of favor in its home region. When it does ripen it adds tannin, color and flavor, in small amounts, to the blends.

Even though Petit Verdot is mainly used in blends, it is also used to produce varietal wines like the ones included in this tasting. Petit Verdot wines exhibit aromas of black fruit ranging from plum, blackberry and blueberry to slightly lighter black cherry. Flavors reflect the aromas with added complexity of herbal and floral notes such as violet, lavender, sage, and dried herbs. Most producers will oak age this wine to soften it and add flavors of vanilla, hazelnut and mocha. And occasionally, the wine can be a bit smoky and rustic, like smoked meats. The wine is dry and full-bodied with high tannin, bold fruit and medium-plus acidity.

Petit Verdot pairs extremely well with lamb. Other suitable meats include roast pork, burgers, and Chinese BBQ pork and beef. Petit Verdot also works well with Mexican dishes such as adobo and mole.

Type of Tasting: Open

Wines presenters: Jorge Claro, Cristián Santelices

The reference wine is:

2016 Ruca Malen, Petit Verdot, Mendoza, Argentina

The second wine is:

2014 Perez Cruz Chaski, Petit Verdot, Maipo Valley, Chile

 The menu is up to each participant discretion

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Jorge Claro, Clara Estrada, Michelle Fryer,  Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Orlando Mason, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago, Carlos Silvani.

Information on the Wines

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

2016, Ruca Malen, Petit Verdot, Mendoza, Argentina 

The Wine: The intense aromas of fresh plums and cherries are harmoniously balanced with subtle notes of sweet roses and spices and soft hints of caramel, vanilla and moka. A full-bodied wine, concentrated fruity flavors, a balanced acidity and a velvety texture. Sweet tannins last through a long and persistent finish. Ruca Malen Petit Verdot is aged in new and second-use 80% French and 20% American barrels for 12 months.

Variety: 100% Petit Verdot; Store in Barrica: 12  months,  80%French barrel and 20% American; Alcohol: 13. 4%; Location: Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza

The Winery: Ruca Malen’s dream began in 1998 when Jean Pierre Thibaud and Jacques Louis de Montalembert confessed the illusion of having their winery in Mendoza with a portfolio of premium quality wines. With the addition of Noelia Torres in 2017 as an enologist, the winery began to travel a path of innovation presenting a completely renewed wine portfolio. Combining grapes from Luján de Cuyo and Valle de Uco in most of its lines, Noelia proposes wines of cosmopolitan palate and local value that reflect the restless and bold spirit of the winery, and bets on the conquest of curious consumers by nature, for whom wine is synonymous with enjoyment.

Read more abot the winery here: https://www.bodegarucamalen.com/en/

The Mendoza Wine Region: See notes about the Mendoza Region here: The Mendoza Wine Region

2014, Perez Cruz Chaski, Petit Verdot, Maipo Valley, Chile 

The Wine: The 2015 Petit Verdot, under the Quechua name of Chaski, which means “messenger”, is complex and elegant, with grapes harvested by hand in the Fundo Liguai de la Viña, in the Maipo Alto, has notes of red and black fruits, herbs, tobacco, black pepper and species. On the palate it is structured, fresh and balanced, with a particular mineral note, silky and firm tannins, and a delicious and powerful harmony. Ideal to serve at 18oC, and enjoy it with red meats, Italian food, ripe cheeses.

The grapes that give rise to Chaski Petit Verdot were harvested during the second week of May, seeking the correct maturation of the tannins and aromas of the variety. Clusters and berries were manually selected at special tables, and then the grapes were introduced to the pond gravitationally.

The extraction was performed by cold pre fermentative maceration for 5 days at 9oC. During the alcoholic fermentation careful pumpings were made to obtain a soft but concentrated structure. Finally, the total maceration period was 25 days. Malolactic fermentation took place in French oak barrels.

Other Tasting Notes: The aroma is complex and elegant, highlighting its character and identity, with notes of red fruits, herbs, tobacco, black pepper and species. On the palate it is well structured, fresh and balanced, with a particular mineral note, its tannins are soft and the final is long and persistent.

Variety: 100% Petit Verdot; Store in Barrica: 14 months, 100% French barrel (50% new and 50% first use); Yield: 4.5 ton /ha; Alcohol: 14. 5%; Harvest: Mid-May. Total Acidity: 3.66 gr/l; Method: Harvest by hand; Maceration: 25 days.

The Winery: Pérez Cruz is a family vineyard specializing in red wines produced and bottled in origin, reflecting the character and identity of Maipo Alto. Located in Fundo Liguai, Huelquén s/n, Paine, Maipo Alto, Chile. On the foothills of the Andes range, its soils are deep, stony and low in nutrients. The climate is Mediterranean, with dry summers of great luminosity and thermal amplitude. Ideal combination to produce high quality wines.

With more than 12 years of experience, Viña Pérez Cruz continues to stand out for its wines from Maipo Alto, where the quality of the vineyards has achieved the elaboration of great exponents today recognized worldwide. Robert Parker gives great ratings to Viña Perez Cruz. The latest edition of Wine Advocates magazine on June 30, Robert Parker delivers 92 points to three wines from the Vineyard.

A 50% jump in your wine shipments around the world is what you hope to give the Pérez Cruz Vineyard – linked to the family of the same name – between this year and 2021. According to the company’s general manager, José Ignacio Laso, the plan is to go from exporting about 100 thousand boxes, and reaching the end of the decade at 150 thousand boxes. The investment was US$ 15 million to increase its production capacity.

Read more about the Winery here: https://www.perezcruz.com/en/vina/

The Maipó Valley: (Wine-Searcher.com) The Maipo Valley is the home of viticulture in Chile. The first vines were planted around Santiago at the city’s birth in the 1540s, but it wasn’t until the 1800s that viticulture began to expand significantly, as an indirect result of entrepreneurial Chileans growing rich from the mineral wealth found in the Atacama Desert to the north. It became fashionable for these wealthy individuals to travel to France, and they inevitably returned home with vines to plant in their new, French-influenced wine estates. The vineyards of Cousiño Macul, Concha Y Toro and Santa Rita were developed during this period, and they remain today important names in the Chilean wine industry. Read more about Maipó Valley here: https://www.wine-searcher.com/regions-maipo+valley

Similar Wines

Two participants tasted different Petit Verdot as follows:

2015 Terre Di Talamo Per Cecco, Marema, Toscana, Petit Verdot. The color is dark purple, strong in tannins. A full bodied wine with 14.5% alcohol content. It has a good long finish. It benefits from opening and airing the wine a few hours before drinking.

James Suckling (93). “This is a linear and tight Petit Verdot with black berry, licorice and ink character. Full yet tight and very polished with fantastic focused fruit and precision. Long and flavorful”. US$ 35  at Total Wine.

 Hello World Petit Verdot, La Mancha, Spain. The cork is  champagne-like with a larger head and a short neck; the cork cover had a small strip to pull it and break the packaging, and then the cork could be easily removed by gently pushing it upwards. No corkscrew or sharp instrument is required to  open the wine.

The color is a deep ruby. The aroma and initial taste were unpleasant. Barely open, the aroma struck me as very unpleasant (drugstore). The taste very acidic and strong. A half hour later I tried it again and the initial unpleasant sensation had disappeared while it felt unscented, with a distant smell of wood. The acidity had also disappeared. Then I tried it with two cheeses, a French Comté and a Manchego, that paired very well with the wine. The quality of the wine improved markedly as did the value for money. The wine had long legs or tears and a reasonable finish. US$ 10 at Total Wine.

Technical Notes 

Compiled by Jorge Claro and Cristián Santelices

Originating in Bordeaux, where the soil produces light wines, the Petit Verdot grape was always used to enhance them, thanks to its structure and supplementary color,it is used in small quantities when it comes to providing character to some of the most important labels of Médoc. But without a doubt it is the grape less appreciated by the bordeleses, since in Galic lands it provides a rustic, vigorous and quite herbal character. This, however, does not detract from merit or importance. Quite the opposite.

In the New World, however, it is increasingly cultivated and appreciated in areas such as Argentina, Australia, California and Chile to achieve an opposite effect: softening the power of Cabernet Sauvignon.

La Petit Verdot grape demands work in the vineyard, because it is a high yielding strain. Hence many prefer to avoid it. However, when given due attention and care, petit Verdot develops a very different personality in dry and sunny climates. This allows another ripening point, which makes your wines voluptuous, but at the same time rounded.  A common feature of the New World Petit Verdot is The aging in barrels for a period never less than the year, time that these reds demand to round their character.

In Argentina and Chile,more and more people think that this grape has the potential to write its own history from varietal wines, even if these pose a new challenge for viticulture. In this sense, Argentina is taking its first steps in exploring Petit Verdot as a varietal. Lover of the warm climate, it expresses its full potential in Mendoza and La Rioja, where it reaches its optimum maturity. In many respects it resembles Tannat and Malbec: dark color, high doses of anthotians and complex nose. The truth is that it gives rise to wines of great character and elegant finish, but above all,different. As with Malbec, it demonstrated very good adaptability to the climates and soils of Mendoza, San Juan and La Rioja, where it adds about 600 hectares. Today, in tune with those achievements, many embark on a new challenge with Petit Verdot as a standard.

In Chile, the red grape pichintún (a litlle bit) is expanding. At the last wine fairs, in the midst of the new and old country stars, País and Cinsault, a new force has appeared: that of the Petit Verdot. A red grape strain that has been in our vineyards for decades, but traditionally only a “pichintún” has been used, for its uncontrolled strength of tannins and acidity.

In Chile, Petit Verdot is known to give strength and freshness to the great Carmenére de Colchagua. We know it because it is one of the secondary that form the mixture of the great reds of Bordeaux, in the background always, to leave cabernet sauvignon and Merlot in front.

Why it appears now more forcefully and accessible, and not before, it’s a good question. Answering it leads us to think of the important, if small group of curious people who are always looking for the new and different. For them, therefore, the Petit Verdot was ready to be the protagonist with its great strength of tannins and very rich acidity. These two features are important when you want to make a wine that can withstand the years of keeping in your bottle, but not necessarily wines to drink and enjoy now.

The follwing references have been used for this Blog on Petit Verdot

  1. Historia Petit Verdot (Wine folly). https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/guide-to-petit-verdot-red-wine/
  2. Historia Petit Verdot (MasterClass). https://www.masterclass.com/articles/learn-about-petit-verdot-grapes-wine-region-and-pairings#where-does-petit-verdot-grow
  3. Historia Petit Verdot (WSJ). https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB961160609233601386
  4. Historia Petit Verdot (Wikipedia). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petit_Verdot
  5. Historia Petit Verdot (intoxreport). https://intoxreport.com/2011/11/15/petit-verdot-goes-gangbusters-in-ripley-ohio%E2%80%94believe-it-or-not/
  6. Historia Petit Verdot (the wine cellar insider). https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/wine-topics/wine-educational-questions/grapes-for-wine-making-flavor-characteristics-explained/petit-verdot-wine-grapes-flavor-character-history/
  7. Vino Chaski. https://massanois.com/product/perez-cruz-petit-verdot-chaski-2015-750ml6/
  8. Vino Chaski. https://www.vivino.com/vina-perez-cruz-petit-verdot-chaski/w/1231597
  9. Vino Chaski. https://www.perezcruz.com/lanzamiento-2011-chaski-petit-verdot-2008/
  10. Vino Chaski Ficha.  https://www.perezcruz.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Chaski-Petit-Verdot-2014-Es-Web.pdf
  11. Uva Petit Verdot en Chile. https://www.winesofchile.org/en/chile-a-wine-producing-country/wine-diversity/petit-verdot/
  12. Uva Petit Verdot en Chile. https://www.lanacion.com.ar/lifestyle/cinco-petit-verdot-para-los-que-quieren-probar-un-vino-distinto-nid2064041/
  13. Vino Ruca Malen. https://www.southernwines.com/ruca-malen-terroir-series-petit-verdot-2015/wine-online.cfm
  14. Vino Ruca Malen. https://www.wine-searcher.com/find/ruca+malen+terroir+series+petit+verdot+uco+valley+mendoza+argentina
  15. Vino Ruca Malen. http://opiciwines.com/wines/petit-verdot-reserva/
  16. Vino Ruca Malen. https://www.bodegarucamalen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Ruca-Reserva-Petit-Verdot.pdf
  17. Uva Petit Verdot en Argentina. https://blog.winesofargentina.com/es/petit-verdot-un-tinto-que-conquista-curiosos/


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Tasting No. 221 (Virtual) – August 31, 2020 – Cabernet Franc

Club del Vino


Valle de Uco

Tasting Overview

Cabernet Franc Grapes
Courtesy Bordeaux.com

The  tasting is limited to one wine proposed by the presenters according to the existing program that focuses on varietals.    The main objective of the tasting is to find out the salient and specific features of Cabernet Franc and the character of the wines made of this grape. Cabernet Franc is normally found in blends with other red grapes, mostly but not only, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot  (Bordeaux), to contribute aromatic complexity and moderate tannins. Cabernet Franc produces outstanding wines in its own right like the ones found in St. Emilión , the middle Loire and Argentina. Wines made of Cabernet Franc are lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, less tannic, with fruity and herbaceous aromas. They pair very well with almost all kinds beef, poultry, fish and hard or semi soft cheeses.

Type of Tasting: Open

Wines presenters: Orlando Mason, Alfonso Sanchez

The reference wine is:

2017 Catena Appellation San Carlos Cabernet Franc, Mendoza, Argentina 

The menu is up to each participant discretion

Participants: Jorge Claro, Ruth Connoly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán,  Alberto Gómez,  Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Orlando Mason, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago,  Pedro Turina, German Zincke

Information on the Wine

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

2107 Catena Appellation San Carlos Cabernet Franc, Mendoza, Argentina 

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: The Catena Cabernet Franc Appellation El Cepillo presents a purple color with red ruby tones. The nose offers elegant aromas of spices, and fresh herbs as thyme and rosemary, red berries, cassis and raspberries, with layers of cedar. The mouthfeel is full and rich with cassis, raspberries flavors and notes of black pepper and oregano . The finish is bright and fresh with finely grained tannins. This versatile wine is fantastic paired with rich meat dishes such as stews and braises, Latin dishes with heat and a little kick such as enchiladas or moles and lamb dishes and tomato based pasta and sauces. This wine is also delicious paired with dark chocolate and berries and also served alongside a cheese plate.

RP 92 points: “The Appellation range keeps growing, and the new name this time is the 2016 Appellation San Carlos Cabernet Franc, produced with grapes from the most fashionable red variety at the moment. It is from 20-year-old vines in El Cepillo, one of the cooler places of San Carlos in Valle de Uco. Furthermore, 2016 was a particularly cool year, so the wine is really a “cool climate” example. It matured in French oak barrels for one year before bottling. It has tons of black pepper aromas and flavors, balsamic and with perfect ripeness. 2016 has produced outstanding wines in this Appellation range.

 Vinous 91 points: Moderately saturated red-ruby. Aromas of plum, herbs and peppery spices. Silky, fine-grained and light on its feet, conveying a pronounced peppery herb element but also lovely intensity and floral lift to its dark berry, licorice and dark chocolate flavors. Finishes with broad, ripe, tooth-dusting tannins and terrific spicy length. This wine can’t quite match the 2017 version for concentration or suavity but still offers terrific typicity and savory minerality. A superb example of 2016.

The Winery: Bodega Catena Zapata is one of Argentina’s high altitude Malbec pioneers. The Catena family began making wine in Mendoza in 1902. Nicolas Catena, third generation family vintner, was one of the first to see the potential of Mendoza’s mountain vineyards for producing high quality Malbec. In 1994, he became the first Argentine to exprot a world-class bottling of Malbec under the Catena label. Nicolas is joined by his daughter, Dr. Laura Catena, in their relentless pursuit of world-class quality from the family’s high altitude vineyards. Laura has done extensive work in introducing Malbec and other varietal plant selections, soil and climate analysis, and sustainable practices throughout Mendoza. Head winemaker, Alejandro Vigil, has been at Catena Zapata since 2002 and works with Laura and Nicolas to make wines that express the family’s vineyards and palate.

K&L Notes: Over the past five or so years, Catena has been fine tuning their range, producing wines of more specific origin from their vast vineyard holdings. Originally planted in 2007, these 20 hectares of Cabernet Franc (which Laura Catena notes, is the same acreage that Cheval Blanc has planted to the variety!) represent a significant investment, though not a surprising one given the grape’s popularity and proven ability to produce very good wine in the Uco Valley.

The Mendoza Wine Region.

(These notes are compiled and edited from various internet sources mostly Wine Searcher and Wine.com)

Mendoza Province, responsible for over 70% of the Argentina’s wine production, is divided into several distinctive wine making sub-regions, including Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley. It is the source of some of the country’s finest wines. Most large wineries are in the provincial capital of Mendoza.

For many wine lovers, Mendoza is practically synonymous with Malbec. Originally a Bordelaise variety brought to Argentina by the French in the mid-1800s, here it found success and renown that it never knew in its homeland where a finicky climate gives mixed results. Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Syrah, Merlot and Pinot Noir are all widely planted here as well (and sometimes even blended with each other or Malbec). Mendoza’s main white varieties include Chardonnay, Torrontés, and Sauvignon Blanc.

The pink-skinned grapes of Criolla Grande and Cereza account for more than a quarter of all planting. Criolla is used to produce deeply colored white wine. It is sometimes used to produce a light-colored rosé. The grape is rarely exported outside of Argentina where it is used to produce massive quantities of box and jug wines.

Vineyards are planted at some of the highest altitudes in the world, in the eastern foothills of the Andes, in the shadow of Mount Aconcagua,  with the average site located 600–1,100 meters (2,000–3,600 ft) above sea level. Altitude is one of the most important characteristics of the Mendoza terroir. The strip of vineyard land that runs along the base of the Andes lies between 800 and 1200 meters (2600 and 3900 ft) above sea level, and it is this altitude that moderates the hot, dry climate of the region. The climate is dry and continental, presenting relatively few challenges for viticulturists during the growing season. Warm, sunny days are followed by nights made much colder by westerly winds from the Andes. This cooling-off period slows ripening, extending the growing season and contributing rich, ripe flavors to the grapes that do not come at the expense of acidity.  There is barely any variation in climatic conditions from year to year, resulting in highly consistent quality of wines produced regardless of the year. Predictable harvests also afford Mendoza’s winemakers the luxury of increased control over the styles of wine they produce – a factor which has contributed to the region’s international reputation.

The soil of the Mendoza wine region is primarily alluvial composed of loose sand over clay. These rocky, sandy soils have little organic matter and are free draining, making them dry and low in fertility. This kind of soil is perfect for viticulture – vines are forced to work hard for hydration and nutrients, and will produce small, concentrated berries in lieu of leafy foliage. The wines produced from grapes grown on these soils are often highly structured, with firm tannins, and have a distinct minerality that is often attributed to the soil.

Mountain rivers provide ample water supplies from melted glaciers in the Andes. Nearly 17,000 wells provide the equivalent of an additional two rivers’ worth of water flow. A system of irrigation channels, canals and reservoirs (some dating to the 16th century) help sustain viticulture in this semi-arid desert region. Irrigation is facilitated by the rivers that cross the region, including the Mendoza itself, which runs down from the mountains. Warm, dry harvest periods mean that winemakers can pick their grapes according to ripeness, rather than being ruled by the vagaries of the weather.

Similar Wines

A participant tasted another Cabernet Franc wine side by side with the reference wine:

2011 Linden Vineyards, Virginia, USA.  Well integrated with black fruit, tobacco, herbs, earth and spices.  More rounded and a bit more complex than the reference wine.  Very good to excellent.

Technical Notes 

Compiled by Jairo Sánchez

(Sources: Wine Folly internet Profile; Wine Folly, The Master Guide Magnum Edition, The Oxford Companion to Wine, Jancis Robinson and Wikipedia).


Cabernet Franc is one of the major red grape varieties worldwide and is the parent grape of both Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere. Cabernet Franc is, with Sauvignon Blanc, one of the parent grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon. Its origins have been traced to the Basque County of Spain. Records of Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux go back to the end of the 18th century, although it was planted in the Loire Valley long before that time. Across the world Cabernet Franc is one of the twenty most widely planted grape varieties. Plantings are found throughout Europe, in the New World, Africa Australia, China and Kazakhstan. Close to 90% of world’s Cabernet Franc is produced in France, Italy and the USA with the rest of the world including Hungary, South Africa, Chile and, minor producers like Spain, Canada, Argentine, and others accounts for around 10% of the production.

Cabernet Franc is principally grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux style wines, but can also be vinified alone, as in the Loire’s Chinon and sometimes made into ice wine in Canada and the US.

Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, making a bright pale red wine that contributes finesse and lends a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on the growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, bell pepper, cassis, and violets.


In general, Cabernet Franc is like Cabernet Sauvignon, but buds and ripens at least a week earlier. This trait allows the vine to thrive in slightly cooler climates than Cabernet Sauvignon, such as the Loire Valley. In Bordeaux. Plantings of Cabernet Franc are treated as an “insurance policy” against inclement weather close to harvest that may damage plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon. Its early budding does pose the vinicultural hazard of coulure (a failure of grapes to develop after flowering) early in the growing season. The berries are quite small and blue-black in color, with fairly thin skins.

Cabernet Franc can adapt to a wide variety of vineyard soil types but seems to thrive in sandy, chalk soils, producing heavier, more full-bodied wines there. In the Loire Valley, terroir-based differences can be perceived between wines made from grapes grown in gravel terraces versus those grown in the limestone slopes. The grape is highly yield sensitive, with over-cropping producing wines with more green, vegetal notes.

The Wine

Cabernet Franc is medium-bodied red wine loved for its savory, bell pepper-like flavors, medium-high acidity, and mouthwatering taste. It is an ideal food pairing wine. The Cabernet Franc grape has a thinner skin than Cabernet Sauvignon, so the wines made from Cabernet Franc tend to be lighter in color and lower in tannin.

Wine Profile

Acidity: Medium-high

Tannin: Medium

Alcohol: Medium

Sweetness: Dry

Flavors: Strawberry, Raspberry, Bell Pepper, Crushed Gravel and Chili Pepper

Wine Regions

In many regions, Cabernet Franc is planted as a component of a Bordeaux-style blend such as Meritage, playing secondary role to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In parts of northeast Italy, Anjou-Saumur, Touraine and the right bank region of Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc both plays a more prominent role in blends but is vinted also as a single varietal.

France. The Loire Valley is known for producing exceptional single varietal Cabernet Franc wines in and around the middle Loire Valley (Chinon, Bourgueil, Anjou and neighboring areas). The cooler climate lends itself to wines with lighter color, lighter body, higher acidity, and distinct herbal flavors.

Italy. Tuscany warmer climate gives Cabernet Franc richer fruit flavors. The region’s red clay soils generally increase tannin. Since Cabernet Franc is not an indigenous variety of Italy, wines are declassified to IGP and labeled by variety or made-up name (Supertuscans). Flavors: Cherry. Leather, Strawberry, Licorice, Coffee

California. Sierra Foothills, (Climate conditions like Mendoza, Argentina). The regions of Shenandoah Valley, El Dorado, Fair Play, and Fiddletown have warm stable climates that make for ripe, sweeter grapes with lower acidity. Wines are typically fruit-forward and jammy with higher alcohol and subtle whiffs of dried leaves. Flavors: Dried strawberry, Raspberry, Tobacco leaf, Cedar, Vanilla.

Argentina. Cabernet Franc plantings in Argentina have been producing top quality wines in recent years, and the varietal has been claimed as having the most potential in the country after Malbec. Squeeze Magazine has called it “the new, handsome superhero of Mendoza’s wine scene”. In 2014, the highest scoring Argentine wine in Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate was a Cabernet Franc scored at 97 points. Cabernet Franc can be bottled alone, making lighter-bodied wines than the country’s typical Malbec or either as a majority or minority in blends.


Franc is a food friendly wine. There are numerous ways you can easily match Cabernet Franc based wines with food. For a few tips, try it with roasted chicken, pork, roasted or grilled, beef, duck, sausage, lamb, veal, hearty fish dishes and even hard as well as soft cheese. Higher Acidity makes it possible to pair Cabernet Franc with tomato-based dishes, vinegar-based sauces like smoky barbecue, or rich black beluga lentils.


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Tasting No. 220 (Virtual) – July 27, 2020 – Mourvedre

Club del Vino

Tasting Overview

The  tasting is limited to only one wine proposed by the presenters according to the existing program that focuses on varietals.  In this occasion, it is a Mourvedre.  The main objective of the tasting is to find out the salient and specific variety features and the character of the wines it produces.

By Felloni claire – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Wine Folly states that : “If you love Cabernet Sauvignon then Mourvedre is your bag. Mourvedre (aka Monastrell) is a full-bodied and rustic wine that originated in Spain. Rumor has it that the seafaring Phoenicians brought it over as early as 500 B.C. Seemingly obscure, Mourvedre is actually used quite often as a blending grape in popular wines such as Châteauneuf du Pape. It’s one of the major grapes of the Rhône along with Grenache and Syrah.”

Muorvedre is grown mostly in Spain (called Monastrell) mainly in Murcia and  the Comunidad Valenciana (DOs milla, Yecla and Alicante) that are producing excellent Monastrell varietals. France, Australia and USA  are also big producers areas planted .

Mourvedre is a warm climate grape that produces small, sweet and thick skinned grapes leading to full bodied wines, high in alcohol, big tannins and able to age well.

Type of Tasting: Open

Wines presenters: Mario Aguilar, John  and Lucía Redwood

The wine is:

2016 Tim Smith Barossa Mataro 

The menu is up to each participant discretion

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jose Brakarz, Jorge Claro, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Orlando Mason, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Pedro Turina, German Zincke

Information on the Wine

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

2106 Tim Smith Barossa, Mataro 

The Wine: This wine is a blend of 2 vineyards-the oldest is about 140 years of age, the younger one is about 70 years of age. We are led to believe that the older vineyard is about the second oldest Mataro (Mourvedre) vineyards in the world. The wine is picked typically at about 13.5-14 Baume. The fruit is destemmed and crushed and fermentation commences using naturally occurring yeasts. The fermenting must is kept on skins for between 10 and 24 days, depending on the vintage and extract from the skins. The must is pressed via an air bag press to avoid over extraction. Ageing is done on larger format French puncheons (500 litres).

Winemaker Notes  A blend of 3 different vineyards, aged up to about 130 years of age. All are low yielding, and on 3 distinct soil types. The Kalimna block (130yrs old) is on grey sandy soil, almost like a beach. This provides great fragrance and perfume. The palate is quite light and has soft, fine tannin. The Penrice block (50yrs old) also has great perfume, but a more soulful palate. Soils here are classic Barossa Valley floor, ie rich dark loam. The third block, in Greenock, has great sub-regional mid palate focus, with a slightly less aromatic profile. Notes of black pepper, dried tobacco and flavors of black olive, blackberry bramble with a soft oregano finish. Soils here are characterized by light yellow loam, with ironstone flecks. The sum of all three sites produce a wine with lifted perfume, and great mid palate drive. Old world winemaking methods, larger format French oak, unfined/unfiltered.

James Suckling Tim Smith’s touch with Mataro is a deft one, sending it into ever more fleshy, fruitful and attractive territory. This is packed with red-plum and tarry aromas and moves to a ripe, rich and sweetly fleshy mode on the palate. Plush and sultry

The Winery:Established in 2001, and with 33 years of hands on experience, Tim Smith Wines is a Barossa Valley-based producer of wines that we consider our region to excel at growing. “We make only the wines we genuinely enjoy drinking ourselves (sorry, Rosé drinkers).We are unashamedly influenced by the great producers of both the North and South Rhone Valley in France, but have a New World understanding of the techniques that we believe work best in our region. This understanding comes as a result of working as a winemaker with some of our regions most respected wineries, and numerous overseas vintages in a number of countries; always watching, always learning, and always challenging even our own wine making approach. Our wines are at once rich, polished, and structured for longevity, but with a brightness of fruit that invites early drinking. We are still unashamedly heavily influenced by the wines of the Rhone Valley, but with a very healthy respect for our regional Barossa wine style. We see no point in trying to reinvent the wheel when the wine styles and regionality we enjoy in the Barossa has been around for nearly 180 years; the region must be doing something right. However-the wine geek in me cant help tinkering and responding to our different yearly vintage challenges.

Read more at: https://timsmithwines.com.au/

Similar Wines

Some participants tasted other Mourverdre-based wines these were:

2015 Tesoro de Bullas, Monastrell, Murcia. Very good wine clearly exhibiting the Mourvedre grapes character. Great taste,complexity and balance with nuances of fruits, herbs, tobacco and spices. Long pleasant finish. Perfect match for chorizo and Manchego cheese. Highly recommended, $14

2017  Mourvedre  El Dorado, In Hand, The Whiters Winery, Santa Rosa, Sonoma Valley. A deliciously rich but vibrant blend of around 70% Mourvedre plus Syrah with around 30% whole clusters for extra spice and structure. $24

2016 Casa Castillo Monastrell, Jumilla, Spain. Excellent balance, aromas to black fruits, leather, and wood, exhibiting the Mourvedre varietal character. Well balanced.  Flavors reflecting aromas and long, semi complex pleasant finish. Highly recommended. $12.

Technical Notes 

Compiled by Jairo Sánchez

(Sources: Wine Folly, The Master Guide Magnum Edition, The Oxford Companion to Wine, Jancis Robinson and Wikipedia).

Mourvedre Grape and Wine


Most wine historians agree that Mourvèdre is likely to be Spanish in origin, though its exact history is difficult to pinpoint. The variety was probably introduced to Valencia by the Phoenicians around 500 BC. The French-adapted name Mourvèdre probably came from Murviedro (Mourvèdre in Valenciano, nowadays Sagunt) near Valencia while the Spanish name Mataró is thought to have come from Mataró, Catalonia near the modern-day city of Barcelona. Despite this close association with Murviedro and Mataró, the grape became known in Spain as Monastrell for reasons that are still unknown though Oz Clarke speculates that a “neutral” name may have been chosen so as not to offend the local pride of both regions.

Mourvèdre had a well-established presence in Roussillon region of France by at least the 16th century when still part of Spain (until 1659) where it spread eastwards towards Provence and the Rhone. There it had a well-established foothold until the phylloxera epidemic of the mid to late 19th century decimated plantings. As the French and other European wine regions recovered from the phylloxera scourge by grafting Vitis vinifera varieties to American rootstock, it was discovered that Mourvèdre vines did not take well to the grafting and many vineyards were replanted with other varieties.

Major Producing Regions

Spain and France cultivate close to 94% of total world Monastrell/Mourvedre plantings

  • Spain (~150,000+ acres) Alicante, Jumilla, Almansa
  • France (~25,000 acres) Bandol (Provence), Rhône
  • Australia (~2500 acres) South Australia
  • United States (~1000+ acres) California, Washington

: Bandol(France) and Alicante (Spain) are dominantly Mourvedre. The Rhône, Provence and Corbieres regions use Mourvedre as a blending grape.

What does Mourvedre Wine Taste Like?

Mourvedre is a meaty and full-bodied red wine. The smell of Mourvedre is an explosion of dark fruit, flowers like violet and herbaceous aromas of black pepper, thyme, and red meat. In regions such as Bandol, France and Jumilla, Spain, Mourvedre wine can have a very gamey taste. This smell can be a turn-off. The French call it animale. Some people, confronted with this distinctive odor, will wonder what fell into the glass and died. Mourvèdre also tends to display a leathery quality and a degree of earthiness, and while the wines it yields do not lack for fruit—they are usually marked by plum, raspberry, or blackberry flavors or various combinations thereof—they can be a bit austere.

Some believe the unctuous aromas in many Mourvedre wines are in part due to a wine fault called reduction. Because of this, Mourvedre benefits from decanting and is best enjoyed at around 67-71 °F.

Mourvedre Wine Characteristics

FRUIT: Blueberry, Blackberry, Plum,
OTHER: Black Pepper, Violet, Rose, Smoke, Gravel, Meat
OAK: Yes. Usually medium to long oak aging.
ACIDITY:Medium (+)
COMMON SYNONYMS: Monastrell, Alicante, Mataró, Damas Noir, Pinot Fleri, Mataro, Monastre, Mourves,

Regional Tasting Notes

Southern Spain. Monastrell is a major variety in the regions of Jumilla, Yecla, Alicante and Bullas. The warm dry climate produces wine with bold fruit flavors and even some tart and black olive. That said, there is exceptional value to be found here. Blackberry, Black Raisin, Mocha, Tobaco Smoke, Black Pepper

Bandol France. It’s said that Mourvedre thrives with is head in the sun and feet in the sea, so it is no wonder the grape  shines on the south-facing slopes of Bandol in Provence. By Law, the wine must spend at least 18 months in oak barrels , lending to this wine’s rusting elegance. Black Plum, Roasted Meat, Black Pepper, Cocoa Powder, Herbs De Provence

Mourvedre Wine Food Pairing

Full-bodied red wines like Mourvedre beg for rich foods to absorb the high tannin. Look for meats with lots of umami like beef short ribs, pork shoulder, barbeque, lamb, rabbit, pork sausage and veal. The spices that complement the floral character in Mourvedre are regional spices found in Provence, France such as lavendar, rosemary and thyme.

Vegetarians should look towards lentils, wild rice and shitake/portabello mushrooms for their flavor base to create a dish for any full-bodied red wine. Using black pepper and soy sauce is also a great way to add umami to vegetarian cuisine.

Interesting Facts About Mourvedre Wine

A Perfect Grape for Hot Regions: Mourvedre is a very structured and thick-skinned grape that ripens very late in the season. It is moderately drought-tolerant, making it an ideal grape for warm climates.

Undervalued It’s Super in Spain: Southeastern Spain was hit by the Phylloxéra louse in 1989. The vines have recently recovered and are now being offered in the US for bargain basement prices. You can easily find $10 Monastrell from Yecla, Jumilla and Alicante.

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Tasting No. 219 (Virtual) – June 29, 2020- Zinfandel Old Vines

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Photo by Rolling Bay Winery/Alphonse de Klerk

Tasting Overview

This is the first virtual tasting of the CV.  The Covid 19 pandemia has made it impossible for the Group to meet physically until this awful threat is over.

The  tasting is limited to only one wine proposed by the presenters according to the existing program that focuses on varietals.  In this occasion, it is a Zinfandel.  The main objective of the tasting is to find out the salient and specific variety features and the character of the wines it produces.

THE ZINFANDEL GRAPE : 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.

It 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.  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.Zinfandel 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.  Therefore the harvest must be done frequently in several passes through the vineyard for quality wines adding to cost. This trend can be aggravated by poor water management.

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. Old wines produce less grapes that are smaller than those from younger ones but are much more concentrated in flavors, colors and aromas.

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 hearty dishes like lamb stew.

Jairo Sanchez compiled a technical note (below) where you can read more about this remarkable grape.

Type of Tasting: Open

Wines presenters: Jairo Sánchez and Alberto Gómez

The wine is:

2018 Bedrock Wine Company, California, Old Vine Zinfandel

The menu is up to each participant discretion


Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jose Brakarz, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connoly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupoñán, Michelle Fryer, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Orlando Mason, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago, German Zincke

Information on the Wine

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

2108 Bedrock Wine Company, California, Old Vine Zinfandel

The Wine: Winemaker Notes. 2018 was a brilliant year for Zinfandel across California, and this wine reflects it. The 2018 is a blend of 85% Zinfandel filled out with Mataro, Grenache, Alicante Bouschet, Carignan, Petite Sirah and scant amounts of the many other varieties that can be found in California’s older, multifarious vineyards. Many of our most venerable vineyards contribute to this wine, including Bedrock, Teldeschi, Esola, Pagani, Papera, Evangelho and Pato filled in with lots from other old vineyards throughout the state. This will provide great drinking pleasure with a decant early on, but as with most iterations of this bottling, will develop nicely for a number of years.

(WS): Plump and zesty, with lively raspberry and smoked pepper flavors that speed toward lively tannins. Drink now through 2024. 90 pts.

(WE): Tempting fruit flavors and an appetizing structure combine nicely in this full-bodied wine, making it taste and feel complete. Classic blackberry and black-pepper aromas give way to juicy, berrylike flavors wrapped in just-firm-enough tannins and acidity for a good grip on the palate. 90 pts.

The Winery: Bedrock Wine Co. was started in 2007 by Morgan Twain-Peterson. Working out of a small converted chicken coop in a friend’s backyard, Morgan focused on making personality-filled wines wrought from a small array of thoughtfully farmed vineyards.  The label was created as a way for Peterson to showcase the quality of red and white grapes produced from ancient vines and distinct appellations in Sonoma, California including Sonoma Valley, Carneros, and Bennett Valley.

The winery is first and foremost a mission-driven operation dedicated to preserving and rehabilitating old vineyards around California. These vineyards, planted by California’s viticultural pioneers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, are living pieces of history.

At harvest, grapes are picked earlier than most to retain acidity and better express terroir. At the winery, grapes are rarely sorted or de-stemmed. Fermentation is done with natural, indigenous yeasts and little racking or new French oak is applied to the wines during the aging process.

The winery is also dedicated to taking advantage of the diverse terroirs of California and their capacity to make an enormous range of styles, be it delicate and perfumed rosé, barrel-fermented whites, or violet and pepper-tinged Syrah. We are always exploring—from the heart of Oakville in Napa to the northern reaches of Mendocino and gold hills of Amador, the vastness of Lodi and the beaches of Contra Costa to every corner of Sonoma.

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

Technical Notes 

Compiled by Jairo Sánchez

 From: Wikipedia.

Zinfandel (or “Zin”, as it is affectionately known in the United States) is a dark-skinned red wine grape variety widely cultivated in California. It arrived in the Americas from Europe in the early years of the 19th Century, and was an immediate success in both Napa and Sonomacounties, which remain its strongholds today.

After 30 years of discussion and disagreements (including legal intervention by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms), DNA research carried out by Carole Meredith of the University of California at Davis from the early 1990s to 2002 (known as the Zinquest) confirmed that Zinfandel is identical to Italy’s Primitivo. But although this research closed the debate over whether Zinfandel is Primitivo, it opened up an even older chapter of the variety’s history.

Zinfandel Grapes. We know that Primitivo arrived in Italy via Croatia, where it was known by various names including Tribidrag and Crljenak Kastelanski. But the question of whether Zinfandel arrived in the U.S. from Italy or via another route remains unanswered. So the question is now: is American Zinfandel based on Primitivo cuttings, or Tribidrag, or both? Another unsolved mystery is the linguistic origin of the word Zinfandel.

Zinfandel has been used to make various wine styles since it arrived in the USA, including dry and sweet red wines and the famous White Zinfandel blush, created to cater for a white wine-drinking American consumer base of the 1970s. The arrival of this new wine style in the early 1970s led to an explosion of Zinfandel plantings – perhaps ironic given that the style of wine was created to find a use for the swathes of underused Zinfandel vines already in existence.

By the 1990s the popularity of dry red Zinfandel had given these plantings a new raison d’etre, although they were still being used to generate many millions of liters of sweet pink blush every year. Today, red Zinfandel has risen to become the signature wine of the U.S., not due to the quality of wine it produces, but because it is as close to an “American” variety as vinifera vines get. The discovery that it was an Italian variety in disguise led to mixed reactions, including pride at the association with a prestigious wine nation, but also a certain uneasiness that Zinfandel had lost some of its American individuality.

Outside the U.S., the variety is grown in South Africa and Australia, where it has been bottled as both Zinfandel and Primitivo. It hasn’t acquired any particular significance in either of these countries – more a product of a few key producers than an independent grape variety. Also, as Australia has a developed a strong tradition in Shiraz, there is little motivation to bring in and develop a similar variety to compete with it. The Cape Mentelle winery of Margaret River has taken up the reins as an Australian pioneer of Zinfandel.

During the 1970s, various Italian producers began labeling their Primitivo wines as Zinfandel, to cash in on Zinfandel’s popularity in the U.S. market. Now, the reverse is happening; as Primitivo’s star rises once again in Italy (most notably in Manduria), a number of Californian vineyards (mostly those of Italian heritage) now label their Zinfandel wines as Primitivo.

Almost unaffected by the politics and wranglings between Italy and the U.S., the winemakers of Croatia have carried on producing deeply colored, full-bodied red wines from their Crljenak Kastelanski and Tribidrag grapes. Interest in these wines has naturally increased following the Primitivo/Zinfandel debate, so many of them are now available in various countries around the world.

Synonyms include: Primitivo, Crljenak Kastelanski, Pribidrag, Tribidrag, Kratosija.

Food matches for Zinfandel include:

  • Puglian spit-roasted lamb
  • East Texas-style barbecue
  • Dark chocolate cake

 What to expect from a Zinfandel tasting

From: Wine Folly, Magnum Edition, The Master Guide.Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack, Penguin Random House, LLC, New York NY. 2018

 Puglia, Italy: Primitivo. In Puglia Zinfandel goes by the name of Primitivo and the grape expresses similar bright candied fruit, with much more leather and dried herbal notes found in Southern Italian reds. Primitivo di Maduria is one of the finest regions, producing the boldest examples. Strawberries, Leather, Candied Currant, Dried Herbs, Spiced Orange

Lodi, Central Valley, CA: Zinfandel. The Lodi region hums along silently in California’s Central Valley with 100.000 acres of vineyards, many of which are dedicated to Zinfandel.  Wines appear pale in color but are highly aromatic with smoky-sweet fruit flavors and smooth tannins. Raspberry Jam, Peach Preserves, Blackberry Bramble, Hickory, Star Anise

North Coast, CA: Zinfandel. Several regions within Sonoma and Napa are famous for Zinfandel including Rockpile, Dry Creek Valley, Chiles Valley and Howell Mountain. Wines here offer bold tannins, colors, and rustic flavors thanks to the region’s volcanic soils.Blackberry, Black Plum, Crushed Gravel, Allspice, White Pepper

From: THE OXFORD COMPANION TO WINE. Fourth Edition 2015. Edited by Jancis Robinson. Referenced to Darlington D., Zin. The Story and Mystery of Zinfandel Cambridge, Mass., 2001

Because Zinfandel has not French connection, it had escaped the detailed scrutiny of the world ampelographic center in Montpellier and its European origins rested on local hypothesis rather than internationally accredited fact until the application of DNA profiling to vines in the early 1990s. Only then was irrefutable demonstrated what had been suspected, that Zinfandel is one and the same as the variety known as primitivo in Puglia. Subsequent DNA profiling at Davis established that the Croatian variety Plavac Mali is in fact a cross between Zinfandel and Dobricic, an obscure and ancient Croatian variety found in the island of Solta near Split. This suggested a probably Dalmatian origin for Zinfandel too, and Croatian researchers Pejic and Maletic collaborating with Carole Meredith at Davis intensively searched the coastal vineyards for Zinfandel until 2001 they discovered an ancient and almost extinct variety on the island of Kastela near Split called Crljenac Kastelanski (literally “red grape of  Kastela”) that was established as Zinfandel by DNA. Analysis of this variety’s DNA, showed an exact match with that of a 90-year-old herbarium specimen of an ancient Croatian vine known locally as Tribidrag.

Zinfandel took firm hold on the California wine business in the 1880s, when its ability to produce in quantity was priced above all else. Many was the miner, and other beneficiary of California gold rush, whose customary drink was Zinfandel. By the turn of the century, Zinfandel was regarded as California’s own claret and occupied some of the choicest North Coast vineyard. During the prohibition, it was the choice of many a Home Winemaker but since then its viticultural popularity has become its undoing.

In 20th century California, Zinfandel occupied much the same place as Shiraz (Syrah) did in Australia and for many decades suffered the same lack of respect simply because it was the most common black grape variety, often planted in unsuitable hot sites and expected to yield more than was good for it. Zinfandel may not be quite such potentially high quality grape variety as Syrah but it is certainly capable of producing fine wine if yields are restricted and the weather cool enough to allow a reasonable long growing season, as Ridge vineyards and others have proved. And the fact that so many of California’s oldest vines are Zinfandel means that the best wines labelled with the varietal, sometimes field blends, are exceptionally complex.

Zinfandel Viticultural disadvantages are uneven ripening and thin-skinned berries in compact clusters. Bunches often ripen unevenly with harsh, green berries on the same cluster as those that have reached full maturity, and that once grapes full ripeness, in direct contrast to its great California rival Cabernet Sauvignon for example, they will soon turn to raisins if not picked quiet rapidly. Zinfandel perform best in warm but not hot conditions and prefers well-drained hillsides since it is subject to bunch rot if by autumn rains.

Although Zinfandel has been required over the years to transform itself into virtually every style and color of wine that exist, it is best suited to dry sturdy, vigorous reds that mature rather earlier than a comparable Cabernet Sauvignon. Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma has demonstrated a particular aptitude for this underestimated variety.

In the late 1980, thanks to the enormous popularity of White Zinfandel, Zinfandel plantings, which had been declining, increased by up to 3,000 acres/1,215 ha a year, mostly in the central valley, so that they totaled 34,000 acres/13,760 ha in 1972, just ahead of California total acreage of Cabernet Sauvignon at the time. The resurgence of Zinfandel continued in the late 1990s as red Zinfandel began to enjoy mildly cult-like status (with many examples commanding prices over $30), driving total plantings to 50,000 acres/20,000 ha in 2003, only slightly less than Merlot and two-thirds as much of California most important variety Cabernet Sauvignon.

Zinfandel is also grown to a much more limited extent in warmer sites in other western states in the USA and Mexico. Because its prominence in California, where it is still definitively the second most planted red wine grape, Zinfandel is grown in many of the world’s wine regions, albeit to a very limited extent –quite apart from Puglia where it is known as Primitivo and in Montenegro, on the other side of the Adriatic where it is known as Kratosija. There is some Zinfandel in the Languedoc, south Africa, and Australia where there were more than 100 ha in 2012 and Cape Mantelle in Western Australia has been particular successful with it.

Zinfandel Variety Wine. From the time Zinfandel arrived in the 1850s, Zin flourished in the dry California climate. Virtually a California exclusive for more than a century, the variety for long suffered from an image problem. Apparently lacking any European forebear, let alone a famous one, it had to be taken in his own terms. Few critics had the independence of mind to do so, and so until the 1990sit was consigned to the category of a low priced, honest Italian-American working man’s wine. All that has since changed. Well-made examples from 80 years old and older vines (one of California’s great vinicultural treasures command very respectable prices.

Although sometimes deliberately vinified to minimize this characteristic, Zinfandel can easily be chewier than Cabernet. Beyond its robust textures, Zinfandel at the height of its powers tastes of the strain of raspberry Americans call boysenberry. Although it often have the structure and balance to age well, time does not replace its glorious flavors of berry with anything as pleasing. All the foregoing means that Zinfandel must come from superior vineyard or be ordinary. Much inconclusive, artistic debate turns on vine age, and on trellising versus the traditional bush vines.

The variety find its most congenial home on dry-farmed hillsides originally identified in Parts of California  at the turn of the last century by immigrant Italians. A centerpiece of this cultural community is Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley, the Russian River district, Mendocino County, Sonoma Valley and, though the fact is little recognized, Napa Valley. SAnluis Obispo County’s Pao Robles has a long strong history with Zinfandel, as does Amador County in the Sierra Foothills and Lodi and the Delta region of the Central Valley. All of these tend to make headier, riper wines than Sonoma ,and heady, port-style wines made from late-harvested vines enjoyed by a brief vogue in the 1970s. 

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Tasting No. 218 – February 24, 2020- Wines from Portugal

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Tasting Overview: Portugal wines do not cease surprising wine lovers.  Coming from a reputation of producing cheap and mediocre quality wines several decades back, there has been a remarkable transformation of wine making in the country.  Use of modern techniques, better vineyard management and fruit selection and blending have resulted in a vigorous, modern and world class wine industry at par with the most advanced and traditional leading countries.  On top of that, prices are affordable even for the top quality Portuguese wines.

The  main objective of this tasting is to explore wines and grape varieties from Douro, Beiras and Alentejo regions in Portugal.

Type of Tasting: Blind

Wines presenters:  Clarita Estrada and Jorge García-García

These are the wines:

  1. 2016  Vinhas Velhas Vinho Branco, Beiras, Luis Pato
  2. 2014 Carvalhas Tinta Francisca, Douro, Quinta das Carvalhas. 
  3. 2017 Post Scriptum de Chryseia , Douro, Prats & Symington
  4. 2016 Alicante Bouschet, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Herdade do Rocim
  5. 2003 Colheita, Quinta do Noval, Old Tawny Port

This is the menu:


1.Fried calamari & zucchini
2. Risotto with chorizo and mushrooms
3. Caprese salad
4. Beef medallions with brown sauce, roasted potatoes and green beans
5. Dessert or coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Ruth Connolly, Clarita Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge García-García, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John, Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sánchez, Jairo Sánchez, Ricardo Santiago, Germán Zincke.

Information on the Wines

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

2016 Vinhas Velhas Vinho Branco, Beiras, Luis Pato

The Wine: (RP) The 2016 Branco Vinhas Velhas is a roughly equal blend this year of Bical, Cerceal and Sercialinho, unoaked and coming in at 12.5% alcohol view Technical Note below). This simply coats the palate and seems full bodied, rich and very dense this year….As with the 2015, this will likely show better with a year more in bottle, around the summer of 2018. It should age beautifully, perhaps better than indicated. I suspect the 2015 will eventually win out, when both have shed their baby fat, but at the moment, this shows better. At the pricing provided, there is no way you can go wrong with either. They are both super bargains.

(Astonwines.con staff review) This wine proves, without question, that Bical and Cercial are as good as Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc. This wine is as good as Chablis. This wine is as good as Vouvray. This wine is as good as Sancerre. Actually, it’s better- if you factor in price.  …. It is one of those rare wines that is both elegant and fun. It has old world style in spades: vibrancy, whispers of savory flavors anchored by barely-ripe fruit. It inspired giddy excitement in me when I first tasted it, the kind you get when you know you’re being let in on a secret.

The Winery: Luis Pato is an innovative wine producer in the northern Portuguese region of Bairrada. The proprietor, Luis Pato, is a champion of the local red grape Baga and produced his first wine from the variety in 1980. Today, Pato has a diverse wine portfolio that includes still, sweet, and sparkling wines.

The estate is made up of 60 hectares (148 acres) of vineyard land spread throughout nine vineyards around Bairrada. The more southern of these have chalky-clay soils, while the more northerly vineyards are composed of sand.Along with Baga, the vineyards are planted with Touriga NacionalTinto CãoBicalMaria Gomes and Cerceal da Bairrada.

Read more at: https://www.wine-searcher.com/merchant/25236

2014 Carvalhas Tinta Francisca, Douro, Quinta das Carvalhas

The Wine: (WE) Although no longer widely planted, Tinta Francisca is often found in old vineyards. It doesn’t have the power of some Douro reds, but it does have the concentration and a fine balance of fruits, tannins and acidity. There is a freshness that brings a bright edge to this fruity wine. A bonus: It is ready to drink.

(WS) “A concentrated red, with a plump, ripe profile of boysenberry and raspberry flavors, underscored by herb, white pepper and licorice details. Floral and mineral hints mark the integrated finish.”

The Winery:  Quinta das Carvalhas is one of the most emblematic and spectacular properties in the Douro Valley. Written references regarding this magnificent vineyard can be traced back to 1759. Enjoying a prominent position on the left bank of the Douro river, in Pinhão, the estate covers the entire hillside facing the Douro river and occupies part of the slopes of the right bank of  the tributary Torto river.

Quinta das Carvalhas is characterized by very particular soil and climatic conditions. Its vines are located at various altitudes – extending from river border to the top of the slope. The largest vine surface of the Quinta faces a northern sun exposure, yet, another fraction of the vineyard, on the other side of the mountain, faces a southern exposure. Most of the parcels are planted in areas of deep inclination, with only a small fraction planted at a less inclined location, at the top of the hill.

The viticultural heritage is constituted of almost-centennial vines of field blend, in which rare indigenous varieties are considered interesting repositories for an ampelographic variation. Younger vines are composed by distinguished varieties and benefit from a modern viticultural approach.

 2017 Post Scriptum de Chryseia , Douro, Prats & Symington

The Wine: (RP) The 2017 Post Scriptum de Chryseia is a 49/51 blend of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca this year (approaching equality), and it aged for 12 months in French oak. It comes in at 14% alcohol. This is not much bigger than the Prazo (also reviewed) this year in most respects, but it shows more finesse and freshness. There is more power as well and a far longer finish. Most of all, though, this has lift to the fruit. This is simply a more sophisticated wine. It provides a step up in quality, but there is admittedly also a step up in price. Bargain hunters may be quite happy with the Prazo this issue, but if you do step up, you’ll be rewarded. This will drink better next fall, but it is approachable now.

The Winery:  Chryseia, which means “golden” in Greek, is one of the leading red table wines from Portugal’s Douro Valley. Crafted by Prats & Symington family, Port producers since 1882, and Bruno Prats, former owner of the famed Chateau Cos d’Estournel, Chryseia began with some experimental lots of wine in 1999. Sine that time, the wine has demonstrated the incredible potential of combining winemaking expertise from the Douro Valley and Bordeaux, two of the world’s best wine regions. Chryseia further underscored its commitment to producing wine in the Douro Valley with the acquisition of Quinta de Perdiz, and the legendary Quinta de Roriz in 2009.

(From Wine.com): The home of Port—perhaps the most internationally acclaimed beverage—the Douro region of Portugal is one of the world’s oldest delimited wine regions, established in 1756. The vineyards of the Douro, set on the slopes surrounding the Douro River (known as the Duero in Spain), are incredibly steep, necessitating the use of terracing and thus, manual vineyard management as well as harvesting. The Douro’s best sites, rare outcroppings of Cambrian schist, are reserved for vineyards that yield high quality Port.

While more than 100 indigenous varieties are approved for wine production in the Douro, there are five primary grapes that make up most Port and the region’s excellent, though less known, red table wines. Touriga Nacional is the finest of these, prized for its deep color, tannins and floral aromatics. Tinta Roriz (Spain’s Tempranillo) adds bright acidity and red fruit flavors. Touriga Franca shows great persistence of fruit and Tinta Barroca helps round out the blend with its supple texture. Tinta Cão, a fine but low-yielding variety, is now rarely planted but still highly valued for its ability to produce excellent, complex wines.

White wines, generally crisp, mineral-driven blends of Arinto, Viosinho, Gouveio, Malvasia Fina and an assortment of other rare but local varieties, are produced in small quantities but worth noting.

With hot summers and cool, wet winters, the Duoro has a maritime climate.

2016 Alicante Bouschet, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Herdade do Rocim

Wine: Catarina Vieira’s estate blend of Touriga Nacional, Aragonez and Alicante Bouschet is firm in its structure and rich in its black fruits. It is made from organically grown grapes, giving a wine with ripeness, clean tannins and fruitiness and a fine medium-term future. Drink from 2020.

The Winery: (From Wine.com) Located in the Lower Alentejo region in the southern half of Portugal, between Vidigueira and Cuba, lies the estate of Herdade do Rocim on 100 hectares, 60 of which are under vine. Alentejo is sparsely populated and, in contrast to the rest of Portugal, has many large estates. The climate is continental, with hot summers and cold winters. Having fairly reliable weather combined with the large plots of available land equates to quality at an affordable price. Wheat is the most important crop grown here, but olive trees, cork trees and vineyards are all important agriculture here as well. Wines from Alentejo are becoming popular as consumers realize the great opportunities available here, and quality is improving exponentially. It is thought to be the new world inside the old world, with highly professional wineries using a scientific approach while respecting the terroir.

The Rocim estate was purchased in 2000 by Movicortes group, which is a Portuguese company that specializes in agricultural machinery, but has its roots in farming and vineyards. Catarina Vieira, daughter of the late Jose Ribeiro Vieira, the founder of the Movicortes group, has been coordinating the development of the estate. Catarina believes that Alentejo has the unique conditions required to produce world-class wines. With respect for the terrior and the natural resources there, they produce a freshness and minerality in the whites and an elegance and complexity in the reds.

2003 Colheita, Quinta do Noval, Old Tawny Port  

The Wine: (WE) In terms of aged vintage tawnies, this beautiful wine is relatively young. That means the fruit is still there, hinting at bold red fruits as well as the dried fig and sultana flavors that have also emerged. The wine is finely balanced with its rich texture and poise coming in between dry and sweet. Drink now

The Winery:  (From: Wine.com) One of the oldest port houses, Quinta do Noval is also arguably the greatest. It is unique among top port houses in that most of the ports are made from estate-grown fruit and, notably, all of the vintage Noval wines are from the single Quinta do Noval vineyard. In addition, it is difficult to elaborate on Quinta do Noval without mentioning Nacional, the legendary port made from a 6 acre parcel of ungrafted vines. When declared, only 200-300 cases of Nacional will be made, and instantly become the most sought after port in the world. Many vintages of Nacional are considered as the finest ports, and some of the finest wines, ever made.

Noval is mentioned in land registries going back to 1715, and has been sold just twice in that time, once in the late 19th century, and to its present owners in 1993. Noval has, however, a reputation for being an innovative, independent producer.  The astonishing terraced vineyards of Noval, perched above the Douro and Pinhao rivers, are an infertile schist, and not soil as much as sheer rock. The elevation of the vineyards goes from just above river level to 1,200 feet, with density at about 2,000 vines per acre, and vines producing on average 30-35 hectoliters per hectare. The tremendous rewards of the work done at the estate over the last fifteen years are visible across the range of Noval ports, and have placed Noval a step ahead of everyone in the Douro.

Read more at: https://www.wine-searcher.com/merchant/22229

CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 218 Summary of Tasting Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2016  Vinhas Velhas Vinho Branco, Beiras, Luis Pato

Best Buy: 2016  Vinhas Velhas Vinho Branco, Beiras, Luis Pato

Best Red: 2016 Alicante Bouschet, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Herdade do Rocim

Technical Notes 

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

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

(From Wine- Searcher) Bical is a yellow-skinned wine grape variety grown in the Portuguese regions of Bairrada and Dão. Its high acidity sees it often blended with Arinto (Pederna) in various regional sparkling wines, but it is also used in dry table wines, both blended and varietal. Bical is noted for its stonefruit flavors of apricot and peach, with additional tropical notes in warmer vintages. Bical ripens early in the vineyard and can develop excessive levels of alcohol if it is left to hang on the vine too long. It is mildly aromatic, showing floral and occasionally soapy scents in its youth. Bical responds well to oak aging and extended lees contact. The best examples can mature for over a decade and can take on similar characteristics to aged Riesling. In Dão, Bical is known by the nickname Borrado das Moscas (which means “fly droppings”), due to its appearance in the vineyard. Small brown freckles appear on the grapes, giving it the appearance of being slightly spotty. Synonyms include: Borrado das Moscas, Bical de Bairrada.

Cerceal (sometimes spelled Cercial or Sercial, but not to be confused with Madeira’s Sercial) is a light-skinned wine grape variety found in the DaoBairrada and Tejo wine regions of mainland Portugal. While single-variety Cerceal wines do exist, they are relatively few and far between. The grape’s most common application by far is as a blending component, most often with BicalBaga or Encruzado. When Cerceal is used alone, it produces relatively restrained, straw-colored white wines. Their aroma profiles tend more toward minerality rather than fruit, although notes of lime and grapefruit are typical. Their taut acidity makes them not only refreshing, but also capable of aging for up to a decade. With time they can take on aromas of honey and fennel, all the while complemented by mineral, sometimes smoky, notes of gunflint, akin to the pierre à fusil associated with Pouilly-Fume.

Sercialinho is a crossing between Cercial from Madeira and Albarinho from the north of Portugal.  It was developed at the Alcobaca Research Center by Miguel Ferreira de Almeida.  Luis Pato is the only producer in the world of this hybrid from 40+ years old vines.  It used in withe wine blends especially to give acidity and pine tree resin aromas.

Tinta Francisca is a red-wine grape of Portugal’s Douro region (the home of Port). It is entirely distinct from, and largely unconnected to, the more popular Touriga Franca. The two varieties are often confused due to the similarity of their names; to make matters worse, Touriga Franca sometimes goes by the name Touriga Francesa. Tinta Francisca is permitted for use in Port wines, but it does not figure among the list of officially recommended varieties. Although its berries are naturally rich in sugars, the must lacks structured acids, tannins and aromatic complexity. As such, the variety is limited to lifelong service as a blending component. Single-variety wines made from Tinta Francisca – were they ever produced – would be light bodied and lacking the depth of flavor expected by modern wine consumers. This is all of particular importance when considering Portuguese wines as a whole. The trademark style of Douro table styles (not to mention fortified Port) is defined by aromatic complexity, depth and power.

Touriga Nacional:  Considered to be the finest of the grapes that are used to create the substantial and long-lived fortified wines known as Port. Touriga Nacional has a thick skin and small clusters of berries which help to contribute to the colorful and tannic wine it creates. In addition to the flowers, tannins and extract the Touriga Nacional brings to the Port table, the grape is an integral part of the blends of still red wine found in both the Duoro and Dão valleys, producing wines that are heavy in both red fruits and structure. Yields are low, but recent clonal selection has improved production.  https://www.winegeeks.com/grapes/45

(From Wine-Searcher.com) Touriga Franca is an important dark-skinned grape variety used in the production of Port and dry red wines from Portugal’s Douro wine region. Even though it is much more widely planted than Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca is the less prestigious of the two grapes.

Touriga Franca is more aromatic and lighter bodied than Touriga Nacional, though lacking sufficient intensity and concentration to make it a blockbuster variety. Its origins are unclear and its name misleading, for Touriga Franca is not a French grape. It seems most likely that Touriga Franca is either a mutation, or a crossing of Touriga Nacional and an unknown parent, possibly Mourisco Tinto (Marufo). Either way, Touriga Franca’s plentiful yields have made it a favored and integral component of Douro wines.

(From Wine-Searcher.com) Alicante Bouschet is a teinturier grape variety widely planted in Spain, Portugal and France, particularly in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It has a long history in the wine world but lost ground in the later 20th Century in favor of more fashionable international varieties. However, Alicante Bouschet is enjoying a renaissance of sorts, with modern producers making some excellent examples at attractive prices.

The variety is a crossing of Petit Bouschet and Grenache, and was first cultivated by viticulturalist Henri Bouschet in 1866. Originally designed as a blending grape to improve the depth of color of such popular 19th-Century grapes as Aramon, Alicante Bouschet quickly became popular, not just for its intense coloring but for its generous yields. With its high-yielding, easy-to-grow vines, Alicante Bouschet was used to help rebuild devastated European wine industries following the phylloxera epidemic.

During the time of Prohibition in the United States, Alicante Bouschet was often grown in California and sold on the East Coast as table grapes. The variety’s thick skin made it sufficiently robust to withstand transportation in crates and its juicy flesh enabled illicit winemakers to press the grapes several times, ensuring that nothing went to waste.

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Tasting No. 217 – January 27, 2020 – Cinsault

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Provence – By Marcello Averbug

Tasting Overview  Cinsaut also known as Cinsault is a dark-skinned red wine grape normally used as a blending ingredient with other grape varieties. The grapes come in large cylindrical bunches with fairly thick skins. This early ripening grape boasts natural, low levels of tannin and acidity and strong aromatic qualities.  In Provence, it can be and often is used in the production of Rosé. Cinsault, also plays a crucial role in the red wine blends of Southern France as well as the Pinotage wines of South Africa. In France, it is used as a blending grape in the Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence regions as well as the Southern Rhone. It is often called the Pinot Noir of the south.

Cinsault is one of the 13 varieties permitted in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape region in Southern France (amazingly, there are more Cinsault vines in France than Cabernet Sauvignon vines!). One rarely finds it bottled on its own, which makes today’s wine all the more special. Cinsault tends to produce delicious wines that have the delicate body of a Pinot and the ripe berry fruit forwardness of a Zinfandel.

Cinsault seems to originally be from Provence and largely spread through the Rhône Valley and the Languedoc-Roussillon. He needs a lot of sun, resists well against drought and its maturity comes quite late. Black grape with white juice, very poor in tanin and with a juicy flesh, he is ideal to make excellent rosé wines! Cinsault is very distinctive thanks to its finesse and vivacity, its softness and its fruity aromas. Thanks to its balance and freshness, it is a perfect match to Mediterranean cuisine. Cinsault should nevertheless be reserved for poor soils with low yields to offer its most beautiful expressions. It has much in common with Grenache and at one time was grown for its generous yields. Light red berries are the most commonly associated flavor descriptors.

The objective of this tasting is to assess the features of rosé and red Cinsault wines and one blend based on the same variety.

Type of Tasting: Blind

Wines presenters: Ruth Connolly

These are the wines:

  1. 2016 Chateau Pesquie Luberon ‘Le Paradou’ Cinsault Rose, Rhone, France
  2. 2106 De Martino, Viejas Tinajas Cinsault, Itata Valley,  Chile
  3. 2013 Onesta Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault Lodi, Central Valley, California
  4. 2016 Chateau Musar Lebanon Hochar Pere et Fils , Bekaa Valley Lebanon

This is the menu:

  1. Clams with garlic and butter sauce
  2. Fennel with oranges and strawberries salad
  3. Pappardelle with meat sauce
  4. Lamb with rosemary, mashed potatoes and green beans
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants:  Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jose Brakarz, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connoly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jaime Jaramillo, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Orlando Mason, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Ricardo Santiago, Ginger Smart, Germán Zincke

Information on the Wines

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

2016 Chateau Pesquie Luberon ‘Le Paradou’ Cinsault Rose, Rhone, France

The Wine: Comments by Wine Seller: 

  • Fruit from Rousillion in southeastern France.
  • Noble great region – Grenache/syrah/carignan production
  • 100% cinsaut
  • Pretty pink rosé – basket full of strawberries
  • Pair with summer foods
  • Fantastic value for the price.

(From the Winery)

Description “Paradou” in the old Provençal language, the “langue d’oc,” refers to the old watermills that once dotted the landscape. Le Paradou is indeed a former watermill owned by the Chaudière Family and the guest house of Château Pesquié. Frédéric & Alexandre Chaudière, the new generation of the family, have selected great Cinsault plots to create a pale, crisp and fresh rosé.

Soil: limestone & sands at average altitude of about 200 m (650 ft).

Grapes: 100% Cinsault.

Vinification: The harvest is destemmed and placed in stainless steel vats at low temperature. 100% Direct press rosé. The malolactic transformation is blocked to support the natural acidity.

Tasting notes: Very pale color, with very bright and limpid reflections. Nose of red berries (red currants). The mouth is very balanced and very elegant, with tart notes, citrus, raspberries and red currant aromas, and a great freshness.

Food and Wine pairing: Ideal as an aperitif or to enjoy on your terrace. Le Paradou rosé will match perfectly grilled vegetables or white meats, salad and fresh starters, with goat cheese for instance, pizzas and most spicy dishes. For desserts, pair it with strawberry or raspberry pies and fruit soups. Best served around 10-12° C (50-53° F)

Purchased at Cairo Wines: https://www.dcwineguy.com/

The Winery: The terroir of Château Pesquié has one of the coolest micro climates in the south of the Rhône Valley. The terroir has a great mineral diversity, predominantly consisting of limestone. The Ventoux Mountain provides exceptional conditions to create outstanding wines.

There is evidence of vine cultivation at Château Pesquié that dates to two thousand years ago. The recent discovery of a pottery workshop and wine pottery from the Roman era (30 BC) in the Côtes du Ventoux Appellation confirms that the region is one of the oldest wine producing areas in France. The Church played a fundamental role in developing the region, particularly during the Pope’s residence in Avignon in the 14th Century.

In the early 1970’s, Odette & René Bastide bought Château Pesquié from an heir of a famous Provençal writer, Alphonse Daudet. Despite a long vine growing tradition in the area, the AOC Côtes du Ventoux was not created until 1973. It was the beginning of a new dynamic driving the local production toward quality rather than quantity. René & Odette largely restructured the vineyards. The results of that work are now vines that average 35 to 40 years of age (the oldest are close to a hundred years old).

The harvest starts early in the morning allowing the grapes to arrive at low temperatures. Depending on the soil, grape variety and age of the vines, maceration lasts between 12 and 30 days. Vinification and storage mainly take place in stainless steel and concrete vats. Still, the cuvees are aged in barrels and the Chaudiere. The beautiful ageing cellar contains more than 300 barrels. The Oxo-line supports facilitate stirring the wines and performing malolactic fermentation in the barrels. The Chaudiere Family possesses its own bottling equipment and bottles its wines at the Château as they control every step of the production.

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

2106 De Martino, Viejas Tinajas Cinsault, Itata Valley,  Chile

The Wine: Vivino notes

  • Spiced red fruit, elegant cherry blossom and dry leather notes with some sweet sultana thrown in.
  • Fresh and vibrant
  • Dark, violet color
  • Floral bouquet, notes of violets / cherries / blackberries & black fruit.
  • Smooth, tense and fresh on the palate
  • great structure and persistence

Wine & Spirit notes – 95 points

  • Fermented and aged in clay
  • Comes from top of hill in Guariligne near Itata coast. Wine maker Marcelo Retanal who was playing with the grape’s early harvest to get a redder fruit flavor and greater tension. (Goal achieved in 2016.
  • Tea leaf & earth aromas finely integrated into a layer of tart red fruit.
  • Serious cinsaut.
  • Pleasant to drink

Wine Searcher:

  • Based on aggregated critic scores this is one of the top 10 Itata Valley wines: Tim Atkin gave the 2018 vintage a score of 94.
  • Based on our Quality Price Ratio calculations, this wine represents great value for money.
  • Among the highest-priced wines from Itata.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate – 93 points:

De Martino resurrects an old winemaking tradition of using large earthenware jars, known as amphorae or tinajas, that is deeply rooted in rural Chilean winemaking culture to create this all-natural wine. The fruit is cultivated from an unirrigated vineyard in the heart of the coastal mountain region of the Itata Valley located 400 kilometers south of Santiago and 22 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean. Viejas Tinajas, meaning “old amphorae,” is fermented and aged in 100-year-old amphorae that have been rescued by the De Martino family.  The winery does not intervene or disrupt the process at all.  A lovely fresh nose of red currant jam and violets is well defined. The palate is medium in body with crisp red currant and dark cherry accented by touches of fig and marmalade.

Purchased at Cairo Wines: https://www.dcwineguy.com/

The Winery: (FromWine.com) The De Martino family has been producing wine in Chile’s famous Maipo Valley for almost 70 years. The wines reflect the area’s terroir, resulting in big, rich, extracted flavor. Delicate use of oak adds complexity, but the strength of De Martino wines is in their fruit. These wines are concentrated and elegant, each with a distinctive personality. The winery has received a flurry of recognition from Chile’s most prestigious wine guide. The 2004 Guia de Vinos de Chile singled out De Martino winemaker Marcelo Retamal as “Winemaker of the Year” and named the Legado Sauvignon Blanc, Legado Carmenere and Gran Familia Cabernet Sauvignon as the top wines in their categories.

The first vines of the Itata Valley were planted by Spanish conquerors in 1551, thereby making this region a forerunner of winemaking in Chile. Due to its proximity to the city of Concepción –one of the main Chilean ports at the time- this valley soon became one of the largest wine supplier, not only to the rest of the national territory, but also to the entire Spanish Empire in the Americas.

The Itata region started to lose its relevance in the 19th century, when aristocratic families began to travel to France and brought cuttings from there. This period coincides with the phylloxera, so French winemakers also arrived in Chile. From then on, viticulture turned mostly to the central-northern zone, and the south, together with our history, started to lose importance and these vineyards were cast into indifference.

Today, the Itata Valley is flourishing again thanks to its incomparable terroir and the effort of producers who have visualized the opportunities of this place and of rediscovering the roots of our viticulture.

Read more at: https://www.demartino.cl/index.php

2013 Onesta Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault Lodi, Central Valley, California

The Wine: WE: Leafy, fennel-like aromas top this fresh, grapy and well-balanced wine. It tastes lively and tangy but also brings good ripeness and richness to the palate. Made from vines as old as 130 years, it’s a wonderful break from the ordinary. 91 Points

(The Wine Spies) Bright red on the nose, with Bing cherry, pomegranate, and red currant, followed by dried fall leaves, dried wild mushroom, kola nut, cedar and slate mineral. Spectacular on the palate, bursting with juicy Bing cherry, blueberry, raspberry, wild strawberry, soft spice, slate mineral, softly toasted oak, vanilla, and a hint of white pepper.

Purchased at : Wine.com

The Winery:  (From Wine.com) Positioned between the San Francisco Bay and the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the Lodi appellation, while relatively far inland, is able to maintain a classic Mediterranean climate featuring warm, sunny days and cool evenings. This is because the appellation is uniquely situated at the end of the Sacramento River Delta, which brings chilly, afternoon “delta breezes” to the area during the growing season.

Lodi is a premier source of 100+ year old ancient Zinfandel vineyards—some dating back as far as 1888! With low yields of small berries, these heritage vines produce complex and bold wines, concentrated in rich and voluptuous, dark fruit. But Lodi doesn’t just produce Zinfandel; in fact, the appellation produces high quality wines from over 100 different grape varieties. Among them are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc as well as some of California’s more rare and unique grapes. Lodi is recognized as an ideal spot for growing Spanish varieties like Albarino and Tempranillo, Portugese varieties—namely Touriga Nacional—as well as many German, Italian and French varieties.

Soil types vary widely among Lodi’s seven sub-appellations (Cosumnes River, Alta Mesa, Deer Creek Hills, Borden Ranch, Jahant, Clements Hills and Mokelumne River). The eastern hills are clay-based and rocky and in the west, along the Mokelumne and Cosumnes Rivers, sandy and mineral-heavy soils support the majority of Lodi’s century-old own-rooted Zinfandel vineyards. Unique to Lodi are pink Rocklin-Jahant loam soils, mainly found in the Jahant sub-appellation.

Jillian found her passion for wine while studying neurobiology at UC Davis. Home brewing introduced her to the magic of fermentation, and after taking the “Introductory to Winemaking” class at UC Davis, she quickly switched her major to Viticulture and Enology. She graduated with her degree in 2001 and soon thereafter found herself as an intern at the infamous Bonny Doon Winery.

Her desire to learn more about winemaking has taken her around the globe. To gain essential winemaking experience in a short time, Jillian traveled to the southern hemisphere to work an additional harvest each year. For three years she traveled south to learn how to work with different varieties and observe different winemaking styles. She did internships in McLaren Vale (South Australia), Margaret River (Western Australia), and Stellenbosch (South Africa). Syrah quickly became her deepest passion and she returned to Bonny Doon as Associate Winemaker in 2005, focusing her talents on the Rhone varieties that the Dooner is known for. She played a major role in the transition to biodynamic winemaking at Bonny Doon.

Now a truly seasoned winemaker, Jillian has started her own passion project, Onesta. She is an artist with a scientific mind. Her artistic expression is manifested in her wines. Jillian believes life should be filled with family, good friends and adventure. Life is short, life by truth and honesty and you will always find peace and happiness. Connect with the people in your life and enjoy wine on a regular basis. Her wines are a library of her life and each year tells a different story and adventure.

Read more at: https://www.lodiwine.com/blog/lodis-oldest-existing-vines-the-magical-bechthold-vineyard

2016 Chateau Musar Lebanon Hochar Pere et Fils , Bekaa Valley Lebanon

The Wine:Winemaker Notes: The Hochar of this year is bright ruby red in colour with red fruits,plums, sloes and cherries on the nose and palate. This balanced and elegant wine combines vibrant fruit on a medium body with soft tannins, good acidity and cellared well, it will keep for several years. Blend: 50% Cinsault, 35% Grenache, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Hochar Père et Fils is sourced from vineyards near the village of Aana in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. The grapes were fermented between 27°C and 29°C with maceration in cement vats, followed by 6 months in French Nevers oak barrels. Winery notes: “bright ruby red in colour with red fruits, plums, sloes and cherries on the nose and palate. This balanced and elegant wine combines vibrant fruit on a medium body with soft tannins, good acidity and cellared well, it will keep for several years.”

Purchased at:  Wine.com


The Winery: he wines of Chateau Musar are unique expressions from a country with an ancient winemaking culture, as vines have been cultivated from Lebanon’s high altitude Bekaa Valley for over 6,000 years. The Hochar family’s philosophy of respect for the environment means that the 180 hectares of Musar vineyards are managed with minimal human interference and all the wines are made naturally.

Chateau Musar was founded in 1930 by Gaston Hochar. In 1959, after studying oenology at the University of Bordeaux, his son Serge became winemaker. The civil war that tore Lebanon apart from 1975 to 1990 did not defeat Chateau Musar; Serge refused to abandon the wine, and lost only the 1976 and 1984 vintages to the war. Owing to his inspiring determination and grand passion for his wines, Serge received the inaugural “Man of the Year Award” from Decanter magazine in 1984. Recognition from Michael Broadbent, at the 1979 Bristol Wine Fair, threw Musar into the international spotlight and helped create a cult-like following. Chateau Musar is one of the most written-about and discussed wines in the world today.

Home of the actual, historical temple of Bacchus, which dates back to the middle of the 2nd century AD, the Bekaa Valley today continues to represent the center of Lebanese winemaking. Here summers are dry, nights cool and consistent rainfall provides an excellent environment for viticulture.

What today is known geographically as Lebanon, was the original home of the Phoenicians (approximately 1550 to 300 BC), who were sea-faring merchants and the first to trade wine as a commodity. Jumping to the Middle Ages (476 to 1453 AD), Lebanese wine continued to be of high value for Venice merchants, who sold it to the eager European buyers. But in 1517, when the Ottoman Empire took command in Lebanon, winemaking came to a halt. Christians were the only ones allowed to make it, and only for religious purposes.

The foundations of the modern Lebanese wine industry come from the mid-19th century Jesuit missionaries of Ksara, who introduced new varieties and production methods from the then French-dominated Algeria. Today French varieties still prevail with Cinsault, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah as the main red grape varieties and Ugni blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc and Viognier as the main whites.

While Chateau Musar was the only producer to survive the Lebanese 15 year-long civil war, the 1990s saw an emergence of new producers such as Chateau Kefraya, Chateau Ksara and new investment from major French producers.

Read more at: https://chateaumusar.com/

CV Members Rating (TBA)

View full evaluation here: 217 Summary of Tasting Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2013 Onesta Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault Lodi, Central Valley, California

Best Buy: 2013 Onesta Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault Lodi, Central Valley, California

Technical Notes 

Note compiled by Ruth Connolly


References used:   www.wikipedia.com / www.winefolly.com /www.wine-searcher.com / www.thewinecellarinsider.com / www.winemag.com / www.ministryofdrinks.co.uk /

History. Cinsaut (cinsault) apparently had its origin in France, although it could be an ancient variety originating in the Hérault.  Equally, it could have been brought by traders from the eastern Mediterranean. After having enjoyed a period of expansion, Cinsault production has been declining in many if not most of its locations of production.

Distribution:  Cinsaut plays a crucial role in the red wine blends of Southern France as well as in the Pinotage wines of South Africa. In France, it is used as a blending grape in the Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence regions as well as in the Southern Rhone to give softness and aromatics to wines composed of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan grapes. It is fairly low in tannins, yet high in fruit character and acidity making it better suited as a blending varietal.

Cinsaut is a perfect grape for the Rhone Valley as it thrives in the hot, windy weather.  Outside of the Rhone Valley, it is much more popular in other areas of Southern France including Bandol and the Languedoc.  At least one Languedoc producer, Domaine Le Boede, makes wine using 100% Cinsault.  Cinsault is also quite popular in the following appellations: Gigondas, Tavel, Cotes du Rhone, Costieres de Nimes, Coteaux du Tricastin, Cotes du Ventoux and the Cotes du Luberon.  Cinsault figures as a minor component of Chateauneuf du Pape.

Internationally, Cinsaut (cinsault) is grown in Algeria, Spain, Italy, Australia, Corsica, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Chile, the United States and South Africa.  Cinsault is the primary frappe variety in Morocco and is combined with grapes like Carignan and Grenache to add bouquet and softness.  It is equally important and a major varietal in Tunisia, Lebanon. Corsica, Algeria and South Africa due to its tolerance of dry, hot climates.

Cinsaut is also important in the South African wine region. Pinotage, one of the most widely planted varietals in South Africa, is actually a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. The resulting wines tend to have a red berry characteristic with notes of spice and earth. While some Cinsaut is bottled on its own, its role in the red blends of France and Pinotage wines of South Africa is most prominent.   Cinsaut is also blended with Cabernet Sauvignon.

In Australia cinsaut is grown under a variety of names such as Black Prince, Blue Imperial, Oeillade and Ulliade.  In Italy, where it is known as Ottavianello, there is one tiny DOC devoted to Cinsaut – Ostuni Ottavianello, with a total production of less than 1000 cases a year.

In California, where production dates back to the 19th century, cinsaut was known as “Black Malvoisie.”  When paired with zinfandel, it was known as claret.   Cinsaut is also planted in Washington state’s Yakima Valley AVA, and in the high plains of Texas A.V.A.  It has been cultivated in Colorado.

Current Status of the Cinsault Grape. There are producers making wines from 100% Cinsault, for example; D’Arenberg in Australia. In California, not many growers are using the grape. A few of the better estates making 100% Cinsault are Bonny Doon, Castle Vineyard and Frick.

Despite its favorable qualities, Cinsault is currently suffering a worldwide decline in production.  The grape is decreasing in total acreage in vineyards all over the world. In fact, between 2000 and 2010, 14% of the grape variety was culled from vineyards all over the world and replaced with other, red wine grapes, which are easier to cultivate.  To give an idea of the potential impact on its countries of production, some statistics on national production follow:  France 36%, South Africa 30%, Chile 15%, Lebanon 9%, USA 8%, Italy 1%, Spain 1%, Other 1%.

Pairings with Food: Cinsault is often used with sea snails in garlic, a.k.a escargot. It also works quite well in pairings with rich foods like stews, braised and roasted meat dishes, all types of beef, lamb, goat, beef, duck, chicken and pork.  It can go with creamy Thai curry, spices, fried dough, pizza and fresh red fruits.

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Tasting No. 216 – December 9, 2109 – Merlot Blends

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

One of the World’s Most Famous Merlots

Tasting Overview  

The last CV tasting dedicated to Merlot was in June  of 2017.  Since the famous 2009 movie Sideways in which the lead character, a Pinot Noir fan, adamantly refuses to drink Merlot, this grape has become to be seen mainly as a support variety in blends. A 2009 study by Sonoma State University found that Sideways slowed the growth in Merlot sales volume and caused its price to fall, but the film’s main effect on the wine industry was a rise in the sales volume and price of Pinot Noir and in overall wine consumption. However, not all this was bad because Merlot had been until then massively planted and there was  a glut of Merlot wine not necessarily of good quality. This was not the case in Bordeaux where growers and  wine makers stuck to their centuries-old blending practices with Merlot  featuring prominently, particularly on the right banks of the Gironde and Dordogne rivers (i.e. the prestigious Saint Emilion , Pomerol. etc. )

The  main objective of this tasting is to revisit the Merlot grapes from Bordeaux and three USA famous producing regions, namely Washington Sate, Napa Valley, and Virginia.

Type of Tasting: Blind

Wines presenters: Juan Luis Colaiacovo

These are the wines:

  1. Cava Juvé y Camps Reserva de la Familia Brut, Penedés, Spain
  2. 2016 Chateau Fleur Cardinale , Grand Cru Classe. Saint Emilion, Bordeaux
  3. 2015 Octagon . Barboursville Vineyards, Virginia, USA.
  4. 2017 Mystique . Sheridan Vineyard. Yakima Valley. Washington State, USA.
  5. 2015 Monticello Vineyards, Corley Family, Oak Knoll, Napa Valley, California

This is the menu:

  1. Cheese plate
  2. Arugula, lettuce and walnuts salad
  3. Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken
  4. Grilled stake in pepper sauce with roasted potatoes and vegetables
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Juan Luis Colaiacovo,  Ruth Connolly, Jaime Estupiñán, Alberto, Martha Kipnis (guest), Lucía Redwood, Alfonso Sanchez, Ricardo Santiago, Pedro Turina, German Zincke

Information on the Wines

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

Cava Juvé y Camps Reserva de la Familia Brut, Pendés, Spain

The Wine: This cava is a Brut Nature made with free-run juice from grapes grown on our Espiells (Can Rius), La Cuscona and Mediona estates. It has a typically pale golden color, with a rich, elegant nose that begins with ripe white fruit and moves towards the notes that come from ageing: baked goods, toasted bread, spices. On the palate it is extremely seductive, with a fresh, pleasant texture and long finish that is once again reminiscent of white fruit. Thirty six months sur lie on average.

Pale gold in color, this Cava has aromas of mature white peach, toasted bread and green tea with hints of lemon citrus and apricots. Equally rich and broad on the palate, these flavors continue to unfold on the palate. Its fresh profile makes it a perfect match for paté, seafood, tapas, paellas, grilled poultry or cured meats. Reserva de la Familia is the flagship cuvée of the Juvé y Camps estate winery. In the beginning days of their wine making, the Juvé y Camps family had their own reserve of this Cava, and it is still the only Brut Nature that they make. Made from the free run juice of traditional varieties Macabeo, Xarel.lo and Parellada and a touch of Chardonnay, this is the Cava of choice of Spain’s royal family, and it is regularly served at all official banquets.

Experts Ratings: WE: 86; ST: 87

The Winery: Harmony of land, light, water. Mediterranean air on the vines. Respect for nature. Environmental balance, biodiversity and meticulous winemaking. The 271 hectares of carefully cultivated vineyards owned by Juvé & Camps are located in the most suited areas to each variety of grape, ensuing the best quality cava and wine. Pure expression of the terroir. It all began around 200 years ago when Joan Juvé Mir, a curious, meticulous, forward-thinking winemaker, laid the groundwork for the company. Later, his son Antoni Juvé Escaiola took over the vineyards, successfully tackling the horrible scourge of phylloxera. Joan Juvé Baqués, son of Antoni Juvé Escaiola and husband of Teresa Camps Ferrer, set up the underground facilities in the family home (casa pairal).

Juvé & Camps is a family-owned winery located in San Sadurní d’Anoia, a small town in the northeastern Penedès region near Barcelona. Founded in 1921 by Joan Juvé Baqués and his wife Teresa Camps Farré, the winery’s three-generation history has resulted in an international reputation for producing top-quality Cava. Juvé & Camps comprises 2700 acres of vineyards. Those acres are divided into three properties where native varieties Parellada, Macabeo and Xarel-lo are grown. From the beginning, the winery’s philosophy has been to use only traditional, high-quality winemaking practices. Its Cava is made in the método tradicional, as is Champagne, meaning it undergoes a secondary, in-bottle fermentation prompted by the addition of yeast and sugar. The wines are often aged in bottle for 18 months or more.

Read more here: https://www.juveycamps.com/en/

2016 Chateau Fleur Cardinale , Grand Cru Classe, Saint Emilion, Bordeaux

The Wine: Winemaker Notes:This wine displays a deep, dense-coloured hue, while on the nose there are powerful ripe fruit aromas mingling with floral notes. Feminine in style, the wines have a seductive, rich mouth-feel, underpinned by elegant, silky tannins. The finish is long and harmonious, promising very long ageing potential in bottle. Blend: 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.

RP: The 2016 Fleur Cardinale is medium to deep garnet-purple colored and bursts from the glass with crushed blackberries, mulberries and chocolate-covered cherries with hints of spice cake, dried herbs and fragrant soil. The palate is medium to full-bodied and wonderfully elegant with soft, rounded tannins and a great backbone of freshness, finishing perfumed.

Decanter: The grapes are sourced from a lovely vineyard owned by the Decoster family, located on cooler soils to the east of the appellation, where the late harvest of 2016, through to 25 October, is not unusual. There’s plenty to enjoy here, with bitter chocolate, fresh menthol notes and rich, tight tannins. It has well expressed cassis and blackberry flavours and a silky texture. Jean-Philippe Fort consulted, with the wine aged in 100% new oak barrels after vinification in stainless steel. Bottled unfiltered. 35hl/ha yield.

Experts Ratings: JS:94; RP:93; WS:92; D:92; WE:92

The Winery:  (from Wine.com) The estate was bought in 2001 by Florence and Dominique Decoster, and it has benefited form major investments which have made Chateau Fleur Cardinale one of the top names of the appellation. It is located to the east of the village of Saint-Émilion, on one of the high points of the appellation and it extends over 20 hectares. The vineyard is planted in a clay-limestone soil in the middle of the plateau on a pleasant late producing terroir. The vines are mainly merlot (70%) and then a balance of 15% cabernet sauvignon and 15% cabernet franc. With it’s great value for money, and showing great consistancy in it’s quality, Chateau Fleur Cardinale was promoted to “Saint-Emilion Grand cru classé” in 2006.

Read more at: https://fleurcardinale.com/en/

2015 Octagon . Barboursville Vineyards, Virginia, USA

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Nearly opaque bright deep violet color; bright, roasted aromas and flavors of baked berries, coffee beans, and dark chocolate with an even, lively, dryish body; warming, complex marinated cherries and beets, nut skins, with chewy, dusty tannins and moderate oak. Very dry, old-world style.

RP: The 2015 Octagon, the latest release, is 50% Merlot, with 30% Petit Verdot and 20% Cabernet Franc, aged for 12 months in 40% new French oak. It comes in at 13.5% alcohol. Dried herbs and a touch of cream open this up. It’s hard to see right now how it achieves the grandeur of the 2007 oldie this issue, but the truth is that the big wines here are often closed and not all they can be when young. There is also a touch of smoke, maybe a bit of reduction. That should blow off with time. The structure is fine, with a tight finish, while the nose is mostly herbs and that hint of smoke. The fruit here needs to become more expressive, which will require time. It will show a lot better around 2023. They have proven that they age very well, so there will be no problem holding this. There is no rush.

WE: This wine is full of fig, elderberry syrup and cooked black plum aromas and flavors, with cedar and dried herb tones adding complexity. The tannins are full and drying in feel but will settle with time in the cellar. A long, smooth finish brings a bit of black pepper spice.

Experts Ratings: JS: 93: RP: 90; WE: 89

The Winery:  (From: Wine Searcher) Monticello is an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the center of Virginia’s hilly Piedmont region.  he AVA is located around Charlottesville, just east of the more-substantial Shenandoah Valley. Covering four counties and some 800,000 acres (320,000ha), Monticello is one of Virginia’s more-premium wine regions.

Monticello’s climate is defined by its warm summers and the wind protection offered by the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian range. However, cold winters present a threat – as they do elsewhere in Virginia – with fatal vine-freeze affecting local vineyards. To lessen the risks posed by spring frosts, and to make the most of the sunny, south-easterly exposure offered by the mountain slopes, many vignerons have selected sites at altitudes of 800ft (245m) and above.

The threat of fungal diseases caused by relatively high humidity means that growers have to employ careful vineyard techniques to make the most of Monticello’s terroir. Trellising, canopy management and cultivar selection are all important considerations in the vineyards of Monticello. There is a wide array of soils in the area, ranging from silty loams to heavier clay-based soils.

Barboursville Vineyards are situated on the broad, rolling plateau and foothills of the Southwest Mountains in the Virginia Piedmont, running parallel with the Blue Ridge to the west, our 900 acres occupy soils of varying mixes of clay and alluvial calcareous deposits, with sloping exposures of even greater variety. In the temperate mid-Atlantic weather of our growing region, this estate presents the viticulturist with a dynamic mosaic of growing conditions. Some years favor one planting site for a given varietal, such as Cabernet Franc, and other years favor another in the same varietal.

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

2017 Mystique . Sheridan Vineyard. Yakima Valley. Washington State, USA

The Wine: Jeb Dunnuck-Yakima Valley, WA – “…Its deep ruby color is followed by a spicy, savory, herbal, yet textured and full-bodied red that has loads of red and black fruits, some spicy oak, and a clean, dry finish. It’s already impossible to resist yet should keep for 7-8 years”

Expert Rating: Jeb Dunnuck: 93

The Winery: In 1996, Scott found 76 acres of land located on a hilltop in the Yakima Valley. At that moment, he realized that his 17-year career in finance was coming to an end. The following year, he started the vineyard by planting ten acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah grapes. Sheridan Vineyard’s first harvest was in 2000. That year, Scott bottled a Syrah and a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc now known as L’Orage. Today, with the property fully planted, Scott continues to focus on sustainable farming practices and keeping yields low as the vineyard matures. All of this is driven by his passion to create wines of richness while maintaining a sense of beauty and balance.

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

2015 Monticello Vineyards, Corley Family, Oak Knoll, Napa Valley, California

The Wine: This wine offers bright red cherry and raspberry aromas, accompanied by dried floral tones intertwined with hints of mocha, vanilla, and cola. On the palate, I find the wine supple and invigorating with a wonderful round midpalate that is well-balanced on a beam of acidity. The framework of gentle tannins leads into a lingering finish that is both full and bright. 96% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc.

2014 was another wonderful wine-growing season in Napa Valley. A true classic. A wet February gave way to a characteristically dry spring. Except for slight heat spikes in June and then again in July, the weather remained consistent throughout the growing season. The accumulation of heat during the summer led to a slightly early harvest. The sunny weather through to October allowed the grapes to develop more phenolic and flavor maturities with sugar levels remaining steady. The 2014 vintage repeated many of the blessings that came in the 2012 and 2013 vintages, from the deeply colored and velvety grape skins and brown seeds, to fully ripened grape tannins, and a wonderful natural balance of brix and acidity. Aged 26 months in 50% new French oak barrels.

Expert Ratings: WS: 90; WE: 90

The Winery: Kevin Corley presides as both President of the company, as well as our dedicated winegrower. We have grown from humble beginnings to now farming five vineyards in the Napa Valley. Our Monticello Estate and Knollwood Vineyard in the Oak Knoll District is planted to Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Syrah varietals. Our State Lane Vineyard in Yountville, Tietjen Vineyard on Niebaum Lane in Rutherford and Yewell Vineyard on Ehlers Lane in St. Helena are each planted to premium Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Jay Corley came to Napa Valley in 1969, seeking land to plant an estate vineyard. Over forty years later, Corley Family Napa Valley wines is proudly family-owned and operated by Jay’s sons, Kevin, Chris and Stephen Corley. We are a small winery producing approximately 15,000 cases of wine annually and have come to be known as one of the best wineries in Napa, operating under our MONTICELLO VINEYARDS and CORLEY wine brands.

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

CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 216 Summary of Tasting Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2016 Chateau Fleur Cardinale , Grand Cru Classe. Saint Emilion, Bordeaux

Best Buy: 2016 Chateau Fleur Cardinale , Grand Cru Classe. Saint Emilion, Bordeaux

Technical Notes 

To read more about Merlot visit this NOTE prepared by Jairo Sanchez



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Tasting No. 215 –October 28, 2019 – Less Known Sicilian Wines

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Trapani- Bigstok Vineyards

Tasting Overview  

Wine grapes have always grown on the Italian island of Sicily. The ancient island was covered in grapevines long before ­the Greeks got there. Ancient civilizations were producing wine on the island as far back as the 17th century BC. Many of the grapes considered to be native to the area were actually brought in by the Phoenicians. The Mediterranean climate with abundant sunshine, balanced rainfall, hilly terrain and soils made rich by Mount Etna’s ash all create the perfect conditions for quality agriculture.

The island accounts for roughly over five million hectoliters of wine per year from what is Italy’s largest regional vineyard area—about 103,000 hectares, of which close to 90% are located in western Sicily. To put that in perspective, Sicily alone produces more wine than all of New Zealand, Greece or Bordeax.  However this volume is roughly half of what was produced in 1990.  The reduction is due to Sicilians concentrating in recent years to produce more quality and less quantity.  While low-quality homemade wines and musts for export were produced in the 1980s mainly to northern Italy to cut the wines of that region, export-quality wines are now produced, which has grown considerably in recent years.

Sicily has a great variety of grapes and soils and a very dry and warm climate which favors the varieties that produce wines with high sugar content and a lot of body (hence its use for fortified wines and as cutting musts for northern varieties).  On the other hand, Sicilians have concentrated on improving the quality of native strains and less on adapting imported strains.  It is known that since at least the 5th century BC the Greeks made wine in Sicily,  however even though the island was a center of trade and   arrival of merchant ships in the Mediterranean, no foreign strains arrived  appreciable amounts. However, there were some important foreign influences.  For example, the Arabs (who occupied Sicily from 823 to 1123 AD), introduced  the Moscatel of Alexandria to the island of  Pantelleria and  introduced the technique of grape passification.  This variety is preserved under the name  Zibibbo  and is used for dry or dessert wines. It is known that this grape is also the progenitor of Torrontés by crossing with other varieties.

A substantial share of Sicily’s production are sweet wines.  The most famous is the Marsala which became very famous from 1700 when an English merchant, John Woodhouse, tried along with his crew the local wine, strong and robust, and liked it.  Woodhouse shipped 50 barrels to England, after adding wine schnapps to prevent spoiling during the sea journey.  The Marsala was a great success.   However, its quality declined and by 1950 it was relegated to cooking wine.  In 1986 the Italian government produced new marsala-like rules similar to those that Portugal has for its Portos and today excellent sweet Marsalas are produced for dessert, snacks as well as dried

The presenters compiled a very informative note on Sicilian Wines. See the full note here: Sicilian Wines

 The  main objective of this tasting is to explore and evaluate a sample of Sicilian wines.

Type of Tasting: Open

Wines presenters: Agilson and Claudia Perazza

These are the wines:

  1. 2017 Tenuta delle Terre Nere – Etna Bianco DOC, Calderara Sottana Vigne Niiche
  2. 2015 Paolo Cali – Frappato Vittoria Pruvenza
  3. 2015 COS – Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico, DOCG
  4. 2016 Graci Etna Rosso DOC

This is the menu:

  1. ZUPPA DI ARAGOSTA (Lobster Bisque)
  2. MELANZANE ALLA PARMIGIANA: appetizer size (Eggplant with tomato sauce, basil & mozzarella)
  3. LINGUINE CON TEGAMINO (Linguine with Prince Edward mussels, cherry tomatoes in white wine sauce)
  4. VITELLO CON MARSALA (Scaloppine of veal with shitake mushrooms in a reduction of Marsala wine sauce)
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Marilda Averbug (guest), Jose Brakarz, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán,  Michelle Fryer (guest), Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Jaime Jaramillo, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Carlos Silvani (guest), Pedro Turina, German Zincke.

Information on the Wines

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

2017 Tenuta delle Terre Nere – Etna Bianco DOC, Calderara Sottana Vigne Niiche 

The Wine: As opposed to my other Etna Bianco, which is a field blend of five varieties, Vigne Niche is 100% Carricante. I made this wine for the first time in 2007, after having had the fortune of tasting a 42 year old Carricante from the East side of the Etna. So beautiful it was, so vigorous and impeccable in its venerable age, that I was moved to produce something like it myself. I tried to imagine how a talented winemaker would have made such a wine half a century ago, with little or no technology. And sought to do the same. Vigne Niche is the result. Carricante grapes from old vines and many different tiny parcels (vigne niche), for Carricante is a rare commodity in a D.O.C. overwhelmingly devoted to reds, rarer still on Etna’s Northern slopes. In fact, Carricante vineyards answer for only 4% of the appellation. Vigne Niche is barrel fermented and aged in large oak barrels. It is bottled roughly 12 months after harvest, then released after six more months of bottle age. A shy, late blooming wine of unusual complexity and great longevity, it will reward you for your patience with a rare, noble beauty. Have it with leek, pumpkin or onion soup, lobster bisque, risotto, oven baked fish, poultry, braised rabbit.

“RP: The 2017 Etna Bianco Calderara Sottana is identified as Cuvée delle Vigne Niche on my technical sheet, although I do not see that single-vineyard designation identified on the bottle label. This is a beautiful white wine with lasting aromas of citrus, passion fruit and crushed mineral. This compact white wine hits the palate with sharp and linear focus. That tightness you get at this young stage should evolve and flesh out over the next 5 years of bottle aging. This wine is fermented in stainless steel at low temperatures and it completes malolactic fermentation before going into large oak casks for ten months. Some 9,000 bottles were made.”

The Winery:  (From Wine Searcher) Tenuta delle Terre Nere is a Sicilian wine estate cultivating vineyards on the slopes of Mount Etna. It is a relatively young company, but is known for its high average vine age, including pre-phylloxera vines from which it makes exclusively DOC Etna wines. The varieties grown are all local Etna varieties with Carricante and Nerello Mascalese being the most important.

The estate’s first commercial vintage was in 2002. It has grown to encompass almost 35 hectares (86 acres) of vineyards in four different areas, as well as using fruit bought from local growers. All of Terre Nere’s vineyards are farmed organically and have been since the winery was established.

Terre Nere’s vineyards range from 1960-3280ft (600-1000m) above sea level, and are planted on steep slopes. The steepest gradients are closely terraced and need to be worked entirely manually. Many vines are approaching 100 years old and one parcel is more than 130, and was planted before the phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th century.

Tenuta delle Terre Nere makes two Etna Bianco wines, one a blend of Carricante, Catarratto, Inzolia and Grecanico, and one entirely from Carricante. Its Etna Rosso is blended from old and young vine Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. On top of this, the portfolio includes single-vineyard wines made from high-quality fruit from each individual cru, and aged in oak for up to 20 months. One of Terre Nere’s most highly regarded wines is a single-vineyard red wine from its oldest pre-phylloxera vines. It is named La Vigna di Don Peppino after the winemaker who tended the vineyard for more than seven decades.

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

2015 Paolo Cali – Frappato Vittoria Pruvenza 

The Wine: (WE) This bright, savory red opens with intense red cherry, tilled soil and Mediterranean brush aromas while the round, easy-drinking palate doles out juicy raspberry, strawberry jam and white pepper flavors. It’s nicely balanced, with supple tannins and refreshing acidity. Enjoy soon.


The Winery:  The Wine Maker: ‘I am Paolo Calì.: I am a winemaker pharmacist who bet on a project that is focused on my territory, devoted to the cultivation of the vineyard and the production of wine, re-establishing the age-old tradition of my family in these same lands. My winery has grown together with me and those who work with me, with passion and dedication.It was the dream that I cradled as a child, the dream of reviving the countryside where my father took me every afternoon after school. I have the ambition to produce real wines, free from conceptual schemes, free not to pursue fashion and free to excite. I’m proud to have the privilege of transmitting my thoughts and beliefs into your glass and on your table.

The vines are cultivated on sea sands, shaped by the wind and rain like dunes, heated by the summer sun to become inaccessible. I decided to plant and cultivate only native Sicilian vines, such as Frappato,Nero d’Avola and Grillo, and to vinify them enhancing the peculiarities of the soil and the climate, which guarantees important temperaturevariations; all this translates into a marked sapidity and minerality,in enveloping perfumes and in a great elegance.”

Read more at: https://www.paolocali.com/?lang=en

2015 COS – Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico, DOCG

The Wine: WE: A blend of 60% Nero dÁvola and 40% Frappato. Dark berry, baking spice, tilled soil and a hint of new leather aromas unfold on this polished, earthy red. The juicy palate tastes of black cherry, cinnamon, orange zest, and aromatic herb while its mineral vein is noticeable alongside smooth tannins and fresh acidity.

The Winery: (From Wine Searcher) Azienda Agricola COS is a wine producer located on the Italian island of Sicily in the historic province of Ragusa. The estate was founded in 1980 by friends Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti, and Cirino Strano, the first letter of their surnames giving rise to the company’s name. The estate is well known for its production of Sicilian wines from Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG and for its traditional and ancient winemaking practices.

Azienda Agricola COS wines are made from biodynamically grown fruit by natural winemaking techniques. The wines contain extremely low sulphites and most are fermented and aged in terracotta amphora dug into the earth. Wines not aged in amphora are aged in Slavonian oak or resin-lined concrete vats and bottled in traditional Sicilian squat bottles.

The winery produces wine from the island’s only DOCG, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, made from a blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato. It also produces varietal and blended wines from native Italian varieties including Zibibbo, Grecanico, and Inzolia and classic varieties including Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Pithos is Azienda Agricola COS’s best known and most sought after wine. The IGT is a blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato that has been fermented by indigenous yeasts and aged in amphora.

Read more at: http://www.cosvittoria.it/en/

2016 Graci Etna Rosso DOC

The Wine: 100% Nerello Mascalese from low yields, with a long maceration for a month. A dry vintage, dark and solidly ruby. Very sophisticated perfume, all cedar and graphite, tight and vinous with a solidity to the aromas and a youthfulness. The palate is filled with creamy, rich red and black fruit. A very different expression of Mascalese with a sour cherry acid grip too, and a long, serious, slightly ferrous finish that is lovely (Tom Cannavan).

This elegant expression of the Nerello Mascalese grape grown on the slopes of Mount Etna has a lovely fragrance of blue flower, berry and spice. Pressed wildflower, hay, fennel and ripe berry scents mingle together in the glass. The refreshing palate combines crushed strawberry, juicy red cherry, saline and a hint of baking spice alongside bright acidity. (WE).

This Etna wine has received good scores from various critics. Based on critic scores and price, this wine represents great value. This is one of the most popular wines from the region (Wine-Searcher)

The Winery:  “We are situated on the North slope of Mount Etna at Passopisciaro, an area where viticulture goes back several thousand years.

Our vineyards are to be found at an altitude of between 600 and 1,000 metres above sea level. Planting density ranges between 6,000 and 10,000 vines per hectare. Some of the vines are on their own roots, that is to say are ungrafted.

We only cultivate traditional varieties indigenous to Mount Etna and aim to respect local traditions as well as the distinct characters of each vintage.

The land decides, not us. We believe that only by listening carefully and responding to the expressions of Nature in our territory ca be great wines be born. Great because true.

Read more at: http://www.graci.eu/?lang=en

CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 215 Summary of Tasting Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2015 COS – Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico, DOCG

Best Buy: 2015 COS – Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico, DOCG

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Tasting No. 214 – September 30, 2019 – The Effects of Blending

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Tasting Overview  

In this meeting the participants will taste, one red blend and three red varietals made 100% of the grapes in the blend. The  main objectives of this blind tasting are to: a) understand the reasons for blending; b) identify the blend wine; and, c) identify the three main varietal wines in the blend based on the characteristics that each one contributes as explained by the presenters. There will also a Chateauneuf du Pape white blend for participants to evaluate. While southern Rhone red blends are far more common than white blends, the latter are included in several notable appellations in the region. Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc is the most famous of these, using Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Clairette and a small handful of less known local varieties.

Type of Tasting: Blind

Wines presenters: Mario Aguilar, Germán Zincke

These are the wines:

  1. 2017 Chateau La Nerthe, Chateauneuf du Pape, White Blend, Rhone Valley, France 
  2. 2015 Cousiño Macul, Cabernet Sauvignon Antiguas Reservas, Maipo Valley, Chile
  3. 2016 Faust, Cabernet Sauvignon Red Blend , Napa Valley, California
  4. 2016 Catena, Appellation San Carlos, Cabernet Franc, Valle de Uco Argentina
  5. 2016 Chateau Belle Vue, Petit Verdot, Haut Medoc , Bordeaux, France

This is the tentative menu:

  1. Lobster bisque
  2. Gnocchi au gratin
  3. Capri salad
  4. Filet Mignon with sides
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada,  Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Ricardo Santiago, German Zincke, Patricia García (guest), Pedro Belli (guest)

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources, including mostly  Wine Searcher, Wine Folly,  and Wine.com) .

2017 Chateau La Nerthe, Chateauneuf du Pape White Blend, Rhone Valley, France

The Wine:Winemaker Notes: A beautiful pale yellow color with green highlights. On the nose, expressive and complex with pear, pastry and candied citrus tones. Lovely freshness on the palate, with hints of white peach and dried candied fruits. The finish is long with floral notes, a touch of pineapple and green banana, all wrapped in a beautiful sweetness. This elegant and complex white wine pairs beautifully with a wide variety of seafood dishes and can also stand up to lighter meat dishes such as roasted chicken or sautéed veal.

WE: Invigorating aromas of tangerine and lemon zest introduce this luminously fresh, fruity white blend. The palate offers boldly concentrated flavors of yellow peach and mango nuanced by hints of nut, toast and spice. Crisp acidity and a murmur of tannin edge the finish. Delightful already for its fresh, silky appeal, it should improve through 2030.

The principal varieties involved in a white wine from the southern Rhone are any combination of Grenache BlancMarsanneRoussanneViognierUgni BlancClairetteBourboulenc and Picpoul, though other local grapes may be used where appropriate. In the past decade Vermentino (known locally as Rolle) is appearing in an increasing number of blended wines from the southern Rhone.

White Rhône blends are quite versatile food pairing wines and can work with light to medium rich meals that might often be matched to red wines. Heavier fish dishes with bold seasoning like grilled swordfish with caper butter or baked, herb-crusted mahi-mahi are natural allies for these flavorful wines. Other ideal dishes include roast pork in mustard sauce, poached lobster with beurre blanc, or a rich and savory vegetable quiche.

The Winery: Chateau La Nerthe’s existence is documented as early as 1560, while suggesting an even more distant past dating to the dawn of the region’s wine culture in the 12th century making it one of Chateauneuf’s oldest estates. Located in the heart of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC region of southern France not far from Avignon, the 225 acres of Chateau La Nerthe vineyards are in a single block around the Chateau and have been certified Organic since 1998. The terroir is very typical for the region: vineyards runs along a slope, at the top of which the vines dig their roots into soils of sandy-clay, on the surface there is a layer of the famous galettes, large, round, well-worn stones that originated in the Alps, having been carried down to the Rhône by the glaciers of previous ice ages. The further down the slope of the vineyard you travel, the more these stones dominate. All 14 of the permitted primary varietals are plante.  Grenache dominates 62% of vineyards and the vines average over 40 years old. Chateau La Nerthe is THE expression of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Read more at: http://www.chateaulanerthe.fr/

 2015 Cousiño Macul, Cabernet Sauvignon, Antiguas Reservas, Maipo Valley, Chile

The Wine: This is a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine.

Winemaker’s Notes.  Intense bright ruby red color. The aromas are clearly fruity and spicy, giving a first impression of plums, raspberry, cherry and a flowers with fresh pepper — followed by notes of toffee, vanilla and smoke. On the palate, the wine has a medium to high acidity and round tannins. It’s an elegant wine with an intense body and a fresh and long mouth feel.

Great pairing is tenderloin with pepper or truffle sauce and grilled vegetables. Also excellent is goat cheese or mushroom risotto.

The Winery:  Founded in 1856, Cousiño-Macul is the only 19th century winery in Chile that remains in the hands of the original founding family. All Cousiño-Macul reserve wines are estate grown, vinted and bottled. After seven generations and over 150 years, Cousiño-Macul’s mission rings clear — to produce world-class wines that are unmistakably Chilean, carrying the distinctive character of the Maipo Valley. In 1994, the capital city of Santiago had expanded to the point of surrounding the original Macul estate in the southeast of the city, so the search for an additional single estate vineyard location began. In May 1996, the Cousiño family bought 750 acres of land in Buin, an agriculturally rich subregion of the Maipo Valley, about 20 miles southeast of Santiago. The Buin estate met the Cousiños’ ambitious criteria of soil composition, climate and proximity to the Andes Mountains. Few wine producers can make a completely new start, incorporating the best of their age-old experience and the most contemporary technology available. As technology continues to advance in the vineyards and wineries around the world, Cousiño Macul has seized this opportunity to innovate while staying true to the most important part of their long history.

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

2016 Faust, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California

The Wine:Winemaker Notes: The 2016 Faust Cabernet is a blend of their estate vineyards in Coombsville and Rutherford and mountain sourcing in Atlas Peak, Mount Veeder, and Howell Mountain. Intense yet fresh with juicy blue and black notes. Notes of dark chocolate and dried herbs seduce the palate while silky tannins and lifting acidity leads to a layered and lingering finish.

RP: The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon is blended of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller portions of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, aged for 19 months in 30% new French oak. The core of the fruit comes from the Coombsville estate blended with some mountain and valley floor fruit from elsewhere. Medium to deep garnet-purple colored, it offers a beautiful core of ripe blackcurrants, blackberries and lavender with nuances of cedar chest, pencil lead and camphor plus a waft of tilled soil. Medium to full-bodied, the palate has a nice, firm backbone of ripe, grainy tannins and well-played freshness delivering a long, vibrant finish.

Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the most famous red wine grape variety on Earth. It is rivaled in this regard only by its Bordeaux table mate Merlot, and its opposite number in Burgundy, Pinot Noir. From its origins in Bordeaux, Cabernet has successfully spread to almost every wine growing country in the world. It is now the key grape variety in many first-rate New World wine regions, most notably Napa Valley, Coonawarra and Maipo Valley. Wherever they come from, Cabernet Sauvignon wines always seem to demonstrate a handful of common character traits: deep color, good tannin structure, moderate acidity and aromas of blackcurrant, tomato leaf, dark spices and cedar wood.

Cabernet Sauvignon undoubtedly dominates Napa Valley today, covering half of the land under vine, commanding the highest prices per ton and earning the most critical acclaim. Cabernet Sauvignon’s structure, acidity, capacity to thrive in multiple environs and ability to express nuances of vintage make it perfect for Napa Valley where incredible soil and geographical diversity are found and the climate is perfect for grape growing. Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that express specific characteristics based on situation, slope and soil—as a perfect example, Rutherford’s famous dust or Stags Leap District’s tart cherry flavors

The Winery: Faust Winery is the creation of Augustin Huneeus and it continues to satisfy his long-held desire to produce a wine that embodies the most seductive characteristics of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Born in Santiago, Chile, Agustin is one of the few vintners who has dedicated his entire professional life to wine.  With a career spanning 50 years, he has produced wine in more than 15 countries.  Perhaps best known today for creating Quintessa, the stunning bio dynamic vineyard and winery estate he and his wife Valeria own in Rutherford, Napa Valley, Agustin is recognized as a driving force in how fine wine is produced, recognized, sold and marketed in the United States.  The philosophy that great vineyards make great wine is his guiding principle.

The Faust vineyard is in Coombsville, Napa Valley’s newest appellation located in the eastern foothills south of Atlas Peak.  It consists of 110 acres of mature Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines, with small plantings of Petit Verdot, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc.  The vineyard is farmed in ten distinct blocks, all of which have a unique character.  Yields on the property are especially low as extra care is put into practices such as winter pruning, green harvest and selective picking. Faust also seeks small lots from family growers in other unique Napa Valley growing districts including Yountville, Atlas Peak, Mount Veeder, St. Helena and Rutherford.

Faust seeks to express the complexity of Cabernet Sauvignon and the diversity of the Napa Valley by sourcing from estate vineyards in Coombsville and Rutherford, as well as small lots from spectacular mountain AVAs such as Atlas Peak, Mount Veeder and Howell Mountain. Uniting these disparate regions allowed Faust to create a rich, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon that truly represents the soul of the grape.

Read more at: https://faustwine.com/

2016 Catena, Appellation San Carlos, Cabernet Franc, Valle de Uco, Argentina

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: The Catena Cabernet Franc Appellation El Cepillo presents a purple color with red ruby tones. The nose offers elegant aromas of spices, and fresh herbs as thyme and rosemary, red berries, cassis and raspberries, with layers of cedar. The mouthfeel is full and rich with cassis, raspberries flavors and notes of black pepper and oregano . The finish is bright and fresh with finely grained tannins.

RP: The Appellation range keeps growing, and the new name this time is the 2016 Appellation San Carlos Cabernet Franc, produced with grapes from the most fashionable red variety at the moment. It is from 20-year-old vines in El Cepillo, one of the cooler places of San Carlos in Valle de Uco. Furthermore, 2016 was a particularly cool year, so the wine is really a cool climate example. It matured in French oak barrels for one year before bottling. It has tons of black pepper aromas and flavors, balsamic and with perfect ripeness. 2016 has produced outstanding wines in this Appellation range.”

This versatile wine is fantastic paired with rich meat dishes such as stews and braises, Latin dishes with heat and a little kick such as enchiladas or moles and lamb dishes and tomato-based pasta and sauces. This wine is also delicious paired with dark chocolate and berries and served alongside a cheese plate.

Cabernet Franc, the subtler and more delicate of the Cabernets, is a proud parent of Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, making a bright pale red wine that contributes finesse and lends a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on the growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, bell pepper, cassis, and violets. While both are important grapes in modern day, high quality Bordeaux, interestingly, Cabernet Franc most likely originated from the Basque region of France sometime during the middle 1600’s. Today Cabernet Franc produces outstanding single varietal wines across the wine-producing world, with some of its most classic examples from France’s Loire Valley, in the regions of Chinon, Bourgueil and Saumur-Champigny. Outside of France, Cabernet Franc performs quite well in parts of California, New York and Virginia. It is also a great blending grape.

The Winery: Bodega Catena Zapata is one of the foremost wine estates in Mendoza, Argentina. Founded in 1902 and still in family hands, it is particularly known for its rich, full-bodied red wines, usually made from Malbec, and also for its barrel-fermented Chardonnay sourced from high-altitude sites, which combine ripeness with fresh acidity. Owner Nicolás Catena was Decanter Magazine man of the year in 2009.

The estate is made up of six vineyards in the Luján de Cuyo, Tupungato and San Carlos sub-regions of Mendoza, at altitudes ranging from 3000-4750 feet (920-1450m) above sea level. The winery, with its striking, Mayan-influenced pyramid shape, is located in Agrelo, in Luján de Cuyo.

San Carlos Vineyard (1090m/3576ft). Alluvial origin. Loamy sandy soil with thick calcareous layers with rounded rocks on the bottom (70% Sand – 10% Clay – 20% Silt).

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

2016 Chateau Belle Vue, Petit Verdot, Haut Medoc , Bordeaux, France

The Wine: WE: Bold and ripe, this rich wine is concentrated and full of spicy black fruits. Produced from a tiny parcel of Petit Verdot that escaped the devastating frost of 1956, it is dark, dense with layers of blueberry flavors alongside the firm tannins. The richness of the wine and its weight promise good aging. Drink from 2023.

JS:  A red with gorgeous density and dried-berry, spice and blueberry character. Full and polished. Lovely texture. This is 100% Petit Verdot. Exceptional quality. First ever wine from here.

Notes taken from Wine-SearcherPetit Verdot is a red wine grape whose small, thick-skinned berries are valued for their depth of color. Traditionally the variety has played a small role in the classic blends of Bordeaux, but varietal Petit Verdot wines are now appearing in many regions of southern Europe, the Americas and Australia.  It ripens much later than the other varieties in Bordeaux, often too late, so it fell out of favour in its home region. When it does ripen it adds tannin, colour and flavour, in small amounts, to the blend.

Petit Verdot has, unsurprisingly, a less well known but larger-berried cousin,  Gross Verdot. The Verdot part of the name translates roughly as “green one” and reflects the variety’s propensity to under-ripeness; in cool seasons Petit Verdot vines produce bunches speckled with green, unripe berries.  Due to the high levels of anthocyanin in the berry’s thick skins, Petit Verdot wines tend to have a dense, inky, violet-black appearance. They also have high tannin levels, thanks to the small berries – specifically their high ratio of skin and seeds to juice

The Winery: We cultivate 24 hectares (60 acres) of terraced mountainside stretching from our lowest vineyards at 950 meters to the highest at over 1200 meters of altitude.  The vineyards wrap around the valley under Bhamdoun village from NE to SW, enjoying snow and rain from November to April followed by a dry warm summer.

The vines are dry-farmed from year two.  No pesticides or herbicides are used. Cover crops help maintain soil structure, avoid erosion and balance water availability.  Grapes are hand-picked by varietal in cases of 20 kg at the moment of optimal balance between potential alcohol and acidity.

Our organic vineyards are carefully pruned to yield just over one ton of grapes per hectare, an unheard of amount which necessarily reflects the demands of our mountain terriors.  We’ve elected to practice dry farming, opting for small, thick-skinned grapes of wonderful color and concentration.  Our focus on excellence begins in the vineyards.

All fruit is hand-harvested by varietal in cases of 20 kgs when an optimal level of potential alcohol and acidity is attained. Natural fermentation, with no added yeast, lasts three to four weeks and takes place in stainless steel tanks.  Wine is then pressed and stored until malolactic fermentation is complete.  Barrel aging, again by varietal, extends over 24 months in new French oak.  Blends are then selected using the clean, finished wine.  The blended wine is bottled and aged again for at least two years

Read more at: https://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/bordeaux-wine-producer-profiles/bordeaux/haut-medoc-lesser-appellations/belle-vue/

CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 2104 Summary of Tasting Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Red Blend Faust, Napa Valley, California

Best Buy: 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reservas

Technical Notes 

Wine Production and Blending: [Information obtained from google.com]

The earliest archaeological evidence of wine produced from grapes has been found at sites in China (c. 7000 BC), Georgia (c. 6000 BC), Lebanon (c 5000 BC), Iran (c. 5000 BC), Greece (c. 4500 BC), and Sicily (c. 4100 BC). However, there is no certainty as to when the practice of wine blending started.  It seems that combining grape varieties to improve flavor and aromatic qualities didn’t become popular until the 1800s, many centuries after wine consumption and knowledge became fashionable.

Famous Blends. Though there are infinite variants for blending, nineteen (19) blends have become famous, producing wines with desirable characteristics, based on tradition and experience.  Only eighteen grapes (18) are eligible for these blends, although each wine denomination allows for fewer specific grapes.  These can go from two (i.e. Red Bourgogne, White Bourgogne) to fourteen for Chateauneuf du Pape.

Emerging blends. More recently other blends have appeared. These comprise: Pinot Noir; CMS (Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz); Zinfandel; Carmenere; Malbec and others.

Wines added for blending.  These wines are each generally added in smaller quantities than the main wine.  For red wines, for example, Cabernet Frank, Petit Verdot, Petit Shiraz, etc.  For white wines, for example, Aligote, Garnacha Blanca, Trebbiano, etc. However in some blends there might not be a main wine.

Read more about blending here:




The Grapes Behind Your Favorite Wine Blends

The Joys of Blending

Chateauneuf du Pape.

The wine of Chateauneuf-du-Pape takes its name from the relocation of the papal court to Avignon. After moving in 1309, Pope Clément V ordered that vines were planted. But it was his successor, John XXII, who established the vineyards. The name however, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, translated as “the pope’s new castle,” didn’t really stick until the 19th century.

According to law, eighteen grape varieties are allowed in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and most wines are blends of some mix of these. For reds, Grenache is the star player with Mourvedre and Syrah coming typically second. Others used include Cinsault, Counoise and occasionally Muscardin, Vaccarèse, Picquepoul Noir and Terret Noir.

Only about 6-7% of wine from Chateauneuf-du-Pape is white. Blends and single-varietal bottlings are typically based on the soft and floral Grenache Blanc but Clairette, Bourboulenc and Roussanne are grown with some significance




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Tasting No.213 – August 26 , 2019 – Wines from Jura

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Tasting Overview  

Jura – From Wine-Pages.com

( From BuyWine.com) The Jura region is quite small, a narrow strip of land sandwiched between Burgundy and Switzerland. Five grapes predominate. Three are traditional local varieties. Poulsard is a red grape used mostly in dry reds and sparkling rosés. Red Trousseau needs a lot of sunshine to ripen and only grows in the warmest parts of this cool climate region. White Savagnin (called Nature here) is used in all the region’s appellations for the idiosyncratic vin jaune(‘yellow wine’). The other two grapes are the better known Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (called Melon d’Arbois and Gamay Blanc here). They are used to make dry wines in a fresh fruity international style.

Jura- Taken from Buywine.com

Vin Jaune, like dry fino Sherry that is aged with the yeast called flor resting on its surface, is matured in a barrel under a film of yeast, known as the voile. Vin Jaune shares certain aromas with Sherry, but it is not fortified. Jura is also known for its sweet Vin de Paille (straw wine), from grapes that have been dried on mats of straw, thus concentrating the sugars and flavors. Both Vin Jaune and Vin de Paille are made under the ArboisL’Etoile and Cotes du Jura appellations. The best Vin Jaune is produced under the Chateau Chalon appellation. The Jura makes sparkling wines under the appellation Crémant du Jura.

The  main objective of this tasting is to explore wines from Jura.

Type of Tasting: Open

Wines presenter: Ricardo Santiago, Jorge Requena

A PDF version of the presenter’s slide show is here:VersâoFinal_Jura_Tasting213_ClubdelVino

These are the wines:

  1. 2016 Berthet-Bondet, Savagnin, Savagnier, Cotes du Jura 
  2. 2015 Domaine Rolet, Poulsard, Arbois
  3. 2017 Michel Gahier, Trousseau, Les Grand Vergers, Arbois
  4. 2011 Domaine Rolet, Vin Jaune, Arbois
  5. NV Domaine Rolet, Macvin du Jura, Rouge

This is the menu:

  1. Smoked Salmon
  2. Ravioli di Vitello in aurora sauce
  3.  Chicken breast with cream saure and morel mushrooms
  4. Comté cheese and walnuts and blue cheese.
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jose Brakarz, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clarita Estrada, Jaime Estupiñan, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucia Redwood, Jairo Sanchez, Ricardo Santiago, Germán Zincke.

Guests: Jaime Sujoy

Information on the Wines

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

2016 Berthet-Bondet, Savagnin, Savagnier, Cotes du Jura

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Made solely from Savagnin grapes, this wine is kept in the barrel for three years. Often less full bodied than the TRADITION it combines character with finesse. This wine comes to its best after several years and can be kept for 20 or 30 years.

Parcellar selection, manual harvest, pressing of the whole grapes, ageing in stainless steel tank during 12 months

The Winery: In 1985, Chantal and Jean Berthet-Bondet took over a domaine that had not been producing wine for 50 years and brought it back to life. The vineyards spread on 10 hectares, 5 in Chateau-Chalon and 5 in Cotes-de-Jura appellation. Chateau-Chalon possesses the noblest terroir in the Jura region. A composition of limestone and red and gray marl confers both power and great finesse to these wines.

Bondet uses indigenous yeasts, except for the Cremant. By precaution he prepares a “pied de cuve” to start the fermentations of the various cuves. This is made from a small quantity of grapes that ferments spontaneously. He verifies with the lab that these are the right yeasts before incorporating them into the cuves. Selected yeasts are used for the second fermentation of the cremant.

Farming practices: The domaine is certified organic. The wines are vegan (when fined, which is rare, it is with bentonite).

Read more at (only in French): http://berthet-bondet.com

2015 Domaine Rolet, Poulsard, Arbois

The Wine: (Le Bon Vin) Made exclusively from the low yield production Poulsard grapes and aged in casks for 12 months the Arbois Poulsard Vieilles Vignes has a nose red fruits, strawberries and cherry. On the palate there is a good balance of fine tannins making it an extremely pleasant wine. Ideal when paired with good quality poultry, smoked and grilled meats.

(Amantivino.com) This light-bodied but delightfully complex red comes from one of our favorite regions, the mountainous Jura. Pleasant acidity and bright red fruit lead the way, with subtle spice and a gamey, wild undertone. An ideal red for trickier food pairings like spicy cuisines and seafood! Food Pairing Ramen, pad thai, seared tuna steaks

The Winery:  Domaine Rolet is established as one of the Jura vineyard flagships and its wines propose the whole terroir richness through the large range of Jura grape varieties. For Whites, Chardonnay (most planted grape variety in Jura) and Savagnin (prestigious Vin Jaune grape variety). For Reds, Poulsard, Trousseau and Pinot Noir.

Domaine Rolet is composed of 65 Hectares of which :

– 40 Hectares in Arbois
– 23 Hectares in Côtes du Jura
– 2,43 Hectares in the prestigious appellation l’Etoile
– 32 Ares in Château-Chalon

The medium age of the vineyards is 45 years old.

Read more at: https://www.rolet-arbois.com/en/

2017 Michel Gahier, Trousseau, Les Grand Vergers, Arbois

The Wine: (Livingwines.com) The vines for this wine are even older than those used for the La Vigne du Louis having been planted over 80 years ago. The wine is named after the lieu dit (parcel of land) where the vines grow. Here the gentle slopes are fully exposed to the sun allowing the grapes to ripen perfectly. The marl in which the vines thrive add minerality to the wine.

This is a very, very good example of a Trousseau wine having the delicacy that we associate with this fragile grape but also an extraordinary depth of flavor and a complexity that is intriguing. There are tannins present giving it structure but they are not aggressive. The wine is lively on the nose, has deep, deep flavors (hints of cherry and raspberry at the front of the palate and forest floors in autumn in the middle). It has a lingering mineral aftertaste. No sulphite is added.

The Winery: The Gahier family has been resident in the Jura since 1525. The family domaine is 6.5 hectares with the vineyards concentrated in the village of Montigny-les-Arsures, the place recognized as the home of Trousseau and a viticultural district that is acknowledged to produce some of the finest wines of the Arbois appellation.

Gahier harvests and vinifies his wines parcel by parcel. Each wine ultimately is derived exclusively from a single vineyard site. His whites are produced “sous voile”, although the “Les Crets” cuvée is less dominated by that process than the “La Fauquette” or the “Les Follasses” bottlings which spend considerably more time aging in barrel. The Savagnin and the Vin Jaune are both classic versions, a testament to the old traditions of the Jura where the whites are left in barrel without “topping up”. The reds are as mineral-driven as one could expect from the Jura, with a freshness and length that are compelling. The viticulture is organic (although not “certified”). The reds are destemmed; the yields are quite low (averaging 30 hectoliters per hectare). There is a period of cold maceration followed by a cuvaison of approximately one month with some pigeage done in the initial parts of the process. The wines, both white and red, are aged in old foudres and barrel. The wines are bottled without filtration.

2011 Domaine Rolet, Vin Jaune, Arbois

The Wine: Bright color of straw yellow. Powerful nose that reveals caramel  aromas evolving on woody notes. Frank attack followed by a generous mouth and a beautiful length. The Vin Jaune is produced solely from the Savagnin grape variety. After fermentation is complete, the wine is transfered to old barrels, which are not always completely filled, then stored in an aerated environment either above or below ground with natural temperature variations (i.e. no temperature control). The wine in barrel is not allowed to be topped up or moved for 60 months. A film or veil of surface yeas (similar to Sherry’s flor) develops over time and metabolyzes ethyl acetate and acids into aldehydes. At the sme time, this film protects the wine from direct contact with air. This controlled oxidation delivers a wine of unique ‘sherried’ characteristics and also conveys long ageing potential. Vin Jaune can last for decades.

The wine may not be bottled until 6 years and 3 months after the vintage (or January, 7 years after harvest). By law it must be bottled in an unusual 620ml bottle called a ‘clavelin.’

The Winery: (See notes above)

NV Domaine Rolet, Macvin du Jura, Rouge

The Wine: Macvin du Jura is a sweet wine appellation of the Jura region in eastern France. In geographical terms it covers the entire region, although it accounts for only 3% of Jura’s total wine production.

Macvin du Jura is a powerful vin de liqueur. It has been produced here for more than six centuries, although it was only granted its own appellation in November 1991. The modern-day version is aged in oak barrels for 12 months before release, and is made from late-harvested grapes. All five of Jura’s key grape varieties are used in the production of Macvin i.e. Chardonnay, Savagnin, Poulsard, Pinot Noir and Trousseau. Most Macvin is white, although some reds are made, using Trousseau and Poulsard.

The eau-de-vie used to stop the fermentation mid-process (a method known as mutage) must be made from grape Marc produced in Jura, and must have spent at least 18 months in oak barrels. The appellation laws also stipulate that the eau-de-vie used must be produced by the same winery as the sweet base wine to which it is added.

The Winery: (See notes above)

CV Members Rating TBA

View full evaluation here: 213 Summary of Tasting Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2011 Domain Rolet,Vin Jaune Arbois

Best Buy: 2015 Domain Rolet,Poulsard, Arbois

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