Rosso Primitivo 2007

Rosso Primitivo 2007

I bought this wine because of the timeliness, name and price. I didn’t expect much. The wine, “Mommy’s Time Out,” seemed like an odd name for a wine that is a product of Italy. But there I was–the week before Mother’s Day–strolling the aisles of a wine store studying labels and the wine was marked $2 off. The phrase “Mommy’s Time Out” sounded so American.

I looked up “time out” and “timeout” in the online Oxford Dictionary. The only definitions referred to sports. I can only surmise that at some point the phrase was absorbed into child rearing and then, eventually, adopted into the vernacular for other uses. And somewhere along the line, this vintner latched onto it as a marketing idea. But I speculate.

I bought the red–rosso primitivo–but the label reveals nothing about the grapes. The wine is bottled by CMSPA in the Montorso Vicentino region of Italy. I wish I could tell you more, but I could find nothing else online. Perhaps that won’t matter.  (The producer also makes a Mommy’s Time Out pinot grigio.) The site reveals little and is unlike the fancy whiz-bang web sites of other winemakers. This site is, frankly, amateurish.

The Wine Cask blog was blunt: “Unfortunately, the label is the best part about this wine.” The wine’s finish had an off taste. I feared something too fruity, too sweet. It was neither.

Maybe you’d give this wine to a new mom in a basket with other goodies–and because she’s breastfeeding, she won’t drink it anyway. For $9 (sale price), it’s worth the laugh because of its name. But be sure to include a better wine for mom’s palate. I bet many moms are more sophisticated than this and would appreciate something finer than this.

I wanted to end with a clip of The Rolling Stones “Mother’s Little Helper,” but the blokes have tight control over their property.


I noticed this trio of wines because of the stringed instruments–two with guitars and one with a lute–featured on their labels. My husband and his son play the guitar, the latter professionally. My husband plays acoustic guitars, his fave being his beloved Martin D-28.

All three of these wines have Spanish pedigrees, just like the guitar. The 4,000-year history of the six-string guitar can be traced back to Spain and beyond. However, as Paul Guy points out, the lute, which appears on one of these wine labels, is not the guitar’s ancestor. The lute’s predecessor was the oud, a Moorish instrument. I found two video clips of Spanish music, but alas, could not find any of baguala.

Martín Códax Ergo Rioja


Martín Códax was a late 13th or early 14th century troubadour from Galicia. You can see his original music manuscripts on parchment here, which were found by chance in the early 20th century. Watch the Martín Códax Ensemble play one of his cantigas:

This rioja–86 percent Tempranillo and 14 percent Mazuelo–was produced by the winery Bodegas Martín Códax, founded in 1986 in Combados, Spain. Elliott Essman writes on his blog that he savored this wine, left untouched by his dinner guests the previous night (“Their loss, my gain”):

Much of the wine is aged eight months in American oak. Sweet oak, toast and vanilla come as primary aromas, with red berries and citrus peel. The Rioja, for all the ripeness of its fruit, is extremely dry, with moderate acidity and compliant tannins. The wine is very well balanced and fully palate friendly, bringing cocoa, tobacco, dried herb, deep ripe cherry and red berry. The finish is medium length and well filled with gentle juicy fruit.

I too loved this one!

Baguala Corte Tinto

baguala Baguala, the national music of Argentinian mountain people, features guitars, drums, other percussion such as blocks, and vocals. According to the Wine of the Month Club newsletter, “the baguala has Indian origins and is a chant composed of a simple melody built on three notes and then improvised and developed throughout the song.”

Made from vineyards of Finca La Buena (6,400 feet above sea level) in the Calchaquí Valley in northwest Argentina, this rich rioja is 36 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 36 percent Syrah, 18 percent Malbec and 10 percent Merlot. It tastes of lush fruits with some spice.

Red Guitar “Old Vine” Tempranillo Garnacha

red-guitarThe illustration on this wine label echoes the work of the Spanish artists Picasso and Miró. When I think of Spanish guitarists, classical guitarist Andrés Segovia (1893-1987) immediately comes to mind. Segovia played 19th and early 20th century music–not flamenco. Here he is playing in his later years:

The grapes for Red Guitar wine grow on vines that are over 100 years old, which, because of their age, yield fewer grapes yet have a more concentrated flavor. These vineyards in the small village of Lerga, Spain, which is in the Navarra region (between Rioja and Bordeaux), were handed down from generation to generation. Winemaking in this village dates back 2,000 years plus, when the Romans saw that its climate and soil were ideal for growing grapes. Red Guitar is overseen by Carlotta Orradre.

Chosen as Wine of the Week, a Washington Post writer notes, “The wine is quite sophisticated and is a great jumping-off point for further exploration of Spanish, French and other European wines.”

Sign Me Up!

Sign Me Up!

World’s Best Job: Tweet, Drink and Get Paid $10K a Month

The job title is “Murphy-Goode Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent.” I’ve always wanted to go to Healdsburg and enjoy other parts of California’s wine country. I’m already on Twitter and Facebook and know my way around social media. Maybe they’ll notice me aka The Twitter Queen, a title bestowed on me by my husband. <wink>

From the Murphey-Goode Web site:

We at the Murphy-Goode Winery got to thinking about the new age of communications and we figured it was a pretty good thing. So to get going, we’re looking for someone (maybe you) who really knows how to use Web 2.0 and Facebook and blogs and social media and YouTube and all sorts of good stuff like that — to tell the world about our wines and the place where we live: the Sonoma County Wine Country.

In exchange, we’re offering you a “Really Goode Job” — a six-month job paying $10,000 a month plus accommodations!

We want to hire a social media whiz (your title will be “Murphy-Goode Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent”) who will report on the cool lifestyle of Sonoma County Wine Country and, of course, tell people what you’re learning about winemaking.

Did we mention that the compensation was $10,000 per month Plus accommodations in a beautiful home in picturesque Healdsburg, a popular vacation destination in our neck of the woods. Working hours are flexible. And all you have to do is experience wine and good living, and then tell people about it. (Do you play Poker, or Liar’s Dice? Don’t worry; we’ll teach you.)

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From riebschlager's photostream @Flickr

From riebschlager's photostream @Flickr

On Bloomberg wire services today:

Half a glass of wine a day may add five years to your life, a new study suggests. Drink beer, and you’ll live only 2 1/2 years longer.

The study by researchers at University of Wageningen was published in today’s Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Unfortunately, the study followed men only.  These results may not be applicable to women.

Of course, studies on the cardioprotective effect of alcohol should not prompt anyone to take up drinking!

I’ve been noticing more paper-less wine labels at the wine store lately. For oenophiles who like to collect wine labels, you’re out of luck with bottles that feature direct screenprinting aka applied color labeling. The process involves baking the inked design on the bottle in a 1200-degree furnace. These wine labels offer several advantages to wine producers: wraparound designs, perfect registration and no risk of tearing, wrinkling or other marring. I’m betting that graphic designers love the possibilities because their creativity is no longer confined to a paper label.

Here are two examples:

Boogle Shiraz

Boogle Shiraz

Here's what it looks like on side of the bottle

Sideview of bottle

Imported by The Grateful Palate, Baby Roogle Shiraz is the less expensive version of Marquis Phillips Shiraz, from R Wines, which I’ve written about in a previous post. (For a story about the bitter breakup of the Marquis-Phillips partnership in 2006: Wine Spectator.) The roogle is a creature that exists only in the minds of the wine’s creators. Look at the label closely and you’ll see it’s not a bird. A roogle is a cross between an eagle and a kangaroo.

This shiraz is medium-bodied, though not heavy on tannins, and has a smooth, fruity taste. I bought it for $11.

This other label is a hybrid:


The fork and the word “Tapeña” are applied using direct screenprinting and seem to float on the wine bottle. The yellow strip is a paper label, as is the one on the back of the wine bottle.

I figured the fork is meant to convey “food friendly.” However, the winemaker has a bigger goal, as demonstrated by the comprehensive web site: get into a Spanish lifestyle. Eat tapas! Tune into some Spanish guitar! Throw a party! Make these recipes! Test your knowledge of Madrid!

This earthy full-bodied wine is made from Tempranillo grapes–known as Spain’s noble grape–grown in the Tierra de Castilla region of Spain, which lies just south of Madrid. If you’ve had rioja, then you’ve had wine made from this grape. The area features hot, arid plains. Tempranillo goes well with grilled meats and salmon. It’s nice on its own, as well.

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more about “Tempranillo Wine Facts: Types of Red …“, posted with vodpod

Tapeña Tempranillo also costs in the neighborhood of $11.

The Anti-Label

The Magnificent Wine Co.

The Magnificent Wine Co.

This wine label takes the understated approach to appeal to wine drinkers. Sure, the winemaker avoided critters, flowers, and other cutesy graphics. By trying to seem un-snobby and unfussy, though, I can’t help but think this too borders on self-conscious. The label’s pretense is that, hey, we’re a basic wine, something for the average person, labels aren’t important, the grape is. Blah, blah, blah. Don’t get me wrong. I like simple, straightforward labels. This one may have gone too far. The label looks like someone used a Sharpie to draw it. Think: wine for dummies.

House Wine is produced by The Magnificent Wine Co., which carries a line of generic sounding wines: Steak House Wine, White Table Wine, Fish House Wine, Red Table Wine–all but steak and fish are blends. The House Wine comes in a red and a white. The Magnificent Wine Co. also makes a cabernet, pinot noir, syrah and riesling. The labels feature similar lettering, the type of wine in big Sharpie black letters. The wine comes from grapes grown in vineyards located in Columbia Valley in Washington state.

I tried the House Wine Red the other night. It’s 73 percent cabernet sauvignon, 10 percent merlot, 8 percent syrah, 5 percent sangiovese, 2 percent malbec and 2 percent cabernet franc. The magazines Real Simple, Food & Wine and Gourmet recommended it. I think there are better red wines at this price — $11 — that offer full-bodied, complex flavors.

Fear of Flying?

Wine from The Flying Winemaker

Wine from The Flying Winemaker

For one wine company, a moniker that has generated criticism in the world of wine is nothing to hide. In fact, it has chosen to be up front about how its wines come about, using the very term for its brand name. The wines under The Flying Winemaker label are from Cameron Hughes Wine, which does not own vineyards nor does it ferment wine. In other words, CHW is a virtual wine company. Cameron Hughes and partner Jessica Kogan are its founders. The story behind the wine:

After years of sourcing wine for my Cameron Hughes Lot Series, I have developed relationships with some great wineries and winemakers. People who just “get it”: clean, modern facilities, great vineyards, talented winemakers and, most importantly, integrity. For the Lot Series, we worked together on an in-and-out basis. But, over time, I saw a chance to work with a select few on an ongoing basis. The Flying Winemaker was born.

Each of the wines represents the best varietal from a great region.

Flying winemaker, a term coined by Tony Laithwaite, describes the phenomenon of people who oversee viticultures and winemaking around the world. Critics fear that what results is wine from different regions tasting the same, with no variation depending on terroir and so forth. Others point out that flying winemakers improve Old World wines and raise standards of winemaking.  The article, “High Flyers?,” on the site Waitrose, addresses the pros and cons, noting,

The art of the flying winemaker is to modernise a wine, making it fruity, aromatic and ready for early drinking, without the need for much captial [sic] investment. Flying winemakers emphasise hygiene and rational work procedures, plus the use of certain portable additives and treatments.

The documentary Mondovino (2004 Cannes Film Festival) by Jonathan Nossiter is about the impact of the globalization of wine and the conflict that has arisen–the Old World vs. New World. In her January 2, 2005, New York Times article, “The Wine Wars, Spilled Onto the Big Screen,” Kristen Hohendal writes, “has movie critics here reaching for superlatives and some wine experts lobbing expletives, while audiences have turned the movie into a surprise hit.” Among those profiled in the documentary is Michel Rolland, a well known flying winemaker. Gordon Stimmell, wine columnist for the Toronto Star says that in the documentary,

Rolland was vilified in the documentary Mondovino as a cigarillo-puffing gadabout being ferried from winery to winery in his chauffeured Mercedes, applying the same bag of winemaking tricks to every winery.he film’s message was that Rolland was contributing to the homogenization of global wine styles and the destruction of individual character that makes wines distinctively different from every country and vineyard. But the message was a distortion of the truth.

The only trailer I could find on the web was a promotion for a TV showing of the movie:

Last night, I tried the Tempranillo, which originates from Campo de Borja, Spain, and was released in February 2009. Campo de Borja is in northwestern Spain, near the city of Zaragoza. This full-bodied wine had nice tannins–smooth–with a hint of berry and spice. Delicious!


The Flying Winemaker series includes a chardonnay from Margaret River, Australia; zinfandel from Lodi, California; and a cabernet sauvignon from Maipo Valley, Chile.

You can order it at the Cameron Hughes online store, $60 for four. I found the Tempranillo in my supermarket’s wine section.