All posts by Wilfred Wong

My top five holiday wines

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What are the perfect wines to buy for holiday gifts? As all of you know, wine comes in different colors, flavors and price ranges.  So how hard can it be? If I were out there in consumer land, I’d be so confused. Marketing departments are putting their best foot forward and every wine sounds good. But some wines have a little more traction than others and some wines are more perfect for both the giver and the receiver. Below are my Top five holiday gift wines.

1. Acrobat by King Estate Oregon Pinot Gris, 2013: This is one of America’s best dry white wines in the $10-$15 range. Fresh and zippy, this wine has been well received by the marketplace. If you can’t spend a lot of $$$’s on a wine gift, this one is the ticket.

2. Chasseur Chardonnay Green Acres Hill, Sonoma Coast, 2011: I know some of you guys have some of those “wine geeks” on your list. They may be hoping for one of those $200.00+ low production trophy red wines, but get them this wine; it is a really cool winery, tiny production and would easily satisfy their curiosity. Retail about $60.

3. Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva, 2011. Every wine lover in America enjoys a good Argentine Malbec and this is one of the best. The winery is well known and has a great track record. Retail: Under $20.00

4. Seghesio Zinfandel, Sonoma County, 2012. From one of the most famous zinfandel families in Sonoma County, this wine explodes with all kinds of berries on the palate. Drinks well now. Perfect for that rascal on your list who like a big, bodacious red wine. Retail: around $20.00

5. Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, 2010. Everyone who drinks California wines knows this winery. The 2010 is one of their best vintages in years. For a name this well-known, this wine is actually an affordable luxury. You will win with everyone on your list. Retail around $50.00

These are my Top five holiday gift wines. Hmm, I wonder what my wines I may get this year. I would be thrilled to get any or all of these five. Happy Shopping and keep following us, you can also fine us on Twitter @wine_com.

Wake up and taste the Tempranillo

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For decades, Spanish wines were second class citizens among top wine growing regions in the world. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, the Rhône Valley were the gold standard. All French appellations and all revered. The Spaniards, were not new to the party, they just never got the respect that they deserved. But some of it was their doing. Rioja and Ribera del Duero, two long-standing regions, simply never really addressed the international community. Rioja, used an incredible amount of American oak, one would have thought that coconut and dill were primary wine flavors.

Then came the 1990’s and top US importers like Jorge Ordonez and Eric Solomon sought out top producers and potential stars on the Iberian Peninsula and transformed this under-appreciated viticultural area and world began to notice. Today, one of Spain’s most notable varietals, Tempranillo, has become très chic amongst the wine cognoscenti. On Thursday, November 13, 2014, our team celebrated International #TempranilloDay and tasted a few of our favorites.

Tempranillo produces a red wine of elegance and style. While much of it is centered on Rioja and Ribera del Duero, the varietal has shown success in California and Argentina. Over the next two decades, Tempranillo will enjoy worldwide fame; the grape is so adaptable, and it is just a matter of time that we will see top offerings from more than just Spain. Seldom too tannic or extracted, this varietal has found great love amongst those who enjoy Pinot Noir and Merlot, an dis perfect for foodies who would like to taste their dishes along with the wine.

Three of my favorites are the fresh and fruity ’12 Palacios Remondo La Vendimia Rioja (50% Garnacha Pais and 50% Tempranillo), the rich, yet fruit-forward ’09 Siglo Crianza Rioja (made from Tempranillo, Mazuelo and Graciano) and the long and delicious ripe fruit, slightly oaked ’10 Vina Hermina Crianza Rioja (85% Tempranillo and 15% Granacha). Celebrate International Tempranillo Day! The varietal has grown by leaps and bounds.

Merlot re-cap: why should we drink Merlot?

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Let’s take Merlot to the party. Whether it is a cast of thousands or just a party of two, Merlot has so much to offer. Let’s begin with a party. #MerlotMe brought us a renewed perspective on the grape. The wine is present yet clearly unobtrusive. Partakers belly up to the bar and say, “Pour me a red and fill-er-up.” In this case, they want a smooth red so that can back to the party. The 2011 Rodney Strong Sonoma County Merlot is one of the industry’s best for these occasions. As an affordable super-premium, the wine fulfills all the highpoints. Easy-to-drink, upscale and super food-friendly, I’ll have a full glass please.

How about for a party of two? Is there a perfect wine, now but I have one that is a no-brainer. Duckhorn Vineyards, one of the highest profiled ultra-premium producers of Merlot, has issued a super 2012 Napa Merlot. Richly layered and succulent, this one takes the varietal to another level. For cozier soirées, this top-of-the-line choice will please neophytes and sophisticates. The former will enjoy the wine that they may have recognized and latter will simply approve the selection.

Merlot grows well in many places of the wine world. On the Right-Bank of Bordeaux, in eastern Washington State, in many spots of the Napa Valley as well as in many other places, merlot takes its place as “The Wine” and while those special viticultural areas take care of the well-heeled crowd, there are even more places doing an excellent job of grown the varietal for everyday enjoyment. Merlot can supply wine drinkers with plenty of fine-drinking wines for a wide variety of occasions. So why do we drink merlot? We drink merlot because they are one of the most dependable reds on the planet.