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.

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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.

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

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

2011 Joseph Jewell Halberg Vineyard Pinot Noir

  

I’ve always refered to Pinot Noir as the great red wine equalizer. It’s not too heavy for someone who likes lighter style reds and it’s not to light(depending on the producer) for the crowd that digs the heavy set wines like Cabernet or Merlot. Accessibility is how I would pitch them. Normally I throw out wines the are in an everyday range($9-19 per bottle), but every now and then you need to treat yo self. 

Joseph Jewell has multiple single vineyard Pinots that all have their own character. (Single Vineyard means that the grapes that make up the wine come from 1 vineyard in 1 place from 1 area in 1 county in 1 state from 1 country) I had the opportunity to taste the Russian River Valley’s Halberg Vineyard Pinot Noir. 

Nose: flint, eucalyptus, cherry tart, wet stone

Palate: very elegant, finessed fruit, cherry with a slight minerality and balanced but with a slightly higher acidity and a light-medium body

This is a total gem at about $55 a bottle. Although, I don’t think this wine is for everyone. Pinot Noir enthusiasts would fall in love with this very small 147 case production wine. Now I’m not talking about the Wagner Family wine drinkers of Belle Glos or Meiomi Pinot Noirs. I’m talking about your Morgan single vineyard drinkers or Arcadian out of Santa Lucia Highlands. 

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.

How to Wine: But First…

One of my absolute favorite pastimes is sitting at a friend of mine’s house while we drink wine and talk about how to change the world or at least up the game. I think I always leave feeling empowered to do great things. And that’s the wine talking.

Last time we had this dinner/wine/infant fest(that’s people, in your late 20’s slash early 30’s, all of your friends seem to have babies), I started thinking about the wines we drank and how I wished we had opened the second bottle before the first. What does it matter, you ask? We drank the bigger wine first and made the second kind of subdued. Then I thought to myself, “Hey! Maybe some people want to know more about the order you should taste(or drink) wine!” And that’s brought us together today.

Believe it or not, there is a method to our wine-ness. The very basic rule of thumb is lightest to heaviest. We’re talking density here, not color. Most of the time you’d want to drink white wines before reds. Unless it’s sweet. Sugar will destroy your palate and add a sweetness to EVERYTHING else you taste. Sometimes it can make a rustic, earthy wine seem much fruitier than it is. Then, after you finish that wine, you’ll still have no idea what it really tastes like.

So here we are at fun dinner at a friends house and we’ve got 4 wines. A nice Cali Pinot Noir, a bold Cabernet, a crisp Pinot Grigio and a jammy Zinfandel blend. What to do, what to do?

wine-tasting

Uhhh…. Wait, what?

Start with your Pinot Grigio. Typically they zesty and fresh with a light body. Easy drinking and gets you loosened up for some serious wino-ing. Next should be the Pinot Noir. These are the delicate flowers of the wine world. (Well, unless you’re drinking the super big ones like the Belle Glos Pinots) These tend to be lighter, fruiter reds with a very smooth finish.

Now here’s the real dilemma : Cabernet first or Zinfandel blend. They are both bigger wines than the first two. But which is the biggest? Go Cabernet first. Usually they have an elegant style with big red fruits and a slightly dry finish. Most of the time it’s a toss up on the depth of a wine unless you’ve had it before. You’re not going to ruin anything if you’re wrong. I promise. Go with your gut. Or whichever label is the most brutal.

Finish up with the Zin blend. They are famous for rich, jammy fruit and usually have a grape like Petite Sirah, Petite Verdot, or even Merlot or Cab to bulk it up so that it has a huge mouth feel.

Other good rules:

If you buy and really nice, more expensive wine you’ve been eyeing, drink that first or second. As you drink more, the alcohol takes effect and your palate gets worn out. You won’t be able to taste everything that it’s showing you.

Having a bigger red at the end? Go ahead and open it up early so it can breath a bit. Oxygen can really open up a wine that’s not quite ready yet. That means more bigger fruit, complexity, and depth. I mean who has years to wait on wine to be ready, I’m ready now dammit!

Truly, you should always drink what ever wine you want, what ever way you want, when you want. Keep an open mind though, you never know what you’ll find.

As always if you have any questions, shoot me an email at beardandbarrel@gmail.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter for new posts.