Tuesday, August 22, 2017

My precious...

Gollum and his precious Inniskillin

We must not let filthy hobbitses take you away, precious.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Wine Review: Quantum Chardonnay 2015 & Quantum Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

August is The Third Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com

Quantum Chardonnay 2015 & Quantum Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

For the third year in a row, it's Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com! Check out the reviews from the first year (2015)the second year (2016), and this year (2017).

To read about the fascinating history of Bulgarian wine, check out Bulgaria - Part 1: Three-Thousand Years of Wine History. To learn about the grapes, wine regions and Bulgarian wine's place in the market, read Part 2: The Current State of Bulgarian Wine. And if you'd like to see what Bulgaria's national drink is all about, find out in Part 3: Invincibility of Rakia.

Out of all the Bulgarian wines I'm reviewing this month, six of them are from the Quantum label by Domaine Boyar. I started a week ago with their Traminer 2015 and their Pinot Noir & Merlot 2014, then a few days ago I had their Sauvignon Blanc 2015 with their Mavrud & Merlot 2015, and I'm finishing them off today with their Chardonnay 2015 and their Cabernet Sauvignon 2015.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Wine Review: Quantum Sauvignon Blanc 2015 & Quantum Mavrud / Merlot 2015

August is The Third Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com

Quantum Sauvignon Blanc 2015 & Quantum Mavrud / Merlot 2015

For the third year in a row, it's Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com! Check out the reviews from the first year (2015)the second year (2016), and this year (2017).

To read about the fascinating history of Bulgarian wine, check out Bulgaria - Part 1: Three-Thousand Years of Wine History. To learn about the grapes, wine regions and Bulgarian wine's place in the market, read Part 2: The Current State of Bulgarian Wine. And if you'd like to see what Bulgaria's national drink is all about, find out in Part 3: Invincibility of Rakia.

Out of all the Bulgarian wines I'm reviewing this month, six of them are from the Quantum label by Domaine Boyar. I started a few days ago on their Traminer 2015 with their Pinot Noir & Merlot 2014, now I'm on to their Sauvignon Blanc 2015 with their Mavrud & Merlot 2015, and finally in a few more days I'll have their Chardonnay 2015 with their Cabernet Sauvignon 2015.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Wine Review: Quantum Traminer 2015 & Quantum Pinot Noir / Merlot 2014

August is The Third Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com

Quantum Traminer 2015 & Quantum Pinot Noir / Merlot 2014

For the third year in a row, it's Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com! Check out the reviews from the first year (2015)the second year (2016), and this year (2017).

To read about the fascinating history of Bulgarian wine, check out Bulgaria - Part 1: Three-Thousand Years of Wine History. To learn about the grapes, wine regions and Bulgarian wine's place in the market, read Part 2: The Current State of Bulgarian Wine. And if you'd like to see what Bulgaria's national drink is all about, find out in Part 3: Invincibility of Rakia.

Out of all the Bulgarian wines I'm reviewing this month, six of them are from the Quantum label by Domaine Boyar. Today I'm tasting their Traminer 2015 with their Pinot Noir & Merlot 2014, then their Sauvignon Blanc 2015 with their Mavrud & Merlot 2015, and finally their Chardonnay 2015 with their Cabernet Sauvignon 2015.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Wine Review: Gorchivka Merlot 2014 & Mezzek Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

August is The Third Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com

Gorchivka Merlot 2014 & Mezzek Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

For the third year in a row, it's Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com! Check out the reviews from the first year (2015)the second year (2016), and this year (2017).

To read about the fascinating history of Bulgarian wine, check out Bulgaria - Part 1: Three-Thousand Years of Wine History. To learn about the grapes, wine regions and Bulgarian wine's place in the market, read Part 2: The Current State of Bulgarian Wine. And if you'd like to see what Bulgaria's national drink is all about, find out in Part 3: Invincibility of Rakia.

Merlot and Cab, baby! The two Bulgarian big guns! Although, in my experience, their Merlot is the one who should be in the spotlight. Let's drink some wine, suckas!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Darth Vader just won't quit.

Darth Vader just won't quit.

Just driving the point home. What a jerk.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Wine Review: Domaine Boyar Selection Muscat 2015 & Tcherga Thracian Valley Red 2013

August is The Third Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com

Domaine Boyar Selection Muscat 2015 & Tcherga Thracian Valley Red 2013

For the third year in a row, it's Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com! Check out the reviews from the first year (2015)the second year (2016), and this year (2017).

To read about the fascinating history of Bulgarian wine, check out Bulgaria - Part 1: Three-Thousand Years of Wine History. To learn about the grapes, wine regions and Bulgarian wine's place in the market, read Part 2: The Current State of Bulgarian Wine. And if you'd like to see what Bulgaria's national drink is all about, find out in Part 3: Invincibility of Rakia.

A few days ago I revisted two new vintages of Domain Boyar varietals that I reviewed a few years ago. One did a little better and one did a lot worse, but in my experience the only thing that Domaine Boyar does really well is Merlot. Today I'll be trying their Muscat, and then moving onto a different brand: Tcherga by Domain Menada.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Wine Review: Domaine Boyar Selection Traminer 2015 & Domaine Boyar Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

August is The Third Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com

Domaine Boyar Selection Traminer 2015 & Domaine Boyar Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

For the third year in a row, it's Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com! Check out the reviews from the first year (2015), the second year (2016), and this year (2017).

To read about the fascinating history of Bulgarian wine, check out Bulgaria - Part 1: Three-Thousand Years of Wine History. To learn about the grapes, wine regions and Bulgarian wine's place in the market, read Part 2: The Current State of Bulgarian Wine. And if you'd like to see what Bulgaria's national drink is all about, find out in Part 3: Invincibility of Rakia.

I'm kicking off the month with some wines by Domaine Boyar. Domaine Boyar was established in 1991 and was the first private winery in Bulgaria to be founded after communism. Although the winery is based out of Sofia, all of the wines I'll be reviewing from them are from Thracian Valley.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August Wine Pick: Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages 2015

This WINE PICK of the month was written for the Luke's of Cape Cod website.


I love Beaujolais-Villages. That’s right. I said it. Sure, those from the Cru villages in Beaujolais get all the glory and praise while those that are designated as Beaujolais-Villages don’t get taken too seriously. But, see, that’s EXACTLY why I love them. You shouldn’t get all serious and wine-snobby about Beaujolais-Villages because of its fun and spirited character.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

In a world gone mad, Harold is keeping it together...

Hide the Pain Harold and vodka

... with vodka.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Wine Review & Wine Product Review: Black's Station Yolo County Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 & ArT Wine Preservation

Black's Station Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

My old friends at Matchbook Wine Company are back on the blog! I've done a lot of work with Matchbook, as you can see by doing a quick search on the blog or by clicking this link. And if you'd like to learn more about Matchbook, just read my article A Brief History of Matchbook Wine Company.

This time I'll be checking out their new label, Black's Station. Black's Station is what the town of Zamora, within Dunnigan Hills, used to be named. Needless to say, the vineyards that make these wines are in Zamora. I've already tried Black's Stations 2015 Chardonnay2015 Malbec2014 Red Blend, and now I'm finishing them off with the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Wine Review: Black's Station Yolo County Red Blend 2014

Black's Station Red Blend 2014

My old friends at Matchbook Wine Company are back on the blog! I've done a lot of work with Matchbook, as you can see by doing a quick search on the blog or by clicking this link. And if you'd like to learn more about Matchbook, just read my article A Brief History of Matchbook Wine Company.

This time I'll be checking out their new label, Black's Station. Black's Station is what the town of Zamora, within Dunnigan Hills, used to be named. Needless to say, the vineyards that make these wines are in Zamora. I've already tried Black's  Stations 2015 Chardonnay and the 2015 Malbec. Now I'm trying the 2014 Red Blend before I finish with the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon.

After an insane day at work, I'm about to pass out at my desk. Let's do this one quickly so I can curl up with my wife and baby and get yelled at for falling asleep too early.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Wine Review: Black's Station Yolo County Malbec 2015

Black's Station Malbec 2015

My old friends at Matchbook Wine Company are back on the blog! I've done a lot of work with Matchbook, as you can see by doing a quick search on the blog or by clicking this link. And if you'd like to learn more about Matchbook, just read my article A Brief History of Matchbook Wine Company.

This time I'll be checking out their new label, Black's Station. Black's Station is what the town of Zamora, within Dunnigan Hills, used to be named. Needless to say, the vineyards that make these wines are in Zamora. I've already tried Black's Stations 2015 Chardonnay, now I'm on the 2015 Malbec, then I'll move on to the 2014 Red Blend, and finally 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon.

That's right, baby! Malbec! It's been growing in California for quite some time and now it's getting done right! Malbec just isn't for the French and Argentinians anymore, friend.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Wine Review: Black's Station Yolo County Chardonnay 2015

Black's Station Chardonnay 2015

My old friends at Matchbook Wine Company are back on the blog! I've done a lot of work with Matchbook, as you can see by doing a quick search on the blog or by clicking this link. And if you'd like to learn more about Matchbook, just read my article A Brief History of Matchbook Wine Company.

This time I'll be checking out their new label, Black's Station. Black's Station is what the town of Zamora, within Dunnigan Hills, used to be named when it was founded. Needless to say, the vineyards that make these wines are in Zamora. Today I'm tasting Black's Stations 2015 Chardonnay, then 2015 Malbec, then 2014 Red Blend, and finally 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon.

I know I promised you that this summer I'd return to the kind of reviews and articles you've come to expect from me, and also go back to three posts a week instead of two, but I gotta break that promise for the time being. Yes, my wife and I had our second child. She's pretty awesome. However, she also has colic and is very very needy. Especially at night. We now realize how easy the first one was! So, although I'm glad to say that I will still be posting, it'll only be twice a week and the reviews will be rather short. Also, I'm sorry I haven't been all that responsive and talkative on social media. But don't worry, my friends. We'll get back to the immature hijinks and captivating history soon enough.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

FRENCH Chardonnay? More like BEST Chardonnay!

Why do they have so many French Chardonnays?

BECAUSE THEY'RE AMAZING, THAT'S WHY! #RetailProblems

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sauvignon Blanc! It's the Ultimate Wine Club Theme

Sauvignon Blanc: The Ultimate Wine Club Theme

As a wine guy in the retail business, I get a lot of regular customers from various wine clubs that come around looking for suggestions. These people get together usually once a month and they each bring a bottle of wine and, sometimes, food to pair it with. Generally the cap limit is $15 a bottle.

They’re not only looking for suggestions and pairings to fit a theme, but whoever is hosting that month might be looking for a theme itself. It could be a region or part of the world. Northwestern United States is always a big hit, because Oregon and Washington produce great affordable wine and cover a bunch of different grapes and styles. One person is designated an Oregon Pinot Gris, another a Washington Merlot, etc etc. Or it could be different California red blends. Or it could be just one varietal from around the world, which is exactly where I’m going with this.

One theme that is always a smash hit, where everybody has the most fun and learns the most about wine, is Sauvignon Blanc from around the world. Every time I suggest it to those who haven’t done it yet, they come back raving about the results.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Wine Reviews: Concha y Toro Fronterra Chardonnay 2016 & Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2016

Concha y Toro Fronterra Chardonnay 2016 & Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2016

Hello! How's everybody's week going? Did my fellow Americans have a nice Independence Day? Myself being in the wine retail business in a tourist destination, I can tell you that I did not. It's the busiest week of the year and I'm just beat, man. My feet are killing me. My arms are sore. But I love my job and I love this time of year. Talking to people from all over the world about wine and getting them the perfect bottle for their visit here makes me happy.

And, besides, a bit of wine at the end of the day will always make it all better. Because I'm just so run down I'm going to make this one quick. I've got two bottles here that you can buy in magnum format and are much better than your average Yellow Tail or Barefoot or Cavit. Let's drink 'em!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

July Wine Pick: Pavão Vinho Verde Branco

This WINE PICK of the month was written for the Luke's of Cape Cod website.

Pavão Vinho Verde

If Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, collaborated with the Horae, the Greek goddesses of the seasons, to create a wine specifically for summer they'd inevitably end up with the Branco (white) version of Vinho Verde from Portugal. Light, uncomplicated, quaffable, and refreshing with a touch of effervescence. It is the epitome of what we call a "porch pounder".

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Wine Review: Lieb Cellars Reserve Petit Verdot 2014


Lieb Cellars is back yet again on the blog for Round 3! To read all the reviews I've done on this Long Island winery, as well as their great story, check out A Brief History of Lieb Cellars - On the North Fork of Long Island, New York!

This go around I'll be tackling two Bridge Lane label items, 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and 2016 Rosé, and two Lieb Cellar label items, 2015 Reserve Pinot Blanc and 2014 Reserve Petit Verdot.

Do you even Petit Verdot, bro? I can't believe I just said that but I just had to. Petit Verdot is the new Petite Sirah: everybody loves it and they just don't know that they do. So when Lieb and I decided that it was time to rekindle passions of lust, I had to give their PV a try. It's not just the magical blender anymore. It's rising as a varietal to be reckoned with. This one was hand harvested, aged in Hungarian oak for 10 months, and has an ABV of 13.2%.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Wine Review: Lieb Cellars Reserve Pinot Blanc 2015


Lieb Cellars is back yet again on the blog for Round 3! To read all the reviews I've done on this Long Island winery, as well as their great story, check out A Brief History of Lieb Cellars - On the North Fork of Long Island, New York!

This go around I'll be tackling two Bridge Lane label items, 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and 2016 Rosé, and two Lieb Cellar label items, 2015 Reserve Pinot Blanc and 2014 Reserve Petit Verdot.

Lieb Cellars' Pinot Blanc comes from vines planted in 1982 (ten years before the winery was founded) and they're also the oldest vines on the North Fork. Not only that, but Lieb has the most plantings of Pinot Blanc in the entire United States. When the vines were planted they were believed to be Chardonnay but, when informed by its future winemaker (Russell Hearn) that it was Pinot Blanc instead, the land went up for sale literally the next day. The buyer was Marc Lieb. He made that Pinot Blanc his flagship and built a success around it. I don't know how he did it, honestly. Every time I try to sell somebody a Pinot Blanc I get a sour look and have to explain that it's not Pinot Grigio.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wine Review: Bridge Lane Rosé 2016

Bridge Lane Rosé 2016

Lieb Cellars is back yet again on the blog for Round 3! To read all the reviews I've done on this Long Island winery, as well as their great story, check out A Brief History of Lieb Cellars - On the North Fork of Long Island, New York!

This go around I'll be tackling two Bridge Lane label items, 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and 2016 Rosé, and two Lieb Cellar label items, 2015 Reserve Pinot Blanc and 2014 Reserve Petit Verdot.

Bridge Lane is Lieb's entry level label, with the place of origin listed as New York State rather then Long Island. Their 2016 Rosé is Cabernet Franc based. You know I love me some Cab Franc so I'm looking forward to this! It has an 11.9% ABV and 0% residual sugar.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wine Reviews: Best of Spring 2017

Today is the last day of spring and tomorrow brings summer! So here are the top five wines that I reviewed between March 20th and June 20th!

May being 90+ Cellars Month resulted in a 90+ Cellars domination on this list, and the only red on the list is from Texas!

#5. THP Montepulciano 2014 by Llano Estacado

Region: High Plains, Texas
Review Release: April 23rd, 2017

The color of the wine is a dark garnet. There's aromas of dried cherries, jammy plums, sweet tobacco, dried pottery clay and orange peel. It's medium bodied with sweet tannin and perky acidity. The palate shows flavors of blackberries, black cherries, tobacco and dried herbs. The tannin stiffens up a bit on the finish, and there's the leftover taste of blackberries and tobacco.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $20
Rating: 4.5/5 = Recommended / Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


Region: Marlborough, New Zealand
Review Release: May 14th, 2017

The color of the wine is pale yellow with a silvery shine. On the nose there's Tic-Tac shell, grapefruit, green pepper, lemon peel and celery. It's firmly structured within its medium body, yet still crispy with a sharp acidity. On the palate there's flavors of lime, grapefruit and pear. With the finish you're left with the saliva in your mouth stripped away as if it were a highly tannic red, and there's flavors of lime and pear.


QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $12
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)



Region: Prosecco, Veneto, Italy
Review Release: May 1st, 2017 (Wine Pick of the Month)

A dry stone minerality overlays the juicy peaches and ginger of the wine's nose. In the mouth it's light and crisp, yet soft and fluffy when swished into a foam. There's intense green apple all over the palate, with a tiny squeeze of lemon and lime. It's just so refreshing and delicious that's it's ridiculous. You simply must try it.


QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $12
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)



Region: Sancerre, Loire Valley, France
Review Release: May 28th, 2017

The wine is a light lager yellow. The limestone in its marl soil shows through on the nose with chalky minerality. There's aromas of white flowers, lemon, and the juice collection from a fruit salad. In the mouth it's light bodied with high acidity, and has both a smooth body and a crispy bite. The palate shows flavors of lemon, grapefruit and cracked stone. It finishes super dry with grapefruit and cracked stone.

Goat cheese brie cheese on Saltine crackers would put me in heaven right now. This is an awesome, awesome Sancerre for $21. It beats the crap out of the more popular ones at that price range, and I'm giving it a perfect score.

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $21
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)



Region: Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley, California
Review Release: May 21st, 2017

The wine has a golden color. On the nose there's a touch of smokiness with aromas of apple, pineapple, butter, caramel and walnut. It's full bodied with a buttery mouthfeel but still has a sharp, piercing acidity. There's flavors of pineapple, vanilla, banana and ginger. It finishes with some heat, spicy ginger, and pineapple.

Dude. DUUUUUDE. This is stellar! 90+ Cellars knocked it out of the goddamn park with the purchase of this lot. If you bought it under the source label it would run you $22, which is a great deal in itself, but under the 90+ label it's $18. I indeed fell in love with this Chardonnay.


QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $18
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Book Review: Wine & War by Don and Petie Kladstrup

"To be a Frenchman means to fight for your country and its wine." - André Terrail
Wine & WarThe problem with an addictive quick read is that you're done with it that much faster because you couldn't put the damn thing down. Then you're sad when you've finished in just a few days. That's exactly what Wine & War will do to you. And because I really want you to read this quick read (248 pages), I'm making this review a quick read as well. I'll tell you some cool things to perk your interest and then dip out! Get the damn book!

Authors Don and Petie Kladstrup talked to survivors of the World War II Nazi occupation of France and put their stories together in this book. They all went through different experiences and hardships, but the one thing all of these people have in common was wine.

The Hugel's of Alsace, the Drouin's of Burgundy, the Taittinger's of Champagne, and many many more.

Despite the Germans believing that the French had the strongest army in the world, the leaders of France and its military were so scarred from the loss of young men that they experienced in the First World War that they decided on a deal to be occupied rather than go through that horror again. When the Germans rolled in, however, the wine people went to work.

They hid their most prized wines immediately, knowing that the Germans would take them and, more importantly, not appreciate them. They built walls in their cellars, closing in the wines behind them, and had their children collect spiders so they'd spin webs to make the wall look older. Dust from old carpets were collected to put on cheap bottles to make them appear rare.
"Generals rarely have the power to build, they more often have the power to destroy." - Pierre Taittinger to General Dietrich von Choltitz
The first thing that Nazi leader Hermann Goering did in Paris, right at the very beginning of occupation, was drive to a famous restaurant to drink a famous vintage, only to be told they were sold out. After checking their cellar, he found that they were telling the truth. Only they weren't telling the truth, and the vintage was hiding behind a wall only feet away.

Once the occupation was better organized, a system was put into place for winemakers to sell their wine to the Germans. The chapter on the Weinfuhrers, who negotiated with the winemakers, is probably my favorite.

And that's not all. Not by a long shot. Vineyards and houses were taken over by the Germans for their own uses. The famous Haut-Brion in Bordeaux was turned into a rifle range. One vineyard owner spread rat droppings all over her house so the Germans wouldn't take it; and it worked. Other families hid their Jewish friends. With copper being taken by the Nazi's, a young man turned his barn into a chemistry lab to try and create copper sulfate to apply to vineyards.

Their lives were rough, although easier in some places. Goering said that the French could live off of 1,200 calories a day. That's half the calories that you need to survive. For the elderly it was only 850 calories. France was literally starving. And those calories included the wine that had always been so important to the French.
"What helped a lot was the wine. As the food grew scarcer, we drank more and more of it. Occasionally on Saturday evenings, we would buy ten or twelve bottles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Hermitage, Mercurey, Moulin-à-Vent, Julienas, Chambertin, Bonnes Mares or Musigny and have an evening of drinking and singing." - Verian Fry
One of the greatest stories here is about a Prisoner of War concentration camp for French officers that blackmailed their Nazi captors into allowing them to have a wine dinner. The wine dinner turned into a two week celebration of the wines of France, leading up to everybody getting just a few ounces of wine at the main event dinner. That story in itself is worth picking this book up.

I could go on and on about all the great moments in the book but I'm going to stop right there before I even get to the liberation.

The Kladstrup's did an amazing job in telling these people's stories, and organizing them in a way to form one overall successive one. It's simply an amazing read. If you're any fan of wine, or if you're any fan of history, you absolutely must read Wine & War.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Wine Review: Bridge Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Bridge Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Lieb Cellars is back yet again on the blog for Round 3! To read all the reviews I've done on this Long Island winery, as well as their great story, check out A Brief History of Lieb Cellars - On the North Fork of Long Island, New York!

This go around I'll be tackling two Bridge Lane label items, 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and 2016 Rosé; and two Lieb Cellar label items, 2015 Reserve Pinot Blanc and 2014 Reserve Petit Verdot.

Bridge Lane is Lieb's entry level label, with the place of origin listed as New York State rather then Long Island. With the 2016 vintage they've dropped their White Blend in favor of producing this here Sauvignon Blanc. Long Island seems to find its most success with Bordeaux varietals so it absolutely makes sense that this would happen. Their new Sauvignon Blanc sees no oak, is fermented until there is zero residual sugar, and it has an ABV of 12%.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Wine Review: Dane Cellars Justi Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012


This is the final of three wines I'll be reviewing for Dane Cellars. I started with their 2014 Justi Creek Vineyard Grenache, then moved on to their 2013 Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel, and am now concluding with their 2012 Justi Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

I had the pleasure of having a phone conversation with Bart Hansen, the owner, founder and winemaker of Dane Cellars the same day that the Grenache review was published. It took awhile for us to make that call happen (a month or two) since a friggin' child decided to be born out of my wife and has completely taken over the house. If that's not enough, we have a kindergartner too. So, needless to say, the only thing that has been successfully scheduled the past few months are feedings and nap-times.

Bart Hansen, Dane Cellars
BART HANSEN
But Bart understood. He's been there before. And he's a really down-to-Earth guy that gets excited to talk about wine, even if it's not his own. I really like the guy and wanted to keep talking but there was an incident in the house and I had to run off and be daddy again.

Bart started as a vineyard worker and became a winemaker at Kenwood in 1986. He jumped over to Benziger in 1998, just when the winery had completed its conversion over to being fully biodynamic. There he was the lead winemaker for the Zins, and he learned a great deal about biodynamic and sustainable viticulture.

Yeah, Bart's been the daddy before. He even left Benziger Winery just to be a stay-at-home dad to his son Dane, whom Dane Cellars is named after. When he decided that he wanted to get back in the wine game, he also decided that he didn't want to do any of that vineyard work anymore. He just wanted to make the wine. So he called up his Sonoma vineyard connections and began buying grapes from his buddies, founding Dane Cellars in 2007.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Wine Review: Dane Cellars Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel 2013

Dane Cellars Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel 2013

This is the second of three wines I'll be reviewing for Dane Cellars. I started with their 2014 Justi Creek Vineyard Grenache, now I'm on their 2013 Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel, and I'll be concluding with their 2012 Justi Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Founder and winemaker Bart Hansen contacted me himself to try his wines and write about them. Bart started off in the industry during harvest; trucking grapes from the vineyard down a hill, five tons at a time. In 1986 he started winemaking for Kenwood, and then hopped over to Benzinger in 1998. He founded Dane Cellars in 2007, named after his son.

Zin is a passion for Bart, and he was the lead winemaker for Benziger's Zinfandel during his time there. Before that, back in his Kenwood days when even White Zinfandel was being made from Old Vine Zinfandel, the red Zin's that were being made weren't those over-extracted, over-alcoholic candied-fruit bombs that we're seeing now. With this Zin, Bart wants to get back to the Zinfandel roots he remembers from '88-'89.  Los Chamizal Vineyard, where this particular wine is from, was planted 40 years ago and is grown by Peter Haywood.

Okay, Zinfandel. Here we are. Meeting again. Will we ever get along? I'm guessing the answer is no. There are Zins that I love but probably about 98% of the ones I've tasted I ask myself "eeew, why would I want a whole glass of that?"

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Wine Review: Dane Cellars Justi Creek Vineyard Grenache 2014

Dane Cellars Sonoma Valley Grenache 2014

This is the first of three wines I'll be reviewing for Dane Cellars. I'm starting with their 2014 Justi Creek Vineyard Grenache, then their 2013 Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel, and concluding with their 2012 Justi Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Founder and winemaker Bart Hansen contacted me himself to try his wines and write about them. It's cool. No pressure. Just the guy who actually makes this wine took the time to ask me if I would review it. Bart started off in the industry during harvest; trucking grapes from the vineyard down a hill, five tons at a time. In 1986 he started winemaking for Kenwood, and then hopped over to Benzinger in 1998. He founded Dane Cellars in 2007, named after his son.

One of the cashiers at the Dennisport Luke's of Cape Cod (my place of employment, where I am the Wine Manager) is completely obsessed with reptiles and amphibians. He has countless lizards, a few salamanders, and a snake. We call him the Lizard King. Anyways, I texted him a picture of this label with the caption "lizard wine". He responded by asking "Is it made from real lizards?", to which I replied "Of course." But sadly it is not made from real lizards. It's made from real Grenache, fermented in small open tanks, and has an ABV of 15%.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June Wine Pick: High Hook WIllamette Valley Pinot Blanc 2015

This WINE PICK of the month was written for the Luke's of Cape Cod website.


High Hook WIllamette Valley Pinot Blanc 2015


High Hook is a term used for the person who catches the biggest fish or the most fish. Oregon’s High Hook Wines was founded in 2008 by wine lovers wanting to make some money to support their fishing habit and raise money for various environmental and charitable donations. Their winemaking philosophy is focused around capturing the true character of the fruit with the subtle minerality and earth qualities of the soil.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Wine Review: 90+ Cellars Lot 126 Sancerre 2014

May is 90+ Cellars Month on TheWineStalker.net!

90+ Cellars Lot 126 Sancerre 2014

To learn about how 90+ Cellars finds their wine and everything else you want to know about the Boston based company, read A Brief History of 90+ Cellars!

After receiving samples from 90+ for these reviews, I randomly decided to add their Lot 126 to the mix (because I love it) and purchased it myself. However, this is their 2014 vintage and they're currently on the 2015. It is 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the Sancerre region of France's Loire Valley. If you bought it under the source label it would cost you $28, but as 90+ it'll normally cost you $21. At Luke's of Cape Cod we actually sell it for $17.

NOTE: In advance of moving to a new house and the arrival of a new baby, the reviews for March, April and May were all written in February and may be much quicker and to the point than you expect from this blog. Foolishness will return this summer.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wine Review: 90+ Cellars Lot 137 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2015

May is 90+ Cellars Month on TheWineStalker.net!

90+ Cellars Lot 137 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2015

To learn about how 90+ Cellars finds their wine and everything else you want to know about the Boston based company, read A Brief History of 90+ Cellars!

Oregon Pinot Noir! Isn't it lovely? Willamette, too. I mean, jeez, I don't think I've ever had a Willamette Pinot that I didn't like. And I've had plenty of Pinot from everywhere else that I didn't like. I gotta say that I'm digging the new label for this vintage; artsy and purple. The Lot 137 is 100% Pinot Noir and has an ABV of 14.1%.

NOTE: In advance of moving to a new house and the arrival of a new baby, the reviews for March, April and May were all written in February and may be much quicker and to the point than you expect from this blog. Foolishness will return this summer.


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Wine Review: 90+ Cellars Lot 130 Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2015

May is 90+ Cellars Month on TheWineStalker.net!

90+ Cellars Lot 130 Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2015

To learn about how 90+ Cellars finds their wine and everything else you want to know about the Boston based company, read A Brief History of 90+ Cellars!

So I have zero information on this wine that you would normally want from a Chardonnay, such as how much oak it saw, what kind of oak it saw, or how much malolactic fermentation it received. But everything I really need to know is summed up in three simple words: Russian River Chardonnay. What does that mean? It means that I'm probably going to fall in love with it.

NOTE: In advance of moving to a new house and the arrival of a new baby, the reviews for March, April and May were all written in February and may be much quicker and to the point than you expect from this blog. Foolishness will return this summer.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Wine Review: 90+ Cellars Lot 23 Mendoza Malbec 2015

May is 90+ Cellars Month on TheWineStalker.net!

90+ Cellars Lot 23 Mendoza Malbec 2015

To learn about how 90+ Cellars finds their wine and everything else you want to know about the Boston based company, read A Brief History of 90+ Cellars!

At Luke's of Cape Cod this Malbec sells like hotcakes, along with the Lot 2 Sauvignon Blanc. The Lot 23 Malbec is out of Argentina's famous Mendoza region and the vineyards are planted on the foothills of the Andes at over 3,000 feet above sea level. The wine sees a minimum of six months aging in French and American oak.

NOTE: In advance of moving to a new house and the arrival of a new baby, the reviews for March, April and May were all written in February and may be much quicker and to the point than you expect from this blog. Foolishness will return this summer.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Wine Review: 90+ Cellars Lot 2 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016

May is 90+ Cellars Month on TheWineStalker.net!

90+ Cellars Lot 2 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc

To learn about how 90+ Cellars finds their wine and everything else you want to know about the Boston based company, read A Brief History of 90+ Cellars!

One of 90+ Cellars' top selling items is their Lot 2 Sauvignon Blanc out of Marlborough, New Zealand. There are rumors that it's a certain popular Sauvignon Blanc with a green label whom will remain unspoken, but I can tell you that it's not and I'm not sure why that rumor exists. The Lot 2 is much better than that rumored source label. Also, if you bought this wine under the source label it would cost you $16, while under 90+ Cellars it'll cost you $12.

NOTE: In advance of moving to a new house and the arrival of a new baby, the reviews for March, April and May were all written in February and may be much quicker and to the point than you expect from this blog. Foolishness will return this summer.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Wine Review: 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé


90+ Cellars Sparkling Rosé

To learn about how 90+ Cellars finds their wine and everything else you want to know about the Boston based company, read A Brief History of 90+ Cellars!

NOTE: In advance of moving to a new house and the arrival of a new baby, the reviews for March, April and May were all written in February and may be much quicker and to the point than you expect from this blog. Foolishness will return this summer.

This is the wine I'm the most excited about trying from 90+ Cellars this entire month. Sparkling rosé is something that I have a complete adoration for. I actually get excited and cheer "YYYEEEEEEEE!!!" while opening them like a kid on Christmas.

This one is from Trentino, Italy. If you bought it under the source label it would cost $18, but under 90+ it'll cost you $11. Let's go! YYYEEEEEEEE!!!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Brief History of 90+ Cellars - Wine Buyers in Boston

What if I told you to your face that you could purchase a $25 bottle of wine for $9 to $12? How about a $75 bottle of wine for $30? You'd probably call the cops because an uninvited strange man has suddenly appeared in your home, but suppose you got past that and listened to what I was saying. You'd either say I was crazy and to get the eff out, or you would ask me where you could sign up.

90+ Cellars sunglasses
Through 90+ Cellars these things are possible. This is what they do. That $25 bottle that you can get for $9 to $12 is their Lot 53 Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendoza, Argentina. This is one of the "lots" that they've been releasing with great success for years. That $75 bottle for $30 was their Lot 95 Super Cuvée 2012 out of Napa, California; a part of their Collection Series that features high end products on crazy deals just like that.

I've been a fan of 90+ since the very first time I tried their wines, which was probably soon after they were established. Hell, their famous orange sunglasses are my preferred facial accessory and optical protection from the solar intensity of the summer. They're so stylish and sturdy.

Because 90+ is so awesome, the entire month of May this year is dedicated to them and I'll be reviewing plenty of their wine. So let's go over how they came to be and how they're able to sell wine at such a great discounted price.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Wine Review: Lila Pinot Grigio

May is 90+ Cellars Month on TheWineStalker.net!

Wine Review: Lila Pinot Grigio

To learn about how 90+ Cellars finds their wine and everything else you want to know about the Boston based company, please read A Brief History of 90+ Cellars!

Lila is the non-vintage canned brand by Latitude Beverage, the parent company of 90+ Cellars. There are several different varietals, such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio. I do feel like I need to point out that if you had the Lila Sauvignon Blanc and it tasted like gasoline, that was because of a skunking issue from a canning error which has since been completely rectified. So I implore you to at least give it another shot.

That said, this is for the Pinot Grigio. It never saw that problem and it performs remarkably well during the promotional tastings that I've personally witnessed.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Wine Pick: 90+ Cellars Lot 50 Prosecco Brut

This WINE PICK of the month was written for the Luke's of Cape Cod website.
May of 2017 is 90+ Cellars Month on TheWineStalker.net!

90+ Cellars Lot 50 Prosecco

Who says sparkling wine is just for celebrations? A cold Prosecco is a great wine for spring time! Fermented and secondary fermented (to create the bubbles) in enormous pressurized stainless steel tanks, Prosecco is crisper with brighter fruit than sparkling wine done in the traditional method.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Wine Review: Cecchi La Mora Vermentino 2014

Cecchi La Mora Vermentino 2014

Vermentino is big on the island of Sardinia but also has plantings here and there on the Italian mainland and southern France. This one is from the Maremma subregion of Tuscany, and it's by the famous Cecchi winery.

The Cecchi family got into the winemaking business in 1893 with Luigi Cecchi, and the first bottles of Cecchi labeled wines were produced in the early 1900's. However, the land that their winery and estate vineyards are on has been making wine for over a thousand years. Today it's run by Andrea and Cesare Cecchi, and they pride themselves on their practice of sustainability.

NOTE: In advance of moving to a new house and the arrival of a new baby, the reviews for March, April and May were written in February (this one in March, actually) and may be much quicker and to the point than you expect from this blog. Foolishness will return this summer.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Wine Review: THP Montepulciano 2014 by Llano Estacado

THP Montepulciano 2014 by Liano Estracado

This is the final wine of five that I've reviewed for Llano Estacado out of TEXAS! Yes, TEXAS! I started with the 2016 Pinot Grigio, then 2015 Viognier2015 Signature Red, now 2015 Cellar Reserve Chardonnay and finally 2014 THP Montepulciano.

Spanish monks made Texas and New Mexico the first of the would-be-states in today's USA to grow vineyards and make their own wine in the 1620's. Llano Estacado was established in Western Texas in 1976, and has become the best selling premium winery in the state. Their current winemaker Greg Bruni took over that position in 993.

The 2014 THP Montepulciano is 76% Montepulciano, 12% Aglianico, 5% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Syrah. So this Texas wine takes two varietals whose vines normally don't venture far from their homes in southern Italy, and blends them with three French international varietals. THP stands for Texas High Plains, and that's where the vineyards are located. The wine spends 18 months in 59 gallon French and American oak barrels.

NOTE: In advance of moving to a new house and the arrival of a new baby, the reviews for March, April and May were all written in February and may be much quicker and to the point than you expect from this blog. Foolishness will return this summer.

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