From Wine and Beyond….

Happy Holidays! This is always my favorite time of year. The weather is changing, the fall harvests have arrived and the wines have suddenly changed from “Patio Pounders” — wines enjoyed in extreme heat — to Bubbles and Big Reds.

Speaking of Bubbles and Big Reds, our Holiday Wine Extravaganza is approaching. If you have not attended this in the past, it is a can’t miss holiday tasting that includes light bites and 48 various wines, some sparkling and some big reds. It is slotted for November 26 from 6:00 to 8:00pm. Don’t forget to make a dinner reservation for after the event. Most leave happy and hungry.

Before I tell you about an experience that I had recently, I want to thank all the members for their great support of the Wine Program and its many events.

Firstly, we had Kayla Trevino of Hahn Estates come to enhance the Women of Wine “Fall Comfort Food” event. She eloquently talked of the regions that Hahn cultivates and farms as well as the different lines of wines that they carry. The ladies were able to try the inaugural vintages of their Arroyo Seco Chardonnay and Pinot Noir along with Smith & Hook Red and Cab, finishing off with Boneshaker Zin. Chef Isaac and his team demonstrated a crowd favorite: Butternut Squash Soup, Braised Short Ribs and a very versatile Pastry Cream.

Next, we introduced a “Family Style” Wine Dinner showcasing Ferrari-Carano wines. Chef Isaac’s team sent platters and platters of food for every course that were passed around the long table and magnificently paired with the wines. It was a comfortable, casual atmosphere! Jaime Ramirez from Ferrari-Carano spoke enthusiastically and everybody was captivated by the story behind the Ferrari Family and the vineyards. He even invited everybody out to Sonoma for a special tour. If you find yourself headed that direction, I will pass out his contact information.

We also enjoyed a Champagne Seminar from Ruinart. Gina Livingston, San Antonio’s foremost Champagne expert and the Brand Ambassador of Ruinart, Moét, Krug and Veuve Clicquot, was the guest speaker and told the story behind Ruinart, the beginnings of Champagne in general and took a lot of questions and answers. 

Lastly, we had the great opportunity to have Rianna Mondavi and her husband join us as the guest speakers of the Charles Krug Wine Dinner. Growing up in Napa Valley, she had amazing history and stories that only she, a Mondavi, could have amassed. Of course, the culinary team hit yet another grand slam with the food and pairings.

As you can see, there are numerous events to attend and I assure you we will keep them coming.

Now for my great experience! 

I started out one day like any other. I had a slew of vendors coming to taste me on wines on this day. For some, that might sound like exciting, however it does get arduous at times. Nevertheless, I was introduced to a supplier from Australia. I always try to keep an open mind and not preconceive what is going to be shown, and with that being said, she started me on a glass of sparkling wine from TASMANIA… I was absolutely blown away. This sparkling wine was vibrant with tight bubbles. I got honeysuckle and citrus off the nose with the taste of nougat and a nice bit of nuttiness. It was a fraction of the cost of French Champagne as well. Staying in Australia, we then progressed to a Dry Riesling from Eden Valley. It had the nose of petrol just like many Rieslings from Germany and Alsace. As soon as it touched my tongue, I couldn’t help but notice the lemon-lime fruit along with herbs such as rosemary and sage. What a superstar! There were another five or six wines that we tasted so I will limit to just one more — Yalumba’s Samuel Collection Bush Vine Grenache. This wine had the nose of the Gamay Grape which is found in Beaujolais, south of Burgundy. The smell is like a mix between cranberries and Cherry Kool-Aid — the best way for me to describe it. On the palate it is richly textured, fleshy, round and supple, with a cranberry tartness and fresh-picked Washington cherry that finished velvety. 

Some might be asking why this experience was great. My answer is simple. As I was tasting, especially these three wines, I knew that this was a near flawless, out of the ordinary, economical and perfect pairing for anybody’s Thanksgiving feast.

Again, Happy Holidays and I wish you all to have a remarkable season filled with friends, family and long-lasting memories!

See you at the Club…

Jeffrey Cohen is the Wine Specialist at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. He can be reached at

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