Pet-Nat. Why it’s trendy, and why I’m totally cool with that.

Pet-Nat, or “Petillant Naturel” as it is more formally known, has made a strong appearance in the wine scene in the past few years – and for good reason. This winemaking method, also known as “Methode Ancestrale”, results in a … Continue reading

The Changing Face of California

In light of an article that came out in the New York Times Sunday Magazine several weeks ago, I think it’s worth mentioning what is going on in California right now. If you have a few minutes, and want to … Continue reading

Drinking Local Part 1 – Long Island Wines

Is eating & drinking local trendy? Well, yes, but about as trendy as it has been in every other country outside of the U.S. since forever. There’s something bizarre in the fact that we don’t drink local products, but I’m … Continue reading

‘Juno’ it’s wine time!

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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. DSC00141

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:

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Real NYC snow situation:

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Cheers,

A

Winter Warmer

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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… Rhone Map

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!

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Sidenote: Stumbled into the new Toby’s Estate in the West Village – such a welcoming place. How perfect was this? 

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Cheers,

A

Corbières: Bring Your Toothbrush

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 FIMG_3652.JPGaillenc, 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.

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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.

IMG_3657.JPGLittle 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!

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Break it Down: Legs and Lees

Nobody likes a pompous wine writer, blabbering on in vocabulary that is above the heads of their audience, but I fell in love with this title, Legs and Lees, and couldn’t let it go. When I sent the link to my mother, it was met with a request to “explain the name of the blog to the uninformed”. Today I will do just that. Cheers Mom!

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Legs: (or ‘tears’) are the leftover wine on the glass when you’ve swirled your wine around. These are a basic indicator of sugar and/or alcohol content – as the alcohol evaporates, the wine-water mixture on the glass starts to fall back to the base of the glass due to gravity. If I can let my inner-nerd shine a bit, this is called the Gibbs-Marangoni Effect. (More info – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marangoni_effect)

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Lees: …are much less elegant. Lees are everything that is left behind in the wine due to the winemaking process – we’re talking dead yeast cells, stems, skins, and seeds. However, what’s beautiful about them is how they can enhance wines. White wines are commonly left in contact with lees when they are in oak barrels, resulting in different flavors being created and adding richness and body to the wine. En Francais, on dit ‘Sur Lie’. This method is used for wines meant for aging, and is engrained in the Champagne production method (but more on that later).

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