What to Look For In January

chateau-beauregard-ducasse-graves-rouge-2012In January, The International Wine of the Month Club offers four outstanding wines from two continents.  Produced from Bordeaux’s classic red wine varieties of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the 2012 Château Ducasse Graves delivers an exceptional glass of red Bordeaux from Bordeaux’s oldest and greatest wine-producing appellation.

The 2014 Château Chanteloiseau Cuvée Jean Jules Graves Blanc is a fine white wine from Graves.  As a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, this classic white Graves is blessed with beautiful citrus aromas and flavors, pinpoint minerality, and a refreshing finish.  It makes a wonderful aperitif and comports itself equally well at table with seafood, salads, pastas, and white meats.

From the golden hills of Amador County, the 2013 Terra d’Oro Amador County Zinfandel delights the nose and palate with juicy berry flavors, hints of bramble, spice, and wild herb.  This is a bold, beautiful red Zinfandel that combines rich flavors and fine-grained tannins.  As a classic, old-vine California Zinfandel from America’s own red grape varietal, this Terra d’Oro offering over-delivers in every way.

Wine lovers in search of hand-crafted Chardonnays are in for a treat with the 2014 Complicated Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.  Fashioned by two next-generation winemakers, Carlo Trinchero and Josh Phelps, from two of California’s iconic wine families, this seductive Chardonnay offers opulent fruit aromas and flavors that integrate deft touches of spice and French oak to provide one tasty, uncomplicated Chardonnay.

The International Wine of the Month Club’s Collectors SeriesSilvio-Grasso-Barolo-2011 is proud to offer three special January features.  Our first January feature is the outstanding 2011 Silvio Grasso Barolo from one of Italy’s iconic producers.  Barolo, known as, “the king of wines, and the wine of kings,” ranks as one of Italy’s best red wines.  The 2011 Silvio Grasso Barolo offers up an amplifying bouquet of red fruits, plum, rose petal, and spice, while it delights the palate with supple, complex, and expansive flavors. This is a wine perfect for enjoying now or cellaring for a decade or more.

The 2013 Maison Gille Rully Premier Cru Rabourcé 2013 is this month’s Collectors Series special white wine.  It offers a radiant straw color and scents of acacia, privet, and orchard fruits before revealing pure Chardonnay fruit flavors in the mouth.  Born in the fashionable Rully appellation of Burgundy, this Premier Cru demonstrates why Burgundy is the spiritual home of Chardonnay and why Rabourcé’s special terroir merits Premier Cru status.

The 2009 Château Armandière Diamant Rouge Cahors Malbec is a rich, ripe, and sophisticated Malbec that delivers the boldness and intensity of the finest Argentinean Malbecs, along with the added complexity, refinement, and sophistication of the best French wines. The 2009 Diamant Rouge is a rare and highly allocated wine from Château Armandière, one of the greatest estates in Cahors, the original home of Malbec.

What to Look For In December

Alejandro-Fernandez-El-Vinculo-2011In December, The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series offers four outstanding wines from around the world.  Produced from 80-year-old vines by Alejandro Fernandez, Spain’s “King of Tempranillo,” the 2011 Bodegas Alejandro Fernandez El Vinculo exudes infectious charm, stunning aromatics, and plush juicy flavors.  Blackberry and currant scents and flavors mingle with hints of sandalwood, Asian spices, and smooth new oak to delight the nose and palate.

Another of this month’s special features is the 2014 Bouchard Finlayson Blanc de Mer, which hails from South Africa’s Western Cape, an area regarded as the planet’s most spectacular wine country and the source of many of the greatest white and red blends.  The 2014 Bouchard Finlayson Blanc de Mer is a unique, dry white blend of Riesling, Viognier, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc that provides enormous drinking pleasure.  This is a complex dry white wine whose fragrant aroma alone is worth the price of admission.

The Laronde Desormes Bordeaux Supérieur winery fashions one of the finest and longest lived Bordeaux Petit Château wines.  This little gem of a property produces only a few thousand cases of Bordeaux wine each year from the estate’s 22 acres of vines.  Born in the sublime 2010 vintage, the 2010 Château Laronde Desormes is classic red Bordeaux from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot that over-delivers in every way.  Enjoy!

The 2014 Château Andrea Graves Blanc rounds out this month’s Premier Series wine selections.  Château Andréa is a superlative, well-situated property of less than 5 acres in the Graves appellation of Bordeaux, and its 2014 Château Andréa Graves Blanc is a compelling white wine.  Imbued with subtle floral, citrus, and ripe melon scents, along with polished fruit and mineral driven flavors, this wine delights the tongue and slips easily down the thirsty throat.  Add a long, truly dry, mineral-driven finish, and you’ll find a recipe for fine drinking pleasure.


valenciso-reserva-nvThe International Wine of the Month’s Collectors Series is proud to offer three special December features.  Our first December feature is the 2008 Valenciso Rioja Reserva, Decanter Magazine’s Wine of the Year and a wine to which Luis Gutierrez of Wine Advocate awarded 93 Points and succinctly described as, “… explosive, aromatic, perfumed Tempranillo that mixes the more common strawberries, raspberries, and cherries with unusual violet and subtle spices with plenty of nuances and changing details, elegant and complex, starting to develop tertiary characteristics.”  All we can add to this description are two words: taste it!

The 2013 Château Beauregard Ducasse Cuvée Albertine Peyri is another special wine that underscores the success of white Bordeaux in the 2013 vintage and especially classic white Graves.  Dry and rich in flavor, the 2013 Château Beauregard Ducasse Cuvée Albertine Peyri demonstrates the essence and charm of traditional white Graves, which are a blend of barrel-aged Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.

Rounding out this month’s Collectors Series is the 2012 Domaine Raspail-Ay Gigondas, a powerful Southern Rhône offering from Dominque Ay, who fashions wine ideal for a cold winter’s night.  No one consistently turns out better Gigondas than Dominique Ay, as the superb, full-bodied 2012 Raspail-Ay Gigondas attests.  Enjoy this outstanding Gigondas now and for another decade.


What to Look For in November

antucura-calcura-2011In November, The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series delivers four delicious and exciting wines to its members. The 2011 Antucura Calcura, a complex, robust Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec from Uco Valley, Argentina, leads the charge. The 2011 Antucura Calcura received 94 points from Patricio Tapia’s Descorchados, South America’s definitive wine guide. The 2011 Antucura Calcura certainly merits Tapia’s high score and should not to be missed.

The 2012 Mont Marçal Reserva Cava offers another treat. It is an aromatic, sensual sparkling wine that hails from one of Spain’s finest cava estates.

The 2013 Cambridge Cellars Elsbree Vineyard Russian River Zinfandel cuts another fine figure this month. It is a deeply colored, beautifully balanced Zin that is both rich in flavor and vibrant on the palate, which underscores why Zinfandel is America’s own special red grape varietal.

Last, but certainly not least, is the 2014 Tavignano Misco Verdicchio Classico Superiore from Italy’s majestic Adriatic Coast. Misco is a limited bottling of rich, highly aromatic Verdicchio, and is an ideal wine to sip and savor, or to pair with the freshest seafood one can find. Enjoy!

Jacques-Girardin-Santenay-Clos-Rousseau-Premier-Cru-2012The International Wine of the Month’s Collectors Series is proud to offer several very special wines from France and California. The 2012 Jacques Girardin Clos Rousseau Premier Cru Santenay is a sexy, seductive Pinot Noir from Burgundy that is nothing short of enthralling. It is an authentic, delicate red Burgundy with a knockout bouquet of rose petals, violets, and Asian spices, which flaunts its Premier Cru status.

Joseph Perrier’s Cuvée Royale Brut Champagne is another special wine from France that will head to our Collectors Series members. The non-vintage Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale Brut is traditional, full-bodied Champagne that emanates from one of the last great family-owned-and-run Champagne houses. Simply exquisite!

Rounding out this month’s Collectors Series is the 2012 Walt Blue Jay Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, a full-bodied Pinot Noir that garnered a well-deserved 93 points from Wine Enthusiast. The 2012 Walt Blue Jay Pinot Noir is no shrinking violet. It comes packed with concentrated aromas and flavors of woodland blackberries, blueberries, lavender, cinnamon, nutmeg, and more. Enjoy this incredible Pinot now or sometime over the next 10 years.

Champagne and All That Sparkles

Finding the Best Champagne from Around the World

Champagne GlassesAll that sparkles is not Champagne, despite the enduring legacy in America to refer to any wine with bubbles as Champagne.

Champagne is an ancient province of France, and lends its name to a distinctive sparkling wine whose name and method of production are protected by law. Actual Champagne comes only from the Champagne region of France.

For centuries, Champagne has enjoyed a well-deserved reputation as a wine of conviviality and good cheer. Among critics and connoisseurs, it still weighs in as the world’s finest sparkling wine, and the most expensive. Perhaps for these reasons, most Americans continue to relegate Champagne and other fine sparkling wines to special occasions: Thanksgiving dinner, weddings, late-night holiday parties, New Year’s Eve celebrations, etc. Frankly, Champagne and other top-quality sparkling wines deserve better, not only because they add a note of celebration to any occasion, but because they also pair splendidly with a wide variety of foods.

Champagne Styles and Preparation Methods

Champagne provides the ideal accompaniment to all types of seafood and poultry, as well as many cheeses and vegetarian dishes. The traditional Champagne houses of Comte Audoin de Dampierre, Joseph Perrier, and Philipponnat offer exceptional quality and value in non-vintage Champagne to enliven any meal or add festivity to any occasion. Dampierre’s Grand Cuvée Brut, Joseph Perrier’s Cuvée Royale, and Philipponnat’s Royale Réserve Brut and Royale Réserve Rosé are especially worth seeking out. Thierry Lombard’s Magenta Cuvée Supérieure also provides exceptional quality and value in a lighter, easy-to-drink style of Champagne.

Although all that sparkles is not Champagne, many sparkling wines throughout the world are made using the same painstaking method and are well-worth seeking out. The words “traditional method,” or similar words in the producer’s language should appear on the label. California fashions many exceptional sparkling wines through the traditional method, many of which are made by French Champagne houses. For those seeking tasty California bubbly that won’t break the bank, the Signal Ridge Chardonnay Brut offers plenty to like.

Cava, often referred to as Spain’s rendition of Champagne, provides many more opportunities to enjoy fine sparkling wines made in the traditional manner. Mont Marçal from the Penèdes region of Spain, just south of Barcelona, only makes cava, and consistently fashions some of the very best vintage Brut Reserva and Rosé cavas.

Another exciting sparkling wine, and perhaps the bubbly most currently in vogue, is Italy’s prosecco. Prosecco is typically lighter in alcohol than either cava or Champagne, but it is rarely made using the painstaking traditional method whereby the wine ferments and ages in the bottle. Bortolotti from Valdobbiadene, the classic production zone for prosecco, offers an exceptional prosecco experience.

With so many excellent sparkling wines to choose from, why limit the pleasure of Champagne or fine sparkling wine to a few occasions or just one time of year? Pour a glass of good bubbly today and enjoy!


What to Look For in October

TierraYMar_13SyrahFront-PageNord_Front_OL.jpgIn October, The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series features four very exciting and unique wines.  First among them is the newly released 2014 Tierra y Mar Page-Nord Vineyard Napa Valley Syrah.  Tierra y Mar, a new Napa Valley venture that specializes in producing small lots of premium varietals from exceptional vineyards, has fashioned a knockout Syrah from the renowned Page-Nord Vineyard in what is rightly acclaimed as a great vintage.  In the 2014 Page-Nord Syrah, classic Syrah aromas of forest berries, violets, and clove fold seamlessly into black fruit, chocolate, and spice flavors to offer a true palate- pleasing experience.  Also featured this month is the 2014 Can Feixes Blanc Seleccio, a pure, dry white wine made from organic grapes that hails from one of Spain’s oldest estates.  White wine doesn’t get any more natural or vibrant than the Can Feixes Blanc Seleccio.  From Italy’s pastoral Marches flows the 2012 Boccadigabbia Rosso Piceno, a bold, big-boned red wine from Montepulciano and Sangiovese grapes, which makes an ideal accompaniment to highly flavored Italian specialties.  Last, but not least, is one of Rome’s specialties, the 2014 Costantini Borgo del Cedro Frascati Superiore.  Made from organically grown grapes, you won’t want to miss this Frascati from the region’s premier producer.

This month, The International Wine of the Month Club’s Collectors Series is proud to offer three rare and exceptional wines.  The 2010 Vinyes del Terrer Nus del Terrer, a super-saturated blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Garnacha that garnered 92 Points from Josh Raynolds’ International Wine Cellar, offers a rare look at Spanish Cabernet Sauvignon and old vine Garnacha.  Nus del Terrer is complex, highly perfumed, and packed with flavor.  On a lighter note, this month’s Collectors Series white wine, the 2012 Marco Felluga Molamatta Collio Bianco, is one of Northern Italy’s finest and offers a delicious blend of the region’s signature varietals: Pinot Bianco, Tocai Friulano, and Ribolla Gialla.  Collio produces Italy’s greatest white wines and Marco Felluga ranks among the region’s iconic producers.  And finally, we have the 2010 Respite Reichel Vineyard Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a decadent, beautifully balanced Cabernet Sauvignon that has it all and delivers from the moment it is poured.  Enjoy!