By Rick Riozza

One would have thought that during all this quarantining, I would have gone through all of the wines and booze that accumulates on my desk for tasting and review in preparing for the Vino Voice columns.

Well—I haven’t! And that’s good news because me and my household staff get to taste and consider—and taste and consider again, as much as we can to report the gustatory news to you in live time. And not that I keep a great filing system, but all of the stuff that did come in this past crazy year—I’ve put into its own bin titled “That was the year that was!”

So I’m going to do this in a shotgun-type approach: highlighting wines and booze that remain to be tasted from this year’s collection in this crazy pandemic year. In the coming weeks, I look forward to focusing more on the attributes of some of these world class wines we mention below—but for now, this is what we’ve just uncorked—cheers!


This past month I had the great opportunity sit through a virtual Zoom winemakers tasting—officially becoming my last Zoom tasting taken in the year 2020. And stars of the show were the Post & Beam’s very first release of their 2019 Chardonnay Napa Valley ($39) tropical aromas with fresh citrus flavors & stoney notes; and the 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($50), this Cab tastes like Napa through & through.

The real news here is that the winemakers of Far Niente, Nickel & Nickle, En Route, Bella Union, and Dolce, have merged their talents to put on a new line-up of Napa Valley wines that approach the younger and millennial group of wine lovers who don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for world class wine.

Our Coachella Valley is crowded with savvy wine enthusiasts, connoisseurs, and retired rich folk who readily collect and enjoy many of the stunning wines by the Far Niente Family of Wineries mentioned above. It was fun to virtually meet Far Niente’s Director of Winemaking, Andrew Delos, and Winemaker Micheal Accurso. They’ve put together historically great wines in the history of vino California.

The latest PR for the new Post & Beam brand reads: “Named for the simple yet elegant barns that dot the American landscape, Post & Beam represents craftsmanship, tradition, legacy and varietal purity in winemaking. These wines are meant to offer drinkers a new entry point into the Far Niente Family of Wineries without sacrificing the trademark craftsmanship and quality they have become known for. The winery will offer renditions of classic Napa Valley wines that provide drinkers with reliable quality and consistency glass after glass.”

I don’t wish to spoil a “working title” that I’m considering for an up-coming article, but some ideas would be, “How Do You Say “Rothschild” in Spanish?” Something like that would be a lead in on one of the new international wine scenes to report on: Escudo Rojo is the name of the new Chilean wine endeavor that is produced by the world-famous Baron Philippe De Rothschild.

Like it or not, the country of Chile is a true wine growing paradise. (I write this because so many wine lovers don’t warm up to these wines!) The richness of its soils and the variety of the climates there give rise to an extraordinary diversity of terroirs. Since its creation in the historical heart of the Chilean vineyards of Maipo Valley in 1999, the stellar winemaking talents of Rothschild are now producing world class wines.

As mentioned earlier, I’ve done a few virtual live winemaker tastings, where I enjoy the wines on this side of the computer and the winemakers joins in on the other side. However, for this Escudo Rojo, the esteemed French oenologist Emmauel Riffaud has taken my inquiries by way of email—I don’t mind, I’m old-school as well. But with the holidays and all, I’ve yet to hear from him. So we’ll write this great story up sometime soon.

But as a teaser, I’ve tasted through two Escudo Rojo wines: the Reserva 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon ($18) and Gran Reserva 2018 Red Blend ($19) Wine critic James Suckling loves this wine and gave it 93 points. I loved it as well; fresh dark cherries, berries, and ripe plums—lively tannins as well.

The Gran Reserva is a blend of Cabernet Sauv, Carmenère, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot; a vivid red with hints of blackcurrants, sweet tobacco and nutmeg on the nose, full body and polished tannins with great texture & drive.

As you can see, these are crazy prices for Rothschild wines. Why not warm up to them this winter.

I am so pleased to see the next following bottles standing tall for tasting & enjoying. But there’s no way to do these justice so I just mention them and we’ll get more in depth later.

There are beaucoup Malbec lovers in town who often have to settle for the usual suspects. The low price Trapiche is one of them; but their special vineyard Malbecs are world class. If you can grab one, get the Trapiche Terroir Series Finca Coletto 2017

($45) Alert: you’ll spoil your tongue.

For you Barolo, Barbersco & Nebbiolo fans, the 2015 Torraccia del Piantavigna Gattinara ($45) is the new year treat for your hearty Italian dining. We didn’t make it to Italy this year—but the wine’s memory sensations will help the cause!

“Make the ordinary extraordinary” with award winning Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin ($37) Named after where it is made (Drumshanbo) as well as the main ingredient (Gunpowder Tea), this Gin is truly an experience not to be missed. Delightfully fresh and rounded up front with citrus & spice, followed by juniper, Gunpowder Tea, meadowsweet & coriander. Do a “Gunpowder Shot” —pour the gin into a glass of ample ice, drop in a couple of pickled onions and take it down with medium speed—delish! See you next year! Cheers!