Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Tishbi Wines to toast the Jewish High Holiday Season!

Every year, Jews from around the world prepare themselves for what is known as the Jewish High Holiday season, 3 full weeks where we celebrate a new year (Rosh Hashanah: 5783) starting on September 25th, a fast where we abstain of all food and drink (Yom Kippur) and (Sukkot), also known as the Festival of the Tabernacles/ Booths. During these 3 long weeks, families and friends celebrate together around the dinner table, preparing some of their best recipes. And of course, if food is important more so, our choice of wines! like this wonderful selection sent to me by Tishbi winery from Binyamina-Giv'at Ada, in Israel.

Family owned since 1882, Tishbi winery was founded by Michael and Malka Chamiletzki, two Lithuanian immigrants who settled in Zichron Yaakov. Nowadays, the winery is managed and owned by their descendants: Jonathan Tishbi and his family, who produce not only wines, but also olive oil and own two restaurants and a bakery. They welcome visitors all year around, to taste not only their impressive wine line up, but also artisanal olive oil, chocolate and breads! You can get more information about their tours here.

My wine recommendations:

Tishbi Estate Gewurztraminer 2020, $18.99.
It is made from 100 % Gewurztraminer grapes sourced from top vineyard plots in the Judean Hills. This delicious medium bodied, off-dry white features notes of lychee and persimmon with hints of candied orange. Serve it as aperitif,  with salads or light fish courses.

Tishbi Estate Merlot 2017, $28.99
Made from 100 % Merlot grapes, this medium bodied red showcases plum cake, prunes and chocolate notes, with very round and smooth tannins. This wine is aged for 12 months in oak. Serve this with roasted turkey with green herbs or my holiday favorite: chicken with green olives and raisins.

Tishbi Estate Cabernet 2017
, $28.99
This medium, smooth bodied red is made from 100 % Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that deliver blackberry and cassis notes combined with spicy rum and coffee touches from oak aging in a blend of French and American barrels. Serve this with your beef brisket cooked in its juice, or lamb chops with rosemary. L’ Chaim!

All three are kosher for Passover and all year around.

Wishing all of my readers a Shanah Tova u Metuka! which in Hebrew means “A sweet and good year”. Cheers! Silvina.

#Thoughtsoflawina #WineWednesday #Tishbiwines #Kosherwines #Jewishhighholidays #drinkupamerica.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

From France, Oh là là !

Bonjour à tous! like they say in Paris! I just returned from my first visit to this incredible and culturally rich city. And what an experience it was! After so many months of preparations, of watching videos on YouTube, of deciding what I wanted to see, where I wanted to go… I was finally there! And let me assure you the city is more beautiful than in the movies, and of course,  I tried to do it all; the boats on La Seine (I did 2), the Louvre museum to see La Gioconde, the Orsay (my favorite, I confess I love Van Gogh), the Tootbus that stops at all major attractions, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc of Triumph, the Tuileries and Luxembourg gardens, the tomb of Napoleon at Les Invalides and how his presence is felt all over Paris in the many monuments he commissioned while he was in power...  I was beyond happy! Et bien sûr, j'étais en France!, one of the best wine producers in the world, so basically, I was for about 10 days in a wine heaven, but also pastry/bread/cheese heaven, and so ready to taste all that Paris had to offer.

And of course, any dream vacation had to include one wine appellation. Where else if not Champagne!  Specifically Épernay, which is only an hour and 10 minutes away by train. Unfortunately I was there only for a day, but I promised myself to return to taste more of these fantastic wines. Upon my arrival at the Épernay train station, a truly charming town,  I walked a few blocks to the avenue of Champagne, where basically, most producers are located side by side.

My first tour of the day was to my favorite Champagne house: Pol Roger. I guess I have the same taste for fine things like Sir Winston Churchill who once said that “Pol Roger was the most drinkable address in the world”. Indeed, Pol Roger was his favorite too. He discovered Pol Roger Champagne in the UK in 1928 and rapidly became a fan, later in the 1940s he became close friends with the then owners Jacques and Odette Pol Roger.  Their friendship was such that the Pol Roger family decided to name their top cuvée in his honor: Sir Winston Churchill. It was released for the first time in 1984, 9 years after its vintage, which was in 1975 and it was sold in magnums to the UK market. To this date the winery still makes this wine, counting every year with the approval seal of Sir Winston Churchill’s heirs. Pol Roger is also a favorite of the house of England, and was the Champagne served in many weddings and special events, including the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  


 The front of the Maison (picture used with permission of Pol Roger)

But before I continue talking about the winery, allow me to thank Sylviane Lemaire, who graciously agreed to receive me. See, Pol Roger is not open to visitors like many of the rest of wineries on the avenue, this treat made my tour and experience even more amazing!

Now, when you drink Pol Roger Champagne, you need to realize that you are drinking the tradition and the know-how of six generations. Family owned since its beginnings in 1849, the founder, Pol Roger, started selling his wines when he was only 18 years old and from there with every generation, the company continued to grow and overcame many crises, including the collapse of their cellars in the 1900s with the loss of about 1,500,000 champagne bottles, two World wars, the economic crisis of 1929 and even US prohibition. Through it all, the company not only managed to survive but also to succeed, expanding its markets and fame all over the world and at the same time investing continuously in their cellars and vineyards.


In order to make their fantastic line up, Pol Roger obtains fruit from a total of 200 hectares distributed in Grand Cru and Premier Cru areas in Champagne (mostly located in the Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Blancs sub-appellations). 92 of those hectares are owned by the winery that started planting grapes in 1954 and the rest of the fruit comes from long term contracts with local growers. Fermentations, both alcoholic and malolactic take place at the winery, in the limestone cellars I visited. Here and located 33 meters from street level, the aging takes place, at 9º centigrade Celsius (48º Fh) which provides a humid and cool environment for fine bubble making and autolysis that gives Champagne its wonderful aromas and flavors. Read more about the Champagne vinification process in my post published in 2020. 

After aging that is always longer than what is stipulated by law, comes the labor intensive remuage (riddling) done mostly by hand. Pol Roger prides itself for giving its vintage Champagnes longer aging, which yields a fantastic lacy mousse de pris and layers of complexity. Aging goes for about 7 years for the Blanc de Blancs and Rosé and an average of 10 years for the Sir Winston Churchill cuvée.

My recommendations: I had the pleasure of tasting the current releases of their 4 top wines (all vintage dated, meaning these are not made every year, and are made only when the vintage is excellent).  I tasted 3 of these wines at the winery and 1 at the hotel (it was a gift from Sylviane that I drank for my birthday 4 days later). 

Pol Roger Vintage 2015 is a sophisticated blend of 60% Pinot Noir with 40% Chardonnay.  This Champagne exudes ripe apricot, honey, toasted nuts and brioche notes. Full bodied and very elegant, yet structured with a long and lively finish. $110

Pol Roger Banc de Blancs 2015 is beautiful and refined. Completely made from Chardonnay grapes grown in the following Grands Crus of the Côte des Blancs: Oiry, Chouilly, Cramant, Avize, Oger and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. The nose features citrus lemon, pineapple, butter and pastry notes. Full bodied, it has a superb, creamy texture and juicy acidity. $130

Pol Roger Rosé 2015, was always one of my favorites, the first vintage I tasted and loved was the 1992. This Rosé is made of 60% Pinot Noir with 40% Chardonnay sourced from the best Crus in Montagne de Reims. It features refreshing raspberry, strawberry and fresh ginger notes, full bodied and with a smoky, mineral finish. $125

And finally, I saved the best for last, Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2013, the winery keeps the blend a secret, though Sylviane admitted it’s mostly Pinot Noir with a smaller percentage of Chardonnay. A powerful and magnificent Champagne, featuring baked apple tart, preserved lemon, and biscuit, yeasty notes. Rich and generous, yet so unbelievably refined! What an incredible way to end my tour. $250.


The winery also produces three NV Champagnes: Reserve $50 (another favorite that I consume very often), Pure (with no dosage/their driest version) and Rich (demisec/off-dry) $70. Cheers! Silvina



#thoughtsoflawina, #WineWednesday #Paris #frenchwine #Champagne #France #PolRoger


There will be a second article about my visit to Epernay, coming in December, featuring the wines of another Champagne house (Boizel). In the meantime, remember to #drinkupamerica. 

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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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