Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Night With Anna (de Codorniu Brut NV)

I spent a great night with Anna.  Anna de Codorniu Brut, NV a Cava, which is a sparkling wine from the Penedés region of Catalonia, Spain.  It was a fine evening with a fantastic Cava.

A little background on Cava and the Codorniu brand. Cava is a sparkling wine made using the methode traditionelle which is the same way they make Champagne in France.  The second fermentation happens in the bottle.  They usually use 3 of the indigenous grapes of the region, Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada.

The history of the Codorniu family growing grapes and making wines dates back to 1551.  In 1659 Anna Codorniu married Miquel Raventos which brought together two important wine growing families in the region.

Fast forward to 1872, Codorniu winemaker Josep Raventos produced the first bottle of Cava using the methode traditionelle. It wasn't until 1984 when the Cava named after Anna was released.  What makes it different is that it is the first Cava to include Chardonnay in the mix.  This Cava, Anna is a tribute to the last descendant to carry the Codorniu surname. In 2002 they released the first Rose Cava produced from 100% Pinot Noir grapes.

The Anna de Codorniu Brut, NV is 70% Chardonnay and 30% Parellada.  It spent 18 months on the lees which is unusual for a Cava.  What this does is add complexity to the wine.  It's a very elegant wine.  If you are familiar with the profile of Chardonnay, you will note the aromas coming from the glass.  A bit of some citrus, green apple, honeydew melon and a hint of toast.  The mouth feel is so smooth, a bit creamy which is what the Parellada grape brings to the bottle.  The wine is well balanced with melon on the palate and a nice clean and lemony finish.

This Cava is a steal at $14.99 SRP.  Think about it for your next gathering.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wine Word Wednesday: Viticulture

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Notes From the Captain Lawrence Tasting Room: The Captain’s Log: CL Expansion Reaches Its ‘Peek’

We’ve written often of Captain Lawrence expanding its footprint in Elmsford, taking on extra space from an adjacent building to create its sour ale aging Fermento Funk Facility. (Patent not quite pending, but it should be!) The Captain is also setting up a satellite facility some 20 miles north of its home base, opening up a 1,300 square foot production/consumption site in a revamped Peekskill building along the Hudson. Its working name is Captain Lawrence River Outpost.
The 70,000 square foot building on Charles Point Marina will hold a restaurant, event space, distillery, arcade, bowling alley and other entertainment options, in addition to the CL site. The building held Fleischmann Distillery many decades ago, so there’s some potent potables pedigree there. “We were given the opportunity to build an experimental facility,” says Scott Vaccaro, Captain Lawrence founder. “It was an opportunity we could not pass up.”
The River Outpost is a chance for residents of northern Westchester and the greater lower Hudson Valley, who may not be up for the trip to Elmsford, to sample Captain Lawrence beers on site. The facility will create beers that are unique to that site. Production will be a fraction of what goes on in Elmsford, around a thousand barrels a year. One somewhat overlooked segment of the beer world will get special attention: Lagers, whose extended production process make them relatively rare amidst the craft beer explosion.
Scott says the lagers will go well with the water views. “You can sit on the deck and watch the river go by with a Captain Lawrence beer in your hand,” he says.
The River Outpost is scheduled to be open next summer.
Speaking of unique brews, Captain Lawrence is at work on a canned beer. The Effortless Grapefruit IPA will be the historic brew—a new addition to the beer lineup, and the first one in the brewery’s history to reside in a can. Scott has ordered a truckload of cans—that’s 200,000 of the 12-ounce vessels—and is awaiting label artwork approval.
While cans are very much in favor at some craft breweries, Scott says a well made beer tastes great whether it’s been housed in glass or aluminum. But there are a few benefits of canned beer—easier to take to the beach and the golf course, and they do a better job of keeping sunlight off the beer.
The Effortless is a session IPA; at a more modest 4.5% alcohol by volume, it’s well suited for daytime consumption. The Effortless Grapefruit, as the name suggests, features a more citrusy flavor.
“When you’re going with a new type of packaging, you might as well pair it with a unique new beer that’s not available in another format,” Scott says.
He’s eyeing a first-quarter 2016 release.
And it’s that time of year for the Captain’s decorated sour beers, those tart and tangy brews that the aficionados queue up for. There’s a release party for the Rosso e Marrone, a funky brown ale aged in oak barrels with red wine grapes, October 11. A hundred bucks gets you three hours of sampling sours from a wide range of breweries, food, and four bottles of the Rosso, which won the American sour gold medal at the Great American Beer Fest in 2009.
Captain Lawrence has had something of a stranglehold on the sour ale gold, with the Cuvee de Castleton, Hops and Roses and Barrel Select Gold also winning in subsequent years. All are poised for release this fall.
“We love making sours and we love drinking them too,” says Scott, “especially with friends who appreciate these funky beers as much as we do.
—Michael Malone (
Captain Lawrence Brewing, at 444 Saw Mill River Road in Elmsford, is open Wednesday through Friday (4-8 p.m.), Saturday (12-6 p.m.) and Sunday (12-5). The author is paid by Captain Lawrence, partially in India Pale Ale. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Hudson Valley Native Ashley Routson Publishes "The Beer Wench's Guide to Craft Beer"

Ashley Routson grew up in Montgomery, NY and attended Valley Central schools.  After high school she attended Ohio State. It was after she graduated, while she was studying for her Sommelier test that I met her. I have to say I am so VERY PROUD of her.  I have been with her on her journey from wine (which she still loves) to her relationship and studies of and with beer.

It was Twitter that brought us together back in 2007.  Yes twitter, discussing wine.  The following year I was in need of volunteers to help me in the first Hudson Valley Wine Competition I would run. Ashley responded and told me she would be in town then and would love to help. At the time she was 23 or so and trying to figure out where life would lead her.

In her book which I think anyone who likes beer or wine should read, Ashley goes into great detail explaining beer terms and the different types of beer.  I do like craft beer, especially after a day of wine tasting, but I never really knew what I was tasting and why I liked a certain type of beer over another.  This book explains it all.

While reading the chapters on the different styles of beer, one of the things it got me to realize is dark beer isn't always heavy.  In fact, I attended my first craft beer festival after reading this book in Lewes, Delaware and enjoyed many dark colored beers especially stouts.

One of the things (and there were many) that I loved about this book is that she has a wine element in it.  You might say what? With every beer she writes about, she tells you a little of the history, how it looks in the glass, the aromas, the mouth feel and the type of glass it should be served in and what it pairs well with.  Very similar to wine.  BUT...she tells you to drink this beer instead of x wine or mixed drink.  So if you like x type of wine or spirit you should like this beer. It's all about the flavor profiling.

If you think of a beer pairing such as chili or wings, think again.  There is an entire chapter devoted to beer and food pairings.  From lobster to steak to cheese to pizza.  Do you want to cook with beer. That's covered too complete with recipes.

Beer cocktails, Ashley has that covered too!

This is a great, fun and educational read.  You will look at the craft beer industry very differently after reading this book.  It will have you seeking out and trying beers that you normally wouldn't.

Put this on your Christmas list.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Restaurant Wine Service Do's and Don'ts

I need to get this off my chest.  It's been bothering me for a while and I think there needs to be some discussion about it.  Restaurant wine service.  That's a pretty broad subject but I'd like to talk about three points:
  1. Temperature of the wine
  2. Whom to taste the wine and serve first and beyond
  3. How to pour
More than once within the past year I have been served white wine that wasn't cold, I ordered the wine and they poured it for my husband and the best was when the server shook the bottle to get the drop off into the glass before going onto the next person.  I would say what it reminded me of, but it's not appropriate for this blog, use your imagination.

Let's begin with the temperature of the wine.  For a white wine, I'm not looking for ice cold where the flavors and aromas are hidden until the wine warms up.  I've heard many excuses as to why the wine isn't cold.  The server last week told me that is why she brought an ice bucket, to get the wine chilled at the table.    

The suggested serving temperatures are as follows
  • Sparkling, off dry and sweet wines - between 45 - 50 degrees ˚F
  • Dry white and rosé wines - between 50-60 degrees ˚F
  • Light bodied red wines - between 55 - 62 degrees ˚F
  • Full bodied red wines - between 62 - 68 degrees ˚F
The chilling is not suppose to happen at the table. It should be maintained at the table.

There is nothing that irritates me more than when I order the bottle of wine at dinner and the server comes over and pours it in Paul's glass and then he hands it to me or shows Paul the bottle at which point he says "you need to show her." 

The server needs to serve the bottle to the person who ordered it regardless of their sex.  This has actually happened to me twice in the same restaurant.  The person making the wine selection for the table is the one who shall be served the bottle, the cork and the first taste.  Once he or she has approved the wine, the wine should be served by moving clockwise around the table serving the female guests first then the men and finishing with the person who ordered the wine.

Now to pouring the wine.  Never shake the top of the bottle over the glass to get the drip off.  No, No, No.  The server should give the bottle a slight twist when lifting it from the glass and wipe the rim of the bottle with a cloth napkin.

When the server is done pouring the bottle should be placed to the right of the person who ordered it on the table or in the ice bucket. 

There is a lot more in depth that I can go into, but we'll save that for another time.  

When served wine in a restaurant, make sure you server follows these guidelines.  

Thank you for listening to my rant.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Happy Birthday with Cherryblock

My birthday was last week and to celebrate we dug into our cellar and opened a 1999 Sebastiani Cherryblock.  We actually purchased this bottle at the winery when we were out there for a visit in 2002.  I am surprised it's survived this long in our cellar without being uncorked.

Sebastiani is located in Sonoma not to far from the main part of town. If you are out visiting that region, a stop here is a must.

The vineyard where the grapes for this wine are grown use to be a cherry orchard, so hence the name Cherryblock.  The nine acres of Cabernet Sauvignon were planted in 1961, so they are some serious old vines.

The wine had a beautiful dark red garnet color with a little hues of brick.  The aromas coming from the glass were juicy plum with herbal tea notes and some anise. The palate was filled with plum, leather and it finished with a soft black pepper note.

Unfortunately I didn't pair this with anything as we were pre-gaming before we went out to dinner.  I will say it was the highlight wine of the evening.