Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Shopping Made Easy

So now we're into the Holiday Season. Wine makes a great gift and perhaps you're thinking about giving a bottle to a business associate, friend, or family member. Here are some suggestions that are good for both experienced wine drinkers and novices alike, it's a selection for the Holidays of the best of the best.

1. Barolo and Barbaresco. Nebbiolo is the top grape from Piedmont, Italy and the best ones are so good and justifiably famous that they aren't classified by the grape varietal at all but by these names of these two small communes. Superior aromatics are a hallmark of these wines and words like dried cherries, leather, roses, tar, cinnamon, and tobacco come to mind. In general you'll find that Barolo tends to produce a slightly bigger, darker, and earthier wine than Barbaresco, which is a little leaner and more delicate. Great choices are Barolo from Brovia, Cogno, and Burlotto as well as Barbaresco from Produttori Del Barbaresco and Cascina Della Rose.

2. Brunello Di Montalcino. In Tuscany, the most prized reds are from the town of Montalcino where a local (and considered superior) clone of sangiovese is grown and made into Brunello. These wines are ripe, full, and powerful yet elegant, graceful and aromatic at the same time, a combination that makes them highly prized in the wine world. We have Altesino's 2004 which is sublime.

3. Napa Valley Cabernet. With their big, forward flavors and mouthfilling texture, cabernets from Napa are loved by a lot of wine drinkers. The best ones generate complexity from notes like cedar and mint leaf to go along with the ultra ripe, blackberry tinged fruit. Some selections to consider are Corison, Cultivar, Chappellet, and Bell.

4. Chateauneuf Du Pape. Considered the best terroir in Southern France for serious red wines, Chateauneuf Du Pape has the ripeness, body, and complexity that rank it with the world's greatest wines. Full, dark fruit is mingled together with savory herbs like thyme, sage, and rosemary. If a Cotes Du Rhone is your thing, try one of these.

5. Pinot Noir. Pinot noir is a noble grape and in Burgundy it's the Holy Grail for serious wine enthusiasts. Unrivaled complexity and a myriad of variation as you go through wines from village to village keep drinkers passionate about pinot noir for a lifetime. Cheveaux Clos De Vougeot (a Grand Cru) and Bouley Pommard Premier Cru "Les Fremiers" are just two examples. Also excellent to try are two stellar Sonoma wines like Chasseur "Joyce" and the legendary Hanzell Vineyards.

I hope that you are able to give the gift of one of these great wines to a worthy recipient this year or better yet, someone gives one to you!

Happy Holidays,

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Some of the most challenging wine questions we get every year have to do with Thanksgiving. A Thanksgiving meal is a usually a large, casual affair with a lot of different dishes and trying for the perfect match for specific dishes can be misguided. I like to serve several wines that are food flexible and non-fatiguing. Here are some strategies that can make your holiday meal more successful.

Try apples to start. Hard cider or apple wine is a perfect fall beverage and a great starter to turkey day. We have some West County Cider ($16.99) from the Berkshires and Wolffer Apple Wine from Long Island ($10.99), both are excellent.

Drink American. Many folks think that this classic American holiday deserves a homegrown wine and that's a great idea! Excellent choices are pinot noir from Oregon, California, and the Finger Lakes, gamay like Edmunds St John Bone Jolly ($18.99) or something unique like the Heitz Grignolino ($17.99).

White wine, really? Emphatically yes! Poultry and a full-bodied white is a classic so it's an excellent opportunity to have a white on the table. First choices would be Oregon pinot gris and domestic riesling.

Don't worry, serve several wines.
Thanksgiving is a big meal and if you have several guests it's enjoyable to have some different wines on the table. Experiment, relax, and have fun!

Don't forget the dessert wine. The sweet and savory flavors of pumpkin pie are perfect with an unctuous dessert wine. I love Eden Ice Cider ($29.99 for 375ml) from Vermont, if you haven't had an ice cider, you're missing out!

On the days before Thanksgiving we'll have a lot of our favorites on the floor for easy pickings so take a look.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Spanish Wine: Value and Character

We are always happy to find wines that have good quality at a good price and even more so if they offer some interest and character. The wines from Spain definitely fall into this category. It's not surprising, Spain has a long history of wine production and a great wine and food culture. What is surprising is that some of these wines aren't more popular. Sure everyone knows Rioja and perhaps Cava, but not the vast quantity of great and affordable wines from a myriad of other regions.

Spanish wines come in a wide range of styles and one thing they are really great at is bridging the gap between old world and new world. Frequently the wines have a ripeness and forwardness that pleases fans of the modern style while retaining enough earthy, spicy flavors to appease the traditionalists. Aging the reds in oak barrels is a common practice, mostly in American barrels or a combination of French and American wood, with a lot of wines seeing a balanced approach that compliments the fruit rather than overwhelming it.

Here's a great list of wines to try along with their respective grapes and places of origin.


Seculo Blanca 2010, godello and dona blanca from Bierzo - $9.99
Eidosela 2010, albarino from Rias Baixas - $14.99
Blanco Nieva 2010, verdejo from Rueda - $15.99


Menguante 2008, garnacha from Carinena - $11.99
El Posadero 2010, tempranillo/syrah from Madrid - $11.99
Lorca 2008, monastrell from Bullas - $11.99

Labraz Rioja 2010, unoaked tempranillo - $12.99
Pinuaga Nature 2009, tempranillo from Castilla - $14.99

Sinergia Barrica 2007, monastrell/cabernet sauvignon from Valencia - $14.99
Vinedos De El Seque 2008, monastrell/syrah from Alicante - $14.99