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Louies Wine Dive

 Louie's Wine Education

At Louie's Wine Dive, we do more than serve great wine, we learn about great wines every day. We do this through conversation – with winemakers, with each other, and most importantly, with our guests. We hope that the articles here will continue the discussion and help demystify the world of wine.


Grapes & Regions

Learn about wine grape varieties and the regions around the world where they grow best. 

Wine Terminology

The history of winemaking is also the history of trying to find the words to describe the amazing variety of flavors, aromas, and sensations in every wine glass.

Pairings & Recipes

Wine and food are the perfect combination – they both elevate the other and open up new possibilities for enjoying a good time with friends and family.


Kristene King Thrall
December 5, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

The end of the year, and the end of a name.

Sometimes we luck out and find a gem of a bottle that you just won’t be able to find anywhere else. This is such a jewel. St Clement’s beautiful Napa vineyard was bought by the owners of Quintessa from the owners of Stag’s Leap Winery and Beringer. (Did you follow all that?) They did not, however, buy the name, St. Clement. That means this is the very last vintage of this creamy wine with this name. We were so fond of it, we bought all we could get our hands on.

In Italian-American tradition, Christmas Eve is celebrated with Festa dei Sette Pesci or La Vigilia, Feast of the Seven Fishes. Its origins hail from southern Italy and were first mentioned in America in the early ‘80s in the New York Times. It is unclear whether there are seven, nine or even thirteen fish dishes in the feast. It depends on your particular family tradition and ability to translate Italian dialects. This big, aged, oaky 2014 St. Clement Reserve Chardonnay will be a flawless match with almost all of the courses. Try it with baccalà. (the fried salt cod is an Italian Classic) If that doesn’t sound festive enough, it will be lovely with the caramel Topsy’s popcorn your boss gave you, or a quick linguine with clam sauce.

Time Posted: Dec 5, 2019 at 3:15 PM
Kristene King Thrall
December 4, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

Kicking off the holidays with Big Fat Jolly Wine

Winter holidays elicit memories of traditions and family folklore. Some of our favorite recollections are moments of ha-ha-ing around Christmas trees, friends popping by with cookies, your mom’s most difficult and intricate recipes from the backs of envelopes shared with our kids and tape-tangled fingers while wrapping odd-shaped boxes. We went searching for a wine that could stand up to the heft of those expectations. We needed a wine as comfortable with a pizza or antipasti platter eaten from the coffee table as stuffed pork roast for Sunday dinner, eaten from the good china.

First the wine needed to have history. Castello di Gabbiano was constructed in 1124 for a banking family. It then passed on to the Soderini family and around the time Da Vinci was making Mona smile, the Medici family decided they weren’t fans of the Soderinis. Apparently they were labeled “rebels.” The Soderinis decided, diplomatically, to relocate quickly and left their castle abandoned until 17th century. (History, check.)

Then we wanted a wine that was ready to drink right now. It had to be aged marvelously. It couldn’t need to be decanted or open up before being quaffed. We wanted this to be perfect for friends knocking on the door unexpectedly or opening when the pizza is delivered while wrapping gifts on the floor.

Introducing the 2013 Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva. This six year old bottle is absolutely perfect, right now, with all manner of red sauce, lean beef, pork or even a simple grilled cheese. And of course, a big Tuscan-Style Pork Roast!

This is the quintessential wine for your 2019 holidays.

Time Posted: Dec 4, 2019 at 2:49 PM
Kristene King Thrall
October 7, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

Living up to the family name in Argentina

Winemaker José Lovaglio Balbo has grape juice running through his veins. After all, his mom is THE Susana Balbo. Yes, the woman who braved all the machismo and founded Crios, Nosotros, Susana Balbo among others to help introduce Argentine wine to the world. The woman who is being honored with the 2019 BRAVO Lifetime Achievement Award for the Council of the Americas. Yeah, those are some pretty big stilettos to try to fill.

José is unabashedly forging his own fortune in the wine biz by creating four wines to showcase the specific terroir of his homeland. We fell in love with the 2016 Vaglio Chango when we sipped it and caught wind of its notes of sandalwood and dill and it tasted of bruised crimson fruit and grapefruit peel. Its elegance had us swooning. The care taken in the winemaking is evident with every sip. Sear a filet or roast a duck breast to enjoy with this seducer.

Time Posted: Oct 7, 2019 at 4:00 PM
Kristene King Thrall
October 4, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

Sipping on juice at the tavern

La Posta translates to The Tavern and represents the place where farmers and winemakers come together to talk about the harvest. This is a winery overseen by the wine pioneer Laura Catena. (Seriously, we can't even begin to get into all her accolades and accomplishments here) With the collaboration of renowned winemaker, Luis Reginato, they seek out small single-grower single-vineyard owners and aid them in producing engaging wine.

Bonarda (called Charbono in Napa and no relation to Bonarda from Italy) is one of the most-planted grape varieties in all of Argentina. We predict this is going to be the next big thing to hit the wine world. This juice will be lower in alcohol and tannin and juicier than Malbec. Most producers age it in stainless or used oak. We think it's closer to a jammy Lodi Zinfandel. So whether you are grilling some salmon steaks or just having some sweet and sour beef delivered, 2017 La Posta 'Armando' Bonarda juice will be your jam. (Please excuse the pun)

Time Posted: Oct 4, 2019 at 11:30 AM
Kristene King Thrall
October 3, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

Drinking Argentinian rosé til the cows come home

Lujan de Cuyo is a wine region just on the west side of Mendoza Province, Argentina where the Cuatro Vacas Gordas Ranch and Winery lies.(Cuatro Vacas Gordas translates to Four Fat Cows. We think that would be a great band name.) It sits high up in the Andes at about 3200 feet. For comparison, Howell Mountain in Napa is at 1683 feet. The adorable polka-dotted cows found in drawings on the label wander fields adjacent to the winery. The land is kept pristine and healthy by the use of organic farming so the winery can produce these vegan wines.

We are showcasing Argentina this month, but we know most wine drinkers are familiar with the standard Malbec that Mendoza is famous for producing. The 2018 Cuatro Vacas Gordas Malbec Rosé is a jazzy, rust- colored rosé version. It smells of petroleum and tangerines (which is also a cool album name) and balances the fruit with a bitter note romping around in the back. Try some vegan empanadas or veggie lasagna with this fresh juice.

Time Posted: Oct 3, 2019 at 3:00 PM
Kristene King Thrall
October 2, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

How about Argentina?

OK, full disclosure: I didn't intend to order this wine. I screwed up, and misspelled something, and this wine showed up for me to taste for this month. I wanted bubbles from an entirely different winery. Sometimes, the universe just knows better.

Domaine Bousquet is all the things we adore in wine makers: organic, sustainable, creating water shortage programs, creating biodiversity through their garden and restaurant program, oh yeah, and turning out seriously amazing wine.

When this pretty, ballet-slipper-pink juice poured into the glass, everybody around the table started to smile. The 2018 Domaine Bousquet Rosé is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris from gorgeous vineyards sprawling at 4000 feet in Uco Valley. Try it with some red beans and rice, chicken salad sandwiches or arroz con pollo. We hope you enjoy our happy accident.

Time Posted: Oct 2, 2019 at 1:15 PM
Louie's Wine Club
September 6, 2019 | Louie's Wine Club

Des Moines – a Pinot from California by way of Burgundy

To round out our month of California Pinots, we're returning to a wine we loved when it featured in our Wine Club in Kansas City: the 2013 Iron Horse Pinot Noir. Click through for thoughts from our Director of Training, Kristene King Thrall.

Time Posted: Sep 6, 2019 at 3:45 PM
Louie's Wine Club
September 5, 2019 | Louie's Wine Club

Des Moines – The light side of Noir

Carneros is known for its loam and clay soils and a mixture of flat land and rolling hillsides, along with the reliable marine fog that rolls in every evening and burns off mid-morning. This is where the 2016 Saintsbury Vin Gris Rosé gets its start.

Vin Gris is a Burgundian viticultural term describing how vintners bleed off a portion of the free run juice in a difficult year (often with too much rain) in order to produce a more concentrated red wine. It is often faint salmon in color and shows crisp tart fruit on the palate. The 2016 Saintsbury Vin Gris Rosé is an excellent effort.

Whole clusters of Pinot Noir from the Home Ranch vineyard were hand-picked at night and taken directly to press. The juice is pale in color but ethereal in aroma. The saignée components of the blend add depth and juiciness to the mid-palate. Guava, nectarine, grapefruit zest and white flowers on the nose, followed by wild strawberry, cantaloupe and blood orange on the palate, with bright tangy acidity and mineral notes on the finish.

Time Posted: Sep 5, 2019 at 2:00 PM
Louie's Wine Club
September 4, 2019 | Louie's Wine Club

Des Moines – California, the home of Film (Pinot) Noir

While the quaint villages of the area may appear sleepy, the Sonoma Coast is, in fact, a very prodigious grape-growing area that's well known for the high quality of its wine. The proximity of the Pacific Ocean ensures that warm days are cooled by ocean breezes, providing optimal grape growing conditions. The size of the area, some 250 miles long, creates a wide diversity of soil and elevations, contributing to the unique character of the region's wines.

In the 2013 Ballard Lane Pinot Noir, fragrances of red currant, strawberry shortcake and Portobello mushroom dominate the nose. The fruit was night harvested and crushed, 100% destemmed, within hours to maintain quality. The must was cold soaked for 72 hours to produce better color, aromatics, flavor and tannin extraction. Dishes with morels or other wild mushrooms, roasted or grilled lobster and roasted or grilled steak will pair excellently.

Time Posted: Sep 4, 2019 at 3:45 PM
Kristene King Thrall
September 4, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

A Sonoma-style Pinot from the coast of Chile

If Colchagua Valley is the Bordeaux of Chile, Leyda is the Burgundy, or more accurately, the Sonoma coast of Chile. Cool ocean breezes caused from the Humboldt current and morning fog keep the vines at steady cool temperatures. Before 1990, the region was known for wheat and barley. Larger wineries, looking to take advantage of the ideal cooler climate and infertile soil, built water pipelines to bring in irrigation from the Maipo River. Now, vineyards dot the rolling hills on the ocean side of the mountains.

Boya translates to buoy. This is a perfect name for a vineyard overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The winemaker picks the fruit early from young vines for the Boya Pinot Noir. This keeps all the strawberry and cherry flavors bright and alive. With fall upon us, whip up some French onion soup (courtesy of Miss Julia Child’s recipe), mushroom flatbread, pumpkin soup or your favorite salmon dish.

Time Posted: Sep 4, 2019 at 10:00 AM

Why Louie's Wine Club?

Learn more with tasting notes from our team of sommeliers.

But don't just take our word for it! Take notes and follow along with our tasting guide to start picking out details of the wines you love. Or come in to chat with our sommeliers at any Louie's Wine Dive restaurant.

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Pick up at your convenience at the Louie's Wine Dive location of your choice. No shipping means we're putting more of your dollars toward what matters: sourcing and purchasing top quality wine.

Broaden your perspective with wines from around the world.

Unlike most wine clubs, our team is not pigeonholed in having to use wine of a select brand or region, but rather is procuring wine focused on your enjoyment and building knowledge.


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