Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:27:07 -0400 Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:27:07 -0400 Snooth Wine Myths: Debunked Snooth Editorial <p>Wine myths are often unspoken but incredibly pervasive. Their looming presence may prevent wine novices from feeling confident about how they drink. Most would agree that wine experiences are best enjoyed with friends, but myths can hinder otherwise joyous wine drinking occasions. <em>&ldquo;Sparkling wine MUST be enjoyed in a flute glass, or else!&rdquo; &ldquo;Wines sealed with a screw cap are ALWAYS unenjoyable.</em>&rdquo;&nbsp;Many wine myths have circulated for decades. Legions of potential wine lovers can be turned off by a single falsehood. Quashing wine myths is an ideal way to make wine more inclusionary and accessible to all who wish to participate. Our esteemed cadre of wine writers has exposed the truth about some commonly believed wine myths. Spread the word!&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> <strong>Soave is crappy.&nbsp;</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In the 1970s, Americans consumed more Soave than Chianti. This Italian wine hails from the Veneto region of Northern Italy, and, for decades, the name carried with it connotations of insipidness and wateriness. Now, it is true: there are many lame Soave &nbsp;wines. But there are plenty of good ones too, damn good. The crummy stuff tends to be labeled simply Soave, and the grapes are sourced from productive vineyards in the region&#39;s fertile plain. But the good stuff comes from Soave Classico appellation, the historic heart of the region, and is labeled as such. Here, where the Romans planted vines some 2,000 years ago, you can find some of the only volcanic basalt soils in Northern Italy. These soils are heaven for the Garganega grape, which produces wines with abundant minerality, bright floral tones and crisp acidity. There are steely and mineral-laden versions and there are rounder, oak-aged versions &mdash; plenty of styles and wines to explore. And, perhaps because of the larger appellation&#39;s reputation, you can buy really good Soave Classico for about $20. Producers like <a href=""><strong>Inama</strong></a>, Pieropan and Monte Tondo are a good place to start.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Isaac James Baker, </em>&nbsp;<a href="">Reading, Writing &amp; Wine</a></div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>I don&rsquo;t like this wine.</strong><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> My favorite myth is one that bothers me to this day. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like (insert type of wine here).&rdquo; &nbsp;In daily form, I hear it something like this:&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like ros&eacute;.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like champagne.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like pinot grigio.&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I bet you, too, have heard this more than once. It&rsquo;s important to realize that one or more bad experiences does not always mean that we don&rsquo;t like that specific grape. More often than not, It&#39;s a myth! It&rsquo;s that we went to a party and were served &ldquo;either red or white&rdquo; from very large, very cheap bottles, and to no one&#39;s surprise, found the wines lacking in quality and style. Sad but true, that really mediocre wines serve to lower the quality of our experience and personal value to that type of wine. &nbsp;I sometimes have guests who apologize in an attempt to refuse a wine I&rsquo;m serving. I will gently say, &ldquo;Just have a taste and if you don&rsquo;t love it, I&rsquo;ll pour you something else.&rdquo; That encouragement is enough to get them to put the glass to their lips and experience a wine that can put that former (negative) experience firmly in the past, and is usually followed with &ldquo;Oh, I&rsquo;d like to have more of this, thank you!&rdquo;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Jim van Bergen,</em> <a href="">JvBUnCorked</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Those little diamonds mean your wine is contaminated.</strong><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I remember first reading about wine diamonds in a technical book about winemaking. Diamonds in my wine? Is that a problem? As I quickly discovered, wine diamonds are a euphemism for tartrates that are formed when potassium (or less likely calcium) and tartaric acid bind together to form crystals. Both are naturally occurring products of wine grapes and potassium bitartrate is commonly known as cream of tartar. Wine diamonds are more likely to form in white wine than red because of the difference in winemaking techniques used to produce them. The problem with wine diamonds is that when wine drinkers find them at the bottom of their wine glass, or on a cork, they think their wine is contaminated. This is a wine myth that needs to be debunked. Wine diamonds are not a contaminant in your wine, they&rsquo;re perfectly natural. They are little gems that may simply indicate the wine was overchilled and very likely that a hands-off approach was used in making the wine. That&rsquo;s not so bad. There are a number of techniques winemakers use to assure tartrates do not form after a wine is bottled. Cold stabilization, storing wine at very cold temperatures so that the tartrates form before bottling, is the traditional method. Modern techniques include filtration and the addition of compounds that inhibit crystal formation. All methods have benefits and disadvantages the winemaker must consider. And, even after considerable effort to prevent their formation, the crystals may still form after a wine is bottled. So, remember, wine diamonds are not a contaminant in your wine. When I discover wine diamonds in my glass or on a cork, I celebrate the find! Then I take pictures and post them on social media. Cheers!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Nancy Brazil, </em><a href="">Pull That Cork&nbsp;</a></div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>That wine needs to be stored at the right temperature.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> I have to say that there are a host of Wine Myths out there that need to be debunked, but the one that I spend the most time debunking is the need to keep your wines at a constant 55˚F. Now, as a preface, I am not talking about wine that you are storing as an investment (which as Joe Roberts points out, is usually a terrible idea), nor am I talking about wine that you intend for long-term storage (think first-growth Bordeaux from a great vintage). No, I am talking about the wines that you intend for short to medium-term drinking in the next 5 or even ten years. You do not need to spend several thousand dollars to keep these wines in a constant state of chill. What you need is a cool dark space that is not susceptible to sudden temperature swings. In other words, you do not want it to be 65˚ one day and 85˚ the next. Ideally, the space should also not get above 80˚ either. I have kept my collection of around 1500 bottles in a basement with no additional refrigeration for we&#39;ll over a decade and I have had no issues. I live in Philadelphia where summer temps can reach well into the 90˚s but the basement rarely gets above 75˚. So instead of spending that extra cash on a fancy fridge, buy a case or two of Krug and invite me over to share a bottle.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Jeff Kralik, </em><a href="">The Drunken Cyclist</a></div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> <strong>More expensive wine is better.</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There are no shortage of myths in the wine world that should be buried. One of the most frustrating that I hear often from consumers at tastings that I host is the misconception that wine quality is always directly determined by price. The higher the price the better the wine goes the myth. There are of course many great wines that are expensive but studies and blind tastings consistently disprove the expensive equals better myth.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I look to regions like the Loire Valley (especially Muscadet) and Languedoc in France, Chile, Spain, and South Africa for interesting wines that deliver serious quality and value. One of my favorite value wines that consistently delivers quality above it&rsquo;s $10 price tag is the Cabernet Sauvignon from Los Vascos winery, located in the Colchagua Valley region of Chile.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Ruby color in the glass, this Cab offers notes of raspberries, licorice and thyme around a plum core with pepper on the edges. Firm tannins and well-balanced, this wine pairs perfectly with a ribeye steak on the grill.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Frank Morgan,</em> <a href="">Drink What You Like</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>The more expensive the wine, the better the wine.</strong><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sometimes this is true. But having just visited three regions in California, I can tell you that I had some wines in Paso Robles that would give Napa and Sonoma wines a run for the money &ndash; at a fraction of the price. There are so many factors that influence wine pricing that have nothing to do with the wine itself. Wine regions, shelf position, brand and celebrity affiliation can all drive pricing through the roof. The lesser-known regions, grapes, producers and places &ndash; often hard to pronounce &ndash; can be the undiscovered diamonds in the rough.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Melanie Ofenloch</em>, <a href="">Dallas Wine Chick</a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Sweet wine can&rsquo;t be good.</strong><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mention you like sweet wines and many will look at you with raised eyebrows, waiting for the punchline. Sweet wines are for amateurs, right? On the contrary, some of the best wines in the world are sweet: Hungary&#39;s Tokaji, &nbsp;Austria and Germany&#39;s Trockenbeerenauslese, France&#39;s Sauternes; the list goes on. These wines are generally very sweet but balanced, show a broad range of flavors, and are amongst the world&#39;s most cellar-worthy wines. Sweet wines aren&#39;t all about dessert, though -- search out light-to-mid sweet wines and pair them with salty or spicy foods for a more nuanced experience.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Kovas Palubinskas, </em><a href="">50 States Of Wine</a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Old World wines are superior to New World wines.</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Conventional wine wisdom goes like this. Wines from the Old World (think primarily France, Spain and Italy) are superior to New World (think primarily the United States, Australia, and South America) wines. While it&rsquo;s true that Old World countries have had a couple of thousand years head start on planting the right grapes in the right place, and mastering &nbsp;growing &nbsp;and wine making techniques, the New World has caught on relatively quickly. Tremendous strides have been made in quality, diversity and ultimately, sales of New World wines. The most celebrated example of the New World betting the Old World at their own game, of course, is the 1976 Judgment of Paris when California Chardonnay and Cabernet Blends beat the best wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux in a blind tasting with French judges. &nbsp;And in more recent times, there are numerous examples of that same scenario repeating itself across various Old World vs. New World countries.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Old World versus New World is a false dichotomy because there is a wealth of examples of New World wines made in the Old World style (less overt fruit, lower alcohol, and higher acidity), and wines originating in Old World countries made in the New World style (riper, more overt fruit flavors, higher alcohol and less acidity) A wine should be judged on its own merits without bias based on place of origin. Let your palate be your guide!&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Martin Redmond, </em><a href="">ENOFYLZ Wine Blog</a></div><br /> </div><br /> </div><br /> <div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Merlot makes insipid red wines.&nbsp;</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Long before Sideways took a swipe at Merlot and launched Pinot Noir further into the wine stratosphere there were issues. A lot of wineries were making Merlot in a style that didn&rsquo;t inspire enthusiasm. In fact such a large percentage of Merlot, particularly from the New World, was at best generic and at worst undrinkable. However there have always been excellent examples of Merlot produced in CA and other New World areas. Over the last few years there are more producers in CA (for example) than at any time in recent memory focusing on their Merlot program with renewed vigor. When it&rsquo;s planted in the right spot and treated appropriate thereafter Merlot can and should be structured, age worthy and loaded with appealing character. Most importantly it should unabashedly be Merlot. To me that&lsquo;s a wine that brings to mind and iron fist in a velvet glove. One brand new release from a large, well known California producer is worth seeking out if you want a terrific Napa Merlot. <strong>Franciscan Estate 2013 Napa Valley Reserve Merlot ($45)</strong>:&nbsp;The Reserve Merlot is a brand new release in the Franciscan Portfolio. In addition to Merlot (93%), small amounts of Syrah (6%), and Cabernet Sauvignon (1%) were blended in. All of the fruit came from Oak Knoll. It&rsquo;s made from a cuvee of select barrels. Red cherry, leather and black pepper are all evident on the nose. When you take the first sip your senses are knocked out by all the continuing red cherry fruit tinged by bits of black cherry. Cinnamon and clove spices are in play as well. The velvety finish shows off dusty dark cocoa, pencil lead and sweet dry cherry flavors. This is an absolutely outstanding Merlot with tremendous structure. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s wonderful now but I&rsquo;d hold it for 3-4 years and drink it in the 5 after that. Either way this is a very serious stab at top shelf Merlot at a very reasonable price.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Gabe Sasso,</em> <a href="">Gabe&rsquo;s View</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Napa Valley stereotypes are true.</strong><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Ever since I moved to the Napa Valley two and a half years ago, I pay more attention to media references about where I live and the wines we produce. Narratives about the Napa Valley frequently resort to generalizations and stereotypes, often with negative overtones. The media perpetuates the narrow-minded focus that the Napa Valley is comprised of gigantic corporate producers, shiny and ornate tasting rooms, and cabernet sauvignon. The Napa Valley is more than corporations and cabernet. In fact, 78% of the Napa Valley&rsquo;s producers make fewer than 10,000 cases and 67% produce fewer than 5000 cases. Ninety-five percent of our wineries are family owned and operated. Our microclimates and differing soil types allow for many grape varieties to flourish. Only 40% of our grape production is cabernet sauvignon, while the other 60% includes grape varieties such as cabernet franc, chardonnay, merlot, petite sirah, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, syrah, zinfandel, and many more. The styles and prices of our wines vary as greatly as the wines produced. One day, one may enjoy traditional method sparkling wines like blanc de blancs, blanc de noirs, and brut ros&eacute; at one of our sparkling producers like Domaine Carneros, Domaine Chandon, Mumm, or Schramsberg. The next day, one travels high atop Spring Mountain to a side-by-side tasting of chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and riesling (yes, riesling!) in the rustic production building at Smith-Madrone. Ehlers Estate produces Bordeaux-style wines from their organic, estate vineyards, including their atypical 100% petit verdot. Madrigal Family Winery, paying homage to Chris Madrigal&rsquo;s Spanish ancestry, offers estate garnacha and tempranillo. Benessere crafts Italian varietal wines such as aglianico, moscato di canelli, pinot grigio, sagrantino, and sangiovese. Coquerel Wines makes verdelho, tempranillo, and late-harvest sauvignon blanc. I haven&rsquo;t scratched the surface of the depth and breadth of the Napa Valley&rsquo;s wine options, as there are approximately 475 physical wineries, not including custom-crush producers. The next time you are considering wines from the Napa Valley, please enjoy our cabernet sauvignon, but explore beyond it. While here, venture away from the beaten path and you&rsquo;ll discover the real Napa Valley and its diverse wines. (Statistics provided by Napa Valley Vintners and the Napa Valley Register)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Elizabeth Smith,</em> <a href="">Traveling Wine Chick</a></div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Drink only red wine with red meat and white wine with fish.</strong><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Myths gain traction for a reason. While savoring a well marbled steak and gorgeous Cabernet Sauvignon, tannins in the wine weave themselves with fatty char from the meat to create a tapestry of deliciousness in your mouth. Similarly, enjoying a Rueda wine with fish creates magic. However, as myths go, this needs to be busted. &nbsp;At an event with the team from Wagner Family Wines team, they described a swoon worthy pairing of grilled sea bass with one of their delicious reds. &nbsp;Heresy? &nbsp;No. Sea Bass is often described as a &ldquo;meaty&rdquo; fish and grilling is a cooking method that adds body to a dish. This was a great example of matching overall body of food to wine. Matching overall body ends up being more important than matching color. Wine pairing is like a Rubik&rsquo;s Cube puzzle to line up sweetness, acidity, alcohol, oak and tannins to complement food elements. If all the sides are balanced and you can also get flavors to match (or contrast) with equal persistency between wine and food flavors, you won&rsquo;t need to lean on myths to create your own legendary food and wine pairings. So think about texture and flavors more than whether the color of the meat matches the color of the wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Liza Swift, </em><a href="">Brix Chicks</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>The wine world is getting less diverse.</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Many wine myths out there are not true. But the one that I would like to tackle is a little bit more unorthodox - the myth that there is less diversity in the wine world than say fifty years ago. Many wine lovers are concerned that very popular grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are dominating the world to the detriment of extinction of local varieties. This is only partly true. Yes, many regions around the world are devoting more and more vineyards to grape varieties that are not native to the region, but that does not mean that we have completely lost diversity. How do I know we do not have an extreme lack of diversity of grape varieties? The book, Native Wine Grapes of Italy, by Ian D&rsquo;Agata, opened my eyes to the fact that the problem is not the lack of grape varieties but the lack of knowledge that they exist. I cannot do the book justice in this one short post, but let me just say that at the time his book was written, there were 461 official Italian grape varieties registered and D&rsquo;Agata has said there could easily be around 1000 currently existing in Italy. How did this happen? The book goes into great detail, but the basics are due to misidentification and growers being not completely sure what they are growing. This created a myth that there is a lot less diversity than actually present. A great example is a grape variety called Malvasia. There are actually 17 different cultivars within the group of Malvasia: one called Malvasia Bianca Lunga, another Malvasia del Lazio (you guessed it, it can be found in Lazio), another named Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, and so on and so on. Some of them are very different from each other. Most wine drinkers who are familiar with Malvasia will know it as a restrained white wine not showing any intense aromas or flavors. Not true with Malvasia di Candia Aromatica - it is, as you can also guess, very aromatic. Recently I tasted the 2015 Castello di Luzzano &lsquo;Tasto di Seta&rsquo; 100% Malvasia di Candia Aromatica and it was delicious with an explosion of floral notes - like no other Malvasia wine I have had before this one. It is important that this myth is debunked so we don&rsquo;t unknowingly lose the great diversity of grape varieties that currently exist, yet may not survive if we do not know about them and seek them out.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Cathrine Todd, </em><a href="">Dame Wine</a></div><br /> <div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Real men don&rsquo;t drink pink wine.</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I&rsquo;ll talk about a few wine myths associated with ros&eacute;, since the heat is on and ros&eacute; has totally become synonymous with summer. The good news is there is far less stigma surrounding these pink-hued wines than there was just five years ago. Unfortunately, ros&eacute; is still now and again viewed as a cheap, sweet, lackluster wine. Besides a lack of wine education, this possibly has a lot to do with White Zinfandel. I&rsquo;m not knocking White Zin since it is usually many people&#39;s introduction to the wonderful world of wine and the reason there are many old vine Zinfandel vineyards in California. While sweet, cheap, and lackluster may hold true for some pink juice, there are a countless number of attractively refreshing, drier examples that not only taste good but are versatile and offer endless food pairing possibilities &ndash; particularly with light summer fare. Another myth you will hear is, &ldquo;Real men don&rsquo;t drink pink wine.&rdquo; Are you serious? Let truth be told, I think bros sip way more pink juice than the ladies. Someone must be looking at old data. Lastly, you may hear that wines like ros&eacute; are nothing more than warm weather porch-pounders. This is nonsense. While the pink juice does shine and satisfy during the summer months, I keep them in my wine rotation year-round. In addition to the traditional Pinot Noir and Riesling, I can tell you from experience that ros&eacute; will perform admirably on your Thanksgiving table. Now, I do realize that some of you have tried to think pink &amp; drink pink but it wasn&rsquo;t for you. And that&rsquo;s okay; at least you tried, right? However, if you have made your mind up after only trying one or two examples, then I ask you to &ldquo;rethink pink&rdquo; and give pink wine a second chance. Find a wonderfully crisp, drier style ros&eacute; and give it an opportunity to win you over this summer. And please let us know what you find and like. Cheers!&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Dezel Quillen,</em>&nbsp;<a href="">My Vine Spot</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Old World and New World styles are totally different.</strong></div><br /> </div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There are many wine myths out there. Most come from misconceptions and misinformation. One myth I am particularly drawn to is the idea of &ldquo;old world wine&rdquo; and &ldquo;new world wine.&rdquo; The separation of these &ldquo;worlds&rdquo; is simple: old world represents countries and regions before 1492; new world is all who came after 1492. Seems clear enough; however, the wine myth is these two &ldquo;worlds&rdquo; craft wines in different styles. This may have once been true, but in the 21st century this myth is now bunk. In the US, South America, South Africa, and more many wines are produced with the philosophy of balance and &ldquo;less is more&rdquo; in winemaking styles. Some would easily pass as Burgundy, Bordeaux, and even Alsace. Conversely, I have experienced wines from France, Italy, and Spain that fooled a group of 100 plus sommeliers into thinking they were &ldquo;new world&rdquo; wines. Are there style differences? Yes, but these styles have more to do with wine making philosophy than with geographical location. Balanced wines are good wines regardless of what &ldquo;world&rdquo; produced them.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Michelle Williams,</em> <a href="">Rockin Red Blog</a></div><br /> </p> Tue, 19 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6823 Wine & Caviar To Remind You Claudia Angelillo <p><div><br /> There&rsquo;s always a reason to celebrate or something to which you can look forward. It could be the re-release of your favorite Starbucks drink, catching up with an old friend, or even a three day weekend. But when you need something extra special about which to get ecstatic, there is Champagne and caviar.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Caviar may be making a comeback, but did it ever leave? The word itself, caviar, is synonymous with epicurean elegance. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s a crucial component of the collective foodie palate, whether you eat that fragrant dollop off the back of your hand or enjoy it atop an avocado slice during Sunday brunch. &nbsp;No matter the scenario, those big, fat, and flavorful pearls beg for regal Champagne. When you are ready to reward yourself for a job well done, or simply wish to seize the moment for celebration, try one of these otherworldly pairings. They remind us that life is meant to be celebrated, and you deserve it.&nbsp;</div><br /> <br /> <strong>Champagne Taittinger Brut La Fran&ccedil;aise NV ($59.99) with Calvisius Caviar Tradition Prestige ($74.99)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> <em>This is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier wines aged sur lie for almost four years (more than double the legal minimum.</em>) <em>The pairing experience:</em>&nbsp;<em>You&rsquo;re sitting on a bed of leaves commingled with nuts in an apple orchard on a crisp fall day. The sun lightly dusts your cheeks while the leaves and nuts crunch beneath your bum. The scent of macadamia, almond, and unwashed apple skin wafts into your nostrils. You inhale deeply and never regret it.</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Champagne Taittinger Prelude Grands Crus NV ($94.99) with Calvisius Caviar Oscietra Classic ($119.99)</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>This Champagne is a classic 50%/50% blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir produced exclusively from Grand Cru vineyards. Wine Spectator gave it 92 points. The pairing experience: Your&#39;re eating a buttery croissant while sitting on a balcony constructed with thick, marble balustrades. It overlooks a river so mineral-rich you can taste the seabed at first glance. Any second now, a sun shower is sure to begin.</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Champagne Taittinger Comptes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006 ($198.99) with Calvisius Caviar Siberian ($69.99)</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>One hundred percent Chardonnay has arrived. The 2006 Champagne vintage was simply brilliant, and it still shows. The pairing experience: You&#39;re carried along the breeze on the back of linden blossoms from the vineyards of Champagne to the bottom of Siberia&rsquo;s Baikal Lake. You have the power to breathe under water.</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Champagne Taittinger Comptes de Champagne&nbsp;Ros&eacute;&nbsp;2006 ($261.99) with Calvisius Caviar Oscietra Royal ($139.99)</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>This wine received 95 points from Wine Spectator. It&#39;s a tryst with rich red fruit and a certain, satisfying brine that is nearly ineffable. When you are ready to enter another dimension where mind and body meld into a harmonious one, try this pairing on for size.&nbsp;</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Learn more about the wines <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a>.</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Learn more about the caviar <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a>.</em></div><br /> </p> Tue, 19 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6824 Washington & Oregon Wines Tread the Line Gabe Sasso <p>Columbia Valley, Columbia Gorge, and Walla Walla Valley: a triumvirate of outstanding wine producing regions with a fascinating twist. While there are numerous ways in which these three areas are vastly different from each other, they have one key similarity. Their acreage spans across both Washington and Oregon states. I spent a week traveling through the three regions. There were times when I was standing in a vineyard, tasting wine, and unsure if I were in Washington or Oregon. State borders don&rsquo;t always follow the rules of the vine. These three areas, regardless of state lines, share characteristics that impact the wine in question. Another thing all three regions have in common is that an impressive number of well-made wines are available at an incredible price to quality ratio. Everywhere I visited, wines of proportion loaded with typicity and flavor greeted me. Now I&rsquo;m excited for them to greet you.<br /> These are by and large wines that have relatively low alcohol by new world standards. This was particularly true in Columbia Gorge which is a treasure trove of excellent, aromatic white wines. Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley also had some tasty whites but I was generally more taken with the reds in those areas.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Over my time tasting in these three terrific regions many dozens of wines passed my lips. From that I&rsquo;ve culled my 16 favorites. These are the bottles I&rsquo;m still thinking about, the wines I&rsquo;m going to badger my local bottle shop to stock, and the producers I&rsquo;m most likely to revisit the next time I&rsquo;m in the area. These are also the bottles you should make a strong effort to acquire. Distinct and delicious wine abounds in each and every bottle. While you&rsquo;re at it, plan your next wine vacation to the area and pick up a few bottles on site.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Vital Winery 2015 Ros&eacute;</strong></a> ($15)</div><br /> <div><br /> Here&rsquo;s a Ros&eacute; produced from Sangiovese sourced at Seven Hills Vineyard in Walla Walla Valley. This Ros&eacute; has a beautiful pale pink hue. Aromas of wild strawberry are dotted with bits of cr&egrave;me fraiche. Red fruits flavors dominate the palate and lead to a crisp, refreshing finish. All of the profits from this wine go to a no questions asked clinic right in Walla Walla. So drinking this wine is good for you since it&rsquo;s delicious and it does some good as well, a win win.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Brooks 2013 Gew&uuml;rztraminer</strong></a> ($20)</div><br /> <div><br /> All of the fruit for this Gew&uuml;rztraminer was sourced at the Oak Ridge Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge. Asian pear and spices elements highlight an absolutely stunning nose. Peach, apricot and bits of Lychee fruit dominate the lovely palate. Bits of spice and continued white fruits appear on the finish. This beautifully dry wine has a gorgeous mouthfeel and texture.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Cor Cellars 2015 Alba </strong></a>($20)</div><br /> <div><br /> This is a blend of Gew&uuml;rztraminer (56%) and Pinot Gris (44%) from the Celilo Vineyard in the Columbia Gorge. Aromas of pineapple and citrus are prominent. Toasted hazelnuts, tangerine zest and fleshy yellow fruit flavors rule the palate. Spice notes mark the crisp, zippy finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Viento 2012 Dry Riesling</strong></a> ($20)</div><br /> <div><br /> The Columbia Gorge vines this fruit came from had 31 years of age on them. White flowers and bits of linseed oil are apparent on the nose. Peach and dried apricot flavors are abundant through the palate. White pepper and continued white and yellow fruit flavors are abundant on the finish. This Riesling will age well for many years to come.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Violia Wine Cellars 2014 Barbera d&rsquo;Alder</strong></a> ($25)</div><br /> <div><br /> Fruit is from Alder Ridge Vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills, WA. Dark fruit aromas with a slight bit of tar emerge from the immensely appealing nose. Lots of dry, dark berry flavors and savory herbs mark the even-keeled palate. Bits of chicory and cranberry emerge on the finish. Excellent acid and firm tannins provide great structure. Grab some sharp cheese, salami, bread and a bottle of this wine for an outstanding evening of pleasure.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Maryhill 2012 Barbera</strong></a> ($26)</div><br /> <div><br /> This is entirely Barbera from the Estate Vineyard located in the Columbia Valley. This killer food wine shows off toasty oak and dark berry fruit aromas. The palate is stuffed with an interchanging m&eacute;lange of red and black fruit flavors. Savory herbs and spices are present on the luscious, mouthwatering finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Grochau Cellars 2013 Tempranillo</strong></a> ($28)</div><br /> <div><br /> This Tempranillo was made from fruit sourced at Sugarloaf vineyard in the Yakima Valley. Red cherry aromas and bits of cigar box are apparent on the nose. The palate is stuffed with lush red fruits, savory herbs and hints of leather. A cornucopia of spices such as cinnamon and clove are part of the long finish alongside continuing red fruit flavors.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Jacob Williams 2013 Zinfandel</strong></a> ($30)</div><br /> <div><br /> This Zinfandel was sourced at The Gunkel Vineyard in Wishram, WA, which is part of the Columbia Valley. Black and red raspberry aromas are joined by a touch of eucalyptus. Savory herbs, black cherry, and red plum flavors dominate the palate. Hits of mint and spice as well as more juicy fruit flavors are present on the long finish. This is a distinct expression of Zinfandel.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Helioterra 2013 Red Mountain Mourv&eacute;dre</strong></a> ($31)</div><br /> <div><br /> The Red Mountain district was the source of this fruit. Bay leaf aromas are at play alongside red and black plum flavors. Copious spice elements, subtle red earth and continued dark fruits are all part of the above average finish. Firm tannins and acid provide excellent structure here. Delicious now this Mourv&eacute;dre will age gracefully for a dozen years.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Heart Catcher 2012 Zinfandel</strong></a> ($35)</div><br /> <div><br /> The fruit is from the Volcano Ridge Vineyard in Columbia Gorge. The nose here is filled with red plum aromas. Raspberry and red cherry flavors dominate the full flavored and well-proportioned palate. Juicy red and black fruits are joined by pepper spice on the long finish. This is an impeccably balanced example of Zinfandel that will pair with an astounding array of food styles.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Woodward Canyon 2014 Chardonnay </strong></a>($44)</div><br /> <div><br /> Fruit for this wine was sourced in both Columbia Gorge and Walla Walla Valley. Pineapple and papaya aromas leap from the nose here. Tons of fresh yellow fruit flavors fil the lively palate. Anjou pear, green apple and baking spices are in evidence on the above average finish. The use of oak here was judicious and it lifts the fruit to a higher plane, doesn&rsquo;t detract from it. This is a really terrific example of well-made Chardonnay.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Cana&rsquo;s Feast 2013 Sangiovese Grosso</strong></a> ($45)</div><br /> <div><br /> This Sangiovese was produced entirely from Sangiovese Grosso planted on Red Mountain in 1975. Occasionally a wine will stop me dead in my tracks, such is the case here. Red cherry, leather and bits of cinnamon appear on the nose. Raspberry, bay leaf and black cherry tell the story of the generous, deep and layered palate. Succulent red fruits and continued bits of spice are part of the prodigious finish. I wasn&rsquo;t expecting to find a Sangiovese with the soul of a Brunello in the PNW, but I did. Drink it now or lay it down for a decade either way it&rsquo;ll be a delight.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Seven Hills Winery 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon</strong></a> ($45)</div><br /> <div><br /> The Seven Hills Vineyard was planted in Walla Walla Valley in 1980. Rosemary, sage and black raspberry aromas are prominent. A deluge of black cherry flavors lead the palate alongside bits of toast and vanilla. Roasted espresso and a dusting of cocoa emerge on the elegant finish. This is a lovely and refined example of Cabernet Sauvignon</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Co Dinn Cellars 2013 Syrah Roskamp Vineyard Block Two</strong></a> ($50)</div><br /> <div><br /> This wine is composed entirely of Yakima Valley Syrah. The nose is big and a bit booming with blackberry and a host of spices leading the way. Boysenberry, black raspberry, cherry and savory herbs are present on the dark fruit-driven palate. Chicory, dark chocolate and pepper are all evident on the finish. This will be a great accompaniment for grilled meats.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Wy&rsquo;East Vineyards 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir </strong></a>($52)</div><br /> <div><br /> This Pinot was made from Estate fruit grown in the Hood River section of Columbia Gorge. Bits of red currant and spice emerge on the nose. Wisps of cherry, pomegranate and cranberry are all apparently on the palate. Black tea, finely ground earth and a bit of bay leaf present on the long finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Delmas 2012 Syrah</strong></a> ($65)</div><br /> <div><br /> All of the fruit comes from the Estate SJR Vineyard in the newly designated &ldquo;The Rocks&rdquo; district within Walla Walla Valley. Delmas makes one wine each year and this is it. The Syrah is co-fermented with Viognier. The lifted nose shows red fruit as well as white flower aromas. Blueberry and gentle wisps of appealing tar lead the dense and layered palate. Cherry, spice, Savory herb and hints of blackberry are present as well. The finish here is long, lush and engaging with fruit minerals and more. What I love most about this spectacular Syrah is the absolutely wonderful mouth-feel that has excellent weight and gravitas.</div><br /> </p> Thu, 14 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6821 Your Wine: It’s All About the Oak! Nova McCune Cadamatre <p>One of the first things that comes to mind when a consumer envisions a winery is a huge stack of barrels. The amazing smell of wine soaked oak with its toasty, warm wood scent is intoxicating. As a winemaker, I never get tired of it. It always smells good assuming that the winery is taking proper care of their investment with cleanliness and sanitation procedures. There are many mysteries surrounding oak however. What is it used for? Why? Who decided that it was the best wood for wine?<br /> It is not certain when oak was first used for wine storage however the general consensus is that it has been used for wine production for over 2,000 years most likely originating with the Romans during their conquests of France. There are two main types of oak that are used in winemaking; European Oak, which can come from France, Hungary or Yugoslavia, and American. The species of European oak can be from Quercus robur or Quercus petraea and American oak is typically Quercus alba. French oak is typically the most prized of the European oaks due to the fine nature of tannins although it is from the same species as the Central European trees. Both types have pros and cons and typically the choice comes down to winemaker preference and desired style.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The European Oak species grow more slowly than their American cousin which makes the rings in the trunk appear more closely together. This gives the staves made from this species a tighter grain. Why does this matter? The tighter grain gives the oak different flavors from its wider grained cousin. It also encourages the addition of extra oak tannins. The flavors given off by the wood depends on the toast level.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>American Oak Toast Profiles:</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Light Toast/Medium Toasts = Coconut, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, and Cinnamon</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Medium +/ Heavy Toasts = Toasted Marshmallow, Caramel, and Cloves bordering on coffee</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>French Oak Toast Profiles:</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Light Toast/Medium Toasts = Vanilla, Baking spices, and Cedar</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Medium +/ Heavy Toasts = Roasted Coffee, Tobacco, Smoke, and Charcoal</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> One of the most challenging things to a winemaker about choosing oak is that each Cooper (Barrel Maker) has their own definition of each of the toast levels above. The final flavors of the oak are very much driven by the Cooper profile. This makes it very difficult to decide what a wine will taste like once your wine is put into it without trying it out on the wine to begin with. This is why barrel trials are such an important part of any winery oak plan. Coopers are constantly coming up with the next best thing and a careful winemaker will try one or two barrels to determine if the change will be positive or negative for their wine profile. Some wines like very structured barrels and others need more delicate profiles. Once a winemaker has decided what oak to use and what toast level all that is left is to decide what form the oak will take.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Oak Barrels:</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Barrels are the traditional choice. They can be formed several ways including through fire, steam, or water then toasted using heat, usually from an open flame. They allow the wood to integrate into the wine consistently while softening the wine through the occasional introduction of oxygen throughout the topping process. The wood itself does not transmit very much oxygen once it becomes saturated with wine and tartrate crystals. They are convenient fermentation vessels for white wines as the small amount of volume per barrel does not heat up rapidly and can be easily controlled by placing the barrel in a temperature controlled room or cave. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Oak Staves:</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Similar in shape to the staves that will eventually become barrels, oak staves are long segments of oak that are individually toasted without the bending process. The staves I&rsquo;ve seen are usually thinner than the barrel staves but depending on the producer they are toasted in much the same way as barrels or they can be roasted in a convection oven. Again, like barrels, the toasting method very much depends on winemaker preference and each way does tend to produce different flavors. The flavors and quality of staves varies widely from stave producer to producer. Poor quality staves tend to have the flavors sit very intensely on the nose of the finished wine but lack follow through on the palate. Good quality staves, when applied properly, can integrate very well and can be difficult to tell apart from barrels.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Oak Segments:</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This section of oak runs by many names. They are smaller than staves but usually larger than dust. They can be cut up staves, beans, cubes, chips or spirals and they usually come packaged in an infusion bag similar to that of tea (only larger of course). These are great for quick infusions of oak but when used too liberally can have the same problem as staves where the oak sits on the wine but never integrates. They can be useful for reviving older barrels but can be difficult to work around if lees stirring is part of your winemaking style. Like most things, a little bit goes a long way!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Oak can add significant dimension and depth to a wine. It can increase complexity or it can overwhelm the fruit and drive the style. Many winemakers I have worked with have used the phrase &ldquo;The oak respects the fruit.&rdquo; This means that it complements it, does not overwhelm the fruit, and enhances the overall quality of the wine. This is the holy grail of a wine and oak marriage. When one assesses oak quality what a winemaker is looking for is this harmonious blending of grape and wood. This is why oak integration is such an important factor in determining the inherent quality of a wine. Understanding how a wine will react to oak is the task of a winemaker. Understanding why the winemaker did what they did is the task of the consumer. &nbsp;Either way it can be enjoyable to find out. &nbsp;&nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Tue, 12 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6820 Godello Wines Have Arrived John Downes <p>I&rsquo;d never heard of Godello until a few years ago but this Spanish white grape variety is now a regular on U.K. wine shelves. What&rsquo;s more, it&rsquo;s here to stay; it&rsquo;s easy to pronounce, the wines taste good and, let&rsquo;s be honest, we all like to tell our mates about a &lsquo;new&rsquo; wine. Godello comes from north-west Spain where the vineyard areas of Bierzo, Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra and Monterrei have taken this &lsquo;new kid on the block&rsquo; to heart. I recently tasted several Godello wines from Bierzo where the variety thrives amongst the mountains, castles and pine forests of this beautiful vineyard region. That flight of dry, zesty, crisp citrus, apricot and peach wines made my day. Bierzo is a small, remote ancient region in the north-western corner of the Castilla y Le&oacute;n province close to the border with Galicia, (north of the Portuguese border) and is one of Spain&rsquo;s rising stars. Add Godello into the equation and&hellip;it&rsquo;s looking good. <br /> If you want to spend a few days in the vineyards the nearest airport is Vigo on the coast but if fancy walking, the market town of Cacabelos is a well known resting point along the world famous Camino de Santiago. When the pilgrims arrive in Bierzo with blistered feet &lsquo;the end is in sight&rsquo; for Santiago de Compostella is just up the road. &nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Bierzo gained its D.O. (Denominacion de Origin) in 1989 and comprises two zones, Bierzo Alto (high Bierzo), where terraced plots cling to steep slopes and Bierzo Bajo (low Bierzo), the plain below. The vineyards lie between 450 and 1000 metres above sea level, their soils varying from the alluvial plain to the prestigious high level slate. The region&rsquo;s cool climate is a result of the influence of the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Although summer temperatures can be in the mid to high twenties centigrade, winter temperatures as low as four degrees make it no surprise that the clever pilgrim takes to the well trodden path under the springtime sunshine. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Bierzo is also slowly gaining reputation for its reds from the little known Mencia grape; like Godello they&rsquo;re well worth searching out. For all my global anorak readers; for years it was rumoured that Mencia was related to Cabernet Franc, the classic red grape of the Loire Valley and Bordeaux but recent DNA tests show that the nearest link is Portugal&rsquo;s Jaen variety. Don&rsquo;t worry, I&rsquo;d never heard of Jaen either!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Bierzo&rsquo;s reds of old were simple rustic affairs but things have changed as a new generation of winemakers have realised Mencia&rsquo;s potential to produce bright, juicy black fruit, plum wines. You&rsquo;ll see &lsquo;Crianza&rsquo; on the labels of Bierzo reds which means that the wine must by law be aged for a minimum of 6 months in oak barrels and a minimum of 18 months in bottle before hitting our shelves. &lsquo;Reserva&rsquo; means that it must spend at least 12 months in oak and 24 months in the bottle before release into our glasses.&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So, look out for Bierzo red, you&rsquo;ll be well rewarded but don&rsquo;t forget the rising white star of this up and coming region&hellip;&lsquo;no more waiting for Godello!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> <em>John Downes, one of only 340 Masters of Wine in the world is a corporate entertainer, speaker, television and radio broadcaster and writer on wine. Check out John&rsquo;s website at <a href=""><strong></strong></a>. Follow him on Twitter <a href=""><strong>@JOHNDOWNESMW</strong></a></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> </div><br /> <br /><br /> </p> Thu, 07 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6818 Must-Drink Grapes from Greece Claudia Angelillo <p>Consider the inroads Greeks have made for us moderns in architectural design, mathematics, theater and more; wine is no exception. Greece is an indisputable forbear of grape growing and winemaking. Every sip of Greek wine represents expertise and intuition spanning centuries. These days, Greece&rsquo;s indigenous wine grapes are crushing it, as it were, in the United States. While there are over two hundred native varieties, the following four Greek grapes have a growing presence in key US markets. The grapes have evolved to thrive in Greece&rsquo;s extremely hot and arid conditions. They are an opportunity to try something truly distinctive and significant in the context of wine history. It&rsquo;s time to unearth the essence of Greece&rsquo;s four flagship grapes.&nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /> <br /><br /> </p> Fri, 01 Jul 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6817 When You Run Out of Wine: Rum for a Change Gabe Sasso <p>Have you discovered the joys of sipping your rum neat, or are you only mixing it into cocktails? Both are certainly delicious ways to enjoy rum. However if you&rsquo;re not yet familiar with expressions that can be sipped much like one would scotch you&rsquo;re missing out. I recently returned from spending some time in Venezuela visiting Diplom&aacute;tico, one of the world&rsquo;s leading rum producers. Over a few days I toured their production facility and farm where they grow sugar cane. In addition to making delicious, world class expressions of rum, Diplom&aacute;tico is also doing things the right way. Some producers doctor their rum and what ends up in the bottle isn&rsquo;t a pure expression, this isn&rsquo;t the case with Diplom&aacute;tico. On top of that their farm and distillery are run sustainably. All of the waste from turning sugar cane into rum is treated and turned back into the field as a fertilizer. They even share the treated waste with neighbor farms. Diplom&aacute;tico also supplies the power to run their facilities. Other spirits are produced on the property as well, but the lineup of rums is the core of their operation.<br /> During my time in Venezuela I drank cocktails of all sorts and tasted each of their rums neat as well. I did this both with and without food; their rums work well in each setting. The highlight, for me, of a wonderful time in Venezuela was a side by side of their four sipping rums. Tasting these along with their Master Blender Tito Cordero was eye-opening, educational and a great pleasure.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Diplom&aacute;tico Reserva ($24.99)</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This is the entry level offering in Diplom&aacute;tico&rsquo;s quartet of sipping rums. Black fig and subtle bits of banana appear on the nose. Toasted hazelnut, dates, and a pure blast of molasses fill out the lovely palate. Vanilla bean, roasted coffee and dried plum flavors are evident on the above average finish. &nbsp;There are very few rums on the market that can compete on price and quality here. It&rsquo;s inexpensive enough that you won&rsquo;t mind blending it into cocktails and refined enough to sip neat</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Diplom&aacute;tico Reserva Exclusiva ($39.99)</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Vanilla, hints of cr&egrave;me fraiche and orange peel are all evident on the nose. Mission fig, dates, maple syrup and more are all part of the palate which is deep, layered and loaded with wave after wave of refined flavors. Hints of chocolate sauce, salinity, and fruitcake spices are all present on the lengthy finish. This rum represents the heart and soul of Diplom&aacute;tico. It&rsquo;s their largest production, most widely available rum and most stunning value. There are many sipping rums on the market in the same price range as Reserva Exclusiva, but none match the value it delivers. &nbsp;If you want to blow away your spirits loving friends pour them this rum from Diplom&aacute;tico. The aromas and flavors will knock them out; when they hear the price they&rsquo;ll run out and buy a bottle or two. This has the taste of luxury without the associated price tag. Put another way this is the best combination of quality, flavor and value in sipping rum available on liquor store shelves. Pour this and everyone will assume you&rsquo;re a liquor slinging genius.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Diplom&aacute;tico 2002 Single Vintage Rum ($114.99)</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This unique expression is made entirely from sugar cane harvested in a single year. Apricot aromas dominate the nose with bits of smoke in evidence as well. The generous palate is dotted with toffee, dark chocolate, black tea and dried white fig flavors. Salted caramel, marzipan, spice notes, and bits of taffy are evident on the impressively long finish. There&rsquo;s a nice bite and fantastic structure here that provides a bit of heft and additional depth and complexity. Once again there are many examples of rum available in the same general price point; some of them are quite nice. However the Diplom&aacute;tico Single Vintage outclasses them. In addition to the 2002 I also sampled the 1997 and the 2001. It&rsquo;s clear that it&rsquo;s not only fantastic rum, but it&rsquo;s also improved each time out. The leap from the 1997 to the 2001 is remarkable. The shift upward from 2001 to 2002 is far more subtle but palpable nonetheless.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Diplom&aacute;tico Ambassador ($294.99)</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The top expression in the Diplom&aacute;tico range is produced exclusively from copper pot still distillate. Aromas of fresh cut wheat and mulled fruit fill the intricate and welcoming nose. Toasty oak, golden raisins, chocolate and wisps of black tea are in in play on the profound and impossibly dense palate. References to Tawny Port, toasted hazelnuts and a copious array of spices line the prodigious finish. Simply put this is the best Rum that has ever touched my lips. From the first whiff to the last sip everything about Ambassador is remarkably impressive. This is a rum you&rsquo;ll want to share with your closest friends, sipping it over a long purposeful night as you contemplate its many intricacies and flavors. It would be impossible for me to overstate how complex, delicious and worth analysis Ambassador is. Strive to get your hands on a bottle; you&rsquo;ll be happy you did.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Reserva is multi-purpose rum; perfectly suitable sipped need (particularly with a twist of orange zest and an ice cube, but it&rsquo;s priced to work in cocktails too. &nbsp;At right around $30, if you shop around, the Reserva Exclusiva is the steal of the lineup. It not only knocks a lot of other similarly priced rums out of the water on quality and value, it also compares favorably from a value perspective to whiskey. You simply aren&rsquo;t getting nearly that level of quality in whiskies anywhere near these prices. The Single Vintage and Ambassador are bench mark rums whose quality and level of sophistication and expression other producers should be clamoring to achieve. Kudos to Diplom&aacute;tico for making such terrific expressions of Venezuelan rum that set the bar for other to emulate. Raise the stakes of your home bar by adding one or more of their offerings to your collection.</div><br /> </p> Fri, 17 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6815 There is Nothing Bourgeois about Cru Bourgeois Jeff Kralik <p>I did not really know much about wine when I started my junior year abroad studying in Strasbourg, France. At the time I was far more worried about the inebriating effect of wine than I was about aromas of pear skin or tayberry jam. In fact, I was more of a beer guy then, and I can recall several instances when a group of us would stop by the gas station in town to pick up a few liters of Kronenbourg, which was brewed right there in Alsace (to this day, you can buy alcohol in most gas stations in France, which must not help recent efforts to curb drunk driving).<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I lived with a French family that year and my French mother did her best to rid me of my rather pedestrian penchant for pilsners and replace it with a much more virtuous veneration for the vine (particularly those from France). She was clearly successful for the most part with one notable exception: Bordeaux.<br /><br /> <br /> From the beginning, I was not much of a Bordeaux fan, preferring instead the wines of Burgundy, which my French mother attributed to youthful ignorance. She claimed that most young people prefer Burgundy, but as their tastes &ldquo;matured&rdquo; and become refined, they invariably changed their preference to Bordeaux.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> My French mother said a lot of crazy things, but at the time I thought this may have been near the top (in retrospect, she was a xenophobe and a racist so this was rather tame in comparison). Part of the reason that I was no fan of Bordeaux was that even though there were myriad classifications, it remained difficult to find decent wine without having to take out additional student loans.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Back in 1855, Napol&eacute;on III called for a classification of the top Bordeaux producers and, for the most part, it has remained unchanged (despite clear changes in quality--both up and down--over that time). Since then, there have been other classifications in St. &Eacute;milion and Graves, the former of which being fraught with contentious reclassifications and legal challenges.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> No classification, however, has had a more colorful history than Cru Bourgeois. When I first learned of the classification, I thought of it as rather odd--I had most often heard the word &ldquo;bourgeois&rdquo; used as almost an insult, meaning to demean someone as having a &quot;middle-class&rdquo; small-mindedness approach to life (in fact, I always thought of the classic play by Moli&egrave;re, Le bourgeois gentihomme, which certainly did not maintain that being &quot;bourgeois&quot; was a good thing).</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In fact, &ldquo;bourgeois&rdquo; simply means &quot;of the bourg&quot; or &ldquo;of the town&quot; and in the case of Cru Bourgeois it indicates that the wines are accessible for the masses (i.e., not ridiculously expensive).</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The classification was initially drawn up in 1932 and included 444 Ch&acirc;teaux. It remained unchanged until 2000 when there was an attempt to reclassify the wines. And close to 500 Ch&acirc;teaux applied for the classification. After three years of work, just about half of the applicants were accepted and they were classified into three tiers: Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel, Cru Bourgeois Superieur, and Crus Bourgeois.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In true French fashion, however, those that felt slighted by the new classification sued, and in 2007, the entire system was scrapped. Those pesky Bordelais did not relent, though, and in 2010 introduced Cru Bourgeois not as a classification, but a mark of quality (and thus somehow skirting, at least for now, legal challenges). All wines from the M&eacute;doc could apply to have their wines judged by an independent body based on production and quality standards. 290 wines from the 2008 vintage were submitted in 2010 and 243 were accepted.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> It remains to be seen if this new approach to Cru Bourgeois will stand, but for now, it does seem to provide the consumer with some guidance when trying to find a quality Bordeaux wine at a reasonable price. I recently tried the following Cru Bourgeois wines, all of which would be welcomed on my table any time.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Ch&acirc;teau Haut Grignon Grande R&eacute;serve M&eacute;doc</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Retail $25. 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot. This wine is not labeled as a &ldquo;Cru Bourgeois&rdquo; on the label, but it has been a Cru Bourgeois since the 2013 vintage. Black cherry and blackberry exude from the deep violet wine along with earth and a touch of forrest floor. Fairly rich on the palate, with great red fruit and richness and it finishes with considerable backbone and tannic structure. This easily has another 4-6 years ahead of it (perhaps more) but it is lovely right now. Outstanding. <strong>89-91 Points.</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Ch&acirc;teau Haut-Logat Haut-M&eacute;doc Cru Bourgeois</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Retail $22. 45% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc. Deep purple color with a bit of blackberry wafting out of the glass along with a touch of balsamic, but really, even after open a few hours, the wine was rather muted. A different story on the palate with more expressive fruit and depth all the way through to the finish. More proof that the pundits just might have been right about the 2009 vintage. <strong>Outstanding. 90-92 Points.</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Ch&acirc;teau Larose Perganson Haut-M&eacute;doc Cru Bourgeois&nbsp;</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Retail $20. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot. 2012 is not regarded as an incredible vintage, but rather a &quot;classic&quot; one, meaning that this vintage is more typical than most. Inky dark in the glass with plenty of cassis, blackberry, and anise on the nose. An interesting wine as there is plenty of fruit, but it is also reserved and even a bit austere. When I have a bottle of wine like this, I kick myself for not drinking more Bordeaux. <strong>Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Ch&acirc;teau Saransot-Dupr&eacute; Listrac-M&eacute;doc Cru Bourgeois</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Retail $22. Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re, Merlot, Petit Verdot. A blend of all the classic Bordeaux varieties, with perhaps the most vegetal nose of the quartet, from the least remarkable vintage of the lot. It seems as though U.S. wineries strive to rid their wines of that green pepper on the nose, but I am not entirely sure why, as I feel it aids in the pairing of food. There is also a host of other sensations: black pepper, red berries, and some anise. On the palate, there is fruit, but it is in the second row behind the acidity and the earthiness. You might want to gulp down this wine, but with a shade more introspection, you will be rewarded. <strong>Very Good. 87-89 Points.</strong></em></div><br /> </p> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6802 New World Wine Secrets: Murrieta’s Well Snooth Editorial <p>California&rsquo;s Livermore Valley is entwined with the legacy of winemaking genius Carl H. Wente. He was among the first to harness Livermore&rsquo;s unique geographical orientation and terroir for quality grape growing and winemaking. The region and its gravely soils run from east to west; an exceptional position that draws bay breezes and fog in a direct path to the shore. What would otherwise be overwhelming warmth in the valley is tempered and cooled by these conditions. It&rsquo;s a phenomenon that nearby north to south-oriented regions cannot experience. Today, over one hundred and thirty years since Carl Wente&rsquo;s arrival in Livermore, his legacy lives on through the talents of his kith and kin. But generations of winemaking genius don&rsquo;t stop at the Wente label.&nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Murrieta&rsquo;s Well is one of California&rsquo;s best kept wine secrets. The estate winery&rsquo;s name honors Joaquin Murrieta, a miner in the California gold rush who discovered the property in the late 1800s. The vineyard area was first planted in 1884 with cuttings from Chateau d&rsquo;Yquem and Chateau Margaux, bridging the gap between the Old and New Worlds. It was purchased by the Wente family in 1930, and revitalized by fourth generation winegrower Phillip Wente in 1990 with a view toward crafting fine blends from small parcels of vineyard land. Decorated winemaker Robbie Meyer came to Murrieta&rsquo;s Well in 2015. With nineteen vintages under his belt and over one hundred 90+ point wines to his name, small block harvesting and superior blending are some of Robbie&rsquo;s specialties. His small-production blends clearly showcase a subtly powerful and elegant winemaking prowess. Grapes are carefully selected from each block on Murrieta&rsquo;s five hundred acre parcel. Every parcel is thoughtfully considered for inclusion in each blend. And like any feat of complex construction, Robbie builds his blends block by block.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Wines from Murrieta&rsquo;s Well are fashioned from tried and true vineyards by a modern craftsman in the spirit of Livermore Valley&rsquo;s California heritage. What&rsquo;s more: it&rsquo;s a time of great celebration at the estate! Stay tuned for more details on Snooth in the coming weeks. Until then, try some of the wine. These two signature blends are available nationwide at an incredible value.</div><br /> <br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well The Whip White Wine Blend Livermore Valley 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> Beautiful floral nose of orange blossom, hints of tea leaf and honeysuckle with good fruit character of green apple. Tangerine and grapefruit flavors coming through on the palate with ripe peach and zesty minerality towards the finish. Fun and approachable.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well The Spur Red Wine Blend Livermore Valley 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Touched on the nose with spiced blackberry and black cherry, a bit of earth and red licorice. Ripe cherry and mixed berry flavors in the mouth with a spice box character, beautifully earthy and approachable and refreshing, with full acidity and well integrated tannins, and a touch of blueberry and a clay note on the finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>A sneak peek at two of Robbie&rsquo;s small lot selections, only available at the estate in limited quantities:&nbsp;</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well Chardonnay Small Lot Livermore Valley 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Rich green apple and honeyed notes of pear, peach and dried apricot with a touch of sweet spice on the nose. This has plenty of character in the mouth but is nicely medium bodied with soft baked apple and pear notes, creamy vanilla frosting towards the finish which turns slightly zesty with hints of lemon meringue.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well Cabernet Sauvignon Small Lot Livermore Valley 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Molasses and dark plum aromas with hints of dried dates, cinnamon and blackberry. Gripping tannins in the mouth with zesty baking spice, full blown acidity brightening the palate, a touch herbal coming through the middle and bringing some cocoa and cassis in towards the finish that mixes in some ripe blackberry and black cherry.</div><br /> </p> Fri, 10 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6812 The Great Wine Grapes of Austria Snooth Editorial <p>It&rsquo;s not shocking to imagine that one of the most overlooked wine regions would also be home to some of the most unnoticed wine grapes. While there is much to say about the wines of Austria, this examination will focus on a handful of the lesser-known Austrian white grape varieties sure to excite white wine lovers everywhere. There&rsquo;s a chance you&rsquo;ve never heard of or tasted some of these grapes, yet each one has a presence in the US market. Austria has built its positive reputation on Gr&uuml;ner Veltliner, the country&rsquo;s most widely planted grape. Austrian Riesling is another fan favorite. These two outstanding varietal interpretations have distracted us from Austria&rsquo;s extensive portfolio of white wines made from underrated &ndash; and underpriced &ndash; white wine grapes. They&rsquo;re not household names just yet, but surely will kindle your curiosity. Read, consider, and secure yourself an outstanding value from your local retailer. Availability and demand suggest it&rsquo;s only a matter of time before these Austrian grapes saturate the wine scene. &nbsp;<br /> </p> Wed, 01 Jun 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6799 The Ultimate Cookie & Wine Pairing Guide Snooth Editorial <p>You&rsquo;ve been down this crumb-lined road before. Pairing cookies and wine is not a unique endeavor, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s an easy one. Sweet wines are an obvious choice, but you&rsquo;ll need to make sure that the sweetness is equal to or greater than that of your chosen treat. The truly intrepid will choose a dry wine, perhaps even a red one. Fruit notes in the wine should be preserved, if not amplified, while acidity must be muted. Pairing wine with savory dishes is a piece of cake, so to speak, compared to pairing wine with sweets. Furthermore, palates and preferences swing like a pendulum. It&rsquo;s a fact of humanity which renders the objectively perfect wine pairing nearly impossible. The goal is to find something that works for the majority of people, most of time. This month, the web&rsquo;s top wine writers are pulling out their best wine pairing skills. Not only will they reveal their favorite cookie, but also share its perfect pairing wine.&nbsp;<br /> </p> Thu, 26 May 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6796 The Barolo Wine Wars Have Begun John Downes <p>Barolo may be Italy&rsquo;s most famous red but surprisingly it hails from a very small vineyard region. Tucked into the top northwest corner, just south of the medieval town of Alba in the heart the Langhe region of Piemonte, it&rsquo;s barely 8 kilometres wide. The vineyards are breathtaking. The snowcapped Alps form a distant backdrop to a series of hillsides and valleys above the Tanaro river that produce complicated microclimates; by the end of the day dramatic shadow patterns pass over the vineyards blessing the top sites with those all important extra hours of sunshine. The climate is continental, with extended summers and autumns enabling the fickle Nebbiolo grape to achieve sunny ripeness. Tip; avoid Piemonte&rsquo;s brass monkey winter! Barolo is produced from 100% Nebbiolo in eleven communes where generally two soil types rule, namely sandy marls found in the communes of Barolo, La Morra, Cherasco, Verduno, Novello, Roddi and parts of Castiglione Falletto and older sandstone clays that give the remaining four communes of Monforte d&#39;Alba, Serralunga d&#39;Alba, Diano d&#39;Alba and Grinzane Cavour a muscular, tannic style. That said, all top traditionally made Barolos hold onto their classic notes of tar, violets and black cherry backed by mouth- puckering tannins, crisp mouth-watering acidity and mouth-filling alcohol. Italians proudly make their wines to match their amazing food so with this traditionally powerful fruit-tannin-acid balance you can see why they call Barolo the &lsquo;king of wines&rsquo;.&nbsp;<br /> For my anorak readers around the world, an informal &lsquo;cru&rsquo; vineyard status exists amongst the winemakers (pioneered by La Morra winemaker Renate Ratti), so look out for Cannubi, Sarmazza, Brunate, Cerequi, Rocche, Monprivato, Villero, Lazzarito, Vigna Rionda, Bussia, Ginestra and Santo Stefano di Perno on the label. A great way to see the region is to follow the &lsquo;vineyard road&rsquo; as it winds its way through these top Johnny vineyards taking in imposing ancient hill-top castles at every turn. You soon realise that almost every wine village is perched on its own hill!&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Italian wine laws (D.O.C.G regulations) say that Barolo must be 3 years old before bottling, two of them in chestnut or oak; for the &lsquo;Riserva&rsquo; and &lsquo;Riserva Speciale&rsquo; titles, it&rsquo;s four and five years ageing respectively. During a visit to Alba back in the early noughties I tasted the latest Barolo releases&hellip;..shock-horror! These weren&rsquo;t the Barolos I&rsquo;d grown to love. New French oak suddenly appeared on the scene to give untypical in-ya-face toasty vanilla flavours to these classic wines. I didn&rsquo;t realise at the time but the &lsquo;Barolo Wars&rsquo; had begun. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Things are changing but the war still rages, a Titanic battle between the Traditionalists and the Modernists. The former always have, and always will, age their wines for lengthy periods (some incredibly for 40-50 days) in large wooden vats (botti). The Modernists, on the other hand, go for shiny, temperature controlled stainless steel vats with shorter fermentation periods giving less tannin extraction; 12 months or so ageing in French oak barriques, adds &lsquo;untraditional&rsquo; toasty vanilla flavours to tasting notes.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The latest from the &lsquo;war front&rsquo; is that the two sides are moving towards each other even though they remain far apart; the &lsquo;old boys&rsquo; are ageing for shorter (although still lengthy) periods to retain more fruit whilst the &lsquo;new kids&rsquo; are using fewer new oak barrels thus reducing the toasty vanilla fruit explosions.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> You pays your money and takes your choice but be careful, no matter what style you prefer Barolo doesn&rsquo;t come cheap. You&rsquo;ll need to spend at least &pound;25 ($50) and even then you can be disappointed. The moral of the story? Know the winemakers and which side they&rsquo;re fighting on. Some producers to look out for are Burlotto (Traditionalist), Cavallotto (T), Paolo Conterno (T), Fantino Conterno (Modernist), Mascarello (T), Renato Ratti (T), Rinaldi (T), Rivetti, Reverdito (T), San Biagio (T), Sandrone (M), Scavino (M), Vietti (T) and Veorzio (M).&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I can&rsquo;t sit on the fence I&rsquo;m afraid&hellip;&hellip;I&rsquo;m a traditionalist, although that said, I&rsquo;m not a fan of Barolo that&rsquo;s lost its fruit languishing in a large vat for weeks on end. So, traditionalists that have taken a touch of modernism onboard get my vote. Why not crack open one bottle of &lsquo;T&rsquo; and a bottle of &lsquo;M&rsquo; with friends this weekend; you&rsquo;ll have a wonderful time comparing these classics and who knows, you could end up as a war correspondent.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>John Downes, one of only 340 Masters of &nbsp;Wine in the world is a corporate entertainer, speaker, television and radio broadcaster and writer on wine. Check out John&rsquo;s website at <a href=""></a>. Follow him on Twitter <a href="">@JOHNDOWNESMW</a></em></div><br /> </p> Wed, 18 May 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6806 The Best Ribera and Rueda Wine Pairings in the World Snooth Editorial <p>Don&rsquo;t let anyone fool you: Perfect wine pairings do exist, but you must be mindful of the wine&rsquo;s geography, terroir, and character. Strong indigenous grapes, ideal climate and potent soils make for amazing palate possibilities. The yin and yang of wine regions, Ribera del Duero and Rueda, create the perfect opportunity for stellar food pairings at every kind of meal &ndash; from happy hour tapas to a steakhouse dinner. Meet your ideal mealtime companions: Rueda whites from the Verdejo grape, and Ribera reds made from the Tempranillo grape. Rueda whites put a swing in your step with unmatched acidity and mineral tones. Ribera reds embolden courses with their luscious tannins, smoky richness, and damson fruit flavors. These wines will enhance the perception of your plate&rsquo;s sugars, salts, and acids to create an otherworldly dining and drinking experience. Read on for some of our favorite bottles from both regions and pairing suggestions, recipes included. See you at the table!<br /> </p> Tue, 17 May 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6805 Thinking Pink: The Intricacies of Making Rosé Nova McCune Cadamatre <p>It&rsquo;s summer. The weather is warm and if you are like me, your thoughts are turning to more white wines rather than the hearty reds of winter. There is one style which is making a statement this season however and that is Ros&eacute;. It&rsquo;s a beautiful mix of the lightness of a white wine with a bit of classy structure hinting of its origins as red wine grapes. In Provence, one of the world&rsquo;s foremost Ros&eacute; producing regions, exports to the US have risen for 12 straight years with rapid growth in 2015 according to the Wines of Provence organization. The sales data from Nielsen also confirms that rose sales have risen not only in volume by over 50% but value as well over 60% for imported Roses. However, the love of Rose is not just a US phenomenon. Approximately 9% of all wine sold in the UK are ros&eacute; wines as well, surprisingly over half of which originate from the US! According to the Drinks Business, over the past 12 years global ros&eacute; consumption has increased 20%!<br /><br /> <br /> Much of this increase arises from ros&eacute;&rsquo;s easy to drink style and ability to so seamlessly pair with foods which require more structure than whites but a lighter body than a red would provide. It also stems from the &ldquo;pink is for women&rdquo; stigma finally being shed as dry ros&eacute;s are being seen as serious wines beyond the sweeter blush styles popular in the 1980s and 90s. So how does Ros&eacute; manage to bridge the worlds between white and red so successfully? The answer lies in several different winemaking techniques, each with their own result which can be used independently or together to achieve a desired style of Ros&eacute;. There are three main ways to make ros&eacute;; Skin Contact and Pressing, Saign&eacute;e, and Blending. &nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Skin Contact and Pressing</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This method is unique because the sole purpose of this method is to make ros&eacute;. Unlike Saign&eacute;e which has some side benefits, this method is employed when a winemaker wants to completely control the amount of structure and color in the ros&eacute; to the fullest. It starts by selecting the desired grape variety. In the south of France, such as Tavel this would be Cinsaut or Grenache. In Spain, it would be Garnacha perhaps with some Tempranillo. In the Loire, Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir may be employed while in the New World, the entire world of reds are open for experimentation. The next step would be to decide how much color and structure to extract from the skins once the fruit is crushed. Often, this is done right in the press with the skins remaining in contact with the juice from 4 hours to as much as 48. Winemakers then sample the juice to determine the color extraction and texture of the tannins before making a pressing decision. After pressing, the juice is treated like a white wine, meaning that it is settled and racked clean of solids at which point it is put into fermentation. Usually the fermentation temperature is on the cooler side to keep the bright fruity aromas from escaping out of the tank during the process. After that, the wine is stabilized, clarified and put to bottle usually quite early in the year. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Saign&eacute;e</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Saign&eacute;e (pronounced Sin-yay) is French meaning &ldquo;Bleeding&rdquo;. In this method, ros&eacute; is usually a side benefit of making a red wine. Many winemakers use the process of Saign&eacute;e to concentrate color, flavor, and tannins in a red wine by bleeding off juice. This reduces the skin to juice ratio in the fermentor and allows for a more intense and robust red. The resulting ros&eacute; can be quite light in color and it usually has minimal tannin extract from the skins since it is completed so early in the process, within a few hours of crushing the fruit. &nbsp;Because of this, blending different saignee wines is very important to create a final and holistic ros&eacute; which will stand on its own. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Blending</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Blending to make a ros&eacute; is when a white and a red wine are blended together to make a ros&eacute; wine. The resulting wine can be made in many different styles to suit many tastes and can be combined with the techniques above to layer in complexity and balance in the finished wine. It should be noted, however that blending to make ros&eacute; is not allowed in Europe outside of Ros&eacute; Champagne so this method is primarily employed in New World regions. Blending in additional red wine with skin contact or saignee rose would add additional structure, body, and color while blending in a white wine will reduce color and structure while adding aromatic fruit lift and palate freshness. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> By using one or more of these techniques, winemakers can change the style of their ros&eacute; to create their own unique statement. From pale salmon to deep rose and light and fresh to serious and structured, there is a ros&eacute; style for every occasion and particular palate. Luckily for all of us, we are just now entering the ros&eacute; season and there are plenty to choose from.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Originally from Greer, South Carolina, Nova McCune Cadamatre moved to New York to pursue Horticulture after what began as a research paper on grapevine diseases at SUNY Morrisville turned into a love of wines and vines. Her career started in Pennsylvania where she gained experience with cool climate varietals and traditional method sparkling wine. After moving to the Finger Lakes region of New York she refined her winemaking skills, both as Winemaker&rsquo;s Assistant at the Thirsty Owl Wine Company and as a Viticulture student at Cornell University. After becoming one of the first graduates of Cornell&rsquo;s Viticulture and Enology program in 2006, she moved to California to assume several winemaking roles, gaining diverse experiences in both table and sparkling wines from all areas of California most recently as the red winemaker for Robert Mondavi Winery in the renowned Napa Valley. She has furthered her knowledge through London&rsquo;s Wine and Spirit Education Trust with an Advanced Certificate in 2007, the Diploma gained in 2010, and is currently pursuing the Master of Wine Certification.Currently, Cadamatre lives in the Finger Lakes, NY with her family where she works as a Winemaker and continues her weekly blog at&nbsp;<a href=""><strong></strong></a>.&nbsp;</em></div><br /> </p> Tue, 10 May 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6801 Australian Riesling: No One Formula for a Great Wine Cathrine Todd <p>Those who know Riesling intimately, and drink it often, can argue that the top Rieslings are some of the greatest white wines in the world. It is interesting to think about its greatness in comparison to another top white variety &ndash; Chardonnay. Chardonnay is a chameleon, having a great affinity for expressing winemaking techniques and terroir while never having a distinct varietal dominance on the nose. Alternatively, no matter where it is grown, how it is vinified, be it sweet, dry or sparkling, Riesling will always let you know, to some degree, that it is there. Germany is Riesling&rsquo;s traditional home, and over the past decade German Rieslings have made a name for themselves in top wine drinking cities, such as New York City and London, among wine drinkers who do not mind tackling the complicated German wine classification system. The wines can be delicate with little extract, sweet palate, low alcohol and have a mineral driven nose such as found in the Mosel; or they can be big, textured with moderate alcohol and honey and ripe peach flavors as found in the Pfalz. There are the great Riesling sweet wines of Germany that make viscous wines at high sugar levels, such as their Eiswein (Ice Wine), displaying pristine tropical fruit, and their TBA (Trockenbeerenauslese), showing dried fruit flavors and spice that hints to the noble rot.<br /> At one time it was common for German Rieslings to be fermented in large oval casks (called Fuder) which helped to soften the harsh acidity and restrain the pronounced aromatics. As pure fruit flavors became more popular, German winemakers decided to use more protective practices with stainless steel. But what is interesting is that it seems winemakers are starting to go back to using Fuder, or have decided to use smaller barrels (such as barriques) while adding lees stirring (battonage) to their practices. These practices, with barrels, help to restrain the fruit flavors and soften the incredibly high acidity, which gives German Riesling an intense energy and ageability that makes these wines very exciting. Many consider German Riesling as the benchmark to judge all other styles around the world.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>A New Hope for Riesling in the New World</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Even though German Riesling has already established a niche following in major cities in the US, Riesling in general has just started to gain a wider acceptance due to US production of the variety.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> California has had mediocre success with off-dry Riesling. Oregon has a more suitable climate, but they have placed more focus on other varieties. In Washington State, Chateau Ste. Michelle has been championing Riesling for 40 years, and they formed a partnership with Dr. Loosen, from the Mosel, Germany, to make their Eroica Riesling series. But there is no other place in the US that is placing the majority of their focus on Riesling like New York&rsquo;s Finger Lakes.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Most winemakers in the Finger Lakes agree that the main variety they can count on is Riesling. Riesling is known as a hearty variety that can survive the toughest winters, and it can even thrive in extremely cold environments.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Finger Lakes&rsquo; winemakers will ferment their wines at low temperatures in stainless steel creating wines that give pretty, fruit flavors. The Finger Lakes produce Rieslings with crisp acidity and a very light body. They will range from dry to sweet and everything in between. These wines represent the greatness of Riesling with a US spin on it &ndash; mouthwatering, fruit focused wines.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Australia Redefining Great Riesling&nbsp;</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Australia gained commercial success in the US mainly by establishing brand Australia with ripe, fruit forward affordable red wines. It was a great way to quickly establish Australia wines in the US, but it has also had a downside - many wine drinkers do not realize that Australia is a big, vast country with the ability to produce high quality wines of various styles.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Australia has been producing premium Riesling for several decades &ndash; actually, their top regions for Rieslings have had vines there from the 1840s, with Eden Valley (in South Australia) having some of the worlds oldest Riesling vines. There is also the Great Southern region (in Western Australia). In general, Western Australia&rsquo;s wine style is a completely different animal than the South Australian wines found on the US market. And let us not forget Tasmania, which is an island that is part of the Commonwealth of Australia.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In South Australia, the regions of Clare Valley, Eden Valley and Barossa Valley have a Mediterranean warm climate that is moderated by cooling breezes and/or higher altitudes. The Great Southern and Tasmania both have a significantly cooler climate than the previously mentioned regions. Even though there will be more intensity of acidity from the regions of the Great Southern and Tasmania, most Australian wines shared a lifted lime note that can range from lime blossom to lime zest.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Australian Rieslings are typically produced using protective methods, such as fermenting in temperature controlled stainless steel and will spend no time in oak. Commonly, Australian Riesling will be dry (there are some medium dry exceptions) with a moderate alcohol level and light body.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The top Australian, German and Finger Lakes&rsquo; Rieslings all have some degree of minerality. But even though the top areas of Australia will have fresh acidity, the acidity will have a softer quality. There is also a bright high note of citrus that is more prevalent in Australian wines. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Rieslings in Clare Valley are known to be some of the finest in Australia. This is odd considering it is not a cool climate region. But the high altitude plantings with cool nights and low rainfall help to make this a great Riesling wine growing area. Of course like any area, there are some better vineyard sites than others. Watervale and Polish Hill both have great reputations, and I have a personal fondness for the lovely finesse, linear body and underlying flinty minerality often found in wines from Polish Hill. Because of the lime zest, sometimes kaffir lime, deliciousness of these wines, it makes one want to drink them immediately on purchase, but the top wines age beautifully becoming brioch and honeycomb flavored liquid gold.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A unique winery in Clare Valley, called Mount Horrocks, makes a &ldquo;cordon cut&rdquo; Riesling that is produced by hanging vines partially cut so that the grapes are encouraged to shrivel - concentrating their juice. This creates lush sweet wines with candied citrus flavors.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> When I think of Eden Valley, I think of lime blossom. Eden Valley Rieslings are intoxicating on the nose.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The overall warmer weather of Barossa Valley produces Rieslings that reach their peak sooner. They have good generosity of rich fruit and round acidity that have had successful mass appeal by producers such as Jacob&rsquo;s Creek.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The Great Southern, in Western Australia, has a significantly cooler climate and produces Rieslings with an interesting dried herb note and intensely mouth watering palate &ndash; I love these wines, and know they are not to everyone&rsquo;s liking, but they are unique and truly show the diversity of sense of place in Australia. Unfortunately, Western Australian wines are difficult to find in the US market.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tasmania is starting to make a global name for itself as a sparking wine producer. The cool climate helps them to make very delicate Riesling wines. There have been some interesting producers of Riesling emerging from this region and it is a region to keep your eye on.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I am fascinated by Australian Riesling. Don&rsquo;t get me wrong, I worship German Riesling, and I love drinking my fair share from Alsace, Austria and the Finger Lakes as well, but I love that Australian Riesling defies the odds. Riesling is a distinctive variety that came from a distinctive place. On paper, Clare Valley is not the ideal place to make Riesling. But Clare Valley not only shows us they can make drinkable Riesling, they make Riesling that can compete on the international stage. It reminds me that some things that don&rsquo;t look so great on paper may end up being the next big thing (or at least well respected among a small group of knowledgeable consumers) &ndash; greatness is not so easily defined and that&rsquo;s why there is no one formula for a great wine.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Bottle Recommendations:</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <a href="">2013 Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling, Clare Valley, South Australia&nbsp;</a></div><br /> <div><br /> <a href="">2012 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling, Clare Valley, South Australia</a></div><br /> <div><br /> <a href="">2004 Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling, Clare Valley, South Australia&nbsp;</a></div><br /> <div><br /> <a href="">2014 Pewsey Vale Vineyard Riesling, Eden Valley, South Australia&nbsp;</a></div><br /> <div><br /> <a href="">2014 Henschke Julius Riesling, Eden Valley, South Australia&nbsp;</a></div><br /> <div><br /> <a href="">2010 Plantagenet Estate Riesling Great Southern, Western Australia&nbsp;</a></div><br /> <div><br /> <a href="">2013 Glaetzer-Dixon &uuml;berblanc Riesling, 80% Tamar Valley, 20% Coal Valley, Tasmania</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Cathrine Todd is a Freelance Wine Writer in New York City. She was shortlisted for the Roederer 2015 Emerging Wine Writer of the Year, and her blog was a Wine Blog Awards&#39; finalist for Best New Wine Blog.&nbsp;</em><em>Visit her at&nbsp;<a href=""><strong></strong></a>&nbsp;and on Twitter @damewine</em></div><br /> </p> Thu, 05 May 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6795 Pressing Issues: Exploring a Small Portion of the Maze of Winemaking Decisions Nova McCune Cadamatre <p>To press or not to press? That is NOT the question. Rarely does anything in winemaking have an absolute however pressing is one of the few. Grapes must be pressed at some point in the process to release the juice or wine. However, even though grapes must eventually be pressed, it is the when, how and how much that are open to interpretation. What seems deceptively simple on the surface, when explored, reveals a maze of different combinations and outcomes.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> White wines are generally pressed prior to fermentation. When pressing prior to fermentation several things must be considered. If the fruit is in excellent condition, hand-picked, and still intact, whole cluster pressing may be the best option. This can be accomplished quite nicely with a basket press or with a more modern bladder press. The latter has the added benefit of being able to control the amount of oxygen that comes in contact with the juice. In the case of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, this is a critical part of the style. By completely blanketing the press itself and the press pan with dry ice (CO2) the juice can be kept in a reductive state (non-oxidative). This, in turn preserves the high toned thiol compounds (think grapefruit and passion fruit aromas) that define this style post fermentation. The recent rise of orange wines with skin contact during fermentation are the obvious exception to this rule. For these wines, as well as other white wines where some skin contact is desired, it may be better to destem and lightly crush the fruit. This breaks open the berries and allows the skin and juice to mingle together, resulting in additional flavor compounds and tannins from the skins to be released into the juice prior to pressing.<br /><br /> <br /> Red wines are usually pressed during or post fermentation. The timing depends highly on the style of wine that one is trying to create. Earlier pressing during fermentation will minimize tannin extraction and lead to a lighter style with gentle structure while waiting until fermentation has finished will generally result in a fuller bodied, more structured wine. This is, of course, subject to the general characteristics of the grape variety and vineyard. When I was making Cabernet Sauvignon from Lake County, I found that earlier pressing helped control the rather aggressive tannins that the volcanic soils of the area seem to generate. If one can control the tannin extraction throughout the fermentation to allow the wine to go dry on skins without over extracting, the resulting wine ends up being both well-structured and generous without being hard or tough. &nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The decision of how long to allow grapes to sit on their skins prior to pressing is another important one in the pressing process. In more neutral varieties such as Chardonnay, a small amount of skin contact can add extra palate texture and dimension. However, more aromatic varieties, especially Viognier and Gewurztraminer, tend to have higher tannins in the skins so in these cases additional skin contact could bring in bitterness which will then have to be fined out later through PVPP, Gelatin, or Isinglass treatments. For Ros&eacute;, the amount of time the juice spends on skins directly correlates to the depth and intensity of color in the wine as well as the resulting texture on the palate. Depending on the color content (anthocyanin content) of the variety, this time on skins can range from a few hours to a day or more. Red wines which have gone dry on the skins can be pressed immediately or they can be left for extended skin maceration with further integrates the tannins and middle palate texture. Each offers benefits to the final style of the wine but extended skin contact can be somewhat risky since the wine is no longer as protected from spoilage organisms, such as vinegar or lactic acid bacteria, as it was during fermentation. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The pressure at which to press can influence the style of the wine as well as the total volume in terms of wine yield per ton of grapes. In Traditional Method Sparkling wine production pressing is one of the first critical steps in defining the character of the final wine. Particularly in the cases where red grapes such as Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier are being used, the time on skins prior to pressing is of the upmost importance. Grapes must be pressed quickly to avoid color or tannins from bleeding into the juice because these aspects can negatively impact the final wine quality. While bladder presses will generally only go to 2 Bars of pressure, some basket presses will climb up to 5 Bars. On red wines these high pressure press wines can be extremely interesting with oily textures and thickly structured palates. In general, high pressures such as this only represent 1% or less of the yield of a ton of fruit but it can add interesting elements to the total wine when used.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Press cuts are another point of differentiation for wine styles. A press cut is a separation of juice or wine during the pressing process. For wineries with old style screw presses, the option of press cuts does not exist, however wineries with basket presses or more modern bladder or screw presses have the option to take as many cuts as they would like. Many Champagne houses only use the first gentle pressing, called free run juice, and perhaps part of the light press but usually they do not use the heavier pressing juice to minimize undesirable roughness in the juice. The defining points between free run, light press, and heavy press depend highly on the variety, the style of press used, and the desires of the winemaker. They can be based on pressure, time in the cycle, yield, pH, which climbs with increasing pressure, taste, or some combination of these. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While all wines have been pressed at some point, the differentiation in style and quality comes from the creative combination of the decisions made from the options available. With so many different variables, it is understandable how two winemakers with similar fruit from the same region can make radically different wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Originally from Greer, South Carolina, Nova McCune Cadamatre moved to New York to pursue Horticulture after what began as a research paper on grapevine diseases at SUNY Morrisville turned into a love of wines and vines. Her career started in Pennsylvania where she gained experience with cool climate varietals and traditional method sparkling wine. After moving to the Finger Lakes region of New York she refined her winemaking skills, both as Winemaker&rsquo;s Assistant at the Thirsty Owl Wine Company and as a Viticulture student at Cornell University. After becoming one of the first graduates of Cornell&rsquo;s Viticulture and Enology program in 2006, she moved to California to assume several winemaking roles, gaining diverse experiences in both table and sparkling wines from all areas of California most recently as the red winemaker for Robert Mondavi Winery in the renowned Napa Valley. She has furthered her knowledge through London&rsquo;s Wine and Spirit Education Trust with an Advanced Certificate in 2007, the Diploma gained in 2010, and is currently pursuing the Master of Wine Certification.Currently, Cadamatre lives in the Finger Lakes, NY with her family where she works as a Winemaker and continues her weekly blog at&nbsp;<a href=""><strong></strong></a>.&nbsp;</em></div><br /> </p> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6792 Top Wine Vintages You Need to Know About Snooth Editorial <p>It&rsquo;s not malarkey. Weather conditions have a huge impact on a wine grape&rsquo;s life, and vintage variations underscore the tie between winemaking and Mother Nature&rsquo;s caprice. Just like your home cooked meal hinges on the character of its ingredients, your wine is dictated by the experience of its grapes. While climate, terroir, soil, and je ne sais quoi play large roles, annual weather patterns are a crucial piece of the puzzle &ndash; one that can be unpredictable. Believe the hype, because vintage year makes a phenomenal difference on a number of factors that matter to you as a wine consumer. Beyond taste, vintage year holds sway over price, age-worthiness, and investment potential. Want some insider tips? Here, the web&rsquo;s top wine writers suggest some of the very best vintages from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Make space in your wine fridge and read on to unlock some of the very best vintage years from around the world.<br /> </p> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6791 Virtual Master Class: Wines of Roussillon Snooth Editorial <p>Think you know everything about wine in France? Think again. Here comes an unheralded region to titillate your palate in brand new ways. Roussillon has been a bastion of Catalan culture since the mid-seventeenth century. The amphitheater-shaped region borders Spain, so it&rsquo;s no wonder the local dialect sounds more like Spanish than French. Cultural fusion in combination with storied winemaking (spanning over two thousand years) have forged Roussillon&rsquo;s exquisite collection of distinct wines in a variety of unique styles. Roussillon wines bring us old, bush-trained vines (the kind that can&rsquo;t be harvested by machinery), diverse terroir (including gneiss, schist, granite and more), an idyllic Mediterranean climate, and incredible value. Due to the region&rsquo;s small size, quality is valued over quantity. Wine Advocate&rsquo;s Jeb Dunnuck named Roussillon&rsquo;s 2013 vintage &ldquo;The King of France&rdquo;, and the region is trending in knowledgeable wine circles worldwide. Earlier this month Snooth hosted a Virtual Master Class with Sommelier and Roussillon expert Caleb Ganzer, during which five top wine writers were invited to taste through a special selection of Roussillon wines while communicating with each other on a virtual platform. Our findings are chronicled in this article. Read on to unpack the potential of Roussillon!<br /> </p> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6793 The Languedoc's Sparkling Wine Secrets, Revealed John Downes <p>I have a theory. Easy to pronounce and easy to remember names help drive wine sales. Hence, Prosecco, the Italian sparkler has taken our shelves by storm, Picpoul de Pinet, the easy drinking white from the south of France has seen sales sky rocket, and Pinot Grigio has simply rewritten the script. And now, I have an exclusive for Snoothers. The next wine to rock our shelves is Limoux, that&rsquo;s Limoo to you and me. It&rsquo;s easy to say, sounds good and, it tastes good too! Sparkling wine is a popular choice the world over and whilst Blanquette de Limoux has been sitting quietly in our wine shops for years, it&rsquo;s Cremant de Limoux that I&rsquo;m tipping for sparkling stardom. Limoux Chardonnay (non bubbly) is also my hot tip. &ldquo;Where&rsquo;s Limoux?&rdquo;, I hear you say. It&rsquo;s in the Languedoc-Roussillon in the south of France, the region that&rsquo;s set between the steep slopes of the Pyrenees, the foothills of the Cevennes, the Mediterranean coast and the mighty River Rhone.<br /> The vineyards therefore benefit from a diversity of soils, climates and altitudes. Located around the town of Limoux, (surprise, surprise), the vineyards are not a million miles from the must-see town of Carcassonne and sitting in the Pyrenean foothills are higher and cooler than those of any other Languedoc-Roussillon appellation. The result is a wine that&rsquo;s light in colour and weight on the palate with crisp mouthwatering acidity; just right for sparkling wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The difference between Blanquette de Limoux and Cremant de Limoux? Traditional Blanquette de Limoux can be made from three grapes; Mauzac, the local variety which must constitute at least 90% of the wine, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Blanquette is the local name for Mauzac, meaning &ldquo;little white one&rdquo;, a reference to the underside of the leaves getting a white downy underside and not to the size of the grape itself&hellip;.a question coming to a pub quiz near you!&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Getting slightly technical, the grape varieties are vinified separately before blending and bottling. Then, similar to Champagne, a little sugar and a touch of yeast is added to produce a second fermentation in the bottle, resulting in a little more alcohol and carbon dioxide gas which, not being able to escape the sealed bottle becomes an integral part of the wine. Presto, we have a sparkling wine that, if it&rsquo;s made in the Limoux region from authorized grapes, can carry the name &lsquo;Blanquette de Limoux&rsquo;.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I tasted Antech&rsquo;s Blanquette de Limoux Brut Nature recently and wow&hellip;.the dry, sharp, fresh, edgy apple flavours with their earthy tones were a bit of a shock for the ol&rsquo; taste buds but it made for a wonderful aperitif and then went on to lift the fish course. Having no added sweetness it can be called &lsquo;Brut Nature&rsquo;; &lsquo;Ultra Brut&rsquo; and &lsquo;Brut Zero&rsquo; are other names for no- sugar sparklers.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Cremant de Limoux was introduced in 1990 primarily to allow producers to introduce more Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc into the blend to create more internationally recognized flavors into Limoux bubbly. &lsquo;Cremant&rsquo; must be made from up to 90 percent Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc with Pinot Noir (a red grape but don&rsquo;t forget it has white juice) and/or Mauzac making up the balance. Cremant de Limoux can be white or ros&eacute;.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> At the same tasting, Jean-Claude Mas&rsquo; Cremant de Limoux &lsquo;Prima Perla&rsquo; Brut proved popular. Made from Chardonnay (60%), Chenin Blanc (20%), Pinot Noir (10%) and Mauzac (10%), this crisp, light, apple citrus sparkler will bring a smile to your face. The Prima Perla Rose is also well worth a pour; Chardonnay (70%), Chenin Blanc (20%) and Pinot Noir (10%) get together to produce great color and cracking, fresh summer fruits to get any BBQ hopping.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Talking still (no bubble) wine, Limoux Blanc is traditionally made from Mauzac, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay grapes but it&rsquo;s the latter that&rsquo;s finding fame as a solo artist, thanks to vines that are some of the oldest in the south of France. Non-bubble, Limoux Chardonnay is also now well positioned to become a favourite on our shelves.&nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I had lunch with Laurent Delaunay of Languedoc winemakers Abbots &amp; Delaunay a while ago when he proudly told me that he comes from a Burgundian winemaking family. I should have guessed; Chardonnay is the link to his Burgundian roots. In the Languedoc he&rsquo;s searched out small, high altitude Limoux plots with the best old knarled vines to produce his Zephyr Chardonnay. The 2012 vintage carries less oak flavors than previous vintages I&rsquo;m pleased to say, and really hits the spot, &ldquo;you can feel the Burgundian in there&rdquo;.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So, Snooth readers are ahead of the game. Tell your friends that Limoux&rsquo;s the new kid on the block. Sparkling or still, made in the traditional way from classic grape varieties, you can pronounce it, it tastes good and importantly in these challenging times, it doesn&rsquo;t involve a second mortgage. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Looking to buy a Limoux near you? <a href=""><strong>Start here.</strong></a></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>John Downes, one of only 340 Masters of Wine in the world is a corporate entertainer, speaker, television and radio broadcaster and writer on wine. Check out John&rsquo;s website at &nbsp;<a href=""></a>. Follow him on Twitter <a href="">@JOHNDOWNESMW</a></em></div><br /> </p> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6790 Spring Whites That Deserve the Hype: Rueda Snooth Editorial <p>Call it what you&rsquo;d like: An old routine, a daily pattern, your go-to basics. You&rsquo;re stuck in a rut, and it can happen with your white wine choices, too. It&rsquo;s ok, though, we can get through this together. Shake awake your sleepy palate with value-packed white wines from Rueda in Spain. They&rsquo;re fresh and dazzling &ndash; fruity without going bonkers with remarkable acidity and mineral-spiked goodness. Savvy wine drinkers weary of overpaying for the same old same-old, Rueda Verdejo is your new best friend.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Rueda wine region is part of Spain&rsquo;s beloved Duero Valley. It&rsquo;s a true plateau, measuring eight hundred meters above sea level where searing hot summers force the vines to dig extra deep for a drink of water. No pain no gain is equally true for grapes, and these tough roots go through some serious training in Rueda&rsquo;s terroir. We&rsquo;re talking calcium and magnesium rich soils (which we can thank for all of those mineral flavors), including gravel, stone, and a smattering of hilltop limestone.<br /><br /> <br /> <strong>A Master of Her Trade</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> White wine lovers, take note: Rueda is the white wine that Spaniards most often pour or order, topping all other white wine consumption within the country. Rueda is the only region in Spain to specialize in producing white wines from the Verdejo grape, and since 1994, production has increased ten-fold in order to meet the demands of a thirsty market. Eighty-six percent of grapes grown in the Rueda are Verdejo, along with Viura, Sauvignon Blanc, and Palomino, which are used as faithful blending agents. If you see Rueda D.O. (Denominaci&oacute;n de Origen) on the label, it means that your blend contains at least 85% Verdejo. Oftentimes it will be more. When you see Rueda Verdejo on the label, the blend must contain 100% Verdejo. While most Rueda wines are light and easy-drinking, some producers ferment in barrels and age on lees. That&rsquo;s how fun and versatile the Verdejo grape can be!&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>The Cinderella of Wine Regions</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Though Rueda has been making wine for centuries, it received its matching glass slipper in the early 1970s when accomplished Spanish wine producer Marqu&eacute;s de Riscal sought the perfect place to create crisp, dry white wines. By 1980 the area secured Denominaci&oacute;n de Origen status, and the wines have been growing in popularity ever since. Rueda and Verdejo are inseparable, and the grape&rsquo;s flavor is unlike any other white wine grape in the world. What sets it apart, besides the full-bodied citrus and tropical melon flavors, is what every wine lover (and pairing-seeking foodie) craves: killer acidity that will match a mignonette as well as it will zip right through a rich butter sauce. You&rsquo;ll also find undercurrents of lightly smoked almonds and Brazil nuts wrapped in floral notes. The icing on your glass: These wines consistently overdeliver in the value category, generally falling in the $10-20 range.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>The Court of Opinion</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Rueda wines have devoted supporters not just in Spain, but around the world. Some key quotes from palates that matter:&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>&ldquo;Rueda Verdejo wines are crisp, dry, mineral driven with hints of citrus, like lemon and grapefruit zest, citrus blossoms as well as white peach and pineapple. These wines pair perfectly with a wide range of food such as salads, shellfish, light fish preparations and fruit dishes. For anyone looking to try something new and who usually likes Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, this would be a wine region and varietal to try!&rdquo; &ndash; Alex LaPratt, RyR Sommelier Ambassador, Master Sommelier and Owner of Atrium DUMBO in Brooklyn, NY</em>.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>&ldquo;Rueda possesses the unique ability to provide more than one style of Verdejo. The region produces both fresh, vibrant, and light whites, as well as beautiful Verdejos fermented in oak to provide depth and complexity. Pairing these Rueda wines is easy! Raw or grilled vegetables are PERFECT! Would also consider lighter fish and shellfish.&quot; - Charles Ford, RyR Sommelier Ambassador and Wine Director at The Bristol in Chicago.</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>&ldquo;White wine drinkers that like aromatic and bright wines will easily see the beauty of Verdejo.&rdquo; &ndash; Joey Campanella, General Manager and Sommelier, Fork Restaurant in Philadelphia. (Read more <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a>.)</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>&ldquo;A lot of what Verdejo offers is concentration. It has thick skin so I like the texture of the wine with our food. There tends to be an acceptance to absorbing flavor as opposed to cutting through it.&rdquo; &ndash; Yana Volfson, Sommelier, Cosme in New York City. (Read more <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a>.)</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>&ldquo;Rueda Verdejo has such an amazingly vibrant smell and flavor that make me happy. It&rsquo;s like a field full of butterflies, you have to be really cynical not to smile when you find it. The aromas of lemon, lime, hints of tropical or stone fruit, and the fresh, bracing palate &ndash; but often with more richness than other similarly crisp wines &ndash; make for a really delightful combination.&rdquo; &ndash; Jake Kosseff, Partner, Miller&rsquo;s Guild in Seattle. (Read more <a href=""><strong>here</strong></a>.)</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>&nbsp;Pairing Rueda: Do or Don&rsquo;t</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Rueda wines are an ideal mealtime companion, but they pair just as nicely with a couch as they do a dinner table. Doing some grazing during happy hour? Have a glass of Rueda with a dish of almonds, some warm black and green olives, and a few chunks of sharp cheese. When it&rsquo;s time for Sunday brunch, you&rsquo;ll want Rueda to bring out the best in your goat cheese omelet. Starter dishes like fresh tomato salad with balsamic reduction also call for Rueda. And while seafood paella and ratatouille are obvious choices, don&rsquo;t be afraid to experiment with grilled swordfish or spiced lamb. Yum!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em>For more information on what sommeliers and chefs are saying about or pairing with Rueda, visit <a href=""><strong></strong></a>.&nbsp;</em></div><br /> </p> Fri, 15 Apr 2016 00:00:00 -0400 article6787