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South American Reds — QPR You Can Trust

Too often I’m reminded of just how circumscribed my wine drinking habits can become at times. Circumscribed? Maybe narrow is a better word. When I find myself enjoying a bargain Bordeaux or something interesting from South Africa, I ask myself, “why am I not drinking more wines like these?” Well, it happened again recently when I […]

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2014 Markus Wine Whites

When wine drinkers see the word Lodi they almost always think of zinfandel first. No surprise, really, given the number of top-notch varietals coming out of that area. What these same aficionados might not realize, and most regular consumers are largely unaware of, is that there are a number of fine white wines coming out […]

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The learning started soon after everyone-- mostly wine buyers and directors, with a few media types --  arrived, with a vintage lineup of the winery's Royal Cuvee -- 1987, 1990,1995, 2001, and 2007 -- a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay. We came to understand the wines from several angles, including weather during growing season, blend percentages of chardonnay and pinot noir, winemaker decisions, and, of course, ageability. While I agreed with other participants that the 1987 was a delicious and intriguing wine, I was one of the few there who championed the youngest of the bunch, a heady, biscuity, and youthful wine, with an elegant body and robust flavors. It was a fascinating tasting session, one that gave me new appreciation for what took place at Gloria Ferrer. If they were looking turn us into fans, they were off and running. What goes best with good wine? Good food!

Hands-On Learning

When I was invited a few weeks back to participate in Gloria Ferrer‘s annual Hands-On Harvest, I accepted immediately, but with some reservation. I’ve been to Gloria Ferrer many times over the years since it opened its doors in 1986 as the first sparkling house in Carneros. I have taken friends and family there countless […]

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2013 Jordan Chardonnay

Maybe you’re a big fan of chardonnay. And maybe you’ve heard friends who are a bit ahead of you in the wine game talking about things called Chablis and Burgundy, but you really don’t know much about those wines. What you do know is that wines from those places can often be expensive. Still, you’d […]

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What Are You Waiting For?

The next time I hear somebody complain that Napa is too commercialized, too touristy, I know what my response is going to be. Two words: Stony Hill. Want to shed some of the creeping cynicism that’s starting to cloud your appreciation of the Napa Valley? A visit to Stony Hill will take you back to a Napa that existed before the […]

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A Bit Of Bordeaux In Napa

If you’re a lover of American wine, and eager to know more about its upper echelon, then a visit to Spottswoode is a must. Long regarded as one of the top producers of cabernet sauvignon in the Napa Valley, Spottswoode draws favorable comparisons to the top chateaux in Bordeaux, where, in the wineries along the Left Bank of […]

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Head To The South Of France

A few years ago I worked in a fine wine shop in the town where I live. The inventory was about 80% or more European, but geared intentionally towards the more attractive price ranges, those numbers where the vast majority of customers felt most comfortable. One of the labels that moved continually was a $10 […]

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Now Where Was I?

I was talking about a wine book and then the holidays rolled around and that was that for a while. Then I thought The Grape Belt needed a new look, and that’s dragged its own silly behind for way too long. Now I’m at the point where we – the entire TGB staff — all […]

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In The Shade Of Historical Napa

You can’t be familiar with the better producers in the Napa Valley and not know the name Sequoia Grove. But there’s knowing, and then there’s knowing. It wasn’t until recently, when I came across a few bits of Napa Valley history that described the winery’s 19th century roots, that I decided I wanted to know more about Sequoia Grove. To […]

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