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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 6, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

Home for the Holidays

When you type the name Beckstoffer into Google, you come across pages and pages of links to accolades, lifetime achievement awards, pioneering accomplishments, and some of the most crucial vineyard sites in California. Yes, the Beckstoffers have been a force in shaping the California wine scene since before it was cool. In 1970, Andy Beckstoffer piled the family in the station wagon and moved to the Golden State. They are now the owners of some of the best dirt and dust in the state.

Tuck Beckstoffer, Andy’s son, is one of the rare few that have both winegrowing and winemaking on their resumes. He makes his wines by carefully fussing over the vineyard to produce beautiful, vigorous fruit so all he has to do in the winery is try not to mess it up. He uses no marketing whatsoever, but instead relies on word of mouth. He is that confident that his 75 Wine Co. Cabernet Sauvignon is made with integrity.

Well, it’s the holidays and you need a big fun festive red to go with your standing rib roast and roast goose. We have you covered with this juice bomb. With bright notes of strawberry and undercurrents of toffee and biscotti, this Cabernet will bowl you over. So pull the venison steaks out of the freezer, dust off your grandmother’s recipe for fruitcake and pour yourself a glass of cheer.

Time Posted: Dec 6, 2019 at 2:00 PM
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
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
Kristene King Thrall
September 3, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

Resurrecting a French favorite in Chile

Every month we try to throw in a wine that has a high "coolness" factor. We bet this bottle is seriously unlike anything rolling around in your cellar. The winemaker could only squeeze out 5,437 bottles from these old gnarled vines. Estimates say they were probably planted in the 1940s! The winemaker? Well, he's a rockstar and a romantic. David Marcel arrived in Chile as a fresh faced University of Montpellier grad and fell wildly in love with both the land and his Chileño bride. He makes wine from some of the country’s oldest heritage País (Mission) and Carignan vines.

So what is Carignan? Carignan was the most planted grape in France until Merlot took over at the end of the twentieth century. It's called by many names (Carignane, Mazuelo, Cariñena, Samso) and grown across the world’s wine regions. It's a big, acidic, tannic grape that can produce a hefty amount of fruit per vine if grown in the hottest wine regions. In the south of France, it is used as a blending grape in Cotes-du-Rhône to add acid to sometimes over ripe years. In Catalonia and Rioja, it is used to give nuance to Garnacha. In Sardinia, it grows on squat little bushes and bakes in the sun.

Our choice of the 2016 Vina Maitia Carignan was driven by the wildness of this wine. We were taken aback by the fennel, eucalyptus and Fernet flavors. We think this will pair with duck breast with braised cherries and smoked brisket but we would love to hear what you put with this showstopper.

Time Posted: Sep 3, 2019 at 11:05 AM
Kristene King Thrall
August 31, 2019 | Kristene King Thrall

Get to know the Colchagua!

About 140 kilometers (87 miles) south of Chile's capital at the southernmost portion of the Rapel D.O. lies the Colchagua (coal-chag-wha) Valley. This is where big wine comes from. The region is known for muscley and expressive reds, but also produces renowned Sauvignon Blanc. In 1935, the Viu-Manent family founded their company selling other producers' wine. In 1966, the dream of making their own wine was realized when they purchased the first of the family's three vineyards. Like others in the region, they are devoted to preserving the land with organic and sustainable farming practices.

So now that you have all that in your brain, let's talk Sauvignon Blanc in general. Sauvignon Blanc was born in Bordeaux, where it will never reach the same ripeness as a warm region so it's blended with the floral Semillon to mellow out all the tartness. Most wine drinkers are familiar with the grapefruit bombs of Marlborough, New Zealand (Think Kim Crawford or Cloudy Bay). The Kiwis are famous for giant gooseberry laden green juice. Loire, France has regions devoted to gentle, minerally versions of the grape. (Sancerre is amongst the most touted for excellence world over.) Our very own Napa Valley makes bold Sauv Blanc known for mostly tropical flavors of pineapple and papaya.

Chilean Sauvignon Blanc is often the Goldilocks version. It has white peach as well as fresh mown grass, papaya and bell pepper, tart yellow apple and wild flowers. You will be walking on the sunny side of the street when you pair the 2018 Viu Manent Reserva Sauvignon Blanc with late summer salads, avocado toast, heirloom tomatoes drizzled with vinaigrette, shrimp ceviche and roasted eggplant and zucchini.

Time Posted: Aug 31, 2019 at 3:00 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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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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