Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana TV – Old Vine Zinfandel

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 10/25/2013.

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana TV learn about Old Vine Zinfandel from Lodi and Dry Creek Valley AVA’s©.

The season of the year and temperature have a great deal of influence on our palates.  Just as we eat lighter fare in summer months we gravitate to comfort food dishes in fall and winter months, consumer wine choices are very similar.  Seasonal weather and temperature dictate wine choices; white wine or lighter bodied red wines when it’s warm while medium to full bodied red wines are the “go to” choice in cooler months.

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ I’m sharing one of those comfort wines in this transitional season of fall.  Zinfandel is full bodied, fruit forward, and a spicy red wine that is one of California’s favorites, it is also one of their most plentiful varietals.  Berries, cherries, tobacco, oak, and vanilla, this wine has much to offer.  Zinfandel is a diverse grape that is also used to produce the infamous White Zinfandel and is also used as a blending grape in other red wine blends.

In this article I’m focusing on two viticulture areas renowned for old growth or in this case Old Vine Zinfandel.  Old growth or old vines are any grapevines that exceed 50 years of age.  Old vines produce fewer grapes with smaller berries, concentrated fruit and sugar resulting in wine with solid balance and structure.  The Lodi and Dry Creek areas feature vines that are 120 -140 years old, in fact the Dry Creek AVA of Sonoma County, California has one of the largest Old Vine Zinfandel concentrations in the world.

Lodi, California is one of the largest Zinfandel producing viticulture areas in California accounting for 40%.  This delicious grape varietal has been grown in the Lodi AVA since the late 1800’s and there are still thousands of “old vine” acreage producing wines of distinction.

There are multi-generational families dating back 100 years and new innovative growers that farm grapes in this region.  Experience and new technologies have combined and the result is world class wines that express a true sense of place.  The Lodi AVA has grown from 8 wineries in the late 1990’s to over 60 today and rests at the edge of the Sacramento River Delta on one side with the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to the east.  Warm days and cool nights are typical of this grape growing area which receives 17’’ of annual rainfall during the rainy season.  The growing season remains dry allowing for healthy cultivation free from vine diseases and pests.

Geological events and alluvial soil matter are what formed this Zinfandel friendly growing ground thousands of years ago.  The Mokelumne and Cosumnes rivers originating in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range supply granitic minerals combined with layers of volcanic rock and ash, thus producing unique and complex flavor in Lodi Zinfandel wines.

Lodi’s viticulture area has expanded to the rolling foothills to the east where the soil quality is poor which actually is good for growing grapes.  Soil in the northern portion of the Lodi AVA is rocky and in the southern region soil is comprised of heavy clay which produces concentrated and complex Zinfandel wines. There are 7 grape growing appellations in the greater Lodi viticulture area.

Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County, California is home to 70 wineries nestled in this 16-mile long and 2-mile wide valley that has a 140 year history of grape growing.  The Dry Creek AVA has one of the most populous Old Vine Zinfandel growth concentrations in the world.  The Dry Creek Valley is located just one hour north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge in Northern Sonoma County.

Known for producing world-class Zinfandel the Dry Creek Valley also produces Bordeaux and Rhone grape varietals.  Grape growers from this area are devoted to preserving the natural beauty of the valley through implementation of sustainable, organic, and biodynamic farming practices.  Most of the 70 wineries in this area are small family-owned operations with limited production premium wines.

Dry Creek Valley is located along fault lines created by uplift and alluvial soil matter as a result of ancient seismic activity.  The valley floor is a deep mixture of composites of well drained gravel and sandy loam producing rich fruit.  The benches and hillsides are composed of gravelly clay-loam that often is vibrant red in color.  This rocky soil is well drained and induces late season stress on the vines producing grapes of exceptional varietal character.

Terroir is not just soil, weather plays a great role in an areas ability to produce exceptional grapes that express extraordinary varietal character.  The Dry Creek Valley has it all, great soil and climatic conditions that are ideal for growing wine grapes.

Dry Creek is situated 70 miles north of San Francisco and 20 miles east of the Pacific Ocean.  Lake Sonoma borders the valley to the north with the confluence of Dry Creek and the Russian River to the south.  This is a Region II climatic growing area similar to that of Bordeaux with daily temperatures rising only to the mid-80’s.  The coastal mountain range protects the valley from the cool oceanic influence but at night just the opposite is true, the mountains draw the cool moist air into the valley letting the grapes rest while concentrating and balancing fruit, sugar, and acidity.  All necessary components to make great wine.

If you are a Zinfandel fan or looking to expand your wine palate both of these valued selections are tasty examples of wine from the Lodi and Dry Creek Valley AVA’s.



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From my table to yours,

Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana TV – Kingston Family Vineyards

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 10/11/2013.

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana TV learn about Kingston Family Vineyards in the Casablanca Valley of Chile. 

Courtney Kingston is the owner of Kingston Family Vineyards in the Casablanca Valley of Chile.  Kingston was a past guest on the WineGuyMike Radio Show™ and Mike had a chance to sit down with Courtney on Wine Time and find out what’s new at her family vineyards and most importantly talk about her family’s wines.

This is a story of sustainability and it was at Stanford while completing her graduate studies that she solved an age old problem; how to sustain a ranch beyond 3 generations.  Kingston’s answer, plant grapes to sell to other wine producers and use 10% of the premium harvest to produce wines under the Kingston Family Vineyards label.

Kingston’s grandfather was a mining engineer from Michigan who in 1906 relocated to Chile to work for a gold mining company.  While he never realized that dream of striking gold he married a Chilean woman and settled what 5 generations of the Kingston clan have known as the “Farm”.

The “Farm” is a large cattle ranch and dairy farm located 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean in the western hills of the Casablanca Valley in Chile.  There are three distinct climates ranging east to west and three main growing regions from north to south that make up the terroir of Chile’s grape growing areas.  The Coastal Region is a cool climate, the Central Valley is warm, and the Andes Mountains can be cool or warm depending on the location.

The major grape growing regions of Chile are the Casablanca Valley featuring (Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir), the Maipo Valley featuring (Cabernet Sauvignon), and the Rapel & Colchaqua Valley’s that feature (Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, Merlot).

Kingston’s grandfather was not the only risk taker in the family, Courtney’s strategic plan included growing not only Sauvignon Blanc which was common to this region but she planned to also grow Syrah and Pinot Noir which was not.  Kingston enlisted the help of winemaker Byron Kosuge and the rest is history.  Sauvignon Blanc was planted in the flat sections of the farm while the Syrah and Pinot Noir were planted to the higher hill sides.

Kingston Family Vineyards goal has been to produce premium wine at affordable price points offering true consumer value.  They have accomplished this goal and these wines receive the WineGuyMike Seal of Approval™.  The Tobiano Pinot Noir and Cariblanco Sauvignon Blanc are available at the Market on Front.




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From my table to yours,

This Week on Wine Time™ WineGuyMike™ – How to understand Italian Wine Labels

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 09/27/2013.



Today we are going to talk about Italian Red wine and how to better understand what’s on the label.  For many wine lovers this is one of those areas of the world that can be a bit daunting to understand, and that’s where I come in.  It’s my job to help you better understand challenging wine topics so you can enjoy the wine that we talk about here on the show.

Okay let’s get started; Italy has been producing wine for 3,000 years.  It is said that Italy is not a country, just a gigantic vineyard from North to South.  There are over 2 thousand labels of wine in Italy, that’s a lot of bottles to know about.  Did you know that since 2008 Italy reins as the largest producer of wine in the world?

We are not going to tackle all of Italy in one week.  When it comes to red Italian wine there are three main regions to concentrate on first, Tuscany, Piedmont, and the Veneto regions.

There are literally hundreds of indigenous grape varietals planted throughout Italy, many which we have not ever heard of in America.  The main grapes that a person needs to know about to get started with Italian wines from these three regions are; In Tuscany the Italians grow Sangiovese, in Piedmont they grow Nebbiolo, and in the Veneto region a grape known as Corvina is what is grown.

Many grape growers in Italy now are growing Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  Many American viticulture areas of America likewise are growing Italian varietals of grapes too.  Just to name a couple; In the Napa Valley some grape farmers are growing Barbara grapes, in Walla Walla some farmers grow Sangiovese grapes.  Grape varietals know no boundaries; the worlds grape farmers now better understand ideal geography, weather, and soil composition that grape varietals thrive in.

Let’s take a look at how the Italian wine laws dictate what ends up in your Italian bottle of wine.  Just like there are three Red wine regions to pay attention to first begin to understand Italian wines there are three Italian wine law designations one should understand as well.

Grape growers are governed by Italian law or what is known as the DOC – Denominazione di Origine Controllata and DOCG – Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita.  You will see this printed on the label of Italian wines.  There are many Italian wines that do not adhere to wine specifications within particular regions and these wines will be designated on their label as IGT – Indicazione Geografica.

IGT Label

IGT Label

DOC designations on a win bottle are much like that of French AOC wine laws, you will also see this designation on bottles of French wines.  The biggest difference between the DOC and AOC is that the Italian DOC has aging requirements.

The DOC governs:

  • Geographical limits of each region
  • Grapes varieties allowed in wines
  • The percentage of each grape used (Classico must be 80% Sangiovese) If the varietal is specified it must contain 85% of varietal
  • The amount of grapes that can be grown and harvested per acre
  • The minimum percentage of alcohol in a wine
  • Minimum aging requirements.  How much time a wine is aged in barrels or bottles
  • These wine laws became effective in 1963 in Italy

The difference between the DOC and DOCG is that the G in DOCG indicates that a wine is stylistically guaranteed to meet the standards set forth in Italian wine laws for specific regions.

DOCG Label

DOCG Label

Currently there are 35 DOCG wines in Italy, 7 from the Tuscany region and 9 from the Piedmont region.  There are over 300 DOC wines from Italy and many more wines that are designated IGT which just means they do not adhere to the standards set forth for a given region in which they are grown.  There are many great examples of all of these wines and you typically pay for the guarantee.  There are great IGT wines that do not adhere to the wine laws in the region or area in which they are grown, you just have to know what you are buying, but hey that’s why you keep me around.


Arrivederci for now wine friends, enjoy the great  valued wine selections at the Market on Front.  You will find these two terrific wine selections there, and many more.

The wines reviewed today all receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™

From my table to yours,

"from my table to yours"

Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana – Hedges Family Estate Wines

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 08/30/2013.

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana I’m talking about Hedges Family Estate Wines from the Red Mountain AVA in the Columbia Valley of Washington State.

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From my table to yours,

This WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© “The Long and Winding Road” to Waitiri Creek Winery

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 7/19/2013.

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Sleep City Missoula

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© perhaps Paul McCartney said it best on the Beatles Let It Be album; “The long and winding road, That leads to your door, Will never disappear, I’ve seen that road before, It always leads me here, Lead me to your door”.

Podcast interview with Paula Ramage below:



Paula Ramage and her husband Allistar Ward have traveled extensively and lived abroad in different places throughout the world but home for them is the Central Otago wine region on the South Island of New Zealand.  This is the southernmost grape growing region in the world, but they produce very good wine.  Paula grew up in Alexandra and the Ward family farmed for many years on Malaghan’s Road, near Arrowtown.  Last week’s blog provided an overview of New Zealand as a wine country;  This is a land that is breathtakingly beautiful and produces some of the finest single varietal wines available.

Paula Ramage has had at least 5 careers that she can recall but in spending time with her on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© this week I’ll forevermore think of her as Ambassador of New Zealand and the New Zealand wine industry.  Needless to say she is a terrific spokesperson and extremely knowledgeable about her country and the wine industry in New Zealand and throughout the world.  Paula handles all of Waitiri Creek’s administrative business and development of offshore markets, a natural for a “reformed barrister”.  She has a lovely Kiwi accent that you cannot help loving too.

Allistar Ward is a merchant banking consultant full time, although he makes time to focus on vineyard development and as Paula puts it, “he juggles all the balls and keep them in the air”.

Viticulture Crew, Mark and Jason

Viticulture Crew, Mark and Jason

Jason Thomson is their very accomplished viticulturist along with his team Mark Naismith and Scott Culpan who run the day to day operations.  Interestingly the Waitiri Creek winemaker is a woman, Jen, from the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  As I mentioned last week many winemakers are now traveling winemakers who work in the Northern Hemisphere during its summer months and the Southern Hemisphere during their summer.  With the Willamette and Central Otago sharing similar latitudes with a focus on cool weather grape varietals it is a natural for winemakers like Jen.

Shanagolden Block in Summer

Shanagolden Block in Summer

In 1993 Paula and Allistar purchased their first vineyard the Shanagolden Block in Gibbston and planted Chardonnay in 1994.   The northerly facing block was ideal for sustainable viticulture and the lower half of this area provided a perfect location for the future wine tasting venue.

The Shanagolden Block was originally settled in 1867 by James Leslie, a Scot who had emigrated to New Zealand at the age of 17.  He and his partner, Thomas Kinross followed the Dunstan gold rush.  Kinross established the Gibbston store and Post Office and James Leslie was the butcher and baker but also continued to prospect for gold.

The vineyard has a micro-climate that produces ripe fruit earlier than most in the general area.  The soil composition is made up of glacial deposits and free draining alluvial soil matter (scheist).  This terrior is well suited to the cool weather grape varietals that Waitiri Creek produces.  This is where Jens’s Willamette Valley winemaking experience really shines.

Waitiri Creek’s portfolio of wines includes Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.  The grape vines  of Waitiri Creek are all hand pruned and hand harvested.  New Zealand is aiming for all of its vineyards to be sustainably accredited by the end of 2012.  Compliance currently stands at about 93% – Waitiri Creek has been fully sustainable for some years.  Another interesting fact about New Zealand wines, 75% of the bottles are all screw tops.  The Kiwi’s are an environmentally conscience country and I applaud them for this effort.

Chardonnay Grape Harvest

Chardonnay Grape Harvest

The first vintage of Chardonnay was produced in 1998 and full production of three different varietals in 1999.   In 1996  Paula and Allistar decided that an old church building would serve as the Waitiri Creek tasting room, they needed a structure that would be harmonious with the terroir of the Shanagolden vineyard.  So a search which led them all over the lower part of the South Island, culminating in a visit to Wangaloa, near Kaitangata in 1998.  On first sight, the former Wangaloa Presbyterian Church would have sent less hardy souls running in the opposite direction….but not Paula and Allistar.  Negotiations began with the local community and ownership of the church was secured a year later.

Cellar Door

Cellar Door

The Waitiri Creek tasting room just celebrated its 10th anniversary at its new vineyard home.   This former Presbyterian church, built in 1893 was moved to its new location at Waitiri Creek 300km in one piece on the Shanagolden Block in 2000.

I want to thank my new friend Paula Ramage for sharing this rich history of the Central Otago wine region, New Zealand, and the Waitiri Creek Winery with the WineGuyMike™ audience.  From my home in Montana to the “The Long and Winding Road” down under, Happy Holidays to my friends in New Zealand and Waitiri Creek.

Waitiri Creek Wines

One of the keys to increased demand for Waitiri Creek wines is consistant quality.   Waitiri Creek has been recognized at domestic and international competitions every year since 1999 across their entire portfolio.  Their expansion into Bannockburn with the purchase of additional Central Otago fruit has now expanded their portfolio to include Rosé, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

Pinot Noir

Waitiri Creek Pinot Noir 2007 The nose shows rich varietal layers of cherry and plums supported by an earthy complexity. The depth of fruit on the nose continues on the palate supported by a fine tannin structure, good integration of oak and a length of flavor that lingers on the tongue.

The nose displays complex notes of stewed cherries, cedar and mushrooms. This Pinot Noir shows the elegance of the 2008 vintage with a bright garnet hue and the perfume of violets and rose petals. The fruit driven palate has flavors of wild raspberries with hints of cinnamon, red cherries and succulent plums. On the finish there is a note of thyme and mushrooms. The silky tannins are woven seamlessly into a structure balanced by savory French oak and alcohol.


Rich strawberry and raspberry aromas dominate the nose and are supported by perfumed floral notes. The palate shows good berry fruit weight with strawberry and white peach aided by creamy texture. This wine is well balanced with a long, lingering, strawberry finish.


Made in a fruit-driven New World style, this wine shows all the influences of classic Old World winemaking. The palate is rich and succulent with an appealing texture and displays outstanding primary fruit.

Handpicked grapes were whole bunch pressed and the juice cold settled for two days before being racked to barrels with light yeast. The wine was then cool fermented using both commercial and indigenous yeasts. This Chardonnay spent 10 months in 100% French oak (22% new oak) and underwent 100% malolatic fermentation with weekly lees stirring. The finished wine was then racked, lightly fined and filtered prior to bottling in late-March 2009.


This Riesling shows complex aromas of mandarin, pear, honeysuckle and orange blossom on the nose. The body has crisp citrus flavors, offset with spice and good length of finish. This wine has great cellaring potential and additional characters will develop in the bottle over time.

Riesling grapes from two different blocks were handpicked and combined. The grapes were whole bunch pressed using a bag press and then the juice was left to cold settle overnight, before being racked and inoculated with yeast.

Fermentation lasted several weeks with temperatures being maintained less than 13 degrees to retain optimum flavor. Once fermentation was complete the wine was sulphured, racked and blended. The wine was then lightly fined and cold and protein stabilized prior to sterile filtration and bottling in September 2008.

Pinot Gris

Floral and pear notes on the nose lead into a richly textured palate of nashi pear, citrus and spice flavors. The long finish is balanced by fine acidity.

First vintage fruit from Legends (Legends Vineyard, Felton Road) was hand-harvested.  One tank of the Legends juice was chilled with daily lees stirring for four days.  It was then racked taking light lees to blend with the second tank of Legends juice which was settled for one night and then racked clean to blend.  A portion of this juice went to a neutral French Oak barrel.  The blended Legends juice was warmed naturally to 14ºC and innoculated with an aromatic yeast before undergoing cool fermentation until optimal balance was achieved.

The fruit from Annika’s (Annika’s Vineyard, Wanaka Road) was hand-harvested with 50% left on skins overnight while the balance was cold settled overnight and racked with light lees.  The fruit with extended skin contact was racked cleanly.  The two Annika’s components were blended, warmed naturally to 14ºC and fermented using aromatic yeast.  A percentage of this juice was fermented in two neutral French Oak barrels.

The three barrels were stirred regularly after the peak of fermentation and then blended. The two separate tank blends were blended in August and underwent cold and protein stabilization before being lightly fined with isinglass and sterile filtered before bottling.

Sauvignon Blanc

For her 6th birthday, our niece Stella Paris Columbia B. Ramage who lives in Sydney and loves art had a wine named after her. This is a single vineyard, Gibbston fruit.



A nose of passionfruit, gooseberry and capsicum aromas lead to a lively palate displaying good balance and zesty acidity. Best served lightly chilled.

Sauvignon Blanc grapes were handpicked and then was de-stemmed and crushed prior to gentle pressing. The resulting juice was cool stainless steel fermented to retain fruit character. The wine was left on yeast lees for two months to help with mouth feel and complexity. The resulting wine was fined with milk casein prior to filtration and bottling.

"from my table to yours"

“from my table to yours”

Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana – Hand of God Wines

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 7/05/2013.

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana I’m talking about two special wines from Argentina.
The term Hand of God Moment is so profound and endearing that every Argentinean is intimately familiar with it.  This term is not used lightly in fact it is a term that is sacred for this South American culture.In 1986 during the finals of the World Cup Soccer Tournament Argentina was competing against England and the game was tied at 1-1, that was until a teammate of Diego Maradona who was at that time as revered as David Beckham is today, kicked the soccer ball to Maradona who lunged with his head and couldn’t reach the ball except with his fist.
A link to Diego Maradona’s Hand of God Moment:
Maradona thrust his fist toward the ball guiding it past the goalie and into the goal and winning the game for Argentina.  This play known as “The Hand of God Moment” is forever ingrained in the minds of the Argentineans as the thrill of victory and for England the agony of defeat.

For two Stanford alums enjoying a glass of wine or two together it became their personal Hand of God moment.  Jon Staenberg, a.k.a “El Jefe”, and Santiago Achával, a.k.a “Master of Malbec” dubbed by The Wine Spectator magazine, this was their special moment, the moment when inspiration, friendship, and passion intersected as one.  This was there Hand of God moment, it was also the beginning of Hand of God Wines in the Mendoza appellation of Argentina.

These two Stanford alums met as they studied business at Stanford University.  After school both of these men went their own ways, Santiago as an entrepreneur who enjoyed success in the cement business in Argentina and Jon who is also an interesting entrepreneur in the field of technology, spending the bulk of his career with a little company called Microsoft.

It was on a trip to visit Argentina that Jon decided to look up Santiago and have a glass of wine together.  It was this Hand of God reunion that over a glass of wine or two that the passion and love for wine resulted in a winery in Argentina which produces the Hand of God Wines.

Staenberg is the owner and proprietor and Achával is the winemaker.  This is a partnership made in heaven hence the name Hand of God Wines.  When anything happens that is special and perhaps other worldly this is when the Argentineans look to the heavens and make reference to a Hand of God moment.

Thankfully for you and I, the wine drinker, this divine intervention came to be in the form of Hand of God Wines.  Vineyard land in Mendoza is 150 times less to purchase than land in the Napa Valley of California and it is also land that is in Achával’s soul.  This is where he is from, this is what he loves and calls home, and for WineGuyMike this is also a component of terroir, a true sense of place.

South American vineyard land can be very special, just look at Chile and Argentina, very different yet both produce very good wine in the hands of a skilled winemaker such as Santiago Achával.  Location is everything and after an exhaustive search Staenberg and Achával found two perfect vineyards in which they now produce world-class wines.  A third white wine that I know will be equally as impressive is on its way very soon.



Hand of God Wines is a boutique winery that produces hand crafted wines that of exceptional quality.  When Wine Spectator magazine referred to Achával as “The Master of Malbec” they were not exaggerating.  The wines he is making at Hand of God Wines are so important to the world because it is acknowledgement of quality of land and soil composition, elevation of land, climate, prevailing wind patterns, and pristine alpine water that bless this land.  This is what Achával brings to the world as a gift in the form of a bottle of wine that exemplifies terroir of two very special vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina.

Valle de Uco, Appellation Mendoza, Argentina

The Hand of God vineyards are located a little over sixty miles from one another.  The Stolen Horse Vineyard is an old vine Malbec property with vines nearing 100 years of age.  This vineyard produces fruit with a complexity and quality that that only aged vines are able.  The fruit in this vineyard is intense, concentrated, with , layers of flavor and aroma, that which only can be produced from old vine fruit.

The 2010 vintage of Old Vine Malbec from Stolen Horse Vineyard is extremely well made featuring structure, balance, and restraint which is difficult in a wine this powerful.  This wine can be enjoyed now if decanted for an hour giving it a twirl in the decanter a couple times during that time.

2010 Old Vine Malbec

This wine like a great Bordeaux or a Beckstoffer To Kalon wine from California will be best in 5 years but is so well made can be laid down for 15-25 years.  I hope I live that long because I do want to taste this very special wine then.

Stolen Horse Vineyard Maipú

This bottle of wine is perfectly balanced in fruit, acid and tannin.  The minerality and earthen quality is terrific but for me I love what the French refer to as anime, a meat like quality that makes this wine particularly special.  This wine is so good that honestly should only be paired with quality dry aged beef or Elk, it is just that good.

The second wine that Achával has crafted for the Hand of God Wines is a red blend wine that is so uncommon to Argentina that I dare call it a rarity.  The 2010 Fingerprint Series Red Wine is a French Style Rhone blend that is ready to go now.

2010 Fingerprint Series Red Wine

This wine is fluid and elegant, honestly better than most Rhone wine available in the United States.  This blend is 55% Malbec, 35% Syrah, and 10% Petit Verdot and is beautiful on the nose and the palate.  The finish leaves you in thought, wondering just what this vineyard looks like as it is still horse plowed and fruit that is hand harvested.  This is why both of these treasures from Achával are so individual and thought provoking.  This is not common wine, this is special and it is important to share wines that in a world of so much commonality amongst wines that there are some that are so distinct that they stand alone.  This is the wine that Santiago Achával makes and I thank him for that.

Sobremesa Vineyard

This wine is so synonymous when paired with Wild Game, Wild Fowl, Grilled Chicken, and just perfect with well-marbled meats.  Well-made sauces for any of these entrees would also complement perfectly.  This wine is concentrated with fruit yet is so delicate, delicious aroma, and layer upon layer of flavor is reveled with an understated dusting of fine white pepper.  A finish that begs for more.

Hand of God Wines are not only lovely they are provoking and I have been so fortunate to taste the nectar of God, this was my Hand of God moment.  Thank you Jon Staenberg and Santiago Achával for your passion and commitment to do something very special.

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From my table to yours,



Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana – Lambrusco Day

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 7/05/2013.

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana I’m talking about Lambrusco. Why you might ask?  Because today, June 21st, is Lambrusco Day in Italy, and Lambrusco is one of the best wines to enjoy with food. Simple, fun, fizzy, refreshing, inexpensive, need I say more?
Lambrusco is one of Italy’s most popular wines. Do you remember one of television’s most famous of tag lines “Riunite on Ice, That’s Nice”? Yes that’s right your Grandma’s Lambrusco, Riunite, is still claiming to be the biggest selling Italian wine in history here in the United States.

Riunite Lambrusco was launched in the late 1960’s and what now seem like cheesy commercials ran on TV in the 70’s.  Cheesy or not that famous tag line is one of the most memorable ever, at least for those of us old enough to remember.  But the truth is this brand enjoyed one of the most well executed marketing campaigns ever.  That was yesterday, today Lambrusco has come of age and I’m here to share it with you.

There is not anything to complicated or technical that we need to know in our approach to buying, chilling, and drinking Lambrusco.  In fact Lambrusco is rather simple and ultimately the secret to a great Lambrusco is one that produces a great head of foam when you pour it, just like a great beer.  Selections will unfortunately be limited on your local shelves unless you live in an area that has a great wine shop.  If you live on the east coast you will have more choices better selections. Wherever you have a concentration of die-hard Italians like me that enjoy Lambrusco retailers will show this sparkling gem from Italy some love.

More and more you will find Lambrusco lovers who are so incredibly passionate about this frizzante wine from the Emilia-Romagna region in the heart of Italy that you just have to give it a try.

The Emilia-Romagna region is located between two of my favorite areas in Italy. Parma which is home to some of my favorite raw cow’s milk cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano, yet another wonder of the world I cannot live without.  On the other side of Emilia is probably one of the most iconic areas of Italy, Modena, and the birth place of Ferrari exotic sports cars.

Italian winemakers produce a large range of Lambrusco wines.  If you shop at a nice specialty shop and they take their wine program seriously it is somewhat safe to assume they have chosen a good selection of wines for you to purchase.  The best Lambrusco’s are going to be dry and made in a frizzante style.  There are three colors of fizzy Lambruscos: white (bianco), rose (rosato) and the classic red (rosso) ranging from sweet to bone dry.

Prosecco is another Italian favorite that is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) styles.  Proseccos are labeled “brut”, “extra dry”, or “dry”, with the brut being the driest.  Ask you wine steward of the store you shop in for the driest Lambrusco in a frizzante style that they offer for sale.

Lambrusco is made using the Charmat method rather than the Champagne method, the French method of making sparkling wine.  The Charmat method is a second fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles.  The shorter, tank fermentation is preferable for Lambrusco because it preserves the freshness and the flavor of the grapes.

Unlike Champagne, Lambrusco does not ferment in the bottle consequently the wine goes off or gets old quickly and should be drunk as young as possible, preferably within one year.

What I love about Old World European wine is that they are a function of necessity.  The wines in each area are made to work with, match, or pair with the foods that are grown and raised in the region or area.  Lambrusco is no different and in the Emilia-Romagna region their food tends to be rich, salty and that is why Lambrusco works so well with the indigenousness foods of the area.

Lambrusco wine is lively and bright with fruit, balanced out with naturally high acidity which pair perfectly with the rich salty food dishes from this area.  Lambrusco like all Old World style wines are not overdone, featuring lower percentage of alcohol which is also conducive to being a great wine to pair with food.

The really terrific thing to note about Lambrusco is that you will be hard pressed to ever find one more expensive than $20.00 and many are $8.00-$10.00.  Wow that works in this economy for my pocket-book.

Many bottles will list the Lambrusco grape variety from which it has been produced.  I’m not going to bore you with the 13-17 different Lambrusco grape varietals because there are only a handful you need to know.  Here is the short list; The most commonly found clones are the Grasparossa, Maestri, Marani, Monstericco, Salamino and Sorbara.  The rabid Lambrusco lovers, they love the Sobara version but any of these are ones that you want.  If you want to dig in a little deeper here is a link from my friends in Italy and their site which is solely devoted to Lambrusco;

Here’s what you should expect from a good Lambrusco; fresh, fruity, dry, tannic, nice acid, beautiful fruity nose, frothy, nutty, grapy, jammy, fun, and refreshing.  All this and it’s inexpensive too, really what more could you want?  This is a great wine to try that I whole heartedly recommend with all of my love and passion.  “Mikey likes it”, remember Mikey on TV?  I do if I had a penny for every time I’ve heard this in my life I’d be a wealthy man driving the Ferrari and drinking my dry frizzante Lambrusco on my way to get my fresh sliced hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano to have with my Lambrusco.

Drei Dona Reggiano Lambrusco

This Lambrusco was fantastic with my dinner, and again it was so nice that the alcohol level was restrained. The Rosenere immediately shows beautifully in the glass, deep purple color and sporting a perfect frothy head. Remember this is what a good Lambrusco should have and even as this wine sits in between sips and you give it a swirl the nice frothy head returns immediately.

The nose on this beauty is equally as pleasing with notes of grape, raspberry, strawberry, and a little cherry. On the palate this wine is so tasty with nicely balanced fruit, acid, and tannin. The Rosenere Lambrusco is like an extra-dry Prosecco which means it is semi-dry and is slightly sweet. The sweetness is appropriate and not annoying in any way.  It just feels right in your mouth, and it is.  The finish leaves you with a delightful lingering memory of refreshing fruit.

This is a very nice Lambrusco that I can recommend for you and the nice part is that it retails for $8.00 at one of my favorite wine retailers.

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From my table to yours,



Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana – Perfect Wine And Grilled Beef Pairings

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 5/24/2013. 

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana I’m sharing wines that represent their varietal character very well and truly express terroir or sense of place from the wine region or area in which they are grown and produced. 
As you will note I have recommended wine varietals or styles of wine to grill with a particular cut of beef.  These wine pairings are based upon the texture, balance, and body of the wine.  I have then considered the texture and marbling of the meat to share these perfect pairings with you.
I salute all of our fallen United States soldiers who have died in harms way fight for the freedom and safety we enjoy in America.  To all of these men and women, I thank you and I raise my glass to you and your surviving families that I think about every day.  My we all as American’s celebrate you this Memorial Day weekend.
Bust out the grill, sunshine and nice weather are finally here and those who love to grill are raring to go.  There is nothing tastier than grilled beef that is well paired with the right wine selection.

 It is very important when choosing a wine to pair with the particular cut of meat that you consider the texture and marbling of that particular cut. 

 Matching wine and food is a delicate balancing act; both have qualities of texture that need balance when pairing.  It is important to consider the texture of the food, method of preparation, and are there sauces involved?  The following recommended wines have been chosen considering the marbling and texture of each cut of meat.

 Most of us like to cook with or garnish grilled meats with steak sauce which is something to consider as well.  One component of steak sauces is vinegar and this is a form of acid.  We love to use sauces when we grill because of the acid as it brings out flavor in our food. 

 The Chuck Section: Hamburger has a higher fat content that is well suited for a nice fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Cabernet varietal is a big, powerful red wine that is full in body, rich, and very flavorful.  This wine imparts flavors of fruits, berries, currants, plums, and may also exhibit slight spicy nuances that go great with a grilled burger.

 The Rib Section: A well marbled Rib Eye steak will pair well with a bold, spicy Syrah.  Syrah is a big powerful full bodied wine, also known as Shiraz in Australia.  Supple, smooth, rich with well mannered mellow tannins best describe Syrah.  This wine can be slightly spicy, fruity like black cherries, or some may have a deep nutty flavoring, pairing well with a grilled Rib Eye.

 The Short Loin Section: Filet Mignon is a lean, delicate cut that is well suited to a nice smooth wine with elegant body.  Pinot Noir is the perfect wine to complement your Rib Eye.  When aged in oak it will have subtle sweetness reminiscent of raspberries with undertones of vegetation and chocolate.  Pinot Noir is smooth, full of flavor, and has a beautiful bouquet.  This will be a mouth watering choice to pair with Filet Mignon.

 The Sirloin Section: Boneless Sirloin is less tender but has more flavor than other cuts of meat from the loin section.  A good Malbec from Argentina is perfect for this choice.  This wine is fruit forward, medium bodied, and flamboyant.  A little spice and tannin in this wine make it an outstanding choice to pair with a nice sirloin.

 The Round Section: An Eye of Round served pepper-crusted and rare is a very lean, and slightly chewy.  This will pair well with a Red Blend from the Rhone Valley of France or Columbia Valley of Washington. The balance and structure of these wines makes them a great complement for this cut of beef.

 The Brisket Section: Brisket slow cooked on the barbeque will be buttery, smoky, and has flavor calling for wine with red fruit and fig aromas.  Sangiovese from the Napa Valley or Chianti Classico from Italy will be spicy, medium bodied exhibiting nuances of cherry and raspberry flavor with just the right amount of tannin, acid, and fruit.  These are two very nice wines to pair with Brisket.

The Flank Section: Thin Flank Steak is best slowly grilled over a low flame.  The smoky flavors from the grill and intense beef flavor compliment a Zinfandel.  This full bodied, fruit forward, and spicy wine is one that California does very well.  Berries, cherries, tobacco, oak, and vanilla, this wine has it all and will be delightful to pair with Flank Steak.

Stoke up the grill, choose your beef, open the wine and let it breath so it presents well to your guests.  With your perfect pairing they’ll think it’s a dinner fit for royalty.  Visit to learn more.

 From my table to yours,



Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 5/24/2013. 

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana I featured an exceptional flight of ” versatile” wines. View here; 

This Mother’s Day flight of wines are very good and pair well with a wide variety of dishes. If you need ideas please message me in the comment section below.
Happy Mother’s Day from WineGuyMike. These are great spring time wine selections as well.
1. Hedges Family Estate Independent Producers Merlot – Columbia Valley
2. Pecchenino Dolcetto san Luigi Dogliani - Italy – Piedmont
3. Paul Hobbs Crossbarn Pinot Noir – Sonoma Coast
4. Unique Sauvignon Blanc – French – Loire Valley
5. La Cala Vermentino – Sardinia
6. Kings Ridge Riesling – Willamette Valley

From my table to yours,



Wine Infographic from Headwater Breakaway Adventures

This infographic was provided to me by Headwater in association with Breakaway Adventures based in th United Kingdom. This group designs guided and self-guided walking and cycling tours,

Headwater shared this beautiful infographic with me that is posted below. I personally enjoy great infographics and I share this one with you. I would like to mention that this is not a paid endorsement. Please enjoy this well done infographic and it does appear that this organization puts together some fun vacations.

From my table to yours,