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Best White Wines Under $20: Alsace Hugel Riesling

alsace hugel reisling wine bottles 300x225 Best White Wines Under $20: Alsace Hugel RieslingA French Riesling at a Great Price

By Matt Goldstein

My father Howard has a wine importer that orders him cases of wine in all kinds of varieties and most of the wines are an excellent bargain.  Hand selected by a veteran of the wine industry, the Alsace Hugel Reisling from France is a subtle and balanced white wine, refreshing and complex.  For under $20 the Hugel Resiling is one of the best wines in its class.  For the $10 we paid, it was an absolute steal.  According to Hugel Vineyards, maturity reached record levels, the highest for 50 years and the Alsace Hugel Riesling is their most demanding variety.  It is this maturity and maturation that makes this Riesling such an excellent wine.  “Totally dry with high natural acids. This famous grape celebrated in all the Rhine valley combines great elegance, finesse and minerality.”  White wines are best with seafood and this wine went very well with our sushi platters.  Light, refreshing and complex, we definitely recommend this wine for under $20.


From Alsace Hugel Vineyard

The vintage :
The winter of 2010 was particularly harsh, with more than 30 days below zero, and temperatures dropped as far as -17°C. Budburst on 8 April was early, but flowering which began on 10 June took almost 3 weeks to finish due to cool temperatures. July was exceptionally hot and sunny, before cold, damp and rainy weather set in throughout August and into September. Ideal weather conditions returned on 11 September, with not a drop of rain for 6 weeks. Our harvest began on 27 September and ended on 26 October. Maturity reached record levels, the highest for 50 years, with good acidity, similar to 1996. Crop size was 30% below average, and even lower for Gewurztraminer.
Superb wines with magnificent balance, purity and fruit. 2010 is a great classic vintage, with good ageing potential.

Quick View :
It is the Pinot Noir of white wines! Riesling is our most demanding variety as it is also the latest ripening. Dry and elegant, it expresses its best on our steepest slopes with a most complex minerality.

In the vineyard :
Harvested exclusively by hand from clay and limestone vineyards in a dozen of the most favoured localities in and around Riquewihr.

Winemaking :
The grapes are taken in small tubs to the presses, which are filled by gravity, without any pumping or other mechanical intervention.
After pressing, the must is decanted for a few hours, then fermented in temperature-controlled barrels or vats (at 18 to 24°C). The wine is racked just once, before natural clarification during the course of the winter. The following spring, the wine is lightly filtered just before bottling, and the bottles are then aged in our cellars until released for sale.

Alcohol level : 12.85°

Residual Sugar (g/l) : 3.5

Acidity (g/l) : 7.67

pH : 3.29

Age of vines : 30

Yields : 55 hl/ha

Grapes :
Riesling : 100%





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Disappointing Organic Wines: Parducci Sustainable Red & the Green Truck Petite Sirah

Green Truck Petite Sirah Red Wine Disappointing Organic Wines: Parducci Sustainable Red & the Green Truck Petite SirahAre Organic Wines Really Safer?

By Matt Goldstein & Amy K. Haight

Our team has been on the lookout for inexpensive organic wines to see if there are any wines on the market that can compete in terms of complexity and price with the rest of the wine world as a whole.  To be fair, organic wine grapes like all other organic fruits and vegetables are still sprayed with pesticides.  Hard to believe but yes, all organic farms in the world use pesticides, however these pesticides are all natural, as opposed to the more modern man made pesticides which would be considered non-organic.  (Many scientists in the industry claim that the non-organic pesticides are actually safer for human consumption.)  Time will tell which is better for us…

For now, let’s discuss these two organic wines that we found at Wegman’s Pub this past weekend.  Let’s start with the Green Truck Petite Syrah.  According to Green Truck, “organic farming requires a commitment to a method of farming that eliminates dependence on chemical fertilizers and toxic fungicides and insecticides in favor of natural practice.”  The Petite Syrah Grapes were organically grown at the Mendocino County vineyards by the Barra family and the grapes underwent gentle de-stemming and crushing.  Unfortunately, the Green Truck Petite Syrah was basically flat and completely lacked any complexity.  The scent of the wine was solid and sharp, but the rest was all downhill.  Tasting Notes: Mild, smooth, not very grainy, with a thin mouthfeel and having legs in the glass.  Flat and watered down, more like  unsweetened grape juice.  The Green Truck Petite Syrah has no body and no structure.  This is a below average table wine and we most likely would try it again.  Retail price $12.00

parducci wines Disappointing Organic Wines: Parducci Sustainable Red & the Green Truck Petite SirahThe Parducci Sustainable Red was definitely better than the Green Truck but nothing to write home about.  The Parducci Sustainable Red is a red table wine and the Parducci Vineyards are locally owned and operated in California’s Mendocino County.  Parducci practices “sustainable winegrowing, protecting the environment and supporting our communities and local farmers.”  The Parducci table red has a slight bite, and a bit of flavor with a better concistency than the Green Truck but overall is flat with no aroma.  This organic wine was also a bit disappointing and we would not go out of our way to try this again.  Retail price $11.00




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Featured New Years Eve Champagne: The Lamarca Prosecco

Lamarca Prosecco 202x300 Featured New Years Eve Champagne: The Lamarca ProseccoA Light & Refreshing Prosecco for all Champagne Drinkers

By Matt Goldstein & Amy K. Haight

The Lamarca Prosecco is a sparkling wine made in the Trevisio area of Northern Italy from the Prosecco grape.  Prosecco is best consumed soon after production while it still retains its youthful fruitiness and stimulating acidity, just like all champagne and sparkling wines as they are already aged to their peak by the time they reach the shelves.  That’s right, there’s no need to age champagne, it’s better to drink it now!  In 2007 La Marca Prosecco was awarded a “Top 100 wines of the Year” by Wine Spectator and in 2010 considered “One of the fruitiest and one of the most aromatic” by the Wall Street Journal.  Made from 100% Prosecco grapes harvested in early September, then sourced from hundreds of small vineyards throughout the region the Lamarca Prosecco was started from a wine growing cooperative.

The Lamarca Prosecco is a light grayish Bache in color with just a hint of gold.  The flavor is Light in fruit and a very slight dry, showing some complexity.   With a good but crispness, the Lamarca Prosecco gets sweeter the more you sip.  This is a very nice glass of bubbly.  Subtle and mild, this is the type of champagne that would appeal to the masses.  Light and refreshing, perfect for beginners and the experienced, the Lamarca Prosecco is a well rounded, balanced and subtle sparkling wine and we would drink it again and again.  For $15, it’s a very solid buy and we absolutely recommend it.

Tasting Notes from Lamarca:

This sparkling wine is pale, golden straw in color. Bubbles are full textured and persistent. On the nose the wine brings fresh citrus with hints of honey and white floral notes. The flavor is fresh and clean, with ripe citrus, lemon, green apple, and touches of grapefruit, minerality, and some toast. The finish is light, refreshing, and crisp.

Recommended Cuisine:

La Marca Prosecco has the charm to stand alone as an aperitif, but it also has the body and the acidity to match well with a range of fragrant and spicy dishes. Try it with seafood, mild cheeses and any tomato-rich dish, or even with fruit-based desserts.

Finished Wine:

Varietal Content: 100% Prosecco 

Varietal Origin: IGT Veneto 

Alcohol: 11.30% by vol. 

Residual Sugar: 1.7 g/100ml 

Total Acidity: .58 g/100ml 

pH: 3.2 




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Morton’s Steakhouse Perfect Red Wine for the Holidays: Ponzi Vineyards Pinto Noir

Mortons Steakhouse Morton’s Steakhouse Perfect Red Wine for the Holidays: Ponzi Vineyards Pinto NoirBy Sommelier & Mixologist Sara Fasolino

In the new Morton’s Steakhouse blog, Sommelier and certified mixologist Sara Fasolino kicks some serious knowledge when it comes to pairing food & wine, making cocktails and killing it with the best drinks at the holiday party.  “In yesterday’s blog, I recommended Pinot Noir as a red wine for your holiday party, because it’s a well-liked wine by most everyone.  So I wanted to feature a Pinot in today’s issue of ‘Wine Wednesday’…the Ponzi Tavola Pinot Noir.  It’s a nice choice for any get-together, and we also offer this on our ‘Wines by the Glass‘ list.”


Ponzi Vineyards

Ponzi Vineyard Pinot Noir 191x300 Morton’s Steakhouse Perfect Red Wine for the Holidays: Ponzi Vineyards Pinto NoirREGION

Willamette Valley




Ponzi Vineyards is a family-owned and operated winery

Their Pinot Noir is recognized by top critics, and every vintage receives strong accolades

They have a long-standing reputation for delivering the highest quality

LIVE certified sustainable vineyards and Salmon Safe


“Perfumed nose of spiced cherry, red raspberry, clove, licorice and sandalwood. A bright mouth of red currant and plum lead to a soft, lingering finish.” – Winemaker Luisa Ponzi




92 pts and “Best Buy” from Wine & Spirits

Best of luck as you prepare for your holiday feast with friends and family.  If you choose to pour Ponzi Pinot Noir, I think you and your guests will be highly satisfied.  Happy holidays!


Sara Fasolino

Beverage Manager/Certified Sommelier and Mixologist

Morton’s The Steakhouse




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Featured Wine of the Week: The Banfi Chianti Classico Reserva

Banfi Chianti Classico Reserva 185x300 Featured Wine of the Week: The Banfi Chianti Classico ReservaA Blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo Nero & Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes

By Matt Goldstein

When choosing Chianti, the first rule is to always choose a Riserva.  A Chianti Reserva has been aged at least 27 months in the winery and has much more character as a wine.  The Riserva Chianti might be a few more dollars but it’s worth it, as the complexity of the wine, more than makes up for it.  The second rule for drinking Chianti is to always let it breath.  Most red wines should breathe for a few minutes but the Chianti must breathe for at least 30 minutes to reach its full potential.  Open the bottle of wine, and don’t touch it for 30 minutes.  When you pour the Chianti in your glass, make sure you swirl it around a bit.  You can also swirl the bottle.  The glass swirling does not make you a wine snob; it just makes the wine good.  As evident with all Chianti’s the Banfi Chianti Classico Reserva was flat and almost flavorless when first opened.  However, after it opened for about a half hour, the wine reached its full complex potential.  This is a solid wine with a well balanced dry and bitterness in the finish.  Most all Chianti’s are made with the Sangiovese grape, about 70-80% of the blend.  The other grapes in the Banfi Riserva are the  Canaiolo Nero and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  This is a solid wine for $15 but we probably wouldn’t pay $20 for it.  The Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva is worth a try, just make sure you let it breath.


About the Banfi  Chianti Classico Reserva


Almost exclusively Sangiovese.


The alcoholic fermentation with a medium period of maceration is followed by 2 years of aging in Slavonian oak barrels (60-120 hl). The wine concludes its evolution with an at least 6-month bottle aging.


Colour: mauve red. Bouquet: intense with notes of vanilla, liquorice and chocolate. Taste: round, spicy, elegant and well structured.


Celebrating the best Tuscan tradition Banfi offers a family of Chianti wines varied and complementary, unique in its style. Chianti Riserva is produced from selected grapes grown in the “Classico” region of Chianti between Siena and Firenze. It is elegant, well-balanced, full-bodied with a very long aging potential.


It superbly accompanies meat dishes and typical Tuscan cuisine.

Alcohol content: 12,5 to 13% vol. following the season condition.

Available formats: 0,75 l




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Champagne & Wine Sales Soar to Near Record Highs!

champagne toast sparkling wine bubbles 268x300 Champagne & Wine Sales Soar to Near Record Highs!Americans Spend More per Bottle despite Recession

By Matt Goldstein

Sales of Champagne and wine have been soaring towards record levels in 2011 and American exports are benefitting.  The majority of California wine goes overseas and to Europe respectively however, wine sales in China are also climbing significantly.  So what if China wants to put a tariff on American cars, let’s just get them drunk and they won’t be able to drive.  Champagne sales in the U.S. are up 22% with the French wine & spirit company LVMH Moet Hennessey Luis Vuitton having the biggest impact on sales.  Americans are now purchasing $30-50 bottles of wine and Champagne at record levels.  The overall numbers in luxury Champagnes also indicate an increase in sales of luxury items across the board including, wines, spirits, clothing, jewelry and more.   Maybe the recession is over, maybe the economic recovery is in full effect, and maybe the drunks in China are about to shower Napa Valley with gold.  No matter how you slice it, Americans and China both are drinking a much better product and their willing to pay for it.

Source: MSNBC




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Featured Red Wine of the Week: The Michael David Petite Sirah Blend

Michael David Petit Syrah 300x233 Featured Red Wine of the Week: The Michael David Petite Sirah BlendRecommended By the Sommelier at the Union Trust Steakhouse

The Michael David Winery in Lodi California is now producing 18 different types of wine and  over 600 hundred acres.  The Michael David Petite Petit is a blend of 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot.  This Syrah is full bodied and full flavored, but just slightly dry.  With hints of fruits and vanilla, this is a rich and beautiful finish, especially for only $15 retail, it’s also a perfect red wine for a steak dinner, as recommended by the Sommelier at Union Trust, the best steakhouse in Philadelphia.

“The vineyards are irrigated by the Mokelumne River, which carries crystal-clear water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, depositing minerals into the rich soils upon which the grapes thrive.”  We  recommend the Michael David Petit Petite Syrah blend as it’s an excellent buy for $15.


Michael Lodi Wine Grapes 200x300 Featured Red Wine of the Week: The Michael David Petite Sirah Blend85% Petite Sirah

15% Petit Verdot











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Pairing Seafood & Wine: A Burgundy Chardonnay with Lobster

chardonnay burgundy white wine Pairing Seafood & Wine: A Burgundy Chardonnay with Lobster

Louis Jadot Meursault: A Grand Chardonnay

By Master Sommelier George Miliotes

Capital Grille’s Master Sommelier George Miliotes discusses pairing lobster, and unquestionably, Chardonnay is said to be the classic and ideal wine pairing.  A Lobster recipe is stuffed with bay scallops, shrimp, fresh herbs and a touch of parmesan cheese, and served with flavorful, roasted chanterelle mushrooms, Miliotes it shouldn’t just be any Chardonnay.  There are few food combinations in the world more decadent than the plush sweetness of lobster and the rich earthiness of chanterelles, and the wine you choose to accompany them has to be equally decadent.

Chardonnay is produced all over the world, but arguably the finest in the world hails from the prime wine-growing regions of Burgundy, France, and the Santa Maria Bench in California.  For those who enjoy a structured Chardonnay, Master Miliotes recommends Louis Jadot Meursault from Burgundy—a full-bodied wine with notes of oak and vanilla with an exotic, nutty finish. For those who prefer a rich, ripe wine with tropical fruit aromas and flavors, Cambria Estate Winery produces magnificent vintages from grapes grown in the Chardonnay-loving soil of Katherine’s Vineyard.

Old World and New World Chardonnays with very different profiles, but a mutual love for lobster. Uncork a little sophistication this season.




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Featured Wine of the Week: Casillero del Diablo Syrah

casillero del diablo wines 300x163 Featured Wine of the Week: Casillero del Diablo SyrahWorld’s Most Recognized Chilean Wine Brand

By Matt Goldstein

Casillero del Diablo wineries are the most recognized Chilean wine brand and for good reason.  There are multiple wines from Diablo available for under $15 and some for even $10.  Chilean and Argentinean wines have exploded in popularity, much because of the quality but also because of the price.  Simply put, wines from Napa Valley are on average more expensive because of the cost of land and labor.  Chile and Argentina have taken advantage of the lower price range but still maintain excellent quality wines.  Our featured wine of the week, Casillero del Diablo Syrah, costs about $12 retail and is available throughout the United States.  Made by Concha Y Toro wineries, Casillero del Diablo Syrah is flavorful, slightly bitter and complex with hints of chocolate and pepper and perfectly matched with spicy foods, and or red meats.  This is a solid wine for about $12.  We would definitely drink it again, but probably wouldn’t pay $15 for it.  Casillero del Diablo translates to Cellar of the Devil.


Production Area: Rapel Valley, Chile.

Grape Variety: 100% Syrah.

 Description: Casillero del Diablo Reserva Syrah is an opaque purple wine with well developed, densely packed black fruit notes on the nose. The palate is round and mouth-filling with ample black cherry, currant and cedar flavors mixed with sweet tannins and finished with lively acidity for balance.


Casillero del Diablo offers wine lovers the very special opportunity to participate in the propagation of a century old legend known throughout the world. In the 19th century, the founder of Concha y Toro, Don Melchor, discovered that his vineyard workers were sampling his greatest wines. To discourage this action, Melchor spread the rumor that his deepest, darkest cellar was the Casillero del Diablo (Cellar of the Devil), so that no one would dare go in there. It worked, and a legend was born. Today this mysterious and legendary cellar continues to hold the finest wines of Casillero del Diablo.




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Restaurant Quick Hits: Mt Airy’s The Wine Thief Bistro

wine thief bistro mt airy philadelphia Restaurant Quick Hits: Mt Airy’s The Wine Thief Bistro$3 Glasses of Wine for Happy Hour

By Matt Goldstein & Amy K. Haight

The strip on Germantown Ave in Mt Airy Philadelphia is starting to pop.  With McMenamin’s Tavern, the Earth Bread and Brewery, Umbriah, and the Wine Thief, there is no need to look further for a downtown style food and drink at an excellent price.  The Wine Thief’s happy hour is absolutely ridiculous.  $3 glasses of wine before 6 pm.  Really?  $3?  When was the last time you had a glass of wine for $3?  We don’t even understand how they could possible make money at that rate.  As well, the wines they serve for happy hour are usually right off of their own wine list, which is always reasonable and selected well.

The wines featured for the happy hour we attended recently were the Bodegas Callia Malbec from Argentina and the Table Leaf Chardonnay.  The Malbec was crisp, full flavored and slightly dry.  For $3 per glass it’s a steal.  You might be able to find this bottle for about $10 in the store, so if you’re looking for a malbec to not break the bank, give it a try.  The Chardonnay was solid, perhaps not as crisp as we were looking for, but still very drinkable.  And again, at $3 per glass, it’s still a great deal.

We started with the Pita Nachos with ezpazote, black beans, & avocado salsa.  Excellent!  It’s a must try.  Then we had the Mac N’ Cheese appetizer (a special that was not on the menu that night, but we spied it on someone else’s plate and it just looked so good we had to order it.)  Normally we wouldn’t order a 2nd appetizer in place of a meal, but when I saw the dish, it really wasn’t a choice.  Then we had the homemade veggie burger.  The burger patty was literally put together by hand in the Wine Thief kitchen.  It was interesting, unique and tasty, and it was served with hand-cut fries that were delicious.

And if the awesome menu and outrageous wine bargains weren’t enough, the nightly viewing of TJ Hooker at the Wine Thief will keep us coming back.  It may be the best part of the night.  Forget sports; the clothes and haircuts alone on this classic 80s show can keep you in a conversation for the entire dinner, not to mention the cameos by some old school actors.

On side note, we also read some great reviews about the fried chicken and meatloaf, which we are definitely trying when we go back.  All in all, we had two appetizers, a veggie burger, and four glasses of wine for a total of $35.  The Wine Thief has excellent food and drink for an excellent price and we’re already planning a return trip.  Also, when it’s not happy hour, the prices at the Wine Thief are still very reasonable.  There were about 4-5 glasses of wine for about $7.  It’s worth a try at anytime.




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