Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wine of the Week - a Personal Favorite Barnard Griffin 2013 Chardonnay @BarnardGriffin


Crowd pleasing style, but not gimmicky. My go to white wine.

The Washington Chardonnay I continue to return to is one I have enjoyed over many years. That is, the Chardonnay made by winemaker Rob Griffin of Barnard Griffin Winery in Richland, Washington.

I've been a fan since, well, at least before they opened their tasting room in 1997. Rob Griffin was the original winemaker for Preston Cellars, 1979 - 1983, and I started drinking those wines in 1986. Then he was the winemaker and GM for Hogue Cellars 1984 - 1991, which I also started drinking in 1986. Rob and his wife Deborah Barnard created their Barnard Griffin label in 1983, which I started drinking in the early 1990's. For me, Barnard Griffin is synonymous with Washington Wine.  I even worked for Barnard Griffin Winery 2005 - 2007. We have a history.

Rob Griffin with daughter Elise.

Today Rob is still the winemaker, his older daughter Elise is now the tasting room manager for the winery. His youngest daughter Megan, is the winemaker for Preston Cellars. And Deborah Barnard has a glass studio attached to the expanded winery and bistro. It pleases me to see a family owned Washington winery continue the family business. Growing stronger and becoming better known. I encourage you to visit the winery and bistro in Richland, Washington. If you see a bottle of Barnard Griffin wine on the shelf, grab it.


Tasting Notes Barnard Griffin 2013 Chardonnay

Color: Gold.
Nose: Toasty pear, melon, hazelnut shell, hint of river rock.
Palate: Brioche, pear, melon, ginger, nutty, fresh, nice tingle on tongue, medium bodied with light spice on the finish. Like.

After 15 minutes: Pear and Chamomile, stony with hints of Mandarin and hazelnut shell on the nose. Delicate creaminess, nutty, pear skin, fresh, flavor concentrated mid-palate, modest tingle on the gums, nutty with lime and pear on finish. Like.

After 2 hours: Nice mineral quality. Nutty pear, fresh, vanilla cream spice, nice lift and splash mid-palate, medium-light body, cinnamon on the crisp, medium finish. Like.

Thoughts: Wonderful after work wine. Not overly complex, lightly oaked, fresh and enjoyable alone or with food. My speed. Pair with your mood and shellfish. Grilled bratwurst with sauerkraut and this Chardonnay, one of my favorite pairings, my comfort food. Recommended + Great Value.

Closure: Nomacorc
ABV: 13.2%
SRP: $14
Purchased locally: $9
Vineyard Locations and AVAs : Caroway Vineyard (Columbia Valley), Arete Vineyard (Columbia Valley), Crawford Vine-yard (Yakima Valley), Lonesome Spring Ranch (Yakima Valley), Conner Lee Vineyard (Columbia Valley), Gunkel Vineyard (Columbia Valley, Eastern Columbia River Gorge)


Barnard Griffin Winery & Tasting Room
878 Tulip Lane
Richland, Washington 99352
Phone: (509) 627.0266
Rob Griffin, Owner, Winemaker

Related Post: db Gallery and Studio Textures in Kiln Class


Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Season for International Expressions of Rosé @pasternakwine


There is no better time to embrace the color and flavor of Rosé.

Spring always seems to remind me of Rosé. Or is it the other way around? I am feeling the excitement as the countryside turns green, the trees are in bloom and flowers are ready to reach for the sky. These five wonderful Rose's each express some of that jubilation of Spring time renewal. Is not wine also like renewal?

“What is the scent of water?" Renewal. The goodness of God coming down like dew.” ― Elizabeth Goudge, The Scent of Water

These are wines to enjoy with food and friends. Their lovely shades of pink, orange and red hint at their food friendliness. Time to clean the grill and start cooking outside. Bring along some of these rose' wines to pair with your BBQ and Spring celebrations. Tremendous value in all five of these wines.


1. Lucien Albrecht Crémant d'Alsace Brut Rose

Color: Pale pink.
Nose: Light toast, delicate raspberry.
Palate: Soft bubbles, raspberry cream, delicate yeast, crisp and dry top palate, raspberry, dark berry and citrus on fresh, delicate finish. With air a growing finish, with a hint of cinnamon. Pretty wine, lively feeling on the tongue. Paired with Lobster Bisque.

Thoughts: Good match to the Lobster Bisque. My first thought was wedding wine. Perfect for celebrations. Good seafood companion, lobster, crab, shrimp, salmon, and bisque.
Strongly Recommended.

Blend:100% Pinot Noir
SRP: $21.99
Sample provided by Pasternak Wine Imports

Lucien Albrecht
 9, Grand'rue • 68500 Orschwihr-France •
Tel. +33 3 89 76 95 18 • Fax +33 3 89 76 20 22


Crémant d'Alsace is an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée for sparkling wines made in the Alsace wine region of Northeast France. Produced since 1900, the Crémant d'Alsace AOC was recognized in 1976 by the INAO and the designation Crémant regulated by the European Parliament in 1996. Allowed varieties are limited to riesling, pinot blanc, pinot noir, pinot gris, auxerrois blanc and chardonnay. For rosé wines, only pinot noir is allowed.

The history of the ALBRECHT family as winegrower can be traced back to 1425 with Romanu Albrecht, who was settled in the town of Thann. During the fifteenth and sixteenth century, in Thann several generations of Albrecht were elected as Bangard vinegrowers. Lucien Albrecht, Jean's father, pioneered Crémant production in 1971 and helped gain an Appellation Contrôlêe for the wine and for Alsace. The wines are vinified in the classic Champagne Method from 100% free run juice.


2. Los Vascos 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Rose'

Color: Shiny Electric pink. Pretty.
Nose: Watermelon, grapefruit, toast.
Palate: Bright, lively, watermelon candy, dry, grapefruit and pith, crisp, dry, almost tart, modest tannin noticeable on finish. Like. An enjoyable pairing with pork chops.

Day two: Strawberry, tropical, dry, light tannin, some creaminess, dry watermelon, lemon, honey finish. Big like. Enjoyed with Albacore tuna salad.

Thoughts: A flexible wine for pairing with chops, steak and seafood.
Recommended + Great Value.

Blend: 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah
Closure: Screw cap
SRP: $12.99
Sample provided by Pasternak Wine Imports

Viña Los Vascos
Camino Pumanque KM 5
VI Region
Tel : +56 72 350900
Fax : +56 72 350967


DOMAINES BARONS DE ROTHSCHILD-LAFITE  took over the Los Vascos estate (Los Vascos meaning The Basques, in honor of its Basque origins) in 1988. Los Vascos is one of Chiles oldest wine estates. Yes, on the label is the Rothschild logo, the five arrows symbolizing the five sons of original patriarch Mayer Rothschild.

Wine grapes have been produced at Los Vascos since the mid-eighteenth century. Today’s vines are the product of the selective multiplication of plants originally brought from pre-phyloxera 19th Century France.

The largest vineyard in the central Colchagua valley, at the foot of Mount Cañeten. The 640 hectares under vine are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon (85%) Carménère (5%), Syrah (4%), Malbec (1%) and Chardonnay (5%). Given that there was major replanting at the beginning of the 1990s, the vineyard is divided between a group of 15-year old plots and another group of 40 to 50-year old plots. The oldest grapevines are 70 years old.


3. Valdo Rose' Brut Spumante

Color: Shiny pink orange tinge
Nose: Delicate, stone fruit, light toast, peach fuzz.
Palate: Fresh, gentle fizz, citrus, nectarine, unripe raspberry, dry on the tongue with finish of shortbread and raspberry/strawberry cream, nice tingle. Yummy.

Thoughts: I have developed a fondness for Valdo sparkling wines. Very good with beef tacos. Also good with Wasabi Ginger chips.
Recommended + Great Value.

Blend:  Nerello Mascalese, Glera
ABV: 12%
SRP: $15.99
Sample provided by Pasternak Wine Imports

VALDO Spumanti Srl
via Foro Boario 20
31049 Valdobbiadene (TV)

About: "Vino Spumante" is typically a sweet bubbly wine, this is not that wine. 

The Scuola Spumanti Valdo (Valdo School of Sparkling Wines) is a result of Valdo’s knowledge of the territory and ongoing oenological and technological research. In this case, "Vino Spumante" referrers to "Sparkling Wine." This style of wine is characterized by a refined perlage (bubbles) that enhances the bouquet and its delicate fragrance.


4. Paul Cheneau Cava Brut Rose'

Color: Light Candy red.
Nose: Toasty cherry, honey.
Palate: Delicate perlage, cherry, strawberry, rhubarb, honey, a little creamy up front, gentle tartness tip of tongue, fresh across gums and edge of tongue. Even better the longer it was open. Creamy honey, strawberry and unripe peach on finish.

Thoughts: Good match with baked chicken. Drank like a more serious sparkling wine.

Blend: 85% Trepat, 15% Pinot Noir
SRP: $13.99
Sample provided by Pasternak Wine Imports

Giró Ribot
Finca el pont s/n
08792 Sant Fe del Penedès
Tel. +34 938 974 050
Fax. +34 938 974 311

About: CAVA

Cava in Spain was modeled after Champagne in France. Cava is typically a blend of native Spanish grape varieties. While Cava is made in the Champagne Method, only producers in the Champagne region may use the term “Méthode Champenoise,” so in Spain it is known as the “Método Tradicional” or Traditional Method.

Giró Ribot is a family owned and operated producer of Cava. They are closely tied to the Penedès region by several generations of wine, Cava and spirit producers. They developed the Paul Cheneau line of Spanish sparkling Cavas. Giró Ribot is situated at the heart of the Appellation d'Origine Penedès. In the area of Catalonnia, halfway between the cities of Barcelona and Tarragona, bordered to the south by the Mediterranean Sea and to the north by Montserrat. Who want's to go with me?


5. La Petite Perriere Rose' 2014

Color: Pale, shiny, clear melon-pink. Wedding color (hint, hint).
Nose: Pretty fruit, raspberry, banana, mineral.
Palate: Fresh, dry on the tongue, raspberry, banana, tangerine, peach. Loved the fruit, almost creamy with lively acid. With food rose petal added to profile.

Thoughts: Paired with baked chicken, Ful Medames, cucumber and strawberries. Good companion with dinner, it was wonderful with fresh strawberries and also enjoyable with hard cheese. Would pair well with acidic dishes or a fruit and cheese plate. Yes, a perfect wine for brunch, or an occasion with friends on the lanai. It would also be suitable for an after dinner dessert. Well done and my speed.
Strongly Recommended + Great Value.

Blend: 100% Pinot Noir
Closure:Screw Cap
ABV: 12.5%
SRP: $11.99
Sample provided by Pasternak Wine Imports

Saget La Perriere

About: Saget La Perriere, an 8th generation Family owned and managed Loire Valley winery.

In 1790, the Saget family embarked upon a long history dedicated to vines and wine, firmly placing Saget among just a handful of estates that can enjoy their third successive century of business. Saget La Perrière, a Loire Valley winery, is 9th Generation Family owned and managed. Brought up in the vineyards, the Saget brothers; Jean-Louis and Christian, learned from a very young age to love and respect the soil. Saget La Perrière sources two-thirds of the production in the Loire Valley from their estates with the remainder from long-term relationships with families of vine growers.

Last night on #WineChat we were discussing BBQ food and wine pairings. Yes, rose' wines are a natural fit for BBQ. You have fruit, acidity, even a little tannin. These wines will compliment and not dominate the "cue" you labored over. The crispness will even help cleanse your palate, so you can enjoy more BBQ.


Monday, March 16, 2015

3 Fabulous Wines of Fabbioli Cellars, Call Me a Fan @FabbioliWines


Excellent wines of tremendous quality and value from Virginia. 

It is time for you to discover Virginia wine country. As with any rising winery destination, the best wines receive the most attention. Evidence Fabbioli Cellars and the wines of Doug Fabbioli. If you are planning to visit Virginia, put Fabbioli Cellars on your itinerary.

"Yes, call me a fan of Fabbioli Cellars!"

The largest concentration of wineries in Virginia is Loudoun County. Doug Fabbioli returned to his roots in Virginia 18 years ago after making wine in California for 10 years. He notes that making wine in Virginia is different; collaboration is the key word for success.

(L to R) Frank Morgan with Winemaker Doug Fabbioli.

Since March 2013, my friend Frank Morgan of Drink What You Like has been collaborating with Virginia winemakers via #VAWineChat. He brings them together with savvy social media wine influencers to share the treasures of Virginia wine country. One such tasting was with Virginia Winemaker Doug Fabbioli. I was impressed by the video wine tasting Frank organized with Mr. Fabbioli. Doug and his genuine good humor, amiable disposition and dedication to making wine was self evident on the video feed. And the Fabbioli Cellars wines impressed. Frank must know I'm a big fan of both Cabernet Franc and Tannat. Yes, call me a fan of Fabbioli Cellars!

Tasting Notes


1. Fabbioli Cellars 2012 Cabernet Franc (Classic)

Nose: Friendly, earthy, smoky, cherry, coffee. I was groovin' on this wine. Focused after 35 minutes.
Palate: Tasty, round, tasty slide front to back, caramel, cherry, cranberry, medium-light body, gentle tannin on gums, food friendly, tea, gentle finish. I liked.

Day two: Soft earth, funk, raspberry, tobacco on nose. Cherry wave, fine tannin, brightness up front, light mid-palate, pleasantly dry, coffee with a note of orange into the tart medium-light finish. Srikingly similar to a good Pinot Noir.

Day three: Very similar to day two.

Thoughts: Reminded me of a Pinot Noir. Enjoyable and food worthy. Well done and Recommended.


Blend: 80% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, 5% Tannat
Oak: Hungarian
Closure: Nomacorc
ABV: 12.5%
SRP: $24
Production: 447 Cases


2. Fabbioli Cellars 2012 Tannat

*note: The Tannat was harvested in Oct. 2012, aged 20 months in American, Virginia & Pennsylvania Oak. Sometimes in Virginia they have to pick twice. Pick once then 2 to 3 weeks later go back for what was not as ripe previously and pick again. Big clusters of Tannat. Virginia is a more challenging place to grow Tannat. Doug would like to see more Tannat grown.

*note: Tasted this wine after it was open 40 minutes.

*note: I like the packaging of this wine. Bottle selection appropriate and label design presented well. 

Nose: Awesome nose. Deep fruit, chocolate, vanilla, focused spice, tobacco. Undulating sexy wine.
Palate: Spiced cherry, some currant, orange peel, dark chocolate, tar, anise, clove spice, lovely dry grip on edges of tongue and lower gum, hang time on the finish. Well done Doug. Getting the sexy on the longer it was open. Desired a steak.

Day two: Dark bloody purple color. Sexy, dark, delicious nose with Italian glove leather, spicy dark fruit, focused, blackberry, blueberry compote, black currant, black licorice. Full and round in the mouth, dry, almost tacky, a little light mid-palate, but the awesome nose and big dry finish tied it together. Well now, gave it more air and it filled out with more flavor mid-palate into the now bigger finish, and dried my cheeks. This wine definitely needs air or more time in bottle. Grilled lamb or a fatty steak would be awesome.

Day three: Inky. Still delivering. Creaminess, chocolate, dry, black cherry, tannin dried out my tongue. Oh my. Lovely.

Thoughts: Well done Mr. Fabbioli. A big, dry red wine. Drink now or hold another year or four to see what beauty develops. Strongly Recommended.


Blend: 75% Tannat, 19% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot - used American oak.
Closure: Natural cork
SRP: $45
Production: 174 Cases


3. Pear Wine

*note: Why Pear Wine? There was a big pear tree on the property when Doug and his wife purchased their soon to be vineyard. Fabbioli Cellars also makes a more expensive, $90 a bottle, Pear Wine with an actual pear in the bottle. They have to grow the pear with the bottle on, which explains the price of $90. The bottle I tasted retails for $35.

*note: I also like the presentation of this bottle, label design and bottle shape well done.

Nose: Resin honey, spicy pear, butterscotch, ginger, vanilla.
Palate: Pear crisp, dusted with cinnamon, nice finish, light, but lingering toasted pear finish.

Thoughts: Serve chilled on a hot day, serve warm on a cold day. Not heavy, lovely flavors and aromas, would be wonderful after a filling dinner paired with ginger cookies by the fire. Um, perhaps close the deal on a date too. Strongly Recommended.


Closure: Natural cork.
Blend: Asian, Bosc, Bartlett Pears, fortified with pear brandy.
ABV: 18%
SRP: $35
Production: 93 Cases

Fabbioli Cellars
15669 Limestone School Road
Leesburg, VA 20176
Phone: 703.771.1197



Doug worked in the wine cellar at Buena Vista Winery in the Carneros district of California. Over the ten years of his employment, Doug had a chance to work with many fine winemakers, including Andre Tchelicheff. He continued his education in both enology and viticulture at U.C. Davis and Santa Rosa Junior College. After he was promoted to assistant Winemaker worked 3 years until he decided to return to the East Coast. Doug accepted the winemaker position at Tarara Winery in Lucketts, VA in 1997. In 2001, Doug left Tarara Winery and became the Vintner for Windham Wines.  Doug and his wife Colleen now own their own winery, Fabbioli Cellars. They have planted a 25 acre vineyard in Loudoun County, Virginia.

Big thank you to Doug Fabbioli and Frank Morgan. Enjoyed all three of these lovely wines, which I believe you too will appreciate.

Related Post: Dreaming of Virginia Wine