It’s Been Too Long

It’s been a while and I apologize. My life got a little busy with a new baby. He’s awesome and I love being a dad. While I’m a dad now, I’m still pretty stoked about my job. I’ve been tasting through a lot of wines and spirits and found a few gems. Here’s some of my favorites:

Caperitif, Swartzland, South Africa


So I know this one sounds weird and out there. Stick with me because this is worth a taste. This is basically like a vermouth. It has a Chenin Blanc based fortified wine with 32 different botanicals from South Africa. Chenin Blanc is one of the largest produced wines coming out of the region. It sometimes goes by the name Steen. Caperitif is an amazing aperitif on it’s own with a twist of orange or lemon. BUT, it makes a great cocktail. Try it with a barrel aged gin.

Erna Schein “The Frontman,” Napa, CA 2014


88% Merlot/12% Cabernet Sauvignon 

This winery makes some serious wines that are crazy fun. My first introduction to Erna Schein was their Saint Fumee red blend. It, exactly like Frontman, has an incredibly gorgeous label. Frontman is a right bank Bordeaux style blend with Merlot dominating. Lots of depth and density. Black and blue fruit on the nose with some dark chocolate. Blackberry and blueberry with some spicy oak in the palate. Medium acidity and medium tannins with a velvety finish. All this make Frontman seem unapproachable to a novice wine drinker. I think this is actually a great special occasion wine for the amateurs that cane really cultivate an appreciation for nicer wines. It’s not cheap, but it’s totally worth it.

Great Raft Brewing’s Creature of Habit Coffee Imperial Brown Ale, Shreveport, LA

Sorry I don’t have a photo of this, I end up finishing them before I can snap a photo. I got this one from the Great Raft Brewing site.


It’s no secret that I love GRB. This is probably one of my favorites that they do. I think the new recipe perfects the beer. Brewed with locally roasted coffee beans, the new recipe increased the alcohol content. It’s got some great roasted coffee note, nice maltiness, and a silky finish. I don’t think I’m off base by saying this is a killer breakfast beer.

Cesar Florido Moscatel Dorado, Chipiona, Spain


I have to confess, I didn’t find this wine. My colleague, Mario, introduced this wine to me at a South American wine dinner of all things. This is a fortified dessert wine and man, it’s uhh-mazing. There’s a little of forest floor/decay on the nose. I know this sounds off putting but it really balances out the heavy caramel, candied sweetness. It was served with crepes with a dulce de leche sauce. Absolutely divine pairing.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

ClineLineup

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.

Wine Review: 2012 Bonny Doon ‘Contra’

Randall_Book1Bonny Doon’s wine maker Randall Grahm is an all around California Wine OG. In 1989 he was dubbed “The Rhone Ranger” by Wine Spectator because of his mastery of those varietals, types of grapes, normally grown in the Cote Du Rhone of France(Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre to name a few). That spark started a big fire. Because of that, there is actually a group of around 200 wine makers in Cali that are called “The Rhone Rangers” and they are committed to the cause of growing and producing those varietals exclusively. He is also a James Beard Award winning author in 1994 as well as was inducted to the The Culinary Institute of America’s Vintner’s Hall of Fame in 2010. Needless to say, he knows(and makes) great wine.

Bonny Doon Contra

Today, we are tasting his red blend “Contra.” Some red blends will tell you how much of which grape is in it. Here’s the breakdown: 56% Carignane(Care-in-yahn), 17% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 17% Mourvedre, 1% Cinsault(Sin-so). All are Rhone varietals. Those crazy Rhone Rangers.

I’ll break it down into 2 sections: Nose and palate. The nose is obviously the delightful aromas that are going to flood your nostrils and the palate is going to be what you actually taste.

Nose: This wine has huge aromatics. Right after I opened it, there was a ton of smoked meat/bacon, tangy dark cherries and white pepper fighting for attention.

Palate: The depth in this juice is pretty crazy. Right off the bat, that cherry flavor is present and accounted for. It’s followed up by a little brininess(think black olive. Don’t freak out about that, it works beautifully) and a long, juicy finish that has just little hints of cedar after you finish your sip(or gulp). Body wise, it’s definitely not over weight and needing to hit the treadmill. It’s got some sexy curves that could stand up to a rib eye steak or even venison.

After about 30 minutes, flavors evolved to dark cocoa and light cinnamon spiciness.

The next day, if you had any left over, super bold fruit had taken over the spiciness and toned down that cocoa flavor.

Definitely pick this wine up. Great stuff at $17 a bottle and something that can stand up over a day or two. If you are interested in buying it in the Shreveport-Bossier area, email at beardandbarrel@gmail.com and I’ll get you taken care of.