Vineyard Story: Bodegas Barahonda

Bodegas Barahonda vines grow in deep and low in organic matter soils made up of limestone at an altitude ranging between 400 and 800 m above sea level. The climate is continental with temperatures that vary from – 6 ºC in winter months until 40 ºC in summer months. All these factors plus the low rainfall and the temperature variation between night and day produce a slow ripening and favour the concentration of colour, flavour and aroma in the grapes.

Nowadays, Bodegas Barahonda owns 150 hectares and other 600 hectares which are controlled by their agricultural technical department in order to obtain the greatest grapes.

Vineyard Story: Scheid vineyards

“Great wine begins in the vineyard”. A truism if ever there was one. It is indisputable that wine quality is inextricably linked to where the grapes are grown. The balance of ripeness and acidity, and the interplay between aroma and flavour, are largely determined by climate. When Al Scheid first purchased property in Monterey County in 1971, he did so based on the advice of Professor A.J. Winkler, a viticultural authority from the University of California at Davis, who classified grape growing regions by climate. Monterey County was classified as Regions I and II, comparable to Napa, Sonoma, Burgundy and Bordeaux.

Vineyard Story: Domaine du Pegau

An iconic producer of traditionally styled Châteauneufs, Pegau has a vast worldwide group of highly loyal fans, many of whom have trekked to the estate for a visit with the extremely hospitable and entertaining Féraud family.

Laurence Féraud makes no apologies for the sometimes rustic character of Pegau’s wines, which are sourced from the domain’s 21 hectares of vines, made entirely with whole clusters and aged in old founders and demi-muids for two years before bottling without fining or filtration. On the contrary, Laurence Féraud relishes the opportunity to continue the family tradition of making “wild wines that have their own personality. Like people with a unique character, not everybody is going to be in love with them.”

Wine University Episode 2 What is Appellation?

An appellation is a particular region in which grapes are grown and wine is produced in a certain manner and in order to name your wine after that particular appellation, the wine must be produced in a particular manner. An appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown; other types of food often have appellations as well.

Looking for Good Wine? Start With The Appellation

There seem to be an infinite number of ways to classify and categorize wine these days, though none are quite so helpful–or quite as intimidating– as the appellation system. Very basically, an appellation is how countries categorize their wines into specific grape-growing geographical regions. An appellation not only indications the country and region where the wine’s grapes were grown, but also the laws and regulations that dictate how that particular wine was made. Typically, the more specific the region’s boundaries are, the better the wine that carries its name. That’s why it’s so helpful to become familiar with at least a handful of appellation names and acronyms to help inform your wine purchases.

To get you started, let’s look at a summary of the top 4 wine producing countries and how they classify–and qualify,–their wines.

United States

AVA: American Viticultural Areas


An American Viticulture Area (AVA) is a grape-growing area with unique geographic and cultural features that influence a wine’s taste and quality. The AVA system began in 1980 and and has since expanded to include 230 AVAs across the United States. Some AVAs, such as the Mississippi River AVA, span across millions of acres of land while others have only a few hundred acres. In order for a wine to carry an AVA label, at least 85% of the wine’s grapes must come from a single AVA.

AVAs are a little confusing because there is no regional or quality-based hierarchy and some larger AVAs contain smaller ones within their boundaries (known as sub-appellations). For example, Calistoga AVA is a sub-appellation of Napa Valley AVA and the Napa Valley AVA is a sub-appellation within the much larger North Coast AVA.

TIP: Regions that are divided into sub-appellations tend­ to make higher quality wines… just an interesting observation.


AOP: Appellation d’Origine Protégée


France organizes wine with the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée/Protégée (AOC/AOP) system which first started in 1937. Today, there are over 360 AOCs in France and most are within 11 primary growing regions (e.g. Rhône, Loire, Alsace, Bordeaux etc.). The French AOP system has rules that apply to nearly every aspect of wine production, including grape varieties that may be utilized, minimum alcohol level, aging requirements, and even vineyard planting density. Such meticulous management of a single industry may seem overwhelming, but the geographic label implies what winemaking regulations were in play and can therefore serve as a guide for consumers. For example, a Crémant d’Alsace Rosé is required to be 100% Pinot Noir. Thus, when you buy this wine you can expect a sparkling wine made from 100% Pinot. It’s simply a matter of cracking the AOP code.

Vin de Pays (IGP)
Vin de France


DOC: Denominazione di Origine Controllata


The Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) system was first established in 1963 and today there are 329 different DOCs and 73 DOCGs. The Italian system was originally designed to champion the indigenous grapes of Italy by elevating wine made with Italian grape varietals to the highest tiers of the DOC system, DOCG. SThat’s not to say, however, that foreign grape varieties are anything to look down upon. In fact, producers make very high quality wines with French grapes, such as the Super Tuscan blend with Merlot and Cabernet. However, since the grapes are not of Italian origin, the wines are typically–and arbitrarily,– demoted to IGT status.


Italian Wine Regions Map by Wine Folly

Here are some common Italian wine terms that are useful to know:

  • Classico: Between the 1960’s and 1970’s many DOC boundaries were revised to include a larger area. The “Classico” denomination thus refers to the original smaller boundaries of the wine-making area. You can see an example of this on the Chianti Wine Map.
  • Superiore: Superiore is often used as a production quality standard usually indicating a higher minimum quality of wine grapes and often a minimum aging requirement before the wine is released for sale.
  • Riserva: Riserva is typically used as a production quality standard most often referring to extended aging of a wine prior to release. Many producers only make Riserva wines with grapes from exceptional vintages.


DOP: Denominación de Origen Protegida


The Spanish qualify their wines with the Denominación de Origen (DO) or Denominación de Origen Protegida (DOP) system. The Spanish system currently has 79 DOP’s, 2 DOC’s, 15 Vino de Pagos (VT) and 46 Vino de la Tierra (VdlT/IGP). The newest addition to the system was a single-vineyard category called Vino de Pago and many Spanish wine enthusiasts will agree that this category has some very intriguing wines.


Spain Wine Regions Map by Wine Folly

Aging is a very important aspect of Spanish wines–especially Tempranillo,– so the country has an aging classification system as well. Keep in mind that each region may have slightly different rules attached to the following terms, so check with Wines of Spain if you want to know the specifics:

  • Tinto/Roble: “Roble” literally translates to “oak,” but this style is characterized by having little-to-no oak aging.
  • Crianza: This style has some oak and bottle aging, typically 9–12 months. For example, Rioja requires 12 months of aging.
  • Reserva: This style is required to have both oak and bottle aging. Typically, Reserva wines will undergo an entire year in oak and sometimes an additional 2 years in the bottle.
  • Gran Reserva: This style is required to have extended oak and bottle aging, which generally means up to 2 years in oak and up to 4 years in the bottle.

What Is Terroir? Wine University Episode #1

The general translation for Terroir is microclimate. It includes the soil, the slope of the hill, the way the wind hits the vines, the angle to the sun, basically it includes everything that makes the grapes grow the way they grow. As world renowned wine maker Stéphane Ogier states, “For me Terroir is not only the soil. Sometimes we think it’s only the soil. In fact, it’s the exposure, the altitude. Sometime I think we can even bring the vigneron into the terroir because the way we would work our vines and vineyards will change the expression of the terroir. Terroir is a combination of soil, vines and how these vines are managed by humans.”

I Would Always Choose Cava Over Prosecco. Here’s Why.

I Would Always Choose Cava Over Prosecco. Here’s Why.

There’s nothing like a glass of bubbly to finish the day, and happily, there are more sparkling wine options available than ever. That also means that there are more affordable sparkling wine options available than ever, and when it comes time to select a bottle from the weekday-friendly sub-$15 shelf, there are almost always two big options to choose from: Cava and Prosecco. While the bottles available vary from shop to shop, if I’m faced with unfamiliar cuvées, I make the same game time decision. I would always choose Cava over Prosecco. Here’s why.

First, let’s talk about our two ubiquitous value-driven sparklers. What’s the difference between Cava and Prosecco in the first place? As with many Old World wines, each is the name not only of the type of wine, but of the region in which it’s made. Cava must come from DO Cava in Spain, of which 95 percent is located in the northeastern region of Penedès, and while several grape varieties are permitted, the main three are Parellada, Xarel-lo and Macabeo (a.k.a. Macabeu in Catalan, the same grape as Rioja’s Viura). Prosecco, similarly, must come from Italy’s DOC Prosecco, the majority of which is in the Veneto but also crosses over to Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Typically, the wine is made entirely from Glera (the grape formerly also known as Prosecco before lawmakers changed it), but a small percentage of other grapes may be blended in as well.

So one wine is from Spain, one is from Italy, and both come from large appellations that cover not only an area but a specific style of wine. What’s the big difference? Outside of terroir, the answer lies largely in the winemaking process, specifically the process in which each wine becomes sparkling. By law, Cava must be produced in the traditional, or Champagne, method, whereas Prosecco is almost always produced using the tank, or Charmat, method. This means that the secondary fermentation — the process in which the wine gains its effervescence — takes place in the bottle for Cava versus in a large tank for Prosecco that later gets bottled under pressure. It is this traditional method of fermentation that gives Cava a leg up over its Italian counterpart.

Many assert that the traditional method produces higher-quality sparkling wines, but why exactly? Regardless of region, quality will always vary from producer to producer, but wines vinified using traditional-method fermentation have a special something to add an extra layer of complexity: lees contact. Lees, the dead yeast cells left behind when fermentation is finished, are trapped inside the bottle until the wine is disgorged and ready to be sold. As they remain in the wine, the lees impart both flavor — that savory, yeasty, brioche-like quality — and creamy texture that increases over time. Even the most basic Cava must spend nine months aging on the lees, meaning that it will likely have more non-fruit flavors and minerality. Prosecco, because it undergoes secondary fermentation in tank and is then transferred to bottle, does not spend extended time in contact with the lees, nor does it have any minimum aging requirements. This creates a simpler, more fruit-driven flavor profile instead.

The secondary fermentation method also affects the pressure in the bottle, something that doesn’t necessarily equate to higher quality wine (some of the most sought-after grower Champagne producers purposefully bottle their cuvées with lower pressure), but is important to note for those who like their sparkling wine to be super bubbly. The traditional method produces wines that are typically between 5 and 6 atmospheres of pressure, whereas the tank method creates only about 3 atmospheres of pressure, meaning that Cava will be more effervescent for longer.

Some Prosecco producers do opt to use the traditional method, breaking the region’s norm, but only the smaller, higher-quality DOCG Conegliano Valdobbiadene appellation allows for this, and these particular cuvées are typically more expensive. Cava, too, can make high-end, single-vineyard wines, having even created a new category for the best sites last year, but these are more splurge-worthy bottles as well. When it comes down to the average, value-driven bottle that you’ll eagerly pluck off the shelf on a Wednesday evening, here’s the deal: Cava will likely offer a more complex wine for the same price, and that’s why it will always be my pick.

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What Types of Red Wines Are “Good” for You?

Some red wines have significantly higher levels of what science has determined to be the beneficial ingredients found in wine. Evidence also suggests that younger red wines are better than older wines when it comes to health. Find out which red wines are the best for you – and surprise: it’s not Cabernet or Pinot Noir!

We all know that alcohol can be bad for us, especially when consumed irresponsibly. However, imbibing moderately may carry with it some surprising benefits:

There's no question that people who drink moderately have lower rates of heart attacks, lower rates of diabetes, and live longer. Dr. Eric Rimm, Professor, Harvard School of Public Health 2013

Dr. Rimm’s statement isn’t just an opinion, it’s been deductively proven with hundreds of studies on alcohol and its effect on health. Of course, not all alcoholic beverages are created equally in terms of health. And, of the different kinds of alcohol (spirits, beer, and wine) there is one type that consistently outperforms the rest: wine.

The beneficial attributes of wine outplay all other types of alcohol when it comes to longevity. Of course, not all wines are created equally either! Some wines have significantly higher amounts of “good stuff” in them.

What to Look for in “Healthy” Wine

Here are the traits characterize wines that are better for you with respect to health:

  1. Wines that are “dry,” meaning they’re not sweet and have little to no carbs (sugar).
  2. Wines that are lower in alcohol (ideally, 12.5% ABV or less).
  3. Wines that have higher polyphenol content, particularly procyanidins.

What Are Polyphenols and Procyanidins?

Pretty much everything in wine that’s not alcohol or water is a polyphenol. These include tannins, color pigment, aromas, resveratrol, procyanidins, and about 5,000 other plant compounds. Of these polyphenols, the most abundant in wine for health reasons are Procyanidins, which inhibit cholesterol plaque in blood vessels. This is why wine is connected with hearth health.

Which Wines Have the Highest Levels of Polyphenols?

Polyphenol Content in red wines Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, and Sagrantino

Polyphenols are found in the skins and seeds of grapes, so only wines that are made with skin contact (including red wines and orange wines) have elevated polyphenol levels. Certain grape varieties have more concentrations of Procyanidin. Most notably:

  • Tannat The wine of Madiran in South-West France, that also grows in abundance in Uruguay
  • Sagrantino A rare grape from Umbria, producing deeply-colored wines.
  • Petite Sirah Also known as Durif, and primarily grows in California.
  • Marselan A successful crossing between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache with very small berries that creates wines with intense deep purple hues. A rarity found in tiny amounts in France, Spain, China, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
  • Nebbiolo Nebbiolo is an important grape of Piedmont, Italy.

These grapes contain anywhere from 2–6 times as much polyphenol content as other more popular varieties like Pinot Noir and Merlot. Concentrations of polyphenols are highest when the wine is young. Of course, there are many other variables involved, including how the grapes were harvested and the wine was made. So, if you’re looking for an easier answer, go for the taste.


What Do High Polyphenol Wines Taste Like?

The wines will have highly concentrated fruit flavors, higher acidity, and a bold, tannic finish. Most will have a darker color, so much so, that you won’t be able to see through your wine glass.

The more bitter, the better.

High polyphenol wines are the opposite of smooth and supple: they’re robust and bold and often described as astringent. The bitterness in wine appears to directly correlate to the level of procyanidin in a wine. So, if you like a little bitter in your life, you’re going to love these wines!

Of course, wine isn’t the only food with high levels of polyphenols. Apples, beans, chocolate, grape seed extract (as a supplement), tea, and pomegranates are great alternatives to wine with higher levels of polyphenols.

Great Wines for Sipping

Because these wines are perceived by most as “hard to drink,” you’ll find yourself drinking with more moderation. This isn’t a bad thing, considering the National Cancer Institute recommends men should have no more than 2 glasses per day and women no more than 1 glass (a glass is 5 oz). So, the next time you read “robust, bitter and age-worthy” on a label, you might avoid your initial instinct to run the other way!

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Easy Traditional Red Sangria

SIMPLE, Amazing Traditional Red Sangria! 6 ingredients, SO flavorful, easy, and delicious! #sangria #recipe #wine #summer #recipe #minimalistbaker #vegan

I had the best sangria (and patatas bravas) of my life when we went to Spain in 2013.

Perhaps my recollection of that first drink is slightly biased. We’d just arrived to Barcelona from a long, tiring train ride, and then walked what seemed like miles carrying 40-pound backpacks into the city to reach our AirBnB. We were tired and hangry, to say the least.

Our first thought upon dropping our bags was “tapas and sangria.” So off we went in search of sustenance, and what we found was glorious.

Simple 6-ingredient Traditional Sangria! So delicious, easy, and quick! #vegan #sangria #wine #recipe #cocktail #summer #minimalistbaker

Can we all just agree the Spanish do it well, “it” being everything?

Traditionally the Spanish enjoy coffee in the morning, work a little, take an afternoon rest (or siesta), work a little more, then retire in the evening by eating tapas and drinking good wine with the people they love. Eventually, they slumber only to do it all over again the next day. If that doesn’t sound like a slice of heaven, I don’t know what does.

Oh, and did I mention they gifted the world with sangria? Does it get any better than this lush, fruity beverage? I think not.

Simple 6-ingredient Traditional Sangria! So delicious, easy, and quick! #vegan #sangria #wine #recipe #cocktail #summer #minimalistbaker

This recipe is my humble offering to a sangria-loving world.

I’ve tasted, tested, researched, retested, and what I’ve come up with is this easy, 6-ingredient, traditional red sangria that’s got everything I’m looking for:

& Boozy

I think I’m in love.

SIMPLE, Amazing Traditional Red Sangria! 6 ingredients, SO flavorful, easy, and delicious! #sangria #recipe #wine #summer #vegan #recipe #minimalistbaker

Though there are many interpretations of what “traditional sangria” is, I’ve found that it typically requires these main components:

Fruit (like apples and oranges)
Orange juice
A sweetener (like brown sugar or cane sugar)
A liquor (like brandy or rum)
Bold, fruity, dry Spanish red wine (like Tempranillo, Garnacha, or other Rioja wine)
& Ice (for chilling)

For this version, I went with brandy because as soon as I smelled it, I immediately thought, “this smells like sangria!” But of course, if you’d rather use rum, be my guest.

SIMPLE, Amazing Traditional Red Sangria! 6 ingredients, SO flavorful, easy, and delicious! #sangria #recipe #wine #summer #vegan #recipe #minimalistbaker

This sangria is my new go-to summer drink. It’s:

Slightly dry
& Simple

Enjoy this recipe alongside any of your favorite summer dishes. A few of our favorite pairings include patatas bravas, stuffed peppers, veggie burgers, and salads.

If you do give it a try, let us know what you think by leaving a comment and rating it so other readers know how much you loved it. And while you’re at it, take a picture and tag it #minimalistbaker on Instagram! We love seeing what you come up with. Cheers, friends!

SIMPLE, Amazing Traditional Red Sangria! 6 ingredients, SO flavorful, easy, and delicious! #sangria #recipe #wine #summer #recipe #drink #minimalistbaker
SIMPLE Traditional Red Sangria! 6 ingredients, SO refreshing, and delicious! #vegan #recipe #wine #sangria #summer #minimalistbaker
Easy Traditional Red Sangria

Print Friendly Version

Prep time
5 mins
Total time

5 mins

Author: Minimalist Baker
Recipe type: Beverage
Cuisine: Vegan, Spanish
Serves: 4.5 cups
  • 1/2 apple, cored, skin on, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 orange, rind on, sliced into small pieces, large seeds removed (plus more for garnish)
  • 3-4 Tbsp (41-55 g) organic brown sugar (or 3 Tbsp (37.5 g) organic cane sugar)
  • 3/4 cup (180 ml) orange juice, plus more to taste
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) brandy, plus more to taste
  • 1 750 ml bottle dry Spanish red wine*
  • Ice to chill (~1 cup)
  1. Add apples, oranges, and sugar to a large pitcher and muddle with a muddler or wooden spoon for 45 seconds.
  2. Add orange juice and brandy and muddle again to combine for 30 seconds.
  3. Add red wine and stir to incorporate, then taste and adjust flavor as needed. I added a bit more brandy, orange juice and brown sugar. Stir to combine.
  4. Add ice and stir once more to chill. Serve as is, or with a bit more ice. Garnish with orange segments (optional).
  5. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours, though best when fresh.
*For red wine, I bought the Albero Spanish Red Wine 2014 Monastrell from Trader Joe’s. However, any fruity, full bodied, somewhat-dry red Spanish wine will do.
*Recipe adapted from a new favorite of mine, Jamie Oliver Drinks Tube.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/2 cup (of 9 total servings) Calories: 131 Fat: 0.1 g Carbohydrates: 12.3 g Sugar: 9.7 g Sodium: 5 mg Protein: 0.3 g

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2016 Margaux! $60/Bottle. This is a WOW Deal. Prieure Lichine. 93-96 Points, (Galloni). We Got an Amazing Deal and Left Our Margin Razor Thin.

This is the best deal i have seen on 2016 futures. Don’t miss it.


93-96 points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media, April 2017
95 points – Jane Anson, Decanter, April 2017

Bottle Price : $60.00

Case Price : $360.00

Winery : Chateau Prieure-Lichine

Wine Region : Bordeaux (France), France (France)

Bottle Per Case : 6 x 750 ml

Food Pairing : Breads, Cured Meat, Hard Cheese, Red Meat, Roasted Vegetables

“The 2016 Prieuré-Lichine is one of the most beautiful and expressive wines of the year. Dark, sensual and inviting, it possesses remarkable depth and textural richness. All the elements are in the right place. Silky tannins, bright red fruit and soaring, lifted aromatics all contribute to the wine’s sensual personality. Consulting winemakers Stéphane Derenoncourt and Julien Lavenu are doing absolutely brilliant work here. The new winery, inaugurated with the 2015 harvest, is giving the team the flexibility to pick and vinify smaller lots, which is one of the reasons quality has improved in recent vintages. The blend is 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. Tasted two times.”

We love our clients! Sometimes we go above and beyond. We scored an absolutely amazing deal on the 2016 Prieure Lichine, and we thought it would be a good idea to give our clients an absolutely amazing deal. Not only have we passed the savings that we received along to you, but we have foregone most of our margin making this an unbelievable value. As far as i can see, this is as good a price as there is being offered anywhere in the world on this wine.

Yes, we are scouring the 2016 futures offers we receive for the most interesting deals. We even will have some 1st growth stuff for you.


We currently have the 2012 Noaillac about to land. Yes, a number of you have likely reserved cases of this. At $24.95, this is a steal. Reserve a case of the 2016 @ $19.95 a bottle and you will be really happy that you did. On the whole, 2016 is considered to be an amazing vintage in Bordeaux and you should likely stock up on all you can. Most consider the Noaillac to be the best deal from the Medoc.

Alright, i know there are those among us that only want the best. The 2016 Chateau Angelus St Emilion Grand Cru has received amazing ratings from all that have reviewed it do date including 99 – 100 from Suckling. I could go on and on about this wine, but for those of you that have pay attention to wines of this calibre, already know just how good this wine is.


Lastly, i think it is important to recognize how well the Bordelaise have organized their system. It allows for those of us/you with foresight to get the best of what Bordeaux has to offer at lower prices. Yes, you have to wait, but you are guaranteed epic wines to drink in the coming years and decades. To see everything we have on offer from Bordeaux including the balance of the 2016 futures, click here.

Have a great day!


Bottle Price : $19.95

Case Price : $239.40

Winery : Chateau Noaillac

Wine Region : Bordeaux (France), France (France)

Bottle Per Case : 12 x 750 ml

Food Pairing : Breads, Cured Meat, Hard Cheese, Red Meat, Roasted Vegetables


99-100 points – James Suckling, April 2017
96-98 points – Neal Martin, Wine Advocate, April 2017

Bottle Price : $549.00

Case Price : $3,294.00

Winery : Chateau Angelus

Wine Region : Bordeaux (France), France (France)

Bottle Per Case : 6 x 750 ml

Food Pairing : Breads, Cured Meat, Hard Cheese, Red Meat, Roasted Vegetables