A Wine Drinker Rambling about Wine

Category: Wine Novice (page 1 of 2)

Our Saturday Sips: Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

The first week of November wrapped up the official Marching Band season with the final football game honoring the Seniors. Our family met our son at the 50-yard line as his name and future aspirations were read out over the PA system. Prior to this honor, Senior son had to fill out a form stating future plans, college, studies etc. He’s a joker and heavily encouraged by his father so this was a golden opportunity. Here’s what he wrote:


“Going to Colorado School of Mimes to pursue his dream of silently changing the world one motion at a time.”



In the end, I put the ‘mom’ squeeze on him and he put where he hopes to actually go to college to pursue degrees in Jazz and Physics. The traditional and boring answer. Looking back, I should have let him do it. No one ever remembers what’s said but they might have remembered that one. 

For the weekend, I picked one of my favorite producers to commemorate of our ‘Senior Mom and Dad’ titles. After four years of band, I’d say we’ve earned it! Now we only have four more years to go before we’ll be completely done.


“The Everyday Wine for the Well Informed” ~ Decoy

Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2015


I really like this young Cabernet with it’s blackberries, tangy cherry and spice. Very satisfying. Decoy is under the umbrella of Duckhorn Vineyards and Wine Co. and has grown into a well established Sonoma County winery. It’s the affordable cousin among the Duckhorn wine brands with ‘ready upon release’ wines selling for around $20. All of Decoy wines are Sonoma County appellation-designated and thankfully, widely available. 



Band Mom Corsage. It was as big as my head.


“One of The Best-Kept Secrets of France”: Bugey Appellation

I love this time of the year! Our local wine shop hosts an abundance of wine tastings in prep for the coming holiday season so it’s an excellent opportunity to be exposed to wines all for free! I guess it’s not totally “free”.  The tasting and learning are free. However, I usually do come home with at least a bottle or two so you get it. Plus, there’s the opportunity to chat with a wine rep who’s sole aim is to help you get to know their wines. They are always amiable and enthusiastic talkers!

Once again, we found ourselves squeezing in a tasting  on a crowded Wednesday evening but it was well worth it.  Our local wine shop was throwing a Fall Wine Tasting hosted by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants. The wines were all from France, food-friendly and geared towards holiday gatherings.  Our favorite was the sparkling wine Bottex “La Cueille” Bugey-Cerdon Rosé. It was the last pour in the line up and the one that elicited the most smiles from everyone.  The color alone brought a great reaction and coupled with it’s very heady fragrance, the crowded back corner bar where it was being served quickly turned into a lively party.  A few of us may have circled through a second time while the rep spun stories about the Bottex family and the Bugey appellation.

Bugey-Cerdon is actually a blend of the grapes Gamay and Poulsard. The wine is low in alcohol content, vibrantly pink, bubbly, slightly sweet, and fabulously fragrant. Extremely festive. And from a region that according to Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, “… is one of the best-kept secrets of France.”

Patrick Bottex “La Cueille” Bugey Cerdon Rosé NV

I really enjoyed doing research on this wine region. Not many of the region’s wines usually flow past their local dinner table but a few are making their way to foreign shores. The region of Bugey is tucked at the foothills of the Jura mountains between Savoie and the Rhone. It received official appellation status in 2009 but has been around since Medieval times.

“Today, Cerdon is considered one of three crus within the appellation of Bugey, and the only one whose entire production consists of sparkling wine.” ~ KermitLynch.com 

I’m thinking they’ve mastered the old adage, “Focus on one thing and do it well.”

“Le Cueille” Picture courtsey of Bottex Website

The 5 hectares of the  Bottex vineyard lies in the hamlet of Le Cueille.  According to French law, the wine has to be made in the Mèthode Ancestrale which is an ancient process that pre-dates Champenoise. Basically, the wine only goes through a single fermentation in vats and finishes up in bottle. Fairly simple. In my opinion, the results are wonderful! 

The wine tasting was so festive that just looking at the picture I snapped in haste (before getting back in queue to ask a question and maybe a drop more wine) makes me excited for the holidays. The “best kept secret” is now out but I’m confident I can get a few bottles during the wine shop’s Fall Sale this week. (Thank you,  Alexander Graham Bell

Rest assured, if you’re coming to my house anytime in the next two months, this is what I’m serving! Cheers!

Madeira: My ‘Wow’ Wine Moment

Last evening, we attended a tasting at our local wine shop hosted by The Rare Wine Co. They specialize in old vintage wines and were pouring 6 offerings with the help of their rep Master Sommelier Anthony Anselmi. I throw his name out there encase anyone knows him. I adore name dropping whenever possible. 

All of the wines were Old World which gives me immediate recall issues on the where, whom and why but once I get my bearings on a wine I can sometimes remember. My brain picks up New World better. Anyway, my poor memory became irrelevant once I tasted the last wine poured. 


The Rare Wine Co. Historic Series Charleston Sercial Madeira NV

19.5% Alc. Retail $50

This was my first Madeira and it hopefully won’t be my last. It’s produced by Vinhos Barbeito from the Island of Madeira, Portugal. 

It’s deep golden in color and powerfully aromatic.  So powerful on the nose that bourbon came to mind and I hesitated in tasting. Strong drink gives me a tummy ache. I braved it and took a sip.

And time stood still. I’m not joking. You all felt it right? Who else has experienced this after one sip? 

In that moment, I had my first ‘Wow’. It was magical. I’ve been fortunate to taste a few good wines over the years. Nothing of the famous cult variety but still very good. However, that little sip topped them all. Stupefied and stunned, I just kept looking at the glass.  Sniff and look. Sniff and look. I was clueless at that point as to where Madeira was located but I knew I was in love. The taste was nothing like the nose. Soft and dry with what I first thought was butterscotch but turned out to be caramel and a touch of saltiness. Delicious.

We had crammed the wine tasting in between a busy work day and rushing to a class at church but once I sipped the Madeira all thoughts of hurrying were gone. I wanted to draw out finishing it as long as possible and savor the moment. I’m making a note for future wine tastings to keep the schedule clear just in case a wonderful wine happens.  

This particular bottle is part of The Rare Wine Co. Historic Madeira series produced by the Barbeito family. The wines are named for U.S. cities where Madeira was super popular in the 18th and 19th century. They chose two cities in the south, Charleston and Savannah, which are drier Madeira and two cities in the north, Boston and New York, which are sweeter. Having a southern mama, I would have picked Charleston for sweet but historically the South preferred dry. 

Here’s a few info-bites I hastily gleaned about the wine I am now designating as the gift to give for all future weddings I might get to attend:

  1. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Madeira is a fortified wine which means it practically lasts forever making it a great anniversary tradition to save and sip each year. 
  2. High in alcohol. It can have between 19 – 22%. Another reason you might not finish the bottle in one sitting although it’s tempting. 
  3. As a landmass, Madeira is a mountainous island with mild temperatures. 
  4. The four current global Madeira wine producers survived by buying and stockpiling vintages during a 13 year phylloxera outbreak. The one we tasted was in barrel for 22 years. 
  5. Apparently, Japan really likes Madeira and buys lots of it. 
  6. It goes well with duck. (Thank you, Amy) 

Actually, it apparently goes well with lots of dishes for that matter. I’m thinking for Thanksgiving it’s goodbye Prosecco and Hello Madeira. The only thing stopping me is the price. Well, and the alcohol content. Other than that “if I were a rich man . . . yada yada yada” 


Our Saturday Sips: BoneShaker 2014 Zinfandel Lodi

Hello everyone, 
In a effort to regain balance in our life, we’ve decided to make a few changes and lay down a few new hard and fast rules. Someday, when I’m at liberty to share, I’ll explain. But for now let’s just say important areas in our life were spiraling out of control and changes needed to be made before we found ourselves as big as hippos and living in a van down by the river.  Therefore, one of our new “lifestyle” changes is limiting our wine to the weekend. Our bodies thank us. Our budget thanks us. And to be honest, the anticipation of what wine we will try is once again fun and enjoyable. 
Our Saturday Sip:
Boneshaker 2014 Zinfandel Lodi


The bottle claims it’s named for a teeth rattling thrill ride. Ha! Not much teeth rattling occurred but overall it was a nice dark, full-bodied wine with blackberries and spice. It was also on budget at $20.02. I’d get it again.  Boneshaker Zin is produced by the Hahn Family Wines with the grapes sourced from 40 year old vines out of the Bruella Vineyard in Lodi, California.

The past weekend was tremendously enjoyable as I got to experience two of my very favorite pastimes: college football and wine. We actually opened the zinfandel on Friday night because the Oklahoma Sooners were to play Ohio State in football on Saturday night.  The stinging memories of last year’s  loss  required all our energy to be focused on the game. Smart move on our part,  since this year’s game was incredible and required lots of jumping up and down, nail biting and high-fiving.  And in the name of good, clean, slightly disrespectful fun, according to Siri, Ohio State stadium  now has a new owner. Who knew?



Kicking off a Month of Rose for #Winestudio: Domaines Paul Mas

Program note: I started this post last week with the intention of publishing ASAP because of the timeliness of the subject, however, reality often eclipses intention. June is #Winestudio’s annual month of Rosé, so technically I’m still on time! 

June 10th    is   was National Rosé Day so it’s only natural #Winestudio’s June program feature Rosé. To kick off a month of Rosé education, the first week featured  a portfolio of wines from Domaines Paul Mas with vigneron,  Jean-Claude Mas, as guide.  In 2000, Jean-Claude left a career in motorsports to restructure his family’s declining vineyard estate into a viable winemaking business. He has worked hard to cultivate a wine style focused on a philosophy of “the simple pleasures of life” and has built a wine empire in France’s Languedoc region with their wine exported to 61 countries. 

“Luxe Rural sums up our culture and philosophy. With the greatest respect for our rural roots, we aim for perfection. Our wines are the result of our mission to inspire real emotions.” ~ Vigneron Jean-Claude Mas

With the philosophy of Luxe Rural in mind, we tasted through three different rosés; two still wines and a sparkler.  Now is when the education part of #Winestudio kicks in – I had to revisit the meaning ‘free run juice’ which led me to an inner dialogue about my lack of formal wine certification/qualifications and how basically the fact is I’m only a wine drinker. I run on intelligence guided by experience.  What am I saying? The following is focused more on the specs of these wines than the taste so it might be drier than usual. Although, the taste was a very pleasant experience and is further changing my views of Rosé.  

To get the party started, we popped a sparkler:

Côté Mas Crémant de Limoux Rosé Brut NV St. Hilaire Languedoc ($16)

  • 70% Chardonnay, 20% Chenin Blanc, 10% Pinot Noir (Personally, in my palate’s opinion, chardonnay is more pleasant when she brings friends along to temper her buttery personality.) 
  • Production is by Methode Traditionelle – Primary fermentation is in stainless steel vats with a blend of sugar and yeast, “Liqueur de Tirage” added before bottling. The bottles are placed upside down to gather the lees in the neck and aged a year. The bottlenecks are then frozen to trap the lees in an ice plug which is easily removed. The bottles are re-sealed and aged a second year. 
  • Limoux is often cited as the oldest sparkling wine region in France.
  • Don’t you think sparklers make excellent introductions to the world of Rosé?


Côté Mas Rosé Aurore 2016 Sud de France ($11)

  • The grapes are de-stemmed and the varieties: Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah – are vinified separately.  
  • The Cote Mas Rose Aurore is made with only free run juice.  Free run juice is the juice pressed out from the sheer weight of the grapes stacked on top of each other into the winepress. This juice is treasured for it’s characteristics of purity, freshness and clarity of flavor. Wines made from free run juice are bottled under a separate label and often at a higher price point. 
  • The Aurore ferments for 3 weeks at 17*C in stainless steel and then aged on its lees in new cement vats with regular pump-overs. Pump-over – a technique used to increase optimal extraction of color and flavors. Also known as remontage, the wine is pumped up from the bottom of the tank and splashed over the top of the fermenting grape skins, seeds and stems; the purpose is to submerge the skins so that carbon dioxide is pushed to the surface of the must and released.
  • This free run juice is widely available at the astronomical price $11. 


Arrogant Frog Rose 2016 Languedoc ($10)

  • 100% Syrah and nicknamed ‘Lily Pad Pink’
  • The Arrogant Frog has become the mascot of Domaines Paul Mas Estate wines.
  • It had a rich body and weight to it with lovely strawberries. (That’s all I’ll say.)
  • Protected by a pine forest, the vines grow in a gravel, clay and limestone soil wrapped in a Mediterranean climate. 

The Arrogant Frog was the only wine I had time to plan a proper menu pairing so I decided to try my hand at homemade street tacos. The spices paired really well! The Frog was my favorite of the three.

There is so much more I could share with you about these luxe Roses besides them being simply affordable but I think I’ve already loaded you down with enough information. Plus my goal isn’t to cause your eyes to glaze over! I’ll leave you with this: Domaines Paul Mas makes a lovely range of rosés. Let me know if you try one! Adieu.


Disclosure: I received these wine media samples as a participant of the online wine educational program #Winestudio. All ramblings are my own. 

Aroma vs. Palate: Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir 2013

Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir 2013

Happy spring break!

We’re still trying to recover from the 3:30 am trip to the airport to drop off our college kid so she could visit the Grandparents back East. Thankfully, she landed before the “Blizzard of 2017” and she went prepared with a coat packed in her suitcase. Why wear it when you can have the baggage guys carry it around for you? There’s something sweet and nostalgic watching her experience the carefree days of youth. I’m definitely jealous!

Not much else is going on this week except a trip to the Science Museum and planning our youngest’s 13th birthday party. The theme: Chocolate. I’m currently on the hunt for a chocolate fountain. And chocolate crafts and chocolate flavored lip gloss for party favors. Planning’s been almost as easy as our son’s 13th and his raucous party at Laser Quest. I just had to show up. Chocolate’s easy because it’s everywhere. The hard part about chocolate and often wine, is choosing from the endless possibilities which is the segue I’ll use to this Pinot Noir we opened in January. You remember January, right? Frankly, neither do I because some how I skipped February and went directly to Spring Break.

Back in January, before we took a short wine break, we opened a bottle of Louis Latour Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir 2013 ($16). Occasionally, a wine talks to you in an entirely different voice with it’s aroma than what you actually taste. This was the case with the Louis Latour Pinot Noir. A strong personality showed up in the aroma with floral stems, tobacco leaves, funky turnip greens, asparagus, cigar smoke and leather. The aroma kept evolving. There was a lot going on. I wondered if there might be a problem. However, the palate was entirely different than what I was expecting with soft tannins, red currents, black cherries, raspberries, spices and a lovely earthy floral accent. Overall, a very enjoyable Pinot Noir. 

This Pinot will most certainly be making a reappearance! Cheers! 

#MWWC30: Obscure Wine Drinkers

The following post is my entry for #MWWC30. The very last #MWWC of 2016 was won by the Texas wine blogger of NYC and favorite of mine, Shez of The Epicurious Texan. Her choice is Obscure. Congrats, Shez!


The title should probably read more like a tabloid headline:

Obscure Wine Drinker Becomes Twitter Seat-filler to the tune of Hundreds of Dollars Worth of Wine.

photo credit: pinterest

Do you know me? Probably not. Most would say I’m just another face in the crowd. Unremarkable. Ordinary. Possessing no charismatic traits or notable features to attract attention. Just your average wine consumer. Even my wine buying habits are average. They lie between economically affordable and always dependable. You could call me Joe Public of the wine masses.

And yet, in 2015, something strange happened. Social media and good old-fashioned marketing caught me as I went quietly from one familiar bottle to the next. A bright spotlight appeared on wines I’d steadily ignored for the ‘safer’ wine offerings of widely known grapes.  

Maybe it was the timing or the weariness of routine but I’d grown restless with the comfortably mundane. Then, one night while scrolling through Twitter, I eavesdropped on a conversation with the hashtag #winestudio. It sucked me in like a tornado with its seductive wine banter between a lively group of wine drinkers and a Chilean winemaker. Who knows what possessed me, but this average wine drinker did the unthinkable. I asked a question and a kind wine stranger answered!

The next day, I found myself at the wine shop searching the shelves for Montes Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. I’m positive I heard an audible high-five between marketers for successfully snagging this consumer. Except, I think I was ripe for the picking. The thought of buying a wine produced from a far off local seemed exciting and exotic. My heart raced as I timidly asked my wine shop clerk if they had the mysterious bottle. I began calculating what this international adventure was about to cost as he rang it up. Enthusiasm can be expensive. The total was $15. I stared dumbly at the clerk. Huh? Hold on, let me clean out the earwax. Repeata, por favor? $15. Was it discounted? A bottle you’ve been trying to get rid of for ten years? No, he assured me. The regular price is $15. Were Chilean wines usually this inexpensive? No. However, there were several delicious and quite affordable. I could be drinking wine from Chile and I didn’t even know it! What else was out there in the affordably global wine market? 

Being the astute wine marketer, he immediately recognized an open door and pounced with a second suggestion to go with my awakening wine vision,   Hopler Pannonica, a red blend  from Austria. Only $9. ‘I like to suggest it to Millennial professionals,’ he said grinning. ‘They balk at the low price but are reeled in by the taste. Plus, it’s grapes, Blaufrakisch and Zweigelt, are so unknown to most, it guarantees they’ll be the center of attention at any dinner party. And since it’s impolite to ask the price, they’re safe from being called a cheapskate.’ Might be narcissistic for wanting all the attention, but Austria came home with me.

In the meantime, I started paying more attention to #wine hashtags and tweet-ups. These #wine playdates popped up all over at various times and days. My social media activity drew the attention of a few wine marketers who were desperate for seat-fillers for tweetups. One contacted me with an offer to participate in their Bordeaux Fan tasting. Bordeaux. To me Bordeaux was like glimpsing a celebrity across the street as they entered a darkened car. A wine tasting kit and gift card arrived with instructions to try Bordeaux at three different price points and then answer a questionnaire. Reality sunk into my wine ignorant brain. I was responsible for answering intelligently about my wine choices. Me, an average wine drinker who’d only ever thought of finding a nice affordable wine for dinner.

Pride, vanity, and terror gripped me. However, the thought of free Bordeaux got me to the wine shop. As I crossed the threshold, once again panic set in. I knew zero about Bordeaux but was suppose to buy a few bottles on their dime and talk about them? Thankfully, the clerk who’d gotten me into the Austrian red blend was eager to help. I’m going to let you in on a secret: our local wine shop has a handful of certified wine specialists. The clerk gleefully went from bottle to bottle rattling off producers, regions, and winemaking facts as I tried to get it into my notebook. Terms flew swiftly by my head.

Over, the next year. The scene repeated itself. Marketers wanted to know if I would participate and tweet about the wine, etc.? Sure, but you know I’m only a wine drinker, right? No problem! Bottles of wine would arrive on my doorstep from tiny hamlets, quiet European villages or Middle Eastern countries. Several were made from lesser-known grape varietals I couldn’t begin to pronounce. For example, Boğazkere from Turkey. All I can say is it means ‘throat burner’ and it lives up to its name.


Two things became clear to me. One, my lack of knowledge wasn’t a strong impediment to participation as long as I was willing to learn and two, the majority of the wines I received landed in the $10-20 range. How could the world be so affordable?

Those bottles from countries I might never visit opened a Pandora’s box. It required me to do research and learn to ask questions. Why was this winemaker giving his life to wine? What was the environmental, cultural, political climate of these areas? Why does this grape only grow on jagged hillsides in granite soil? Did you know there are over 10,000 grape varietals? There are wines out there made with grapes sounding closer to classic film stars such as Spain’s Eva de Los Santos or Sicilian mob boss’ with Nerello Mascalese than reliable old office managers like Merlot.

What shocked me was how obtainable these wines are becoming. They’re even starting to make an appearance in ‘fly-over’ Oklahoma! I guess I should say I owe social media a nod of thanks for giving me a hunger for obscure wines. And for plucking this relatively obscure wine drinker out of the crowd to stand eagerly in the middle of the wine aisle and try to decide between Assyrtiko from Greece or Godello from Spain.

Excuse me, has anyone here tried Mala . . .Malago . . .Malagousa?

Comparing the Affordable Cabernet Sauvignon of 2014

Ok, so we drank three wines over the past month,  only to realize later they were from the same vintage and variety albeit not the same location. Two are from California and the third is from Washington State. Each wine was a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. All three are ones you’d have with pizza on a busy mid-week night because of their affordable price points: $12-15 dineros. Since all three wines are of the same year, I started wondering what else was going on three years ago in 2014.

Look back with me, to a much more pleasant year shaped by the power of nature, and not by the bitter winds or acid rain of this past election year. The year began with the University of Oklahoma beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. A spectacular beginning to any year, I’d say.

In California, the vineyards were experiencing a mild winter punctuated by a severe drought. Early spring saw rain but unfortunately also hail. Lack of water and milder temperatures accelerated bud break and vineyard growth and an exceptionally early harvest.  To add interest to the winemaker’s already busy schedule was a destructive earthquake centered in Napa Valley in August. My husband and I visited the area 8 months later and there was still a lot of rebuilding to do.

Up north in Washington State, they were experiencing the warmest season on record tempered with a beautiful, cool fall that produced the largest harvest on record. Like the vineyards in California, WA State vineyards had earlier bud break and harvests due to the mild warm winter. WA winemakers rejoiced at the near perfect conditions.

So how did these mid-week Cabernets fare?

R Collection by Raymond, Lot No.1 Cabernet Sauvignon California 2014: 13.7% alc. The label states the R Collection Cabernet Sauvignon is “referred to as Lot 1 to represent the first generation of five generations of winemaking.” This wine was darker in the glass than the other two and lush with raspberries, tart cherries and a flavor that reminded me of bell pepper and spice. I’m not particularly fond of bell pepper. The finish was long with a bite of tannin. My taster might have been off that evening or other factors could have affected the wine. It happens.


14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2014: 13.5% alc. From Washington State, this was our second favorite out of the three. Medium bodied for a Cab with dark cherries, currents, a hint of coffee and accented with a touch of spice. The Steelers won their playoff game the same night we drank this so it was a win/win evening.  


Sterling Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 Vintner’s Collection California: 13.5% alc. The grapes are sourced from Central Coast vineyards around California. Full bodied with dark fruit aromas and lush blackberries, Bing cherries, vanilla and spice. This was our favorite of the three.


This wasn’t intentional but I’m loving it. I set up a wine learning opportunity for myself without even thinking! Imagine what I could do if I actually put some thought into it. Scary, right?! I’d definitely be a lot farther along in wine knowledge  . . . but my problem is most of the time I just want a glass of wine without all the attachments. Just a pleasant glass that fits the moment. And that moment is most often the one where I’m sitting in my yoga pants relaxing at the end of the day, unwinding with the Better half of me and watching repeats of ‘Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.’ Or the Steelers in the Superbowl. (I can hope.)

Well, take it from this wine drinker, the next time you pick up a deep dish Schooner from Hideaway Pizza, there’s an affordable Cabernet to offset the delicious but pricey pie.

Happy Friday, or whatever day it may be where you are!



Wine Time-Travel #MWWC25

For this month’s Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #MWWC25 the word is TRAVEL


I love travel! I love to travel! The sights, the people, the cultures, the odd things others do, the food, the history, the magnificence of seeing familiar hopes, fears, and dreams in the hues of exotic people altogether unlike me. Traveling the world has always been a dream of mine.

The desire to discover fresh places comes from my globetrotting Grandma Rose. Every winter she’d fly through our “port city”, basically wherever our family was currently living, shower us with a bounty of garden produce, visit a day and then be on her way out of the country before the cold Northern California weather “would frost her orchard”. Belize, the Philippines and India were her favorite hangouts. Returning the first week of April, because she had to “get her taxes filed”, Gram Rose would stop long enough to share weird and wild stories accompanied with projector slides (tiny plastic framed negatives for all of you born after 1985) and treasures from faraway lands.

Ah, travel.

Nowadays, I do most of my traveling closer to home. But someday, Lord willing, my modern steamer trunk will display those coveted passport stamps of foreign lands and my iPhone will hopefully contain a picture or two of an Italian or even Croatian vineyard.

Well, buckle up, buttercups, cause we’re going to do the unconventional – we are going to time travel. 

Why time travel? Why not? If you can fly in and out of time zones belted to a metal gas can and begin the day with a champagne brunch in Brussels and end it with a cocktail in Beijing, then why not time travel?  I’m sure the current reigning #MWWC winner, Loie of Cheap Wine Curious, might agree there are events in wine history worthy of daydreaming about. Not the phylloxera outbreak of 1855, mind you, and the total decimation of vineyards across Europe but perhaps more exciting moments that changed the course of wine into what we drink today.

I’ve decided to follow the style of the movie “Midnight in Paris” starring the affable Owen Wilson.  So hop into a 1920s Peugeot 176 with me, we’ll pour some champagne and take a short trip through wine history by beginning in Paris. Why? Because I love the movie and I love wine. And if you watch closely, each 1920s scene is laced with famous personalities such as the Fitzgeralds, Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Hemingway, and Salvador Dali and accented by a glass of wine. 




 (Just to warn you, dear friends: for those of you who yawn at lists, I’m about to make one.)


Let’s time-travel through a little wine history together!

  • 1820s – Madame Clicquot of the Champagne house Veuve Cliquot drills holes in her Louis XVI dining table and forever ‘rids’ her champagne bottles of pesky sediments  – We sip her sediment-free bubbly and watch as she makes all her employees sign Confidentiality Clauses but unfortunately somebody talks.
  • 1920 – In America, we sneak into a meeting of the Mafia Kingpins and watch as they dress as well-meaning citizens, effectively hijack Congress, lobby for the 18th Amendment and Prohibition is born. We get our jazzy wine fix in the most popular Speakeasy in New York, The Cotton Club. Located in Harlem, it’s hipper than Pa Luke’s backwoods moonshine shack. (Seriously, my Arkansas Great-Grandpa was a moonshiner and way cooler than those wannabes on TV.)
  • Jetting back to France, 1976:  We take a front row seat as upstart Cali-boys, Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars top French producers in the blind tasting of Paris and high-five each other as New World wine REPRESENTS!  
  • 1001: We sail with the Viking  Leif Eriksson who names North America  ‘Vineland’ for the endless species of native grapes he found. Unfortunately, Amerigo Vespucci renames it ‘America’ 500 years later and it sticks. This may not have changed the course of wine history but seriously, I would have been fine with the United States of Vineland.
  •  1224 – Cyprus. We score tickets and t-shirts to “The Battle of the Wines”. It’s the first recorded wine tasting competition staged by the French king Philip Augustus. Over 70 samples from France and across Europe, including Cyprus, Spain and the Mosel region, were tasted and judged by an English priest. The priest classified the wines he tasted as either Celebrated for those which pleased him or Excommunicated for those that did not meet his standards. Who the heck was this guy? Did he have a Master of Wine certificate?? (wikipedia.org)

On a personal note, I will now be adopting the priestly rating of  Celebrated or Excommunicated for all future wine tastings and reviews. Clear and simple. BOOM! _______ wine, You’ve been Excommunicated! 

To end our time traveling wine tour, we wind up in ________. Use your imagination. You know why? Because, thanks to the exploding global economy and transport, modern wine technology, invention of stainless steel temperature controlled vats, and a plethora of amazing modern wine science practices, you can get your passport stamped in 100 different burgeoning wine regions without ever leaving your backyard. Countries with century-old wine cultures are making a splash in as far off lands as Oklahoma. Yes, OKLAHOMA.  And it’s only the beginning to all the wine travel. What an amazing time period we live in. Just as Owen Wilson’s character, Gil Pender, discovers from all his nostalgic, sentimental wanderings: the Present can be all together just as exciting. 

Now get out there and collect a few wine stamps in your passport!


This is my entry for the #MWWC25,  hosted and moderated superbly by Jeff @thedrunkencyclist, founder. If you like it, vote for me with a Celebrated and if you don’t, then just keep the Excommuncated rating to yourself. Thanks.



Week #4 in Albarino Country #winestudio


It’s going on Week #4 of discovering Albariño from Galicia in Spain with #winestudio and you might be asking  “What happened with weeks #1-3?”

Well, lots of discussion on the  Rías Baixas area, the 5 sub-regions (if you can name all 5, I’ll give you a Sooner cheer) with a plethora of mouth-watering food pairings, wine observations, and loads of wine drinking, er, tasting.  We’ve tasted a broad range of Albariño samples courtsey of Rías Baixas Wines and discovered each has similar characteristics  like siblings with familial resemblances but unique personalities. Light, buoyant in body, aromatic, citrus, stone fruit, acidity, minerals, all show up with a pronounced individuality produced by the various winemakers. I already know my favorites and thought I’d give a few highlights.



Nessa 2015 Albarino

Gran Vinum Nessa 2015 Albarino

Adegas Gran Vinum, 2015 Nessa
100% Albarino
DO Rias Baixas – Val so Salnes
SRP $17


Confession. I haven’t tasted this wine yet. I thought I’d get that out of the way up front. Something unwanted happened and it was neglected. However, it will be a warm summer refresher soon.  The small, family-run winery, Adegas Gran Vinum, was founded in 2001 by the Piñeiro Cores Family. Their vineyards are  in the sub-region of Val do Salnés on hillsides overlooking the Umia river and the Ría de Arousa.  They incorporate some of their traditional Galician farming methods such as fertilizing with clam and cockle shells and elevating the vines  on long stones raised like football goalposts to counter the high rainfall with modern technology to produce their dry Albariño.  I’m looking forward to opening the bottle.



Martin Codax 2014
100% Albarino
DO Rias Baixas – Val do Salnes
SRP $17


Wow. Upfront, this one is my favorites. I’d buy a case of this Albariño and it wouldn’t last through the humid June weather we are bound to be blessed with. Refreshingly crisp on the front and smooth on the back with great medium body. Aromatic fruit that floats effortlessly through the air, light, tart, citrus and lemony with clean crisp apple, peaches, spice and pronounced acidity. Martin Codax is making a beautifully balanced Albarino. You can simply sip it or break out the china and serve it with a light seafood supper on a humid summer night.

Notes from the winemaker:  “The 2014 growing season was cool and wet, requiring growers to carefully manage their vineyards to prevent mildew and maximize quality. Though yields were diminished, patience paid off in a long, slow growing season that allowed for excellent maturity. The results are wines with abundant aromatics, crisp acidity and bright fruit flavors.”



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Rectoral do Umia Viñabade 2014
DO Rías Baixas 100% Albariño 
SRP $15


The label is so charming with dainty azure flowers. It looks like it belongs in a garden or at least a garden party. My youngest daughter begged me to save it a while but albariño is meant to be drunk young! However, this delicate floral wine needed a strong companion on her arm. There was a faint aroma of stone fruit and when sipping alone, it fell flat with little personality. I thought I might have chilled it too much, however, paired with our newest restaurant on the block Gin Thai Fusion’s Spicy Pad Thai and Pla koong,  lime/lemon came out and cut the heat nicely. This wine just needs a partner to coax her out of her clamshell.

Founded in 2009, Rectoral do Umia winery is located in the Salñes Valley of DO Rías Baixas where they use the latest technology to produce light, crisp dry Albariño.


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Señorio de Rubiós Robaliño 2015
DO Rías Baixas 100% Albariño
SRP $18


Beautiful clear yellow with a hue of green, this albariño was great! Heady and aromatic with white peaches, floral and citrus, Robaliño delivered balanced yet high acidity and medium body and lingering finish. Wow. Immediately, you tasted citrus peel, grapefruit, kumquats and hints of peaches. As it warmed, there was a lovely mellowing out to warm limes.  It went perfect with our homemade mac n’ cheese.

Planted in the middle of the rich Condado do Tea sub-region and blessed by the Miño river’s alluvial deposits, Señorio de Rubios winery sits on a charming and tranquil land.  “Our facilities reflect the new technologies emerging in the wine world without forgetting the old traditions, which have been pillars of our wines. In them we find large stainless steel vats that share space with French oak barrels.”  – (www.senorioderubios.com)


I’m loving Albariño! If you like to sip white Bordeaux as the temperatures rise, then you’ll enjoy this refreshing Galician wine as well.  The Oklahoma temperatures are rising so I’m grateful to retreat to lush green Spain. If you find yourself frustrated by your NBA or NHL team during the playoffs than Join me, Tuesdays on twitter at 6 PST/8CST using the hashtag #winestudio.  We be  talking albariño wines and everyone’s a winner.



courtesy of RiasBaixas.com

courtesy of RiasBaixas.com







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