Once Upon a Vine: Wine and My Amphibian Crush

Standing calf-deep, my rubber boots are suctioned into the slick, clay-rich banks. Twilight robs the colors of the day. The sky’s mercurial reflection shimmers on the vineyard pond and across the shoreline, a lone bullfrog tunes the others. Had I known these frogs were remotely symbolic to my wine discovery, I’d kissed each one until I found the prince.   They say to sustain an emotional connection to wine, one must kiss a lot of frogs – in other words, be…

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Grape harvest calls for a game of bocce!

While living in the California wine country, Mother Nature’s habitual tendencies became intrinsic motivators in our lives. We’d see the fuzzy little bud break on the first warm spring day, anticipate the coastal fog that would blanket the vineyards during the summer every six days like clockwork, observe our beloved chocolate Labrador Retriever quietly plucking berries off the vines. “Kona!”  Oh, how we loved that dog! We’d recognize the telltale rise of steam emanating from piles of fermenting pomace during…

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Daou’s Seeds of Hope

For brothers Daniel and Georges Daou of Daou Vineyards, the desire to find happiness was a result of a near-death experience. At the tender age of 10 and 14, they fled their homeland during the Lebanese civil war after a bomb hit their home. Yet, the times of rubble also marked the beginning of a life that they would learn to love … and share. “Not only did it create a desire to be happy, but it created a bond between…

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Whispering rosés and magic with Alain Riviere

We’ve had a passionate and stormy relationship with rosés. At one time we loved and cherished them. Then we lost interest and banished them, regarding domestic rosés as our grandmother’s tipple – cheap and sweet, in the shade of her “blush.”  And while sweet wine is still widely popular today, dry rosé from Provençe has created an international rosé wine movement unlike any other. So much that being seen with a glass of it elevates our reputation and announces our…

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G.D. VAJRA: Wines Guided by Nature

Standing next to a glistening stainless steel fermentation tank in the cellar of G.D. VAJRA winery, Francesca Vaira draws attention to the stained-glass windows. While the design does not directly reference winemaking, it has everything to do with her family’s philosophy and style, she says. In the hamlet of Vergne, a few miles west and high above the village of Barolo, G.D. VAJRA is a pioneer among Barolo producers, established in the 1970s by Francesca’s father, Aldo Vaira. He had…

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For the love of Pomerol

One of the last things that Christian Moueix said to me at his winemaker dinner showcasing Château La Fleur-Pétrus was, “Love is never lost. It’s diffused in wine.” His sentiment would sum up the evening at SW Steakhouse in Wynn Las Vegas, where 20 guests gathered to taste his wines from the darling appellation of Pomerol. In Bordeaux’s Merlot-driven Right Bank, where Pomerol is located, wines tend to be more immediately seductive, supple and fleshy, next to the more rugged and…

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Tasting Italian Wine: Toe to Leg Warmer

In Italy, where food and wine are fervently wedded, winemaking is an instinctive and magical mingling of heritage, culture, and tradition. Italy’s two million acres of vineyards are home to two-thirds of all known grape varieties.  Each wine bears a story and embodies a specific region; no two are alike. This kind of bewildering diversity seduces us to explore further and taste Italy from the top to bottom. As with any first course, bubbles are a starting point with Italy’s…

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Farm to Fizz: Rodolphe Peters on Grower Champagne

Champagne’s international rock star names, such as Moët & Chandon, Perrier-Jouët, or Veuve Clicquot, are just a few of France’s prominent Champagne houses that are famous throughout the world. Enjoyed by European royalty for centuries, today, we are still popping their bottles year-round (hopefully not just during the holiday season). These are the Champagne brands – Grandes Marques as they are referred to in France – who buy their grapes from all over the Champagne region to ensure precision year after…

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Breakfast with Gaia Gaja

It was early morning inside Aria’s sunlit cafe, and before the server even could ask, Gaia Gaja said with Italian charm and conviction, “I know what I want  – coffee.” The charismatic daughter of Angelo Gaja –  the legendary, dynamic and inventive wine producer who propelled the Piemonte region of Italy into modernity – doesn’t come to Las Vegas very much. So when she visited in October 2017, we sat over Greek yogurt and seasonal berries to talk about her…

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SIP TRIP: Discovering Ruchè inside Castagnole Monferrato’s original castle wall

It was raining off and on as I walked along the ramparts behind the original castle of Castagnole Monferrato until I arrived at 62, the address of La Miraja and Eugenio Gatti, a Ruchè producer. When I first had Ruchè a few years ago I was immediately captivated by its alluring characteristics. It happened to be Eugenio’s bottling and since then I’ve tasted Ruchè from other passionate producers, which have only fortified my love for this wine.  Ruchè’s origins are…

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