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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Wine Review: Hazelfern Cellars Pinot Noir 2017

Hazelfern Pinot Noir 2017

The land that has been Hazelfern Cellars since 2014 was once Hazel Fern Farms, circa 1895. Bryan and Laura Laing come from winemaking families who taught them everything they know about winemaking and they've been making wine together since 2006. But they decided to buy vineyard land when a young cousin passed away and made them realize that life is short, so they went all in! The other two wines that they produce are Rosé and Syrah, but the ones I've got are their 2017 Chardonnay and 2017 Pinot Noir.

This is 100% Pommard clone Pinot Noir from the Robinson Family Vineyard in the Chehalem Mountains. It spent 8 days cold soaking, 8 days fermenting, and then went into 100% French oak, 25% of it new, for 12 months. It has a 13.2% ABV.

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate and Wine Pairing

Guest post by Nicholas Rubright of Jordan Winery

The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate and Wine Pairing

When it comes to wine and chocolate, there are several similarities. For example, both are used in Valentine’s Day advertisements, and both are made up of antioxidants making them heart-healthy when consumed in moderation.

But do wine and chocolate pair well together? Of course they do!

The rules to wine pairing are tricky, and when you’re trying to pair wine with chocolate, this is no exception.

I’ve put together this guide to help you match your wines with the right chocolate.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Wine Review: Hazelfern Cellars Chardonnay 2017

Hazelfern Chardonnay 2017

The land that has been Hazelfern Cellars since 2014 was once Hazel Fern Farms, circa 1895. Bryan and Laura Laing come from winemaking families who taught them everything they know about winemaking and they've been making wine together since 2006. But they decided to buy vineyard land when a young cousin passed away and made them realize that life is short, so they went all in! The other two wines that they produce are Rosé and Syrah, but the ones I've got are their 2017 Chardonnay and 2017 Pinot Noir.

This is 100% Chardonnay from two different vineyard sites using the clones of Dijon 76, 95, and 96. It went through a 35 day fermentation, six months attaining full malolactic fermentation, and 11 months in 100% French oak of which 17% was new. The final ABV is 13%.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Wine Quickie: Wente Sandstone Merlot 2015

I had the pleasure to have lunch with Karl Wente in Hyannis back in 2012, and enjoyed a really fascinating conversation about sustainability. He feels doing just a few things things that disqualify you from being fully organic is worth it because it frees you from releasing carbon emissions with diesel tractors. He's a very cool and intelligent guy and it was a good time. Wente's Sandstone Merlot is medium bodied with soft tannin and nose/palate descriptors of blackberries, blueberries, vanilla, and cola. The bright acidity on the finish brings tart black cherries that transition into soft plums and Smarties candy. It's solid, it's delicious, and a shining example of $15 California Merlot.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Cocktail Recipe: Tío Pepe Fino Sherry Dirty Martini

Tío Pepe Fino Sherry Martini

Tío Pepe Fino Sherry is 100% Palomino that sees 4 to 5 years in American oak casks after going through the traditional Solera system. It's a pretty darn good Sherry on its own for the $20 it'll cost you, with that lovely flor yeastiness and nuttiness, but today we're making a cocktail out of this bad boy. Instead of using Vermouth to make a martini, we're using Tío Pepe.

Cocktail Shaker
2 ounces of gin (I used New Amsterdam)
2 ounces of Tío Pepe Fino Sherry
Green olives

1) Drop some ice into your cocktail shaker
2) Pour 2 ounces of Tío Pepe Fino and 2 ounces of gin into the shaker
3) Shake the crap out of it
4) Strain into a glass
5) Plop an olive or three or six and splash some olive juice in there
6) Drink up!

The botanicals of the gin play along really well with the classic flavors of Fino Sherry, but I really do believe that making this martini a dirty one is the key to making it all work. Honestly it's not for everybody and I wouldn't recommend it for people who don't like Sherry or gin or olives (how dare you in all cases), but I'm really enjoying it and making myself another one (or two)! Cheers!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Wine Review: Ashkar Shafaya 2014

This is the last of three wines that I'm reviewing from western Galilee, Israel, in this quick review run for . We started off with the 2016 Julia Samara blend, then did the 2016 Julia Cabernet Sauvignon, and now we're finishing up with the 2014 Askar Shafaya.

From Ahkar's website: Ashkar Winery is a boutique winery located on a pastoral hill in Kfar-Yasif village, where the spectacular view of the ancient olive trees of the Western Galilee region. The winery was founded in 2010 as a continuation of a long tradition, started by the family homeland village "IQRIT" which surrounded with dozens of antique presses used for making wine from grapes growing in the region. Ashkar Winery's wines are produced strictly according to perceptions of “Old World" with a minimum intervention in the process from fermentation and improvement in wooden barrels till the bottling stage. The tradition of winemaking has been passed down within Ashkar family from generation to generation until 1948. This tradition was revived with the establishment of Ashkar winery in 2010.

All I can really find out about this wine is that it's 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Shiraz, and that the grapes were handpicked from selected vineyards planted in the Iqrit Valley. Because this is a brand new item to Terra Sancta, my contact still doesn't have all the winemaking information yet. But that's fine. All you need to know is that this wine will rock your world...

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Wine Quickie: Casa Santos Lima Portugal Red Blend 2017

So I brought this wine home to see if we should carry it at work. It's a red blend of unnamed native Portuguese grapes and it'll run you about $8. There's lots of jammy plums and black cherries all over the nose and palate, along with fine black table pepper, vanilla, and olives. It's medium bodied with a nicely rich mouthfeel, soft tannins, and a bright acidity. It's not bad for the price, although you can do better, and the label would be sure to attract attention.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Best of Spring 2019!

It's officially summer so here are the Top 5 wines that I reviewed this spring!

I reviewed A LOT of wines in the spring, but I was still surprised to see that I handed out EXACTLY five 5/5's. That’s pretty high. And three of them were from one producer! Altaneve dominates the list!

#5. AIX Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence Rosé 2018

Region: Provence, France
Review Release: June 1st, 2019 (Wine Pick of the Month)

The color of the wine is just a gorgeous pomelo pink. The floral character on the nose is right up front along with vanilla, and then you get aromas of strawberries, watermelon, citrus, and black pepper. For a Rosé it's got quite the intriguing nose. On the palate it's medium bodied with a borderline rich mouthfeel, perky acidity, and grainy tannin. Watermelon is the head flavor in charge with strawberries, citrus, and black pepper riding along. But citrus takes the wheel on the finish with black pepper looking to spice things up.


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

#4. Altaneve (Sparkling) Rosé

Region: Veneto, Italy
Review Release: March 21st, 2019

It's a very light salmon color. I absolutely love the nose. There's some breadiness over aromas of rose petals and Fruity Pebbles (don't even try to act like that's a bad thing). On the palate it's got a crisp and clean acidity but the wine still has a creamy mouthfeel. There's flavors of strawberry yogurt and peaches, and an uplift into green apples on the finish. Outstanding.


Price: $33
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)

Region: Galilee, Israel
Review Release: June 16th, 2019

The color of the wine is a deep purple. On the nose, oh my goodness, the chocolate! THE CHOCOLATE! There's also plums, raisins, rose petals, black table pepper, and pencil shavings. This wine has an fantastic nose. In fact, SPOILER ALERT, it has a fantastic everything! It's medium bodied with a smooth mouthfeel, soft tannin, and perfectly balanced acidity. There's flavors of plums, black cherries, root beer, chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. Then it finishes with plums and chocolate and some heat from the alcohol.

For $24 this is absolutely killer. KILLER. Mark it up! Perfect score!


Price: $24
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)

Region: Veneto, Italy
Review Release: March 24th, 2019

The color of the wine is a very pale yellow. The nose starts off as very floral, and beyond that there's honey and keylime pie. The mouthfeel is wonderfully soft and creamy. There's a little bit of sweetness but it still has a refreshing briskness to it. On the midpalate there's flavors of lime and apple, and on the finish it's pears and ginger and a nice coating of that touch of sweetness.

Oh man. This may be the best Prosecco above $25 that I've ever had. It's fantastic!

Price: $30
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)

#1. Altaneve "Z" Prosecco Superiore

Region: Veneto, Italy
Review Release: March 28th, 2019

And hot damn this is some good bubbly! It's pale yellow in color with tiny bubbles. When I first opened it there was one stream of bubbles that went up the side to the top and it was pretty cool. There's aromas of freshly cut pears, white peaches, and white flowers. On the palate it's creamy and fluffy with just the right amount of acidity and tingle. The mouthfeel is perfect. Then for flavors you've got pears and lime peel and a touch of green herbs. That may all sound really simple but when combined all together it's just phenomenal.

Godamnit. You know what? I never thought that I would say that you should drop almost $50 on a Prosecco. Never in a thousand years. That's Champagne territory. Yet here I am. The quality is worth even more than what you pay for.


Price: $46
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Wine Review: Julia Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

This is the second of three wines that I'm reviewing from western Galilee, Israel, in this quick review run for Terra Sancta. We started off with the 2016 Julia Samara blend, now we're on to the 2016 Julia Cabernet Sauvignon, and then we'll finish with the 2014 Askar Shafaya.

The Julia winery was founded in 2012 by the Arraf family in a western Galilee village called Mii’lya, which is on the edge of Wadi El Qurain national park and the Montfort Castle. The vineyards are on Terra Rossa soil and are hand harvested by family and friends only. Their goal is to develop and increase the awareness of wine making as a traditional industry in the Galilee region.

This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from vines planted 8 years ago. It saw 12 months aging in American and French oak barrels.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Video Unboxing: Forbidden Geek DC Comics Mystery Box #2

How many more times can I say “I love me some”?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019 Saké Box #2

First off, I need to thank for inspiring me take this adventure into the world of Saké. It has been a boatload of fun and the category in my alcohol education that has felt the least like work. A lot of my reading/learning time and adult beverage excitement these days is owed to you.

Tippsy is basically a wine club for Saké. You can shop around on their site and buy the Saké that you want or you can subscribe to the Saké Box, which is delivered to your door every month with three different Saké. And you, my fellow Wine Stalkers, can use promocode SAKECLUB to get $10 off your first order. So if you like your Saké then go check it out!

To learn more about the history of Saké, read my latest article called Just Brew It, Part One: A brief history of Sake. After I've done more studying on the category there will be a Part 2: Making Saké but I'm not there just yet.

I got my first Tippsy box back in April and you can read my review here, and you should because they were awesome and I really enjoyed the service. But now it's time for round two and I can't wait to get started!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Beer Quickie: Night Shift "Santilli" American India Pale Ale

Night Shift is out of Everett, Massachusetts, and one of my favorite local breweries. The Santilli is an American style IPA, their flagship beer, and it won the Bronze Medal in the 2016 World Beer Cup for its category. Visually the beer is gold with a little bit of haziness and nose/palate descriptors of pineapple, lime, orange peel, and pine. I'm not a big fan of IPAs that try to jack the bitterness up without balance (I'm more of a stout guy), and although this one does have a bite, it's not overpowering. I love it.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Wine Review: Julia Samara 2016

This is the first of three wines that I'll be reviewing from western Galilee, Israel, in this quick review run for Terra Sancta. We're starting off with the 2016 Julia Samara blend, then moving on to the 2016 Julia Cabernet Sauvignon, and finishing with the 2014 Askar Shafaya

The Julia winery was founded in 2012 by the Arraf family in a western Galilee village called Mii’lya, which is on the edge of Wadi El Qurain national park and the Montfort Castle. The vineyards are on Terra Rossa soil and are hand harvested by family and friends only. Their goal is to develop and increase the awareness of wine making as a traditional industry in the Galilee region.

Named after the area where the vines for this single-vineyard selection are grown, "Samara" is 63% Syrah, 32% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. It's from a hilly stone and rock covered slope, surrounded by olive and oak groves, on land that has been growing grape vines for wine since the early days of vinification. The wine was aged in French and American oak barrels for 12 months.

There's something about Israeli wine that gets me excited. Maybe it's the thousands of years of winemaking history? So let's stop wasting time and jump right in!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Cocktail Quickie: Round Barn Crantini and Red Sangria cans

Round Barn is a winery, distillery, and brewery in Southern Michigan. After looking at their products, that whiskey and Kolsch of theirs look pretty damn delicious! But right here I have their two most popular items: their canned Crantini and Red Sangria. And guess what? They're awesome! The Red Sangria is tart and extra cripsy and refreshing. It's a Sangria made with red wine but there's a lot of peach and lemon on there with a little bit of cranberry, so for flavor it's only really "Red" from its base wine and its color. This would be great for grilling burgers! The Crantini is my favorite of the two. It's white wine with cranberry and lemon concentrates. It has a little bit of a breadiness with juicy cranberries and lemon candy. YUM YUM! It definitely calls for a big slice of pizza! Good stuff!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Wine Review: Chateau Lamothe Castéra Cuvée "Margaux" Bordeaux 2016

Chateau Lamothe Castera, located in the village of Roquebrune in the Entre-Deux-Mers area region of Bestides, 50 miles from Bordeaux, has been producing wine since the 15th century. Nowadays, Claire and Renaud Jean run this 190 acres winery in the Bordeaux and Bordeaux Superieur AOP. The Vineyards, composed of 30 year old vines of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are sustainably farmed.

This is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, the vines are planted 300 feet above sea level, and  the wine spent 12 months aging in stainless steel tanks. Notice the quotes with "Margaux" because this is technically a Bordeaux AOP and not designated as a Margaux, although the juice is presumably from Margaux but for some reason it doesn't meet the requirements to carry the Margaux designation. Thus... it's only $17.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Wine Bloggers Off-Topic #2: Favorite Superheroes

It's the second Wine Bloggers Off-Topic, and this time it's about everybody's favorite superhero!

Not as many people were able to participate this month as last month, but I did recruit a comic blogger just for this one entry. Jim Werner runs the Weird Science DC Comics podcast and website, which I also write reviews for here and there.

Let's get nerdy!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Wine Review: Domaine de Châteaumar Cuvée Vincent Sélection Côtes-du-Rhone 2017

Châteaumar had been around since the 11th century and has been passed down for generations within the family, now with Jen-Feix and Frederic Souret managing he vineyards today. Their estate is located in the heart of Côtes-du-Rhone, just outside or Orange, where they have 25 acres on stony clay-limestone soil. They also own 12 acres in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

While this Côtes-du-Rhone is from southern Rhone, which is normally mostly Grenache with Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault blended in there, while it's northern Rhone that's all about the Syrah, this guy breaks the mold and is made from 100% Syrah. The vines are 50 years old or older on parcels that border Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the vineyards are sustainably farmed, and the wine spends 8 to 10 months aging in concrete tanks.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Saké Quickie: Momokawa Murai Family Nigori Genshu

Dude! Duuuuuude! This stuff is PHENOMENAL! Nigori means "cloudy" so it's less aggressively filtered as most Saké, leaving residual rice particles to give it a milky white color. Genshu means "undiluted" so it's not watered down to decrease alcohol percentage, thus it has an ABV of 19.8%. Masshigura rice was milled to 75% to make this Saké and man oh man, is this stuff killer. It's got a full body and creamy mouthfeel with descriptors of melon, pineapple, and coconut. The high volume ethanol produces a strong and powerful Saké that elevates its aromas up to your olfactory that much more effectively and makes it full of character and oomph. This is not about subtlety at all. For $23 a .750 ml bottle, this is a new favorite of mine.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Recipe: Sweet Tea and Lemon Pepper Pork Chops

This has been a favorite of Casa Casco for a few years now, and it's super easy to make!


Sweet Tea and Lemon Pepper Pork ChopsSalt
Lemon Pepper
Thyme, preferably lemon thyme
Sweet Tea
Pork Chops
Cholula Hot Sauce (optional)


1) Use a fork to poke holes in the pork to let the sweet tea really get into the meat
2) Season with salt and pepper
3) Marinate in sweet tea for a few hours

Sweet Tea and Lemon Pepper Pork Chops4) After taking the meat out of the marinade, rub the chops with a liberal amount of  lemon pepper
5) Sprinkle on that thyme

6) Cook those suckers on the grill! This time I cooked them on our T-fal electrical grill because I was unable to keep going in and outside, and they were cooked to perfection.


These chops are extra good when you cut yourself off a piece and drop a little Cholula on there, however the hot sauce is not needed.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Wine Review: Domaine des Gerbeaux Mâcon-Villages 2018

Domaine des Gerbeaux Macon-Villages 2018

Owned and run by Béatrice and Jean-Michel Drouin since 1979, Domaine des Gerbeaux is located in the village of Solutré-Pouilly. Their families both come from a long line of winemakers and they own a total of fifteen acres of vineyards over different regions in the Mâconnais; from St. Véran, to Pouilly, to Solutré. All of their wines are biodynamic but aren't biodynamic certified.

This is 100% estate farmed Chardonnay from 30 year old vines 1400 above sea level, was completely unoaked, spent six months aging in stainless steel, and saw full malolactic fermentation.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Wine Quickie: LOVE by Léoube Rosé 2018 and The Bridesmaid's Guide to Rosé

If you like Provence rosé you should enjoy this one because it's everything you want out of the category. Made from 50% Grenache and 50% Cinsault, it's light and crisp and refreshing with strawberries, white peaches, and citrus with a bright and lively acidity that begs for snacks. Excellent for summertime day drinking on the patio.

Well, the wedding season is coming up and Rosé season is already here! And even though I'm a dude, I think it's kind of a cool idea to match the wine being served with the dresses worn by the bridesmaids! Check out this idea I received from a Provence promotion:

Peach – Like the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Château Barbebelle Héritage and the ethereal and romantic palette chosen by the actress Kirsten Dunst.

Melon – A dynamic nuance like this LOVE by Léoube Rosé, the same chosen by the Social Media phenomenon Emily Ratajkowski.

Mango – A lively color like the Côtes de Provence La Londe Château les Valentines Le Caprice de Clémentine and the personality of the supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio.

Pomelo  - A vivacious hue like my wine pick of the month Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence Rosé, and Katherine Heigl’s dress in the romantic comedy “27 Dresses”.

Pretty cool idea, huh?

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Wine Review: Louis Latour Les Pierres Dorées Pinot Noir 2017

Lois Latour Les Pierres Dorées Pinot Noir 2017

What can you say about Louis Latour other than they make some damn good wine? You really can't go wrong with their juice on any of their tier levels from introductory to high end. And they've been around for over 220 years! Since 1797 they've been based in Burgundy, France, but they recently decided to expand their operations further down south to...

Beaujolais?!? YUP! They bought up 50 acres of vineyard land in Les Pierres Dorées (the southernmost region in Beaujolas), ripped up the Gamay vines, and planted their specialty... Pinot Noir! They felt the specific altitude and clay-limestone soils would be perfect for the varietal. And what I've got right here is the result of that initiative.

This is 100% Pinot Noir from sustainably farmed vineyards in the villages of Morancé and Theizé, between 918 to 1246 feet above sea level on clay and crinoidal limestone soil. It was fermented in open vats, and spent 10 to 12 months aging in stainless steel tanks and medium toasted French oak by the Louis Latour cooperage. 

Saturday, June 1, 2019

June Wine Pick: AIX Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence Rosé 2018

Here we go! It's finally June! I don't have a long read article planned for this month because I'll be doing a ton of learnin' about Saké. But here's what I have penciled in right now: Wine Bloggers Off-Topic returns for a second installment (email me at if you want to participate) and Tippsy Saké returns to the blog with a very special Facebook promo. There will be full rated reviews on four French wines (this Provence Rosé, a rather Pinot Noir from Beaujolais, a white Burgundy, a CDR, and a Bordeaux), four Israeli wines, and two from Hazelfern Cellars out of Oregon. The quickies that are scheduled right now include another Rosé, Red Barn canned Sangria, and Tio Pepe Sherry. And, of course, things will be added as we move along. It looks like we're in for another great month on!

And because we're finally here in lovely June, my wine pick of the month is the refreshing 2018 Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence Rosé, which is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault. If you want some good "HEY! We made it out of the depressing cold and rainy times!" celebration wine then this is it!

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