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WineSpeed with Karen MacNeil | Domaine Les Cailloux by Andre Brunel

Veteran wine writer Karen MacNeil shares insights with subscribers in her weekly newsletter, WineSpeed


(Châteauneuf-Du-Pape, Rhône Valley, France) $55

Great Châteauneuf-du-Pape has a lusciousness and beauty that is show stopping. And Les Cailloux (“The Round Rocks”) from the Brunel family is one of the best. Penetrating and intense, it rides on rich waves of ripe dark fruits, violets and white peppery spice. There’s a wildness and energy to this wine, as if something untamed was suddenly unleashed. But there’s also exquisite finesse. Wines of this distinctiveness, at this price, should not be missed.

95 points KM

Available at calwine.com

Trebbiano, called by another name in France, is used to make which of the following French products:

  • A. Jurançon
  • B. Vin Doux Naturel
  • C. Blanquette de Limoux
  • D. Cognac

Scroll down for the answer!


Halloween got us thinking about pumpkins, which led to enticing visions of pumpkin pie. Which led to the question, what’s the best wine to have with pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving? My vote (you really must try this): Tokaji Aszú. Tokaji (pronounced toe KIGH), as it is simply known, is as savory and refreshing as it is sweet. Indeed, the wine may well be the most truly balanced wine in the world for it registers on every sensory dimension—sweet, salty, tart, spicy, bitter, and savory. That’s why it is so good with pumpkin pie which, ditto, is more than just sweet. Great Tokaji has energy and edginess. It’s long and vivid with an appealing spiciness, hints of dried orange peel and apricot, and a rich sappiness in the middle. Try Royal Tokaji Company’s Tokaji Aszú from the famous “First Class” vineyard called Betsek.


Ghost winery is a nickname for a dormant, deserted winery. Although the California wine industry is thriving today, at the turn of the 20th century the combined hardships of Prohibition, phylloxera and the 1929 stock market crash caused many wineries to be abandoned. At one time, there were nearly 100 ghost wineries in the Napa Valley alone. Most of those are now once again in operation.


“The morning I saw it, I bought it. It was beautiful; it was unique; and it cost less than one million dollars.”

That was Peter Michael talking last week in New York City during multiple horizontal and vertical tastings of his wines for a small group of journalists. Continue reading…

“To ride the chaos of harvest is to feel the adrenaline, risk and rush of nature in ways that few people ever get to experience. There are days you get home, and you know for a fact that you couldn’t have done any more because you can barely move. You’ve used every part of your body, your ability to smell, taste, feel and hear, because there isn’t time to make enough decisions any other way.”

-Ashley Trout, owner/winemaker of March Cellars and Vital Wines

D. Trebbiano has many other names reflecting a family of local subtypes, particularly in Italy and France. In France, trebbiano Toscano is also known as ugni blanc, and a thin, neutral-tasting wine made from this grape is used in distillation to make both Cognac and Armagnac. In both of those products, a neutral base wine is considered desirable.


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