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. 

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.

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.

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

Cline Cellars Tasting

Yesterday I was able to sit down with the regional rep for Cline Cellars. Now, a lot of people know Cline because of red blend called Cashmere. Cashmere has kind of been the iconic Cline wine in this area of Louisiana over the last couple of year. It’s a blend of mainly Mourvedre(53%), Syrah(25%), and Grenache(23%). Cashmere is so named because of how silky, smooth it is. It absolutely lives up to the name. It also is a wine with a cause. Fred and Nancy Cline have donated over $270,000 to breast cancer research and have an active partnership with Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

Since I’ve sold Cashmere for years, I was looking forward to tasting some of the other wines I’d never had. I was very pleasantly surprise at their drinkability and value.

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First off, lets take Rosé. It’s made from Mourvedre and is part of their “Ancient Vines” series because the vines have been producing fruit for 80-100 years. Super impressive for it’s price point. It has balance to the extreme. Beautiful acid structure complemented with fresh strawberry. This little ditty definitely falls into the Patio Pounder category. For around $10, it’s tough to beat.

Cline also makes a pretty tasty Pinot Noir as well as a Chardonnay. The grapes for both are Estate Grown in Sonoma. Which means Cline actually grows and maintains the grapes on land they own. They aren’t buying their grapes from another winery. Aaand fun fact: La Crema sourced their Sonoma Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit from Cline until very recently. So that means that if you dig on La Crema Chard or Pinot, you should try Cline’s. 

The Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is a crisp one. No oak or butter bomb. Light vanilla and baking spice paired with that golden apple flavor. It’s kinda Cali Chard 101. A good, everyday value for a Cali Chard drinker priced around $12.

ClinePNPinot Noir. Every one loves it so every one wants to grow it. Unfortunately, not every one does a good job of it. That’s not the case here. Cline’s Pinot Noir really delivers for under $15. It’s got all the things I love about Pinot without punching me in the throat. Cola, cherry, and a hint of smokey bacon fat(yeah, I said it) with a silky pajama pants finish. Definitely my favorite of the group.

Fun fact: La Crema used to source their Sonoma Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit from Cline. So that means that if you dig on La Crema Chard or Pinot, you should try Cline’s.

Give me shout if you’re into or have questions about these wines.

Top 5 Sexiest Wines for Valentine’s Day

No Valentine’s Day is complete without a list right? Maybe that’s Christmas. Whatever. But worry not! For all of you in the dark about what to drink this V-Day with ya boo thang, I’ve compiled a top 5 list. Mainly because I like to list things. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.

Top 5 Sexiest Wines Under $30!

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  1. 2013 Idrias Chardonnay from Somotano, Spain $18.99

Picture yourself and your significant other taking a romantic vacation to Spain and staying in a small cottage at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains. The gorgeous view would look like a scene from a 1000 piece puzzle your grandma used to make you work with her. What are you drinking? A Chardonnay that comes from a vineyard that is a few yard from the bed you are sleeping in.

Idrias Chardonnay is a sleek chardonnay with a body build by cross fit. It’s lean and crisp with intoxicating flavors of apple, pear and subtle spice that comes from a Burgundy style oaking process that’ll tease into pouring more.

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  1. Jean Paul Brun’s FRV 100 from Beaujolais, France $19.99

Role playing on words, FRV 100 is meant to be pronounced “F-R-Ves-Cent” and is a French sparkling wine from the Beaujolais Region of Burgundy, France. It’s pink like Steven Tyler of Aerosmith’s favorite color is made from Gamay grapes. Gamay tends to yield a sweet, fruity wine.

This sparkling rose has delicious strawberry and cherry fruit flavors to it and a long finish that just won’t quit. With the added sugar makes this bottle of bubbles less dry than most and it can turn a so-so sushi date into an evening hotter than wasabi. (I am subliminally telling you to pair this with spicy sushi)

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  1. 2012 SloDown Wines’ Sexual Chocolate from Napa, California $26.50

What can you say about a wine called Sexual Chocolate that hasn’t been said already? Maybe… that it’s not a chocolate wine? The guys at SloDown have a crazy sense of humor and an approach to wine making that is completely accessible to a new, younger generation of wine drinker. I mean, they drive around the country in an old Cadillac they rebuild and spray painted.

Sexual Chocolate is a busty, curvy wine with a lot going on in the glass. Here’s what the SloDown guys say about it:

From the guys who brought your daughter home late comes the fifth release of Sexual Chocolate Wine. This is not a wine for the pursuit of balance, this is a wine for the pursuit of having a good time with friends. As the dudes say: “Bursting with intense red fruit on the nose. Massive entry with blackberry, black cherry, dark chocolate and spice with a delicate, smooth finish. Concentrated and complex with flavors that will continued to be teased out. Displays the high quality of the vintage. 60% Syrah, 30% Zinfandel, 10% Petit Sirah.”

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  1. 2012 Babcock Winery’s Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County, California $22.50

If you want a Southern Girl, you have to look in the south. If you want a great Pinot Noir, then look in Santa Barbara. Babcock Winery is one of the wineries that keeps me coming back for more. I can’t find anything wrong with what Bryan Babcock is producing.

This is a wine to impress a date with. You don’t have to wear a suit, but have some respect for the wine and tuck your damn shirt in while drinking it.This is what I, while writing this, decided to call “everyday elegant.” Rich and subtle at the same time. The dark cherries flavors and a little bit of spice will set the mood for you. Don’t screw it up.

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  1. Marcel Martin Tete de Cuvee Cremant de Loire Brut from the Loire Valley, France $27.99

Even though I think you should drink bubbles every day, most people like to save it for a special occasion. When that time comes, like this Saturday, Marcel Martin will make you look like a boss without spending that boss money. Its not technically Champagne because it doesn’t come from Champagne, France but it’s still French from Loire Valley and is made from Chenin Blanc grapes.

The Chenin Blanc creates layers and layers of subtle fruit that you have to slowly undress. The bubbles will tickle your nose while the dry finish will create a thirst that’s only quenchable by another glass. It’s perfect for a 1st course salad dish or light fish entree at your favorite restaurant.

These wines are some of my favorites that I think would be great to celebrate with or to step outside of the comfort zone and try something new on Valentine’s Day. As always, let me know what you think.