Tag Archives: Chateau Ste. Michelle

HARK – The Holidays Approacheth!!


Happy Holidays

With that statement from a friendly customer a few days ago I knew it was here. As it quickly approaches the holiday season is once again sneaking up on us. From dead of summer to Halloween POW! it’s time for; Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day and New Years Eve just to name a few.

Recently I was asked to act as Interim Store Director for our Winn Dixie liquor store; thus begins my first holiday season in retail. Fortunately sales of wine and spirits are through the roof with daily sales increases in the high double and even triple digits compared to last year. Thank you wine buyers!

With the holidays upon us and family parties to help plan and take part in I have given a lot of thought to what wines to bring, gift, recommend and most importantly partake of. Luckily 2012 has exposed me to many good wines,  most of them affordable and easily accessible.  So upon much review I hereby offer what I hope will be a list of good value very drinkable wines that I have discovered throughout the year. Wines  meant to be shared with family and friends.  My official:   2012  Whine and Cheers for Wine Holiday List. For additional information on each just click on the links provided below.

Old Vine Zinfandel– After many tastings this year of this varietal, and I might add not really a stinker in the bunch, I ended up with an almost tie between Project Paso and Four Vines. The winner, FourVines which I have now had about three times in the last month. For the value it cannot be beat. Usually priced in the $12.00 range it can be found on sale now for $7-10.00.

Pinot Noir– Again it came down to two: Chile’s The Show and California’s Concannon. The winner is the Concannon 2010 Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir. Price range: $8-12.00.

Red Blend I lucked out with blends this year and the two that automatically come to mind would be; Argentina’s Amado Sur [$11-13.00] by Trivento and the Dream Tree Crush by rocker Dave Matthews and Steve Reeder [$15-18.00].  If you are looking for a bolder taste I’d choose the Malbec, Bonarda, Syrah blended Amado Sur. For smooth and light I’d suggest the Dream Tree Crush.

Côtes-du-Rhône-   LES HALOS DE JUPITER 2009.  A mostly Grenache Rhone that yes even goes excellently with corned beef. Price range; under $15.00.

White Bordeaux/Sauvignon Blanc- Chateau Montet at $8.99 vs. Chateau Tour de Bonnet Blanc $14.99. Both very good wines and values. That said if I were having a holiday party serving a large group; my “go to” wine would be the Chateau Montet. Everyone will be pleased.

Champagne/Sparkling Wine  One choice automatically jumps to the forefront: Champagne De Magerie A Bouzy Grand Cru [$35-40.00].  At this price, for me at least, it is not an everyday wine but a great special occasion choice.  Domaine Ste. Michelle [$15.00] has been our house sparkler for years but since I am writing about 2012 discoveries Piper Sonoma Sparkling Brut at $12.99 gets my vote.

Riesling- Chateau Ste. Michelle out of Washington State can do no wrong by me with their many worthy wines. Their Riesling and Sweet Harvest Riesling [$10.00] are affordable, dependable good wines. An easy choice. A new discovery for me this year was the Dr Loosen “Dr. L” Riesling. At $11.99 also delicious and dependable.

Merlot Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards from Washington State’s Columbia Valley is my clear winner. Their 2007 vintage was so memorable that 8 months later I am still thinking about it.  Priced in the $18-22.00 range it is worthy of the investment.

Malbec- For me all roads lead to Argentina’s LAMADRID. From their baseline Malbec [$10.00] to the RESERVE [$18.00] to their GRAN RESERVE [$28-35.00], which I recently finally tried after sitting on the bottle for 2 years, all are worthy.  Beautiful wines of which I wholeheartedly approve for vintages; 2008, 2009, 2010.

Chardonnay Over the summer I discovered a delicious Chardonnay; Hess Select from California’s Monterey region [$8-15.00]. More recently we have enjoyed Sonoma County’s Sebastiani [$8-12.00]. Both are rich and very well-balanced. For a non-California style Chardonnay [i.e. little or no wood] I suggest Fat Bastard  [$7-12.00] out of France.  Sourced from all over the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Those accustomed to oaky California Chardonnay’s may think they are drinking a completely different varietal. It is smooth yet  dry.

Cabernet Sauvignon- This category for me turned out to be the most varied in pricing. We lucked out; great Cab’s ranging from $10.00 to over $50.00. In the lower priced range Cycles Gladiator was a great find. One that our store now easily goes through a case a week.  In the mid-$20.00 range Sonoma’s  Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve was a wonderful treat, also one I’d like to revisit.  And at the higher end of the spectrum the delicious and exciting Stag’s Leap Artemis comes to mind; complex, full-bodied and powerful.

Sauternes- To complete our holiday meal or any special occasion I always think of Sauternes,  although you can also enjoy this sweet french wine at the start of your evening as an apéritif.  Our 2012 discovery was the 2008 Chateau Doisy-Védrines. Not inexpensive at $30.00 for a 375ml [half] bottle, but it is always worthy of a special occasion shared with worthy family and friends.

Here we are at the end of our first ever 2012  Whine and Cheers for Wine Holiday List. As 2012 starts to wind down I’d like to take this opportunity to be thankful. Very thankful to all my supporters and followers, some that I have had the honor of communicating with and getting to know throughout the year.  All your visits and comments have meant the world to me. Thanks to all of you,  2012 will always be my year of  Whine and Cheers for Wine! 

Thank you!

Happy Holidays

and  ¡SALUD!


Cabernet Day August 30th 2012 – Celebrating everything Cabernet


Cabernet Day August 30th 2012 – Celebrating everything Cabernet….

In preparation for the 3rd Annual Cabernet Day I decided to review all my earlier Whine and Cheers For Wine posts.  Surprisingly many included Cabernet as a topic; Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Blends etc. and include wines from California, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Australia France and more.

In commemoration and celebration of this special day I have decided to repost my reviews via Twitter throughout the day of August 30th referencing #CabernetDay.  Please join me in revisiting these posts and by sharing your own.  I too will be checking posts on Twitter by searching #CabernetDay throughout the day.  I am looking forward to learning more about the varietal and even more so seeing what everyone will be drinking in celebration.

To join the crowds and or register to follow #CabernetDay events; check out; http://cabernet.eventbrite.com/

For those of you not on Twitter or for those of you just looking for some Cabernet information; I have listed below all the references available on  Whine and Cheers for Wine. If you prefer to do the search yourself just type in Cabernet Day in the Search portion of our site. Please visit, share your thoughts and see what other posts get your attention.  ¡SALUD!

1-Stags Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon  http://whineandcheersforwine.com/2012/01/01/ended-2011-with-a-bang-2007-stags-leap-artemis-cabernet-sauvignon/

Dr. Loosen Bros. 2010 Riesling/ Dr. L Mosel

Dr. Loosen Bros. 2010 Riesling
Ripe grapes of Riesling.

Ripe grapes of Riesling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We discovered this medium sweet wine last year at one of our wine tasting classes. At the time I was not a fan of “sweet wines” but thanks to Dr. Loosen and others I have tasted over the last year I can now say that my taste for varied wines continues to develop. Riesling whether sweet or dry truly is the perfect match for spicy or spiced foods. It also pairs beautifully with bold cheeses.

This German Riesling in particular comes from Mosel; one of 13 German wine regions.  In terms of output it is Germany‘s third largest and known for its steep slopes facing the Mosel River.


Ürzig/Mosel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is just what the Doctor ordered!  [Couldn’t resist that line]  The name of course also stuck with me. How many Doctor wines have you come across? Of course now I’ve noticed a few, mostly from Germany.
We drank this wine over two nights which is something I never do. In fact 5 days between the opening and killing of this bottle. Luckily I am glad to report that the wine was delicious on both occasions albeit a little smoother as it aged. I believe this to be due to the sugar content and refrigerated coolness.
On the nose I noted a champagne like aroma that I would describe as yeasty minerality. Scents detected were; green fruits such as apple and it came across as crisp/dry and was straw in color. My palate discovered; honeysuckle, citrus, honey with even pineapple as it warmed in the glass. I would further describe it as having medium body and medium acidity.
At $11.99 retail and after a few purchases I would say this Riesling is a good reliable choice. There are many others in this price range and others I also like, such as; Charles Smith‘s KUNG FU Girl [gotta love the name!] and Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling’s. But I will leave those for another sweet day. SALUD!
Online info: Dr Loosen “Dr. L” Riesling
Dr. L Loosen Bros Riesling 2005

Dr. L Loosen Bros Riesling 2005 (Photo credit: Martin.Boyer)

Crisp, Peach, Citrus, Mineral, Light-bodied

Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany- Sourced exclusively from vineyards with steep slopes and slate soil, this wine embodies the elegant and racy style of classic Mosel Riesling. Displaying snappy peach and juicy citrus fruit highlighted by crisp mineral notes on the complex finish. Great value.

The Dr. Loosen estate has been in the same family for over 200 years. When Ernst Loosen (pronounced loh-zen) assumed ownership in 1988, he realized that with ungrafted vines averaging 60 years old in some of Germany’s best-rated vineyards, he had the raw materials to create stunningly intense, world-class wines.

To achieve this, Ernst dramatically reduced his crop size and stopped all chemical fertilization, preferring only moderate use of organic fertilizers. And, most importantly, he turned to gentler cellar practices that allow the wine to develop its full potential with a minimum of handling and technological meddling.


Devils Ridge Lane

Pleasures of Devils Ridge

Does wine taste better on vacation?

Ghost Pines 2008  – Cabernet Sauvignon / Santa Rita Reserva 2008 – Cabernet Sauvignon /  Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 – Riesling

I think the fast and easy answer to this quandary would be an easy yes. But the more I analyze and ponder about it,  the answer is still yes! Although I should clarify because I honestly think the same feeling and or joy can be attained even when not on vacation.

Think of it, appreciating wine can take you away from your current worries. It can be a form of escaping just as a vacation is. We’re not talking about guzzling here but actual wine appreciation; setting the atmosphere, picking your stemware, presentation, pairing wine with accoutrements, taking notes, sharing the experience, etc.  I truly think this pleasure can be attained or cloned whether at home, vacationing half way around the world or as I am, sitting before a roaring fire in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I am lucky to say; wine is one of my pleasures in life, no matter where I am, just NO plastic cups please!!  Salud.

Santa Rita Reserva 2008 – Cabernet Sauvignon: $10-12.00 notes of [on the nose] dark/black fruit [plum, fig], leather, wood [cedar/oak], minerality [earth].  Flavors detected; grape, leather, earthy barnyard minerality, pepper, dark chocolate, cherry on the finish.

Ghost Pines 2008  – Cabernet Sauvignon: $17-20.00 An elegantly tasting wine that tastes as if at a higher price point. A winemakers blend using grapes from two different California areas [Napa/Sonoma]. Scents/tastes detected; dark fruit [cherry, blackberry], vanilla, smokey wood [cedar/oak], moist underbrush and believe it or not I get the taste of cotton candy at the finish.

Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 – Riesling: $8-10.00 This value wine comes in between being medium dry and medium sweet. A perfect choice for those of us who avoid “sweet wines”. Nicely fresh and crisp with flowery flavors of; peach, apple, pineapple and lychee.

Does wine taste better on vacation? My vacation with: Ghost Pines / Santa Rita Reserva / Chateau Ste. Michelle