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

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November 2017
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Cooking with Chef Dave at San Pasqual WinerySCORE:

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

Staglin Family VineyardSCORE:

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

2007 Dry Creek Vineyard Russian River Valley ChardonnaySCORE: 93


I really wasn’t in the mood to blog tonight, but when I opened and tasted the 2007 Dry Creek Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay I just had to sit down and pound out  a few paragraphs!

I must admit that I’m a RRV chardonnay honk, as I much prefer the characteristics that come out of this AVA’s best vineyards over her sometimes more heralded Napa and Carneros bretheren.  However, I’ve had more than my fair share of really bad RRV chards before too. Read More

Bonterra Winery, an Organic AdvocateSCORE:

Going green is now more hip than ever, but Bonterra Winery has long believed in organic practices.  In fact, their vineyards have been certified organic for more than 15 years. 

Their grapes are grown without the use of any artificial fertilizers or synthetic chemicals to build a living soil that encourages natural pest/predator balance. By fostering the health of the soil, Bonterra believes the plant will in turn be healthier and therefore produce better fruit for winemaking. Read More

2007 Bonterra Viognier, Organically GrownSCORE: 90

2007 Bonterra Viognier:

If the sensual texture isn’t enough to make you smile, the beautiful perfumed nose of orange blossom, apricot, and beeswax certainly will. A strong impression of stone minerality comes forward on the palate, making this wine act like a squeaky clean “old world” viognier.

Die-hard chardonnay fans typically find a bottle of viognier in front of them at some point and are amazed at how delicious they are.  Bonterra consistently produces a superb quality example, and an organic one to boot.  Read More

2006 Kenwood Zinfandel, Jack London VineyardSCORE: 92

2006 Kenwood Zinfandel, Jack London Vineyard:

Characteristic ripe and under-ripe red berry aromas come together with the subtle use of oak and seasoned with a hint of clove spice. Tannins and acids are slightly elevated, but in balance contributing to a fuller body style.

Zinfandel ranks only behind cabernet sauvignon among red varietal plantings in California, with single vineyard Sonoma zins among the most important.

Try with a honey glazed ham dotted with clove and be very, very happy.

14.5% alcohol, 92 points.

I’ve seen this wine a number of places, including BevMo and Costco, priced between $15-$20.

2007 Girard Chardonnay, Russian River ValleySCORE: 91

2007 Girard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley:

When chardonnay stays away from the heat of the Napa Valley it retains an entirely different character. Acidity, oak, and fruit harmonize into a beautiful example of why the Russian River Valley is arguably the most important region for this varietal in the United States. Read More

Big House Wine 2008SCORE: ??

Big House Red

Big House Red

So I just got through tasting and reviewing the three Big House wines that were sent to me by the distributor.  While writing my tasting notes a different thought process rolled through my head.  Let me explain…

A few years and beers ago my pal Dale, the bartender at Latitude 32 Grill and Pub in Pacific Beach, CA recanted a story from the previous night where a well dressed woman sashayed through the door of this neighborhood pub and asked to see the wine list.  Ever the clever lad Dale is, he went back to the office where he scribbled in large permanent marker three words on a coctail napkin.  “RED”, “WHITE”, “PINK”.  I don’t think she’s been back.

Read More

Daou Vineyards, Paso Robles, CASCORE:

After just two years business, brothers Daniel and Georges Daou might be on the cusp of producing what could be the first true cult wine out of the Paso Robles AVA.

Heady talk when you consider they have not yet produced, nor even harvested, their first estate crop. However, if past business success is any measure of future potential, these siblings with San Diego ties are going to wow wine enthusiasts for decades. Read More

Wine Style: Using Your Senses…SCORE:

Wine Style, by Mary Ewing-Mulligan and Ed McCarthy

Wine Style: Using Your Senses to Explore and Enjoy Wine, by Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan.  Wiley, John & Sons Inc. Publishing

Wine Style proposes the reader not look at wine by varietal or region, but instead by style. By doing so, the authors have simplified wine into four categories for red wines, four for whites and two each for rose and sparklers. Compare just these few categories against the massive wall of wine at your local retailer, and one can easily see the merits of this approach. Read More