Tasting No 237 – February 1st, 2022 – Wines from Galicia, Spain

Tasting No 237 – February 1st, 2022 – Wines from Galicia, Spain

                                                   Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Tasting Overview

The objective of this tasting is to explore the wines from Galicia, one of the wine regions in Spain. The Galician wine region is situated in the northwest corner of Spain, bordering with the north of Portugal.

There are 5 ‘Denominaciones de Origen Protegidas’ or DOP: Monterrei, Ribeira Sacra, Rías Baixas, Ribeiro, and Valdeorras, with the most well-known being DOP Rías Baixas, famous for its white wines produced from the Albariño grape varietal. We will taste two white and two red wines from the two main DOP in Galicia: Rias Baixas and Ribeira Sacra.

Type of tasting: Open

Presenters: John Brooks, with Ginger Smart and Ruth Connolly


  1. 2020 Atalier by Raul Perez Albariño,
  2. 2018 Do Ferreiro Cephas Velhas Albariño
  3. 2020 Guimaro Vino Tinto
  4. 2017 Dominio do Bibei Lalama


  1. Sautéed Calamari with a light sauce
  2. Prawns sautéed in a garlic herb oil over a small amount of pasta
  3. Roasted lamb accented with black peppercorns with roasted potatoes
  4. Dessert


Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Michelle Fryer, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucia Redwood, Jairo Sanchez, Ricardo Santiago, Ginger Smart, Gabriela Vega (invited guest)

Wines Information

The Albariños from Rias Baixas

The two whites are 100% Albariño grapes from the Rias Baixas DOP. Rias Baixas is an ancient wine region on the coast—in fact the name itself translates to estuary.  Originally, a relatively wide variety of grapes were planted in the region (a dozen). But, over time, most have been pulled up and replaced by Albariño—which now makes up over 90% of production in the DOP. Albariño is native to Galicia and its wines are crisp but often well-textured with peach, citrus and mineral characters that pair perfectly with the local seafood.


2020 Raúl Pérez Atalier ‘a cruz das ánimas’, Rías Baixas Albariño

The Wine

The Atalier is a joint endeavor between Raul Perez – the famous rock star winemaker in northwestern Spain – and his longtime friend, Rodri Méndez of Rias Baixas DOP. The wine comes from the Val do Salnés sub-region within the DOP, where Albariño has always been the principal grape. The sub-region’s sandy soils mean that vines there were resistant to the Phylloxera that ravaged most of Europe’s vineyards in the late 19th century. The result is that there are some very old vines in Val do Salnés. In any given vintage, Atelier comes from either two or three of such vineyards (one managed by Rodri and the others managed by his friends).

The 2020 vintage comes in at 13.0% abv and offers explosive aromatics with stone fruit flavors, hints of salinity and sea breeze, plus savory notes—all on a solid acidic frame.  The 2020 was rated 94 points by Decanter—England’s leading wine publication.  The wine was procured locally at Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean.

The Winery

Rodri Méndez is the proprietor of the Forjas del Solnés estate.  The name Forjas, or “Forge,” was chosen to honor his grandfather, one of the pioneers of the Albariño varietal. His venture partner, Raul Perez, takes several slightly different approaches to his winemaking with Albariño than most.  First, he picks later than perhaps any other winemakers in the region.  Most pick as soon as the sugars rise, to maximize freshness.  But because the wines have strong malic acids, the wines are put through full or partial malolactic fermentation (known colloquially as ML).  Perez approach is instead to wait to harvest when malic acid levels begin to drop.  Then, the ML is blocked during fermentation.  Some might worry that such an approach could lead to overripe grapes and high alcohol wines (because of high sugars).  Nonetheless, his Albariño wines have run 12.8 to 13.0% abv and maintain freshness (abv = alcohol by volume).

Also, most winemakers age their Albariño wines in stainless steel tanks, again to preserve freshness.  However, Perez ages his Albariño in barrel, because he believes that the wines have sufficient freshness and that the micro-oxygenation from barrel aging helps produce a rounder, more complex wine.

2018 Bodegas Gerardo Méndez, Albariño Do Ferreiro ‘Cepas Vellas’

The wine

During many vintages—perhaps most—the grapes from this very old vineyard are processed with grapes from their other old vineyards in their primary wine released as Do Ferreiro Albariño.  But in exceptional vintages, those grapes are processed and bottled separately—a very limited production known as Albariño Do Ferreiro ‘Cepas Vellas’ (Old Vines).  The wines are exceptional.

The 2018 is considered one of the greatest ‘Cepas Vellas’ vintages of ever.  It rings in at a slightly higher abv than the Atelier (13.5 v. 13.0).  Again, the nose is explosive.  On the palate, one critic said the wine feels “electric”—with amazing depth and complexity and racy acidity.  Flavors include meyer lemon, nectarine and other orchard fruits plus waves of savory and mineral notes.  The 2017 was rated 96 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.  Our wine was sourced from New York.  The regular Do Ferreiro bottling is available at MacArthur Beverages in DC, but they do not currently have Cepas Vellas).

The winery

Rodri’s grandfather used the name Do Ferreiro for his own winery, now run by his uncle Gerardo Méndez. Do Ferreiro is generally considered the world’s best Albariño producer.  While Atalier does indeed source from pre-phylloxera vineyards, which may be approaching 200 years old, Do Ferreiro owns a ~3-acre vineyard believed to be planted in ~1785— which may well be the world’s oldest vines.  Old, well cared for vines can produce intense, complex wines—though in very limited quantities (production output is small because the energy of the vines is concentrated in a tiny number of grapes).

Do Ferreiro is very much a family operation, with most of the work done by Gerardo, his daughter Encarna, and son, Manuel. The winery is co-located with their home on a lovely slope overlooking the coast.  Unlike Perez, Méndez picks in the normal window, employs partial ML and ages in stainless steel, the more mainstream approach. That aging does include extended time on the lees (or dead yeast cells) for added complexity.  Méndez counts on great grapes and clean winemaking techniques to make his wines stand out.

 The reds of Ribeira Sacra

The two reds are either 100% or 90% Mencia varietal from Ribeira Sacra DOP, which is located about 100 km inland.  The area is better known for its red wines than whites, though both are produced. The most prominent are the dry red wines, mostly using the Mencia grape native to northwest Spain. It produces a medium-weight wine with solid fruit and acidity and medium tannins—perhaps closest to pinot noir among the more familiar grapes.


2020 Guímaro Mencia Vino Tinto, Ribeira Sacra

The Wine

The 2020 Guímaro Vino Tinto is 100% Mencia from Ribeira Sacra DOC. The grapes all come from family-owned vineyards terraced into 50-to-70-degree slopes.  It has intense aromas of red and dark fruit with notes of florals, herbs and balsamic and good acidity and silky tannins.  It was aged in stainless steel to emphasize the freshness and fruit.  Alcohol is moderate at 13.5%.  It was rated 91 points.  Sourced from Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean and also available at shops in DC.

The winery

The family of the Guímaro owner Pedro Rodriguez has been farming in the hills of Ribeira Sacra for many generations—crops and livestock as well as vines.  Most of the wine production was sold off in quantity, though a small amount was bottled and sold locally.  As the estate bottling grew more prominent and needed a name, it was called Guímaro, or “Rebel”, a nickname of Pedro’s grandfather.  In the early 2000s, Pedro was introduced to Raul Perez who helped him see the potential in his old vine vineyards—particularly the Mencia. Perez mentored him on techniques both in the vineyard and in the winery to improve quality, from reducing yields in over-cropped vineyards and eliminating chemical treatments to pigeage (traditional foot-treading), fermentation with native yeasts, minimizing sulfur treatments and the use of neutral barrels.  The result has been expressive, age-worthy wines. While his winery may be an emerging star, it is still very much a family operation with Pedro doing much of the work himself.

2017 Dominio do Bibei ‘Lalama’, Ribeira Sacra

The Wine

The 2017 Dominio do Bibei Lalama is 90% Mencia with 7% Brancellao and traces of Garnacha and Mouraton.  It was aged for 12 months in oak barrels of different sizes—primarily neutral, though it tastes like there’s a bit of new.  The 2017 rings in at 14.0% abv so it may seem a tad fuller than the Guímaro.  The 2017 was an excellent vintage for Lalama—in fact Decanter magazine selected it as one of their Wines of the Year for 2021.  Aromas jump from the glass, with red and black fruit, herbs and peppery elements.  The fruits show again on the palate, with savory notes that emerge on the long finish.  Decanter scored it 94 points.

The Winery

Dominio do Bibei is a project founded high in the hills of Ribeira Sacra in 2000 by a team headed by Javier Dominguez, incorporating vines that are up to 100 years old.  Dominguez also gets expert advice from Raul Perez. In the beginning, Dominguez was also aided by Sara Perez (no relation to Raul) and René Barbier—who lead legendary wineries in Priorat.  Unlike our other three Galician wineries, which are relatively small and largely family operations, Bibei is a little larger and relatively well-funded.  The estate consists of approximately 125 acres, of which about 45 are planted to vines.

The winery, which sits at the top of the steeply sloping vineyard, is stunning in its simplicity.  It’s a five-level gravity flow facility built into the side of the hill—to minimize disruption of the magnificent vistas.  That same respect for nature and history causes Dominguez to employ traditional methods of winemaking—for example, you won’t find any stainless-steel tanks here. Dominio do Bibei produces a white, made from Godello, and a variety of reds, made primarily from Mencia with dashs of other grapes.  They are also experimenting with Albariño, using cuttings from the vines at Do Ferreiro, with small amounts of it blended into their Godello.

Technical Notes

Galicia is in the far northwestern corner of Spain and the Iberian Peninsula.  It is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and north (technically the Cantabrian Sea to the north, which opens to the Atlantic), Portugal to the south and Asturias, Castile and León to the east.

Galicia’s rich history includes periods in which it was part of the Roman Empire, the Visigoth reign, the Islamic Caliphate and the Kingdoms of Asturias, León and—for a considerable period—Castile.  It has at times, been independent and, at other times, autonomous.  At the end of the Franco dictatorship, it again became an autonomous self-governing community within Spain, with its own president and parliament.

Galicia is a dual-language community, with both Spanish and Galician recognized.  Galician is a romance-based language perhaps closer to Portuguese than Spanish…suggesting at least some historical cultural alignment with the Portuguese.

During the 14th century, Galicia exported vine cuttings to other European wineries eager to try out their indigenous grapes. When the 19th century arrived, the whole Galician region sank into an economic depression, further deteriorated by the emigration of many local people to South America and other richer areas within Spain and Europe.

The climate in Galicia is significantly maritime influenced, with wet weather in the fall, winter and spring and temperatures moderated by the ocean.  Summers are generally warm and dry.  But as you move toward eastern Galicia, the climate begins to shift from maritime to continental, with bigger temperature swings and somewhat drier weather (though definitely not dry).  The coastal region is relatively flat, dominated by estuaries and beaches.  The interior is rugged, with mountains and breath-taking river valleys.

Rias Baixas DOP: like in many wine regions all over Europe, it is believed that vineyards have been first planted there by the Cistercian monks—close to 1000 years ago.  For all intents and purposes, Rias Baixas has become synonymous with Albariño. As the grape began to achieve acclaim about 50 years ago, most Albariño vines in the broader Rias Baixas DOP are ~35-50 years old.

Ampelographers have not reached consensus on the origin of the Albariño grape.  Some suggest it is indigenous to the region.  Some believe it is French in origin.  Still others suggest it might be Germanic. Indeed, looking at the name, it could be broken down into “alba” = white and “rin” = Rhine.  But whatever the roots, it produces a juicy, fresh white wine with both strong fruit flavors and solid acidity.

Rias Baixas is a maritime-dominated climate with both significant off-season rain and sea fog.  Grape production is made possible by the relatively dry, warm summers which generally last through harvest (the same phenomenon that makes places like Oregon and Bordeaux viable for wine).  Because of the moisture, the vines have traditionally been trained overhead on pergolas as opposed to the more common two- and three-wire trellis training above the ground.  Some growers continue to use pergolas today.

There are five sub-zones in the Rias Baixas DOP, but they’re relatively obscure and not particularly relevant to us. The Val do Salnés sub-zone is the ancestral home of Albariño in the region and the source of both our white wines for this event.

In contrast, the Ribeira Sacra DOP is located in a very different topography, beginning perhaps ~100 km inland.  The area is heavily forested and mountainous, with steep slopes leading down to narrow river valleys—perhaps reminiscent of the Mosel Valley in Germany (but maybe even more lovely!).

Just as the topography is different, so is the climate, trending more toward continental, with long, hot summers and relatively cold winters.  Rainfall is a little higher than most continental climates—but again, the rainfall is largely confined to winter.

The origin of wine in the region is believed to date back ~1000 years to monks traveling to the region, likely on pilgrimage.  By the 12th century, they had established around 18 monasteries and hermitages in the area – thus the name Ribeira Sacra (Sacred Shore or Riverside).

Technically, 14 varieties are authorized to be produced in Ribeira Sacra.  The primary white grape in the region is Godello, which has not reached the level of prominence of Albariño from western Galicia.

Among the red wine grapes, Mencia takes the primary role, sometimes as varietal, sometimes blended with more obscure grapes. The variety thrives in this climate, benefiting from the long ripening season and the marked temperature variability. The Mencia grape, with its somewhat thick-skinned, violet-blue grapes, for a time was thought to be descended from Cabernet Franc, but that has been disproven through modern DNA testing.  It was probably indigenous to Bierzo (northwest Castilla y Leon) and exported to Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras and to northern Portugal (where it is known as Jaen). Those are the only places in the world where it is grown in quantity.  Mencia likely emigrated across the border with the monks from the Bierzo region.  It produces a medium-weight wine with solid fruit and acidity and medium tannins—perhaps closest to Pinot Noir among the more familiar grapes.

Because of Ribeira Sacra’s extraordinarily steep slopes, the vines are virtually all planted on terraces cut into the hillsides, with most trained on standard trellis systems.

Historically, farmers aimed to maximize vineyard production, resulting in wines that were fragrant but generally pale and light.  In recent years, the renaissance—led by Perez—has reduced over-production, resulting in wines with medium weight, solid dark fruit flavors, spicy, earthy notes and good acidity.  Guímaro’s owner Pedro Rodriguez is capitalizing on that movement—combining his old vines with good winemaking.


The Presenter

John Brooks is a retired Air Force major general.  During his 29-year Air Force career, he had the honor to command seven times—at levels ranging from a flying squadron to a joint task force.  Once retired from the Air Force, he spent 12 years with Northrop Grumman Aerospace, serving as vice president for international and president of the international subsidiary.

Following retirement from Northrop, he followed his passion into wine becoming a wine educator and consultant.  He studied with the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, achieving Advanced Certification—awarded with Distinction.  He also gained hands-on experience, working one harvest cycle and part of another as an intern at a winery in Napa.  He teaches classes, leads several tasting groups and plans and leads trips to wine regions.  But he only does these things with friends and people he likes—and only on subjects and regions that interest him.  In return for the privilege of doing it his way, he provides his services gratis—declining compensation.  This is a passion, not a profession, for him.





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Tasting No 236 – December 13, 2021 – Wines from Douro Valley


Tasting No 236 – December 13, 2021 – 12 pm

Wines from Douro Valley


                                              Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


#236 Tasting  Overview

The objective of this tasting is to expand the knowledge about typical wines from several sub regions along the transnational Douro Valley, which have different eco-climatic characteristics and use different local grapes: We will taste one white blend and three reds (two varietals – Touriga Nacional and Tempranillo – and a blend made with the same two varietals and others). In addition we will taste a Port Wine.

Presenters: Lúcia and John Redwood

Participants: M. Averbug, R. Connolly, C. Estrada, M. Fryer, J. Garcia, I. Mirkov, A. Perazza, C. Perazza, J. Redwood, L. Redwood, J. Requena, R. Santiago, G. Smart.


  1. Casal Garcia Vinho Verde (White), 9.5% Alcohol
  2. 2017 Quinta das Carvalhas – Touriga Nactional, 14% alcohol
  3. 2017 Meandro,  Vale Meão, 14% Alcohol
  4. 2015 Quintana de Cue, Tempranillo,  14% Alcohol
  5. Quinta das Carvalhas 10 Year Tawny Port


  • Caldo Verde (Portuguese green soup)
  • Cod Salad (Portuguese style)
  • Cheese and spinach agnolotti with tomato sauce
  • Beef Medallions with mushrooms and rosemary sauce
  • Dessert

Our Wines

  1. Casal Garcia Vinho Verde (White) – 9.5% Alcohol

From the label: Casal Garcia (literally “Garcia Couple”) was first launched in 1939 by Roberto Guedes (1899-1966), father and grandfather of the generations who presently run the winery. The Japanese postal service created a special edition of the stamp with the Casal Garcia label. The first winemaker who produced Casal Garcia was Eugene Helisse, a French winemaker who introduced innovative winemaking techniques to the Vinho Verde Region.

The winery is located in Penafiel municipality. The town with the same name is 41 km to the east Porto and has its own station on the Douro Railway line.

Grapes (Local): Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto, and Azal (proportions unknown)

  • Trajadura is a golden-green grape, commonly combined with Loureiro, Alvarinho, and Arinto. It adds body and alcohol to these wines as well as crisp citrus characters with some stonefruit and apple. It is a vigorous variety that produces compact bunches of grapes (see image below), which must be picked quite early to retain their delicate acidity.

The Atlantic coast is a challenging terroir for growers, particularly in the northwest corner of the Iberian Peninsula. The climate is cool and wet which can often result in high levels of acidity and low levels of alcohol in the grapes that grow there. Trajadura’s main attraction for growers is its fairly low acidity and high levels of alcohol, which help to provide balance to some of the region’s blended wines. 

  • Loureiro is a light-skinned variety grown mainly in the north of Portugal used mainly to make Vinho Verde. The name “Loureiro” means “laurel” and refers to the distinctive odor of the berries. Genetic studies suggest that this is an old grape variety and documentary references can be found dating back to the late 18th Loureiro wines also have aromas of orange and acacia blossom, have excellent acidity and are low in alcohol.
  • Arinto is a white grape variety grown in the hot wine regions surrounding Lisbon and on the central coast of Portugal with high acid content which covers the citrus fruit spectrum, led primarily by lemon and grapefruit.
  • Azal (Branco) is a green-skinned wine grape variety found predominantly in the Minho region in northwest Portugal, where it is the second most planted grape after Loureiro. It is a high yielding variety that produces medium-sized compact bunches of big berries. It is high in acidity and the crispness of Vinho Verde is often attributed to it.

Soils: granitic and sandy.

Present in more than 70 countries, Casal Grande is today reportedly the world’s best-selling Vinho Verde. The brand has now diversified its portfolio according to market trends and today has a range of wines, sparklings, sangrias. Its motto is “Discover Happiness, Discover Casal Garcia!”

According to James Suckling (European Bureau Chief of Wine Spectator), this wine is a “very typical vinho verde with the green-wine character of tangy and energetic acidity and lots of citrus.” It has a “light-bodied, elegant style with a citrus, lemon taste. Also described as “young and refreshing” and given 90 points by Suckling in December 2020.


  1. 2017  Quinta das Carvalhas – Touriga Nactional – 14% alcohol

100%  Touriga Nacional; 12 months in oak barrels. Described as medium bodied and as: “a classic Portuguese varietal makes this wine both rustic and pronounced. Offering aromas of blackberry, coffee, cinnamon, and vanilla, the palate quickly follows with similar flavors, and the addition of fresh blueberry.”

Touriga Nacional is indigenous to Portugal and grows predominantly in the Douro region where it is used as a primary blending grape in Port wines. While the wine is lovely as a dessert wine, it has repeatedly impressed critics as a dry red wine. It is a full-bodied red wine from Portugal with aging potential like Cabernet Sauvignon. According to one description: “For those who love bold red wines, Touriga Nacional offers profound depth of flavor at an obscenely good value.”

It has also been described as: “a variety of red wine grape, considered by many to be Portugal‘s finest. Despite the low yields from its small grapes, it plays a big part in the blends used for ports, and is increasingly being used for table wine in the Douro and Dão. Touriga Nacional provides structure and body to wine, with high tannins and concentrated flavors of black fruit.” It is a dark-skinned grape variety (see image below) which has firm tannins and great aging potential.

When made into a dry wine, Touriga Nacional is resilient to oak aging and takes it very well, offering up aromas of toasted marshmallow, vanilla, and nutmeg. It’s not uncommon to find Touriga Nacional blended with other grapes (like Touriga Franca and Tempranillo) which can help balance the boldness of the wine with cinnamon spice and red-fruit flavors.

Quinta das Carvalhas is considered one of the most emblematic and spectacular properties in the Douro Valley. Written references to this vineyard can be traced back to 1759. It enjoys a prominent position along 3 kilometers of the left bank of the Douro, facing the village of Pinhão in the Cima-Corgo subregion (see the map of the Douro subpregions in the document bellow), the estate covers the entire hillside facing the river and occupies part of the right bank of the tributary Torto river.

Its old vines are a post-phylloxera plantation, which are more than a century old and represent one of the richest selections of ancient indigenous Douro varieties.

The Quinta dates to the beginning of the 18th century as property of the influential Castro and Sande family from São João da Pesqueira. In the following years, Carvalhas sees an exchange of proprietorship up until 1881 when it is bought by Miguel de Sousa Guedes. As one of the most important Port Bottlers of his time, Sousa Guedes began a rescue program to replant the vineyards and reinstate the Quinta’s reputation after the phylloxera ravages devastated the estate. In 1953, Manuel da Silva Reis acquired Miguel de Sousa Guedes & Irmão Ltda., becoming the owner of Quinta das Carvalhas, one of the largest estates of the Douro and Real Companhia Velha’s most important property.

Quinta das Carvalhas is characterized by very particular edaphoclimatic conditions. Its vines are located at various altitudes, extending from the riverbank to the top of the slope. The largest vine exposure faces a northern sun exposure, but another part of the vineyard on the other side of the hill faces a southern exposure. Most of the parcels are planted in areas of steep inclination at the top of the hill.

The company’s best Ports are made from the oldest and most noble vines at the Quinta. Its potential for great wine production was highly increased in the 1990s with the traceability of all parcels. Following this process, some areas of the vineyard were intended for production of top-quality Douro wines. The vineyard stands out in the landscape for its characteristics of mountain viticulture, as it is planted in terraces, or modern micro-terraces, at 40% to 70% slopes and varying from 80 to 500 meters in altitude over a total area of 134.5 hectares, of which Touriga Nacional occupies the largest single share, 25.2 ha, or 18.7% of the total.

Soils are characterized for their medium texture, a reasonable number of fine elements (limo), low/medium fertility levels, low levels of organic matter (inferior to 1%) and acidic reaction. Despite these shortages, the soil is ideal for the culture of the vine as it cohabits well under these conditions, producing high quality grapes with great oenological potential.

  1.  2017 Meandro  Vale Meão – 14% Alcohol

According to the label, “produced and bottled at Vale Meão, a famous estate contoured by a vast meander of the Douro River from a blend composed of Touriga Nacional (45%), Touriga Franca (33%), Tinta Roriz (15%), Tinta Barroca (5%), and Alicante Bouschet (2%).

Wine Advocate — 92 points – “big flavor and expressive fruit, this also has a fresh feel, reasonable concentration, and a beautiful, long finish. It adds admirable mid-palate finesse too…It looks like a super Meandro, one of the best and a fine bargain.”  Intense, Red Fruit, Black Fruit, Full-bodied.

Wine Enthusiast – 92 points – “the second wine of the great Vale Meão estate in the Douro Superior, this is impressive in itself. A Lifted violet note permeates the rich berry fruit. It is a rich, concentrated wine that should age further.”

Wine Spectator – 90 points – “this wine shows good finesse and density to the boysenberry and ripe currant notes, detailed with savory spice, licorice, and violet accents. Red plum and mocha hints chime in on the velvety finish.”

The Grapes:

  • Touriga Nacional – see above
  • Touriga Franca (or Touriga Francesa) is an important dark-skinned grape (see image below) variety used in the production of Portand dry red wines from Portugal’s Douro wine region. Even though it is much more widely planted than Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca is the less prestigious of the two grapes. Touriga Franca is more aromatic and lighter bodied than Touriga Nacional, though lacking sufficient intensity and concentration to make it a blockbuster variety as a varietal. Occasionally, Touriga Franca is produced as a fortified Its origins are unclear and its name misleading, for Touriga Franca is not a French grape. It seems most likely that Touriga Franca is either a mutation, or a crossing of Touriga Nacional and an unknown parent, possibly Mourisco Tinto (Marufo). Either way, Touriga Franca’s plentiful yields have made it a favored and integral component of Douro wines.
  • Tinta Roriz is the Portuguese name for Tempranillo (see below), together with Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca, accounts for the majority of red wine grapes grown in the Douro vineyards, as they are among the four most valued ingredients in Port wines. But the modern face of Portuguese wine is looking away from the fortified winestyle with which the nation has been so strongly associated, so these grapes are being used increasingly in dry, red table wines.
  • Tinta Barroca is one of the most common red-wine varieties in the Douro Valleyof northern Portugal. It is used most often to make Port, an application to which it is particularly well suited, as the grapes’ naturally high sugar levels (and correspondingly high potential alcohol) make them extremely useful for fortified wine production. Thanks to its generous yields, Tinta Barroca is extremely popular with growers; it is the third most widely planted variety in the Douro. It holds markedly less sway with winemakers, who prefer the quality of Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), the valley’s most and second-most widely planted varieties.
  • Alicante Bouschet is a teinturiergrape variety (see image below) widely planted in Spain, Portugal, and France. It has a long history in the wine world but lost ground in the late 20th Century in favor of more fashionable international varieties. However, it is enjoying a renaissance of sorts, with modern producers making some excellent examples at attractive prices. The variety is a crossing of Petit Bouschet and Grenache, and was first cultivated by viticulturalist Henri Bouschet in 1866. Originally designed as a blending grape to improve the depth of color of such popular 19th Century grapes as Aramon, Alicante Bouschet quickly became popular, not just for its intense coloring but for its generous yields. With its high-yielding, easy-to-grow vines, Alicante Bouschet was used to help rebuild devastated European wine industries following the phylloxera In a blend, Alicante Bouschet contributes soft texture and desirable color. However, its ability to ripen and produce large crops very early in the season can come at the expense of depth and alcoholic strength.

Quinta do Vale Meão was founded in 1877 by the legendary Dona Antònia Adelaide Ferreira and is owned today by her great-great-grandson Francisco “Xito” Olazabal. Vale Meão built its reputation supplying fruit to the famed 250-year-old Port house Ferreira. In 1952, its vineyards were chosen to create a revolutionary wine, which for decades would be the Douro’s only globally recognized table wine.

Vale Meão began a new life in 1998 when Xito realized his dream of making his own wine from his family’s estate. Success came quickly, and in 2011, Portugal’s leading wine publication Revista de Vinhos named Xito Winemaker of the Year. Today Xito is recognized as a leading figure in the Douro table wine revolution, which has captured the attention of the wine world.

Located at Vila Nova de Foz Côa, the estate consists of a sizeable 62 hectares of vines, with three different soil types: slate, granite, and alluvial gravel. These different terroirs are important for the final wine: for example, the Touriga from granite tastes almost like Dão, whereas from schist it is much richer and fuller. The different varieties are planted in blocks, with overall proportions being Touriga Nacional 35%, Tinta Roriz 30%, Touriga Francesa 15%, Tinta Amarela 10%, Tinta Barroca 5% and Tinto Cão 5%.


  1. 2015  Quintana de Cue – Ribera del Duero – aged in French oak barrels for 24 months – 14% Alcohol – 100 % Tempranillo

The backbone of some of the best Spanish wines, Tempranillo is a red grape variety grown throughout Spain and Portugal. Tempranillo produces red wines with red fruit and leather aromas, high tannins, moderate to low acidity, and moderate alcohol. In 2020, Tempranillo was the third most-planted grape variety in the world, with the majority of plantings being in the Iberian peninsula.

Tempranillo is a relatively thick-skinned red grape with a high anthocyanin count that makes for deep-colored red wines with moderate tannins. While the variety is often accused of lacking its own idiosyncratic flavor profile, Tempranillo wines can produce a wide range of aromas, ranging from strawberries, blackcurrants, and cherries to prunes, chocolate, leather and tobacco depending on vineyard age and mesoclimate. Moderate to full-bodied, Tempranillo generally shows moderate tannins with moderate to low acidity.

Temperate climates (or those with good diurnal temperature shift) such as Rioja and Ribera del Duero produce long-lived, structured, often elegant wines. In warmer climates, the variety can take on a darker fruit aspect with high alcohol, high tannins, and low acidity. Oak and Tempranillo marry well together. American oak is the traditional choice of winemakers in Rioja, and Tempranillo’s flavor profile integrates well with the vanilla and coconut notes imparted by new American oak barrels. Further west in Ribera del Duero, the fashion is to use higher proportions of French and used-oak barrels to allow Tempranillo’s fruit to shine with a focus on more spiced oak flavors. However, with time, the two styles have been gradually consolidating and the consumer can now find complex wines made with an oak regime combining all these options.

Our wine, according to Total Wine – “aromas of black, ripe fruit with hints of spice offer complexity. Black fruit and ripe tannins linger on the palate with a long finish.” Also described as “red, rich, intense.”

This wine was produced by the Bodega Valdrinal located in Aldehorno in Segovia province, where it has 25 ha of vineyards and, according to the winery “a continental Mediterranean climate characterized by soft and dry summers and cold winters with a huge thermal amplitude during the seasons” and where “rainfall normally takes place at the end of autumn and during winter and spring.” It also states that “our vineyards from Aldehorno…are located in an altitude between 910 and 1050 meters, which make them among the highest vineyards of the A.O. Ribera del Duero,” noting that “this altitude gives our wines a highest acidity produced by the thermal amplitude (difference between the highest and lowest temperature) that is used to be registered. Furthermore, the cluster ripening is slower and more progressive than in lower altitudes.”

It also observes that “we have different kinds of soils. Limestone with gravel surface: it provides a good alcoholic content, low acidity, and an excellent quality to our wines. Clay soil: it has a better nutrient and water retentive capacity. It gives more structure and elegance to our wines because the grapes’ growth cycles are longer and a higher content of polyphenols during the ripening is reached.” Lastly, it affirms that “the origin of the quality of our wines lies in the care given to our vineyards during the whole year. The best grapes are selected by crop thinning (or “premature harvest”) followed by a “fine harvest.” Once this finishes, the elaboration of the wines in made in temperature-controlled vats in which we do pre-fermentation macerations for 4/6 days. The wines are then aged in French oak barrels. The barrel room has 500 barrels that are renovated every three years.

  1. Quinta das Carvalhas 10 Yr Tawny Port

Over a hundred varieties of grapes are sanctioned for port production, although only five (Tinta BarrocaTinto Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Touriga Francesa, and Touriga Nacional) are widely cultivated and used. Touriga Nacional is widely considered the most desirable port grape but the difficulty in growing it and the small yields cause Touriga Francesa to be the most widely planted grape. All Ports commercially available are from a blend of different grapes.

Tawny ports are wines usually made from red grapes that are aged in wooden barrels exposing them to gradual oxidation and evaporation. As a result of this oxidation, they mellow to a golden-brown color. The exposure to oxygen imparts “nutty” flavors to the wine, which is blended to match the house style.

Wine Spectator- Porto, Douro, Portugal – “”Sports a toasty edge, with hazelnut and singed almond notes, while the core of plum cake and cinnamon holds steady through the finish…”” The winery played an integral role in the growth and history of the Port industry, helping regulate and promote trade. Also described as Medium bodied, semi-sweet with a caramel-toffee taste. “Medium in acidity with grippy, medium-plus tannin.” According to the winery, its Ports are aged in oak barrels. It also produces Ruby Ports and 20, 30, and 40 year Tawny Ports at prices around US$ 50, US$ 100, and US$ 150/bottle, respectively.

A complete presentation on the Douro Valey wine productions characteristics is available here as prepared  by John and Lúcia Redwood    2021 12 06 Douro Valley

Tasting Summary Grades of the wines of this event:

Printer friendly version of the table above:



Does the punishment fit the crime? 

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Programa de Degustaciones de 2022

Programa de Degustaciones de 2022

Criterios generales

1. El Programa de Degustaciones de 2022 se enfoca en regiones específicas de un país para enfatizar los vinos, varietales o estilos más característicos de la región seleccionada. Este proceso permitirá un mejor conocimiento de los vinos de esa región y de sus varietales, estilos y mezclas asociados.
2. Los vinos deberían estar preferentemente disponibles en el área de Washington.
3. Las regiones o DOC consideradas serían distintas a las presentadas en los programas de 2019, 2020 y 2021.
4. La calificación de los vinos debería ser de 90 o más puntos según críticos reconocidos o de un promedio de varias calificaciones.
5. El costo total de un juego de cuatro vinos a degustar debe ser de un máximo de $240 dólares.
6. Los presentadores deberán indicar la fecha de la degustación y la región seleccionada antes de noviembre de 2021.
7. Otras actividades, como las visitas a bodegas o durante las presentaciones de cata, se introducirían en el programa a medida que los miembros las propongan.
8. El Programa de degustaciones de 2022 contempla explorar vinos provenientes de un grupo de países con volumen de producción intermedio y un país con alta diversidad de regiones, varietales, estilos, una larga tradición vitivinícola y cercanía cultural con las Américas.
9. El director técnico estará disponible para ayudar a los socios en el proceso de selección de países regiones y vinos.


Este Anexo contiene la información general para ayudar los socios a escoger los países, regiones y DOC que los socios podrían considerar para la selección de sus vinos.
A. España. Un país de alta producción vinícola (3.248,000 litros/año en 2021), se ha seleccionado para profundizar y ampliar el conocimiento de sus regiones en el programa de degustaciones de 2022. Se prevé que tendríamos seis degustaciones de este país durante 2022
1. Regiones de España (en orden de volumen de producción de vino):

Castilla La Mancha
Castilla y León
La Rioja
Pais Vasco
Valle del Duero

2. Principales DOC de España
Actualmente, en España existe un total de 96 Denominaciones de Origen Protegidas variadas. Estas se dividen entre diferentes tipos: 67 Denominaciones de Origen (DO); 2 Denominaciones de Origen Calificadas (DOCa); 19 Vinos de Pago (VP); y 8 Vinos de Calidad (VC).


Supra autónomas 3
Andalucía 8
Aragón 5
Asturias 1
Canarias 11
Cantabria 2
Castilla la Mancha 20
Castilla y León 13
Cataluña 11
Extremadura 1
Galicia 5
Baleares 2
Madrid 1
Murcia 2
Navarra 4
País Vasco 3
C. Valenciana 7
Total 99

B. Otros países. Adicionalmente se han incluido 8 países con un nivel intermedio de producción (250.000 a 750,000 Litros en 2021) para completar las 6 degustaciones restantes del programa de 2022. Estos países son, en orden de producción anual:

Nueva Zelanda

1. Principales regiones de Portugal: Vinho Verde, Trás-os-Montes, Douro Valley, Távora-Varosa, Beira Interior, Tejo, Alentejo, Algarve, Setúbal, Madeira, Lisboa, Bairrada, Dão.
2. Principales regiones de Hungría: Sopron, Pannonhalma, Etyek-Buda, Matra, Eger, Tokaj, Nagy-Somló, Badacsony, Balatonfüred-Csopak, Balatonboglár, Villány, Szekszárd.
3. Principales regiones de Grecia: Macedonia, (Epirus, Macedonia, Thrace), Central Greece (Attica Thessaly), Southern Greece (Crete Peloponesse, Kefalonia), Aegean Islands (Samos,Santorini, Limnos) .
4. Principales regiones de Austria: Niederosterreich, (lower Austria), Burgenland, Esteiermark, Wien (Viena.)
5. Principales regiones de Rusia: Krasnodar, Dagestan, Stavropol, Rostov, (Crimea?)
6. Principales Regiones de Rumania: Crisana and Muramures, Transyvania, Moldovan Hills, Banat, Dobrogea, Danube Terraces, Oltenia, Multenia.
7. Principales regiones de Brasil: High Sierra Gaucha, Campanha, Vale dos Vinhedos, São Joaquim Plateau, Campos de Cima da Terra, San Francisco Valley.
8. Principales Regiones de Nueva Zelanda: Malborough, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Canterbury Waipara, Central Otago, Wairarapa, Aukland, Nelson.

Wikipedia.com, Winesearcher.com, Winefolly.com, Wine.com, Totalwine.com, McArthur Beverages, Calvertwoodley.com
Wine Folly, The Master Guide, Madeline Puckette
Oxford Companion to Wine, Jancis Robinson Fourth Edition
Wine Bible, Karen McNeil 2nd Edition


First Draft of the 2022 Tasting Program of the Club del Vino:

Club del Vino Tasting Program Calendar for 2022 (first draft) 


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Tasting No 235 – October 26, 2021 – Wines from Australia

Tasting No 235 – October 26, 2021 – Wines from Australia


                                              Capri Ristorante, McLean VA


 Tasting Overview

 The objective of this tasting is to expand the knowledge about the wines from Australia, selecting two very different regions in terms of climate and location, which are Southern and Western Australia. This tasting is a small sample of Australia’s excellent wines, the 5th most extensive wine-producing country and wine exporter globally.


South Australia is what California is to the USA: the wine state. From this state, three different reds were selected, two shiraz, and one cabernet, all produced by Davey Family from McLaren Vale. This producer has an excellent reputation for its outstanding wines, which also have the particularity of coming from grape parcels of the same Estate. This in-house production is relatively unusual, compared to the tradition in Australia, of shipping grapes or grape juice long distances from vineyards to corporate cellars.

From Western Australia, a Chardonnay from Margaret River was selected. This wine is a classic example of a variety that has remained, year after year, Australia’s best-selling dry white, produced by one of the most experienced winemakers in this region.

At the end of this post there is a link for a deeper view of the Australian wine production history. Check it out.

Type of tasting: Open

Presenters: Cristian Santelices and Jorge Claro

The wines: 

  1. 2019 Snake + Herring Tough Love Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia
  2. 2018 Davey Family Estate Grown Shiraz, McLaren Vale
  3. 2018 Davey Family Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale
  4. 2016 D Block, Davey Family Reserve Shiraz, McLaren Vale.

 The menu:

  1. Avocado with chicken salad
  2. Mushroom soup
  3. Fried eggplant with tomato sauce
  4. Lamb chop

Participants: Marcello Averbug, Jose Brakarz, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connoly, Clara Estrada, Michelle Fryer, Italo Mirkow, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucia Redwood, Jorge Requeña, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago, and German Zincke.

Information on the Wines

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

2019 Snake + Herring Tough Love Chardonnay, Margaret River, Western Australia

The wine. Critics have scored this wine between 89 to 93 points. Users have rated this wine 4 out of 5 stars. A graceful nose of grapefruit and orange starts off this wine and melds with salt, smoke, toast, and crushed stone. The palate slithers along with a slick textured but crackling with crunchy acidity and a long, oyster shell finish (Christina Pickard Rating 93).


The mid-palate seems sunny and varietal; the finish tends towards tart. Tales of two wines. Pear and stone fruit flavors lead to citrus and steel. It works in a juicy/refreshing way (TOTAL WINE Rating 90). 

The winery.  Margaret River is situated in the farthest reaches of Western Australia. Relatively warm and dry, the region is cooled by breezes from the Indian Ocean. Age-worthy Chardonnays are regional specialties.

Snake (Tony Davis) and Herring (Redmond Sweeney) are a pair of old friends, united by their love of great Aussie wine, and their distaste for the conventional, the over-packaged and lazy in viticultural terms. Their focus is terroir-driven, and their experience has led them to deeply understand which slices of the west coast are most capable of delivering the goods when it comes to character, flavor and aroma. The results, too, speak for themselves: Snake & Herring wines show what can become of well-known grape varietals when left alone to do their thing in different landscapes, and their bottles are rarely anything less than fantastic and fascinating in equal measures.

Described by James Halliday as …”one of the most experienced winemakers in Western Australia”, Tony “Snake” Davis has over 25 years’ wine making experience across the renowned wine regions of Oregon, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Tasmania, South Australia and of course, Western Australia. Redmond “Herring” Sweeny is an accountant by trade and a sports mad wine addict by passion. Staunchly Western Australian and proud of it. Redmond is an experienced marketing professional with years of sales and distribution under his belt. In 2011 these two chaps met, collaborated and Snake and Herring, The Wine Odyssey was created.

Their wines are an expression of the individual sites and styles, and they employ innovative wine making techniques to get the best out of the fruit. Handpicking, whole bunches, small batches, wild fermentation, raw juices, and big barrels all work to build wines with texture and complexity. Nine years on, with a swag of trophies and gold medals to their name, Snake and Herring now have a Cellar Door on Caves Road in the heart of the Margaret River Wine Region.


Snake + Herring Chardonnay 2016 | Good Pair Days

Snake & Herring Tough Love Chardon | Total Wine & More

2014 Snake and Herring ‘Tough Love’ Chardonnay, Margaret River | prices, stores, tasting notes & market data (wine-searcher.com).

The Red wines. All the red wines are from the Davey Family of wines, produced in McLaren Vale in Southern Australia


2018 Davey Family Estate Grown, Shiraz

A curtain of toasty vanilla, cedar & bourbon oak at this nascent stage. The florals and dark fruit accents, anise & spice beyond, however, are dense and pure. This rich red simply needs patience, a vigorous decant or robust food. James Halliday – 94 points

Nicely balanced, earthy notes and very smooth. Sans oak. All around very easy drinking with great mouth feel. Very dark in color but drinks much lighter. Thick, deep inky purple. Great aroma overtone with nice complexity of wet earth and spearmint. Any oak contributions dwell balanced in the background. Not much palate complexity, but balanced and well-made wine. Hard to go wrong with Davey estate shiraz


2018 Davey Family Estate Grown, Cabernet Sauvignon

This Cabernet Sauvignon comes from select parcels of Cabernet grown on both red and black soils of limestone on the Davey Estate Vineyard, matured for 15 months in a combination of new and used French oak.

The winemaking at this address is exemplary, to be sure…currant, black plum, a plume of olive to sage notes dusting gentle tannins. Yet it is the acidity that drives the length. James Halliday 92 Points.


2016 D Block, Davey Family, Reserve Shiraz

The ‘D Bock’ is a small niche of the Davey Estate Vineyard that showcases the best Shiraz and Cabernet from the property, with the wines extensively matured in French and American oak hogsheads.

This Reserve Shiraz is from the most coveted ‘D Block’ plot of the Davey Estate’s vineyards. Cherry Bonbon aromas, bristling with intent. Fireworks across molten black fruit allusions, bitter chocolate, and black olive. Unashamedly bombastic, yet it pulls it off with style, the charred oak tucking in the seams while the show goes on, long and thick.  James Halliday – 94 Points.

Vibrant, deep, purple red. Dark cherry and blackberry primary aromas, with nuances of vanilla pod, milk chocolate and roasted nut. A fine tannin structure defines and shapes the bright compote of summer berry flavors into the long finish. This estate reserve wine is a classic, vibrant, and fruit-forward McLaren Vale Shiraz from the excellent 2016 vintage.

The Davey Estate Vineyard.

As a grape variety is matched to exceptional terroir, over time certain districts or regions are vehemently recognized as benchmarks for their chosen variety or style of wine. One of the ten ‘Great Wine Capitals of the World’ alongside such renowned regions as Bordeaux and Napa Valley, McLaren Vale is best known for its powerful Shiraz and is home to some of Australia’s most iconic estates, including Molly Dooker, Clarendon Hills and d’Arenberg. Yet, McLaren Vale has seen an evolution over the last few decades as producers are taking advantage of the unique Mediterranean-like climate and cultivating other noble varieties like Grenache, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Of these, Cabernet is now the second-most planted variety behind Shiraz and with this focus we’ve seen a surge in the production of ultra-premium styles—the best versions of Cabernet being lush yet refined, with supple tannins and “overtones of savory herbs and cedar against riper fruit at the core” (Wine Spectator).

Best of all, as scores and acclaim have increased, the wines remain moderately priced and unbelievable values compared to their Cabernet-based brethren in Bordeaux and Napa. One producer, the Davey Family, has demonstrated their ability to manage both Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon and is now consistently crafting outstanding, highly rated estate-grown examples of each.

During the 1990s, brothers Kym and John Davy brought their combined experience in winemaking, farming and business to continue and develop their McLaren Vale estate first farmed by their grandfather in 1957. With a goal of producing quality yet affordable wines that express the true character of the region, the estate produced the first wine under its Shingleback label in 1998.

James Halliday, Australia’s leading expert wine writer and critic, calls the estate a “success story since its establishment,” and describes their wines as “rich and full-flavored,” consistently scoring their wines 90+ points. Today the property is sustainably farmed and dominated by vineyards of Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon that takes advantage of their proximity to the Gulf St. Vincent, which moderates climatic conditions; warm summer days combined with sea breezes allow the grapes to ripen slowly and evenly.

The 2018 red wines are full bodied and deeply colored, showing intense fruit flavor with big round chewy tannins. Simply an outstanding vintage with the promise to be rated as one of the great years for McLaren Vale. Their true reserve wines, ‘D Block’ Shiraz and Cabernet, are only made in exceptional vintages and released in the United States under the Davey Family label.

Davey Family Vineyard has won “Most Successful Winery” at the McLaren Vale Wine Show five years in a row. It’s John’s attention to the small things—details like individual vines—that produces handcrafted, food-friendly wines. At first sip, you’ll find complexity, balance, and the kind of quality you would expect from much larger premium producers.


Davey Family Shiraz Estate | Total Wine & More

Davey Family Wines McLaren Vale, Australia – Total Wine Concierge

Shingleback_The_Gate_Shiraz_2018.pdf (windows.net)

Davey Family Wines | Visit A Winery (visit-winery.com)

CV Members Rating

The wine tasting ranking order ranges from Acceptable to Excellent wines and was judged by 8 participants before disclosing wines price.

White and red wines were rated individually by 15 participants whose combined results established the preference order during the tasting as follows:


1st            2016 Block Davey Family, Reserve Shiraz, McLaren Vale: Excellent ($50)

2nd       2019 Snake+Herring, Tough Love, Chardonnay Margaret River, Western Australia Very good ($25)

3rd            2018 Davey Family State Grown, Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale: Very good ($23)

4th.           2018 Davey Family Estate Grown, Shiraz, McLaren Vale: Acceptable ($20)


Best Wine: 2016 Block Davey Family, Reserve Shiraz, McLaren Vale

Best Buy: 2018 Davey Family State Grown, Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale


Technical Notes

Information compiled and edited by Jorge Claro and Cristian Santelices, from various sources such as vineyards.com, wine searcher, wineaustralia.com and winepaths.com.

 In Australia, wine is produced in every State, with more than 60 designated wine regions totaling approximately 160,000 hectares. The main vineyards of Australia are in six different wine regions: New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, and a smaller area in Queensland. Australia is the 5th most extensive wine-producing country, with around 1,400 million liters of wine produced, although the country’s consumption represents less than 40% of the production, making Australia the 5th largest wine exporter, with 711 tons of wine. Australia produces over 160 grape varieties distributed on 146,244 hectares across all six states.

The first vines arrived in Australia at the end of the eighteenth Century on board the vessels of the First Fleet of Governor Phillip going to New South Wales. Today the main grape varieties cultivated in Australian wine regions are Shiraz (Syrah), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Riesling, Viognier, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Sangiovese, Mourvèdre, and Pinot Grigio.


Australia’s wine regions are mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country. The wine regions in each State produce different wine varieties and styles that take advantage of their particular Terroir, such as climatic differences, topography, and soil types. Wines are often labeled with the name of their grape variety, which must constitute at least 85% of the wine.

One of the most notable aspects of Australian wines is consistency. Every bottle reaches a certain minimum, perfectly acceptable level of quality; it comes from the heavily irrigated vineyards in the country’s interior. Almost two-thirds of every year’s grape harvest is grown on one of the three extensive irrigated areas where canalized rivers turn bush into orchard and vineyard. These areas in decreasing importance are Murray Darling (or Valley), which straddles the Victoria-New South Wales border; Riverland and Swan Hills; and Riverina (Murrumbidgee).

The Australian wine industry is crucially dependent on the Murray River. The crescent pollution of the river and the high salt level in Australia’s underground water, that little good-quality irrigation water is the principal constraint to converting one of the driest countries on the earth into one big vineyard.

Australians believe in economies of scale. Despite the feverish planting of vines at the end of the 20th century, there is a shortage of wineries. This approach aligns with the tradition of shipping grapes or grape juice long distance from vineyards to corporate cellars. The produce of distant vineyards is often blended into a single wine. Nevertheless, the Australian wine map has been changing fast, devising its appellation system, Geographical Indications, called GIs.

The wine regions are primarily located on the southern coast of Australia, which offers lower temperatures and rainfall. Still, Queensland has been developing its wine industry, centered on the cooler western slopes. Much of Southeastern Australia has a Mediterranean climate, which wine grapes enjoy. Melbourne is on the same latitude as Cordoba, Spain. Strong wines full of sugar but lacking acidity are the ones typically from Australia. Australia’s most planted variety is Shiraz and is recognized as what Australia does best in terms of red wine.

Read the Note prepared for this tasting by Jorge and Cristian with plenty more information on Australia’s wine production stats and its wine regions.

Wines from Australia    by Jorge Claro and Cristian Santelices

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Alfonso Sanchez 1941 – 2021 past Club del Vino President

Alfonso Sanchez , 1941 – 2021

Uno de los grandes ingenieros colombianos falleció en Rockville, Maryland, el 27 de octubre, 2021.

From Claudia Perazza, President of the Club del Vino, Washington

Dear friends

It has taken a while for us to process the very sad news. The shock of Alfonso’s passing leaves us with so much sorrow in our hearts.  There is a void left in our club, as it has lost a wonderful member and president. Accepting to be the new president, I knew the big shoes I would have to fill in, and Alfonso’s generosity, dedication and energy made possible a smooth transition.

And now, more than ever, it will be my mission to keep our club alive and vibrant, for all of us. That would be the best way to honor the life of our president emeritus. For those of us who stay, the world will not be the same without people of such human quality as Alfonso and he will be forever in our hearts and our good memories.

Salut to all


Claudia and Agilson Perazza

Uno de los grandes ingenieros colombianos falleció en Rockville, Maryland, el 27 de octubre, 2021.

Jaime Millán


28 octubre, 2021 3:15 pm

Jairo Sanchez, Alfonso Sanchez and Laura Estrada, 2016

Toda la vida profesional de Alfonso Sánchez fue una entrega generosa al trabajo riguroso, en aras del bien público. Recién graduado como ingeniero civil en la Escuela Minas de Medellín en 1964, se vinculó a la firma Integral para colaborar en los estudios y diseños del proyecto hidroeléctrico de Guatapé, entre otros. En 1967 pasó a ocupar el cargo de director de la Unidad de Infraestructura del recién creado Departamento Nacional de Planeación, uniéndose así al grupo de brillantes profesionales jóvenes ilusionados en sacar al país del atraso económico y social agudizado por la falta de infraestructura y de buenas instituciones públicas.

April 2021 A few members of the Club del Vino testing the waters for a return to presential tastings at Capri

En 1970 continuó su educación en la Universidad de Michigan donde obtuvo el grado de Máster en Economía de Recursos Naturales. Durante los años setenta, fue gerente técnico de las Empresas Públicas de Medellín y jefe de la división de agua potable del Banco Mundial para regresar al país al final de la década como gerente administrativo del Consorcio ICA-Grandicon en la construcción del proyecto hidroeléctrico San Carlos. A partir de 1981 continuó con su larga y exitosa carrera en el Banco Mundial, donde ocupó los cargos de jefe de la División de Energía, Jefe de la Oficina de Contratación y Ombudsman. Durante su carrera en el Banco Mundial, Alfonso logró enorme reconocimiento, no solo por su capacidad técnica, sino también por su habilidad como administrador, gracias a su don de gentes, su permanente interés en buscar consensos y resolver conflictos. Fue gracias a esos atributos que llegó al difícil cargo de Ombudsman. Después de pensionarse el Banco Mundial, se graduó como árbitro en la Universidad de Reading Inglaterra y continuó asesorando a entidades internacionales y gobiernos en problemas de contratación y resolución de conflictos.

A Alfonso le dolían los problemas del país y nunca fue ajeno a sus tribulaciones. En Washington, donde compartimos muchos años, surgió en forma natural como líder de un grupo de profesionales colombianos vinculados a los organismos internacionales. A pesar de la distancia, fue durante décadas miembro destacado del grupo de egresados de la Facultad de Minas de 1964. Hasta pocos días antes de caer enfermo de neumonía, estuvo promoviendo debates sobre los temas más urgentes de los grandes proyectos de infraestructura nacional, y en particular sobre las decisiones de los entes de control de levantar cargos, contra colombianos insignes y comprometidos con el bien común, por los sobrecostos y atrasos en los proyectos de Reficar e Hidroituango. Sus numerosos artículos en la prensa nacional y en publicaciones especializadas contribuyeron a hacer claridad sobre los errores en la metodología empleada por dichos entes. En su opinión, ignorar que la incertidumbre inherente a los grandes proyectos de infraestructura puede ser fuente de costos imprevisibles llevó a los entes de control a inculpaciones infundadas, con consecuencias nefastas para el futuro de la inversión pública en Colombia.

Yo tuve el privilegio de conocerlo no solo como colega, sino como amigo. Alfonso fue un extraordinario ser humano, que gozó tanto de la vida familiar como de la buena mesa y el vino sabiamente escogido, de las veladas con bambuco y guitarra y de la ilusión permanente de hacer más feliz a los demás que a él mismo. Qué fortuna tuve de compartir tanto con él.

alponiente.com  28/10/2021

Alfonso Sanchez


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Tasting No 234 – September 28, 2021 – Wines from Moldova

Tasting No 234 – September 28, 2021 – Wines from Moldova

                                                 Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

  Tasting Overview


The objective of this tasting is to explore wines from local grape varieties and traditional Vitis Vinifera from Moldova.

Moldova, located between Romania and Ukraine, is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with its economy based on agriculture. Most Moldovan families make wine at home, and wineries chiefly produce wines for export.

Type of tasting: Open

Presenter: Marcello Averbug


  1. 2018 Gitana Winery ‘Autograf’ Feteasca Regala, IGT Valul lui Trainan
  2. 2020 Gitana Rara Neagra
  3. 2016 Gitana ‘Lupi’ Rezerva 2018
  4. 2018 Fautor ‘310 Altitude’ Cabernet Sauvignon-Feteasca Neagra IGT Valul lui Trainan


  1. Calamari fritti
  2. Lentil soup
  3. Eggplant a la parmigiana
  4. Médaillon de fillet

Participants: Marcello Averbug, Jose Brakarz, Ruth Connoly, Clara Estrada, Alberto Gómez, Italo Mirkow, John Redwood, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Carlos Silvani, Ricardo Zavaleta, and German Zincke.

Information on the Wines

The information below has been compiled from various internet sources

2018 Gitana Winery, ‘Autograf’ Feteasca Regala, IGP Valul lui Trainan

100% Feteasca Regala. This is a relatively high yield grape variety high, and for this reason, it was once very disseminated and highly appreciated grape variety during the communist period. Autograf is primarily fresh and dry and entertains a good level of acidity and a specific flavor.

2020 Gitana Winery, Rara Neagra

100% Rara Neagra. Beautiful aromas of dark berries and hints of strawberry and citrus notes. An intense and complex taste, with notes of dried fruits, well highlighted. Open fermentation in wood casks followed by two years maturation in large oak barrels.

Plum nose, for the palate having a slightly chocolate note with an oak finish. A light red, well balanced, ideal to make the fall transition from white to red.

Ruby red, blackberry jam, oak, and smoke on the nose, balanced on the palate with medium sweet tannins, medium acidity, blackberry and caramel with a medium finish, a good value.

Color: intense ruby. Olfactory: intense, impressive through complex aromas of strawberries and citrus fruits. Gustative: complex with notes of wood and dried fruits. Goes well with hot dishes, such as grilled veal, pork, schnitzel, or grilled dishes.

2016 Gitana Winery, Lupi Rezerva

Cabernet Sauvignon 30%, Merlot 30% and Saperavi 40%. A rare red blend aged for 24 months in big Russian oak barrels, followed by another 14 months in American oak barriques. Intense ruby red with purple reflections. Smell: rich with aromas of blackberries and fruits, which are added shades of chocolate and coffee beans. Taste balanced, structured, with strong tannins and a refined, long, plum and blackberry aftertaste.

Decanter world Wine Awards 91 Pts. The Lupi is considered the treasure of the winery and one of the most famous wines with the label ‘Made in Moldova‘. Among the vineyards used for producing this wine lives a small family of wolves (Lupi). It is to them that the owners dedicate this wine, which has a strong imprint of the wolves’ character.

Awards: 2016 Vintage: Gold, Sélection Mondiale des Vins, Canada; Silver, International Wine Challenge. 

The Gitana Winery

The history of Vinaria Tiganca began in 1953 when the first winemaking factory was established in the village of Tiganca in the Valul lui Traian (Southern wine region). The year 2011 marks the emergence of the first series of bottled wines under the new Gitana trademark. The year 1953 marks a turning point in the history of winery, when the Dulgher family becomes the owner and makes significant efforts to re-equip the plant, renovate the cellars, provide it with oak barrels and, of course, establish new vine plantations. Step by step, the traditional winemaking practices began to be combined with modern technology. There is limited human intervention on the vines because nature has already created excellent conditions. There is not too much rain in the summer, but the soil still holds enough water for the vines to thrive at an altitude of 360m.


2018 Fautor 310 Altitude, Cabernet Sauvignon, Feteasca Neagra, IGP Valul lui Traian

The wine: a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 80%, Feteasca Neagra 20%, is very pleasant red wine, in the nose, there are some notes of leather, dried plum, and black currant. Long almond finish. Before aeration: plum, black fruit, a bit of vanilla, or caramel. After aeration: the same + intense tobacco and leather, pleasurable tannins, not too heavy, nicely done. Good with meat dishes.

Strong alcohol on the first nose, medium-bodied, bold red color, pepper taste, almond, violets. The second nose is delicate, with notes of roasted wood, red and black pepper, a clear sign that this wine was aged in a medium roasted French barrel. Well-integrated level of alcohol and moderate acidity, which make the wine tasty, complex, extracted, insistent, and a little sharp.

Awards: Gold – Portugal Wine Trophy 2018, 2019.

The Winery: In 2017, 2018, and 2020, Fautor was the most awarded Moldovan winery. It is family-owned and operated, producing wines of unique terroir from both international and indigenous grape varieties. The “Fautor” name comes from the Latin “author-creator”, emphasizing the family’s approach and responsibility for quality. The Tigheci micro-zone where the winery and vineyards are located, is unique and one of the best areas to produce high-quality wines.

From 2003 – 2006 the winery has been equipped with advanced technology, and new vineyards have been planted to reach their present size of more than 350 hectares.

Technical Notes

Information compiled and edited by Marcello Averbug, from various sources, such as Wikipedia, Wine Folly, Wine Searcher.


Moldova, located between Romania and Ukraine, is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with its economy relying heavily on agriculture. Two-thirds of Moldovans are of Romanian descent, and the two countries share a common cultural heritage. In 1940, Russia annexed Bessarabia from Romania and combined it with most of the Moldovan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to form Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.

According to archaeological finds, the cultivation of vineyards began in Moldova from at least 3000 up to 6000 years ago. Due to this past, the wine culture has gradually expanded from generation to generation, and currently, viticulture plays an important role in the economy.

The Black Sea basin molds Moldova’s continental climate. Therefore, it’s perfect for wine production. With snowy winters, enough sunny days in the summer, and lengthy landscapes of low hills and vast plains, grape cultivation has prospered in this region since antiquity.

Under feudal Moldova, during the 14th and 15th centuries, local wine was exported to countries such as Russia, Ukraine, and Poland. In the 19th century, after the country became part of the Russian Empire, wines remained a significant asset for export.

Despite comprising a tiny fraction of the vast Soviet Union, Moldova produced about 70 percent of all former USSR wine. However, following the Union’s dissolution in the early 1990s, Moldovan wine for a while remained unrecognized by the international community. As a small country that branded its main product as “made in the USSR,” it took some time until Moldova’s high-quality social lubricant found its place in Western markets. At present, the country exports 80 percent of its wine stocks to EU countries.

Moldova boasts the highest per capita production of wine in the world. However, it ranks 18th for wine produced globally. There are 142 wineries in Moldova. Its production comprises 60% white wines, 34% reds, and 6% table wines.


Varieties: 70% of good value Whites are produced with more traditional European grapes, such as Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Muscat, Sylvaner, and Müller-Thurgau. Among Reds, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Saperavi, Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Montepulciano, Merlot and Semillon are among the most prominent, while grape varieties of more local origins take a back seat in Moldova.

Moldova’s native grapes are usually blended with foreign grapes. Feteasca, which  means “maiden” in Romanian, is a name shared by three distinct varieties: Feteasca Regala (royal maiden), Feteasca Neagra (black maiden) and Feteasca Alba, or white maiden, which refers to the color of the grapes. Another dark-skinned variety is Rara Neagra, which sometimes appears in export markets.

Feteasca Alba is a light-skinned grape variety found particularly in Romania, as well as in Moldova and other Eastern European countries, including Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine.

Feteasca Regala is a white skinned grape variety widespread throughout the Eastern Europe, in particular in Romania. It is well suited to a continental climate, as it can withstand extremes of temperature in summer and winter. However, it requires ample rainfall and does not perform well in drought-prone areas.

Feteasca Regala tends to be richer in flavor than its alba counterpart, as tannins in the grapes’ skins provide some complexity to the wines. These are aromatic with green apple and tropical fruit characters and can be vinified in an off-dry style. In addition, Feteasca Regala responds well to barrel maturation, which can add complexity to the wines.

The variety is sometimes blended with Muscat Ottonel, particularly in sweeter wines. This grape variety is considered one of the most famous and sought-after of Romania. Furthermore, it is regarded as the most characterful indigenous grape variety of this region, used to produce various tasteful dry white wines worldwide.

Feteasca Neagra is an old native variety and most popular of Romanian and Moldovan grapes. It is usually produced as a varietal wine but is often blended with cabernet sauvignon and merlot to give it more body and weight. Its seeds [of Fetească Neagră] were discovered in ancient vestiges in Romania, more than 2000 years old. For the Romanians and Moldovans, this grape is like a sophisticated fairy – hard to tame, seductive, and mysterious – imposing through presence, complexity, and acidity, while very well balanced.

Depending on the wine-making techniques, Feteasca Neagra wines get various flavors and fine tannins, good acidity, medium to full body, and often more than 13,5% alcohol. It is typical to have aromas of dried plums, blackberries, and black blueberries along with nice black pepper, vanilla, and coffee flavors, and for the old wines, toast, and skin senses.

Rara Neagra is an eastern European dark-skinned wine grape planted extensively in Romania and, to a lesser extent, in Moldova and Ukraine. It has reputedly been grown in the region for 2000 years and is very popular with locals. It is also known as Babeasca Neagra, which in English means “black grandmother’s grape”.


Rara Neagra is a late-ripening variety and therefore is less-prone to damaging spring frosts. Unfortunately, its thin skins create a high susceptibility to mildew diseases. As such an old variety, Rara Neagra is the parent of multiple clonal varieties. It produces light and fruity red wine, typically high in acid and designed for early consumption. A handful of higher-quality versions of the grape are produced, however, a majority are destined for mediocre wine for local consumption.

Synonyms include Babeasca Neagra, Sereksia Noire, Sereksia Tcheurnia.

Saperavi is an acidic, Teinturier-type dark skin grape variety native to Georgia (6000 BC), where it is used to make many of the region’s most well-known wines. It is also grown in Russia, and in lesser quantities in Armenia, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Australia, and recently in the United States.

Saperavi is one of very few Teinturier winemaking grapes in the world. Teinturier grapes have red skin and red flesh, whereas other red grapes have red skin and clear flesh. This grape can bring intense color and marked acidity to wines. As a result, Saperavi is an ideal ingredient for cheaper blended wines.

In recent decades, it has also proved itself capable of producing varietal wines of high quality. Dry, off dry, or naturally semi-sweet, this grape is versatile for producing a host of different wines.

Saperavi is compatible with the cool-climate vineyards of the Northeast and the East Coast of the USA and was planted in the Finger Lakes, New York, for the first time in 1958.


The World’s Largest Wine Cellars

The world’s largest wine cellar is in Moldova. The Milestii Mici is a vast underground network of wine-filled “streets”, each picking a name after a different variety of wine. Milestii Mici is also the commune’s name where the cellar was founded, just 11 miles from Chisinau, Moldova’s capital city.

The Milestii Mici cellar is administered by the state. The place would be heaven for any wine enthusiast, as there are more than 125 miles of underground wine galleries and around two million bottles of wine stored within its premises. The site was initially carved out during lime mining operations.

The first bottle of wine was stored there in 1968, and new ones are being added continually. The cellar keeps stable temperatures of between 54°F–57°F year-round, and humidity levels stick to around 90 percent. Some of the most extravagant bottles at Milestii Mici can be purchased for up to $540.

And if you are now wondering where the world’s second-largest wine cellar is, the answer once again is Moldova. The wine cellar Cricova, also near Chisinau, houses about 1.25 million bottles of wine. Some of the vintages stored here were produced as early as 1902. As the Nazis attempted to invade the Soviet Union, the site also served to protect Jews who hid in the cellar tucked inside wine barrels.

 CV Members Rating

The tasting took place before knowing the wines’ prices and the participants evaluated them between Good and Excellent with the following results:


1st – 2020 Gitana, Lupi Rezerva ($29)

2nd-2020 Gitana, Rara Neagra ($16)

3rd -2018 Gitana, Autograph Fateasca Regala ($15)

4th -2018 Fautor 310, Cab. Sauvignon- Fateasca Neagra ($14)

The 2020 Lupi Rezerva was rated as Best Wine and the 2020 Rara Neagra as Best Buy





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Tasting No.233 – August 30, 2021- Wines from South Africa

Club del Vino

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Tasting Overview 

South Africa Wine Region

The purpose of this tasting is to learn about South African wines, through exploring the country’s wine history and recent developments, by tasting the main four grapes and wine styles from the most renowned producing regions, districts, and wards.

We will taste two white varietals: Chenin Blanc from Bot River Ward, Walker Bay District, and, Chardonnay, from Robertson Ward, Breeder River District; as red varietals, we have Pinotage, from Simonsberg Ward, and Cabernet Sauvignon, from Jonkershoek Valley, both in the Stellenbosch District. The four wines come from Western Cape Region.


Type of Tasting: Open

Wines presenters:   Jairo Sanchez, Alberto Gomez, and Carlos Silvani

These are the wines:

  1. 2018 Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc, Bot River, Western Cape $37.99
  2. 2017 Westhof Limestone Hill Chardonnay, Robertson, Western Cape $18.99
  3. 2018 Kanonkop Pinotage, Simonsberg, Stellenbosch, Coastal Cape $41.99
  4. 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch, Coastal Cape$36.99


  1. Seafood Salad
  2. Alfredo (or any creamy sauce
  3. Lamb and rosemary sauce
  4. Grilled Fillet and wine sauce
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Marcello Averbug, Jose Brakarz, Ruth Connoly, Clara Estrada, Alberto Gómez, Italo Mirkow, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Carlos Silvani, Ricardo Zavaleta, and German Zincke.

Information on the Wines

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

2018 Beaumont Hope Margherite Chenin Blanc*, Bot River

The Wine: Named after our grandmother, Hope Marguerite Beaumont, this barrel-fermented and matured Chenin Blanc is always elegant and complex. Beaumont’s old vine Chenin Blanc is naturally fermented in 400L French oak. Beautiful aromas of dried apricot, marzipan, and spice with hints of green apple and integrated oak on the palate. This is a pure expression of our flagship Chenin (winemaker notes).

Matches brilliantly with seafood especially scallops and any beautifully spicy Asian dish.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate 90+ Pts. The 2018 Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc seems very shy on the nose, and it should develop beautifully over the next few years. The palate is pure and ripe, with a clean, fresh citrus core. There is a soft, white powdery minerally expression that is very pleasing with a medium finish. The wine is balanced with soft floral tones that linger on the aftertaste. This wine was fermented naturally in neutral oak barrels and comes from their two oldest vineyards. The Hope Marguerite bottling honors their grandmother and is named after her. 17,500 bottles made.

The Winery:  Sebastian Beaumont crafts superb wines on the family farm in the tiny Bot River Ward, in the Walker Bay district of South Africa’s Western Cape, west of Hermanus. The winery’s old vineyards on shale soils provide good texture and structure. The 2017 Hope Marguerite is one of South Africa’s best Chenin Blancs. It has it all – fabulous fruit intensity, concentration, and length, with 5g/l of residual sugar balancing some lees pithiness and vibrant acidity.

The Ward, which stretches from the Houw Hoek Pass in the north to the Bot River Lagoon in the south, produces high-quality white wines – chiefly Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc – from mostly small, independently owned wine estates. The area is classically cool-climate, with breezes from the nearby Walker Bay and the Bot River Lagoon rushing in to vineyards to replace the hot air during the afternoons. Herbaceous notes in Bot River wines have often been attributed to the fynbos in the region, while minerality is imparted by the soil profile of Table Mountain sandstone and Bokkeveld shale.


2017- De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay, Robertson

The wine: Heavy clay soils rich in limestone allow this Chardonnay to emit optimum varietal expression in a cloak of rich complexity. An un-wooded wine, Limestone Hill has notes of grapefruit and nuts, with the complexity balanced by a nuanced elegance ending with a delicate ripeness (winemaker notes).

Limestone Hill is superb with oysters, cream-based pasta dishes and light curries, as well as roast pork and veal dishes.

The Winery: The name De Wetshof has been synonymous with the production of fine wines in South Africa since the 1970’s. As the first registered wine estate in the Robertson Wine Valley, De Wetshof has become known internationally as South Africa’s eminent Chardonnay House due to the pioneering role it played in introducing this noble Burgundian grape to the country.

The De Wet family’s winemaking heritage can, however, be traced back to 1694 when the first De Wets arrived at the Cape and immediately made a mark on the South African wine industry.

The Robertson Wine Ward is a wine-producing area in the Breede River Valley region of the Western Cape, 160km east of Cape Town. Robertson is one of South Africa’s better known wine-producing areas and is associated with the production of rich, fruit-driven red and white wines made most often from the Chardonnay and Shiraz grape varieties, as well as sparkling wines from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The dry, hot climate in Robertson is optimal for producing premium grapes. Annual rainfall is a scant 400mm, and the river is used often for irrigation. However, south-easterly breezes from the Indian Ocean 60 miles (90 km) away have a cooling effect on the vineyards and bring moisture to the area. While daytime temperatures can get up to 30°C / 85°F, evenings are much cooler. This diurnal temperature variation means that the grapes have a chance to cool down overnight, letting them retain acidity while still developing rich flavor profiles. Winters are relatively cold, allowing the vines a period of dormancy before the next growing season. The distinctive medley of soil types gives wine farms in Robertson plenty of options when it comes to site selection. Chardonnay grapes thrive on the pockets of limestone soil found throughout Robertson. High levels of lime in the soil give a chalky minerality to the resultant wines, much like in the region of Chablis in France. 

2018 Kanonkop Pinotage, Simonsberg Stellenbosch  

 The Wine: The nose is beautifully aromatic, with scented aromas of red currants, macerated cherries, and cinnamon spice. The palate displays a silky tannin structure, backed by a fine seam of acidity. Subtle vanilla undertones from the integrated oak profile are juxtaposed against a fruit explosion of wild bramble, plums, and black berries. An elegant wine of intense purple hues, it lingers at the finish with juicy, dark plums flavors (Winemaker notes).

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate 90 Pts. Displaying a dark ruby core with purple and red hints on the rim, the 2018 Pinotage Stellenbosch opens with a nose of sweet, confected plums, black raspberry, mocha, and hints of sweet oak spice. Medium to full-bodied, the wine displays sweet fruit on the palate with a generous helping of 80% new French oak. It ends with sappy plums and black cherry skin flavors that give way to tight tannins that linger on the long finish. There are plenty of winemaking practices happening with the expression that creates an enjoyable experience for the drinker. Outstanding. Drinking window: 2021 – 2033

The winery. Kanonkop Estate is a South African red wine producer located on the low slopes of the Simonsberg Mountains, between Stellenbosch and Paarl. It was established in 1973 on plots of land that had some old Pinotage vines growing on them. Simonsberg is known as the “red wine bowl” of South Africa, with long summer days, cooling sea breezes and ideal soils for red wine varieties.

Kanonkop Estate is famous for being one of the first producers to grow and vinify Pinotage, the country’s signature grape variety developed in 1924 as an intraspecies cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut grapes. The estate also makes red wines from the classic Bordeaux varieties. It boasts some of the Cape’s first commercially planted Pinotage vines, with an average age of over 50 years. Respecting tradition while embracing the future, Kanonkop fuses age-old wine-making techniques with state-of-the art technology. All the estate’s grapes are handpicked and sorted. The wines are vinified in open concrete fermenters, using manual punch-downs, and are subsequently aged in French Nevers oak barrels.

2014 Neil Ellis Cabernet Sauvignon Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch


The Wine: This is the signature Cabernet Sauvignon of Neil Ellis. It is a distinctive style with all the hallmarks of the Jonkershoek Valley and known for its distinctive balance of elegance and fruit power. Medium intense ruby red color. Restraint aroma but deep, complex perfumes of blue and black small berry fruit. Cedary aromas and touches of mint, so typical of a Jonkershoek wine. The palate is smooth and plush followed by fine, but dense tannins. A ripe, soft tannin vintage with savory expression (winemaker notes). 

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate Rating: 91+ Pts. Beginning with a dark ruby core, the nose of the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Jonkershoek Valley has soft, dusty red fruit essences with hints of slightly stewed plums, blackberry, and redcurrant before highlighting a soft minty, herbaceous tone. Medium to full-bodied, the wine is balanced with lifting tannins that grow with sweet baking spices (from the oak) and give way to firm tannins that build across the mid-palate. On the lingering finish is a balanced expression of dusty black cherry skin and nuances of dried sage with an element of bitter black tea. It’s very food friendly and should continue to drink well until the end of this decade.  

Awards: 2014 Vintage: Gold  International Wine Challenge

Appealed black fruit with impressive concentration and length. Youthful, with reined tannins and mouthful highlight.

The Winery: Neil Ellis set out to identify distinct terroir in which individual varieties will excel. He placed the emphasis not only on the environment but also on caring viticultural practices by a dedicated team of growers which extends through to the winemaking practices. Neil Ellis produces not only Cabernet Sauvignon but also other red wines from Pinotage and Shiraz grapes and whites from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

Stellenbosch District is South Africa’s most famous wine-producing district, surrounding the historic town with the same name. Fine winemaking here dates to the late 1600s. Its valleys of granite, sandstone and alluvial loam soils have the capacity to produce beautiful wines from many varieties. The climate is warm Mediterranean, tempered by the cool Atlantic air of nearby False Bay.

Perhaps most well-known for its Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon  and Bordeaux blends, Stellenbosch also produces wines from Syrah, Chenin blanc Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Stellenbosch, in Western Cape’s Coastal Region, is home to the country’s best-known wine estates. Cabernet Sauvignon is the region’s most widely planted grape variety.

The region’s climate is relatively hot and dry, although a maritime influence comes from False Bay in the south. Cooling southeasterly breezes wash through the vineyards in the afternoons, refreshing the grapes after the morning’s hot sun.

The variation of terroir in Stellenbosch is divided into many different wine-producing areas. The wards of Banghoek, Bottelary, Papegaaiberg, Polkadraai Hills, Devon Valley, Jonkershoek Valley and Simonsberg-Stellenbosch are all recognized by the Wine of Origin scheme. The unofficial areas of Helderberg and Stellenboschkloof also have their own distinctive wine styles.

 Technical Notes 

Information compiled and edited by Jairo Sanchez, Carlos Silvani and Orlando Gomez, from various sources, such as Wikipedia, Wine Folly, Wine.com, Wine Searcher, producers’ sites, and others.


South Africa is one of the most prominent wine-producing countries in the Southern Hemisphere. With more than 300 years of winemaking history, it is often described as bridging the gap between the Old World and New. Most wines are made using New World winemaking techniques, but often have more in common stylistically with their Old-World counterparts. Since the end of apartheid South African wine has enjoyed international attention and acclaim for its wide variety of styles.

South Africa’s wine industry is distributed around the lush, rugged landscape of the Western Cape. Here, the abundance of mountains, valleys and plateaus allow winemakers to produce a diverse range of styles. Vineyards are also found in the Northern Cape’s Orange River region, where the flat, barren landscape is dominated by the Kalahari Desert. Most of South Africa’s wine-producing regions have a Mediterranean climate, significantly influenced by the meeting of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

The country’s signature variety is Pinotage, an indigenous crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut that is rarely found in quantity in any other wine-producing country. Shiraz is widely planted also, as are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

South Africa White grape varieties account for 55% of the country’s 96,000 hectares of vineyards. Chenin Blanc is the republic’s most planted grape with 18.5 percent of all plantings. While it has not retained its earlier dominance within vineyards as a source of brandy and fortified wines, it retains its number one position having largely transitioned into a role providing crisp dry white wines.

South African Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc have become popular internationally in recent years. The Wine of Origin system, a legal structure introduced in 1972 to acknowledge and protect the diversity of terroir in the country, classifies South Africa into the regions, districts and wards where vineyards are found.

Vines were first planted in South Africa by Dutch settlers in the 1650s, although wine production did not really begin to take off until French Huguenots arrived with viticultural skills and knowledge in the 1680’s. South Africa’s oldest wine estate is located in Constantia, where the production of the legendary dessert wine Vin de Constance gave the region worldwide fame in the 18th and 19th centuries. Stellenbosch is equally historic as a wine-producing region, the first vineyards having been planted here in the 1690’s.

The South African wine industry suffered numerous setbacks during the 19th and 20th centuries. The outbreak of phylloxera in the 1860’s severely reduced the vineyard area. The replanting after Phylloxera – often using high-yielding grape varieties such as Cinsaut – led to large-scale overproduction, prompting the South African government to fund the Kooperatieve Wijnbouwers Vereniging van Zuid-Afrika KWV.

Throughout the 20th Century, KWV restricted the production of wines in such a way that innovation was near impossible, and quantity was prioritized over quality. Yields were restricted and minimum prices set at a level which encouraged production of brandy and fortified wine. KWV’s control over the South African wine sector lasted until the 1990’s, and even now, the country’s industry is unusual for its high number of co-operatives. South African wine fell out of favor internationally during the 20th Century when trade sanctions were placed on the country in the 1980s, due to its apartheid policies.  In 2016, South Africa was the seventh largest producer of wine in the world in terms of overall volume, responsible for 3.9% of global wine output. 


Club del Vino Members Rating

The tasting took place before knowing the price of the wines and the participants evaluated them between Good and Excellent with the following results:

1st -2018 Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc, Bot River BW ($38)

2nd-2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch BB ($19)

3rd -2017 Wetsthof Limestone Hill, Chardonnay, Robertson ($42)

4th -2014 Kanonkop Pinotage, Simosberg, Stellenbosch ($37)


The Chenin Blanc was rated as Best Wine and the Chardonnay as Best Buy




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Tasting No. 232 – July 27, 2021- Wines from North Italy

Club del Vino

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Alto Adige

Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to explore less known wines from Northern Italy.  This time we have a white blend of international and local grapes from the Veneto Region and a Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige fermented with the skins known as “orange wine” because of the pink/copper tones resulting from this mode of fermentation. The other two are red wines produced in relatively small but high quality wineries in Lombardía and Trentino. One is a 90 percent Nebbiolo blended  with local varieties and the other is also a Nebbiolo produced, similarly to Amarone, from air dried grapes.

Type of Tasting: Open

Wines presenter: Ricardo Santiago

These are the wines:

  1. 2016 Jermann, Vintage Tunina, Venezia Giulia IGT
  2. 2019 Foradori, Fuoripista, Pinot Grigio, Vigneti Delle Dolomiti IGP
  3. 2015 Arpepe, Valtellina Superiore Sassella Stella Retica
  4. 2017 Nino Negri, Sforzato Di Valtellina

This is the menu:

  1. Lobster Cream
  2. Rissoto alla Milanese
  3. Veal Milanese
  4. Cheese Plate
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jose Brakarz, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connoly, Clara Estrada,, Michelle Fryer, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Italo Mirkow, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ginger Smart, Ricardo Santiago, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke.

Information on the Wines

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

2016 Jermann, Vintage Tunina, Venezia Giulia IGT

The Wine: WE: One of Italy’s most iconic white wines, this radiant blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Ribolla Gialla and Malvasia opens with aromas of spring wildflower, white and yellow stone fruit and sun-warmed hay. Vibrant and boasting tension and elegance, the linear delicious palate doles out ripe apricot, creamy white peach and juicy grapefruit before a white-almond and saline close.

The Winery: The Jermann winery is tucked into the green hills of Friuli-Venezia Giulia below the Dolomites. The family’s two estates, totalling 395 planted acres, are eight miles and showcase markedly different terroirs.

The Ruttars estate is in the hilly Collio sub-region, just west of the Slovenian border. The vines are cooled by the Bora wind off the Adriatic Sea, endowing wines with deeply-perfumed aromatics and zesty acidity.

To the south, the Villanova estate lies in the Isonzo sub-region. The land fans toward the Adriatic and vines grow in more permeable gravel, clay, and sand soils. Temperatures are moderated both by proximity to the sea and the lower Alps.

Read more at: https://www.luxwines.com/collection/jermann

 2019 Foradori, Fuoripista, Pinot Grigio, Vigneti Delle Dolomiti IGP

The Wine: “Only 8,000 bottles of Fuoripista Pinot Grigio from the biodynamic vineyards of the Campo Rotaliano site are pressed by Elisabetta Foradori each year. The wine is fermented on the skins for eight months in tinajas (Spanish amphorae), where it slowly matures to reveal the delicate character of Pinot Grigio and the forgotten diversity of Trentino”. Superiore.de

“Skin fermentation has given this pinot grigio a rosé color, but also a lot of peach-skin, rose-petal and candied-orange character. Notes of wet earth and umami, which you normally associate with red wines, develops as it aerates in the glass. Then comes the surprisingly delicate, medium-bodied palate that is so fresh, the delicate tannins and rose-petal notes lifting the long, almost weightless finish.” James Sukling.

Fuoripista is a different kind of wine that takes an alternative route and has a different approach towards nature. This wine is the result of a collaboration between Foradori and Marco Devigili, biodynamic winemaker from Campo Rotaliano, and aims to express the true essence of this variety, widespread in the Trentino region. The wine spends more than 8 months on the skins inside Tinajas (amphorae) allowing the delicate character of Pinot Grigio to reveal.

Grape: Pinot Grigio
Vineyard location: Campo Rotaliano, Mezzolombardo
Hectares: 2 hectares
Terroir: Alluvial and gravel soil
Fermentation and fining: 8 months on the skins in tinajas (amphorae) in acacia casks
Annual production: 10.000 bottles

The Winery: ( From Wine Searcher) Foradori is a wine estate in the Dolomites region of northern Italy, particularly known for its red wines from the Teroldego variety. The estate dates back to 1901, and has been owned by the Foradori family since 1939. Elisabetta Foradori has made the wine since 1984. There are 28 hectares (69 acres) of vineyards in multiple small plots around the Campo Rotaliano plain, 75 percent of which are planted with Teroldego The rest are planted to Manzoni Bianco, with small amounts of Nosiola and Pinot Grigio. Foridori’s vineyards have been farmed biodynamically since 2002 and were certified by Demeter in 2009.

All of Foridori’s wines are released as IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti. The range is led by two Teroldego cuvées, Foridori and Granato. Foradori is sourced from around 10ha (25 acres) of vineyards on sandier soils, and is aged in oak and cement tanks for 12 months. Granato, which means pomegranate, comes from 4ha (10 acres) of old pergola vineyards on more stony soils, and is aged in wood for 15 months. The estate also makes four other Teroldego wines which are aged on their skins in amphorae, and varietal wines from Manzoni Bianco, Nosiola and Pinot Grigio.

Foradori’s winemaking follows a philosophy of minimal intervention, which includes the use of indigenous yeasts, no temperature control and bottling without filtration. Production reaches around 160,000 bottles per year, over half of which is the Foradori cuvee.

Read more at: https://www.agricolaforadori.com/en/wines/

2015 Arpepe, Valtellina Superiore Sassella Stella Retica

The Wine: WE: Woodland berry, camphor, wild rose and wet stone aromas shape the nose. The chiseled palate delivers red cherry, cranberry, Alpine herb and star anise set against taut, ultrafine tannins. Fresh acidity keeps it balanced. Drink 2022–2030.

(From Wine Searcher) Valtellina Superiore Sassella wines are made under Valtellina Superiore DOCG rules, specifically from grapes grown around the hamlets of Sassella and Triasso, just west of the town of Sondrio. Like a “standard” Valtellina wine, they are red wines made from at least 90 percent Chiavennasca (the local name for Nebbiolo). Sassella is one of five viticultural sub-zones specifically identified as producing Valtellina wines of particularly high quality. The other four are Grumello, Inferno, Maroggia and Valgella. Sassella is the largest of these, with around 150 hectares (370 acres) of vines.

Located at the foot of a large, steeply sloping bulge in the northern valley wall, the village’s vineyards benefit from excellent drainage and a sunny southerly aspect. The valley floor here is narrow, but the vineyards lie raised up on steeply sloping, tiny, terraced plots well into the fresh mountain air and generally oriented towards the sunshine. For more information about Valtellina wines and the terroir of the region, see Wine Searcher Valtellina page.

The Winery:  “We are a family of winegrowers and, for over 150 years, we have been passionately devoted to the cultivation of Nebbiolo. This is a rare grape variety that, over the centuries, has adapted to the Valtellina, a land like no other, where everything is still done by hand. For 5 generations we have always waited for “the time it takes” “the right waiting time” and it is this that sets the pace of our work. Time and humility are what make our wine the purest, sincerest expression of this land and of the people who cultivate it with such dedication. This was the lesson we were taught by our father Arturo, without letting ourselves be influenced by passing fashions and conventional tastes. We are convinced that the outstanding qualities of Nebbiolo from the Alps means it is more than worthy of its place of honour on the international market of fine wines. Without this worldwide acknowledgement, this age-old activity would simply not be economically sustainable for it rejects any idea of modern mass-production”.

 Valtellina is a valley of glacial origin, furrowed by the river Adda, which runs for a full 120 kilometres from east to west, from the Stelvio Pass to Lake Como. Embraced in between the Alpi Retiche and Orobie, it runs parallel to chain of the Alps and enjoys a unique microclimate. From dawn to sunset, the sun warms the terraced vineyard, which is set like a precious stone on the Rhaetian slope, fully exposed to the south and soothed by the cool breeze from the north. Dry-stone walls hold back poor soils composed of flaked granite, where, since time immemorial, the root of the Nebbiolo from the Alps vine has found all the nutrients it needs to create a genetic variability that is unsurpassed. The spectacle of the terraced vineyards of the Valtellina is the heritage of mountain folk who have tended them for centuries, and it is a priceless treasure that deserves to be protected as a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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

2017 Nino Negri, Sforzato Di Valtellina

The Wine: (From Vino.com) Sforzato di Valtellina Sfursat Carlo Negri is a wine from the Nino Negri winery produced in the best vintages and in limited quantities that is born on the Valtellina hills, at the foot of the Rhaetian Alps, on the right bank of the Adda river.

It is produced entirely with Nebbiolo grapes, whose selection and harvesting begins in the second half of September and continues until the end of the month. After being left to dry naturally in boxes, the grapes ferment in steel at a controlled temperature with maceration on the skins for 16 days. After a short stop in the same containers, the wine is transferred into French oak barrels for 24 months.

It is characterized by an intense garnet color. It captures the nose with an ethereal and complex bouquet, with hints of cloves, cinnamon and pepper, with hints of plum in jam. In the mouth it is dry, warm and austere, with a pleasantly persistent taste on notes of toasted hazelnuts and licorice.

Perfect to taste in combination with roasted meats and game, it is excellent together with aged cheeses.

The Winery: (From https://www.frederickwildman.com/producers/nino-negri/) Established in 1897, Nino Negri is the premier estate producing wine in the Valtellina DOCG in Italy’s Lombardy region. The estate specialty is Sfursat (“strained” or “forced”); a wine made from grapes harvested by trained pickers and dried for 100 days in the cool, dry, alpine air. This winemaking style combines the opulence of Amarone with the elegant complexity of Barolo. The success of Nino Negri is due largely to the efforts of winemaker Casimiro Maule who has worked at the estate since 1971, his entire professional life. In 2007, Casimiro was named “Winemaker of the Year” by Gambero Rosso, the magazine authority in Italian wine.

The star and primary varietal here is Chiavennasca, the local name for Nebbiolo. The variety has been cultivated in the area for over 1,000 years and all Valtellina DOCG wines must contain at least 90% Chiavennasca. Nino Negri controls almost 400 acres of the finest Chiavennasca vineyards in the Valtellina Superiore subzones. The estate directly owns 75 acres of exceptional vineyards, including the 27-acre Fracia vineyard, an exclusive cru planted since 1995 to special clonal selections. The vine stocks that are cultivated horizontally from west to east, an innovated planting scheme for this region.

The winery is located in the city of Chiuro in the 15th Century Quadrio Castle. The “castle” sits above an array of underground cellars which house thousands of barrels. All Nino Negri wines age for at least two years before they are released to ensure optimum maturity at time of bottling.

Read more at: https://www.gruppoitalianovini.it/index.cfm/en/

CV Members Rating

The tasting took place before knowing the price of the wines and the participants evaluated them between Very Good and Excellent with the following results:

  1. Jermman Vintage Tunina Venecia Giulia IGT Chardonnay  blend:  Excelent ($63)
  2. Furadori Fuoripista Trentino, Pinot  Grigio, IGP: Very Good ($58)
  3. Arpepe, Valtellina Superiore DOGC, Sassela, Nebbiolo:  Excellent ($49)
  4. Nino Negri Sforzato  Di  Valtellina DOCG, Nebbiolo :  Excellent ($47)

The wines were considered a very good example of the region’s wine products, diversity and typicality and representative of high-quality standards.

Technical Notes 

This is the Power Point Presentation for this tasting prepared by Ricardo Santiago with plenty of technical information on the wines and the regions of origin.




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Tasting No. 231 (Virtual) – June 28, 2021- California Red Blends


Tasting Overview

This tasting is the last of a series of six dedicated to red blends of the Americas. In this occasion we have two wines, one from Napa (based on Carignan and Grenache) and another from Paso Robles (based on Syrah and Grenache). The objective is to asses the differences and similarities of these wines and their character. 

Type of Tasting: Open

Wine presenter: Jorge Requena

The wines are:

2018 Neyers Sage Canyon California Red Wine

2017 McPrice Myers High on the Hog, Rhone Red Blends from Central Coast, California

 The menu is up to each participant discretion

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jaime Estupiñán, Orlando Mason, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Ricardo Santiago, Pedro Turina, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke

Information on the Wines

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

2018 Neyers Sage Canyon California Red Wine  

The Wine: The 2018 Sage Canyon Red has a finished blend of Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah. Each lot of wine was fermented naturally using native, wild yeast, and the grapes were all crushed by foot so as to not break the stems left in the fermenting must. The finished wine is bright and flavorful, with a combination of mineral and earthiness. The Carignan fruit is stylish, incorporating elements of wild cherry, plum and black fig, while the Grenache and Mourvèdre add exotic aromas of wild herbs and lavender. It’s a wine for the ages, and you’ll enjoy watching it age over the next decade or two (Bruce Neyers).

Composition: 50% Carignan, 25% Grenache, 20% Mourvèdre, 5% Syrah

Barrel Program: 100% neutral French oak Alcohol: 13.6%

Vinification: traditional winemaking processes, 100% stem retention, whole cluster fermentation, oak-aging for one year in small, used barrels, and bottling with neither fining nor filtration.

The Sage Canyon Red is made from fruit from four separate areas of northern California: Grenache from the Sierra foothills, Carignan from Oakley, Mourvèdre from the southern Sonoma Valley near Glen Ellen, and Syrah from the Santa Lucia Highlands. The result is a soft wine, wonderfully attractive in its youth with complex flavors that are pleasing across the palate. This full-bodied Carignan-based wine wraps potent fruit and dark-spice flavors in a firm texture, framed by bright acidity and moderate tannins. Its good structure and concentration will pair well with many rich proteins. Best through 2025. (WE 91)

The winery:  In 1999, Bruce and Barbara Neyers purchased and renovated a winery on a thirty-acre parcel in the Sage Canyon area of Napa Valley. Over the next 14 months they built a modern, highly functional winery designed for traditional winemaking practices. They produced their first vintage in this state-of-the-art facility in 2000. In 2002, Wine and Spirits Magazine named Neyers Vineyards the Artisan Winery of the Year.

Even though Neyers Vineyards sits in the heart of the Napa Valley, Bruce’s experience with French wine importers has had an undeniable influence on their wines. Many of the French producers Bruce has worked with farm organically, make their wines naturally without use of cultured yeast or laboratory designed malo-lactic starter, and bottle their wines without fining or filtration. Neyers barrels are made in France from wood air dried for three years, two years longer than normal. All of the grapes are picked by hand, into small bins that hold only one-half ton. They are then hand sorted and inspected at the winery.

The Region: Sage Canyon area of Napa Valley. Sage Canyon Red from Neyers Vineyards derives its name from the sub-region where the winery is located. The canyon created by the north face of Pritchard hill was settled in the 1830’s by a group of Ohio pioneers led to California by John Chiles, and in neighboring Chiles Valley they established a modern, self-sustaining community with farms, homes, gardens, winemaking, mills and a distillery. The sage they introduced to the area grew wild in the canyon, hence the name Neyers uses today.

Read more about the winery here: https://www.neyersvineyards.com/

2017 McPrice Myers High on the Hog, Rhone Red Blends from Central Coast, California 

The Wine:  Winemaker Tasting Notes. Aromas of smoky plum, mocha, licorice, and black raspberries. On the palate, Rainier cherry, boysenberry, dark chocolate, brown spice, lush tannins and a long, supple finish.

This wine is a blend: 40% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 22% Mourvèdre, 6% Petite Sirah, 2% Viognier. 

Alcohol: 15.2%

Vinification: 3-5 day cold soak, with pump-overs 2 times a day and punch-downs 3 times a day during fermentation. Fermented in concrete, stainless steel, and small open-top fermenters with 20% whole clusters. Pressed into 500 L French Oak puncheons, 265 and 228 L barriques. Aged 20 months.

Aromas of fresh boysenberry, baked pastries, caramel and savory smoke lead into a well-integrated palate of fruit, herb and wood flavors that are framed by firm yet polished tannins. It’s fresh with acidity and yet dense, finishing on a touch of pine needle (Wine Enthusiast 93.)

Deep vivid ruby. Powerful red and blue fruit preserve, candied licorice and exotic spice aromas pick up a smoky nuance with air. Broad, fleshy and seamless in texture, offering palate-coating black raspberry, cherry cola, fruitcake and mocha flavors sharpened by a zesty, peppery nuance. Smoky finish, which leaves behind a sweet violet pastille note (Vinous 91.)

The 2017 High on the Hog offers earthy dark fruits, bouquet garni, pepper, and violets notes in a medium to full-bodied. It’s California’s answer to a top-notch Côtes du Rhône (Jeb Dunnuck 90.)

The Winery:  The Estate Vineyard is home to 20 acres of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Viognier, and Grenache Blanc. Located in the East/West Adelaida corridor (Paso Robles), where the Pacific Ocean’s influence provides for cool nights, even ripening, and a very long growing season. The hillside blocks are quite steep, with the slopes ranging in incline from 25 to 50 degrees, and with elevations from 1500 to 2000 feet. Well-drained soils are a combination of the Santa Lucia-Lopez and Linne-Calodo series, as well as Rincon and Nacimiento silty clay loam. There are multiple exposures to these hillside blocks, which results in a hands-on cultivation of each block by the McPrice Myers vineyard team.

Read more about this winery here: https://www.mcpricemyers.com/

Technical Notes 

There are abundant technical notes on red blends in the last five blogs 226 to 230.  Readers are welcome to browse through those pages. 





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Tasting No. 230 (Virtual) – May 24, 2021- Red Blends from California Central Valley and Napa

Tasting Overview

Each year, California produces millions of liters of good quality table wines with a growing number producing high quality vintage wines. In 2017, the U.S was the 4th largest producer of wine in the world, and 90% of the wine produced by the U.S. came from California.  Major grapes include Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Sauvignon Blanc.  A wine tradition going back to the early 19th century, California has some of the oldest continuing vineyards in the country. Many historians generally agree that the first California vines were planted in 1769 at the Mission of San Diego de Alcala.

This tasting focuses on two red blends: one with grapes harvested from California’s Napa and Sonoma Counties, and a second from Lodi in the Central Valley.

Type of Tasting: Open

Wine presenters: Michelle Fryer, Claudia and Agilson Perazza

The wines are:

2018 Chappellet Mountain Cuvee Proprietor’s Blend, Napa Valley

2017 Bogle Phantom, Central Valley, California

 The menu is up to each participant discretion

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Michelle Fryer, Orlando Mason, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Pedro Turina, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke

Information on the Wines

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

2018 Chappellet Mountain Cuvee Proprietor’s Blend, Napa Valley 

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Blended from the traditional Bordeaux varietals, including our own coveted grapes, the Chappellet Mountain Cuvee Proprietor’s Blend builds on our five decades of experience crafting great Napa County mountain-grown wines. Each component varietal in the cuvée contributes to nuances that complement each other. The result is a complex array of aromas and flavors that deliver pure pleasure in a glass. Made for more near-term enjoyment, this is the wine to choose when you’re looking for vivid, mouthfilling fruit flavors. Alluringly dark and spicy, this wine displays beautiful aromas of currant, cassis, sage, and thyme, as well as hints of cinnamon and clove from barrel aging. On the palate, the tannins are impeccably balanced, adding depth to the lush ripe berry flavors, with layers of cola and grenadine emerging as the wine evolves in the glass. Blend: 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 10% Malbec, 8% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc

The Winery: Chappellet Winery is a wine producer based in the Napa Valley. Spurred by the notion that mountain fruit would make superior wine, Donn and Molly Chappellet started the winery in 1967 by purchasing land on Pritchard Hill at the advice of legendary California winemaker André Tchelistcheff. Pritchard Hill, in St. Helena, was an appealing site for a vineyard due to its steep aspect, high elevation, and east-facing slopes. Chappellet remains family-owned and in 2011 bought the Sonoma County-based producer, Sonoma-Loeb, who had made its wines at the Chappellet winery for over two decades.

The estate vineyards on Pritchard Hill have an altitude that ranges between 800-1800ft (245-550m) above sea level. The Chappellet family were the first to plant vineyards exclusively on high elevation hillsides and the second winery to be established in the Napa Valley after Prohibition. Their specialty is red Bordeaux varieties, especially age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon, which accounts for 25 of the vineyard’s 34 individual plots. Its flagship wine is the critically acclaimed Pritchard Hill Cabernet Sauvignon which is sold mostly to members of its wine club by allocation. The rugged terroir of their vineyards produces wines with great intensity and depth, qualities that define the world’s finest wines.

Chappellet prides itself on its commitment to its land and the environment. Only 16 percent of the estate is under vine, the rest being uncultivated land. Furthermore, the entirety of the Pritchard Hill vineyard is organic and in 2008, solar panels were installed that generate enough energy to completely offset the winery’s needs.

As one of the first wineries to pioneer high-elevation hillside planting, and one of the few remaining great family-owned Napa Valley wineries, Chappellet Vineyard and Winery has influenced generations of vintners. Throughout its history, Chappellet has also established an enduring legacy as one of California’s most acclaimed producers of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Since being founded by Donn and Molly in 1967, Chappellet has earned acclaim championing the robust power and complexity of wines crafted from mountain grapes. At the same time, Chappellet has helped to establish Pritchard Hill as one of California’s most revered winegrowing sites. To honor the mountain’s rich, expressive character, the winemaking team focuses on creating extraordinary, age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignons that embody the intensity and finesse of fruit from Pritchard Hill.

The Region: Geographically speaking, Pritchard Hill fits between the official AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) of Oakville, Howell Mountain, the Stags Leap District, Rutherford and the Chiles Valley, not far from the town of St. Helena. The Chappellet family chose to trademark the name “Pritchard Hill” instead of going through the formal AVA application system. 

St Helena is one of the Napa Valley’s key subregions, located in the shadow of the 4345ft (1325m) Mount Saint Helena, from which the small town takes its name. The AVA, given in 1995, specializes in rich red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon and, to a lesser extent, Merlot. The AVA covers 9000 acres (3645ha) of densely packed vineyards and is home to more than 30 wineries, including  Chappellet and Beringer, one of California’s oldest continuously operating wineries, founded by Jacob Beringer and his brother Frederick in 1875. In recognition of the contribution the Beringer family estate has made to Napa Valley and its wine industry, the site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Next to Beringer Vineyards is the Charles Krug winery, established by the German-American who is often credited as being the “father of Napa wine”. 

The town of St. Helena and its vineyards are located where the valley narrows substantially, about 15 miles (25km) north of Napa, and receives little benefit from the cooling effect of the San Francisco Bay fog and ocean breeze. Consequently, St Helena is one of Napa’s warmer appellations, and well suited to producing rich, structured red wines from the key Bordeaux varieties.  

  2017 Bogle Phantom, Central Valley, California

The Wine:: Winemaker Notes: Intriguing, beguiling…this mysterious apparition of ripe berry and relentless spice returns to haunt wine lovers. Enveloped in shadow, this wine’s intensity and concentration will entice you with every sip. Full-bodied and jammy, Phantom’s origins of Petite Sirah and Zinfandel emerge from the glass. Spicy pepper and juniper tantalize your senses, while black plums and blueberries emerge on the palate. Notes of pipe tobacco and clove settle around the finish, long and lingering, like the Delta fog. Blend: 52% Petite Sirah, 48% Zinfandel.

This California wine has received good scores from various critics. Numerous prizes have been won by this wine: the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition awarded the 2015 vintage Gold and the 2014 vintage Double Gold. Based on critic scores and price, this wine represents great value.

The Winery: Although the Bogle family has been farming since the 1800’s, it wasn’t until 1968 that the father and son team of Warren and Chris Bogle planted their first 20 acres of wine grapes in Clarksburg, California. Clarksburg is a small farming community nestled in the Sacramento Delta. Initially selling grapes to other wineries, Bogle Vineyards became a winery in its own right, in 1979.  Since then, the winery has grown tremendously along with the vineyards. According to tracking by the wine-trade magazine Wine Business Monthly (2021), this family-owned vineyard is currently the 13th-largest winery in the United States, with an annual crush of approximately 39,000 tons of grapes and an annual production of from 2.5 million – 2.7 million cases of wine.   In fact, no winery in the country makes more Petite-Sirah wine than Bogle, some 130,000 cases a year. Chardonnay, their top-selling varietal wine, accounts for more than half of Bogle’s estate vineyards and about a quarter of its sales.

While the Bogle signature brand is a mass-market wine that is widely available in grocery stores, Costco, and Trader Joe’s, these value-priced wines have achieved a consistently high quality-to-price ratio, having earned the Wine Enthusiast’s Best Buy selection more than 40 times from 2015-2020, and the magazine’s Wine Star Award for “American Winery of the Year 2019”.  More recently, Bogle has expanded its portfolio to include several upscale wines, specifically the higher-priced Juggernaut (a name inspired by the surge in growth at the winery over the past decade) and Phantom programs. Twenty Acres, a new brand developed solely for on-premise and restaurant consumption, was rolled out this year.

Most of Bogle’s wine is made at a newer facility, with a 200,000 sq ft. barrel cellar large enough to accommodate Bogle’s 90,000 oak barrels and a veritable forest of fermentation tanks.  Estate acreage — 1900 acres mostly in the Clarksburg and Lodi AVAs — provides about 80% of the grapes needed by the winery, and the balance of fruit is brought in from growers across California and Nevada. First and foremost farmers, the Bogle family subscribes enthusiastically to a program of sustainable farming that adds a premium for each ton of certified grapes they process. As of 2018, this investment totaled $2.8 million in bonuses paid to local growers.  To be a certified grower, the program — “California Rules,” a spin-off of Lodi’s pioneering “Lodi Rules” — requires participants to adhere to water, soil, pest and other management standards. As part of this practice, Bogle installed high-efficiency drip irrigation on its estate vineyards and all water used at the winery is reclaimed and reused to irrigate on-site crops and landscaping. Consequently, in 2018, Bogle received California’s Green Medal Award, for being the vineyard that best demonstrates leadership in environmentally sustainable wine-growing practices.  While the family is proud of its sustainability efforts, a methodical approach to wine quality is also key to Bogle’s success.  The winery takes extra steps that many large wineries do not.  For example, each vineyard lot, whether gown by Warren Bogle or by partner growers, is processed separately to improve quality control throughout the winemaking process.  All red wines are aged in oak, while Chardonnays are barrel-fermented, and 96% of Bogle’s grapes are sustainably certified.  In recent years, corporate wine companies have bought several similarly successful family wineries, but Jody Bogle says their massive new winery and their sustainable farming practices are meant to keep the operation in the family “for future generations.”

The Region: Lodi AVA is located directly east of San Francisco Bay between the cities of Sacramento and Stockton. The AVA proclaims itself as the Zinfandel Capital of the World. Over 40 percent of California’s premium Zinfandel vineyards are located here. Lodi is known for old vine bottlings, with some plantings dating back as far as 1888. Many of these are on their own roots and naturally low-yielding.

Modern-day Lodi vineyards are planted with a broad portfolio of California’s favorite varieties, over 100 in total. Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and the Southern Rhône varieties are all represented.

Other key varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot for reds, with Chardonnay, Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc for whites. Although less common, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Franc, Barbera, Tempranillo, Graciano, Riesling, and Albarino are among the supporting cast.

One of Lodi’s former stalwarts was the unusual Flame Tokay, otherwise known as Ahmeur bou Ahmeur. Of North African origin, this robust red variety had traditionally been used around Lodi to make fortified wines and brandy. There are no commercial plantings anymore.

Read more about this winery here: 






Technical Notes 

Compiled by Claudia Perazza, Michelle Fryer and Agilson Perazza

The Napa Valley.

It could be said that the history of Napa Valley begins when Joseph Osborne started planting vines on a 1,800 acre tract of land he named Oak Knoll, in the 1850’s. George C. Yount was the first person to seriously plant vines, but Napa Valley history was made by John Patchett, who gets credit for creating the first official vineyard and winery in the Napa Valley. John Patchett began planting vines in 1854 and started producing wine just three years later. He constructed his cellar in 1859, and the following year his wine received an official review. History shows that the Napa Valley region really gets its start when the Charles Krug winery in Napa was founded in 1861. Other wineries quickly followed. But it is only since the 1960s that wine of any particular quality has been produced.

Napa County is the best known county (in wine terms, at least) in the larger North Coast AVA of California, largely because it includes the world-famous Napa Valley AVA, which covers most of the region. The region is located 50 miles north of San Francisco and is known around the world as the premium wine-growing region in North America. Its Mediterranean climate and the skill of its winemakers contribute to its popularity for wine. In most parts, Napa Valley is only a few miles wide with low volcanic hills defining its sides. As one of California’s smaller counties, Napa County covers a total of 485,000 acres (196,275ha) with less than 10% of the land under vine. Perhaps surprisingly, despite its formidable reputation, the Napa Valley represents just 4% of California’s total wine production – but it accounts for 30% of the state’s wine economy.

Napa Valley comprises 16 sub-regions or AVAs where more than 500 wineries are located, making it the most densely concentrated wine region in the world. The Napa Valley is home to Beringer Vineyards, the region’s oldest continuously operated winery, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Robert Mondavi, who established his winery in 1966, is considered to be one of the pioneers of Napa’s modern wine industry, as well as being one of the first proponents of varietal labeling.

Can see map here: https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/napa-wine-map/

Although a number of grape varieties are grown in the valley’s vineyards, the area is particularly known for its Cabernet Sauvignon. The classic “Napa Cab”, the archetypal Napa Valley wine, is a rich, oak-aged red with aromas of blackcurrant, boysenberry, licorice, vanilla, and smoky, bittersweet chocolate. There are several reasons for Napa Valley’s global renown as a wine region. Most obvious is that the wines are produced to high standards, in a popular style, and are very well marketed. But no less important (even after almost four decades) is the triumph of Napa Valley wines over their rivals from Bordeaux and Burgundy in the 1976 Paris Judgment.

Enter Robert Parker, who started his career as a wine writer in 1978, when he founded The Wine Advocate.  His call for harvesting ripe fruit, lower yields, more sorting and selection, cleaner facilities, more new French-oak barrels, planting the right grape varietal in the correct soil, and producing more vineyard-specific wines was heard by many California winemakers. Consequently, the late 1980’s ushered in the first wave of high-end vinyards and was seen by many as the first golden decade for California wine.  It became clear that making better wine earned you better scores from critics, and higher scores quickly translated into more money.

In recognition of the uniqueness of the soils and the myriad of different vineyard sites, in 1983, a system of American Viticultural Areas, (AVA’s) was created; however, the California AVA system has its quirks.  For example, wines are allowed to come from multiple AVA’s as long as the grapes from the AVA’s and that the percentage of each AVA is listed on the label. The first AVA was granted to Napa Valley, and the system expanded over the years. Today, the Napa Valley alone consists of 16 unique AVA’s.

Climate, geology, and topography are three essential components in what makes Napa Valley such a first-rate viticultural area. The combined influences of San Pablo Bay and the hills of the North Coast Ranges are responsible for the valley’s very particular mesoclimate. The bay generates morning fog, and the hills channel it inland, up into the valley. Without this fog that comes rolling in from the bays, the valley’s climate would be substantially warmer than it is, making it difficult to achieve structure and balance in the wines. The fog does not reach the higher parts of the valley, however, leaving these to rely on the cooling effects of altitude to keep their vines in balance.

Various parts of the Napa Valley suffered in the wildfires of October 2017. One fire began on Atlas Peak, requiring the evacuation by helicopter of vineyard workers. Signorello Estate’s winery was destroyed, and Stags’ Leap Winery was among those which were damaged.

The Central Valley 

Central Valley, in the center of California, is the engine room of the state’s agricultural output. It supplies all manner of foodstuffs to almost every part of the United States, from tomatoes and asparagus to almonds and apricots. Inevitably, the grapevine has found its way into this highly productive area. There is no Central Valley appellation per se, but the valley is home to a number of lesser-known AVAs. The most notable AVA is Lodi, just south of Sacramento, and others are Diablo Grande, Fresno County, Madera, River Junction, Salado Creek, Tracy Hills, and Yolo County.

The Central Valley is vast, running parallel with California’s Pacific coastline for more than 400 miles. Located about 100 miles inland, it swallows up the northern two-thirds of the state, with its spread halted only by the Coastal Ranges in the west and the Sierra Nevada mountains in the east.

See map here: https://vineyards.com/wine-map/united-states/california

Technically speaking, the Central Valley it is in fact two valleys: the Sacramento Valley in the north and the San Joaquin Valley in the south. They converge at the extensive and hydrologically complex Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta. This might be viewed as a natural extension of the San Francisco bays, and brings the meeting point of the salt and fresh water some 50 miles (80km) inland. The presence of all this water not only contributes to lowering temperatures, but also provides all-important irrigation.

The Central Valley is the workhorse of California’s wine industry, producing more than half of the state’s grapes. The hot, dry conditions which prevail here are conducive to high yields, with the majority of the harvest going into the bulk wine market. In selected sub-regions, increasing quantities of high-quality wines are also being produced. Grapes with higher natural acidity, such as Chenin Blanc, Colombard, Barbera and Chardonnay, are the best performers.

Nestled among the Sacramento Delta waterways just east of the San Francisco Bay Area, the fertile Clarksburg AVA extends into three counties. Most of its wine-growing areas are contained within Yolo and Sacramento counties, with a small southern portion in Solano County. The over-fertile, poor-draining soils found across Clarksburg are more suited to high yields than high-quality, refined wine styles. Because of its ability to produce cool-climate wine styles in vast quantities, Clarksburg is popular with wineries from other AVAs looking to buy in grapes for bulk wine bottlings, meaning the vast majority, up to 90 percent of Clarksburg grapes are vinified in other parts of the state and other states across the US. So, relative to the AVA’s prolific production levels, very few wines actually bear the Clarksburg name, leaving it among the lesser-known Californian AVAs.












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