Rethinking Aussie Wine | John Duval Interview

Rethinking Aussie Wine | John Duval Interview

John Duval Interview

To say that Australian wine is suffering from an image problem would be a gross understatement. No other country suffers the same level of stigma that’s befallen Australia, as its practically become fashionable for oenophiles to discredit it as merely capable of producing big jammy Shiraz, lavishly oaked Chardonnay and mass-produced, bargain-basement grocery store wines.

These styles have fallen out of vogue with many of today’s consumers, as a movement embracing freshness, restraint and sense of place forces producers around the world to adapt and evolve their winemaking styles. As regions respond, consumers are rejoicing in response to exciting wines that are both expressive and well-balanced. Yet Australia seems to still be left behind, relegated to the abyss of abject winemaking – and it doesn’t deserve to be there.

Continue reading

Château Clerc Milon Sets The Stage | 2018 Prix de la Danse

Château Clerc Milon Sets The Stage | 2018 Prix Clerc Milon de la Danse 

Prix de la Danse

Have you ever noticed the dancers adorning each label of Château Clerc Milon?

The Rothschild family, who owns Château Clerc Milon, has long been a patron of the arts. In fact, it was Bordeaux visionary Baron Philippe de Rothschild who rather shockingly broke from long-standing tradition by commissioning artists to create his own labels from original artwork.

Today, the Rothschild Foundation continues to build on that tradition with the semi-annual Prix Clerc Milon de la Danse, a ceremony which recognizes and celebrates the talents of the prestigious  Bordeaux Opera Ballet and honors the memory of the late Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, who had forged a deep connection to the Ballet during her lifetime.

Prix de la Danse

Continue reading

Château Mouton Rothschild | Embracing Change and Leading The Way

Château Mouton Rothschild | Embracing Change and Leading The Way

Mouton Rothschild

It appeared nothing could possibly be out of sorts upon arriving at the beautifully set table in the private dining room of Château Mouton Rothschild. Me and my fellow Millésima blog award winners were in for a very special afternoon, as we were about to enjoy lunch with not one, but three members of the prominent Rothschild family: Camille Sereys de Rothschild, Philippe Sereys de Rothschild and Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild.

After carefully examining the table for our seat assignments, we were about to sit down for what was sure to be one of, if not the most memorable lunch of our lives when Philippe intervened – announcing that a great deal of thought had been given to each seat assignment. He then effortlessly rearranged several assignments, seating me next to him. (My fellow writers were also strategically seated so as to have a chance to comfortably converse with a member of the family.)

Feeling humbled and frankly a bit surprised, I mentioned to Philippe that I was honored to sit with him. His fantastic response set the tone for the remainder of our afternoon, when he jokingly quipped: “Let me know if you feel the same way after lunch.” As one of France’s noblest families, the Rothschilds possessed an unexpected humility and sense of humor, somehow managing to make us feel right at home at their table.

Chateau Mouton Rothschild

During lunch, we sampled Aile d’ Argent 2015, Château d’ Armailhac 2009, Mouton Rothschild 2005 and Château Coutet 2001

Continue reading

Bordeaux 2017 | Impressions From A Challenged Vintage

Bordeaux 2017 | Impressions From A Challenged Vintage

Bordeaux 2017While my affinity for the wines from picturesque Northern California has been well-documented, it was actually Bordeaux that first stirred the soul of the budding oenophile within me. I devoured the pages of books like Noble Rot and Billionaires Vinegar, which shed a glimmer of light on this prominent yet mysterious region that’s been cloaked in tradition for hundreds of years.

Despite being a geographic challenge for a young wine lover, it was one of the first wine regions I visited. When my spouse and I took the opportunity to tour Europe, Bordeaux was an absolute must – and our short stay there, consisting of just a few days, was one of the highlights of our trip.

We explored the unexpectedly cosmopolitan city center and booked a tour which afforded us visits to Château Lynch-Bages, Château Ferrière and a stellar lunch at Château Camensac, paired with beautiful, mature wines from their cellar. I quickly realized we should have budgeted more time, but the visit still managed to cement my appreciation for Bordeaux’s compelling, age-worthy wines.

And so after ten long years, I write this having just returned from attending en primeur in Bordeaux  as the recipient of the Millésima Wine Reporting Award for 2018. I am deeply grateful to Millesima for the nomination, and to my incredible readers who rallied behind it in support of me. It was incredible to get back to this region that I love so much, and I want to share some impressions from the challenging 2017 vintage.

Bordeaux 2017

Tasting through Marguax at Chateau Siran | Photo Credit: Frederic Lot

What is En Primeur?

Continue reading

Enter the Rodney Strong Master Blender Sweepstakes

Enter the Rodney Strong Master Blender Sweepstakes

Master Blender Sweetstakes

Those who have been fortunate enough to experience the stunning natural beauty of Sonoma County and everything it has to offer are sure to warmly greet the opportunity to return. For those who have never experienced its verdant, mesmerizing landscape, world-class wines and incredible farm-to-table cuisine – this is your opportunity to win an all-expense-paid wine country getaway to the charming town of Healdsburg, California.

If you’re following along on my social media channels (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook) then you’re probably aware that I was recently hosted by Rodney Strong Vineyards for a two day mini-preview of what the two winning couples will receive and to help spread the word about their generous sweepstakes grand prizes.

Family-owned and operated and a pioneer in Sonoma County Winemaking for more than 50 years, Rodney Strong couldn’t be better equipped to show the two lucky couples the very vest of what Sonoma County has to offer. Below you’ll find the highlights from my trip – and don’t forget to enter! There is no cost or purchase necessary to enter, and the only benefit to me when you enter is the satisfaction of one of my loyal readers winning this amazing trip!

What Winners of the Rodney Strong Master Blender Sweepstakes Can Expect

Master Blender Sweetstakes

Continue reading

Historic Charm Melds With Modern Luxury at the Santa Ynez Inn

Historic Charm Melds With Modern Luxury at the Santa Ynez Inn

Santa Ynez Inn

The Santa Ynez Inn takes its name from the quaint town of Santa Ynez, where it’s located at the entrance to Santa Ynez Valley’s scenic wine country. Not only is its location incredibly convenient should your stay include plans to explore Santa Barbara Wine Country, but each guest of the Santa Ynez Inn also receives one of the best amenities I’ve ever experienced: an exclusive Tasting Passport, entitling them to complimentary tastings at nearly twenty local wineries. How apropos!

Modeled after the very first hotel in Santa Ynez, The College Hotel, which was tragically lost during a fire in 1935, The Santa Ynez Inn was newly constructed in 2001. Yet despite being built so recently, I so enjoyed how the Santa Ynez Inn elegantly combines the charm of an old Victorian inn with the luxuries and modern conveniences of a new hotel. And however unexpected it may be as you pull up in your Tesla, there’s even a charging station at your disposal!

Overall, an air of understated elegance undeniably defines the entire operation, from the exquisite furnishings to the soothing jazz music you’ll find serenading you as you settle into your luxuriously appointed room. From the moment you check in, guests are pampered with a surprisingly generous list of amenities that are completely included in your stay (read on for the full list).

Santa Ynez Inn

Continue reading

Surprise Awaits You in Santa Barbara Wine Country

Surprise Awaits You in Santa Barbara Wine Country

santa barbara wine countryThe hit 2004 film Sideways put Santa Barbara’s Wine Country on the map. After the success of the film, audiences were treated to a snapshot of what this stunning region has to offer – awe inspiring vistas with endless rolling hills concealing a patchwork of windy roads and charming towns possessing a distinctly old western feel.

And lets not forget the authentic examples of cool-climate Pinot and Chardonnay, or the fact that in just a short two hour drive from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles one can quite literally escape to this otherworldly paradise that’s seemingly frozen in time.

But dig a little deeper, and the plot thickens. After spending a week in Santa Barbara Wine Country, I feel it’s the regions unexpected diversity, tightly-knit community of passionate farmers and winemakers and its unique topography directly exposing it to the harsh cooling influences of the Pacific Ocean that tell the whole story. Oh, and even Miles might be surprised to find that not only is there such a good thing as great Merlot, but there’s even great Santa Barbara County Merlot!

Santa Barbara Wine Country

What Makes The Region’s Topography So Unique?

Continue reading

The Landsby Solvang Hotel | Savor Your Stay in Solvang

The Landsby Hotel | Savor Your Stay in Solvang

Landsby Solvang

Founded in 1911 by Danish settlers, the charming, emphatically Danish town of Solvang is but a short forty minute drive (a scenic one at that via CA-154) from the city of Santa Barbara. If Solvang’s convenient, central location makes sense as your home base while exploring the surrounding Santa Barbara County wine country, you might consider making The Landsby Solvang Hotel your home away from home.

Located in-between the towns of Lompoc and Santa Ynez, the Landsby Solvang celebrated its grand opening in May of 2015 after undergoing extensive renovations. The boutique hotel boasts a clean, contemporary Scandinavian design envisioned by LA-based design firm Studio Collective that made me feel right at home after a long day of traveling from the East Coast.

Continue reading

Upgrade Your Tasting Experience With Arrowood’s New “Private Seated Tasting”

Disclaimer: While this post was sponsored by Arrowood Vineyards, all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Arrowood Vineyards

The popularity of Cabernet Sauvignon is no secret, and readers often ask for my recommendations when planning a trip to Sonoma and Napa since I spend so much time there; and while I’m immensely fond of Sonoma and Napa producers alike, I often find myself recommending Sonoma Cabernet producers these days. Why, do you ask?

Because the stronger maritime influences of Sonoma’s climate generally lends itself to more restrained, lower-alcohol Cabernet Sauvignons and the prices of the wines are often more reasonable than their better-known Napa Valley counterparts.

Plus, those who think great Cabernet only hails from Napa Valley might just be in for a surprise, as even I was when I recently visited Arrowood Vineyards and Winery, located in the very heart of Sonoma Valley just off of Sonoma Highway 12.

The “Private Seated Tasting” offers guests an intimate introduction to Arrowood’s Compelling Portfolio of Reserve-Level Cabernets Paired with Gourmet Cheese and Charcuterie While Overlooking the Panoramic Vineyard Views of the Arrowood Estate. 

I recently had the pleasure of visiting and experiencing the winery’s brand new “Private Seated Tasting” experience, and was delighted to find that truly compelling Cabernet Sauvignon was not just a part of the the tasting, but was proudly the star. Of the five reserve wines I was able to taste, four were 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Included in the tasting and paired with a gourmet charcuterie plate were the following wines:

  • 2013 Arrowood Proprietary Red (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec)
  • 2013 Arrowood Monte Rosso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2013 Arrowood Smothers-Remick Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2013 Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon Réserve Spéciale
  • 2005 Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon Réserve Spéciale

Offering distinctive wines that are uniquely expressive of their terroir is very much part of the soul of Arrowood, as Richard Arrowood, who founded the winery over 30 years ago, was an early pioneer of vineyard-designated offerings in Sonoma County. While Richard retired from Arrowood in 2011 (his legendary winemaking career spans more than 50 years in Sonoma), he recognized early on the potential for Cabernet Sauvignon in various regions throughout Sonoma.

Arrowood Vineyards

Guests can choose to enjoy the Private Seated Tasting on the patio overlooking Arrowood’s Estate Vineyards

Continue reading

Italy’s Tenuta Sette Ponti Produces a Pair of Tuscans to Treasure

Italy’s Tenuta Sette Ponti Produces a Pair of Tuscans to Treasure

Tenuta Sette Ponti

Photo credit: http://www.seminarioveronelli.com

While the words ‘Super Tuscan’ and ‘Superb Value’ are rarely uttered within the same sentence, the Tenuta Sette Ponti estate, nestled in the heart of Italy’s Chianti region, continues to produce uncommonly distinctive wines that over-deliver for their respective price points.

Two wines in particular, the Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo ($30) and Tenuta Sette Ponti Oreno ($70) have undeniably played a considerable role in the estates success, as these wines consistently demonstrate Tenuta Sette Ponti’s ability to produce high-quality, value-driven wines year after year. As an added bonus – these wines are made even more accessible by the fact that they are widely distributed, making them easy for consumers to find.

Continue reading

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...