Wine Lockers Keep Your Wine Safe

Joseph and Curtis are pleased to announce another happy customer! We recently finished a clubhouse with wine lockers for each member of the club.



Each locker is made of mahogany wood and can fit up to 16 wine or liquor bottles with room for cigars, poker chips etc. Each locker has a wire mesh front and a individual lock for privacy.



The lockers are getting very popular in places like country clubs, cigar lounges, restaurants (byob), locker rooms, hotels, and of course 50 and over communities. Restaurants without liquor license love the lockers because it makes there VIP clients very happy to feel as if they have "their locker" and it keeps them coming back to the restaurant.



Please give us a call or contact us online if you have any interest in a Joseph and Curtis wine locker. We can build the lockers to any size, depending on the square footage of the room we are building them for.

Cheers!

Martha Stewart and Breaux Vineyards

As a general rule I don’t link to Martha Stewart, but I feel compelled to point out the following in the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living:Breaux Vineyards’ Lafayette (2005, $19) is a nicely balanced Cabernet Franc made from grapes grown in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Northern Virginia. It has appetizing tannins, moderate oak, and flashes of red currant and black pepper.This

Gaja Barbaresco 2004

Gaja Barbaresco 2004

Though Gaja Barbaresco 2004 is now a couple of vintages old it didn’t really give me the excuse I needed to drink it. So I’m going to blame it on the credit crunch. This may be a £100 bottle of vino but I already own it, so in real terms, that makes it free right? And free wine is the most delicious wine of all. OK, so it didn’t have 10+ years of age on it and was no where near its drinking window, but it was still incredible wine and if the Italians refuse to wait for their Piedmont treasures to mature then neither will I.

So this is what a bottle of Gaja Barbaresco looks like. Elegant, refined, classic good looks, the hallmark of Italian craftsmanship. And this is what I look like. All the same adjectives can be applied.

I’ve written about Angelo Gaja’s wines so many times on wine90 that you’d be mistaken for thinking Gaja is my favourite Italian producer, well in terms of continued quality, quest for excellence and willingness to experiment, then Gaja is but these wines lack something I love more and that is QPR.

Gajas entire range, from the Chardonnay to the Sperrs, from the vineyards of the Piedmont to those in Tuscany, produce wines of a good standard, though from prices ranging from £20-£250, not a one of them could be called a “value buy”.

You can buy the Sito Moresco (nebbiolo), Cremes (dolcetto) and Promis (super tuscan) wines for a £20 note each but there are better wines from all 3 varietals selling cheaper. We know from experience, whether it’s handbags or cars, when a luxury brand releases products for the masses, they are rarely of high quality. You’re paying for the name, duck. That being said, the very best wines from Gaja, from the Barolo and Barbaresco vineyards are among the best wines produced in the world.

It is pretty much agreed that, challenged only by Giacosa, Gaja is the king of Barbaresco and with 2004 being a superb vintage in the Piedmont this bottle of wine was never going to be anything less than excellent. My review of the 2005 effort was less favourable by just two points and I’m going against the grain of expert opinion here as 2005 is rated by Galloni as a better bottle than the 2004. In my humble, the 2004 is not only more complex than the 2005 but will age better too, in the end they are two different bottles of wine, which you prefer is up to you.

Gaja Barbaresco 2004BUY – €116
A mid ruby red in the glass. The nose is surprisingly open, obvious aromas of wood, tar and floral notes. A mid bodied wine. On the palate the wine is smooth, tannic but so well ingrained, this is all structure and balance, little light on the mid palate but the initial attack and finish are opulent. The alcohol makes itself known on the finish which is lengthy with good fruit, dark berries. 95 Points

Clearly too young, still very enjoyable, luckily for me it’s not my only bottle.

Where can I buy this wine?
Americans – America’s wine shop – $123 (deal!)
Europeans – Enoteca Piccolomini – €116
Brits – Speciality Wines – £98

Leave a Comment
Leave comments on any Gaja wines you enjoy or have tried… or indeed do not like. Comment on the Ikea blinds. Anything you fancy.

The Caveman’s Wine Blog 2009-02-18 06:51:00

Veal Chop

Bandol 2000, Château Pradeux

Shitake-infused purple fruit with a distant bouquet of dried garden herbs. Dark, gaining intensity and power as it opens up. Tender tannins, enough to give structure but not getting in the way. Getting to that last glass now, the mystery fruit gains complexity- it's growing on some sort of rock, in a well kept barn, filled with fresh mushrooms. Bordeaux of the south? Perhaps the comparison works, but this is maybe a touch more generous.

The Caveman’s Wine Blog 2009-02-18 06:35:00


Scallop Entrée

Jasnières 2004, Calligramme, Domaine de Bellivière

Red apples and green grapes, just starting to brown, giving the fruit an aromatic sweetness, but it is very dry the mouth. Around halfway through the bottle, soft, white and yellow flowers, perhaps chamomile, seem to come out of nowhere, giving depth, pretty perfume. Much like a crescendo, each sip gains amplitude in the mouth , only to finish on a fine, focussed point of minerality. last bottle, damn.

A visit to King Family Vineyards

Hello Friends,

Our next stop on the Monticello Wine Trail was to King Family Vineyards. King Family Vineyards is located just west of Charlottesville in Crozet, Virginia, and offers an enchanting setting to enjoy good wines and spectacular views. Trust me!

King Family Vineyards

King Family Vineyards is a small family-run operation, owned by Ellen and David King. Winemaker, Mathieu Finot, who is from the Rhone Valley, made wine in France, Italy, and South Africa, before embarking to Virginia to practice his art and craft. I had heard great things about Mathieu’s wines, so was eager to taste them. The wines produced are made from 100% estate grown fruit, produced and bottled on property. Although we missed Mathieu this time, I look forward to tasting with him upon my return this spring.

King Family Vineyards Barrel Room

We were greeted by David King and led to the barrel room for our tasting. It was an unusually sunny and warm winter day, and we couldn’t stand at the tasting bar if we had wanted to. King Family Vineyards is a popular destination for Virginia wine lovers, who were out in full effect enjoying the rural and beautiful countryside. David started us off with a nice dry Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine that made my mouth water for sautéed scallops. We moved onto an aromatic and lush Viognier, then a fruity Roseland white wine blend consisting of 55% Viognier and 45% Chardonnay, and a tasty Chardonnay that displayed nice integration of oak and fruit.

Tasting in the Barrel Room with David King

Moving on to the reds, we started off with Cabernet Franc, a popular French variety generally used as a minor bending grape that has adapted well to Virginia’s soil and climate type. The Cabernet Franc wine offered red fruit flavors, spice, and a light dusting of black pepper, and is sipping nicely right now. We moved to a firmer structured Merlot and a refined and elegant Meritage blend consisting of 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 20% Petit Verdot. This wine highlights the best of each varietal used in the blend, which is heightened by extended French oak aging. This is a delicious wine with structure, complexity, and zest that you can either enjoy now or hold on to for a few years. Last but not least, was a Late Harvest Viognier, which is an ice-styled wine that offers good stone fruit and soft honey flavors with pinches of cooking spice tossed in at the finish. Enjoy this sweet sensation after dinner, or quite frankly, anytime you like!

Virginia Wine Lovers enjoying a Sunny and Warm 'Winter' Day

In closing, be sure to make a date, or two, with King Family Vineyards this spring and summer. My pictures do this symphony of nature little justice. When the seasonal warmth arrives and things turn green again, this place is simply stunning. King Family Vineyard is the perfect place to pack a picnic basket and take in the spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, green rolling hills, horse farms, and surrounding area. Be sure to check the events page too, I hear they host great polo matches and other fun-filled outdoor events. I warn you, don’t be the Virginia wine lover who misses a visit to Kings Family Vineyard this spring and summer. When you visit, tell the kind folks that you heard about them on Dezel’s http://www.myvinespot.com/ wine blog.

Winery Info: King Family Vineyards, 6550 Roseland FarmCrozet, Virginia 22932

Stay tuned friends ...Look for short summaries on other visits from our fun-filled weekend on the Monticello Wine Trail. Also, be sure to see what Todd of Wine Compass has to say about the Monticello Wine Trail - CLICK HERE. To see my last visit to King Family Vineyards CLICK HERE.

Click Here to vote VA Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day!

Happy Sipping Friends - Tell your friends about the blog and thanks for your support and kind emails !

Dezel


Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2009. All rights reserved.

Pick One Up: Virginia Wine Lover Spring 2009 Edition


Hello Friends,

Just a friendly reminder – be sure to pick up a copy of the new spring 2009 edition of Virginia Wine Lover magazine with Virginia’s own wine superstar sommelier, Mary Watson, gracing the cover. In this issue, Mary responds to questions about the Virginia wine industry, wine and food pairings, and much, much more. Mary also recommends a few Virginia wines for you Virginia wine lovers to try and enjoy. Additionally, there is a nice article that jumps into the heart of Central Virginia wine country, as well as many other good reads.

Find out what Mary has to say in VWL 2009 Spring Edition

And can you believe, even with a different hairstyle, sometimes a cap, sun glasses, sans the vine dress; Mary was still recognized as the Virginia Grape Goddess in the Charlottesville tasting rooms during our group tour on the Monticello Wine Trail. Now, that is a wine super star, friends! Magazines can be found in most Virginia tasting rooms, local wine stores, boutique shops, etc. If you have trouble finding a copy, try requesting one at the Virginia Wine Lover website.

Happy Sipping!


Stay tuned friends ...Look for short summaries on other visits from our fun-filled weekend on the Monticello Wine Trail. Also, be sure to see what Todd of Wine Compass has to say about the Monticello Wine Trail - CLICK HERE.

Click Here to vote VA Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day!

Happy Sipping Friends - Tell your friends about the blog and thanks for your support and kind emails !

Dezel


Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2009. All rights reserved.

Ronco del Gnemiz Schioppettino

Ronco del Gnemiz Schioppettino

There’s something about Ronco del Gnemiz’s Schioppettino that makes it a real party wine. It may have been the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc that went before it, but I’d like to think that it was the Ronco del Gnemiz Schioppettino that sent the Valentines day party (or my personal experience of it) into new realms of “I knew I liked you the minute I met you” and “We should set up in business” and all those other wonderful things you say when a great wine sends you over the line from acceptably merry into, well, rather tiddled. Of course it was the euphoria from the quality of the grape juice and NOT the alcohol that sent my head spinning even though, coincidentally, this comes in at a whopping 14.5%.

This wine is one of four wines I tried over this weekend from the Berry Bros and Rudd delivery mentioned last week. The Schioppettino was the best of the bunch, but there wasn’t much to choose here with all these wines separated by just 3 points. Last week I blogged about Moschioni’s Pignolo, well Moschioni also produce the best Schioppettino out there too.

Schioppettino is another (like Pignolo) native grape to the Friuli region of Italy. The Schioppetino grape is capable of creating great wines on its own but is sometimes included in blended Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC wines. On its own Schioppettino produces dark ruby red, dry wines of a good body with high acidity. Italian grape varieties 101 concluded, and on to the reviews!

Ronco del Gnemiz Schioppettino 2006PASS – €40
Deep brooding purple, on the nose this wine brought oodles of black pepper, herbs and dark fruits, a slight perfume note lingered too. The mouth feel was huge, a fat wine with plenty of fruit put me in mind of Syrah. Good length on the finish but not £33 for my palate. 90 Points

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2008PASS – €25
Golden yellow in colour. A rich bouquet, fresh and tropical and quick to give it up too. Good acidity and freshness and continuing with a pineapple/zesty theme. A touch clipped on the end and a little watery too. Nice wine but again, not value. 88 Points

Ara Composite Sauvignon Blanc 2006 – BUY – €12
Striking golden yellow. Quickly aromatic with some grassy notes with plenty of fruit backing it up, pineapples and bananas. This wine is more honeyed than the Cloudy Bay but also suffers from a slightly watery finish, the acidity was a little off. A well put together if simple Sauvignon Blanc, a touch flabby but good QPR here. 87 Points

Pulenta Estate Malbec 2005BUY – €18
Dark puple in the glass. Lots of ripe dark fruit on the nose, blackberries but a hint of sweetness, a little raisined and for me, the wine screamed Black Forest Gateaux. On the palate the wine continues that raisined aspect, good amounts of fruit, held together well this is a big wine but not killing me with tannins. Tastes great and should take some ageing too. Good-O. 89 Points

See, I told you the BBR delivery would produce a lack of QPR. How thrilled I am to be right at the expensive of my pocket. The website is pretty thou!

All these wines can be purchased at Berry Bros and Rudd.

Leave a Comment
What did you drink over Valentines? Ever tried any of these wines? What will the falling pound mean for your drinking habits? We shall see our wine prices go up 25% for US and European wines over the next few months, what will you do? Drink British!? If you’re not British, which 75% of you are not, please leave us your condolences.

“Here’s To The Corkscrew…

...a useful key to unlock the storehouse of wit,  the treasury of laughter, the front door of fellowship and the gate of pleasant folly" ~ W.E.B. French

The Caveman’s Wine Blog 2009-02-15 17:13:00

Can't hold the sulphites?

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding organics and wine, and especially about the role of sulphites in organic wine. But why are they there? Are they dangerous? If so, for whom? And if they are necessary, then what are acceptable levels?

Sulphites refer to the family of sulphur-based compounds - those most commonly used in winemaking being the gas, sulphur dioxide (SO2), and the powder, potassium metabisulphite. Sulphites are naturally produced by many organisms and found in such food items as grapes, oranges and chicken eggs. They are even produced by our own bodies, close to a gram per day.

Because of their antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, they are used as preservatives for a number of foods, including dried fruit, shrimp, fruit juice, potato chips and a variety of fresh vegetables. Ultimately, they keep our foods fresh-looking and give them a longer shelf life. And wine is no different.

How sulphites get in your wine

All wines contain sulphites. They are a naturally occurring by-product of the fermentation of grape sugars by yeasts. The amount is minimal, generally under 10 mg/L, but that means a sulphite-free wine does not exist. But adding extra sulphite has become an accepted and, for most, a necessary part of modern winemaking's battle against the two enemies of wine: bacteria and excessive oxygen.

They are used to clean winemaking equipment, like barrels, which assures that spoilage bacteria like brettanomyces do not become a problem in the winery. They are added directly to the uncrushed grapes as they come in from the field, which helps prevent unwanted wild yeast strains and other bacteria from taking control.

During fermentation, some winemakers will add sulphur to protect the future wine from contact with oxygen. Because it is a yeast killer, it is sometimes added to stop a fermentation if the winemaker wants to leave some residual sugar in the wine, as with German Rieslings. Perhaps the most significant addition happens at bottling, where a final dose of SO2 is added to protect the wines while they are being shipped around the world. Even more importantly for wines that are to be cellared, sulphite additions are used to prevent oxidation, assuring that the wines will reward those who stash their bottles away.

Free and combined

One of the peculiarities of sulphites is that they are constantly being ingested by the wine, reacting with oxygen and other chemical elements. These are referred to as "combined" sulphites. Once ingested, they have little or no preservative effect on the wine.

Free sulphites are the uncombined sulphur compounds that remain in the wine and protect it from oxidation and other potential problems, such as an unwanted fermentation that can result from the combination of having live yeasts and residual sugars in the wine, and storing the wine at too high a temperature (above 14C).

I remember a case of vouvray I bought a couple of years back that had no added SO2. When I bought it, it was demi-sec, meaning that it had some residual sugar in it. During the winter, when my cellar temperature hovers around 10C, the bottles were fantastic. But as summer arrived and the temperature rose in my cellar, because the wines still contained live yeasts, my wine started fermenting. The result? My slightly sweet white transformed itself into a dry bubbly. It was still okay, but not what I paid for.

Sulphites and your health

I spent the better part of a week looking at whom, in fact, the "contains sulphites" warning is for. Not very many of us, apparently. Studies seem to point to two groups: people who suffer from sulphite oxidase deficiency (under one per cent of the population) and asthmatics. In the case of asthmatics, reactions only seem to occur when sulphites are near the maximum allowable levels (over 300 mg/L). There is little evidence that they are bad for the rest of us.

What about the classic "red wine headache" after an evening of revelry? Sulphites are usually blamed, but red wines usually have the least amount of sulphites, because they already contain natural antioxidants that come from the skins and the branches of the grapes. White wines and rosés, which aren't macerated with the grape skins, require more. Sweet wines have the most, because the SO2 combines so readily with the sugar. It seems that headache comes from other elements of a red wine - perhaps histamines.

In the European Union, the maximum sulphite level for red wine is 160 mg/L. The limit for whites and rosés is 210 mg/L, and for sweet wines it's 400 mg/L. In the U.S. and Canada, the maximum level is set at 350 mg/L. While organic certification agencies are specific to grape growing, certain agencies (like the biodynamic certification agency Demeter) do impose limits on the maximum amount of sulphites allowed in wines made with biodynamic grapes, which is usually half of "conventional wines."

When I asked the SAQ laboratory about its policy on sulphite levels, the response was that while they check to assure a wine is under the maximum allowable levels, they don't have a specific amount that they want to see in a wine. If they judge it necessary, however, they will ask winemakers to increase sulphite levels. Their primary concern, like most retailers, is shelf life. This means that many of our wines probably contain more sulphites than necessary. I have talked with a couple of organic winemakers who add extra SO2 to satisfy their export markets, even though they feel their wine doesn't need it.

So why hold the sulphites?

If the health issue is not very important, why even be concerned about sulphite levels? My concern is a qualitative issue. Sulphur dioxide smells like a freshly struck match. Studies show that most people can detect the odour at over 40 mg/L, though some sensitive noses can detect it at lesser levels.

Marcel Lapierre, Beaujolais winemaker and one of the gurus of "natural winemaking" (wines without added sulphur), told me that sulphur alters the aromatics of his wine. I would concur. I drink lots of these wines, and they have a purity of fruit in their bouquet that one does not find in more conventionally made wines. I know many wine makers who only add at bottling as they believe that earlier sulphite additions have a negative effect on the fermentation process, again , especially for the aromatics.

On the other hand, I have had a number of these wines that went the route of my vouvray. While certain winemakers have theories as to how to almost completely reduce the need for sulphites, I am happy with those who try to use the minimum.

Back to being bitter about modern wines next article.

Valentine’s Day Fun

Looking for something to do on Valentine’s Day today? Breaux is doing their Chocolate and Cabernet tasting both Saturday and Sunday, tickets are $20. Barrel Oak will be rocking the winery with their Chocolate Lab and Sparkling Spanish wines served with homemade chocolate and live music. Entrance to the loft is $45. Philip Carter Winery will be pairing their wines with chocolate from

The Caveman’s Wine Blog 2009-02-13 06:53:00

My Sweet Clemence-wine

Devoté of Michel Rolland, Dauriac's Clemence has garnered a reputation as one of the better 'new' properties in Pomerol. I love to hate what Rolland does, and usually I find good reason to do so. Not so for the 2003 and 2006.


Pomerol 2003, Château La Clemence
Dark, ripe plums, slightly sweet, hint of licorice, with fresh vanilla bean. For such a hot vintage, where so many wines were excessively tannic, Michel Rolland's strategy of micro-ox seems to have worked- the tannins are firm, but round and mouth coating. Wonderfully complex, though very much on the fruit rather than the earthier notes, you really don't want it to stop. Sure, lots of oak, but there is enough substance to handle it.

Pomerol 2004, Château La Clemence
Goopy, sticky, sweet fruit. Lacking acidity. Not lacking oak. Very forced. Many people did a great job in 2004, not here.

Pomerol 2005, Château La Clemence
Very chocolaty, which at first sip reminded me of Nestle's Quick. But with a few swirls of the glass, it opens up, with expresso, licorice and some sweet fruit, and stifling oak. Not the most comfortable wine to have in your mouth except for the cool menthol finish. Interesting, though not particularly fun to drink, at least for the moment.

Pomerol 2006, Château La Clemence

Good, though very young, modern Bordeaux. A refreshing acidity, just a hint of chocolate, and very intense red fruit. The sweetness here is infers a perfect ripeness rather than excessive hangtime. While it is still oak-laden, it seems to have a better balance than the 2005. I have more hope for this in the long run than the 2005, despite the reputation of the 2005 vintage.

Rioja ephiphany


Crazy ideas need a crazy followup. One such crazy idea was hatched on a recent evening when a friend of mine suggested preparing fish with mushrooms. Fish with mushrooms? Every rustic bourgeois Frenchwoman deep within my soul turned in her rustic French grave. (Please, just go with the image.) So what better wine to pour alongside a papillotte of monkfish with black chanterelles, minced Serrano ham and shallots than, of course, an aged red Rioja?

Huh?

I was skeptical. But with the perfect uncloudedness of hindsight, I see that that was an inspired choice. And not just the pairing: the wine. Oh, the wine! This was one of those wines that make you realize why you spend 2/3 of your waking time* thinking, reading and writing about wine, as well as drinking it.

1985 López de Heredia Viña Tondonia - a gorgeous nose of strawberry and underbrush immediately grabbed my attention. I had in my glass that magical thing, a wine you want to coddle and sniff for a long while before even sipping it. Such glorious aromatics. At last, though, I struck out to discover if it was going to be an interesting sip, to boot. Zounds. On the palate, it was even better than what its heady scents promised. Such death-defying complexity! Waves of silky, elegant fruit and earthiness, with a sudden twist of sap and bark right in the middle, and then playing out forever, until I was wide-eyed and shaking my head. Wow.

And, some time later, as the level of the wine in the decanter got dangerously low, I savored its last sips in their full bloom, along with the utterly nosh-worthy monkfish decked out in minced black mushrooms.

Not so crazy, it turns out. Just insanely good.


*Depending on the day.

Veritas Vineyard & Winery: Barrels of Red & White Delights!


Hello Friends,

This past weekend I saddled up with a motley collection of industry professionals, budding wine enthusiasts, and those darn wine bloggers to take a great-grape ride on the Monticello wine trail. Good and bad news here, friends. Bad news first - of the 23 wineries on the Monticello wine trial we made appointments to visit only six of them. The good news - we have seventeen left to go, so Monticello wine trail, look out, you will see us again! Our first stop of the day was to Veritas Vineyard and Winery.

Veritas Vineyard & Winery

Veritas Vineyard and Winery is located in Afton, Virginia, and situated amidst beautiful surroundings at the foot of the wondrous Blue Ridge Mountains. Veritas is a family-run operation owned by Andrew and Patricia Hodson, who opened for business in June of 2002. Their daughter Emily, who recently won the Judges Choice Award in a national competition, shares the winemaking duties with her father. Let’s step into the tasting room, shall we?

Tasting Bar

The Veritas tasting room is beautifully designed, exuding elegance and luxury in a relaxing atmosphere. Tall ceilings, wooden floors, comfortable leather sofas and chairs, eating areas, a large fireplace, and a long tasting bar are some of the niceties offered to make your wine tasting experience and visit enjoyable. A trained and knowledgeable staff is on hand to answer any of your questions and to tell you all about Veritas Vineyard’s full spectrum of red and white wine selections.

Tasting Room

We were greeted upon arrival by winemaker Emily Pelton and in-house sommelier Thomas Roberts. We were all led down to the barrel room to sample some of Emily’s developing wines. Barrel tasting is both enjoyable and enlightening, and is an excellent way to gauge where the ine is in its maturation process.

Barrel Tasting with Emily Pelton and Thomas Roberts

The following brief notes are from several of the barrel samples I thoroughly enjoyed. Although these wines are in their developmental stage, they reflect the care that went into them in the vineyard and winery. Our tasting began with a beautiful Sauvignon Blanc, which I found to be very attractive. This is a variety that I believe could do well here, but I do not run across too many (varietal) examples during my travels. Of the few local examples I have tasted, this is clearly one of the best, in that it is a nice wine with very good varietal character. This example is more Loire Valley - (Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé) like than the New Zealand-style many Sauvignon Blanc drinkers have become accustomed to. This is a wine of delicacy, with clean, fresh fruit, good acidity, and a smidgen of grassiness for added complexity. This wine is meant to be consumed young, so don’t be shy, pop the cork and enjoy upon release!

Tasting a little bubbly with winemaker Emily Pelton - Yum!

Also enjoyed were three barrel samples of Cabernet Franc from fruit harvested weeks apart. Time on the vine certainly makes a difference in flavor / aroma profile, as the first sample pulled displayed Cabernet Franc’s distinct violet and red berry aroma, while the second sample was more neutral, but had a fuller mouth feel. The third sample was more rounded and had desirable spice components and earthy nuances about it. Not sure what the final bottled result will be, but Emily has three good base wines to work with based on our tasting, and I look forward to the release of the 2008 Cabernet Franc wine(s).

We are smiling because we had a GREAT TIME at Veritas!

Another high quality red wine grape variety we enjoyed that is also generating a lot of excitement among Virginia wine lovers is Petit Verdot. This is a grape grown mainly in France’s Bordeaux region that is finding its legs here, so to speak. The sample we tasted displayed a gorgeous deep rich color and a pleasant fragrant and spicy character with good definition and structure. Not sure if this will be made into a varietal wine or not, but it sure would be nice if it is.

Barrels of fun (Yes, I mean that, literally)

Last but not least is the sweet ending. Veritas has a popular dessert selection named Othello, which is a blend of Tannat and Touriga Nacional. We had the opportunity to taste each wine on its own prior to blend, and it became quite apparent why they marry so well. One is rich and lush and full of boysenberry and blueberry flavors, yet teetering on the sweetness line of being cloying. The other has less flavor intensity, but more acidity, highlighted by baked fruit flavor components and pinches of cinnamon. Blended, I can see these two wines combining to create a hedonistic pleasure.

Enjoy wine and beautiful views

In closing, and I think I speak for the tasting group, we would like to thank Emily and Thomas for the enlightment, education, great wine, and good times. Every nose and palate in our tasting group unanimously agreed that Veritas Vineyard’s future releases are on their way to being solid Virginia wines. Congratulations on your 2008 vintage, Emily!

Info: Veritas Vineyard & Winery, 145 Saddleback Farm. Afton, Virginia 22920. 540.456.8000


Stay tuned friends ...Look for short summaries on other visits from our fun-filled weekend on the Monticello Wine Trail. Also, check out my previous visit to Veritas Vineyard here. And, be sure to see what Todd of Wine Compass has to say about the Monticello Wine Trail - CLICK HERE.

Click Here to vote VA Vine Spot as your favorite wine blog - You can vote 1x per day!

Happy Sipping Friends - Tell your friends about the blog and thanks for your support and kind emails !

Dezel


Dezel's Virginia Vine Spot © 2006-2009. All rights reserved.

Wine Language

Wine Language

It’s a funny old thing critiquing wines, the physical action of swirling, sniffing and slurping and the wine language we take for granted. Although I gain immeasurable pleasure from tasting wine, selling wine and talking about wine many of my friends dismiss the pastime as a load of old cobblers. “People drink wine to get hammered”, “Yes, I will tell you what it smells of, it smells of wine” its amazing how defensive people get about the idea of critiquing wine.

Last night I went over to a friends house who happens to be a lecturer at one of the Universities here in London whose “chosen subject for 20” is communication and language. Quite by accident we got into a tasting and discussion about the language of wine and the difficulties and challenges that face people new to the wine world. You can’t tell me a wine smells like a banana had you never tried one. It’s hard to pick out the nuances of a wines aroma past that “wine” smell without the confidence to express yourself. There are so many factors in play for those new to wine that it was interesting to remember what it was like when wine was for me too, what posh people banged on about.

Even more interesting is the fact that my friend, although not using the language I’ve picked up through being involved in wine, Wset and the biz, managed to accurately describe what was going on with the two very different wines we tasted. It’s quite rare to find such a fresh test subject, my friend is in her early 40s but has terrible reactions to wine so simply doesn’t drink it. She had no idea about varietals, regions, vinification techniques yet, what she managed to describe about the wine, after the initial “performance anxiety” would have been enough for us wine nuts to have a good stab at which wine she was drinking, right down to appellation and grape.

There is a movement at the moment, us bloggers being a part of that, to try to demystify wine and sand down the edges of this reputation of being a recreation of the rich. I know many people who read this blog may not know all that much about wine but everyone still has a palate (baring birth defects and terrible accidents) and I encourage everyone to make tasting notes about their wines. After all, you paid good money for your wine experience whether that was down at Tesco or a specialized wine store. It amazes me that people will continue to buy the same old wines and not experiment with anything new. We don’t do it with food, I think we all like a variance in our diets and enjoy trying new cuisine. We trust that we do like a McDonalds Quarterpounder but not the Filet-o-fish and no one will sass you for expressing that opinion.

So for a change, here is the “tasting note” my friend made. None the less valid, and she knows, that if she ever gets over her negative physical reaction to wine, or has to buy wine for a friend, she’ll opt for the Californian Syrah over the Gamay Morgon Beaujolais.

Domaine Maurice Gaget Morgon Cote de PyPASS – €14
Well, its red but my bulbs have a red-ish tint, the lights in here are not really good for this kind of thing. Ok, ok, dark red. Hmmm, smells like a swimming pool, chlorine, it smells cold and alcoholic, I’m not really getting any smells of grapes or any fruits really. Its really quite thin isn’t it, and really acidic and sour. I didn’t really get any of those tannins things you were talking about on this one or a finish. I don’t like it

From this description, no tannins, acidic but red, “cold” you’d be guessing at a colder climate, thin graped wine. The being “dark” might throw you, but we can take this as just an indication of youth.

Bonny Doon Syrah Le PousseurBUY – €14
This is a darker red, looks much thicker. Smells richer than the other wine, I’m still not sure of much on the smell. Its far more tannic though, the wine is heavier and dries my mouth out more, much more depth and I can taste Blackberries, lingers longer once you’ve finished the wine. I do like it

And we’d be making a guess at a thicker skinned grape and warmer climate.

Whats the point in this Newton?! The point is, even if you know nothing about wine, you know what you like and what you don’t and that is good enough. You don’t have to publish tasting notes but keeping a record is a great way to stop you buying the same bottle of tosh a month later. You will begin to understand what regions/grapes you DO like and hence, waste less money on bad wine purchases. People buy which magazine because informed purchases are important, you don’t repeatedly buy fruits and veg you don’t care for; your palate is your own. Keep tasting notes, not only does it make financial sense it will open up a whole new world of pleasure and education.

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Do you experience reverse wine snobbery? Or are you intimidated by wine and it’s language. If you frequently publish notes, share your first ones they are often highly entertaining. C’mon embarrass yourself! :p

The Caveman’s Wine Blog 2009-02-11 04:21:00


The Science of Smell

Dear Caveman:
When I read your wine descriptions, I find intriguing expressions such as: “Smells like a Mediterranean-style vegetarian pizza. Sun-dried tomatoes, black olives and herbs, with a touch of cherry vanilla." Where do these aromas come from? If they are actually the by-product of fermentation of crushed grapes in an oak barrel, then aren’t these conclusions about “sun-dried tomatoes, black olives and herbs, with a touch of cherry vanilla” socially constructed and ultimately subjective?
Ricardo

The short answer is that while the naming of these aromas may be subjective – in that each of us has our own “aroma and taste memory” and thus associates certain aromas with different things – there is a scientific explanation as to how a wine made only with grapes can evoke such un-grapey smells.

The sources of many of these aromas are volatile aromatic compounds. Some come from the grapes themselves or are by-products of the fermentation of the grape’s juice. But the ones that Ricardo was referring to are results of the aging of the wine, both in an oak barrel and in a bottle. This is still an area of wine that is not completely understood, but research is happening on a number of different fronts, so here is the science.

Aroma vs. bouquet

Émile Peynaud, a French oenologist considered by many to be the father of modern winemaking, drew a distinction between aroma and bouquet. For Peynaud, “aroma” is used to describe what we smell in a young wine – those grapey and fruitier aromas that result from the pressing of the grapes and the fermentation of the grapes’ sugars. If you have ever been in a room where a wine is fermenting, you will never forget the smell – ripe, juicy fruit mixed with a blend of alcohol and yeast. Open any bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau and you will have a good idea of what I am talking about.

Peynaud said “bouquet” is the result of aging a wine, which is where many of these non-grapey aromas can result. While the subtle chemical interactions are not completely understood, these new odours result from the interaction between those primary aromatic compounds and outside influences like oak barrels and oxygen.

It starts with the grape

So everything starts with those primary aromas, and thus the grapes you bring in from the field. The Chinon referred to by Ricardo evoked sun-dried tomatoes, black olives and herbs. I took a look at some other reviews I had done of wines made with the same cabernet franc grape, and I found one that described the wine (Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgeuil 2005, Les Mauguerets-La Contrie) as smelling of “green peppers and violets … (and) a mix of raspberry and charcoal.” Why the difference?

Two University of British Columbia researchers, Steven Lund and Joerg Bohlmann, recently published a study that examined how a number of different factors affect primary aromas. They refer to the assortment of chemical compounds that cause aromas as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). How and where a grape is grown will ultimately affect the degree to which these grapes will show such things as varietal character as well as “the dozens to hundreds of chemical compounds that have yet to be discovered and characterized.”

So the same grape grown in different soils, in different years, will smell different. And the amount and proportion of these compounds to one another will ultimately affect the bouquet as a wine ages.

The molecules of scent

Lund and Bohlmann have broken down a wine’s aromatics into component compounds. So if your Gewürztraminer smells of flowers, it is in part due to “monoterpene compounds, chiefly geraniol and citronellol.” And if your Sauvignon Blanc tastes slightly grassy, the compound is part of the “methoxypyrazine family, specifically 2-methoxy-3-isobutylpyrazine,” which develops during the green stages of the grape but gets metabolized as the grape ripens. If your Sancerre tastes like freshly cut grass and your white Bordeaux doesn’t, although they are both made with Sauvignon Blanc, that is because the Bordeaux is often riper, so it will have less 2-methoxy-3-isobutylpyrazine.

How about black pepper in Shiraz? Rotundone is the chemical compound responsible for that one. A study done by the Australian Wine Research Institute of different vineyards in Australia showed that shiraz grapes showed different levels of this compound depending on the clones used, soil types and climate.

And what about the sun-dried tomatoes in my Chinon? According to Jamie Goode, “cis-3-hexenol is the prime culprit,” although cabernet franc also has the same leafy 2-methoxy-3-isobutylpyrazine as the Sauvignon Blanc I mentioned.

Bouquet

So as a wine matures and its bouquet develops, much like great cuisine, its odour becomes the sum of its component parts. Many of these VOCs are in a sense dormant when the wine is young. As VOCs react with one another, as well as with oxygen and alcohol, they will begin to show themselves.

A good example of this is oak. In a young, freshly bottled wine, the oak is often very pronounced, and in fact the wine has a distinct smell of wood. But as the wine ages, the vanillin – which is an oak-derived VOC and part of the family of aldehydes – will react with oxygen to give an odour of vanilla. Oak barrels are also a source of many of the cooking spices we find in wines, like cinnamon, coriander and nutmeg. Every barrel, depending on the wood source, will offer a different aromatic cocktail to the wine.

So this is why a grape can ultimately smell like “sun-dried tomatoes, black olives and herbs, with a touch of cherry vanilla.” But why doesn’t everyone smell that? Well, there is the cultural factor. If you have never smelled a sun-dried tomato, the name you give to such an aroma might differ. But there is also sensitivity: All noses are not created equal. Many VOCs are in such small concentrations that people with highly sensitive noses might pick up on elements that others miss.

But for the majority of us, it is simply a question of working our aromatic memories. Because wines can be complex, they often do not make us think of one particular aroma. This is why I sometimes will mention situations, like walking through a cool forest in the fall after a rain. How do you develop this memory? The first step is to load your memory with as many smells as possible.

So, as the proverb goes, stop and smell the roses – or the pizza, in my case.

Scary Monsters and the Maryland Direct Shipment Proposal

When I was a little kid growing up in New Jersey, I used to love watching the old Abbott and Costello movies that were run each Sunday morning on WPIX out of New York City. My all time favorite movie by this duo was “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.”  In the film, the hapless duo encounters three of cinema’s most terrifying monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man.  Hilarity ensues.

Of course this begs the question, what do Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man have to do with Maryland’s Direct Shipment proposal? Because just like Abbott and Costello, abbott.jpgMaryland’s Wholesalers will undoubtedly unleash their three scariest monsters onto the general public as the Maryland Legislature considers its direct shipment legislation. In no particular order, the wholesalers’ monsters are: 1) underage access to alcohol over the Internet; 2) organized crime; and 3) illegal shipments of wine by wineries.

In the days and weeks ahead, I would like to take each of these ‘monsters’ in turn and demonstrate that they are nothing more than scare tactics unleashed by Maryland Wholesalers on the general public. Let’s start with access to wine over the Internet by underage drinkers.

This is by far the favorite monster of the Wholesale lobby and the good folks over at Vinotrip are already on the case. Time and again Wholesalers testify before elected officials and tell the same scary story: direct shipment will allow underage kids to easily access wine over the Internet. As the story goes, kids will simply hop onto the Internet, order some wine through with their parent’s credit card and wait for it to show up at their door.

But just like any monster, this is a story that has no factual support. Indeed, the real monster lurking in the shadows is often the parents themselves. This is evidenced by a June 2008 study from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The study provides a broad overview of the problem of underage drinking, but one chapter is relevant to our discussion.

Specifically, Chapter 4.3 of the report is dedicated entirely to how underage drinkers gain access to alcohol. The research is organized by age group (i.e., 12 - 14; 15 - 17; and 18 - 20) and mechanisms for alcohol procurement are identified for each (e.g., took from home, received from parent, etc.). Although HHS uses three separate bar charts in their table, I have consolidated their results into a single graph, which is contained below:

chart-1-final.jpg

Although the chart identifies the numerous ways in which underage kids gain access to alcohol, noticeably absent is any mention whatsoever of the Internet. This is particularly striking since at the time the report was released, the Pew Internet & American Life Project released a report (Adobe Acrobat required) finding that 73% of respondents (about 147 million adults) were internet users, and the share of Americans who had broadband connections at home was 42% (about 84 million). In other words, the Internet was embedded in mainstream American life in 2006 when HHS was compiling its data.

Moreover, a quick look at the data reveals that in the overwhelming majority of instances, kids are getting alcohol through social contacts (e.g., their parents, guardians or someone’s home), not retail contacts.  In this regard, I thought it would help to aggregate these data sets into broader categories to see the results. My reconstructed chart is contained below:

chart-2-final.jpg

Looking at the numbers in this way demonstrates that the vast majority of kids — between 81% and almost 90% — are clearly obtaining alcohol through non-Internet means. The monster is not the Internet, it is parents, guardians, adults and unlocked liquor cabinets. The only exceptions to this rule are the categories identified in the HHS chart as “Other” and in those instances where kids purchased the alcohol on their own. Taking each of these in turn, even the most basic research reveals that these other sources of alcohol cannot be placed at the Internet’s doorstep.

For example, the category identifying kids who purchase alcohol themselves illustrates that as kids get older, this acquisition method for alcohol increases. That makes logical sense: as kids get older, they look older, and their ability to purchase alcohol through use of fake IDs increases. And this logic is backed up by various reports and surveys, including this one from the Centers for Disease Control.

As far as the “Other” category goes, there is not much to say.  As a threshold matter it is a relatively smaller subset of the overall group.  In addition, it was likely included as a ‘catch-all’ for less prominent means of access (e.g., stole from a store, purchased at a sporting event, etc.).

The bottom line, wholesalers’ arguments about kids accessing alcohol through the Internet should be dismissed out of hand.  It is nothing more than a scary monster manufactured by their industry to try to scare the public and legislators.

Franz Haas Wines

Franz Haas Wines

Franz Haas, 10 points if you can guess which part of Italy this wine producer comes from? Those with any knowledge of Italian history or geography will be able to figure out that Franz Haas wines are from the German speaking south Tyrol/Alto Adige region of Italy bordering Austria. The Franz Haas estate is located almost exactly half way between Trento and Bolzano just off the E45. The Alto Adige has a growing reputation for excellence in both red and white wines with rising popularity in the the native Lagrein, as well as excellent production of international varietals like Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and even some zippy Pinot Neros.

Franz Haas produces eleven high quality red, white and blended wines at a fair price point which is why we’ve decided to add this producer at the Cellar Door. Perhaps not the most famous or prestigious producer, that accolade would go to the likes off Hoffstatter, Lageder or Manincor, Franz Haas represents QPR and joins Michael Eppan for our Trentino/Alto Adige range.

Of these eleven wines I believe the best value comes from the Pinot Nero (2 bottlings) the Traminer Aromatico (Gewürztraminer) and the superb blend, perhaps the best value white blend of the region, the Manna.

Manna, named after Franz Haas wife, Luisa (Manna, obviously) is a blend of Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon and late harvest Gewürztraminer. The wine shows telling minerality and is an award winning effort year on year with GR and a consistent 88-90 point wine. In the red corner, it is the Pinot Nero, both the standard bottling and the excellent Schweizer (produced only in the best vintages) that deserve your full quaffing attention.

The wines of Franz Haas
MüllerThurgau – €10 (white)
The lowest priced wine of the Franz Haas collection and the lowest calorie too! Those who follow my tweets will have already seen that if you’re on a diet MüllerThurgau is the wine for you. An excellent accompaniment to seafood. QPR Value – 3/5
Pinot Grigio – €12 (white)
High yields, high production and very popular. However, so many better whites here, if you’re a PG fan there’s probably little I can do to put you off. QPR Value 2/5

Pinot Bianco – €14 (white)
A similar production scale to the MT. Many of the Alto Adige wineries are putting out Pinot Bianco, the Haas version has good acidity and I’d pair it up with a salad or risotto. QPR Value 2/5

Traminer Arimatico – €18 (white)
This is a seriously good example of what can be done with Gewürztraminer. The yields here are smaller than the other whites, this is a bottling of which the producer is rightfully proud I highly recommend you try this full bodied and aromatically interesting wine. QPR Value 4/5
Manna – €22 (white)
Here she is! The white you really want to try from Franz Haas, the blended little blighter, created out of love especially for fans of the Alto Adige. This is a 4 grape blended white that will set you drooling. It’s a great food pairing wine for vegetarian dishes too. Complex, good structure and with ageing capabilities. One of Italy’s best value white wines. QPR Value 5/5
Moscato Rossa – €22 – (rose)
Indigenous Moscato Rossa is expensive for Italian rose but this is because of the very low yields (real low, 15 hectolitres p/h low). This Moscato Rossa is one of the regions best Rose wines in top vintages. If you find food pairings for oriental food tricky, this one works beautifully. QPR Value 3/5
Lagrein – €17 (red)

The native Lagrein is an en-vogue Italian grape, gaining popularity quicker than retailers seem able to stock it. Not my personal favourite producer of Lagrein but a reliable and representative example. QPR Value 2/5

Pinot Nero – €22 (red)
Pinots from this part of Italy are very good value and the standard Pinot from Haas is 90-92 point effort year on year. Considering the Schweizer is €8 more and only splits a point or two with this version, its a judgement call for which you buy. The Schweizer is certainly riper and more tannic . QPR Value -4/5

Pinot Nero Schweizer – €30 (red)

The best single variety production at Franz Haas. The wine is velvety, aromatic and great with game dishes. This is a quality Alto Adige Pinot and taking into consideration Pinot Noir wines from around the world, very good value. QPR Value – 4/5

Istante – €25 (red)
Blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot this is another great blend from Haas. This is the “cult” wine of Haas with a small production of just 6000 bottles in some vintages. Ageing capabilities and a very good complete wine. Interesting. QPR Value – 4/5

Merlot – €19 (red)
This one is under-rated. The Pinot Nero steals the red wine thunder at Franz Haas but it might be this Merlot that actually represents the best value. An earthy 90 point Merlot from a producer of this quality under €20 is great deal. QPR Value – 4/5

So there you have it. The great value production of Franz Haas in a handy little pocket sized guide. Of course you’ll have to print it out and fold it for yourself, but you’re a resourceful bunch. Sadly, I didn’t get around to talking about what I really wanted to mention today, and that is why so many wine labels have dogs on them. I suppose there’s always tomorrow.

Leave a Comment
Franz Haas, do you rate these wines? Why are there so many dogs on wine labels and in wine names? Why not kittens or hamsters? It’s always great big dogs too, never Miniature Schnauzers. If I’m wrong, please link up some wine labels! Au Revoir.

The Caveman’s Wine Blog 2009-02-09 18:18:00

Newer Franc

Chinon 2006, l'Huisserie
, Domaine Philippe Alliet
Next to Joguet's Chene Vert is Alliet's new baby
vineyard, filled with young vines. For you fans of Alliet, this is just plain weird- very ripe, sweet fruit, soft tannins, very little complexity, just fruit, fruit, fruit. But it works. This was not meant to be cellared, this is supposed to be guzzled. I would like to send a bottle of this to every fruit bombing winemaker. Don't over extract young vines. New oak does not a great wine make. Stop putting lipstick on 12 year olds.

Anjou Villages 2005, Clos Médecin, Domaine de Brizé
Strawberry sorbet, cherries, with a pinch of green pepper, cilantro, maybe even some cabbage. Strange mix when you think about it. The ensemble finishes on a spicy, juicy, peppery note. Easy drinking wine. Serve slightly chilled. Goes well with Tatziki.

Chinon 2004, Vieilles Vignes, Clos de la Dioterie, Charles Joguet
It's a summer meal in a glass, dessert and all. It's a piece of meat, cooked blue, covered in red berries and tarragon. The fruit then gets redder and sweeter, with a lime-like freshness. Your espresso is there as well. I am sure one day this will all come together.


Sergio Mottura Grechetto Latour a Civitella

Sergio Mottura Grechetto Latour a Civitella

Sergio Mottura Grechetto Latour a Civitella is one of Italy’s best Grechetto wines but a little on the QT *taps nose* internationally. Within Italy the wine is well known, mostly because Mottura is one of only two Lazio producers to ever bag a Tre Bicchiere award with Gambero Rosso elevating the producer into the same strata as the mighty Falesco. Tellus more….. (get it? No? Ok moving on).

Grechetto is really not known as a grape producing great whites. This bottling comes from Northern Lazio (Civitella d’Angliano) and the grape is actually a Greek native that finds its best expression generally not in Lazio, but just over the border in Umbria in the Orvieto DOC. If you’ve tried Grechetto chances are you were actually drinking Orvieto DOC and whilst there are a couple of producers bringing out the best in Grechetto in Umbria, bizarely it is Mottura in his corner of Lazio scooping the awards. Grechetto Latour a Civitella is generally thought to be the finest expression of Grechetto in all of Italy.

Most Italian wines I feature that are without international press are hard for you guys to come by but Mottura will handle personal orders, even as small as a case of 6 wines and forward them to the UK, USA and mainland Europe meaning I do not have to complete that tiring “Where can I find this wine” section today 😀

Grechetto, and especially this bottle, have ageing capabilities and shows a completely different character with a further 10 or even just 5 years. Gambero Rosso even went as far to claim that with 10 years ageing this sub £20 bottle is one of Italy’s finest white wines. If you fancy trying this for yourself, which I’m sure you will after reading my review, then you can order direct from Mottura here and avoid those pesky retailers.

Sergio Mottura Grechetto Latour a Civitella 2004BUY – £15
Rich, deep golden colour and a real force on the nose. Tropical aromas of pineapple, even bananas and cream as well as a touch of pleasant oak. Fruity and balanced on the palate, rich and opulent with a smooth long finish. Beautiful wine and will improve – 92 Points

There’s a lot of BUY, BUY, BUY recently, but fear not, for those that like to see my wines bomb you’ll be pleased to know my BBR shipment arrived today and I’m sure at least half will be eye poppingly terrible. *crosses fingers*

No Buy section today as mentioned but please…..

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Grechetto, ever tried it? Or even La Tour ever tried it?! Just say whatever you like, anything goes with me you know that by now. Cheery bye. x