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Graziano Chenin Blanc 2011

New 2011 vintage arrives end Of 2013: 2006 vintage now sold out

Mr Whirly says:

“ Whirly wines first venture with this varietal, famous in the Loire regions of Saumur, Savannieres  and Vouvray. Vibrant rich pear and apples with touches of Vanilla on the nose and palate. Aged Sur lie for 5 months in neutral French Oak Burgundy Barrels. “

Price: sold out

Alcohol: 13.0%

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Graziano, “Enotria”, Barbera 2006

A Barbera from Northern California! The glory of wine!

New vintage of this wine has just arrived, February 2014 and I shall be posting some tasting notes on it soon. Its Greg’s 2010 vintage of the wonderful grape

WInemakers notes:

“ Enotria, part of the Graziano family of wines, is what the ancients called Italy. We produce wines from Italian grape varieties that are native to the Piemonte region of Northwest Italy. We utilise the best methods, both modern and ancient, to create wines that are distinctly Californian yet evocative. This grape is the most widely planted and the workhorse grape of the Piemonte, Barbera is known for its lively acidity. Our version, which is grown in the foothills and bench lands of Mendocino County, has been aged in a combination of French Burgundy and American Oak barrels for over 24 months. This long ageing helps to bring a harmonious balance of sweet fruit flavours, rich earthy complexity and softer tannins and acidity. “

Mr Whirly says:

“Barbera from Northern California and in particular Mendocino arrived here in the 19th Century with immigrant Italians and took well to the coastal Volcanic soils of this Northern part of this wonderful state. This is Graziano’s 15th vintage of this grape. Once again not young, this wine shows well now and for time to come with soft textured tannins and black cherries on the palate, almost Cherry Clafoutis in its makeup, which we love!

It has a little hint of coconut and toasty oak too. I am really proud of this wine:  I hope you find the point of difference with some Italian wines you might know, really exciting. This is what wine is all about: tasting the same grapes made in different regions of the world and seeing how indeed they have their own identity. “

Alcohol: 15.0%

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Montevolpe, Primo Rosso 2007

Primo Rosso: “ First red “

This is the second vintage of the wine for my wine business and the first was a fabulous success so I expect this to be too.

A blend of six grapes but don’t be put off if you are, like me, a fan of single varietals on their tod! This is a wonderful example of how grapes can be blended really attractively and shows off Greg Graziano’s winemaking skills very well indeed. It also fit’s really well into that very large void, of wines being available from the United States that have some quality and panache but are not too expensive. 65% Zinfandel, 15% Carignane, 10% Petite Sirah, 5% Sangiovese, 3% Negroamaro, 2% Nebbiolo. Some lovely bottle age means this wine is soft with tannins of maturity and grace: medium to dark purple-garnet in colour with some flavours of plums and blackberries in a pie with the addition of a little Marzipan, Almonds and Moraschino Cherries. This wine does not fade away but remains strong and even when opened will taste well after 3 days of opening, so has the potential to be an interesting pourer in 2011 and in the years ahead.

Alcohol: 14.5%

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Montevolpe, Primo Bianco 2009

Primo Bianco: “ First white”

New Vintage just arrived, February 2014: tasting notes for the 2011 vintage will follow shortly

Following the undoubted  success of the Primo Rosso in 2010 I decided it would be a good idea  to import it’s sister. So here  it is!

Primo Bianco means “ First white”. This is Greg Graziano’s complex blend of six different grapes! Six! Wow, I said to myself before I tried it for the first time, that must me a difficult job blending six grapes! He’s done a very good job which means he’s a very clever winemaker!

Mr Whirly says

“It’s a very complex wine, quite herbaceous with a touch of fennel and dill on the nose.  Great concentraion. I recently tasted this with Tom and Lisa Lewis at the lovely Monachyle Mhor with a vegetarian risotto with fennel and other strong flavours and it was quite a special match.”

Winemakers notes:

Winemaking: We hand-harvested the grapes at an average 23.5 degrees brix through the months of September and October, 2009. The grapes were crushed, pressed, cold settled and then racked into neutral French Burgundy oak barrels.  All of the lots were 100% barrel-fermented and “sur-lie” aged for 5 months with no malolactic fermentation.

Winemaker Comments: This is a blend of 6 different varietals: Tocai Friulano, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Arneis, Pinot Grigio and Cortese. The grapes are from hillside vineyards in the Redwood and Ukiah Valleys. The wine is rich and intensely fruity with appealing aromas and flavours of spicy melon, ruby red grapefruit, anise, and mineral. The wine is nicely balanced by crisp acidity and a long, lingering finish.

Alcohol: 14.0%

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Mendocino County & Greg Graziano family of wines….

Mendocino County

Whenever I think about driving through Mendocino county in my Saab, (which I adore even though its battered and bruised) I think of two things now.

That lovely song by Willie Nelson and Lee Ann Womack called “Mendocino County Line”, full of tranquility and which evokes thoughts and feelings of wanting to be behind the wheel and driving through the quiet and peaceful roads up here. Secondly, my thoughts go back to a little journey in my Saab when I first came up to this wine area in November 2004 to source wines and I drove along the Anderson valley to visit Husch and Navarro and Handley and other delectable wineries, then cut across to Jepson in the Ukiah valley.  In the summer of 2005 I returned and I was asked the question on more than one occasion

“ Heh Buddy, have you seen Sideways?”

What is Sideways!!” I said to my bewildered self as I left each tasting room.

It was only a few months later that I was so intrigued by this film that I watched it and realised why they were asking me this question, since the star of the film, a lover of Pinot Noir, Paul Giamatti also drives around in a beaten up old Saab convertible.

Greg Graziano, Redwood Valley, Mendocino

Greg Graziano, as one can tell from his name, is a man of Italian heritage who has been making wine here, high up in the Redwood forests of Northern California for over 30 years. His vineyard is as far north as one can go in the Mendocino wine region on route 101 that heads north from Ukiah to the Oregon border. It took me about 3 years to track him down after first tasting his wines in November 2004 but after much persistence I eventually managed to get hold of his home number and phoned him there. We met, tasted a number of wines and it kicked off from there.

Greg offers great wines, a stunning array of varietals over four different branded labels, with a strong influence from Italian grapes ( Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Montepluciano and Peppolino to name  five) and they are cleverly priced too. Please click on the wines below to see tasting notes:

Please click on the link below to see the vineyard website as well as individual tasting notes and bottle shots for each wine:

Monetvolpe Label:

Primo Bianco 2009

Primo Rosso 2007

Enotria label

Barbera 2006

Graziano label

Chenin Blanc 2011

Zinfandel 2006

Petite Sirah 2004


The Pacific North West coast of America: that’s what Mr Whirly means by the USA, at this present time….

…and this means California….oh California ( Great Joni Mitchell song, can you name it?) and of course further north to the more laid back Oregon and then onto Washington state.

I first came to California on a Trailway’s bus from New Orlean’s in 1986, aged 19 and away on my first adventure, spending 11 months in North America and Canada. I will always remember heading over the San Bernardino mountains with the Joshua Tree National park and beyond that the Mojave desert, the brown, parched land covered with wind propellers generating electricity and arriving in downtown Los Angeles amazed and in wonder that I was in this enthralling city. It had taken me three days on a bus. It took me via some wonderful places like El Paso, where there entire congregation of the bus departed, Mexican’s, heading south to the border.

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I was lucky enough to have some friends of the family, the wonderful Liebman family, that lived in Encino, just down the road from Michael Jackson’s home as it happens and I stayed with them for a whole month, having the most wonderful time getting dressed up for Halloween and eating Sushi which was totally in fashion in Los Angeles at the time. My love for wine was there already, but John Liebman  introduced me to the intense and powerful wines of California and I immediately took a liking to them.

I have been returning to the wine area’s of California since 1999 thanks to the friendship born whilst at the Liebman’s with John’s god daughter, Karen Frankel, who I met for one fun night in 1986 and then thirteen years later we met again in the beautiful Tuscan hilltop town of Cortona. She invited me to San Francisco and to the Burning man festival in the Black rock desert,  so I have been returning to California every August to take in this crazy event followed by 2 weeks traveling and tasting from the Santa Barbara mountains all the way up to Mendocino, Oregon and Washington state.

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There’s a massive thrill when you get behind the wheel of your hire car at LAX ( Los Angeles International Airport) or SFO ( San Francisco International Airport) and head north: it’s those wide open roads, that do-dum, do-dum as the wheels traverse the gaps in the large concrete slabs of the freeway that signal, YOUR BACK!! YIHAAAHHHHH!!

Whether its driving over the San Ynez mountains to Los Olivos, great wine country with top wineries here like Stolpman and Zaca Mesa or off route 5 on 152 over the Pacheco pass to Gilroy, garlic capital of the United States of America or along 128 off 101 in Mendocino along the cool Anderson valley, the countryside is simply thrilling. The Santa Cruz Mountains, the San Louis Obispo wine country and wonderfully vibrant student town also which has the most amazing tasting room called simply “ Taste” or simply picking up a good friend, John Stockdale, at San Francisco International airport in a red Mustang convertible and watching his face purr with excitement and adrenalin as we boot it north on 101 to the crimson red of the Golden Gate Bridge over the hills south of the city, driving in California is the real deal.

California wine country is diverse and the main influence is how close your vineyard is to the coast and whether there is a cool wind that flows through and down the valley from the Pacific: if this is the case, like for example in the Anderson valley in Mendocino or around the bay area of Southern Napa near Los Carneros where the fog and cool Pacific air moves in from the San Pablo Bay to cool the vineyards, then the varietal choice is very defined. This is a definite contrast to Calistoga for example, at the Northern end of the Napa where it’s as warm as you would want it to be to grow vines.

I have been lucky to visit most of the vineyard regions of California: Mendocino is the most laid back, in the north and probably therefore, my favourite. There’s a drive from Ukiah, in the Ukiah valley on route 101,( this valley is hot vine country where they grow grapes like Shiraz, Cabernet and Viognier) over the hills to Mendocino town on the coast. It goes through the Montgomery woods and over the rolling green hills to Comptche. It’s spectacularly beautiful so if you ever get the chance, take a convertible over the top. Further south the Santa Cruz mountains, Central coast areas of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Olivos and Monterey are also delightful and full of wondrous discoveries. But you do need time. These wine regions are spread out over 900 kms of rugged country of hills and gorges so don’t be in a rush to get anywhere fast. It’s worth taking your time.

I am lucky enough to work with Greg Graziano in Mendocino and Amity and Bethel Heights further north in Oregon the new world home of Pinot Noir. I hope at some point to represent some vineyards from Washington state eastern wine region, which is a fabulous new wine region and after my second visit there in June 2013 I hope this might become reality soon.