The online home of Mark “The Cork Head” Stuart, Certified Wine Professional, speaker/educator, judge, and columnist.

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January 2018
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2008 La Follette Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot Noir

Words such as complex, concentrated, and elegant are thrown about in the wine world like balls in a McDonald’s play pen enclosure.

Well, I’m here to tell you that no 3 words could be more accurate than when applied to the 2008 La Follette Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot Noir.  A wine that is nothing short of magnificent.  Read More

World Wine Challenge CD-ROM

world wine challengeCD-ROM author Barry Wiss, CWE, is a leader in the Society of Wine Educators, Vice President of Communications and Trade Relations at Trinchero Family Winery, and helped write The Napa Valley Intensive course for The Culinary Institute of America. Yup…he’s qualified.

Basically it is a question and answer game.  If you get the question correct, you move on to another random corner of the wine world.  If you are incorrect, it spells out why.  Multiple players may participate or one can study on their own. Read More

Best Wine with Thanksgiving Dinner

2007 Bonterra Viognier Mendocino County

2007 Bonterra Viognier Mendocino County

When I think of Thanksgiving dishes, I think quantity, variety, and aromatics.  Choosing a wine that matches these traits while offering up a little contrast to make things interesting is often the best choice for such a complex meal.  But how does one find a wine that works with turkey, creamed corn, and green bean casserole all at the same time?

Quantity:  Lots of food, lots of guests, and a long time at the table.  The wine should be lower than average in alcohol…I mean yeah…we’ll be watching football and having fun all day, right?  But, lower alcohol shouldn’t mean it doesn’t have the body style necessary to stand up to all the cream and gravy.  For contrast, the wine should have a little zing of acidity to cut through our close friend’s delectable sausage stuffing.

Variety:   This wine should be complex.  With a dozen different dishes, and some strong ones at that, the wine should bring lots of different aromas and flavorsto the table.

Aromatics:  Thanksgiving is the most aromatic of traditional American meals so it stands to reason we’ll need something with a high degree of aromatics so the food does not diminish its partner.

The winner? 2007 Bonterra Viognier, Mendocino County.

This cool climate wine has under 14% alcohol, offers both floral and fruit aromatics, and has a medium-full and creamy mouth feel.  Without question it is consistently year in and year out one of the great values in viognier, and it is widely available around the country for around $15.  Did I mention it is also Certified Organic?

Remember, its not what is in your glass, but who you share it with.

And, if you use this coupon, you’ll get a discount of $5 of any $75 purchase too!

Most Exciting Wine Find of the Summer

Solis Wine Bottle

2009 Solis Winery Fiano Estate

So I can’t say I was angry, but I will say I was disappointed. The wine was nothing short of superb, but my fellow panelists simply didn’t get it.

To set the stage, the “other” whites category at large wine competitions are, shall we say, is The Land of the Misfit Toys. If you’ve never tasted these sorts of wines, well, generally you aren’t missing much. Often times they are comprised of the end-lots of what didn’t make the cut of better quality wines, all mixed up, given a fancy name and sold over the counter at tasting rooms. A winery marketing director will pay a small fee to enter the obscure blend into the competition hoping it will get some recognition to help sell the inventory which would otherwise be flushed. Read More

Cooking with Chef Dave at San Pasqual Winery

Chef Dave PitmasterSan Diego’s own San Pasqual Winery is hosting it’s inaugural food and wine class called “A Perfect Pairing: Cooking with Chef Dave at San Pasqual Winery“. The class focuses on the basics of BBQ and the sharing of championship BBQ pitmaster secrets.

Taught by San Diego’s own award winning BBQ Pitmaster Dave Vindiola from Smokealicious BBQ and, the class offers a great introduction to the entire BBQ process.  The August 7th event will cover everything from types of wood and fire, how smoke and spice work together, selecting the proper cuts of meat, as well as prepping, and of course cooking. Read More

Two for One Wine Classes

Buy one wine class, get the 2nd one free!

I’ve proclaimed 2010 as “The Year of Happiness”.

Heck, local real estate prices have been on the rise for 8 consecutive months and the stock market has risen nearly 37% over the last year. We certainly have not seen that in a while!

Now is the time to treat yourself (or your Mom!) to something special, and I’m here to offer my own little incentive to do so.  Keep this email as a “Buy one super fun entertaining and informative wine class, get one super fun entertaining and informative wine class free” coupon.* Read More

The Magic of Sparkling Wine

Accidents can sometimes result in glorious revelations. The evolution of sparkling wine is certainly a delicious example.

Centuries ago, temperature controlled environments in which to produce wines were not available. The now famous wine destination of Champagne, located about an hour-an-a-half drive north and east of Paris, experiences very cool fall and winter temperatures. Cold enough to slow down and eventually halt the fermentation process of the wines being produced. Early winemakers would see that fermentation had stopped and therefore bottled what they had Read More

Staglin Family Vineyard

Staglin Estate Cab LabelI often tell my clients, and anyone who will listen really, that I’m all about finding quality wine for the price–no matter the price.  Basically what I’m talking about is getting a good bang for your buck.

Typically this strategy finds me scouring competition results for under priced stars and other moderately priced choices.  However that doesn’t mean I won’t recommend bottles from the upper end of the market when warranted.  

The 2006 Staglin Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is warranted indeed.   Read More

Fallbrook Winery Shines at Wine Competition

SDIWCcolorlogo  The 2010 San Diego International Wine Competition was held over the weekend where over 30 judges from around the United States tasted through nearly 2,000 total entries and awarded medals to hundreds of wines.

North San Diego County’s Fallbrook Winery showed up prominently in the final tally. Read More

The “Stupidest” Lawsuit of the Year

I just couldn’t leave this one alone.

The “iconic” Lindsay Lohan is suing E*TRADE because one of the babies they use in their commercials shares her same first name.  Yep, for real!

I guess I didn’t know that Lohan now owns the rights to that particular name.  Maybe parents should be paying her royalties every time the legion of American Lindsays write their name on term papers, create a YouTube or Facebook account, or even-dare I say-get a job as a radio or television personality. Read More