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Italy Sparkling Brut Rosé Franciacorta Contadi Castaldi Lombardia 280x300 Italy, Sparkling, Brut Rosé, Franciacorta, Contadi Castaldi, Lombardia65% chardonnay, and 35% pinot nero

C/ Gorgeous cantaloupe / copper and light pink coloration.

N/ Strawberries, rose petals, light bread, and stone fruits. Hint of lime zest. Lovely.

T/ Creamy, medium-full mouthfeel.  Wow, the acid work gets one’s mouth watering right away. Delicious layers of raspberry and strawberry flavors are refined yet power packed. Clean, tight lines of structure very much please. Elegant and purely delicious.  

I loved this wine so much I could barely unhinge my hand because of an involuntary flute stem Kung Fu grip.

Trust me, you want this wine on hand for emergency celebratory moments.

Note: a very unique, and gorgeous bottle – apparently designed to provide, during the maturation phase of the wine, more surface / contact area with spent yeast – providing improved toasty and other notes, etc. that seep from those delicious  yeast bodies.

Price = $21-$28

Winemaker = Francesca Moretti

http://www.contadicastaldi.it/

and I don’t know why every winery does not do this…. nice picture of their staff… http://www.contadicastaldi.it/persone

N = A

T = A

I = A+

Overall = A / A+

This wine was a media sample kindly provided by the winery and @FranciacortaUSA.

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USA Sauvignon Blanc Gallegos St. Helena Somerston Estate Napa Valley California 2012 255x300 USA, Sauvignon Blanc, Gallegos, St. Helena, Somerston Estate, Napa Valley, California, 2012N/ Thankfully, no cat aromas whatsoever. Fresh rain, pears, wet concrete and crisp, dried hay.

T/ Light to medium mouthfeel. Clean, acid dancing, layers of light yellow fruits, soft hay notes, and hints of pineapple. An extended lime juice and light mineral close.

Very impressive, this would be absolutely perfect on a warm sunny day, or accompanying any type of seafood imaginable.

Winemakers = Ignacio Jr, Ignacio III, and Eric Gallegos.

http://www.gallegoswines.com/

Price = $22

N = A

T = A

I = A

Overall = A

This wine was a media sample kindly provided by the winery.

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USA Zinfandel Gnarly Head Old Vines Lodi California 2012 USA, Zinfandel, Gnarly Head, Old Vine, Lodi, California, 2012N/ Nutmeg, coconut, and clove on her start. Red berries, taffy, and a hint of rock. Crushed bricks.

T/ Medium-full mouthfeel. Pronounced red berries and red fruits. While the fruit payload is clearly dominating, there is a light backbone of minerals, and a decent acid pop that lends some balance.

This is one of those reds that could clearly be a party favorite, as it is wallet friendly, doesn’t have any hard edges, delivers on the flavor, and even provides a little bit of acid pop for those that are into that sort of thing.

http://gnarlyhead.com/

Price = $8 – 11

N = B-

T = B-

I = B

Overall =  B-

This wine was a media sample kindly provided by the winery.

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USA Rose Mourvèdre Stinson Vineyards Monticello Virginia 2012 147x300 USA, Rosé, Mourvèdre, Stinson Vineyards, Monticello, Virginia, 2012100% mourvèdre

N/ Suggest you wait at least 20 to 30 minutes after opening this bottle as some reduced aromas needed to escape, at least from the bottle I had. After the short wait, she delivers nice Rosé hallmarks of fresh bracing fruit and raspberries, with a very nice mineral and rock presence.

T/ Medium mouthfeel. A solid, bracing acidity with raspberry, jolly rancher, and light lime zest notes. She has a delightfully soft, lovely, and weighty strawberry midsection. Her finish could be slightly improved by a little more acid presence. She ends with a pleasant and light mineral note.

http://stinsonvineyards.com/

Winemakers = Scott and Rachel Stinson

Price = $17

N = B

T = A-

I = B+

Overall = B+

This wine was a media sample kindly provided by the winery.

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Italy Sparkling Brut Franciacorta Antica Fratta Lombardia 300x252 Italy, Sparkling, Brut, Franciacorta, Antica Fratta, LombardiaN/ Clean marine wafts, oyster shells, dried beach. Hay and yellow grasses.

T/ Light mouthfeel. Bottle of sunshine with a spritz of salt and lime zest. Steamed hay. Extended steel, flint, and green apple skins on her close.

Absolutely delightful.

http://www.anticafratta.com/en/

Also, a well-translated and information packed descriptor here… http://www.anticafratta.com/pdf-eng/brut.pdf

Alcohol = 12.5%

Price = $25

N = A

T = A

I  = A

Overall = A

This wine was a media sample kindly provided by the winery, Balzac, and http://www.franciacorta.net/en/home/

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USA, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pine Ridge, Stags Leap District, Napa Valley, California, 2010

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Rated 45 minutes after opening the bottle, no decant necessary. Red blend of: 90% cabernet sauvignon, 8% petit verdot, 1% cabernet franc, and 1% merlot. N/ Deep notes of black cherry and rich cassis, with mature, and in this one case, delicious tomato leaf aromas. Black soil. Forest floor. Mesquite wood. Baker’s chocolate and slate. […]

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USA, Cabernet Sauvignon, Smith Madrone, Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley, 2009

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N/ Right after decanting she started off a bit rough with a couple off aromatics reminiscent of tomato leaf and  green bell pepper. However, after about 30 minutes all those vapors vanished and out blossomed a lovely Napa Cabernet. Lightly smoked cassis and black cherry. Canvas, slate, and light gunnysack. Suggest decanting and waiting at […]

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60 Second Wine Country Restaurant Recommendation – Umé Bistro, Windsor, Sonoma, California

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Care to work in some sushi on your wine country trip to Sonoma? If yes, just get right off the freeway in Windsor and tuck in here… http://umebistro.com/ To the right of the entrance is one cozy room, or the larger room to the left. When I go to a new sushi place I usually […]

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USA, Pinot Noir, Gallegos, Boekenoogen Vineyards, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County, California, 2011

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N/ A juicy cherry blast with some expected black tea aromatics starts you out. She is intensely aromatic. Wonderful cherry and red berry payload is framed by wet cement and clean mineral notes. Smoke and spice. Powerful. T/ Medium-full mouthfeel. Bursting with black cherry, cherry, and red berry flavors. Absolutely bursting I tell you. A […]

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Italy, Glera, Sparkling Wine, Spumante Prosecco DOC Treviso, Mionetto, Brut, Valdobbiadene, Veneto

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N/ Toast points, fresh oyster shells, popping green apples, almond powder. Throughly pleasing – and for this price point? – well, simply remarkable. T/ Medium mouthfeel. Green apples and light white pear intertwine with ample acids and a touch of yeast/toast flavors. Clean lines of both mouthfeel and flavor –  and a nice backbone as […]

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USA, Syrah, Rusack Vineyards, Ballard Canyon Estate, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara, California, 2011

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Red blend of: 91% syrah and 9% petite sirah. N/ Deep plum and blackberry stew, black cherries, and dark black soil. Rosemary, smoldering campfire, and split flint. Clean aromas of a fall forest floor. Fantastic. T/ Medium full to full mouthfeel. Amazingly smooth. A light glycerol weight that helps bind together a remarkably balanced load […]

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USA, Zinfandel, Scott Harvey Wines, UC Davis Research Station, The Heritage Vineyard, Oakville, Napa, California, 2011, Zinfandel Experience

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Contemplating the all new Zinfandel Experience over a glass of 2011 Heritage Vineyard Zinfandel… C/ Garnet ruby clear shining clarity. A jewel. N/ Lightly white peppered ripe red berries, cherries, and cranberries. Clean wood lines. Dried forest floor. Crushed leaves. T/ Light to medium mouthfeel. Oh my, clean, tight lines here. Snapping and integrated acidity, […]

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Italy, Super Tuscan Red Blend (Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet, etc.), L’Andrea, Monte Vibiano, Colli Perugini Rosso DOC, Marsciano – Perugia, 2007

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Red blend of: sangiovese 50%, merlot 15%, cabernet sauvignon 15%, Syrah 5%, other red grape varieties 15%. N/ Lightly smoked black cherry, and deep red fruits with layers of earth, tobacco, wet, aged oak, and rock. Pine needles, sage, and wild herbs slow dance. Only, slight detraction, is a wee bit of reduced aromas that […]

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Italy, Sangiovese, Vecchio Rosso, Monte Vibiano, Marsciano – Perugia, Umbria, 2011

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She started out on the light side of the equation but, with time, became ample and full of fruit. A touch of spice and a delightful acid presence throughout the experience. Paired perfectly with roasted chicken and a persimmon chicken risotto. The balance between her ripe red fruit flavors, acid throughout, and clean lines made […]

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Italy, Sparkling, Brut, Franciacorta, Satèn, Lo Sparviere, Agricole Gussalli Beretta, Monteicelli Brusati, Lombardia

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N/ Acid dancing like her Franciacorta sisters do so well. Apple, hay notes, and toast points. The funk is a little intense here. I also get light resin and some hard herbals. Not nearly as balanced, for my nose, as other Franciacortas I’ve recently enjoyed T/ She is also crisp and fresh, but while her […]

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USA, Red Blend (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel), Nobel Vines, “1″, California, 2011

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Red blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and zinfandel. N/ Lightly cedar-smoked big and bruising stewed plums and black cherries. Taffy, light confection, and a sophisticated swamp aromas. Coconut, caramel and chocolate wafts. Warm, thick, assertive – yet soft. T/ Medium full to full mouthfeel. Juicy flavors of plums, soft ripe red berries, and black cherry […]

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Italy, Sparkling, Brut, Franciacorta, Ronco Calino, Agricole Ronco Calino, Agro, Lombardia

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N/ Steamed hay, crisp green apples, honeysuckle, white flowers and oyster shells. T/ Nice acids and crispness are present like her Franciacorta brethren, but just a tad less powerfully. Along with some lean green apple flavors I tasted some white pear. A few marine notes intrigue. She offers up some minerality in her lean and popping close. […]

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Italy, Sparkling, Brut, Franciacorta, Villa, Monticelli Brusati, Lombardia, 2007

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N/ Acid dancing hay, toast points, oyster shells, canvas, green apples, and a hint of dank funk – oh my. Lovely. Complex. Inviting. Clean. T/ Crisp, fresh, acid popping, and steely, but with a creaminess and depth of apple and toast flavors that leaves you wanting another sip much faster than many a sparkling wine. […]

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Italy, Sparkling, Brut, Barone Pizzini, Franciacorta, Lombardia

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White blend of: 90% chardonnay and 10% pinot nero. N/ A touch of funk layers over deep marine and fresh oyster aromas. There is a savory element here that is hard to describe – fresh white mushrooms perhaps. Lightly oxidized apple notes and a bracing acidity delight. Complex, fun, and deep. T/ Medium-full mouthfeel. Creamy […]

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Recipes – How to prepare awesome steak at home – Pan searing in 12 simple steps

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1. Leave steak out (covered tight in saran wrap) on the kitchen counter for 40-60 minutes to come to almost “room temp.” 2. Add enough olive (or your favorite) oil to the pan to wet the entire bottom surface – turn heat to high. 3. Immediately generously salt and lightly pepper both sides of the […]

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