Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Wed, 24 May 2017 14:10:09 -0400 Wed, 24 May 2017 14:10:09 -0400 Snooth Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Cedar Ridge Distillery:</strong> Jeff Quint, 9th Generation farmer started Cedar Ridge in 2003 with his wife Laurie. The Quint family has been in Iowa since 1881. They came from Germany where a branch of their family has run Weingut Quint since the early 1700&rsquo;s. Cedar Ridge stands as the largest Craft Distiller in the state. They&rsquo;re a true Grain to Glass producer, managing every step pf the process themselves. Their current production is 4 barrels per day with plans to go up to 8 barrels a day over the next couple of years.<br /> I had lunch with Jeff in NYC the other day and we tasted through his current line of Whiskies and talked about his plans for expansion, production methodology and the elusive true meaning of the term &ldquo;craft&rdquo; in the Spirits world. Cedar Ridge&rsquo;s plans for growth are methodical and tied to their ability to do so while maintaining consistent quality as well as being fiscally responsible. There&rsquo;s also an implicit understanding that while they have a long way to go to get there, a true Craft Distillery can only be so big. It was obvious to me that Jeff&rsquo;s expansion plans will always keep him firmly in the Craft world. Currently their largest seller is Bourbon which utilizes quite a bit of their estate corn. However the popularity of their single malt is on an upward trajectory and it seems that will end up as their most popular over time.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Jeff embodies the ideal of what most of us think of when the term Craft Distiller comes to mind. In addition to being quality focused he has also developed a proprietary Solera method for his Single Malt. Cedar Ridge is also a Winery and while the wines are only sold locally they impact the spirits too. The ex-wine, Port and Brandy barrels are used in rotation to age a percentage of the whiskies, adding to their unique and distinctly Cedar Ridge characteristics. Several Brandies, Rum and small batches of Vodka and Gin are also part of their varied portfolio.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I tasted four of their current Whiskies and while I found the Bourbon and Rye enjoyable and well-made it was the Single Malt and Wheat Whiskey that really made me stand up and take notice. My thoughts on them follow.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cedar Ridge Single Malt Whiskey ($48)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Jeff mentioned that when creating the Solera method to make this Whiskey he took a bit of what he learned from visits to The Balvenie and Glenfiddich in Scottland. He was specifically influenced by Balvenie&rsquo;s Double Wood and Glenfiddich&rsquo;s 15 Year old Scotch. From great influence often comes delicious results and that&rsquo;s the case here. This is produced from 100% Malted Barley. There are an abundance of fruit notes on the nose underscored by wisps of vanilla and spice. Toasted pecans, dried cherries and hints of dark chocolate are all evident on the layered palate. The impressively long finish shows off white pepper, chicory and a hint of heat. This Single Malt from Cedar Ridge is of exceptional quality. It&rsquo;s complex and simply delicious; sip it neat.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cedar Ridge Wheat Whiskey ($42)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This offering is produced from 100% Malted White Wheat. Aging took place in barrels with a lighter toast level than average for less impact on this more delicate Whiskey. From the first whiff to the very last sip this is a truly fascinating selection. The nose is fresh, nutty, somewhat floral and just really appealing. Taking an initial sip Grape Nuts cereal came to mind. Oodles of other references to cereal are apparent on really tasty palate that has an inherent lightness on the tongue coupled with elegant depth. Tiny bits of spice are evident on the finish as well as wisps of hazelnut and tangerine rind. You could certainly make some delicious cocktails with this, but I&rsquo;m inclined to drink it neat and enjoy all of the unique aromas and flavors it offers.</p> Tue, 23 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6938 A Journey to the Heart of Rías Baixas Mark Angelillo <p>Have you ever tasted ten wines in sixty minutes? In my experience this is one of the best ways to get a crash course in a grape or region. You&rsquo;ll come away with a wealth of understanding and ready to learn even more. I shared this kind of tasting experience with Advanced Sommelier Jill Zimorski plus several hundred wine writers and wine lovers during our R&iacute;as Baixas Albari&ntilde;o virtual tasting. We tasted a special collection of ten R&iacute;as Baixas Albari&ntilde;o highlighting three of the region&rsquo;s five sub-regions. In the hour-long discussion we unpacked a lot about Albari&ntilde;o, a very old grape variety with Galician roots. Albari&ntilde;o vines once grew wild in Galicia which is a really good indicator of the vines&rsquo; provenance and age. Can you imagine finding wild Albari&ntilde;o growing along the road in lieu of, say, dandelions? Nowadays Albari&ntilde;o is expertly cultivated by some of the best winemakers in the business. Albari&ntilde;o is one of the most sought-after white wines in the United States and a favorite of the somm set thanks to its ripe fruit, mineral freshness, and marine notes. This is a place, and a grape, you&rsquo;ll want to know more about.<br /> <br /><br /> <strong>About R&iacute;as Baixas</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> R&iacute;as Baixas is a bastion of white wines in a country dominated by reds. It is unlike any other wine growing region in Spain. Its northwestern coastal location creates humid conditions which are perfectly suited to the thick-skinned, disease-resistant Albari&ntilde;o grape. The landscape of R&iacute;as Baixas is comprised of ocean inlets called &ldquo;rias&rdquo;. Some say they look like the fingers of a hand. The region&rsquo;s rolling hills, lush greenery, and granitic sandy soils deliver aromatic wines alive with an ocean influence you can&rsquo;t find elsewhere. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Drinking lots of Albari&ntilde;o from R&iacute;as Baixas is a great way to fine-tune your palate. I&rsquo;ve always been struck by the classic peach, apricot, and sea spray notes in these wines, but a keen palate will detect differences between sub-region, vintage, and producer. In this respect R&iacute;as Baixas&nbsp; Albari&ntilde;o is perfect for all types of wine drinkers &ndash; from the most casual to the most serious. It&rsquo;s a delicious drink, but it also can make you think.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Winemakers&nbsp; in R&iacute;as Baixas&nbsp; are dedicated to craft. They individually create wines true to their desires. As a result, no two Albari&ntilde;o will be exactly alike. We tasted ten different interpretations of&nbsp; R&iacute;as Baixas Albari&ntilde;o in three separate flights based on sub-region.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> Flight #1: <strong>Val do Saln&eacute;s</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Val do Saln&eacute;s is known as the birthplace of the Albari&ntilde;o grape. It is the oldest sub-region with the greatest number of wineries.&nbsp; It is also the coolest and the wettest of all sub-regions.&nbsp; A glass from Val do Saln&eacute;s is likely to deliver Albari&ntilde;o in a classic style: stone fruit, apricot, peach, with a touch of wet sand and saline.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href="">Condes de Albarei Albari&ntilde;o Rias Baixas 2015</a>, SRP $15<br /><br /> <a href="">Vionta Albari&ntilde;o Rias Baixas 2015</a>, SRP $15<br /><br /> <a href="">Martin Codax Albari&ntilde;o Rias Baixas 2015</a>, SRP $16.99<br /><br /> <a href="">Pazo Senorans Albari&ntilde;o Rias Baixas 2016</a>, SRP $25<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> Flight #2: <strong>Contado do Tea</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This sub-region is furthest from the coast and therefore quite warm compared to the other sub-regions. Its name translates to &ldquo;The County of Tea&rdquo;, a reference to the river Tea which is a tributary of the Mi&ntilde;o River. Warmer temperatures can make for extra ripe fruit that packs a punch.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href="">Pazo de San Mauro Albari&ntilde;o Rias Baixas 2015</a>, SRP $17<br /><br /> <a href="">Se&ntilde;or&iacute;o de Rubi&oacute;s Robali&ntilde;o Albari&ntilde;o Rias Baixas 2016</a>, SRP $18<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> Flight #3: <strong>O Rosal</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This sub-region rests on the Portuguese border. Warmth is moderated by the nearby coast. Here the vines ring around the Mi&ntilde;o river, and many vineyards are carved out of terraced clearings on south-facing hillsides.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href="">Valminor Albari&ntilde;o Rias Baixas 2015</a>, SRP $18.99<br /><br /> <a href="">Bodegas Terras Gauda Abadia San Campio Albari&ntilde;o Rias Baixas 2015</a>, SRP $19.99<br /><br /> <a href="">Altos de Torona Albari&ntilde;o Sobre Lias Rias Baixas 2015</a>, SPR $14<br /><br /> <a href="">Santiago Ruiz Albari&ntilde;o Rias Baixas 2015</a>, SRP $20<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Get to know more about Albari&ntilde;o from R&iacute;as Baixas. <a href="">Click here to watch the full tasting now!</a></em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Photo: <a href="">R&iacute;as Baixas Wines</a></p> Thu, 18 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6937 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Purus Organic Vodka ($19.99):</strong> This Italian Vodka comes from the Piedmont region. The Sacchetto family has been producing spirits in Italy for almost 70 years. In 1987 they began distilling organic grains. Purus is produced from water originating in the Italian Alps as well as the aforementioned organic grains. In addition to being certified Organic and GMO free the bottle and closure used for Purus are 100% recyclable. Purus is distilled five times and charcoal filtered.<br /> As the name itself indicates there&rsquo;s an inherent purity that runs all the way through this Vodka. Toasted grain, orchard fruit and a tiny hint of vanilla are all evident on the nose. The palate is smooth and refined with an elegance that belies the modest price point. Bits of white fruit are evident and accompanied by subtle spice notes. Limestone and wisps of white peach are in evidence on the above average finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Purus is pretty compelling sipped on its own or over ice. However it&rsquo;s really a nice blending component for cocktails. The very reasonable price point assures you can blend it without guilt. Moscow Mules are about as classic as it gets and I found that using Purus elevated my drink and lent it a lovely purity.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Moscow Mule</strong><br /><br /> 1 1/2 parts Purus vodka<br /><br /> &frac12; part fresh lime juice<br /><br /> 1/4 Part simple syrup<br /><br /> 4 parts Ginger beer<br /><br /> Lime wedges<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pour the vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, ice, and ginger beer in a shaker and shake. Serve in a copper mug or rocks glass and garnish with lime wedges.</p> Tue, 16 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6936 Ribera y Rueda: A Tale of Two Wines Michelle Williams <p>Americans seem to be growing in curiosity about Spain. Numbers indicate Americans traveling to Spain are on the rise each year, while at the same time Spanish restaurants and tapas bars are spreading across the United States. There is even a growing awareness that much like France and Italy, Spain has a number of diverse wine regions with grapes and wine styles unique to each region. Rueda and Ribera del Duero are two such Spanish wine regions that should be on your radar.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /> Rueda and Ribera del Duero are located about an hour north of Madrid, flanking the city of Valladolid, along the Duero River in the Castilla y Le&oacute;n region. Rueda is known for its production of white wines, 85% of which is Verdejo, the most consumed white wine in Spain. Rueda was the first in Castilla y Le&oacute;n to receive DO status, having done so in 1980. Many of the 68 wineries here are small, family owned wineries that embrace the longstanding winemaking traditions of the region while producing a highly aromatic dry white wine that is ideal for the modern palate and global cuisine. The rocky soil, long cold winters and short springs, low average rainfall, large diurnal shifts, and abundance of sun exposure provide an ideal environment for Verdejo, a crisp, mineral driven, aromatic wine with fresh notes of citrus and herbs that wraps the palate in penetrating acidity and rich complexity.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Brahm Callahan, Master Sommelier, Corporate Beverage Director for Himmel Hospitality Group, and Rueda y Ribera Ambassador, shared his thoughts in an email as to why American wine consumers should add Verdejo to their white wine consumption: &ldquo;I keep looking for a reason why these wines wouldn&rsquo;t appeal to the American palate and I have yet to find one. At the most basic they are Pinot Grigio with personality. They are clean, with forward fruit and medium bodied. At their best they are compelling examples of a unique varietal that shows depth and concentration balanced by beautiful weight and distinct minerality. One of the reasons that whites are so popular in Spain is because of the value to quality ratio, and American consumers will find that their money goes really far here.&rdquo; When looking for a crisp Spanish white wine think Verdejo of Rueda. But what about a red wine of equal quality?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Rueda has joined forces with Ribera del Duero to its east to offer the wine consumer the best of both worlds. Felipe Gonzalez-Gordon, US Director of the D.O. Ribera del Duero and D.O. Rueda, explained in an email the philosophy of joint marketing, &ldquo;The US is a very large and competitive market, Ribera and Rueda are relatively small appellations, so combining their marketing efforts made sense. It&#39;s a question of scale and efficiencies. But it also makes sense because they are complementary appellation that are geographically very close. Ribera does red wines (from Tempranillo) almost exclusively and Rueda does white (from Verdejo). Additionally there are a number of companies that operate in both appellations.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Ribera del Duero is known for Tempranillo. A land of extremes, Ribera del Duero experiences summertime temperatures reaching 100 degrees plus with long absences of rain, followed by winters where temperatures can plummet below zero. The diverse landscape, carved by the Duero River, is a collection of riverbanks, rolling hills, and high valleys that provide ideal sun exposure. Winemaking in Ribera del Duero dates back 2,000 years; however, it really began to take shape in 1982 when it received DO status. There are approximately 1,200 brands of wine produced here, ranging in classification from young reds to grand reserve, each an expression of the unique terroir of Ribera del Duero and the winemakers style.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Ribera del Duero offers its own unique clone of Tempranillo, called Tinto Fino. Brahm Callahan explains the difference between the Tempranillo of Ribera del Duero and Rioja, &ldquo;I wouldn&rsquo;t say it is Ribera instead of Rioja because while they are both technically based on Tempranillo the difference in clones (Tinto Fino in Ribera) results in a completely different varietal profile than Tempranillo from Rioja. When you add to that the difference in the climate, soils, and winemaking they really are two different experiences. I find the wines from Ribera to be more full bodied, generally have more lush fruit (as opposed to Rioja where classically the fruit profile is dried), and a more international profile than many of the wines from Rioja. It&rsquo;s because of that lush fruit, dominant oak component, and generally fuller body that I think the wines from Ribera have a very bright future in the US.&rdquo; The Tinto Fino Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero offers another wine option to consider along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chianti, and Barolo.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Felipe Gonzalez-Gordon explains why the American wine consumer should be drinking these two wines, &ldquo;US consumers should know that Ribera del Duero is one of the most highly regarded wine regions in the world, producing wines that will appeal to consumers that like Cabernet Sauvignon, even though the wines are mostly made with Tempranillo. Ribera del Duero is Mecca when it comes to Tempranillo. Regarding Rueda, Verdejo is the number one white wine selling in Spain. It&#39;s crisp, it is fresh, it is flavorful... it&#39;s a wine that will appeal to Pinot Grigio drinkers because it delivers so much more and it will also win the palates of Sauvignon Blanc drinkers because it&#39;s doesn&#39;t not have that greenness to it, it&#39;s got more fruit.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Here are some Verdejos from Rueda and Tempranillos from Ribera del Duero to explore:</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2016 Bodegas Viore Verdejo Rueda</strong></a> ($15): Pale gold with green hues into the glass; medium aromas of green apples and pears, slightly under-ripe tropical fruit, melon, white floral notes, and grassy notes; a pleasing feminine palate with bright fruit and floral notes in a medium body with a penetrating acidity and long, clean finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2016 Jose Pariente Verdejo Rueda</strong></a> ($20): Pale gold with green hues into the glass; pronounced aromas of green fruit, tropical fruit with lots of passion fruit, white floral notes and grassy notes; clean and dry on the palate with a flirt of sweetness as a result of the wine&rsquo;s pH level, round acidity and medium body in a refreshing and pleasing wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2016 Alvarez y Diez Mantel Blanco Verdejo Rueda</strong></a> ($13.99): Pale gold with green hues; pronounced aromatic notes of white flowers, ripe tropical fruit, a touch of grassy and green fruit notes; smooth and creamy texture on the palate with pronounced acidity that adds a pleasing zestiness and depth.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2016 Javier Sanz Verdejo Rueda</strong></a> ($15.99): Pale gold with green hues; pronounced bright aromas of white flowers, tropical fruit, green fruit, and almonds; racy on the palate with pronounced acidity for a lively mouth-feel and long crisp finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2005 Vega Sicilia Unico Gran Reserva Ribera del Duero</strong></a> ($399): One of the world&rsquo;s most iconic wines; it poured a deep garnet with brown rim in the glass; complex pronounced aromas of dried red and black fruit, medicinal notes, dried rose petals, Chinese Five Spice, eucalyptus, dark chocolate covered roasted espresso beans, trailing hint of leather, and vanilla; rich and round on the palate, a wine crafted for age-ability yet was drinking so beautifully, lively with an elegant lift off the palate, rich and full-bodied, wrapping the palate in sensuous velvet, a wine with lots of life remaining as is evident in its long finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Protos Crianza Ribera del Duero</strong></a> ($20): Deep ruby in the glass; pronounced aromas of bright red and black fruit, sweet baking spice, graphite, rose petals, toffee, dried tobacco; integrated tannins balanced with medium+ acidity for an elegant mouth-feel, layers of flavors wrap the palate in a full-body wine with a long, juicy finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> 2014 Real Sitio de Ventosilla &lsquo;Prado Rey Crianza&rsquo; Valdelayegua Vendimia Seleccionada, Ribera del Duero ($14): 95% Tempranillo, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot; Deep ruby in the glass; pronounced aromas of red and black fruits slightly cooked, warm baking spice notes, dried rose petals, balsamic, sweet fresh tobacco, dusty earth, and vanilla; bold on the palate with grippy tannins and medium+ acidity, a long full body wine with a lingering cooked fruit and spice finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Bodegas Conde Neo &lsquo;Neo&rsquo; Ribera del Duero</strong></a> ($12): Deep ruby in the glass; pronounced aromas of ripe dark berries and plums, sweet tobacco leaves, dried herbs including eucalyptus, sweet baking spice notes, and vanilla; juicy on the palate with well-integrated tannins balanced with medium+ acidity for a rich mouth-feel, full body, elegantly long finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2014 Emilio Moro Ribera del Duero</strong></a> ($20): Deep ruby with purple hues in the glass; pronounced aromas of ripe black and red fruits, baking spice and Chinese 5 spice, roasted espresso beans, dried savory herbs, fresh roses, vanilla; rich full body wine with layers of flavors, integrated and balanced tannins and acidity, and a long, juicy fruit finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Felipe Gonzalez-Gordon says it best, &ldquo;Ribera and Rueda have a broad appeal. What&#39;s not to like when noble grapes, ideal growing conditions and passionate winemakers come together? The results can be pretty awesome.&rdquo; He is right! </p> Tue, 16 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6935 Tasting Tommasi: Amarone for the Ages Kristine Jannuzzi <p>Pierangelo Tommasi is the Co-Proprietor and Export Director of Tommasi Viticoltori, a family-owned winery founded by his great-grandfather in 1902 in the heart of Italy&rsquo;s Valpolicella Classico region in the Veneto. He is one of nine members of the fourth generation currently running the family business, which has expanded its holdings to a total of 550 hectares of vineyards across Italy. I recently had the opportunity to taste several vintages of Tommasi&rsquo;s flagship Amarone and their Ca&rsquo; Florian Amarone Riserva at a lunch hosted by Pierangelo at the New York restaurant Olie e Pi&ugrave;.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tommasi was one of the founders of the Amarone Families, an elite association of family-owned wineries created in 2009, which caused something of a telenovela (soap opera) in the Italian wine world. But Pierangelo described its inception as the result of a casual conversation among five friends over lunch. Today the group consists of 12 historic Amarone producers who follow more stringent guidelines than the Consorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella requires for Amarone, he explained, with the goal of ensuring high quality and authenticity in their wines.<br /> Over pizza and pasta, we compared Tommasi&rsquo;s 2007, 2008, and 2009 Amarone with their single vineyard Ca&rsquo; Florian Riserva from those same years, as well as the current 2012 vintage of Amarone. The 2007 Ca&rsquo; Florian had the most finesse, while the power and complexity of the 2009 Riserva suggested great aging potential. Pierangelo said Tommasi has been moving toward producing drier Amarones, thus making them easier to combine with food. He also shared with us the 2011 Brunello di Montalcino and 2011 Colombaiolo Brunello di Montalcino Riserva from their newly acquired property in Tuscany, Podere Casisano. Both were classic and elegant, with the Colombaiolo a bit rounder and more structured. Pierangelo explained that owning a vineyard in Montalcino had been a family dream for nearly 20 years, and that the size and location of Casisano, situated on one of the highest elevations in the town, are an excellent match with the traditional Tommasi winemaking style.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em><a href=""><strong>Kristine Jannuzzi</strong></a> is a food and travel writer based in New York City. She is a frequent contributor to <a href=""><strong>Culture: The Word on Cheese</strong></a>. Follow her on Instagram <a href=""><strong>@nyccheesechick</strong></a>.</em></p> Fri, 12 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6934 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Connacht Brothership Irish-American Whiskey ($39.99)</strong>: Connacht Whiskey Company is run by three American&rsquo;s and an Irishman. When they started the company their goal was to bring the production of Pot Still Whiskey back to the West of Ireland as it had been missing there for a century. Connacht is independently owned and sits just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Given their unique cross culture partnership they decided to celebrate that noteworthy bond by creating a special Whiskey. Robert Cassell, the Master Distiller blends together 10 year old Irish Pot Still Whiskey (52%) and 10 year old American Whiskey (48%). The blend is assembled at New Liberty Distillery in Philadelphia.<br /> In the glass Brothership has a bright yellow hue that shimmers nicely. Baked Golden Delicious apple aromas are joined by a host of spices on the welcoming nose. The palate here is firm and flavorful with apple strudel notes, toasted hazelnut, and oodles of spices in evidence. The finish is above average in length with wisps of chamomile, vanilla bean, and Cr&egrave;me Brulee making their presence felt. While it has some heft it goes down easily and makes it the sort of Whiskey you&rsquo;ll want seconds of.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Brothership is delicious, complex, and engaging sipped neat. However its more than reasonable price-point makes it a fine choice to up the ante on your whiskey based cocktails without busting your budget. With spring here I recommend a recipe that is sure to help cool you down.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Whiskey Lemonade</strong><br /><br /> 2 parts Brothership Whiskey<br /><br /> 6 parts fresh Lemonade<br /><br /> 1 teaspoon of honey<br /><br /> 2 slices of Lemon<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fill a highball glass or Mason jar with ice. Pour in the whiskey, fresh lemonade and honey. Stir vigorously and then put the lemon slices in.</p> Tue, 09 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6932 Nebbiolo Grape News from the Source Alan Tardi <p>News travels very fast in our hyper-digital age&mdash;sometimes too fast. Or maybe it&rsquo;s not so much the speed of communication as the nature of the news itself. Here&rsquo;s an example: In the fall and winter of 2014, articles, tweets and posts began circulating about the disastrous weather in Europe and the toll it was taking on European winegrowing areas. And Barolo was one of them.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Now there was some truth behind the reports: The spring in Piedmont was cool and wet, and the summer wasn&rsquo;t much better. The precipitation continued, causing big problems with peronospora (downy mildew) and frequent incidents of devastating hail. And, while it warmed up in July and August, there were none of those really big bursts of heat that push the vine into a full-throttle growth spurt, accumulating sugar and other components that develop into phenolic complexity as the grapes mature.<br /> Based on these early reports some wrote the vintage off before fermentation was even finished. But not all grapes are created equal. The difficult conditions of 2014 did have a significant impact on early ripening varieties like arneis, dolcetto and (in some cases) barbera. But nebbiolo is not an early-ripening grape, and this made all the difference.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Following a tepid August, summer seemed to arrive in September with dry sunny days and temperatures in the &lsquo;80s. While it was too late to make much of a difference the other varieties, the nebbiolo grapes still had a way to go, and luxuriated in the hot days and cool nights as they coasted to full maturity.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I was there for harvest in late October and was amazed at how beautiful the clusters of nebbiolo looked in spite of everything that had transpired: sugar levels were a bit low but certainly adequate, and the remaining clusters (many growers had passed through the vineyards to remove any that had been damaged by hail or mildew, while others had snipped off the lower tip or the &lsquo;ears&rsquo; at the top to promote ripening) were tightly packed, darkly colored and rot-free.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> We got a first in-depth look at the outcome of 2014 on day 2 of Nebbiolo Prima with a tasting of Barbaresco and Roero. [Because Barbaresco and Roero require a minimum of only two years of aging compared to three for Barolo, they come out a year earlier and act as a sort of early-indicator of what&rsquo;s in store from Barolo.]<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Overall, I was rather impressed as well as pleasantly surprised and relieved. [See tasting notes.] In general, the wines had a darker color with brownish orange highlights, subtle aromas and soft dense palate, moderate fruit and alcohol and supple tannins in the finish. Nothing extraordinary, to be sure, but well balanced, very accessible and quite pleasant indeed.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> All of which augurs well for Barolo 2014. But a word of caution: several winemakers told me that, while the two areas are very close to one another and share the same basic meteorological conditions, Barolo was hit much harder in 2014 than Barbaresco was. Davide Mong&egrave; of Boroli winery in Castiglione Falletto said &ldquo;We&rsquo;re happy with the results so far, but it was a very difficult vintage. It&rsquo;s one of those years where every single choice you make in the vineyard and the winery makes a big and possibly critical difference. You can expect to see a wide range in the results from one winery to the next.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Vintage 2013 was the complete opposite of 2014. Many producers I spoke with characterize it as a classic or even a perfect vintage from a climatic standpoint. &ldquo;Everything in 2013 was just right, that is, within the parameters of normal,&rdquo; said one winemaker. &ldquo;It rained often in the spring but not too much [though farmers had to spray frequently to prevent rot and mildew]. July and August were hot but not excessively so, and it always cooled down at night. Everything ripened fully and right on schedule, with one variety following another.&rdquo; Harvest took place 10-14 days later than usual compared to recent vintages, but this created no real problems; some people even said it reminded them of the olden days when harvest used to take place later than it usually does today.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> But what is good for the grower does not necessarily make for superlative wines. Based on what I tasted at Nebbiolo Prima, as well as a number of others sampled outside the tasting, 2013 Barolos are pleasantly approachable, full-bodied and well-balanced with dark maroon colors, delicate aromas, a solid core of ripe fruit and firm yet supple tannins. Pleasant but a bit lackluster, without the layered aromas, acidic tension and finely chiseled, even initially somewhat overbearing, tannic structure that distinguishes a truly exceptional vintage that not only benefits from time and patience but demands it.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Out of curiosity, I checked back over my tasting notes of Barbaresco 2013 from last year&rsquo;s Nebbiolo Prima and they were quite similar to my impressions of 2013 Barolo. Let&rsquo;s hope this parity of performance also holds true for 2014.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> That I found the 2013 Barolos I tasted pleasant but not stellar should not be taken as a criticism of the wines or a characterization of the 2013 vintage as a poor one. On the contrary. Often the years that get highly praised by critics are the age worthy (and needy) ones that have an exceptionally long threshold of development ahead. But how many people actually buy wine to cellar for 5-8 years or more?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Not every year can, nor should, be the &lsquo;vintage of the century&rsquo; &mdash; or perhaps maybe they are in their own unique way.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> When it comes to wines like Barolo and Barbaresco, every year is different and so is the wine that results from it: some need lots of time to loosen up and show what they&rsquo;ve got while others are immediately approachable; some are big brawny blockbusters with multifarious elements vying for attention, while others are delicate and subdued.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> What&rsquo;s more, it seems that nature likes to mix it up for us so that the fruit-forward readily accessible vintages often come in between the big tannic ones &mdash; recent examples are 2005 between &rsquo;04 and &rsquo;06 and 2000 between &rsquo;99 and &rsquo;01 &mdash; so we have something nice to drink while waiting for the tighter ones to come around. Sometimes there are even pleasant surprises, like the &lsquo;simple&rsquo; 2009 squeezed in between two stellar years that over time developed some star appeal of its own that was not initially apparent.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There are a few useful takeaways from this: When it comes to Barolo and Barbaresco, there are no bad vintages; each year is different and has something different to offer. A good producer will always make good wine, year in year out, making the most of the natural conditions of that particular growing season, perhaps declassifying a cru or riserva to a regular Barolo, or a Barolo to a Langhe Nebbiolo if necessary. And one should never underestimate the slow ripening slow maturing nebbiolo grape, both on the vine and in the bottle: it may &mdash; and often does &mdash; surprise you.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Tasting Notes</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Moccagatta Barbaresco &ldquo;Bric Balin&rdquo; 2014</strong></a>: Dark (yet still transparent) garnet color with a brownish tinge; a subtle whiff of new wood followed by a soft full palate of stewed plums and roasted fig with a touch of balsamic, ending in supple tannins.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Castello di Neive Barbaresco &ldquo;Santo Stefano&rdquo; 2014</strong></a>: Lovely bright red transparency in the glass yield pretty aromas of wild berries, flower petals and fine leather, with nice sour cherry flavors and refreshing acidity in the finish. From the Santo Stefano vineyard Albesani MGA subzone.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Silvano Bolmida Barolo &ldquo;Bussia&rdquo; 2013</strong></a>: Intensely dark ruby red color with nice shine and big aroma of hibiscus, black cherry and Mandarin orange peel with a touch of alcohol. Full-bodied with ripe black cherry, strawberry and black pepper framed by a firm tannic structure. Note: while the classic Bussia area was greatly expanded in 2010 from the Castiglione border all the way up to the village of Monforte, Silvano Bolmida&rsquo;s winery and vineyards are located in the original Bussia Soprana area.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Gemma Barolo Serralunga d&rsquo;Alba 2013</strong></a>: Appealing if slightly muted aromas. Beautifully balanced in the mouth with ripe cherry, pomegranate and dried currant with just a hint of lively acidity, with fairly soft tannins and a moderately long finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Note: Nebbiolo Prima is an annual three-day invitation-only event of recent releases the three nebbiolo-based DOCG wines of the area around Alba in Piedmont: Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero, in both regular and reserve versions. While the townships and geographical mentions are indicated, the names of the wineries are not provided until after the tasting. 310 wines were presented in the 2017 edition.</em></p> Tue, 09 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6931 When your wine grapes get frosty… Nova McCune Cadamatre <p>One only has to look to Burgundy this spring to understand the ramifications of frost damage in vineyards. According to <a href=""><strong>Chris Mercer of Decanter Magazine</strong></a>, it is being called &ldquo;the worst frost for the region in the past 30 years&rdquo;. Frost is among wine growers&rsquo; worst nightmares, the literal overnight death of thousands of fragile, baby shoots which can decimate the vintage. Frost is a common risk to grape growing that occurs worldwide in the spring and late fall. However, there are many different ways to mitigate the risk as well as protect the vines during an event.<br /> There are two different types of frost events; advective frosts and radiation frosts. Typically the type of frost that affects grapevines are radiation frosts which occur due to an inversion layer in the atmosphere where cold air sinks and warm air rises. These generally occur in the spring and fall when the ground temperature is warmer than the air above, the wind is calm, and the nights are clear. These three conditions allow the warm air given off by the earth to rise above the sinking cold air mass which creates the inversion layer. Cold air is denser than warm air so the cold air sinks to the lowest possible area. This is why mild frosts can only impact a few vines in lower areas of the vineyard and not touch others. The physiology of frost damage is interesting because it is not the ice itself that causes damage to the vines but the cold internal temperature of the cells that causes cell membranes to rupture.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This can be particularly harmful in the early stages of growth where the shoots are small and developing. This can lead to stunted shoot growth or loss of apical dominance leading to multiple shoots on the same bud which can lead to a crowded canopy increasing the risk for fungal infections. Developing flower clusters can also be affected which directly results in a loss of crop potential. This was the case in 2011 on the Central Coast of California where up to 50% of the crop was lost during a particularly bad spring frost in mid-May of that year. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> End of season frosts can also be problematic for growers. These hard frosts may occur in the fall before the vineyard has had enough time to fully ripen to the desired level. When killing frosts occur at this time of the year, growers must move quickly to harvest the fruit. This is due to the vines ability to load Potassium into the fruit after severe damage to the leaves which results in a higher pH from to the buffering capacity of Potassium. This imbalance in the chemistry of the wine can cause problems for winemakers since the total acidity (TA) is not affected. This makes adjusting the pH of frost affected fruit very challenging for winemakers without affecting the mouthfeel and acid perception of the resulting wine. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Not all hope is lost however. There are several ways a grower can reduce the risk of frost. The largest impact on frost formation is the site selection itself. If growing in a cool to moderate climate with a known history of frosts during the vine growing season, growers should try to choose a site which is uniformly graded and free of dips and swales which can be frost pockets during the frost season. A slight to moderate slope is advantageous to drain off the cold air away from the vine area. Growers should make sure to allow room in the surrounding vegetation to let cold air continue to drain away and not become trapped with low lying brush or thick tree lines near the vineyard. The Mosel vineyards of Dr. Loosen are quite dramatically sloped, some as steep as 50% or more and this aids in the drainage of the frost forming cold air down to the river level and away from the vines. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Once the vineyard has been established and it has been determined that a frost risk is present there are a few ways that the vineyard can be protected. One of these involve physically protecting the vines through overhead sprinklers. Sprinklers work because the process of water freezing gives off heat. If one thinks back to their high school chemistry class one may recall a concept called the latent heat of freezing. This is when the energy possessed by the liquid water is lost during the process of freezing which in turn protects the tissue the water has frozen around. This method does use quite a bit of water to adequately protect the vines. This may prove prohibitory in areas such as Australia or California where water has become a scarce resource.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Other methods of frost protection involve disrupting the air layers through air movement or environmental heating. Wind or air drain machines are also very popular ways to disrupt the inversion layer but they are expensive to purchase and may only be cost effective in areas of very high value fruit or for larger growers since one fan can provide protection for 5 acres of grapes. Environmental heating is another way growers can reduce their frost risk through the use of smudge pots or tractor mounted heaters. These devices also break up the inversion layer by creating additional heat to move up through the cold air and warm the air around the vines. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Frost can be a very costly issue for grape growers however, through careful site planning and the implementation of appropriate protection measures these risks can be mitigated. Unfortunately nothing can completely eliminate the risk of frost but the techniques above can reduce that risk to some extent, keeping the crop whole and undamaged for wine drinkers to enjoy after harvest. </p> Tue, 02 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6930 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Dos Maderas Luxus Doble Crianza Rum ($180):</strong> When sipping Rum became one of my favorite Spirits Dos Maderas PX 5+5 was one of the selections that made my head turn. That offering which sells for around $40 is one of the best values in Rum offering tons of flavor and visceral enjoyment for the price. So when I found out Dos Maderas was upping their game with a super luxury offering I was really curious to try it and see how it compared to both their 5+5 and also other entries in the luxury rum category.<br /> Luxus is produced from Rum that is distilled in Barbados and Guyana. It spends 10 years there aging in oak. Then it&rsquo;s shipped to the Sherry region of Spain to age for an additional 5 years in ex-Sherry casks.&nbsp; Luxus then undergoes minimal filtration and is bottled by hand. A mere 3,000 bottles will be released each year.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Luxus is best served in Brandy Snifters which help underscore the aromatics. When you pour it the deep, copper-laden color sparkles in the glass. Sticking your nose in reveals an intense potpourri of aromas such as toasted pecan, vanilla, leather and a hint of cocoa. The palate is deep, layered, complex and intense while maintaining great proportion. Roasted nuts, mission fig, dates, and wisps of cholate are all present. The finish is impossibly long with flavors dancing on your tongue well after the last sip is swallowed. Bits of marzipan and continued nut characteristics are present. There&rsquo;s a grace and elegance here that makes Luxus an incredibly sophisticated entry in the sipping Rum category. In terms of quality it compares well to Ambassador, Diplom&aacute;tico&rsquo;s highest end offering as well as the English Harbour Vintage 1981 25 Year Old. If you&rsquo;re looking to try one of the best Rums in the world Dos Maderas Luxus Doble Crianza should be on your short list. If you&rsquo;re already a fan of the brand, treat yourself to their masterpiece for a special occasion.</p> Tue, 02 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6929 Vintage Update: Bordeaux 2015 Michelle Williams <p>Just a few short weeks before Bordeaux En Primeur 2016, I found myself back in Bordeaux to re-taste the 2015 vintage. Bordeaux&rsquo;s 2015 vintage is proving to be quite fascinating. Some are shouting from the rafters that it is the best vintage since 2010, and even possibly 2005, while whispers of trepidation persist in dark corners. Furthermore, the ballyhoo over the price increases is provoking equally mixed responses. With all the chatter, what do wine consumers really need to know about the 2015 Bordeaux vintage?<br /> <strong>What exactly is En Primeur? &nbsp;</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The simplest answer is wine futures. Each spring the Grand Cru Classe chateaux produce barrel samples from the previous year&rsquo;s vintage, in this case 2015. These wines are not ready for market, in fact they won&rsquo;t be released for 1-3 years. Members of the international wine trade descend upon Bordeaux for a week to taste these samples. Upon conclusion a so called &ldquo;buzz&rdquo; is created. Is it a great vintage? Poor vintage? Average? Best in decades? How was the overall en primeur of the vintage received? At this point prices are determined and wine brokers, known as n&eacute;gociants, begin to sell the &ldquo;futures.&rdquo; This process is good for the chateaux because their risk of a poor vintage is spread out by the n&eacute;gociant; meaning a poor vintage still equals profit. Furthermore, the chateaux receives cash before the vintage is ready so they do not have to wait for barrel and bottle aging to profit from each vintage. The n&eacute;gociant is in a tough situation because in order to maintain their allocation they must buy their fully allotted amount in good vintages and in bad. If they chose to not take their full allocation in a poor vintage year they risk losing the allocation in a potentially good vintage year.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>How does Bordeaux&rsquo;s En Primeur affect wine consumers?</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Interestingly, the average American wine consumer seemingly knows little or nothing about En Primeur. If you are an oenophile who seeks to stock your wine cellar with some of the highest quality Bordeaux from the best vintages with little concern of price, chances are you are well aware of En Primeur and have a wine merchant to supply you Bordeaux futures. If you are a wine consumer who enjoys Bordeaux and is constantly seeking a bargain En Primeurs has little to no effect on your wine buying and consumption. There used to be a discount for buying En Primeurs but it has diminished over the years. European wine press and consumers, especially in the UK, seem to be more attentive to En Primeur than their US counterparts. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Bordeaux 2015 vintage</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> In the weeks leading up to En Primeur there was some hype building around the 2015 vintage. As part of my En Primeur experience I attended a lecture on this vintage by Dr. Laurence Geny and Professor Denis Dubourdieu of the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences of Bordeaux University, Oenological Research Unit. They declared the 2015 vintage to be outstanding in terms of both quality and quantity because it met the five conditions established by Bordeaux that are necessary for a great red wine vintage. These conditions are: 1 &amp; 2: early and quick flowering and fruit-set during sufficiently warm and dry weather, ensuring pollination and predisposition towards simultaneous ripening; 3: gradual onset of water stress to slow down and ultimately stop vine growth during veraison; 4: full ripening of various grape varieties due to dry warm weather in August and September; 5: dry and slightly warm weather during harvest resulting in the grapes being picked at optimal ripeness without running the risk of dilution or rot. The last vintage that achieved all five of these conditions was 2005.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In the weeks following En Primeurs the 2015 vintage resulted in high praises for lush, terroir driven right bank wines from Saint &Eacute;milion and Pomerol. Margaux seemingly rebounded with a much talked about performance after years of lackluster wines. Graves was noted not only for some elegantly balanced red wines but also some high performing whites and Sauternes. There was speculation northern M&eacute;doc, an area that received higher rainfall than to its south and the right bank, may pull down the overall esteem for the vintage. Furthermore, there was speculation of a price increase, resulting in overall caution for the vintage.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> At En Primeurs in April, 2016, my personal tasting reflections aligned with the greater assessment. I found the right bank wines from Saint &Eacute;milion and Pomerol lush and elegant, Margaux wines showing very well, and Pessac-Leognan and Graves intriguing. Returning to re-taste the 2015 vintage in March, 2017 at Millesima&rsquo;s Panorama en Primeur Tasting resulted in some further assessments of the overall vintage and specific regions. Overall, I find the 2015 vintage to be living up to its hype. Generally speaking the wines contain the grippy tannins and high acidity to make them cellar worthy, a goal for an exceptional Bordeaux vintage. The wines were well structured, balanced, and showed good fruit and color, all indicators of age-ability. Although Margaux remained a star, truly outshining all the other regions if only slightly, Pomerol moved ahead of Saint &Eacute;milion in terms of structure and balance. While Haut-M&eacute;doc and Pessac-L&eacute;ognan continue to impress, I was surprised by the elegant structure and poise of San Julien and Saint Est&egrave;phe, two regions affected by increased rain levels.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The one looming issue regarding the 2015 vintage is price. 2011 through 2014 vintages of Bordeaux were lackluster, resulting in decreased sales and price drops. 2015 puts Bordeaux back at the front of the line, but they have some sales losses to recover and are hoping 2015 will be an increased revenue vintage as well. Overall the price increase is only 15-20%; however, some regions such as Pessac-L&eacute;ognan are seeing some chateaux increasing their prices as much as 37.5%. Fabrice Bernard, General Director of Millesima, a key wine merchant of Bordeaux and one of the five largest purchasers of En Primeur wines, addressed the price increase in a phone conversation with me. He explained, &ldquo;The 2015 vintage is a combination of the best of &lsquo;09 and &lsquo;10; offering all the characteristics of a classic Bordeaux. Yes, the price is increasing but compared to the best wines of Burgundy, Italy, and Napa Valley, the 2015 Bordeaux vintage is still the best quality for the lowest price.&rdquo; Furthermore, he highlighted Margaux, Pessac-L&eacute;ognan, Saint &Eacute;milion, and San Julien as some of the best sub-regions of the 2015 vintage. I also reached out to Lionel Labat, Bernard Magrez Export Director of Europe, Africa, and the Americas to get his perspective of how the 2015 showed for Magrez&rsquo;s four Bordeaux chateaux. He responded in an email stating, &ldquo;For Bernard Magrez vineyards, 2015 is a great vintage; best since 2009 and 2010. More than that, 2015 is a vintage than might allow us to bring back to Bordeaux the American consumers because we have offered very reasonable prices En Primeurs. Chateau Pape Cl&eacute;ment, Chateau Fombrauge, Chateau La Tour Carnet and Chateau Les Grands Ch&ecirc;nes to name a few are great values on vintage 2015.&rdquo; Mr. Labat&rsquo;s response makes clear, while Bordeaux does hope to profit from the 2015 vintage, they are conscious of controlling the price in hopes of winning back the consumer. If Bernard Magrez&rsquo;s attitude holds true throughout Bordeaux, the 2015 vintage will certainly be something both the consumer and the producers can celebrate!</p> Fri, 28 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6928 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Diplom&aacute;tico Rum Tradition Range: </strong>Venezuela&rsquo;s Diplom&aacute;tico recently launched a couple of new Rums. Planas and Mantuano join the long established Reserva Exclusiva to form the Tradition Range. Last year I visited them in Venezuela. On that trip I toured their distillery and sugar cane fields. I learned that their operation is run sustainably. I met a multitude of people associated with their brand from their CEO to Master Blender Tito Cordero. His dedication to crafting the best Rums possible was clear in his every word. So after I tasted through these two new releases I reached out to Tito with a couple of questions about them. Our dialogue about the new Rums and Diplom&aacute;tico are below as well as my tasting notes on the releases.<br /> <strong>Diplom&aacute;tico Mantuano ($24)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mantuano is a blend of Dark Rums aged up to 8 years. It&rsquo;s intended for use in cocktails and as an entry level sipper.&nbsp; Date and spice notes light up the nose here. The palate, which has a nice weight, features dried dark fruits, toasted nuts, and a host of spices. The lingering finish has depth and complexity that belies its price point. This Rum is drier than a lot in this price range and certainly drier than their flagship Reserva Exclusiva. Some Rum lovers will prefer it for that reason alone. The bottom line is that Diplom&aacute;tico&rsquo;s Mantuano represents an excellent value whether you choose to sip it or blend it.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Diplom&aacute;tico Planas ($29)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Planas is composed of Rums aged up to 6 years. Then its charcoal filtered to remove the color and balance the flavors. Normally I&rsquo;d never think of a White Rum as a sipper, but Planas is different. It has remarkable depth and concentration of flavors. Tropical fruit aromas are joined by bits off white pepper and vanilla on the nose here. The palate has weight, depth and focus that are all exceptional for White Rum. There are bits of toasted hazelnut and spice here alongside a host of tropical fruits. The finish is long and noteworthy. If you&rsquo;re looking to elevate your rum based cocktails, look no further than Planas which is a truly exceptional and head-turning offering from Diplom&aacute;tico.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Q &amp; A with Diplom&aacute;tico Master Blender Toto Cordero:</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Gabe:</strong>&nbsp; Please tell me about the overall thought process behind the launch of these new Rums?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Tito:</strong> Ten years ago, rum was still not taken seriously in the spirits industry, it was considered as a fun, laid-back and not very sophisticated spirit. Today mentalities have evolved and dark spirits lovers have learned to appreciate quality rums like Diplom&aacute;tico, who are recognized among the pioneers of the premium-and-above rum category.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Diplom&aacute;tico has been growing very fast over the past years, since it first started to be exported. Ten years ago it was exclusively sold in its local market, Venezuela, and today is considered as one of the best sipping rums in the world, distributed in over 60 countries. Nevertheless, Diplom&aacute;tico remains a family-owned and 100% Venezuelan business, which allows the brand to be more flexible and adapt to changing environments, and to the evolution of the premium rum segment.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> With the evolution of the rum category and the fast growth of our own brand, we had to rethink our development strategy and what we are looking to achieve on the long term. Our vision is to become the reference in the premium and above rum segment around the world, and to do so we focus on our rum-making tradition and know-how. Therefore, we decided to stop the distribution of two of our rums, Reserva and Blanco, and replace them by two new rums with the aim of reinforcing Diplom&aacute;tico&rsquo;s premium positioning in terms of quality, but also in terms of image, allowing the brand to be easily identified through each SKU.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &nbsp;With Mantuano and Planas joining our flagship rum, Reserva Exclusiva, our new Tradition range is richer and offers different consumption modes for different consumption occasions:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &nbsp;Mantuano is our premium dark mixing rum, aged for up to eight years. Is ideal for mixing in cocktails but will also appeal to those who prefer to drink it neat, and that are looking for a well-balanced and slightly dry rum, compared to Reserva Exclusiva.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Planas is our premium white sipping rum, aged for up to six years and charcoal filtered to obtain its crystal-clear color. Planas is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks, and is a rum that surprises people with its tropical aromas and its incredibly smooth taste.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Of course, Reserva Exclusiva remains our super-premium dark sipping rum, elegant, characterful and complex. Aged for up to twelve years, this rum is better enjoyed neat or on the rocks. It can also be the main ingredient in sophisticated classic cocktails such as Old Fashioned or Sazerac.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Gabe:</strong>&nbsp; What are a few rums you enjoy drinking besides your own and what do you like about them?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Tito:</strong> I tend to prefer rums with body and a great balance, those where you ca easily perceive oak, vanilla and fruity notes. I&rsquo;m more inclined to dry rums that manage to keep a certain smoothness and balanced taste. Some Caribbean rums from Panama and Jamaica, have these particularities and are a good option when looking for sipping rums.&nbsp; Diplom&aacute;tico rums and Venezuelan rums in general, are known for their great body and structure.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Gabe:</strong>&nbsp; For me, The Planas is particularly impressive. Most white rums are not enjoyable sipped neat and lack much structure or character. Tell me about the process in creating a White Rum that is such a good cocktail component and well worth sipping neat at the same time<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Tito:</strong> Diplom&aacute;tico Planas is indeed a rum designed for connoisseurs and rum lovers that are looking for a different and unexpected rum experience. It is well structured, with fruity aromas and a creamy mouth-feel. You can identify notes of wood, vanilla, coffee and chocolate, quite surprising for white sipping rum.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In general, the white rum market is made of products that were created following their local rum legislation, which does not impose a minimum ageing time, so you can call rum a distillate that has only been aged in casks for periods of time going from 6 months to one year maximum. This short ageing process does not allow the development of the rum body or the complexity that only can be obtained with years of aging. The objective of aging rum for many years is to make the spirit reach its optimum maturity and allow the transformation of diverse chemical components that will only occur with time and patience, in addition to ideal climate conditions as humidity and tropical temperatures.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> At Diplom&aacute;tico, our objective is to be a market leader and to innovate continuously in order to offer high quality products for rum lovers and connoisseurs. For that reason, Planas is aged for up to six years and is made of rums distilled in different types of distillation systems, thanks to which we are able to obtain such a rich range of aromas and tastes to be enjoyed by our consumers. Its crystal clear color is obtained thanks to a complex natural charcoal filtration process, prior to bottling, a process that allows us to remove the natural color obtained during the years of aging, and at the same time preserves most of the aromas and flavors developed thought the aging process. Therefore Planas can be enjoyed neat or used as the main ingredient in delicate cocktails.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Gabe:</strong>&nbsp; How does the process for producing Mantuano your new Dark Rum differ from that of Reserva Exclusiva?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Tito:</strong> Overall the elaboration process for both of these rums is the same. The difference lies in the type of rums that are selected to be part of each blend. For Reserva Exclusiva, we use mostly heavy rums aged for up to twelve years that were distilled in copper Pot Stills, the proportion of heavy rums represents about 80%. The other 20% are light and intermediate rums, distilled in continuous columns and a batch kettle system. For Mantuano we select rums that are aged for up to eight years, predominantly light and intermediate rums distilled in columns and batch kettle (60%). For Mantuano we also use heavy rums, distilled in copper pot stills, in a smaller proportion (40%). These blends are designed to find the perfect balance and the ideal aromatic profile for each rum according to the consumption mode. Reserva Exclusiva is our dark sipping rum, to be enjoyed neat or on the rocks, thanks to its complexity and sweet profile. Mantunao is our dark mixing rum, to be enjoyed in cocktails but can also be sipped for those who are looking for dry rum<br /><br /> <br /><br /> In short, to recap with Mantuano and Planas joining our flagship rum, Reserva Exclusiva, our new Tradition range is richer and offers different<br /><br /> consumption modes for different consumption occasions:</p> Tue, 25 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6926 Fire up the barbecue. Zin is in. Gabe Sasso <p>In 1991 the popularity of Zinfandel wasn&rsquo;t a speck of what it is today. Wine lovers either didn&rsquo;t know what it was or didn&rsquo;t understand the grape. Therefore, in 1991, a passionate group of true believers formed ZAP, Zinfandel Advocates and Producers. This group is made up of winemakers and Zinfandel lovers alike. Their mission is to educate the world about the greatness of Zinfandel and help it achieve its rightful place alongside other lauded varieties. ZAP throws an annual event in San Francisco, Zin-Ex, which has become the go-to destination for wine drinkers who love Zinfandel. The three day experience is the largest of its kind dedicated to one grape. I attended the entire three day event this year and found it to be a remarkably well run, focused and fun time for those who worship Zinfandel.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Grand Tasting</strong><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There are four consumer events over three days. One can choose to attend everything, or pick and choose single events that speak to them If you really love Zinfandel and want to taste as many as you&rsquo;ll ever find in one place, this is the weekend-long event you need to attend. More than five hundred Zinfandels are poured by over 100 wineries. Most often the winemakers stand behind the wines and talk about them. Old vintages, current releases and even a few barrel samples are available at this tasting. Local chefs are on hand cooking and dishing out signature dishes aimed to pair with Zin. Over the course of the weekend I sampled an eclectic swath of Zin produced in a wide array of styles. Single vineyards, cuvee offerings, current releases and library selections were all on display. The wide breadth of Zinfandel was there for all attendees to experience. Particularly impressive was how well the older vintages that were poured are holding up. These put the lie to the idea that Zinfandel is meant only for youthful consumption. On the contrary, like all great varieties, Zinfandel grown in the right spot and treated appropriately is indeed age worthy. Here are some of my favorites from the weekend&rsquo;s events.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pedroncelli 2014 Mother Clone Zinfandel</strong></a> ($18)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> One vintage after another Mother Clone is a classic example of Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. Dark fruits and toast lead the nose. The palate shows off bramble and berry fruit along with an underpinning of spices. Continuing berry fruits are joined by bits of dark chocolate and black peppercorn on the solid finish. Firm acid makes this a versatile food wine. Mother Clone continues to be one of the single best values in Zinfandel. Grab a case and make it your house red.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Puccioni Vineyards 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel</strong></a> ($30)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This is genuine old vine Zinfandel from a historic ranch in Dry Creek Valley that&rsquo;s been family owned for more than a century. In the glass this wine is dark, nearly inky. Dark fruit aromas follow along with bits of plum pudding spice. Blackberry, plum and black raspberry flavors are all evident on the juicy, bold, but proportionate palate. Bits of chocolate sauce, black pepper and earth are all evident on the long finish.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Sbragia 2013 Gino&rsquo;s Zinfandel</strong></a> ($34)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The fruit for this wine came from three vineyards within Dry Creek Valley. Red raspberry, vanilla and black pepper notes are all evident on the nose. Cranberry, blackberry and oodles of spice are strewn through the palate with shows depth and complexity while being light on the tongue and quite graceful. Earth pepper and hints of chocolate sauce mark the solid finish. Gino&rsquo;s Zinfandel is a perfect partner for a traditional Italian Sunday Dinner.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Carol Shelton 2014 Rocky&rsquo;s Reserve Zinfandel</strong></a> ($36)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The fruit came from the Florence Vineyard in the Rockpile appellation, way up north in Sonoma County. Bright red berry fruits, hints of toast and wisps of green peppercorn are evident on the nose. Dark plum, blueberry, spices, leather and dark chocolate notes are all evident on the bold but balanced palate. Oodles of spice, hints of mission fig and a touch of vanilla present on the long finish. Racy acid keeps this fresh and lively.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href="" style=""><strong>Peachy Canyon 2014 Bailey Zinfandel</strong></a> ($38)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This Paso Robles Zin is loaded with bramble and peppercorn on the nose. Oodles of red cherry, spice and wisps of black olive are evident on the bold palate. A hint of peach fuzz emerges on the finish along with chicory and earth. If you need a wine to pair with smoked brisket, look no further.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ridge 2014 Lyton Springs</strong></a> ($40)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fruit for this wine came from the namesake Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley. This one is only 67% Zinfandel with Petite Sirah, Carignane, and Mourvedre making up the balance. The bright nose is appealing with cracked black peppercorn, anise and black cherry aromas. The even keeled palate shows off a combination of black and red fruits intermingling. Dusty dark chocolate and wisps of roasted espresso are evident on the lengthy finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Rock Wall 2015 Alegria Vineyard Zinfandel</strong></a> ($45)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The fruit came from Alegria Vineyards in the Russian River Valley. Red and black raspberry aromas are joined by hints of eucalyptus on the welcoming nose. Boysenberry and black cherry lead the charge on the fruit driven and somewhat intense palate. Boysenberry, spice and bits of leather are evident on the finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>ACORN 2014 Heritage Vines Alegr&iacute;a Vineyards</strong></a> ($48)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The fruit comes from their Estate Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. It&rsquo;s a true old school field blend that features 18 varieties. It was planted back in 1890. Black fruit, vanilla and pepper spice are all evident on the nose. The palate is a who&rsquo;s who of dark flavors with blackberry, boysenberry, sweet dark chocolate and more all chipping in. Bits of kirsch liqueur and continuing spice notes round out the lengthy finish. ACORN consistently produces some of the best wines in the Russian River Valley, this Zinfandel is no exception.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Storybook Mountain 2003 Estate Zinfandel</strong></a> (N/A)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> All of the fruit came from their Napa Valley Estate. Vanilla and ripe wild strawberry light up the inviting nose. The still rich and fruity palate features tons of red cherry, continued strawberry and spice. The prodigious finish is earthy and spicy with a dusting of cocoa. At nearly 14 years old this Zinfandel still has plenty of life ahead of it.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ravenswood 2002 Monte Rosso Vineyard Zinfandel</strong></a> (N/A)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A compote of rich berry aromas emerge from the nose. The palate is soft, lush, and eminently approachable. Black cherry notes are in evidence but beginning their descent as secondary and tertiary characteristics such as earth and leather are rising. Black peppercorn and hints of olive tapenade round out the long, elegant finish.</div><br /> </p> Fri, 21 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6925 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Uncle Val&rsquo;s Botanical Gin ($39):</strong> The uncle in questions is that of founder August Sebastiani. He both named and modeled this gin after Uncle Val. The botanicals used (Juniper, Cucumber, Lemon, Sage, Lavender) are what he&rsquo;s said to grow in his garden in Lucca Italy as well as cook with. The packaging nods to the past with a bottle made in Italy that brings to mind Bitters bottles from a couple hundred years ago. The label also evokes history. Another tribute to the past that highlights the small batch nature of this project, each bottle is hand numbered.<br /> I&rsquo;ll be honest, a lot of Gins, many of them really well known, remind me way too much of a Christmas tree; an artificial one to boot. In short that&rsquo;s the beauty of Val&rsquo;s. The aromas and flavors are fresh, natural and remarkably appealing. Sipped neat it&rsquo;s pretty easy to pick out each of the botanicals that were used to create it. The flavors here are vibrant, refreshing and simply alive. There&rsquo;s a firm acidity that keeps things crisp. But let&rsquo;s face it Gin is a spirit that really isn&rsquo;t intended for solo sipping; it is however a killer cocktail component. I played around with a number of different classic drinks, all with pretty tasty results. However the concoction that really excited me the most was this variation on a Negroni. Considering all of the Italian influences in Val&rsquo;s it seems perfectly reasonable to me.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Amaro Negroni</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> 1 Part Uncle Vals Botanical Gin<br /><br /> 1 Part Montenegro Amaro<br /><br /> 3/4 Part Red Vermouth<br /><br /> Orange Twist<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pour the first three ingredients into a shaker over ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks glass. Add one ice cube and garnish with a twist of orange.</p> Tue, 18 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6922 Wine in America, Beyond California Snooth Editorial <p>According to the Wine Institute, in 2015, eighty-three percent of wine from the United States was made from grapes grown in California. Clearly, the world wine stage has welcomed California bottles with opened arms. Wine lovers from around the world clamor for access to California wines. They journey to the state&rsquo;s many celebrated regions with glee as they ship thousands of cases back to their home countries each year. But what about the seventeen percent of wine made from grapes grown outside of California? This seventeen percent makes up a comparatively small but crucial part of the United States economy. This seventeen percent is composed of farmers and business owners who have an indefatigable dedication to wine. Be sure to admire all of the diamonds in the necklace -- not just the biggest one. The web&rsquo;s top wine writers have spoken. Here are their picks for best wine regions in the United States, beyond California.<br /> <strong>Texas</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The stars at night, are big and bright... as is the future of Texas wine. A brief drive west of Austin and you will find yourself deep in the heart of some innovative, passionate winemaking. With each year, comes new challenges and new growth. As our libraries grow in volume, so does the opportunity to find out more about ageability. These wines can age. The varieties that seem to be shining are Mediterranean and Rh&ocirc;ne in origin: Mourvedre, Tempranillo, and Tannat. White stand-outs include Roussanne, Vermentino, Viognier, and Blanc du Bois. Ros&eacute; is gaining ground, not only for the quality of production, but because of its versatile appeal in our warm climate. A few years ago, I attended the Wine bloggers Conference and brought along a few Texas wines. Very few of the people I spoke with had ever had the opportunity to sample one. Most of the highest quality producers are still small, thus the lack of distribution. And yet, the word is getting out. High scores at competitions help; visiting writers are coming away believers. While many of the grapes are grown in the High Plains of Texas, some are estate grown or in nearby vineyards. Many of the High Plains producers can be found in Hill Country tasting rooms. Planning a trip to find out for yourself? Spring offers not only ideal temperatures but wildflower displays that will be sure to leave a lasting impression.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Alissa Leenher</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>SAHMmelier</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mentioning you are from Texas evokes visions of cowboy hats, boots, steers and the inevitable &ldquo;who shot JR reference.&rdquo; &nbsp;For several years, even though I lived in Dallas and wrote under the name Dallas Wine Chick, I felt the Texas wine community had not yet evolved to command the prices and scores that were happening in other parts of the United States. &nbsp;Part of that was because often wineries were promoting varietals that were popular, but didn&rsquo;t necessarily grow well in Texas. &nbsp;Today, Texas has eight AVAs, 350 wines, is American&rsquo;s top five wine producer and the number seven grape producer and there is a new &ldquo;don&rsquo;t mess with Texas wines mantra&rdquo; as wineries are rising to the occasion on realizing the grapes that grow best here and producing award-winning wines sourced from Texas appellation vineyards. I recently opened a bottle of 2011 Calais Cuvee Principale Reserve that I had in my cellar and it was fantastic. &nbsp;Owner and Winemaker Benjamin Calais is a friend of mine and combines his French heritage (born in Calais, France) with his passion for producing Rhone-style wines with 100 percent Texas grapes, makes a lovely Roussanne with notes of apple, tea leaves, almond and a very creamy finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Melanie Ofenloch&nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href="">Dallas Wine Chick</a></strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>New Mexico</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> There are so many terrific wines being produced in states other than California. But if I&#39;m going to talk about an unknown state that I think can use a bit of publicity, I have to pick New Mexico. It may seem odd to think about New Mexico producing high quality wines, but let me throw something even more unbelievable at you: they produce high quality sparkling wine! Yes, sparkling wines that are fresh, with lots of acidity, while giving delicious fruit flavors with an underlining sense of place. Gruet Winery is the one producer that is easily found in various retail stores around the US, and have not only won acclaim from top critics, they are one of my favorite producers making sparkling wine selling under $20 (I especially love their Ros&eacute;). The Gruet family, who has had a Champagne house (Gruet et Fils) since the 1950s, were impressed by the winemakers and their vineyards when they came to New Mexico in the 1980s while traveling through the southwestern part of the US. Their vineyards range from 4200 to 5100 feet in altitude and so the temperatures are moderated enough to be conducive for growing high quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. New Mexico has been growing grapes for more than 400 years since the Spanish Colonists planted mission grapes for the traveling Monks who needed wine for their daily mass. Today, New Mexico has three main viticultural areas, Mesilla Valley, Middle Rio Grande and Mimbres Valley with such grapes as Syrah, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Malvasia doing well in their warm climate. But the Gruet family has shown that the diversity of New Mexico&rsquo;s landscape can go beyond these varieties, and so, it makes one think that perhaps the potential of this wine making state is not yet completely discovered.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cathrine Todd</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dame Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pennsylvania</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> In 2014, I earned my wine certification through, which required me to travel to Philadelphia to sit for the exam. During my trip, one of my classmates convinced me that I need to try Pennsylvania wines, specifically three producers in Chester County, Pennsylvania: Galer Estate, Penns Woods Winery, and Va La Vineyards. Since discovering these three gems, I visit Chester County annually. Galer Estate, owned by vintners Dr. Brad Galer and his wife, renowned local artist, Lele Galer, showcases wines from their estate (home) vineyard and Red Lion Vineyard in Kennett Square, as well as vineyards within a 30-mile radius. Especially notable are winemaker Virginia Mitchell&rsquo;s fruit-forward whites and ros&eacute; such as the Estate Albari&ntilde;o, Red Lion chardonnays, Huntress Vidal Blanc, pinot gris, and ros&eacute; of pinot noir. Their red wines, including the Estate Cabernet Franc, Huntress Red Blend, and Reserve Red Blend are also annual sellouts. Penns Woods Winery, founded by importer and winemaker Gino Razzi in 2004 with his acquisition of the former Smithbridge Winery in Chadds Ford, produced its first wine in 2005, a red blend called Ameritage. Penns Woods crafts a wide range of lovely wines for all palates, including cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, chambourcin, chardonnay, gr&uuml;ner veltliner, merlot, moscato, pinot grigio, riesling, traminette, viognier, a recioto-style wine called Lacrima Dolce, as well as the endearing Ameritage. Va La Vineyards is the dream of winemaker and vintner Anthony Vietri and his family. Instead of taking the easier path and making wine in California where the climate is more favorable, Vietri decided to return home to his family&rsquo;s farm in Avondale, now 6.73 acres planted to vine, which he lovingly calls &ldquo;the little vineyard.&rdquo; Naysayers advised Vietri that &ldquo;nothing good can come of mushroom soil,&rdquo; but he proved them wrong. Today he makes captivating, Italian-style blends, including a white, La Prima Donna, a ros&eacute; called Silk, and two reds named Mahogany and Cedar. Occasionally, he will make other wines dictated by what the vineyard offers, such as Barbera, Castana, and Zafferano.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Elizabeth Smith</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Traveling Wine Chick</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Virginia</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Beyond California (and Washington and Oregon) Virginia is one of the largest and most recognized American wine regions. Not only is Virginia rich with American history, the Commonwealth also has a long history with the grape &mdash; from Act 12 of 1619 that required colonists to plant and tend at least ten grapevines to Thomas Jefferson&rsquo;s well-documented failed attempts with grape growing at Monticello. The modern-day Virginia wine industry started in the mid-1970s when Italian wine producer Gianni Zonin purchased a historic property north of Charlottesville, VA, and founded Barboursville Vineyards. Today, Virginia is home to seven AVAs, over 275 wineries and 330 vineyards with nearly 4,000 acres under vine. The local wine industry contributes $1.37 billion to Virginia&rsquo;s economy and over 8,000 jobs. Virginia boasts a diverse viticultural scene with over 60 grape varieties now being cultivated for wine including well-known vinifera and lesser-known varieties. Cabernet Franc, Petit Manseng, Vidal Blanc, Nebbiolo, Viognier, and Petit Verdot are thriving in vineyards across the state. Grapes like Petit Verdot that are relegated to minor blending status in more notable regions are playing major roles in the Virginia wine industry.&nbsp; There are 261 acres planted to Petit Verdot throughout the state.&nbsp; About 60 wineries currently offer a Petit Verdot. Look to Ingleside Vineyards, Linden Vineyards, Veritas Vineyards, Jefferson Vineyards, and Michael Shaps Wineworks for some of Virginia&rsquo;s top varietal Petit Verdot.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Frank Morgan</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Drink What YOU Like</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Colorado</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Many people I come across are often surprised to learn that all 50 states produce wine. My introduction to the wonderful world of wine started in Virginia. And there are some really fine wines being grown here. Soon after my discovery of Virginia wines, I was trying Riesling from New York; Cabernet Franc from North Carolina; and Viognier from Texas. Over the years, I&rsquo;ve been fortunate enough and curious enough to seek out and try wines from over 30 states. When family members moved to Colorado, I used it as an opportunity to become familiar with the wines of the &ldquo;Centennial State&rdquo; whenever I would visit. Then, as a member of Drink Local Wine, an organization whose sole focus was to highlight and give voice to wines from lesser-known U.S. wine regions, I had an opportunity to become more familiar with the wines of Colorado during our annual conference. I visited the Western Slope, a region approximately four hours west of Denver. This is where most of the state&#39;s wine grapes are grown. Both the Grand Valley AVA and the West Elks AVA are along the Western Slope and have a climate conducive to European grape varieties. The Western Slope has some of the highest vineyards in North America and its low humidity results in low disease pressures. The biggest vineyard challenge Colorado faces is frost, which can be a threat as late as May. For starters, I invite you to check out the crisp, pure, and refreshingly delicious white wines at Stone Cottage Cellars in the West Elks appellation. Their Chardonnay and Gew&uuml;rztraminer are must-haves this warm weather season. In Evergreen, a charming mountain town that&rsquo;s approximately 30 minutes outside of Denver, Creekside Cellars serves up a very nice Viognier and a robust Cabernet Franc; both grown at their vineyard in Palisades, Colorado. Last but not least, put Turquois Mesa Winery Syrah on your radar. Sourced from the Grand Valley AVA and aged in American (Minnesota) oak barrels, this is an interesting wine with a spicy character that&rsquo;s chock full of dark berry fruit, tart cherries, herbal spice and bramble. Colorado has altitude, attitude, amazing scenery, great local food, and wines worthy of your attention.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Dezel Quillen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong></strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>New York</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I&rsquo;ll admit it, I&rsquo;m in love. For more than 20 years I&rsquo;ve had a mad crush on California; thankfully I think she likes me too. The weather is mostly wonderful, I&rsquo;ve forged numerous friendships, and oh they have a bounty of wine. The thing is I cut my wine teeth on California and it took me awhile to consider other wine producing places. When I started exploring the wider world of wine in the mid 90&rsquo;s, it was different countries. However the last few years I&rsquo;ve finally been exploring what other states have going on too, with far more attention than I had prior. Partially due to proximity, but mostly as a result of the range of wonderful wines from a myriad of producers I&rsquo;ve sampled, I&rsquo;m impressed with what New York State has going on. There are four significant growing regions in New York. One of them is Long Island and I just sampled a wine from the Northfork that I feel really strongly about. Macari 2015 Lifeforce Sauvignon Blanc ($28):<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Like many Sauvignon Blanc&rsquo;s that excite my palate, Lifeforce was fermented in a Concrete Egg. Peach and lemon ice aromas leap from the nose. The rich palate exhibits lemon curd, hints of sage, and a bevy of peach and apricot. The memorably long finish is mellifluous, gorgeously layered, and appointed with continued fruit and wisps of white pepper. What impresses most is the texture and mouth-feel of this Sauvignon Blanc. It&rsquo;s layered and rich with a gravitas that begs you back to the glass for sip after sip. If you need proof that exciting things are happening in New York State, try Lifeforce it&rsquo;s world class Sauvignon Blanc.<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>Oregon</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Oregon&rsquo;s Willamette Valley is one of Oregon&rsquo;s great AVA&rsquo;s&nbsp; (established in 1984) and it alone has six sub-appellations which offer tremendous wine from terrain and terroir that could be compared to France and Italy.&nbsp; Coincidentally, all three locations have tremendous wine regions that reside on the same parallel, 45&deg; North latitude. Kevin Zraly calls Oregon &ldquo;The Burgundy of the United States&rdquo;. Over 1,000 wineries reside in Oregon with over 28,000 acres of grapes, predominantly Pinot Noir (more than half) followed by Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Along with the massive popularity in Oregonian wine has followed enotourism, which contributes over $200 million annually to the Oregon economy. If the Willamette Valley isn&rsquo;t considered famous, it&rsquo;s only by those with only believe in centuries-old vineyards, as the wines of the Oregon AVAs speak clearly for themselves in quality and complexity.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jim van Bergen</strong><br /><br /> <strong><a href="">JVB UNCORKED</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Arizona</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A couple of years ago my wife, who had never been, and me visited to the Grand Canyon for her birthday.&nbsp; Aside from the sheer breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon, one of the highlights of the trip for us was Arizona wines. Winemaking in Arizona dates back to the 16th century when missionary Spanish Jesuit priests planted grapevines and made sacramental wine.&nbsp; The modern wine industry in Arizona was set in motion in the 1980&rsquo;s. There are three major regions of vineyards and wineries in Arizona &ndash; Verde Valley, Sonoita and Wilcox (the latter two are also AVAs).&nbsp; Most of the vineyards are in the southeastern portion of the state. There, despite being surrounded by dessert on all sides, you&rsquo;ll find areas in the altitude band between 3,500 to 5,500 feet above sea level where high sunshine levels are tempered by cooler temperatures and pronounced diurnal temperature variations that are well suited to grape growing. In these areas, exemplified by the Sonoita AVA, producers are crafting quality wines from Italian, Spanish and Rhone grape varieties. There now are over 100 wineries, vineyards and cellars throughout Arizona, including urban wineries in Phoenix and Tucson.&nbsp; We tasted at quite a few wineries. Our favorite was Caduceus, located in the quaint, artsy town of Jerome. Caduceus was founded in 2004 by Maynard James Keenan, front man of US rock band Tool.&nbsp; Caduceus produces a diverse range of red, white and ros&eacute; wines.&nbsp; Our favorites were his red and ros&eacute; field blends made from Italian grape varieties, and Kitsun&eacute;, a 100% Sangiovese made in the Brunello style. But there were many others we enjoyed too.&nbsp; While the Arizona wine industry as a whole is in its infancy, it has shown much promise.&nbsp; As its wine industry matures, I expect great things from Arizona wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Martin Redmond</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>ENOFYLZ Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> Wine in Arizona? You bet, and some of it is darn good. I discovered the growing Arizona wine scene in 2010 when I had dinner at FnB Restaurant in Scottsdale which features Arizona wines on their wine list. At the time I had no idea wine was being made in Arizona, but I tasted several that night which made me curious enough to begin exploring Arizona wineries during subsequent trips to the Grand Canyon State. Willcox AVA is Arizona&rsquo;s newest appellation, just officially designated in October 2016, and only the second in Arizona. This scenic region is located in the southeast corner of Arizona, about a hour&rsquo;s drive east of Tucson on Interstate 10. The 526,000-acre AVA includes a relatively flat, closed basin at an elevation of 4100 feet (and above) that is surrounded by mountains. Cold air from the mountains descends into the basin at night bringing a significant diurnal temperature change. The region is arid, but monsoon thunderstorms can bring heavy rain between mid-July and mid-September. Soils are predominately loams and the first vineyards were planted in the area in the 1980s. For years winegrapes grown in Willcox have been used by winemakers in the Sonoita AVA, Arizona&rsquo;s first appellation and next-door neighbor to Willcox, and in the Verde Valley 100 miles north of Phoenix. Willcox AVA is home to 21 commercial vineyards and 18 wineries. You will find many Rh&ocirc;ne, Italian, Spanish and even a few Bordeaux varieties made as varietal wines and blends. Both can be compelling. Look for wines from Sand Reckoner, Pillsbury Wine Company, Carlson Creek Winery, Aridus Wine Company, Flying Leap Vineyards and Lawrence Dunham Vineyards. If you visit the area, by all means, spend time in the charming railroad town of Willcox.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Nancy Brazil</strong><br /><br /> <strong>Pull That Cork<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Idaho</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Looking for a wine adventure?&nbsp; Try Wines from Idaho.&nbsp; The&nbsp;Snake&nbsp;River&nbsp;Valley AVA is one distinguished by high elevation, natural coolness and interesting soil types.&nbsp; On a trip to Boise (BOI-see), I visited Bodovino a great wine bar and was able to try several Idaho wines.&nbsp; My favorite producer is Split Rail.&nbsp; Their&nbsp;<strong>2016</strong>&nbsp;<strong>Split Rail Gerfuffled P&eacute;tillant Natural&nbsp;</strong>is a wine that is naturally sparkling, as it is bottled during fermentation.&nbsp; The bubbles come in as the wine finishes its fermentation in the crown capped bottle.&nbsp; Not starting with a finished wine makes the process unpredictable and surprising.&nbsp; The Split Rail folks blend Gerw&uuml;rtztraminer and Riesling from the&nbsp;Snake&nbsp;RiverValley. This P&eacute;tillant Natural, or P&eacute;t Nat for short, leaps out of the bottle.&nbsp; Literally.&nbsp; The winemaker includes a warning with each shipment to Open Carefully with a vessel standing by to catch the spewing wine.&nbsp; Gerfuffled&nbsp;<strong>&nbsp;P&eacute;t- Nat</strong>&nbsp;is redolent with tropical aromas and laced with elderflower, tangerine, yellow guava and a subtle yeastiness.&nbsp; Looking more like pear nectar than champagne, its densely golden cloudiness holds refreshing acidity, interesting texture and lush flavors with a long elderflower finish.&nbsp; Giggles in a bottle.&nbsp; Although the edgy Biker Chick Bunny on the label looks as ready to shank you, as offer you a ride.&nbsp; She may aim closer to infamy than fame, but this fun Idaho wine delivers on the allure of off the beaten track.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Liza Swift<br /><br /> <a href="">BrixChix</a></strong><br /><br /> </p> Fri, 14 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6924 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p>Blue Nectar Reposado Special Craft ($60): Sipping Tequila has been on a precipitous rise in the United States over the last decade. Those of us ordering Tequila to drink on its own are far less likely to be tossing it back as a shot. More and more of us are slowly savoring it as we would Scotch, Cognac or other fine, distilled Spirits. And even if we are ordering a cocktail, chances are we want something of quality and substance in there; many will have a specific brand or two in mind. As interest has grown the number of artisan producer has as well. Blue Nectar is a Detroit based company that produces their Tequila&rsquo;s in Jalisco, Mexico the home of blue agave. Currently they have 4 Tequilas in their line and two of them are Reposados. A Reposado can be aged in barrel for up to 364 days; the moment it hits 365 it legally becomes an A&ntilde;ejo.<br /> This Tequila is distilled twice. After that it&rsquo;s aged an average of 7 months in toasted American oak. It&rsquo;s also infused with a bit of agave nectar and essential oils. These additions bring the aroma of agave closer to the forefront than normal. Aromas of mesquite honey, agave and bits of thyme are evident on the nose. The palate is deeply layered, concentrated and elegant. Oodles of spice note are evident alongside roasted chestnuts, marzipan and a pure burst of agave. White pepper and hints of brown sugar are evident on the long, pleasing finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This Reposado from Blue Nectar is perfectly suited for solo sipping, but it will also take your cocktails to the next level. I tried the one below from a recipe on their website and loved it.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Quixote&rsquo;s Nectar</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> 2 parts Blue Nectar Reposado Special Craft<br /><br /> 1 part Aperol<br /><br /> Dash of Fee Bros. Black Walnut bitters or chocolate bitters<br /><br /> In a mixing glass, combine the tequila, Aperol and bitters. Top with ice and stir for 30 seconds. Strain over ice.</p> Wed, 12 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6921 It’s the right time for sweet wine. John Downes <p>I was round at a mate&rsquo;s house recently and he opened a bottle of Vin Santo. I&rsquo;d forgotten how good this Italian sweetie is!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Vin Santo is not so well known and is not cheap but boy, it is good! This unfortified sweet white wine is produced in the vineyards of Pomino, Carmignano, Bolgheri, Chianti Classico and Montepulciano in Italy&rsquo;s picturesque Tuscany region. One sip and you&rsquo;re in heaven!<br /> The wine is a passito, which means that the wine has been made with grapes, (Trebbiano and Malvasia), that have been left to air dry on mats which results, as you can guess, in the grapes becoming raisin-like and sugar packed.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> The grapes are then crushed and put into very small (generally 50 litres) barrels called &lsquo;caratelli&rsquo; together with the &lsquo;madre&rsquo;; a little wine left over from the previous year, which itself contains a tiny quantity of wine from the previous year&hellip;. and so on. After a slow, nay a very slow, fermentation, the juice stays locked in the caratelli for years; 3 to 6 years is not unusual. As time drifts slowly by the colour deepens from lemon to gold to become amber nectar.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> As you&rsquo;ll have worked out, Vin Santo means &lsquo;The Holy Wine&rsquo;, a name that was borne in Italy&rsquo;s northern Trentino region. &ldquo;Hold on&rdquo;, I hear you say, &ldquo;thought you said it was made in Tuscany&rdquo;. Vin Santo is also made in Trentino in the north of Italy and importantly, there are a couple of differences between the &ldquo;V.S&rdquo; sweeties of Tuscany and Trentino. Questions coming to a quiz near you&hellip;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Firstly, the winemakers of Trentino call their wine Vino Santo, (not Vin Santo) and whereas the Tuscans dry their grapes on mats, in Trentino the grapes are generally dried on their bunches left to hang in airy wineries, traditionally until Holy Week, just before Easter. Hence the religious link.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> But be careful, there is very little consistency when it comes to Vin Santo as each winemaker has his or her own way of making this little piece of heaven. It may be sweet, medium sweet or even dry but that said, I&rsquo;ve never tasted a dry one. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Italians love drinking their Vin Santo with cantuccini, those very hard almond biscuits that come in noisy cellophane packets; the amazing combination of Vin Santo&rsquo;s apricot, nut, honey, fig and caramel flavours with the almond infusion will take you right up those shimmering stairs and through the pearly gates.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sweet wines may be losing their popularity but ignore the trend and pull the cork on a bottle of Vin Santo, or Vino Santo, with friends and&hellip;. clock their faces after that first amazing sip.</p> Fri, 07 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6923 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p>Nomad Outland Whisky ($44): There are so many different styles of Whisky coming from a range of countries. Some stylistic choices are common in more than one region, others not so much. One production choice I&rsquo;m often inclined towards is Whisky that is finished in a 2nd set of casks that once contained another spirit, or a wine. Here&rsquo;s a new one from Spanish producer Gonz&aacute;lez Byass that fits into that category.<br /> This Speyside Whisky is blended from more than 30 malt and grain Whisky sources. Primary aging varies from 5 to 8 years for each Whiskey. After blending it spends another 3 years in butts that had previously been soaked in Olorosso Brandy. The Whisky is then shipped to Jerez where it ages an additional 12 months in Casks that previously contained Pedro Xim&eacute;nez. In a very real sense this is the Whisky equivalent of the nature or nurture question. In tasting Nomad it&rsquo;s pretty clear to me that both environments (Scotland and Spain) played significant roles in its development and style.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dates and hints of brown sugar peek out from the nose here. The palate shows off brioche, rum raisin, pecans, and wisps of dark chocolate. Mesquite honey, dried mission figs, and a dusting of cocoa are evident on the finish. The depth, persistence and elegance of this Whisky are really impressive for the price-point. It has the complexity and flavors of some whiskies nearly twice its price.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Gonz&aacute;lez Byass has a long tradition in Spain of producing quality wine, spirits, oil, and vinegar. Nomad Outland Whisky is a worthwhile addition to that respected portfolio. If you&rsquo;re drinking things like The Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask or Glenlivet 15, give Nomad a try, you&rsquo;re likely to be pleased.<br /><br /> </p> Tue, 04 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6920 The Wine Trends Keep Coming Snooth Editorial <p>Snooth is proud to announce yet another successful year at <a href=""><strong>ProWein</strong></a>, the International Trade Fair for Wine and Spirits in D&uuml;sseldorf, Germany. Over 6,500 wine and spirits exhibitors from more than 60 nations presented to 58,500 trade visitors from 130 countries. This convocation of industry players will set the tone for wine drinking trends both present and future. Prior to the event Snooth&rsquo;s Mark Angelillo wrote about some things you may see at ProWein in 2017. <a href=""><strong>Click here to read that article</strong></a>.<br /> ProWein&rsquo;s Champagne Lounge, Organic World (a special presentation of organic wines), Tasting Area by Mundus Vini, and the fizzz Lounge all contributed to the excitement of the event. The vast majority of industry players are feeling positive about the current state of the international wine scene, and this outlook should trickle down to consumers as well.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The next ProWein will be held in D&uuml;sseldorf, Germany from March 18 - 20, 2018. Keep your eyes on Snooth for more information in the coming months.</p> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6919 Ask the Winemaker: Erik Kramer Mark Angelillo <p>Single vineyard Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir are the order of the day at Willamette Valley&rsquo;s acclaimed WillaKenzie Estate. Erik joined the Willakenzie team earlier this year to head up winemaking operations. Enjoy these excerpts from my conversation with Erik.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>MA:</strong> Tell me a little bit about your winemaking history. How did you become a winemaker? &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>EK:</strong> Like many people in the wine industry, it&rsquo;s a second career for me. After college, I worked as a hydrogeologist in the petrochemical industry but became disinterested in the job and wanted to look for something a little more fun and gratifying. So I quit my job, had a premature midlife crisis and fortunately discovered wine as a career while I was doing some soul searching. I didn&rsquo;t know a lot about wine, but did very much enjoy cooking, drinking wine, etc. I wound up taking a job in a tasting room while I was looking for work and started learning more about wine, how fascinating it was, etc. That led me to work my first harvest in the 2000 vintage. My start in the wine industry was in Washington and I interned at a few wineries up there before deciding to go back to school and study viticulture and enology. My wife and I moved to New Zealand in 2003 where I attended Lincoln University to enroll in a postgraduate program that focused on cool-climate winemaking. We lived in New Zealand, where I both studied and worked for about a year and a half. When we came back to the States, my wife and I settled on Oregon&rsquo;s Willamette Valley as the place to build our lives. We have been here since 2004. My wife also left the corporate world a while ago and is now a successful photographer specializing on capturing the wine industry and its people. It&rsquo;s become a lifestyle for us.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>MA:</strong> Can you talk a little bit about how the terroir and climate varies within the Willamette Valley? Where does WillaKenzie fall on this spectrum?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>EK:</strong> The Willamette Valley has some pretty ideal conditions for high quality, cool-climate viticulture. Cool and wet winters provide plenty of moisture for our moderate, dry summers which are somewhat Mediterranean in profile. Most of the soil types across the Willamette Valley have fairly high clay contents, so there is plenty of water holding capacity, leading to dry farming for most winegrowers in the area. There are a few major sub-AVAs in the Valley which include the Yamhill-Carlton district, Dundee Hills, Chehalem Mountains, Ribbon Ridge (Chehalem sub AVA), Eola Amity Hills and McMinnville District. Temperature accumulation and growing conditions vary a bit across the AVAs. The Dundee Hills are the warmest AVA and the Eola-Amity Hills are the coolest. WillaKenzie Estate&rsquo;s largest vineyard is located in the Yamhill Carlton district (not quite as warm as the Dundee Hills) and is situated on well drained, marine sediments called the Willakenzie soil series. We also have another vineyard called Jory Hills that is located in the Dundee Hills AVA and it is situated on volcanically derived soils called the Jory soil series.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>MA:</strong> Can you talk a little bit about WillaKenzie&#39;s current portfolio?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>EK:</strong> WillaKenzie Estate is focused on making exceptional wines from its vineyards in the Yamhill Carlton district and Dundee Hills. Pinot Noir is our predominant varietal and the winery produces both an approachable style of Pinot Noir (our Gisele), a couple of&nbsp; Estate focused blends (Estate Cuvee, Pierre Leon) and several single vineyard wines that reflect the terroir of our world-class vineyards in the Yamhill Carlton and Dundee Hills AVAs. We also produce an exceptional Willamette Valley Pinot Gris using grapes from the WillaKenzie Estate and other high quality vineyards as well as an Estate Chardonnay and Estate Pinot Blanc.<br /><br /> <strong>&nbsp;<br /><br /> MA:</strong> What are your general preferences/thoughts when it comes to oak?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Barrels can be used as great tools to help define wine style and I&rsquo;ve been fortunate to learn a lot about them. Provided they are used in the right manner, they can certainly elevate wine without interfering with a wine&rsquo;s personality. I&rsquo;m a strong believer in aligning cooperage with site, plant material, style, etc. I like barrels that help complete palate shape and add longevity and freshness without leaving a wood signature. The best barrels can amplify a wine&rsquo;s personality and ageability without a taster knowing that wood had a role to play in that wine&rsquo;s development. Barrels take some time to understand and also time to integrate well into wine, so giving barrels the appropriate amount of time they need to have the best possible impact is pretty important. For me, wood and grain selection as well as seasoning are the most important things when it comes to barrel selection. If you are dealing with great wood from the very beginning, it doesn&rsquo;t need too much &lsquo;makeup&rsquo; in the form of heavy toasting to deliver great results. It&rsquo;s also pretty important to understand your style goals as a winemaker when thinking about how best to use barrels.<br /> <strong>MA:</strong> What are you general preferences/thoughts when it comes to yeast strains?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>EK:</strong> You could ask this question to 20 different winemakers and get 20 different answers. To be honest, I look at yeast as a tool to complete a healthy fermentation and it doesn&rsquo;t go much beyond that. I pay attention to yeast strain as a function of previous success with fermentation health, cleanliness and nutrient status of fruit, etc. To me, yeast can have a greater influence on aromatics and palate shape with whites such as Chardonnay than Pinot Noir, so I do have some preferences there. In general, I simply spend a lot more time thinking about vineyards, viticulture and winery trials, managing tannins, picking and pressing decisions, etc.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>MA:</strong> Can you tell us about the most unique wine grape you&rsquo;ve ever used in a varietal wine or a blend?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>EK:</strong> I have experimented a little with Malvasia Bianca in aims of producing a Madiera style wine. It was a cool trial that led to some interesting results, but I won&rsquo;t hang my hat on Madiera any time soon. I&rsquo;m better off sticking with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> I&rsquo;m looking forward to tasting what Erik has in store at WillaKenzi. Here are a few of my favorite current releases:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Gris Yamhill-Carlton 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Bright, creamy and delicate aromas of banana, vanilla bean, light lemon and fresh spice on the nose. Zesty and refreshing on the palate, this shines with leading notes of green apple, lemon and grapefruit notes that soften on the midpalate, leaving behind tropical fruits, sunflower and white blossom notes and a creamy texture that fade slowly. 90 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>WillaKenzie Estate Gisele Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Aromatic, classic Pinot Noir aromas of ripe black cherry and fresh violet petals are clean and warmly inviting. In the mouth this is full, round and plummy with dark fruit notes of black cherry and black currant, an earthy streak running through to the finish where a tart bit of acidity paired with oak spice trails off into warmth.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>WillaKenzie Estate Pierre Leon Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Austere and stately aromas of warm spice, rich mineral earth and black cherry fruit of incredible depth. In the mouth this is harmonious and complex, delivering rich mixed berry and ripe cherry fruit, a constant pull of refreshing acidity and delicate yet firm tannins, the entire experience is settled on a bed of fertile earthiness. Approachable yet refined. 91 pts.</p> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6918 There’s another side to Sangiovese wines. Michelle Williams <p>Sangiovese is touted as the most widely planted grape variety in Italy. It is most frequently associated with Tuscany; being the catalyst for Brunello, Chianti, and Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. However, Sangiovese is as much at home in Romagna as it is in Tuscany. In fact, according to the Consorzio Vini di Romagna, pre-historic evidence suggests Sangiovese seems to be part of the <em>vitis silvestris</em> family, a native of Romagna with traces dating back to the Paleolithic era. Furthermore, Romagna obtained DOC status for its Sangiovese back in 1967. So why does Romagna Sangiovese still lie in Tuscany&rsquo;s shadow?<br /> Although the region of Emilia-Romagna is administratively linked by a conjunction, the two regions are quite distinct culturally as well as viticulturally. Romagna comprises the south-eastern portion of Emilia-Romagna, bordered by Tuscany it extends from the Apennine Mountains to the Adriatic coast. One reason Romagna may not be at the forefront of the wine lovers palate is due to the region&rsquo;s historic production of bulk wine. According to the Consorzio Vini di Romagna, in the late 1990&rsquo;s, the region&rsquo;s vineyards were almost entirely replanted to maintain a higher plant density per hectare compared to the past with Sangiovese clones that had proven to yield better results. The result has been high quality grapes. Furthermore, the Consorzio has invested in studies of the region&rsquo;s twelve hillside sub-zones to better understand the soils, irrigation, topography, and climate, resulting in wines that continue to improve with every vintage.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cristina Geminiani, owner and winemaker of Frattoria Zebrina explains how Sangiovese in Romagna develops different qualities than Sangiovese in Tuscany because &ldquo;the clones of Romagna Sangiovese are more fruit oriented with smoother and more open tannins compared to the Tuscan [clones]. Grown mostly in clay soils, the [grapes] are generally more generous than in Tuscany, and the hills in Romagna are very close to the sea and they are less steep, milder;&nbsp; [resulting in] the fruits usually ripening earlier. [Additionally,] the type of berries are mostly larger: in the winemaking we do shorter skin contacts in order to get wines of more approachable style. In general, we can say that the first aspect that people should appreciate is the friendly character of the wines that shows strictly what is Romagna Sangiovese. The wines reflect the character of the joyful and friendly people of this region!&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Andrea Bonivento, of Podere La Berta, shared a similar sentiment. At a press dinner he explained Romagna Sangiovese is designed to be enjoyed in its youth with great friends, family, and food. He expressed it is a wine meant to contribute to the joy and passion of the occasion but not steal the show; adding enjoyment and depth to the experience without drawing attention away from being in relationship with loved ones and great food.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Vintage improvement was evident at Vini Ad Arte 2017, the preview of the new Romagna Sangiovese vintages. There were many enjoyable wines poured over the course of three days, making it difficult to sort through them all for recommendations. However, seven producers stood out among the group of over 150 wines. As Romagna Sangiovese continues to move into the US market, here are some wines to look for:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The 2015 and 2016 <strong>Villa Papiano</strong> &ldquo;Le Papessse di Papiano&rdquo; Romagna Sangiovese Superiore DOCs were light and elegant, notes of red fruits and violets captured the nose and palate with medicinal notes added to the 2016. I preferred the newer vintages to the 2013 Riserva, which was more tannic, but great with food.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Tre Monti</strong> was a favorite across the board. The 2016 Campo di Mezzo Romagna Sangiovese Superiore DOC was an elegant wine offering red berry notes with pleasing earthiness of damp underbrush and mushrooms. The 2014 Thea Superiore Riserva was smooth on the palate with notes of dried roses and herbs along with a slight medicinal note. Finally the 2013 Petrignone Riserva was well-structured with nice length and body and a pleasing spicy finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Frattoria Zerbina</strong>, one of the leading producers of the region, shined as expected; the 2015 Ceregio&nbsp;Romagna Sangiovese DOC Superiore was an elegant expression of the Romagna terroir. The 2013 Pietramora Romagna Sangiovese DOC Marzeno Riserva overall was one of the best wines of the tasting; elegant and sophisticated, a perfect balance between earthiness and fruit with a well-structured body.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>La Pandolfa Noelia Ricci</strong> in the Predappio sub-region offered some of the most interesting wines. Both the 2015 Il Sangiovese and Godenza Romagna Sangiovese DOC Superiore offered faint Sulphur aromas from their sub-region along with round notes of ripe berries, dried floral and herbal notes, and medicinal notes; they were unique in their expressions yet both elegant and round on the palate. Both wines represent a modern interpretation in their style.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Podere La Berta&rsquo;s</strong> 2012 and 2013 vintages of Olmatello Romagna Sangiovese DOC Riserva were exceptional. Owned by Tuscany&rsquo;s Felsina, the wines of Podere La Berta shined with their rustic notes of red berries and spice balanced with dried roses, herbs, and damp tobacco; wines meant to bring a smile to the face and palate succeed on every level.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Conde</strong> is another modern representation easily agreeable for the wine lover&rsquo;s palate. The 2015 Romagna Sangiovese DOC Superiore is juicy on the palate but still possesses the dried floral and herbal notes, though the tannins were pronounced they were silky and well-integrated. The 2013 Cru Raggio Brusa Romagna Sangiovese DOC Predappio Riserva delivered the same flavor profile but with well integrated tannins that were rich and round on the palate.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Finally, <strong>Frattoria Nicolucci </strong>offered two wines that were a nice balance between traditional style and modern style. Both the 2015 Tre Rocche Romagna Sangiovese DOC Superiore and the 2013 Vigna del Generale Riserva felt young and vibrant. Tre Rocche had dried roses while Vigna del Gernerale brought forth candied violets; however, both wines were herbal with ripe juicy berries, and a nice balance of damp underbrush; two lovely expressions of Romagna Sangiovese.</p> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6917