#Super Bowl XLVII- BEER vs. WINE

I rarely drink wine at live sporting events.
Wine doesn’t taste great in plastic bottles and cups.  And it just doesn’t feel right.

In the privacy of your home you should drink what you want, but wines are sometimes a better match with food. Try it for yourself, beer vs. wine,  with your favorite Super Bowl dishes.

 If you normally drink lager beer…

(Budweiser, Corona, Stella Artois), you are drinking beers that are light bodied, bright and crisp.

Similar white wines would be Pinot Grigio (from Northern Italy), or Sauvignon Blanc (try the Loire Valley, French version). Drink with Chips and Dip!

If you want to try some reds look for low tannin, fresh acid wines like Barbera or Beaujolais (not Nouveau, please). Great with Doritos!

Summer ale (Sam Adams) or Belgian White (Blue Moon) is your thing?

Try white wines with more aromatics like Albariño (Rías Baixas, Spain) or Torrontés (Argentina).

For a slightly more aromatic red you may like a chilled Tempranillo (Rioja/Ribera del Duero), or unoaked Sangiovese.
All great with nachos or chili!

Hefeweizen (wheat) beer fan?

For whites, try Gewürztraminer from Alsace, France. Gewürz (guh-vorts) for short, is spicy and can be dry, or have a little sweetness. Perfect with asian flavored chicken wings.

Another option is Zweigelt, a funky, spicy, but floral red from Austria.

IPA (hop) head?

You might want to try the New Zealand (Marlborough) style of Sauvignon Blanc, grassy with Juicy Fruit (the gum) flavors. Another white wine option is Chenin Blanc (French, not South African) if you want a fuller bodied wine.

“Go to” reds could include Cabernet Franc or Carmenere from Chile.
Also great with chili!

For traditional Ales/Stoudts…

Since they are full bodied there are only a few whites for you, Viognier (northern Rhone, France) or oaked Chardonnay (Burgundy, France).

On the red side, go big or go home! You would probably enjoy full bodied reds like Aglianico (Italy) or Australian Shiraz.
Save these wines for the main course…

For some of my other “Super Bowl” favorites see previous recommendations:

Super Bowl XLV

Super Bowl XLVI

 

As always, please let me know what you think…

Top 100 VALUE wines of 2012

It’s that time of year…Wine Spectator recently released their list of the Top 100 wines of 2012.

Due to personal preferences I can’t tell you whether you will really love all of the wines on the list or not. However, if it is under $20, (I also include exactly $20) and makes this list, it probably is a solid value.

Last years list only contained 12 wines under $20- this years has 27. Also, I am noticing a large number of wines coming from South America.

Hint: just because they might not have made this years list- the 2011 list are still good wines to try!

Here are the VALUES (ranking/Score/Price)…
Continue reading

The “skinny” on Chile- Organic Wines, Excellent Value

South American wines often get lumped together on wine lists and in retail stores, and that is a shame. The two largest wine producing regions of Chile and Argentina have some things in common:

Location (latitude)- they share weather and temperature

Altitude-they are located on either side of the Andes mountains which is a key component in their unique terroir

Very little rain-both countries have very little rain fall but have ample water for wine production due to the melting snow and ice of the Andes.

Very low cost of labor– Virtually all grapes are picked by hand.

All of these factors are beneficial to wine growing. They allow them to produce clean wines (hardly any chemical usage), with very ripe fruit, high acid, and soft tannin.

BUT CHILE IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM ARGENTINA…

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July 4th- A NY State of Mind…Summer Wines

To celebrate July 4th, or any hot summer day, I recommend drinking American beer/wine. Our economy needs it!

Here are a few of my “local favorites”; all wines from the North Fork of Long Island, New York.

Riesling (Dry)- Paumanok 2007- $22

From the producer:
“Aromas of lime, green apple, lilies, lilac and other white flowers and a hint of ginger. Bone dry with flavors of lime, green apple, white apricot and intense acidity.”

Paumanok also makes a nice Chenin Blanc as as well- $25

 

Sauvignon Blanc (NICOLA’S CUVEE)- McCall 2010- $24 (pictured)

The wine had just been bottled and they didn’t have labels yet but I convinced the winemaker to let me buy it. He improvised and “created” a label from an existing Chardonnay label. Gotta love it.

 From the producer:
“Crisp and elegantly refined with minerality reminiscent of Loire Valley’s classic Sancerre. This low production wine offers exceptional quality which may prove to be the best vintage ever for Long Island wine. A must with local shellfish.”

 

Rosé- Wölffer Estate 2010- $20

From the producer:
“The floral aroma hints of a freshly cut wildflower field. The mouth is filled with fresh berries and a note of wild strawberries.”

Drinks like a glass of Summer!

 

Chardonnay:
Shinn Vineyards 2010- $20

Shinn is working toward becoming the first Long Island winery to be certified Organic. They are doing all the right things, in the vineyard, and in the production of their wines.

 From the producer:
“This unwood style Chardonnay showcases bright mineral characters washed in exotic fruit and gentle mouthwatering acidity. A long 8 month post fermentation lees contact adds spicy overtones and silky texture while pear and tropical flavors give way to a polished finish.”

 

Chardonnay Lenz Old Vines 2008- $25…but you need to be a Wine Club member (I am)

From the producer:
“The Old Vines style is intended to emphasize fruit intensity, balance and elegance.  We use very limited barrel fermentation and oak-aging tends to be ‘neutral,’ meaning we only use older barrels that allow the wine to achieve greater complexity and flavor concentration but leave less of an oak fingerprint on the wine.  Old Vines Chardonnay is focused on flavors of apple and pear with notes of fig.”

 

A note of caution: The North Fork of Long Island isn’t well known for making great wines, but they do, and they often sell out of everything they make. However, Long Island has difficult growing conditions for wine grapes and the wine quality can vary from year to year. The wines that I tasted with the producers and am drinking now are from 2007/2010 vintages which were both excellent. Some are still available in stores.

The latest vintage, 2011 was NOT a year that I can recommend yet as I have heard that it was a difficult vintage (Hurricane Irene) and I have not tried any of them.

Excellent summer white wines! Memorial Day Part Deux…

Two years ago I setup a Rosé wine tasting for family and friends to see if we could all agree on a summer favorite. Click to read.

The group asked if we could do it again, with white wines, so I was happy to oblige.

The 5 wines I chose are all wines that I recommend to people on a regular basis for these reasons:

They are inexpensive, all under $15, and a few under $10 on sale.

All are relatively easy to find- they are carried in most wine stores in the country.

They are consistent-not too much variation from vintage to vintage.

Granted, these wines aren’t going to blow you away with layers of complexity, but let’s be honest… summer wines should be simple, well chilled, and refreshing.

*All wines were tasted blind with tasting sheets for the drinkers to circle flavors, grape variety, country of origin and to write comments.

So here are the wines with some “professional” tasting notes along with comments from all of us non-professional wine drinkers who just want a great summer white…
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“Top 100” Wine Values 2011

Every year at this time the wine world waits for the Wine Spectator to release their opinion of the top 100 Wines of the Year. Just because a publication rates and ranks them for you doesn’t guarantee you will like them.

However I think this list is a great place to search out value (under $20) wines/producers that you may not have tried.

Here is the short list of value wines from their list. There is something here for every wine type-why not try a few over the holidays?

#21 (94 Rating) 2009 Georges Duboeuf- Morgon Jean Descombes- $15. (Pictured here) If you like Beaujolais Nouveau you will love this wine! It is 100% Gamay grapes but has a little more body since it is a “higher” level wine. Tolerant Taster approved for the holidays.

Find it …

#23 (93 Rating) 2004 Bodegas Resalte de Peñafiel Ribera del Duero de Restia Crianza Selected Harvest- $15. I haven’t had this wine but I like the producer. If you like Spanish wine, this is a 2004 so it is probably drinking really well right now.  Why not give it a try?

#33 (92 Rating) 2008 Château Tanunda Shiraz Barossa Grand Barossa 2008- $18– Australian wine is still a great value. If you like Syrah it’s the same grape. This is on my list to try.

Find it …

#42 (90 Rating) 2008 Quinta de Cabriz Dão- $9. A full bodied Spicy red for under $10. Zinfandel or Cabernet alternative.

Find it …

#43 (90 Rating) Gruet Blanc de Noirs New Mexico NV (Non vintage)- $14. One of my favorite inexpensive USA sparkling wine producers. Made in New Mexico? Yes! And it is excellent, for the price. Tolerant Taster approved for the holidays.

Find it …

#59 (90 Rating) 2008 Bodegas Dinastía Vivanco Rioja Selección de Familia Crianza- $18. Spanish white that is an alternative to the common white wines.

Find it …

#60  (90 Rating) 2008 Allegrini Veronese Palazzo della Torre- $20. I know I said “under $20” but Allegrini makes great value Italian wines. Amarone lovers will enjoy this easy drinking red. Tolerant Taster approved for the holidays.

Find it …

#68 (90 Rating) 2009 Buehler Zinfandel Napa Valley- $18. Any wine with Napa Valley appellation listed on the label costs more (it’s true). Great value for Zin lovers.

Find it …

#70 (90 Rating) 2009 Morgan Chardonnay Monterey Metallico Un-Oaked-$20. The only Chardonnay on this short list. If you like a cleaner style chardonnay (crisp, fruity) this could be a great find.

Find it …

#71 (90 Rating) 2010 Bodegas Godeval Valdeorras Vina Godeval 2010-$18. I had to google this one… 100% Godello (native Spanish grape varietal). Sauvignon Blanc lovers should try this as it has similar flavor descriptions (grapefruit, minerality).

Find it …

#72 (90 Rating) 2009 Ravines Riesling Finger Lakes Dry-$16. Domestic, dry Riesling should go well with almost all foods including Chinese/thai takeout.

Find it …

#73 (90 Rating) 2007 Fratelli Oddero Barbera d’Alba-$20. Barbera is one of my favorite everyday red wines-due to it’s high acidity it goes really well with pizza, pasta. Chianti alternative. This is on my list to purchase.

Find it …

 As always, please let me know if you like these wines…

 

 

 

Lessons learned at Wine Camp- A look back…

Last year, my wife and I traveled to the North Fork of Long Island to attend wine camp– 3 days of access to some of the best winegrowers in the area.

Welcome!


If you love wine
and have never been to a wine growing region- plan a trip, now!

It is enlightening to see how wine grapes are grown. Visiting a winery allows you to appreciate the effort required to produce wine and to enjoy the passion, of everyone involved in the process.

Every glass of wine you drink afterwards will taste better.

What I learned at wine camp:


Wine growing is FARMING. It it is HARD work
and a difficult way to earn a living.

Most wineries are not chateaus
but rather modest, generally clean environments for producing  a reliable, consistent product.

“Chateau” Old Field- lovely people live/work here

Wine people (producers, owners, tasting room managers) are fun, patient people who LOVE to talk wine and answer questions, so feel free to ask away.

Vintage does Matter
The vintage year (the year listed on the bottle) is ALWAYS the year the grapes were harvested, not when it is released (available on shelves). Therefore it is a snapshot of what happened in the vineyard during that growing season.

The North Fork has a cool, sometimes cold, maritime climate. Similar to Bordeaux it is greatly  influenced by dramatic, unpredictable weather shifts.   In 2010 when we visited, winemakers were anticipating a fantastic harvest. For the entire spring, temperatures were moderate, they had plenty of sun, and the grapes were ripening very well. Literally the day we left, a hail storm hit and some wineries lost as much as a third of their crops in one day!

Check your grapes! Europeans have spent thousands of years determining what grows best in a certain area. Most have laws that restrict what can be grown, and how it can be grown, to maintain the integrity of a specific region.

We do not have many of these laws in the United States so you will be well served to ask winemakers what grows best in their region, and stick to wines made with those grapes.

The PRODUCER is important (Look at the name of the winery)
A good producer provides quality and consistency. Many factors are out of their control: weather, temperature, hungry birds, etc. But a good producer can make a good wine in a not so good vintage. And a reputable producer won’t even make wine in a poor vintage!

Read on for some of my favorite producers from the trip: Continue reading