Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Terrace View - Bottle Age

Remember the old Paul Masson commericial where Orson Welles says, "We will sell no wine before it's time."? Have you ever had that amazing, ethereal experience that only comes with a mature bottle of wine? Sometimes in the store you'll hear us describing a wine using the term "bottle age". It can be a truly great thing as time in the bottle is a necessary ingredient needed for some wines to fully express themselves.

What happens with bottle age is that various chemical reactions take place, some of the components in the wine such as acidity, tannins, and color pigments, like anthocyanins, interact with each other. The result of these interactions is a mellowing of the wine and the formation of more complex flavors, aromas, and texture. Some wines, including a lot of famous ones, are downright stingy in their youth only to blossom with years of bottle age. It is important to know which types of wines are candidates for aging, these are mostly wines made in a structured, serious style although there are always exceptions.

Happily, you don't have to worry about putting the wine away for years by yourself to enjoy this experience. One nice thing is that some truly beautiful wines make it to a place where they are drinking very well and we are happy to have some to offer.

Here is a short list of excellent wines currently available that exhibit the excellent qualities of appropriate bottle age:

Lopez de HerediaViña Tondonia, Viña Gravonia 2001
François Cazin Cour-Cheverny 2005
Lopez de HerediaViña Tondonia, Viña Tondonia Rosado 2000
Baccano Rosso Toscano 2004
Fattoria Carpineta Fontalpino "Do Ut Des" Toscana IGT 2004
Vestini Campagnano Pallagrello Nero 2003
Sant' Elena Merlot Venezia Giulia IGT 2000
La Grange Neuve De Figeac, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2004
Brocard Chablis Premier Cru Mont De Milieu 2007
Jean-Marc Vincent Santenay Premier Cru Les Gravières 2006 
Chateau Des Tours Vacqueyras Réserve 2005
Capitelle De Centeilles Minervois 2003

You are not going to pay $10 for any of these wines. If you shop wisely, most of these bottles are between $20-$50, a fraction of what you'd pay in a restaurant. Considering the quality on this list there are some real deals here. I hope that you will take advantage and experience one of these wines. As always, if you have any questions, just ask.

btw - Monsieur Welles never said making TV commercials was easy.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Terrace View - Shochu, the Next Big Thing

Do you know about Shochu? Shochu is a beverage from Asia, we see them mostly from Japan, South Korea, or Vietnam. It differs from sake in that Shochu is distilled and is made from a variety of source materials; rice, barley, or sweet potato are common. It is stronger than sake but has less alcohol than vodka, brandy, or whiskey usually coming in at around 25% alcohol (50 proof). We love it here at Windsor and it could just be the next big thing.

We currently have two bottlings to sample from:

Tombo Shochu ($14.99) is from Vietnam and is distilled from barley.

Yokaichi Kome Shochu ($16.99) is from Japan, distilled from rice, and is currently a favorite of the store staff. The aroma is reminiscent of sake, you can smell the faint sweetness of the rice, the palate is very dry and smooth.

These are both very smooth and easy to drink and they are super versatile. You can drink it neat, on the rocks, or enjoy a traditional way of drinking Shochu by mixing it with a little hot water, this brings out the fragrance and some of the distinctiveness of the source material. I like to sip small glasses with a meal and Asian foods are a great partner, you know "If it grows with it, it goes with it." Great pairings are tempura, teriyaki, yakitori, soba, grilled fish, stir fried noodle dishes, and dumplings.

Not to be overlooked is the opportunity to experiment with Shochu in cocktails, this is an exciting area and still fairly new ground. Shochu has a mild flavor and on it's own and mixes well with vermouth, bitters, and fruit juices. A good place to start would be with variations of classic vodka and gin based cocktails. Shochu negoni anyone?