It’s Villa Maria time!

Villa Maria

I realized today as I was preparing to write this post that I have not participated in a Villa Maria tasting since June 2016. Life has a funny way of throwing curve balls sometimes and that is why.

However, I am thrilled to be back with my Villa Maria family and friends to co-host this month’s First Sip of Fall on Wednesday, November 15 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time/5:00 p.m. Pacific Time on Twitter. This time, we will be tasting the following new releases just in time for the holidays:

2017 Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, $14
2016 Private Bin Chardonnay, East Coast, $15
2016 Private Bin Pinot Noir, Marlborough, $18

It is especially exciting to be one of the first people to taste a 2017 vintage wine, a perennial favorite of mine, the sauvignon blanc. This will also be my first time tasting a chardonnay from New Zealand. The fact that it is from Villa Maria is icing on the cake.

Regular readers of my website know that my affinity for Villa Maria dates back to May 2012, when I first became acquainted with the wines. Every year since, 2013 through now, I have participated in these tastings because I believe in the brand. Founded in 1961 by Sir George Fistonich, Villa Maria is still family owned. In 2017, Drinks International named Villa Maria the most admired wine brand in New Zealand and the fourth most admired in the world.

Villa Maria wines are accessible, affordable, and approachable. I am enamored with the winemaking style and the lower alcohol of the wines, which, in my opinion, makes them more enjoyable alone or with food. With Villa Maria, you get a whole lot of bang for your buck. They are proof positive that delicious wines do not have to be expensive.

I hope you will join my friends and me on Twitter on November 15. To participate, be sure to include the hashtags #FirstSipNZ, #OpenAnotherWorld, and #VillaMaria in your tweets and posts. Follow Villa Maria’s winemakers, Helen Morrison at @Helen_Wine, Kathrin Jakowiec at @Kat_Halbtrocken, moderator Janet Fouts at @JFouts, as well as me, @travelwinechick, to virtually enjoy this first sip of fall.





Much Ado About Tasting Notes

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Earlier this year, I was asked by Snooth how I write tasting notes and I happily offered my opinion. After much anticipation, the post was published earlier this month. In response to my contribution, I received the following email, which made my day.

As a very humble English sexagenarian cellaring for over 40 years, a big thank you for your comments in October’s Snooth newsletter regarding writing tasting notes. It’s so very nice to read, and share, the same view with an eminent “wino”! as yourself and who agrees most wholeheartedly with the broad comment that it is a personal snap-shot in time, ambiance, food, company, location and so much more. Overly clever wine-speak is self indulgent, crass and unnecessary for most genuine wine lovers. Love it, taste it, drink it, enjoy it and keep thoughts and comments simple.

I could not agree more.


Ackerman Family Vineyards


I am sure that during my commutes around the city of Napa, I have passed the Ackerman Heritage House at 608 Randolph Street before, the hospitality and tasting home of Ackerman Family Vineyards. However, on this rainy February day, nothing was more inviting as my co-workers and I entered by way of a back door.


Taste Maryland!

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When you think of Maryland, what comes to mind? Not having spent much time in Maryland until recently, I immediately thought of the Eastern Shore, crab cakes, and the Baltimore Orioles. It turns out that Maryland is much more than beaches, baseball, and seafood. It is a world-class winegrowing and winemaking region that dates back to 1648. Let’s take a virtual tour of four of my favorite Maryland wineries.


4th of July Cookout Wine of the Moment: 2014 Antigal Uno Cabernet Sauvignon


Just in time for your 4th of July cookouts, I decided to taste the 2014 Antigual Uno Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP $18.00, sample for review). For those of you who have followed this website for at least a year will recall that I reviewed the 2013 Antigal Uno Malbec, whose tasting experience transported me to my 2013 trip to Mendoza, Argentina.

Another wine of both great value and quality, this cabernet sauvignon showcases higher-elevation, 100% cabernet sauvignon from Antigal’s Uco Valley, Mendoza vineyards. Hand harvested and crafted, this wine sees similar oak aging as last vintage’s malbec, 12 months in a mix of American (40%) and French (60%) oak. While quite young, I found this wine to be very drinkable now if opened a short time in advance of serving it. As someone used to full-bodied Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, I found the medium-body, higher-acid style of this wine to be a refreshing change. Blackberry, black cherry, and plum intermingle with spicy oak and bitter, black coffee flavors to create a layered flavor palette. Absolutely pair this with beef of all kinds: burgers, carne asada, ribeye, filet mignon, tri-tip, T-bone. Happy 4th of July!

¡Buen provecho!