Favorite Blogs


Our Favorite Blogs

We’ve selected two of our favorite local wine blogs for whom wine is a passion. Dallas Wine Chick and GrapeStone Concepts take you on a journey and exploration of a wide variety of wines.

Each wine blog is a direct feed into our blog page. Their opinions are their own, and are posted here without edit or further refinement.


Albariño: A White Wine With Diversity for All

In May, Snooth and Rías Baixas invited a group of bloggers to gather for a Rías Baixas Virtual tasting. I invited the

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In May, Snooth and Rías Baixas invited a group of bloggers to gather for a Rías Baixas Virtual tasting. I invited the same group of lucky neighbors for our second annual event to explore the diversity of Albariño, a distinctive white wine from Spain from the Rías Baixas region.  We didn’t re-taste any of the eleven wines from last year.

Galicia is located in the northwest corner of Spain and is known for Rías Baixas wine. The Rías Baixas DO was created in 1980, but the DO was changed to simply Rías Baixas in 1986 when Spain joined the EU as laws did not recognize a DO named for a single grape variety.  To be named Rías Baixas the wine must be 70 percent Albariño.  Six other types of wines are also included in the Rías Baixas Albariño, which is 100 percent Albariño from five sub-regions — Ribeira do Ulla, Val do Salnés (the birthplace of the Albariño grape and the oldest sub-region), Soutomaior, Condado do Tea and O Rosal.

The event tagged under #AccessAlbarino was co-hosted by Rías Baixas Wine and Snooth to market the region through an Access Albariño Virtual Tasting. Co-Founder and Chief Taster Mark Angelillo from Snooth and James Beard Award-winning wine and food writer Lyn Farmer, who also doubles as a voice of Albariño, led us through 11 wines and storied conversation about the region.   Snooth is offering 3, 6, and 9 packs of the wines here. (Paco & Lola and Terras Gauda were sold out):

It was fun to taste the eleven wines and once again, the diversity, value and quality of these wines continued to be a common theme.

  • 2016 Condes dei Albarei Val do Salnés – lemon, saline, wet rock, tropical fruit, orange blossom, stone fruit, refreshing acidity.  A definite favorite.
  • 2016 Bodegas As Laxas Condado do Tea – white flowers, lemons, apple, saline, minerals, tropical and depth.
  • 2016 Don Pedro de Soutomaior O Rosal – balanced with citrus, apple, spice, sea breeze and a nice salinity.
  • 2017 Pazo Señorans Val do Salnés – lots of tropical fruit, lemons, nice acidity, minerality and layered.
  • 2017 Valmiñor O Rosal – lemon peel, orange rind, grassy notes and tropical fruit.
  • 2017 Señorío de Rubies Robaliño Condado do Tea –stone fruit, minerality, melon, citrus, peach, flowers and minerals.
  • 2017 Altos de Torona O Rosal – saline, tropical, green apple and lemon.
  • 2017 Nai e SeñoraVal do Salnés – stone fruit, lemon, saline and a great acidity.
  • 2016 Fillaboa Condado do Tea – kumquat, verbena, yellow peach, lemon, saline and a great acidity.
  • 2017 Paco & Lola Val do Salnés — a cooperative of 400 members and almost 500 acres of vineyards and definitely a favorite of the tasting (and unfortunately sold out). Lots of stone fruit, lemon and a great minerality.
  • 2016 Terras Gauda O Rosal – a complex wine with citrus, peach, minerality, lemon and saline. This is a faboulous wine.  depth and citrus & stone fruit, plus minerals. Excellent.

Once again, it was fun to experience the differences in microclimates, terroir and grape varieties in the five sub-zones.  If you are looking for a great and well-priced wine for the Summer, look no further than Albariño from Rías Baixas.  The wines show diversity and it’s a fun side-by-side comparison.

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Generations in a Glass: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Charles Krug Winery

Riana and Peter Mondavi Jr  When Peter Mondavi celebrates a milestone, it is always done with pomp and circumstance with

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Riana and Peter Mondavi Jr 

When Peter Mondavi celebrates a milestone, it is always done with pomp and circumstance with a focus on family.  But when prepares for a family milestone — the 75th anniversary – how do you truly showcase what has happened over the generations?  In Peter’s case, you take the show on the road in Napa, New York and Dallas and show the evolution of your family in the glass over the generations.  I was lucky enough to be part of the stop on the tour.

Charles Krug remains one of the three wineries left in the Napa Valley that have been owned by the same family since World War II.  The Mondavi family bought the Charles Krug Winery in 1943, which was founded by Prussian-born Charles Krug.  Charles was a journalist of a German language newspaper before he was a winemaker and also worked at the U.S. Mint.  His passion for wine was ignited by friends and he married a woman who brought a dowry of what is now the land of Charles Krug winery.  He established the winery in 1860.

Cesare Mondavi first came to Minnesota from Italy in 1906 and became a miner.  In 1908, he returned to Italy to marry Rosa Grassi and started a boarding house and saloon.  In 1922, as Prohibition hit, the Mondavi’s and their four children moved to California and started C. Mondavi and Sons, which was a grape shipping business.

Cesare didn’t set out to be a winemaker – just an accidental entrepreneur who wanted to take care of his family.  After success in the grape shipping business, he decided to purchase the Charles Krug winery.  Cesare Mondavi was an innovator and introduced the cider press for winemaking and many other advanced winemaking techniques that were unheard of during that time.  Back in the day, Charles Krug was making more than 27 different wines including ports and sherries until over time, the family decided to focus on key varietals.

Today, Charles Krug Winery is run by third-generation brothers Peter Mondavi Jr. and Marc Mondavi, as well as fourth-generation members of the Mondavi family.  It is surprising to me how involved the family continues to follow the DNA of winemaking. Angelina, Alycia, Riana and Giovanna, who are Marc’s children and Lucio and Lia, Peter Jr’s children, are all actively involved in in the operations of the winery.

Back to the Dallas event … Peter led the Vintage Selection Library Masterclass, which focused on the iconic red stripe bottle that Krug is known for producing. As part of the 75thanniversary, the family is putting together a special three pack from the from the Vintage Selection offerings – 1974, 1991 and 2003, which featured some of the favorites from the tastings.  Visit the website for more details.

The library tasting showcased the following vintages: 1964, 1966, 1974, 1983, 1991, 1998, 2003, 2015 and a barrel sample of 2016.  I enjoyed the older wines and found that they had aged well.

The 1964 had notes of leather, cedar, dried plum, currant, brown sugar, orange skin, dried rose and brown sugar.

The 1966 had notes of cedar, spice, coffee, dried cranberry and a bright acidity.  This was one of my favorites.

The 1974 had notes of eucalyptus, lavender, spice, black fruit, coffee, wood and caramelized fruit.  There were two Vintage Selections made in 1974; the F-1 designation refers to a bottling made from the Fay Vineyard in the Stags Leap District.  This was another favorite.

The 1983 had notes of leather, cedar, cocoa, red fruit, black fruit and dried herbs.

The 1991 had notes of oregano, blackberry, herbs, licorice, flowers, blackberry, tobacco and cocoa.

The 1998, while poorly rated, was delicious.  It had notes of olive tapenade, meat, coffee, spice, chocolate, black fruit, dried fruit and plum.

The 2003 was the first endeavor into blends with Syrah added.  It had black fruit, black pepper, meat, plum, cassis, flower and spice.

The 2015, which will be released in November, is still very tight and you could tell the jump in alcohol, which clocked in at 15.8 as compared to the 14 percent from the other wines.  I tasted blackberry cobbler, health bar and chocolate.

Peter Jr talked about how the wine has evolved, but that they are still focused on elegant and balanced wines, that reflect where they are grown.  The jump in alcohol was noticeable and prompted discussion.

We also tasted a barrel sample of the 2016, which is the first time Howell Mountain Cabernet has been used in the blend.  I tasted blackberry pie and vanilla, but it was way too concentrated and soon to deconstruct.

It was also fascinating to break down the winemaking differences of Peter Mondavi, Sr. and Peter Mondavi, Jr.  Peter Mondavi, Sr. was a fan of single varietal wines, so until 2003, the Vintage Select Cabernet Sauvignon was 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon.  But once Marc Mondavi pulled his “secret blending experiment” that first resulted in the Reserve Generations Red, a Bordeaux blend, and finally Peter Mondavi, Sr. agreed to blending, you started to see blended wines after that year.

Seventy-five years later, Napa’s oldest winery and one of Napa’s first families of wines are still going strong.  Winemaking is clearly an important part of the family’s DNA and it is clear that the family’s vision to be recognized as “one of the world’s best family owned wineries” is clearly attainable over the generations.

The Fabulous Crew from the WWET at Charles Krug 

Judd in the barrel room

Stacey with the awesome team sales, marketing and operations team at Charles Krug

After the tasting was over, I had the opportunity to attend the Wine Writers’ Educational Tour (WWET), an inaugural conference for wine writers, which took at deep dive into Napa.  We spent half a day touring Charles Krug and had the chance to sit down with Winemaker Stacey Clark, General Manager Judd Wallenbrock and Vice President of Estate Management and Guest Relations Jim Morris as well as well as the fabulous sales and marketing team.  It is clear that while Charles Krug is a big winery, it still keeps its family vibe and makes you feel at home.

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June Round-Up: Spring and Summer Sample Standouts

In keeping with my pledge to improve the frequency of my sample posts, I am proud to say that I’m

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In keeping with my pledge to improve the frequency of my sample posts, I am proud to say that I’m back on a quarterly schedule.  This post focuses on 26 wines out of the 40 wines that I sampled.


Champagne Bruno Paillard – this is one of my favorite non-vintage champagnes and a great value for the money.  It’s a blend of Pinot Noir (45%), Chardonnay (33%) and Pinot Meunier (22%).  Notes of citrus, currant, fig, raspberry, ripe cherry, almond and brioche.  This is an elegant wine with great finish.


2017 Beronia Rosado – this 100 percent Tempranillo rosé was powerful and had notes of strawberry, cherry, spice, dried flowers and had an intensity that is often not found in rosés.  I really enjoyed this wine.


2016 Adega Pazos de Lusco ‘Lusco’ Albarino – a great representation of this varietal.  It had notes of pear, lemon, spice and herbal notes.

2016 Scheid Grenache Blanc – the tasting notes billed it as love as first sip and I couldn’t agree more.  I couldn’t get enough of this wine.  It had notes of apples, citrus, honeydew melon and a great acidity.

2016 Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc – this is the perfect Summer Sauvignon Blanc to go with your shellfish.  I got notes of grapefruit, lime, apricot, stone fruit, fennel, stone, flowers and a great minerality.

2017 Lucas & Lewellen Sauvignon Blanc – this was a blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Viognier from two estate vineyards.  I tasted apple, pear, tropical fruit, stone fruit and citrus.

2016 Flora Springs Sauvignon Blanc – this wine had depth and layers.   I kept discovering new things in the glass as I tasted.  There was grapefruit, pear, nectarine, honeydew melon, tropical fruit, floral notes, brown sugar and it brought me back to remembering what I loved about the Orange Julius drink of my childhood.  Flora Springs is also on a mission of creating a white wine emoji and has launched a “Where is the #WhiteWineEmoji” campaign.  Because that should be a given!  Why should red wine have all the fun?

2016 Blass Reserve Release Chardonnay – notes of stone fruit, citrus and oak.  Very drinkable and food friendly.

2016 Napa Valley Quilt Chardonnay – Notes of apple, oak, honeydew melon, tropical fruit and buttered popcorn.


2013 Josić Cuvée Superior — made from 35% Cabernet Franc, 30% Syrah, 20% Merlot, and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Slavonia Vineyards located in the Danube region of Croatia.  This was my first experience with Croatian wine and it was impressive.  Very Old World in nature (which is completely expected from such a long-time producing wine region), but one that has employed modern wine making techniques. I tasted dark chocolate, earth, mocha, black fruit and licorice.  Completely funky and fun.  And because you can’t just walk into your traditional wine store and buy a bottle of Croatian wine, here’s a link.

2015 Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon – this wine combines fruit from three estate vineyards in St. Helena, Rutherford and Oakville.  This was an elegant wine with notes of dessert — black fruit, almost blackberry pie in nature, vanilla, toasted almonds and caramel.  There’s a hint of floral as well.  Rich and delicious!

2015 Dry Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – elegant with notes of black cherry, cassis, blueberry, currants, earth, herbs, blueberry, leather, mocha and spice.

2014 Alta Vista Terroir Selection Malbec – a great representation of Malbec made from a blend of five vineyards in Lujan de Cujo and Valle de Uco in Argentina.  This is born for BBQ with rich blackberry notes, chocolate, spice and herbs.

2016 Toad Hollow Merlot – it’s been a long time since I tried the Toad Hollow line-up and it was like being reacquainted with an old friend.  Blueberry pie, cherry, mocha, cedar, spice and flowers make this a wine that is so drinkable.

2016 Troon Vineyard Montepulciano – I have learned to expect the unexpected when it comes to Troon Vineyard.  Today it was the Montepulciano that was swoon-worthy.  Notes of red and black cherry, blackberry, forest floor, herbs and dried flowers.

2014 Resonance Pinot Noir – this is the second release from Maison Louis Jadot’s Oregon project.  I tried the Willamette Valley cuvée, and wow it impressed.  I tasted cherry, plum, blackberry, earth, dried flowers and spice. I couldn’t get enough of this wine and I was sad when we reached the bottom of the bottle.

2015 Scheid Santa Lucia Vineyard Pinot Noir – notes of cherry, earth, mushroom, spice and brown sugar.  This was a Pinot Noir that kept evolving in the glass.

2015 Messina Hof Sangiovese – this wine had notes of black cherry, black currant, red currant, black pepper and spice.  Very easy drinking.

Family Wines (more than 3 wines provided)

Chateau Montelena

Chateau Montelena is a Napa Valley winery most famous for winning the white wine section of the historic “Judgment of Paris” wine competition.  Chateau Montelena’s Chardonnay was in competition with nine other wines from France and California under the blind tasting.

The land was acquired in 1882 by Alfred L. Tubbs in Calistoga.  He planted his vineyards, built a Chateau, and brought in a French-born winemaker.  The winery, then known as A.L. Tubbs Winery, stopped making wine during Prohibition.  Chapin Tubbs, the grandson, began growing grapes again upon repeal and later renamed the winery as Chateau Montelena.  When he died, winemaking ceased and the property did not serve as a winery again until the early 70’s when Jim Barrett purchased it, cleared and replanted the vineyard and modernized the equipment. Today, Jim’s son, Bo leads the operation.


2015 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay – an iconic wine that remains that way for a reason. I tasted notes of pineapple, stone fruit, ripe melon, baking spices, cinnamon, citrus, ginger and creamy apple. It has a gorgeous texture and elegance.

2015 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon – notes of raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, mocha, vanilla, pepper, violets, hazelnut, tea and fig.  It’s a rich cabernet that is drinkable today, but will sing with age in the bottle.

2015 Chateau Montelena Zinfandel – I had no idea that Chateau Montelena made a Zinfandel until I received this sample and is delicious.  A blend of Primitivo and Old Vine Zinfandel pairings.  I tasted notes of mocha, tobacco, dark cherry, cassis, cranberry, cinnamon, spice, earth and cigar.

Lost Chapters

The Lost Chapters are wines that are made from esteemed winemakers Paul Scotto and Mitch Cosentino.  You all may remember that I had the opportunity to work with both of these winemakers on the blending of Masthead several years ago.  The premise behind Lost Chapters is that they are small lots that must be found quickly because the quantity is limited.  Very limited as you will see.

2014 Lost Chapters Carneros Pinot Noir—notes of rich red raspberries, cherries, earth, vanilla, spice, mint and vanilla.  I really enjoyed this fruit-forward and juicy Pinot.  Only 183 cases were produced.

2013 Lost Chapters Napa Valley Zinfandel— this was a neighborhood tasting favorite.  Notes of blackberry, dried fig, cedar, spicy, smoke and a meaty flavor. A blend of 75% Zinfandel, 23% Petite Sirah and 2% Merlot with only 194 cases produced.

2014 Lost Chapters Napa Valley Petite Sirah—I liked all the wines, but I gravitated toward this one because it was so easy to drink.  It was fruit, earth and dust.  I tasted baked plum, blueberry, spice, earth and vanilla.  Only 143 were cases produced.

Special Occasion

Tracy and me

I was invited to a special tasting at Tracy Rathbun’s house featuring the wines of Pulido~Walker.  The winery was founded by Mark Pulido and Donna Walker, who grew up in pharmacy families. This scientific background gave them the passion, perseverance and attentiveness that translated into the collection of precise data on the estate’s microclimates and soil composition. This led them to plant on the best fifteen acres in July 2015 with 25% dedicated to Chardonnay and 75% to Cabernet Sauvignon.

We tried three wines that evening, all which showed diverse characteristics of the unique terroir, but shone brightly:

2016 Mending Wall, Stone on Stone — Mending Wall comes from the Robert Frost poem about two neighbors who meet once a year to restore the boundary that separates them, the boundary that brings them together.  The winemaking philosophy is the same – it is about coming together to “explore and question the established boundaries in winemaking.”  This blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc had notes of grapefruit, citrus, minerality, melon and honeydew melon.  Nuanced and refreshing.

2014 Pulido Walker Melanson Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa – This was a great red wine. Notes of black and blue fruit, floral notes, earth, graphite, chocolate, spice and opulence.

2015 Pulido Walker Panek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain – This was also a great red wine, but it needed a little cellar time.  Black, blue and red fruit with vanilla, Asian spice and coffee. It needed a food pairing or some decanting time, but delicious.

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Ushering Spring in the Right Way, With Rosé: A Château de Berne and Ultimate Provence Tasting

The end of April, I was invited to a Dallas tasting to celebrate the launch of Château de Berne and

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The end of April, I was invited to a Dallas tasting to celebrate the launch of Château de Berne and Ultimate Provence rosés. While on the patio of Stirr on a picturesque Monday sunset and lovely Spring evening, we sipped rosé and talked about the launch of the Provence Rosé Group (PRG)—a subsidiary of 4 leading Provence rosé estates—created earlier this year with the goal of bringing authentic, high quality Provence rosés to US consumers.  The rise of rosé is continuing its climb.  In an August 9, 2017 Forbes article, a Nielsen stat that that sales climbed 53% by volume to sales of $258 million in the last 52 weeks.

Brand Ambassador Victor Label

We tried two of the brands from the Provence Rosé Group — Chateau de Berne and Ultimate Provence.  The company also has Chateau des Bertrands and Chateau Saint Roux, which are currently not in the US today, but Brand Ambassador Victor Lebel told us that the goal is to bring these popular wines to the US consumer over time through the distribution channels in place.  This is great for consumers who often don’t have access some of these wines of Provence.  Today, both Chateau de Berne and Ultimate Provence have national distribution, so you’ll be able to find the wines we tried.

Our line-up from Ultimate Provence and Chateau de Berne was as follows:

2017 Ultimate Provence Côtes de Provence Rosé, which had notes of strawberry, red raspberry, cherry, jasmine, spice and a nice minerality.  This is a blend of Grenache Noir (45%), Cinsault (35%), Syrah (15%) and Rolle (5%).

2017 Chateau de Berne Emotion Côtes de Provence Rosé, which had more mineral notes with the same raspberry, strawberry, cherry and flowers, but with more citrus and juicy melon.  The blend is of Grenache Noir (50%), Cinsault (25%) and Syrah (25%).

2017 Berne Inspiration Côtes de Provence Rosé, this wine had notes of cherry, cranberry, cassis and strawberry.  This was a blend of Grenache (70%), Cinsault (20%) and Syrah (10%).

2017 Chateau de Berne Estate Côtes de Provence Rosé, this wine was much more complex and shattered the notion that rosé was an aperitif or a “porch pounder.”  This wine had structure, complexity and aromatics.  It had notes of currant, cherry, raspberry, cranberry, minerality and herbs.  It was a blend of 70% Grenache Noir, 20% Cinsault and 10% Other.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the packaging.  The bottles look like perfume bottles and are gorgeous.

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An Afternoon with DLynn Proctor and Duane Hoff from Fantesca Winery

When DLynn Proctor issues an invitation to come and join him for some great wines, one immediately RSVPs, no questions

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When DLynn Proctor issues an invitation to come and join him for some great wines, one immediately RSVPs, no questions asked.  That’s how I found myself at the friends and family opening for 60 Vines last month. When I was seated next to Duane Hoff, the Proprietor of Fantesca Estate and Winery, I knew I was in for some amazing wines.  Little did I know that Duane and I shared many long hours earlier in our careers, him during his executive days at Best Buy and me during my Samsung Telecommunications days, marching the trade show floor at the Consumer Electronics Show. By the time we had swapped war stories, I was laughing so hard I was almost crying reliving the insanity of those days.

But more about the winery and those fabulous wines.  Susan and Duane Hoff were college sweethearts at the University of Minnesota.  Susan worked at a stereo shop called Sound of Music, which 12 years later became Best Buy.  Both Susan and Duane worked for the company and helped establish it into a Fortune 100 company.  In 2004, Susan and Duane purchased a 53-acre parcel with a 10-acre vineyard and named it Fantesca Estate & Winery.

The name of the winery comes from a character in the Italian comedy troupe that inspired Cirque Du Soleil.  La Fantesca was the single female character in the early theatrical performances of Commedia dell’Arte.  They loved the “wink and sense of humor” of the female comedian and knew this was the name of the winery.

Now it was time to find a winemaker and Susan and Duane set their sights on Heidi Barret after her retirement from Screaming Eagle, as did half the Valley.  Heidi’s resume is long and impressive.  She’s been called the ‘the first lady of wine’ and ‘the Queen of Cult Cabernet’ by Robert Parker and has received multiple 100 point scores. Duane decided to do things a little differently and ask her about what she wanted to do with her brand vs. trying to sell her.  She told him and he immediately helped to make that happen.  Because of his different approach, she signed on as their consulting winemaker.

In addition to Fantesca, her current portfolio includes Amuse Bouche, Paradigm, Lamborn, Kenzo Estate, Au Sommet, Vin Perdu and her own labels, La Sirena and Barrett & Barrett.

At Fantesca, Heidi made her first Chardonnay, her only Spring Mountain Cabernet as well as the All Great Things red blend.  Duane talked about how they “believe in dirt” and we tasted through all three of these wines.

We started with the 2015 Chardonnay, which is made from three vineyards in the Russian River Valley. It’s an Old World style modeled after Burgundy.  I tasted green apple, lemon curd, green melon and citrus.  Absolutely lovely.

Our next wine was the 2014 All Great Things “Hope” Red Blend – a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.  This is the sixth release of the series, which is inspired by the words of Winston Churchill:  “All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”  I tasted blackberry, dark cherry, mocha, chocolate, plum and spice.

We moved to the 2014 Fantesca Estate Cabernet Sauvignon which had notes of red cherry and cranberry, herbs, black tea, oak and spice.

Another example of whimsy is the fortune “corkies” that reflect “wine, love, and following your dreams.”




We also tried some of the great 60 Vines food offerings ranging from cheeses and meats, bruschetta, dips, pizzas and pastas.

And a little about DLynn, the man who probably needs no introduction.  He’s now the ambassador for Fantesca (after almost 10 years of communicating with Duane, visiting the winery and recommending the wines) and has represented some of the most upscale brands in the world.  He was named ‘Best Sommelier in America’ by Wine and Spirits Magazine in 2008, was a finalist in The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Société Mondiale du Vin ‘Best Sommelier in America Competition’ in 2008 and 2009, and was named to the National RUDD Scholars of 2011.  You probably also know him from the wine documentaries ‘SOMM and SOMM 2,’ covering the three year journey through six countries of filming to becoming a coveted Master Sommelier.  SOMM 3 will be released shortly.

While these wines are tough to find, they are completely worth the journey.  These are serious wines with a nod to whimsy and note of fun with some amazing people standing behind them.

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