Wine bottles…Why bigger IS better!

2005_OakvilleRanch_6L Recently I was fortunate enough to try wine from a pretty large bottle. The wine was a 6L (holds 8 bottles) 2005 Oakville Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was bursting of red/black fruit, especially cassis, had an excellent mid-palate and a long ROUND finish. I couldn’t believe how soft this wine tasted. I then asked the owner how long the bottle had been open. “Two days”, he replied “and it is finally drinking really well”. “Very tannic when we first opened it”.

So what is it with BIG bottles of wine? They are very hard to store. They are generally difficult to find. They almost ALWAYS cost more than if you had bought the single bottles, separately.

There are obvious fun factors– they are cool to break out at parties and it is entertaining to watch someone pour from the really large ones. However there are some very important reasons to go big…

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Picking Pinot with a Master of Wine (MW)

“God made Cabernet Sauvignon, whereas the Devil made Pinot Noir,” a quote from America’s most influential winemaker, André Tchelistcheff.

I recently attended a fantastic event at Astor Center with Christy Canterbury, MW.

Master of Wine is an IMPRESSIVE title, there are currently only 30 Americans who have it. The program takes a minimum of three years to complete, and most never achieve the certification.

I am often asked to recommend a great, affordable Pinot Noir. This is usually an oxymoron.  Pinot Noir is a thin-skinned grape which means it is susceptible to frost, wind, and too cold or too hot temperature. It is also a very low yielding grape which means you get very few grapes per vine.

All of these factors make Pinot Noir very difficult to grow and therefore it is expensive to turn into wine.

Most agree that the best Pinot Noir comes from Burgundy, France but they are also some of the priciest. I have found some really good, affordable Pinot from Washington State and Central Otago, New Zealand that I recommend to others.

I was curious to taste all 8 expressions of Pinot Noir and also to hear how “the Master” would handle the challenge.

Her Pinot Selections…
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Why don’t Americans drink Chianti?

I recently attended the launch of the Slow Wine Guide as well as the Italian Wine Masters class on Tuscan wines.

One of the wines that we tasted and discussed, was Chianti.

Forget everything you know about straw basket Chianti. The main grape of Chianti, Sangiovese, with it’s high aciditiy, produces some of the most affordable, food friendly, versatile wines that I enjoy.

Also, because Chianti can be made in so many styles you are sure to find one that suits your tastes.

So why don’t we drink Chianti, more often? STRAW BASKETS!

It is probably due to Americans past negative experiences with Chianti…

1. Originally the laws for making red wine in Chianti were very restrictive:

•  Wines needed to include a white grape, Malvasia (they don’t anymore)

•  Producers had to match the “recipe” or established percentage of each grape set in the mid 19th Century (now vast improvements have been made by winemakers)

2. Quality of wine exported to the United States was not very good. Producers focused on quantity, for exports, and kept the best wines for the local market (Italians)

3. The main grape, Sangiovese, doesn’t grow well outside of Italy so we are not as familiar with it as we are with other California staples like Cabernet and Merlot.

NEW, IMPROVED Chianti… On to the wines

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American Thanksgiving wines- “Red”, White, and Orange?

Everbody has their opinions about which are the “best” wines for the Thanksgiving table. I love Old World wines (Spain, Italy, Germany, France) but this is an American Holiday, so my choices for Thanksgiving are usually all-American.

All of this years interesting selections came from a recent visit to the North Fork of Long Island, New York.

THE “RED”
2010 Shinn Vineyards- Anomaly. White Pinot Noir? Yes, you can make a white wine from a red grape. Just like champagne the reason this wine is not red is because the juice is not fermented with the skins (which would give the wine a pink/red color).
http://www.lenndevours.com/2009/05/anthony-nappa-wines-2008-anomaly-.html

THE WHITE
2007 Lenz Winery- Gewürtztraminer- often referred to as Gewürz which means “spice”. It is a pink-red grape which produces a white wine that goes great with white meats, like turkey, as well as Asian food!
http://www.lenzwine.com/Home.htm

THE ORANGE
2010 Channing Daughters, Ramato- “Orange Wine”-made from Pinot Grigio or “Gray Pinot”- wines produced from this grape vary in color from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink. All grape juice is clear, but this particular wine is called “orange” due to the color it picks up from from being kept in contact with the skins.
https://www.channingdaughters.com/wine_order/index.php#2010%20Ramato

By the way, the “best” Thanksgiving wine is whatever is on the table with family, friends and food.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wines of Pompeii- Death, Destruction and the Tears of Christ…

I Recently attended the Pompeii exhibit at Times Square. Unfortunately, the last time we were in Italy we did not have time to see Pompeii/Mt. Vesuvius in person. But we like to have reasons to return!

Bodies frozen on the stairs

Pompeii was a bustling, developed metropolis at the base of Mt. Vesuvius before it erupted in 79 A.D. and buried the entire city under 12 ft of volcanic mud, soil and ash.  Over time they excavated the site and unearthed perfectly preserved human bodies (a little spooky) and the remnants of a modern society. They found pottery, cooking ovens, fashionable jewelry, and plumbing that looks more sophisticated than I have in my 1926 home.

The people of Pompeii enjoyed themselves…they had dice and other gambling games, along with prostitution, and over 200 wine bars!

One of my favorite relatively unknown red wines from that region (Campania) is Lacryma Christi or “Tears of Christ”, which is made from Piedirosso grapes grown on the volcanic soil of Mt. Vesuvius. There are several interesting stories about the religious reference…
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Wine of the Week- Print, Press, (squid) Ink

We met some great friends for dinner, Lori and Michael, who were in town for birthday celebrations. Very cold in New York this weekend and they had a great restaurant in their hotel…easy decision on where to eat.

The new Kimpton Hotel property, Ink48 was previously a printing house. It is made up of the hotel, “Press” Lounge on the rooftop, and “Print” Restaurant, on the ground floor. The meeting rooms are named after typefaces, Garamond, Courier, Helvetica. Being a print production guy I love all of the references but I couldn’t locate anything that reminded me of any printing plant I have been in (no ink or varnish smells, no rolls of paper or heavy machinery). Not even a noisy, packed restaurant, can come close to the activity and decibal level of a pressroom.

Sorry, I digress. On to the rooftop lounge…
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