Travel & Tasting Notes From A Couple of Wine Lovers

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A Tale of 2 Roses

IMG_20170704_124723459Celebrating American independence from England with French Rose at Eastern Standard.  Chateau Pigoudet Grenache/Cinsault “Premiere” from Provence for Lisa and Dom. Roumagnac Negrette and Syrah “Authentique” from Fronton (SW France.)

The Authentique? Lots of flinty limestone with gentle nectarine/ strawberry notes. Medium salmon color with a fresh nose. Terrific with grilled cheese or any other cheese of your choice. Fronton is an AOC unto itself in Southwest France, within the Aquitaine region. At $11 a glass and about that for a bottle in the stores, it’s a bargain.

And the Premiere? Lighter salmon color, honeydew and granite on the nose.  Dry as a bone, lemongrass and mineral flavors.



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Plonk Plonk Fizz Fizz Part 3 – The Fizz

anaAnd now, the Fizz. If you’ve been tasked with bringing the bubbly to a cookout, birthday or pool party and want to keep the price under $15 a bottle, here are three inexpensive options. We recommend two of them and  our clear favorite [and the cheapest] is Anna Codorniu Reserva Blanc de Blancs Brut Cava.

Happy summer everyone!





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Plonk Plonk Fizz Fizz Part 2 – The Reds

IMG_20170417_203400373Our journey into red plonk territory wasn’t nearly as successful as the whites were. Of the four wines we tasted, just one was worth buying– the Brigaldara Valpolicella Classico 2014. But even there, the vote was a split decision. Gary liked it enough to buy again, Lisa would drink it again if placed directly in front of her. 

Can anyone out there in VinoDuo land recommend an under $12 red worth drinking?  Drop us a line and we’ll do a taste test and report back.


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Plonk Plonk Fizz Fizz

Summer and wine go together like, well, winter and wine, or spring and wine. Wine is a treat for all seasons. But in the summer, even serious $30+ a bottle wine lovers can warm up to a $10 Catalan Garnaxta or an $8 Portuguese Vinho Verde. it’s warm. It’s sunny. And after 2 glasses, even $8 plonk tastes yummy. What’s plonk? Often derided as “cheap wine” and “crappy wine,” VinoDuo likes to think of plonk as cheap wine that’s worth trying and savoring. To help readers separate the junk from the jewels, we’ve tested 10 wines—and recommend five—that sell for $12 or less and are readily available at your local wine shop.

And for our readers under 50, Plonk Plonk Fizz Fizz is a play on a famous Alka-Seltzer commercial: Plop Plop Fizz Fizz, Oh What a Relief It Is. We can’t guarantee you’ll like this plonk, but after a long day at work, we do guarantee relief in every glass.

First Up, Plonk [whites]

We tasted three wines and recommend two–Le Jardin d’Etoile Sauvignon Blanc 2015 and Ponte Vinho Verde ‘Branco’ 2016.




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Yes, Bad Wines are Bad. But Cheap Good Wine is Good.

VinoDuo is all about drinking good wine that doesn’t cost a lot of money (vs. bad wine that doesn’t cost a lot of money.) Love Eric Asimov’s column but stay tuned for VinoDuo’s Plonk Plonk Fizz Fizz series on $10 wine you can drink with pleasure and serve with pride.





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Wente’s Not-Quite-Napa Cab a Great Value

The Livermore Valley wine region of Northern California could be deemed the Anti-Napa, with its less than pristine wineries, few luxury B+B’s and minimal foodie culture. What the Valley does have, however, is a low-key vibe, family-owned wineries and one big-name draw–Wente Vineyards. Founded in 1883 and now run by 4th and 5th generation family winemakers, Wente produces more than 800,000 cases a year, dwarfing all other Livermore Valley producers combined.

VinoDuo has visited Wente twice, most recently a year ago March. We flipped for the 2012 Sonata, a Syrah-Cab Franc blend and the 2013 Serenity, a deep, complex wine made from Syrah, Grenache, and Counoise grapes. Sonata and Serenity are “small lot” labels, with prices in the $50-$60 range. That’s a bit out of the VinoDuo buying budget so we recently purchased Wente’s Charles Wetmore 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon ($25/bottle) to try out on some Napa Cab-loving friends. The wine is 77% Cabernet Sauvignon with small contributions of Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, and Merlot.



Gary, Ron and Raul Taste the Wente Cab


The nose served up an interesting combo of tobacco and florals, with sumptuous flavors of plum and cherry. Our friend the Napa Snob loved it at first taste but thought it died on the finish, while Gary agreed with the winery’s tasting notes that it had a “long smooth finish.”  The bottle disappeared very quickly as it paired nicely with the homemade grilled steak and chicken fajitas. For $25, the 2013 Charles Wetmore Cab is a strong contender for a great weekend wine value. If you see it on a local wine list, don’t hesitate to order it.

The Wente Charles Wetmore 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon retails for $25 and is available throughout the US.