Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Boizel: Your Champagne for the Holidays!

Boizel, a six generation family enterprise, was founded in 1834 by a couple of local pastry chefs, Auguste Boizel and Julie Martin, who ventured into the Champagne business, after Julie inherited vineyards in the cities of Avize and Etoges.

The Boizel Champagne house, a negociant-manipulant, first sold their Champagnes locally, becoming one of the first houses to make and sell brut (dry) Champagne. Soon, their fame crossed all borders, first to the UK, then to Australia, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and NY. Boizel created their first Blanc de Blancs in 1929, and the Joyau (Jewel) line up in 1961. Their prestigious Cuvée "Sous Bois" (in wood) was released in 1990, and it was the first Champagne to be partially vinified in Burgundian second hand oak barrels. A practice that the winery still applies to 10% of their top wines today.

To make their wonderful line up, Boizel sources fruit from 7 hectares of their own vineyards located in Champagne's Avize and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, these are complemented with fruit sourced from local growers. Their vintage wines are all aged in their cool, chalky cellars located underneath their tasting room in Epernay. The length of their aging varies according to each style, most of the NV wines are aged for 3 years, the Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noirs from 3 to 4. Vintage wines for up to 10 years while the Joyau de France line is aged for up to 15 years.

Boizel's Atelier 1834 entrance, their tasting room at Epernay, located at 46 Ave de Champagne.


Besides vinifying their wines in oak, I was surprised to find out that Boizel Champagnes have more Pinot Noir in their blends than any other champagnes (at least 50% or more vs the 33% usually found in other brands). This is true for most of their bottles including the NV, and except for their Blanc de Blancs, which is made solely from Chardonnay. Having a higher percentage of Pinot Noir, makes a huge difference in style, resulting in rich and bigger, yet more elegant Champagnes. 

Last July during my vacation in France, I had the opportunity to visit Atelier 1834 (Boizel's tasting room), where I tasted samples of their wonderful line. I highly recommend you to stop by and give them a try, you can find information to book their tours here.

Here are my recommendations: (special thanks to Marine Chantepy, Martin Sinkoff and Lydia Richards for making my visit/tour possible and providing information and pictures for this post).

Boizel NV is a blend of 55% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, and 15% Pinot Meunier. This NV Champagne is aged for 3 years on its lees and it includes 30% of reserve wines from the two previous vintages to keep consistency. So classy and elegant! with a lively mousse featuring white peach and yellow apple notes with hints of pear tart and honeysuckle. $60.99

Boizel Rosé NV is a blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier, and 20% Chardonnay. This NV Rosé is aged for 3 years on its lees and it includes 20% of reserve wines from previous vintages. Expressive and well knitted sparkler, reveals strawberry and white cherry notes with fresh raspberry sorbet hints. Very bright with a lively mousse and silky finish. $71.99

Boizel Blancs de Blancs NV is made from 100 % Chardonnay, sourced from top cru locations: Chouilly, Les Mesnil sur Oger, Cramant and Vertus. This Champagne is aged for 4 years on its lees and includes 40% of reserve wines in its blend. This creamy and textured Blanc de Blancs meshes lemon curd and pink grapefruit notes, mixed with smoke almonds and spicy ginger hints. So sophisticated, it invites you to keep on drinking! $83.99

Boizel Blanc de Noirs NV is made from 100% Pinot Noir sourced from top locations that include: Cumières, Mailly and Les Riceys. This wine is aged for 3 years on its lees and the blend includes 30% of reserve wines from previous vintages. A harmonious combination of minerality and texture, featuring apricot and pineapple aromas with fine pastry and hazelnut notes. Unfortunately this wine is not yet available in the US. $N/A

Boizel Vintage 2012 is a blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, and 10% Pinot Meunier. Produced only in the best vintages, 3% of the blend is vinified in used oak casks. This rich Champagne is aged for 8 years on its lees and reveals aromas of white flowers, yellow plum and ripe peach with biscuit notes and orange preserves hints. So rich, yet mouthwatering. $100.99

And finally the Jewel of Boizel, Boizel Joyau de France 2008, featuring a blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay. 10% of this blend is vinified in used oak casks. This wine is aged for an average of 12 years on its lees. Mineral driven, the nose reflects extraordinary complexity, showing yellow peach, candied orange peel, blended with marzipan and brioche notes. Its superb elegance shines through its polished finish. I'm out of words, since this is simply spectacular! $158.99

Once again, thank you Boizel and Taub Family Selections! Happy Holidays and Happy 2023 to all! Cheers! Silvina

#thoughtsoflawina #WineWednesday #Boizel #Champagne #Holidaywines #DrinkupAmerica.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

5 Great Reds for Holiday Gifting!

For sure, some of you have wandered around different wine stores in New York, trying to find the perfect holiday wine gift. You know exactly what I’m talking about, finding that special bottle that will impress your significant other or wine enthusiast in your list, could be very overwhelming, especially with so many choices on the shelves.

The first advice, I would like to give you for the upcoming holiday season, is to start your research earlier by finding out the style of wines the recipient of your gift likes. If someone drinks only red, or a particular grape variety, it’s safer to buy this style, than to experiment and risk disappointing them. Also as a norm, I don’t recommend you to buy the cheapest wine at your wine store, unless you are planning to do sangria with it! Instead, try to spend a bit more. I find that going at least one or two steps up in quality always pays, so avoid the $10 bottle and spend at least $20 or more. I can guarantee you, the recipient of your gift will be super happy.

Keep in mind that there are appellations/ countries in the world that offer more value for your hard earned $$$ than others. This is particularly true for most of the countries located in the southern part of the world: Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, not only they offer great wine jewels at a reasonable price, quality wise they are better than samples from California or Bordeaux with the same price tag.

With this in mind, I have selected 5 delicious reds, all with expressive fruit and finesse, that you should try now:

Yalumba Samuel’s Collection Shiraz 2018 (SRP: $19.99)
Made from 100% Barossa Valley Shiraz, this beautiful red was aged for 12 months in a blend of  3 different oaks that include French, American and Hungarian.
Luscious red featuring ripe plum, blackberry jam and fresh blueberry notes, with a medium plus body, showcasing spicy black pepper and dark chocolate nuances that add complexity and layers to a very smooth finish.

Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 (SRP: $26)
A delicious blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 3% Verdot, this elegant wine was aged in French oak for 15 months.
Flavorful and expressive red reveals seductive black currant, prune and dried herb notes. Full-bodied and polished with fresh acidity and grippy tannins.

Altavista Terroir Selection Malbec 2019 (SRP:$32)
Made from 100% Malbec from 5 different vineyards in Lujan de Cuyo and Valle de Uco, Mendoza. This savory wine was aged for 12 months in new French oak.
A rich and flavorful Malbec showcasing a gorgeous nose full of raspberry, violet and dusty cocoa notes. Generous, yet graceful, with creamy tannins that give depth to a very velvety finish.

Meerlust Rubicon 2017, (SRP:$39.99)
Wonderful, intense and concentrated red is a typical Bordeaux blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 4% Petit Verdot. This wine was aged for 16 months in French oak, 60% new.
Powerful red, featuring a perfumed nose, saturated with plum, blueberry and pencil shaving notes.  Firm and structured tannins give texture, as well as backbone. Super cellar worthy!

Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard 2018 (SRP: $45)
A single vineyard made from 100% Pinot Noir from Marlborough, NZ.  This refined wine matures very briefly in oak and on its lees, before bottling.  
A smooth and sensuous Pinot Noir, meshing red currants, black cherry, dark chocolate and espresso notes. Light-bodied with polished tannins and juicy, mouthwatering acidity. Since I'm team Pinot, this was my favorite of the line up!

Hoping, you will try some of these soon! Cheers, Silvina.
#thoughtsoflawina #WineWednesday #holidaywines #holidayredwines #holidaywinegifting #drinkupamerica

This blog is possible thanks to the contributions of importers, wineries and PR agencies that supply samples to me. Special thanks to:Colangelo PR and Kobrand Wines!

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Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Microbiology and its important role in Wine Fermentation

During the pandemic I attended many webinars organized by my school, WSET/London. One of them caught my attention particularly, because it was about the important role that microbiology plays in wine fermentation. This seminar was presented by Ann Dummont, a Microbiologist from Lallemand Oenology. Her explanations not only satisfied the “wine nerd” in me but also helped me understand the winemaker’s intent behind each wine. 

Take any wine that you like for example, do you truly believe its creation was a pure accident? Probably not.

The winemaker decided to create this style of wine, he/she gave this wine form and shape from the raw materials to the bottle. Every step was meticulously planned and prepared to create a specific result. And the use of specific yeasts and wine bacteria played a very important role not only affecting the quality and style of this wine but also its shelf life.

Every fermentation requires two key ingredients, ripe grapes (with enough sugar) and wine yeast, also known as saccharomyces cerevisiae. If the winemaker decides to also put the wines through malolactic fermentation, bacteria is also needed, specifically oenococcus oeni and lactobacillus plantarum. Their job is to soften malic acid into lactic acid, yielding a softer/ rounder wine, with less acidity. 

There are two schools of thought regarding fermentation, those that follow and use spontaneous fermentation, with indigenous yeasts and those that use inoculated fermentation with lab created yeasts. Spontaneous fermentation is like a roll of the dice, or like leaving everything to chance, by simply allowing nature to take its course. Pro-spontaneous fermentation winemakers are proud of being so “natural”, of using indigenous yeasts found mostly in the wineries, brought by insects, in wine making material, grapes and skins. They are always defending the funky aromas and flavors of some of their wines, which according to them can only happen during a spontaneous fermentation. But, when you make wine commercially, is it smart to relinquish control over the whole fermentation process?  I guess, much depends on your tolerance to risk. This is why most wineries take the second path, that allows less risk by using inoculated fermentation. Here not only you have control of the whole fermentation process, and therefore the resulting wine, but you also reduce the chances of deviating from your objective, which is to make a sound wine that has no faults.

Now, the microbiological population varies through the different stages of fermentation, as seen in the graph courtesy of Lallemand Oenology. At the beginning and inside the berry, we find mostly non-fermenting oxidative flora, when the fermentation takes place, the balance changes, the oxidative flora diminishes greatly,  and the fermenting species, the saccharomyces cerevisiae prevail. The process will continue even during aging with further changes. 


  (graph used with permission of Lallemand Oenology (adapted from Renouf, 2016)

So, at the beginning of fermentation, non-saccharomyces cerevisiae will be present in higher numbers, but as the alcohol levels begin to increase, saccharomyces cerevisiae will take over. That is the path you want to take to a successful wine fermentation. If on the other hand non-saccharomyces cerevisiae are allowed to dominate, not only you will have problems in finishing the fermentation and getting a dry wine but they also can create faulty flavors that should be avoided.

Using inoculated/selected yeasts is not only important to control spoilage microorganisms, it also aids to express varietal and terroir typicity and to develop certain wine styles.  There are about 300 commercially available lab yeasts, many created on demand, some of them are better for certain styles, say red or for white wine or sparkling. Using inoculated yeasts, can help to increase acidity and freshness for example, or help the development of certain aromatics compounds, reducing sulfites and volatile acidity.

Of course, those in favor of spontaneous fermentation may say, inoculated yeasts will never provide the same flavors in a wine, than natural yeasts. But I disagree, inoculated yeasts, though created in labs like Lallemand, were also taken from wineries, from their vineyards and plots, and put through a 3-10 years rigorous selection process, whose main objective was to create a certain specific wine style, in a way, they customize the final product, providing in the process, many of the wine aromatics we like so much. Cheers! Silvina


 #thoughtsoflawina, #winefermentation #inoculatedyeasts #winewednesday#spontanousfermentation  #drinkupamerica

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Monday, October 10, 2022

Terroir and Soil

The French say that every great wine is born in the vineyards and that is the result of good viticulture and vinification practices used to express their terroir. 

But what is terroir? And isn’t it the same as soil? And the answer is NO.

Soil is just one element in the concept of terroir, and indeed a very important one. But terroir is not just the soil, terroir is a bigger concept that includes soil, climate and their relationship with the grape varieties. Of course, this is a very simple definition of terroir, since there are many factors that must be considered; for example, climate includes not only the mesoclimate (climate patterns of the vineyard but also the microclimate, climate of the vine), and let’s not forget the weather that changes every year, and hence the importance of vintages, varying according to the amount of sun the vines receive, the amount of rain, humidity, winds, frost, etc. 

The concept of soil includes several things, among them, its texture, its capacity to hold water, its structural and mineral components of both the topsoil and subsoil, its altitude, the steepness/ inclination of the slope, its ability to retain heat and to aid ripening, and how both climate and soil relate to the grape varieties, since each variety has different needs; some do better in cooler and sunnier weather, while others need extreme heat and very little rain. 

Terroir is, in a way, how these three elements interact, which will eventually lead us to conclude that no vineyard site was created equal, and that there might be differences, even within a vineyard. Terroir is also the basis of the French Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée system, created to protect origin as well as wine typicity.

Beautiful shot of stony soils that aid ripening by reflecting the heat they receive from the sun.


In the New World, the concept of terroir is not so important, New World countries worry more about climate. Soon they realized that copying the styles of the French was not always so easy.  For example, comparing latitudes between both hemispheres didn't yield the same results, and this is because the northern hemisphere is warmer than the southern, in part because its mass of land is bigger, but also due to the influence of the gulf stream. 


New World wine growers have definitely, more freedom to choose where to plant, but they need to find the right spot and then make an effort to keep the balance. Each vine grower knows that they need to work with nature, in order to get all of the goodness that nature is capable of giving. On the other hand, in the Old World, the concept of terroir reigns, and wine growers throughout history dedicated a lot of time to find out why certain vineyards give better wines than others, and how someone could or could not duplicate this phenomenon.

Regarding soils, and specifically those dedicated to viticulture, there are some common factors that can aid the wine grower to get optimal fruit ripeness:  

  • Most vines like well drained soils and having easy access to water. Depending on the climate, vines may prefer a cold soil (to delay ripening and therefore favoring acidity in wine) or a warm soil that can speed ripening and encourage earlier budding. Now, we must be careful with the amount of water, since too much will increase vigor and excessive growth of shoots and leaves that will generate shade and therefore fungal diseases. Too little water, creates the opposite, shutting the plant out. In hot climates, soils help prevent evaporation, for example the white Albariza in Jerez, forms a crust that helps the vine, survive hot and very dry summers. This is very important in appellations where irrigation is not allowed by law.
  • The color of soils are important, dark soils are warmer and aid ripening, giving lusher fruit and flavors than light colored soils. Texture and friability are also important, dense soils are late ripening and will give more herbaceous flavors, while loose, stony soils are early ripening and will give fruit forward flavors.
  • Nitrogen content is important, too much nitrogen can be bad, since the vine will produce large amounts of leaves and shoots, instead of focusing on the fruit. Nitrogen also affects the way yeasts metabolize musts.
  • Too much potassium content must be avoided, since it can reduce precious wine acidity.  Of course, the wine grower can work the soil to keep its balance. Calcium in soils, on the other hand, increases the pH (acidity) producing fresher wines.
  • High levels of organic matter are to be avoided. Contrary to popular belief, what works for other fruits and vegetables, doesn’t work for viticulture. Too fertile soils are not something to look forward to, since they produce excess vigor in vines, and favor roots that grow sideways. Very infertile soils are better, because they encourage the vines to go deeper in search of nutrients and minerals, as well as a water table. It’s said that vines grow where nothing else grows and that some stress (always avoiding extremes) will yield very concentrated wines.

Now, every time I write about an appellation, I indicate the contribution of its soils in the style of the wine and how it affects the final product. Of course, the anti-terroirists usually would say that the wine is the result of winemaking and that nobody can taste the soil in the glass. But I disagree, certain wine flavors come from the soils, such as the smoke present in the wines of the Mosel (from slate rich soils), or minerality present in the wine of Priorat (from llicorella soils) and for this reason only, I listed some of the most important soils below and what they provide to the wines we’ve grown to love so much.

  • Limestone soils give wines with high acidity and that are very aromatic, they also retain water in dry conditions, we can find this soil in the regions of Champagne and Burgundy. 
  • Clay soils are cold soils but poorly drained and at times dense. They give wines with fuller bodies. Pomerol and St Emilion have clay soils which are good for early ripening Merlot. 
  • Granitic soils are acidic soils, warm and minerally rich, they also reflect heat and aid ripening, a sample of these are the soils in the Beaujolais Crus.
  • Gravel soils are well drained and acidic and therefore give grapes with low acidity. A better combination will be gravel with limestone giving wines with more acidity and elegance. Like those in the Left bank of Bordeaux (Pessac-Leognan, Paulliac).
  • Flint soils are soils rich in silica, they reflect heat and are good for ripening, we can find these soils in the Loire Valley. They also provide their typical goût de pierre à fusil nose.
  • Marl soils are calcareous soils that are cool and delay ripening, favoring acidity in wines. Marl soils are found in Chianti (Galestro).
  • Schist and Slate are rocky soils, they are warm soils, made of fragmented rocks, they usually drain well, retain heat and aid ripening. Mosel in Germany, known for its cool and marginal climate, is rich in slate soils. 
  • Sandy soils usually drain well and retain heat, a sample of this soils can be found in Santa Barbara, California. They are also acidic soils but yield less aromatics than granitic soils.
  • Volcanic Soils: are rich in sediments and minerals and give complex, ample and fleshy wines. We can find volcanic soils in the Canary Islands, Yarra Valley and Oregon’s Willamette valley.

Until the next one, Cheers! Silvina

#thoughtsoflawina #wine&soils #terroir #WineWednesday #drinkupamerica 

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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

Best 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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