Mother’s Days Wines and Beyond

President Wilson Mother’s Day proclamation made it is holiday that is now observed in the US each May. I certainly think it is a great day to have one day out of the year focused on mothers. I do hope and I feel many people celebrate their mother on this day and many other days as well.

I do hope it is an opportunity to celebrate with food and wine (if your mother does enjoy wine). A great way to highlight mom is to celebrate with a nice meal, perhaps a picnic where you surprise the mom in your life, or a BBQ or even dining out. So as long as mom is the celebrant and is not cooking or cleaning but is being treated to a special experience. Any why not add a few nice touches like a few wines I am suggesting below:

Château de la Ragotière Les Vieieles Vignes Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie

This producer is owned by Amélie Dugué-Couillaud. This wine is a delight to palate and spirit. A wine that is completely approachable and appreciable from first sip to finish. This wine is 100% Melon de Bourgogne and has a definitive connection to the Atlantic. This wine has contact with lees for 10 months which give an uplift of sophistication and elegance. This wine possess a super low ABV of 12%.

Nose: fresh wine, highly nuanced notes of passion fruit, Kiwi fruit, moist stones and fresh flowers.

Palate: appreciable weight and body, initially it seems there would be effervescence but there are no bubbles whatsoever–a clean, crisp wine with expressive notes of oyster shell, green apple, Bosc pear, and beeswax.

Pairing: triple-crème cheeses, oysters, roasted chicken, vegetarian white pizza and much more.

A completely reasonable Suggested Retail Price (SRP) of $17.99

Lievland Old Vine Paarl Chenin Blanc 2020 

I love Chenin Blanc and South African has been doing a very good job of producing delightful Chenin Blanc year over year. I am found of this producer and have recently tasted their Pinotage which is superbly produced. As I understand it this producer was the first to have a female winemaker in South Africa which extends with their current Assistant Winemaker Mahalia Kotjane.

What a very enduring and memorable label – the label depicts an orphaned Bokkie (a small antelope) which was adopted by the farms two horses – a touching label with the cupid on top of the Bokkie.

This producer is a seventh generation family wine producer – Briers-Lauw Family and they have been in South African since 1693. I understand that this wine is all dry farmed and one third of this is sourced from their 1976 planting of Chenin Blanc. This producer is sustainable and certified by IPW (Integrated Production of Wine). I am a fan of Chenin Blanc – a wine with the weight that is appreciable and a wine filled with character and delight.

Nose: rich with lovely minerality, yellow citrus zest, and fleshy Comice pear.

Palate: is appreciable and certainly dry–there is a moment when you are beginning the palate journey that you might expect a hint of sweetness then the full palate exposure informs of dryness. The palate notes are Granny Smith green apple, green pear, and oyster shell imparting salinity and minerality.

Pairing: aged Gouda, white pasta dishes, Salmon, Branzino and much more.

SRP of $18.99

Marqués de Cáceres Rueda Verdejo 2020

A high quality producer owned and operated by Cristina Forner. This producer certainly known for their Rioja wines and are also producing this stellar wine from Rueda. The wine variety of Verdejo is easy to like on many fronts–the palate will thank you and the price point of $12.99 is certainly another. This region is certainly getting more accolades and attention; it is something of an undiscovered country to be discovered.

Nose: Sauvignon Blanc-esque, notes of golden and green citrus zest, lemon curd and moisten minerals.

Palate: Amalfi lemon, crushed seashells and fennel

Pairing: Salmon cakes, shrimp, pizza with clams

SRP: $12.99

And also add a sparkling wine to the mix–I love this Crémant de Loire and endless possibilities of serving this special wine with food.

And be sure to do more than one Mother’s day per year (not including her birthday) to show mom your love and appreciation and do so without telling her it is another mother’s day and I am sure she would appreciate it.

I would also say if you are going out for Mother’s Day in May (or another date as I understand that people are still not gathering on 9-May of this year but will carve in another date) bring one or a couple wines of these wines to the restaurant you are taking her to if you will be dining out. There maybe a corkage fee but you will be bringing a special wine that she, you and everyone will also appreciate. So many restaurants have wines on their menus but they may not have these available – so why not bring one or several of these wines for a special touch!

I hope you have a wonder mother’s day on 9-May or another date you will be celebrating mom!



© 2021 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Wine Club Memberships – Strategically Manage Your Memberships

I’ll begin by saying this is not an anti-wine club article. If I was a wine producer I would have a wine club program as it is a legitimate offering of any wine producer.

These are some of the types of messages I got about people’s wine club memberships in 2020 and 2021.”

I need to reduce my club memberships

“Help–I have too many wine”

I am surprised in 2020 and 2021 that I got more of these types of messages more than ever before. There is a belief that more people drank more wine last year; more people were buying less from restaurants (on premise) and more from DTC. Also, some people and I did ask in detail more questions: ‘why were they drinking less’ or at least not drinking their wine club wines – many responses were that they had fewer special occasions. Some people felt the cost of their membership, in particular, as many wineries were closed due to the pandemic for large part of 2020 and some part of 2021 that they could not benefit from in person tastings. The wine club membership felt weighty.

Wait…fewer occasions?

Dependency on visiting a winery to feel engaged?

So many of these people felt their wine club wines were only for special occasions and hence they were collecting more wines and not drinking some of what they are collecting. Also people do excuse wine inventory build up if they feel they experience their wine club producer in person. I did ask how about attending virtual tastings their wineries offered? Interestingly, while many did attend no one opened a bottle of that producers wine up during the virtual tasting?!

But this reach out to me signifies that people are still afraid to enjoy what they buy and especially wine club wines because these are often higher bottle price points than what they buy at a wine retailer.

So there are two bookend holders for what is creating stress in wine club memberships and it is an extension of what people feel about wine in general: if you will the left book end is fearing drinking more expensive bottles of wine and the right book end is fearing too much aging on wines or perhaps fearing the wines that are past their prime.

I have suggested to people to remove these book end mindsets about wine. I’d say when I walked someone through these mindsets they didn’t know they had them or were at least conscious of them. Probably obvious but wine is to be enjoyed and not feared (there is plenty of wine out there and you can buy a new bottle to replace the last one enjoyed) and also developing an appreciation of wine by enjoying more aged wines. We are still in a mystified wine period and it is not just based on particular generation but it is all generations from my observation We are still in this conundrum and in my chief mission has been to demystify wine.

Simply if a winery club wine price points are higher than you feel comfortable drinking then why be in that particular wine club? The benefits you get from a membership may not be worth what you spend per year. One of the benefits people do enjoy is a free tasting for two or more people and yet the cost of paying for those tastings would be less than if they purchase one years worth of wine club wines. Yes, California wine tasting fees (particularly Napa and Sonoma) are expensive, very expensive; higher than Oregon, Washington and well any regions in the US and even abroad.

I have very much enjoyed the wine club memberships I have participated in and I strategically managed them and felt I got value out of them. The gratis tastings were not the driver – the whole experience is what drove me to enjoy them and maximize my experience. I engaged with special events for wine club members and I took advantage of wine club-only wine offerings and even purchased more because I thought were compelling and were important to me. Also, I let some of the wines enter into my cellars library and was very comfortable for letting my wines age. I have been comfortable with drinking what I did get in my shipments and not just for rarefied occasions. In the past, I have made a special event in my own home to enjoy it–and maybe that is with a few people for a nice dinner.

Your wine club membership should fit in with your comfort level of wine acquisitions on a per bottle cost basis.

Five Things to Think About In Acquiring Wines: write each of these down in your journal or a spreadsheet from the five points below

  1. What is your wine budget?
  2. How many bottles does your household drink per week?
  3. When do you drink your wines? Rarely, Only for Special Occasions, Routinely
  4. What is your per bottle spend that you feel comfortable in spending?
  5. Write down on a spreadsheet or in your journal your spending on wine (easy to do and I’ll show you a budget below); knowing what you are spending can help to ease your discomfort with your wine club and/or wine purchasing in general and you can make course corrections if necessary

Annual Wine Budget Example

I do not know anyone who does this. I do recommend it because it is a measure that might make you feel more comfortable or at least feel more certain about your wine purchases. In this example, this wine club consumer spend 44% of their annual wine budget in one wine club and the difference of $806 is what one has to spend for the year outside of the wine club.

Empower yourself and take strategic ownership on your memberships and by this extension this can be how you view your other annual budget items. I do this to manage my online subscriptions.

Five Strategies to Manage your Wine Club Memberships

  1. Start and stop memberships as needed: elevate club level membership level – decrease or increase quantity, styles (all reds, all whites or mixed), pausing membership for quarter, etc.
  2. Find a membership and producer with prices you feel comfortable with (review your budget match your comfort in spending to your wine club)
  3. If you are okay with more expensive wines in your club membership when do you plan on drinking them? Have a plan – write it out
  4. Be okay with engaging with what you have – create a special occasion, gift your wines as well
  5. Find comfort in laying down your wines – taste from the wine club memberships library wines – tasting aged wines and see if it fits your palate. Sometimes your wine club winery has opened up a library wine for tasting when you visit–ask them

I think if you have knowledge on how to manage your winery club wines you can make the decisions to make your purchasing more comfortable. I paused my membership on one producer and unfortunately the allotment I wanted had changed when I joined again and that can happen. If you take a break from your wine club membership you can re-start at anytime in the future. You will, of course, be welcomed back–no need for feeling guilty.

Being engaged with what you own is important and I would urge don’t “collect” wine in anticipating it will be worth a fortune in the future. But collect so that you can consume with those near and dear to you. As one of the people who reached out to me wanted to sell their wines. Most likely if they could find a place to sell their wines (auction house, retailer) they would not get the full price they paid for the wines and well why should they–the intermediary needs to make a profit as well. The wines this person had amassed was not filled with remarkable or even rare wines.

There are no expirations on wine and with that being said there are no guarantees that wines will age infinitely. Take ownership in the wines you buy insofar as feeling comfort and confidence in what you are buying–actively managing your membership and your purchases so they are in line with your budget and palate. Take control and strategically manage your wine club membership and non-wine club wine purchases to find satisfaction in what you are buying.



© 2021 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy. James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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First Quarter 2021 Wine Review

The very first few weeks were quiet on the wine front and no anteprima’s to attend anywhere.  I wondered where I was going to taste the equivalency of last years wines.  Thou I have receipted wines equivalent to last year’s quantity I am still missing tasting more wines that shows/events offer.   I hope that I will get to last years numbers of wines tasted but I am doubtful that will happen.  Perhaps second half of this year will offer shows but I am doubting that they will happen.  I don’t think wine regions outside the US will present their wines in the US this year.  At the time of this writing more things are opening up across the US but I am cautious to think that this will be smooth sailing.  The covid variant is out there and while the US rates of vaccination are leading Europe but are still a long way from herd immunity.

We do need to get to herd immunity for things to truly open up again.  I am concerned that number may not be reached by those not planning on being immunized.  We may be on this permanent course of this pandemic where a percentage are vaccinated and another percentage are not.

I do anticipate that virtual wine tastings are not only not going to go away or decline – we are going to have more of them.  Simply consumers have relationships with their favourite producers and may not live in the same state and will want to maintain even a virtual connection even post-pandemic.

I did conduct a very fun wine tasting of Blanc de Blancs Champagne.  I decided after the event to complete a video as I spent much time to develop.  So why not share?  Here is the video:


Here are the wines I tasted this quarter:

Blackbird Arise Napa Valley Red Wine 2016







This wine is 55% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Petit Verdot.  21 Months in French Oak 50% new and 50% seasoned.  14.1% ABV.  SRP: $45.

Nose: mix of blackberry and black currant, outdoorsy notes of Autumnal forest,

Palate: Blackberry confit, freshly ground spices, white pepper, and Tarragon.

Raeburn Russian River Valley Rosé 2020








This wine is a composition of 74% Pinot Noir, 22% Zinfandel, 4% Grenache; 13.5% ABV, screw cap,  $19.99 SRP.  A lovely rosé with a pale, pale Salmon almost gris; the wine tastes like a Pinot Noir wine the Zinfandel are supporting partners and don’t overtake the Pinot Noir.

Nose: clean wine; strawberry, citrus peel and moistened minerals
Palate: mountain strawberry, dried citrus, and oyster shell.

Red Phoenix California Red Wine Blend 2018







This wine is a blend of 75% Napa along with 25% Lodi fruit; Zinfandel 57%, Petit Verdot – 14%, Petit Sirah 12%, Syrah 7%,  Merlot 5% and Cabernet Sauvignon 5%.  Aged 24 months 60% American Oak medium toast, and 40% French Oak medium toast. 14.5% ABV and a $25 SRP

Nose: red and black bramble, cedar, suede, Thyme and red rose petals.

Palate: cassis and red bramble, pepper corn, violets and freshly ground spices.

Herdade do Esporão Alentejano Monte Velho White 2019








This wine is Antão Vaz – 40%, Roupeiro – 40% and Perrum 20%  14% ABV, SRP $10 – an outstanding wine and such an easy price point.

Nose: Yellow citrus zest, almond, and moistened minerals.

Palate: Golden stone fruit, citrus, almond and crushed sea shell.

Herdade do Esporão Alentejano Monte Velho Red 2019








Aragonez – 40%, Trincadeira – 35%, Touriga Nacional – 20%  and Syrah – 5%.  13.5% ABV, SRP $10 – an outstanding wine and such an easy price point.

Nose: Early season red cherry, spice rack and dried wood pile.

Palate: Cassis and red bramble, baking spices and fresh Taragon.

Mosketto Mosto D’Uva White

Nose: pear, apple, Asian pear

Palate:Pear, green apple, and beeswax 

Mosketto Mosto D’Uva Sweet Pink

Nose: Strawberry and cherry

Palate: Rainier cherry and apricot

Mosketto Mosto D’Uva Red NV

Nose of Cherry confit and cassis

Palate: black cherry, red plum


These are low ABV wines of 5% for white and pink wines and the red wine has an ABV of 5.5% and with a slight effervescence.  These wine have partially fermented grape juice.  The SRP is $12.00 per each wine.

Score for each wine:

Video Reviews


Until next quarter–I hope you have a wonderful wine tasting experience soon!



© 2021 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Alentejano, Alentejo, Arroyo Grande Valley, Blaufränkisch, Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, Dundee Hills, Etna, Lodi, Low Alcohol, Nero d'Avola, Paso Robles, Pinot Noir, Portugal, Portuguese Wine, Red Blend, Red Wine Blend, Rheingau, Russian River, Sant'Antimo DOC, Santa Rita Hills, Sicily/Sicilia, Taurasi DOCG, Yakima Valley, Zinfandel | Leave a comment

Don’t Buy Wine Just from One Online Wine Retailer: Consider Small Retailers and Producers Directly

I am constantly asked for wine recommendations.  I am happy to give them and I have noticed recently that those that are asking but requesting only from one site–they are asking because of their shipping commitment with one wine retailer.  Sometimes, but rarely so, does that one website have wines that I would recommend.  I do point out that not all wines will ever be on that site and that keeping an open mind can help a small, medium-sized and independent producer and wine retailer.  They are insistent that I only pick from that particular website and I always come back with additional wines that are not on that site.

First that site will not always be able to have an assortment of all available wines in the US. There is a limited shelf space even for online wine retailers – simply because most wines are quite limited.  And maintaining webpages and back end inventory systems for a specific SKU is time consuming–yes even now.

I also recommend a physical wine retailer in their area for purchasing wine and I suggest they visit perhaps once a month or quarterly if they are time starved.  While even a physical retailer will have limited shelf space the opportunity for organic discovery is compelling that no online wine retailer customer experience can ever match.

Small and medium sized wine producers certainly want to build their house DTC program and sometimes they do offer shipping deals and sometimes they do not.  I find satisfaction that I have been part of an effort to bolster a small and medium sized wine producer by buying direct shipping deal or not.  I do not want only one place to buy wine from in the future.  My advocacy is for import wines as well.  The requests are not just for US wines but all wine regions and I do think even import wines can be purchased DTC from importer (depends on state) and from small independent wine retailer’s websites. Supporting all wine retailers online and brick and mortar can keep the pipeline of optimum selection available.

Prices from that one monolith online wine store are not always optimum either. I have done a lot of comparison shopping and find lower prices at smaller DTC wine retailers which are most often a brick and mortar wine retailer.

So it does take me time to assemble a list which, of course, I do free of charge.  I do include wines found at other wine retailers or from the producer directly and urge purchasing from those sources if superior to what I have found on that one wine retailers website.
While there seems to be a sense that this wine retailer is rocketing year-over-year there are limits of the growth of 2020 moving forward.  Growth yes, of course, but at the 2020 percentage growth rate for that one particular online wine retailer will not repeat the growth rate this year (2021).  I do think some producers and importers will find their avenues to distribute their wines online in the future at a greater rate.  And, of course, competition being what it is will only increase for share of wallet for wine purchases and keep the potential for selection at an optimum.



© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in DTC, Wine Distribution | 1 Comment

My Artwork and Your Wine Label? Take a Peek

My art work is contemporary, often non-representational works.  I am fascinated by approximating mathematical models and other inspiration from science and nature in my drawings and paintings.  I am not going to leave it to guess work and hence writing to see if there are any wine producers looking for art work for their wine label–perhaps a special cuvée?

Here are a very few of my artworks -I have many more – you can ask for colour or theme.















I would love to have an art work help to promote your wine by a label that is as distinct as your wine.  It is my goal to find a winery to partner with.  If you are a wine producer and are interested or if you know of a wine producer that might be interested please let me know.

Please contact me –

Thank you and regards!



© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, my original art work and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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December 2020 Wine & Spirits Reviews

Here are the wines and two spirits I have reviewed this month.  December is the busiest month of the year on so many levels: I completed my annual top 100 wines which takes more than what one might expect.

Top 100 Wines of 2020 – James Melendez

Blackbird Dissonance Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2019







Pale, pale straw color; 14.X% ABV, SRP: $20

Nose: bright citrus tones, white stone fruit, moistened minerals, and white flowers.

Palate: Meyer lemon citrus zest, hint of fennel and oyster shell

An appreciable Sauvignon Blanc that will be optimum for seafood, white pizza and white sauce pasta cheese, and rotisserie chicken








Esporão Alentejo Reserva Red Wine 2016 93 Points

This wine is a blend of Aragonez, Trincadeira, Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet; ABV is 14.5%; the SRP is $24.99.  The wine is aged 12 months in American 60% and American and 40% French oak.  Dark ruby colour.

Notes: red cherry, suedey/leathery notes; fresh crushed spices and violets

Palate: rich red cherry, pepper, allspice and crushed dried red rose petal

I served this with pork loin and this wine completed the dish and neither losing their robust and rich flavours.

Aerena North Coast Chardonnay 2019






I like the art work is by artist Tony Hernandez this is title “Conversations in Yellow.”

This wine is produced by Blackbird. Nose of apple, Comice pear, honeysuckle, and nutmeg and a palate of green apple, spice, and moist stones.







Raeburn Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2019 92

14.5% ABV, SRP: $19.99; 150,000 case produced, winemaker: Joe Tapparo

Nose: Comice pear, autumnal fruit, orchard, moist stones and ground nutmeg

Palate of autumnal fruit – Comice pear/green apple, sea shell, flowers and nutmeg






Raeburn Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2019 

14.5% ABV, SRP: $24.99; 20,000 case produced, winemaker: Joe Tapparo

Wine is aged 11 months French oak barrels, 25% new.

Nose: blackberry, pepper, wood pile and violets

Palate: cassis, pepper, graphite and rose petals.

Battuello Vineyards St. Helena Napa Valley Valdiguié 2018






Light-medium bodied wine; mid garnet coloration,

Nose: Black cherry, dense forest, underbrush, spice rack and violets.

Palate: boysenberry, pomegranite, pepper, clove and Cardamom









Battuello Vineyards St. Helena Napa Valley Valdiguié Rosé 2019

Pale salmon color, slight frizzante.

Nose: Lemon peel, strawberry, crushed minerals and flower bunch

Palate: crushed red candy, cherry, almond, and flower






Il Bastardo IGT Sangiovese 89 Points

SRP: $8.99; 13% ABV, 100% Sangiovese, Dark garnet color.

Nose: red currant, spice, red floral and pepper

Palate: black cherry, fennel, pepper and cardamom.







Lost Eden Red Blend 2018 90 Points

This is a blend of Saperavi and other grapes from Georgia.  It had been quite sometime since I have tasted a Georgian wine.  Vitreous ruby red colour.

Nose: bright red cherry, spice, winter forest, violets.

Palate: fresh red cherry, strawberry, dried red flowers, and simmering spice notes.






Domaine Bousquet Pinot Noir/Chardonnay Mendoza Brut NV 91 Points

Sparkling wine from organic grapes.  75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay; Dosage 12 g/L, 12% ABV.  SRP: $13

Nose of strawberry, citrus zest, and flowers.

Palate: mountain strawberry, almond and moistened minerals.

I hope you had a wonderful wine and spirits month!



© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Aleatico, Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Argentina, Chardonnay, Napa Valley, Pinot Noir, Rep. of Georgia, Sangiovese, Saperavi, Sauvignon Blanc, Sparkling, Toscana IGT, Valdiguié | Leave a comment

Top 100 Wines of 2020 – James Melendez

Yes, 2020 was a year that we will always be remembered or a year we will always want to forget!  I also try to capture as many wines before publishing my top 100 – some wine reviewers publish in October—not sure why anyone feels the need to do that?  Declaring a top 100 list is not a race but a collection of great experiences best shared when you can taste from January to December not January to August or October but a full 12 months worth of tasting experiences.

I cannot believe I was in Europa this year – I was fortunate to visit Alba, Italy this year to attend Grandi Langhe and Nebbiolo Prima.  It was a delight to taste the wines of the Langhe and tasting was a glorious in-depth experience.  Looking at beginning of the year was so different that it is today.  I was looking forward to so much including tasting more wines.

This year I did taste a lot of wines and attended four events in addition to the Grandi Langhe and Nebbiolo Prima.  I attended Tre Bicchieri, Great Wines of Italy, Oregon Wine Trail, and Milano Wine Week in San Francisco.   Additionally, I attended singular brands on zoom also Consorzio and other wine events.  I had never attended more online virtual tasting as I had said in past videos and podcasts–I thought there would never be anymore virtual tastings post 2019–I was wrong.

Italy and Italian wines were on fire in 2020.  Conzorzio, wine producers and US importers were firing on all cylinders.  I tasted more Langhe’s wines this year than all years before–also, I tasted DOC/DOCG and IGT wines from many known and those that need to be known – Alta Langa DOCG, Lugana, and Buttafuoco and others.

I tasted almost no wines from Spain, Austria, Germany, Greece, Eastern Europe and the new world was nearly absent except from Oregon, Washington, California and Arizona from tasting from producers or trade associations.  Since travel was limited I was only able to get to Napa and Sonoma four times this year which would have been 3-4x more.

Wine events and traveling to wine regions is essential to get an in-depth experience so I was very limited this year but can still stand by my top 100 wines.   I always begin with a preamble I don’t believe in naming a ‘wine of the year’–that I would find to be sacrilegious.  So I don’t get or pretend to understand why a wine writer or publication would do that.  Look at Wine Spectator’s Top 100 has wine scores that are all over the map and yet to create an ascendancy of wines and to think about a wine that is “number 1” is to call obviously one brand to the number one position and by that extension means that standing goes to the region and variety….  I don’t agree with such an assessment and not only do I know agree it simply doesn’t make any sense.  Wine Spectator named Bodegas Marqués de Murrieta Rioja Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial as number 1 wine of the year – so why isn’t the highest rated wine not the number 1 wine: an Filippo Brunello di Montalcino Le Lucére was one of 5 wine with 97 points not number 1?  There really isn’t a great explanation for it.

My top 100 is not about number 1 being number 1 it is a list that is in alphabetical order.  It is a list of top 100 but a selection of wines of excellence and impression in beauty.  I am not creating a list of hierarchy or a descending order list.  My top 100 is about giving a list of beautiful wines and no hierarchy – you might interpret that the highest score is the “best” wine but I caution against that.  I would say that the score represent a score of the wine’s region, variety and vintage and can be compared with other wines from the same variety, vintage and region and cross comparing regions, vintages or variety is not my intention.

I hope you find this top 100 wine list of 2020 valuable and insightful!

(click on any underline title to see video review).

Adami “Col Credas” Valdobbiadene DOCG Rive Di Farra Di Soligo Brut 2019 94 Points
Alloro Estate Chehalem Mountain Riservata Estate Pinot Noir 2018 – 95 Points
Aridus Barrel Select California Chardonnay 2015 94 Points
August Kesseler The Daily August Rheingau Pinot Noir 2018 94 Points
Barone Ricasoli Colledilà Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2015 95 Points
Barone Ricasoli Roncicone Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016 97 Points
Bava Barolo DOCG Scarrone 2012 94 Points
Beni di Batasiolo Barolo Riserva DOCG 2012 94 Points
Bera Alta Langa Brut DOCG 2013 95 Points
Bera Rabaja Riserva Barbaresco DOCG 2013 95 Points
Blackbird Vineyards Contrarian Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine 2016 94 Points
Blackbird Vineyards Paramour Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine 2016 95 Points
Boroli Cerequio Barolo DOCG 2013 95 Points
Brezza Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC Vigna Santa Rosalia 2017 94 Points
Bricco Carlina Barolo DOCG 2015 94 Points
Bricco Maiolica Barbera d’Alba DOC Superiore Vigna Vigia 2016 94 Points
Bricco Maiolica Barolo DOCG Contain Del Commune di Diano d’Alba 94 Points
Calla Lily AUDAX Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ’15 – 95 Points
Calvi Vigna Montarzolo Buttafuoco 2015 94 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Badiòla Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2017 95 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2017 95 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Siepi Toscana IGT 2018 95 Points
Castello di Fonterutoli Vicoreggio 36 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2017 95 Points
Castello di Verduno Campot Dolcetto d’Alba DOC 2018 94 Points
Champagne Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV – 95 Points
Champagne Charles Heidsieck Rosé Réserve NV 95 Points
Château Bianca Van Duzer Corridor Pinot Gris 2018 94 Points
Château Climens Asphodèle Grand Vin Blanc Sec 2019 94 Points
Claudio Alario Barbera D’Alba DOC Valletta 2017 94 Points
Colli Vaibò Lugana DOC 2018 94 Points
Cortonesi La Mannella Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2015 94 Points
Costa di Bussia Tenuta Arnulfo Barbera d’Alba DOC Vigna Campo del Gatto 2017 94 Points
Cowhorn Sentience Estate Applegate Valley Syrah 2015 94 Points
Curto Marco Barolo Riserva DOCG La Foia Arborina 2013 94 Points
Diego Morra Barbera d’Alba DOC 2016 94 Points
Domaine Matrot Maranges Vieilles Vignes 2017 94 Points
Domaine Xavier & Agnès Amirault Crémant de Loire Les Quarterons NV 94 Points
Donnachiara Taurasi DOGC 2016 94 Points
Donnafugata Dolce & Gabbana Rosa Sicilia DOC Rosato 2019 – 94 Points Episode #2930
Donnafugata Fragore Etna Rosso DOC Contrada Montelaguardia 2016 – 95 Points
Donnafugata Passito di Pantalleria DOC Ben Ryé ’17 95 Points
Fratelli Alessandra Verduno Pelaverga DOC 2018 94 Points
Fratelli Serio & Battista Borgogno Cannubi Riserva Barolo DOCG 2005 95 Points
G.D. Vajra Dolcetto d’Alba DOC Coste e Fosati 2018 94 Points
Gary Farrell Bien Nacido Vyd Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir ’16 95 Points
Gary Farrell Ft. Ross Vineyard Ft. Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir ’16 95 Points
Ghiomo Barbera d’Alba Superiore DOC Ruit Hora 2017 94 Points
Ghiomo Nebbiolo d’Alba Superiore DOC Sansteu 2017 94 Points
Girard Napa Valley Mixed Blacks ’18 – 95 Points
Giuseppe Cortese Rabaja Riserva Barbaresco DOCG 2013 95 Points
Hawk & Horse Red Hills Lake County Block 3 Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 95 Points
Icardi Starderi Barbaresco DOCG Starderi 95 Points
Josetta Saffirio Barolo Riserva DOCG Millenovento 48 Del Commune di Monteforte d’Alba 2014 94 Points
Kunde Reserve Century Vines Sonoma Valley Zinfandel ’17 95 Points
La Carlina Barolo DOCG 2015 94 Points
LAN Culmen Rioja Reserva 2011 94 Points
Le Cadeau Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2017 94 Points
Le Colture Valdobbiadene DOCG Spumante Superiore di Cartizze 2019 95 Points
Lenné Yamhill-Carlton Chardonnay 2018 95 Points
Malabaila Pas Dosè VSQ Metodo Classico 94 Points
Malabaila Pradvaj Roero Arneis DOCG 2018 94 Points
Marcarini Barolo DOCG Brunate 2015 95 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Dolcetto D’Alba DOC Monte Aribaldo 2018 94 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Gaiun Martinenga Barbaresco DOCG 1971 98 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Gaiun Martinenga Barbaresco DOCG 2005 97 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Langhe Virtus Rosso 2009 94 Points
Marchesi di Grésy Villa Giulia Bianco 2018 94 Points
Marsuret Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Brut Rive di Guia 2019 94 Points
Masottina RDO Le Rive Di Ogliano Prosecco Extra Dry 2019 – 94 Points
Mauro Molino Barolo DOCG Gallinotto Berri 2016 94 Points
Mauro Sebate Barbera d’Alba DOC Superiore Centobricchi 2016 94 Points
Mauro Sebate Barolo DOCG Cerretta 2016 94 Points
Michele Chiarolo Cerequioi Barolo DOCG 2015 95 Points
Moccagatta Barbaresco DOCG Bric Balin 2012 95 Points
Montonale Montunal Lugana DOC 2018 – 95 Points
Negro Angelo Barbaresco DOCG Basarin 2016 94 Points
Negro Angelo Barolo DOCG Baudana 2016 94 Points
Negro Angelo Roero Riserva Ciabot San Giorgio 2016 94 Points
Pace Barbera d’Alba Superiore DOC 2016 94 Points
Pace Langhe DOC Pinot Nero 2017 94 Points
Palladino Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC 2018
Peccheinino Bricco Botti Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore DOCG 2016 94 Points
Pelassa Barolo DOCG San Lorenzo di Verduno 2015 95 Points
Perrone Fabio Dolcetto d’Alba DOC 2018 94 Points
Perrone Fabio Langhe DOC Nebbiolo Vigna Ciabot 2017 94 Points
Pietro Colla Extra Brut Spumante VSQ Metodo Classico Millesimato 2016 94 Points
Pio Cesare Barbaresco 2016 95 Points
Pio Cesare Barolo 2016 95 Points
Pio Cesare Piodilei Langhe DOC Chardonnay 207 95 Points
Renato Ratti Marcenasco Barolo DOCG 2004 96 Points
Sassetti Livio Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Pertimali 2004 96 Points
Selva Capuzza Minasso Lugana DOC Riserva ’15 95 Points
Silas Eola-Amith Hills Pinot Blanc 2016 94 Points
Tenuta di Fessina a’Puddara Etna Bianco DOC 2017 95 Points
Tenuta di Fessina Erse Etna Rosato DOC 2018 94 Points
The Eyrie Vineyard Dundee Hills Trousseau 2017
Val D’Oca Rive di San Pietro di Barbozza Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2018 94 Points
Valdinera Roero Riserva DOCG San Carlo 2016 94 Points
Yealands Estate Single Block L5 Marlboroguh Sauvignon Blanc 2019 94 Points
Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019 94 Points

(click on any underline title to see video review).

Thank you for your support this year and be sure to subscribe to my site to get the latest articles and also sign up on my YouTube Channel to see the latest videos I am producing.

Happy Holidays and a good New Year to you!



© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Aglianico, Arneis, Barbera, Barolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Champagne, Chardonnay, DOC Etna, Dolcetto, Etna, Lake County, Lugana, Marlborough, Napa Valley, Nebbiolo, Pantelleria, Pinot Noir, Roero, Santa Maria Valley, Taurasi DOCG, Top 100 Wines, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

November 2020 Wine & Spirits Review

I reached my 3,000th video this month (November 2020) – It was never a grand plan to get to a certain number of videos.  What began as an experiment became a core belief about wine reviewing.

Words alone are not enough–video allows for a greater meaning that only the written word can do the job solely.  Video allows for more visuals, emotional read and the message is slightly different in that the spoken word can often “sound” more interesting that the written word.  While my videos are not just about a specific wine but related material – wine accessories and also specific topical matter like varieties, styles, and regions.  I don’t have a grand plan to get to another number milestone.  I avoid this simply because I’m not sure what purpose it would serve except pressure.  I want to do the best that I can without adding too much more on a crowded plate.

If you haven’t done so already considering subscribing to my YouTube channel

And thank you for watching my channel!


Wines reviewed this Month

Villa Maria Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020 

Nose: Orange blossom, honeycomb and freshly cut white flowers
A palate presenting with bright acidity; lemon peel, dried orange peel, core of fennel and passionfruit.

Villa Maria Taylor’s Pass Vineyard Marlborough Pinot Noir 2017

Nose: Pomegranate, graphite, pepper, Ethiopian coffee, bay leaf and clove.
Palate: appreciable acidity, tart red cherry, red and black bramble, white tea, mineral and dried red rose petal.

Villa Maria New Zealand Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc 2019 

Nose of grapefruit peel, Meyer lemon peel and flowers

Palate: slight frizzante, appreciable bright citrus notes, fennel and almond.







Barra Mendocino County Petite Sirah ’17
Nose of Blue and blackberry, cedar and spice.
Palate: high acid; blackberry, tamarind, and black pepper







Dixie & Bass Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Nose: red/black fruit, graphite, dried violets and spice.
Palate: black fruit, black pepper, clove and hint of dried herbs,

Purchasing wine from producer – click here.








Tamarack Columbia Valley Red Wine Blend 2017

Nose: casis, black plum, dense forest, clove and dried flowers
Palate: red black bramble, spice, bay leaf and mineral.











© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Champagne, Chianti, Chianti Classico, Crémant de Bourgogne, Crémant de Loire, Marlborough, Mendocino County, Napa Valley, New Zealand, Paso Robles, Pinot Noir, Prosecco, Red Mountain, Red Wine Blend, Sangiovese, Wine Review | Leave a comment

September-October 2020 Wine Reviews

September and October were two very quick months and I am glad to finally list the wine I have tasted these two months.  There has been a pick up – a big pick up in virtual wine tastings as I had predicted.  I was glad to see this happen–I couldn’t imagine it not happening.

I also stepped out to visit Ryme Cellars a Sonoma producer specializing in producing Italian varieties.  And I also visited Furthermore in Sebastapol – a Pinot Noir specialist.  It was nice getting out to wine country to taste these two producers wondrous wines.

I having been highlighting more #valuepricepointwines in 2020 and will have reviewed 40% by years end.  In this extraordinary year – I have had more requests to review lower price point wines.  And I am also balancing reviews by wines above the value price point.

I look forward to Thanksgiving ahead and will be enjoying a nice variation of wines.




© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Cava, Chianti, Chianti Classico, Portuguese Wine, Rosé, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

August 2020 Wine Reviews

What happened to August? 

I did get to half-million views (as noted above) on my YouTube channel and I did write about as the wine category as I have pointed out in the past is the single most difficult and challenging category.

It was a very quick month but a rewarding one.  I have noticed a slow down in virtual tastings and I think it is perhaps due in part to zoomtigue.  For those US States that have SIP it is boundless and as Autumn and Winter approaches tasters will go back to Zoom

I had an opportunity to go back to Napa for wine tastings.  It was my third time out this summer and I am grateful to have been out.  On a plus side was to visit Vista Collina on a Sunday where there is a concert series.  I tasted from several producers: Cornerstone Napa Valley, Anarchist and Gen7.  This experience was the closest thing to normal that I have experienced since February of this year.  I felt good and yes everyone wore masks.  Napa Valley like Sonoma has probably one-half less wine visitors that LY this time.  

San Francisco has seen more than 50% permanent closure of business with a store front.  Between the closure and it feels seemingly permanent that the city will always look like it is in a war–very sobering.   Restaurant closures keep happening and I am sure there is more to come.

On a better front is my tastings for this month and I have listed them below.

Good tastings to you!







Sunny with a Chance of Flowers are three wines where the feature is low calorie and low alcohol.  These are are $16.99 SRP.  The producer takes one portion and that is fermented till dry and via a proprietary technology removes the alcohol and then this is blended with another portion that does have alcohol.  The wines are coming in at 9% ABV and 85 calories per each bottle.

Sunny with a Chance of Flowers Monterey Pinot Noir 2018 – nose of bing cherry, graphite and spices; palate of strawberry, pepper and clove.

Sunny with a Chance of Flowers Monterey Chardonnay 2018 – nose of apple, seashell, and flowers; palate of apple, pear and autumnal spices.

Sunny with a Chance of Flowers Monterey Sauvignon Blanc 2019 – scent of lemon peel, sliced kiwi, white flowers, and palate of green/yellow citrus zest and pulp and minerals from crushed sea shells.  Each wine I give the 89 points.




© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Prosecco, Rosé, Sparkling, Wine Review | Leave a comment