Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:46:08 -0400 Thu, 22 Jun 2017 17:46:08 -0400 Snooth Wine in the Movies & on TV Snooth Editorial <p>We&#39;ve had a relationship with wine for several millennia and counting. This relationship has been documented in a number of ways, but so much has been lost to the ravages of time. Gaps in history leave wine culture open to interpretation, but with the dawn of modern media things have changed. Whether we like it or not, modern media will help us to understand more about how wine has been consumed during any given era &ndash; including the present. Although we have more ways to document culture these days, it&rsquo;s still our job to draw conclusions. And like wine drinking, it&#39;s a lot of fun. The wine lover&rsquo;s ears are sure to perk up at a wine reference no matter where it appears. The web&rsquo;s top wine writers are sharing their favorite pieces of wine-related media in the hope they will demonstrate to you the ways our collective palate has evolved over this and last century.&nbsp; Do you have a favorite television or movie wine reference? Let us know in the comments.<br /> <strong>Big Bang Theory</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> When it comes to wine on TV, I think of Penny (Kaley Cuoco) on Big Bang Theory. As the &quot;normal&quot; character in a group of nerds, Penny is often seen relaxing with a glass of wine, or three. Unfortunately, the show displays wine in the time worn clich&eacute; of a boozy way to relax and lighten up. The brainy characters are rarely seen with a glass in hand. While Penny is lovable, her wine enjoyment seems stuck back in the 1960&#39;s era of Dean Martin.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Jeff Burrows</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Foodwineclick</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Bottle Shock</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Napa Valley is one of the world&rsquo;s top wine destinations and with 4 million visitors each year, the most popular region in the United States.&nbsp; If there was a single event that can be credited Napa Valley&rsquo;s ascendancy in the world of wine, it was the 1976 &ldquo;Judgment of Paris&rdquo; Tasting. The 2008 movie, Bottle Shock is a charming and entertaining dramatization of events that lead to the blind tasting that matched Chardonnay and Cabernet from California against the best the French had to offer from Burgundy and Bordeaux.&nbsp; When the tasting was done, it was a stunning sweep for the Napa Valley wines,&nbsp; as the French judges gave top honors to the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and Stag&rsquo;s Leap Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon.&nbsp; The primary protagonists in the movie are Jim Barret of the struggling and heavily in debt Chateau Montelena (played by Bill Pullman), and a Steve Spurrier, the British owner of a small wine shop named &ldquo;The Academy of Wine&rdquo; in Paris (played by the recently deceased Alan Rickman)&nbsp; It was Spurrier&rsquo;s idea to sponsor the competition. While the outcome is known to even the most casual wine lover, the director did of fine job of extracting entertainment out of the events that lead to the competition and the competition itself.&nbsp; I especially enjoyed Rickman&rsquo;s subtle comedic performance.&nbsp; At one point in the movie, Barret asks Spurrier, &ldquo;Why do I hate you?&rdquo;, and Spurrier calmly replies &ldquo;Because you think I&rsquo;m an asshole&hellip;actually, I&rsquo;m not an asshole. It&rsquo;s just that I&rsquo;m British, and, well ... you&rsquo;re not.&rdquo;&nbsp; For a compelling account of the event&nbsp; that sent shock waves around the world, check out Judgment of Paris authored by George M. Taber, who&nbsp; was the only reporter present at the mythical 1976 tasting.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Martin Redmond</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>ENOFLYZ Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Casablanca</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> When I think of wine and the movies Champagne and <em>Casablanca </em>immediately come to mind. Since before I was interested in wine, <em>Casablanca </em>has been my favorite classic movie. I watch it once a year. It&rsquo;s a ritual. I first fell in love with the classic fashions of the 1940s. (Who doesn&#39;t love the white jumper over a striped blouse Ilsa wears to the <em>Casablanca </em>police station and later in the market scene or either classy, floor-length outfit Yvonne wears to Rick&#39;s Caf&eacute; Am&eacute;ricain in the evening?) But, as I fell into wine, I began notice the presence of Champagne throughout the movie. A coupe of the bubbly seems to be present at every turn - in Paris when Rick and Ilsa first fall in love &ldquo;Here&rsquo;s looking at you kid,&rdquo; and when Rick and Ilsa plan to leave Paris together &ldquo;Kiss me. Kiss me as if were the last time,&rdquo; the pair have the task of drinking four bottles rather than leave them for the advancing Germans. Champagne is consumed on several occasions at Rick&rsquo;s in Casablanca as well. Major Strasser orders not just Champagne but a 15-year-old, vintage Champagne - a bottle of 1926 Veuve Clicquot on the recommendation of Captain Renault. When Ilsa and her husband, Victor Laszlo, arrive the good Captain orders a bottle of Rick&rsquo;s best champagne for the pair. Later in the movie, Yvonne orders a French 75 and Victor orders Champagne cocktails. There was certainly no shortage of Champagne in French Morocco at the time, in the movie at least. What this says about wine, in the context of this movie, is that if Champagne is available and you could afford to buy it you should do so. And you should drink Champagne at every opportunity, for who could know what tomorrow would bring? Champagne is celebratory and above all so very French. And, of course, so not German. Only in the movies! Here is a link to <em>Casablanca</em>. <strong><a href=""></a></strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Nancy Brazil</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pull That Cork</strong></a><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>@mspullthatcork</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Disclosure</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> It was 1994 and I had just returned from my first ever trip to Napa Valley. Not yet a lawyer, I nevertheless enjoyed films about legal disputes. A Chardonnay as evidence? Now that was a new one. The 1994 movie &ldquo;Disclosure,&rdquo; a flick starring Demi Moore and Michael Douglas, focuses on sexual harassment with a twist: a woman accused of harassing a man.The Seattle-based film is fraught with steamy sex and double entendre. In a scene that later comes back to haunt her, Moore&#39;s character Meredith Johnson says in response to Douglas&#39; Tom Sanders&#39;&nbsp; &quot;the 1991 Pahlmeyer, how did you know about that?&nbsp; I&#39;ve been looking all over for it?&quot; with &quot;Well you know I like all the boys under me to be happy.&quot; The wine, a sought-after Napa Valley Chardonnay, figures prominently as a symbol of power when Johnson counter-sues Sanders for sexual harassment. The case against her turns on how Johnson came to acquire such a hard-to-find bottle of wine in Seattle. Former lawyer and proprietor Jayson Pahlmeyer, contacted after producers fell in love with the wine at Spago, says he was not too keen on relinquishing two of the only 400 cases produced, for the film. He eventually relented and he ended up on Entertainment Tonight in the process. The film is now a bit dated, but vintage after vintage, the Pahlmeyer Napa Valley Chardonnay stands up to the test of time.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Amy Corron-Power</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Another Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>French Kiss</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> In the 1995 romantic comedy, <em>French Kiss</em>, the main character, a career thief named Luc Teyssier (Kevin Kline) meets Kate (Meg Ryan) on a plane to Paris. She is flying there to win back her fianc&eacute; who has fallen in love with a French girl, while he is returning with a grapevine which also hides an expensive necklace he has stolen. He uses Kate to smuggle the vine and the necklace into France, then befriends her so that he can get them back. During their escapades, they made a train stop at his childhood home, where she learns that he is a third-generation vintner who lost his share of the family vineyard in a hand of poker with his brother. During the brief visit, she asks to see his room in the family home. There she discovers a box of herbs that he made in school, herbs that are native to the vineyard and the area. She sips a glass of wine and he asks her to describe it. She attempts a description, but confesses that the description is really about her, not the wine. He tells her that she isn&rsquo;t wrong, that &ldquo;wine is like people&rdquo; in that it absorbs characteristics of the environment, which affect aroma and flavor. He then asks her to smell a few of the herbs in the box and try the wine again. In doing so, he demonstrates to her how these herbal influences are found in the wine she is drinking. During this ah-ha moment, they finally make a real human connection and she kisses him on the cheek as she leaves the room. He takes her to an abandoned vineyard property and shares with her his plan to purchase it someday to make wine. As they make their way back to the train, he promises to help her win back her fianc&eacute; and she reveals to him that she has discovered the necklace which, when sold, will give him enough money to purchase the vineyard he so desperately wants.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Elizabeth Smith</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Traveling Wine Chick</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Game of Thrones</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Game of Thrones guides us through a world where noble houses are fighting a civil war to determine who will be king and a supernatural presence is determined to destroy an entire region. We find ourselves in a world where a teenage female is one of the most fierce leaders and the Queen of Dragons. A world where, if you can&rsquo;t be productive in society, you are sent to the Wall to be a member of the Night&rsquo;s Watch and no matter who you are, someone is devising a plan to kill you in order to move up the social ladder. Although this world may seem a bit implausible, there is the reality of wine and how it is an integral part of society.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &ldquo;Those miserable old sh*&amp;s didn&rsquo;t want you to be human.&rdquo; Ten little words that possess so much meaning. Wine is such a large part of our lives and as Tyrion Lannister suggests, we may not be human without it. Wine has been part of our culture and society for ages. It has been discovered that the Egyptians began making a wine-like substance from red grapes back in 3100 B.C. and since then, it has been a staple in our society. For some, it is an outlet, for others it is a dream. The vision of owning your own vineyard and producing your own wine to share with your friends and family is a passion for a multitude of people.&nbsp; There is something romantically inherent about harvesting grapes from the vine and turning them into wine. The capability to be one with nature and to idly stand by as fermentation naturally turns the juice into wine is idyllic. Knowing that something you produced allows people to be more comfortable with themselves is empowering. Wine allows people to be more comfortable sharing a bit more about themselves. Wine permits you to let your guard down, even if it&rsquo;s just telling a joke. Wine enables you to see the positive side of life and helps you see that life is worth living. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Lori Budd</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Owner/CMO Dracaena Wines</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Gunsmoke/Sanford &amp; Son</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Since I know absolutely zilch about modern television, I&rsquo;m going to take you good folks back several decades. Without a doubt, my two favorite series are <em>Gunsmoke and Sanford &amp; Son</em>. I still find entertainment value in both today. In <em>Gunsmoke</em>, beer and whiskey were routine, though there was the occasional reference to champagne in Miss Kitty&rsquo;s bustling Long Branch Saloon. On the other hand, funnyman Fred Sanford had an enduring love affair with Ripple &ndash; a fortified wine (or shall we say sugar-laced effervescent concoction) produced by E&amp;J Gallo Winery. Ripple was basically a cheap, sweet high. Fred, being the sophisticated junkman that he was, enjoyed making his Ripple fancy by adding champagne. The bubbly could have even been Korbel [California Champagne] for all we know.&nbsp; And there you have it, the ever-popular Sanford signature drink: Champipple! Other than Champipple, wine was brought up in a number of episodes on <em>Sanford &amp; Son</em>. However, when quality wine was mentioned, it was generally a French wine. Keep in mind, the show ran from 1972 thru 1977 when quality wine was thought only to be from France. This was prior to the 1976 <em>Judgment of Paris</em> event where wines from California bested renowned French wines with French judges. A few years later &ndash; 1979 to be exact, David Lett, founder of Eyrie Vineyards, shook up the Wine Olympics (and much of the wine world) in Paris when his 1975 South Block Reserve placed 10th among a long list of Pinot Noirs. Prior to that, Willamette Valley, Oregon, wasn&rsquo;t on anyone&rsquo;s Pinot radar. While other regions (in and out the US) were making headway, France was King. And that&rsquo;s the main takeaway about the wine culture back then. We even see this portrayed in comedies such as <em>Sanford &amp; Son</em>. Aired in 1975, I&rsquo;m reminded of an episode titled The Olympics. The eye of Fred&rsquo;s affection, Donna, has a date with Lou Turner &ndash; a distinguished gentleman, and Fred is just a little bit jealous. Donna tries to calm Fred with one of Lou&rsquo;s wines and that is when the fun starts. The episode in its entirety is hilarious and lasts approximately 30 minutes. If you do not have the time, please advance to 2:22 and check out the short wine exchange. Lou, who some may consider a wine snob, drops a little wine knowledge about Bordeaux and Burgundy, including the term, &lsquo;dee-conted.&rsquo; Enjoy!&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Link to episode: <a href=""></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Dezel Quillen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>My Vine Spot</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>James Bond</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> In the books by Ian Fleming, James Bond was most likely sipping a scotch, but in the movies, most people think of his martini order: &quot;Shaken, not stirred.&quot; Bond did dabble in wine drinking as well, but it was really Champagne that has been the mainstay, generally either to celebrate or seduce. This has been typical of broader culture and remains so today. While various Champagne marques were celebrated, none appeared quite so often as Bollinger. This unpaid product placement is the result of a friendship&nbsp; between the Broccoli-Wilson family (producers of the films) and the Bollinger family, and has endured to this day, even as the actor who portrays Bond has changed.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Kovas Palubinskas</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>50 States Of Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>James Bond</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> The first &quot;grown-up&quot; movies I remember seeing were the Sean Connery James Bond films. My mother was a huge fan of the series, and that affinity was passed on to me very early on. I have since seen each of the Connery 007 incarnations dozens of times (Roger Moore and subsequent Bonds fail to measure up to the original in my view), and some of my favorite scenes are those that involve the ultra cool James ordering, consuming, or otherwise commenting on champagne. In Ian Flemming&#39;s novels, Bond usually opted for Taittinger, but once the MI6 spy hit the screen, his preference shifted to Dom P&eacute;rignon and, more frequently, Bollinger. My favorite quote comes from perhaps my favorite film, Goldfinger (1964). Drinking a few bubbles with Jill Masterson, Jimbo realized that the wine had lost its chill: &quot;My dear girl, there are some things that just aren&#39;t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon &#39;53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That&#39;s as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs!&quot; Apparently at the time (it was a bit before I was born), this was seen as marking the growing generational schism that was about to explode in just a few short years. The older generation saw it as a rebuke to the unsophisticated, uncouth youth of the time. While the younger generation derided their elders as being out of touch. Either way, it was my first exposure to champagne and no doubt plays a role in my love for the wine today.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Jeff Kralik</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>The Drunken Cyclist</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Red Obsession</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Passion vs. power.&nbsp; Red Obsession is a movie that delves into how wine goes from art into collector obsession.&nbsp; The story follows how a great Bordeaux wine becomes a status symbol and phenomenon &ndash; and how wealthy consumers in the Chinese market will do anything or pay any price to own them.&nbsp; The Bordeaux wine transforms from the trials and tribulations of a farmer to a measure of wealth, power and acquisition for the end buyer. Russell Crowe serves as narrator and the story delves into perspectives from the winemakers, wine critics, wine lovers and those who will pay almost anything for a prestige wine and why.&nbsp; It takes the romanticism out of what happens in the vineyards to those who believe &ldquo;whoever dies with the most toys wins.&quot;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Melanie Ofenloch</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dallas Wine Chick</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>The Muppet Movie</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> I need to go old school with The Muppet Movie released in 1979. It contains the first bitter sweet song I experienced &quot;Rainbow Connection&quot; and it was probably the first time I was exposed to wine. The scene is when Kermit and Miss Piggy are having a romantic dinner together and no other then Steve Martin, their their waiter, brings a bottle to the table with Miss Piggy mistaking it for Champagne. But the waiter says it is sparkling muscatel from Idaho with a sneer while he flips off the bottle cap and asks Kermit, &quot;Don&#39;t you want to smell the bottle cap?&quot; It is a hilarious scene based on the poor choice Kermit made for their special dinner. The term muscatel became popular in the United States at the end of prohibition to meet the large demand for wine. It was made by poor clones of Muscat grapes (used normally for table grapes) mixed with sugar and cheap brandy and it was referred to as wino wine. But we have come a long way. Any wine geek would love to have a sparkling muscatel from Idaho with a bottle cap (crown cap). First, Idaho has some fun sparkling wines as another Snooth contributor recently pointed out, second, there are many different clones of Muscat and some are capable of spectacular wine, and third, Champagne uses crown caps (bottle caps) in their production during the second fermentation and lees aging in bottle. And so, it is not such a bad idea to use a crown cap for a sparkling wine that will be drunk on release. This scene really shows how far we have come as a wine knowledgeable country and I&rsquo;m sure there is still a lot out there to be discovered.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>Cathrine Todd</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dame Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> </p> Thu, 22 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6947 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Four Roses Small Batch 50th Anniversary Edition ($150):</strong> Four Roses Bourbon was established in 1888 and has a long and diverse history. They went from being the most popular Whiskey in America to not being available in the US for a period of time. However over the last decade they have made a major comeback in the US. Their portfolio features a trio of regular releases. One of them is their Small Batch Bourbon series. The latest iteration of this has been released to honor Al Young their Senor Brand Ambassador who has been with Four Roses for 50 years. This role is just the latest in his long journey with brand. Previously he has enjoyed time as Distillery manager, and historian among others. In 2010 he even authored a Coffee Table book about the history of Four Roses Bourbon and their return to prominence.<br /> Al Young worked alongside Master Distiller Brent Elliot to choose the blend for his commemorative bottle. Four Roses uses 10 different recipes for their Bourbons. Al &amp; Brent selected 4 of them for this Limited Edition Bottling. 50% was 13 year old OESV, 25% 15 year old OBSK, 20% 12 year old OBSF, and 5% 25 year old OBSV. One of Al&rsquo;s goals in creating the blend was to include an older Bourbon in the mix; after experimenting with different percentages they found that 5% was just right. 10,000 bottles of this offering are being distributed.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Four Roses Small Batch 50th Anniversary Edition has a powerful nose laced with vanilla, toast and chamomile tea. Fresh and dried stone fruits, fig and dates are all evident on the deeply layered and intense palate. The long finish is stuffed with bits of brown sugar, spice notes and a final kiss of heat. Drink this beauty neat or with just a couple drops of water. This unique and limited edition entry in their portfolio is a must have for Bourbon lovers; grab it before it&rsquo;s gone.</p> Tue, 20 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6946 Chenin Blanc Strikes Back Mark Angelillo <p>In case you haven&rsquo;t heard, June 17th is Chenin Blanc Day. And like so many wine lovers, one of the first places I go for great Chenin Blanc is South Africa. While South Africa is considered part of the New World, at this point, the country&rsquo;s vines are quite venerable. The first vintage of South African wine was recorded in 1659. Meanwhile, the first-ever mentions of Chenin Blanc were recorded just under two hundred years earlier in France, 1496 (back when the grape was known as Plant d&rsquo;Anjou). South Africa is a crucial part of Chenin Blanc&rsquo;s heritage. Once known as Steen in South Africa, Chenin Blanc remains the country&rsquo;s most widely planted variety. In fact, there is more Chenin Blanc grown in South Africa than in France. These wines run the gamut from value to premium, so they are well suited to all nights of the week and a wide range of cuisines. In fact, South African Chenin Blanc boasts some of the most terrific values on the market today.<br /> South Africa&rsquo;s stash of old Chenin Blanc vines is a true treasure, and there&rsquo;s a strong movement to ensure they are preserved. You&rsquo;ll want to enjoy these wines for decades to come. The South African interpretation of Chenin Blanc is rife with orchard fruits, a characteristic honeysuckle note, and just a dash of pith that only can be South Africa. Oaked or unoaked, I&rsquo;m relieved to know that South African winemakers are continuing to write this grape&rsquo;s story.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Here are a few of my favorites from a recent blind tasting.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Bloem White Blend Western Cape 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> A blend of Chenin Blanc and Viognier, a combination on the order of PB &amp; J. This has a floral, fleshy and peach driven nose with lemon citrus notes. On the palate this starts out zesty and citrusy with lemon and grapefruit giving way to a burst of green apple and pear fruit before becoming briny with notes of sea spray and a creamy finish. Nice complexity here. <em>90 pts. Avg. Price: $9.99</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Ken Forrester is a renowned name and I&rsquo;ve never been disappointed by any wine in their portfolio. Warm melon and lemon aromas. Citrus notes of grapefruit and lemon in the mouth, this is simple and fruit forward but melts into an earthy, oaky and almost tannic finish. <em>Avg. Price: $10</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Eikeboom Chenin Blanc Western Cape 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>89 pts. Wine Enthusiast</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Twenty-five year old vines, zero oak. Lightly buttered aromas of melon and pear on the nose. A hint of fruit sugar greets the palate with peach and apricot notes, even a touch of pineapple adding some additional fresh fruit flavor before this finishes clean and light with confectioners sugar and green melon. <em>90 pts. $12.99</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Essay Wines White Blend Coastal Region 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Yet another blend, 24% Viognier and 4% Rousanne were added to impart richness, violets, and spice. Floral and oaty aromas of white peach, melon and grapefruit. Clean, light and refreshing on the palate with a burst of acidity, fresh spice, fruit flavors of lemon and lime and a crispy, dry finish of minerality and lime zest. Very pleasant. <em>$12.99</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Xavier Flouret Fynbos Chenin Blanc Stellenbosch 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> These come from 44 year-old bush vines grown 285 meters above sea level. Clean and clear aromas of light peach, melon and steely lime. This has a pleasant creaminess to it with a honeyed note of pear, apple and peach with cool, lime zest and butter notes towards the long finish of aged cheese rind and oak. <em>90 pts. $15.96</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>AA Badenhorst Secateurs Chenin Blanc Swartland 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>90 pts Wine Spectator</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> This is Chenin Blanc with a dash of Palomino (another grape with a long history in the region) plus an unnamed grape to add some mystery. These vines were planted in the late 1960s to mid-1970s. Pleasant golden apple and honey aromas with floral, spiced oak notes and an orange marmalade glaze. Fresh acidity, minerality and lemon zest flavors, muted fruit but present with peach and melon flavors welling up after the mineral notes and finishing clean, fresh and juicy. <em>90 pts. $15.99</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>DeMorgenzon Chenin Blanc Reserve Stellenbosch 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <em>92 points Wine Spectator, 92 Point Wine Enthusiast</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> These grapes come from 43 year-old bush vines planted 820 to 985 feet above sea level just adjacent to False Bay in Stellenbosch. Fresh apricot, apple and soft melon aromas. Buttery and creamy textured on entry, this has a pleasant lemon palate and medium-full body, finishing a bit herbal. <em>$34.99</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> </p> Fri, 16 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6945 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Tequilla Ocho 2016 Puerta del Aire Plata ($50):</strong> Tequilla Ocho Plata is produced exclusively from Agave grown at Puerta del Aire. They&rsquo;re the only Tequila distiller producing Single Estate Tequila&rsquo;s from specific vintages. The village of Arandas where their Estate is located sits more than 6,500 feet above sea level. Puerta del Aire is but one of more than 100 estates the family owns, maintains, and harvests Agave from. They allow their Agave to age 7 years before harvesting. At that age the pi&ntilde;as weigh between 42 and 100 kg. Their distiller Carlos Camarena is a 3rd generation Tequilero. He works alongside Tomas Estes who is the Ambassador of Tequila to the European Union.<br /> <div><br /> Along with a couple of other producers Ocho is participating in a bat friendly pilot estate program. They allow a minimum of 5% of their agave to flower. It takes until the 8th year for Blue Agave to produce these large single blooms. Bats not only need these blooms but they also pollinate roughly 180 types of Agave as well as other plants in Mexico. Once the Agave plant has bloomed it can no longer be used to produce Tequila. So this is a commitment to the environment on their part that supersedes potential dollars lost.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Quite frankly most Blanco or Plata Tequila is relatively uninteresting sipped neat. The vast majority of them are intended for blending into cocktails. Ocho Plata will disabuse you of that notion. This is a delicious, distinct and complex Plata. It&rsquo;s a singular expression with depth to spare. Tangerine zest, savory green herbs, limestone and a hint of banana are all part of the impressive aromatics. The palate is loaded with brown sugar, peppercorn, dates, cinnamon, a dusting of cocoa, and hints of sage. The finish here is long, lush and memorable with the above characteristics reverberating.<br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> You could certainly use Tequilla Ocho 2016 Puerta del Aire Plata to make cocktails. It&rsquo;s a super high quality ingredient that will improve your Tequila based beverage exponentially. However it&rsquo;s such a specific and distinct expression that I believe it demands to be savored on its own. At most I&rsquo;d put a hint of a chill on it. Either way, enjoy this exceptional expression of a Tequila Plata.</div><br /> </p> Tue, 13 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6944 Beaujolais Wine is in Bloom John Downes <p>Some Burgundy winemakers pull their noses up at Beaujolais but, like it or not, these hilly picturesque vineyards just up the road from Macon are an integral part of the illustrious Burgundy region of central France.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Why do some pooh-pooh their neighbour? It has a lot to do with grape varieties; Burgundy&rsquo;s red is the classic Pinot Noir whilst Beaujolais&rsquo; red grape is Gamay. Many see Gamay as the poor relation but as investment pours into Beaujolais, this lesser known variety is producing some super wines. For the record there is a tiny amount of white Beaujolais produced (from Chardonnay under the A.C. Beaujolais and A.C. Beaujolais Villages labels) but it&rsquo;s Beaujolais Rouge that&rsquo;s turning the global head.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> Beaujolais&rsquo; image took a hammering in the past thanks to Beaujolais Nouveau. This once heavily marketed but all too often disappointing wine that was picked in September, made soon after, released in November and had the winemaker&rsquo;s bank accounts bulging by Christmas, has a lot to answer for. Many readers will remember the &lsquo;third Thursday in November&rsquo; when the &lsquo;Beaujolais Est Arrive&rsquo; signs appeared outside local restaurants. Amazingly, at its peak in 1992, Beaujolais Nouveau accounted for more than half of all Beaujolais wine sold.<br /> The consumer eventually saw through Nouveau&rsquo;s lack of quality and sales dropped dramatically. Happily, out of the embers, the wines of Beaujolais are now fighting back to gain the respect they deserve. The &lsquo;cru&rsquo; Beaujolais wines are leading the charge.<br /><br /> &nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> The top &lsquo;cru&rsquo; wines come from the granite schist vineyards of Brouilly, Cote de Brouilly, Morgon, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Julienas, Moulin-a-Vent, Chenas, St. Armour and Regnie, all ten wines being named after their &lsquo;cru&rsquo; villages. Although the &ldquo;Top Ten&rdquo; are generally drunk young, Morgon and Moulin-a-Vent from a good winemaker generally have a little more oouumpph and will reward a few years in your cellar. Fleurie and Julienas are probably the best known labels and therefore carry a premium, especially in restaurants. So, be adventurous and try one of the other cru&rsquo;s and save a few dollars at the same time!<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> If the Beaujolais&rsquo; crus are the flagship wines of Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages are next in the pecking order, these vineyards covering 39 designated schist-granite &lsquo;village&rsquo; plots in the northerly Haut Beaujolais. They stand between the 10 crus and &lsquo;straight&rsquo; Beaujolais and account for about 6000 hectares of vineyard amongst the total Beaujolais vineyard area of 22,000 hectares. As most of these villages are little known, (Langtigne and Lancie for example), the wines are generally sold under the &lsquo;Beaujolais-Villages&rsquo; label.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> The smart Burgundian winemakers are now realising the potential of Beaujolais, indeed, some are investing. Far sighted Beaune based Maison Louis Jadot bought Ch&acirc;teau des Jacques back in 1996. Situated in Moulin &agrave; Vent, between Fleurie and Chenas, the granitic vineyards of &lsquo;Moulin &agrave; Vent Ch&acirc;teau des Jacques&#39; boast 27 highly rated hectares.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Moulin a Vent is considered by many to be the most &lsquo;Burgundian&rsquo; Cru of Beaujolais. Reflecting this Jadot make their Chateau des Jacques in the same way as a Pinot Noir from a top vineyard site of the Cote D&rsquo;Or with a 20-30 day fermentation followed by partial ageing in French oak. The result is a full, robust crisp red fruit beauty with positive yet friendly tannins and a wine that will repay 5-7 years in the cellar with interest.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> So, whatever the depth of your pocket there&rsquo;s a Beaujolais to make you smile. Will it be a &lsquo;straight&rsquo; Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages, one the ten crus or a &lsquo;single estate&rsquo; to help you rediscover the wines of this blooming Burgundian gem.</p> Fri, 09 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6943 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Villa de Varda, The Best Grappa&rsquo;s in the World and More: </strong>A couple of months back as I planned to visit Northern Italy, on an Amarone trip, a lightbulb went off and I decided to get there a few days early. Rewind a couple of years and I&rsquo;d had dinner in NYC with Michele Dolzan from Villa de Varda. The Grappa&rsquo;s and other liqueurs he poured that night were impressive to say the least. I made a mental note to visit when I could. Once I realized I&rsquo;d be about an hour away I reached out and made plans to visit them in the foothills of the Dolomites.<br /> It was March so the weather wasn&rsquo;t harsh one way or the other.&nbsp; After landing in Verona in the mid-morning I hurtled up the highway just north of Trentino where I was greeted by Michelle Dolzan. For the rest of the day Michele, his brother Mauro and their Father Luigi hosted me in what amounted to a non-stop cavalcade of Grappa, Food, Liqueurs and Amaro.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There are two words that best describe what Villa de Varda does and they are purity and freshness. Taste one or 50 of their offerings and that will be crystal clear. Just like with wine, it all starts in the vineyard. Grappa is produced by distilling the pomace that is left after grapes are crushed to make wine. Nearly every producer of Grappa in the world buys their pomace from a winery. Villa de Varda went a different route. To assure that they have access to the freshest possible pomace they started their own winery. As a result they also produce a line of wines. The one exception to using house pomace is their Grappa di Amarone Riserva. For that they purchase Pomace from Bertani, the most traditional and quite frankly best Amarone producer.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Their obsession with freshness makes all the difference in the end result. When purchasing from others it&rsquo;s impossible to know how long the pomace has been lying around prior to distilling. The longer it sits it dries out and results in a harsher Grappa. If you&rsquo;ve ever put your nose to a glass filled with Grappa that emits burning aromas like gasoline, you&rsquo;ve experienced the worst possible result. Another benefit of controlling pomace is keeping the varieties separate. Villa de Varda produces mostly Grappas from single varieties; a couple of blends are the exceptions in their portfolio. Growing and crushing their own grapes assures they can do this with confidence. They distill each Grappa 6 times using a proprietary method and unique combination of Stills. This lends to the smoothness of their finished Grappas.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> It was incredibly instructive to visit their facility and see where the Grappa is made. Tasting them elsewhere is one thing, but having my hands on the still one moment and sitting down to taste the lineup in an adjacent room the next is an irreplaceable experience. Doing so alongside the family that produces them raises the experience in a way that can&rsquo;t be duplicated otherwise.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I have tasted Grappa from many producers. And certainly there are some other fine examples out in the world. The vast majority of the good ones are small scale passion projects. There is literally no one out there focusing on Grappa that produces them with the variety, consistency and level of quality that Villa de Varda does. In anything in life someone naturally has to be the best. When it comes to producing Grappa, it is unquestionably Villa de Varda. Purchase anything that bears their name with the confidence that you&rsquo;re getting a fresh, pure product made with integrity, passion and soul.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Villa de Varda Grappa Pinot Grigio ($45)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This crystal clear Grappa opens with fruity aromatics. Bits of Bartlett pear are evident as well as a hint of vanilla. The soft, gentle palate features apple, chamomile and wisps of spice. The finish is long and smooth with just a kiss of perceptible heat.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Villa de Varda Grappa Tri&eacute; ($55)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This offering is a blend of Pinot Bianco, M&uuml;ller Thurgau, and Teroldego. From the first whiff Tri&eacute; shows off impressive complexity. Orange zest, dried plum, vanilla and roasted hazelnuts are present. All of these characteristics continue on the palate which is layered and complex. Dark chocolate and copious spice notes are evident on the lengthy finish. Tri&eacute; is impressive and really of remarkable quality and depth for the price. This is their most popular Grappa and it&rsquo;s easy to taste why.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Villa de Varda &ldquo;Roncola&rdquo; Grappa M&uuml;ller-Thurgau Stravecchia ($95)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The aromatics here are an absolute knockout. A host of fruits are joined by vanilla, cr&egrave;me fraiche, and hints of flaky biscuit. The palate is stuffed with a procession of fruit flavors wrapped in gentle spice notes, hints of oak and bits of warmth. The impossibly long finish is deep and gentle in nature with bits of fruit and spice lingering on and on. What&rsquo;s really interesting about this Grappa is that the gentleness of the palate stands in contrast with the extroverted aromatics that get things started. Together they make for a unique and delicious offering.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Villa de Varda Grappa Stravecchia Nonno Giovanni ($115)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This Grappa is composed of Teroldego. 5% of it has 40 years of age on it. Toasty oak, roasted chestnuts, mesquite honey and cherry aromas are all evident. Chamomile tea, chicory, dried white fruits and spice notes to spare mark the palate. The finish is prodigiously long, honeyed and deeply layered.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Villa de Varda Grappa Amarone Stravecchia ($140)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This is aged in a combination of Chestnut, Acacia and Cherry Wood barrels. Toasted nuts, caramel and red fruit aromas are all evident. A dusting of cocoa leads the palate which also shows off dried cherry and spice. Continued toasted nuts, red fruit and bits of honey are evident on the impressive finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Villa de Varda &ldquo;Vibrazioni&rdquo; Grappa Vecchia Reserva (N/A)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Aged in Red Fir Barriques which are made from wood sourced in the Dolomites of Trentino. This is the same wood used to make violins. Chestnut and cherry aromas abound. Plum, apricot, and toasted walnut flavors are all in evidence. The long and persistent finish shows off marmalade, white pepper and hints of marzipan. Incredibly complex, delicious and extraordinary.</p> Tue, 06 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6941 Secret Sauce Wines: Murrieta’s Well Mark Angelillo <p>My admiration for Murrieta&rsquo;s Well and their winemaker, Robbie Meyer, is no secret. I&rsquo;m so glad that The Whip and The Spur are available at retail shops across the country, giving folks ample opportunity to experience these wines first-hand. The grape blends change every year to achieve maximum quality, and the brand&rsquo;s many acolytes look forward to those annual reveals. Wine lovers know a good thing when they taste it, and so Murrieta&rsquo;s Well has garnered somewhat of a cult status over the last several years. While we can speculate on the many things that make these wines so fantastic, from the property itself to the winemaker and more, I think their secret sauce is really quite simple: these are great wines, and you&rsquo;ll know it at first sip.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> But with so much attention heaped on The Whip and The Spur, it&rsquo;s easy to overlook all of the other amazing offerings in this winery&rsquo;s portfolio. During our most recent virtual tasting, I had a chance to sit down with Robbie Meyer in the company of a couple dozen wine writers to review this year&rsquo;s vintages of The Whip and The Spur. We tasted through some fresh surprises he&rsquo;s been cooking in his kitchen, too.<br /> When Robbie Meyer joined Murrieta&rsquo;s Well he was given clear marching orders: Do whatever you feel needs to be done to deliver the highest quality wines possible. The integrity of the final product always comes first, and it shows. Read on to learn more about the wines we sampled during the virtual tasting, or click here to watch the full video.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well The Whip 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <em><strong>Blend: </strong>30% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Semillon, 30% Chardonnay, 7% Viognier, 3% Muscat Canelli</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This was a low water vintage. Drier vintages are actually good for the vines, producing grapes that deliver more aromatic and concentrated wines. A combination of tank and barrel fermented varietals, each grape is grown and harvested to be its very best self before the final blend is created.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well The Spur 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <em><strong>Blend:</strong> 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Petite Sirah, 14% Petit Verdot, 10% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Franc</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The 2013 vintage of The Spur was driven by Petite Sirah, so I was excited to see that Cabernet Sauvignon takes center stage in 2014.&nbsp; This latest vintage is noted for its texture and tannic structure. The weight and depth on the mid-palate are undeniable. Most of all, it was blended to be &ldquo;yummy&rdquo; &ndash; a highly technical term bandied about the winery quite often, says Robbie. When it comes to tasting wine, sometimes &ldquo;yummy&rdquo; is all you need to understand.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well Dry Ros&eacute; 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <em><strong>Blend:</strong> 55% Grenache, 45% Counoise</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Viticulturally speaking, a lot of ros&eacute; is made with grapes not fully intended for ros&eacute; wine. The Grenache (chosen for its spice) and Counoise (chosen for its acidity) were selected and farmed to make this ros&eacute;, and nothing more. The intention effects canopy management techniques and fruit expression.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well Muscat Canelli 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This Muscat Canelli, known as Moscato di Canelli in Italy, is well-established on the Murrieta&rsquo;s Well property. It&rsquo;s a rare white grape with a lot of history. Robbie relishes the opportunity to work with more uncommon varietals and bring them to their very best expression.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well Cabernet Franc 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <em><strong>Blend:</strong> 88% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Petit Verdot</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The cooler conditions in Livermore allow Cabernet Franc to achieve true varietal expression.&nbsp; The region and its gravely soils run from east to west; an exceptional position that draws bay breezes and fog in a direct path to the shore. Extreme heat can destroy the delicate herbal notes that make the varietal so elegant.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Murrieta&rsquo;s Well Merlot 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <em><strong>Blend:</strong> 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This is Robbie&rsquo;s favorite varietal on the property, and it&rsquo;s easy to taste why. All of Robbie&rsquo;s wines go beyond vineyard designation. He drills down to the blocks, the rows, and the vines used for each and every wine. The Merlot vineyard blocks at Murrieta&rsquo;s Well have more clay in the soil, a condition most adored by Merlot. Grape growing, harvesting, and winemaking with such thoughtful precision and care is always clear in the glass.<br /><br /> </p> Thu, 01 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6940 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Sombra Mezcal ($39): </strong>In the last decade the popularity of Agave based spirits has been on the rise. Tequila led the charge and Mezcal followed with a huge uptick in popularity. These spirits have things in common as well as characteristics that set them apart from one another. The choice is yours, it depends what you&rsquo;re in the mood for. So just like you may choose a Single Malt one day and a Blended Whiskey the next, you should experiment.<br /><br /> <br /> The Sombra Mezcal has been produced since 2006 by Master Sommelier Richard Betts.&nbsp; The Agave utilized was farmed organically at a high altitude. The bottle it&rsquo;s sold in is made from hand blown, recycled glass. When you stick your nose in the glass after pouring, smoky notes emerge. They&rsquo;re supported by lemon and tangerine rind. A hint of sage is evident when you take the first sip alongside continued citrus and bits of fleshy yellow fruit. Additional citrus, white pepper notes and a touch of ash dot the long finish which is punctuated with a bit of heat.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sombra is compelling sipped neat, particularly with a bit of a chill on it. However it also makes a terrific, high quality cocktail component. I used it to up the game on my Jalapeno Margarita. Adding the smoky Mezcal to the already spicy drink adds another layer of complexity and deliciousness. Give it a try!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Smoky Jalapeno Margarita</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> 8 parts Sombra Mezcal<br /><br /> Ice<br /><br /> Kosher salt<br /><br /> 4 parts triple sec<br /><br /> Juice of 4 limes + 1 lime cut into wedges<br /><br /> 2 tablespoons agave nectar<br /><br /> 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pour salt into a shallow plate. Moisten the rim of four margarita glasses and press into the salt. Fill each glass with ice. Pour the Sombra Mezcal, lime juice, agave nectar, jalapeno, and triple sec into a large shaker over ice. Cover and robustly shake. Strain contents into the Margarita glasses. Garnish each with a lime wedge and serve.<br /><br /> </p> Tue, 30 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6939 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 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 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 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 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 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 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