Spain Rias Baixas - O Rosal Terras Gauda Vineyard 3 - 05-15There are many great wines that don’t have gold-plated pedigrees.  Some may be made from unfamiliar varieties in well-known regions.  Others are produced from familiar grapes in unfamiliar locales.  One commonality is that, because of uncertainty among the wine buying public, the consumer can often pay less per bottle than when purchasing more standard offerings yet receive extremely high quality in return.

I’ve been quite remiss in publishing this newsletter this year, and for that I apologize.  I could blame an excessive amount of travel (more than any other year) or family exigencies but the simple fact is that I’ve been too busy with other projects to focus on giving out impressions of the wines I taste, at least in newsletter form (most of my wine notes are available on Twitter @wineontheroad).

But the approaching holidays remind me that this is the best time of the wine year, when most bottles are purchased and then consumed amidst family and friends.  So this week’s column is about various fun bottles, white, rosé, and red, that I’ve had the pleasure to recently taste, usually from samples, at an industry gathering, or during my wine country travels (tasting notes are at the end of the article).  It’s a pretty long list (I’ll try to get more notes out over the next few weeks), all would be excellent in the proper holiday settings, and where practicable I’ve included my thoughts on what those settings may be.



Time for some big reds!

Time for some big reds!

Ben has been invited to tour the food and wine of Northern California wine country for almost two weeks, including some of the most iconic hotspots in the Napa Valley and Sonoma County.  Follow along with him on Twitter (@WineOnTheRoad), Facebook (Wine On The Road), LinkedIn (Benjamin Weinberg) and Foursquare (Ben Weinberg).



So much wine, so little time...

So much wine, so little time…

Ben has an article about the Rutherford Dust Society in the Napa Valley (as well as a sidebar on legendary grape grower Andy Beckstoffer’s contribution to Rutherford’s wine scene) in Edible Marin and Wine Country Magazine (  This edition also includes stories on the recent Napa earthquake and the Rutherford Dust Society.  Check it out!



Sunset in Piemonte - amazing!

Sunset in Piemonte – amazing!

Have you ever read one of Ben’s columns and wondered how it would look to have one of his incredibly vivid, high resolution pictures of wine country framed on your wall?  Prints of his quirky photography are available at, and you can also add his images to smartphone cases, greeting cards, and many other items.  Pictures can be ordered loose or matted and framed in various sizes.  Click Here to take a peek.



Beautiful wine country pictures

Beautiful wine country pictures

With Wine On The Road (, my wine-focused touring company, you can enjoy the ultimate wine country excursion with special access to top winemakers and their incomparable wines.  Wine On The Road offers intimate wine country tours that combine award-winning wines and exquisite dining and lodging with uniquely local flair and flavor.  We lodge at excellent and luxurious wine country estates (in the past we’ve occupied ancient yet completely restored castles as well as five-star resorts, all with modern amenities).  We eat at amazing local restaurants and visit wineries that embody the best, most authentic expressions of local wine grapes.

You can learn more about these trips, book private groups in wine country world-wide and request more information on any of these extraordinary travel experiences by visiting, emailing me at, or calling me at 303-522-6738.




Sokol Blosser Evolution Sparkling Wine NV (USA) $25

Straw/apricot, green apple, yellow pear/white peach, cream, flint/himod


Domaine Carneros Brut Cuvee de la Pompadour 2011 (Carneros, California) $33

Light gold/yellow peach, dried apricot/red flowers, red apple, mace/hilong


Domaine Carneros Brut Rose NV (Carneros, California) $37

Salmon-strawberry/yellow apple, pie crust/grilled pineapple, yellow pear/hilong


La Marca Prosecco NV (Veneto, Italy) $17

Gold straw/lime, clover, honey/lemon, green apple, white grapefruit, flint/himod


Segura Viudas Cava Brut NV (Penedes, Spain) $10

Green-yellow/white peach, pineapple/lime, guava, passion fruit/hilong


Segura Viudas Cava Brut Gran Cuvee Reserva NV (Penedes, Spain) $14

Pale yellow/butter, blackberry/green apple, yellow pear/hilong


Reserve de Sours Sparkling Rose Brut 2009 (Gironde, France) $30

Bright salmon pink/red currant, raspberry/Mandarin orange, ginger/himod



Terras Gauda Abadia de San Campio 2014 (Rias Baixas, Spain) $20

Albarino from Rias Baixas has become an iconic white wine in the U.S. and its future will only shine more brightly as time goes by.

Light yellow/Buddha’s hand lemon, anise/yellow apple, green banana/hilong


Terras Gauda O Rosal 2014 (Rias Baixas, Spain) $24

A blend of Albarino, Loureiro, and Caino Blanco.

Light yellow/basil, orange zest, gardenia/pineapple, guava, yellow apple /hilong



Las Rocas Rosé 2013 (Calatayud, Spain) $14

Salmon pink/strawberry, raspberry/cinnamon marjoram/himod


Caposaldo Sweet Red Sparkling Wine NV (Lombardy. Italy) $

Rose red/white flower, raspberry/cardamom, cola/medmod


Sofia Rosé 2014 (Monterey County, California) $19

Medium red/red cherry, red flowers/wild strawberry, clove, orange zest/himod



Virgen del Agulia Vinas Viejas de Paniza Garnacha 2012 (Carinena, Spain) $18

Brown-black/pomegranate, hibiscus, blackberry jam/ginger, dark chocolate/himod.


Particular Garnacha Old Vine 2013(Carinena, Spain) $N/A

Dark blue/ash, blueberry, red flowers/horse blanket, red apple/himod.


Corona d’Aragon Garnacha/Carinena 2011 (Carinena, Spain) $15

Black and blue/smoky cola, blackberry/brown butter, molasses, cherry/hilong.


Bodegas Cepa 21 HITO 2014 (Ribera del Duero, Spain) $16

Another great offering from the Moro family of Malleolus fame (see later note).

Black-purple/black currant, smoke, ash/pain grille, blueberry, black licorice/himod


Bodegas Cepa 21 Red Wine 2011 (Ribera del Duero, Spain) $25

The Moro family keeps bringing it (see later note)!

Dark red/black pepper, smoked beef, black raspberry/burnt ends, candied strawberry/himod


Emilio Moro Malleolus 2011 (Ribera del Duero, Spain) $45

Another relatively unknown region in the U.S. but well worth a look.

Dark blue-red/blackberry, cola, pomegranate/dust, sweet oak/hilong


Wente Pinot Noir Riva Ranch Arroyo Seco (Monterey, California) $30

Ruby-red/red cherry, strawberry/sous bois, tobacco/himod


Miner Family Winery Pinot Noir Gary’s Vineyard (Santa Lucia Highlands, California) $60

Ruby/nutmeg, cola, strawberry/blackberry jam, granite/hilong


Francis Coppola Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Director’s (Sonoma County, California) $21

Dark red/raspberry, mace/strawberry, blackberry, red plum/hilong


Septima Malbec Lujan de Cuyo 2014 (Mendoza, Argentina) $14

Purple-red/blackberry, black plum, strawberry jam/smoke, graphite, blueberry/himod


Miner Family Winery Merlot Stagecoach Vineyard (Napa Valley, California) $40

Red-blue/blackberry, mocha, tea/black cherry, root beer/hilong


Parducci True Grit Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Mendocino County, California) $30

Black-red/vanilla, black cherry/boysenberry, dark chocolate/hilong


Moniker Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Mendocino County, California) $30

Black-red/red cherry, currant/blueberry, milk chocolate/hilong


Wente Cabernet Sauvignon Wetmore (Livermore Valley, California) $30

Dark red/red flowers, tobacco/black cherry, red plum, leather, coffee/hilong


Galerie Cabernet Sauvignon Latro Knights Valley 2012 (Sonoma County, California) $50

Dark red/granite, black raspberry/blackberry, smoke, dark chocolate/hilong


Francis Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon Director’s 2013 (Sonoma County, California) $21

Black-red/black currant, clove/red cherry, allspice, tobacco/himod


Galerie Cabernet Sauvignon Plenair 2012 (Napa Valley, California) $50

Dark red/slate, red currant, red flowers/blackberry, mace, dark chocolate/hilong


Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Napa Valley, California) $40

Blood-red/red apple, cola, raspberry/smoke, English breakfast tea, iodine/himod.


Miner Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Stagecoach Vineyard 2012 (Napa Valley, California) $75

Purple-red/black cherry, red licorice/brown gravy, wild strawberry, mocha/hilong


Francis Ford Coppola Director’s Cut Cinema 2012 (Sonoma County, California) $39

A blend of Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel and small amounts of other varieties to round it all out.

Red-black/blackberry, pie crust, cassis/dark cherry, tobacco, vanilla, dried apricot/hilong


Miner Family Winery The Oracle Red Wine 2-11 (Napa Valley, California) $90

Contains all of the Bordeaux varieties except Malbec.

Dark red/brown sugar, blackberry, red cherry/strawberry, smoke, tar/hilong



Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d’Asti 2014 (Piedmont, Italy) $16/375mL

Pale yellow/red rose, nutmeg/apricot, lemon cream pie/hilong


Brotherhood Vintage Port 2009 (Lake County, California) $40

Dark red/black cherry, mocha, red raspberry/cola, black raspberry/hilong



Appearance (if relevant)/aroma/taste/acidity & finish.

U.S. retail prices are listed if available and are often higher than the average online U.S. retail price.


“N/S” indicates that specific wine is not generally available in the U.S. online retail market.