Lots of online resources help wine newbies learn the basics

September 30, 2023

I received a lovely note from Natalie MacLean regarding my recent review of her book, “Wine Witch on Fire.” She offers some free classes and resources: Wine and Food Pairings That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever) at, and The Ultimate Food and Wine Pairing Guide, Two caveats! Before leaving, read the entire paper, ads and all, and don’t abandon me. I enjoy MacLean. Regular McD readers will also.

Masciarelli Wine Co. produces a wide range of products, 22 from Abruzzi. Gianni Masciarelli (RIP 2008) and his wife Marina Cvetic grew a 5-acre winery started in Grandpa’s cellar in 1981 to today’s 900 acres. Arguably, he was the best-known and most forward-thinking winemaker from the region. All their wines are estate grown. Some are labeled Marina Cvetic, or Villa Gemma or Gianni Masciarelli or Colline Teatine. Their best buy is 2019 Masciarelli Gianni Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2019 or 2020. The ‘19 rates 91 McD plus 2 price points. Calvert Woodley in DC has it at $11.99. I felt like Bankman-Fried or Bernie Madoff before they were found out when I sampled some. Opens to blackberry, raspberry and cherry aromas, with dry brush and mineral back notes. The aromas continue through the full-bodied palate supported by a balanced soft tannin and appropriate acidity frame. Finish is long, clean and juicy, with crushed gravel subtone. Marina Cvetic Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Riserva 2020 is a lovely white made from Trebbiano (Ugni Blanc), 92 McD under $55. Wonderful truffle and wild mushroom wine. Those who look up mushrooms and wine will be directed to the likes of Aubert $268, Kongsgaard The Judge $949, or their Napa Chard $152; several Kistler Chards made the list from $89-$250 range; or Azienda Agricola Valentini Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo $208, among others. Trust me on this. Brown bag it and serve Marina Cvetic Trebbiano Riserva 2020.This is not Chardonnay. Those looking for a less-expensive entry level may try their Masciarelli Trebbiano d’Abruzzi 2022, new release around $12, 87 McD, with stone fruit, mineral medium body. I will definitely pay up for the Cvetic Riserva label. They are excellent QPR producers, and those products I have sampled have well above-average value. Thank you, ladies. I was curious who is/are the winemakers. No mention on their sites. 

I just read an ad for a Right Bank Bordeaux, Chateau L’Enclos Pomerol 2019, for $35/bottle and free shipping on cases. The blend is typical Pomerol, 79% Merlot with Cab Franc and Malbec. The estate is directed by Stephane Derenoncourt. Follow the winemaker. He is known for Rubicon, Smith Haut Lafitte, and Maison Bouey Les Parcelles, and has been a consultant since the 1990s for many famous labels. Although the ad puffed up the ratings of JS and Decanter, others including McD scored it 92. Another Bordeaux Red blend, Clos Lunelles Cotes de Castillon 2020, 93 McD, can be found under $30. Bordeaux red blend is wide open and can include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, and several may even include Carmenere. In the U.S. we hide the blend by naming them Meritage (this translates to “kitchen sink” in McD language). I am not disparaging, by the way. Great chefs are known to add this and that to get the best burger, so why shouldn’t chefs de vino? With the vines located in the most eastern part of Bordeaux, sea breeze is in the aroma along with plum, cherry and forest floor. On the palate, fruit repeats with cocoa, minerals from limestone substrate, and chalk, all supported by soft tannins and bright acidity. Very complex for the price, these need at least two years in your cellar, but you will be happy having waited.

Another offer was for a 2015 Oregon Pinot Noir 2015, 92 McD at $58 and in its window. Those in the know may remember Resonance Vineyards was the first vineyard buy outside Burgundy by Maison Louis Jadot, a world-famous Burgundy producer. They chose the Yamhill-Carlton AVA in Oregon. The 2015 is the first release and was done by Guillaume Large with collaboration of Louis Jadot luminary winemaker Jacques Lardiere; one would be hard pressed to name a more prominent collaboration. Read label carefully: Resonance, Resonance Vineyard Pinot Noir. The label reading Resonance Pinot Noir is 90 points and $57. That said, of all their products I have reviewed in all vintages, the lowest score was a single 89 McD.

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