All posts by John Selman

John Selman is an Associate Broker, with previous experience as a certified Luxury Agent at Coldwell Banker Global Luxury, and The Agency. John consults with clients, handling the purchase and sales of their homes, dives into the hunt for a great property with the goal of achieving positive equity at close whenever possible, enthusiastically showcases a home for sale to bring out its best features, and truly loves what he gets to do every day. John moved to Engel & Voelkers to take advantage of their global reach in home and select lifestyle offerings, the experience and professionalism of their management and advisors, and E&V’s superlative marketing and support tools. Having grown up around the world, he arrived in the Valley from Canada, 35 years ago, renovated central Phoenix properties during college, and is intimate with the best neighborhoods historically, and those now on the rise. John earned his MBA in marketing from Arizona State University, with an undergraduate focus on biology, finance and computer science, and continued to pursue advanced coursework as an executive. As an e-marketing and sales executive, with stints with IBM and start-ups in San Francisco, Dallas, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Atlanta, New York, La Jolla and LA, his regular relocation home searches provided valuable experiences, both good and bad, and led to his real estate career. John has practiced and taught the Consulting Sales process to the best sales people in business. A former #1 sales executive at IBM, and an instructor of executive education for IBM, he teaches, practices, and practically breathes the Consulting Sales Process. John honed his luxury-specific marketing skills, re-positioning and invigorating his gourmet food and wine shop in downtown Malibu, initially as a side business. As a pioneer in email marketing and blogs, he delivered wine advice and sold rare wine across the country to America’s wealthiest collector's and some of the biggest names in entertainment and business. Running his fine wine boutique, Malibu Village Wines, he consulted with auction houses, and worked with architects, cabinetmakers, contractors, and some of America’s best Realtors designing wine cellars for luxurious estates, and realized that Real Estate was what he wanted to concentrate on in his future. Expanding with a bar and restaurant, he catered to the needs of some of the world's wealthiest business people and celebrities. Having created a shop that was a social hub for the wine community, built a wine clientele around the world, and co-founded the Wine Classic for ChildHelp charity, John decided it was time to move on from technology, food and wine, and focus on real estate- his other lifestyle passion. He enthusiastically enjoys, and irreverently writes about homes, food and wine. He is passionate about all three, loves architecture, grapes, cooking, good renovation, old cars and motorcycles, his family, his Bulldog “Rugby”, and most (but not always all) of his friends. In his rare free time, he coaches paddling sports on Tempe Town Lake, strums a guitar while singing offkey, visits his favorite old ski haunts and complains of aches and pains, avoids anyone carrying a rugby ball or organizing a "tour", travels up and down the coast seeking out great food & wine, looks for water to paddle SUPs or outriggers, and laughs at his dog.

Still Available! Scottsdale Lock-&-Leave Property

$720,000   2,698 sq. ft.
Rare opportunity to own the most popular floor plan single level home in highly sought after guard-gated “7600 Lincoln Drive”. This updated home is light & bright w/an open split plan, sitting in a prime location in the back of the community. Enter thru the courtyard and you are greeted by wood floors, cozy fireplace, plantation shutters & walls of glass. The kitchen offers neutral clean line cabinetry, stainless appliances & center island with seating, open to the family room. The master bath boasts newer cottage style double vanities with separate garden tub & shower. The lush rear grounds are an extension of the living rm with patio, new BBQ area & sparkling private spa. 7600 Lincoln also features a great Community pool, Spa & Tennis Courts. Move in ready!

Click Here to see this Listing’s MLS page.

This link is valid until 2/18/2015Cactus Wren

Paradise Valley Mountainside View Lot- Ready to build!

Opportunity is Knocking! This already permitted and excavated, 2 1/2 acre lot on Mummy Mountain is a remarkable opportunity for someone looking to Invest in Arizona Real Estate or Build the Luxury Estate of their Dreams. The current owners have over $5 Million invested, but are motivated to sell quickly so they have agreed to a huge price reduction. In 2009 GMB appraised the finished Estate at $15 million then did a supplemental appraisal for the lot “as-is” at $5 million. This area of Paradise Valley is surrounded by Mummy Mountain on 3-sides so it is one of the quietest areas in the town. You must walk the property to truly appreciate the Mountain Views by day and the Spectacular City Lights at night. Plans for an Elegant Luxury Estate from renowned Architect Mark Fredstrom are already approved by the town and included. List Price: $1,799,995

Click Here to view this Property’s MLS page.

This link is valid until 2/18/2015.MikeLot2

Allimant Laugner Cremant d’Alsace Rosé , my bargain fave!

Allimant Laugner

Allimant Laugner Cremant d’Alsace Rosé , my bargain fave!

People keep asking me what the name of my favorite bargain sparkling rose was. Well, this is it!This Crémant Rosé is a sparkling wine produced in Alsace by champenoise method, with the juice on the skins just long enough to give the wine a very light pink color, made with 100% Pinot Noir. Aged 11 months before release, it is meant to be consumed while fresh, young and vibrant. This dry but zesty wine will go with many foods but I love it as an aperitif, to be savored. Enjoy its fresh aromas of strawberries and wonderful minerality. This one is easy to drink with the light, creamy bubbles and a crisp, flowery tang.

Allimant Laugner was created in 1724 and now lies in the heart of Alsatian vineyards, in the extreme south of the Bas-Rhin department. The winery is between Strasbourg and Colmar, and just above the famous castle ” The Haut-Koenigsbourg “.

K&L Wines $18.99

I also found this wine on the shelf at Beverages & More but priced at $21.99

A Valentines Caviar Treat


Caviar with Blini and Crème Fraiche for Lovers

Required (for a dozen blini): 40 grams Caviar (1.43 ounces-for those, not quite so sure about caviar try a smaller amount of caviar, more crème fraiche), 1/2 cup crème fraiche, 1 dozen pre-cooked Blini-Thawed.

*Heat blini at 300 degrees for 2 minutes on a non-stick baking sheet.
*Remove from oven
-Top each Blini with 1 heaping teaspoon crème fraiche
-Top crème fraiche with ½ to 1 teaspoon of caviar.
-Feed your loved one by hand while Blini are still warm. 
————-Kiss the fingers that fed you.

Order caviar, a package of blini and a Cowgirl Creamery crème fraiche directly from Beverly Hills Caviar-easy! Their Classic Ossetra is a great buy, and their Royal Ossetra is a well-priced splurge!
As a supplier to leading west coast retailers, they already offer the lowest prices and the best quality I could find (lower than Costco’s Holiday pricing), and this offer makes your pricing even more attractive. 

Beverly Hills Caviar is extending a 5% discount off their wholesale web-site pricing, to my clients.
OFFER CODE: cbplove        (expires Feb 31, 2014)

Use the offer code at checkout after creating your profile for a further 5% off their wholesale pricing. 

If you think you will be a regular shopper, let me know, and I can request that they create a VIP account for you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

FHA Loan Limits drop in January, anxiety and activity now in the $275-$400k range

The expected drop in FHA loan limits has been announced. Properties must be under contract by the end of the year, with the rate registered and locked in, to use the old FHA loan limits, when the house closes in 2014.

Anyone searching or selling in the $275k-$400k range will be in the most affected section of the market, as today’s FHA loan with 3.5 % down would allow the purchase of a home up to $356,959 with only the minimum $10,709 down. Many people will not qualify to take advantage of a 5% down conforming loan. The drop in loan limits will tighten everything up after January 1, and make sellers anxious, so expect a flurry of sales as this takes FHA loans out of the financing for that sector and leaves the Conforming loan limit of $417k as the next limiter/qualifier.

I would expect fewer decent houses to choose from through the first quarter, with old inventory, rejected by others, and fewer properties going to market until the end of the school year.

“FHA has announced that beginning January 1, 2014, the FHA loan limit in Maricopa County single family residence will decrease to a maximum of $271,050 from the current maximum loan limit of $346,250 (the decrease is in effect for all other AZ counties except Coconino). But, what does this mean to you?

With 3.5% down, a buyer will be able to purchase a home for $280,850 or less, with a maximum loan amount of $271,050.00.

This will have a huge impact on buyers and sellers of homes priced between $280k and $400k.  If you can get under contract before the end of December 31, 2013, you can still use the current maximum limit of $346,250. The scrambling starts now for both buyers, and those hoping to sell.”

Low Mortgage Rates: Scaring me with graphs

Lately, I have seen horrifying short-term graphs that show the rise in interest rates this year, and as much as I tell myself its all relative, I get fearful. So this morning, when a mortgage banker displayed the Chart Freddy Mac puts out with the rolling 5-year and 30-year fixed rate averages, I cringed, and then I pondered, and then I laughed, and laughed, and laughed….

When you look at the thirty year graph below, with its slightly bumpy, but steady decline since 1982, you realize that the latest uptick, is just the bump at the tail of that slope. Sure, it looks horrifying when you magnify it, as in the second chart, but it’s still at historical lows for those of us who matured after the mid ’70’s.

I thought back to when I was a little boy, and those dubbed sci-fi movies terrified me with giant magnified ants and scorpions, but that was about the time our nation enjoyed 3% mortgage rates too. Well, those rates have been long gone for decades, and like so many, I am older, wiser and those tricks of magnification don’t scare me any more, unless they fool me with graphs! Boy, do I feel silly.

Of course, looking at the 30-year chart, I realized I also managed to time a move or relocation to coincide with the spikes on that downward slope: 1985, ’88, ’89, ’90, ’95, 2000…so that is a little sad,

Or then again, just another reason to laugh.

The bottom line: Mortgage rates are still looking pretty good compared to the last 30 years of my life.

Freddie Mac 30 YearFreddieMac5Year


















The Dog Portrait

A couple of friends who had never been in the Malibu wine store, asked me about the dog picture at the top of the email, and it occurred to me that a lot of people might not know the story behind the painting that hung in Malibu Village Wines. The two Newfoundlands depicted are Odessa the sitting female, and  my big knock-kneed boy, Amadeus. I had those dogs from 2000 until about 2008, sadly newfs are not usually long lived. Many people who saw my following dogs, Max, Morgan, Ollie, Peyton, and Mercedes, assumed that those were the dogs pictured. A dog lover, with faith in the artist’s ability would have quickly realized that the original two-some were black with a white chest patch, and the others were black and white all over (Called Landseer Newfoundlands, after the English painter of the 1800’s Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, who often painted the dog saving a life or portrayed the children of a wealthy family sprawled on a black and white Newf, and is most famous for his bronze lions at the base of Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square), but many people were understandably confused.

I had grown up with two Newfoundlands as a kid, and it’s hard to find a better breed with a family, or one that gets along in a small space, and with limited exercise needs. They just want to be around their owners, and the females in particular, want to oversee the house, family and any children.

We purchased Amadeus as a 3 month old puppy, shipped to a little old lady in Las Vegas by a mid-west breeder. When the purchaser received her 40 pound puppy, with his giant puppy feet, she panicked, and knew she had to get rid of him before he grew even larger. The large breed rescue people were already trying to talk her into letting them place the dog with someone who had experience with newfs, but she wanted to recover her costs and was advertising the dog in the paper. We drove to her small condo to see the dog.

It’s difficult to hold a fluffy newf puppy that looks like a little bear, without taking it home. Of course, we covered her costs, and brought the very large three month old home with us.

A few months later, we received another call. There was a couple in Phoenix who wanted to find a home for their 6 month old female. I went to see the puppy, with Amadeus in tow, and they bonded. Apparently, they had acquired the dog two months earlier, and shortly after, had taken her with them driving across country to their winter home in Arizona. Halfway to Phoenix, the husband had a heart attack, so the drama, the hospitals and hotels halfway to Phoenix, and the puppy, were just too much. I am not sure if the puppy not being house-broken had caused the attack, or just contributed to the difficulties after. I discovered the lack of house-breaking as soon as we returned home, and an interesting couple of weeks followed.

My new girl, who we named Odessa, was a 6 month old Newfoundland. Few things are more stubborn than a 6 month old female newf, and she had become very set in her ways. It was awfully hard to convince her that grass provided a better toilet than carpet, particularly when we had entered Malibu’s rainy season, and the inside of the house was so much cozier!

We now had two growing newfoundlands, and one major issue. We had moved to Malibu and purchased a house, but were living in the guest house for two months before we could move into the main house. And, the guest house was down the hill, and down a steep flight of stairs, with very shallow treads, covered in Saltillo tile. As I had mentioned, it was a very rainy fall in Malibu, and those stairs were slippery in the rain. Our puppies refused to walk up or down those stairs, and I was forced to throw them over my shoulder and carry them up and down that slick stairway.

Since the puppies were now over or close to 100 pounds and gangly, this was no easy task. And, as they both delighted in drinking copious quantities of water, the trips were frequent.

By now, we had met our neighbors. The couple next door consisted of an artist married to a lobbyist. The couple across the street, Steve and Jen, owned an optical boutique at Cross Creek. As is common in Malibu, everyone loved wine, and Steve and Jen’s patio seemed to be the neighborhood spot to gather for consumption. Two things were determined on that patio. First, that our neighbor Cindy painted dogs, and we would love to have a portrait of Amadeus and Odessa. Second, Jen was “experienced” with dog training and could have our dogs down the stairs in minutes. As we had tried everything we could think of, several times daily for the past month, this was good news.

After at least one bottle of wine had been consumed, Jen showed us her secret…dog treats that were proclaimed to be better than ours! As Jen proceeded to divulge the secret based on proper treat selection, she headed across the street to our stairs and I brought Amadeus up. With the dog at the top of the stairs, Jen set about her magic. I guess that magic had never come up against a stubborn, fearful Newf before.

Amadeus planted both feet firmly, and wouldn’t budge. Not to be stumped by such recalcitrance, Jen held the meaty treat a foot in front of his nose and gave his leash a mighty yank. Off balance and unprepared, Amadeus flew forward, Jen flew back, and things were set in motion. Jen recovered a few steps down, and watched Amadeus slide past her, slipping down the stairs with his front legs straight ahead and his rear ones straight back, looking much like a polar bear rug as he crashed down the entire run of stairs and came to rest on the landing up against the wall.

Amadeus never went near those stairs again, except over my shoulder.

Equally motivated was Cindy the artist. She came up with a price that we gasped at, although it was considerably less than the many thousands of dollars a Malibu Gallery would ask for such a work. She took pictures of the two dogs interacting for nearly a month, but there was no mention of a timetable for the portrait project, and we despaired of it ever coming to happen. A few weeks later, several bottles of wine were consumed, before the neighborhood dispersed back to their own homes. Even though it was less than a hundred feet between all the houses, we were concerned that everyone walk home safely, as the wine tasting had gone well past the tasting stage.

I was shocked when I pulled out of the silent neighborhood early the next morning to head into a meeting and saw a large canvas by my neighbors’ front door. I can spot a newf from a distance, and that painting was big. Somehow, Cindy had headed home, and while everyone else had crawled into bed, she had headed for the studio, pulled out her photographs and captured the essence of the dogs. The positioning relative to each other, their clumsy passage through our house, their expressions, Amadeus’ constant drool, and his knock-knees. The image depicted everything that made those dogs so special to us.

And that portrait became the calling card for the little shop with the large dogs lying outside (and the price, on reflection, was a bargain).IMG_0030

Alberto Serenelli Afro Marche I.G.T. Barrique 2004

SerenelliAfro MonteCorneroThese bottles were our Friday night delight. We were hoping for a big, rich wine with some old world style and charm, and it brought the goods. This is a great wine choice for someone raised on California or other New World trophy wines who wants to try an Italian red, just a little outside their normal comfort zone. It is immediately likeable, but brings a whole new realm of subtlety and complexity.

Serenelli makes wines in the Rosso Conero wine appellation in the central part of the Marche region of Italy just south of Ancona on the slopes of Monte Conero. Marche itself, lies due east of Tuscany, sandwiched between Umbria and the Adriatic, with Marche’s eastern border being the coastline. The red wine with the DOC designation, has at least 85% of the juice coming from the Montepulciano grape. Sangiovese is often added to the blends, and to a much lesser degree, Merlot. The Afro shows how complex and concentrated Montepulciano from this region can be when it is carefully cultivated.

The Afro’s bouquet offers beautiful notes of cherry liqueur, mixed with an intriguing note of earth, saddle leather and tar. There is a little hint of an “animal” quality to the wine, but it is a “just right” character that makes it interesting, and not the type of “out there” aromas that appeal only to zealots and not mere mortals.

With patience, this big wine opens up and in the mouth shows off red fruits, cedar, raisins and ripe plums. There are noticeable tannins present that add to its weight and substance, and its substantial, velvety mouth-feel. They definitely deliver grip, but the tannins are not mouth drying. We really enjoyed this wine, and it was a huge hit with bassist Ross Valory and keyboardist Jonathan Cain, who both regularly enjoy Barolo, Ripasso and Amarone. Fortunately, we had a lot of this wine to pour!

Ch. Ausone 2000 Magnum

Ch AusoneSaturday night, we pulled out a big bottle of this trophy Bordeaux. Like all of the other famed producers of Bordeaux, who jumped on the Robert Parker style bus, this is a fruit monster compared to older bottling. But, boy is it fun when the bottle is good.

My luck has not always been great with wines from this time frame. As most wine lovers have experienced, badly corked wines were prevalent in the ‘95-‘05 decade, and seem to be on the decline now. Waiting for a wine to mature is frustrating enough, but when one adds in the unpredictability of corking, it can be maddening. One truism is that my corked bottles show up when I have transported them the furthest and a replacement is least likely to be at hand.

Such was not the case! This bottle was perfect. I can best liken it to Jose Andres’ magic with modern tapas. He takes the essence of a tomato or an olive, concentrates the flavors, and delivers it back to the patron as a morsel that looks like it came from a tree, but was actually formed in the kitchen, and delivers a purer, more concentrated taste than could be found in nature.

The precise notes of fresh blueberry, cassis and dry cocoa that this bottle displayed were amazing. Truffley forest floor, the inside of a cigar box, wood shavings and asphalt were all vivid and obvious. Sometimes, with that much fruit and flavor the wine can seem mouth-coating and heavy, but this wine was alive. Laden with flavor, but lively. That’s when you know the acid level is right. And, right at this moment, this may not be a great food wine for pairing, unless your meal is full of grilled meats and vegetables.

But, this is not 1870. How many of us enjoy a three hour meal, discussing the affairs of the world, before we move on to port and cigars? We are far more likely to carve out time around our enjoyment of what’s in our glass, than to worry about our pairing of food and wine. This is a wine that deserves all the attention, and that’s where it shines, under the spotlight. As I have mentioned many times, a wine that is higher in acid and lighter in body, may be the ideal companion to food, but will seem shriller on its own. This is a wine for sipping, and marveling at.

This wine demands no food, it is just there for the enjoyment of a lucky few. Jonathan and Ross were raving about how good it was, and the rest of us agreed. I have to admit that we had been supplied with horrible, thick, Libby water glasses that were a half bowl style, and did nothing to capture the aromas from the wine. I laughed and distributed those, and some of those little glasses we called “tooth brush” glasses, that we used to drink “dago red” from in pasta houses. I showed people how to pull air over the wine, and roll it around for a while, appreciating all the aromas. We didn’t need no stinking wine glasses! (Although it sure would have been nice.)

Eventually, real glasses materialized, but this wine was so rich and spectacular that nothing had been diminished by our in-mouth aeration. If you are going to stay up late into the night solving the problems of the world, this is the wine you want to accompany you. I hadn’t looked at the current bottle price in a while, so I was more than a little shocked when I checked this week. But, man was that good.

Rock ‘n Roll ‘n Wine

Reflections on a few bottles shared with rockers on the road.

I have a bumpy history when it comes to enjoying wine with musicians performing concerts. The wine drinkers are usually great to hang out with, have fabulous stories, and love a good time, people, food and wine. They are usually generous, often gregarious, and a lot of fun. Like most wine lovers, they like to plan events for their friends, and never skimp on quantity. Perhaps, that is the problem. In any group of entertainers, there are always a few in active recovery, so maybe that is where the math goes wrong, because the amount of wine involved can be mind boggling.

I have been present at a few dinners, where a lot of wine was consumed BEFORE the concert, which seems like a hard-core rock approach, but was not, in hind-sight, a wise approach.

Eat, drink, and then go out and Party with the crowd. It sounds great, but I have seen it go awry. The last time, after several palate-cleansing beers in the afternoon, we opened up a couple of three liter bottles for the eight of us (but two of the band were in their own version of recovery and abstaining from “anything other than marijuana” for the tour). It gets hard to control consumption when the wines are appropriately mature, 100-pointers. A sign of good wine and impending doom, is the uttering of the words “There’s wine left? We can’t leave until the wine is gone.” Blowing off the sound-check for that last glass of wine, is a stop on the road to disaster.

The concert got off to a great start with the band in high spirits, and the crowd really appreciating their energy. Things were clicking, and after the fourth song, the lead guitarist decided to rev it up. Chad decided to do a stage-dive off the four foot stage while still strumming fiercely. No one got in his way, or broke his fall, and Chad’s knee didn’t survive the landing. Sadly, that brought an abrupt end to the concert. (The band in this case was The Gracious Few, an American group featuring guitarist Chad Taylor, bassist Patrick Dahlheimer and drummer Chad Gracey from the 90’s best-selling band Live, teaming up with lead vocalist Kevin Martin and guitarist Sean Hennesy from another 90’s giant- Candlebox.)

So, a more sensible approach for slightly older rockers, is to enjoy the wine after the show, when the work is finished. I was lucky enough to share a few wines with the drinking members of Journey after a recent weekend of concert dates, and we opened some great bottles after midnight, that surprised all of us. These guys rest, get ready for the show with some meet and greet events, put on their show, and then think about winding down with wine and food. Funny how things change as we get older!

The Wines:

[button color=”#COLOR_CODE” background=”#COLOR_CODE” size=”medium” src=”″]Read the Alberto Serenelli Afro Marche I.G.T. Barrique 2004 review[/button]

[button color=”#COLOR_CODE” background=”#COLOR_CODE” size=”medium” src=”″]Read the Ch. Ausone 2000 Magnum Review[/button]

Custom Territorial Retreat Above the 11th Hole at Private Troon Country Club

[gdl_gallery title=”GALLERY_TITLE” width=”GALLERY_WIDTH” height=”IMAGE_HEIGHT” galid=”1″ ]
[button color=”#COLOR_CODE” background=”#COLOR_CODE” size=”medium” src=]Click to view Listing[/button]


5,660 square feet

This craftsman-constructed, custom Territorial vacation retreat on its acre lot, overlooking the 11th hole of the private Troon Country Club, can’t be replicated for anything close to this price. An elegantly subtle, yet majestic home, precisely situated above the 11th Green, its views sight down on Mummy Mountain and the North Phoenix Mountains. The house has been placed to gain shaded patios and windows during the day, yet receive full exposure of the pool throughout the winter season. At night, the Golf Course, Mountain and City light views and desert skies are breathtaking.  And, the house sits far back above the Green and away from the direction of approach. You look slightly down as the golfers pass by, but are never exposed to golf balls or inquisitive eyes.

The lot includes a circular drive to the entry, private drive to the 3 car garage, extensive landscaping with retaining walls, stream beds, water features, trees, cactus, flowers and lighting, and a careful harmonizing of the home’s features with the beautiful desert and fairway character of Troon.

The open flexible floorplan offers a main house with formal Living and Dining Room, 3 large en-suite Bedrooms including an extensive view deck off the largest, an office, and the soaring great room with its own large informal dining room, large kitchen, laundry room and outdoor living room all adjacent. The free standing guest casita has its own private patio, living room with beehive fireplace and golf course picture window views, walk-in closet, bathroom with over-sized shower, and an outdoor shower for pool users.

The kitchen & baths offer territorial flair with hand painted tiles, flagstone floors & massive wood beamed accents. The outdoor living area is resort-like with a large, high-roofed conversation area, gas kiva fireplace, negative edge, heated, PebbleTec pool and spa, BBQ area, and multiple view patios.

Best of all, this prime location on the 11th hole of the private Troon Course, adjacent to The Glenn Moor Club, in exclusive guard-gated Glenn Moor at Troon, is close to the shops at Pinnacle Peak and DC Ranch, and minutes from Scottsdale’s best restaurants. Golf and Country Club memberships at Troon CC (not to be confused with the public-accessible Troon North Course) are available but not required with purchase.  Current Glenn Moor HOA fees are very reasonable, and include guard gate, community maintenance, and Club with pool and tennis courts.  A true desert oasis!



Txakoli Rose, my new Basque girl

It’s going to be way over 100 degrees…Where’s my Txakoli Rose?

Once upon a time I dated a Basque girl. She was stunningly pretty, with a great profile, awesome dark hair, and turned me on to her cuisine, BUT NOT TO THE WINE.

GurrutxagaNow, that could have been that it was harder to find a Basque wine than it was to win the lottery, but I remember going with her to a little Basque place near Carmel, with a myriad of strangely written wines on their menu, and we did not venture to try them. I think we had a buttery Chardonnay (and lightning almost struck us as we were leaving in a sudden rain burst, but the causality escaped me at the time).

I didn’t get to explore those rare grapes until about 7 years ago (God, time is flying by). And, as we often say, the wines from the region complement the food! And I went nuts raving about the crisp zinginess of the dry white wines of Txakoli, and how I wanted a healthy slurp with every fried calamari salad I could find, or how I would love to share a bottle with a hunk of sausage, some olives, and a loaf of peasant bread, huddling at the beach while the sun set.

One of my wine-geeky friends, who actually looked and sounded more like a Brooklyn bouncer, but was studying to be a master sommelier with some of LA’s finest wine minds, delighted in reciting to me all the grapes, such as the Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Beltza that grow in the Txakoli region (pronounced “Chak-oh-lee) and its three sub regions: Getaria, Biscay and Alava. And recite he did, over and over, and spelling everything…but it sunk in, and boy, was I hooked.

Generally the wines are lower in alcohol so you can enjoy them copiously in pinxtos and tapas bars. Traditionally, the wine is poured from a foot or more above the glass in order to “break the wine” or as we would say, aerate it. I however, am always reminded of a strange fern bar from the late Seventies called “Dr. Munchies” that used to stay open after-hours serving food, and as I was later told selling other things in the back alley. The waiters always filled the water glasses pouring from high up, and invariably wetting the patrons. I came to believe the waiters were smoking a lot of pot in the alley when they were on break. But when it comes to the wines of Txakoli, the pourers tend to exhibit far more skill, and don’t miss the glass.…

Back to that Rose…

Now, imagine my excitement when I discovered that those fabulous wines of Txakoli also included slightly subtler acidity in magnificent and still very vervey and exciting rose versions!

They are hard to find, but Gurru Txaga and Ameztoi are both imported, (Along with Gorrandone and others I couldn’t find) so ask your retailer who probably just sells their white to get you some. They should run about $20-$25.

They both show you that raspberry, strawberry note found in Provence rose, with a great crispness, zing, and a good dose of minerality including sea salt. I found the Ameztoi a little wilder and quite briny, with a distinct lime note. A little like adding a splash of vichy water to a rose, along with a dry sauvignon zing. But the sum is much better than that , and is absolutely unique to the region. I found the Ameztoi was my favorite, but my friends seemed to prefer the slightly subtler Gurru Txaga, go figure Ameztoi.

At any rate, while the white Txakoli is fabulous with seafood, particularly fried seafood, and fatty sausages or briny olives and pickles, the Rose pairs beautifully with most things off the BBQ. Carmelized chicken, browned meats, grilled veggies, and pizzas from the grill, make an insane treat. If you are feeling lazy, try a regular California Pizza Kitchen BBQ chicken pizza from your grocers freezer section, and pull it out of the oven to serve with a glass of Txakoli rose and a movie. Pretty darn good.

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Crest “H3”, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington

Anytime I come across a fruit driven wine with great acidity and a reasonable amount of complexity in the $10-$15 range, I want to sing its praises.

The Horse Heaven Hills wines remind me a lot of a great Alexander Valley Cabernet, where the tannins ripen and the wine is more approachable than a Napa bottling. The 2010 vintage in Horse Heaven Hills saw a cool summer that required good vineyard management, but a warm September and October ripened the naturally low-yielding vines just before the wet weather set in.

This vintage is phenomenal: not too high in alcohol, with a great acidity, that makes it an elegant, food-friendly, fruit driven, medium-bodied Cabernet. A nose of cherry and rose petals leads to a mouth of silky dark berries, dusted with cocoa and hints of bramble and forest floor. Black cherry and a hint of chocolate complement the soft tannins on the solid finish. 14.5% alc.

97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 1% Cab Franc.

90 points Wine Spectator

“Polished and distinctive, offering chocolate and espresso accents around a supple core of cherry and fresh currant fruit. The finish is well-defined, with a silky feel. Drink now through 2019.” (11/ 2012)

Wine Enthusiast

“This wide-open, flavorful wine is lifted by accents of tobacco and cocoa that sit above the light and pretty cherry flavor. The finish is laden with a mocha note, which provides a pleasing conclusion.” (4/ 2013)


Score the 2010H3 Cabernet before it’s gone:

K&L and Costco…$10.95

Fry’s, Kroger…$12.95


The “Log Mahal”, Majestic Mountain Retreat. 901 N Indian Paintbrush Circle, Payson AZ

901n Indian Paintbrush Back

One of the most magnificent homes in the state is found at The Rim Club.  This spectacular mountain retreat overlooking the 7th hole is known as ”The Log Mahal”. This property is a dream purchase for the ultimate golfer or outdoorsman. Elegantly sprawling over 10,000 sq ft inside, with several thousand feet of deck and patio space,  it features 9 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, full maids’ quarters, 3 full kitchens, an 1800s-style saloon, wine cellar, private elevator, 6 fireplaces, full-size arcade, heated/AC play house and a 6-car garage.

Elegant attention to detail is displayed both inside and out. With 175 year-old reclaimed wood floors, unique, hand-carved doors imported from Mexico & Peru and massive stone work throughout, the property is unique and magnificent.

Of course, Two golf memberships are included with the property. Just a short drive up from Phoenix or Scottsdale, or you can fly your private jet into the Payson Airport and enjoy this STUNNING log home!

$6m901n Indian Paintbrush FR  Learn More about this home at my Coldwell Banker Previews Site

Escaping to Payson’s moderate climate and The Rim Club GC, 401 S Decision Pine


So few people know about Arizona’s geography, with our rim country changing the elevation and weather, running across the middle of this state. Just a magnificent 90 minute drive from either Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, or Scottsdale’s private JetPort, this is a glorious Country Club retreat, almost a mile higher than downtown Phoenix, sitting in a moderate climate.

Inside this 24hr gated community, you are “standing on top of the world” overlooking the fifth hole of the prominent Rim Club Golf Course. This pristine setting showcases golf course views, mountain views and year-round outdoor activities.

Old European style architecture, fantastic walk-in closets, custom cabinets throughout, top-of-the-line audio and alarm systems, a 400+bottle wine cellar and a cook’s kitchen. Master down is split from the other downstairs bedroom; two bedrooms up. Each bedroom includes a private bath. The master bath has heated floors. You are embraced with attention to detail in this picturesque retreat. Optional membership in the Rim Golf Club, with its own spa is available.

4 bedrooms, 5 baths, 3 car garage, 5280 sq ft       $2,500,000      Learn More about this property at my Coldwell Banker Previews Website  DecsionPineBack