Saturday, December 30, 2017

Wine Review: Beronia Rioja Gran Reserva 2008

December is A Very Rioja Christmas on TheWineStalker.net!

Beronia Rioja Gran Reserva 2008

Beronia is named after the ancient Celtic tribe called the Berones that inhabited the land that is now La Rioja in the 3rd century BC. The Beronia winery, however, was established in 1973 CE by a group of Bosque businessmen and founders of a gastronomy society who visited Rioja and decided they wanted to make wine there.

This whole month is dedicated to the wines of Rioja, and three of them are from Beronia. I've already reviewed their 2014 Crianza and 2012 Reserva, and now I'm on their 2008 Gran Reserva. Because I will be reviewing so many wines this month, I'm going to keep the reviews short and sweet.

The 2008 Gran Reserva is 90% Tempranillo, 8% Graciano, and 2% Mazuelo. The grapes are hand selected from their oldest vineyards, and then selected again at the winery from only the best bunches of those previously selected in the vineyard. It goes through slow and controlled fermentation with periodic pumping over, then twenty-six months of barrel aging in French oak, and thirty-six months of bottle aging. It has a 14% ABV.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Wine Review: Beronia Rioja Reserva 2012

December is A Very Rioja Christmas on TheWineStalker.net!

Beronia Rioja Reserva 2012

Beronia is named after the ancient Celtic tribe called the Berones that inhabited the land that is now La Rioja in the 3rd century BC. The Beronia winery, however, was established in 1973 CE by a group of Bosque businessmen and founders of a gastronomy society who visited Rioja and decided they wanted to make wine there. One of the very cool things about their bottling is the braille embossing on the back label.

This whole month is dedicated to the wines of Rioja, and three of them are from Beronia. I've done their 2014 Crianza, now I'm on their 2012 Reserva, and then their 2008 Gran Reserva. Because I will be reviewing so many wines this month, I'm going to keep the reviews short and sweet.

The 2012 Reserva is 97% Tempranillo and 3% Graciano. The grapes are hand selected from their oldest vineyards and undergo a slow fermentation in temperature controlled vats with periodic pumping over. It sees twenty months of aging in barrels of American oak staves and French oak tops, and eighteen months of bottle aging. It has an ABV of 14%.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Wine Review: Beronia Rioja Crianza 2014

December is A Very Rioja Christmas on TheWineStalker.net!

Beronia Rioja Crianza 2014

Beronia is named after the ancient Celtic tribe called the Berones that inhabited the land that is now La Rioja in the 3rd century BC. The Beronia winery, however, was established in 1973 CE by a group of Bosque businessmen and founders of a gastronomy society who visited Rioja and decided they wanted to make wine there. One of the very cool things about their bottling is the braille embossing on the back label.

This whole month is dedicated to the wines of Rioja, and three of them are from Beronia. This here is their 2014 Crianza, then I'll do their 2012 Reserva, and then their 2008 Gran Reserva. Because I will be reviewing so many wines this month, I'm going to keep the reviews short and sweet.

The 2014 Crianza is 91% Tempranillo, 8% Garnacha, and 1% Mazuelo. After being harvested the grapes undergo a few days of cold maceration, and then fermented at low temperature with periodic pumping. It sees twelve months of aging in barrels of American oak staves and French oak tops, then three months of bottle aging. it has a 13.5% ABV.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Wine Review: Maetierra Dominum QP Quatro Pagos Reserva 2009

December is A Very Rioja Christmas on TheWineStalker.net!

Maetierra Dominum QP Quatro Pagos Reserva 2009
Pictured: roasted chestnuts, goat milk gouda, wild mushroom brie, and Maetierra Dominvm QP Quatro Pagos Reserva 2009. Cheeseboard, accessories, and wine courtesy of Rioja.

Here's the thing: I have minimal information on this winery. I've tried to dig up as much info as I can but it's just not out there. From what I can see, they don't even have a website. I've requested a brief history of the winery, so if this review is posted like this then a) I did not receive one b) I'm dead or c) I'm in a coma. Happy Holidays, everybody!

What I do know is that the 2009 QP Quatro Pagos Reserva is mostly Tempranillo with some Graciano and Garnacha. I do not know the percentages. The wine is called Quatro Pagos because the grapes come from four different areas of Rioja, and all from old and low yielding vines. It's aged for fifteen to eighteen months in new French oak, and the final ABV is 14%.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Wine Review: Bodega Ontañón Rioja Reserva 2005

December is A Very Rioja Christmas on TheWineStalker.net!

Bodega Ontañón Rioja Reserva 2005
Pictured: Ornament, decorative towel, bottle Santa hat, bottle scarf, and Bodega Ontañón Rioja Reserva 2005. All courtesy of Rioja.

The family owned Bodega Ontañón goes back five generations, but it wasn't until the 1980's that this family decided to not sell its grapes to wineries and instead start making their own wines. This decision was made by the current owners, Raquel, Rubén and María Pérez Cuevas. Located in Quel (within Rioja Baja), Bodega Ontañón has 250 hectares of vineyard land at high altitude in the Sierra Yerga Mountains.

Their 2005 Reserva is 95% Tempranillo from the La Pasada vineyard that was planted in 1979, and 5% Graciano from the La Montesa vineyard. The Tempranillo was aged for one year in 60% American oak and 40% French oak, and after blending and bottling it's bottle aged for two years before release. Ontañón only produces a Reserva on outstanding vintages, and 2005 is the current release for their Reserva. It has an ABV of 13%.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Wine Reviews: Best of Fall 2017!

Tomorrow is the last day of Fall and Winter officially begins on Thursday. So here's the best of the wines that I reviewed for the season!

#5. Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir 2016

Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir 2016
Region: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Review Release: October 8th, 2017


The color of the wine is a light copper. There's aromas of peaches, pear apple sauce, lime peel and dried oregano. It's medium to full bodied in the mouth with a slight touch of sweetness that's balanced out by perky acidity. There's flavors of tart juicy lemons, peaches, and oranges. It finishes with oranges on the center of the tongue and tart lemon on the sides of your mouth making your body salivate to provide protection against the acidity.

This is what I would call, in the most distinguished terms available to my vocabulary, "nommy nommy".

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $24
Rating: 4.5/5 = Recommended / Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


#4. CVNE Viña Real Rioja Gran Reserva 2010

CVNE Viña Real Rioja Gran Reserva 2010Region: Rioja, Spain
Review Release: December 14th, 2017

The color of the wine is garnet. It kicks up quite the complex nose with aromas of wet cedar, cooked blackberries, grape jelly, eucalyptus, licorice, black olive, and leather. One of those wines I could just smell all night. On the palate it's medium bodied with a rich mouthfeel, soft tannin and mellowed acidity to create an impressively balanced elegance. There's flavors of tomato, cilantro, onion... shit... wait... I'm eating chips and salsa... hold up, let me cleanse my palate. Okay, there's flavors of blackberries, graphite, black olives, tobacco and mocha. It finishes super smooth with long lasting flavors of blackberries, graphite, and black olives.

DAAAAAAMN! This is gorgeous. It's gorgeous.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $47
Rating: 4.5/5 = Recommended / Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


#3. Moraga Estate Red Wine 2013

Region: Bel Air, Los Angeles, California
Review Release: November 9th, 2017


The wine is garnet in color. And oh the mocha. Thhaaaaa mochaaaaaa. And the vanilla, too. This nose is KILLING IT with those coffee beans, cocoa beans, and vanilla beans, man. I freakin' love it! There's also cassis and black cherries playing the fruit role, with cedar and charcoal and mint as a supporting cast. It's medium to full bodied with a dusty mouthfeel and hot tannin. There's flavors of black cherries, juicy plums, burnt caramel, and ancho chiles. It finishes hot and dry with flavors of plums, pencil shavings, and ancho chiles.

Alright, guys. This is $175. That's a lot of dough. Is it worth it? Does it stack up to its competition in its price range? Yes and yes.

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $175
Rating: 4.5/5 = Recommended / Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


#2. Matchbook The Arsonist 2015 Chardonnay

Matchbook The Arsonist 2015 ChardonnayRegion: Dunnigan Hills, California
Review Release: October 29th, 2017


There's aromas of a grilled corn muffin slathered in butter, an assortment of melon and pears, vanilla ice cream, and pineapple lollipop. On the palate it has a medium bodyweight, a mouthfeel that's ridiculously rich and smooth, and an acidity that's ninja stealth until it reveals itself on the finish. There's flavors of melon, pineapple, canned pears, and vanilla. On the finish you're left with pears and banana for quite a long duration.



Although this is only the second vintage of Arsonist Chardonnay that I've reviewed for this blog, it's the fourth vintage that I've had. And they've all been insanely delicious for $20. Perfect score! Mark it down!

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


#1. CVNE Rioja Reserva 2013

CVNE Rioja Reserva 2013
Region: Rioja, Spain
Review Release: December 5th, 2017


The color of the wine is garnet, and like the Crianza it's pretty transparent. The nose is so toasty! I love it! I mean, I don't even think I want to drink this. I just wanna smell it. Can we make this a fragrance? Or a candle? The toasty oak is just so captivating, and that's joined by violets, wild berries, licorice, sticky fresh herbs, and vanilla. I'm already in love with this wine before I even taste it.

On the palate it's medium bodied with perfectly balanced tannin and acidity, but carrying an ethanol burn. There's flavors of cherries, blackberries, licorice, vanilla, and leather. It finishes boozy and with flavors of blackberries and leather.

Oh, fuck yes. This is awesome. Snatch it up!

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $28
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Bordeauxing Rioja: The Origin Stories of Manuel Quintano & Luciano de Murrieta

December is A Very Rioja Christmas on TheWineStalker.net!

Marqués de Murrieta
MARQUÉS DE MURRIETA
OAK BARRELS

IMAGE CREDIT: expansion.com
For my article this month I really didn't just want to do a "history of Rioja" or some expansive long read like that. I wanted a story. I wanted to write about a specific person or event with focus. 

I found many interesting stories about Rioja and the people in its history while searching for a subject. But the origin stories of the two guys that brought Bordeaux influence and oak barrel aging to the region caught my eye and sucked me in. One of them had a short success before pricing laws and war eliminated his efforts. Decades later, the other would make it stick.

They've been producing wine in Rioja since the Phoenicians. So about three-thousand years, give or take. The region doesn't have a great geographic position for exporting its wines elsewhere, but it does have a great geographic position to grow vines and make wine. Starting in the the middle ages, Rioja found itself in the path of a popular religious pilgrimage. It's called el Camino de Santiago, known as The Way of Saint James in English, and it takes believers to the city of Santiago de Compostela where, supposedly, the body of Saint James resides. Pilgrims would drink the local wine while passing through Rioja and end up spreading the word of its excellence. Rioja was built on a word-of-mouth reputation instead of export power.

But before Manuel Quintano came along in the 1700's, the wine was still stored underground in clay vessels. Like the vast majority of wine in the entire history of wine, it turned vinegary relatively quick and did not travel well. Much of it spoiled completely and had to be dumped. Rioja needed an upgrade.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Happy Saturnalia!

Happy Saturnalia, humans!

Never forget the reason for the season, mortals.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Wine Review: CVNE Viña Real Rioja Gran Reserva 2010

December is A Very Rioja Christmas on TheWineStalker.net!

CVNE Viña Real Rioja Gran Reserva 2010

The Viña Real brand was established in 1920 by CVNE (pronounced coo-nay). Viña Real is out of the Rioja Alavesa region of Rioja, as opposed to CVNE's main label out of Rioja Alta. The name of the parent winery is actually an acronym that stands for Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España. It was founded in 1879 in Haro, Rioja and has been a leader in progressive winemaking and modernization since its inception. I've reviewed three wine's by CVNE's main label this month.

This whole month is dedicated to the red wines of Rioja, and three of them are from CVNE's Viña Real. I started with their 2013 Crianza, then moved on to their 2013 Reserva, and here I am with their 2010 Gran Reserva. Because I will be reviewing so many wines this month, I'm going to keep the reviews short and sweet.

The 2010 Gran Reserva is 95% and 5% Graciano, all hand harvested from their better vineyards in the Rioja Alavesa region of Rioja. Fermentation occurs in temperature controlled vats, which frequent dropping of the juice over the skins for more extraction. It's placed in French and American oak for malolactic fermentation, then manually racked. Time in oak is not specified, but after oak aging and before bottling it's clarified with egg whites.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Wine Review: CVNE Viña Real Rioja Reserva 2013

December is A Very Rioja Christmas on TheWineStalker.net!

CVNE Viña Real Rioja Reserva 2013

The Viña Real brand was established in 1920 by CVNE (pronounced coo-nay). Viña Real is out of the Rioja Alavesa region of Rioja, as opposed to CVNE's main label out of Rioja Alta. The name of the parent winery is actually an acronym that stands for Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España. It was founded in 1879 in Haro, Rioja and has been a leader in progressive winemaking and modernization since its inception. I've reviewed three wine's by CVNE's main label this month.

This whole month is dedicated to the red wines of Rioja, and three of them are from CVNE's Viña Real. I've already done their 2013 Crianza, now I'm on their 2013 Reserva, and then I'll do their 2010 Gran Reserva. Because I will be reviewing so many wines this month, I'm going to keep the reviews short and sweet.

The 2013 Reserva is 90% Tempranillo and 10% Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazeulo, all from the Rioja Alavesa region of Rioja. After cold maceration, the juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Then it's aged in new and second use barrels for twenty-two months, being racked every six months. It's clarified before bottling and has a final ABV of 13.5%.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Wine Review: CVNE Viña Real Rioja Crianza 2013

December is A Very Rioja Christmas on TheWineStalker.net!

CVNE Viña Real Rioja Crianza 2013

The Viña Real brand was established in 1920 by CVNE (pronounced coo-nay). Viña Real is out of the Rioja Alavesa region of Rioja, as opposed to CVNE's main label out of Rioja Alta. The name of the parent winery is actually an acronym that stands for Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España. It was founded in 1879 in Haro, Rioja and has been a leader in progressive winemaking and modernization since its inception. I've reviewed three wine's by CVNE's main label this month.

This whole month is dedicated to the red wines of Rioja, and three of them are from CVNE's Viña Real. This here is their 2013 Crianza, then I'll do their 2013 Reserva, and then their 2010 Gran Reserva. Because I will be reviewing so many wines this month, I'm going to keep the reviews short and sweet.

The 2013 Crianza is 90% Tempranillo, 4% Garnacha, 3% Graciano, and 3% Mazeulo, all from the Rioja Alavesa region of Rioja. After being destemmed, the grapes are placed into stainless steel tanks to ferment as is for ten to twelve days. Once made into wine it's allowed malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels, then aged in American oak barrels for thirteen to fourteen months while being racked every five to six months. The wine has a final ABV of 13.3%.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Wine Review: CVNE Rioja Gran Reserva 2011

December is A Very Rioja Christmas on TheWineStalker.net!

CVNE Rioja Gran Reserva 2011

This winery goes by both CVNE and Cune, Cune being a typo that stuck. The name is pronounced coo-nay and it's actually an acronym that stands for Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España. It was founded in 1879 in Haro, Rioja and has been a leader in progressive winemaking and modernization since its inception.

This whole month is dedicated to the wines of Rioja, and three of them are from CVNE's main label. I've already reviewed their 2014 Crianza and their 2013 Reserva, and now I'm onto their 2011 Gran ReservaBecause I will be reviewing so many wines this month, I'm going to keep the reviews short and sweet.

The 2011 Gran Reserva is 85% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano, and 5% Mazuelo; all from the Rioja Alta region of Rioja. It saw two years of aging in French and American oak, and then three years of bottle aging before release.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Wine Review: CVNE Rioja Reserva 2013

December is A Very Rioja Christmas on TheWineStalker.net!

CVNE Rioja Reserva 2013

This winery goes by both CVNE and Cune, Cune being a typo that stuck. The name is pronounced coo-nay and it's actually an acronym that stands for Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España. It was founded in 1879 in Haro, Rioja and has been a leader in progressive winemaking and modernization since its inception.

This whole month is dedicated to the wines of Rioja, and three of them are from CVNE's main label. I've already reviewed their 2014 Crianza, now I'm on their 2013 Reserva, and then I'll have their 2011 Gran Reserva. Because I will be reviewing so many wines this month, I'm going to keep the reviews short and sweet.

The 2013 Reserva is 85% Tempranillo, with the remaining 15% being made of Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazuelo. All of the grapes come from the Rioja Alto region of Rioja. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel, and then both malolactic fermentation and 18 months of aging occurs in French and American oak barrels. It has a 13.5% ABV.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Wine Review: CVNE Rioja Crianza 2014

December is A Very Rioja Christmas on TheWineStalker.net!

CVNE Rioja Crianza 2014

This winery goes by both CVNE and Cune, Cune being a typo that stuck. The name is pronounced coo-nay and it's actually an acronym that stands for Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España. It was founded in 1879 in Haro, Rioja and has been a leader in progressive winemaking and modernization since its inception.

This whole month is dedicated to the wines of Rioja, and three of them are from CVNE's main label. This here is their 2014 Crianza, then I'll do their 2013 Reserva, and then their 2011 Gran Reserva. Because I will be reviewing so many wines this month, I'm going to keep the reviews short and sweet.

The 2014 Crianza is 85% Tempranillo, and 15% Garnacha and Mazuelo, all from the Rioja Alta region of Rioja. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks, went through malolactic fermentation in vats, and then saw a year of barrel aging in American oak. It has an ABV of 13.5%.

Friday, December 1, 2017

December Wine Pick: Campo Viejo Rioja Tempranillo 2015

December is A Very Rioja Christmas on TheWineStalker.net!

Campo Viejo Rioja Tempranillo 2015

That's right! A whole month of Rioja red wines! And because I've got so many to get to, all of them will (probably) be short and sweet. So you won't have to deal with me babbling on or going off topic too much. Deal? Deal.

So let's start it off right with my Wine Pick of the Month! I've got an affordable, consistently good quality for the price Tempranillo right here for ya that will not let you down. Campo Viejo was founded in 1964 by Pernod Ricard Bodegas, and has become a staple brand of Rioja.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Distill Wars Episode VI: Triple Sec Triple Threat! Stock Gran Gala vs Cointreau vs Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge

Stock Gran Gala, Cointreau, Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
I was reminded that it's been awhile since I did a Distill Wars post when Episode V: Beefeater vs. Tanqueray started trending a few weeks ago for some reason. Yeah, it's been awhile since the last installment... but a whole year and a half? Damn, man! I've been slacking on Distill Wars! Let's fix that right now!

I have purchased three nips of orange liqueur, AKA "triple sec". Stock Gran Gala, Cointreau, and Grand Marnier. Let's do the weigh-in before we get them in the ring to duke it out.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Wine Review: Karmei Yosef Winery Bravdo Merlot 2012


The Shoseyov's have been in the viticulture business for 130 years. Even with Israel's insanely long history with wine, that's quite a family legacy. In 1999, Oded Shoseyov teamed up with his former professor Ben Ami Barbado to create a winery right smack dab in the middle of one of the Shoseyov's family vineyards. It's located right next to the community settlement of Karmei Yosef. The settlement wasn't established until 1984 but translates to "Yosef's Vineyards". And thus, naturally, Kermei Yosef Winery is the winery's name.

Samson is a region in the central coastal plain of Israel, to the west of the Judean Hills. There's a Mediterranean climate with various soil types within its small borders. Kermei Yosef is on limestone soil with lots of stones mixed in. This kosher Merlot is not filtered, it saw twelve months in French and American oak, and has an ABV of 13.9%.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wine Review: Mercer Malbec 2015

Mercer Malbec 2015

I'm reviewing three wines by Mercer this month. I love this winery, guys, because they make good wine in the most comfortable of price ranges for the average fine wine consumer. They're a relief to see on a wine list full of Mirassou's and Dark Horses (aka fermented Pixy Stix), because you know they're going to be solid. I also love Mercer because I love Horse Heaven Hills. And because I love Washington State.  I started off with their 2015 Sharp Sisters Red Blend, now I'm moving on to their 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, and then I'm concluding it all with their 2015 Malbec.

The Mercer family came to the United States in 1747, and they made it to Washington in 1886 when Willis Mercer decided to hang his hat in Prosser. Here they were mainly sheep herders, and for almost two hundred years they used Willis' land for sheep and other forms of farming before wine got involved. It wasn't until 1972 that they decided to try some viticulture. Bob and Linda Mercer started growing grapes on their "Block 1" lot, the very first vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills. The Horse Heaven Hills AVA is now a rather large region within the Columbia Valley of Washington, and it makes some of the best new-world Merlot I've ever had.

The 2015 Malbec is 78% Malbec and 22% Cabernet Sauvignon. Both from their estate Spice Cabinet Vineyard, which is on a southeast slope, where the vines can take in the morning sun and avoid the intensity of the afternoon sun. After the grapes were sorted both on the vineyard and at the winery, they skipped the crushing process and were put in a big oak tank to ferment while being punched down twice a daily. Then the wine is racked to new and old French oak barrels to go through fermentation, and then aged in barrel for eighteen months before blending and bottling. It has an ABV of 14.8%.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Wine Review: Mercer Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Mercer Sauvignon Blanc 2016

I'm reviewing three wines by Mercer this month. I love this winery, guys, because they make good wine in the most comfortable of price ranges for the average fine wine consumer. They're a relief to see on a wine list full of Mirassou's and Dark Horses (aka fermented Pixy Stix), because you know they're going to be solid. I also love Mercer because I love Horse Heaven Hills. And because I love Washington State. I started off with their 2015 Sharp Sisters Red Blend, now I'm moving on to their 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, and then I'm concluding it all with their 2015 Malbec.

The Mercer family came to the United States in 1747, and they made it to Washington in 1886 when Willis Mercer decided to hang his hat in Prosser. Here they were mainly sheep herders, and for almost two hundred years they used Willis' land for sheep and other forms of farming before wine got involved. It wasn't until 1972 that they decided to try some viticulture. Bob and Linda Mercer started growing grapes on their "Block 1" lot, the very first vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills. The Horse Heaven Hills AVA is now a rather large region within the Columbia Valley of Washington, and it makes some of the best new-world Merlot I've ever had.

The 2016 Sauvignon Blanc is 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Mercer's estate Princeton vineyard. It was harvested early in the morning with machinery, gently pressed, and settled for 48 hours nice and cold before being racked of solids. The type of yeast used to initiate fermentation is called Zymaflore. These guys bring out the characters of grapefruit, passion fruit, and lychee even more than they would be with other yeast. The wine is all fermented in stainless steel, sees no malolactic fermentation, and has a 12.5% ABV.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wine Review: Mercer Sharp Sisters Red Blend 2015

Mercer Sharp Sisters Red Blend 2015

I'm reviewing three wines by Mercer this month. I love this winery, guys, because they make good wine in the most comfortable of price ranges for the average fine wine consumer. They're a relief to see on a wine list full of Mirassou's and Dark Horses (aka fermented Pixy Stix), because you know they're going to be solid. I also love Mercer because I love Horse Heaven Hills. And because I love Washington State. I'm starting off with their 2015 Sharp Sisters Red Blend, then going to their 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, and topping it off with their 2015 Malbec.

The Mercer family came to the United States in 1747, and they made it to Washington in 1886 when Willis Mercer decided to hang his hat in Prosser. Here they were mainly sheep herders, and for almost two hundred years they used Willis' land for sheep and other forms of farming before wine got involved. It wasn't until 1972 that they decided to try some viticulture. Bob and Linda Mercer started growing grapes on their "Block 1" lot, the very first vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills. The Horse Heaven Hills AVA is now a rather large region within the Columbia Valley of Washington, and it makes some of the best new-world Merlot I've ever had.

The 2015 Sharp Sisters Red Blend is 29% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Syrah, 18% Merlot, 14% Petit Verdot, 10% Grenache, and 2% Carignan, all from estate vineyards. The Merlot is from Dead Canyon Vineyard, the Cabernet Sauvignon is from Eagle & Plow Vineyard, and the Petit Verdot is from Milt's Vineyard. Then the Grenache, Syrah and Carignan are all from Spice Cabinet Vineyard. Each lot was aged for 18 months in French and American oak barrels separately, and blended before being bottled. It has a final ABV of 14.8%.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Heroes of Wine: André Tchelistcheff (1901-1994)

Heroes of Wine: André Tchelistcheff

They called him "the Maestro". By definition this means "a distinguished musician, especially a conductor of classical music" or "a great or distinguished figure in any sphere". He was great. He was distinguished. He conducted beautiful music in the form of wine. Earlier in his career they called him "the doctor" because of his scientific approach to winemaking and his uncanny ability to cure wine with defects. And then there was that white lab coat he loved to wear.

He was also known as the "the dean of American winemaking" because he really was the head of the university. He was the educator. The absolute most important thing about this man and his legacy was not only his ability to be a highly effective and inspiring mentor, but also his willingness and love of doing so. Combine that with all of his knowledge and talents and you have the most influential winemaker of modern history: André Tchelistcheff (pronounced CHEL-uh-cheff)

André was born in Russia, trained in France, lifted California to greatness, and took off Washington State's training wheels. He was a chain smoker. He was a ladies man. He was... tiny. There are several different accounts on his height; anywhere from 4'11" to 5'3". Regardless, this giant of a man was even shorter than me (and I'm pretty short). But he commanded a room. And his stature was always at attention, or "ramrod straight" as Randal Caparoso put it in "Napa Valley - A legacy of greatness".

Robert Mondavi said that "He is a fascinating man, brilliant, stimulating, creative - a catalyst for the world of wine", while Mike Grgich said that "He had a Slavic heart, which is very soft". Robert and Mike are just two of the many legends that André mentored. And to think that almost didn't happen. André should have died in battle as a young man, and we're all very lucky that he didn't.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wine Review: Moraga Estate Red Wine 2013

Moraga Estate Red Wine 2013

To learn about this winery out of Bel Air in Los Angeles, California, check out my review from Sunday for their 2015 White Wine.

Their 2013 Red Wine is a Bordeaux-style blend made from primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as a secondary, with splashes of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It saw eight to ten months in 100% new French oak and two years of bottle aging.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Wine Review: Moraga Estate White Wine 2015

Moraga Estate White Wine 2015

Moraga Estate is located in the middle of Los Angeles. It's in Bel Air to be exact. And don't worry, I'll spare you the eye roll and not make the obvious joke about that 90's sitcom. The land that would become Moraga Estate was a horse ranch when it was purchased by Ruth and Tom Jones (the CEO of Northrop Grumman and not the singer) in 1959. After retirement, they decided to use its hilly terrain to plant vines and make wine. Moraga Estate and was founded in 1978 when their first vines were planted. The first vintage wouldn't be until eleven years later, 1989. 

It was bought by Rupert Murdoch in 2013. I'm a bleeding heart liberal, a science embracer, and a godless heathen, so you can see that myself and Rupert have almost no common ground on anything. Except for wine, apparently. And isn't that a great thing about it? I mean, I really don't like anything this guy stands for at all. But we could sit down with a bottle of wine, talk about our love for the beverage, and probably have a wonderful time.

I'm reviewing two wines by Moraga. This is their 2015 White Wine, and then I'll review their 2013 Red Wine.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

November Wine Pick: Cooper & Thief Red Wine Blend 2014

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

Cooper & Thief Red Wine Blend 2014

I’m not one that has really enjoyed the “let’s age everything in Bourbon barrels” trend that’s going on. Especially when it comes to wine. So I was shocked when I tried Cooper & Thief’s Red Wine Blend and absolutely loved it. This is a blend of 38% Merlot, 37% Syrah, 11% Zinfandel, 7% Petite Sirah, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% miscellaneous blenders. It spent three months aging in Bourbon barrels, soaking up the flavors and gaining additional alcohol.

Even without the Bourbon barrel aging, the quality of this blend would still put it in the $20’s. It’s also bold enough to stand up to Bourbon barrels for that long. A lot of the bourbon barrel aged wines are just okay in quality and are only in the barrel for two or three weeks, pinning their appeal on the “bourbon barrel aged” labeling, so they’re usually a disappointment. Not this baby.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Wine Review: Matchbook The Arsonist 2015 Chardonnay

Matchbook The Arsonist 2015 Chardonnay

For information on Matchbook, you can read all about their great story in my article "A Brief History of Matchbook Wine Company".

The Arsonist is a subset of Matchbook Wine Company's Matchbook label. It's kinda like their higher tier of wines, and there's only two right now: Chardonnay and Red Blend. The labels feature Prometheus, the Titan from Greek mythology that stole fire from Zeus and gave it to us mortals. 

Back in 2015 I reviewed the 2012 Arsonist Red Blend and the 2013 Arsonist Chardonnay, and now in 2017 I'm reviewing the 2014 Arsonist Red Blend and the 2015 Arsonist Chardonnay.

The 2015 Chardonnay is 100% estate grown Chardonnay from Dunnigan Hills, California. It sees 16 months of barrel aging on the lees with frequent stirring. 7,193 cases were produced and it has a 14.2% ABV.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Wine Review: Matchbook The Arsonist 2014 Red Blend


For information on Matchbook, you can read all about their great story in my article "A Brief History of Matchbook Wine Company".

The Arsonist is a subset of Matchbook Wine Company's Matchbook label. It's kinda like their higher tier of wines, and there's only two right now: Chardonnay and Red Blend. The labels feature Prometheus, the Titan from Greek mythology that stole fire from Zeus and gave it to us mortals. 

Back in 2015 I reviewed the 2012 Arsonist Red Blend and the 2013 Arsonist Chardonnay, and now in 2017 I'm reviewing the 2014 Arsonist Red Blend and the 2015 Arsonist Chardonnay.

The 2014 Red Blend is 52% Petit Verdot, 25% Malbec, and 23% Cabernet Sauvignon out of Dunnigan Hills, California. It was aged for 26 months in European and American oak. 7,100 cases were produced and it has a final ABV of 14.3%.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Jack & Ice Wine


And here we see the majestic ice wine harvester in his natural environment. Such beauty and elegance.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Dueling Montepulcianos: Vino Nobile vs d'Abruzzo

The Dueling Montepulcianos: Vino Nobile vs d'Abruzzo

One thing that often follows the common "I was at a restaurant last night..." beginning of a sentence from a wine consumer to a wine professional is its completion with "and I had a Montepulciano." This is one of those I love my job moments because now I get to completely geek out with a customer so I can help them. Not only do I need to dig for clues to figure out what kind of Montepulciano they had and prevent them from purchasing the wrong kind, but more importantly I get to educate the public! "Come with me, citizen," I think to myself, "Step into my domain and we shall explore the world of Montepulciano!"  

Essentially there are two different Montepulcianos. There's wine from a Montepulciano region and then there's wine made from the Montepulciano grape varietal. Both are red. Have you seen Vino Nobile di Montepulciano or its little brother Rosso di Montepulicano? And have you seen Montepulciano d'Abruzzo? These two Montepulcianos share the love of confusing us Americans with fancy Italian words but they're drastically different. This is because at its very core Italy doesn't like to do anything if it's not complicated. But let's start with the basics:

So Vino Nobile di Montepulciano or Rosso di Montepulciano are mostly made from Sangiovese, which is the grape used in Chianti, from the village named Montepulciano in Tuscany. Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2010 was my wine pick of the month in September of 2016.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is mostly made from the grape called Montepulciano in the more southern region of Abruzzi. Because the Montepulciano referred to here is a grape variety, this is the Montepulciano you'll see come from other places in Italy (without the d'Abruzzo part) and even across the world. Back in April of this year I reviewed THP Montepulciano 2014 by Llano Estacado out of Texas! That's right; TEXAS!

Now, that's a very simple explanation. Easy enough, right? But you know I'm not going to just leave it like that for this blog. Just like Italy, I don't like to do anything if it's not complicated. Alright, tell ya what, I'll go easy on this article and won't get too technical, okay? I need to ease my way back in to writing these monthly articles. Now let's go even further in to the dueling Montepulcianos. And let's drink them, too.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wine Review: Oyster Bay Hawkes Bay Merlot 2014

Oyster Bay Merlot 2014

Oyster Bay is swooping in for a quickie on Thirsty Thursday! This spot was reserved for a really cool wine from a less traditional place, but it was unfortunately corked. I cried, as I always do with faulty bottles, and I went to the wine fridge to pick out an emergency bottle not already scheduled on my calendar. So here it is!

As you probably know, Oyster Bay's Sauvignon Blanc is a sales powerhouse and the favorite wine of little old ladies everywhere. But that's not all they make. I've always really liked their Merlot, and my grubby little hands received the 2014 as a gift about a month or so ago.

You may have noticed that this wine is from New Zealand's Hawkes Bay instead of Marlborough where their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir is from. Both are on the east coast of New Zealand but Hawkes Bay is on the North Island while Marlborough is on the South Island. The first vines were planted in Hawkes Bay in 1851 by missionaries, so they've been doing this for awhile. It's mostly a red wine region and you'll find some really awesome Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah coming out of there.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Wine Review: Seven Hills Walla Walla Valley Red Wine 2014

Seven Hills Walla Walla Valley Red Wine 2014

This blend out of the Walla Walla Valley in Washington State is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, and 5% Petit Verdot. It spent 23 months in French, American and European oak barrels (35% of which were new), and has an ABV of 14.7%. But you know what? This wine came with a really nice letter from Casey McClellan, the winemaker, so I'm going to post it here for you to learn more about this wine and the winery in his own words.

Dear Joey Casco,

My family first arrived in Eastern Washington in the 1880's, putting down roots while farming wheat in this fertile region. One hundred years later, my father and I worked side-by-side on the Walla Walla valley's first significant planting of Bordeaux varietals in what became the original blocks of Seven Hills Vineyard. My wife, Vicky, and I founded Seven Hills Winery in 1988, and I've been refining my craft as a winemaker over the past three decades.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Conglomerate Acquisition


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Pennywise & Apothic


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Wine Review: Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir 2016

Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir 2016

Left Coast Cellars is back on the blog! It was just this past March that I reviewed their 2014 Cali's Cuvee Pinot Noir and their 2015 The Orchard Pinot Gris. Well, a new vintage of that Pinot Gris is out so a few days ago I reviewed their 2016 The Orchard Pinot Gris, and today I'm reviewing their their 2016 White Pinot Noir!

Left Coast Cellars of Willamette Valley, Oregon was founded in 2003. With 350 acres of land and 130 acres of vineyards, they use sustainable viticulture to produce only estate-grown wine. They're LIVE Certified Sustainable, Salmon Safe Certified, and are one of fourteen wineries to complete the Oregon Environmental Council's Carbon Reduction Challenge. All of the power for the guest cottages, the front gate, and the vineyard irrigation is run by solar power, and use a big chunk of their land for their Oak Savanna Restoration Project. They are very environmentally conscious.

By not allowing skin contact and treating Pinot Noir like a white grape, you can make some very cool white wine. Hell, it's one of the grapes used in Champagne and other sparkling wines. Non-sparkling White Pinot Noir's are also freakin' awesome! Willamette Valley is freakin' awesome! I'm really looking forward to this one.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Wine Review: Left Coast Cellars The Orchard Pinot Gris 2016

Left Coast Cellars The Orchard Pinot Gris 2016

Left Coast Cellars is back on the blog! It was just this past March that I reviewed their 2014 Cali's Cuvee Pinot Noir and their 2015 The Orchard Pinot Gris. Well, a new vintage of that Pinot Gris is out so now I'll be reviewing their 2016 The Orchard Pinot Gris, and also in a few days their 2016 White Pinot Noir!

Left Coast Cellars of Willamette Valley, Oregon was founded in 2003. With 350 acres of land and 130 acres of vineyards, they use sustainable viticulture to produce only estate-grown wine. They're LIVE Certified Sustainable, Salmon Safe Certified, and are one of fourteen wineries to complete the Oregon Environmental Council's Carbon Reduction Challenge. All of the power for the guest cottages, the front gate, and the vineyard irrigation is run by solar power, and use a big chunk of their land for their Oak Savanna Restoration Project. They are very environmentally conscious.

The vineyard block that this Pinot Gris is from is called The Orchards because of the history of its land being planted with apple, pear and cherry orchards. It spans 7.5 acres and since 2005 it's been home to Pinot Gris Clones 146 and 152. The wine that is produced here is fermented 100% in stainless steel. It has an ABV of 13.7%.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

My thoughts on Las Vegas


I refrained from posting on my Wine Stalker social media accounts since the Las Vegas massacre until tonight. I didn’t want to ignore that this happened but I also needed time to let the rage and sadness level out so when I did speak about it, it wouldn’t be a nonsensical rant.

You know I’m very liberal so you can imagine my feelings on this and where I stand on the politics of it. You’re probably aware that I’m not religious so you know that “sending thoughts and prayers” doesn’t cut it for me.

But we really do need these people in our thoughts. We need to honor the victims and give attention to who they were, feel the heartbreak that their families are going through, and fully understand the horror that the survivors experienced as if we were there. We need to put ourselves in their place with people dying all around us on a fun night out at a music festival.

And then we need to do something about it. Demand that some kind of action is taken. Because “sending thoughts and prayers” does nothing to prevent the next one.

Much love to you all, my fellow homo sapiens.

Joey

Sunday, October 1, 2017

October Wine Pick: Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

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


Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014


Legend has it that on one fateful day in 1965, two brothers fought their disagreements out at a family gathering. Yelling, punching, and even breaking furniture. The two brothers were Peter Mondavi and Robert Mondavi. This would be Robert’s exit from Charles Krug, the winery their father bought in 1943.

Both brothers would become icons in the California wine industry, but Robert was an expert marketer and optimistic visionary. Without his abilities, exuberance, belief in the land, and willingness to help and mentor other winemakers, Napa would not be what it is today. Robert died in 2008, but his legacy will live on for centuries.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Wine Review: Hacienda López de Haro Rioja Blanco 2016

Hacienda López de Haro Rioja Blanco 2016

How about a quickie for this lovely Thirsty Thursday? From Bodega Classica is Hacienda Lopez de Haro, producing seven different classic style Rioja wines. Rioja isn't a type of wine; it's a region in Spain. So they don't just make red Riojas, which many consumers are most familiar with, but they also do rosé (rosato) and white (blanco). 

Just like the reds are usually mostly Tempranillo but could also be other Spanish grapes allowed by the region (such as Garnacha), the same goes for the whites with Viura. This varietal makes 90% of the white wine in Rioja. And Viura is actually the local name for the varietal mostly known as Macabeo. Macabeo is planted all over northern Spain and is even one of the grapes used in Cava, Spain's famous sparkling wine, along with its pals Parellada and Xarel-lo.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Wine Review: Maetierra Atlantis Albariño 2016

Maetierra Atlantis Albariño 2016

Maetierra only produces white wines and they have a quick but interesting story. It actually began as an experiment by the School of Oenology of La Rioja in 2001, in 2002 got its own winery in Logroño, and in 2005 got a bodega in Castillo de Maetierra.

Their Atlantis label represents the Spanish regions along the coast of the Atlantic. For example, Rías Baixas (Reeyas Bishus), where this wine is from. North of Portugal and known for its Albariño, Rías Baixas was once a Celtic outpost and, from what I hear, has more of a Celtic culture and architecture than Spanish. Their cuisine is seafood heavy so naturally their famous Albariño pairs well with seafood. As a wine guy on (the also seafood heavy) Cape Cod, Rías Baixas Albariño is a top suggestion from me for somebody looking to pair wine with Cape Cod cuisine.

Yeah, so it's called Atlantis. You didn't think that I'd review a wine called Atlantis and not talk about Aquaman, did you? 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Wine Reviews: Best of Summer 2017

Today is the last day of summer and tomorrow brings the autumn! So here are the top five wines that I reviewed between June 20th and September 21st!

August being the third annual Bulgarian Wine Month (thanks to BulgarianWine.com), Bulgarian wine dominates the list.

#5. Lieb Cellars Reserve Pinot Blanc 2015

Lieb Cellars Reserve Pinot Blanc 2015Region: North Fork, Long Island, New York, USA
Review Release: June 25th, 2017

I'm not getting as much pear on the nose as I did with the 2014, although it's still one of the major aromas. With it there's also tangerine, lemon peel, rose pedals and beach sand. This vintage has a lot more going on with its nose. In the mouth it's medium to full bodied with a slightly oily mouthfeel and a tart acidity. On the palate there's flavors of green apple, pear juice and steel. It has a lengthy finish of green apple and chalk.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $22
Rating: 4.5/5 = Recommended / Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


Ferrari-Carano Napa Valley Carneros Reserve Chardonnay 2012
Region: Carneros, Napa Valley, California, USA
Review Release: September 3rd, 2017

It's a gorgeous golden yellow in color with a tilt towards green. Graham cracker and burnt caramel are all over this mother on the nose. Yeeeeeeessssss. There's also aromas of bruised apple, pineapple, cinnamon and butter. Dude, so far this is exactly what I desire out of a Chard at this price. Exactly.

It's full bodied and just gosh-dang beautiful in the mouth. Perfectly balanced in oak and acidity. There's flavors of bruised apple, cinnamon, yellow pear, pineapple, and bay leaf. It's like a fall cider and it's so good! It finishes with bruised apple, cinnamon and a need to have more. This is some awesome Chardonnay, and for your money it'll wet your noodle. Inside joke. Don't ask.

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $24
Rating: 4.5/5 = Recommended / Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)



Gorchivka Merlot 2014Region: Danube River Plains, Bulgaria
Review Release: August 10th, 2017

The color of the wine is cherry red. The nose has this earthiness and funk that reminds me of Right Bank Bordeaux, but beyond that it's definitely not Bordeaux in style. There's a cooked dark fruit profile for the fruit in the aromas, like stewed plum and blueberry sauce. There's also vanilla extract and cinnamon powder. It essentially smells like fruit pastry. It takes a step back with the sauciness on the palate as it's not as thick as I was expecting. There's a medium body, soft tannin and balanced acidity. There's flavors of juicy black cherries, blueberries and plums, as well as vanilla and cola. On the finish you can taste the alcohol, almost like you just took a sip of vodka, even though it's only 13.5% in ABV.


QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $13
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)



Region: Danubian Plain, Bulgaria
Review Release: August 24th, 2017

This bottle just looks BADASS with a legionnaire in the background of the label. And it's also a blend of my two favorite red varietals! Its 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Franc out of the Danubian Plain, with an ABV of 13.5%. This guy is a blackish ruby red, if that's even a thing. And oooooooooh lordy lordy LORDY what a nose it has! It's one of those noses that makes your eyeballs roll into the back of your head in an olfactory orgasm. Black pepper, spearmint, black cherries, plums, vanilla, black tea, and toasted oak ride strong ethanol vapors up into your nostrils. It's full bodied and lush with a bit of a perky acidity. There's flavors of cranberries, plums, seasoned tomatoes, wet autumn earth and cocoa powder. It finishes silky smooth with flavors of cranberries, plums and earth. Nomnomnomnomnom! This is SPECTACULAR! I'm in love with this wine, and I think you should get on BulgarianWine.com and buy it!

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $16
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)



Version Plaisir divin Mavrud 2013Region: Thracian Valley, Bulgaria
Review Release: August 30th, 2017

This wine received a gold medal at the 2016 Concours Mondial Bruxelles. It has a 14.5% ABV and is from Mavrud's favorite place on the planet: the tiny area of Assenovgrad, north of the Rhodope Mountains in Thracian Valley. The color of the wine is ruby red with vibrant highlights. The head aroma in charge is toasty oak, followed by black cherries, blackberries, black olives and mint. The tasting notes on BulgarianWine.com say there's juniper berries but I'm not getting that. Maybe you will. The midpalate is just lovely. Medium bodied, lush and silky smooth with soft tannin and flavors of black cherries, cranberries, vanilla, and chocolate covered raisins. It finishes super long with all of those flavors and a silky, sensual mouthfeel.

Wow! WOW! This. Is. Outstanding. Here's the link to buy it now because you need to try it for yourself: http://store.bulgarianwine.com/pldima.html


QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $17
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)

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