Travel & Tasting Notes From A Couple of Wine Lovers

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An Ancient New White Wine.

New to VinoDuo, that is.  Greco di Tufo, from the Campania region of Italy, has a 2,000 year pedigree. But Lisa discovered it today at Il Casale in Lexington, Mass.

Golden color, pleasing mouth feel but not heavy, a little fruit and lots of minerals. But not minerally. Strange but pleasing combo ideal for a light meal or cheese course.  Not great sipping alone. Great alternative to Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio…for which there should ALWAYS be an alternative.



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A Rosé for All Seasons

We were disappointed to learn that the Nordstrom in Burlington had closed the stylish Blue Stove restaurant, a small plates and wine haunt for VinoDuo. A few years back, Lisa discovered Whispering Angel rosé at Blue Stove and it quickly became a favorite before the wine took a dive into sweet and sad. The Blue Stove replacement is Bazille, a slightly cheaper, slightly more mainstream restaurant with the same sleek bar and a brand new wine list. Thankfully, Whispering Angel was gone. In its place, a Provencal rosé from Jean-Luc Colombo. And damn if it didn’t suck Lisa in too.

IMG_20180103_155335622.jpgThe Cape Bleue 2016 is produced in Marseilles with the classic Rhone grapes Syrah (67%) and Mourvèdre (33%). Colombo has been dubbed the “Winemaking Wizard of the Rhone” and he obviously waved his wand over the Cape Bleue. There’s a bit of limestone and peach on the nose. Dry but not bone dry. Subtle but not boring. Salmon colored but not fishy 🙂  Lots of fresh fruit on the nose, dominant peach and a hint of honeysuckle. If the Arugula Salad with Lump Crab and Avocado had taken any longer to arrive, Lisa would have licked the glass dry.  Unlike the burst-of-summer rosés she gravitates towards, the Cape Bleue has enough heft to get her through the winter.

And this wine is so cheap! At $9/$10 a bottle (less than Bazille charges for one glass!) we’ve found our new house rosé.

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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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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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Vida Longa Vinho Verde

The Vinho Verde region of Portugal has been producing wine for 2,000+ years. VinoDuo has been drinking Vinho Verde wine for three years, and we wonder how we ever got through a summer without it. “Verde” translates to green, but in this case it refers to a young wine, released just 3 to 6 months after harvest. Light, fresh, with a slight frizzante to tickle your palate, Vinho Verde is versatile–great sipping on its own and a wonderful companion to lighter meals. Oh, we’ve never paid more than $10 for a bottle. And 188.jpgwe’ve never tasted a bad one…although we continually do research to find a loser!

Our current fave is Ponte Branco Vinho Verde 2015. Made from Loureiro and Trajadura grapes, it’s a light straw-colored gem, crisp and lively, with hints of citrus. Polished off in under an hour with manchego cheese and a willing friend, the Ponte Branco has earned a place in the summer deck wine rotation.

 Sells for $8-12 retail.

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Eastern Europe Lands in Boston

Note: Following is a favorite post from 2014.

Eastern European blood runs through both members of VinoDuo’s veins, though it’s more Jewish shtetl than rolling vineyards. So when Lisa saw that a handful of winemakers from the old country were exhibiting at the Boston Wine Expo 2014, she made a beeline for their tables and never left. Nothing like discovering an entirely new wine region to make a blogger grin, purple tongue and all.

First stop was Georgia, in the Caucasus region. Apparently Georgia is the Old, Old World wine region, calling itself the first wine producing country in the world. With 7,000 years of winemaking history, the Georgians have had plenty of time to hone their craft. And despite agricultural and geopolitical catastrophes in the recent past, the wine presented by Khareba Winery was, on the whole delightful. But with no U.S. distributor, Khareba’s wines aren’t yet available stateside. If you want to sip Lisa’s favorites, you’ll have to go to Tbilisi.

monastery-krakhunaKhareba produces its 20+ wines in two distinct geographic regions—Kakheti in the East and Imereti in the West—using both ancient and modern winemaking styles. The traditional Georgian method of winemaking uses a qvevri, a large, egg-shaped clay vessel lined with beeswax and buried in the ground, for fermentation, maceration and storage of wine. These skin-fermented white wines have become something of a fad in U.S. winebars, where they’re marketed as “orange wines.” In Georgia, they’re just called “wine.”

What to Drink
Lisa sampled a mish-mash of Khareba wines from the East and West, using the ancient method and the modern European style. Her favorites crossed geography, methodology, and grape.


  • Krakhuna Monastary Wine – a dry white wine from the Western region; fermented and aged for 8 months in Amphora (Qvevri) with 5% of its skins. Far from being “orange” the Krakhuna (name of the grape) produced in the West of the country is a delicate light color, with a lovely floral nose and limestone on the palate. Full-bodied and bone dry, sedate; not a sipping wine.
  • Krakhuna 2013 – Same grape, same region, different method (stainless tanks). Totally different profile. Pale and dry but a lively palate, nice citrus tones. A great “deck wine.”
  • Rkatsiteli 2013 – From the East comes this wine in production since 1892. Made in the European style the Rkatsiteli (grape name) was light, almost transparent but full of flavor. Floral nose and dry as a bone. Great with fish. Interestingly, the Rkatsiteli Monastary 2011 made in the qvevri style was bitter, with less flavor.


  • Saperavi 2011 – A dry red wine from the East, the Saperavi (grape name) was a beautiful deep cherry color and bursting with red fruit aromas.
  • Saperavi Chateau Marko 2010 – Billed by Khareba’s rep as “Stalin’s favorite wine” [note to Khareba marketers: Stalin is not a come-on in the USA] the Chateau Marko is made in the European style, with both aged (20% in French oak) and un-aged grapes. Dry and smooth, with good balance. I’d serve it with a lamb stew if Stalin were coming for dinner.

While not exactly part of our Zaydes’ “old country,” Slovenia is in Eastern Europe—and a winemaking country on the move. Independent since the 1991 breakup of Yugoslavia, Slovenia borders Italy to the west, Austria to the north, Hungary to the east, and Croatia to the south. Slovenian lore claims that winemaking began there in the 4th century BC and it was Slovenians…not Georgians…who first made wine. Let them duke it out. At least they’re fighting about wine, not religion.

At the Boston Wine Expo, a delightful rep. from Laureate Imports Co., a Georgia- (not Georgian) based importer, presented two Slovenian brands, Avia and Colliano. Both wineries are situated in Goriska Brda, the western-most wine region bordering Italy, and share Italy’s topography and Mediterranean climate. Avia and Colliano are both value-priced wines, with no bottle priced above $15 and many coming in under $7 on US shelves.

What to Drink
B22895White wine dominates Slovenian production. Lisa sampled two each from Colliano and Avia and found them all too sweet for her taste. If your palate favors sweet, here are two pleasing wines to try.

  • Avia Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – Light, pale color that looks like a Sauvignon Blanc but tasted more like an unoaked Chardonnay.  $6/bottle   Note: The 2011 is still available for $9; the 2012 is $6…going down?
  • Colliano Ribolla Gialla – Grape is native to the Italy/Slovenia border region; light golden color, citrus and soft fruit on the palate. Might be a fun deck wine on a hot summer day.   $14/bottle

VERUS_Steklenice_slovenske_SIPON.pngSlovenia Footnote
We just picked up a bottle of Verus Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2013. Light, almost fizzy wine with a hint of citrus and some stone fruit. Good minerality (if you like minerality, which Lisa does and Gary doesn’t.) Far more interesting than the Avia SB and, at $14, worth the doubling of price.