Chilean wine has come a long, long way from the $3 plonk I drank in college. This very good value bottle comes from Concha Y Toro, a winery run by people I've come to really appreciate. Concha is actually a huge operation with a slew of labels-including Casillero del Diablo, Don Melchor, Cono Sur, Terrunyo, and Los Robles-but they're very focused on quality, and in many ways resemble a collection of boutique wineries rather than a major production house. The 2008 Marques de la Casa Concha Cab is one of those wines that could easily have become an overripe, over-tannic, high-alcohol fruit bomb. Instead, it's nicely structured and well balanced, just moderately powerful and lush enough. There's a little mint…

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This is a grape - and a wine - that few people in North America have heard of, let alone tasted.  But it's well worth your time and taste buds to do so!    Torrontes is widely considered to the the "signature" white of Argentina, and as far as I can tell it's the only country that produces it.  We believe the grape is hybrid of Muscat of Alexandria and Criolla Chica, called the Mission grape in California.   This isn't a white wine for the Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio-drinking set, mind you. It has character, powerful aromatics and real body - delivering up enticing floral aromas and flavors of lime, white peach, and white melon.  Not to step on the toes of Old Spice, but this wine…

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House Resolution 5034, introduced by the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA), is supposed to be heard in June before the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Michigan’s John Conyers. If you don’t know, Michigan was the losing plaintiff in Granholm v. Heald, the 2005 case that liberalized wine shipments, and the NBWA was one of Rep. Conyers’ top five donors in the last two elections. HR 5034 would exempt anti-competitive and discriminatory state alcohol beverage laws from most federal review, including capacity cap laws. In other words, states could freely write laws making it difficult or impossible for consumers to get direct shipments of wine from wineries within and outside their state. If it passed, HR 5034 would be a complete reversal…

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Well - those people at the James Beard Foundation FINALLY figured out what's what and recognized my cousin Mark Gaier and his partner and co-owner/Chef Clark Frasier of Arrows Restaurant of Ogunquit, Maine as Best Chefs - Northeast! Many more! Read what the Portland Press Herald says. Seacoast Online says. And check out Guyot-Top 40 Restaurants in the Country. Guys, heartiest congratulations, and Christine and I had a great evening.

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I don't practice or preach wine snobbery...as you know. But I do preach that it's helpful - and can even be fun - to learn some wine lingo. My wine glossary is a lot of fun AND it will make you laugh. Give it a shot.

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I figure that if I can afford to drink wine - even bottles costing only ten or twelve bucks - I can certainly send at least that much off to The Red Cross to help the victims of this terrible disaster. So I just did, and I hope my fellow wine lovers will, too! Please do. Even at a time when things are tough in this country for a lot of folks, we have more than the best-off Haitians have ever had. OR: You can just text HAITI to 90999 on virtually any mobile phone. You can give to Doctors Without Borders You can donate to CARE

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I know, I know, everyone reaches for Santa Margherita at a holiday party or a restaurant. Hey, they spend a lot of money on advertising and the brand name is well known. But between us, it's not really good wine, and it's absurdly expensive for what you get. That's why the Wine of the week is Maso Canali Trentino Pinot Grigio. Why is this really good wine? Well I could blather on about late-harvested grapes, stainless steel fermentation, lots of contact with the lees, the fact that the same family has been farming there for 500 years, or that they don't do malolactic fermentation. The most important reason, though, is that the good folks at Maso Canali use the Passito…

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This week's WINE OF THE WEEK is Kunde Family Estate, Chardonnay Nu 2007. Now, if you like sweet, caramel-y, very soft and way-buttery Chardonnay, you won't like this one. BUT if you like fresh, crisp Chardonnay, a wine in which you can taste the fruit - crisp apples and pears - and not just tons of oak, this is one for you.  If you've ever had a true French Chablis, Chardonnay Nu may remind you of that.  I won't bore you with all the details about malolactic fermentation or new vs. old oak. I will tell you that this wine is a great companion to foods because it won't overpower their flavors with over-the-top flavors of its own.  Yet it's…

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In Argentina they call it Bonarda...what do they call it in California? Click here for the answer. Past quizzes are HERE.

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Not long ago I took a 3-day Intermediate Certificate wine class at The International Wine Center in New York. Although I was possibly the most experienced student in the class, I still learned a lot - not so much wine "facts," but really just having the opportunity to focus on wine without distractions, and getting new and different points of view. And the three days of tasting really was a great refresher for me, not having been in a formal class for awhile. The class was organized by geography, with an hour lecture/presentation followed by an hour of tasting wines from that region. We covered the US, Spain, France, and Italy among others. For beginners as well as experienced wine…

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