Celebrating the Brotherhood of Port

This week we had a chance to sample excellent Porto and Douro wines at the Association of Port Wine Tasting at the Fontainebleau Hotel Miami featuring a selection of wines from Blackett Port Wine, Jorge Rosas Vinhos, Niepoort, Porto Réccua Vinhos, Ramos Pinto, Rozès and Sogevinus Wineries.

Jorge Rosas of Ramos Pinto showed off a fine line of Porto and Douro

Raul Monteiro of Sogevinus Wines showed off their 60-year-old tawny.

We were pleasantly surprised by this smooth finish of this very affordable White Reserve Porto from Rozes.

Pedro Carniero of Blackett rolled out some of our favorite ports!

The Brotherhood of Port welcomes eight new members including our good friend James Beard Award-winning wine and food writer Lyn Farmer.

2017 SBWFF-Wine Spectator Seminar: Beaulieu Vineyards Retrospective Tasting

A SBWFF- Wine Spectator Tasting of BV’s : Jorge Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Tapestry Red Blend wines

A notable and enjoyable wine at the SBWFF tasting was BV 2013 Tapestry Red Blend. Bordeaux style with nice finese of flavors as supple hints of black cherry and soft tannins round out a nice and lasting finish. Wine Advocate Review: “The 2013 Reserve Tapestry Proprietary Red Wine, which is another Bordeaux blend, raises the question: Is Beaulieu actually producing too many of these proprietary blends, instead of focusing on four or five top wines? In any event, this is a smooth, supple, delicious, front-end loaded style of wine for 2013, with elegant cedar wood, fruitcake and soil undertones intermixed with red and black cherries and blackcurrants. It is ruby/purple, medium to full-bodied, elegant and well-balanced. Drink it over the next 12-15 years”. (Taken from Wine Review) Score: 90, Robert Parker, October 2015

Most impressive and the well noted at this year’s SBWFF tasting was the 1997 Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. A truly lasting wine with concentrated fruits and soft complexities of notable and lasting finish.  This wine drank very well as it seems to to be holding up in true form as the following review implies.”A profoundly deep nose of red and black fruit, with cedar, ginger and nutmeg. The sense of balance and grace is sublime, as layers of cassis, plum and cinnamon keep unfolding. The chewy finish is lengthy and elegant, and it should be held for no less than five years. This bottling honors its pedigree as California’s first classic cabernet.” (taken from wine review, score 94 points Wine Enthusiast)

New Zealand Wines, Blind Tasting

2013 Giesen Single Vineyard Selection “The Fuder – Clayvin” Chardonnay Marlborough“Wow- the brand new 2013 The Fuder Clayvin Chardonnay sure adds to the growing list of absolute knock-out Chardonnay’s of true global significance emerging these days from New Zealand. The highly revered Clayvin vineyard, from which this comes, does not fail to live up to its reputation, yielding a profoundly intense and complex wine redolent of ripe peaches, acacia honey, cashews and crushed chalk with marzipan and brioche nuances. Medium-bodied, it fills the mouth with savory and mineral flavors with a satiny texture and lively acid backbone, finishing with lingering honey-nut notes.” (Taken from wine review 95+ points Robert Parker Wine Advocate)

2013 Craggy Range “Sophia” Bordeaux Blend Gimblett Gravels Hawkes Bay “Deep garnet-purple colored, the 2013 Sophia Proprietary Red is intensely scented of crushed blackberries and blackcurrants with hints of cloves, cedar and violets plus a touch of pencil shavings. Medium-bodied and laden with muscular fruit, it has a solid backbone of grainy tannins and tons of vivacity in the long, multi-layered finish” (Taken from wine review 93 points Robert Parker Wine         Advocate)

2013 Rippon “Tinkers Field” Pinot Noir Lake Wanaka Central Otag0 “Medium to deep ruby-purple in color, the 2013 Tinker’s Field Pinot Noir delivers fragrant black cherries, violets and Ceylon tea notes with underlying garrigue, lavender and fallen twigs hints. Medium-bodied, the tightly knit palate gives restrained, earthy flavors at this youthful stage with a firm level of grainy tannins and plenty of freshness, finishing long and multi-layered” (Taken from wine review 94 points Robert Parker Wine Advocate).                                                                                           

                      2013 Trinity Hill”Homage” Syrah Hawke’s Bay “This full-bodied, richly tannic wine delivers. It starts off with savory notes of cracked pepper, black olives, violets and cedar, then eases into concentrated flavors of blueberries and roasted meat before ending with a flourish of firm, dusty tannins. Give it a few years to soften. Drink 2020–2030″. (Taken from wine review 95 points Wine Enthusiast)


Wines From the Holy Land: Israel


September 13, 2016- I’d been wanting to showcase some great Israeli wines for a while- and when this month’s Wine Spectator dropped I know it was time! I had the guys taste blind with no clues. The guesses were all over the place. (All four of our wines were Bordeaux style blends). Our first wine, the 2011 Domaine Du Castel was our favorite. It proved to be very well balanced, subtle French Oak, and illustrated the complexities of Israel’s limestone terroir but French wine/grape provenance. David Yarus, Wine Club Miami President 2016


2011 Domaine Du Castel was our favorite
2011 Domaine Du Castel was our favorite

General Interest: Warm winds from the Sahara are a challenge for growing wines in Israel.

Question: Is Israel considered old world or new??!



Mar. ’15 – Bordeaux’s Right and Left Banks

We all love Bordeaux!!  This little old town has become the Mecca for true wine lovers.  All vineyards face Bordeaux.  This month we had acquired from some bottles from collectors that were willing to let some experience them.  David Yarus dusted them off and studied.  He spends his days handling inventory of wines in a wine bank.

With the combination of some good pizza and Brian Connor at the microphone, we had a night of one of the best tastings the club could experience.

As for the right and left banks, can you tell which side of the Gironde River the wine comes from?  The Right Bank is more focused on Merlot as the Left is Cabernet Sauvignon.  They are almost always blended of a few varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbet) unless you have a Chateau Petrus.  Brian kept us updated on the stats of the region.

The list was as follows:

  • Chateaux Léoville Barton 2000 $194 WS 97pts. Left Bank – Medoc: Brick color with strong rim variation.  Ripe Fruit and Leather notes on the nose.  Lead pencil and minerals.  A long finish.
  • Clos De L’Oratoire 2000 $117. WS 92pts. Right Bank – St. Emilion Grand Cru: This can age another 5 years.  Strong coffee, cocoa and soft tannins.  This was a true Right Bank Bordeaux.
  • Chateau-Fageac 2000 $264. WS 89pts.  Right Back – St. Emilion Grand Cru Classe. Brownish brick red. Soft with Cedar/Sandlewood nose.  Soft tannins and a long silky finish.
  • Chateau Palmer 1998 $321 WS 90pts. Left Bank – Medoc Margaux.  Leather nose.  Tobacco and black cherry on the palate with a textured finish.  Still strong and has years more to go.

Each had its own distinct character.  Eventhough they had the blends to help you figure out which side it came from, the age added complexity.

This tasting was memorable as each wine grew into its own not following the standard charateristics.  We loved the variety each Bordeaux made.

Drink plentiful people!

Feb. ’15 – The Art of Aged Wine

The older the wine the better right?  Now there is a myth we all hear.  There is a lot to be said when it is aged properly.  Eventhough mostly all wine is made for immediate consumption.  However in recent tasting the Club had with Inglenook wine maker Philippe Bascaules at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival with Wine Spectator, I asked him his thoughts if wine should be aged first then released to the public like a Barolo or just sell it immediately.  He said, “The Consumer should have the luxury to taste the wine young and aged…”  He began to explain that having this experience is how wine aging helps to learn more about the maker and wine.

I was glad to have the opportunity to select some wines with the group.   Jeff Tenen, president of the Club, said to select anything I wanted, just don’t tell me and keep is within the budget.

My goal at this month’s tasting was to experience more about how wine transformation in its youth and aged.

I placed four bottles in front of the blood (or wine) thirsty Club.  We all drank them blind.  They were all the same variatel and manufacturer.

1st Pour: Red brick with medium halo variation.  Acidic & Leather nose. A Light Oak on the palate with a long finish.  This wine transformed as we studied.  It was extremely tight and complex.  The team narrowed it down.  It was an Amarone della Valpolicella or Nebbiolo.

2nd Pour: Light Brick with strong halo variation.  Less tannins with hints of vanilla bean.  Again an old world.

Since we knew it was an aged wine tasting, they immediately said Barolo!  We had the 2005 Vietti Barolo Brunate and the 2010 Vietti Barolo di Castiglione Falletto.

We loved the transformation.  What was a tight and complex wine turned into a flowing stream of flavors that kept shifting and opening bigger and better.

3rd Pour: Opaque dark ruby.  Sweet palate with soft tannins.  A velvety finish.  Immediately Stephen Gamson screams California Cabernet!  Why I ask.  He stated because, “It makes me Happy!”  So that immediately made the club start thinking a vintage California.  This is how the mind tricks you.  Don’t trick your mind, but he was on the right track.

4th Pour: Again Opaque dark ruby.  A nose that was releasing bitter sweet flavors.  This was now tricking the Club because they were thinking California.  Can this wine be so different?

2001 Winehall Lane Leonardini Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon compared to the 2011 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon.

Here the young wine was tight.  It was ready to drink but we felt it lacked the characteristics to age well.  The Leonardidi aged with grace.  Even at 14 years old it was obvious what it was.

Now make your choice.  Do you like to age the wine to see what it will become or to see it will remain true to what was made to taste like when it was created?  Happy drinking!!

IMG_2446 IMG_2445



Jan ’15 – Do Not Trick Your Mind!

We all can recall that moment when it comes. The wine is in the glass and you begin to study it.  You have that taste and before you finish, you are already calling out varietals and regions.  Well that’s because you and almost every wine drinker out there, think they know it all. I can say that most of the group does know it all, that’s why we can only drink amongst each other, but we need to take the minutes and appreciate it. Isn’t she beautiful; look as her color; appreciate her age; she smells like a bouquet of roses; and when see speaks… take the 60-120 seconds and listen before you judge her.

The group had the opportunity to have Mr. Brian P. Connors of Connors Davis Hospitality. Brian is a Professor at Johnson & Wales University, The School of Hospitality Management. He lectured us on the how we have different “Sensations we experience are Reality” or are they not. This often triggers our minds to believe the wine we prefer is immediately from something we experienced. Yes, we have links from your palette to your brain, but it’s time to stop and take the steps to understand the wine.  What is good to you may be bad to someone else. Or is it just “different”.

Brian poured five wines.  The final two were blind tastings after our lecture.

Wine #1: 2005 Tempranillo Spain, Valduero – 6 Años Reserva Premium.

Wine #2: 2008 Philip Togni Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wine #3: 2008 Gemstone Cabernet Sauvignon.

Brian’s lecture was comprised of many facets.  To list a few: Sensation Versus Perception; Analysis Versus Evaluation; See / Sight (Color and Intensity); Smell Descriptors (Off-Odors or distinct aromas); The 6 ‘S’s (Swirl, Smell -Three times, Sweetness, Savor); the human tongue; French Oak (Vespa), American Oak (Harley Davidson), Hungarian Oak (Moped Bike); viscosity (2%, Whole Milk or Light Cream); Rim Variation (Age and quality with color consistency when you look at the wine from the side, below and directly from above.)

Tasting Technique

Here is where we have our initial conclusions (Climate, Variety, Quality Level, Age, New vs. Old World).  After we think about the initial and a few minutes thinking, then we can come to our Final Conclusion.  Varietal, Country, Region, Vintage, Quality/Price.

We were able to practice the wines with the information in front of us. Now was the test. BLIND.

Wine #4. White wine. Color: Light Gold meant wasn’t aged too long. Bouquet: Slight Minerals meant Old World. Old World meant the Region could be from Europe. Vintage: Rim Variation was light it meant young.  Finally Quality: Sweet with citrus on the nose. Slightly textured, with a crisp finish.  Andrew Cohen, nailed it. Sancerre – 2013 Domaine de la Perriere Sav Blanc.

Wine #5. Now here this one was great!  It had all the challenges we love. Complex, interesting, old world, dark, high alcohol. Who guessed it? No one. This 2011 Ribera del Duero Pagos de Carraovejas was just hard to pinpoint.

As I said, we often know it all. Now, study the wine with these steps and you’ll be surprising people and yourself like a David Copperfield at the Playboy Mansion.


Champagne and Claws

Wine Club Miami November 2014 Champgne Tasting

Champagne, like it, love it, lets just drink it. It’s that time of year again as the holidays are fast approaching, all the more reason for Wine Club of Miami to have a Champagne tasting. Five selected non vintages, hosted by myself and Andrew Cohen at the gallery space of our President Stephen Gamson. Stone Crabs claw were a fitting menu followed by a Joe’s Key Lime pie brought a terrific tasting and the close of our 8th year of Wine Club Miami!

Wine Club Miami November 2014 Champgne Tasting

A non ranked tasting based on comments from member for the following selected: Laurent -Perrier Brut ($35) Louis De Sacy Brut ($32) Ruinart Blanc de Blancs ($80) Drappier (almost) Blanc de Noirs ($47) Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose ($80)

Enjoyed by all and commented for good balance and subtle complexities seems rule the overall tasting comments. Several were noted with additional comments. Overall it seemed the Laurent was most liked in general for balance and for the nice price. Also commented on uniqueness and taste were the Ruinart Blanc de Blancs and the more drier Blanc de Noir. Both of these Blancs seem to be most interesting for excellent taste.

Overwhelming response seems to be enjoyed for the Billecart-Salmon as to the quality of the champagne in an overreaching group consensus as very well liked.

Best, MH

Wine Club Miami November 2014 Champgne Tasting
Event hosts Matt Hege and Andrew Cohen

November Tasting: The Presidential Speech: Bigger is better!


That’s right I said it!  Bigger is better. Escalades, penthouses, yachts and bottles.  As I came into my last two months into my first term, I personally selected wines for the entire club without any suggestions from the members.  I wanted to bring a wine that would be social and make everyone think about not only their future, but the wines’ future.

It is said that the larger the bottle format, the “truer” the wine.  Drinking wine from a barrel is nothing like having it from the bottle (not even in a Riedel glass). Either it is the state of mind by drinking from the barrel or just being limited to just 750 ml., you’ll never have enough.


I selected three young Right Bank Bordeaux magnums.  The notes from other drinkers are exactly what I look for in my wines.  I bought two of each bottle.  One was set for our November tasting and the other is set for our November 2023 tasting.  How can I wait ten years you ask?  Just hide it in the back, out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

Below please find the notes and point ratings from our tasting.  In the end we were all extremely pleased with the quality of the wine and especially can’t wait for the aging to pass ten years..  Each bottle expressed a higher quality than a 750ml bottle would provide.


Chateau De Barbe Blanche ’09 – St. Emilion – Lussac WMC 8pts; Wine Spectator 89pts. “Raspberry, blackberry and currant flavors along, with toasty vanilla and spice notes filling in on the medium-weight, juicy finish.  A nice tarry flash on the finish.”

Chateau de L’Estang Cotes de Castillion ’09 – Cotes Castillon – WCM 5.5pts; Wine Advocate 90pts. “The opaque ruby/purple-tinges. Lots of sweet black currant and black cherry fruit intermixed with a hint of vanilla.

Chateau Vieux Chateau Palon ’10 – St Emilion – WCM 8pts; James Suckling 93pts. “Full and velvety, with beautiful fruits and ripe tannins.  Dark chocolate and rich fruit on the palate. Sexy” 75% Merlot/25% Cabernet Franc


Again, a special thanks to Cara Mia for allowing us to host our tasting as they always aim to please in the food and service!  Please take some time and dine there!!


September Tasting – Experimental Meritage

Wines are always left to the wine maker.  Some are experienced as others take a chance.  There are so many ways of making the special juice.  Have you ever felt you could make a wine that would taste great?  Making wine takes years and years of harvests and attention.

The club took the easy way. We decided to blend three varietals and attempt to concoct a great wine.  This experiment was interesting because most of us have never tried this.


The meritage was led by Jeff Tenin.  In his recent trip to where blending is a true art, Bordeaux.  He learned the craft and selected three varietals from Napa Valley.  We tasted them in the order below.

13_WineClubMiami_09_45Merlot by Martin Ray – Diamond Mountain District 2009. 14.6% Alc.

Cabernet Franc by World’s End – Against the Wind 2009.

Cabernet Sauvignon by Martin Ray – Diamond Mountain District 2009. 14.6% Alc.

Merlot: Dark red with hints of new leather.  Some dried cranberries with a light structured body.  The alcohol opened our palates and it had a lasting tart finish.

Cabernet Franc: Dark ruby red. On the nose it expressed hints of vanilla and ripeness.  Great depth and full bodied – not bold!  The finish was soft and tannic.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Ruby red.  French oak nose.  The taste and texture was a bit astringent and lasted through the long finish.

Now the blends:

  1. 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10 Cabernet Franc: Great layers and complexity on the nose.  A full body and good finish.  (This was the teams favorite)
  2. 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc:  The merlot provided a great bouquet, however on the palate it was soft and tart.  The finish was long.
  3. 40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 Cabernet Franc: Ripe Cherry Nose but the astringent of the Sauvignon was powerful. Tart finish.
  4. 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 Cabernet Franc: Ripe cherry but tart.


We paired the wines with the cuisine prepared by Tuyo.  They menu was based on the music from Memphis.  Master Chef Norman Van Aken based his dishes from Carl Perkins, Booker T. and the M.G.’s, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Elvis Presley, and B.B. King.