Wines
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:   http://www.facebook.com/SavorBasqueCountry.   http://www.basquecountry-savourit.es/blog/

 
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: www.bywines.com

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 affordableartfair.com)  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 Decanter.com, ‘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
 
The Love of Sparkling Wines PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:51

 

Regardless of the legal requirements for labeling, the name Champagne will always be in the back of our minds, ingrained in our collective memories and triggering that Pavlov reflex when we yearn for the ultimate luxury of cold, crisp, ephemeral and elegant bubbles that only a Sparkling Wine can provide.

However, the offering beyond the universe of Champagne is vast and flexible when it comes to the many different quality productions of sparkling, the geographic diversity and the consumers’ pocket sizes.   

Here is a good choice of price-conscious, elegant Champagne stand-ins; from yeasty and fragrant sparklings from Sonoma, CA; silky crémants from Burgundy, fresh fall apple-tasting crémants d’Alsace; or crisp and fresh proseccos from Italy, all in the $ 30 to $15 range.  They are all energizing and enjoyable as aperitifs and stand up well to an entire meal, holiday or not. Cheers

  

Valdo Oro Puro, DOCG, Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy  ($14.00)  

Freshness, with a spicy thread of ground ginger, cardamom and balsamic weaving through tropical notes of pineapple, tangerine, white peach and a delicate almond note typical to Prosecco is what you will get from this well-balanced straw yellow Prosecco with a fine perlage, a frothy mousse and a floral finish.   A good pairing with starters, with delicately flavored dishes and seafood.

zonin

Zonin Prosecco Brut, Veneto, Italy      ($15 - $18)

A delightful fresh, fruity and aromatic nose, with hints of white peach, mineral and honeysuckle characterizes Zonin’s Proseccos —   Zonin also makes a popular "Special Cuvee". The straw yellow sparkling has a fine and creamy froth. It is dry  with soft tropical fruit and honeyed apple flavors melding with a pleasantly nutty background. The finish is long and softly complex. A Well-balanced wine made with 100% Prosecco or Glera grapes is ideal as an aperitif or throughout  a meal.  

 

 

Berlucchi Cuvée '61 Brut Rosé, Franciacorta DOCG, Italy ($17 - $20)  cuveerosebtl

In the 60’s Franciacorta in Lombardy became Italy’s sparkling wine answer to Champagne.  Berlucchi Cuveé ’61 is definitely a French-inspired sparkling wine, made in Italy and specially marketed in the US.  Made with Méthode Champenoise or Metodo Classico with 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, it was fermented 6 months in stainless steel and 12 months in bottle before disgorging. After disgorging, the bottle was aged two more months in the cellar before release.

Pale pink, the wine is full-bodied. Complex, fragrant and lively on the nose with wild red berry fruit and ripe stone fruit with the body, acidity and tannin of Pinot Noir for texture, the Rosé is crisp and rich with elegant bubbles and generous fragrances of apple and pear and notes of tropical fruit and spices. Exceptionally fresh with a velvety texture, well-balanced with a lively froth and elegant bubbles Rosé is festive and drinkable with a broad range of foods.

 

jcb 39JCB No 39 Crémant de Bourgogne, Saint-Aubin, Saint-Romain and Saint-Véran, Burgundy, France (approx $30)  

JCB No. 39 is the quintessential marriage of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sourced from three renowned appellations in Burgundy: Saint-Aubin, Saint-Romain and Saint –Véran.     And there’s a romantic story behind this refined pale yellow wine in a beautiful black bottle.  The delicate and silky yet bone-dry crémant with whiffs of toast and yeast and fresh aromas of white peaches, crisp apples, with lovely bubbles and a creamy froth, has a long and elegant finish with slight honey citrus notes.  Great on its own, for a toast or an aperitif, it pairs beautifully with food.

Each JCB wine is known by a number. And each number has deep significance for Jean-Charles Boisset, the collection’s creator and namesake.  The year was 1939. Germany had just invaded Poland and France was rallying its troops to come to the aid of their ally. While this world of chaos was unraveling, a young couple had fallen in love.  They married the day before he set out to serve, and although the wait was long and painful, she knew he would return safe one day.  After three adventurous years, he returned home to the loving and faithful arms of his wife and now three-year old daughter, who he was just now meeting for the first time.  The couple is the grandparents of Jean-Charles Boisset of Boisset Family Estates.

 

J Brut Rosé NV, Sonoma CA  ($38)j brut rose_01

The J Brut Rosé in the sexy bottle labeled with a stylized J is made with a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris from Alexander Valley and Russian Valley in Sonoma, CA where hills and benchlands provide a diversity of soils.  The soft peachy pink color leads to a crisp, dry and mellow wine with a steady stream of fine bubbles, with flavors of red berries, orange, Meyer lemon peel and hints of almond.  It is elegant and lively, perfectly balanced with a lingering finish that makes you yearn for more and more….   

 

j sparkling_sm1J Cuvée 20 Brut NV, Sonoma CA  ($28)

This is another hit by J. The pale gold non-vintage J Cuvée 20 gracefully opens up with crisp lemon peel, honeysuckle and delicate yeast aromas followed by a mix of Fuji apple, grapefruit and a hint of vanilla. The mid-palate flavors are interlaced with toast, caramel, warm pear, and almond. The acidity adds just enough liveliness and the citrus zest leads to a lingering lush finish. This is the perfect celebratory wine.  

 

 

 

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir, Sonoma ($20)gloria ferrer blanc de noir


Bright strawberry and black cherry aromas with subtle vanilla highlights. Creamy cherry, lemon and cola flavors combine with a lush palate, small, lively bubbles and a persistent finish. Blanc de Noirs is predominantly made from hand-harvested Pinot Noir grapes (90%) , the hallmarks of which are a vibrant red fruit character. The creamy palate and rosy hue are a result of a small addition of Vin Gris, which was blended into the base cuvée.  

 

 

The Love of Sparkling Wines  

 

Regardless of the legal requirements for labeling, the name Champagne will always be in the back of our minds, ingrained in our collective memories and triggering that Pavlov reflex when we yearn for the ultimate luxury of cold, crisp, ephemeral and elegant bubbles that only a Sparkling Wine can provide.

However, the offering beyond the universe of Champagne is vast and flexible when it comes to the many different quality productions of sparkling, the geographic diversity and the consumers’ pocket sizes.   

 

Here is a good choice of price-conscious, elegant Champagne stand-ins; from yeasty and fragrant sparklings from Sonoma, CA; silky crémants from Burgundy, fresh fall apple-tasting crémants d’Alsace; or crisp and fresh proseccos from Italy, all in the $ 30 to $15 range.  They are all energizing and enjoyable as aperitifs and stand up well to an entire meal, holiday or not. Cheers

 

Valdo Oro Puro, DOCG, Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy  ($14.00)  

Freshness, with a spicy thread of ground ginger, cardamom and balsamic weaving through tropical notes of pineapple, tangerine, white peach and a delicate almond note typical to Prosecco is what you will get from this well-balanced straw yellow Prosecco with a fine perlage, a frothy mousse and a floral finish.  

A good pairing with starters, with delicately flavored dishes and seafood.

Prosecco is a very fast growing sparkling wine category worldwide, and Valdo,  located in the Valdobbiadene area at the foothills of the "pre-alps" around Treviso in the heart of Prosecco DOCG production area, was started in 1926 by the Societa Anonima Vini Superiori and purchased by The Bolla Family in the 1940's.

 

Zonin Prosecco Brut, Veneto, Italy      ($15 - $18)

A delightful fresh, fruity and aromatic nose, with hints of white peach, mineral and honeysuckle characterizes Zonin’s Proseccos —   Zonin also makes a popular "Special Cuvee". The straw yellow sparkling has a fine and creamy froth. It is dry  with soft tropical fruit and honeyed apple flavors melding with a pleasantly nutty background. The finish is long and softly complex. A Well-balanced wine made with 100% Prosecco or Glera grapes is ideal as an aperitif or throughout  a meal.

 

 

Berlucchi Cuvée '61 Brut Rosé, Franciacorta DOCG, Italy ($17 - $20)  

In the 60’s Franciacorta in Lombardy became Italy’s sparkling wine answer to Champagne.  Berlucchi Cuveé ’61 is definitely a French-inspired sparkling wine, made in Italy and specially marketed in the US.  Made with Méthode Champenoise or Metodo Classico with 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, it was fermented 6 months in stainless steel and 12 months in bottle before disgorging. After disgorging, the bottle was aged two more months in the cellar before release.

Pale pink, the wine is full-bodied. Complex, fragrant and lively on the nose with wild red berry fruit and ripe stone fruit with the body, acidity and tannin of Pinot Noir for texture, the Rosé is crisp and rich with elegant bubbles and generous fragrances of apple and pear and notes of tropical fruit and spices. Exceptionally fresh with a velvety texture, well-balanced with a lively froth and elegant bubbles Rosé is festive and drinkable with a broad range of foods.

 

JCB No 39 Crémant de Bourgogne, Saint-Aubin, Saint-Romain and Saint-Véran, Burgundy, France (approx $30)  

JCB No. 39 is the quintessential marriage of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sourced from three renowned appellations in Burgundy: Saint-Aubin, Saint-Romain and Saint –Véran.     And there’s a romantic story behind this refined pale yellow wine in a beautiful black bottle.  The delicate and silky yet bone-dry crémant with whiffs of toast and yeast and fresh aromas of white peaches, crisp apples, with lovely bubbles and a creamy froth, has a long and elegant finish with slight honey citrus notes.  Great on its own, for a toast or an aperitif, it pairs beautifully with food.

Each JCB wine is known by a number. And each number has deep significance for Jean-Charles Boisset, the collection’s creator and namesake.  The year was 1939. Germany had just invaded Poland and France was rallying its troops to come to the aid of their ally. While this world of chaos was unraveling, a young couple had fallen in love.  They married the day before he set out to serve, and although the wait was long and painful, she knew he would return safe one day.  After three adventurous years, he returned home to the loving and faithful arms of his wife and now three-year old daughter, who he was just now meeting for the first time.  The couple is the grandparents of Jean-Charles Boisset of Boisset Family Estates.

 

J Brut Rosé NV, Sonoma CA  ($38)

The J Brut Rosé in the sexy bottle labeled with a stylized J is made with a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris from Alexander Valley and Russian Valley in Sonoma, CA where hills and benchlands provide a diversity of soils.  The soft peachy pink color leads to a crisp, dry and mellow wine with a steady stream of fine bubbles, with flavors of red berries, orange, Meyer lemon peel and hints of almond.  It is elegant and lively, perfectly balanced with a lingering finish that makes you yearn for more and more….   

 

J Cuvée 20 Brut NV, Sonoma CA  ($28)

This is another hit by J. The pale gold non-vintage J Cuvée 20 gracefully opens up with crisp lemon peel, honeysuckle and delicate yeast aromas followed by a mix of Fuji apple, grapefruit and a hint of vanilla. The mid-palate flavors are interlaced with toast, caramel, warm pear, and almond. The acidity adds just enough liveliness and the citrus zest leads to a lingering lush finish. This is the perfect celebratory wine.  

 

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 17:16
 
A chicken in every pot? Perhaps not, but Bordeaux wines on every table and for every pocket PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Sunday, 09 December 2012 23:16

Is there such a bargain as Bordeaux wines under $15?

This year, five of the "Le Wine Buffs," a team of Bordeaux Wine Council-appointed wine connoisseurs, and three guest judges, blind-tasted 300 wines submitted by importers in order to determine the final selection of the 100 wines included in Today's Bordeaux (affordable Bordeaux).

The 100 wines —red, white, rose, and sweet wines —  are priced between $9 and $35 retail and are representative of the wide range of wines produced in Bordeaux, from renowned appellations like Blaye - Côtes de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, Bordeaux Supérieur, Cadillac, Castillon -   Côtes de Bordeaux, Entre-Deux-Mers, Fronsac, Graves, Haut-Médoc, Lalande-de-Pomerol, Margaux, Médoc, Pessac-Léognan, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux, Saint-Émilion, Saint-Estèphe, Sainte Foy, and Sauternes.

American consumers can  now use the Today’s Bordeaux selection on the Bordeaux.com  webpage http://www.bordeaux.com/us/wines/selection, to find affordable Bordeaux wines under $35 dollars for their holiday meal. Today’s Bordeaux wines — vibrant whites, rich reds, seductive dessert wines —  are well balanced with lively acidity. They  pair elegantly with food  from smoked salmon, turkey, leg of lamb to lasagna, creamy potatoes or even asparagus and artichokes.

 
Brunello di Montalcino gets top “Vinibuoni D’italia 2013 Guide awards PDF Print E-mail
Written by Press Release   
Friday, 30 November 2012 01:16
 
 
The “ViniBuoni d’Italia 2013”  guide of native vines and wines produced in Italy for over 300 years awarded Tuscany (mostly Brunello di Montalcino) and Piedmont most of this year’s kudos in three categories: Crowns, Golden Stars and Wines not to be missed . The guide will be presented on Saturday  December 1, at 10.30 am at the Teatro degli Astrusi in Montalcino. “This guide’s values of authenticity and strong tradition  perfectly embody the spirit that has always driven our producers for more than 150 years, ” declared the Montalcino Consorzio President Fabio Bindocci
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               Franco Biondi-Santi - photos Simone Diament 

CROWNS
Biondi Santi Franco -Tenuta Greppo - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva Tenuta Greppo 2006
Cerbaiona - Brunello di Montalcino Docg 2007
Col d'Orcia - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva Poggio al Vento 2004
Le Macioche - Palazzina - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva 2006
Le Ragnaie - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Ragnaie V.V. 2007
Pietroso - Brunello di Montalcino Docg 2007
Poggio di Sotto - Brunello di Montalcino Docg 2007
Poggio di Sotto - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva 2006
Poggio di Sotto - Rosso di Montalcino Doc 2009
Salvioni - La Cerbaiola - Brunello di Montalcino Docg 2007
Sesti - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva Phenomena 2006
Siro Pacenti - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva PS 2006
Tenuta Le Potazzine - Brunello di Montalcino Docg 2007
Tiezzi - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Vigna Soccorso 2007
Val di Suga - Tenimenti Angelini - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Vigna Spuntali 2006
GOLDEN STAR
Biondi Santi Franco -Tenuta Greppo - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Tenuta Greppo 2007
Cerbaiona - Rosso di Montalcino Doc 2009
Gianni Brunelli -Le Chiuse di Sotto - Brunello di Montalcino Docg 2007
Il Marroneto - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Selezione Madonna delle Grazie 2007
Le Chiuse - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva 2006
Lisini - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Ugolaia 2006
Mastrojanni - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Vigna Schiena d'Asino 2007
Siro Pacenti - Rosso di Montalcino Doc 2010
Tenuta Il Poggione - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva Vigna Paganelli 2006
VINI DA NON PERDERE
Celestino Pecci
Col di Lamo
Coldisole
Fornacina
Il Poggiolo - Rodolfo Cosimi
La Magia
La Mannella
La Palazzetta
Pian delle Querci
Podere Paganico
Tenuta San Giorgio
Terralsole
Vasco Sassetti
Ventolaio

 

 

 

Last Updated on Friday, 30 November 2012 01:34
 
American Wine Society AWS Commercial Wine Competition Results 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Press Release   
Thursday, 29 November 2012 23:52


An earthy Lodi Zinfandel, a delicate and floral Chenin Blanc from Washington State and a superb sparkler from New York's Finger Lakes were among the top winners at the 2012 American Wine Society Commercial Wine Competition held November 6-8 in Portland, Ore.

The AWS competition is one of the oldest, most respected wine competitions in the country, drawing entries from across the United States and Canada. Contrary to industry trends, this year's competition enjoyed a 20 percent increase in wines entered.

Since this year's American Wine Society national conference and commercial wine competition were held in Oregon, the spotlight was naturally on Pinot Noir. Overall, seven categories judged at the competition yielded a total of 22 double golds, requiring unanimous acclaim by the panel of judges, and 54 gold medals.

The Best of Show winner, also garnering Best Red Wine, was a 2010 Klinker Brick Zinfandel Old Vine Marisa Vineyard from Lodi, California, produced by Steve and Lori Felten – an earthy, rich, deeply flavorful old vine Zin. The 2012 Signature Award Pinot Noir winner was small producer Cottonwood Winery from Oregon's famed Willamette Valley for its 2005 Brigette Catherine, a fine example of Oregon pinot excellence.

Other category winners included:

•       Best white wine: Washington State's Kiona Vineyards Winery 2011 Chenin Blanc.
•       Best dessert wine: California's Ficklin Vineyards 10 years aged Tawny Port.
•       Best sparkling wine: A non-vintage blanc de blanc from New York's Swedish Hill Vineyards.
•       Best rosé: New York's Coyote Moon Vineyard 2011 River Run.
•       Best fruit wine: A non-vintage peach wine from Lone Star Gold of Texas.
•       Best distilled: A limoncello from Oregon's Glaser Estate Winery.

A complete list of winners, including those earning silver or bronze, can be seen at americanwinesociety.org.
The competition was held over two days at the Red Lion Riverside Hotel in Portland in conjunction with the American Wine Society's 45th annual conference. Judges included graduates of the rigorous AWS wine judging certification program along with leading wine writers and other prominent wine professionals.
 
To toast the holidays: Ferrari Metodo Classico; aristocratic Italian sparkling wines PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Monday, 15 October 2012 22:21

 

ferrariEven though it is a common Italian surname, say Ferrari and you’ll conjure images of fast and furiously expensive Italian made sports cars, symbols of luxury and wealth.

No less iconic is Ferrari Metodo Classico, an Italian sparkling wine produced at the foothills of the Alps in Trento DOC, a region in the Val d’Adige bedecked by the beautiful Lake Garda with names like Val di Cembra and Valle dei Laghi at 1000 to 2300 ft. above sea level.

The Cantine Ferrari winemaking company founded in northern Italy’s Trentino region in 1902, over a century ago,  by Giulio Ferrari  has earned a worldwide reputation as the premier source of luxury metodo classico sparkling wines from Italy.  The metodo Ferrari is essentially the same as le methode Champenoise,  with the wine being aged for four to five years.

Ferrari’s best-known wines – Ferrari Brut, Perlé and Giulio Ferrari – are blanc de blancs, meaning they are made from 100% Chardonnay, apparent in their remarkable delicacy and finesse.
A pioneer in Italian viticulture, Giulio Ferrari was the first Italian winemaker and viticulturalist to dedicate his vineyards almost entirely to Chardonnay – and by 1906 the awards had begun to roll in. Ferrari is a 22-time winner of the Tre Bicchieri award, Italy’s highest wine accolade, with the most recent honor going to the 2005 Ferrari Perlé Nero bottling in 2012.
In 1952, Giulio Ferrari, not having any children, entrusted his company to friend and local merchant Bruno Lunelli. Today, the third generation of the Lunelli family is overseeing 300 acres of prime estate vineyards in Trentino and production, in the hands of a capable team of eight winemakers, is led by chief winemaker Marcello Lunelli, four agronomists and members of the family.

These are great holiday wines that pair with anything from smoked salmon to roast turkey.

ferrari 2Ferrari Brut, non-vintage (100% Chardonnay, $25. 12.5% vol.). Medium bodied, soft and creamy with an appealing yeasty toast aroma on the nose with  hints of fresh and dried fruit, wild flowers and minerality balanced by a lively acidity with a touch of pineapple and a faint taste of fresh crusty bread in the mouth.  It pairs well with appetizers, light pastas and seafood.

Ferrari Perlé 2004 (100% Chardonnay, $35. 12.5% vol.).) This is a vintage Blanc de Blanc made with handpicked chardonnay grapes harvested by hand. This wine has spent 5 years on yeast and exhibits a particular intense and delicate bouquet with scents of almond blossom, ripe apples, a faint spiciness and a hint of freshly baked bread.  In the mouth it is well rounded yet crisp and elegant with fruity notes of fresh apples, a touch of citrus and the aromatic flavors typical of Chardonnay.

Ferrari Perlé Rosé 2004 (70-80% Pinot Noir; remainder Chardonnay, $75).

Ferrari Perlé Nero 2005 (100% Pinot Noir, $90).

Giulio Ferrari 2001 (100% Chardonnay, $100).

Last Updated on Monday, 15 October 2012 23:12
 
Marius 2010 Blanc by Michel Chapoutier, Le Pays d'Oc, France PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Monday, 15 October 2012 20:26

 

Marius, a wine as good as the stories about it

Marius 2010 Blanc by Michel Chapoutier, Le Pays d'Oc, France

marius wineFor over 200 years the house of Chapoutier has been producing prestigious wines in the Rhône Valley, wines like Hermitage, Côte Rôtie, Chateauneuf du Pape, Saint-Joseph, Crozes Hermitage.

So I never thought much of opening a bottle of white called “Marius” with an odd-looking label depicting a man from the turn of the 20th century, originating in the generic appellation of Pays d’Oc.

The blends stated on the label, Vermentino and Terret, the screw cap, the name Marius evoking the robustly regional naïf novels of Marcel Pagnol, spoke to me of an easy little white wine to quaff one’s thirst on a hot summer day under a canopy of vine leaves, preferably with good company. So I put it off.

But after all it was a Chapoutier product, so on a whim I decided to open the wine which I first used in a hearty tomato and anchovy sauce for a pasta I was going to have to dinner.  Then I cooled the wine and sat down to taste…

Marius 2010 Blanc by Michel Chapoutier, Le Pays d'Oc, France ($13.99). I was amazed. I could hardly believe that a wine with a pale yellow color with green tints and 12% alcohol could yield such enticing aromas of fresh citrus and ripe fruit and present such an elegant and fruity attack on the mouth balanced with a good minerality, a good acidity and complex hints of rich ripe fruit and a long and elegant finish.

The blend Vermentino and Terret is not your everyday occurrence. Chapoutier chose the Terret for its vivacity and the Vermentino for its smoothness and elegant and floral aromas to express all the warmth and richness of the South of France.

Marius advises to serve this wine between 52 and 54°F as an aperitif or with a meal . I had the wine at 60F and it was perfect with just about anything I had, from the pasta with the robust sauce to later a grilled chicken breast.

Go to  www.mariusbymichelchapoutier.com and enjoy the stories, funny and very well written in the vivid style of the buoyant 19th century. You will know how the Chapoutier Father and Son felt when seeing the Tour Eiffel at the 1900 World Fair in Paris where they were showing their wines, and much more…

 

 
Amaretto, the intriguing and versatile almond tasting liqueur from Italy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Friday, 28 September 2012 21:25

I don’t know why one has to wait for the holidays to open a bottle of good amaretto!

di saronnoThe distinctive bittersweet almond taste (although it contains no almonds or nuts) of this liqueur is intriguing and almost addictive and the amber color is beguiling in cocktails as well as on the rocks.  Amaretto's "secret formula" is unchanged since 1525, and its production remains in Saronno, Lombardy, in Northern Italy where the famed Amaretti biscuits come from.

Disaronno has been in production since about 1900 and the company describes its amaretto Disaronno Originale — it was called "Amaretto di Saronno" (Amaretto from Saronno) until a copyright issue on the name Saronno, forced the company to rename it — as an infusion of "apricot kernel oil" with "absolutely pure alcohol, burnt sugar, and the pure essence of seventeen selected herbs and fruits"; the product does not contain any almonds or other nuts. The amber liqueur is presented in a unique square faceted Murano glass decanter with a distinctive stopper.

The legend of DISARONNO dates back to 1525, when Renaissance artist and Leonardo da Vinci pupil Bernardino Luini was commissioned to paint a fresco in Saronno. To portray the Madonna of Miracles, he chose as his muse a beautiful local innkeeper. She repaid the honor by giving the artist a flask of a fragrant and delicate amber liquor known as amaretto.

Disaronno can be served on the rocks, in shots, as part of a cocktail ( check out the DiSaronno cocktail competition in LA http://lacocktails.com/2012/05/25/disaronno-mixing-star-la-regional-competition/ ) or with a Cola drink or apple and cherry juice.  I love to mix it in cookie dough and cakes.

But here are cocktail recipes for the coming holidays:

di saronno 2SMASHING PUMPKIN

1 ounce aged rum/ whiskey/ cognac
1 ounce DISARONNO
1 heaping bar spoon of pumpkin pie mix
½ ounce heavy cream
1 whole egg

Place all ingredients into a mixing glass. Dry shake (shake without ice so as to 'whip' the ingredients together). Then shake again with ice. Strain into a rocks glass without any ice. Top with freshly grated cinnamon.

 

di saronno 1A BLOODY GOOD TIME

1 ½ ounces Cazadores Añejo.
1 ounce DISARONNO
1ounce fresh blood orange juice
2 ginger dials (muddled)
½ ounce lemon juice
¼ ounce simple syrup
soda
In mixing glass muddle ginger dials with lemon juice. Add simple syrup; blood orange juice, DISARONNO, and Cazadores Anejo tequila.  Shake and strain into a highball over fresh ice.  Top with soda, fold & stir into cocktail. Garnish with lemon wedge.

DISARONNO WINTER WHITE COSMO
1 part DISARONNO1 part GREY GOOSE vodka
1 part white cranberry juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
 
Shake ingredients with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
 
 
ITALIAN EGG NOG
 
2 parts DISARONNO
1 part BACARDI OakHeart Rum
1 part half and half
1 whole egg
 
Shake ingredients with ice. Strain into a highball glass and top with fresh nutmeg.

DISARONNO ITALIAN RUM PUNCH
 
1 750mL bottle DISARONNO
1 750mL bottle BACARDI 8
2 quarts pineapple juice
1 quart orange juice
5 lime slices
 
Place limes in a large bowl and press lightly. Mix in all ingredients and serve over ice. Makes 20 servings.

THE GODFATHER
 
1 part  DISARONNO
3 parts Scotch Whiskey
 
Mix ingredients and pour over ice.
 

di saronno photo

 

Just on time for the holidays:  the DISARONNO2012 Holiday Gift Set with two Italian-designed glasses etched with the iconic DISARONNO bottle image and logo packaged alongside a 750ml bottle of DISARONNO and a list of signature cocktail recipes. The limited-edition set is available nationwide throughout the holidays for approximately  $25.99.

http://www.disaronno.com

Last Updated on Friday, 28 September 2012 21:45
 
St. Supéry Elu Red Meritage 2000, Napa, Fresher and better today... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Tuesday, 11 September 2012 20:11

 

elu st superyThis week, as I was inspecting the contents of the back of my little wine refrigerator to check on what I had in the Bordeaux Red Blends shelf, I found the last bottle of a stash of St. Supéry Elu Red Meritage 2000, Napa, CA.  
Needless to say, I opened it right away to see if it was still as good as I remembered it.
Without even letting breathe I poured myself a glass and immediately was amazed by the brilliant deep garnet/violet red color and by the aroma that pervaded the room.
As sensory memories tend to do and in typical Remembrance of Things Past style, the first sip took me back to St. Supéry in Napa where a few good years ago I had stopped to visit and have lunch with the then director-vintner Michaela Rodeno.
We had tasted the St. Supéry Elu line of wines, red and white, among them the Red Meritage 2000 (80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot – all estate grown), at a delightful luncheon after which we visited the art gallery from which came all the labels.
Today, in 2012, the wine was younger and more expressive with a wonderful harmony and intensity in the aromas of cherry-vanilla, rose petal and cassis. It was fresh and lively in the palate with juicy blackberry, red currant and black cherry notes mingled with subtle mint and spice, ripe and supple tannins well balanced with an elegant acidity. The wine was delicious and rich without being overpowering and the finish was long and lingering.  
Michaela is no longer at St. Supéry  — she is now at the Board of Marin Bank — and the 2000 vintage is sold out, but this outstanding wine with great balance which was so lovely when we first tasted it gives full meaning to the mention “will only improve over the next few years or should age nicely…”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 20:17
 
The Serious Eats Field Guide to Orange Liqueur PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Dietsch - Serious Eats   
Monday, 20 August 2012 16:55

The Serious Eats Field Guide to Orange Liqueur

 

Not all orange spirit is curaçao, or Cointreau…  What is triple sec?  Which is the best orange liqueur or triple sec?

Excellent guide to the much maligned orange liqueurs.

Read more...

 

 

 
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