Your Guide To: Champagne - King of Wines & Wine of Kings

The wine of celebration, the universal pop-and-sigh of triumph, the glimmer of luxury: Champagne (the king of wines) stands alone as a global symbol of joy and prestige. While other sparkling wines pop and fizz, only Champagne is synonymous with Nobility. The unlikely drink of the Parisian café scene exploded into fame and fortune. I’m Maisie, your favorite wine buyer here at Benchmark Wine Group, and I’m honored to be your guide to Champagne. Grapes for high-quality sparkling wine endure a sim

Thanksgiving Thirst: Saucy, Spicey, and Generally Falling Into The Season

No one is ready for it. Of course, Autumn foliage along the East Coast shows us the beauty of letting go. The breezes along the West Coast demonstrate the importance of clarity. Rolling clouds, tumbling fields, and the Heartland remind us that it’s time to pull out all the stops for each other – ready or not. Certainly, Fall is upon us. Between the plaid outfits and impending festivities – we’re here to help you manage the family you’ve yearned to see for the past year, the kin trapped with you

Napa's Newest Glory - The Fairest Creature

The hunt is afoot. Masters of Napa Valley, skilled artisans of Cabernet Sauvignon, internationally acclaimed icons whose prowess in the cellar transcend time, place, and space gathered to craft a new beacon in bottle. Ultra-premium Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon as captured and framed by masters of the craft: Boit Touquette, Philippe Melka, Thomas Rivers Brown, and Michel Rolland. Taste greatness, experience grandeur, and know that the masters of Cabernet Sauvignon craft wines both of place and

Collecting Wine: Those Who Do It, Must Do It.

Here at Benchmark Wine Group, we’re collectors at heart too. Helping collectors build great collections is what we do best, the easiest way possible, one collection at a time. We are constantly bringing in cellars large and small from across the country. A few times a year, we are able to secure world-class collections from some of the country’s greatest wine collectors. The competition for such collections is usually fierce, with the world’s top auction houses and wine consignors all vying to

Performance Under Pressure – Sparkling Wine

The slow hiss of pressure’s gentle release or the sharp pop of a cork’s liberation? Sparkling wine’s effervescent lift sets it apart (dare we say, elevates it) on the global wine stage. Mythologized by Champagne and popularized by Prosecco, lift your glass and savor this abridged but fascinating overview about pressure in a bottle. Obscured by the haze of time and romanticism, we look to France for sparkling wine’s origin story. The Abbey of Saint-Hilaire in Languedoc’s Limoux boasts written re

Collectors 101 - Guigal

There is no denying the Rhone powerhouse that is Guigal. While today they have vineyard plots spread throughout the most reputable areas of the Rhone Valley, their most famous wines lie in the heart of Cote-Rotie; La Mouline, La Landonne, and La Turque. This trilogy is predominantly made from Syrah, though La Mouline and La Turque blend in small percentages of Viognier. All three are voluptuous, intense, and age-worthy and are considered to be some of the most epic wines to come from Cote-Rotie

Special Club Champagne 101

The Champagne region of France is home to nearly 20,000 growers, ranging from large-scaled Champagne houses to small production grower-producers. The large, globally recognized Champagne houses such as Veuve Clicquot and Laurent Perrier make up 87% of the Champagne imported into the US wine market. In comparison, the smaller grower Champagnes only account for about 5% of all imported Champagne. Up until most recent times, the large Champagne houses stole the show, while grower-producers appeale

Thanksgiving's Perfect Wine Pairings

The perfect Thanksgiving day is often a labor of love- every potato is mashed, the turkey is basted to perfection, and your family’s secret ingredient takes that classic green bean casserole to a Michelin-level delicacy. With the utmost time and attention paid to these traditional, heartwarming dishes, why stop there? These expertly cooked dishes deserve to relish in the glory of a perfect wine pairings to take your feast to the next level! We’ve curated a breakdown of the perfect pairings for e

Thanksgiving Wine Pairings & Northern Rhône

Freshly carved turkey, buttery mashed potatoes, herb-filled stuffing, rich cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie- is your mouth watering yet? With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it is safe to say the holiday season is in full force. Just like friends, family, and food on the holidays- we’ve always believed the more wine, the merrier. It’s true- even the simplest of dishes can be hard to pair with the perfect wine. When considering flavor profile and texture- pairing a large holiday meal such a

Winemaker's Perspective: White Wine Production Process •

There’s something immediately refreshing about that first glimpse of harvested white wine grapes. For winemakers, white wine offers immediate satisfaction. These grapes often come onto the crush pad earlier than their black, burgundy, and red counterparts. Glistening with vitality, the production of white wine relies largely on the fruit itself. The clusters need to be ripe, healthy, and handled gently yet quickly. The main aim is to prevent oxidation along the entire process, from grape to mus

Learn About Catalonia's Wines & Wine Regions •

Or, as it is more commonly referred to in English, Catalonia. A region often considered a country within a country, any casual stroll through Barcelona glints at an air of distinct separation. From the coastal Mediterranean warmth along the hills towards the alpine foothills, the culinary and enological possibilities are endless. The Catalunya D.O. (Denominacio d’Origen or Designation of Origen) grows a dizzying array of grapes. Wines are made with Chardonnay, Grenache Blanca, Macabeo, Muscat,

How Red Wine is Made • Step By Step •

After harvest and crush, when the sweet juice of the fruit of the season is at long last captured, the real winemaking begins. Now that the grapes have given up their treasure, winemakers have some choices to make. Let’s start with the crush. Here, in the shaded confines of the winemaker’s lair, cellar work and decisions start with grapes that arrived from harvest and went through destemming (or not), maceration (generally on the skins), and the must (juice + skins) is ready for it’s first one

Smoke Taint - What it Is & How it Affects Grapes and Wine •

As California’s harvest draws down into the safe rest of the cellar, a second year of red and orange wildfire maps blanketed the west coast in a haze of concern…much of it justified. As they say, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” and so rather than fan the flames with murmurs and whispers of a ruined harvest, let’s look at what exactly smoke taint entails, how wineries and wine growers cope, and (most importantly) how you can breathe easy with your bottles. It was a tough year. The 2017 seaso

How To Explore Sonoma's Stunning Bohemian Highway

A 10-mile stretch of winding pavement openly mocks Gelette Burgess who wrote “there are no roads in all Bohemia!” The San Francisco author did rather hit the nail on the head with “one must choose and find one’s own path, be one’s own self, live one’s own life,” and so it’s deep in the heart of the Russian River Valley that we’ll find the truth of the unbothered, adventurous life chosen by many an artist, writer, and winemaker. The Bohemian Highway in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley calls to thos

Winemaker's Perspective: When Are Wine Grapes Ready For Harvest?

Each harvest presents a daunting question: are the grapes ripe yet? It’s a dauntingly vague question because, like beauty, optimal ripeness lies in the eye of the beholder. Or the palate of the beholder… My trusty friend Merriam-Webster defines ripe as ‘fully grown and developed’. (They also include the definition for ripe language, which is fun.) From the vine’s perspective, the goal is to ripen fruit sweet enough to attract birds (who will eat the grapes and leave the seeds along their path

Winemaking 101 - Part III: How To Get Into the Wine Industry

We all knew this moment was coming. You’ve seen your vineyard, you’ve walked through the cellar, and now it is time. If you’re ready to take the dive and get your hands dirty (and your feet wet, to be honest) then this is your post. But, all diving boards are not created equal. You may want to take the 20-foot plunge into full and over time harvest work. Or you may want to dip your does in slowly with a weekend excursion class. As I said in the first post of this series, the world of wine is as

Winemaking 101 - Fermentation & Crafting the "Juice"

We explored how wine is grown in our last discussion. Now we’ll explore how those gorgeous bunches of grapes turn from orbs of promise to barrels of wine. From red to white, sparkling to fortified, winemaking follows a fascinating process of craft and chemistry that mankind began refining in ancient times. Thanks to modern science, we understand what and how fresh grapes turn into complex wines. The first lesson you learn studying wine is that while there are infinite ways to fine tune your win

Winemaking 101 - Part I: Growing Vines in the Vineyard •

So, you like your bottles and glasses, and they like you back. But you want more. From pet vines (tastier than succulents, easier than orchids) to getting your hands wet in the cellar, the world of wine growing and making is vast and astoundingly easy to explore. For ease of exploration and the sheer joy of a field trip, let’s start with where wine is grown. You’ll find vineyards in every state of the continental US. And if it’s dirt you want, don’t limit yourself to only wine grapes. Grapes de

Oenotria: land of wine – invino –

It’s no secret that our Italian container recently landed. As excited as we are to get these wines ready for market, it’s worth a moment to stop and get the lay of the land and appreciate the full magnitude of what we’ve got on hands. The rule when writing about Italian wine is you simply cannot write about all of it. There’s just too much! Not only is the amount of wine made in Italy dizzying/staggering (only France exports more wine to the rest of the globe), but the country has as many wines

Age: So much more than just a number – invino –

You bought that special bottle so long ago. You squirreled it away, secret and safe, for the perfect occasion. The reviews all said that it would be good for “15 to 20 years.” Tonight is the night. After years of hunting, that perfect bottle of 1982 left bank Bordeaux is in your grasp. You swallowed your doubts, grabbed your wallet, and finally the tome of the perfect vintage arrived. Mom always did have a knack for keeping things. Old bell bottoms that saved Halloween that one year, the set o
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