This is a young sommelier's adventure through wine, liquor and the world. You will find no ratings here. You will find somethings that are sometimes geeky, sometimes irreverent, and always presented in my own unique (and dyslexic) way. Hopefully, the content inspires exploration, a sense of adventure, a good icebreaker for conversation, and even a good sense of humor about the magical juice we call wine, the insane elixirs of ting the world of liquor, and the culture surrounding all of it. .

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sandrone "Valmaggiore" Nebbiolo

It is time for a Nebbiolo of  different kind. For those new to the grape, nebbiolo is mostly grown in the northwestern region of Piedmont. It is known as one of the "noble" grapes of Italy, mainly because of the amazing wines that are made from it in the subregions of Barolo and Barbaresco. These two wines are extremely sought after and normally also come with a hefty price tag. However, these are not the only regions to produce nebbiolo. The one today is from Alba.
Sandrone, who is also known for their Barolo (most notable being the Cannubi), makes this 100% nebbiolo and ages it in new oak. The "Valmaggiore" is the wine they produce to give people an idea of what their nebbiolo will be like from year to year. They don't age it quite as long as they do their Barolo, making this a much more approachable and drinkable wine right now. It is ripe with fruits like dark cherry and plumbs, has a great rustic quality on both the nose and palate (in other words, it does smell kind of like dirty, but in the best way possible), and the tannins to have some grip, making the wine slightly chewy. However, all of those things combine to make a very drinkable wine, with or without food. So if you have ever wondered what Barolo and Barbaresco are like, this would be a good introduction for you to see if it is something you like. Happy Sippin'!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Flashback to Childhood with Some Duckhorn

So, now is the time for a bit of a blast from the past. I have been sick for the las few days, and have not done much other than lounge around, search the web, catch up on all my shows (that Glee finally...WOW), and sleep. However, I got a call to go to lunch with a rep from Duckhorn, and this is on thing I can't often turn down.

A little history: Duckhorn was really the first wine I knew about. My father would travel to Chicago and almost every week would talk about these Duckhorn wines especially Paraduxx. To me, these meant nothing, but then I started working with wine and I starting to get it. These wines are both well made and playful. They were such a part of me growing up that my dad was given a bottle of the merlot for the year I was born, which we enjoyed a few Thanksgivings ago.

Today, I was able to taste down the line of Duckhorn's wines, but I really wanted to highlight 3 of them. The reason I point these out is because these are the three wines that really made Duckhorn that special thing for me.

We start with Goldeneye, their higher end pinot noir. This wine is gritty and earthy, with lush fruits and subtile spices that drive the finish into a wonderful place. It is a great great wine for special occasions or just a killer wine to drink every day.

The second in the merlot. I will tout merlot here as much as possible in an effort to break the stigma set by Sideways. While they might not like "f*cking merlot", I DO. This '09 merlot is brighter and more vibrant than the pinot. The fruits are lush and sweet, the tannins are smooth, and the finish is lush and lingering. This was their flagship wine for a good reason.

And now on to Paraduxx. This blend was something that Duckhorn became famous not because of the wine, but because of the labels that were designed by different artists each year, always featuring two ducks. They have now changed the label to a more consistent label, which it ok (I will miss the new labels). This vintage is 69% Zin and the remainder is Cab. This is a playful wine, bright with fruits, big tannins, and baking spices that make this wine dance on your tongue. It's a great every day wine, or one that will help warm you up as winter comes to a close.

Go grab one of these and hopefully you'll see why they were a big part of my development as a somm. Happy sipping!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A little more First Growth Action

This time, a 1975 Chateau Latour. These wines always amaze me. It is always crazy to drink a wine that is older than you. It is hard to put an experience to a wine from a year that you were never born; no context, no life experience, no conception to what was going on in the world. Just the wine in the bottle and what you think; kind of daunting.

But, aside from that, the wine itself was insanely cool. It was on its decline, but even so had some great properties. The earthy qualities mixed with the raisined fruit made this a real example of what aged wine is; subtile, haunting, and incredibly interesting. If you get the chance to try something like this, take it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Interview with Aurelio Montes

Here is my interview from the hilltops above Montes Winery with wine maker Aurelio Montes. Hope you enjoy this interview and learn a bit about this amazing winery.

Monday, February 13, 2012

First Annual Sommelier Showdown

So, last Thursday (February 9th) was the first annual Sommelier Showdown at the Food & Wine Festival in DC. This showdown featured 5 local sommeliers going head to head with blind tasting. We had 9 wines and 20 minutes to identify them...Not an easy task. We had 3 white wines and 6 reds. The person who identified the most wines in the least time correctly, wins. Sounds simple right? Not so much!

No one got all of the wines right. Brent from Adour won with 7 wines right, Elli from Chef Geoff's came in second with 6 and I brought in third with my 5 right. Never have I been so excited to get a 60% (or almost, I rounded up!) Here are some of the pictures from the event. Hopefully, next year will be just as fun and maybe, a win for this DC Somm! And for those playing at home...look closely, those are PBR Cufflinks!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Chianti of a different kind

So tonight, something super cool. While making pasta, I decided to snag a bottle out of the cellar and unwind. Tonight, it was a Chianti. Now, you might think "Chianti...super cool...not so much". However, this is not your typical chianti. This is from a specific region in Tuscany named Colli Fiorentini. Colli Fiorentini is one of the rival sub regions of Chianti Classico, both located in the larger DOCG of Chianti (and people wonder why Italian wines are confusing...). One of the best parts about this region is the fact that it is close to Florence, marked by the "Firenze" on the bottle. Instead of the black rooster that is used to represent Chianti Classico, Colli Fiorentini is represented by a black lion with a glass of wine, as seen above. One of the top wine makers of the region is famous for saying that "one day, the black lion will eat the black rooster, and the whole world will know of Colli Fiorentini". Gotta love that kind of confidence.

With Fattoria di Lucignano, they might be a lot closer than one might think. This wine is lush with bright berries, plums, light baking spices from from oak aging, and the acids and tannins are soft and give it just enough complexity to leave you wanting more. Seek one of these out to see how cool this region is.

Here is a bit more information on this wine: Fattoria di Lucignano

A little taste of Italy

From a tasting done yesterday at Ripple:

Brunello and Sagrantino, two tastes of epic tradition in Italy. Now most people know about Brunello. It is one of the most lauded wines made in Tuscany, and for a good reason. It's elegance is unrivaled and the flavors as almost haunting. They typically have wonderful cherries and figs, mixed with earth and an amount of baking spices that feels almost like a chef put them there. The La Poderina exemplifies all of that.

One thing to know about it: the 2006 is heralded as on of the best vintages in recent memory because of the ability to drink now, or hold and drink later. This wine shows of all of the qualities of Brunello, but is also light enough that is can do without food and be a great sipping wine on its own. Below is the link for wine searcher about the wine:

La Poderina Brunello 06

And then, there was the Sagrantino. This in one of my favorite wines from one of my favorite regions. Sagrantino is one of the main grapes in Umbria's region of Montefalco. This region makes a lot of different wines, but red wise is known for two different ones: Rosso di Montefalco and Sagrantino di Montefalco. The Rosso is usually a blend involving Sangiovese and Sagrantino. Sagrantino on it's own is a hugely bold wine, with intense tannins, ripe fruits, and gritty earth. When blended with the softer Sangiovese, the fruits become lush, the finish velvety and soft, and the tannins are fare less intense. In other words, it makes the wine a lot easier to drink on its own.

The Colpetrone Sagrantino was a huge wine, perfect for the current cold weather in DC. It screams for food such as lamb and is perfect for a warm stew and a fire. If you like big wines that grab your attention, or want something interesting to set down for a while, this wine is the perfect one.

Here is the link for the Colpetrone 2007 from the tasting:

Colpetrone Sagrantino 2007

Monday, February 6, 2012

Chile Tastings and Tours

All of the different tastings we did throughout the trip. Over 300 wines...insane amount but wonderful to see the difference in every part of Chile. It really was eye opening.

Chile Trip Entertainment Video

Video of all of the food we ate and things we did besides the wine tastings. They feed us WAY too much that trip!!

Summary of the Chile Trip

This is of everything we did on the trip.

Chile Tours Video

Video of the tours we took through Chile. This will give you an idea of exactly how many places we went that trip and how insane it was.

End of Chile Video

The wine video taken at the end of my Chile Trip. Hopefully the one from Montes with my interview will be up soon too. Enjoy!