Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Best Seyval Blanc I've Tasted

Seyval Blanc is a French-American white hybrid grape that grows very well in the Hudson Valley. I have to be honest here, I’ve always thought of it as producing an okay wine and I might be stretching at that. That is, until I tasted Benmarl’s 2017 Seyval Blanc and was blown away! I don’t usually get excited over Seyval Blanc, but I’m excited over what Matt is doing with his and I had to share.
I recently spent an afternoon with Matt Spaccarelli who is winemaker at his family’s winery, Benmarl and he and his partner Casey have their own label Fjord Vineyards. (There will be more later on that afternoon)

The Grapes

“The grapes are real tasty when their ripe says Matt, but the resulting wine we don’t like that much.” That is when the super ripe flavors and the wet dog smell come into play. Instead of picking at 21 or 22 brix, Matt picks at between 17 and 18 brix.
“We pick them young and get a crisp clean and high acid almost like a Melon de Bourgogne, says Matt. This year (2018) the grapes have no lees contact. It’s been racked twice, all that needs to be done is filter it, then in the bottle by Christmas.” We can look forward to this vintage in the spring.

The Wine

I don’t know where to begin. The grapes for the 2017 were picked at 17.9 brix. Nice minerality, fresh acidity and is so well balanced with hints of chamomile, mutsu apple, hint of citrus and lemon. Think Alsatian style blanc. This wine is a good apris ski wine, sitting on the deck wine, by the pool wine, holiday wine. It retails for $17.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Levant - The Ancient Area of Winemaking

The first time I heard the term Levant wine was August during our #winestudio program with Cremsin Wines. I was trying to grasp the term. Did it mean a region, a type of wine? What did it mean Levant wine?

In the four weeks that followed and thanks to Jason Bajalia from Terra Sancta Trading Company, I learned a lot about Levant wine and the region. You have to put your politics aside and open your palate and there is a whole new world of wine that has been there long before vines ever made it to Europe.

What does the term Levant mean? Levant is a historical geographic term that refers to the area bordering the Eastern Mediterranean sea, that includes Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. The region has a population of 44,550,926 with the largest cities being Damascus, Amnan, Alepo, Baghdad, Beirut, Gaza, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Winemaking is part of the history, religion and folklore of this ancient historical region.It’s where wine originally came from.

Terra Sancta Trading Company

How do these wines get to your table. It’s thank to people like Jason Bajalia who started Terra Sancta Trading Company to research and bring these wines to you. Jason was born and raised in San Francisco to Palestinian parents. He worked in the food and beverage industry before starting Terra Sancta. The history of alcohol in the region and his ancestral connection to the land is what led Jason to the region. He wants to introduce people to these products and help them understand the importance of the Levant today and the roll it has played in shaping the beverage industry. Jason has introduce me to Cremisan Wines and the indigenous varietals of Dabouki, Baladi, Hamdani and Jandali and I to you.

About Cremisan Wine Estate

Cremisan is located between Israeli apartment blocks and Palestinian luxury villas on the border between the West Bank and Jerusalem. The main building is actually in Jerusalem and hte store room that sits on the other side of the parking lot is in the West Bank.

Founded in 1885 Cremisan is run by the Salesian’s, a Catholic order of monks. Proceeds from the wine sales benefit the educational and charitable works of the Salesian order in the Holy Land. The works include a school and orphanage in Bethlehem.

In 2000 Italian wine maker Riccardo Cotarella visited the winery when touring the Holy Land. He fell in love with the area but found the winery lacking and set out to do something about it. He generously paid for the education of some of the young workers, and brought them to Italy for internships where they could expand on their knowledge of the trade.
Cotarella encouraged Cremisan to change their focus to native grapes that at the time they were only using in blends.

Cremisan is the most important winery in Palestinian, it was the first to enter wines in competitions for scoring and the first to be exported to Europe and USA.

The Cremisan Wines

Cremisan Wine Estate 2016 West Bank Dabouki
Dabouki means sticky in Arabic. The current Dabouki vines are between 80 and 100 years old. It grows in rocky, chalky limestone soil with a layer of humus in vineyards with many micro-climates. With aromas of golden apples, white flowers, fresh cut grass and lemon leads to a palate with hints of apricot, lemon and a zing of spice on the finish. A well balanced wine that is very food friendly. Went great with tomato salad and goat cheese and with BBQ chicken, the marinade seemed sweeter.

Cremisan Wine Estate 2014 West Bank Baladi
Baladi means local in Arabic. Local is, as I took this wine to a local restaurant, Kitchen 330 and shared it with my neighbor from Rombout Road who took the ferry over for the evening. With hints of earth and smoke leading to flavors of red fruit, black raspberry, blackberry with hints of licorice on the finish, this too, was very food friendly. Paired great with the hummus appetizer and really complimented the bacon with the monkfish that was wrapped in cherrywood smoked bacon and the scallops and prawn dish with coconut saffron risotto and andouille sausage.

Cremisan Wine Estate 2016 West Bank Hamdani Jandali
This wine is Cremisan’s “rockstar,” it put the winery on the map with Gold medals and 90pt scores. The grapes are grown mostly in the Bethlehem and Hebron at elevations of 2600 feet. The cooler micro-climate allows the grapes to have longer hang times and more controlled ripening. You get a better structure and balance between the acids and sugars in the grapes.Hamdani can be very similar to Chenin Blanc in character and Jandali brings a blast of acidity to the wine. The wine had nice minerality and acidity with subtle hints of stone fruit and a white pepper finish.

Putting your politics aside, remember Levant is the original wine & culinary hub in the world.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Winephabet Street O is for Orvieto

Welcome to Winephabet Street Season 1 Episode 15 O is for Orvieto. Winephabet Street is a monthly series where Lori Budd of Draceana Wines and myself work our way through the alphabet exploring wine and wine regions on letter at a time. The show is live on the third Monday at 8pm and is free, but you must register to attend. Put in on your calendar, pour yourself a glass of wine and hang out with us.

September took us to Italy once again and we explored the Orvieto. Orvieto is not a grape but a a wine region in Italy located between Umbria and Lazio known for the white wines they produce. Orvieto white wine is made primarily from the 60% Trebbiano and 40% Grechetto combine

The wine I chose for this episode is 2015 Tenuta Di Salviano Orvieto Classico Superiore DOC. It’s a nice food friendly wine, nice and crisp with balanced acidity and a long finish with a bite of white spice.

Sit back with a glass of wine and join us as we explore Orvieto, the history, the wine and the food that pairs well with it. Watch the webinar or listen to the podcast.

You can find all past episodes on Winephabetstreet.com.

The Webinar

The Podcast

Friday, November 2, 2018

Many Ways to Enjoy Nieto Senetiner Wines

There are many ways to enjoy Malbec and Malbec Blends. The two places that come to mind for me are with a barbecue and by the fire-pit. There is nothing like getting mesmerized by the fire with a glass of Malbec, then following through with a barbecue. Nieto Sentiner makes some nice Malbec and Malbec blends that pair well with all seasons and foods that accompany them.

About Nieto Sentiner

Nieto Senetiner was founded by the first wave of Italian immigrants to Vistabla in 1888. Vistalba is the premier growing area of Lujan de Cuyo in Argentina. The winery was run by several families until 1969 when the Nieto and Senetiner families purchased it and expanded the facilities. In 1998 it became part of the Grupo de Negocios de Molinos Rio de la Plata. They have three vineyards in the Lujan de Cuyo region covering 400 hectares. Each vineyard has different characteristics and elevation, bringing different attributes to each wine.

The Wines of Nieto Sentiner

Nieto Senetiner Malbec 2017
This is their flagship wine and the is blended from three estate vineyards: Vistalba, Agrelo and Vistaflores. Elevation of these sites range from 2,900 to 3.500 feet and are located at the base of the Andes Mountains. Grapes from each vineyard bring different attributes to the wine. The Vistalba Vineyard brings deep colored grapes with strong tannins. The Agrelo Vineyard brings fruit with aromas of ripe red berries and plums and the Vistaflores Vineyard brings grapes with higher acidity, spicy aromas and provides balance and elegance to this Malbec.
Aged for 6 months in French and American oak the wine was bursting with aromas of black fruit and hints of vanilla. This led to flavors of blackberries and black cherry combined with hints of earth and a little spice on the finish. Pairs well with smoked ribs. SRP $13

Nieto Senetiner Red Blend Collection 2015
This is a blend of 55% Malbec, 35% Cabernet Franc and 15% Petit Verdot and an alcohol content of 14%. The wine was aged in 10 months in French and American oak. Very deep red in color with aromas of blackberries and clove. A full bodied wine with soft texture and flavors of black fruit and hints of blue. Although the Petit Verdot is only 15%, it is pretty powerful and shows through from mid palate to the finish. SRP $15

Don Nicanor Malbec 2016
This is a tribute to the mentor of the Bodega. and they select certain barrels for the blending of this wine. The Malbec for this wine is sourced from the Vistalba and the high altitude vineyards of Agrelo in the Jujan de Cuyo area. The average age of the vines are 30 years. This wine is very dark red in color with a purple tinge. Aromas of red fruit and plums fill the glass with a hint of tree bark. The palate is rich with integrated tannins, juicy red fruit and layers of cherries, pomegranate finishing with allspice. SRP $18

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Halloween Candy Pairing: Graham's 10 Year Tawny Port and Snickers

Snickers is one of my all time favorite candy bars. Growing up I would take them from my sister and brother’s Halloween candy because they didn’t eat them. Something about the peanut, chocolate and caramel. Even today, I’ll grab a Snickers at the check-out if I’m hungry. (I know, good eating habits)

When I received an email about a port and candy pairing and saw Snickers on the list, I knew I had to give it a try. I love a good Port after dinner and I love Snicker so they must be made for each other.

Thanks to Michelle at Calhoun & Company for sending me a bottle of Graham’s 10 Year Town Port I then headed to CVS to find me some Snickers. I must live in a candy bubble, because since when are there four different kinds of Snickers. I’m a traditionalist, so I purchased the traditional Snickers and I thought I’d try the Xtreme Snickers. That seemed to have extra peanuts. We’ll see how they both fair on the pairing.

In our house I always would freeze the leftover Halloween candy, so I thought I’d do this pairing with frozen and not frozen candy bars. See how they each hold up with the Port.

About the Port - Graham’s 10 Year Tawny Port is aged in seasoned oak casks two miles from the Atlantic Ocean in Oporto, Portugal. The Port is rich in color with layers of raisin, prune and hints of nuttiness. SRP $36

About Xtreme Snickers - Product launched in 2015. It’s got extra peanuts. However, personally, the extra peanuts overtake the taste of the candy bar. $2.50 bag

About Snickers - Love the caramel and peanuts with the milk chocolate. $2.50 bag.

For the pairing I did a video only my phone for some reason didn’t record the audio, only the video. I did a voice over. The Port cut through the milk chocolate and caramel of the traditional Snickers bar and it became so very creamy and the nuts just blended so well with the Port it was a great pairing. I thought the Xtreme Snickers was to overpowering with the nuts and didn’t give the Port ample playing time on your palate. With the frozen candy, the flavors didn’t stand up to the Port. The candy was to cold and the flavors of the candy just didn’t show up.

What is your favorite Halloween candy pairing?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Fall Prosecco Cocktail with Nino Franco

It's fall and nothing smells like fall more like apples and cinnamon with a crisp autumn breeze. I want to thank Will Rogers at Donna White PR for feeding into my new sabering habit, (yes I'm addicted) by sending me a bottle of Nino Franco Rustico NV Prossecco and the ingredients to make this wonderful fall cocktail.

 Nino Franco is one of the oldest estates in the Valdobbiadene region and uses the traditional method to produce their Prosecco. In addition to the Prosecco, I was sent a bottle of Root 23 Maple Cinnamon simple syrup. Root 23 was founded by two busy moms in Columbus Ohio. They use only natural ingredients to craft their collection of flavored simple syrups. The only ingredient I was missing was apple cider. Since I was in the Hudson Valley last week and picked up some Minard Farms Apple Cider.

With the complete set of ingredients and company knocking on my door I thought we'd celebrate fall with the Nino Franco Maple Cinnamon Prosecco Cocktail.

Step 1

Open the bottle of Prosecco

Step 2

Pour 5oz of Nino Franco Rustico NV Prosecco in a Champagne coupe, flute or wine glass.

Step 3

Spoon 1/2 oz of the Root 23 Maple Cinnamon simple syrup into the Prosecco.

Step 4

Add 1oz of apple cider
Serve with a cinnamon stick as a stirrer (ours fell in the glass)

This cocktail is the perfect fall cocktail.  Not to sweet at all.  Hints of cinnamon in every sip to warm you up finishing with a slight hint of homemade apple pie. 

Nino Franco Rustico NV Prosecco SRP $19

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Winephabet Street N is for Negroamaro

Welcome to Winephabet Street Season 1 Episode 14. Winephabet Street is a monthly series where Lori Budd of Draceana Wines and myself work our way through the alphabet exploring wine and wine regions on letter at a time. The show is live on the third Monday at 8pm and is free, but you must register to attend. Put in on your calendar, pour yourself a glass of wine and hang out with us.

August took us to Italy and we explored the Negroamaro grape. I know I’m a little late with these but I’m catching up after an extremely busy summer.

Negroamaro is one of the 13 native grape varietals of Puglia and believed to be a Greek import connected with the Hellenic colonization between the 7th and 8th centuries BC. The best terroir for the grape to grow is in the Salento area. The grap was the first bottled Rosé in Italy by Five Roses, de Castris in 1943.

Wine made with the Negroamaro grape is best between 3 and 7 years. The wine is medium to full bodied and can show lush dark fruits of blackberry, plum black currant and black cherry with soft tannins and hints of clove, cinnamon, cocoa leather and cedar.

The wine I chose for this episode is Cantele 2013 Negroamaro.Flavors of black fruit, cassis, black cherry, cocoa and hints of spice on the finish, it is a very nice wine. It was aged in 1 and 2 year old oak barriques for six months. It will age well for the next 3 to 4 years.

Sit back with a glass of wine and join us as we explore Negroamaro. Watch the webinar or listen to the podcast.

You can find all past episodes on Winephabetstreet.com.

The Webinar

The Podcast