Luca Paretti “Løvo” Brut Prosecco, Treviso, Italy

Oh Prosecco…. Why don’t more people love you? With juice like Luca Paretti, there’s no reason to not celebrate the end of the work day everyday.

You can always find D.O.C. and D.O.C.G. designations on the neck of Italian wines.

This Prosecco is a D.O.C.(Denominazione di Origine Controllata) wine. That’s a guarantee that the producers followed the strictest regulations possible to make it. This designation only applies to Italian wines. In other words, 100% quality.

Løvo(lōh-vōh) is a dry sparkling with steely vibe to match it’s clean, crisp finish. It’s barely fruity with subtle flavors of citrus, stone fruits, and even some tropical fruit like pineapple or passion fruit.

Personally, I love a good bottle of bubbles any day and I don’t need a special occasion to indulge my inner  lush with this spectacularly golden glass of effervescent nectar. This is a great sparkling to have around for surprise company, a Saints victory, or just cuz y’all.

  

Luca Paretti Løvo Brut will cost you $16.99. You can also sip it by the glass at Wine Country Bistro.

5 TV Shows That Drive Me To Drink

It’s not a surprise to anyone that we are influenced by what we see on television and digital media to want to buy… Or drink. We’ve seen a clever ad and then some how, magically, have an uncontrollable urge to use, eat, or drink that product within the next few days. It’s almost like we are being told what to do…..

Now when I say drive me to drink, I’m not talking about a suspenseful plot line or stressing me out about which of my favorite characters will die next(*cough* Game of Thrones *couch*). I’m saying I want to drink what my fictitious friends are drinking while I’m watching whatever shenanigans are happening in front of me. Basically, I don’t feel completely fulfilled in finishing an episode unless I’m having a beer Tim Riggins or drinking all the Dornish wine with Tyrion Lannister. So here are my top 5 TV shows that drive me to drinking:

5. Friday Night Lights and Shiner Bock  

Personally, I think FNL is one of the best shows ever made. And for the record, I’m not even super into football. Coach Taylor taught me a lot about life in 5 seasons. “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose” has been a mantra for me in many situations. But it’s not Coach Taylor, Buddy Garrity, or even the incredible soundtrack by one of my favorite bands(Explosions in the Sky) that make me want to drink. It’s Tim Riggins. The troubled bad boy that can’t find peace is relatable to everyone right? Not me but I just like raising an ice cold bottle of that Texas beer in the air whenever I hear anybody say “Texas forever.” Shiner Bock is the flagship beer of the Spoetzl Brewery out of Shiner, Texas about an hour to an hour and a half out of Austin. Shiner Bock is easy to get and FNL is on Netflix.

4. Treme and Great Raft Southern Drawl

New Orleans is probably one of my favorite places in the world. It’s history, culture, and community pride overwhelm me every visit. New Orleans is more than Hurricanes and Bourbon Street and Treme shows the rest of the world that. The show isn’t action packed like creator David Simon’s previous shows(The Wire and Generation Kill), it about the struggle of chefs, musicians, politics, and the community trying to build their city back just 3 months after Hurricane Katrina destroyed it. Musically, it’s everything New Orleans from Rebirth Brass Band to the street musicians trying to get by. So why a Shreveport beer like Great Raft Southern Drawl with a New Orleans show? Seeing the struggles and triumphs of people building their city back up all the while fighting to keep their traditions of Mardi Gras, festivals and dancing alive makes me proud to be from Louisiana. What better way to show local pride than with a tasty brew from my home town? The entire Emmy award winning series of Treme is on HBO Go. If you’re reading this or live in Shreveport and don’t know what Great Raft is or where to get it, you should probably move to Canada.

(Sidebar: GR broke into the New Orleans and Baton Rouge markets just these last few months and are killing it)

3. Bloodline and Patron Añejo

Friday Night Lights’ Coach Taylor, Kyle Chandler, stars as a protective family man when his black sheep of a brother comes home to their Florida Keys family business and wants in. Shady things start happening and conspiracies arise. The shows tag line of “We’re not bad people, but we did a bad thing.” is enough to draw anyone in. The world dominating tequila brand Patron is all over the show from the Silver to the Añejo. It’s architectural web of secrets and lies around this family are enough to make you want to sip on some Patron Añejo or take a shot of Patron Silver. Bloodline is a Netflix original series and Patron Añejo is readily available at any spirit shop worth it’s salt, and lime, for around $60.

2) Justified and Buffalo Trace Kentucky Bourbon  

This is one of my favorite FX shows ever. U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens, played by God’s gift to swagger Timothy Olyphant, is sent back to his poor coal mining Kentucky town of Harlan from Miami after he shot a fugitive on sight in a quick draw contest. Set in modern day, it’s a roller coaster ride of devastatingly intelligent banter, hill billy organized crime, meth turf wars, and betrayal. People in the show are constantly drinking bourbon and I always get the urge to sip on on of my favorites. You see people drinking Pappy Van Winkle throughout the show so Buffalo Trace is as close as I can get(Pappy is distiller at the Buffalo Trace Distillery). The Justified series is finished now and all seasons are available on DVD and Blueray. A liter of Buffalo Trace Bourbon(liters are the best value for your buck with spirits) will run you about $32-33 a bottle.

1) Game of Thrones and 2013 Pierre Chermette Beaujolais 

game-of-thrones-season-4

Probably the most frustrating show ever made. George R. R. Martin(author and creator of the series)has a super natural ability to get you to love a character, pull for them, and then kill them off. After every episode ends, I have to take an extra glass of wine and 20 minutes to collect myself and process what I just saw. I like to think Dornish wine, which is always referenced, is like Beaujolais. I don’t know why, that’s just where my oenophile mind goes. Probably because its exotically French, fruity, and easy to drink when watching the devastation at Hardhome is tough to swallow. Game of Thrones is available on HBO Go streaming and on DVD/Blu-ray and you can pick up a bottle of Pierre Chermette at Wine Country Bottle Shop for $17.

If you need a weekend binge on TV shows and get hobo hammered while you do it, here’s your starting point.

Wine

How to Wine: 5 Tips for Winning at Wine Tastings

I know that everyone has a preference when it comes to wine. Beverages of choice are such a personal thing that some people have spent years tracking down and honing in on. But what are you missing out on? It blows my mind that some people will pass on tasting a wine because it’s white and not red or vice versa. It almost boils down to economics: you either paid for the tasting or it’s free so by extension , you’re wasting time and money by not tasting everything on the table!  I like to make lists. Here’s 5 tips for getting the most out of your wine tasting experience:    1) Don’t jack with your ability to taste or smell before a tasting. That means save the cologne/perfume for after, don’t brush your teeth and use mouthwash that could dissolve rust from a power tool and wait for the ride home to hot box your car with those cowboy killer cigs. All of those things mess with your ability to accurately taste wine. I know the six people around you would probably appreciate you not trying to cover up whatever you just smoked with a gallon of Bath and Bodyworks finest Pear-Berry scent.    2) Treat it as an opportunity to learn, not as a free pre-game happy hour. Respect the tasting and the time and education of the person pouring for you. Having hosted many tasting myself, there’s a reason we don’t fill the glass up Amy Schumer style. It’s a tasting… If it’s free, that means the house is paying for you to taste that wine. If it’s a paid tasting, that means the house is REALLY paying for the wines they open and pour for you. Ask questions, listen, and pay attention. A lot of times the person pouring wine for you is not from the town you’re in and probably flew or drove in to work that tasting. That being said, It’s totally ok to ask to revisit a wine if you’re on the fence about it. But don’t ask for another shot of wine 5 times. We know what you’re up to.    3) Strike up a conversation with wine pro that’s pouring. They know more wines than the few they are pouring and can probably help you find something if you’re not digging what they are sampling. These people live wine. They study, research, and obsess over wine. They are valuable to you and want you to find something to sip on today.    4) Leave what you think you know about wine at the door and taste with an open mind. Don’t write off a Pinot Noir because you “aren’t into them.” Belle Glos is a completely different Pinot Noir than La Crema. Don’t assume any wine tastes the same because they are the same varietal. And seriously, taste all the damn wines. I get you may not like white wine but this one could be the one that changes your mind. If you hate it, pour it out. That’s why we have dump buckets on the tasting tables. Also, for the record, alcohol abuse isn’t actually something you can get in trouble for outside of college.    5) Never pass up an opportunity to taste. Whether wine is something you’re interested in or not, you are expanding your palate. Tasting more teaches you and your brain to process and differentiate flavors better. It’s not like staying in a Holiday Inn Express or anything but it gives you a better understanding of what you like and don’t like.

Epic Rosé tasting in your backyard

In my experiences in the wine retail world, rosé is most misunderstood style of wine in the world. Or at least Louisiana. “I don’t drink sweet wine,” is the most common write off I hear when suggesting rosé. Some are sweet, yes. But there are a lot, some of my favorites, that are dry and complex. 

 

You can’t learn geography without cracking open an atlas. In that spirit, you can’t understand rosé without cracking open some bottles. Tonight at Wine Country Bistro, there’s a big rosé tasting. 12 rosés for $12. It’s a great opportunity to get in there and try some pink juice. It starts at 5 and goes till 7 at Wine Country Bistro at 4801 Line Avenue in Shreveport, La. I’ll be there, you should be too.

Beard and Barrel went to Spain!

I was lucky enough to to be asked to tour the various vineyard and wineries of the Juan Gil Family in Spain this past June. Because I am a novice traveler, especially world traveler, it has taken me a little more time than I thought to get readjusted to life back home in Shreveport. I do often refer to myself as a hustler and a get it done now kind of guy but I’ll say it was tough getting back to not having dinner from 10:30pm-1:00am. So here it goes.

First of all, it’s worth noting that I before this trip I had never been to a vineyard. This was the first time that I have set foot into a winery. I do think it’s pretty badass that my first trip to a functioning, highly functioning I might add, winery was in Spain. Not California or Washington or even Texas. But friggin Rais Baixas(they grow and produce Albariño there).  

The first vineyards my beard has ever grace in Rais Baxias

It was complete sensory overload to me. The smell of a winery almost smells like a bakery but someone dropped a case of wine on the floor. The huge stainless steel tanks towered over me and sat quietly next to a sorting table and stacks of grape baskets. I felt like I was on an episode of how it’s made when they showed us the intricately mechanized bottling line. The intensity of those moments were so significant because these are things I’ve read about for five years but have never seen in person. The look on my face was complete childlike wonder. 

The towering stainless steel tanks that Juan Gil has custom made for all their wineries. There were about 12 of these at Bodegas Juan Gil.

I was amazed at the scenery on the drives, there were a lot, and the actual vineyards where the grapes grow. At the time I was there, bud break had happened 3 weeks prior. That’s when the grapes actually start to flower. Most won’t we ready to harvest till around September. The soils that these beautiful wines group out of was so crazy. In Rais Baixas and Rueda, the vines grew out of sand. Like on a beach sand. In Jumilla, the Monastrell, grows in direct sunlight out of basically rocks. 

I was showing some southern hospitality to the 100 year old Monastrell vines.

We visited 9 wineries across the country in 5 days. If I wanted breakfast, I had to be up and out of my hotel room usually by 7am and the vans were loaded and left by 7:30. Most of the drives in the morning were about 4-5 hours and the drives in the afternoon were about 1-2 hours. I stayed in a different hotel each night except for the last 2 nights in Barcelona. It sounds much more intense than it was. I was traveling with some amazing people from all over North America that are just as passionate about wine as I am. The whole time I was there, I was in great company and excited for the next stop.

Insert trip photos:

 

The Spanish countryside

  

These aquaducts ran through the entire town of Segovia which was one of my favorite places we stayed.

    

Part of the tour at Shaya in Reuda.

    

The barrel room at Bodegas Juan Gil

  

Lunch time at Bodegas Juan Gil

  

You had me at Jamón. Most restaurants had this set up with pig legs curing behind the bar. Amazing.

  

Look at those vines growing out of rocks!

  

Baby Garnacha grapes

Jordi(the GM of the entire Juan Gil Estate), me, and Migel Gil after an amazing dinner

  

Night life in Spain at a Safari themed bar with Andy from Arizona and Bill(possibly the realest guy around) from Hawaii

  

Beautifully presented in a giant cast iron pan. Potatoes, eggs, wild mushrooms, and sausage.

  

My road warriors and I.

  

After lunch at Bodegas Can Blau

  
  

Super talented yet super awkward street preformer in Barcelona

  

Amazing open market in Barcelona. More fresh fish, just butchered meat and cured meats than you could ever image.

  

Yep. Giant pig head at a food and wine festival on my last day in Spain in Barcelona.

  

 From the trip, my favorite winery to visit was Juan Gil in Jumilla. That’s their flagship winery and the largest. They produce Juan Gil Monastrell out of there and I’d put that wine for $18 up against any Cali red for $20-29 all day, everyday. It has rich dark fruit and spice with curves like a woman out of a Foxxy Shazam video. The alcohol is high at 15% but you don’t taste it. That being said, my favorite wine I had while there, which I have had before, was the Kentia Albariño from the winery Lagarde Condesa in Rais Baixas. There is something romantic about having a glimmering glass of white wine that is crisp and refreshing while the chef is shucking oysters the came from probably no more than 15 miles from the vineyard. Kentia has the incredible tropical flavor of Sauv Blanc without the grapefruit bite and weightiness. 
Now, I’d love to breakdown each vineyard I went to but that post would be insanely long. I’ll say that if you’re interested in hearing about it, shoot me an email at beardandbarrel@gmail.com and we can meet up, I’ll bring a bottle or 3 of Spanish wine and we can clear our schedules and talk it out. H

Beard & Barrel goes to Spain

I am so excited to announce that this Sunday, June 7th, I am boarding a flight and heading to Spain! I’ve been invited to visit and tour the vineyards of the Juan Gil Wine Family throughout the country’s various regions. I’ll be there for five days meeting wine makers, tasting wine and walking through vineyards. This is one of the greatest honors I have had in my professional career. I’m so thankful and excited to taste some of my favorite wines in the world while I’m standing right next to where they are grown. Follow my Instagram, @juddsmithbeardo, for photos and I’m sure that I will have atleast one blog post about it when I get back.

Salut’

2013 Vi Novell, Montsant, Spain

Some of my favorite things in the world to indulge in are pork, wine and whiskey. Like Meatloaf said, “Two outta three ain’t bad.”

  
Here we have a sexy little number from one of my favorite regions in Spain, Montsant. They produce rich and deep reds that can fool you into thinking your drinking some Cali juice if you were blindfolded and couldn’t see the spanish label. Most they produce Monastrell(Mourvèdre in France and ‘Merica) but also some Garnacha and Syrah. 

“Vi Novell” means new wine. And what is pretty righteous about this particular juice is that it is made through partly traditional methods and Carbonic Maceration. CM basically is a process of fermentation that causes the grapes to ferment in their own skins and then burst! How rad is that?! The process usually yields a fruity, acidic wine that’s meant to drink immediately. Since they go straight from making juice to bottle, drink up.

Anyway, the wine right?

On the nose, it seriously smells like someone smoked some delicious peppered meats and handed it to me in a baseball glove covered in dark fruit. Smokey, peppery and fruit rich. Tasting it… It’s a beast. Deep and dark fruits like currant or cassis with that pepper and a little earthy truffle to get your tongue perked up. 

Great with wild game like rabbit or quail but definitely a worthy companion to suckling pork or country ham.

If you dig earthy Cali Cabs or Syrah’s and want to spend about $13 for a bottle, get you some. 

2012 Lard Des Choix Red, Les Champs Libre, Rennes, France

 Probably one of the more interesting wines I’ve come across. “Lard, des Choix” is a French play on words from “L’art des Choix” which means “the art of choice.” Lard = Pig which in turn means I’m already interested in this wine. 

Starting off, if this wine had a gender it would all dude. It’s rustic and rough but still managed to stay clean cut. It’s a blend of Gamay and Syrah. Gamay is best known for being produced in Beaujolais, France. If France had a gangster grape, Syrah would definitely be in the running for the title. It’s produced all over France from the Cote Du Rhone to the Languedoc. 

  
This wine has a huge Gandolf shout of, “You shall not pass” aroma of fresh ground black pepper. It really comes through as a focal point of the palate with hobbit sized notes of new leather,  red bell pepper and plums. 

  
This wine would definitely benefit as a pairing with food. My suggestion would be the bad ass pulled pork tacos I made last night. If you didn’t catch that dinner special last night, I’d say a dish with bacon, pulled pork with brown sugar in the rub or a backyard burger with a sunny side up egg and aged cheddar. 

If you dig on spicy Carmenre from France or South America, give this broseph a shoot for about $23

2013 Zocker Grüner Veltliner, Edna Valley, California

  

I know what you’re thinking… “What the Hell is Grüner Veltliner and why am I looking at it?”

Grüner Veltliner is a special wine to me. It was one that stumped me when I first started in this industry and my customer basically made fun of me for not knowing what it was. “Never. Again.” I told myself.

So this is a type of wine that is generally from Austria, not “give me a coat bro” not “Guhday mate.” Not normally from Edna Valley, Cali, but we’ll take it. Zocker Grüner Veltliner, which is 91 points from Wine Enthusiasts, is pretty close to Austrian style but has a little something different. It smells like a dry Riesling but reminds me a lot of super acidic stainless steel chardonnay. Lots of bright lemon zest, straw flavor and green apple with a dry, acidic finish. Great with spicy foods like crawfish. Say “Hell yeah” Louisiana for something else to make our food more delicious… As if we needed help with that.

For around $20 a bottle, give it try if you’re into dry summer whites and even some village level Chablis.