VinoWeek - Episode 49 - Large Wineries Drive the Market

Wine journalist Jamie Goode recently posted a short blog about three of the world's largest wineries. Fred Swan felt that much of the criticism of the blog on social media was negative so he wrote a piece in defense of E.J. Gallo. Having visited several Gallo facilities in the past he offers some great insight into their operations.

W. Blake Gray asks, "What's the point in fining a multi-billionaire winery owner when he ignores the rules"? Bill and  I have a good discussion about Gray's premise, that maybe the best way to thwart eco-vandals is to not give them publicity by reviewing their wines.

One of Amazon's faux liquor stores in Southern California has been receiving more publicity than the founder Jeff Bezos probably wanted. W. Blake Gray stirs up quite a controversy with some good investigative journalism. Amazons' cleaned up their act but will it be enough to avoid punishment by the California ABC that has recently launched an investigation into their operations.

Blue wine? Turns out it may be fake after all. Corsican official have launched an investigation into the company responsible for this oddity. Grab some bottles of blue wine now, as I'm predicting they will be collector's items in the near future.

Bill and I discuss these items and more in this week's addition of VinoWeek. Thanks to everyone for listening. Cheers!


Should You Quit Drinking?

Bill and I start this weeks podcast talking about British Master of Wine Tim Atkin’s article Why You Shouldn’t Care Much About Wine. Exploring various topics Tim’s tongue-in-cheek writing style will bring a smile to your face.

Jillian Kramer writes a post about What Happens To Your Body When You Quit Drinking. We have a good discussion about all the good things that happen when one abstains from alcohol. Even bartenders in the bay area are getting in the act via the Pin Project.

Adding a little air to your wine helps the wine show itself in its best light. Aromas and flavors are enhanced when a wine gets the proper amount of air. Marshall Tilden lll asks, Aerator vs Decanter: Which is Better?

Another Napa Winery finds itself wrangling with their insurance company. The key issue being the insurance companies denial of the wineries claim for smoke taint damage to 1,075 gallons of Merlot. According to the lawsuit, the insurance company claim denials are about to cause financial ruin to the winery.

The Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association’s tight grip on alcohol commerce has recently been relaxed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The two retailers in the case, Kimbrough Fine Wine and Spirits and Total Wine & More can now begin serving customers in the Tennessee marketplace. Good news on one front, however the Supreme Court’s decision opens the door to many new court battles in the future. Emma Balter goes into the details of the Court’s ruling.

The fifth largest brewing company in the world, Molson Coors Brewing, is giving its UK staff an additional two weeks of paid leave. It’s called ‘Life Leave’ and the 2000 people that Molson Coors employs in the UK just got a bit more excited about going to work.

Julia Moskin reports on the recent store closings of the luxury food chain Dean and DeLuca. The companies debt problems are also causing financial problems for many of the small purveyors that supply the stores with their fancy food items, some whom report they haven’t been paid for months. One supplier successfully sued Dean and DeLuca for 86,000, but had to settle for 50 cents on the dollar.

Bill and I discuss these topics and many more in this weeks addition of VinoWeek. Thanks to everyone for listening. Cheers!


The wine of the week is the 2015 Tenuta Di Arceno Chianti Classico. Just like last weeks wine Alanera by Zenato I discovered the wines of Tenuta Di Arceno at the Gambero Rosso tasting last spring. I was blown away by the quality of the three wines they presented that day. Two of the wines Arcanum and Valadorna IGT Super Tuscans were especially noteworthy, approachable now, full of energy, rich in structure and built for extended ageing too. Bordeaux styled blends the Arcanum is predominately Cabernet Franc while the Valadorna leads with Merlot. Both of these wines are in the high roller $80 and up club, so these are really only splurge wines for us regular folks. Despite their high price point they represent very good value in the Super Tuscan arena. The bread and butter wines of Tenuta Di Arceno are the three Chianti Classico wine they produce. Those are a base Chianti Classico, a Chianti Classico Riserva and single vineyard Chianti Classico they call Stada al Sasso.

Tenuta Di Arceno has been owned by Jackson Family Wines since 1994. Located in the southeast region of the Chianti Classico region, within the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga, the estate consist of 2500 acres. of which less than 10% are devoted to vines. Lawrence Cronin the winemaker has been crafting the wines of Arceno since 2002. He worked at Edmeades Winery in Anderson, Valley California another Jackson Family owned property prior to coming on board at Arceno. Cronin works in concert with Master Winemaker Pierre Seillan who also oversees the winemaking at properties in Bordeaux and California.

The wine is composed of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot and after fermentation spends 10 months in French oak. In the glass it shows a medium ruby color. The nose offers aromas of black cherries, violets and forest floor. On the palate it’s medium bodied, with crisp juicy red fruit, supple tannins and a medium length finish. The only distraction from the lip smacking red fruit flavors are the slightly drying tannins on the finish. The wine shows its best after a 30 minute decant. 14.5 abv $14 - $17

VinoWeek - Episode 47 - Is Canned Wine Better for the Environment?

It’s summertime and Europeans have experienced some extreme temperatures. Highs which have eclipsed the torrid marks set by the heatwave of 2003, that killed thousands of people. A lot has been learned since 2003 and the European countries seem better equipped to handle the large high pressure weather systems that cover the continent during the summers. Marshall Shepherd writing for Forbes tries to make the connection between increasing extremes of weather and climate change.

Washington Post columnist Dave McIntyre takes a look at how winemakers are streamlining their use of energy, water and reducing their carbon footprint. The article focuses mainly on family owned wineries that are leading the way in reducing the impact their operations have on the environment. Will the big hulking corporate wine concerns follow suit?

Stephanie Cain wonders which package is more sustainable canned or bottled wine? Bill and I didn’t come up with a clear cut answer. What do you think?

Natalie Wang reports on Chateau Lafite’s launch of it’s own Chinese wine. The wine named Long Dai which means chiselled mountain is the product of a decade long project. No doubt this wine initially will be the target of well heeled conspicuous consumers.

Bill and I discuss these topics and many more in this weeks addition of VinoWeek. Thanks to everyone for listening. Cheers!

The wine of the week is the 2015 Zenato Alanera Rosso Veronese IGT. I discovered this wine at the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri tasting held in San Francisco last March. I tasted it alongside Zenato’s 2015 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, a powerful and well balance Amarone. Zenato is a large family owned wine company based in Peschiera del Garda, on the southern shores of Lake Garda in northern Italy. Their annual production volume is around 167,000 cases. That’s a big operation by Italian standards. I’m very familiar with the Zenato lineup; their Ripassa, a beefed up Valpolicella is extremely addictive. Zenato’s wines have a modern bent to them, though they hold true to their roots and are widely available in the marketplace. Alanera means black wings in reference to the Raven and the Corvina grape which makes up 55% of the blend. 25% Rondinella, 10% Corvinone and 5% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot round out the blend. Half of the grapes are partially dried for 45 to 60 days. After fermentation the wine spend twelve months in 300-500L French Tonneaux and 100-150HL tanks. The oak barrels are of 2nd and 3rd use. The wine spends three months in the bottle before release. This is a “Ripasso” styled wine but it has the IGT designation because the dried and fresh grapes are used to make the wine versus adding the finished Valpolicella wine to the left over lees of an Amarone vat. It’s the process not the ingredients that make the distinction. Here’s a little background on why the IGT designation was invented. Elegance, richness, beautiful balance and an incredible price point make this wine a no brainer case buy. The wine has a medium ruby color, with aromas of fresh and dried red cherries, licorice, cocoa, oak, raisins and a touch of coffee. On the palate it’s full bodied, and juicy with graceful tannins and very good acidity. The finish is both persistent and satisfying. I have no idea how they are able to make a wine of this quality and consistency at the price point it sells for ( $11 to $14 ) , but power to them. They make 12,000 cases of Alanera and it’s easy to find.


Pair the Alanera with medium and hard aged cheeses, charcuterie, any variety of meat dishes and of course your favorite items off the barbecue grill.

VinoWeek - Episode 46 - Robert Parker Retires

Dr. Vinny of the Wine Spectator fields a question about whether or not one should swirl a glass of sparkling wine. It’s a touchy subject with sparkling wine afficionados. Are you a swirler?

For some reason not everyone can do the right thing when it comes to business. A Baltimore businessman whose job was to safeguard wine which his clients where paying him to store is awaiting sentencing after being convicted of wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen goods. Selling someones wine without their consent; how could he not know that this would end badly?

Bill and I discuss these topics and many more in this weeks addition of VinoWeek. Thanks to everyone for listening. Cheers!

VinoWeek - Episode 45 - Fast Food Versus Organic

One of Sonoma’s favorite tourist spots the Ravenswood tasting room has closed. The Ravenswood brand was one of 30 that was spun off by New York based Constellation Brands and purchased by E&J Gallo, but the 12 acre property and the tasting room was not part of the deal.

McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC are becoming increasingly more common sights in Italy’s urban centers. Jeremy Parzen pens a post on fast food versus organic and big farming in Italy.

When was the last time you cut out drinking alcohol of any type? John Fodera an authority of all things Tuscan decided to take just such a break. Calling it “The Purge”, he sighted palate fatigue and decided to abstain for two weeks. He took notes of how his body responded, one of the most interesting being the amount of weight he lost.

It’s not surprising to anyone in beverage journalism that there is a culture of “pay to play”. Offers of free samples, meals and trips in exchange for (wink wink) favorable endorsements are ubiquitous. Should there be more transparency in the wine writing business?

Bill and I discuss these topics and many more in this weeks addition of VinoWeek. Thanks to everyone for listening. Cheers!

The wine of the week is the 2017 Substance Cabernet Sauvignon. Charles Smith former rock band promoter turned vintner is the motivation behind this project. Charles first passion is Syrah and he makes a number of serious ones. The Wines of Substance program is focused on producing wines that are true to varietal type, of good value and can be enjoyed now. It’s 100% Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and a blend of nine different vineyards. A whole berry fermentation with native yeast followed by 35 days on the skins, the wine was aged for twelve months, 50% in new French oak barriques. A deep ruby color and black fruit nose, with currants, violets, vanilla and cedar notes. This Cabernet is medium to full bodied showing more elegance than the 2016 offering. It’s very easy to drink and you would be hard pressed to find another Cabernet Sauvignon of this quality at this price point. 14.5 % alc $15

VinoWeek - Episode 44 - Winter Rains End California's Drought

The final week of February 2019 was a disaster for Sonoma County residents and for business owners in the recently developed Barlow center in Sebastopol, California. The Russian River Valley suffered some of its worst flooding in decades. Bill and I both live in Sebastopol and we have a lively discussion about the floods and what the future holds for the affected areas. Brent Young writes an article to explain how vineyards are impacted during winter flooding. The interstate battles between California and Oregon vintners continue as Solidarity of Oregon has prompted Eric Cohen, owner of Justice Grace Vineyards to bring his attorney into the fray. Australia is hot. What type of impact is climate change having on this wine growing region? Glyphosate a key ingredient in the weed killer Roundup has been detected (in low levels) in several leading beer and wine brands. Should we be concerned? Bill and I discuss these topics and many more in this weeks addition of VinoWeek. Thanks to everyone for listening. Cheers!

The wine of the week is the 2015 Grattamacco Bolgheri Superiore. The town of Bolgheri, in the province of Livorno, sits at the midpoint of the Tuscan coast. Bolgheri is a relatively new wine area having received its DOC in 1994. Grattamacco was the second winery to be established in this area. The original owner Meletti Cavallari was looking for a fishing retreat with his wife and ended up buying an abandoned farm house with a small vineyard on a hill in Bolgheri. He planted the hill with Cabernet Sauvignon and they released their first wine in 1982. The property was acquired by the Tipa Bertarelli family in 2002. There are 67 acres of vineyards located on a hill between Castagneto Carducci and Bolgheri at around 330 feet above sea level. It’s a maritime climate with frequent sea breezes. The soils are calcareous sandstone, marl and clay and the vines average around 24 years of age. All the grapes are hand harvested, with spontaneous fermentation taking place in open cone shaped vats. The wine spends 21 months in french oak and six additional months aging after bottling. it’s composed of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 15% Sangiovese.

I must confess I have never been a big fan of “Super Tuscan” wines. No doubt living in Sonoma County and being only a 45 minute drive from Napa Valley has prejudiced my viewpoint. It’s not that I don’t understand Super Tuscan wines or I’m incapable of enjoying them, admittedly I’m a maniac for Tuscan Merlot. It’s primarily is about availability and price points. Good to high quality Super Tuscans are not made in large quantities and they can be very expensive. Although Super Tuscans can be composed predominantly of Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Franc or other varietals, I’m referring specifically to Cabernet Sauvignon dominated blends. Having so many wonderful choices for Cabernet/ Cabernet Sauvignon blends in my own back yard at much more favorable pricing, puts Italy’s Super Tuscans a little lower on my buy and try list. I was afforded the opportunity to taste the 2015 Grattamacco at the James Suckling Great Wines of Italy event in San Francisco on March 2nd, 2019 and then again a few days later at the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri San Francisco event. The wine displays black cherry, currant and cedar box aromas on the nose with garrigue lurking in the background. The attack on the palate is strong but the sensation is really one of elegance and silkiness. A slight earthiness, very intriguing, with a good kiss of oak. Full bodied with good concentration and savoriness, the finish is long and satisfying. The wine shows great balance with no rough edges and I suspect that it will age well, although it’s drinking incredibly well now. So if you’re looking for a great splurge candidate this is it. 4,166 cases produced $70 - $100


VinoWeek - Episode 43 - Merry Edwards Hands the Reigns to Roederer

After 45 years in the winemaking business Merry Edwards has decided to slow down. Merry and her husband Ken Coopersmith have sold all their wine holding to the Louis Roederer Champagne house. Roederer, a family owned business already owns three wineries in Mendocino County and plans to keep Merry around through the transition. Bushfires in Australia have been difficult this harvest season, especially at Topper’s Mountain Vineyard where a fire wiped out the entire crop just hours before the scheduled harvest. Lamberto Frescobaldi, owner of Frescobaldi Tuscan wine empire is doing his part to cut down on recidivism. He has established a wine growing culture on the prison island of Gorgona, not far from the Ligurian Riviera. The wines are said to be compelling and expensive. Bill and I discuss these topics and many more in this weeks addition of VinoWeek. Thanks to everyone for listening. Cheers!

The wine of the week is the 2016 Artezin Old Vine Zinfandel. This wine is made by Randle Johnson of Hess Collection fame. Hess collection is a huge operation and has wineries in California, Argentina and South Africa. The wine has a deep purple color and features a red fruit nose of raspberries, cherries and white pepper. You get all the classic Zinfandel notes on the palate without the over the top jaminess you often get with less refined efforts. Medium bodied and well balanced, a nice touch of baking spice accompanies a medium length finish. 14.5 abv $12 - $16

Two wines we enjoyed this week

Two wines we enjoyed this week

A Visit to Tenuta Di Nozzole

A Visit to Tenuta Di Nozzole

When you're out hunting for a bottle of Chianti Classico it can be confusing. There are so many labels and so many styles. You have to start somewhere and once you find a producer that makes a wine that suits your palate, you can branch out and make new discoveries. A quick short cut is to look for wines made by one of the "Fantastic Four". Fèlsina, Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari, Castello di Fonterutoli and Frescobaldi are all icons of Tuscan winemaking and their wines standout for their consistency in style and clear expressions of the territory. From their entry level to their flagship offerings the Fantastic Four can be counted on to deliver reliable, well crafted wines.  

Tenuta di nozzole In Greve

Tenuta di nozzole In Greve

Our visit to Tenuta di Nozzole was an afterthought. Earlier we enjoyed a visit to Le Cinciole in Panzano having just finished having lunch at La Cantina Ristorante-Pizzeria in Greve. This was a family vacation and I had told myself before leaving on the trip that I would not drag my family around to various wineries the whole time we were in Italy. Still, it would have been uncivilized not to introduce our son to the treasures of Tuscany (This was his first time in Italy) while we were on the peninsula. Besides who spends a day in Tuscan wine country and visits only one winery?

It was the first rain on the first day of October and as we drove though the countryside of Greve, from our viewpoints the majority of the vineyards had already been picked. In fact Luca Orsini's cru was busy picking their last plots when we left Le Cinciole.


First a little history about the Folonari families. The Folonari's, Lombards from the region of Brescia in northern Italy have been in the wine business since the late 1700's. The Folonari's fortunes turned brighter with the purchase of the Ruffino wine brand in 1913. After World War II the Folonari and Ruffino brands grew explosively through solid marketing and mergers. In the early seventies the Folonari's sold their wines brands and the Folonari name to Gruppo Italiano Vini, arguably the largest wine company in Italy to focus on higher quality wines. Smartly, they kept the Ruffino brand, among them the gold label Riserva Ducale, unquestionably one of the most recognizable names in Chianti Classico wines. Fast forward to year 2000 and the Folonari family went through a split over philosophical differences. Some family members retired, others kept the Ruffino brand and Ambrogio and Giovanni (father and son) established Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari Tenute. A & G Folonari Tenute (estates) consists of six estates and almost 620 acres of vineyards in Tuscany. They farm properties in  Bolgheri, Chianti Classico, Montalcino, Montecucco and Montepulciano. Coincidentally Constellation Brands the world's biggest wine maker, purchased 40% of the Ruffino brand just four years after the year 2000 split and by the end of 2011 the Folonari's were completely bought out for $142 million.  

Giovanni Folonari

Giovanni Folonari

The Folonari's purchased the Nozzole estate in 1971. At that time the estate was 950 acres, 250 planted to vineyards and 40 acres were devoted to olive trees. Six wines bear the name Tenuta di Nozzole,  an IGT red and white (Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay), three Chianti Classicos and a Vin Santo. All six spend time in small french oak barrels. We saw very little of the production areas, but the places we did see were packed wall to wall with small 59 gallon French oak barrels. The grounds and the facility itself is spartan and impeccably maintained. Modernity and attention to detail are the hallmarks here. These markers are immediately evident in the wines. All of the wines at Nozzole are very good. Made for the modern palate the wines are fresh, powerful and rich, displaying wonderful structures and are decidedly true to type.  

Giovanni Folonari & Export Manager Laura DassiÈ at tre bicchieri 2019 in San Francisco

Giovanni Folonari & Export Manager Laura DassiÈ at tre bicchieri 2019 in San Francisco

Reservations are required and we had not made an appointment so when we arrived I wasn't sure how we would be received. If it wasn't for the large touring bus parked outside the production area I would have thought we were not on the right property. Good for us my curious wife wandered into the business office, where she was greeted by Laura Dassiè the Export Manager. Amazingly Laura stopped her business activities and spent the next hour and a half showing us around and leading us through a private tasting. We discovered through our time together that Laura had spent some time in Northern California and her English I must say was spot on.  Affable and patient, I really appreciated how she shared the details of their business and handled our inquiries. She's indeed a pros pro and the give and take was really fun. Toward the end of the session she handed us off to Oliva Busignani who is the Hospitality Manager. Oliva helped us with our purchases. 

An immaculate Cellar

An immaculate Cellar

The 2015 Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva wine comes with a newly fashioned label. A picture of the estate is still prominently displayed front and center. The label is less cluttered with the bottling information, the alcohol info and the family brand name and symbol having been relocated to the back label. Just the facts here, the estate picture and name, the vintage and type of wine. An atypical deep tinted, taller, heavier, glass tapered bottle, rounds out a quite stylish package. Once you've emptied it you can get a workout in by doing arm curls with the bottle. The nose shows black cherry, leather,earth and baking spice all wrapped in oak. On the palate black and red fruit, licorice and tobacco. Medium to full bodied, there is ample acidity, the tannins are polished and the finish is long. A thoroughly modern interpretation of Chianti Classico but there is no mistaking that it's Tuscan Sangiovese. 14 % alc. $17 - $20

After fermentation the 2013 Tenuta Di Nozzole Gran Selezione Chianti Classico spends up to two years in 1,585 to 1,849 gallon botti (large barrels). After bottling the wine spends a minimum of six months in the bottle before release. Gran Selezione is Chianti Classico's newest top tier wine and this is the first release from Nozzole. 100% Sangiovese, already it’s soft and approachable, showing incredible depth and complexity, with sweet tannins and a silky texture. Aromas of violets, ripe cherries and cocoa and a soft round mouth feel make for an immensely enjoyable drink. This was my son’s favorite wine of the lineup. Who say’s millenials don’t have good tastes? As good as the Gran Selezione is now, I suspect it will age gracefully. N/A

An impressive lineup

An impressive lineup

2013 Tenuta Di Nozzole La Forra is composed of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s fermented in stainless steel vats and the wine is pressed off the skins after 20 days. The wine spends 16 - 18 months in 132 gallon French oak barrels and six months in bottle before release. The black cherry, licorice and herb aromas are in harmony with the wines firm acidity and solid tannin structure. The La Forra nose is not as developed as the previous two, powerful and rich it is built for the long haul. $35 - $40

We also tasted the 2016 IGT Chardonnay La Pietra (the stone) from their Tenute Del Cabreo property. It’s fermented half in new barrels and the other half in one use barrels, then aged twelve months on the lees. It has a pale gold color, with a reticent tropical fruit and spice nose. On the palate it’s texturally dense with good structure and has a satisfyingly long finish. Admittedly I’m too much of a Sonoma County Chardonnay honk to go all in on this wine, but my wife loved it, so we purchased some. $30 - $35

Outside the production area. How cute is this car?

Outside the production area. How cute is this car?

We enjoyed our visit to Tenuta Di Nozzole and would like to thank Laura and the staff at the property for their hospitality. If you ever find yourself in Tuscany, phone ahead and make a reservation to visit the Nozzole estate. You won’t be disappointed. Cheers!



VinoWeek - Episode 42 - How To Fix Bad Wine

The effects of climate change are prompting farmers to look more closely at how much water they use and need to sustain their crops. Bill and I start the podcast by discussing dry farming; the pluses and minuses. Have you ever opened up a bottle of wine, poured a glass, tasted it and thought meh? It just seemed like something was off, or worse yet it was undrinkable. Maggie Rosenberg and Trevor Hagstrom, regional food researchers have come up with some hacks to make those wines go down a little easier. We’ve mentioned all of these hacks before at one time or another in past podcasts, but this is a great refresher. Let us know what you think about these ways to fix bad wine. TN Coopers, a company based in Santiago, Chile, has been using Labrador retrievers to track down the source of TCA and TBA in wineries. After working in South America for many years the company is now looking to bring its specialized service to Northern California. Many winemakers would say Mandy Heldt Donovan is flirting with disaster, but that’s not the way she sees it. The Napa winemaker is intentionally inoculating her wine with Brettanomyces, an extremely hard to control spoilage yeast. Is she searching for a niche wine market? Perhaps she’s leading the way to a new trend in winemaking? In any event she has a long way to go, as for now she only produces about fifty cases. Bill and I discuss these topics and many more in this weeks addition of VinoWeek. Thanks to everyone for listening. Cheers!

The wine of the week is the 2007 Flaco Tempranillo. Flaco is a slang term for a friend as in “Qué pasa flaco? - what’s up dude? It’s a fun and not so serious expression and the wine is fun and care free as well. Tempranillo depending on where it is grown can exhibit very different expressions; from lighter elegant wine styles to full throttle, palate punishers. Flaco is on the lighter Pinot Noir spectrum of wine styles. It’s 100% Tempranillo that is organically and dry farmed from vineyards around the city of Madrid. The color is a bright ruby red, translucent on the edge. The wine displays red fruit, cherries, lavender and garrigue aromas on nose. On the palate pretty lifted red fruit flavors are complemented by it’s soft, silky, elegant profile. Its juicy fruit, soft texture, coupled with ample acidity make it immediately likeable. Flaco is fermented and aged in stainless steel and concrete tanks so there are no wood flavors to get in the way of the lovely fruit. The current vintage retails for about $7 and they made about 40,000 cases, so it should be fairly easy to find.

A beautiful elegant expression of organic tempranillo from vines around madrid

A beautiful elegant expression of organic tempranillo from vines around madrid

VinoWeek Episode 41 - Cork Taint

After watching a video by Julien Miquel, Bill and I jump off onto the topic of cork taint. Julien’s insight on “What is cork taint? Why are so Many Wines Corked?” is a must see video. The iconic wine retailer Bottle Barn now has an online presence. If you already buy wines online, do yourself a huge favor and put them on your list of suppliers. There’s a six bottle minimum, but the shipping is free. Jessica Zimmer writes a post that gives a historical viewpoint of how White Zinfandel saved Napa Valley. Noteworthy wine blogger Tom Wark of Wark Communications, a wine P. R. firm, has moved his family from Napa Valley to a new home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. He writes his own exit interview for the Napa Valley wine business community. The new Prisoner Winery tasting room in St. Helena is the bomb. Owned by Constellation Brands and perched directly off Highway 29, the tasting room could be described as Napa Valleys newest and coolest foodie and wine destination. So why have they been issued a code violation notice? Bill and I discuss these topics and many more in this weeks addition of VinoWeek. Thanks to everyone for listening. Cheers!

The wine of the week is the 2013 Castello Colle Massari Montecucco Rosso Riserva. The Colle Massari estate is located in the southern part of Tuscany, approximately forty miles south of Siena, roughly a hour and twenty minute drive. The vineyards, cerified organic, are located on the Montecucco hill which gives its name to the Montecucco DOC, awarded in 1998. By law a Montecucco Rosso (red) wine must contain a minimum of 60% Sangiovese. The first vintage of Colle Massari was in 2000 and in 2014 Colle Massari was awarded the Gambero Rosso 2014 Winery of the Year Award. The owners Maria Iris and Claudio Tipa, also own Tenuta San Giorgio and Poggio di Sotto both in Montalcino and Grattamacco in Bolgheri, so one could say they are firm believers in the terroir of Southern Tuscany. My wife and I first discovered Colle Massari at a local wine shop in a small village south of Siena called Serra di Rapolano. We stayed in that village for ten days and we wiped out that wine stores stock of Colle Massari. Every since then we have been big fans of the wines made at that estate. You can learn more about the Colle Massari estate here.

The 2013 Montecucco Riserva was aged in oak barrels for 18 months and then spent a year in the bottle before it was released. The wine is composed of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Ciliegiolo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. A deep ruby color in the glass, the nose displays black plums, cherries and hints of licorice and leather. On the palate the frame is medium bodied, smooth tannic structure, and well balanced acidity. This wine won’t bowl you over with complexity but it’s a fine example of Sangiovese from Southern Tuscany. The current vintage 2015 retails for about $20. 14% abv

Located between Montalcino and Morellino di Scansano, the vineyards covering the Montecucco hills of Colle Massari produce a lovely expression of South Tuscan Sangiovese.

Located between Montalcino and Morellino di Scansano, the vineyards covering the Montecucco hills of Colle Massari produce a lovely expression of South Tuscan Sangiovese.