I had the great pleasure of visiting France last week for a week of mostly family reunion. Spring was in full bloom and temperatures were in the 70’s. A day trip to the region of Vouvray gave us a chance to enjoy that great weather and taste some fine white wine from the region.
Vouvray wine is made from the Chenin grape and brings a wide variety of styles depending mostly on how ripe the grapes are allowed to become. From dessert sweet to bone dry, Vouvray brings something to the table for everyone.
We visited a cooperative where over three million bottles of wine are currently residing in caves where the temperature never varies more than plus or minus two degrees all year long. That, in and of itself, makes Vouvray a wonderful place to make (and store) wine. The most surprising aspect of this tour is the statistic that over 80% of the Vouvray wine made is a sparkling wine, much like champagne.
Lunch was served outside starting with a cold platter of pate and other charcuterie followed by beef and some of the finest french fries I’ve ever tasted. The wines we had were a delicious complement to our meal. What else would you expect from the heart of the Loire Valley?
The weather last night was threatening enough that I wasn’t sure I would make it to this event. Joselle and I, along with 18 other intrepid food and wine lovers, made our way to a wonderful wine dinner on Wednesday, January 26.
Norabella, located at 702 Main Street (Route 28), West Dennis, featured a 5 course meal with wines from Marchesi di Barolo paired with each course. The wines, provided by Ruby Wines and selected by Lori Larsen, were the perfect pairings for chef Jeff Wilson’s creations. They are available at Cranberry Liquors and represent some excellent italian wines for aperitif, dinner or dessert. Let me tell you how I enjoyed them:
First Course: Clams Foriana, little necks served on the halfshell with pine nuts, walnuts, raisins and spices. Delicious starter paired with a Gavi – a crisp white wine that would go well with any seafood or alone as an aperitif.
Second Course: Smoked chicken ravioli served with a Dolcetto. Tasting the wine before eating the ravioli, the Dolcetto is a bright, fruity wine and would be fine solo as an aperitif. With the ravioli, you not only appreciate the subtle structure of the wine but a definite cherry flavor comes forth!
Third Course: Scarola, Grilled Italian sausage with escarole and beans. This is my kind of food and the Barbera “Maraia” was the perfect food wine to accompany this dish. More structure and dryness complemented the comfort food quality of the dish and I’m sure I could have had two more helpings of the dish and the wine. My favorite combination of the evening.
Fourth Course: Italian style beef stew with butternut squash dumplings served with a Barolo. How can you go wrong with this type of food and wine on a snowy night in January? The stew was delicious and the wine was the clear favorite among our party of diners this evening.
Dessert: As if to ensure our return to Norabella, the Zabaglione served over pears, apples and plums, was paired with a delicious moscato which exhibited its own pear and apple flavors. Such a nice change of pace that brought forth the richness of a simple dessert that was just the right way to finish this lovely meal!
This Wine dinner cost $65 per person. Given the friendly nature of the group, the expertise of our wine rep Lori and the delicious creations of chef Jeff, this meal was clearly a bargain! I look forward to the next wine dinner Norabella chooses to host and I look forward to telling you about it.
It’s never going to be my intention to speak ill of or against a product I sell as that may only serve to disenfranchise an otherwise happy and good customer.
Having said that, let me tell you about the time one of my sales rep’s brought in a bottle of Dewar’s and a bottle of Famous Grouse for a side-by-side taste test.
It was explained to me how Dewar’s is not sold in Scotland and, by contrast, Famous Grouse is the everyman scotch in Scotland. But it wasn’t until I actually tasted them – one then the other – that I appreciated what a superior scotch Famous Grouse is. And at a better price than the Dewar’s!
All of that as prelude to a quick review of a new product on the market: The Black Grouse. Having first tasted it this past weekend, all I can say is “Oh my!” It was delicious! Smooth, smokey and rich in flavor, this has to be one of finest blended scotches in the market. Named to compete with the likes of Johnnie Walker Black, the Black Grouse is a delicious and price-superior blended scotch in a beautiful package. An excellent, new and unusual gift for the holidays or any special occasion.
Or maybe you’d just like to up-level your scotch-drinking experience without breaking the bank. Sandy loves this!
Okay, so probably not so secret anymore. Diane cuts hair at Jim’s Barber Shop in the plaza next to Cranberry Liquors. She kept coming in this summer and purchasing an odd assortment of ingredients — enough so I asked her exactly what she was doing with them.
Diane explained herself by describing several friends-and-family events where she made this awesome sangria. Here now, submitted for your approval, is the heretofore unpublished recipe for Diane’s Secret Sangria.
2 oranges, sliced 2 lemons, sliced 2 limes, sliced 1 small jar, maraschino cherries 1 4-liter jug of Carlo Rossi Burgundy (Red) 1 4-liter jug of Carlo Rossi Chablis (White) 1 cup fresh lemon juice 1-1/3 cups orange juice 1/2 cup sugar 2 cups Triple Sec 2 cups Gran Gala Orange Liqueur 1 liter Polar Orange Dry Soda
Mix all of the ingredients above (except for the orange soda) and put in the fridge overnight.
Just before serving, add the liter of Polar Soda. Serve in a festive punch bowl or pitcher and have a pair of tongs at the ready to retrieve fruit for individual servings. Enjoy!
With the colder weather, Saturday barbecues are definitely fewer and farther between. That said, a few hamburgers made there way to the Weber this evening. A nice bottle of Kaesler Stonehorse GSM fills the bill for wine with this meal.
The 2006 Stonehorse GSM from the Barossa valley is composed of 45% Grenache, 44% Shiraz, and 11% Mourvedre and was aged for 12 months in seasoned French and American oak. Dark ruby-colored, it has an attractive nose of cedar, spice box, earth notes, and black cherry. This leads to a forward, easygoing wine with savory red and blue fruit flavors, plenty of spice, and a silky finish. Drink this outstanding value over the next eight years.
This wine packs a punch that will stand up to all the fixings you might put on that hamburger.
A serious wine but one that can absolutely be enjoyed with casual drinking. Not to sound like some pretentious wine snob but you can taste hints of tobacco, cherry and a touch of vanilla. This puppy fills the mouth with all kinds of flavor.
Even with an alcohol content of 14.5 this wine is anything but hot. A very mellow drinker that paired well with filet and creamed spinach. All kinds of complexities that work well with red meat as you would expect from a good cab. A very good bottle worthy of your consideration.
OK – maybe like some of you, I’ve been scared away from cheap pinot’s since I watched that foolish “Sideways” movie (if you haven’t seen it but like “middle-aged, time-to-act-like-adults” movies, its for you – if you don’t like whiney, “I’m 45 and my life stinks movies”, save your five bucks).
Getting over the fear of Pinot’s that cost less than $50 is easy with 3 Girls. Sometimes you just want to have something different than a cab or merlot or zin, and this one fits the bill rather nicely. From Oak Ridge Winery, the oldest operating vineyard in Lodi California, this pinot noir is an easy drinking wine that can be paired nicely with a lot of the fall comfort food dishes (meatloaf, medium spicy chili, pot roast, etc.) we enjoy as the weather gets cooler. It doesn’t fill your mouth the way a big California cab does nor is it as complex as a zinfandel, but it does have a lot of flavor.
So in short, more interesting than a merlot but not something that you need to wrestle with over a T-Bone. I give 3 Girls Pinot Noir a big thumbs up and worth picking up the next time your in the store.
It’s a commonly understood rule of wine drinking that you drink your white wines chilled. Doing this hides the ‘imperfections’ that may be found in the wine.
Having said this, the Masciarelli Trebbiano d’Abruzzo I had with dinner was straight out of the wine fridge – kept at temperature but by no means cold. And it was delicious!
Tropical fruit on the nose (some say pineapple), a slight effervescence or ‘spritz’ when you first taste it and an even, balanced taste and finish. Green apples dominate the flavor profile. If you want to switch it up from your favorite chardonnay or want to try something with a bit more substance than your favorite pinot grigio, trebbiano is an excellent choice. And this bottle is 100% trebbiano and does this varietal proud!
I don’t consider myself a cigar afficionado but I do know what I like: A smooth-smoking, light to medium bodied cigar that doesn’t take all day to smoke, doesn’t need to be re-lit unless of course I really neglect it. Ideally, it exhibits characteristics like a consistent flavor as it burns down, a fine ash that holds on until you flick your wrist to shed it and a pleasant smoke in case you ever get the option to smoke in the house (Christmas, in my house).
The AVO XO Intermezzo Tubos is a very easy-going cigar. I have a predilection for cigars from the Dominican Republic and the AVO typifies the important characteristics (see above).
Like beer, wine, scotch and bourbon, there is something for everyone. Including the beginner. When someone comes into the store and he or she is grabbing a fistful of Macanudo’s because that’s what beginners or itinerant cigar smokers smoke, I readily suggest the AVO. It’s a step up and a step away from the norm.
A light, polite, tasty-without-being-overwhelming cigar.
Organic Wine: I’m not sure how I feel about that concept. If you’ve ever visited a vineyard, you probably know the folks who grow those grapes are very in touch with the climate, the soil and the plants which deliver the grapes. I don’t think any serious winemaker would do anything to compromise the delicate ecology responsible for delivering a fine wine.
So when a wine shows up that is certified organic, I wonder what that really means. I understand there are criteria established by independent third parties and if a grape grower abides by these standards, their wine is considered ‘organic’. I still think describing your wine as organic is mostly a marketing tool. Good wine requires careful treatment of the local environment. Sustainable farming is part of that. It’s been done by grape growers for years.
All of this to tell you about an organic wine we have at Cranberry Liquors. Earth 2.0 Tempranillo is organic wine from the Navarra region of Spain, up north between Rioja and Bordeaux, France. It is made from 100% tempranillo and delivers a rich and fruity flavor – I detect raspberries – and is a delightful red wine with food or without.
Of course, all of the marketing and advertising revolves around doing the right thing for the planet. Earth Day specials are part of the mix. But when it comes right down to it, the distinguishing character of this value bottle of wine is not that it’s organic but it’s a great bottle of wine for the price.