Wednesday, July 27, 2022

An Ideal Pairing for BBQ: A Trio of Calcu Wines

We are in the middle of a fantastic summer, and most of you are for sure enjoying the nice weather outdoors, and firing up your BBQ!  And of course, drinking plenty of beer. But wine can also be a wonderful match to all of these delicious grilled veggies and meats you normally prepare and serve to your family and friends.
Something like this wonderful trio of Calcu wines from Colchagua, Chile. A line up handcrafted by winemaker Rodrigo Romero,  who aims to create wines that are elegant, fruit forward and for everyday drinking. Many thanks to Global Vineyards for sending this fine set of samples.

Calcu Gran Reserva Sauvignon Blanc/ Semillon 2021, $12.99
This refreshing light bodied white is made from a blend of 70% Sauvignon Blanc with 30% Semillon, reminiscent of Bordeaux whites. It was completely fermented in stainless steel to preserve fruit purity. On the nose, typical Sauvignon Blanc notes: pink grapefruit, green pepper, citrus and a touch of mango. Nice, crisp acidity gives away to a very focused finish.
Serve this with veggie kebabs, corn on the cob, grilled eggplant, zucchini or sweet vidalia onions. It will be great with your veggie burger too! But also with light seafood fare such as grilled scallops, shrimp or  lemon-herb mahi mahi and an ideal match to all your summer salads.

Calcu Gran Reserva Rosé Malbec 2021, $12.99
A delicious blend of 75% Malbec and 25% Petit Verdot, completely fermented in stainless steel,  this is not a sissy rosé, but a rosé with substance and personality. On the nose, plenty of raspberry and strawberry notes, complemented by spicy ginger. It’s also medium- bodied, with lively acidity and a refined and flavorful finish. Serve this with mesquite chicken breasts, hickory smoked drumsticks, pineapple and cilantro grilled tuna or savory portobello mushrooms.

Calcu Gran Reserva Carménère 2019, $13.99
This full-bodied red is made from 100% Carménère grapes, picked by hand. It was completely fermented in stainless steel, with malolactic fermentation, followed by aging for 12 months in French oak. This intense and chewy red features black cherry and black plum notes, mixed with herbal garrigue aromas such as rosemary and thyme. Firm tannins give structure and build up the earthy and textured finish. This savory red screams for beef, like juicy skirt steak with chimichurri sauce, southern style brisket, hamburgers but also another of my favorites: lamb koftas, don’t forget to add plenty of tahini sauce on top.


So, what are you waiting for? Life and Summer are short so go enjoy them! Cheers, Silvina.

#thoughtsoflawina #bbqwines #calcuwine #drinkchile #WineWednesday #drinkupamerica

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Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Ideal for Summer: Wine in a Can!

What to drink when you are at the beach or at a picnic?  Wine in a Can.
Please, don’t roll your eyes at me! Just because the wine is sold in a can, doesn’t mean it is not good, especially the ones I’m recommending in this post, some of which are also sold in bottles all year around.  
 
When I asked Bartholomew Broadbent about his decision to sell his Vinho Verde wines in a can, he replied “Yes, I am a traditionalist. I like quality, I’ve grown up drinking the finest wines in the world, yet cans can deliver quality as well as any other container.  I am all about wine being a drink first and the most important thing is to increase accessibility to wine, creating new markets, attracting new consumers. Wine can be fun. You can have great wine in any container.” He also revealed that he found two obstacles on his path to make this possible, the first one was that there weren’t any facilities to can wine in Portugal, and the second one was that the Vinho Verde DOC didn’t include can as a container in their original regulations, probably created before cans were even invented!  This why he chose to labeled them as Spritzy.

Of course, not every single wine can be sold in a can, I doubt any producer would bottle a Grand Cru Burgundy or a Barolo in a can, or any wine designed to be cellared for a long time, but cans can be used when dealing with most wines, mostly because 90% of all wine sold these days, is designed to be consumed right away, the minute you walk out of your favorite store. I’m talking about your refreshing whites, sparkling bubblies, juicy rosés and fruity reds.  Cans are also very convenient, a can is not only lighter and more portable than your regular 750 ml bottle, it chills probably faster too, plus it also allows you to have individual/ smaller servings, good when you don’t want to drink a full bottle on your own. 
 
Personally, I agree with Bartholomew, that canned wines can be a great first step for those new to wine, allowing them to test drive a few, without breaking the bank, a very creative way to attract millennials to wine. Plus, wine in a can is ideal for summer and for the many outdoor activities you enjoy like sailing on a boat, watching a live baseball or soccer game, barbecues with family and friends, camping adventures and so much more, the possibilities are endless.
 
My Recommendations: Many thanks to Broadbent Selections, Le Petite Verre and Kobrand Wines and Spirits for supplying this bounty of samples to me.
 
*Le Petit Verre Bubbly Rosé, $13 for a 4 pack (each can contains 250 ml of wine)
This bubbly is completely made from organic grown fruit from the Tupungato Valley, a high altitude subzone of the well known Uco Valley in Mendoza. Though the can doesn't have a vintage date on its label, this wine was made with fruit from the 2021 harvest and is a blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Syrah, 10% Pinot Gris and 10% Viognier.  This is a delicious and uncomplicated sparkler, it features strawberry and ripe peach combined with blood orange notes. The winery also offers a Malbec still wine sold in a can too.

*Broadbent Spritzy White and Rosé, $15.99 for a pack of 4 (each can contains 250 ml of wine).
Easy to identify by the red flower logo that Bartholomew’s niece drew when she was only 4 years old, the white spritzy is a blend of 50% Loureiro, 40% Trajadura and 10% Pederna grapes sourced from the commune of Barcelos in the very heart of the Vinho Verde appellation. It features refreshing citrus: lemon-lime and grapefruit notes. The Rosé, on the other hand, features a blend of different grapes, including 40% Borracal, 30% Espadeiro, 20% Amaral and 10% Vinhaoa and it delivers aromas of ripe raspberry, white cherry and tangerine zest. No malolactic fermentation was allowed, preserving both the freshness and tartness of these two wines, he added the right amount of CO2 to give them their typical spritz.
 
*Badenhorst Curator White and Rosé from Swartland, South Africa. $15.99 for a pack of 4 (each can contains 250 ml of wine). 
All Curator wines are made with fruit from Adi Badenhorst’s biologically, dry- farmed vineyards. The White is a blend of 56% Chenin Blanc, 22% Chardonnay, 19 % Viognier, 2% Colombard and 1% Roussanne. It shows refreshing and juicy pineapple, candied lemon with honey notes. The Rosé is made from 100% Cinsault, almost emulating a Provence Rosé and it features wild strawberry and sweet watermelon notes. This producer also offers an easy to drink red blend in a can, too.
 
*Finally and ending on a sweet note, Tutto Mio Rosso Dolce, from Emilia Romagna, Italy. $16.99 for a pack of 4 (each can contains 250 ml of wine). 
This sparkling red is similar in texture like a Brachetto d'Acqui, or sweet Lambrusco.  It’s fruity and  sweet, oozing black cherry and candied strawberry with zippy acidity. It is also light in body with only 7.5% alcohol. Drink it chilled on its own or use it to make sangria or other summer cocktails.
 
 
My advice to all of you, now that summer is in full swing, leave the beer cans aside for 5 minutes and explore some of these, you will be pleasantly surprised! Until next one, drink up wine America!, Cheers! Silvina.

#thoughtsoflawina #wineinacan #canwines #WineWednesday #drinkupamerica

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Aromatic Grapes: Gewürztraminer!

Lychee, rose petals, honey, orange blossom, ginger, and bergamot are some of the adjectives used to describe Gewürztraminer wines. Its name comes originally form the German Gewürz, which means spicy. Yet for me, this wine is not so much spicy, as it is perfumed and very floral.  

 

Gewürztraminer comes from the village of Tramin, located in North Italy’s Alto Adige region, where it is known as Tramino Aromatico, and according to ampelographer Pierre Galet, it is a mutation of Savagnin Rosé. Gewürztraminer belongs to the group of aromatic grapes. We can consider this grape, an extrovert, always forcing you to pay attention, this is due to its intense and unique nose that jumps out of your glass, and makes it super easy to identify, when tasting this blind. 

 

The three best places to find Gewürztraminer are in Alsace (France), Southern Germany & Trentino-Alto Adige (Italy). All these spots have one thing in common, they are cool but sunny places, which is exactly what this grape needs. Too much sun or heat will sweep away its acidity and its fine aromas. For this reason only, it is not planted in warm climates, meaning, most of the new world. It buds early so it’s susceptible to frosts and viruses and ripens in mid season, preferring to mature very slowly. It also suffers from uneven ripening, that can seriously affect yields.


In Alsace, it is considered one of the four noble varieties, next to Riesling, Muscat and Pinot Gris. There, it yields full bodied wines with more alcohol than their German or Italian counterparts. In Germany, it does best in the southern appellations of Pfalz and Baden, where it’s warmer than in the Mosel. And of course, it does very well in its birthplace the Alto Adige, where wines tend to be lighter and more acidic than Alsatian styles.

In the new world, we must stick to a few cool climate spots. New Zealand is a good match, with good wines coming from Gisborne, Hawkes Bay and Marlborough. In Australia, there are good spots in Tasmania and Victoria. In California, it can do well in Monterey, Sonoma, Mendocino and Russian River Valley (all places that enjoy the cool Pacific ocean influence). Good results can be also found in Oregon and Washington state.

 

Gewürztraminer prefers well drained soils with plenty of minerals, especially limestone. Different soils will affect the color of its skins, limestone yields pink skinned grapes, while gravel yields purple skinned grapes. It’s a very vigorous variety, so its yields must be kept very low, with serious pruning.  


Stylistically, Gewürztraminer produces full bodied whites with high alcohol, it is easy to find wines with 14.5 plus % alcohol levels. Acidity is usually low or balanced, this is the reason why, all malolactic fermentation is avoided in an effort to keep the wines fresh. Wines can be dry, even though their floral nose, and also off-dry and sweet. Make sure to ask your wine store clerk before you make your purchase, if you have doubts. 

Wines marked as SGN (Sélection de Grains Nobles) or VT (Vendange Tardive) are categories designated as dessert wines and are always sweeter styles. This is due to the extra hang-time these grapes get to make them. In the case of SGN, the grapes are affected by noble rot, concentrating the aromas, flavors and sugars even further.  

 

Because of Gewürztraminer's fine and intense aromatics, most wineries avoid oak aging. Most wines are designed to be consumed young, but best samples can age for up to 10 years. Late harvest wines (Vendange Tardive) or Sélection de Grains Nobles can age for much more (20 years+). 

 

New releases I have tasted lately:  

I'm such a girly girl, I admit it, I love floral wines! Many thanks to Broadbent Selections, Taub Family Selections, Vineyard Brands and Kobrand Wines & Spirits for such a fine selection of samples, you spoiled me! (I should have asked for 2 bottles, instead of my usual 1, love to enjoy some of these during Summer!).

 

Spy Valley Gewürztraminer 2018, Marlborough, NZ $24.99

Divine nose full of lychee, white peach and rose notes. This full-bodied white features 14.5 % yet very balanced alcohol. Simply delicious and refreshing!


Zind-Humbrecht Gewürztraminer 2020, Alsace, France $29.99

Textbook Gewürztraminer nose filled of red grapefruit, spicy ginger and rose petals. Medium plus bodied and very flavorful, featuring a very mineral laden finish. From biodynamic grown grapes.


Trimbach Gewürztraminer 2017, Alsace, France $29.99

Intense yet harmonious featuring expressive melon, bergamot, lychee and cinnamon notes. Very luscious structure, with a seductive but dry finish.


Kurtatsch Kellerei Cantina Brenntal Gewürztraminer Riserva 2018, Alto Adige, Italy, $45

Delicious notes of mango, lychee and candied orange peel in this full-bodied white, made from organic grapes. Ageing on its lees for a full year, makes this wine extra creamy and dense, a true white Powerbomb!

 


 Cheers! Silvina  

  

#Gewürztraminer #thoughtsoflawina #aromaticwines #aromaticgrapes #funwinesforsummer #drinkupwineamerica

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Tuesday, June 7, 2022

My faves from James Suckling's Great Wines of the World Tasting in New York

 

Those that know me, know that attending wine tastings is one of my favorite things in the whole world and boy, was I treated last Friday! When I was lucky to attend James Suckling’s Great Wines of the World event. If you are passionate about wine like I am, this is just the ultimate wine experience, to be able to taste so many wonderful and expensive wines in one setting. Yet, before I start mentioning some of the gems, I had the pleasure of tasting, allow me to thank the man who made it all possible, Mr. James Suckling! Thank you so much for allowing us (press and trade) to attend this event for free! (tickets were $200).
 
I was not only impressed with the fine selections of wines you put together, but also the set up of your event, it was a breeze for us (tasters) that you grouped your fine selection in ascending order of body, from light to big. My only complaint was not having enough time to taste everything that was offered! Overall, I think I did pretty well, managing to taste 82 of the 246  wines offered in only 2 hours and half. Some of which, I will recognize, didn’t end up in the spittoon! Indeed,  they were just too good not to swallow them! And though you managed to include wines from every country that produces fine wine these days, the South American selection was truly unbelievable! For the first time, it made me very happy to see so many great Chilean and Argentinian wines side to side.  I was also impressed with the selections from Oregon and California, as well as the selection of Italian wines (Barolo and Brunello especially). To my surprise, some of the producers chose to show two vintages of the same wine, allowing us little people, to experience the evolution/ development of some of these fantastic wines. As you can tell, I was literally in wine heaven, so again thank you!

Here are my favorites of the night! For my reader’s convenience, I  added the suggested retail price per bottle, in NYC.  I started my wine tour with Champagne, there were only 2 Champagne tables in the whole event, yet attendees had the pleasure of tasting what is known as a Hollywood’s favorite: Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal 2014, $350.  Next, I moved on to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with two fantastic samples: Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Taylor Pass Vineyard 2021, that was your typical passion fruit laden white and a true value at only $25 and the more mineral, terroir driven Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Te Koko 2019 at $65.  Yet for me, the best white of the night went to Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2019, at $250. Once again, Burgundy continues to be the best place to craft some of the most elegant Chardonnays in the world.  Then I set off to taste some reds and I continued with 3 delicious Oregon Pinot NoirsBergstrom Pinot Noir Dundee Hills 2019, $110, Domaine Serene Pinot Noir  Dundee Hills Evenstad Reserve 2018, $80 and Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir Chehalem Mountain Estate Grown Reserve 2018, $65 oozing an incredible floral, rose driven bouquet.  

Next came Italy with some fine samples of Sangiovese, such as the Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Colledilà 2018, $80, and some Brunello: Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova 2017, $110.  Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino 2017, $65 Frescobaldi Brunello di Montalcino Castelgiocondo 2016, $70. And the beautiful labeled Luce della Vite Brunello di Montalcino 2017, $120. After that, I moved on to two wonderful Barolo: Bruno Giacosa Falletto Barolo Falletto Vigna Le Rocche Riserva 2016, $750 and Pio Cesare Barolo Ornato 2018, $165. 

There were several California wines, yet my favorite was one that I had tasted many times before, Beaulieu Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, Georges de Latour Private Reserve 2018, $130.  Another new world delicious sample was the Penfolds Shiraz Barossa Valley Bin 798 RWT 2019,$180, very powerful and fruit driven! Continuing with this theme of Syrah and Rhone blends, two fine samples from the Rhone Valley,  Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape 2019,$98 and Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle 2017 and 2007, $250 respectively. 
 
From there, I moved to South America and from Chile, I tasted 4 wonderful samples of Maipo Cabernet Sauvignon: Viña Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto 2019, $150,  Seña Valle de Aconcagua 2015 $150, Almaviva Puente Alto 2019, $165, and Baron Philippe de Rothschild Chile Valle del Maipo Baronesa P 2019 (tasted earlier during lunch, thank you Escudo Rojo for the invite!) $65. Chile is also known for its fantastic Syrahs, and nobody does it better than Aurelio Montes, and his savory Montes Syrah Valle de Apalta Folly 2018,$95.  
 
For the last part, a set of impressive Argentinian reds, like the Achaval Ferrer Malbec, Mendoza Finca Bella Vista 2018, $150, or  the Terrazas de los Andes Malbec Paraje Altamira, Valle de Uco, Los Castaños Parcel N 2 W 2018, $100, but the best red and the best wine of the night was for me the Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino 2019, $120, served by Nicolas’ youngest daughter Adrianna who was at the event, showing her own wines she sells under “El Enemigo” label.  Finally, I had to end the evening with three sweet wines, a delicious Oremus Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2013, $165 and two ports, Taylor Fladgate’s 10 year old Tawny at $25  and Taylor Fladgate’s Vintage Port 2017 at $120. 
 
Hoping you will taste some of these soon! Cheers, Silvina.
 
#thoughtsoflawina #Jamessuckling #GreatWinesoftheWorld,  #WineEvent, #WineTasting,# WineTour


Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Guía Peñín: Your ultimate source to learn about Spanish Wines

With 9,400 Spanish wine reviews from over 2,000 wineries, Guía Peñín is the most comprehensive guide about Spanish wines. 

I still remember when I first had a copy of this guide in my hands, it was about 20 years ago, I was working for Wines from Spain then, and José’s guide was only published in Spanish and on hard copy. In order to get it, we depended on our Spanish colleagues to bring one from Madrid. Back then, we used this coveted book daily, mostly whenever we wanted to learn about the different Spanish appellations and terroir, to find information about all the wineries, and to check the name of wines and reviews.

The man behind it, José (Pepe) Peñín has dedicated the last 30 years of his life to taste and review Spanish wines, distilled spirits and vermouth, promoting Spanish wines and wine tourism like nobody did before.

Fast forward to 2022 and now this wonderful guide is published and available in 4 different languages, Spanish, German, English and Chinese and his work (over 80,000 wine reviews) is available online on his digital platform @ guiapenin.wine.

For the 2022 edition, José and his team of 4 tasted and reviewed about 10,000 wines. 55% of those were red, 29%  white, 7% sparkling, 6%  rosé and 3% fortified wines. 

José's scoring system divides them in three groups: 

Podium wines for those that received 95-100pts 

Excellent wines from those that received 90-94 pts 

and Very Good wines for those that received 85-89 points.

Last week, during the official launch of Guía Peñín in NY, I had the opportunity to attend a seminar presented by José himself featuring 7 Podium wines that have received between 95-96 pts.

The fine selection included the following:

  • Pere Ventura Gran Vintage Paraje Calificado, Can Bas 2015,  D.O. Cava, 95 pts.

This delicious Cava features 50% Macabeo and 50% Xarel.lo grapes. Paraje Calificado is the equivalent to a Burgundy Grand Cru within the Cava appellation. Completely vinified, using the method Champenoise, with second fermentation inside the bottle, this Cava was also aged on its lees for 42 months. The result is an outstanding, complex and elegant bubbly.

A flight of 4 delicious Tempranillo wines, from the 3 top appellations in Spain: Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Toro:

  • Lalomba Finca Valhonta 2018, D.O.C Rioja, 96 pts

An expressive Rioja made from 100% Tempranillo grapes grown in chalky clay terraces at 650 m. This single vineyard wine was aged for 14 months in oak and 8 months in vat, which delivers a wine full of ripe fruit: black cherry and plum, with delicious spicy notes.

  • Abadia Retuerta Pago Negralada 2016, V.T. Castilla y León,95 pts

A single vineyard 100% Tempranillo, grown at 800 m on gravel soils. This wine was aged for 16 months in new French oak and was one of my favorites of the whole tasting. A fine example of Tempranillo featuring blackberry, cassis and leather notes. Refined and seductive with beautiful soft tannins.

  • Pradorey Elite 2018, D.O. Ribera del Duero, 95 pts

The flagship of this winery and another distinguished single vineyard red, was made from 100% Tempranillo grapes, grown on calcareous soils at 850 m of height. It was also aged for 14 months in new French oak. This  luscious and impressive Ribera del Duero red showcases blackberry, tobacco and licorice notes.

  • Vatan 2018, D.O. Toro, 95 pts

A super Tempranillo wine, made from 100% Tinta de Toro grapes, also from a single vineyard “Finca Los Quemados” featuring sandy soils. This was the biggest of all 4 reds served, and a super powerbomb! Massive in body and texture, it features black currant, licorice and figs with a touch of minerality. Toro usually produces the biggest and beefest Tempranillos from all of Spain.

The last two wines were sweet styles that blew my mind!

  • Vino Dulce de Invierno 2019, Javier Sanz Viticultor, Vino de Mesa, 95 pts

A delicious dessert wine  that is made in tiny quantities. It is made from 80% Verdejo  and 20% Gorda de Moldavia grapes. The sweetness comes from late harvest grapes, grapes that were air dried using the appassimento technique and frozen grapes (in the winery) to emulate the technique used to make ice wines. It has only 10% alcohol, showing a very fragrant nose full of quince, orange marmalade and marzipan aromas and a very unctuous body. Reminiscent of Sauternes or Hungarian Tokay. Unfortunately, this exquisite elixir is not yet sold in the US.

  • Jorge Ordoñez & Co, #2  Victoria Moscatel,D.O. Málaga, 95 pts

A fantastic Muscat of Alexandria wine that is elegant and refined. It was aged on its lees for 8 months. It features a perfumed grapey nose that features candied orange, lychee and honeysuckle notes. Superb!

So, if this summer you plan to learn more about Spanish wines or a wine tour through Spain, buy this wonderful guide! It will surely help you learn more about Spanish grapes, wine styles and its varied terroir.  Salud! or Cheers! Silvina.


#thoughtsoflawina #WineWednesday #penineventnyc #guiapenin