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Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail Tour in a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid Review: 2011 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc 2014 Mazda CX-5: Impressions Review: 2010 Smasne Cellars Ancient Rocks red wine Review: A pair of Matua Wines from New Zealand

Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail Tour in a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

By Darin Pemberton and Holly L. Smith Ten days before the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail Tour, Duane asked if I would attend in his stead. I agreed and that simple agreement lead to a fundamental change in my views of Michigan wines. I am getting ahead of myself. As the event drew closer, the good […]

Review: 2011 Mulderbosch Chenin Blanc

South Africa is world renown for its quality Chenin Blanc and this little gem from Mulderbosch proves to bolster that reputation. For well under $15, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one – let’s get into it. Residual Sugar 4.3 g/l Total Extract 22.4 g/l pH 3.38 Alcohol 13.92 % Total Acid 5.6 […]

2014 Mazda CX-5: Impressions

Review: 2010 Smasne Cellars Ancient Rocks red wine

Winery website: www.smasnecellars.com Robert Smasne has made a name for himself in the Northwest for producing wines that show good character, varietal integrity and body. This 2010 “Ancient Stones” blend is no different. A Rhone-style blend, it is a wine that can easily tame everything from a pot-roast to lamb shank to wild game. A good-drinking […]

Review: A pair of Matua Wines from New Zealand

Winery website: http://www.matua.co.nz Matua is a wine brand that hails from New Zealand and its mission is to deliver affordable, tasty vino from the best fruit it can get. With its first bottling in 1974, it’s been around the “block a few times” and has a loyal following of wine lovers. These two, affordable offerings have […]

My move to Communities Digital News

Please follow all of my content at Communities Digital News as there are no future plans for new content here. All of my ongoing and future food, wine, auto and travel articles you can find here:


Thank you!


Duane Pemberton

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Wines from my Biodynamic wine tasting

Just finished up a live segment on 99.3 “The Vine” out in Napa and here are the Biodynamic wines we talked about:


1. 2010 Pacific Rim Riesling
2. 2012 Emiliana “Novus” Sauvignon Blanc
3. 2011 Emiliana Natura Malbec
4. 2012 Emiliana Natura Cabernet Sauvignon
5. 2011 Koyle Carmenere
6. 2010 Matetic EQ Syrah

 Winery websites:

Pacific Rim – www.rieslingrules.com

Emiliana – www.emiliana.cl

Koyle – www.koyle.cl

Matetic – matetic.com/en

You can listen to the interview here:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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Tasty Spring Dish – Parmesan eggs and asparagus

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More Americans are drinking Champagne than ever before

Shipments of Champagne from the Champagne region of France continue to show significant growth in the United States. Just last year, more than 17.8 million bottles of Champagne were shipped to the United States, an increase of more than 160,000 bottles compared to 2012.


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The “Miracle Machine” turns water into wine in three days

Philip James, founder of Snooth.com and Lot18 has started a new project called “The Miracle Machine” – a counter top appliance that will turn water into wine in three days. Of course it requires the addition of some other ingredients but nonetheless, its’ very intriguing.

Any bets that these guys have already started getting death threats? Here’s the video:

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Key Ingredient Launches SignatureSnap – Transcribe Your Printed Recipes

One of the biggest challenges for recipe collectors is sorting, organizing and preserving paper recipes. In our digital world, there is no need to fear losing precious recipes to damage, spills, fire, or carelessness. SignatureSnap™ from Key Ingredient has made the process of preserving those cherished, timeless recipes as easy as dropping them in a box.

Today, Key Ingredient users can use RecipeSnap™ to take a photo of any paper recipe and have it automatically transcribed into their account. SignatureSnap is the “white glove” version of RecipeSnap and is aimed at the users who want a truly full-service recipe transcription service.

SignatureSnap users get a pre-paid shipping box delivered to their home that they can fill with recipes. In just a few days’ time, the box is mailed back with their paper recipes intact with all of their recipes transcribed and preserved online at KeyIngredient.com.

“We now offer the only truly premiere concierge transcription service for recipe collectors,” said Harlan Beverly, CEO of Key Ingredient. “SignatureSnap gives recipe collectors piece of mind and helps them stay organized and clutter-free; simply mail all those boxes of recipes and recipe cards to us, and we’ll handle the rest.”

Dzintra Dzenis, Chef/Owner of Plate in Austin Texas and former contestant on Next Food Network Star said, “This is an incredible, easy to use service which allows recipe developers like myself to easily digitize all of the hand-written recipes I’ve created as well as preserve the treasured recipes passed down to me by family over the years.”

Pricing of SignatureSnap is as follows:

  • $79.99 for 50 recipes
  • $149.99 for up to 100 recipes
  • $249.99 for up to 200 recipes

Learn more about SignatureSnap: http://www.keyingredient.com/blog/signaturesnap-full-service-recipe-transcription

For the do-it-yourself type with a camera or scanner, RecipeSnap by Key Ingredient is also available for just $0.99 per recipe. RecipeSnap lets you scan or take a picture of any recipe with your phone and have it digitally transcribed into your account on KeyIngredient.com. These recipes, like all Recipes on Key Ingredient, can be shared with friends or family, or made private.

People who register for a free Key Ingredient account during the months of March and April, will also get a free RecipeSnap to try it out: http://keyingredient.com/recipesnap

About Key Ingredient 
On the web, on the go and in the kitchen, Key Ingredient is the ultimate recipe eco-system! Offering the only organic, shareable collection of over 1.7 million recipes, Key Ingredient’s mission is to inspire the food lover in all of us and instill confidence by harnessing the power of technology. Based in Austin, Texas, Key Ingredient is a member of Groupe SEB, a world leader in small household equipment.

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Key Ingredient Sweepstakes

Key Ingredient (www.keyingredient.com), is sponsoring a new sweepstakes where you have the chance to win some nice prizes just by signing up for a free account! Go here to sign up, for the rules and all the details!


Here’s what the first and second place winners will receive:

For the 1st place winners:

  •  An 8-inch Lodge® Carbon Steel sauté pan.
  •  A 12-inch Lodge® Carbon Steel sauté pan.
  • Free upgrade to prime account on Key Ingredient for 1yr which includes 200 free Keynotes, 20 free Recipe Snaps plus an additional 20 recipe snaps and a permanent unlock of our Grocery List.

For the 2nd place winners:

  • Free upgrade to prime account on Key Ingredient for 1yr which includes 200 free Keynotes, 20 free Recipe Snaps plus an additional 20 recipe snaps.


*Full disclosure: I do PR for this company and am thus disqualified from winning as a blog or person. Just doing my job here to help promote it!

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How to Tap a 5 Liter – courtesy of Hedges Winery

The folks at Hedges Family Estate have some fun, showing us how to put a tap into a 5-liter wine bottle:

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Study: Liberals drink more alcohol

Seattle WA — A new study from the Journal of Wine Economics find that states who have a more liberal view on politics tend to consume more alcohol. For example, the state of Nevada consume up to three times the amount per head than more conservative, neighboring states like Utah and Arizona. Understandably, Utah is a poor example when looking to alcohol use, but the study is interesting nonetheless.

“In this study, we show that liberal ideology has a statistically significant positive association with the consumption of alcohol in the United States even after controlling for economic, demographic, and geographic differences across states,” the authors say.

“Holding everything else constant, our findings suggest that when a state becomes more liberal politically, its population consumes more beer and spirits per capita, but possibly less wine per capita.”

Source: Journal of Wine Economics:

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Middleton: Quality knives made here in the U.S.A.

By Duane Pemberton
Middleton website: middletonmadeknives.com

If you’re knives are on the struggle, lose their edge all too often or present themselves to be uncomfortable, then check out the bad boys from Middleton Knives – here’s a video about them:

Bladesmith Quintin Middleton of Middleton Made Knives from BadJon Photography – The Creativ on Vimeo.

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Prosecco Superiore International Festival – Italy, May 18th 2014

With its hilly land and the perfect mild weather, Conegliano Valdobbiadene is the most vocated territory for an Italian sparkling wine well known all over the world: Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG. Fresh, fine, elegant with distinctive fruity and floral notes, it is produced in the north-east of Italy, in a breathtaking viticultural landscape created by man and nature. In springtime, the prestigious wine, symbol of its land, is celebrated in “Vino in Villa”, the International Festival of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, in a splendid 13th century castle.

The date to save, for this year’s celebration, is on May 18th at San Salvatore Castle in Susegana, in the Province of Treviso. The event is entirely devoted to the historic production area for Prosecco and will offer members of the trade, journalists and consumers the opportunity to enjoy a full immersion in this sparkling wine, that comes from the “hand-crafted” vineyards with which man has adorned the slopes of the hills that are now in line to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The event will allow visitors to discover or explore a small, top-quality wine region that inspired artists such as Giovanni Battista Cima.

With its tasting of over 300 different wines, its special menus and its tours of the area, that will reveal the secrets of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Vino in Villa will once again this year be an appointment that simply cannot be missed!


For further information:  Consorzio per la Tutela del Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene


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Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery Gets Cozy

January 6, 2014 (Paso Robles, Calif.) –Just in time for chilly weather, Villa San-Juliette Vineyard & Winery has released a triple threat of red wines ideal for sipping alongside hearty dishes, as well as the perfect white wine to sip at the stove.

Winemaker, Matt Ortman, put the finishing touches on VSJ’s 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011 Zinfandel, and 2011 Petit Sirah. Each wine was crafted exclusively from fruit grown on the Villa San-Juliette estate in the Paso Robles AVA.

  • The 2012 Villa San-Juliette Sauvignon Blanc is a wonderfully fragrant and juicy wine, the result of a two-month long fermentation at very cool temperatures, which serves to trap and protect the most delicate of components. Aromas of gooseberry and tangerine are underscored by defining notes of freshly cut grass. Lively acidity maintains the lush, mouthwatering flavors of grapefruit and melon. This wine is lean enough to sip alone, and juicy enough to pair with pan-roasted Brussels sprouts or classic Caesar salad with anchovies. (SRP $14, Reserve Club member price, $11.60)
  • VSJ’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon opens with bold and lively aromatics, then follows with flavors of candied cherries, sarsaparilla, and vanilla. The tannins are soft and supple making this an enjoyable wine now, with the potential to age for the next few years. Pair this wine with a pork crown roast, sharp aged cheddar cheese, or porcini risotto. (SRP $20, Reserve Club, $16)
  • With a remarkable following already, the 2011 Zinfandel is redolent with luscious raspberry and blueberry notes laced with classic Zinfandel nuances of white pepper and a chocolate richness. Mouth-filling flannel tannins throughout the mid-palate extend into a lingering finish. Try alongside sticky grilled baby back ribs or even roasted turkey with rich mole sauce.(SRP $25, Reserve Club, $17.60)
  • Nearly black in color, the 2011 Petite Sirah marries big California flavors with restrained elegance. Leading with exuberant blueberry aromas, the wine layers flavors of orange zest, violet, cedar and mocha before the acidity turns the flavors towards red fruits on the finish. The structured tannins are slow on release, yielding a firm structure that melts when paired with herbed rack of lamb or aged goat cheese. (SRP $20, Reserve Club, $16)

To purchase these or any other of Villa San-Juliette’s award-winning wines, please visit www.VillaSanJuliette.com.

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Duckhorn Wine Company Buys 20 Acres on Red Mountain

NAPA VALLEY, Calif. – December 19, 2013 – Duckhorn Wine Company has acquired a 20-acre vineyard site in Washington State’s acclaimed Red Mountain AVA. The unplanted site is located just above Col Solare, the vineyard partnership between Tuscany’s Marchesi Antinori and Washington’s Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Once developed, the new vineyard will serve as a source of estate fruit for Canvasback, a new Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.

“While our roots are in Napa Valley, our vision has always been the idea that certain varieties find their best expressions in particular regions,” says Duckhorn Wine Company President and CEO Alex Ryan. “Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain in Washington State is one of these amazing combinations. This acquisition is a testament to how fully committed we are to Washington State and the Red Mountain AVA. Establishing our own estate vineyards is central to Canvasback’s future and consistent with our approach to Duckhorn Vineyards, Decoy, Paraduxx and Goldeneye—all of which use a combination of grapes from top growers and estate vineyards.”

Located near the top of Red Mountain, at an elevation of approximately 1,100 to 1,300 feet, the site is above the frost zone and features gently rolling slopes, an ideal southwest exposure, and Warden series sandy loam soils with a basalt layer deep enough to allow the vines to fully take root. A past “Grower of the Year” honoree by both the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers and the Washington State Grape Society, and the current vineyard manager for Col Solare, Dick Boushey worked closely with Duckhorn to evaluate the site’s potential. “Our first day in Red Mountain, we saw this property and fell in love with it,” says COO Zach Rasmuson. “Dick confirmed our instincts that this land has the potential to become one of the best Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards on Red Mountain.”

“This parcel is without question the finest undeveloped site on the mountain,” says Boushey. On a personal note, Boushey added, “It’s exciting to see this property in the hands of such an experienced and down-to-earth team. They are all vineyard people and they believe in doing things right. Duckhorn is a great match for Washington.”

With Boushey as vineyard manager, the Duckhorn Wine Company viticultural team will begin planting in the spring of 2014, with the majority of the vineyard planted to Cabernet Sauvignon

The name Canvasback was chosen in keeping with Duckhorn’s waterfowl tradition. Canvasback ducks are native to the Pacific Flyway with breeding grounds in Washington State. The debut 2012 vintage of Canvasback will be released for national distribution in the fall of 2014 at an SRP of $40.

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Wine Australia invites wine and restaurant businesses to get involved in Aussie Wine Month 2014

Wine Australia is inviting wine regions, wineries, restaurants, bars and retailers to get involved in Aussie Wine Month 2014 – the biggest annual celebration of Australian wine – which will run from 1 to 31 May 2014.

Applications are now open for interested wineries, wine regions and other food and wine focused businesses to get involved in the month-long promotion of Australian wine, which aims to excite Australians about the wines produced in their own backyard.

As part of the third annual Aussie Wine Month, events will be staged by Wine Australia and other industry partners throughout Australia focusing on the theme of ‘Regional Heroes’.

Wine Australia’s Regional Director, Australia, Asia and Emerging Markets, Aaron Brasher said Aussie Wine Month would provide an opportunity for industry partners to extend their consumer reach in the domestic market and generate interest in their wine offering.

“Aussie Wine Month 2014 is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever and we’re calling on Australian wineries, wine regions, restaurants, bars and retailers to get on board with some creative events that encourage Australians to explore our wine regions and drink Australian wine,” Mr Brasher said.

“This year’s Aussie Wine Month was comprised of 108 events in 35 regions, hosted by Wine Australia and other industry partners, including city-based wine tastings and dinners, regional festivals, food and wine matching dinners and epicurean adventures.

“We’re hoping to build on the buzz and excitement of the previous two festivals with some new events, tourism partnerships and a dynamic PR and communications campaign to generate excitement and anticipation for the month-long celebration.

“Aussie Wine Month is the main component of Wine Australia’s domestic marketing strategy to raise awareness about the diversity, quality and regionality of Australian wines among consumers and key influencers.

“We’re encouraging as many wineries and wine regions as possible to get involved and to show Australians the variety of top drops from our own backyard.”

Participation in Aussie Wine Month is free. To register your interest in creating an event for Aussie Wine Month 2014, please contact Gabrielle Fittler at gabrielle.fittler@wineaustralia.com or phone 02 9361 1721.

To register the details of your event on the Wine Australia website, go here.

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Taste of Tulalip – the best Wine/Food event in the NW – almost here

The 5th annual “Taste of Tulalip.  Over 2,000 attendees will sip, savor and indulge during this two day 5th anniversary celebration of wine, food and tradition. The weekend begins with the Friday evening Celebration Dinner – a 6-course meal of exceptional food and wine parings.

Saturday’s Grand Taste features wine from over 120 Washington, California, Oregon, French and Spanish wineries, and a poolside Craft Beer Garden – all alongside an abundant array of food prepared by the resort’s culinary team.  Guests can purchase wine and books from authors Carla Hall and Lois Ellen Frank at the pop-up retail wine shop.  The Taste’s grand finale is a not-to-be-missed Rock and Roll Challenge emceed by Carla Hall, with celeb judges, well known Pacific Northwest chefs and sommeliers battling it out to take home the title.

Other Saturday events, limited to All-Access ticket holders, include a VIP beer seminar; and a cooking demo by Chef Kristen Kish, tenth season winner of Bravo’s Top Chef, followed by a Q & A with culinary luminary Carla Hall.  A special Magnum Party showcases rare, coveted wines paired with dishes by guest chef Dr. Lois Frank. There will also be five special reserve tastings.

The weekend’s featured artist is Jason Gobin.  His hallmark work can be seen on this year’s 5th anniversary signature wine bottle.  This one-of-kind blend is a collaboration between the Tulalip wine team and honorary winemaker Bob Betz of Betz Family Winery.  It can be purchased for $125 at the Taste’s retail wine shop.

Tommy Thompson
Tulalip sommelier and wine buyer Tommy Thompson has carefully selected over 120 wineries and breweries for the event of the year, as recognized by the Washington Wine Commission.  Thompson keeps adding breadth to Tulalip’s extensive cellar, garnering Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence – one of only 16 in the State for 2012.

Perry Mascitti
Executive Chef Perry oversees seven dining venues, in-room meals for the four-star hotel and catering for the entire Resort Casino.  His creativity shines along with that of his culinary team at the multi-course Celebration Dinner, the nibbles of endless proportions at the Grand Taste, and he is the maestro of the Rock and Roll Challenge.

Carla Hall
Returning Taste of Tulalip alum Carla Hall, co-host of ABC’s popular lifestyle series “The Chew”.  Hall shot to fame as a competitor on Bravo’s “Top Chef,” and is also the author of “Cooking with Love: comfort food that hugs you”. She is the owner of Carla Hall Petite Cookies, an artisan cookie company that specializes in creating sweet and savory “petite bites of love.  Her approach to cooking blends her classic French training and Southern upbringing for a twist on traditional favorites.

Kristen Kish
Kristen Kish, winner of Bravo’s reality television cooking competition “Top Chef Season 10: Seattle”, is the second female to win this celebrated cook-off.  She is currently the Chef de Cuisine of Menton, Boston’s only Relais and Chateaux property, and works closely with chef/owner Barbara Lynch, .  As a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, Kish loves the energy, pace, and lifestyle of restaurants.

Lois Frank
Chef Lois Frank of the Kiowa Nation, is a culinary historian, anthropologist, award winning author and photographer, who has spent over 25 years documenting the foods and life ways of the Southwest Native American communities. With a doctorate in food anthropology, she focuses on the locavore lifestyle, traditional cooking and how it is applicable to a modern diet.

Friday, November 8th
Celebration Dinner with 400 attendees
Reception 6:00 pm, Dinner 7:00 pm

Saturday, November 10th
VIP Beer Seminar – 11:30 am
Kristen Kish Cooking Demo  12:30 pm
Magnum Party with 250 attendees – 1:30 to 4:30 pm
Grand Taste with 2,000 attendees – 2:30 to 6:30 pm
Rock -n- Roll Challenge 4:00pm

Dillanos Coffee Roasters
Le Creuset
Mercedes Benz of Lynnwood
Seattle Magazine

Tulalip Resort Casino
10200 Quil Ceda Boulevard
Tulalip, Washington 98271

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Breathometer – The World’s Smallest Smartphone Breathalyzer

Burlingame, CA, September 25, 2013 – Breathometer, Inc. today announced that the World’s Smallest Smartphone Breathalyzer, Breathometer™, will begin shipping to consumers in October 2013.  First units will be utilized to fulfill orders for supporters of Breathometer’s Indiegogo campaign from earlier this year, with additional production units being shipped to new customers and channel partners.

Small enough to fit on a key chain, Breathometer plugs into a smartphone audio jack, and together with a mobile app, transforms it into a sleek, portable and accurate breathalyzer measuring blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Breathometer is currently available for pre-order at www.breathometer.com for $49.99 and will work on iOS and Android devices.


Officially registered with the FDA, Breathometer is designed to help anyone that has consumed alcohol to make smarter choices before getting behind the wheel.  By simply blowing in the Breathometer, a user’s blood alcohol level is displayed on the smartphone screen within seconds.  If the device registers any alcohol on the breath, the mobile app has a feature called “Back to Zero” that will inform the user about how long it is estimated it will take for them to be sober.  The app also provides push button access to local taxi companies and other resources, allowing them to make smart, safe choices.

Breathometer is valuable for anyone who enjoys even a casual drink, as just one drink can affect judgment or the ability to drive safely. Breathometer is smaller, more cost-effective and as accurate as other high-end consumer breathalyzers on the market. Breathometer features an FDA grade sensor so it is extremely sensitive and accurate within a reading of plus or minus .01 BAC.  In addition, as Breathometer does not use a “mouthpiece,” the device can be shared by multiple people, as users simply blow into the Breathometer from approximately one inch away from the patent pending LED illuminated blow tube on the device.

“Breathometer is a valuable tool for anyone that consumes alcohol, no matter where they are, such as a dinner party, sporting event, or a bar with friends” said Charles Michael Yim, founder and CEO of Breathometer.  “With its compact design and affordable price, Breathometer is bringing an extremely accessible smartphone breathalyzer to the mass market for the first time and allowing anyone who drinks, and their friends and family, to make smarter and safer choices.”

For more information and to sign-up to be informed about the latest news regarding Breathometer, please visit www.breathometer.com.

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San Luis Obispo Wine Country’s Rockin’ Harvest Celebration

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA— It’s time for wine lovers from near and far to get ready to rock as San Luis Obispo (SLO) Wine Country hosts its 23rd annual Rockin’ Harvest Celebration—a series of wine and food events happening amid storybook beachfront and back roads settings on November 1 – 3, 2013.

The main event is the open air, ocean view “Grand Tasting and Auction” ($85 / $95 for 11 a.m. entry) on Saturday, November 2 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. Attendees enjoy cuisine by some of the finest local chefs paired with wines by the artisan winemakers of SLO Wine Country, plus live music by local indie-pop favorite, Fialta. Along with food and wine from more than 60 establishments comes a winemaker-hosted wine and lifestyle auction featuring rare wines, culinary treats and SLO Wine Country destination experiences. “The winemakers and grape growers really put on a show and go all out with their auction lots,” said Heather Muran, Executive Director of SLO Wine Country. “This portion of the day is truly entertaining.”

She adds that one of the more popular live-auction lots is called “fund a need,” where auction monies benefit a local cause. This year two non-profits have been chosen: The Assistance League of San Luis Obispo County, which provides clothing for needy students throughout the county; and the Sexual Assault Victim Education group, which provides safety curriculum to schools to help reduce the incidence of sexual assault and molestation of children.

Meanwhile, SLO Wine Country has teamed up with the Avila Beach Tourism Alliance to offer a $20 per ticket discount for travelers booking their stay in Avila Beach. They may also use a special trolley on Saturday, November, 2, for travel between several Avila Beach hotels and the Grand Tasting event. For information and tickets, visit www.slowine.com or contact (805) 541-5868, info@slowine.com. A “designated driver” ticket is also available for $30.

On Friday, November 1, participants become “roadies” for an afternoon and enjoy a “backstage” look at three SLO Wine Country wineries. Happening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., this “Rockin’ Road Trip” ($50) takes attendees from vine to wine, teaching the art of winemaking through demonstrations and hands-on activities at Laetitia Vineyard & Winery; Talley Vineyards; and Saucelito Canyon Vineyard & Winery. Space is limited at this “experience” event, which includes a luncheon and wine tasting.

Attendees may also enjoy the “Collaborative Winemaker Dinner” ($110) on Friday evening, November 1 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at The Casitas Estate in Arroyo Grande. Hosted by one of SLO Wine Country’s celebrity winemakers, the dinner will consist of five courses by Chefs Russ and Heather Thomas of Two Cooks Catering, all paired with wines of SLO Wine Country. This will be an evening under the stars, overlooking the breathtaking Arroyo Grande Valley. Space is limited.

Sunday, November 3 is a winery open house day for all of those who attended Saturday’s Grand Tasting. All day “SLO Wine on Tour” features wineries offering complimentary tastings, food and live entertainment along with wine discounts and special offers.

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Review: Three Paul Mas Wines

By Duane Pemberton
Winery website: http://www.paulmas.com/index-fr.php

Most wine lovers know of Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone but France’s Languedoc region hasn’t been too high on the radar for many. Located in the southeast portion of the country, it grows some fabulous grapes under the Languedoc AOC body there.

If you enjoy old-world-style wines at new-world prices, then I’d recommend you check out these from Paul Mas.

Review: Three Paul Mas Wines

2011 Chateau Paul Mas Coteaux Du Languedoc – W.E.P. Rating: 100%

Technical Data: 

  • Blend: 83% Syrah, 12% Grenache and 5% Mourvédre
  • Region: Languedoc
  • Appellation: Coteaux du Languedoc
  • Alcohol: 14%
  • Price: $20

On the nose: Cherry compote, marionberry, blueberry, peppercorn, beef jerky, leather, chewing tobacco and a hint of pencil lead.

On the palate: A very balanced, food-friendly Rhone blend that would go with everything from wild game to bison to beef pot-roast. Lush fruit up front but balanced with acid and tannin that lead into a lingering finish that begs you for more.

2011 Paul Mas Malbec – W.E.P. Rating: 130%

Technical Data: 

  • Region: Languedoc
  • Appellation: Pays d’Oc AOP
  • Grape: 100% Malbec
  • Price: $18

On the nose: Bramble, plum skin, boysenberry, blueberry, wet dirt, black cherries, cola, leather and tobacco leaf.

On the palate: A very food-friendly Malbec that does a tremendous job of proving once again that most American Wineries should stop trying to produce it. The reason is simple, I have yet to see any American producer that can match the quality of this bottle at even double the price. In fact, it’s better than many Malbec’s I’ve had from the Malbec budget leader, Argentina. It has solid structure, superb tannins, great acidity and fruit that rolls out like a welcome mat. A wine that will entice you to seek it out by the case-loads.

2011 Paul Mas Pinot Noir – W.E.P. Rating: 125%

Technical Data: 

  • Region: Languedoc
  • Appellation: IGP d’Aude
  • Grape: 100% Pinot Noir
  • Alcohol: 14%
  • pH: 3.6
  • Price: $18

On the nose: Blackened rhubarb tart with notes of cranberry, peppercorns, leather, chocolate, barnyard pasture and licorice.

On the palate: Easily one of the best sub-$20 Pinot Noirs I’ve ever had. Exhibits great complexity, stellar fruit, acid and tanning. The finish hangs out for months and gives a nice dose of reach-around.

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Review: 2011 Kennedy Shaw Riesling

By Duane Pemberton
Winery website: www.thewoodhousewineestates.com

For winemaker, Jean Claude Beck, making old-world style wine is in his DNA. Born in the Alsace region of France, Jean’s obvious influence of the area he grew up in comes to life in this Riesling.

Easily, one of the best, if not the best Riesling’s I’ve had from Washington State in a long time. It has all the complexity one looks for in this varietal, is very “fresh” on the palate and lingers with a finish that hangs out for weeks.

Review: 2011 Kennedy Shaw Riesling

Technical Data:

  • Variety: 100% Riesling
  • Alcohol: 13.9%
  • AVA: Yakima Valley
  • Vineyard: Dubrul Vineyard – Old Block
  • Price: $25

On the nose: Pear, green apples, petrol, river rock, white peach and ginger blossom.

On the palate: One of the “cleanest” new-world Rieslings I’ve had. It’s bone dry and exhibits so much of the qualities which are reminisce of wines from Alsace. It has that very appealing mixture of petrol, stone fruit, minerality and green apple core which make it a true delight. There’s also a hint of ginger on the finish. If you want a best-of-class Riesling from the New World, look no further.

W.E.P. Rating: 125%

Posted in Featured, Reviews, Riesling, Washington Wines0 Comments

Review: 2010 Gifford Hirlinger Estate Tempranillo

By Duane Pemberton
Winery website: www.giffordhirlinger.com

Gifford Hirlinger is one of the many family-run, family-owned wineries you’ll find in the Walla Walla area. It produces wines from the estate vineyard around the winery and has won quite a bit of acclaim for its efforts.

This tasty Tempranillo is a good example of how good this varietal can be from Washington State and is one I’d highly encourage both fans of the grape and newcomers to check out.

Review: 2010 Gifford Hirlinger Estate Tempranillo

Technical Data:

  • Vineyard: 100% Estate
  • Blend: 100%Tempranillo
  • Alcohol: 14.4%
  • Total Produced: 98 cases
  • Retail Price: $34.00

On the nose: Peppered plums, shoe leather, dark chocolate and bramble with a hint of forest floor.

On the palate: A nearly sublime mix of spice, blackened fruits, grilled leather, tobacco and spiced dark chocolate. Stellar mid palate with acids that “wake up to greet you” on the mid palate. An absolutely delightful Tempranillo which does a good job of showcasing this varietal from Washington State. If this Spanish varietal is on your brain from Washington, you’ll find few finer.

W.E.P. Rating: 90%

Posted in Reviews, Tempranillo, Washington Wines0 Comments