Archive for the 'Sauvignon Blanc' Category

Tasting – Marquis Wine Cellars presents Buty Winery at C Restaurant

First things first… I’d like to thank John Clerides and the staff at Marquis Wine Cellars for putting on this great tasting. The food and wine pairings at C Restaurant made my day.

From the left, that’s Graham, Caleb (the winemaker and co-proprietor at Buty), John and me (sporting a bit of a winter beard).

Last summer, when Graham and I were down in Walla Walla for the Wine Bloggers’ Conference, we ran into John and as I’ve already written, he said, “Do you guys want to taste something great? Come with me.” We headed out to Walla Walla’s airport wine area and made our way into Buty Winery’s tasting room. What we tasted were some of the highlights of the weekend.

So, when John decided to bring some of the Buty wines into his shop I was pretty stoked. I’ve grabbed a few bottles of the Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and  Muscadelle blend over the last month or so.

I’ll run through what was being poured, with a bit of a review of each wine. So, let’s go. Here’s they are:

  • 2009 Beast Sphinx Semillon
    This was the surprise of the tasting for me. It was a medium-bodied mouthful of honeyed lemon and mineral. So tasty. (4 stars – $24.99)
  • 2009 Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc/Muscadelle
    Personally, I love this wine. It has a crisp acidity that makes it a great food pairing wine along with beautiful melon, noney, citrus and stone flavours. What’s not to love? (4-4.5 stars – $31.99)
  • 2009 Conner Lee Vineyard Chardonnay
    Wow. This was another surprise for me – and was a perfect pairing for the delicious C Restaurant-prepared lobster. It had a really nice citrus-edged crispness with nice tropical and stone minerals on the finish. More Chablis than slutty Chardonnay. Very nice. (4-4.5 – $45.99)
  • 2008 Beast Wildebeest Red Wine
    This blend of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Syrah and 10% Malbec adds up to a really tasty deep cherry, berry fruit-driven wine with a pepper-edged mineral finish. Nice. (3.5-4 stars – $32.99)
  • 2009 Merlot & Cabernet Franc
    Well now… another surprise. I really liked this. It had wonderful dark fruit and a flintiness on the finish that I find really appealing, especially on elegant Washington State reds. (4.5 stars – $48.99)
  • 2008 Columbia Redviva
    Wow. This is the winner. This blend of 52% Syrah and 48% Cabernet Sauvignon was definitely the standout of the tasting for me. In a word, this wine is elegant. It has a tonne of dark red fruit, but not in an over-ripe sort of way. The berry fruit is almost perfect. So good! (4.5 – $59.99)
  • 2009 Redviva of the Stones
    This wine is a blend of 79% Syrah and 21% Cabernet Sauvignon. To me, this one needed a bit of time. It was pretty closed up. I’m thinking in a year or so its dark fruit and minerality will be more in balance. (4-4.5 stars – $59.99)

It was great to see Caleb again. I always love seeing talented folks who are passionate about what they’re doing. All wines are of course available for purchase or order from Marquis Wine Cellars. Head on over to their site for the contact information.

The folks at C Restaurant deserve a special mention for the fabulous food. Everything was delicious and reminded me that I should head there soon for my seafood fix. Amazing stuff.

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Taste Chile 2010, Vancouver

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the “Taste Chile” event held at the former Storyeum in Gastown.  The tasting gave me a chance to re-connect with the wines of Chile, as I have somewhat neglected these choices lately in favour of the Old World wines my palate has come to crave.

The afternoon began with a sit-down tutorial of 13 wines of biodynamic and organic origin.  The discussion began with a rather lengthy overview of the process of biodynamics, perhaps a little more detailed than was necessary given the short time frame and solid knowledge base of those in attendance.

The first two wines sparked quite a debate over whether or not organic means better wine.  This waged on for quite a period of time, and while interesting, did move the focus away from the actual tasting tutorial.  That said, the topic is of great interest.  Many of the wines do not state that they are in fact organic and biodynamic anywhere on their labels.  It appears they want the wines to speak louder than the process.

Interesting…   The discussion then moved to “does the fact that it is organic mean that it is better wine?”  At this point I reflected back to the words of Alan Meadows who asserts that “organic and biodynamic ultimately mean greater attention to detail.”  From there, questions about sustainability after production with regard to packaging and shipping were addressed, but it was a little hard to hear, as the room had no PA.

These are all very interesting topics surrounding the ethics of wine.  The conclusions I drew from this were that Chile has quite an opportunity in its grasp.   The fact that the world particularly our local community has amorous pursuit of all things organic (a good thing for sure, provided our eyes are wide open), and the market is such that many of these wines are truly exceptional values for under $20.

Given the extended discussion, the actual guided part of tasting the remaining 11 wines was packed into the last 20 or so minutes.  At this point, most in the room had self-guided through what proved to be some really interesting choices.  A few of my favorites included:

Emiliana Vineyards Adobe Chardonnay 2010 – Really crisp and clean with nice mineral citrus and grassy.  For $16 this is a really nice wine for a seafood dinner.

Nativa Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 – Great spice on the nose, loads of mint, and almost cumin hints.  Really dark cherry and currant through to a nice balanced finish.

Vina San Pedro Tarapaca Tarapaca Plus 2008 – Again, this has a really nice spice mix on the nose with pine, rosemary and tobacco with a hint of orange peel after a swirl.  Just a few sniffs of this one sold me, and for $20 I’ll be on the lookout for this one.

The tasting room itself had a fantastic layout, but as with the Playhouse festival last year, the low lighting was a challenge in approaching the wines.  The wineries ringed the room, with a few specialty stations in the center.

Highlights for me included:

Whites

Chardonnay dominated my white tasting, and I really enjoyed the mix of unoaked, Chablis styles and the more toasty rich ones.  Some highlights included:

  • Amanya Chardonnay, 2008 Ledya Valley
  • Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay, 2009 Aconcagua Valley
  • Montes Alpha Chardonnay, 2008 Colchagua Valley

Reds

The reds were a great mix of Cabs, Carménère and tasty blends.  Standouts for me included:

  • Errazuriz Don Maximiano 2006, Aconcagua Valley
  • De Martino Single Vineyard “El Leon” Carignan 2007 Maule Valley
  • Vina Santa Alicia Millantu Premium Red Wine 2006 Maipo Valley
  • Viu Manent Malbec Single Vineyard San Carlos 2008 Colchagua Valley

The whole tasting was a great way to revisit some tasty value wines that are paying close attention to the land from which they grown.  Thanks to CCLTD for a really enjoyable event.

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Napa/Sonoma trip – Day 1 in Napa Valley

Candace and I headed into the Napa Valley last Friday and I was really looking forward to the appointments I had set up. The weather was spring-warm perfect, the traffic was light and I was looking forward to tasting some of Napa’s Cabernet. First in line was the venerable Beaulieu Vineyard, located in Rutherford. The second appointment was set for 2pm at Whitehall Lane Winery and we were penciled in at Cuvaison Estate Wines in Calistoga for 4pm. It was going to be an afternoon full of (hopefully) good wine.

Beaulieu Vineyard:
I had only visited Beaulieu once before – way back in 1991. That was also my first visit to Napa Valley. What I really remember about the visit was that, back then, like many guys in their early 20’s I was into the whole Seattle music scene and had the hair to match. It was halfway down my back. I know… I know, but hey – it was the early 90’s. The point of mentioning this was that many of the wineries, upon seeing 4 long-haired musician-looking types headed their way, lived up to the much-feared wine snob stereotype – they treated us like crap. We were there to learn, sample and buy. They made that much less pleasant than it should have been.

Not Beaulieu. To this day, I have a soft spot for them because of the open and friendly way we were greeted and led through a wine sampling education. It was what a visit to a winery should be – FUN. They helped send me down the road to being the wine geek I am today. I don’t remember the names of the nice folks from that visit, but will fondly remember our tasting with Robert last Friday.

We were greeted at the door with a sample of their 2007 Sauvignon Blanc and then made our way to their tasting bar and through their Maestro Collection and their Napa Valley Cabernets. Here’s a list and quick rating of what we tasted:

  • 2006 Maestro Petite Sirah ($32) – 3.5 – 4 stars
  • 2005 Maestro Ensemble Red ($27) – 4 stars
  • 2006 Maestro Zinfandel ($30) – 4 stars
  • (Unsure of the vintage) Tempranillo ($?) – 4 stars

The Cabernets:

  • 2006 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon ($30) – 4 – 4.5 stars
  • 2005 Reserve Maestro Cabernet No. 1 ($65) – 4.5 stars
  • 2005 Reserve Maestro Cabernet No. 2 ($65) – 4.5 stars (my favourite of this flight)
  • 2006 Reserve Maestro Cabernet No. 2 ($65) – 4.5 stars

After tasting these, Robert took us down to the members’ tasting lounge and seated us in front of 4 glasses. Into those he poured:

  • 2006 Reserve Carneros Pinot Noir ($45)
    Beautiful colour with elegant ripe plum and cherry flavours.
    4 stars
  • 2003 Tapestry Reserve ($? – a classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec)
    Balanced ripe fruit with firm yet silky mineral-laced tannins.
    4 stars
  • 2006 Tapestry Reserve ($60)
    Bigger and earthier with a toasty edge to the dark cherry, black currant and dark chocolate flavours. Lots of tannin. Very tasty.
    4.5 stars
  • 2006 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($115)
    Really good. Lots of complexity. I got licorice, blackberry, black currant and vanilla spice on the nose. The flavours showed all that along with some coffee. The finish lasted minutes and was very firm. It has the structure to last for quite a while and will be best in a few years.
    4.5 stars

Whitehall Lane Winery:
Next up was our 2pm appointment with Katie. This is a much smaller family operation compared to Beaulieu. It was bought by Tom Leonardini Sr. in 1993 and has seen extensive changes to the winery and the equipment since that time. The winery owns roughly 110 acres of vineyards in the Napa Valley including the Leonardini Vineyard in St. Helena and the Rutherford West Vineyard in, you guessed it, Rutherford.

Katie poured us a sample of their Chardonnay and led us out of the tasting room and into the winery. We watched them bottling their 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and had a quick tour of the member’s lounge and a beautiful view of the surrounding vineyards from its deck. We then headed back to the tasting room to sample their wines. Here’s what we tasted:

  • 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley ($16)
    Crisp acidity and nice citrus and melon fruit.
    3.5 – 4 stars
  • 2007 Chardonnay, Carneros ($28)
    Again – nice and crisp with pear and citrus with some vanilla from the oak.
    3.5 – 4 stars
  • 2007 Pinot Noir, Carneros ($28)
    Very light with nice red cherry and a bit of citrus and spice.
    3.5 stars
  • 2006 Merlot, Napa Valley ($28)
    Black cherry and berry with a floral edge lead to nice vanilla and spice on the finish.
    4 stars
  • 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($40)
    Nice tannins edge the ripe blackberry and black currant fruit with earth and spice on the finish.
    4 – 4.5 stars
  • 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($60)
    This is a blend of fruit from both of their Cabernet vineyard sites in the Napa Valley. It really grabbed my taste buds with its ripe fruit and elegant balance. Flavours of black currant, dark cherry and berry led to a spicy vanilla-tinged finish from the oak. It’s still quite young and will be best in a year or so (or more).
    4.5 stars
  • 2006 St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($60)
    This was Candace’s favourite wine of the day, with a really nice nose that hinted at the ripe fruit to come. A sip literally explodes in the mouth with jammy back currant and berry fruit, followed by a long and elegant finish with very firm tannins.
    4.5 stars
  • 2006 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($60)
    This wine was a very interesting counterpart to the St. Helena Cab. It tasted of the “Rutherford Dust” the area is known for. This also had really elegant fruit and a long spicy finish. I really liked this one.
    4.5 stars

All in all, I’d have to say that I really liked the Cabs we tasted. As a matter of fact, I liked them enough that I took a few with me when we left.

Cuvaison Estate Wines:
Last July when I was down in Napa and Sonoma for the Wine Blogger’s Conference, a mix-up left Graham, Shea and I standing in Cuvaison’s Calistoga parking lot wondering where the rest of the crew had disappeared to… only to realize that they had been bused down to Cuvaison’s newer Carneros facility. Well, I made a mental note to return to the cozy Calistoga tasting room the next time I was in the area – so with an appointment set up by my friend Paul Watkin of Seacove Wines (who represent Cuvaison in BC), here we were.

After a recent re-vamp, the room was not only cozy, but modern as well. We settled in at one of the tables and Gabe brought around the samples and filled us in on the geographical and winemaking facts for each wine. I was really impressed with what he poured:

  • 2007 S Block Chardonnay ($38)
    This had really gorgeous fruit – orange peel, melon and pineapple that led to a balanced and crisp finish. Very tasty.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 ATS Chardonnay ($54)
    Wow. There was an explosion of flavour on the finish of this wine – crème brulée, nut, apple and mineral-edged lemon. Initially, a sip gave peach, and citrus flavours, but man… that finish. Very good.
    4.5 stars
  • 2008 Mariafield Pinot Noir ($32)
    This Swiss clone gives bright purple cherry and cola flavours, with tonnes of spice and cherry cola on the finish.
    4 – 4.5 stars
  • 2007 Block F5 Pinot Noir ($45)
    I really liked this wine. It was darker in colour than the Mariafield and struck me as having more going on. On the nose, there was blackberry and ripe red cherry. A sip gave me silky tannins that edged the black cherry cola, spice and floral flavours.
    4.5 stars
  • 2007 Zinfandel, Bald Mountain ($35)
    This wine surprised me. I know Cuvaison is known for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but they also turn out a tasty Zinfandel. It had nice dark plum and berry on the nose. Flavours of ripe plum, dark berry led out to bramble spice and cracked pepper on the finish.
    4 – 4.5 stars
  • 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder ($45)
    Black pepper and ripe currant on the nose led to black pepper, currant and licorice flavours and a long finish.
    4 – 4.5 stars
  • 2006 Brandlin Cabernet Sauvignon, Mount Veeder ($85)
    This really caught me off guard. Its’ delicious! The nose showed purple berry, vanilla and licorice spice. The flavours were big and balanced – ripe dark berry, black currant, licorice and spice on the long, long finish. Wow.
    4.5 stars

I have to say that this is the way to spend a day in Napa Valley. Make a few appointments and really spend the time going through each winery’s wines. There are a lot of great wineries in the valley, so take some time to check them out.

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2006 Chateau Ste. Michelle Horse Heaven Hills Sauvignon Blanc with D3TV

Yesterday, I headed over to the offices of D3 Security Management Systems to sit down with Clinton Kabler and taste a couple of wines. First up is this delicious Sauvignon Blanc.

$29 at Marquis Wine Cellars.

4 stars
(maybe even 4.5 – buy a bottle and decide for yourself)

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2007 Flying Horse Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley

A couple of days ago, I had the chance to sit down with Shea (from JustGrapesWine.com) and the owner of Marquis Wine Cellars, John Clerides to taste the delicious wines from Mayacamas Vineyards. Last night I headed into Marquis hoping that the Sauvignon Blanc would hit the under-$30 sweet spot. Alas, it didn’t… being priced at $34.90 (though it’s very good and may make its way into a future post). So, in its place – and due in part to Shea’s glowing review of their Petite Sirah (yes, I picked some up) – I chose to give this a go.

Well, I’m glad I did. For those of you who are New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc fans (myself included), California SB’s are a different beast entirely. Many of them see time in oak and show a completely different range of flavours. According to the winery’s web site, this wine was cold pressed into stainless steel tanks, then spent its fermentation in 60 gallon French Oak barrels; (80% once-used and 20% new). Once fermentation was finished, the wine rested sur lie for 7 months prior to bottling. It was not put through malolactic fermentation. This all adds up to give the wine a very complex and alluring nose and flavour profile.

The nose was really interesting. I got something like candied ginger peach. The flavours were completely different from the nose – I got vanilla-spiced pear leading out to a round and then crisp lemon and orange edged finish. It’s really very nice stuff.

If you want to explore how Cali Sauvignon Blanc differs from the New Zealand fruit bombs, this would be a great start.

$26.90 at Marquis Wine Cellars.

4 stars

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Best Damn Tasting Ever! presented by the Seacove Group and New World Wines

OK, so I’ve been really bad with posting lately… and rightfully so. I’ve got a life and a full-time, outside wine job. I’ve been feeling badly about the lack of posts, so I’ve resolved to writing at least a few of ’em a week for the next while. Not only does that accomplish the more-posts-in-a-month goal, but it also makes me document the wine I drink, which was the original idea behind this site.

Well, now that that’s out there, I’ll get down to the task at hand. A few weeks ago, I received an invite from my friend Paul Watkin, who works with the Seacove Group, a wine agency in town for a tempting-sounding trade tasting being held at the Metropolitan Hotel.

The tasting was put on by the Seacove Group and the New World Wines agencies – and featured a diverse selection of wines from pretty much everywhere. There were wines from Italy, France, Spain, New Zealand, Portugal and the USA. Graham and I made our way around the room and I can honestly say there wasn’t a single wine we didn’t enjoy. Both agencies have some stunners, so I’m just going to give you our top 5’s from each.

Graham’s picks from Seacove:

  • Champagne de Venoge Brut Milliesime 1995 – Stunning length with beautiful citrus and lees.
  • Livon Braide Alte 2006 – Loved this wine.  Superbly crisp with nice pear and lime and solid mineral finish.  I imagined this with mussels or clams.  Mmmmm….
  • Egelhoff Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 – A gorgeous Napa Cab with great black fruit.  This wine was like someone ground a pepper mill over the glass.  Excellent stuff.
  • Chateau des Graviers AOC Margaux “Quintessence” 2001 – Delicious.  Great nose of tea, marker and ground coffee.  Finishes up with some nice graphite and green leaf.
  • Moncellior Pinot Noir 2008 – I really liked this one.  Nice full raspberry nose with great acidity and some nice green stalk on the finish.  This is a great value in the Otago Pinots for $35.

My picks from Seacove:

  • 1995 Champagne de Venoge Brut Millesièmme -Wow. Just wow. So graceful and tasty.
  • 2006 Signorello Winery Padrone – OK, it’s expensive, but it’s also really bloody tasty. Massive black fruit and pepper are followed by equally massive tannins. This one needs time.
  • 2005 Van Zeller Douro CV “Curriculum Vitae” – Elegant dark plum and berry fruit lead to a loooong finish. Pretty wonderful stuff.
  • 2003 Egelhoff Wines Cabernet Sauvignon – Great dark fruit and black pepper flavours made me want to go back for more.
  • 2006 Quinta do Crasto Touriga Nacional – Dark fruit and chocolate with a finish that lasted minutes. I love this wine.

Graham’s picks from New World Wines:

  • Barnett Vineyards Merlot Spring Mountain 2006 – Amazing spice on this wine.  Anise and Cinnamon with gorgeous red fruit.  Loved it.
  • Darioush Winery Signature Series Shiraz 2005 – Deep intense black fruit with nice black pepper and firm tannins.
  • DeLille Cellars D2 2006 – This was soft and sexy goodness.  Gorgeous red fruit and silky finish.
  • Betz Family Winery Clos de Betz 2006 – Beautiful dark chocolate, black fruit and some nice mint on the finish. – Loved it.
  • Flowers Vineyard & Winery  Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2006 – Elegant, with beautiful cranberry and currant.  Great length with a bit a brown sugar on the finish.

My picks from New World Wines:

  • 2005 Darioush Winery Signature Series Shiraz – So good! Immense dark fruit, dark chocolate and black tea flavours lead out to a long-long finish.
  • 2006 Barnett Vineyards Merlot Spring Mountain – Dark chocolate and plum fruit with a toasty edge. So good.
  • 2006 Betz Family Clos de Betz – It may be starting to sound like a record on repeat, but dark chocolate and blackberry flavours made me want more.
  • 2006 DeLille Cellars D2 – Mouth-filling dark fruit. Yum.
  • 2004 Lail Vineyards Blue Print – This had a hint of bell pepper to its dark fruit and spice. Bloody good.
3 comments

2008 Babich Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

07082009aThis wine is summer refreshment in a glass. It’s full of zingy grapefruit citrus and tropical fruit tastiness. It has an intense crispness that is very food-friendly… or if you just want a patio sipper, it does the trick there as well – all for the very reasonable $16.99 price tag (here in Canada). I’ve been a fan of this wine for years and have to admit that I find its cousin, the more concentrated Black Label Reserve a bloody tasty treat.

The regular Marlborough version is a treat in its own way. It has a nose that’s full of grapefruit and some pear. A juicy sip shows all that grapefruit, passion fruit and pear with an herbal edge to the mineral-laced finish. This is a wine that drinks like pop – especially on the warm days/night of Summer… and for the very reasonable price tag, how can we resist?

An A+ for value on a very tasty bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.

$16.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 stars

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Vinifico on D3 TV

Last Friday, my colleague at Sitemasher, Shannon Yelland and I paid Clinton Kabler a visit at D3 Security Management Systems to appear with him in an episode of their D3TV video blog. We talked business and, just as importantly – wine.

Clinton had picked up 2 bottles of wine to taste while we chatted – both are available at Marquis Wine Cellars here in Vancouver:

  • 2007 Churton Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough Valley – I didn’t pick up on it initially, but I think this wine was slightly corked… and I mean slightly. It had just enough of that TCA sharpness on the edge. It became more apparent as the wine warmed up. Although it was not at all unpleasant, I’d like to give this wine another shot sometime soon (not rated due to TCA). $29 at Marquis.
  • 2007 Domaine du Joncier Lirac Rosé from France’s Southern Rhône – this was bloody tasty. I’ve actually bought the wine since and will again over the summer. It had a load of bright berry flavours (raspberry and cranberry came to the front). Clinton got bubblegum in there as well… and I can’t say I disagree. Tasty stuff! (**** stars). $24.50 at Marquis.

Here’s the video:

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2008 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

05132009It’s no secret. Year in and year out, this is one of my favourite white wines out there. I don’t really care about the price. It’s got  tonne of flavour and an incredibly well-balanced citrus acidity that makes it one of the best white wines to pair with food this side of a great Riesling. I came across it years ago while working at Dundarave Wine Cellar in West Vancouver and have been hooked on it (and hooking others on it) since.

This is a lip-smackingly delicious wine, folks. Like I said about the 2007, this has a nose that is all about the zingy grapefruit, grass and stone. What really makes it for me are the flavours of lime, tropical fruit, grapefruit and grass. The finish lengthens that with stone and more of that lingering tropical fruit. What a value.

Just so you can see what I’m talking about, try whipping up this guacamole recipe and pairing it with some good tortilla chips and a bottle of this wine.

My guacamole: (crush up and mix all ingredients in a bowl)

  • 2 ripe avacadoes
  • 1 clove of garlic (diced)
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 1 vine tomato (roughly diced)
  • a handful of fresh cilantro
  • some good salt

.. or, if you live in  BC, it’s spot prawn season. There are a tonne of recipes out there that would make this wine a magic match for our local bounty.

Go find this wine. Go.

$21.99 at LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

4 comments

2008 Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough

Here I am in Maui sipping away – another badly-framed video:

~$16 USD here on Maui.

4 1/2 stars

4 comments

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