This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Wine Cellar Craftsman and Designer Philippe Leiritz


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and U 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

This week’s podcast; Philippe Leiritz and Your Custom Cellar http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/08/05/wine-guy-mike-for-august-5/

Recent podcast; What You Need To Know About Wine  http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/07/15/wine-guy-mike-for-july-15/

Last week’s podcast; Perfect Patio Wines http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/07/01/wine-guy-mike-for-july-1/

Recent podcast; (full length conversation) with Maximilian Riedel, CEO Riedel Crystal of America http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/06/24/wine-guy-mike-for-june-24/

Father’s Day podcast, Special Father’s and Special Wines http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/06/17/wine-guy-mike-for-june-17/

Recent Podcast with John Balletto of Balletto Vineyards & Winery http://bit.ly/WineGuyMike2

WineGuyMike with Perfect Patio Wines on KECI NBC Montana Today; http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/Mike-Tornatore-8-7-12/-/14594602/15999458/-/67a5ri/-/index.html

NBC Montana Today TV Segment on Easter wines and food pairing; http://www.nbcmontana.com/video/30847522/index.html

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to WineGuyMike show wines for the lowest price.  Located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Philippe Leiritz

Philippe Leiritz from YourCustomCellar.com

Philippe Leiritz was this week’s featured guest on the WineGuyMike Radio Show.  Leiritz is a native of Alsace, France and by professional trade worked as a mechanical engineer.  Leiritz and his wife Frederique worked together in Geneva, Switzerland prior to moving to and settling in Michigan.  Leiritz continued working in the engineering field but had no time to spend with his family. Frederique and Philippe made a decision to move to Missoula, Montana in pursuit of their dreams.

Collectively the Leiritz family is owner and proprietor of the Missoula Winery and Event Center.  Frederique who is from Champagne, France grew up and worked in a winery.  She is now the winemaker for her family winery and Philippe designs and builds wine cellars. 

Leiritz truly is a master craftsman with the mechanical engineering background.  A functional combination that comes together in the form of beautiful wine cellars custom built for all types of homes and businesses.

Learning how light, humidity and temperature are crucial for the finest wine storage.  There are four things that affect wines as they are stored; Temperature, Humidity, Light, and bottles need be stored horizontally on their side.

  1. Temperature 55°F – 59°F
  2. Humidity 50-70%
  3. Light – wines that are stored in areas with ample light often time indicates incorrect storage temperature.  Constant direct light is another factor to consider as it will begin breaking down wine.

In today’s world 90% of wines are made to be drunk within one year.  If you are a collector of vintage wines you already know how and where you should be storing your wines.  The bottom line; temperature is far more critical than a dark wine cellar.

  1. Lying the bottle down is critical, especially if you intend to store the wine for any length of time. The purpose of this is to keep the cork moist, if your bottle is setting upright there is no liquid to keep the cork wet and swollen thus sealing the bottle correctly and keeping the oxygen out until you are ready to drink the wine.

With synthetic corks do not need contact with the wine to protect the bottle but then you should still be laying the bottle down.  This is important for unfiltered wines with sediment being spread out evenly through a horizontally stored bottle rather than collecting on the bottom of one that is stored upright.  Remember the wine in the bottle is alive and changing every day and the sediment in the bottle plays its part in this too, but that is another story for another day…

Commercial wine rack at a local tasting room

Commercial wine rack at a local tasting room

Master craftsman Leiritz also points out the choice of wood used in a cellar is critical for your cellar.  Redwood, mahogany, oak and alder are a few of the recommended choices for cellars.  Price, relative humidity, home décor, and personal preference all become a part of making the right choice for your wine cellar, Leiritz’s expertise is crucial when it comes to assisting you in these decisions.  

It is important to note that Leiritz builds cellars for all types of homes from modest to elegant custom homes.  There are even nice small racks that allow for proper wine storage for common guys like me.

This was a fun and informative radio show this week and Philippe Leiritz craftsmanship is extraordinary, having a nice cellar makes collecting and drinking wine just that much more enjoyable.  For more information please visit the website at; http://www.yourcustomcellar.com/home   

Here are two WineGuyMike wines that I recommend for your wine rack, pick them up at Missoula’s finest wine shopping experience, Liquid Planet located in the Heart of Downtown Missoula.

The wines reviewed today all receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™

From my table to yours,

"from my table to yours"

This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Paul Hobbs CrossBarn Winery


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and U 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

Today’s podcast; Paul Hobbs CrossBarn Winery head winemaker Scott Morrison is this week’s featured guest, http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/07/22/wine-guy-mike-for-july-22nd/

Last week’s podcast; What You Need To Know About Wine  http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/07/15/wine-guy-mike-for-july-15/

Last week’s podcast; Perfect Patio Wines http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/07/01/wine-guy-mike-for-july-1/

Recent podcast; (full length conversation) with Maximilian Riedel, CEO Riedel Crystal of America http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/06/24/wine-guy-mike-for-june-24/

Father’s Day podcast, Special Father’s and Special Wines http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/06/17/wine-guy-mike-for-june-17/

Recent Podcast with John Balletto of Balletto Vineyards & Winery http://bit.ly/WineGuyMike2

NBC Montana Today TV Segment on Easter wines and food pairing; http://www.nbcmontana.com/video/30847522/index.html

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to WineGuyMike show wines for the lowest price.  Located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Paul Hobbs and his eleven siblings were raised on a one hundred fifty year old farm in upstate New York.  If you placed an X in the very center of that farm you would be standing at the barn the Hobbs children knew as wondrous and magical place.  That barn is now referred to by Paul as the CrossBarn.

Hobbs is arguably one of the top winemakers in America; he is also respected as one of the top wine consultant’s worldwide, producing world-class wines in California and Argentina. Producing wines of distinct character require sourcing grapes from only the finest vineyards, a task and talent Hobbs excels at. 

Scott Morrison’s career in wine began in a very practical way, interning at a winery in the Napa Valley.  Having discovered his passion he embarked on an academic track, studying viticulture and enology at the University of California at Davis.  After finishing school Morrison traveled to New Zealand, a country whose focus is growing cool weather varietal grapes, it was there he honed his white winemaking skills.  Once back in California Morrison worked with The Hess Collection and Rudd Winery, and most recently Paul Hobbs Winery.  Morrison is now head winemaker at Paul Hobbs CrossBarn Winery. 

CrossBarn Winery produces elegant wine offering true consumer value, thanks to the collaboration of Hobbs and Morrison.  The grapes used in CrossBarn wines are carefully hand harvested striving to preserve the core integrity of the fruit.  All three current wines are from the 2009 vintage.

The wines I’m recommending are great wines, food friendly and available at Liquid Planet. 

This wine pairs well with shellfish and will be on sale for $24.99 until Friday 7/29.

This wine pairs well with Lamb and Chops and will be on sale for $28.99 until Friday 7/29.

This wine pairs well with grilled meats with ample marbling and will be on sale for $33.99 until Friday 7/29.

Pair this wine with; Oysters on the half shell, Salmon, Tuna, Tenderloin of Pork.

Sale Price until 7/29/2012  $13.99

The wines reviewed today all receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™

The wine selections from today’s show are available today, all especially priced until 7/29, at Liquid Planet, in the heart of Downtown Missoula, Missoula’s ultimate wine shopping experience and the very best of beverage.

From my table to yours,

"from my table to yours"

This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Simply What You Need To Know About Wine


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and U 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

Today’s podcast; What You Need To Know About Wine  http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/07/15/wine-guy-mike-for-july-15/

Last week’s podcast; Perfect Patio Wines http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/07/01/wine-guy-mike-for-july-1/

Recent podcast; (full length conversation) with Maximilian Riedel, CEO Riedel Crystal of America http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/06/24/wine-guy-mike-for-june-24/

Father’s Day podcast, Special Father’s and Special Wines http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/06/17/wine-guy-mike-for-june-17/

Recent Podcast with John Balletto of Balletto Vineyards & Winery http://bit.ly/WineGuyMike2

NBC Montana Today TV Segment on Easter wines and food pairing; http://www.nbcmontana.com/video/30847522/index.html

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to WineGuyMike show wines for the lowest price.  Located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

What’s Important to Know about Wine

This is WineGuyMike, good Sunday morning and welcome back to this week’s show.  Before I delve into this week’s topic I wanted to let you know that next week my featured guest will be Scott Morrison from the Russian River Valley.  Scott is winemaker the Paul Hobbs label, Crossbarn.  You will not want to miss this interesting show.

This week I’m sharing with you what I believe is really important to know about wine.  I have developed the WineGuyMike Wine Template©, a 10 point simple look that allows you to understand any wine easily.  This is important to know for many reasons, it empowers you if you are shopping for wine, tasting wine, or helping someone else to better understand wine. 

You may have noticed the last few weeks on my blog that I have been displaying the wines I’m sharing with you by utilizing the wine templates.  I feel very strongly that keeping wine as simple as possible is ultimately important.  As you may know we don’t encourage any wine snobbery here on the WineGuyMike show.

The templates generally include ten different points that is necessary for you to understand what a wines personality and a wines physical attributes.  The new templates also help you to better understand your palate and the taste profile of a wine that are appealing to you.

Here is the list and a description of 10 points I cover on each WineGuyMike Wine Template©.

  1. Style – New World or Old World

-         The style of wines can be significant depending on the winemaker’s philosophy and whether they make their wines in an Old World or New World Style.  Remember Old World wines from the Old World are made to complement foods that are grown or raised in that particular area or region.  The Old World wines often are restrained, simple and lower in alcohol content.  Wine from the New World typically has been made to drink; pairing foods with a New World wine is a bit more complicated for the average wine drinker, unlike the Old World you know what to pair the wine with if you understand what the common foods from a particular region are. 

  1. Region or Area – Where is the wine from?

-         In the Old World viticulturists and winemakers have let the land and weather, also known as terroir, dictate what grapes are grown where.  The New World now is also acutely focused on terroir, it is critical to growing grapes that reflect a true expression of the grapes varietal and tha sense of place.  Grapes that are grown in areas that are not best suited for the varietal may produce wines that are not pleasing.

  1. Grapes – What is the grape type?

-         What is your grape style?  Do you like light, medium, or full bodied wines?  Do you like wines that are dry or have a subtle sweetness to them?  Do you like wines that are lush or may have a bit of zing to them?  Knowing the grape varietals and their particular characteristics is vital to your enjoyment of wine.

  1. Designation – Old World Laws vs. New World Regions

-         In the Old World there are wines laws that dictate where a grape is grown, and how much can be produced, how grapes are pruned, harvested, and in some cases how the wines are made.  The New World is now beginning to implement some of these requirements although not nearly to the degree of the Old World.  In France you will notice on a label A.O.C., in Italy you have the D.O.C. or D.O.C.G and Spain you have the D.O.  The New World now typically identifies the origin, AVA or American Viticulture Area, of a wine.  These areas are geographically defined.  American wine law identifies on the label whether a wine is Estate produced and bottled, there are also requirements about how much of a varietal must be in a bottle of wine in order to be identified as such.

  1. Vintage – What year was the wine produced?

-         This is important to know as wines from the same vineyards vary mainly depending on weather.  Each year, just like vegetables crops, the harvest will be different. 

  1. Color – Colors vary and tell part of a wines story

-         In white wines this varies from Pale Yellow Green at one end of the spectrum to Brown. This is due to age, varietal, and influence from oak barrels.  Red wines vary from Purple to Brown, white wines gain color as they age and red wines lose color with age.

  1. Nose – This is what we sense when we put our nose to the glass

-         Aroma; a generally positive term describing the smell of a wine, for example, fruity, earthy, or even spicy.

-         Bouquet; this refers to the scent that a wine develops with age.  This is not to be confused with the wines aroma.

  1. Palate – That’s right what do we taste, what is the flavor?

-         We can sense four different tastes and possible five but that is still debatable, and they are;  sweet, bitter, salty, sour, and perhaps an ability to sense MSG otherwise known as umami

  1. Finish – What’s left behind?

-         The aftertaste of the wine, flavor and sensation.  How long does it last and what are the subtle nuances?

  1.  Vinification– What do you need to know about how the wine was made?

-         There are techniques that are used by winemakers that greatly affect a wines style, this is important to know.

Here are the wines that I’m recommending for you this week, yes in the WineGuyMike Wine Template© format.  Please let me know what you think.  The wines I’m sharing are great inexpensive food friendly wines that are available at Liquid Planet. 

Pair this wine with; Oysters on the half shell, Salmon, Tuna, Tenderloin of Pork.

Sale Price until 7/20/2012  $13.99

Pair this wine with; Barbeque, Pork Chop with herbs, Fowl.

Sale Price until 7/20/2012  $9.99

The wines reviewed today all receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™

The wine selections from today’s show are available today, all especially priced until 7/20, at Liquid Planet, in the heart of Downtown Missoula, Missoula’s ultimate wine shopping experience and the very best of beverage.

From my table to yours,

"from my table to yours"

This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Yossie Horwitz on Israeli and Kosher Wine


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

This week’s podcast with Yossie Horwitz, Israeli wine expert http://bit.ly/WineGuyMikeShow

Last week’s podcast with Frank Sterns of Aurielle Vineyards http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/05/06/wine-guy-mike-for-may-6th/

NBC Montana Today TV Segment on Easter wines and food pairing; http://www.nbcmontana.com/video/30847522/index.html

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to find your holiday wine located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

WineGuyMike would like to wish all Mom’s around the world a Happy Mother’s Day today.  As we talk about wine today I would like to propose a toast with my finest wine to all Moms’, and in the spirit of todays radio show and blog post l’chaim. 

This week Yossie Horwitz joined me from Manhattan, New York to dispel the misconceptions of the sacramental wines enjoyed by the Jewish religion and culture.  Yossie is an attorney at a major International law firm by day, after hours he is the authority on Israeli wine and the production and protocol of Kosher wine.

This was a topic I’ve been interested in for a long time.  As I mention in today’s show the word Kosher is used in every day conversation as “good” or “okay”, well I wanted to know more.  Most wine drinkers remember Manischewitz, as a kid growing up in New York in the 60’s that was about the only thing you could find on the grocery store shelf.  At least that was true until Mateus wine, the sweet frizzante rose´ from Portugal adorned the shelves of stores everywhere.

Manischewitz was sweet, heavy and cloying, which is why kosher wines carried such a negative connotation.  Today’s featured guest Yossie Horwitz, a real expert in this area cleared up for us.  I’m not going to go into great detail today, but I will direct you to the podcast of Yossie and WineGuyMike’s entire conversation that really covers all the detail on Israeli and Kosher wines; http://bit.ly/WineGuyMikeShow

The truth about kosher wines:

  1. Any wine can be Kosher if produced and made within guidelines set forth by Jewish Law and overseen by a recognized Rabbi
  2. Wines remain Kosher for Jews if opened and served by a fellow practicing Jew
  3. Kosher wine is not only enjoyed on a daily basis but is also used for sacramental and ceremonial purposes by those of the Jewish Faith
  4. Today’s Kosher wines can be world-class

Israeli wines are becoming more readily available in the United States, albeit a bit expensive due to excise tax from importation.  According to Yossie and WineGuyMike’s research Israeli wines can be outstanding.  Israel’s wine country and its terroir have been recognized by European wine producers who have partnered with existing wineries and winemakers.  As Yossie informed the listeners on the show this is a retail segment that is experiencing growth around the world.  The terroir in certain wine country areas of Israel are perfect for developing Bordeaux and Rhone grape varietals.  This coupled with the Old World influence of European winemaking and New World winemaking technique of young Israeli winemakers is producing outstanding wines that we should taste. As Yossie pointed out many of the wines being produced in Israel are worthy of the term he coined, “Super Israeli Wines”.

Yossie is one of the annual judges for the Jewish Week’s Kosher Wine Guide and is leading a tour of Israeli wineries this summer for Emunah of America (a not for profit). He was also recently interviewed on NPR on the topic of kosher wines.  Yossie also selects and writes about wines for the Leket Wine Club which benefits Leket Israel, Israel’s national food bank and food rescue organization (on whose board he actively sits).  To connect with Yossie you should join him on his website; www.yossiescorkboard.com where he shares extensive information and has a newsletter you can subscribe to.

WineGuyMike’s Israeli wine recommendation for you this week is from Recanati Winery.

Recanati Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine is made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes harvested in their choice Galilee vineyards.  The aroma of this full bodied wine comprises hues of cassis and black forest fruits with hints of black pepper, cloves and nutmeg.

Aged in French and American oak with intense tannins this well balanced wine must be decanted to enjoy it at its best now.  This wine will age well for 3-5 years. Enjoy pairings of choice beef, lamb and smoked piquant cheeses.

This Super-Israeli wine receives the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™.

I want to thank my friend Yossie Horwitz for joining the WineGuyMike radio show this week, it was a real pleasure.

You can listen to the show live on the Trail 103.3FM or U 104.5FM.  These shows are podcast for your convenience and available on my blog at; www.WineGuyMike.wordpress.com

From my table to yours,

"from my table to yours"

This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Frank Sterns of Aurielle Vineyards in the Napa Valley


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast Frank Sterns of Aurielle Vineyards http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/05/06/wine-guy-mike-for-may-6th/

Last week’s podcast with Justin Wylie and Va Piano Vineyards; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/04/22/wine-guy-mike-for-april-22/

NBC Montana Today TV Segment on Easter wines and food pairing; http://www.nbcmontana.com/video/30847522/index.html

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to find your holiday wine located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Featuring guests such as Frank Sterns is why I love doing what I do, all things wine media.  Frank is a modern day example of what this country is founded on, hard work, dreams, and tenacity, an entrepreneurial success story.

A native Californian who now resides in Florida Sterns career focus was the Audio/Video Industry.  He built a very successful sound business that not only required hard work but entertaining his clients also.  As Sterns recalled during our conversation good wine while dining with clients had a true impact on the success of his business.

Sterns passion for wine grew throughout his career and in 2005 when he sold his sound company.   His exit strategy involved a new dream and a new plan, to build a winery in the Napa Valley.  It was while dining at the renowned French Laundry restaurant that Sterns focused in on the wines that he loved and the type of wine he was determined he was going to make at his winery.

Sterns business acumen and wisdom led him to UC Davis where he studied various wine courses he knew would be crucial in building and running a successful winery operation.  This also provided Sterns the background he would need to partner with a likeminded winemaker.

Aurielle Vineyards grapes are grown in three premium vineyards in the mountain appellations of Mt. Veeder and Howell Mountain.  The Mt. Veeder vineyards are located at the northern edge of the appellation providing lush, dark, earthy fruit.  The soils of Mt. Veeder consist of pushed up sea bed that lend to that style of fruit.

The Howell Mountain vineyard is located at high altitude producing big concentrated red fruits.  Howell Mountain was formed from volcanic eruptions producing very different fruit from Mt. Veeder.  These contrasting styles of fruit brought together in the hands of a great winemaker can become amazing wine.

Enter Chad Alexander who grew up in this area and really has a sixth sense of the land, the fruits it produces, and what to do with it from vintage to vintage.  Chad is a former head winemaker for Robert Craig and produces a style of wine, Napa Valley mountain cabernets, that Frank Sterns sought to produce.

Aurielle Vineyards produces distinctive world-class wines utilizing the science of grape growing and winemaking combined with skillful winemaking that is unencumbered by constraints of production costs or quotas.

Sterns has formed relationships with premium grape growers that only work with the finest of winemakers and winery’s committed to producing the very best wine.  That is exactly what Sterns and Alexander have produced in their 2008 vintage of Aurielle Cabernet Sauvignon.  Not only is the 2008 Aurielle Cabernet a world-class wine of distinct character and typicity, it is also very unique.  The winemaking blend of Howell Mountain and Mt. Veeder fruit is rare but Alexander has done an artful job in making this wine.

The Aurielle 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon has depth of color, elegant in the glass, nearly purple, beautifully vicious.

A floral, spicy nose, red fruit, black fruit, and enticing aroma that is big yet complex, smooth and silky.  A few descriptions usually reserved for the palate yet were appropriate comments for the aroma of this sophisticated wine.

Pumice like tannin great the palate coating the sides of the mouth with velvet silk. Plum, spice, earthen leather, and a hint of vanilla from the judicious use of oak, and then a lingering nuance of berry is memorable, a treat for anyone’s palate, even the most sophisticated of wine drinkers.

I enjoyed this wine so much I shared it with Missoula proprietor Ed Wells of The Depot restaurant last night as I enjoyed this superb wine with my dinner.  My main course was beef, I had to pair this wine with a medium-rare New York cut that was peppered and dressed with Maytag Blue cheese.  I want more of each right now as I think about this very memorable pairing.

Frank Sterns and Chad Alexander have made an exceptional wine in their Aurielle 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and I thank them both for sharing it with me.  This impeccable wine receives the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™.

You can listen to the show live on the Trail 103.3FM or U 104.5FM.  These shows are podcast for your convenience and available on my blog at; www.WineGuyMike.wordpress.com

From my table to yours,

"from my table to yours"

This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Biodynamic Grape Farming


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; Biodynamic grape farming; http://www.trail1033.com/Podcasts/Podcast-Wine-Guy-Mike-for-April-29-441372

Last week’s podcast with Justin Wylie and Va Piano Vineyards; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/04/22/wine-guy-mike-for-april-22/

NBC Montana Today TV Segment on Easter wines and food pairing; http://www.nbcmontana.com/video/30847522/index.html

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to find your holiday wine located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Green farming is a part of the “Green” movement we hear about every day.  The word “Green” is the politically correct buzzword that is attached it seems to every advertising and marketing campaign initiative in the world today.

When green farming is utilized in the viticulture and winemaking process there are real consumer benefits.  It is important as wine consumers to understand a little bit about all of this.

There are three levels of green farming; Certified Sustainable, Certified Organic, and Certified Biodynamic.  My focus of this article is Biodynamic Farming but first let’s understand all three green farming methods.

Certified Sustainable – This farming method employs farming techniques that are environmentally sound.  Biodiversity, soil revitalization and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) are all techniques that are a part of this farming method.  This viticulture program results in the cultivation of grapes with better varietal character of flavors and aromas.  For the consumer this means more distinct wine products.

Certified Organic – This method of farming combines the Certified Sustainable practices with the organic grape growing techniques. Organic Farming permits no use of synthetic chemicals and uses natural methods of farming such as crop rotation, tillage and natural composting to maintain and promote healthy soil.  Natural techniques to control weeds, insects and other pest management are implemented.  Grape growers who utilize these farming methods can see the results in their vineyards and are inspired to continue their natural progression of green farming.

Certified Biodynamic – This method of farming developed as a result of instincts shared by philosopher Rudolf Steiner in 1924.  Biodynamic farming is the culmination of sustainable and organic farming methods and the incorporation of these harmonious philosophy developed by Steiner that he referred to as “Anthrophosophy” which in this case views a vineyard as a single organism.  Biodynamic farming incorporates biodiversity, independent nutrient system, homeopathic preparations, and a true spiritual connection with the land.  This farming method utilizes sheep to control weeds, cattle for manure and compost, chickens for pest control, and the instinct and intuitive trust of the viticulturist working with the land and vineyards in a harmonious way.

Biodynamic farming has the capability to combine with terroir, or sense of place, to produce individual grapes of distinct varietal character with robust flavor and aroma.  This is true value for the consumer, wines that are naturally healthy with enhanced flavors and aromas.

Biodynamic farming is an overall concept that is simple in theory, more difficult to implement.  Let’s use an analogy of the human race and Biodynamic farming to better understand this concept.  Every person is a unique individual who grows and develops and comes to a better understanding of who they are throughout the process.  Through this process of evolution, growth, and understanding we become better at accepting who we are as a person.  There is an understanding that allows an individual to work with their unique characteristics.  A person in concept becomes whole and healthy spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

Each wine region, area, vineyard, and vineyard block is unique unto itself in all respects.  Biodynamic farming respects and understands this and approaches it as such.

There are some very interesting aspects of Biodynamic farming such as planting on the new moon and bottling wine on the waning moon and generally recognizing seasonal changes and effects.  Horns from cattle are collected and stuffed with manure and buried.  They are dug up in spring and the manure has been transformed into a rich hummus that is combined with water as a rich tincture treatment for the soil.  This promotes healthy soil and root systems.  Over summer months cow’s horns are packed with quartz and silica crystals and then buried.  They are then dug up in the fall and combined with water making a tincture that is used on the grape leaves aiding in photosynthesis and naturally enhancing the flavor of the grapes.

Plants are also used in the Biodynamic farming process; Fermented Yarrow is used to help breakdown compost, fermented Chamomile aides the composting process and also nourishes the soil and stabilizes the nitrogen within the soil, Stinging Nettle, Oak Bark, Dandelion, and Valerion aid composting and enrich the nutrients in soil, Horsetail Plant is made into tea and sprayed on vines to prevent fungal disease. 

Conventional agricultural thinking views itself as a commodity while Biodynamic farming is focused on developing individuality.  The concept of Biodynamic farming is a perfect fit for the grape farming sector of agriculture.  The Biodynamic farming method has taken hold in the wine world as it is truly one area of agriculture that desires premium quality.  Throughout history there are special places in the world that produce wine of distinct character just as there are unique individuals who can discern these characteristics while blind tasting wines.  Few agricultural sectors in the world can match the ability of a unique vineyard for complete harmony of land, people, animals, plants, and environment.  This is Biodynamic farming and as farmers embrace ecology, sustainability, and energy this concept of farming will become prevalent.

You can listen to the show live on the Trail 103.3FM or U 104.5FM.  These shows are podcast for your convenience and available on my blog at; www.WineGuyMike.wordpress.com

From my table to yours,

"from my table to yours"

This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Justin Wylie of Va Piano Vineyards


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast with Justin Wylie and Va Piano Vineyards; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/04/22/wine-guy-mike-for-april-22/

NBC Montana Today TV Segment on Easter wines and food pairing; http://www.nbcmontana.com/video/30847522/index.html

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Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to find your holiday wine located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

Walla Walla in Washington State is located in one of the world’s premier grape growing and wine producing areas of the world; this is also home to Justin Wylie owner and winemaker of Va Piano Vineyards.

Walla Walla is one of 11 different AVA’s within the great Columbia Valley AVA which was established in 1984.  This area was first settled by Italian immigrants in the 1850’s but in 1984 became an officially recognized AVA.

The farming community of Walla Walla has been transformed from an agriculture area that produced some of the best onions and wheat in the world to a special place that will be recognized as one of the significant wine producing areas of the world. 

There are now over 125 wineries in the Walla Walla area.  One of those wineries is Va Piano Vineyards.  This week on the WineGuyMike show owner and winemaker Justin Wylie took timeout to join me for a conversation and a tasting of the Va Piano wines.

Justin Wylie graduated from Gonzaga University but it was during his senior year in 1995 that he had a life changing experience.  The fourth generation Walla Wallan and spent the year in Florence, Italy studying humanities under the tutelage of Italian native, Bruno Segatta.

The plan for Wylie was to return to Walla Walla and join the family’s stone monument business, but something happened along the way.  As many have he fell in love with the culture and lifestyle of Italy, he was inspired to do something different.  Italians understand that great wines are made in the vineyard and the winemaker is the caretaker of the grapes once they have been harvested.  This became Wylie’s passion.

Father Bruno Segatta not only was a teacher he became a mentor for Wylie and inspired him to believe in himself and his dreams.  Chi va piano va sano y va lontano is a bit of wisdom that Segatta shared with Wylie: He who goes slowly goes safely and goes far.  This was imprinted within the heart of Wylie.

La Famiglia is the soul of Italy and was also very important to Wylie who is married with three children.  Wylie’s wife Liz is business partner and critical to the operations at Va Piano.  La Famiglia is everything at the vineyard, when you visit you are a part of the Va Piano family.  The wonderful theme of community transcends all of the Walla Walla wine collaborative with an attitude of; “One for all, and all for one”.

When you visit the Va Piano Vineyards property you have a sense of Old World charm as Liz and Justin have worked very hard to create an atmosphere of Italy.  Together they have built an Italian style home and winery with heart and soul, this is a winery you don’t want to miss when you visit Walla Walla.

Wylie spent five years in his garage making test lots, and a cult following formed around the Vino del Garage wines.  In order to hone his skills as a viticulturist and winemaker he traveled back and forth to UC Davis taking countless classes in the renowned department of viticulture and enology.

 His philosophy as a winemaker is rooted in the word balance: balance in the vineyard, balance in the wines, and balance in our lives. His goal is to showcase the wines with a sense of place and respect for the fruit, and always remember to be a grower first and winemaker second. 

Father Bruno still has a significant place in the Wylie families lives.  Segatta who is not only a humanitarian and scholar is also a gifted artist who is quite well known.  Va Piano’s tasting room is filled with his original oil paintings depicting iconic Florence architecture and Tuscan landscapes.  Justin and Liz created Bruno’s Blend, a multi-vintage red blend and white blend in his honor. A different original Bruno painting is used to create the label each vintage, and a portion of the proceeds are donated to a charity of Bruno’s choice.

With over 125 wineries in Walla Walla and a little less than 2000 acres devoted to vineyards, the predominant varietals grown are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Syrah.  Sangiovese also grows very well in Walla Walla which is one reason why the Italians chose to settle this area.  There are a multitude of other red and white varietals being grown and developed in the area too.

The soil in this region is the result of layers of alluvial soil from the Lake Missoula floods and volcanic eruptions.  The Missoula Floods were a series of perhaps 35-40 geologic cataclysms that swept across Eastern Washington and down the Columbia Gorge at the end of the last ice age around 12,000 and 15,000 years ago.  These massive floods were a result of ruptures in the glacial ice dam that created Montana’s Glacial Lake Missoula.  The flood level reached 1200 feet at its greatest depth which resulted in layers of soil and deposits from volcanic eruptions.  This left behind a layer of bedrock that facilitates an incredible terrior that imparts itself into the grapes grown in this unique hamlet of the wine world.

Chi va piano, va sano e va lontano; He who goes slowly, goes safely and goes far. This old Italian saying sums up Va Piano Vineyards approach to winemaking, and to life.  Wylie’s winemaking philosophy; grow the best grapes we can and don’t screw it up in the cellar. Va Piano wines display intense flavors, fine tannin structure and intense aromas.

Va Piano’s 20-acre estate property, located in the Southeast corner of the Walla Walla Valley, has been producing grapes since 1999.  Seventy percent of our grape production is used by our winery and the balance is sold to premium Walla Walla Valley wineries such as L’Ecole #41, Saviah Cellars and Dunham Cellars.

In December of 2005, Va Piano celebrated their grand opening by releasing their first vintages, a 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2003 Syrah which have been given outstanding reviews.

Wylie also sources grapes from a number of other vineyards in the region so that every Va Piano wine has the flavor profile he strives for in each of his wines.  Justin and I tasted three of his Va Piano Vineyards wines; the 2009 Brunos Blend, The 2008 Syrah, and 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon.

As Old World tradition would have it all three of the Va Piano wines will be an exceptional complement to a correctly paired meal.  Bruno’s Blend is very forgiving and will pair with a wide array on meals as this was the lightest bodied of the three wines I tasted with Wylie.  The Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah were both varietally correct and very enjoyable to taste.  All three wines have very good balance of fruit and acidity, very nice structure.  Wylie has really struck a nice balance between the Old World and New World with these wines, I look forward to watching him grow as a winemaker.  He has talent and potential as a winemaker, two things that I love.

The Tasting Flight

2009 Brunos Blend

Nose – fruit, earth, smoke

Palate – easy, silky tannin, fruit to acid is great

Finish – nice finish to complement food and not get in the way of it

2008 Syrah

Nose – red fruits, raspberry and boysenberry, clean minerality

Palate – nice fruit and acidity, gaminess, and spice

Finish – lingering spice and fruit, delicious

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

Nose – black cherry, underlying berry, chocolate, spice

Palate – just right tannin, restrained fruit, very slight sweet vanilla

Finish – long, smooth, luscious

The Va Piano Vineyards wines reviewed today all receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™

You can listen to the show live on the Trail 103.3FM or U 104.5FM.  These shows are podcast for your convenience and available on my blog at; www.WineGuyMike.wordpress.com

From my table to yours,

"from my table to yours"