A Bordeaux Red Blend from Argentina: Achaval-Ferrer Quimera 2010 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Wednesday, 24 July 2013 16:04


 quimera wineAchaval-Ferrer Quimera 2010, Mendoza, Argentina ($56.00)

One has come to expect good wines from Mendoza, Argentina.  High altitudes, poor alluvial soils,  low rainfall in a desert climate irrigated by  of the snowmelt  of Andes , fierce daytime heat and cold nights to make complex, deep and structured wines.

A winemaker’s chimera?  No, this is the reality for Achaval-Ferrer  winemakers Santiago Achaval  and Roberto Cipresso – The Wine Taylor, as the Italian-born  calls himself, and author of Vinosofia and Il romanzo dil Vino −  who have condensed the best of Mendoza’s terroirs into the recently released  Bordeaux-blend Achaval-Ferrer Quimera 2010.
quimera backlabel

Only 3,073 cases of 12 bottles each have been produced of the blend of low-yield old vines and vineyards  from Medrano, Lujan de Cuyo and Tupungato: Malbec, Cabernet Franc , Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot, all hand-harvested  from vineyards between 3600 ft and 2400 ft.. You can actually see the provenance of the grapes and the altitude of the vineyards in the back label.

 After a primary fermentation in separate barrels, the blend spent  12 months in French oak barrels (40% new and 60% old) where it underwent malolactic fermentation. The result is a medium-bodied complex  and rich red wine elegantly layered with flavors of black cherry, raspberry, violets laced with after the rain wet earth, herbal tones, chocolate, pepper and spices.  Round tannins, a live acidity, a lingering finish  and an average 14.0% alcohol, make Quimera 2010; a  wine that can be enjoyed now with a wide range of foods,  and can be cellared for 10-20 years as well.

A  group of friends from Argentina and Italy, together since 1998, Santiago Achaval Becú, Manuel Ferrer Minetti, Marcelo Victoria y Diego Rosso and the Italians; Tiziano Siviero and Roberto Cipresso committed themselves to work on high quality and respect for the earth – for which Mendoza provides the optimal conditions. The result is in addition to Quimera, the superb wines labeled Finca Altamira, Finca Mirador, Finca Bella Vista and Malbec Mendoza.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 July 2013 03:34
Wine with Cola: Heresy in the French Wine Industry PDF Print E-mail
Written by   
Tuesday, 09 July 2013 19:59


rougeA French beverage company has announced the launching of a red wine called Rouge Sucette, with 25% water, sugar and cola flavorings in an effort to woo the young

French Aquitaine-based wine producer Haussmann Famille has launched the world’s first cola-flavored wine onto the market.

Named Rouge Sucette (meaning red lollipop in French), the 9 percent abv wine, designed to be served chilled, is made from 75 percent grapes and 25 percent water, sugar and cola flavoring.

“The result is surprising; the balance between the bitterness of the wine and the sweetness of the cola is perfect,” says Pauline Lacombe, Haussmann Famille’s marketing director.

Unveiled at Vinexpo last week, the wine is targeting the “Coke generation” of younger drinkers as a way of easing them into the wine category. Sucette retails for under $5.00  a bottle

It also hopes to attract women and sweet-toothed Asian consumers. 


Shandies: the American beer cocktail PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pervaiz Shallwani - Wall Street Journal   
Sunday, 07 July 2013 21:38

While Micheladas are the rage in South Florida, Shandies, the American version of the beer cocktail is catching on in the U.S.A.  

 Shandies to Drink This Summer

 by Pervaiz Shallwani

shandiesAMERICAN DRINKERS have, historically, preferred their beer straight, whether poured from a bottle or drawn from a tap. Lately, though, stateside bartenders and brewers have begun to mix things up with a style of beer cocktail that's well-established in other parts of the world: the shandygaff. Also known as the shandy, it typically consists of equal parts beer and ginger beer or lemon soda. You'd think it would have caught on sooner, light and refreshing as it is, with just enough booze to take the edge off a hot day.

Though the drink's precise origins are unknown, it dates at least as far back as the mid-19th century. The British hold the strongest claim to its invention, and the shandy can be found, with slight variations, throughout the Commonwealth. Its cousins around the world include the German radler (beer and lemonade) and the Mexican michelada (beer, lime juice, chili sauce, Worcestershire and spices).

Over the past couple of years, U.S. brewers including Leinenkugel's, Samuel Adams and newcomer Traveler Beer Co. have released bottled shandy blends. But it's bartenders who are really remaking the shandy, cutting brews with everything from spirits, aperitifs and drinking vinegars to fruit purées and even kombucha, the fermented tea touted in some quarters for its liver-cleansing benefits.

"Detoxing while you're toxing" is how Eric Childs, founder and co-owner of New York kombucha company and homebrewing center Kombucha Brooklyn, describes the effects of his own kombucha-pilsner shandy. At Chicago's Billy Sunday, owner Matthias Merges combines lemon juice and a star-anise-infused rhubarb simple syrup with a bottle of Japanese hefeweizen to make what he calls a Shandinsky, in tribute to the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky.

The shandy meets the Bloody Mary at Sunshine Tavern in Portland, Ore., in a cocktail of light kölsch-style beer, tomato juice, horseradish and lime juice finished with a few dashes of Tabasco for extra kick. And at New York's Back Forty, the Penn Shandy is a combination of floral gin, freshly squeezed lime juice, ginger simple syrup and crisp pilsner—a play on the classic French 75, with beer taking the place of Champagne. Hybrids like these provide a lower-alcohol alternative to the cocktails that inspire them, a sensible choice at a time of year when you're all too likely to drink more than one.

—Pervaiz Shallwani

Penn Shandy

Make ginger simple syrup: In a saucepan, simmer 2 cups water with 2 cups sugar until sugar dissolves. Peel ½ pound ginger and cut crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices. Pour simple syrup and ginger into a blender and purée. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. // Combine 1 ounce Bluecoat gin1 ounce fresh lime juice and 1 ounce ginger simple syrup in a cocktail shaker, add ice, shake and strain into a pilsner glass. Top with pilsner beer, such as Victory Prima Pils.

—Adapted from Back Forty in New York City

The Quattro Pazzo

Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in 1 ounce pale lager, such as Peroni, 1 ounce Aperol1 ounce Prosecco and 1 ounce blood orange juice or San Pellegrino Blood Orange soda. Stir and garnish with an orange pinwheel.

—Adapted from Alla Spina in Philadelphia


Fill a pitcher with ice. Add 1¼ cups Dogfish Head Positive Contact beer1¼ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice¾ cup maple syrup6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar4 cups Dogfish Head Namaste beer and ¾ cup chilled club soda. Stir and serve in highball glasses garnished with lemon wedgesServes 8.

—Adapted from Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Del.


What is a Michelada? the quaffing Mexican beer cocktail PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Tuesday, 02 July 2013 23:28

micheladaLike brush fire and tacos, micheladas have become the darling of the younger crowds, in the same way the margarita won the palates and spinned the heads of earlier college spring breakers who kept the habit way into adulthood.

But what is a Michelada (pronounced Mee-Tchay-lah-dah)? A michelada is, basically, a prepared Mexican beer with lime juice, hot sauces and salsas.  In essence, a beer cocktail.  Great for hangovers and the summer heat!

There are many ways to make Micheladas but the true believers insist that in order to deserve the name, it has to have Maggi seasoning – for the umami taste −, Worcestershire sauce, lime juice,  chili powder, hot sauce like Tabasco, Louisiana, Tapatio or Cholula, Clamato (tomato-based clam juice), salt and slices of lime.  “Not so,” says chef Oscar of Talavera Mexican Restaurant in Coral Gables, “ there’s a variety, different types of Micheladas which we make at our restaurant.  Besides,” he explained,  “the preparation will vary depending on the different regions of Mexico.”

But no matter what goes into it,  like the margarita, the Michelada will always have lime in it and is always served in a chilled, salt-rimmed glass.

So where does the catchy name come from? The origins are blurred in the proof of beer and time.

"Chela" is slang for beer in Mexico so when you ask for a  Chelada (or chela helada) you may get an ice cold beer. But ask for a Michelada - a contraction of "Mi Chela Helada"   meaning iced beer my way - and you will get this totally original quaffing cocktail the Michelada.

Some say that a guy called Michel Ésper from San Luis Potosi, Mexico created  a beer lemonade  in Club Deportivo Potosino  which the members of the club christened "Michel's lemonade", and shortened over time to Michelada.

Like for any cocktail, the right proportions are the key to a delicious drink. Most bartenders will tell you that the best proportion is a 1:1 ratio including the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and Maggi bouillon and that the ice should be saved for the serving glass.

Michelada (from

12 oz beer
juice of 1 lemons
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 dash soy sauce
1 dash Tabasco® sauce
1 pinch black peppers
Mix ingredients in a tall high glass with lots of ice. Add beer, mix, and serve.


Michelada - another recipe


1 12-oz. bottle chilled Mexican beer - dark is better

1 12-oz. bottle chilled Clamato

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. hot sauce or more according to taste(Tabasco, Louisiana,, Tapatio or Cholula)

1/2 tsp. Maggi Seasoning

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. chili powder

Lime wedges (for serving)

preparation : Mix lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and Maggi Seasoning in a  pitcher. Add Clamato and beer.  Mix salt and chili powder on a small plate. Rub rims of pint glasses with lime wedges and dip in salt mixture. Fill glasses with ice, add Michelada mixture, and garnish with lime wedges.

Last Updated on Sunday, 07 July 2013 21:49
The great wines of Batasiolo Piemonte Nuovo DOCG PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Monday, 29 April 2013 02:32


Batasiolo winemaker Fiorenzo Dogliani at The Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne - Photo S Z Diament

It was a tired Fiorenzo Dogliani who started presenting his Batasiolo Piemonte Nuovo  wines at a dinner at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne earlier this week.  He had landed a couple of hours earlier straight from his winery in the north western region of  Piemonte, Italy. But as soon as he began pouring and talking about the products of his many vineyards across the DOCG appellation his enthusiasm bubbled over starting with the presentation of three new wines to be launched this year in the USA; two whites Gavi d'Gavi and Roero Arneis and the rare Piemonte Rosé ($18).
roero arneisBatasiolo Roero Arneis DOCG 2011 (between $17 and 18.99) from 100% Arneis. Straw-yellow with light amber reflections, it is a typical full-bodied yet light Piemontese white wine.  The Arneis grapes grow on the chalky and sandy hills along the left side of the Tanaro river surrounding Alba in the area known as ‘Roero’.  Soft pressing and static decanting before fermentation under temperature control in stainless steel tanks for at least eight months, according to strict regulations, preserve its trademark exotic floral and fruity aromas with a delightful minerality followed by notes of fresh apple and pears with hints of almonds and nuts, a good acidity and a soft finish.
Batasiolo Gavi di Gavi DOCG ($13). From 100% Cortese only from hill vineyards centered around the village of Gavi, near the Ligurian Appennines,  on the banks of the Lemme river in the province of Alessandria.     Delicate, straw-yellow with strong green reflections, the nose is fragrant and fruity  with citrus and minerality. Very buttery yet dry on the palate with aromas of  apples and melons, this is an  elegant wine with a fabulous acidity and a refreshingly clean finish.   Gavi di Gavi must be enjoyed chilled and young and is ideal as aperitivo, with antipasti, pasta and seafood sauces, especially Linguine with clam sauce or fried fish .
piemonte_rose_s_aBatasiolo  Piemonte Rosé DOC ($18) is a blend of 80% Barbera 15% Dolcetto 5% Nebbiolo. “The barbera for a good acidity, dolcetto for the softness and nebbiolo for its tannins,” revealed Mr. Dogliani. The hand –harvested grapes are grown on the hills which spread out along both the right and the left side of the Tanaro river  the hills of Roero and the foothills of Langhe area. Each varietal  goes separately through crio-skin maceration then fermentation at controlled temperatures for 8-12 days before they are blended to a beguiling rose color.  The wine is dry, aromatic and stands up to any type of food.  The floral and fruity nose belies the seriousness of the wine on the palate despite hints of fresh red fruits and a good acidity. Fresh and well-balanced  it is great as an aperitif on its own or with any food from appetizers and pastas to fish and meat.
The dinner at Cioppino, the restaurant at the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, continued with Chardonnay Morino DOC 2010 -  paired with Duck Breast Carpaccio, Barbera d’Alba Sovrana DOC 2009  paired with Polenta e Funghi; Barbaresco 2008 DOCG paired with risotto e Pancetta; then Barolo DOCG 2008 and Barolo Cerequio 2004 DOCG paired with Lamb Ossobuco and gremolata, followed by a light, aromatic and delightful – 5.5% alcohol content - Moscato d'Asti Bosc Dla Rei DOCG 2012  with dessert.
Batasiolo is the largest family-owned producer in the region with over 5 million bottles per year  50% still and 50% sparkling wine. It is responsible for 10% of the total production of Barolo in the country. Fiorenzo, who comes from a family of eight brothers and sisters at a time when the more hands there were the more prosperous a family could be, never hesitates to train and incorporate  the younger generation in the family business.
Needless to say that Fiorenzo Dogliani’s passion and knowledge kept him going and his strength grew with his desire to share the superb Batasiolo wines grew with each wine that was served.




Wine Director Todd Phillips orchestrates great wines with great food at Azul, Mandarin Oriental Miami PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ashlyn Toledo   
Tuesday, 23 April 2013 01:00

todd philippsIt’s been just three months since Todd Phillips arrived in Miami as wine director for the prestigious Mandarin Oriental , but already the North Carolinian is starting to find his groove. By focusing on the restaurant Azul’s by-the-glass program, Phillips hopes to help his guests discover new flavors from less expected names around the world.

“We’ve got wines from almost every region in the world,” he said. “For our by-the-glass program we’re trying to shift more toward small production, boutique wineries that people may not have heard of because they’re not written about all the time, but are absolutely incredible.”

Phillips, who grew up in Ashville, North Carolina and studied music at a local community college, maintains his laid-back, small-town charm. And his love of small production wines is probably as much about the people who make them as it is about the wines themselves. On recent trips to visit family in Washington State, Phillips set some time aside to visit local wineries.

“We stumbled upon a business park that actually had seven different wineries, and it was just guys walking around in jeans and t-shirts and it was really just country boys making really good wine out of what was basically like a garage,” he said. “These are people who used to work in a restaurant and just decided one day that they were going to go buy some grapes and make wine.”

Phillips worked his way through college as a server at the famous Grove Park Inn, a Four-Diamond resort in Asheville, NC.  What started out as a way to pay for music school took him all the way up to general manager.  Along the way, Phillips was exposed to many wines, opening his eyes to a new possible career.

“We had over 1100 wines at Grove Park, and I had the opportunity to taste burgundies going back to 1976, and that really opened my eyes to the world of wines,” he said. “In 2006, I tasted the iconic 1996 Quintessa, Rutherford from Napa Valley.  Just thinking about what was happening in 1996, and what I was doing, or even going back and looking at what the climate was like that year and how it affected the wine, and how this wine had evolved over the ten years in the bottle, and what it tastes like now – to me that whole process is kind of magical.”

Phillips still plays his piano every day and enjoys composing his own songs more than playing someone else’s.  But wine has become his main focus and at Azul he’s found a different outlet for his creativity: helping guests select the perfect wine pairing, and experimenting with new cocktails at the bar.

“Getting to play around with different things, trying a different mix of herbs, or trying a drink that’s maybe missing something and adding an egg white to it and finding that the texture was the one thing that was missing… I think that’s where I really get to be creative,” he said.

Azul’s Head Chef, Jacob Anaya, loves working with Phillips.  “Being from the south, Todd is very down to Earth and his sense of hospitality is totally genuine,” he said. “He’s always very welcoming and warm with our guests, and he’s just been very helpful.  On average, we’ll make changes to the menu about twice a week and he can sit down and talk to us about pairings for the menu and he just has so much knowledge.”

Anaya sees a bright future for Phillips at Azul.  In the short time he’s been there, he’s already made significant changes.  “I think if you come back a year from now, you’re going to see the wine list going in a whole different direction,” he predicted.

Inspired by Miami’s eclectic culture and warm climate, Phillips says he wants to create a wine list that makes sense for South Florida. He anticipates a growing demand for white wines in the coming months as spring gives way to a hot and humid Miami summer.

One of Phillips’ favorites on the list is a Lioco Chardonnay, a stainless-steel, naturally-fermented Chardonnay from different growers in California that stands out for its refreshing acidity.  Another recommendation:  Trimbach Pinot Gris (Alsace, France)  with the Tuna Poke —one Chef Anaya’s signature appetizers.

Azul is located at Mandarin Oriental, Miami, 500 Brickell Key Drive.  Dinner is served from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and Azul Bar is open from 6:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.  Reservations: (305) 913 8358.


Ashlyn Toledo is a free-lance journalist, graduate of FIU School of Journalism. ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 April 2013 15:10
The Malbec Glass to fully enjoy elegant and aromatic Malbecs world wide PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Tuesday, 23 April 2013 00:42

Argentina already had Evita, Tango, grilled beef and Malbec . Now it has its own Riedel glass for Malbec, specially-crafted for Graffigna, the oldest winery from the province of San Juan, since 1870, and Argentina’s second oldest winery.

the-malbec-glassMaximilian J. Riedel, President and 11th generation Riedel family member to lead the heritage crystal house based in Austria and the Riedel glassware brand worldwide,  has never had any doubt that having the proper stemware enhances the experience of enjoying a glass of wine. But there was no Malbec glass among the hundreds of stemware he developed with winemakers around the world for their specific varietal.

Like Juan Graffigna and his nephew Santiago in 1870, Riedel too was seduced by the arid charms of the San Juan landscape and by the amazing wines it produces, namely the premium Argentine Malbecs  Graffigna Centenario and Graffigna Grand Reserve which regularly receive top accolades.

He teamed up not with any of the major Malbec producers in Mendoza, the cradle of Malbec, but with Graffigna from San Juan, to develop the archetype of the Malbec glass that would accurately display the quality and intensity of the aromas and properly balance the flavors inherent in Malbec varietals world wide.

The designers at Riedel worked closely with the Graffigna team; prototypes were tested and rated in New York by a panel of influential wine journalists and recognized Malbec experts who helped select the perfect vessel to become the world's first official Malbec glass. "When conceiving this glass for Malbec, the characteristics of the variety were profoundly considered," remarked Maximilian Riedel. "The concept was not born on a drawing board, but finely tuned by trial and error through a highly collaborative effort involving top experts and enthusiasts."

The Malbec glass

Carefully selected proportions -- a base 3.54" in diameter, a stem 3.94" long, and a bowl 5.32" tall and 3.35" wide at its fullest point -- coupled with a narrow cut rim, help to concentrate the aromas and direct the wine to the center of the tongue. These features create a harmonious balance between the distinguishing qualities of Malbec wine: its smooth and sweet tannins, its bold fruit flavors and its medium acidity.

The Malbec glass which was launched in April as part of Malbec World Day celebrations joins the prestigious Riedel collection of varietal-specific stemware. 

The province of San Juan

North of Mendoza, along the foot of the Andes, the province’s valleys -- Tulum (the most important of all these valleys, straddling the banks of the San Juan river), Ullum-Zonda (El Pedernal Valley), Calingasta, Jáchal, Iglesia and Fértil — range from an elevation of 4,430 feet  in El Pedernal Valley (a micro-climate zone within Ullum- Zonda, recognized for its excellent agronomic quality), down to 1,970 feet  in the lower districts of Tulum Valley.

The climate is as dry as the Sahara desert with more than 300 days of annual sunshine and great thermal amplitude between day and night. With little rainfall, scorching summers, freezing  winters and extremely  low humidity — a bonus for the vines resulting in pollution free crops and low use of chemicals.  These conditions create wines that are full-bodied, elegant and aromatic.

Graffigna Centenario Malbec , Pedernal Valley ,San Juan, Argentina    100% Malbec, 14.2 % alcohol.   Hand harvested  in the cool early hours of the morning,  sfter 15-days of skin maceration to obtain the deep color and intense fresh fruit aromas that characterizes  Graffigna Malbec , the wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks , aged 12 months in oak barrels (85% French Oak and 15% American Oak)  for  complexity and elegance, with 3 months in the bottle before release.  The result is an elegant,  well-balanced yet powerful wine dark purple red with violet hues.  Fruit forward aromas of ripe red berries, sweet spices and a hint of black pepper backed by toasted notes develop in the palate into a structured and balanced wine, with ripe tannins and fresh acidity and a lingering toast and vanilla finish.  It pairs well with just about every food, from pastas and stews to lamb and grilled beef, spicy food and poultry. Service Temperature:  59/62°F


Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 April 2013 00:48
US is the largest Export Market for Scotch Whisky PDF Print E-mail
Written by VerageTradeNetwork. com   
Monday, 15 April 2013 15:44

Top 10 Scotch Whisky consuming countries


Exports of Scotch whisky hit a record value of £4.3 billion in 2012, despite a volume decline of 5% over the same period.
The value of Scotch exports has now increased by 87% over the last 10 years and this is the eighth consecutive year of growth. Scotch now represents about one quarter of all Britain’s food and drink exports.

Here are the top 10 countries consuming Scotch Whisky according to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) listed in descending order --

Mexico: The Mexican market was worth £91.8m in 2012, an increase of 14% on 2011, which was the sixth largest increase within the top 20 markets.

Venezuela: In 2012 £102.2m worth of Scotch was exported to Venezuela, making it the most valuable South American market to the Scotch whisky industry.

South Korea: Although £135.7m worth of whisky was exported to South Korea in 2012, this actually represents a 7% decrease in the value of this market.

South Africa: Generally better known for its wine, South Africa is also the biggest African export market for Scotch whisky. In 2012 South Africa was worth £161.6m, which is actually a small decrease on the previous year. In 2011 South Africa was worth £165.5m, so there was a 2% decrease in 2012.

Taiwan: In spite of a 7% increase in the value of its market Taiwan is still the sixth biggest export market for Scotch, the same position it held in 2011. Reflecting the trend reported in Cognac by Diageo and Pernod Ricard, Taiwan is part of the overall spirits boom in Asia. In total its export market increased from £155.2m in 2011 to £165.4m which represents a 7% increase. It also appears that the country is concentrating on premium brands as Taiwan is only ranked as the 15th biggest country by volume.

Germany is the only European export market in this top 10 list that recorded growth in the value of its market in 2012. The German export market increased from £149.6m in 2011 to £168.8m in 2012, a 13% boost for whisky in the country.

Spain: The financial crisis that is engulfing Spain at the moment is reflected in the huge falls of Scotch whisky in both value and volume. Spain saw the largest contraction of all those in the top 20 export markets, falling by a staggering 25%, from £259.2m in 2011 to £195.3m in 2012.

Singapore: According to the SWA Singapore is a distribution hub for Asia, a market which “continues to grow in importance”. Exports to Singapore increased by 7% last year, up from £317.9m to £339.2m in 2012, reflecting the overall growth throughout Asia.

France: as the SWA reports the “market was distorted by excise tax increases in 2012 which led to a ‘stocking up’ of Scotch Whisky in 2011 before their introduction.” So the value of the French market fell considerably, but it is still the second most valuable market for Scotch whisky. The value fell from £535.4m in 2011 to £434m in 2012, this represents a 19% decrease in the value of exports to France.

No 1: The US is once again the largest export market for Scotch whisky and 2012 saw bumper growth, with exports breaking through the £700m barrier for the first time.

USA: The value of Scotch exports to the US increased by 16%, jumping from £654.9m in 2011 to $758m in 2012. The SWA expects this to keep improving and in a statement the group said, “Demand from the USA is expected to increase as consumer confidence grows and many people trade up to premium brands.” This desire for premium whisky is reflected in the fact that despite a big jump in the value of the US export market, volumes sent to the country actually dropped in 2012. In 2011, 130m bottles were sent across the pond, this dropped by 2% in 2012 to 127.5m.

SWA mentioned that “Increasing consumer knowledge of Scotch whisky around the world has seen the demand for single malt and premium blended Scotch whisky increase. Single malt exports have risen over the last 10 years by 190% from £268m to £778m.”

Reflecting the trend of last year for both Diageo and PernodRicard, sales of Scotch decreased in Southern Europe, but the SWA said “these were more than matched by growing exports elsewhere.”

Exports to Eastern Europe, Asia and South America all increased; exports to India increased by 17% to £62m last year.

Last Updated on Monday, 15 April 2013 15:50
Three good value Malbecs from Chile and Argentina PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Friday, 29 March 2013 01:06

With the success of Argentinian Malbec in the last few decades came the claim to fame of the Malbec from Cahors, France, where it originated before Phylloxera and diseases decimated the vineyards.  Today's French Malbec, used in small quantities brings very deep color, ample tannin, and a plum-like flavor component and  adds complexity to Bordeaux  blends.

However,  Malbec comes into its own in Argentina, where it is most often bottled as a single varietal and where it seems to age fairly well — unlike its French counterpart . As a result,  the grape’s new-found fame has expanded to the rest of the world and vintners are planting it in high and dry areas from Patagonia to Chile, and from the State of Washington to California in the US and now Australia.

Here are three excellent value Malbecs from the same winery which straddles the Andes and the two countries: Chile and Argentina.  An interesting one from the Rapel Valley in Chile, just across the Andes from Mendoza and two from Mendoza, where Trivento Bodegas y Viñedos, founded por Viña Concha y Toro in Chile owns vineyards. The three wines are an ideal match to red sauce pastas, roasted red meats, roasted vegetables, robust salads  and barbecues.

2011 Trivento Malbec Reserve, Mendoza, Argentina ($11) 100% Malbec. Hand harvested and aged for 6 months in French oak.  Deep red with violet hues, this full-bodied wine is redolent of red fruits like plum and cherry with vanilla hints from the oak and hints of spice, leather and pepper.   Tamed acidity and medium tannins give it a robust finish.

2011 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Reserva Malbec, Rapel Valley, Chile   ($12.00) This 100%  Chilean Malbec is the most interesting of the three. Inky purple,  full-bodied, with luscious dark fruit mixed with hints of spice, black pepper and vanilla, it has a velvety texture and a delightful fresh acidity, ending in a long finish. It is perfect when paired with spring vegetables - which play well with the wine's minerality -, spinach gnocchi with pesto, pasta with a hearty tomato sauce and roasted poultry and meat.

2011 Trivento Amado Sur Malbec  2011 Trivento Amado Sur,  Mendoza, Argentina ($15) 75% Malbec, 15% Syrah, 10% Bonarda  produces a deep red wine with dark blue tones, aromas of plums and berries combined with black pepper and anise, chocolate and cinnamon.   With a velvety structure and thick tannins it ends with a persistent and pleasant finish.

Last Updated on Saturday, 30 March 2013 01:40
Rich, Gastronomic Tradition and great Tempranillo from Rioja Alavesa, The Basque Region PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Thursday, 28 March 2013 23:24

Located in northern Spain, the Basque Country spans a rich, diverse growing region from the western Pyrenees on the French border to the Atlantic coast. Its wealth of natural resources has earned the “Euskadi” global recognition and a well-earned reputation for culinary tradition and innovation.

Famous for their rich gastronomic tradition, their world class chefs and their fierce sense of identity, The Basque Country is now including wines to its list of achievements.  At the 2012 Basque Country Food and Wine Exhibition in San Sebastián, importers from over 60 different countries met to explore and discover fine wines like the Rioja Alavesa wines from the southern part of the Basque Country.

With a production of close to 40 million liters of wine, the red Tempranillo grape is the main variety of the Rioja Alavesa.  Here are three lively wines, two under $15, that are distributed in the USA

AGNVS Crianza Red 2007 Rioja Alavesa ($14). 95% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano from over 50 years old vines. This medium bodied wine was aged for 12 months in French and Russian oak and aged in bottle for 12 months. Deep garnet color with violet hues with an intense nose of red berries and balsamic it is lively in the mouth, with fresh acidity, yet silky, well-balanced and  food friendly, particularly with charcuterie, red meat and game

Viñedos y Bodegas de la Marquesa – Valserrano Crianza Red 2009 Rioja Alavesa ($14).. 90% Tempranillo / 10% Mazuelo.  Viñedos y Bodegas de la Marquesa – Valserrano is an ancient and family run winery founded in 1880 and located in Villabuena de Alava, Rioja Alavesa. Approximately 900,000 lbs of grapes are grown each year on the family’s 165 acres of at least 25 year-old  vineyards in Villabuena, from the sunny lower slopes of the Cantabrian Mountain Range  to the banks of the River Ebro to the south-southwest. Aged for 18 months in American- and French-oak casks this full-bodied red is layered with black cherry and red berry notes, aromas of ripe plums, fresh figs, hazelnuts and hints of green tea and strawberry. Fresh and fruity on the palate, it has well integrated tannins and lively acidity and lingers in a long and aromatic finish. 

Finca Monteviejo 2007 Rioja Alavesa  ($42) 95% Tempranillo / 5% Graciano and Garnacha.  Aged for 18 months in new French oak, this full-bodied, black-cherry colored wine with shades of blue was bottled in January 2010.  An intense nose of dried fruits, hay, berries and cherry liqueur precedes complex aromas of blackcurrant liqueur, coconut and chocolate with herbs and spices undertones. Strong tannins are tempered by a good acidity and hints of minerality, toffee, dried fruit and a long, lingering aftertaste.

The Basque region is also renowned for their Idiazabal cheese Denomination of Origin, after the name of a small town at the foothills of Aralar Mountain.  The area is renowned for its pastoral tradition that dates back over four thousand years.  Idiazabal cheese is made from unprocessed milk from the Laxta goat breed, cured for a minimum of two months, then smoked or left natural. The round discs are slightly spicy in flavor with an intensely nutty aroma which pairs beautifully with all the above wines.

Discover more about the Basque Country:

ByWines adds actor Kyle MacLachlan’s Pursued by Bear wines from Walla Walla to Wine Portfolio PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 23:59

 Listen to an interview with Movies/TV Actor Kyle MacLachlan,winemaker of Pursued by Bear, Walla Walla, Washington State, on FOOD & WINE TALK 

victor sex wnesMotion picture and TV actor Kyle MacLachlanSex and the City and Desperate Housewives — poured tastings of his 2008 Pursued by Bear Cabernet Sauvignon and Baby Bear Syrah, new vintages from his Walla Walla-based wine partnership with Eric Dunham at ByWines’ headquarters in Miami.

By Wines’ addition of Pursued by Bear, a Dunham MacLachlan Cabernet Sauvignon and Baby Bear Syrah from Walla Walla, Columbia Valley, to its portfolio of fine wines reflects an exclusive marketing and sales agreement to represent Kyle MacLachlan’s wines in Florida.

Kyle MacLachlan’s interest in wine started early on in the 1970’s (he didn't like beer), kyle_maclachlan_2011_shankboneand when director David Lynch, who cast MacLachlan in the movie Dune in his early 20s, discovered that the famed Chateau Lynch-Bages was a Bordeaux Grand cru, he began exchanging bottles with the actor.

But it is on the occasion of his wedding to Desiree Gruber in Miami in 2002 that he came across Dunham Cellars and befriended winemaker Eric Dunham.

Shortly after, he approached him with the idea of collaborating, and the partners decided to produce Pursued by Bear, a Cabernet Sauvignon, made at Dunham Cellars, in Walla Walla, soon followed by a hearty Syrah.

The name, suggested over dinner by fellow actor Fred Savage, comes from a quirky stage direction ("Exit, pursued by a bear") in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. MacLachlan says his foray into winemaking was a labor of love that he dreamed about for years.

pursued-by-bear-logo2008 Pursued by Bear Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley $75   . 78% Cab Sauv; 11% Merlot, 11% Syrah. alcohol 14.2%  A creative collaboration between Dunham Cellars Senior Winemaker, Eric Dunham, and actor Kyle MacLachlan. sourced from the Lewis Estate Vineyard and the Phinny Hill Vineyard, the highly structured Bordeaux blend delivers an opulent nose of roasted coffee, black cherries,  plums, hints of anise and herbs leading to a fruit forward, layered wine with an interesting mineral element and well-balanced  tannins with a persistent finish. 411 cases. Wine should keep for at least 15 years.

2008 Baby Bear  Syrah, Columbia Valley $45. This  100% Syrah from  Lewis Estate and Phinny Hill vineyards spent 24 months in 100% French oak. 14.2% alchohol. It is an inky Syrah, rich and opulent, redolent with earthy aromas and hints of mountain berries, licorice and spice.

By Wines Manager Victor Passalacqua is responsible for the strategic direction and exclusive distribution of this brand in Florida. For additional information:

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 March 2013 20:55
Bisol and Affordable Art Fair (AFF) announce the winner of the 2nd edition of ‘Talento looking for Talent’ PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Tuesday, 05 March 2013 21:55

bisol photo



During a recent presentation held at the Milan Design Library, Bisol and Milan Affordable Art Fair (AAF  presented  the Creative Talent award to  Daniele Fabiani for the design of a label composed of three engravings representing stylized versions of the vine leaf.

The winner, Daniele Fabiani, born in 1988 and a graduate of the ‘Brera Fine Arts Academy’ — curator of a great number of art exhibitions both in Italy and abroad, was selected among the two hundred competitors, and his work will be featured on the new label for the select sparkling wine Eliseo Cuvee del Fondatore Talento Metodo Classico DOC

The jury was composed of Gianluca Bisol (general manager of the company of the same name) and of  representatives from the worlds of business, culture, art and design.

Bisol, the historical family of Prosecco and Cartizze in collaboration with AAF also awarded 1000 € to the  young designer as well  a vacation at Venissa and 12 bottles of the exclusive Bisol Talento Spumante Metodo Classico Brut with the label he designed.

The ceremony culminated in a fitting toast when Bisol offered a degustation of their award-winning sparkling wines and the Bisol Talento Spumante Metodo Classico Brut.

While Eliseo Cuvee del Fondatore Talento Metodo Classico DOC is not currently distributed in Florida, consumers can delight in Bisol’s many winning Proseccos:

Bisol Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG – $26.99

Bisol Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG - $51.99

Jeio Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOC - $17.99

Jeio Rosé Cuvée Valdobbiadene VS - $16.99

Jeio Extra Dry Cuvée Valdobbiadene VSQ - $16.99


Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 March 2013 22:02
Winemaker Chris Carpenter and the amazing Lokoya, Cardinale, la Jota and Mr. Brave Mountain Wines of Napa, CA PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Sunday, 03 March 2013 21:22

chris carpenter ca mountainSucculent reds, dramatic and bold with a silky yet lush texture and fruit-filled profile tempered with minerality are a rare treat.

Rich, ripe and intense, with a lively acidity keeping the spirited tannins on a short rein, the mountain wines of  Lokoya, Cardinale, la Jota and Mr. Brave combine power with elegance.

Listen to Winemaker Chris Carpenter (interview on FOOD & WINE TALK WSFG)   as he talks about his work with Jess Jackson and about the serious and rewarding task of working block by block to produce the amazing Mountain Wines of Napa, CA. at a recent tasting in Miami Beach. 

These are unique and seriously-endowed wines meant for collectors/connoisseurs who have the patience to wait for them.


The following wines were poured:

  • 2009 Mt Brave Mt. Veeder Merlot, Napa, CA ($75)
  • 2009 La Jota Vineyard Co Howell Mountain Merlot ($75)
  • 2008 La Jota Vineyard Co W.S. Keyes Vineyard Merlot ($125)
  • 2006 Cardinale ($250)
  • 2009 Cardinale ($250)
  • 2009 Lokoya Mr. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon ($350)
  • 2009 Lokoya Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon ($350)
French study finds pesticide residues in 90% of wines PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jane Anson / Decanter   
Sunday, 03 March 2013 21:04

A French study testing 300 French wines has found that 90% of 300 French wines tested  had traces of harmful pesticide residues left from the chemical treatment of vines.  Read  full story here

Pascal Chatonnet and the EXCELL laboratory in Bordeaux tested wines from the 2009 and 2010 vintages of Bordeaux, the Rhône, and the wider Aquitaine region, including appellations such as Madiran and Gaillac.

Wines were tested for 50 different molecules found in a range of vine treatments, such as pesticides and fungicides.  Some wines contained up to nine separate molecules, with 'anti-rot' fungicides the most commonly found. These are often applied late in the growing season.

‘Even though the individual molecules were below threshold levels of toxicity,’ Chatonnet told, ‘there is a worrying lack of research into the accumulation effect, and how the molecules interact with each other. 'It is possible that the presence of several molecules combined is more harmful than a higher level of a single molecule,’ he said.

Since 2008, France's Ecophyto national plan (involving the study of the ways in which organisms are adapted to their environment) has sought to cut pesticide use by 50% by 2018.

‘By 2012, there had been no reduction at all, even a small rise of 2.7% between 2010 and 2011,’ said Stéphane Boutou, also of EXCELL.  While EU rules limit pesticide residues on grapes to 250 molecules, there are no limits set for wine.  'Some molecules will break down during the process of fermentation, and we need more research into what they synthesise into, and more traceability in place,’ Chatonnet said.  

While in May 2012, the French government officially recognized a link between pesticides and Parkinson’s disease in agricultural workers, Chattonet said ‘But we should not forget that it is not the consumers who are most impacted by this, it is the vineyard workers who are applying the treatments.’

Heritance wines, a winery without walls in Napa Valley, CA PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 01:12
bernard portet
Winemaker Bernard Portet  made history when the first Clos du Val  vintage in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District came 8th in the legendary Judgement of Paris in 1972, and when the same ‘72 vintage came out on top  at the 1986 rematch. Now after four decades as the co-founder and presiding winemaker at Clos du Val Winery, it looks like his idea of retirement is not confined to a boat or a golf course. His idea of retirement is actually to continue making wine. Except that, this being the 21st century, he does it from “a winery without walls” or a virtual winery.   
At a recent tasting in Miami,  the 2010 Ñandú Malbec ($17), the 2008 Heritance Cab ($28) and the 2010 Heritance Sauvignon Blanc ($18) show a consistency of style with mellow fruit and a smooth finish.
F&WT         Bernard,  you can be counted among vintners like Warren Winiarski who founded Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Carl Doumani who established Stags’ Leap Winery in 1972,  pioneers who transformed Napa Valley from a sleepy agricultural backwater into a wealthy, world-renowned wine region. Yet you were born in Cognac France from a long line of wine makers. What made you come and stay in Napa Valley?
F&WT        How different was working in Napa from working in France?
F&WT         Now you make different wines than those you made at Clos du Val,  like Ñandú, an Argentine Malbec you founded in 2004 with your son Olivier. And of course  your own wine brand  Heritance – a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Sauvignon Blanc   that have balance, complexity and a long finish — for which you  buy the best grapes from trusted producers. And no winery to give you a headache!            What are the advantages of a winery without walls?
F&WT         Your father was technical director at Château Lafite, a grand cru in Bordeaux. So you were born and raised in the vineyard and the wine business.  Is this how you acquired your sense of terroir and your concept that wine is made in the vineyard.?
F&WT         where does the name of the label Heritance come from?

Listen to an interview with winemaker Bernard Portet

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 01:22
Château Lassègue: affordable St. Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Saturday, 16 February 2013 21:18
 chateau 7
Elegance, complexity, finesse, style is what one invariably finds in a bottle of Château Lassègue, from the prestigious Grand Cru from St. Emilion.
So what’s else is new? The prices. They’re surprisingly affordable!
Together with Jess Jackson, veteran winemaker Pierre Seillan and his wife Monique are owners of several fine wine estates in the US, Italy and France.  Chateau Lassègue in Bordeaux, in the heart of St. Emilion, is one of them.                                                                                                                   chateau 8
This 18th Château built on a beautifully restored 17th century villa sporting sundials (originally installed 250 years ago so vineyard workers could track  time while working), in turn built over Roman ruins in Saint Etienne de Lisse, is an important estate of over 84 Grand Cru acres of red grapes planted in a variety of soils, from the foothills to the hillsides of St. Emilion.
I stress the variety of soils because winemaker Pierre Seillan’s philosophy is based on what he coined “micro-crus.” Not only is each parcel thoroughly analyzed and planted according to the soil’s properties, “and you can imagine the diversity of soils you get in 80 acres in Bordeaux, where plots are usually quite small,” Monique Seillan was quick to point out at a recent wine tasting where she poured newly released and to-be-released vintages. “Here, each block or mini-plot is harvested separately and vinified in separate barrels.
And those are another story:  to get the best for each of his wines, Pierre Seillan even picks the trees from selected forests for his barrels, before working on how long to heat the staves and on the intensity of the toasting which will affect the color, flavor, tannin profile and texture of the wines.
All of the above demands imposed by his perfectionism are in addition to the strict regulations and production restrictions imposed on St. Emilion Grands Crus such as reduced yields, high sugar content at harvest -with the exception of Merlot, and a period of at least 14 months storage at the producer’s before being released.
This labor of love and precise wine-making-style was evident at the vertical tasting of Château Lassègue and Château  Vignot, both Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2005 through 2008.  Both traditional Bordeaux blends from old vines (Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon) are elegant, complex, well-balanced and the true expression of St. Emilion, yet so different from each other.
Château Vignot wines, from the clay-sandy gravel foothills of the Côtes de St. Emilion are truffle-like earthy, fruity, rich with chocolate and delicate violet, good acidity and soft tannins. Chateau Lassègue, from 50-year-old vines planted on the estate’s hillside with calcareous clay soils and limestone, yields opulent, well-balanced and shimmering lush wines with some minerality, smooth tannins, an impressive structure and a fantastic length.
Great food wines, they pair beautifully with seafood as well as grilled steaks and desserts and can be consumed now or aged for another 20 years.

Having being under new management for less than the required time for classification, while bound by all the production regulations and  restrictions, Lassègue is more flexible when it comes to pricing than a Cheval Blanc or Le Pin.
bouteille 1Here are some notes from our tasting at The Capital Grill in Downtown Miami:
Les Cadrans de Lassègue, Château Lassègue, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2008 ($30) 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.  This second label aged 8 months in French oak,  while still young, evolved into a delicious, unique wine with jammy tones of dark fruit, licorice, great acidity and subdued tannins.
'Lassègue', Château Lassègue, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, France 2007 ($80) (68%Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon). Round, perfect, with smoky, toasty nose and hints of tobacco, fresh black fruit, spices and chocolate and a long and aromatic finish.
'Lassègue', Château Lassègue, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, France 2006 ($80) Powerful, elegant but still closed, requires a couple more years to achieve its full potential.
'Lassègue', Château Lassègue, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, France 2005 ($150) (60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Balance, elegance and complexity is what characterizes this opulent wine with minerality peaking through the blend of rich, aromatic Cabernet Franc, dense and concentrated Merlot and powerful and elegant Cabernet Sauvignon.
Château Vignot, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Château Lassègue, France 2008. This to-be-released promising wine from 40-year-old vines grown in the clay-sandy gravel foothills of the Côtes de St. Emilion will peak in 2017, but can certainly be opened before.
Château Vignot, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Château Lassègue, France 2007 ($60) Cedar, coconut, leather, cherry and brandy meld into a soft and round wine with ripe tannins and a long finish.
Château Vignot, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Château Lassègue, France 2006($60) rich, complex, aromatic and mature with dark fruit in the nose and mineral overtones, solid tannins
Château Vignot, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Château Lassègue, France 2005($75) A vintage that will be remembered in Bordeaux yields a wine that is powerful and elegant with a nose of cashews, oregano, plums resulting in a charming mouthfeel, strong aromatics and a lively acidity.




Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 01:25
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Food & Wine Talk Radio

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and Gelato Artisans:
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David Downie, author of A Passion for Paris, Romanticism and Romance in the City of Light

Elizabeth Minchilli, author of  Eating Rome: Living the Good Life in the Eternal City.  

James Beard Award-winning wine journalist Lyn Farmer on: Garnacha from Carinena; the next great wine

Cindy Hutson,chef/owner, Ortanique and Zest, author of From the Tip of My Tongue

Lidia Batianich, celebrity chef, TV host, author and restaurateur 



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