Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Book Review: "Brut Force" by Peter Stafford-Bow

The wines are quite open; they have clearly been aerated.
If you've read this book then you understand that quote. If you haven't read this book then you should. Felix Hart is back! It's been two years since I reviewed Corkscrew: The highly improbable, but occasionally true, tale of a professional wine buyer, and I am really excited that there's a sequel! This one is called Brut Force: The further, staggering adventures of a professional wine buyer.

I absolutely loved Corkscrew. It's one of the funniest (and funnest) novels that I have ever read, with no exaggeration. But Corkscrew covered Felix's rise into the business and becoming a Minstrel of Wine, and it was mostly a collection of fun adventures that came together in the end.

Brut Force is more structured, and it's focused on a main plot from the very beginning with adventure in its subplots, although with less wilderness and wildlife. And things get very serious for Felix, as his life is on the line from one major threat for the vast majority of the story. So even though Brut Force doesn't have as many outrageously ridiculous moments as Corkscrew, it's the better book. Peter is clearly growing as a writer.

It's been two years since Felix became a Minstrel of Wine, and now it's time for him to decide which House he'll join. Would he choose House Archevist, House Terroirist, House Mercantilist, or House Hedonist? If you know anything about Felix than you know that House Hedonist is the House for him. But his plans have to be changed against his will, just like many things are about to happen against his will. Like, spoiler alert, almost being drowned in a wine barrel.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Wine Review: Corvezzo Terre di Marca Pinot Grigio Ramato


Terre di Marca is a label of Azienda Corvezzo, which is located in the Veneto region of Italy. The Terre di Marca label specializes in Prosecco and Pinot Grigio, but all wines by Corvezzo are 100% organic. They started the organic conversion in 2010 and completed it in 2017. I'm not going to waste time by going further writing a blurb about them because you have GOT to see their awesome website called The Organic Prosecco (http://www.theorganicprosecco.com). It's got a fun and educational layout to show you how they go about making their wines organically.

This is wine #1 of 5 that I'm reviewing by them leading up to the new year. I'm starting off here with the 2017 Pinot Grigio Ramato, then I'll be reviewing their 2017 Pinot Grigio, Rosé "Sur lie" Frizzante, Prosecco "Sur lie" Frizzante, and finally their Prosecco.

The 2017 Pinot Grigio Ramato is from the Motta di Livenza area of the Delle Venezie DOC. It's 100% Pinot Grigio that spends a brief time with its skins, like a rosé, to give it a copper (romato) color. Grigio means grey in Italian (Gris means grey in French) and the Pinot Grigio / Gris grape is a greyish purple, thus the name, so you can make a rosé-ish wine out of it like this one. It was cold macerated at 0º C for six hours and saw cold crushing and pressing. Then a portion of the wine spent some time in oak barrels while the rest spent time in stainless steel. It has an ABV of 12.5% and will cost you $17.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Wine Quickie: Vilarnau Brut Reserva Rosé Cava


Just like the Brut Reserva Cava, this will run you $14 and the bottle is wrapped with the work of Antoni Gaudí, who was a Spanish architect in the late 1800's into the early 1900's. The Brut Reserva Rosé is strawberry candy in color. There's aromas and flavors of strawberries, peaches, and cream soda, with a creamy mouthfeel and a lively personality. And just like the Brut again, it's not for sipping and savoring but it's perfect for some fun downing of refreshing and affordable bubbly.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Wine Review: Feravino Miraz Frankovka 2015

Feravino Miraz Frankovka 2015

Excerpt from TheWineAndMore: Feravino Winery, from Feričanci, is a continental wine producer focused on red wine production. Pride of their wine cellar, Frankovka (blaufränkisch)– is the grape variety that they call "the queen of their vineyards". Feravino tradition goes back to the 18th century when the still existing wine cellar was built. The vineyards are planted on the gentle slopes of Krndija mountain, perfectly exposed to daily sunlight. Today Feravino owns more than 150 hectares of vineyards and they are the leading winery in the Feričanci area.

Frankovka (blaufränkisch) gives wines with moderate tannins, lively acidity and fruits like sour cherry with peppery notes. This is the wine that accompanies food perfectly and cuts through the traditional Slavoanian cuisine – fat and meaty.

First off: forgive me for being lazy and just copying from the provider's website. You know I love to geek out about stuff like this but this review had to be done in a hurry. Second: Oh hell yeah! Croatian wine! I'm excited! This is Frankovka from the Slavoanian region of Croatia. It saw maceration for 12 to 24 hours, fermented in stainless steel, then was aged in 500 liter barrels for two years.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Cheese Grotto, The Cellars of Jasper Hill Farm, Craggy Range Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc 2018, & Feudo Maccari Saia Nero D'avola 2015

The Cheese Grotto, The Cellars of Jasper Hill Farm

I am a cheese addict. So when I was asked if I wanted to try something called "The Cheese Grotto", there was no way that I could say no. "Hey, crackhead! Would you like to try out this crack pipe?" Yes. Yes I would.

So check this out: The Cheese Grotto (https://cheesegrotto.com) is a wooden box for cheese storage that you can put on your counter top, a cool place in your house, or in your fridge, and is meant to mimic the moisture, coolness, and air flow of a cheese aging cave. There are different designs and prices, but they all have a glass door so you can monitor your cheeses, a ventilated back for air flow, shelving where the cheeses go, and a brick that you quickly submerge in water every once in awhile to release moisture. You don't have to put one thing of cheese in there; it works for how much it can fit. In fact, it suggests that you stock it up when you go away on vacation to help keep the proper moisture.

I can't be on here talking about a Cheese Grotto without cheese! That would be stupid! So I've got three aged cheeses by The Cellars of Jasper Hill Farm (https://www.jasperhillfarm.com) in Vermont:

● Landaff: This is a Welsh style cheddar made from raw cow milk and aged 4 to 6 months. Natural rind and semi-firm. Excellent melting cheese. It can last on the counter top in the Grotto for 10 days.
● Cabot Clothbound Cheddar: This cheese is an ACS Best in Show winner. It's bandaged cheddar made from pasteurized cow milk and was aged 9 to 14 months. Rustic, crystalline texture that melts creamy on palate. Can be stored on the counter top in the Grotto for 2 weeks.
● Little Hosmer: This is a bloomy rind soft cheese (my favorite kind of cheese) made from pasteurized cow milk and aged 6 to 12 weeks. It can be ripened in the Grotto for 4 weeks if the Grotto is in an area where the temperature is between 50 to 60 degrees F.

I kept the Grotto in my dining room and I didn't put the Little Hosmer in the Grotto; just the Landaff and Cabot. I only had them in there for a few days but the grotto is working great so far! The cheese shows no signs of drying out and becoming crappy like it would if I just stuck it in the fridge without wrapping it, and they're showing no signs of going bad from not being refrigerated.

The Cheese Grotto, The Cellars of Jasper Hill Farm, Craggy Range Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc 2018, & Feudo Maccari Saia Nero D'avola 2015
ERROR NOTE: CRAP! The cards for the Cabot and Landoff should be switched! Sorry!
But wait! There's more! It's time to see how these cheeses pair with wine! I've got one excellent white and one outstanding red, provided by Kobrand Wine & Spirits!  (http://www.kobrandwineandspirits.com)

● Craggy Range Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc 2018: This is 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Craggy Range's Te Muna ("secret place") in Martinborough on the North Island of New Zealand. In case you don't already know; another region called Marlborough, now the most famous wine region in New Zealand because of their Sauvignon Blancs, is on the South Island. This wine saw an early harvest and was fermented in closed top stainless steel tanks, then matured for four months. It has a 13% ABV and will cost you about $25.
● Feudo Maccari Saia Nero d'Avola 2015: And this wine is from another island. It's where I get my surname. Sicily. Nero d'Avola is a native grape of Sicily, and it name means "black of Avola" (Avola being the village where the grape is thought to originate) and its nickname is, or was when I broke into the business, "the Shiraz of Italy". This one is 100% Nero d'Avola, and it's from a low yield due to the difficulties of the vintage. It spent 12 to 14 months aging in French barriques, with a second blending at first racking. Then it was aged another 6 months in the bottle. It has a 14% ABV and will cost you about $40.

Let's do this! The Landaff gets crumbly when you cut it, and it melts in your mouth beautifully to go from hard bodied to a creamy buttermilk softness with grace and deliciousness. The Cabot Clothbound Cheddar has that sharpness nice sharpness up front but it's not out of control like some sharp cheddars can be, and it's got a nuttiness and tanginess to it as well. Then the Little Hosmer is a wonderful dream to me. Soft and creamy with a cauliflower-esque flavor and that classic bloomy rind mushroominess. So friggin good!

The Craggy Range Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc has a flinty minerality over aromas of limes, grapefruit, and herbs. It was a bright acidity and flavors of limes, white peach, and nectarine. It pairs best with the Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, as the flavors play off of each other and the acidity interacts with the transforming structure of the cheese.

The Feudo Maccari Saia Nero D'avola has a stellar nose with aromas of black cherries, blueberries, spearmint, and rose petals. On the palate it's ridiculously lush with soft and sweet tannins, and flavors of black cherries, plums, vanilla, and oak. Just gorgeous. It pairs best with the Landaff, as the two create an earthy character together and the sharpness of the cheese meets a softener that brings them both meeting in the middle.

All of the cheeses and wines are just deliciously amazing. But it turns out that my favorite cheese of the three, the Little Hosmer, was out-paired on both wines! But that's okay because I will eat this or a Brie or a Camembert with any wine, any beer, any brandy, or any whiskey, at any time. Bring it!

Hey, all of this tasting of cheese and wine is fun and all but don't let that distract you from the Cheese Grotto. That's what made this post happen, and you should check it out for yourself because Christmas is coming and everybody knows a cheese addict!

The Cheese Grotto: https://cheesegrotto.com
Jasper Hill Farm: https://www.jasperhillfarm.com
Kobrand Wine & Spirits: http://www.kobrandwineandspirits.com

The Cheese Grotto

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