Thursday, February 13, 2020

Winephabet Street Season 2 Episode 4 - D is for Dornfelder

Welcome to Winephabet Street Season 2 Episode 4 D is for Dornfelder. Winephabet Street is a monthly series where Lori Budd of Draceana Wines and I work our way through the alphabet exploring wine and wine regions one letter at a time. The show is live on the third Monday at 8pm and is free, but you must register to attend. Put it on your calendar, pour yourself a glass of wine and hang out with us.

This month we learn about the Dornfelder grape. Dornfelder is a cross between Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe born in Germany. Helfensteiner a dark skinned grape is a cross of Fruhburgunder (Pinot Precoce noir) and Trollinger (Schiava Grossa.) What I found very interesting about Dornfelder is that it has a lost little sister called Hegel. The crossing took place in August 1955 by August Herold and it was given variety protection in 1994.

Other regions Dornfelder is grown is Fingers Lakes Region in New York, the Cantons of Zurich, Schwyz England, Chech Republic, California in the Sta. Rita Hills and Lodi, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Hokkaido Japan and Brazil Rio Grande do Sul.

2017 Windisch Dornfelder
This wine I chose for Winephabet Street hails from the Rheinhessen region of Germany. The Windisch family has been growing grapes since 1780. This is the first German Dornfelder I have tasted. It was a semi-sweet red wine. Not one of my favorites, but if you like sweet red wine, this is the wine for you. It was a very deep dark red in color. I immediately tasted cherry pie, lots of red berries and notes of boysenberry. Soft smooth tannins and a slight hint of tartness to the wine on the finish.

Learn more about Dornfelder and the wines we tasted by listening to the podcast or watch the webinar.

For more episodes of Winephabet Street visit

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

13 Brunello and Rosso Di Montalcino Wines to Look For

Last Monday I attended a Brunello tasting at Gotham Hall in New York City. I have to tell you, aside from the wine tasting, I am very lucky because these tasting are held is some of the historic and beautiful meeting spaces in the city. Gotham Hall was constructed in 1924 to house Greenwich Savings Bank move from the village to midtown. They were in the building until 1980. The architecture is pretty cool, both inside and out. Many of the characteristics of ancient Rome, like the Flavian amphitheater and the Coliseum are noted throughout. This made it a great space to host Benvenuto Brunello

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG vs Rosso di Montalcino DOC - The Difference
Both of these wines are made with the Sangiovese grape. Beside the difference of DOCG and DOC, one might wonder, what is the difference. They are both the Sangiovese grape right? Yes but……

DOCG is the highest designation of quality in Italian Wine. It stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita. There is usually a cap on yields and the government committee has to analysis and evaluate the wine before release.
DOC stands for Controlled Denomination of Origin. This guarantees the wine is from the place it states and produced under the strict guidelines to ensure quality and authenticity.

Now both Brunello di Montalcino DOCG and Rosso di Montalcino DOC are made with 100% Sangiovese. Here is the difference

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
The Sangiovese grapes are all grown in the Montalcino area. The name Brunello can only be used if the grapes and wine come from Montalcino. The maximum yield of grapes are 8 tons per hectare and must be aged in oak casks for 2 years. After it is aged in oak, it must age in the bottles for 4 months and 6 months if the wine is a Riserva. Bottling must take place is the production area. The wines are released the 1st of January of the 5th year following harvest and 6th year following harvest for the Riserva. They can only use Bordeaux style bottles.

Rosso di Montalcino DOC
The Sangiovese grapes with this designation all come from Montalcino. The maximum yield is 9 tons per hectare and bottling must take place in the production area. Here is the difference….. The Rosso is released the 1st of September of the year following the vintage. They can only be bottled in Bordeaux style bottles.

Here are some of the wines to look for that I felt were good. One note is that the 2015 was a very good grown season in Montalcino, so some wines that are only made during good vintages were produced that year. Some are released others will be released soon.

Remember, ask your retailer for the wines if you can’t find them.

Villa Poggio Salvi


Poggio Il Castellare


Franco Pacenti

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Get Magical on Valentine's Day with Franciacorta

When I hear the word Franciacorta I think of the movie “Princess Diaries” and the country of Genovia. Something about that movie is magical to me, just like Franciacorta is magical, the name, pronouncation and the sparkling wine. No I’ve never been to the Franciacorta region of Italy but I envision it with lush green vines and a magical way about it. Valentine’s Day is magical and should be spent with a magical bottle of Franciacorta.

Where is Franciacorta
Franciacorta is comprised of 19 villages in the district of Brecsia in Lobardia, Italy. Gentle hills line the area bordered by the river Oglio to the west and Lake Iseo to the north. The climate is continental and the mountain ranges to the north protect the area by blocking much of the cold air from the Alps. Vineyards range in elevation from 300 to 1,600 feet.

What is Franciacorta?
Franciacorta is a sparkling wine made in the traditional method. It is produced from three types of grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco. The wines tend to be Chardonnay dominated and by law Pinot Bianco cannot exceed 50% in the blend. The grapes are harvested by hand.
When you buy a bottle, it will either be Non-Vintage, Vintage or Riserva. The requirements for each are different.
Non-Vintage Franciacorta spends a minimum of 18 months on the lees. Produced as a Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Sec and Demi-Sec
Vintage Franciacorta (Millesimato) must age a minimum of 30 months on the lees. Produced as Extra Dry, Brut, Extra Brut and Brut Nature
Riserva Franciacorta is only made in exceptional years and made from vintage bottlings. It requires a minimum of 60 months on the lees. Produced as a Brut, Extra Brut and Brut Nature.
Franciacorta Rose which must contain at least 35% Pinot Noir ang aged for 24 months on the lees. It can also be produced as a millesimato and riserva
Franciacorta Saten is a Chardonnay-based Franciacorta produced with less than 5 atm of pressure and finished as a Brut. It must age on the lees for 24 months. Saten can also be produced as a millesimato and riserva.
The Demi-Sec, Sec and Extra Dry style will be hard to find. Not many produced in that form.

Uncork Barone Pizzini Franciacorta for Valentine’s Day
Founded in 1870 by Baron Giulio Pizzini Von Thurberg it is the oldest winery in Franciacorta and the first to be devoted to organic production. Their Saten 2002 was the first Franciacorta organic wine. They have over 200 hectares of vineyards.
Barone Pizzini Bagnadore Franciacorta Riserva DOCG 2009
Start your evening off with this stellar Franciacorta as 2009 was an exceptional year. The blend is 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Nero sourced from the Roccolo vineyard. This single vineyard was planted in 1992 and the average age of the vines is 23 years. The wine was aged for six month in stainlesss steel tanks and barriques. It then spent 60 months in the bottle on the natural yeasts until it was disgorged. It is zero dosage.
Tasting notes saw beautiful fine straight bubbles shooting up in the glass. Nice acidity structures the wine with hints of creme brulee and pear notes that lead to a beautiful creamy finish. SRP $65 certainly doable for Valentine’s Day!

Barone Pizzini Animante Franciacorta Brut DOCG NV
The Animante is sourced from 25 vineyards and the vines are about 20 years old from different locations around Franciacorta. The wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Blanco that was fermented in stainless steel tanks for six months. It was later aged in the bottle on natural yeasts for 20-30 months before disgorgement. Dosage mixture was added about 2-3 g/l organic sugar.
Tasting notes saw nice fine straight bubbles with notes of white flowers and spring freshness with hints of pear and citrus notes. Nice clean on the finish. SRP $37, very affordable for your Valentine’s Day toast.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Celebrate with the Lafite Spirit and Toast this Valentine's Day with Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite)

Valentine’s Day is coming up in a few weeks and although I think of it as a Hallmark holiday, it is a time of celebration of sorts. Whether you are celebrating Valentine’s Day or Galentine’s Day with friends or a loved one, toast to the occasion with Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite). The Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) has a wine for you to toast with from France to South America.

Domaine D’Aussieres
Toast with the 2016 Chateau D’ Aussieres and celebrate beauty and passion. The Domaine located in the Languedoc region of France was acquired by the Rothschild (Lafite) in 1999. The vineyard has 412 acres planted with Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Carignan along with some Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. This 2016 is a blend of 48% Syrah, 37% Mourvedre, 8% Grenache and 7 % Carignan.
You will totally enjoy this with your Filet Mignon with mushrooms and a red wine demi. The wine has well-integrated tannins with layers of black fruit such as blackberry and black cherry leading to finish with nuances of baking spices. SRP $37.99

Chateau Odilon
Toast to the creative side with Chateau Odilon. This Chateau was previously named Chateau Peyre-Lebade but was renamed Chateau Odilon to honor Odilon Redon a French symbolist painter, born in Bordeaux and spent his childhood on the property. His paintings were inspired by the landscapes and beauty of the Chateau. Currently, there are 55 hectares planted with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

The 2016 Chateau Odilon is a blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Beautiful deep garnet in color with aromas of dried herbs, plum, vanilla tickle your nose. This medium-bodied wine is full of black fruit and black licorice on the finish that just lingers and softly fades on the palate. SRP $34.99

Bodegas Caro
Toast with elegance and love with Bodegas Caro. Located in Argentina where Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) formed a partnership with the Catena family and the first vintage of CARO (CAtena/ ROthschild) was produced in 2000.

In 2003 Bodegas Caro produced its first Amancaya vintage. Amacaya named after the mountain flower that grows in the Andes, soft, beautiful and elegant. This reserve red blend is a cross between the styles of wine produced in Bordeaux and Argentina.
The blend is 67% Malbec and 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged for 12 months in 50% French oak and 50% concrete vats. The wine, very dark cherry cola in color, beautiful and elegant on the palate. Hints of fig, vanilla, cherry and finishes with clove. SRP $19.99

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Treat Yourself to Every Day Luxury with Domaines Paul Mas

The table is set, the good china is out and the silver is polished. It’s a special dinner and I think to myself, why don’t I use this china and silver more often. I carefully select the wine for the evening, selections from Domaines Paul Mas, everyday luxury wines; a Chardonnay, a red blend and a Pinot Noir. The menu: Ceviche, Crab Beignets, Duck Breast Confit, Potatoes and Green Beans. Let the evening begin.

I think I need to take a lesson off the books of Jean-Claude Mas, founder of Les Domaines Paul Mas. What is that lesson? “Luxe Rural” - Everyday Luxury. Why do I only bring out my good china and silverware three times a year? Shouldn’t I be enjoying it every day, just like a bottle of wine? I quote Jean-Claude Mas “Our wines are a result of our mission to inspire real emotions.” Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, isn’t everyday a luxury? When we sit down at the dinner table, we want to talk about the day, feel good, proud and enjoy the presentation of the meal and bottle of wine? Just because you are eating on your good china, doesn’t mean the bottle of wine has to be expensive. What is most important is that you like it. After your meal, you are proud, you enjoyed the meal, the wine and your good china that you admire and realize you should be eating on it more often. Like everyday luxury, treat yourself every day!

La Forge Estate
La Forge Estate wines symbolize the fusion of old world and new world winemaking. Like the old school of thought the good china for special occasions, but should really be every day. La Forge Estate wines have new world attitude and are one of Jean-Claude’s signature wines.

The 2017 La Forge Estate Chardonnay is a beautiful expression of Chardonnay that is oaked, but not over-oaked. The Chardonnay was aged for only 4 months in oak barrels. The wine expressed lots of pineapple, tropical fruit, mango, soft hints of lemon and lime and a very subtle hint of toast and vanilla. A great wine for every day or that special occasion. Paired well with the Crab Beignets! SRP $12.99

Chateau Paul Mas Reserve - St. Hilaire Vineyard
The Chateau Paul Mas wines come from 5 vineyards that make up the estate. One of those vineyards is the St Hilaire vineyard where the 2018 Chateau Pal Mas Reserve Pinot Noir comes from. A lovely Pinot Noir with aromas escaping from the glass showing hints of earthiness followed by red raspberry, nutmeg, and licorice. The palate was full of juicy raspberry, cranberry and left lingering black pepper on your lips when finished. Paired beautifully with the duck and the cranberry glaze. SRP $13.99

Château Des Crès Richards
This estate was created in 1960 in the village of Ceyras and in 2010 Jean-Claude Mas acquired the 27 hectares. The soil is unique with red earth, shale and pebbles that produces silky wines with intense flavors.
The 2017 Château Des Crès Richards Stècia is a blend of 60% Syrah 25% Grenache and 15% Carignan. The syrah vines are between 11 and 21 years old and the Grenache and Carignan vines are 42 and 49 years old respectively. The wine showed lots of mocha, hint of menthol followed by chocolate and molasses. The wine paired well with our dessert of white chocolate peanut butter truffles. SRP $19.99

Jean-Claude Mas produces wines from the Languedoc region of France. We should all take note and follow his thoughts of everyday luxury. Everyday luxury is defined by you not by $.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Easy Drinking Caldora Montepulciano D'Abruzzo

Sometimes when I open a bottle of wine, I sip and savor it and relax. Other times that first sip quickly leads to a second without thinking and I’m full of energy. That’s what I call an easy-drinking wine. It’s a wine that doesn’t require deep thinking or decanting and will pair with most everyday foods and events. Caldora 2016 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo is just that, an easy-drinking wine that will pair with everyday foods and events.

Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC
Montepulciano D’Abruzzo was classified as a DOC region in 1968. What Montepulciano D’Abruzzo means is that it is the Montepulciano grape grown in the Abruzzo region of Italy. You might see other wines with the Montepulciano on it, but only if it’s Montepulciano D’Abruzzo is it from the Abruzzo region of Italy. The region is warm Mediterranean climate with the Appenniness on the western side of the region and the Adriatic Sea on the eastern side.

Caldora 2016 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC
Caldora is part of Farnese Vini family and one of the largest cooperatives in the Abruzzo region. They source their grapes from small family growers in Teramo and Chieti. Their aim is to make wine for consumers that are seeking good value and good taste.
They certainly live up to the good value and good taste. It’s a very easy drinking wine with soft acidity and soft mouth-feel. Hints of vanilla, black licorice, plum, wild cherry lurking in the background and a hint of cocoa. The wine paired very well with our home-made pizza. Drink now and enjoy. Price ranges from $10 - $14.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Winephabet Street Season 2 Episode 3 - C is for Chenin Blanc

Welcome to Winephabet Street Season 2 Episode 3 C is for Chenin Blanc. Winephabet Street is a monthly series where Lori Budd of Draceana Wines and I work our way through the alphabet exploring wine and wine regions one letter at a time. The show is live on the third Monday at 8pm and is free, but you must register to attend. Put it on your calendar, pour yourself a glass of wine and hang out with us.

This month we learn about the Chenin Blanc grape. It is believed that the grape was established in the Anjou region of France. The Abbey of Glanfeuil a French Benedictine Monastery in the village of Saint-Maur-sur-Loir wer growing these grapes.

The DNA of Chenin Blanc was always in question. However, in July 2019 at the First International Chenin Blanc congress it was revealed that the DNA of the grape is Savagnin and Sauvignonasse.

Chenin Blanc is a very versatile grape. It can and is produced dry, semi-sweet, sweet and cremant style. There is a Chenin Blanc for every palate.

2016 Chappellet Chenin Blanc

The wine I chose for this episode came from my wine cellar. A Chappellet Chenin Blanc. Full disclosure, I am a Chappellet wine club member and have been a member for a very long time.
Chappellet was founded in 1967 after Don Chappellet settled his family on Prichard Hill. His goal was to create world-class wines. Although they produce predominately red wines and are known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc grapes were originally on the property when they purchased it. They did replant the Chenin Blanc in 2004 and re-introduced it as a signature designation with Molly Chappellet’s signature on every bottle.
The wine is elegant, bright and lively with notes of tropical fruit, citrus, meyer lemon, honeydew. It’s balanced and soft with a burst of acidity.

Learn more about the Chenin Blanc and the wines we tasted by listening to the podcast or watch the webinar.



For more episodes of Winephabet Street visit