Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Mon, 20 Feb 2017 00:00:36 -0500 Mon, 20 Feb 2017 00:00:36 -0500 Snooth This is the next big sparkling wine region. John Downes <p>In the United Kingdom and Europe, English sparkling wine is taking wine shelves, newspaper columns and wine enthusiasts by storm. So much so that I accompanied two of my corporate clients to the picturesque Surrey and Hampshire vineyards in the south of England last year; in previous years they had requested a visit to Champagne. It&rsquo;s not difficult to see why English sparkling wine, or &lsquo;ESW&rsquo; is so popular. For a start it&rsquo;s regularly beating Champagne at international tasting competitions, much to the annoyance of the Champenois!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> With about 2000 hectares (4,940 acres) under vine, England now boasts about 460 vineyards and 125 wineries, producing about 6 million bottles of wine a year. Not surprisingly, two-thirds of this total is now sparkling wine. The sector which keeps expanding year on year with the &lsquo;Champagne grapes&rsquo;, with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier now accounting for over 50 per cent of total varietal plantings, and growing.<br /> For the record, the most northerly commercial vineyard is near York in Yorkshire. Denbies in the beautiful Surrey hills is the largest vineyard covering an amazing 106 hectares (265 acres), making it one of the largest single vineyard estates in Europe.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> The number of countries enjoying English sparkling wine has increased by a third over the past year and is now exported to 27 countries, including the United States, Japan, Taiwan, France, Italy and the Scandinavian countries. &ldquo;With major producers on track to deliver a tenfold increase in exports, we could soon be tapping into more countries&rdquo;, boasted one winemaker. His confidence is well founded as multi million pound investment is pouring in.In what was once a cottage industry, immaculate, well managed vineyards and shiny, temperature controlled stainless steel wineries are now the norm.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Champagne may still be the bubble to beat but England is similar to the king of sparklers in so many ways. England&rsquo;s chilly, northerly climate&rsquo;s is similar to the Champagne region in north-east France and, what&rsquo;s more, Champagne&rsquo;s famous chalk soils slide under Paris, dip under the Channel and emerge in the south of England&hellip;&hellip;the white cliffs of Dover and all that?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> It doesn&rsquo;t stop there. The grape varieties are the same, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, whilst English sparkling wine is made in exactly the same way as Champagne with a second fermentation in the bottle. Here a pinch of sugar and a touch of yeast are added to a dry, still white wine before the bottle is sealed. The yeast reacts with the sugar to give a little more alcohol and carbon dioxide gas - the fizz. This gas builds up in the sealed bottle and as it can&rsquo;t escape becomes an integral part of the wine. Hey presto &ndash; we have English sparkling!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> So, you can see why for me, English sparkling wine is the ultimate Champagne lookalike.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> My favourite English sparklers? I have plenty but look out for Hambledon, Exton Park, Ridgeview, Nyetimber, Gusbourne, Camel Valley, Coates &amp; Seely, Wisto&hellip; the list goes on.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I&rsquo;m the world&rsquo;s number one fan of English sparkling wine so it was no surprise that Champagne Taittinger bought a large slice of Kent last year with a view to producing English sparkling wine whilst Champagne Pommery are now collaborating with Hattingley vineyard in Hampshire. Bet your bottom Euro more Champagne houses are on their way!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>John Downes, one of only 350 Masters of Wine in the world, is a speaker, television and radio broadcaster, and writer on wine. Check out his new website at <a href=""><strong></strong></a></em></p> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6903 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p>Sugarlands Shine - Mark and Digger&#39;s Hazelnut Rum ($28): Sugarlands Distilling Company worked in collaboration with Mark and Digger from the Moonshiner&rsquo;s TV show to create this flavored Rum. They combined Hazelnuts with rum in their still to create this expression. Mark and Digger&rsquo;s Hazelnut Rum was just released on January 3rd during an episode of moonshiners. For each jar sold that night they donated $1 to first responders to recent wildfires in Gatlinburg, TN.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s currently available online as well as at Sugarland&rsquo;s downtown Gatlinburg distillery store.<br /> Sugarlands Distilling Company worked in collaboration with Mark and Digger from the Moonshiner&rsquo;s TV show to create this flavored Rum. They combined Hazelnuts with rum in their still to create this expression. Mark and Digger&rsquo;s Hazelnut Rum was just released on January 3rd during an episode of moonshiners. For each jar sold that night they donated $1 to first responders to recent wildfires in Gatlinburg, TN.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s currently available online as well as at Sugarland&rsquo;s downtown Gatlinburg distillery store.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sipped neat aromas of both fresh and toasted hazelnuts leap from the glass. A host of spices such cloves, cinnamon and vanilla bean fill the palate along with continued references to hazelnut. Mesquite honey leads the inherent sweetness of the finish alongside firm toasty barrel notes and white pepper. If you enjoy your Rum on the sweet side with added natural flavors this is an offering you&rsquo;ll want to seek out.&nbsp; I liked it neat but I also experimented with a couple of different drink ideas, one that&rsquo;s well suited for the winter months and the other a slight modification of a classic.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Adult Hot Chocolate</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> 2 parts Hazelnut rum<br /><br /> 6 parts Hot Chocolate<br /><br /> 1 Tablespoon Whipped Cream<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Stir the Hazelnut Rum into the Hot Chocolate, top with the Whipped Cream and serve</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Italian Sunset</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> 2 Parts Hazelnut Rum<br /><br /> 3 Parts Orange Juice<br /><br /> 3 Parts Seltzer<br /><br /> A Dash of Grenadine<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Fill a glass with crushed ice. In succession add the rum, orange juice and seltzer. Top with a dash of Grenadine and garnish with 2 Maraschino Cherries. Serve without stirring.</em></p> Tue, 14 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6896 A different way to think about pink wine Michelle Williams <p>Provence is one of the oldest wine producing regions in the world. While Proven&ccedil;ale ros&eacute; may be a popular trend, production of wine in Provence is not. Wines of Provence has done a wonderful job marketing the Proven&ccedil;ale ros&eacute; as more than just a wine, it is a lifestyle. It is the South of France in a glass; crisp, refreshing, perfect for sunny day sipping, pairs seamlessly with seafood, shellfish, beaches, picnics, and open air cafes. The sun-drenched South of France art of living exists in a glass of Provence ros&eacute;. However, these wines are not &ldquo;one size fits all;&rdquo; rather, like a patchwork quilt, Proven&ccedil;ale ros&eacute;s are crafted with a variety of grapes in varying terroirs using many different winemaking techniques. One such technique is aging these ros&eacute;s in oak, resulting in a diverse wine that is ideal for winter consumption as well.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Provence is the gold standard for ros&eacute;. It is often light, bright, and refreshing, pairing elegantly with a large variety of cuisines. It is seen as a warm climate wine, ideal for spring and summer, with sales rising dramatically April through mid-September. However, Provence is the largest geographical wine region in France, producing a wide variety of ros&eacute;s. In fact, there are as many different styles of Proven&ccedil;ale ros&eacute; as there are producers, 582 to be exact.<br /> There are many characteristics that distinguish Proven&ccedil;ale ros&eacute;s. One such characteristic is color, with six approved colors that emulated by ros&eacute; producers around the globe. Other distinguishing characteristics of Provence is its soil and climate. The region contains two main soil types; western and central Provence soil contains limestone and limestone-clay; eastern Provence soil contains crystalline massif and schist, thus greatly impacting the vines and the overall taste of the wine. Because of the size of Provence it also experiences a variety of climates. The coastal regions of the east experience a temperate, seaside climate, the central region experiences an inland Mediterranean climate with hot and dry summer days and cold winters, and the north western region experiences a myriad of micro-climates, continental climates, and a very active Mistral wind. Provence ros&eacute; is a blend crafted of Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourv&egrave;dre, and Tibouren. The blending process is up to the discretion of the winemaker. Furthermore, even the process used to make ros&eacute; (direct pressing or maceration/bleeding) is up to each winemaker. However, in the end what is crafted from these elements of terroir and winemaking style accounts for what the world recognizes as Proven&ccedil;ale ros&eacute;.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There is one more key element of surprise available to the winemaker, an element that adds an entirely different dimension to Proven&ccedil;ale ros&eacute;: oak. Typically Proven&ccedil;ale ros&eacute;s are steel or concrete fermented, aged a short time in the bottle, and then shipped for early spring consumption. However, if you look hard you will find those aged in oak. And it is worth the search! These wines are ideal for consumption between October and March and pair elegantly with heartier cuisine. The added layers of flavors and textures of the oak treatment on Proven&ccedil;ale ros&eacute; take the wine to a different level of enjoyment.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Oak aged Proven&ccedil;ale ros&eacute;s not only offer depth and texture, they have age-ability. The older the oak aged ros&eacute; the more sherry-like in flavor it becomes, migrating from fresh berries and herbs to dried figs, apricots, caramel, and nutmeg; its texture becomes viscous like a dessert wine, yet it is not sweet and maintains its round acidity. For example, a 1996 Ch&acirc;teau Bas Le Temple Ros&eacute; today is vibrant, with layers of flavors and a rich texture.&nbsp; Additionally, the 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, and 2015 are stunning wines with depth and complexity. The 04 and 06 offer notes of holiday potpourri simmering on the stove. Oak aged Proven&ccedil;ale ros&eacute;s should be synonymous with holiday enjoyment and are an ideal way to enjoy ros&eacute;s year round.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> To start your oak aged Proven&ccedil;ale ros&eacute; wine collection here are three suggestions from outstanding wineries:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2015 Ch&acirc;teau Bas Le Temple Ros&eacute;</strong></a> Coteaux D&rsquo;Aix en Provence, France ($20): A blend of Mandarine with Mangue hues, crafted of 80% Mouv&egrave;dre and 20% Rolle, this wine offers notes of fresh red berries with soft notes of spice, it is crisp and round on the palate with a depth of richness and texture developed through the time it spent in French oak barrels. A perfectly structured wine with bright acidity and an added complexity that further expands the possibilities of an already food friendly wine. This wine has an aging potential of ten years or more; evolving into a mandarin, caramel, holiday spice, dried fig wine over time.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2015 Ch&acirc;teau Thuerry l&rsquo;Exception Merlot</strong></a> &ndash; Caladoc Ros&eacute;, IGP Var Coteaux Du Verdon, France: A pronounced Mandarine hue with a touch of Groseille added; crafted of 52% Merlot and 48% Caladoc, offering all the crisp red berry notes of a stainless steel rose with added spice notes and a touch of marcona almonds, refreshing with an added volume and depth due to its 7 months of aging in new French and American oak barrels, textural on the palate with round acidity and a lingering, mouth-coating finish. This wine claims a five year aging potential, longer is possible in proper conditions for an entirely new expression.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2014 Clos Cibonne Cotes de Provence Tradition Ros&eacute; Provence</strong></a>, France ($24): Beautiful Mangue color of soft pink with orange hues, crafted of 90% Tibouren and 10% Grenache, dazzling notes of cherries and strawberries are met with dried orange peel and baking spices, it has depth and texture that stands out among non-oak aged ros&eacute;s, it is full bodied, almost fat on the palate with layers of flavors and rich texture. This wine offers an elegant structure with more depth than the previous two ros&eacute;s because it is aged in French oak longer than the other two wines. Excellent aging potential for a metamorphosis of sherry style flavors in a crisp, acidic wine.</p> Fri, 10 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6902 It’s okay to buy value sparkling wine for Valentine’s Day. Mark Angelillo <p>I took my then-girlfriend, now-wife to Florence by way of Tuscany for our first Valentine&rsquo;s Day. The location in combination with more than a few bottles of <a href=""><strong>Vino Nobile di Montepulciano</strong></a> made for a memorable trip. Unfortunately for me, a Valentine&rsquo;s Day like that one is hard to top. But there is one thing we can do on Valentine&rsquo;s Day, year after year, wherever we are: pick a really lovely bottle of sparkling wine that will be memorable no matter where it is consumed. As I&rsquo;ve always said, we should be using sparkling wine to make something special happen in the absence of other ideas. The wine doesn&rsquo;t need to be expensive relative to the experience, which is why this article will focus on value. When it comes to sparkling wine, there is a catch: oftentimes - even when quality is lacking - the price point will be higher (perhaps by just a few dollars) because the wine sparkles. Add the time of year into the equation (in this case, Valentine&rsquo;s Day) and you find yourself buying an overpriced bottle of adequate sparkling wine. In light of this, I&rsquo;ve targeted a few producers who won&rsquo;t disappoint in terms of quality and price. These are some of my favorite values which I think you will enjoy most &ndash; whether you are in Florence or Florida this Valentine&rsquo;s Day.<br /><br /> <br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Ros&eacute; all the Way</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Mo&euml;t &amp; Chandon Rose Imperial Champagne NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This premium-priced bottle is a value in its own right, and it&rsquo;s the only premium bottle I will recommend this year. As far as I am concerned, this wine deserves a higher price point. Light and lively strawberry cranberry and cherry fruit aromas are framed by a bit of toast. Festive and smooth, this brings a delightful, delicate mouthfeel and more ripe strawberry notes, pink grapefruit and citrus pith with a creamy finish that delivers more tart cranberry and an herbal undernote. MSRP: $49.00, 12% ABV, 92 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ruffino Rose Extra Dry NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Glera, the grape used to make Prosecco, is blended with Pinot Noir to create this accessible ros&eacute; sparkler.&nbsp; Try it out on someone who likes Prosecco as a rule and they will be pleasantly surprised. Rose petal and sweet ripe cherry aromas and a strawberry preserve glaze. Creamy and smooth on the palate, frosted icing, cranberry and cherry fruit, and a red licorice finish. MRSP: $14.99, 11% ABV.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em><strong>Seeking Complexity</strong></em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Meyer-Fonne Brut Extra Cremant d&rsquo;Alsace NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I continue to bang on the Cremant d&rsquo;Alsace drum. The quality-to-price ratio is extremely high &ndash; among the highest on the market today. Depth and complexity are guaranteed. Heady savory lemon, toasted hazelnut and fresh yeast aromas are very aromatic here. There&rsquo;s a bit of cream on the palate which shifts towards lemon and grapefruit notes, more dark toast and smoky brioche, leading straight into a lighter note of peach and apple, finishing with vanilla, cream and some melon. MSRP: $26, 12% ABV, 91 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em><strong>Sweet Tooth</strong></em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Cantine Maschio Cadoro Moscato Dolce Puglia NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This is something different and accessible for the citrus fruit-bomb lovers in your life. Honeyed apple and peach, apricot, and sweet syrupy orange blossom on the nose. Effervescent and juicy on the palate, this one is for those with a sweet tooth. Clementine juice and pith full on the palate with a white blossom edge and a creamy finish. MSRP: $8.99, 7.5% ABV.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em><strong>Classic Flavors</strong></em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Anna de Codorniu Blanc de Blancs Brut Reserva Cava NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Anna de Codorniu paved the way for the United States&rsquo; Cava craze, and they continue to deliver as a leader in the category. Light floral aromas of orange blossom, green apple and pear with pungent spice and a hint of lemon. Expressive palate of Meyer lemon, grapefruit and apple with creamy pastry crust notes and a frolicking texture. There&#39;s a touch of tart citrus pith on the finish adding a bit of complexity to this agreeable crowd pleaser. MSRP: $15, 11.5% ABV, 90 pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Domaine Saint-Remy Cremant d&#39;Alsace NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Elegant fruity aromas of glazed pear, fresh apple and vanilla cream on the nose. This exhibits a truly fresh palate of lively stone fruit, pierced with zesty acidity and a pile of spice - and wrapped in a creamy layer of vanilla bean, rolled oats and brioche. MSRP: $22, 12.5% ABV, 92 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Treveri Blanc de Noirs Brut Columbia Valley NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The only dedicated sparkling wine producer in Washington State is a master of its trade. Light, salmon color. A savory spice greets the nose with red fruit aromas of strawberry and cherry. A touch of medicine and licorice to start, this warms in the mouth with more light red fruit notes of watermelon and cherry with a finish of dried fruit. MSRP: $20, 12% ABV<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Vilarnau Brut Reserva Cava NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Light grapefruit and lemon aromas. Tart and focused in the mouth with a creamy yeast note, this is austere yet restrained with pear and green apple fruit notes coming through on the finish. MSRP: $12.99, 11.5% ABV<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Bodega Norton Extra Brut Mendoza NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fresh lemon and pear aromas with light potpourri notes. The floral notes continue on to the palate where light peach, apple and grapefruit notes mix with good acidity and a pleasantly viscous mouthfeel, finishing with a bit more lemon and an oak note. MSRP: $15, ABV 12%.</p> Thu, 09 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6901 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><br /> Calvados Boulard Pays d&rsquo;Auge VSOP ($45): All of the apples used for Calvados Boulard are harvested from orchards located in the Pays d&rsquo;Auge region of Normandy. Everything undergoes a double distillation process followed by several years of aging in French oak. Final blends are culled from brandies of different ages and from different sites. Founded in 1825, Calvados Boulard is a family producer 5 generations into their history. They&rsquo;re recognized as one of the leading Apple Brandy producers out there. In 2015 they were named the Calvados Distillery of the year at the NY Spirits Competition. Their range includes 4 distinct expressions. The VSOP is their entry level Brand. It&rsquo;s also available in 200ml flask size packaging ($20).<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Hints of fruitcake spice, toast and bright orchard fruit are all evident on the nose. Droves of baked apple characteristics are joined by spices such nutmeg and vanilla bean on the flavorful and well-proportioned palate. The finish is layered and gentle with continuing orchard fruits, particularly golden delicious apple, spices and a final dollop of toasty oak.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Calvados Boulard VSOP works well sipped neat in a snifter, but it also makes for a lovely cocktail component. After experimenting with several classic recipes I found that my favorite use of Calvados Boulard VSOP is in a Manhattan.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Apple Brandy Manhattan</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> 2 Parts Calvados Boulard VSOP<br /><br /> 1 Part Red Vermouth<br /><br /> A Dash of Angostura Bitters<br /><br /> Orange Zest<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Mix all of the ingredients together briefly in a shaker. Pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Enjoy.</em></p> Tue, 07 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6895 Surprise! Bordeaux is Modern and Affordable. Gabe Sasso <p>Bordeaux is different things to different people. To many seasoned wine lovers it&rsquo;s one of the most prestigious wine regions in the world, home to some of the greatest reds and whites the planet has to offer. When you look at Bordeaux&rsquo;s track record of excellence through quality, scores and reputation over generations this is a fair and well-earned assessment. To a completely separate group of people Bordeaux can come across a bit differently than that. Take the newer American wine lover for instance. Their experience with wine might have started out by drinking wines from California. They&rsquo;re comfortable with the price points and the fact that the front label most often boldly exclaims &ldquo;Cabernet Sauvignon,&rdquo; &ldquo;Merlot,&rdquo; or &ldquo;Sauvignon Blanc&rdquo;. At first blush these particular folks should be interested in Bordeaux as those are three of the key grapes upon which Bordeaux&rsquo;s legend rests. However some are intimidated by a variety of perceptions that range from, &ldquo;All the wines are expensive,&rdquo; or &ldquo;You have to age them a long time,&rdquo; to &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not sure what grapes are in there.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The truth is there was a time when all of these were valid claims -- to varying degrees, of course. However over the last few decades there has been a shift in Bordeaux.<br /> Certainly pricey, highly rated, age-worthy wines are still in evidence. However more and more vintners have recognized the shift of world-wide palates. Many wine lovers are looking for wines that can be consumed early alongside their favorite contemporary meals. Like everyone else they love a good value too. Bordeaux winemakers are planting more white grapes than before and producing more ros&egrave; to help quench the growing global thirst for that style. Many of these same producers are also putting the grape varieties in question on the back label so that consumers know exactly what&rsquo;s in the bottle they&rsquo;re purchasing. They do all of this while still maintaining their focus on the idea that the vineyard is the driving force behind any great wine. I just tasted through a case of wine from Bordeaux. Here are my thoughts about my nine favorite wines from that dozen. They&rsquo;re all reasonably priced with none reaching forty dollars. Each of them is also delicious and well-represents Bordeaux . So, if you haven&rsquo;t been drinking Bordeaux because of old ideas, the time is right to taste what they&rsquo;ve been up to!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ch&acirc;teau Du Champs Des Treilles 2015 &ldquo;Vin Passion&rdquo; Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux</strong></a> ($15)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This producer has twenty-four acres under vine, sixteen for red and eight for white. They farm using biodynamic methods and harvest manually. This wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (34%), S&egrave;millon (33%), and Muscadelle (33%). White flowers, orange zest and white pepper dominate the nose. The palate is remarkably fresh and loaded with appealing fruits such as yellow melon and hints of green apple. Wet limestone leads the long, crisp, pleasing finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Close Des Lunes 2014 Blanche Bordeaux</strong></a> ($20)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This blend of S&egrave;millon (70%) and Sauvignon Blanc (30%) comes from the Sauternes region, an area most famous for outstanding dessert wines. Aging occurred over seven months on the lees. Stone fruit and lemon ice aromas lead the way here. The palate shows of restrained gooseberry, peach and wisps of savory herbs are evident on the even-keeled palate. Continued citrus notes are evident on the persistent finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ch&acirc;teau De C&eacute;rons 2013 Blanc Sec Graves</strong></a> ($28)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Twenty-seven of their sixty-four acres are dedicated to white grapes, some of which go to sweet wines. This one blends Sauvignon Blanc (50%), with S&egrave;millon (40%), and Sauvignon Gris (10%). They harvest by hand and age in stainless steel on the lees. White peach and hints of papaya are evident on the nose. The concentrated palate is loaded with stone fruits, citrus and tiny bits of Anjou pear. Kiwi, white pepper and lemon ice are all in evidence on the finish. Lively acid keeps things mouth-watering.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Chateau Tire P&eacute; 2012 &ldquo;Diem&rdquo; Bordeaux </strong></a>($12)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This is one hundred percent Merlot from vines with ten to fifteen years of age on them. This family owned and operated organic producer makes their everyday wines with minimal use of oak. This offering was aged in concrete tanks for nine months. Red cherry aromas are underscored by a gentle hint of tar on the nose. The palate is stuffed with a burst of fresh red fruit flavors from the aforementioned cherry to bits of raspberry. Dried strawberry, black pepper and earth are all evident on the finish. At around $12 this is absolute steal. If you need a new house red, look no further.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ch&agrave;teau Mauvesin Barton 2012 Moulis-En-M&egrave;doc </strong></a>($21)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This blend of Merlot (48%), Cabernet Sauvignon (35%), Cabernet Franc (14%), and Petit Verdot (3%) came from thirty-five year old vines. The fruit is harvested by block and optically sorted. Each lot was separately aged over twelve months in new and previously used oak. The dollop of Petit Verdot blended in here provides a velvety edge that is evident from the first sip onward. Black cherry and bits of blackberry are evident on the nose. Cassis and bits of black raspberry dot the palate. Chicory, black pepper and a hint of chocolate are all evident on the solid finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Clos Puy Arnaud 2013 La Cuv&egrave;e Bistrot De Puy Arnaud Castillon C&ograve;tes De Bordeaux</strong></a> ($25)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> All twenty-seven acres of their vineyards are dedicated to red grapes. They are certified biodynamic. This is a classic Right Bank blend of Merlot (70%), and Cabernet Franc (30%). Aging took place over 3 months in cement vats; it is one hundred percent unoaked. Leather and cherry aromas leap from the nose. The palate shows off plums, cloves, and black cherry. Currant, minerals and additional red and black fruit flavors continue through the above average finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ch&acirc;teau De Reignac 2010 Bordeaux Sup&egrave;rieur</strong></a> ($31)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Three quarters of their two-hundred acres are dedicated to red grapes. The vines have an average age of forty-two years old. Merlot (75%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (25%) make up the blend here. Aging took place in French oak barrels, stainless steel and wooden vats. Hints of toasty oak underpin oodles of red fruit aromas. The palate here is filled with fresh red cherry flavors, black pepper and bits of thyme. Hints of roasted coffee, earth and continued spice notes are evident on the long finish. Racy acid and firm tannins provide excellent structure.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Clos Du Jaugueyron 2012 Haut-M&egrave;doc</strong></a> ($36)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This small producer has only 7.4 acres under vine. They are certified organic and biodynamic. This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (53%), Merlot (40%), and Petit Verdot (7%). Barrel aging took place over twelve months in new (25%) and used (75%) oak. Ripe wild strawberry, cassis and vanilla aromas burst from the nose. The palate is loaded with rich berry fruit flavors that are underpinned with hints of espresso. Chicory, black pepper and a bit of sage are all evident on the long, layered finish<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ch&agrave;teau Du Seuil 2014 C&egrave;rons</strong></a> ($34)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This certified organic producer has thirty-seven acres in Graves and twenty-four in C&ograve;tes de Bordeaux. It&rsquo;s composed entirely of S&egrave;millon. Hand harvesting occurred over several weeks to assure proper levels of Botrytis. Fermentations and aging took place over twelve months in new and previously used oak. White peach and apricot aromas are joined by bits of vanilla bean. The palate here is stuffed with oodles of fresh, pure fruit flavors. The honeyed finish shows off mango, and dried apricot. Firm, racy acid keeps this balanced and refreshing. </p> Fri, 03 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6899 These New Wave Wine Grapes Are Really Catching On Snooth Editorial <p>A new year provides the perfect opportunity to try new things, but how far will you go?&nbsp; Many wine drinkers cling to familiar grape varieties or settle for what&rsquo;s in easy reach. Don&rsquo;t miss out, wine lover. There are between 5,000 and 10,000 varieties of Vitis Vinifera, the plant species responsible for nearly all wine grapes, planted around the world. Certain grapes have risen the ranks because of their universally unobjectionable flavors, tendency to resist vine diseases, and general amiability in vineyards. A slew of wonderful wine grapes have been overlooked for centuries, but things are starting to change. The rise of global communication has made it easier than ever for wine drinkers to discover new grapes. Today&rsquo;s consumer climate demands that which is new (to us) and exotic. We have a strong desire to stay ahead of trends. The web&rsquo;s top wine writers are here to speculate on grapes that could be part of a new wave. Heed their counsel -- and if you don&rsquo;t see these grapes at your local restaurants and retailers, just ask.<br /> <strong>Ancient, Indigenous, Un-named</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> January is resolution time. How about abandoning eat less, work out more and embrace a wine-filled resolution? Domaine Biblia Chora has crafted a wine that is delicious and unique, perfect for a new year&rsquo;s resolution of trying new grape varieties in 2017. The <strong>2011 Biblia Chora Biblinos Oenos</strong> is crafted of a 100% un-named local varietal; clear deep ruby in the glass; aromas of fresh red and black fruit, black pepper, dusty earth, minerality, and a faint trail of pleasing charred oak; the wine offered medium acidity, tannins, body, and finish; it offers a very pleasing rustic earthiness, it is not overly complex but quite delicious. This wine is believed to be crafted of the same varietal from the 8th century BC used by the Greeks and Phoenicians to make Sacred Wine. Upon discovering these vines growing wild in an ancient vineyard and DNA testing the grapes, Biblia Chora confirmed the grapes were vitis vinifera, but not related to any modern grapes. So embrace something new this year with this ancient, indigenous, un-named varietal.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Michelle Williams</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Rockin Red Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Baco Noir</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Baco Noir, created by Fran&ccedil;ois Baco, is a hybrid of the French variety, Folle Blanche, and an unknown variety of North American Vitis riparia. Once produced in Burgundy and the Loire, it made its way to North America, where it is now considered by many in the wine world to be a quintessential American grape. Because of its cold hardiness, it is grown around Canada and United States in areas such as Michigan, New York, Niagara Peninsula, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Quebec, and Wisconsin. Baco Noir is darkly pigmented and possesses the zingy acidity that I crave in a red wine, making it fantastically food friendly. However, what I most love about Baco Noir is its bucolic quality and its ability to demonstrate terroir like nobody&#39;s business. Baco Noir can be made in a variety of styles, from Bordeaux-style to Burgundian, but I fell in love with the latter, lighter style made by Hudson-Chatham Winery in Ghent, New York, Columbia County&#39;s first winery, which opened to the public in 2007. The winemaking philosophies of the winery - history, terroir, dirt, rocks, fruit, and wine - are showcased magnificently through its selection of Baco Noirs. I am especially enamored with how Hudson-Chatham handcrafts these wines with minimal intervention, unfiltered and unfined, which renders a rusticity that cannot be ignored. Combine that with its characteristic tart berry flavors, spice, minerality, and vibrant acidity, you have a delicious, masterful wine. When you seek out Baco Noir, Hudson-Chatham should be the first stop on your journey. However, once you have tasted theirs, the bar has been set and other examples may find themselves in the shadow of Hudson-Chatham Baco Noir.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Elizabeth Smith</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Traveling Wine Chick</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Baco Noir</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Baco Noir is a hybrid of the folle blanche grape used for French cognac, and the vitis riperia (riverbank grape) native to the North American midwest. The vitis riperia has a hearty roots that are resistant to phylloxera and leafy foliage that resist mildew and black rot, so it was a chosen as robust rootstock for French grapes capable of producing wine. Baco Noir is a grape variety I first tried in Canada. It tasted local, was easy to enjoy, and I was intrigued by the flavor profile and the capability of regional wines, cultivated and created in harsher environments than pinot noir. The result is a medium bodied, rustic red wine, deeply tinted in color, that is high in acidity. The wines often exhibit flavors of red and blue plums and berries, sometimes with an essence of cedar or wildflower, capable of maturing nicely in oak. And in Northern regions, they can survive challenging growing conditions and colder climates. Easily found in the Ontario Canada, Hudson Valley, and Finger Lakes wine regions to name just a few.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jim van Bergen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>JvBUncorked</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Charbano</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Winter weather finds certain grape varieties in my glass that don&rsquo;t often appear there in the summer months; one of them is Charbono. There are less than 100 acres under vine of this grape in California which is a lot more than you&rsquo;ll find planted anywhere else. While it&rsquo;s a cult grape today it has a history of higher prominence. Up until 1989 there was a Charbono Society that held dinners in and around Napa Valley. Over the last decade handfuls of additional producers have either made an occasional Charbono in the years they can get fruit, or in a few cases planted some and added it to their regular portfolio, albeit in fairly small quantities. The standard bearer of Charbono and the winery with the highest case production has for some years now been Summers in Calistoga. Their Charbono is available nationally and does a wonderful job representing this grape. The hallmarks that speak to me are the combination of juicy, dark fruits and firm backbone of acid. When handled appropriately this leads to a wine that is appealing in its youth when it&rsquo;s full of boisterous and often brooding fruit flavors, as well as eminently positioned to age, often for decades. Summers 2014 Estate Charbono ($35) is grown on their property in Calistoga. This vintage has the classic characteristics that Charbono disciples crave. Black plum and spice leap from the nose. Blackberry and blueberry are joined by bits of black olive and copious spice notes on the palate. The long, firm finish shows off all of those characteristics as well as hints of sweet dark chocolate and a final dollop of blueberry. It&rsquo;s incredibly appealing now but it&rsquo;ll morph in appealing manners over the next 15-20 years.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Gabe Sasso</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Gabe&rsquo;s View</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Encruzado</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Last year I enjoyed one of the most memorable white wines I&rsquo;ve ever had; the 2008 Torre de Tavares Encruzado D&atilde;o. The wine was elaborated from what is arguably Portugal&rsquo;s finest white wine grape; Encruzado.&nbsp; You&rsquo;ve never heard of the Encruzado grape?&nbsp; Neither had I!&nbsp; It is an indigenous light-skinned grape variety grown almost exclusively in the D&atilde;o region of northern Portugal. It&rsquo;s a grape variety that performs well in the vineyard producing grapes with balanced sugar and acidity. It is well suited to the D&atilde;o, where the grapes benefit from the diurnal temperature variation associated with higher altitudes. There it is used in blends and, increasingly varietal wines. If handled with TLC, Encruzado produces highly perfumed, elegant and complex wines with an apricot, quince, green citrus, floral, light spice and herbal character that are very fresh with an exceptional waxy mouthfeel. The wines can age well for decades. It may be a challenge to track down a bottle of Encruzado, but if you&rsquo;re looking for a white wine that may evoke distinguished white Burgundies while exhibiting its own unique character, I bet you&rsquo;ll find it is worth the effort!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Martin Redmond</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>ENOFYLZ Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Furmint</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> For those unfamiliar with Furmint, I highly recommend kick-starting the new year with this white grape variety. Furmint is native to the Tokaj region of Hungary. It is the main grape used in making the world-famous and deliciously satisfying botrytized dessert wines the region is renowned for. What is not well known is Furmint is vinified into a refreshing dry white wine, too -- one that is worthy of your attention. Like Riesling, Furmint has naturally high levels of acidity. High acidity is required in dessert wines to balance the residual sugars; otherwise, the wine will be sickly sweet and cloying. As a drier-style table wine, Furmint is lively and crisp and a natural partner to a wide range of foods. My pick for this post is B&eacute;res 2014 Tokaji Dry Furmint. This wine is bright and fresh with stone fruit and melon flavors joined by a slight nuttiness, citrus pith and an appealing mineral edge that surfaces towards the back-end. There is some richness in the texture that&rsquo;s propped up by racy acidity that carries through to the vibrant, clean finish. I hope you can find this wine; I think you will like it! If you cannot find it, the next time you visit your local wine shop ask if they carry any Dry Furmint. If you find something you really enjoy, please share it with us in the comment section. Thanks for reading and I hope the new year is off to a great start for you!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Dezel Quillen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>My Vine Spot</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Godello</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> There is a reason why a smaller number of Spanish growers rallied to save the Godello grape a few decades ago when it almost disappeared. Godello is a white variety of grape growth in Northwestern Spain (also thought to be the same as the Gouveio grape in Portugal). It has been described as akin to chardonnay but I think that it transforms with a little air in the glass &ndash; to me, it&rsquo;s a mix somewhere between a chenin blanc, viognier and chardonnay. It has texture, floral notes, complexity, honeysuckle, citrus and a great minerality. I first discovered Godello on a #olewinos press trip to Bierzo and I have yet to find a bottle that doesn&rsquo;t keep me guessing on which grape is best reflected.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Melanie Ofenloch</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>DallasWineChick</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Limnio</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Everything old is new again and Limnio, a wonderful Greek grape, though today elusive to US consumers, was famous in the world of Aristotle. He wrote about Limnio comparing its flavor to oregano. Cultivated first on the island of Lemnos, which gives Limnio its name, the grapes tend to produce higher alcohol wines with herbaceous notes, berry characteristics and interesting textures.&nbsp; I tried it in a blend called &quot;Avaton&quot; produced by Ktima Gerovasilliou. &quot;Ktima&quot; means &quot;estate&quot; in Greek. Ktima Gerovasilliou is a 138 acre parcel close to Thessalonika at the edge of the Epanomi wine region and somewhat adjacent to the Northern Aegean location of Lemnos.&nbsp; &ldquo;Avaton&rdquo; ($60) is made up of more than 50% Limnio with 25% Mavrotragano and 20% Mavroudi, which are all red Greek grapes. The resulting blend brings together the best from all its varieties into a luscious (and easy to pronounce) wine with earth, tobacco, plum and berry flavors and aromas.&nbsp; Aging in oak foudres enhances the texture. This wine is a perfect match for wintry dishes like game, stews and best of all grilled lamb. Look for this eternally modern wine to enjoy &ldquo;new wave&rdquo; history in a glass.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Liza Swift</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>BrixChicks</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Marquette</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> One of my personal wine intentions for 2017 is to expand my palate by exploring wines made from lesser-known varieties like Aidani, Godello, Fer Servadou, Nerello Mascalese, and hybrid grapes like Marquette. Hybrid grape varieties are often dismissed by oenophiles for producing foxy or one-dimensional wines (understandable in many cases). A committed group of farmers are helping to change the perception of hybrid grapes by making compelling wines made from these grapes. One of the most promising hybrids is a cold hardy hybrid red grape called Marquette. Developed at the University of Minnesota and introduced in 2006, Marquette is a cross between two other hybrids and is a descendent of Pinot Noir. Well made Marquette wines tend to be fresh, juicy, fairly high in acid with notes dark cherry and spice. One of the most compelling wines made from Marquette I&rsquo;ve enjoyed is called Damejeanne from La Garagista Farm + Winery in Vermont (yes, Vermont!). With a focus on organic and biodynamic farming, La Garagista is a small yet amazing farm and winery that offers some of the most impressive wines made from hybrid grapes. The 2013 Damejeanne (includes 10% La Crescent) is fresh, juicy, offering notes cherry, spice and hints of earth. Balanced with lovely bright cherry acidity; delicious! La Garagista wines sell out as fast as they are made and are difficult to find so look for quality Marquette wines from Lincoln Peak Winery (Vermont) and Champoux Vineyards/Powers (Washington).<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Frank Morgan</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Drink What YOU Like</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pineau d&rsquo;Aunis</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sometimes in reading about a grape variety or varietal wine my interest is piqued and I go on a hunt to find that wine. The hunt becomes part of the fun of the discovery. Other times a new wine comes to me. Literally. It&rsquo;s just poured into my wine glass. That&rsquo;s what happened recently at a wine tasting when I was poured a glass of Pineau d&rsquo;Aunis. Pineau what? Pineau d&rsquo;Aunis (pronounced Pee-no Doh-nee) is red variety grown in several central Loire Valley appellations in France, perhaps since the 9th century. I&rsquo;ve read a couple of theories as to where the variety originated and how it got its name. In any event, Pineau d&rsquo;Aunis is not widely planted. It is unrelated to Pinot Noir and sometimes called Chenin Noir in the Loire Valley even though is unrelated to Chenin Blanc, a star of the appellation. Pineau d&rsquo;Aunis is used to make red, white, ros&eacute; and sparkling wines. I came home from the wine tasting with a bottle of that Pineau d&rsquo;Aunis, Pascal Janvier 2015 Coteaux du Loir Rouge &ldquo;Cuv&eacute;e du Rosier&rdquo;. It is translucent ruby in the glass with aromas of black pepper, cedar and red fruit which are immediate and generous. Pomegranate and dried cherry flavors are liberally seasoned with the same black pepper and cedar so evident in the aromas. The body is light and tannins are drying and significant. Flavors and tannins last a very long time. It is contemplative, intriguing and complex. It was delicious on a chilly winter evening and it will be amazing on a warm summer afternoon as well. Intrigued? I hope so, and I hope your hunt will become part of the fun of a new wine discovery for you. Cheers!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Nancy Brazil</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pull that Cork</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Ribolla Gialla</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Even though it&rsquo;s winter &ndash; I&rsquo;m actually writing this as I defrost from making a snow angel in 10F (-12C) NYC winter weather &ndash; I&rsquo;m going to recommend an obscure white grape with zing: Ribolla Gialla. It is an ancient variety, first mentioned in 1296, and can be made sparkling, orange or typically light, dry and still. But what makes this quite special, in my mind, when made well, is that it can give floral notes and rich aromatics of honey yet has a bracing acidity that is exhilarating. Right now I&rsquo;m drinking a 2014 Ascevi Luwa Cer&ograve;u Ronco Superiore Ribolla Gialla, from its traditional home of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy. It has a beautiful honeysuckle, white pepper nose with a distinctive honeycomb flavor with hints of lemon zest, a saline minerality and a bracing acidity that made me giggle with delight like a little schoolgirl. Last October, I was fortunate enough to taste a sparkling Ribolla Gialla from Piera Martellozzo, called 075 Carati. As you can imagine, its flavors and acidity went well with a sparkling style &ndash; but I&rsquo;m afraid they don&rsquo;t have distribution in the US yet. Finally, it makes the most famous orange wine in the world. Josko Gravner&rsquo;s Anfora is Ribolla Gialla that has extended skin contact while fermented in clay amphora. It is orange in color with golden tints &ndash; striking in flavor profile as well as color. Life can still be surprising, fun and spontaneous &ndash; like an impetuous decision to fling oneself into the snow, or to grab an obscure white wine to drink when it&rsquo;s way below freezing out. Life does not have to be the same old, same old, so make that leap and buy the wine that challenges your comfort zone. Happy winter drinking!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cathrine Todd</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dame Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Rkatsiteli</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I was in California to speak at a wine tourism conference. During the opening night reception, I was making my way around the room intentionally tasting wines I had not encountered before. Someone suggested I go by the Georgia table. I am from Georgia - Macon Georgia - the land of fresh peaches, boiled peanuts, and traditional manners. I thought, of course I would go over and say &ldquo;Hey.&rdquo; But these were wines from Georgia - the Kakheti region of Georgia - the land of buried qvevri (clay fermentation vessels), the land where winemaking began.&nbsp; I was standing in front of the line up from Pheasant&rsquo;s Tears&nbsp; and I was about to put something very ancient, yet very novel (to me) in my mouth. Before &ldquo;orange wines&rdquo; were trendy, like since 6000 BC, vintners in Georgia were leaving juice in skin contact (red and white) and adding in ripe stems. Wines are fermented and aged underground in the beeswax lined qvevri. What results are wines of complexity, texture, and layers of almost familiar wine notes in a concentrated, savoriness that hints at their exotic history. Wines you do not simply taste, but you experience. Fairly widely distributed, you can actually get your hands on Pheasant&rsquo;s Tears wines in the U.S. I walked away with a recipe and a bottle of Rkatsiteli, a dry full-bodied white wine from a grape of the same name. (retail $20ish) I look forward to reliving its honeyed nuttiness. I will share notes on the pairing the next season heirloom tomatoes are available.&nbsp; For more on Georgia wines I recommend the book, For the Love of Wine: My Odyssey Through the World&rsquo;s Most Ancient Wine Culture by Alice Feiring.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jade Helm, DWS, CS, CSW</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong></strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Susumaniello</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This New Wave grape is ancient. Susumaniello hails from Salento in Apulia, at the heel of Italy&rsquo;s boot. It&rsquo;s grown almost exclusively around the town of Brindisi, often finding its way into rustic blends with confederates like Negroamaro, Primitivo, and Malvasia Nera. But it&rsquo;s now being made as a varietal wine, and Tenute Rubino, which I visited in September 2016, produces two versions that show the fruit&rsquo;s flexibility. Their Torre Testa is dense and plummy, with a coffee-steeped body and ornaments of barrel spice. Meanwhile Oltrem&eacute; is its un-oaked, youthful counterpart, jazzed with red fruits and sprung with pliant tannins. (Rubino even makes a sparkling Susumaniello, regrettably not imported.) A refreshing piquancy runs through these wines, proving Susumaniello a versatile companion to the region&rsquo;s fare: the ripe, savory, and olive-oil-saturated.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Meg Houston Maker</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Maker&#39;s Table</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Teran</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> When it comes to obscure grape varietals, there are literally hundreds that you could select from. If you look to any of my fellow wine writers that have shared their thoughts here, you can see that many of us are members (or aspiring members) of the Century Club; this unique society requires us to go out and seek unusual and lesser known varietals.&nbsp; My favorite obscure varietal is one I discovered while on a trip in Croatia &ndash; Teran.&nbsp; Known as Terrano in Italy, of which the Istrian peninsula was once part of, Teran is a dark and meaty grape that reminds me of Touriga Nacional.&nbsp; Classically, it was the workhorse grape behind the Yugoslovian bulk wine, which wineries were forced to produce.&nbsp; Today Teran is making a resurgence as an elegant, powerful red wine. With rich black fruit, spice, and earth, it is the perfect companion for a steak or duck dishes and will keep you warm on a winter night. Recently, Slovenia has come on the scene with sparkling Teran, similar in style to Australian sparkling Shiraz. This sparkling red wine is savory, meaty, and herbal in nature and makes for a delicious interlude with any meal.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Thea Dwelle</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Luscious Lushes Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Trousseau</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> If you&rsquo;re looking for a new palate adventure, check out wines made from Trousseau. This red grape hails from the Jura region of France, and is grown in appellations like Arbois and the Cotes du Jura. In Portugal, it goes by the hilarious varietal name Bastardo, and has also been used in Madeira wine. It likes heat and sunshine, but it&rsquo;s unique in its tart, fresh, funky, sour red fruited appeal. These are not dense, viscous wines full of oak-influence and jammy fruit; think of them as reds to pair with cured meats and olive spreads, veggies, or even baked fish or chicken. Trousseau tends to show a wilder range of flavors like tart strawberry, sour cherry, black tea, pepper, pickle and sage. Jura Trousseau is a must for those who enjoy the &ldquo;natural wine&rdquo; notion, but there are some really cool iterations coming out of California, notably from producers like Copain, Arnot-Roberts, and Sandlands.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Isaac James Baker</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Reading, Writing &amp; Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Vranec</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The new wave yet, beginning to get discovered grape that I chose comes from emerging Macedonia. The red wine grape, Vranec, also known as, &#39;The Black Stallion&#39; or &#39;Black Grape&#39; has a reputation for being potent.&nbsp; When used as a blending grape with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, the aromatics of strawberries and red cherries create a seducing aroma. On its own, again, the aromatics lure you into sampling the complex, fruity grape that has a licorice and cocoa backbone. It&#39;s dark color and powerful fruit make Vranec a contender as a &#39;New Wave Grape.&#39;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Philip Kampe</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>The Wine Hub</strong></a></p> Thu, 26 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6891 Millennial Wine Consumers in The United States Mark Angelillo <p>As millennials come of age and begin exploring wine as a passion and a pastime, they are causing a tectonic shift in the wine business. The fundamentals of the business have been tacitly accepted by wine drinkers for decades -- the same varietals and regions have been favored vintage after vintage. Traditionally preferred grapes and regions are not falling into disfavor, per say, but rather the field is widening to include a broader array of selections. Each ensuing generation wants to do things its own way, and so the same is true for the millennial wine drinking generation. The shift toward &ldquo;new&rdquo; grapes (no matter how old they truly are) and heretofore overlooked regions is being led by a young group of wine drinkers, aged twenty-one to thirty-five, who demand a wider range of choices, drinking experiences, and values. It has been over a decade since social media began to take hold, and the millennial wine drinking generation is at the forefront of the digital movement. From Facebook to Snapchat and everything in between, engage-worthy, shareable moments are highly prized digital currency. For the wine industry, millennials present a new set of challenges and opportunities. Never before has it been so easy to reach a wide wine drinking audience and convince them to try something new. At the same time, our tried and true strategies which rely on brand loyalty and hand-selling are evolving.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Who are these so-called millennials?</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Much ink has been spilled about the characteristics of the typical millennial. There are anomalies in every group, but by and large millennials shares a few key traits. The millennial generation is composed of 75 million internet natives born between the early 1980s and mid-to-late 1990s, many of whom are devout foodies anxious to share their experiences with food and beverage with their rapidly expanding social networks. That said, this is the era of the wine pairing -- the quirkier the better. Never before has it been so easy to broadcast wine bottle shots, labels and logos to a large number of people. Digital technology also provides the tools to create exquisite photographs with which users style their unique social media personae. The millennial wine drinker is happy to put your brand or region on blast, so long as it pleases them in some way.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Socio-economically speaking, this generation delays a lot of the traditional adult milestones, whether through preference or because of macroeconomic factors. Millennials tend to live in their childhood homes for a longer period of time and defer marriage and children until later than previous generations. On a macro level, it&rsquo;s important to remember that millennials grew up during the Global Financial Crisis. As a result they understand the importance of considered purchases and revel in a good deal. Internet shopping has made price comparison shopping more available than ever before. Expect your millennial wine drinkers to be cost-conscious and price savvy.&nbsp; They want to be able to buy your wine online with ease. And while this generation started out on desktops, they now lead the charge in the &ldquo;mobile-first&rdquo; philosophy. Since Snooth&rsquo;s inception we&rsquo;ve seen mobile traffic increase to almost 50% of our traffic mix. When we first began, mobile phones were not nearly as affordable or useful as they are today. I have little doubt that mobile and tablet browsing will continue to lead the way into the future of computing.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Millennials want you to embrace the digital realm.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This is the first generation to prefer electronic transactions over in-person meetings. It is up to the industry to use digital platforms to engender the desire to seek out a particular wine or region. Once that groundwork has been laid and the millennial consumer is in your tasting room or event, they will become immersed in the experience. One of the ways regions and brands have used digital platforms to engage an evolving audience is with designated grape and region days. These designated days are promoted via social media and events spanning multiple markets. #GarnachaDay, for example, is a nationwide effort led by a few key regions in Eastern Spain. By galvanizing audiences across the country about the Garnacha grape on the same day, brand awareness can be built and somewhat directed. There has also been renewed interest in Chile&rsquo;s Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re. Now in its third year, #Carm&eacute;n&egrave;reDay celebrates the re-discovery of the grape in 1994. Plantings have increased by 140% between 2000 and 2014, for a total of 11,319 hectares under vine. Both Garnacha and Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re are available to United States wine consumers at good values, and the awareness generated by a designated day campaign is helpful to the continued cultivation of interest in the grapes by the bottle and glass. The hashtag allows for interactive participation and celebration that can be broadcast to large, intertwined social networks. While there is no shortage of designated hashtag days (not only for wine, but food and other causes too), there is room for everyone. Designated hashtag days provide the desired opportunity for millennial social media users to have voices in a larger conversation, but be prepared to invest deeply in these opportunities and bring your friends, lest your campaign fall on few ears.<br /> <strong>Millennials are building upon the wine knowledge of their predecessors.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Wine consumption in the United States has increased every year since 2000, and that growth is being driven by millennials. They build on what they know about the previous generation&rsquo;s wine drinking habits and seek to turn that information on its head with new trends and unique interpretations. Barolo is a key example. Barolo&rsquo;s indigenous white wine grape, Nascetta, disappeared after World War II. But a new generation of forward-thinking producers has plugged into the millennial generation&rsquo;s thirst for something new and brought the grape back into view. The concept of &ldquo;White Barolo&rdquo; is a nod to the architects of wine history, but shows a desire by succeeding generations to innovate and disrupt the status quo. Plantings began in 2005, with the first vintages released in 2008. Many plantings are grown using sustainable and organic farming methods, which is also important to millennials. They want a lot of choice, but those choices should have a positive impact on the environment and their own health.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Millennials care about sustainability, variety, and enotourism.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Much to the millennial wine drinker&rsquo;s delight, one of the leaders in sustainable wine growing in the United States is California&rsquo;s Lodi region. Introduced in 2005, The Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing is California&rsquo;s original, third party verified sustainable viticulture certification program. It is hailed for its rigor and transparency, acting as a benchmark for this type of program around the world. In addition, Lodi is uniquely positioned to capture the hearts of millennials due to the sheer variety of wines they produce. In 1990 the region grew twenty-eight different grape varieties. Today they cultivate over one hundred different varieties at commercial levels, more than any other region in the world &ndash; demonstrating the region&rsquo;s commitment to the evolving palates of the next generation of wine drinkers. Lodi has also witnessed a spike in tourism (hotel stays were up eighteen percent year over year). An increasing number of millennials are attracted by the region&rsquo;s fresh, accessible marketing campaigns and seek to experience the region for themselves. And best of all for millennials, fat pocketbooks are not required.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Millennials love a bargain.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The 2016 Wine Opinions survey, &quot;American Wine Generations,&quot; states that 63% of millennials regularly buy in the under $10 category and 79% in the $10 to $14.99 category.&nbsp; Eighty-six percent of millennials surveyed said: &quot;At least two to three times a month I will either buy a bottle of wine I&#39;ve never tried or try a new wine by the glass in a restaurant.&quot; Whether they are buying wine online, in store, or at the tasting room, value and novelty are key facets of the millennial wine drinker profile. Domestic regions aren&rsquo;t the only wines on the menu. Millennials also have a thirst for that which is exotic, far-flung, and previously underappreciated. Portugal&rsquo;s Vinho Verde, for example, offers young, quaffable wines that appeal to millennials who subscribe to a &ldquo;drink now&rdquo; philosophy.&nbsp; The region boasts a slew of indigenous grapes, which also appeals to intrepid millennial palates. With this kind of demand in mind, the United States is now the number one importer of Vinho Verde wines in both volume and value, growing 14% and 35% respectively between January and September of 2015.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This penchant for redefining norms and embracing new regions extends across continents. South Africa is a prime example in terms of price point and positioning. According to a 2016 survey by the Wine Market Council, 31% of high frequency wine drinking millennials reported that they had purchased a bottle of South African wine in the three months prior. The above mentioned Wine Opinions survey also reports that &quot;more than six in ten (62%) millennial high frequency wine drinkers buy red blends frequently or occasionally.&quot; Red blends are not exclusive to South Africa, but the country does offer a wide range of inventive red blends, many made with native varietals such as Pinotage. Numerous regions are following suit, coming up with their own salmagundi of red wine grapes in a bottle.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>What do millennials want from you?</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> In summary, shatter traditions. Dare to be different, and talk about it at length on social media. Be ready to change the way you transact. Go mobile. Invest in the experience in addition to the story. Give millennials lots of choices. Empower them to feel in charge. Be prepared for change.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href="">ProWein</a>, International Trade Fair for Wines and Spirits, is the ideal platform to learn about the shifting dynamics of the wine business and the effect this new generation has on our industry. Held annually in D&uuml;sseldorf, Germany (March 19 - 21, 2017), ProWein is an indispensable trade-only event where over 6,000 exhibitors and 55,000 trade visitors from around the world meet to discuss philosophies, best practices, and successes. The experts at ProWein are ready to embrace the millennial wine drinking generation, armed with the latest information and cutting-edge ideas about how to reap the most benefit from this group of thirsty wine lovers.&nbsp; Every wine growing region is represented and every element of the industry covered - from wine and spirits to gastronomy, catering, packaging, marketing and more. ProWein is the place to hone your understanding about the millennial generation.</p> Tue, 24 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6887 The Rise of Non-Traditional Wine Blends Mark Angelillo <p>Here in the United States we are on a first-name basis with our wine grapes. The majority of casual wine drinkers understand what &ldquo;Merlot&rdquo;, &ldquo;Moscato&rdquo;, and &ldquo;Cabernet&rdquo; mean. Nowadays &ldquo;Pinot&rdquo; and even &ldquo;Riesling&rdquo; are familiar pals too. This is largely because the United States and other New World regions label their wines by varietal rather than geographic area. Wine writer and merchant Frank Schoonmaker is credited with making the successful push for variety over geography in mid-20th century California. Robert Mondavi&rsquo;s brilliant marketing skills made it a pandemic practice and now it&rsquo;s a fact of the New World. What worked in Europe for ages just didn&rsquo;t hold sway in the United States. But things don&rsquo;t ever stay static, especially in wine. Just ask the Ancient Romans who poured their wine from amphorae!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Blends have hit the wine scene in a big way. This news is not new. Blends have arrived and are here to stay.&nbsp; I am not speaking about traditional blends associated with geographic areas (i.e. Bordeaux, Chianti, etc.). The blends about which I speak may use traditional blends as a guide, but not as a rule. When it comes to non-traditional blends, rule breaking is preferred.<br /> Over the past few decades we&rsquo;ve exalted chefs as creative masters who express artistic craft and skill through food. Celebrity chefs are loved like rock stars. Adoring fans clamor for signed copies of famous chefs&rsquo; autobiographies as well as their cookbooks. Now the same is true for winemakers. The time, patience and skill demanded from a winemaker rival that of a chef. The winemaker is always at work even while vines are dormant and wine is aging in barrel. The waiting and the tending is careful and long. There&rsquo;s no other process like it in the world and I am relieved to see winemakers getting the credit they are due. Creatively talented winemakers made the non-traditional blend movement a reality.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> When it comes to wine it&rsquo;s not always about how close we are to the vineyard (unless we are lucky enough to be in wine country), but rather the wine&rsquo;s unique story. The story of a non-traditional blend helps us to feel like insiders, privy to our winemaker&rsquo;s secret formula for success. The story is different every time. Winemakers can have many different reasons for creating a particular blend, or no reason at all. Sometimes the inherent characteristics of one grape complement those of another grape. Other times over- and under-ripe grapes of different varietals are combined to achieve balance. Then there&rsquo;s blind intuition; something ineffable which cannot be explained in words -- only through taste.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I do not mean to insinuate that the rise of non-traditional blends precedes the end of varietal wine. Rather a new landscape has come to light. &ldquo;Red blend&rdquo;, &ldquo;white blend&rdquo;, or just &ldquo;blend&rdquo; is more inclusive to the casual wine drinker and does not require any additional wine study unless desired. The more people we get started on wine the more friends we will have. See below for a list of my favorite non-traditional blends from New World producers both large and small.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Justin Vineyards &amp; Winery Savant Paso Robles 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Savory and spicy on the nose and quite concentrated with dark black currant and blackberry preserve notes and powerful sweet spice. Richly flavorful and full on the palate, still this is deceptive and seems lighter than it is. Flavors are well developed and complex with dark chocolate and raspberry flavors set against darker black cherry and blackberry fruit, ending with more chocolate and smoke.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Mullineux Swartland 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Chenin Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Viognier, Semillon</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lightly oaked and lightly floral aromas of white blossom, white peach, green apple and lemon. With a touch of sweet fruit on the approach, this settles into an oaky, herbal and citrus noted blend of lemon, tangerine, honeyed melon and green apple with a wooded finish and tart acidity throughout.<br /><br /> 90 pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Peirano Estate Vineyards The Other Red Blend Lodi 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Savory and fruity aromas of dark baking spice, raspberry and strawberry with notes of blossom, fresh dewy earth and a touch of cherry. Well integrated palate with harmonious red fruit notes of ripe cherry, raspberry and red currant, a bit tart but easy drinking and approachable with soft tannins and a violet, blueberry finish with good balance.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Hearst Ranch Winery Randolph Red Blend Paso Robles 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> On the nose there&#39;s a hint of earth and light smoke with loads of fresh fruit notes of cherry, strawberry and cranberry with a small earthy whiff of savory and meaty spice. More expressive fruit on the palate, cherry, raspberry and creamy milk chocolate on the mid palate with an herbal almost minty note towards the finish that is glazed with peppery jam and cinnamon spice.<br /><br /> 90 pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Le Vigne Cuore Della Vigna Estate Paso Robles 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> Savory soy sauce and beef stew aromas with intriguing minerality and ripe cherry, mixed berry and baking spice. In the mouth it&#39;s considerably cooler, bringing milk chocolate and zesty spice, a zip of acidity towards the finish and a palate of fruit flavors, mostly raspberry, cherry, blueberry and cranberry. Fruit forward and approachable, with a complexity that adds depth and character.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Scott Harvey Three Stags Red Blend California 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Smoke and heady spice aromas of black pepper and cinnamon with earthy black cherry and blackberry notes. Hot and zesty and spicy in the mouth, this has bold fruit notes of earthy blackberry, black cherry and good complexities towards the finish with creamy milk chocolate and coffee and a dusty finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pacific Rim Eufloria Aromatic White Blend Washington NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Spice, potpourri and lemongrass on the nose make for an intriguing blend of aromas with some tangerine and rose petal and a bit of sea spray. Honeyed and floral in the mouth and sweetness bordering on off-dry with peach and clementine notes and a clean finish of apple and lemon.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Peachy Canyon Winery Cirque du Vin Red Blend Paso Robles 2012</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sultry, smoky and spicy aromas of savory earth and cracked black pepper with notes of black cherry and blackberry. Zesty mixed berry palate is quite fruity with more red fruit notes of cranberry, cherry and strawberry with an herbal hint of licorice and dark spice, a creamy texture on the finish, and a lively acidity throughout. Easy and approachable with good complexity, structure and length.<br /><br /> 91 pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Peachy Canyon Cabernet Syrah Paso Robles 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dark black cherry, blackberry, cinnamon, clove and vanilla spice aromas with creamy milk chocolate. Richly textured, broadly structured and commanding on the palate, this starts with black olive and leads directly into dark chocolate, blackberry, black currant and bramble fruit, leading finally into a black pepper and licorice finish that lingers with chocolate mousse and a hint of strawberry.<br /><br /> 90 pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Montevina Cracked Earth Red Blend California 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Oaty clay and ripe cherry aromas with some sweet spice and earth filling the gaps. In the mouth this is simple, pleasant with bright blueberry and cherry notes, some sweet spice and a soft floral finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Day Wines Running Bare Mae&#39;s Vineyard Applegate Valley 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Tannat, Cot, Cabernet Franc</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Floral cherry and licorice aromas. Delicate and flavorful on the palate with notes of cranberry, cherry and strawberry, chunky tannins coming through on the mid palate and a finish of medicine and a touch of cream.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Onx Wines Mad Crush Paso Robles 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Grenache, Tempranillo, Malbec, Mourvedre, Zinfandel</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Smoky, red berry and red cherry aromas with a dash of heat and a pop of black pepper spice. Full and robust palate of ripe cherry, strawberry, raspberry and red licorice, this is a touch imbalanced at times but does demonstrate good ripe fruit and a bit of chocolate on the finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dancin Vineyards Tribute Red Blend Southern Oregon 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Barbera, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Floral, earthy and dusty aromas with dark, brooding fruit notes of blackberry and black cherry and restrained spice. This is surprisingly juicy and zippy on entry, but finds its character towards the mid palate with more dusty, earthy fruit notes of black cherry, birch bark and a toasty oaken finish that&#39;s drying and has good length, with just a touch of red fruit kissing the tail end.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ancient Peaks Renegade Red Blend Santa Margarita Ranch Paso Robles 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Syrah, Malbec, Petit Verdot</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dry and dusty earth notes on the nose mask the fruit but after a few shakes they open, showing ripe strawberry and raspberry notes. The palate is all fruit on the attack, with blueberry, cranberry, strawberry and raspberry rushing in followed by juicy acidity, hot spice and earthy licorice and eucalyptus notes following towards the finish with more oaken spice and wooded smoke.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Terra d&#39;Oro Chenin Blanc &amp; Viognier Clarksburg 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Quite aromatic with white grape, soft melon and floral blossom aromas. Has a bit of the creamy emollience of a Viognier with the pleasant fruitiness and easygoing creamy texture of the Chenin Blanc, showing good peach, melon and lemon notes through the midpalate, a zesty acidity and focused tart grapefruit and wild flowers on the finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Apothic White Winemaker&#39;s Blend USA 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Light melon and peach aromas with hints of white blossom. Bursting with fruit and a sweetness profile that borders on off-dry, this is candied and juicy with more peach and melon, finishing with a touch of spice.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Maryhill Winery Proprietor&#39;s Reserve Tavola Rosso Columbia Valley 2011</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sweet molasses and maple syrup aromas with ripe cherry and strawberry fruit on the nose. Dry and sticky in the mouth, this carries an herbal backbone throughout with tarry minerality, loamy earth and good structure. Fruit flavors are darker than the palate and carrying blackberry and black cherry along with a dark chocolate and roasted espresso finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Evolution Big Time Red</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Syrah</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dusty and dry on the nose with strawberry and red currant aromas and a bit of smoke. This is expressive and ebullient on the palate with full acidity, ripe cherry and strawberry notes, sweet spice and a more brooding finish that&#39;s earthy and smoky.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Brecon Estate Zinfandel Tannat Paso Robles 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Zinfandel, Tannat</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Soft strawberry and cherry aromas with a hint of clay, wild flowers and cinnamon spice. This is expansive and explosive on the palate, very fruity with notes of cherry, strawberry and raspberry set against a bracing acidity that carries a wave of spice with it and leaves structural tannins and notes of blueberry and chocolate in its wake.<br /><br /> 90 pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Canals Canals Cava Classic Brut NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Xerl.lo, Macabeu, Parellada</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Nutty almond and toasted rye bread aromas. On the palate this is nuanced and zesty with toast and fruit flavors that are very well developed with creamy buttered toast, green apple and lemon, buoyant acidity and a finish that&#39;s tart and fresh with good length.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>La Antigua Clasico Rioja Reserva 2006</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Garnacha, Tempranillo, Graciano</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dusty, earthy and smoky with a strong tendril of red fruit pushing out through the minerality, mostly strawberry and raspberry with some molasses and fresh spice. The palate continues the trend of dusty, meaty, earthy salinity warring with bright red fruit notes of strawberry, cranberry and cherry, finishing in a harmonious end that&#39;s even a bit herbal.</p> Fri, 20 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6890 The 2012 Brunello Vintage is Positively Celestial Claudia Angelillo <p>Brunello is the Hercules of wine. It&rsquo;s powerful, strong, and valorous. It ages exceedingly well and lives nearly forever. These are testosterone-heavy wines that don&rsquo;t need to peacock or boast about their masculinity. Rather they are quietly strong and confident, throwing powerful punches only when necessary. Vintage year plays a big role in the interpretation of Brunello. Fortunately for us wine drinkers, guidance is available.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino gives each one of their vintages a star rating. Each vintage receives between one and five stars. One and two star vintages have happened over the past seventy-one years so it&rsquo;s important to pay close attention. Don&rsquo;t worry &ndash; even low-star vintages have their merits. While your rubric for adjudication must shift, the wines still have Brunello magic. Five star (&ldquo;cinque stelle&rdquo;) ratings are a very special thing. They&rsquo;re given about 25% of the time.<br /> Good news for you, wine lover: the latest vintage release (2012) of Brunello di Montalcino DOCG has received five stars.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Weather conditions in 2012 were touch-and-go in Montalcino. This was one of the warmest and driest years on record, so you will see higher alcohol levels in the 2012 wines. Late February snow brought the water that was needed to move things along. Late May brought rains, so winemakers found themselves with more flowers and fewer grapes. The 2012 production is one third less than usual. Conditions were superb from late August through the end of the year, carrying the vintage to great success.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There are 221 bottler members of the Consorzio and each one presents their own interpretation of the vintage. You may not taste it when the wines are young, but producers really start to show unique flourishes as the wines age. Seek out at least one bottle from each of the 221 bottler members of the Consorzio and find out for yourself.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> How many bottles of 2012 Brunello will you stockpile?&nbsp;</p> Fri, 20 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6889 The Perfect Event for Wine & Spirits People Snooth Editorial <p>ProWein is back. Wine and spirits professionals from around the globe are booking flights and rooms for this annual trade event in D&uuml;sseldorf, Germany. This year&rsquo;s event is shaping up to be better than ever.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> More than 6,300 exhibitors from sixty nations will attend ProWein. You&rsquo;ll encounter many regions from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, the New World and more. But it&rsquo;s not just the usual mainstays that make ProWein so special; it&rsquo;s also about discovery. Winemaking regions in countries like Ecuador, Poland and more will be at ProWein too. This event is at the forefront of trends, and it leads the charge on moving the wine industry forward year after year.<br /> There will be 295 winegrowing regions and 400 spirits specialties represented in a multitude of ways. Take the FIZZ Lounge, where bartender Tom Weinberger will make magic happen with genius combinations of coffee, wine and craft beer. Heavenly matches will be made when buyers, importers, and wholesalers visit &ldquo;Route USA&rdquo;, a special section of the event where one can meet producers looking for importing and distribution partners in the United States.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> ProWein will take place March 19 through the 21, 2017.&nbsp; Visit <a href=""></a> or email <a href=""></a> to learn more. Ready to book your travel? Visit <a href=""></a> or write to <a href=""></a>.</p> Wed, 18 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6886 ProWein 2017 – The Global Stage for the Global Wine Industry <p>For 3 days in March, D&uuml;sseldorf, Germany will become the center for the international wine sector. After more than two decades, ProWein, International Trade Fair for Wines and Spirits, has become the wine industry&rsquo;s most important trade show. Since its inception in 1994, the number of exhibitors has grown 15 times, visitor participation 30 times and the occupied space 18 times. This year, trade visitors will again top 55,000 from around the world.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> ProWein is truly global, with more than 6,000 exhibitors from over 60 countries &ndash; with 84% from outside Germany. There will also be more than 400 spirits exhibitors from 30 countries.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Over 500 ancillary tastings, seminars and workshops will take place either in the ProWein Forum or directly at the exhibitors&rsquo; stands. Special shows will address wine marketing and packaging while unique lounges will feature champagne creations and bar trends.<br /><br /> <br /> <br /><br /> Most important, ProWein is all-business: only members of the trade attend.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Its size, scope, calendar primacy and organization have combined to make it an annual hotbed for ongoing business, market development and networking as well as a launch pad for new products and ventures.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Especially for US visitors:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> For U.S. buyers, importers and wholesalers coming to the show, ProWein and Wine Enthusiast have built &ldquo;Route USA&rdquo;. Special booths signage will guide U.S. visitors to those producers with an interest in finding importing and distribution partners in the United States.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong><a href=""></a></strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> To save time and money, order tickets online at <strong><a href=""></a></strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Questions? ProWein&rsquo;s U.S. office is here to help: Messe D&uuml;sseldorf North America, <strong>Tel. (312) 781-5180</strong>, <strong><a href=""></a></strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> For accommodations, contact <strong>TTI Travel Inc</strong>., at <strong>(866) 674-3476</strong>; <strong><a href=""></a></strong>; <strong><a href=""></a></strong></p> Fri, 13 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6883 More Champagne Beats January Blues John Downes <p>A friend of mine&rsquo;s wife gets really annoyed if I recommend wines over $15 (&pound;10), not to mention my mates in the pub, so I&rsquo;m expecting a lot of flack when they read this article! Why? The Champagne us <em>Snoothers </em>are about to chat about is $400 (&pound;300). In case you&rsquo;re wondering, that&rsquo;s $400 a bottle, not a case! The wine? Moet et Chandon&rsquo;s Dom Perignon P2 1996.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There&rsquo;s Champagne and there&rsquo;s Champagne. The bottle you and I pick off the shelf from time to time as we part with our $40 (25 quid) or so will probably be &lsquo;Non Vintage&rsquo;; that means that it&rsquo;s a blend of several years&rsquo; grape harvests. If we push the boat out and splash $70 (&pound;50) it&rsquo;ll probably be vintage Champagne, a wine made from a single, exceptional year&rsquo;s harvest. As you&rsquo;ll see, the message is the better the fruit, the better the wine, the higher the price. So, for 300 quid you&rsquo;ll be expecting amazing fruit and a phenomenal wine! The Dom Perignon P2 is somewhat OTT as we open our festive credit card bills but this exclusive bottle is on our shelves so at least we can talk about it&hellip;even if few of us can afford a glass never mind a bottle!<br /> All the top Champagne Houses have a flagship vintage brand; Veuve Clicquot has La Grande Dame, Louis Roederer has Cristal, Taittinger has Comtes de Champagne and Moet et Chandon has Dom Perignon. These carry price tags between $130-180 (&pound;100-150)&hellip;. so how come this Dom Perignon P2 1996 is $400 I hear you say. Good question! The answer stirs heated debate but Moet et Chandon winemaker Richard Geoffroy was confident about his prices as he presented the first ever &lsquo;vertical P2 Tasting&rsquo; in London last year &hellip;. I felt honoured to be amongst a small band of the good and the glorious of the British Wine Trade invited on that sunny SW1 morning. I wouldn&rsquo;t pay &pound;300 for a bottle of wine but that said, such wines are the Rolls Royces and Bentleys of the Wine World so it&rsquo;s no surprise that people who enjoy cruising in expensive motor cars may also revel in popping the cork of this vintage sparkler.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The &lsquo;P&rsquo; stands for Plenitude, &ldquo;the state of being full or complete&rdquo; and when Moet apply it to their &lsquo;DP&rsquo; it&rsquo;s linked to the age of the wine and how long it&rsquo;s been lying on it&rsquo;s &lsquo;lees&rsquo;, that is, on the dead yeast cells that lie on the bottom of the cellared bottle after the completion of the second fermentation. Richard Geoffroy explained that in Moet-speak, P1 covers the younger DP vintages of say 2004, 2005 or 2006 whereas P2 is Dom Perignon that&rsquo;s been &lsquo;on the lees&rsquo; for between 15 and 20 years; we tasted 1998, 1996, 1995 and 1993. The 1996 was my favourite; toasty citrus flavours with a tight line of mouthwatering acidity and a long, complex, creamy yet edgey finish. P3 wines by the way will be between 30 and 40 years old; that&rsquo;s a lot of long term cash tied up in the cellars, which goes some way in explaining the staggering price tag.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Although the P Plan prices scare me, I can understand the concept of letting a top Champagne develop to its full capacity; a P1 will have the depth, balance and harmony to be Dom Perignon but if kept on its lees will have the platform to produce P2&rsquo;s and P3&rsquo;s. Geoffroy explained that the lees are an excellent anti-oxidant for the wine, hence the freshness of all the P2&rsquo;s on show. That said, 20 years is about the maximum lees contact period, &ldquo;after 20 years there&rsquo;s nothing more to gain&rdquo;, Geoffroy explained.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Interestingly, the wines were poured in normal wine glasses and not flutes; a growing trend in Champagne and one that gets my vote, and has done for years. I was also pleased to see that Richard wasn&rsquo;t decanting the Champagnes, &ldquo;too harsh and more to loose than gain&rdquo;, he thought.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> For <em>Snoothers </em>who, like me can&rsquo;t afford &pound;300 for a bottle of wine, instead of P2 go2 Cremant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs (Chardonnay grapes only) from Burgundy, a Franciacorta from Italy or a Cava from Spain. They&rsquo;re all made in exactly the same way as Champagne and, if you pay the extra quid (PTEQ!) can fight well above their weight. At about $18 (&pound;14.00) the Cremant de Bourgogne is only just over the price tag that gets my friend&rsquo;s wife hot under the collar. That said, when she reads about P2 you&rsquo;ll see me go2 buy a tin hat!</p> Wed, 11 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6884 Snooth Editorial Update Snooth Editorial <p>We are pleased to announce the latest updates and additions to our editorial program.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mark Angelillo will take the mantle as Snooth&rsquo;s chief taster. As architect of one of the world&rsquo;s largest wine sites, Mark brings over a decade of experience to the editorial panel. He will be conducting winemaker interviews, making wine recommendations, and penning themed articles throughout the year.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Celebrated Master of Wine John Downes will continue writing his beloved &lsquo;NOBULL WINE&rsquo; column.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Nova Cadamatre will continue to make contributions from the perspective of a skilled winemaker.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Gabe Sasso will redouble his efforts on spirits this year. He will be making regular contributions to Snooth&rsquo;s liquor and cocktail-focused site, <a href=""><strong>The Spirit</strong></a>. Keep your eyes open for new and cool things from Gabe at The Spirit!<br /> Finally, we are excited to welcome our newest Writer-in-Residence, the incredibly talented Michelle Williams. Michelle writes freelance about wine, food, and travel and on her award-winning blog <a href=""><strong>Rockin Red Blog</strong></a>. She is one of the Top 100 Most Influential Wine Bloggers. Michelle resides with her family in the Dallas area and has an affinity for pairing wine with music. Michelle holds a master&rsquo;s degree in History of the Christian Tradition and enjoys discovering the links between wine and religious history. Michelle&rsquo;s passion for wine is equaled by her passion for knowledge; therefore, she embraces global travel to experience wine regions first hand.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> All inquiries about our editorial program may be sent to <strong><a href=""></a></strong>. Thanks for reading!</p> Wed, 11 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6885 Carménère Wine Master Class: Lessons Learned Mark Angelillo <p>Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;is an old grape variety from the Gironde. DNA analysis suggests that it&rsquo;s a cross between Cabernet Franc and Gros Cabernet (which is itself a distant relative of Cabernet Franc). Fortunately for our collective palates, when it comes to wine grape parentage, breeding with a relative can be a very good thing. Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;is a highly refined pedigree and it delivers a true range of flavors. You&rsquo;ll find herbaceous notes like tomato and pepper evolving into young, tight bunches of fresh berry fruits. Increased levels of ripeness bring dark, moist clumps of blackberry and blueberry, coffee and dark chocolate notes. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;wine grape shares an inextricably deep bond with Chile. Their relationship dates back to the late 1800s when the grape came to Chile by way of Bordeaux. It was mislabeled as Merlot (or &ldquo;Merlot Noir&rdquo;) upon arrival. The grape was grown in Chile under this false name for decades.<br /> By the late 1800s, Phylloxera had destroyed nearly all of Europe&rsquo;s Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;just as it ravaged many of the continent&rsquo;s other vines.&nbsp; At the time and for years following, the native incarnation of Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;was believed to be extinct. But in 1994, French ampelographer Jean Michel Boursiquot saw the &ldquo;Merlot Noir&rdquo; in a Chilean vineyard and recognized it as Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re. DNA analysis confirmed his assessment and the grape&rsquo;s true identity was revealed. Since this unmasking, Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;has become Chile&rsquo;s superstar grape. It was recognized by Chilean authorities as the country&rsquo;s official variety in 1998.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Chile is an essential part of Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&rsquo;s story, and the tale has continued to progress. I conducted a master class with five wine writers focused exclusively on this very special grape. We tasted through a selection of eleven Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;wines. That&rsquo;s right, eleven.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;and Chile is the perfect match. Chile&rsquo;s climate is warmer and drier than Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&rsquo;s native home in southwest France. The grape can ripen for a longer period of time in Chile. More ripening brings lusciousness to the wines, but not at the expense of the varietal&rsquo;s innately herbaceous aromas and flavors. Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;also offers sophisticated fruit flavors well-suited to all palates, but especially those that don&rsquo;t want their fruit overblown. At this point, the quality-to-price ratio (QPR) favors the consumer. Other regions of the world have a relationship with Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re, which is something we explored in our master class as well.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>The Wines</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tasting eleven wines made from the same grape in a single hour is one of the best ways to get an excellent wine education. You&rsquo;ll pounce upon your intuitions and quickly realize that your first thoughts are quite often your best.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Cono Sur Bicicleta&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Central Valley Chile 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cono Sur has embraced natural vineyard management and organic production. For them, this is what&nbsp; &ldquo;Bicicleta&rdquo; represents. The wine comes to us from Chile&rsquo;s Central Valley, a large depression between the Pacific coastal mountains and the Andes (bordering Argentina) just south of Chile&rsquo;s capital, Santiago. The Central Valley is supplied with water from the Andes. It contains four sub-regions, many of which have sub-regions of their own. The Central Valley is where the vast majority of Chilean vineyards are found. Its geographical advantages make ripening a cinch. Tasting note: Dusty and herbal, this shows a lot of spunk with red fruit aromas of cranberry, strawberry and cherry. Lots of character and a bold presentation in the mouth, this is smoky and earthy with chewy tannins and chunky black fruit showing nicely on the mid palate culminating in a dark chocolate and espresso on the finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Casillero del Diablo&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Reserva Central Valley Chile 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Casillero del Diablo is a storytelling bottle for the ages. According to legend, back in 1883, Don Melchor Concha y Toro sought the expertise of the French to begin producing quality wines in Chile. These wines were stored in his personal cellar. Once word got out about his collection people began to steal coveted bottles from his cellar. To combat theft, Melchor Concha y Toro started a rumor about the Devil appearing in the cellar and in the vineyard. The rumor spread like wildfire and deterred thieves from coming anywhere near his cellar. His prized wine collection was preserved. Once again, the QPR on this bottle is extraordinary. Tasting note: Fresh and lively on the palate, good acidity with tart red fruit flavors of cherry and cranberry, medium-full bodied with a finish of earthy chocolate and black coffee.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Casas del Bosque&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Reserva Rapel Valley 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Casas del Bosque was established in 1993 as a family boutique winery. They currently produce 90,000 cases per year at incredible value to the consumer. This bottle had fifteen days of fermentation followed by an additional five days of post-fermentation maceration. That&rsquo;s nineteen days of skin contact, and the color on this wine really shows it. Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re grape skins are on the higher side of color intensity because of their strong concentration of anthocyanins and flavonoids. Tasting note: Breezy and light on the nose, with the slightest touch of a green note but raspberry, red currant and cherry fruit taking the lead. Quite light and cheerful on the palate, this brings candied cherry and mixed berry fruit, bright acidity and an earthy finish of dark chocolate.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Concha y Toro Serie Riberas&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Gran Reserva Peumo 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This is another selection from Concha y Toro. The wine received 90 points from Wine Spectator. It comes from the Cachopoal Valley, which is in the northern section of the Rapel Valley. (The Rapel is one of the Central Valley&rsquo;s four subregions.) Cachopoal is a warm area cut off from ocean breezes. As a result Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;ripens especially well in this location. Tasting note: Floral and fresh on the nose with zesty spice and ripe red fruit notes of cherry, strawberry and raspberry along with a touch of cream. This is expansive on the palate with generous strawberry and cherry fruit preserves that border on the richness of pie filling before sloping off towards earthy oak spice, cappuccino and chocolate notes.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Los Vascos&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Grande Reserve Colchagua Valley 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This wine is part of the Lafite tradition. Chateau Lafite Rothschild is synonymous with fine French wine and their efforts are global. Metaphorically speaking, this bottle brings Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;back to France to share everything it has learned in Chile. Tasting note: Herbal notes of eucalyptus and green pepper in the glass, though plenty of dark cherry and blackberry/raspberry fruit. Similar flavors continue through to the palate, where they are joined by rich spice and generous tannins, more dark blackberry and an increasing intensity of lingering earthiness towards the finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Apaltagua Red Blend Colchagua Valley Envero 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The oldest vines used in Envero were planted on the Apaltagua property in 1950 with newer plantings coming as recently as 2013 in the Colchagua Valley. This subregion is part of Rapel&rsquo;s southern valley but also incorporates the Rapel River up the coast. It is much larger and more varied than Cachapoal. Colchagua is a name you will often see on bottles because of the positive reputation the area has rightfully earned. Vines are planted as high as 3,300 feet, and the region is comprised of many tiny zones due to the highly varied soils &ndash; clay, silt, sand and some volcanic areas too. Rich perfume and floral notes of blackberry, clay and savory spice on the nose. Firm, focused and assertive on the palate, this has tart acidity and herbal notes of olive and pepper out front of dark berry and cherry fruit that finishes with a touch of heat, loads of spice and a dark chocolate cream.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Casa Silva Los Lingues Vineyard&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Colchagua Valley 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Casa Silva is a leader in the promotion and research around the Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;grape, specifically in the the Los Lingues area at the foothills of the Andes in Colchagua. Casa Silva was the very first to plant in this &aacute;rea in 1997. Many other wineries have followed suit. Their research studies various Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;clones under a variety of conditions. They tweak details like terroir and climate to learn more about this special grape. Tasting note: Light and elegant aromas of red currant, cherry and floral blossom notes framed by a hint of baking spice. Fresh berry, cherry and strawberry fruit is well developed and silky textured on the palate, restrained around the edges but with a strong core that drops into a tannic chew towards the finish where the fruit is joined by a touch of cream and menthol before ending on chocolate cherry.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Colli Berici Oratorio di San Lorenzo&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Riserva 2012</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;has many guises, and not just in Chile. The grape has been in the Veneto since the mid-19th century and for 150 years it was thought to be Cabernet Franc. DNA testing in 1993 showed it to be Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re. Oratorio di San Lorenzo is the only 100 percent Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;in Italy, and it is the only winery in Italy to truly focus on Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;and make it the centerpiece of their portfolio. This is a fresh, hip cult favorite which will impress any and all of your wine loving friends. Tasting note: Bold and assertive mixed berry fruit with concentrated aromas and fresh floral spice on the nose. Concentrated and focused on the palate, this over delivers on fruit flavors of blackberry, black cherry and strawberry with rough tannins drying the mouth towards the finish where they&#39;re supported by butter cream and vanilla, loads of acidity and a dark chocolate finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Montes Alpha&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Colchagua Valley 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Montes is known for quality Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;and in this bottle has focused on Apalta which is a distinct tract from Colchagua&rsquo;s valley slopes. The area has boomed over the last decade and is now associated with premium wines. Montes in an Apalta pioneer. The winery is also noted for applying the principles of Feng Shui to their winemaking. Gregorian chants are constantly played in the barrel room to spirit wines through fermentation and the ageing process. Tasting note: Lightly savory aromas of fresh cherry and strawberry with bold spice, some floral hints and even a touch of wheatiness. More bold fruit flavors on the palate, rich full bodied and earthy with blackberry, cranberry and red currant fronting for rough tannins and a slightly softer finish of milk chocolate and cream.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Vi&ntilde;a Maquis Viola&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;2010</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Maquis Estate is located in the heart of the Colchagua Valley where the Tinguiririca River meets the Chimbarongo Creek. Here you will find alluvial soils over a layer of gravel and cooler maximum summer temperatures. Tasting note: Deceptively light aromas of red berry, cherry and smoke. This is textured and chunky with firm tannins on the palate, good red fruit character of strawberry and cherry with a pronounced smoke permeating through and ending on a creamy dark chocolate mousse and baking spice.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Purple Angel Colchagua Valley 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> This is another premium selection from Montes hailing from Apalta. These wines show just want Chile is capable of in the premium category. Tasting note: Big and bold aromas of blackberry preserves and cherry with vanilla cream on the nose. This doesn&#39;t hold back from fruit and spice with a bolt of acidity running through it and cranberry, raspberry and cherry fruit taking the mid palate, almost candied with floral hints and a finish that&#39;s tart, chewy and drying with a hint of menthol.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Takeaways</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;brings an air of sophistication and can offer something to many palates. The fruits are bold but will not strangle your taste buds. These wines are perfect to share with those who crave wines with restrained yet elegant fruit, surprising complexity and firm structure. The value is clear at all price points. See below to read more from our master class attendees:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Gabe Sasso</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Jeff Kralik</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Michelle Williams</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Sara Lehman</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Todd Godbout</strong></a></p> Thu, 05 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6882 The First Rule Of Wine Drinking Is: There Are No Rules <p>White wine with fish and red wine with meat, right? Sparkling before still before sweet&mdash;but the dessert needs to be sweeter than the wine. With so many rules, it&rsquo;s a wonder we manage to relax and have a good time. Who needs them? I certainly don&rsquo;t, and you don&rsquo;t, either. The goal is to drink something that tastes good while having a good time. If you agree, then here are some of my top tips on classic rules we can all throw out the window&mdash;and what to do instead.<br /> <strong>1. You don&rsquo;t need to pick a wine that will pair perfectly with your dish.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> As a master sommelier I often drink what I like regardless of what I&rsquo;m eating. I reach for a Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, which is a bold red wine with dark berry fruit flavors, and a kiss of vanilla from the oak, and I&rsquo;ll drink that with anything from soups and salads to dessert. I like it. It tastes good. And that is all that matters.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2. Sparkling wine isn&rsquo;t just for celebrations, and it isn&rsquo;t confined to the beginning of a meal.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Many people raise an eyebrow, but I often order a bottle of Champagne and drink it throughout my meal; it works well with everything from salad to steak. The stronger flavor or texture of the food can match well with a champagne made with extended lees contact or longer aging. It also can be a great accompaniment to something &ldquo;low brow&rdquo; like cheeseburgers and potato chips. If you want to get people really riled up, try potato chips and caviar with that bottle of champagne&mdash;and maybe a side of French onion dip.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>3. Sweet wine doesn&rsquo;t go only with dessert.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sweet wine. What a controversial item already. The value of terrific sweet wine is lost on Americans because we, as a whole, don&rsquo;t drink much of it. When we do, it&rsquo;s almost always with dessert. While it has sugar and can be a bit sweet, well-made dessert wine inevitably has a lot of acidity to balance out the sugar&mdash;which also makes it food-friendly. Not long ago I had a great dinner of fried chicken dusted with saffron along with a bottle of Sauternes. In England it&rsquo;s not uncommon to start a meal with a glass of sweet wine, which they endearingly refer to as &ldquo;sticky.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>4. White wine does not need to be very cold; and red wine does not need to be room temperature.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This is an important factor in your drinking experience: We often sip our Champagne and white wine way too cold and our red wine way too warm. The colder something is, the less we can taste or smell it. Don&rsquo;t feel pressured to keep that bottle of white or Champagne in the ice bucket between pours. You can leave it on the table. Be bold! Let it warm up in the glass. When you do you&rsquo;ll experience more of the aromas, flavors and texture that it has to offer.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> For reds we think, &ldquo;Room temperature: Okay, I&rsquo;ll leave it on the counter and we&rsquo;re good to go,&rdquo; but that is a twisted rule that I see even great restaurants mess up. If you&rsquo;re leaving your wine out to get to room temperature, it&rsquo;s probably closer to 75 degrees than it is to ideal serving temperature. As a wine warms up, it emphasizes the alcohol and that throws the wine out of balance. You should shoot for a cool temperature of about 60 degrees for red. If anything, take the white out of the ice bucket and pop the red one in for a few minutes. It&rsquo;ll be much smoother and more refreshing.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>5. Ros&eacute; isn&rsquo;t just a summer option.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Ros&eacute; isn&rsquo;t only meant for when the sun is out&mdash;there are plenty bottles that you can drink all year long. Be forewarned: there is a lot of cheap, diluted, out-of-balance hogwash with a pink tint that gets bottled as ros&eacute; out there, so be careful about what you buy. Price often can be a good indicator&mdash;in this case, I suggest skipping that $6 bottle with animal pictures on the label and instead hunt for a well-made ros&eacute;, which is delicious and a great food companion. I love ros&eacute; in every style, from sparkling to still to sweet. Ros&eacute; champagne with duck, or still ros&eacute; and salad or fish, and sweet ros&eacute; with strawberries shortcake all are favorites of mine. There are many options, so don&rsquo;t box yourself in.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Alexander LaPratt, MS, owner of Atrium DUMBO, Beasts &amp; Bottles (Brooklyn Heights) and <a href=""><strong>Ribera y Rueda</strong></a> ambassador</em></p> Tue, 27 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6881 Holiday Sparkling Bottle Pick List Snooth Editorial <p>We talked a lot about sparkling wine last week but there is a lot more to cover. The biggest sparkling wine day of the year, New Year&#39;s Eve, is right around the corner. Opening a bottle of sparkling wine can be a a dangerous proposition. There&#39;s a lot of pressure under that cork! But if you like living on the edge, there&#39;s always sabrage. When the French Revolution ended just before the dawn on the 18th century, Napoleon and his cohorts decided to up the ante on Champagne corking. They swapped the simple flick of a wrist for a sword, and so &quot;sabrage&quot; was born. Confidently run your sabre down the bottle&#39;s length, and kaboom! You&#39;ve got a sabred bottle of sparkling wine. Yes, the glass will break -- but some would say that the fanfare is worth it. Will you pick up one of these recommendations from the web&#39;s top wine writers and give sabrage a try? Have you ever sabred a wine, or seen someone else do it? Is it crazy, stupid, awesome? Let us know in the comments. <br /> <strong>Champagne</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I really tried to not to pick a Champagne, but there is a reason why Champagne is Champagne&hellip; no other sparkling wine is like it. It is a beguiling sparkling wine that can play with you, mystify you, bring you to your knees in pleasure yet you always know it is holding back&hellip;never giving you everything - and that is part of its undeniable charm &ndash; it is all about the tease. The Champagne that has played with my heart the most is Marie-No&euml;lle LeDru Champagne, Brut NV. Marie-No&euml;lle LeDru owns only 12 acres (5 hectares) in Grand Cru villages Ambonnay and 2 acres (1 hectare) in Bouzy in Champagne &ndash; she even disgorges each bottle by hand (with help from a neighbor). But it is not only the sweet story that makes this Champagne so great, it is an incredible sparkling wine with as many layers of complexity as I have experienced with some of the greatest Grand Cru Burgundy wines. My latest tasting of her Brut NV gave stunning notes of truffle (did I just say truffle for a Champagne? Yes. Yes I did) and freshly baked croissant with tropical fruits and lemon blossom with a long, expressive finish. This sparkling wine captivates on an intellectual, but most importantly, on a visceral level. You want to rock the world of serious and less-serious wine drinkers alike at your next Holiday party?&nbsp; Well, get yourself some LeDru &ndash; and remember small pours for your guests. If they ask why you are being so cheap, just say, &ldquo;Champagne is all about the tease.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cathrine Todd</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dame Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Franciacorta</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> What better way to toast the season and celebrate the new year than with a bottle of bubbly. Whether you&rsquo;re decorating, hosting a holiday get-together, or lazing around the house doing absolutely nothing, there is something very right about a flute of sparkling wine, Christmas music, and an assortment of tasty nibbles and appetizers. While I encourage having sparkling wines from around the globe and champagne on hand, for this post, I&rsquo;ll point you to Franciacorta. This region is located in Lombardy (northern Italy) and has produced still (not effervescent or sparkling) wines since the 16th century. However, starting in the 1960s, area vintners worked together to collectively make a name for themselves as a serious, high-quality sparkling wine region. As a result, Franciacorta became the first Italian region to exclusively produce sparkling wines made in the traditional method as they do in the Champagne region of France. My festive holiday pick is Barone Pizzini Animante Brut NV. Barone Pizzini was founded in 1870 and is one of the oldest producers in the region. Composed of 78% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Noir, and 4% Pinot Blanc &ndash; all organically farmed, this sparkling wine offers brioche, floral notes, and inviting spicy aromas joined by lively and mature tree fruit flavors in the mouth. It has a clean, refreshing finish with a persistent stream of bubbles cleansing the palate and readying you for another sip or bite. This wine retails for $35 but can be found online for as low as $25. I recommend adding a bottle or three to your holiday rotation &ndash; it&rsquo;s a very nice sparkler for the money.&nbsp; Here&#39;s wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a lot of good bubbly. Sip up!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Dezel Quillen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>My Vine Spot</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Champagne</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> During my personal wine journey, sparkling wine, especially Champagne, remained elusive and felt unapproachable until four years ago, when I learned to open Champagne in my Wine &amp; Spirit Education Trust foundation course. When #ChampagneDay on social media arrived that autumn, I was ready and excited to open and taste my first Champagne. Fast forward to today, when sparkling wines and Champagne have become my go-to wines, not only for the holidays, but year around, because they pair with so many things: family, friends, fun, and food. In selecting a wine for this piece, I remembered what held me back from Champagne for so long and one of those reasons was price. Champagne seemed like a fancy beverage for wealthy people, but I was wrong. Look no further, because I have the Champagne for you this holiday season and beyond. Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosa&iuml;que NV (SRP $39.99) is Champagne for every day. Founded by 30 grower families in 1962, Champagne Jacquart is an authentic, innovative grower Champagne brand, and its long legacy comes alive in this non-vintage blend of mostly chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier sourced from some of Champagne&#39;s most notable crus. In the glass, it pours pale yellow with a lovely, fine effervescence. Aromas and flavors such as apples, pears, citrus, brioche, and almonds permeate the senses, all while perfectly accompanied by creamy texture, bright acidity, and chalky minerality. Fortunately, the Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosa&iuml;que NV is widely distributed, so pick up a bottle or three and celebrate the holidays, and most importantly, life.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Elizabeth Smith</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Traveling Wine Chick</strong></a></div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Sparkling Cider</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The very best sparkling wine for the holidays is the one you enjoy with family and close friends. While Champagne and sparkling wines from around the world are certainly popular during the holiday season (though should be consumed year round), consider reaching for fizz from another fruit &mdash; a light, crisp, effervescent hard apple cider. &nbsp;Cider made from apples has a long history throughout the world dating back to early Roman times. In the U.S. cider was popular with the first English settlers, considered a source of nutrition and often safer to drink than water. Light, crisp, refreshing, bright acidity; cider pairs well with a broad range of holiday dishes from salty ham to sides dishes and desserts. One of my favorite ciders is Serious Cider from America cider rockstar Diane Flynt, owner and cidermaker of <a href=""><strong>Foggy Ridge Cider</strong></a>. Located on the Blue Ridge plateau in the southwestern part of Virginia, Flynt farms a 30-acre orchard planted to 30 different varieties of traditional cider apples.<br /><br /> Crisp, light and refreshing, <strong>Serious Cider</strong> ($18) is a blend of American cider apples like Roxbury Russet and traditional English apples like Dabinett and Tremlett&rsquo;s.&nbsp; Bright gold in the glass; notes of tart green apple and lime framed by stone fruit. Dry with zippy lime acidity.&nbsp; Perfect as an aperitif or paired with most holiday dishes.<br /><br /> Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Frank Morgan</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Drink What YOU Like</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Finger Lakes Sparkling Wine</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Champagne is the easy pick for the holidays right? You head over to the wine shop and plunk down some cash for a well-regarded, possibly famous bottle of Bubbles. That would be simple, likely delicious and possibly expensive. Personally I try to take the road less traveled as often as I can; this is particularly true with wine selections. Many of the world&rsquo;s wine regions have sparkling wine traditions and there are lots of interesting and delightful bottles that aren&rsquo;t from the most famous Sparkling Wine region in the world. As an added bonus they&rsquo;re often relative bargains too. With that in mind my pick is an outstanding bottle from the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.Lamoreaux Landing 2009 Estate Bottled Brut ($35) This Estate bottled, vintage Brut was produced using the classic method. It&rsquo;s composed of Chardonnay (58%), and Pinot Noir (42%) from two of their vineyards, both farmed sustainably. Roasted nuts, granny smith apple and wisps of strawberry are evident on the nose. The palate is loaded with orchard fruit notes that are accompanied by lemon curd, spices and bits of flaky biscuit. Cr&egrave;me fraiche, white pepper, stone fruits, hints of vanilla bean are evident on the persistent, complex, and somewhat firm finish. While this wine is eminently drinkable all but itself you&rsquo;ll find that it&rsquo;s a terrific partner with a remarkably varied array of foods. Creamy dishes, strong cheeses, white meats and all manner of finger foods are just a few of your options. Lamoreaux Landing&rsquo;s Estate Brut is a tremendous value, drink it all holiday season.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Gabe Sasso</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Gabe&rsquo;s View</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Champagne</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> When it comes to bubbles, Champagne is the Alpha and Omega. So if I&rsquo;m going to bust out the bubbles around the holidays, I&rsquo;m bringing Champers. The terroir of Champagne is diverse but exquisite, so I try to find single-vineyard Champagnes, and learn about the vineyard, soils, winemaking. One producer I&rsquo;ve been nuts about for a few years now is Jacques Lassaigne. The estate is not technically a grower (it has N.M., or negociant, status), but the vast majority of these wines come from estate grapes. When it comes to finding exciting, terroir-driven Champagne in the $50-$75 range, you have to choose wisely. But, in my opinion, if Lassaigne is on the label, I&rsquo;m confident the wine will be exceptional. I recently popped the cork on Jacques Lassaigne&rsquo;s Blanc de Blancs Cuv&eacute;e Le Cotet (Extra Brut), which I picked up for about $60. This wine comes from a single-vineyard planted in the mid-60s. It&rsquo;s all Chardonnay grown in Montgueux, an area of the Aube that has very similar soils to the Cote des Blancs. It has a gorgeous nose of lime, chalk, minerals and limestone. The palate is packed with piercing acidity, vibrant lemon and kiwi fruit, the wine is laced with minerals, sea salt, crushed chalk. Perfect on its own or with pretty much whatever you&rsquo;re eating!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Isaac James Baker</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Reading, Writing &amp; Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Champagne</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Of all the Snooth write-ups I have done, this was perhaps the toughest. Initially, however, I thought this would actually be one of the easiest as champagne is the preferred wine in my house and we tend to drink a lot of bubbles. My first thought was to opt for a t&ecirc;te de cuv&eacute;e&mdash;a Champagne house&rsquo;s top bottling (think Dom P&eacute;rignon, La Grande Dame, or Belle Epoque), but I decided against since, in my opinion, most of those wines are not ready to drink upon release&mdash;they just need a bit more time (like a decade) before they are at their peak. I then thought about a vintage champagne, but demurred for the same reason (although most vintage champagnes need far less time). Then there was the cost. I usually spend the holidays with family and even though I love them very much, they do not know the difference between Krug and Korbel (that is not a slight against Korbel, which I actually think makes some nice wines, but it ain&rsquo;t no Krug). I brought a very nice champagne to a family holiday event a few years ago and my brother-in-law filled his red solo cup about 1/2 full of the $150/bottle champagne and then added Coke. And rum. And ice. And then he did it again (apparently champagne makes a rum and coke that much better). So now, I limit my choices to wines that won&rsquo;t cost me a bundle and therefore will not want me to strangle an in-laws when they create their own concoctions. I do want to have a decent, unfettered champagne in my glass, however, and for me these days, that means Piper-Heidsieck. I usually opt for the standard Brut, which is available just about every where, but if I see the ros&eacute; (Ros&eacute; Sauvage) I will grab that and then convince my family that the Coke is already mixed in.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jeffrey M. Kralik</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>The Drunken Cyclist</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Franciacorta</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Who doesn&#39;t love this time of year? Family, loved ones, friends and just another reason to drink some really great wine, although isn&#39;t that every day? There is nothing like a little bubbly to put anyone in a good mood and my holiday sparkling bottle pick is the Barrone Pizzini Franciacorta Brut Animante (NV). Franciacorta as many say is the &quot;champagne&quot; of Italy. Unfortunately the Lombardy wine region keeps the majority of Franciacorta for themselves so whenever I&#39;m able to sample some I&#39;m all in. This elegant wine displayed beautiful aromas and a hint of toastiness. Upon tasting it gave an airiness mouthfeel combined with nice minerality, citrus and stone fruits. A well balanced, complex wine with a lasting finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jennifer Martin</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Vino Travels</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cr&eacute;mant&nbsp;</strong><strong>de Jura Domaine de Montbougeau</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> My preferred holiday sparkling wine is Cr&eacute;mant - a wine that looks and tastes pricey but is deceptively inexpensive and a joy to share. One favorite is <strong>Cr&eacute;mant de Jura Domaine de Montbougeau</strong>, made in the m&eacute;thod traditionelle by third-generation vigneronne (wine maker) Nicole Deriaux. Fashioned solely with Chardonnay grapes, after secondary (malolactic) fermentation the wine spends 18 months on its lees before disgorgement and remains strictly Brut. An expert could note that its bubbles are small in size and quite present but they are not quite as tiny or in as quantity a quantity as the bubbles one would find in a great champagne. With a light, creamy flavor profile, this cr&eacute;mant can pair with just about anything. The palate and nose are largely neutral, with hints of apple, baked bread, and vanilla, and therefore allow this delightful sparkling wine to complement everything from a fresh seafood appetizer to a celebratory a roast beef to dessert without issue. While not made in massive quantities, there are several wine shops that carry this cr&eacute;mant in my town for under $25/bottle, making it easy to acquire, cheap enough to enjoy on any occasion (small or large), and convenient enough to have a chilled bottle on hand all the time. This French sparkling wine tastes far more expensive than it costs and compares nicely to pricier offerings from Champagne.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jim van Bergen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>JVB UNCORKED</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Argyle Winery Vintage Brut 2013</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, two time-honored wine grapes used for producing sparkling wine, have taken deep root in Oregon&#39;s rolling hills of the Willamette Valley.&nbsp; With the cool climate not being too different than that of France&#39;s world-famous Champagne region, the Willamette Valley is proving to be a mighty fine place for producing world-class sparkling wines.&nbsp; Although many wineries across the Valley are just now deciding to dabble in producing sparkling wine, one winery initiated their own sparkling wine movement back in the 80s and is now the largest and most well-known sparkling wine producer in the State of Oregon: Argyle Winery.&nbsp; Year in and year out, I love Argyle&#39;s Vintage Brut, but their 2013 Vintage Brut (60% percent Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay), is simply outstanding.&nbsp; Perpetual balance and a lasting fresh finish show off its vibrant acidic backbone. Alluring minerality along with honeyed fruits and exotic spices give it a richness and super lush roundness that enlivens the palate.&nbsp; The 2013 Brut was used in their Art of Sparkling Wine program - definitely worth checking out in the Argyle Holiday Catalog and on<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Julia Crowley</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>The Real Wine Julia</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuv&eacute;e</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> My sparkling wine recommendation for the December holidays is to pick up some bottles of the Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuv&eacute;e. This multi-vintage sparkler is created from stocks of reserve wines. Starting in 1985, Bruno Paillard began setting aside a portion of the final blend, adding it to the subsequent year&#39;s blend, with each subsequent year blended with the year before and the year before that, and so on. The oldest of these date back 25 years. Paillard also retains the bottled wines sur lees in the bottle longer than others - after 18 months of yeast contact, these wines show extra complexity and depth. In 1983, Bruno was the first in Champagne to put the disgorgement date on the back-label, which allows the consumer to see at what stage that particular bottle is in regards to its cellar life. Paillard is a big believer that well-made Champagnes can age well under cork. They also add a lower dosage (6 grams or less of sugar per liter) that retains acidity, making it not only a pleasure to drink but also better to age. Besides the beautiful acidity, this wine has very fine bubbles, lovely citrus, orchard fruit, and floral notes to start, with classic yeast, nuts, and minerality leading into a crisp, though long lasting finish. A wine I could drink all day, happily. SRP $50<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Kovas Palubinskas</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>50 States Of Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Barnaut Grand Reserve Brut Champagne</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This holiday season I&#39;ll be guzzling the Barnaut Grand Reserve Brut Champagne with wild abandon. This Blanc des Noirs bottling deftly combines Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in a wine that epitomizes Champagne for me--it&#39;s yeasty on the nose and bursts with aromas of baked golden apple, ripe pear, anise and lemon zest. On the palate, it&#39;s less hedonistic than the nose, but dominated by the fresh same orchard flavors. Clean minerality and low dosage make it easy to drink solo or with any array of holiday favorites (yes, it&#39;s even great with almond-crusted cheese balls). Plus, this Grand Cru wine from the village of Bouzy retails for under $50, making it a solid value for classic Champagne. Give Veuve Cliquot and other big houses a rest this year, Barnaut never disappoints!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Laura Burgess</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>The (Mis)Adventures of Laura. Uncorked.</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Amazone De Palmer</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Champagnes from Palmer and Company are a way to go big in your holiday sparkle. All these champagnes come from fruit grown in the miraculous and chalky soil of Reims and are wonderful, food friendly offerings. But if you really want to go big, try to locate Amazone de Palmer. A blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay it has toasty, mocha notes, feuillantines crisp complexity with a sparky freshness that cements its deliciousness. Made 100% from reserve wines, Palmer Champagnes puts forward this show stopping wine in a heavy oval bottle. With vineyards located in the mountains of Reims, Palmer uses techniques like hand riddling and extended bottle ageing to vinify exceptional fruit. Honor your own reflections on where you are today with a wine aged on the lees ten years. As rare as &quot;Hamilton&quot; tickets, this mesmerizing wine is about $120 if you can find it. For special occasions, like quality time with friends and family, it&#39;s worth the hunt.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Liza Swift</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>BrixChicks</strong></a></div><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Louis Roederer Brut Premier</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> I drink more than my fair share of sparkling wine, including Champagne. In fact, if I were forced to limit myself to one style of wine (red, white, ros&eacute;, etc.), I&rsquo;d pick sparkling wine. Like their still wine counterparts, they can be light to full-bodied; bone-dry to sweet; or white, red or ros&eacute;. Then there are the Blanc de Blanc and Blanc de noir. They&rsquo;re fun, festive and food friendly. What&rsquo;s not to love?!&nbsp; That&rsquo;s why sparkling wines make a great gift. And since champagne is widely regarded at the cream of the sparkling wine crop, my choice for a holiday sparkling wine would be the <strong>Louis Roederer Brut Premier</strong>. It is Champagne Louis Roederer&rsquo;s &ldquo;entry&rdquo; level cuv&eacute;e. It&rsquo;s a blend of around 40% Pinot noir, 40% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Meunier from Grand and Premier cru sites. The wine is matured in oak tuns for 3 years and then aged a minimum of another six months on cork before release. The result is champagne that belies its &ldquo;entry&rdquo; level label. It&rsquo;s a rich toasty wine offering appealing marzipan, almond, pear, subtle citrus and a hint of smoke aromas. On the palate, it is full bodied, harmonious, and energetic with a delicate creamy mousse. Flavors of white peach, apples, pear and lemon curd dominate, but hints of grapefruit, black currant, and an appealing smoky minerality play in the background. You&rsquo;ll enjoy a very satisfying finish. Available for $40 at my favorite local wine shop, it hits the sweet spot for quality and value!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Martin Redmond</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>ENOFYLZ Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> ROCO &#39;RMS&#39; Brut Willamette Valley 2013<br /><br /> <br /><br /> My pick for 2016 is a milestone wine, made by a legend (at least by Oregon sparkling wine standards that is). I&rsquo;m talking about Rollin Soles, the man behind Argyle Winery -- the first sparkling wine facility built in Oregon in 1987, back when hardly anybody would dare to make bubbles in the state. Over the course of the next 30 years Soles would prove himself as a leader in sparkling wine production in Oregon, and throughout the country. Soles left as winemaker of Argyle in 2013 (but stayed on as a consultant) to focus his attention to his own winery, ROCO, which he co-founded with his wife. The 2013 ROCO &lsquo;RMS&rsquo; Brut Sparkling Wine is his first commercial sparkling release since his days at Argyle. Hence Milestone. In one word the wine is simply gorgeous. RMS (standing for Rollin Michael Soles) is a blend of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay, with fruit sourced from higher-altitude vineyards in the Willamette Valley: Blossom Ridge (Eola-Amity AVA), Vista Hills Vineyard (Dundee Hills AVA) and Gran Moraine (Yamhill Carlton AVA). It offers sweet brioche, crisp apples and ripe pears and a bit of lemony citrus. There&rsquo;s a slight and intriguing tartness to the wine and a lingering savoriness on the finish with fine long lasting bubbles. It has power, but also grace and elegance at the same time. For the inaugural sparkling from ROCO this is a special wine and perfect for holiday celebrations!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Mary Cressler</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Vindulge</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose Champagne</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> This is one bottle that never fails to make me celebrate and puts me in a festive mood.&nbsp; I taste citrus, pear, raspberry, flowers, fresh bread, strawberries with some herbs and spice at the end. It&rsquo;s elegant, it&rsquo;s dry, it&rsquo;s fruity and it&rsquo;s fantastic. It is a perfect bottle to sum up Lily Bolinger&rsquo;s famous champagne drinking quote, &ldquo;I drink it when I&rsquo;m happy and when I&rsquo;m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I&rsquo;m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I&rsquo;m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it, unless I&rsquo;m thirsty.&rdquo; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Melanie Ofenloch</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>DallasWineChick</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Ferrari Perle</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Every day is a great day for bubbles. However, the holiday season demands bubbles! One of my all-time favorite sparkling wine producers is Ferrari-Trento. Located in the foothills of the Italian Alps, Ferrari is run by the third generation of the Lunelli family. Crafting high quality sparkling wines in the Methode Champenoise, Ferrari embodies the &ldquo;Italian Art of Living.&rdquo; My favorite sparkling wine produced by Ferrari is their Perle. It pairs perfectly with the friends, family, laughter, love, and a joyful holiday season. 2009 Ferrari Perle Trento DOC ($35): 100% Chardonnay, crafted using Methode Champenoise; straw yellow with persistent, mousse-like perlage; orchard fruit, citrus, lemon custard, marzipan, cr&egrave;me brulee, and toasted brioche dazzle the senses; elegant, light, and refreshing, seductively sophisticated, with a long, acidic and bubbly finish. When asked for my ultimate sparkling wine recommendation at any price, truthfully I cannot think of a better recommendation than Ferrari Perle. Cheers!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Michelle Williams</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Rockin Red Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Ferrari Ros&eacute;</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Choosing the ultimate sparkling wine for the December holidays is a pretty tall order. The holidays bring dinner parties, gatherings around appetizers and quiet celebrations at home - not to mention gift giving. Is it possible to choose one wine that would be appropriate for all of these occasions? Absolutely. For me the choice is easy - <strong>Ferrari Ros&eacute; </strong>sparkling wine made in the northern Italian wine region of Trento DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata.) Since 1902 Giulio Ferrari, and then the Lunelli family, have been making traditional method sparkling wines in the mountains of Trentino. Ferrari Ros&eacute; is a beautiful coppery, salmon color in the glass with fine and persistent bubbles. Aromas of mixed berries spill over to the flavors which combine with toasted almonds and finish with citrus zest. The finish is bright and clean. Ferrari Ros&eacute; pairs beautifully with appetizers (think smoked salmon, mushroom pinwheels or savory cookies). It would pair as beautifully with the fish course of a full course dinner as it would with creamy pasta as the only course of a simple supper. And don&#39;t overlook the deliciousness of sipping a glass of Ferrari Ros&eacute; on its own. If you want to introduce a friend to a delicious sparkling wine, Ferrari Ros&eacute; is the prefect gift and, at about $35, it won&rsquo;t break the bank. We are gathering with friends in a few days and I will be taking my own advice and reaching into our wine cellar for our last bottle of Ferrari Ros&eacute;. I&rsquo;m confident it is the perfect choice.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Nancy Brazil<br /><br /> <a href="">Pull that Cork</a></strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Champagne Blanc de Blancs</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Since the holidays are really special times of the year - or even your lifetime, it is worth the extra expense to toast all that we have in life. That is why my list contains my favorites that I taste only once a year. Champagne Collet NV ($55), Champagne Ruinart NV ($72), Champagne Philippe Gonet Extra Brut 2005 ($65),<br /><br /> Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2009 ($85), Champagne Bruno Pallard 2006 ($90), &amp; Champagne Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Millenaires 1995 ($190)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Philip Kampe</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>The Wine Hub</strong></a></p> Tue, 27 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6879 It’s officially time for winter white wines. Mark Angelillo <p>We wine lovers think of winemakers like celebrities. Much like chefs, we want our winemakers to flex creative muscle to create potpourris of grapes in the bottle. Look out, varietal wine. Blends have arrived. This isn&rsquo;t news to most, but it&rsquo;s a trend that&rsquo;s here to stay. We want to witness varietal synergy in our glasses and feel assured that only the best grapes from each vintage have been used. But then there&rsquo;s a certain, centuries-old iconic blend associated with a certain historic French region. This blend has had many imitators from around the globe. It has a huge following in California where winemakers are adapting and adding new grapes to the original recipes. I am talking about the Rh&ocirc;ne-style. And in this case, I&rsquo;d like to focus on the Rh&ocirc;ne-style-whites. They are unctuous, aromatic, and warming &ndash; the perfect wintertime white wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Rh&ocirc;ne-style whites are traditionally made using Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul Blanc in various configurations. While New World regions put their own spin on Rh&ocirc;ne-style blends, there&rsquo;s nothing like the real thing. Real-deal white Rh&ocirc;ne-style blends are available at incredible values. These values are often better than their New World counterparts. Check out six of my recent favorites below.<br /> <a href=""><strong>Marrenon Grand Marrenon Luberon Blanc 2014</strong></a>, $14<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Round and chubby aromas of juicy white peach, tangerine and potpourri on the nose. Thick and silky in the mouth with chewy candy tropical fruits, fresh melon and lemon zest, this is mouth coating and carries a bit of heft with it, but is a bit lighter towards the finish, with excellent length, cantaloupe and chamomile flowers, with a dusting of oak spice to finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Michel Gassier Nostre Pais Costieres de Nimes 2014</strong></a>, $17<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lemon meringue, peach and green apple aromas, somewhat simple but pronounced and pleasant. This has a tart, round and creamy palate of grapefruit, lemon and pear with restrained oak spice and zesty acidity yielding to dried herb towards the finish and a slow fading warmth.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Domaine de Fondreche Ventoux Blanc 2014</strong></a>, $18<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Emollient and lightly citrusy in the glass with fresh cut flowers, minerally dried apricot and tart lemon. Lemony and full bodied in the mouth, this is commanding and rich, full of fruit and just enough acidity to cut through the oiliness with more lemon and grapefruit, rounding out the finish with a touch of dry stone and more fresh flowers.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Saint Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc 2015</strong></a>, $19<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Floral lemon and sunflower seed notes with candied citrus peel and a touch of melon. Fleshy and warm on the palate, this has good lemon fruit flavors and a creamy nuttiness towards the mid palate that adds another dimension of almond and macadamia nuts, finishing with more citrus blossom and a squeeze of peach preserves.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>J.L. Chave Celeste Saint-Joseph 2012</strong></a>, $30<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Beautiful nose of honeyed pear and elderflower with light lemon and grapefruit notes and a hint of oak spice. Silky smooth&nbsp; in the mouth on entry, this is redolent of peach cobbler with fresh green apple and ripe melon notes and a creamy toast alongside a buttery finish of hazelnut and wooded spice. 91 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Domaine Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage Blanc 2015</strong></a>, $32<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Floral blossom, white peach and golden apple aromas with lemon shortbread and sun dried hay notes on the nose. Unctuous, creamy and full bodied with generous baked apple, persimmon and peach fruit, a vanilla cream center and a lemon drop candied note delicate on the edges. Finishes with excellent length and more creaminess</p> Thu, 22 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6880 The Decision to Spend More on Sparkling Wine Mark Angelillo <p>I love a <a href=""><strong>good value when it comes to sparkling wine</strong></a>, but there are so many occasions that warrant higher price points. In fact, purpose is the single most important part of any sparkling wine purchase. Is it a romantic affair or a graduation? Is it Thanksgiving or a retirement party? Will you be present when the bottle is opened? Generally speaking the import of the occasion leads you to a price. But the truth of the matter is that the premium category does not exist just for special occasions and gifts.&nbsp; Rather it can turn a boring occasion into a special one.&nbsp; Once you&rsquo;ve tasted these premium wines it won&rsquo;t be hard to understand why they fetch higher prices. &ldquo;Higher&rdquo; in this case means over thirty dollars.&nbsp; The care that goes into their genesis is evident.&nbsp; No matter which method is used, the creation of sparkling wine is an inherently risky proposition with higher costs. Specialized workers must be hired to tend to caves filled with liquids under extreme pressure.&nbsp; Special machinery must be used in some cases. Only the best grapes over several vintages, or within a single year, can be used. These producers get a high-five from me for the time, talent, and risk they put behind making premium sparkling wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I still hear so many people being apologetic about their wine choices. They shift responsibility to a pushy retailer, a flash sale, or they just buy something &ndash; anything&mdash;with a vaguely recognizable name. That&rsquo;s not going to be necessary this year. Check out this list of premium selections that go beyond the same old sparkling wine labels. Nobody is going to say that you made a mistake when you pop open one of these beauties!<br /> <a href=""><strong>V Sattui Winery Prestige Cuv&eacute;e Brut Napa 2011</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The prestige of the Napa name extends to its sparkling wines as well. The region&rsquo;s renowned terroir bubbles to the surface of every glass. Fresh lemon and pear aromas, a touch of oak spice and more citrus on the nose. Exquisite palate of lemon meringue, grapefruit and fresh melon, extremely clean and light on its feet but expressive and elegant. This over-delivers on flavor, mouthfeel and acidity, is well balanced and approachable. 91 pts. $33<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>La Valle Sat&egrave;n Brut Franciacorta 2010</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Highly-regarded in Italy, Franciacorta wines are made in the &ldquo;metodo classico&rdquo; &ndash; double fermentation in the bottle &ndash; with strict regulations and were the first in Italy to receive the highest designation of quality. Look for the word &ldquo;Sat&egrave;n&rdquo; on the label as an indicator of quality, too. This La Valle is a perfect example. Sat&egrave;n is a high-end silk produced in Italy&rsquo;s Como province. Sat&egrave;n style wines are silky largely because of their Chardonnay base. Only Chardonnay or Pinot Bianco grapes are permitted in Sat&egrave;n-labeled wines. Here we find gorgeous fresh apple and white pepper aromas with a touch of honey glaze. Extraordinary and elegant with sweet spice and fresh nectarine and pink grapefruit, persimmon and orange pith towards the finish. Honeyed and herbal with well-developed fruit, excellent balance, and a warm toast throughout. $34<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Schug Winery Rouge de Noirs Brut Carneros 2012</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Deep ruby color, quite dark for a sparkling wine. Blackberry and black cherry aromas with fresh butter cream. This is tart, zesty and full bodied, with a zippy spiciness through the center playing against full fruit flavors of cranberry, cherry and black currant. Finishes with some earthiness and oak spice - a sparkling wine for red wine lovers. $35<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Laurent-Perrier Demi-Sec Champagne NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> You will never disappoint anyone when you bring certified Champagne to the table. This selection by Laurent-Perrier delivers incredible value on the premium side of the line. Soft green apple and grapefruit aromas with baked pear and honeyed lemon peel. Certainly a touch of sweetness on the palate with fresh fruit delivery of pineapple, apple, and peach, creamy delicate mousse, and a candied finish. 90 pts. $44.99<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Domaine Chandon Brut Mt. Veeder 2011</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Assertive green apple and lemon aromas with dried apricot. Round and firm palate of tart green apple and bright citrus notes of lemon curd, tangerine and pink grapefruit. Tightly focused and very fresh, this doesn&#39;t pull any punches on refreshing acidity, but develops a creamy mousse on the palate and finishes with a smooth vanilla and lemon pith note and great length. $45<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Bisol Superiore di Cartizze Prosecco DOCG NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Prosecco has been battling imitators for decades. There are two key terms to look for on Prosecco labels: 1.) DOCG &ndash; meaning, the Italian government has guaranteed the origin of the wine.&nbsp; 2.) The word &ldquo;Cartizze&rdquo;. This is a small geographical area &ndash; around 107 acres &ndash; named for the Cartizze hill. This steep vineyard area is most superior for growing the Glera grapes used in Prosecco. The Cartizze area falls in the Conegliano Valdobiaddene region -- another great name to look for on bottles of premium Prosecco. <a href=""><strong>Read more about Conegliano Valdobbiadene here</strong></a>. Light biscuit aromas with peach, grapefruit and lemon. This is full bodied and rich on the palate with a creamy mousse and flavors of tart lemon, creamy almond and peach, melting into chunky melon and smooth oak notes that linger for quite a long time before depositing a touch of sweetness and more nutty buttery brioche notes. $50<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Domaine Montreaux Brut Napa NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I gave this wine 95 points, which doesn&rsquo;t happen very often. Enough said. Delectable cream and butter aromas with bright Meyer lemon, minerality and honeyed peach notes, with a touch of vanilla. Commanding and freshly zesty in the mouth, full acidity that slips into a tart lemon and grapefruit palate, smashed peach and melon, mixed spice, baked apple and a long dried apricot finish. 95 pts. $50<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Frank Family Vineyards Blanc de Blancs Carneros 2012</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fresh and clear aromas of ripe apple, pear, and lemon zest. Tart and refreshing in the mouth, this has a zesty approach, bright acidity and very tart lemon and grapefruit notes. Turns a bit softer on the finish which tails off quickly, reinforcing the clarity, focus and citrus freshness here and leading into the next sip. $55<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Grand Napa Vineyards Brut Cuv&eacute;e Carneros 2010</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Buttery brioche, fresh lemon, melon and tart citrus on the nose. Creamy mousse in the mouth, a nice bite of acidity and warm fruit notes of tart green apple, citrus pith, grapefruit and hard rind aged cheese. The finish is clean and has good length, more creaminess and a sticky resinous note alongside more citrus pith and a hint of peach. $75<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Laurent-Perrier Cuv&eacute;e Rose Brut Champagne NV</strong></a> $99.99<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fresh cranberry and strawberry on the nose, a touch herbal with floral notes. Continues to be herbal and lightly earthy on the palate, with strawberry and cherry fruit coming through the mid palate, a lively acidity and finish of lemon zest. $99.99</p> Thu, 22 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6878 Winery Spotlight: Martin Ray Gabe Sasso <p>Many wineries are distinctly associated with a single appellation or growing region. Martin Ray Winery unlike most can claim to real roots in two distinct California counties, Santa Cruz and Sonoma. When you consider the fact that they also source grapes in some of Napa Valley&rsquo;s most prime AVA&rsquo;s the picture that comes in to focus shows a brand that represents a large swath of California&rsquo;s grape growing regions.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Martin Ray brand started in Santa Cruz in 1943. Their relatively new home in Sonoma County is the old Martini &amp; Prati Wnery. William Hill who was also a stalwart of the banking scene in Sonoma County first built the facility and named it Twin Fir Winery. Courtney Benham purchased Martin Ray in 1990 and moved it to Sonoma County in 2003. When he exercised the option to purchase the property in 2014 he also invested in modernizing the production facility and every aspect of the hospitality areas.<br /> Martin Ray Winery which sits in the middle of the famed Russian River Valley is now not only a producer of reasonably priced wines representing numerous California AVAs, it&rsquo;s a terrific place to visit too. Benham and his team have created an inviting atmosphere. If your goal is to simply bump up at the bar and taste through some wines you can do that. However if you have time to luxuriate in the beautiful surroundings, I recommend it. Whether your idea of relaxation is a game of Bocce or a picnic lunch alongside your tasting flight, Martin Ray has you covered.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Over the last few months I had a couple of opportunities to taste through a myriad of wines in their wide-ranging portfolio alongside Bill Batchelor, Martin Ray&rsquo;s Winemaker and General Manager. What I found is a host of food friendly, accessible wines that fairly represent the growing regions they came from. Their wines are by and large competitively priced compared to their peers and quality in the bottle. In addition to the Martin Ray wines they also produce an everyday range of wines under the label Angeline. Below are notes on six of my favorites among their current releases.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Martin Ray 2015 Dutton Ranch Sauvignon Blanc</strong></a> ($25)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This limited production offering was made using young vines planted to the Musque clone of Sauvignon Blanc. Fermentation took place in neutral French oak. This gorgeous example of Sauvignon Blanc is reason enough to visit their tasting room. The memorable nose shows off a bevy of citrus aromas. Apricot, white peach and lychee flavors dominate the palate along with wisps of spice. The long lingering finish features lemon curd and ripe yellow melon. The aromatics and mouth-feel are the most impressive characteristics here.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Martin Ray 2015 Green Valley Chardonnay</strong></a> ($30)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This cuvee style offering is comprised of select barrels from each vineyard the winery sources from in the Green Valley of Russian River Valley. Aging took place in (40% new) French oak. Granny Smith apple, melon and hints of tropical fruit are evident on the nose. The palate leans towards the tart side with continued green apple notes balanced by hints of pear, vanilla and bits of savory herbs. The toasty finish is laced with spice, citrus and continuing bits of sour fruit. Firm acid keep things mouth-watering. Delicious by itself this Chardonnay loves creamy foods. Case in point, it was an outstanding match for Deviled Eggs.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Martin Ray 2015 Green Valley Pinot Noir </strong></a>($35)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Most of the fruit for this wine was sourced at the Dutton Ranch. Aging took place over 12 months in (50% new) French oak.&nbsp; Red fruit aromas are joined by copious amounts of spice on the welcoming nose. The layered palate is stuffed with strawberry, cherry and cranberry flavors. Black tea, pomegranate, sour cherry and a light dusting of cocoa are all evident on the lingering finish. This Pinot is delightful on it&rsquo;s own and will pair marvelously with all but the heartiest of fare.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Martin Ray 2014 Puccioni Vineyard Zinfandel</strong></a> ($30)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> All of the fruit came from the Puccioni Vineyard which sits in Dry Creek Valley, the home office for Zinfandel. Aging took place over 16 months in French, Hungarian and American oak. Black cherry and raspberry aromas fill the nose along with a touch of dark chocolate. The substantial palate is studded with black fruit flavors joined by intermingling bits of red fruit. Blackberry, chocolate sauce, baking spices and earth are all evident on the finish. This is an awesome example of Zinfandel made in a classic (not overblown) style.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Martin Ray 2013 &ldquo;Synthesis&rdquo; Cabernet Sauvignon</strong></a> ($50)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This cuvee style Cabernet was produced from fruit sourced in Stags Leap, Rutherford, Howell Mountain and Diamond Mountain. Aging took place over 18 months in (60% new) French oak barrels.&nbsp; Red fruit, spice, toast and wisps of vanilla dot the lovely but slightly reticent nose. The palate shows off bold leaning but proportionate red and black fruit flavors. Crushed red cherry, blackberry and plum flavors are all in play. Earth, roasted coffee and oodles of spices are evident on the finish. Medium tannins recede with a bit of air. This approachable Cabernet will drink well for the next decade.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Martin Ray 2014 Santa Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon</strong></a> ($55)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The fruit for this Cabernet came from two well regarded vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It&rsquo;s composed entirely of Cabernet Sauvignon. Barrel aging took place over 18 months in (55% new) French oak. Black plum, blueberry and a m&eacute;lange of spices light up the nose here. The palate is stuffed with a burst of pure, firm dark mountain fruit flavors. Blackberry, raspberry and black cherry are joined by a generous helping of savory herbs. Butter chocolate and earth flavors dominate the long finish. Firm tannins and racy acid provide terrific structure. Best suited to pair with hearty fare or lay down for a few years.</p> Wed, 21 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6877