Monthly Archives: February 2017

Oregon Pinot Noir

Only two days left of the big wine sale at Apollo.  In my endeavor to recommend great wines to you during the sale, I was trying to think of a wine that is very versatile in food pairings and has broad appeal to red wine lovers.  It didn’t take long before it hit me that Pinot Noir fits the bill.  Only Pinot Noir has the grace, finesse and complexity to go with the finest seafood meals and still be able to hold up to a hearty steak.  When thinking of great Pinot Noir regions in the world, the list is short.  Pinot Noir is a finicky grape that needs a cooler region than most red grapes.  It can test the patience of even the best grower.  Burgundy is always first to my mind when it comes to great Pinot Noir, but for me a close second and more affordable is Oregon.  I have enjoyed Pinot Noir from all over the world but only Burgundy and Oregon seem to be consistently great.  The only turn off I have about Burgundy is to get a good to great Pinot from there, your price point will start around $100.  In Oregon, a good to great wine will start around $20.

Oregon Pinot Noir MapOregon’s wine history started around 50 years ago when a small group of pioneering growers decided to give the Williamette Valley a try to grow some grapes.  The conventional wisdom was that these people were nuts!  Why go to Oregon where the weather is usually too cold to ripen grapes, the precipitation is unpredictable, and frost can hit virtually anytime of year.  Why not stay in California, where the sun is seemingly always shining and the weather reliable.  Nevertheless, the adventurous group gave it a try and after several trying years of trial and error, they discovered that when the stars aligned, the Williamette Valley could produce truly great Pinot Noir.  Some even rivaling the great Burgundy!

As far as flavor and style, Oregon can produce a wide range depending on where the grapes grow.  Most have a characteristic raspberry and cranberry note with distinctive earthy tones.  The flavors are powerful but there is still always a beautiful finesse to the finer examples.  The good examples can age for decades and will still show the beautiful terroir from the stunning valley.  This balance is truly hard to achieve anywhere else in the world!

When deciding on food, simpler is better.  The classic pairing is salmon prepared simply.  Poultry also pairs up great.  Fuller bodied Pinot Noir can even pair beautifully with steak.  To me the key is to keep the food simple.  The complexity of Pinot Noir will shine when it doesn’t have to compete with complex dishes.
Great producers are Montinore, Drouhin, Eyrie, Penner Ash and Maysara.  Due to the difficulty of growing great Pinot Noir, most of the producers are small production.  While this makes certain producers hard to find and the wines difficult to keep in stock, it keeps up the great quality.

Pinot Noir, when done right, can be one of the greatest wines you will ever drink!  It is hard to make this wine consistently great, so I would stick with the tried and true regions that have the terroir to pull off great Pinot Noir.  Oregon is one of the select few regions of the world that I can say achieves the feat of great Pinot.

By |February 27th, 2017|Wine Blogs|Comments Off on Oregon Pinot Noir

Explore Spanish Wines

As the Progressive Wine Sale continues, the discounts are getting even better! This is the perfect chance to try some wines you haven’t had before, or you had your eye on and didn’t feel the time is right. Well with the discounts approaching 30% on any bottle of wine in the store, the time is right now!
If you’re a red wine lover and have never tried a wine from Spain, you better march to the store and pick some up! You are seriously missing out on delicious wine! Spain is blessed with near perfect terroir for red wines. To keep things simple, we will discuss two general regions, but keep in mind that Spain has a long tradition and makes a lot of wine. It is definitely worth exploring the regions more deeply.
spanish regionsIn the north, the dry and mountainous terrain offer the ideal combination of long, sunny days coupled with cool nights. This produces intense, fully ripe grapes that have a chance to “rest” during the nights. This rest allows the grapes to build up and retain some acidity. The prevents the ripe grapes from becoming too jammy and raisiny. The acidity offers just enough mouthwatering tartness to enliven the wine and make it a beautiful accompaniment to a variety of foods. Two regions that you must try if you want to experience the brilliance of northern Spanish wines is Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Both areas offer a plethora of great producers making wines at a variety of price points.
Travel further south in Spain you will start experiencing delicious red wines that are usually blended and start to resemble Shiraz and Shiraz Blends. In fact, this area is flooded with many aspiring and established Australian winemakers who want to learn the trade or learn the tools of the trade that the long history of Spanish winemakers has. The wines are a bit lighter and less tannic than the wines from the north. The land isn’t quite as harsh as the northern mountainous regions, but the Mediterranean climate in the south offers plenty of sunshine and cool breezes coming from the sea. In the north, regions such as Rioja are steeped in tradition and have many more rules in place. The southern regions tend to have much more freedom to take advantage of the blessed terroir that Spain provides. This area is where you see much more experimentation and a “new world attitude” to the wines. Wines from southern Spain are often cited as among the best value wines in the world. It is hard to find bad ones. For a real treat, look for Priorats. In my opinion, this region shows off the best of southern Spain.
Explore Spanish WinesDon’t be afraid to try the wines of Spain. They are regarded as among the finest wines in the world, especially if you are looking for values! With the Apollo Progressive Wine Sale going on right now, there is no better time to explore!

By |February 23rd, 2017|Wine Blogs|Comments Off on Explore Spanish Wines

Step Up to Australian Wines

Step Up For Some True Gems!

One of the most common questions I get about wine is “are the more expensive wines worth the money?”.  That is a loaded questionBarossa Valley because wines can vary so much and often the price can reflect the scarcity for collectors rather than true quality.  However, there is one part of the world that I honestly believe a step up in price can give huge rewards as far as quality.  With the huge discounts offered at Apollo during the sale, now is the time to look at Australian wines again!

If you are willing to add about $10 per bottle in your budget, Australian wines can give you huge bang for the buck.  Five years ago, wines such as Yellow Tail and Lindeman’s were all the rage.  For around $7 dollars they offered great quality.  Unfortunately, they became a victim of their success.  Massive overproduction to meet demand, coupled by drought conditions in SE Australia resulted in the wines that lost their edge in qualitover extracted and drab.  But, if you step up a price point to the high teens or higher, there are truly world class wines to be had.  Often the quality reflects wines that are double the price in other parts of the world.
D'arenberg winesIn regions such as Barossa and McClaren Vale, there are producers that didn’t waver in quality during the heyday of Aussie wines.  They were committed to quality and heritage more than making a quick buck.  This coupled with the fact that Barossa and McClaren with their hillsides and proximity to the sea were not as affected by the crippling drought in other parts of the country.  Many wines from this region are truly excellent.  They are not the typical $5-$10 wines you think of from Australia.  Wines of this region are best known for Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon that are big and bold, yet still possess a stabilizing and refreshing acidity to counteract the intense fruit.  The result is a beautifully balanced wines that can be had a great value!

A couple of my suggested wineries are D’arenberg and Mollydooker.  D’arenberg is one of the oldest famiMollydookerly owned wineries in Australia that have always had a commitment to quality.  They make a wide variety of wines at a variety of pricepoints.  I have never been disappointed in anything I have had.  Mollydooker is a newer winery that has quickly made a name for itself as a top winery in Australia.  Don’t mistake the fun names and labels of these wines.  They are world class reds!

Aussie wines can give a huge bump in quality for just a few bucks added to your wine budget.  There are so many great producers in Barossa and McClaren that it is hard to go wrong.  With Apollo’s huge wine sale going on now, this is the time to step up and taste the difference.

By |February 21st, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Step Up to Australian Wines

Apollo Is Here To Help This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day for many men can be a very stressful time of the year! The unrealistic world painted by Hallmark movies and romcoms puts pressure on men to deliver the big gift for Valentines Day. Jewelry is best—but in a pinch a great bottle of wine, liquor or beer can melt the most romantic of hearts.

Champagne is a natural treat for the big day. Whether sweet, dry, rich or light a good bottle of bubbly will bring a smile to everyone’s face! Champagne and strawberry’s is a great match. Every woman remembers when Richard Gere used the pairing to start his courtship of Julia Roberts in the classic film Pretty Woman. The sweetness of the berry and crisp oakiness of champagne is classic!

If you are planning a special meal we all know the perfect wine will only enhance the flavors of the food. If you are doing a steak dinner, Pinot Noir is perfect. Pinot Noir is delicate enough to please the soft taste buds of your lover, while still strong enough to balance the robust flavors of any hunk of meat you can create.

Another classic meal is lobster. The rich flavors of lobster will go perfectly with a buttery chardonnay. The chilled elegance of the most popular white grape in the world will open the lobster flavor and create a sensation of creaminess and liveliness.

Since Valentines Day is Tuesday and we are all busy, sometimes an easy pizza and a little snuggling in front to of the TV is always ok. If wine is your thing, try Zinfandel, a peppery rich red wine that is America’s indigenous grape. But for classic pizza pairings a good beer is best! Go with lighter crisper lagers that will cut the acidity of the pizza sauce and refresh the taste buds! Whatever you do, have a little something to enhance the mood and enjoy the most romantic times of the year!

Champagne choices:
Chandon Cuvee M from California is classic American bubbly. The perfect mix of dry and sweet it has flavors of peach, citrus and a bouquet of typical champagne breadiness. The price is perfect—about $20 so you don’t break the bank. Even better any leftover champagne can be the perfect morning mimosa that you may be lucky enough to share with your loved one!

Pinot Noir:
Humberto Canale is a super surprising Pinot Noir from the southern hemisphere. It is one of the furthest south vineyards in the world. Antarctic air cools the grapes and gives it the perfect delicate flavors. There is virtually no Pinot Noir grown in Argentina, but Canale has found the perfect little vineyard to create amazing delicate wines. This pinot noir is bursting with black cherry and berry flavors. It has a great finish that always leaves you wanting more. At $13 a bottle it is the best value around. Save your money for the jewelry or roses!!!


Butter Chardonnay has become a national sensation. The Label says it all. It is rich buttery and clean chardonnay. But if you want a cool alternative from a small little California producer, try Caricature Chardonnay. Caricature is vibrant and easy to drink. Using all Lodi grapes Caricature chard exhibits the perfect character and exquisite flavors that you expect from good chardonnay. It has 6months in the French barrel to give it complexity and silkiness. An awesome new wine that won’t break the bank for about $15.

By |February 13th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Apollo Is Here To Help This Valentine’s Day