I have enjoyed wine in many places over the past many years, and of course, in the last few weeks in Spain.
Believe it or not, Karen and I had never been on a tour of a vineyard and winery together. We have visited a few vineyards together, but they were not a "proper" tour. I knew we couldn't leave Spain without touring a good wine region. It was my first time to go as a paying customer and hers as a pretty good taster.
We could have gone to Ribereo de Duoro, or a local Madrid winery but we went to Don Quixote land: La Mancha! La Mancha is one of the largest wine regions in the world and a two hour trip south of Madrid.
We were smart enough to book a good wine tour with a company that offered much more than the usual tours. You know the kind - they stop for 15 minutes in 20 different places so you can "see it all"! We scheduled our tour with winetourismspain.com. (Click on link) _ Our personal wine guide was Raul, who made the day a pleasure from the time he picked us up until he dropped us off 12 hours later! If you are ever near Madrid, we highly recommend them! And ask for Raul!
In the morning we stopped at Finca Antigua (Click on link) which is one of the operations of the Familia Martinez Bujanda Group, established in 1889. This company has two other operations throughout Spain: Finca Valpierdra and Finca Montepedroso. All of the company's wines are available for tasting and purchasing at this one location. 75 percent of their production is exported. With the quality of their wines, the value pricing and the drop in the exchange rates I can see why they are exporting so much of their production.
This is not a "mom and pop" winery. They produce well over one million bottles of wine per year.
Visits to vineyards take the same format wherever you go in the world:
I usually look for something different in a wine and I found it at this winery. There are five grapes known as the Bordeaux Blend. One of them, Petit Verdot, was available for tasting. 100% Petit Verdot-no blend. This is uncommon, as it is difficult to get this grape to taste good on its own. Petit Verdot is a blending grape. The one we tasted had a really subtle bouquet and a big leathery taste. It needed food, and was crying out for the country's top cheese, Manchego, which is made from sheep's milk.
Next was a visit to a castle and the famous windmills of Don Quixote's journeys. Then on to lunch to try dishes typical of the of La Mancha region. We chose from the daily menu. Karen had roasted partridge and I had lamb chops - both good meals. We enjoyed them with a glass of wine, good conversation with Raul and then off to winery number two - an hour drive away.
Mont-Reaga (Click on link) was the afternoon winery and my focus was on the Spanish labelling system.
The star wine of the day was a deep red wine. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grape, matured in barrels for two years and further bottle aging at the winery for another four to six years.
This practice takes place in several wineries around the world, and means the consumer can drink the wine with proper aging. Mature wines taste much better than those drunk too young.
The Gran Reserva wine we were offered was Las Liras. It is 14.5% alcohol and tastes like a deep rich velvet nectar! Unfortunately, you cannot buy their wines in the USA. They will ship to you, but it is quite expensive. We brought a bottle home with us that we intend to enjoy for Christmas dinner!
Sidebar: Las Liras translates to "the lyres" which is a musical instrument. The winery has a lyre on display that was once owned by Napoleon.
Drinking and eating in Madrid was cheaper than the US. Karen's glass of vino blanco in most restaurants cost under three Euros, the same style in our home town of Naples FL is $8-$12. The world's wines are less expensive outside the USA. Bars and restaurants pay less tax than we do in the US and mark ups are lower.
I have an easy system for wine: my expectations are that quality and value be fairly equal - wherever you are drinking it.
When eating and drinking in restaurants in Madrid, our checks were about 30% less than at home. We purchased wine by the glass or bottle, for usually one-third of the price of Naples restaurants, bars and wine stores.
I would encourage you to try some Spanish wines. Karen's favorite is a Monastrell made by Juan Gil. We had a bottle of 2007 in Naples a few years ago and it was wonderful. It is almost impossible to find the '07 now. You might try finding the oldest vintage you can. We had a bottle of 2011 at a restaurant in Madrid and it was super. Not as good as the '07, but very nice. Look for it in Whole Foods stores.
We had a wonderful time at the wineries and a great time in Madrid. We we were sad to leave, but also glad to be home. What we won't be happy to see, however, is the price of wine on our next restaurant check!
Adiós y viajes de vino felices!
The last time I purchased a barrel of wine was in 2003 in Carcassonne in the South of France. I purchased this at a charity auction at a price that approximated $12 a bottle. I had it bottled, shipped to a French port, then on to New York where it was picked up by Western Carriers and shipped to a State registered distributor adding another $3 per bottle to the cost.
The process took two years. First was the aging in the barrel, then bottling and then six months traveling. One reader of this blog tasted the wine and said it was the best of its type he ever had. Some of my friends took a few cases and it became their house wine. In less than three months the wine was consumed and people asked for more. No can do. It was unique.
October 27th, 2015 in Madrid - We walked the local market next to our new home, purchased our fish and fruit, three types of cheese and a bottle of Otazu Chardonnay 2013 from Navarra in Northern Spain.
Wow Factor: The Otazu is the nearest thing in taste to the wine I had purchased ten years ago. The price is 8.70 Euros per bottle, about $9.60.
My tasting notes: Light golden color, mid-viscosity, evidence of sugar in the appearance indicating a warm climate, soft honey and lime nose, background of light spices, maybe cinnamon and coriander, a lean flavor with a citrus touch. We used a well flavored homemade fish stew for the pairing and it was ideal. A nicely flavored chicken dish would do the same.
Label tasting notes:
Otazu: Blanco Chardonnay. Color amarillo limon, limpio y brilliante. Nariz intensa, con notas citricas y fruta tropical. En boca se presenta fresco y amable.
Otazu: White Chardonnay. Lemon yellow color, clean and bright. Intense nose with notes of citrus and tropical fruit. Fresh and pleasant on the palate.
Karen's tasting notes: She says she needs to try a few more bottles to make accurate notes for tasting.
Karen and I have tasted over sixty different white wines during the last year, and along with a couple of friends, have agreed on a little grading system. One star means you would not want a second glass, two stars indicates you would buy a second bottle, and a three star rating means would you buy a case. I liked Otazu so much I would buy a barrel which is over twenty cases.
If you liked (or didn't like) a wine, the first question to always ask your self is "Was it the wine or the occasion"? In this case, it was the wine. The occasion was a simple afternoon at home. Although we enjoy those types of days - so maybe it was both.
Our first visit to the wonderful Mercado Chamartin, with its fresh fruits, meats and cheeses so brilliantly displayed was a trip to remember. We saw our fish cut as we directed, our cheese cut to the size we wanted, and our fruit checked by the store holder.
The wine was displayed with a bottle of this and a few of that - no piles of cases and crates - no end caps - no "two for ones" or special deals. The packaging was an art form and the service professional with a smile. This is where we purchased the Otazu. It was served perfectly chilled at 48 degrees Fahrenheit and served in a good quality glass.
Of course, we went back to the Mercado for the second and third bottle! (It stays fresh when opened for about four days in a fridge.)
Our next big adventure will be a wine tour of the local vineyards. It will be Karen and my first visit to a vineyard together. There is a Viatour tour which will cost about $150 each for the day trip, the reviews are excellent, and three vineyards are visited. The area is less than thirty miles away so I am contemplating doing it on our own. Will we find another perfect wine?
Best wine lesson so far on the trip? Spanish wine is 75% less expensive that at home, the food about half price, and the mercardos are an eye opening experience that we never tire of exploring.
Hasta la próxima: Recuerde que todos los momentos que te hacen feliz!
(Until next time: Remember all the moments that make you happy!)
Note: If you haven't read the prior blog, you might want to do that now - or this may not make a lot of sense.
After so much analyzing, preparing, cooking, pairing, getting the table ready, and opening the wines, it is 7:00 pm on Saturday and our guests arrive on time.
Karen: "Barrie give them a glass of wine before we start the tasting." How can I? The wines are all designated to a certain food. If I use the first prepared white wine, it will throw off the pairing. Plan B. We have a few bottles of Sauvignon Blanc lightly chilled. That's what I served while Karen finished in the kitchen. Always have a Plan B when you have friends over and the cook is still in the kitchen!
My first observation: it was a great party. Some of our friends stayed until after 1:00 am. We enjoyed the evening as much as they did!
Second observation: the next tasting will be even better! Research should be less, as we can draw on what we learned from this very specific pairing event.
The Results According to our guests:
Top 3 Favorite Foods
One of our friends who joined us for the tasting had sent Karen the following email prior to our party:
". . .you absolutely can't overthink food and wine! The menu/selection/planning is the part that's so much fun. You can be creative, traditional or wild, try new combinations. Or not. And whatever you do, your guests will be delighted as it's not just about the wine and the food. It's about the love that you put into this tasting. That's the flavor that comes through the most. . .
She was so right! The best pairing of the evening? The sound of laughter paired with good conversation.
Click here for our "Perfect Pairing" tasting chart for the evening. Let us know if you want any recipes. Karen is happy to share.
Buena comida, buen vino y buenos amigos .
Even though it is still over 90 degrees here, we recently decided it was time to look at wine and food for the fall and invite friends over for a wine tasting. The tasting coincides with old friends visiting from Miami so it is a good opportunity to have our "old" friends meet our "new" friends and enjoy an evening of good conversation and wine.
Since we have been in our home we have built up a decent inventory of wines. We were not trying to build an inventory, but our eyes are bigger than our palates at times. When we have guests coming over, we want to make sure they will not go away hungry or thirsty.
Because we are getting ready for a trip in a few weeks, it seemed sensible to use products from our inventory. We are on a mission to use what we have as much as possible before we leave, whether it is food in the cupboards or wine in the cabinet.
Karen loves wine and food pairing and is very good at it, so jointly we are having a fall themed tasting. She has this great ability to research and develop recipes, then slightly change them for a better pairing with a specific wine,
We will set the table, grouping the food into three areas: one for reds, one for whites, and one will consist of foods commonly found at tastings. This takes a lot of planning and some work - all of which we have fun doing together.
Last week, after burning some calories at the "Y" and not feeling like cooking, we decided we would go to O'mei China Bistro on Naples Boulevard. _ We had seen O'mei for several months and always meant to try it, but ended up someplace else. Today was the day! What a great find! Why did we wait so long? We ordered Mango Prawns, a brilliant Chilean Sea Bass and a great Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc to drink with the seafood! Without a doubt, this was the best SB I have tasted this year, It was a 2014 - a good vintage and arriving fresh, fruity and vibrant! _
As you might expect, the Kim Crawford SB will definitely be one of the wines we pair.
Tasting day minus nine. Karen has told me her ideas for the food, and we then put our heads together and worked on the pairings. We want this to be a more specific and targeted tasting and one that our friends enjoy and hopefully learn a bit from it.
Tasting day minus five. The wine selection is complete. I took an inventory of the wines we had and selected four whites and four reds. The whites consist of two Chardonnays, one Sauvignon Blanc and one Pinot Grigio. Our chosen reds are two Cabernet Sauvignon, one Claret and two Chianti Classico. We are trying to make the wines and foods as perfectly compatible as we can.
One thing to keep in mind with any tasting and pairing is that your taste might be totally different from the person next to you. Your taste might also be different today than it was yesterday based on a variety of things. Tastings are subjective.
I like comparing several things when deciding on the wines we will drink. When comparing pricing, the lower priced wines might be preferred over the pricier ones - you never know. I also like to compare vintages and wine areas. I am trying to make sure we have wines from different vineyards, different countries, different vintages and with different price points.
So at T-3, we now have a concrete plan and have prepared a list of foods and wines to be used for the tasting. The list it is quite detailed.
Karen has selected four types of food: eggs, chicken, risotto, and crostini. She will prepare two sets of each food: one to be paired with the whites and one with the reds. They will each be prepared with different flavors, seasonings, accompaniments, etc. and we hope they enhance the wines with which they are paired (and vice versa)! It is quiet an extensive thought process and taste profile that has gone into our planning. We hope our guests enjoy it!
The third grouping of foods are what you might expect at a traditional wine tasting event: cheeses, salamis, crusty breads, grapes. Let's see what our guests think! Have we "over thought" the detailed pairings, or will it be totally worth it?
As you can see we have spent a few days planning and preparing for this event with a side benefit of using this as a learning experience. We want you to be able to benefit from this also. Once the tasting is over, we will give a brief report on the comments (positive and negative). We will also provide you with the tasting sheet our guests will receive so you can duplicate this tasting if you so desire.
The tasting sheet is very specific to this particular event and foods. The wines are our own opinion, based on our palates. The foods are what we know will pair well from previous tastings and some new ideas.
If it sounds like fun for you and your friends, Karen is happy to provide the recipes she used and I am happy to make suggestions for your wine choices.
We will let you know how it turns out! Until then, always drink what you enjoy and enjoy what you drink!
We are in downtown Naples, FL celebrating my birthday. Only nine minutes away from home, but with no pressure about adhering to the driving laws of not drinking and driving. We can have drinks when we want and walk back to our hotel room. It's our "stay-cation"!
Karen & I eat out on a regular basis, and mostly restrict ourselves to healthy food. We also cook and eat healthy at home. In fact, we have just finished day 7 of a strict diet and are both proud of the weight we have lost! Now we are heading into the next two days armed with some weight loss, but also a bit leery of how our bodies will react with richer foods and (of course) alcohol.
Our hotel (Inn on Fifth) provided a first rate happy hour as part of our accommodations, so we started our partying at the hotel. My drink of choice was a Hendrick's gin & tonic while Karen enjoyed a Newton Chardonnay. (Remember - I am a "wine thinker" more than a "wine drinker".)
Our next venture was out into the hot and humid (more like a sauna with the heat turned up to 120 degrees) streets of Naples. With no definite destination in mind for dinner, we strolled down 5th Avenue looking at menus and enjoying the air conditioning coming from the stores and restaurants if their doors were opened.
Our first stop was Bha Bha - a favorite of ours. It is a wonderful Persian restaurant and we have enjoyed coming here with friends in the past. Tonight we decided to sit at the bar for a couple of drinks while we debated about dinner. We still weren't sure what and where we wanted to eat, so we enjoyed our drinks and moved on.
Now armed with a couple of gin and tonics for me and chardonnays for Karen, we walked back up 5th Avenue to Bistro 821. Most of their competition had only two or three tables occupied and 821 was very busy. We were confident the food must be good. Wow-the place was bustling and we were turned away - all tables booked! Note to self: Reservations!
So with no dinner yet, we walked through the courtyard in front of the Sugden Theater to the famed Trulucks and found it was in the middle of its happy hour. There was no room in the bar (which is where we where we usually prefer) and with my shorts and running shoes we weren't sure we could gain admittance to the dining room. I asked the hostess if my clothes were acceptable and if they had a table. She assured me that my clothing was fine (it is Naples in August after all) and immediately took us over to a nice table.
We now order our third drink of the evening and are happy to try the menu. Our appetizer was shrimp. These shrimp put all the others we have had in Naples to shame: beautiful, large, fresh, chilled to perfection and served up on dry ice for effect.
As big and good as the shrimp were, the 2013 Trefethen Chardonnay was up to the challenge for a great pairing. Since the Trefethen website gives such a wonderful description of this wine, I have provided a link for you below. There is no reason to try to reinvent the word wheel. The only thing I would add is that they nailed the aromas and flavors and the pairing with the grilled shrimp was the best choice of the evening. It's an affordable wine that beat out the other two chardonnays we had tried tonight.
Karen ordered Trout Amondine which was excellent and again paired nicely with the Trefethen Chardonnay. My Steak Au Poivre was better than good and I ordered a nice Cabernet (Liberty School 2012) to drink while eating the steak.
Liberty School is what some wine experts would call "pedestrian". For me it had that black currant backbone I like in a cabernet: a good feel in the mouth, with a little astringency that was mopped up by the pepper sauce.
If you drink red wine with fish (yes - it really is okay to do this!) the Liberty School went really well with the trout (Karen shared) and if the red wine is a little harsh, a forkful of potatoes (especially mashed) and/or creamed spinach is a great way to subdue the flavors.
To my surprise at the end of our meal, a chocolate bread pudding, with vanilla ice cream appeared - my birthday gift from Trulucks. Luckily, we were now just across the street from our hotel so could slowly make our way back to our room.
Remember - we had just finished a 7 day strict menu that had us eating very healthy foods, but our calorie intake daily was about what my dinner had been at Trulucks! Good night! We will sleep tight tonight!
We are now on day two of our stay-cation and as I write this I am suffering. Too many carbs, and calories, a few too many drinks, a bad tummy and a fuzzy head, and now we are getting ready for Bistro 821 where we have tonight's reservation. (We learn quickly.)
Last night was just a warm up - my real birthday is today! We have rested, had a light breakfast and lunch, walked around downtown Naples like tourists, consumed no alcohol yet and have gone online to see the menu for Bistro 821 before we go out. Making healthy choices before we walk through the door. We'll let you know later how that worked for us!
People who don't know us think because I am a Master Sommelier I drink only top end wines. In fact, I get more excitement from finding a well-made wine at everyday prices. Therefore, my suggestions in this Blog will always be quite easy to find and just as easy on your pocketbook! My recommendations for you this time are:
Don't get lost without a wine road map - how to find your way on the wine(ding) roads.
I got out of the pool a few days ago, and was asked to open a bottle of 2013 Mer Soleil Silver*. I did this while smelling the chicken baking, onions and potatoes roasting and looking at a fresh salad on the table. Life is good.
Whatever road you travel, I hope you can always say that.
Those of you who know me are very aware that I am not a wine drinker - just a wine thinker. So the wine I open these days is usually for Karen or our friends and family.
After I arrived in the USA some 20 years ago, I worked and lived in Las Vegas: the city of free drinks. Not many places in Vegas gave away good wine, but they offered good quality spirits. From the mid-nineties I become more of a rum drinker than a wine drinker.
Adding to the above, I sometimes tasted up to 60 wines a day in my job. A person's brain gets tired when tasting like this. These tastings were needed for business, not pleasure. Good wine takes analysis when you are buying for upscale restaurants. To stay ahead of the competition, you must taste and purchase good wines, or your competitor can purchase it and you might be without something your customers want.
Even if I preferred my personal drink to be rum, I still took a keen interest in wine and always enjoyed drinking a good bottle. Because of my position, I was on the road in Napa Valley and other California wine regions on a regular basis. Road trips through California wine country. Life was good.
Since summer is a great time of the year for road trips, allow me to be your wine GPS for a few minutes.
The July 31, 2015 issue of Wine Spectator has a feature on Chardonnay, with a nice chart giving the vintage ratings of California Chardonnays. Although the chart gives the quality of wines for the last seven vintages, please note that white wines fade after about three years. They do not improve with age like most good red wines.
2007 and 2013 scored good marks on the chart, but 2007 is too old to drink now. Basically, what WS was telling us is that there was no great and prolific vintages between 2007 and 2013. Note: 2011 was a good quality wine, but the vintage didn't produce much wine.
The 2013 vintage in Napa, Sonoma and Carneros was fairly good, vibrant and plentiful. People often think "vintage" means a particularly great year - it doesn't. It simply means the product of one particular year.
The writer of the Wine Spectator article liked Meiomi Chardonnay 2013 from the California Coastal Region. 49% of the grapes come from Santa Barbara. The rest of the blend is 30% Sonoma and 21% Monterey. The very informative label describes tropical fruit notes from Santa Barbara, Sonoma crisp apple and mineral content, and Monterey ripe stone fruits and creaminess.
Wine Spectator gave the 2013 Meiomi an average score of 90 for the quality of the wine and 90-93 for California Chardonnays of 2013 vintage. It is well worth a try and in a good store it should be under $20.00
Since we had been big fans of the 2007 Meiomi Pinot Noir, we decided to try their Chardonnay. Using a tasting chart that I modified for the novice Chardonnay drinker, Karen's tasting notes of the Meiomi was as follows:
"It has a clear straw colored appearance, mineral scent, hint of wood and a vibrant acidity character. The wine was "musty" in a nice way. The wine has a good length (aftertaste), a little bitter citrus flavor, dry with medium body and can be drunk with or without food."
The wine is well structured and the minerality of it paired nicely with creamy risotto, lemon chicken with mushrooms and a salad with lemon dressing. Hint: The fruit flavors are hidden in this wine so do not drink these wines too cold.
2014 Chardonnays are just reaching the market now and the USA wines should be good and plentiful. It is a long hot summer and a nice bottle of cool Chardonnay can and should be enjoyed.
Be safe in your travels and take care on the wine(ding) roads! Most of all - make sure life is good!
*See the 6/20/15 blog that speaks about Mer Soleil Silver.
Below is a wine evaluation chart that I modified for Chardonnay tastings. Hope you enjoy trying it out when you open another bottle of Chardonnay.
To learn more about Meiomi, click on link. http://meiomi.com
In the mid-sixties I was working at London's prestigious Dorchester Hotel and a young musical group called The Beatles was leading the British invasion in the USA. It was an exciting time to live in London! I was seventeen and working in a great hotel and at an early age I was thrown into the "wine fire".
Due to an illness of the "wine guy" at the Dorchester, I was told to buy a special uniform and told I was going to be a sommelier! Note: "Sommelier" is a term that a restaurant/cruise line/hotel can give to a server - don't confuse this with "Master Sommelier" which is several years of study and very arduous exams.
On my first week as a "Sommelier", a group of four men sat around sipping their drinks after dinner and one of them handed me a glass of port and told me to describe it. I panicked and then went into a full recitation of exactly what I had heard the other wine guy say to customers. I told them "The wine is coming close to its maturity. It's a typical example of its vintage. Complex and layered! Oh - and the bouquet was very typical of the vintage too!" I did a great job and impressed them - shocked them actually. I went away wishing I knew what the heck my memorized words meant! That's when I started studying wine very seriously. I was determined that this would not happen again.
It took five years before I became a Master Sommelier and a few more before I was writing wine courses. That evening, I was strictly a young guy who could b-s his way through the conversation without actually knowing anything! You probably have met many people like this who have intimidated you because they give the impression they know so much more about wine than you do. Don't be intimidated. Wine is meant for you to enjoy!
Fast forward to retirement in Naples Florida, sitting in a well known restaurant with my wife, and two others.
A nice young man appeared, asked us if we wanted to order wines and inferred he was a "wine expert" and that we were in good hands. Unfortunately his knowledge was basic and we were served the wrong wines. Literally! He brought a white wine instead of a red wine we had ordered. Pretty basic, right? My point is this: we assume some people know a lot about wines, but many of them are just learning, and want to give a good impression. Many of them are doing what I did that night long ago in the Dorchester Hotel: reciting what they have heard or read.
If we are learning to drive we have a sign on our vehicle that says "Student Driver", so others are aware, and can give us time and space, but when we buy wine at the store or order wine in a restaurant, we do not have a sign around our neck which says "wine student".
Let's debunk and demystify wine so you find the wines you like - not what others tell you that you should like. Don't be intimidated and don't be afraid to ask questions.
Just a few days ago we were in a restaurant and Karen said, "this Sauvignon Blanc from South America tastes just like the wine we had from the Loire Valley, I'm confused". I answered, "Great job - you have a great palette! It should taste like the other wine because the Loire Valley was the birthplace of Sauvignon Blanc."
Here is my point……most of us are frightened to guess what a wine is or offer an opinion because we are afraid of the big bad wine snob.
Most of us are whim buyers, just looking a for a good wine that will go with the next meal at a fair price. Am I right?
In the Larvin household, our "go-to" summer wines right now are as follows:
Picket Fence from Russian River Valley, Sonoma County 2013 http://www.picketfencevineyards.com handcrafted in small lots picked during the night. It is lightly oaked, and Karen says the wine is dry with evidence of oak mineral. It is light and crisp with a touch of banana. Goes well with fish and cream cheese or can be drunk alone. Tastes like a $20.00 wine. Costs under $12 in most stores. Point of interest: a Margherita Pizza will go great with this as both tomatoes and cheese paired well. It is a wine in which you can have confidence to serve guests with a simple pizza or pasta - or have fun drinking on your own!
Mer Soliel Silver from the San Lucia Highlands in Monterey County, CA http://www.mersoleilvineyard.com is an un-oaked Chardonnay that matures in cement lined tanks. Dry, crisp and food friendly. We have had 2011, 2012 and 2013 and been very happy with them. About $20 a bottle. This wine is made by the Wagner family, famed for the heavily oaked Mer Soliel, and Caymus Specal Selection.
Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay from the Columbia Valley of Washington State https://www.ste-michelle.com is an oaked wine and produced in a huge winery. Chateau St. Michelle makes many varietals, so you might want to try their reds also. The Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay is a bit stronger than Mer Soliel Silver, depending upon the vintage. We have been enjoying the 2013. We find it to be a nice, well-rounded, buttery wine that goes great with white meats and shell fish. The best news: $12 or less in most retail outlets. Just in case you read or hear that it is "sur -lie", it means the wine is unfiltered.
So now you have a couple pieces of info, one grape varietal (Chardonnay), and three wineries, I hope this short article provokes questions from some of you. I would like to invite the readers of this blog to ask questions rather than me picking a subject. So if you have a question on wine just let us know, we will give an honest answer privately and if you agree, publish it for others to know.
To check prices at present I am using wineaccess.com It's a good site for information on good wines. All three wineries have very informative web sites.
Happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there!
Because we love to travel, we have the opportunity to drink some great wines. Fortunately (for me) because I am married to a Master Sommelier, we can also search for and find great wines at home.
Friends and family sometimes tell me they feel intimidated to taste or choose a wine if Barrie is around. That fear should be put to rest, as he has no sense of "elitism" (or as we like to call it "wine snobbery") when it comes to drinking wine. I ask questions all the time. I don't think I will ever really "know" about wines, but it sure is fun to try! He often tells people, if YOU like it, then it is a good wine"!
To compliment our "Doorways to Adventure" blog, Barrie's contribution will be his knowledge and expertise on wine: a window into the wine world. This part of the Blog will be designed for people to learn and ask questions about wine, beer & spirits.
Following is Barrie's professional bio for those of you who don't know him yet. His first blog is being worked on now and we hope you enjoy it. Relax, have fun & learn.
Barrie Larvin — Master Sommelier
Barrie Larvin ranks as one of the world’s most celebrated and accomplished wine professionals worldwide to have earned the prestigious title of “Master Sommelier”. He was the fourth person in the world to earn this distinction in 1970 at the age of 23. As President of Wine Design and as a Master Sommelier, Barrie utilizes his deep and well-honed wine evaluation and acquisition skills, marketing experience and educational talents to assure that his clients have unparalleled access to a unique wine experience, whether helping them source wines or create personal wine cellars.
Barrie’s lifelong passion for wine and work in the industry has led him to be featured inThe Wine Spectator, Food and Wine Magazine, and Bon Appetit. He has graced the covers of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Sacramento Bee.
In 1996, Barrie joined the Executive Team at the RIO Hotel, Las Vegas where he played a key role in creating the celebrated Wine Cellar, regarded as “The World’s Best & Most Famous Wine Cellar” that was awarded numerous distinctions, including the World’s Largest Private Cellar, the Five Star and Five Diamond Awards.
Barrie is now happily retired and enjoying life.
If there is a subject or particular wine that is of interest to you, let him know - it could be the subject of his next blog so ask away.
What is a Master Sommelier?