Wine Spectator Tasting with Bruce Sanderson

Photos from my Wine Spectator Inglenook & 2012 Alex Gambal‘s Montrachets

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Why Follow WineClubMiami via the Blog and Instagram?

Many wine writers will often direct you on the path they traveled.  We spend the time to listen to everyone’s experience and paths’ to conclude what we would consider the best route.

Wine Club Miami is a group of wine lovers that try all types of wine to educate you with.  Each member of the team has their preferences.   I think we all can agree that Mr. James Suckling will never leave Europe.

When we try a wine we beginning by pooling our thoughts and feelings.  Then by combining our personal experiences we all agree amonst the group.  We sometimes agree to disagree but we do take that experience into consideration for our blog.

What is the wine telling you?  Unless you drink often enough and experiment, you can not create a conversation with the wine.  However we often do.  We try not to lead you into what Andrew C. or David Y. may think, but rather to what WineClubMiami says.

We stand by our tastings!  Most importantly, we spend this time to prepare you for your tastings.

Please follow us on Instagram too at WINECLUBMIAMI.





June ’15 – Argentina’s Fine Malbec Vertical “Achaval Ferrer”

June is when Miami locals begin to thin their blood.  We prepare ourself to embrace the scorching heat that is about to come in the summer. And we do this by drinking wine. We truly don’t care about the color but as long as it is therapeutic.

Wineclubmiami was hosted at Matt J’s home. This was my second time far out from South Beach and Downtown Miami, but the scenic route through what trumps a Miami Vice movie is what make Miami. The landscaping to Matt’s home was amazing lush and unique.  The other ten thousand plus s.f. homes made it memorable.

Once we walk in, Jeff immeidately poured juice into our glasses (BYOG – Bring your own glasses). We sneak a peak at the label and read “Kosta Browne”.20150617_201916

Bottle #1 – ’13 Kosta Browne, One Sixteen, Russian River Valley, Chardonnay –The wine was a bright gold. Shimmered in the lighting. It had hints of sour apple and roasted pecans with an Oaky finish. It had a nice texture and body.

Jeff then feeds us about the history of Kosta Browne and their Chardonnay.  We all sipped it to fast for Jeff to finish his sentence.

Special Guest with a Special Wine Bottle #2

Arnie is then introduced as the guest for the evening.  He was kind enough to share a bottle he purchased and held for 23 years. He did not tell us anything about the bot other than he wanted us to experience it.  The team begins with their small case of Tourette symptoms.   We concluded the wine following:


Bottle #2 – Brick brownish color. A sense of age on the nose. It was complex with strong a musty character. The body was absent on this bottle. It lacked texture on the palate and the finish dissolved quickly. However, we knew about the age so we kept studying the wine. It began to open slowly, but still had the strength to make a statement. We felt this bottle was past its prime and it should be drank immediately.  Steven G called out “Petrus”.  Then to our surprise it’s the same maker for this bottle.

1991 Dominus, Napa Valley Napanook Vineyard

Bottle #3 – ’08 Achaval Ferrer. Finca Altamira, La Conulta Mendoza – Inky dark plum, ripe berries on the nose. No tannins and blueberry hints.  The body complimented the flavors, but it could age for many years (5-7). This was an outstanding high quality made wine. The French oak completed the wine.

Bottle #4 – ’03 Achaval Ferrer. Finca Mirador, Medrano Mendoza – Inky plum. The color sticks to the glass. High alcohol on the nose. Cranberries, fennel, cinnamon stick. The finish was of a sweet cranberry. A superb wine. WOW we all said. It was so perfect with the dinner. The was the favorite of the evening.

Bottle #5 – ’02 Achaval Ferrer. Finca Mirador, Medrano Mendoza – Inky and dark. Light rim variation. Looked older than the rest. Sweet spices on the nose. A robustness on the palate. This aged bottle had structure and texture that was one to always remember. We loved this bottle.



All the wines were quiet until we paired them with a flame grilled porterhouse steak and roasted vegetables. Once these two met it was an explosion of finesse and quality.   It was as if the two introduced themselves followed by dancing the entire night. The kosher salt in the beef balanced the wines. The food and wine combination was simply amazing and perfect. At the end of our evening we concluded that Bottle #4 was our favorite for the evening.  We suggest you pick up this bottles from Agrentina and by quantity.  Try them every three years and experience them age with the same dish.


May ’15 – Castello Banfi & Tuscany

Hosted by Brian Connors and Sarah Brownell of Cru Artisan Wines

The club was grace with the Highly Knowledgeable Wine Legend Brian Connor and one of Castello Banfi’s Brand Ambassadors, Sarah Brownell. Both are Certified Master Sommeliers.   They have battled the arduous path to get these certifications so our club can learn it in just a few hours for the cram course.  Just kidding, their certifications are not easy to come by, which made me remember when I was taking the Boards.  20150512_202415

Jeff warms the red sauced based Italian dishes. Brian Connors begins his Italian tour. He is tall and slender. His slicked-to-the-side hair gives the appearance that he was one of “The Outsiders”.  He lectures on the classifications, his personal experiences, archeological findings and the length of time Italians take to classify a wine.   I suggest you hunt him down and get a chance to talk wine with him.  He can keep a conversation about wine interesting for quite some time.

Brian introduced Sarah.  She is professionally dressed and has a look of knowledge. Sitting in the chair, she tells us about how Castelo Banfi makes outstanding wines. Castello Banfi (CB) needs no introduction as they produce some of the popular wines from Tuscany. CB has patented a new wine making process that captures the pure essence of the sangiovese grape quality. The Banfi Family is a successful wine making family, but they are consistently reinvesting their profits in pursuit of the highest quality wines to be made.20150512_214433

2013 Rosso di Montalcino

2012 Poggio Alle Mura Rosso Di Montalcino DOC

2010 Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

2009 Poggio Alle Mura Brunello De Montalcino DOCG

All the wines expressed high quality. I have been drinking Castello Banfi since 2001 in their restaurant. and a staple of Tuscany’s superb grapes.





April ’15 Pinot Noir – France and USA

The Pinot Noir is such a fine grape. It is sensitive, soft, and subtle but tenacious enough to grow in may areas. France, Italy, Romania, Argentina, USA. All this while the list can continue on.

April was dedicated to the Pinot grape. Wineclubmiami are highly over obsessive oenophiles. We bow down and praise to Bacchus & Dionysus for the libations. Then the ohms begin. Unless it’s just me who does this.

Hosting this month’s tasting was Pauly aka Padrino. His historic Miami Villa felt as we were entered into a time lapse with all the intricate hand tooled details softly distressed but well maintained. This added charm our evening needed. We began to settle inside his formal dining room filled with his eclectic art collection framed to compliement each piece.

Our first glass was accompanied with soft cheeses, dried fruits, fresh baguette and quality EVOO.

May Pinot Noir

The blind tasting begins.

Brown bag #1. – Brick ruby, high alcohol. Heat on the nose that made me cough. Slow legs. Sandlewood we presumed French oak. Slight tartness. It was definitely Old World. Complex but opened well.

Brown bag #2. – Ruby red, small rim variation. Strong bouquet. Black cherry, soft body. Subtle alcohol on the palate. I felt this was classic old world.

Brown bag #3. – Brick color and murky. Dull shine on the surface. Less viscosity from the prior. I felt we transition the styles. Very earthy nose of soil and . Long finish with hints of leather. A robust wine

Brown bag #4 – Ruby. Bright. A young looking wine. Soft mushroom nose. Sour and textured finish.

The wines were being paired with a nice top sirloin steak, bakes vegetables and roasted potatoes.

Bottle #1 – ’09 Solena, Domaine Danielle Laurent, Willamette, Oregon. Superb wine! A great bottle. Such a high quality we felt it could pass for Burgundy.

Bottle #2 – ’12 Bergström Wines, Bergstöm Vineyards. Dundee Hills, Oregon

Bottle #3 – ’09 Domaine Faiveley, Clos De Vougeot Grand Cru, Burgundy

Bottle #4 – ’12 Domaine Stephane Magnien, Morey-Saint-Denis 1st Cru, Cuvee “Aus Petites Nois

May Pinot Noir

We were all surprised about the qualities of these Oregonian wines. The characteristics were of one a French wine producer can accomplish. The Burgundy wines are always true to their quality, when paying the price. However for the price of the Pinots from the US to the Burgundians, I would invest in drinking wines from Oregon to develop your palate.


Mar. ’15 – Bordeaux’s Right and Left Banks

We all love Bordeaux!!  This little old town has become the Mecca for true wine lovers.  All vineyards face Bordeaux.  This month we had acquired from some bottles from collectors that were willing to let some experience them.  David Yarus dusted them off and studied.  He spends his days handling inventory of wines in a wine bank.

With the combination of some good pizza and Brian Connor at the microphone, we had a night of one of the best tastings the club could experience.

As for the right and left banks, can you tell which side of the Gironde River the wine comes from?  The Right Bank is more focused on Merlot as the Left is Cabernet Sauvignon.  They are almost always blended of a few varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbet) unless you have a Chateau Petrus.  Brian kept us updated on the stats of the region.

The list was as follows:

  • Chateaux Léoville Barton 2000 $194 WS 97pts. Left Bank – Medoc: Brick color with strong rim variation.  Ripe Fruit and Leather notes on the nose.  Lead pencil and minerals.  A long finish.
  • Clos De L’Oratoire 2000 $117. WS 92pts. Right Bank – St. Emilion Grand Cru: This can age another 5 years.  Strong coffee, cocoa and soft tannins.  This was a true Right Bank Bordeaux.
  • Chateau-Fageac 2000 $264. WS 89pts.  Right Back – St. Emilion Grand Cru Classe. Brownish brick red. Soft with Cedar/Sandlewood nose.  Soft tannins and a long silky finish.
  • Chateau Palmer 1998 $321 WS 90pts. Left Bank – Medoc Margaux.  Leather nose.  Tobacco and black cherry on the palate with a textured finish.  Still strong and has years more to go.

Each had its own distinct character.  Eventhough they had the blends to help you figure out which side it came from, the age added complexity.

This tasting was memorable as each wine grew into its own not following the standard charateristics.  We loved the variety each Bordeaux made.

Drink plentiful people!


Feb. ’15 – The Art of Aged Wine

The older the wine the better right?  Now there is a myth we all hear.  There is a lot to be said when it is aged properly.  Eventhough mostly all wine is made for immediate consumption.  However in recent tasting the Club had with Inglenook wine maker Philippe Bascaules at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival with Wine Spectator, I asked him his thoughts if wine should be aged first then released to the public like a Barolo or just sell it immediately.  He said, “The Consumer should have the luxury to taste the wine young and aged…”  He began to explain that having this experience is how wine aging helps to learn more about the maker and wine.

I was glad to have the opportunity to select some wines with the group.   Jeff Tenen, president of the Club, said to select anything I wanted, just don’t tell me and keep is within the budget.

My goal at this month’s tasting was to experience more about how wine transformation in its youth and aged.

I placed four bottles in front of the blood (or wine) thirsty Club.  We all drank them blind.  They were all the same variatel and manufacturer.

1st Pour: Red brick with medium halo variation.  Acidic & Leather nose. A Light Oak on the palate with a long finish.  This wine transformed as we studied.  It was extremely tight and complex.  The team narrowed it down.  It was an Amarone della Valpolicella or Nebbiolo.

2nd Pour: Light Brick with strong halo variation.  Less tannins with hints of vanilla bean.  Again an old world.

Since we knew it was an aged wine tasting, they immediately said Barolo!  We had the 2005 Vietti Barolo Brunate and the 2010 Vietti Barolo di Castiglione Falletto.

We loved the transformation.  What was a tight and complex wine turned into a flowing stream of flavors that kept shifting and opening bigger and better.

3rd Pour: Opaque dark ruby.  Sweet palate with soft tannins.  A velvety finish.  Immediately Stephen Gamson screams California Cabernet!  Why I ask.  He stated because, “It makes me Happy!”  So that immediately made the club start thinking a vintage California.  This is how the mind tricks you.  Don’t trick your mind, but he was on the right track.

4th Pour: Again Opaque dark ruby.  A nose that was releasing bitter sweet flavors.  This was now tricking the Club because they were thinking California.  Can this wine be so different?

2001 Winehall Lane Leonardini Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon compared to the 2011 Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon.

Here the young wine was tight.  It was ready to drink but we felt it lacked the characteristics to age well.  The Leonardidi aged with grace.  Even at 14 years old it was obvious what it was.

Now make your choice.  Do you like to age the wine to see what it will become or to see it will remain true to what was made to taste like when it was created?  Happy drinking!!

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Jan ’15 – Do Not Trick Your Mind!

We all can recall that moment when it comes. The wine is in the glass and you begin to study it.  You have that taste and before you finish, you are already calling out varietals and regions.  Well that’s because you and almost every wine drinker out there, think they know it all. I can say that most of the group does know it all, that’s why we can only drink amongst each other, but we need to take the minutes and appreciate it. Isn’t she beautiful; look as her color; appreciate her age; she smells like a bouquet of roses; and when see speaks… take the 60-120 seconds and listen before you judge her.

The group had the opportunity to have Mr. Brian P. Connors of Connors Davis Hospitality. Brian is a Professor at Johnson & Wales University, The School of Hospitality Management. He lectured us on the how we have different “Sensations we experience are Reality” or are they not. This often triggers our minds to believe the wine we prefer is immediately from something we experienced. Yes, we have links from your palette to your brain, but it’s time to stop and take the steps to understand the wine.  What is good to you may be bad to someone else. Or is it just “different”.

Brian poured five wines.  The final two were blind tastings after our lecture.

Wine #1: 2005 Tempranillo Spain, Valduero – 6 Años Reserva Premium.

Wine #2: 2008 Philip Togni Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wine #3: 2008 Gemstone Cabernet Sauvignon.

Brian’s lecture was comprised of many facets.  To list a few: Sensation Versus Perception; Analysis Versus Evaluation; See / Sight (Color and Intensity); Smell Descriptors (Off-Odors or distinct aromas); The 6 ‘S’s (Swirl, Smell -Three times, Sweetness, Savor); the human tongue; French Oak (Vespa), American Oak (Harley Davidson), Hungarian Oak (Moped Bike); viscosity (2%, Whole Milk or Light Cream); Rim Variation (Age and quality with color consistency when you look at the wine from the side, below and directly from above.)

Tasting Technique

Here is where we have our initial conclusions (Climate, Variety, Quality Level, Age, New vs. Old World).  After we think about the initial and a few minutes thinking, then we can come to our Final Conclusion.  Varietal, Country, Region, Vintage, Quality/Price.

We were able to practice the wines with the information in front of us. Now was the test. BLIND.

Wine #4. White wine. Color: Light Gold meant wasn’t aged too long. Bouquet: Slight Minerals meant Old World. Old World meant the Region could be from Europe. Vintage: Rim Variation was light it meant young.  Finally Quality: Sweet with citrus on the nose. Slightly textured, with a crisp finish.  Andrew Cohen, nailed it. Sancerre – 2013 Domaine de la Perriere Sav Blanc.

Wine #5. Now here this one was great!  It had all the challenges we love. Complex, interesting, old world, dark, high alcohol. Who guessed it? No one. This 2011 Ribera del Duero Pagos de Carraovejas was just hard to pinpoint.

As I said, we often know it all. Now, study the wine with these steps and you’ll be surprising people and yourself like a David Copperfield at the Playboy Mansion.



Wine Club Miami Annual Holiday Event


13_WineClubMiami_12_077It’s that time of year… The end.  We had a memorable year in our tastings.  The “Collector’s” tastings are still hovering in our minds.  We don’t name drop so please review our tastings.  January & March tastings brought us wines that made fulfill items to the “bucket list”.

As Wine Club Miami created an evening of fine dining and entertainment, we selected wines that would recap our year.  Let’s face it, a year of snubbing the wine and saying, “it’s ok” to what people would hardly have a chance to drink (limited production) comes to pause as we mostly enjoy the time with family and friends.

Tuyo allowed us to start gathering in their Wine/Cooking Theater.  We sipped on Piper-Heidsieck Magnums and sampled Hors d’oeuvres.  Wesley Castellanos thanked the club for a stupendous 2013 year and began his swan dance.  Following the gratitude, Wesley announced Stephen Gamson as the new president for Wine Club Miami 2014.


Stephen Gamson is an individual who does not shy away from letting the club know what his wine & food palette desires.  He has been with the club for many years and will partake in an active role as President.

Chef Norman Van Aken of Tuyo and the club met prior to assure the dishes and wines complimented each other…

We paired our appetizers with a 2010 William Fevre Chablis les Lys. This wine was delicate with a taste of minerals that exemplified the chardonnay notes.  By know you should know what a French Chardonnay should provide.


The main course was paired with the Rivietto Barolo ’09.  Even though it was extremely young and tight, it softened the powerful flavors of the main.

We drank the Barolo into our desserts which the chocolate mousse or flan was a great match.

The President Gamson elect hosted an after hours event for the club.


Wine Club Miami wishes you all a happy holiday season and please drink wine like it is the last day on earth.



November Tasting: The Presidential Speech: Bigger is better!


That’s right I said it!  Bigger is better. Escalades, penthouses, yachts and bottles.  As I came into my last two months into my first term, I personally selected wines for the entire club without any suggestions from the members.  I wanted to bring a wine that would be social and make everyone think about not only their future, but the wines’ future.

It is said that the larger the bottle format, the “truer” the wine.  Drinking wine from a barrel is nothing like having it from the bottle (not even in a Riedel glass). Either it is the state of mind by drinking from the barrel or just being limited to just 750 ml., you’ll never have enough.


I selected three young Right Bank Bordeaux magnums.  The notes from other drinkers are exactly what I look for in my wines.  I bought two of each bottle.  One was set for our November tasting and the other is set for our November 2023 tasting.  How can I wait ten years you ask?  Just hide it in the back, out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

Below please find the notes and point ratings from our tasting.  In the end we were all extremely pleased with the quality of the wine and especially can’t wait for the aging to pass ten years..  Each bottle expressed a higher quality than a 750ml bottle would provide.


Chateau De Barbe Blanche ’09 – St. Emilion – Lussac WMC 8pts; Wine Spectator 89pts. “Raspberry, blackberry and currant flavors along, with toasty vanilla and spice notes filling in on the medium-weight, juicy finish.  A nice tarry flash on the finish.”

Chateau de L’Estang Cotes de Castillion ’09 – Cotes Castillon – WCM 5.5pts; Wine Advocate 90pts. “The opaque ruby/purple-tinges. Lots of sweet black currant and black cherry fruit intermixed with a hint of vanilla.

Chateau Vieux Chateau Palon ’10 – St Emilion – WCM 8pts; James Suckling 93pts. “Full and velvety, with beautiful fruits and ripe tannins.  Dark chocolate and rich fruit on the palate. Sexy” 75% Merlot/25% Cabernet Franc


Again, a special thanks to Cara Mia for allowing us to host our tasting as they always aim to please in the food and service!  Please take some time and dine there!!