Category Archives: Wine – Great Values

The Tasting Room Presents Justin Vajgert Of Reininger Winery

Wine Guy Mike

Wine Guy Mike

Live Stream The Tasting Room Click Here on KFGM 105.5 FM from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm MDT

This week The Tasting Room presents Justin Vajgert of Reininger Winery in the Walla Walla Valley AVA.  Today’s guest is  Justin Vajgert, National Brand Sales Manager for the Reininger Winery and Helix wines. Today’s Podcast Click Here 

Justin Vajgert of Reininger Winery and Helix Wines

Justin Vajgert of Reininger Winery and Helix Wines

Justin and I are talking about the Walla Walla Valley area in Washington State and its wine. Walla Walla officially became an American Viticulture Area in 1984 but it was settled by Italian immigrants in the 1850’s who realized its potential to grow grapes. Chuck Reininger is the owner and head winemaker at Reininger Winery but first I want to give you a little background on today’s guest.

Chuck Reininger Head Winemaker of Reininger Winery

Chuck Reininger Head Winemaker of Reininger Winery

Justin’s background is a similar journey of many guests I have the pleasure of talking with on The Tasting Room. Justin grew up just outside of Chicago and relocated to the Walla Walla area in 2005 to attend the Institute for Viticulture and Enology. He worked the grape harvest in 2005 with Waterbrook Winery in Walla Walla. It was shortly thereafter that he joined forces with the Reininger Winery in November of 2005.

The Reininger Winery is located in the heart of the Walla Walla Valley. Head winemaker, Chuck Reininger, specializes in crafting elegant and finely structured red wines from hand-harvested, ultra premium grapes.

Reininger Winery tasting room in Walla Walla

Reininger Winery tasting room in Walla Walla

Glacial Lake Missoula was a prehistoric glacial lake in Western Montana that existed periodically at the end of the last ice age.  As warming periodically occurred Lake Missoula would flood carrying its alluvial soil matter to Washington State, and to the Walla Walla American Viticulture Area.

The Walla Walla area soils are composed of alluvial soil material and layers of volcanic ash from eruptions throughout history. These layers of soil and rock have created ideal soil conditions to grow grapes in.  The days are warm to hot and the night air is cool, perfect for growing world-class grapes that make fabulous wines.

Justin worked at Reininger Winery all through school doing everything from cellar work, to pouring wine in the tasting room, to painting bathrooms, when you work at a winery everyone does what needs to be done.

It was during Justin’s tenure that his roles evolved and he moved into a sales role beginning with local sales and then after the school moved into his current national sales position.  He’s been doing that ever since.  Distribution for the Reininger and Helix brands has grown to 17 states.  Justin eventually would like to make wine though, it’s his passion.

Let’s sit back and listen to my conversation with Justin Vajgert from the Reininger and Helix wine labels and learn a little more about these gems from Walla Walla.

Tasting Notes

The 2011 Reininger Merlot grapes are from the Pepper Bridge and Seven Hills Vineyards and are 100% Merlot. This wine has been barrel aged in 53% French, 47% American, and 5% new oak for 2 years.

2011 Reininger Merlot Walla Walla Valley

2011 Reininger Merlot Walla Walla Valley

This is a big, powerful, and robust Merlot, with very ripe fruit balanced by sweet oak spice from the French and American oak.  The fruit aromatics and flavors are of dark cherry, ripe plum, spicy tobacco, caramel and toasty oak. A touch of acidity lifts the fruit forward toward the end for a long, bright finish.

The Helix 2013 Pomotia is a blend of grapes from the Pepper Bridge, Phinny Hill, Seven Hills, Stillwater Creek, Stone Tree, Weinbau and XL vineyards. The blend is 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 18% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and has been barrel aged for 2 years. The nose is lovely and rich, sweet yet spicy, black currant, plum, cardamom, and violets an aroma that is downright captivating.

2013 Helix Pomatia Columbia Valley

2013 Helix Pomatia Columbia Valley

Its velvety texture bathes the palate with luscious black cherry and succulent dried dark fruit that’s stimulated by a soft yet vibrant acidity. On the finish, a gentle wave of focused fruit is a bobbing streak of perfumed wood spice impregnated with specs of loam. This wine is delicious!

The 2011 Helix Syrah is 100% Syrah; grapes are from the Phinny Hill, Stone Tree & Clifton Hill Vineyards, and is 100% Merlot. On the nose black currant, red berries, cherry, and a delicate sweetness.

2011 Helix Syrah Columbia Valley

2011 Helix Syrah Columbia Valley

The palate does not disappoint, rich and round with flavors of blue fruits and wonderful savory quality with a finish of tea and wet slate, this is a good thing. This wine has been barrel aged in 100% French Oak for 2 years.

I hope you enjoyed today’s wine program The Tasting Room. Please join me again next Sunday for a live interview with Boo Walker, Head of Global Sales and Marketing, and Author from Hedges Family Estate. Until then I will see you on the radio.

From my table to yours,

Zonin1821 Dress Code Collection Prosecco

Any time of year is great to enjoy Prosecco but during the heat of summer, it is especially satisfying. I recently had the pleasure of pairing wines with a seven-course dinner for ten. Zonin1821 new Dress Code Collection of Prosecco wines was my choice to get the party started!

Zonin1821 Dress Code Collection

Zonin1821 Dress Code Collection

It was an early summer afternoon and Zonin1821’s Dress Code Collection seemed to be the perfect choice for what turned out to be a special evening of wine and food. Serving wine to guests at gatherings it’s important to consider the nature of the event such as; Formality, season, occasion, and food courses being served.

The evening opened with guests mingling on the porch of a beautiful University area home at which time I popped the first bottle of Dress Code bubbly. Clearly, no one does sexy like the Italians and this new collection of wines does not disappoint. The three bottles of wine from this collection may be the most attractive that I have seen. Gorgeous is what comes to mind and from an aesthetics standpoint, I was pleased to share these with the dinner guests.

The real litmus test though is the taste test and with bubbly poured and glasses in hand all my attention was focused on the eyes and body language of the people now tasting the Zonin1821 Dress Code Edition wines.

Prosecco is produced in the Veneto region of Italy at the foothills of the Italian Alps in northern Italy. Traditionally Zonin1821 produces Prosecco made from 100% Glera the grape varietal of Prosecco.

Wine today is not just Old World or New World but the style of winemaking must also be considered. Is the wine stylistically classic or has it been non-traditionally crafted?

With regard to their new collection of Prosecco wines, Zonin has reached deep down and produced a collection of wine that is very different for their brand. Their new Dress Code Collection of wines still adhere to the rules and laws that allow Prosecco to be blended with up to 15% of other grape varietals. The varietals used for blending are approved in this case by the DOC of the Prosecco wine region.

Zonin1821 typically is as traditional as it gets just as the name indicates this seven generation family owned and winemaking tradition has been producing Prosecco since 1821. The only tradition associated with the Dress Code Collection of wines is quality and distinction.

Continuing to produce traditional Prosecco was not what Zonin1821 had in mind for this Dress Code Collection of White, Grey, and Black. The winemaker obviously was intent on producing a Prosecco that those new to this delightful bubbly would immediately enjoy and those already smitten with Prosecco would stretch their palates also enjoying their favorite wine with a new twist.

Zonin knocked this new collection out of the park, not just on quality and taste but this flight of Prosecco parallels an evening of perfect entertaining. What do I mean by “parallel to an evening of perfect entertaining”?

Prosecco wines are typically simple and refreshing which is exactly why I like to serve them in summer. There is nothing more off-putting than trying to wrap your mind and palate around a heavy and overly complex wine when its 100°F on the deck.

This flight of three Prosecco’s from Zonin starts with their White Edition. The alluring look, feel, and color of these bottles speaks to your wine soul. Intuitively you know exactly which bottle to start, continue, and finish with.

Zonin1821 White Edition  

Zonin1821 White Edition

Zonin1821 White Edition

This first in the flight of three wines is comprised of 91% Glera & 9% Pinot Bianco grape varietals. For me, the Pinot Bianco just cleans this wine up making it invitingly enjoyable and crisp. This is a perfect way to start the evening, and the guests loved this crisp invigorating wine. This White Edition wine grabs your attention letting you know it is a serious contender, no flab here.

This wine exudes subtle notes of floral and fruit but that 9% of Pinot Bianco keeps it in check and sets it apart from another pedestrian Prosecco. This wine will get the party started, the right way.

Zonin1821 Grey Edition

Zonin1821 Grey Edition

Zonin1821 Grey Edition

Somehow you just know this wine is the second in the of flight of three that you are supposed to be tasting, something psychological with the color scheme of bottles from the Zonin1821Dress Code Collection.

This wine is a non-traditional Prosecco blend of 87% Glera & 13% Pinot Grigio. The wine harmoniously eases you into your evening but still manages to keep your full attention, crisp yet so effortlessly smooth.

The Grey Edition Prosecco is not like a wine that has been over manipulated through a malolactic fermentation but is an exemplary reflection of experienced winemaking guiding two grape varietals to a perfect marriage in the bottle.

The Grey Edition offers refreshing elements of green apple and a subtle spice nuance of Ginger, the result is a wine that commands your attention, transcendentally transitioning everyone’s palates in an ever so soothing and smooth manner. Delicious!

Zonin1821 Black Edition

Zonin1821 Black Edition

Zonin1821 Black Edition

The third wine in the flight, the Black Edition, is dressed in scintillating black attire and after imbibing in the White and Grey Dress Code Edition Prosecco’s you are left with an insatiable desire to taste this last charmer from Zonin and believe me it does not disappoint.

The Black Edition Prosecco is a blend of 90% Glera & 10% Pinot Noir, perfectly suited for the progression of the evening. This sparkling Prosecco holds your hand and delivers a depth of character and simple sophistication with every sip. An aroma that delights and a mouthfeel of silky velvet on the palate the Black Edition delivers elegant fruit, floral, and subtle element of comforting spice. This wine was the perfect accompaniment with the amuse-bouche course of dinner.

No matter what you are serving with this flight of Italian wine, Zonin1821Dress Code Collection is a real crowd pleaser. Quality is high and these three wines are very affordable offering true value for any wine lover.

From my table to yours,



Riedel Wine Glasses meet TRIbella Wine Aerator

Do Wine Glasses Make a Difference?

Selecting the right wine glass stemware will have a significant impact on your wine tasting experience.  This is the most frequently asked question I encounter while conducting wine tastings; Do wine glasses make a difference? The unequivocal answer is yes! Let me share with you some of the reasons why choosing the proper stemware to taste wine with will make your wine experience better.

First, let’s take a look at the elements of wine that are important to know about before we even take a sip. Whether you are a wine expert, wine aficionado, or a casual wine drinker there are two things any of these wine lovers attempt to discern and discuss; aroma and flavor.

Riedel Wine Glasses

Riedel Wine Glasses

Each grape varietal has its own unique relationship with fruit, acidity, alcohol, and tannin in a wine. Stemware made for each particular grape is designed to deliver wine to the mouth in a very deliberate fashion.

Shape Matters

A wine glass has three parts; the bowl, the stem, and the base. The height of the stem and the width of the base are the architecture of the glass. The bowl of grape-specific stemware will vary in size, shape, and diameter, the design of the rim will also vary.

The glass is designed to deliver the “message” of the wine to the 4 sensations humans are able to recognize.

  1. Aroma – how the wine smells
  2. Mouthfeel – the feeling of weight and texture of the wine
  3. Flavor – interaction of fruit, acid, bitterness, or minerality
  4. Aftertaste – this is the flavor that lingers after we taste the wine
Riedel wine Glass Tasting

Riedel Wine Glass Tasting

Stemware Design

The architectural design of glassware must be balanced in size, height, and width. The bowl of the glass must be proportional to the height of the stem and width of the base. This ratio ensures that the glass is harmoniously proportional, adhering to an architectural design from the Golden Age of Architecture. This design is based on a mathematical formula known as the Fibonacci sequence, in nature, it is referred to as the Golden Ratio.

Glasses adhering to these design standards are functional and also visually very pleasing to the eye.

How Does It Work?

The tip of the tongue recognizes sweetness, the middle saltiness, the sides of the tongue and cheek areas of the mouth sour, and the back of the tongue bitterness.

Varietal or grape specific stemware works like this; the perfectly designed glass allows the wine to meld harmoniously in a very specific way within the glass. This is why the bowl of each glass is shaped so differently, facilitating aroma, flavor, and sensations that are known to be correct according to the wines natural profile.

The shape of each wine glass bowl also allows a person to examine and determine color, structure and the density of individual wines.

Riedel Wine Glasses meet TRIbella Wine Aerator

Riedel Wine Glasses meet TRIbella Wine Aerator

Enter here to win your TRIbella aerator  Contest winners will be selected by TRIbella and WineGuyMike on July 5th 2016.

Varietal specific wine glasses feature two types of openings or rims of the glass, cut or rolled. The cut rim allows the wine to flow to the tongue, but the way it flows and hits the tongue is predicated by the shape of the bowl. When you lay a varietal specific glass with wine in it on its side you will see a shaped pattern in the wine.

This pattern is exactly the way the wine enters the mouth and hits your tongue.

A rolled rim is designed to inhibit the smooth flow of wine to the mouth, delivering the wine exactly as the winemaker intended. Again the manner in which the wine is delivered to the mouth is predetermined by the shape of the bowl and the style of the rim.

Think of the wine glass as a trajectory system that delivers aroma to the nose and flavor to the mouth exactly as it should for each and every grape type.

When I teach wine and stemware classes the real litmus test is having an individual taste wine first from an incorrect glass, and then pouring the remainder of the wine into a correct glass. Even the most experienced wine drinker is shocked at the dramatic difference in flavors and aromas between the right and wrong glass.

What to Drink from Now?

To summarize; It is true a wine cannot truly be analyzed from a non-specific glass. It doesn’t look, smell or taste like it was intended by the winemaker.

I have two suggestions, Riedel is the brand that I use and recommend. They make a purpose designed generic red and white wine glass. The other best option is to purchase varietal specific glasses for a few of the red and white wines you drink and serve most frequently.

Riedel Wine Glass Company

Riedel Wine Glass Company

Most of us think of wines that we drink as weekday, weekend, or special occasion. I recommend using the correct wine glasses for even weekday wines, it helps the wine to be the very best it can be.

For more information and help to select the right glasses email me at

Stop by the store and check out the products that Mike uses and recommends. 

From my table to yours,

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Wine Pairings for Easter Dinner

Sunday is Easter and it is time to select wine pairings for Easter dinner. I have five wines that I would like to recommend to you. This Easter I wanted to mix it up a little and recommend a few non-typical wine selections.

Spring is a time of renewal, new vintages of wines are being released by vintners, and this is an opportunity to enjoy new wine selections that will enhance your dinner. This flight of wines are selections that I have recently served to guests at wine tasting events.

All of these special wines are available for $14.00 – $28.00. These wine selections are great with food, are of good structure and balance, and most importantly are very nice quality and delicious to drink.

White Wine

The first selection, Bruna Maje Pigato, is from Liguria, Italy and is made from the grape Pigato. This is a very fresh interesting wine and the grape is unique to the area in which it was grown. When this grape reaches maturity it appears to be freckled, hence the name Pigato. This wine will be great for vegetarian prepared meals and seafood dishes.

Bruna Maje Pigato

The second wine is made in Walla Walla, Washington using the finest fruit from the Columbia Valley in Washington State. What makes this Riesling wine so interesting is the wine project itself. This winery was founded by in 2003 by Allen Shoup, former CEO of Chateau Ste. Michelle and its affiliated wineries. Shoup has taken the very best fruit from The Columbia Valley and the best varietal winemakers from around the world and the result are world class wines. In this case, Armin Diel who is recognized as the best winemaker of Riesling wine from the Mosel wine region of Germany. Diel has crafted this special slightly off-dry Riesling named Poet’s Leap. This wine will pair with an Easter Ham Dinner perfectly. This is a pairing you won’t soon forget!

Poet's Leap Riesling

Red Wine

The first red wine I am recommending is a Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley from Oregon. This Pinot Noir wine is different from most, slightly lighter in body and features a little more tannin than you would expect from Pinot Noir. It is these differences that make it a perfect wine for Easter Dinner.

Mouton Noir Lieu-Dit Pinot Noir

The next wine is from the Loire Valley of France. This grape is one that you typically find as a blending grape in Bordeaux but is known as Chinon wine in the Loire Valley. This is an outstanding, inexpensive selection for Easter Dinner that will pair perfectly with beef, seafood, or ham.

Clos des Châtains

This last red wine is not one I would typically recommend but this wine is one of the finest varietal examples of it’s kind that it is a must try wine. This wine is Cougar Crest Estate Grown Syrah. Cougar Crest is producing some of the best wine I have recently tasted from the Walla Walla Valley of Washinton. This Syrah will be the perfect pairing for any beef or wild game dish for your Easter Dinner. Don’t miss this wine, it is stunning.

Cougar Crest Syrah

Happy Easter to all of you!

From my table to yours,

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A Summer Wine all Dressed in Pink

Enjoying Rosé on the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Montana

Enjoying Rosé on the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Montana

Many American wine lovers are perplexed by Rosé wines due to an unfortunate misconception that all “Pink Wine” is sweet, poorly made, and should not be drunk.  I say simply not true!  Perhaps this article will alleviate concerns about what is actually the perfect summer wine and provide a refreshing, new wine experience.

The first area to produce Rosé wine was Provence, located in the southwestern grape growing region of France.  The Romans were the first to control this area of the world. It was during the later Middle-Ages that Monks re-established the vineyards that were originally common to the area.  The Monks produced Rosé wine for sacramental purposes and to financially support their various monastic orders.

During the early 1970s in California there was a glut of red grapes and a significant shortage of white wine grapes, so winemakers incorporated a winemaking technique known as Saigneé.  Translated, this means the bleeding of grape juice from the wine vats.  Consider for just a moment that gravy is made by separating fat from the juices in the roasting pan.  This also occurs in wine vats as heavy grape must that is on top separates from the grape juice, which is much lighter, in the bottom of the vat.

By using the Saigneé method, winemakers from this era would make white wine by using red grapes.  This winemaking method allowed the juice and the must to remain together for a short period of time and then a winemaker could “bleed” off what then becomes Rosé wine.

Traditional winemaking techniques where grape skins are left with the fruit for just a few days are also used to make Rosé wine.  This technique produces a beautiful, delicate pink color with very little tannin like that found in red wine.

The third method that is generally not acceptable in most regions of the world is to add red wine back into white wine until the desirable coloration is achieved.

The American term, “Blush” wine, dates back to the mid-70s and references a pale-pink wine.  It’s now reserved for a sweet pink wine with a residual sugar of 2.5%.  In America, most dry pink wines are marketed and sold as Rosé. Europe, on the other hand, refers to all pink wine as Rosé regardless of residual sugar levels, and it includes imports from America that are semi-sweet.

An important fact to understand is that Rosé is a wine style, not a varietal or type of wine.  There are up to 11 types of Rosé wine styles currently being produced around the world.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Zinfandel, and Mourvèdre are just a few of the 11 types of grapes that Rosé is currently produced from.

Rosé wine may be viewed as seasonal – a refreshing wine emblematic of springtime’s revitalization or on a long summer’s day.  Bill Blanchard, national sales manager for Adelsheim Vineyards in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, pointed out to me that he likes to hold back a case of good Rosé each vintage.  Blanchard feels that quality Rosé can last up to two years, and he enjoys sharing it with family and friends at Christmas dinner.

Wines made in a Rosé style are perhaps some of the most versatile food wines, pairing well with a wide array of foods such as Morbier and Mozzarela cheese.  Seafood, light pasta dishes, summer salads, soups, grilled or roasted meats, and poultry can also be a very tasty pairing.

Rosé on the rocks, on the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Montana

Rosé on the rocks, on the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Montana

What I love most about Rosé style wine is that it delivers the cool refreshment of white wine and humors one with subtle nuances of red wine.

Great Rosé presents a delicate sense of style, showing true restraint by the winemaker. Faint of color, aroma, and taste, as graceful on the palate as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing in the rain.

Summer favorites such as freshly picked strawberries, red raspberries, and a lingering finish of a savory nature are all mellow elements you can expect of a well-made Rosé.  At all times, Rose’ exhibits an exquisite balance of fruit, alcohol, and acidity.

Rosé style wines offer the perfect gateway while introducing red wine to lovers of white wine, and white wine to lovers of red wine.  Could there possibly be a better wine facilitator than the lovely Rosé?

Relaxing with Rosé wine on the river front in Missoula

Relaxing with Rosé wine on the river front in Missoula

“Be adventurous life is too short to not enjoy some great Pink Wine,” WineGuyMike.

Here are two great wine recommendations from WineGuyMike:

Adelsheim and Mulderbosch Rosé, two summertime favorites

Adelsheim and Mulderbosch Rosé, two summertime favorites

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé:

Color – deep pink Rosé

Aroma – blood-orange, cherry-drops, black currant cordial, fragrant sandalwood

Palate – cherry, watermelon, lively acidity

Adelsheim Rosé Willamette Valley:

Color – gorgeous medium pink Rosé

Aroma – fresh strawberries, raspberries, peach, watermelon, subtle baking spices

Palate – rich, lush mouth-feel, nice acidity

From my table to yours,

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Discovering The New Wine Frontier Of South Africa

South Africa

This new frontier of viticulture is not so new at all, for the last 350 years European settlers explored and put down roots quite literally.  In this case rootstock from the Vitis Vinifera species which is native to the Mediterranean region of Europe.

South African topography and geology is a direct result of cataclysmic continental activity. It’s a rare opportunity when you can actually see what the French call terroir, or sense of place.  But in this new frontier of wine country you can look at the topography and understand how it lends itself to “sense of place.”

There are three distinct types of vineyard terroir in South Africa, the Western Cape area that receives ample natural moisture while the mountains loom close to the sea.  The mountains rose up from the earth due to molten lava beneath the earth.  This Western Coastal region enjoys a Mediterranean like climate with constant wind.  Erosion from the wind and weather left sandstone on top of granite like rock from the eroding mountain sides, leaving idyllic conditions to grow grapes.  The constant winds blowing through the vineyards in this area are known as the “Cape Doctor.”  This ever present winds help vineyards to remain disease free by not allowing disease carrying insects to take up residence on the grapevine leaves.

This area which is rich in soil benefits from the Mediterranean climate.  In fact it produces perhaps the largest number of grape varietals in South Africa.

On the leeward side of the mountains rainfall is generally about half of what is normal on the coastal side.  This is still enough moisture to naturally irrigate the vineyards that line the mountain foothills.  Soils of the foothills are laden with decomposed granite and shale which lends itself to great drainage for grapes to grow.  Grape farmers pay great attention to elevation and direction of the foothill slopes.  These are important factors that determine what type of grape varieties are able to be grown and the characteristics that the fruit will produce.

The shape of the mountain faces and flat topped bluffs that look like what are referred to in Eastern Montana as “buffalo jumps” may be more interesting than any other grape growing region.  The actual shape of these mountains and bluffs serve as great mediators of climate, funneling in coastal moisture late in the day.  Heat from the foothills is greeted by cool afternoon wind currents that circulates through the vineyards, slowing the ripening of the grapes.  This allows what is referred to as proper seasonal “hang time” on the vines.

The vast inland valley areas are rich and fertile, perfect for growing grapes.  The vines are irrigated with water from the rivers that run through these inland river areas.  The soil is rich with alluvial soil matter that sits atop clay in these South African valley’s.  The result are grapes that tend to be more viscous than that of their counterparts from the coastal region and inland foothills located on the dryer side of the mountains.

South Africa is a new frontier for growing grapes with the constant discovery of new growing areas.   Winemaking is steeped in European tradition and the wines are fun, refreshing, and offer the wine lover terrific consumer value.


The vineyards of South Africa are influenced by the constant confluence of ancient geology, coastal breezes, foothill slopes, and mountains.  The Western Cape is one of the greatest areas of floral biodiversity, in fact it is recognized as the smallest yet richest of the top 6 floral kingdoms of the world.  Translation; this area brings diverse benefits for the many varietals of wine produced in South Africa.

There are currently 25 different wine growing regions in South Africa, each one featuring various viticulture attributes.  Most of the regions are influenced by two of the world’s mighty oceans, the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean.  Mild Mediterranean weather, cool sea breezes, coastal fog, unique topography, and a variety of soil composition all come together to produce individual wines of character and complexity.


Winemaking in South Africa is nothing new, it actually dates back 350 years and has been driven by many different European occupancies and cultural influences.  For the wine drinker this is a huge benefit, you can expect Old World wine-making technique and New World focus of fruit, viticulture, and terroir or sense of place.


Shale and schist were deposited long ago in a marine basin at an elevation of 60 -700ft.  Due to tectonic upheaval this soil matter eroded into what is now foothills.  Plutons are intrusions of magma deep within the earth that rose up and cooled slowly resulting in the formation of Granite dome shaped mountains.  Some of the flat topped domes are located in the Paarl and Darling Hills, and Perdeberg Mountains (600-1,300ft.).  Erosion has covered many of these domes with sandstone like the Table and Simonsberg Mountan regions (3,300-4,300ft.).  The foothills of these domed hill and mountain ranges are rolling substrata’s composed of shale deposits.  These geological features make up what are the 3 most important geologic impacts of growing grapes; location, incline, and altitude.

In this southern hemisphere temperamental varietals such as Sauvignon blanc and Pinot Noir are grown on the cooler southern and eastern slopes.  Altitude and location impact the amount of the sun exposure, wind currents, temperature effect on grape vines.  The northern and western slopes are warmer due to the more direct effects from the sun’s rays.  The Eastern slopes warm faster and the Western slopes cool faster.


The soils of the Western Cape are diverse but today the coastal zone is mainly sandstone mountain with underlying granite, and at the base is shale.  Shale is predominantly found inland mixed with river deposits.

Sandstone is synonymous with poor nutrient value and low water retention while the granite is common on the foothill slopes and hills.  The granite rich areas are reddish to yellow in color, maintain good water retention and the soil is acidic in nature.  The shale based soil is brownish in color, has very good structure and water retention qualities.  Duplex soil is common in the lowlands of the coastal region, these soils are composed of sand and a coarse granitic material with clay under the surface.


Viticulture today in South Africa takes place between 27°S and 34°S latitude, as it has for the last 350 years.  This fairly narrow band of latitude exemplifies a Mediterranean like climate while the coastal areas weather is moderated by the ocean and its cool ocean breezes.  The climate is temperate, warm summers, cool winters with no frost.

Viticulture climate terminology is referenced with three different terms; Macroclimate, Mesoclimate, and Microclimate.  Macroclimate refers to the overall climate of a region, Mesoclimate identifies climatic differences from vineyard to vineyard, and these climatic variances are due to various components of terroir.  Microclimates reference climate variance potentially within the same block of land within a vineyard, this can be caused by circumstances of vine and canopy management.

The Wines

Mulderbosch Vineyards, as seen on ABC TV , is one of South Africa’s wine producers that have captured the very best of Old World technique and New World viticulture.  Click on this link to view the tasting notes of a flight of eight wines presented at a recent WineGuyMike wine show.  Great wines offering great consumer value; Wines of South Africa

WineGuyMike’s Triple Treat Italian Wines

Caution!  These three recommended wines offer extreme value. So if you don’t like great wines at great prices, please don’t read this blog post!

All kidding aside, I hope you’re enjoying a beautiful fall like my wine friends and I are here in the Rocky Mountains of Montana.  All three of my triple treat Italian wine recommendations are wines that will warm your heart and are excellent wines to pair with food.  I have included my suggestions for best food pairings, but you might have better ideas. if you do please share with me on Twitter or Facebook.

Remember wine is always better when you share it with friends or family.  Always drink in good health and moderation.

From my table to yours,

Chianti DOCG Querceto 2010

  • Querceto_ChiantiStyle – Old World
  • Region or Area – Tuscany, Colline del Valdarno
  • Grapes – Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Trebbiano
  • Designation – Chianti DOCG
  • Vintage – 2010
  • Color – Bright ruby red
  • Nose – Red raspberry, cherry, fruit
  • Palate – Red raspberry, cherry, refined tannin, balanced fruit
  • Finish – very smooth refined Chianti, lingering dry cherry and berry
  • Process – Macerated with skins for 7 days
  • Pair with pasta dishes and white meats

Luisa Cabernet Franc 2011

  • Luisa_Cabernet_FrancStyle – Old World
  • Region or Area – Friuli-Venezia Giulia
  • Grapes – 100% Cabernet Franc
  • Designation – Isonzo DOC
  • Vintage – 2011
  • Color – Ruby red
  • Nose – Ripe fruit, grassiness
  • Palate – Lush, full mouthfeel, with a grassy flavor and nice iron minerality
  • Finish – Smooth long lasting fruit, dry
  • Process – Fermented in stainless steel tanks & barrel aged 8 months on the lee’s, 3 months in the bottle
  • Pair with spicy courses, grilled beef, beef stews, boiled beef dishes; excellent with venison

Pecchenino Dogliani San Luigi DOCG 2011

  • Pecchenino_Dogliani_San_Luigi_DOCG_2011Style – Old World
  • Region or Area – Piedmont
  • Grapes – 100% Dolcetto
  • Designation – DOCG SAN LUIGI
  • Vintage – 2011
  • Color – Deep Ruby
  • Nose – Rich red fruit
  • Palate – Lush raspberry, boysenberry, plum, dried herbs, charcoal, and tobacco
  • Finish – long, lush, very balanced finish
  • Pair with grilled beef, burgers, pasta with red sauce, pizza