I never really put stock in labels and I don’t shop by them. Yeah, they catch your eye but most of the time I wonder what an extravagant label is hiding. Is it there to look pretty on the shelf and to hide a subpar wine? Maybe. Simple labels are more attractive to me personally because it feels like its more to the point. No flashy distractions from what’s in the bottle.But honestly if you put a pig on the label, I’m going to try your wine. Maybe I actually do shop by labels…
Nose: Red fruit, cherries, briar, lavender
Taste: fresh red fruits, currants, cherries, stems, lavender comes through, medium acidity, medium tannin, short finish
This tempranillo is build for speed. It’s ready to drink now and should be. It has a lot of fruit presence that isn’t competing with the wood/briar/stem flavors that create a beautiful contrast. Structurally, it’s fun and easy. This isn’t a wine to lay down and see how it ages. It is for sure a wine to buy by the case as a house red. Definitely a bargain for burgers, pastas with red sauce, charcuterie or on it’s own.
It’s been too long my friends. Finding extra time to write has been a bit difficult lately but, we’re going to get right back at it. So what’s new? I’ve been working with some new people that are very well educated on wine and have been working in the restaurant/hospitality business for many years. They’ve brought a new set of eyes to my work and helped expose and educate me on a lot things. It’s been a really humbling experience but also extremely valuable. In this business of drinking for a living, you can never assume you know everything. Because someone will always come along and prove you wrong.
Here’s something I’ve been schooled on: Argentina wines. Once believed to be strictly Malbec country with some smatterings of Cabernet. A lot of these wines are starting to give California Cabernet a run for their money. Seriously, the money though. They aren’t $15 a bottle but the $30 Argentina bottles can give a $50 Cali Cab some serious competition. There are are a few that I’ve run into that deliver on a grand scale if you like a big, fruit dense red with a smooth but grippy tannic finish.
Ben Marco “Expresivo” from Mendoza, Argentina is a solid buy at $30. It’s a big, densely fruited red. Opaque in color and aromatically it’s a black and red fruit quaffer. But how does it taste? Bulky and balanced. Lots of dark cherries, blackberries, some baking spice, sweet pipe tobacco, and richly apparent tannins. This is a solid steak night pairing.
My most frequented bar these days is my couch. I’ve had a resurged interest in classic cocktails. I feel like they are the bone structure of modern cocktail culture. The classics are the beverage architecture I build on and tweak. My main stay at home has been an Old Fashion. I’ve even lured a friend or 2 over to visit with the offer of one. Here’s how I make it:
My personal recipe is boozy but I really just use the whiskey and sugar as a constant to test bitters, if that makes sense. But here’s my recipe: 2oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon, a bar spoon of 1:1 simple syrup and 4 dashes of Aromatic Bitters(Angostora) and 2 dashes of Orange Bitters. Drop all those ingredients into a frozen rocks glass and stir with a bar spoon. The frozen glass is part of the craft of it drink. It truly makes the difference. Then I add a large, single cube of ice(specialty ice cube tray you can get just about anywhere) and stir till chilled. Then I take a large swath of Orange peel an express the oils directly over the glass and drop it in. Enjoy.
After spending a significant amount of time in wine cellars this week, it had me thinking about cellar management on a large and small scale. Most of my friends have small wine racks in their kitchen rather than 200 bottle cellars but are they using it correctly? Here are a few, easy guidelines for people that buy wine to drink now or have a few special bottles and are looking to start collecting.
First of all, it’s important to know that just because it’s wine that doesn’t mean it’s will be better in 5 years. How do you know that without being a sommelier or a hobbiest oenophile? Easy. If you spent less than $20 or it has a screw cap(also know as a Stelvin enclosure), it’s meant to be drunk within a year or two max. Here’s why: at under $20 it’s usually meant to be consumed immediately. You wouldn’t pay $50 for something you intended on drinking every single day. If you can, that’s awesome and good for you. With the screw cap, the enclosure itself doesn’t allow the wine to age at the same rate as a cork. There are a few higher end wineries that have gone to all screw caps but most that you will encounter in the local wine market are meant to be enjoyed now.
Next, if you’re going to collect wine, you need to have a place to store it. My suggestion is a cool, dark place like the corner of your closet at least until you can get a wine refrigerator. A rack on your kitchen counter isn’t for wines you are saving for a special occasion. It’s for wines you want to drink on Thursday. With all the fluorescent and natural light as well as the varying temperature due to sunlight and cooking, it could damage the wine. When aging wine, you need to know what wine needs to do that. It’s a consistent temperature and little to no light exposure. Whether you plan to have it on your first anniversary or you fifth, wine needs consistency in storage.
When you do finally make the decision to get a temperature controlled wine refrigerator, you’ll need a system. I think one of the easiest systems is the rubber band system. It’s easy. All you have to do is put a rubber band on the neck of bottles you are saving or that are more expensive so that you and everyone else that has access to you selection knows that those aren’t to be touched. It’s so easy because no matter how many bottles you’ve had, you can always feel that rubber band when you reach for the next bottle.
These are laws but they will for sure help you get started in you wine pursuits.
If I can lay my cards on the table, I love Spanish wine and I’m pretty sure that’s not a secret. I fell in love with them a few years ago because I couldn’t afford the good stuff(still can’t FYI). For what I could spend, I didn’t like a lot of the stuff from California at the time. One day my boss turned me on to a little Tempranillo from Rioja and I was completely sold. So that’s my back story with the region. On to the point.
CVNE(pronounced Cune) has been making this Monopole Blanco the exact same way for over 100 years. I’m told it was also the first ever white wine sold in Spain. That’s pretty serious commitment to tradition.
Real talk: It blew me away when I tasted it. Mainly because most of the buzz about wines coming out of Rioja are about the Reds. You know, Crianzas and all that jazz. Vareitally it is 100% Vera and it is everything I like in a white wine.
Nose: Fresh Apircot, chalk, Wet Stone
Taste: Bright but balanced acidity, lots of symmetry with the fruit and minerality, crisp/clean finish
(Reminds me a lot of Muscadelle)
Pairings: light pasta with olive oil and tomatoes, charcuterie(if in Spain Jamón, the Margarita Extra pizza from Frank’s Pizza Napolentana
Available for $15.99 at Wine Country Bistro & Bottle Shop
Oregon isn’t necessarily known for it’s Sauvignon Blanc. When you think of that varietal, your mind usually wonders to New Zealand, France, or even Napa Valley. Oregon is world famous for their Burgundian styles of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Through what we’ll call research, sharing a bottle or two with some friends in the wine biz, I found out that before the great Oregon Pinot craze there were actually a lot of Sauvignon Blanc planted. Pinot Noir got popular and they pulled a lot of it Sauv Blanc out and replanted the Pinot. Thankfully we have producers like Patricia Green.
Patricia Green is a pretty well respected name in Oregon Pinot Noir. She makes many single vineyard Pinot Noirs that are a bit pricey but definitely well worth it to anyone who is a fan of the region. But we’re not here to talk about her Pinots. This Sauvignon Blanc blew my mind.
On the nose, it has the most beautiful tropical skittles fragrance. Dead serious. No grapefruit or green bell pepper. Full notes of passion fruit and kiwi.
Those flavors come through on the palate perfectly. Acidity is very present so that the sugar-sense of all those rich fruits don’t over power the mouth-feel. Most of the time, a wine with this profile will fool you into thinking it’s sweet. That is definitely not the case here. Fresh, fruity, and crisp are the only things you’ll be able to think about in regards to the finish. That and wondering how many bottles you’ll be able to keep.
It’s great wine to pair with humidity, which we have plenty of around here in Shreveport, Louisiana. Also try it with arugula based salads, your favorite sushi roll or shellfish.
I’m slowly becoming acquainted with Italian wines. In the past I would just tell you all Italian wines taste like band-aids, are way too dry, and have too much acidity. Slowly I’ve come to the see the beauty that is Italian wine. Still, I consider Italy to be my weakest subject in the wine world. That being said, I do take every opportunity I can to taste and learn about the region. Speaking of, check out this one:
Bovio “Il Ciotto” is a Barbera. That’s the grape varietal. As of 2000, it is the 3rd most planted grape varietal in Italy. D’Abla means “of Alba” which is an grape growing area in Italy. You may have seen this Italian regional terminology on Moscato d’Asti bottles. That means it is a Moscato from Asti. Now that we’ve all passed Geography, on to the juice.
On the nose, this Barbera smells like the gooey filling of a cherry tart with a hint of Thyme. Drinking this wine is an adventure. Starting with an attack bright acidity, its quickly followed by cherry and pomegranate, lightly herby, and a rustic-tannic finish. Rustic because it’s not velvety but the balance on this thing is incredible. Acid, dryness, and texture. Bovio hit through the cycle on this one.
It’s $20 and a great bottle to have with pizza or seared duck breast.
Just a small update:
I’m not usually one to make excuses but every now and then I find a good one to stick to it. I took an unannounced break from blogging during the holiday season because of the insane amount of busy we were in the retail shops as well as a huge, personal life event.
I got married to this super hot lady. Which was completely, and continues to be, legendary. Speaking of hot ladies, try wine:
2013 Revelry Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington $19.99
Bold blue and red fruits with some pipe tobacco, spice, and silky tannins. Perfect for a pork chop. Don’t wait on it because it’s Merlot. Drink the crap out of it because it’s a boss Merlot.
Now that I’m settling back into things as normal, I’m getting back to my passions. New Star Wars novels, mobile gaming binges, and wine. I’ve got some pretty cool things in mind for this year and I’m excited to get to work. In my blog hiatus, I have continued to write beverage columns for some local magazines: SB Magazine and Shreveport Magazine.
In March, SB Magazine will run my article on Washington State Wine Month(which is obviously March) and the next issue of Shreveport Magazine will feature an article I wrote on last year’s Derby Day and how bummed I was that I couldn’t actually attend it because I had to bartend it. This year’s Derby Day is coming up and tickets are on sale now. Stay tuned for more reasons to drink!