Sunday, September 15, 2019

Just Brew It, Part Three: Understanding and Buying Sake


If you haven't read Part One: A brief history of Sake then go ahead and check it out. Or not. It's not required reading for this article, although Sake's history is a fascinating one. But I do suggest that you head on over to Part Two: Making Sake if you haven't read it already, because that's where I tell you all about what the heck Sake is and how it's produced. 

At the end of Part Two: Making Sake we had one question before we could finish making our Sake: Will this Sake be a Futsu-Shu (lower quality Sake) or a premium Sake? And if it's premium then will it be a Honjozo or a Junmai? This determines whether it will be bottled as is or if alcohol and water are added, and talking about that made more sense here than there.

So let's take this Sake series one part further and first take a look at the different categories of Sake to help make your life as a Sake consumer a lot easier, and then we'll move on and talk about buying and drinking Sake. Don't worry because I'm purposefully trying to avoid overloading you with information. I want you to learn about this outstanding beverage and take interest in it and not run away scared, because it is absolutely worth it.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Saké Quickie: Kiku-Masamune Taru Saké Cup

Kiku-Masamune Tara Saké Cup

Saké in the jarro! This is a Jumai in a 180ml jar with a 15% ABV. "Taru" is Saké that's spent time in a cask, a nod to the Edo Period when Saké was transported in casks, and this one was aged in Yoshino Cedar until it has obtained that color and the desired flavor. It's pretty damn peppery if you ask me. I do like peppery stuff, as you know, but I'm not too sure if I like it on Saké to this level. It has a nice creamy mouthfeel and a little melon and pear, but I think with that cedar and pepper this one really depends on what you pair it with. Smoked foods seem to be suggested for Taru, and I can absolutely see that.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Wine Expert Gabriel Geller shares exciting new wines for Rosh Hashana

Guest Post by Vicki Garfinkel, VICKIGJ PR.

Gabriel Geller, Royal WinesBayonne, NJ, SEPT. 13, 2019 – Rosh Hashana, the holiday that marks the New Year on the Jewish calendar, is around the corner, bringing with it a new wave of world-class kosher wines.

Blogger and wine expert Gabriel Geller, Director of PR and Wine Education Manager for Royal Wine, recently shared insights and observations from inside the wine industry. He reports that the new releases, produced by innovative newcomers and venerated estates alike, are really something to get excited about.

“Whether we’re talking about Herzog wines from California, Terra di Seta wines from Tuscany, Elvi wines from Spain, or Netofa from Israel, it’s clear that today’s kosher wines can compete with any other top-rated label. Quality is everything. Drinking kosher wine is no longer a compromise in quality.”

For example, the Herzog winery, a state-of-the-art facility in Oxnard, California, has produced award-winning wines from some of the most prestigious American vineyards for decades. And since the 1980s, the company has been cultivating and acquiring vineyards of its own. “These producers have introduced some of California’s finest and most well-regarded wines,” says Herzog’s Executive Vice President of Marketing, Jay Buchsbaum. “Kosher is just something we ‘happen to be.’”

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Wine Review: Georges Vigouroux Pigmentum Malbec Rosé 2018


The Vigouroux family has been owned by Chateau Haute-Serre since 1887 and have been champions of the Malbec variety in Cahors and beyond the entire time. It's currently headed by Bertrand-Gabriel Vigouroux and shows know signs of leaving the family any time soon.

I love me some Cahors. Old World, rustic, Malbec from southern France. I once saw a video where a dude took a huge ass jug half filled with Cahors Malbec, filled the rest with water, and it didn't thin out even a little. That's how deeply pigmented Cahors Malbec can be, and that's why it's called the "Black Wine of Cahors".

Buuuuuuut this one is a Rosé, which I was pretty excited about, only to have that excitement unfortunately be short lived. I didn't like it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Wine Quickie: Roseline Prestige Côtes de Provence Rosé 2018


This is 40% Cinsault, 40 % Grenache, and 20% Syrah, with a coppery pink color. It's an uncomplicated but nice and enjoyable rosé with lime, strawberries, pepper, and a little mint. I really, really like it and it's actually pretty hard not to drink it too fast. It's also pairing well with this herb & garlic cheddar that I'm stuffing my face with. Good stuff, man.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Wine Review: Château Peyros Madiran 2014


Madiran is a village in the Haut Béarn region of Gascony, France, that mainly produces wines from the Tannat grape. So we're talking about highly tannic stuff coming out of this village. Wines that chew your steak for you.

Where Château Peyros now sits used to be a convent and the steeple still stands at the top of their slopes. Their wine is a bit different than it's colleagues thanks to it's unique soil for the area and own little microclimate. Not only is it the only vineyard in Madiran that benefits from full southern exposure, but the land is rocky with lots of pebbles and clay. That last part sounds PERFECT for a little bit of Cabernet Franc action, and Château Peyros takes full advantage of that. They have 49 acres of vineyards with 70% of it planted with Tannat and 30% planted with Cabernet Franc.

Their 2014 Madiran is 80% Tannat and 20% Cabernet Franc, with the average age of the vines between 40 and 50 years, and it spends a whole year aging in oak barrels (40% new).

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Wine Quickie: Domaine Chantepierre Lirac 2017


Lirac is a subregion of Côtes du Rhône, France, and this wine is a blend of 45% Grenache, 40% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre. It's got a full body and rich mouthfeel with tamed acidity, soft tannin, and fantastic umami. There's aromas and flavors of black cherries, blackberries, leather, licorice, and mint. This is just a wonderfully easily approachable CDR GSM for $18. And, as I've found with most Grenache based wines, it does benefit from seeing a slight chill.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Wine Review: Albert Bichot Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis 2016

Albert Bichot Domaine Long-Depaquit Chablis

Ooooh Chablis! Isn't white Burgundy just one of the greatest things ever? I friggin' love it! Another thing that makes this bottle so special is that my favorite regular customer gave it to me when she bought a case. Thank you, Deborah!

So, in case you don't know, Chablis is unoaked Chardonnay from the region of Chablis in Burgundy, France. The Bichot family can trace their lineage back to the 1350's but they've been in the wine business since 1831. They have four estates in Burgundy; one in Chablis (Château Long-Depaquit), one in Côte de Nuits (Domaine du Clos-Frantin), one in Côte de Beaune (Domaine du Pavillon), and one in Côte Chalonnaise (Domaine Adélie). All of their vineyards are sustainably grown. Not only do they have those estates of their own, but they're also a negociante who also buys grapes and juice from others to produce more wine.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Sail to Trail WineWorks of New England Launches Boutique Urban Winery Online

Sail to Trail WineWorks

WORCESTER, MA, (September 4, 2019) PRESS RELEASESail to Trail WineWorks, the premier urban winery headquartered in New England, has announced today the launch of its new online platform, backed by a mission to redefine the stereotypical wine drinker and create a more inclusive industry experience for consumers nationwide. 

Sail to Trail WineWorks
Sail to Trail’s Founder, Chris Simpson of Worcester, MA, is an engineer-turned-entrepreneur who recognized the need to transform the longstanding market narrative, which to date has largely catered to a demographic that gravitates to sommelier education and elegant tasting events. Simpson aims to simplify both the industry conversation and selection process and in turn, create a dedicated community of diverse customers who feel invited to the table, thanks to Sail to Trail’s refreshing approach and industrial roots.

Simpson is collaborating with a recognized team of wine experts to develop his growing collection of Sail to Trail varietals comprised of hand-selected, limited batch, red and white blends that are curated, bottled and available for purchase and by subscription online. Each bottle is marked with its own unique cuvee number, reflecting the exclusive small batch that is produced one time only under the Sail to Trail brand.

Sail to Trail WineWorks Cabernet Sauvignon“My mission in launching Sail to Trail online is to create a more approachable, simplified alternative to the market’s status quo with a focus on the casual wine drinker,” stated Chris Simpson, Founder and CEO of Sail to Trail WineWorks. “By pairing our urban New England roots with select, top notch blends produced by our partners across the globe, our goal is to promote inclusion by eliminating industry intimidation—doing the hard work for our consumers by curating and bottling a limited collection of what we believe are the very best varietals out there.” 

The Sail to Trail collection includes designated varietals with favorited grapes aggregated from across the world, currently in partnership with vineyards in Walla Walla and Yakima Valley, Washington, Sonoma, and Central Coast, California with a growing global footprint on the horizon.

Loyal customers are invited to join the Ladder 7 Club—named in honor of Simpson’s grandfather, a hometown firefighter and World War II veteran—which offers subscribers access to discounted rates, prime shipping fees, birthday rewards, and other exclusive benefits, now available to residents in 40 states. Sail to Trail is currently working through local regulations, with plans to build out a Tasting Room space in Massachusetts to bring the wines home. 

Sail to Trail WineWorks Sauvignon BlancLearn more at www.sailtotrail.com and visit upcoming tasting booths in Connecticut at the Greenwich Wine & Food Festival and Harvest Festival.

About Sail to Trail WineWorks 

Sail to Trail WineWorks is a premier urban winery headquartered in Worcester, Massachusetts, on a mission to redefine the stereotypical wine drinker. Sail to Trail is simplifying the industry conversation and selection process for consumers by curating and bottling the very best varietals from across the globe. Sail to Trail varietals are comprised of hand-selected, limited batch, red and white blends that are curated, bottled and available for purchase and subscription online in 40 states. Each bottle is marked with its own unique cuvee number, reflecting the exclusive small batch that is produced one time only under the Sail to Trail brand. Club members benefit from access to exclusive wine deliveries every 3 months, and other measurable rewards.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Wine Quickie: Hecht & Bannier Côtes de Provence Rosè 2018

Hecht & Bannier Côtes de Provence Rosè 2018

This rosè is 45% Cinsault, 45% Grenache, and 10% Vermentino (WTF???). Although it's got a nice nose of raspberry seltzer, lemon, and roses, it kind of falls apart for me on the palate. It's rich with an unbalanced acidity and an unflattering and awkward flavor profile of tart grapefruit, bitter orange, and sweet pear juice. It's well received from other reviewers all across the board, so maybe you'll like it. But it ain't my thing, man.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

September Wine Pick: Chateau de L'Aumerade Côtes de Provence Cuvée Marie Christine Cru Classe Rosé 2017


Oh my goodness, September is going to be a fun month! There will be wines from France, a few Proseccos from Italy, and two American Vermouths. Alright, wines from France may be an understatement because there's a TON of those, and every Tuesday in September will feature a Rosé from Provence, France. Let's call it "Rosé Tuesday".

I'm finishing up my three-part Sake series for this month's long-read article, and I'll even be reviewing a canned sake. CANNED SAKE? WTF? Garnacha Day is on the 20th so there's that. And, as always, additions will be made as the month moves along. I might even review your face, so stop looking at me like that.

Anyways... we're living on borrowed time here for summer weather, so my wine pick of the month is this refreshing Syrah / Grenache Rosé while the sunny days last!

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Wine Quickie: MANCAN Canned Wine


Huh. Canned wine marketed for men. IIIII'm not so sure about this one, guys, but it's actually better than some of the other canned wines out there. I'd take it over Darkhorse or Cupcake any day of the week, but that doesn't mean it's Underwood or Santa Julia.

The White Fizz, which is a semi-sparkling unoaked Chardonnay and Viognier blend, is the best of the batch and I actually really enjoyed it. Crisp and quaffable with lots of apples and pears. I was honestly surprised at how serviceable it is as a canned sparkling wine. The White Wine is a blend of unoaked Chardonnay and Viognier, with a single note of dull melon and no liveliness. It's flat and uninteresting. The Rosé is a blend of  unoaked Chardonnay and Zinfandel, and it has your basic rosé profile of watermelon and strawberries. It's okay but it'll make a good summer crusher, ice cold right out of the can. The Red is a blend of Merlot and Zinfandel. It has nice black cherries, chocolate, and caramel, but it's lackluster in all other aspects such as mouthfeel, acidity, and tannin.

All things said, I like the story of the founders and the winery (check out their website to read about it). Their goal is to create "carefree wine that you can take anywhere without the persnickety" and it looks like they're having a good time doing it. Buy that White Fizz if you see it, guys!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Wine Review: Domaine Bessa Valley Enira 2010


It's the Fifth Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.comYou can read all of the content and reviews from Bulgarian Wine Month under the Bulgaria label.

To read about the fascinating history of Bulgarian wine, check out Bulgaria - Part 1: Three-Thousand Years of Wine History. To learn about the grapes, wine regions and Bulgarian wine's place in the market, read Part 2: The Current State of Bulgarian Wine. And if you'd like to see what Bulgaria's national drink is all about, find out in Part 3: Invincibility of Rakia.

Bessa Valley
BESSA VALLEY
The Bessi were a tribe of Thracians and the Bessa Valley within the Thracian Valley of the Thracian Lowlands is their namesake. Bessa Valley Winery was founded in 2001 when 800 properties were purchased for its creation. German Count Stephan von Neipperg, owner of Bordeaux's Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere and La Mondotte, assists with the winery's production. The Count wanted to be a part of bringing quality wine back to Bulgaria. He's quoted as saying "I’ve chosen Bulgaria because of the magnificent terroir. With Enira we revive the image of the Bulgarian wines worldwide."

I've got three wines by Domain Bessa Valley lined up to finish off Bulgarian Wine Month! I started with their Petit Enira 2011, then I had their Enira 2009, and now I'm sweeping up with their Enira 2010.

The Enira 2010 is 50% Syrah, 40% Merlot, and 10% Petit Verdot. So it's just a little less complicated of a blend than the 2009 vintage. and gone from a Merlot based blend to a Syrah based blend in just one year. First selection is handpicked on the vineyard, then carefully selected again on sorting tables. Rather than crushing the grapes, juice is drained by gravity / the weight of the grapes. Cold maceration of whole berries is performed from 5 to 8 days at 14 – 16 C. Alcohol fermentation with addition of selected yeast strains is controlled at 26-28 C during 8-10 days, in order to reach 3-4 g/l residual sugar, followed by maceration from 5 to 8 days in concrete tanks. Malolactic fermentation continues in the tanks, then aging for about 12 months in oak barrels.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Wine Quickie: Burgaska Special Muskatova Grape Brandy Rakia

August is The Fifth Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com

Burgaska Special Muskatova Grape Brandy

This is my favorite of the three rakias that I've done spirit quickies for this month. Like the Pomorie it's made from Muscat grapes and I believe it's also a grappa, which is a brandy distilled from the must/waste left over from making wine. This one has a fiery pepperiness to it with baked apple, dried banana, vanilla, and other baking spices. It's that fiery pepperiness that I love so much, and why I'll pick a rye over a Bourbon any day of the week. $22 for a 750 ml bottle of this stuff is a good buy! It may not be available on retail shelves where you live but you can buy it on BulgarianWine.com.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Wine Review: Domaine Bessa Valley Enira 2009


It's the Fifth Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.comYou can read all of the content and reviews from Bulgarian Wine Month under the Bulgaria label.

To read about the fascinating history of Bulgarian wine, check out Bulgaria - Part 1: Three-Thousand Years of Wine History. To learn about the grapes, wine regions and Bulgarian wine's place in the market, read Part 2: The Current State of Bulgarian Wine. And if you'd like to see what Bulgaria's national drink is all about, find out in Part 3: Invincibility of Rakia.

The Bessi were a tribe of Thracians and the Bessa Valley within the Thracian Valley of the Thracian Lowlands is their namesake. Bessa Valley Winery was founded in 2001 when 800 properties were purchased for its creation. German Count Stephan von Neipperg, owner of Bordeaux's Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere and La Mondotte, assists with the winery's production. The Count wanted to be a part of bringing quality wine back to Bulgaria. He's quoted as saying "I’ve chosen Bulgaria because of the magnificent terroir. With Enira we revive the image of the Bulgarian wines worldwide."

I've got three wines by Domain Bessa Valley lined up to finish off Bulgarian Wine Month! I started with their Petit Enira 2011, now I'm reviewing their Enira 2009, and then I'm sweeping up with their Enira 2010.

This vintage is 66% Merlot, 12% Syrah, 12% Petit Verdot, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes are hand picked, then carefully selected on sorting tables. Cold maceration of whole berries is performed from five to eight days at 60ºF. Alcohol fermentation with addition of selected yeast strains is controlled at 79-82ºF during eight to ten days, followed by maceration from five to eight days in concrete tanks. Malolactic fermentation continues in tanks, then it sees aging for about twelve months in oak barrels.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Wine Quickie: VINI Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

August is The Fifth Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com


Last year I gave the 20016 vintage of this wine a 5/5 in a full review, and normally I don' t do scores in quickie reviews but I would double down on that 5/5 score for the 2018 vintage. Out of Thracian Valley, Bulgaria, it's medium bodied with chalky tannin and a bit of a perk to its acidity. There's aromas and flavors of black cherries, blueberries, pencil shavings, vanilla, and a slatey minerality. Man, for $10 this is quite a buy for Cabernet. VINI has proven once again this year that they know how to do inexpensive Pinot Grigio and Cabernet very well!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Wine Review: Domaine Bessa Valley Petit Enira 2011


It's the Fifth Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.comYou can read all of the content and reviews from Bulgarian Wine Month under the Bulgaria label.

To read about the fascinating history of Bulgarian wine, check out Bulgaria - Part 1: Three-Thousand Years of Wine History. To learn about the grapes, wine regions and Bulgarian wine's place in the market, read Part 2: The Current State of Bulgarian Wine. And if you'd like to see what Bulgaria's national drink is all about, find out in Part 3: Invincibility of Rakia.

Thracian Warrior by Rocio Espin Pinar
THRACIAN WARRIOR
by Rocio Espin Pinar
The Bessi were a tribe of Thacians and the Bessa Valley within the Thracian Valley of the Thracian Lowlands is their namesake. Bessa Valley Winery was founded in 2001 when 800 properties were purchased for its creation. German Count Stephan von Neipperg, owner of Bordeaux's Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere and La Mondotte, assists with the winery's production. The Count wanted to be a part of bringing quality wine back to Bulgaria. He's quoted as saying "I’ve chosen Bulgaria because of the magnificent terroir. With Enira we revive the image of the Bulgarian wines worldwide."

I've got three wines by Domain Bessa Valley lined up to finish off Bulgarian Wine Month! First it's their Petit Enira 2011 (which I'm reviewing right now), then it's their Enira 2009, and sweeping it all up will be their Enira 2010.

So the Peitit Enira is obviously a lower tier of Enira, and what we've got here for the 2011 vintage is 70% Merlot, 15% Syrah, 5% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes are hand-picked, then carefully selected on sorting tables. Cold maceration of whole berries is performed from three to five days at 57-60ºF in order to reach desired color and fruits flavors. Alcohol fermentation with addition of selected yeast strains is controlled at 79-82ºC during eight to ten days, followed by maceration from five to eight days in concrete tanks. Malolactic fermentation continues in tanks, then it's aged for about ten to twelve months in French oak barrels (30% two years-old, 70% three-years old).

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Product Video Review: Nicholas Collection Pop Cap


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Wine Bloggers Off-Topic #3: Most inspirational historical figures

Galileo Galilei

And we're back with another installment of Wine Bloggers Off-Topic! It became apparent that this would be better served as a bi-monthly thing rather than monthly because, ya know, life is busy and even monthly comes up real quick on us all. ALTHOUGH! Recently I was inspired by seeing my favorite quote of all time pop up when a friend shared it on Facebook, so maybe we could do one next month with just our favorite quote? No need for a write-up or explanation or anything, just the quote. What do you guys think?

The point of this series is for all of us to learn more about those in our online wine community beyond their taste in wine, and today it's all about the historical figure that inspires us the most. As always, they are in order of submission.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Wine Review: VINI Pinot Grigio 2017


It's the Fifth Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.comYou can read all of the content and reviews from Bulgarian Wine Month under the Bulgaria label.

To read about the fascinating history of Bulgarian wine, check out Bulgaria - Part 1: Three-Thousand Years of Wine History. To learn about the grapes, wine regions and Bulgarian wine's place in the market, read Part 2: The Current State of Bulgarian Wine. And if you'd like to see what Bulgaria's national drink is all about, find out in Part 3: Invincibility of Rakia.

The 2016 vintage of the VINI Pinot Grigio was one of my favorite wines of last year's Bulgarian Wine Month, and I do believe that this vintage is even better!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Sauvignon Blanc Lemonade with Bloomers Frosé and VINI Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Sauvignon Blanc Lemonade with Bloomers Frosé and VINI Sauvignon Blanc 2018

How about a bourbon and wine cocktail recipe? It's super easy to make, absolutely delicious, and really refreshing for these later days of summer while things are still hot. You gotta get your hands on some Bloomers Frosé to make it, though. Hell, you gotta get your hands on it anyways because there's A LOT of cocktails recipes out there for this mixer.

Bloomers FroséWHAT YOU NEED:

4 ounces of Bloomers Frosé
8 ounces of Sauvignon Blanc
2 ounces of Bourbon
A blender
Ice

So there's no actual lemonade in this lemonade??? Nope! But to my surprise the name definitely fits the flavor profile. Here's some info on Bloomers and what I used for the other ingredients:

Bloomers Frosé - The key ingredient to this cocktail and many more! This unique mixer is the first-ever retail mixer for both wine and spirits. This original ready-to-use, non-alcoholic mixer enables mixologists to whip up an icy-smooth version of your favorite cocktail or mocktail in minutes. Easy and crowd-pleasing, Bloomers Frosé takes your drink to the next level with frozen concoctions that are sure to please.  It's vegan, Kosher, non-GMO and Gluten-Free. You can find a bunch of other recipes for this product on their website: BloomersFrose.com

VINI Sauvignon Blanc 2018 - Because it's Bulgarian Wine Months thanks to BulgarianWine.com, I'll be using this Bulgarian Sauvignon Blanc from Thracian Valley. This is a mellow Sauvignon Blanc with notes of citrus and tangerine, and perfect for this cocktail because it's not like you're getting punched in the face with pungent grapefruit like a New Zealand SB. For $10 it's hell of a deal.

Evan Williams Bourbon Whiskey - A very affordable bourbon, especially in smaller formats like nips, and my go-to when I'm making cocktails that call for bourbon.

WHAT YOU DO: 

1. Take those ingredients and ice, throw them in the blender, and blend it
2. Put it in a cup or glass
3. Drink up!
4. Let me know what you think!

WHERE TO GET THIS STUFF:

Bloomers Frosé is available online at BloomersFrose.com
VINI Sauvignon Blanc is available online at BulgarianWine.com
Evan Williams is available at your local liquor store

See more Bloomer Frosé recipes at BloomersFrose.com

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Wine Review: Domaine Boyar Traminer 2018

Domaine Boyar Traminer 2018

It's the Fifth Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.comYou can read all of the content and reviews from Bulgarian Wine Month under the Bulgaria label.

To read about the fascinating history of Bulgarian wine, check out Bulgaria - Part 1: Three-Thousand Years of Wine History. To learn about the grapes, wine regions and Bulgarian wine's place in the market, read Part 2: The Current State of Bulgarian Wine. And if you'd like to see what Bulgaria's national drink is all about, find out in Part 3: Invincibility of Rakia.

This is the fourth vintage that I've had of this wine and every time I do it gets better. I gave the 2013 vintage a 2/5, the 2015 vintage a 3/5, and the  2016 vintage a 4.5/5. So, needless to say, I'm pretty excited about tasting this one and seeing where it's going now.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Spirits Quickie: Villa Yambol Yambolska Grape Brandy Rakia

August is The Fifth Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com


This rakia is one of the most popular products by Villa Yambol, a Bulgarian winery that I've reviewed plenty of wines from, and it's made from the indigenous grapes Red Misket, Rkatsiteli and Dimyat. It's a little rough and simplistic (grapes and toffee) so it's more of a shooter or blender than a sip-and-savor, but honestly it is pretty much what it's supposed to be. For $22 you get a 1 liter bottle of brandy to get you where you want to go on the intoxication scale without getting fancy or expensive. Hell yeah, there's nothing wrong with that! I found that putting it on the rocks in a tumbler cuts down on the roughness and brings out a bit of sweetness, so I've been enjoying it quite a bit that way.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Wine Review: Rupel Winery Gramatik Marselan 2015

Rupel Winery Gramatik Marselan 2015

It's the Fifth Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.comYou can read all of the content and reviews from Bulgarian Wine Month under the Bulgaria label.

To read about the fascinating history of Bulgarian wine, check out Bulgaria - Part 1: Three-Thousand Years of Wine History. To learn about the grapes, wine regions and Bulgarian wine's place in the market, read Part 2: The Current State of Bulgarian Wine. And if you'd like to see what Bulgaria's national drink is all about, find out in Part 3: Invincibility of Rakia.

Rupel Winery
Rupel Winery is located in the Rupel Gorge on the slopes of the Durylovitsa, and you can see the Angistro mountains of Northern Greece from their vineyards. Times were tough in this area after the Greek army burned much of it down to the ground during the Second Balkan War in 1913, and phylloxera hit it pretty hard around then too, but they persevered and stuck to their traditional culture of viticulture and winemaking. With respect and love of their ancestral lands, Rupel began restoring old vineyards and planting them with new vines in 2006. Gramatik is one of their labels with a pretty extensive lineup of different wines.

So how about that Marselan? Ever heard of that grape? Marselan is not an indigenous Bulgarian variety, but a French one that is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. First bred near the French town of Marseillan, it's now mostly planted in the Languedoc and recently has gained popularity in China. I myself have never had a Marselan so this is a first for me.

Unfortunately I have no winemaking notes on this particular Bulgarian Marselan other than that it comes out of the Valley of Struma in the Thracian Lowlands, and it has an ABV of 14.5%.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Wine Quickie: Domain Boyar Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

August is The Fifth Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com


(Region: Thracian Valley, Bulgaria) The last vintage I reviewed of this wine I gave a 1 out 5, which is why I made my write-up on this vintage a quickie instead of a full review, and unfortunately the trend of not liking it at all continues. Again, it's like someone left a chalk ball in the barrels. It's also just flat with an uninteresting fruit profile and a higher acidity than it can handle. Unbalanced and flabby.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Wine Review: Orbelus Melnik 2013


It's the Fifth Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.comYou can read all of the content and reviews from Bulgarian Wine Month under the Bulgaria label.

To read about the fascinating history of Bulgarian wine, check out Bulgaria - Part 1: Three-Thousand Years of Wine History. To learn about the grapes, wine regions and Bulgarian wine's place in the market, read Part 2: The Current State of Bulgarian Wine. And if you'd like to see what Bulgaria's national drink is all about, find out in Part 3: Invincibility of Rakia.

Near the border of Greece in the Struma Valley of the Bulgarian Thracian Lowlands is a town called Melnik, and that town has an indigenous black grape variety named after it that Struma is known for. Even after five years of tasting all of these Bulgarian wines this is the first time that I will actually try a Melnik. As I said a few reviews ago, August is my favorite month on the blog because of stuff like this. Where would I ever come across a Bulgarian Melnik on Cape Cod? Let's waste no further type and start drinkin'!

Orbelus, the producer of this Melnik, was founded in 2000 with the mission to "produce high quality red and white wines in a nature conscious manner, guaranteeing its products’ ecological purity." So, naturally, they are Certified Organic under the laws of Bulgaria.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Spirits Quickie: Pomorie Muskatova Grape Brandy Rakia

August is The Fifth Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com



Aaaah yes! Now we're talking! I've got some Rakia, AKA Bulgarian brandy, right here in front of me... so I've got to be careful because I looooooooove brandy. I don't know if you know this about me but I'm a total lightweight. Spirits will knock me right on my ass. That's probably why I'm a wine guy with an occasional beer hobby. I do believe that this rakia is not just brandy but it's also a grappa, which is a brandy distilled from the must/waste left over from making wine.

So this one is made from the Muscat grape. There's notes of baked apple, dried apricot, vanilla, and other baking spices. It's medium bodied, has a long lasting finish that coats your entire mouth with a thick layer of baked apples and a fiery peppery kick, that then delivers a comforting warmth to your belly. It performs better sipping neat than on the rocks, and for $23 it's a great deal for the quality that you get. If you're interested in trying it yourself than head on over to BulgarianWine.com!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Wine Review: Minkov Brothers Cuvee 2016


It's the Fifth Annual Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.comYou can read all of the content and reviews from Bulgarian Wine Month under the Bulgaria label.

That's right! Half a decade! August is my favorite month of the year because of this annual event and it really is the most special thing about this wine blog. I'm so proud to bring Bulgarian Wine Month to you for this long and to have a great working relationship with Vance, even if it just once a year. Thank you, buddy! Cheers to many more!

To read about the fascinating history of Bulgarian wine, check out Bulgaria - Part 1: Three-Thousand Years of Wine History. To learn about the grapes, wine regions and Bulgarian wine's place in the market, read Part 2: The Current State of Bulgarian Wine. And if you'd like to see what Bulgaria's national drink is all about, find out in Part 3: Invincibility of Rakia.

Minkov Brothers was founded in 1875 by Ivan, Vasil and Nikifor Minkov. Soon after getting off the ground (or in it?) they started winning awards at wine fairs. In the mid-1890's alone they won Brussels Wine Fair, the London Wine Competition, and the Plovdiv International Fair. They're still raking in those medals today. The winery property itself also features two museums: one about the family history and their wine, and the other about the winemaking history of the Thracian Valley.

The 2013 vintage of this wine ranked in my top five wines for the summer of 2018 and even though we're only skipping one year ahead on the blog, we're skipping a whole three vintages ahead for the wine. Will the 2016 vintage perform just as well?

Thursday, August 1, 2019

August Wine Pick: Cusmano Oceano Moscato

Cusmano Oceano Moscato

Even though my Wine Pick of the Month is from Italy, August is the FIFTH ANNUAL Bulgarian Wine Month thanks to BulgarianWine.com! That's AMAZING! August may be my most favorite month to taste and write on this blog because I get to explore all the goodies that Vance has sent me from Bulgaria. It's always a fun and interesting time and I am so happy that we've kept this very special thing going for half a decade now!

Things have been moving fast on the blog lately but it will slow down a bit this month as I focus all content on Bulgarian wine with a few exceptions. It's looking like Wine Bloggers Off-Topic would be better served as a bi-monthly project instead of monthly, which makes the next installment due in August, so I'll try to get issue #3 of that series out too if it works for everybody (it didn't work out in July). The topic is "your most inspirational historic figure", so email me at joeycasco80@gmail.com if you want to get in on it. And there will be some quickies thrown in there randomly that are Bulgarian unrelated, just to fit them in to summertime.

Now on to that Wine Pick of the Month! It's a sweet and succulent Moscato from Italy that will keep you going through the oppressive heat of August! Satisfaction guaranteed!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Wine Quickie: Artezin Old Vine Zinfandel 2017


Artezin is Hess Family's ode to the craft of Zinfandel, and for $16 it's one of my favorite suggestions for Zins in the $15 to $20 price range. This wine is 85% Zinfandel and 15% Petite Sirah out of Mendocino and sustainably farmed. It's garnet in color with violet highlights. There's a lot of tarragon on the nose along with plums, pomegranate, black table pepper, and black iced coffee. On the palate it's full bodied and rich, has soft and sweet tannin, and flavors of plums, raspberries, cinnamon, and tarragon. And I gotta say it is pairing INCREDIBLY well with this Gouda! Good stuff!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Wine Review: Marshall Davis Chardonnay 2017

Marshall Davis Chardonnay 2017

The silhouettes featured on the label are the three brother who founded Marshall Davis six years ago; Sean Davis, Ryan Marshall and Matt Marshall. They have eight acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vines surrounding their home near Carlton in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA of the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Their vineyard is planted with 101-104 rootstock, with Dijon 777, Pommard, Dijon 114, and Mariafeld clones. It's 450 feet above sea level in elevation and faces south-southwest on volcanic topsoil.

Their 2017 Estate Chardonnay is barrel fermented and aged for 16 months in French oak (15% new). Only 150 cases were produced and it has an ABV of 13.2%. Again, I apologize, but this full review is going to be a quick one as I have little time at the moment.

Monday, July 29, 2019

"Wine" Quickie: Shao Xing Huadew Chinese Rice Wine


We've been getting a lot of customers at work lately looking for "rice wine" to cook with, so there must be some trending recipe out there that calls for it. Naturally you'd think they were talking about Sake, and one of Sake's nicknames is rice wine, but the kind that they're looking for is Chinese and used in A LOT of Chinese dishes. Chinese rice wine is produced entirely different than Sake, thus it's completely different in every way. For example, Sake is considered too sweet to use in the dishes that require rice wine but Fino Sherry is suggested as the best alternative. The contrast between Sake and Fino Sherry couldn't possibly be more enormous! But, upon tasting this rice wine, it's immediately apparent why Fino Sherry is suggested as an alternative because rice wine has the same oxidized profile, high alcohol, acidity, and body weight as Fino Sherry. But, and I can't speak for all rice wine since this is the only one I've ever had, it's got A LOT of bitter dark chocolate, prunes, and soy sauce in it's profile. So yeah! Rice wine is not in any way like Sake! Oh, and my thoughts about drinking this rice wine? YUCK!!!! It got better when I chilled the crap out of it with ice in a Yeti, but I would stick to just cooking with it. Maybe it'll work well in a coffee, though. Hmmm...

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Wine Review: Pagos de Galir Godello 2017


I've got two wines lined up for review by Pagos de Galir. First I reviewed their 2016 Mencia and now I'm on to the 2017 Godello. Unfortunately these are rather quick reviews due to time constraints when they had to be written.

From www.VirgenDelGalir.comThe Virgen del  Galir winery was founded in 2002 in a valley of the Galir river, in Éntoma, a small village in Orense, Galicia, Northern Spain. The “Camino de Santiago” crosses through this village. Virgen del Galir is a member of the Valdeorras DO. This semi-forgotten region has extraordinary vineyards. Virgen del Galir owns 20 hectares of vineyards on practically as many plots, on a valley of the Galir river. Altitude is over 600m. The ground is made up almost entirely of decomposed schist on terraces.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Wine Quickie: Archer Roose's White & Red Spritz


Spritz is a line of low-alcohol, gluten free (a-duh), vegan, organic, canned sparkling wines by Archer Roose. Say that three times fast. The white, which I actually like, is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Malvasia. It's light and crisp and refreshing with flavors of citrus and melon. It's just a non-serious thirst quencher. The red is a Lambrusco with flavors of cherries, blackberries and a chalky minerality. I really didn't like it at all when I first tried it chilled, but throwing some ice in there and stirring it up did make it drinkable. The red isn't for everybody, but I'll pound back one of those whites any day.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Wine Review: Pagos de Galir Mencía 2016


I've got two wines lined up for review by Pagos de Galir. First it's the 2016 Mencía that I'm reviewing right now and then up next is the 2017 Godello. Unfortunately these will be rather quick due to time constraints when they had to be written.

From www.VirgenDelGalir.com: The Virgen del  Galir winery was founded in 2002 in a valley of the Galir river, in Éntoma, a small village in Orense, Galicia, Northern Spain. The “Camino de Santiago” crosses through this village. Virgen del Galir is a member of the Valdeorras DO. This semi-forgotten region has extraordinary vineyards. Virgen del Galir owns 20 hectares of vineyards on practically as many plots, on a valley of the Galir river. Altitude is over 600m. The ground is made up almost entirely of decomposed schist on terraces.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Wine Quickie: Chanmé Frosé 2018 by Frozen Frogs


I was not fully able to enjoy Chanmé Frosé over our little family vacation because my wife instantly laid claim to it and holy crap SHE LOVED IT! I did have a sip and I have to agree: It's pretty darn delicious and PERFECT for pool and beach time. Basically it's a lightly sweetened rosé with added natural flavors specifically meant for you to freeze into basically a slushy. Then you can suck it right out of the pouch with a straw. C'mon, don't get all snooty nosed. This is all about fun and cooling off, and Chanmé Frosé delivers.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Celebrate Wine & Cheese Day with California's Fastest Growing Wine

California Rosé Paired with Recipe from the new "Wine Country Table" Cookbook by Award-Winning Napa Author Janet Fletcher

Guest post by the Wine Institute

SAN FRANCISCO — To help you celebrate National Wine & Cheese Day (THIS THURSDAY, JULY 25th!!!) on trend, California’s Wine Institute shares this recipe—paired with the state’s hottest summer wine, California Rosé-- from their new book “Wine Country Table: With Recipes that Celebrate California’s Sustainable Harvest” by award-winning Napa author Janet Fletcher.

 In 2018, Rosé continued  to show phenomenal growth, with sales volume in the U.S. jumping 46% compared to 2017. Formerly considered just a casual sipper, winemakers have given rosé more serious treatment in recent years, creating an amazing variety of still and sparkling Rosés that suit a variety of tastes and show great diversity—pairing with just about any course throughout the year. Wine lovers can find the perfect fit with options from dry, sweet, pale and dark to light-bodied, intense, sparkling and still versions.

This recipe, featured on page 274 in the book, features a light, savory frittata with sheep cheese—a cheese more special than your everyday cheese but still readily available.

FRITTATA WITH BROCCOLI RABE AND SHEEP CHEESE
WINE SUGGESTION: California Rosé or California Sauvignon Blanc

This warm frittata makes a nourishing lunch or rustic first course; accompany with a tuft of lightly dressed salad greens, if you like. Leftover frittata can be sliced and tucked inside a length of baguette with some soft lettuce and a swipe of mayonnaise.

- SERVES 3 FOR LUNCH OR 4 AS A FIRST COURSE


INGREDIENTS
3⁄4 pound (375 g) broccoli rabe, tough stems trimmed
6 large eggs
1⁄2 cup (35 g) grated aged sheep’s milk cheese, such as
Bellwether Farms Pepato or pecorino romano
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the broccoli rabe and boil until just tender,

about 3 minutes. Drain in a sieve and cool quickly under cold running water. Drain and squeeze well to remove excess moisture. Chop coarsely. Measure out 1 1∕2 cups (250 g) chopped broccoli and reserve the remainder for another use.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until blended, then whisk in the cheese, salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Stir in the broccoli rabe. Heat a 10-inch (25 cm) nonstick frying pan over medium heat, then add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the egg mixture and use a rubber spatula to spread into an even layer. Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Cook without stirring until the frittata is about two-thirds set, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to the oven and bake just until the frittata feels firm on top and has puffed slightly, 9 to 10 minutes. Immediately slide the frittata onto a cutting board or wooden serving board. The frittata should slip out easily, but if not, use a rubber spatula to loosen it. Let cool for 15 minutes, then slice into wedges and serve.

TRIMMING TIP: The thick stems of broccoli rabe are often more tender than the thin stems. If a stem feels tough or woody, remove it. Otherwise, just trim any dry ends.

Image result for wine instituteAbout the Wine Institute

Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group for California wineries, which produce 80 percent of U.S. wine and account for more than 95 percent of U.S. wine exports. As the nation’s number one state for wine and food tourism and 139 American Viticultural Areas, California attracts 24 million visitors to its wine regions each year.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Jeanne Sullivan, PR Agency

Monday, July 22, 2019

Wonton Tacos Recipe!

Wonton Tacos!

It's Monday and that means tomorrow is Taco Tuesday! Instead of using regular taco shells, I'm gonna show you how to make taco cups with wontons! It's one of our favorite meals in Casa Casco and I swear it's about to be a favorite in your home as well.

WHAT YOU NEED

Ground beef
Taco seasoning
Uncooked wontons
Salsa
Shredded Mexican cheese
Your favorite fixin's like lettuce and jalapenos, etc
Nonstick spray
A muffin pan

WHAT YOU DO

1. Set your oven to 375˚F
2. Cook that beef in a pan with the tacos seasoning
3. Spray the muffin pan with nonstick spray
4. Place two wontons in each muffin pocket, but with the corners of the top one aligned with the sides of the bottom one (see pictures)
5. Put some taco meat in each cup
6. Sprinkle some cheese for melting on there too
7. Bake until the wonton corners start to turn brown. Be very careful and watch closely because they can go from perfectly crispy to burnt in moments.
8. Serve it up!

Yeah, man. These little things are just sooooo goooood. Enjoy!

Wonton Tacos!

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