Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dark Star’s Son is Shining Brightly

During our recent visit to Paso Robles, we made our regular stop at Dark Star Cellars and once again enjoyed everything that they were pouring. This stop we also went next door to Norm and Susan’s sons tasting room, Brian Benson Cellars. Now I have to be honest, I have seen Brian grow and change as a wine maker, and early on I was disappointed and felt he did not get the winemaker gene from his father. But time has changed that, and the past few visits; I have walked out of his tasting room with a few bottles of wine.

Brian at 28 has been making wine for half of his life, and opened his tasting room on his 21st birthday.

His current releases range from a Syrah that has been aged for 40 months in the barrel to a 3-year vertical of Denner Syrahs and a nice Cabernet Sauvignon from Westside Ranch in Adelaida.

The current issue (March 31, 2011) of Wine Spectator Magazine has also recognized Brian this week, with a nice article and photo highlighting the new wine makers in the Paso Robles area.

It is a well-written article and you should go pick one up at your local bookstore.

Congratulations Brian! Keep up the great work! As his Mom Susan now says, Brian and Norm are now competing to see who will take care of her when she retires!



Friday, February 18, 2011

Six new Master Sommeliers announced!

Join the Guild of Sommeliers in congratulating the six new Master
Sommeliers from last week's examination in Dallas. Their achievement
is an inspiration to many.

We raise a glass to:
Anthony Anselmi MS, Kermit Lynch - Los Angeles
Jason Heller MS, Bond Estates - Napa
Jennifer Huether MS, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Toronto,
Brian McClintic MS, Treasury Wine Estates - San Francisco
Matthew Stamp MS,  French Laundry - Napa
Dustin Wilson MS,  RN74 - San Francisco

The Guild is thrilled to see that four of the six new Masters were
finalists in the 2010 TOP|SOMM competition including the TOP|SOMM
Champion and runner-up!

For those of you who are or engaged in or inspired by this process we
encourage you to log on to and read Master Stamp's
recent blog "Reflections of a New Master - The Journey is the

We asked the four new Masters who competed in the TOP|SOMM
Championships along with the other finalists to recommend some of
their favorite books for studying.  They are available in the Guild's
Amazon store, found here.

A percentage of the proceeds from any books purchased via our Amazon
store goes to support the Guild of Sommeliers scholarship fund.

Congratulations to the new Masters and Cheers to you all! 


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Another one...... Four Vines sold!

Four Vines, a highly regarded California Zinfandel and Chardonnay producer, has been purchased by Purple Wine Company, a little-known Sonoma firm led by one of the founders of the successful Blackstone brand.

The sale price was not disclosed but the deal includes the Four Vines brand and the current wine inventory. Four Vines owns no vineyards and a small production facility in Paso Robles was not included.

Four Vines was launched in 1994 by Christian Tietje, in what he called a garage and surf shack. By the early 2000s, Tietje’s full-flavored wines caught on with consumers and production grew to 120,000 cases.

Their tasting room in Paso Robles is now closed.



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentines Day wines

Romance and wine tend to go hand in hand, whether it's a fancy Valentine's Day dinner or trying some of Cupid's chocolate paired up with wine. You may also find yourself presenting a unique wine as a gift itself - there are plenty of reasons to have a good bottle of wine on hand for February 14th. 

So, let me know what are some of your best options for Valentine's Day wines. The traditional Valentine colors just happen to come in the same shades of wine: red, white and pink, and we'll try all three.