June 26, 2008

Have Wine Will Travel - Gallo's New Wine Purse

While it is certainly a novel idea, I'm not sure the wine handbag (or wine in a box that looks like a handbag) is the wave of the future. A little too kitchy for my taste--though I am a rose fanatic--and I'm sure I would not settle on White Grenache as my rose of choice. A resounding, YIKES! But check it out for yourselves:

gallo_handbag_2.jpgThis package won best design and packaging prize at the 2008 Drink Business awards, for its clutch-style handbag box. Now perhaps I am just not the right kind of woman, but I found the strapline "White Grenache - loved by women almost as much as they love their handbags", a tad condescending. "Appealing directly to the rosé wine consumer" - does the love of rosé equal a love of handbags? Apparently so; according to Tesco, where it is being sold, the package has been "incredibly successful". Posted on TheDieline by Natasha Chetiyawardana

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June 24, 2008

Crazy Like a Fox - KitFox Vineyards (Part 1 of 3)

KF_Logo_PRINT.jpgMaybe I should say, "crazy for the fox." I have four new wines to bring you, but I don't want to hit you all at once so I'm going to split them into pairs. I really want you to remember these wines and relish them as much as I have relished tasting them. So when you have a minute, check out KitFox Vineyards. They're a small California property but it is remarkably evident, they have big heart.

The Vogel family have been farming the land for four generations (nuts before wine) and have the unique distinction of being the sole producers in the upstart Salado Creek AVA. And they seem to possess the requisite passion for growing the grapes as well as turning them into wine -- stunning wine, but more on that later.

SPRING---SUMMER-FOXY-WHITE-.jpgI'll be honest, I was a little nervous -- I really wanted to like the wines because I like their story. I'm a sucker for a strong family business. Add to that the classic and upscale bottle styling and a cheeky marketing campaign and I'm drawn in before the first glass is poured. So what happens if the wines are mediocre? It happens. I've seen it before. Great packaging, great story, okay wine. As I hinted above, that is not the case here. They sent me four wines to try and I followed up with a little light reading and the best part of this gig, lots of tasting. Tune in for Part 2.

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June 23, 2008

Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera 2006

fontafredbarbera.jpgVARIETAL: Barbera
REGION: Piedmont, Italy
PRICE: $10

This is as super-smooth an Italian as I've ever encountered--and that includes a few close encounters while vacationing in northern Italy one summer. Ripe, round plum and berry notes accentuated with a subtle nudge of black pepper and spice. It is a natural match for tuscan pot roast, but I like it with thin crust pizza as well. This is a great find for lovers of Italian (wines, of course) and a beautiful value-priced Barbera. I found it at Costco for $10 but you can also find it here: Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera.

p.s. If you're into ratings, this baby made the Wine Spectator Top 100 2007 and was given a whopping 90 points.

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June 20, 2008

Days of Wine and Roses - A Movie for Wine Lovers?


Days of Wine and Roses is one film not to watch if you are melancholic by nature, as this tale of middle-class alcoholism rings very true. Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick are the besotted couple who find that life is not always fun when viewed through rosé-colored glasses.

Here's our take - it's Summer and a nice old movie mixed with a little wine could be just the thing for tonight.

At Days of Wine and Roses

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June 18, 2008

Extremely Ridiculous Extreme Wine Video

A friend sent me this clip from YouTube and I am compelled to share.
Juvenile, yes. But pretty funny.

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June 17, 2008

Vinum Cellars Rose - It's Okay! 2006

vinumrose.jpgVARIETAL: Cabernet Sauvignon
REGION: Napa, California
PRICE: $11

In general, I dig what the folks at Vinum Cellars have going on. Slightly irreverant brand personality, but backed up by solid fruit and stellar winemaking. The resulting wines are what we're all about: lovingly crafted and easy on the pocketbook. That said, I don't LOVE the 2006 Rose. It is bright and crisp with decent berry notes and hint of watermelon. But it is not as layered as previous vintages that I so relished summers past. It is perfectly fine, certainly OKAY, just not as great as I remember and even a little hot on the finish. I picked mine up at World Market, but if you don't have one near you, it is also available on

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June 7, 2008

Great Wine Gifts for Dad

Now is the time to thank Dad for all of his of love and support--and for some, perhaps a thank you for imparting his years of wine wisdom. Here are some of our picks to help you do just that.

Our picks from Amazon:
31X880jTFZL._SL500_AA280_.jpgMetrokane Wine Pourer with Stopper $5
Serve wine with a touch of elegance. The Velvet wine pourer pours smoothly without drips and the stopper seals wine air-tight. Both pieces have an easy-grip velvet finish.

worldwineatlas.jpgThe World Atlas of Wine $32
Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson once again combine their unrivalled talents to enhance this masterpiece of wine knowledge. 48 extra pages, including 17 new color illustrations, 20 new maps, and double page spreads and full-page photos in the atlas section for maximum visual impact. It's an essential addition to every wine lover's or professional's library.

osteropener.jpgOster Electric Wine Opener $22
At the touch of a button, the Oster Wine Opener easily opens up to 30 bottles on a single charge. The stylish and ergonomically designed soft-grip handle will fit into the palm of your hand for a firm grip. Also includes a foil cutter to remove wine seals and a recharging base for convenience.

vacuvinopener.jpgVacu Vin WineMaster Corkscrew $45
Throw out those old corkscrews and replace them with this revolutionary one. Using it is simple. Place the Corkscrew over the top of the bottle; the built-in bottle grip will hold the bottle tightly. With both hands, gently move the handles up and down; the specially-coated spiral will easily insert into the cork and then extract it. Includes a foil cutter and a 2-year guarantee.

From Wine Enthusiast :
21344.jpgGearshift Bottle Stopper $15
Win the race against oxidation with this "5-speed" stopper! The rubber seal around the stainless steel gearshift with cherry wood knob ensures a tight fit on your wine bottle---and a fast way to lock in freshness. The ideal gift for the wine-loving car buff!

19320.jpgPersonal Wine Curator Wine Cellar Software $25
Indispensable to managing your wine cellar, this wine cellar software catalogs your collection with impressive details. You're able to categorize your wines up to 500 sub-regions. You're alerted when your cellared wines have reached maturity and match each wine to over 7,500 food pairing suggestions.

Thumbnail image for clefduvin2.jpgClef du Vin Pocket Wine Tasting Tool $130
Mature young wine instantly. When dipped into wine, the patented metal alloy on the tip replicates the aging process, softening the tannins in young wines and improving their taste.

And great gifts from Wine Messenger:

gift_3.jpgGift of Wine Boxed Sets
icon$39 - $275
Quick, easy and always appreciated, high quality wine gifts have been a Wine Messenger trademark for over a decade. Perfect for the holidays and great year-round! Giving a gift is quick and easy, simply: Select from among our range of premade gift sets; or Select your own wines and gift box them at checkout.

clubs_banner_03.jpgWine of the Month Subscription
icon$27 - $79 per month
A wonderful way to explore the world of boutique wines. Every month our Tasting Panel selects their two favorite bottles. Available in three price categories: Silver, Gold and Platinum. You are guaranteed great selections.

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Eco-Friendly Wine Packaging - French Rabbit Tetra Paks

For most people these days, Earth Day isn't just a once a year event. Even folks in the wine industry are becoming more eco-conscious in a number of ways. For wine producers, eco friendly packaging can mean cheaper to produce and cheaper to ship. For us, it means more wine for less money and ultimately less waste.

10.jpgMaking French Rabbit's New Eco-Smart Wine Bottle
How Boisset Family Estates, the third-largest French winery, launched an eco-smart alternative to the wine bottle that's remaking the industry. by Alissa Walker

U.S. wine consumption topped 300 million cases in 2007, an all-time high. The largest growth is among 21-to-31-year-olds and in $12 to $15 bottles. In fact, 70% of all wine is drunk on the day it's purchased. Boisset Family Estates sought to capitalize on this casual wine trend with French Rabbit, and for marketing and environmental reasons, "we wanted to break the tradition of presenting wine in a glass bottle," says Jean Charles Boisset, president.

Boisset chose "Tetra Pak," an aluminum-coated paperboard known for its versatility. (Everything from orange juice to soup is packaged in it.) The recyclable material is superior to glass in protecting wine from oxidation, and its thinner walls let wine chill more quickly.
Early mock-ups played with a variety of off-the-shelf Tetra Pak options, including the Tetra Brik, often used for soy milk, Boisset decided on an "octagonal one-liter" shape, a radical departure from typically dowdy bag-in-box wines. Jean Charles also liked its rounded, ergonomic qualities. "I really liked the way it felt to hold and pour out," he says.

The Tetra Pak French Rabbits arrive at stores in branded, recyclable cardboard boxes that can be used to build "distinctive displays," eliminating the need for additional, bulky point-of-scale elements. This spring, Boisset launched four-packs of "single-serving" French Rabbit to promote the wine as picnic friendly.

Boisset introduced French Rabbit in Canada in 2005 and then the United States in late 2006. It toured the country, holding blind taste tests with wine journalists, who've given the vino high marks. Consumers have too, buying more than 4.5 million French Rabbits in Tetra Pak in North America (the company also sells glass-bottle versions, so as to offer a choice). And the industry has noticed. "Over 70 wineries have launched the Tetra Pak wine since our launch," Jean Charles says.

Check out the full piece in the June 2008 issue of Fast Company

Content and images from

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June 4, 2008

Cave de Lugny Macon Villages 2006

14385_bottle.jpgVARIETAL: Chardonnay
REGION: Burgundy, France
PRICE: $11

This was sort of a last-minute buy at Whole Foods. People coming for dinner. Flounder in parchment already in the oven and I had only a bottle of rose and a bottle of albarino chilled. Not a disaster if you're having friends over. But alas we were expecting a picky relative, so off to the market. I figured you can't really go wrong with a decent white burgundy--generally pleasing to even picky palates and a good match for the fish. Not wanting to spend a lot of $$, I chose the Cave de Lugny. I was pretty familiar with other Cave de Lugny wines so I gave it a shot. Lovely scents of golden apple, pear and citrus were enticing, but there was no pay-off. I found this wine a little thin and flat, almost watery. And though it did exhibit nice, clean, distinctly Burgundian minerality, there was not much else to balance it out. I even let it warm up a bit thinking it might be too cold. Nothing helped. But I am not (yet) convinced that the problem is the wine. Next time I'll buy one off the shelf and chill it myself. Perhaps it lingered in the store's refrigerated case a bit too long? I'll let you know. In the meantime, do try to buy whites that are un-chilled and chill them yourself. Or if the store has one, use the instant chiller.

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June 3, 2008

Cameron Hughes Lot 51 Malbec 2004

btl_lot_51.pngVARIETAL: Malbec
REGION: Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza Argentina
PRICE: $11

Now this is an interesting concept -- buy surplus wine from purportedly high-end producers in all the major wine regions and sell it under one label, exclusively to Costco. My curiosity was certainly piqued when I was read the sell sheet for the Cameron Hughes Malbec, but I had my doubts as I am a little uncomfortable trying mysteriously sourced--as well as private label--wines. Part of my personal enjoyment of a wine is learning about the producer.

But I digress. You want to know what this juice is all about and I will tell you: it is not bad. I know, a little underwhelming, but frankly so is the wine. I LOVE malbec and am quite familiar with the varietal in all of its incarnations, but the style of this one just isn't quite what I was hoping for. It is quite aromatic and I did enjoy the ripe dark berry scents. However I found it a little too fruit forward for my taste. I like a malbec that shows great fruit as well as firm tannins and interesting spice. The Lot 51, to me was much more stylistically akin to an Aussie Shiraz. Again, not bad but not what I was expecting.

I will be investigating the other Cameron Hughes offerings at Costco so stay tuned.

In the meantime, check out their story for yourselves. Cameron Hughes Lot 51 Malbec

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June 2, 2008

If I could save wine in a box. . . Wine Cube Sauvignon Blanc 2006

winecube_images-thmb.jpgWhy is it that when I am in Target, things, all sorts of cheap things look cooler. I go in to buy laundry detergent and come out with new clothes, a set of unbreakable dishes for outdoor entertaining and a box of wine. A what? A book on wine? No, you heard me. A box of wine. A box of Wine Cube Sauvingon Blanc to be exact. I didn't know it at the time, but further investigation revealed that this particular California sauvignon blanc is made by Trinchero Family Estates. So I figured it was a crap shoot when I poured the first glass. Could be a hideously bitter glass of swill (a la Sutter Home) or it could the great wine find of the century - a real vinous coup. All I know was it was white, it was wine (in theory) and the bag-in-a-box contained 4 bottles for about $15.

As it happens, it was neither hideous nor outstanding. Rather, it was surprisingly okay. Bright, crisp and grassy with soft melon and apple notes. Not much of a finish, but for what amounted to $4 or so a bottle I found it pretty darn decent. AND it tasted exactly the same on day 25 as it did on day one. I would definitely serve this at parties (great for big shindigs and backyard BBQs) and most definitely would serve it to that certain set of friends who enjoy any wine you set before them. Of course, in shame I would probably put it in a carafe . . . but you won't tell, will you?

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