Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Wed, 12 Dec 2018 20:47:37 -0500 Wed, 12 Dec 2018 20:47:37 -0500 Snooth The Greatest White Wines In The World Michelle Williams <p>A commune in the Cote d&rsquo;Or, ten kilometers from Beaune, lies Puligny-Montrachet. The mere whisper of the name causes oenophiles to perk up. Why? This sleepy 400-inhabitant village is synonymous with the greatest white wines of the world.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> A storied appellation, Puligny-Montrachet was created in 1879, when Puligny received permission from the French government to hyphenate its name to its famous Grand Cru vineyard, Montrachet. Although a small percentage of Pinot Noir is produced here, it&rsquo;s hallowed for Chardonnay.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This is a place where terroir reigns supreme. Complex soils weave together like a tapestry, with limestone, especially on the slopes, playing a leading role. The climate is continental - warm, dry summers and cool winters. Fog and hail loom as constant threats in the spring. Generations of winemakers have studied the area&rsquo;s topography, developing a detailed map of the region in an effort to understand its influence on the wine.<br /> In the late 1930&rsquo;s four Grand Cru vineyards were established - Le Montrachet, B&acirc;tard-Montrachet, Chevalier Montrachet and Bienvenues-B&acirc;tard-Montrachet. Fifty years later, in 1984, the land around the village was officially demarcated and classified into seventeen Premier Cru vineyard sites. Situated between Chassagne-Montrachet (south) and Meursault (north), the wines of Puligny-Montrachet are revered for high minerality and firm structure. Case in point, at this year&rsquo;s Hospice de Beaune, a single barrel of B&acirc;tard-Montrachet sold for $152,440, establishing a new record.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Domaine Leflaive</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The most famous estate in Puligny-Montrachet is Domaine Leflaive. With ancestry in Puligny dating back to 1717, the Domaine was founded by Joseph Leflaive in 1870. In 1990, Anne-Claude Leflaive took the helm, spearheading the winery into a leader in Burgundy&rsquo;s biodynamic viticulture. After years of chemical farming, she believed the soil&rsquo;s microbials were out of balance and the health of the vineyards needed to be restored. Beginning with small experiments, by 1997, the entire Domaine was being farmed using biodynamic principles.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Upon her untimely death in 2015, Brice de la Morandiere, great-grandson of Joseph Leflaive, retired from twenty-seven years managing multi-national corporations to run the Domaine. Morandiere shares, &ldquo;I returned because it&rsquo;s important the Domaine is run by family to keep it steered toward excellence.&rdquo; Since becoming managing partner, Morandiere is expanding the winery&rsquo;s presence in M&acirc;connais, explaining he is &ldquo;seeking to find the best expressions, even singling out specific terroir in search of unique vineyard sites&rdquo; for future wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2016 Vintage</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I recently tasted through eleven wines from Domaine Leflaive&rsquo;s 2016 vintage with Morandiere. The biggest challenge of 2016, he explains, happened on the morning of April 27 &ndash; frost. &ldquo;It would not have been so bad had it not rained the day prior,&rdquo; adding, &ldquo;moisture crystalized on the buds overnight, when the sun came out the moisture burned the buds, 80% of the grapes were destroyed.&rdquo; On the bright side, the remaining berries became highly concentrating, resulting in a small yet stellar vintage.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Impressions</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Domaine Leflaive produces wines from all four Puligny-Montrachet Grand Crus, four Premier Crus, plus one Mersault Premier Cru, and four additional wines from M&acirc;con-Verz&eacute;, Pouilly-Fuiss&eacute;, Puligny-Montrachet, and Bourgogne. I tasted all but three &ndash; Montrachet Grand Cru (unavailable due to limited production), Pouilly-Fuiss&eacute;, and Puligny-Montrachet.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> My overall impression of my first Domaine Leflaive tasting - wow. Beginning with the simple elegance of M&acirc;con-Verz&eacute;, through all four Premier Crus, and ending with three Grand Crus, I was in wine heaven. I took notes, but upon reflection found them useless - asking myself, &ldquo;these are some of the greatest white wines in the world, what do notes matter?&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The wines were characteristically shy for their age, muted orchard and under-ripe stone fruit, steely minerality, mouth-watering salinity, and lanolin evolving as I marched toward the Grand Crus. The redundancy demonstrated in my notes emphasizes the wines elegance, linear focus, finesse, and expressive terroir. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The three Grand Crus really grabbed my attention. The Chevalier-Montrachet was the most demonstrative of the group, round, with notes of butterscotch and ripe apple. After tasting the B&acirc;tard-Montrachet I wrote &ldquo;slap my momma,&rdquo; translation &ndash; amazing. Finally, the Bienvenues-B&acirc;tard-Montrachet reminisced of a baked cinnamon apple pie. A favorite? Not a chance. Each of these wines truly stuns.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Built for ageing, tasting the 2016 vintage does no justice to how these wines will evolve, except to say they are going to dazzle. Buy a bottle, age it properly for twenty years, and then drink it. You&rsquo;re welcome.</p> Fri, 30 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7100 Your Thanksgiving Holiday Show-Stopper Mark Angelillo <p>We ought to banish preconceived notions in all areas of life, especially wine. You&rsquo;ve probably heard a lot about how Bordeaux&rsquo;s late harvest wines should be consumed. I implore you to throw it all out the window, and listen here to the learnings of our most recent tasting. Renowned Master of Wine Mary Gorman-McAdams walked us through a selection of eight Golden Bordeaux wines across several appellations and vintages &ndash; including dearly beloved Sauternes. While many of us already understand the possibilities of Golden Bordeaux, a large number of wine drinkers in the United States are uninitiated.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Join us on our journey to spread the #GoGoldenBordeaux message. Grab a few bottles for your holiday table and trot out some of our impressive pairings &ndash; from appetizers to third courses and beyond. Golden Bordeaux is a common party wine in France, after all.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Golden Bordeaux wines come in half-bottle sizes, and they last for months or more in your fridge. These are uniquely colored, complex, layered and rich late-harvest wines that start conversations. <a href=""><strong>Click here to watch the full tasting</strong></a>.&nbsp; Read on for more details.<br /> The Golden Bordeaux appellations are located on the left and right banks of the Garonne River. The nearby pine forests, in combination with the river, create the famed &ldquo;morning mists&rdquo; &ndash; tufts of humidity that enrobe the region&rsquo;s Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The mist clears, and piping hot sunshine dries out the grapes. The conditions allow friendly spores known as Botrytis Cinerea to develop on the grapes. This is the beginning of the hallowed Noble Rot process.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The spores enter the grapes without breaking skins &ndash; rather, the skins become permeable. We watch the grapes shrivel and change color, as something otherworldly happens just inside. Botrytis concentrates flavors inside the berry while creating brand new ones. Noble Rot brings an unmatched intensity and richness that cannot be replicated.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Golden Bordeaux harvest is a slow and manual process. Botrytis patterns are unpredictable &ndash; it comes in waves, within the same bunch. Each grape is individually assessed and picked.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>How to Enjoy Golden Bordeaux Wines</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The fruit flavors in a Golden Bordeaux wine range from exotic stone to orange and lemon citrus.&nbsp; You will find savory undercurrents, too &ndash; beds of mushrooms covered in dark soil. The wines age beautifully, revealing butterscotch, cream and vanilla notes. Hints of leather and saline, too.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There are three things to look for in a dish when pairing Golden Bordeaux: spice, salt, and richness. Here are a few examples that fit into one or more of the three categories:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Root Vegetables</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Caramelize them in the oven, then douse in salt and pepper. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Spiced Nuts</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Use hot or cool spices. Toss them in a salad along with golden raisins for a perfect holiday pairing.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Stuff it with Jalape&ntilde;o</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Bring on the heat! Stuff Jalape&ntilde;o inside olives, mushrooms, or even a chicken breast to create an environment suitable for Golden Bordeaux.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Perfect Pork</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Slather it with apricot jelly or coat in cayenne. Golden Bordeaux is a great fit for main course pork dishes.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Bring on the Beef</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cover your sliders in a Bavarian-style mustard. Lay out a platter of sweet and spicy jerky.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Virtual Tasting Wines and Pairings from Mary</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Try one or some of these selections. Mary&rsquo;s supreme pairings are sure to inspire your own. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Chateau Manos Cadillac 2016</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mary&rsquo;s pairing: Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Chateau Loupiac-Gaudiet 2016</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mary&#39;s Pairing: Green Papaya Salad with Beef<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Ch&acirc;teau la Rame Sainte Croix du Mont 2015</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mary&rsquo;s pairing: BLT Sandwich with Spicy Avocado<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Chateau du Cros Loupiac 2014</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mary&rsquo;s pairing: Jumbo Lump Crab Gratin with Bay Seasoning<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Chateau Dauphine Rondillon Loupiac 2011</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mary&rsquo;s pairing: Mexican Pozole - fish stew<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Chateau Lapinesse Sauternes 2016</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mary&rsquo;s pairing: Roasted Oysters with Bone Marrow and Chili Butter<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Chateau Filhot Sauternes 2015</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mary&rsquo;s pairing: Seared scallops with coconut lemongrass sauce<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Castelnau de Suduiraut Sauternes 2006</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mary&rsquo;s pairing: Grilled lobster with lemon paprika butter<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Watch the full virtual tasting here.</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> </p> Wed, 21 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7097 This is your holiday pairing companion. Mark Angelillo <p>We&rsquo;re all in a dish-pairing frenzy as the big holidays approach. Good counsel has arrived: One of my favorite wine educators, Lyn Farmer, sat down with to us to discuss a most perfect holiday pairing companion - R&iacute;as Baixas Albari&ntilde;o.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> We talked about a bunch of potential pairings, but don&rsquo;t hesitate to try one of your own. R&iacute;as Baixas Albari&ntilde;o is a low-risk pairing wine for a number of reasons.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s high in acid, and lower in alcohol. It won&rsquo;t interfere with the dish at hand.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Located in Northwestern Spain (right above Portugal), R&iacute;as Baixas is home to five rivers. They all empty into the Atlantic Ocean. This moderates temperatures and brings a good deal of breeze over the Albari&ntilde;o grapes. The resulting wines have an undercurrent of salinity. They are acidic, crisp, and aromatic. And while no two bottles of R&iacute;as Baixas Albari&ntilde;o are the same, you can count on a number of classic flavors: white peach, floral, citrus, with just a kiss of almond and hazelnut notes.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> You can watch the virtual tasting event <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a>. Read on for some key learnings.<br /> Lyn and I tasted five different R&iacute;as Baixas Albari&ntilde;o wines, spinning a few pairing ideas for each one. The wines are widely available &ndash; you can get the five that we tasted <a href=""><strong>right here on Snooth</strong></a>. R&iacute;as Baixas Albari&ntilde;o is a sommelier favorite, so there&rsquo;s a chance some of your guests have seen it on a menu &ndash; and already love it. What&rsquo;s more, the wines can age for a few years. If you don&rsquo;t get through all of your bottles this season, open them next year - or five years from now - and they will be fresh. That&rsquo;s the magic of a high acid wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Bodegas As Laxas Sensum NV (Sparkling Albari&ntilde;o)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> We don&rsquo;t see sparkling Albari&ntilde;o every day, but I hope this will change. It&rsquo;s made in the classic method, but tastes nothing like Champagne. That&rsquo;s a good thing. It should be experienced as its own entity. It&rsquo;s perfect for that opening holiday toast and pass-around appetizers. Lyn suggests canapes and coconut shrimp. I&rsquo;m a fan of <a href=""><strong>this Spanish Olives and Cream Cheese Canapes recipe</strong></a>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pazo Pondal Albari&ntilde;o 2016</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> We had fun playing around with some first course ideas here. Soup is the perfect starter &ndash; something with a little bit of cream, like this <a href=""><strong>Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup with Almonds</strong></a>. Lyn had a genius suggestion with a soup hailing from the region itself. It&rsquo;s called <a href=""><strong>Caldo Gallego</strong></a>. The white beans, potatoes, smoked ham, and greens give you lots of creamy notes &ndash; without any actual cream. Richer soups will amplify the fresh citrus and lychee notes in the wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Santiago Ruiz Albari&ntilde;o 2017</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Seventy-six percent of the grapes in this bottle are Albari&ntilde;o. The rest are a blend of local grapes, vinified separately and blended with careful attention to detail. The wine is thus aromatically complex &ndash; delivering a &ldquo;greenness&rdquo; that is the perfect foil for caramelized vegetables, like <a href=""><strong>carrots and parsnips</strong></a>. If you&rsquo;re ready for the main event, <a href=""><strong>turkey doused in gravy isn&rsquo;t a bad idea, either</strong></a>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Altos de Torona Rosal 2017</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> It&rsquo;s dessert time. Cheese plates all around! Lyn mentions the Spanish favorite Membrillo, or quince paste.&nbsp; It contains just three ingredients: quince, sugar, and lemon, cooked into a reddish paste. The naturally high pectin content gives the paste its firm and jelly like texture, perfect for a Manchego cheese. I also like this recipe for <a href=""><strong>Poached Pears with Quince Paste in Parmesan Cloaks</strong></a>. You can play off the nutty notes in this wine with some <a href=""><strong>Hazelnut Almond Crescents</strong></a> &ndash; or just serve nuts as they are, in their shells, with enough nutcrackers to go around the table.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Rectoral do Umia S.A.U. Marqu&eacute;s de Fr&iacute;as 2017</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> It&rsquo;s the day after! Time to recover &ndash; or is it? There&rsquo;s no shame in pairing your Thanksgiving leftovers with R&iacute;as Baixas Albari&ntilde;o, but hot breakfast or brunch is another option. Lyn points to <a href=""><strong>Eggs Benedict</strong></a> as a great choice, and I couldn&rsquo;t agree more. It could be time for some seafood, too. This <a href=""><strong>Seared-Salmon with Avocado Shrimp and Mango Salsa</strong></a> will do the trick.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Watch the full tasting here</strong></a>. <a href=""><strong>Buy the wines here</strong></a>. Happy pairing!</p> Tue, 20 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7096 Start a fight at Thanksgiving with these wine grapes. Snooth Editorial <p>Yesterday we focused on consensus wine grapes. The grapes enjoy name recognition, and they won&rsquo;t threaten the wine newbies at your holiday table. Wine geeks, however, shouldn&rsquo;t hesitate to share their arcane wine knowledge. Just make sure you have an Everyman wine at your disposal in case your recommendations fall flat.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This Thanksgiving we are grateful to know that people want more wine. Overall wine consumption in the United States increased by 400 million gallons between 1993 and 2018. That&rsquo;s an additional 1.6 billion bottles over twenty-three years.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Help spread the joy of unique wine grapes this holiday season. People are listening, and it&rsquo;s really easy. Perhaps you&rsquo;re already armed with some curious grapes. If not, here are a few favorites to start the conversation. Will they spark dissensus? It&rsquo;s all delicious wine, enjoyed during one of the United States&rsquo; most widely observed holidays &ndash; so the answer is, probably not.<br /> </p> Fri, 16 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7094 The Best Wine Grapes for Thanksgiving Snooth Editorial <p>Wine grapes are deperately vying for your attention. There are over ten thousand varietals out there - that&#39;s fierce competition. It takes about two and a half pounds of grapes to make a 750 mL bottle of wine. If you split a bottle with someone, you&#39;ve just consumed a pound of grapes. It&#39;s no wonder we get to know these varieties so intimately.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There&#39;s a lot of consumption around this time of year, and you&#39;ve got tons of choices to make. Allow the mainstay wine grapes to help quiet the holiday din. These grapes tend to please everyone - from your wine expert cousin to your sister&#39;s boyfriend. You know, the guy who jokingly calls it Cabaret Franc.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> You may hear the term &#39;international varieties&#39; bandied about in the wine world. The term is not official, but generally refers to grapes that have found success far beyond their ancestral homes. These are the consensus grapes. Most of us can agree that they are drinkable and delicious. Holidays are rife with disagreements, but they need not extend to the wine in your glass.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Here are a few consensus grapes to keep the peace at your holiday table.<br /> </p> Thu, 15 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7093 There’s more to Bordeaux than meets the eye. Sara Lehman <p>On a recent trip to Bordeaux, I had the extreme pleasure of exploring a particular group of appellations. A very particular group.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This is the group of appellations where botrytis-covered grapes are the bread and butter for many wineries. Botrytis Cinerea, also known as &quot;noble rot,&quot; is a favorable mold that grows on ripe wine grapes. This growth happens in the vineyard under specific climatic conditions. They rely on the right amount of fog, which helps the botrytis grow, producing wines that are rich and complex. Many are high in residual sugar.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> But that doesn&rsquo;t mean you can&rsquo;t pair them with savory foods!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Wines from this area are often misunderstood. Some believe that they must age to get better. Others believe they should only be enjoyed at the beginning or end of a meal. But winemakers here are producing these late harvest wines in fresh styles that are light and airy. They are meant to be consumed young, and enjoyed often.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> These are the wines of Golden Bordeaux.<br /> The Bordeaux areas that are producing these botrytized wines include Sauternes, Cadillac, Barsac, Loupiac, C&eacute;rons, Graves Sup&eacute;rieures, Sainte-Croix-Du-Mont, and Premi&eacute;res C&ocirc;tes de Bordeaux. Some of these may be familiar to you as the region has a deep history in late harvest wine production. The ten appellations have 3,000 hectares of vines growing on each side of the Garonne River. Each area has its own unique characteristics due to the terroir differences, and it&rsquo;s said that the vines must suffer to produce great wine. The poor soils here force the vines to sink their roots down into the ground for nourishment. It&rsquo;s amazing to see how vastly different the Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes grow in this region. Normally on a wine list or in a wine store, you will find these &ldquo;golden wines&rdquo; in the dessert wine section. This is a very common misunderstanding due to the wine&rsquo;s sugar levels, which makes it prone to being categorized as a sweet wine. These wines are full of fruit, and may feel sweet, but that does not mean they&rsquo;re only suitable for dessert. In fact, it&rsquo;s just the opposite!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The wines are begging to be paired with savory snacks and dishes including cheese, French cuisine, Japanese cuisine, and healthy vegetarian options. These brilliant Bordeaux wines are perfect for all occasions and are commonly consumed in France as an aperitif, as a cocktail, or with savory food.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> If you find yourself sipping wines from the Loupiac area, try <strong>Ch&acirc;teau du Cros</strong> with Japanese cuisine. I had the pleasure of joining world renowned Chef Junko Sakurai, who showcases these wines with traditional Japanese cuisine, and highlights that the saltiness in this style of food works very well with the fruity flavors and honey characters in the wines. The <strong>2015 Ch&acirc;teau du Cros</strong> pairs nicely with Salmon Tataki topped with Yuzu sauce, ginger, and shiso. The smooth texture of the salmon combined with the pungent ginger and sweet yuzu sauce brings out the mineral notes and saltiness in the wines. Dashi stock is a big part of the Japanese cuisine, and is a salty stock full of wonderful flavors that work well with the honey, vanilla, and balanced citrus zest in the Chateau du Cros wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Due to the high sugar content, these wines naturally play well with salty and spicy foods. It&rsquo;s no surprise because we pair other sweeter style wines with spicy food, but many don&rsquo;t put these particular wines into that category. It&rsquo;s time to change that!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> If you want to enjoy this wine as an aperitif before dinner, with cheese, Cadillac is a great area. There are a lot of varieties when it comes to French cheeses, so don&rsquo;t be too overwhelmed when trying to choose which pairing is best. Goat cheeses from the Loire Valley work well with Golden Bordeaux wines, as well as more pungent cow milk cheeses from Burgundy and Grenoble. French cheeses are pungent but not overpowering, giving the wines their time to shine and express their fruity characteristics. This is good for those who are adventurous when it comes to cheese, but don&rsquo;t want to dive into the stronger cheese options. When pairing these wines with Roquefort and blue cheese, you will find a harmonious pairing full of complexity and minerality, due to the honey and spice aromas and flavors in the Bordeaux wines. The cheeses are strong, but when paired with golden wines from Cadillac, they soften and seamlessly work together thanks to the wine&rsquo;s acidity, fruit flavors, and freshness. &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> While eating and drinking our way through Bordeaux, we stopped in Bommes (a commune in the Sauternes area) to meet Laure de Lambert, owner of <strong>Ch&acirc;teau Sigalas-Rabaud</strong> for lunch. Renowned Chef Olivier showcased how easily these wines can be enjoyed with gluten free and vegetarian meals, which is not often thought of. The wines show their best when in contrast with other flavors, so when Chef Olivier presented 5 courses of root vegetable and mushroom inspired dishes, it was a delightful surprise. The <strong>2016 Ch&acirc;teau Sigalas-Rabaud</strong> Sauternes paired with mushroom bruschetta and hazelnut oil is a prime example of a great pairing. The wine is fresh and vibrant, expressing notes of honey and stone fruit, which pair nicely with raw mushrooms on crusty French bread topped with just a touch of seasoning. The complexity in these wines, especially the <strong>2017 Le 5 Sauternes</strong>, also paired well with Greek mushrooms, cooked in olive oil and tossed in thyme, onion, salt and pepper.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The golden wines from Bordeaux marry well with a number of other dishes including oysters, fish, seafood, and white meats. Some of the best pairings I had during my stay were at <strong>Chateau de Fargues</strong>, where we enjoyed their wines with oysters, fish, roasted fennel, and of course, blue cheese. At Chateau de Fargues, their only caveat is to avoid overly sweet desserts, and in fact they don&rsquo;t classify their wines as dessert wines. They believe the wines show best when they are paired with opposing flavors and textures. I couldn&rsquo;t agree more!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Wines from these appellations in Bordeaux will make you think differently about the region and hopefully expand your wine pairing options. Don&rsquo;t shy away from these wines, instead, bring them to your holiday gatherings where they can be enjoyed with meats and savory sides. Thanksgiving is an ideal food pairing holiday to start your journey towards appreciating the beauty of these wines. Turkey is lean, gravy is salty, and if you add in some creamy sides, you have a perfect pairing with honey-driven, fresh wines like Golden Bordeaux. Experiment and open your palate. You won&rsquo;t be disappointed.</p> Wed, 14 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7092 Try this aperitif before heading out to dinner. Mark Angelillo <p>Roussillon&rsquo;s dry wines are go-tos, especially around the holidays. The quality-to-value ratio is superb. In fact, we have a really nice set of <a href=""><strong>Roussillon wines available here</strong></a> -- but there&rsquo;s a lot more to say about this unique region.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> My first introduction to Roussillon was the Domaine Cazes Vin Doux Naturels Rivesaltes 1994. This happened long before I kept digital tasting notes (the only way to do it!) It was served as an aperitif, in port-style glasses, before heading out to dinner. It&rsquo;s a ritual I&rsquo;ve repeated many times since.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Vin Doux Naturels, or VDNs, underpin Roussillon&rsquo;s history. The lightly fortified wines account for ninety percent of France&rsquo;s Vin Doux Naturel production. The wines begin fermenting in the usual fashion -- but when we intervene, something spectacular happens.<br /> The intervention is called mutage. It was discovered in 1285 at the University of Montpellier &ndash; which happens to be located in the Roussillon area. Mutage goes a little something like this: Fermentation is arrested, on purpose, with a neutral-flavored, high-proof spirit. When it comes to VDN, the neutral spirit can be added at or near the beginning of fermentation. The leftover sugars increase sweetness and alcohol level. VDNs preserve the essence of grapes as they ripened on the vine &ndash; a &ldquo;grapey&rdquo; characteristic that can be hard to find in a dry wine. While some VDNs (like those made with Muscat) are intended for consumption in youth, others age for decades in wood or glass vessels.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There&rsquo;s a growing movement toward rancio sec VDNs. This is an oxidative aging process (exposing the wine to light, air, etc.) that obliterates all notions of fruit in the final product. Instead the wine develops complex and unusual notes &ndash; think dark leathers and exotic spice. What fun!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &lsquo;Tis the season for celebratory dinners. There&rsquo;s ample opportunity to include Roussillon VDN in your drink plan. Here are three key Roussillon sub-regions to consider. Each one is a master of VDN. Look for these names on the label or in your web search.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Banyuls</strong><br /><br /> Banyuls produces highly respected VDN wines on steep terraces abutting Spain. While you can find Banyuls in a dry style, its Grenache-based dessert wines are of superior quality. They are often described as the quintessential chocolate pairing wine. The term Rimage (a Catalan word meaning &ldquo;vintage&rdquo;) is a high-quality indicator. Rimage wines are aged without oxygen contact for a minimum of twelve months, which helps preserve fresh fruit flavors. One of my favorite producers from this region is <a href=""><strong>Domaine La Tour Vielle</strong></a>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Maury</strong><br /><br /> The Maury appellation is in in the hills of the Agly Valley at the foot of the Corbi&egrave;res mountains. It&rsquo;s one of Roussillon&rsquo;s hotter sub-regions, and so pique ripeness is within reach. It is largely composed of black schist soils which bring balance and freshness to the wines. Like Banyuls, Maury is a master of Grenache-based VDNs.&nbsp; (Side note: You can look to Maury for some terrific red and white dry wines, too. They&rsquo;ve become very popular in recent years.) One of my favorite producers from the region is <a href=""><strong>Mas Amiel</strong></a>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Rivesaltes</strong><br /><br /> Rivesaltes is Roussillon&rsquo;s largest and most popular VDN producing area. The word, Rivesaltes, means &ldquo;high banks&rdquo; in the Catalan language. I&rsquo;m a big fan of Muscat de Rivesaltes -- a sub-sub region, if you will. It is designated for white VDN made from Muscat petits grains and Muscat of Alexandria. The former grape lends exotic fruit and citrus scents, while the latter affords full, ripe fruit aromas of fresh grape and rose. <a href=""><strong>G&eacute;rard Bertrand</strong></a> does a great job with their Muscat de Rivesaltes.<br /><br /> </p> Tue, 13 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7091 Tavel Rosé Is The Only Wine You Need This Thanksgiving Michelle Williams <p>Pause a moment and think about Thanksgiving. Do you roast, smoke, or fry your turkey? Do you season it with citrus and herbs or hickory and bacon? What about sweet potatoes &mdash; do you prefer old-fashioned style, topped with a marshmallow or strudel? Do you serve classic green bean casserole or prefer maple bacon Brussels sprouts? Add the buttery goodness of homemade mashed potatoes and the acidic bite of cranberry sauce and you&rsquo;ve got a complicated meal &mdash; one that could support seven wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Thanksgiving is a tapestry of flavors, textures, and spices &mdash; enough to overwhelm any one wine. I have written many articles recommending ros&eacute; for this feast, a solid choice because of its high acidity. On a recent trip to southern Rh&ocirc;ne, I discovered Tavel, a ros&eacute; unlike any other. This discovery has altered my pairing recommendation from ros&eacute; in general to Tavel in particular.<br /> This ros&eacute; stands at attention in the glass. Bold colors ranging from striking fuchsia, to deep salmon, to light brown topaz, colors that elucidate the seriousness of the wine. &ldquo;We are proud of Tavel&rsquo;s color,&rdquo; explains Thomas Giubbi, Managing Director of Rh&ocirc;ne&rsquo;s Vignobles &amp; Compagnie, &ldquo;we want it to entice the senses.&rdquo; One look and I knew this isn&rsquo;t an Instagram wine, it&rsquo;s a food wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The wines are cuv&eacute;es, comprised of grapes grown in unique soils with particular attention paid to maceration to create a cru ros&eacute;. Severine Lemoine, winemaker at Domaine La Rocali&egrave;re, says it best, &ldquo;A good Tavel is a balance between freshness, fruit, and spice with complex minerality, creating a grand mouthfeel in a gastronomical wine.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Crafted from a blend, Grenache forms the foundation, with Cinsault, Syrah, Clairette, Mourvedre, Picpoul, Bourboulenc, Carignan, and Calitor vying for attention. However, &ldquo;maceration,&rdquo; explains Guillaume Demoulin, fourth-generation winemaker at Ch&acirc;teau de Trinquevedel, &ldquo;is key to expressing the complexity of Tavel.&rdquo; He shares the amount of skin contact time needed varies depending on vintage and variety. &ldquo;Syrah requires only a few hours, whereas Cinsault grapes need a day or more.&rdquo; In addition to maceration, I believe much of the wine&rsquo;s gastronomic style comes from the land.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The small village lies on the right bank of the Rh&ocirc;ne River ten miles north of Avignon and shares the same revered landscape of Ch&acirc;teauneuf-du-Pape. A chalky limestone, known as lauzes, is credited with imparting elegance and minerality into the wines. These are beautiful vineyards, with limestone covering the earth. When I taste these ros&eacute;s the minerality leaps out of the glass &mdash; thank you, lauzes.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The eastern and southern aspects contain a classic sandy loam elevating the wines fruit characteristics and finesse. Although not as striking as the other areas, this soil is imperative to the freshness of the wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Finally, on the terraces and gentle slopes southeast of the village lie vineyards composed of red clay blanketed in tan quartzite cobbles, known as galets roul&eacute;s. My mouth fell open as I witnessed stones the size of a loaf of sourdough bread as far as my eyes could see.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> My initial thought was, What monk looked upon acres of fields covered in these enormous stones and said &ldquo;let&rsquo;s plant a vineyard here&rdquo;? These stones are thought to increase the wine&rsquo;s power, structure, and crispness.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> One last key to the wine dots the landscape. As I stood in the vineyards of Ch&acirc;teau de Trinquevedel with Demoulin, I felt overcome by the herbal fragrance of surrounding garrigue &ndash; the aromatic plants that grow wild there. As he explains, &ldquo;Tavel is a cru ros&eacute; with lots of personality &ndash; a true gastronomical wine,&rdquo; I think to myself how could an area engulfed in aromas of juniper, rosemary, thyme, and lavender create anything less?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Here are my recommendations of Tavel ros&eacute; to pair with your Thanksgiving.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2012 Ch&acirc;teau de Trinquevedel Tavel </strong>pours deep fuchsia, red fruit mingle with citrus and stone fruit and dried herbs, a pleasing salinity on the palate with high acidity makes the mouth water.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2017 Domaine La Rocali&egrave;re Perle de Culture Tavel</strong> pours intense pink, raspberry and red currant mingle with herbs and a sea spray minerality, high acidity with a nice lift off the palate is fresh and elegant.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2017 Vignobles &amp; Compagnie Reserve des Chastelles</strong> Tavel another deep fuchsia wine with spice, red fruit, and candied violets, palate offers weight and texture yet balanced with a freshness of blood orange, high acidity, long finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2017 Vignobles &amp; Compagnie Les Combelles Tavel</strong> offers much of the same aromas as the Reserve des Chastelles but with added ripe peach and a meaty savory quality from the Syrah.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2017 Les Vignerons de Tavel Les Lauzeraies Tavel</strong> strawberries collide with stone fruit, dreamcicle, herbal, intense minerality, elegant and refreshing with finesse.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2017 Domaine de la Mordoree La Dame Rousse Tavel</strong> offers juicy fruit forward aromas with spice and herbs on the palate, broad and elegant, intensely delicious.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2017 Domaine de la Mordoree La Reine Des Bois Tavel</strong> deep pink with dazzling notes of blood orange, red berries, spice, dried herbs, minerality, fresh yet bold on the palate, elegant and long.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> *I also tasted the 2010 and 2011 vintages of Domaine de la Mordoree Tavel, the wines age with notes of Christmas potpourri and marmalade, yet retain their freshness and elegance, truly dazzling. Tavel&rsquo;s structure and complexity result in age-worthy ros&eacute;s.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2017 Chateau d&rsquo;Aqueria Tavel</strong> offers a red and white fruit candied nose, sweet violets, spice, elegant, bold, and fresh on the palate with high acidity and firm structure. </p> Mon, 12 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7089 Roussillon wines spread good cheer. <p>France&#39;s Roussillon region is south of Languedoc, and north of Spain. A large swath of its southeastern points border the Mediterranean Sea. The Pyr&eacute;n&eacute;es mountains separate France and Spain to create Roussillon&rsquo;s legendary &ldquo;amphitheater&rdquo; bordered in the north by the Corbi&egrave;res Hills. During daylight hours, this naturally-occurring formation concentrates near-constant sunshine in Roussillon&#39;s grapes. Diurnal shifts guarantee sufficient cooling in the evening and overnight.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Over time, tectonic movements have shuffled Roussillon&rsquo;s underground beds of sediment to create an eclectic array of terroirs which carry through every Roussillon wine. You will taste the composition of compact limestone, clay, silt, marl, schist and more, mixed among the pebbles and rocks, whirring beneath ripe, sun-drenched fruits. The following wines, <a href=""><strong>available for sale here</strong></a>, demonstrate the region&#39;s capacity for distinct minerality across a mosaic of terroirs in various sub-regions. The pack also showcases the expertise of the region&#39;s winemakers; each blend is unique. Read on to learn more.<br /> </p> Fri, 09 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7072 Join the Italian Rosé Revolution Alan Tardi <p>The Bardolino and Valpolicella winegrowing areas are located in close proximity to one another on opposite sides of the Adige River in the Veneto region in northeastern Italy, and both utilize the same principal grapes varieties, Corvina and Rondinella (along with some secondary players). But the wines they produce are notably different.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Valpolicella, located in the hills on the eastern side of the Adige, has a cooler continental environment. So cool in fact that grapes sometimes had difficulty ripening and winegrowers developed a practice of drying them before vinification, creating an intensely concentrated, highly alcoholic, decidedly sweet wine now known as Recioto.<br /> While the Romans appreciated the prodigiousness of the eastern area which they dubbed the &ldquo;Valley of Many Cellars,&rdquo; and loved the sweet wine that was made there (though in very small quantities and only for the super elite), the super-elite themselves chose to live on the other side of the river on the shore of Lake Garda where the climate was much more Mediterranean, and built impressive villas and planted lemon trees and olive orchards in addition to vines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Drying grapes was not possible, but it wasn&rsquo;t necessary: the fully-ripened grapes and the mixed morainic soil produced lighter-bodied, more elegant wines that were crisp and refreshing and perfectly suited the sparkling lake, its fresh fish, and the aromatic lemons and delicate olives that grew nearby.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fast forward two millennia.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Both winegrowing areas were badly hit by events in the first half of the 20th century, but Valpolicella launched a comeback. In the 1950s some producers began to introduce a dry version of Recioto called Amarone followed by a ripasso version of Valpolicella. They developed international export markets in the US, at a time when the checkered-table Italian restaurant craze was taking off. And in 1968 the Valpolicalla production area was enlarged, drastically increasing production while significantly lowering overall quality. Valpolicella (like Chianti and Bardolino) developed a reputation for being cheap commercial plonk, and much of it was. But a real focus on quality has taken place over the past decades. Today the base level of Valpolicella is higher than it ever was and Amarone has finally received the recognition it deserves as one of Italy&rsquo;s greatest wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Now it&rsquo;s Bardolino&rsquo;s turn to make a comeback &mdash; or maybe more of a makeover. And the timing might be just right.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The game plan, I learned on a recent trip to the area, has several basic components and play number one could be coded Think Pink.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Bardolino area has traditionally made a paler version of the red Corvina-based wine called &ldquo;Chiaretto&rdquo; (&ldquo;Little Clear One&rdquo;), but it was still fairly dark, resembling more a transparent red wine than a ros&eacute;.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;Chiaretto is the New Wave of Bardolino,&rdquo; proclaimed Angelo Peretti, architect of the makeover strategy, and the first step was getting producers to lighten the hue of the wine to something along the lines of a Provence ros&eacute;. Most did, and the &ldquo;Ros&eacute; Revolution&rdquo; took place with the 2014 vintage.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Another important step was creating a separate sub-appellation for Chiaretto, stipulating tighter regulations and thus a higher level of quality and consistency. It also involves growers declaring in advance which vineyards they plan to use for Chiaretto and which for Bardolino. &ldquo;In the past,&rdquo; said Peretti, &ldquo;winemakers used the same vineyards and grapes for both wines. This is a mistake. Vines for Chiaretto should be pruned longer, which gives a greater volume of grapes with higher acidity. For ros&eacute; it&rsquo;s acidity you really need, not ripeness. You can make good Chiaretto from grapes grown in the flat southern part of the Bardolino area and in cooler areas with less favorable exposition. These are the same areas that typically made the most mediocre Bardolino. We want to make more Chiaretto by making less Bardolino&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Which brings us to play number two.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The new plan seeks to revise the production ratios of Bardolino and Chiaretto and introduce an entirely new category of Bardolino, all of which is based on a close look and the inherent capabilities of the winegrowing area.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Historically, Bardolino produces about 26 million bottles per year. Until not too long ago, basic Bardolino accounted for almost all of this. In 1968 only 4 million bottles of Chiaretto were produced. Today, with the big boom in ros&eacute;, Chiaretto is up to about 10-12 million while Bardolino has slipped to 14-16 million. The goal is to capitalize on the ros&eacute; craze, increasing Chiaretto production to 15-19 million bottles, while reducing Bardolino to about 6-7 million, about half of which would fall into an entirely new category of super Bardolino.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Bardolino area has been divided into three historical subzones: La Rocca (corresponding to the classic Bardolino area), Montebaldo and Sommacampagna.<br /><br /> While the new regulations for Bardolino and Chiaretto already reduce the maximum yield of grapes per hectare from 13 tons per hectare to 12, the maximum yield for the new sub-zone category is even lower, 10 tons per hectare, in order to produce a more complex terroir-driven wine that is capable of improving over 5-8 years or more. The initial target of &lsquo;superior&rsquo; Bardolino from the new subzones will be about 2-3 million bottles.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> All of this makes a lot of sense. Chiaretto is a perfectly pleasant ros&eacute; &mdash; fresh fruit, crisp acidity, with its own unique character from the Corvina grape. There doesn&rsquo;t appear to be tremendous diversity within the category, but one could say the same thing about ros&eacute; in general. Given the current popularity of pink, it shouldn&rsquo;t be too hard to sell 20 million bottles of ros&eacute; and it might even bring a whole new generation to Bardolino.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There is a market for simple, drinkable, relatively inexpensive wines like basic Bardolino, but there is also plenty of competition in that category, so it is wise to lower the amount produced as much as possible. And the basic Bardolino will only get better with the lower yield.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The big questions have to do with the new subzones.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Will the wines from these new subzones be perceptibly better than the regular ones? The lower yields are bound to make them beefier (as well as a bit more expensive) but will it give them more character, complexity and age-worthiness? What&rsquo;s more, will there be a perceptible difference between the wines of one subzone and another?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;These are geographical boundaries, not terroir ones,&rdquo; says Peretti.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> That&rsquo;s fine. But unless there is some distinguishable common thread that distinguishes the wines of one subzone from another, and Bardolino <em>cru</em> from the regular Bardolino, the additional names might add an additional layer of confusion and complication that could work to its disadvantage.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Bardolino clearly has the potential to regain its past glory and even exceed it. While I was in the area I had an opportunity to taste Bardolinos from 1968 and 1959 which, while not made with the intention of ageing and obviously a bit past their prime, were still well-knit and totally drinkable. I also came across a few extraordinary wines from recent vintages that seemed to express their specific place of origin and varietal character and could stand tall next to a great Barolo or Burgundy.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> It may take a while for producers to get their footing, explore their particular terroir and figure out how to best express it in the wine. But it will fun to follow and taste as they do so.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The new appellation guidelines are currently awaiting approval from the Italian Minister of Agriculture. If all goes well, the new plan will go into effect for the 2019 vintage and Bardolinos bearing the subzone designations should begin arriving in the US in 2020. In the meantime, think pink and have some Chiaretto.</p> Thu, 08 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0500 article7088 It’s time to consider your holiday bubbles. John Downes <p>I was in Tuscany three years ago on a Master of Wine trip and after three solid days of tasting red wine our faces lit up as we were served Franciacorta on arrival at a late afternoon winery. It was delicious, refreshing and complex. As one M.W. noted, &ldquo;another sparkling wine to mix up with Champagne when you&rsquo;re under pressure in the M.W. tasting exam!&rdquo; Many a true word spoken in jest!<br /> There&rsquo;s a buzz about the growth of Franciacorta sales, &ldquo;up by 27% in 2013, up a further 5% in 2015 and still rising&rdquo; (in the UK), but I&rsquo;m always dubious about statistics as you can read into them what you want. Franciacorta&rsquo;s production for example is relatively small; Champagne produces about 300 million bottles a year, Franciacorta about 17 million. But, that said, this Italian beauty is a cracking alternative to the King of Sparklers and often $15 cheaper &hellip;. the crisp, well defined, citrus, almond edged flavours with yeasty overtones went down a treat with my friends in the wine bar.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Global sales are growing; Japan continues to be a principal overseas market with about 22% of export sales, so too Switzerland and the USA which account for approximately 14% of the total (2015).&nbsp; Consorzio Franciacorta, the region&rsquo;s governing body, confirm that there had been an increased demand for Sat&egrave;n (Blanc de Blancs) and Dosaggio Zero (zero dosage) categories of Franciacorta, with total sales up 17.5% and 28.8% respectively.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Franciacorta comes from the Lombardia region of northern Italy towards the Swiss-Austrian border, from vineyards to the south of Lake Iseo in Brescia province. For those snoothers who visit the Italian Lakes, Lake Garda is not a million miles away. Franciacorta gained D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) in 1967 and now boasts about 120 producers, the largest 20 of which make about 80% of the region&rsquo;s production.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The best vineyards are on limestone based soils at an altitude of about 300 metres above sea level where our ol&rsquo; mate Chardonnay is a major player. Other grapes that can be used for Franciacorta include Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir to you and me) and Pinot Blanc. I seem to remember that the wine we had in the wine bar was Berlucci&rsquo;s Brut 2008 which was made from all three varieties, (Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc accounting for 90% with the remaining 10% being Pinot Nero). Being a &lsquo;vintage&rsquo; means that the grapes for Berlucci&rsquo;s Brut were all from the 2008 harvest.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I was in Tuscany three years ago on a Master of Wine trip and after three solid days of tasting red wine our faces lit up as we were served Franciacorta on arrival at a late afternoon winery. It was delicious, refreshing and complex. As one M.W. noted, &ldquo;another sparkling wine to mix up with Champagne when you&rsquo;re under pressure in the M.W. tasting exam!&rdquo; Many a true word spoken in jest!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Franciacorta&rsquo;s made in the same way as Champagne with the second fermentation in the bottle giving a little more alcohol and a little more carbon dioxide &ndash; the fizz. In a world of increasing alcohol levels, it&rsquo;s good to see that most Franciacorta weighs in at just 12.5% by volume.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> After the second fermentation the exhausted yeast leaves a very fine sediment (the lees) in contact with the sparkling wine. The period of time the &lsquo;lees&rsquo; are left in contact with the wine in the &lsquo;second fermentation&rsquo; in the bottle is an indication of the wine&rsquo;s quality; this is the source of the attractive fresh bread, nutty and yeasty aromas you get on good sparklers. The Franciacorta winemakers are proud that 14 million bottles of Franciacorta stay on the lees for 18 months, &ldquo;that&rsquo;s 3 million more than Champagne&rdquo;, they smile. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> So, next time you&rsquo;re looking for something different on the bubble shelf look for Europe, Italy, northern Italy, Lombardia and&hellip;..Franciacorta!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Read more about Franciacorta on Snooth:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href="">Franciacorta is the Next Champagne</a></p> Thu, 01 Nov 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7084 Cognac is the versatile spirit you should be drinking. Gabe Sasso <p>Have you added Cognac to your regular spirits rotation?&nbsp; If you&rsquo;ve hesitated because you think it&rsquo;s too fancy or stodgy, let me stop you right there. Cognac starts out as grapes, most often Ugni Blanc that are distilled twice. It&rsquo;s a brandy that originates in the town of Cognac in France and it&rsquo;s produced using some of the oldest and strictest quality control protocols in the world. The history of Cognac goes back hundreds of years as do most of the rules. Much of the equipment utilized today is similar to what was used in the 16th Century.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /> There are six growing areas within Cognac and all of the fruit has to come from some combination of them. At a minimum to be considered Cognac the distillate has to be aged in oak for 2 years. After aging in barrel blends are assembled to produce different expressions of Cognac based on each house&rsquo;s style. There are three aging designations. Unlike say a tawny port whose age statement reflects the average age of what&rsquo;s in the bottle, with Cognac it reflects the minimum age of every drop in the bottle. Because Cognac production begins with grape growing, vineyard sites, soil type, weather and more influence the end product. This makes the role of the master blender crucial as he monitors many barrels of aging Cognac carefully to choose them for use at right time and in the right designation to maintain both quality and that given Cognac house&rsquo;s style.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>V.S.</strong> Must have been aged in oak for a minimum of two years. This designation accounts for half of the Cognac sold in the world.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>V.S.O.P.</strong> The youngest Cognac in these blends has to have spent 4 years in oak.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>X.O.</strong> Must be aged in oak for at least 10 years. This tier makes up a mere 10% of Cognac in the world but is often the most talked about and contemplated.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Like whiskey, Cognac has a myriad of potential uses. Both classic cocktails and new creations can benefit from the use of Cognac as a signature ingredient. Depending on the drink you&rsquo;re looking to craft you can choose a designation that suits the intended flavor profile. Like the other great spirits of the world, Cognac is also enjoyable sipped on its own. Tulip glasses which allow the aromas in Cognac to be controlled are the recommended vessels to sip from. If you&rsquo;re making cocktails, default to the correct glass for the drink in question. Most importantly Cognac is delicious and fun. Grab a bottle in your price range that sounds appealing and taste it a few different ways. Better yet plan a party with a handful of friends where you pool your resources and grab three to five bottles to taste side by side. Tasting different expressions of a spirit side by side is the absolute best way to learn what you like.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Some favorites:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Courvoisier V.S. Cognac ($25)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This is one of the most recognizable and readily accessible Cognacs on store shelves. Don&rsquo;t let its wide availability and friendly price fool you, this is an appealing expression and a workhorse Cognac, whether you want to sip it neat or mix it into a cocktail. The complex nose is filled with fresh and dried fruit aromas and bits of spice. Apricot, peach and hints of mango are evident through the palate. The finish shows off continued spice and hints of toasty oak.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>A.E. Dor Cognac V.S.O.P. ($50)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Evocative fruit aromas are accented by hints of dust. Flavors of dried mango, brewed tea and a touch of citrus are all in play. The long mellifluous finish shows off depth and a hint of astringency. The complexity and elegance are what stand out most about this Cognac.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Hine Rare V.S.O.P. ($65)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Citrus, Anjou pear, and apple aromas nearly leap from the nose. Hints of pink grapefruit, mesquite honey and toasted pecan drive the layered palate. The finish is long, profound and delicate with layer after layer revealing itself as you contemplate this Cognac&rsquo;s charms.&nbsp; This V.S.O.P. is simply a knockout. There&rsquo;s a level of nuance and sophistication that belies the modest price point. Hine Rare V.S.O.P is a truly beautiful and exceptional sipper.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cognac Frapin Chateau de Fontpinot X.O. ($140)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This X.O. was produced from grapes sourced in a single vineyard.&nbsp; White flower and orange zest aromas lead the nose.&nbsp; References to dusty baker&rsquo;s chocolate, stone fruit and spice line the dense palate. The firm finish has length and depth to spare. Spice notes and linger fruit flavors resonate. There&rsquo;s an impression of acidity that starts from the first whiff and carries through the last sip. It provides a freshness and vigor that makes it quite difficult to stop sipping this offering one you begin.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>L&rsquo;Aigle de Delamain X.O. ($200)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> There&rsquo;s a restraint to the aromatics here that belies the depth and complexity of the overall profile.&nbsp; Bits of hazelnut and nectarine are the most apparent of those subtle aromas. The firm palate is loaded with dried stone fruit, dusty baker&rsquo;s chocolate, white pepper and a wisp of citrus. The finish is long, dense and impressive with all of the flavors reverberating. This isn&rsquo;t a Cognac to be taken lightly; savor it in good company over a long evening.</p> Tue, 30 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7081 We’re routing for Grüner Veltliner. John Downes <p>Austria is becoming well-known for Gr&uuml;ner Veltliner. This crisp white not only tastes good - the grape variety is on the label which makes life far easier as we wander down the wine aisle. That we can pronounce &lsquo;Gr&uuml;-ner Velt-liner&rsquo; also helps the Austrian cause!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> At a recent corporate event I included Loimer&rsquo;s Gr&uuml;ner Veltliner 2016 to show the potential of this Austrian grape variety. The mouth-filling citrus peach fruit balanced with a spicy acidity went down really well. For the record, Weingut (winery) Loimer&rsquo;s Gr&uuml;ner Veltliner comes from the prestigious Kamptal region about an hour&rsquo;s drive north-west of Vienna.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Kamptal region boasts Langenlois, Austria&rsquo;s largest wine producing town and takes its name from the River Kamp that flows serenely through the attractive vineyard valleys. Kamptal gained its D.A.C. (&ldquo;Districtus Austriae Controllatus&rdquo;), Austria&rsquo;s status for special region-typical Quality Wines, for Gr&uuml;ner Veltliner in 2008. Interestingly, Kamptal Riesling received its D.A.C. crown in the same year. <br /> At about 300 metres above sea level, the Kamp Valley is blessed with cool nights and warm days with long, sunny autumns, producing grapes with full ripeness and fine flavours. The Kamp flows into the mighty River Danube where the loess and loam soil terraces suit Gr&uuml;ner Veltliner &lsquo;down to the ground&rsquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> For all you red wine fans out there, these soils also hit the spot for a couple of Austrian reds, Zweigelt, (a crossing of two Austrian red grapes, St. Laurent and Blaufrankisch) and the Burgundian classic Pinot Noir. Kamptal Pinot Noir isn&rsquo;t cheap but it&rsquo;s well worth a try; one of the best wines I tasted on a visit to the region a couple of years ago was a Pinot Noir made by Rudi Rabl of the Rabl winery in Langenlois.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The other principal white grape of Kamptal is our old friend Riesling. This Kamptal classic comes in two distinct styles; a crisp, steely glassful or a fuller style which helpfully has the word &lsquo;Reserve&rsquo; on the front label. I say helpful, for as with much in the Wine Trade it&rsquo;s only helpful if you know what it means! Most consumers haven&rsquo;t a clue what it means but typically the Wine Trade doesn&rsquo;t seem to bother too much - I still don&rsquo;t understand why. Surely education will bring more people into wine?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Weingut Brundlmayer Steinmassel Kamptal Riesling 2015 was another star of my event. The tongue-twisting name makes it a mouthful in more ways than one but of course, you can always practice your pronunciation in front of the mirror before your guests arrive!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Kamptal region is popular with tourists so if you find yourself in the attractive wine town of Langenlois, don&rsquo;t forget to walk through the vineyards high above its white walls and cobbled square where the brilliant &lsquo;wine route&rsquo; is marked by beautiful vineyard vistas, entertaining information panels and fantastic interactive wine sculptures. There are also picnic spots where you can meet&nbsp; friends and enjoy your favourite Kamptal wine, be it Gr&uuml;ner Veltliner, Riesling, Zweigelt or Pinot Noir.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Read more recent Austria coverage on Snooth:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href="">The Next Go-To Red is Austria&rsquo;s Zweigelt</a></p> Fri, 26 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7080 This artisanal spirit is not what you think. Annie Edgerton <p>Is there anything more Dutch than bicycling over cobblestone streets alongside a canal? Yes: ending that bike trip with a glass of genever. This Wineau found herself in the Netherlands recently, and while there is a burgeoning wine region there&mdash;I had a surprisingly lovely Dutch Auxerrois my first night&mdash;it&rsquo;s clear the true spirit of the Netherlands is its signature beverage, genever.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Genever (pronounced <em>juh-NEE-ver</em>) is an artisanal spirit with an intricate history and versatility. What&rsquo;s tricky is that sometimes genever can seem like gin (it actually predates what we now call gin,) but sometimes it can seem like scotch, depending on the style of production. And there is an enormous range of flavors from whatever array of botanicals each distiller uses. What all genevers do share is the use of some percentage of malt spirit for the base, and they all must include juniper berries in the botanical blend. If there is a low amount of malt spirit and a clean, fresh feel, you&rsquo;ll have a <em>new style</em> genever, which are gin-like and great in cocktails. If there is a higher percentage of malt and some oak aging, you&rsquo;ll have an <em>old style</em> genever, which is on the whisky spectrum and makes for enjoyable sipping.<br /> <em>Genever production in a nutshell: the malt base is typically from one or a blend of grains like rye, wheat, and corn, usually triple-distilled to between 40-80% abv. The grains used add different levels of cereal notes and weight. Neutral spirit is important as well (comprising most of the base for the new style,) as it imparts no flavor and can reach very high alcohol. Then botanicals, spices, and/or fruits are processed, either by maceration or distilling. The master distiller will blend all components and they are left to &ldquo;marry,&rdquo; usually for a number of weeks. Then there is the option to age in casks, which can add elements from the barrels&rsquo; original use (Bourbon, Sherry, wine, etc.,) plus a warmer, woodier essence. All of the many choices the master distiller makes helps define the house style, but also, there can be multiple offerings from each house, showcasing different styles or flavors.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Not only does genever offer something for every spirit-lover, but it has a long history with the U.S. America&rsquo;s first published bartender&rsquo;s guides show that, until the 1880s, &ldquo;gin&rdquo; was Dutch-style (so it was actually genever,) and about a quarter of all cocktail recipes at that time were based on the spirit. So, America&rsquo;s spirit-ual journey pretty much began with genever.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> If you&rsquo;re a die-hard Jameson drinker, or you rarely stray from your Tanqueray and tonic, stop reading now. But if you love exploring new beverages, and you&rsquo;re fascinated by the individual stamp distillers can place on their product (often tracing back many generations,) weaving personal histories and personalities into the mix, genever may quickly become your new favorite go-to.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Genever even has its own ritual: a &ldquo;kopstootje,&rdquo; or, &ldquo;head-butt.&rdquo; (Pronounced kop-stow-che.) This is a ceremony involving a glass of genever filled completely to the brim alongside a beer. You squat down with your hands behind your back and slurp the first bit of genever. Then you can stand, and have a sip of beer as a chaser. Hands are allowed for the rest of your beverage enjoyment; the first sip is what&rsquo;s important. The ritual&rsquo;s name comes from the fact that you might &ldquo;head-butt&rdquo; the glass of beer when you&rsquo;re maneuvering to attack that first mouthful of genever. One of my colleagues likened the process to &ldquo;Netherlands Yoga,&rdquo; but it&rsquo;s pretty easy to get the hang of it, especially if you&rsquo;re taught by Piet van Leijenhorst, Master Distiller of Bols genever.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There is a Bols facility in the heart of old Amsterdam, although they do most of their production outside of town (something about high quantities of incredibly flammable liquid not a great idea in the city center?) Standing beside three gorgeous copper stills, Piet offered up some glasses, which became a time travel back to the past, at the same time looking forward into the future.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Piet said the <strong>Bols 100% Malt Genever</strong> &ldquo;is not genever with a lot of different taste profiles, it&rsquo;s the heart of genever.&rdquo; In a way, this is genever in its purest form: no mix of botanicals, just juniper berry and malt spirit, and you can taste the simplicity and power. The <strong>Bols Original Genever</strong>, with its subtle juniper and a feel of fresh, clean linen (!), has a blend of 22 distilled botanicals, with &ldquo;a secret ingredient&hellip; it gives you a funny feeling on your tongue,&rdquo; as Piet said with a laugh. On the other side of the spectrum was the <strong>Bols 9-Year Aged Original Genever</strong>. When they first made the Original in 2008, they put some in three bourbon barrels and just bottled them last year. It was so rich in the mouth, compact and intense, and while 57.5% alcohol, it didn&rsquo;t feel &ldquo;hot&rdquo; at all. Delicious. Alas, that was apparently the last bottle left! (Many thank yous for sharing it, Piet.) But it definitely showcased the beauty and potential of aged genever.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Bols is quite a large distillery, and if you&rsquo;re familiar with genever at all, it may very well be one of theirs. But the stories from small distilleries are just as compelling.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The scene of the bike ride over cobblestone streets alongside a canal actually happened in Dordrecht, a small town about an hour&rsquo;s drive south from Amsterdam. Myriam Hendrickx, the master distiller of Rutte, led us around the charming town like a mother duck with her wobbly ducklings trailing behind (and we hadn&rsquo;t even had any genever yet.) The Rutte operation is small and family-owned, and when Myriam arrived fifteen years ago, they used original handwritten recipes, and had one computer&hellip; operating on DOS. Today, the Rutte team has gotten with the times, but they have not modernized much, in order to focus on the craft element of their genevers and spirits &ndash; even still peeling fresh oranges by hand. Downstairs in the original building there are shelves upon shelves of experiments; distillates and macerations of dozens of products. Rutte will probably always remain small, but they will never stop exploring. I loved the <strong>Rutte Old Simon Genever</strong> &ndash; one of their oldest recipes, with unusual (&ldquo;Say, &lsquo;creative,&rsquo;&rdquo; Myriam laughed,) botanicals giving it a pleasing funkiness. And the <strong>Rutte Single Oat Genever</strong> blew me away, with its honey cereal flavor a great example of what slightly aged genever can achieve. However, &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t write too much about this,&rdquo; said Myriam, &ldquo;we don&rsquo;t have enough!&rdquo; Oops.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The next day, it was back in the car for a two-hour drive northeast for a visit to De Borgen. First up, the <strong>De Borgen 21-Year Aged Cask Aged Malt Spirit</strong>, distilled in 1998. Made from 100% barley, aged in ancient Oloroso Sherry casks, almost half of it vaporized over time. It filled my mouth with a warm flame, powerful yet delicate, with flavors of figs and caramel. And this is just one ingredient in their old-style genever. Interestingly, I also loved the <strong>De Borgen New Style Genever</strong>, with its gin-like profile (lots of juniper,) but very creamy. They used elderflower, bitter oranges, cardamom, and fennel, among others, and the citrus especially was a great counterpoint to its creaminess. At this distillery, I even got to blend my own genever! I went for a new-style profile on an old-style base: 50% malt spirit and 50% neutral, with botanicals of juniper (of course,) cucumber, grapefruit, orange blossom, and some umami from seaweed. If I do say so myself, it was pretty dang tasty; I think Laurens Speek, De Borgen&rsquo;s Brand Activation Manager, was about to offer me a job. (I only have about 200ml left, but will consider taking orders.)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The next day, exploration of genever&rsquo;s character continued at Herman Jansen, located in Schiedam, where a few windmills that used to grind grain to make genever still loom over the quaint town. We sampled some products from Bobby&rsquo;s, a co-production with Sebastiaan van Bokkel, who is inspired by his part-Indonesian ancestry. They describe the Bobby&rsquo;s line as, &ldquo;Dutch Courage Meets Indonesian Spirit,&rdquo; using only 4% malt spirit with Indonesian botanicals in their genever, making <strong>Bobby&rsquo;s Genever</strong> super-floral, with cardamom, ginger ale, and lemongrass. It was tasty on its own, and shone in a simple cocktail for lunch. Herman Jansen gets involved in many projects &ndash; 600 so far, though not all make it to the end phase. Their own lines include Notaris, the Bartender&rsquo;s Choice series, and vintage single cask offerings. Standouts were the <strong>Herman Jansen Notaris 15 Year</strong>, with its light caramel, herbs, and woody spice, and the <strong>Herman Jansen Bartender&rsquo;s Choice Rome</strong>, with its fruity stone fruit and chamomile notes. But the full-on knockout was the <strong>Herman Jansen 1991 Single Cask</strong>. Ad van der Lee, distiller for both Bobby&rsquo;s and Herman Jansen, took a sample out of the cask that morning (!) and we were the first to taste it. Light caramel, heady orange blossom, lavender, anise &ndash; my notes are full of stars and hearts. Alas, this is not on the market yet, but it&rsquo;s worth waiting for.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> While closely associated with the Dutch, Genever production is not restricted to the Netherlands&mdash; in fact the official Geographical Indication includes Belgium and parts of France and Germany.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Smeets is a Belgian distillery, and members of their team came to the Genever Museum in Schiedam to showcase Belgian-style genever. They bottle genevers that have spent time in Port and rum casks, which definitely impart their own flavors, but my favorite was the <strong>Smeets Whisky Cask</strong>, with its spiced caramel and bit of peat essence. Senna Meloni, traveling mixologist, led a cocktail demonstration to show how well the <strong>Smeets Extra Genever</strong> combined in a &ldquo;Spicy Juniper,&rdquo; an &ldquo;Apple a Day,&rdquo; and a &ldquo;Basil Smash.&rdquo; (Shout-out to all you bartenders out there: it&rsquo;s definitely time to get inspired by genever in its many styles.)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I bid farewell to Amsterdam with genever flowing in my veins. How fascinating that a 500-year-old beverage has so many facets and stories; each sip is a taste of the past and an inspiration for the future. Some distillers extol the classic style, some are experimental, some focus on craft, others on technical matters. The results truly offer something for every spirit lover. So, seek out some genever for inspiration of your own, and welcome genever back to America with open arms and a thirsty palate.</p> Thu, 25 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7079 The True Link Between Wine and Health Mark Angelillo <p>Wine is people. I&rsquo;m not talking about the people with whom you enjoy wine. Here I refer to the people behind the wine &ndash; those folks we ought to celebrate as the literal fruits of their labor coat our palates. We talk a lot about wine on this site, but I&rsquo;d like to take a moment to express gratitude to the farm workers who work so hard to get the grapes in our glasses.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In this spirit, I&rsquo;d like to talk about <strong>&iexcl;Salud! The Oregon Pinot Noir Auction</strong>. A group of wineries is Oregon joined together in the early 90s to help provide better access to quality healthcare for vineyard workers. That&rsquo;s one of many things I love about the wine industry &ndash; quality regions always band together to make great things happen.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &iexcl;Salud!&nbsp;is the only industry fundraiser that both raises funds for and provides healthcare to vineyard workers and their families. I would have loved to attend this year, but sadly, life got in the way. The wineries were kind enough to send me some selections that will be auctioned at this year&rsquo;s fundraiser. Read on for my notes. <strong><a href="">Then click here to place a sealed bid</a></strong>. (Yes, you can bid even if you cannot attend. Tickets for the live November event are sold out.) &iexcl;Salud! to our health.<br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>1997 Ponzi Vineyards</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Brick, cherry red color. Elegant aromas of plum, cranberry, red licorice, mineral earth and dried green herb with hints of crushed flowers and a spiced note of cayenne. Mellow and earthy, this is wise with age but still holds a kick of acidity amidst tart cranberry and sour cherry, strawberry shrub and earthy spice. Tannins still have a good grip on the tongue but let go with a hint of medicine and a creamy textured cherry finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Domaine Drouhin Oregon</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Exquisite cherry and earthy mushroom aromas with soft floral character and notes of red currant and red licorice. Gorgeous fresh fruit flavors of cherry syrup, red currant and tart cranberry, fresh berries, a layer of holiday spice, a crispness on the middle of the palate that sustains through to the finish of earth, plum and sticky but pliable tannins, fresh wildflowers and a bit of plum.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Raptor Ridge Winery</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Classic mineral earth and tar streaks open here on the nose with notes of raspberries and strawberries, sour cherry candy and a hint of red licorice. Gentle in the mouth, yet nicely tart with bold acidity and chewy tannins, resinous herb and a plum and wild flower palate, finishing clean with notes of blueberry and cranberry.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Dukes Family Vineyard</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sweet spice and cherry fruit with raspberry notes on the nose. Tart, candied palate of cherry and watermelon juice with some earthy notes of resinous tar and a soft tart cranberry palate towards the finish. Carries a bit of dried green herb and jolly rancher flavors before ending a bit abruptly with floral notes and grainy tannins.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Winderlea Vineyard and Winery</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fresh and floral with bold cherry and red currant aromas, sweet spice and pastry notes of blueberry crumble. Delicate and soft palate with full bunches of berries and cherries on the palate, round and expansive yet pulling taut on the mid palate with light cranberry and sour cherry notes in front of perky tannins, candied plum and a finish that&rsquo;s floral and a bit earthy with more red fruit. Very fresh, well made, lively and generous.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2014 Domaine Serene</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Delightfully pure, fruity aromas of ripe cherry and mixed berry, cola spice and red currant preserves. More pure, perfect fruit on the palate, mostly cherry, red currant and a hint of cranberry, enveloping the palate with soft herb and zesty spice, medium tannins and a tart finish of cranberry and sour cherry. This is elegant throughout, with beautiful fruit to start and a smoky, intriguing finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2014 Elk Cove Vineyards</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cool blueberry and cherry aromas with plush and round fruit character, light floral aromatics and zippy spice. This is zesty and bright on the palate, immediately fresh with full acidity and a clean fruit forward palate of red currant and cherry, medium body and quaffable. Tannins grip the front of the palate and hang on with good length through to a finish of licorice, more ripe cherry and lots of baking spice.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2014 Stoller Family Estate</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Juicy, concentrated and powerful fruit aromas of plum, blueberry and black cherry, inviting and pure. On the palate this is fruit forward, round at the core and well structured with plum and pomegranate notes, tart sour cherry, mixed berry pastry and perky acidity throughout. Elegant and delicate yet still assertive, well made and rich, with a finish that pulls up clean and light with hints of resin and spiced earth. Lovely.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2016 Cristom Vineyards</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A bit of heat, a bit of pepper, and warm black cherry and black currant fruit on the nose - notes that are smooth and even and inviting. Tart on entry and very direct, this pours forth with plum, cherry and black currant preserves, continues delivering through the mid palate with creamy cranberry and baking spice, and finishes strong with a spiced bite, bold acidity, earthy tar and textured, chocolate mousse flavors.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2016 ROCO Winery</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Floral and earthy aromas with fresh cherry fruit and a streak of tar and warm heat. Warmly spiced and full bodied with a zesty mouthfeel of acidity and medicine, fresh fruit flavors of cherry, mixed berry and cola, raspberry and plum skin towards the finish of melted dark chocolate ganache and blackberry preserves.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Click here to place your sealed bid now.</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> </p> Fri, 19 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7076 This New Zealand wine icon continues to dazzle. Mark Angelillo <p>If you are new to New Zealand wines, this is the historic winery to know. And if you&rsquo;re already in the know, there&rsquo;s a good chance this winery is a favorite. Villa Maria is New Zealand&#39;s most awarded winery for a reason.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> See that picture? It&#39;s Marlborough at sunset, overlooking one of Villa Maria&#39;s stunning vineyard plots. Villa Maria Founder Sir George Fistonich started the winery with just five acres of leased land in Auckland. Fifty years later, Villa Maria is an icon, synonymous with quality New Zealand wines. And Sir George is still involved in the winery&#39;s daily operations. His past and present efforts are largely responsible for the international rise of New Zealand wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Villa Maria has identified the best plots&nbsp; across multiple regions (Auckland, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Marlborough), showcasing New Zealand&rsquo;s vast quilt of soils and terroir. I had a chance to chat with Villa Maria winemaker Kat Jankowiec about these nuances as we tasted through a set of six Villa Maria wines. The set pulls from the latest vintage. It demonstrates Villa Maria&rsquo;s wide range and skill. What&rsquo;s more, <a href=";utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=all&amp;utm_content=86400"><strong>the set is available here at a promotional rate</strong></a>. Secure your six pack and <a href=";utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=all&amp;utm_content=86400"><strong>watch the virtual tasting with Kat here</strong></a>. Read on for a review of each wine in the six pack.<br /> </p> Thu, 18 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7074 The Next Go-To Red is Austria’s Zweigelt Mark Angelillo <p>These days, Austrian Zweigelt is no stranger to wine lists. Sommeliers at the trendiest restaurants and wine bars in major cities arm themselves with Austria&rsquo;s shining star. While Zweigelt is grown in a few other places (like Japan and British Columbia, for example), the grape truly is synonymous with Austria.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Its recent surge in popularity (plantings have grown by fifty percent since 2000) is astounding, but not surprising. Zweigelt is one of the most agreeable red wines you will experience. Alcohol levels are low to moderate, and the fruits are bright and friendly. They can be young, fresh, upbeat wines for everyday drinking. They also can be barrel-aged show stoppers &ndash; a newer phenomenon just starting to take hold. The zippy, exuberant red and purple fruits are palate pleasers for red and white wine drinkers alike. Indeed, Zweigelt undeniably is the red wine for white wine drinkers.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Winemakers across Austria are experimenting with Zweigelt in new and exciting ways. Join me for a deep-dive into this fun and fruity varietal.<br /> Zweigelt is an ingenious cross between two indigenous Austrian varietals, Blaufr&auml;nkisch and St. Laurent.&nbsp; Varietal Blaufr&auml;nkisch can be gamey and spicy with high acidity and bright fruits. Varietal St. Laurent can be notably aromatic with fine, silky tannins and dark berry fruits. The two in combination yields something quite special, with facets of each grape contributing to a greater whole.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &nbsp;In 1921, botanist Fritz Zweigelt founded a grape breeding station at Klosterneuburg, a research and technology institute just outside of Vienna. He wanted to create a grape that would resist vine diseases and produce generous yields. His first big success came in 1922 with Rotburger. Its name was a portmanteau of rot (red) and Klosterneuburg (the Institute). The grape remained fairly unknown until 1956, when growers noticed how well it weathered a particularly harsh winter. It was renamed Zweigelt in 1975, to honor its creator.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Zweigelt is a friendly and consistent wine. The initial wave of cherry red fruits ride in on a unique blend of spices &ndash; cinnamon, violet, and a distinctive floral note. The grape retains its signature aromas from bottle to bottle. I am also pleased to report Zweigelt is available in the United States at fantastic values.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Here is a shortlist of some favorites I had the opportunity to taste. The full list of wines from this tasting can be found <strong><a href="">here</a></strong>.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Nieder&ouml;sterreich</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Let&rsquo;s start with three bottles that fall in the Nieder&ouml;sterreich designation. Nieder&ouml;sterreich, or Lower Austria, encompasses 28,145 hectares of land. It is the country&rsquo;s largest wine growing area. Two hundred and sixty kilometers of the Danube River cut right through the Nieder&ouml;sterreich. The river valleys are breathtaking. They set the stage for superior grape growing.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Forstreiter Zvy-Gelt Zweigelt Nieder&ouml;sterreich 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This family has been making wine since 1968. Vineyards are located in the Kremstal, along the right bank of the Danube River, across from the Wachau. The wine brings expansive, generous fruit with lots of floral notes - ripe juicy red berries and cherries, fresh spice and a touch of savory earth. Bright and juicy on entry with a tart and tarry, thick streak of tannins and earth welling up on the mid palate, violet petals and dark plum, blueberry notes and a finish of licorice and herb. It&rsquo;s a true steal at roughly eight to twelve dollars per bottle. 90 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Johannes Zillinger Velue Zweigelt Nieder&ouml;sterreich 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This wine is Biodynamic and Demeter certified. Like many Austrian producers, the Zillinger grapes are farmed in accordance with the rhythms of nature. The yeasts are native. Nice depth, floral aromas of raspberry and cranberry with earthy mineral notes adding another dimension. Tart, perky red fruit flavors of astringent cranberry, red currant and raspberry, this is refreshing and easy drinking, with surprising depth and a pleasant chewiness from the tannins towards the floral finish. It&rsquo;s available for around twenty dollars. 90 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Weingut&nbsp;Br&uuml;ndlmayer&nbsp;Zweigelt Langenlois 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Grapes used in this wine come from vineyards that once belonged to Fritz Zweigelt himself. It matured in oak casks for twelve to twenty-four months. It&rsquo;s one of my favorites in this tasting, and well worth the twenty to thirty dollars investment. Cheery cherry and raspberry compote aromas with a floral hint, a touch of chalk and pencil shavings. Medium-high acidity, tart focused fruit notes of cherry, cranberry and red currant with a bold tarry core that turns resinous towards the finish. This is generously fruited and coats the mouth nicely but finishes clean. 92 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Hugl Zweigelt Ros&eacute; Nieder&ouml;sterreich 2017</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Clocking in around ten dollars per bottle, this ros&eacute; of Zweigelt is perfect for your Thanksgiving table. Light, lightly citrusy aromas of tart grapefruit, cherry and cherry blossom, strawberry and honeysuckle. A bit effervescent and lively on the palate this carries tart cherry and plum skin flavors, fresh strawberries, cut flowers and bright acidity. It&rsquo;s a bit candied towards the finish with a bit of citrus and herb at the very end. 90 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Carnuntum</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The next three wines hail from the Carnuntum region, a smaller section of the Nieder&ouml;sterreich. Ancient Romans settled the area, and many of their remains are still visible today. Two hundred and thirty-two of Carnuntum&rsquo;s eight hundred and eighty hectares of vineyards are planted with Zweigelt. The varietal thrives in the region&rsquo;s gently rolling slopes. The region&rsquo;s skilled winemakers pay close attention to the wide array of microclimates available to them in Carnuntum. The Zweigelt tends to be grown at higher elevations. Soils vary from fossil limestone to loess and clay.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Artner Zweigelt Klassik Carnuntum 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fresh pie filling aromas of raspberry, strawberry and cherry with hints of cinnamon and moist earth. On the palate this starts out with a pop of acidity and a burst of fruit sweetness - cherry, red currant and raspberry. On the mid palate this opens up with structure and finesse, floral notes of blueberry and a creamy texture. Finishes clean and light with more fruit and earth. Well-made and elegant. 91 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Netzl Rubin Carnuntum Zweigelt Carnuntum 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Rubin was created in 1992 by Carnuntum winemakers. It was created to honor the region&rsquo;s recent separation from Donauland and establish a unique identity. Rubin wines are 100% Zweigelt with at least 12.5% ABV and aged in barrels for at least six months. Smoky, rich vanilla and cherry-raspberry aromas with chocolate and baking spice, the smooth and mellow aromas are inviting and warm. Spiced and smoked with lots of dark black fruit on the palate, chewy tannins and a creamy texture, toasted oaky notes and a dark chocolate finish that carries a bit of red cherry glaze that brightens the tips. Intriguing wine - good for lovers of oak. 90 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Netzl Zweigelt Classic Carnuntum 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pleasantly soft and floral aromas of cherry and strawberry. Clean and direct on the palate with good varietal character, smoky and tart notes of cranberry and raspberry with deep fruit and full body, enveloping spice and a finish of chocolate cherries and refreshing acidity. This has a touch of medicine and bitter herb on the mid palate that adds some depth and character and finishes with gripping tannins and more smoke. 89 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Burgenland</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Now we move to the East with two selections from the Burgenland region. Red vines here thrive in the limestone, schist, and clay soils. Zweigelt tends to be found in the hills, on the outskirts of Lake Neusiedl.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Anita and Hans Nittnaus Blauer Zweigelt Burgenland 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dark, rich and brooding aromas of mineral earth, barnyard and toasted spice, fruit notes of black currant and black cherry, some floral notes and dusty, resinous sawmill aromas. On the palate this is juicy and playful, with medium acidity and notes of plum and cherries, blueberry and cranberry, a floral note alongside baking spice and a pine sap and herb finish that&rsquo;s warming and pleasant. The thirteen to seventee dollar price point is a good bet. 91 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Paul Achs Zweigelt Burgenland 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Paul Achs spent some time growing grapes in Sonoma. He brings those sensibilities to the family winery back in Burgenland. Tart cranberry, cherry and raspberry fruit aromas with moist savory earth notes and a bit of light mushroom. Soft and juicy on entry with lots of red fruit and floral notes, this pushes towards tart cranberry and bold acidity towards the mid palate - this is generous and assertive yet stylish and approachable, finishing with blueberry, strawberry and zesty spice. 90 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Biokult Zweigelt Pinot Noir Burgenland 2017</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Zweigelt can be found in red blends, but I was most impressed by its union with Pinot Noir. Intriguing and alluring aromas of lightly floral cherry, fresh spice and warm earth, this is elegant and richly fruited. Tart on entry with impressive delivery of ripe red fruit notes of cherry and raspberry, this turns a bit tarry with some bitterness on the mid palate, a hint of cola, toast and forest floor, resin and a finish of cranberry and more cherry.</p> Tue, 09 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7066 Take another look at German white wines. Mark Angelillo <p>German Riesling is a go-to pour for novice and expert wine lovers alike. It&rsquo;s a wine (one of very few) that bridges generation gaps. Millennials are sipping German Riesling with their parents &ndash; and their grandparents, too.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> But our zeal for German Riesling can be blinding. There are a ton of terrific German white wines out there that we tend to overlook. I get it &ndash; Riesling can be distracting. It is that good. The signature aromas and flavors on a dry German Riesling make palates sing. But here&rsquo;s the thing:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Germany is producing a bunch of fantastic white wines from a variety of varietals. And they are available in the United States at mind-bogglingly accessible price points. &ldquo;Are you sure you don&rsquo;t want to charge more for this?&rdquo; is the question I&rsquo;m often asking retailers after trying one of their German bottles.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There are few wine producing nations that can put together <strong><a href="">a pack of four world-class wines for under fifty bucks</a></strong>. I sampled this pack with Los Angeles-based sommelier/wine director Matthew Kaner during <strong><a href="">our most recent virtual tasting</a></strong>. Members of the wine media joined in as we tasted through four different German white wine grapes. (Yes, we did include a Riesling.)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There&rsquo;s a lot to unpack in German wines these days. Here we go, grape by grape.<br /> </p> Fri, 05 Oct 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7069 Female Winemakers are Making Waves Michelle Williams <p>Becoming a multi-award winning winemaker takes hard work and dedication. Add strength, moxie, intelligence, and class and you&rsquo;ve got Virginia Willcock, Vasse Felix chief winemaker since 2006. Outspoken about low intervention winemaking and passionate about expressing terroir in every sip, Willcock has elevated Vasse Felix, Margaret River&rsquo;s founding wine estate and benchmark for the region&rsquo;s Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, to a world-class winery.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I sat down with Willcock at TexSom last month. She explained that her passion for winemaking began as a teenager as she witnessed her parents&rsquo; and friends&rsquo; joy in harvesting their own small vineyard. &ldquo;The greatest days of my childhood were on that farm&rdquo; said Willcock, feeling the beauty of nature and the connection of the fruit to the vines. &ldquo;As a child, I witnessed wine making people happy, it&rsquo;s like magic juice,&rdquo; she shares.<br /> With her father&rsquo;s encouragement, she pursued winemaking at university, where she learned about technical winemaking. But she says it is people who taught her how to make wine. She especially credits James Healy, former chief winemaker at Cloudy Bay, for guiding her toward the beauty of natural winemaking.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Willcock diverges from trends by making natural wine in her own style. &ldquo;We are not trying to make something the world wants; we are trying to make what our history and land provides,&rdquo; she explains, adding, &ldquo;Trying to make a wine constructed to the human palate is bollocks.&rdquo; Further, she told me, &ldquo;The reason I love wine is because it&rsquo;s different from every part of the world and it expresses itself naturally. This doesn&rsquo;t mean it has to be dirty, oxidized, or Bretty. These flaws can be controlled while still making a natural product, explains Willcock, adding &ldquo;The more natural we become in winemaking the more we see where we are from.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Willcock pours this philosophy into every wine she makes. She embraces the microbiology of the vineyard and seeks to capture it through native yeast fermentation and minimal use of sulfur. Through investigating the vineyard, she learned the soil operates as the digestive system. Upon this realization she led the charge at Vasse Felix to change their philosophy of winemaking to match the organic farming practices of the vineyards. &ldquo;Some rely on technology to choose clones, rootstock, etc. We went through that as well, but through trial and error we kept ending up where we started &ndash; our heritage clones,&rdquo; she explains. The pre-phylloxera Bordeaux cutting is &ldquo;unique, beautiful, and defines our wines,&rdquo; according to Willcock.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Vasse Felix wines are closed by screw caps. Puzzled by the closure debate, Willcock shares, in her honest style, &ldquo;a screw cap is the same as a great cork. If the wine goes into the bottle in the right condition only the cork can screw it up. With a screw cap if you don&rsquo;t like the wine blame me &ndash; I am the one who bottled it in the wrong condition. Don&rsquo;t blame a secondary piece of equipment I bought to close the bottle.&rdquo; Willcock shapes her winemaking technique to align with the closure and avoid reduction. By giving the wine enough oxygen in the winemaking process she says it should be just where she wants it by the time it is bottled. Meanwhile, she&rsquo;s constantly experimenting, playing with fermentation, vessel size, and material. Her next frontier is native fermentation for their Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, seeking to discover the largest reductive vessel that can be used with native fermentation.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Willcock likes to push the boundaries of Chardonnay. In university she learned wine should be polished, clean, and bright. Wisdom taught her to challenge these ideas. &ldquo;Texture in white wine is beautiful. Chardonnay does not like full skin contact, clean juice, oak fermentation, and full malolactic fermentation. It prefers dirty juice, wild fermentation, and occasional malolactic fermentation if the acidity is too high,&rdquo; she shares. Willcock expresses Margaret River through her Chardonnay.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I tasted two Vasse Felix Chardonnays: The 2016 Margaret River Chardonnay is a decadent, mid-weight wine. Intense notes of ripe orchard fruit, grapefruit, pineapple, creamy lemon curd, butterscotch, and toasted oak are wrapped in crisp acidity that provides structure and elegance. The 2016 Heytesbury Chardonnay is dazzling. This wine represents top performing blocks from the top vineyards. The tension between the ripe stone, tropical, and orchard fruit and the savory notes of smoke, toast, flint, and salinity is palpable on the palate. It is a joy to drink now, but will increase its reward with further aging.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Willcock crafts Vasse Felix Cabernet Sauvignon the same way, low intervention, low sulfur, and wild yeast fermentation. She says their Cabernet does not smell like anywhere else in the world. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a Cabernet for Italian wine lovers,&rdquo; she said, indicating a rustic quality. Willcock explains Vasse Felix is by far the most prominent winery using wild yeast fermentation for red wine in Western Australia.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I found the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon to be elegance personified. Black fruit, cassis, dried savory herbs, dusty cocoa, cracked pepper, dried roses, and a touch of forest floor dazzle the nose and follow through on the palate. Rich, bold, and wild, a gorgeous Cabernet that will benefit from age to further integrate. I&rsquo;m in love.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Willcock is paying it forward. When she got her start, only 10% of winemakers in Australia were women. Today that number has risen to 50%, but with a high rate of attrition. She explains she was in a class full of boys, but never saw herself as different. She laughingly claims to be missing the part of her brain that cares if she is different. Her strong nature sends a signal that she is not to be messed with. &ldquo;I have never felt intimidated by a man in the wine industry and never felt I did not get a job because I am a woman,&rdquo; she says.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Many young female winemakers seek to intern with Willcock. She shares, &ldquo;When they arrive they are quiet mice, but leave as strong as an ox because I give them freedom.&rdquo; Willcock believes her relaxed nature offers unspoken permission to these young interns that being themselves is okay. She wants them to relax and enjoy learning to make wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Vasse Felix wines reflect the bold, elegant individualism of their winemaker. Willcock says she herself is still learning and discovering; adding, &ldquo;The more I know, the more I realize how much I don&rsquo;t know.&rdquo; However, &ldquo;I love it and I couldn&rsquo;t imagine doing anything else.&rdquo;</p> Tue, 25 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7070 Expert Recipes for Wine Lovers Christina Pirello <p>I come from an Italian family of true food lovers. It seemed to me that every moment we celebrated, mourned, discussed, or marked was centered around a feast.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> As I grew, the passionate way my family communicated (translation: yelling) proved to be too much for me. I was deemed &ldquo;sensitive&rdquo; or &ldquo;delicate&rdquo; because the noise of their boisterous conversations and debates would leave me jittery and nervous. I noticed, though, that none of that drama crossed the threshold to the kitchen. In that fragrant room, people cooked and worked in perfect harmony, telling stories, sipping wine, laughing, smiling, sharing tips and ideas. No one was allowed to argue, cry or create havoc in the kitchen. &ldquo;Take it outside&rdquo; was the refrain should any &ldquo;senza senso&rdquo; (nonsense) find its way into the room.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I asked my father to build me a step stool so I could reach the counter to learn more by watching and helping my mother, and I have never looked back from the stove. To this day, the kitchen is precious; cooking is my job, but I love every second of my time in this room. Here are some pairings I love with recipes from my new book, <a href=""><strong>Back to the Cutting Board</strong></a>.<br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Candied Parsnip and Carrot Tatin</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pairs With: <a href=""><strong>Nero D&rsquo;Avola</strong></a> from <a href=""><strong>Sicily</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This pretty cake is a splendid sweet and savory side dish.&nbsp; Smothered in caramelized, sweet root vegetables, and topped with an orange-scented glaze.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Makes 6-8 servings<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Savory Cake:<br /><br /> 2 &frac12; cups whole wheat pastry or sprouted whole wheat flour<br /><br /> generous pinch sea salt<br /><br /> 2 teaspoons baking powder<br /><br /> 2 teaspoons sesame seeds<br /><br /> 1 teaspoon baking soda<br /><br /> 2 teaspoons sesame seeds<br /><br /> 1 teaspoon dried basil<br /><br /> 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed<br /><br /> Generous pinch sea salt<br /><br /> 1/4 cup avocado or extra-virgin olive oil<br /><br /> 1/2 &ndash; 1 cup unsweetened almond, oat, or soy milk<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Topping:<br /><br /> 2 teaspoons avocado or extra-virgin olive oil<br /><br /> 4 small carrots, halved lengthwise<br /><br /> 4 small parsnips, halved lengthwise<br /><br /> Organic soy sauce, to taste<br /><br /> 4 tablespoons brown rice syrup<br /><br /> Grated zest of 1 orange<br /><br /> Juice of 1 orange<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Preheat oven to 350&deg;F. In a medium bowl, combine the dry flour, baking powder, sesame seeds, baking soda, basil, rosemary, and sea salt and mix well. Set aside.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Begin the topping: Heat the oil in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet (I like cast iron for this recipe) over medium-high heat. Stir in the carrot and parsnip halves, season lightly with the soy sauce, and stir until shiny with oil. Arrange the vegetables in a decorative pattern, covering the bottom of the pan. Add the brown rice syrup, and orange zest and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the glaze reduces is thick and syrupy and the veggies are golden brown, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally so you can feel the glaze thicken. Remove from the heat and add stir in the orange juice. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mix the oil into the dry cake ingredients, and then slowly add stir in the &lsquo;milk&rsquo; until a smooth, spoonable batter forms. Spoon the batter evenly over the cooked vegetables, taking care not to disturb your pattern. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the center of the cake springs back to the touch. Cool the cake for about 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the rim of the skillet to loosen the cake. Place your serving platter over the skillet and carefully invert the cake. If any of the vegetables stick to the pan, simply remove them and replace them on the cake top. Serve warm or hot.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Fried Tofu with Black Bean Sauce on Scallion Pancakes</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pairs with: <a href=""><strong>Vernaccia</strong></a> from <a href=""><strong>San Gimignano</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Calm, cool tofu comes together with dramatic, spicy beans to create a centered focus, with vitality to burn. Dishes like this make you &ldquo;simmer,&rdquo;, so your energy doesn&rsquo;t fail you.&nbsp; Served over a simple scallion pancake, this dish is a meal on its own.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Makes 4-5 servings<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Scallion Pancakes:<br /><br /> 1 cup whole wheat pastry or sprouted whole wheat flour<br /><br /> 1/4 teaspoon sea salt<br /><br /> 1/2 teaspoon baking powder<br /><br /> 1/4 teaspoon sea salt<br /><br /> 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons avocado oil, divided<br /><br /> &frac12;-2/3 cup spring or filtered water<br /><br /> 3-4 scallions, finely minced<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fried Tofu:<br /><br /> 1 pound extra firm tofu, 1-inch cubes<br /><br /> Avocado or sunflower oil, for frying<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Black Bean Sauce:<br /><br /> 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil<br /><br /> 1 jalapeno pepper, diced; do not seed<br /><br /> 1 red onion, diced<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> organic soy sauce<br /><br /> 1 cup winter squash, finely diced<br /><br /> 1 cup fresh/frozen organic corn kernels, fresh or frozen<br /><br /> Dash organic soy sauce<br /><br /> 2 cups cooked black turtle beans<br /><br /> spring or filtered water<br /><br /> 2-3 fresh scallions, thinly sliced, for serving<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Prepare the pancake batter by combining the flour, salt and baking powder, and salt. Use a pastry blender or two knifes to cut in the oil until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Slowly mix in the water to create a thin (but not runny) pancake batter. Fold in the scallions. Cover and let the batter rest for 15 minutes before proceeding.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Meanwhile, cube tofu and pat the tofu cubes dry. Heat about 1/4-inch oil in a deep skillet and shallow fry the tofu until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper and set aside.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Prepare the black bean sauce by heating the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saut&eacute; the jalapeno and onion with a pinch of salt for 1 minute. Add the winter squash and corn, with a splash of soy sauce and saut&eacute;&rsquo; 1-2 minutes more. Mash half the beans with a fork or potato masher and mix in with balance of cooked beans. Stir beans into the skillet with the remaining beans. Season lightly with soy sauce and add a small amount of spring or filtered water. Stir in the fried tofu cubes.&nbsp; Cover and simmer over very low heat for 5-7 minutes while you make the scallion pancakes. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Make the pancakes: Pre-heat oven to 200&deg;F. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Drop tablespoons of batter in the hot oil to make 3-inch pancakes. Cook until golden brown, turning once to brown both sides. Transfer the pancakes to a baking sheet and then to a warm oven while making the balance of pancakes. You should be able to make 8-10 pancakes.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> To serve, place 2 pancakes each on 4-5 individual plates. Top generously with tofu and black beans. Sprinkle with scallion slices and serve hot.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cook&rsquo;s Tip: Use seasonal vegetables, so I to vary this dish. In summer, swap out the winter squash for zucchini or yellow squash.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Apple-Cranberry Crisp</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pair with: <a href=""><strong>Prosecco</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sweet and tart fruit covered by a tender, cakelike topping is one of the most wonderful, homey desserts. Easy to make, delicious, and beautiful, you get it all with this one. Baking the fruit gentles its simple sugars, and the topping gives you the satisfaction of flour without eating too much of it. The tart flavor of the cranberries balances the sweet apples perfectly. I love to serve this with a cold glass of sparkling prosecco to make any evening a bit more festive.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Makes about 8 servings<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fruit filling<br /><br /> 3 to 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced<br /><br /> &frac34; cup unsweetened dried cranberries<br /><br /> 1 tablespoon avocado or extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking pan<br /><br /> 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder<br /><br /> 2 tablespoons Suzanne&rsquo;s Specialties brown rice syrup<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Topping<br /><br /> &frac12; cup rolled oats<br /><br /> 1 cup whole wheat pastry or sprouted whole wheat flour<br /><br /> &frac12; cup rolled oats<br /><br /> 1 teaspoon baking powder<br /><br /> 1 teaspoon ground allspice<br /><br /> &frac12; teaspoon ground ginger<br /><br /> 1/8 teaspoon sea salt<br /><br /> 1 teaspoon baking powder<br /><br /> &frac12; teaspoon ground ginger<br /><br /> 1 teaspoon ground allspice<br /><br /> &frac14; cup avocado or extra virgin olive oil<br /><br /> &frac12; cup Suzanne&rsquo;s Specialties brown rice syrup<br /><br /> &frac14; cup avocado or extra-virgin olive oil<br /><br /> About &frac12; cup unsweetened almond, soy or other non-dairy milk<br /><br /> &frac12; cup coarsely minced pecans<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Preheat oven to 350&deg;F (175C). Lightly oil a 9-inch &ndash;square baking dish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Make the filling: Mix the apples and cranberries with the oil until coated. Stir in the arrowroot and brown rice syrup and spread evenly in the prepared pan.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Make the topping: Combine oats, flour, salt, baking powder, spices, and sea salt in a medium bowl. Mix in the brown rice syrup and oil to make a soft dough. Slowly mix in in the &ldquo;milk&rdquo; to make a thick, spoonable batter. Fold in the pecans.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Spoon the topping, by dollops, over the surface of the fruit, covering it almost completely, but allowing some fruit to peek through.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Bake about 30-35 minutes, or until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden and firm. Serve warm.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Christina Pirello, MFN, is one of America&rsquo;s preeminent authorities on a healthier lifestyle utilizing natural and whole foods.&nbsp; Christina studied and became an expert in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, acupuncture, macrobiotics and earned a Masters Degree in Nutrition. Utilizing her internationally-respected TV show &ldquo;Christina Cooks&quot; and her many books she is: &ldquo;Changing the Health of the World One Meal at a Time.&rdquo; She has authored seven cookbooks on the subject of healthy eating and natural living. Her newest cookbook, &lsquo;Back to the Cutting Board&rsquo; is due out in September, 2018 and is designed to re-inspire our love of cooking.</em></p> Wed, 19 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400 article7067