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Month December 2011

Wine’s Shelf Space: A Cavalcade of Wine – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

There is not enough shelf space for wine yet there are so many who retail wine…. an interesting conundrum.  There were 120,000 applications for wine labels this year (2011) and that is such a telling number unto itself.  US TTB is flooded with so many applications and many are approved so where do all of these bottles flow to?   And this number will continue to climb and in just a half a decade from now that will climb to 190,000 to 200,000.

No one retailer or chain could carry enough of these wine labels and it does mean that the specialty wine retailer is very important and perhaps now more than ever.  While there are big box wine retailers / mass wine retailers–they have limited shelf space and not all of the 120,000 will necessary see a wine retail shelf–perhaps it will be on-premise only.  Or perhaps the label never makes it into production—and just because a wine label is presented doesn’t mean it is approved.

But many of the 120,000 presented label do get approved.  Wine unlike any other consumer category and by any stretch is so different from beer or spirits.  In fact, wine is vastly different and the only other category might be similar is music or books—and yet wine is still quite different.  Books and music can be reproduced at will and especially in our electronic world.  Wine is different because of limited selection for many labels and vintage is a curious and outstandingly different feature.  Perhaps books can have editions but most books are not editioned yearly.  It would be as if each music track purchased would be different every year–and of course that is not the case.

Though there is not enough shelf space at most and many wine retailers–not all wine retailers will survive let alone thrive.  The speciality wine retailer will survive because they have relationships with their customers and have a desire to be in the business.  Larger size wine retailer will also be in the business for their overwhelming large footprint and also desire to be in the business.  Those that will not survive are those that do not want to be in the wine business– I call these tweeness wine retailers –those may not be as obvious–these retailers are in the wine business just because it is another product category–but have no deep roots or passion for being in the wine business.  This year (2011) I observed a particular tweeness wine retailer had one SKU (one individual wine) on sale for a limited period of hours.  But this strategy is interesting because very few people have time to participate in this ‘show stopper’ strategy and if their other product categories are not related hence a non-compelling reason to stop everything.  If you want to be in the off-premise wine business you have to have that absolute desire.

The online wine shelf could potentially be very large but not all encompassing.  At least in the US–the world’s largest wine market there are simply too many obstacles–the many thousands of alcohol beverage control laws and restricted market places.  Also, there are some consumers who will be willing to spend shipping dollars and many more that won’t (if the many thousands of barriers were eliminated) also potential online sites would find out the many change outs to be very difficult to manage.  After all in many instances wine is a very limited supply product (in many examples).  Hence wine is not going the way of the book or music categories (retail settings)—the product behaviours are different and after all that is so matching in this complex subject that at heart is simple to enjoy.

¡Salud!

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

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For the Love of Los Carneros – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

For the love of Los Carneros for me has been my gateway to Napa Valley and Sonoma County for many years.  It has always been an exciting and thrilling wine country–in many ways the appropriate wine country gateway.  An entrance of both hillside and vast rolling hills… mile after mile and hectare after hectare.  There is something that is not easily described but easily felt.

Both wine countries of Napa Valley and Sonoma County have different geographies that differ with subtlity and contrast.  Carneros is a large area occupying both counties and has fewer tasting rooms than further up trail in Sonoma and Napa.   Despite it’s rural feel can be immediately offset by the very busy highway 121–but that is key.  Driving off of nearly any road leads to a gorgeous setting and the rural sense comes back into play.

Los Carneros is home many varietals Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but to other varietals such a Merlot, Tempranillo, Grenache, Malbec, Pinot Meunier, Riesling, Roussanne and Dolcetto to name a few.  Pinot Noir found it’s first cool climate setting (in California) in Los Carneros and that is hard to believe.   In the treasury of Los Carneros AVA is it’s fortunate geography–the San Pablo Bay gently giving the the cool breathe in summer time that is so valuable and so necessary.

And Carneros is relatively new with respect to wine grape cultivation.   Louis Martini developed the Stanly Ranch in the 1940s paved the way for what we enjoy today.   There are approximately 6,000 acres / 2,400 hectares that are devoted to viticulture.

Carneros treasury is being a fortunate cool zone which in many ways is a work horse for the sparkling wine industry in California–many wine grapes that find there way to a bottle of sparkling wine (Mumm Napa, Domaine Carneros and Domaine Chandon).

I do take time to drive in Carneros – I get out and take a moment to breathe the air, enjoy an evocative sunset and enjoy it’s quiet.  Getting to the tasting room is enjoyable but the journey to getting there is equally so.

¡Salud!

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2011 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez — All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Champagne Wishes..Caviar Dreams…Wine Selections for New Years 2012

Yes that was a moniker for “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and this article will focus on Sparkling wines and Champagne and less so on caviar–though I do enjoy it and think it nicely paired with Champagne.

But you don’t need to be ‘rich or famous’ to enjoy very well made sparkling wines. In many and most instances it is understandable if sparkling wines are more expensive on average as when compared to still wines. I understand….the process certainly adds to the overall cost. And Champagne stands alone in terms of high demand, the Euro (at least those using the US dollar) and a very finite growing region. There are other sparkling wine on a per litre basis are less expensive (but not always) Cava, sparkling wine, and Prosecco. I enjoy my New Year’s eve with wonderful hand foods and many Champagnes and sparkling wines.

Here are my Champagne and sparkling wishes to ring in the New Year:

Delamotte Blanc de Blancs – 1999
Gramona Cava Brut Imperial Gran Reserva 2006
Ruinart Brut Rosé – NV
Törley Grand Cuvee – NV
Ruggeri Prosecco di Valdobbiandene Guistini Bisol 2008
Sergio Mottura Brut 2005
Piper-Heidsieck Rare 2002
Canard-Duchene Grande Cuvée Charles VII NV
Bollinger Grande Annee Brut 1999
Chartogne-Taillet Brut 2002
Jacquesson Millesime Brut 2002
Chartogne-Taillet Blanc de Blanc Brut Champagne NV
Recaredo Brut Nature Cava 2006
Gosset Celebris 1998
J Brut Late-Disgorged 2001
Mumm Napa DVX Rosé 2006
Iron Horse Winter’s Cuvée 2007
Schramsberg J Schram Rosé 2004
De Cazanove Stradivarius 1998
Charles Ellner Brut NV
Lanson Noble Cuvée Blanc de Blancs 1998
Bruno Paillard Rosé Brut Première Cuvée NV
Ayala Brut Millesime 1999
Jean Lallemont Brut NV
Vranken Diamont Brut
Vilmart Coeur de Cuvée 2002
Deutz Deutz Cuvée William Brut 1998
Bollinger R.D. 1997
Aneri Prosecco
Roederer Estate L’Ermitage 2002

¡Salud!

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2011 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez — All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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A Mumm Napa Visit – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

Mumm Napa is such a wonderful winery to visit and the only sparkling winery on Silverado Trail.  One of my favourite things about this winery is the view—I always like to sit outside to enjoy an amazing panorama and the valley floor–an one of the best in the Valley.

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Though I have been to Mumm Napa many times I have not had a behind the scenes winery tour.   I like the senses experience and visiting Mumm Napa’s production facility proves to be much larger than one might expect (at least from street view)–though the production level certainly calls for this scale.   The design is well done and that going through the winery shows how expansive it is and how it is not overwhelming for the geographical space it is situated.  Every square foot is well utilized.

I was glad to find out how green the winery is and how Mumm Napa works to make the process even greener.  On my visit there I asked if they were going to install solar panels; and after a re-roofing that is in their facilities plan.  There is a great desire for continuous green process at Mumm Napa.

The tour is well done and does exemplify how difficult it is to make sparkling wine.  The fixture of art work is always present and adds a richer touch.

I have seen Mumm Napa’s product line grow and that is certainly in-line with the many nuances of sparkling wine.   Mumm Napa has it is standard bearers and has expanded in the past decade to high light the fine points of sparkling wine.  Most of Mumm Napa’s grapes come from the Napa Valley with a small amount coming from the Anderson Valley.

On my recent visit I enjoyed Brut Prestige, Cuvée M (containing a touch of late harvest Muscat), Brut Reserve, Pinot Meunier (100% which is unusual for a California sparkling wine house), Blanc de Blancs (with 10% Pinot Gris), Brut Rosé, Santana Brut (65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay), DVX 2003 (Mumm Napa’s signature and prestige offering)–the fruit comes from the Deveaux Vineyard which can be seen on the Carneros Highway (121) and DVX is named in honor of Mumm Napa’s founder and first winemaker.  I also tasted the sparkling Pinot Noir–a wonderful wine to serve with Thanksgiving, turkey, duck and salmon.   Sparkling red wines are not terribly plentiful and especially compared with sparkling Australian wines (chiefly Shiraz but there are also sparkling Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon),  I think it would be safe to say that there are fewer than 1,000 cases of quality sparkling red wine produced in the US.  I also tasted their Cuvée M Red–this sparkler is 96% Pinot Noir and 4%.

Mumm Napa Winemaker Ludovic Dervin

I enjoyed Ludovic Dervin walking through his wines.  He gave a great view and comparison and contrast of Champagne and California sparkling wines.  The discipline and heritage of Champagne and California’s ability to craft sparkling wines with fewer restrictions to leverage California’s great climate but the ability to utilize varietals beyond the Champagne set.  I look forward to more return visits to this sparkling sparkling winery.

A Gorgeous Assembly of Sparkling Wine

¡Salud!

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2011 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez — All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Flora Wild Boar Pope Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 2008 – 9.4 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

Focused, dense and with considerable finesse; notes of wild blueberry, Acai, nutmeg, Cardamom, chocolate dust and white truffle.

¡Salud!

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2011 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez — All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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2011 Top 100 Wines – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

Here is my 2011 Top 100 wine list and as I have in my past top list the number 1 to 100 do not signfy that wine number 1 is not the highest ranking wine—rather this list is an alpha ordered list.  If you looked at all of my wine reviews there might be different wines if this was based only on highest to lower points.Now, this list might have looked differently if I would have had more experience with French, German, Austrian, Australian and to a certain extent could have tasted more Italian wines.  There were very few opportunities this year.  I am a perennial attendee at many wine events here in San Francisco and elsewhere.  I do look forward to an even greater diversity in 2012.

  1. Adega da Covilha Beira Interior Conde Julião White – 2009 – 8.9
  2. Alma Rosa La Encantada Vineyard Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir – 2009 – 9.2
  3. Amphora Heringer Vineyard Clarksburg Teroldego 2008 – 9.2
  4. Ancient Peaks Oyster Ridge Paso Robles Red Wine – 2008 – 9.1
  5. Ahnfeldt Quid Pro Quo Napa Valley Proprietary Blend – 2008 – 9.1
  6. Attila Gere Villany Olaszrizling – 2009 – 9.1
  7. Auteur Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – 2009 – 9.2
  8. Bacio Divino Napa Valley Pazzo – 2007 – 9.0
  9. Ballentine Block 9 Reserve Napa Valley Zinfandel – 2007 – 9.2
  10. Black Sears Howell Mountain Caberbet Franc – 2008 – 9.1
  11. Cantina Valle Isarco EKK Alto Adige Südtirol Lagrein – 2009 – 9.2
  12. Carmichael Sa Vini Monterey County Sangiovese – 2008 – 9.2
  13. Château Flotis Fronton 2007 – 9.1
  14. Colección Vivanco 4 Varietales – 2007 – 9.4
  15. Cortes de Cima Alentejo Touriga Nacional – 2007 – 9.1
  16. Delamotte Blanc de Blancs – 1999 – 9.4
  17. Delectus Cuvee Julia – 2008 – 9.2
  18. Diamond Creek Diamond Mountain Red Rock Terrace – 2007 – 9.3
  19. Domaine de la Collone Saint Jean Gigonda Vacqueyas – 2007 – 9.1
  20. Domaine Eden Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 – 9.2
  21. Domaniul Coroanei Segarcea Merlot – 2008 – 9.2
  22. Dominus Estate Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 2006 – 9.5
  23. Duarte-Georgetown Mountain Estate El Dorado Petit Verdot – 2007 – 9.2
  24. El Maestro Sierra Vina Viejo Amontillado – 9.1
  25. Elena Walch Kastelaz Gewürztraminer – 2008 – 9.2
  26. Emilio Lustau Oloroso Very Rare Emperatriz Eugenia 9.2
  27. Eszterbauer Nagyapám Szekszárdi Kadarka – 2009 – 9.0
  28. Eszterbauer Tüke Szekszárdi Bikavér – 2008 – 9.3 –
  29. Fenestra Livermore Valley Port 2004 – 9.1
  30. Field Stone Staten Family Reserve Alexander Valley Petite Sirah – 2009 – 9.1
  31. Fischer Unity Red Wine – 2009 – 9.0
  32. Flora Wild Boar Pope Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 2008 – 9.4
  33. Fog Crest Russian River Valley Estate Pinot Noir 2009 – 9.1
  34. Gramercy Walla Walla Valley Syrah – 2008 – 9.2
  35. Gramona Cava Brut Imperial Gran Reserva – 2006 – 9.3
  36. Greg Graham Crimson Hill Vineyard Lake County Grenache – 2007 – 9.1
  37. Guerri Rizzard Amarone della Valpolicella Villa Rizzardi – 2005 – 9.2
  38. Hawk & Horse Red Hills Lake County Latigo – 2006 – 9.5 –
  39. Hogl Engelburg Grüner Veltliner Federspiel – 2009 – 9.2
  40. J&J Eger Eged-Hegy Dulo Kékfrankos – 2006 – 9.2
  41. Jean Claude Beaune Beaune 1er Cru “Les Bressandes” – 2006 – 9.4
  42. JF Lurton Quinta do Malho Douro Red – 2007 – 9.2
  43. Kabaj Goriška Brda Amfora – 2007 – 9.3
  44. Kenneth Volk Enz Valley Lime Kiln Valley Mourvèdre – 2007 – 9.1
  45. Kenneth Volk Nevarez Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Roussanne – 2008 – 9.1
  46. Lambert Bridge Rock Pile Zinfandel – 2009 – 9.2
  47. Lancaster Estate Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 2007 – 9.2
  48. Luis Ochoa Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon  – 2005 – 9.2
  49. Luis Pato Casta Baga – 2007 – 9.0
  50. Maroon Napa Valley Shiraz – 2007 – 9.2
  51. Martian Santa Ynez Valley Grenache Blanc – 2009 – 9.0.
  52. Masperie Les Escures Cahors Malbec – 2009 – 9.2
  53. Mercy Arroyo Zavala Vineyard Arroyo Seco Syrah – 2009 – 9.1
  54. Merry Edwards Flax Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – 2008 – 9.1
  55. Monşer Dobrogea Fetească Neagră – 2009 – 9.0
  56. Mount Horrocks Watervale Riesling Clare Valley – 2006 – 9.0
  57. Muscardini Ukiah Valley Barbera – 2009 – 9.1 –
  58. Nals Margreid Alto Adige Südtirol Lagrein – 2009 – 9.1
  59. Navarro Anderson Valley Edelzwicker– 2010 – 9.0
  60. Novy Family Rosella Vineyard Santa Lucia Highland Syrah – 2008 – 9.2
  61. Ontañon Reserva – 2004 – 9.1
  62. Ortman Family Turner Vineyard Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir – 2008 – 9.1
  63. Paloma Napa Valley Merlot – 2009 – 9.2
  64. Patland Stage Coach Syrah – 2008 – 9.1
  65. Patricius Tokaji Furmint – 2008 – 9.2
  66. Pazo San Mauro Rias Baixas Albariño 2009 – 9.2
  67. Pheasant’s Tears Kakheti Rkatsiteli – 2009 – 9.2
  68. Pedro Romero Oloroso Viejisimo 50 – 9.2
  69. Pelerin Rosella’s Vineyard Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir – 2007 – 9.1
  70. Piper-Heidsieck Rare – 2002 – 9.5
  71. Pisoni Santa Lucia Highlands Gary’s Vineyard Pinor Noir- 2009 – 9.1
  72. Prahiva Valley Feteasca Neagra 2009 9.1
  73. Prince Michel of Virginia Mount Juliet Vineyard Petit Manseng – 2008 – 9.0
  74. Quinta da Cabriz Dão Reserva – 2008 – 9.1
  75. Quinta do Pôpa Douro Preffáccio – 2007 – 9.1
  76. Quivera Fig Tree Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc – 2009 – 9.0
  77. Quixote Napa Valley Petite Sirah – 2005 – 9.3 –Rioja Bordón Gran Reserva – 2001 – 9.3
  78. Robert Biale Aldo’s Vineyard Oak Knoll Zinfandel – 2009 – 9.4
  79. Ruinart Brut Rosé – NV – 9.3
  80. Sergio Mottura Brut 2005 – 9.1
  81. Shea Vineyard Willamette Valley Pinot Noir – 2009 – 9.1
  82. Sierra Cantabria Finca El Bosque – 2008 – 9.4
  83. Sierra Madre Santa Maria Valley Block 216 Pinot Noir – 2008 – 9.2
  84. Singularis Red Blend – 2008 – 9.2
  85. Talley Arroyo Grande Rosemary Vineyard Pinot Noir – 2000 – 9.3
  86. Tentimenti Ruffino Brunello di Montalcino Grappone Mazzi – 2005 – 9.1
  87. Terra Savia Mendocino County Petit Verdot – 2008 – 9.1
  88. Terracruda Ortaia Marche Pergola Rosso – 2008 – 9.3
  89. The Cornerstone Napa Valley Red Wine – 2009 – 9.3
  90. Törley Grand Cuvee – NV – 9.1
  91. Tyler Dierberg Block 5 Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir – 2009 – 9.2
  92. Umathum Zweigelt Classic – 2008 – 9.0
  93. Vazart-Coquart et Fils – 2004 – 9.3
  94. Velonisi Rossi Piceno Sup Roggio de Filare – 2007 – 9.1
  95. Villa Mongalli Sagrantino Della Cima – 2006 – 9.2
  96. Viña Bosconia Reserva – 2002 – 9.3
  97. Viña Ijalba Graciano – 2007 – 9.2
  98. Von Holt Suacci Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – 2008 – 9.2
  99. Widmann Alto Adige Vernatsch – 2010 – 9.2
  100. Zenaida Paso Robles Petite Sirah – 2008 – 9.2
Wishing you a great holiday season–wonderful wine wishes to you and yours!

¡Salud!

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2011 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez — All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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In the Heart of the Matter… Vine to Winemaker and Beyond – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

In the heart of the matter is wine and vine and winemaker and beyond.  Reading a comment recently published by Jancis Robinson “Meeting the Wine Bloggers’ and it was in response to her visit to Virginia for the Wine Bloggers Conference 2011.  I wondered and had to re-read her blog entry to grasp for what seemed to be a relatively negative view of the wine blogger–it is not clear that it is wine writers from the event or wine bloggers experience in just the past few months lead her to write this article.   I looked at the photo and it was clear to see it was WBC11 so maybe it was this core experience that prompted her entry. She does say  “…and the ability to comment on what anyone else writes without risking a thing.”  I think she is suggesting that online wine writers can say whatever they want because they don’t have anything to risk?  That is a view that cannot and does not describe all wine writers online or not.  Jancis does say (bloggers) don’t have to give their real name or location.   She also says that “for the record” in a person who protestes-too-much-kind-of-way that she is not a blogger.

I was surprised at the overall tone of her review.  And it was disappointing as I enjoyed talking with her for a very short moment and to see how she was so interested in the WBC program.  And for the longest time I enjoyed reading her articles in the Financial Times.  I do believe that her view was not encompassing of many wine writers and many that I know personally who take wine writing seriously and responsibly.

Now, onward and upward and more importantly to talk about what I enjoy–wine and the people who make it and the people who enjoy it.   For me wine writing is privilege and something that I take seriously.   And in the heart of the matter–what is important is that there are people who are behind each bottle; the vineyard workers, wine makers, tasting room personnel and so forth.  I am always concerned with that the most judicious and consistent view of wine.  And in my experience, I have touched wine on so many ways—talking in public, working on metrics on the wine industry and social media, wine reviews and writing.

And in the heart of the matter is that passion for wine and people is at my center focus.

¡Salud!

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2011 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez — All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Trefthen Family Oak Knoll Malbec – 2008 – 8.8 – James Meléndez / James The Wine Guy

Dry; fennel, deeply herbaceous, touch of white truffle and continuous blueberry notes.

¡Salud!

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2011 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez — All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Domaine Carneros Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs – 9.2 – 1997 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

Both a great and challenging year for me personally–so it is interesting to taste the fruit of that year.  This wine gives notes of passionfruit, citron, biscuit and freshly roasted pine nuts.

¡Salud!

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2011 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez — All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Piper-Heidsieck Brut NV – 9.0 (Reviewed: May 2011) – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

Fresh Spitzenberg apple, delicately smoked almonds, slight touch of nutmeg, and scent of white lily.

¡Salud!

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2011 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez — All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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