Michael Simmons, of BreakThru Beverage (formerly Ben Arnold Beverage)
Michael Simmons, of BreakThru Beverage (formerly Ben Arnold Beverage)

T he force was strong with Michael “Wine-Guy” Simmons on Friday as he introduced each seminar attendee to a galaxy far, far away – namely that of cloned grape varietals.
Simmons, Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and Fine Wine Specialist for BreakThru Beverage, presented 10 wines to the approximately 30 attendees at Wine World Friday night.
Each of the ten wines sampled during the Star Wars-themed seminar were produced from cloned grape varietals, which is to say that the grape vines themselves were selected for specific properties from a “mother vine.” Cloned varietals are often chosen for things such as disease resistance, taste, size etc. but the term is rarely spoken in the layman’s world of wine.
The practice is actually more common that some may think, and Simmons was certainly the man to prove this point. From the originality of the Matchbook “Musque” Chardonnay, to the depth of decadence in Michael David’s 2009 “Sloth” Zinfandel, each pour elicited a unique response on my face. With each new bottle, a background story and thorough explanation of the wine’s story was given which made me sincerely appreciate what I was tasting as opposed to saying “Oh that tastes good.” or “Man, this one is rich and sweet!” The comforting ambiance of Wine World coupled with the sheer enthusiasm of the service, attendees and Simmons, made for a sincerely enriching experience. Each listed wine can be found at Wine World, but if you are looking for the top pick from Mike the Wine-Guy, then go with the Sokol Blosser 2012 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir. If these are the wines you are looking for…. May the force be with you.
-Wes Black
Cheese and Beverage Enthusiast, Aspiring Journalist
Next up for Wine World is their First Friday tasting on March 4th, 5-8PM. You can also follow Michael Simmons on Facebook at Mike Wine-Guy

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Where: Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta, SC
When: Friday, February 26, 2016, 7pm.
Cost: $25 prepaid and $30 at the door,
Here are the wines presented (click to see more):

  1. Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2012
  2. Matchbook “Musque” Chardonnay 2012
  3. Cambria Clone 4 Chardonnay 2014
  4. Galerie “Naissance” Sauvignon Blanc 2014
  5. Cambria Clone 4 Pinot Noir 2014
  6. Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir 2012
  7. Silverado Merlot 2011
  8. Ernie Els Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
  9. Silverado “Geo” Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
  10. Michael David “Sloth” Zinfandel 2009

Here are the detailed wine notes:
Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2012 | California
Blanc de Blancs (white from white) made from Chardonnay is the counterpart to the Blanc de Noirs (white from black), made from Pinot Noir. Blanc de Blancs was the first wine Schramsberg produced in 1965 and was America’s first commercially produced, Chardonnay-based brut sparkling wine. Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs gained international recognition in 1972 when then President Nixon served the wine at the historic “Toast to Peace” in Beijing, China.
The Schramsberg style of Blanc de Blancs is dry and crisp. Small lots of malolactic- and barrel-fermented wines are added for complexity. The wine is aged on the yeast lees in the bottle for about two years prior to disgorgement. With its vibrant, fruitful and crisp nature, this sparkling wine will maintain its freshness, structure and refined finish for many years, even decades following its initial release.
While this wine can be enjoyed by itself as an apéritif, it is also perfect with fresh oysters and other shellfish, crab cakes, ceviche and grilled sea bass. It is also delicious with lemon chicken and Thai curries. Serve with aged Gouda or other hard cheeses and as a counterpoint to soft triple creams.
“The 2012 Blanc de Blancs has bright and fresh aromas of grapefruit, lime, green apple and white apricot. The fragrance of fruit is complemented with hints of yeast, white flowers, spicy ginger and fresh honeycomb. The lime, tangerine and pear flavors are tart and refreshing on entry. The palate is crisp with long lingering acidity.”– Winemakers Keith Hock and Hugh Davies.
100% Chardonnay (64% Napa, 27% Sonoma, 7% Mendocino, 2% Marin North Coast)–From their Website
MB2012MusquesMatchbook “Musque” Chardonnay 2012 | Lake County, California
This 100% Musqué clone 809 is unlike any Chardonnay you have tasted. This distinct clone combines the fragrant aromas and flavors of Muscat with the creamy texture of Chardonnay. The Musque clone is named for the French term meaning both perfumed (‘musky’) and Muscat-like, and indicates that the variety is highly aromatic.
“Our Chardonnay Musqué 809 clone grown in the Giguiere Family’s JK Vineyard lives up to its name. Heady aromas of honeysuckle, poached pear and white peach jump from the glass. The flavors are a lovely mix of oranges and tangerines drizzled in honey. Fresh, bright, crisp yet full-bodied, this delightfully different Chardonnay is a crowd pleaser. Pair with spicy Thai food, creamy chevre on crostini or serve all day long at Thanksgiving. It is the perfect Holiday wine.”–From their Website
Cambria Clone 4 Chardonnay 2014 |
The Clone 4 grapes were sourced from vines planted with grafting material from the original Clone 4 established on our property in 1970. After harvest, the wine was fermented a combination of oak barrels (94%) and stainless steel tanks (6%).
The 2014 vintage was near ideal yet again, characterized by a dry winter and a warmer than average spring & summer. While harvest began relatively early, moderate temperatures and minimal rain allowed for exceptional grapes with ample ripeness, flavor and texture.
The Clone 4 Chardonnay is bright and crisp with fresh citrus, apple and white peach fruit characters. The sur lees aging resulted in a slight fullness on the mid-palate that balances the elegant acidity of the wine.
-Denise Shurtleff, Winemaker
–From their Website
Galerie “Naissance” Sauvignon Blanc 2014 | Oakville, California
2014 Naissance shows tropical notes of pineapple, orange peel, grapefruit, and orange blossom. Full mouth feel with intense in flavors like apricot, orange zest and dry grass. The complexity in flavors and the natural balanced acidity keeps intriguing the palate and promises enjoyable summer soirees and diverse food pairings.
– Winemaker Laura Díaz Muñoz
Clones: 317, 376 (Typical Loire Valley Clones) and 1 (Typical California Clone)
–From their Website
Cambria Clone 4 Pinot Noir 2014 | Santa Maria Valley, California
100% Pinot Noir Clone 4. 7 months in 100% French oak, 23%.
The Clone 4 Pinot Noir is brimming with beautiful red fruit characteristics, with hints of blueberry fruit found in the background. Spice notes of cinnamon and cardamom compliment the slight earthy characters. -Denise Shurtleff, Winemaker
–From their Website
Sokol Blosser Dundee Hills Pinot Noir 2012 | Dundee, Oregon
Our 2012 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir epitomizes everything Sokol Blosser has stood for in nearly 45 years of winegrowing in Oregon. Crafted to be a true expression of terroir from our hillside vines and Jory soil, this wine is made from a low yield crop that is dry-farmed for quality and comprised of grapes that are all from Dijon, Pommard and Wadensvil clones.
The pinot noir grape is highlighted in every bottle — a reflection of our winemaking style, elegant wines that express the pureness of our fruit and terroir. Expressive and bright, this wine showcases flavors of black cherry and raspberry mingling with earth and truffle.
“This was a great vintage. Period. I will likely never see another vintage like this in my lifetime,” says Winemaker Alex Sokol Blosser. “Growing & harvest conditions were ideal as we had a cool, wet spring with a dry, warm summer.”
Pair with: Wild salmon, Ahi tuna, wild game, duck, pork, rack of lamb and filet mignon (or whatever cut you prefer). Our 2012 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir will hold up to the most intense flavors but not overwhelm.
Handpicked, handsorted and carefully destemmed, made with 100% organic grapes, certified by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Fermented for 5-7 days with post-fermentation maceration for 21 days. 100% barrel-aged in French oak for 16 months with 40% new barrels
14.5% ABV. 10-15 year lifespan in a proper cellar. –From their Website
Silverado Merlot 2011 | Napa California
Our Merlot vines are rooted in the foothills of an ancient volcano, Mt. George. These rocky slopes are in a climate sweet spot: close enough to the cool San Pablo Bay to give the wine aromas of rosemary and mint, warm enough to bring out flavors of blackberry and spice. We finish the wine in oak to add a hint of cocoa and a velvety texture. –From their Website
Ernie Els Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 | Stellenbosch, South Africa
Boasting an inky blue black core and explosive purple rim. Extravagant salty-liquorice notes appear on the nose, intertwined with pine kernel, a dash of Madagascan pepper corn and lashes of blueberry fruit. The palate is medium to full-bodied with a firm acidity and supple yet lacy tannins. Elegantly modern with a somewhat towering structure, the wine finally finishes with a sweet fruit guise, a touch of mint and deft yet spicy oak. Five clones of Cabernet Sauvignon were utilized in the production of this wine with CS46C being our most abundant in clonal selection.
Drink over the next 5 – 7 years. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. –From their Website
Silverado “Geo” Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 | Napa California
The 2012 vintage was pure joy. The growing season was moderate with spring and summer being warm, but not challenged with heat spikes. The vines looked full and balanced which fooled most growers and winemakers. As soon as we started to pick, we realized this was going to be a monumentally large harvest. With the con-tinuing moderate weather, we let the fruit mature at an even pace. After the first few pump-overs of fresh wine, we knew that this was going to be a special vintage. The fruit was not overripe, but entirely mature: skins, seeds and pulp. This resulted in a wine that is dark in color, round and powerful. It has bright berry and herb aromas, dense mid palette with good structure and a long finish that encapsulates the essence of barrel and delicious blue and red fruit.–From their Website
Michael David “Sloth” Zinfandel 2009 | Lodi, California
Aromas of summer berries and all spice, followed by flavors of raspberries, chocolate covered cherries, cinnamon, and white pepper. Website

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