Despite us being in the heart of rose season, I have yet to recommend any, so here we go! …a quick post on a few of my favorite roses that are worth splurging on this holiday weekend. The Classic: Chateaux Pradeaux … Continue reading
Where there is a lot of wine, there is, in turn, a lot of coffee. Yes, while we do have our handy spit buckets ready at all of our tastings, but as you can imagine, with the late nights on … Continue reading
Once a year, even the wine-o’s have to ditch the fancy glassware (and our moral high-ground), and give in to solo cups and bottomless snacks… and that day is Super Bowl!
American “Holiday” = American wine, so I brought one of my go-to American classics, Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc (2013). It’d be rare to find someone who doesn’t like this wine – it’s straight forward, well-made, crisp, and fruity. Missing are the overly lychee and green characteristics of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, and instead it also gives a bit of minerality and peachy fruit – so refreshing! And since we’re pairing it with all sorts of different finger foods, a more neutral-style of wine works well. The retail on this wine is about $30.
The game had it’s high and it’s lows, but in the long run we all had fun, and a bit of celebrating in the end!
To finish the night I tried the Ciderboys, Mad Bark, Hard Cider. Based out of Wisconsin, these guys are making moves in the growing cider industry in the US. While it was a bit too sweet & flavored for me (note: I’m just in general not a fan of sweeter drinks), I’m definitely in favor of promoting domestic cider, and there are some amazing ones hitting the markets recently! For a NY local favorite, check out Eve’s Cidery, based in Van Etten in the Finger Lakes.
This was the week of snowstorm ‘Juno’ here in NYC, which essentially meant impeding doom: digging boots out of the closet, facing armageddon-esque supermarket lines, and working from home. It also gave us a perfect reason to drink some wine (…not that I need an excuse).
Spanish wines are one of the best values on the market. I’ve never totally understood this, as the wines are beautiful, but I’m not complaining! Perhaps it’s the mystery of the region to us here state-side. There are lots of varietals that aren’t grown outside of Spain, and lots of different labeling terminology to any other country.
Petalos del Bierzo, Crianza, 2012 – $20. This wine has been recommended to me twice by different retailers, and it was about time to give it a try.
Bierzo is a designated region in the north-western region of Spain. This wine is made entirely of the varietal ‘Mencia’, the dominant type of grape in the Bierzo region, and once thought to be a clone of Cabernet Franc due to its peppery and vegetal aromas, and lighter-style of red wine. This wine was a perfect translucent ruby color, and has a strong mid-palate combined with complex fruit & floral flavors. If you care to look at wine ratings, this one took a 90/100 at Wine Spectator.
Unsure what to buy for that dinner party? A gift for a friend? Just something to have a nice meal with at home? I say go Spanish!
Ideal NYC snow situation:
Real NYC snow situation:
January can be a bummer, which makes it a great time to try something new. Since most of us choose to drink our share of big red wines in these colder months, now is a prime time to explore the Rhone Valley. On a cold walk home the other night, I stopped in to pick up a bottle, and found this: Domaine de Bonserine, Cote Rotie, La Sarrasine, Rhone, FR 2004. Wait, Cote Rotie for $19.99?! …let’s discuss…
Cote Rotie is found in the Northern Rhone Valley, where the steep slopes demand high labor costs (i.e. high prices), but create some great wines! The soils are granite-based, and erode quickly – in some cases, the producers must take the eroded soil and put it back onto the hillsides. In case this wasn’t enough to deter winemakers, the wind (the ‘Mistral’), is so strong, that the vines are planted with a teepee-esque support system around them, just so they are able to stay standing. Oh yes, and there’s the hail. Given the challenges here, the Northern wines make up only about 5% of the total production in the Rhone.
The Cote Rotie is the northern-most area, and translates directly as ‘Roasted Slope’. The grape of importance here is Syrah, which produces deep colored reds with full body, spicy notes (black pepper!), and with age show gamey aromas. This wine showed all of these characteristics, and with over 10 years on it, it was even showing chocolate and coffee aromas. The average online price for this wine was $54, so for $19.99, this was quite a deal!
Sidenote: Stumbled into the new Toby’s Estate in the West Village – such a welcoming place. How perfect was this?
Since most people are working during my days off, one of my favorite things to do is simply walk – explore the city, see what’s opening, what’s closing, and discover something new. This week, I didn’t even have to leave my neighborhood before finding a great new store, Back Label Merchants. As soon as I walked in (dropping off my groceries and other finds from the morning at the main desk), the owner and I began chatting about bizarre wines right off the bat. He was so excited about this value-priced gem that I had to pick it up:
Domaine Faillenc, Sainte Marie, Corbieres, 2012 – ~$15
This is Corbières – you should become friends. These are big red wines from the Languedoc region of southern France (check the map), and most wines are composed of Syrah, Grenache Noir, and Cinsault grape varietals. With the Alaric mountains on one side, and the Mediterranean on the other, it creates a pretty ideal environment for grape vines.
Domaine Faillenc is tiny, only about 8 hectares, which converts to about 20 acres, or about 8 city blocks. Originally founded by Dominique Gilbert and his wife Marie-Therese, the domaine is now run by their son, Jean-Baptiste, who has done what was needed to adhere to the standards of an Organic production.
Open this wine, and taste it. Then give it some time to come to life. Leave the bottle open for 30 minutes or more and you’ll be greeted with twigs, deep red fruit, and a briny, oceanic bouquet… like the fall in a beach vacation town. As far as food pairings are concerned, I’d go for almost any roasted meat dishes, especially lamb or pork, but more than anything else with some well-made bread and good olive oil.
Little did I know that the same owners opened up ‘Stinky’, a cheese and beer shop located next door. After much internal debate, I left with this little slice, which packed a big punch! Tangy, bitter, smooth – a little goes a long way (…FYI the flavor is so pungent I could only eat about 1/4 of this before feeling totally satisfied).
I consider it a blessing that I was having this rainy day lunch at home, as after I was done all of my teeth, lips, and tongue were all stained a beautiful deep purple – readers beware, Corbières is a heavily pigmented wine!
What a day to start! Every year the third Thursday of November marks the release of the new vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau. I love the notion of Beaujolais: a reasonably priced, fruity, fresh red wine to give us an uplift as we head into the meat & potatoes of winter. Although it’s taste and structure are reminiscent of Pinot Noir, Beaujolais is made from the grape varietal ‘Gamay’. They also use a special winemaking process called ‘Carbonic Maceration’, where the whole grapes are fermented, which preserves the fresh fruit flavors and avoids bitter tannins. While it is recommended to drink Beaujolais Nouveau by May of the following year, some Beaujolais are built for a bit of aging, especially in stand out vintages like 2000. Beaujolais is hugely popular in the U.S., which no doubt must be linked with the timing of Thanksgiving (I like to serve Beaujolais with a bit of a chill, about 55 degrees).
If you’re looking for a bit of an upgrade, look to the Beaujolais-Village or Cru Beaujolais quality wines. They’re grown in the higher, more granite-dense soils, while the Nouveau is grown on the flatter, more clay-heavy areas. These wines are made in a more traditional method, and the further north you go, the more they begin to resemble the wines of Burgundy.
Here’s a few of my go-to’s:
– Duboeuf, Beaujolais Nouveau, 2014 ($10)
– Marcel Lapierre, Morgon, 2013 ($31) – *love*
– Guy Breton, “Vielles Vignes”, Guy Breton, 2012 ($30)
– Raisins Gaulois, Marcel Lapierre, 2013 ($14)
At 12:01am each year it is legal to release the new vintage, and although the wines have only been in bottle for less than two months, that is exactly the essence of Beaujolais Nouveau. In the 50’s the celebration began as a race, to see which producer could get their bottles to Paris first. Then in the 70’s, legendary winemaker George DuBoeuf began publicizing the event and festivities. The parties have only grown since then, and last night we got to join in the festivities here in NYC.
It was the first stingingly cold night here in Manhattan, but SS and I bundled up and headed to Tribeca to celebrate 2014!
“Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!”