Burgundy vs. Bordeaux Tasting

At a dinner attended by the Wine Wise Guys, a discussion on French wines led to a Burgundy vs. Bordeaux Tasting arranged by Brian Thomas, which was held on March 19, 2014, at the Klapetzky’s. Food was ordered from Bad to the Bone BBQ in Williamson, New York.

Eight wines were blind tasted—four Burgundy and four Bordeaux—with and without food, and the ratings were entered onto individual scoring sheets. In the Burgundy grouping, the tasters were asked to identify whether the wine was a Pinot Noir or Gamay. In the Bordeaux grouping, tasters were asked to identify the Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant blends and the Merlot-dominant blends.

Wines and food were great, the companionship was excellent, and all had fun as the wines were unveiled and tasters learned how accurate they were in identifying grape types.

The final ratings reflect the top three picks from each taster. Results are below.

Burgundy vs. Bordeaux Tasting final ranking

1st: Jean-Paul Brun Ter Dor Cote de Brouilly 2011 (#3)

2nd: Ch Cap de Faugeres Cotes-de-Castillon 2004 (#6)

3rd:  Gevrey-Chambertin (Frederic Esmonin) 2005 (#2)

3rd:  Chenas Quartz Dom Piron-Lameloise 2010 (#1)

3rd:  Caronne Ste Gemme (Haut-Medoc) 2009 (#7)

3rd:  Ch. Larose-Trintaudon (Haut-Medoc) 2009 (#5)

7th:  Ch Vrai Canon Bouche (Fronsac) 2003 (#8)

7th: Emotion de Terroirs Pinot Noir Vincent Girardin (2005) (#4)

Tasting “Value” Bordeaux Wines

By Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch

The Wine Wise Guys gathered on a cold winter night and held a blind tasting of “Winter Reds.” The theme was “Value “Bordeaux Wines,” although you can see by the results that a California red-blend ringer was snuck into the mix and actually won.

All the wines were brought to the tasting in brown bags and then numbered for the tasting. Each wine was tasted and rated on score sheets, the results were tabulated, and then the wines were revealed.  The unanimous winner was the non-Bordeaux, Mazzocco’s 2011  Fascination –  a blend of 40% Zin; 30% Cab Sav and 30% Merlot from Sonoma County!

None of the bottles were finished at the tasting, so they were resealed with the vacuum cork system and tasted later in the week. It was interesting that many of the wines that received low ratings at the initial tasting improved dramatically over a couple days.

1st             2011 Mazzocco Fascination
2nd           2009 Chateau Haut Sociondo Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux
3rd            2009 LaTores Seguy Cotes de Bourg
3rd            2000 Chateau Mayne-Viel Fronsac
5th             2009 Chateau La Bedouce Bordeaux Superior
5th             2009 Cazat – Beau Chene Bordeaux Superior
7th             2009 Chateau Jacquet Bordeaux
7th             2009 Chateau Martinon
9th             2009 Chateau DuPin Bordeaux
9th             2003 Chateau La Croix de Roche

Exploring the Wineries and Inns of Prince Edward County

A Guest Blog by Cynthia Weber, Interior Decorator


Kent and I took a few days to tour into the fantastic Prince Edward County Region of Ontario. Always a wonderful destination if you love visiting wineries, enjoying great food and beautiful scenery.

The first night we stayed at the

Merrill Inn located in Picton Ontario. Nestled amongst Picton’s most elegant and historic mansions, built in 1878, this stately Inn is architecturally significant for its striking gingerbread and bargeboard trimmed gables.

It has all the characteristics I look for in an Inn, Independently owned and run, historically interesting and well appointed.

We were greeted by the owner upon arrival and given the tour. Our room was located up the wonderful main staircase, I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the details of it, so fascinating.


Another lovely feature were the front door grills, both beautiful and functional with the hinged door for venting.

I don’t mind admitting, I was very envious!

This framed collection of antique salts caught my eye… what a great way to showcase these little treasures.

Served on a lovely patio, our breakfast the following morning was well presented, fresh and delicious. Featuring local cheeses, baked goods and a hearty vegetable strata.

Full of energy we headed out to explore …

Prince Edward County is one of Canada’s precious wine regions, a tiny gem of lush beauty, lovingly cultivated by some dedicated and talented winemakers.

I had no idea that wine was made in this region more than a century ago and that the industry disappeared until a group of wine industry pioneers rediscovered the area in the 1990′s.

We stopped in at Closson Chase a real treat…

Kent and I were taken right away with the setting, right up our alley with perfectly untended gardens, just wild enough to be interesting.

The staff were informative, knowledgable and attentive yet not pretentious… a refreshing combination to be sure!

We took our selections out to enjoy in the back gardens.

Although we enjoyed all on offer, the hit for us was the 2008 K.J. Watson vineyard Chardonnay… Superb. It came home along with the 2010 Chardonnay.

Being somewhat preoccupied with presentation I was enamoured with their branding.

Inspired by Prince Edward County’s maritime tradition, the Closson Chase label makes reference to international signal flags, incorporating an original painting for Closson Chase by master painter and printmaker David Blackwood.

Taking the theme further, these amazing windows echo  the feeling of flags moving in the breeze, coaxing the sensual play of light to dance throughout the barn…

I loved it!

Our stop here was greatly enjoyed!

The next night was spent at the Auberge Victoria Rose Inn located in Gananoque Ontario.

Victoria Rose Inn

It is lovely! Our room was spacious and clean. The grounds are wonderful and so well kept… a meander around with a glass of wine in hand was a must!

The Victoria Rose Inn

Finally we made our way to the Warring House Inn and cookery school located in Picton.

the Warring House

Here again, the grounds are lovely. We enjoyed our evening meal looking out over the gardens. The vineyard cottage is where we lay our heads. It is charming and boasts a private patio.

the patio at vinyard view cottage

So, if you are thinking of exploring this beautiful area I hope you got some ideas of places to go and things to do!

We will definitely head back that way soon… it is picture perfect.

If you would like help making your home everything you want it to be please contact me. We now offer e-design packages for distance clients and our shop carries a delightful selection of beautiful items to enhance your home.

De Restia Crianza Ribera Del Duero Selected Harvest 2004 Review

By Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch, Wine Wise Guy & Wine Reviewer

We are partial to Spanish wines, so when we a had a wonderful Ribera del Duero tempranillo the other night, we knew we had to share the find with our followers.

De Restia Crianza Ribera Del Duero Selected Harvest 2004 was rated at 93 points by Wine Spectator and described as follows:

 ”This maturing red is beautifully balanced, with fresh, ripe fruit flavors of black cherry and blackberry, and deeper notes of cedar, tobacco, mineral and spice. The firm tannins are softening, yet this remains fresh and focused through the long finish.”

The dark fruits, tobacco, and spice were most prominent to our palates, and while the tannins are softening and ever so nice, there is no doubt in our minds that this wine will definitely cellar well for another year or so.

Purchase online from Marketview Liquor at $16.99 a bottle.

Xarel Lo – A Spanish Tasting Adventure

By Jean Engelke, Wine Wise Guy Reviewer

There is just nothing better to do on a snowy, wintery day then to taste good wine. I am fortunate that I have been recognized as a wine reviewer by the Wine Wise Guys. I know this because the WWG administration presented me with new business cards that confirm my prestigious status. And, since that Parker guy is out of the way, the sky is the limit on becoming the next wine reviewer of notable fame.

The bottle to review today is an uncommon grape to most. It is Xarel Lo, a white grape from Spanish origin and found in the Catalonia region, southwest of Barcelona.  I found this bottle at a local shop, and knew that I had to taste this standalone bottling of a grape that is traditionally found in Spanish Cava.  Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel Lo are the three primary grapes used in cava production.

Cava is the sparkling wine of Spain produced in the champenoise traditional method. Previously referred to as Spanish Champaign, this reference is no longer permitted since Spain joined the EU and Champagne has Protected Geographical Status.  95% of all Cava is produced in the Penedes area of Catalonia where the region is identified as Penedes DO.  Xarel Lo is rarely made into a standalone wine, and investigation into professional (and not so professional) reviews reveals mixed results.

Xarel Lo has been characterized as acidic, smooth, medium bodied and aromatic. The qualities prized when creating a superior Cava. However, the acidity and delicate floral notes, often combined with a lingering minerality, have some reviewers leaving this wine on the shelf.

The Xarel Lo tasting today is from Vins El Cep, a group of six family growers in the Penedes DO. The Marques de Gelida is famous for producing some of the best Cava in Spain. (I know this because Mr. Parker said so.) This single varietal bottling is a new venture for them.

Marques de Gelida Xarel Lo 2011 is produced from old vine, organically grown grapes near the village of Gelida. The Penedes area has three zones and is primarily a Mediterranean climate. The Penedes Maritim (Baix Penedes) is near the sea with a mild coastal climate, Penedes Superior (Alt Penedes) is located further inland at higher elevations and is characterized by higher amounts of rainfall and more temperature fluctuations. Penedes Central lies between the two and has a mixed climate. Gelida is a municipality located in the Alt Penedes. It is near Sant Sadurni, home of several famous Cava houses. The area is known for low yield and high quality grape production. It is mostly clay and limestone basis. The Gelida vineyard of Vins El Cep produced the Xarel Lo grapes for this bottling.

The visual appearance of the wine is a pale straw color. It appears to have good body and legs to match. It has citrus on the nose, with lemon and floral notes. First taste shows mild acidity, honey and a creamy body. The finish is citrus and a bit of mineral, a hint of pear.

This bottle was paired with a Tuscan bean soup consisting of celery, carrots, onion, garlic, cannoli beans, plum tomatoes and fresh basil. This soup is excellent on its own, the garlic and basil give it a wonderful aroma and flavor. Paired with the wine, the creaminess of the beans and soup brought out the acidity of the wine.  It was noticeable, which made the wine taste more acidic and drew away from the flavorful soup. I’ve paired this wine with a lemon, caper, and white wine sauce over chicken breast recipe. It was excellent, complimenting the lemon of the sauce and the pungent caper flavor. It tamed the acidity and brought out the floral nature of the wine. Since the results of the tasting varied greatly with the food, I brought out a tomato salsa, favoring a lot of lime and pepper. After just two chips with the salsa the taste of the wine changed completely. My taste buds were excited by the acidity of the tomatoes and the citrus of the lime. The acidity of the wine disappeared and featured the honey and creaminess and floral notes seen before any food was introduced. Incredible! Note to self: pair acidic wines with acidic foods!

This wine is a definite keeper paired with the right food or on its own. At about $13 for the bottle, I will buy again. It will be interesting to follow the acceptance of this wine in the marketplace. A big thank you to Wine Wise Guys for letting me share my experience.

Red Blend Tasting

A Wine Wise Guys Tasting of Red Blends
By Jean Engelke 

On August 19, the Wine Wise Guys gathered for a red blend tasting at Chateau Engelke. It was a beautiful summer afternoon and we were able to gather outside on the deck for our wine and hors oeuvres. (It would have been perfect had the deck been surrounded in vines.)

There were 10 wines for a blind tasting. All bottles were placed in brown paper bags with any identifying marks removed, and then numbers. Placed strategically throughout the deck and kitchen, all were encouraged to taste, rate, and enjoy the food.

There was no pre-set criteria for the blends, so tasting, while fun, was a bit difficult. It was a challenge to determine what the blend was, much less its value amongst its rivals. It really came down to what each individual taster enjoys most in their wine. There were plenty to choose from, yet a couple came to the top amongst the group.

Rating from highest to lowest they were:

  1. Red Truck – California Table Wine 2005 (California) – Syrah, Petite Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Mourvedre
  2. Estancia Meritage (Paso Robles) – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot
  3. Troublemaker Justin Hope – Multi Year Vintage Blend – 2008, 2009 and 2010 (Paso Robles) -Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre and Petite Syrah
  4. Chateau Fontenil Fronsac 2004 (Bordeaux Blend) – any or all of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec
  5. Red Splash Table Wine (St. Francis Winery – Sonoma) Merlot, Petite Syrah, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, and Alicante Bouschet
  6. Vilosell 2006 (Spain) -Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Carinena
  7. Venge Scout’s Honor 2006 (Napa) – Charbono, Petit Syrah, Syrah and Zinfandel
  8. Primus The Blend 2008 (Chile) – Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Carmenere and Merlot
  9. House Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington) – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese, Malbec and Cabernet Franc
  10. Rocca Delle Macie Chianti Classico 2001 (Italy) – Sangiovese and Chianti

Interesting to note, 2 of the top 3 were from Paso Robles. The top 5 rounded out with a Bordeaux blend and a California blend. It seems that our international showing brought California to the top. This may be a result of the preference of wine style of the tasters (domestic). Certainly, the international contenders were very good as well. As I recall, everyone said they did not taste a wine they did not like and the ranking process was very difficult.

After the initial judging, everyone enjoyed some marinated flank steak and Dijon potato salad to complement the wines.

After we thought it couldn’t get any better than, 7.389 Winery decided to contribute a 1983 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Porto for dessert. This was a special bottle for the owner who had waited almost 30 years to enjoy the bottle purchased for him by his mother. He celebrated her memory with many special friends!

After a ceremonial opening, straining, and decanting (for only a short while) everyone enjoyed the moment. The port was very drinkable and enhanced with Ghirardelli raspberry chocolate squares. Then, not to be outdone, a bottle of 7.389 Zinfandel Port 2008 was also shared. Uniquely different than the porto, but very good according to the reviewers.

We sat well into the dark of the evening on the deck, enjoying the mystique of bats, the beauty of the stars and the value of good friends. Let’s do it all again soon!!

A Tasting at Anyela’s Vineyard

By Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch, Wine Wise Guy

About a month ago, a group of us took a trip to Anyela’s Vineyard, just south of the picturesque town of Skaneateles, New York, and overlooking Skaneateles Lake.

For a tasting fee of $2.00, we were able to taste five wines, and amongst the twelve offerings, two were standouts for me.

The first was their 2010 Dry Riesling. Crisp and clean and with a  lingering finish, it was fruit forward both on the nose and palate. it was a nice example of what the Finger Lakes wineries do best.

The second standout was the Anyela Overlay, a blend of 35% Cabernet Franc, 25% Pinot Noir, 24% Syrah, and 16% Cabernet Sauvignon. I am generally underwhelmed with New York State reds, but this blend was smooth and full bodied with hints of dark berries and a little spice. A bottle went home with me to share with the Wine Wise Guys! We’ll see what the rest of the group thinks.

Anyela’s Vineyards
2433 West Lake Road
Skaneateles, NY 13152

Diliberto Winery – A Taste of Tuscany on Long Island

by Laura Wayland-Smith Hatch, Wine Wise Guy

The Wine Wise Guys recently took a wine-tasting trip to the North Fork of Long Island. One of our favorite finds was Diliberto Winery, and we were lucky enough to have Sal Diliberto there to talk about his winery, which is a little piece of Tuscany just east of Riverhead.

Two of Sal’s wines caught our attention. The first was his newly released 2010 Sauvignon Blanc with a surprising nutty aroma, with none of the “grassiness” that are prominent in today’s sauvignon blancs. It had a beautiful golden color in the glass, and left a hint of hazelnut on the palate. Its creamy finish reminded us of a chardonnay without the heavy oak undertones. Sal recommended pairing his Sauvignon Blanc with cheeses, chicken, or lamb.

The second wine that we all enjoyed was their 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. We’re always apprehensive when tasting reds from New York State, but this one stood out and made a statement. It was full bodied with hints of dark berries and just enough acid to hold up to a meal without overwhelming.

Diliberto wines are only available at the winery, so we hope you have the time to make a trip out to the North Fork and taste for yourself! http://www.dilibertowinery.com/

Gouguenheim Malbec Reserva 2009

by Jean Engelke, Better Living With Wine

Another great find! Gouguenheim Malbec Reserva 2009 from Mendoza, Argentina!

Patricio Gouguenheim found a very old winery located in the Uco Valley, with a lot of small tanks ideal for the production of high quality wines.

Tried this wine on a whim! Served with marinated pork tenderloin, parsley mashed potatoes and fresh green beans. On the first sip, the wine was very appealing. Deep purple color with a very fragrant nose. Fruity, red and black cherry flavors with floral scents. The food brought out even more complex flavors, a perfect paring with the pork.

Can’t wait until tomorrow. Marinated flank steak…wine tbd….

Not to Disappoint!

by Jean Engelke, Better Living With Wine

Today we spent the day tasting wine on the South East shore of Seneca Lake. We visited five wineries on a cold and rainy day. What better way to spend a rainy day?

We started at Catherine Valley Winery and had the opportunity to spend some quality time with Don Kilcoyne, winemaker and farmer. We talked about farming, winemaking, grapes and the weather. We also found out that Don appreciated (not all do) the Chelois grape for winemaking. Don’s farm also has many old vines traced back to original plantings of Catawba and Concord.

We talked about our own winemaking adventure with Chelois grapes harvested in Michigan at Berrien Cellars. Chelois is a French hybrid that is typically used for blending. However, we all agreed that it stands on its own merits and we have enjoyed our respective bottling’s. We appreciated Don’s very personal attention as we tasted his wines. We could not leave without three of them and look forward to sharing on the deck this summer.

Once back in the car, we decided that we would open a bottle of our Chelois that evening to taste with our marinated flank steak. We all agreed that Chelois is finicky in the bottle. Ours had been getting better over time. We wanted to know if it continued!
We opened the bottle to a very subdued, pleasant fruity aroma. The wine was deep red, full bodied and not like other cold hearty grape varietals from the region. It had a full mouth feel and complex, not overpowering flavors, good finish that was not too dry. It completely complimented the flank steak, easily handling the sweet and salt of the marinate and glaze. Wow!

I must return to the South East side of Seneca to do more tasting. I will be taking a bottle of our Chelois to Don so he can sample what we have made of this interesting varietal. (We have already taken a bottle to Berrien Cellars!)