Wednesday, December 30, 2020

My Top French Value Wines for 2020 Enjoy!!! and Cheers to a great 2021!

2020 was the most unusual year; but it wasn’t with out it’s brighter sides which was the ability to try a wine every now and then…or maybe more than that :-). With the pandemic in place and the the trade tariffs that made finding some of your favorite French wines a little challenging. I had the opportunity to try several and these were my favorites for 2020. A lot of what makes my list has a lot to do with accessibility and the overall value of the wines. I recommend you seek these out. Cheers!

2017 Chateau Cambon la Pelouse (750ml) Cabernet Sauvignon from Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, France

Big black fruits and a ton of ripe tannins make this wine dramatic with darker edge in its blackcurrant, you get saw dust, underbrush, tobacco and earthy aromatics; it’s medium-bodied, beautifully concentrated, particularly ripe and juicy wine that will age.

2016 Chateau Larrivaux (750ml) Merlot from Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, France

Animated, with lovely aromatic upper notes, crammed with dark fruits, red cherry fruit, flowers and mint and general richness, Its dry, firm, with licorice, some bramble and tobacco notes.

2015 Esprit de Pavie (750ml) Merlot from Côtes de Castillon, Bordeaux, France

With blackberry and black-truffle nose; the Esprit de Pavie is a great Bordeaux sleeper bargains of the 2015 vintage. (a blend of vines in Côtes do Castillon and young vines from Pavie and Monbousquet from the renowned St. Emilion limestone plateau. Full-bodied, round and juicy. This spicy red has good fruit and chewy tannins and uplifting finish.

2016 Chateau Charmail (750ml) Cabernet Sauvignon from Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, France

Overlooking the Gironde River just north of Saint-Estèphe Château Charmail is one of those secret charms. The blend is 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, with a dash of Petit Verdot. It’s a medium to full-bodied, elegant, definitive wine that offers lots of darker fruits (cassis and blackberry), Powerful and ripe spice, leather and minty as well with as a kiss of forrest floor. Balanced firm and chewy.

2016 La Fleur de Bouard (750ml) Merlot from Lalande de Pomerol, Bordeaux, France

From the de Boüard family of the famed Château Angélus a bouquet of blackberry pie, raspberries, crushed flowers and hints of tobacco, with mocha, spice and mint all run through this silky energetic wine with great tannins and a nice lingering finish. 

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Contemplating Muscat, Muscadelle, and Muscadet Wine... What’s the difference?


I am writing this not only because it is a fun subject, but many people ask me what’s the difference between Muscat, Muscadelle, and Muscadet and some other similar wines. What follows is some good info; so the next time you go into your favorite wine shop you have it all straight….

Let’s talk about Muscat first. There are many pseudonyms for this grape. For example Moscato (in Italy ), Muskadel (in South Africa ), Muskateller (in Germany ) and Moscatel (in both Spain and Portugal ). Phew!!!

Why can’t everybody just agree on one freakin’ name, right? Life would be too easy.

To make it even more confusing, Muscat can have various names attached to it, such as “ Alexandria ”, “Ottonel”, and the rather drawn-out phrase “Blanc à Petits Grains”. But don’t focus on these add-on phrases – they’re just different varieties of the same grape, and all will be extremely sweet-scented, aromatic and grapey.

So, just note that Dry or Sweet; Still, Sparkling, or Fortified: Muscat has a discrete aroma and flavor that is absolutely beautifully delicious.

The next one is Muscadelle, which is not related to Muscat at all. Just to be clear….

Muscadelle, is one of the three grapes allowed for white French Bordeaux, the other two more notable grapes being Sauvignon blanc and Sémillon.

Muscadelle is commonly used to add a tangy and tasty, youthfulness to white Bordeaux blends. It hardly ever gets top billing because it lacks the characteristics necessary to make a single varietal wine you’d call yummy. But it’s a matter of taste. If you see one, pick it up and try it.

Wait! hold your horses!

There is one exception to this Muscadelle rule and it is in Australia, where Muscadelle is used on its own to produce lusciously sweet fortified wines. The grape is called “Tokay” over there. Don’t ask why. But it is incredible! By the way, there is Tojaji from Hungary which Peter the Great used to drink calling it the “Wine of Kings” …but that’s another story.

Finally, there’s Muscadet. A popular LIGHT and DRY wine produced in the western part of France's Loire region.

Distinct from most other wines in France, the name of the wine is not taken from a town or geographic area, but rather from a grape known locally called Muscadet, even though its proper name is Melon de Bourgogne.

Although it can be a bit neutral in flavor, Muscadet has a lot of energy. It is dry with a crisp zippy acidity, making it a great match for shellfish. You might see the term “sur lie” on the label. If you do, make sure to buy that one because it has been aged on the lees (with all the wine sediment), and this lends a delicious richness to the wine.

I hope this helps clarify Muscat, Muscadelle, and Muscadet; because it’s really great stuff and if you love wine you should be having a lot of these three.


Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Wine is Good for you! It boosts the immune system; fights the flu and cures sore throats too!...It protects you!

Whoever thought we would have and Outbreak; much less an Outbreak that would force us to be in hideaway. But here we are and 2020 is going to be interesting. While we practice 'safe at home' and 'stay at home'. It's probably a good time to be with a close knit group and try to enjoy things as much as possible; have some of your favorite food and wine as we work our way through this Coronavirus(Corvid-19).

Did you know wine protects you? No Seriously...

Wine keeps you healthy and prevent you from getting sick. It's just the kind of news we need these days. Especially in these times with the Coronavirus (Corvid-19) and practicing Social Distancing and Self Quarantining.

New research reveals that high concentrations of resveratrol — a compound that is found in red wine — can stop poxviruses from multiplying in human cells. It boosts the immune system; plus fights influenza and it cures sore throats.

Researchers working at Kansas State University in Manhattan as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tested various concentrations of resveratrol in human cells infected with the vaccinia virus.

This is a close relative of the virus that causes smallpox and it also formed the vaccine that eradicated the deadly human disease. Their study showed that resveratrol stops vaccinia virus from replicating its DNA and genome.

Why is this important?

Wine protects you. At high concentrations, resveratrol stopped vaccinia from multiplying itself in the early phase of infection, thereby preventing the virus from spreading to other cells.

There has been news in the past that drinking wine can help a lot things. It can maintain heart health, prevent cancer and even settle a mean case of diarrhea. Research even now shows it’s also good for your throat. According to a new study, a cocktail of compounds found in both red and white wine fights germs that can cause sore throats.

“Exposure to wine had a persistent antibacterial effect,” the authors wrote in their study, detailed in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Prior to their research, the authors said the effects of wine against germs found in the mouth hadn’t been studied.

After isolating the compounds from wine, which included lactic, malic, succinic and tartaric acids, the researchers neutralized their acidity. They then showed that the isolated antibacterial compounds were more successful than wine alone at killing 99.9 percent of the sore throat bacteria, even when used in far lower concentrations than found in wine.

Furthermore, drinking wine may help prevent influenza, as a compound found in these beverages can boost the immune system, scientists say.

Researchers at Washington University in the US found that a particular gut microbe can prevent severe flu infections in mice, by breaking down naturally occurring compounds called flavonoids.
This strategy is effective in staving off severe damage from flu when the interaction occurs prior to infection with the influenza virus, researchers said.

Microbes that live in the gut do not just digest food. They also have far-reaching effects on the immune system, they said. "For years, flavonoids have been thought to have protective properties that help regulate the immune system to fight infections," said Ashley Steed, from St Louis Children's Hospital in the US.

"Flavonoids are common in our diets, so an important implication of our study is that it is possible Flavonoids work with gut microbes to protect us from flu and other viral infections," Steed said.

Flavonoids are commonly in red wine. It can be French Wine, California Wines, Canadian Wines, Wines from Spain even Champagne! Any wine!

It's really encouraging to know...

The previous studies found that the gut microorganisms in our bodies may be important in protecting against viruses and severe influenza infections, so in this study, researchers aimed to identify just what gut microbes might provide that protection. "This prevented influenza-related lung damage in the mice. It is this kind of damage that often causes significant complications such as pneumonia in people," 

Interestingly, red wines have stronger bacteria-fighting effects than white wine, although not by much. Curiously, the acidity and alcohol isn’t responsible for wine’s germ-fighting properties—instead, it’s a collection of organic (carbon-containing) compounds found in the drink. How about that?

So, have some wine and know that it is really is good for you in more ways that you could have thought! 

Take care

Monday, February 10, 2020

There’s two worlds you say? - Two very distinctive styles of wines? ... The “Old World” and the “New World” - Which style is better?

In the world of winemaking there are two different Worlds. Known as
the “Old World” and “New World”. Likewise, no two wines are created
the same.

There’s two worlds you say…?


And in both these worlds the approaches to making wine give life to
two very distinctive styles of wines. The “Old World” and the “New

Geography plays a huge part in the flavor profile of wines but
tradition also impacts the approach winemakers take when deciding on
what sort of artistic quality they use and at the end of the day what
type of wine style they intend to make.

So, wines made in the “Old World” style are related to the traditional
winegrowing regions in Europe such as France, Italy, Spain and
Portugal. These regions are famous for their early history in wine
production, with their style of wine regularly showing a level of
elegance and finesse sought out by the global wine enthusiast.

On The other Hand, wines made in the “New World” are from countries
where winemaking is a comparatively modern industry. Places like North
America, Australia and New Zealand have a winemaking history that is
only 100 to 200 years old. These wine producing countries are often
climatically varied to those of their European counterparts. So these
‘New World’ regions frequently experience longer, warmer summers that
result in riper fruit with more obvious varietal characteristics.

What is the real difference in Old World and New World Wines?

With a very deep and wide history, the Old World winemaking approach
evokes images of age old, traditional wine practices where, because of
the climate, the varietal expression is difficult so the winemaker
will focus more on creating a wine that has wonderful structure and
texture. The Old World style develops softer, more subdued oak flavor
profiles – to ensure balance with those subtler varietal expressions.
These wines tend to be defined by the winemaker’s knowledge of
blending theory where the winemaker tries to produce a ‘seamless
transition across the palate’, from start to finish.

Winemakers in the New World tend to be blessed with a warmer climate
and so their approach will often focus on emphasizing the evident
primary fruit features delivered naturally by Mother Nature.

Yet again, to ensure balance, the winemakers may employ stronger oak
influences and will create wines that are noticeably fuller bodied
than their European counterparts. These factors are most notable in
the highly regarded big & bold Shiraz style for which Australia is
most famous and Wines from Napa Valley

Which style is better?

Wine is in the eye of the beholder. That’s entirely up to you, your palate,
and how you’re trying to enjoy your wine or what food you are pairing it with.

Wines made in the the Old World style are often designed with the
intention of cellaring, allowing the further development palate
structure and texture over time. For some this approach is considered
the hallmark method of crafting exceptional wines – particularly the
long-lived Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux, France.

 But in no way does this mean that New World wines are not designed to age.
The approach is just different. For example, In fact it is well known historically
that the Wines of Napa Valley have outscored the wines of France head to head
in several very famous competitions over the past 40 years.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Oregon Wines versus their (90+ Point) European counterparts! - Wednesday February 26, 2020 at Vizcaya Restaurant - 6:30-9:30 PM - $75 - A Very Special Wine Dinner

A Very Special Wine Dinner is coming soon – An American Wine Society Tampa Event

Join us for a Night of Award-Winning Oregon Wines versus their (90+ Point) European counterparts!

Coming Wednesday February 26, 2020 at Vizcaya Restaurant - 6:30-9:30 PM - $75

3671 S West Shore Blvd,
Tampa, FL 33629

Chef and restaurant personality; Vizcaya Restaurant’s Felix Piedra with Tampa’s Wine Correspondent, Ralph Del Rio, have prepared an exclusive wine dinner experience just for you. Each of Felix’s deliciously made courses is perfectly paired with a new world vs old world selection of wines from Northwest winery of the year winner Reustle-Prayer Rock Vineyards.

Owner/Winemaker and wine judge Stephen M. Reustle will present wines from Umpqua Valley’s AVA and compare them with their European counterparts. Traveling from Rioja, to Burgundy, Northern Rhone Valley, and Austria would take a great deal of time and effort.

…But located below Willamette Valley in the Umpqua Valley of Oregon you can experience wines that rival wines these European prestigious wine regions.

For this American Wine Society Tampa Bay event; we will present four award -winning wines from the Umpqua Valley match and them up with a delicious chef inspired plate… Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Tempranillo and taste them side-by-side with their (90+ point score) European counterparts.

...Featuring some of the Top Wines of 2019

“After tasting these wines an knowing how great Oregon terroir is; I know that this a one of a kind event that’s going to be a lot of fun, educational and hedonistic.” – Ralph Del Rio, Certified Somm

Seats are limited and filling up quickly, contact to reserve today

Contact or

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Wines of France - COMING SOON! JANUARY 30, 2020 THURSDAY 6:30 PM-9:30 PM - Beaune's Wine Bar - Ybor City (Tampa)

Wines of France

…A night with wines from arguably the world's most important wine-producing country

Wine and Charcuterie - $40-50 Thursday January 30, 2020 6:30 -9:30 (a supercharged assembly of charcuterie plus any surprises) this will be an assortment of cured meats and veggies paired with different accompaniments, such as toast, fruit, cheeses, and sauces. It’s going to be great! Good wine good education and food pairing! Along with French wine from different regions.

Beaune’s Wine Bar/West Palm Wines

located at:

2009 N 22nd St.

Tampa, Fl 33605

You will have access to their wine cave/cellar with some incredible wines. (Seriously folks…)

There will be discounts on wine purchases too!

Beaune’s (pronounced Bone’s) is the wine capital of Burgundy in the Bourgogne region of France. It’s known as “a wine lovers paradise.” Beaune’s Wine Bar bears the same name and reputation.

*In regards to Beaune’s Wine Bar …. Very few establishments in the Tampa Bay area have been granted Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence. Nine, to be precise, Bern’s, Bob Heilman’s, Forlini’s, Island Way Grill, Tio Pepe, Charley’s, Columbia, SideBern’s and Beaune’s.

Get ready for French Wine paired with a variety of fromages and other culinary musings.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Terroir, Terroir Terroir! It's difficult to study on a scientific level...

Terroir, Terroir Terroir!

Terroir is a key concept in viticulture because it relates to the bodily characteristics of wine in respect to the environmental and socio- economic conditions in which the grapes are grown.
Grading the quality of wine and wine style most likely, to a large extent, can be explained by terroir. (The winemaker and his process may quibble at that)

But, terroir is very difficult to study on a scientific level because many factors are involved, including climate, soil, cultivation and human practices, all of these factors interact.

The best expression of terroir is achieved when the capacity of the grapevine variety is suited to the local climatic conditions in such a way that full ripeness of the grape is reached by the end of the growing season; Not every grape can be grown in very place.

Also, grapes are an extremely climate sensitive crop and vines have been cultivated for several thousand years. What has happened is that over time many grape growing regions have been recognized, whose specific climatic conditions matched the capacity of certain varieties to produce wines of distinctive character.

To produce high-quality red wines, environmental conditions should encourage reasonable vine strength, either through practical water shortage stress or through low nitrogen supply which comes from surroundings with shallow or stony soils, in temperately dry climates. Likewise, regular but not excessive vine water and nitrogen supplies are needed to produce high-quality white wines.

However, great terroir emerges almost only when socio-economic conditions are satisfactory to the establishment of quality-orientated wine production. These conditions are is often measured as a combination of education, income and occupation. As we know, examinations of socioeconomic status often expose inequities in access to resources, plus issues related to privilege, power and control.

Those with more money and better access have more opportunities...and you have chances at better Terroir because of it. It's just the way it is.