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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best wishes for the coming New Year 2011.

Reno Spiteri & granddaughter Julia wish all of you a
Very Successful & Happy New Year 2011.
I have not posted any features these last couple of weeks due to the Festive Season's commitments.
I have a few features in preparation on various wine topics and shall continue with the popular features "A Taste of:.." in January. I have reviewed selected premium wines from Campania, Piedmonte, Malta, more from Tuscany and Sicily, and some others are also lined up from other countries and regions.

I shall be changing the large photo display of the Vina' Tondonia White Gran Riserva 1964 at the beginning of the year, so if you are a wine producer, anywhere in the world, and wishes me to display your topmost, premium wine brand for six months at the head of this website, contact me on for further details.

In the meantime, I wish everyone that follows this website, wine producers, wine enthusiasts and afficionados, sponsors and friends a VERY SUCCESSFUL AND HAPPY NEW YEAR 2011.
Happy New Year to all. Thanks for your support.

Next feature due first week of January. Stay tuned.

Best Regards & Heartful Best Wishes,

Reno Spiteri.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Taste of Italy: TUSCANY (1).

Sangiovese grape variety cluster.
TUSCANY is the quintessential Italian wine region and is the home of three of Italy's most important wines: Chianti; Brunello di Monatlcino; and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. It is also the home of the "Super Tuscans", a range of IGT non-traditional wines that are superlative in quality.

The Sangiovese grape variety is the most important red grape in this region, and apart from its use in the production of the above three, major, traditional wines, it is considered to be one of the greatest red grapes in Italy.

Since the 1970's and 80' when the major winemakers of Italy decided to produce wines of a much higher quality than in the past, and with the advent of the new Italian wine classification laws coming into play, not only were the traditional wines improved to world class calibre but this era gave birth to a high quality wine which was produced outside the norms and rules in an untraditional manner. These are the so called "Super Tuscans", which apart from being superlative wines, are in most cases quite expensive.

With so much excellent red wines being produced in Tuscany, with the exception of the region's famous and unique dessert wine, known as Vin Santo, white wine has been mostly an aftertought for both wine producers and wine drinkers. Therefore, although some very good and exciting white wine is being produced in small quantities from mainly Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and from Tuscany's traditional Vernacchia di San Giminiano grape varieties, we shall at this stage deal with examples of three of the top Tuscan red wines and a sample of the sweet Vin Santo.

Chianti Selections: Riserva, Classico and Chianti
To understand these wines we have to emphasise the fact that the Sangiovese grape varietal comes in different clones, and that the main ones differ enormously in flavour. The major Sangiovese clones are the "Sangioveto", which is one of the clones found in the production of the very best Chiantis. Chianti wine comes under names of Chianti Riserva, Chianti Classico and just Chianti, all boasting the coveted DOCG classification, although most vary in taste and quality depending on the blend, and the calibre of the Sangiovese grape vintage which must provide 85% or more of the wine blend.
For the production of Brunello di Montalcino we have the "Brunello" clone; and the "Prugnolo" clone is used in the production of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Trebiano and Malvasia vines have been planted over a period of many years for the production of the white and sweet dessert wine Vin Santo.

The four wines that we have under review in this first feature about Tuscany, are produced by:
CANTINE LEONARDO DA VINCI of Vinci, Florence, Tuscany:


Da Vinci Chianti Riserva 2006.
This wine is an extremely supple wine, which in my opinion is less tannic than a Cabernet Sauvignon and more elegant than a Syrah or a Merlot wine. It contains excellent balance and good acidity that cleans the palate and makes one want to eat and enjoy food more. Hence, Tuscany's traditional seven course lunches and dinners, with selections of antipasti, primo piatti for various pasta and ravioli with ricotta and different sauces, secondi of bistecca ala fiorentina, grilled chicken, roast lamb; accompanied by selections of fresh vegetables; various dolci fatti in casa (desserts), fresh fruit, cheeses and coffee.

The Da Vinci Chianti Riserva is only produced if vintages are good and the Da Vinci Riserva 2006 is produced from pure "Sangioveto" Sangiovese grapes. This vintage has won the International Wine Challenge 2009 Bronze medal and the AWC Vienna 2009 Silver Medal. The 2004 Riserva which we have also taste- tested was also produced from 85% pure Sangiovese grapes, 10% Merlot and a 5%  blend of Syrah, Canaiolo and Colorino grapes.

The 2006 Da Vinci Chianti Riserva 2006 DOCG is ruby red in colour, full-bodied and with a distincly fruity bouquet of ripe cherries with hints of vanilla and cinamon. On the palate the wine is spicy yet mellow, with hints of chocolate, cherry and prunes and a little salt. The finish is lingering with balanced tannins and good acidity.

Alcohol content: 13% by volume.
Serving temperature: 18 deg. C.
Price range: Eur16.



A taste of Brunello di Montalcino.
The dark one, or as it is more commonly known BRUNELLO, is Tuscany's most exalted wine. It is considered to be Tuscany's rarest and most expensive range of wines. It is made in Montalcino, hence the official name and classification of Brunello di Montalcino. This region is some two hours drive from the Chianti Classico region.

Brunello di Montalcino is based on the Sangiovese - Brunello clone- alone, and unlike Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, other grape varieties are not blended in with the Brunello Siangiovese grape varietal to layer in more flavour in weak vintage years. In good years, the brunello clone, yields a lavish full-bodied wine, with more structure, texture and complexity than Chianti, having splendid aromas and flavour.

The Da Vinci Brunello di Montalcino 2005 DOCG, is clear and purple red, with orange shades that are typical of all excellent red wines. It is produced from 100% pure "Brunello" Sangiovese grapes, handpicked and sourced from the small hillside in the commune of Montalcino. The wine takes a long, careful time to be produced with fermentation and maceration taking about 15 to 20 days with frequent pumping over. Fermentation then takes place in 100% stainless steels tanks under controlled conditions to ensure excellent colour and good tannins. Once fermented the wine is then aged in oak barrels for two years. After this period the wine spends three years aging in the bottle prior to its release.

The wine has a rich bouquet of chocolate, blackberry and cherrys,. On the palate it is full-bodied and well balanced with strong tannins and good acidity, with tastes of cinamom, spice and black pepper. It has a very elegant, long and persistent finish with an excellent aftertaste of fruit.

Alcohol content: 13% by volume.
Serving Temperature: 18 Deg. C.
Price range: Eur36.


3. STO. IPPOLITO - TOSCANA 2006 IGT. (Super-Tuscan).

Da Vinci Super-Tuscan Sto. Ippolito 2006.
Super-Tuscan wines are classified as IGT wines, but nevertheless they are some of the very best and most expensive wines on the market. Choosing a Super-Tuscan is a matter of taste as the blends vary in accordance with the winemakers' own formula, and may and may not contain Sangiovese in the final blend. What one can say at this stage is, that the Super-Tuscan concept is no longer the sole preserve of the world famous Sassicaia or Tignanello, as other producers in Tuscany are producing and introducing various excellent wines which fall under this category. Super-Tuscans are made in an international style, generally dense and powerful, packed with tannins and good acidity and imparting that vanilla flavour which is eminated to the wine by new oak barriques in which the wine is matured.

The SANTO IPPOLITO-TOSCANA 2006 IGT Super-Tuscan is produced from a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Merlot grapes, grown and harvested on the small hilly area of Sto. Ippolito near Florence.
Maceration takes place on the skins for some 20 days with frequent, gentle pumping over to maintain good colour, supple tannis and the rich fruit aromas and flavours that are characteristic to both grape varieties.
The wine is then matured for twelve months in 2.25 hectolitre barrique, after which it is racked into bottles without fining or filtration. The wine is aged for a further six months before release.

Purple-red in colour, with good depth and legs on the glass indicating a strong structure. On the nose one immediately senses  red fruit perfumes, with spicy oaky vanilla and black pepper, and toasted oak. On the palate it is savoury and soft at the same time with a strong, ripe and  fruity taste. Tannis, acidity and alcohol are perfectly balanced, giving a lenghty and elegant finish.

Alcohol content: 13%
Serving Temperature : 18 Deg.C
Price range: Eur20.


FOOD PAIRING: The above three traditional wines of Tuscany pair well with roast lamb; roast beef and grilled prime steaks; bistecca fiorentina; game; mature Pecorino and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses; dishes containing truffle; pasta with red and meat sauces. Strong and flavoured vegetable dishes. Typical and traditional Tuscany cuisine.


The best known sweet wine in Italy is known as Vin Santo, or holy wine. It is so named as it has been drunk by catholic priests for centuries during the celebration of Holy Mass. Vin Santo in Tuscanny is the customary finale' to every decent meal in this region, and is served after dessert with an espresso coffee.

Da Vinci VinSanto Dessert wine.
The Da Vinci VinSanto - Bianco Dell' Empolese DOC 2004,  is produced from a blend of the best clusters of Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes which after carefull handpicking are dried for several days or weeks in the vinsantale to remove all water from the grapes to retain only the nectar prior to pressing, maturing and aging. The result is a superb, rich, amber coloured dessert wine.

This sweet, white, dessert wine is amber in colour, having an intense fragrance of honey and hazelnuts, and with rich, creamy and delicate flavours on the palate as diverse as a selection of honey-roasted nuts and sweet chile raisins. The taste is well rounded and balanced.

Alcohol content: 16.5% by volume.
Price range: Eur28
Food pairing: Desserts and after dinner coffee, espressos.


A taste of Tuscan wines for the enthusiast and afficionado.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Taste of Sicily (1).

Nero D'Avola Ripe Grape Bunch.
Sicily is the land where the Medeterranean Triumvirate of Wine, Olive Oil and Bread, is the most apparent. The island's hilly terrain, poor soil and persistent sunlight are tailor made for the production of all three Italian necessities.
For many years, Sicily like many other regions in the south of Italy, suffered from the same mentality that quantity mattered more than quality. Consequently in much of the twentieth century, yields in Sicilian vineyards were pushed to the limit and wine making was haphazard. Thus Sicily and several Southern Italian regions on the mainland, became infamous for the production of extremely cheap vino di tavola, (table wine) of abysmally low quality.

This massive decline in the reputation of Sicilian wines caused several serious producers to launch a mini-revolution to change the status quo in the 1970's and 80's towards the production of better quality wines.

Today, some fascinating wines are coming out of Sicily than was the case even some ten years ago, and although some of these wines are still not yet widely known, some of them rank with the best wines produced in the whole of Italy.

The quality revolution targeted among other grape varietals, the Nero D'Avola  (Calabrese') grape variety, which is an indegenious grape of Sicily. This grape was and still is the most widely planted varietal all over Sicily and consequently was prostituted and abused all over the island in the production of cheap wines by anyone who could make wine, being farmers, vineyard owners and even some commercial winemakers.

In its present cultivation, Nero D'Avola can produce some excellent wine of the highest quality having an intensive black colour, with real depth, fruitiness and appeal. This only came about by the fact that Sicilian winemakers of note, have in their employ the very best wine consultants, agronomists, viniculturists and oneologists. Success does not come easy especially in such a competitive market, and the reconstitution of shattered reputations take a long time and effort to be rebuilt.

A winemaker who has come a long way to produce and bring to the market some of the very best Sicilian wines is FEUDO MONTONI di Fabio Sireci. This winery extends over 73 hectares of prime land in the region of Montoni Vecchi in the province of Cammarata. Wine is derived from an age-old and unadulterated clone of the Nero D'Avola grape variety which has been grown for many years in the Feudo Montoni vineyards.

A premium wine of note from this winemaker which we have been following for some vintages and years is the: FEUDO MONTONI -del Principato di Villanova - NERO D'AVOLA VRUCARA IGT.
Although classified as an IGT wine, this wine ranks well above than some of the best DOCG wines of other varietals. I have taste-tested and reviewed vintages of this wine since the 2005 vintage was introduced to me, with the latest vintage recieved being the 2007 vintage.These wines can be drunk now, but although excellent in their present form, in my opinion these vintages are still very young and require more bottle aging in good cellars to bring out the full structure and complexity of such a full-bodied red wine.

Vrucara 2005 & 2007 Vintages.
The VRUCARA is produced from 100% Nero D'Avola grapes, culled from the very best vineyards of Feudo Montoni, and are handpicked primarily from old vines averaging 40 years.

Vinification: The grapes are destemmed and crushed through soft membrane. The must is then pressed and fermented with natural yeasts and left for a long maceration process on the skins lasting for 25 days under temperature controlled conditions. Malolactic fermentation is then carried out in wooden barrels to soften the acidity.

Oak Aging- is carried out for 8 months in barriques after which, the wine is transferred into larger wooden barrels for another 4 months (tonneaux).

Bottle Aging: The wine is then bottled without any fining or filtering and left to age in the bottle in the winemakers cellars for another 6 months prior to release.

This wine has a dark red, nearly inky black colour, with floral aromas and a bouquet of cherries, vanilla, and berries. On the palate the Vrucara is full-bodied, strong and elegant at the same time, with flavours of red berries, vanilla, ripe plums and chocolate. It has a high level of tannins and decent and good acidity. 

This particular Nero D'Avola wine is rich, complex and well structured, spicey and very well balanced. It has a long, unique and mellow finish which does not leave an aftertatse that would interfere with a sweet dessert after dinner. My recommendation, as with most full-bodied, premium red wines, is to open the bottle about two hours prior to serving and/or to decant it for better complexity and refinement.

Overall, the FEUDO MONTONI NERO D'AVOLA VRUCARA in any of its recent vintages resulted in an excellent premium wine for this grape varietal.

FOOD PAIRING: This wine pairs well with roast shank of lamb; roast red meats; grilled prime steaks; game and mature cheeses.
Alcoholic content by volume is: 13.5%
Price range : Eur30.

RATING: RS92 Points.

Aging potential: 10 to 15 years.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

WHITE WINES- Fish, Seafood and Shellfish.

French Selection - Burgundy whites.
Sommeliers and experts on food and wine have for many years experimented with food and wine pairings and have come to the conclusion that the perfect foods to pair with white wines are fish and seafood. But, alas, when one asks most diners as to what their preferences in white wines are, most would come out with the same stock answer of - Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or in some case a Chenin Blanc. One might ask what about Semillon, Vernacchia di San Giminiano, Greco di Tufo, a Riesling or a Muscadet, Viogner, Vermentino, a crispy Arneis, a Gavi di Gavi, or a Gewurztraminer?

Reno Spiteri's Seafood Platter Arrangement.
 But what makes white wines so perfect a pairing with fish and seafood?
As some shellfish contain iodine, this creates a problem which complicates harmonious pairings with wine. This component has a negative interaction with tannins found in red wine, as it produces a disagreeable metalic flavour on the palate, that is in mouth feel, the taste. In addition to iodine, seafood may also have a very strong flavour, so that the wine should also have a similarly strong structure and also good acidity to lower the intensity of the iodine. This acidity can be found in wines such as a Sauvignon Blanc or a Riesling, a Semillon, Chardonnay, Trebiano, a Viogner and others, which are excellent unoaked and pair well with seafood and shellfish including mussels and oysters. Wine matured in wooden, normally oak barrels or barriques, due to the implemenation of the wood notes (tastes and flavours) in the resultant wine, can be too aggressive and structured for shellfish, and are thus not perfect mates. With reference to Chardonnay, an unoaked wine choice can be suitable if the wine is drunk young to ensure good acidity.

White wine should ideally be drunk at  cooler temparatures, depending on the grape varietal. Temperatures of anything between 8 deg.C and 12 Deg. C are suitable as white wines have a more delicate texture and are lighter bodied than red wines. White wine flavours are generally fresh, citrusy, and having good acidity which gives them a light feel in the mouth, thus creating complimentary flavours and textures which in turn leads to a perfect pairing with fish, shellfish and seafood.

Fish can be classified into three categories: lean, medium-fatty and fatty.

Grilled Scorpion Fish.
 White or lean fish having a high water content are considered to be the most delicate. They have as little or even less than 2% fat per 100grams of fish fillet, which makes them easily digestible in the stomach. Little fat also means that their caloric content is less than 100 calories per 100grams. Lean fish varieties vary from country to country whereas some countries may enjoy lean fish such as cod, haddock and flounder, sole and grouper and red snapper, others might have different species. For these types of fish a delicate and subtle wine is recommended such as an unoaked Chardonnay whose fruity notes compliment perfectly the character of this type of fish. A good Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Trebiano or an excellent Arneis or a Chenin Blanc, all unoaked of course, light or medium bodied, are also good choices, especially for fish eaters who love to squeeze fresh lemon juice on their fish. Creamy sauces should be avoided when drinking unoaked white wine. Other fish types in the lean category include: Bass, Turbot, Monkfish, John Dory ( Pesce di San Pietro), and many others. Wines such as an unoaked Viogner, Vermentino, Greco di Tufo, Semillon, and others are good choices. Seafood and seashells that have a low fat content are: Clams, Crab, Lobster, scallops, shrimps, prawns, oysters and squid. If any of this fish and seafood is served with a cream sauce, as in cases of lobster and crab, then a good oak aged white wine at a temperature of 11deg. C would be your choice.

The second group of fish is the medium-fatty fish category which have some 2% to 6% fat content per 100 grams of fish fillet. Among the most common fish in this category we find: sea bream, scorpion fish, trout, swordfish, marlin, and others. Wines for this type of fish should have more chatacter and could also have a brief aging period in oak barrels, and must be served at the correct temperatures. If the fish cuisine served has a cream sauce, then wine aged in oak is the best choice. Wine choices here are numerous and depend on one's preference of the grape varietal. Light and medium bodied wines are more suitable here.

Italian Whites Selection.
Finally we have the fatty fish category. The fat content in fatty fish, seafood and seashells can vary between 8% and 15% for every 100grams and may also contain a higher caloric content of between 120 and 200 calories per 100 grams. In this category we can include salmon, tuna, sardines, mackarel, farm raised Bream (Awrata), sturgeon, and even octopus. Fat content might vary and depends from which region the fish is caught and even in what season and time of year. The texture of this fish type is fattier and more fibrous and they are best accompanied by wines with the same type of charater and structure. Other fish that are served as popular dishes in the Mediterranean area are: Amberjack (acciola); Dentex (Dentici); Wreckfish (Dott); Pilot Fish (fanfru); Corb (gurbell); Dolphin Fish (lampuka); Pandora (Pagella); Bass (spnotta); and of course there are many others. Maybe I have only mentioned the type that I like or what is mostly found in good fish and seafood restaurants. With this type of fish my wine choices would vary in accordance with how the fish is cooked, grilled, poached, steamed, baked, and the sauce served with it if any. Creamy; or red sauce with tomatos, herbs, and olives; or just plain with lemon juice. Then I pick what I might fancy at the moment, sticking to oaked wine for the creamy servings and the unoaked for the rest. Medium or full bodied wine, chilled to 11 or 12Deg.C, pairs well with this type of fish and seafood.
The list is vast. so I'm giving you here a selection of choices of white wine by body structure:
Light-Bodied White Wines:  Bordeaux white - Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle; Most Italian White wines; Muscadet; Orvieto; Pinot Grigio; Riesling;  Soave; Verdicchio; Vinho Verde.
Medium-Bodied White Wines: Albarino; Bordeaux white wines cru;  Chablis; unoaked Chardonnay; Chenin Blanc; Gewurztraminer; Macon-villages; Pinot Blanc; Pinot Gris;Pouilli-Fuisse'; Pouilly-Fume'; Sancerre; Sauvignon Blanc.
Full-Bodied White Wines: Burgundy white-Chardonnay Grand Cru; Chablis Grand Cru; Oaked Chardonnay; Viogner; Vermentino, Alsatian Pinot Gris; Gavi di Gavi (Cortese'); Greco di Tufo.

Poached Salmon Steak

Mixed Seafood.

White wines selection from Malta.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Balance: What is it in wine?

A frequently asked question by wine lovers and normal consumers, who are not necessarily wine experts or professionals is how to determine the quality of a wine, regardless of price and without the normal jargon of professional tasters and reviewers. Fair enough. Not everyone has taste buds that determine the different flavours, aromas and taste of particular fruits in a wine. What most consumers are concerned with, is the actual final taste or palate. But as in everything else tastes are subjective and differ from one person to the next. In any case, to determine if your favourite wine, produced from a particular grape variety is good or not compared to another wine made from the same varietal and possibly a different country, here are some basic hints which apply to all wines:

There are four characteristics which one should consider to assess a wine, which when taken together will bring us to the fifth and most important characteristic, viz: BALANCE.

TANNIN: The content of this substance comes from the grape skins, stems, pips and even oak barrels used for aging many wines. It is a natural preservative permitting wine improvement in the bottle. Tannin is not actually a taste but a tactile mouth sensation. The drier your mouth feels after you sip a wine, the more tannin that wine would have.

ACIDITY: All wine has a certain amount of acidity. White wines usually have more acidity than reds. If you are unsure what acidity is, smell and then taste fresh lemon juice or vinegar. If the acidity is too high, the wine is unbalanced, sour and even harsh in the mouth, but on the other hand if the acidity is too low, the wine will taste flat and insipid.

ALCOHOL: Alcohol is the wine product achieved during fermentation of the grape sugar. In Europe fermented grapes juice should reach at least 8.5% alcohol before it legally constitutes wine. The technical European legal maximum alcoholic strenght for wines that have had no alcohol (or sugar) added , is 15%.

BODY: The body or mouth-feel of a wine is an assessment of how light or heavy the wine feels in the mouth. It is related to alcohol levels. Wines that contain more alcohol (e.g. 13% plus by volume) would feel heavier in the mouth. If the body is light think of water; if it is medium think of milk; if it is full think of cream. In some cases full-bodied, premium wines leave a trace , which are sometimes referred to as fingers, inside the glass.

BALANCE: As I said before, Acidity is vital to the balance of a wine's flavour and structure, unless detrimentally affected by residual sugars in the bottle. A balanced wine is one in which none of its components dominates. That is, where tannins, acidity and alcohol, residual sugars and fruit balance each other out to give a smooth and lingering finish to the palate.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Taste of Australia: South Australia (1).

The wine regions of South Australia form a ring around the City of Adelaide and include among the most well known regions and districts like Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Eden Vale, Clare valley, Coonawara, Padthataway, Mclaren Vale and Wrattonbully. More than half of all Australian wine is produced in South Australia, including many of the country's best known Shirazes, Cabernet Sauvignons, Chardonnays and Semillons.

For this first, premium wine, tasting, review and rating feature of such a large country cum continent such as Australia, I have chosen two award winning, limited release, exceptional red wines, produced by the same winemaker, from vintage harvests of the Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties from the regions of McLaren Vale and Wrattonbully respectively.

These wines are the:

(yellow tail) by Casella Wines - McLaren Vale Shiraz 2004 - Limited Release;

and the:

(yellow tail) by Casella Wines - Wrattonbully Cabernet Sauvingnon 2004 - Limited Release.

Both these wines showcase the great winemaking talents at the Casella winery as well as the terrific vineyard resources the family draws upon from these two, of Australia's great wine producing regions. Wrattonbully is on the Limestone Coast and shares the neighbourhood with Coonawara to the South and Padthaway to the North West. These regions are renowned for their massive success with World Class harvests of Cabernet Sauvignon. McLaren Vale with its loamy soils is renowned for the finest Shiraz, for which Australia is acclaimed for all over the world. Shiraz has long been a variety that Australia produces with excellence, in fact this country, boasts the second-largest plantings of this grape variety in the world.

1. (yellow tail) by Casella Wines - Mclaren Vale Shiraz 2004 - Limited Release.

This wine has been internationally recognised for its excellent quality and concentrated flavours, and has been awarded the Gold Medal 2005 in the Royal Old Wine Show as well as more recently the highly prestigious Syrah Du Monde Gold Medal 2007.

The Syrah grapes for this wine were harvested from fifteen year old, vines from the Currency Creek and Mclaren vale regions, which are well known for their loamy soils which provide good moisture for the vines to ripen the fruit quickly and consistently. The Mediterranean type climate with the moderating influence of the sea in these regions, help to temper the summer heat. Vineyards like these are rare, and in turn make super-premiun wines.

On arrival at the winery , the hand picked grapes are de-stemmed, crushed, fermented on the skins, pressed and clarified before undergoing natural malolactic fermentation in new American oak barriques. This vintage was racked and blended into tanks before returning to oak for maturation. Final bottling took place with minimal filtration and no fining.

This wine is deeply concentrated fruit, full-bodied, with a deep dark red colour . It has aromas of ripe black cherries, blackberries, and chocolate, accentuated with fragrances of pepper and spice. A sweet aok aroma is also present.
On the palate it is crammed with ripe fruits and berries. It is complex with well structured tannins and a good balance and an alcohol content of 14% complete this wine.


2. (yellow tail) by Casella Wines - Wrattonbully Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - Limited Release.

This is another award winning, presitgious and top quality, premium wine from Casella Wines, having been awarded the Gold Medal in the 2005 Royal Old Wine Show.

The grapes for this wine were sourced from low yielding vines from the vineyards on the Terra Rossa soils of Wrattonbully, a region that is accalaimed for its World Class Cabernet Sauvignon.

The wine was part barrel fermented in new American oak barriques and was left in oak for 18 months to give a perfect balance of fruit, oak and wood and a softly rounded feel in the mouth during maturing. Prior to bottling the wine was minimally filtered with no fining.

This Cabernet Sauvignon is a highly elegant wine, full bodied, dark red in colour, giving a dense palate of blackcurrant and plum, integrated oak and fine, sweet and long tannins. It has a bouquet of ripe fruit, black cherries and spearmint. The structure is fine and complex with a long and lingering finish conversant with the vintage Cabernet fruit.
Alcohol content of this wine is 13.5%


The wines showing the prestigious  gold medal awards.
 The price range for these two wines is around $50/Eur40

Food pairing for both the Shiraz and the Cabernet Sauvignon: All kinds of red meats, beef especially braised, grilled, roasts; Aged fine cheese; Roasted duck, game and game birds; Lamb, braised, grilled, roasted or full rack of; Prime beef steaks especially with pepper sauce; Tuna, venison.
Strictly no white fish or seafood.

A taste of South Australia -Quality at its best.
Aging potential for both wines: 10 to 15 years in a good cellar.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cork. Is a good cork important?

Selected corks of wines I drank and reviewed.
 As a stopper for bottles, cork has excellent characteristics for wine. Looking at cork under a microscope, one can observe that it is formed by a net of millions of cells. Each cell wall is formed by an organic substance named suberine, which originates from a transformation of cellulose and is known for its waterproof and elastic characteristics.

Although it has its critics,Cork has been used for such a long time to seal wine bottles that one tends to overlook its remarkable characteristics which are born from simple tree bark. In fact, cork is the external covering of the cork oak, a tree species that grows mainly in Spain, Portugal, France, Sardinia, Algeria and Morocco.  The bark is harvested  every nine years from selected cork oak trees, and no damage is really done to the environment as the tree does not have to be cut, but simply the bark is peeled of, which then grows again over a period of some months.

Thanks to cork, the wine receives very small doses of oxygen that allow it to evolve over time. This is due to two elements: 1. the natural porosity of cork, and 2. the small space that remains between the bottle's wall and the cork's lenticels. These are small imperfections on the cork which may be seen with the naked eye. They are openings through which oxygen passes from the atmosphere into the tree. In the case of a cork, wine, bottle stopper, lenticels are very important. The greater the amount of these openings, the less a cork will last, therefore cork stoppers have to be selected with due care and dilligence if premium wine is to be aged in bottles for a lenght of time. For premium wines, corks must be long, as smooth as possible and without lenticels. Corks with more lenticels may be used to keep wines that will be aged for a short period of time.

"Screw caps" were introduced in 1959 by a French company, which had introduced the Stelcap-Vin cap which had already proved successful for a range of spirits and liqueurs. These screw-caps are inert and can last for many years, in fact they have kept certain wines, red and white, in good condition for more than 30 years. However, controversy still remains over whether they are the best closure type for red wine destined for long ageing and for some styles of white wine. While some scientists argue that wine ageing is an anaerobic process most successful in the complete absence of extrinsic oxygen, others suspect that the tiny particles and amounts of oxygen that are transmitted by the less than perfect seal of corks, is important for red wine ageing. Only long term trials with red wines sealed under different closures, will eventually resolve the issue.

Good quality cork, is imprevious to air, almost impermeable by water, difficult to burn, resistant to temperature changes and vibration, does not rot, and has the ability to mold itself  to the shape and contour of a container it is put into, such as the neck of a wine bottle.

There are also agglomorated corks that are made from small particles of cork that are bound together. These are useful for wines that are bottled for immediate consumption.

Bad quality cork may produce a chemical substance called TCA,2,4,6-Trichloroanisol, a feaful chemical substance that gives a wine a bad taste of humidity and mould. This leads to the very undesirable "corky" or "corked" wine, which wine would have a musty aroma of wet newspapers, mushrooms and rot. Although drinking corked wine is not harmful to one's health, it makes a wine very unpleasant to drink, and is not recommended. If you are ever served a "corked" wine in a restaurant, do not hesitate to refuse it, politely but firmly.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Taste of Spain.

1964 Vintage-Exceptionally good.
A few days ago I attended a Spanish Wine Masterclass which was conducted by Carlos Read a well known master on Spanish wines.

In all we taste-tested six wines, two whites and four reds, but I personally have only found two wines that are really worthy of a review in this site. The other four wines, although acceptable and very good for everyday drinking, are not what I would call top of the range premium wines. So I shall restrict myself to the the real McCoys in the selection.

The two wines which I have selected to bring to your attention are the:

which is produced by R. Lopez De Heredia Vina' Tondonia S.A. of  Rioja;

and the other is the:

which is produced by Bodegas Bai Gori of Rioja.

The Vina' Tondonia Gran Risereva 1964 is a wine that was produced, as the name implies, 46 years ago from a blend of vintage Macabeo blended with Malvasia grapes.
This wine was aged for about eight years in oak casks, racked periodically by hand and clarified with egg whites., before bottling in special wax-sealed bottles.

After 46 years, having aged for so many years in the bottle, this wine has an extraordinary deep and intense golden yellow colour, with a bouquet of fine sherry and an exotic combination of orange peel, almonds and mineral flavours.

It is rich on the palate, with a lemony and citrus sense of freshness and maintains a good balance with fresh acidity.

It is a premium, vintage dry white wine, and pairs well with all kinds of fish, seafood and white meats.

Serving temperature recommended is 14 to 16 Deg.C. This wine is not to be chilled so that its aromas and natural flavours are retained.

The production of this wine consisted of only 12,000 bottles, so it can be quite difficult to get hold off, after the 46 years which have elapsed since it was produced.

Alcohol content of this wine is 12% by volume.

The cost of a bottle is in the region of $300, but recent enquiries made indicated that one might have to pay in excess of this figure to acquire a bottle, but for a true, white wine connoisseur, this price would be worth it.


The second wine which I liked was the BAI GORI DE GARAGE 2005 RED.

This wine is produced from 100% Tempranillo grapes, which in my opinion are Spain's answer to Italy's Nebbiolo and France's Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties. The grapes for this wine have been harvested from very old vines yielding small quantities. The grapes are then hand selected grape by grape using sorting and vibrating tables.
Careful production processes makes for very limited production volume of this wine, depending on each year's harvest, but generally it is one of the exclusive wines produced by this winemaker, and the 2005 vintage is considered to be one of the best.

After pressing, fermentation with a  long maceration period is carried out under controlled temperature conditions in wooden barrels, which allow the primary aromas of the grapes to be extracted. Malolactic fermentation of the wines on the lees is carried out in new French oak barrels to obtain natural stability and an alcohol content of 14%.

Tasting & and review of Bai Gori de Garage 2005.

The wine has a deep, cherry red and very clear colour with aromas of herbs, and figs and dark fruit.
On the palate it is rich and lush and is very round with a good balance between tannins given by the French oak and the grape variety itself. The taste has sensations of liquorice, oak, and a trace of black berries.

The finish is long and persistent, and leaves long legs on the inside of the glass, due to its concentrated full body.

It is a premium, excellent and full bodied red wine and well worth its price tag.

Food paring: Grills, roasts and prime red meats.

Alcohol content: 14% by volume.

Price range: Eur50/$70 per bottle.




Thursday, October 21, 2010

The International Grape Varieties.

In the picture: Ripe Cabernet Sauvignon grape on the vine.

"International Grape Varieties", is a loose term used for those grapes which have an international reputation for their varietal wines. These grape varieties are planted in almost every major wine region in which they stand a chance of ripening. All these varieties have originally been grown and cultivated in Europe mainly France, although various wines from Italy are now making it to this category as well as maybe one variety from Spain. These countries form the "Old World" of wine, and these varieties have been grown from cloned rootstock in the "New World" of wine countries such as the USA mainly California; Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand are the main growers, but there are many other countries who also grow these grapes for winemaking.

I am listing here the recognised international varieties and giving also the region and/or country of origin:

The Red Wine Varietals:
Cabernet Sauvignon - Bordeaux, France.
Merlot - Bordeaux.
Pinot Noir - Burgandy, France.
Syrah - Rhone Valley, France.
Nebbiolo - Piedmont, Italy.
Sangiovese - Tuscany, Italy.
Tempranillo - Spain.

The White Wine Varietals.
Chardonnay - Burgandy, France.
Sauvignon Blanc - Bordeaux; The Loire Valley, France.
Riesling - Alsace, France.
Rheingau, Rhine and Mosel, Germany.
Muscat - France (anywhere).
Gewurztraminer - Alsace, France.
Semillon - Bordeaux, France.
Viognier - Languedoc, France.
Pinot Blanc - Alsace, France.
Pinot Gris - Burgandy, France.

Other French grape varieties that are also grown internationally, but to a lesser extent are:
Cabernet Franc; Cinsault; Gamay; Greanche; Mourvedre'; Carignan; Malbec and Carmenere for the red grape varietals;
Chenin Blanc; Clairette; Muscadelle; Ugni Blanc and Malmsey for the white grape varietals.

Of these the following are considered to be Nobel Grapes, that is, once pressed to make wine, they do not require the addition of sugar to increase the alcoholic content as the natural sugar in the grape itself is more than sufficient:
The Nobel Grape Varietals:
Red: Cabernet Sauvignon; Nebbiolo; Merlot; Pinot Noir; Sangiovese.
White: Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc; Gewurztraminer; Malmsey; Muscat; Riesling; Sauvignon Blanc; Semillon and Sercial.

The above grape varieties together with the topic on the Italian Wine Grapes in the topic prior to this, gives the wine lover a thorough insight into which grapes make the finest wines, and a better knowledge of varieties and different tastes. I shall be giving you here, a series of different wine choices produced by these grape varieties from different producers as well as from different countries, taste-tests and ratings, as well as pairing with food.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


In the picture: Ripe Barbera grape on the vine.

There are over 2000 wine grapes variaties that are indegenous to Italy, but only about a score of them are really essential to know. The wines produced from these grapes are either known by the region's name such as Barolo and Chianti which are produced from the Nebbiolo and Sangiovese grape varieties respectively, or with the actual grape name as for example Barbera or Trebbiano which are both well known grape varieties.

The following are the grape varieties which have made Italian wine world famous:

Aglianico is a dark, brooding and intense red grape variety which is primarily grown in Basilicata and Campania. Its wines are usually fiercely tannic, smoky and full of robust berry flavours. Aglianico wine ages very well, even for decades for the best vintages.
Top wines made by the Aglianico grape variety come under the title TAURASI & TAURASI RISERVA which are produced by various winemakers.

Barbera which is grown in Piedmont lives in the shadow of the Nebbiolo variety, but when carefully made and not over oaked, Barbera is responsible for some really elegant, medium-bodied reds that carry sour-cherry and spice flavours along a line of vibrant acidity.
Wine examples: Barbera D'Alba; Barbera D'Asti.

Catarratto is a Sicilian white grape variety which is the second most planted IN Italy. Some new wines are being produced from this variety and is also used in the production of Marsala.

Cortese di Gavi as it is commonly known is the white grape which is grown in the provinces of Alessandria and Asti and is the variety that is used to produce the DOCG classified Gavi Di Gavi wines. Cortese wines tend to be medium bodied with notes of limes. The wines can be aggresively acidic but recent wine making techniques such as malolactic fermentation and oak barrel fermentation has tempered this effect to produce a smooth and crisp white wine.

CORVINA, RONDINELLA AND MOLINARA: The grapes from which the famous Amarone, Ripasso di Valpolicella and the Valpolicella Classico Superiore are produced in the Veneto region of the Tre Venezie.

Fiano is another white grape variety, it is exotic and grown also in the Campania district. It makes luscious, full-bodied, floral white wines marked by rich pear and honey-spice flavours. A subregion of Campania which creates the most sought after bottlings is Fiano Di Avellino.

This is the principal grape that is used to produce SOAVE. Garganega wines are usually light to medium-bodied, with citrus and melon fruit flavours and an almondy finish.

This is another Italian, robust red grape variety which is planted throughout central Italy, but which mainly comes from Abruzzo and the Marche regions. This grape creates forceful reds with soft tannins and plum flavours and can be found in different brands titled Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and Rosso Conero.

This is without a doubt Piedmont's most famous grape, responsible for both the presigious BAROLO and BARBARESCO wines, and which is an extremely difficult grape to cultivate. This grape is growm successfully almost nowhere else, that is why vintage Barolo and barbaresco wines are normally expensive. When young these wines are often astringent and tannic and sometime the taste jarrs. Given an aging period of 5 to ten years in the bottle, Nebbiolo's great perfume of roses, herbs, cherries and plums emerges, and tannins soften to a silken grace.

Nero d'Avola is found throughout Sicily and is now also successfully grown in Australia and California. This wine embodies an ideal Mediterranean warmth with it generous, ripe, black-fruit flavours and soft enveloping tannins. It is a full-bodied red wine with good alcohol content.

Primitivo is a red grape variety gtown principally in Apulia. It may have remained relatively obscure had its similarities to Californian Zinfandel not been noticed. There are varietal DOC's for Primitivo di Gioia and Primitivo di Manduria. Most wines labeled Primitivo are highly alcoholic.

Pinot Bianco is mainly grown in the North of Italy, particularly in the Fruili and Alto Adige regions. Though more full bodied than Pinot Grigio, it still makes light-bodied white wines with flavours of pears and green apples.

Sangiovese is probably Italy's most famous red grape variety. Sangiovese is grown in the pivotal grape growing region of Tuscany and is consequently grown throughout central Italy. Sangiovese is responsible for everything from bargain-priced, reds such as some Chiantis, to the best aromatic, complex and age worthy wines such as CHIANTI RISERVA, BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO and VINO NOBILE.

This is the most widely planted white grape variety in Italy. Trebbianno mostly produces bland and forgettable lightwines. Yet it does make some appealing, affordable wines and in the hands of a good winemaker it can produce a luscious, white wine with floral aromas and even honeyed texture.

This grape is confined to Italy's Marche region and has been awarded two DOC's within Marche with Dei Castelli di Jesi and di Matelica. This grape variety is known for its subtle delicacy in both its fragrance and flavour, with fresh herbs followed by crisp, lemony and citrus notes.

Vermentino is one of Italy's most compelling white grape varieties. It is grown up and down Italy, but mostly in Liguria, Tuscany and Sardinia. Wine from this grape variety is normally fresh with focused acidity, savoury, light herbal flavours and a complex mineral finish.

The unique, red wine grape, that grows only in its majectic style in the city of Montefalco in Umbria. Strong, austere, full-bodied and full of fruit.

Two other Italian wine grape varieties of note are the MALVASIA for deeply coloured whites and possibly light coloured reds, and NEGROAMARO which produces rich red wines which require ageing before it is in its prime to be drunk. GRILLO in Sicily is also making a comeback in crisp and affordable white wine for everyday drinking with med fish cuisine and pasta.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Selecting a wine from private cellar.
As not every wine can be aged in the bottle, neither is any place suitable for storing a good wine and keep its character intact. Before deciding whether to keep a bottle, take note of these tips.

Place: Wine needs peace and quiet to evolve over time and, just like us humans when wanting to rest, the best place for it is where there are no abrupt changes in temperature, there is little noise, excessive humidity or sudden movements. Hopefully, the rest should all take place in one and the same place so as not to alter the aging process.

Bottle's position: The best position for a bottle is lying down. In this way, the cork is always in contact with the wine and it does not dry up, as this could cause filtration. Also, it avoids further oxygen from entering and the wine will evolve quicker. Quick consumption wines may be kept upright; they also usually have shorter corks that saturate quicker.

Temperature: The temperature of the storage place must be kept constant, because any changes cause the liquid to expand or contract, which could cause the cork to pop out and then the wine will be lost. The ideal storage temperature is between 16 deg.C and 17deg.C. At this level, the wine evolves slower and better. Ideal humidity is likely to be around 70%. A drier atmosphere would cause the cork to compress and let wine out, whilst a higher one could give rise to mildew on the cork.

Light: Wines prefer darkness to daylight. Sunlight makes the reds lose their intensity of colour, whilst the whites acquire a yellowish and golden tone. The best place is a well closed cupboard, windowless room, or if you have it a cellar.

Wine Choices: Now we come to the wine choice which is the most important aspect of this feature and wine connoisseurship, as the wine must be primarily and intrinsically capable of being aged.

Cheap wine found in supermarkets, white, rose' as well as red, is usually produced to be drunk immediately, or within two years of production.

Very few white wines can be aged for a long time, for example Chardonnay and Pinot Gris are only recommended to be aged as from one (1) year up to only six (6) years for exceptionally good vintages, from the grape vintage year. Only certain white wine styles and special vinatges can be aged successfully beyond this, but of course like in everything else there are exceptions. It is known that some white wines have been aged for up to 30 years and very recently I had the opportunity to taste-test and review a superlative, Spanish white vintage wine produced in 1964 from a blend of Macabeo and Malvasia grapes. After 46 years  this wine has continuously evolved superbly into a  supelative white wine. So as I said before, there are exceptions, but these are few and far between.

Prior to buying red wine to be aged, I normally do several things and /or reviews: First is the winemaker and his vinification methods;  the next is the choice of wine, grape variety, blend and  vintage; thirdly I always buy or acquire at least two bottles of the wine that I want to keep, one bottle to be taste-tested at my leisure, blindly in comparison with similar wines, by itself, with food, etc, and the second bottle is to be aged, only if I like the wine in the first place.
I have seen various private cellars with a number of inferior wines stored in them together with some very good vintages. Wines to be aged must be bottled in glass bottles and must have the correct cork stopper.

Wine grape varietals that I choose to age up to 10 years include good vinatges produced from: Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Primitivo/Zinfandel and some other less well known grape varietals.

If I am aging wine beyond ten years than a very careful choice of a selection of the following varietals, from exceptional vintages and renowned winemakers, are made: Aglianico of Taurasi, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nebbiolo and Syrah/Shiraz.

Other good varietals can be safely and successfully aged up to five years, and after all, wine is produced to be drunk and enjoyed so I normally have a selection of my favourite wine styles on my table all the time.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Reno Spiteri -Wine tasting ∧ review session.
The book definition stipulates that tasting wine is the regulated act through which, by way of certain guidelines and procedures, the taster uses his senses to percieve the organoleptic characteristics of a wine. Tasting a wine is basically a three-phase cycle which usually ends with an overall quantitative-score, or qualitative-tasting notes-impression.

Depending on how it is carried out, there are different kinds of tastings:
- Comparative (considering and measuring against each other a number of wines).
-Blind (concealing the label so as not to be able to identify the participating wines).
-Vertical (a single wine is tasted throughout a number of vintages).
-Varietal (This comprises only wines of a defined grape variety).

Before getting started, there are some basics that need to be taken into account viz:
* If several wines are to be tasted, the order of the day should begin with whites, move on to rose' and save the reds for last. Within each colour, dry wines go before sweet and lighter ones before those with more defined structure - light, medium, full-bodied.

* The correct temperature is essential to fully appreciate a wine. 10 deg.C is a good rule of thumb for white wines, 11deg.C for rose' and 16Deg.C for reds.

*Ideal stemware is plain but fine crystal, fully transparent and unadorned glasses.

*The setting should be well ventilated and offer proper light.

*Perfume (cologne, after-shave lotion, etc), should not be worn on the day of tasting, by any of those partaking in it.

Visual Analysis:
A wine tasting & review session with notes.


Tilt the glass against a white background to appreciate the colour, intensity and general appearance of the wine (transparency, brightness, limpidity, effervescence).
Young white wines and sparkling wine should present a light shade of colour, always with green hues or undertones. If barrel or bottle aged, they acquire a golden-yellow glow.
Roses' wines vary greatly in intensity, but if they turn orangey, it is a clear sign that there might be oxidation or other damage.
Young red wines feature a deep, vibrant red-colour with a darker violet rim and diverse hues that are specific to each variety. With age, reds range from ruby-red to more brick-like colours,orangy and may even turn slightly yellowish. Bottle aging is associated with roof tile shades, dark red, maroon, and ochre. Irrespective of its age or aging, a wine should always look shiny and limpid.

Olfactory Analysis:


Take the glass by the stem or base, and, with your nose completely immersed in the mouth of the glass, inhale deeply, trying to percieve the different aromatic notes. After registering this first impression, swirl the glass to liberate the aromatic components and inhale again. The best wines are always very aromatic, complex and tend to open-up in the glass, furthering their aromatic profile and expressiveness as they oxygenerate. Try to compare the notes you percieve with other aromatic archetypes that will come to mind. First try to identify a broad family: there might be aromas of fruits, flowers, herbs, spices, minerals or a combination of several of these. Try to rate aromas based on their distinctiveness, complexity and intensity.

There is a third phase within the the olfactory analysis that occurs with wine already in the mouth. The warm temperature inside the mouth stirs yet another aromatic dissemination. In this stage notes are percieved by the olfactory epithelium and this is what we call mouth aromas or retronasal aromas.
Typically, wine aromas suggest or resemble characteristic aromas of the vegetal kingdom: flowers, fruits, herbs or spices as well as other aromas that are part of our olfactory memory: leather, earth, chocolate, tobacco and smoke.

Gustatory Analysis:


When at this stage, take a sip generous enough to impregnate the whole tongue surface. While keeping the wine in the mouth, inhale a little air and let the wine swirl and oxygenate between your tongue and palate. Try to pinpoint the flavour notes, describe the texture and sensation that the wine leaves behind.
A wine with good acidity will convey a refreshing feeling and is defined as being fresh. On the contrary, an alcohol-rich wine evokes heat and is described as being warm and alcoholic. The smoothness is measured in terms of how a wine flows in the mouth and some of the adjectives that may come to mind are smooth, silky, or on the other hand, rough, hard, rugged.

A correct wine will be able to harmonize its sweet, sour, salty and bitter components to pleasantly stimulate the sense of taste. Also, its taste ought to linger for a while in the mouth after swallowing, what is described as a long lingering but smooth finish.


Welcome to my wine site. Salute'.
There are many websites on the internet which deal with the subject of WINE. I would like to take this field to a different perspective than most, and shall try to cover the subject and various topics planned to be raised from the viewpoint of the consumer, rather than from the viewpoint of professional wine critics.

As a marketing consultant, I have always advocated that products and services, no matter what they are, cars, clothes, food, beverages, etc. etc. have only one aim in their existence, and that is for them to be sold successfully to the end user, i.e. the consumer, you and me. Not only, but marketing a product should ensure that rather than hiding the actual quality of a product behind a lot of meaningless advertising jargon, products are to be marketed to the appropriate consumer group, ensuring that the full attributes of such products are highlighted clearly, guaranteeing satisfaction and value for money.

Reno Spiteri enjoying a premium red wine.

Wine is such a product. Marketing of wine and discussing wine requires inside and deep knowledge of the product, and with the current numerous winemakers, from nearly every country in the world, and with the choice of grape varieties and blends on the market, consumers find themselves lost when they come to make an educated choice when ordering wine in a restaurant or buying that special bottle from a specialised wine shop. From which country; which winemaker; which region; which grape varietal; which year; full, medium or light bodied; red or white?

Reno Spiteri's Wineopolis, shall try and endeavour to create a more well informed consumer by bringing to the attention of our members, up-to-date information about wines in general: choices; different grape varietals and blends; wine tasting reviews; features; regions; Old World Wine versus New World Wine; prices and ratings. I of course shall award my own ratings to wines that we carefully select to review. The ratings shall make use of the points system from 70 to 100, and shall be aimed to guide consumers to make good choices rather than for the trade to make or break a wine. Price will not come into what points are awarded, as an exceptional wine from a "New World" winemaker might cost much less than one which is made by an "Old World" producer for the same varietal and quality. Ratings will be given the RS suffix, e.g. RS92, etc.
96 to 100 - Outstanding; Supelative Classic. - rarely given.
90 to 95 - Excellent.
85 to 89 - Very Good - Quality at a good price.

There are various wines both local as well as imported brands, that have been rated below this minimum quality standard by myself. In most cases I do not include wines that are rated below RS85 in either the reviews or The Wine List.

With your help we can make this site a successful consumers' voice in the wine industry.