Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Sat, 19 Aug 2017 21:10:26 -0400 Sat, 19 Aug 2017 21:10:26 -0400 Snooth The Last Wines of Summer Snooth Editorial <p>Apples, gourds, and snifters of port are right around the corner. Let&rsquo;s cherish the last bits of summer before they&rsquo;re all gone. Here are four choice picks, all under fifteen dollars, from some of the web&rsquo;s top palates. Each one pairs well with sand and suntans. Cheers!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Old Reliable Savvy-B</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The 2016 Crowded House Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand (SRP $12.95), earned a score of 91 points at the 2017 <em>Decanter </em>World Wine Awards as a best value buy and for good reason. This Sauvignon Blanc, the result of a drought year, is intense, concentrated, and succulent. The tangy, citrusy acidity is accompanied by an unexpectedly luscious mouthfeel, thanks to <em>sur lie</em> aging. Tropical fruits and freshly-cut herbs collide on the palate. This wine is all at once juicy and sumptuous, lively, yet supple. The long finish is mouth-wateringly tart, complex, and clean. At this price point and quality, you cannot go wrong with buying this in bulk to pair with your summer.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Elizabeth Smith</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Traveling Wine Chick</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Ros&eacute; in the Right Vessel</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Summertime and the livin&rsquo; is easy. You&rsquo;re off to the beach, picnics in the park, pool parties, hiking, camping, outdoor concerts or just chillin&rsquo; on the patio. If you&rsquo;re a wine aficionado, then you need a wine that&rsquo;s easy. And by &ldquo;easy&rdquo; I don&rsquo;t mean plonk. Life&rsquo;s too short!&nbsp; By easy, I mean it pairs well with a wide range of summer fare from salads to burgers to BBQ and offers superb portability. That&rsquo;s why my recommendation for an under $15 summer wine is a canned wine - the 2016 Alloy Wine Works Everyday Rose. It&rsquo;s a vibrant blend of 70% Grenache, Mourv&egrave;dre, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc that comes in a 500ml tallboy can, which is equivalent to over three glasses of wine. It has a refreshing and dry fresh strawberry, watermelon and peach character with hints of guava and mint leaf. It&rsquo;s a great example of the canned wine segment which has seen triple digit growth the last few years. It&rsquo;s a quality wine made by Andrew Jones of California&rsquo;s Field Recording winery from hand-picked Central Coast grapes. Since it&rsquo;s canned wine no wine opener, or glasses required (although I think it tastes better from a glass because the aromas aren&rsquo;t muted. Bring an unbreakable glass for maximum enjoyment). It&rsquo;s recyclable and will stay chilled in a koozie. Worried about it having a metallic taste? Forget about it!&nbsp; Like other beverages sold in cans, none of the can wines I&rsquo;ve tasted have had any tinny flavor. Grab a can, throw it in a cooler or your backpack and pair it with warm summer nights, dinner outdoors, friends and good times! It&rsquo;s summer time! $6.50/can; $30/4-pack; 12.5% abv.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Martin Redmond</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>ENOFYLZ Blog</strong></a><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>The Cava Craze</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I like to beat the summer heat with ice cold bubbles. Cava is the smart buyer&#39;s choice, with the highest quality to price ratio for sparkling wines. Only wines made using the same traditional method used to make champagne can be labelled as &#39;cava&#39;, but it usually is made with local (Spanish) grapes that can thrive in Spain&#39;s hot growing season. My pick this summer is Cristalina Cava Brut by Jaume Serra. This delightful sparkling wine has aromas of flowers and toast with very fine bubbles. Flavors of apple, pear and blood orange zest with a crisp, fresh, and lively mouthfeel complete the profile for the low SRP of $10/bottle, cheap enough to be your daily drink! And if you were planning a summer of ros&eacute;, well you are in luck: Serra offers his Cristalina Cava Brut Ros&eacute; at the same price point, made with pinot noir and trepat grapes and offering a strawberry-cherry taste profile. What&#39;s not to love?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jim van Bergen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>JvB UnCorked</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> Back in April, I was given the great pleasure of visiting Catalonia, Spain. As one can guess, I tasted lots and lots of Cava &ndash; the Spanish sparkling wine that is made in a similar, high quality, fashion as Champagne... yet there are variants in their process. One of the biggest differences is that Cava uses Catalan grape varieties as well as the main Champagne varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Segura Viudas has been a huge proponent for using the Catalan varieties such as Macabeo, Parellada and the Xarel&middot;lo, yet during my visit to their impressive winery, I had a chance to try their sparkling Segura Viudas Cava Ros&eacute;, made with 90% Trepat and 10% Garnacha. What is Trepat? Well, that was my question too! It is a local variety that they are trying to save that gives pretty purple flowers and raspberry flavors with a hint of dried leaves and pepper&hellip; this wine also had some wild strawberry notes with a chalky finish. And all for only 9 bucks! You heard me&hellip; NINE dollars!!! Why has it taken me so long to drink Cava Ros&eacute;?!? And let me tell you something, after riding around on a bike across the Segura Viudas vineyards, and finally stationing ourselves at the top of one of their plots with an incredible view, there was no other wine that could have been more perfect than a Cava Ros&eacute; made with local grapes. The whole time I was in Spain, everyone kept saying that the Spanish have a long history of not marketing themselves well&hellip; hence why Cava is extremely undervalued. All I can say is to start drinking all the Cava you can get your hands on now before they become savvier at promoting themselves!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cathrine Todd</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dame Wine</strong></a></p> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6963 Spanish Wines in the Shadows John Downes <p>Navarra may sound like a dusty desert town in an old Western movie but in reality it&rsquo;s a little known wine region that&rsquo;s been overshadowed by Rioja, its illustrious neighbour in northern Spain, for years. The region is renowned for its roses (Rosado) but in recent times Navarra&rsquo;s reds and whites are fast gaining reputation. The vineyards are located around the attractive city of Pamplona and lie on the slopes of the Pyrenees as they descend towards the river Ebro; the region&rsquo;s high altitude mountainous sites inject a nice crack of acidity into these black fruit beauties.<br /> Pamplona may be better known for its annual festival when crazy death-wish youths run rampaging bulls through the narrow streets, but this busy attractive city is Navarra&rsquo;s vinous heart. The city and Navarra&rsquo;s vineyards are also a popular sector of the famous &lsquo;Santiago de Compostela&rsquo; pilgrimage walk across the breadth of northern Spain and are therefore steeped in history having sustained weary travellers for centuries.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The vineyards are planted with the typical Spanish red varieties of Tempranillo (about 37 per cent of the total), Garnacha (26%) and Graciano whilst the Bordeaux grape duo of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot add their classic blackcurrant and damson flavours to the juicy reds. The red varieties have a bumper 95% share of the vines to produce reds and roses but, that said, don&rsquo;t write off the whites (Chardonnay is making its mark) even though they&rsquo;re scarce and can require a second mortgage. About a quarter of Navarra&rsquo;s production is Garnacha based rose so you&rsquo;ll easily find a bottle to share with friends.<br /><br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> The region has a continental climate (long hot summers and cold winters) and is divided into 5 sub zones namely Valdizarbe, Tierra Estella (the picturesque, mountainous, limestone zone to the west of Valdizarbe), Ribera Alta (centred around the important wine town of Olite), Baja Montana (to the north-east) and Ribera Baja (in the south adjacent to the River Ebro; sandy alluvial soils). Ribera Baja is the largest sub zone in terms of area and number of wineries.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Navarrans are very proud of their gnarled &lsquo;old Garnacha vines&rsquo; as some are over 60 years old. By the way, Garnacha is the same as France&rsquo;s Grenache grape loved by all southern Rhone quaffers. The &lsquo;old vines&rsquo; don&rsquo;t yield as much as young vines but the good news is that as the vines concentrate all their goodies into fewer grapes the flavours in the glass are more concentrated.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s therefore worth looking out for &lsquo;old vines&rsquo; on the label and paying the extra dollar or two.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I&rsquo;m a fan of the 2010 reds. The 2012&rsquo;s are crisp and juicy whilst the cooler 2013 vintage produced a fresher style so, ring the changes this weekend and pull a Navarra red off the shelf instead of your usual Rioja. Or, better still buy a bottle of each and compare these Spanish neighbours with your neighbours.</p> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6962 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>The Lost Distillery Company &ndash; Jericho ($43):</strong> The Lost Distillery Company produces Scotch Whiskies that echo and are inspired by distilleries that closed long ago for one reason or another, often due to simple economics. Jericho was a Highland Distillery; this Scotch is a modern interpretation of what a Jericho Blended Malt Scotch would taste like today. The Jericho Distillery was in operation for 80 years, from 1824-1913. It was located in a remote area which helped it stay under the radar in the years prior to distillation becoming legal. Jordan Burn, a local source for clear water was used. Additionally the area was well known for barley production and the local hills were loaded with peat, all contributing factors to the Scotch that was produced.<br /> The deep, coppery hue stands out when you pour Jericho. Aromas of toasted wheat and citrus are prominent on the nose. Toasted pecan, wisps of dark chocolate and dried apricot dominate the palate. The finish shows off chicory, vanilla, and bits of dried, savory herbs.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Lost Distillery Company is a fascinating producer unlike any other. They&rsquo;re dedicated to recreating the history of Scotch and I&rsquo;ll be fascinated to taste what they add to the portfolio over time.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Jericho is a well-priced offering and it offers plenty of depth and complexity sipped neat. However it&rsquo;s reasonable price point means blending it into a cocktail isn&rsquo;t out of the question. It seemed appropriate to use Jericho to create an old time classic so I tried it in a Rob Roy and the results were delicious.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Rob Roy</strong><br /><br /> 2 Parts Jericho Scotch<br /><br /> 3&frasl;4 Part Sweet vermouth<br /><br /> 3 Dashes Angostura bitters<br /><br /> 1 Cherry<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Add all the ingredients (besides the cherry) into a shaker filled with ice, cover and shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the cherry.</p> Tue, 15 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6961 It’s Time to Rethink Cava Michelle Williams <p>What comes to mind when I say Cava? Perhaps your initial thoughts are inexpensive and great for mimosas or other sparkling cocktails. Cava has suffered a bit of an identity crisis. Though sales are strong, consumers are often buying it as a base for a sparkling mixer, selecting the first Cava on the shelf or the one with the prettiest bottle. However, Cava is a diverse sparkling wine often crafted in the highest quality; therefore, it is time to give Cava a second look.<br /> Cava can be produced anywhere in Spain; however, the Pened&egrave;s region, located in Catalonia about an hour from Barcelona, is the birth place of Cava and produces the highest volume of Cava. Cava is produced using the same Methode Traditional as Champagne. In its early days Cava was produced using French grapes in order to rival Champagne. However, after the phylloxera epidemic hit Spain in 1887, most of the French grapes were destroyed, which led to a decision to replant grapes indigenous to the region. This was an important step in distinguishing Cava from Champagne and allowing it to have its own unique journey. Today the three main grapes used to craft Cava are Xarel-lo, Macabeo, and Parellada. Chardonnay is still used by some as a blending grape, and Pinot Noir, along with Garnacha, Trepat, are often used to craft Ros&eacute; Cava.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Although Cava has set itself apart from Champagne, it has maintained its use of Methode Traditional to insure it is crafted using the highest quality process. The grapes are first fermented into a still wine, followed by a second fermentation taking place in the bottle that creates the bubbles. The process birthed the name Cava, which means cave, because the minimum aging for Cava is 9 months, with some aging 30 months or more. Furthermore, most Cava is vintage, meaning each bottle is crafted only of grapes from a specific year; therefore, producers use miles of caves under the wineries so the wine can ferment in the bottle in a cool, dark, still environment.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In the Pened&egrave;s region there is a bounty of producers crafting high quality Cava in a variety of forms. Juv&eacute; y Camps crafts Cava with an artisanal spirit. The<strong> 2013 Reserva de la Familia ($20)</strong> is a classic Cava, the workhouse of the winery, floral and fruity, bright on the palate, no dosage so it is crisp, dry, and refreshing. However, the <strong>2012 Gran Juv&eacute; y Camps ($49)</strong> and <strong>2006 La Capella Gran Reserva Brut</strong> demonstrate that additional time on the less, 42 months and ten years respectively, result in luxurious Cava with tremendous depth and elegance.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Segura Viudas, owned by Freixenet, is a well-known and trusted Cava producer for good reason. The <strong>Brut Reserva ($9)</strong> and <strong>Gran Cuvee Reserva ($14)</strong>, both with 15 months on the lees, are classic Cavas widely enjoyed. However, the <strong>Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad ($25)</strong>, with 30 months on the lees, illustrates the possibility of bready notes, rich texture, and persistent bubbles of a well-crafted, aged Cava at an affordable price.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Gramona elevates aged Cava to its own level. This fifth generation winemaking family seeks to craft Cavas that are &ldquo;among the world&rsquo;s greatest sparkling wines.&rdquo; They utilize 100% biodynamic practices as well as age the Cava on the lees from 24 to 168 months. The <strong>2012 La Cuvee Gran Reserva ($21)</strong> and the <strong>2011 Imperial ($30)</strong> are classic representations of Cava, while the <strong>2009 Ill Lustros ( $49; 96 months)</strong>, <strong>2006 Celler Batlle ($85; 120 months)</strong>, and <strong>2001 Enoteca Brut Nature ( $234; 168 months)</strong> demonstrate the glorious possibilities of well-aged Cava and how it migrates from fresh and crisp to sultry, bready, rich, and luxurious.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> If Gramona represents out of the box Cava production, then Par&eacute;s Balt&agrave; has broken the box. They practice organic and biodynamic farming techniques in the vineyard, while using ancient amphoras and other vessels to experiment with winemaking. Their <strong>2010 Blanca Cusine Gran Reserva ($40)</strong> spent 60 months on lees, offering bright notes of almonds, marmalade, and flowers. If you can imagine a sexy Cava, this is it.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Finally, Roger Goulart understands Cava production through time. They prolong the aging process as much as is necessary to achieve the highest level of quality. The <strong>2014 Brut Reserva ($19)</strong> spent 18 months on the lees, leading to a classic Cava with a kiss of sweetness in a balanced and easy to drink sparkling wine. The <strong>2005 Gran Reserva ($78)</strong>, with 10 years on the lees, takes Cava to a higher level; elegantly bright and fresh, yet rich depth and texture creates an enduring and sophisticated mouth-feel.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The next time you are buying sparkling wine seek out one of these high quality Cavas and leave the orange juice behind.</p> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6956 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Empress 1908 Gin ($40):</strong> Empress 1908 Gin comes from British Columbia. It&rsquo;s immediately striking due to its all natural vivid blue color. That color comes from the infusion of the Butterfly Pea Blossom. It&rsquo;s hand crafted and eight botanicals are utilized. When mixed with other ingredients it changes color; the addition of citrus turns it a soft pink. While the color is fun and somewhat fascinating, the flavors and aromas are what really matter. A triumvirate of citrus, floral and herbal aromas in descending amounts light up the fresh and inviting nose. Sipped neat the flavors are vibrant and alive in stunning display of freshness. Zippy acid and white pepper notes join the continuing citrus and herbal notes through the palate and finish. This is a really solid offering that toes the line between traditional flavors and far more freshness and vigor than the Gins most of us grew up around.<br /> Of course when I think of Gin it&rsquo;s largely as a cocktail ingredient. So I decided to use Empress 1908 to make one of my favorite new summertime drinks, <strong>Friends.75</strong>. Dry Creek Valley&rsquo;s <strong>Pedroncelli Winery</strong> is celebrating their 90th anniversary this year. As part of that celebration they&rsquo;ve come up with this cocktail that utilizes their friends.white. This well priced wine ($13) is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Gew&uuml;rztraminer. It along with the Gin and other ingredients creates a delicious and incredibly refreshing cocktail. Mix up a pitcher full for your next party.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Friends.75</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> 4 Parts Pedroncelli Friends.White (chilled)<br /><br /> 1 Part Empress 1908 Gin<br /><br /> &frac34; Part St. Germain<br /><br /> Splash of Club Soda<br /><br /> Twist of Lemon<br /><br /> Sprig of mint<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fill a Collins glass with ice. Pour the wine and Gin over it. Fill with Club Soda. Add the lemon twist and mint. Stir and enjoy.</p> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6960 The Future of Emilio Moro Snooth Editorial <p>You already know and adore Emilio Moro. This winery is the jewel of Ribera del Duero.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Moro family, now four generations deep into winemaking, is known for expertly crafted Tinto Fino (a grape also known as Tempranillo). Since they began farming grapes the Moro family has used a specific Tinto Fino clone unrivaled in its specialness. The fruit clusters are small and loose which creates focused, concentrated and balanced flavors. This is just part of what gives Emilio Moro wines an unquestionable charisma.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> What you may not know is that the Moro family is defining the future of wine in Ribera del Duero. Enter: Cepa 21, the latest winery project from Emilio Moro.<br /> &ldquo;Cepa&rdquo; is the word for vine, and &ldquo;21&rdquo; refers to the twenty-first century. Cepa 21 demonstrates a wish to merge the past and present to forge a future for wine lovers. Here, the Moro family heritage is brought into a modern context. The latest technologies are employed as some of the world&rsquo;s most prized grapes are turned into superior wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There are a so many competing value brands on the market, but with Cepa 21 the consumer can feel assured of the Moro family seal. Take Cepa 21&rsquo;s Hito Rosato (100% Tinto Fino) as an example. It&rsquo;s bursting with delicate floral and ripe fruit characteristics sure to impress a wide array of palates. Have a case on hand for your next summer soir&eacute;e -- because it&rsquo;s a label you can trust.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Look for more from Cepa 21 as the Moro family continues to shape the future of what they&rsquo;ve helped to define.</p> Fri, 04 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6959 The Future of New Zealand Wine Cameron Douglas MS <p>The future of New Zealand wine is strong &ndash; both through local sales and, increasingly, export. International trade in wine remains highly competitive, market and margin-driven, and is always subject to the kindness or wrath of currencies trading - as well as Mother Nature&rsquo;s influence on the raw product. The climate change effects now noticeable in the northern hemisphere seem to be less evident so far in New Zealand with the weather mostly even and dramatic variation only every four or five years (2017 is not looking as good in areas as 2013 through 2016). The market for the benchmark wines of the world appears to be as strong as ever, irrespective of climate; red and white Burgundies, Spanish Rioja, American Cabernet, Austrian Gruner Veltliner, Argentinian Malbec are a few from a list that is at least one hundred strong, and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir can be included in this collection.<br /> There&rsquo;s no question that New Zealand produces fine wines. An increasing number of examples from varieties other than Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are getting noticed by Sommeliers and wine buyers. Some of these include: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Syrah, Methode Traditionnelle and Ros&eacute;.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Export statistics (taken from NZ Winegrowers) reflect an increase in demand for New Zealand wine in the USA (NZ$175 million 2007 to NZ$460 million 2016), United Kingdom (NZ$227 million to NZ$381 million in 2016) and Canada (NZ$33 million to NZ$107 million in 2016); the Netherlands and China are the next two on the list. Variety wise - Sauvignon Blanc leads the pack by a significant amount exported (68 million litres in 2008 to 182 million litres 2016); Pinot Noir (12 million litres in 2016), Chardonnay (6 million litres in 2016), Pinot Gris (almost 5 million litres in 2016), Merlot (1.9 million litres in 2016) and Sparkling wine (1.4 million litres in 2016). The export list has twenty-three varieties or styles reported in total. The average price for a NZ wine in the USA, UK and Canada is higher than for our closest and most competitive trading partner Australia.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The numbers themselves look solid, but are somewhat skewed by bulk wine exports, some very low FOB (Freight on Board) pricing and an expectation by many northern hemisphere consumers that New Zealand wine is or should be cheap. This is unfortunately an issue for the boutique or small volume producers wanting to compete on the international stage. Many of these wines are outstanding examples and sadly overlooked in favour of international counterparts, or they are deemed too expensive for a &lsquo;New Zealand&rsquo; wine. Some of the best wines available for export are held back by the bulk wine trade and &lsquo;cheap wine&rsquo; perceptions.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Even though New Zealand wine commands a higher price on average than its major competitor, this is somewhat skewed by the constant low price of many Australian wines, and imports from other countries that keep prices low and margins trim. The low-price drive of the 1990s remains a challenge for Wines Australia to overcome despite significant investment taking place to rebrand the wine globally (and a similar focus on higher quality examples).<br /><br /> <br /><br /> At home New Zealand wine sells extremely well, and in many cases producers are running out of stock sooner than expected &ndash; the roll over to 2016 Pinot Noir already is one example - many of these wines should be in the producer&rsquo;s warehouse for at least another year. Some companies are forced to release the next vintage early, or ask their loyal customers to hold off for the next formal release. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This does present certain challenges - including forecasting market demands, and the role the value of the New Zealand dollar plays in export sales (the lower the better). Planning twelve to thirty-six months ahead along with maintaining a capital budget that allows for market exploration as well as maintenance of current sales levels is a constant headache for many.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> One of the competitive advantages developed to meet these challenges has been to diversify and target multiple markets simultaneously &ndash; especially so for exports. This is best achieved by maintaining a portfolio of wines at multiple price points targeting different sectors of the market. These sectors include supermarket, fine retail, on-premise restaurant or hotel, and strategic international locations with specific hubs for distribution to consumers-direct, restaurants-direct where possible &ndash; and links with supermarket chains or specialty stores (think model). These efforts are designed to attract the attention of consumers and trade buyers across multiple price point thresholds.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> One excellent example of how this model can be successful is the Villa Maria brand, headed by industry icon Sir George Fistonich. Quality and consistency, over-delivering for the price, and being instantly recognisable visually are attributes of a successful model. Many of the Villa Maria wines are immediately noticeable, with white, copper-gold or black labels and a simple logo, and Private Bin, Cellar Selection and Reserve wines in the range under the same branding. Sir George ensures the winemakers for each of these have autonomy stylistically.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I have dined at international airport restaurants many times and often seen a Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc available by the glass at a very attractive price. In New York Villa Maria Reserve Pinot Noir is listed at Michelin Starred destination restaurants such as The Musket Room.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Villa Maria is a company that manages its market presence constantly and well, does not rest on its laurels and demonstrates that vision, persistence, patience, quality raw product and attention to detail can lift the value and enhance New Zealand wine&rsquo;s reputation. The future of New Zealand wine is strong, and while the road to market will always be challenging the rewards of sales and loyalty are available.</p> Fri, 04 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6958 Expert Reveals German Wine Secrets Snooth Editorial <p>It&rsquo;s no secret that we love German wines, but there&rsquo;s more to them than meets the eye. Germany is well known for superior winemaking, perfectly evolved grape varieties, and of course terroir. Tragically, so many wine drinkers get stuck on stereotypes and miss out on lots of delicious details. In this spirit, here are five German wine &ldquo;secrets&rdquo; you may not know about, as revealed by June Rodil, MS, Beverage Director for McGuire Moorman Hospitality Group.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>1. When it comes to white wine, there&rsquo;s more to Germany than Riesling.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> It&rsquo;s no wonder that Riesling is Germany&rsquo;s most widely planted grape variety. Wine drinkers around the world simply adore the stuff and demand is high. The cold-hardy variety is native to Germany and it&rsquo;s behind some of the world&rsquo;s most beloved white wines. But believe it or not, there is life after German Riesling! German Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Silvaner, to name a few, are flooring white wine palates everywhere. As June notes:<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;Alternatives to Riesling are plentiful and it&rsquo;s pretty hard to choose a favorite. Germany&rsquo;s climate is apt for pure, clean, fresh, and vibrant whites. Whether it&rsquo;s a Pinot Blanc that tastes like you&rsquo;re biting into a crunchy white peach or a heady and perfumed Gew&uuml;rztraminer &ndash; their finish is filled with verve that revitalizes the palate and readies it for more food. This summer, I&rsquo;ve been enjoying my fair share of Scheurebe and Silvaner &ndash; both have a lovely sweet herbaceous note to their aromas without being as aggressively green as Sauvignon Blanc. It doesn&rsquo;t hurt that most Silvaner from Franken comes in a nifty bottle called a Bocksbeutel that&rsquo;s both traditional and novel and an exceptionally great talking piece &ndash; just ask your sommelier for the translation of Bocksbeutel.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>2. The Password is: Sp&auml;tburgunder</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Since the mid-2000s or so, American wine drinkers have fallen head over heels for Pinot Noir. Guess what? Germany has been producing quality Pinot Noir under the name &ldquo;Sp&auml;tburgunder&rdquo; for ages. In fact, Germany is actually the third largest producer of Pinot Noir in the world. While Pinot lovers are distracted by over-hyped selections, Germany offers expertly crafted Pinot Noir at fantastic values. Plantings are on the rise as more wine drinkers demand these elegant interpretations of their favorite grape.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s about 100 degrees outside as I type this. I like red wine, but holy cow, it does not go with my disposition after running around on a day like today. Light, refreshing, thin-skinned reds that can be served with a slight chill are where it&rsquo;s at&mdash;and Sp&auml;tburgunder fulfills that and more. Don&rsquo;t forget how nuanced this grape is as well&mdash;not only does it easily allow you to forget your climate woes, it also gives you flavors like tart cherries with dried red African tea and river rocks. There&rsquo;s a lot going on in there but it&rsquo;s not overt, over oaked, or over the top. It doesn&rsquo;t throw itself at you, but, rather makes it easy for you to go back for more.&rdquo;</em><br /> <strong>3. Rah! Rah! For Ros&eacute;</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> The rallying cries are loud and proud -- from &ldquo;Yes Way, Ros&eacute;&rdquo; to &ldquo;Ros&eacute; All Day&rdquo;, the world is hooked on ros&eacute;! Popularity gives rise to imitation, so there&rsquo;s lots of random ros&eacute; out there nowadays. How will you know if you&rsquo;ve got the real deal? Centuries of skilled winemaking don&rsquo;t lie. German winemakers harvest the healthiest grapes first to make their ros&eacute; wines. This manages alcohol levels and ensures the best quality. Wine drinkers love this stuff, and it shows in the numbers. Total production increased from 6% to 11% between 2003 and 2016. That&rsquo;s 82 million liters of German ros&eacute;!<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;We can barely keep ros&eacute; on the shelf at any and all our restaurant locations and with so many options flooding the market, it&rsquo;s important to bring quality ros&eacute; to our guests. While ros&eacute; may be a small percentage of production for German winemakers, the care for exacting quality is at the same high level as the rest of their wines, and the price is just as competitive as the rest of the world. Trends are screaming for clean, dry, crisp, light bodied ros&eacute; from consumers&ndash;add complexity, balanced fruit and structure to that and it&rsquo;s difficult to walk away from these wines.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>4. Wait a Sekt, is that sparkling German wine?</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Sekt is both an endless source of fun wine puns and a remarkable German sparkling wine. Most of these wines are made in the Charmat method, which is perfect for preserving the intense aromatics of German varietals. Don&rsquo;t overlook these wines the next time you&rsquo;re celebrating a special occasion. These are quality bottles to have on hand for anniversaries, graduations, and of course, New Year&rsquo;s Eve.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;Bubbles make everyone happy and I applaud it in many different forms. Sekt can be an inviting change to what you may see on many retail shelves and wine lists: Prosecco, Cava, Champagne. And while those are wonderful examples, there should be room for well done sparkling wines that provide variety in aromatics and flavor, are still serious, but don&rsquo;t break the bank. Riesling, in all it&rsquo;s chameleon-like capacities, makes for wonderful Sekt with its floral undertones, natural tart citrus notes, and long finish.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>5. The story of Riesling is evolving. &nbsp;</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Lots of wine lovers enjoy a sweeter style of Riesling, but the trend has taken a turn for the dry. The demand for mineral-driven, dry German Rieslings is on the rise! Back in 1985, just 16% of German Rieslings were produced in a dry style. As of 2016, it&rsquo;s a whopping 46.3%. Pop a few dry Rieslings in your wine fridge to pair with virtually any meal. They&rsquo;re a perfect companion to ceviche, spare ribs, and even banana splits.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <em>&ldquo;I used to think that the gateway drug to Riesling was Liebfraumilch &hellip; it&rsquo;s not. Our palates have evolved and are now clamoring for dry dry dry! And while there is a special place in my heart for off-dry Riesling, the regal and universal nature of dry Riesling is evident. Those that think all Rieslings are off-dry or sweet are automatically taken aback and impressed with the fact that dry Rieslings exist, and those that laud the off-dry style cannot deny the powerful structure, longevity, and subtly delicious complexity of dry Riesling.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <em>Want more? #TasteTheNew with Wines of Germany on</em> <a href=""><strong>Facebook</strong></a>, <a href=""><strong>Twitter</strong></a>, <em>and </em><a href=""><strong>Instagram</strong></a>.</p> Mon, 31 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6957 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Ardbeg Kelpie Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky ($110):</strong> Every year the distillery celebrates Ardbeg Day. In addition to a party at the distillery itself they encourage aficionados of the brand to plan their own themed celebrations wherever in the world they are. They also release a limited Scotch each year tied to the event; this year Kelpie is that Scotch.<br /> Kelpie was aged in a combination of Virgin oak from the Black Sea coast and ex-Bourbon casks. Kelpie marks the first expression of Ardbeg that was aged using Black Sea coast oak. The name Kelpie comes from local lore passed down through many generations. The Kelpie is rumored to be a shape-shifting water creature. It was bottled at 46% ABV.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Prominent bits of smoke and toasted pecans are evident on the nose along with a solid core of briny aromas. The firm palate shows off dusty dark chocolate, dried apricot, continued bits of toasted nuts and hints of burnt sugar. The prodigious finish is spicy and intermingled with a combination of sweet and savory flavors that come together to form an impressive ending. Much like their regular portfolio Kelpie does a terrific job of melding big smoky characteristics with rich flavors and sweetness that create a multi-dimensional and deeply layered Scotch.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> If you&rsquo;re a fan of Peaty Scotches, certainly Ardbeg is on your go to list of Single Malts. If however you&rsquo;re new to Scotch in general or Peaty Scotches in particular, Ardbeg makes the perfect jumping off point. While they pride themselves on producing the most Peaty and Smoky Scotches out there, the offerings are always balanced by other characteristics that round them out. Kelpie is not exception, grab a bottle before it disappears into the night.<br /><br /> </p> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6955 Spanish Wines Get Specific John Downes <p>As the world&rsquo;s winemakers look to single vineyard wines to mark them out from the crowd, a trip through southern Spain with the Grandes Pagos de Espana took one-up-manship to a different level. Grab your passport and join me on this whistle stop tour.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Grandes Pagos de Espana are an association of top Spanish single wine estates, &ldquo;equivalent to the Grand Crus of Bordeaux and Burgundy&rdquo;, according to President Carlos Falco. There are 30 member estates spread throughout Spain from Rioja in the north to Jerez in the south. Look out for the black square logo on the back label. That said, I think the logo&rsquo;s too small and should include &ldquo;Single Estates of Spain&rdquo; below &ldquo;Grandes Pagos de Espana&rdquo; to better attract explain the concept to global consumers<br /> We flew into Madrid and then took a smooth 3 hour plus train journey south to Jerez &ndash; the train is a great way of seeing Spain by the way. We were welcomed by the Sherry Bodega of Valdespino and under the 30 degree (Celsius) sun walked the legendary white chalk (Albariza) Macharnudo vineyards before exploring their cathedral-like cellars, tasting wines that ranged from Fino (bone dry and nutty) to sweet, honeyed Moscatel. Crack open a bottle of Valdespino Don Gonzalo Dry Olorosso (about $25) as an aperitif when your guests arrive this weekend. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> A short drive from Jerez found us at Finca Moncloa where winemaker Jose Manuel Pinedo is passionate about blending classic varieties with traditional Tempranillo. Finca Moncloa ($20) is an attractive blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Tempranillo.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> From Jerez we drove east across the mountains to Ronda, the incredible white walled town that straddles its famous deep rock gorge; the wines from the region surprised me bigtime. After a barrel tasting in Los Aguilares&rsquo; cool winery we enjoyed their refreshing crushed strawberry (Tempranillo and Petit Verdot) Rosado 2014 in the vineyards under a 300 year old oak. At lunch we opened Aguilares&rsquo; acclaimed Tadeo 2012 (100% Petit Verdot) and Pago El Espino (Petit Verdot, Tempranillo and Merlot); price tags of $18 and $28 respectively. Aguilares&rsquo; Pinot Noir surprised me - how is it possible to make such a balanced wine from this most flirtatious of grapes in such a hot climate? Crisp and controlled, this red fruit beauty was an eye opener.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Then it was back to Madrid for a night on the town before an early start and the high speed train heading south-east to Albacete; we were there by 11.00 to be whisked off to Finca (Estate) Elez near El Bonillo, a small, deserted village in La Mancha. In the heart of Spain and the middle of nowhere at over 1000 metres above sea level, the daytime summer temperatures climb to 40 degrees plus; evidently no worries to the Tempranillo, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay vines. &lsquo;MM&rsquo; Escana barrel-aged Syrah 2007 showed well, the Escana Syrah 2013 even better. In case you&rsquo;re wondering, &lsquo;MM&rsquo; is the owner of the estate, the famous Spanish actor Manuel Manzaneque.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> A drive across the dry plains of La Mancha saw us in Bobal (grape) territory. At Finca Sandoval, a Bobal, Syrah and Monistrell (aka Mouvedre) blend grown on limestone soils in the cool 2013 vintage produced a crisp, tannin edged blackberry red of note.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> An hour&rsquo;s drive east saw us at Bodega Mustiguillo near Utiel, just 90 kilometres from Valencia where Bobal is still king. Some of their vines date back to 1919; these knurled vines, each yielding just three bunches produce dense, tannic wines. Tannin plays a big part in Bobal wines, so they&rsquo;re excellent with food &hellip; Mustiguillo&rsquo;s Quincha Corrall 2012 caught the eye &ndash; that&rsquo;s if you can stretch to an $80 price tag. If $25 sounds better, pull the cork on Mustiguillo&rsquo;s Finca Calvestra.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> At Mustiguillo I discovered a new white grape variety called Merseguera. I don&rsquo;t think Chardonnay will be losing too much sleep but it&rsquo;s well worth a try.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> A 300 kilometre car dash back to Madrid, the &lsquo;plane to London Gatwick and home to 13 degrees (Celsius); how to lose 20 degrees in just 2 hours! Happily I didn&rsquo;t lose the memories of an amazing country and some wonderful wines all linked by the Grandes Pagos de Espana label. You can check them out <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a>.</p> Fri, 14 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6953 This wine region is making waves. Snooth Editorial <p>This region may have a section at your local retailer, but perhaps you haven&rsquo;t noticed it yet. Then again, the wines may appear in the catchall &ldquo;Wines of the World&rdquo; section, where they are hidden gems in a sea of choice. They&rsquo;ve been enjoyed by wine drinkers for eons, but remained largely under the radar &ndash; until now. Finally, the wines of Israel are beginning to receive the recognition they deserve.<br /> Wine has been produced in Israel since Biblical times, perhaps longer than anywhere in the world. According to the authors of the Old Testament, Noah planted the first vines once the great flood subsided. From that point, there are several references to wines consumed by Moses, Micah, King David, and most notably Jesus. Ancient equipment has been found in archaeological&nbsp;sites as well as beneath parts of modern day facilities in the Golan Heights and as far as the Negev Desert. Israel made contributions to this growing industry, which spread throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean. A document dating to around 1800 BC was discovered stating Israel was &ldquo;...blessed with figs and vineyards producing wine in greater quantity than water.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This rich history continues to bear fruit in the twenty-first century. You may be familiar with Yarden, a premier Israeli label who cinched the Citadelles d&rsquo;Or at this year&rsquo;s VinExpo. The global gathering for major players in the wine and spirits industry has ratified the future of wines from Israel. The Citadelles du Vin competition is one of the most prestigious, accepting just 1,200 submissions from thirty countries. The Yarden Malbec (SRP: $33) took the title, and consumers are beginning to add Israel to their repertoire of regions they love.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Have you had a wine from Israel? It&rsquo;s time to take a taste.</p> Fri, 14 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6954 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Booker&rsquo;s Bourbon: </strong>In their nearly 30 year history, Booker&rsquo;s Bourbon has become well known for several things in the Whiskey world. They&rsquo;re one of a handful of Bourbon&rsquo;s that&rsquo;s bottled uncut and released at cask strength. Booker&rsquo;s was created by Booker Noe, who in addition to being a 6th generation Master Distiller was also the Grandson of Jim Beam. Moving forward to the present, Booker&rsquo;s son, Fred Noe selects every batch of Booker&rsquo;s to ascertain that it meets the flavor profile and standard that his Dad set forth.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Booker&rsquo;s Bourbon &ldquo;Blue Knight&rsquo;s Batch&rdquo; ($75):</strong> The Blue Knight Batch is the second Batch released as part of the 2017 collection. It honors the relationship that developed over many years between Booker Noe and the Blue Knights Motorcycle Club. This batch was made using Bourbon produced on 4 different dates and located in 4 different warehouses. It was 6 years, 3 months and 6 days old when bottled at its natural proof of 127.4.<br /> There&rsquo;s a duality to this Bourbon that starts from the first whiff and continues to the last bit reverberating at the back of your throat. That dichotomy is the tension that exists between the &ldquo;big&rdquo; nature of everything here, flavors and aromas versus the great proportion it ultimately maintains. Mexican vanilla bean, toasted pecan and wisps of oak are evident on the nose along with a hint of leather. Dried fig and date flavors along with spice and continued references to roasted nuts dominate the deeply layered and intense palate. The impressively long finish shows off dried apricot, white pepper and bits of heat.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Booker&rsquo;s Blue Knight Batch is aimed at sipping neat, over ice, or with a touch of water. It&rsquo;s distinct and delicious served like that, but it&rsquo;s also a tremendously high quality cocktail component. I tried my hand at several classics using <strong>Blue Knight Batch</strong>, but this was my favorite.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Boulevardier</strong><br /><br /> 2 Parts Booker&rsquo;s Bourbon Blue Knight Batch<br /><br /> 1.5 Parts Campari<br /><br /> 1 part Sweet Red Vermouth<br /><br /> Orange Twist<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pour the Bourbon, Campari, and Vermouth into a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and pour into a Rocks Glass filled with ice. Garnish with and Orange Twist.</p> Tue, 11 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6951 What it means to be a wine icon. Mark Angelillo <p>There are lots of wine brands out there, but only some can be called iconic. These brands shape winemaking in a forward-positive direction. They lead the charge on new initiatives and dare to be different. They are established purveyors of consistent quality.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Just a few weeks ago I had the opportunity dig deeper into an icon of this type. Villa Maria has paved the way for New Zealand wines since Sir George Fistonich bottled his first vintage in 1961. The winery &ndash; still family owned &ndash; has helped put New Zealand wines on the map. Villa Maria is New Zealand&rsquo;s most awarded winery for good reason. In the words of Sir George Fistonich himself,&nbsp; &quot;...the desire to leave something for the next generation is an ever-present and overriding business objective&rdquo;.&nbsp; Villa Maria has shown a commitment to organic and sustainable farming practices. They&rsquo;ve created a line of wines suitable for every palate and occasion. The wine, and the consumer, always comes first.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Fan favorite winemaker Helen Morrison <a href=""><strong>joined me live, in the company of forty wine writers, to discuss Villa Maria&rsquo;s past, present, and future</strong></a>. We tasted through a selection of six wines from the Villa Maria portfolio, <a href=""><strong>still available today on Snooth at a great price</strong></a>. Read more about them below and pick up a set of your own.<br /> New Zealand offers a unique &ndash; and delicious &ndash; perspective on well-known varieties like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. This collection of Villa Maria wines demonstrates why New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are canon, but also shows the wide range and depth that is possible from others varietals.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Villa Maria Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc 2015</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Recently made available in the United States, Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc is turning heads this summer. Sauvignon Blanc lovers jump at the chance to enjoy a favorite varietal in the frizzante style. A little sparkle injects an extra bit of celebration into any occasion. <a href=""><strong>Wine writer Martin Redmond</strong></a> finds &quot;passion fruit, lime, grapefruit and a bit of green apple flavors&quot; on the palate. He notes, &quot;&hellip;this a fun, vibrant wine whose affinity for food is amplified by its effervescence&hellip;pair with fish tacos, deep-fried seafood, pasta with light cream sauce (pasta with clams comes to mind).&rdquo;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2016</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Villa Maria has helped bring New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to great renown. Here, that signature dash of capsicum you&rsquo;ve come to love from New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc rides on a wave of delightfully tropical citrus. <a href=""><strong>Wine writer Cindy Rynning</strong></a> notes &ldquo;powerful aromas of gooseberry, white flowers, flint, fresh citrus, subtle herbs, and ocean breeze.&rdquo; This Sauvignon Blanc is created to be consistent, as <a href=""><strong>wine writer Nancy Brazil</strong></a> says, &ldquo;Find a [Villa Maria] wine you like in this range and you can be sure it will taste the same to you each vintage, a quality many consumers appreciate.&rdquo;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Villa Maria Private Bin Bay Ros&eacute; 2016</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong><a href="">Wine writer Wanda Mann</a></strong> notes, &ldquo;With the unwavering popularity of Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, it is easy to forget that this island nation in the south-west Pacific Ocean produces an array of beautiful wines.&rdquo; Ros&eacute;, a favorite among wine drinkers from casual to serious, is a New Zealand wine to remember. Villa Maria&rsquo;s Merlot-based ros&eacute; is part of their Private Bin collection. Private Bin wines represent Villa Maria&rsquo;s commitment to approachable, consistent quality wines at fantastic values. <a href=""><strong>Wine writer Jim van Bergen</strong></a> notes &ldquo;fresh-cut wildflowers and berry compote&rdquo; on the nose, with &ldquo;fresh strawberries&hellip;ginger, lemon pepper, and allspice&rdquo; on the palate. It calls for an Amaretto chicken pairing, says <a href=""><strong>wine writer David Nerishi</strong></a>.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Villa Maria Taylor&rsquo;s Pass Chardonnay 2015</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> This wine is part of Villa Maria&rsquo;s Single Vineyard tier. These wines put terroir front and center. Minimal intervention is a key to their success, and distinct vineyard characteristics shine in every glass. <a href=""><strong>Wine writer Michael Chelus</strong></a> points to Helen Morrison&rsquo;s &ldquo;deft touch&rdquo; which has created an &ldquo;excellent balance between oak and fruit&rdquo; in this wine. The Chardonnay is grown in Marlborough&rsquo;s Atawere Valley. Generally the Awatere Valley is quite windy, but Taylor&rsquo;s Pass vineyard enjoys an advantage. It is tucked away in a corner of the valley, which shields the grapes from extreme wind and enhances ripening. <a href=""><strong>Wine writer Michelle Williams</strong></a> finds &ldquo;pronounced aromas of ripe stone fruit, apples, lemon zest, buttered brioche and nutmeg&rdquo; in the glass.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2014</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> These grapes hail from both the Awatere and Wairau Valleys in Marlborough. Cooling ocean influences ensure that the Pinot Noir&rsquo;s delicate nuances are preserved. <a href=""><strong>Wine writer Anatoli Levine</strong></a> points to &ldquo;Oregonian notes of dark power, espresso, mocha, with a sweet core of cherries and plums.&rdquo;&nbsp; <a href=""><strong>Wine writer Pamela Heiligenthal</strong></a> suggests pairing it with &ldquo;vodka and dill cured gravlax served with capers and red onion accompanied with a biale pastry.&rdquo;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Villa Maria Cellar Selection Merlot-Cabernet 2013</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> These grapes hail from the Hawkes Bay region. The area is defined by its patchwork of soils coupled with additional warmth and less rain &ndash; ideal for both Merlot and Cabernet. Here, the winemaker has expertly blended sixty percent Merlot, thirty-two percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and eight percent Cabernet Franc to achieve perfect pitch. This was <a href=""><strong>wine writer Jeff Burrows</strong></a>&rsquo; top pick of the evening. New Zealand&rsquo;s cool climate allows for a &ldquo;sexy and elegant interpretation of Merlot and Cabernet&rdquo;, he says.&nbsp; <a href=""><strong>Wine writer Will Pollard</strong></a> notes &ldquo;black fruit, spice, rich with blueberry, chocolate, tar and blackberry on the long lingering finish.&rdquo; He suggests pairing the wine with &ldquo;beef, mushrooms or anything off of the grill&rdquo;, but also says it can be enjoyed alone &ndash; a high compliment for any wine. &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> To bring it all together, <a href=""><strong>wine writer Rick Fillmore</strong></a> delivers with an excellent quote: &ldquo;Most wine stores only seem to stock Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in their New Zealand section but there are so many more good varietals out there&hellip;&rdquo; He suggests speaking to our local retailers and requesting more Villa Maria wines from the entire portfolio, and I couldn&rsquo;t agree more. Villa Maria represents the success of the New Zealand wine industry in the 20th and 21st centuries. Fifty years later, the winery continues to lead the charge.</p> Tue, 11 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6952 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p>Tequila continues to be one of the hottest spirits in the world. People love to mix it into cocktails, drink it neat and even infuse it with other flavors. So it&rsquo;s not surprising that the Sebastiani family would get into the Tequila business through 3 Badge Mixology, their Spirits Company. They work with a third generation master tequilero, Felipe Camarena to create their portfolio of Tequilas. The name Pasote is derived from the spirit of Aztec Warriors. Everything about the packaging of the Pasote Tequila&rsquo;s aligns with that. The bottles are comprised of handmade glass. Each is unique as they contain slight irregularities in shape as well as patterns. The labels are screen printed on; each expression features a different Aztec image. Beautiful packaging is nice, but it wouldn&rsquo;t matter much if the contents of the bottles weren&rsquo;t also well made and delicious; thankfully they are.<br /> <strong>Pasote Blanco Tequila ($49):</strong> Pasote Blanco is produced from agave grown in the Highlands of Jalisco. Pasote utilizes rainwater and natural spring water in their distillation process. The agave is grown by their master tequilero. The moment you stick your nose in the glass the aromas of fresh Agave leap out. Tangerine rind and a gentle hint of thyme are present as well. Taking the first sip a sense of purity envelops your senses. Agave nectar, continued citrus and hints of vanilla are all in evidence. The finish is long, lingering and pure with all of the prior characteristics joined by bits of spice.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pasote Reposado Tequila ($59): </strong>This Reposado which is distilled using the same materials and process as the Blanco is then aged in American oak for six months. Toast, vanilla and tropical fruit aromas rule the day here. There&rsquo;s a soft nature to the palate that&rsquo;s apparent the moment you take a sip. The flavors are gentle, but layered. Citrus, a bit of papaya and additional wisps of vanilla are all in play. The above average finish reverberates long after the Pasote Reposado is swallowed repeating all of the prior sensations and begging you back to the glass for sip after sip. This is a refined Reposado with above average complexity for the price point.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Blanco is complex and sips nicely straight up, particularly as a partner to lighter foods. It also makes a really great cocktail ingredient. I infused it with fresh strawberries. It&rsquo;s easy, pretty quick and the results are delicious.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Strawberry Infused Tequila</strong><br /><br /> 1 lb. Fresh, Ripe Organic Strawberries<br /><br /> 1 Bottle Pasote Blanco<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Wash the strawberries and remove the stems. Slice the strawberries and place them in a large sealable jar. A 64 oz. Mason jar works perfectly. Pour the bottle of Tequila over the strawberries and seal the jar. Leave it in a cool, dry place for 3 days. After 3 days pass, strain the tequila through a fine filter. Discard the strawberries and pour the Tequila back in the bottle and store it in the freezer. This Strawberry infused Tequila will work really well for mixed drinks. It&rsquo;s also delicious sipped on its own, from a Tequila or Port glass.</p> Tue, 04 Jul 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6950 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Laphroaig &ldquo;Lore&rdquo; Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky ($125):</strong> Laphroaig is one of the preeminent Single Malt Scotch producers in Islay. Among other things they&rsquo;re well known for producing distinct, peaty Scotches. Their history dates back to 1815 and since that time their goal has been to produce the richest single malts in the world. Distillery Manager John Campbell created Lore with a couple of things in mind. One is to honor the passing of Scotch making skills and knowledge down from one generation to the next&rsquo; the other is producing the aforementioned richest Single Malt possible. From that agenda Lore was born.<br /> Lore was produced from a combination of casks. This included double matured first-fill ex-Bourbon barrels, Virgin European oak, first fill Oloroso Sherry butts, first and refill quarter casks and refill ex-Laphroaig stock. Lore was produced in limited quantities and it&rsquo;s currently available at select retailers nationwide. As with any selection from the Laphroaig portfolio when you stick your nose in the glass you&rsquo;re hit back with a bit of smoky goodness. In this case bits of salinity, roasted pecans and wisps of tangerine rind are present as well. Taking the first sip it&rsquo;s immediately apparent there&rsquo;s depth to spare here. Dried dates, hints of dusty cocoa, roasted mixed nuts and a bit of jalapeno are all present in droves. The finish here is prodigiously long with spice, fruit and gentle bits of salinity reverberating on and on long after the last sip is swallowed.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Distinct expressions such as Lore, produced in limited quantities are one of the things that set Laphroaig apart. Their normal portfolio is dependable and loaded with go-to Scotches for those who love peaty whisky, but these special releases are worth anticipating and clamoring for.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> </p> Tue, 27 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6949 Superior Summer Reds: Dolcetto Alan Tardi <p>On the last night of <a href=""><strong>Nebbiolo Prima</strong></a>, something quite unusual happened: we left the area of Barolo and drove thirty minutes south, to the township of Dogliani, where nebbiolo is not grown. While this did seem a bit odd at first, there were a few good explanations for it:<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> This year, the annual event sponsored by <a href=""><strong>Albeisa</strong></a> that focuses on the new releases of nebbiolo-based Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero, was combined with another event called Grandi Langhe that features other wines of the area, including dolcetto.&nbsp; Another reason is that after Roero DOCG left the Barolo, Barbaresco, Alba, Langhe consortium a few years ago to form its own administrative body, Dogliani (which became a DOCG in 2005) stepped up to take its place. And this is where it starts to get really interesting.<br /> The truth is that while nebbiolo is clearly the most important grape variety of Piedmont and Barolo is the region&rsquo;s most prestigious wine, up until not too long ago dolcetto was the most popular and most ubiquitous: this is what people drank every day and if you ordered red wine in an unpretentious <em>osteria</em> (when it was still easy to find such a thing) inevitably the bottle that got plopped down on the table was dolcetto. And it&rsquo;s easy to understand why.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Typically the dolcetto grape produces simple, fresh and pleasantly fruit-forward wines, with a bright ruby-red color and soft tannins, which means it doesn&rsquo;t need&mdash;and usually doesn&rsquo;t benefit from&mdash;long ageing. This also means it &lsquo;s less expensive&nbsp; (so you can drink more of it) and the alcohol is usually a degree or two lower (so you can drink even more), plus it goes with just about everything&mdash;antipasti, pasta, main courses and cheese&mdash;so you don&rsquo;t have to worry about what to pair it with or wait for a special occasion.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> But not all dolcetto are created equal. The dolcetto from Dogliani has always been recognized as being distinctly different than the others: bigger-bodied, earthier, more structured and more complex, with a broader spectrum of aromas, a bit more alcohol and more pronounced tannins. Because of this, it usually gets a bit of ageing (often in wood, though not necessarily) prior to release. A wine labeled <em>Superiore </em>must be aged for at least one year. The distinctions of Dogliani, however, stem chiefly from its growing area.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Though it&rsquo;s less than thirty minutes from the town of Barolo, the climate of Dogliani is a degree or two cooler, the median altitude of the vineyards is higher (about 350-500 meters above sea level compared to 250-350) and the slopes are a bit steeper, with many areas so steep they must be worked entirely by hand. And while the soil is basically the same &mdash; a combination of calcareous limestone, marls and clay &mdash; pronounced mineral notes are common here, and get locked into the grapes through a more dramatic excursion between daytime and nighttime temperatures. And there&rsquo;s one more significant factor: whereas in the Barolo area dolcetto is relegated to the less desirable locations, in Dogliani dolcetto gets planted in the very best vineyard sites.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> In an effort to underscore these geographic distinctions and distinguish the dolcetto of Dogliani from all the others, in 2005 the name of the grape variety was dropped, the name of the wine was changed to Dogliani, and the appellation was elevated from a DOC to the higher DOCG status. The Doglianesi were obviously starting to take their wine seriously. But the consequences of this were not always felicitous.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Living in the village of Castiglione Falletto in the heart of the Barolo region, each autumn I would make a pilgrimage to Dogliani on All Saint&rsquo;s Day for the Fiera dei Santi when a steaming soup of tripe and chickpeas called Cisr&agrave; is served in the piazza accompanied by a vast assortment of the town&rsquo;s namesake wine by the glass. Some years ago, however, I started to feel that many producers were trying too hard to make an &lsquo;<em>important</em>&rsquo; wine. Many of the examples I encountered were over-extracted, over-aged, and overly woody, nearly as dark as balsamic vinegar and almost as thick and syrupy. It seemed as if Dogliani was losing its dolcettoness.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> So when I pulled into the long driveway and up to the beautifully restored farmhouse that is the country hotel of Einaudi, one of Dogliani&rsquo;s most historic and prestigious producers, it was not without some trepidation. I temporarily forgot it, however, when Matteo Sardagna, the sun-tanned athletic-looking Einaudi who is now running the family winery, greeted me warmly and escorted me out to a grassy terrace where the sun was setting over the Dogliani hills and a mixed group of people from Nebbiolo Prima and Grandi Langhe was standing around talking quietly, eating hand-sliced shards of <em>prosciutto crudo</em> and sipping glasses of chilled sparkling rosato, which turned out to be the perfect antidote to my tannin-fatigued palate.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> After the sun sank behind the hills, it immediately got chilly and we drifted inside to a room turned into a makeshift movie theater for the world preview of a film about Dogliani produced by the Bottega del Vino Dogliani, the consortium of producers that manages the appellation which turned out to be a quite lovely portrait of the area through evocative images, ambient sounds, brief yet poignant interviews with local producers, and piano music composed and performed by Ludovico Einaudi, a well-known pianist-composer.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> When the lights came back on and the clapping petered out, we moved into the adjacent dining room and took a seat at one of four long tables. Platters of salami and baskets of bread were brought out, corks began popping (popped by the very same producers who made them), bottles were passed around, and glasses filled. Then came the moment of truth.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> I was having an enjoyable evening and, as I lifted the first glass, was steeling myself for disappointment. But that&rsquo;s not what happened.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Overall, the wines were excellent&mdash;intense but not unwieldy, with enticing aromas, forward fruit balanced by firm acidity, earthiness with a stony mineral edge, and no sign of any invasive wood. And they only got better as successive courses&mdash;meat-filled tortelli with ricotta cream, roasted goat&mdash;arrived. Dolcetto of Dogliani was back and better than ever.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> As the evening started to wind down, I went over to the next table to convey my appreciation to one of my favorite producers, Anna Maria Abbona, who also happens to be the current president of the Bottega del Vino di Dogliani, the consortium of producers that manages the appellation.&nbsp; &ldquo;Yes,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;we&rsquo;ve been working very hard to improve our winemaking to better express our territory. Perhaps we exaggerated a bit in the past, after the DOCG was created, trying to show how exceptional Dogliani is. But now I think we&rsquo;ve found our path and found an equilibrium that shows in the wines.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I couldn&rsquo;t agree more.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Here are a few of the standouts of the evening:<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dogliani DOCG &ldquo;Briccolero&rdquo; 2015 &mdash; Chionetti</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Dark ruby with a shine; aroma of violets, wild rose and asphalt, with bright cherry fruit tempered by orange peel acidity.</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dogliani DOCG &ldquo;Sor&igrave; dij But&rdquo; 2015 &mdash; Anna Maria Abbona</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Warm &amp; welcoming of ripe black plums, sour cherries</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dogliani Superiore DOCG &ldquo;Vigna Tecc&rdquo; 201_ &mdash; Poderi Luigi Einaudi</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Structured, tannic, elegant. Tightly knit and extremely well-balanced</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dogliani Superiore DOCG &ldquo;Sir&igrave; d&rsquo;Jermu&rdquo; 2015&mdash; Pecchenino</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>Velvety maroon black. Concentrated frutti di bosco flavors with a touch of fresh oregano, black pepper and anise.</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dogliani Superiore DOCG &ldquo;San Bernardo&rdquo; 201 &mdash; Anna Maria Abbona</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>70 year old vines; dark purple, almost opaque. Macerated prunes, dried black currants. Soft, dense &amp; full-bodied but not heavy. Chalky mineral edge from the white soil. Extended ageing in large acacia casks. Big, powerful fruit core framed by supple tannins.</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> </p> Fri, 23 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6948 Wine in the Movies & on TV Snooth Editorial <p>We&#39;ve had a relationship with wine for several millennia and counting. This relationship has been documented in a number of ways, but so much has been lost to the ravages of time. Gaps in history leave wine culture open to interpretation, but with the dawn of modern media things have changed. Whether we like it or not, modern media will help us to understand more about how wine has been consumed during any given era &ndash; including the present. Although we have more ways to document culture these days, it&rsquo;s still our job to draw conclusions. And like wine drinking, it&#39;s a lot of fun. The wine lover&rsquo;s ears are sure to perk up at a wine reference no matter where it appears. The web&rsquo;s top wine writers are sharing their favorite pieces of wine-related media in the hope they will demonstrate to you the ways our collective palate has evolved over this and last century.&nbsp; Do you have a favorite television or movie wine reference? Let us know in the comments.<br /> <strong>Big Bang Theory</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> When it comes to wine on TV, I think of Penny (Kaley Cuoco) on Big Bang Theory. As the &quot;normal&quot; character in a group of nerds, Penny is often seen relaxing with a glass of wine, or three. Unfortunately, the show displays wine in the time worn clich&eacute; of a boozy way to relax and lighten up. The brainy characters are rarely seen with a glass in hand. While Penny is lovable, her wine enjoyment seems stuck back in the 1960&#39;s era of Dean Martin.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Jeff Burrows</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Foodwineclick</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Bottle Shock</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Napa Valley is one of the world&rsquo;s top wine destinations and with 4 million visitors each year, the most popular region in the United States.&nbsp; If there was a single event that can be credited Napa Valley&rsquo;s ascendancy in the world of wine, it was the 1976 &ldquo;Judgment of Paris&rdquo; Tasting. The 2008 movie, Bottle Shock is a charming and entertaining dramatization of events that lead to the blind tasting that matched Chardonnay and Cabernet from California against the best the French had to offer from Burgundy and Bordeaux.&nbsp; When the tasting was done, it was a stunning sweep for the Napa Valley wines,&nbsp; as the French judges gave top honors to the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and Stag&rsquo;s Leap Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon.&nbsp; The primary protagonists in the movie are Jim Barret of the struggling and heavily in debt Chateau Montelena (played by Bill Pullman), and a Steve Spurrier, the British owner of a small wine shop named &ldquo;The Academy of Wine&rdquo; in Paris (played by the recently deceased Alan Rickman)&nbsp; It was Spurrier&rsquo;s idea to sponsor the competition. While the outcome is known to even the most casual wine lover, the director did of fine job of extracting entertainment out of the events that lead to the competition and the competition itself.&nbsp; I especially enjoyed Rickman&rsquo;s subtle comedic performance.&nbsp; At one point in the movie, Barret asks Spurrier, &ldquo;Why do I hate you?&rdquo;, and Spurrier calmly replies &ldquo;Because you think I&rsquo;m an asshole&hellip;actually, I&rsquo;m not an asshole. It&rsquo;s just that I&rsquo;m British, and, well ... you&rsquo;re not.&rdquo;&nbsp; For a compelling account of the event&nbsp; that sent shock waves around the world, check out Judgment of Paris authored by George M. Taber, who&nbsp; was the only reporter present at the mythical 1976 tasting.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Martin Redmond</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>ENOFLYZ Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Casablanca</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> When I think of wine and the movies Champagne and <em>Casablanca </em>immediately come to mind. Since before I was interested in wine, <em>Casablanca </em>has been my favorite classic movie. I watch it once a year. It&rsquo;s a ritual. I first fell in love with the classic fashions of the 1940s. (Who doesn&#39;t love the white jumper over a striped blouse Ilsa wears to the <em>Casablanca </em>police station and later in the market scene or either classy, floor-length outfit Yvonne wears to Rick&#39;s Caf&eacute; Am&eacute;ricain in the evening?) But, as I fell into wine, I began notice the presence of Champagne throughout the movie. A coupe of the bubbly seems to be present at every turn - in Paris when Rick and Ilsa first fall in love &ldquo;Here&rsquo;s looking at you kid,&rdquo; and when Rick and Ilsa plan to leave Paris together &ldquo;Kiss me. Kiss me as if were the last time,&rdquo; the pair have the task of drinking four bottles rather than leave them for the advancing Germans. Champagne is consumed on several occasions at Rick&rsquo;s in Casablanca as well. Major Strasser orders not just Champagne but a 15-year-old, vintage Champagne - a bottle of 1926 Veuve Clicquot on the recommendation of Captain Renault. When Ilsa and her husband, Victor Laszlo, arrive the good Captain orders a bottle of Rick&rsquo;s best champagne for the pair. Later in the movie, Yvonne orders a French 75 and Victor orders Champagne cocktails. There was certainly no shortage of Champagne in French Morocco at the time, in the movie at least. What this says about wine, in the context of this movie, is that if Champagne is available and you could afford to buy it you should do so. And you should drink Champagne at every opportunity, for who could know what tomorrow would bring? Champagne is celebratory and above all so very French. And, of course, so not German. Only in the movies! Here is a link to <em>Casablanca</em>. <strong><a href=""></a></strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Nancy Brazil</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pull That Cork</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>@mspullthatcork</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Disclosure</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> It was 1994 and I had just returned from my first ever trip to Napa Valley. Not yet a lawyer, I nevertheless enjoyed films about legal disputes. A Chardonnay as evidence? Now that was a new one. The 1994 movie &ldquo;Disclosure,&rdquo; a flick starring Demi Moore and Michael Douglas, focuses on sexual harassment with a twist: a woman accused of harassing a man.The Seattle-based film is fraught with steamy sex and double entendre. In a scene that later comes back to haunt her, Moore&#39;s character Meredith Johnson says in response to Douglas&#39; Tom Sanders&#39;&nbsp; &quot;the 1991 Pahlmeyer, how did you know about that?&nbsp; I&#39;ve been looking all over for it?&quot; with &quot;Well you know I like all the boys under me to be happy.&quot; The wine, a sought-after Napa Valley Chardonnay, figures prominently as a symbol of power when Johnson counter-sues Sanders for sexual harassment. The case against her turns on how Johnson came to acquire such a hard-to-find bottle of wine in Seattle. Former lawyer and proprietor Jayson Pahlmeyer, contacted after producers fell in love with the wine at Spago, says he was not too keen on relinquishing two of the only 400 cases produced, for the film. He eventually relented and he ended up on Entertainment Tonight in the process. The film is now a bit dated, but vintage after vintage, the Pahlmeyer Napa Valley Chardonnay stands up to the test of time.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Amy Corron-Power</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Another Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>French Kiss</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> In the 1995 romantic comedy, <em>French Kiss</em>, the main character, a career thief named Luc Teyssier (Kevin Kline) meets Kate (Meg Ryan) on a plane to Paris. She is flying there to win back her fianc&eacute; who has fallen in love with a French girl, while he is returning with a grapevine which also hides an expensive necklace he has stolen. He uses Kate to smuggle the vine and the necklace into France, then befriends her so that he can get them back. During their escapades, they made a train stop at his childhood home, where she learns that he is a third-generation vintner who lost his share of the family vineyard in a hand of poker with his brother. During the brief visit, she asks to see his room in the family home. There she discovers a box of herbs that he made in school, herbs that are native to the vineyard and the area. She sips a glass of wine and he asks her to describe it. She attempts a description, but confesses that the description is really about her, not the wine. He tells her that she isn&rsquo;t wrong, that &ldquo;wine is like people&rdquo; in that it absorbs characteristics of the environment, which affect aroma and flavor. He then asks her to smell a few of the herbs in the box and try the wine again. In doing so, he demonstrates to her how these herbal influences are found in the wine she is drinking. During this ah-ha moment, they finally make a real human connection and she kisses him on the cheek as she leaves the room. He takes her to an abandoned vineyard property and shares with her his plan to purchase it someday to make wine. As they make their way back to the train, he promises to help her win back her fianc&eacute; and she reveals to him that she has discovered the necklace which, when sold, will give him enough money to purchase the vineyard he so desperately wants.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Elizabeth Smith</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Traveling Wine Chick</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Game of Thrones</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Game of Thrones guides us through a world where noble houses are fighting a civil war to determine who will be king and a supernatural presence is determined to destroy an entire region. We find ourselves in a world where a teenage female is one of the most fierce leaders and the Queen of Dragons. A world where, if you can&rsquo;t be productive in society, you are sent to the Wall to be a member of the Night&rsquo;s Watch and no matter who you are, someone is devising a plan to kill you in order to move up the social ladder. Although this world may seem a bit implausible, there is the reality of wine and how it is an integral part of society.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &ldquo;Those miserable old sh*&amp;s didn&rsquo;t want you to be human.&rdquo; Ten little words that possess so much meaning. Wine is such a large part of our lives and as Tyrion Lannister suggests, we may not be human without it. Wine has been part of our culture and society for ages. It has been discovered that the Egyptians began making a wine-like substance from red grapes back in 3100 B.C. and since then, it has been a staple in our society. For some, it is an outlet, for others it is a dream. The vision of owning your own vineyard and producing your own wine to share with your friends and family is a passion for a multitude of people.&nbsp; There is something romantically inherent about harvesting grapes from the vine and turning them into wine. The capability to be one with nature and to idly stand by as fermentation naturally turns the juice into wine is idyllic. Knowing that something you produced allows people to be more comfortable with themselves is empowering. Wine allows people to be more comfortable sharing a bit more about themselves. Wine permits you to let your guard down, even if it&rsquo;s just telling a joke. Wine enables you to see the positive side of life and helps you see that life is worth living. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Lori Budd</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Owner/CMO Dracaena Wines</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Gunsmoke/Sanford &amp; Son</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Since I know absolutely zilch about modern television, I&rsquo;m going to take you good folks back several decades. Without a doubt, my two favorite series are <em>Gunsmoke and Sanford &amp; Son</em>. I still find entertainment value in both today. In <em>Gunsmoke</em>, beer and whiskey were routine, though there was the occasional reference to champagne in Miss Kitty&rsquo;s bustling Long Branch Saloon. On the other hand, funnyman Fred Sanford had an enduring love affair with Ripple &ndash; a fortified wine (or shall we say sugar-laced effervescent concoction) produced by E&amp;J Gallo Winery. Ripple was basically a cheap, sweet high. Fred, being the sophisticated junkman that he was, enjoyed making his Ripple fancy by adding champagne. The bubbly could have even been Korbel [California Champagne] for all we know.&nbsp; And there you have it, the ever-popular Sanford signature drink: Champipple! Other than Champipple, wine was brought up in a number of episodes on <em>Sanford &amp; Son</em>. However, when quality wine was mentioned, it was generally a French wine. Keep in mind, the show ran from 1972 thru 1977 when quality wine was thought only to be from France. This was prior to the 1976 <em>Judgment of Paris</em> event where wines from California bested renowned French wines with French judges. A few years later &ndash; 1979 to be exact, David Lett, founder of Eyrie Vineyards, shook up the Wine Olympics (and much of the wine world) in Paris when his 1975 South Block Reserve placed 10th among a long list of Pinot Noirs. Prior to that, Willamette Valley, Oregon, wasn&rsquo;t on anyone&rsquo;s Pinot radar. While other regions (in and out the US) were making headway, France was King. And that&rsquo;s the main takeaway about the wine culture back then. We even see this portrayed in comedies such as <em>Sanford &amp; Son</em>. Aired in 1975, I&rsquo;m reminded of an episode titled The Olympics. The eye of Fred&rsquo;s affection, Donna, has a date with Lou Turner &ndash; a distinguished gentleman, and Fred is just a little bit jealous. Donna tries to calm Fred with one of Lou&rsquo;s wines and that is when the fun starts. The episode in its entirety is hilarious and lasts approximately 30 minutes. If you do not have the time, please advance to 2:22 and check out the short wine exchange. Lou, who some may consider a wine snob, drops a little wine knowledge about Bordeaux and Burgundy, including the term, &lsquo;dee-conted.&rsquo; Enjoy!&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Link to episode: <a href=""></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Dezel Quillen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>My Vine Spot</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>James Bond</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> In the books by Ian Fleming, James Bond was most likely sipping a scotch, but in the movies, most people think of his martini order: &quot;Shaken, not stirred.&quot; Bond did dabble in wine drinking as well, but it was really Champagne that has been the mainstay, generally either to celebrate or seduce. This has been typical of broader culture and remains so today. While various Champagne marques were celebrated, none appeared quite so often as Bollinger. This unpaid product placement is the result of a friendship&nbsp; between the Broccoli-Wilson family (producers of the films) and the Bollinger family, and has endured to this day, even as the actor who portrays Bond has changed.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Kovas Palubinskas</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>50 States Of Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>James Bond</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> The first &quot;grown-up&quot; movies I remember seeing were the Sean Connery James Bond films. My mother was a huge fan of the series, and that affinity was passed on to me very early on. I have since seen each of the Connery 007 incarnations dozens of times (Roger Moore and subsequent Bonds fail to measure up to the original in my view), and some of my favorite scenes are those that involve the ultra cool James ordering, consuming, or otherwise commenting on champagne. In Ian Flemming&#39;s novels, Bond usually opted for Taittinger, but once the MI6 spy hit the screen, his preference shifted to Dom P&eacute;rignon and, more frequently, Bollinger. My favorite quote comes from perhaps my favorite film, Goldfinger (1964). Drinking a few bubbles with Jill Masterson, Jimbo realized that the wine had lost its chill: &quot;My dear girl, there are some things that just aren&#39;t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon &#39;53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That&#39;s as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs!&quot; Apparently at the time (it was a bit before I was born), this was seen as marking the growing generational schism that was about to explode in just a few short years. The older generation saw it as a rebuke to the unsophisticated, uncouth youth of the time. While the younger generation derided their elders as being out of touch. Either way, it was my first exposure to champagne and no doubt plays a role in my love for the wine today.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Jeff Kralik</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>The Drunken Cyclist</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Red Obsession</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Passion vs. power.&nbsp; Red Obsession is a movie that delves into how wine goes from art into collector obsession.&nbsp; The story follows how a great Bordeaux wine becomes a status symbol and phenomenon &ndash; and how wealthy consumers in the Chinese market will do anything or pay any price to own them.&nbsp; The Bordeaux wine transforms from the trials and tribulations of a farmer to a measure of wealth, power and acquisition for the end buyer. Russell Crowe serves as narrator and the story delves into perspectives from the winemakers, wine critics, wine lovers and those who will pay almost anything for a prestige wine and why.&nbsp; It takes the romanticism out of what happens in the vineyards to those who believe &ldquo;whoever dies with the most toys wins.&quot;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Melanie Ofenloch</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dallas Wine Chick</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>The Muppet Movie</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> I need to go old school with The Muppet Movie released in 1979. It contains the first bitter sweet song I experienced &quot;Rainbow Connection&quot; and it was probably the first time I was exposed to wine. The scene is when Kermit and Miss Piggy are having a romantic dinner together and no other then Steve Martin, their their waiter, brings a bottle to the table with Miss Piggy mistaking it for Champagne. But the waiter says it is sparkling muscatel from Idaho with a sneer while he flips off the bottle cap and asks Kermit, &quot;Don&#39;t you want to smell the bottle cap?&quot; It is a hilarious scene based on the poor choice Kermit made for their special dinner. The term muscatel became popular in the United States at the end of prohibition to meet the large demand for wine. It was made by poor clones of Muscat grapes (used normally for table grapes) mixed with sugar and cheap brandy and it was referred to as wino wine. But we have come a long way. Any wine geek would love to have a sparkling muscatel from Idaho with a bottle cap (crown cap). First, Idaho has some fun sparkling wines as another Snooth contributor recently pointed out, second, there are many different clones of Muscat and some are capable of spectacular wine, and third, Champagne uses crown caps (bottle caps) in their production during the second fermentation and lees aging in bottle. And so, it is not such a bad idea to use a crown cap for a sparkling wine that will be drunk on release. This scene really shows how far we have come as a wine knowledgeable country and I&rsquo;m sure there is still a lot out there to be discovered.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Cathrine Todd</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dame Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> </p> Thu, 22 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6947 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Four Roses Small Batch 50th Anniversary Edition ($150):</strong> Four Roses Bourbon was established in 1888 and has a long and diverse history. They went from being the most popular Whiskey in America to not being available in the US for a period of time. However over the last decade they have made a major comeback in the US. Their portfolio features a trio of regular releases. One of them is their Small Batch Bourbon series. The latest iteration of this has been released to honor Al Young their Senor Brand Ambassador who has been with Four Roses for 50 years. This role is just the latest in his long journey with brand. Previously he has enjoyed time as Distillery manager, and historian among others. In 2010 he even authored a Coffee Table book about the history of Four Roses Bourbon and their return to prominence.<br /> Al Young worked alongside Master Distiller Brent Elliot to choose the blend for his commemorative bottle. Four Roses uses 10 different recipes for their Bourbons. Al &amp; Brent selected 4 of them for this Limited Edition Bottling. 50% was 13 year old OESV, 25% 15 year old OBSK, 20% 12 year old OBSF, and 5% 25 year old OBSV. One of Al&rsquo;s goals in creating the blend was to include an older Bourbon in the mix; after experimenting with different percentages they found that 5% was just right. 10,000 bottles of this offering are being distributed.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Four Roses Small Batch 50th Anniversary Edition has a powerful nose laced with vanilla, toast and chamomile tea. Fresh and dried stone fruits, fig and dates are all evident on the deeply layered and intense palate. The long finish is stuffed with bits of brown sugar, spice notes and a final kiss of heat. Drink this beauty neat or with just a couple drops of water. This unique and limited edition entry in their portfolio is a must have for Bourbon lovers; grab it before it&rsquo;s gone.</p> Tue, 20 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6946 Chenin Blanc Strikes Back Mark Angelillo <p>In case you haven&rsquo;t heard, June 17th is Chenin Blanc Day. And like so many wine lovers, one of the first places I go for great Chenin Blanc is South Africa. While South Africa is considered part of the New World, at this point, the country&rsquo;s vines are quite venerable. The first vintage of South African wine was recorded in 1659. Meanwhile, the first-ever mentions of Chenin Blanc were recorded just under two hundred years earlier in France, 1496 (back when the grape was known as Plant d&rsquo;Anjou). South Africa is a crucial part of Chenin Blanc&rsquo;s heritage. Once known as Steen in South Africa, Chenin Blanc remains the country&rsquo;s most widely planted variety. In fact, there is more Chenin Blanc grown in South Africa than in France. These wines run the gamut from value to premium, so they are well suited to all nights of the week and a wide range of cuisines. In fact, South African Chenin Blanc boasts some of the most terrific values on the market today.<br /> South Africa&rsquo;s stash of old Chenin Blanc vines is a true treasure, and there&rsquo;s a strong movement to ensure they are preserved. You&rsquo;ll want to enjoy these wines for decades to come. The South African interpretation of Chenin Blanc is rife with orchard fruits, a characteristic honeysuckle note, and just a dash of pith that only can be South Africa. Oaked or unoaked, I&rsquo;m relieved to know that South African winemakers are continuing to write this grape&rsquo;s story.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Here are a few of my favorites from a recent blind tasting.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Bloem White Blend Western Cape 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> A blend of Chenin Blanc and Viognier, a combination on the order of PB &amp; J. This has a floral, fleshy and peach driven nose with lemon citrus notes. On the palate this starts out zesty and citrusy with lemon and grapefruit giving way to a burst of green apple and pear fruit before becoming briny with notes of sea spray and a creamy finish. Nice complexity here. <em>90 pts. Avg. Price: $9.99</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Ken Forrester is a renowned name and I&rsquo;ve never been disappointed by any wine in their portfolio. Warm melon and lemon aromas. Citrus notes of grapefruit and lemon in the mouth, this is simple and fruit forward but melts into an earthy, oaky and almost tannic finish. <em>Avg. Price: $10</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Eikeboom Chenin Blanc Western Cape 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>89 pts. Wine Enthusiast</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Twenty-five year old vines, zero oak. Lightly buttered aromas of melon and pear on the nose. A hint of fruit sugar greets the palate with peach and apricot notes, even a touch of pineapple adding some additional fresh fruit flavor before this finishes clean and light with confectioners sugar and green melon. <em>90 pts. $12.99</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Essay Wines White Blend Coastal Region 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Yet another blend, 24% Viognier and 4% Rousanne were added to impart richness, violets, and spice. Floral and oaty aromas of white peach, melon and grapefruit. Clean, light and refreshing on the palate with a burst of acidity, fresh spice, fruit flavors of lemon and lime and a crispy, dry finish of minerality and lime zest. Very pleasant. <em>$12.99</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Xavier Flouret Fynbos Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> These come from 44 year-old bush vines grown 285 meters above sea level. Clean and clear aromas of light peach, melon and steely lime. This has a pleasant creaminess to it with a honeyed note of pear, apple and peach with cool, lime zest and butter notes towards the long finish of aged cheese rind and oak. <em>90 pts. $15.96</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>AA Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc Swartland 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>90 pts Wine Spectator</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> This is Chenin Blanc with a dash of Palomino (another grape with a long history in the region) plus an unnamed grape to add some mystery. These vines were planted in the late 1960s to mid-1970s. Pleasant golden apple and honey aromas with floral, spiced oak notes and an orange marmalade glaze. Fresh acidity, minerality and lemon zest flavors, muted fruit but present with peach and melon flavors welling up after the mineral notes and finishing clean, fresh and juicy. <em>90 pts. $15.99</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>DeMorgenzon Chenin Blanc Reserve Stellenbosch 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>92 points Wine Spectator, 92 Point Wine Enthusiast</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> These grapes come from 43 year-old bush vines planted 820 to 985 feet above sea level just adjacent to False Bay in Stellenbosch. Fresh apricot, apple and soft melon aromas. Buttery and creamy textured on entry, this has a pleasant lemon palate and medium-full body, finishing a bit herbal. <em>$34.99</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> </p> Fri, 16 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6945 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Tequilla Ocho 2016 Puerta del Aire Plata ($50):</strong> Tequilla Ocho Plata is produced exclusively from Agave grown at Puerta del Aire. They&rsquo;re the only Tequila distiller producing Single Estate Tequila&rsquo;s from specific vintages. The village of Arandas where their Estate is located sits more than 6,500 feet above sea level. Puerta del Aire is but one of more than 100 estates the family owns, maintains, and harvests Agave from. They allow their Agave to age 7 years before harvesting. At that age the pi&ntilde;as weigh between 42 and 100 kg. Their distiller Carlos Camarena is a 3rd generation Tequilero. He works alongside Tomas Estes who is the Ambassador of Tequila to the European Union.<br /> <div><br /> Along with a couple of other producers Ocho is participating in a bat friendly pilot estate program. They allow a minimum of 5% of their agave to flower. It takes until the 8th year for Blue Agave to produce these large single blooms. Bats not only need these blooms but they also pollinate roughly 180 types of Agave as well as other plants in Mexico. Once the Agave plant has bloomed it can no longer be used to produce Tequila. So this is a commitment to the environment on their part that supersedes potential dollars lost.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Quite frankly most Blanco or Plata Tequila is relatively uninteresting sipped neat. The vast majority of them are intended for blending into cocktails. Ocho Plata will disabuse you of that notion. This is a delicious, distinct and complex Plata. It&rsquo;s a singular expression with depth to spare. Tangerine zest, savory green herbs, limestone and a hint of banana are all part of the impressive aromatics. The palate is loaded with brown sugar, peppercorn, dates, cinnamon, a dusting of cocoa, and hints of sage. The finish here is long, lush and memorable with the above characteristics reverberating.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> You could certainly use Tequilla Ocho 2016 Puerta del Aire Plata to make cocktails. It&rsquo;s a super high quality ingredient that will improve your Tequila based beverage exponentially. However it&rsquo;s such a specific and distinct expression that I believe it demands to be savored on its own. At most I&rsquo;d put a hint of a chill on it. Either way, enjoy this exceptional expression of a Tequila Plata.</div><br /> </p> Tue, 13 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6944