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Cabernet Franc…. The next big thing

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I know it’s been a seriously long time since my last blog but if I’m going to come back then I am going to come back strong and with my favorite grape.

Ok, if you know me, then you would know that Cabernet Franc is my favorite grape. I think that Cabernet Franc is one of those grapes that doesn’t get the same reputation and acclaim as Cabernet Sauvignon, and no these two grapes are not the same!!!!!

Now you must be wondering, why is Cabernet Franc your Favorite grape? Well to answer that question, I. It’s first say that I love the “funky” quality of the Cab Franc grape. I just love how earthy and dark and rich the wine is.

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The picture above is from my favorite winery in Napa, Pride Mountain Vineyards. The winery is amazing, it sits on the border between Napa and Sonoma counties, and because of this they have to pay double the county taxes because they grow and produce wine in both Counties. The winery itself does not produce many bottles so they prefer Quality over Quantity. This is ever true for Cabernet Franc because they do not have many parcels dedicated for this grape. They also do not sell this wine to stores, only to their wine club members. I was lucky and fortunate enough to get a bottle when my girlfriend and I went there. Usually the winery sells out of the wine within the first few days because of their wine club members, but the owner of the winery gave his personal stock of Cabernet Franc wines so that it can be sold at the winery visitors’ center.

The wine itself is dark, rich, and deep ruby color. On the nose I get earth, oak, leather, and tobacco. On the palate, it’s earthy, with dark rich red fruit with a hint of pepper. With nice tannins that are well balanced and structured, the wine has a long finish and can be aged for years to come. Needless to say my girlfriend and I have a bottle that we are keeping for a future date.

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Are Super Tuscans super heroes??

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Is there something super about Super Tuscans? Is this wine made for super heroes?? Does this wine give me super powers when I drink it??

Well we can answer all these questions with a no.

Well with all those questions answered very easily, what is a Super Tuscan Wine then??
Of course these wines are first and foremost made in the area of Tuscany. As compared to Chiantis, which are other wines made in Tuscany, Super Tuscans do not adhere to the laws set by the DOC or the DOCG. Also the primary grape used, and predominately only grape used, is Sangiovese. In Super Tuscan wines Sangiovese is not the only or predominant grape used, other grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, are used in the blend of these wines. By using these other grapes, winemakers are not confined to the laws and traditions of the DOC or DOCG.

In my opinion some Super Tuscans are better than Chiantis. If you love a full body red, with character and quality, then I say buy a Super Tuscan and try it for yourself.

Try a taste of Italy.

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Time for Bubbles!!!!

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Champagne!!! Bubbles!!! What can be better??!!

I know it has been some time since my last blog, but I felt why not come back in a great way and what better way than Champagne!!!

Who doesn’t love bubbles?? It makes you happy when you see it and even better when you drink it. I believe that champagne is not only a drink to have during the holidays. I always think that every day should be a holiday and should be celebrated in the best way possible.

I always hate when people mistake Prosecco or California sparkling wine for champagne, or they use the word champagne for any sparkling. The law is that wine can only be called champagne if it is only made in Champagne, France. Now within the region of champagne each area is rated on a point scale out of 100. Areas which rate 99-100 points are considered Grand Cru, areas that are 90-98 points are considered Premier Cru, and areas rated 80-89 are considered regular champagne. Keep these point scales in. Ind once I start describing the Champagne.

First I want to explain that this specific Champagne House, AR LeNoble, is a rarity in the sense that is family owned and operated since it’s beginning in 1920. Most big names like Veuve Cliquot and Mo√ęt (which are ok but not my favorites) are run and operated by big name corporations. They lost sight of the quality of the champagne and rather push quantity, whereas LeNoble is the opposite they rather quality over quantity.

Now about this specific Champagne:
-This is LeNoble Brut Intense, a non vintage champagne.
-It is a blend of 40% Chardonnay from Chouilly which is located in the Cote des Blancs and all the grapes are considered Grand Cru, 30% Pinot Noir from Bisseuil which are considered Premier Cru grapes, and 30% Pinot Meunier from Damery.
-This champagne house owns all it’s own parcels in the areas of champagne.
-20% of this champagne is reserve wine from vintages of 2007 and 2009 (mostly 2009)
-It only has only 6g/L of sugar, which is low and can be considered an extra brut
-This champagne is also aged for 3 years on the lees.

In my opinion this Champagne is a great addition into one’s library and can hold it’s own against some of the big brands. I’ve always found that the smaller champagne makers make a such better quality champagne. Try and expand and go out of your comfort level and try something new and exciting.

Champagne is not only a celebratory drink, I personally love to start a meal with it because honestly it opens up your palate and wakens your senses for what is yet to come.

So why not next time you are out on a date with your sweetie, order a glass of champagne before the meal ad celebrate the fact that you are spending time with someone you truly care about. That is a holiday in and of itself.

Happy drinking!

Muscadet??? Is that like Moscato???

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Ok people… Once and for all Muscadet is NOT like Moscato!!!

You have no idea how many people get this wrong and automatically assume the wine is going to be sweet and sugary. I understand the common misconception that they have the same sounding names and yes they both begin with “M”.

There were times when I was working at a wine shop in NYC, and customers would ask me what would go well with oysters?? Well naturally I recommended Muscadet and their first reaction without fail was “No that’s too sweet.” Well let me tell all of you Muscadet is my perfect pairing with oysters, it’s the traditional classic pairing. The way I compare it is that Muscadet and oysters are like white on rice, peanut butter and jelly, they go together as much as a fat kid loves cake.

Now to go about this Muscadet in question: Domaine de la Tourmaline.
First I must make an adjustment on the vintage, in the picture it says 2010 but I am actually writing about the 2011 vintage.
The winery produces the wine in accordance to sustainable agricultural methods.
On the nose it shows hints of white blossoms and citrus. On the palate it has a nice balance of acidity and dryness. When paired with oysters it is amazing!! Yes I said it Amazing!!
The wine itself is a little low in alcohol, only 11.9% but the acidity and balance of the wine bring it up an showcase it as a superstar.

Now this is not to say this wine only goes well with oysters. It actually goes well with any seafood, especially sushi. It’s easy enough to drink on its own either while watching tv, cooking dinner, sitting on your balcony watching the sunset.

Please go out and try some Muscadet, you will be happy you did.

Remember try and expand your wine library and knowledge and never be afraid to ask questions.

What Corkscrew?? That is the question

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The age old question: What corkscrew do I use?
Well I usually tell people my favorite type of corkscrew is the waiters key (like the one in the picture above). I am a huge fan of this kind because it is sturdy, small (hey big things come in small packages too), and does exactly what is intended to do and that is open a bottle of wine. This key has a small sharp knife to cut the top of the foil, I generally like cutting the foil from just under the small bump at the top of the bottle, but hey that’s just me. The screw, or worm as we call it, should be sturdy and you should be able to look straight down the middle of it without any problems. Now I personally love the new double hinge designs. You are asking yourself what the heck is a double hinge and why is it important? Well this is why; first the double hinge allows you to pull the cork a bit then readjust and pull the rest of the cork out. Before with a regular key the hinge will only take you so far an you would still have to pull the cork out manually. This double hinge makes it super easy to pull out any cork. A good waiters key can pull out any cork with ease. Oh did I also mention that this key can also be used to open beer bottles, multi-purpose tool I love it!

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Most people, if not all people, are familiar with this type of corkscrew, the Wings. To me this is the worst kind of corkscrew because it only does one thing and it does it BADLY!!!! First off it does not have a foil cutter so you either have to buy another tool to cut the foil or get a knife to cut it, waste of time. Next if you don’t center the worm properly in the middle of the cork it will be a pain in the butt to get the cork out. Not to mention that if you don’t center the worm and you begin to push the wings down to get the cork out, the cork can break from the amount of force you are putting on it. Yes corks do break all the time and with any key you use, but I find it more so with the wings. With the waiters key you can control how much force you use to get the cork out. Another reason why I am not a fan is the sheer size of the damn thing. It’s a bulky contraption, and like before you don’t need a big tool to do the job. This one you can not fit in your pocket, and for me being a wine rep and walking around the city and easy portable corkscrew, that does the job right each and every time, is what I want.

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The infamous Rabbitscrew, get your minds out of the gutter it’s not that kind of rabbit. Well this corkscrew is simple and easy just a bit bulky. Most of them come with accessories such as foil cutters and bottle stoppers. I believe that it is a great gift (to get not give) and adds a sense of “luxury” to your wine accessories. Would I ever buy one for myself, no. The efficiency of it is that you clamp the neck of the bottle with the clamps, then you plunge the worm down and pull up and it’s that simple to get the cork out. I always had a problem of how the hell do I get the cork off the worm, and the answer is you push down the handle and then clamp the cork and pull back up and there you have it.

So as far as corkscrews go, I say use what you are comfortable using and what works best for you. These are jut options and my opinions for just these styles of corkscrews. Honestly there are almost as many corkscrews as there are different wines.

Open a bottle and enjoy a glass of wine.

The Classic Bordeaux from the Classic Family

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Where do you go when you look for a classic style of wine?? FRANCE DUH!!!!!

I know that in France everything is labeled and named for the town in which the grapes were grown and where the wine was made. One of the most classic and influential areas in the wine community is Bordeaux (pronounced “bore-dough”). This area is honestly one the best places in the world where wine comes from, Old world wine to be more exact. Ok right now you are asking yourself what in the world is Old World wine, well that is wine made in the countries of France, Italy, and Spain. I know, I know there can be arguments for other countries to be considered Old World but to keep it simple and easy I am just keeping it to these countries.

Now in the area of Bordeaux, it is split into two parts Left Bank and Right Bank. The Left Bank is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon based, while the Right Bank is primarily Merlot based. The traditional grapes that go into Bordeaux wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.

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Ok now to the wine in question: Chateau de Malengin, Montagne Saint- Emillion 2009.

First and foremost this wine is produced by, in my opinion, the most influential and prestigious wine making Families in the world, Rothschild.
To be more specific this wine is made by Baron Edmund de Rothschild.
This is a Right Bank Bordeaux which means it is Merlot based.
It is actually 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc (which is my favorite grape), and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
This blend of grapes, from this region, adds so much complexity to the wine. It is a dark crimson in color. A blend of smooth oak, dark cherries, blackberries, and a slight bit of earth on the nose. On the palate it is rich and luscious, the way a true Bordeaux should be, it has components of dark fruit, oak and a hint of cassis. The smooth tannins and long finish add to the skill of the winemaking. The wine is aged for 14 months in French Oak, do you really think the French would use anything but French Oak.
To add to this the wine is a 2009 vintage, this vintage has been dubbed the “Super Vintage.” This year was amazing growing conditions for wine in France. All the great wine critics have named this the best year and that just adds to it.

Would I recommend this wine to people to try something other than a California Cabernet Sauvignon?? YES!!!!
I want people to try wines from around the world because honestly you can go around the world in a glass of wine.

Wine is Poetry

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Wine is liquid poetry in a glass.

With each sip of wine it’s like another poem has just been written. The beginning starts by pulling you in and just giving you a glimpse of what is to come. The middle develops and grows in complexity and characteristics. It begins to unravel and show it’s true form. Then in the end it leaves you with a sense of questioning, making you think of what you just tried and makes you wanting more.

Each poem ever written was not done with a glass of water, rather with a glass of wine.

A Journey through the South African Safari of Wine

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Since this will be my first blog about a specific bottle of wine, I felt it was appropriate to start with one of the wines I represent. Like I stated earlier I do work for a wine distributor in New York and this wine is one of the wines I do sell.

Before I began working as a wine distributor I worked as a manager of a wine shop here in New York, and this wine was one of my favorites in the shop. I never had a bad bottle and every time I recommended it, my customers always came back and told me how much they enjoyed it.

I don’t label myself an expert on wine nor do I claim to be a wine snob. I am just another guy who really enjoys a nice glass of wine and seeing and tasting all the complexities and characteristics of wine from different parts of the world.

When people think of Africa, one of their first thoughts is the African Safari and all the wild animals roaming the plains. Well there is another safari in South Africa and in this open plains you will find wine grapes growing plentiful. All different varietals that one never thought could grow there and some, like Pinotage, that is grown almost exclusively in South Africa and thrives tremendously on the weather there. Well the wine I will be reviewing today is not a Pinotage, rather it is a classic Bordeaux blend that is grown in South Africa.

The name of the wine is Uqamata, a 2009 vintage from the Polkadraai Hills in Stellenbosch South Africa. The varietals of this wine are as follows 40% Cabernet Franc (for the people that know me Cabernet Franc is my favorite grape) 40% Merlot, 18% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Petit Verdot. This blend, not percentages, of grapes (plus Malbec) are the traditional varietals made and used in Bordeaux.

The winemaker, Carmen Stevens, is the first black female winemaker from South Africa. Her story is very inspirational, she grew up not knowing how to read or write, but learned in a wine cellar while working at a winery. Once she was able to go to college in South Africa, she was denied three times before finally being allowed to attend. After graduating she came to California and studied and worked at a few wineries and learned more hands on techniques in winemaking. Once she moved back to South Africa and started producing her wines, you could not find her wines I South Africa because they are bought by the world market so quickly. Right now she works at the Amani Vineyards in Stellenbosch.

Now here is a little technical facts about the wine (if you are not interested you can scroll down to my tasting notes):

Alcohol:
– 14.5% abv

Terroir:
– the vineyard is between 115 and 155 meters above sea level
– the soil is primarily Fernwood and Longlands, basically sand

Aging: (yes just like humans wine do age)
– the wine ages for 12 months in French oak barrels, which 35% of the barrels are new
– after that the wine is blended together (each varietal is aged in separate barrels for 12 months) and let age for an additional 4 months

Tasting Notes: (it’s such a hard job to try wine and take notes on it and explain it…. Just kidding)
– it has a dark crimson color, reminiscent of dark ripe cherries.
– on the nose I got earth, dirt, old leather, tobacco, vegetal, oak, with a delicate touch of cassis a d dark fruit (of course get a good swirl and stick your nose in the glass and sniff away)
On the palate:
– on the front I got the herbaceous qualities along with the earth, or as I like to call it funk, this is due to the fact that Cabernet Franc has that funky quality
– the mid palate is where the wine opens up and you start to feel and taste the subtle complexity, the rich dark fruit, the cassis, blackberry, and dark ripe cherries.
– the finish is long and the tannins are very well subdued.

In my opinion this wine would be and will be a perfect pairing for any healthy meaty meal you are making. It can go with anything from steak to lamb to even turkey. I think this wine can be a great go to wine for any wine lover who wants to expand their collection, or even anyone who wants a great bottle of red wine for dinner.

Like I always say wine should always compliment food and accentuate the flavor of the food you are eating. Choose wisely and spend a little time deciding what will go good with dinner, if you are unsure always ask the wine consultant at your wine store.

Also please feel free to comment and leave suggestions of different wines, so that way I can try and comment on them throughout the course of my blog.

Wine Sniffing and Tasting

What is the importance of sniffing wine?

Well wine involves your sense of smell as much as it does your sense of taste. The aromas that come from a glass of wine can evoke many memories and smells that you have encountered in the past.

Different wines from different parts of the world give you different aromas. Some show dark ripe berries while others can be as delicate and soft as cherries.

The best way to get a proper sniff is to swirl the glass of wine, and don’t be afraid give it a nice vigorous swirl. Then get your nose in the glass and don’t be afraid to get your whole nose in there. You want to get the full aroma of the wine to be right on your nose.

I always say spend a few minutes sniffing your wine because after each sniff, just like after each sip of wine, different aromas arrive.

I know it might look or feel weird and feel weird but trust me your nose is just as much a part of your sense of taste as is your tongue.

After getting a good sniff take a sip of some wine, but don’t swallow it right a way. As the wine sits in your mouth, pull in some air through your mouth. I know you have seen wine people do this and always wondered what it meant, well here is your answer: when you take in air while wine is in your mouth you move the wine across your whole palate so that you can taste the different favors of wine at once. Some people even move the wine around in their mouth to feel the body of the wine as well as its structure. So let the wine linger in your mouth for a little bit longer before you swallow it.

Trust me wine is an experience and to get the full effect is what it’s all about.

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Around the World in a Glass of Wine

Wine is like poetry, the beginning is beautiful and captivates you to want more, the middle is complex and continues to change in characteristics, and the finish is smooth with a lingering sensation that makes you want more.

It’s always been a struggle to describe wine and the professionals use so many comparisons to what it tastes like, and it just makes one’s mind go crazy.

Within this blog and my many posts to come I will try and point out different wines for different occasions. I will also try my best to describe each wine and my experience. Yes, I do work within the wine industry and have for some time now, but the age old question I always get asked is: ” are you sure this wine is good? Do you like it?” My answer to this is that when I recommend a wine I stand behind It because I’ve tried it and liked it.

I believe wine is an experience and should be remembered. For example if you try a wine and five minutes later you forget what it’s like that wine is not memorable, but if you try a wine and you are still thinking about its taste and complexity thirty minutes after you finished your glass that means it made you think and made you remember it.

I hope this blog will help others get away from the stereotype wines such as just getting a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Moscato. I want to introduce a whole new world of wine to people such as Cabernet Franc, Tokaji, Muscadet (not related to moscato), and so much more.

I will add some history as well as some wine facts in this blog.

Hopefully you will enjoy this wonderful trip around the world in each and every glass of wine.