I had the incredible good fortune to spend a little over three months in Tuscany this year. From March to June.  My husband and I rented a house in a Castello, Castello dei Bisticci, 18 km from Florence, on top of a steep hill from which we could see the snowy peaks of the Apennines and the Arno River in the distance. 
We could access the house driving up the typical hair pin curves, on roads winding through vineyards and olive groves, sheep meadows,  centuries old castles and picturesque farmhouses dotting the rolling hills and mountains of Tuscany.
We traveled everywhere; to Arezzo, Siena, Pistoia, Lucca, Pisa, Livorno and La Maremma, etc... through roads with signs such as Chianti, la ruta del Chianti, Chianti delle colle Fiorentini... o colle Sense... Oh, the mystery of Chianti...!
I soon learned that while most Chiantis are delicious, all chiantis are not equal.
Chianti , the wine,  is linked to a well-defined geographical area, and is a regional product, a Tuscan product  — with documents going back to the 14th century to prove it.,  such as the letters of a Prato merchant, Francesco Datini, who lived from 1383 to 1410.
Chianti, conjures Italy, and it is as complicated as the history of the region,  but we will not go through now… but we owe its actual characteristics and rules to the Baron of Ricasoli who, in the early 19th century , found the right blends of grapes and established the rules of chianti wine.  Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianca  is the same blend used today in Chianti.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg!!! Factor in the DOCG zones and DOCs, or non-DOC wines called  "Super Tuscans" like the famous Sassicaia. The Chianti region covers a vast area of Tuscany and includes within its boundaries several overlapping Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) regions.
Yet, with 21 million gallons of wine Chianti  is the most widely sold classified Italian wine: out of which 50% is exported.     (Italy produces 28.9% of 170 million gallons of wines produced in the European Union)  
Getting to know your  Chianti
The wines are based on the Sangiovese grape, and depending on the region blended with a small percentage of other grapes:   Canaiolo, Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianca , Mammolo, or Colorino to add some flesh and aromatic complexity …  In 1995 it became legal to produce a Chianti with 100% Sangiovese.  Producers now include some Merlot, for fruit and richness, or Cabernet Sauvignon, for power and dark fruit flavors. .  During the 1970s producers started to reduce the quantity of white grapes in Chianti which is a trend now slowly coming back. 
For a wine to retain the name of Chianti, it must be produced with at least 80% Sangiovese grapes
These are medium-bodied wine with strawberry and cherry fruits,  delicate notes of green herb, mineral soil, leather and spice. Some Chianti are fresh, easy-to-drink, and can be drunk young; others are full-bodied and intricate in flavor, and others need years to become full-bodied and develop the complex nuances and flavors of the traditional Tuscan reds.    
And then there are sub-zones: Much of Chianti is identified by its subzone, and  the name of a special vineyard or town which is a mark of distinction.    What they have in common is the grape variety Sangiovese, and the rules and regulations of the Chianti Wine Consortium.  
The Chianti Wine Consortium was established in 1927 by a group of wine growers from the Provinces of Florence, Siena, Arezzo and Pistoia, and later expanded its operations to include the entire production region. It was legally recognized by the Production Regulation of 1967, and incorporated into the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination of Origin - DOCG).   
At a dinner at Quattro Restaurant,  we tasted six DOCG wines from different regions of Tuscany which gave us an idea of the wide range of styles and of tastes of Chianti:  medium-high acidity and medium tannins,  juicy fruit notes of cherry, plum and raspberry make them very flexible with food pairings, particularly with  dishes with red sauce, beef, lamb and wild game.  These are easy-going wines — all under $15— that must be consumed right after pouring in the glass. The aromas and structures don’t  stand up to long exposure to air. 
Ruffino Chianti Superiore DOCG 2008 Il Superiore
Chianti DOCG 2009 Ruffino
The 7 Tuscan estates of Ruffino extend on 1500 hectares of land, with 600 hectares of vineyards.  Il superiore  is produced from grapes selected in low yield vineyards. No more that 7 tons of grapes per hectare are cultivated in these vineyards.    
Chianti Superiore has been authorized since 1996 as a specification for wines produced with a stricter rule of production than other Chianti wines. It is all in the vinification process. Chianti Superiore wines can be produced only from grapes cultivated in all the Chianti wine areas and must omit the sub-zone name on the label. Chianti Superiore cannot be sold to the consumer before nine months of ageing — ageing is calculated from 1 January after the picking — of which three must be in the bottle.  
Piccini Chianti DOCG 2009   established in the Province of Siena since 1882        
Castello di Gabbiano:Chianti DOCG  2009  The first historical references to Gabbiano date from the 11th century, when work began on a fortress to defend one of the most important communication routes between Florence and Siena…” The construction of the vaulted cellars, was begun in 1124, when the castle belonged to one of the most important banking families of Florence, the Bardi,  until the early part of the 15th century.  It was passed to the Soderini family who was responsible for the conversion of the turreted manor house of Gabbiano in a Fattoria…  
Chianti DOCG 2008 Fattorie Melini San Lorenzo
Chianti DOCG 2009 Melini Borghi d’Elsa





The state of Washington has been producing some extraordinary red wines for a couple of decades, in its ever increasing number of appellations. There are over 500 wineries in the state and almost 50 are added each year with no sign of slowing down.
But it is in the Walla Walla Valley, adjoining Oregon, that some of the best reds are being produced. Recently the 2006 Spring Valley Vineyard Uriah Walla Walla Valley Red Wine made the Wine Spectator’sTop 100” list of the World’s Best Wines for the fourth time in its eight vintage history.
While The Corkrums have been growing crops in Spring Valley for more than 100 years— the family's patriarch Uriah Corkrum arrived in the area in the 1800s — it is only since 1999 that the founding winemakers Devin Corkrum, his wife Sahri CorkrumDerby and his brother Gaynor Derby make the first vintage of Uriah from vineyards nestled amid the wheat fields northeast of Walla Walla.  Today with French winemaker Serge Laville, the family is making  wines that reflect the distinctive terroir of Spring Valley. 
Each wine is named after a founding member of the family and the labels are their old portraits — a tribute to the patriachs who have struggled and succeeded in farming the same land where Spring Valley Vineyard now flourishes.  Spring Valley Vineyard is a limited production facility with about 40 acres planted, including Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and produces only Estate bottled red wine.  They all retail around $50

cellar spring valley
2007 Spring Valley Vineyard Uriah Walla Walla Valley   ($50)
 The mix: 60% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, and 6% Malbec. This Merlot blend gets its name from Uriah (Corkrum) - the grandfather of Shari Corkrum Derby. Born in Walla Walla on June 1, 1866 he began successful farming on his own during the 1880's. Poor weather prevented him from harvesting his crop and he lost everything during the first great depression of 1893. He struggled to persevere and in 1910 acquired land in the area known as Spring Valley.   
Uriah, Spring Valley's flagship wine, is elegant and well-balanced, silky and lush, intense with dark chocolate, nuts, plum, cherry, and ripe raspberries, with notes of cedar  and exotic spice flavors and a long, creamy, raspberry finish.
 Frederick (Corkrum) - Made of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 1%  Petit Verdot.  This Cabernet Sauvignon blend's name stems from Frederick Corkrum, son to Uriah and father to Shari, who grew up in Spring Valley.  

Medium to dark garnet in the glass, this wine is a highly structured, fruit-driven wine with a nose of candied plum, blackberry jam and lowers. The palate is huge yet soft with vibrant lush fruit and a long finish.

spring valley 3


 2007-spring-valley-nina lee 




2007 Spring Valley Vineyard Nina Lee Walla Walla Valley

 Nina Lee This 100% Syrah is rich, ripe and smooth with bright fruit, sweet berry jam flavors and mineral and earth tones, reminiscent of the Syrah make in the steep hills of the Rhône Valley’s Côte Rôtie or Hermitage in France.  

The name comes from the wife of Frederick Corkrum. They met in 1928 after she finished performing her Vaudeville act at the local theater. They married immediately and began their struggle to stay afloat during the great depression. Following Frederick's death in 1957, Nina Lee didn't want to depend on anyone for her livelihood and continued to operate the ranch on her own. Nina Lee passed away after 21 years of successful farming.

2007 Spring Valley Vineyard Frederick Walla Walla Valley  



troublemaker2Westside Red Troublemaker, Paso Robles, CA ($20)   A new  fire truck red label for a new wine: 53% Syrah, 37% Mourvèdre, 10% Grenache, sourced from Paso Robles, California ,and  taken from multiple vintages (2007, 2008 and 2009). The Austin Hope family has been making wines in Paso Robles since 1978 and their labels include Liberty School, Candor, Treana, Austin Hope and Westside Wines. They made Troublemaker by blending multiple vintages into a seamless whole.  Big fruit, touch of cedar, touch of tannins on the middle of the taste, with a tart, fruity finish. Raspberries, bit of brambles, chocolate on the aftertaste make this  lively and flexible wine has character and lends itself exceptionally well  with any holiday meal when you've got a lot of different and competing flavors on the table.

Click here to watch a video



François Mauss,Bipin Desai and Angelo Gaja
Fulvio Pierangelini, François Mauss and Gianfranco Soldera
Chef Luciano Parolari




 Cernobbio, Italy- October 1, 2010The world’s most famous hotel will once again host the Villa d’Este World Wine Symposium, October 28-31st  , 2010,  on the banks of beautiful Lake Como.

Listen to an Interview with Villa d’Este World Wine Symposium founder François Mauss and Jean Marc Droulers, President and CEO of the Hotel Group Villa d’Este on Lake Como, Italy

 The event — also called the Davos of the Wine World —organized in partnership with the founder of WWS, François Mauss,  gathers the top players of the wine world; producers, wine experts, aficionados, critics, journalists, collectors and draws participants from Italy and all of Europe.
In addition to tasting some of the world’s most important wines, such as Chateaux Petrus, Romanée Conti, Echézeaux, Richebourg, La Tâche, Gaia and Sassicaia; experts will moderate the sessions, most of them with the producers themselves; i.e., Domaine de la Romanée Conti wines will be presented by none other than Mr. Aubert de Villaine.
In between seminars and tastings, participants are treated to perfectly paired meals prepared by Villa d’ Este’s Executive Chef, Luciano Parolari, a renowned expert in risotto and co-author of several cookbooks, including the Villa d’Este Cookbook and Tales of Risotto. Listen to Chef Luciano Parolari on FOOD & WINE TALK
This year’s discussion topics , October 28-31:
“Wine and Health: Where Are We and Where Are We Going”, with a panel discussion made up of leading scientists from around the world: Professor David Khyat (Institut National du Cancer, France); Professor R. Curtis Ellison (Professor of Medicine and Public Health at Boston University and best known for his research on “the French Paradox”; and Professor Alberto Bertelli (Surgeon, Università Statale di Milano, expert in studies linking wine and health).
 “China and Wine”.  Quickly becoming an important market for superior quality wines, China is also increasing its own production.  The discussion will include insight on what the ramifications of this development may be and what the Chinese wine producers’ goals and ambitions. Don St. Pierre Sr., founder of ASC, a large wine distributor in China, will be speaking in addition to representatives from other Chinese institutions.
Other topics will be discussed during concurrent sessions over the three day meeting, including: “Corks: problems, solutions and alternatives” and “Science and Religion: a new perspective””. Among the speakers will be: Jean-Robert Pitte (Former President of the Sorbonne- Paris); Dominique Tourneix, CEO of DIAM; Henri de Pracomtal (CEO of Taransaud - Barrel Producer), Michel Bettane, journalist, and Allen Meadows, journalist.
For more information, please contact:
Villa d’Este -Claudia Volpi-USA Public Relations
Mobile:  +1 646 431 3202  ,
Villa d’Este Wine Symposium - Marco Makaus
Mobile:  +39 3638476735









cellar torrontes

cellar miquel salarich



A delicious addition to the portfolio of Freixenet Argentina

 by Simone Zarmati Diament


In the Argentine winter of 2005, winemaker Fernando Cairo’s  4x4 jeep was speeding along a dirt road snaking up the snowy Andes raising thick clouds of dust. We were going to the Altus Gualtallary winery , 5,100 feet above sea level in one of the highest parts of the Uco Valley in the foothills of the Tupungato volcano, with vineyards  adjacent to the famed Catena Zapata’s.  Freixenet was then planting several thousand hectares of vineyards of Malbec ,Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Tempranillo and some Tannat on the land it had recently acquired. “All this will become vines next year,” mused Cairo at the wheel of his dust-covered car. (Today he is the winemaker of his own-high end cult brand Ruta 15 Km 29).

Fast forward to five years later - Last night in the sultry Miami summer of 2010, in a cozy restaurant in the Miami Design District, Freixenet winemaker Miquel Salarich from Finca Ferrer was showing off his Malbecs paired with an Argentine dinner prepared by Michelle Bernstein’s cooks at Sra. Martinez.

Mendoza’s Valle de Uco, we now know, is prime land for vineyards planted on sandy and deep, very well drained and restrictive mineral nutrition soils. It produces rich wines that are deep garnet and violet red, with rounded tannins, chocolaty and fruity for the reds and well-balanced whites with floral aromas and mineral depth and a great acidity.

FREIXENET inaugurated its winery in Argentina,  in Gualtallary, Uco Valley — southwest of Mendoza, on the land that the company acquired in 2003, but it extended its interests to Cafayate Valley in Salta to produce Torrontés, the new star on the Argentine wine firmament.

Even though the label shows a bandoneón, an instrument that produces the quintessential Tango harmonies, the wine is labeled Acordeón, probably as a marketing tools designed to attract those who do not know what a  bandoneón is.   Despite this essential flaw, the wine, coming from the quasi desertic and elevated vineyards of Cafayate — the only terroir where a good torrontés grows — is delicious in any circumstance, whether as an aperitif or paired with foods.

 2009 Acordeón Torrontés, Cafayate Valley, Salta, Argentina ($11)  100% torrontés fermented in stainless steel, retains the unique aromatic characteristics of the grape. Mouth watering aromas of grapefruit, ripe white peach, fresh pineapple and honeysuckle, become in the mouth a fireworks of lively citrusy tang of Meyer lemon, honey and lime with lush pear and sober minerality.  With 13.9% alcohol content, this wine stands up to just about any food — from Asian and spicy to grilled meats and seafood —and is great as an aperitif.

2009 Acordeón Malbec, Finca Ferrer, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina    100% varietal displays the typicity of Malbec: red fruit, mint and mocha on the nose and  fresh pomegranate with cocoa and jammy fruit on the palate. Soft tannins and mild acidity. Pairs well with pizza. Pasta, antipasti, grilled meats and BBQ.

2009 Finca ñ Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina   Designed to appeal to young Hispanics, this 95% Malbec and 5% Syrah blend aged for six months in small oak barrels suits every age from every ethnic background - even to those who can't pronounce the letter ñ . With aromas of red fruit and black plum, mocha, toast and licorice, it exhibits all the best characteristics of Malbec. It is well rounded and rich with red fruit, figs and deep earthy tones, has soft tannins and pairs well with foods from cheeses and salumi, pot roast and risotto to roast duck, grilled meats and venison.




Rodney Strong comes up with stupendous wines from Sonoma

Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, Chalk Hill and Sonoma Coast… those names conjure a slice of American history. But they are also AVAs in Sonoma, CA.  Sonoma County has a varied landscapes and microclimates  and produces world class wines at  good value, not an easy thing to do when the next door neighbors is Napa Valley.  

And within Sonoma, Rodney Strong  was one of the first to plant pinot noir in the Russian River Valley, the first to produce and release a Chalk Hill chardonnay, and the first to make a single-vineyard cabernet in Sonoma County. Since the Klein family, who has been involved in California agriculture for four generations, purchased the winery in 1989they have extended their passion for sustainable farming practices, solar power and other green business practices to the 14 estate vineyards. These are a perfect combination of varietal selection and place, and adapting the terroir -   soil and climate – to the farming and winemaking techniques.

The winery’s current wines, under the baton of winemaker Rick Sayre,  include sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, zinfandel, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, Symmetry, a red meritage wine and a couple of single-vineyard cabernet sauvignons from Alexander Valley.

2008 Knotty Vines Zinfandel Estate Vineyards ($18.50)  When Rodney Strong purchased land on the west side of the Russian River he chose to leave untouched the old zinfandel wines.  Over the years new plants have been added. This superb 2008, a medium-bodied wine, blends grapes from this old vineyard as well from vineyards to the North of Alexander Valley combined with a dry spring, hot summer days and cold nights. After spending 17 months in American and French oak, it is the quintessential zin, fresh, with bright berry fruit, spicy qualities and a lingering finish. Pairs well with pastas, meats and red fruit desserts.  

2007 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Vineyards ($22)    A great value for this delicious Cab grown on the benches and hillsides above the valley floor. The wine, aged for over 18 months in oak barrels,  has a soft tannin  structure , bright, and balanced with beautiful aromatics of red plum and  lingering finish  

2009 Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc Estate Vineyards ($13.50) 100% Sauvignon blanc comes from Charlotte’s Home, Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley. Light, crisp and highly aromatic, the warmer Alexander Valley climate has given the wine ripe pear and melon character, while the ocean-cooled Russian River fruit offers citrus, mineral and herbal qualities, making this wine a fresh, lively and aromatic delight. I was sorry to see the bottom of the bottle!


dsc08169 aThe Champagne won the prestigious No. 1 Rating in the annual Fine Champagne Magazine blind tasting test against 1,000 brands, beating out main competitors Cristal and Dom Perignon.

Who is Armand de Brignac?

The original “De Brignac” — whose name belongs to a obscure literary character in a novel that winemaker Jean-Jacques Cattier’s mother was reading in the late 1940’s or early 50s — would have leapt out of the pages of the book had he known that his namesake: Armand de Brignac is No. 1 on the Fine Champagne Magazine list of the 100 Best Champagne in 2010 and one of the most celebrated, the best and highest priced Champagne in the World.   

 At $300, one of the most expensive in the market, it is “…a fine, smooth and creamy champagne with underlying power and great mineral freshness. Classic, restrained and energetic in style, it has everything a truly great champagne can offer.  Armand de Brignac’s flashy golden bottle is eye-catching in the true meaning of the expression.  It is always rewarding when the content of the bottle matches its price and reputation,” writes the Fine Champagne Magazine.

 Everything in Armand de Brignac Champagne speaks of quality.

While Mr. Cattier traced the family's winemaking roots as far back as 1763, the actual winery was founded by Mr. Cattier's grandfather after World War I, producing such boutique Champagnes as Clos du Moulin. 

Today, the brand produced by Champagne Cattier is owned in partnership by New York City-based Sovereign Brands an became the Holy Grail of Champagne by a stroke of luck: An appearance in the rapper Jay-Z's  music video of "Show Me What You Got" prior to the launch of the Armand de Brignac brand,  following his public fallout with the makers of Cristal.   At a Monte Carlo card table Jay-Z refuses a bottle of Cristal and approves instead a resplendent gold bottle of Armand de Brignac with a raised-pewter logo in the shape of the ace of spades.

The stunning opaque metallic gold bottle with the Ace of Spade label made of real pewter, polished and applied by hand, originally developed by Cattier for the André Courrèges fashion house and served at Queen Elizabeth II of England's Golden Jubilee celebration, looks resplendent in its lavish black velvet lined black lacquer box.

 However, refinement and exclusivity are in the contents as well.

ace of spadesArmand de Brignac Brut Gold, Champagne, France, ($303.99).   First released in 2006, the Prestige Cuvée is a multi-vintage blend of  33% Pinot Noir (strength and structure), 33% Chardonnay (elegance and finesse), 33% Pinot Meunier (roundness, nuance, and fruity and floral fragrance)from villages rated Grand Crus and Premier Crus of La Marne, one of Champagne’s historic terroirs. The wine is treated, every step of the lengthy process,  as a priceless treasure of the Champagne tradition.    

A shimmering yellow color with small and tight bubbles, Armand de Brignac is a bold and powerful wine, well-balanced,  marvelously complex and full-bodied, with a bouquet that is both fresh and lively. Its sumptuous, racy fruit character is perfectly integrated with aromas of freshly-baked brioche and chalk, along with intense acidity.  Its texture is deliciously creamy and the palate has great depth and impact with a long and silky finish. It should develop well with several years of bottle age   

Armand de Brignac's Champagnes are marketed as flagship cuvées in selected markets. They are produced in a multi-vintage style (like Krug's Grande Cuvée) as opposed to the vintage prestige cuvées of some other Champagne houses (including Louis Roederer's Cristal and Moët et Chandon's Dom Perignon).

Two other cuvées, a Rosé and a Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) were released in 2008. Bottles of Armand de Brignac have appeared in several music videos, sometimes referenced as "Ace of Spades" in song lyrics.

dsc08164 case


To Enjoy Champagne, Treat it like Beer

Champagne may be a symbol of life at the top, but it is best poured into a tilted glass just like that other sparkling beverage, the plebeian beer, according to a new study.

That’s because the bubbles — or dissolved carbon dioxide — in Champagne release its aroma and cause a tingly feeling that heightens the drinking experience. The higher the concentration of bubbles, the better.

The best way to keep the bubbles in the beverage, as any beer drinker knows, is to let the liquid tumble gently down the side of a tilted glass.

When Champagne is poured into a glass held vertically, it loses twice the amount of bubbles, said Gerard Liger-Belair, the study’s lead author and a physicist at the University of Reims, in the heart of France’s Champagne region.

“There is more turbulence and more motion in the liquid in a vertical pour,” Dr. Liger-Belair said. “When you tilt the glass the liquid invades the glass with less force.”

The scientists measured bubbles in glasses of Champagne poured in the traditional way and in the beerlike way at three different temperatures.

They found that the loss of bubbles is further minimized when Champagne is served chilled.

Science, however, may not be enough to change the way a nation pours a drink.

“It would be very provocative to pour Champagne in this way for many French,” Dr. Liger-Belair said. “Champagne is a universe which is very traditionally bent.”

The study is published in The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


barista-wineWe all talk about how wine tastes; ripe cherry and red fruit, hints of chocolate and mint, tobacco and leather for reds.  And for whites, citrus, honeysuckle, tropical fruit, and even cat pee!

But mocha or java?

At the historic wine estate Val de Vie which has produced wines since 1825 on the Berg River in the Western Cape in South Africa, no one is hinting or alluding; they call things by their name and labeled their 2009 Pinotage Barista because of the wine’s intense, rich coffee and chocolate aromas.  The term ‘barista’ comes from Italian and refers to a person trained in the art of making fine espresso drinks with fancy designs from the froth of milk,  a professional with a comprehensive understanding of coffee and coffee blending.    

The man behind it, Managing Director at Val de Vie Wines Bertus Fourie, a.k.a. ‘Starbucks’, says that the Barista Pinotage 2009 is the top ‘coffee pinotage’ he has yet produced: “Ever since I first stumbled across this ferment in 2001, with its distinct coffee and chocolate aromas and flavors, I have been improving this unique style of wine. The Barista Pinotage 2009 is undoubtedly my best ‘coffee pinotage’ to date and I can see this wine improving even more.”

Barista Pinotage 2009 is made in the Robertson Winery from 100% Pinotage grapes from the Robertson district where the vines grown in dark, deep-red soils - usually Glenrosa and Oakleaf - yield the best grapes for this style of wine.

But where do the coffee aromas come from? According to Bertus, “This is the magic and the mystery. What we do know for certain is they are a combination of a specific yeast strain, specific toasting, specific oak type and of course, pinotage grapes… only pinotage grapes produce these coffee flavors.”

Val de Vie Pinotage 2009, South Africa, $14.99 The dark red, full-bodied  wine has intense, rich coffee and chocolate aromas with ripe nuances of red berries, the pleasant tartness of plum skin with a touch of cranberry and pomegranate (some say also Maraschino cherries); it has ripe luscious tannins and it is  food friendly. It pairs well with meats: lamb, pork and game, is deliciouis with cheeses, fruit and desserts such as Bertus’s favorite dessert; a blue cheese filled brandy snap with Belgian chocolate and roasted  coffee beans.   Like many South African wines, the bottle comes with a screwcap.  


    j pinot gris

rancho zabaco 

casa silva 

masi_masiancovilla maria -sav-blanc-m-nv 

I like reds. But this summer I gravitate towards lighter, fruitier, crispier whites whether it is to stave off hunger or quench the weariness of the day; as a reward to a muscle-tearing work out.  They are ideal to complement a summer meal and to have at hand if one of your friends drops by unannounced.

Whites are normally consumed young and while bursting with flavor or elegantly beguiling with hints of the most delicious things on earth, depending on their degree of acidity they are easy to pair with all types of foods.

Here are some wines I keep in the refrigerator :


2008 J Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Gris, Sonoma ($16) bright tropical fruit and delicate notes of pear, apple and honeysuckle. Opulent texture and balanced, crisp acidity make this a delicious wine to pair with a wide variety of foods. 

2008 Rancho Zabaco Russian River Valley Reserve Sauvignon Blanc ($18) Intense aromas of citrus, cut grass with ripe peach and tropical fruit with a touch of minerality. Elegant and crisp with a long finish.

2009 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marloborough Riesling, New Zealand ($19.99) Delicate lemon and lime citrus with hints or orange blossom and a crisp acidity pairs well with Asian cuisines and seafood.

 2009 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Marloborough Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand ($19.99) Intense and lively with aromas of citrus, melon and passion fruit . Grilled seafood, Asian dishes and Mediterranean salads.

2009 Casa Silva Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($12)    Expressive and elegant on the nose, with lovely aromas of citrus, gooseberry and banana aromas. Round and balanced on the palate, with citric, mineral and melon,  slight grassiness on the finish, this wine is crisp and thirst-quenching, but with some real intensity and is very well-suited for light first courses such as oysters, shrimps or salmon carpaccio. It also complements main courses such as seasoned fish and Mediterranean salad or it can be enjoyed on a warm summer evening, either on its own or with light cheeses.  

2009 Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio/Verduzzo delle Venezie, Italy ($15)  Masianco balances the clean, white fruit and citric acidity of Pinot Grigio with the complex, buttery, tropical fruit notes of Verduzzo. Intense and fragrant floral bouquet with fruity notes of pineapple, pear, banana, peaches and a delicate hazelnut note on the surprisingly long finish from the Verduzzo. Easy to pair with summer dishes.






Les Deux Rives
Val d’Orbieu, Corbières, France
by Simone Zarmati Diament
corbieres roseAnyone who has ever spent a late summer afternoon sipping rosé on the banks of the Canal du Midi, watching the boats glide by, can’t possibly ignore that the canal that was built in the late 1600’s by the Great King Louis XIV to connect the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic. Nor that it was the most important route of transportation for the wines of Languedoc-Roussillon to Northern France and to the rest of Europe. Nor that the Languedoc Roussillon, in the south-west of Provence along the Mediterranean sea and near the Pyrenées mountains, is the largest producer of wine in France.
You only have to drive through the highway cutting through the fields of wheat interspersed with vineyards and more vineyards flourishing on soft hill slopes under the summer heat to understand that this huge region produces an almost infinite selection of native and international grapes in an equally infinite variety of microclimates.
From Corbières, which has the latest vineyards to be discovered for their quality, come the fresh, easy to drink, young wines of  “Les Deux Rives – easily recognizable from the label, a 1920 sepia postcard of the Canal du Midi. These AOC wines are made from Syrah, Cinsealt, Carignan, Grenache and Mourvèdre for the reds and rosés, and Marsanne Maccabeu and Grenache Blanc for the whites.
2009 Les Deux Rives AOC Corbières Rosé, Fontfroide ($8.99) Cinsault (15%), Syrah (35%) and Grenache (50 %). Tender pink, Pomelo shade. Nice nose, bouquet of small and elegant berries. Bright cherry, raspberry and currant flavors. Well behaved and a beautiful amplitude with a nice length, aromas of fresh fruits with a final ginger and spice note.  One couldn’t dream of a most appropriate wine for a sultry Miami summer. 87 points in  The Wine Spectator .
2008 Val d'Orbieu Les Deux Rives Corbiéres Rouge, ($9.99)  The 2007 version of this Corbieres was one  the value finds of the year last year.  Juicy, direct, versatile and food friendly, it is made from Carignan (10%), Mourvedre (20%), Syrah (30%) and Grenache (40%) that are all fermented separately and then blended and matured in tank, this is once again bright, expressive and guilt free.  There's no need to spend more on an inferior Côtes du Rhône with this spice-inflected blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan.   Enjoy this bistro-styled red with simply prepared meals such as savory lamb with couscous or pork loin-spiked ratatouille.  




Two  Gems from Chile
Expressive and Elegant, they are also affordable
by Simone Zarmati Diament
casa silvaOne of the most awarded Chilean winery in international competitions, Casa Silva was founded in 1892 by French wine pioneer Emile Bouchon and is now owned by his descendants, Mario Silva and family - the fifth generation of winemakers.  But it’s only since 1997 that the Silva family produces fine wines, having sold them in bulk until then.
Many of the vines planted in the Colchagua Valley, 90 miles south of the Capital Santiago, with the Andes range on the east and near the Pacific Coast, are over 90 years old, carried over by the first generation from pre-phylloxera Bordeaux.  As a result the wines produced there are full flavored and rich.
The 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Reserva and the 2008 Carmenère Reserva, Chile’s signature grape, have been released. These two affordable wines are a great value for the outstanding quality they offer.,.
2009 Casa Silva Sauvignon Blanc Reserva, Colchagua Valley, Chile ($12) One of the best known "international" varieties originally cultivated in France in the Loire Valley,  Sauvignon Blanc has become a  leading white grape varietal in the New World, namely New Zealand, South Africa and California. It is now Chile’s star white wine and it can compete with the best!    I was astonished and thrilled when I tasted this delicious Sauvignon Blanc! Expressive and elegant on the nose, with citrus, gooseberry and banana aromas. Round and balanced on the palate, with citric, mineral and melon,  slight grassiness on the finish, this wine is crisp and thirst-quenching, but with some real intensity and is very well-suited for light first courses such as oysters, shrimps or salmon carpaccio. It also complements main courses such as seasoned fish and Mediterranean salad or it can be enjoyed on a warm summer evening, either on its own or with light cheeses. Annual production 10,000 cases
2008 Casa Silva Carmenere Reserva, Colchagua, Chile  ($12)   Casa Silva Carmenere Reserva is a beautiful expression of the Carmenere grape that is now flourishing in Chile.   This Carmenere is without a doubt a   gem! Deep red/purple in color with complex aromas of blackberries, plums, chocolate, toffee, white pepper and spice  this big red is full in bodfull-bodied, powerful yet elegant. On the palate, it is round and mouth-filling with sweet tannins and a gorgeous balance between fruit and French oak. Aged 50% in French oak for 7 months. Hand-harvested and sorted. On the finish, it is long and rich.  Drink over the next 5-7 years with roast beef, steak, meat empanadas,  aged cheeses.


villaantinori_1Since 1385, twenty-six generations of Antinori have devoted their lives to winemaking, taking innovative and pioneering steps, but always maintaining a profound link to tradition and to the land.  While ancient roots have played (and still do) an important role in the Antinori winemaking philosophy, every vintage is a new beginning.

The three new wines from the producer of iconic Tignanello, are now available in the U.S. market. They classic Antinori wines made for the table and will complement a broad range of foods.

2009 Villa Antinori Bianco Toscana IGT $14.  Villa Antinori Bianco was first released with the 1931 vintage by Niccolò Antinori, Piero Antinori’s father.  This is a pale straw-yellow color wine, fresh, well-balanced and crispy.  The 2009 offering is a blend of 70% Trebbiano and Malvasia with 30% Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio with 12% alcohol content.  

2006 Villa Antinori Rosso Toscana IGT $23. Villa Antinori Rosso was first introduced in 1928 as the first Chianti specifically produced to improve with age.  Each varietal in this wine is grown in the best terroir for it and is then vinified separately: 12 months in wood and eight months in bottle.  The Sangiovese (55%) comes from the family’s estates in Chianti Classico and Montalcino, while the Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), Merlot (15%) and Syrah (5%) are from the estate vineyards in Bolgheri.  Elegant and refined in style, this wine is great with any kind of food, from pastas -  namely pasta with wild boar sauce the Tuscans are so well-known for -  to meats and venison.

 2007 Pèppoli Chianti Classico DOCG $27   2007 was a great year for wine in Italy.  Pèppoli represents modern Chianti Classico. The wine combines the complexity and structure of a well-aged Riserva with the rich fruit and fragrance of a young wine.   A blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot and Syrah, the wine is produced on the Antinori’s Pèppoli Estate, is aged 9 months in oak and  spends time in boittle before being released.  With intense aromas of red berries and hints of chocolate, this full-bodied wine has soft tannings and a long and lingering finish.  It is best to drink young.

 Prosecco- the 44th DOCG of Italy

by John Salvi, Master of Wine for


To celebrate the promotion of prosecco to DOCG status on April 1, 2010 , The Vino in Villa Festival had organised a tasting of every single one of all the DOCGs from all over Italy.  There were 44 of them (48 wines in all - some of them were magnificent ).   The other tasting was a comprehensive and enormous tasting of the entire range of Prosecco wines, CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE, by 76 producers, big and small, from the 101 hillsides.  Nearly 300 wines in total were there to taste, with all the 2009s, fizzing gently and nestling in their ice buckets. 

Making of Prosecco

All Prosecco is made by the “Charmat” method, which has been perfected at the Oenological School of Conegliano.  Apart from the Prosecco grape, also known as Glera, which must comprise 85% minimum of the wine, the other 15% may comprise Verdiso, Perera, Bianchetta and Glera Lunga.  DOCG exists in three styles: Brut 0-12 grams sugar/litre, Extra Dry 12-17 grams and Dry 17-32 grams. The “Spumante” version may use the Pinot and Chardonnay varieties to the maximum of 15%. The DOCG has a maximum permitted yield of 13.5 Tons/Hectare and Spumante 13.0 Tons/Hectare, whilst the great Cartizze is only allowed 12 Tons/Hectare.

A few statistics about CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE.  The production area is limited to the 15 communes between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene.  This comprises 6,100 hectares of vineyards, with the super special Cartizze covering 106.  There are over 3,000 viticulturists, 1,500 Winemaking Professionals and 250 oenologists.  There are 166 producers of Sparkling Wine.  The 2009 production was 60,840,000 bottles of which 51,656,000 were Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG.  Cartizze produced 1,299,000 bottles.  Finally the total number of bottles of CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE exported was 52,955,000 bottles and the total retail value of the product 380 million Euros;

Fortunately we had three days in which to taste and to visit any properties that we desired.  It was not too much but it was enough.  I tasted 120 CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE and all 44 DOCGs, as well as visiting 7 vineyards.

In addition to all this, close by in Conegliano some 5 kilometres distant, was a sensational art exhibition of the artist Cima’s works, a 16th Century Master from Conegliano itself.  This was organised by Artematica at the Palazzo Sarcinelli and was breathtaking in its beauty.


What is DOCG and what is the difference between this and DOC, especially as this is what we were celebrating?  It is not simple but I will try to make it so.  Prosecco dates from 1876, when the first Oenological School in Italy was founded in Conegliano. There are over 360 DOCs throughout Italy.  Prosecco was given DOC status in 1969 and, as said above, promoted to DOCG status on 1st April 2010.  The original Prosecco wine, from the Prosecco grape, has been produced for over 300 years in those hills of the CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE. 

Fifteen communes lying between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene are allowed this appellation.  At the heart of them lies Cartizze, a hill with 106 hectares of vines, that is right at the top of the quality pyramid. The wine that currently carries the appellation IGT from 9 provinces (Treviso, Belluno, Venice, Padua, Vicenza, Udine, Pardenone, Trieste, and Gorizia) will become Prosecco DOC.  Thus, under the new law, Prosecco will become entirely synonymous with a wine carrying a Denominazione di Origine (DOC) and NOBODY outside the delimited areas may use the name Prosecco.  Prosecco today has become world famous as a wine rather than as a grape.  For this reason, although the CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE producers would have liked to drop it and use their CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE appellation only, they are not doing so for the moment for fear of losing sales. 

Rules for DOCG

DOCG wines are subject to draconian rules and restrictions, much more so than DOCs.  The wine MUST be bottled INSIDE the delimited zone of production and all bottles MUST be approved and carry the Italian State Strip across the neck of the bottle.  Furthermore all these strips are numbered and it will be impossible to sell false CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE in future.  As of now the hierarchy will be: DOCG Valdobbiadene Superiore de Cartizze (from that one hill); DOCG CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE (from the 15 communes) and Colli Asolani Prosecco Superiore (an associated region of production); DOC Prosecco (from the 9 provinces stated above). 

The setting for the entire event was the magnificent, 13th century, fortified but ruined, castle of San Salvatore, belonging to the 5 daughters of Prince Collalto.  The title of Prince lapsed on the death of their father 5 years ago, since there was no male heir.  The 5 daughters are therefore Countesses.  I spent a delightful afternoon with the Countess, who runs the 1,300 hectare estate together with one of her brothers in law.  Since one sister went alone with all the 150 hectares of vineyards, she has planted 60 of her own and her Pinot Grigio is delicious. 

She farms cows, pigs and 120 water buffalo.  She butchers her own cattle, sells her own meat and salami and makes delicious mozzarella from the water buffalo milk.  The estate may be ancient but the countess is resolutely modern and transforms the buffalo waste product (manure) into biogas, which is then transformed into electricity and sold to the Italian National Grid.  13th century the castle may be, but the farming is resolutely 21st!  The Collalto family also owns another even older castle across the valley dating from the 11th century.  Both castles were ruined after the massive 1917 bombing and today she lives in a house on the property, converted from one of the old ones inhabited by the former vassals of the family. 

The entire event was superlatively well organised by Silvia Baratta of Gheusis SRL. Unipersonale (who also manages Nebbiolo Prima) and Giulia Pussini from the Consorzio per la Tutela del Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG.  They, and their entire team, together with the chefs, sommeliers and numerous willing assistants, are to be warmly congratulated on a fabulously successful event, and deeply thanked for their warm hospitality, generosity, friendliness, kindness, efficiency and charm.  NOBODY who was there can ever forget that CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE is now Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita.  Thank you everybody!  This is an event that MUST continue.   





Translated by Simone Zarmati Diament,

Alberto Arizu, owner of Luigi Bosca Winery in Argentina, has been appointed chairman of Wines of Argentina , an association of Argentine wineries and exporters.Listen to an interview with Alberto Arizu on FOOD & WINE TALK

 In an interview with La Nación,Argentina, he explains the position of Argentine wine in the world and what are the challenges for the next two years.

interviews  videos june 22

What is the possition of Argentine wines abroad today?

Argentina is in great shape and has a strong position in key markets like the United States. Argentine wines were able to gain ground in the US because of the economic crisis, as a result of  which U.S. consumers were reluctant to buy high-priced European wines. We were offering a high quality product at reasonable prices.

We  are launching a major study of international markets, to assess how the brand Argentina  is positioned in markets where it is not as well established and recognized as in the  U.S., Japan, England or China.

Will Argentina continue to promote the Malbec or will it be opening the game to other varieties?

Argentina has not only found in  Malbec a wonderful and a great wine, but it represents Argentina.  Thanks to Malbec,  the world associates quality with that variety; and this has been essential  to position our country.   Probably Malbec will go on carrying  the message for  many more years,  but I think Argentina should begin now (and in fact we are doing so) to explore other categories and varieties of wines. We have to show that our country has a great capacity for diversity and a great range of standards.

However, our  Malbec will continue to be the standard bearer of Argentina. We must keep up the prestige it has acquired and we have to keep working. Other countries are jumping on the bandwagon:  incredibly, one of them is France. Therefore while we mustn’t  lose focus on something that has given us so much prestige, we mustn’t waste an opportunity to communicate the other assets that Argentina can offer to international consumers.

From the existing brand Argentina how do you plan to promote the fact that the country has different  terroirs?

This is one of the main issues we are beginning to research, based on the study of recognition in each country. Already, there are markets where the brand Argentina is well recognized enough to begin to move to the next level, which is to promote  the attributes of other terroirs. Ours is a country with a great diversity of soils and climates, it is a long corridor on the mountain range of Los Andes, which has many thousands of kilometers, which means a difference of latitudes and significant temperature variations that match the main wine production centers in the world.  This is a  great treasure, Argentina has to communicate the attributes that occur within these regions.

The consumer knows Mendoza, Salta, La Rioja, San Juan, Neuquén, Catamarca ... What's next then? Today, talking about Mendoza to wine connaisseurs is not enough. Mendoza is region that has five well-defined oases.  And in each of these oases are small subregions which are also well defined. So when one speaks of Malbec, one must ask from what area? This warrants a thorough study, which we have already begun. The Denomination of Origin Lujan de Cuyo anticipated this in 1989.

So you aim at a more sophisticated communication in every market ... ?

Deeper rather than more sophisticated.  To explain that each region is a world in itself and that both the latitudes and altitudes give the wines certain characteristics. This is what we want to communicate.  We have to let people know that a variety in a certain region has different characteristics than the same variety in another region.

Your mandate is for two years.  What would you like to achieve from here to 2012?

I hope that in the next two years we will be the fifth main wine exporting country. Today we are ninth, if we get to be the seventh or perhaps the sixth, that too would be a major step towards the goal.

Wines of Argentina is a tool, but we are all accountable because all of us are winemakers and entrepreneurs. Argentina will go on to improve its international position to the extent that our offer will get  better and better. The goal is to reach 2 billion dollars in bottled wine, against 600 million we have today. We have to create a good brand and export value.

 Malbec Vineyard in winter,   Dominio del Plata, Susan Balbo's winery, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina (photo SFG)

FOR the last few years the wine business has been riddled with dire warnings and disastrous portents. In the United States and around the world, producers have struggled with the bad economy and the sluggish market. One slender segment, seemingly alone, has not only weathered the storm but also prospered: malbec from Argentina.

How can this be? Easy. It’s the right sort of wine at the right kind of price.

Argentina is pumping out a river of malbec, and it has been flying off the shelves at an astounding rate. Since 2005, shipments of Argentine malbec to the United States have quintupled, to nearly 3.15 million cases in 2009 from about 628,000 cases in 2005, according to figures from Wines of Argentina, a trade group.

While Argentine malbecs can run to much more than $100 a bottle, those aren’t the ones flowing out of the stores. Sales have been pushed upward by demand for inexpensive bottles.

Unlike European wines, whose prices have been driven up by the weakness of the dollar in relation to the euro, Argentine malbecs have benefited from the strength of the dollar against the Argentine peso. With prices remaining stable, many Americans see Argentine malbecs as great values.

But what about the wines themselves? The wine panel recently tasted 20 bottles of malbec from the Mendoza region, Argentina’s leading wine-producing area. Florence Fabricant and I were joined by Brett Feore, the beverage director at Apiary in the East Village, and Kristie Petrullo, the beverage director at Craft in the Flatiron district.

About two years ago, we did a tasting of malbecs costing $25 or less. We found those wines pleasing and amiable, and I have had no cause to think our opinion of malbecs in that price range would have changed. For this tasting, we set a price cap of $50 a bottle. That’s clearly more than what most people are spending on malbecs, but we wanted to see what a higher price bought.

We did not forsake the lower end; 10 of the 20 bottles were $25 or less. So what do you get when you spend more? Well-made wines with a little more polish and sleekness than the cheaper bottles, for one thing, and a little more richness and intensity.

Over all, these wines were juicy and straightforward, emphasizing fruit flavors with occasional nuances. They were consistent, generally unchallenging and crowd-pleasing. In short, what’s not to like?

That really depends on your point of view. Malbecs’ emphasis on soft, ripe fruitiness over more polarizing flavors and their velvety textures make them safe and reliable for people who may be unsure of their tastes. Some of the wines we opened were a little more ripe and jammy, while others were spicier and more linear. But these were small divergences in what was largely a uniform set of characteristics.

This leads us to the same paradoxical, underwhelming conclusion we reached after the last malbec tasting: part of the reason malbecs are so popular is that they are not displeasing. In other words, their consistent profile is a virtue, especially for people who do not appreciate being surprised or challenged by a wine. The genre itself has become a brand.

“Malbecs are bringing attention to wine,” Kristie said. “They make people who are not really interested in wine drink wine. They order malbec — they don’t really care which one.”

From a marketing perspective, Argentina has achieved an enviable position. These days, malbec sings out Argentina as clearly as do grass-fed beef and Eva Perón. Forget that malbec was brought over in the 19th century from France, where it’s still grown, primarily in Cahors and in the Loire Valley. Argentina owns it now.

“Argentina has done a really good job of positioning itself,” Brett said.

Of the 10 bottles costing $25 or less, only 4 made our list of 10 favorites. Our top five wines were all $36 or over.

Our No. 1 wine was the 2006 Alfa Crux from O. Fournier, an inviting, balanced wine that may seem a bit simple now but will, I think, gain in complexity over the next few years. The Alfa Crux comes from grapes grown in the Uco Valley, at an elevation of almost 4,000 feet. The Uco Valley is quite a bit south of Luján de Cuyo in central Mendoza, the home of our No. 2 wine, the 2007 Viña 1924 de Angeles. The Viña 1924 was smooth and polished with pleasing floral and mineral accents enhancing its potent fruit flavors.

The consistency we found in these wines applies, of course, to those we liked. We rejected bottles dominated by oak flavors and those that seemed manipulated, resulting in cloying, sweet wines with power but no more structure than grape juice.

Like our top two, the other wines we liked showed admirable balance, and just enough accents to the core of fruit flavors to keep our interest. Malbecs from two of the bigger names in Argentina showed well. The 2005 Viña Francisco Olivé from Trapiche had bright, spicy flavors to offset its jamminess, while the 2006 Catena Alta from Catena Zapata was fresh, mellow and pure.

As with all our top five, these wines are by no means inexpensive. Yet compared with, say, Napa cabernet sauvignons in a similar price range they are very good values. Our best value, at $23, was our No. 6 wine, the 2007 Signature from Susana Balbo, fresh with touches of spice and licorice.

As the outdoor cooking season gets under way in earnest, with its plethora of grilled and roasted meats, malbecs would make fine choices. I tend to think of them the way I did of zinfandels, before so many zinfandels became top-heavy with alcohol. They are likable and powerful enough in their own right. And if you served them slightly cool, as Florence suggested, well, then you have a fine summer party wine.

Tasting Report: Making a French Wine Their Own

O. Fournier Mendoza Malbec 2006, $45, ★★ ★ (Three Stars) Alfa Crux Valle de Uco Juicy, balanced and well knit; should gain complexity with age. (Tempranillo, New Rochelle, N.Y.)

 Viña 1924 De Angeles 2007, $36, ★★★ (Three Stars) Mendoza Luján de Cuyo Gran Malbec Smooth and balanced, with pleasing violet and mineral flavors. (V.O.S. Selections, New York)

 Belasco de Baquedano 2006, $39 ★★ ½ (Two and a Half Stars) Mendoza Swinto, Balanced and complex with spicy, herbal touches. (Cabernet Corporation, Novato, Calif.)

 Trapiche Mendoza 2005, $44 ★★ ½ (Two and a Half Stars) Viña Francisco Olivé , Supple fruit though a trifle jammy, with bright, spicy accents. (Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York)

 Catena Zapata Mendoza Catena Alta 2006, $50 ★★ ½ (Two and a Half Stars) Fresh, pure and harmonious with mellow aromas of raspberries and spices. (Winebow, New York)


dsc05602susana balbo

Susana Balbo at her winery, Dominio del Plata, Mendoza, Argentina (photo SFG)


Susana Balbo Mendoza Signature 2007, $23 ★★ ½ (Two and a Half Stars) Clean and fresh with flavors of dark fruit, spices and licorice. (Vine Connections, Sausalito, Calif.)

Renacer Mendoza Punto 2006, $18 ★★ (Two Stars) Final Reserva Simple but pleasant with aromas of fruit, licorice and oak. (Winebow)

 Goulart Mendoza 2007, $25  ★★ (Two Stars) The Marshall Tannic, with aromas of soft, jammy fruit and coffee. (Southern Starz, Huntington Beach, Calif.)

 Rutini Mendoza 2007, $16 ★★ (Two Stars) Balanced and spicy with flavors of red fruit and licorice. (Pasternak Wine Imports, Harrison, N.Y.)

 Viña Cobos Mendoza Bramare 2007,$48 ★★ (Two Stars) Rich and soft with aromas of blueberries, oak and flowers. (Paul Hobbs Imports, Sebastopol, Calif.)



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