Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ain’t that America? Graville-Lacoste Semillon at Chantal’s in Georgetown

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Above: Chantal’s Bistro and Wine Bar occupies the historic “Anderson House” (circa 1908) in picturesque Georgetown, Texas — Americana at its best. Mainstreet in Georgetown was honored with the Great American Mainstreet Award. Check out the site for this historic American mainstreet.

Chantal’s Bistro and Wine Bar
204 E 8th St
Georgetown TX 78626
512-535-6143

Mosaic Wine Group recently made a visit to Chantal’s Bistro and Wine Bar in historic Georgetown, Texas. Man, this place could have been the setting for Spielberg’s Back to the Future! It’s as Americana as they come. But that doesn’t stop them from appreciating great European wines like Non Confunditur (NC) by Argiano (Tuscany), Langhe Nebbiolo by Produttori del Barbaresco (Piedmont), or Château Graville-Lacoste (Brodeaux), a white wine (Semillon with a little Sauvignon Blanc) from the world’s most famous region for the production of red wine (Graves in Bordeaux).

Ain’t that America? Home of the free!

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Above: last month at the Kermit Lynch portfolio tasting in San Francisco, winemaker Hervé Dubourdieu of Château Graville-Lacoste explained that the Semillon and Sauignon Blanc he uses for his dry white Graves are sourced from the same vineyards that he uses for his Sauternes.

San Francisco Tow Truck Fandango

From the “one day we’ll be able to laugh about this” department…

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Above: the Ferry Building Marketplace on the San Francisco Waterfront.

For the love of money! Mosaic Wine Group spent a wonderful couple of days in Arizona and California last weekend, which could not have gone much better — beautiful weather, great friends and plenty of terrific wine. The stars seemed to be aligned for us on our entire trip, everything falling into place at every turn. Life was good!

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We were on our way to the airport in Oakland with plenty of time to stop and grab a quick bite before heading home, so we decided to stop at the Ferry Building Marketplace on the San Francisco waterfront, which offers a great variety of restaurants to choose from. We arrived to find the streets lined with parked cars, meters and gaggles of tourists. Parking is always an issue in San Francisco, but with the way this trip was going, surely this day would be a different story? We drove along Market Street and, VOILÀ, found a totally rock-star spot at the front of a long line of parked vehicles. We deposited our coins, which provided us exactly an hour for a quick lunch, and then off to the airport.

Perusing the many restaurants and their wares, we all settled on different sites to soothe our senses. Mosaic’s Melinda Redman had her eyes set on Fish-n-Chips, and thus began our gourmet treasure hunt. What better way to end a great trip than with a cold beer and some of the local digs? Appetites sated. Then it was time to regroup and head to the car. Jeremy Parzen would be first to arrive at the car, with his lovely (new) fiancée, Tracie B, in tow. Uh-oh… something was amiss — and I just typed the word TOW! The long line of cars were all being towed, one by one, with ours being at the front of the line and freshly departed.

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It turns out that there was a sign posted behind our parking spot that said this lane was changed to “No Parking” during rush hour traffic after 3 pm. Here we were at 3:23 pm and our rental car had been towed! Our flight was at 5:55pm, across the water in Oakland, and now we had to deal with recovering our car and belongings. GREAT!

As city planning and efficiency would have it, the City of San Francisco has streamlined its bustling towing prowess by having the impound located just a few short, almost convenient, miles from this bustling tourist hotspot. A quick $10 cab ride and we might just be able to make our flight. Our skilled and compassionate cabbie was more than accommodating and seemed to share in our frustration of such an exasperating situation, as he had obviously witnessed plenty of these transgressions in his day. He assured us that the process would be quick, but that we would probably have to shell out $100-120. Those fish-n-chips were getting more and more expensive, and weren’t sitting quite so well. Arriving at the enormous impound, we scurried to the entrance, to find window after window after window of customer service personnel anxiously waiting to “help.”

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Gracing our window was a cheerful city employee ready to assist. She gleefully pulled up our account and surveyed the charges. “Your charges today will be $286.60.” WTF?!! There’s nothing like that hollow feeling of helplessness and anxiety, but we would have to power through! We have a plane to catch and missing the last flight out would certainly cost more than $286.60, with hotel, etc. I convulsingly handed over my credit card to move on through this speed bump of a situation. Just get me outta here I thought, before I say something that will get me in trouble and keep us stuck in the city (possibly even in jail). A disingenuous smile and a “thank you very much,” and we proceeded to the lockup attendant, who was ready to take my receipt and pull our vehicle around like an award-winning valet from any top-notch fine dining restaurant in the country, only much surlier.

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Our rental chariot arrives, devoid of any pomp and/or circumstance befitting such lofty expense. We had hoped for a ticker-tape greeting, or at least some kind of a homeless brass band concerto. Nothing! We hopped into our vehicle, ready to depart with just enough time to make it to the airport for our flight. But wait, there would be one last surprise for us. A shiny yellow parking ticket, gleaming in the setting sunlight of the day. Cost: $70! 

San Francisco tow truck experience… Priceless! Thank you, San Francisco Department of Tourism. This poignant little tip o’ the hat is a bargain at twice the price! Well, perhaps not…

Some day we’ll be able to laugh about this. Or will we?

Click here for instructions on what to do if your car is towed in San Francisco. If you do not retrieve your car before 4 hours, more charges apply.

Kermit Lynch: Good wine is a necessity of life for me

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Above: Owners of Mosaic Wine Group Melinda and Dan Redman with Kermit Lynch (center) at the pre-portfolio-tasting dinner on Sunday night in San Francisco.

“Good wine is a necessity of life for me.”

—Thomas Jefferson

Were truer words ever spoken? These sacred words adorn every bottle enshrined with the Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant label, and this message rings through in the life, vision and empire of one of the wine worlds most impassioned and respected wine importers, Kermit Lynch.

Mosaic Wine Group spent a memorable weekend in California, culminating in the opportunity to spend time with this legend of the wine industry, Kermit Lynch. We had the pleasure of enjoying an incredible dinner with the Kermit Lynch team in San Francisco at a wonderful restaurant called, Jardinière, then perused through many of the current releases in the portfolio at a trade tasting event. Kermit is (among many things) a wine importer, retailer, winemaker, author, and musician. His first book, Adventures on the Wine Route, is a must read for anyone in the wine industry, and anyone interested in how a self-described hippie helped to revolutionize French wine and its accessibility in the United States.

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Above: the floor of the Kermit Lynch wine shop, in Berkeley, California (photo courtesy Inspiring Thirst).

Kermit Lynch opened his retail shop in Berkeley, California in 1972. Passionate about French wine, he was dedicated to supporting producers who represented the best of their region and appellation, but above all whose wines were pure, with minimal external influence and/or manipulation. Kermit’s quest, as he describes, took a most important turn in 1973, when he was invited to join one of his importers on his annual buying trip to Burgundy. During this trip, Kermit met countless farmers, winemakers and négociants interested in having their wines represented in the US.

Wine Importers are a dime a dozen these days. Walk the aisles of your local retailers shelves and simply look at the back labels of any French, Italian, Spanish and any other non-domestic wine — you’ll see what I mean. There are just so many wines out there in the world, and so many individuals looking to capitalize on bringing in “the next big thing.” This is the antithesis of Kermit Lynch’s message and mantra. The goal of a Kermit Lynch labeled wine is to give an introduction to the producer and their product with this prized emblem. A consumer should know when seeing a Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant logo on a bottle that this is a producer who has earned the respect to carry the logo, and therefore the wines will represent a pure and natural winemaking style, true to the region and varietal.

kermit_lynch_bookThe Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant portfolio is loaded with prized producers from all across France, including wineries like Vieux Télégraphe, Domaine Tempier, Auguste Clape, Marcel Lapierre, Coche Dury, Francois Raveneau and many, many others. The story of Kermit Lynch does not begin or end with representing the wines from these producers, but of walking the vineyards, tasting each barrel and being very involved in almost every aspect of the life and development of each wine. This story has been well documented in Adventures on the Wine Route when Kermit Lynch describes arguing with one of his most acclaimed producers about only representing his wines if they remained unfiltered.

Among the press and accolades Kermit Lynch has earned, he has received the most prized insignia of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French government in 2005, as well as the Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole medal and Wine Professional of the Year by the James Beard Foundation.  

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Kermit Lynch is well respected for his incredible portfolio of wines, which Mosaic Wine Group is very pleased to represent in the state of Texas. At the helm in the national sales office at Kermit Lynch is Bruce Neyers (above), who began his journey with KLWM in 1992, after a long journey with Joseph Phelps Winery in Napa Valley. Bruce’s knowledge, expertise and business prowess has helped to expand the Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant portfolio across the US and been of great influence in maintaining elite status as one of the top importers of French (and now Italian) wine. In addition to running the national sales office for KLWM, Bruce also represents an incredible portfolio of Napa and Sonoma, under his own Neyers label (which Mosaic Wine Group also proudly represents in the state of Texas). 

We’re hoping to see a glimpse of Kermit Lynch in this year when he tours the states in support of his new music CD, his second offering of his music. Stay tuned for more details. For more information on the Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant portfolio, check out Kermit’s blog or contact Mosaic Wine Group for support.

Check out Jeremy’s post Red, white, and sparkling carpet at Kermit Lynch tasting.

Rockin’ the wines of Arizona with Maynard James Keenan

Here’s the link to the documentary on Maynard and Eric and their wines.

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Above: from left, winemaker Eric Glomski, national sales manager Paula Woolsey, Mosaic Wine Group founder Dan Redman, and winemaker Maynard James Keenan at the Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona.

Mosaic Wine Group kicked off their newest business relationship with Maynard James Keenan and Eric Glomski of Arizona Stronghold, Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards, traversing the vineyards of the Northern Arizona Highlands. We first met these visionaries of the Arizona wine scene in Texas when they were on a tour of the US  introducing their wines and signing bottles through Whole Foods Market. This wine project is a collaboration of two passionate and pioneering souls — Maynard (legendary frontman for iconic rock bands TOOL, A Perfect Circle and his latest endeavor, Puscifer) and Eric Glomski (former winemaker at David Bruce Winery). The two met and became immediately driven to produce world-class fine wine from the soils and micro-climates that Arizona provides.

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Above: high altitude, cool temperatures, limestone soils and the canyon breezes created by the presence of an ancient lake bed make for ideal conditions for growing fine-wine grapes. The canopy at the top of this Grenache vineyard has already begun to develop while the lower-lying plants are taking much longer — a great example, winemaker Eric Glomski pointed out, of the area’s unique micro-climates.

While touring the vineyard properties and winemaking facilities with Maynard and Eric, we immediately understood why this was a special place, capable of producing wines that we could stand on our soapbox and be proud to sell. Ascending the winding roads into the mountains two hours north of Phoenix (near Sedona), we were able to see for ourselves what this team saw in the soils of Arizona. For those of us who once considered Arizona to be marred by desert conditions, too hot and dry for grape vines of any consideration or consequence — take off your blinders and come see for yourselves! These sites are characterized by limestone and volcanic soils, average elevations of 4,000 ft. above sea level and climatic conditions that are conducive to Rhone, Bordeaux and Italian varietals.

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Above: Maynard James Keenan practices integrated farming at his top growing sites, where fig trees and plum trees are planted in growing sites adjacent to his vineyards.

Enter Maynard James Keenan and Eric Glomski. Maynard has an immense passion for wine and an eye for wines with acidity, balance and soul. Eric Glomski honed his winemaking skills with Pinot Noir, one of the most difficult, fickle grapes to grow and produce. Together, they set out to produce varietals that made sense to them with the terroir of Arizona. Red Grapes include Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Mourverdre, Petit Syrah (and currently searching for a few others). White Grapes currently planted include Malvasia Bianca, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and a unique varietal that Maynard named “Aurelia,” which was discovered in the area and for which Maynard & Eric are currently propagating to plant in the vineyards.

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Above: as is clear from viewing the strata of the subsoil, the growing sites are rich with limestone, ideal for growing fine-wine grapes. Dan and Maynard are touring Maynard’s top vineyard, where Cabernet Sauvignon is grown for Caduceus “Judith,” named after Maynard’s mother.

There are three distinctive labels from Maynard and Eric: Arizona Stronghold, Caduceus Cellars, and Merkin Vineyards. While the real fabric of this story is all about Arizona, the team set out to produce a line of wines to help set the stage as these vineyards develop and production increases, thus also producing a handful of wines from California vineyards in Paso Robles. The wines are primarily blends that will please the most savvy of wine lover, while also pleasing the novice consumer seeking fulfillment with all the bells and whistles. The common thread with these wines is a brilliant backbone of acidity and minerality that frames the structure, concentration and depth of each wine.

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Above: from left, Eric, Paula, Maynard and Dan barrel taste together.

Mosaic Wine Group is honored to be working with these incredible pioneers of the wine industry. We hope that you’ll seek these wines out and help us to tell the story of this visionary team of Maynard James Keenan and Eric Glomski. And stay tuned for more great news to come, including a full-length documentary on this project, called “Blood to Wine,” poised for release later this year. We’ll be posting updates as they become available.

These wines will be available soon in Texas and other markets throughout the US. Please contact us for more information, or to learn more about this incredible wine project.

Paolo Cantele takes Austin by storm

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Above: Our friend Paolo Cantele bears a striking resemblance to actor Gary Oldman. Coincidence? Or NOT?

Our good friend and one of our favorite Italian wine dudes, Paolo Cantele of the Cantele Winery (Puglia, Italy), has been visiting Texas over the last few days, showing his wines and visiting accounts. That’s him above, in a pensive moment, at Vino Vino in Austin, where the Cantele Rosato, made from 100% Negroamaro grapes, will be featured at the upcoming Pink Fest (Saturday, May 30).

Paolo’s wines are characterized by their freshness and bright acidity, which he attributes to the fact that Salento where his family makes its wines is located at the very tip of the heel of the boot, at the top of the Mediterranean Basin, where cool evenings and ideal ventilation make for excellent growing and ripening conditions.

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Above: Paolo’s wines are not currently supported by Ginny’s Little Longhorn honky tonk in Austin, TX, but he did enjoy a lively round of Chicken Sh*t Bingo there the other night when he arrived from Lecce, Italy.

Ginny’s Little Longhorn
5434 Burnet Rd
Austin TX 78756
512-458-1813

Not wanting him to miss out on the local character and color of our beloved hometown and home base, Austin, TX (Music Capital USA), we took him to play Chicken Sh*t Bingo at our favorite honky tonk, Ginny’s Little Longhorn, on Burnet Road. Yes, chicken sh*t bingo: you bet on a number and the everyone waits for the chicken to… well… YOU KNOW!

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Above: That’s Ginny, the venue’s namesake, owner, and beloved Austin personage.

Ginny’s is one of our favorite spots for music and Sunday afternoons, one of Austin’s top country acts, Dale Watson, usually appears and announces the winning numbers.

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Above: The money shot — literally! John Waters would be proud, don’t you think?

Romano Dal Forno: the innovative King of Amarone

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Above: The Romano Dal Forno label is one of Amarone’s most iconic.

Expectations were extremely high when Mosaic Wine Group visited one the world’s most highly coveted and sought-after wineries, Dal Forno Romano, in the Valpolicella region of the Veneto. The Dal Forno family has been growing grapes in the Val d’Illasi for four generations, and established the Dal Forno Romano label in 1983. The winery has long been regarded as the top Amarone and Valpolicella producer in the Veneto, and lauded by the press with tremendous accolades year after year. Having visited some of the top chateaus in Bordeaux, and many other of the self-appointed best & brightest producers from other great wine regions throughout the world, there was an air of uncertainty as to what Dal Forno could possibly have to offer.

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Above: Michele Dal Forno (center), Deena DiMasi Miskiel (left, National Sales Manager Vias Imports), and Michele’s father Romano dal Forno (right).

We were initially greeted by Michele Dal Forno, one of founder Romano Dal Forno’s three sons, who is involved in the daily operations of the winery. It didn’t take long for us to figure out why this property is so highly regarded. We walked into the production facility, filled with shiny stainless steel tanks of various shapes and sizes, which at first glance was just like every other winery we’ve ever visited. We soon began to learn about the innovative mind of Romano Dal Forno and how he would change the way that his wines would be produced by tweaking the design of traditional methodology. Every piece of equipment had not only a purpose, but an efficiency and simplicity to make the best wines possible with minimal interference and/or manipulation. These innovations included computerized and integrated climatic controls, panels for cleaning, stabilizing and moving wines from tanks and Dal Forno designed stainless steel punch-down pads in every tank, etc. It was an impressive way to start a winery tour.

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Above: Romano Dal Forno personally conceived and designed the unique ventilation system at his winery. The fans are mounted on rollers that move slowly from one side of the room to the other when activated by a computer that monitors the temperature and humidity of the room.

Then we walked into another room of the expansive estate, a room designed solely for the drying of grapes. The grapes of Amarone have always been dried for concentrating the complex flavors and aromas of Amarone, but as of the 2002 vintage Dal Forno has also utilized drying for their incredible Valpolicella. Once again, we were greeted with the innovation of Romano Dal Forno, who designed a specialized computer-controlled system to help with the consistent drying of the grapes.

We then took a stroll underground to the cellars of Dal Forno. Two floors below ground, we could feel the drop in temperature as we entered the pristine barrel room of Dal Forno. Here, in the cellar, we caught up with Romano Dal Forno who speaks very little English. We could see and hear the passion of this innovative man, and with the assistance of our trusty translator, Jeremy Parzen, we could relate to his stories as if we were there to live them ourselves.

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Above: Jeremy Parzen (center) translates with 2007 Dal Forno Amarone in hand for Romano Dal Forno (right), as Mosaic founder Dan Redman looks on.

Romano told detailed stories of great vintages, of his grandmother’s influence on his life, and of the tragic 2007 vintage, which was destined for legendary status until a devastating hail storm hit the region on August 30th, 2007. Our collective jaws dropped as we listened to how there would be no 2007 Amarone from Dal Forno, and only a very small amount of Valpolicella. Given the aforementioned innovations that we saw within the winery, we could almost feel that the cogs were in motion for a Romano Dal Forno design to protect his vineyards from any future issues from Mother Nature.

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Above: Barrel tasting with Romano Dal Forno. Alfonso Cevola (right), Italian Wine Director Glazer’s, looks on.

We also had the pleasure of barrel-tasting three great wines from Dal Forno — the 2006 Valpolicella, the (hail-plagued) 2007 Valpolicella and the breathtaking 2006 Amarone. Each wine was complex, rich and concentrated with intense aromas and flavors that would resolve themselves with gentle care and time to develop. For Valpolicella, younger vines including Corvina and Rondinella are utilized; the grapes are then dried for 30 days; barrel aged for 3 years, then an additional year in bottle before release. The decadent Amarones of Dal Forno are produced from older vines; the grapes are dried for 3 months; aged in barrique for 3 years, then in bottle for an additional year before release.   A third, sweet wine is produced only in great vintages – a sweet red, passito wine, called Vigne Sere.

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We discovered on our visit exactly why Dal Forno Romano has been crowned the well-deserved King of Amarone! Bravo!

Traversing Venice with Team Gianola

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Above: The Grand Canal in Venice.

Dan & Melinda Redman dove into their trip to Italy with a visit to Venice and spent some time with good friends, Antonio and Melissa Gianola. It was our first trip to picturesque Venice, but it certainly will not be our last! The city is a labyrinth of cobblestone streets, canals and historic buildings — traversable aground only by foot.

Venice stretches across 118 small islands in the Northeast of Italy in the Adriatic Sea. The city is alive with incredible history, culture and an energy from a constant swell of tourism. Famous for it’s intricate system of canals and bridges that intertwine with centuries-old architecture, it’s painfully easy to get lost in the city.

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Team Gianola: Antonio and Melissa.

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Team Redman: Dan and Melinda.

We spent three wonderful days in Venice and shared some great adventures with Antonio & Melissa, who were on their 6th trip to the city. We were lucky to be able to see the city with these crafty, veteran newlyweds who introduced us to a few of their favorite cafés, restaurants and shops. We dined al fresco on patios situated along the Grand Canal; laughed; consumed our first spritz (a traditional Venetian cocktail of Aperol liqueur and Prosecco, garnished with a slice of orange and an olive); laughed some more, and perused some of the many wonderful shops of Venice.

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Above: La Cantina, a great place for an afternoon Spritz!

La Cantina
San Polo 970/A
30125 Venezia (VE)
041 5235042‎

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Above: Patio dining on the Grand Canal at Trattoria Povoledo.

Trattoria Povoledo
Lista di Spagna 122/Q
30121 Venezia (VE)
041 716038

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Above: We were also able to meet up with another couple, the coincidentally newly-wedded Mike & Gretchen Sammons and had a wonderfully memorable dinner.

We had an incredible time in Venice and will most certainly be back. From Venice, we were off to Verona for VinItaly and visiting wineries with a separate contingent from Texas. Good times were had by all.

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Above: The famed gondole of Venice at Sunset.

Thank you, Team Gianola! And thank you, Italy! Feel free to contact us when you’re ready to make a trip to Venice. We’ll be happy to offer suggestions, or come along to act as your tour guide, like Antonio & Melissa did for us! 

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