Rioja, Spain - Swirl Wine Club

September 2012

riojaOn to Spain we go this month for the Swirl Wine Club! The majority of the wines featured come from Bodegas Olarra, located on the outskirts of Logroño, right in the heart of the Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja and within the prestigious Rioja Alta sub-district. Since it was founded in 1973, Olarra has been characterized by the beauty and complexity of its facilities, known as the Cathedral of Rioja. This bodega (winery) has been able to combine the most modern winemaking techniques with the traditional vinification and ageing processes of Rioja. From their website, “In Olarra we believe that it is by taking perfect care of the grapes that a fine wine is made, so we supervise every detail to the maximum.” In making its wines, Bodegas Olarra only uses those berries which meet a set of strict conditions. Currently, Olarra offers several labels to the market and behind each of these is a wine with its own identity. We hope you enjoy these selections!

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Swirl Wine Club - Brazil, Argentina, and Chile

August 2012

Swirl Wine Club August 2012

Brazil, Argentina, & Chile - Featuring Famiglia Meschini Wines

veevThis month we’re taking Brazil to you and you to Brazil!!  I am absolutely blown away by this product and super excited to share it with you as a little deviation from the norm in this months wine club.  I’ve recently spent time talking with the VeeV founders, Courtney and Carter Reum and am thoroughly impressed by what they have created both as a product and a company.  They basically created a distilled spirit made from exotic natural ingredients like Prickly Pear, Acerola Cherry and the Acai berry (pronounced ah – SIGH – ee) which is arguably the highest antioxidant fruit on the planet.  I am beyond excited in sharing it will you and I hope that you are as elated about it as I am.  I have not come across any liquor like this in my entire life mainly because this is the world’s first Acai spirit.  I encourage you to go online and check out VeeV at and on YouTube. You will find a number of really cool videos and recipes plus see why I am so impressed with their company and their socially responsible and sustainable efforts with renewable energy, rainforest funding, etc.

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Bordeaux, France - Swirl Wine Club

July 2012

mapbordeauxWith over 70 million cases of Bordeaux wine produced each year from over 10,000 estates, Bordeaux is the largest French wine region and is host to over 60 appellations.  For those just venturing into French wines, Bordeaux can be tough to tackle.  French wine labels don't star the leading grapes, only places.  River banks often communicate more about a Bordeaux wine bottle than the chateau itself and a reputation built on luxury wines dominates public perception, when it's the affordable wine segment that makes the bulk of Bordeaux's wine market.  Bordeaux's climate, geography and terroir in general exert an enormous influence on the region's grape scene. Two major styles of wine are famous from Bordeaux; dessert wine and Red Bordeaux. Bordeaux by law must be made from any combination of these 6 varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and (occasionally) Carménère and the style/blend depends on the location of the producer. The influence of Bordeaux stems from its status as the benchmark for its respected style of wine and its very high profile in cellars, wine lists and articles. The majority of winemakers in the ‘new world’ aim to create wines with a Bordeaux style and many achieve this and often surpass the top of Bordeaux. We are so excited to have you enjoy these wines, one which comes from the vintage of the century and others that have been highly rated by Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator! Due note that before enjoying it is imperative to decant these wines, even the whites, for 4 to 12 hours. In fact, some of these may taste even better on the second day. Enjoy!

Cheers from the Swirl Team! Dave, Colleen, Amanda, Adrienne, Jeanette, Torre, Erin, and Lauren

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Paso Robles, California - Swirl Wine Club

June 2012

pasoroblesWe heard you were enjoying California so well we decided not to make you leave :) as this month we travel to Paso Robles! This area is truly set apart by its unique climate and growing conditions that are prime for more than 40 different varietals and over 26,000 acres of vineyards. Underrated by some, the Central Coast is booming and has great fruit and terroir to work with. There are extreme 40 to 50 degree temperature swings from sunrise to sunset, with warm days and very cool nights that enable the grape growers to wait longer to harvest than anywhere else in the sunshine state.  What this results in is fruit that’s as ripe as can be and as delightful as ever on the palate.

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Suisun and Napa Valley, California- May 2012 Swirl Wine Club

map_LWCThis month we travel to America’s pride and joy of winemaking, the Suisun (pronounced Sue Soon) and Napa Valley of California. To the Wappo Indians who first inhabited the valley in the early 1800’s, "Napa" meant a land of plenty. Wild grapes grew in abundance, but it took early settlers such as George Calvert Yount to recognize the valley's potential for cultivating wine grapes. Napa Valley now houses over 400 different wineries! Why is this area so great for making wine? Well, a thing called “microclimate” is particularly important. Cool winds from the Pacific are channeled down the 30 mile long valley bringing significant amounts of fog, taming the heat but still letting through sun to allow photosynthesis. Interestingly enough, the valley begins at a bay and ends at a volcano, Mt St. Helena. Within the volcanic valley there are numerous nooks and crannies that are what grape vines can thrive in. The deprivation of water and the dryness this area receives greatly intensifies the fruit in winemaking. The Suisun Valley may not sound as familiar to some of you, but it is one of the up and coming hot beds of the Napa area. This valley is about 8 miles longs and 3 miles wide, with about 3,000 acres planted with vines. It shares a border with Napa Valley and its climate parallels the cool climate Carneros region that straddles the southern end of Napa and Sonoma. Ledgewood Creek Winery is situated in a perfect position for growing. The sea breeze gives cool temperatures at night, but it receives lots of sunshine during the day because the hills act as a great barrier to the fog. This creates a wide temperature range each day, which is crucial in having a longer hang time and ripening of the grapes.

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Mendoza & Patagonia, Argentina - April 2012 Wine Club



This month we travel to Argentina and visit the areas of Salta, Patagonia, and Mendoza. Argentina is quicky making a name for itself in the wine world and you will understand why after trying these fabulous selections. The Ca' De Calle is a blend you will fall in love with right away with a rich nose, smooth body, and lasting finish. And just in time for spring the Rose blend of Malbec and Merlot is perfect chilled and paired with an herb risotto or lamb. Enjoy your journey!



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Maipo & Casablanca Valley, Chile - Swirl Wine Club

March 2012

Featured Wine - 1st Red
Perez Cruz Carmenere Reserva Limited Edition - $21.99
(2009, Maipo Alto Valley, Chile)

carmenere1The Carmenere grape is considered by many as Chile’s happy mistake. The grape was widely planted in Bordeaux before phylloxera (microscopic pests that destroy grapevines). It was supposed to produce excellent wine, but it ripened late and was susceptible to coulure, a natural condition that can produce extremely low yields. After phylloxera, it was not replanted and interestingly enough, hardly any Carmenere can be found today in Bordeaux. That might have been the last word on Carmenere, had some French scientists visiting Chile in the early 1990s not been troubled by the appearance and character of Chilean merlot. Further studies revealed that in fact much of the Merlot planted in Chile was actually Carmenere! For whatever reason, the Chilean wine industry was phylloxera-free in the late 19th century, and to this day phylloxera has not been found there. And with that, Carmenere has become Chile’s signature grape! The deepest, darkest, purplest of all red grapes needs a long growing season to reach its fullest potential.

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The World of Port - Swirl Wine Club


kopkebrandThere is just something about wine that is full of romance, discovery and adventure.  It’s that feeling of awe when you travel to a country or place you’ve never been before.  You can read all about it and see all the photos, but it’s only when you experience it that you truly take everything in.  This month we venture outside the comfort zone of table wine into the realm of Port.  For the many seasoned Port drinkers, I think you will be extremely pleased with these selections.  For the person new to trying Port, I think this new adventure will be exciting and transforming.  Either way, C.N. Kopke, is one of the best, if not the best Port producers in the world featured this month.  Not only are they one of the best, they are also universally recognized as the first and oldest Port house in Port wine history, celebrating their 374th year of continuous production.  You’ll also notice the label (or lack their of) right away - They still stencil the lettering by hand like they did in the 1600’s!

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Wines of France - Swirl Wine Club


winefrancemapComing out of Switzerland and Eastern France, with a confluence in Lyon, and flowing south to the Mediterranean are the Saone and Rhone Rivers - surrounded by the world-renowned wine regions of Burgundy, Beaujolais, Languedoc and Cote du Rhone.  France is the origin of so many of our world’s varietals that we have to pay honor and highlight region by region on our journey of France.  We hope that you dive even deeper with us as we explore this region at our upcoming “Wines of France” class on Saturday January 28th.  Most of all, we hope you appreciate the motherland and enjoy the fine fruits of their labor!  Vive la France!

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Yakima Valley Wines - Swirl Wine Club

Meek Family Estate Winery

Yakima_Valley_Map_smallThis month we are proud to feature wines from the very unique area of Yakima Valley, in South Central Washington State. We are also proud to announce that our Fall 2012 Wine Trip will be to Washington with many stops in Yakima Valley. The wines featured this month are primarily from Minnesota native and Washington winemaker Michael Meek at Meek Family Estate Winery.  These wines are truly fantastic and we hope that you enjoy and celebrate this wondrous holiday season with cheers!

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Macedonian Wines - Swirl Wine Club

November 2011

I’m willing to bet that you have never had a wine from Macedonia. In fact, I could probably stand on the streets of downtown Minneapolis and not find one person in a month that’s tried wines from Macedonia. This area has been making wine for a very, very long time. This may blow your mind, but scientist point to wine making that dates back to the Neolithic period (about 4000 BC). Beyond science, the most important source of information is the poet Homer. In the Odyssey he states that Maron had offered ten amphorae (a really old-fashioned bottle/vessel) of wine to Ulysses, which was used to intoxicate the Cyclops. The same wine, was favored by the Achaeans during the Trojan campaign. Heck, even Aristotle himself kept a vineyard so why don’t we know more about Macedonian wine? We hope to change that and as far as we know, we are the first to show Macedonian wine to the adventurous wine drinkers of Minnesota! So get ready, drink up and if you actually keep reading, you may store these treasures away for a little longer. These wines are incredible!

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