Wine Blogging Wednesday #72: Helping Japan–A Recap (via The Passionate Foodie)

It is time for the Recap of Wine Blogging Wednesday #72: Helping Japan.

As you will recall, on Friday, March 11, a massive earthquake, one of the largest in recorded history, struck northern Japan, triggering a devastating tsunami that has affected millions of people. Over 3,000 people have lost their lives and thousands more have remained unaccounted. The destruction has been so extensive that millions of families have been displaced in search of water, food and shelter far from damaged nuclear reactors. Obviously, this has been a terrible tragedy, pulling at every one of our heartstrings with the innate desire to help, to give something that might make their lives easier.

For this WBW theme, participants had two options, to either drink and review a Sake or drink and review wine that pairs well with Japanese cuisine. You could earn bonus points by reviewing multiple Sakés, pairing Saké with food, or drinking wine with Japanese food.

Unfortunately, we had a very low turnout for this event. So even more kudos go out to those who did participate. It is interesting too that most of the participants were from outside of the U.S., including three from Canada, one from Finland and one from Kenya. It is very pleasing to me that the participants largely seemed to enjoy the sakes they tasted.

Holly, of Wine Out Loud, is a first timer to WBW and tasted three sakes, earning bonus points.  All three were from the Hakutsuru Brewery, and included a Junmai Ginjo, an organic Junmai Ginjo and a Nigori.  She enjoyed these three sakes with some sushi and teriyaki chicken, earning even more bonus points.  I am pleased she enjoyed the sake, as well as the fact she shared them with some friends.

Todd, of Vermont Wine Press, also earned plenty of bonus points and kudos for drinking multiple sakes, paired with food, and with friends. He tasted the Nanbu Bijin “Southern Beauty” Junmai Ginjo, Tentaka Kuni “Hawk in the Heavens” Junmai, Kaguyahime ”Radiant-night Princess” Junmai and Hakushika ”White Deer” Junmai Ginjo. Their homemade dinner included brown rice miso soup, smoked salmon and avocado maki, squid and vegetable fried rice, and teriyaki chicken legs. Todd earns even more kudos though for reviewing the sakes in haiku, my favorite type of Japanese poetry.   

Bob, of 2001 Bottles – A Wine Odyssey, tasted a sake from Oregon, the Momokawa Organic Junmai Ginjo. He earns bonus points for pairing the sake with Japanese cuisine, and he enjoyed the Momokawa. Though not a sake, Bob also reviewed a Shochu. Though Bob’s was from Vietnam, plenty of Shochu is made in Japan and kudos still go to Bob for trying something different for WBW.

Mshamba, of The Kenyan Wine Blog, posted an interesting video review of a sake, the Black Bottle Junmai. He really enjoyed this sake, and it was amusing to hear him talk about a sake he has previously tasted which was just terrible. I would not have expected sake to be available in Kenya, but I am glad that it can be found there.

Aleksi, of Aleksi Mehtonen, also did an extensive video review of a number of sakes at a restaurant in Helsinki. He earns bonus points for tasting many different sakes, and kudos for interviewing the sommelier who led the sake tasting. Aleksi really gave his all to this tasting and you should watch his video.

Bethany, of Second Ferment, chose to review a wine, Oroya, that pairs well with Japanese cuisine. Oroya is a Spanish white wine, a blend of Airen, Macabeo, and Moscatel, and was specifically produced to be paired with sushi. Bethany found it to work great with a variety of Japanese dishes, and her description of the wine makes it sound very appealing.

Matthew, of A Good Time With Wine, was another person with a video for WBW, which has an informative interview with Tara Fougner of Ty Ku.  Ty Ku produces sake in the U.S. and Japan, as well as soju and a soju-based liqeuer. Matthew seemed very excited to learn more about sake, and will even be posting more sake-related posts in the future. Keep an eye on his blog.  

Finally, you can check out my own WBW #72 post, a review of the first 100% organic Japanese sake.

Thanks very much to everyone who participated in WBW #72, and thanks very much to everyone who donated to help Japan through the links on these WBW posts. You can still give to this worthy cause by clicking on the American Red Cross site and donate whatever you can.




WBW 71 Wrap-up: (Mostly) New World Rhones (via Winecast)

It has been nearly three years since I last hosted Wine Blogging Wednesday but my choice of theme was easy. Wines made from Rhône varieties are among my personal favorites and I was hoping to learn about many more new wines from participants this month. There were 25 bloggers posting reviews from all over the world. Thanks again to all who took the time to participate and here they are in the order I learned about them:
  • The first post came two weeks early from Karla at Sol Wine & Film. An overview of the Curtis Winery of Santa Ynez Valley in California, the subject fit the theme perfectly but somehow didn’t mention WBW. But Karla used the WBW hashtag so is included in this roundup.
  • New entrant Rags, the Kenyan Wine Brat, posted his video review of CrossRoads Winery Syrah from Texas. While he is no Gary V, his use of “refrigerator smell” to describe the Syrah near the beginning made me think of the famous New York Jets fan. Nice start, man; looking forward to more!
  • Next up was Lisa from Wine Muse posting a review of a 2009 Rutherglen Estates “Shelley’s Block” Marsanne Viognier from her native Australia. Made from 70% Marsanne and 30% Viognier, the wine sounds wonderful and a great value at $15AUS.
  • Joe the Suburban Wino posted a long and somewhat rambling post about Rhône styled wines that begins with a rant about how difficult the circumflex over the “o” in Rhône is but then uses that word about a hundred times. No review here but there is some serious Rhône knowledge thrown down within Joe’s hilarious rant prose.
  • Another video review was posted by Aleksi who selected two wines for his tasting. The first is the Bellingham, The Bernard Series, Grenache Blanc Viognier (no vintage mentioned) which proved to be an interesting wine despite some metallic flavors. His second selection seemed more successful, 2006 Spinifex “Papillon”, a red blend made from Carignan, Cinsault and Granache.
  • Next up was Bob from 2001 Bottles – A Wine Odyssey with a 2006 Church & State “Coyote Bowl” Syrah from British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. It’s not surprising to me that such a nice Syrah could come from Canada as most of the best examples of this variety come from cooler sites. Also tasted was 2009 Twisted Tree Rousanne/Marsanne which was also a winner.
  • Richard, The Passionate Foodie and next month’s WBW host, tasted a 2007 Sutton Cellars Carignane “Piferro Vineyard” and found it to be an, “easy drinking wine, but with appealing character, and would be an perfect pairing with burgers, pizza, or even pasta.” Count me in to pick up some of this to try soon.
  • First time WBW participant Jason from The Ancient Fire Wine Blog was next with a 2007 Penfolds Bin 138 GMS blend. Made from Grenache, Mourvedre and Shiraz, the wine proved to be, “assertive, but not abusive.” Hope to see you next time, Jason!
  • The VA Wine Diva was next with a trio of Rhone-styled wines from Virginia. The first was a 2009 Veritas Vineyards Viognier which was overall a nice wine marred a bit on the finish with a touch of heat. This was followed up by an earthy and leathery 2005 Ingleside Vineyards Syrah. The tasting was capped off with a 2008 Pollak Vineyards “Mille Fleurs” fortified Viognier dessert wine.
  • Andrew from Spittoon, the bloke who got me first into WBW back when he hosted, was next with a 2009 See Saw Shiraz-Mourvèdre. Although information about the wine was hard to come by, it proved to be a winner for under £9.
  • Matt posted next over at A Good Time With Wine tasting a 2007 Liberty School Cuvee, a blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Viognier. Although Matt prefers the leaner French style in his Syrah, he did like this California wine.
  • Next was Magnus posting a bi-lingual review of a 2007 Annie Camarda Syrah from Washington State, quite a find in his native Sweden. And the wine was, “Well balanced, big and juicy with a nice acidity that bring excitement and sophistication – this is good and I am willing to buy me some bottles for the summer as well as for the future.” Magnus was the only person this month to accompany his review with an Iron Maiden video, a trend I’d like to see continue ;-)
  • Ryan from Catavino in Spain posted next tasting a 2006 Cellar Malondro red blend. A blend of 50% Garnacha and 50% Cariñena from D.O. Montsant, I recalled my trip to the region in 2007 which Ryan commemorated with an archive photo on the post.
  • Next was Michael, The Wine Undertaker, who tasted a 2008 Sterling Vineyards Roussanne from Carneros. The wine was the first taste of Roussanne for him but will not be his last given how well this bottle performed.
  • Colin from Grapefan passed along a tasting note on Adegga as he took a week long vow of no wine. The wine sounds like a winner, though, a 2006 Syrah from Napa Valley’s Hyde de Villaine.
  • Frank from Drink What You Like posted another Virginia Viognier, this time from Jefferson Vineyards. From the 2009 vintage, the wine sounds very interesting and one Wine Blogger Conference attendees will no doubt taste as it’s made in Charlottesville, the site of the 2011 event.
  • Next up was Sebastien at downcellar who posted a pair of Mourvèdre from the New and Old World. First was a meaty and dark Spice Route Mourvèdre from Swartland, South Africa. The Old World entry is a 2007 Juan Gil Monastrell from Jumilla, Spain. Both sound like excellent examples of Mourvèdre from outside The Rhône.
  • My own entry was next, a tale of two Rhone-styled wines from California. In the end, the Steele “Writer’s Block” Roussanne delivered the goods for a steal of a closeout price.
  • William from Simple Hedonisms was next with a review of Wesley Ashley “Intelligent Design Cuvee” Red Rhone Blend. The blend of Carignane, Grenache, Cinsault, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre sounds outstanding.
  • Next was Remy at The Wine Case who posted a nice write-up of a 2009  Edmunds St. John “Wylie” Syrah. The effort from this venerable producer of California Syrah proved very nice but made Remy wish he had a bit more patience to see what the wine would evolve to with further cellaring. That’s why you buy more than one bottle, man ;-)
  • Andrea from Wine Skamp posted next with a review of 2008 Santo Cristo Garnacha, a decent sounding quaffer from Spain’s Campo de Borja.
  • Megan was next from the Wannabe Wino blog with a review of a 2009 Hahn GSM blend which sounded like another winner from California.
  • Rain followed next from Teach Us Wine with a cautionary tale to always check the seal on your bottle particularly if it’s a screw-cap. Her tale is full of fail but I’m sure she will come back strong next time.
  • On Wine Blogging Thursday, WBW founder Lenn Thompson posted his entry; a well-chosen 2005 Doon Vineyards “Cigare Volant.” And it seemed worth the wait.
  • And last, but certainly not least, the fabulous Thea posted her entry at Luscious Lushes, a tribute to winemaker Kevin Hamel. She pulled a bottle of 2002  Hamel Wines Syrah, Westside Hills from her cellar to share but also recounts experiences with the 2001 vintage and some other favorite Syrah’s.

So that’s it. I count 25 bloggers and 28 wines tasted. Most of these where red but 8 whites where also reviewed. If I somehow missed your entry, please let me know in the comments and I will update this post.

Thanks again to Lenn for letting me host once again. And without further ado, I pass the baton to Richard from The Passionate Foodie for a very special edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday next month.



Wine Blog Wednesday #70 Wrap-Up: Reaching Out of Your Comfort Zone with Spanish Wines (via Catavino)

Wine Blog Wednesday #70 Wrap-Up: Reaching Out of Your Comfort Zone with Spanish Wines

February 21, 2011 | by Gabriella Opaz | Posted in: Featured, Wine |


Por fin! With a considerable amount of hours logged, searching for those few eluding posts, we have finally completed the wrap-up post for Wine Blog Wednesday #70 - a truly successful event! We gave you the daunting task of stepping out of your comfort zone to find a Spanish grape, wine style or region that you weren’t familiar with. Instead of reaching for that traditional Friday night bottle of Rias Biaxes, we prodded you to give DO Terra Alta a whirl. If you’re a Garnacha fanatic, we urged you to pick up a wine made from Mazuelo instead. Or if you have absolutely detested Sherry in the past, having tried it only once in your life with poor results, we begged on hands and knees to seek out a fresh bottle of Amontillado, pushing your tastebuds for something new and exciting. And we’re eager, nay…exuberant! to say that just about everyone one took our challenge to heart.

What were the results?! First and foremost, we had nine countries participate in this month’s Wine Blog Wednesday, including countries such as Finland, Holland, South Africa and Canada! We love international banter, and to have so many people keen to join in the event was truly spectacular! Additionally, many of you provided us with comprehensive and educational information on your highlighted grape, style or region, as opposed to a straightforward tasting note. This may seem trivial, but for us, it indicates both curiosity and passion, two traits we admire here at Catavino. Finally, some of you stumbled across wines that even we were a little astounded by! Some of these include the 2006 Coto de Gomariz’s VX Cuvée Caco, a blend made with Carabuñeira; as well as the Salvador Poveda’s Fondillón Gran Reserva 1970 from DO Alicante. Granted, Mariëlla Beukers bought the wine when visiting Barcelona in 2008, but the fact that she broke open this little piece of heaven for Wine Blog Wednesday was not only completely unexpected, but totally appreciated!

WBW Spanish Wine Map

Much like our wrap up post for WBW #38 on Portuguese Table Wines, way back in 2007, we took the weekend to compile a comprehensive map of every wine submitted.  Now, we don’t expect that every WBW will receive the same treatment, but we at Catavino specialize in Spanish wines, and therefore, want to offer you the very best visual to encompass the wines and flavors across Spain. However, on this occasion, we chose to highlight every Spanish wine by style including: white, red, fortified, cava and sherry. Check out our WBW Spanish Map key below.


What’s the point of this map? Simply put, it’s a way for us to having a better understanding as to where your wines were produced, and how wines can vary drastically depending on the climate, soil, etc. For example, Garnacha tastes wildly different if made in Rioja or Priorat. Therefore, this map allows you garner a better understanding of where, and why, flavors change. Additionally, rather than isolate someone’s review without context, you have the ability to click on a pin and see who wrote about what wines. And because we want to encourage you to click on the author’s name to read their entire article, or see their video, only a small synopsis is provided. A teaser if you will.

Please note that whenever possible, we’ve tried to use the winery’s address to position the pin on the map. But, there were many instances that an exact address was neither provided on the bottle,  nor on the website, forcing us to place the pin in the general wine producing area. (Note to wineries: Update your information online!)

Finally, if you look below the map, we’ve also listed every submission with the name of: the author, the country, where the submission originated, the wine and the region. Again, simply click on the wine and you’ll go directly to the author’s site.

View Wine Blog Wednesday #70 – Spanish Wines: Reaching Out of Your Comfort Zone in a larger map

Submissions Based on Spanish Wine Style


Catavino (Spain) - 2008 Manzuel0 de la Quinta de la Cruz, DOCq Rioja
Vino Tinto (Sweden) - Parcelas de Graciano 2006 Colección Vivanco, DOCq Rioja
Vino Tinto (Sweden) - Parcelas de Mazuelo 2008 Colección Vivanco, DOCq Rioja
The Red White Boston (USA) - 2007 Compañia de Vinos Telmo Rodriguez LZ, DOCq Rioja
The Wine Monologues (USA) - 2005 Alquezar Moristel, DO Somontano
Sonia Andresson-Nolasco (USA) – 2009 Pirineos Mesache, DO Somontano
Rick Fisher (USA) – 2006 Pirineos Parraleta, DO Somontano
Miss in Wine (USA) - 2008 Petalos, DO Bierzo
Sip, Swirl, Snark (USA) - 2003 Ribas del Cúa Mencia, DO Bierzo
Spwein (Spain) - 2008 Petalos, DO Bierzo
A Glass Afterwork (USA) – 2005 Mencía Xestal, DO Bierzo
The Cork Chronicles (USA) - 2007 Abadia Retuerta, Special Selection, VT Castilla y Leon
2001 Bottles (Canada) – 2005 Bodegas Abadia Retuerta Rivola, VT Castilla y Leon
Bibendum (UK) - Summa Varietalis 2005, Castilla La Mancha
Virginia’s Long Island (USA) - 2009 Venta Morales Tempranillo, Castille La Mancha
Wine Predator (USA) - 2009 Vina Borgia, DO Campo de Borja
Wine Predator (USA) - 2008 Tres Picos Borsao, DO Campo de Borja
Grapefan (UK) - 2007 Bodegas Epifanio Rivera Erial Tradicion Familia, DO Ribera del Duero
A Good Time with Wine (USA) – 2004 Museum Real Reserva, DO Ribera del Duero
Virginia’s Long Island (USA) - 2009 Tarima Monastrell Red, DO Jumilla
Drink What You Like (USA) – 2007 Nudo Petit Verdot Private Collection, DO Jumilla
Spittoon (UK) - 2008 Juan Gil Monastrell, DO Jumilla
1 Wine Dude Review (USA) - 2009 Bodegas San Martin Ilagares Tinto, DO Navarra
1 Wine Dude Review (USA) - 2006 Ochoa Tempranillo Crianza, DO Navarra
Grapes of Sloth (Ireland) – B2008 Beryna, DO Alicante
Pantagruelic (Portugal) – Bodegas y Vinedos Maurodos Prima 2008, DO Toro
Vinos Ambiz (Spain) – Pinto, Vino de la Mesa
Arnold Waldstein (USA) – Ponce ’09 Manchuela Buena Pinta
Family, Love Wine (USA) – 2009 Camino de Navaherreros Garnacha, DO Vinos de Madrid
PR Grisley (USA) – 2006 Coto de Gomariz’s VX Cuvée Caco, DO Ribeiro
The Passionate Foodie (USA) – 2007 Bodegas Avanthia Mencia, DO Valdeorras
Twenty Months (USA) - 2009 D. Ventura’s Viña do Burato, DO Ribeira Sacra
Teach Us Wine (USA) – Sol de España
Dominique Roujou (Spain) – 2007 Marque de Valdueza, Vino de la Tierra Extremadura
Spittoon (UK) - 2008 Cien Y Pico, Doble Pasta, DO Mancheula


Julian S. Talaveron (Spain) – 2009 Inspiracion Valdemar Tempranillo Blanco, Rioja DOCq
Luscious Lushes (USA) - Castillo de Maetierra Guerrilla Whites, DOCq Rioja
Virginia’s Long Island (USA) - 2009 Shaya Verdejo Old Vines White Wine, DOCq Rioja
The Wine Case (Canada) - 2009 Ad Libitum, DOCq La Rioja
Grapes of Sloth (Ireland) – 2009 Picarana, Vinos de Madrid
Mi Vida es un Blog (Spain)- 2009 Picarana, Vinos de Madrid
Sip, Swirl, Snark (USA) – 2008 Bodegas Fillaboa Albariño, DO Rias Biaxes
Undertaking Wine (USA) – 2009 2009 Vionta Albariño, Do Rias Biaxes
Kulinarischer Salon (Austria)- 2007 Dominio do Bibei Lapola, DO Ribeira Sacra
Cheap Wine Ratings (USA) – Tapeña Verdejo, Tierra de Castilla
Ruck & Vine (Ireland) – 2009 Mara Martin Godello, DO Monterrei
Grapefan (UK) – 2009 Navazos Niepoort, Vino de la Mesa Andalucia
Catavino (Spain) – 2008 Mas Rodo Montonega, DOCq Penedes
Spittoon (UK) – 2009 La Báscula Catalan Eagle, DO Terra Alta


Cincinnati Wine Travels (USA) – Alvear, Pedro Ximenez Solera 1927, DO Montilla Moriles
2001 Bottles (Canada) – Alvear Pedro Ximenez Solera 1907, D.O. Montilla Moriles
Wijnkronieken (Holland) – Salvador Poveda Fondillón Gran Reserva 1970, DO Alicante


2001 Bottles (Canada) – 2006 Marques de Gelida Brut Exclusive Reserva, DO Cava
Wine Predator (USA) – NV Albero Cava Brut, DO Cava
Catavino (Spain) – 2001 Manuel Raventos Gran Reserva Personal, DO Cava
Catavino (Spain) – 2005 Segura Viudas Torre Galimany Gran Reserva, DO Cava


Aleksi Mehtonen (Finland) – Marques del Real Tesoro Amontillado Medium
Aleksi Mehtonen (Finland) – La Guita Manzanilla
Delong Wine (UK) – Tio Pepe Fino Sherry
New York Cork Report (USA) – Dios Baco Oloroso Jerez 30 Years Old Baco Imperial
A Good Time with Wine (USA) – Osborne Pedro Ximenez
Winecast (USA) – Emilio Lustau, Sherry Dry Amontillado, “Los Arcos” Solera Reserva NV


Bloggers Participated = 45
Non-Bloggers Participated = 1
Wines Tasted = 62
Participating Countries = 11 (Ireland, USA, UK, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Austria, Finland, Sweden, South Africa, Canada)


Big hats off to Lenn Thompson for not only getting the Wine Blog Wednesday ball rolling again, but also providing us the enormous pleasure of hosting it! Whether we received a short tweet, or a lengthy novel, we love seeing people explore new Iberian wines! Thanks to everyone who participated and if we missed you, never hesitate to send us a note. We’ll happily add your submission to the list!

Gabriella Opaz


WBW 54 Summarized, WBW 55 Announced


David from McDuff’s Food & Wine Trail has posted his round-up from Wine Blogging Wednesday 54. Over 50 bloggers tasted more than 85 wines from the Piedmont region of Italy. If you are looking for Nebbiolo, check out David’s write-up.

Meanwhile up in Quebec City, Rémy from The Wine Case has announced the theme of WBW 55 as “North vs. South.” Instead of a Civil War theme, his tasting will be all about tasting the same wine variety made in cooler (northerly) climates versus the same variety in warmer (southerly) climes. Sounds like a good time to go back to Riesling or find that Zin from Baja California. Whatever you choose, taste and post your notes by March 18th and let Rémy know.

WBW 44 Linked Up, WBW 45 Announced

Gary from Wine Library TV has asked Mott to link up the 59 participants of WBW 44 over at the WLTV forums. Lots of links to check out to find some nice Cabernet Franc from France. Seems like Gary might have also encouraged some more first time participants to our monthly virtual tasting, which is all very good stuff.


For next month, I will again host and I’ve picked my favorite white variety, Riesling as the theme. But I wanted to celebrate the wines made where I think the best examples are found in Northern Europe. So pick up a wine made from Riesling grown in Germany, France’s Alsace, Austria, Northern Italy, the Czech Republic or Slovenia and post your notes by May 7th. If you don’t have a blog, just register and post here.

Can we crack 60 participants next time? I think so…