What to Look For In October

montana-rioja-crianza-2012In October, The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series offers four superlative wines. The first is the 2012 Bodegas Montaña Rioja Crianza, a blend of 97% Tempranillo and 3% Graciano. Montaña’s 2012 Crianza could easily be mistaken for a Reserva. Having spent 12 months in seasoned French oak barrels (the minimum time in barrel for Rioja to qualify as Reserva), Montaña’s Crianza exudes the warmth and velvety characteristics of a traditional Rioja Reserva. Spice, new leather and deep blackberry fruit flavors permeate the nose before seeping deep into the marrow of this wine, only to re-emerge in full force on the palate.

Our next Premier Series feature is the 2015 Martinsancho Rueda Verdejo, another unequivocal success from iconic producer Angel Rodriguez. Farmed organically, the 2015 Martinsancho sports the wine’s usual sun-splashed robe and offers a light but amplifying bouquet of apricot, citrus, spring flowers, minerals, and liquid stones to tantalize the nose. The purity and sensual appeal of Martinsancho come through in the outstanding 2015 vintage, as it is not excessive alcohol or the overlay of oak that makes Martinsancho shine; it is the supreme freshness and natural taste of the 2015 Martinsancho that renders it irresistible.

Next in this month’s quartet is the richly colored 2014 Centonze Nero d’Avola, a wine that provides more than a mere glimpse of Sicily’s viticultural renaissance. A fleshy, full-bodied red wine with a hedonistic bent, this Sleeping Beauty of a wine appears light and sleek at first but quickly blossoms, revealing a deep, powerful mid-palate that is loaded with appealing spice and fruit flavors.

Rounding out this month’s offerings is the 2015 La Cappuccina Soave. Although Soave bears the distinction of being the largest DOC in Italy for the production of white wine, only several dozen Soave producers fashion wines of superior character and quality; La Cappuccina is unquestionably one of those elite. The 2015 La Cappuccina Soave bears the beautiful golden robe of the noble Garganega grape, an enticing aroma, and velvety fruit as well as crisp acidity. This is a white wine with a lithe, gentle spirit that makes the taster beg for more.

terrer-daubert-2012The International Wine of the Month Club’s Collectors Series is proud to offer three more special wines in October. The 2012 Terrer d’Aubert Cabernet Sauvignon earned 92 points and a rave review from Wine Spectator, and for good reason. It offers a wonderful bouquet, redolent with the scents of woodland blackberry, cassis, and fennel, rich savory fruit flavors mingled with hints of chocolate, tobacco and complex earth tones alongside ripe toasty tannins. A combination of unique terroir, excellent winemaking and the munificence of an outstanding vintage render the 2012 Terrer d’Aubert a very special wine.

Our next October Collectors Series offering, the 2013 Luca G Lot Tupungato, is a barrel-fermented Burgundian style Chardonnay that hails from a deserted, rock strewn vineyard in the Gualtallary district, an isolated patch of vineyard at the very top of Mendoza’s Uco Valley. The bright straw-colored 2013 Luca G Lot Chardonnay offers a mesmerizing bouquet of freshly picked white peaches, tangerines and orange zest infused with deft touches of hazelnut and spice. On the palate, the wine’s entrancing olfactory continues to work its magic, offering a delightful mélange of succulent Chardonnay fruit as well as an intriguing cornucopia of mineral and nut flavors.

Garnering 92 points from Wine Spectator, the 2011 Losada Altos de Losada rounds out this month’s Collectors Series offerings. This outstanding Altos de Losada mirrors Losada’s 2009 Altos de Losada, which Wine Enthusiast named to their list of the year’s Top 100 Wines! It offers elegance and a depth of complexity rarely found in other Bierzo wines. Simply put, it’s hard to resist this lush hedonistic Mencia, which offers pure velvety fruit flavors, subtle minerality and spice, and ample structure in the form of fine-grained tannins to assure continued improvement for up to a decade or more.


Julia Child’s Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons

Don’t let the name of this recipe the deter you, this dish is surprisingly easy and will soon end up in your permanente rotation of favorite dishes. Try pairing with this Collector’s Series Luca G Lot Tupungato Mendoza Chardonnay 2013.


  • supremes-de-volaille-aux-champignons4 supremes (boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Big pinch white pepper
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot or green onion
  • 1/4 pound diced or sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
For the sauce:
  • 1/4 cup white or brown stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1/4 cup port, Madeira or dry white vermouth
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly minced parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Rub the chicken breasts with drops of lemon juice and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a heavy, oven-proof casserole, about 10 inches in diameter until it is foaming. Stir in the minced shallots or green onion and saute a moment without browning. Then stir in the mushrooms and saute lightly for a minute or two without browning. Sprinkle with salt.
  3. Quickly roll the chicken in the butter mixture and lay a piece of buttered wax paper over them, cover casserole and place in hot oven. (I ran out of wax paper, so I skipped that step and simply covered the pot…worked fine for me.) After 6 minutes, press top of chicken with your finger. If still soft, return to oven for a moment or two. When the meat is springy to the touch it is done. (Julia’s recipe was originally written using small chicken cutlets. For average sized supermarket chicken breasts, I found the cook time to be 30-35 minutes.)
  4. Remove the chicken to a warm platter (leave mushrooms in the pot) and cover while making the sauce (2 to 3 minutes).
  5. To make sauce, pour the stock and wine in the casserole with the cooking butter and mushrooms. Boil down quickly over high heat until liquid is syrupy. Stir in the cream and boil down again over high heat until cream has thickened slightly. Off heat, taste for seasoning, and add drops of lemon juice to taste. Pour the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Recipe by Julia Child, Simone Beck, and Louisette Bertholle from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 and photo and recipe courtesy www.KitchenJoy.com.

The Best Spanish Wines: Rioja and More

Spain12x16_2In spite of the wealth and variety of Spanish wines that lap upon our shores, Rioja remains the name most familiar to Americans. Rioja is a traditional style of wine with longstanding brand recognition that consistently delivers affordable, quality wines in several styles, and its name is easy to pronounce. Names such as Montaña, Martinez Corta, and Valenciso, among others, not only flow easily across the tongue, they connote quality, style and value. Yet, Spain remains a treasure trove of exciting red and white wines from across the Iberian Peninsula that deserve the recognition that Rioja commands.

The refreshing, sprightly Verdejo from Rueda, a historic area south of Rioja, is only now catching on among wine drinkers. An indigenous Spanish white grape, Verdejo was resurrected from near extinction in the 1970s thanks to a couple of erudite wine growers, including Angel Rodriguez who created Martinsancho by grafting Verdejo cuttings from his 300 year old vineyard into a nearby vineyard, and sending those cuttings to nurseries throughout Europe. Pure, natural and unadulterated, Angel Rodriquez’s Martinsancho remains the quintessential Rueda Verdejo.

The full-bodied red wines of Ribera del Duero, Priorat, and Tarragona also deserve better recognition, especially among wine drinkers thirsting for bold red wines with robust frames. Condado de Haza and Pesquera from the flamboyant Alejandro Fernandez, as well as Dominio Basconcillos, Mauro, and the legendary but expensive Vega Sicilia offer unsurpassed quality from Ribera del Duero. Clos Galena and Pasanau from Priorat provide equally compelling bold reds at prices that won’t necessitate a second mortgage. The same can be said for Terrer d’Aubert, a boutique Tarragona winery that crafts exceptional full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha/Cabernet blends.

La Rioja Wine Region

For elegant, somewhat lighter red wines we suggest looking to Spain’s Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra regions for Mencia – a grape that some have likened to Pinot Noir. Mencia from producers such as Altos de Losada and Peza do Rei fashion age worthy red wines that offer haunting aromatics and considerable complexity. Godello, another indigenous Spanish varietal, also hails from Bierzo and Ribeira Sacra where it yields very tasty white wines that are well worth seeking out.’


Photos Credit: WineFolly

The Bold Reds Wine Club Is Here!

bold-reds-wine-clubFor quite some time we’ve had members ask us for a club that features bold, red wines and we are happy to announce that it is finally here! Our two-tiered tasting panel will be looking for medium- to full-bodied wines with superb structure, pronounced ripe tannins, deep fruit flavors, and well-integrated oak tones from barrel aging.

Examples of bold red wines members of the club will receive include highly acclaimed Cabernets, Malbec blends and Carmenères from South America, single-vineyard red Zinfandels, full-bodied California Cabernets, Spanish Priorats and Ribera del Dueros, and Châteauneuf-du-Papes from the Rhône Valley.

Don Lahey, Director of Product Development, has selected two outstanding wines for the inaugural selections. “The panel came across the 2012 Terrer d’Aubert D.O. Tarragona Cabernet Sauvignon earlier in the year and we all felt it was a perfect fit and well deserving of its 92-point Wine Spectator review. We found its savory fruit flavors mingled with hints of chocolate, tobacco, and complex earth tones and plenty of ripe toasty tannins. Our second selection, the 2014 Centonze Nero d’Avola Sicilia, is a relative newcomer to the American market and a winery we have had our eye on for some time. We found it clean, fleshy, and full-bodied, offering dark cherry and currant flavors, powerful tannic notes, and appealing spice and fruit flavors. We’re pretty pleased with our first month’s selections.”

To order or to learn more about this exciting new club, visit: The Bold Reds Wine Club page.

Creamy Lobster Linguine

Creamy Lobster LinguineIngredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup baby arugula, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Two 1 1/2-pound lobsters, steamed, meat removed


  1. Heat a large straight-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and bacon and cook until the bacon is beginning to crisp, 8 minutes. Add the shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for an additional 3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the salt, tomato puree and cream; stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the linguine for 1 minute less than the package instructions, about 10 minutes. Using tongs, remove the pasta from the water and add it directly to the pan with the sauce. Sprinkle the cheese directly on the naked pasta and toss to coat in sauce. Add up to 1 cup of the pasta water to loosen the sauce as needed. Stir in the arugula, basil, tarragon, peas and lobster meat; simmer until everything is heated through, 1 minute. Serve with additional Parmesan if desired.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis from www.foodnetwork.com