“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” …. William A. Foster

Soft, watery, flat, without character, thin.

Zingy, zippy, mouthwatering, with typicity.

That is the obverse and the reverse of the wine coin.  Winemakers, we know, make wine.  And like coins, countless denominations are made across the globe.  But whereas governments can just continue minting non-precious metal coins (what choice do you have?), wineries are often pressured into responding to demands.  Varietals that have captivated the palate of the international marketplace are nudged into quenching the world’s thirst. But varietals are precious. There are no shortcuts to climate, soil composition, yields per acre/hectare.  Wineries not profitable in such a competitive marketplace don’t long remain in business. And the lure of profit is strong.  Sometimes, compromises in quality get made. And winemakers are given suggestions regarding the “facts of life.”  And those “facts” sometimes translate into overproduction.

If you’re of the age to remember the Merlot of California in the 80s and 90’s you’re of age also to remember Sideways (the movie released in October 2004) and what happened to the sale of Merlot afterwards.  It hasn’t happened yet with Pinot Grigio, but it looks to be in the beginning stage.  Too much Pinot Grigio I’ve tasted recently has been of the first type: soft, watery, flat, without character, thin.

I first wrote about Jermann (on my Facebook page) in July of 2018 when I paired it with a luncheon menu of Haddock steaks prepared with a lemon-caper sauce.  Tasting it again a month later, I was still impressed.  Hired to pour this (and other wines) at an event last week, I tasted it again.  Three times at bat. Three home runs. And my opinion was not unshared. The retailer’s stock of this wine was sold out an hour before the 4-hour event ended. That’s a considerable endorsement given the wine’s ARP of $23, higher than most PGs, but also an endorsement of the American consumer’s palate when many PGs are available and priced at under $15.  Let’s consider why that may be:

The winery’s estate vineyards are in Friuli Venezia Giulia in Italy’s north-easternmost region. This is the fifth smallest region in Italy, but despite its size, the region spans a wide variety of climates and landscapes.  From the mild-oceanic in the south to the Alpine-continental in the north.  The hilly area, just south of the mountains and along the central section enjoys a more temperate climate. However, even within this smaller area, there is considerable diversity of terrain.  Walled by the Alps on the north, the region is exposed to air masses from the east and west and from the southerly “Sirocco” blowing in from the Adriatic Sea and capable of bringing heavy rains.  The Jermann winery is tucked into the hills of Friuli Venezia Giulia below the Dolomites with two vineyards: (1) The Rutters Estate in the hilly Collio sub-region where vines are cooled by the Bora wind off the Adriatic Sea promoting grapes with perfume and zesty acidity due to diurnal temperature drops. Soil here is predominantly marlstone and sandstone belonging to the Flysch formation from the Eocene era that gave rise to a rocky substrate and later formed the characteristic “ponca” (marine fossils from the sea bottom brought to the surface by the same tectonic movement that created the Alps).  It is chalky and mineral rich.   (2) the Villanova Estate in the Isonzo sub-region where vines are grown in a permeable gravel, clay and sand soil and where the temperature is moderated by proximity to the sea and the lower Alps.  Clay in the soil here promotes body.

Too much body and the wine becomes too fleshy and flat – no zest!   Not enough body and the wine cracks from its own astringency; is thin and bony.       

Grapes are picked at dawn to preserve freshness and are partially vinified on the skins, then aged in stainless to maintain freshness and aromatics.  In the glass, it shows deep lemon-green.  Most people enjoy aromas of white peach, but (for me) it was lemon first, then fresh cut apple before the peach.  All of this carried onto the palate.  As the wine is allowed to warm, you’ll enjoy a faint suggestion of pineapple.  A curious vegetative note announces too, which I likened to lemongrass and enjoyed.

Of course, all impressions are personal and correct for those experiencing them.  I have to mention, a common one is pear. Others get green apple and a note of tangerine. One mentioned hazelnut; another banana.  But the most common is pear. Any impression is valid for the person experiencing it and if enough people experience the same impression, it’s sufficiently valid for me to mention it too.  But, personally, it’s the finish of this wine that is the “closer”.   Whatever impressions you’ll experience, this wine has concentration and a depth of flavor that is missing in many of the varietal’s companions today.  It offers a racy acidity balanced by fruit that carries throughout the tasting and into a finish I think long for a white wine.

I wrote previously about another Pinot Grigio that I found to offer excellent value in comparison to others within its price category and being priced lower than Jermann.  But if you’re willing to step up some in complexity, I think you’ll find the step up in price worth it.  Sometimes you get even more that what you pay for.

Maybe it’s because this area in Italy (like Alsace in France and other areas worldwide) is multi-cultural; the Friuli Venezia Giulia region being influenced by its history of Austrian, German and Slovenian winemakers.  How people impact the vines (tending & managing) is part of terroir also, as much as where the vines are grown (that part of terroir most people have come to accept).  In a pour into your glass of Jermann’s Pinot Grigio what you will recognize is its uniqueness – a character harder to describe than to appreciate.  One sip and you’ll recognize quality.

………….. Jim

Follow and like Wine Mizer on Facebook for mini-reviews, industry news and more. Follow winemizer on twitter. does not accept any advertisements, nor is it affiliated with any winery, vineyard, importer or distributor.  You may be assured that any opinions are not economically biased (though they may not be appropriate to your individual and unique palate).

Distributed by:                                    Lux
Varietal:                                               Pinot Grigio, 100%
TA:                                                      5.6 g/L
Ph:                                                       3.20
RS:                                                       4.0g/L
ALC:                                                    12.5%
James Suckling:                                   91
Robert Parker’s W.A.                           90
Wine Spectator:                                    90


“Too much of anything is bad. But too much Champagne is just right.” … F. Scott Fitzgerald

I enjoy Champagne. You might say I LOVE it.  But Champagne, by definition, is only made from the grapes of that region within France.  It excludes Crémant (also French).  It excludes Metodo Classico. It does not allow Cava.  Nor is Sparkling Wine allowed membership.  It is - that of Champagne which I crave - expensive and, so for me, not presently allowed as an everyday enjoyment. But to do without “tasting the stars” is inconceivable. 

Then again, some of the best French food is of the bistro sort.  And some of the most enjoyable French wines are those of the Loire.  “Relaxability”.  Casual but elevated.  And so comes Gerard Bertrand of the Languedoc-Roussillon in the south of France.  Blending Chardonnay (70%), Chenin Blanc (15%) and Pinot Noir (15%), with the first and last grapes mentioned being those used in Champagne and with the wine being twice fermented in the bottle (as in Champagne) but with an ARP of only $20, there are differences and differences both to be appreciated.

I’ve enjoyed other of Gerard Bertrand’s still wines before.  So did Thomas Jefferson who stocked his cellar with sparkling wines (Crémant) from the area (Limoux) in Southwest France.  In fact, Limoux was the first area in France to work with sparkling wine.  And it was Don Perignon who learned from the monks there at St Hilaire Abbey about making such wine.  It is that area in Southwest France, where the technique of making sparkling wines was first perfected.   

Of course, the climate is different in Southwest France than that of Champagne in Northeast France.  But Bertrand’s vineyards are maintained in the highest elevations of the area with cool nights assuring the cleansing acidity in the grapes that is so necessary for making quality bubbly.

All the tech aside however, always it comes to what is inside the bottle and I can tell you this.  My son and his significant other joined me for dinner.  I put together a simple meal plan, casual – but elevated. It began with an appetizer of slices of organic tomato, buffalo mozzarella, fresh leaves of basil and a reduction of balsamic di Modena.  Altogether, there were to be five courses and five wines.  I expected to put aside several bottles for enjoyment later. I was wrong.  The Gerard Bertrand “Thomas Jefferson” Crémant De Limoux Brut Rose remained on the table in a chiller and was quickly emptied.  That’s a strong endorsement – not just my opinion.

Casual, but elevated. And so quickly emptied.

Apparently, by unanimous agreement.

Salmon-pink in the glass, it produces fine bubbles and a delicate mousse. Its texture is rich and surprisingly creamy.  Aromas of red fruit (strawberry and raspberry) seduce. On the palate raspberry carries over from the nose. The strawberry is elevated with notes of cream.  Toasted bread from lees aging adds complexity.  But for people put off by Champagne with pronounced notes of yeast (brioche etc.), this is not that. Casual, but elevated, the wine’s components work in synergy and balance; each element contributing unobtrusively toward a whole that is pleasing.  Citrus is joined with floral notes.  Fruit is evident and creamy, but the wine has spot-on acidity rendering a crisp finish that lasts. 

Against the creamy soft Buffalo Mozzarella, the wine matched in texture while also serving to cleanse the palate of that richness.  Dinner aside, it’s great to enjoy by itself.  Chocolate dipped raspberries would be fun. Brie cheese a natural. Ham croquettes, prosciutto, smoked salmon, sushi, mushrooms stuffed with crab, devilled eggs finished off with caviar, pates, tapenade, salad Nicoise. The acidity of a Rose Crémant makes it naturally food friendly. Gerard Bertrand makes it affordable.    

................. Jim

Follow and like Wine Mizer on Facebook for mini-reviews, industry news and more. Follow winemizer on twitter. does not accept any advertisements, nor is it affiliated with any winery, vineyard, importer or distributor.  You may be assured that any opinions are not economically biased (though they may not be appropriate to your individual and unique palate).

NOTE: The monks of St. Hilaire discovered the first “wine with bubbles” in 1531. The vineyards used in making Gerard Bertrand’s Thomas Jefferson Rose are on the foothills of the Pyrenees where the grapes benefit from cool conditions.  Wine is blended together and then transferred to barrel for 8 months.  Imported by Wine West, LLC (Sausalito, CA).  ALC:12.5%


Wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy!” … Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin: A Founding Father of the U.S., inventor of the lightening rod, swim fins, bifocals, the glass harmonica and many other things was also a prolific writer. He co-owned a newspaper and had been a member of the “Committee of Five” that drafted the Declaration of Independence.  He authored, under a pseudonym, “Poor Richard’s Almanack” in 1739 and the book sold 10,000 copies yearly through 1758.  Napoleon thought so well of it that he translated it into Italian.  Later, it was translated into French and then Slovene, making it truly an international best seller. Mostly, the book consisted of sage advice, jokes, puzzles, household hints and even hoaxes.  It was entertainment mixed with common sense.    

I like to think wise Ben had common sense in mind when he wrote that statement regarding wine being constant proof of God’s love.  Was it not so, how then to explain why so many varietals were created?  My latest experience in this regard was with POSIP, a grape indigenous to Croatia and used in making white wine.  In body, it reminds me of a Marsanne-Roussanne blend, but its aromas and tastes are different.   

Medium lemon-green in the glass, its aromas are mild with an impression of undiscerned acidity – lemon?  This is softened with additional, but faint notes of lychee and tropical fruit. Together, these work to peak your curiosity unless you’re committed to drinking only international varietals and being content with eating the same thing for dinner every night.  The palate offers lemon, but more as lemon-cream.   There’s a note of hay and a hint of almond.  Allow a sip to warm in the mouth and grapefruit develops.  Others get green apple.  A see-saw of contrasts keep the experience entertaining.

The most recognized area for growing this grape in Croatia is in the Dalmatian region, on the Southern island of Korcula. Croatia is east and just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy and its history of viniculture goes back more than 2,500 years.  But suffering the destruction of war, many vineyards were destroyed. And under communism, wine making became state run and yield (not quality) was the yardstick. Then too, almost all the wine was consumed locally.  Today, tourists are amazed at the quality of wine being made in their family’s home land.  Adapting European Union standards, modernizing equipment, free to run and profit from family ownership, Croatia is making world class wine though still not recognized as it should.  Consider that in the 4th edition of The Oxford Companion to Wine, Posip is given all the attention of one sentence.

There are currently over 300 geographically defined wine regions, and a strict classification system to ensure quality and origin in Croatia.  But Croatia ranks 30th in wine production by country and much of Croatia’s product is still consumed locally.  And like other Eastern European countries, its language can be challenging for people unaccustomed to seeing a row of consonants strung together along with the use of umlauts and other special characters.

Still, you may be more familiar with some wine from Croatia than what you realize.  Zinfandel, that grape so enjoyed from California that we assumed came from Italy as Primitivo because the Italian Immigrants brought it to that coast in the 1880s – guess what?  Later testing (1994-1998) conducted by Dr. Carol Meredith (a professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis) identified it as Crljenak Kastelanski (I left off a special character above the “a” in the second word). The grape is also known in Croatia as Tribidrag, I’ll assume because it’s easier to for rubes like me pronounce.

Back in 1959, Mike (Miljenko) Grgich now of Grgich Hills Estates in Rutherford California (who produced the award-winning wine Chateau Montelena Chardonnay) for the Judgement of Paris in 1976 thought that Zinfandel and Plavac Mali of Croatia were identical.  He was from Croatia and remembered working with those vines. In 1990, he returned to Croatia, looked again at the vines and reassured himself that “Zinfandel” was not the American grape of barbecue fame, but a treasure from Croatia.  Of course, no one believed him.  In 1994 he returned, bringing whole clusters, leaves and canes to compare.  In 1998, he and Dr. Meredith got together; Dr. Meredith went to Croatia herself and returned with cuttings of 150 plants.  It was discovered that Zinfandel and Plavac Mali were not the same plant.  But Mike was close.  Plavac Mali was an offspring of Tribidrag and “Dobricic”).  A connection was established, but until 1998 when near the port town of Split on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, nine Tribidrag vines were found which DNA testing determined to be a 100% genetic match to Zinfandel. 

As it turns out, Zinfandel was not Plavac Mali but it was indigenous to Croatia and itself a child of Tribidrag.  Subsequent historical research has shown that Croatian Zinfandel, a.k.a. Tribidrag was planted as far back as the 15th century.  What the Italians call Primitivo is also Zinfandel, having originated from the Croatian Tribidrag and imported to Italy some 200-300 years ago. 

We began with Posip and that developed into Plavac Mali.  Croatia produces some international varietals, but the most fun can be had with indigenous grapes of which they have many.  For Posip, consider PZ  Posip Cara. Mike Grgich has opened his own winery in Croatia (making both Posip and Plavac Mali). Consider his offerings.  Korta Katarina winery, Intrada Krajancic Winery, Sain-Marelic Winery (lots of special characters missing in my spelling) and Kunjas Winery all make delicious Posip.

Plavac Mali (like Zinfandel) is a red wine as is Dobricic (a parent of Plavac Mali).  None of these wines will be alien in character.  In fact, as with Tribidrag (a.k.a. Zinfandel), you’re likely already familiar with the variety. And as with any wine, you may favor one producer over another. No, your largest challenge may be in tracking down an outlet for these wines.  Ethnic stores or on-line are likely the best route.   But for me, the route less travelled has made all the difference.

Wise man, that Ben who seemed to appreciate the gift of different grapes.  Be like Ben!

……………… Jim

Follow and like Wine Mizer on Facebook for mini-reviews, industry news and more. Follow winemizer on twitter. does not accept any advertisements, nor is it affiliated with any winery, vineyard, importer or distributor.  You may be assured that any opinions are not economically biased (though they may not be appropriate to your individual and unique palate).


“There is truth in wine, but you never see it listed in the ingredients on the label” — Josh Stern

I’ll get to that quote later. For now, let’s talk about the wine. More specifically, let’s talk about the winery, Kendal Jackson / Jackson Estates and the wine: their Alisos Hills Syrah.  The estate is grand: near the vineyards are rows of walnut trees and areas in which organic produce is grown and used in preparing dishes made in their kitchen.  

Sitting outside under a patio umbrella and enjoying a glass while also enjoying the view is a joy anyone experiencing will want to experience again. Problem is most of us don’t visit vineyards. We don’t tour wineries. Problem is, Kendall Jackson, as a brand, is so available it’s become commonplace in our minds and, in the process, devalued.  We want something different, something exotic or assumed to be expensive - especially when entertaining - perhaps to impress?  And perhaps it’s true that “success breeds contempt.”  Yet the brand being as successful as it is speaks to the fact that lots of people are buying it.  So is it an issue of image regarding how we project ourselves when discussing the wines we admit to drinking?  Gee, you’d think 1976 would have erased all that nonsense.  Quality has always been about what’s inside the bottle; not the front label on it.

I’m proposing that we remove that veil of snobbery that we wear in public and let the truth of the marketplace’s private reality be admitted.  This is some delicious wine.  And that it’s commonly available and at budget friendly prices should be celebrated, not secreted.  

One of the Walnut Trees
The "Mizer" with Chef Matthew on the
patio in Oct. 2014

Syrah is noted for being high in tannins and low in acidity.  But with site selection, blending and meticulous vinification by Kendall-Jackson (and six years from vintage), I found the tannins silky and with sufficient acidity to make the wine food friendly and its pairing versatile.  In cool months, it begs for beef stew or braised beef.  Great with lamb and Osso Bucco, it can also be casually enjoyed with sausage and barbecue or grilled steaks.  Enjoy it with smoky blue cheese melted on a hamburger, or alone against an English styled Cheddar.

Inky purple in the glass, the wine gifts aromas that (for me) are strong with blueberry and black plum, then blackberry and cola with spicy hints. Complexity, I find, starts in vineyard selection.  And while the wine is 100% Syrah, grapes are selected from special blocks
Alisos in the Glass
within two of their many estate vineyards: (1) In the upper Southeast corner and a separate Southwest facing bench of the Barham vineyard having mixed soil of clay, sandy loam and gravel.  Clay brings density and structure to the grapes.  The lightness balancing this is from the very sandy soil of (2) the upper Northeast beach corner of the Neely Vineyard. These cool coastal vineyards of Santa Barbara are dotted with warmer blocks that hold heat better than others – ideal for Syrah.  Alisos Hills is a blend of those special blocks.  Grapes from these two vineyards grow at elevations of 700 to 1100 feet from “mountain” tops, ridges, hillsides and raised bench land.

Syrah is noted for being high in tannins and low in acidity.  But with site selection, blending and meticulous vinification by Kendall-Jackson (and six years from vintage), I found the tannins silky and with sufficient acidity to make the wine food friendly and its pairing versatile.  In cool months, it begs for beef stew or braised beef.  Great with lamb and Osso Bucco, it can also be casually enjoyed with sausage and barbeque or grilled steaks.  Enjoy it with smoky blue cheese melted on a hamburger, or alone against an English styled Cheddar.
Loin Lamb Chops, Baby Broccoli,
Fresh Herbs and Alisos

Just as good with Split Peas soup with
diced bits of smoked Ham Shanks
On the palate, the wine is smooth and luscious and super “malo-mellow”. Medium plus bodied but rich and palate coating enough to be considered full. Black cherry, vanilla, dark chocolate; hints of blackberry and currant and baking spice and herb notes.  Dry, but fruit rich, yet restrained and in balance, its only threat is its roundness and easy drinking quality which makes it too easy to enjoy.    

And finally, to that quote:  As only one among a very few wineries, Kendall-Jackson makes a practice of providing information about each wine on its back label. Imagine!  No stories about why a wine is named after a neighbor’s pet bird or other similar nonsense.  Useful information. Respectful of the process, as we should be of this wine.
The Back Label of their Los Robles
Pinot Noir

…………….. Jim

Back Label of 2013 Alisos

Follow and like Wine Mizer on Facebook for mini-reviews, industry news and more. does not accept any advertisements, nor is it affiliated with any winery, vineyard, importer or distributor.  You may be assured that any opinions are not economically biased (though they may not be appropriate to your individual and unique palate).

Kendall-Jackson Vineyard Estates       
Varietal:                                                          Syrah, 100%
Vintage:                                                          2013
Source:                                                            Los Alamos, Santa Barbara County
Appellation:                                                    Santa Barbara County
Vineyards:                                                       Barham and Neely
Elevation:                                                        700-1100 Feet
Aging:                                                             13 Months, 88% French Oak (34%) New 1
ALC:                                                               14.5%
TA:                                                                   0.57 g/100ml
pH:                                                                   3.75
ARP:                                                                $37.00 U.S.
Current Vintage:                                              2019
   1  Changes are made as needed for vintage. 2016, for example, was 11 Months, 100% French and 28% new.

Note:   This wine was previously labeled as “Highland Estates.”  Names are changed to confuse the                innocent,


“Some people have such good taste they can’t enjoy anything.” … Marty Rubin

As a person reaches a certain age and prepares to write the final chapters of his life’s story, certain deeply meaningful, philosophical questions remain not only unanswered but ever more troublesome -- such as: “Why does a blowing fan attract dust instead of blowing the dust away?”  (I found the answer to that one). But here’s one that lingers: “Does a winery’s success breed contempt or are people just not being honest”?

Take your pick from any of the large wineries whose presence is well established in grocery stores. Today, I’ll be “picking” on Francis Ford Coppola: a wine theme-park offering tours but also lodging, bocce courts, swimming pool, cabanas, an outdoor stage and restaurants on-site in the Geyserville, Sonoma winery grounds where I visited. Lots of movie memorabilia (including the car used in the making of “Tucker” and items from “Godfather”) in another building so large it has an elevator. Pasta & expresso machine, oh my! There’s so much going on, one wonders if there’s any room for the wine (there is).  But go online and look for critics’ reviews of Coppola’s “Diamond Collection” wines and you won’t find much.  The glitterati of wine writers have little to say about this price series.  With some exceptions, wine bloggers also seemingly avoid such less expensive labels.   

Is it that the winery, being so well established, has become too common a name for people to spend time writing about it, or is it disdain for the brand’s association being a “grocery store” wine?  The reality supports neither but also doesn’t explain it.  As with other California wineries, Coppola is somewhat of a “winery within a winery.”  And, as with those other wineries, Coppola makes world-class, highly rated wine but in limited production and available only at the winery, or at fine restaurants or to club members. You may come across a review of Coppola’s “Archimedes” ($120) or “Eleanor” ($80) – neither of which you will find in grocery stores. Both these wines are incredible.  And though they score well (my opinion) in the value to price category, they’re pricey enough to be removed from the “everyday drinking” category (at least for me). 

It was while pouring wine at retail events that I came across Coppola’s “Diamond Collection” series:Twelve wines, none single vineyard, all priced for everyday consumption and all with the simple California appellation. For some, that’s another issue – no AVA, no sub-AVA, not all the grapes being from a south facing slope on a particular hillside at a particular elevation.  But as with Champagne and some scotch for example, blending is an art too.  An art that allows the artist to knit together a sum greater than its parts. 

Coppola’s Syrah-Shiraz (different names for the same grape) is that. And with an average retail price of $14 (U.S.), it’s even more than that.  A blend of 99% Syrah and 1% Petite Sirah (percentages may change with vintages), people note aromas of wild berries and pomegranate spiced with a hint of tobacco leaf.  Others note plum and clove, mocha and toasted oak.  For me, it was deep rich fruit with raspberry and blueberry preserves being dominant and enticing. On the palate, dark cherry in a silky-smooth wine with very subdued tannins and well managed alcohol that generates no “heat” on the palate.  Sweet vanilla balances bittersweet chocolate. Some plum carries onto the palate from the wine’s aroma.  Other tasters note some smoky bacon and fig and cassis and caramel.  Some note white pepper, others black pepper.  I note that we can complicate things, but – in order to do so – the wine must be good to start with.

The wine is medium bodied and if there is any potential drawback to it, it is that it so easy drinking and enjoyable. Definitely “new world,” it is fruit forward, but not jammy.   Though some tasters commented on “earthy notes,” I found them subtle and without mushroom.  Not that such are bad things. Most of my cellar is “old world” and ageable.   This is wine that knows its market and is simply and unapologetically delicious, easy to enjoy and in good balance.

A Magnum! Who says
the best things
come in small
A benefit that comes attached to such “wineries within wineries” that also make “grocery store” wines is that the same skill and concern that goes into making their top priced labels goes into those labels also (in this case, the “Diamond Collection”).  In fact, such is a common practice in Bordeaux, though the Chateau name may be different enough to be confusing.  In the U.S., wineries may do the same by using the number #2 preceded by the first letter of the first name of the winery or they may use a play on the name of their winery along with a related image.

Although some varietals included in Coppola’s “Diamond Collection” series have been rated highly or have won GOLD at various San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competitions, the series itself doesn’t get the attention it deserves.  Maybe it’s that “grocery store” thing.  Maybe it’s low price doesn’t build the wine’s cachet among the glitterati. Maybe there’s more to Rubin’s quote that I realized.  I’ve tasted several varietals among the “Diamond Collection” series with the Syrah-Shiraz being the most recent.  (They are not all at the same price point as the Syrah-Shiraz, though all are inexpensive).   And should someone make a disparaging comment when you offer them a glass of this “grocery store” wine, don’t reply in kind. Be kind: pour them a taste.

………………. Jim

Follow and like Wine Mizer on Facebook for mini-reviews, industry news and more. does not accept any advertisements, nor is it affiliated with any winery, vineyard, importer or distributor.  You may be assured that any opinions are not economically biased (though they may not be appropriate to your individual and unique palate).


Francis Ford Coppola Winery     
300 Via Archimedes,
Geyserville, CA 95441
(707) 857-1471

Blend:                                                   99% Syrah 1% Petite Syrah, Generally from Paso Robles
                                                              and Monterey.
Appellation:                                          California
Aging:                                                   French oak, 12 Months
ALC:                                                     13.5%
TA:                                                        .64g/100 ML
pH:                                                         3.62

Included in the 12 shown on Coppola’s web site for the “Diamond Collection” are Claret, Pavilion (a Chardonnay), Oregon Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay (not the Pavilion), Red Blend, Malbec, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir (not the Oregon), Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and the Syrah-Shiraz.




“Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy!” …. Benjamin Franklin

Two words: Kabaj (the producer) and Rebula (the grape) both from Slovenia.  The grape is better known elsewhere as Ribolla Gialla.  So, excepting when “Rebula” (Re-bohla) refers to the brand name on the label of the wine produced by Kabaj (Ka-bye), the grape will be identified here as Ribolla (and I’ll assume you’ll remember the Gialla part).

Regarding Slovenia, it abuts Italy on the north and eastern side of the Adriatic Sea. The grape originated in Greece and came to Slovenia (where it is known as Rebula) through Italy.  Ribolla is grown in Rosazzo and in Oslavia within Italy’s Friuli.  But even more (much more) is grown on the eastern side of the border in Slovenia within the areas of Vipava and Goriska Brda. Kabaj’s vineyards are in Goriska Brda, 15 miles from the Adriatic and on the foothills of the Alps.  Throughout Slovenia, Rebula is known as “The Queen of Brda” where the vines thrive in the slate and sandstone soil of the hilly, sun-enriched terrain where the remains of an ancient seabed enriched the soil with marl and flysch.  

Medieval records dating back to 1256 mention that Rebula had already been planted in Goriska Brda’s vineyards.  Later, under Soviet rule in the late 1940s, profitable family enterprise was not encouraged and vineyards had little motivation to modernize having become state run.  Slovenia gained independence in 1991. Indigenous grapes were replanted. But by then, Italy, just to the west, and many other countries both in the “old” and “new” worlds had long established a solid foothold in the global marketplace.  Wines from eastern Europe remained and remain today largely unfamiliar in the U.S.

Too bad. Because “Rebula” from Kabaj is such a versatile wine and so tasty.  It’s a white wine. And it is made with extended skin contact so you’ll find some that refer to it as an “orange” wine.  Ignore that. While I enjoy orange wine, most U.S. consumers do not.  It’s only within the last few years, after all, that we’ve come to gleefully quaff Rose in significant numbers. The extended skin contact (30 days) that Jean-Michel Morel employs in making Rebula presents a wine resulting more in texture than in color.  And despite the extended skin contact, this wine retains a freshness and lively acidity and offers a cleansing finish.
A Tasting of Different Vintages of Kabaj's Rebula

In the glass, it shows deep gold (think oaked Chardonnay).  Aromas of lychee, stewed apricot and orange pith dominate - accompanied by hints of straw, soy sauce and petrol. On the palate, expect a mélange of lemon and passion fruit with notes of saffron and unsweet peach. The wine is weighty: medium plus, again like an oaked Chardonnay.  But aging is in neutral wood (not new oak) so the fruit remains fresh and lively.  By all means, chill the wine, but I recommend that you allow it to warm some outside the refrigerator before serving (yet again – like an oaked Chardonnay). Doing this will introduce even more taste-treats particularly on the finish.  I enjoyed a compote of banana, black olive, clove and the slightest suggestion of mint on the end taste.  Other tasters note juicy pineapple, honeycomb, roasted hazelnuts, vanilla, chai tea and anise.  All palates are personal and correct for the person owning it.  Suffice to say, this is a complex wine.  
Versatile? Yes!  The Textured Body of Kabaj's Rebula
Pairs Well Against The Ranch Style Dip on
this Simple Crudites Platter.
Grilled Shrimp (Sometimes With Diced Ham, But Here
With Peruvian Peppers). Rebula Was a Perfect Pairing.
For good reason.  Bordeaux trained oenologist Jean-Michel Morel, after spending time also in cellars in Languedoc and Collio Italy, married Katja Kabaj of the Kabaj estate in Slovenia. And thus was blended a mix of French and Italian sensibilities into Slovenian vineyards that had withstood the test of time and had been producing quality wine for generations.  With his fondness of working with amphorae, Jean-Michel demonstrated that his agenda in Slovenia was simply to make the best wine possible.  Ribolla (Gialla) had been successful in Italy and Rebula was considered to be its ancestor.   

There are so many grapes that are not classified as “noble” or considered “international.”  The former seems to be those dictated by governing authorities as authorized for use in the making of wine from particular appellations. The latter applies to wine grapes grown worldwide; having benefited from marketing and winning popularity contests. In a which came first “chicken or the egg” fashion, was it the marketing that created the grapes popularity or the fact that the grape could be grown in so many areas that created its popularity?

Ribolla/Rebula is not an international grape, but for me has made a wine that is indeed “noble” in the glass.  And with so many indigenous grapes just wanting to become vinified, why limit your enjoyment and learning experiences to only those “international”?  Ben would be ashamed.

na zdravje!
Chicken Cordon Bleu and Couscos Prepared
in Chicken Stock With a Drizzle of Maple
Syrup and Finished in Threads of Saffron.
Kabaj's Rebula: Food Friendly & Versatile.

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A Different Producer's Rebula From Slovenia.
As You Can See From Its Color, This One Is

Country:                                 Slovenia
Appellation:                           Goriska Brda
Vineyards:                              Belo-Vhr & Neblo-Vhr
Altitude:                                 500-820 ft.
Slope:                                     South
Soil:                                        Sandstone, Slate, Marl, Flysch           
Climate:                                  Sub-Mediterranean
Varietal:                                  Rebula, 100%
Age of Vines:                         40 Years
Farming:                                 Sustainable
Harvest:                                  By Hand, End of September
Fermentation/Aging:              With Wild (Native) Yeast
In 2400 Liter Neutral Oak, 30 Days Skin Contact, Followed
By Malolactic in Barrel and 12 Months Aging old Barrique and
4 Months in Bottle.
ALC:                                       12.5%
RS:                                          2.1 g/L
Acidity:                                   5.54 g/L
Imported by:                           TerraneoMerchants
ARP:                                       $22. (U.S.)
Ageing Potential:                    7-10 Years (Varies by Conditions)      
James Suckling:                       92
Wine & Spirits                         93
Wine Enthusiast:                     89
“Rebula” literally means “re-cooking,” a reference to the grape’s natural tendency to participate in secondary (malolactic) fermentation and contributing to the wine’s creaminess with a rounded mouthfeel.  In malolactic fermentation, which can be induced or just naturally allowed, tart malic acid is converted into softer tasting lactic acid.