Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Wed, 18 Jan 2017 09:28:07 -0500 Wed, 18 Jan 2017 09:28:07 -0500 Snooth The Perfect Event for Wine & Spirits People <p>ProWein is back. Wine and spirits professionals from around the globe are booking flights and rooms for this annual trade event in D&uuml;sseldorf, Germany. This year&rsquo;s event is shaping up to be better than ever.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> More than 6,300 exhibitors from sixty nations will attend ProWein. You&rsquo;ll encounter many regions from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria, the New World and more. But it&rsquo;s not just the usual mainstays that make ProWein so special; it&rsquo;s also about discovery. Winemaking regions in countries like Ecuador, Poland and more will be at ProWein too. This event is at the forefront of trends, and it leads the charge on moving the wine industry forward year after year.<br /> There will be 295 winegrowing regions and 400 spirits specialties represented in a multitude of ways. Take the FIZZ Lounge, where bartender Tom Weinberger will make magic happen with genius combinations of coffee, wine and craft beer. Heavenly matches will be made when buyers, importers, and wholesalers visit &ldquo;Route USA&rdquo;, a special section of the event where one can meet producers looking for importing and distribution partners in the United States.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> ProWein will take place March 19 through the 21, 2017.&nbsp; Visit <a href=""></a> or email <a href=""></a> to learn more. Ready to book your travel? Visit <a href=""></a> or write to <a href=""></a>.</p> Wed, 18 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6886 ProWein 2017 – The Global Stage for the Global Wine Industry <p>For 3 days in March, D&uuml;sseldorf, Germany will become the center for the international wine sector. After more than two decades, ProWein, International Trade Fair for Wines and Spirits, has become the wine industry&rsquo;s most important trade show. Since its inception in 1994, the number of exhibitors has grown 15 times, visitor participation 30 times and the occupied space 18 times. This year, trade visitors will again top 55,000 from around the world.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> ProWein is truly global, with more than 6,000 exhibitors from over 60 countries &ndash; with 84% from outside Germany. There will also be more than 400 spirits exhibitors from 30 countries.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Over 500 ancillary tastings, seminars and workshops will take place either in the ProWein Forum or directly at the exhibitors&rsquo; stands. Special shows will address wine marketing and packaging while unique lounges will feature champagne creations and bar trends.<br /><br /> <br /> <br /><br /> Most important, ProWein is all-business: only members of the trade attend.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Its size, scope, calendar primacy and organization have combined to make it an annual hotbed for ongoing business, market development and networking as well as a launch pad for new products and ventures.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Especially for US visitors:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> For U.S. buyers, importers and wholesalers coming to the show, ProWein and Wine Enthusiast have built &ldquo;Route USA&rdquo;. Special booths signage will guide U.S. visitors to those producers with an interest in finding importing and distribution partners in the United States.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong><a href=""></a></strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> To save time and money, order tickets online at <strong><a href=""></a></strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Questions? ProWein&rsquo;s U.S. office is here to help: Messe D&uuml;sseldorf North America, <strong>Tel. (312) 781-5180</strong>, <strong><a href=""></a></strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> For accommodations, contact <strong>TTI Travel Inc</strong>., at <strong>(866) 674-3476</strong>; <strong><a href=""></a></strong>; <strong><a href=""></a></strong></p> Fri, 13 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6883 Snooth Editorial Update Snooth Editorial <p>We are pleased to announce the latest updates and additions to our editorial program.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mark Angelillo will take the mantle as Snooth&rsquo;s chief taster. As architect of one of the world&rsquo;s largest wine sites, Mark brings over a decade of experience to the editorial panel. He will be conducting winemaker interviews, making wine recommendations, and penning themed articles throughout the year.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Celebrated Master of Wine John Downes will continue writing his beloved &lsquo;NOBULL WINE&rsquo; column.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Nova Cadamatre will continue to make contributions from the perspective of a skilled winemaker.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Gabe Sasso will redouble his efforts on spirits this year. He will be making regular contributions to Snooth&rsquo;s liquor and cocktail-focused site, <a href=""><strong>The Spirit</strong></a>. Keep your eyes open for new and cool things from Gabe at The Spirit!<br /> Finally, we are excited to welcome our newest Writer-in-Residence, the incredibly talented Michelle Williams. Michelle writes freelance about wine, food, and travel and on her award-winning blog <a href=""><strong>Rockin Red Blog</strong></a>. She is one of the Top 100 Most Influential Wine Bloggers. Michelle resides with her family in the Dallas area and has an affinity for pairing wine with music. Michelle holds a master&rsquo;s degree in History of the Christian Tradition and enjoys discovering the links between wine and religious history. Michelle&rsquo;s passion for wine is equaled by her passion for knowledge; therefore, she embraces global travel to experience wine regions first hand.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> All inquiries about our editorial program may be sent to <strong><a href=""></a></strong>. Thanks for reading!</p> Wed, 11 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6885 More Champagne Beats January Blues John Downes <p>A friend of mine&rsquo;s wife gets really annoyed if I recommend wines over $15 (&pound;10), not to mention my mates in the pub, so I&rsquo;m expecting a lot of flack when they read this article! Why? The Champagne us <em>Snoothers </em>are about to chat about is $400 (&pound;300). In case you&rsquo;re wondering, that&rsquo;s $400 a bottle, not a case! The wine? Moet et Chandon&rsquo;s Dom Perignon P2 1996.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There&rsquo;s Champagne and there&rsquo;s Champagne. The bottle you and I pick off the shelf from time to time as we part with our $40 (25 quid) or so will probably be &lsquo;Non Vintage&rsquo;; that means that it&rsquo;s a blend of several years&rsquo; grape harvests. If we push the boat out and splash $70 (&pound;50) it&rsquo;ll probably be vintage Champagne, a wine made from a single, exceptional year&rsquo;s harvest. As you&rsquo;ll see, the message is the better the fruit, the better the wine, the higher the price. So, for 300 quid you&rsquo;ll be expecting amazing fruit and a phenomenal wine! The Dom Perignon P2 is somewhat OTT as we open our festive credit card bills but this exclusive bottle is on our shelves so at least we can talk about it&hellip;even if few of us can afford a glass never mind a bottle!<br /> All the top Champagne Houses have a flagship vintage brand; Veuve Clicquot has La Grande Dame, Louis Roederer has Cristal, Taittinger has Comtes de Champagne and Moet et Chandon has Dom Perignon. These carry price tags between $130-180 (&pound;100-150)&hellip;. so how come this Dom Perignon P2 1996 is $400 I hear you say. Good question! The answer stirs heated debate but Moet et Chandon winemaker Richard Geoffroy was confident about his prices as he presented the first ever &lsquo;vertical P2 Tasting&rsquo; in London last year &hellip;. I felt honoured to be amongst a small band of the good and the glorious of the British Wine Trade invited on that sunny SW1 morning. I wouldn&rsquo;t pay &pound;300 for a bottle of wine but that said, such wines are the Rolls Royces and Bentleys of the Wine World so it&rsquo;s no surprise that people who enjoy cruising in expensive motor cars may also revel in popping the cork of this vintage sparkler.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The &lsquo;P&rsquo; stands for Plenitude, &ldquo;the state of being full or complete&rdquo; and when Moet apply it to their &lsquo;DP&rsquo; it&rsquo;s linked to the age of the wine and how long it&rsquo;s been lying on it&rsquo;s &lsquo;lees&rsquo;, that is, on the dead yeast cells that lie on the bottom of the cellared bottle after the completion of the second fermentation. Richard Geoffroy explained that in Moet-speak, P1 covers the younger DP vintages of say 2004, 2005 or 2006 whereas P2 is Dom Perignon that&rsquo;s been &lsquo;on the lees&rsquo; for between 15 and 20 years; we tasted 1998, 1996, 1995 and 1993. The 1996 was my favourite; toasty citrus flavours with a tight line of mouthwatering acidity and a long, complex, creamy yet edgey finish. P3 wines by the way will be between 30 and 40 years old; that&rsquo;s a lot of long term cash tied up in the cellars, which goes some way in explaining the staggering price tag.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Although the P Plan prices scare me, I can understand the concept of letting a top Champagne develop to its full capacity; a P1 will have the depth, balance and harmony to be Dom Perignon but if kept on its lees will have the platform to produce P2&rsquo;s and P3&rsquo;s. Geoffroy explained that the lees are an excellent anti-oxidant for the wine, hence the freshness of all the P2&rsquo;s on show. That said, 20 years is about the maximum lees contact period, &ldquo;after 20 years there&rsquo;s nothing more to gain&rdquo;, Geoffroy explained.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Interestingly, the wines were poured in normal wine glasses and not flutes; a growing trend in Champagne and one that gets my vote, and has done for years. I was also pleased to see that Richard wasn&rsquo;t decanting the Champagnes, &ldquo;too harsh and more to loose than gain&rdquo;, he thought.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> For <em>Snoothers </em>who, like me can&rsquo;t afford &pound;300 for a bottle of wine, instead of P2 go2 Cremant de Bourgogne Blanc de Blancs (Chardonnay grapes only) from Burgundy, a Franciacorta from Italy or a Cava from Spain. They&rsquo;re all made in exactly the same way as Champagne and, if you pay the extra quid (PTEQ!) can fight well above their weight. At about $18 (&pound;14.00) the Cremant de Bourgogne is only just over the price tag that gets my friend&rsquo;s wife hot under the collar. That said, when she reads about P2 you&rsquo;ll see me go2 buy a tin hat!</p> Wed, 11 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6884 Carménère Wine Master Class: Lessons Learned Mark Angelillo <p>Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;is an old grape variety from the Gironde. DNA analysis suggests that it&rsquo;s a cross between Cabernet Franc and Gros Cabernet (which is itself a distant relative of Cabernet Franc). Fortunately for our collective palates, when it comes to wine grape parentage, breeding with a relative can be a very good thing. Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;is a highly refined pedigree and it delivers a true range of flavors. You&rsquo;ll find herbaceous notes like tomato and pepper evolving into young, tight bunches of fresh berry fruits. Increased levels of ripeness bring dark, moist clumps of blackberry and blueberry, coffee and dark chocolate notes. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;wine grape shares an inextricably deep bond with Chile. Their relationship dates back to the late 1800s when the grape came to Chile by way of Bordeaux. It was mislabeled as Merlot (or &ldquo;Merlot Noir&rdquo;) upon arrival. The grape was grown in Chile under this false name for decades.<br /> By the late 1800s, Phylloxera had destroyed nearly all of Europe&rsquo;s Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;just as it ravaged many of the continent&rsquo;s other vines.&nbsp; At the time and for years following, the native incarnation of Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;was believed to be extinct. But in 1994, French ampelographer Jean Michel Boursiquot saw the &ldquo;Merlot Noir&rdquo; in a Chilean vineyard and recognized it as Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re. DNA analysis confirmed his assessment and the grape&rsquo;s true identity was revealed. Since this unmasking, Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;has become Chile&rsquo;s superstar grape. It was recognized by Chilean authorities as the country&rsquo;s official variety in 1998.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Chile is an essential part of Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&rsquo;s story, and the tale has continued to progress. I conducted a master class with five wine writers focused exclusively on this very special grape. We tasted through a selection of eleven Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;wines. That&rsquo;s right, eleven.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;and Chile is the perfect match. Chile&rsquo;s climate is warmer and drier than Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&rsquo;s native home in southwest France. The grape can ripen for a longer period of time in Chile. More ripening brings lusciousness to the wines, but not at the expense of the varietal&rsquo;s innately herbaceous aromas and flavors. Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;also offers sophisticated fruit flavors well-suited to all palates, but especially those that don&rsquo;t want their fruit overblown. At this point, the quality-to-price ratio (QPR) favors the consumer. Other regions of the world have a relationship with Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re, which is something we explored in our master class as well.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>The Wines</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tasting eleven wines made from the same grape in a single hour is one of the best ways to get an excellent wine education. You&rsquo;ll pounce upon your intuitions and quickly realize that your first thoughts are quite often your best.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Cono Sur Bicicleta&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Central Valley Chile 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cono Sur has embraced natural vineyard management and organic production. For them, this is what&nbsp; &ldquo;Bicicleta&rdquo; represents. The wine comes to us from Chile&rsquo;s Central Valley, a large depression between the Pacific coastal mountains and the Andes (bordering Argentina) just south of Chile&rsquo;s capital, Santiago. The Central Valley is supplied with water from the Andes. It contains four sub-regions, many of which have sub-regions of their own. The Central Valley is where the vast majority of Chilean vineyards are found. Its geographical advantages make ripening a cinch. Tasting note: Dusty and herbal, this shows a lot of spunk with red fruit aromas of cranberry, strawberry and cherry. Lots of character and a bold presentation in the mouth, this is smoky and earthy with chewy tannins and chunky black fruit showing nicely on the mid palate culminating in a dark chocolate and espresso on the finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Casillero del Diablo&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Reserva Central Valley Chile 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Casillero del Diablo is a storytelling bottle for the ages. According to legend, back in 1883, Don Melchor Concha y Toro sought the expertise of the French to begin producing quality wines in Chile. These wines were stored in his personal cellar. Once word got out about his collection people began to steal coveted bottles from his cellar. To combat theft, Melchor Concha y Toro started a rumor about the Devil appearing in the cellar and in the vineyard. The rumor spread like wildfire and deterred thieves from coming anywhere near his cellar. His prized wine collection was preserved. Once again, the QPR on this bottle is extraordinary. Tasting note: Fresh and lively on the palate, good acidity with tart red fruit flavors of cherry and cranberry, medium-full bodied with a finish of earthy chocolate and black coffee.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Casas del Bosque&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Reserva Rapel Valley 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Casas del Bosque was established in 1993 as a family boutique winery. They currently produce 90,000 cases per year at incredible value to the consumer. This bottle had fifteen days of fermentation followed by an additional five days of post-fermentation maceration. That&rsquo;s nineteen days of skin contact, and the color on this wine really shows it. Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re grape skins are on the higher side of color intensity because of their strong concentration of anthocyanins and flavonoids. Tasting note: Breezy and light on the nose, with the slightest touch of a green note but raspberry, red currant and cherry fruit taking the lead. Quite light and cheerful on the palate, this brings candied cherry and mixed berry fruit, bright acidity and an earthy finish of dark chocolate.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Concha y Toro Serie Riberas&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Gran Reserva Peumo 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This is another selection from Concha y Toro. The wine received 90 points from Wine Spectator. It comes from the Cachopoal Valley, which is in the northern section of the Rapel Valley. (The Rapel is one of the Central Valley&rsquo;s four subregions.) Cachopoal is a warm area cut off from ocean breezes. As a result Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;ripens especially well in this location. Tasting note: Floral and fresh on the nose with zesty spice and ripe red fruit notes of cherry, strawberry and raspberry along with a touch of cream. This is expansive on the palate with generous strawberry and cherry fruit preserves that border on the richness of pie filling before sloping off towards earthy oak spice, cappuccino and chocolate notes.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Los Vascos&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Grande Reserve Colchagua Valley 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This wine is part of the Lafite tradition. Chateau Lafite Rothschild is synonymous with fine French wine and their efforts are global. Metaphorically speaking, this bottle brings Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;back to France to share everything it has learned in Chile. Tasting note: Herbal notes of eucalyptus and green pepper in the glass, though plenty of dark cherry and blackberry/raspberry fruit. Similar flavors continue through to the palate, where they are joined by rich spice and generous tannins, more dark blackberry and an increasing intensity of lingering earthiness towards the finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Apaltagua Red Blend Colchagua Valley Envero 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The oldest vines used in Envero were planted on the Apaltagua property in 1950 with newer plantings coming as recently as 2013 in the Colchagua Valley. This subregion is part of Rapel&rsquo;s southern valley but also incorporates the Rapel River up the coast. It is much larger and more varied than Cachapoal. Colchagua is a name you will often see on bottles because of the positive reputation the area has rightfully earned. Vines are planted as high as 3,300 feet, and the region is comprised of many tiny zones due to the highly varied soils &ndash; clay, silt, sand and some volcanic areas too. Rich perfume and floral notes of blackberry, clay and savory spice on the nose. Firm, focused and assertive on the palate, this has tart acidity and herbal notes of olive and pepper out front of dark berry and cherry fruit that finishes with a touch of heat, loads of spice and a dark chocolate cream.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Casa Silva Los Lingues Vineyard&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Colchagua Valley 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Casa Silva is a leader in the promotion and research around the Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;grape, specifically in the the Los Lingues area at the foothills of the Andes in Colchagua. Casa Silva was the very first to plant in this &aacute;rea in 1997. Many other wineries have followed suit. Their research studies various Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;clones under a variety of conditions. They tweak details like terroir and climate to learn more about this special grape. Tasting note: Light and elegant aromas of red currant, cherry and floral blossom notes framed by a hint of baking spice. Fresh berry, cherry and strawberry fruit is well developed and silky textured on the palate, restrained around the edges but with a strong core that drops into a tannic chew towards the finish where the fruit is joined by a touch of cream and menthol before ending on chocolate cherry.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Colli Berici Oratorio di San Lorenzo&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Riserva 2012</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;has many guises, and not just in Chile. The grape has been in the Veneto since the mid-19th century and for 150 years it was thought to be Cabernet Franc. DNA testing in 1993 showed it to be Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re. Oratorio di San Lorenzo is the only 100 percent Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;in Italy, and it is the only winery in Italy to truly focus on Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;and make it the centerpiece of their portfolio. This is a fresh, hip cult favorite which will impress any and all of your wine loving friends. Tasting note: Bold and assertive mixed berry fruit with concentrated aromas and fresh floral spice on the nose. Concentrated and focused on the palate, this over delivers on fruit flavors of blackberry, black cherry and strawberry with rough tannins drying the mouth towards the finish where they&#39;re supported by butter cream and vanilla, loads of acidity and a dark chocolate finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Montes Alpha&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;Colchagua Valley 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Montes is known for quality Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;and in this bottle has focused on Apalta which is a distinct tract from Colchagua&rsquo;s valley slopes. The area has boomed over the last decade and is now associated with premium wines. Montes in an Apalta pioneer. The winery is also noted for applying the principles of Feng Shui to their winemaking. Gregorian chants are constantly played in the barrel room to spirit wines through fermentation and the ageing process. Tasting note: Lightly savory aromas of fresh cherry and strawberry with bold spice, some floral hints and even a touch of wheatiness. More bold fruit flavors on the palate, rich full bodied and earthy with blackberry, cranberry and red currant fronting for rough tannins and a slightly softer finish of milk chocolate and cream.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Vi&ntilde;a Maquis Viola&nbsp;Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;2010</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Maquis Estate is located in the heart of the Colchagua Valley where the Tinguiririca River meets the Chimbarongo Creek. Here you will find alluvial soils over a layer of gravel and cooler maximum summer temperatures. Tasting note: Deceptively light aromas of red berry, cherry and smoke. This is textured and chunky with firm tannins on the palate, good red fruit character of strawberry and cherry with a pronounced smoke permeating through and ending on a creamy dark chocolate mousse and baking spice.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Purple Angel Colchagua Valley 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> This is another premium selection from Montes hailing from Apalta. These wines show just want Chile is capable of in the premium category. Tasting note: Big and bold aromas of blackberry preserves and cherry with vanilla cream on the nose. This doesn&#39;t hold back from fruit and spice with a bolt of acidity running through it and cranberry, raspberry and cherry fruit taking the mid palate, almost candied with floral hints and a finish that&#39;s tart, chewy and drying with a hint of menthol.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Takeaways</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Carm&eacute;n&egrave;re&nbsp;brings an air of sophistication and can offer something to many palates. The fruits are bold but will not strangle your taste buds. These wines are perfect to share with those who crave wines with restrained yet elegant fruit, surprising complexity and firm structure. The value is clear at all price points. See below to read more from our master class attendees:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Gabe Sasso</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Jeff Kralik</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Michelle Williams</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Sara Lehman</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Todd Godbout</strong></a></p> Thu, 05 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6882 The First Rule Of Wine Drinking Is: There Are No Rules <p>White wine with fish and red wine with meat, right? Sparkling before still before sweet&mdash;but the dessert needs to be sweeter than the wine. With so many rules, it&rsquo;s a wonder we manage to relax and have a good time. Who needs them? I certainly don&rsquo;t, and you don&rsquo;t, either. The goal is to drink something that tastes good while having a good time. If you agree, then here are some of my top tips on classic rules we can all throw out the window&mdash;and what to do instead.<br /> <strong>1. You don&rsquo;t need to pick a wine that will pair perfectly with your dish.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> As a master sommelier I often drink what I like regardless of what I&rsquo;m eating. I reach for a Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero, which is a bold red wine with dark berry fruit flavors, and a kiss of vanilla from the oak, and I&rsquo;ll drink that with anything from soups and salads to dessert. I like it. It tastes good. And that is all that matters.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2. Sparkling wine isn&rsquo;t just for celebrations, and it isn&rsquo;t confined to the beginning of a meal.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Many people raise an eyebrow, but I often order a bottle of Champagne and drink it throughout my meal; it works well with everything from salad to steak. The stronger flavor or texture of the food can match well with a champagne made with extended lees contact or longer aging. It also can be a great accompaniment to something &ldquo;low brow&rdquo; like cheeseburgers and potato chips. If you want to get people really riled up, try potato chips and caviar with that bottle of champagne&mdash;and maybe a side of French onion dip.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>3. Sweet wine doesn&rsquo;t go only with dessert.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sweet wine. What a controversial item already. The value of terrific sweet wine is lost on Americans because we, as a whole, don&rsquo;t drink much of it. When we do, it&rsquo;s almost always with dessert. While it has sugar and can be a bit sweet, well-made dessert wine inevitably has a lot of acidity to balance out the sugar&mdash;which also makes it food-friendly. Not long ago I had a great dinner of fried chicken dusted with saffron along with a bottle of Sauternes. In England it&rsquo;s not uncommon to start a meal with a glass of sweet wine, which they endearingly refer to as &ldquo;sticky.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>4. White wine does not need to be very cold; and red wine does not need to be room temperature.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This is an important factor in your drinking experience: We often sip our Champagne and white wine way too cold and our red wine way too warm. The colder something is, the less we can taste or smell it. Don&rsquo;t feel pressured to keep that bottle of white or Champagne in the ice bucket between pours. You can leave it on the table. Be bold! Let it warm up in the glass. When you do you&rsquo;ll experience more of the aromas, flavors and texture that it has to offer.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> For reds we think, &ldquo;Room temperature: Okay, I&rsquo;ll leave it on the counter and we&rsquo;re good to go,&rdquo; but that is a twisted rule that I see even great restaurants mess up. If you&rsquo;re leaving your wine out to get to room temperature, it&rsquo;s probably closer to 75 degrees than it is to ideal serving temperature. As a wine warms up, it emphasizes the alcohol and that throws the wine out of balance. You should shoot for a cool temperature of about 60 degrees for red. If anything, take the white out of the ice bucket and pop the red one in for a few minutes. It&rsquo;ll be much smoother and more refreshing.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>5. Ros&eacute; isn&rsquo;t just a summer option.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Ros&eacute; isn&rsquo;t only meant for when the sun is out&mdash;there are plenty bottles that you can drink all year long. Be forewarned: there is a lot of cheap, diluted, out-of-balance hogwash with a pink tint that gets bottled as ros&eacute; out there, so be careful about what you buy. Price often can be a good indicator&mdash;in this case, I suggest skipping that $6 bottle with animal pictures on the label and instead hunt for a well-made ros&eacute;, which is delicious and a great food companion. I love ros&eacute; in every style, from sparkling to still to sweet. Ros&eacute; champagne with duck, or still ros&eacute; and salad or fish, and sweet ros&eacute; with strawberries shortcake all are favorites of mine. There are many options, so don&rsquo;t box yourself in.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Alexander LaPratt, MS, owner of Atrium DUMBO, Beasts &amp; Bottles (Brooklyn Heights) and <a href=""><strong>Ribera y Rueda</strong></a> ambassador</em></p> Tue, 27 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6881 Holiday Sparkling Bottle Pick List Snooth Editorial <p>We talked a lot about sparkling wine last week but there is a lot more to cover. The biggest sparkling wine day of the year, New Year&#39;s Eve, is right around the corner. Opening a bottle of sparkling wine can be a a dangerous proposition. There&#39;s a lot of pressure under that cork! But if you like living on the edge, there&#39;s always sabrage. When the French Revolution ended just before the dawn on the 18th century, Napoleon and his cohorts decided to up the ante on Champagne corking. They swapped the simple flick of a wrist for a sword, and so &quot;sabrage&quot; was born. Confidently run your sabre down the bottle&#39;s length, and kaboom! You&#39;ve got a sabred bottle of sparkling wine. Yes, the glass will break -- but some would say that the fanfare is worth it. Will you pick up one of these recommendations from the web&#39;s top wine writers and give sabrage a try? Have you ever sabred a wine, or seen someone else do it? Is it crazy, stupid, awesome? Let us know in the comments. <br /> <strong>Champagne</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I really tried to not to pick a Champagne, but there is a reason why Champagne is Champagne&hellip; no other sparkling wine is like it. It is a beguiling sparkling wine that can play with you, mystify you, bring you to your knees in pleasure yet you always know it is holding back&hellip;never giving you everything - and that is part of its undeniable charm &ndash; it is all about the tease. The Champagne that has played with my heart the most is Marie-No&euml;lle LeDru Champagne, Brut NV. Marie-No&euml;lle LeDru owns only 12 acres (5 hectares) in Grand Cru villages Ambonnay and 2 acres (1 hectare) in Bouzy in Champagne &ndash; she even disgorges each bottle by hand (with help from a neighbor). But it is not only the sweet story that makes this Champagne so great, it is an incredible sparkling wine with as many layers of complexity as I have experienced with some of the greatest Grand Cru Burgundy wines. My latest tasting of her Brut NV gave stunning notes of truffle (did I just say truffle for a Champagne? Yes. Yes I did) and freshly baked croissant with tropical fruits and lemon blossom with a long, expressive finish. This sparkling wine captivates on an intellectual, but most importantly, on a visceral level. You want to rock the world of serious and less-serious wine drinkers alike at your next Holiday party?&nbsp; Well, get yourself some LeDru &ndash; and remember small pours for your guests. If they ask why you are being so cheap, just say, &ldquo;Champagne is all about the tease.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cathrine Todd</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dame Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Franciacorta</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> What better way to toast the season and celebrate the new year than with a bottle of bubbly. Whether you&rsquo;re decorating, hosting a holiday get-together, or lazing around the house doing absolutely nothing, there is something very right about a flute of sparkling wine, Christmas music, and an assortment of tasty nibbles and appetizers. While I encourage having sparkling wines from around the globe and champagne on hand, for this post, I&rsquo;ll point you to Franciacorta. This region is located in Lombardy (northern Italy) and has produced still (not effervescent or sparkling) wines since the 16th century. However, starting in the 1960s, area vintners worked together to collectively make a name for themselves as a serious, high-quality sparkling wine region. As a result, Franciacorta became the first Italian region to exclusively produce sparkling wines made in the traditional method as they do in the Champagne region of France. My festive holiday pick is Barone Pizzini Animante Brut NV. Barone Pizzini was founded in 1870 and is one of the oldest producers in the region. Composed of 78% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Noir, and 4% Pinot Blanc &ndash; all organically farmed, this sparkling wine offers brioche, floral notes, and inviting spicy aromas joined by lively and mature tree fruit flavors in the mouth. It has a clean, refreshing finish with a persistent stream of bubbles cleansing the palate and readying you for another sip or bite. This wine retails for $35 but can be found online for as low as $25. I recommend adding a bottle or three to your holiday rotation &ndash; it&rsquo;s a very nice sparkler for the money.&nbsp; Here&#39;s wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a lot of good bubbly. Sip up!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Dezel Quillen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>My Vine Spot</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Champagne</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> During my personal wine journey, sparkling wine, especially Champagne, remained elusive and felt unapproachable until four years ago, when I learned to open Champagne in my Wine &amp; Spirit Education Trust foundation course. When #ChampagneDay on social media arrived that autumn, I was ready and excited to open and taste my first Champagne. Fast forward to today, when sparkling wines and Champagne have become my go-to wines, not only for the holidays, but year around, because they pair with so many things: family, friends, fun, and food. In selecting a wine for this piece, I remembered what held me back from Champagne for so long and one of those reasons was price. Champagne seemed like a fancy beverage for wealthy people, but I was wrong. Look no further, because I have the Champagne for you this holiday season and beyond. Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosa&iuml;que NV (SRP $39.99) is Champagne for every day. Founded by 30 grower families in 1962, Champagne Jacquart is an authentic, innovative grower Champagne brand, and its long legacy comes alive in this non-vintage blend of mostly chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier sourced from some of Champagne&#39;s most notable crus. In the glass, it pours pale yellow with a lovely, fine effervescence. Aromas and flavors such as apples, pears, citrus, brioche, and almonds permeate the senses, all while perfectly accompanied by creamy texture, bright acidity, and chalky minerality. Fortunately, the Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosa&iuml;que NV is widely distributed, so pick up a bottle or three and celebrate the holidays, and most importantly, life.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Elizabeth Smith</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Traveling Wine Chick</strong></a></div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Sparkling Cider</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The very best sparkling wine for the holidays is the one you enjoy with family and close friends. While Champagne and sparkling wines from around the world are certainly popular during the holiday season (though should be consumed year round), consider reaching for fizz from another fruit &mdash; a light, crisp, effervescent hard apple cider. &nbsp;Cider made from apples has a long history throughout the world dating back to early Roman times. In the U.S. cider was popular with the first English settlers, considered a source of nutrition and often safer to drink than water. Light, crisp, refreshing, bright acidity; cider pairs well with a broad range of holiday dishes from salty ham to sides dishes and desserts. One of my favorite ciders is Serious Cider from America cider rockstar Diane Flynt, owner and cidermaker of <a href=""><strong>Foggy Ridge Cider</strong></a>. Located on the Blue Ridge plateau in the southwestern part of Virginia, Flynt farms a 30-acre orchard planted to 30 different varieties of traditional cider apples.<br /><br /> Crisp, light and refreshing, <strong>Serious Cider</strong> ($18) is a blend of American cider apples like Roxbury Russet and traditional English apples like Dabinett and Tremlett&rsquo;s.&nbsp; Bright gold in the glass; notes of tart green apple and lime framed by stone fruit. Dry with zippy lime acidity.&nbsp; Perfect as an aperitif or paired with most holiday dishes.<br /><br /> Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Frank Morgan</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Drink What YOU Like</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Finger Lakes Sparkling Wine</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Champagne is the easy pick for the holidays right? You head over to the wine shop and plunk down some cash for a well-regarded, possibly famous bottle of Bubbles. That would be simple, likely delicious and possibly expensive. Personally I try to take the road less traveled as often as I can; this is particularly true with wine selections. Many of the world&rsquo;s wine regions have sparkling wine traditions and there are lots of interesting and delightful bottles that aren&rsquo;t from the most famous Sparkling Wine region in the world. As an added bonus they&rsquo;re often relative bargains too. With that in mind my pick is an outstanding bottle from the Finger Lakes Region of New York State.Lamoreaux Landing 2009 Estate Bottled Brut ($35) This Estate bottled, vintage Brut was produced using the classic method. It&rsquo;s composed of Chardonnay (58%), and Pinot Noir (42%) from two of their vineyards, both farmed sustainably. Roasted nuts, granny smith apple and wisps of strawberry are evident on the nose. The palate is loaded with orchard fruit notes that are accompanied by lemon curd, spices and bits of flaky biscuit. Cr&egrave;me fraiche, white pepper, stone fruits, hints of vanilla bean are evident on the persistent, complex, and somewhat firm finish. While this wine is eminently drinkable all but itself you&rsquo;ll find that it&rsquo;s a terrific partner with a remarkably varied array of foods. Creamy dishes, strong cheeses, white meats and all manner of finger foods are just a few of your options. Lamoreaux Landing&rsquo;s Estate Brut is a tremendous value, drink it all holiday season.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Gabe Sasso</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Gabe&rsquo;s View</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Champagne</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> When it comes to bubbles, Champagne is the Alpha and Omega. So if I&rsquo;m going to bust out the bubbles around the holidays, I&rsquo;m bringing Champers. The terroir of Champagne is diverse but exquisite, so I try to find single-vineyard Champagnes, and learn about the vineyard, soils, winemaking. One producer I&rsquo;ve been nuts about for a few years now is Jacques Lassaigne. The estate is not technically a grower (it has N.M., or negociant, status), but the vast majority of these wines come from estate grapes. When it comes to finding exciting, terroir-driven Champagne in the $50-$75 range, you have to choose wisely. But, in my opinion, if Lassaigne is on the label, I&rsquo;m confident the wine will be exceptional. I recently popped the cork on Jacques Lassaigne&rsquo;s Blanc de Blancs Cuv&eacute;e Le Cotet (Extra Brut), which I picked up for about $60. This wine comes from a single-vineyard planted in the mid-60s. It&rsquo;s all Chardonnay grown in Montgueux, an area of the Aube that has very similar soils to the Cote des Blancs. It has a gorgeous nose of lime, chalk, minerals and limestone. The palate is packed with piercing acidity, vibrant lemon and kiwi fruit, the wine is laced with minerals, sea salt, crushed chalk. Perfect on its own or with pretty much whatever you&rsquo;re eating!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Isaac James Baker</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Reading, Writing &amp; Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Champagne</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Of all the Snooth write-ups I have done, this was perhaps the toughest. Initially, however, I thought this would actually be one of the easiest as champagne is the preferred wine in my house and we tend to drink a lot of bubbles. My first thought was to opt for a t&ecirc;te de cuv&eacute;e&mdash;a Champagne house&rsquo;s top bottling (think Dom P&eacute;rignon, La Grande Dame, or Belle Epoque), but I decided against since, in my opinion, most of those wines are not ready to drink upon release&mdash;they just need a bit more time (like a decade) before they are at their peak. I then thought about a vintage champagne, but demurred for the same reason (although most vintage champagnes need far less time). Then there was the cost. I usually spend the holidays with family and even though I love them very much, they do not know the difference between Krug and Korbel (that is not a slight against Korbel, which I actually think makes some nice wines, but it ain&rsquo;t no Krug). I brought a very nice champagne to a family holiday event a few years ago and my brother-in-law filled his red solo cup about 1/2 full of the $150/bottle champagne and then added Coke. And rum. And ice. And then he did it again (apparently champagne makes a rum and coke that much better). So now, I limit my choices to wines that won&rsquo;t cost me a bundle and therefore will not want me to strangle an in-laws when they create their own concoctions. I do want to have a decent, unfettered champagne in my glass, however, and for me these days, that means Piper-Heidsieck. I usually opt for the standard Brut, which is available just about every where, but if I see the ros&eacute; (Ros&eacute; Sauvage) I will grab that and then convince my family that the Coke is already mixed in.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jeffrey M. Kralik</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>The Drunken Cyclist</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Franciacorta</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Who doesn&#39;t love this time of year? Family, loved ones, friends and just another reason to drink some really great wine, although isn&#39;t that every day? There is nothing like a little bubbly to put anyone in a good mood and my holiday sparkling bottle pick is the Barrone Pizzini Franciacorta Brut Animante (NV). Franciacorta as many say is the &quot;champagne&quot; of Italy. Unfortunately the Lombardy wine region keeps the majority of Franciacorta for themselves so whenever I&#39;m able to sample some I&#39;m all in. This elegant wine displayed beautiful aromas and a hint of toastiness. Upon tasting it gave an airiness mouthfeel combined with nice minerality, citrus and stone fruits. A well balanced, complex wine with a lasting finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jennifer Martin</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Vino Travels</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cr&eacute;mant&nbsp;</strong><strong>de Jura Domaine de Montbougeau</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> My preferred holiday sparkling wine is Cr&eacute;mant - a wine that looks and tastes pricey but is deceptively inexpensive and a joy to share. One favorite is <strong>Cr&eacute;mant de Jura Domaine de Montbougeau</strong>, made in the m&eacute;thod traditionelle by third-generation vigneronne (wine maker) Nicole Deriaux. Fashioned solely with Chardonnay grapes, after secondary (malolactic) fermentation the wine spends 18 months on its lees before disgorgement and remains strictly Brut. An expert could note that its bubbles are small in size and quite present but they are not quite as tiny or in as quantity a quantity as the bubbles one would find in a great champagne. With a light, creamy flavor profile, this cr&eacute;mant can pair with just about anything. The palate and nose are largely neutral, with hints of apple, baked bread, and vanilla, and therefore allow this delightful sparkling wine to complement everything from a fresh seafood appetizer to a celebratory a roast beef to dessert without issue. While not made in massive quantities, there are several wine shops that carry this cr&eacute;mant in my town for under $25/bottle, making it easy to acquire, cheap enough to enjoy on any occasion (small or large), and convenient enough to have a chilled bottle on hand all the time. This French sparkling wine tastes far more expensive than it costs and compares nicely to pricier offerings from Champagne.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jim van Bergen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>JVB UNCORKED</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Argyle Winery Vintage Brut 2013</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, two time-honored wine grapes used for producing sparkling wine, have taken deep root in Oregon&#39;s rolling hills of the Willamette Valley.&nbsp; With the cool climate not being too different than that of France&#39;s world-famous Champagne region, the Willamette Valley is proving to be a mighty fine place for producing world-class sparkling wines.&nbsp; Although many wineries across the Valley are just now deciding to dabble in producing sparkling wine, one winery initiated their own sparkling wine movement back in the 80s and is now the largest and most well-known sparkling wine producer in the State of Oregon: Argyle Winery.&nbsp; Year in and year out, I love Argyle&#39;s Vintage Brut, but their 2013 Vintage Brut (60% percent Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay), is simply outstanding.&nbsp; Perpetual balance and a lasting fresh finish show off its vibrant acidic backbone. Alluring minerality along with honeyed fruits and exotic spices give it a richness and super lush roundness that enlivens the palate.&nbsp; The 2013 Brut was used in their Art of Sparkling Wine program - definitely worth checking out in the Argyle Holiday Catalog and on<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Julia Crowley</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>The Real Wine Julia</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuv&eacute;e</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> My sparkling wine recommendation for the December holidays is to pick up some bottles of the Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuv&eacute;e. This multi-vintage sparkler is created from stocks of reserve wines. Starting in 1985, Bruno Paillard began setting aside a portion of the final blend, adding it to the subsequent year&#39;s blend, with each subsequent year blended with the year before and the year before that, and so on. The oldest of these date back 25 years. Paillard also retains the bottled wines sur lees in the bottle longer than others - after 18 months of yeast contact, these wines show extra complexity and depth. In 1983, Bruno was the first in Champagne to put the disgorgement date on the back-label, which allows the consumer to see at what stage that particular bottle is in regards to its cellar life. Paillard is a big believer that well-made Champagnes can age well under cork. They also add a lower dosage (6 grams or less of sugar per liter) that retains acidity, making it not only a pleasure to drink but also better to age. Besides the beautiful acidity, this wine has very fine bubbles, lovely citrus, orchard fruit, and floral notes to start, with classic yeast, nuts, and minerality leading into a crisp, though long lasting finish. A wine I could drink all day, happily. SRP $50<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Kovas Palubinskas</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>50 States Of Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Barnaut Grand Reserve Brut Champagne</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This holiday season I&#39;ll be guzzling the Barnaut Grand Reserve Brut Champagne with wild abandon. This Blanc des Noirs bottling deftly combines Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in a wine that epitomizes Champagne for me--it&#39;s yeasty on the nose and bursts with aromas of baked golden apple, ripe pear, anise and lemon zest. On the palate, it&#39;s less hedonistic than the nose, but dominated by the fresh same orchard flavors. Clean minerality and low dosage make it easy to drink solo or with any array of holiday favorites (yes, it&#39;s even great with almond-crusted cheese balls). Plus, this Grand Cru wine from the village of Bouzy retails for under $50, making it a solid value for classic Champagne. Give Veuve Cliquot and other big houses a rest this year, Barnaut never disappoints!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Laura Burgess</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>The (Mis)Adventures of Laura. Uncorked.</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Amazone De Palmer</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Champagnes from Palmer and Company are a way to go big in your holiday sparkle. All these champagnes come from fruit grown in the miraculous and chalky soil of Reims and are wonderful, food friendly offerings. But if you really want to go big, try to locate Amazone de Palmer. A blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay it has toasty, mocha notes, feuillantines crisp complexity with a sparky freshness that cements its deliciousness. Made 100% from reserve wines, Palmer Champagnes puts forward this show stopping wine in a heavy oval bottle. With vineyards located in the mountains of Reims, Palmer uses techniques like hand riddling and extended bottle ageing to vinify exceptional fruit. Honor your own reflections on where you are today with a wine aged on the lees ten years. As rare as &quot;Hamilton&quot; tickets, this mesmerizing wine is about $120 if you can find it. For special occasions, like quality time with friends and family, it&#39;s worth the hunt.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Liza Swift</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>BrixChicks</strong></a></div><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Louis Roederer Brut Premier</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> I drink more than my fair share of sparkling wine, including Champagne. In fact, if I were forced to limit myself to one style of wine (red, white, ros&eacute;, etc.), I&rsquo;d pick sparkling wine. Like their still wine counterparts, they can be light to full-bodied; bone-dry to sweet; or white, red or ros&eacute;. Then there are the Blanc de Blanc and Blanc de noir. They&rsquo;re fun, festive and food friendly. What&rsquo;s not to love?!&nbsp; That&rsquo;s why sparkling wines make a great gift. And since champagne is widely regarded at the cream of the sparkling wine crop, my choice for a holiday sparkling wine would be the <strong>Louis Roederer Brut Premier</strong>. It is Champagne Louis Roederer&rsquo;s &ldquo;entry&rdquo; level cuv&eacute;e. It&rsquo;s a blend of around 40% Pinot noir, 40% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Meunier from Grand and Premier cru sites. The wine is matured in oak tuns for 3 years and then aged a minimum of another six months on cork before release. The result is champagne that belies its &ldquo;entry&rdquo; level label. It&rsquo;s a rich toasty wine offering appealing marzipan, almond, pear, subtle citrus and a hint of smoke aromas. On the palate, it is full bodied, harmonious, and energetic with a delicate creamy mousse. Flavors of white peach, apples, pear and lemon curd dominate, but hints of grapefruit, black currant, and an appealing smoky minerality play in the background. You&rsquo;ll enjoy a very satisfying finish. Available for $40 at my favorite local wine shop, it hits the sweet spot for quality and value!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Martin Redmond</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>ENOFYLZ Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> ROCO &#39;RMS&#39; Brut Willamette Valley 2013<br /><br /> <br /><br /> My pick for 2016 is a milestone wine, made by a legend (at least by Oregon sparkling wine standards that is). I&rsquo;m talking about Rollin Soles, the man behind Argyle Winery -- the first sparkling wine facility built in Oregon in 1987, back when hardly anybody would dare to make bubbles in the state. Over the course of the next 30 years Soles would prove himself as a leader in sparkling wine production in Oregon, and throughout the country. Soles left as winemaker of Argyle in 2013 (but stayed on as a consultant) to focus his attention to his own winery, ROCO, which he co-founded with his wife. The 2013 ROCO &lsquo;RMS&rsquo; Brut Sparkling Wine is his first commercial sparkling release since his days at Argyle. Hence Milestone. In one word the wine is simply gorgeous. RMS (standing for Rollin Michael Soles) is a blend of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay, with fruit sourced from higher-altitude vineyards in the Willamette Valley: Blossom Ridge (Eola-Amity AVA), Vista Hills Vineyard (Dundee Hills AVA) and Gran Moraine (Yamhill Carlton AVA). It offers sweet brioche, crisp apples and ripe pears and a bit of lemony citrus. There&rsquo;s a slight and intriguing tartness to the wine and a lingering savoriness on the finish with fine long lasting bubbles. It has power, but also grace and elegance at the same time. For the inaugural sparkling from ROCO this is a special wine and perfect for holiday celebrations!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Mary Cressler</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Vindulge</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose Champagne</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> This is one bottle that never fails to make me celebrate and puts me in a festive mood.&nbsp; I taste citrus, pear, raspberry, flowers, fresh bread, strawberries with some herbs and spice at the end. It&rsquo;s elegant, it&rsquo;s dry, it&rsquo;s fruity and it&rsquo;s fantastic. It is a perfect bottle to sum up Lily Bolinger&rsquo;s famous champagne drinking quote, &ldquo;I drink it when I&rsquo;m happy and when I&rsquo;m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I&rsquo;m alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I&rsquo;m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it, unless I&rsquo;m thirsty.&rdquo; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Melanie Ofenloch</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>DallasWineChick</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Ferrari Perle</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Every day is a great day for bubbles. However, the holiday season demands bubbles! One of my all-time favorite sparkling wine producers is Ferrari-Trento. Located in the foothills of the Italian Alps, Ferrari is run by the third generation of the Lunelli family. Crafting high quality sparkling wines in the Methode Champenoise, Ferrari embodies the &ldquo;Italian Art of Living.&rdquo; My favorite sparkling wine produced by Ferrari is their Perle. It pairs perfectly with the friends, family, laughter, love, and a joyful holiday season. 2009 Ferrari Perle Trento DOC ($35): 100% Chardonnay, crafted using Methode Champenoise; straw yellow with persistent, mousse-like perlage; orchard fruit, citrus, lemon custard, marzipan, cr&egrave;me brulee, and toasted brioche dazzle the senses; elegant, light, and refreshing, seductively sophisticated, with a long, acidic and bubbly finish. When asked for my ultimate sparkling wine recommendation at any price, truthfully I cannot think of a better recommendation than Ferrari Perle. Cheers!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Michelle Williams</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Rockin Red Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Ferrari Ros&eacute;</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Choosing the ultimate sparkling wine for the December holidays is a pretty tall order. The holidays bring dinner parties, gatherings around appetizers and quiet celebrations at home - not to mention gift giving. Is it possible to choose one wine that would be appropriate for all of these occasions? Absolutely. For me the choice is easy - <strong>Ferrari Ros&eacute; </strong>sparkling wine made in the northern Italian wine region of Trento DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata.) Since 1902 Giulio Ferrari, and then the Lunelli family, have been making traditional method sparkling wines in the mountains of Trentino. Ferrari Ros&eacute; is a beautiful coppery, salmon color in the glass with fine and persistent bubbles. Aromas of mixed berries spill over to the flavors which combine with toasted almonds and finish with citrus zest. The finish is bright and clean. Ferrari Ros&eacute; pairs beautifully with appetizers (think smoked salmon, mushroom pinwheels or savory cookies). It would pair as beautifully with the fish course of a full course dinner as it would with creamy pasta as the only course of a simple supper. And don&#39;t overlook the deliciousness of sipping a glass of Ferrari Ros&eacute; on its own. If you want to introduce a friend to a delicious sparkling wine, Ferrari Ros&eacute; is the prefect gift and, at about $35, it won&rsquo;t break the bank. We are gathering with friends in a few days and I will be taking my own advice and reaching into our wine cellar for our last bottle of Ferrari Ros&eacute;. I&rsquo;m confident it is the perfect choice.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Nancy Brazil<br /><br /> <a href="">Pull that Cork</a></strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Champagne Blanc de Blancs</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Since the holidays are really special times of the year - or even your lifetime, it is worth the extra expense to toast all that we have in life. That is why my list contains my favorites that I taste only once a year. Champagne Collet NV ($55), Champagne Ruinart NV ($72), Champagne Philippe Gonet Extra Brut 2005 ($65),<br /><br /> Champagne Louis Roederer Brut Nature 2009 ($85), Champagne Bruno Pallard 2006 ($90), &amp; Champagne Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Millenaires 1995 ($190)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Philip Kampe</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>The Wine Hub</strong></a></p> Tue, 27 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6879 The Decision to Spend More on Sparkling Wine Mark Angelillo <p>I love a <a href=""><strong>good value when it comes to sparkling wine</strong></a>, but there are so many occasions that warrant higher price points. In fact, purpose is the single most important part of any sparkling wine purchase. Is it a romantic affair or a graduation? Is it Thanksgiving or a retirement party? Will you be present when the bottle is opened? Generally speaking the import of the occasion leads you to a price. But the truth of the matter is that the premium category does not exist just for special occasions and gifts.&nbsp; Rather it can turn a boring occasion into a special one.&nbsp; Once you&rsquo;ve tasted these premium wines it won&rsquo;t be hard to understand why they fetch higher prices. &ldquo;Higher&rdquo; in this case means over thirty dollars.&nbsp; The care that goes into their genesis is evident.&nbsp; No matter which method is used, the creation of sparkling wine is an inherently risky proposition with higher costs. Specialized workers must be hired to tend to caves filled with liquids under extreme pressure.&nbsp; Special machinery must be used in some cases. Only the best grapes over several vintages, or within a single year, can be used. These producers get a high-five from me for the time, talent, and risk they put behind making premium sparkling wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I still hear so many people being apologetic about their wine choices. They shift responsibility to a pushy retailer, a flash sale, or they just buy something &ndash; anything&mdash;with a vaguely recognizable name. That&rsquo;s not going to be necessary this year. Check out this list of premium selections that go beyond the same old sparkling wine labels. Nobody is going to say that you made a mistake when you pop open one of these beauties!<br /> <a href=""><strong>V Sattui Winery Prestige Cuv&eacute;e Brut Napa 2011</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The prestige of the Napa name extends to its sparkling wines as well. The region&rsquo;s renowned terroir bubbles to the surface of every glass. Fresh lemon and pear aromas, a touch of oak spice and more citrus on the nose. Exquisite palate of lemon meringue, grapefruit and fresh melon, extremely clean and light on its feet but expressive and elegant. This over-delivers on flavor, mouthfeel and acidity, is well balanced and approachable. 91 pts. $33<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>La Valle Sat&egrave;n Brut Franciacorta 2010</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Highly-regarded in Italy, Franciacorta wines are made in the &ldquo;metodo classico&rdquo; &ndash; double fermentation in the bottle &ndash; with strict regulations and were the first in Italy to receive the highest designation of quality. Look for the word &ldquo;Sat&egrave;n&rdquo; on the label as an indicator of quality, too. This La Valle is a perfect example. Sat&egrave;n is a high-end silk produced in Italy&rsquo;s Como province. Sat&egrave;n style wines are silky largely because of their Chardonnay base. Only Chardonnay or Pinot Bianco grapes are permitted in Sat&egrave;n-labeled wines. Here we find gorgeous fresh apple and white pepper aromas with a touch of honey glaze. Extraordinary and elegant with sweet spice and fresh nectarine and pink grapefruit, persimmon and orange pith towards the finish. Honeyed and herbal with well-developed fruit, excellent balance, and a warm toast throughout. $34<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Schug Winery Rouge de Noirs Brut Carneros 2012</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Deep ruby color, quite dark for a sparkling wine. Blackberry and black cherry aromas with fresh butter cream. This is tart, zesty and full bodied, with a zippy spiciness through the center playing against full fruit flavors of cranberry, cherry and black currant. Finishes with some earthiness and oak spice - a sparkling wine for red wine lovers. $35<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Laurent-Perrier Demi-Sec Champagne NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> You will never disappoint anyone when you bring certified Champagne to the table. This selection by Laurent-Perrier delivers incredible value on the premium side of the line. Soft green apple and grapefruit aromas with baked pear and honeyed lemon peel. Certainly a touch of sweetness on the palate with fresh fruit delivery of pineapple, apple, and peach, creamy delicate mousse, and a candied finish. 90 pts. $44.99<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Domaine Chandon Brut Mt. Veeder 2011</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Assertive green apple and lemon aromas with dried apricot. Round and firm palate of tart green apple and bright citrus notes of lemon curd, tangerine and pink grapefruit. Tightly focused and very fresh, this doesn&#39;t pull any punches on refreshing acidity, but develops a creamy mousse on the palate and finishes with a smooth vanilla and lemon pith note and great length. $45<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Bisol Superiore di Cartizze Prosecco DOCG NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Prosecco has been battling imitators for decades. There are two key terms to look for on Prosecco labels: 1.) DOCG &ndash; meaning, the Italian government has guaranteed the origin of the wine.&nbsp; 2.) The word &ldquo;Cartizze&rdquo;. This is a small geographical area &ndash; around 107 acres &ndash; named for the Cartizze hill. This steep vineyard area is most superior for growing the Glera grapes used in Prosecco. The Cartizze area falls in the Conegliano Valdobiaddene region -- another great name to look for on bottles of premium Prosecco. <a href=""><strong>Read more about Conegliano Valdobbiadene here</strong></a>. Light biscuit aromas with peach, grapefruit and lemon. This is full bodied and rich on the palate with a creamy mousse and flavors of tart lemon, creamy almond and peach, melting into chunky melon and smooth oak notes that linger for quite a long time before depositing a touch of sweetness and more nutty buttery brioche notes. $50<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Domaine Montreaux Brut Napa NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I gave this wine 95 points, which doesn&rsquo;t happen very often. Enough said. Delectable cream and butter aromas with bright Meyer lemon, minerality and honeyed peach notes, with a touch of vanilla. Commanding and freshly zesty in the mouth, full acidity that slips into a tart lemon and grapefruit palate, smashed peach and melon, mixed spice, baked apple and a long dried apricot finish. 95 pts. $50<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Frank Family Vineyards Blanc de Blancs Carneros 2012</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fresh and clear aromas of ripe apple, pear, and lemon zest. Tart and refreshing in the mouth, this has a zesty approach, bright acidity and very tart lemon and grapefruit notes. Turns a bit softer on the finish which tails off quickly, reinforcing the clarity, focus and citrus freshness here and leading into the next sip. $55<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Grand Napa Vineyards Brut Cuv&eacute;e Carneros 2010</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Buttery brioche, fresh lemon, melon and tart citrus on the nose. Creamy mousse in the mouth, a nice bite of acidity and warm fruit notes of tart green apple, citrus pith, grapefruit and hard rind aged cheese. The finish is clean and has good length, more creaminess and a sticky resinous note alongside more citrus pith and a hint of peach. $75<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Laurent-Perrier Cuv&eacute;e Rose Brut Champagne NV</strong></a> $99.99<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fresh cranberry and strawberry on the nose, a touch herbal with floral notes. Continues to be herbal and lightly earthy on the palate, with strawberry and cherry fruit coming through the mid palate, a lively acidity and finish of lemon zest. $99.99</p> Thu, 22 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6878 It’s officially time for winter white wines. Mark Angelillo <p>We wine lovers think of winemakers like celebrities. Much like chefs, we want our winemakers to flex creative muscle to create potpourris of grapes in the bottle. Look out, varietal wine. Blends have arrived. This isn&rsquo;t news to most, but it&rsquo;s a trend that&rsquo;s here to stay. We want to witness varietal synergy in our glasses and feel assured that only the best grapes from each vintage have been used. But then there&rsquo;s a certain, centuries-old iconic blend associated with a certain historic French region. This blend has had many imitators from around the globe. It has a huge following in California where winemakers are adapting and adding new grapes to the original recipes. I am talking about the Rh&ocirc;ne-style. And in this case, I&rsquo;d like to focus on the Rh&ocirc;ne-style-whites. They are unctuous, aromatic, and warming &ndash; the perfect wintertime white wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Rh&ocirc;ne-style whites are traditionally made using Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc and Picpoul Blanc in various configurations. While New World regions put their own spin on Rh&ocirc;ne-style blends, there&rsquo;s nothing like the real thing. Real-deal white Rh&ocirc;ne-style blends are available at incredible values. These values are often better than their New World counterparts. Check out six of my recent favorites below.<br /> <a href=""><strong>Marrenon Grand Marrenon Luberon Blanc 2014</strong></a>, $14<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Round and chubby aromas of juicy white peach, tangerine and potpourri on the nose. Thick and silky in the mouth with chewy candy tropical fruits, fresh melon and lemon zest, this is mouth coating and carries a bit of heft with it, but is a bit lighter towards the finish, with excellent length, cantaloupe and chamomile flowers, with a dusting of oak spice to finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Michel Gassier Nostre Pais Costieres de Nimes 2014</strong></a>, $17<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lemon meringue, peach and green apple aromas, somewhat simple but pronounced and pleasant. This has a tart, round and creamy palate of grapefruit, lemon and pear with restrained oak spice and zesty acidity yielding to dried herb towards the finish and a slow fading warmth.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Domaine de Fondreche Ventoux Blanc 2014</strong></a>, $18<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Emollient and lightly citrusy in the glass with fresh cut flowers, minerally dried apricot and tart lemon. Lemony and full bodied in the mouth, this is commanding and rich, full of fruit and just enough acidity to cut through the oiliness with more lemon and grapefruit, rounding out the finish with a touch of dry stone and more fresh flowers.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Saint Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone Blanc 2015</strong></a>, $19<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Floral lemon and sunflower seed notes with candied citrus peel and a touch of melon. Fleshy and warm on the palate, this has good lemon fruit flavors and a creamy nuttiness towards the mid palate that adds another dimension of almond and macadamia nuts, finishing with more citrus blossom and a squeeze of peach preserves.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>J.L. Chave Celeste Saint-Joseph 2012</strong></a>, $30<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Beautiful nose of honeyed pear and elderflower with light lemon and grapefruit notes and a hint of oak spice. Silky smooth&nbsp; in the mouth on entry, this is redolent of peach cobbler with fresh green apple and ripe melon notes and a creamy toast alongside a buttery finish of hazelnut and wooded spice. 91 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Domaine Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage Blanc 2015</strong></a>, $32<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Floral blossom, white peach and golden apple aromas with lemon shortbread and sun dried hay notes on the nose. Unctuous, creamy and full bodied with generous baked apple, persimmon and peach fruit, a vanilla cream center and a lemon drop candied note delicate on the edges. Finishes with excellent length and more creaminess</p> Thu, 22 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6880 Winery Spotlight: Martin Ray Gabe Sasso <p>Many wineries are distinctly associated with a single appellation or growing region. Martin Ray Winery unlike most can claim to real roots in two distinct California counties, Santa Cruz and Sonoma. When you consider the fact that they also source grapes in some of Napa Valley&rsquo;s most prime AVA&rsquo;s the picture that comes in to focus shows a brand that represents a large swath of California&rsquo;s grape growing regions.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Martin Ray brand started in Santa Cruz in 1943. Their relatively new home in Sonoma County is the old Martini &amp; Prati Wnery. William Hill who was also a stalwart of the banking scene in Sonoma County first built the facility and named it Twin Fir Winery. Courtney Benham purchased Martin Ray in 1990 and moved it to Sonoma County in 2003. When he exercised the option to purchase the property in 2014 he also invested in modernizing the production facility and every aspect of the hospitality areas.<br /> Martin Ray Winery which sits in the middle of the famed Russian River Valley is now not only a producer of reasonably priced wines representing numerous California AVAs, it&rsquo;s a terrific place to visit too. Benham and his team have created an inviting atmosphere. If your goal is to simply bump up at the bar and taste through some wines you can do that. However if you have time to luxuriate in the beautiful surroundings, I recommend it. Whether your idea of relaxation is a game of Bocce or a picnic lunch alongside your tasting flight, Martin Ray has you covered.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Over the last few months I had a couple of opportunities to taste through a myriad of wines in their wide-ranging portfolio alongside Bill Batchelor, Martin Ray&rsquo;s Winemaker and General Manager. What I found is a host of food friendly, accessible wines that fairly represent the growing regions they came from. Their wines are by and large competitively priced compared to their peers and quality in the bottle. In addition to the Martin Ray wines they also produce an everyday range of wines under the label Angeline. Below are notes on six of my favorites among their current releases.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Martin Ray 2015 Dutton Ranch Sauvignon Blanc</strong></a> ($25)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This limited production offering was made using young vines planted to the Musque clone of Sauvignon Blanc. Fermentation took place in neutral French oak. This gorgeous example of Sauvignon Blanc is reason enough to visit their tasting room. The memorable nose shows off a bevy of citrus aromas. Apricot, white peach and lychee flavors dominate the palate along with wisps of spice. The long lingering finish features lemon curd and ripe yellow melon. The aromatics and mouth-feel are the most impressive characteristics here.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Martin Ray 2015 Green Valley Chardonnay</strong></a> ($30)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This cuvee style offering is comprised of select barrels from each vineyard the winery sources from in the Green Valley of Russian River Valley. Aging took place in (40% new) French oak. Granny Smith apple, melon and hints of tropical fruit are evident on the nose. The palate leans towards the tart side with continued green apple notes balanced by hints of pear, vanilla and bits of savory herbs. The toasty finish is laced with spice, citrus and continuing bits of sour fruit. Firm acid keep things mouth-watering. Delicious by itself this Chardonnay loves creamy foods. Case in point, it was an outstanding match for Deviled Eggs.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Martin Ray 2015 Green Valley Pinot Noir </strong></a>($35)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Most of the fruit for this wine was sourced at the Dutton Ranch. Aging took place over 12 months in (50% new) French oak.&nbsp; Red fruit aromas are joined by copious amounts of spice on the welcoming nose. The layered palate is stuffed with strawberry, cherry and cranberry flavors. Black tea, pomegranate, sour cherry and a light dusting of cocoa are all evident on the lingering finish. This Pinot is delightful on it&rsquo;s own and will pair marvelously with all but the heartiest of fare.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Martin Ray 2014 Puccioni Vineyard Zinfandel</strong></a> ($30)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> All of the fruit came from the Puccioni Vineyard which sits in Dry Creek Valley, the home office for Zinfandel. Aging took place over 16 months in French, Hungarian and American oak. Black cherry and raspberry aromas fill the nose along with a touch of dark chocolate. The substantial palate is studded with black fruit flavors joined by intermingling bits of red fruit. Blackberry, chocolate sauce, baking spices and earth are all evident on the finish. This is an awesome example of Zinfandel made in a classic (not overblown) style.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Martin Ray 2013 &ldquo;Synthesis&rdquo; Cabernet Sauvignon</strong></a> ($50)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This cuvee style Cabernet was produced from fruit sourced in Stags Leap, Rutherford, Howell Mountain and Diamond Mountain. Aging took place over 18 months in (60% new) French oak barrels.&nbsp; Red fruit, spice, toast and wisps of vanilla dot the lovely but slightly reticent nose. The palate shows off bold leaning but proportionate red and black fruit flavors. Crushed red cherry, blackberry and plum flavors are all in play. Earth, roasted coffee and oodles of spices are evident on the finish. Medium tannins recede with a bit of air. This approachable Cabernet will drink well for the next decade.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Martin Ray 2014 Santa Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon</strong></a> ($55)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The fruit for this Cabernet came from two well regarded vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It&rsquo;s composed entirely of Cabernet Sauvignon. Barrel aging took place over 18 months in (55% new) French oak. Black plum, blueberry and a m&eacute;lange of spices light up the nose here. The palate is stuffed with a burst of pure, firm dark mountain fruit flavors. Blackberry, raspberry and black cherry are joined by a generous helping of savory herbs. Butter chocolate and earth flavors dominate the long finish. Firm tannins and racy acid provide terrific structure. Best suited to pair with hearty fare or lay down for a few years.</p> Wed, 21 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6877 Have a Sparkling Holiday & A Grand Cru New Year John Downes <p>With the New Year just around the corner, pop the cork on a sparkling wine and it&rsquo;s jingle bells all the way. The days when Champagne had it all its own way are long gone for our wine shelves are now groaning with bubbles from all over the world. And there&rsquo;s more good news; as our credit cards take a festive pounding you can now find a sparkler to please most palettes and pockets.&nbsp; Champagne is still the King of Sparklers and Taittinger Brut Reserve N.V. (Non Vintage, $50) is a great sip from the chilly vineyards of north-east France. Champagne is generally a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes and is made by a second fermentation in the bottle where a little more sugar and yeast is added to a still dry wine to produce a little more alcohol and a little more carbon dioxide &ndash; the fizz. The time the wine spends on &lsquo;the lees&rsquo;, (the dead yeast cells) in the bottle following the second fermentation is an important quality and taste factor for any sparkler. Taittinger N.V. spends 3 years on the lees in their cool Reims cellars to give the crisp citrus peach flavours attractive nutty yeast overtones. &lsquo;A great partner for your smoked salmon starter by the way!<br /> Cava will also help your celebrations go with a swing. This Spanish sparkler is made in the same way as Champagne but from different grape varieties; Xarello (gives acidity), Macabeo (soft, floral) and Parallada (richness) give a completely different taste sensation. You can pour a cracking Cava for fifteen dollars; Anna De Codorn&iacute;u Brut Nature N.V. Cava really hits the spot. If you&rsquo;re feeling rich try Cava Brut Nature Gran Reserva &ldquo;Terrers 2008&rdquo; from Recaredo ($40). For Cava, the minimum time any wine can spend on the &lsquo;lees&rsquo; is 9 months, &lsquo;Anna&rsquo; had 12 months. The Terrers 2008 spent nearly six years on the lees! The result is a nutty, crisp, citrus beauty that makes for a very classy aperitif as your guests arrive.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> You could really sparkle and &lsquo;go Italian&rsquo; this Christmas with a bottle of Franciacorta. From the Lombardia region of northern Italy towards the Swiss-Austrian border, Chardonnay is the major player but Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc can also join the blend. It&rsquo;s not cheap but it&rsquo;s a wonderful alternative to Champagne and often has a price tag $15 lower than the King of Sparklers. Ricci Curbastro Brut, for example, tips the scales at $35. The Franciacorta winemakers are proud that 14 million bottles of Franciacorta stay on the lees for 18 months, &ldquo;that&rsquo;s 3 million more than Champagne&rdquo;, they boast. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Chile has been producing sparkling wines for decades and they&rsquo;re improving year on year. Montes have recently released their &lsquo;Sparkling Angel&rsquo; ($25), a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from their ocean-cooled Zapallar vineyards in the Aconcagua Valley about 80 kilometres north of Santiago. The back label proudly announces that the &lsquo;bottle fermented wine has been aged &lsquo;on its lees&rsquo; for 3 years.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The famous Champagne House of Moet et Chandon use all their winemaking expertise in Argentina to make the Chardonnay-Pinot Noir Chandon Rose N.V. ($25). It&rsquo;s well worth a pour this Christmas as 18 months on the lees gives the rich vibrant strawberry fruit an attractive yeasty edge. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> New Year would not be the same without a bottle of English Sparkling, the wine that&rsquo;s taking the world by storm and giving Champagne a run for its money in international competition. I couldn&rsquo;t think of a better festive afternoon than one spent with a bottle of &lsquo;ESW&rsquo;, a group of friends and a slice or two of Christmas cake. Some of my favourites? Hambledon Classic Cuve, Exton Park Rose, Nyetimber and Ridgeview, all of which carry a price tag of about $40. As the World&rsquo;s&nbsp; no. 1 fan, I raise a glass of English Sparkling Wine to all my fellow snoothers, with my best wishes for a Grand Cru Holiday and a Vintage New Year.</p> Wed, 21 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6876 World Class Sparkling Wine for Your Holiday Table Gabe Sasso <p>Italy is well known for many things and one of them is an inordinate number of different wine grapes. The variety (400-500) is practically dizzying. That sort of diversity is also present in Italian sparkling wine where a number of traditions persist. One of the best known is Prosecco. These wines are made with the Glera grape and fermented in stainless steel tanks. Other parts of Italy use a combination of methods to create their sparkling wines. But there&rsquo;s only one Ferrari, the jewel of Trento DOC (an appellation for white and ros&eacute; sparkling wine made in Trentino, Italy), also known as Trentodoc or sometimes TrentoDOC.&nbsp; Ferrari has been making sparkling wine in Trento since 1902. Founder Giulio Ferrari, having no heirs, sold the winery to his best customer Bruno Lunelli in 1952. Ferrari has been part of the Lunelli Family ever since. As you start thinking about buying those tremendously important sparkling wine bottles this December, take a journey with me into the magic of Ferrari.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I spent the better part of a week visiting Ferrari and had the opportunity to see their production facility and vineyards as well as sample all of their offerings in multiple settings. What&rsquo;s most apparent is that the truest comparison to Ferrari sparkling wine is Champagne. In using only Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown in ideal conditions and producing their wines using the classic method they have set themselves as a class leader in sparkling wine.<br /> The top tier isn&rsquo;t the only place the wines of Ferrari shine. Starting with the entry level Brut, each of the wines easily over-delivers quality for its price point. Some such as the 2009 vintage Perl&eacute; at under $40 is a stunning value that far outclasses just about any sparkling wine I can think of in the under $75 price range.&nbsp; Ferrari is doing an impressive job producing wines of character and loaded with terroir that are suitable, yes for celebrations, but also with food. Ferrari wines are eminently food friendly, complex and simply delicious. Here&rsquo;s a look at some current offerings.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ferrari Brut Trentodoc (NV)</strong></a> ($25)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Their entry level wine is produced entirely from Chardonnay which spends 24 months or more on the lees. Fresh flowers and bits of toast mark the nose. Yellow fruits, including golden delicious apples dominate the palate, Lemon zest, bits of vanilla and more are part of the soft, gentle finish. If you&rsquo;re seeking out an everyday sparkling wine, look no further, this has everything you would want and a great price to boot.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ferrari Ros&eacute; Trentodoc (NV)</strong></a> ($35)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This Ros&eacute; is produced from a combination of Pinot Noir (60%), and Chardonnay (40%). It spends at least 24 months on the lees. Strawberries and hints of vanilla dominate the nose. The palate is studded with a cornucopia of fresh, red berry fruits. Bing cherry and wild strawberry are of note. Hints of biscuit and cr&egrave;me fraiche are apparent on above average finish. This wine will pair with an astounding array of food styles.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ferrari 2009 Perl&eacute; Trentodoc</strong></a> ($38)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Perl&eacute; is composed entirely of Chardonnay grown on Lunelli family-owned hillside vineyards. It sits on the lees for no less than 5 years. Toasted hazelnuts and bits of linseed oil are apparent on the nose. The palate is simultaneously delicate and layered as well as substantial in depth of flavor. Yellow melon, continued toasted nuts, candied fruit and more contribute to the terrific texture and mouth-feel. The finish is long and very impressive for a wine in this price range.&nbsp; Bits of brioche and orchard fruit are the dominant characteristics. In a portfolio loaded with notable wines the Perl&eacute; might be the best value. It simply out paces anything in its price category and some priced close to twice as much. Tasted alongside Dom P&eacute;rignon and the others in that tier it held its own nicely.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ferrari 2009 Perl&eacute; Ros&eacute; Trentodoc</strong></a> ($65)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Perl&eacute; Ros&eacute; is composed of Pinot Noir (80%) and Chardonnay (20%) grown in vineyards owned by the Lunelli family. It spends 5 years minimum on the lees. Red apple leads the nose. Raspberry and black cherry flavors fill the substantial and fruity palate. Pomegranate, cranberry and savory herbs are all apparent on the full bodied finish. Perl&eacute; Ros&eacute; is bigger, bolder and more suited for heartier foods than the NV Ros&eacute;.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ferrari 2008 Perl&eacute; Nero Trentodoc</strong></a> ($75)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This offering is composed entirely of Pinot Noir which was hand harvested from Lunelli family vineyards. It spent a minimum of 6 years on the lees.&nbsp; The nose here is ostentatious with bits of dark fruit and wisps of petrol as well. Black cherry, strawberry and spices galore are evident throughout the somewhat dense palate. Continued red and black fruits, tangerine zest and bits of buttery, flaky croissant dot the long, firm and impressive finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ferrari 2007 Riserva Lunelli Trentodoc</strong></a> ($65)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This Riserva is 100% Chardonnay from Lunelli owned Villa Margon. It spent a minimum of 7 years on the lees. It&rsquo;s the only selection in the portfolio whose secondary fermentation occurs in large Austrian oak, instead of bottle. Toasty notes, dried apple and bits of pear are evident on the nose. The mouth-feel is firm and rich. The fruit flavors here are more subdued and give way to other characteristics such as spice, toast and minerals. Orange zest notes dot the finish. This offering is meant to stand apart from the other members of the portfolio and it does just that. It&rsquo;s an interesting and unique selection that is likely to inspire passion one way or the other.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ferrari 2005 Giulio Ferrari Riserva Del Fondatore Trentodoc</strong></a> ($120)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The crown jewel in the Ferrari line is 100% Chardonnay from the Lunelli family owned vineyard of Maso Pianizza. It spends a minimum of 10 years on the lees. Candied fruit, citrus zest and white pepper are all evident on the nose. The palate is soft, gentle and lush with yellow fruit, toasted pine nuts and a complement of spices.&nbsp; The prodigious finish features wet limestone, flaky biscuit, cr&egrave;me fraiche and continuing spices. There is elegance, grace and gravitas to this wine that impresses from the first whiff to the last sip. If you&rsquo;re looking for top notch sparkling wine that can compete with anything on the shelf, Giulio Ferrari Riserva is a great choice.</p> Tue, 20 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6875 The Difference Between Value & Cheap Sparkling Wine Mark Angelillo <p>Whenever I get together with friends and cook my wife and I always love to start with a sparkling wine. Even the act of pulling off the cork signifies that it&rsquo;s time to celebrate. Years of history have put that front and center. However when you are hosting a dinner party there is so much to think about, so many things to buy, and so much to put out on the table. Sunday brunch doesn&rsquo;t always call for a premium bottle, especially when some of your guests have designs on a virgin Mimosa or Bellini. And when you&rsquo;re throwing a dinner party, greeting guests with a premium glass of sparkling wine could be considered a premature crescendo. There is a slew of value sparkling bottles hidden in various corners of the globe that show exceedingly well and oftentimes rival their premium colleagues. The most important thing about buying value sparkling wine is to get a recommendation &ndash; say, from an article like this one. There is a difference between value and just plain cheap.&nbsp; Imitation &ldquo;Champagne&rdquo; and &ldquo;Prosecco&rdquo; are banes of the wine lover&rsquo;s existence. Do your research, and be sure to check out the end of this article for a suggested holiday brunch spread to pair with these wines. Cheers!<br /> <a href=""><strong>Desiderio Jeio Prosecco Brut NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Light, floral and inviting nose of green apple, lemon, tangerine and pear. Prickly and lively palate of mixed citrus fruit notes of lemon, grapefruit and tangerine, great acidity and minerality, finishing with a warm peach and apple note that is lightly spiced, creamy and decadent. 90 pts. $14<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>C&ocirc;te Mas Cremant de Limoux Rose Brut NV</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Look to Limoux, located in France&#39;s Languedoc, for incredible sparkling wine values. Floral, grapefruit, cranberry and cherry aromas. Nicely fruited on the palate with cranberry, ripe cherry, strawberry and fresh watermelon with a pleasant mousse and bright acidity keeping the palate bright and zesty, with a creamy note towards the finish that brings a light herb and sweet spice along with it. 90 pts. $16<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>C&ocirc;te Mas Cremant de Limoux Brut NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This uses Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, Mauzac. The white Mauzac grape is the Limoux&rsquo;s signature. Clean, light and honeyed with floral notes of blossom and hints of peach. Dry, spicy and full of sharp acidity and a pleasant dried fruit note coming through, apricot and melon, peach and ripe apple with a soft finish of lemon and grapefruit. Excellent freshness, citrus zest and a good complexity. 92 pts. $16<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Willm Cremant d&#39;Alsace Brut Rose NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cremant d&rsquo;Alsace is arguably one of the sparkling wine world&rsquo;s most terrific values. Always made from 100% Pinot Noir in the traditional method, they bring colorful flair to any occasion. This one brings sweet spice and fresh cherry aromas with lightly floral notes and crisp strawberry fruit. Full, bold acidity with expansive mouthfeel and crisp fruit flavors of watermelon and strawberry, tart cherry and an herbal, earthy resinous note towards the finish. $18<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Tenuta Villa Crespia Brolese Extra Brut Rose Franciacorta NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href="">Franciacorta has been called the next Champagne with good reason</a>. While many Franciacorta bottles can be found at the premium level there are opportunities to unearth value. This one&rsquo;s got butter cookie and brioche aromas with strawberry and tart cherry on the nose. Tart cranberry, strawberry and cherry fruit on the approach with perky acidity and lemon zest on the mid palate amidst melty butter and almond cookie notes with fresh green apple towards the finish. Smooth and approachable yet elegant. $20<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Jean-Baptiste Adam Cremant d&#39;Alsace Brut Rose NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cranberry and watermelon aromas with soft oak spice and a toasted yeast note. Sweet spice and bright cherry flavors on the the palate, lightly syruped and quite creamy with a delicate mousse, herbal strawberry notes and a tart finish of creamy yeast and light watermelon. $22<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Lucien Albrecht Cremant d&#39;Alsace Brut Rose NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Light cherry, strawberry and raspberry aromas. Zesty and lively palate with rich strawberry flavors, fresh cherry and cranberry notes coming through the mid palate and a fun mixed berry note on the finish. $22<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Gustavo Lorentz Cremant d&#39;Alsace Brut Rose NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Intriguing herbal notes of light eucalyptus, also fruity with watermelon, cherry and strawberry. Tart and fresh on the palate with full bodied flavors of licorice, creamy cherry syrup, watermelon and lemon zest. Very unique and different. $25<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Castello di Gussago La Santissima Brut Franciacorta</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Bitter and tart grapefruit pith on the nose with softer aromas of green apple and pear. The citrus pith returns on the palate, set against bracing acidity, concentrated lime and grapefruit notes and a sharp aged cheese note on the finish. $25<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Recommended holiday brunch spread to pair with one or more of these sparkling wines:</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Warm Pear with Cinnamon Ricotta</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Baked Apples Stuffed with Dried Fruit &amp; Pecans</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Fettucine with Swiss Chard &amp; Dried Fruits</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Salmon &amp; Watercress Quiche</strong></a></p> Tue, 20 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6873 ProWein 2017 – The Entire World of Wine <p>ProWein is the world&rsquo;s leading trade fair for wine and spirits, the largest industry meeting for professionals from viticulture, production, trade and gastronomy. No other trade fair offers such concentrated competence and compact wine knowledge like ProWein in D&uuml;sseldorf, Germany. Nowhere else can attendees experience such a high level of internationality, diversity of products and professional atmosphere. Being a trade only event has given ProWein its reputation as a unique business platform for the specialized wine and spirits sector &ndash; for the food wholesale and retail trade, the gastronomy and hotel industry as well as for importers, exporters, mail order business and specialized associations/institutions.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> From March 19 - 21, 2017, more than 6,000 exhibitors from over 60 countries will showcase their products on about 735,000 square feet of exhibit space to 55,000 trade visitors. The trade only event will again be the No. 1 international industry get-together where the latest and most important trends are on display.<br /> While the host nation Germany is very well represented at ProWein, 84% of the over 6,000 exhibitors come from 58 other countries. Filling nine exhibition halls at the fairgrounds in D&uuml;sseldorf, Germany, ProWein will showcase an unparalleled diversity of wines and spirits from all continents.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Events</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> In addition to the exhibitors&rsquo; presentations, the versatile ancillary program will focus on trends and innovations, providing inspiration for the visitors: more than 300 tasting sessions and seminars, the tasting zone of the winning wines of MUNDUS VINI, the Champagne lounge and the FIZZZ Lounge with the motto &ldquo;Spirits &amp; More: Exclusive Cocktails with Coffee, Wine and Craft Beer&ldquo;. The special show &ldquo;same but different&rdquo; will present extraordinary wine production marketing concepts while wine packaging will be the focus of another special show on &ldquo;Packaging &amp; Design&rdquo;.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Route USA</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A highlight will again be &ldquo;Route USA&rdquo;. For U.S. buyers, importers and wholesalers coming to the show, ProWein and Wine Enthusiast have built &ldquo;Route USA&rdquo;. The Route will guide U.S. visitors to those producers who seek to meet them. Producers will have special signage (the Route USA logo) on their booth indicating their interest in finding importing and distribution partners in the United States.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> To save time and money, order tickets online at <a href=""><strong></strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Questions? ProWein&rsquo;s U.S. office is here to help: Messe D&uuml;sseldorf North America, <strong>Tel. (312) 781-5180</strong>, <a href=""><strong></strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> For accommodations, contact TTI Travel Inc., at <strong>(866) 674-3476</strong>; <a href=""><strong></strong></a><strong>;</strong> <a href=""><strong></strong></a></p> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6863 Smoke Pairings: It’s a Thing Claudia Angelillo <p>Tobacco is a slippery and oftentimes polarizing slope. Some of us love to indulge in a celebratory smoke on occasion, while others detest the very notion. The havoc wrought by overuse of industrial tobacco products is undeniable. Meanwhile, many of us hold on to the romantic promise of an after dinner smoke, the armchair pipe, or the gloved hand of a beautiful woman balancing a cigarette holder between her pointer and middle fingers. I&rsquo;d place myself firmly in the romantic category. Just like drinking and eating, smoking can be done in moderation if you so choose. Moderation in this case might be once a year, but that&rsquo;s what makes it so special. Think about it: How many Thanksgiving Days could you possibly take?<br /> Not only how much, but what you smoke really matters. Industrial tobacco products contain a variety of questionable ingredients. Always choose quality products. And always be sure to pair your smoke with a delicious beverage. It&rsquo;s an age-old practice rife with opportunities to elicit arcane tasting notes and create an otherworldly sensorial experience.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> It&rsquo;s time to break out your smoking jacket and indulge. Remember, a special holiday smoke pairing is a chance to escape a tension-filled holiday table. Smoking is ideal for the outdoors. And if you are indoors, ventilation is so important when you&rsquo;re trying to activate your palate and olfactory faculties at the same time. Open windows and doors.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Without further ado, here are my top three special occasion holiday smoke pairings.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mullein &amp; <a href=""><strong>Masala Chai</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mullein is one of my favorite smoke-friendly medicinal herbs. It&rsquo;s widely available in tea bags, but has been rolled and smoked as a lung tonic for centuries. It may seem counter-intuitive, but yes, smoking mullein soothes raw and vulnerable membranes in the throat and lungs. Pair it with a piping hot Masala Chai to break an intractable cough, or just enjoy it with a calm moment of repose. <a href=""><strong>Get the Masala Chai recipe here</strong></a>.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href="!cigarette/0/"><strong>Nat Sherman Fantasia</strong></a> and Steely Chardonnay&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This is celebration in a box. Fantasias are long, slender, and elegantly rolled tufts of natural tobacco in delightfully colored papers -- red, yellow, pink, green and blue. Aren&#39;t you saying &quot;hooray!&quot; at the thought? Pair yours with an ocean floor-drenched, mineral-rich Chardonnay. It will highlight the Fantasia&#39;s lightly toasted vanilla and plant-heavy tobacco flavors.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Davidoff &nbsp;Grand Cru Robusto</strong></a> with <a href=""><strong>Brenne French Single Malt Whiskey</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I experienced this pairing in the luxuriously delightful lounge at <a href=";long=-74.0059413&amp;q=New"><strong>Davidoff of Geneva in New York City&rsquo;s Brookfield Place</strong>.</a> And although we were in the city, this pairing took me deep into the Hundred Acre Wood on a foggy fall morning. The pairing was like scratching a birch tree trunk while crushing dried maple leaves under my feet with a great big inhale of mossy dew. PS: Any old whiskey won&rsquo;t do. <a href=""><strong>Learn more about Brenne&rsquo;s unique story here.</strong></a></div><br /> </p> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6869 2016 Holiday Gift Guide Gabe Sasso <p>With the holidays fast approaching shopping season is in full effect. All of us likely have one or more wine lovers on our gift list. Like the rest of the world, some of them are easier to shop for and some a bit more difficult. I&rsquo;ve recently tasted through and considered a ton of different wines to come up with fifteen fantastic wine gift ideas. Regardless of whether your budget is less than $20 or several thousand dollars I have some great wines for you to gift that special wine lover. Whether they lean towards the New World or are staunch Old World wine disciples there are multiple options. Every single one of these wines has passed my lips and gets my seal of approval for deliciousness and gift giving. Most of these offerings are easy to find, a few others will take an elevated effort, in every case they&rsquo;re worth it and will be appreciated by the recipient.<br /> </p> Thu, 08 Dec 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6867 The Truth About Petit Chablis John Downes <p>Just back from Chablis with a few thoughts. The first is that the Chablisienne should try and find another name for Petit Chablis. I often hear wine enthusiasts say it&rsquo;s &ldquo;Chablis that didn&rsquo;t make the grade&rdquo;, &ldquo;from young vines or poor vineyards&rdquo;. Sadly, this is not surprising as the name does suggest an inferior wine but after two days of tasting, Petit Chablis from a good producer deserves a far &lsquo;bigger&rsquo; name. William Fevre, Samuel Billaud, Jean-Marc Brocard, Seguinot- Bordet and Francois Raveneau&rsquo;s crisp, citrus Petit Chablis&rsquo; all belie their title. Ideas for a new name on a postcard please.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Chablis vineyards surround the quiet stone walled town of Chablis in central France and are part of Burgundy, even though they&rsquo;re over an hour&rsquo;s drive north of Beaune, the region&rsquo;s spiritual capital. But, in true Burgundian style, the vineyards are the key to Chablis quality. The French have a name for all the stuff that makes a vineyard good, bad or amazing be it soil, aspect, drainage, climate, microclimate, protection, slope etc, etc. That word&rsquo;s &lsquo;terroir&rsquo;. It&rsquo;s a strange &lsquo;mot&rsquo; but it comes in handy sometimes.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /> The Petit Chablis vineyards are generally located on the plateau above the hillside vineyards and whilst the vines don&rsquo;t grow on the superior Kimmeridgian limestone slopes, like their wines, their Portland limestone soils are underrated. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Nonetheless, Petit Chablis is the entry category of the four Chablis appellations, the others being Chablis, Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru. Because of their superior &lsquo;terroir&rsquo;, Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards produce better grapes which in turn, produce better wines, &ldquo;you get a bit more of everything with a Grand Cru&rdquo;, smiles Elaine Defaix of Domaine Bernard Defaix. There is a downside of course. Petit Chablis and Chablis rock in at about $15 (&pound;12) and $20 (&pound;16) respectively, Premier Cru will set you back about $30 (&pound;25) and, deep breaths, Grand Cru can carry a $60 (&pound;50) tag. The upside is that there&rsquo;s a Chablis for all pockets.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mother Nature has a lot to say in this mean northerly climate. Many producers&rsquo; harvests were 50-70% down in 2016 because of frost, hail and mildew and that was on top of a low yielding 2015 vintage which was for some 50% down due to hail just 2 days before picking &hellip; ouch! So, expect higher price tags coming to a wine shop near you.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Chablis vineyards cover about 5500 hectares (ha.) in total, made up of a 100 ha. of Grand Cru, 800 ha. of Premier Cru, 3600 ha. of Chablis and 1000 ha. of Petit Chablis. Organic and biodynamic viticulture is popular across the Chablis vineyards although even the most dedicated devotees were sorely tested during the 2016 vintage. One organically certified winemaker told me that the vintage was so damaging they decided to spray, a decision not taken lightly as it cost them their organic certification, a status that will take three years to recover. That had me thinking, was that why some domaines are totally organic but did not want to be officially certified?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Talking of vintages, the 2014 vintage with its pure line of acidity balancing crisp, arrowed citrus fruit was my star. The fruiter 2015 has less &lsquo;tension&rsquo; (good Chablis tasting note!) but, looking on the cellar-side, the vintage does give us all something to enjoy whilst we wait for the 2014&rsquo;s to hit their peak. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Seeing &lsquo;vielles vignes&rsquo; (old vines) on several Chablis labels reminded me to ignore this impressive announcement. The expression has no legal description and so can be used by any winemaker to denote their oldest vines&hellip; even though they may only be say 15 years old &hellip;. that&rsquo;s hardly old vines folks! Annoyingly, this use of &lsquo;vielles vignes&rsquo; detracts from domaines that take real pride in making complex wines from their old knurled vines; Seguinot- Bordet&rsquo;s Chablis &lsquo;Vielles Vignes&rsquo; is made from 78 year old vines whilst Bernard Defaix&rsquo;s Cote de Lechet 2014 Reserve is produced from 60 year old vines. The importance of knowing if the wine really is &lsquo;Veilles Vignes&rsquo; is highlighted by Julien Brocard, &ldquo;our vielles vignes wines age as well, if not better than our Grand Crus over a 30 year period&rdquo;.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Being Burgundy, the Chardonnay grape is king and the very best vineyard plots, the seven Grand Cru&rsquo;s of Blanchots, Bougros, Les Clos, Grenouilles, Preuses, Valmur and Vaudesir, lie on the steep, protected, south-west facing Kimmeridgian slopes that overlook the River Serein and the town. There are 40 Premier Cru vineyard plots and two, Montee de Tonnerre and Fourchaume, flank the Grand Crus on these treasured &lsquo;Right Bank&rsquo; slopes.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> More Premier Cru vineyards, including Cote de Lechet, Vaillons and Montmains, lie behind the town on south-east facing &lsquo;Left Bank&rsquo; slopes but that said, it&rsquo;s difficult to define exact slope directions within Chablis&rsquo; complex contours, as the ever rolling indulations create critical protection and sun exposure in ever changing measure.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The A.C. (Appellation Controllee) Chablis vineyards lie on the respected Kimmeridgian soils but their sites are less beneficial than the Premier and Grand Cru sites, again showing the vital importance of &lsquo;terroir&rsquo;, especially aspect, slope and microclimate elements, in a chilly northerly region where praying for sunshine and fighting for ripeness is an annual event. &ldquo;The location of the slope is more important than the angle of the slope&rdquo; explains Chablis expert Eric Szablowski.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> As a general rule, Petit Chablis and A.C. Chablis are fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel vats with little use of oak ageing whilst Premier and Grand Cru wines are often part fermented in old French oak barrels, &ldquo;we barrel ferment 50% of our Premier and Grand Cru&rsquo;s in old oak barrels; we only use 2% new oak&rdquo;, confirms Christian Moreau. Francois Raveneau on the other hand ferment their wines in stainless steel before ageing in old French oak barriques, &ldquo;we age for about 10 months depending on the vintage; because of its fruitiness our 2015 had less barrel ageing&rdquo;, explained Isabelle Raveneau.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I was in a restaurant recently when the next table ordered a 2014 Grand Cru Chablis. I checked the wine list. &pound;120! ($150!) Ouch!! My tastings in Chablis brought back memories of that candle-lit night. IMHO., Grand Cru&rsquo;s needs 5&ndash;10 years to reach their full potential so they&rsquo;d have been better off ordering a bottle of Premier Cru. And, it would have saved them a fortune t&rsquo;boot! &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The best producers from my recent trip? Jean-Marc Brocard, Christian Moreau, Samuel Billaud, Seguinot- Bordet, William Fevre, Bernard Defaix, Philippe Charlopin and Francois&nbsp; Raveneau. Pull the cork on any of their wines, be it Petit Chablis, Chablis, Premier or Grand Cru &hellip; you&rsquo;ll taste the dedication.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>John Downes, one of only 350 Masters of Wine in the world, is a speaker, television and radio broadcaster, and writer on wine. Check out his new website at <a href=""><strong></strong></a></em></p> Mon, 28 Nov 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6865 #CarmenereDay is Thanksgiving Day! Snooth Editorial <p>The annual shifts in our calendar create all kinds of serendipitous circumstances. Maybe your birthday falls on a Friday this year, which gifts you an extra big weekend to celebrate. And don&rsquo;t you love it when New Year&rsquo;s Day happens to be on a Friday? You get two extra days to recover from your New Year&rsquo;s Eve exploits. This year, serendipity results in #CarmenereDay and Thanksgiving Day sharing the stage on the 24th of November. It&rsquo;s fate, because you could not choose a better grape to grace your holiday table.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Carmenere has a long and storied history. It came to Chile by way of Bordeaux in the mid-1800s. As the story goes, upon arrival, Carmenere was mistakenly labeled as Merlot. The grape lived in Chile under this false name for decades.<br /> By the late 1800s, Phylloxera had destroyed nearly all of Europe&rsquo;s Carmenere. Just like the woolly mammoth and the dodo bird, true Carmenere was thought to be extinct. The grape became the stuff of lore, and nobody believed they could ever taste the classically beautiful pre-phylloxera grape again.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> But in 1994, the insightful French ampelographer Jean Michel Boursiquot saw the false Merlot in a Chilean vineyard and called it for Carmenere. DNA analysis confirmed his assessment, and the grape&rsquo;s true identity was revealed. Thus Carmenere became Chile&rsquo;s superstar grape.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> And so on November 24th of each year, we celebrate the renewed life of this historic grape. Thriving in its adopted home, Chilean Carmenere pairs perfectly with a wide selection of holiday dishes. This is precisely why its shared celebration with Thanksgiving 2016 is so fortuitous. Carmenere creates herbaceous red wines with easy-going tannins perfectly fit for meats like turkey and ham. The grape delivers vegetal notes that will amplify sundry side dishes which are de rigueur at Thanksgiving celebrations, from string bean casseroles to rosemary-dappled warm olives. These are pert, light, happy wines that will perk up your table in no time flat. Ask your local retailer for Carmenere from Chile, and expect to receive an incredible value.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Here&rsquo;s hoping your Thanksgiving and #CarmenereDay are equally joyous occasions. Cheers!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Photo Credit: <a href=""><strong>Wines of Chile</strong></a></p> Wed, 23 Nov 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6866 The Ultimate Thanksgiving Wine List Snooth Editorial <p>This is not your first Thanksgiving rodeo. It&#39;s not ours, either. We&#39;ve brought you a panoply of Thanksgiving table wine suggestions over the past ten years. There was the time we assured you that <a href=""><strong>Thanksgiving wines wouldn&#39;t break your bank</strong></a>. In fact, we&#39;ve discussed <a href=""><strong>Thanksgiving value wines</strong></a> time and time again. We&#39;ve been here for you during <a href=""><strong>Thanksgiving wine emergencies</strong></a>, too -- and even told you what to do with the <a href="!slide=1"><strong>leftover corks</strong></a>. Suffice it to say, we have been down this road together before.&nbsp; But each new year presents the chance to improve upon the last. As such, the web&#39;s top wine writers have chosen their top Thanksgiving 2016 wines at the $30 and under price point. Print this article and get to your local wine shop, stat. The clear winner this year was <strong><a href="">Onesta Cinsault from Lodi, California</a></strong>. The same bottle was recommended by two of our writers!<br /> <strong>The&nbsp;Rh&ocirc;ne</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> When I think of Thanksgiving wines, I think of Rh&ocirc;ne varieties. And when I think of domestic Rh&ocirc;ne varieties, I have to look locally. Texas is producing some lovely wines with Rh&ocirc;ne grapes. Northern or Southern, white or red, I can always find one (or several) I&#39;m excited to share with friends and family. Since Thanksgiving in Austin can mean warmer temperatures, I lean toward a white blend. The 2014 <a href=""><strong>Wedding Oak Winery</strong></a> Terre Blanc begins with a classic blend of Marsanne, Viognier, and Roussanne. The addition of Trebbiano gives the wine a lilting acidity. The combination of grapes makes this wine versatile. With primary notes of pear and apricot, the wine moves into lemon zest, tea, and exotic spice, finishing with toasted macadamia nuts. It has the structure and weight to hold its own with enough bright notes to carry it through the richer dishes. The grapes in this wine are estate grown, planted with the dream, years ago. Their winemaker, Penny Adams has been a pioneer in the Texas wine industry for decades. Their namesake, the Wedding Oak in San Saba has provided shelter for centuries. There is a sentiment in that story that makes this wine a fitting choice for Thanksgiving. It reminds me to give thanks for risk-takers and quietly planning for the future. For the visionaries, venturing into the uncharted. And for the steady ones, the constants, selflessly providing support as we grow. Whichever wine you choose, I hope you have the opportunity to thank those people in your life, and to toast them with something delicious. Cheers!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Alissa Leenher</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>SAHMmelier</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Trentodoc</strong>&nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> It&#39;s hard to go wrong with fine, sparkling wine as a pairing for festive holiday meals. When made with a good backbone of minerality and acidity, sparklers pair with a wide variety of foods. One excellent source for such wines is Trentodoc, a DOC appellation located in Italy&#39;s Trentino region. Trentodoc wines are made using the traditional methods and grapes of the Champagne region, but with the added benefit of the high elevation of the Dolomites to add a special edge. That elevation causes night time temperatures to drop significantly from the day, creating that diurnal variation that is so important to creating complexity in wines. If you love quality sparking Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, you need to investigate the producers of Trentodoc. A great place to start is with the Endrizzi familiy, one of the region top producers.&nbsp;<strong>2011 Endrizzi Brut Riserva Pian Castello Trento DOC 13.5% $24:&nbsp;</strong>There is a lovely freshness at first on the nose with green apples and pear aromas, and a pure mineral undertone. In addition, there are deeper notes of subtle peach and bread dough, and a pretty layer of white flowers. The palate is energetic and mouthwatering with more green apple, some nectarine, honeysuckle, plenty of mineral support and fresh acidity. Complex and solid with plenty of character to accompany a meal. Produced from the single vineyard of Pian Castello. 60% Chardonnay / 40% Pinot Noir 92 Pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Bob Fyke</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Brunello Bob&#39;s World of Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Lemberger</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Since this is America&rsquo;s Thanksgiving, I would like to recommend a wine from the US - and since I live in New York City, I need to share the NY State love by recommending the Fox Run Vineyards 2014 Lemberger red wine. You can buy these wines directly from their website and they are able to ship directly to 29 states. Among wine nerds, Lemberger is actually more widely known as Blaufr&auml;nkisch, a grape variety from Austria, but since the Finger Lakes wine producers in NY thought Blaufr&auml;nkisch was too hard to pronounce, they decided that the German name for the same variety, Lemberger, was a better choice. Funny enough, they had initial problems with people in the US confusing the name with the stinky cheese, Limburger, but Fox Run Vineyards now says that it is no longer an issue with the younger generations of wine drinkers. In my opinion, Fox Run Vineyards makes one of the better Lemberger wines in the area as it can be a simplistic wine if not made in the right hands. Their 2014 has a nice peppery nose with moderate weight, lots of black cherry and bright cranberry flavors that will go nicely with Turkey, mashed potatoes and classic Turkey stuffing. It is a good &quot;compromise wine&quot; that pleases those who like a light bodied wine as well as those that like something a little heartier. The more senior members at the table will get a giggle at the &ldquo;Lemberger&rdquo; name while the younger, cool kids will be impressed with the Austrian Blaufr&auml;nkisch connection - and you will be directly supporting a small American wine producer... all for $21 bucks. Happy Thanksgiving!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cathrine Todd</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dame Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Syrah</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I recently hosted a small impromptu blind tasting of some Syrah. The 2013 estate-grown selection from Fields Family Wines was the prettiest girl in the lineup. Everyone concluded it would be a great addition to any dinner table. But with Thanksgiving on the horizon, I thought it would be an ideal pick for Thanksgiving fare &ndash; particularly dark meat turkey, casseroles, and root vegetables. This Syrah is quite a charmer, offering aromas and flavors redolent of dark cherries and macerated raspberries with an underpinning of cracked pepper, gunflint, and perfumed notes of violets. In the mouth, the wine is just lovely: it&rsquo;s medium-bodied and fresh with a bright personality and a certain feminine flare. There&rsquo;s a nice pop of energy from the first sip through the finish. Fields Family Wine is a small-production, family-run operation in Lodi, California. For this reason, you probably won&rsquo;t find this wine at your local grocer or shop. The best way to get this wine is through the website. You can also give the tasting room a call Thursday thru Monday from 11am to 5pm PST at 209-327-6306. It&rsquo;s priced at $24 and approximately 8 barrels were produced. Have a great Thanksgiving Day feast and holiday season!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Dezel Quillen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>My Vine Spot</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pinot Noir</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Boeger Winery is not your typical winery. A former homestead winery, farm, and distillery dating back to the late 1800s, the 82-acre, Placerville, California, estate was purchased in 1972 by Greg and Sue Boeger, and became El Dorado County&rsquo;s first post-Prohibition winery. Nearly 45 years later, Boeger is truly a family affair, with Greg, Sue, son Justin, and daughter Lexi managing all aspects of the business. The winery is primarily known for its award-winning Italian and Bordeaux-style varietal wines. When one thinks of pinot noir, El Dorado County does not typically come to mind. However, being the experimental pioneer that he is, Greg Boeger decided to give it a try, and thank goodness for us, he did. The five clones of pinot noir in the 2014 Pinot Grande Pinot Noir Reserve, El Dorado ($25), are sourced from Boeger&rsquo;s personal vineyard located at 2,900 feet in elevation, and aptly named after the nearby Pino Grande wood mill. A five-day cold soak renders this clear garnet, medium-bodied wine powerfully aromatic. On the palate, intense fruit flavors of cherry and cranberry are cradled by oak influences such as baking spices, cinnamon, and smoke. I originally tasted this wine with salmon, but I imagine pairing this wine with a hearty, traditional holiday meal, such as roasted turkey, sausage stuffing, creamy potatoes, and homemade cranberry sauce.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Elizabeth Smith</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Traveling Wine Chick</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Petit Manseng</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pinot Noir. Riesling. Gamay. Cabernet Franc. Champagne and sparkling wine. Each have been staples at our annual Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family for years. &nbsp;Wines made Petit Manseng, a small, thick-skinned grape most commonly associated with the Juran&ccedil;on region of southwestern France, are a new and permanent addition to our holiday dinner wine list. Largely unknown to much of the wine world, Petit Manseng is thriving in Virginia vineyards. The small berries, loose-clusters, and high acid levels are appealing to an increasing number of Virginia winegrowers. Consumers love the range of styles, from bone dry to off dry to unctuous sweet, and the versatility with food. <strong>Horton Vineyards 2015 Petit Manseng, $25:&nbsp;</strong>A delicious and versatile wine perfect for a range of holiday dishes made from some of the oldest Petit Manseng wines in the state. Bright golden color in the glass, this wine offers aromas of pineapple, toasted hazelnuts, lemon, and hints of honey. Rich and dry, flavors of honey, grilled pineapple, and mango with racy acidity, a hallmark of Virginia&rsquo;s expression of Petit Manseng. Petit Manseng ages beautifully, so look for older vintages from Horton. A number of other notable Virginia producers like Jeff White and Glen Manor Vineyards, Michael Shaps of Shaps Wineworks, Jim Dolphin of Delaplane Cellars, and Matthew Meyer of Williamsburg Winery, are producing excellent varietal Petit Manseng wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Frank Morgan</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Drink What YOU Like</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Zinfandel</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Thanksgiving is the most American of Holidays. Zinfandel, the most American of grape varieties is my choice to serve alongside the bounty that adorns the traditional Thanksgiving table. It&rsquo;s supremely important however to choose your Zinfandel wisely. In this instance you want a classic Zinfandel that&rsquo;s made in a proportionate style. It&rsquo;ll be loaded with plenty of eager fruit flavors that will play well alongside Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and all the rest. Avoid big, overly jam-laden Zinfandels that are more like cocktails than wine. Dry Creek Valley is the region with the largest concentration of great Zinfandel in the world; pick your Thanksgiving Zinfandel from their abundance of Family producers.&nbsp;<strong>Puccioni 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel ($30):&nbsp;</strong>The heart of their Estate Vineyard is vines with more than 100 years of age on them. Puccioni is a genuinely boutique winery that is family owned and run. They produce just a few hundred cases each of two wines, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah, both outstanding. Each vintage these wines (which were always delicious) have been getting better and better, the 2013 offerings continues that upward trend. Ripe black cherry and an abundance of spices dot the welcoming nose. The juicy palate shows off oodles of deep, dark flavors such as blackberry and black raspberry. Black pepper and wisps of black olive are present as well. All of those flavors continue on the lingering finish along with a dusting of dark chocolate. Well integrated tannins and firm acid provide terrific structure. This succulent, hard to resist Zinfandel is delicious now but don&rsquo;t hesitate to lay it down for a decade. If you want to know what real Zinfandel tastes like, look no further than this beauty from Puccioni winemaker Glenn Proctor.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Gabe Sasso</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Gabe&rsquo;s View</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Sauvignon Blanc</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Choosing wines to serve with a Thanksgiving feast is frequently over-thought. To do it right, all you need: a lot of different foods, a lot of different wines, and a lot of different people. I have a massive extended family, and we rent out a firehouse for our Thanksgiving gathering, so I frequently open up a case of white wines (Rieslings, white Rhone blends, etc.). A refreshing, bright Sauvignon Blanc is always among them &mdash; tangy, zesty, citrus and herb-infused Sauv Blanc goes well with all sorts of salads, appetizers, even turkey and stuffing. One of the most reliable producers of delicious Virginia Sauvignon Blanc is Stinson Vineyards. Their 2015 Sauv Blanc ($25) is delicious, vibrant, full of apples and peaches and topped in sea salt and mountain stream mineral goodness. Pour a glass, fill up your plate with a little of everything, and enjoy!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Isaac James Baker</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Reading, Writing &amp; Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Gamay Noir</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Maison B. Perraud Fleurie is a fantastic bottle of Gamay Noir to grace your Thanksgiving meal--bold, elegant and lyrical and binds together a great diversity of foods that you may serve at your table: Roasted turkey, pork, mushroom room gravy and stuffing. It is hard to find a bottle that pairs so many foods together and on my table I end up serving tamales (mild not hot--I can&#39;t eat hot food) and Gamay goes quite nicely with a tamale as well.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>James Melendez</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>James the Wine Guy</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pinot Grigio</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I honestly thought I would be writing about a sparkling wine here since I feel that they are the most versatile wines&mdash;they pair wonderfully with just about any type of cuisine. Instead, I have chosen a wine that I never thought I would ever write about in glowing terms: Pinot Grigio. Yes, Pinot Grigio. I have railed against the variety for years now as I find many wines made from the variety to be rather boring at best (and insipid on the other end of the scale). I have gone so far as to turn to beer when I see that the only white option at a party or wedding is Pinot Grigio. Recently, however, I have found a few that are actually quite good sharing a common thread&mdash;they come from Northern Italy, either Alto Adige or Trentino. At the top of my list is the 2015 Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC. Normally, I would eschew wines of this ilk: high production, wide distribution, usually found on the bottom shelf in a supermarket, but I am smitten with this wine. Great fruit, tartness, and considerable depth, I would not hesitate to recommend this wine to anyone. The best and worst part about this wine? The price: $8. Why is that a bad thing? Frankly, people might lump it in with all the other wines in that price range, but they shouldn&rsquo;t, this is a serious wine that you can buy by the case (and I do).<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jeffrey M. Kralik</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>The Drunken Cyclist</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pinot Noir</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Last year, the most popular favorites of my five Thanksgiving Wine selections included a vinho verde, a ros&eacute;, and a cabernet franc! When asked for a single bottle to recommend for Thanksgiving, I prefer to suggest more than one bottle, and much depends on both who is attending the meal and what dishes are being served. But this question is posed to me continually from both the educated wine lovers and non-wine drinkers alike at an alarming rate at this time of year. So to complement Thanksgiving and our uniquely North American turkey, I suggest a gentle American wine that the entire table will adore: Cloudline Cellar&rsquo;s 2014 Pinot Noir from Oregon&rsquo;s Willamette Valley, made by winemaker Veronique Drouhin with expertise and a distinctly classic style. Comprised of 100% pinot noir that is bright ruby red in color, it offers a floral nose with notes of black currants, dried fruit, vegetation and limestone. Dark red raspberry, plum and black cherries dominate the fruit profile. The wine shows wonderful balance, medium complexity and enough body to stand up to savory dark meat and stuffing while boasting enough acidity and tannins to cleanse the palate of tart cranberry sauce and juicy meats to leave the mouth refreshed. Easy to drink by itself, it can pair all day long with food and even with dessert! The wine is feminine and elegant with %13 ABV. This crowd-pleasing beauty is an ideal Thanksgiving selection that lists around $25, and can be found online for as low as $19/bottle. Shows best when slightly chilled before serving, I suggest you pop this in the fridge for ten minutes before opening and sharing at 60˚F/16˚C.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jim van Bergen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>JVB UNCORKED</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Blanc de Noirs</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> When we were prompted to propose a single bottle that would pair with the greatest possible number of traditional Thanksgiving dishes, and be under $30, I immediately thought of Pinot Noir, kind of a classic. But&hellip;.it&rsquo;s been done a million times before, right? Right, but it doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s wrong. So my suggestion is to go with the classic, but with a twist - make it bubbly! And why not serve one that it&rsquo;s unlikely your guests have had. I&rsquo;d suggest hunting down the Mawby Blanc de Noirs from Michigan. This multi-vintage blend is produced from pinot noir grapes from the Leelanau Peninsula, which are hand-harvested and whole-cluster pressed. After fermentation in stainless steel tanks the young wines are blended with older, reserve wines before being bottle fermented and then aged en tirage for a minimum of 24 months before disgorging. With aromas and flavors of almonds, orchard fruit, and yeast,&nbsp; this is sure to be a crowd pleaser. At 0.8% RS, this wine will take you from hors d&rsquo;oeuvres to dessert without skipping a beat. And, at $23, it won&rsquo;t break the bank.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Kovas Palubinskas</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>50 States Of Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <b>Grenache Blanc</b><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Acquiesce Winery 2015 Grenache Blanc from Lodi, CA: A steal at $24, this lovely wine has textures and flavors that will harmonize with a broad selection of Thanksgiving dishes. It&rsquo;s magic with avocado if you start with salad, handles spice well and has a hint of green apple, which is my stuffing&rsquo;s secret ingredient. Sue Tipton, the owner and winemaker at Acquiesce Winery has an amazing gift for pairing food with wine and brings a gourmet sensibility to her wines. Inspired by Rhone varieties, she sourced vines from the famed Ch&acirc;teau de Beaucastel of Ch&acirc;teauneuf du Pape and cultivates them in the rich Lodi soil. Over the summer I had two opportunities to taste through her delicious wines with perfectly matched food and was thrilled to discover wines that paired spectacularly. My favorite is the Grenache Blanc, with its lovely minerality, interesting flavors and texture that holds its own with richer food. It comes in a specially designed and elegant bottle, which will grace your Thanksgiving table. Bring two bottles, one chilled and one for the hostess as a gift. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Liza Swift</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>BrixChicks</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cr&eacute;mant d&#39;Alsace Ros&eacute;</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> In our home I do the lion&rsquo;s share of the cooking for Thanksgiving. I wish I could tell you I&rsquo;ve it under control. You know, a bunch of &ldquo;go-to&rdquo; family favorites that have been tried, tested and found true over the years. I don&rsquo;t. We&rsquo;ve enjoyed a deboned turkey (the family is still talking about it &ndash; not a good thing) that looked like a duck. We&rsquo;ve had deep fried turkey, smoked turkey, and any number of variations of oven-roasted turkey over the years. Candidly, I&rsquo;m not looking forward to the hand-wringing associated with setting the menu. Then, they&rsquo;re the wine. To a lesser degree it&rsquo;s the same &ndash; decisions, decisions &ndash; with one exception. I do have a &ldquo;go-to&rdquo; wine. A sparkling ros&eacute;wine makes it to our Thanksgiving table every year. They&rsquo;re festive. They&rsquo;re fun. They elevate a meal. And they are among the most versatile wines at the table. My current favorite under $20 sparkling ros&eacute; is <strong>Domaine Allimant-Laugner Cr&eacute;mant d&#39;Alsace Ros&eacute;</strong>. Cr&eacute;mant d&#39;Alsace is the French term for traditional-method sparkling wines made outside Champagne. It is France&rsquo;s second-most popular sparkling wine in France (after Champagne). In the case of Cr&eacute;mant d&rsquo;Alsace Ros&eacute;, the law requires it to be 100% Pinot Noir. The Domaine Allimant-Laugner is a pretty copper, salmon color with smallish bubbles and expressive melon, strawberry, citrus cream, and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it&rsquo;s light-bodied and fresh with a delicate frothy mousse and ample strawberry and citrus flavors accented with kisses of white peach and mineral flavors. It&rsquo;s a well-made sparkling ros&eacute; that offers surprising finesse and character for the price.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Martin Redmond</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>ENOFYLZ Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Ros&eacute;</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to celebrate our blessings with family and friends. It is also a day that centers around a complex meal with a wide variety of flavors and textures. Due to the uniqueness of this joyful day and the mosaic nature of the meal it is important to plan wine pairings in advance. More than one wine is required for a successful Thanksgiving food and wine pairing; however, there are a couple of wines diverse enough to weave a common thread through the meal. One such wine is Proven&ccedil;ale ros&eacute;. It is widely known Provence sets the gold standard for ros&eacute;. However, on a recent trip to Provence I made a new and delicious discovery: oak aged ros&eacute;. One such oak aged ros&eacute; that is perfect for brining cohesion to the tapestry of Thanksgiving is 2015 Chateau Bas Le Temple Ros&eacute; Coteaux D&rsquo;Aix en Provence ($20). Crafted of 80% Mouv&egrave;dre and 20% Rolle, this wine offers notes of fresh red berries with soft notes of spice, it is crisp and round on the palate with a depth of richness and texture developed through the time it spent in French oak barrels. A perfectly structured wine with bright acidity and an added complexity that further expands the possibilities of an already food friendly wine. This wine has an aging potential of ten years or more; evolving into a mandarin, caramel, holiday spice, dried fig wine over time. Recommendation: buy a case and enjoy each Thanksgiving with this beautiful ros&eacute; as it evolves over time.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Michelle Williams</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Rockin Red Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cinsault</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Onesta Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault will pair beautifully with your Thanksgiving feast. So much food, only one wine. How is it possible to choose just one wine that will pair with the variety of food on most Thanksgiving tables? Both white and dark meat from the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, yams, veggies, and maybe even the much-maligned Jello salad will be part of our Thanksgiving feast. I want a red wine with the bright fruit flavors of berries, ripe cherries and spice. It must have depth of flavor, but it can&rsquo;t be too ripe. I want the flavors of the wine to support the flavors of the meal not overwhelm them. I want the wine to have a light to medium body, well-integrated tannins and juicy acidity. Palate-cleansing acidity is a must to cut the richness of the meal. This past August I tasted the wine I describe above. I was standing in the ancient Bechthold Vineyard in Lodi, California with a group of wine bloggers. Winemaker Jillian Johnson, barely as tall as some of the Cinsault vines that were planted in 1886 by Joseph Spenker, spoke eloquently about her interpretation of the vineyard through her wines. She succeeds brilliantly with her Onesta Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault. It is bright, flavorful and well balanced. The 2012 vintage is available directly from Onesta or the Lodi Wine &amp; Visitor Center. For $29 per bottle you can taste Lodi wine history and have the perfect glass of wine to complement your Thanksgiving feast. Enjoy!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Nancy Brazil</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pull that Cork</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cinsault</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> It&rsquo;s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is few days away; the California Indian Summer has given way to cooler weather and shorter days. The cooler weather makes me reach for richer red wines more often, and when thinking of what to pair with your Thanksgiving menu, think Cinsault. While the classic pairings of Pinot Noir and Chardnonay are always popular with turkey and ham, the earthy, herbal structure of a Cinsault with it&rsquo;s bright cherry and strawberry mid palate is a great alternative. Cinsault, one of the lesser known French varietals, is probably better known as one of the parents of Pinotage, but it also has a long and storied history here in California&rsquo;s Lodi region. The 130 year Bechtolhd Vineyard has been growing what was once known as&ldquo;Black Malvoisie&rdquo; since 1886, and one of my favorite wines from this vineyard is the <strong>2012 Onesta Cinsault</strong>. With extended maceration and 9 months in neutral oak, this beauty is a berry pie with a topper of pomegranate juice. A lighter style of Cinsault, the delicate wine is luscious and fruit forward, yet full of baking spice and acid. This is the perfect wine to please both a Pinot and a Zin lover., and at $29, is wallet friendly as well. Light enough for white meat, but with enough earth and herbal minerality to stand up to oyster stuffing, this Cinsault is sure to please even the pickiest palate.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Thea Dwelle</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Luscious Lushes Wine Blog</strong></a></p> Wed, 23 Nov 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6864 The Next Era in Italian Wine John Downes <p>I know that Snoothers like to cut their teeth on unusual wine stuff now and again so here goes!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I was in Piemonte in north-west Italy a while ago and spent a couple of days in Alba with Indigenous Langa, a new association of winemakers dedicated to promoting the indigenous grapes of the Langhe region, &ldquo;focussing on Nascetta and Pelaverga&rdquo;, the invitation announced. I have to confess, I&rsquo;d hardly heard of either of them! Nascetta&rsquo;s white whilst Pelaverga is a red wine by the way.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Nascetta&rsquo;s claim to fame is that it&rsquo;s the only white grape native to Langhe, the region that also produces Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy&rsquo;s most famous reds. For my anorak readers, Arneis, the most prolific white Piemontese grape is indigenous to Roero, the region across the River Tanaro, whilst Cortese, the white grape behind the popular Gavi label, hails from the Alessandria vineyards to the east.<br /> Nascetta was Piemonte&rsquo;s premier white grape in the mid 1800&rsquo;s but was not replanted after the devasting phylloxera (the little bug that loves vine roots for starter, main course and dessert) epidemic that swept through Europe in the late 19th century. A few winemakers kept the faith however and replanted small parcels of Nascetta; the foundations of the Indigenous Langa association whose members now promote this traditional variety so enthusiastically.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I tasted a large flight of Nascetta wines in the cellars of the imposing Grinzane Cavour castle outside Alba; some were good, some not so good. The good bottles carried lively acidity and a touch of minerality with nutty citrus aromas and flavours. The best reminded me of Chardonnay from Burgundy&rsquo;s Maconnais vineyards, the very best had me thinking that they would improve with age. For the record the Nascetta producers that collected my highest scores were Cogno, Cellario, San Silvestro and Rivetto.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Before tasting the Pelaverga wine flight, I popped outside for a touch of warm spring sunshine in the castle&rsquo;s courtyard - the views were breathtaking. Hilltop villages with silhouetted castles and churches, steep green vineyard slopes with the snow capped Alps providing a stunning backdrop to one of the most beautiful vineyard regions in the world. Next time you&rsquo;re thinking of a holiday in Italy, don&rsquo;t forget to put Piemonte on your itinerary.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Back to the wines! Pelaverga grapes were first recorded way back in the 1400&rsquo;s and today thrive in the calcerous and sandy marl slopes around the town of Verduna. Like Nascetta however, the vines only occupy small vineyard plots. The wine was known for its aphrodisiac qualities but after a little research I found that this was &lsquo;because of its excellent drinkability&rsquo; &hellip;. Mmmm, let me pour myself a glass and think about that one.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The first thing to strike you about a flight of Pelaverga wines is the light attractive colour, a feature of the grape variety. The aromas and flavours of strawberry, raspberry and spice with friendly tannins backed by crisp acidity are also a characteristic of this easy drinking wine. If you prefer a light red this is for you. The wines that headlined my tasting notes were from the estates of Reverdito, Cantina I Bre and Ascheri.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In a world dominated by Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and their international mates, it&rsquo;s great to see winemakers promoting their local indigenous varieties. So, bravo to the Lads and Lassies of Langhe. Keep your eyes peeled for Nascetta and Pelaverga on a wine shelf near you, they&rsquo;ll definitely keep the wine conversation going for a while.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>John Downes, one of only 350 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=""><strong></strong></a>. Follow him on Twitter <a href=""><strong>@JOHNDOWNESMW</strong></a></em></p> Fri, 11 Nov 2016 00:00:00 -0500 article6860