Delicioso Tempranillo, Spain 2015

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…

Sight: Ruby-Garnet 

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.

Don’t Worry, I’ve Been Drinking Lately.

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. 

When to Cellar: Worth the Wait?

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.

2014 CVNE Monopole Blanco, Rioja, Spain

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

Patricia Green Sauvignon Blanc, Willamette Valley, Oregon

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.

2013 Bovio “Il Ciotto” Barbera D’Alba, Italy

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.

Getting Back To Neutral

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! 

Wines for Winning Thanksgiving

Last year around this time, I started this blog with a list of my top wines for Thanksgiving. It’s been a fun year of writing about wine and my shenanigans while drinking wine so I will press on and get you some great juice ideas for the day. In random order, here we go:

Francois Montand Blanc de Blanc, France $19.99

I love sparkling wine so much that I affectionately refer to it as bubbles. The huge misconception, despite my trying still goes on, is that it’s all Champagne, expensive, and only for special occasions. False, false, and definitely false. The accessibility sparkling has to food pairings is just as unlimited as your imagination. Clean, crisp, with a slight yeast flavor and minerality for days makes this wine an easy beginning to a meal or the perfect accompaniment to complaints of having eaten too much after dinner is over. 

Seven Hills Merlot, Walla Walla, Washington $41.50

If you think Merlot is some bastard grape varietal that should only be drank by those that buy their wines at Walmart, then you are horribly mistaken. There are some cheap Merlote out there, but there are some cheap Cabs and Pinots too. 

This bad boy isn’t cheap and is completely delicious. Since Washington State Merlot tends to give us softer tannins than California, you’ll get a more elegant finish here. Soft and delicate. Before the finish though, there will be some big and robust fruits with hints of oak and flourishings of earth. Perfect density for keeping up with turkey and tons of flavor to stand with anything you can put cranberry sauce on. Probably my personal favorite this year. I’ll be having a glass or 2 Thursday.

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier, California $14.50

I can’t help myself. I love this wine. I always have. It  is a go to for me with tough pairings because it is so versital. Peach, honeysuckle, and white flowers can go beautifully with fish or even a dessert like sweet potato pie.

2014 Cellars Can Blau “Blau,” Montsant, Spain $13.99

Go figure, I’d put a Spanish wine on this list. Well I did.

Blau is a blend of Mazuelo, Syrah, and Garnacha(Grenache to the rest of the world). It sees only 4 months in French oak barrels just to give it a little tease of vanilla. It has some great lavender, blue berry, and plum flavors. It’s not super heavy like a Petite Sirah, but it’s just a hair weightier than your average Cali Pinot Noir. Take me seriously and try it with anything that’s meat coming off the grill or… Pecan Pie. Seriously.

All of these wines are available at Wine Country’s Bottle Shops for the prices I mentioned. Drink plenty and have a happy Thanksgiving!

2014 Mayu Pedro Ximénez, Elqui Valley, Chilé

I know that seems like a lot of nonsense for a wine blog post but all will be explained. I stumbled upon this fresh Chilean white wine while tasting random new stuff with one of my vendors. He wasn’t going to show it to me because he was sure I was going to hate it. Luckily, fate intervened. So here we are with this random varietal that sounds like some guy’s name. This is what you need to know:

Pedro Ximénez(Hee-man-nenth) is a varietal that typically grows in Australia, Spain, and Chilé. Australia and Spain use the grape to make fortified wines like Sherry. That’s why this one caught my mouth. This is the opposite of a rich, dessert wine.  Mayu is a fresh, light white wine. It shares similarities with Pinot Gris and Albariño with a little Sauvignon Blanc thrown in. Lemon zesty with Asian pear and blissful minerality. The acid on the back end is copious and perfectly compliments it’s white floral aromas.

Drink it with sushi or a salad with some ginger in it. Alternatively, you could take a page from my book and just pound it on a patio paired with a beautiful day.
Mayu Pedro Ximénez will keep your wine budget in line at $11.99 a bottle. The only problem is that you will probably go through a few at a time.

Another Epic Shreveport Magazine Article

I’ve been extremely lucky to be able to write for multiple publications over the last year. The first magazine I ever got to write for and actually got a physical copy of the issue was the inaugural issue of Shreveport Magazine. They are kind of responsible for making me take this whole blogging thing seriously. I also wrote one of my favorite articles to date for their latest issue.

Music has always been super important to me. I would search for hours online for any extra content that involved my favorite bands. It could have been an interview with the drummer about his gear preferences or a full track by track explanation of what each song was about. I devoured it. Wine has become equally important to me. I can get chills listening to a new song from one of my favorite artists or hearing the story of bottle of wine from a producer that I adore. In the spirit of a passion for music and wine, I wrote this article.

BBshrevemagdiptic

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Lunch time at Bodegas Juan Gil on a Beard and Barrel trip to Spain.

It was so much fun to combine the experience of my wine trip to Spain with some local bands I really dig. Instead of pairing wine with food, I paired Bodegas Juan Gil wines with songs from Shayliff, Lish Starshine and the Spirit Animals, and Irene and the Sleepers. Listen to the tracks and sip on the suggested wine for the full experience. I’ve linked the songs on in the band’s names. Pick up a bottle of the wines at Wine Country Bottle Shops and let me know what you think.

There are also some really great articles about bar programs in Shreveport, local farm to table restaurants and the importance of knowing where your food comes from, and a beautiful profile of some Shreveport locals by All Y’all. You can grab a physical copy of the magazine at multiple locations around town for FREE. Specifically: Zocolo Neighborhood Eatery, Wine Country Bistro & Bottle Shop, Wine Country Bottle Shop at Twelve Oaks, and Rhino Coffee.