Monday, June 5, 2023

Dry Creek Vineyard 2021 DCV Block 10 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley


You may not be familiar with Dry Creek Vineyard Chardonnay. If that’s the case, here’s what you’re missing.

Dry Creek Vineyard championed Loire Valley style wines in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley. Their excellence, however, extends to Chardonnay. A prime example is the latest release of the DCV Block 10 Chardonnay.

All 185 acres of estate vineyards are certified sustainable. DCV Block 10 in Russian River Valley has an ideal microclimate for growing Chardonnay. The moderate temperature and fog from the Pacific Ocean keeps the grapes protected from the harsh sun and allows the grapes to ripen evenly and slowly. The DCV Block 10 Chardonnay is crafted from just 30 rows in the northeast corner of the vineyard.

One thing  I have always appreciated about Dry Creek Vineyard is their judicious use of oak aging. They don’t cover up the flavors of the wine with excess oak. That is the case here.

The wine is 88% barrel fermented with the remainder fermenting in stainless steel. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation for the most part (88%). Barrel aging is in French oak, 26% new.

On the nose there is an immediate rush of tropical notes, including pineapple and some peach. On the palate there is pear and mango mixed with some light oak. The oak contributes spicy notes without overwhelming the bright and harmonious flavors. This is a perfect Chardonnay for me, light enough to enjoy on its own or pair with a meal without bogging down with oaky, buttery notes.

This is drinking well now and can age for up to three years. This is a beautiful dinner companion or a wine for weekend entertaining. SRP is $45.

Full disclosure: This wine was received as a marketing sample.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Nysa Wines Offer A Glimpse of Willamette Valley Greatness


Dundee Hills is the epicenter of Oregon Pinot Noir. Now we know why.

In Greek mythology, Nysa is the secret land full of lush fruit trees and vineyards where young Dionysus, the god of wine was raised. The forces emanating from Mount Nysa are said to be powerful. We found ourselves falling under the spell of three new wines from Nysa – actually from Nysa Vineyard, the Willamette Valley winery in the Dundee Hills.

The family-owned operation was begun in 1990 when owner and winemaker, Michael Mega purchased a parcel of orchards high with the goal of creating world-class Pinot Noir. The goal creating wines of complexity, concentration and balance while using minimalistic winemaking techniques and organic farming.

The grapes are grown at 600 to 720 feet elevation. Nysa case production is under 1,000, but that may soon change as wines will soon be available outside Oregon in shops across the US in such wine loving states as California, Texas, New York, North and South Carolina and Illinois.

We had the opportunity to taste the 2019 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and the 2016 Pinot Noir, all from Dundee Hills. Dundee Hills is where Oregon Pinot Noir first gained its worldwide reputation.  Early pioneers such as David Lett of Eyrie, Dick Erath and the Sokol Blossers planted many of Oregon’s first vineyards.

To taste the Chardonnay and 2016 Pinot, we planned a special dinner, an amazing meal with Duck Breast l'Orange entrée. Duck is a perfect pairing with Pinot Noir, whose fruity notes play perfectly with the rich dark meat. I wasn't sure about Chardonnay.


The Chardonnay uses grapes from the Nysa estate block of Wente clone vines. This wine went through malolactic fermentation and then spent 10 months in neutral French oak barrels. We discovered that this Willamette Valley Chard with beautiful tropical fruit notes and taste of honey worked wonderfully with the duck, asparagus, and mushroom risotto.   


The 2016 Nysa is an amazing Pinot. It is a blend of different vineyard blocks throughout the estate.The grapes were fermented in small lot bins before aging in French oak (25% new). Light garnet in the glass with the perfect touch of acidity, delicate layers of red fruit, dry herbs, leather and nuanced earth tones show through. This was an ideal pairing and just an exceptional wine. 

We got a look at the younger 2019  Nysa Pinot. On the palate there is beautiful smooth red cherries a touch of baking spices and a touch of minerality. Tasty now, we expect this vintage to rock after another two or three years of aging.

Nysa Pinot Noir ranges from $75 to $105, and Chardonnay starts at $65, all depending on the vintage.

Full disclosure: These wines were received as marketing samples.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Virginia Petit Wines Offer Glimpse Of Old Dominion Wine Excellence

PXL_20230412_225255721~2Petit Verdot and Petit Manseng showcase Virginia’s award-winning winemaking.    

Four Hundred Years of Winegrowing History

Virginia may seem like an uncommon choice for wine lovers. Not if you’ve had a chance to taste its delicious wines that blend the subtlety of the Old World with the boldness of the new.

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The state boasts more than 5,000 acres of grapes and has a history that dates back to 1619 when the House of Burgesses passed a law requiring each household to plant 10 grape vines for the purpose of making wine.


Founding father Thomas Jefferson experimented with winemaking and in 1873 a Virginia wine was chosen as the Best Red Wine of All Nations at the Vienna World’s Fair. The wine industry struggled through Prohibition and world wars and in 1979 there were just six wineries in operation. Thankfully for us, wine in Virginia is thriving today.

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There are currently more than 300 wineries in Virginia and the quality is better than ever. We recently uncorked bottles from two award-wining Virginia wineries, Jefferson Vineyards and Veritas Winery, in conjunction with a webinar by the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association.

Jefferson Vineyards 2021 Petit Manseng

The site of Jefferson Vineyards was owned by Thomas Jefferson and was later given to Italian viticulturist Filippo Mazzei who formed the Virginia Wine Company. Unfortunately, the vines were later trampled by the horses of a Hessian General during the American Revolution, ruining the labor of four years. In the 1980s vineyards were reestablished and in 1993 the business name was changed to Jefferson Vineyards. Jefferson is recognized for having one of the region’s most consistent record for producing quality wines .

We decided to taste the 2021 Jefferson Petite Manseng with Ricotta Gnudi with Quick Tomato Confit & Fresh Corn. This is a recipe created by Haidar Karoum specifically for Virginia Petit Manseng. I’m told by one of my Italian tennis buddies that the dish is pronounced like “naughty.” This was one of the very best culinary creations we’ve tasted in a while.

Veritas Petit Verdot and Lamb Chop

It was a perfect match for the Petit Manseng. The wine offers notes of smooth pineapple, white peaches, and honeysuckle. It blended nicely with the ricotta dumplings and cherry tomatoes. The Petite Manseng has no jarring acidity, just a gorgeous, luscious finish.

Veritas 2017 Petit Verdot

For the Veritas 2017 Petit Verdot, we prepared hearty Herb & Garlic Marinated Lamb Chops with Pine Nut Couscous and Broccoli Rabe. My first experience with a single varietal Petit Verdot was many years ago at Flying Fox, a Virginia winery with a family connection to Veritas winemaker Emily Pelton. Although you are more likely to encounter Petit Verdot as a blending ingredient in a Bordeaux-style wine, on its own it shines as a luscious wine.

A 20-year-old family business,  Veritas is on the leading edge of the Virginia wine industry. With over 50 acres in the Monticello wine region, it produces a complex portfolio of wine ranging from sparkling to beautifully balanced red wines.

The Veritas Petit Verdot exudes generous black fruit notes of currant and blackberry whilst smooth tannins and a touch of tobacco create a posh finish. This wine includes 15% Merlot and is aged in 50% new French oak for 16 months.

Full disclosure: These wines were received as part of an educational program.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Wines For Animal Lovers: Sipping These Great Values Benefits Four-Legged Friends

Firesteed and Bar Dog Wines - 1

We love California Cab and Oregon Pinot Noir, especially when they support charities that help animals.

Time was when an upstart wine from Australia planted a picture of a kangaroo on its label and conquered the American wine market. After the success of Yellowtail, many animal labels emerged: birds, bears, cows, mice and pigs. Animals can make an attractive label, but it is what inside that is the primary attraction for me.

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We recently popped open two wines with an animal theme, but with a difference. The labels aren’t simply to draw in the curious, but to celebrate there commitment to helping four-legged friends.

Firesteed 2021 Pinot Noir, Oregon

Firesteed winery in Oregon’s Willamette Valley produces an array of Pinot Noir and other wines like Pinot Gris and Riesling. It also has some AVA-specific Pinot Noirs, that highlight select vineyards in Willamette. They also offer a wallet-friendly Oregon Pinot Noir from several sites around the state.

We opened this 2021 Pinot Noir and immediately found a satisfying wine that delivered a great Oregon Pinot experience. The price is a mere $17 and for that, it was surprising to taste cherry notes with a healthy earthiness. Toast and spice round out a silky palate.

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Not only does Firesteed deliver a great QPR (quality price ratio), but a portion of each sale benefits our animal friends. The winery has partnered with Dreamer Horses Colorado,which provides boarding for retired horses on a 100-acre pasture on a family cattle ranch. Firesteed also contributes to the support of retired horses as they live out their best lives surrounded by fresh grass, sunshine, and equine friends.

Bar Dog 2021 Cabernet Sauvignon, California

Bar Dog Cabernet with Blue Cheese BurgerBar Dog’s Cabernet Sauvignon from the statewide California AVA is a smooth drinking Cab we paired with grilled blue cheese burgers and sweet potato fries. The inspiration for the wine’s name comes from wine creator Terry Wheatley who has a Boston Terrier on her Central California ranch. The dog is a constant companion, like my dog Amber who is laying patiently a few feet away from me while I write this post.

The wine is a delicious everyday drinker. There are no complex layers but at a price point of about $12, it is what you expect it to be: a loyal, friendly, and tasty friend. The expressive flavors of black cherry, cocoa, and vanilla provide plenty of satisfaction right now. There are no heavy tannins and no need to age this wine, that we would suggest should be consumed within three years.

The Bar Dog certainly elevated our burgers-on-the-patio dinner. The winery also takes its commitment to animals beyond the bottle label. For the love of dogs and all they bring to our lives, Bar Dog wines has committed to supporting rescue shelters across North America in partnership with the Petfinder Foundation. The Petfinder Foundation awards grants funded by Bar Dog wines to shelters, helping them provide pet food, supplies, and veterinary treatment for dogs awaiting adoption.

Full Disclosure: These wines were received as a marketing sample.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

WIYG: A Review Of Our Recent Sips And Pours

WIYG? That’s a question we are often asked. Here’s a look at what's in our glass. 

PXL_20230330_005027150.PORTRAITCaizergues 2018 Les Magnarelles, Languedoc

Languedoc is a huge region is southern France previously known for bulk wine, but now reinvented and the producer of dynamic quality wines. Wines, like this wine, can be purchased at a steal. This blend is Syrah with Carignan, Cinsault and Syrah. The tannins are laid back, indicating this may have been aged in concrete.

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This is a fresh, medium-bodied wine with dark fruit and black current notes accented with garrigue – a blend of herbs typical in the region. Lively, fresh and elegant. About $15, although I snagged this at a sub-$10 closeout.


Castello di Torre in Pietra 2020 “Elephas” Bianco, Lazio IGT  

Did I just buy this because I thought the Green Dragon would like the elephant on the label? Perhaps. This Italian blend combines Trebbiano, Vermentino and the southern grape of Fiano. These grapes can produce some unremarkable wines and combining them together doesn’t improve the situation much.

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There are fresh notes of lemon, some salinity, and peaches. Great for a sunny day, deeply chilled with some seafood. Organic with a price tag of about $14. 

PXL_20230404_222745302.PORTRAIT~2Weingut Hillinger 2017 Hillside Red, Burgenland

After attending an industry tasting on Burgenland wine, my eyes were opened to this region that is the top producer of reds in Austria. Hillinger is a great producer and they do it with some uncommon (outside of Austria) grapes. This easy-to-love blend features 60% spicy Syrah, 30% fruity Zweigelt and 10% supple Merlot. Dark ruby in the glass, it has aromas of fruit and spice. On the palate, blackberries come forth with cherries, smokiness and black pepper.

The use of oak aging is restrained, allowing for a beautiful, laid-back finish. Highly recommended. Priced around $24. 

Montes de Leza Rioja Blanco

Montes de Leza 2021 Limited Edition Leas, Rioja

This is an unusual wine for us. We regularly enjoy Spanish wines from Rioja, but they almost always are red and mostly Tempranillo. This wine flips the script and is a white Rioja made with 100% Viura. I’ve had a chance to tour Rioja and tried some whites and they can be quite enjoyable, as is this one.

It comes from the northwest DOCa Rioja Alavesa, which is known for producing some delicate wines. Indeed, this wine weighs in with a mere 12.5% ABV, which means you can pair it with a wide variety of lighter dishes without overwhelming them. In the glass this is a pale greenish yellow. On the tongue this has notes of citrus and white fruits. Perfect with salads, pasta, and seafood. I scored this for a mere $12.99.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Stift Klosterneuburg Sparkling Grüner Veltliner Unveils Delicious Bubbles


This Austrian Sekt has a legendary past.

During our recent wine dinner featuring six big California reds, we starting things on a lighter note. The opening wine was the Stift Klosterneuburg Sparkling Grüner Veltliner.

Austrian Sekt Bubbles With History

The sparkling wine in Austria is called sekt. I’ve enjoyed a bottle or two of German sekt, but this is the first I’ve had from Austria and, in fact, didn’t know they made it.

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Sparkling wine in Austria actually dates back to 1859 and Emperor Franz Josef is said to have enjoyed a bottle of sekt every Sunday. It’s surprising to learn that Austria has created a sparkling wine innovation that is with us today. The wire cage (muselet) that fits over the cork in sparkling wine and is used around the world today was developed there.

The weather conditions were perfect for me to introduce the sekt on the patio. Showers had moved out earlier in the day, but a gusts of wind still wafted around.

As we poured the bubbly, I related the “legend of the veil,” first recorded in the 14th century. About 900 years ago, on their wedding day, Prince Leopold III and his bride Agnes stood on a Leopoldsberg Hill. A sudden gust of wind took hold of Agnes’ bridal veil and blew it off her head.

In present time, the wind cooperated on the patio and a nice gust of wind blew just at that time in my story. I only wish I thought to toss a white napkin in the air.

Vadouvan Spiced Carrots & Radishes

The Prince, The Bridal Veil And The Monastery

Agnes’ veil, was made of a fine fabric from Byzantium, and flew over the hills of the Leopoldsberg. Leopold knelt down and swore to found a monastery in the place where he’d find the veil again. Nine years later, Leopold was hunting in the area all at once the dogs started to bark in the scrub. There was the white veil, hanging fully intact on a blossoming elder tree. On that spot, the Klosterneuburg monastery was built. Without that veil, we would have none of the delicious sekt that is produced there!

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Stift Klosterneuburg is the oldest wine estate in Austria, being founded in 1114. Grüner Veltliner is the most widely grown grape in Austria and produces world-class wines in a variety of styles. The sekt has delicate froth with fruity and spicy notes. In the glass the fine bubbles shot up in continuous streams, adding to the elegance of the occasion.

The flavors of pears, apples, and peaches blend deliciously in this brut-style wine. It has a crisp and clean finish.

We served the bubbles with a savory dish of Vadouvan Spiced Carrots and Radishes prepared by our friend Dathan of Triangle Around Town. This was a great counterpoint to the sekt and a standout pairing.

At about $20 or less, this is a great buy for entertaining.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Moon Mountain District Wines Sky High With Premium Quality

Moon Mountain District Dinner - 1

Moon Mountain District crafting premium reds from mountainous perch in Sonoma County.

By Dave Nershi, CSW

Vino-Sphere Publisher

Ten years ago I tasted my first wine from Moon Mountain, buying five bottles from the Moon Mountain Vineyard winery. The luscious wine soon ran out and to make matters worse, I learned the winery was closing. My lingering fears were unfounded as Repris Wines purchased the property and continued and expanded the reputation of the legendary vineyard and wine from this special slice of Sonoma continues to flow.

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The Moon Mountain District AVA, formed in 2013, is in a mountainous region in the very east of Sonoma County. It is made entirely of hillside vineyards, some incredibly remote, with iron-rich volcanic soil. A clear view to San Francisco 50 miles south is not uncommon.

Moon Mountain Wines - 1


Wines made there have been famed since the 1880s. Phil Coturri, vineyard manager and pioneer of organic and biodynamic winegrowing in California, explains the uniqueness this way, “The multiplicity of slopes, aspects, exposures, and elevations, combined with volcanic soils enlivened with organic matter and enhanced by complex cover crops creates flavors as unique as the terroir found in the Moon Mountain District --  of course, the attitude of the winegrower adds additional spice.”

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We recently celebrated these magnificent wines with the Red Side of the Moon: A Moon Mountain AVA Dinner, pairing six wines with tasty gourmet dishes. These are premium red wines and most have limited production. Although these are "big" wines, we were impressed with the richness and balance that translated to grace and power. We decanted each wine for at least an hour.

Kamen Cab, Lasseter Syrah & Stew - 1

Our group included wine writers Dathan and Jen of Triangle Around Town and Arthur and Mary Barham of Merlot2Muscadine as well as friends Robert and Linda. Each wine was served with a specially crafted dish.

For “lift off” on our voyage to the Moon, we started with a sparkling Grüner Veltliner Sekt (more on that in a separate story) and the Reprise 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Heritage Clones. This was paired with Vadouvan Spiced Carrots & Radishes and a cheese selection. The unique French spices, a take on Indian masala, created a complex blend of smokiness and sweetness that worked wonderfully with both wines.

moon mountain group Cheers

The Repris Cabernet uses the Moon Mountain Clone evolved in volcanic soil over four decades. It includes some of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines in California and delivers a wine that delighted the group with aromas of dark fruit and sweet spices. This is a savory wine that immediately opens your eyes to the glorious potential of Moon Mountain District.

Pairing six big reds with a dinner menu can be ticklish, but the Green Dragon was up to the challenge. Our next dish was a Beef & Vegetable Stew and a Thai Quinoa Crunch Salad (prepared by me). The stew was a lighter affair just perfect for the Kamen 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Moon Mountain and the Lasseter 2018 Syrah Moon Mountain.

Faces at Red Side of the Moon Dinner - 1

The Kamen captured fans right away with raspberry and violet notes riding on complex dark chocolate layers. Minerality and smooth tannins make for a great finish. The Lasseter was the only non-Cabernet wine and provided a nice contrast with a decided Old World vibe and brambly notes of sweet oak and blackberry. At this point, our guests have become avid Moon Mountain admirers.

Moon Mountain Menu

All six wines have ABV levels above 14.5% and two have more than 15%, so it was time for a pause. Arthur presented his intermezzo, a chilled fruit soup duet. We enjoyed a Peach & Champagne Shooter and a Pear, Prosecco & Mint Spoon. Now that’s the way to cleanse your palate!


Two very special wines were teed up for our next entrée: Seared Duck Breast with Port & Cherry Sauce. What a refreshing food pairing. The duck offers a delicious change from steak, with its rich meat and robust flavor.

Louis M. Martini Monte Rosso and Duck - 1

The Louis M. Martini 2018 Monte Rosso Vineyard has the vineyard’s signature spice and sweet oak aromatics. Topping out at 16.1% ABV, I wondered it this would be too “big,” but it proved to be big, balanced and agile – like the Yankees Aaron Judge. Monte Rosso has been producing award-winning wines for three generations. This is a bottle that can and should be aged to fully integrate the tannins.

Stone Edge Farm Winery is an interesting producer that is focused on organic grapes and high environmental standards. It produces energy independent of the power grid and has a carbon footprint below zero. However, my main interest was it’s 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon. This has 4% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc, which fine-tunes the powerful Cabernet flavor. On the tongue there are baking spices, ripe cherries and tobacco.

Red Side of the Moon, Chocolate - 1


For our “wine-down” we moved out to the patio and amidst the torch flames enjoyed a selection of Dark Chocolate Truffles and Caramels. Our final Moon Mountain District wine was the B Wise 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Moon Mountain. A 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, just over 500 cases were produced. After five big reds, could the B Wise still delight? Yes, with exceptional balance, jammy goodness, dark fruit and hints of leather this was a perfect wrap up to the evening.

The greatness of these wines is undeniable right now, even though most are designed to age, some up to 20 years. The warmer climate, longer growing season, and rocky high-altitude soils make Moon Mountain wines a memorable treat. If you are unfamiliar with this unique region, the Moon Mountain District Winegrowers Association website provides a nice background.

Full Disclosure: These wines were received as a marketing sample.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Argentina Escapade: Visiting Buenos Aires

Floralis Genérica sculpture in Buenos AiresBuenos Aires is bold and bustling. Here’s our travel tale including the top attractions in Buenos Aires.

Unique Argentina

Argentina is a big, beautiful country – eighth largest in the world and second largest in South America. During our recent visit we covered the country from north to south, enjoying its splendor, unique culture, attractions, and people. We began our odyssey in Buenos Areas, the country’s capital.

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Argentinean wine really moves me: rich and powerful expressions of a vibrant land. Through the Asia Pacific Wine and Spirits Institute Argentina wine course I became certified as a specialist in that country’s wine. APWASI courses are unique in that they spend a great deal of time on the history and culture of countries, not just the grapes. Learning about the asado (grand barbecue), tango, the natural beauty, and the country’s tumultuous history piqued my sense of adventure.

Our trip covered Buenos Aires, Salta, Cafayate, Mendoza, and Patagonia’s El Calafate. We’ll share our experience in a series of posts.

Traveling To Argentina

We worked with KimKim, a travel outfit from Colorado that specializes in personalized trips for independent travelers. They prepared an itinerary based on our specifications, reserving lodgings, arranging transfers, and setting up most excursions. They also arranged our domestic flights in Argentina (it’s a big country).

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Travel to Argentina requires a bit of endurance if you are coming from the US. We are located in North Carolina and so had to fly to JFK, then to Santiago, Chile, and then over to Buenos Aires. It was a course that took more than 20 hours and spread into the next day.

We stayed in the 474 Buenos Aires Hotel, on San Martin, just around the corner from Corrientes Avenue, which is the main street that leads to the Obelisco, the city’s trademark monument. You may have seen it during Argentina’s World Cup championship celebration.

We arrived at the hotel in the morning. When we finally stepped out to see the city on Sunday afternoon, we thought, this is pretty low-key. Not many people on the streets and many businesses closed. We decided to take a walk after dinner and found the city exploding with people and activity. Dinner time begins at 9 and the evening usually doesn’t hit full tilt until 10.

The next day I decided I needed some Argentinian pesos. I was warned against changing money at the airport due to the poor exchange rate. When we arrived, the official exchange rate was $1US to 155 pesos. However, there is a quirk. The illegal (but widely accepted and available) blue rate for exchange is almost twice as good. Using a referral, I went to a little shop with $100 US and left with wads of rubber-banded 1,000 peso notes at more than 300 to one exchange.

The economy is a bit tumultuous. Although the price of goods and dining is inexpensive, it is a moving target, with prices going up to keep up with the ever-changing inflation. That’s fine for the tourist, but for the Argentina resident with no change in wages and the same bills to pay, it is a mountain to climb. That’s why the US dollar is king and it’s good to keep some to spread around as necessary.

Must See Attractions In Buenos Aires

Here are four must see attractions to see in Buenos Aires:

   Gala Tango - 1


Argentina Tango Show

The tango dance, full of drama, sensuality, and sweeping steps, is the rhythm of Buenos Aires and this country. It began in the tenements of La Boca on the riverfront in the 19th century and became respectable with the upper class in the 1920s and 1930s. In the 1940s and 1950s, the people of Buenos Aires celebrated tango as the national music of the people.

Tango artists lent Evita Perón her support, but a military coup ousted Peróns in 1955 and forbade large tango dances. The dance fell out of favor, but saw a huge upswing in the 1990s. You can see and dance the tango at a milonga (dance hall). We chose to enjoy a tango show and dinner through Gala Tango. We were picked up and returned to our hotel, something very helpful on the second day in a new city.

The event featured a beautiful setting with a delicious gourmet meal. The meal dinner appetizers, a choice of main dish and dessert. To enhance the evening, there was an unlimited supply of drinks. In our case we savored the sparkling wine and moved to the famous Argentinian Malbec for the dinner.

The show features 19 performers on stage, including three tango couples, and a lead female and male singer and a small orchestra. The energy for the show was through the roof! There are no bad seats in the restaurant and the service was attentive. A highlight of the evening included Rodolfo Ruiz, who plays the traditional 10-stringed charango instrument. He is a virtuoso and played the instrument with the intensity of a Led Zeppelin guitar solo.

The finale included all performers on stage waving the Argentina flag while images of Evita Perón flashed on the screen. It was an electric moment. Price is about $165 per person. There are cheaper options, but why scrimp? Dinner starts at 8:00 PM with the show starting at 10 PM.


Obelisco de Buenos Aires

The Obelisk is the national symbol of Argentina and an icon of Buenos Aires. When Argentina won the World Cup in 2022 thousands flooded the Plaza de la República. In  fact, the explosion of happiness jammed the area so much that the team bus couldn’t make it to the Obelisk and the team had to fly over in a helicopter.

The monument, erected in 1936, measures 221 feet tall. It is located on the spot where the Argentinian flag was raised for the first time in 1812. It is located at the intersection of avenues Corrientes and 9 de Julio.

An evening visit is suggested as it is beautifully lit and is central to an area alive with nightlife including restaurants, shops, and theaters.

La Boca - 1

La Boca District

La Boca is a colorful neighborhood near the Port of Buenos Aires. It began as a melting pot of cultures as immigrants arrived to work in the port. Many of the homes are made of multi-colored pieces of corrugated metal from shipping containers, giving the residences the look of a colorful patchwork quilt.

This area was important to the development of the tango, and tango dancers perform regularly outside a local restaurant. Residents have been known as hard-working, no nonsense people in contrast to richer residents to the north. The area is known for the Boca Juniors soccer team, one of the two largest teams in Argentina. The players reflect the fighting spirit of the barrio.

The pedestrian streets are bustling, although the actual area is just a few blocks long. There are shops, restaurants and dance clubs.

Recoleta Cemetery - 1

Cementerio de la Recoleta

Who would have every thought that a cemetery would make our list of top Buenos Aires attractions? Recoleta, however, is no ordinary gravesite. Located in a posh neighborhood, the cemetery features thousands of statues, crypts, mausoleums, sculptures, and little houses containing the earthy remains of notable people, presidents, Nobel Prize winners, the founder of the Argentinian Navy and military leaders.

During our visit the sky was overcast with rain drizzles – just perfect for this eerie and impressive place. Our guide led us down the lanes and it seemed like each crypt had its own story. Families pay to ensure the proper upkeep of crypts and sometimes have fresh flowers or other decorations weekly to keep the memory of loved ones alive. While we were touring we saw a workman tinkering with a chain mechanism used to lower new coffins into the lower reaches of a mausoleum.

Of particular interest was the crypt of the Duarte family, where Evita Peron is buried. Flowers and notes to Evita festooned the ironwork. This is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. Every sculpture tells a story and it is a site not to be missed.

Our adventure continues in our upcoming posts as we travel the country from north to south, tasting wine, enjoying the cuisine, and finding the unusual.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Viña Ardanza 2016 Reserva, Rioja

Vina Ardanza 2016 Reserva

A family winery founded in Rioja more than 220 years ago produces this perfect red for your table.

A family winery founded in Rioja more than 220 years ago produces this perfect red for your table. La Rioja Alta, SA, is under its fifth generation of family management and is located in the Rioja Alta region.

We recently had the chance to taste the remarkable Viña Ardanza 2016 Reserva. Grapes from the Rioja Alta subregion sit at a loftier altitude in Rioja and the cooler temperatures produce higher acidity. Grapes ripen more gradually, allowing for more complex flavors.

Tempranillo (80%) is blended with Garnacha. The grapes are hand-picked and transported in refrigerated boxes (it gets hot in Spain!). The Tempranillio is aged for 36 months in American oak and the Garnacha is aged for 30 months.

In the glass the wine is an intense garnet color. The nose gives a foretaste of what’s to come: rich fruit aromas of stewed cherries. This wine opens up wonderfully on the palate, the raspberry and red fruit touched with baking savory spices. The oaking is refined and brings subtle vanilla to the soft, round tannins. It is a wine that is elegant and accessible yet powerful and stylish. It’s a wine you don’t want to swallow because you want the enjoyment to continue.

This is a perfect match for roast meats, game, spicy fish casseroles, smoked and aged cheeses, and barbecues. The retail price is about $41 and is a tantalizing value at that figure.

La Rioja Alta, SA, was recently recognized as one of the world’s most admired wine brands. In the late 1980s company expanded with a new winery in the Rioja Alavesa subregion and then into Ribera del Duero, and the home of Albariño, Riax Baixas.

Full disclosure: This wine was received as a marketing sample.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

WIYG: What In Your Glass? Here’s Our Latest

PXL_20230122_002134597.PORTRAITWIYG? That’s a question we are often asked. Here’s a look at what's in our glass.

Naked Wine Company “Oh! Orgasmic” 2014 Tempranillo

This is an excellent wine. The name is one reason it remained buried in the cellar. You can’t really open this bottle with a group of friends or family. Things could get really weird!

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The good news is the wine is delicious and still in its prime drinking window. Plenty of dark, thick, fruit notes.

It comes from a wine region that is trending with us – the Columbia Gorge. A scant 550 bottles were produced. Although the winery is now called Evoke, they still offer the Oh! Orgasmic line and the current vintage has a list price of $80.

Whether it delivers on its name is for you to decide!

Hillinger Secco NV

PXL_20230128_190244654Hillinger has become my favorite Austrian winery. Mostly I enjoy their unique red blends that include Blaufränkisch, St. Laurent, and Zweigelt.

I was delighted to see this bottle of rosé nestled on a shelf of a local wine shop. The wine is made from Pinot Noir in the same method as Prosecco.

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Upon opening a tidal wave of froth filled the flutes, just perfect for an unseasonably warm afternoon on the patio. Light strawberry notes match the gorgeous pink color. A touch of kiwi is perfect for this young and fresh wine. A mere $19.

A portion of the sales benefits the fight against breast cancer.

Bennet Lane 2014 Maximus

PXL_20230128_235557308.PORTRAITThe Napa Valley blend is labeled as a “red feasting” wine. We popped is open during an evening of appetizers and games with our friends.

Maximus delivered maximum enjoyment! This is a plump, lush wine with a cherry bowl aroma. On the palate there are dark flavors of chocolate, fig, and dried cherries.

At a $55 price point, it has already leaped onto my list of top red blends to savor. The blend is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Syrah, and 7% Merlot.

The winery is home to more than 65 90+ point wines. Maximus is insanely good. Get some for your next feast.


Doña Paula 2021 Velvet Blend Blue Edition

PXL_20230129_020214977.PORTRAITThis blend from Mendoza, Argentina, features Malbec, Pinot Noir, and Bonarda. You don’t find many blends with Pinot Noir in them. Now I know why.

This wine didn’t have the expected richness of Malbec, but rather an earthy undertone with slight cherry. The body is nice and silky. There were tannins and some spices, but overall, I didn’t get it. I have enjoyed other Doña Paula wines, but this one wasn’t a cohesive, enjoyable sip.

Argentina, I love you, but this bottle fell short.