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, March 22, 2012

A true P-Funk Allstar: Cederberg Bukettraube

Ok, the title says it all for this one. This wine is a funky wine and a half. Until about a year ago, I had not ever heard of this grape, but is a super cool one. The wine is from South Africa, leaving the feelings of skepticism developed from pinotage behind and bring something for wine drinkers everywhere to search for. This is the bukettraube for Cederberg. 

Cederberg is actually the only "wine farm" (not called wineries or vineyards in SA) in the Cederberg ward, or WO, is the Western Cape region of South Africa. Confused? I should have put up a wine geek warning but, since I didn't. allow me to explain. Think of the food pyramid. The bottle level would be the world, the next level would be Africa and so on until you get to South Africa. Now, after that, the next level would be the Western Cape, much like it would be Napa Valley in California. The final level would be Cederberg ward, like Rutherford would be a more specific place in Napa. Make more sense? The Cederberg ward is a highly specific place on the west coast of South Africa because it is essentially a green oasis in the middle of very hot and very desolate hills. Here, they are able to grow a variety of wines, including chard, sauv blanc, chenin blanc, pinotage, syrah (or shiraz to them), and cab. The heat means that the fruits get ultra ripe and rich with sugars and fruit. However, the coolest by far is the Bukettraube.

Prounouced boo-ki-trab, it was once widely planted around Europe. As is the case with a lot of different things from Europe, there is a fight over where it was first discovered, although France and Germany have the most compelling cases as they were the only two countries that were known to have grown the parent grapes of this wine. However, while the origins are certainly important, it is the way it tastes that makes all the difference. 

This wine is an amazing wine for summer. It reminds me of a dry riesling, with tropical flavors, a little sweetness, and some nice bright acidity to keep it in balance. If it wasn't so good on its own, I would say it would be great to make a white sangria out of it. However, PLEASE DON'T DO IT!!! Let this wine sing and dance on your tongue and you will not regret it. Every sip is just as enjoyable as the last. This wine truly is a P-Funk Allstar and I am glad to give it that distinction!

Here is their website: Ceberberg wines

A little Oregon time

Well, its time to talk a little about one of my favorite places for wine: Oregon. Until recently, it was largely overlooked by wine lovers as a wine region to get good wine from. However, the secret is out and people are looking to Oregon for both great values over their California counterparts and some killer wine. Sineann is a great example of some of that insane wine. 

Sineann (pronounced Shi - Nane) is run by Peter Rosback. He is a down to earth kind of guy in all senses of the word. His wines express the sense of place to a point that they are all extremely unique from the other. From pinots, blends, whites and desserts, they all show something different and pretty damn cool. Each wine has a label as unique as the wine itself, all designed by Peter's wife.  Another amazing thing is that they have no corks. They have glass stoppers in all of their wines. They are a German closure that is supposed to rival that of the screw top in terms of seal and aging ability, while not using cork. Kinda cool and reusable!

This particular wine is the Schindler Vineyard pinot noir from Willamette. This wine has a little age to it and has seen some oak. This oak helps give the wine some spice that helps balance out the lush and bright red berries in this wine. It is a delicious wine to pair with light dishes and also for just sipping away on a great day. Grab a few of their wines to see the difference in how they are made and how good they really are. 

Here is their site: Sineann

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Time for a little Spanish Flair

Well, tonight I was feeling like it was time to enjoy something that I hadn't had in a while: a little taste of Spain. Now, I have not had Spanish wine in a while only because I have been around mostly Italian wine, so don't start to get insulted all you Spanish wine lovers. But, I dug into the cellar and found a bottle that I honestly forgot I had, and decided to treat myself. That wine was the Vega Sicilia's Pintia, second label to the famed and amazing Unico.

I was having trouble really writing about the wine in a way that didn't sound as if I were writing in the 1900's or in sonnet, so I decided to consult the website of Vega Sicilia for a little help. What they say about this amazing wine this:

Polished, Charismatic.
Impeccable quality. In spite of its youth, it exudes a personality worthy of the big names, destined for success.

After reading this, I realized that maybe me trying to describe it might be even better, as that tells you essentially nothing about the wine itself. So here we go....a little wine geek and a little bit of fun (the perfect balance with a pinch of sarcasm...makes one delicious meal)

Pintia is from a region of Spain called Toro. Toro is known for a lot of different grapes, but the big one is the grape Spain is quickly becoming known for (although not to the extreme that Argentina and Malbec have become joined at the hip): Tempranillo. Tempranillo defines whole regions in Spain and gives complexity to wines of others. It is a chameleon of sorts, but is a super cool red wine grape. This wine highlights the magic of Tempranillo and gives a huge kick with 15% alcohol. I opened this wine, tasted it and immediately pushed the bottle away from me. The reason I did was that it needed a lot of time to settle down and be approachable, yet right at first taste was too delicious to deny wanting to drink more. The huge berry and plum fruits, mixed with Goliath sized tannins made this wine a monster at the outset. The finish was juicy and lush that lulls you into wanting to drink more. It is almost like putting Shaq in a glass: Huge and unapproachable at first, but welcoming almost irresistible after you get to talking. I decided to turn to my perfect manhattan to allow the wine to calm down. And was it ever worth it. The berries exploded out of the glass, almost as if they were vine ripened, and the tannins decided to stop being so arrogant. The finish became smooth, almost like a velvet painting. I had it with lamb, with was perfect. The slight gamey quality of the lamb was completely washed away by the boisterous tannins and the fruit and jus sang in perfect harmony. It was almost like watching a diva off...both were huge and wanted center stage, but together they make one damn good show. 

If you have the chance to enjoy any wines from Vega Sicilia, I suggest opening them about 2 hours before you want to enjoy. They are monsters, and without the proper time to take a breather, they don't do these wines justice. 

Here is the site for all of the wines:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A little white for summer and some red because I can

Sorry for the lack of video of this post, but hopefully the pictures and me talking about the wine will help inspire a little exploration and some enjoyment on your part.

So, we start with the white. For anyone on the east coast, especially DC, then you experienced a March like we have not seen in some time. There has not been a March that I remember recently that has seen 80 degrees, and an 80 that was honestly the prefect day. The coats are being but away, and the summer clothing, tans, and for me, freckles, are coming out. It made you feel like a west coaster, with the addition of the Capital Building in the back ground.

Given the crazy, and amazing weather, it makes sense to start the night with a glass of white. Now, you know I love bubbles, but I thought that white would be the best way to ring in the summer. So I began with a small wine from Cotes de Gascogne, a region also known for cognac.

This wine is not a complicated wine. You will not drink this and be blown away by the layers of flavor and intricate qualities of it. And yet, is that what you want when the weather gets warm? Summer is about thinking about being outside and enjoy the company you keep, not about the subtile peach flavors in your wines. This blend of Uni Blanc and Colombard will certainly hep you check two wines of your "Century Club" list, but not a wine that screams complexity. If you are a Sauv Blanc lover, then you will be crazy over this wine. It is bright, fresh, and slightly fruit forward, without any crazy sugar or grassy tones. Just good, simple wine.

After cooling down with the Domaine de Pouy, it was time to enjoy something a little more cerebral. For that, I reached into the cellar for a 2004 Tenuta L'Illuminata Barolo. On the outset, this wine was like drinking a Sour Patch Kid without the sugar. There were super sour fruits, super light tannins, and extreme acids. But, I continued to drink the glass while I was writing this. I am glad I did. It opened like the promises of spring that the weather brought today. The fruits brightened into sweet fruit, the tannins gipped and let you know they were there, and the acids chilled out. It balanced in a way that made this glass of wine the perfect to end the night on a high note. It lulls you into relaxation and comfort, almost like snug blanket that you burrow in on a Sunday. 

Hopefully some more stimulating visuals soon, but until then...Happy Sipping!!!!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Movia Puro

So, I found another video for you and this one is super cool, but also super wine geeky. Here is why I say this; it is a video of me opening a bottle of Movia Puro Rose, a sparkling with for Italy's Collio region (or Slovenia. The winery actually spans the boarder, of the two countries, so different wine lists will say different things about it....Confused yet?). Now, this doesn't sounds like a very special thing at first, but there is something about this wine that you have to understand; it must be opened under water. You read this right, underwater. Now, the reason this is a requirement is that there is still dead yeast in the bottle from the wine making process.

A note of context for you...WINE INFO ALERT! WINE INFO ALERT! If you are averse to reading actual wine information, then enjoy the video and I'll see you next posting. Otherwise, read on. When making sparkling wine in the traditional method (i.e. Champagne), there are two steps to fermentation. The first step is usually in steal tanks or wooden barrels, or some combination of both. That first fermentation is done to actually make the wine and produce alcohol (otherwise you would just have bubbly grape juice, great for our under age readers). After that fermentation is finished and the wine has seen the amount of oak to the wine makers liking, the wine maker will begin the second fermentation. Usually, this involves adding a little bit of sweet wine to their product, so that there will be some amount of sugar for the yeast to feast on. They then bottle the wine with new, living yeast, cap it, and allow the yeast to do its work. The bi-product of the yeast eating is not more alcohol, but gas, in the form of small, bright bubbles.

Now, most wine makers then do a process called disgorging, where they get the yeast cells out of the wine by either freezing the very top of the bottle, trapping the yeast cells in the ice and then releasing it, or by skillfully opening the bottle after the yeast cells have rested in the cap at the top. Either way, you are left with a yeast free bottle of bubbles to open and enjoy. However, in the Movia case, wine maker and sort of evil genius Ales Kristancic (no, he isn't Italian) has decided not to disgorge the bottles, leaving the yeast from the secondary fermentation in. He believes that this helps impart some of those deliciously yeasty flavors to the wine that we love in champagne, while also making the wine bone dry.

The opening under water is a way to free the yeast from the wine, thus allowing you to enjoy yeast free wine. The hardest part is the bottle slipping in your hand as you are trying to release the cork. Movia has designed a special tool to help with this and the tool much resembles a tire iron, so I opted for the easier, and perhaps more presentable method of my hand.

If you come across this wine, don't let the fear of opening it deter you. It is delicious and a super cool party trick. Hope you enjoy the video and happy sippin'.

Here is the link to Movia; make sure you translate it unless you know how to speak Slovenian.
Movia Wines