Tournon Mathilda Victoria Shiraz

Written by Andres Montoya on .

tournon label

M. Chapoutier (Tournon) 2011
Victoria Shiraz "Mathilda"
Victoria, AUS

Just yesterday I discovered this instant classic! This has all the potential to make you yearn for Shiraz, 'the balanced, complex kind', all over again. A fabulous, deeply flavored wine, brooding with blackberry, cracked black pepper, cured bacon, fresh violets and baking spice. A blockbuster Shiraz with a 30+ second finish! Did I mention this is a sensational bargain? Drink now thru 2022.

Tasting Notes: Lail, Pride and Scarecrow

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Michael wines

(Editor's note: These are tasting notes from a local wine club.)

Lail Georgia sauvignon blanc has hints of white peaches and stone fruit.
Its winemaker is Philippe Melka who is one of the premier winemakers in
Napa Valley. Robin Lail's family started Inglenook winery, which her
father sold in the 1970s.

The Pride Reserve Claret is a blend of primarily merlot with some
cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon blended in. The vineyard
straddles the watershed separating Napa and Sonoma counties. The
vineyard is at an elevation of approximately 2000 feet and is above the
marine layer. The elevation allows for extended hang time. There were
definite notes of dark cherries and vanilla on the wine. The tannins
were very soft and the wine was supple on the palate.

Tor Kenward has been making wine since the 1980s. This version showed
the power of Napa Valley cabernets and matched very well with grilled
steaks. The wine had firm tannins and benefited from extended time in
the glass. There were definite flavors of cassis and black fruit.

M. Etain is the second wine from the cult winery Scarecrow. A reference
point on the winery is that a recent 5 case lot from Scarecrow sold at
Premier Napa Valley auction for $220,000. The winery owner spent
summers on the property while growing up in the fifties. Francis Ford
Coppola's property is adjacent Scarecrow vineyard. The wines are named
for the Wizard of Oz character as the property owner's grandfather was
involved in the production of the movie. The wine was very soft and
approachable. 2008 was a difficult vintage, but the wine was drinking
beautifully. Again, a great match for grilled steaks. The tannins had
softened and integrated. The wine was drinking well with flavors of
graphite, cherry and black fruit.


The Coravin Wine Preservation System

Written by Andres Montoya on .

coravin pic copyHere is a device that I believe will have us talking for many years to come. A truly revolutionary invention that will transform how fine wine is opened, enjoyed and sold. Just launched and introduced to the US Market last March (2013) by Greg Lambrecht, a medical device inventor with a passion for wine.

In case you haven't heard, Coravin is a new wine dispensing/preservation system that seems perfectly capable of making a huge impact in the way wine is consumed in this country, at least fine wine. By penetrating the cork in the bottle with a fine needle, Coravin is able to displace as much of the wine as you'd like to try by introducing inert gas in the bottle to take the liquid's place.

Corkage Service: BYOB The Right Way

Written by Andres Montoya on .

Wine bagBYOB - Bring Your Own Bottle – for both restaurants and patrons is a great concept that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Most restaurants allowing such a practice usually charge a corkage fee, normally ranging anywhere from $10 to $25, but may reach as high as $75 to $150 in some venues. Traditionally, the corkage fee is for the service given by the restaurant, to open, chill, decant, provide glassware, and serve the wine to its guests who brought a special bottle not available on the restaurant’s menu. However the higher corkage fees ($75 - $150) are often seen as a charge beyond service and a way to discourage guests from the BYOB idea because for the same money I’m sure you can find a very nice bottle of wine on the restaurant’s list. Some restaurants are more direct and will simply inform you that BYOB is not an option, while others won’t even know the meaning of “corkage.” BYOB has great potential to benefit both restaurants and consumers if both parties play a fair game, especially if you follow these industry manners:

Pairing Wine with Food This Spring

Written by Andres Montoya on .


BonannoCabernet Sauvignon, such as this BonAnno from the Wine Barn, complements spiced rack of lamb or grilled game.Spring is just around the corner and pairing a wine to an occasion is the first step into finding wines you will truly enjoy this upcoming season of spring breaks, Easter, mother’s day and graduations. Whether you are considering a light spring salad and grilled fish, or you are ready to impress your family and guests with a cooked to perfection rosemary roasted leg of lamb, or making your grandmother’s secret honey glazed ham for Easter, choosing the right wine will only enhance the flavors of your culinary creations without breaking the budget.

If you let the occasion take center stage, then you will find that matching wines with a particular dish or meal will be easier than you think, allowing you to enjoy the food more while learning more about the wine too. Consider these few basic guidelines to help you find the right match, as you continue to expand your food and wine horizons this year.

Body balancing matters: Wine matches with food best when the weight and intensity of the wine balance with the weight or richness of the food. These elements are more important than any flavor associations and usually lead to unforgettable pairings. Body balancing is essential in most classic wine and food matches. Cabernet Sauvignon complements spiced rack of lamb or grilled game because they are equally intense. Pinot Noir makes a better match with roast beef, stews, and mushrooms because the richness of texture is the same in both. Hearty foods need hearty wine; a lighter wine will fade into the background. Just remember that the wine should be at least as full-bodied as the food it’s paired with. On the other hand, fresh sea food dishes served raw or cooked lightly and served with lemon such as raw oysters, crab, shrimp, and white fish will pair best with lighter/mineral terroir white wines like Muscadet or Sauvignon Blanc. 

The secret is in the sauce: Flavors in wine can enhance a dish, just as adding seasoning or extra ingredients when added to food, which is why the old rule about: “white wine with fish and red wine with meat” is a thing of the past. Flavors in the food should complement flavors in the wine, regardless of the main ingredient. The key is to focus on the sauce, for example a Grenache served with a raspberry glazed pork chop, a Pinot Noir paired with salmon or trout served in tomato broth, or a creamy Chardonnay would be perfect for a rich Caesar or Cobb salad.