Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Thu, 26 Nov 2015 10:11:54 -0500 Thu, 26 Nov 2015 10:11:54 -0500 Snooth The World’s Most Undervalued Wines: Chilean Pinot Noir Gabe Sasso <p>Everyone wants a good deal. It doesn&rsquo;t matter what you&rsquo;re buying, we all like to save a buck. In the wine world there are several ways to save money and get a good bottle of wine. One in particular is to shop in categories that aren&rsquo;t as popular, well known or highly scored as some others. There are a multitude of reasons a particular category might not be as highly valued as it should be; too often it&rsquo;s simply public perception or consumer awareness. My goal here is to uncover those smoking gun classifications that are criminally underrated and report on them. If I do my job well, they&rsquo;ll eventually just be good wines at a fair price.<br /> Chilean Pinot Noir is one of the most criminally undervalued wine categories on the planet. Quite frankly I can&rsquo;t believe it&rsquo;s still the secret that it is to so many wine lovers. Pinot Noir is one of the single most popular grapes in the world. A &ldquo;truism&rdquo; people like to throw around is that there is no such thing as a good deal in Pinot Noir. Well Chile puts the lie to that pretty easily. One of the things that sets Chile apart from other wine growing countries is the large number of different microclimates, elevations, soil types and such that exist. With more diversity in their terroir than most countries they have the ability to do well with a wide array of grapes. Another specific thing they have in their favor is some 3,000 miles of coast line. Pinot thrives in cooler climates and Chile has numerous vineyard sites that are tailor made for growing this notoriously difficult to master grape. Add to that the fact that most wine drinkers simply have yet to wrap their brain around great Pinot Noir coming from South America and you have a somewhat perfect storm of incredible values on terrific Pinot Noir loaded with varietal typicity.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> As with any other category, not every offering is a winner. Likewise not every Pinot coming out of Chile is great or worth drinking, but many of them are. The price points vary too, but the common denominator in the selections worth seeking out is the relationship between the level of quality in the bottle and the price they&rsquo;re selling for. In every case below these exact wines would and could sell for much higher prices if more people realized how great Chilean Pinot can be, or if they were from an area somewhat better known for this grape. With all of this in mind, I recently tasted through an array of Chilean Pinot&rsquo;s looking for wines to help prove my theory. I present them here for your drinking (and money saving) pleasure.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Santa Rita 120 Pinot Noir </strong></a>($10)</div><br /> <div><br /> The fruit for this wine comes from Chile&rsquo;s Central valley. Black cherry aromas dominate the nose. Layered black and red fruits fill the palate along with bits of savory herb. Continued red fruits and a touch of earth are present on the finish. This fresh and easy going Pinot simply has much more varietal typicity than you will get out of most selections in this price category. This is not benchmark Pinot, it is however a nice everyday Pinot; for $10 that&rsquo;s precisely what I&rsquo;m looking for.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Concha y Toro Casillero Del Diablo Reserva</strong></a> ($12)</div><br /> <div><br /> This is produced from fruit sourced in various areas of Chile. Bright red cherry aromas and a bit of sage burst from the nose here. The palate is stuffed with ripe wild strawberry and continued cherry character. Cinnamon, clove, hints of anise and more red fruit flavors are all part of the finish. This is a straight forward and relatively light bodied expression of Pinot with good typicity. I found this particularly enjoyable sipped alone.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Hacienda Araucano 2013 Pinot Noir</strong></a> ($14)</div><br /> <div><br /> The Central Valley of Chile is the source of the fruit for this wine. Red fruit aromas emerge from the nose along with savory herbs and a bit or earthiness. Red plum and cherry flavors are in strong evidence on the palate along with a touch of raspberry. The soft and silky finish is stuffed with minerals and hints of kirsch liqueur, as well as a bit of chocolate. This Pinot has tons of clean, fresh fruit flavors. It&rsquo;ll work splendidly with a wide range of foods. There is a lot of Pinot here for very little money.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Montes Alpha Pinot Noir </strong></a>($20)</div><br /> <div><br /> The Aconcagua Valley is where the vineyards for this wine are situated. The coastal mountain area has different exposures to the sun. The nose is dotted with red and black cherry aromas. Raspberry, black cherry and a hint of truffle are present on the somewhat weighty palate. An impressive spice component plays along as well and leads right into the finish which shows off plum, black tea, sour cherry and minerals. If you like a Pinot with a touch more heft and body while still remaining purely Pinot, this is the offering for you. It really benefited from 45 minutes in the decanter.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ritual 2014 Pinot Noir</strong></a> ($20)</div><br /> <div><br /> The fruit comes from Casablanca Valley, a cool area less than 30 kilometers from the ocean. It spent 12 months in French oak; 30% were new. One vintage after another I have been drinking this wine and always find it to be delicious, well made and an exceptional value; the 2014 is no exception. Ripe wild strawberry and a gentle hint of cola explode from the nose. The palate is studded with tons of fresh fruit flavors. Cherry, strawberry, light plum and a hint of red raspberry are all present. Earth, chicory, bits of thyme and light sour red fruits are all present on the long finish. You&rsquo;re going to have a hard time doing better for $20 than this selection.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Concha y Toro Marqu&eacute;s de Casa Concha 2013 Pinot Noir</strong></a> ($25)</div><br /> <div><br /> This is a single vineyard wine from the Limari region. Hints of dust, oodles of cherry and a touch of rosemary are all present in the nose. This offering is spectacularly dry with red and black fruits, spice and black tea elements all dancing together on the solid palate. Heaps of earth, sour black fruits, and mineral elements are all in play on the above average finish. Firm acid keeps everything in check. This one is tasty on its own, but shines with roasted white meats, mushroom heavy dishes, and the like.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Matetic 2013 Coralillo Pinot Noir</strong></a> ($28)</div><br /> <div><br /> The fruit comes from two of the wineries organic vineyards. 16% comes from the Valle Hermosa located 10 kilometers from the ocean. The cherry red hue is precisely the color I think of when Pinot comes to mind, the enormously fragrant nose is filled with red fruit, spice and hints of savory herb. Strawberry, red cherry, and wisps of red apple dominate the gently layered and enormously expressive palate. Cinnamon, clove and continued red fruit flavors fill the long finish. This wine is incredibly irresistible and hard to put down. It&rsquo;s so light and perfect on the tongue while being stuffed with wave after wave of pure Pinot character. If you want to see the great levels Pinot can achieve in Chile, this is a fine place to begin.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Koyle 2012 Costa Pinot Noir</strong></a> ($35)</div><br /> <div><br /> A vineyard site that is situated just five and a half miles from the Pacific Ocean is the fruit source for this wine. Two separate exposures, one north the other south exist at this property. Each is harvested and vinified separately; concrete eggs for one, French oak for the other. After 12 months of aging they are blended prior to bottling. The nose is deeply layered with red and black fruit and a bit of pleasing funk. The palate is jammed with both fresh and dry fruits; mostly red, some black. Rhubarb, sour cherry, black tea, and wisps of cocoa appear on the long finish. The texture, weight and mouth-feel of this selection elevate an appealing wine to a higher, more sophisticated level. When I think of the stunning values of Chilean Pinot out there at the high end, examples like this come to mind.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Each of the wines above showcases different sides of Pinot Noir. They&rsquo;re made from a host of places, in a variety of styles, and with different intents. What connects them all together is that each of them does a fine job showing off Pinot character, they&rsquo;re all good values relative to their price points and quality levels and they&rsquo;re all purely Chile. Drink them up, while Chilean Pinot is still a steal.&nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Gabe Sasso is a freelance writer. In addition to his own blog,&nbsp;<a href=""><strong></strong></a>, founded in 2007, he has been the wine columnist for&nbsp;<a href=""><strong></strong></a>&nbsp;since January of 2009, and writes a weekly Wine &amp; Spirits column for&nbsp;<a href=""><strong>The Daily Meal</strong></a>. In 2009 he founded&nbsp;<a href=""><strong>Drink Dry Creek</strong></a>, dedicated to that appellation in California. His curiosity about wine stems from, in no small part, his large Italian family. Most of his uncles, his father and his grandfathers were home wine makers. With that and many childhood trips to Italy as his baptism into wine, his wine interest flourished.&nbsp;</em></div><br /> </p> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 00:00:00 -0500 article6718 Special Occasion Wines Worth The Price Snooth Editorial <p>&lsquo;Tis the season to break your piggy bank and spend its contents on some higher-priced wines! We spend a lot of time on Snooth talking about and <a href=""><strong>presenting you with crackerjack value wines</strong></a>. Our goal is to demonstrate that cost is not always commensurate with quality. But oftentimes there is a very valid reason why you should invest in a higher-priced bottle. We asked some of the web&rsquo;s top wine writers to choose a single high-priced wine that is truly worth its cost. For this exercise, &ldquo;high&rdquo; has been defined as thirty dollars or more. Which worthy bottle will you have on your holiday table this year? Scroll through the slides for expert suggestions, and let the holiday splurges begin!<br /> </p> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 00:00:00 -0500 article6714 Holiday Wine Etiquette For Novices Grigor Licul <p>The first rule: Exercise moderation in moistening your windpipe while working! Wine is responsible for an occasional scandal, and I want to start this article in a responsible way. But business deals are framed during dinner conversations over wine, and wine provides a liquid foundation for your dearest relationships in professional life. We will have many occasions to share wine with our colleagues this holiday season. In this article, I will focus on three main scenarios for wine in a business context: gifting, hosting business dinners, and formal functions. It&rsquo;s time to prepare for that holiday party! I will make sure that you are ready.<br /> <strong>Gifting</strong><br /> <div><br /> The ability to choose wine appropriately, the elements of price and context, will play important roles when gifting wine. If you are buying a bottle with a specific person in mind, consider the associations relevant to the receiver, or choose a wine that holds special significance for your relationship with the individual (milestones, anniversaries etc.). You can choose a wine from the person&rsquo;s favorite vacation spot or ancestral homeland or a vintage of somebody&rsquo;s birth year. This type of foresight and consideration ensures that the gift takes on a personal character and enhances the gifting occasion beyond the intrinsic merit of the wine.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Choosing carefully when purchasing for a group of people is also worth a certain amount of thought. Not long ago, I gifted a few select bottles to a group of Chinese real estate investors. Not knowing their personal tastes, or anything much beyond our professional relationship I relied on common knowledge &ndash; in Chinese culture number eight is considered a particularly lucky number and is welcomed among the Chinese due to its connection with prosperity and wealth. I was also aware of the growing taste for Bordeaux wines in China. So, I choose an excellent 1998 St. Emilion, as in 2008 Bordeaux had a challenging weather resulting in somewhat weaker wines. &nbsp;I am happy to report that my gift was well received, and it provided a proper context for the recipients to share additional information on the importance of numerology in Chinese culture at our next meeting.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>NOTE: Gifting worthy wines is expensive, and you should consider buying wine in bulk &ndash; wholesalers offer discounts of up to 30% when buying more than a case of wine.&nbsp;</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Business Dinners</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> Upon choosing a venue and making the reservation, the host can study the wine list and consult the restaurant&rsquo;s sommelier in advance. However, this is often unrealistic and one needs to learn to absorb any wine list fast. Unfortunately, the availability of wines of every variety has given rise to encyclopedic wine lists which seem to serve no practical purpose except to awe and confuse. As a host, it is your duty to figure out which wine optimally compliments which dish within the confines of your budget.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Cuisine</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> A wine should never be ordered before the food, as the food needs to be suitably accompanied. As a rule of thumb, wines of certain geographical pedigree compliment dishes of the same. For example, if eating an Italian dish with a generous amount of tomatoes, a classic Chianti would be an amiable choice. By the same token, if having a trout in a French restaurant, a Loire white may be an appropriate choice. And for a steak, go with big Californian varietals with good amount of oak / tannins &ndash; Cabs, Syrah, or a good Zin are always a safe bet and true crowd pleasers. If dishes of the opposite spectrum are being ordered, and one bottle / type of wine cannot compliment all of the dishes at the table, ordering multiple types of wine is necessary. &nbsp;In this case a single glass of wine, or carafes and half bottles chosen through the above described shortcut are practical options for complementing a particular dish.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Price</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> Your choice of wine will be guided in part by the price. You know your price and you should stick to it. &nbsp;Most of the time, the most expensive wine is not the most prudent choice. By choosing appropriately you will display skill and fiscal responsibility. Keep in mind &ndash; you are being judged. Once you narrow the region and type of wine, read the wine list from the right &ndash; price first &ndash; and choose a bottle in your price range.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong><em>NOTE: Shortcut to pairing wine with dish quickly: country or region of origin of the dish ➔ regional wine ➔ white/red ➔ price ➔ wine&nbsp;</em></strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> When the wine arrives at the table, as the person who placed an order you will be given a taste. The purpose is to inspect the wine, not to decide if you like it. Sniff it, make a note of its color, roll it around your mouth, and if the wine is not spoiled, approve it by a nod to the server. Only if the wine is spoiled in some way should you send the wine back. As the wine is being poured, it is appropriate to provide a bit of a context around your choice &ndash; a relevant piece of trivia, or a short personal anecdote regarding the type of wine. This is another good reason to study the list ahead of time!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Formal Functions</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> It is unfortunate that at many formal functions vin ordinaires of lower quality are served, regardless of the stature of the event or number of distinguished throats at attendance. The purpose of wine at these functions is more in thought than in the effect, and you should focus not on the taste of the wine, but on the table manners and etiquette - keep the glass at the stem, not the bulb; leave an empty glass at the tray, not the table; stand up and raise the glass for the toast.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While on the subject of manners, it is inappropriate to drain a glass completely at a formal function. &nbsp;Proper or not, there is a practical benefit to keeping your glass half full - you will always be ready for an unexpected toast. While toasting people often like to clink their glass against the glass of another guest. Although this was at one point considered improper, and it remains so in certain circles, it has become prevalent. To stay on the safe side, do not initiate the clink, but oblige others if they initiate it. It is very important to look the other person in the eyes while clinking the glass.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>NOTE: At formal functions, consider drinking white wine vs. red wine, as red wine will make your lips and teeth red.</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>In Conclusion</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There is much more to wine in a business context than described above. As there is no end to what you can learn about wine, consider this a primer. Behave with dignity and courtesy, denounce excess, enjoy a glass, and mingle!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> What are your wine etiquette tips? Let us know in the comments.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Grigor Licul studied the romance and science of wine under Dr. Harvard Lyman at Stony Brook University, while attaining a graduate degree in Biochemistry. He is a New York City real estate professional known for his ability to find the perfect properties for his customers as well as to choose the perfect wines for the dinner parties. Grigor&rsquo;s international clientele base and endless curiosity for what makes some wines great and other ones less so, takes him regularly to the world&rsquo;s top and lesser known wine producing regions. For speaking engagements, please see: <a href=""><strong></strong></a>. Personal web page: <a href=""><strong></strong></a></em></div><br /> </p> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 00:00:00 -0500 article6716 Vertical Wine Tasting is Revelatory <p>America&rsquo;s first vertical tasting of the fine wines of Podere Sapaio from Bolgheri in Coastal Tuscany took place at my restaurant, Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson, NJ, this past year. Owner, enologist Massimo Piccin was present and told us, &ldquo;We are wine. We are men and women winemakers who transform grapes into wine by means of our know-how, our errors and our technology. Wines are like babies: we give them birth, see them grow and take care of them year after year. Man and his knowledge belong to the terroir, just like the sun and the rain, the soil and the vine. Great wines cannot come into being without man&rsquo;s great passion.&rdquo; Read on to learn more about Bolgheri, and discover what can be unpacked during a vertical tasting.<br /> <strong>Verdoni:</strong> My first visit to Bolgheri was in the mid-1960&rsquo;s, as a part of an Etruscan archaeological dig. The wines of the area were not so important to me or to the world at the time. They were mostly ros&eacute;s which went well with the local fish. This is the Maremma, the Marittima, the Tuscan Coast. Bolgheri&rsquo;s wines are not wines of altitude. They are wines of the sea; they are wines of light. The brightness of the zone rivals that of Provence. Bolgheri&rsquo;s wines reflect that.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Magic has been taking place here ever since the late 1960&rsquo;s. Today there are DOC&rsquo;s for excellent white Vermentino, as well as a Bolgheri Rosso. The superstar is Bolgheri Rosso Superiore DOC. Classic Bordeaux varietals benefit from the temperature variation from day to night. What does a Bolgheri Rossi Superiore taste like? It is not as fruity, oaky as a big California Cab. It has structure, class and style like a great Haut-Medoc. However, where you feel earthiness in the French wine, in the Bolgheri wine you feel sunlight and brightness.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Vic:</strong> I first met Massimo Piccin in 2007. My family and I were the guests of Sebastiano Rosa and his wife Elena at the Tenuta San Guido estate (Sassicaia). Being a wine and food junkie, I like to branch out to taste the best local ingredients and the finest wines. Bolgheri is a small, walled village between Grosseto and Livorno, north of Rome and south of Pisa. The castle at the top of the hill in Bolgheri is a mere 8 kilometers from the sea. In this village everyone knows everyone, and word was out that I should meet the new kid on the block, Massimo Piccin of Podere Sapaio.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> My GPS instructed me to turn onto a dusty road. After a few curves, we arrived at the estate. Massimo seduced us with a bottle of vintage Champagne and lunch. I was amazed at his humility, charm and dedication. We tasted 2004, 2005 and 2006 Volpolo, and 2004 and 2005 Podere Sapaio Superiore. The wines had depth, character and class. I realized that I had stumbled upon a gem. It was a great tribute that these fine wines were fashioned from vines that were very young.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>The Podere Sapaio Estate</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> Massimo Piccin, an engineer from Veneto, purchased Podere Sapaio in 1999 and planted his first grapes in February of 2000. Podere means &ldquo;farm&rdquo; and Sapaio takes its name from the Sapaia grape which used to grow in this area. The farm consists of 25 hectares (about 37 acres) dedicated to the vine. The soil of the vineyards are clay and sand with some limestone. Until the 17th Century this area was a swamp. Podere Sapaio&rsquo;s illustrious neighbors include Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Grattamacco, Le Macchiole, Guado al Tasso, Michele Satta and Angelo Gaja. Bolgheri is a tiny zone, consisting of about 1,200 hectares (about 1,800 acres). The total production of all 50 or so grower/producers is less than 4,000,000 bottles per year. Massimo Piccin rarely produces more than 100,000 bottles per year, all of which are red.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>The Vines</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> The Sangiovese does not grow well within Bolgheri. It does better farther south in the Scansano area, where it is known as Morellino.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> At Podere Sapaio, Massimo Piccin works only with the classic red Bordeaux vines, Cabernet Sauvignon (Uva Francesca), Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Merlot. These and other French varietals have been in Tuscany since the 1700&rsquo;s. An increase in French plantings took place along the Maremma coast in the early 19th Century, when Napoleon was exiled to the nearby island of Elba.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>The Wines</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> Podere Sapaio produces two wines, both red. Volpolo is a Bolgheri DOC, aged 14 months in barrique and tonneaux and 6 months in the bottle. It is a brilliant wine of great value. The 2012 Volpolo consists of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 15% Petit Verdot. 90,000 bottles were produced.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sapaio&rsquo;s Bolgheri Superiore DOC is more important, richer and more age worthy. This noble red is barrel fermented, aged 18 months in barriques and further refined in the bottle for 8 to 10 months before it is released. It usually consists of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 20% Petite Verdot. In some vintages Merlot is added. Emphasis and focus is placed on creating the best blend. At every step Massimo is assisted by world renowned consulting enologist Carlo Ferrini.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>The Vertical</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> Some of the older vintages came directly from the winery or from the personal collection of Victor Rallo. All of the bottles were in pristine condition and showed very well. We feel that you can age Podere Sapaio Bolgheri Superiore DOC red wines comfortably for a decade or more.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Volpolo 2012:</strong> This is the current release. Dry, harmonious, still young with lustrous, ruby to purple color. Blueberries, subtle, concentrated. Drink now through 2018.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Podere Sapaio Superiore 2011:</strong> Only 10,000 bottles produced. Bottled June 2013. The oak is in balance with the fruit. Drink now, but decant. Hold until 2018-2020. A warm, difficult vintage. The excellence comes from a careful selection.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>2010:</strong> Balanced and elegant. Will develop for the next 15 years. Good minerality, salinity and fruitiness. A cooler vintage. Deep, blue color. Fragrance of herbs and pencil shavings. Try with steaks and lamb chops.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>2009:</strong> Unique, most Tuscan. Starting now to evolve. Leathery aspect, like smelling new car leather seats. Fruit and spice and minerality. Drink from now through 2020.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>2008:</strong> Big, deep, rich, complex. Concentrated with great body. A banner year, 30,000 bottles produced. Some Merlot added. Plummy, ripe. Drink from now through 2020.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>2007:</strong> Elegant, tannic, sweet in the nose and mouth. Rich, big, bold. Drink from now through 2022. Merlot added.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>2006:</strong> Powerful, tannic but graceful. Superb structure, opulent. Age this one. Drink from now through 2025. Use of Merlot is judicious. Ripe.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>2005:</strong> Merlot added. Good acidity and tannins to balance the concentrated dark fruitiness. Drink from now through 2020.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Forecast&nbsp;</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>2012:</strong> Will be very good, as we can see from tasting the 2012 Volpolo.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>2013:</strong> This will be an outstanding wine, superior to the 2006.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>2014:</strong> There may be no Sapaio Superiore, due to a lack of balance in fruit maturation. Superiore juice will probably create a great Volpolo.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Final Note</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> Massimo Piccin, not realizing that his wines would develop a cult following, gave all of his first vintage &ndash; 2004 &ndash; away as gifts. Fortunately, one large format &ndash; 3 liter bottle &ndash; made its way into the hands of a friend, who was kind enough to share it with us. It was excellent, a prelude to things to come. And to think, this classy 2004 was crafted from vines that were less than 5 years old! <em>Grazie</em>, Massimo.</div><br /> </p> Tue, 17 Nov 2015 00:00:00 -0500 article6710 Why Organic and Biodynamic Wines Matter Christina Pirello <p>We hear a lot of talk about organic and biodynamic wine but do we understand its importance in the world of wine? And its impact on the planet? It&rsquo;s pretty big picture stuff. In the early 1920&rsquo;s, a group of farmers, concerned with the decline in the health of soil, plants and animals (yes, even back then it was a concern) worked with Rudolph Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy (spiritual science). He had spent his adult life researching and investigating the subtle forces in nature that influenced the health and wellness of all life. From his work and lectures emerged the fundamental principles of biodynamic agriculture that related the ecology of the farm to that of the entire cosmos. I told you this was big picture!<br /> Steiner introduced the idea for a farming system based on &ldquo;on farm&rdquo; biological cycling through mixing crops and livestock. While this thinking wasn&rsquo;t new to farmers, it was Steiner&rsquo;s idea of the farm as an organism that helped create this new system of agriculture&mdash;a new way of thinking about farming.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While esoteric-sounding in nature, biodynamic farming has a practical application in growing, suggesting that humans, animals, plants and minerals bond with the cosmic periphery to form a whole system or organism. The root of the biodynamic system is the relationship of the farmer and his or her practices as they relate to the local ecosystem, which in biodynamics includes the influence of the cosmos and subtle life forces on local habitats.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Biodynamic growing also acknowledges that whenever we till soil or remove a crop, the land is being exploited through the breakdown of organic substances and the removal of minerals. Commonly recognized organic practices and fertilizers are used to correct this problem. However, what is more important and often overlooked is the depletion of the subtle life forces that are also needed to sustain biological functioning. These forces need to be replenished in the soil and in the air above the earth&rsquo;s surface.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There are several ways to strengthen these life forces. In biodynamic agriculture, preparations are made from herbs, mineral substances and animal manures to be applied to soil and plants at very small rates, measured in parts per million. Timely applications revitalize the weakened life forces and stimulate root growth, soil microorganism production and humus formation.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The foundation of Steiner&rsquo;s theories focused on blending prescriptive, holistic practices with the farmer&rsquo;s own experimental methods. He placed great importance on the fact that nature could be understood only through studying and integrating natural cyclical rhythms. He was deeply critical of reductionism and agricultural science&rsquo;s emphasis on products from outside the farm.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In our modern version of biodynamic growing and farming, it&rsquo;s important to note that all organic certification guidelines must be met in addition to biodynamic guidelines, so the practices are often intertwined.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Like organic, biodynamic agriculture recognizes that healthy, living soil is the heart of a farm. Vibrant, living soil is the key to growing healthy plants and in turn feeding healthy animals and people. Over time, all successful agrarian civilizations developed farming systems that were in concert with their surroundings, recycling nutrients. By nurturing and feeding the soil, the farm continues year after year, into future generations.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The biodynamic agricultural model solves the problem of substitution in organic farming, which simply replaces a chemical input (fertilizer or herbicide) with a naturally derived product. While biodynamic principles support organic farming on all levels, they additionally consider what is being brought onto the farm, the sources and what the long-term implications of their use, import and distribution are.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Biodynamic farms are a great example of vital, healthy agriculture without importing fertilizers and other amendments. New advances in fertility and agricultural systems management are always being researched with new practices that fit the family, farm and bio-region to create the healthiest food on the healthiest soil.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I can&rsquo;t stress the importance of these growing practices enough. When it comes to wine, the importance of sustainability is as paramount as flavor.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The history of organic grape growing in Mendocino County can be traced back to the early Italian immigrants who first planted grapes here in the late 1800s. Before the introduction of agricultural chemicals following WWI, all grape growing and food production was what we would consider organic. They knew no other way. Many of the early grape growing families resisted the pressures to accept modern chemicals in favor of their traditional &ldquo;organic&rdquo; methods. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The myriad chemicals approved for use on grapes are not only expensive, but hazardous to the health of those working in the vineyards, as well as those living around them and downstream.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> However, organic grape growing is more than just resisting the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Mechanical cultivation replaces toxic herbicides. In place of chemical fungicides, natural sulfur is employed to combat powdery mildew and rot. By creating a bio-diverse farm landscape that encourages natural predators, the need for insecticides is eliminated. Fertility needs are generated on the farm by cover cropping and making compost.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Cover crops are planted in the fall and tilled under in the spring using a fertilization technique known as &ldquo;green manuring&rdquo;. &nbsp;A variety of grasses, legumes and mustards protect the soil from erosion, fix nitrogen into the soils and offer a habitat for many beneficial insects. The benefit of cover cropping is seen in the health of the soil and the quality of vines.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The use of compost in the vineyard is essential to the health of the vineyard. At a recent visit to <a href=""><strong>Frey Vineyards</strong></a>, I saw how they recycle all of their grape pumice back into the vineyard after it is composted with other organic ingredients including manure, old hay, and garden waste. By returning this valuable resource to the vineyard, the fertility loop is sealed and sustainable soil management is achieved. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Frey Vineyards, along with a handful of other family owned vineyards in Mendocino County, joined CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) in 1980. Frey winery created the first wines in the United States to be made from certified organic grapes (as well as biodynamically grown). Many of these pioneering certified organic vineyards still produce fruit that is used in Frey wines today. Over the years Frey Vineyards has helped many of these growers through the process of certification, helping to increase the total organic vineyard acreage in Mendocino County to over 3500 acres.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> All this sounds great, right? But what about the taste of organic wine? It&rsquo;s one thing to take the noble road for the planet, but we want to enjoy our wine as well. Worry not, my friends. My experience of organic and biodynamic wines is one of pleasant surprise. Sure, there have been a few wines that could stand to improve, but for the most part, I&rsquo;ll stand an organic, biodynamic wine alongside any conventionally produced wine and enjoy it just as much.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I am a big fan of Frey Winery wines. From their Petit Syrah to the Organic Agriculturist, their Sangiovese and Merlot to their Dessert Portage, I find their red wines hearty and full of smooth flavor. Their whites are crisp and creamy, with their White Zinfandel and Biodynamic Chardonnay as my favorites, with a smooth vanilla finish that I can&rsquo;t resist.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> You decide. Do we need biodynamic and organic wines? I think Mother Nature would respond with a resounding yes!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Christina Pirello is the Emmy Award-winning host of the television series Christina Cooks!, which airs weekly on over 200 national public television stations nationwide. She has written five cookbooks, the bestselling Cooking the Whole Foods Way, plus Your Way to the Life You Want, Glow, A Prescription for Radiant Health and Beauty and Christina Cooks: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Whole Foods, But Were Afraid to Ask. Her latest book, This Crazy Vegan Life was published in January, 2009 and she is currently at work on her sixth book. Visit Christina on her <a href=""><strong>website</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Facebook</strong></a>, and <a href=""><strong>Twitter</strong></a>.</em></div><br /> </p> Wed, 11 Nov 2015 00:00:00 -0500 article6709 How to Find the Best Bottles of Honeyed Heaven John Downes <p>There are hundreds of sweet wines but if we had a survey to name just one, bet your bottom dollar that Sauternes would be top of the list. This famous French sweetie is served at posh dinner parties and top restaurants around the world, usually in those silly little &lsquo;thimble&rsquo; glasses but hey, let&rsquo;s talk about the wine itself for a minute. The Sauternes region is about an hour&rsquo;s drive south of Bordeaux city, very close to the river Garonne at the southern tip of the Graves region. In these unique vineyards, Bordeaux&rsquo;s main white grapes Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, (sometimes with a touch of Muscadelle), produce reputably the best sweet wine in the world.&nbsp;<br /> Believe it or not, the key to Sauternes&rsquo; quality is rotten grapes. To the uninitiated, they would go straight in the skip but to the winemaker they&rsquo;re liquid gold. Getting technical, the rot is caused by botrytis cinerea &ndash; that&rsquo;s &lsquo;noble rot&rsquo; to you and me &ndash; it attacks and shrivels the grapes and in driving out the moisture produces intense sweetness, heady lemon apricot flavours and attractive honey overtones. &nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The grapes are left on the vines into the autumn when mists, caused by the cool spring-fed waters of the Ciron River meeting the warmer tidal Garonne, envelope the vineyards to promote the growth of noble rot. The thin skinned Semillon grapes are easily attacked by the rot and give a waxy lemon character to the wines whilst Sauvignon Blanc chips in with its citrus flavours and typical crisp acidity, (that&rsquo;s the stuff that makes your mouth water), so important to balance the wine&rsquo;s natural, high sugar levels. Because the botrytis attacks individual bunches willy-nilly throughout the vineyard the pickers have to pass through the vineyard several times (tries) to pick the fully rotten grapes; an expensive, delicate and messy process.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> For my anorak readers, the Sauternes appellation consists of 5 communes; Barsac, Preignac, Bommes, Fargues and Sauternes itself. Barsac is also an appellation in its own right which can be confusing. As a mate in my local wine bar queried, &ldquo;If it&rsquo;s from Barsac how come it&rsquo;s called Sauternes?&rdquo; The answer is &lsquo;very French&rsquo;. The rules say Barsac can be called Sauternes but Barsac can only come from Barsac. Don&rsquo;t ask. I told you that it was &lsquo;very French&rsquo;!&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sauternes was so important in the 19th century that when Bordeaux Medoc reds were famously classified in 1855, Sauternes and Barsac merited their own classification. Unlike the Medoc, which had five levels of classified status, there was only two levels in Sauternes; First Growth and Second Growth. Eleven chateaux were awarded First Growth (1er Cru) status whilst fifteen were classed as Second Growths. That said, when it comes to Sauternes, Chateau d&rsquo;Yquem is considered to be in a class of its own. Mind you, at about &pound;100 ($154) a bottle, class does not come cheap! &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The other Sauternes chateaux to look out for are Climens (Barsac), Suduiraut, Rieussec, Sigalas- Rabaud, Coutet (Barsac), de Fargues, Ch. Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Ch. Doisy-V&eacute;drines (Barsac), Chateau Partarrieu and La Tour Blanche. For the record, other regions in Bordeaux, like Cadillac and Loupiac, also produce sweet wines but none achieve the complexity, purity or balance of Sauternes.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> As you can guess, First Growth Sauternes carries a pretty hefty price tag. &ldquo;How much!&rdquo;, my friend screamed when I told him that a bottle 1er Cru <a href="">Rieussec</a> could set him back about &pound;50 ($75). Luckily I had a &lsquo;sweet&rsquo; answer to hand. Rieussec, like several other chateaux produce a &lsquo;Second Label&rsquo; wine; Carmes de Rieussec (<a href="">Rieussec</a>) carries a friendlier &pound;25 ($40) price tag.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The other second labels to look out for are Cypres de Climes (Chateau Climens), Castelnau de Suduiraut (Suduiraut), Le Cadet de Sigalas (<a href="">Sigalas- Rabaud</a>), Chartreuse de Coutet (<a href="">Coutet</a>) <a href="">Chateau Partarrieu</a> and Les Charmilles de la Tour Blanche (<a href="">La Tour Blanche</a>).&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> With Sauternes losing favour in the global marketplace over recent years, to their credit, some of the region&rsquo;s winemakers are looking to innovation to boost sales. Suduiraut for example, has created &ldquo;Lion de Suduiraut&rdquo;, a &lsquo;new style wine for the younger drinker&rsquo;. Technical Director Pierre Mont&eacute;gut gets the very best out of his varied granite, sand and clay soil vineyards to create his &lsquo;Lion&rsquo; assemblage, (&lsquo;blend&rsquo; to you and me) that&rsquo;s in the order of 90% Semillon and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. At about &pound;20 ($35) this latest addition to their portfolio is less sweet, fresher and fruitier than the chateau&rsquo;s traditional fare which, slightly chilled, makes for a cracking aperitif&hellip;. no matter how old you are!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So, with a Sauternes to match every pocket and taste there&rsquo;s never been a better time to look again at Bordeaux&rsquo;s sweet heart. Going back to the wine glasses, serve these wonderful sweeties in normal fine wine glasses not those silly little thimbles. You can then clock the incredible colour, swirl and sniff the amazing aromas &hellip;.. before quietly sipping a little bit of honeyed heaven.</div><br /> </p> Tue, 03 Nov 2015 00:00:00 -0500 article6708 The Duct Tape Alien Wins the Divining Rod #HalloWine Costume Contest! <p><a href=""><img src="" /></a></p><p><div><br /> <strong><em>This contest ended on 11/7/15 at midnight! Congratulations to our winner, India Fowler the Duct Tape Alien! Here is a description of India&#39;s costume, in her own words:&nbsp;</em></strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <span style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px;">&quot;So I never wanted to be something normal and boring, so I decided to make my costume. That way it&#39;d be original. I wanted to be a reptile, but I wanted to be an alien too, because you can make up anything when being a alien. I started watching horror movies and collecting ideas from them. I wanted to still look like a female so I didn&#39;t make it too horrifying.&nbsp;I started off making scales with duct tape. Most of this costume is duct tape!&nbsp;Then I bought a regular latex suit and painted it with acrylic paint. I bought the paint online for cheap. I put two coats of that. Then I made the feet with wedge shoes. I glued the duct tape scales on the wedges first then I painted them. The tail I made with a foam noodle, carved it and then hot glued the scales. The hands are rubber gloves with acrylic paint over them and finger extensions. I made the crown with branches and hot glue and infused that with my hair so it can be sturdy and natural. My face consisted of a lot of latex products and makeup blends. I&#39;m wearing contacts to boost the dramatic effect. And yeah that&#39;s how you make your costume on a budget and original! I hope you enjoy.&quot;&nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>India will receive a $250 cash gift card and prizes from The Divining Rod. Congratulations, India! And thank you to all who entered.&nbsp;</em></span><em><a href="">Click here for complete contest rules</a>.</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>The Divining Rod winemaker Marc Mondavi has been a water witch since he was a teenager. Water witching has been employed for centuries to detect the hidden presence of underground water sources. A specially fashioned twig or stick, known as a divining rod, is used to make the discovery. Marc Mondavi has used the technique to uncover key sources of underground water, and established vineyards on those sites. Hence the inspiration for <a href="">The Divining Rod</a> was born!</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> </p> Wed, 28 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6692 Open Your Eyes to German Red Wines Christy Canterbury MW <p><div><br /> &ldquo;Spat&rdquo; means &ldquo;late&rdquo; in German. In (that crazy) German noun compounding, Spat + Burgunder = &ldquo;late-ripener from Burgundy&rdquo;. That, in turn, means Pinot Noir. Chances are good you&rsquo;ve never seen a bottle of Spatburgunder, much less tasted one, but hopefully that soon changes. Today over one-third of German wine is red, and Spatburgunder is the leading black grape. There&rsquo;s so much that Germany ranks third in global plantings after France and the US.</div><br /> <br /> Given Germany&rsquo;s winegrowing regions are not only continental but also sit at high latitudes, this variety often struggles there. (For comparative purposes, Reims in Champagne sits at 49&deg;. Germany&rsquo;s Pinot Noir vineyards sit between 48-51&deg;.) However, climate change, improved clones and better vineyard management have revolutionized the quality of still Sp&auml;tburgunder over the last two decades.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While quality and quantity are on the rise, overall Sp&auml;tburgunder pricing is dropping. This seems mostly due to more brands entering the US market. Just a few years ago, Sp&auml;tburgunders routinely cost $45 or more. (It&rsquo;s only fair to remember that Pinot Noir is never &ldquo;cheap&rdquo;, and most German producers have small operations with high labor costs. Moreover, some Sp&auml;tburgunders are produced in tinier lots than highly desirable Burgundies.) While that&rsquo;s not out of line compared to higher-end Pinots from elsewhere, it can seem like a lot of money for a newbie to Sp&auml;tburgunder or a younger or pricetag-sensitive consumer. Good news: a few of my most recent selections hover in the mid-$20s and none cost more than $40.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So here&rsquo;s the rub, as I alluded to before: German Sp&auml;tburgunders may take some searching to find. Largely a white wine producing country, Germans are thirsty for their own reds (and import lots of others&rsquo;, too.) Producers often don&rsquo;t need to ship their wines elsewhere, but those determined to show the world their red gems do, albeit in small quantities.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Before you start hunting for these elusive liquids, you likely want to know what to expect. Perhaps unsurprisingly, generalizations are tough. It is possible to roughly divide these wines into two camps: one is more woodsy and earthy in style and the other is more fruit-driven and polished. The first genre seems more typical of other European Pinots. The second more resembles the New World. Many wines in the latter group long have been generously extracted and finished with a big dollop of new oak. This is changing gradually though, and these wines tend to be trimmer and wear less &ldquo;make-up&rdquo; with each passing vintage.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> These halves, however, only represent winemaking choices. Behind these choices lie terroir (which encompasses more than soil). There&rsquo;s a good bit of limestone and clay (Burgundy&rsquo;s top choices for Pinot Noir), but there&rsquo;s also slate, sandstone, schist, loess and volcanic soils. Each contributes different flavors and textures to their crops.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> One clear difference across all the styles is the wines&rsquo; colors. They tend to show auburn and brown tones more quickly than Pinots from almost anywhere else in the world. This doesn&rsquo;t make them taste any less lovely, but it may surprise the uninitiated more accustomed to hulky Russian River bottlings or even lighter-styled Oregon wines.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> It&rsquo;s hard to choose a top region, though the Ahr and Pfalz most often come out as my personal favorites. Still, excellent producers hail from the Rheinghau, Baden (which has the most Pinot Noir plantings), Rheinhessen and Franken, as well as others.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Whatever the origin of the Sp&auml;tburgunders you find, go ahead and pick some up. Every Pinot Noir journey is unique, and Germany&rsquo;s present many compelling paths. See picks and notes below.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pfl&uuml;ger D&uuml;rkheimer 2012 Pinot Noir </strong></a>13% (Pfalz) SRP $27</div><br /> <div><br /> Moderately deep and mulberry-colored at the core - which dances with starbright reflections, this wine is resoundingly earthy and packed with Old World flavor and texture. Its fresh blueberry and Morello cherry core is surrounded by smooth yet structuring tannins and feisty acidity. Dry from start to finish with nicely intense complexity, this bottling is quite Burgundian. Drink 2015-18.</div><br /> <div><br /> 92, 4 glasses&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>K&uuml;hling-Gillot 2010 Sp&auml;tburgunder Trocken</strong></a> 13.5% (Rheinhessen) SRP $35</div><br /> <div><br /> This wine is so svelte it just glides across the palate. Its fairly generous glycerol polishes-up any pretense of chewy tannins. Between its caressing texture and rich forest fruits, this juicy wine packs in the flavor ounce for ounce right through its exceedingly long finish. Though dynamic and gulpable now, this should definitely shine as it takes on bottle age, another five to seven years at least.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 94, 4.5 glasses</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>F&uuml;rst 2012 Sp&auml;tburgunder Tradition</strong></a> 13% (Franken) $35</div><br /> <div><br /> Pale in red plum skin color, this wine&rsquo;s nose reminds me of a nice C&ocirc;te de Beaune, maybe a Month&eacute;lie or an Auxey-Duresses, from a fine year. Crunchy red fruits mix with bramble, aligning nicely with this wine&rsquo;s vibrant, mouth-watering quality. That vigorous acidity is not demanding yet firmly places it in the &ldquo;food wine&rdquo; category. This drinks well from 2015 through 2019, possibly longer. Lots of fun if the prce is a touch steep for what&rsquo;s delivered in the bottle.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 9 ,3.5 glasses</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Meyer-Nakel 2013 Pinot Noir Estate</strong></a> ?% (Ahr) $33</div><br /> <div><br /> This is one of those wines that pains me because the bottle empties way too quickly. It&rsquo;s limpid, deep burgundy core turns into ripe strawberries, blueberry pie filling and clove on the palate. Dressed to kill, this wine has undenial, immediate appeal, but it&rsquo;s not falling off a cliff any time soon. It should drink well for another four or five years.</div><br /> <div><br /> 94, 4.5 glasses</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ziereisen 2012 Blauer Sp&auml;tburgunder Tschuppen</strong></a> 12.5% (Baden) $24</div><br /> <div><br /> This wine shows best with a little TLC. It&rsquo;s unquestionably funky when first opened &ndash; the kind of funk that sits on the fence between intriguing and ick. Toss it into a decanter or maybe a have a glass, then drink the rest the second day. Its light body and alcohol also pair well with a nice chill, which help to calm that barnyard quality. Otherwise, it tastes like an exotic mix of hung meat, ash and blueberries mix with a core of black cherries. Its structure is sophisticated and seamless, with the wine&rsquo;s lilting acidity pulling its flavors into a long finish. Excellent value! 91, 3.5 glasses</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>August Kesseler 2012 Pinot Noir</strong></a> 13% (Pfalz) $24</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark mulberry at the core, this wine has an orange-streaked, amber rim. It is juicy and succulent, tasting of mulberries and super-ripe black cherries. Its tannins are so creamy and soft that they basically require the mouthwatering acidity to do the structural balancing. Yet, the wine is so perfectly medium-bodied that there is little heavylifting to do, especially at only 13% alcohol. This wine&rsquo;s finish lingers on, showing that there are multiple layers yet to unfold on the palate. However, the wine is much too tempting today for most Pinot lovers to deny themselves the pleasure of sipping ASAP. Luckily, at this bargain price, one certainly can buy a few extra bottles for another day. Drink: 2015-18.</div><br /> <div><br /> 93, 4 glasses</div><br /> </p> Fri, 23 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6694 The 2015 Vintage Prediction Round-Up Snooth Editorial <p><div><br /> When you&rsquo;re lost in the joyous act of consuming sumptuous meals paired with delicious wines, it&rsquo;s easy to forget that Mother Nature dictates so much of what ends up on our tables. Her ebbs and flows will influence crop quality and price across the board. You&rsquo;ve heard it all before: Bananas and avocados are going extinct. There&rsquo;s a pumpkin shortage. Frost damage will impact the price and quality of blackberries. The list goes on. Here, we are most concerned with the future of wine produced from grapes grown in 2015. Click through the slides to read assessments and predictions about the 2015 vintage in regions around the world, courtesy of the web&rsquo;s finest wine writers.</div><br /> <br /> </p> Tue, 20 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6691 Is Wine Sexy in America? Michelle Williams <p><div><br /> The long-standing axiom of American advertising is sex sells products. This is certainly true in the American beer and spirits industry. Some beer companies have used beautiful horses and cute dogs to promote their brand, but they use sex to sell their products. Consider the images in your mind if I ask you to think of American beer advertisements: young and beautiful woman, scantily clad, holding a beer in a position that maximizes exposure of her cleavage. When women appear in spirits advertisements, they appear in much the same light; when they do not, the bottle is often cleverly enhanced to appear sexy. One might be tempted to think that the American wine industry uses the same technique. On closer inspection; however, the American wine industry has taken a different approach.</div><br /> <br /> </p> Thu, 15 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6689 Pasta and Wine, Part One <p><div><br /> October is National Pasta Month. And of all the Italian culinary products, pasta best exemplifies Italy&rsquo;s dynamic personality. Sauces vary as do the hundreds of shapes and sizes. All are rich in history and tradition. Pasta dishes are local and seasonal, usually easy to prepare, lively and fun. The height of pasta&rsquo;s elegant artistry is manifested in its simplicity. Read on for personal recipes and pasta cooking tips to employ during National Pasta Month, and well beyond!</div><br /> <br /> Pasta in Italy is always a &ldquo;primo;&rdquo; that is, a first course: not an entr&eacute;e or a main course. Portions are generally smaller then we are accustomed to here in America, and pasta never swims in sauce. The sauce coats the pasta, which is most often finished in the sauce&rsquo;s saut&egrave; pan. It is always satisfying and you still have room for a meat or fish based &ldquo;secondo,&rdquo; or a second plate of pasta. Variations in textures, sizes and shapes offer diversity. Pasta is at its best when served firm, or &ldquo;al dente.&rdquo; There is dried pasta (pasta asciutta), pasta with eggs (pasta all&rsquo;uovo), stuffed pasta (eg. Ravioli, agnolotti, tortellini). Pasta is now made with grains other than flour and semolina. The possibilities are endless.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Wine or wines are always served with the pasta course. It is fun to experiment with different wines. If you are cooking with wine, use the wine, which you intend to drink with the pasta. This will enhance your dining experience. We tend to lean toward wines that are locally, geographically associated with the pasta dish: but the best rule is there are no written rules, just have fun!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Vic&rsquo;s Duo of Pasta Dishes in Umbria</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> I love my wife, children and paddle board. After that pasta is dearest to my heart and soul. Recently Guido and Angela Guardigli hosted us for lunch and served two unbelievable pasta dishes. They were simple and created with local, seasonal ingredients from in and around the Perticaia Estate in Montefalco, Umbria. The dishes reflected the place, the hosts, the guests, the ingredients and the wines of choice. The pasta dishes were Tassatelli and Bucatini Sugo Finto.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tassatelli is made from semolina bread, eggs, and a touch of nutmeg, manually passed through a coarse ricer. Once the pasta is prepared, it is finished with Umbrian extra virgin olive oil and local shaved pecorino cheese. The Italians call Umbrian olive oil &ldquo;liquid gold.&rdquo; Needless to say I had at least two plates, (my memory is often clouded while eating pasta). For the second dish Angela used bucatini, a long tubular pasta with a hole running through the center. Bucatini may be called perciatelli in other regions of Italy. The sauce consisted of tomatoes, carrots, onions, celery and Sagrantino di Montefalco wine, sort of a vegetable Bolognese. It may have been better than the tassatelli. If I had one more dish, I would have come to a more definitive conclusion.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> With the Tassatelli we recommend Rosso di Montefalco DOC. It is a dry, fragrant, red wine based on the Sangiovese grape with a touch of Sagrantino. It is what the locals drink in this part of Umbria. Try a Rosso from: Arnaldo Caprai, Perticaia, Colpetrone, Scacciadiavoli or anyother premium producer. If you can&rsquo;t find it, try a good Chianti in its place. If white wine suits your fancy, try local Trebbiano di Spoleto, which may be hard to find. Do not be afraid to substitute any fresh Trebbiano normale which is easier to find. Enjoy Trebbiano young.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> Orecchiette pasta is shaped like a small ear. It is the traditional pasta cut of Puglia, the heel of the boot of the Italian peninsula. It has become intensely popular throughout all of Italy &ndash; and the rest of the civilized world!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Many brands can be found in supermarkets and gourmet stores throughout the United States. Look for brands like Granoro, Divella, or Riscossa, which are produced in or around the town of Corato, the epicenter in Puglia for pasta, olive oil and Nero di Troia red wines.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A pasta variation found only in Puglia, is Pasta di Grano Arso, made from toasted or burnt grains. The tradition was explained to us by Roberto Perone-Capano, owner of the Santa Lucia Winery and Estate in Corato. &ldquo;After the harvest, the wheat stacks are burned. The contadini (farmers) would pick up any charred wheat berries, one by one, and bring them home to make bread and pasta. This would help them fight off poverty and desperation. This pasta has been recreated today and celebrated as a gourmet treat. It is gray in color, and tastes a little bitter, deliciously, bitter.&rdquo; It may be hard to find but for pasta lovers it is worth the search.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Orecchiette are usually served in Puglia with turnip tops. These slightly bitter greens are called cime di rape. They are close in taste, fragrance and texture to our own broccoli rabe. Recipes may vary, but good olive oil, grated pecorino cheese are standard. Pugliesi chefs may add pignoli, anchovies, and/or raisins.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Recipe 1: Orecchiette Rapini:</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> 1 pound orecchiette pasta</div><br /> <div><br /> 2 pounds fresh ground Italian sausage</div><br /> <div><br /> 3 heads of Andy Boy broccoli rabe</div><br /> <div><br /> 6 cloves of peeled garlic</div><br /> <div><br /> 4 ounces olive oil</div><br /> <div><br /> 1 teaspoon of chili flakes</div><br /> <div><br /> Salt and freshly ground black pepper</div><br /> <div><br /> 2 ounces freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Cooking the Orecchiette properly and retaining some of the pasta water is the key to making a great dish of pasta.</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Follow the instructions on the package for cooking orecchiette. I like to cook the pasta 30-45 seconds less than instructed to insure the pasta is al dente.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Once the orecchiette are cooked, drain the pasta and save two cups of pasta water if needed.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> We recommend hearty reds from Puglia&rsquo;s bounty. Look for Santa Lucia&rsquo;s Melograno, a dry red wine from local Uva or Nero Di Troia vines. These red grapes are among the last harvested in Italy. They are pleasantly tannic and age very well. Rivera also makes a very good one. Also from Puglia try Tormaresca Neprica. It is a tasty red based on indigenous Negroamaro and Primitivo grapes with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon. We are bullish on both the Negroamaro and the Primitivo of Conti Zecca from Leverano, close to Lecce, the Florence of Puglia. All of these wines are well made and offer superb value.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Recipe 2: Vic&rsquo;s Personal Pesto Recipe</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> One key to perfect pesto is chopping all the ingredients by hand, preferably with a sharp knife. This pesto will keep a bit in the refrigerator, but it really hits its peak when served soon after it is made.&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The technique here is: chop a bit, add some ingredients, chop some more. The reason I do it this way (instead of chopping everything all at once) is because some things get chopped into oblivion, while some are not chopped as small. This technique allows for a spectrum of cut sizes throughout the pesto, contributing to the overall texture.&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> You&#39;ll notice this recipe doesn&#39;t have any added salt (just the saltiness from the cheese). Make sure your pasta water is well salted if you are going to use this pesto on pasta or the overall flavor profile will fall flat. Also, be sure to adjust for seasoning before serving. With food this simple, you need to get the seasoning correct.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 1 large bunch of basil, leaves only, washed and dried</div><br /> <div><br /> 3 medium cloves of garlic</div><br /> <div><br /> 4 ounces of raw pignoli nuts</div><br /> <div><br /> 6 ounces of fresh grated Reggiano Parmigiano,&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 4 ounces of extra-virgin olive oil</div><br /> <div><br /> 1 pound of your favorite pasta<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Start chopping the garlic along with about 1/3 of the basil leaves. Once this is loosely chopped, add more basil, chop some more, add the rest of the basil, chop some more. I scrape and chop, gather and chop. At this point the basil and garlic should be a very fine mince. Add about half the pine nuts, chop. Add the rest of the pine nuts, chop. Add half of the Parmigiano, chop. Add the rest of the Parmigiano, and chop.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Various pestos are produced throughout Italy. In Trapani, Sicily for example, you can find an exquisite sauce made from pounded almonds, other nuts, herbs and olive oil. But pesto with a capital &ldquo;P&rdquo; usually refers to Pesto Genovese; that is, basil sauce from Liguria. The sweet basil, king of all herbs, came to the Mediterranean from ancient Persia. The basil from Liguria is regarded by many as the sweetest and most aromatic on the planet. It is at its best when pounded with a mortar and pestle to release its precious oils and juices, but today blenders and food processors have taken the place of mortal and pestle. Recipes vary, but olive oil added drop by drop, pignoli, grated cheeses, either parmigiano or pecorino, garlic, and sea salt maybe added depending on local traditions.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Trofie, Trenette or Piccage are the local pasta cuts of choice. We risk being sacrilegious by stating that you can substitute other pasta shapes, but you can if you want. In Genoa it is traditional to add string beans and sliced boiled potatoes to the pesto and pasta. It is a good idea to reserve a little pasta water to smooth out the pesto sauce prior to serving, if necessary. Pesto is also used as a flavoring ingredient in minestrone and other soups.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <br /><br /> It may be difficult to track down a good Vermentino or local red DOC Rossese Di Dolceaqua. Wine production in Liguria is small and most of the wine is consumed locally. We recommend a fragrant, clean, dry, complex Arneis from an excellent Piemontese producer such as Vietti or Damilano as a perfect substitute.</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Cacio e Pepe</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> Grated cheese and ground black pepper: it sounds simple. It is easy to make but difficult to master. We have enjoyed this pasta dish in Rome and Frascati and throughout central and southern Italy many times. Cacio e Pepe is centuries old. It predates the introduction of the tomato from the New World during the era of Christopher Columbus.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Recipe 3: Cacio e Pepe</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> 1 pound of spaghetti</div><br /> <div><br /> 4 tablespoons of freshly ground coarse black pepper</div><br /> <div><br /> &frac12; pound of freshly ground Pecorino Romano cheese</div><br /> <div><br /> 6 ounces of extra virgin olive oil</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Follow the instructions on the package for cooking spaghetti. I like to cook the spaghetti 30-45 seconds less then instructed to insure the spaghetti is al dente.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Cooking the spaghetti properly and retaining some of the pasta water is the key to making great Cacio e Pepe.</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Once spaghetti is cooked, drain the spaghetti partially and save two cups of pasta water if needed. In a 16 inch saut&eacute; at medium heat add olive oil and toss in partially drained spaghetti. Now add grated Pecorino Romano cheese and coarse ground black pepper. Toss until spaghetti is covered with sauce. With a pair of tongs, portion the pasta into a deeper round bowl. Finish each bowl of Cacio e Pepe with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil &nbsp;and shaved Pecorino Romano cheese and serve immediately.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Romans prefer a chilled white, such as Frascati with this dish. We prefer the dry, satisfying Pallavacini Frascati Superiore. It is mouth cleansing, and refreshing and balances perfectly with this pasta dish. Try Falesco Est! Est!! Est!!! or Casale Del Giglio&rsquo;s Satrico, a blend of Trebbiano and Chardonnay. If you lean toward a red, search out a fresh aromatic, dry, young Cesanese from Piglio, Affile or Olevano Romano. If you want to be bold, go Chianti. Try San Felice&rsquo;s Chianti Classico.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Pasta alla Norma</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> Think Sicilian. Catania. Vincenzo Bellini and his opera, Norma. Eggplant and Tomatoes! Pasta alla Norma is so wonderful that the Sicilians named it after the greatest opera ever written by their beloved composer, Vincenzo Bellini. Bellini lived from 1801-1835 and wrote Bel Canto operas for San Carlo in Naples, La Scala in Milano and for the Paris Opera. Like Chopin he died young but served as an inspiration to later composers. Bellini also inspired Pasta alla Norma.</div><br /> <div><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Recipe 4: Penne Norma:</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> 1 pound penne pasta</div><br /> <div><br /> 2 medium eggplants cut into &frac34; inch squares</div><br /> <div><br /> 1 medium white onion diced</div><br /> <div><br /> 12 ounces Pomodoro sauce (see below)</div><br /> <div><br /> 4 medium cloves peeled garlic chopped fine</div><br /> <div><br /> 10 leaves of fresh basil julienned</div><br /> <div><br /> 4 ounces extra virgin olive oil</div><br /> <div><br /> Salt and freshly ground pepper<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In a 14-inch saut&eacute; pan add the olive oil and eggplant at medium heat. Cook the eggplant until it is golden brown. The eggplant must be soft, pick up a piece if should mush fairly easily in your fingers. As soon as eggplant is golden brown and cooked, add the chopped onion and garlic and cook for 4-5 minutes until onion and garlic starts to caramelize. This is where Norma sauce gets its flavor. Stir frequently so that the mixture is browning not burning. Now add the pomodoro sauce and stir into mixture. Cook for 4-5 minutes.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Add basil, salt and freshly ground black pepper, and chili flakes to taste.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Ten minutes before sauce is finished, drop the penne into the boiling pasta water. Follow pasta cooking instructions on the label I look to cook the pasta for 30-45 seconds less then instructed time to insure pasta is al dente.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Drain the penne and add the penne into the Norma sauce. Toss the sauce and penne a few times to be sure penne and sauce are integrated. Spoon into bowls, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil, a piece of fresh basil and a grated hard Italian cheese.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Continuing to think Sicilian, we recommend the white Rapital&agrave; Grillo with its soft and supple style. As for reds, we like the Nero D&rsquo;Avola, Sedara from Donnafugata. It has a deep color and is rich in flavor and style. It pairs perfectly with the eggplant and fresh tomato in Norma.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Amatriciana takes its name from the town of Amatrice in the region of Lazio. It is linked culturally and historically to Rome, where dozens of ristoranti and trattorie claim to have originated it. It dates back to the 16th century, when the tomato was first introduced to Italy. Before that there was a white version of the sauce, which was called Grigia. This blond variation is still made throughout the Eternal City. It is great fun to taste both Grigia and Amatriciana side by side. Ask for a half portion, an assaggino, a small taste, because these are hearty, substantial sauces. The pasta shape of choice is bucatini, aka perciatelli, but you can substitute spaghetti. If you are serving a large group, you may prefer to use a short pasta, which is easier to work with. We recommend rigatoni. The classic recipe calls for guanciale, but pancetta is wonderful as well. If you have difficulty finding either, you can use good old bacon. You will not disappoint. Be sure to use the best, highest quality ingredients.</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Recipe 5: Amatriciana Recipe</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> 1 pound of Bucatini or Perciatelli</div><br /> <div><br /> 1 pound of Pancetta cut into even small pieces</div><br /> <div><br /> 1 pound of fine chopped white onion</div><br /> <div><br /> 2 tablespoons of tomato paste</div><br /> <div><br /> 16 ounces of canned Italian DOP tomato cored and chopped</div><br /> <div><br /> 3 ounces olive oil</div><br /> <div><br /> &frac14; pound of freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese</div><br /> <div><br /> 1 cup white wine</div><br /> <div><br /> Chili flakes</div><br /> <div><br /> Salt and freshly ground black pepper</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In a 14 inch saut&eacute; pan add the olive oil and pancetta and heat at medium heat. Cook the pancetta until it starts to brown. As soon as browning begins, add the chopped onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until onion starts to caramelize. This is where Amatriciana sauce gets its flavor. Stir frequently so that the mixture is browning not burning. Now add the tomato paste and stir into mixture. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the white wine and deglaze the pan. This is a process in cooking where you use the liquid (the wine), to help loosen all the caramelized goodness from the bottom of the pan, so that it becomes part of the sauce and is not left behind.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Add the DOP tomatoes to the mixture; stir tomatoes to integrate them with onion and pancetta. Continue to cook until tomato, pancetta and onion mixture starts to boil. The sauce must reduce a little bit. So reduce the heat to medium/low and continue to cook for about 45-60 minutes after first boil, stirring frequently so that the sauce does not burn. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, and chili flakes to taste.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Ten minutes before sauce is finished, drop the Perciatelli into the boiling pasta water. Follow pasta cooking instructions on the label I look to cook the pasta for 30-45 seconds less then instructed time to insure pasta is al dente.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Drain the pasta and add perciatelli or bucatini to the saut&eacute; pan. Remember always to drip a little of the pasta water into the pan. Toss the pasta and the sauce several times, until the pasta is covered with the sauce. With a pair of tongs put a swirl of pasta into each serving bowl. Then with a spoon put a hearty spoonful of the remaining sauce on top of each swirl of pasta. Finish each dish with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese or try Ricotta Salata cheese. Serve immediately.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> If you prefer a white wine when eating Amatriciana, we recommend Frascati Superiore or an Orvieto Classico Secco. We love a rich, soft, harmonious, red Montepulciano D&rsquo;Abruzzo to complement this pastas bold flavors.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Recipe 6: Basic Pomodoro Sauce:</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> 1 large can of San Marzano DOP tomatoes (2.2kg)</div><br /> <div><br /> 2 large yellow onions</div><br /> <div><br /> 6 ounces extra virgin olive oil</div><br /> <div><br /> 10 leaves of fresh basil&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Salt and freshly ground black pepper</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I use this sauce as my base for all tomato sauce based recipes. Pour the entire can of tomatoes into a large bowl. Core each tomato discarding the core. Then break each tomato into small pieces with your hand. Next peel and chop both onions into fine pieces. A food processor can chop them to fine or use a knife to chop the onions into consistent small pieces.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Place a 14 inch saut&eacute; pan over medium heat on the stove. Add 3 ounces of olive oil and the onions. Saut&eacute; the onions until they start to caramelize, turning golden brown. When all of the onion is caramelized, add the San Marzano tomatoes in the bowl to the onions. Let this cook over medium heat until tomato onion mixtures simmers for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently so pan does not burn.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Reduce heat to low and add basil leaves. Break them into pieces by hand. Stir the basil into the mixture and cook for 3-5 more minutes. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. This will make approximately four quarts of Pomodoro sauce. It will last in the refrigerator for 4-5 days or freeze it and defrost as needed.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>***The art of cooking pasta (all shapes):</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> Put a 8 quarts of water into a large pot (pot should be a little over &frac12; filled with water- make sure the pot is large enough) on high heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt to the water. When the water boils, add the pasta to the water. Stir the pasta often so it does not stick. Follow the time guidelines on the package for cooking. I like to subtract 30 seconds or so from the recommended cooking time so the pasta is cooked al dente.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Recipe 7: Homemade egg pasta dough:</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> 3 cups of Caputo Pasta flour</div><br /> <div><br /> 1 cup Caputo semolina</div><br /> <div><br /> 5 extra large eggs</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mix the Pasta flour and the semolina flour together. Mound approximately 3 &frac12; cups of the mixed flour on a marble or wood counter. Leave &frac12; cup of the flour mix on the side. This will be used to adjust the final consistency of the dough. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs into the well. Gradually starting from the center slowly incorporate the flour and eggs together. The dough will start to form when about half the flour is incorporated. Keep working the dough until all of the flour is incorporated.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Start kneading the dough with both hands. Once the dough is formed into a mass, remove it from the counter. Clean the counter with a scraper, removing excess dough pieces and bits. After cleaning, lightly flour the counter with some of the remaining flour and knead the dough for 5-7 more minutes. This step is very important and cannot be skipped. If the dough is too soft and sticky you can slowly work in some of the remaining flour. The final consistency of the dough should be soft and slightly sticky.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Put the dough in a floured bowl and wrap it in plastic wrap, let the dough sit at room temperature for one hour. Now your dough is ready. This dough can now be used in any manual pasta maker to cut the dough into your favorite or desired pasta shape.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>When we run out of wines, pasta cuts, and recipes from Italy, our journey will be complete. Remember: &nbsp;do not be timid about adding a complementary ingredient or flavor to a traditional recipe. The rules on pairing wine with food have been officially thrown out. So experiment and, most of all smile, and have fun, because that is truly Italian.</em></div><br /> </p> Tue, 13 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6685 Pinotage Wines Take Center Stage Claudia Angelillo <p><div><br /> Pinotage is a Brady Bunch grape. It was created by enmeshing two previously unrelated grapes to create a brand new entity which possesses its own compelling characteristics. In viticultural language this is called a crossing. If you really want to get technical, a crossing results when two grapes, both grown from vitis vinifera parent seed, are melded into a single being. (This differs from a hybrid. A hybrid combines two separate species, one of which may or may not be vitis vinifera.) When Pinot Noir meets Cinsault, together they create Pinotage. In honor of International Pinotage Day on October 10th, we take a look back at the history and peek into the future of Pinotage.</div><br /> <br /> Sometime in 1925, Stellenbosch University professor Abraham Izak Perold sought to create a wine grape that would be disease resistant, friendly with South African soil, easy to grow, and taste just like a Burgundian Pinot Noir. He targeted the amiable Cinsault as a crossing partner for Pinot Noir. The former grape would lend its easy growing, supportive spirit to the growth cycle; the latter would provide highly desirous, classically perfumed bright red fruit qualities. On their own, the tight clusters of thin skinned Pinot Noir can be prone to rot and difficult to ripen. A few different names were considered for the newfangled grape, all combinations of the words &ldquo;Pinot Noir&rdquo; and &ldquo;Hermitage&rdquo;. Cinsault was once known as Hermitage in South Africa, hence the name Pinotage (rather than Herminoir) was born. These days, South African&rsquo;s refer to Cinsault as Cinsaut. (Note the missing &lsquo;L&rsquo;.)<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> That said, Pinotage was developed in South Africa as the country&rsquo;s patron grape. The first varietal Pinotage wine was released during the 1959 vintage at Bellevue Estate in South Africa. While the vast majority of Pinotage is from South Africa, the United States&rsquo; boutique wine market has begun to embrace the grape. Keep your palates peeled: all signs point to trend. You will find small lots of Pinotage in Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, Maryland, and Texas -- but the highest concentration of Pinotage is in California. According to the USDA 2014 Grape Crush report, 2013 California Pinotage saw a 16% year-over-year increase and set an all-time record of 115.1 tons. That&rsquo;s a 400% increase in California Pinotage since it first appeared on the report in 1997. Pinotage is being grown in eight out of the seventeen California Wine Districts; forty-four percent is grown in California&rsquo;s mid-central coast, the San Joaquin Valley.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Both South Africa and the United States are churning out a range of Pinotage styles. It&rsquo;s not uncommon for South African Pinotage to appear in complex blends with a variety of other grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Shiraz and more. These are referred to as Cape Blends. They tend contain at least 30% but no more than 70% Pinotage, but there are exceptions. In terms of varietal bottlings, younger vines create Beaujolais-style wines jam-packed with fun and frizzy berry fruits. Old bush vines (most of which date back to the 1960s and 1970s) create full-bodied masterpieces with curiously smoky flavors. Some noses uncover coffee, sausage, rubber and banana in their glasses. Suffice it to say, Pinotage can be a pungent wine that make you think. It is a true demonstration of varietal character in combination with place.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> From the light and fruity to deep and hazy, Pinotage has a lot to offer palates of all stripes. While the United States can provide a number of boutique offerings, South Africa often provides value. And much of that value is age-worthy. The following selection offers a range of choices that will fully acquaint the Pinotage novice, or reengage the Pinotage pro. What are your Pinotage picks? Tell us in the comments. Happy International Pinotage Day!<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Fairview Pinotage Paarl 2013</strong></a>, $10.79</div><br /> <div><br /> The Paarl district is north of Stellenbosch. (District is a South African term for a wine-growing area that shares environmental features, similar to an American Viticultural Area.) Temperatures tend to be hotter in Paarl, as the district is further inland. The area has been producing quality Pinotage for decades, and Fairview is a classic example. Fairview was established in 1693 and passed to the current family owners in 1937. This old-vine style Pinotage is rife with value and flavor.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Warwick Estate Pinotage Old Bush Vines 2012</strong></a>, $14.27</div><br /> <div><br /> Warwick Estate is yet another old guard in South African wine. It is located in Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, a ward within the Stellenbosch district. Wards cover areas within districts where smaller pockets of soil and geography work to create especially distinct wines. The decomposed granite, red clay, and shale around and within the Simonsberg mountain range account for the wine&rsquo;s unique character.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Spice Route Pinotage Swartland 2013</strong></a>, $19.99</div><br /> <div><br /> The Pinotage vines in Swartland are relatively young; they were planted in 1997. That&rsquo;s because the relatively large Swartland wine district, just north of Cape Town, is experiencing a quality wine revolution led by young and determined winemakers and vineyard owners. The district began to carve out its name in the late 1990s. Spice Route led this charge and is thus one of Swartland&rsquo;s flagship wineries. Previously, Swartland was a little-known producer of food crops. Secure the value while you can: The 2013 received 89 points from Wine Spectator.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>J Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinotage 2013</strong></a>, $35.99</div><br /> <div><br /> Premier Russian River Valley producer J Vineyards holds 2.8 acres of Pinotage on the south side of their winery. Proprietor Judy Jordan discovered it growing there when she purchased the property in 1986. The winery is renowned for its sparkling wine, but clearly demonstrates their range of talent with the 2013 (technically old vine) Pinotage.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Loma Prieta Amorosa Pinotage 2010</strong></a>, $45.00</div><br /> <div><br /> Loma Prieta is the self-proclaimed largest Pinotage producer in the United States. Winery owner Paul Kemp became besotted with Pinotage after discovering it in a Lodi vineyard. He has since torn out his estate Merlot and Cabernet to plant Pinotage and grafted over all of his estate Pinot Noir. As demand for his award-winning Pinotage has grown over the last few years, he&rsquo;s been grafting over more vines to Pinotage. A panoply of praise has been heaped upon this wine, including Platinum status at the 2012 Monterey Wine Competition, Gold at the 2012 San Francisco Wine Competition, and many more.</div><br /> </p> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6680 Decanters to Add to Your Collection Snooth Editorial <p>Decanters are too often a second thought when it comes to the wine collector&rsquo;s <a href=""><strong>arsenal</strong></a>. But they are one of the most important tools to have, and not just because they help aerate the wine, letting it breathe, improving the flavor, and settle, separating out the sediment. When it comes to design, <a href=""><strong>decanters</strong></a> have gotten a serious update from the typical glass carafe, and now come in all sorts of attractive and useful shapes and styles. Whether you choose a beautiful vessel that can double as a centerpiece, a fun novelty design that fits with your personal style, or a portable container that conveniently lets you bring along the vino, these decanters all knock the traditional glass vase out of the park.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>For the Wine You Love the Most</strong><br /><br /> Looking for a pretty, romantic design? With Etienne Meneau&rsquo;s beautiful glass blown, <a href=""><strong>heart-shaped decanter</strong></a>, you can literally wear your heart on your decanter. The vessel only holds about a &frac14; bottle of wine, perfect for when you just want a glass or two, and its small stature makes it easier to handle then some of the giant styles on the market. Although it&rsquo;s a bit pricey at &euro;1,500, this limited edition item is a truly unique piece to add to your collection. For a more classic take on the sweet shape, <a href=""><strong>Riedel&rsquo;s Black Tie Bliss Wine Decanter</strong></a> offers a heart-cut out (which also acts as a handle for pouring) in the classic elongated shape.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Wine on the Go</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> If you are looking for a more stylish option than boxed wine when you&rsquo;re pouring away from the comforts of home, check out the <a href=""><strong>Menu Baggy Winecoat</strong></a>. Perfect for tailgating, picnics, and outdoor parties, this heavy duty, nylon bag conveniently holds the 3-liter bags found inside typical boxed wines (just remove it from the box first). The rubber bottom makes it ideal for outdoor activities, and there&rsquo;s room for a cold pack to keep chilled wine at just the right temp.</div><br /> <br /> <strong>Animaling Around</strong><br /> <div><br /> For a unique option to add to your collection, think about <a href=""><strong>Riedel&rsquo;s Horse Decanter</strong></a>. Named for the Chinese zodiac&rsquo;s &ldquo;Year of the Horse,&rdquo; this 2014 debut includes a beautiful equine profile inset into the vessel&rsquo;s long side. With a height of nearly 24 inches, this stunning shape offers both a dramatic presentation and large capacity of 82 ounces. Another animal inspired decanter, the classic, wide shape of the <a href="!slide=4"><strong>Duck Decanter</strong></a> allows a large area of the wine to be exposed to air and includes a handle for easy pouring.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Serious Style</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> Looking at add a little pizzazz to your presentation? The Swedish-designed <a href=""><strong>Rainman</strong></a> is a classic vase whose eight small holes hidden on one side allow the wine to pour out in a rain-like stream. And London artist Sebastian Bergne adds his own unique touch to wine style with his <a href=";controller=product&amp;id_lang=1"><strong>egg-shaped decanter</strong></a>. Thanks to an innovative design, once filled, the vessel sits at a 45-degree angle on a cork, a presentation that is sure to impress.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Ultimate in Function</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> If you want impressive function and style, Williams Sonoma&rsquo;s <a href=""><strong>Twister Aerator</strong></a> combines a stunning spiral centered shape that incorporates the maximum amount of air into the wine with a patented, hand-blown design. And Metrokane&rsquo;s <a href=""><strong>Rabbit Super- Aerating Decanter</strong></a> pairs innovative technology&mdash; a spray funnel that pushes the wine down the sides to increase aeration&mdash; with a beautiful design to provide the ultimate tool for decanting.&nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Wed, 07 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6679 Why #GarnachaDay Fever Is Here To Stay Claudia Angelillo <p><div><br /> What do people have in common with wine grapes? Both possess strong, unique personalities and characteristics; Garnacha is no exception. It is perhaps the world&rsquo;s most malleable grape, demonstrating versatility and poise no matter where it is found. (Think Cannanou in Sardinia and Grenache in France; both are guises of Garnacha.) But there is one thing that&rsquo;s certain whether you&rsquo;re a person or wine grape: There&rsquo;s no place like home. Garnacha, well-traveled as it may be, is at home in Eastern Spain. This is its birthplace, and there&rsquo;s nothing quite like a home game advantage. Garnacha from Spain is the grape at its absolute best. What&rsquo;s more, the ever-malleable Garnacha has a curious knack for expressing terroir better than anyone else around. Combine this inherent talent with the grape&rsquo;s ancestral lands, and you&rsquo;ve got some magic stirring in your glass. Snooth celebrated Garnacha with a smashing virtual tasting on Garnacha Day (September 18th), featuring Master Sommelier Laura Maniec and Spanish Sommelier of the Year Guillermo Cruz. Did you miss the party? Don&rsquo;t fret. Click through the slides to watch highlights. If you&#39;d prefer to watch the entire tasting and read the chat log, <a href="">click here</a>.</div><br /> <br /> </p> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6677 Going South of the Border for an Elevated Wine Experience Snooth Editorial <p>The caricatures of Mexico leave one feeling as though the Central American country is still stuck in the Wild West days of the 18th and 19th century: drug wars and kidnappings have ruled the headlines for the past half-decade.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Yet the country&rsquo;s humble yet thriving wineries have been creeping up the oenophilic ladder of North American wines lately, thanks to some reporting by the San Diego Union-Tribune. And I supposed we should be grateful to them, because without publicity, the wines of Baja California could languish unnoticed for years.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This past week, U-T reporter Michele Parente featured a Baja wine in her column this past week, leading her story with this bold pronouncement: &ldquo;The wines from Baja&rsquo;s Valle de Guadalupe are the most exciting discovery I&rsquo;ve made in the past few years. They&rsquo;re also the most frustrating.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Now that&rsquo;s a whopping claim, particularly in light of all the indie movements rising up the California ranks, as well as the emergence of a whole host of Eastern European wines. But Parente stuck by her guns with both enthusiasm and honesty, acknowledging the creativity of the wines as well as their shortcomings.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Her column focused on one particular wine: La Lomita&rsquo;s Pagano 2012 Grenache from the Valle de Guadalupe. The red wine, she said, has a medium to full body and has &ldquo;lively fruit&rdquo; along with a &ldquo;nice balance.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> Parente said she&rsquo;s quaffed the stuff at least 10 times in the tasting rooms and &ldquo;with a full Mexican meal.&rdquo;&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Part of the reasons the Mexican wines aren&rsquo;t really striking a chord with American drinkers is their price. The Pagano 2012 is, for example, $28 per bottle. Mexican taxes are to blame for the prices: they impose a 42% levy on their wines. This is quite a shame if the wines really are as good as Parente makes them out to be.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mexican wines, while a bit scarce with local retailers in San Diego, have made appearances at big-box stores like Costco as well as chain supermarkets like Whole Foods thanks to Monte Xanic, another winemaker from Baja.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The good news here is that the ever-evolving world of wine is evolving once more. Valle de Guadalupe is located just 90 minutes south of the border. If wine types don&rsquo;t want to make the trip into Baja, they can try Mexican wines at Bracero in San Diego&rsquo;s Little Italy district.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Pixabay</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6676 Papal Pour: Finger Lakes Wine Procures Prestigious Placement for Pope’s NY Visit Snooth Editorial <p>We knew that New York&rsquo;s Finger Lakes wines were good, but fit for the Pope? Apparently so.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> New York&rsquo;s famed wine region has taken its notoriety to another level this past week when it was announced that wines from the verdant region were the tipple of choice for Pope Francis&rsquo; visit to New York City this past weekend.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> O-Neh-Da Vineyard is the lucky winner of this honor, and, according to, was scheduled to be served at a communion ceremony during the Pope&rsquo;s visit to New York City.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Exactly how the wine was selected for the visit was a story in itself.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to the church&rsquo;s canonical law, the wine used in a papal communion ceremony must be pure grape with no traces of any &ldquo;admixture of extraneous substances,&rdquo; water or sugar.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Will Ouweleen, winemaker at O-Neh-Da, saw the marketing (and honorable) potential of the pope&rsquo;s visit and attempted to take his winery to holy heights by contacting the office of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. Ouweleen&rsquo;s offer was accepted.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> He delivered the sacramental wine in person, <em>My Twin Tiers</em> reported. Though the holy wine didn&rsquo;t contain any sugar, Ouweleen sweetened the deal by bringing a bevy of gift wines including Finger Lakes Riesling, Cab Franc and Chardonnay. &nbsp;The gift wines were intended to be served at a dignitaries&rsquo; dinner.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Ouweleen was quoted as saying that the selection of his wines for the sacerdotal sacrament was a &ldquo;great honor.&rdquo;</div><br /> <br /> The winemaker had no qualms about leveraging the Communion, and perhaps rightly so. The touch one&rsquo;s wine to the lips of the world&rsquo;s most recognizable religious figure is more than religious gold &ndash; it&rsquo;s a chance to have your wine become an international celebrity.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> As such, the home page of Oh-Neh-Da&rsquo;s mobile site features a simple graphic. A black square surrounds a golden chalice which, it is assumed, is a replica of the cup which the Pope used to quaff his Communion wine.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The graphic includes three statements. First, &ldquo;Authentic Sacramental Wine&rdquo;. Second, &ldquo;100% Pure Grape, New York State.&rdquo; Third, &ldquo;Vineyard Est. 1872, Liturgically Approved.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A report by <em>WXXI News</em> pointed out that Oh-Neh-Da was fitting not just because it creates natural wines which meet canonical standards, but also because the winery was founded by a bishop long ago after the end of the Civil War.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;And, to this day, through the grace of God alone,&rdquo; Ouweleen was quoted as saying, &ldquo;we continue to operate as a dedicated sacramental winery.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Pixabay</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Thu, 01 Oct 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6675 What to drink during the Rugby World Cup? The Guardian’s got the answer. Snooth Editorial <p>Let&rsquo;s just admit that, most likely, the closest thing that most American sports fans ever get to the Rugby World Cup is watching videos of Australian rugby player-turned NFLer Jarryd Hayne slicing and dicing his way through preseason defenses.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> However, for the few of you who do love the sport and for the millions around the world who are watching this year&rsquo;s Cup, U.K.-based newspaper <em>The Guardian</em> has come out with its list of wines that wine lovers and rugby fans should try while they watch the matches.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;Being a football fan, I have been only vaguely aware of the biggest sporting event of the year, but there&rsquo;s no escaping <a href=""><strong>the Rugby World Cup</strong></a> now &ndash; or the need for me to suggest something appropriate to drink while you&rsquo;re watching it,&rdquo; wine reporter Fiona Beckett wrote.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> For wine drinkers, the World Cup presents quite the conundrum. Many of the world&rsquo;s best wine producers also happen to be fierce rivals on the rugby pitch. So, tipping back some tipple from France, New Zealand, Australia or South Africa can be quite the interesting proposition for oenophilic rugby fans of the United Kingdom.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Therefore, Beckett took to the way of the pacifists and forewent the wine/rugby heavyweights in favor of wines from countries which did not pose a threat to England&rsquo;s rugby pride. All the wines on her list were reds, a choice which seems well-suited for a game in which the men are as fierce as the spikes on the bottom of their shoes.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> She started her list of great game-time drinkers with a pair of selections from Italy &ndash; a Nero d&rsquo;Avola and a Negroamaro.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> She described the wines much in the same way one would describe their favorite rugby player: &ldquo;gutsy&rdquo; and &ldquo;brambly&rdquo; were her choice descriptors.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Moving on to less controversial countries (the ones who aren&rsquo;t participating in the Cup), a Spanish Tempranillo popped up on the list, as did a bottle of Douro from Portugal. Also on the list of non-competing producers was a red from Spain&rsquo;s Priorat, a quaff, she said, which would go well with a very sport-appropriate blue cheeseburger.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> She then recommend a Cabernet-Carmenere from Chile, rounding out her non-confrontational approach to wine choices. At about $7.50 per bottle, the Chilean red was &ldquo;unbeatable.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;And unbeatable,&rdquo; Beckett wrote,&ldquo;is what we want to be until the end of next month.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Pixabay</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Wed, 30 Sep 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6674 Grub Street Highlights New York’s Best “Scruffy” Wine Bars Snooth Editorial <p>&ldquo;Scruffy&rdquo; is no longer an adjective reserved for dogs or bears.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to <em>Grub Street</em> contributor Adam Platt, the word also applies to a new wave of wine bars in NYC.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;All sorts of stodgy institutions have been upended during the course of the great post-millennial dining revolution,&rdquo; Platt wrote, &ldquo;and now, it seems, it&rsquo;s the wine bar&rsquo;s turn&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The typical wine bar in this movement doesn&rsquo;t have the feel of the wine bars of old &ndash; they&rsquo;re more progressive and more focused on digging up nontraditional favorites. They also, Platt pointed out, feature some pretty amazing food.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> And perhaps the biggest difference between today&rsquo;s wine bars and yesterday&rsquo;s quaff haunts is the attention given to all aspects of the wine experience: the d&eacute;cor, the music, the food and the breadth of the cellar.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;The sommeliers in these convivial new establishments aren&rsquo;t always called sommeliers &ndash; &lsquo;wine consultant&rsquo; will do,&rdquo; he wrote.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This makes sense, doesn&rsquo;t it? We live in a world where the current generation of wine drinkers have realized that the rules of the gatekeepers of yore aren&rsquo;t as iron clad as we once thought they were. Thought these sentiments may send shivers down the rigid spines of the gatekeepers, they are, undoubtedly, adding value to the wine world.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Platt highlighted the Four Horsemen, a wine bar in Williamsburg (hipster central) founded by music mogul James Murphy.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> The bar, according to Platt&rsquo;s description, is a mix between a &ldquo;Nordic health club&rdquo; and a classic-but-modern cedar bar.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Topping the sommelier/wine consultant/really smart wine guy&rsquo;s recommendations were the bar&rsquo;s orange wines. Also popular at the bar are its collection of natural wines.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Moving over to the East Village, Platt highlighted Rebelle, a restaurant with a lineup of 11 dishes and a wine list with 80 pages. What stands out at this tight little eatery is the variety they have on their wine list, with bottles ranging from the tradition-bucking garagistes to natural wine and ultra-premium offerings.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;Like it&rsquo;s other &ldquo;scruffy&rdquo; wine bar colleagues, Rebelle is a haven for foodies as well as wine fanatics. Platt likened the restaurant&rsquo;s cheese offerings to fromageries in Paris, and he also praised the locations desserts.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Last on Platt&rsquo;s list was Wildair, the wine bar for natural wine lovers &ndash; all wines on the list are natural. He also lauded the wine bar&rsquo;s cocktail offerings and &ldquo;artisanal liqueurs.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Pixabay</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6673 “Wine Soul Train” Bus Tour Sells Out Snooth Editorial <p>This past August, as you may have heard, a group of African-American women were booted from the Napa Valley Wine Train for being loud and bothering other passengers. Police officers were waiting for them when the train stopped and they were unceremoniously ushered off the train.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This past Saturday, a group of 35 wine enthusiasts boarded the Wine Soul Train, a bus tour which took the group to Napa for wine tasting. The move was a direct response to the wine train incident this past summer.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> According to CBS&rsquo; Bay Area division, the Wine Soul Train tour was a sellout. Oakland Food Policy Council Director Esperanza Pallana organized the tour.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Reflecting on the wine train episode earlier this year, she said that &ldquo;train officials didn&rsquo;t understand how another culture expresses joy.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Napa Valley Wine Train&rsquo;s CEO expressed his sincere apology about the incident.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The bus tour was, of course, intended to take wine lovers to wine country to enjoy high-quality tastings. Yet the trip was more than just a wine tasting &ndash; organizers wanted to raise awareness about Napa Valley&rsquo;s minority winemakers.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The tour was scheduled to make stops at Esterlina Vineyards &amp; Winery in Healdsburg and Maldonado Vineyards in Calistoga.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> FOX&rsquo;s Oakland station, FOX 2, also covered the days leading up to the tour. According to the news outlet, the bus in which the oenophiles traveled is called &ldquo;La Iguana&rdquo; and boasts bright green colors.&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Mexican Bus transportation company oversaw the logistics of the driving side of the tour and were a sponsor of the tour.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> According to Esterlina Vineyards&rsquo; website, the vineyard has been in business for several years and is home to award-winning Pinot Noirs. The vineyard is the only one in the 253-acre Cole Ranch American Viticultural Area, the &ldquo;smallest appellation in America.&rdquo;&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Maldonado Vineyards was started by Lupe Maldonado, a Michoacan, Mexico, native who came to California late 60&rsquo;s and quickly launched a career in wine. He rose to vineyard manager at Newton Vineyard before handing the reins over to his son in 1999.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Lupe then bought his own plot of land in Jamieson Canyon and started Maldonado Vineyards. The vineyard is a family-run project. His son Hugo is a graduate of the Viticulture and Enology program at the University of California, Davis.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Soul Train&rsquo;s website noted that the participants would meet in Oakland for breakfast, then leave at 10 a.m. for the vineyards.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tickets for the tour were $100 per seat.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Pixabay</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Mon, 28 Sep 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6672 The Current State of Merlot Rick Fillmore <p><div><br /> Alright, for all those who have been bad mouthing Merlot over the past few years, please stand up. Now all of you need to walk over to the far corner of the room and wait. Thank you. I need to tell you that your dislike of Merlot is unfounded and I am about to prove that Merlot is the number one outstanding citizen of the wine community. I mean, really, if Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of all wine varieties, Merlot is definitely the queen. With a long history as one of the main red grapes of Bordeaux, Merlot has established itself as a wine with which to be reckoned! Sure it has had many ups and downs. But haven&rsquo;t we all? It&rsquo;s hard to believe that a short clip in the movie &ldquo;Sideways&rdquo; would be the demise of a grape with such a noble background. Merlot is coming back, and this time around, we owe her our enduring respect.</div><br /> <br /> <div><br /> Actually, Merlot didn&rsquo;t take the major beating that everyone thought it did after the &ldquo;Sideways&rdquo; movie was released in 2004. After researching many magazine tracts and critic/winemaker statements that predate the film, it was found that Merlot did slow down a bit in sales and stores that would normally buy 20 cases of Merlot a week were still buying 17 to 18 cases a week. To be honest, I still drank Merlot but avoided ordering it at restaurants. Mostly because I was afraid of the server exposing me by exclaiming &ldquo;No [BLEEP] Merlot&rdquo; throughout the restaurant! So I kept my Merlot cravings to myself and sipped other wines in public.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So where did all this excess Merlot end up that everyone said they weren&rsquo;t drinking? There was still Merlot that was being harvested, aging in barrels, and patiently waiting in warehouses to be shipped to consumers. Some winemakers didn&rsquo;t want to produce a wine that was exclusively Merlot since they felt customers may reject it. So, many winemakers decided to reduce that risk and start to producing more Merlot based red blends instead, hiding Merlot under names like cuvee, reserve blend, and Meritage. Why do you think red blends have become so popular? Because there are more of them at fantastic prices. And the funny thing is that everyone really liked them! As much as we belittle soft, innocent Merlot, we accept it back in our hearts and palates and without fully knowing it.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> When you think about it, that little ribbing we took at Merlot actually helped out the wine industry in many ways. It exposed the lower end, flabby, and uninteresting Merlots that would have been better off being made into Sangria. It also put a spotlight on Pinot Noir and its delectable characteristics at the perfect time. In 2004, wineries on the west coast were releasing their 2002 vintage of Pinot Noir which was truly its banner year and it lofted Pinot Noir sales up 18 percent! Everyone knew a good Pinot Noir costed a few bucks more than most everyday Merlots and buyers got used to spending a bit more for a higher quality wine. So people were drinking better wines, both Pinot Noir and Merlot, and didn&rsquo;t mind spending more for quality. A great situation in the wine world!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The University of Adelaide has compiled and published the very first complete database of the world&rsquo;s wine grapes and regions. This database lists 500 regions, 44 countries, and 1,271 grape varieties. Based on their research, Merlot is the #1 planted grape variety in Bordeaux and also in many other countries of the world! Argentina, Chile, Italy, France, Australia, and the United States all show record numbers of Merlot plantings over the past few years. Demand and popularity for Merlot is continually growing and wineries are supporting this demand by planting more Merlot and preparing for the future.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Merlot is interesting enough to be on its own but is also the perfect blending grape for any red wine that wants to add lush fruit, richness, and smoothness. Especially in Bordeaux where Merlot is Cabernet Sauvignons BFF! You will find these two comrades are together almost every time. With its voluptuous blackberry, cherry, and plum flavors, teasing nuances, and velvety finish, Merlot has a reason to be considered one of the best. Out of all the grape varieties in the world, Merlot would be the one known to have multiple personalities. It can be a wonderful entry level red for those who are new to wine or it can be intense and complex and would impress your favorite wine snobs. Merlot is so versatile and it pairs with so many wonderful foods like lamb, game dishes, many red meats, pasta with tomato based sauces, and medium cheeses.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Here are some great Merlots worth exploring because of their wonderful balance of fruit flavors, complexity, and long smooth finish:</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Airfield Estates Runway Merlot 2012</strong></a> &ndash; Washington State. With an easy going style, this Merlot is perfect as an entry level red but everyone will love it! Flavors of ripe plum, blackberry, toasted oak, and a hint of spice. Medium to full bodied with soft tannins and a long, lingering finish. Pair with grilled chicken, ribeye, and tomato based pastas. $16 average.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Michael Pozzan &ldquo;Annabella&rdquo; Merlot 2012</strong></a> &ndash; Napa Valley, CA. This wine was aged in French oak for 18 months and the result is a rich, elegant Merlot with soft, supple tannins. Violet color in the glass with aromas of black cherry, dried cranberry, chocolate, and espresso. Silky mouthfeel with wonderful flavors of ripe cherries, black plum, coffee, and spicy vanilla on the finish. Fantastic! $18 average.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Chateau La Fleur Morange Mathilde 2011</strong></a> &ndash; Saint Emilion, Bordeaux, France. 100% Merlot coming from the region of France most renowned for Merlot wines. Medium to full bodied with aromas and flavors of blueberry, ripe plum, clove, and a subtle oak finish. Smooth and seductive. A plentiful 14.5% alcohol! $21 average.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Mollydooker &ldquo;The Scooter&rdquo; 2014</strong></a> &ndash; McLaren Vale, South Australia. A wonderful Merlot that will bring your taste buds to Heaven! But let&rsquo;s start on Cloud 9. Soft and delicate with a pleasing balance of fruit, spice, and elegance. Flavors of bright raspberry, ripe red cherry, cocoa, with spice undertones. On the second sip, hints of vanilla, blueberry, and pepper led to a lush, smooth finish. All this and a whopping 15% alcohol! $26 average.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Swanson Vineyards Oakville Merlot 2011</strong></a> &ndash; Napa Valley, CA. This big, full bodied Merlot is what the Cabernet fan would love! Intense and complex but elegant through and through. Garnet in color with aromas of black cherries and dried cranberry fruit. Rich mouth-feel with a wonderful tannin structure. Generous flavors of sweet black cherry, ripe blackberry, coffee, and a hint of cinnamon. Nuances of nutmeg and cocoa on the sumptuous, velvety finish. Pair with steak, pasta with tomato meat sauces, and strong cheeses. $35 average.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There is a plethora of wonderful Merlots out there and it is time to forgive and indulge! Plan your favorite meal, call a friend, and spoil yourself with a great Merlot soon. Everyone else is so don&rsquo;t miss out! Oops! And all of you that are still standing in the far corner, you can go sit down now. Sorry.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Rick Fillmore is a CSW, Sommelier, and writes wine and travel articles for Wine Connoisseur Magazine. Rick blogs using the name Wine Splash and his blog can be found at <a href=""><strong></strong></a>. Fifteen years in the wine business as a consultant, educator, writer, marketer, and promoting sales. Favorite red wine is Syrah and white would be a balanced, oaky Chardonnay. Cheers!</em></div><br /> </p> Fri, 25 Sep 2015 00:00:00 -0400 article6670