Do You Know Negrette?


During one of our trips to Paso Robles a few years ago, we visited the Kenneth Volk tasting room and really enjoyed their wines.  The Paso Robles tasting room is no longer open, but on a subsequent trip to Paso, we stopped in at the Albertsons market (on Niblick Road just off Highway 101) to shop for local wines and found a Kenneth Volk Negrette (Ne-GRET). We were not familiar with that varietal, but knew that Kenneth Volk produced nice wines, so we bought it (along with a bunch of other local wines! - Albertsons is a great place to shop for local wines in Paso, after you've visited the wineries!).

Negrette is mostly found in southwestern France. Outside of France, Negrette is almost nowhere to be found. Except for a small amount of it in San Benito, California, where the Kenneth Volk was from.

The Negrette grape (formally known as Pinot Saint-Georges) is very dark and pigmented and, as a varietal, produces fruity and floral wines with a bit of spicy flavors. The wines are low in tannin and acidity. Because of this, winemakers often will blend it with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Pinot Noir for additional body and age-ability.  But, on its own, it makes for a very nice, smooth wine.

So, if you are not familiar with Negrette, keep your eyes open for the seemingly rare bottles of it outside of France. And, if you find one, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week


2013 Hacienda López de Haro Reserva ($16)

This Rioja Reserva is a blend of 90% Tempranillo, 5% Granacha and 5% Graciano. It's grown in vineyards located near the heart of La Rioja, surrounded by the Sierra de Cantabria mountain and the river Ebro. 

A Rioja Reserva wine must spend a minimum of one year in the barrel, and cannot be sent to market until a full three years after vintage. But, this Reserva spent a full 20 months in French and American oak.

This Rioja has bright, fruit-forward red and black fruit flavors while remaining on the lighter side of medium-bodied. The oak aging helps give complexity to soften the fruitiness.  It has a nice easy finish with just a hint of spice.

In Rioja, "Reserva" truly has meaning and is certainly worth seeking out.  This is one of those. And, while many Rioja Reserva wines can go well above $20, this one is a great value. Look for this one. You will enjoy it!

Look for the red Rioja Reserva label to ensure authenticity.


Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

Sample provided by Rebekah Polster 401 West Communications and supplied by Vintae ( 


Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week


2015 Matsu "El Viejo" Tinta de Toro ($47)

I saved the best for last!  In previous Behind the Cork™ - Wine of the Week reviews I've featured Matsu's "El Picaro" and "El Recio" wines, both of which are very nice Tempranillos from the Toro region of Spain. But, "El Viejo" is Matsu's finest.

While Matsu pays homage to those who have worked in the vineyards with their real-life photos on the labels, "El Viejo" (meaning 'The old') is a reference to the vineyard where these grapes are grown. Matsu selects only the best grapes to make this wine from their very old vineyards of more than 100 years of age.

Along with only the best grapes from the vineyard, this wine is treated to 16 months in new French oak during aging. The result is wonderful. 

This full-bodied Tempranillo exhibits rich dark fruit flavors of fig, blackberry and raisin while the new French oak gives it a chocolatey flavor with a nice finish.

If you see "El Viejo" staring at you, be sure to pick it up and take it home. Enjoy!  It's a treat!

Disclosure of Wine Sample Submission: I received this wine at no cost for review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

Sample provided by Rebekah Polster 401 West Communications and supplied by Vintae ( 

Do You Know Limnio?

Limnio Grapes.jpg

I always enjoy it when someone asks me a wine question that I don't know the answer to. It gives me another opportunity to learn. So, when I was recently asked if I was familiar with Limnio (LIM-nee-oh) I said no and started to do some research.

Limnio is a grape that is indigenous to Greece. Apparently, it was originally from the Greek island of Lemnos and history seems to indicate that it's been around for more than 2000 years.

The Limnio grape produces a red wine that is still being made today. Although little or no Limnio is grown on the island of Lemnos, it is being grown in other parts of Greece.

When made as a varietal, it produces a dry red wine that is full-bodied and can be quite high in alcohol. It is also described as being very herbaceous.

But, it seems that Limnio is more commonly blended with other red wines, often Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache and Petite Sirah. My research even found purely Greek red blends that include Aghiorgitiko and Xynomavro with the Limnio (which gives me two more unique grapes to research!).

So, now that I know a bit about Limnio, I'm curious to try it.  I'll be on the lookout for the varietal or a blend. According to the person that asked me about it, the blend is quite good! Cheers!