Recent Releases We’ve Enjoyed-Part 2

This is Part 2 of a two-part post looking at some new wines that we discovered late this year. Part 1 can be found here. In this post, you’ll find a variety of holiday red wines that won’t make you dig deep in your pocket — Cabernet, Zinfandel, Chianti and Pinot Noir.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 12.44.32 PMOak Ridge Winery OZV Red Blend 2012 ($14)
If you are a fan of big, lush, jammy Zinfandels, this blend is for you. We were not expecting such a robust Zinfandel-based blend when we opened the bottle, although we should have, since it comes from Lodi’s oldest operating winery, Oak Ridge. Wow, we were hit with strong aromatics of vanilla and blackberries immediately, which then transformed to a fruit-forward blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Merlot. This wine has a lot going on, with flavors of plum, licorice and blackberries. We had it with pasta, but this rich wine would also pair well with grilled steaks, smoked meats, chicken and pizza. By the way, Oak Ridge Winery first came to our attention with its Old Soul value-wines this summer.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 12.29.58 PMMark West 2013 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($15-$25, depending on where you shop)
Mark West has been producing California Pinot Noir since 1978, but this is the first one crafted from grapes sourced in the esteemed Willamette Valley.

Representative of the Pinot characteristics in Oregon wine country, this wine is lighter, brighter and more delicate than its California counterparts, but it is definitely not a lightweight.

With notes of cranberry, cherry and apple, this Pinot will pair well with meats such as prime rib, but we think it would also be fabulous with salmon.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 11.42.09 AMSterling Vintner’s Collection 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon ($17) and 2013 Meritage ($14)
Sterling Vineyards introduced a few new releases for the holidays, including these two reds. The Cabernet Sauvignon is medium-bodied and juicy, filled with flavors of plum, cherries, blackberries and a touch of smoke and violets. If you can’t find the 2013, no worries – Sterling has already released the 2014 vintage.

The Meritage blends Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot into a good wine to pair with food. Both of these wines will go well with grilled steaks, meat pastas and even roasted chicken in a rich sauce.

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 11.55.09 AMSanta Cristina 2013 Chianti Superiore ($16)
Santa Cristina produces Italy’s No. 1 selling red wine, Rosso; released its first wine in 1946; and is represented by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Washington state.

The 2013 Chianti Superiore is a ruby-colored blend of Sangiovese (95%) and Merlot (5%). This is a tasty, medium-bodied wine with aromas of plum and cherry that are also experienced on the palate.

We enjoyed it with pasta, but it would also go well with mushroom dishes, turkey or chicken.

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 12.41.15 PMRed Diamond 2012 Limited Release Mysterious Red Blend ($10)
This wine was released in time for Halloween, but it works well for this holiday season too.

A blend of 56% Syrah, 40% Merlot, 3% Viognier and 1% other red varieties, this bold wine is described as mysteriously dark, with a palate of dark red berries and a hint of spice.

It pairs well with hearty dishes such as grilled steaks, rich stews or strong cheeses, or with sweets such as chocolate peanut butter cups.

At this price, how can you go wrong?

 

Thank you to Oak Ridge Winery, Mark West, Sterling Vineyards, Santa Cristina and Red Diamond for samples of these wines.

Happy holidays and cheers!
Margot and Dave

Sneak Peek

wine-glasses-photo-courtesy-Marcus-Whitman-Hotel-e1294811651743Life has been so busy lately – with work (our day jobs), the holidays and most importantly, family.

So while we’ve done our fair share of tasting wines lately, there hasn’t been as much time to write about them as we had hoped. But we will soon!

Here’s your sneak peek at what we’ll be posting in the weeks ahead:

  • List of best good-value red wine for the holidays
  • List of special wines for the holidays
  • Our second annual list of our top 50 Washington state wineries

Some new wines that we’ll be writing about include:

  • Seven Falls 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013 GPS Cabernet Sauvignon and 2013 GPS Zinfandel
  • Stottle 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Sterling Vintner’s Collection 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2013 Meritage
  • Oak Ridge Winery OZV Old Vine 2012 Zinfandel
  • Mark West 2013 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
  • Nero D’Avola (Sicily)
  • Red Diamond 2012 Limited Release Mysterious Red Blend

So stay tuned to learn about some good red wines for the holidays!

Cheers,
Margot and Dave

 

 

Special Wines for the Holidays

Holiday WinesGood wine over the holidays helps to make the season fabulous. Here is the list of special wines that we started to open and share over the Thanksgiving holiday and will continue to do so through New Year’s day — either pouring them for guests, taking to parties or enjoying at home.

Some of these wines are special because of their high quality and high price point. Others are simply special good-value wines enjoy in our home throughout the year.

They are listed in alphabetical order:

Of note, all but three of these wines are from the wonderful Washington state wine country.

Cheers – and happy holidays!
Margot and Dave

Another Successful Taste of Tulalip

Screen Shot 2015-06-13 at 12.25.27 PMTaste of Tulalip 2015 is now behind us and once again, it was a taste sensation that featured a collaboration of wine, food and art.

We applaud Lisa Severn, the director of food and beverage at Tulalip Resort Casino, and her entire team for their incredible efforts to make this amazing event so enjoyable.

Let’s start with the art. We had the pleasure of meeting Mike Gobin, the talented artist and master woodcarver who created the commemorative wine bottle and plate featured in this photo. He showed us several pictures of his work, all of which represent a beautiful expression of his Tulalip culture. He had our complete attention as he shared stories of his people and his craft. We also were delighted to meet his super-nice family.

His commemorative bottle contains a unique blend of wine created by Tulalip‘s talented wine expert, Tommy Thompson, and the event’s 2015 honorary winemaker, Kerry Shiels of Côte Bonneville. Sourced from DuBrul Vineyard grapes, this stellar wine blends 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. We somehow had never met Kerry before, so we were glad to have that opportunity, and hope to taste more of her wines in the future.

Sparky TOT2We were fortunate to spend considerable time with Sparky Marquis, co-winemaker/owner of the award-winning Australian winery, Mollydooker Wines. His seminar, “Turning Water Into Wine,” was both informative and fun. We also chatted with him throughout the weekend, at the Celebration Dinner, the Grand Taste and at Tulalip Bay, one of our favorite Seattle-area restaurants where we ended off the event enjoying a fantastic meal with our very good friends, Robin and Sue from British Columbia.

We are big fans of Mollydooker wines: Carnival of Love, the #2 wine in the world, according to Wine Spectator, in addition to the coveted Velvet Glove, Enchanted Path, Blue Eyed Boy and seven more!

We first met Sparky last year at his Cellar Door in McLaren Vale, Australia. For more information, see our blog posts, Mollydooker Part 1 and  Mollydooker Part 2 and learn about Mollydooker’s Marquis Fruit Weight™ process and their “yum-worthy” wines.

Throughout the weekend, we sipped our way through dozens of wines and send kudos to these wineries, whose teams poured some of our favorites.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 1.30.35 PMWashington State

  • Alexandria Nicole Cellars
  • Betz Family Winery
  • Cote Bonneville
  • Double Canyon / Archery Summit
  • Fidelitas
  • Figgins Wine
  • Gorman Winery
  • Karma Vineyards
  • Leonetti Cellars
  • Obelisco Estate
  • Quilceda Creek
  • Reynvaan Family Vineyards

California

  • Caymus VIneyards
  • Silver Oak Cellars
  • Stone Street

Global

  • Chateau Coutet, Bordeaux, France
  • Domaine Huet, Loire Valley, France
  • Inskillin, Ontario, Canada
  • Mollydooker WInes, McLaren Vale, AustraliaRocca di Frassinello, Maremma, Italy

Flowers TOTAnd then there was the excellent food experience at the Italian-themed Celebration Dinner and at various seminars and booths throughout Saturday.

Executive Chef Perry Mascitti and his talented culinary team were joined by special guest Chris Cosentino, the award-winning Chef/Owner of San Francisco’s Cockscomb and Boccalone, to prepare the delicious dishes. From extravagant gourmet treats to tasty snacks, there was something sensational to pair with every wine.

Antipasta TOT Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 1.56.48 PMThe Celebration Dinner was the Friday night highlight that kicked off the weekend activities. The mouth-watering dinner started out with “Amuse Bouche” Dungeness Crab and Lemon Cannoli Ricotta by Chef Gerry Schultz, followed by Antipasti Carni and Formaggio (pictured) by Chef JP Ponticelli.

Next up was Rustic Polenta Lasgna by Chef Brent Clarkson; Intermezzo by Chef John Jadamec; Seared Chilean Sea Bass by Chef David Buchanan; Filet Mignon Braciole by Tulalip Executive Chef Perry Mascitti; and Semplice Insalata also by Chef JP Ponticelli. Rounding out the explosion of flavors was Tiramisu (pictured) and a pink box of assorted Italian cookies, including chocolate biscotti and wedding cookies, by Chef Nikol Nakamura.

Last, but definitely not least, Taste of Tulalip 2015 supported the charity, Heartbeat Serving Wounded Warriors, which provides emergency assistance and numerous programs for wounded service members and their families in Washington state.

If you didn’t attend this year’s event, you missed something great. Be sure to stay tuned at this time next year, so you won’t miss out again.

Many thanks to Lisa Severn and Allan Aquila for inviting us to this extravaganza. It was a weekend that we will be raving about for a long time to come.

Cheers,
Margot and Dave

Recommendation – Get Your Taste of Tulalip Tickets Now!

Screen Shot 2015-06-13 at 12.25.27 PMTickets are going quickly to one of our favorite wine events in Washington state, Taste of Tulalip — so run, don’t walk, to get yours before they sell out.

Trust us, you don’t want to miss this collaboration of wine, food and art.

Some “All Access” passes and tickets to the Grand Tasting on Nov. 14 are still available at Ticketmaster. But the Nov. 13 Celebration Dinner is already sold out.

All Access pass holders will have early entrance to the Grand Taste and the edgy Rock and Roll Cooking Challenge; a wine seminar called “Washington State AVA Smackdown,” featuring some of the state’s top wine producers; a VIP seminar featuring a cooking demo from Chef Chris Cosentino (from San Francisco’s Cockscomb and Boccalone); a private Magnum Party with a selection of high-level wine and food pairings; and more.

The Rock and Roll Challenge is a fast-paced culinary roller coaster with slammin’ rock and roll music. Three chef/sommelier teams will face off for a 30-minute cooking and wine pairing showdown—Iron Chef Style. Each team will combine talents to create the ideal entrée or appetizer from their mystery box, and pair it with a wine selection that the sommeliers will “hunt” for at the Grand Taste.

Each team will consist of one local Chef, one Tulalip Chef and one local Sommelier. This year’s local guest chef lineup includes Toby Jensen, The Ruins Seattle; Eric Truglas and Dean Shinagawa, Kama’aina Grindz; along with Tulalip Chefs Nikol Nakamura, John Jadamec and John Ponticelli. The Sommeliers will be comprised of Chris Horn, Purple Cafe Seattle; Dawn Smith, John Howie Steak; and Kristin Young, Bastille Cafe and Bar.

The Challenge takes place during the Grand Taste, which is always the weekend’s highlight. This year, more than 100 wines from Washington state, Oregon, California, Oporto, Maderia, will be poured, along with global selections of bubbles, late-harvest and ice wines, and craft beer.

Tulalip Resort Casino‘s talented wine expert, Tommy Thompson, and the event’s 2015 honorary winemaker, Kerry Shiels of Côte Bonneville, have created a unique blend of wine sourced from DuBrul Vineyard grapes — 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. As you can see in the above photo, the artwork by Mike Gobin for the commemorative wine bottle and plate is a beautiful expression of the Tulalip culture.

We were also delighted to discover that this year, on Nov. 14, Taste of Tulalip is featuring an in-depth reserve wine tasting/seminar called “Turning Water Into Wine” with Sparky and Sarah Marquis of the award-winning Australian winery, Mollydooker Wines. The tasting lineup will include 12 of Mollydooker’s recently released 2014 wines.

When we visited their Cellar Door and vineyard in McLaren Vale last year, we had so much fun with Sparky and his dad, Leigh Gawith. We had a vineyard tour, tasted through their amazing lineup and had a truly wonderful time. For more information, see our blog posts and learn about Mollydooker’s Marquis Fruit Weight™ process and their “yum-worthy” wines:

Mollydooker Part 1
Mollydooker Part 2 

We hope to see you at Taste of Tulalip!

Cheers,
Margot and Dave

 

Good-Value Wines

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 5.19.49 PMAs the summer winds down, we’re taking a look at some good-value wines that we and/or our neighbors enjoyed in the last five months. Summer sippers make us think of white wine on the deck or the patio, paired with tasty cheeses, seafood or chicken. But let’s not forget about robust reds to accompany delicious BBQs during the warm weather!

First, let’s talk about the featured wineries:

In 1836, Wente Vineyards began with 48 acres in Livermore Valley, California. Today the winery draws from approximately 3,000 acres of sustainably farmed Estate vineyards. While we’ve written about their reds in the past, Wente is known as California’s First Family of Chardonnay. In 1912, the Wente family brought Chardonnay cuttings from France and planted them in the Livermore Valley. Their 1936 vintage was the first varietally labeled Chardonnay in the United States. During crab season, we enjoyed 2013 Small Lot Eric’s Chardonnay, which was fermented and aged in stainless steel. But our neighbors preferred 2012 Riva Ranch Chard.

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 5.18.18 PMFor five generations, two families — the Maggios and Reynolds — have grown grapes and made wine in the historic Lodi region of California. They transformed the oldest winery in Lodi, Oak Ridge Winery, into a state-of-art facility, where Old Soul wines were crafted because “the winery has an old soul.” You can definitely taste it in the rich 2012 Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon, with a price point of $14.

Launched by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in 2005 as a restaurant-only brand, 14 Hands introduced its “The Reserve” label of wines sourced from the Horse Heaven Hills appellation in Washington state in 2012.

Santa Cristina produces Italy’s No. 1 selling red wine, Rosso, and is also represented by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. This Tuscan winery released its first wine in 1946 and has become a “benchmark” in Italian wines.

Motto Wines debuted this June, with a collection of distinct, dark, rich wines from California that offer a new take on that state’s wine. Motto is made by the renowned winemaking team at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, “putting a Washington spin” on California grapes. According to the winery, “the Motto winemaking team defies ordinary and makes it their motto.”

Of note, many of these wines are so reasonably priced that you can pour them at any time of the year. Just make sure to decant first for a few hours.

Summer Sipper Whites

  • Old Soul 2013 Lodi Chardonnay, $14
  • Wente Vineyards 2012 Morning Fog Chardonnay, $22
  • Wente Vineyards 2012 Riva Ranch Chardonnay, $22
  • Wente Vineyards 2013 Small Lot Eric’s Chardonnay, Small Lot (Unoaked) $25
  • Other good-value summer sippers

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 5.17.23 PMBBQ Reds

  • Santa Cristina 2013 Rosso, $12
  • 14 Hands 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley, $12
  • 14 Hands 2013 Merlot Columbia Valley, $12
  • Old Soul 2012 Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon, $14
  • Old Soul 2012 Lodi “Pure Red” Blend, $14
  • Motto Wines 2013 Unabashed Zinfandel, $15
  • Motto Wines 2013 Gung Ho Red Blend, $15
  • Wente Vineyards 2012 Southern Hill Cabernet Sauvignon, $19
  • Wente Vineyards Charles Wetmore 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $30
  • 14 Hands 2012 The Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Horse Heaven Hills, $30
  • Other good-value BBQ Reds

 Thanks to Wente, Oak Ridge Winery and Ste. Michelle Estates for these and other samples provided in the last five months.

Cheers,
Margot and Dave

 

Taste of Tulalip Tickets On Sale

Screen Shot 2015-06-13 at 12.25.27 PMTickets to one of our favorite wine events in Washington state, Taste of Tulalip, are now available on pre-sale.

The fantastic 7th annual two-day festival doesn’t take place until Nov. 13-14, but tickets sell out quickly. And trust us, you don’t want to miss this collaboration of wine, food and art.

This year, Tulalip Resort Casino‘s talented wine expert, Tommy Thompson, and the event’s 2015 honorary winemaker, Kerry Shiels of Côte Bonneville, have created a unique blend of wine sourced from DuBrul Vineyard grapes — 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. As you can see in the photo, the artwork by Mike Gobin for the commemorative wine bottle and plate is a beautiful expression of the Tulalip culture.

Taste of Tulalip kicks off with the Celebration Dinner on Nov. 13 – an explosion of tastes and colors that amazes us year after year.

We were delighted to discover that this year, on Nov. 14, Taste of Tulalip is featuring an in-depth reserve wine tasting/seminar called “Turning Water Into Wine” with Sparky and Sarah Marquis of the award-winning Australian winery, Mollydooker Wines. The tasting lineup will include 12 of Mollydooker’s recently released 2014 wines.

When we visited their Cellar Door and vineyard in McLaren Vale last year, we had so much fun with Sparky and his dad, Leigh Gawith. We had a vineyard tour, tasted through their amazing lineup and had a truly wonderful time. For more information, see our blog posts and learn about Mollydooker’s Marquis Fruit Weight™ process and their “yum-worthy” wines:

Mollydooker Part 1
Mollydooker Part 2 

Back to Taste of Tulalip … also on Nov. 14, “All Access” pass holders will have early entrance to the Grand Taste and the edgy Rock and Roll Cooking Challenge; a wine seminar called “Washington State AVA Smackdown,” featuring some of the state’s top wine producers; a VIP seminar featuring a cooking demo from Chef Chris Cosentino (from San Francisco’s Cockscomb and Boccalone); a private Magnum Party with a selection of high-level wine and food pairings, and more.

The Grand Taste is always the weekend’s highlight. This year, more than 100 wines from Washington state, Oregon, California, Oporto, Maderia, will be poured, along with global selections of bubbles, late-harvest and ice wines, and craft beer.

Seats for the Nov. 13 Celebration Dinner may be purchased by calling (360) 716-6888, and the passes for the Nov. 14 events can be purchased via Ticketmaster.

We hope to see you there!

Cheers,
Margot and Dave

 

A Deeper Look at Sauvignon Blanc

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 1.26.51 PMWe love Sauvignon Blanc in the summer months, and after sharing our views on four bottles that we recently enjoyed, we decided to take a deeper look at this warm-weather wine.

Sauvignon Blanc is both an old-world and new-world wine, grown and produced in Washington state, California, British Columbia, Ontario, France, New Zealand and other wine regions.

The typical descriptions are crisp, refreshing and elegant. The most popular price point is $20 and below; however some Sauv Blancs are in the range of $40-$80, and you can even find an occasional bottle priced above $80.

While the most popular style is “light and crisp,” other styles include “fruity and smooth,”  “rich and creamy” and “elegant.” The flavors can range from grassy to tropical.

  • Fruit – Citrus (Grapefruit, Lemon), Melon, Tropical
  • Grassy – Grass, Herbs, Mineral
  • Oak – Vanilla, Spice, Smoke

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 1.27.04 PMSauvignon Blanc pairs well with shellfish such as prawns, scallops, crabs and oysters, in addition to other seafood dishes, sushi, some cheeses and grilled veggies such as asparagus.

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Fun Facts:
Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon. During the 18th century in Bordeaux, the Sauvignon Blanc vine paired with Cabernet Franc to parent the Cabernet Sauvignon vine.

International Sauvignon Blanc Day has been held on April 24, since 2010.

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We love to sip on chilled, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc on warm sunny evenings on the deck or the patio. What is your favorite place or time?

Cheers,
Margot and Dave

Summer Sauvignon Blancs

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 11.46.58 AMSauvignon Blanc is our favorite summer-time white wine and these days, Washington state and California are producing some excellent juice that rivals the world-famous Bordeaux and New Zealand production.

Fun fact:
Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon. During the 18th century in Bordeaux, the Sauvignon Blanc vine paired with Cabernet Franc to parent the Cabernet Sauvignon vine.

Here are some excellent Sauvignon Blancs that we recently tasted.

2014 Columbia Crest H3 Sauvignon Blanc Horse Heaven Hills, $15
This rich wine from Columbia Crest in Washington state features some of the well-known characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc — tropical flavors of passion fruit, combined with citrus, pears and peaches. Crisp, fresh, clean with a layer of minerality means H3 pairs well with seafood, mild-flavored meats and even some richer dishes.

Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 11.39.15 AM2014 Sbragia Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc, $22
Sauv Blanc is the signature grape of Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley. Of the three we tasted from this area, this one from Zbragia was our favorite. Elegant, yet refreshing, and brimming with aromas and flavors of grapefruit, green apple and minerality, this beauty is tart, tangy and grassy – some classic features of an excellent Sauv Blanc. We adore this wine and just want to savor it with shrimp or prawn dishes.

2013 Gustafson Estate Sauvignon Blanc, $22
A blend of 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Sauvignon Musque (an aromatic Sauvignon Blanc clone), this wine has a remarkable creamy texture with notes of peaches and melon, and is more floral and tropical than citrusy. The Gustafson is more complex than a typical Sauv Blanc, but still pairs well with shellfish — crabs, scallops, prawns and oysters.

2013 Dry Creek Vineyard DCV3 Estate Sauvignon Blanc, $25
The most expensive of the four Sauvignon Blancs that we tasted, the powerful DCV3 from Dry Creek Vineyard is still a value at $25. Mineralogy is prominent on the palate, along with peaches and apples, and lemon on the finish. This medium-bodied wine bursts with flavors, and goes well with shellfish and light chicken dishes. It also pairs with asparagus and other veggies on the grill.

Many thanks to these wineries for the samples to taste.

Cheers,
Margot and Dave

Australian & Californian Winemaking Merge into Two Lands

Two LandsEarlier this month, we were invited to a virtual tasting of a new wine brand, Two Lands by Jacob’s Creek – a winemaking collaboration between Jacob’s Creek chief winemaker Bernard Hickin and award-winning Napa winemaker Ehren Jordan.

The branding of this new line of wines, launched exclusively in the U.S., says it all: “Two Lands: California craftsmanship meets Australian character. Harnessing the power of collaboration to bring together the best of both worlds”

This new venture merges Australian and Californian winemaking into four satisfying bottles of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our favorites were the Pinot Grigio and the Shiraz, both sourced with South Australia fruit.

2014 Two Lands Pinot Grigio
This refreshing, crisp summer sipper makes us think of lazy days on the deck. With beautiful flavors of apple, peach and citrus, this wine is rich, smooth and very rounded; it would pair well with icy prawns or some good cheddar. Jacob’s Creek recommends it with seafood chowder.

2013 Two Lands Shiraz
We became super fans of Shiraz after wine tasting in Adelaide during our trip to Australia a year ago. Two Lands Shiraz is medium-bodied and flavorful, with big ripe fruit, a lovely mouthfeel and a long, dry finish. It’s still young, so be sure to decant it for a few hours. This is definitely a food wine – think of BBQ ribs or a savory stew.

Each bottle is priced at $13.99, a testament to the notion that wine does not have to be expensive to be good.

Many thanks to Jacob’s Creek for the samples and including us in this digital tasting.

Cheers!
Margot and Dave