Category: Featured

November 19th, 2013 by admin

Citimaven 2013 ToroGrape picking season 2013 has ended and it was a difficult year in Toro. Northern Spain had plenty of everything this season. Between the hail and rain, the grapes were put to the test and the best of the best survived. I have a very good feeling about this 2013 vintage of Tinta de Toro.

Most will argue that this year was not one of the best, and climatically speaking, this is true. I’ll argue and even bet how great this vintage will be in the future. Like most outstanding wine vintages, the season dictates how the grapes develop and more importantly, how good the wine will turn out. With the right combination of warmth, sun, and water, grapes will shine and tell a great story in the bottle.

Logo 88x31 CheapOair

I’ve discovered along the way that it’s the harsh seasons that builds character and robustness in grapes, allowing for even better grape evolution and developed tastes way after the season has ended. Ten years from now, I’d like to believe the Gran Reserva I’ve bottled this year will tell us how great of a year 2013 really was!

Some great wines from Toro D.O.
– San Roman
– Numathia

San Roman 2006 Numathia

Posted in Featured, Spain Tagged with: ,

March 25th, 2013 by admin
All my wine travels have a great story and end with a wonderful glass of wine. Quite honestly, southeastern Spain was not on my top places to visit this past winter, but somehow Bacchus, the wine god, made it part of my plans, only to end up providing me with a seductive glass of wine.


Let me share some of the basic characteristics of Jumilla. This region is highly known for more sunshine than rain, reporting approximately 3,000 hours of sunshine annually and an average rainfall that does not exceed 12 inches per year, resulting in some poor inorganic limestone soils. I can personally attest to the warm days and cool nights. I’ll take winter in Jumilla any day over Chicago’s brutal winter.


So what kind of grape is produced in this sunny part of Spain? The predominate grape varietal is Monastrell as it represents approximately 85% of the vines planted. Although this grape can be found in all parts of Spain, it’s abundant and at home along the Mediterranean coast. This special grape varietal is robust enough to survive and thrive under the long summer sun hours. As we drove into Jumilla country, I had Edu pull over so I take a look at the aired soil I’ve heard so much about. Although winter had just started and I saw nothing but naked grape bushes, I was still able to take in the landscape and soil that adds character to the grape.


Posted in Featured, Spain Tagged with:

October 29th, 2012 by admin

Northern Spain’s 2012 wine harvest was stunning. My off‐the‐beaten‐path journey to Navarra and small towns in between Madrid and Pamplona was nothing short of a Grapetackulous season. With the company of amazing friends, Katie from Canada and Mauro from Chile, all things wine and Spain were covered.  One of my finds will be shared at Citimaven’s Yearly Fall Wine Tasting.

Move over Rioja…. you have some completion called Navarra!

Look for Citimaven’s next wine event in your neighborhood

Posted in Featured

April 26th, 2012 by admin

Even after years of spending time in the wine country of northern Spain, I continue to visit Ribera del Duero and fall in love with it every time. This spring was a bit different as I took an unexpected road trip to Ribera del Duero with some very special wine experts. The wine universe put one of Spain’s top leading wine critics in my path: Mr. Andres Proesnsa. I consider him to be the Robert Parker of the Spanish wine world, and although some may argue this, he is no doubt an expert on Spanish wines.

My divine experience with Mr. Proesna was unforgettable… we broke bread together, enjoyed wine, and talked shop. Oh, did I mention the 50+ wines we tasted during an intense 2 hour period? I couldn’t have dreamt up anything better than this experience. Honestly speaking, I found it funny how, in the middle of our conversation, we both smiled at each other and saw nothing but purple…. You know life is good when you share purple lips and teeth.

I invite all Spanish wine lovers to read the electronic version of Mr. Proensa’s wine guide.


Posted in Featured, Spain, Tempranillo

April 22nd, 2011 by admin

I found the perfect marriage between a decadent chocolate cupcake and a velvety apricot Sauternes.

There are no words to describe this culinary climax between my love for chocolate and white wine.

Haut Charmes | Sauternes | 2007 | Appellation Sauternes Controlee | 14% | $23

Molly’s Cupcakes | 2536 North Clark Street | Chicago, IL. | (773) 883-7220 | $3.75

Posted in < $25, Featured, France, Sauternes Tagged with: ,

February 18th, 2011 by admin

Hands down, Layer Cake Shiraz from South Australia was the crowd pleaser!

The dark exotic creamy layers of chocolate notes made the wine stand out from the rest. The University of Chicago Grad students from OMSA and LGBTQ couldn’t get enough of this bottle. Cheers to my new wine newbie’s… Kenneth, Madsion, Jimmy, Kasey, Sasha, Rebecca, Fiyinfolu, Sham, Hussein, Emily, Thandiwe, and Marta.

Let’s do this again!

Posted in < $15, Featured, Shiraz, South Australia

January 15th, 2011 by admin

My Chicago Peeps, winter is only half way through, what better way to stay warm than with a glass of red wine in our PJs all cozy at home.  Next time you make it out of your warm home through the slushy snow, make sure you pick-up any of the 3 bottles of wine:

  1. Valley of the Moon Syrah ||Whole Foods||Intense aromas of blueberries and cedar, exotic, and long  finish
  2. Charles & Charles Blend ||Whole Foods|| Packed with aromas, juicy fruits, and very easy finish
  3. Clos Du Bois Pinot Noir ||Jewel or Binny’s|| Cherry aromas, soft vanilla, and easy to enjoy

Let me know what’s keeping you warm this winter?  Yes, you!

valleyofthemooncharles-n-charles-wineClos du boi

Posted in Featured Tagged with:

January 2nd, 2011 by admin


Goodbye 2010 and thank you for taking the ashtray with you!  Madrid is finally observing the No Smoking Law in Bars/Restaurants/Clubs as of the 1st.  You have no idea what chain smokers are like until you visit Madrid, but that’s no longer the case….let’s see if this last.  As I write this blog at my remote office, a bar down the block from my home, I never noticed the red walls.  This place always had a thick dense layer of smoke, interesting to see the color of the walls and antique portrait that hang so gracefully.  I wonder if the people will look different now that I can see clearly.

I’m keeping my New Year’s Resolution list simple and focused.   Like most of my Twitter wine peeps, I’m looking forward to more wine travels and blogging consistently on my adventures.  Video has always been something I’ve enjoyed and that’s my intention for 2011, upload at least one a month….wish me luck.

On the wine front, I’m starting off the year by doing it up in Ribera del Duero, can’t wait to find new wines in the region, this I’ll make sure to document in video form.  I’m venturing out of my comfort zone and trying new wines that I normally wouldn’t try, even those that have crusty labels and cry out, “don’t drink me!” written all over it.  The things I do for love – I’m ready!

Here’s to a Fabulous 2011 that awaits us!

Posted in Featured

December 22nd, 2010 by admin

I’ve recently been asked, what wines NOT to buy at the grocery store?

The words that came right Last-grapeout of my mouth were, “my mama taught me, if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.”  But wait, as a good techy I always have a way of delivering the bad news in the best possible light.  Here it goes… I’ve listed my top bottom 4 wines to buy at the grocery store:

  1. Gato Negro Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. Jacob’s Creek Merlot
  3. Black Opal Cabernet Sauvignon
  4. Kanga Reserve Shiraz

Have you tried any of the above wines? If so, tell me about it.

Posted in Featured Tagged with:

December 21st, 2010 by admin

Citimaven’s Top 10 Wines for 2010


Thinking of a Holiday Gift? Wines are a great gift idea.  I’ve compiled a list of wines that can suite just about anyone. For family, friends, staff, coworkers, and even your boss, these wines are easy on the wallet and can be found at Binny’s near you.  Listed prices are for the Holiday Season and subject to change.

1.    2009 Apothic Red ($10) – California Blend
2.    2009 Freixenet Carta Nevada Brut Cava($11) – Spain
3.    2009 Kung Fu Riesling White Wine ($11) – Washington
4.    2009 Estancia Pinot Noir ($12) – California
5.    2009 Artezin Zinfandel ($14) – California Blend
6.    2009 Paco & Lola Albarino White Wine ($16) – Spain
7.    2009 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere ($17) – Chile
8.    2006 Rutherford Hill Merlot ($19) – California
9.    2007 Domaine Jean Louis Chave Cotes du Rhone Mon Coeur ($22) -France
10.  2008 Herman Story Syrah Nuts & Bolts ($34) – California

What made your list this year?

1.2009 Apothic Red ($10) – California Blend

2.2009 Kung Fu Riesling White Wine ($11) – Washington

3.2009 Estancia Pinot Noir$12) – California

4.2009 -Artezin Zinfandel ($14) – California Blend

5.2009 Paco & Lola Albarino White Wine ($16) – Spain

6.2009 Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere ($17) – Chile

7.2006 Rutherford Hill Merlot ($19) – California

8.2007 Domaine Jean Louis Chave Cotes du Rhone Mon Coeur ($22) -France

9.2008 Herman Story Syrah Nuts & Bolts ($34) – California

10.2008 Alto Moncayo Granacha ($43) – Spain


























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