Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Wine Word Wednesday: Primitovo

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Secret Of High Altitude Vineyards Of Argentina

The Salta region in Argentina is know to have the highest altitude vineyards.  70 % of the vineyards are located in the Calchaquies Valley.  There are 7,900 acres planted with grapes.

Starting at 4,900 above sea level there are grapes planted to 10,210 feet above sea level. Colome which has been located in the Calchaqui Valley since 1831 has the highest  vineyards planted in the world.  Their Malbec thrives in the higher altitude. What does this mean for the grape.  Well, with the higher altitude this offers more sun and produces a thicker skinned on their Malbec grape. This creates a more robust taste and nice acidity.

The 2013 Colome Estate Malbec is a blend of Malbec from 4 vineyards all at different altitudes. The grapes from each of these altitudes contribute different attributes to the wine. The fruit from the La Brava Vineyard wich is at 5,740 brings intense and ripe fruit to the bottle. At 7,545 feet the grapes from the Colome Vineyard that surrounds the winery brings complexity and weight to the wine. Climbing a little higher to 8,530 feet above sea level grapes from the El Arenal Vineyard give the wine its elegance and freshness. At the top, 10,207 feet above sea level at the highest vineyard in the world, the grapes from this vineyard contribute the floral and mineral notes along with fine grain tannins.

After harvest the wine spent 15 months in French oak. The wine is very concentrated and has intense aromas of plum, hints of oak, and black fruit.  One
sip and there were flavors of  ripe black fruit,bursting in my mouth.  As the wine opened, there was hints of chocolate and slight pepper on the finish. The bold tannins and nice acidity made it a very food friendly wine.  I served it with a lamb stew.

The above Malbec retails for $25.

The Malbec also has a sister - Torrentes.  Torrontes happens to be the signature white wine of Argentina. The grapes sourced for this wine come from 30 to 60 year old vines and are age in stainless steel tanks. For me that is how I like my Torrentes, with no oak influence.

The high altitude for this grape contributes to a longer growing season and more retention of the grapes natural acidity and better flavor expression.  The soil is sandy with layers of gravel and this help with the drainage.

Colome's 2015 Torrontes was nice and crisp with floral notes on the nose along with hints of peach, citrus, and white grapefruit. Nice on the palate with tropical notes of pineapple, hints of  lychee and a soft white spice on the finish.

This didn't go without a dish, I served it with pasta and fresh pesto from the garden.

The Torrentes retails for $15

Friday, October 21, 2016

Little Known Facts About Champagne on Champagne Day

Today is National Champagne Day!  Woo Ho!. You don't need a special day to drink Champagne but you must have a bottle today.  And it's Friday, so even a better way to get your weekend started.

Here are a few facts about Champagne

  • Champagne is located 150 kilometres east of Paris
  • The first Champagne house was established in 1729
  • The limestone subsoil is a mix of chalk, limestone, sandstones and marls. This provides good drainage and explains the mineral taste you get in some of the wines.
  • Champagne Chalk is made of of skeletons of marine micro-organisms from the Secondary Era and it is very porous. This keeps the vines supplied with water.
  • The climate in  Champagne is both oceanic and continental. The continental influence gives ample sunlight during the summer. The oceanic influence brings the rainfall. 
  • Rose Champagne is made by:
    • Maceration where the Pinot Noir grapes sit on their skins between 24 and 72 hours until the desired color is reached. or...
    • Blending the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
The label is very important!  You will find 2 letters on the label that determine the registration code.

    • NM - Negociant manipulant which is what the big Champagne houses are. They are individual or a company that purchase grapes and may also grow their own and make Champagne in their facility
    • RM - Recoltant manipulant also known as Growers Champagne. A grower who makes and markets their own label of Champagne from grapes exclusively from their own vineyard.  

Most often Growers Champagne is less expensive than Champagne from the large houses and has the same quality if not at times better. If you can't afford that bottle of Dom Perignon look for a bottle priced beginning at $25 and the initials RM. You will be pleasantly surprised!

Stop and grab a bottle on your way home today and share it with friends!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Debate #2 with Amalaya Malbec

A few weeks ago I drank Amalaya Torrontes while I watched the debate.  I felt it's only fitting to write about it's brother the 2015 Amalaya Malbec after watching the following debate. (I realize this is posting a week after the debate)

Although I didn't drink this wine with the debate, ( I drank it the night before) like it's sister it is a blend, not of two but three grapes.  Grown in the high altitude Northern Calchaqui Valley of  Salta, Argentina this wine is a blend of 85% Malbec, 10% Tannat and 5% Syrah with 25% of the grapes aged in once used French oak for 10 months. All three varietals sit in their respective corners and are not blended together until they are ready for bottling.

Each of  these wines in the blend contribute different attributes to the wine. We'll begin with the dominate grape Malbec which will be the base of the wine with black cherry, raspberry and plum.  That little bit of Tannat is added for its floral characters it brings and the Syrah for its spicy notes.

Together you have a blend that has aromas of both dark, red fruit with a little voilet and a tinge of white pepper..  One sip and your mouth fills with red cherry, raspberry and a mix of other red fruit. The soft tannins lead the way towards a finish with a hint of mocha and white pepper spice.

Comparing this to the debate....well...I think this wine knows where it's going and is firm in its beliefs.

This is a drink now wine that retails for $16, This will be a great pizza wine!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Heading Down-Under with Two Hands

I have to confess, I am not a big Australian wine fan. In fact I rarely drink wine from that region. One of the great opportunities I have is to participate in a program called #winestudio which is on twitter Tuesday evenings at 9pm EST. Thanks to Tina Morey who does a dynamite job organizing the programming for this wine education class I get to participate, learn about wines and wine regions and as a result share it with you. I have to admit, I am changing my tune and really enjoying these wines.

This month my education takes us to Austrialia and Two Hands Wines. In the upcoming weeks I will be sharing with you the Picture Series (today) the Garden Series and I am fortunate enough to have a bottle of Ares from their Flagship Series.

Two Hands Wines was founded in 1999 by Michael Twelftree who began the brand as a negotiant. He sought out quality Shiraz in the different regions in Australia. As time past it has allowed him to build his brand and purchase vineyards of his own.  What stands out to me is that they determine what wine goes into each series by blind tasting.

Eric Guy from Protocol Wine interviewed Michael. Instead of me re-capping the interview, listen to Michael Twelftree himself talk about building his brand from an idea and passion for wine to what it is today. This will lead us into the tasting of his wines.

We began the tasting with the Picture Series which was two Shiraz and a Cabbernet Sauvignon.  The Picture Series is their entry level wines priced at $36. What defines the Picture Series?  This series is inspired by Michael's take on pop-culture. The labels are polaroid pictures (remember them)  by photographer Don Brice and a little photoshop  to have the outcome that puts a smile on your face.

Both the Sexy Beast (Cabernet Sauvignon) and the Angels' Share (Shiraz) come from the McLaren Vale region of South Australia.  The Gnarly Dudes (Shiraz) comes from the Barossa Valley. The difference between the two regions is the Barossa Valley is home to more old vines with the McLaren Vale region being greener.

I split up the pairings and paired the 2014 Gnarly Dudes Shiraz with a rib-eye steak.  This wine aged for 12 months in French oak which 15% was new and the rest was between one and six years old.  The color was very dark with almost purplish. Aromas of blackberry filled my glass with some earthy and meaty notes.  On my palate I felt the wine was a bit light. Perhaps I was expecting something a bit more complex. It was smooth and a bit fruit forward.  Nice blackberry and brambling fruit with hints of cedar.  There is some black pepper that sneaks up on your on the finish and quickly disappears.

The 2014 Angels' Share and 2015 Sexy Beast I served with pulled pork, roasted potatoes and a really good cranberry bean and bacon ragout. I found the Angels' Share to be a bit more complex than the Gnarly Dudes. Aged in oak for 12 months seeing 6% new French oak and the rest aged in oak one to six years old. With a very purple color, Angels' Share had notes of dark berry, mocha and clove. Black cherry and blueberry on the palate with nicely integrated tannins.  Mid palate shows hints of soft licorice and black pepper.  As the wine opens it becomes smoother with chocolate and black pepper on the finish.  The pepper just dances on the tip of your tongue.  Paired with the pork it creates its own flavor and brings out the spice in the wine without it being overly powerful.

The Sexy Beast was pretty sexy and playing hard to get. After spending 14 days soaking on the skins it was aged in 15% new Taransaud French oak and the rest in oak one to five years old.  This wine bold, but sexy. Green notes coming from the glass with a touch of bay leaf, plum, hints of earth and mocha. The palate was full of dark fruit, black currant, hints of clay, tannins that told you they were there.  Paired with the pork it was a battle. However with the beans it was a hot sexy match.  The fat from the bacon in the beans mellowed out the tannins producing a wine that was smooth and showcasing the fruit.

These three wines do have aging potential of  between 5-10 years.