Tasting No. 204 – October 29, 2018 – Pinot Noir

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to assess and compare Pinot Noir from different parts of the world and identify the common features and character of the Pinot Noir varietal.  Paricipants would attempt to identify the geographic region of origin of the wines in this blind tasting.

Wines presenters: Jaime Estupiñan, Jaime Jaramillo

These are the wines:

  1. La Cuvee Mythique Brut Reserve Rose, Pinot Noir, France
  2. 2015 Pinot Noir,Louis Jadot, Bourgogne
  3. 2015 Framingham, Pinot Noir, Marlborough
  4. 2015 Garry Farrell Pinot Noir, Russian River

This is the menu :

  1. Smoked salmon
  2. Agnolotti in tomato sauce
  3. Mushrooms risotto
  4. Lamb in rosemary sauce
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo,  Orlando Mason, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Ginger Smart, Pedro Turina, German Zincke.

Information on the Wines

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

La Cuvee Mythique Brut Reserve Rose, Pinot Noir

The Wine: Delectable aromas of dark berries on the nose. This expressive and generous Brut Reserve reveals the finesse of its bubbles in an aromatic blackcurrant and redcurrant finish. Soft and smooth, with a creamy mousse, this is red fruit-flavored wine. It has a crisp citrus background while being ripe and rounded up front. The wine, 100% Pinot Noir, is ready to drink.

The Winery: Vinadeis with more than 520 employees, is a group with a unique set of skills as a producer, winemaker, blender and maturer of the wines of the South of France. VINADEIS is a vertically integrated global player in vine-to-glass, with a number of specialized tools in packaging, logistics and marketing. It is an outstanding expert in various fields: a creator of well-known brands, the undisputed leader in the commercialization of Domaines et Châteaux in the South of France, a pioneer in packaging and new products through its subsidiary dedicated to innovation, an expert in organic products and creator of a wine experience totally orientated towards customer satisfaction.

Today, Vinadeis has international operations, which make it possible to spread the reputation of the great wines of the South of France, from Aquitaine to the Rhone Valley, across the world. A strong sales and distribution network serving customers who appreciate close links combined with a very good knowledge of the markets.

Read more at: http://www.vinadeis.com/vinadeis-2/?lang=en

 2015 Pinot Noir, Louis Jadot, Bourgogne 

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: This medium-bodied wine is harmonious, with forward, plump fruit and a silky texture balanced by gentle tannins and elegant structure. The very typical Pinot aromas and flavors of red cherries and wild strawberries are complemented by a delicious, lingering finish. Pairs with red meats, roasts, pork tenderloin and soft cheeses

WS: –“Infused with graphite and cherry aromas and flavors, this Pinot Noir is expressive, and silky, with a good underlying structure for balance and composition. Drink now.”

The Winery:  The House of Louis Jadot has been producing exceptional Burgundy wines since its founding in 1859 by Louis Henry Denis Jadot. For the past 150 years Louis Jadot has continued as one of the great names of Burgundy and has gained international reputation for its superb red and white Burgundy wines. Louis Jadot is not only one of the largest producers of estate Burgundies of the Cote d’Or, it is one of the most celebrated exporters of premium Burgundies, owning close to 140 acres of vineyards from 24 of the most prestigious sites in Burgundy. Louis Jadot is one of Burgundy’s most important negociants, both qualitatively and quantitatively, with a portfolio that covers everything from inexpensive Bourgogne and Beaujolais wines to several grand cru wines, from the Côte de Beaune to Chablis. Unsurprisingly, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay feature heavily in the portfolio.

2015 Framingham, Pinot Noir, Marlborough

The Wine: Winemaker’s Notes: “Sweetly fruited Pinot Noir is world famous in Marlborough, but we’ve made it our own by including a few whole bunches. It’s a tricky process, and much more labour-intensive, but when done well it turns the wine to velvet. The stems build silkier tannins and lend a heavenly fragrance. Our final twist is a turn in a smoky oak barrel. Just long enough to add a few layers of savoury and spice complexity to those classic cranberry, cherry and plum fruit flavours. The wine has a complex nose with some attractive, savoury, smoked meat and spice notes. Cherry fruit, with herbs and a floral note. Rounded on the palate with cherry fruit, structured but approachable tannins and juicy acidity. Summer fruit compote, hints of smoky oak and some whole bunch derived spice complete the picture. “

WE: From one of Marlborough’s top producers, Framingham’s 2015 Pinot offers a heady concoction of dark berry fruit, cola, meat, black olive and earthy forrest floor. The palate is equally multi-faceted, focused on dark fruit, savory, and earthy characters, with a lingering acidity and long, savory finish. Drink now–2020.

The Winery: Framingham Wines is located in the Wairau Valley in New Zealand’s iconic Marlborough region. Its focus is on aromatic white grape varieties like Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Viognier, from which it makes a range of varietal and blended wines. The company was first established in the early 90’s, releasing its first vintage in 1994. The vineyard has some of the oldest Riesling vines in Marlborough, dating back 30 years and grafted onto phylloxera-resistant rootstock on well-drained soils of stone and silt. The Wairau Valley’s warm days and cool nights are excellent for Riesling, which often takes a back seat to Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Framingham makes a range of wines from Riesling, ranging from dry to sweet, botrytis-affected wines. Framingham’s top tier is its F-Series range, which includes wines made in Auslese and Trockenbeerenauslese styles, as well as a Vendanges Tardives-styled Gewürztraminer. The standard range includes several varietal wines, including a couple of Pinot Noir-based wines and a Montepulciano.

2015 Garry Farrell Pinot Noir, Russian River

The Wine: Winemaker Notes. Finesse and elegance are hallmarks of this delightful appellation blend. Vibrant notes of wild strawberries, raspberry preserves, and pomegranate fill the glass. Delicate aromas of rose petals and violets intertwine with a backdrop of cinnamon, grated nutmeg, pink peppercorn, and dried cloves. Medium bright upon entry, flavors of cherry cola and Ceylon black tea coat the palate and are balanced with traces of vanilla and blonde toast.

WE: Crisp acidity buoys sharp red fruit in this delectable wine—a blend of multiple sites across the appellation. Medium build, it shows youthful tannins and oak that supports without intrusion, allowing the crunch of cranberry, strawberry and pomegranate to speak forcefully.

The Winery: A 35-year pioneer in the Russian River Valley, Gary Farrell Winery crafts small-lot artisan wines that capture the balance and stylistic elegance of some of the finest vineyards in the region, including Rochioli, Allen, Bacigalupi, Hallberg, Ritchie, Durrell, Gap’s Crown and Bien Nacido. Our legacy, producing Burgundian-styled, varietally expressive, site-specific Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, is being expertly tended by winemaker Theresa Heredia, who works closely with our growers to showcase the exceptional fruit from their vineyards. A specialist in cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Theresa came to Gary Farrell from Joseph Phelp’s Freestone Vineyards on the Sonoma Coast, where she achieved significant critical acclaim, including “Winemaker to Watch” honors from the San Francisco Chronicle. The Recipient of 352 90+ Scores 2013-2017, including Top 100 Wine and Top 100 Cellar Selections, numerous Editor’s Choice and Cellar Selection Designations, Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery was named “2015 Winery of the Year” by PinotReport and “2016 Winery of the Year” by PinotFile.

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

CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 204 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2015   Framingham Pinot Noir Marlborough NZ

Best Buy: 2015 Louis Jadot Pinot Noir Bourgogne 

Technical Notes 

(Jaime Estupiñan compiled these note – Translated from Spanish)

History of the Pinot Noir grape

The pinot noir or pinot negro, in Spanish, is the quintessential red grape variety of Burgundy, a region located in the north-western center of France. In fact, the pinot noir has led to this French wine area to be one of the most famous in the world of wine. Pinot noir is today one of the varieties that have traveled the most outside its original borders. Thus, it is adapted in different vitivinicultural regions, especially in the cold ones. Pinot has been cultivated in Burgundy since the first century AD. A legend says that he came to Burgundy through the Hedui (a Celtic tribe of Gaul) after his invasions of Lombardy and Italy. Another legend says that it arrived by the Romans, although other sources suggest that the Romans already found it in the region.

The Church became with the passage of the years in the custody of the pinots. The monks used it in their sacraments, they improved the varietal through the care of the vineyards. The first documented mention of the pinot noir in Burgundy dates from 1345. The French monks brought the grape to the Rheingau region, where it has been cultivated since 1470. The vineyards owned by the church were seized and distributed to families in Burgundy during the French Revolution around 1789 in an independent and managed vineyard model that still survives today.

Main characteristics of the Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is older than the Pinot Gris or Pinot Blanc variety Although the origin of the variety is not very clear, it is thought that the Pinot Noir was the first of the Pinot family. The DNA profiles of the Pinot Gris and the Pinot Blanc are identical to those of the Pinot Noir so it seems clear that they are derived from it. Be that as it may, the Pinots are a family, and a beloved family, among which are other mutations such as Pinot Meunier or Pinot Gouges or Musigny.

The movie “Between Cups” made her even more famous. Pinot Noir has always enjoyed good reputation and recognition since ancient times, valued and praised throughout the world. But in case its fame was little, in the year 2004 the film Between Cups encumbed it even more to the Olympus of the grape varieties. It is not the first nor the last time that the cinema puts more in everyone’s mouth something, but that happens in the world of wine does not stop being curious. The scene in question in which the virtues of the Pinot Noir are sung is a seduction scene in which the virtues of the grape are narrated in a metaphorical key about their own lives … maybe that’s why it so much and so deep between the public!

God made Cabernet Sauvignon and the devil made Pinot Noir . This phrase, said by André Tchelistcheff, a famous Californian winemaker, is really full. Contrary to Cabernet, Pinot Noir is a much more delicate and more complex variety to cultivate and to elaborate. Not very vigorous, sensitive to the wind, to changes in weather, to pruning and to the soil in which it grows, it certainly is not an easy grape to work with. It is a grape very little tolerant to changes, its antagonist, as the phrase of the title says, is the Cabernet Sauvignon, which grows widely and profusely with great ease, adapting to the lands and changes.

The origin of the name is French. The name Pinot Noir comes from French, from words, pine (pine) and black (noir). This grape variety has the grapes of the bunches in the shape of a cone, like pineapples, hence the name metaphorically comes from these two words.

It is susceptible to certain diseases. The grape’s tendency is to produce tight clusters (hence the origin of its name) which makes it an easy victim of certain diseases of viticulture, such as botrytis cinerea, the rot, go and more prone to have diseases of fungi in the bunches and also to mildew. In Burgundy, your ideal land, you can also get fanlief.

Pinot Noir wines are light colored. The fine skins and low levels of phenolic compounds lends itself to the production of Pinot, tannic wines mostly light and medium-low body. This much lighter tone than other red wines is not a failure in winemaking and is one of its most notable and outstanding features.

The most famous Pinot Noirs in the world are in Burgundy. It finds its maximum expression of quality in Burgundy, where it is the only ink variety, here it produces the most delicate and fragrant wines in the world. Many wine historians, such as John Winthrop Haeger and Roger Dion, are convinced that the Dukes of Burgundy did a fantastic marketing job in their day to promote the Pinot Noir in Burgundy. The reputation of the wines of the region of Beaune as “the most elegant in the world” comes from that time, in which they were sold outright.

Lives in cool climates. Being a delicate varietal,it does not work well in any region, and it lives much better in cool climates. In warm regions it can lose its fragrance and become flat, which makes it lose one of its great attractions. In Spain, for example, we find few success stories with this grape, except for a few exceptions in Malaga or Somontano or the cavas that are made in Catalonia, it is not a grape that adapts well to our torrid Mediterranean reality.

It is cultivated successfully in other areas of the world. Fortunately for the rest of the world there are regions where part of the Burgundy is good, these are coastal areas of California like Santa Barbara or Sonoma. In the state of Oregon, its wines are very reminiscent of those of Burgundy. It also grows successfully in Lombardia (Italy), in Yarra Valley (Australia), Walker Bay (South Africa), Martinborough and and Marlborough (New New Zealand) or in Germany. In Argentina, Achieved, excellent crops quality. Regardless of where it grows, Pinot Noir always reflects very well the terroir in which it is located, producing very different wines depending on the region.

The most expensive wine in the world is made with Pinot Noir. The most famous and expensive producer of Burgundy is Domaine Romanee Conti, who makes many recognized wines, including Romanée Conti and La Tache. Domaine Romaeee Conti has the meritorious record of having produced the most expensive wine in the world: In 2013 Romanée Conti was sold for almost $ 500,000 !! It is not strange that those who cultivate it are so preoccupied with it and that it is a grape with so much glamor.



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Tasting No. 203– September 24, 2018 – Wines for Fish and Seafood

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Petar Lapera, Orlando Mason

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connoly, Clarita Estrada, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, Lucía Redwood, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, German Zincke.

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to experience pairing of six white wines with seafood.  We will evaluate the wines and also how well they go with the menu.

These are the wines:

  1. Bougrier Pure Loire Sparkling Vouvray
  2. 2017 Albino Armani Corvara Pinot Grigio (Valdadige)
  3. 2016 Trimbach, Riesling, Alsace
  4. 2016 Domaine Chatelain Chablis Fourchaume Premier Cru, Chardonnay
  5. 2017 Vento Vermentino Bacci, Terra di Talamo, Toscana
  6. 2017 Val Do Sosego Albarino Rias Baixas, Spain

3. The Menu

  1. Seafood salad
  2. Lobster cream soup
  3. Steamed corvina with boiled potatoes
  4. Grilled albacore tuna with vegetables
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

Bougrier Pure Loire Sparkling Vouvray 

The Wine: This sparkling is made 100% of Chenin Blanc.  Aromas of stone and citrus fruit with bread notes. The palate shows full apple and pear flavors, some yeasty notes with good texture. Fruity finish, champagne like, ending with mineral and gentle sweetness.

(From Wine Searcher) Chenin Blanc is a versatile white-wine grape variety that has been cultivated in France for nearly 1300 years. It is most commonly associated with France’s Loire Valley, and its high acidity levels mean it can be vinified in a number of different styles: as lusciously sweet, botrytis-affected dessert wines, light, honeyed sparkling wines and as full-bodied, still white wines. In the vineyard, growers must keep Chenin Blanc’s naturally high yields in check, allowing flavors to concentrate and its floral bouquet to come through. The variety buds early and ripens late, making frost a risk in the cooler parts of the world.

Arguably the best expressions of Chenin Blanc from the Loire are the sweet, botrytized wines from Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux, where autumn mists in the Loire’s cool side valleys produce the required conditions for noble rot, resulting in wines with baked-apple, ripe peach and quince flavors. Botrytized Chenin wines are less weighty than their counterparts in Sauternes, but are capable of aging as long as the Bordeaux sweet wines, sometimes for longer. Good sweet Vouvray requires a decade to hit its peak but can be cellared for more than a century.

Like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Argentinian Malbec, Chenin Blanc has found a specific home in the New World: this time in the vineyards of South Africa. This country has surpassed France to become the largest grower and producer of Chenin, and it remains the most-planted variety there. Chenin Blanc arrived in South Africa in the mid-17th Century, and was immediately popular for its productivity and its ability to generate high acidity, even in hot conditions.

Maison Bougrier: Noel Bougrier, the fifth generation in a family of Loire Valley wine merchants, works with this storied wine region’s best growers to create excellent examples of classic Loire wines, including Vouvray and Rosé d’Anjou. The company has significant domaine and winery holdings in three major areas: Touraine, Anjou and Muscadet giving it full control over vineyards, grapes and production in a number of sites.

2017 Albino Armani Corvara Pinot Grigio (Valdadige)

The Wine: Subtle aromas of citrus blossom, orchard fruit and a whiff of crushed herb waft out of the glass. It’s fresh and straightforward, offering Granny Smith apple and ripe pear flavors.

(From Wine Searcher) Pinot Grigio is the Italian name for Pinot Gris, a white mutation of the Pinot family which shares its genetic fingerprint with Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc et al. The term Pinot Grigio has become strongly associated with lighter wines produced in great quantities, particularly in northern Italy.

The refreshing Pinot Grigio style has enjoyed great success in various countries, most recently the United States, (where it is fondly nicknamed “Greej”) and Australia. The most common descriptors of the style are “light”, “crisp” and “dry”. These characteristics are complemented by aroma notes citing lemon, green apple and blossoms.

This “everyday” Grigio style is achieved by harvesting the grapes relatively early, in an attempt to retain as much fresh acidity as possible; the variety is naturally quite low in acidity. To retain freshness and “zing”, fermentation and storage typically take place in stainless-steel tanks. If barrels were used, this would add palate weight and sweet vanilla-like aromas, which would detract significantly from the clean, simple style. This type of Pinot Grigio wine is almost always intended for consumption within a year or two of harvest, so extended cellaring is neither required nor advisable.

The Winery:  The land in the Adige Valley is characterized by constant wind which magically combines with the mild, Mediterranean climate of Lake Garda. Here grapevines grow in soil which is of porphyry/limestone origin, which exalts the typical characteristics of many varietals. Among them, the company’s favorite, is an autochthonous varietal called “Foja Tonda”, officially called Casetta Doc Terrradeiforti, which, until just a few years ago, was in the phase of extinction. Consequently, glorious “Foja Tonda” is a symbol of the biodiversity, characterizing a valley gouged out of the soil by its river, and squeezed in between the mountains.

From the year 1962 onwards, the centerpoint of the company has been Dolcè, where grapevines decorate an enchanted strip of land that connects the Regions of Veneto and Trent. This area offers the scenery for a marriage project to espouse tradition with innovation. It is in Dolcè where all Albino Armani wines are bottled. And that is why Dolcè is precisely the place where the project becomes reality, and why the wines of the Adige Valley and of the “Terra dei Forti” stretch simply carry the name “Albino Armani”.

Read more at: https://www.albinoarmani.com/en/home/

 2016 Trimbach, Riesling, Alsace

The Wine: Wet stone and fresh lemon are faint but distinct on the nose. A pure lemon flavor streaks across the slender, taut palate, with a comet-like spray of freshness. This wine is dry and, if it weren’t for juicy glimpses of ripe lemon, would be almost austere.

The Winery: (From Wine Searcher) Trimbach is one of the oldest wineries in the French wine region of Alsace, dating back to 1626. Located in Ribeauville, it is surrounded by limestone- and fossil-rich vineyards protected by the Vosges Mountains. Trimbach is known for its wines made from Riesling, and in particular the one made from the small Clos Sainte Hune vineyard, which is considered one of the finest Alsatian expressions of the grape. The house has been in the Trimbach family for centuries, but it wasn’t until 1898 – when Frédéric Emile Trimbach received the highest distinction for his wines at the International Wine Fair in Brussels – that the wines of Maison Trimbach began to attract attention.(From Wine.com) Jean-Frédéric Trimbach, born in 1811, was appointed Gourmet of Hunawihr, a position designed to protect the quality of wine exports. He transferred the Maison Trimbach business to Hunawihr, where he served as mayor for many years.Jean-Frédéric and his son, Frédéric-Emile continued the family tradition, and Frédéric-Emile traveled extensively to promote the wines. In 1898 he received the Certificate of Highest Quality at the Brussels International Show.

With Frédéric-Emile at the helm, Maison Trimbach began bottling its wines in Alsace rather than selling in bulk, providing a new guarantee of quality and authenticity. The contribution of Frédéric-Emile Trimbach was recognized when the family adopted his initials in the firm’s official name: Maison F.E. Trimbach.

Today, the tradition of quality continues with the 11th and 12th generations of the Trimbach family. Hubert and his older brother Bernard, along with Bernard’s sons, Pierre and Jean, have continued operations and currently produce approximately 80,000 cases of wines annually. Over one-third of their production is exported to the United States. While one of the smallest of the many producers in Alsace, they are nonetheless the largest, most widely recognized Alsace brand in the United States.

View spectacular pictures of th winery here: https://www.trimbach.fr/en/

2016 Domaine Chatelain Chablis Fourchaume Premier Cru, Chardonnay

The Wine: Chablis, Burgundy, France- Intense aromas of baked Granny Smith apples and ripe pear appear in the bouquet and on the palate. The racy acidity is one of the first things you notice along with mineral and flint sprinkled through the long mouth feel. Premier Cru, single vineyard wine.

The Winery: (From Wine.com) The source of the most racy, light and tactile, yet uniquely complex Chardonnay, Chablis, while considered part of Burgundy, actually reaches far past the most northern stretch of the Côte d’Or proper. Its vineyards cover hillsides surrounding the small village of Chablis about 100 miles north of Dijon, making it actually closer to Champagne than to Burgundy. Champagne and Chablis have a unique soil type in common called Kimmeridgian, which isn’t found anywhere else in the world except southern England. A 180 million year-old geologic formation of decomposed clay and limestone, containing tiny fossilized oyster shells, spans from the Dorset village of Kimmeridge in southern England all the way down through Champagne, and to the soils of Chablis. This soil type produces wines full of structure, austerity, minerality, salinity and finesse. Chablis Grand Cru vineyards are all located at ideal elevations and exposition on the acclaimed Kimmeridgian soil while most of the vineyards in the outlying spots are referred to as Petit Chablis. Chablis Grand Cru, as well as some Petit Chablis, can age for many years.

Fourchaume is one of the best known Premier Cru vineyards in Chablis. The vineyard is located just to the north of Chablis town on the eastern banks of the Serein river. Here, a favorable southerly aspect and high-quality limestone soils beget a distinctive Chardonnay-based wine, distinguished from other Chablis Premier Crus by its rounded lemony flavors that nevertheless retain a fresh minerality.

 2017 Vento Vermentino, Bacci, Terri Di Talamo, Toscana

The Wine: Toscana, Italy- Delivers a structured array of complex perfumed aromas of pineapple, vanilla, sweet pear, minerals and herbs. Refined and elegant on the palate with good balance. Finishes long, with the distinctive flavor of rosemary, wild summer honey and licorice.

Vermentino is a white-wine grape grown in various locations around the western Mediterranean: northwestern Italy, southern France and the neighboring islands of Corsica and Sardinia. It goes by various names, among them Pigato in Liguria, Favorita in Piedmontand Rolle in Provence, although there is long-standing disagreement over which of these are synonyms of Vermentino and which are distinct varieties in their own right. Whatever the truth, Vermentino wines, Pigato wines, Favorita wines and Rolle wines have a lot in common, most obviously their refreshing acidity and attractive aromas of peach, lemon peel, dried herbs and a whiff of saline minerality. Read more about Vermentino here: https://www.wine-searcher.com/grape-525-vermentino-rolle

The Winery: Terre di Talamo is located south of Grosseto, in the Tuscan Maremma. The D.O.C.G. is Morellino di Scansano.The 52 hectares estate is on a hillside facing the sea, and offers a view from the Port of Talamone to the Argentario promontory.The vineyards extend over about 32 hectares. They are planted with Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Alicante, Petit Verdot and Vermentino.

At Terre di Talamo the following wines are produced: the Morellino di Scansano “Tempo”, the Morellino Riserva, a Petit Verdot based IGT named “Percecco” and the Alicante passito “Ser Ciccio”.Three white wines are produced: the “Vento”, pure Vermentino, the Vento Forte (late harvest, fermented in oak) and the Vento Teso (pure Viognier).The range is completed by the rose’ wine Piano Piano made with Sangiovese and Cabernet.

The terrains, which are quite stony, consist of a mixture of brown clay, with exposures from Southeast to Northwest.

The Maremma rose to prominence in the 1960s when Sassicaia brought the area’s potential to the wine world’s notice.  In fact, wine had been produced on the hills surrounding the Maremma for centuries but Sassicaia was the first to experiment with Bordelais varietals (and the first to plant vines on the recently drained coastal plain).

Some 150 kms farther south the vineyards surrounding Scansano predate the more fashionable DOCs of Bolgheri and Val di Cornia by many centuries.  Terre di Talamo is located in the heart of the Morellino DOCG on a south and east-facing hill with direct maritime exposure.  Compared with Chianti or Brunello the days are cooler, nights warmer, and Sangiovese ripens that bit quicker.  Vintage variation is less acute and the tannins are softer.

See beautiful picture and read more about Bacci wines and this winery her:ehttp://www.bacciwines.it/en-talamo

2017 Val Do Sosego Albarino Rias Baixas, Spain

The Wine: Rias Baixas, Spain- Delicious peach, mineral and citrus aromas and flavors leave a vibrant, racy impression on the palate. Ideal as an aperitif or companion to seafood dishes and spicy entrees. Perfect with tuna.

Clear, brilliant wine, with an extremely elegant lemon-yellow colour. An intense aroma on the nose, with persistent quality aromas, reminiscent of green apple and tropical fruits (pineapple). Glyceric finish, lingering on the palate, with a perfect acidity harmonizing with its body, making this a very pleasant wine full of sensations.

The WineryRías Baixas is a DO wine zone in the Galicia region of northwestern Spain, located along the Atlantic coastline. Although a comparatively young DO (established in 1988), Rías Baixas has rapidly grown in stature thanks to the efforts of its various enterprising producers, who have adopted modern winemaking techniques to showcase the region’s signature grape variety, Albariño. Not surprisingly, the Atlantic Ocean is a key influence on the Rías Baixas climate. Average rainfall is very high here, sometimes exceeding 71 inches (1800 millimeters) a year, and mists and fog from the sea also add to the cool climate. This climate is why Rías Baixas is so successful with Albariño – the cooling ocean influences help the grapes to retain the crisp, mouth-watering acidity so vital to the distinctive style of the local wines. The finest Rías Baixas wines are characterized by their intense aromatics, and long, pleasant floral aftertaste, often further lifted by a slight fizz. The area’s granite soils help imbue the wine with intense minerality.

The brand is born from the hand of Simón Ferro family who purchased these wine cellars in 1975, where wines of the County were elaborated since 1862.

At the time, the property had roughly a hectare of traditionally grown vineyard and, what began as a complementary activity to the familiar economy became over the years in a company itself, true to the vision of the family who from the beginning was enthusiastic in obtaining a premium quality white wine. Nowadays, the company is property of the founders’ four sons.

In 1986, the winery is built up and it participates as D.O Rias Baixas founder. At this point a progressive growth is established and it has gone from producing 8.000 bottles per year to 520.000 in less than a decade at the present time.Nowadays, the winery has its own vineyard covering a surface area of around 50 hectares and, in the last five years, it has made investments in machinery and equipment amounting to almost 600.000 Euros; special focus being given on adaptation of technological developments to the traditional method of wine elaboration. These investments refer to all aspects of production, from the own viticulture to the upgrading of wine storage, bottling line and traceability systems; not forgetting the economic and financial management.

4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 203 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2016 Domaine Chatelain Chablis Fourchaume Premier Cru, Chardonnay

Best Buy: 2017 Albino Armani Corvara Pinot Grigio (Valdadige)


5. Technical Notes 

See the guide to pairing wine and fish on this Wine Folly page: https://winefolly.com/tutorial/wine-with-fish-pairing-guide/

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Tasting No. 202 – August 27, 2018- Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Alta

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Lucía and John Redwood

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug , Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán,  Jaime Jaramillo, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Reuqena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview

Rioja is the most famous wine regions of Spain and one of the most  known world wide.  Located in northeastern Spain along the Ebro river from the town Haro to the town of Alfaro and parallel to the Sierra Cantabria.  The land of Tempranillo, its main variety that produces bright, berry scented , barrel aged wines. The region is divided into three zones.  Rioja Alta is the western, higher part south of the winding poplar-lined Ebro River. Rioja Alavesa. The bodegas would seem to play down the importance of their sub-region, most failing to name it on their labels. Often that’s because they have vineyards spread across the sub-regions, and many Rioja wines are a geographical blends. But differences there are, with Rioja Baja being furthest from the cooling influence of the Atlantic and having a more Mediterranean climate that is hot and dry, whilst Rioja Alavesa hugs the Cantabrian mountains, and wines from there experience a cooling influence with good acidity and a more mineral character.  This tasting includes a white and one red from Alavesa and two reds from Rioja Alta.

These are the wines:

  1. 2016 Valserrano Blanco, Rioja Alavesa
  2. 2016 Casado Morales Joven, Rioja Alavesa
  3. 2009 Montecillo Gran Reserva, Rioja Alta
  4. 2013 Sierra Cantabria Colección Privada, Rioja Alta

3. The Menu

  1. Gaspacho
  2. Arugula Salad with walnuts and Parmesan cheese
  3. Ham Croquettes
  4. Lamb shank with spinach, carrots and mint jelly
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2016 Valserrano Blanco, Rioja Alavesa

The Wine: This wine is a blend of  Viura (95%) and Malvasía (5%). A nicely oaked bouquet includes aromas of tropical fruits, melon and green banana. This has a full, creamy palate, with oak resin and acidity balancing each other out. Salty melon and banana flavors are oaky, while this is texturally pleasing on the finish.

After manual selection of the best grapes, gentle pressing and careful débourbage (decanting of solids), the must ferments in new French-oak casks in contact with the lees for a few months, with weekly lees stirring so that these remain in suspension, protecting the wine from oxidation and increasing its roundness in the mouth. Finally, it is fined, filtered and bottled with no prior cold stabilization treatments. Bright, pale straw-yellow color with golden glints. Nuances of sweet waxes, like honeycomb. As the wine opens up in the glass, reminders of aromatic herbs, moss, fennel, come out, and also sweet fruits and honey notes. Great glyceric sensation of roundness in the attack. Evolving through the mouth into a broadness sensation, reminders of fine woods together with aromatic herbs. Mineral and balanced in the finish, long and crisp.

The Winery: Our business project came into being in the second half of the 19th century when Francisco Javier Solano y Eulate, “Marqués de la Solana”, owner of a large area of vineyards in Villabuena, on the advice of the famous Bordeaux winemaker of the time, M. Pineau, decided to start making and ageing his wines according to methods imported from the Médoc and to sell the wine in bottles after completing the ageing process, under the label “Marqués de la Solana”. His wines soon began to win recognition, with significant prizes such as the Silver Medal at the 1898 Logroño Exhibition and a Gold Medal at the 1929 Universal Exhibition in Barcelona. It is still a family company, belonging to Juan Pablo De Simon y Milans del Bosch, the great grandson of the founder of the Winery, and maintains the concept of “Vino de Pago” a more localized appellation of origin, which inspired the Marquis de la Solana

Today, approximately 450,000 kg of grapes are produced per year, nearly all of which are from the 65 hectares of vineyards belonging to the family, and around 15 hectares of vineyards cultivated by long-term suppliers to the winery, carefully managed to ensure the quality of the grapes. Every year an average of 306,000 litres of red wine and 30,000 litres of white wine are produced. All our plots are situated within the boundaries of Villabuena, a short distance from the wine cellar, on sun-kissed slopes which descend from the Sierra de Cantabria, protecting them to the north, towards the banks of the Ebro River in the South- Southwest. With the prime goal of preserving the character and quality of our wines, we still maintain very old, low-yielding vines, at the same time as new plantations start to bear fruit. The average age of the vines is over 30 years.

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

2016 Casado Morales Joven, Rioja Alavesa

The Wine: This is Tempranillo red with a touch (10%) of Viura. Offers up a fresh, fruity, spicy, black cherry-scented nose. This leads to a Beaujolais-like, round, fruit-filled, medium-bodied wine that has no hard edges. Serve withpasta, appetizers and soft cheeses.

The Winery:  Casado Morales Winery is a family enterprise operating since 1925 located on the left bank of the Ebro River, just a few miles west of Logroño. Grapes are subject to rigorous manual recollection and selection.  Wine is made by the full grape system (carbonic maceration) for young wines and stemmed grapes for the wines that will age in oak barrels. During the fermentation process there is intense and frequent remounting to obtain wines of great colour and body, making possible a balance and a singular structure of great character. After alcoholic fermentation the wines come down due to gravity to a second shed where they will be stored in reinforced concrete deposits for their malolactic fermentation. After fermentation wine is aged under total control of the ideal temperature and humidity. The winery counts with 1000 barrels, 700 of which are of French oak and 300 of American oak, whose age will never exceed that of 5 years old.

Read more at: http://www.casadomorales.es/?lang=en

 2009 Montecillo Gran Reserva, Rioja Alta

The Wine: This elegant wine has been made with Rioja’s native grapes, following a century-old tradition. It has been aged for five years, a minimum of two in oak barrels and a further three in bottle.  Complex and balanced, its black fruit notes are outstanding to match roasted meats and strong cheese. Alcohol 13.5%.

Winemaker Notes Intense ruby red in color, this wine offers strong aromas of ripe fruit. On the palate, it is complex and elegant — showing a satin texture with fine tannins and flavors of leather. The long finish offers notes of licorice. Ideal with any type of meat, especially game. It is a very elegant wine, which enhances stews and dishes with fatty fish like salmon and tuna.

Wine Spectator : A silky, supple texture carries modest but harmonious flavors of cherry, tobacco, leather and spice, supported by light tannins and balsamic acidity. Focused, in the traditional style.

The Winery: At the dawning of the modern La Rioja, in the second half of the nineteenth century, a handful of enthusiasts firmly believed in the Bordeaux elaboration methods and started to elaborate wine with the with the intention to go beyond the limits of the domestic market. One of the first to do this was Don Celestino Navajas Matute, of a family deeply rooted in Fuenmayor, who found his winery in 1870 in Fuenmayor.

Montecillo’s origins are in Fuenmayor, one of the town with the longest traditions of wine growing in the Rioja lta. Surrounded by vines and close to the waters of a serene and benevolent rover, the Ebro, Fuemmayor’s surroundings are set among the flat top hills, and in the distance the distinctive rocky mass of the Cantabrian mountains.  It is the third oldest winery (second oldest in Rioja Alta) of more than 600 wineries in Rioja, established in 1874.Using mainly tempranillo grapes – the processes of vinification and ageing are controlled with the very latest systems. One of the key milestones of the winery’s recent history is the incorporation in 2005 of Ganimede tanks, which give a more gentle, selective and effective extraction of the wine’s aromatic compounds.  Another major factor is the constant renovation of the barrel stock, with more than 20,000 French and American oak barrels currently in the cellar.

The name Montecillio honors the first terroirs the original winemakers planted in the Rioja Alta back in 1874. The winery is also renowned for its history of outstanding female winemakers.  Montecillo oenologist Mercedes Garcia has earned the bodegas accolades from around the world

More than 140 years after the founding of the first bodega, Bodegas Montecillo maintains its solid philosophy of respect towards the vineyard, the selection of the best grape, a coherent wine production, ageing in high quality oak barrels and refining in the tranquillity of its impressing cellars, where bottles lay that are dated back to 1926, the same year that Rioja received the indication of a protected “Designation of Origin“.

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

 2013 Sierra Cantabria Colección Privada, Rioja Alta

The Wine: Deep aromas of baked black fruits are bolstered by oaky notes of lemon peel and barrel spice. This is intense and hard driving, with flavors of coffee, lemon, blackberry, chocolate and tar. The smoky finish is accompanied by roasted berry notes and shearing acidity. Drink through 2020.

Elegant, Frutity, Spice, Full-Bodied” “Bright purple. Powerful smoke- and spice-tinged dark fruit scents.Sweet and seamless in the mouth, offering juicy black raspberry and fruitcake flavors that become spicier with aeration.  Shows excellent focus and intensity on the finish framed by smooth tannins.

The Winery: At the foot of the mountain range which gives the name to our wines, the Eguren family since 1870 has been dedicated to growing the finest grapes and in creating some of the most outstanding wines.

Bodegas Sierra Cantabria – the winery is nestled in the heart if San Vicente de la Sonsierra, a town of great winemaking tradition, situated in a unique location between the Rive Ebro and the Sierra Cantabria mountain range in Alavesa

The vineyards of Sierra Cantabria are located primarily in the towns of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Labastida, and Laguardia. The Tempranillo variety predominates (91%) along with small amounts of Malvasia (3%), and Viura (6%) spread across proprietary vineyards which total approximately 267 acres (108 hectares).  Altitudes range from 1,440 to 1,740 ft. above sea level (480-580 m).  Average production is approximately half a ton per acre. Organic fertilization. Viñedos Sierra Cantabria vineyards are harvested by hand.  They have been doing ecologically conscious agriculture in their own vineyards for the past 12 years.  The soil is composed of clay-lime, the best soil of Rioja. The climate is continental, with the influence of winds from the Atlantic, but protected from more severe weather by the Sierra Cantabria mountains.

Sierra Cantabria was founded by Guillermo Eguren, a self-made bodeguero, who followed a family tradition of vine growers. Today, the fourth generation of the Eguren family directs all aspects of the wine making process, with Marcos Eugen as the winemaker and director of operations and his brother Miguel Angel Eguren as the general manager. Sierra Cantabria has come to the forefront of Spanish wineries in the past 15 years. This is from the extreme care that they give to their vineyards, located in the best terrain if Rioja, the savoir faire of Marcos Eguren, and his price-conscious policies. Vineyards are in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, one of the most famous towns in Rioja, known for the quality of its grapes.

4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 202 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2013 Sierra Cantabria Colección Privada, Rioja Alta

Best Buy: 2016 Casado Morales Joven, Rioja Alavesa




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

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

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

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Jorge Claro, Cristian Santelices

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

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview  

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

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

3. The Menu

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

4. Information on the Wines

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

2015 Benvenuti Anno Domini, Malvazija, Istria, Croatia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 201 Summary of Scores

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

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

5. Technical Notes 

Notes compiled by Jorge Claro and Cristian Santelices.

The Wine Treasures of Eastern Europe.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Sauvignon Blanc – Source : Wikimedia

 1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenter: Ricardo Santiago

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

Type of Tasting: Blind

2. Tasting Overview  

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

These are the wines:

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

3. The Menu

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

4. Information on the Wines

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

2015 Greywacke, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at: http://greywacke.com/

2017 Domaine Delaporte, Chavignol, Sancerre, Loire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2017 Cloudy Bay, Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand


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

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

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

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

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

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

2015 Chateau Latour-Martillac, Pessac-Leognan, France

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

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

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

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

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

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

4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 200 Summary of Scores

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

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

5. Technical Notes 

From Wkipedia:

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

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

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

From Wine Searcher: 

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

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

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

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



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

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenter: Marcello Averbug

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

Guests: Jose Brakarz,Maria Claudia y Agilson Perazza,

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview  

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

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

3. The Menu

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

4. Information on the Wines

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

2016 Mazzaroth Vineyard, Vidal Blanc 

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

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

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

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

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

2015 Big Cork Vineyards – Nebbiolo 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  2015 Cool Ridge Vineyard – Cool Red 

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

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

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

  2013 Sugar Loaf Vineyard – EVOE! 

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

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

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

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

4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 199 summary of scores

Best Rated Wine: 2015 Cool Ridge Vineyard, Cool Red

Best Buy: 2015 Cool Ridge Vineyard, Cool Red

5. Technical Notes 

Compiled by Marcello Averbug


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

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

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

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

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

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


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Tasting No. 198 – April 30, 2018 – Zinfandel

Club del Vino


Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Zinfandel Grapes

 1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Mario Aguilar, Alfonso Sanchez

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

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview

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

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

3. The Menu

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

4. Information on the Wines

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

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

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

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

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

 2014 Mount Peak Rattle Snake Zinfandel, Sonoma, California

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 2015 Black Chicken Zinfandel, Robert Biale, Napa, California


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more at: http://biale.com/

4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 198 summary of scores

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

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


5. Technical Notes 

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

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

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

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

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



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