0

Books,Spirits

I missed Bourbon Month, Again

How could I miss it? Well, I was moving a home of 19 years, two offices, and a second business… Maybe next year will be “Third Time’s a Bourbon Charm!”

I’ve just done a revisit and know that Bourbon lovers want to think about this one for the holidays coming up, now that we’re headed straight toward “the season” to be merry and bright.

Meanwhile, speaking of spirits, this is the season of “spirits,” with all Halloween, or All Saints Eve, spirits abounding.

Bourbon Curious, by Fred Minnick

A Simple Guide for the Savvy Drinker

If you don’t know anything at all, it’s best to start with the best person to explain the mysterious. In this case, a spirit… I was exposed to Bourbon as a kid, because it was my mom and dad’s favorite spirit. Then, it got revisited via the culture of Mad Men’s exploits. Now, thanks to Fred Minnick, I understand so much more about bourbon and whiskey, and am looking forward to that moment when I order my next spirit, but it won’t be a Manhattan.

My last experience with Manhattans was my first wedding. It was my dad’s beverage of choice, so that’s all anyone was served. What a mess, and I write this with all due respect. Let’s just say, my mother was in the middle of a busy main street, as we drove off to our honeymoon. She was directing traffic in the middle of the street. Oh dear…

So, I want to enjoy this next experience in a more thoughtful way. And Fred Minnick has lead me to the altar, once more, for a better view.

According to Fred, bourbon, like wine, has its own culture. If you love bourbon, this isn’t news to you. Minnick calls it the most misunderstood spirit on liquor store shelves. I’m betting that he’s right.

I’m going to give you my 10 takeaways from Fred’s book. Test yourself. See if you’re a bourbon aficionado; or like me, just learning for real…

  1. Flavors of bourbon: vanilla and caramel, with cinnamon and nutmeg notes.
  2. “All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon.”
    • Whiskey = distilled beer aged in barrels.
    • Bourbon = made in USA and the grain is corn.
    • Scotch = Made in Scotland and the grain is barley.
  3. From the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s guidebook, types of bourbon:
    • Bourbon whiskey
    • Straight bourbon whiskey
    • Blended bourbon whiskey
    • Blended straight bourbon whiskey
    • Bottled-in-Bond bourbon whiskey
  4. Whiskey versus Whisky
    • With the “e” = American and Irish
    • Without the “e” = Scotch, Canadian, Japanese
  5. What you can TRUST on a whiskey label… the rest is marketing jargon
    • Proof
    • Age of whiskey
    • Type of whiskey
  6. Presidents and whiskey
  7. Tricks to getting used to bourbon
    • Hot sauce on your tongue as a training, when NOT tasting bourbon (Yeah, it burns like that.)
    • Bourbon is 80 proof, or 40 percent alcohol, so you need to learn about its “hotness,” first
  8. Sources of flavor
    • Pre-fermentation
    • Yeast
    • Distillation
    • Wood
  9. In order for whiskey to be called bourbon, it must be stored in new charred oak
  10. Forward flavors
    • Grain
    • Nutmeg
    • Caramel
    • Cinnamon

There you go. How did you do? Are you a bourbon fan and knew all of this? (If you are, you must have a book, too, right?)

I’m going to put this book into my annual wine and spirits books for the year, come December. If you’ve got a family member or friend who loves bourbon, this book is “must have” in a wine and spirits library. I’ve only ever-so-briefly touched on Bourbon Curious. There’s still much to explore. This link gives you the skinny, you’ll have to read the rest. It’s also a “must have” book for anyone studying for her of his Master Sommelier’s test.

 

 

1

Albarino,Godello,Importer,Imports,Mencia,SENDA VERDE,Spain,Treixadura,Wine,Wine Century Club

Returning From a Hiatus ~ The Wines that Awaited, while some were just handy to enjoy

This hasn’t a respite hiatus, not by any stretch of the imagination. It’s been moving from and then to a new home and new offices “time out.” It’s been 19 years since we’ve moved. I still can’t believe how much stuff (nice word for it) that we accumulated in life. Just the garage was a nightmare, never mind the closets, bookcases, and wines. Happy to be on the backside of the move: unpacking, donating, trashing, finding the right closet for it all, big etc

The 99 Bottles of Wine on the Wall are back on the wall. The cat is adjusting, but still petrified of being on a mountainside, so not going out for any longer than a few minutes. The garden contents – mostly – came with us. Sigh…

I just opened a box and said, “There you are!” Now to get back on track with some pretty wonderful wines. The wines are from around the world, and that’s where I’m going this week with you… Around the globe and back again. As you can see, the tasting had begun before the move…

  •  Spain
    • 2015 Senda Albarino
    • 2015 Senda Mencía
  • Portugal
    • 2005 Sandeman Old Tawny Porto, Rested 10 years
    • 1986 Sandeman Old Tawny Porto, Rested 30 years
  •  France
    • 2015 Sans Sulfites Ajoutes Buzet
    • Les Vignes de Bila-Haut
      • 2015 Cotes du Roussillon by Michel Chapoutier
      • 2015 Cotes du Roussillon Villages by Michel Chapoutier
  • Italy
    • 2015 Rosa Regale from Montalcino Italy
    • 2014 Allesandro di Camporeale Donnatá Nero D’Avola, Sicilia doc
  •  Chile
    • 2016 Concha y Toro Sauvignon Blanc
    • 2015 Concha y Toro Cabernet Saugivnon
  • United States
    • Oregon
      • 2012 rainstorm (no capitalization)
    • California
      • 2015 Merisi Pinot Gris, Carneros ~ Sonoma
      • 2014 Merisi Petite Sirah, Lake County

Spain is First

Two of the Senda’s wines have been written about, two have not. I’m finalizing the other two. The two already reported were these:

As a wine brand, I thoroughly enjoyed Senda’s wines. First for the delicious, clean, and crisp flavors. Just as important is that the varieties are indigenous. Most of the world has adopted the usual suspects, autochthenous to France. Europe has enough history that varieties arrived a long time ago, and have formed in their present state. So, tasting wines from Europe allows for you to be tasting history. Why mostly France’s varieties have migrated to the new world and have taken off is most likely due to some excellent marketing, emanating in Bordeaux and some from Burgundy. The rest of France is catching up… As is the rest of Europe into the US.

 Spain

  • 2015 Senda Albariño
    • Albariño is the most recognizable variety for a Spanish white wine
  • 2015 Senda Mencía
    • Number 168 on my Wine Century Club list, edging toward 200 unique wine varieties tasted

From Senda Verde ~ SENDA VERDE is a collection of artisanal wines from unique regions in northern Spain that follow the 43°N parallel, stretching from coastal Galicia eastward along the northern coastline. In contrast to the rest of Spain, this area is lush and green from oceanic and geologic influences. The region is referred to as “España Verde” (Green Spain).

Mencía is a Spanish red grape variety that’s primarily found in the northwestern part of the country. It’s planted on more than 22,000 acres, and it’s primarily found in the Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra, and Valdeorras regions. Growing in both Spain and Portugal, the logical inference is that it was brought in by Roman invaders to that specific region, since it’s not found anywhere else in the world. 

Gerry Dawes has written: In both Bierzo, at the gates of Galicia in León province (Castilla y León), and in Ribera Sacra in Galicia’s Ourense and Lugo provinces, the native mencía grape, grown in precariously steep vineyards and often clinging to treacherous schist- or slate-strewn hillsides and Roman-style terraces (the Romans were making wine here 2,000 years ago!), is responsible for some of Spain’s most intriguing and delicious terroir-laced red wines. 

  • 2015 Senda Albariño
    • A favorite wine for me to be ordering in restaurants, I’m in love with Albariño. So I held this one for last, because the learning curve wasn’t going to be there… just the pure enjoyment. It didn’t disappoint. Albariño is a crisp, clean, and lean white white, with tons of floral notes and flavors of apples and apricots.
    • From Winesellers: The finish is fruity and with mineral nuances. Our Albariño’s fresh acidity makes it a fine contrast to foods that are rich, salty, oily, fatty, or mildly spicy. It also pairs nicely with tart foods such as vinaigrettes, capers, leeks, and tomatoes. The wine is an excellent accompaniment to fish and shellfish.
    • This is why I love it so much, it’s so versatile.
  • 2015 Senda Mencía
    • This is a medium bodied, red wine has beautiful violet floral notes, and prominent fruits of strawberries, raspberries, and pomegranate.
    • I loved it and it was very easy to enjoy. I highly recommend all of the Senda Verde wines.
    • 13.5 Percent alcohol is right where enjoyment with or without foods happily meets.

Great wines, affordable prices, what more could we ask for, except to open the bottle and enjoy! All of these wines are as refreshing and delicious as the labels suggest.

Imported by Winesellers, Ltd.

0

Books,Riesling,UK,Wine,Wine Writer

Peter Stafford-Bow ~ debut novel, entitled “Corkscrew – the highly improbable”

Corkscrew – the highly improbable, but occasionally true, tale of a professional wine buyer.

Corkscrew introduces Felix Hart, a true hero for our times and the greatest tongue east of Napa. Join Felix in his relentless, alcohol-soaked climb to the summit of the international wine trade.

This is going to be a fun read. Anyone who’s read my Road Warrior Survivor Guide, which debuted in the print copy of Wine Business Monthly (August of 2001), knows there’s a sassy world out there.

With Peter Stafford-Bow being a professional wine buyer, I’m betting that the story’s characters are going to be classic!

According to Peter, however: “I have attached a close up detail from the cover, however, of the protagonist’s face (not that I’m claiming this to be an autobiography, I’d soon be in jail if I did…!)”

My copy of his book will be arriving soon. Before I get into it, though, I asked Peter to answer my usual wine writer questionnaire. It always gives me more insight into the daily workings of a writer’s mind. Peter did not disappoint.

Before we begin, though, one quick quote from Peter:

It is a bawdy satire set in the world of wine and big business – I’ve worked as a supermarket buyer for 20 years so I know the subject well! It’s something like a cross between ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ and ‘Sideways’, if that’s not off-putting, and it’s selling well in the the UK.

Peter Stafford-Bow

[Q]  Many wine writers also have a day job. If wine isn’t your job, what is and for whom?

[Peter Stafford-Bow’s Answer]  I’ve worked for many years in the wine industry – as a wine seller in merchants, as a buyer for large chain stores and as a consultant for retailers and wineries. I currently consult across the food and drink business.

[Q]  When did you start writing about wine?

[A]  Corkscrew is my debut novel and I began serious work in early 2015.

[Q]  What prompted you to start writing about wine?

[A]  I’ve always wanted to write fiction about the people and places across the world of wine – I think they are fascinating, glamorous and a lot more exciting than most wine drinkers realise!

[Q]  What aspect(s) of wine do you most enjoy covering?

[A]  The drinking! I love the story that a wine’s flavor tells you about history, provenance, climate and the local people.

[Q]  How has your job changed since you’ve started?

[A]  I now want to write more novels! The sequel to Corkscrew is due out next year.

[Q]  What’s the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted?

[A]  A Riesling from the Mösel Valley – it was an Erdener Treppchen, not an expensive one, but it was early in my career, I’d never tasted an estate Riesling and I thought it was ethereal.

[Q]  What’s your favorite variety?

[A]  Pinot Noir – when you get that perfect combination of perfume and soil it’s life affirming.

[Q]  Do you believe that there are better quality, lower priced wines today, than in past vintages?

[A]  Yes – cheaper wines are probably getting ‘better’, as winemaking technical standards improve across the world. But it’s at the expense of diversity of flavor, as the giant multi-national winemakers and mega-co-operatives gobble up the competition and produce similar, market-chasing styles.

[Q]  What’s your favorite innovation in the wine industry over the past few years?

[A]  the move towards minimal intervention or ‘natural’ wines is very welcome. And the Coravin is a pretty cool gadget too!

[Q]  What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?

[A]  Beef stew and Cahors – it’s all about being in the right place – i.e. Cahors in this case…!

[Q]  What are your interests outside of the wine business?

[A]  Gardening, reading, carousing.

[Q]  Who inspires you (wine business or outside of it, doesn’t matter)?

[A]  Jancis Robinson is a good egg. Self-taught, incredibly learned yet modest, erudite without being obscure, extremely nice and approachable in person.

[Q]  What single project or task would you consider your most significant accomplishment in your career to date?

[A]  Writing Corkscrew – I still can’t quite believe I managed to produce a full-length, well-selling novel.

[Q]  For what would you like to be remembered?

[A]  So long as people say: “I suppose he was ok, all things considered,” that will be fine by me.

3

Wine

In Loving Memory ~ Wine Professional Peter Nowack

This story originally ran on February 13, 2014. Neither of us saw what was coming soon thereafter. When Peter announced on Facebook that he was given the “cancer” diagnosis, we were all shocked. His life changed from being our “Funny Man,” who was one of our wine pros, into a funny man laughing at cancer… He called himself radioactive, and our hearts were aching. Just a couple of days before he passed away, I went to his page looking for anything current. Nothing… I thought, this isn’t a good sign.

Yesterday, October 7, I read the following on Facebook:

With great sadness and a heavy heart I announce the passing of my brother Peter W. Nowack on the morning of October third 2016. He was at home with his loving wife Karen and myself at his side. Peter loved fishing, wine and we spent many hours enjoying those pastimes. He was a intelligent man with a Marx brothers sense of humor. He will be missed. As per his wishes, please hoist a glass of vino in his honor. There will not be a formal service. Peter‘s ashes will be scattered in the Sierras at a time to be determined. Thank you all for being my bother’s friends, and thank you Peter for a real good time. Steven Nowack

He will surely be missed. My heart is aching. Pay particular attention to my last question of Peter. Even when I asked and he answered, I hoped that it would not make any sense for a long, long time.

[Q]  For what would you like to be remembered?

[A]  I want to be apocryphal. When I am gone from the scene, literally or figuratively, people will say what they want about me. I just hope the fabrications that people tell about me are even remotely consistent with who I really was.

I wish I could come up with something clever right now, being apocryphalistic, but not right now. I’m too sad. What a great jokester Peter was, while on planet earth. I know he’s bringing great joy to heaven. We’ll miss you and your natural wit, Peter.

It was called: Wacky Peter Nowack, a wine professional with a razor sharp edge

Sorry, Peter, if I’ve offended you by calling you “wacky.” I don’t believe I have, but still a disclaimer… I mean it the best possible way. When I’m dead and gone, I hope people refer to me as having been “wacky.” I wear that adjective as a badge of honor; may you, too; although, I do like your apocryphal usage below.

I met Peter Nowack through Facebook befriending. Each day, when I write something on the more “real” side (I’m a huge pure foods proponent), Peter’s right there with a quip that’s either delightful, insightful, or as sharp as Chef John Ash’s knives.

Peter’s my daily refreshing moment… But, he’s also a lot more than that. He’s a fellow wine blogger, a fellow marketing and PR pro, and someone who makes me laugh daily. When I posted on Facebook that I had written about Sue Straight, in a story called, “The Power of the Pen; also referred to today as social media,” Peter commented “Wow! The Jo Diaz bump!” I laughed out loud… I also love Stephen Colbert.

BLOG: His blog is pretty specific. BungRCooper.com is his wine blog, which is uniquely dedicated to family wineries. David Fulton Winery, on of my PS I Love You members, has a great feature.

PR AND MARKETING: His marketing site is called WEMARKETWINE. As a marketing PR person, Peter has more than 30 years of experience in marketing, communications, advertising, and public relations. He’s a veteran marketing strategist and an award-winning creative talent and communicator. He focuses on business-to-consumer and  business-to-business marketing, product positioning, and corporate branding. Peter’s been an award recipient in the CLIOs, the International Broadcasting Awards, the ADDYs, as well as many regional advertising competitions.

Anyone who’s a PR person is first and foremost a writer. Unlike journalists for newspapers and magazine, who take their stories to an editor’s desk or Email in-box, we have to take our stories to another place, the journalists. This is a kabuki dance that’s both art and craft, that Peter knows how to perform well.

  • ART: We have to first write, in order to capture the attention of the writing community. We’re not the journalist, we need to be their inspiration.
  • CRAFT:  We also have to be promoters, with a provocative message that will nudge a writer forward.
  • DIPLOMACY: We have to remain patient, while our clients may not necessarily understand patience, this is the way it goes.

I asked Peter my wine writer questions. The writer in him came out…

[Q]  Many wine writers also have a day job. If wine isn’t your job, what is and for whom?

[A]  I think of myself as a communicator – and that lets me wear a number of hats: Writer; marketer; creative guy; editor; and “Hack with a Mac” when circumstances dictate. I’ve made a living at this since the early 1980s, and put up my own shingle in 1986. That’s 28 years of gainful unemployment!

Today, I focus my writing and marketing in three areas:

  • Wine– In addition to writing BungRCooper.com, work with winemakers and winery owners to build their brands and professional reputations (which, in the Direct To Consumer [DTC] sector, are integral to the brands). WEmarketwine.com has the details.
  • Brand development and message refinement for national and multi-national companies (check out nowack.com to learn more); and
  • Sustainability-issues marketing and management – turning responsible practices into competitive advantage. Somebody has to do it!

[Q]  What aspect(s) of wine do you most enjoy covering?

[A] I launched BungRCooper.com about 3 years ago as a vehicle through which to share my interest in the people behind the wines. I will write about a particular wine now and again, but, for the most part, I focus my writing on the back stories – the philosophies, drivers, and personality “quirks” (that’s a safer word than “defects”) that make family winemakers do what they do. You don’t have to be crazy to start a family winery in these economic times, but it seems to help.

[Q]  How has your job changed since you’ve started?

[A]  I think that I’ve changed more than the job has changed. I’ve become more discerning as to the stories I want to cover, and perhaps more critical (in a good way, I think) about the stories I’m being told. I don’t write stories based on pitches from PR folks, but if a trusted colleague recommends a particular winemaker to me, I’ll check ‘em out. I’m increasingly drawn to winemakers and winery owners whose stories aren’t the standard party line – Anyone can say, “I let the grapes speak for themselves.” Who I want to talk wine with are the guys/gals who are gonzo obsessed about something, so much so that it becomes their personal Grail, and it is manifest in their winemaking and their personalities.

BungRCooper has been a storyteller for the past 3 years. I’ve now realized that he can, and probably should, become more outspoken about winemaking and wine marketing. Bring me a soapbox, already!

[Q]  What’s the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted?

[A]  My first experience with a single-vineyard, über-peppery Zin opened my eyes to what surprises a wine could hold. That was the late 70s, and I’ve been on a “surprise-me” quest ever since.

[Q]  What’s your favorite variety?

[A]  What are you opening next? 😉

Seriously, I don’t have a favorite – I want balanced wines that are not overly oaked, overly alch-ed, overly tannic, or overly anything else.

[Q]  Do you believe that there are better quality, lower priced wines today, than in past vintages?

[A]  In recent years, there has been a proliferation of very drinkable, lower-priced choices – a lot of these are imports. And they fill an “everyday wine” niche. However, there has also been a proliferation of domestic wines that under-deliver for the price. Apparently “only what the traffic will allow, in small unmarked bills” doesn’t just apply to street drugs. What we need more of, and what I am drawn to, are those artisanal wines that deliver more than they should – and do so at a reasonably comfortable price.

[Q]  What’s your favorite innovation in the wine industry over the past few years?

[A]  I’m going to change this question to “what’s your least favorite innovation?” – to which the answer is “the soulless brands being spit out by the dozens into the marketplace.” These are wines made by large producers shilling as upstart brands. They employ replicable chemical formulae instead of winemaking alchemy, and appeal to slivers of the market with certain characteristics that may or may not have anything to do with a discerning palate. Don’t think so? Then explain the recent proliferation of Muscat. Or the sullying of the once-reputable Rosenblum brand with the “Rose ‘n Bloom,” “Stark Raving,” and “All American Wine Company” spin-offs. Soulless brands are born from calculations, not passions or philosophies, and they have no back story beyond the desire to grab another facing at the MegaWineMart.

[Q]  What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?

[A]  Another tough one. The best ever was a flight of artisanal sakes accompanying a sushi breakfast at a place near Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. But I’m game for pizza and zin, or Petit verdot and an array of chocolates

[Q]  What are your interests outside of the wine business?

[A]  Trout fishing. (Thinking like a trout is good mental exercise)

Making fermented food, particularly pickles and kimchi.

[Q]  Who inspires you (wine business or outside of it, doesn’t matter)?

[A]  This will sound really self-absorbed, but I am my own source of inspiration, much of the time – I really don’t want to be like anyone else, or achieve what others have achieved. I just want to push my own creative limits and see what emerges. Sometimes that’s a very, very difficult thing to do. But when I hit my stride, I am energized and elated. And I think my work is better as well.

[Q]  For what would you like to be remembered?

[A]  I want to be apocryphal. When I am gone from the scene, literally or figuratively, people will say what they want about me. I just hope the fabrications that people tell about me are even remotely consistent with who I really was.

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0

Abruzzo,Imports,Italy

Wine of the Week ~ Casal Thaulero’s 2015 Orsetto Oro Pecorino Terre di Chieti

~ Wine of the Week ~

Casal Thaulero’s 2015 Orsetto Oro Pecorino

Last week, I told you about Casal Thaulero’s 2015 Borgo Thaulero Pecorino Terre di Chieti. A week later, from his first communication, Chris Toscano reconnected, “Hailing from Abruzzo, Italy, Casal Thaulero’s Orsetto Oro Pecorino… is maintaining the high quality and low cost you know and love in a white wine.” I concur.

Translated, the Orsetto Oro is Gold Bear… An wonderful animal totem.

As with all imports, it’s another great value. This one is just $15.99 a bottle. It goes up just a small notch from last week’s, and continues to be another delicious value wine.

The Casal Thaulero’s 2015 Orsetto Oro Pecorino has the typical color of straw-yellow for this variety. If your palate is like mine, you really appreciate the 13 percent wines. They’re not hot, they’re gentle on your nose and palate, just so easy to enjoy as a sipper, or pairing really well with the right foods. Something with a bit of cream would be a great combination… the richness of the cream and the perfectly balanced acid will make this your new best friend. More complex than last week’s 2015 Borgo Thaulero Pecorino Terre di Chieti, this wine brings a bit of Balsamic nuances to the wine, along with the acacia. This Orsetto Oro Pecorino wine was delightful to have for a few days of lingering enjoyment, holding its own the entire time.

If you want another great, white wine value; especially if you’ve now tasted your first Pecorino, here you go to further expand your range! This one is more of a Sophia Loren kind of wine; a bit of earthy, sassy substance and yet possessing a very feminine mystique as she walks out the door, smoothly finishing what she started.

Let’s Explore the Pecorino Wine Grape

[Image of Italy’s wine regions is borrowed from Wine Folly. If you’re interred in wine made easy, you really owe it to yourself to visit this very comprehensive and fun website.]

Who:

Botanists are inclined to believe that the Pecorino grape is native to Marche.  [Check out the calf region of the boot on the Eastern Shore.] According to Kim Marcus of Wine Spectator: Pecorino is an “Italian white grape variety that was thought to be long lost until vines were found growing in a ravine in the Marche region…The wine has been brought back to life by vintners and growers, especially those in the Abruzzo region, a mountainous district in central Italy.” Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes, states there were barely 87 hectares (215 acres) of Pecorino in Italy in the year 2000, so it’s a comeback kid.

What:

This is an Italian thin skinned, white grape variety. It originated by Benedictine research, in Arquata del Tronto, In Abruzzo it’s used for the sparkling wines of Controguerra. It’s also found in several Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) wines of that region.

The grape variety has great acidity and sugar content. It’s minerally and dry, with a straw-yellow, color. It’s bouquet is floral and a bit spicy.

When:

It is believed that 800 years ago the Pecorino grape was born in Arquata del Tronto, of the central Italian province of Ascoli Piceno.

Where:

Today Pecorino is found mostly in Italy’s eastern coastal regions: Not only in Marche, but also in Chieti, Pescara, the Teramo provinces of Abruzzo, and in Liguria, Lazio, Tuscany, Umbria.

Pecorino Romano and a glass of wine

Pecorino Romano and a glass of wine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pecorino Cheese

Pecorino, the grape’s name, had me wondering about Pecorino cheese. You, too? Pecorino stems from the Italian word pecora, meaning sheep, so that’s pretty definitive for the cheese. I didn’t know about this cheese, either, prior to getting this wine. (I’m not a cheese connoisseur.) There’s no existing link that the grape variety is linked to Pecorino wine, however, that I’ve found.

0

Abruzzo,Imports,Italy,Wine of the Week

Wine of the Week ~ Casal Thaulero’s 2015 Borgo Thaulero Pecorino Terre di Chieti

~ Wine of the Week ~

Casal Thaulero’s 2015 Borgo Thaulero Pecorino Terre di Chieti

I was asked by Chris Toscano, “Do you like Pinot Grigio? Do you also like new things? If you answered yes to both questions, I’m happy to report that your next obsession is just a sip away. Hailing from Abruzzo, Italy…”

I didn’t have to read any further. I love all of the styles of Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris. Done… New things? My middle name is adventure… I was in and the wine arrived. New thing: Pecorino… As with all imports, they’re a great value. This one is just $9.99 a bottle. You can’t go wrong, you just can’t.

The 2015 Borgo Thaulero Pecorino Terre di Chieti is typical for its varietal color of straw-yellow. The floral bouquet of jasmine and acacia is a knockout, followed by a bit of minerality on my palate and faint licorice finish was a very pleasant surprise. This is simply delicious wine. I highly recommend it to anyone whose wine adventures are like mine of “I love it, I’m chronicling it, and I’ll always be open when I see it on a shelf.” If you want a great, white wine value, here you go! It’s an Isabella Rossellini kind of wine, florally soft and yet a gentle touch of spice

Let’s Explore the Pecorino Wine Grape

[Image of Italy’s wine regions is borrowed from Wine Folly. If you’re interred in wine made easy, you really owe it to yourself to visit this very comprehensive and fun website.]

Who:

Botanists are inclined to believe that the Pecorino grape is native to Marche.  [Check out the calf region of the boot on the Eastern Shore.] According to Kim Marcus of Wine Spectator: Pecorino is an “Italian white grape variety that was thought to be long lost until vines were found growing in a ravine in the Marche region…The wine has been brought back to life by vintners and growers, especially those in the Abruzzo region, a mountainous district in central Italy.” Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes, states there were barely 87 hectares (215 acres) of Pecorino in Italy in the year 2000, so it’s a comeback kid.

What:

This is an Italian thin skinned, white grape variety. It originated by Benedictine research, in Arquata del Tronto, In Abruzzo it’s used for the sparkling wines of Controguerra. It’s also found in several Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) wines of that region.

The grape variety has great acidity and sugar content. It’s minerally and dry, with a straw-yellow, color. It’s bouquet is floral and a bit spicy.

When:

It is believed that 800 years ago the Pecorino grape was born in Arquata del Tronto, of the central Italian province of Ascoli Piceno.

Where:

Today Pecorino is found mostly Italy’s eastern coastal regions: Not only in Marche, but also found in Chieti, Pescara, the Teramo provinces of Abruzzo, and in Liguria, Lazio, Tuscany, Umbria.

Pecorino Romano and a glass of wine

Pecorino Romano and a glass of wine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pecorino Cheese

Pecorino, the grape’s name, had me wondering about Pecorino cheese. You, too? Pecorino stems from the Italian word pecora, meaning sheep, so that’s pretty definitive for the cheese. I didn’t know about this cheese, either, prior to getting this wine. (I’m not a cheese connoisseur.) There’s no existing link that the grape variety is linked to Pecorino wine, however, that I’ve found.

 

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#IAMarone,Amarone,Imports,Italy,Wine

World Leader Cesari Vineyards is celebrating 80 years ~ #IAMarone

Interview about Cesari’s Amarone, as a world leader, by Mario Menozzi

Cesari Vineyards ~ 80 years (1936 to 2016)

Cesari Vineyard of Verona, one of the finest Vineyards of the Valpolicella region, is celebrating 80 years of producing some of Italy’s greatest wines this year. To mark this occasion, Cesari invited me to be part of a group of 80 influencers selected to represent Cesari Amarone. Cesari has been taking over Manhattan with events and giveaways all summer; although I had access to it all, it just wasn’t possible for me to attend. (I’ve been moving home and business into the Mayacamas Mountain range. By October 1, the move out of Windsor will be complete.)

Still, even with all of the moving hubbub, I really wanted to be part of this group, so I took on the assignment. Because I wasn’t able to be in New York, I was given the opportunity to interview Marion Menozzi, who’s worked with the family for 20 years. Presently, Mario works international with the family. I was delighted to have that opportunity.

One of my favorite parts of the interview was asking Mario what foods he would recommend to pair with Cesari’s Amarone. I got an earful. He had so many delicious answers, I tackled that one first. Food and Wine Pairings with Cesari Amarone by Mario Menozzi

Now, let’s explore more questions and answers. There’s a lot to learn about this style of wine.

Cesari’s Amarone is a world leader

1.      What can you tell me about the family? In any story, it’s all about the heart and soul, with the family first, then the wine. So, let’s start with the family.

Gerardo Cesari [pictured] the father, entered the wine business in 1936. He wanted to establish a wine company that started as a very traditional winery, using grapes from the Lago Garda [Lake Garda]. At that time, they were not too complex. They were wines that were typically Italian; not wines of great structure, not too complex, and they were fruity wines; Vela Suave, Valpolicella and the classical as well. They were from the Verona side of Lago Garda and from the Peschiera side as well; which means the east and west.

This went on until 1960 (more or less), when Cesari’s son Franco finished oenological school in Italy and then spent a couple of years in France to get deeper into wine and vinification. At that time, these were the main teachers of winemaking. So, from his experiences in France, he fell in love with the grapes that are important in France. When he came back to Italy, he tried to produce the red wines to have the same quality. This was not to have the same quality to copy the French, but to be able to produce wines with Italian grapes that were able to express the same level of quality that the French have.

At that time, Amarone was not yet established, but Valpolicella had a history of having a red wine with potential for great quality, and a huge possibility to be aged. This means that around 1966 or 1968, when the Amarone was fixed by the rules, Franco totally involved himself in this wine. So, he was then totally able in 1971 to present to the market the first vintage of Amarone. This was a wine that totally represented, for Franco, the maximum quality of the use of an indigenous grape of Valpolicella. And, was able to be in competition for the great red wines in France, which is more or less the capital letter of the company, which started in 1968. From that time up to now, the story continues the evolution of Amarone, with the information that markets have had from 1970s until now.

The family was still producing other typical wines from Lago Garda. But, the main focus was to remain on Amarone, and later on with producing the second great wine of Valpolicella, which is the Ripasso.

2. Can you give us a rundown of the major grape varieties that are unique to Amarone and the area in general?

Okay, so one great point of the Amarone is that this wine is produced with only indigenous grapes that have adapted to the territory of about 1,000 years. In the past, we had almost 100 indigenous varieties in Valpolicella. Then, when production became more important, and was researched for quality and became more prosperous, this number of indigenous grapes has reduced. Today. we don’t have the number of grapes; we have fewer. However, a good number of grapes remain.

Of main importance is the Corvina deoneza. Corvina deoneza is giving the most typical and classical identification, in terms of bouquet, in terms of aroma, and in terms of possibility to be dried in the right way. 

After the Corvina, we have the Corvinone, which is a different variety than the Corvina, but very close in characteristic to be part of the wine. The main difference to the Corvina deoneza and the Corvinone is that bunches are a little bit bigger; but, the last few years, the Corvinone is less present.

Other important grapes are the Rondinella, which is very important to the production of the Amarone, because it’s very resistant to fungal disease and is well suited to the drying process. And, it’s a full bodied, mild tannic wine, with aromatic quality, which are important characteristics in terms of sugar content and giving the sweetness to the blend.

The Corvina deoneza is used in a higher percent; normally from 70 to 90 percent. The Rondinella is from 10 to 25 percent. These two business grapes are of the main importance to produce the Amarone. Until 2010, another grape was used to make Amarone and it was Molinara.  But, since Amarone became a DOCG in 2010, Molinara is not allowed to be used for producing the Amarone. Molinara was mainly used to guarantee quantity of Amarone, but was not so important in producing quality.

So, the four that I’ve mentioned are the most important.

Then, we have many others that are not so important, in terms of percent, but are still present in the vineyard. They are indigenous and they have a long story. For example, we have the Forsellina, the Croatina, and the Oseleta that is used in the quality. Then we have the Vendelena. Then we have many, many others that are not so important in terms of quantity use, but are important in terms of history and tradition. And, maybe in the future will be used for improving the quality of the grapes and making selection for higher quantity for producing Amarone.

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Books,Cabernet Sauvignon,California,Chardonnay,Napa,Pinot Noir,VIT 101,Viticulture,Wine,Wine Making,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery

How Can We Require Mandatory Reading ~ A Perfect Score

A Perfect Score

The Art, Soul, and Business of a 21st-Century Winery

Craig and Katheryn Hall ~Hall Wines

The world of wine is a fabulous world. It’s down home, gutsy, and warm. As I pack up my wine library, getting ready to ship it to another world with us, I pick up magazines that I’ve saved. Kept for either my stories or the stories of others, which I’ve been able to inspire… There it all is.

And, I’m reminded of the book that I just finished absorbing last evening; required reading for anyone even contemplating starting a winery. If it could be mandatory reading for all of our clients, I would want that to happen, but I know the realities. Some of us must learn on our own; but, to comprehend what’s coming would certainly give anyone a shot in the arm instead of in the dark.

The minute that I began reading, I so understood everything Katheryn and Craig were saying about launching a winery, what their standards are, their joie de vivre… all of it. We’ve had to help so many through this process.A Perfect Score was the handbook I was looking for, to back up all of the things I’ve tried to explain to people and had them just believe…

If I hadn’t been in the middle of move, I would have found a corner and just curled up with A Perfect Score. The only things that would have made it more perfect would be a rainy Sunday afternoon, a cozy corner lit by fireplace, and Buddy the Cat keeping my feet warm.

I recently had a discussion about this book to an accomplished man, whose dream is also a perfect score; and I know he’s well on his way. This book might even save him some steps. I’m thinking it will. Thanks, Craig and Katheryn for telling your stories. For me, there is only one secret that you didn’t reveal. Perhaps one day we can chat about my question related to your grape growing. I promise I won’t publish the answer(s), unless of course, you don’t mind that being public, too.

Most highly recommended reading, for all of you dreamers.

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Books,Bordeaux,France,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Culture,Wine Education

Bordeaux ~ Top 10 Things I Learned From Peter M. F. Sichel ~ partie seize

While reading Peter M. F. Sichel‘s book, The Secrets of My Life: Vintner, Prisoner, Soldier, Spy, I learned a lot about a lot… His Chapter 29, Becoming a Bordeaux Vintner was very important to me. I’ve been inspired by Millesima, a négociant company based in Bordeaux since 1983, to learn more about Bordeaux wines. Author Peter Sichel rejoined his family’s company in the 1960s, and returned to Bordeaux. It’s from his observations that I’ve been enriched with more knowledge about Bordeaux… little nuggets that I’ve yet to learn, now through Peter’s memoirs.

[IMAGE borrowed from the Website of Château Fourcas Hosten, which was once in Peter and his partners’ possession. Today, it’s owned by brothers Peter and Laurent Mommeja, partners in Hermès, who fell in love with the property.]

From Chapter 26, I want to quote Peter: “I started to spend more time in Bordeaux, to get a feel for the wines and the culture of Bordeaux. Knowing the wines was not the same thing as getting to know a complex society.” The wine industry is a very complex society… That is for certain. learning about wine is not enough to fit in comfortably.

Here Are the Top 10 Things I Learned from Peter Sichel Regarding Bordeaux

  1. Some new French terms
    • The trading of négociant companies for wines is simply called a négoce.
    • A trading house that ages and finished wine is called a négociant élevéur.
    • Grand Crus translated = Great growths (If you don’t pay attention to Bordeaux wines, as simple as this sounds, it’s just never having translated beyond the self explanatory “Grand.”
  2. In 1855 the classification of Grand Crus was established.
  3. Chateaux of Grand Crus offer limited quantities of their wine to a limited number of négociant companies.
  4. Négociant companies either manage the wine of resell “futures.”
  5. The region of Bordeaux has about the same acreage as Germany.
  6. Not only does Bordeaux have sweet wines called Sauternes, but it also has Barsac and Bommes sweet wines.
    • Barsac is one of the communes of the Sauternes appellation, along with Bommes.
  7. French Wine Society Commanderie de Bordeaux: From their Website:
    • The Commanderie de Bordeaux aux États-Unis d’Amérique was organized in 1957 by a small group of lovers of Bordeaux wines and became a New York corporation in 1959.
    • Since, it has grown to include 30 chapters and some 1100 members located in different cities around the United States.
    • It is also affiliated with a worldwide network of 75 Commanderies in 26 countries under the overall patronage of the Bordeaux-based Grand Conseil du Vin de Bordeaux (GCVB).
  8. France has had its wine rogues, just as the US has.
    • US: Tangled Vines, Greed, Murder, Obsession, Arson, by Frances Dinkelspiel. Brilliantly written, Frances stuck with the story for two years and chronicled not only Mark Anderson’s dealings in wine, but also his dark side.
    • BORDEAUX: Chapter 29, Becoming a Bordeaux Vintner, Peter elaborates on another con man named Arnuad de Trabuc. Trabuc established a small importing company in New York, and was handing his uncle’s wines. He, too, was a popular figure and had a very charming wife. They lived as fixtures in the New York City social scene. “Things went smoothly for a number of years,” but in due time, things really fell apart, much like what happened with Mark Anderson’s story. Although this one didn’t end in fire, people still got very burned. (Good story; read Peter’s book The Secrets of My Life: Vintner, Prisoner, Soldier, Spy for full details.)
  9. Important Bordeaux enologiest
    • Emile Peynaud was his group’s enologist, before he retired. When he retired, he gave his job to Jacques Boissenot.
    • Jacques Boissenot ~ according to Jancis Robinson’s story of his talent:
    • Jacques Boissenot’s son Eric Boissenot is also very credible in Bordeaux.
  10. The year 1959 is a great vintage year for Bordeaux, as well as most of Europe’s other wine districts, due to great, warm weather.

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#IAMarone,Food & Wine,Imports,Italy,Verona,Wine

Food and Wine Pairings with Cesari Amarone by Mario Menozzi ~ #IAMarone

I was offered an interview with Mario Menozzi, of Cesari Verona in Veronese, Italy, because I can’t attend any of their 80th Year Anniversary of celebrating. All of the events are happening in New York City, and it’s impossible for me to be there for any of them right now.

  • HAPPENED: Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse Midtown ~ Wednesday, September 14, 6:00 p.m. Hosted by one of the best steakhouses in Manhattan, experience amarone paired in its purest form, with a juicy steak.
  • HAPPENING THIS WEEK: Plaza Food Hall ~ Wednesday, September 21, 6:00 p.m. – Celebrity Chef Todd English’s Food Hall offers a true dine-around the world experience, but the focus of this particular meal, designed by Todd himself, is Valpolicella’s rich culinary history.
  • La Maison du Chocolat ~ Wednesday, September 28, 5:30 p.m.  – The world’s most renowned chocolatier will be hosting a wine and chocolate party at their Madison Avenue Boutique. Enjoy delicious passed chocolates with the rich flavors of Cesari Amarone.
  • Petrossian ~ Wednesday, October 5, 5:30 p.m.- Executive Chef Richard Farnabe was more than happy to create a unique pairing menu for his favorite variety. Savor caviar and wine in new and interesting ways as only the world’s Purveyor of Caviar can show you.

Each event above sounds delicious. Uncle Jack’s has happened. And this week’s celebration is going to be at the Plaza Food Hall. My first installment of this interview is going to focus on Food and Wine Pairings, since this September is about food and wine events in New York City.

Food and Wine Pairing with the above restaurants

Learning from the invite ~ Foods to pair with Amarone

  • Amarone pairs well in its purest form, with a juicy steak.
  • Amarone paired with Valpolicella’s rich culinary history must be experienced at some point in time
  • Amarone pairs well with delicious chocolates with the rich flavors of Cesari Amarone
  • Amarone paired well with caviar.

Learning from Mario Menozzi of Gerardo Cesari in Veronese, Italy

HIs favorite Foods to pair with Amarone

Simple, ripe natural cheese like a Pecorino ~ Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty Italian cheese, often used for grating, made out of sheep’s milk.

Wild boar ~ Europe has an appetite for wild boar, also called the black pig. I experienced wild boar dishes in Portugal. And I’ve had many dishes served in California, especially in California as part of our post harvest celebrations.

Pasta, pasta, pasta ~ With a rich pasta sauce, you need a rich wine. Amarone is perfectly delicious.

Risotto of the area of Valpolicella ~ From Amarone ToursAmarone risotto (Risotto all’Amarone in Italian) is one of the most delicious dishes of Verona culinary tradition. In this recipe you find two of the top products of Verona territory: the Amarone and the Vialone Nano. Vialone Nano is a rice variety typical of Verona, appreciated by national and international chefs all love for the creamy texture it gives to the risotto.

With braised Beef ~ From Saveur ~ At the Valpolicella region’s Trattoria Dalla Rosa Alda, where this dish is a specialty, a platter of polenta rests by the wood fire in the kitchen. As orders come in for dishes like this one, a piece of polenta is sliced off and grilled over the fire to be served on the side.

Duck is also delicious with Amarone. Duck breast with a sauce to sustain the quality of an Amarone is wonderful.  Also, Amarone pairs really well wit Foie gras.

Meat Stew at is typical of the Valpolicella region. And also works really well.

[Photo credits: Picorino cheese Copyright : Sabino Parente. Cesari Vineyard image inserted, Jose Diaz]

[Risotto Copyright: sarsmis / 123RF Stock Photo]

[Wild Boar background image: Copyright: budabar / 123RF Stock Photo. Foreground Image: Jo Diaz ]