Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.




Chateau Margene 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Chateau Margene 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $76

Rating: 14.5/20

Region: Paso Robles, California

Varietals: 86 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 9 percent Cabernet Franc & 5 percent Merlot

Production: 326 cases

Alcohol: 14.9 percent

Tasting Notes: Michael and Margene Mooney founded Chateau Margene in 1997. They planted their six-acre Paso Robles estate vineyard in 1998 and built a winery in 2001. Chateau Margene produces about 3,000 cases annually, devoted exclusively to Cabernet Sauvignon and other red Bordeaux varietals. The 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a well-liked, sophisticated offering for the region. Elegant and balanced, it boasts concentrated, ripe black fruit Continue reading “Chateau Margene 2010 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – Wine of the Week Review” »

Chacewater 2011 Sierra Foothills Merlot

Chacewater 2011 Sierra Foothills Merlot

Price: $20

Rating: 13/20

Region: Sierra Foothills, California

Varietals: 91 percent Merlot, 6 percent Cabernet Sauvignon & 3 percent Cabernet Franc

Production: 672 cases

Alcohol: 13.9 percent

Tasting Notes: Chacewater is named for the village in Cornwall, England, where Paul Manuel’s ancestors lived. He started Chacewater in 1988 by planting a vineyard in the Sierra Foothills and selling his grapes to Fetzer. In 2004, he bought an olive mill and built a winery in Lake County. Today, Chacewater makes dozens of red and white varietal wines, olive oils and handmade soaps. The winery, olive mill, vineyards, and olives are certified organic by California Certified Continue reading “Chacewater 2011 Sierra Foothills Merlot – Wine of the Week Review” »

Bordeaux Under One Roof

on January 16th, 2014
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Guests enjoy a variety of wines from France's Bordeaux region


by Michelle Kwan


Bordeaux, France, stands at the pinnacle of wine production. This region comprises more than 45,000 acres of Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) vines with over fifty appellations that yield Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, Cabernet Francs, Sauvignon Blancs and Semillions. Blends of these varietals have produced some of the finest wines in the world, making Bordeaux synonymous with superior wines. However, that doesn’t mean that all quality Bordeaux wines are unaffordable.

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La Rochelle 2012 Saralee's Vineyard Pinot Meunier

La Rochelle 2012 Saralee’s Vineyard Pinot Meunier

Price: $38

Rating: 15/20

Region: Russian River Valley, California

Varietal: 100 percent Pinot Meunier

Production: 866 cases

Alcohol: 13.9 percent

Tasting Notes: La Rochelle Winery is named after a town in France which Pierre Pellier sailed from in 1854 on his way to California. The founder of Mirassou Winery is known for introducing Pinot Noir to the Golden State. Fast-forward to the 2000s. Mirassou was sold to the Gallo family in 2002, and shortly after, sixth-generation descendants Daniel and Peter Mirassou started La Rochelle. In 2005, the brothers sold the brand to their cousin, Steven Kent Mirassou, who produces Continue reading “La Rochelle 2012 Saralee’s Vineyard Pinot Meunier – Wine of the Week Review” »

Prats & Symington 2011 Post Scriptum de Chryseia

Prats & Symington 2011 Post Scriptum de Chryseia

Price: $22

Rating: 14.5/20

Region: Douro, Portugal

Varietals: 56 percent Touriga Nacional, 30 percent Touriga Franca, 7 percent Tinta Barroca & 7 percent Tinta Roriz

Production: 6,000 cases

Alcohol: 13.9 percent

Tasting Notes: Although the dramatic, hilly landscape of Portugal’s Douro Valley is best known for its Port, the region produces just as much table wine as it does fortified wine. In 1999, the Symington family (owners of many Port brands, including Warre’s, Dow’s and Graham’s) partnered with Bordeaux winemaker Bruno Prats (formerly of Château Cos d’Estournel) in order to improve the quality of their table wines. They launched the flagship Chryseia label with the 2000 Continue reading “Prats & Symington 2011 Post Scriptum de Chryseia – Wine of the Week Review” »

Champagne Cattier Brut Blanc de Blancs Les Roses

Champagne Cattier Brut Blanc de Blancs Les Roses

Price: $105

Rating: 16/20

Region: Champagne, France

Varietal: 100 percent Chardonnay

Alcohol: 12.5 percent

Tasting Notes: The Cattier family have owned vineyards in Champagne since 1763, but it was not until 1918 that they began producing sparkling wines under their own name. (Since 2006, they have also produced the premium Armand de Brignac brand.) Designed as a tribute to the village of Chigny-les-Roses, where Maison Cattier is located, the Brut Blanc de Blancs Les Roses is a non-vintage offering packaged in a colorful floral bottle. On the nose, it boasts fragrant lemon and honeysuckle aromas. Dry and Continue reading “Champagne Cattier Brut Blanc de Blancs Les Roses – Wine of the Week Review” »

Champagne Devaux D 2002

Champagne Devaux D 2002

Price: $100

Rating: 15.5/20

Region: Champagne, France

Varietal: 50 percent Pinot Noir & 50 percent Chardonnay

Alcohol: 12 percent

Tasting Notes: Founded in 1846 by two brothers, Jules and Auguste Devaux, the brand remained in the family until 1987. At that time, Jean-Pol Auguste Devaux ensured that the brand would continue by giving it to the Union Auboise, a cooperative of Champagne growers located mostly in the Côtes des Bar. Devaux’s portfolio comprises a variety of Champagnes, including the Classiques, the Collection D and two made entirely from Pinot Noir. The house’s finest offering, the D Millésimé 2002 is composed of equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Aged seven to eight years on Continue reading “Champagne Devaux D 2002 – Wine of the Week Review” »

A True Library Wine

on December 16th, 2013
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Barney's Backyard 2008 Napa Valley Petite Sirah, Library Vineyard

Barney’s Backyard 2008 Napa Valley Petite Sirah, Library Vineyard

by Barnaby Hughes

The term “library wine” typically refers to a bottle that has been cellared, but I recently discovered a whole new kind of library wine. St. Helena Public Library (SHPL) in the Napa Valley has a small collection of 91 vines on its property. Planted in 2000, it is known as Barney’s Backyard, in honor of Bernard Rhodes, first President of the Wine Library Association. Barney’s Backyard complements the adjacent Library Vineyard, planted between 1880 and 1920. Turley Wine Cellars, which leases Library Vineyard, harvests and vinifies together the grapes from both vineyard plots. 

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Altadonna Prosecco Superior DOCG

Altadonna Prosecco Superior DOCG

Price: $27

Rating: 14/20

Region: Veneto, Italy

Varietal: 100 percent Glera

Alcohol: 11.5 percent

Tasting Notes: Named for Anna Altadonna, wife of winemaker Stefano Chioccioli and mother of his winemaker son Stefano, Altadonna sources grapes from top vineyards in Tuscany, Lombardy, Sicily and the Veneto. More specifically, the winery’s Prosecco Superiore DOCG comes from the prime growing region of Conegliano Valdobbiadene. Italy’s highest quality assurance label, DOCG translates as “Controlled Designation of Origin Guaranteed.” An extra dry sparkling wine, Altadonna Prosecco offers sweet lemon, apple and peach flavors with complex mineral notes Continue reading “Altadonna Prosecco Superiore DOCG – Wine of the Week Review” »



Searching the World for the Best, the Worst, the Outrageously Cheap, the Insanely Overpriced, and the Undiscovered

By Mike Veseth

(Rowman & Littlefield, 2013)

Extreme Wine by Mike Veseth

Extreme Wine by Mike Veseth

Mike Veseth has quite a penchant for writing books with expansive subtitles, which is extreme in itself. (His 2011 book on globalization was titled Wine Wars: The Curse of the Blue Nun, the Miracle of Two Buck Chuck, and the Revenge of the Terroirists.) It should also caution the reader that Veseth, despite being a wine economist, is not writing for an academic audience. Extreme Wine is written in the same chatty, informative style that Veseth uses in his popular Wine Economist blog.

Continue reading “Extreme Wine – Book Review” »

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