Monthly Archives: March 2010

Old school rosé

30% Tempranillo, 60% Garnacha (Grenache) and 10% Viura from the Tondonia vineyard. The 1998 is the winery's current release.

Look at the beautiful onion skin color!  Believe it or not, that is a term used to describe the color of rosé. 

Founded in 1877 and one of the few family-owned estates left in Rioja, López de Heredia is decidedly old-school;  only grapes from their own vineyards, no chemicals, no pesticides, natural yeast, no machines (only hand harvesting), no chaptalization, prolonged barrel aging prior to release, 4 barrel-makers on staff, hand-racking with oak funnels, no filtration at bottling, and the list goes on.

This rosé was one of the most interesting and exciting I’ve ever had.  On the nose were notes of almonds, strawberry jam, orange peel, honey, cardamom and earth, and on the palate some cherry kicked in, along with mouthwatering acidity.  The complexity is due, in part, to the 4 1/2 years the wine spent in barrel (it was racked twice per year and fined with egg whites).  We paired it with Vietnamese food and it would also stand up to Chinese, Indian and Mexican cuisines.  It might be happiest, though, in your picnic basket, alongside some tasty sausage.

To top it off, wines from this producer tend to be a great value.  I picked this bottle up recently, on sale, at Union Square Wines for $24.  Oh, and Eric Asimov likes it, too.

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Warming whisk(e)y

The Dizzy Fizz asks the question, “What is it about whisky that makes it so warming?” and gets answers from folks at Compass Box, Glenmorangie, The Dalmore and Balvenie.

Though I hope the weather breaks soon, good whisk(e)y is always in season.

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They grow up so fast

Recent graduates of Food Blogging with Steven Shaw.

The last 6 weeks flew by.  Check out these noteworthy blogs born during that time:

My Third Child is a Restaurant: manuevering through parenthood and a career
Lickin’ It: a bad-ass ice cream blog
Eating My Way through My Quarter Life Crisis: no job, no boyfriend, no clue = no problem
What Would Cathy Eat: heart healthy recipes that don’t suck
A Fork, Knife and Spoon: adventures of a city mouse/country mouse; she has sheep!
Reubenography: exploring the Jewish deli through its bastard son

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Filed under Events, How to, Lessons

E is for egg white

Fear not, dear readers, this is not a health food post.

Believe it or not, egg whites play an important role in the wine making process, particularly when it comes to fine red wine production. 

The albumen – from the Latin alba for white – found in egg whites are colloidal in nature and have a positively charged surface that attracts negatively charged tannins.  Egg whites tend to remove fewer phenols and less fruit character than other fining agents, such as gelatin.  Egg whites also tend to favor harsh and bitter tannins, leaving the softer ones behind in the wine. 

Fining is done to improve color and clarity, as well as to enhance flavor and stability.  Five egg whites can do the job for a 225 l/59 gal barrel of young, red wine.  Fining can save money for the producer (and for you) because it saves time – most fine wines held under good conditions for a few months would achieve the same clarity as fining. 

Other fining substances have been derived from milk, fish bladders, and American bentonite clay deposits.  If any of this grosses you out, research conducted at UC Davis found that insignificant traces, at most, of any fining agent remains in the final wine.  Nevertheless, many producers are moving away from animal-based products for the sake of vegetarians and vegans.

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How much would you pay for a bottle of wine?

Reuters reported yesterday that a six-liter Methuselah of Romanée-Conti 1976 sold for $42,350 at Sotheby’s New York. 

This guy used to own that bottle. His cellar eventually netted over $1.18 million dollars.

Romanée-Conti is one of the 6 Pinot Noirs from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, the most prestigious Burgundian wine estate (you’d hope for that price, right?), based in Vosne-Romanée.

The bottle once belonged to Lloyd Flatt, an eye-patch wearing, New Orleans-based wine collector.  Flatt began hunting for world-class wines in the late 1960s and the Wine Spectator quoted him as saying, “Forty years ago, collectors had nothing to go by other than their own palates. Michael Broadbent had yet to write his Great Vintage Wine Book, Marvin Shanken had yet to buy Wine Spectator and Robert Parker was still in law school. My advice to anyone contemplating a wine collection today is to focus. Find something that you enjoy. Don’t try to explore everything all at once…Unlike an art collection, which is permanent, wine ultimately must be consumed. You shouldn’t even contemplate a cellar if you cannot accept that fact.”

For you nerdy folks out there interested in names for various bottles sizes, here is a chart I recreated from my Oxford Companion.

Capacity (liters) Bordeaux Champagne/Burgundy
1.5 (2 bottles) Magnum Magnum
2.25 (3 bottles) Marie-Jeanne Not found
3 (4 bottles) Double-magnum Jéroboam
4.5 (6 bottles) Jéroboam Rehoboam
6 (8 bottles) Impériale Methuselah
9 (12 bottles) Not found Salmanazar
16 bottles Not found Balthazar
20 bottles Not found Nebuchadnezzar

Collectors often favor larger format bottles, as they can lead to slower and more subtle aging of the wine.  As soon as you start your own winery, you’ll be able to begin a collection as impressive as Flatt’s.


Filed under Wine

Spring fling

To celebrate the official arrival of spring, we picked up some Spring Fling Ale from Bluepoint Brewery.

It’s a copper ale, but that simply refers to its color.  I’ve come across pretty mixed reviews about this beer online, but for me, the beer shows a great balance between spicy hops and sweet malt.  It’s a on the fuller-bodied side, too, making it a great food partner – we paired it with roast chicken and asparagus. 

It’s certainly not as punchy as their Rastafa Rye or their Hoptical Illusion, but that’s the point.  This is an easy-drinking style that will get you daydreaming about camping, barbequing, fishing, baseball and all other modes of summer (and beer appropriate) fun.

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One week from today (again)

Come taste Finger Lakes Distilling products with me at Morrell & Company!  Last month’s tasting was rescheduled because of the snow.

I’ll be at One Rockefeller Plaza (on 49th between 5th and 6th) from 4-6:30 pm on Friday 3/26, so you can get your weekend started early. Morrell sells the Seneca Drums Gin, the Glen Thunder corn whiskey and the McKenzie rye, but if you ask nicely, I might have a few other surprises in my bag. Hope to see you there!

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That bubbly is bitchin’

photo from

I had the pleasure to meet Dan Philips this week and to taste one of his newer products, a sparkling version of the very popular Bitch Grenache. 

Upon the wine’s release last August, Dan put his thoughts down on paper and many of his comments are worth sharing with you.  “Over the years I’ve heard about every possible idea for line extension: Big Bitch (magnums), Skinny Bitch (riesling), White Bitch (chardonnay), Clos de la Bitch, Dom Bitch, Sine Bitch Non, Cloudy Bitch, and on and on…it straddles the line like a delicate tight rope walk between popular culture and fine wine, PT Barnum and RMP, Jr., Meryl Streep and Zsa Zsa Gabor (think Paris Hilton with an accent if you’re too young to remember Green Acres,) Krug and….? Well, something that has not yet been invented.  Until now.  It’s called Bitch Bubbly.  I can try to describe it, but you have to taste it AND see it to get it.  It’s pink.  It’s bubbly.  It’s basically a blanc de blancs with a hint of grenache.  It’s redolent of strawberry mousse.  It is made by Chris Ringland and has his trademark, crisp and vibrant balance.  And, it’s about the sexist thing you’ve ever seen in a bottle.” 

There you have it.  It’s made by a rockstar wine maker, it’s under $10 and it has a crown cap.  What’s not to love?

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Seventh Heaven

This bright, sunny day has me thirsty for a refreshing cocktail. 

Ted Haigh has come to the rescue yet again.  You may recognize this as an Aviation; we’ve subbed grapefruit for lemon.

1 3/4 oz. gin (I used Seneca Drums), 1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur (I used Finger Lakes Distilling Cherry Liqueur), 1/4 oz. grapefruit juice (I used ruby red). Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into chilled glass. Garnish with mint.

The cherry liqueur I used was quite tart, which prompted me to substitute the sweeter ruby red grapefruit juice.  The mint garnish is a touch of genius, playing off the herbaceousness of the gin and cutting through the sweet-tart combination of cherry and grapefruit. 

I couldn’t find much on the history of this drink, though “Seventh Heaven” is the name for all sorts of other interesting things like a revolving restaurant in the Ostankino Tower in Moscow, a frequent flier program for Air Jamaica and a Dutch romantic comedy.

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How to get filthy rich

I think his math is spot on.  Don’t you?


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