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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
August 30, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

Let's stay in the South... to Chile!

Our story begins in 1892 when the Bouchon Family moved from St. Emilion, Bordeaux to the Colchagua Valley and began working in wine production in the area for five generations. In 1992 the family began production of its own label. You know we love a sustainable vineyard and this producer is certified sustainable. They even employ their own strict code of safety and ethics. All of the wines go through a company tasting panel and held to the highest standards. The Casa Silva Cabernet Saugvinon is made from the finest sites in the portfolio.

Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile are usually Herculean in body. Intense flavors of jalapeño tango with cassis and dusty brambly blackberries. Flashes of black pepper and cinnamon will linger long after your sip is finished. As the second largest producer of the grape (behind France, of course), Chile is adept at giving the juice a sharp modern edgy style.

Drink this with your boldest fare. Don't shy away from lamb, wild boar or a simply grilled porterhouse rubbed with a generous amount of salt and fresh-cracked pepper.

Time Posted: Aug 30, 2019 at 2:30 PM
Kristene King Thrall
August 8, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

Wrapping up this month's trip in the McLaren Vale

David Paxton, the renowned viticulturist, established his family-owned wine company in 1979 and released the first wine under his name in 2000. Paxton wines showcase the very best the McLaren Vale appellation has to offer. Vineyard sites are all biodynamically farmed, and winemaker and vineyard manager alike strive to create wines of perfect balance sourced from myriad of carefully tended blocks throughout the valley. These are the kinds of nerds we love. They use healthy soil, composting, canopy plucking and pruning and low yield vines to keep the land healthy for generations to come.

Cabernet Sauvignon comes in a close second in production to Shiraz in Australia. The Mediterranean climate and ocean breezes create big fruity fearless wines. The 2018 Paxton Vineyards 'The Vale' Cabernet Sauvignon is layered with smashed raspberries, sweet pipe tobacco and dried oregano. This wine is charming now and will age gracefully for another decade. A roasted lamb leg or sausage on the barbie would be flawless pairings.

Time Posted: Aug 8, 2019 at 2:30 PM
Kristene King Thrall
August 7, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

Lounging poolside, picnics, camping... what do these have to do with wine?

So you can’t bring glass to the pool? Camping or hiking, and don’t want to lug heavy bottles around? Headed to watch a little Shakespeare in the Park with a picnic? Check out the next evolution in packaging, wine in a can. Each can holds two glasses so they are single serving size. They are recyclable so the carbon footprint is small. We are tickled pink to bring you something new(-ish).

Speaking of making the world a better place, once upon a time, way back in 2014, two American exchange students in South Africa went hiking, met a dog, hung out with locals and fell in love with the people and wine. Fast forward to 2016, they created Lubanzi to connect the good ole USA with South African wine and culture. They work with small co-ops and independent producers to create innovative and socially responsible(and bodaciously delicious) wine. But wait, these guys didn’t stop there! After producing great wine in slick packaging, they decided to give even more to the community. They are partnered with The Pebble Project to create meaningful social impact.

We are proud to introduce you to this bold Rhône-style blend from the Lubanzi family made where the mountains meet the ocean in W.O. Coastal Region. This 2018 Lubani Red is dark and zippy with mounds of blackcurrant and mulberries dipped in chocolate. You should grab a burger fresh off the charcoal grill in one hand and a can of this wine in the other to enjoy it to its fullest.

Time Posted: Aug 7, 2019 at 2:15 PM
Kristene King Thrall
August 6, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

A must-have Aussie Shiraz

In Australia there is one grape that shows dominance over all others, the famed Shiraz. Point of fact: Shiraz accounts for almost a third of the vines on the continent. Armed with these tidbits of knowledge, we knew we couldn't leave this bruiser out of a study of the Southern side of the globe.

Grant Burge is a producer that was founded at the height of all things Aussie cool in 1988. (We were Aussie obsessed back then: Chain restaurants with steaks and deep fried Bloomin’ Onions, A shirtless man with big hat and even bigger knife, purple hairspray for "scrunching" your curls, Kylie Minogue's version of Locomotion, Olivia Newton-John getting physical, Foster's being "Australian for beer")

There is nothing subtle or demure about this 2016 Barossa Ink Shiraz. It really is so dark you could write with it. The bottle comes with a warning not to wear light clothing and drink this because it stains. That's the whole point of Australian Shiraz; bold opulent juice. Better make sure your food is full in flavor with this bottle. It would be great with slow-roasted ribs, somebody's mom's ragu, or a big meat pie.

Time Posted: Aug 6, 2019 at 3:00 PM
Kristene King Thrall
August 5, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

Exploring the Southern Hemisphere

Fun fact: Backsberg, the winemakers of our 2019 Backsberg Pinotage Rosé this month, are also producers of Kosher wine. Pinotage was created especially for SA in the 1920s. It tastes of burning rubber and sadness. It is actually lovely in this pink version with all that grit and tannin softened.

At the beginning of the last century, C.L. Back arrived in South Africa as a Lithuanian refugee. After a stint as a dock worker and a butcher, he bought a farm. By the 20s he was growing grapes, producing wine and selling in bulk to the KWV or shipping it to England. The land passed to Sydney, then to Michael and now his son Simon is on board. The business has shed the piggery, the grains, and peach orchards, but remains very much a "family farm." The land is certified carbon neutral and sustainably farmed.

Pinotage is a grape bred in the 20s specifically for South Africa by the mad scientist Abraham Perold. A cross between Cinsaut and Pinot Noir, the grape is closer in body and flavor to a jammy Shiraz than a dainty Pinot Noir. This grape variety is incredibly inky and full of tar and red pepper when produced as a red wine. The Backsberg Pinotage Rosé is a fetching rosé that has softer notes of Ruby Red grapefruit and ripe strawberries, preferring to leave the bracing tannins to its red counterpart. This juice is delightful with fresh cheese, Chakalaka, and crusty bread.

Time Posted: Aug 5, 2019 at 2:45 PM
Louie's Wine Club
August 3, 2019 | Louie's Wine Club

Saying goodbye to Australia month in Des Moines

No one can claim that the Aussies don't have fun. When we first read the word "Mollydooker" on this wine bottle, we knew we were in for a treat.

2016 was Mollydooker's biggest vintage to date, with a total 1,437 tons of grapes crushed and into barrel. The very first pick that year was this McLaren Vale Verdelho, in the third week of February. The last time their Verdelho stood alone in The Violinist (rather than being used in blends) was in 2013, so it was exciting to see its return in 2016. The ferments were well behaved and finished off beautifully in barrel, allowing early oak integration and added complexity in the wines. The grapes were grown on the Gemtree vineyard in McLaren Vale.

The 2016 Mollydooker 'The Violinist' Verdelho sets off with a fragrant nose reminiscent of tropical fruits that is supported by a generous mouthfeel. Its lemon and lime zest adds an initial crispness to the palate that slowly fades to leave you with an imprint of its creamy mouthfeel. Ripe pineapple and lychee flavors develop and intertwine with fresh citrus elements. Careful oak use has added to the wine's complexity with hints of vanilla and spice to help tantalise the tastebuds. You'll find good matches with shellfish, oysters, spicy foods, and Asian dishes.

And yes, mollydooker is a real word – we looked it up! Apparently, it's old-timey slang for a left-handed person and both the founders of the winery are lefties. That feels like a good place to say goodbye to Australia month here in Des Moines, so g'day mate!

Time Posted: Aug 3, 2019 at 3:00 PM
Louie's Wine Club
August 2, 2019 | Louie's Wine Club

Des Moines down under!

The backstory of the 2015 Flegenheimer Bros. Paisant Red goes back almost to the beginning of the McLaren Vale. Cuttings were taken from a very old Grenache vineyard in McLaren Vale known for producing a delicate, perfumed expression of the varietal. When ready, the cuttings were planted as bush vines on the western slope of Hammerschlag’s property. This portion of the vineyard has the hardest soil, with only a few feet of topsoil over a hard shelf of chalk, and is quite windy. In short, it is the toughest spot on the property – which is exactly where Grenache should be. Yields are low with roughly 2 tons of fruit per acre.

The Grenache was then co-fermented with Shiraz and aged for several months in neutral French and American oak to showcase bright acidity and natural fruit. This Grenache lends itself to robust cherry flavors with refreshing acidity. The small amounts of Shiraz add blackberry and deep color as well as tannin structure. A perfect pairing for pork based dishes.

Time Posted: Aug 2, 2019 at 2:15 PM
Louie's Wine Club
August 1, 2019 | Louie's Wine Club

Australia comes to Des Moines!

On the oldest continent of the world, vines were introduced in 1788, concentred mainly in the south of the country. Here, they enjoy of a beautiful sunshine and a relativity cool climate. Michel Chapoutier established Tournon in 2007 shortly after purchasing 50 hectares of property in the heart of the Victorian Pyrenees and Heathcote, with the goal of producing elegant wines in the style of his native France. Fauna and flora make these soils rich: the vineyards, bordered by eucalyptus, are regularly visited by kangaroos.

These grapes are harvested at full maturity, destemmed, and lightly pressed. The grapes then undergo cold sedimentation for 48 hours and ferment in stainless steel tanks. Aging takes place entirely in stainless steel tanks on lees, for 5 months.

The 2013 Tournon 'Mathilda' White is full of fresh stone fruit and a crisp freshness. It is supple and fresh on the palate with great minerality. It will pair well with white fish, shellfish or linguine with clams, and citrus salads.

Time Posted: Aug 1, 2019 at 2:00 PM
Louie's Wine Club
July 9, 2019 | Louie's Wine Club

Des Moines – Wrapping up the trip in California

The Santa Lucia Highlands in the foothills above the Salinas Valley provide perfect conditions for growing award-winning Chardonnay, with Monterey Bay's cool ocean breezes leading to gentle ripening. The Santa Lucia Highlands is one of California's most famous winegrowing districts, home to many well-known vineyard estates and wine labels. The earliest vine plantings in what became the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation took place in the 1790s with the arrival of Spanish missionaries and conquistadors. The vines' elevated locations take full advantage of morning sun before stiff, afternoon maritime winds slow ripening by shutting down the photosynthesis. The exceptionally long growing season – early budbreak, lack of fall rains, prolonged harvests – allows the fruit to develop full, phenolic ripeness & flavors.

This focused, elegant Chardonnay features aromas of lemon, butter croissant, and summer squash. On the palate, the rich fruit flavors are complemented by a light touch of graham cracker and salted butter caramel. Partial malolactic fermentation ensures a creamy richness balanced by bright fruit acidity. Incredibly food-friendly, the 2015 Morgan SLH Chardonnay is a perfect match with cream-sauced pastas, roast chicken and pork, and seafood.

Time Posted: Jul 9, 2019 at 10:30 AM
Louie's Wine Club
July 8, 2019 | Louie's Wine Club

Des Moines – Onwards to Oregon

The 2017 vintage in the Willamette Valley was stellar, producing well-balanced, elegant wines. The Chemistry Pinot Noir is no exception. Sourced from premier sites throughout the valley, this wine is bright garnet in color thanks to the warm vintage. The Willamette Valley climate provides an elongated grape-growing season that is ideal for Pinot Noir. Winter is typically cool, wet and mild. Spring is often rainy, while summers are warm with cool evenings. The Valley's rich soils are the beneficiaries of the Missoula Floods, massive Ice Age floods that left up to 200 feet of rich fertile sediment on the Willamette Valley floor and hillsides.

Aromatics of plum and blueberry lead to a lush and juicy palate with red cherry, earthy mushrooms, and silky tannins that build to a structured finish. This wine will benefit from decanting or aeration. Enjoyable in its youth, this Pinot Noir is the perfect companion while making dinner. Will pair nicely with foods that echo its juiciness and earthiness – consider roasted pork, duck, grilled salmon, and risotto.

Time Posted: Jul 8, 2019 at 3:30 PM

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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