Three Things I Learned On My Recent Wine Tasting Trip to Piedmont

Mrs. Wine Guy and I just got back from tasting wine in the Piedmont region of Italy (North West Italy).  Beautiful part of the world with outstanding wine  They are known for Nebbiolo especially from Barolo and Barbaresco, Barbara, Dolcetto, and Moscato D'Asti.  If you get a chance go you will not regret it.

Three things I learned:

#1: Not all Barolo is created equal.

There are 11 sub-regions in Barolo.  Four of them (Cherasco, Verduno, Roddi and La Morra) have primarily sandy soil.  These tend to be aged in large neutral barrels so oak is not as apparent. Barolo from this area is fruitier, less tannic, and less complex than other sub-regions.   These are the areas that traditionalists believe produce the most accurate expression of what Barolo should be.

Another two sub-regions, Barolo and Novello, are grown in soil that is a combination of clay and sand. They provide a more balance between fruit and tannin and are more complex than the wines grown in only sandy soil.

The last 5…

Temecula Part IV

As is becoming our tradition Mrs. Wine Guy and I celebrated Valentines in Temecula California to do some wine tasting and relax.  This was our third consecutive Valentines, our fourth trip overall.

As we did last year we stayed at the Inn at Europa Village  The inn is a 10 room bed and breakfast run by Chef Dean Thomas and his wife Nicole.  The rooms are what you would expect from a B & B, the breakfasts are amazing, and the views are fantastic.  Chef Dean also prepared our amazing Valentines day dinner served in the cave room of the adjacent Europa Village Winery. You can click on a link of Chef Dean describing one of his breakfasts here, and describing his Valentine dinner here.

As far as wine tasting goes our overall impression is that wines from Temecula are overpriced, they plant vines as much if not more so that couples can get married at a vineyard than to produce great wine, the white wines are better than the red wines, and that the reds use lots of oak to cover up ordin…

Least Favorite Wines of 2016

I published my 10 best a few weeks ago and I was asked what my lest favorite wines I tasted in 2016 were.  I guess the good news was there were very few wines I truly hated but 3 of them really stood out.  Just to let you know I only included wines that tried to be good not mass market wines like Barefoot, Apothic, and Menage a Trois.  In descending order of terrible:

#3:  2014 Anakena Chardonnay (Chile)

Very little fruit, soapy tasting, overly acidic and a bitter finish. 72 Points. $10.

#2: 2013 Petals Riesling (Germany)

Cat Pee, Barn Yard and rotten fruit. If I made this wine I would get out of the business. Not good. 70 Points.  $9.  

#1 2013 Pillsbury Symphony Goddess (Arizona)

Ever buy a bottle of wine and say to your self "what was I thinking". This stuff has notes of rotting grass and soap suds. Unpleasant nose, unpleasant finish. Could be the worst bottle of wine I have ever had in my life (and yes I have had MD 20/20). 60 Points. $25.   

What are some of your wines that …

Top 10 Wines of 2016

Here is the list of my ten favorite wines I tasted in 2016

1)  2010 Binomio Montepulcian d'Abruzzo Riserva  $52 - 93 Points

Rich, silky, dark, plum, cherry, smooth tannin with the perfect fruit intensity. Wonderful with my veal chop

2) 2012 Ayoub Pinot Noir Thistle Vineyard $45 - 92 Points

Wonderful!! The perfect combination of cherry and earth. Very smooth with an outstanding finish. Wow!

3) 2011 Renieri Brunello di Montalcino $38 - 91 Points

Smooth and Lush, blueberry, dark stone fruit, and leather. Wonderful balance. Paired wonderfully with marinara sauce and Italian sausage.

4) 2012 Ayoub Pinot Noir Memoirs $45 - 91 Points 

Fruity but not jammy, smooth, medium body. Cherry with a hint of pepper at the finish. Nice!

5) 2013 Joesph Phelps Pinot Noir Freestone Vineyards $44 - 91 Points 

Outstanding wine that starts out a bit muted buy builds to an amazing finish. Red cherry, with a bit of leather and mushroom. Elegant and refined. Loved it.

6) 2013 Demetria Syrah Santa Ynez Valley $34…

Does Cost = Quality?

A lot of the questions I get asked are about the cost of a bottle of wine.  What makes a $40 wine worth $40?  Is a $50 wine twice as good as a $25 of wine?  How come two buck chuck is so cheap?
Let me first talk about the cost of wine.  A lot goes into the cost of a bottle of wine. 
First off the land that the grapes grow on impacts the price.  Using California as an example, an acre of land in Napa will cost several times what an acre of land in Livermore County costs.  The taxes on that land are also much greater.  That additional cost works it's way into the price of the wine. 
The cost of the grapes works its way into the price of a bottle of wine.  Because they are considered some of the best grapes in the world grapes grown in Napa are some of the most expensive grapes in the world.  Because they don't have much of a reputation grapes from Livermore county cost much less.  Really cheap wines like "Two Buck Chuck" buy bulk grapes or overstocked grapes from anywh…

Yes Virginia They Do Make Great Wine Outside of Napa and Sonoma

One of my favorite things about being a wine guy is making new discoveries and sharing those discoveries with others.   In order to make those discoveries I often need to get out of my comfort zone and drink wines I have never heard of from places I am not familiar with.   There is some risk associated with trying new things, I often taste wines that I do not like at all (a wine variety from Arizona called "Symphony" comes to mind), but finding new wines that I would have not otherwise enjoyed more than makes up for any bad experiences.   
Most of the time when I go out to dinner with friends, because the majority of our friends are not wine guys, they ask me to pick the wine.  Most of them only drink a few brands from California or play it safe by always ordering wine from Napa or Sonoma.  I can see the look of fear and bewilderment in their face when I end up ordering a white wine from Spain or a red wine from Washington State.  Napa and Sonoma make wonderful wines but what…

Temecula Part III

For Mrs. Wine Guy and I Temecula is sort of the Seven Eleven of wine regions. It is overpriced, the quality is mediocre, but since iis so darn convenient (only about 6 hours from home) we keep going back.  This was our third trip to the area if you want to find out about our first two trips you can click one of the following links:  Trip1, Trip2.

As convenient as it is for us it is only an hour or two from LA or San Diego so it is only a day trip for those folks.  Add to that the fact that most of the tasting rooms range from very nice to spectacular, there are great restaurants, the views are magnificent, and that many of the tasting rooms feature music and other entertainment, it is no wonder it is a lot of fun even if the wine is so so.

This trip  we visited Ponte, Baily, Robert Renzoni, and Oak Mountain for the first time, and revisited Wiens, SC Cellars, and Europa Village.  While we were not impressed with most of the wines there were a few standouts.    

Our first stop driving in…