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!


What to Look For This Month

pietra-santa-cienega-valley-sangiovese-2010In September, The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series features four special offerings, two of which are from Cienega Valley’s Pietra Santa Vineyards.  This month includes Pietra Santa’s award-winning 2010 Estate Sangiovese, which recently received 91 points from Wine Enthusiast, and the 2014 Pietra Santa Estate Chardonnay, a rare, highly allocated Chardonnay that’s making its first appearance with The International Wine of the Month Club.  For several years, we have been trying to secure enough of Pietra Santa’s elegant Macon-style Chardonnay, and we’ve finally been able to procure just enough to satisfy our membership.  Also on tap this month is the 2014 Valle Secreto Key Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenère.  Bring on the barbecue and light the grill for this tasty blend.  Finally, to round out September’s line-up, we recommend beginning an evening or event with the 2014 Bisci Verdicchio Matelica from the Marche’s finest producer.  It makes a great aperitif and provides the ideal complement to seafood.

Domaine-du-Grand-Tinel-Chateauneuf-du-Pape-NVThis month, The International Wine of the Month’s Collectors Series is proud to offer the 2012 Stolpman Vineyards Ballard Canyon Estate Syrah.  It’s hard to imagine a better Syrah, and its 94 point score from Wine Enthusiast will attest to that fact.  Equally compelling is the 2014 Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko from one of the oldest and most distinctive grape varieties on earth.  The extremely rare, 100% Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko is the finest white wine we have ever tasted from Greece.  Last, but certainly not least, is the 2012 Domaine du Grand Tinel Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which scored 91 points from Wine Advocate.  A classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape from an outstanding vintage, Grand Tinel is one of the finest and most consistent producers of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.   Looking ahead to October, we will feature the outstanding, highly allocated 2010 Vinyes del Terrer Nus del Terrer, a profound blend of Garnacha (Grenache) and Cabernet Sauvignon from a tiny vineyard in northern Spain.  This is just one of many exciting, upcoming features.  Enjoy!

What to Look For in August

cru-appellation-series-santa-lucia-highlands-chardonnay-2011In August The International Wine of the Month Club’s Premier Series features four exceptional offerings, including the 2011 Cru Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay and the just released 2014 Château Eulalie Plaisir d’Eulalie from Minervois.  In past vintages, Madame Coustal’s Plaisir d’Eulalie Minervois from France’s oldest wine producing region has been a perennial favorite with club members.  For the record, Madame Coustal’s 2014 Plaisir already drinks beautifully and looks to be one of her finest Plaisirs to date.  Wine lovers will also want to check out this month’s two Spanish wine offerings, the 2012 Bodegas Ayles Barrica Garnacha and the 2013 Nidia Rueda Verdejo.

yardstick-ruth's-reach-napa-valley-cabernet-sauvignon-2012This month, our Collectors Series members won’t want to miss Nick Goldschmidt’s 2012 Yardstick Ruth’s Reach Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine by which many other Napa Valley Cabernets will be measured.  Yardstick is made by Goldschmidt Vineyards, which produces an elite group of limited release Cabernet Sauvignons from single sites.  It earned it a 90-point rating score and Gold Medal from The Tasting Panel magazine (Anthony Diaz Blue).   The limited, highly allocated 2014 Joseph Chromy Tasmania Chardonnay and the 2013 Nugan Alfredo Dried Grape Shiraz, a special wine akin to the great Amarone wines of Italy’s Veneto, both make their debut with The International Wine of the Month Club in August.

Looking ahead, September promises more outstanding wines, including the 2012 Stolpman Vineyard Ballard Canyon Syrah, 2012 Domaine Grand Tinel Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Greece’s most compelling white wine from the enchanted island of Santorini – the 2014 Sigalas Santorini Assyrtiko.  Enjoy!