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Dragon Vine, a novel by Steven Laine

It has been a year since I have posted to the South Carolina Wine Blog.  However, I was provided with an advance copy of the latest novel by Steven Laine entitled Dragon Vine   for my review.  Mr. Laine writes novels with a wine focused theme and I reviewed Mr. Laine's previous novel Root Cause  in 2019, which I greatly enjoyed. The synopsis of Dragon Vine is as follows: When his father dies in a wildfire, Carmine Cooper takes over the family winery in the middle of harvest, putting his dreams of becoming an architect on hold. He soon finds himself fighting with a vengeful neighbor, blackmailed by a local gang, harassed by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities, and the target of an ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives) investigation. Carmine’s only hope to solve his problems and finish his first solo vintage successfully rests in identifying an unknown grape variety his father grew and made into wine for a quarter century with links to an a
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Dessert Wines

  We enjoy finishing a nice dinner with a small amount of sweet desert wine. Dessert wines can be made from grapes that are naturally high in sugar or grapes that are late harvested to achieve maximum sugar. Then, the fermentation process is cut short, so all of the sugar is not turned into alcohol. Dessert wine can be made from many different grapes, both white and red. We want to highlight three types of dessert wines that we enjoy. They are Moscato, Sauternes and Port. Moscato is a white grape that is naturally high in sugar. The wine made from these grapes is aged in stainless steel. The semi sweet wine has aromas and flavors of pears, peaches and tropical fruit. The alcohol content is low and this is a pleasant finish to a meal of seafood or poultry. Terrific Moscato comes from Italy as well as California.  Bartenura Moscato from Italy is a top seller and we bought this bottle for $11.99 at Total Wine. Sauternes is an exceptional dessert wine from Bordeaux France.

Furman University OlliLife March 2021

Today, March 18, 2021, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Furman University will interact with its members by Zoom in a live version of the OlliLife newsletter.  For the past few years, we have posted a short wine blog in the newsletter and during the past year we have participated in the live zoom versions.  Today, Wine Jane and I will discuss some world regions with excellent values in wine.  Todays presentation will also be available for viewing next week on the Olli @Furman YouTube channel. The three recommended wines mentioned on todays "OlliLife Live" are: Parcelica Grande 2018  Yecla Spain 70% Monastrell,  15% Granacha,  15% Merlot $11.99 Total Wine Phebus Torrontes 2020 Mendozza Argentina  $10.99  Total Wine Famiglia Castellani Chianti Classico Reserva 2015 Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy Red Blend $13.99 Costco

Cardwell Hill Cellars Estate Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2016

 After a recent shopping trip to Total Wine, they enticed me to come back with a 20% off coupon for their winery direct wines.  I wanted to try a new Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, but I think I have previously tried every winery direct Oregon Pinot Noir under $20 in the store and never found one that I would buy again.  So, I decided to search out the winery direct pinots up to $30 since my coupon would get me under $24.  After some online review, I selected Cardwell Hill Cellars Estate Bottled Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2016 ($27.99 reduced to $22.40) and I really made an excellent choice. Caldwell Hill Cellars is owned by a retired Fleur Corp engineer and his wife who love both Oregon and wine.  All of their wines are made with estate grown grapes and they use biodynamic farming practices. Dark cherry aromas greet you from the glass.  A complex taste of cherry, dark cherry, raspberry and spice arrive first, followed by some oak and tannins.  The finish is long.  If you have drunk q

d' Autrefois Prestige Pinot Noir France 2017

We are continuing our search for world wine regions with quality wines at value prices.  One such region is Languedoc-Roussillon in southern France.  This is a large wine producing region stretching along the Mediterranean Sea north of the border with Spain.  One third of all wine from France originates from this area but it is not as well known in the US as other regions.  Languedoc has a past history of producing low cost bulk wines, but that is changing.  Because of this history, the region is less prestigious than other regions and wines can be good quality for less money.   Rhone varieties as well as international varieties of grapes are grown in Languedoc. I love Pinot Noir, especially from the Willamette Valley, Oregon.  The problem is that good quality Pinot Noir is expensive and I do not judge it to be a good use of my resources to spend $30 or more on an ordinary weeknight for a bottle of wine.  So, I am constantly searching for quality Pinot for less than $20.  This led me t

Parcelica Grande 2018

 It has been a little over 3 months since I last posted on this blog.  I have taken that time to enjoy old favorites as well as wines bought directly from wineries.   I needed a break from trying a lot of unfamiliar wines so that I might have something new to write about.   However, now I am planning a live video post for the OlliLife newsletter at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Furman University about value wines from lesser known wine regions and this will require Wine Jane and I to do a lot of research.  Well, someone has to do it! There are few places that have as much affordable quality wine as Spain.  The best known wines from Spain come from areas like Rioja in the northern part of Spain.  However, even greater values can be found further south in the areas bordering the Mediterranean Sea.  One such area is Yecla, about 50 miles inland from the sea.  In the past seven years, I have posted about four wines from Yeccla.  All have been blends of the traditional Spanish  g

Ken Wright Cellars Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2018

 I was aware of the reputation of Ken Wright Cellars for Willamette Valley Pinot Noir but had never tried one of their wines.  The winery is most known for single vineyard Pinot Noirs but their entry level wine is a blend from several vineyards.  When I have looked for wine from Ken Wright, I have either found the single vineyard wines costing more than $60 or I have found the entry level Willamette Valley blend priced significantly higher than the $22 price on the winery website.  One well known wine shop in downtown Greenville actually sells it for $34.  I guess that the wine must be really good to command higher than retail prices. Two things have recently happened.  Costco has a Ken Wright premium Pinot Noir for around $40 and Whole Foods Market has the entry level Willamette Valley Pinot Noir on sale for $22 rather than their usual price of $27.  I chose the entry level Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and I am sure glad that I did. Ken Wright Willamette Valley Pinot Noir has a deep r