Amador County, Casino Mine Ranch, Grenache, Mourvedre, Pot Roast, Wine

Our Wine of the Week: Casino Mine Ranch Simone 2018

This week, our Wine of the Week was an easy choice. Not that any of the other wines were bad, but the Casino Mine Ranch Simone 2018 was hands down the best of the week. We have been fans of Casino Mine Ranch and their entire portfolio of wines since our first visit a little over a year ago. We were so impressed, we even wrote about it

The Simone wine is a tribute to Simone Vanophem Shaw, who founded the ranch in 1936. Simone is Great Aunt to Rich and Jim Merryman, the current owners of the ranch. Simone’s is a fascinating life story, filled with adventure and elegance; from living with her father at his Alaskan fold mine, to jet-setting to New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and other glamorous destinations, to later buying and managing this beautiful, rugged ranch property in Amador County. The Simone wine embodies the lady. As the Casino Mine Ranch website describes it:

“Like its namesake, it’s elegant yet tough, and brims with joie de vivre. It’s a wine for feasting, both opulent and earthy, best enjoyed while wearing dungarees and boots. Or, alternately, diamonds, furs, and pearls.”

The Casino Mine Ranch Simone 2018 is a blend of 57% Mourvèdre and 43% Grenache Noir. As with all of their wines, Simone is made with 100% estate grown fruit. It is a rich, lush, powerhouse of a wine, perfect for cold winter nights and pot roast. 

Ruby color. Aromas of raspberry, cherry, and smoke. On the palate, flavors of blackberry bramble, raspberry, cherry, cola, tobacco, white pepper, and smoke. Medium body, lively acidity, and smooth tannins. Magical paired with pot roast.

We wish we could have met Simone, we know we would have loved her. But at least we can enjoy the wine made and named in her honor. 

What was your wine of the week?


  • By Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael-Reynolds
  • Photo Credit: Robyn Raphael-Reynolds

Famille Sadel, Grenache, GSM, Mourvedre, Rhone, syrah, Vacqueyras, Vin Sadel, Wine

Review: Famille Sadel Vacqueyras 2015

The Sadel family is passionate about fine wine. Famille Sadel founder and president Alexandre Sadel established Vin Sadel in Bordeaux in 2014, and has since expanded to the Rhône Valley in southern France. The first family estate is located in Saint Émilion, the famous right bank village in Bordeaux, known for world class Merlot-based red blends. Moving south, the Sadel family chose Vacqueyras, in the Rhône Valley, to produce their next line of wines. This multi-generation wine producing family believes that making great wine takes skill, but is also an art form. We couldn’t agree more! The family approach to wine making is based on three fundamental principles:

“First, we select each plot and each grape variety. Then, our Cellar Manager collaborates for each cuvée at the birth of a new masterpiece, the assembly of which guarantees the complexity. Finally, each vintage is vinified, then elevated with patience and compassion.” – Vin Sadel Website

Understanding the importance of terroir in the winemaking process, and the unique identity of each plot of vines, the family selects the finest grapes each year for use in their wines. Their goal is to achieve excellence in each vintage, that is consistent year after year. This is achieved by the knowledge of each vineyard plot, and the great care that goes into tending those vines.

The Vin Sadel portfolio is broad and impressive. They range from bold Bordeaux Rouge wines, like the Montagne Saint-Émilion, composed of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot, to a crisp Bordeaux Blanc, a 100% Sauvignon Blanc white wine. There are Rhône Valley reds and whites from Côtes du Rhône,  and reds from Vacqueyras, and Gigondas. Rounding out the selections are a Rosé de Provence and, in collaboration with a Burgundian winegrower, a Macon-Villages Chardonnay.

With an impressive lineup like this, when we were given the opportunity to sample the Famille Sadel Vacqueyras, there was no hesitation in our gladly accepting!

The wine presented here is a media sample, offered for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. No other compensation was received.

Famille Sadel Vacqueyras 2015


A traditional GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) Rhône blend. Pours brick red, then fills the decanter with a deep, rich, burgundy color. Initial aromas burst from the bottle with ripe blackberry, black cherry, with a bouquet of fresh cut lavender. As it opens up in the decanter, raspberry and mineral notes emerge. On the palate, bright flavors of raspberry, bing cherry, and blueberry, with licorice, tobacco, smoke, and mineral. Layers of depth and structure mingle with medium, firm tannins and bright, lively acidity. The finish lingers long with red fruit, spice, and chocolate. Excellent food-pairing wine, great with grilled chicken thighs and corn on the cob.

Though relatively young, especially in French winemaking terms, Famille Sadel in making a very positive impression and is gaining in popularity. Their Vacqueyras certainly impressed us! Not widely available yet in the United States – they only recently began distribution here – be sure to look for their labels. If you just can’t wait, and happen to be in Paris, you can stop by their wine shop, Maison Givas, located at 6 rue Vauvilliers, 75001 Paris.


  • By Kent Reynolds, with creative inspiration from Robyn Raphael

Contra Costa County, Lucca, Lucca Winery, Mourvedre, Wine

Tiramisu Wine! A Review of Lucca Mourvedre 2012

Sometimes, spontaneous is the best. Hidden gems and delightful surprises await when you go with the flow and live in the moment. Planning is nice, but being adventurous and open to whatever comes along is exciting and rewarding!

Recently I found myself as a last-minute guest at a neighborhood barbecue. The only person I knew there was the one who invited me, but these were her neighbors, her friends, so I knew I’d have a good time. Indeed I did! Among the amazing people I met were Bob and Pauline, (parents of an up-and-coming winemaker who I hope to meet soon, and profile in a future blog post), and the host couple, Joe and Lorry. Joe is quite an engaging character; immediately lovable, though he’d probably bristle at my saying so. (He introduced himself to me, with a wry smile, as “your worst nightmare.” How can you not love that?) He is also a generous and attentive host. Throughout most of the evening, I never saw him without a fresh bottle of wine in hand, making the rounds and topping off everyone’s glass. Through Joe’s generosity and hospitality, I tasted a number of delicious wines that night. From values like Gnarly Head Authentic Red, to an absolutely amazing 2001 Médoc (I wish I could recall the label) both the wine and the laughter were flowing!

Lucca Mourvedre
Photo Credit:

Without doubt, the most interesting and surprising wine poured that night was the Lucca Contra Costa County Mourvedre 2012. This is the wine that will forever be known, at least to us, as the “Tiramisu Wine.” The back label describes currants, dark cherries, truffles, and forest floor. While it is true that all those aromas and flavors are present, along with blackberry, black pepper, and spice, with soft, smooth tannins, what impressed us most was the finish. At first lightly cinnamon, then a hint of cocoa. Finally, after a bit of mentally scouring the sensory memory bank, it hit me. Tiramisu! The finish on this wine was tiramisu! Everyone fortunate enough to have some in their glass agreed. I’ve never experienced anything like it, and had we stuck to our original plans for that evening – a quiet dinner in – we would have missed it entirely! Three cheers for spontaneity!

Lucca Winery is located in the Central Valley town of Ripon. Dionisio Lucchesi immigrated from Italy and started farming in the Central Valley Delta, growing grapes, almonds, and apricots. In 1990, his son, Alan, took over operations at Lucchesi Family Farms, in nearby Contra Costa County, and his brother, Mark, started making wine from the family grape crop. Lucca Winery is the result of this family legacy.

Lucca Winery produces several varietal wines and blends, including Carignane, Grenache, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, and of course, Mourvedre. Their wines are affordably priced, and available on their website. Not far from my hometown, Lucca Winery is now on my “must visit soon” list.

If you get your hands on some of these amazing wines, and I hope you do, I’d love to hear what you think.