Approach Guides Wine http://www.agwine.com Wine App for iPhone & iPad Sat, 01 Feb 2014 23:10:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 Chile’s Special Red Wine: Carmenere http://www.agwine.com/blog/chiles-special-red-wine-carmenere/ http://www.agwine.com/blog/chiles-special-red-wine-carmenere/#comments Thu, 16 May 2013 16:38:33 +0000 http://www.agwine.com/agcp/?p=226

Carmenere is Chile’s quintessential red grape variety.  You don’t know it?  This one is worth getting to know, as it delivers spectacular, full-bodied reds at very attractive price points! We have pulled our review of wines from this grape variety [...]

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Carmenere is Chile’s quintessential red grape variety.  You don’t know it?  This one is worth getting to know, as it delivers spectacular, full-bodied reds at very attractive price points! We have pulled our review of wines from this grape variety directly from our recently-released AG Wine for Chile upgrade.

Carmenère is Chile’s fifth largest production fine grape variety, comprising 10% of red grape vineyard planted area and 7% of total. Originally from France’s Bordeaux, this late-ripening variety performs exceptionally well in Chile’s dry, warm climates, as it requires these conditions to reach full ripeness. Further, since carmenère production has faded in France, Chile is virtually the sole source of wines made from this special grape.

Carmenère is definitely one of our favorites. At its best, it delivers smooth full-bodied wines, packed with huge fruit and savory, spicy notes; flavors include herbs, bell pepper, smoke, coffee, blackcurrants, leather, and tobacco. Acidity levels are low and it is best consumed young. While there are certainly varietally-produced versions, carmenère-based wines often incorporate small amounts of other grape varieties — cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot — to provide structure and acidity.

The best regions for excellent carmenère are Cachapoal (Peumo sub-area), Colchagua (Apalta sub-area), Maipo (Isla de Maipo sub-area), and Maule (Cauquenes and Empedrado sub-areas).

AG Wine for Chile’s wines is now available! AG Wine now supports Chile’s wines, profiling all of the country’s winemaking regions, grape varieties, appellations, and vintages. Best of all: It’s a FREE upgrade for existing AG Wine for iPhone and iPad owners!

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AG Wine Takes on Cannonau http://www.agwine.com/blog/ag-wine-takes-on-cannonau-2/ http://www.agwine.com/blog/ag-wine-takes-on-cannonau-2/#comments Thu, 16 May 2013 16:15:36 +0000 http://www.agwine.com/agcp/?p=223

Anchored off Italy’s west coast, the island of Sardinia offers some distinctive wines at compelling prices. Even familiar grapes — many of which have Spanish origins — take on a unique character as a result of the bright Sardinian sunshine and [...]

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Anchored off Italy’s west coast, the island of Sardinia offers some distinctive wines at compelling prices. Even familiar grapes — many of which have Spanish origins — take on a unique character as a result of the bright Sardinian sunshine and fierce north-blowing sirocco winds that originate in the Sahara. While wines can sometimes lack polish, they more than make up for any deficiencies by delivering a sense of place. It is a great region for the adventurous wine drinker.

Cannonau is a one of the Sardinia’s best options. Better known throughout the world as garnacha or grenache, thick-skinned, late-ripening cannonau yields big, brawny wines. Typically low in acidity and tannins, they offer rich flavors of dark fruit (raspberries and cherries), coffee, licorice and chocolate, often with trademark notes of herb and spice. To put Sardinia’s cannonaus into perspective: they share greater similarities with versions from Spain’s Catalunya than those of France’s southern Rhône, favoring fruit over earth and higher alcohol (often around 15%), characteristics likely attributable to the warmer temperatures. Very flexible reds, they offer exceptional price-value. For the highest quality varietal wines, look for the following Cannonau di Sardegna DOC* sub-areas: Capo Ferrato, Jerzu and Oliena. Cannonau also makes excellent full-bodied dry rosés.

Get the app! Learn about Italian wines on the go with AG Wine! AG Wine for iPhone and iPad profiles all of Italy’s winemaking regions, grape varieties, appellations, and recent vintages.

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Wine from Spain: Carinena (Carignan) http://www.agwine.com/blog/wine-from-spain-carinena-carignan/ http://www.agwine.com/blog/wine-from-spain-carinena-carignan/#comments Thu, 16 May 2013 16:10:16 +0000 http://www.agwine.com/agcp/?p=221

Known as carignan in southern France and bovale grande in Italy’s Sardinia, thick-skinned cariñena (aka mazuelo and samsó) thrives in warm climates, which are required to bring this very late-ripening variety to maturity. It is best known for being a small contributor [...]

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Known as carignan in southern France and bovale grande in Italy’s Sardinia, thick-skinned cariñena (aka mazuelo and samsó) thrives in warm climates, which are required to bring this very late-ripening variety to maturity. It is best known for being a small contributor to the great garnacha-based wines of Catalunya’s Priorat and Montsant DOs; in its supporting role, cariñena adds good acidity, dark coloration and a boost of tannins, coupled with bright, unmistakable blueberry and violet notes. That said, while its traditional role has been as a blending grape, it is just starting to be used on its own to make respectable single-varietal wines in the Rioja, Catalunya and Navarra regions of Spain.

We have pulled this description directly from our AG Wine app for the iPhone and iPod Touch/iTouch.  Download AG Wine now!

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What to drink and where to eat, shop and go in Florence, Italy http://www.agwine.com/blog/what-to-drink-and-where-to-eat-shop-and-go-in-florence-italy/ http://www.agwine.com/blog/what-to-drink-and-where-to-eat-shop-and-go-in-florence-italy/#comments Thu, 16 May 2013 16:08:15 +0000 http://www.agwine.com/agcp/?p=219

While living in Italy, we often went to Florence to take in some serious culture, good shopping and great food and wine. Here are some of our recommendations:

What to Drink

After a long day of sightseeing and shopping, Florence [...]

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While living in Italy, we often went to Florence to take in some serious culture, good shopping and great food and wine. Here are some of our recommendations:

What to Drink

After a long day of sightseeing and shopping, Florence offers the perfect backdrop for a glass or two of Tuscan wine from nearby vineyards. Here are some of our suggestions on what to look for (from our wine guide for the iPhone):

Tuscany’s wine options are vast and quality is high, although, when compared to other regions in Italy, the price-to-quality ratio is not quite as compelling. That said, as a general rule, you should stick to red wine options in Tuscany, where sangiovese-based wines are the stars; focus on the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Chianti Classico, and Brunello di Montalcino DOCGs as signs of quality. For wines based on international grape varieties (cabernet sauvignon, merlot, etc.), the Maremma area, located in a relatively undeveloped portion of Tuscany along the Ionian (west) coast, offers some great wines at attractive prices.

Where to Eat

The following three restaurants consistently delivered world-class food and were the favorites that we returned to again and again.

Cavolo Nero

Cavolo Nero is our go-to restaurant in Florence. Located off-the-beaten-path (in the oltr’arno), this charming and elegant restaurant serves excellent, fresh food that changes with each season. Cavolo Nero’s super-friendly staff is happy to help you navigate the menu and its wine list. Another plus? The wine and food are very reasonably priced.

Cavolo Nero. Via dell’Ardiglione, 22; S.Frediano; Tel: 055/294 744; closed Sundays.

Where to Shop

Florence is known for its shopping. Here are two of our favorite stores:

  • Yesterday’s Fausto Santini Outlet (Via Calzaiuoli, 95R; tel 055/239 8536). High-fashion shoe maker, with gorgeously unique shoes for men and women at prices that are 1/3 of those in the Milan boutique.
  • Paolo Carandini (Via de’ Macci, 73R; tel 055/245 397). Paolo Carandini sells his beautiful, handmade leather goods (journals, bags, etc.) out of a tiny workshop in the city center.

Where to Go

Cultural Walking Tour: Florence Frescoes

ag-cover_italy_florence_freThe presence of large number of Last Supper frescoes (called cenocoli in Italian) in Florence’s historical city center allows visitors to view several sites over a few hours or a few days, giving them a brief but complete lesson in comparative art history. In this travel guide, we highlight the best of the Last Supper frescoes of Florence (spanning 1335-1645) and look at how they relate to Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic depiction in Milan (1496-98). Learn more about Last Supper frescoes in Florence…

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Napa Valley (California) Wines http://www.agwine.com/blog/napa-valley-california-wines/ http://www.agwine.com/blog/napa-valley-california-wines/#comments Thu, 16 May 2013 15:57:37 +0000 http://www.agwine.com/agcp/?p=214

The Napa Valley region of California offers  world-class wines and is a favorite of many wine connoisseurs. We have pulled our review of the Napa Valley directly from AG Wine app for iPhone and iPad.

Along with Sonoma, the Napa [...]

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The Napa Valley region of California offers  world-class wines and is a favorite of many wine connoisseurs. We have pulled our review of the Napa Valley directly from AG Wine app for iPhone and iPad.

Napa Valley Wine Regions/AVAs

Napa Valley Wine Regions/AVAs

Along with Sonoma, the Napa Valley appellation, with 15 additional “nested” AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) over 45,000 planted acres, is one of the premier wine producing regions in America. Geographically, the Napa Valley is framed by the Vaca Mountains in the east and the Mayacamas Mountain Range in the west. Generally, soil in the north of the region consists of volcanic gravel, while the south consists of clay and silt deposits associated with historical advances of nearby San Pablo Bay. Napa has a wide range of micro-climates, largely shaped by altitude and the relative exposure to the influence of cooling fog.

Cabernet sauvignon dominates grape production in Napa. Napa’s magnificent cabernet sauvignon-based red wines come in a range of styles: in warmer environments (such as the Napa Valley floor), flavors will be dark, soft, and generous. In cooler environments (such as the mountain appellations), wines increase their structuring tannins, retain greater acidity, and take on slightly more earthy and herbal flavor characteristics. Merlot comes in swift second place, offering immediately approachable wines with generous fruit, easy tannins, and low acidity.

While cabernet dominates red wine production, chardonnay holds the leadership position in white wine production. That said, there are a range of white wine options worth exploring: sauvignon blanc, riesling, pinot gris, viognier, and gewurztraminer.

Napa’s wines are world class – the only drawback generally being the high prices relative to some non-US wineproducing zones — and should be sought out by wine drinkers seeking the best experiences.

Our most recent update for the iPhone app includes wines of Napa and Sonoma. We are on track to deliver the update to our iPad app by the end of September. Approach Guides Wine is the ultimate wine guide for the iPhone and iPad, giving you the confidence to pick a great wine every time. Click to buy AG Wine or search ‘agwine’ on iTunes.

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Barbera: An Italian Red Grape Grown in Piedmont, Italy http://www.agwine.com/blog/barbera-an-italian-red-grape-grown-in-piedmont-italy/ http://www.agwine.com/blog/barbera-an-italian-red-grape-grown-in-piedmont-italy/#comments Thu, 16 May 2013 15:54:16 +0000 http://www.agwine.com/agcp/?p=211


Thin-skinned barbera — the most widely-planted grape in Piedmont and the fourth most popular in Italy after sangiovese, catarratto and trebbiano toscano — ripens late, typically after dolcetto but before nebbiolo.

While wines are made in [...]

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Map - Piedmont (Piemonte), Italy

Thin-skinned barbera — the most widely-planted grape in Piedmont and the fourth most popular in Italy after sangiovese, catarratto and trebbiano toscano — ripens late, typically after dolcetto but before nebbiolo.

While wines are made in a range of styles, they generally offer low tannins, very high acidity and sharp, often sour cherry and red fruit flavors complemented by earthy overtones. If the grape is planted in select, warmer south-facing vineyards, wines can take on very good concentration. Barbera’s trademark high acidity makes it pair exceptionally well with food, particularly rich and hearty fare.

There are some basic stylistic differences among the wines from Piedmont’s three main barbera denominations: Alba (fuller, richer versions, including the three premier sub-areas of Nizza, Tinella and Astiano); Asti (lighter versions, often with very good balance; this is the largest DOC and perhaps offers the best price-value); and Monferrato (our favorites, a good balance). You will also find varietal wines in the Canavese, Colli Novarese, Colli Torinese, Colli Tortonesi, Gabiano, Pinerolese and Rubino di Cantavenna DOCs.

We have pulled this description directly from our AG Wine app for the iPhone and iPod Touch/iTouch.  Download AG Wine now!

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Discovering Wines from Spain’s Balearic Islands http://www.agwine.com/blog/discovering-wines-from-spains-balearic-islands/ http://www.agwine.com/blog/discovering-wines-from-spains-balearic-islands/#comments Thu, 16 May 2013 15:51:38 +0000 http://www.agwine.com/agcp/?p=207 About the Balearic Islands

Talk about a largely undiscovered grape growing region…the Balearics Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera), located off the east coast of Spain, offer good values and some totally unique, high-quality varieties worth exploring.  We have pulled our [...]

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About the Balearic Islands

Talk about a largely undiscovered grape growing region…the Balearics Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera), located off the east coast of Spain, offer good values and some totally unique, high-quality varieties worth exploring.  We have pulled our review of wines from this region (and under-appreciated) grape variety from our wine app (available for both iPhone and iPad).

  • Red wines. The indigenous thick-skinned, mid- to late-ripening manto negro grape delivers light- to medium-bodied, low tannin wines with flavors of ripe red fruit, flowers, caramel, earth and a touch of spice. They are often light in color and high in alcohol. It is typically blended with callet, which adds tannins, raspberry notes and a spicy, herbal character to the resulting wines.
  • White wines. If you are looking for a white, try the local thick-skinned, mid-ripening
    prensal blanc grape which yields light- to medium-bodied wines with white fruit aromas and flavors of green apple, ginger, honey, almond and herbs.

Basics

  • Appellations (DOs): Binissalem and Pla i Llevant de Mallorca.
  • Primary White grape: Prensal Blanc
  • Primary Red grapes: Callet, Manto Negro

Download AG Wine to learn more about Spanish wines AG Wine profiles all of Spain’s winemaking regions, grape varieties, appellations, and recent vintages, making learning about Spain’s wine fun and enjoyable.

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Wines from the Etna DOC (Sicily, Italy) http://www.agwine.com/blog/wines-from-the-etna-doc-sicily-italy/ http://www.agwine.com/blog/wines-from-the-etna-doc-sicily-italy/#comments Thu, 16 May 2013 15:46:43 +0000 http://www.agwine.com/agcp/?p=204

Sicily, the land of abundant sun, good food, and a rich culture infused with Byzantine and Arabic influences, continues to see growth in tourism and exports. Although Sicilian wines can be inconsistent at times, winemaking is improving at a breakneck [...]

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Sicily, the land of abundant sun, good food, and a rich culture infused with Byzantine and Arabic influences, continues to see growth in tourism and exports. Although Sicilian wines can be inconsistent at times, winemaking is improving at a breakneck pace with prices remaining generally reasonable.
The Etna DOC — located in eastern Sicily on the slopes of the Etna volcano — is one of Sicily’s top denominations. Here are two great options to look for.

* White option: carricante. A thick-skinned, late-ripening Sicilian native, carricante produces wines with flavors of green apple, orange, lemon, honey and mineral, sometimes with anise and saline notes. It is at home in the Etna DOC*, the wines of which are based primarily on a blend of carricante and catarratto: bottles marked as standard Etna bianco contain a minimum of 60% carricante; those marked as superiore have a minimum of 80% carricante. Given carricante’s leading position in the blend, they are delicate wines that display high levels of acidity, making them ideal an partner for simply prepared seafood.

* Red option: nerello mascalese. Genetically connected to frappato, gaglioppo and sangiovese, thin-skinned, late-ripening nerello mascalese offers a more elegant, reserved style of Sicilian red. Wines are light colored with approachable ripe red fruit flavors, pleasant spice and soft tannins. Highly expressive of terroir, they present a trademark mineral earthiness, likely reflecting the high elevation (1000+ meters) volcanic soils around Mount Etna in which the grapes are grown. Wines come at attractive price points and are certainly worth trying, particularly if you are a fan of northern Piedmont’s lighter nebbiolos, Cru Beaujolais or the Loire Valley’s cabernet francs. While you will find most versions in the Etna DOC (80% nerello mascalese), look for them also in the nearby Faro DOC, where the grape makes up the majority (45-60%) of blends.

Food Pairing

One of the joys of traveling to Italy is experiencing the traditional local cuisine. Unlike America, the cuisine of Italy changes as you move from region to region (even sometimes, from city to nearby city), with each area having unique recipes, specialties and culinary traditions.

While wines based on the nerello mascalese generally do not pair well with Sicily’s vast seafood repertoire, they make the perfect match for arancini, pasta all norma, panelle, as well as chicken and rabbit dishes. Learn more about the typical foods of Sicily and other regions of Italy

Cultural Travel in Sicily

Having finally won the island of Sicily from entrenched Islamic forces after thirty years of battle, the Normans set upon creating a multicultural kingdom to inspire the world. While the Norman civilization has since faded from history, its brilliant churches, glittering with mosaic decoration, serve as enduring reminders of its greatness. Learn more about the mosaics of Palermo’s churches..

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Excellent Sauvignon Blanc from Chile’s Casablanca Valley http://www.agwine.com/blog/excellent-sauvignon-blanc-from-chiles-casablanca-valley-do/ http://www.agwine.com/blog/excellent-sauvignon-blanc-from-chiles-casablanca-valley-do/#comments Thu, 16 May 2013 15:41:54 +0000 http://www.agwine.com/agcp/?p=200

Great Sauvignon Blanc from Chile’s Casablanca Valley

While best known for its full-bodied reds, Chile is producing some sophisticated, terroir-driven white wines, some of the best of which are based on the sauvignon blanc grape variety; winemakers from Casablanca are [...]

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Great Sauvignon Blanc from Chile’s Casablanca Valley

While best known for its full-bodied reds, Chile is producing some sophisticated, terroir-driven white wines, some of the best of which are based on the sauvignon blanc grape variety; winemakers from Casablanca are leading the charge.  We have pulled our review of wines from this grape variety from our new AG Wine for Chile upgrade.

First planted in the early 1980s, the Casablanca (ka-sa-BLAHN-ka) Valley sits northwest of Santiago along a dry area of Pacific coastline on the western side of the Coastal Range. Only 18 kilometers / 11 miles from the coast, Casablanca is well known as one of Chile’s premier cool-climate regions, as its growing conditions are directly impacted by the sea. Heavy, cool fog enters in the evening and does not burn off until early afternoon, adding to the region’s already cool temperatures.

Although varied, soils are comprised of clay over a decomposed granite base in the flat areas and granite pebbles and sand on the hills. Further, since no major rivers run through Casablanca, the loose quality of the ancient soils allows vines to penetrate and establish deep root systems, which affords the resulting wines greater subtlety.

Casablanca can be informally divided into three sub-areas, all of which experience varying exposure to the sea’s influence:

  • Lower Casablanca sits on the lowest lying land in the far west of the region. The center of Casablanca’s production, it has the greatest exposure to ocean winds and is therefore the coolest. To draw a distinction: the region is less impacted by the sea’s temperature-stabilizing effects than neighboring San Antonio — another exceptional region for cool-climate style wines — so it experiences greater daily swings in temperature (slightly warmer days and slightly cooler nights).
  • Upper Casablanca sits at the highest elevation on the eastern edge of the region. The least impacted by the sea, it gets the greatest amount of sunshine and experiences the widest daily fluctuations in temperature.
  • Central Casablanca has a mix of the conditions experienced in the Upper and Lower sub-areas.

Casablanca has built a reputation for attractively-priced whites that are simple, fruity, and crisp, perfect for everyday consumption.

However, more recently, there is a new class of white wines emerging that is serious and very high quality. Further, they continue to hit attractive price points, making them tremendous values.For the absolute best wines in this elite category, go with those based on sauvignon blanc, some of the best in Chile.

AG Wine for Chile’s wines is now available! AG Wine now supports Chile’s wines, profiling all of the country’s winemaking regions, grape varieties, appellations, and vintages. Best of all: It’s a FREE upgrade for existing AG Wine App owners!

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Eating Jamon? Reach for a Cava (Catalunya, Spain) http://www.agwine.com/blog/eating-jamon-reach-for-a-cava-catalunya-spain/ http://www.agwine.com/blog/eating-jamon-reach-for-a-cava-catalunya-spain/#comments Thu, 16 May 2013 15:34:03 +0000 http://www.agwine.com/agcp/?p=195 A Match Made in Catalunya: Cava and Jamon Iberico

There a few wines that pair as well as cava sparkling wine and Spain’s famous jamon iberico (click for a detailed guide to jamon iberico).  We have pulled our review [...]

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A Match Made in Catalunya: Cava and Jamon Iberico

There a few wines that pair as well as cava sparkling wine and Spain’s famous jamon iberico (click for a detailed guide to jamon iberico).  We have pulled our review of the Cava DO from our AG Wine app for the iPhone and iPod Touch/iTouch.

Region: Catalunya.

Created in 1959, Cava — named for the underground caves in which the wines are crafted — produces Spain’s premier sparkling wines.

  • Vineyards. The production zone is spread out across 159 municipalities in the provinces of Barcelona (63), Tarragona (52), Lleida (12), Girona (5), La Rioja (18), Alava (3), Zaragoza (2), Navarra (2), Valencia (1) and Badajoz (1). That said, 95% is produced in the area between Tarragona and Barcelona, with most cultivation occurring at 200-300 meters in elevation around the city of Sant Sadurní di Anoia in Penedès Central, roughly 20-25 kilometers from the Mediterranean.
  • Soils. Soils are generally sandy and rocky clay over a limestone base.
  • Climate. Although there is fair degree of variation given the expansive landscape over which vines are cultivated, for the most part the climate is warm, wet and Mediterranean.

Sparkling White Wines

Cava is based chiefly on the traditional Catalunyan white grape triad consisting of xarel-lo, macabeo and parellada: xarel-lo provides the structuring body and almond flavor notes; macabeo the crisp acidity and herbaceous edge; and parellada the soft, creamy finish.

Although Cava sparklers use different grape varieties, the production method is the same as with French Champagne (méthode Champenoise), in that the wine undergoes its secondary, bubble-creating fermentation in the bottle (rather than in large pressure tanks, as with Italy’s prosecco). As far as a comparison versus France’s Champagnes: while they exhibit similar gentle fruit flavors, good body and underlying creaminess, they are more approachable due to their lower relative acidity.

Cava sparklers spend a minimum of nine months aging on their lees, which affords their flavor profiles greater complexity; after 18 months, wines can be labeled as reserva; after 30 months, they can be labeled as gran reserva.

Best of all: Cavas are the most attractively priced sparkling wines in the world. That said, we recommend opting for the driest available versions — Brut Nature (0-3 grams per liter of residual sugar) or Extra Brut (3-6 grams per liter of residual sugar) — as they best express Cava’s true terroir, showcasing crisp acidity and good minerality.

GET THE APP

AG Wine for Spanish Wines is now available! The AG Wine app profiles all of Spain’s winemaking regions, grape varieties, appellations, and vintages. Best of all: It’s a FREE upgrade for existing AG Wine App owners!

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