@TastingPanel Brings on the Holiday Bar Buying Show! aka The Holiday 2013 Buying Show


Holiday Bar Show, Holiday 2013 Buying ShowShe says: Hospitality people.  I LOVE them! They always seem to know the latest and the greatest beverages, treats and excitement-makers for being sure a possibly dull ol’ get-together stays spicy and fun!  I find out about new drinks and wines in piecemeal – various magazines, blog posts, random surprises by a friend – but the pros are the pros for a REASON!

Are they just brilliant? Are they so much more “all that” than we are? NO… they just attend the Holiday Bar Show every year – and, well, we don’t.

It’s easy to see why the hospitality pros who DO attend the Holiday Bar Show are waaaay ahead of the party curve.  I mean – look at this list of exhibitors — funny, intriguing names that make you want to know more, more more!   On just the home page I’ve read of  SOYOMBO, TWISTED SHOTZ, KILLER BEE Bourbon & Honey – yum!, and NAUGHTY COW – what?? Show me that cow.

If you’re in New York – stop on by!! You’ll be “all that” when you use your knowledge from the Holiday Bar Buying Show to find unique libations for your own holiday parties. Or just use your new knowledge to find the most unique gifts for the hosts at all of those holiday parties you’ll have on your schedule.  From the looks of it, you’ll know more than most of us! Get all filled up with the latest and the greatest and then use it to make your friends happy!

Tickets to attend the exhibits?  Only $55   Click here:  http://holidaybarbuyingshow.com/attendee-registration

Want to do more than just taste and gawk?  Learn something at the Seminars – only $140 before August 30  http://holidaybarbuyingshow.com/seminars

Get all the details right here: http://holidaybarbuyingshow.com

Wine Trails of Italy from @MichelinGuides


Maps of wine regions of Italy, Michelin Wine trails of Italy, where to learn about Italian wine

BEST THING ABOUT THIS BOOK:  She says: If you’re traveling to Italy and you don’t like to schlep a lot of books with you, this MAY be the only travel book you need to take along.  It’s excellent for wine tasting — and yet excellent for just traveling to Italy in a general way with just a few tastings of wine along the way.  The brief descriptions of the region are just the right size for me – I like to figure a lot of stuff out on my own once I get to a town.  And if you want full wine itineraries — this book has full wine itineraries, too.

She says:  Every time I open a travel guide. I am amazed and deeply appreciative at how much human labor and work goes in to producing a book full of SO MANY details!  (Thanks, Editorial Director Cynthia Clayton Ochterbeck!) Wine Trails of Italy tops the list of details, details, details.  Even if you didn’t want to go to any wineries in Italy, you can use this book to understand all the different regions of Italy and a little of their history.

First on my list is always – look at the maps! I’m a map freak.  Since Wine Trails of Italy covers the whole country, the first map I’m looking for is a map of the entire region.  Rut-ro… there isn’t one.  I can’t read a travel book without a map. To understand a country as a whole, I always need to see the map and get my bearings. Otherwise it’s just “too much information” and I can’t organize it properly in my head.  I get lost. I get lost in real life… I get lost in a book… that’s my life. What to do?  I searched for and printed two maps of the wine region of Italy. Thanks, Google!  Here is a great map of the Italian wine regions for you, from Nick’s  Wine Merchants in Australia! http://www.nicks.com.au/italian-wine-regions-76.657/map-of-italian-wine-regions-76.675   THANKS, NICK!!

Back to the book:  Organized?  PERFECTLY!

THE PRIMER:  At the front of the book, you’ll find a great primer on “The World of Wine” Describing viticulture, an amazing cross-section drawing of a grape and it’s various parts (I had no idea!),  tips on tasting wine, where to buy it, how to conserve it, how to serve it and a primer on the language of wine – with the words in Italian and English.

Let’s not forget the regulations… a nice description of IGT, DOC, DOCG and VQPRD is also included so when you read an Italian wine label, you’ll know what you are getting.  Cheat sheet: DOCG means the most stringent regulations have been followed regarding production of the wine.

THE REGIONS:  The book follows the 21 wine regions from North to South / and from West to East. Most regions in the book have a map of the region,  showing you landmarks, which city the wine region is centered around, the highways and main roads. Only drawback on these maps is they show the region in purple.   Cool, I get it, it’s the color of wine, but it’s very difficult to read black print on purple. Difficult to see the green roads and the red roads shown.  And nearly impossible to notice the yellow roads.
He says: I have no trouble with the purple and the other colors.
She says: For me, it’s a waste of a map. I wish they had called us to review the book BEFORE it was published.

She continues: Each regions describes the terroir, the history of the area, which grape varieties are grown in the area – what the DOC designation is and a list of the “sub-zones” the smaller regions nearby so in case you are the “don’t want to miss a thing” group – you can visit the sub-zones, too.

The ITINERARIES:  Michelin has possible itineraries for you for the region, marking historic sites (as well as their addresses, phone #s and website addresses.  Wine interest places are indicated with a little wine glass. Sweet.

The ADDRESSES OF THE WINERIES:  Just past the itineraries, you’ll find a list of the cellars and wineries with addresses, phone numbers, website address, whether they have accommodations, a brief history of the winery and then which wines you will find at the winery.

Way too much to cover in just a blog post – so if you like Italy, think you might like Italian wine, think you’d like to know a little more about it before you head off on a Do-It-Yourself wine trip or even on an organized tour — take along this book. You’ll be fully briefed and ready to roll.
http://www.michelintravel.com/guides/wine-trails-of-italy/

Full disclosure stuff:  She says: We heard about Wine Trails of Italy from Michelin Guides. I was ready to purchase my own, but a complimentary copy came in the mail.  Like magic.  As usual, we appreciate any gifts we receive, but we are “bribe-less” and  we will always write from our genuine reaction.

Movies About Wine Can Really Work: “You Will Be My Son” from Gilles Legrand


You Will Be My Son – Feature film directed by: Gilles Legrand
SEPT. 10 update:  You Will Be My Son opening at Landmark Theatres around the US.  Click to find a theatre near you!  http://www.landmarktheatres.com/Films/films_frameset.asp?id=123949

You Will Be My Son, French Film, Drama, Family Wine Heritage, Movie about wine

Opens in New York 8/16-The Paris Theatre ~ Click for showtimes!

Opens: August 16, 2013 – New York City, The Paris Theater, 4 West 58th Street, New York, NY 10019 Phone) 212-688-3800  http://www.theparistheatre.com
Written by: Delphine de Vigan – screenplay (adaptation / dialogue)
Laure Gasparotto – collaboration
Gilles Legrand – screenplay (adaptation / dialogue)

Starring: Niels Arestrup as Paul de Marseul, Father and Proprietor of the Chateau
Lorànt Deutsch as Martin de Marseul, Paul’s son
Anne Marivin as Alice de Marseul, Martin’s wife
Patrick Chesnais as Francois Amelot, Estate manager
Nicolas Bridet  as Philippe Amelot, Francois’ son

He and She both say:
Paul is the proprietor of his prestigious family wine estate and has no love and no faith in his son, Martin, a college educated winemaker, dedicated, dutiful worker in the estate and the rightful heir to the estate.

How a man like Paul carries on in a business that takes so many people to run, with no respect for and minimal rewards to the people who have built the business and help it run on a daily basis — is beyond my comprehension.  Paul lives in a cloud of his own self-importance.  He is “that father”.   The father who is never satisfied no matter what you’ve done for him.  Ehhh… so difficult to watch him “work it” for 1.5 hrs – let alone live and work with him for so many years as his son has done.

Here’s the degree of “all about me” that Paul lives in – His son rents a house on the estate and Paul can’t even be bothered to empty a room (an ENTIRE ROOM he refers to as “What room? Oh, you mean my shoe closet.”) so his son and new wife can expand their kitchen.

With Francois, his winemaker and estate manager, in the last months and weeks of his life due to cancer, Paul passes over giving his son a chance to learn from Francois and continue the family business.  Instead Paul consider’s Francois’ son, Phillipe
as a more appropriate choice to handle the harvest and eventually inherit the state.

It is a prodigal son returns sort of story for sure but so much deeper. The son who stayed on the land, faithful to the family and business is not respected and is tossed aside in favor of a prodigal “son” who left to travel and work – and isn’t even a son at all. It is also a story of a man who thinks anything he wants can be bought and anyone nearby is simply someone born to serve him.   Even his life-long friend, winemaker, estate manager’s only son.

The manipulations, the lies and the hidden secrets of the family and it’s workers are impeccably intriguing.  Twists and turns you never see coming are beautiful poetic justice.  You Will Be My Son is a very well acted and directed film and solidly engaging from start to finish. See it as soon!

The film was shot on location in the French region of Saint-Émilion at the Château Clos Fourtet. If you’d like to taste the wine from Chateau Clos Fourtet, you can shop the preliminary search we’ve created for you – http://ow.ly/nW8Bn

Full disclosure stuff:  We received a free preview screening of this film.  Luckily the film is just brilliant and it’s an incident of perfect match of wine and film for us. We truly loved it and think you will, too.  AND She says:  I will be watching it several more times!

P.S. A sentence that will never mean the same thing to you again “I hope you like your new shoes.”

Mellissoni Vineyards, Lake Chelan, Washington – More Washington Wines!


Barrysentials He Said ~ She Said wine blog writers with Rob Mellisoni - Owner of Mellisoni Vineyards, Lake Chelan Washington, Those Washington wines!

He Said ~ She Said wine bloggers w/Rob Mellison – Owner of Mellisoni Vineyards

The necessary disclosures: As part of Wine Bloggers Conference 2013 , we enjoyed a deeply discounted Lake Chelan, WA wine country excursion. Mellissoni Vineyards was on our itinerary. As a reader, you already know – we enjoy a few random discounts and gifts, but they do not sway our honest observations or tasting notes.  

Mellisoni Vineyards, Lake Chelan, Washington

Mellisoni Vineyards, Lake Chelan Washington, Lake Chelan wine country

They’re waiting for you! What a view!

He and She both say: Overlooking the south shore of Lake Chelan, Mellisoni Vineyards specializes in high end whites and reds. Rob Mellison and his wife, Donna, began the winery in 2002, and have made tremendous strides in just a decade. Rob hosted a lunch and wine tasting for 8 of us prior to the start of the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference, and we all really enjoyed his wines and his company.  Rob is a very friendly and engaging person, quick with a story, and even quicker with generous pours of his wine.  The first words he uttered as we sat down at our table on the beautiful lawn with the sparkling blue Lake Chelan in the background:  “There ain’t gonna be any spitting today!”

Melissoni Vineyards, Lake Chelan Washington, Lake Chelan Wine Country, Rob Mellisoni, Owner, Serious and seriously joyful about his wines and his life.

Rob Mellison

He says:  Well, that was true for the most part, but we did spit some because he likes to pour generously and it wasn’t even noon yet. Rob regaled us with stories about how he got started in the wine business.  It started with his work as a sales manager for a high end Italian cabinetry and drawer closure company where he got to entertain clients at top restaurants in Europe.  Because of a strong expense account during this time, he said he got to taste a lot of incredible wines.  So his approach at Mellisoni, he says, is to bring a great bottle of wine to his winemaker, Katy Perry, (no, not the pop star) and have her try to emulate that style using their available grapes.  I can’t say whether or not they are great reproductions, but I can say that the Mellisoni wines were uniformly terrific.

She says:  The tasting tradition at Mellissoni’s is an extraordinary experience. Similar to what we experienced in some of the bodegas in Argentina, your tasting will just be your group of friends, you need to call to make a reservation (Call: 509-293-1891 or email: mellisons@mellisonivineyards.com) you’ll be treated beautifully and you most likely won’t want to leave.  It’s a private event between you, your friends and the vineyard owner, Rob Mellison.  After so many years working for Italians, the food is in his blood now, so you’ll be served quite the feast – 6 bottles of wine to taste, a table full of Italian salami’s, prosciutto and melon (in season) Buratta cheese with tomatoes, hopefully you’ll get the pesto cheese, too, smoked salmon, rosemary crackers… are you hungry yet? Tastings are $65/person, it will last a few hours and you’ll depart with memories to last the rest of your life.

The spread for Mellisoni Vineyards wine pairing tasting - Mellisoni Vineyards, Lake Chelan Washington, Washington wines

The spread at Mellisoni Vineyards wine pairings tasting. Hungry? You will be when you get there!

She says... Boys will be boys. Forever.

He says:  The Mellisons bought these 10 acres of land in 2002, and the vineyards are on a very steep slope. He gave us adventurous guys a blast of a ride up the steep slope in his Yamaha Rhino 4-wheel drive. Rob told us that he personally leveled the portion of the property for that lawn area, and is about to break ground on a beautiful tasting room.  He also has ambitious plans to create a luxury spa area at the top of his vineyards.  What could be better than getting a massage, looking out at the beautiful grapevines and lake, sipping wonderful wines . . . . So if you’re thinking of going to the Washington wine country, we highly recommend that you make an appointment to  come and taste their wines, enjoy some food, and just have a great time.  You’ll be very glad you did.

She says:  Boys will be boys forever, won’t they? Click here to visit Mellisoni Vineyards website and to make reservations for you own exquisite tasting.  

Have some more at Mellisoni Vineyards, Lake Chelan Washington, Lake Chelan wine country

Reaching for another bottle.

Take it to the beach!

Take it to the beach!

After the tasting. Mellisoni Vineyards, Lake Chelan Washington, Washington Wines

8 people = 8 bottles. Do not try this at home. We are trained professionals.

To plan your own itinerary to Lake Chelan Wine Valley, get all the friendly help you need right here: http://www.lakechelanwinevalley.com/

Notes on specific wines from Mellisoni Vineyards:

        Click to read about 2011 Mellisoni Pinot Grigio

Click to read about 2009 Mellisoni Riesling

COMING SOON! MORE REVIEWS!!

Click here to read about 2011 “45 degres” 70% Riesling, 30% Gewurtztraminer

Click here to read about 2012 Mellisoni Gewurzstraminer

Click here to read about 2007 Mellisoni Syrah

Click here to read about 2010 Mellisoni Syrah

Click here to read about 2006 Mellisoni Reserve Merlot

Click here to read about 2010 Mellisoni Cab Columbia Valley

2009 Mellisoni Riesling, Mellisoni Vineyards, Lake Chelan Washington


2009, Mellisoni Riesling

A view from the Riesling

2009 Mellisoni Riesling

He says:  Mellisoni said he makes this riesling in the style of one from Zind Humbrecht or Joh. Jos Prum.  To be honest, I have not tasted many German or French rieslings — most of my exposure has come from flabby, slightly sweet California rieslings that were pretty terrible.  This riesling (and others I tasted from BC) was a relevation.  It had a golden color, slight apple nose, with a floral tinge. Beautiful light green apple and golden raisin flavors. The finish was excellent. By far, at this point, it was the best riesling I ever had! It won a double gold from the Seattle Wine Awards and a gold in the San Francisco International Wine Competition. I scored it a 16! $35

She says:  I try so hard to understand the Germans and I fail every time.

Other notes:  (2008 just sold out, so look for the 2009)

Click here to read our notes from tasting at Mellisoni Vineyards.

2011 Mellisoni Pinot Grigio, Mellisoni Vineyards, Lake Chelan Washington


Mellisoni Vineyards photo collage2011 Mellisoni Pinot Grigio

He says:  Mellisoni Pinot Grigio has won double gold at Seattle 3 years in a row.  The grapes for this wine come from the left 20 rows of the vineyard. This wine was done in all stainless steel, has .09 residual sugar, but tastes completely dry. It has a beautiful golden color.  There are hints of pear in nose and mouth, along with hazelnuts. The wine was crisp and clean, with nice acid balance. Very refreshing. It pairs great with smoked salmon. I gave it a very fine score of 15+. $35

She says: You, Mr. Grigio, are one of my sexiest new friends.

Click here to read our complete coverage of tasting at Mellisoni Vineyards.

Click here to visit Mellisoni Vineyards website!

Rio Vista Winery – Lake Chelan Washington – Time to wake up to Washington Wines!


Washington wines?  Yes. Washington is now the second largest premium wine producing state in the country, and is home to 780 wineries in 13 AVAs.  She says: I rarely think about Washington wines, but now they’re definitely on my radar.

We checked out some wineries in the Lake Chelan AVA.  Lake Chelan (rhymes with Shazam!) is a narrow 55-mile long lake in the center of the state, with the AVA being in the northwest corner of the Columbia Valley AVA.  The region is pretty dry and during the summer months can get up to 16 hours of sunshine per day.  When we visited, it didn’t get dark until after 9 pm.

Where is Lake Chelan, Washington?  About a 3-hour drive from the airport in Seattle, Washington.

Our first stop was Rio Vista Winery, which is about 10 minutes from the city of Chelan.  Rio Vista is actually along the banks of the Columbia River, with their vineyards just above the sandy shore. Quite beautiful, as you can see from the photos.

Rio Vista is a small boutique winery run by a very gracious husband and wife, John and Jan Little.  It’s a 4th career for John, after stints as a teacher, apple orchard farmer and carpenter.  In fact he did all the beautiful wood carpentry inside the tasting room.  John seems to really enjoy what he’s doing as owner and winemaker for this 1,000-case winery, and it’s reflected in the wines.

While the Little’s have only three acres planted with grapevines, they pack a whole lot of varieties into that small space.  They grow Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.  Plus, he also purchases Viognier, Malbec and Tempranillo and Cab Franc — so he’s working with a wide palate.

Rio Vista’s white wines are fruity, crisp, well-balanced and food friendly.  The 2012 Rio Vista Wacky White is a blend of estate Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer.

He Said: Despite the wacky name, this is a well-made, very enjoyable, serious wine. It has a nice floral nose with pear and honeysuckle flavors, firm acidity and a very nice finish. Because of the different grape varietals, it’s pretty versatile with a lot of different types of foods.  I scored this a very solid 15.

She Said: Put some of this behind your ears and I’m pretty sure you’ll get lucky!

2012 Rio Vista Chardonnay:
He says:  2012 Rio Vista Chardonnay was also enjoyable (also a 15), but a bit more straightforward.

She Said: It was like a breath of the cleanest air you can imagine.

2012 Rio Vista, “Sunset on the Lake”:

He Said: I was intrigued by another blend — the 2012 Rio Vista Sunset on the Lake — which is comprised of Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer and gets a very light blush from the Pinot Gris.  This is a very tropical flavored wine, with notes of mango and pineapple.  It’s dry and still had good acidity though, which makes me think it would pair well with Asian foods. I rated it a 14.

She Said: Reminds me of Hawaii!

2009 Rio Vista Cabernet:  John is doing a bang-up job with his red wines, including an estate Merlot, an inky Malbec and a very commendable Tempranillo with grapes from nearby Manson. We got to sample two Cabs, including the 2009 Rio Vista Cabernet, which earned double golds in the Seattle Wine Awards.
He Said: This estate cab was very dry and smoky, with medium tannins and a nice finish, and I rated it a 15.

She Said: I was expecting more wood

Then we got a chance to try a barrel sample of his 2011 Rio Vista Cabernet which will be bottled in the summer.

He Said: This fruit-forward estate cab was deep ruby in color and had wonderful blackberry flavors and medium tannins.  This 2011 Cab was really enjoyable now and should be a real winner when it’s eventually released in another year or so.

She Said: I smell fresh tobacco. I hope your plan is to roll a cigar for me.

And lastly, let us tell you about the 2009 Rio Vista Loony Red:
This blend, named for the loons in the area, is made up of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and a bit of Syrah and was barrel-aged for 18 months.

He Said:  This is a big and bold wine, with pronounced black fruit flavors and maybe a touch of smokiness. There’s a decent amount of tannins present, but it’s very enjoyable now and was a quite delicious mouthful. I rated it a very solid 15+

She Said: You had better bring some steak home.  I opened the Loony Red!

We didn’t know what to expect from Rio Vista Winery, but the location, the beautiful tasting room, the great wines and the warm hospitality all add up to a GREAT experience.

Bonus points:  SEAPLANE – Depending on which excursion got you to the winery, you’ll have an option to ride a seaplane! Fantastic way to view the area.

ADIRONDACK CHAIRS – sip and chill on the patio overlooking the lake or sip and chill on the grounds. You’ll want to buy a bottle and take it to the chair b/c you will want to sit there for a long time.

FIREPLACE – in the tasting room there’s a way comfy sofa in front of the fireplace. When was the last time you felt that comfortable and welcome in a tasting room?

WINE COLORED WALLS –the paint on the walls of the winery are quite unique. I mentioned to John that it looks like they painted the walls with some leftover wine. Really gorgeous.

CHERRY TREES – You’ll notice cherry trees on your drive up the driveway. . We’re not sure whose property it is, but if you get a chance, sneak away from your group and take a walk back down the driveway. There are a few random cherry trees separate from the actual orchard, and if those trees have some ripe cherries on them — try a few. ;-) No one could fault you for giving in to that temptation.

If you’re visiting the Lake Chelan area, you’ll want to be sure to put Rio Vista Winery on your list.
Click here to find a map for your whole new wine experience with Lake Chelan AVA and Washington wines.  

 The photos from Rio Vista Winery as a slide show. Enjoy!